Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I began this back in May. Tonight, I re-visited it and decided to finish it, or at least complete the thought.

"Early to bed, Early to rise" might ryhme nicely with "Makes a man healthy wealthy and wise". But like most slogans canned for public consumption, the sentiment neglects to fill in the details. Like for instance, the actual work and abilities needed to attain wealth, health, and wisdom.

Regardless, this AM I have awakened early and by 5 had completed my morning rituals, such as they are. And now I find myself at loose ends. This is unusual. Most mornings are spent in a semi frantic state trying to be where I need to be on time. Insomnia has been a mainstay in my life for several years now. Sleeping a solid 6 or 7 hours is an unusual occurence. My best sleep comes when other folks are getting up. So I wake and have to go full bore out of the gate just to catch up.

I run my own business. It is a small bike shop located in a small town in Maine. When I opened up 7 seasons ago, I was sure I would be successful. I am not sure the success I envisioned at the beginning is what I will end up with. At this point in time, I am hoping to survive another season. Success being able to open my doors next year in better shape than I did this year. It is frustrating to put so much labor into something for such little reward. I am tired of living like a Laotian immigrant.

But I chose this. I gave up a decent job to pursue my dream. If blame is laid, I must bear the full brunt of it. And I do. My problem right now is finding the energy to attack another season. I have slowly lost my enthusiasim over the last 6 seasons. Will I have or be able to find the necessary energy level to get through this one coming up? I have no choice. I have to. Too much money and effort invested to this point.

I know I cannot continue like I have forever. To address this, I have finally come up with an exit strategy. I fought the need to have one. I viewed admiiting I needed one as a type of failure by itself. But I guess every business in trouble needs to plan for a sane and orderly closure. Just closing the doors and walking away might feed the fantasy in my mind, but the reality is it would cause more pain and discontent than closing with a plan. So I have a plan in place now. I hope to not implement it, but it is there when and if I need it.

The problem with failure is all in the mind. We have been ingrained with the idea that failure is a bad thing. Certainly it is not as good as success, but it is not as bad as we paint it out to be. Failure will often suck the life out of us. But often failure shows us what we are made of. Tenaciously, many of us hang in there until they pry that last great idea out of our cold dead hands. Timidly, many will be smart and find an easier way through the flow. Which ever avenue we choose, failure will teach us a lot about ourselves. The problem lies in paying attention.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Thanks for the Mammaries

What is it with guys and their fascination with women's breasts? And what's up with women and their fascination with their own breasts? Our culture seems to have developed an unhealthy fixation for all things pertaining to tits. As a piece of personal outerware, boobs are a nice add on. But if they get too big, you wonder whether there should be a counterweight hooked to the butt in order to maintain an even keel.

Women will get a boob job. After they have had the size 44 D implants implanted, they are sure they will become popular. Sure the guys are going to look. We cannot help staring at women's breasts. I think it is a genetically inserted gene that creates the need to look at breasts. Any breasts. Big ones, small ones, danglers, old ones, new ones. We just cannot resist that first impulse to look. Where women make a mistake is they think with the look, a judgement is being made. Sometimes yes, but more often than not, it's just an uncontrolled action and the guy thinks, "Damn, did it again. Why can't I look at her without noticing the Ta Ta's?"

Believe me, most guys do try to not be disgusting sex crazed pigs. But when you ladies walk around looking like you do, sounding like you do, and swishing like you do, you make it hard for us. And it doesn't help matters when you rearrange things to a natural focal point. Let's face it, big boobs just shout, "Lookee here, we want to be gawked at". So we do what we think you want us to do. We look. And then get slapped upside the head for our trouble.

Personally, I favor jugs that look like they belong. When a 115 pound woman walks by sporting a set of 40 pounders, I am not titillated. I am awestruck. Astounded and perplexed that she could possibly be proud enough to have crammed them into a tube top too small with no support structure to keep them from knocking her out should she need to move out of the way of, say a runaway truck or crazed cab driver.

But supposedly the bigger the boobs, the better. I have always been puzzled by this. As a kid growing up, I was certainly fascinated by the buxom young wenches I saw in the various skin mags my friends stole from their fathers, uncles, or brothers. We would all sit around and go, "Whoa, check out this set." Pass the mags around and be predictably impressed by the big racks. But rather than cause my pubescent juices to flow, viewing large bettys had the opposite effect. I found small breasted women much more attractive. And still do. And besides, I'm a butt guy. But that's another tale.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

U R a Stoopid Head

I came home from work tonight. Ate some grub and then sat down here to do some surfin. The 3 or so forums I usually toss my board into were dead calm. Low Tide. Not a breaker in the bunch. Just the usual anti this, screw that and you're an idiot posters having their regular feeding frenzy after supper. I often jump right in, but my heart just is not in it right now. I am feeling some burn out coming and may have to vacate the boards for some R and R.

I love slapping down the obnoxious and stupid as much as the next guy, but at some point, the dumbasses all seem to spew the same crap. And there are so many of them. Like some suicidal peasant mob brandishing scythes, rakes, and hoes, they pour through the ether asking to be cut down like hay on a hot June day. Fun for awhile, but eventually my fingers can't take poundin out the words to put em down. They just overwhelm me with their stupidity. And end up victorious through the use of sheer numbers.

When the mood for combat is not in me, I will often just sit and lurk. As I happen upon a post that is particurarily inane or vacuous, I will pause, close my eyes and imagine the poster in physical form. For some reason, they most always conjur up as thickly bespectacled, skinny and wearing a plaid shirt with beef stew stains from their last repast dribbled onto a small paunch that is reaching for the edge of their desk. The gleam in their eyes read, "I'm a tough guy, read this you loser". And they manically pound the keys, paying only cursory attention to the actual letters they produce. Each key punch a fist in the gut, a knee in the crotch, or finger in the eye of the guy they are after. They are the dweebs everyone picked on in school. The kids who never caught on to the hip in their corners of the world. The guys always picked last when choosing sandlot teams. But in here, this anonymous void, they become tigers and bad asses. You don't fool with them cuz they's bad motor scooters.

The folks I especially love are the Ao-elites. These people are in love with taking grammatical shortcuts, acting as if it is cool, but really just hiding the fact that they have no writing skills and cannot spell their way out of a paper bag. "U R a Stoopid Head". I read something along those lines and I know to move along. Do not pause. Do not even contemplate understanding, let alone responding. To respond is to enter a comical world where having a clue is useless and making a point not necessary.

At the other end can be found high on their horse, the pontificator, the know it all, the "You are an idiot, only I have true wisdom in all things human or divine", poster who lives to condescend and denigrate. I have been accused of this. I have been guilty of this. I am trying to crank it back a tad. But it is so hard to do when I know how special I am. I tend to call em as I sees em. And all I sees is "Stoopid Heads".

Of Course, I know I am not special. I am not unique. There isn't much I can come up with someone else has not already said more eloquently and succinctly than I. But years of athletic competition have proven that while there is always someone faster than I, there will always be someone slower. The genetically inbred food chain code allows me no alternative but to feed on the the slow and the weak. A slow moving target is better than no target at all. The tricky part is keeping an eye out for the bigger fish while reeling in my own meal.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where the F**k is Howard?

The following words relate my most immediate impressions left over from racing a mountain bike for 24 hours on a team of 5 people. They do not give the whole picture, but hopefully leave you with a feel for the essence of that type of madness. To dedicate 24 straight hours to any activity takes focus and dedication. 115 teams came to Great Glen, NH this past weekend. They came to test that focus and dedication. My experience is but one of hundreds of different twists on the same theme. Riding a bicycle in the woods for 24 hours.

 "Howard! Howard! Where the fuck is Howard!" 

These words floated up the valley to me as I plunged down "The Chute" at dark-thirty in the morning during my second night lap at Great Glen. I remember this plaintive cry only because of the overwhelming silence that comes with that time of night. I smiled as I hit that last bit of singletrack to the finish/lap area. I knew what was up. Howard wasn't up and some poor slob was finishing with no Howard there to take the baton. 

I sit here days later and remember the anxiety I felt this year. I remember not wanting to go. I remember the 3 weeks of next to no riding because of stomach issues. I remember the last minute decision to not bail and leave my team in a lurch. I remember resignation to some fate worse than death. I was not ready by any stretch of the imagination. Ride 40 to 50 miles off road? Hell, I would be lucky to make it one lap, let alone the 5 planned for me. I dwelled on the fact that I was not happy to go but was now pleased that I did. I rose to the occaision and carried my weight. Not pride so much as self-satisfaction.

It's been three days and I can still feel the torn and bruised muscles. I close my eyes and I can see every turn and transition in the 7 plus mile loop. I remember every dab, every success and the bone deep weariness as I rode that first daylight lap. I remember odd things. A smile from one of the course monkeys as I cleaned a section barely in control. The look of concern the lap folks showed as I stiff-legged my way to the table to check in after a lap. I remember this one empty gel packet I saw on my first lap and every lap thereafter. But most of all, I remember the massage. That manipulation of my tortured muscles that gave me new life and the willingness to go one more time. 

We brought two teams with us. "Recycled CRUM's" and CRUM's Dirty Bums". The recycled guys were our serious contenders. In the 4 man master class, they were determined and focused on re-living the glory of last year. They were machines. 32 laps later, they would finish on top and once again bask in the spotlight. The Dirty Bums raced the 5 person co-ed class. We just wanted to finish better than last year. 

Lis, my daughter was the star. Her 3 out of 5 laps of under 50 minutes balanced out my 5 laps of over an hour. We ended up 5 places better than last year. Great Glen once again reinforced the feeling of tribal goodwill in the mountain bike world. I came away having re-visited some off road friends from my past and I made a couple for the future. I ran into Maurice again. He did not remember our first encounter. Nor was I clear at which bike show we had met, just that we had met. I was politely straightened out by Thanita on how to pronounce her name. Their laid back ways and comping me a Two Fish strap-on bottle holder took me back to the days of earlier races in the 80's. 

So it goes at a 24 hour race. Pounding out lap after lap, hoping the next one is your last one. And sometimes the last lap is your last, even if your team mates don't think so. I now have two of these odd events under my belt. I am not sure why I love it, but I do.