Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I had a post almost done. Wrapped up with a spiffy kodak moment I took longer to find than write the post. This latest entry would fill us all in, me included, about the last 5 days I just survived lost in a flu inspired stupor. I had begun the recap in an attempt to unravel the sequence of events that started so innocently on Friday night with a scratchy throat. Then losing touch with reality for a few days and finally yesterday about 3:00 PM sitting in the Doc's office, waking up to the reality of post flu withdrawal and how much it always sucked.

Yeah, all I really had to do was punch the "Publish Post" and it was a done deal. As I am always concerned about typos and other such grammar madness, I decided to hit the head, come back and give it one more read through before I posted.

Well, the TV was on when I went by. I hesitated long enough to get sucked into another whacked "South Park" episode. I am not a diehard fan. But it has often made my sides hurt. Their nothing is sacred, everything can be funny take on the World we live in can be hilarious.

Tonight's episode was called "Kenny and the Hot Chick" I think. In a nutshell, the boys are in class with Mr Mackey and out of the blue, he informs them that male cat spray can get them high. So of course they head home, grab a cat, and make Kenny take a face full. Kenny starts trippin in a flying convertible driven by a hot chick sporting huge ta-tas. He wakes up downtown with his britches at half mast and Cartman and Kyle looking concerned and shaking him.

This is the beginning of a new drug craze in South Park. The kids call it "cheesin". Parents all over become alarmed and demand something be done. So they outlaw cats and begin rounding them up. Being caught with a cat can turn into serious jail time.

The episode then turns into a satiric look at the hypocritical attitudes adults seem to develop regarding drugs. Meanwhile, Cartman becomes a kind of Fat boy Schindler as he tries to save cats from being purged from South Park. People sneak their cats to him rather than turn them in. He fills his attic with them. And Kenny, well, he becomes a hopeless addict who lives to huff cat piss.

It all ends well of course, The adults finally wise up and realize that it is not the cats, but the user/abusers. They will never be able to rid their world of cats. The solution has to come from working on the addiction of the users. Kyle's dad points out that he had not huffed any cat piss for over ten years until they made it illegal. The cats are returned to their owners and the law is repealed.

I do wish I had not stopped to watch it though. After 5 days of coughing, my ribs are some tender. The laughter I tried to stifle to not make my ribs scream, made me cough again and well, full recovery is not as near as I had hoped. Damn it was funny.

My wife does not understand my fascination with "South Park". I don't understand her fascination with "Law & Order".

Monday, March 17, 2008

Task Force

I was just going to pull a hit n run at Loew's on my way home from handing off Rob's Bike to Fed Ex in Portland. I needed some fresh AA batteries and some Greased Lightening. And for the most part it was indeed a quick visit. Might have spent 10 minutes inside. Considering the fact I can spend hours wandering up and down the aisles seriously contemplating what project I could supply out of this aisle or that section, 10 minutes is barely enough time to make it from the entrance to the exit.

My usual routine is to spend at least 1/2 an hour lusting after and fawning over the lawn tractors before I even think to begin any particular trip through handyman heaven. I wonder if I will ever own another lawn tractor. And if I do, will my visits after be the same? Will I still run my fingers over the shiny red or green paint? Fondle the shifters as I drink with horny eyes the deep knob patterns of the drive tires. No, I think the romance will be over once I have decided to and actually have taken one of those 18 HP tauntresses home with me.

I vowed that today's trip was in, out, wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Follow the list with no deviation or stopping to flirt with those shiny 8 foot long Stainless Steel barbeques. Covering my eyes if I even come close to the power tool section. Tonight, I would be efficient. Business like.

I knew just where in aisle 5 to look for the Greased Lightening. I wash and degrease hunderds of bikes in a season. Finding a good bang for the buck degreaser is never far from my mind. Greased Lightening may not be perfection in a degreaser, but it works as well if not better than degreasers costing over twice as much. Kicks Simple Green's butt. When I buy it, I buy it by the gallon. And never have I left without at least two bottles. Like I said I wash a lot of bikes.

Knowing the batteries are always camped out near the automated check outs that scare me so much, I head right to them so I can leave without more temptations from deeper inside the beast. Check out and head home.

That was the plan. That was my best intention. The overall scheme.

But I am a guy. And guys are as bad as the ladies when confronted with the baubles, gadgets and gizmos that guys tend to collect as they pass through this life. As a guy, all I have to do is say to myself, "Oh look, they have flashlights next to the batteries. I am tired of that wimpy light I have to hold in my mouth or between my legs when I am trying to change the belt in the sno-blower."

I probably have 10 flashlights kicking around, but I still take 5 minutes to check out what Loew's is pushing as the latest and greatest in the flashlight world. Immediately it became clear, 5 minutes would not be enough time to give their selection the consideration it deserved. I wanted a light that would stand alone and still be adjustable to direct the light where I needed it. I settled on the Task Force 6 volt Z light. Only 13 bucks, came with a battery and the package assured me the Task Force would stand up and hold the light for me. I wouldn't have to deal with the running dialog that usually comes with the helping hand my wife provides.

As I hurried to my truck so I could bust open the package, insert the battery,and see how it worked, I realized that I am as weak as the next man when confronted by stacks of the things that I want. I have no right to the consuming moral high ground when considering my own tendencies to bring home more than was on the list. I am weak. I need to be protected from what I want.

Afterword to finish on a high note -

~ I wore blue today in remembrance of my ongoing inability to remember St. Patrick's Day. The day was almost gone when I realized my disrespectful attire. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

~ This post pounded out silently without any stumbling attempts to keep even a 4/4 beat going.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rug, Part One

We called him Rug. His real name was Norman. I don't know how he felt about being called Rug or would he have preferred Norm rather than Norman. I just called him Rug. He usually answered right off.

Rug grew up in Maine sharing a rundown old cape with 5 or 6 family members, the obligatory pack of nasty hounds and enough farm critters to cover them when grocery money was hard to come by. Typical generations old Maine family. Land rich, cash poor. White folks subsisting on cleverness and what came their way. Rug learned early Life was not going to admit it owed him anything.

The typical nickname scenario unfolded. Rug found his own nick name in his own unique way. Something about a party somewhere in the woods near an empty farm house, a rug, too much beer and way too many tokes over the line. There was a steep field of tall grass involved also. Seems Rug was located late the next morning rolled up into an old dusty musty nasty rug at the bottom of the hill. Passed out and drooling to beat the band. One tale said they looked for him for better than an hour before they spotted one puke covered Maine Hunting Boot sticking out. Figured he had wandered off into the woods. No one took the time to check for a body inside that rug down the hill. Not even Rug could explain exactly how he ended up there.

With those scary huge eyes and that large face stuck uncomfortably into my space, "Dude, we don't always know where we're going, why we're going, or how we got there."

A chuckle and then a grin fractures a face meant to laugh, "We just sometimes wake up and find ourselves there."

Rug headed off to war during the first Gulf flare up. Stayed in long enough to acquire those non com stripes and realize the World did not drop off some edge just past Rockchester, New Hampstah.

His 2nd hitch up, he put on new civies, some new sneaks, scored a bag of green bud, and enrolled in Trinity College somewhere in Vermont, Mass or Maine. Focusing on what he knew, what he grew up with, Rug had a notion that becoming a well rounded and educated future steward of our wild lands might just satisfy his urge to live off the land. Learned about Foresty, Recreation and Conservation. All that tree huggin stuff a guy needs to know just to understand what's hip in the lumber world today.

Rug met his life mate, Anne with an E, at Trinity. A no bullshit Brit from the comfortable family of a construction engineer. She had what it took to match Rug step for step, shot for shot. Giving as good as she got, Rug couldn't resist her toe to toe personality and those long legs. He fell in love. It seems she did too.

They moved to Springvale, Maine after having their fill of college and Rug built a one room palace on some land his ole man broke off the family land. With no running water and no electricity to run the blender for drinks, they settled in and made a life for themselves.

It was at this point or close that I first met Rug and Anne with an E.

Rug, Part Two

My first encounter with Rug was unsettling for me. He came into my shop with two other mill rat gonna-bes pushing a sad and poorly cared for mountain bike. In that typical Rug fashion, he was loud, crowded my safety zone, and tested me hard to see where I stood. Wanting impossible repairs by the next day, he insisted that I could drop what I was doing, put him at the head of the line, and make it happen. Wouldn't take me long, he was sure of that. Just needed some tweaking. Like a strutting Cock of the walk, Rug knew the World revolved around him.

Since I was positive the World revolved around me, I knew we were not going to hit off. I bit my tongue and turned the professional button on. That button that keeps my interactions with the public from turning ugly.

I put his bike on the stand and began to tick off all the problems that jumped off the bike at me. I turned the pedals, flipped through the gears, pulled on this, pushed that and felt tension there.

"Brake pads are toast. Your cables and housing are nasty and need replacing. The cranks are loose - most likely need a new Bottom Bracket. Both derailleurs are past their prime. Wheels need truing and by the way, have you ever cleaned this thing?"

I looked up at him. His eyes had a twinkle in them and the start of a smile, "So what you're telling me is this is a piece of shit".

"In a nutshell, yeah I guess I am."

"Can you fix it by tomorrow? They boys need someone to chase." I could almost see him puff up when he said that.

From the corner where the Camebaks hung gathering dust, one dark haired buddy he came in with said, "Rug you are so full of shit. I kick your ass on the trails and you know it."

Ten minutes of back and forth chest thumping male one upmanship later, I finally broke the male bonding unfolding on the floor, "So what do you want to do? Leave it and I can have it ridable in a week for around $75. Almost perfect for about $160.

Because of his size or just his alpha dog chutzpah, Rug was used to getting his way. He did not want to hear "next week". And after years of hearing "tomorrow?", I had become numb to any but the most intense intimidation or whining. Rug used both and I had him his bike the next day. Bastard.

The nine years that have elapsed since that first encounter have been interesting. Rug became a very good friend, a friend I could trust. Anne with an E became one too. The up front and honest way they carry themselves made it impossible to not like them. The loyalty they confer on those they see as friends has no strings, no alterior motives. Once a friend, always a friend.

My friendship with Rug and the rest of Team Burn proved I still needed to work on my tendency to make snap judgements. They proved to be more than the Mill Rat townies I thought they were. Sure they managed to piss me off and frustrate me sometimes, but never did I feel our friendship was tied to my cash register.

Rug does not ride as much now. He is curently finishing up a post beam home he and Anne with an E put up with their hands and some help from their friends. He pops in on occaision and makes me laugh. But rarely do we talk about bikes. His visits are that of a friend just keeping in touch.

AN Afterword that really should have been a before word -
A little fiction to make a token effort at disguising the person highlighted. At least that's the plan. How much fiction will depend on how loose with the truth I end up being.

*Post tapped in to the time and rhyme of Manassas, and a generous dollop of Bromberg and The Soggy Bottom Boys

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Pleasure of Writing

Sitting somewhat numbed and toasted from a frenzied episode typing my most recent post, I scrolled through some previous efforts and read pieces and parts from them. Stopping a moment to re-evaluate a picture or how I put an idea into words. Not staying long enough to criticize, I just re-read some thoughts I once had.

And then I began to write after aimlessly wondering through my blog. Music rips,tears and soothes the inside of my mind. Turned up past what most docs would consider sane, I let the music drive out all but the tune and whatever thoughts I manage to work in between the notes. My fingers dance over these keys in time with the music in a white boy sort of way. Hitting the important beats but stumbling enough to turn it into awkward exercise. Especially when I am attempting to type without mistake.

Letting all my worries and concerns drain away for a moment, I lose myself in the music. Thoughts flow freely without concerns for making sense, having a point, or addressing the important. Stream of conciousness on Full Tilt Boogie. Whatever I like, for instance, just like this.

Most times it sucks. Most times I delete the mess. Most times it is nothing even my ego wants to see again. But in those rare moments, those nights when stars cross each other just right, I will write something fun, something I want to share. And as a bonus, it all might just end up making sense.

This post pounded in and inserted hard to the time and rhyme of some Dave Mathews, David Bowie, and special thanks to Fun Lovin Criminals for "Scooby Snacks".

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Money for Nothing and Your Chicks are Free

So I punched up the "New Post" button. I guess I am now obligated to deliver. Perform. Shit or get off the pot.

Problem is I came here with nothing. A blank stare and a smile is all I got tonight. Running through the ole mental rolodex and all the pages come up empty. Guess I'll fall back on my old ways. When nothing is all there is, I just write nothing until something stops by for more than a quick cup of coffee.

Some tunes might help. Just a second.

There ya go,.........Tasty!

One of my mixes I burned from music legally bought and paid for was my one or two hit mix. No rhyme or reason, no thematic flow from one tune to another. The only rule, no more than two tunes from any one artist.

Naturally "Money for Nothing" was in this mix. If only because this tune had popped up in a discussion online today. Call it providence. Or predictable. Or just consider it a coinicidence. But there it was reminding me of that earlier insult, of being dissed by some internet forum flounder who thought I did not know who came up with this song. I was insulted and wrote him a sharp rebuking. The balls on this guy. I kept it civil. But my nose was out of joint fer sher.

And now it is Bonnie Rait wailing my favorite Bonnie Rait tune, "Give it Up". Jeez, this no rhyme, no reason, no theme mixing is turning out just fine. So far the CD really rocks. Rock, Soul, Jazz, a smidgeon of head bangin Metal just to keep an edge on it. Blues, electrified and acoustic, liberally sprinkled throughout to smooth those ruffled edges.

And just when I am feeling full of myself about the cool mix I just created, Ani "I hate men most of the time" DiFranco comes on and brings me back to Earth. Reminding me that I am indeed a Man. And we are not that cool afterall. Matter of fact most of us are assholes. Thanks Ani. At least your harsh and raw truth sounds great turned up to wow.

Afterthought, footnote, postscript>>>>>>>>>>>

When "Money for Nothing" came out, I had been out of the RocknRoll business a scant 4 or 5 years. Memories of that business come rushing back whenever I hear this tune. Let's just say that "Money for Nothing and Your Chicks are Free" just about sums up my experience. Getting a paycheck was not needed. I would have worked for free. So maybe now it makes more sense I was miffed when called out on my knowledge of this specific tune.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Was Never Lost, Just Misplaced

Carlita has tagged me with another one of those bothersome blog chores bloggers love to challenge each other with. When I first heard of this tagging thing, I thought, "How Lame". That was then, this is now. While many are indeed lame, many more become very interesting once I get my head around the challenge and approach them with a serious focus. I actually have fun doing it.

This one is "My six word memoir". And this time there was no real explanation of how it worked as I am guessing the title fills in all the blanks.

Six words that sum up to the best of my ability the trip I have traveled these last 56 years. Carlita offered up a link to a book of six word memoirs by people famous and not so famous. But I figured that researching what others had done would be kinda cheating. Or at the least dilute the originality of what I might come up with. So I did not look into what others have written with the exception of Carlita's own effort.

So I officially took the challenge. Sure that I would eventually come up with something succinct enough to meet the length standard and witty enough to inspire awe in all who read it because of my masterly use of the English language.........Right.

It's been several hours and several chores later now and I still cannot come up with something that satisfies. And I can't blow it off either. It's eating at me. It's tougher than I thought to boil my life down to six words. What follows are some of my choices.

Boy becomes Man the Hard Way

Using a Compass Did Not Work

Taking Up Space in the Void

Learning to live in the Pack

Seeking Sane Answers to Insane Questions

Dazed and Confused Sums It Up

All the Roads lead to Here

It's the Trip Not the Destination

I Was Never Lost, Just Misplaced

I settled on the last one. Not sure why. Most of my choices seemed to revolve around travel or finding something. Answers, peace, whatever. Life has been a search. The last one I think is probably the closest to how I feel. I was and still am prone to taking detours. But somehow, so far at least, I find my way back to the road I need to be on.

I will now tag Prester John, Laughingatchaos, KayinMaine, and Noah. We'll see if they want to play too.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Malicious Child

Hawaii, Photobucket
My daughter is such a loser. I know, I know. A father is supposed to love and cherish their little darlings no matter what nonsense or adventures they get themselves into. And do it without judgement or conditions. But I am not happy with her right at the moment.

She calls me up yesterday at the bike shop about 5:00. Outside my shop, the rain has been coming down for hours and still there are literally mountains of snow piled anywhere available. With me looking out on this dreary miserable wind down to a very brutal winter, she asks me, "Uh Dad, do you know someone on Team CRUM who might know where I can rent a bike in Hawaii when I fly out there this next week?"

Being the dutiful but dumass typical father, I immediately assume she is in need of my years of experience and wisdom. And I begin to seriously address her concerns about where to score a bike for her off time between softball games at the University of Hawaii. The entire discussion spent engrossed in conversation relating to her having a good time while in a tropical paradise for 6 days. I forget about my miserable existence dealing with weather best forgotten as soon as it passes, but has burned itself into my memory as one the all time worst winters I have lived through in Maine. I forget my own pain and throw my soul completely into her service. What a great Dad I was being. Dope is more like it.

She tells me the one other serious cyclist going with the team said he found a place that rented road bikes. But her heart is in the woods and the dirt. She wants a mountain bike, even if it never sees anything under the sneakers but tar. Being of a similar bent, I nod and understand. A road bike may get you there faster, but it really keeps you glued to the street. A mountain bike on the other hand will always make the street a breeze and if you happen to come across an enticing little dirt trail, you can head off the beaten track. More options with a mountain bike.

We end the call with me promising to ferret out what information I can and firing off an email ASAP. She's leaving on Monday, so of course she calls me on Saturday. Somewhere this is a written rule I am sure. The one that makes our children call with their little emergencies at the last minute. Some sort of genetic mental block is in force to prevent decent planning when this whole expedition was formulated in the first place. The block does not disappear until they have children of their own. I have learned it does no good to point this out to my child of 24. After 24 years both of us have become used to this system. No recriminations on my part and she doesn't have to feel guilty in front of me. All of that crap is taken for granted.

Mutual "Love Ya, Miss Ya's" and we hang up.

It was not until I had worked my fingers to the bone googling, forming a lengthy email of at least 100 words and a couple of links did it dawn on me there was the possibility of some devious and mean motives on her part. I am sitting in front of one of those touristy pictures of Hawaii just like the one at the top of the post and I think, "Damn it sure sucks to be me. I'm not going to Hawaii. But my daughter who I slaved years of my life away for and sacrificed so much for is. And now she calls me up with some trumped up excuse just to rub it in my face.

Have a nice trip Lis. Remember, pay back's a bitch.


More on Hawaii as this trip Lis is taking brought back some memories. You have been warned.

I lived in Hawaii as a young lad in the late 1950s. My dad was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base. This hotel on Waikiki Beach, "The Royal Hawaiian" was the last Hotel on the beach at that time. Nothing but coconut trees and sand from there all the way to Diamond Head. If you look at the picture at the top and remove every single one of those monstrous hi-rises, you might get an idea of what it looked like. My family spent a lot of time at the Hawaiian. Mom and Dad would plop me on the beach and head inside for drinks. I had a great time.

I know I do not harbor the well remembered memories of that time an adult would have filed away. My memories of Hawaii are all jumbled up, exaggerated, and missing huge chunks due to having had the experience at the age of 5 and 6. But the few memories that have hung in there still come back to me crystal clear and sharp.

Weekends spent at Bellows Beach in the cottage on the rocks overlooking the blowhole. The time I watched the huge Hawaiian Life guard I used to bother incessantly suddenly jump up, run into the ocean and then minutes later pull some poor bastard out who had been attacked by a shark. That was my first remembered experience of blood in huge amounts. His wound was not fatal, but his leg was a mess of blood and torn tissue.

I remember winning the state freestyle championship for 8 and under. I remember it well because I did not want to compete. I was only 6 and felt seriously intimidated by those huge 7 and 8 year old kids. My brothers literally dragged me up to the blocks. Shaking and quivering I started and was in dead last off the blocks but then 25 yards later came out of the pool as a winner. Everyone was cheering. And then I was okay with it.

I remember being a pain in the ass for the AP's on base. They had to bring me home after curfew more than a couple of times. And how unimpressed Dad was about it.

I remember we were quartered right across from the parade grounds. And my school was just a short walk from there, but I never consistently showed up with both shoes on my feet. Damn, that pissed off my mom. I never understood why she did not believe me when I said I had lost them.

I remember the swim team went on a bus to a swim meet and when we all got back in the bus, one of the nice ladies who helped with the team stood up in the front of the bus and held up a small pair of whitey tighty underpants. In a voice that split the kid noise like a knife she loudly asked who they belonged to. Mortified because the bare ass inside my shorts told me they were mine, I kept mum. They never did find out whose undies they were. I was guilt ridden for days until I finally owned up to it to my mom. She looked at me oddly and then just laughed and gave me a hug.

I remember the National Geographic magazines at school in First grade were my first exposure and acknowledgement of naked bodies. Us guys followed the lead of the bigger kids giggling and laughing as one of them turned the pages and pointed to exposed breasts. I am sure I had no clue why, but they were giggling, so it must have been funny.

I recollect endless cocktail parties on the lanai of our house while Dad and all his officer buds barbecued, drank hard and in the wee hours told really dirty jokes. I used to fall asleep to the sound of clinking glasses, thick clouds of tobacco smoke and sporadic roars of laughter.

I remember playing in the DDT fog sprayed out of the back of the spraying truck that did regular rounds on the base. It smelled good and the truck drove slow enough we could run behind it.

Witnessing the last fist fight my older brothers ever had. They were 13 and 14 years older than me so their fight was with the bodies of young men at the hard body age of 18 and 19. They were on the front lawn going at each other like strangers in a bar fight. I was sure they would kill each other and was scared to death. Then my father came out and tried to wrestle them apart. He was flung to the ground. I really started to panic sure now someone was going to die. But Dad just got up and walked over to them as they were locked together in a mutual death grip. He bent down, stuck his fist between them and brought it up hard. They seperated like a stick of firewood being split. Doug fell down bleeding from the nose and Joe sat down hard. Problem solved.

It's odd the different things and situations that trigger memories. It is always a pleasure though when the trigger fires off good ones. Well mostly good ones.

I'm gone.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I promised myself when I started this blog, I would keep political comments to a minimum and especially keep from venting my spleen about our current president. Once again I have proven my ability to make promises I cannot keep.

I made the mistake or call it the decision to drop in at a political forum I used to hang out in. Bike Forum's "Politics and Religion" sub forum. Naturally my intention of just stopping by to say "hey" turned into more than that. Anyway, a thread about a recent British decision to ban RAF uniforms on personell while off base caught my attention. As most threads do, this one deviated from the original point into one about respect. Respecting the uniform turned into respect in general.

I stated this:
"IMO, the bottom line is everyone should start out being respectful of everyone else until such time that person does not deserve their respect. There are degrees here you know. I think half the problems in the World would be eased somewhat if we all looked upon each other for ways to find respect instead of the typical "You have to earn my respect" stupidity."

Being a political forum, President Bush naturally came up at some point.

I will not rehash all the back and forth flames and threads in the past that focused on how he deserves our respect just because he is president. People have very intense feelings about this. No need to point out the obvious takes one way or the other. That is with the exception of my own take of course. Hey, it's my blog.

I am very comfortable in my own mind seperating idea of the office of President from the individual. The position deserves to be respected, but when I see an individual president disrespect it by their action in our name, I have no problem calling them out. And I firmly feel that Bush has done the office true harm during his tenure. But then I pretty much feel most them have in one way or another. Don't get me started on Bill Clinton. Or Daddy Bush or Reagan. But of them all, I feel this Bush has tarnished the position like no other president in my lifetime.

Which brings me back to my quote up there in blue. I honestly did try to respect Bush once he took office even though he had underwhelmed me when he was governor of Texas. I gave him some latitude. Not much maybe, but I did try to hold judgement until he had some real prez time under his belt.

Some might think it was Iraq that did it. But no. It was his poor fiscal policies right out of the gate that brought him down in my eyes. Tax cuts? What a dumass idea. A bandaid knee jerk feel good fool em with some six pack money bullshit. Iraq just sealed his fate in my eyes.

So I guess my feeling that we need to respect first until such time it is proven to be wrongly placed is still intact. But when considering my president, the rope I hand out is very short indeed.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Out of the Loop

Many months ago I became fed up with the Politics and Religion sub forum at Bike Forums. Every political forum I have participated in had it's share of acrimony, ankle biting, sniping and insults. But the atmosphere there had become overrun with posters intent on insults rather than the heated exchange of political viewpoints. It seemed denigrating each other had become the goal rather than laying into each other with good political zingers.

I could say that I was above it all. I could tell you I refused to sink to the depths many had already sunk to. But I can't. I became one of the mob. I began to focus on personal attacks rather than sticking to the point of the threads. I was not as transparent as many were. But my responses had become poisoned by the animosity I felt from and toward others. So I left. Not because of any one poster or group of posters. But because I did not like what I was turning into.

Fast forward to the here and now. I just took a few minutes to re-visit the PnR sub forum there. And guess what? I am now no longer allowed access other than as a lurker. In an effort to reign in the worse offenses of non topical exchange, the forum is now "By invite only".

My knee jerk reaction was to be insulted and my feelings hurt. I had never been banned for any words I wrote. Not even warned. Since I had successfully shaken my addiction to this forum, I first thought, "Who the Hell cares anyway? I was just gonna pop in and say Howdy". But there were posters there I did miss.

As it turned out, restricting entry to PnR was what appeared to be the final attempt by the moderating staff to instill some civility back into that particular sub forum. I could see something like this coming before I left. A small group of trolls and whiners had combined their efforts so that the mods were being called upon to referee much too often. It was obvious they were fed up.

They could have just made the forum disappear. It is not as if a political forum is really needed in a cycling forum. But they did the decent thing and came up with this restricted entry policy instead.

I had uninhibited access to the rest of Bike Forums. The PnR section was but a small part of the huge place it had become. I could certainly say Hello in other threads. But It would not have been right. I was a PnR rat. I came for the bikes but stayed for the politics. The Politics dungeon where all the malcontents exist.

This whole experience has brought up the idea of community and just what that means today. The Internet with all it's possibilities for bringing people together has certainly tweaked the idea of community. Through impressive interactions of man made gadgets and a little electricity, I have connected with people all over the globe. Complete strangers come together without introductions or the formalities of travel or arranged meetings. No special qualifications needed, just a computer and a modem.

International borders do not mean what they used to. Because of the Internet, like minded souls from different corners of the World are finding each other. For obvious reasons, this bothers the Hell out of established governments everywhere. The threat the Internet poses to the stability of their hold on their various citizenry's is profound. No government likes the free exchange of ideas. Not even the USA. Information passed unfiltered without the desired twist is a recipe for trouble in government eyes.

We are in the infancy of the Internet Age. The beginning of it all. No one has a clue where all this new freedom will lead. It seems there are two paths. One leads the World to more freedom and the possibility of a better World for everyone. The other road leads to to more repression and less freedom. The World declines into a modern High tech version of the Dark Ages. Current trends are not clear cut, but many offer troubling conclusions for our future. Regardless, we are witnessing profound and historic re-arrangements of the World Order. And at it's center is the computer and the Internet that evolved from it.