Interesting Times. But, Let’s Not Talk Politics.

It seems that cycling has become a more popular hobby of late, in my hometown anyway, but I suspect the local is not a completely unique sample section. Sure, I have memories from childhood of the group of Sunday cyclers who would clog local roadways in their tour around town, but it seems that more and more regular people are making a more regular habit of donning their cycling uniforms and taking to the streets on their bikes. A friend of my parents, who is a local restaurant owner, regularly bikes fifty or so miles around the metro area. My brother recently purchased himself a new bicycle that he rides around the University campus from class to class. I still have my Grandpa’s old Peugeot that I’d like to restore; I just wouldn’t mind spending some time on two wheels again, as it’s been since my teens that I last really rode a bike on a regular basis.

They are fascinating devices. Today’s carbon fiber wonders with intricate gearing mechanisms make my childhood Huffy look like a dinosaur. The Oklahoma Museum of Science has a small but interesting exhibit of historical bicycles. Although it almost seems there is more lore about the origins of the bicycle than history, it is widely accepted that the first one was invented in 1817 in Germany by Charles, Baron Von Drais. Unlike the modern bicycles that we know, this early example had no drive mechanism, but did sport a padded seat and a steerable front wheel. To all you cyclists out there, did you realize that your hobby turns 200 next year?

Back when foundational garments for women included girdles, these now archaic garments were being made from rubber up until the material was in a shortage due to the efforts in World War II. In response to the rubber shortage, Dr. Joseph Shivers, PhD, working for DuPont, began research to develop a new material that could be used as a replacement for rubber in clothing. Through much effort and perseverance, and over a decade later, he and his team invented “Fiber K,” which was renamed “Lycra.” This fiber stretches up to 600% and returns to its original length, in a slimmer, lighter, and more breathable package than its rubber predecessor. Over the course of the next few decades, Lycra, or Spandex, found its way into specialized garments and textiles in applications so varied and vast that I doubt Dr. Shivers himself could have imagined the impact.

Sometime in the 1970s, purpose-made cycling clothing was made from Spandex blends for competitive cycling. Over the subsequent decades, these clingy garments have trickled from the race track to the aforementioned town cruisers. As I wrote in the original paragraph above, regular people will put on their cycling uniform to pedal the local streets. So essentially, for well over 150-years, people managed to enjoy cycling without junk-hugging Spandex. But, my how times have changed! Now we live in a world where it’s hard to go into a coffee shop without seeing some folks nonchalantly meandering about in their skin-tight bike outfits. That stuff leaves nothing to the imagination!

I kid, of course. At least these people are generally in better shape than your average Walmart shopper. As much as I like to rail on people for fashion (not pants!), I honestly don’t care what people choose to wear. Apparently, there are good reasons to go Spandex if you’re biking the long haul well beyond looks or aerodynamics. Heck, maybe I need to get Grandpa’s Peugeot up and running so I too can justify wandering into the bagel shop clad in nothing but skin-tight Spandex and a pair of Oakleys. I think Grandpa would roll over in his grave.

Local Police – But Let’s Not Talk Politics

I was really looking forward to this election cycle; not looking forward to the results, mind you, as I’m pretty sure the results will be disastrous one way or another. But, the cycle itself, campaigning and drama, it really seemed like it would be great blog fodder. But then, there was just too much material. We all knew campaigning for the general election would get juicy, but this is like trying to drink from a fire hose! I was freaking overwhelmed. So, as to politics, we now have to decide if we’re going to vote for the old, rich, corrupt narcissist, trying to put on a show for the common man, or the old, corrupt narcissist, trying to put on a show for the common man. Or, you could go third party and vote for the pothead, calling himself a libertarian, whose ideals are anything but libertarian. Except for the pot. And oddly, I don’t feel that any of the preceding is all that controversial. But, I said I wouldn’t get into politics, and so I digress…

There have been some palpable changes in our local police department over the last few years. A few years ago, they replaced all the motorcycles in my hometown with these souped up BMWs that have some kind of biometric lock that secures their short barreled ARs to the back fender. How a rifle makes any kind of tactical sense when you’re on a motorcycle is completely beyond me, but they look cool, and I haven’t heard of any hi jinx associated therewith, so I suppose it’s all good. I tried to get an in, to go take pics and blog about the new bikes, because they’re cool, but the receptionist simply took my name and number, and I never heard back from them. *Eek!* That probably means I’m on some list somewhere, of citizens who are just a little too curious about the cops and their motorcycles with mounted SBRs. In the past I’ve had contacts with the local PD that made me nervous, but those are stories for another time. More recently, in fact the last two contacts that I’ve had, however, have been nothing short of exemplary. Put that eyebrow down. One was when I rolled over grass in the median to get in the turn lane (there was no curb at the intersection) and the other was for a burned out tail light bulb. It’s not like I’ve been smoking my tires or drifting through intersections. These were two different officers, and I wish I’d gotten their names so I could publicly laud them, because they were both the shining example of how an official contact should go. They were both appropriately respectful, professional, enthusiastic, and downright understanding. The latter (for the tail light) even went so far as to say, “thank you for carrying a gun. Good people like you, carrying, only make my job easier, so please keep that up.” Yeah. It’s little things like this that make endear me to my hometown.

We don’t watch much TV; heck, we don’t even get broadcast television in our home. Pretty much all we watch is on YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video. However, I’ll catch a news broadcast every once in a great while at the house of a family member, or in a public space. Anytime there’s a local event that calls the local media to ask for a statement from the police, it seems like two personalities show up over and over again. There’s a female officer whose name escapes me, but she stands out because of her looks and screen presence. She just has the happiest, most pleasant-looking face you could imagine. She’s got the semi-circle, anime eyes, and bright smile. She really looks like a live-action anime girl stuffed into a police uniform. And, she’s always bright and bubbly on screen. Even when they’ve called upon her to talk about something unpleasant, she manages to deliver in a pleasant manner, still paying due gravity to the situation at hand. You wouldn’t mind getting pulled over by her. When she asked for your license and insurance verification, you’d say, “d’awwww! Yes, ma’am.” I tried to ID her on a Google search, but to no avail. Suffice it to say, it’s pretty obvious why the PD throws her in front of the camera over and over when the media comes a-knockin’.

The other regular Okc TV spokesman that comes to mind is Captain Steve McCool. Don’t bother to image search him, just read his name again. Out loud. Captain Steve McCool. Captain McCool is always… well… cool. And to the point. Whenever he comes on the screen though, Jennifer and I will say in unison, “Captain Steve McCool!” with great emphasis. I can just imagine little seven-year-old Stephen (Steven?) McCool, riding down the street on his bicycle, thinking to himself, “self, with a name like yours, you’re destine for greatness! Someday, I’m going to make Captain in the police department.” I mean, seriously! With that title and name, he sounds bigger than life! Captain Steve McCool sounds like he should be the main character in a spy movie, as a cartoon cat! He sounds like he should be the captain of some great airship, blowing villains out of the sky with cannon fire. I’m just saying the guy has a cool name. I’ll bet he still got made fun of for his name when he was a kid though. If you never got made fun of for your name growing up, please tell me about it in the comments section. Kids can be such little jerks.

The first car I bought after Jennifer and I got married was a 1983 Honda Civic Wagon. That was my second ’83 Civic Wagon, after I totaled my first, which was my first car. That’s a story unto itself. I cranked, wrenched, and painted on that second Wagon until she was cherry. We loved that car. I had her just about perfect when this sixteen-year-old girl in a Ford Expedition meandered into my lane through a curve and crunched the front fender and the edge of the hood. Subsequently, a friend gave me an ’82 Civic hatchback to use for spare parts. The hatchback was a complete car, and I drove it home. It seemed like a shame to strip the hatch for parts, so I sourced sheet metal to patch up the Wagon separately, and made the hatch into a toy. At first, I stiffened up the valvetrain on the original 1.5-liter engine, opened up the intake and exhaust, and stripped the interior and air conditioning, as well as some other tweaks here and there. The engine would redline at around 7,000-RPM, and would spin the front tires from 60-mph. The real trouble was, running it that hard, I couldn’t keep it in head gaskets; as in, every 5,000 or so miles, I’d change the oil and head gasket. So, I yanked the 1.8-liter engine out of a 1979 Accord and shoehorned it in. I truncated the exhaust from there and added a Weber carburetor and a cowl induction hood scoop. I know that’s a lot of lead up to the actual story, but please try to bear with me.

I’d been tinkering on the hatchback (we called her Medusa) one day, tweaking and adjusting this and that, and I wanted to see how my efforts would pan out in real life. So, I wheeled her out to the little road behind our neighborhood. I looked carefully to make sure that there were no other cars or pedestrians. And then, I romped on it. And, I upshifted and floored the throttle again. And then, I saw the cop car behind the trees. I immediately started to decelerate, and the red and blues pulled in behind me. “Yup, he got me,” I thought to myself, as I pulled over and shut off the rowdy four-cylinder. The officer who came to the window was an older gentleman with a pleasant demeanor. It was almost like he’d just walked off the set of the Andy Griffith Show.

“Good afternoon,” he said cheerfully, “I suppose you know why I’ve pulled you over today.”

“I have an idea,” I replied, handing him my license and insurance.

“I was sitting here, watching for drivers in violation of seat belt laws, so I wasn’t watching my radar,” he politely fished for admission, “so I don’t know how fast you were going, but the way you were accelerating, I’m pretty sure you had to be speeding.”

I smiled coolly, and admitted to nothing.

“Well,” he smiled back, handing me my license and insurance, “slow it down, and please be careful.”

“Yes sir,” I said.

In today’s day and age, the police are taking a brutal and unwarranted political beating. The vast majority of the police that I see in action are doing a fantastic job, too, both local and abroad. Of the interactions I’ve had with the police, only a small fraction of them have been negative in the least, and I’ve never been in fear for my own safety. I know I’m preaching to the choir for anyone who ever comes to my website, but I just had to put this out there. These men and women are doing a job that I, frankly, wouldn’t want to. Often times, when I see our local officers around town, doing their thing, I’ll give them a smile and wave. This is my little way of participating in Robert Peel’s Principles. “Hey, you, thanks for doing what you’re doing! Keep up the good work!” I know I said I was going to keep it unpolitical, and I’ve probably skirted politics a little too much by now, but whatever. To my friends in law enforcement, for those of you who I’m pretty sure will read this, as well as those of you that probably wont, thank you. There are plenty of us out here that won’t make the news that approve and appreciate you. Because we don’t block traffic or break windows, we are the silent majority. But, we are the majority, and we very much appreciate what you do. And, at the risk of getting too mushy, I’m just going to leave it at that.

Troi

Marina Sirtis

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According to her IMDB page, she has quite an impressive resume as an actress, although I personally will always know her as Deanna Troi, because I grew up on Star Trek. Well, I also remember her as Demona in Gargoyles, which was weirdly like Star Trek in an alternate universe, with the mix of voice talent. And, that appears to have been a deliberate thing*. Anyway, back to Sirtis; 2016 looks like another good year for her, as it appears that she’s got several projects in the works. Apparently, she caught the acting bug when she was quite young and is still going strong, and good on her for that!

*Scroll down to #13, if you’re interested in Gargoyles/Star Trek crossovers.

The Stupid! It Hurts!

Jennifer has a morning alarm set for us on her phone. When the time comes, it speaks to us, reading us FaceBook reminders, news headlines, and weather forecast. This is useful, but also a little frustrating at times. For instance, this morning, it spouted out a headline that left me scratching my head. It seems that on Wednesday morning, Farmingdale State College in Long Island, NY went on lockdown because someone spotted a man with a rifle in the parking lot. Except it wasn’t a rifle. It was a toy light saber.

Evidently, there is no limit to human stupidity.

The grandson of one of my neighbors drops by to chat once in a while. He’s really into airsoft. Last time he dropped by, he brought along his AR clone to show it off. I was impressed. Although not an actual firearm, many of the components of his gun were straight off the real thing. Even the upper receiver looked to be a modified version of a genuine M4 upper, stuffed with the guts to launch a plastic pellet with a tank of compressed gas. Prior to close inspection, this thing looks like a gun. I would not have been shocked if an officer of the law had pulled into my driveway to investigate because another neighbor had called it in.

A Star Wars toy light saber though? I find myself struggling to try to figure out how this confusion is even possible. If it had been a Star Wars blaster mistaken for an actual pistol, I could come to some kind of understanding. If an airsoft rifle had been mistaken for the real thing, it would be easy to understand. But, a toy light saber? Really?

If I had any business to be on a college campus in New York, I would deliberately avoid having anything on my person that could be misconstrued for a gun. Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing, right? It would never occur to me that a toy light saber could be mistaken for a gun. In the grand scheme of things, it was not all that long ago that children showed up to school with actual guns, and nothing but good intentions. They were hunting after class, or whatever. My wife tells me stories of trucks in her high school parking lot that would routinely have rifles in the gun racks mounted to the back window. Nobody called the police, because nobody was doing anything wrong. Stranger has multiple stories from when he went to school, of the children leaning their long guns in the corner of the classroom because they were going to do some hunting on their way home from school. These were actual guns, not toys that don’t even resemble guns in the slightest.

This news story came way too early this morning. I’ll post something less stupid later on.

And Then, There Was Beer Video

Every year, we receive a care package from LuckyGunner.com with some kind of Christmas goodies in it. This weekend, there was a 12-inch cubic box on our front porch from them. I nudged it out of the way of the door with my toe and noted that it had a bit of heft to it. “I bet it’s a ham,” I remarked to Jennifer.

“What makes you think it’s a ham? Did somebody already talk about theirs on the internet?” she asked

“No,” I replied, “but I’ve seen hams packaged for shipping and that’s what it looks like to me.”

We dragged the package inside and opened it up. Not ham. Inside the box was a brand new .50-cal ammo can (sweet!), two 12-oz bricks of ground coffee from Lock ‘n Load Java, and a pair of Pmugs from Battle Mug. Now, I have long wanted a Battle Mug, but I can’t bring myself to pay the near $200 for the billet aluminum version, and I had no idea they were making a less expensive polymer version.

I sat on the couch with my new Battle Mug, stroking it and murmuring about “The Precioussss.” As one does, we have accumulated a lot of bolt-on parts. It seems you get one gun with a rail on it, and they just start turning up. I was thinking over some of the junk that we’ve wound up with to this end, and what I might be able to attach to this crime against nature. And then, it hit me! We have a quick-disconnect 1/4×25 camera mount! And, I’ve got a 1/4×25 tripod to GoPro mount adapter! Scaring my family with maniacal cackling, I took off down the hall and came back with the necessary pieces to secure my GoPro Hero to the Battle Mug.

“Oh no,” Jennifer sighed as I assembled this stroke of genius insanity. As it turns out, my dad’s birthday was on Sunday, and he wanted to spend it at his favorite German-style beer garden in downtown Oklahoma City.

So, there we were, sitting at our bench when the server approached the table. I picked out a beer and asked her, “can you serve it in this?” As I held up the monstrosity proudly.

“Um…” she seemed skeptical.

“It’s like 25-ounces,” I said, as though that had any bearing.

“No,” she clarified, “I’m sure we can work something out, I just don’t want to break it.”

“Oh, you can’t break it,” I assured her, “they throw these things out of airplanes and stuff.”

Indeed, the beer cam was quite the hit. It was a great conversation starter and overall good time. And as promised, beer video:

Note to FCC: None of this stuff was given in return for any kind of review.

I Guess It’s Finally Winter

It’s 34-degrees out there. There’s mixed sleet, freezing rain, and the occasional flake coming down. We had no plans to shop Black Friday. So, we went to the YMCA to swim for a while. And then, in 34-degree winter mix, I went into the liquor store in a Speedo swimsuit. In all fairness, it’s really Speedo-branded boardshorts. And, I was also wearing a long sleeve shirt, fleece vest, and a jacket. But, it makes for a good story anyway. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

This Summer

We’ve had a few hot days this year, but overall it’s been a fairly mild summer. But, on those hot ones, just watch out! That’s when the squirrels melt in the trees.

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It was seriously hot that day. I love the look on the squirrel’s face too. He looks like, “you’re getting awful close to me, and that might mean my demise, but I don’t have the energy to run in this damned heat.”