Dec 29, 2009

In no particular order

Here’s a list of things that I wanted for Christmas, but I didn’t get.

Garmin Edge 500: Every day I’m reminded at work about the importance of data integration in order to make life simpler. With the Garmin Edge 500, I can have that. And I want that. Apparently I’ve officially drunk the ESRI Kool Aid if the reason behind me wanting a Garmin Edge 500 is data integration. Never mind that I don’t care anymore that Big Brother can track my every move when I’m equipped with my new Garmin Edge 500. I gave up on trying to dodge the Man years ago, when I started carrying a cell phone. Next Christmas I’ll probably be asking for a barcode tattoo so the Feds can label me with a number, and the Christmas after that, I’ll be asking for a computer ID chip to be placed inside my body so they can even keep track of me when I’m in the shower.

Compression Socks: Every day I surf the web I’m reminded of how slow I am compared to the likes of Julien Absalon, JHK, the Dart, and especially Jens Voigt. As a 36-year-old working-class bike racing hack, I need all the help I can get. If a pair of compression socks can even make me think that I could be getting faster, then I’ll take a pair and I’ll wear them all over town. I’ll take a black pair in size 9.

Steve Berg as my butler: Well, not only my butler, but also as my bike mechanic, welder, barista, and barber. And that’s not all he’s good for. I heard he knows martial arts, can play the drums, and since he’s straight edge, he’d make the ultimate Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. I used to think Trevor and Aaron were the Jack-Of-All-Trades, but I think Steve has surpassed them in that classification. When’s the last time Trevor or Aaron made me a pumpkin pie latte, gave me a straight razor shave, rebuilt my Rock Shox SID, and welded the crack in my car muffler all in the same day? Never. I think I’ll classify Trevor and Aaron under Master of None. Come to think of it, Steve hasn’t done any of those things for me either, but if he’s going to be my butler, you can be damn sure he’ll be doing that and then some. I’m confident his wife, Naomi, won’t even notice he’s gone.

A Frank Lloyd Wright house: If I’m going to have I butler, I guess I’m going to need a house. And what can I say about Frank Lloyd Wright and his houses that haven’t already been said on Wikipedia? The man’s house designs are right up my alley; simple with straight lines, yet elegant as hell. One summer when I was working the Honda Wing Ding in Madison, WI, I passed up the chance to tour a few of the houses Wright had built in the Madison area. Instead, I went drinking with the guys from Dunlop, which led to a no holds barred bread eating contest at Carrabba’s. Pound for pound, I won, but today I feel like a loser for not going on the Wright tour. Anyway, it sure would be nice to have a low-slung Wright roof over my head to keep my Garmin Edge 500, compression socks, and butler warm and dry during this freezing California winter ahead.

Hopefully you got everything that was on your Christmas list; even if it’s over-priced, fattening, frivolous, made in a sweatshop, can shoot you’re eye out, is bad for the environment, and can be used by the Man so he too can see you when you’re sleeping.

Dec 16, 2009

I stand before you today not the same man I was in Y2K

You needn’t be Ken Jennings to figure out that ‘tis the season for the media and nearly everyone with a blog to reflect on the past twelve months. And because we’re also nearing the end of a decade, many are reflecting on the passing of the last 120 months.

Case in point, Rolling Stone Magazine recently listed their top 100 albums and songs of the decade. I’m satisfied to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ song “Maps” made it into the top 10. The same song made another magazine’s top 10 love songs of all time. I agree. The angst ridden song could be #1 for tunes that “stir your emotions and then stab you in the heart” if there was such a list.

Other notables, in my opinion, from the Rolling Stone list of songs of the decade are The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” in #6, my Amy’s “Rehab” in #8, and the Man in Black’s version of “Hurt” in #15. If you must read the entire list, you can find it here.

As far as their list of the decade’s best albums go, I’m content with the fact that Radiohead’s Kid A is numeral uno, and that Jack and Meg made it to #5 with Elephant, and even pleasantly surprised that Arcade Fire’s Funeral is listed as #6, but how in the hell did Amy’s Back to Black get pushed back all the way to #20, why is Death Cab’s Transatlanticism way back in #57, and why Lord, why is Plans absent from the entire 100? I’m suspect of lists like these, yet at the same time, I’m also a sucker for them. Here’s the entire list.

Moving forward, the purpose of this is not to dwell on someone else’s list, but to create my own. What can I say about the 2,000s? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was… maybe, possibly, probably the greatest decade so far in my 36 years. The strange thing is that the first few years of the decade seem like a different lifetime to me now. In the years between 2000 and 2009 lies, to paraphrase Dickens a second time, a tale of two lives.

The motorcycles and all the fruits they once bear have ridden off into the sunset. That life and career has set sail, along with the house and the spouse. They’ve all been replaced by bicycles, geodatabases, and most importantly, a boy. If you go back through the archives of this blog starting in 2002, you’ll find the only constants are words and music. Oh, and the suffering. We mustn’t forget the suffering.

So actually, I don’t need to make a list of the decade’s best times. Here, in the lines and images of this blog, they already exist. The worst times? Just read between the lines…

Dec 9, 2009

The Bastardization of English Punctuation & Grammar

We’ve got a problem. All over this country, and the world too, kids are learning to read and write English with more bad and inaccurate influences than ever before. Due to the internet (blogs mostly), kids are now exposed to not only violent and sexual content, but poorly written content too. Until recently the most poorly written thing that a kid could get his hands on was a comic book, or maybe some P.E. Class Rules written by the basketball coach. The scary part is that a lot of the people writing on the web are of the age that they should have learned proper punctuation and grammar with few outside influences, yet they still can’t seem to get it right. Imagine how poorly the upcoming generations are going to write if they continue to read this crap. Have some self respect people.

Some want to save the whales. Some want to save the ta-tas. That’s all fine and dandy, but in the future, how will people make a statement about saving the whales and the rain forests if they don’t even possess the writing skills to produce a bumper sticker? That’s why I want to “Save the Written Word.” Let’s get started.

Quotation Marks
Place quotation marks before and after the exact words of a speaker or writer.

  • Greg said, "I drank with Edward today."
  • "No," replied Steve, "I’m cutting hair tomorrow."
  • "There’s a sale at Penny’s," he said.
Use quotation marks to enclose the names of television shows, short poems, essays, short stories, and chapters from books.

  • Everyone should read "The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
  • Sarah Palin’s "Going Rogue" makes great kindling for a fire.
  • David Hasselhoff was drunk on last night’s "America’s Got Talent."
Use quotation marks sparingly to emphasize sarcasm, irony, or humor. Avoid overuse of this technique; if the irony or humor is obvious, there is usually no need to highlight it with quotation marks.

  • He’s a "professional" mountain bike racer.
  • The Saturday "World Championships" finishes on Victoria Avenue, west of Washington Street in Riverside.
Exclamation Points
An exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence or after an interjection to show strong emotion or emphasis.

  • Exclamatory sentence: Mark crashed again!
  • Strong command: Cover that break or else!
  • Interjection: F-word!

Beware of overusing exclamation points. Using them too frequently makes them less meaningful. Don't use an exclamation mark unless you're certain it's necessary and never use two or three of them in a row:

  • The singletrack was awesome!!!
  • Don’t be ignorant!!!

Capital Letters

Capital letters should be used according to these rules.

Use a capital letter for the personal pronoun 'I':

  • Why can’t I drink beer inside Barnes & Noble

Use a capital letter to begin a sentence or to begin speech:

  • The man did two cyclocross races in one day. Then he threw up.

Use capital letters for many abbreviations and acronyms:

  • P.Y.T. or PYT (Pretty Young Thing)
  • T.S.O.L. or TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty)

Use a capital letter for days of the week, months of the year and holidays:

  • Monday, Tuesday
  • January, February
  • Christmas, Beverage Day

Use a capital letter for countries, languages, nationalities and religions:

  • China, France
  • Japanese, Spanglish
  • Christianity, Buddhism

Use a capital letter for people's names and titles:

  • William Shakespeare, Chad Ochocinco
  • Captain Kirk, Dr Kevorkian

Use a capital letter for trade-marks and names of companies and other organizations:

  • Stone Brewery Co.
  • BevMo!
  • Alcoholics Anonymous

Use a capital letter for places and monuments:

  • London, Paris, Colton
  • the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Jerky Hut
  • St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Loch Leven
  • Oxford Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Mentone Boulevard
  • Asia, the Middle East, the Inland Empire

Use a capital letter for names of vehicles like ships, trains, bicycles and spacecraft:

  • the Titanic, the Starship Enterprise, the A-Team Van
  • Challenger 2, Sputnik, Madone, Mercedes, Yugo

Use capitals letters (sometimes!) for headings, titles of articles, books and newspaper headlines:

Bold Words

Bold words should be use to signify proper nouns, key points and significant messages. Do not over-use bold words unless the word is absolutely relevant.

  • When it comes to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.
  • Never a poster boy for sobriety, Shane MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues several years ago for his erratic behavior.
  • The next installment of Save the Written Word will concentrate on sentence structure and parts of speech.


Dec 8, 2009