Allow me to pass along a lesson I have learned repeatedly over the last few years:
It's a bad idea to spend a late night listening to sad country (i.e., the good kind) by yourself, if you have a bottle of whiskey close at hand.
You can do it if you have beer in the fridge, or rum or vodka on the shelf. Those are fine. Just avoid the brown liquors from the states of Kentucky or Tennessee. (The finest of the brown liquors.)
Nothing good will come of it. I mean it. Nothing good. Not a goddamn bit of good.
If you're gonna do it anyway, you should not listen to these songs:
- The Song is Still Slipping Away
- The Last Time I Let You Down
- Long Hauls and Calls
- Stoned and Alone
- Got Lonely Too Early This Morning
- Not Everybody Likes Us
- Smoke and Wine
- Satan is Real/Straight to Hell
You should especially avoid these songs:
- Mama Tried
- Are The Good Times Really Over
- Candidate For Suicide
- Swinging Doors
- Misery and Gin
- What's Made Milwaukee Famous
And stay off the roof.
Sure, you can see two states away, and the Monument and Capitol dome are all pretty at night. And yes, sometimes that woman in the seventh floor apartment in the building across the street who thinks no one can see her when her boyfriend gives it to her in the against the window sill is, well, taking it against the window sill.
But for god's sake, stay off the roof. You're closer to the stars, and nothing makes you feel quite as small and insignificant like a sky full of stars does when you've been listening to depressing music and drinking.
This lame entry is the equivalent of jumping into the pool early in the morning.
I tried to bring this back last winter, with no success. So I'm trying again.
Post election, I realized that I really don't do anything truly creative for myself anymore, and this is my attempt at getting back into it.
Also, as soon as I dig up my old wedding site design, I'll probably launch another blog that I attempt to keep far more professional than this one ever was, try to write more industry related posts, programming lessons learned, etc. A lot fewer fart jokes.
An article by the NYT via the Chicago Tribune cites a study by the Journal of American College Health that asserts that energy drinks are linked to risky behavior in teens.
In 2001, it was "school performance, how young people spend their free time, friends' behavior and relationships with family," more so than "chemical imbalances, peer pressure, trauma, exposure to lead, too much protein and not enough carbohydrates, rejection by peers and television...race and ethnicity and family income and structure.
I'll even do the lazy journalist thing and give you a link to Google and tell you that the search returns more than 3 million hits."
Now, I ain't the smartest man, Smokey, but it seems that the one consistent factor in all these reports is age. Seems that maybe, just maybe, risky behavior has something to do with being between the ages of 13 and 19. Teens do stupid shit because they're teens.
Ain't more complicated than that.
The Zen koan of the spring is this: Did the ride happen if you didn't blog about it?
The answer is yes: 34 miles in about 2 hours, 5 minutes. But just in case, I'll tell you a little more here. I rode up Macarthur Boulevard to Cabin John, one of my favorite road rides. Frankly, one of the only road routes I know around here.
It's mostly on the road, although there's a path that runs along side. I usually ride the path, but I didn't have that choices today. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer took it over.
The walk made me happy. I wish I had had a cowbell or an air horn to make a racket of support. (The wooting I did didn't really cut it.)
I kept thinking about my grandmother, Baba Berko. She passed away in March 2003. She had breast cancer, but that wasn't it. Apparently, it's not healthy to smoke for 25 years.
I can't help but think about her whenever I see any breast cancer event. Hers was the first major death in the family. I still remember exactly what I was doing when I found out. (I haven't eaten at Banana Cafe since then.)
I remember driving with my dad and brothers in the funeral procession. I don't know if it's a common tradition, but this funeral home always tries to drive past the deceased's home. They went surface streets, instead of the Kennedy, so it took more than an hour. At one point, my dad looked in the rear view mirror, and said, "Holy Cow!"
I looked back. Cars in the funeral procession were still turning the corner, four blocks back.
Everyone loved her. The day after my wedding, I stood in the kitchen with my mom, pulling out plates to reheat the Indian food on, and I found this one stupid plastic plate that my grandmother gave me. I've had it since college. My mom started crying, and said, "She still gets me, every once in a while."
I hugged her, and through my own tears, said, "The only thing I wish is that she would have been able to meet Libby. They would have loved each other."
Which is true. Which is why, as I'm riding past the women with the posters with "BOOBS!"writ large, I'm tearing up.
It's tough to ride when you're crying.
I love to ride my bikes, any one of them, each for different reasons.
I love the mountain bike for the feeling of invincibility and the ability to bounce and roll over anything (at least the memory of that. I don't have the rhythm and flow I used to cause I haven't had an mtb for a while.)
I love the Pake. My dear brother-in-law hooked me up with his old box of parts (he switched to Record, and I got the old DA and Ultegra), and the Lemond never quite fit, so I came up with a project. The Pake is heavy, but it rides light. So responsive, so comfortable. I look forward to getting up the next day so I can ride it to work. When I get on it, it's like the first time, each time. I would buy a second one of these just to put clips and straps on it and singlespeed it up.
I love the Diamondback conversion. I bought this used from this cat Saul (who's now a rabbi in the Bronx) at Turin my freshman year at Northwestern. The conversion is fun to ride, because there's nothing to think about. It's my GAT, so I don't care if I leave it locked in the rain in front of the Farragut West station, or ride it home very slowly and deliberately after last call at Solly's.
I want to replace the Diamondback. It's an obsession almost. I won't, I don't think, because I can't justify replacing the beater. It's a beater, fer crying out loud. Sure it's totally too small, but I don't put miles on it.
It comes down to two things: clips and straps vs clipless and leaving the bike out.
Clipless, for those that don't know, is a pedal and shoe combination, like ski bindings and boots. In theory more efficient (and I think safer) than the alternative, but it requires wearing the shoes. Without the shoes, you're not attaches, and you're pushing on smaller, rounded metal objects. Less control and contact, in my opinion, so you risk slipping off, or not being able to pull the bike over an obstacle.
Leaving the bike out is just making it available to thieving and adding to the wear and tear...rust and scratches.
I fully acknowledge I'm whining. I don't need more than one of the bikes. But at some point, one bike stopped being enough. It stopped being about riding and became about the options... road ride, off-road ride or errands and joyriding.
Sometimes it doesn't mean anything anymore. But sometimes it seems pretty freakin cool.
I rode home from work today along the Potomac, Jefferson Memorial to my left, Washington Monument to my left, White House, the Watergate (it's all to my left, I'm headed south on the west side of the river).
I passed about 50 yards from the Monument, a mile and a half from the Capitol. Seven years ago I marveled at how close we lived to all this power in the District, yet so far away (what with not having Congressional representation, or even full control of the city's own finances). I guess I still find it pretty interesting, but I'm not as awed by it.
I decided to ride past the White House to 18th Street to get home. I've seen police cars and Secret Service (or Capitol Police) SUVs driving out of the Pennsylvania Ave. pedestrian mall, but I've never seen regular cars driving out. There were four cars, if I remember correctly. And by regular cars, I mean cars with drivers. Black cars with drivers. Not Honda Accords.
And people were leaving the White House. Walking. Dressed for Dinner. But walking, walking out of the White House grounds. The gates were open. I've never seen that.
I wonder where the homeless that used to sleep in the doorways of Riggs Bank went tonight.
In the past year and a half since my last entry, much has happened, but instead of dwelling on the in-between, i'll do the quick catch-up: still living in the South of my youth, found a job helping to save (green) the world, my son has doubled in age, I've probably put on 10 lbs, and oh yeah, my dad was killed in a car accident (a year ago yesterday) returning from the airport in Moscow after a visit to the States where he was going to come visit me, my wife, and his grandson, but couldn't fit it in the schedule.
The good news is that his ashes will be interred at the Beaufort National Cemetary pretty close to where the Great Santini is buried.
Oh, and I've been doing some video editing.
I tend to work a later shift, starting around 11 usually, despite my best half-assed efforts. I end up coming home later, usually hitting the gym after work, so I'm heading home between 9 and 10 p.m. usually. And I usually head down 18th Street both ways.
I'm always intrigued by the contrast between day and the night on the block. Dayside, it's normally bustling, as you'd expect for the Dupont-Midtown-Foggy Bottom uhrea.
But at night, most of the week, it's pretty quiet. There'll be a handful of people heading to or from the Metro, there'll be a person or two sleeping or waiting at the bus shelter. There's usually someone milling about the garage entrance with the retractable barrier and the black SUVs that enter and leave occasionally.
But that's it, till about Thursday. Sometimes Wednesday night, but always by Thursday. There's college nights at the clubs around there, conferences are starting or ending, so there's no hurry to get home not hungover.
It's almost eerie, but it's mostly...nice. Kind of refreshing. Reflective.
My favorite times are when this one busker is out, the guy that plays sax at the corner of M and 18th. He plays three songs, none of them terribly well (A Few of My Favorite Things, Jingle Bells and one that I can't remember), but he riffs off them sometimes. It sounds perfect, wafting over the nearly barren streets.
Except when he drops in the occasional Sanford and Son theme. Then it's just funny.
I want these: http://www.ralphfancygoods.com/mugs.html
and this: http://www.ralphfancygoods.com/skateboard.html
But c'mon: That's $20 per mug. Plus shipping.
Tho, a Steadman-HST deck to hang on the wall may not be so bad, even at $80.
Can't really justify it, but dang.
However, I did just double my cuff link collection: http://www.ralphfancygoods.com/cufflinks3.html
There was a story, perhaps apocryphal, that one of the professors in Basic Writing or News Writing said that you should never use a quote for a lede unless the subject of the story is Jesus Christ and the quote is "I'm back."
The only other exception was in Chicago in 1996. Same quote, different speaker.