2014 Tour de Corn–Part 1

Saturday-Sky
Mr. Badwrench

This year, I started my Tour de Corn sans bicycle having maladjusted the Miyata’s rear derailleur in an attempt to correct a shifting problem. Probably should have taken a picture of the results of my labor, but didn’t think of it until right now. Mr. Badwrench – that’d be me.

Razesa Unsuitable for Longer Rides

The Razesa I’ve found increasingly problematic for longer rides because the ancient Master saddle numbs my genitalia after about 20 miles, the bike’s handlebars are too narrow for my shoulders on longer rides, and the Gimli’s axe-head MKS Lambda pedals don’t work well with stiff-soled cycling shoes I like to wear on longer rides.

Mechanical Intervention

I took the Miyata to Indiana after contacting Michael at Greenway 500 to see if he could address the bike’s problems on the day after my family was scheduled to arrive at the farm. Michael wrote back saying he does not schedule mechanical interventions on Saturdays, his prime retail sales day, but I could take my chances and show up with the bike. The bike might be ready in a few minutes to several hours, depending.

By the time I arrived at Greenway 500, Michael was helping another customer whose mountain bike’s presenting problem was repeated flatting. He treated the condition, in consultation with the bike’s owner – a normal-seeming guy not quite sixty who reminded me of Roman legionnaire – not very tall, but alert and competent-seeming without the overweening arrogance one finds in some ‘elite’ cyclist types.

I didn’t mind waiting, and learned something about mountain bike tires, rims, tubes, rim-tape, spokes, and so forth by paying attention to the conversation.

Michael’d got a couple of new chairs for the shop from Ikea which inspired greater confidence than the worn-out Labrador couch that’d been in the shop for the last couple of years I’d visited. With the exertion of effort with both hands, the rear derailleur was separated from the metal pie-pan spoke protector adjacent the freewheel, followed up by other needed adjustments. Apparently, I’d done the bike’s drive-train no permanent harm. Also got new bar-wrap. The old had been shredded on the left side, where I’d crashed once and the bike had fallen maybe twice. I completely chickened-out in the colors department and went with brown, again. The Salsa tape looks great, though, so I’m happy with my choice.

I don’t think I rode anywhere Saturday, maybe four or five miles? Dunno.

Fat Sunday

Sunday morning we went to church service with the family at the large denominational First Church where my wife and I were married on a cold day about 15 years ago. The old building’s roof fell in, and the congregation has a large, new facility. That Sunday’s program was the church’s Vacation Bible School finale.

Weird Animals

The VBS had acquired it’s material from Group, Inc. – the Weird Animals theme: http://www.group.com/vbs/weird-animals . Each age group from the VBS stood up front, the an adult leader said something about the children’s participation during the previous week, and the children sang a song or two learned during the week. On large video screens all around the auditorium, while the children stood up on the platform in rows to sing their songs, slick music videos for each of the songs played. Bright, flashy colors and a lot of movement from cameras and happy-looking young people, in addition to an overwhelmingly loud audio presence repeatedly derailed my attempts to pay attention to the flesh and blood kids up front in the auditorium. I noticed that no one else seemed to be paying attention to the children up front, either. Kind of a lousy thing to do to the kids. I mentioned my criticisms to my father-in-law afterwards, and he said what I witnessed has become the norm for that congregation – loud audio/visual in addition to frequent “technical difficulties” that are actually operator error. Vis-à-vis speaking about my concerns with the congregation’s pastor, my father-in-law shared a phrase he’d learned from his father, “Might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

Mexico versus Netherlands

We joined another family for lunch after the VBS service at a Mexican restaurant where we were able to watch Mexico v. Netherlands on televisions placed all around the dining area. All of the waiters wore green Mexican national team soccer jerseys. Service was dead slow, but we were able to finish our meal and get on the road before the Orange victory. Predictably, I overate and felt like a fat, hominid slug.

Ride to Farmland

Pinch-Before-the-Storm

Late Sunday afternoon, I felt I’d sufficiently digested my huge, Mexican meal to get some exercise. Also felt in real need of exercise.

I’ve visited Farmland many times, usually to eat breaded tenderloin sandwich at The Chocolate Moose or buy bulk candy at the General Store, but always I’d got there by car. I decided a long afternoon ride would be just the thing to halt the transformation from Man to Slug I’d begun at lunchtime. Got caught in a thunderstorm cloudburst and waited it out under the eaves of a church building, then rode the rest of the way there.

View-from-ShelterUnder-Sheltering-Eaves

Have I written lately about how much I enjoy riding chip-and-seal paved country roads? I really like riding them. The American version of cobbled European roads – they are rough and to be endured. They make even poorly paved normal streets seem smooth and finished. Chip-and-seal is what I rode to Farmland, as well as a lot of the other miles I rode during my recent Indiana sojourn.

Farmland Opera House

Eighth Street Opera House, look closely

Farmland was closed for the day by the time I arrived late afternoon/early evening. I rested briefly at a café table outside the Chocolate Moose, leaned my bike up for a picture against the garage door at the General Store (the sign said Open, but the store was Closed), and snapped a couple of other pictures before heading back the way I came. Got a picture Eighth Street (or is it ‘Avenue’) Opera House – look at the picture – it’s a puzzle and if you figure it out, it’ll remind you of a funny song. The woman at the deli counter at what I think was called Jason’s Meat Market – the only business in town open Sunday evening – filled up my water bottle for me.

Farmland-Candy-StoreFarmland-Blue-HouseFarmland-Flag

Farmland-Buildings

Farmland-Angle-RoadFarm-Cemetery

Dog-Bit

On the ride back to the house from Farmland, I got bitten by a dog. I’d been chased by three other dogs on the way out, but none got close to catching me, and at least one of the dogs appeared simply to enjoy the contest of speed, bearing on its doggy dial a doggy smile as it ran beside me. The dog that got me was a gray Australian sheep dog with black spots accompanied by a yellow dog of the same breed. I didn’t crash and kept riding, but the damnable cur bit one of my calves, breaking the skin.

I cannot recall the last time I’ve wanted to kill something as badly as I wanted to kill that dog. As I rode, I thought about getting Dr. Walther to accompany me back to the rural trailer from beside which the dogs ran out at me, for a little impromptu vivisection. By the time I got back to the house, though, I had decided to talk it over with my father-in-law to see what he advised. In a recent vocational incarnation, I spent about a year and a half working with a population about half of whom (is ‘whom’ correct here?) qualified for my caseload because they’d failed to control their impulses on a day they should have controlled their impulses.

My father-in-law advised me to contact local law enforcement dispatch to see what they suggested. I did so. The woman who took my call said she would have a sheriff’s department investigator come out and would also send an EMS unit out to have a look at the bite. By the time it was all over, about six shockingly overweight EMS workers (as well as one male of normal weight) came out. They had actually called for an ambulance before coming over to the house which I requested they cancel. Heck, if I could ride the miles back to the house, I could drive myself to Ball Hospital in Muncie if in need of medical treatment. The sheriff’s department investigator was a very normal seeming guy who took my information and said he’d file a report with the state; he said he couldn’t just ride out to the house with me and kill the dog. Although disappointed, I understood that things must be done decently and in order.

Turns out, oddly enough, that the dog’s owner is the daughter of my mother-in-law’s hairdresser. The wound on my calf never festered, although it did bruise pretty badly. I kept it clean and used topical antibiotic. As of this writing, the spot’s still sore if I pinch it, but it seems free of infection. The dog’s owners have quarantined it at the vets, and, since I have not yet suffered material loss, no law suit is currently pending.

Farmland, Candy, Rest & Gluttony

Farmland & Candy

No visit to Indiana is complete without a visit to Farmland General Store in the small town of Farmland; it’s where I usually buy rootbeer barrel candy, candy cigarettes, novelty vomit and other bad-flavored jelly beans.  Tennessee has one good candy store, too, the Apple Barn at Gatlinburg, but it’s easier, traffic-wise, to get to the store in Farmland than it is to get to the store in Gatlinburg.  Farmland’s a more attractive town, to boot.  This time, I bought a pound of rootbeer barrel and two pounds of horehound candy.  My wife bought a few packs of Pop-Rocks and acted like a silly kid while she was eating them.  Our son enjoyed the candy store, too.  He was too young to remember our visit to the Apple Barn.

Farmland-StreetFarmland-Storefronts

Rest & Gluttony

We spent a day with my wife’s extended family at the home of her uncle and aunt, about two hours distant from the farm.  We left in the morning and didn’t get back until evening.  For me, it was a day of enforced rest – no possibility of exercise activity but assured access to a great deal of summer holiday food – grilled burgers, hotdogs, brats, sides, and desserts.  I overate, but not to the point of painful discomfort.  On the way there and back we passed a sign my wife said always made them laugh when they were kids; I leave you with a photo to make you laugh.

Sherrill's-Gassy-Food

December 2012 Post

Hey,

I’ve been busy since the disastrous national election, and, really, even before then.  Like most Americans who believe the U.S. Constitution remains in force and provides, along with the Bill of Rights, the only valid model of governance for the United States of America, I will continue to work to ensure that the U.S. remains a free republic, those holding high elected and politically appointed office who wish to transform this nation into something that’s a cross between Zimbabwe and socialist European kleptocracies notwithstanding.

Job Change

Back in the fall of this year I changed jobs.  The hapless, incompetent, and mercurial flunky who’d been placed in supervisory role at former place of work, after more than a year in that position, failed to develop any competence of her own or any understanding of the work done by those whose work she was supposedly hired to supervise.  I was no longer willing for my good work to lend credibility to that fool’s failed tenure as a manager.  Every other person employed in the facility, by virtue of their competence, willingness to work, ability to function as a team member, was and is that supervisor’s superior.  I interviewed for and obtained a job closer to the house (that’ll save about $1,000/year in unreimbursable gasoline expenditure) that registered as a promotion and resulted in a raise in pay.  The fact that the agency for which I now work seems to foster a positive orientation to reality, value competence, and manifest a little common good will was, in sum, the real reason I took the job, but the savings and raise comprise an additional happy providence.

Christov’s Three Criteria

Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed three simple criteria for quickly evaluating other people in the workplace.  The core concepts are not original with me and I owe much to the reading I’ve done over the past few years on human development and various approaches to mental health counseling.  They are as follows, and are assessed in the order presented because those that follow are dependent upon those that precede them:

  1. Is the person oriented to reality?
  2. Does the person exhibit competence to perform whatever he or she purports to be about?
  3. Does the person exhibit basic good will toward others?

The second and third, competence and good will, do not always follow the first, orientation to reality, but I don’t think they can exist without it.  Furthermore, competence is something that one develops over time, frequently after the person has taken more than one wrong turn – for instance attempting to study a subject for which he or she has no real aptitude and in the face of resultant failure in that endeavor, choosing a more suitable field of study.  Here, it is the orientation to reality that overbalances sentiment and allows the person to discern the proper path by apprising him or her that the present course will lead to no good end.  The man, woman, or child who is oriented to reality (in children, this is something developed over time intellectually and experientially by means of observation, consequence, and [ideally] good parenting) and who is developing or has developed a variety of competencies is capable of recognizing reality-orientation and competence in others and, having gained so much thereby himself, also wishes (or becomes hypothetically capable of wishing and aiding) others well and may assist them in that pursuit.

As an experiment, use these criteria to assess the people in your workplace and social environment.  Self interest (which includes the well-being of your children) may dictate that you distance yourself from those who do not meet this simple standard.

Weight Gain

Since September, I’ve put on about five pounds of belly and buttock flab.  My goal for the month of December was to lose five pounds by Christmas, but I only managed to shed about half that.  I’d been bicycling less frequently than during the lead-up to that 50-miler my friend Adrian and I rode in early September.  I’ve had a wretched cold for about the past two or three weeks (off and on, but worst during the past few days) that has kept me off the bike.  Cold winter Tennessee air makes the snot run like water out of my nose when I ride, anyway, and since I’ve added a pound of snot in my sinus cavities during this illness to my five pounds of body fat, the prospect of all that running out my nose and down my face and cycling togs during moderately intense exercise activity is not a happy one.

Probably my one New Year’s resolution is to exercise more and return to Weight Watchers eating habits.

Root Beer Barrel Candy

Weight Watchers allows one point for one ounce of hard candy.  I did bestir myself sufficiently during our family Christmas visit to the Midwest to drive with my brother-in-law to Farmland, Indiana, where I bought three pounds of root beer barrel candy to keep at the office.  While at the Farmland General Store, I sampled horehound candy, which I found not entirely unlike root beer candy, but had a slightly bitter aftertaste.  I would have bought some, but I was already emotionally, if that is the right word, committed to buying the candy for which I’d come in search.  The only other place I’ve found root beer candy in bulk is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, but I’d rather drive to Farmland, Indiana, than Gatlinburg, Tennessee, any day.

The Old Year

The new year, 2013, is upon us.  Who really believed space aliens would come and fetch away their devotees, or that the stone age Mayans would accurately predict when the great creation’s winding would come undone and release cataclysmic geological, climatological, and spiritual forces rending the fabric of all we know?  Honestly, that’s just silly.

So here we are.  Today, our congregation will hold its last worship services for the year.   We don’t have what 19th Century literature seems to indicate was called a Watch Night Service, where the congregation meets around midnight on New Year’s Eve to confess and repent of sins of the old year and to pray for guidance and good providence for the new.  Sounds like a good idea, though.

A New Old Car

In November I found and in December I bought a new used car – an early model Volvo all-wheel drive Cross Country station wagon with only 106,000 original miles on the drive-train.  My justification is that AWD will be useful to me in my new employment, the purchase price was well within my budget, and I like a station wagon.  After much debate with myself, I’ve decided I cannot justify holding on to Thursday, my 1997 Volvo 850 five-speed sedan, for the next 12 years in order to give it my son when he will be learning to drive.  I’ve offered the car for sale to one of my brothers for his oldest boy, who will be heading to college next fall, but my brother reckons the sedan’s mileage, a mere 205,000, is too high.  So, if you know someone interested in an extremely reliable manual transmission Volvo sedan, get in touch with me.  I have all service records for the car since 2005 and the timing belt and other service is all current.