Monday, March 26, 2012

ALC-Day 80 (69 days to go)


Okay, rain, you're cramping my training schedule.  Sad to say, I did not go on a ride this weekend and I actually felt anxious about it.  In the past I've thought, "Yeah, free day!" when I don't have to ride.  But that's not the case anymore.  These long rides have become a part of my week and I do look forward to them.  Sigh...first-world problems.

I did do lots of spinning, yoga and 2 workouts this week, so all was not lost.  My Saturday spinning class that replaced this week's outdoor training ride was taught by Jim, an older instructor who, because of his dated (and not in a cool way) music,  I usually tried to avoid.  He subbed for my favorite instructor and I actually found myself really liking him. 

Jim's class is notoriously unpopular with "spinners" because, I'd imagine, he's older, could be mistaken for Willie Nelson's brother, his music selection isn't current, his mid-section looks like a sack of apples, he has trouble walking and is more strict than funny.  In the middle of a sweaty class one day, he hopped off his bike, limped towards a woman tapping away on her iPhone, took her cell phone from her hands and said, "You can have this back at the end of the class, my dear.  You're here to spin, not check Facebook!"  

He started class this week saying, "Hello, I'm Jim.  Jim from the Gym who sometimes likes to drink Jim Beam.  Can you all remember that?"  I was the only one to laugh.  He flirted old-man-style with the girls for a bit and then as we were in the thick of warming up to his psychedelic rock he said, "I just want you all to remember, when you're thinking about not giving it your all, I'm 74 and I had my knees replaced last year.  Health is very important and I'm trying to keep active.  I was told to rest.  Everyone thought I was crazy to try and become a cycling instructor, but you know what?  When you're reaching the close of anything; a race, a test, life--don't slow down or slack off because you think you're near the end.  That's when you need to try harder.  Finish strong!  And prove to everyone, and yourself, that you've got what it takes to keep fighting."  Love that.  I proceeded to have one of the most challenging spinning classes to date.

A little about my diet: I've always tried to be a mostly organic eater, no (or limited amounts of) processed foods.  No caffeine and small amounts of alcohol.  And I'm surprisingly more energetic without it.  Also, I've kept away from protein shakes during this training, fearing I'm putting unwanted and unnecessary chemicals in my body that I just don't need.  But, after much thought, I've realized I'm not getting enough protein in my diet, especially around training days and frankly, I just can't eat any more eggs than I already am.  So, I bought a jug of Muscle Milk, a protein powder you mix up with milk giving you 12g of protein per serving.  Because I will have to finish this huge vat of power myself, I selected my flavor carefully.  Boring ol' chocolate.  I love chocolate. 

Most flavors are what you might expect; chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cake batter.  Belch!  Or, yum?  I couldn't help but think about that story David Sedaris told about his father being strict about what his sister Amy could and couldn't wear but for him, David, and his other sister, they could walk around in garbage bags drinking cake batter and his father would say nothing.  Or something like that... 

Cake Batter flavor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Huge Problems!

(Last night was an HOA meeting for the building in which I live.  Per usual, the petty complaints and community drama made an appearance along with me, Dog Lady, Cat Lady, Poncho Lady and Motorcycle Guy.  After we get through initial housekeeping there is an open forum-type portion of the meeting that is nothing but a complaint-fest.)

Me: Okay, so I'll write an email to Sandra [at the property management company] and let her know about all the leaks in the building.  Now what about the newsletter?  I'll include reminders about paying dues on time, sepparating recycling, building security and give an update on our Special Assessment.  Anything else?

Cat Lady: Yes, the woman downstairs from my unit is too loud and I can't sleep and the noise is freaking my cat out.

Me: Can you talk to her?  You know, ask her to turn down the noise?

Dog Lady: I've already had to talk with Mabel and she's got a new television.  It's not music.

CL: Well, whatever that noise is, it's too loud.

Motorcycle Guy: Can't you just knock on her door and ask her to turn it down?

CL: Um, I guess I could, but maybe I'll just send her a note or something.  I don't want her to get angry with me and cause a fight.  I don't know.

DL: Mabel is almost 80.  I don't think she'll try to fight you.

Me: Okay, so why don't I just put a general reminder to owners to keep down the noise after, what, 10pm?  Anything else?

CL: Can we make it 8pm?

MG and DL: (in unison)  No!

Me: Why don't we say 9pm?  (There is a disgruntled but approving nod from Dog Lady, Motorcycle Guy and Poncho Lady.)  What else?

DL: We continue to have a problem with the laundry on the third floor.  I carry my clothes to the washer because I don't have a basket and I hit my knee on the open door of the dryer.  I don't know who left it open but I've been having to nurse my knee back to health all week and it's a huge problem!  I could sue the Association.

Pancho Lady: Yes, I've seen that door on the dryer open.

Me: Sooo, you want me to put in the newsletter that we have to close the door of the dryers?  I think most people know to do that.

DL: No they don't.  It's a huge, huge problem and I think it's the old ladies on my floor that aren't paying attention to what they're doing when they wash clothes.  They'll pay attention when they get slapped with a lawsuit, I bet.

PL:  Can you do that?

DL: Watch me!

BLACKOUT

Sunday, March 18, 2012

ALC-Day 72 (77 days to go)


To date, I've raised $2,358.66, just $641.34 away from my goal.  Way to go donors!  You've made me proud and am so happy with all the progress that's been made.  On a personal note, these past couple weeks have been particularly trying and this ALC ride and the training needed to prepare for it has been getting me through some otherwise tough moments.  Thank you donors, for helping to keep me motivated to press on (whether or not you knew you were). 

Did you see outside today?  It was blustery and much too cold for riding.  I nearly lost my toupee.  Nearly.  Chris, Nick and I rode to Lagunitas, which, as most rides have been, was a challenge, but so beautiful; stretches of redwoods, rolling grassy fields, cow-y pastures and quaint mountain towns.  Still, it was nipplesthatcouldcutglass cold!  Riding buddy, Tom, says that if you're cold while riding, ride faster.  I was riding as fast as I could and went from freezing to slightly less freezing.  So, see, it works.

Our route.

 Nick and Chris after a coffee break.

 Feeling my power at the turnaround spot in Lagunitas.

    After the ride, Chris and Nick introduced me to Chile Pie in San Francisco where I became fast friends with the New Mexican Frito Pie (above), a bag of chili Fritos that is split open and filled with chili, cheese, sour cream, Romaine lettuce and tomatoes.  I devoured it immediately and recommend it to anyone looking for a savory and delicious road to Fart City.  Worth it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

ALC-Day 66 (83 days to go)


Oh, happy day!  I'm at 79% of my gooooaaaaaaal!!!  Thank you recent donors Justyn Makarewycz and, Jason and Amy Gustafson.  I'm almost there and it feels so good.  Hard to believe how far I've come from 66 days ago.

Okay, here's a quickie update:

1. Rode the Tiburon (bike) Loop with Tom and Nick this weekend, ~53 miles.  Beautiful, not as challenging as last week through Tilden Park, but still nice to keep pushing forward.  I am happy to report I don't even bat an eye at that awful Sausalito hill climb anymore. Meh.


2. Bought some much needed cycling/clip shoes.  These shoes really made such a difference in my overall pedaling as it helped to utilize all the muscles in my legs.  For those not familiar with clip shoes, they actually clip your feet securely into your pedals, much like a ski boot to a downhill ski, and don't come out easily.  Better strokes, less exerted energy.  Also, thank you to Oakland's Cycle Sports, where I threw down shoe money, for being so helpful and supportive of riders. 


3. I had my first tumble.  There I was, coming around a bend on the windy and steep Tiburon Loop when I see a carriage full of blind orphans (some of them on fire) careening out of control and heading straight for the edge of a cliff!  I kicked it into high gear and speed up alongside the panicked children.  Just before they went over the cliff side and plunged into the ocean below, I was able to wedge a water bottle into one of the spokes, halt the wheels and divert them from disaster.  They cheered my name (I'm not sure how they knew it).  Sadly, I was not so lucky and at my high speed, could not safely stop and instead had to choose between falling into the jagged cliffs below or become one with the road.  I took my chances with the asphalt and what came next was what I can only describe as a spectacular crash that left me in a heaping mass of gore.  People in the neighborhood are still speaking about the fall and will for generations to come.  See my wounds below.
 

Actually, I hadn't yet mastered the art of "unclipping" my shoes from my pedals before coming to a complete stop.  Imagine tipping over a cow.  I stopped and just fell flat, straight over on my side, feet locked to the bike.  Tom said, "I'm so happy I was here to witness that." 

Click here to donate to my ride and ALC.
#4371

This Turns Me To But-Tah

Picks up at the :24 mark...




Geographer Verona

Friday, March 9, 2012

Say No To Homosexuals in the Boy Scouts


My uncle sent along an email expressing his opinion to a group of family members and other folks in his circle regarding the corruption of the Girl Scouts.  He went on to assert his views on the Boy Scouts and applauded their efforts to keep homosexuals out of the organization.  This was all sparked by an article written by Cathy Cleaver Ruse in The Washington Times (originally published on January 17, 2012).  In that article, Ruse discusses the Left-Wing movement to dismantle the Girls Scouts of America, pointing out their support of Planned Parenthood, the integration of "cross-dressing" boys as well as other actions she finds deplorable, and encourages people to not buy Girl Scout cookies.  To read that full article, click here.

Below is a thread of emails picked up after Ruse's article was forwarded around, with my response and others from my family toward the end.

______________________

To: Beeler Xxxxx
From: Anne Xxxx
 
Subject: Fw: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies

What gets me is that the radical left is so gleeful about destroying our institutions.

______________________

To: Anne Xxxx
CC: All
From: Beeler Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies


Anne,
  
This is mind boggling!  I just gave to the Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of the Safeway supermarket...  I'll question the girls' mothers next time I see them, but I suspect that they are clueless.  I'm crushed, if this organizational information is true.  I thought the girls represented the best of us.  I will say, so far as I know, the Boy Scouts (I was one.) continue to fight the ACLU, and other extremist leftist organizations who want them to eliminate religion from their creed and accept homosexual boys to the ranks.
  
Beeler

______________________

To: All
From: Chrissy Xxxxx [my sister]
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies

   
Uncle Beeler,

I have recently decided that I am going to stand up to hate and not sit by an be a quiet observer to people the spew hatred, even if it is my own family.

Your comment about the boy scouts accepting homosexual boys is hateful.  I wonder how many boys this actually would be targeted at????  I can only imagine the pain these young boys must be facing as teenagers struggling with their sexuality.  And then to be rejected from an organization they probably grew up in with their father's support.

I wish that I could give a sassy, intelligent response like my brother would be able to write, but I am angry.  I look at your list of cc people and know that many of those people do not agree with your thoughts.  I don't expect you to change your views on homosexuality, but i can't sit by in silence and allow you to think that I agree with your view.

Chrissy 

______________________

To: All
From: Lauri Xxxxx
[my sister]
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies 

Uncle Beeler,

I just want to clarify what you mean when you write that groups should fight organizations who want them to "accept homosexual boys to the ranks."

You don't want gay children to join the scouts? Wow, what if they can join but they have to wear the pink Nazi triangle as one their badges so other 10 year-olds can bully them even more mercilessly? If a young man comes out, would he have to forfeit his Eagle Scout standing?

Do you not want gay youth the be able to join any clubs? No homos in 4-H? How about school sports? Can gay or questioning students be on sports teams? Perhaps you would have them compete at home but not away games? How about academic teams? No homos there either?
Clearly the futures you and I envisage are vastly different

______________________

To: All
From: Ryan Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies 
 

Hello Uncle Beeler,

Thank you for sharing Cathy Cleaver Ruse's (gotta love that last name) article on the Girl Scouts.  As a conscious consumer myself, I think the shenanigans Ms. Ruse uncovered hiding behind the guise of little girls will make us all think twice before inhaling that next sleeve of Samoas--I don't care how good they are! 

But really, wouldn't aiming your protests at the greedy bureaucrats behind the Girl Scouts of America be more productive than guilting and humiliating the mothers and/or little girls selling the cookies?  I'd think confronting them would take away from the immediate mission at hand; giving young women confidence, a sense of community and industry. 

And as for Anne Xxxxx, whoever you are, I doubt the ones squirreling away cookie money and corrupting the Girl Scouts are the same members of the radical left that are, as you put it, "...so gleeful about destroying our institutions."  Just who is this "our" to whom you refer?  Are you claiming partial ownership of the Girl Scouts?  Are you the fatcat?  If so, kindly forward me your home mailing address and I will be sure to send lots of outrage in the form of 9,000 pizzas, billed to you.  Stop stealing from the cookie jar, Anne, you beast!

As for your thoughts, Uncle Beeler, on the Boy Scouts and keeping homosexuals out--I appreciate you taking us back to an America when fear, ignorance and hate mongering were as common as whitewall tires.  In your original email, I'm not sure why you chose to use underlined and bolded 28-size lettering of "...accept homosexual boys to the ranks" to punctuate your point.  Was a blocky font dripping with blood not available?  I felt like you were letting us know of some horrific and outdated coming attraction--MURDER!  GORE!  AND HOMOSEXUALS!! (Oh my!)

I don't really know where to jump in from here as I am uncertain why you would make such an emphatic comment and support a ban of anyone, regardless of sexual preference, from joining an organization striving to improve upon the lives of young men.  If you do, in fact, think that homosexuals are somehow inferior and in need of improvement, wouldn't it stand in your reasoning that the skills and life lessons gained through the Boy Scouts could be of some benefit to these heathens?--Not that that is my position. 

Or, do you think there is another motive behind a gay male wanting to join the Boy Scouts?
  • Step 1: Infiltrate Boy Scouts
  • Step 2: Master whittling, earn badge
  • Step 3: Corrupt them all 
If pedophilia is your concern, surely you know that a great majority of pedophiles are heterosexual males, not homosexuals.  With that in mind, I urge you to be first, concerned with the morality and character of any person raising the next generation of Americans (or any child). 

Perhaps you believe homosexuals are without morality and would therefore unravel the fabric of the Boy Scout tradition?  I don't know your experiences with gay men and women but I am here to tell you that there are deeply moral and upstanding homosexuals in our ranks!!! 

Just this week (3/6), I was facilitating a luncheon to raise money and support for foster youth seeking higher education.  These kids have been dealt every disadvantage you can imagine.  The lucky few that have found acceptance and love through guardianship have gone from being homeless drug pushers to Ph.Ds.  I have to believe that the acceptance and integration shown in all these young troubled lives played a pivotal role in their success, confidence and moral growth.  And the same could be true of any family or organization that supports and encourages its members to evolve, not push others aside like an unwanted rag.  Ask yourself, exactly what message do the Boy Scouts of America send when they deny someone admission to their organization?

While I was not on the original distribution list of this email chain (probably for good reason) it still made its way to me.  I strongly disagree with your views but certainly appreciate that you have them.  Sameness in opinions is not what challenges me to think critically and grow.  If you get nothing else from my remarks I hope you will consider that with a little support and acceptance, everyone has potential to dazzle. 

Kindly,

Ryan
______________________ 

To: Ryan Xxxxx
From: Sarah Xxxxx
[Beeler's daughter]
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies 

As always, well said Ryan!  Sometimes I am amazed I was partially raised by my father.  He and I could not be any different in our opinions or views in life or politics.

Sincerely,

Sarah

______________________

To: Ryan Xxxxx
From: Lauri Xxxxx

Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies


Ryan,


I was the one who highlighted the offending text.  [...accept homosexual boys to the ranks.]

______________________

To: Lauri Xxxxx
From: Beeler Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies   


Lauri,

I wouldn't dream that you'd agree with my views on homosexuality. How could you?  My position is that any private, non governmental, organization has the inherent, moral and legal right to set standards and choose whom they'll welcome into their group.  No one has the right to force their way into such an organization.  Life is not fair.  Deal with it. I wouldn't want, or demand, that the Log Cabin Republicans (bad example, they're governmental) or any homosexual organization accept me as a member.  By the way, I don't hate homosexuals so long as the quietly go about their lives and don't demand that the rest of us accept them as anything beyond their individual value. 

Uncle Beeler
______________________

To: Ryan Xxxx
From: Lauri Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies


Ryan,

I was too upset by the whole string to respond again. It weighed heavily on me for days.

Back to the old - "Organizations should have the same rights as Individuals" - type argument.


______________________

To: Lauri Xxxxx
From: Ryan Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Say no to Girl Scout Cookies


Hi Lauri,

Wow!  What a sad and final response from Uncle Beeler.  How dare homosexuals demand respect and equal rights?  You have to remember how rough straight white Protestant males have it in this country.  Don't forget that he more than us, understands the struggles of marginalized folk everywhere and therefore has a dynamic, impassioned and insightful grasp of what it means to sit at the back of the bus.  I mean, will WASPs ever get a seat at the counter?

I find it demeaning that he would tell you that life is not fair and then suggest that you/we deal with it.  What exactly does he think we are doing when we cry foul on his position and others like him?  Does his telling you to "deal with it" imply that you should accept the mistreatment from him and all the other Uncle Beelers out there?  Confronting the problem is how I deal with things.  Rolling over is for dogs.  If someone were stepping on Beeler's foot, do you think he would allow it to continue or ask them to stop and consider him for a moment?  How is the discrimination of anyone, any group, any different?

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him think (or is it drink?).  Hmpf.  At the end of the day, whether or not they are vocal about it, there are way more members of our family that do not embrace his views--and that is major progress from 10-15 years ago in our modest Jones circle.  That's what dealing with it will get you.  I would like to respond to him but already feel as though this has gone on longer than any one has the energy for.

Be well,

Ryan

Thursday, March 8, 2012

ALC-Day 62 (87 days to go)


This has been such a bumpy two weeks and I've had little time to write.  Thank you to Michael Bergen, Thomas Weitzel, Jonathan Grantham, Joel and Sarah Taddei, Constance Bryan, and Todd Summers for bringing me up to 77% of my goal!  Hooty-hoo!  (Ryan does 77 backflips in a row and crashes out a window.)
 
The training is still going well.  I'm keeping with Spinning twice a week and went on one of the most intense rides ever (or at least since I began training) last Saturday.  With all my training buddies tied up, I decided to join one of the planned ALC rides out of Orinda (East Bay).  We met up at the BART parking lot at 7:15am and did our group stretches.  Looking around the group I am still the only one without clip/cycling shoes, which seems to baffle other riders.  "Where are your cycling shoes?!"  I guess I don't know any better.

This particular ride was 54 miles, my longest training ride yet, and went through Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, over Crazy Mountain, along Insane Valley and down into Sore-Ass Gorge.  If you've ever been driving along Highway 1 heading toward Point Reyes and have seen cyclists chugging up the winding hills and from your worn-out car thought, "Those guys are crazy!"  That was me.  The cyclist, not the motorist.

Most of the ride itself was fine, nothing unusual; rolling hills, winding paths, sun on your face.  But the last 10 miles were all steep hills and windy steep hills at that.  And when I say steep hill I mean we were riding for 10 miles at about 30-45 degrees the whole time.  And with all the false summits, peaks that looked like the top of the hill, we were all that more challenged.  Our minds were thinking, "Just get to the top there and *puff puff puff* we can rest and...WTF!  There's more?"  I'm sure that high up the views were pretty but the butt and neck pain were far too distracting to enjoy.

The one reprieve on that final 10 mile crazyasshell climb was a dip through the redwoods.  I was pacing well with Neil, a guy I met and the CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, who was very encouraging.  We shared a well-earned banana when we got back to BART.


 Have you seen me in my outfit?

Orchard in Moraga near end of ride.

As I've gone on more and more rides I'm starting to see a regular cast of characters, including:

Clown Face: This is the person that applies a level 50 SPF to their face and it is so thick and white that it ends up looking like the base of clown make up.

Mushroom Man: This is the guy that does not tuck or arrange his junk in his spandex and the imprint of his smashed penis, resembling a halved mushroom, shows through. 

Moose Knuckle Woman: This is the woman who's got camel toe with extra padding from her padded shorts.

Lemony Snickett: Male or female, this is the person with big sharp-looking nipples that poke out of their tight shirt.

Posing Cyclist: This is the bike rider that has all new and expensive matching gear, is very clean but when riding doesn't know how to shift, signal or pace themselves.  Having difficulty unclipping their shoes from the petals, these folks are also the ones falling straight over when bringing their bikes to a full stop.

Nervous Nelly: This is the slowest of the cyclists and can be seen wearing any combination of knee and elbow pads, helmet rear view mirrors and a big backpack.  


Seasoned Cyclist: This is the person that has been cycling for years, will often not signal when passing you and will run you down should you get in their way.


I'm not a big meat-eater but I'm trying to have more protein as I train.  Here's a yummy meal for any meat-eaters out there:
Paleo Diet Jambalaya

Ingredients
  • 5 c. chicken stock.
  • 4 peppers – any color you want, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large can of organic diced tomatoes (leave the juice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 lb large shrimp, raw and de-veined.
  • 4 oz. chicken, diced
  • 1 pkg spicy Andouille sausage
  • 1/2-1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 c. okra (optional)
  • 3 tbsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 1/4 c. hot sauce
Instructions

In a large pot, except for the shrimp, brown the proteins and remove from pot for later.  Add chopped peppers, onions, garlic, cajun seasoning, hot sauce, and bay leafs with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook for medium-low for 45 minutes, stirring occationally.  While this is cooking quickly make cauliflower rice by pulsing raw cauliflower in the food processor until it resembles rice.  Add chicken, sausages and shrimp to the pot along with cauliflower rice and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!