Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OT - Vote November 7th!!!

I don't speak for anyone but myself when I say that I'm thoroughly disgusted with the negative political ads floating around this election season, particularly the 'swift boat' types that come from unidentified political action groups rather than a candidate. I'm very tempted to vote FOR the candidates getting slimed by these anonymous groups, just becasue I'm feeling contrary. One ad touts a candidate as "too liberal for Oklahoma" something that I'd usually find laughable, because if anything, Oklahoma needs a stiff dose of liberalism, if only to drag it kicking and screaming into the twentieth century, let alone this one.

But put aside my bitching and moaning for a moment, and consider the duty that comes along with our right to vote. If anything, we should each have a basic idea of who our elected officials are and what they believe. An uninformed electorate is an electorate that is easily led (or misled). In an effort to counteract electoral illiteracy, the League of Women Voters has a voter's guide on their website. Now, this pertains to Oklahoma voters, but I'm sure that other states and municipalities have similar guides.

Compiled by the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan

Additional information is available online at www.lwvtulsa.org,
www.lwvok.org and www.okbar.org/public/judges.

Editorial Policy: This nonpartisan 2006 Voters’ Guide contains
information on all candidates running for office in the November 7
election as well as the State Questions. All answers including spelling,
punctuation and capital letters are exactly as written and are not edited
corrected in any way.

A quick heads up...

Online bicycle store is a fraud
BBB says many cheated by elusive scam artists

By Thomas Stauffer
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.31.2006

The Better Business Bureau is warning local bicyclists about a fraudulent Internet bike store that changes names quicker than some can change a flat tire.

The BBB of Southern Arizona has yet to receive complaints from Tucson-area residents about a company most recently operating under the name Steve's Cycling Store, and it wants to keep it that way, bureau spokeswoman Kim States said.

"We're wanting to give the cyclists in Southern Arizona a heads-up that this seems to a be a popular and lasting scam," States said. "We'd rather get the word out now to people before we get a complaint."

The company's Web site, www.steves-bikes.com, shows images of scores of bikes and several employees eager to serve you at a shop in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Trouble is, there are no bicycles or employees at Steve's Cycling Store in Cheyenne, because there is no such store in Cheyenne. The address listed on the Web site is actually the location of a large truck stop.

...Steve's — aka Todd's, George's, Kent's, Stan's, Jones', Max's, Moby's and possibly dozens other names — offers high-end bikes at ridiculously low prices on eBay, Read said. A common scenario is for a customer to call or e-mail about a particular bike, she said. When the customer asks about the eBay listing, he is told that rather than paying through conventional online sources, the company prefers that buyers use its own escrow service. The service is not legitimate, and the goods are never delivered, Read said.

To "prove" that a bicycle has been shipped and is on its way to a customer, the company often gives tracking numbers. While the tracking numbers are valid, the package that can be tracked is not a high-end bicycle but rather a very small, empty cardboard box, said Jack Ailion, owner of Alpharetta, Ga.-based Ibex Bicycles.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Saga of Ethel's Moped: A Wally Crankset Tale

They looked to be a tough bunch of flight attendants, willowy and coiffed, but Wally and I were just drunk enough to think that we could take them. The bar fell silent, waiting for the fight. We were a couple of middle-aged desperados with nothing to lose. Then Ethel walked in.

The events that led up to the confrontation started long ago. The swirling currents of small town life brought Wally and me in contact with Ethel, the flight attendants, a large quantity of alcohol, and the unusually tense atmosphere of Larry’s Café on that Friday night.

As I’ve explained previously, Fred is our chief of police in Broken Elbow. When the town council hired a deputy named Rufus Mertz, he just had to be nicknamed ‘Ethel’, a nickname that stuck. Ethel hated it. He was fond of giving out speeding tickets, jaywalking tickets, and even ran down all those threats to public order and decency who had overdue library books. Ethel was not liked.

In grade school, Rufus was known as "Rufus the Dufus". He hated that too, and in the usual unkind way of kids in the schoolyard, his displeasure only reinforced the name-calling. He was “The Dufus” all through his school career. Ethel was a pudgy kid, but as an adult, the rigorous life of a law enforcement professional and the high-calorie diet of late night coffee and donuts combined to see that his already ample waistline increased a bit more. Naturally, when he became one of our local cops, it was payback time.

Events conspired to make Ethel our first moped officer after the tragic Twinkie plant explosion. The loss of the factory took out a substantial portion of the town’s tax base. At least the town's arteries were healthier even if its finances were not. Ethel had been driving a wheezy old Pacer that was pressed into duty as a patrol car after our first – and so far, only – drug bust. So there was a certain sense of justice and even a bit of rejoicing when the Pacer went away and Ethel was demoted to that moped.

The car had belonged to Harry J., a retired chemistry teacher and now a professional alcoholic. Harry built a moonshine still in his backyard and one of his neighbors complained, probably because Harry wouldn't share. One night, Fred and Ethel busted him and told him they confiscated his car as “illegally obtained proceeds from his nefarious activities.” Harry knew a good thing when he saw it, and rather than pay someone to haul that ratty old car away, he gladly allowed our police officers to confiscate it.

Actually it had more to do with the simple fact that he routinely drove while intoxicated. But Harry was a conscientious and careful drunk driver. He didn't weave or speed. He stopped at every stop sign, sometimes falling asleep peacefully while the car idled until it ran out of gas. His ancient Pacer seldom got above 15 miles per hour.

After the bust, Harry promptly switched over to growing marijuana in the backyard instead, claiming it was his 'arthur-itis' medicine. This time he shared and the neighbors kept mum. But Harry took the Twinkie factory explosion very hard. He was a big fan of the product. He actually cried when the supermarket ran out of Pepsi over the Fourth of July weekend.

Despite it’s faults, Harry loved that old Pacer. He'd wander down to the station house now and then just to sit behind the wheel making "vroom-vroom" noises. The car was so decrepit that Ethel often left the keys in it, hoping someone would be dumb enough to steal it. Harry could have since he had a knack for getting the beast to start, but he never did. Even in his addled state, he knew better than to drive that heap. The Pacer wheezed and rattled above 35 miles per hour, making it less than ideal as a pursuit vehicle. Ethel loudly regretted seizing it.

After the Twinkie plant explosion, the town council decided to sell the Pacer for “budgetary reasons”. This was only an excuse for the real reason, that Ethel had ticketed far too many of their friends and relatives, and the council thought that by taking away his patrol car, they could rein him in. He became Broken Elbow’s first moped officer. They’d initially offered a bicycle, but after listening to Ethel whine and moan for half an hour, they gave in and bought him a moped. The puny electrical system powered either the emergency lights or the siren, but not both. And keying the radio killed the moped altogether. Ethel was not a happy patrolman. No one commented on the fact that the moped cost more than the Pacer would bring at auction.

Within days, Ethel had a plan to get a new patrol car. As part of it, he stopped me for speeding on my bicycle. In fact, he stopped nearly everyone in town for one infraction or another.

"You were 2 miles per hour over the limit in a school zone!" he purred.

"Ethel, school doesn't let out for another hour! That sign was blinking, but its not supposed to do it until 10 minutes before the bell rings. You know that."

The rash of tickets was his under-handed plan to raise enough money for another car, a big, powerful cruiser with enough electronic gadgets to contact the space shuttle. I gave some thought to simply taking off, figuring that I could probably out-run the moped. On second thought, if he caught me, I'd have to call Wally to come down the station and bail me out. This was definitely not an attractive option. Wally and Ethel were not on speaking terms and hadn’t been for years. Besides, even if I did outrun Ethel, he'd just putt-putt over to my house and wait for my return. It was his usual way of apprehending speeders in Broken Elbow.

“What would Wally do?” I thought to myself. This was always instructive, though slightly maddening. The premise was to anticipate what Wally would do in a similar situation, and then do something entirely different, something reasonable and rational. Reason prevailed. I accepted the ticket and paid the fine before the due date. But it rankled.

On that fateful Friday, I rode out to the airport to meet Wally. At the time, he was working as a ticket agent/baggage handler/fueler/wing walker for Amiracle Airlines. You’ve undoubtedly heard their advertising slogan: “Amiracle Airlines - if it's on time, it's Amiracle!”

I figured he would be fairly safe and might actually hang onto the job because the flight attendants loathed him. Wally’s second or third ex-wife had been an Amiracle flight attendant. They were strong women because they were out on the tarmac hefting bags right alongside the guys. Forget high heels. Amiracle flight attendants sported steel-toed boots and more tattoos than most men. Wally feared them. We all did, but he had a special reason for doing so. They knew all about him because of the ex-wife angle. They didn't like him and made it plain that he was beneath contempt.

Wally and I intended to go fishing over the weekend. We decided to have dinner down at Larry’s Café and plan our assault on local trout streams. Like all good plans, it didn’t survive that initial contact with the barstools. We wanted to sneak onto the off-limits federal land up in the mountains, figuring that the trout streams didn’t get much fishing pressure. Locals called it Area 52 – meaning that it was just a little more secret than the more famous Area 51. Regardless, we figured it would be good fishing.

Larry’s Café is the only bar in Broken Elbow. It’s also the largest meeting place in town, so every civic group from the Lady’s Book Nook (all of them notorious tipplers) to the amateur radio club use the big meeting room in the back. Wally and I didn’t get along with the amateur radio bunch since they’d developed a snotty, elitist attitude after the Twinkie factory explosion and I wrote a few disparaging articles about them. Sure, they prevented the town from being deluged in marshmallow filling, but that didn’t excuse their atrocious table manners, spotty personal hygiene, and annoying habit of communicating in Morse code even when face-to-face. The worst was when they tapped out code on their automobile horns. I hated that.

Larry’s has a front door on the street, a side door to the parking lot, and a back door to the alley behind the kitchen. When you went somewhere with Wally, it was a good idea to know all the exits.

We were sitting at the bar finishing our sandwiches and our third or fourth beers when a group of flight attendants walked in. There were six of them, and while I know their names, it would be better not to add those details here. I’m not looking for any more trouble.

The group stayed well down the bar from us, though the occasional rude remark could be heard. They were drinking boilermakers, as Amiracle Airlines flight attendants usually do.

Wally began trading barbs with them, getting progressively nastier and profane. Larry tried to intervene but the biggest and toughest of the stewardesses silenced him with just a look. Larry backed off.

Flight attendants can smell fear just like wolves and other predators. And like most predators, the females are the ones who do the hunting. These ones were no different. Their long pointed nails and extremely sharp teeth intimidated the most hardened tough guys but had no effect whatsoever on a couple of deep-in-their-cups fools like Wally and me. I was worried about Wally. He was having too much fun insulting the women, in particular one mean-tempered brunette. Wally was attracted to dangerous women. I was worried that by the end of the evening, he could be beaten senseless or married again.

In a moment of blinding insight that comes to those who are only moderately inebriated, I realized that losing a bar fight to some flight attendants would not look good on my tough guy résumé, and there would be no way to keep it quiet in a small town like Broken Elbow. I hesitated only a moment, then quietly went to the pay phone back in the meeting room, covering the move by excusing myself for a trip to the men’s room.

Five minutes later, Ethel came through Larry’s side door, directly between the unruly stewies and us. He was in civvies rather than his uniform, and as usual, he hadn’t brought his gun. When roused from bed late at night, Ethel had been known to show up still wearing his pajama top. Thankfully, he left the bunny slippers at home. Actually, catching Fred and Ethel in uniform was a rare event. They generally wore them only when a lot of people from out of town were expected, like for the Fourth of July, Homecoming, or the wildly popular Broken Elbow Turnpike Festival, which celebrates the turnpike that leaves town to the east, turns north and west through the mountains, and re-enters Broken Elbow from the west. Oklahoma towns are not complete without a turnpike.

“Someone called the station to say there was a fight going on here!” Wally sneered. “I don’t see no fight. Just a bunch of hors de combat!” Ethel laughed. He mispronounced the French phrase, mangling it as only a native Okie would. That’s what you get for reading military novels, or in Ethel’s case, old Sergeant Rock comic books.

The bar went silent as the wolf pack gave their full attention to the deputy. Ethel’s face changed as he realized too late he had just become their intended prey. The pack spread out and closed in on both flanks.

The brunette threw a bowl of nacho dip, catching Ethel full in the face! He howled as the jalapenos blinded him. The wolves fell on him. The brunette screamed, “Police brutality!” as the rest of the flight attendants beat the crap out of Ethel.

Another bowl of dip flew by, narrowly missing me. Figuring correctly that we were next on the menu, Wally decamped quickly, running out the side door into the parking lot. I headed toward the back. By the time I circled around to the bike rack, Wally was long gone.

In the distance, flashes lit the mountains around Area 52. I could hear small arms fire and the thump of impacting artillery rounds. Aircraft droned overhead in the darkness delivering heavily armed commandos on night parachute drops. State officials said it was specialized training for post office inspectors, but I wasn’t entirely sure it was the truth. Regardless, I was off to the hills, figuring that bombs and bullets were less dangerous than irate flight attendants and a doubly irate Ethel. The noise from the bar fight was winding down as I hid my bike in the bushes. I didn’t want to be there when the flight attendants rolled out into the parking lot. I stole Ethel’s moped, riding it off into the night.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Daylight Savings Time - Changes for 2007 and Beyond

Here's a story from NPR about the upcoming changes to the start and end dates for daylight savings time. I think it's interesting that the change can 'save' 300,000 barrels of oil, but I have to wonder just how much that changes our national energy outlook. Could we save even more by re-instituting the 55 mph speed limit? Could we save more by demanding that motor vehicles get better fuel economy? Could we save more by insisting that our transportation priorities are too heavily weighted toward private passenger vehicles?

On a personal note, I don't like the idea because it requires me to ride to work in the dark for several more weeks. Maybe I'm a sissy, but I really prefer riding in daylight. There are far fewer skunks.


There's a New Day Ahead for Daylight Saving Time

by Carol Anne Clark Kelly

NPR.org, October 28, 2006 · On Sunday at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time ends. We move the clock back one hour to return to Standard Time, giving us a 60-minute bonus, so we really shouldn't complain. But even a one-hour shift can be discombobulating for many people, from international air travelers to cranky toddlers.

...Thanks to passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time will begin one month earlier in 2007 and will continue for an extra week. It's part of a phased move designed to conserve electricity and save an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil a year.

Many proponents wanted to extend Daylight Saving Time well into November, starting next year. A compromise was forged after Congress heard testimony from farmers concerned about their livestock, saying it would disrupt the cows' milking routines. Can cows tell time? Airlines executives worry about getting out of sync with the rest of the world.

* This year, Daylight Saving Time began on April 2 and ends at 2 a.m. Oct. 29

* In 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 11 and ends Nov. 4

* In 2008, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 9 and ends on Nov. 2

* In 2009, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8 and ends on Nov. 1

Is the Hurry REALLY Worth it?

I came across the following early this morning:

SMB Consulting, Inc.: Is the Hurry REALLY Worth it?

It's a post decrying the unnecessary haste too many motorists engage in when getting from point A to point B. Seriously, as I wrote in the last Musette about seeing 'stoopid people', there are some who endanger everyone around them in order to 'save' a few seconds. I don't know anyone whose time is so valuable that saving a couple of seconds on a commute will make an appreciable difference.

On Friday, as I rode home, a gravel truck passed dangerously fast. He was over the speed limit, and while that normally wouldn't bother me much, he had to cross the centerline while there was on-coming traffic. A southbound driver nearly went off the road avoiding the truck. Would that 5 or 10 seconds he saved by endangering two other people allow him to get in another run for the day? Of course not.

All of us are stressed by having too much to do and too little time to do it. I hate having to schedule my time hour by hour, even on weekends. Being a dunce in traffic isn't going to give me or anyone else more time with family and friends. Being an aggressive driver - or an aggressive cyclist, for that matter - isn't going to make my life LESS stressful.

Even on those rare occasions when I drive to work (TWICE so far this month! I'm getting soft!) I follow the same route that I use for bicycle commuting. Sure, there's an expressway that runs parallel, and it's undoubtedly faster. But there's heavy traffic and the two-lane is so much more pleasant. The difference in commuting time may be several minutes, but to my way of thinking, those few minutes add to the quality of life. Statistically, limited access roads are safer than two lanes, but while I may have to watch for deer and skunks on the two lane road, I generally don't have to be concerned about people tailgating at high speed or switching from lane to lane in an effort to move ahead a couple of car lengths.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Musette

Fossil Fish...

My congratulations! I'd offer advice on having a happy, lasting marriage, but frankly I can't think of any. Mary and I have been married for twenty years and it's always been up and down, good luck and bad, and in all that time we've gone through some very bad patches. But she's my compass. I've never had any doubts as to whether I love her. I've kept in mind that our marriage and our love for each other is more important than anything else, including my pride. Sometimes, it's very necessary to say, "Yes, my love" even when I know she's wrong. A couple of decades from now, I truly hope you find yourself thinking that you can't imagine how you got along without her.

Oh, I do have some advice. When planning a wedding, brides-to-be and their mothers go completely berserk. Heated arguments and tears can erupt over some inconsequential details, like what color flowers to have on the third row of guest tables, or some such nonsense. Duck as much of it as you can, because while your presence is required, your input is not. They'll ignore you anyway. Nod sagely at times. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Take the long term view. A wedding is one day but a marriage is for life.

And I really like the idea of registering at a bike shop! If you don't object, I may steal it!

A pleasant rut...

I resigned as membership director of the Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition. I wasn't able to attend all the board meetings, and I fell that OBC needs people who can be more hands-on. So I've fallen into a rut, a pleasant cycle of family, work, and writing that I really enjoy. Some might find that boring and monotonous, but after having far too much tension this summer, I'll take this rut gladly.

A long Wally story...

...is in the works. I like the character, and no, it's not semi-autobiographical. Wally is a schemer, but a good-hearted one. He'd con the shirt from your back just for a lark, but if you were cold, he'd offer his own.

Writing humorous fiction is a challenge. I enjoy coming up with some funny ideas, then trying to find a way to tie them together with narrative. If it's clunky at times, I apologize. I've had no formal training at writing - other than abysmally boring experiences in high school and college - and really didn't discover the fun in it until I began writing for an amateur radio publication some years ago. And yes, I wrote about Broken Elbow, Oklahoma back then too.

My influences have been Patrick McManus, Garrison Keillor, and the late Lewis Grizzard, among others. I haven't stolen their ideas, of course, but I like their point of view, particularly when it comes to small towns. I can relate to McManus' description of his boyhood bicycle as having been assembled by a local village fiend with his own three hands. Broken Elbow is a composite of some of the places I've lived, and those small towns are a kind of petri dish for observing human behavior.

I see stooopid people!

Coming home from work this afternoon, a fat-assed pickup with a rotund driver at the wheel, flew by with horn blaring. God smiled. I smiled because God turned the signal red at that instant. I was in the left turn lane next to Fat Guy, and said, "Hey! Your horn WORKS!"

"So do you!" he yelled back.

I started laughing, so he had to cover his faux pas with the traditional, "Fuck you, moron!" Then he zoomed off.

But I really gotta wonder if the little boy sitting in the passenger seat used the "Fuck you, moron!" when he got home. Mom would have been pissed. A big argument ensued with Fat Guy storming out of the house to a bar somewhere. Meanwhile, wifie snooped through his computer and found a bunch of porno, called her mother, called her lawyer, and then divorced his fat ass taking the truck, the house, and most all his assets.

I have a vindictive imagination.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Posted by SueJ to CycleDog

Some motorists complain to find some way of rationalizing their simple desire that life were less complicated - it would be simpler without bicycles, so let's find reasons for them not to be there. Some of the "cyclists don't pay taxes" and "they never follow the law" arguments fall under this category.

Some of 'em have a really valid point, though - a lot of cyclists around here do major bobbing and weaving which often means the same car has to pass them several times. Not often - most of the "guerrilla" riders are be-bopping on the sidewalks. I often catch one of 'em three or four times on a trip across town. They’re not just "rolling through..." they're "Blowing the stop sign."

I think that driving in traffic is a major pain-in-the-ass for many of us. And I say "us" because most cyclists are also motorists at least part of the time.

Oh, the car advertising always shows a lovely, winding country road completely free of traffic. The sunlight streams down and a gentle breeze ruffles the hair of the handsome smiling driver and his stunningly beautiful passenger.

But reality is somewhat different. A diesel pickup just ahead of you belches foul-smelling exhaust. There's a woman weaving from lane to lane as she attempts to apply makeup at 60mph. And there's a guy driving down the road with the newspaper propped up on his steering wheel, reading while he commutes. There's the house-sized SUV tailgating in heavy traffic, as if bullying the driver in front of him will shorten his commute. Add in a few panic-braking episodes, road rage incidents, and whopping doses of frustration, and you have a recipe for a highly stressful motoring experience.

So perhaps Sue is right. Motorists want a simpler, less stressful drive, and if getting us pesky cyclists off the road will contribute to that, they'll be all for it.

I think that's one reason we see the "all cyclists are scofflaws" argument so often. It's true that many ignore traffic law, either out of simple ignorance - like the ubiquitous wrong way cyclist - or out of fear - as in the "they're all out to get me so I can act any way I want." A co-worker used the latter as justification for both blowing through red lights and wrong way riding - at night and without lights or reflectors. He figured if they could see him, it just made it easier to run him down! I can only call that rabid paranoia.

There was an afternoon this summer when I was riding home. Up ahead, two twenty-somethings were zooming along the sidewalk, every now and then scooting out onto the road. But whenever a car approached, they swerved back onto the sidewalk again. It was unnerving to overtake them, because I couldn't know if they were going to shoot down onto the road.

I've been on group rides where the leaders yelled, "Clear!" and blew through stop sign after stop sign. And to be honest, in my younger days, I've done that too. The reality is that unless you run a red-light or stop sign directly in front of a police car, there's almost no chance of being ticketed. Motorists know this too. That's why they rolled through that 4-way stop with impunity. That's why they routinely exceed the speed limit, provided it's only a little bit over.

Sadly, even if we did get ALL cyclists to ride in a vehicular manner, that is, ride their bikes the same way they'd drive a car, we'd still have some motorists, law enforcement professionals, public officials, bureaucrats, and planners who believe that bicycles are children’s toys. They'd try to legislate us off the roads "for our own safety" or they'd give us nice, 'safe' facilities that connect nowhere with nowhere.

More on Thursday's Road1 Class


As I wrote previously, Gary Parker was the lead instructor for Thursday's class. I assisted with the parking lot drills. Sandra Crisp handled the administrative chores. And Brian Potter arrived inthe afternoon to help with testing, both the practical road test and the multiple choice test.

Our students were: Linda and Ronald from the Tulsa Public Schools PE program, Jonah from Tom's Bicycles, and Mike, Ren, Mark, and Chris from Lee's Bicycles.

I went into Tulsa on Friday and stopped at Tom's. I asked Jonah what he thought of the instruction. He said it made him think about many of the aspects of cycling that he almost takes for granted. There are some items we covered that would be of great benefit to a new rider, and he says he's going to recommend Road1 for any newbies who may be interested.

We're lucky in that we enjoy the support of local shops. The owners are behind the program and they're putting employees through it. Tom and I talked about a couple of ideas to spread the word further. It almost feels like we've been priming the pump for the last 2 years, and it's about to start working.

One last thing: Tom is one silver-tongued devil! I need a new pair of cycling shoes and looked through the discount rack. Hey, size 48 wide is hard to find, and my oddly-shaped feet are a difficult fit! I tried some Shimanos that were 20% off. Then Tom asked me to try some Sidis in my size. "If you try these, you'll buy them!" he said. He was right. They fit wonderfully. Now all I have to do is scrape together the cash. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thursday's Road1 Class


We had another Road1 class on Thursday for Tulsa Public School PE teachers. Local bicycle shop employees attended also. The photo is one of the students performing the quick turn drill. That's Gary Parker watching her turn. Gary was our lead instructor for the day.

I remember Bob Chapelle, the LCI who taught our introductory Road1 class, remarking that teaching a group of experienced cyclists was so different from teaching novices. At the time, I thought he was exaggerating. But he was right. It is easier to teach experienced riders. For the most part, they're unafraid of attempting the maneuvers, though even a long-time cyclist may be intimidated by countersteering.

More on this later. I'm taking a vacation day today, and I have much to do. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday Musette

Tonight on CNBC

"Inside American Airlines" (120 minutes, 8PM and 10PM CST) This documentary focuses on many aspects of the airline's huge, complex operation, including airline maintenance. Much of it was filmed here on the maintenance base in Tulsa. If you're lucky, you may see my bicycle parked in the rack out front! I won't, or at least for the first hour I won't because it's on opposite "Lost". Gosh, if I'm ever stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, I hope to be surrounded with such photogenic people too.

Those pesky cyclists!

I did an informal traffic count at Main and Broadway on Tuesday. At 5 PM, I started counting the vehicles that actually stopped - that is, the wheels stopped turning - at a 4-way intersection controlled by stop signs and a flashing red light. Of a total of 155 vehicles, pickups, trucks, SUVs, passenger cars, and motorcycles, 23 came to a complete stop. Those few vehicles stopped mainly due to cross traffic in the intersection. But even when crossing traffic was present, many persisted in moving forward slowly until the intersection cleared.

A common complaint about cyclists is that they do not stop at intersections. I'd postulate from yesterday's observation that NO ONE stops at intersections. In fact, I watched as a police car rolled through it. If the wheels do not stop turning, it is not a complete stop, and when anyone fails to stop - regardless of their transportation mode - they have broken the law. It doesn't matter if they roll through at 3 mph, 6 mph, or 10 mph - it's still breaking the law.

Some of the motor vehicles barely slowed down for the intersection. This street is marked for a 25 mph limit and the intersection is less than a block from the police station.

No cyclists were seen. From experience, I can state unequivocally that the majority of bicycle riders in Owasso are on the sidewalks if they're not on neighborhood streets. The busy arterials have few road-going cyclilsts, and of those few, I've seen two blatant red light runners in the last month or so. Both approached an intersection with a red showing in their direction. Both slowed slightly, then blasted on through. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if it were an unidentifiable cyclist blowing off a light, but one of them wore a jersey from a well-known local club.


I did that traffic count while waiting for a class on MS Excel at the Owasso library. I use Excel at work for tracking units and parts, but I've never had any formal training in using it. The Tulsa City-County Library offers a series of free classes in Excel, Word, and Access. Naturally, after signing up for the class, I found out that my employer has a tutorial series on the training website (no public access, unfortunately).

TPS class tomorrow.

We have another Road1 class scheduled for Tulsa Public School teachers, and several bike shop employees will be attending also. I think we're making good progress with the local bicycle shops. Several owners are very supportive of the educational effort.

But we could do more.

The motorcycle community has a new-rider course that is mandatory in Oklahoma, and I'm told that in other places it's highly recommended for all riders. It gives them a break on insurance. We don't have that impetus for bicycle riders. I'd almost call the motorcycle course coercive, but that's not the precise sense. I'd like to see a program that riders wanted to take rather than one they're almost forced to take. But that's not the precise meaning, either.

The bicycle industry does provide some funding to various advocacy groups, but most of that money gets channeled into organizations devoted to the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality. In other words, more bicycle facilities rather than educational programs for cyclists. Some of these organizations promote the idea that cycling on the road is an extremely dangerous activity and if only the government provided more money for their pet projects, cycling would be much safer. They're little more than whores rooting at the government trough, but that's a subject for another post.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Owasso Critical Mass!

Tomorrow there will be not one, but two critical mass rides in Owasso, Oklahoma! Imagine that! Two rides in a single day.

The first one will leave from my house, travel along neighborhood streets, four-lane arterials, and two-lane rural roads, generally heading south toward the airport.

The second ride will take place at mid-afternoon. It too will follow four-lane arterials, two-lane rural roads, and some neighborhood streets, eventually ending at my house.

Both rides will involve unimaginative, boring adherence to the rules of the road, partly because it's less stressful than the usual CM practice of corking intersections and running red lights, and partly because most motorists in the area are polite and safety minded. Pissing off other drivers and the police is hardly a method guaranteed to win hearts and minds, and if we want to persuade some out from behind the wheel of a car and onto a bike, it really helps if we don't antagonize them first.

The first ride leaves around 6 AM. Lights and reflectors are required, as stipulated by Oklahoma law. That means a white front light, a red rear reflector, and a red rear light.

Be prepared to confront the occasional stupid motorist, but it's more common to have short, intense interactions with roving dogs and stubbornly intractable skunks. Skunks do not give a damn about your right-of-way!

Saddle Sore of the Month?

Yes, I know I missed the Saddle Sore of the Month post for September. I didn't find anything especially egregious to award that coveted honor. Too bad.

But here's a good one from Alabama. Apparently, Ms. Mango is a Very Important Person who cannot be delayed even for a millisecond.

First, she complains about cyclists riding two abreast on a four-lane street. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if there are two lanes in the same direction, isn't it easier to pass? But wait! There's a slow-moving vehicle ahead of her, so it's the CYCLISTS who are in the wrong. Then one of them had the temerity to signal - signal! - that he wanted to move left. Presumably this would mean he wanted to make a left turn, but our VIP was too pressed for time to bother with even a little courtesy and allow him to move. He then flipped her off. Tough shit.

If you wanna be a bitch, Karen, expect to be treated like that.

The second incident that riled her was a cyclist pulling a trailer "in the only westbound lane" and he was going slower than 40mph. Which meant that Ms. Mango had to slow down until it was safe to pass. This was obviously a hardship for her.

Like many motorists, Ms. Mango views cyclists with contempt. She's woefully ignorant of bicycling law and best practices, yet she doesn't allow that ignorance prevent her from offering gratuitous advice. She would be terrified of riding in traffic; therefore cycling must be extremely dangerous. She would gladly get us off the roads 'for our safety', of course (and for her own convenience of not having to slow down - something that's implied in her whiny-ass column)

She didn't own a car until she was 29 years old and she lived in a "big city" before moving to Huntsville. If she didn't own a car in the city, perhaps she’ll consider moving back there, give up her car, and make the roads a better place for Huntsville’s cyclists.

Oh, the bicycle riders you meet slowly pedaling on local streets
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Huntsville Times

The Saturday bike crowd drives to the supermarket parking lot, unloads its state-of-the-art two wheelers, and off they go.

I was driving behind Jed Clampett (not his real name), who was pulling a very old trailer with an even older truck.

Like the vehicles stacking up behind me in the left hand lane, I was dreaming of going slightly over the posted 55 mph speed limit, but in reality, was only burning fossil fuel at a stingy 40 mph.

In the right lane, in all their glory, was Spandex Man on his bicycle, riding alongside Lycra Dude. Apparently single-file-only applies to schoolchildren and automobiles.

Suddenly, Spandex Man decides he wants to make a left turn from the right hand lane. He does his fancy arm maneuver, and starts to make his move simultaneous with looking at his mirrors and before consulting his brain.

If he completed his desired action, he would have been implanted somewhere between the bumper and the side of my minivan.

I had a choice - speed up and ram Clampett's trailer, slam on my brakes and begin the insurance card exchange ritual with the driver behind me or keep driving. Spandex Man didn't agree with my decision, but waved anyway, except he forgot four of his fingers when doing it.

...This happened days after my encounter with Daredevil Dad.

He was on his Microsoft stock-option bicycle, with a baby chariot caddy attached. My guess is he had a toddler or a dozen bagels in there.

The odd thing was he was on Cecil Ashburn Drive. This is the road that meanders over the mountain between the Hampton Cove area and Jones Valley. It is the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster of Huntsville.

Daredevil was cruising down the road, in the only westbound lane, with a child (or bagel) small enough to fit in the human trailer. He was not going as fast as my law-abiding 40 mph, so I had to put on the brakes....

I am sure bicycle enthusiasts are within the law to do what they do, but...

I didn't own a car until I was 29 years old, and only then when I married a man who had one. I lived in a big city...

I think bicycles are great recreation vehicles. I am not anti-bike. They are very popular in my family.

...I don't understand bicyclists putting their lives, and others who are watching out for them, at risks to share a dangerous or busy road with a car.

Karen Mango of Huntsville is a Times community columnist for 2006.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Wow! Forty Thousand hits on CycleDog since I began writing this. As it turns out according to this cheap datalogger that I got second hand from the defunct Psychic Friends network, Mr. 40,000 is a middle-aged white guy with thinning hair, who's slightly overweight. He's sitting in front of his computer reading CycleDog while sipping a beer, and he's wearing just a ratty pair of boxer shorts.

Hey! That's ME!

I really need some new boxers.

Seriously, my thanks to all of you reading CycleDog. I try to inform, educate, and persuade on cycling issues. And I write a bit of comedy too. Riding is fun, so I think learning about cycling should be fun too. And believe me, I have fun writing this stuff!

Homecoming: A Wally Crankset Tale

I heard the distinctive squeal of ancient Mafac brakes in the driveway. It could belong to only one of my friends. The front door banged open and Wally barged in unannounced. He was excited and barely able to contain the news.

"The Homecoming parade is in two weeks!" He fairly shouted. "I want to enter! Here's the application and everything. All I need is for you to fill it out and sign it."

I hesitated. This did not feel right, especially the part about putting my signature on the bottom-line. But I suspected the school float committee would reject any application that had Wally's signature. They had a long memory and an extensive file on him. There was something to do with numerous photos clipped from pornographic magazines that were slipped into books in the high school library during Wally's senior year. And 'numerous' may have been an understatement. The photos turned up from time to time for years afterward, an illustration of how well thumbed some of the books were. Then there was the unfortunate incident involving Mr. Ashland, the vice-principal, whose car played the Village People's "YMCA" at full volume when he switched on the ignition. It played over and over. A nefarious person had even wired in some external speakers, so the music could be heard for blocks. Turning off the car audio system had no effect. Nor did turning off the ignition. Someone had to remove a battery cable. Since Wally was the resident electronics wizard, he was widely blamed, though no proof was ever found.

"This is going on your permanent record!” Ashland was fond of saying. "It will follow you for the rest of your life!"

There were sheep loose in the cafeteria one morning. The basketball team discovered the balls glued to the floor. The vice principal's desk chair had flat spots ground into one wheel. And the stone dead coffee machine in the teacher's lounge was found filled with ice and beer bottles.

Then there was a rumor that Mr. Ashland's daughter Amy returned home drunk and half-naked after going on a date with Wally. He denied all of it, swearing that he'd never dated the girl. Even in high school he'd had a way with the ladies, but in this case I believed him. I don't know why, exactly, but I did. Mr. Ashland, however, stared daggers at both of us whenever he wandered by.

Wally was never caught red-handed, but he was always one of the usual suspects because he was in the vicinity whenever one of the atrocities occurred. In fact, he was the prime suspect. He seemed to revel in the notoriety. Mr. Ashland was certain that Wally was the culprit behind many of the pranks, and in truth, he was correct in that assumption most of the time. The fact that Wally got away with it only set the vice-principal's teeth on edge and made him more determined to pin something - anything - on my friend. In Wally's case there really WAS a permanent record, if only in Ashland's mind.

So it wasn't too surprising that Wally would want me to sign the application, even though our high school days were long ago. Mr. Ashland was still in his office like a malignant spider waiting patiently for a victim.

"Is this going to involve any electronics, pyrotechnics, or flammable liquids?” I asked. "Will alcohol be anywhere nearby?" I didn't have to worry about drugs. Wally had tried marijuana once and said it made him "weird".

"No, no, I'm gonna dress up as a clown and ride my high-wheeler." Wally had a lovely new reproduction of a nineteenth century ordinary with an intimidating 60-inch front wheel. “I'm going to be the Loonie Party candidate, Finger Lincoln Goode."

The Loonie Party was somehow very fitting and only partly joking. Then again, every other wackoid local politician would be in the parade, so it was only fair to include Wally.

The day of the parade, Wally showed up on the new bike, dressed in a moth-eaten tuxedo jacket, sweat pants, and a fright wig. He had clown white over most of his face, with a huge red nose and a bushy red monobrow. I've known Wally since we were kids and even I didn't recognize him. But I figured the chances of someone else dressed like that on a penny-farthing were very remote.

We lined up and rode just behind Shriners on scooters and ahead of Mr. Ashland, who drove his immaculately restored 1959 Cadillac convertible. His daughter, Amy rode in back as she was the Broken Elbow Teacher of the Year. Amy wore a lovely green gown and her long, blonde hair was plaited with yellow ribbons. She was gorgeous. Ashland watched Wally and me through narrowed eyes. He recognized me, but wasn't sure about Wally.

The tiny Broken Elbow marching band trailed along behind them. It was a small school in a small town. Most of the male band members were on the football team too, making for frantic wardrobe changes in the locker room at halftime. Like I said, it was a small town.

We were almost to the reviewing stand when Wally stood up to go over the new pavement at First Street. It was just an edge on the asphalt, and Wally did what any cyclist would do. He just stood on the pedals for a moment. But he'd forgotten about the sweat pants. When he stood up, they snagged the nose of the saddle and stayed down. He mooned Mr. Ashland and the roadside crowd, exposing his one-of-a-kind tattoo for all the world to see. (We do not discuss our tattoos. The circumstances are too…well….never mind.)

"Wally!” half a dozen women cried, and Amy cried the loudest. I filed that thought away for future reference.

Mr. Ashland heard - and turned to glare at her. Unfortunately he floored the convertible. It shot forward, narrowly missing a Shriner who jumped clear as the Cadillac crushed his scooter. When Ashland stopped and got out of the car to survey the damage to his beloved Cadillac, a shouting match started. It quickly degenerated to shoving, and then fists as other Shriners arrived. Townspeople joined in, and within a minute or so we had a full-scale riot. People grabbed the over-ripe vegetables from some of the farm floats and used them to pelt their foes.

Our local cops, Fred and Ethel showed up to quiet the mob. Fred was the chief of police and when the town council hired George Mertz, he just naturally became 'Ethel.' He didn't like it, but what could he do? Fred was a decent guy. He'd never embarrass his subordinate by calling him that. But everyone else did. The clincher came when the Traffic Court judge inadvertently called him Ethel, and after that he was stuck with it. His wife became 'Mrs. Ethel', which she found hilariously funny. Women are like that. Ethel was overly fond of giving out speeding tickets, jaywalking tickets, and even ran down overdue library books. He was not liked.

The mob was more gleeful than angry as they tossed over-ripe tomatoes, dried corncobs, unpleasant squash, and even a few smallish pumpkins at ach other. Someone yelled, "Hey! Ethel!" He turned, only to get splattered with a tomato to the back of the head. He turned again to see who threw it as a well-aimed ear of corn connected just below his belt. Ethel went down hard, clutching his head just as he'd been taught in gym class. Tough guys never grabbed themselves 'down there'. He lay on the pavement whimpering slightly as rotten tomatoes rained down on him.

The fire department arrived and hosed down the crowd, paying special attention to any young women in tight clothing. Some were indignant about it. Some were not. Afterward, I was helping one of the 'not' group to her feet when I spotted Mr. Ashland only yards away.

"Amy! Amy!" he called. He looked around for her in the soggy crowd, and then rushed back to his car that was now half-filled with over-ripe produce. He dug through the pile frantically, obviously afraid that Amy was somewhere underneath. It was a fruitless search. Amy was gone.

Right about then I noticed Wally was gone too. Ashland's head swiveled in my direction.

"You! You and your friend are responsible for all of this!" Ashland shouted. "I'm gonna kill you!" He jumped into the car, slammed it into gear and lurched across the parking lot toward me.

I pedaled furiously down the street and into the festival area. The crowd parted before the horn-blaring Cadillac, except for one person, a mime who was playing to the crowd and oblivious to the approaching danger. He fell under the car and was shaken but essentially unhurt. I escaped through the crowd when Ashland stopped to pull the mime out from under the Cadillac. In my estimation, he needn't have bothered, though who knew that mimes could cuss like that? I guess if you can't talk, it kind of builds up like water behind a dam. And when this particular dam broke the results were both colorful and inventive. Some kids in the crowd learned a slew of brand-new vocabulary words.

I twisted and turned through alleys and backyards getting out of the downtown area. I shot down the alley behind Wild Bill's No-Tell Mo-Tell on the edge of town. Wally's ordinary was partly hidden in the weeds out back and a yellow ribbon that looked suspiciously like one of Amy's was tangled in the spokes. I realized then that to the end of my days I would never understand women, but the thought evaporated quickly as my attention was more focused on watching for a vengeful maniac in a Cadillac.

I rode on.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Musette

Painting news

I've spent the weekend painting the kid's bathroom. Mary and Lyndsay stripped the wallpaper a few days ago. I got it all prepped and primed, and started the sand texture paint today. I've worked with this stuff before. It does a good job over drywall that's had wallpaper. I will NEVER buy a house with wallpaper again, unless I make scads of money and can hire someone to deal with it.

But I've been married long enough to know that it's good household politics to let Mary choose the color. However, I did exercise my veto power when she thought about pink or lilac. She chose a nice shade of green, sort of a blue-green color. In fact, she chose what appears to be the exact shade of Celeste Green that Bianchi uses! What a woman!

I think the bathroom will be perfectamente with the addition of a poster of Fausto Coppi or maybe Tulio Campagnolo.


"Dad? Can you make nachos for lunch?"

This came from my sixteen-year-old son, Jordan, a teenager who's entirely disabled when it comes to actually cooking anything. Even making a sandwich is beynd him, though he does have some perverse fascination with holding the refrigerator door open while staring at its contents for minutes.

"You'll need to go to the store," I said. "We need Velveeta, Rotelle, and sausage."

He was ready to go in a few minutes. "Aren't you going to drive me down there, Dad?" The grocery store is a 10 minute walk down the hill.

"No, here's some money. Walk down and get the goodies."

He was astounded. Walk? When there's football games to watch on television? He quickly talked his sister into driving.

When he returned home, more horrors ensued.

I refused to make the nachos. Instead, I stood next to him and talked him through the process. It's really easy, but to my cooking-aversive son, it may as well have been rocket science. He browned and drained the sausage, cubed the cheese and melted it in the microwave, and then combined the cheese, sausage and Rotelle. Easy!

But I'd held my ace until the last. "Now that you know how to make nachos," I said, "the next time you can make them yourself, and even better, your sister knows you can make them too!"

His mouth fell open. He stood there dumstruck as the implications sunk in.

I'm SO mean!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bicycling advocacy and the role of planning.

A heart-stopping moment...

I was riding home today, going north along 129th East Avenue. The 86th Street intersection was just ahead, and I was entering that section that widens out to include a right turn lane. A car nosed out into the lane, effectively blocking both it and the sidewalk, a common occurrence. This is an excellent reason to avoid riding in right turn lanes - unless you're turning right, of course.

A teenager on a BMX bike was bombing along at speed southbound on the east sidewalk. He crossed in front of the stopped car, then continued to my left, crossing my path and forcing a car in the southbound lane to brake hard to avoid hitting him. In all, he narrowly avoided collision with 3 vehicles in the space of a second!

I was speechless. I've seen spectacularly stupid maneuvers in the streets, performed by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. But this was possibly the most outrageous display of bloody-minded idiocy that I've witnessed in a very long time.

And he'll probably be driving soon.

After thinking about it, I decided this young man likely regards his bicycle as a toy, not a vehicle. He'll move on to a 'real' vehicle, and probably start bitching about lawless cyclists in the next couple of years. His bike is a toy that he'll soon leave behind.

Education and Safety.

Bicycling safety is not taken seriously because of the toy bike mentality. There's a good argument to be made that in order to ride safely and comfortably, a cyclist needs an additional set of skills and awareness in addition to those necessary to operate a motor vehicle. This is most evident in getting a motorcycle endorsement. Anyone on two wheels needs to know the traffic laws, know the mechanical operation of the vehicle, and develop good judgment. Learning traffic law and the mechanical operation of a vehicle can be accomplished quickly, often in matter of days. But learning good judgment takes longer. It can be a year or more, and the learning process is largely based on experience. That's one reason teenage drivers have such high crash rates. I once read that motorcyclists are most at risk in the first year of riding, or in the first year after moving up to a newer, faster bike.

To be a safe cyclist then, knowledge of traffic law, the mechanical aspects of a bicycle, and good judgment all combine to form a highly skilled rider. He has all the knowledge to be a good motorist, and an additional set of skills that make him a good cyclist.

Yet our teen bicycle rider on his toy bike isn't interested in learning to ride safely. It never enters his thoughts because he's going to get a car someday soon. He's already reached his limit regarding bicycle knowledge and it's unlikely he'll learn more.

Bicycling advocacy and the role of planning.

I'll assume, for the moment, that you're an experienced and skillful cyclist, comfortable in all sorts of weather conditions and capable of handling any kind of traffic. You're committed to using two-wheeled transportation in order to get from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss. You honestly can't see why friends and family recoil in horror when you tell them you've ridden nearly everywhere. It's no big deal.

Given that level of skill, are you qualified to do bicycle planning or design bicycling facilities?

Think if it this way. Does having a driver’s license give anyone the knowledge necessary to design good roadways and intersections? Does a driver’s license give anyone the knowledge to lay out an interstate highway or build a bridge? Of course not! Yet people with absolutely no adult knowledge of practical bicycling will try to develop infrastructure and policies for cyclists. They learned to ride back in the fourth grade and their knowledge hasn't progressed past that of our teenager above, but they intend to set policy of the rest of us.

On one of the e-mail lists, Darrel Noakes said:

Earlier this week, I was left dumbstruck during an argument about the
merits of sidewalk cycling, among bicycle safety experts attending a
bicycle safety organization meeting. The gist of the argument was that
roads - or at least some roads - are simply too dangerous for cyclists
to ride on and that riding on sidewalks is safer than riding on the road
- at least in areas where roads are too dangerous although possibly in
general, too. Now, bear in mind that the roads we're talking about are
normal, if high volume, urban streets and arterials with speed limits
under 60 km/hr (40 mph), typically 50 km/hr (30 mph). These aren't
freeways or controlled access roads, but typical urban roads through
commercial districts or residential areas. We're also talking about
adult cyclists, not just children....I do become concerned when people
responsible for making recommendations about laws and providing
education to the public are so sorely misinformed.

It occurred to me afterward that so many people who style themselves as
bicycle safety experts are not familiar with the literature. I had just
assumed that everyone at the meeting had a general understanding of the
cycling literature. I don't expect everyone to possess all of the same
knowledge (that's why we create committees - so we can share knowledge),
but I do expect a certain basic grounding in the subject. Since I doubt
that I'm neither the first nor the last to encounter this kind of
situation, or to be working with cycling advisory committees of one kind
or another, I think it would be helpful to be able direct people to a
reading list, an essential bibliography of cycling literature....

Here's some of what would be on my list:

Cross, "Bicycle Safety Education - Facts and Issues" (1978) (because
it's still available and the Cross & Fisher study can't be found anywhere).

Forester, "Effective Cycling" (6th ed., 1993).

Forester, "Bicycle Transportation" (2nd ed., 1994).

Franklin, "Cyclecraft" (1997, reprinted 2004).

Hillman, "Cycling: Towards Health and Safety. A Report from the BMA" (1992).

Kaplan, "Characteristics of the regular adult bicycle user" (1975).

Moritz, "Adult bicyclists in the United States - characteristics and
riding experience in 1996" (1998).

Wachtel & Lewiston, "Risk factors for bicycle-motor vehicle collisions
at intersections" (1994).

Other suggestions included:
Paul Schimek's "Dilemmas of Bicycle Planning"

John Allen's "Street Smarts"

The Boy Scouts of America Cycling Merit Badge book.

Sadly, I've read only three of these, so it appears I'll be adding much of this to my reading list for the winter. I already know that John Forester's "Bicycle Transportation" seems to be missing from the Tulsa City-County Library system, but I may know someone with a copy.

If we're going to influence planning and educate both current and prospective cyclists, we really need to have a common understanding of the bicycling literature, if only to see that we base actions on reality rather than supposition and guesswork.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I've said that as sports go, road cycling discriminates against timid people. Easily cowed individuals won't ride on the road in the first place, and those who ride in traffic are thick-skinned people. A honking horn doesn't scare them. It's more likely to invite retaliation.

Maybe it's the full moon this week. Maybe it's a case of Starbucks overdose. Maybe there's a 50% off sale at the Oklahoma Asshat Emporium. I've been honked at more in the last couple of days than I have in months. My route hasn't changed and it's been weeks since my start time changed.

A white pickup went by with horn blaring and the driver yelling something unintelligible out the window. Between the wind, tire and engine noise, and Doppler shift, do they really think we can hear their inanities? A red Corvette buzzed by my handlebar, just inches away, then turned into a subdivision. If you're planning to annoy a cyclist, do it in a car that is a bit less conspicuous. All that nice, red paint and breakable fiberglass would be an easy target for a u-lock.

A black SUV drove by on a four-lane road this morning, horn blaring. The driver pulled into the security gate at work. I was seconds behind. The SUV flew through the lot and I lost it for a moment around a building. But I found it in a few seconds. There were a dozen people walking in the area. One of them had to be the driver, but isn't it funny how quiet they get one they're outside the protection of all that steel and glass?

Yes, I know. I'm such a whiner today. There were many more incidents, but those three stand out.

I've exceeded my frustration threshold for more than a week now. There are 4 'dog' computers sitting on my bench, and despite hours of troubleshooting, poring over schematics, and soldering new components under a microscope, I've come up empty. So the daily commute has been an enjoyable release of tension. Cathartic, in fact. I won't go into the boring details about troubleshooting. It would only devolve into more whining. Those annoying motorists provide a focus for some of this pent-up frustration, but I'm not going to give into temptation and "get medieval on their ass." Lurid fantasies will do. Besides, as yesterday’s post pointed out, I’m a ‘Kyle’!

So, for a change of pace, and to give my mind some recovery time, I've been working on MD80 handsets today. Trust me, sometimes a little mindless drudgery is a good thing. Although, after working on these for a while, I've been leery of using any public telephone. There's an astonishing quantity of food, makeup, and nasty-looking gunk inside these phones! I wear nytrile gloves at the bench and wash my hands frequently.

The weekend looks to be better. Normally, I hate painting, but Mary and Lyndsay decided to re-do the kid's bathroom, so I'll be in there tomorrow. Again, it's a change of pace, and I need that. Besides, I get to use the BIG tools, brushes and rollers, screwdrivers and wrenches, and after spending the week working under a microscope, that's a welcome change.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A new personality quiz...

I thought I'd take the South Park personality quiz, but it takes FOREVER to load on a dial-up connection.

But I'm patient.

Maybe too patient.

It turns out I'm Kyle! Hey, it could be worse! I could be Cartman. At least it's cheaper than taking the MMPI.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Owasso Road Projects

Today's Owasso Reporter has a story on a new section line road connecting 46th Street North to 177th East Avenue and 76th Street North. Those of you familiar with this area north of Port Road (46th Street North) know there's a quarry operation in the area, and it appears the new road will use the existing quarry road that winds up a small valley. The intent is to give port traffic a route to SH20. The road will follow the valley contours and will have several curves as an effort to reduce speeds. Also, it will have a paved shoulder - a rarity around here. This should be an attractive alternative to the aptly named Killer Hill at the Port of Catoosa.

The next article is about a $7.5 million 5-year plan to upgrade Owasso city streets. The city has a current backlog of $16.3 million in street repair needs. Given numbers like that, is it any wonder that cycling improvements are very far down the list? Still, street improvements benefit everyone, motorists and cyclists alike. The overall OCI value - a number that varies from 0 to 100 - is a 65. The 100 figure represents a new road, and zero a failed pavement. These improvements will bring the city's overall street rating to a 71. The backlog of maintenance and repair is expected to rise to $20.4 million.

Finally, INCOG funds will widen 86th Street North, with 5 lanes going west to US75. This is to be a joint city/county project and will be accomplished in phases. The first phase will widen the road from Owasso west to Mingo Road. Total cost is expected to be $12 million.


I rode home, grinding uphill along 56th Street with a slight crosswind. One side of the road is an open pasture, and at first, I though there were leaves blowing across the road. In fact, it was butterflies - hundreds of them - in a variety of colors. (I don't know beans about butterfly species.) One decided to fly directly in front of my handlebar, about two feet ahead, and it swerved left and right as the wind caught its wings. The butterfly and I rode in formation for about a hundred yards.

Oh, and the airspeed of an unladen butterfly of unknown species is approximately 11 mph.


The butterfly event got me thinking about another fall day when I was privileged to observe migrating hawks. The kids were little then, and I'd taken them to the local playground. They did all the running around. I sat on a park bench and noticed some specks floating around above me. At first, I thought they were some sort of insect, but a closer look revealed them to be hawks at very high altitude - high enough, in fact, to be on the same level as jets approaching Tulsa International. I usually carried binoculars, and I'd remembered to put them in my pocket that day. I watched as they drifted east toward a thermal, and then spiraled upward. When the thermal topped out, they continued on toward the east.

I've never seen that many hawks in one day. Even with the binoculars, they were too high to identify. But the kids and I got a kick out of watching them.

Tulsa World

The local newspaper has decided to put much of its content behind a firewall - again. Another paper that does this is the New York Times. It's certainly true that the Tulsa World shares many of the same attributes as the Times. They're both printed on paper. They're both delivered by trucks. They have well-defined political viewpoints expressed on the editorial pages, though to be perfectly honest, those viewpoints are almost diametrically opposed. When the Times put their columnists behind a firewall, I was mildly annoyed. But the Tulsa World's attempt to force readers to pay to read their columnists is completely absurd.

Roadside signs

It's political season once again. Signs are sprouting like mushrooms along our roads, and just like mushrooms; they need the same kind of growth media.

It's illegal to place campaign signs, for-sale signs, yard sale signs and the like in the public right-of-way. Owasso PD went on a tear one summer, ripping out all the yard sale signs almost as soon as they went up. Oddly enough, they ignored all the realtor's signs. Most people have the good sense to remove their yard sale signs promptly, thought that's not always true.

Still, I've been tempted to run over some of them when I'm on the bike, especially the ones that tout spamming as a second income. Motorists already think that cyclists are crazy. This would only give them more ammunition.