Amway Changed My Life

But not in a way you might think.

Years ago a friend from high-school that I hadn’t seen in years was back in town. He called me up, saying he had some sort of business proposition for me.
His evasiveness when I asked any questions and the fact that he insisted I should just attend his meeting or seminar or whatever set the warning bells to clanging.

He did drop off some cassette tapes for me to listen to. At one point, early in the tape, the narrator put forth the notion that I could be making money during the time that I spent fishing, phrasing it in such a way as to suggest that this time was somehow wasted. I was completely at odds with this supposition.

In my mind time spent working is time that would be better spent fishing. That was when I had a moment of clarity. In both the literal sense and metaphorically, I would rather be fishing. Having heard all I needed to hear, I stopped the tape at that point. When my friend called to ask me what I’d thought of the tapes and to again try to convince me to attend his seminar, I told him what I’d realized — That I’d rather be “fishing”.

Over the years I’ve found myself referring back to that moment; it’s become something of a touchstone. Recently at work there were some gaps in the schedule that needed coverage. I could have taken an extra shift (or several) and made some overtime. Of course I could use the money but I didn’t really need the money.
“I’d rather be ‘fishing’.” I told myself.

I just don’t understand people who work 2 or 3 jobs; work like it’s a competition or a compulsion. What’s the point of being so busy working for a living that there’s no time left for the actual “living” part of the equation?

I am thankful that people like that exist. They can do all the work that needs doing while the rest of us are “fishing”.

Voter Fraud Strikes Close to Home

Some of you may recall me mentioning back in February 2007 that one of my people from work had passed away.

Well she (and her elderly parents) were mentioned on the local news, apparently she voted in the March 4th primary.

Click here for the full story.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the Miami Valley alone, we found 3,856 dead voters still registered. Approximately 22 of them voted from beyond the grave.

Ahh… Democracy in action.

Had to go to the ER today

I don’t know what the deal is. In my wild and criminally stupid youth I found myself in the ER at least once a year, some years much more.

Now I can only recall my last 3 visits, off the top of my head. Nearly 9 years ago I crashed my bike, broke my collar bone, and needed surgery for my leg. Then… nothing until this March, when out of the blue I nearly bled to death at work. Which brings us to today… I managed to give myself a knot (hematoma) the size of the prototypical goose egg (seriously, this ain’t no sissy-ass chicken egg!) on the top of my right wrist. Initially I’d decided to wrap it up and ignore it, but it hurt like a, shall we say, melon fever.

So, I go to the ER. Not the one half a mile from my house, where they’ve elevated incompetence to an art-form, but another (slightly less) nearby one where I was treated extremely well after my crash ~8 years ago and where the Orthopedic Surgeon who treated me practices.

They took some X-rays and after some consultation decided that nothing’s broken and no surgical intervention is called for at this time. If it gets any bigger or starts impinging on any nerves it will probably come to that. Actually I was almost hoping for surgery, recovery would’ve been a matter of days. History and experience have shown that this thing on my arm is going to take considerably longer than that to reabsorb.

So, probably no bike riding for a week or two, no work this weekend and… They gave me Vicodin. Well I must wrap this up, the Vicodin’s telling me I should bake a pie and watch a movie, and when Vicodin speaks, I listen.

Vacation Cliff Hanger

As of right now, I’m on vacation (it’s actually the first time off I’ve had this year and not been sick). Tomorrow it’s off to the airport where I’ll catch a flight to an undisclosed location. I’ll be back in a week with tales to tell and photos to share. Stay tuned!

Every Silver Lining Has a Touch of Gray

The other day I wrote about my excitement vis-à-vis my Cameo Mention in the Wahoo Gazette. As luck would have it, I now seem to have angered the Wahoo Gazetteer through no real fault of my own. Here’s what he had to say in today’s Wahoo:

So I give this “Greg Evans” guy a cameo mention the other day. I often see his name in the newsgroup commenting on the show so I decided to give him a mention. This usually results in a cheap Wahoo Gazette plug in the discussion group. Unfortunately, it barely got a blip.

And then I find out that Greg Evans has a website. I checked it out. He spouts how proud he is to have received a cameo mention in the Wahoo Gazette. I was happy to read the shout out. I peruse some more. Down along the right side is a list entitled “Blogs and Such Which I Frequent.” It is a list of 50 blogs and websites Greg Evans likes to read. The Wahoo Gazette is not one of them. Can you believe it? Greg Evans claims to be a fan of David Letterman since his daytime show back in 1980, so how can he not frequent the Wahoo Gazette? It makes no sense. He mentions Dave Yoder’s Letterman website. He does not mention the Wahoo Gazette. Misdirected energy, I say.
And what hurts even more . . . . . Greg Evans writes about his Cameo Mention in the Wahoo Gazette . . . and it receives no comments from his readers . . . if he HAS any readers!
The Wahoo Cameo Committee is presently considering rescinding Mr. Evans’ Cameo Mention.

And here is a snippet of my response, as posted to AFL:

In all honesty, I tried quite some time ago to add a link to the Wahoo, but couldn’t figure out a way to link to it directly since the URL’s are dynamically generated. I did figure it out though.

I’ve added it to my links, I sure hope they don’t rescind
my Cameo Mention!

I can’t believe MikeMack went here:

Greg Evans writes about his Cameo Mention in the Wahoo Gazette . . . and it receives no comments from his readers . . . if he HAS any readers!

Sure I have readers! They’re called web-crawlers, bots and

Why must you build me up, only to tear me down, MikeMack, why?

It’s the small things

Back in the middle of March my mother was in town for the weekend of my birthday. While we were driving around one day I spotted (and heard) a Red-winged Blackbird, the first one I’d seen this year. I related to her how hearing them always reminds me of my Grandmother (her mother).

Every summer when I was a kid she (my Grandmother) would rent a cottage for the two of us on Lake LBJ. The cattails at the water’s edge were always full of Red-winged Blackbirds, singing that most-distinctive song of theirs. Anyway, to this day whenever I hear one, it takes me right back there. To simpler, happier times; fishing with Lala.

Well a couple of weeks after that (once it warmed up enough to start keeping the windows open), I was surprized to hear a Red-winged Blackbird right outside my apartment. I’ve lived here roughly 6 years and this is the first time we’ve had any RWBB’s. Apparently they’ve decided to nest here for some reason. There are at least 3-4 males and a few females and every morning bright and early and then again at dusk the air is filled with their unmistakable calls.

It seems so much worse in print.

I know I’m officially “middle aged”. While I don’t necessarily embrace the fact, I do (begrudgingly) accept it and even think of myself as such (from time to time).

I was stunned by my reaction when Fritz over at Commute by Bike referred to me as “This middle aged man“. I wasn’t surprized that he wrote it, but I was quite shocked by how much it stung, if only just for an instant, seeing it in print. Ahh… the power of the printed word!

Oh and Fritz, you’re still missing the point of my story. It wasn’t about being complimented by a teenaged girl. It was about her subsequent mortification and embarrassment. The compliment was just the icing on the cake.

Fabulous Gifts from Far-Away Friends

I hang out in the news group Alt.Fan.Letterman occasionally a lot. Over the years I think some of ‘the regulars’ over there have begun to begrudgingly accept me. Imagine my delight when I received a package (I’m considering it a birthday gift) in the mail from Kath, my favorite Australian.

The well-traveled envelope.

Note the clever (and no doubt, intentional) misspelling of my name, lest I get too cocky.


A lovely card inside.

card inside

Signed by people I don’t know, at least one of whom seems unnaturally interested in seeing my pigeon-chest.

My very own Dingo!

My Dingo! My Dingo!

Fraser Island

The flip-side, showing Fraser Island, the dingo’s supposed home. I can’t imagine how they ever find a baby in all that sand! No wonder the poor thing looks so hungry!

Thank you again, Kath! You truly made my day!

When It Rains, It Pours

Today after considerable time steeling myself for the inevitable horrors of an ice-cold shower, I bit the bullet and took one (with quite a bit of, shall we say, “colorful language” thrown in for good measure). Along the way I discovered something, an ice-cold shower is a sure way to put me in a foul mood. It’s not “exhilarating”, it’s not “invigorating”. It’s horrible. It’s truly awful. It’s just a blindfold away from being actual torture.

Anyway, after doing my best to put this awfulness behind me it was off to the big reference laboratory where they’ll be drawing blood and doing my labwork, some 30 minutes away. I arrived at 3:40 feeling quite pleased with myself until I discovered that they closed at 3:30! Who the Hell, aside from elementary schools, calls it a day a 3:30?!?

So, having accomplished exactly nothing aside from wasting well over an hour driving, I arrived back home. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I didn’t have my house key. After several minutes attempting the old “credit card trick” I concede that I’m going to have to go retrieve my hidden emergency key.

Guess where it’s hidden? In the basement. The same basement that is filled knee-deep with ice-cold water which backed up through the floor drain from the storm sewer. At least when I was done I could rinse off with yet more ice-cold water and bask in my 55° apartment.

And that was my day.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

You know how now they’ve got those musical greeting cards that actually sound “musical”? Well, my mother, always one to embrace our Irish heritage (she hoped I would be born on St. Pat’s day; my middle name would have been Patrick) sent me a St. Patrick’s card that plays music. Imagine my surprize when I realized that it was playing a Dropkick Murphys song.

More specifically, this one:

There’s also a really good live performance here, it’s a Live on Letterman Web Exclusive!

Good News

That’s right, good news! Something that’s been sorely lacking on my blog of late. I know what you’re saying; “What, pray tell, is this news, Greg?”

I’m going to see Steve “By Gawd*” Earle on May 6 at the Southern Theater in Columbus. I snagged my tickets from the pre-sale on his website just minutes after it was announced, so I should have great seats. Hooray for my team!

*Just to inject the (evidently) obligatory downer, “Mr. ByGawd” / “Steve ‘By Gawd’ Earle” were the names assigned to him by a dear-departed friend of mine.

Sheldon’s Memorial Celebration

This may or may not be the last of my posts about Sheldon Brown, the man was a huge influence on me.

This was written by Peter Cole and posted to the Usenet group (yes, I know I’m a geek, and yes I got his Peter’s permission first).

I attended Sheldon Brown’s memorial celebration last Sunday. It was held in the afternoon in the church across the street from Harris Cyclery. There was a memorial ride before the event, but I was unable to participate.

There seemed to be 200+ people in attendance, the large church was almost full. While there were many from the local cycling world, I’d say we were slightly outnumbered by the community theater and singing folks. The event lasted about an hour and a half, mostly consisting of remembrances delivered by family and friends, some singing, both by performers and the assembly, and some Morris dancing. The Reverend Deborah Pope-Lance gave the welcome and closing as well as some shared remembrances.

Sheldon’s wife Harriet gave the first remembrance. She spoke quietly and warmly about how she met Sheldon at a club ride, where they first noticed each other’s unusual bikes. She recalled their many family cycling trips on Sheldon’s homemade tandems, including one favorite memory when they were interrupted in their tour of Cape Cod by an approaching hurricane and they worked together as a family, helping to get the youth hostel ready for it.

Sheldon’s daughter Tova spoke next. She struggled with her composure, holding back the tears as she described the warmth and affection she had enjoyed from her dad. She smiled as she described parenting Sheldon style, where the children’s rooms had both ABC’s and periodic tables on the walls. Her memories of bedtime stories were not Mother Goose, but things like Galileo vs. the church and how an airplane wing works.

Sheldon’s older brother and sister told us some growing up stories. Arlene laid claim to being Sheldon’s original cycling instructor, remembering how she would sit 3-year old Sheldon on the cross bar of older brother Richard’s bike, letting him steer sometimes while they rode off for day-long adventures hiking near their home by the Tappen Zee bridge in upstate NY. Richard recalled Sheldon’s enthusiastic conversion to communism at age 13, which he claimed to have cooled off by introducing him to Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

Long time friend and local cycling author/advocate John Allen described his collaborations with Sheldon, including some videos they were producing together, regretting that they had only completed the first of a planned series. He joked about his frustration, during his 30-year friendship, over the way Sheldon could always go him one better every time he thought he had a cycling brainstorm. He gave a graphic demonstration of this by performing a tire folding method he thought he had perfected, then showed Sheldon’s inevitable improvement on it.

The Reverend Pope-Lance had us all laughing when she read a list of some of Sheldon’s favorite quotes — many of which are familiar to readers here. Any misgivings I might have had about the irony of Sheldon’s memorial being held in a church were swept away when she handled the inevitable anti-theistic ones with a graceful chuckle. She then read several tributes posted from cyclists around the world who had been touched by Sheldon. From the hundreds received, we heard voices from every continent, all appreciating his generosity mentoring his Internet friends.

At the end of the gathering, members of the MIT Chantey Chorus sang the “Mary Ellen Carter”, with the congregation joining for the chorus:

Rise again, rise again,
Though your heart it be broken or life about to end.
No matter what you’ve lost, be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.

Many of us choked back tears watching Harriet, Tova and George holding each other for comfort as they led the singing of the deeply moving piece.

After the memorial, we made our way to the parish hall. There, on a small stage, several of Sheldon’s favorite bikes were on display. A few laptops had been set up on tables running slides shows of photos familiar from his web site. I mingled there awhile, in the eclectic throng, bikers in jerseys, tights and clompy shoes, Morris dancers in red shirts and (real) bell-bottomed pants; friends, family, bikers, singers, dancers and all, a true slice of Sheldon’s remarkable life.

When I left, I went to retrieve my bike from the 30 or so behind the church. Mine was the only MTB, I rode it over in part because it was the only “whole” bike Sheldon ever sold me. Of course by now it’s a mongrel mix of odd parts, and that, more than the bike, is a tribute to his impact on me. There were many similar mongrels out back, including an obviously home-made recumbent with a sign on the back: “If you don’t like an 80 year old on a bike, think about me driving a car”. That said, there were also a number of elegant vintage bikes, and fixers of course, and more Brooks saddles than I have ever seen in one place.

I pedaled home slowly in the bright cold afternoon, past Harris Cyclery, past Sheldon’s street, past the town field where the fireworks are held, past the old hardware store we both loved, to my home, to my garage full of bikes, thinking about him all the way. Life’s short, and you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

Peter “I miss you, big guy” Cole