Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016/11/30 - Wasted Time

I struggle with my place in this universe. When I was a child I was at the center, but have drifted further and further away as the years have passed. 

If you are reading this, you are one of just a handful of people curious enough to know what's going on in my life, to take the time to visit me here. You are a very special group, one I'll call "my favorite people". I dare use the word "friend", for that word has lost all meaning to me. 

The dictionary defines the word "friend" as a person that you know well and regard with affection and trust. I think I should have used this definition when I friended people on Facebook. Maybe I wouldn't have developed this false sense of popularity. 

But you don't want to insult someone when they send you a friend request, so you accept requests from people who are hardly acquaintances, some who collect Facebook friends like baseball cards.  

The first time I joined FB, I accepted friend requests from my 14erWorld contacts and that got out of hand very quickly. So I deleted my account and started over, this time being a little more selective in my "friends", but not exactly meeting that dictionary definition above. 

Then I started this blog and I put a lot of work into it. I collected and displayed all my favorite images from my mountaineering days, my peak lists, and put together a little bit of my history of my interests and accomplishments. 

I was excited and anxious to share it with my FB friends, but hugely disappointed when hardly anybody bothered to check it out. It was as if that extra mouse click separated my FB friends from my real friends. And it wasn't just a fluke. I tried this experiment over and over again with the same results. 

There was even one FB friend who was a nurse and asked in a FB message for details of my bicep injury. But when I told her to go to my blog for the details, she balked. I guess she wanted me to type it all over again just for her. 

So before deleting the new FB account, I told all my friends who followed me that I had a blog, and I mention it at the bottom of all my outgoing emails. Everybody who knows me, knows where to find me. 

The moral of this story is to know who your friends are, and don't waste your time on people who don't give a shit about what you are doing. 

Later,
Steve

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016/11/21 - Yesterday's BBQ, Boo

The adult table at yesterday's BBQ.
Clockwise starting with Jeanne on the left, Kristen, Hector, Veronica, Kara, Sue, Bill, and the back of Val's head.


.....

Imagine yourself standing amongst a huge crowd, surrounding a platform on which stands a holy man with a huge axe, next to his only son, tied down with his head on a chopping block. And the man announces to the throng: "I'm killing my son so that your sins will be forgiven".

Would you question this logic? Wouldn't some people be saying "Wait, that's not necessary"? Would some people be booing?

But isn't that one of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity? That god sacrificed his only son so that our sins would be forgiven?

Boo...

Later,
Steve  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016/11/17 - Donnie

I've often wanted to write down my story about Donnie, and have practiced it many times while riding my bike, but the story always seems to lose it's energy before going to print.

When I was 13 my parents moved to a new neighborhood in Queens NYC, one which was a better commute to their jobs in Manhattan, but was riddled with street gangs. One such gang, "The Chessmen" hung out in the grammar school yard on the corner of my block. 

The Chessman were actually a combination softball team and street gang. They weren't actually sanctioned, or part of any league. They strictly played street softball with other street gangs. Often the games ended in a gang fight and cars parked alongside the schoolyard would loose their antennas during these fights, as they became handy weapons. 

To say the least, these softball games were exciting, and people came from all around to watch. There was hardly a spectator's gap in the chain link fence surrounding the yard. Even the cages surrounding the first floor school windows had dozens of people sitting on top. 

And the people came to see the star player, Donnie. 

At the age of 16 Donnie weighed about 250 pounds. He was shaped more like a gorilla than a man, and with his weight behind the ball, he could easily hit an automatic home run over the outfield fence. Donnie was the only player I ever saw do that. He was also the only player brave enough to retrieve the ball in the backyard of a psycho old man. 

In Bizarro World, Donnie would have been the star of his high school's baseball team, destined for scholarships, but in the real world Donnie was a psychopath, destined for prison. Aside from soft ball, Donnie's favorite pastime was getting high on booze and/or drugs and battering innocent passerbys late at night, sometimes sending them to the hospital. There was also rumors of his involvement in gang rape. 
.....

I had a friend in school who worked part time at the Lefferts movie theatre on Liberty Avenue. He would let me and my friends in the backdoor for free whenever he was on his shift. 

In my desperation to make friends in the new neighborhood, I mentioned this perk to one of the Chessmen, and before I knew it, I had a few takers, including Donnie. This could have solidified my entry into The Chessman, but instead it backfired and got me on the bad side of Donnie. 

It turned out that my friend at the theatre got fired (for letting people in for free) and we got turned back. But Donnie got angry, and told me "I have a bone to pick with you now". Those words still ring in my ears today. 

I should have taken the warning and stayed clear of the Chessman and the schoolyard, but I didn't. A foolish kid desperate to fit in, I kept coming back. What else could I do? This was my world.

It didn't take too long for Donnie to pick his bone with me. It was the 4th of July and the streets were full of people watching the fireworks that the people were shooting off in the schoolyard. It was dark and noisy as I walked across the street, out of the corner of my eye, l saw Donnie and his sidekick Joey coming towards me. 

"Can you sing?' They said they were starting a band, but I  knew this was bullshit and braced for the worst. They were drunk and I was scared. Donnie put his arm around my shoulders and said "Come on, hit a note for us!' I watched his other hand closely and when I saw it make a fist, I squirmed out of his hold and ran for my life. 

Now Joey was on the track team in John Adams high school, and I knew he could catch me, but fear is a great motivator and I ran like the wind. I also knew the backyards like the back of my hand, and quickly cut into a driveway. Soon I was hopping fences faster then he could catch me. 

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I closed the front door to my parents apartment and sat in the stairway catching my breath. That could have turned out bad!

Minutes later I met my dad in the kitchen and he asked the unbelievable: "Could you go down the corner and get me a pack of cigarettes?" There was no way I could go back to that corner, and no way I would tell my dad why I couldn't go. So I said "Sure dad", and walked six blocks in the opposite direction to the next nearest store that sold cigarettes. 

For the next two years I lived in fear and stayed clear of the schoolyard and Donnie. I was always looking over my shoulder. 

And then one day I heard the news. Donnie and Joey, high on LSD, beat up the wrong kid sending him to the hospital. The kid's older brother was a badass member of a motorcycle gang and the word was out that they were after Donnie and Joey. 

The cloud was lifted, it was like a new day. I never saw Donnie again.

And to this day I've not let go of the fear and hate I have for him, and I never will. 

Later,
Steve

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016/11/13 - Loser, Dirty Bismarck with Mitch

I've had a lot of trouble continuing my cycling biography, because my next bike met a tragic ending, and a guess I really never forgave myself for being such a loser. 

That bike was a Chordia, a brand new pretty yellow ten-speed. It was 1970 and I was in college. I was young and I was strong. I knew absolutely nothing about cycling but as I raced through the streets of NYC after dark, I dreamed of being in the Olympics. It was a fools dream I never dared share.

I started riding my bike everywhere, especially because I had already crashed and totaled the beautiful sports car my parents bought me for college. I even rode from Queens to Scranton PA (145 miles) two summers in a row, once with my friend JaggerDog and the next time with my friend Little Steve.

One summer day I rode my bike from my home in Queens to Rockaway Beach, 108th Street. I met a lovely young lady and started drinking wine with her and her friends. At the end of the day when everyone was packing to go home, I suddenly remembered that I rode my bike there, and I was drunk. 

I remember riding across the Cross Bay Bridge and going too fast on the downside, and then the next thing I know, I woke up in a firehouse surrounded by fireman, laughing, and shouting, "He's come to!" I had crashed and gone unconscious for a while. 

In the corner of the firehouse was my Chordia, a mangled mess of metal. The clothing and skin on my shoulder, hip, and thigh were shredded. The firemen tried to keep me there, but I assured them I was OK, and walked to the nearest bus stop. 

The bus was crowded and I had to stand. I remember catching the passengers staring at me, a bloody mess, and a total fucking loser. 

I didn't buy another bike for 15 years. 
.....

Did the Dirty Bismarck with Mitch this morning:


Me and my new ride

Mitch


Later,
Steve

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016/11/09 - My New Ride, My time is important?, Lesson Learned

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29


.....

While waiting for nearly 20 minutes for Kaiser Permanente to connect me to the Memory Clinic, I listened to the same recording every 60 seconds "Your time is important to us, please hold for the next available agent."

I thought to myself, they should change the recording to "Your money is important to us, but we don't give a shit about your time. Just keep holding for the next available agent".
.....

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of celebrity.

Later
Steve

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

2016/11/08 - Crash and Burn

I fell again yesterday during my ride.

A few days ago I discovered a new thin single track trail close to my house. It’s a short course, only about two miles, but a nice addition to the beginning or end of my daily ride.

Yesterday I discovered a variation to my new trail, and with delight, I cruised down it. Near the bottom, there were these two old gray short 2X4’s, with a half inch between them, spanning a two foot wide, but very deep crack in the trail.

Normally I would have stopped and walked across, but it was so short and I just went for it. I did it, and for about a tenth of a second I was joyous, but immediately afterwards my front wheel fell into a deep hole obscured by weeds, and I went flying over the handlebars.

As I lay on the ground taking inventory, once again I said to myself “I’m getting too old to be falling like this”.

Upon impact with mother earth, I could feel my entire skeleton crunching together. I could feel old familiar joint pains. I wiggled around a little to see if anything was broken, and then got up to survey the damage to my bike and my skin.

It’s funny, the first thought that came to my mind once I realized I was OK was “Good thing I didn’t hurt my back before my new bike arrived. I would be torture if I couldn’t ride it”.

I felt a little soreness on my right side and I couldn’t bend my left thumb without pain, but other than a few small cuts, I felt OK and rode another 10 miles.

I must have bruised a kidney or something internal, because there was blood in my urine the next three times I peed. That scared me, but I’ve been “running clear” all day so far, so I guess I’m OK.

I’ll keep you posted.

Later,
Steve

PS: I just got a call from University Bikes saying my new ride is ready!

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016/11/07 - Horace, Alex, and Lucille continued

A month past without any word from Horace. Alex was wise enough to know that this was too good to be true, and as expected, the monster reared its ugly head again. 

It's funny, as time goes by, some people can forgive themselves, and forget the ugly deeds they do, and can return to the table as if nothing had ever happened. 

Alex was starting to realize how futile it was to continue arguing with Horace. He was dealing with a man who was in total denial of the wrongfulness of his actions. 

He was dealing with and old spiteful man with anger issues, who forgives himself and forgets his deeds. 

Either that or he is a pathological lier. This possibility came to light when Horace was still denying his guilt in the safe deposit box incident, even though indisputable evidence was produced. 

Alex had a quick temper and tough guy attitude, but inside he was a softy, with an enormous capacity to forgive. 

But he wasn't going to forgive someone who was denying his guilt, and would except NOTHING LESS than an acknowledgement and sincere apology for every dirty deed, along with some reasonable offer to make amends. 

In reality, Alex and his mom didn't want any monetary compensation for her valuables that he gave away or kept for himself, they just wanted an apologetic confession for disrespecting Lucille and her property, along with an offer of penance. 

Alex was so puzzled as to why this path back to his mom's heart was so difficult for Horace to take, and why he would rather send police to Alex's home for "welfare" checks and make threats and offer bribes. 

But then again, he was dealing with and old spiteful man with anger issues, who forgives himself and forgets his dirty deeds.

To be continued...

Later,
Steve