Saturday, September 30, 2006


Maps. I really like maps. Any map. Trail Maps, street maps, state maps, hand drawn maps, old maps. Shoot, I never read a map I didn't like. Even when I was a little tacker, maps fascinated me. Imagination and an eight year old brain could only dream of what went on in Minot, State College, or Timbuktu. Exotic places conjured up images of Carribean pirates and Henry Morgan pillaging up and down the Spanish Main. Tracing Magellan's route around the globe to find the island he died on. Maps brought the world into perspective.

Yeah, maps took me on many a journey when I was young. It was a natural progression to rely on them for my living when I matured. I can't remember how many Rand McNally interstate atlases I shredded during my million plus miles pedaling a tractor trailer through Canada and the lower 48. By the time I was done with them, pages were missing, torn, and made illegible by thousands of dirty finger prints.

Maps still play an important role. Now it is trail maps. Ever seaching for that one trail that has it all. Drops, twisty single track, in my face upstrokes and white knuckle downstrokes. I will pore over a US Geological map for hours checking out altitude changes and checking for low wetlands. Looking for old county roads, logging right of ways, and those pesky little minute dotted lines that may indicate a technical rider's delight.

I have considered many things regarding maps. For instance, maps must of been the first form of writing our low browed knuckle dragging ancestors used. Maybe even before meaning was assigned to the grunts and chortles of the newly evolved Sapiens. Think about it. Spoken communication was not invented, yet somehow the next waterhole or stand of berries had to be found. A stick dragged through the sand marking the spot where the fresh killed mammoth lay waiting to be consumed. Had to beat jumping up and down grunting and waving their arms.

But as handy and informative as maps are, why are so many people unable to read them? What is it that confuses otherwise intelligent folks when they open up that atlas to find the best way through Lincoln, Nebraska. Their eyes will glaze over. Turning the map this way, then that way and finally upside down in a futile attempt to locate their position on a 2 dimensional plane. They might know where they are going. They might know where they have been. But often they cannot figure what town they are in.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

According to this guy anyway

On a forum in a galaxy far away a troll posted an over the top Op/ed piece written by a rabid left leaning, Bush hating, doom and gloomy dude. The point was predictable, the premise bizarre and the conclusions reached were out there for sure. Seems this fellow is positive Bush will nuke Iran. Not maybe, or he might. It is gonna happen. According to this guy anyway. After the typical "You Libs suck and you Neo cons eat babies rhetoric,

Serendipper posted this opinion: "Why doesn't Bush send terrorists to intimidate our enemy? He vowed to use their own tactics against them. It doesn't make sense to fight an asymetrical war with old school military theater tactics. I thought that our enemy was Al-Caida, not a rogue nation-state. Now I'm not sure who we are fighting. "

Never one to let an opinion get away without my twist, I replied;

"Serendipper - I have felt right along that our reaction after 9/11 was exactly or close to what Al Quada(sic) and associates wanted. This over the top op/ed piece is just icing on the cake. Not only has this small group managed to throw the fear of God into the West, they now have the satisfaction of watching us fear ourselves. Hollywood could not come up with a better and more bizarre story line.

This stateless movement has no other agenda than destroying the infidels of the West and those inside their own religion. To do that, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. They conduct their war from the shadows with well timed acts of terror. And yet, we still attempt to fight them with conventional means that only drains us of men, money, and our will to continue. This piece is just another indicator of just how much will has been sapped.

Americans are an impatient lot. We have become used to instant gratification. We have learned to expect success. It does not take us long to lose interest if things do not go our way. This peculiar trait of ours is well known and has been for years. It is the one thing the Terror network can count on. And rather than beat that dead horse that we should never have entered Iraq in the first place, I contend this is a time we have to suck it up and see it through.

Admitting our mistakes, we still need to continue, but with a new focus and plan. We need to begin executing this conflict on our terms, not theirs. The growing infighting here has to cease. We need to come together with a plan that has the support of all. To do this, our administration first needs to stop being so damn bull headed.

Without admitting they screwed up (although everyone knows they did), Bush and his crew need to recognize that Iran is the pivot upon which this war on Terror revolves. Bombing them will not work. Invading them will not work. But a combination of grudging diplomatic respect and clandestine efforts to undermine their power structure, we might begin to chip away at their image inside and outside their borders. Because at this point, the terrorists are winning and so is Iran. A nuke on Tehran will not change that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Good Bike Karma. Bad Mike Karma

As soon as I manualed up onto the rock and it tipped, I knew I was going to put that first dinger in my new bike. Having no place to put my foot down, I tumbled 8 feet onto exposed rocks. My helmet went "Thwack" and a searing pain shot up my left leg as the sharp granite tore my knee open.

All I could do was lay there in agony and scream, "Fuck" as loud as I could. Apparently loud enough that the hikers up on "Indian's Last Leap" came scurrying down to check out the ruckus. As I struggled to my feet, two concerned citizens closed in. I turned and both of them looked at me and then at my knee. Their eyes grew big and one good samaritan offered immediate help via his damn cell phone and 911.

I hadn't looked at my knee yet. I was still trying to shake the cobwebs back into place and get through that first intense flash of pain. I hobbled away from my bike and the two good citizens. Trying to somehow walk it off and hide the tear-wrenching pain I was experiencing. Oddly the time I caught a soccer ball in the nads and both of the boys were driven up into my throat came into my mind then. This was that kind of pain. And I remembered the soccer coach saying, "Walk it off Crum." It took almost a week for the boys to find their way home again. It was a week of testicular torture. "Walk it off?" Yeah right. That never works. To all the coaches in all the world, why do you say that? Useless as medical advice and it certainly does not convince the pain to go away.

The pain subsided from intense to almost tolerable and I turned back towards my bike expecting the worst. I was sure my brand new, only been ridden twice, "Slayer 50" was as crumpled as I felt. But no. It lay there almost serenely, patiently reposed. Like I had set it down carefully in the pine needles just shy of the rocks. Ah Hah. Those rocks were meant for me, not my bike. Good bike karma, bad Mike karma.

I still had not looked at my knee. I would like to say it was a macho thing. Tough guy and all that. But the reality is I was afraid of what it was going to look like. As bad as it hurt, I was sure I had an emergency room visit in my immediate future. The less than impressed reaction from my wife and the loss of the rest of the day while I was prodded, poked, and stitched up became a distinct possiblity.

Instead of looking at the carnage I picked up my bike and leaned on it. Jeez, seemed okay. Spun the wheels and grabbed the brake levers. Everything was a go. And I could not find one dinger anywhere. Good bike karma, bad Mike karma.

I looked up at the two samaritans and smiled. Well a sort of smiling grimace I guess. I told them I would be just fine. I just needed a moment or two to collect my wits. They both looked dubious as I remounted my bike and attacked the same little stone stepper that had caused me so much pain a few moments ago. This time I cleaned it and proceeded to punish the wounded leg as I gimped up the trail from the river.

Once I tough guyed it out of the sight of the two citizens, I pulled up. Straddling the bike, I looked down at my knee. A wave of nausea washed over me. My knee looked as if it had been through a cheese grater with very long and very sharp teeth. Blood covered my leg from the knee to the ankle. Blood dripping skin hung off the wound in shreds. Stopping at the next creek crossing, I washed it up and decided I would live. Only one cut looked deep. Everytime I pulled it open, I could see that mysterious white layer that exists just beneath the skin. What was odd and a bit discomforting was it did not hurt, but the rest of the rock rash hurt like Hell.

It's been two weeks now since I dove off that ledge. I chose to not see a doc. I hate doctors. Well, I don't hate them per se. I hate what they do to me when I come in mangled, sick, or just out of sorts. Seems like I always have to bend over, cough, or stand around in a pajama top with no butt in it while they decide what part of my body to shoot deadly x-rays at. So I decided to self medicate. I kept the cut clean. I soaked it everyday. It bled for a couple of days. Then it oozed for a couple of days. Then it scabbed over and began to itch. It looks like I will have a spiffy dent in my skin just below the knee. And if I am lucky, a good scar to lie about.