Must be May …

May 27, 2014
Herself enjoys the first ride of 2014 on her Soma Double Cross.

Herself enjoys the first ride of 2014 on her Soma Double Cross.

… I finally got Herself out on a bike.

 

In memoriam

May 26, 2014
Col. Harold Joseph O'Grady, USAF

Col. Harold Joseph O’Grady, USAF

I wonder what my old man would think about today’s United States of America, the descendant of the country he fought for in World War II. Would he even recognize the place?

Harold Joseph O’Grady was born in 1918, at the end of World War I — “The War to End All Wars” — so, having found himself suiting up for another one just a quarter century later, he might not be surprised to find the nation still embroiled in its longest war ever, in Afghanistan.

The nation asked a lot of the old man back when he was still a young fella — 668 hours of combat time, flying out of New Guinea with the 65th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group — but it paid him back, too, with a 30-year gig, a generous pension and free health care.

As a career Air Force officer with a reputation for caring about and giving credit to his subordinates, he would’ve been seriously pissed that so many of today’s troops can’t make ends meet on what Uncle Sammy pays, that the VA has been jerking his people around, cooking the books to make paper-shufflers look good and veterans look dead, and that Congress only takes notice when the cameras (and the cash) are rolling.

As a conservative Southerner, he would’ve been appalled that there is so little attention devoted to actual conservation — not of the constitutional rights to shoot off your mouth or your machine gun, but of the basics — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, along with optional upgrades like serviceable roads and bridges, functional public schools, and a government that wouldn’t embarrass Albania.

As a guy with a sense of humor he might have asked, “Why did we fight a world war to save this country so you could treat it like a rental car?”

Shit, dude, we still can’t believe you gave us the keys.

 

 

 

Cloud 9 (in a series)

May 24, 2014
We seem to be in something very much like a monsoon season all of a sudden, which unless you're being washed down Fountain Creek certainly beats being on fire.

We seem to be in something very much like a monsoon season all of a sudden, which unless you’re being washed down Fountain Creek certainly beats being on fire.

Why, yes, I think it might sprinkle a bit. Why do you ask?

And later, it did.

Hail with a side salad

May 22, 2014
Our maple isn't quite down to its last leaf, but there's plenty of bald patches up there and more storms in the forecast.

Our maple isn’t quite down to its last leaf, but there’s plenty of bald patches up there and more storms in the forecast.

Herself and I spent some quality time together this morning, cleaning up the wreckage from yesterday’s blitzkrieg hailstorm.

I had to get up on the roof to broom off some of the detached greenery (and clear the gutters while I was at it). And then we set about collecting the stuff on the ground. This was about the time I decided that owning two-fifths of the block was something of a giant pain in the ass, or more specifically, the lower back.

We filled one of those big rolling trash bins and another smaller can with salad and sticks before saying the hell with it and going back indoors for lunch, after which we lost interest more or less permanently, especially since it looks like another storm may be blowing in here directly.

In other news, poor Cuddles lost his pretty pink shirt in the Giro. He has one flat stage for liver-gnawing purposes, tomorrow, before the ground tilts upward and the shit gets serious. Should be fun to watch. Rigoberto Uran Ran Ran Ran Da Doo Ran Ran looked tougher ‘n’ whang leather out there today, and taking time back from him will be like trying to steal stupid from Louie Gohmert.

Hail, hail, the hail’s all here

May 21, 2014
Hands down the worst hailstorm I've ever seen.

Hands down the worst hailstorm I’ve ever seen.

Well, that was a spot of fun. A massive hailstorm just roared through and beat the mortal shit out of every tree in the ‘hood.

Check out the size of those hailstones. Mind you, this is after they've melted a bit.

Check out the size of those hailstones. Mind you, this is after they’ve melted a bit.

Our house looks like Odin was displeased with dinner and threw his salad at it. The House Back East™, likewise.

I’m no arborist, so I have no idea how well, or if, our silver maple will recover from the pounding it took. Damn, I love that tree, too.

True to form, the sun is now out and it’s sandals-and-shorts weather.

 

The ‘OS’ in ‘OS upgrade’ doesn’t mean ‘Oh, shit!’

May 20, 2014

A while back I mentioned that I was contemplating kicking the old iBox into the future with an OS upgrade to Mavericks. Being both a sluggard and a paranoid, I never quite got around to it, until last night.

It was the perfect time, really. Monday was a rest day in the Giro; I’d wrapped the most recent review and video for Adventure Cyclist; and I didn’t have a BRAIN deadline until Thursday.

There was one evil omen (there always is). The ‘puter’s optical drive went spastic on me, as they apparently do in the iMac. Mine will read and play audio CDs, but spits out movie and software discs like an infant who won’t eat his puréed spinach. So if something went sideways during the install I wouldn’t have access to my original system discs (I was still running Snow Leopard, or OS X 10.6.8).

True, I had a belt-and-suspenders HD-backup system — both Time Machine and SuperDuper! — but being familiar with Murphy’s Law through bitter, painful experience, I decided to score an external optical drive, just in case.

I went Apple, of course, which means expensive — and in this case, inoperative. Seems their $79 disc-spinner won’t work with a pre-2012 iMac, and mine is a 2009 (read those system requirements, kids, and don’t forget to say your prayers). SuperDrive, me arse.

So I barreled over to Best Buy and picked up an LG for less than half that and it worked like a top. Suck it, Cupertino.

Then I reminded myself the worst that could happen was I’d get a chance to swear a lot and buy a new computer, and pulled the trigger. Ka-pow! Three hours later the old iBeast had a new brain. It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s aaaalllliiiiiiiive!

 

R.I.P., Don Gale, 1959-2014

May 19, 2014
The Mud Stud, boldly going, as usual.

The Mud Stud, boldly going, as usual.

An old crony from Santa Fe went west on Saturday in Utah. Don Gale finally lost his long battle with colon cancer.

Don was a cyclist, a skier, and a snowboarder, one of several real-life wrenches whose character traits I shamelessly exploited when creating my cartoon character the Mud Stud. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and I feel badly about that now. But we exchanged notes on Facebook recently, and I was struck by how how courageously he was pushing on to the Big Finish Line. “Inspirational” is a term that has become cliché, but not in Don’s case. He made death seem a part of life, which of course it is.

Happily, like most of the 7.2 billion people on the planet, Don did not require my close attention; he was surrounded by family and friends at the end. My condolences to those who knew and loved him.

On the sunny side of the … alley

May 14, 2014
The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

Colorado being Colorado, we’re cycling through a wide range of weather possibilities this week — cloudy, sunny, chance of thunderstorms, plague of toads; you get the idea.

Speaking of cycling, there’s a new bike in the garage. It’s a Bianchi Zurigo Disc, and it’s slotted in right behind the Salsa Vaya for review in Adventure Cyclist.

This is not your granddaddy’s touring bike. In fact, if you were to mistake it for a cyclo-cross bike, you’d be forgiven, in part because it’s named in honor of the 1967 ‘cross worlds in Zurich (won by Renato Longo of Italy) and in part because, well … because it’s a bloody cyclo-cross bike.

The $1,799 Zurigo has an aluminum frame and carbon fork, knobby Kenda Kwicker 700×32 tires, and a SRAM Apex 10-speed drivetrain (48/34 up front, 11-32 in back). But it also has eyelets for mounting fenders and a rear rack, so a quick-and-dirty, lightly loaded tour is not out of the question.

I hope to get one of those in here directly, if weather and work permit. We have something of a full plate here in Dog Country from May through July, and a little road trip would do wonders to flush out the headgear.

Got them Suburban Snowsick Blues

May 12, 2014
It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

The weather has been, shall we say, unsettled.

One minute a fella’s cycling around and about wearing little more than a bit of team kit marinated in sunscreen, and the next he’s huddled over a furnace grate in a snowmobile suit, Ruger Mini Thirty locked and loaded, ready to repel a terrorist yeti raid on his bacon and beans.

I made my preparations on Saturday, whipping up two steaming tureens of Southwestern fare, the first of a pork-and-potato-laden green chile stew and the second of pinto beans with onion, garlic and chipotle chile. To say the atmosphere has grown heavy indoors since would be an understatement of epic proportions.

The weather wizards were shrieking about inches and feet of white stuff, but this latest resurrection of winter proved to be not so much of a much. What little we got was heavy and wet, to be sure, and at one point I had to venture out with a broom to flog it off the tender branches of the young Canadian red cherry in the back yard.

This morning we have gray skies, temps below freezing, a stiff wind, and flurries, which is to say it’s May in Colorado. It caused me to compose a protest song in the style of Mr. Robert Zimmerman, though it’s tough to be musical without guitar, harmonica or talent. Still, I had a whang at it in an email to a friend and colleague in the mountains.

How much snow have you got there?
They said we’d get it everywhere
But mostly, down here below
the worst was that the wind did blow

It sucked, actually
Real cold
Movin’ t’Arizony

(squee honk blaat hoot snort honk twee)

 

Arrrgh!-yle

May 9, 2014

Ah, jaysis. Poor Dan Martin went down like a sack of spuds falling off a truck in a wet start to the Giro d’Italia today and is out of the hunt for the pink jersey.

Charles Pelkey and I were calling stage one at Live Update Guy — pop round and see us, we’re on for the duration — and I had just stepped away from the iMac and into the kitchen when half the Garmin-Sharp team hit the deck during the team time trial. No worries: I got to see it over and over and over again, along with shots of Martin in the classic broken-collarbone pose (one I know well). Ouch.

It’s always hard to judge a crowd from TV, but it looked like a hell of a turnout, despite what the Irish call “fine soft weather.” If only the tarmac were equally soft.

 


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