Tuesday, June 30, 2009


By Grady Hendrix

Pseudopod is a horror podcast. In a step away from the usual creepy, crawly stuff, they recently offered a darkly funny story based on Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Let's just say that it includes teenage angst, Yog-Sothoth, video games, and TV Guide.

Here's a snippet:

Dark god upstairs - dorky dudes coming in through the house all the time - Billy's head felt like it was going to split open underneath all the pressure. Downstairs, there was the stress of avoiding the hair-tousling wanksters as they tried to suck up to him while his mom finished getting ready. Upstairs, hiding out in his room, there was a nightmare from beyond the stars, a living terror from the remote gulfs of frozen space, who refused to wash his own dishes.

I can only hope to write like this someday. Of course, I've tried.

When I was a teenager - back in Bedrock High with Fred Flintstone - Lovecraft's stories kept me awake at night listening for rats in the walls. This story had me laughing out loud at work, laughing hugely as the story unfolded through my MP3 player. Coworkers stared.

Oh, and before I forget, Betty Rubble was even hotter as a teenager.

Link to Pseudopod


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The shogun (OT) and update

He wandered into the dusty frontier town with the clothes on his back, an empty belly, and an ancient sword. He took a menial job sweeping out the local inn. He ran errands for the owner and guests. The sword lay hidden, wrapped in rags in his tiny room under the eaves.

Those who looked into his eyes looked away quickly. Their depths spoke of madness and despair. Death walked on cat's feet in the darkness. Whispered tales of murder followed him and he didn't bother to supply the truth. No one would have believed it.

Winter snow fell, gave way to summer heat, and in time snow fell again. The shogun's men arrived, looking to press men into service. The villagers cowered, knowing well the shogun's reputation for savage ferocity. The squad marched away with a motley group of conscripts, all of them frightened except for the man with the dead eyes. He left both his broom and his sword behind.

He trained with the others, going through the familiar motions in a perfunctory manner. In the barracks, he kept to himself, earning a reputation as an odd duck and a loner.

A border conflict brought a promotion after his sergeant died in combat. He lead the team back to friendly territory with minimal losses. More heroism earned him a commission. No one questioned his knowledge of strategy and combat tactics.

As an officer, he took a squad back to the frontier village for more conscripts. As his men rounded them up, he retrieved the sword from under the floorboards in his old room. Mice had taken up residence in the rags.

More combat lead to more promotions. He gained a reputation as a bold leader, the kind of man others respected and followed without question. And that brought him to the attention of the shogun. He received a summons.

He entered the throne room with head bowed out of humility and respect. When the shogun addressed him by name and rank, he lifted his head to meet the monarch's gaze. The shogun looked into his flat, dead eyes and recognition blossomed. A glance at the ornate hilt on the ancient sword confirmed his guess. Without a word, the shogun drew his sword and attacked.

When it was over, both men's blood spattered the floor and walls. The shogun lay like a discarded doll in a spreading pool of crimsom. The courtiers and officers knelt in homage to the new shogun.

These days, no one dared to meet his eyes. His reputation for savage ferocity was well known. Madness warred with despair as he sat on the throne with that ancient sword at his side, watching uneasily as yet another stranger wandered into town.

I was thinking about some of those samurai movies like Yojimbo, or any number of westerns, adventure movies, or thrillers. What happens after the big battle scene at the end? It seemed fitting to imagine that each ending brings the seeds of another beginning, an endless cycle of revenge that's almost impossible to stop. The above could be from any number of movies from Shakespeare to The Godfather. These things could almost be written in a series of haiku since the underlying story is so common.

Anyway, it's just a bit of fluff to pass the time.

Update: Sunday, June 28th.

A Google Alert informed me that what appears to be a French Canadian website has taken the piece above, translated it into French and then back to English, resulting in a wildly bizarre version of The Shogun. Here's a sample and it's a hoot!

He received a summons. almost always When the shogun addressed him to hand esteem and disagreeable, he lifted his Mr Big to encounter the monarch’s mind-boggler. He entered the throne set out with Mr Big bowed perfectly of mildness and attend to. almost always The shogun looked into his featureless, completely eyes and acknowledgement blossomed. almost always Without a in brief, the shogun drew his sword and attacked. almost always A shufti at the opulent hilt on the ancient sword confirmed his feel. When it was atop of, both men’s blood spattered the crush and walls.

"He lifted his Mr Big to encounter the monarch's mind-boggler." Gosh, I wish I'd thought of that. It could spin the story of in completely unexpected directions.

I can only assume this Franglish has a purpose, but I can't guess what it could be. Any ideas?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cool old bike

I visited Tom's Bicycles in Tulsa this afternoon, and while poking around in the back room, I came across this! It's a lovely Italvega from the 1970's with a full Campagnolo component group. The frame is Columbus, as was customary on Italian bikes at the time, but what was truly astonishing was the bike's condition.

I would have given my eye teeth for one of these back in the day. At the time, a Raleigh Professional or Schwinn Paramount with full Campy sold for about a thousand dollars - well out of my price range since I made only about eight thousand a year at the time. Tom plans to sell this one on E-bay.

Another astonishing thing was the story that went along with the bike. An elderly couple living on a farm were allowing their grandchildren to play on the bike up until one of the sew-ups went flat. They brought it into the shop hoping to have the tire fixed. Tom - being the stand-up guy that he is - told them what they had and offered a fair price for it. They left happy.

This bike is lovely....and it's my size. But I couldn't justify buying it only to hang it on the wall. I'd ride it and ride it hard. The bike deserves better than that.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

History piece on Examiner

I just posted a bicycling history piece over on the Examiner site. It's part of Dr. Wally's lecture series and covers some lesser-know figures, like Pope Vinny II, Saint Bodacious, as well as Karl Marx.

...and of course, it's all true!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lemme tell ya sumthin

It's been a couple of rough days. I've had what the pro cyclists politely call 'intestinal distress' but there's nothing polite about it. On Friday, I had a meatball sub that kicked me to the curb over the weekend. It wasn't food poisoning. Instead, my stomach and the rest of my gut reacted badly to the tomato sauce. I had heartburn that just wouldn't quit. Antacids gave brief respites, but they didn't stop the acid.

I dehydrated rapidly. It certainly didn't help that the temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s and the humidity was off the scale. I couldn't get ahead of the curve and wandered through the days with a throbbing headache. It always happens when I'm dehydrated and I hate it.

Yesterday, I moaned and groaned through the work day, and fell asleep for an hour at home. I felt better in the evening. Ibuprofen dulled the headache.

Riding the bike was out of the question, of course. I drove the SUV (minus air-conditioning!) since Lyndsay needed my car. Isn't it funny how daughters can get almost whatever they want from Dad?

But I feel better and expect that tomorrow I'll be pedaling to work again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why do they do that? Lane position.

The next piece in the Examiner series just went live. It's all about lane positioning.

Just click that big blue button over on the right.

...and my apologies, but there's not a bit of snark in it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bicycle commuter savings calculator

Kiplinger has a commuter calculator that's supposed to tell you how much you save by riding a bicycle to work and back. It asks you to plug in the round trip distance, parking fees, and any tolls. Then it gives you an estimate.

Now, I don't pay for parking or tolls, and my commute is 17 miles round trip. This calculator says I save $7.72 per day! That can't be right, can it?

Their methodology says that driving costs 55 cents per mile while cycling costs 19 cents per mile.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Civil disobedience in Colorado

Fritz asked if I could write on this topic. I'm happy to oblige.

On July 25th, bicycle riders at Colorado's Sunrise Century may encounter some protesters. An unsigned flier urges area motorists to engage in "civil disobedience" by blocking area roadways with their vehicles as a means of protesting the state's new three feet passing law. Like similar laws in other states, the Colorado version requires that motorists pass bicyclists no closer than three feet. Some drivers object, saying that the new law puts them in jeopardy while they attempt to pass on narrow mountain roads with limited sight lines.

Yes, it's the motorists claiming they're at risk around bicyclists. They could collide with another motor vehicle when they blindly pass without being able to see if the roadway is clear. As we all know, a ton-and-a-half of steel and glass offers dubious safety around those pesky bicyclists, heavily armored in their Styrofoam hats and Lycra.

We have a word for motorists like this - whiners. Here's an excerpt from the news story:

Threats made to disrupt bicycle tour
posted by: Jeffrey Wolf written by: Dave Delozier

BOULDER - Alex Hearn has one word to describe the Sunrise Century: fun. It is not competitive and its primary purpose is to give people the chance to ride a bicycle through some of the prettiest canyons you will find anywhere.

So imagine his surprise when he learned this year's Sunrise Century was being targeted for civil disobedience. Hearn started to learn about it when fliers started showing up in mailboxes in the area of Left Hand Canyon north of Boulder. The flier carries a title of: "Civil Disobedience, July 25th Block Dangerous Cyclist Day, Boulder, CO."

...The flier goes on to say, "On July 25th in celebration of drivers' rights many cars will use the Left Hand Canyon Road, drive slowly and many may break down unexpectedly, blocking areas to the cyclists on the return leg of the 'Sunrise Century.' Please use judgment during this civil disobedience."

The Sunrise Century had already contacted the Colorado State Patrol and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office to provide traffic control and support for the ride. In light of the threat to disrupt the event, law enforcement officers may have an addition role to fill.


The news site had a photo of the note. Here's what I could read:

On August 5th new regulations limiting drivers rights regarding dangerous bicyclists will be STATE LAW.


Yadda, yadda, yadda. Where to begin? Give the author credit for getting the spelling right, at least.

Naturally, I have much more to write on this topic. The rest of the post is over on the Examiner site. As usual, I couldn't resist a snarky response. It's a character failing.

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New Facebook username

Facebook recently allowed users to set up new user names. Of course, mine is CycleDog!

Imagine that.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Woman charged with two deaths

Tulsa World Photo

This is from today's Tulsa World.

Woman charged in double bicycle fatality

By Staff Reports
Published: 6/17/2009 12:45 PM
Last Modified: 6/17/2009 12:50 PM

Tulsa World Photo

A Sand Springs woman was charged Wednesday with manslaughter and driving under the influence after she allegedly ran down three bicyclists last week, killing two of them.

Tausha Dion Borland, 38, was charged by the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office with two counts of first-degree manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatality accident and driving under the influence.

Borland was released from jail last week on $100,000 bond.


If Borland is convicted of DUI, it will be her second offense which is a felony here in Oklahoma. Frankly, I was surprised by the tone of the comments following this article. They almost uniformly condemn her behavior, with one lone exception (so far) by an obvious troll.

Getting hit from behind is very likely every cyclist's worst nightmare. Fortunately, this type of crash is relatively rare, but the truth is that it's responsible for too many deaths.

Hug your loved ones tonight, and ride safe.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The ultimate fixed gear

This was listed on Tulsa Craigslist today. It's a reproduction of a penny farthing from the late 19th century. The owner is asking $1495 and I honestly do not know if that's a good price for one of these bikes. The headbadge says "Boneshaker".

I remember these from the 70s. I was tempted to ride one but never had the chance. These days the prospect of that long fall would scare me.

The photo above was reduced and desaturated. The original shows the copper finish and is much nicer.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

No soap...

Earlier this week, I bicycled home on a afternoon with temperatures in the upper 80s. That's warm. I take time to adapt to increasing temperatures - which is a polite way of saying I sweat copiously. It will be worse in July and August. Regardless, by the time I arrived at the house, I was fairly stinky. A quick shower was essential.

I tossed my sweaty cycling clothes into the basket, stepped into the shower, and recoiled in horror. We were out of man soap. A pretty little bar of lady soap sat in its place, wafting a flowery aroma and offering to gently exfoliate my skin (whatever that is) while making it satiny soft and 'fresh.' It had little bits of oatmeal. I desperately looked for a crucifix to protect myself from the demonic thing.

Wrapped in a bath towel, I went off in search of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

"We're out of soap," I said.

"No," she replied, "there's a bar of soap in the shower stall."

"We're out of man soap. I won't use that smelly stuff."

"I'll put Irish Spring on the shopping list," she said.

That's almost as bad as lady soap. It doesn't smell like springtime in Ireland. There are no comely lasses. No leprechauns. No prancing unicorns. I've been to Ireland and it doesn't smell anything like that soap. It smells like cold winter seawater from the North Atlantic, with an undercurrent of stale cigarette smoke and people in wet woolen clothing packed elbow-to-elbow inside a pub on a Sunday night. Oh, and Guinness. Lots of Guinness. I'll bet the marketing people would throw their hands up in despair if they tried to make soap that smelled like that.

Man soap shouldn't smell like anything remotely related to flowers. It shouldn't offer lemony freshness. In fact, using it should hurt. The box would admonish you to use the product, and afterward if you're in pain, well, just go walk it off. Be a man not a whiny, fresh-smelling sissy boy.

I kept all these thoughts to myself, of course. I didn't want her to think I'd spent all my time inside a pub.

"If you don't want to use my soap," she said, "Jordan has some body wash in his bathroom."

This is the stuff that's advertised to young men, touting its babe attracting quality. "I can't use that! Those super models will try to kidnap me again! I'm tired of being treated as a mere sex object!"

She-Who-etc. just rolled her eyes and went back to reading a magazine.

I slunk off to the bathroom. Under the sink, I found a forgotten sliver of some un-nameable white soap. It didn't smell like anything at all and there were no wholesome bits of oatmeal to be seen.



Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Breaking News: Two Dead (UPDATE)

Local news reports that a woman driving a pickup truck struck three cyclists, killing two. The crash happened along a popular cycling route west of Tulsa near Sand Springs.

...and the usual assortment of mouth-breathing goons showed up to comment on the story. Sometimes, people are sickening.

Television news reports show that the SUV left the roadway, traveling across the shoulder onto the grass verge. Tire tracks can be seen in the grass. The vehicle hit a stop sign and left the scene. The driver may have had an open container. She is in custody and will be tested for alcohol.


There's an announcement on local mailing lists that tonight's regularly scheduled Wednesday Night Ride will be a Ride of Silence out to the crash scene west of Sand Springs. It will be accompanied by a police escort.

Officially, no names have been released yet.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Golfers: Threat or Menace?

I came across this earlier today. It's a complaint about a bike path constructed along a public golf course. Now, pay attention. The path cost $3 million in public money and Flannagan is complaining about that cost while ignoring the simple fact that he's playing on a public golf course!

How could I resist?

Excerpts follow:

LaTourette bike path is a waste of money
by Tom Flannagan
Sunday June 07, 2009, 7:36 AM

The bike path trough LaTourette golf course is a wast of the city's money, says our columnist.

Those attractive bicycle paths at LaTourette have been complete now for several months and at a cost of $3 million dollars of taxpayer money for the three-mile stretch of cinder track that runs from Richmond Ave. to Rockland Ave.

...However, the bike riders are still absent...We ask why...the city has decided to spend $3 million on this unnecessary three-mile bike path at LaTourette?

In addition to that cost, there will be at least another $500,000 needed to build the new fourth green (already under construction) at LaTourette to allow more room for the missing bikers.

The construction of the new fourth will also become a problem when play begins, since we are now talking about a hole that will be a "dogleg right" and eventually will require the removal of some nice old trees in order to make the hole playable for the average golfer.

In a related story, the Broken Elbow Meteor News ran this editorial today:

What can we expect from men who dress funny and play with their balls?

In a new development here in Broken Elbow, rogue golfers are arrogantly flaunting the rules, golfing wherever they like. Strangely dressed men have been observed putting in crosswalks, shining their clubs, and even scrubbing their balls in public.

Sneering and yelling epithets as they whine across the landscape in cute little golf carts, they flaunt their supposed superiority while dressed in outlandishly funny clothing. They impotently wave their sticks in the air and shout obscenities at passerby. Common courtesy be damned. These golfers believe themselves to be an exalted form of the human species, determined to carry out their plans for world conquest, forcing the rest of us to pay homage by adopting the same dress code.

G. Winston Fotherington III summed up the attitude of his fellow golfers. "There's a very, very good reason so many view us as rude, arrogant jerks. Most of us are. And we don't care."

Fotherington says his group has a plan to clog the roads with roving bands of rogue golfers. Those of us in the lower orders are merely in the way of an elite few to who intend to golf wherever they want.

This community of privileged, white, self-absorbed golfers - though 'lawless band of thugs' is far more descriptive - encourages its members to treat the rest of the population as mere serfs, expected to tug their forelocks at the approach of their golf club wielding betters.

The arrogance of these rogue golfers is only surpassed by their taste in clothing. Grown men go out in public wearing clothes that came from a third rate dollar store re-selling cast-offs from a Shriners convention. To describe this stuff as garish is being too modest.

Why should our taxes be used to encourage more people to take up this barbarian 'sport'? Why should our hard-earned money be spent to support recreation for these people determined to make our lives harder?

Once, we had quiet streets lined with neat houses. But if these rogue golfers have their way, that will be nothing but a quaint memory as we dodge golf balls on our way to work. We'll be assaulted by shouts of "Fore!" in the parking lot of the grocery store, and our children will grow up in a climate of fear and intimidation as they see their parents, siblings, and classmates cut down in a hail of golf balls.

Please, for the love of God, help us put an end to this golfing menace before it's too late.


CycleDog makes the top 50 list!

London Cyclist has a list of the top 50 cycling blogs, and CycleDog is number 45! Andreas writes that the list may have overlooked some other cycling blogs that should be included, so if you have a favorite that should be on the list, he's asks that you contact him. Sure, that could bump CycleDog, but so be it.

Honestly, it's a fine list that has many of my favorites, including Cyclelicious at number 10. Fritz ought to be happy with that!

Two that I'd recommend for the next list are Cycle Dallas and Commute Orlando because both are written by knowledgeable, experienced bicycling advocates.

Finally, my thanks to Andreas for including CycleDog.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Living with blondes (Part 257)

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and Her Chief Understudy were planning to go shopping for some plants for the garden this afternoon. They went out and got into the car, but moments later, Mary came back in to say that Lyndsay couldn't get the car to back up. She was perilously close to hitting the garage door. The driveway slants down toward it.

Lyndsay got out from behind the wheel as I walked out the door. She'd already adjusted the seat and the mirrors. She turned on the radio, setting it to a favorite station, and she'd turned on the air conditioning. I ran the seat back so I could get in without impaling myself, then set about turning everything off. And then I did the one thing she'd omitted. I turned on the engine. It's not enough to simply have the key in the ingnition set to the ACC position. The engine actually has to be running before the car will back up the driveway.

Imagine that.

She stood there looking sheepish. "You're going to write about this, aren't you, Dad?"

"Well, yeah. How could I not?"

So there you have it. You're welcome, my love!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tulsa Tough Photos


I forgot to post a link to my Tulsa Tough photos on my Picasa Web Album. There are 126 photos in all.




Back in the saddle again...

You may have felt that tectonic shift over the weekend. The Earth moved on its axis. Stars nearly fell from the sky and the other planets may have experienced orbit perturbations.

A few weeks back, Number One Son lost his job waiting tables. I don't want to go into it because I get the feeling his version of events should be prefaced with "Once upon a time."

That's old news. The good news is that he's found another job. The bad news is the fact that he needs transportation for work and school - and that would be summer school due to his somewhat casual relationship with the regular school year. He was 'invited' to attend summer school on pain of not being invited to graduation next year.

What does all this mean? Well, with three drivers needing transportation and only two motor vehicles, someone has to be 'deprived' of a car. Naturally, I volunteered. I'm not perturbed about that, of course, since I really enjoy riding at this time of the year.

No, what's on my mind is more properly referred to as what's on my butt. It hurts. I've been off the bike long enough that I have to get re-acclimated to spending time on the saddle. It helps that the Bianchi has a well-broken-in Brooks Professional. There's this one spot that, well, I could show you, but then I'd probably go to jail.

It doesn't help that it was 95F here yesterday. The south wind made it more bearable. I picked an easy gear and went spinning along with the tailwind. I drank an entire water bottle on the way. My legs were loose and except for a sore butt, I felt good. Mary and I ran some errands, and since she wasn't feeling well, I made dinner and cleaned up the kitchen.

I fell asleep just after sundown.