Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quick Change Artist

Elden "Fatty" Nelson wrote this article about how to change from your work clothes to bike clothes in a parking lot without getting arrested for indecent exposure. It is spot on. Awesome pic with the article, too.

Say a prayer for he and his wife as she is going through chemo for cancer. How he still manages to have enough of a sense of humor to write the article above is miraculous all by itself.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

In the commuter rush, rarely does one get an opportunity to stop on a bridge over the mighty Mississippi River, walk to the edge of the bridge, and take in the view, not to mention do it on a historic road! We in St. Louis enjoy that very luxury in the Old Chain of Rocks bridge. The bridge, which is part of Old Route 66, has been converted for use by pedestrians and cyclists, and affords a spectacular view of the Mississippi River and, when looking South, the Gateway Arch.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bike Rehab

My father-in-law gave my husband and I this bicycle recently. I don't know what year it is, but I think it's probably in the neighborhood of 1971. We are thinking about restoring it. It's a German made AMF Skylark 2000. I really like the orange paint job.

We both have our respective road bikes and mt. bikes, but I have been thinking of getting something more utilitarian for running errands around the neighborhood. Just looking for something that I could chain up and not be too worried about someone stealing, but that still has a little style.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Halloween!

It's that time of year again -- Halloween is one of my favorites. Although I didn't go all out with the decorations this year, I did go to a couple of Halloween parties last night.

I think my favorite costume was Ham Sandwich Elvis. My buddy was really working his assets in that costume! Hoo-ah!

Another favorite was Mario and Luigi from the Mario Bros. video game.

Hubby and I also went to Jive and Wail Friday night. Whoa boy, we had a good time there, singing along with the dueling pianists and enjoying a few adult beverages. The two who were featured Friday night, Paul Creed from Orlando, FL and Jake Prell from Indianapolis, IN looked like they could be brothers -- both very slim guys with shaved heads. They were great performers and everyone there looked like they were having a whole lot of fun.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crazy Cyclists!!

Those bike messengers in NYC are pretty amazing. I am fascinated by their seeming fearlessness and bike handling skills.

As if doing that job on two wheels isn't hard enough, there are ones doing it on one! Watch out for unicyclist messengers!

I rode through some post-Rams traffic on October 7 at the end of a century ride. I couldn't imagine doing that day in and day out for my job.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


If you are a cyclist, try to make some time for this event this weekend (Sunday, October 28). Sharktoberfest is an annual event, but this year it includes the above charitable ride in the AM.

I didn't personally know the fellow for whom the charitable event is named, but it looks like a good cause. I have known the owner of Big Shark ever since he opened his first tiny little store in the Delmar loop nearly 15 years ago, so I trust him.

Anyway, 40 miles on Sunday in the chilly fall weather sounds like a good time to me. Time to break out the long finger gloves!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I love to eat and make food; especially love to bake things. You can't beat the wonderful smells of baking cookies, breads, scones, muffins, or rolls, not to mention during chilly weather, baking fills the house with warmth.

It's the time of year when I start baking quite a lot, partly because I really enjoy doing it and partly so I can try out new recipes in anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. My mother used to make these soft and yeasty cloverleaf rolls at every major holiday. They were outstanding and so tender and light -- truly a melt in your mouth experience. While I loved those cloverleaf rolls, I have never mastered making them. I know I will try again in the future, but for now, I am trying other things.

One of the things I gave a shot last weekend was this no-knead bread. Being in the Midwest, I missed out on the big to-do that this bread made last year when an article about it was published in the New York Times. On the bright side, many people have written about their experiences with the recipe since then, so I was the beneficiary of some good advice and information from those early adopters.

This is undoubtedly the best loaf of bread I have ever made. It's a loaf that is eyes-roll-back-in-your-head good. The exterior is crunchy and substantial. The interior is creamy, but meaty. It produces a beautiful rustic-looking loaf. It's just lovely.

One of the most satisfying aspects of this, or any bread, is the process of breadmaking itself. Putting all the ingredients together is your own little act of creation. You become personally involved in the bread. You feel its texture in your hands. You smell its different aromas before, during, and after the baking. You see its transformation from a seemingly random collection of items that do not taste particularly good while on their own into a cohesive form that yields tasty and substantial sustenance. I even say little prayers while making the bread, giving thanks for these gifts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Riding a bike with David Byrne

This is an interesting perspective from David Byrne's bicycle helmet cam as he rides through the streets of NYC. This video was part of a performance he put on. As the video ends, he is riding up a ramp to the stage. In the live performance, they showed this video on a screen, then when the video ended, he rode out onto the stage as though he had just finished riding into the theater. I would have liked to have seen the performance.

Anyway, the helmet cam gives you a good idea of what it's like to bike in NYC traffic. I got a tiny taste of it when I finished a ride on October 7, the timing of which landed me in the middle of downtown congestion after a Rams game. I was not too keen on riding in between two columns of cars, but managed to get through it without injury/crashing.

Parents these days

We all hear, at one time or another, the exasperated mention of "kids, these days!" I am just as exasperated with the "parents, these days!"

So I am at the orthodontist yesterday (yes, at 37 years old, I have to go to the orthodontist now and then), and the room in which the orthodontist works is one large open space with about 15 patient stations. This configuration, as opposed to individual private rooms, allows the orthodontist visibility to all his patients at once and allows the orthodontist's hygienists/assistants to call upon him if quickly needed. As a result, as a patient, you are about 4 feet apart from your fellow patient.

So, there was a young man -- probably 15 years old -- in the chair next to mine. I saw/heard him take a phone call on his mobile phone. His mother was sitting a few feet away on what I call the parent bench (so parents can be in the room with their child, who might be scared/uncomfortable with the ortho work). She walked over to him after her son was done with his call and asked what was going on, saying that she had heard the phone call. The boy started rubbing his eyes with his hands (obviously as a way to not look his mother in the eyes) and said, "It doesn't involve you."

WHAT!!!??? What did I hear come out of that child's mouth? Surely his mother will take him to task for his disrespect, not to mention he has the audacity to respond to his mother like that in public!



Her response?

"It involves my house."

Oh, great. Nice comeback lady. Has parenting come to this? A child can be a jerk to his mother and her rights as a parent, homeowner, and, oh, I don't know, provider of everything in this child's life (as well as the decision to give him life itself) are limited to "It involves my house."??!!!!!! What the? Get some backbone lady. Here's how:

  1. Remove mobile phone from child's possession. Immediately. Like, right now. Yes, in the orthodontist's office, in front of everyone. Embarrassing your child (or yourself) is not a felony, or even a misdemeanor. If he wants to make a scene, let him go ahead and try. He'll just make a fool of himself if you keep your calm.
  2. If you feel you must provide your child with some communication device, replace said mobile phone with one of these spiffy three-button phones (one button for 911, one button for Mom, and one button for Dad. Up to 20 more numbers can be programmed into the phone by the parent, but in this case, those three are enough. Plus it doesn't hurt that your 15 year old kid will look like an extreme dork to all his cool friends because he can't be trusted to behave responsibly with a regular mobile phone.)
  3. Take away all other privileges (television, video games, radio, after-school activities) until further notice.
  4. As child becomes more respectful, add a privilege back.
  5. Repeat until your kid stops being a jerk.
I'm sure all the touchy-feely types out there are appalled at this style of parenting. Is there a time and place for a soft touch when it comes to parenting? Absolutely! This is not one of them.

Many parents have become so worried that their kids will not like them that the parents will lose their own self respect in order to please the kids. The job of a parent is not to be the child's best friend; the job of a parent is to raise children who have character, respectfulness, and manners.

The bottom line of any decision a parent needs to make when it comes to disciplining any child who is old enough to reason is for the parent to ask him/herself, "would you put up with this from anyone else?" If the answer is no, then you know that discipline is in order. There is no need to subjugate yourself to your child(ren) in exchange for harmony at home.

Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.
- C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Eating better

Well since I have no excuse to be a sloth anymore now that I can exercise and use the bike again, I figured I better get my food intake back in order. I put on 10 - 15 pounds in the 2.5 months I wasn't regularly exercising!

I am very keen on incorporating a lot of different flavors and textures into my food -- especially if it is lower calorie/fat food -- in order to keep an interesting and satisfying variety. So it was with great interest I read about this meal plan. What really peeves me about this meal plan and a million others like it is that it calls for things like 1/4 of a mango. Can anyone tell me who eats just 1/4 of a mango?? And what am I supposed to do with the rest of the mango??? Throw it out?? There're no other mango-oriented items on this eating plan!!! Same goes for 1/2 of a banana. Dammit that's annoying and, more importantly, discouraging. Not only is it impractical, but all those half-used ingredients we might toss in the trash are wasteful, consumerist, environmentally-unfriendly, and costly!

What I need is a healthy meal plan for the real world that assumes reapplication of partially used ingredients. Would it have killed Kathy McManus, R.D. (Registered Dietician) to design the eating plan to say, I don't know, use the remainder of the mango in a perky salsa to put on some chicken or fish or, say, incorporate it into that shrimp meal Wednesday night, or chop it up and put it in the yogurt Thurdsay morning? GAAAHHH!!

No one is going to use just 1/4 of a mango, or 1/2 of a banana! Be real! Make a food plan that is delicious, healthful, AND practical.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

. . . aaaaaand we're back!

Yep I'm lazy. Didn't get back to the blog for a long time. Well I have to try to change that habit.

My first excuse is that I bought myself a Giant OCR c3 road bike in February and I spent a lot of time riding it this year. That is, a lot of time riding it until I had an off-road cycling accident on July 21 that left me with a grade 5 shoulder separation. This would be my second excuse.

So there I was, happily noodling around on my mt. bike in the dirt when at one point, the bike went to the left, but I went to the right. I took a header (literally landed head first) and was knocked out for a few seconds. I came to face down in the dirt and said to the kind man who had rushed over to help me, "May I mamu-dogface to the banana patch?"* He said "WHAT?!!".

After taking a quick field assessment of my bodily functioning, and realizing that I could operate (most) limbs and (most of) the brainy bit successfully, I said, "I think I dislocated my shoulder; can you look at it?" I was, by this point, sitting cross-legged on the ground instead of face down talking gibberish as before. He bent over to look at it and wisely espoused, "Yep, it don't look right!"

I collected my 12-year-old step-son and what was left of my wits from the powdery dirt, then we walked back to the trailhead (only 3/4 of a mile away). During the walk, I experienced some really cool psychedelic action in my left eye. Then I started to get a headache. We got to the trailhead and there was another nice man standing there in his rollerblades. He looked at me curiously. I suspect he wondered why I was walking my bike and perhaps thought I looked awfully dirty -- I later realized that I was dust-covered head to toe.

I was calm during this calamity. No crying. No hysterics. No panic. I sat down on the park bench at the trailhead next to where the nice rollerblader was standing. I made some small talk with him that I don't remember. Finally, I told him I had an accident and I was waiting for the hubby to come off the trail and drive me to urgent care. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when I told him what happened and that I thought I had a dislocated shoulder. I don't know how long I was sitting there talking with him, but he finally said, after several failed attempts to call the hubby, that I should call an ambulance, so I did.

Hubby had been on the paved trail all this time. He couldn't hear me calling his mobile phone repeatedly because he was jamming to his iPod. Fortunately, the rollerblader at the trailhead who gently urged me to call the ambulance was nice enough to help me load the bikes on the rack and, while we were doing that, hubby rode up. So we cancelled the ambulance. Hubby took me to urgent care. Urgent care said I had to go to an ER because I had been knocked out and needed a CT scan. We loaded up and went to the ER.

ER was pretty good about getting me into a room and to see a dr. I remember there was a man writing info for me on my intake form and he said "How old are you?" and I said "uuuuuuum ... thirtyyyyyy ... six?" He said "yep!" I didn't tell him that I hadn't actually recalled my age -- just calculated it. However, I was happy that my brain was functioning well enough for me to calculate my age -- I figured the memory part would come back later.

Ultimately, I had a CT scan. Brain was fine, just shook up. Then they said "how's your pain?" I said, "eh, maybe 2 - 3 on a scale of 1 - 10; not bad" That's when they said, "oh, ok, well we're going to torture you to make it feel worse, but before we do that, we'll give you a tiny bit of morphine to take the edge off."**

So, 10 minutes after the morphine shot, they send me to x-ray to take pics of my shoulder. My torturer (a.k.a. x-ray tech) said "reach up above your head with both your hands and grab this bar up here." Yeah right. Let's just say the pain went from 2 - 3 to oh, I don't know, 11. I thought I was gonna' pass out from the pain.

After the torture session, the dr. said I had a grade 3 shoulder separation. I didn't really register what that meant. He said all my ligaments were severed and I had nothing holding my shoulder together except my shoulder muscles. Ewwwww. I think my stomach turned when I heard that. On the bright side, he said he was impressed with my pain tolerance; he said he had a grade 1 - 2 separation before and he was in excruciating pain.

So I went to an orthopedic surgeon July 25. She said it was a grade 5 separation. The difference between grade 3 and grade 5 is in a grade 5, not only are all 3 ligaments separated from the AC joint, but the end of the clavicle is poking up between the two muscles that come together at the top of the shoulder. Neat-o! Surgery was definitely in order.

Had surgery to repair it on July 30. Was in a sling until September 5. I was allowed back on the bike on September 17(-ish). Here's a good idea of what one's shoulder looks like with a shoulder separation (the injury in this person's photo is on the right shoulder).

Naturally, I won't let a silly thing like a shoulder separation keep me off the bike. Well, it might keep me off the mt. bike for a while, but I was ready to get back on the road bike. Matter of fact, I busted out a century (100-miler, for you non-cyclist types) ride on October 7. Sweet.

* Not really. I don't remember what the hell I said at that point, but it sure didn't make sense to him. Made perfect sense to me, however. . .
** OK they didn't really say that. They were actually quite kind to me there.