Friday, November 30, 2007

I've got this sneaking suspicion...

At last, my Carhartts
are broken in, at long last
I'm a real Whittie

Ten Things I've Learned About Being a Carpenter*:

1. It's better to dig the splinters out right away. The only thing worse than a splinter is an infected, three day old splinter.

2. Don't use the tape measure upside-down. You'll cut an inch too short every time.

3. Use a dust mask when you cut wood unless you want your boogers to look like sticky black ants.

4. When you're holding two pieces of wood together while someone else nails them together with the pneumatic nailer, be sure to yell "OW" or "FUCK" as though they just shot a nail through your hand. It's funny every time.

5. Wear gloves when you're putting on primer or paint because it's hard to get off, but that linseed oil finish is great hand moisturizer and smells really nice. Go gloveless.

6. Expect everything you bring into the shop to be covered in sawdust within 15 minutes. This includes your clothes, you bike, and your lunch. You'd be amazed what a little sawdust can do to some four day old lasagna.

7. Whenever you're using silicone caulk, be sure to make lots of jokes about "filling the crack with caulk" and such. It's funny every time. Yes, your co-workers are men in their fifties, but there's no reason why you can't behave every bit as infantile as they do.

8. The ear protection with the built-in FM radio gets much better reception if you tuck the antenna under your ear so it touches your skin. It's the only way to get NPR. I have no idea why this works but trust me.

9. PUT THE PENCIL BACK IN YOUR POCKET WHEN YOU'RE DONE, AND KEEP THAT TAPE MEASURER CLIPPED TO YOUR PANTS. You'll be needing them both again very soon. Why can't you learn this?

10. Lastly, I'll restate the most well known piece of carpentry advice in the world: measure twice, cut once. Even though this is a total no-brainer you will forget, and make mistakes on a routine basis. Fortunately (or unfortunately) your boss will also forget on a routine basis, requiring you to pose questions like "are you sure?" or "are you cutting the right piece of wood?" or "what the hell are you doing???" without coming off as insulting.

* These are not universal truths of carpentry, just things I've learned about my particular situation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I love days like this...

To some, a day that never involves putting on normal street clothing would be looked down upon as a sign of laziness. For me, those are the best days of all, and while I don't deny there is a hint of laziness, I still feel productive. They go like this: I wake up late, and indulge in some pretty awesome dreams about racing the Cannonball Run. Then I slip into my flannel pajamas and head downstairs where I spend at least two hours drinking coffee, making breakfast, reading and drinking more coffee. Finally the motivation to ride overtakes my enjoyment of my morning and I spend at least an hour changing into cycling spandex and preparing my bike for the trip. I ride my bike until it's dark, often with the company of my good friends, often exploring new places like the decrepit old backroad down to Horseshoe Bend or the twisty highway that follows the river to Emmett, often encountering amazing or beautiful things, like snow geese swimming across a mostly frozen stretch of river, or a view of the back side of Bogus Basin. I get home exhausted and cold, take a hot shower, and slip back into my flannel pajamas. I eat dinner, often cooked by one of my culinarily gifted housemates. We exchange stories of our respective adventures, and then watch a movie or sports. Before long I'm good and ready for bed. I go back upstairs and read until I'm sleepy, and then eagerly pick up where I left off in the Cannonball Run.

I'm telling you, this is the life -- days that don't involve putting on pants with pockets, wearing shoes with rubber soles, or spending any money. Days purely devoted to nourishment, physical exertion, and interpersonal interaction. Simple days. Glorious days.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving is great

11:43:18 - Exit parents' house fully dressed in 6 layers of spandex prepared for long ride in bitter cold. Discover flat tire. Curse.
11:45:29 - Realize I have neither tube, nor patch kit, nor tire levers to pry exceedingly tight tire off of rim (tire exceedingly tight thanks to extra beadless tire stuffed inside outer tire to serve as additional puncture protection). Realize that this requires return trip to house, now that move-out of parents' house is finally complete. Curse again.
11:58:27 - Return home completely overheating (thanks to 6 layers of spandex in a by now quite warn automobile) after red-light-filled drive across town.
12:09:01 - Apply last remaining patch to hole in tube, realizing that should this patch fail, there would be no riding today. Reinsert tube into overstuffed tire (thanks to extra beadless tire).
12:19:32 - Check e-mail obsessively compulsively, despite the fact that since graduating from college number of e-mails and facebook messages have dropped roughly 63%.
12:27:18 - Eat apple.
12:29:50 - Exit house fully dressed in 6 layers of spandex prepared for long ride in bitter cold. Smile as patch job appears to be successful. Head Northwest on Hill Road.
3:40:44 - Return home throughly exhausted, high on endorphins, numb in the extremities, and famished.
3:41:04 - Place bicycle in custom built bicycle rack capable of neatly, efficiently and conveniently storing up to seven bicycles in our living room. Thank you very much.
3:41:43 - Strip off spandex. Check e-mail obsessively compulsively.
3:48:12 - Slam down recovery drink while taking hot shower. Enjoy returned sensation to extremities.
3:56:00 - Dress the fuck up -- grandma's going to be there after all.
4:04:38 - Drive back across town, green lights the whole way!
4:13:22 - Return to parents house with roughly 4 minutes to spare before we were instruected to sit down and begin feasting.
4:15:57 - Feast. Food never tasted so good.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Screw that mountain bike -- it's time to train!

Call me crazy. Call me sick. Call me whatever you want, but I really want to train right now. I don't care about the rain, I don't care about the cold, I don't even care about how few hours of daylight there are* -- the 2008 season is calling my name, and I am strangely compelled to follow that call. I am the homing pigeon. I am the humpback whale. I am the every animal that ever knew exactly where it was going without knowing why. Screw that mountain bike -- it's time to train!

*just a side note, I just looked outside and it's friggin' snowing. For the first time this year. I still feel the same way.

Avoid the calamari

Oh, calamari
I mistrusted you at first
And mistrust you still...

Deep-fried rubber bands
Chunked mayonnaise dipping sauce
Token lemon wedge

I was so hungry
But my blast-furnace stomach
Vetoed those suckers

If only I'd puked
When I felt like puking, oh
If only I'd puked

Instead I waited
Green, shivering, fetal ball
Calamari's curse

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

For all you Rube-Goldberg fans...

I'm so glad someone did this. I think they're from The Netherlands. GO NETHERLANDS!!!

The pre-testing jitters...

So I'm going out to Seattle this weekend to meet with my coach Todd Herriott, and I am dreading it. I'll be paying a visit to Todd's place of work called Herriott Sports Performance (HSP for short), where not surprisingly Todd is the head honcho. While I'm there I'll be getting a slew of physiological tests to better determine how to craft my training plan, and I'll have Todd adjust my aerodynamic position on my TT bike, but most importantly, I'm going there to have Todd give me the "straight talk". Todd is a ball-buster, no way around it. He's a good coach for me, because he doesn't dandy up what he says with a bunch of supportive, positive, everybody-can-be-a-winner fanciness. No, he'll be brutally honest. He's been around and seen it all long enough to know that a guy like me - a talented athlete, but not a complete and total mutant - needs to work REALLY REALLY hard in order to be successful, especially when I'm competing mostly against other talented athletes (and the occasional total mutant), almost all of whom also work REALLY REALLY hard. He's going to get me up on those machines, and poke my finger with a needle, and make me pedal until I want to puke, and then look at the data and say something like "Sam, you're a big unit. Your [insert physiological statistic] is good, and if you do what I tell you to do it will get better. If you don't get better, you'll never be able to bark with the big boys, so do what I tell you, ok."

"Do I have to stop drinking lots of beer and eating lots of ice cream," I'll ask.

"Only if you want to get faster," he'll say.

This is why I'm dreading it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lord help me.....

O my God! Source of all mercy! I acknowledge Your sovereign power. While recalling the wasted years that are past, I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain. Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things. Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace.

Lord, I need a mountain bike. I know, oh Great Forgiver, that it's been far too long since the my heart has pined for endless miles of singletrack, but the tide has turned, and again I wish for nothing more than wide knobby tires, and finely-tuned suspension. Give me this mountain bike, and shine through me and be so in me, that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your Presence as I blow past them both uphill and down.