January 2002

Buda ride, verbal altercation

Rode to Buda with DuShun and Caesar today. 43 miles. Beautiful day–warm, sunny, clear. But a stiff wind out of the south, which we cursed loudly on the way down, and enjoyed quietly on the way back. At times we wound it up to 30 mph on the flats, which felt great.

The ride was excellent, but was somewhat marred when we were getting back into town and a motorist heatedly berated us for not keeping to the bike lane (which was heavy with gravel, debris, and parked cars), and other imagined violations. I countered (not heatedly) that we hadn’t done anything wrong (I know the law on this), and if he didn’t know that, he shouldn’t be allowed to drive. This riled him even more–he got out of his truck and threatened me, but didn’t actually hit me. We continued with a lively exchange of views. Dushun stepped in at this point and goaded him just a bit. He apparently felt exposed, and decided to retreat to the safety of his truck to yell at us some more. I suggested that if he were really that angry at us, he should have just run us over. At that point, the quality of his insults took a nosedive: he retreated to the old ad-hominem standbys of saying nasty things about our parentage, sexuality, and in DuShun’s case, color. We had to laugh. DuShun asked his 10-year-old son “Are you proud of your dad?”. The son realized his father was being ridiculous. When the light turned green again (he had been holding up traffic through a couple of cycles of the lights), he drove off.

Once we got through the intersection, Caesar (who had ridden across at some point) was talking to a woman who was about to call it in to the cops. We told her not to bother, but once we got back to DuShun’s place, we did.

On-bike hallucinations

So I’ve discovered that riding a bike when sleepy can have a hallucinatory quality. This has happened to me twice now. The other night I was riding home from a Ghandaia show (which was great as usual), and it happened again. It seems that exertion is a key factor. Anyhow, my vision would play tricks on me–light sources (street lights, car headlights) would have a little bit of a trail, which would fluctuate between yellow and pink. Weird. Not necessarily unpleasant, but probably not ideal to experience when riding on a street.

Firedancers get in free

A local bar has a night where firedancers can get in free, on the assumption they’ll provide some free entertainment, and I went last night. While I have mixed feelings (to put it mildly) about this “perform for free” thing, most of the people there were other fire-folks or their friends, so it had more the feeling of a community gathering. Got in one good burn and one pretty good burn myself.

Town ride

On a crisp and slightly chilly day, did an in-town ride with Caesar. 23 miles. Fun.

Perfect day for riding

What a day. Perfect weather–upper sixties, little wind, and the air was so clear I almost thought my vision was improved. Needless to say, I took this opportunity to go for a ride. Went down to Buda with Caesar. 45 miles.

Gosford Park

Saw Gosford Park today. Good movie. Like other Robert Altman movies, it involves a lot of really good actors all talking at the same time. In this one, many of them were speaking in accents that I had a little trouble with, and the relationships between the characters were occasionally mystifying, but in the end, the main points came through quite clearly. Ornate plot, ornate settings, lots of layers, and a few interesting twists and turns. Joe-Bob says “Check it out.”

Auditory obliviousness

I’ve heard it said that a mother of a newborn has olfactory immunity to the smell of her baby’s shit. I think dog owners must enjoy a similar acoustic immunity. Two of my neighbors have dogs that like to howl or bark. A lot. When one gets going, that starts the other, on and on in a vicious cycle. If I go outside and holler “Cleo, shut up!” Cleo’s people will notice that and bring her inside. But Cleo’s much louder howling? That they don’t notice.

Clown bike

Well, somewhat belatedly, I have received my birthday gift from my parents. They got me a clown bike, reckoning that was the one kind of bike I don’t already have (anyone who has a front-wheel-drive recumbent trike is pushing the limits). I put this thing together and rode it around the house. Made me feel like Artie Johnson on Laugh-in.

My parents have a great sense of humor.


Rode 360 with Caesar today. 27 miles. Excellent weather–sunny, blue sky, cool but pleasant. Wind was from the north, so we rode southbound on 360, and I was just jamming up the ascents with the wind at my back.

Stopped at Amy’s Ice Cream after for shakes. I had a coffee-ice-cream shake, C had Belgian chocolate. Also on the menu was one of Amy’s inimitably whimsical flavors, Copstop, which turns out to be coffee and donuts.

Chicago: home for the holidays

I returned on Thursday from a 10-day trip to Chicago, Dec 24 to Jan 3. It was a pretty good trip.

There’s a longstanding tradition of Christmas dinner at the home of my high-school buddy Forrest’s mother. This is one of my main reasons for flying up to Chicago for the holidays. My sister Lissy and I went this year. It was kind of a let-down. None of my peers were there except for Forrest’s brother Hamilton, who I don’t really get along with. The tradition of going bowling after dinner was also broken, though Lissy and I did drive past the Waveland Bowl alley and made obeisance as we passed.

For much of my trip, I crashed at Lissy’s new apartment, a basement unit with heated floors in Old Town. Pretty cozy, and it’s fun mapping out the hot-spots in the floor.

There’s an exhibit of Van Gogh and Gauguin going on at the Art Institute right now (I am tempted to call this Van Gogh Gauguin a-go-go). I walked down from Lissy’s, got there at 10:30 AM, and discovered that show was sold out for the whole day. Oh well. I figured I could buy tickets over the phone for a later date if I wanted to. I decided to go for a walk instead. I wound up going for a really long walk, which is one of my favorite things to do in Chicago. I took a zigzag course all the way up to my old address at Roscoe and Halstead, then zigzagged down to the building where I grew up on St James Pl, and finally worked my way back to Lissy’s. I was back before she was off work for the day, so I stopped into a nearby coffee shop, found a copy of the Onion (cool!), and made myself quite content with that and a big latte. My feet were sore. My father estimated I walked 15 miles, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

Saw Lord of the Rings on this trip. Good movie. I was just finishing up the trilogy around the time I saw it, so that was good timing. It was uncanny how closely some of the images matched the mental images I formed reading the book–Gandalf, the giant statues on the river, Weathertop, Moria, etc. Some things were different than I imagined, but in many cases, more impressive. Also saw Monsters, Inc on this trip, which was a great movie. Finally, I went to an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass art at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. This was a high point of the trip–the art was fantastic, and the setting was genius. I took some pictures.

New Year’s Eve was spent at a friend-of-a-friend’s place. I was invited along sort of as a tag-along guest, I suppose. It was OK, but nothing memorable. New Year’s Day was my folks’ typical bash, with a vast quantity of good food. Chili, turkey, various salads, dips, and sauces, numerous deserts. I ate a lot.

Travel was uneventful, but had the strict security checks that are now de rigeur. I set off the metal detector at O’Hare even though the only metal on me was the zippers and rivets in my jeans and boots, and my eyeglasses–no keys or change or anything like that. Of course, there’s some metal in me too, but that’s never set anything off. I think the metal detector was calibrated to be too sensitive.

Anyhow, it’s good to be home.