Monthly Archives: May 2007

Defeating retail price gougers

I’m dying to edit this video I shot over the weekend, but my new laptop doesn’t have a firewire port. I figured they might be expensive at ‘big box electronic store’ (name witheld to protect their good — actually best — name) but it was on the way home so I gave it a shot. I spoke to their ‘nerd squad’ person who was actually quite helpful and knowledgeable. He came back with a generic PC card that would’ve worked, but I would’ve also needed to buy a new cable because my camera has a different cable interface. Of course, they had a cable. The total: $60 for the card and $30 for the cable.

I knew the sales guy was knowledgeable when he clearly felt bad about telling me the total cost. But he’d been trained in retail; don’t solve the problem the best way, solve it with what you have on the shelf, and hopefully push accessories.

I might have bought that card for $30, because everyone and their mom manufactures pc components now. Good cards go for $60, and this wasn’t a good card, but at least their attempt was a little legit. But $30 for a cable? I’ve seen and owned a wide assortment of cables in my lifetime, and I can tell you that unless a cable is more than 50 feet long or is tethering an astronaut to the space shuttle, it isn’t worth 30 bucks.

When did every retail store on the planet start marking up all accessories 400%?  Most stores don’t even order small replacement parts, like light bulbs, springs, etc. Go to a watch store and they’ll tell you to buy a new watch band because they don’t want to sell you a 5 cent spring. Or, they’ll tell you they can only install the spring themselves for $7 because of “liability”. Stores don’t want to sell you small parts, they don’t want to stock them, and they don’t want to order them. And they do this in the name of better service.

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BURN 24 Recap

I’ve been pretty bummed for the past 2 weeks. I couldn’t really go anywhere or do anything. On Thursday, I got my new light-weight “action” cast, plus a clearance that I could travel and scored a ride to the BURN race with Lisa Rolf. I’d be a spectator for the first time in a long time.

The race was one of the best I’ve ever attended. I’m sure that part of that enjoyment was because I didn’t have to ride and got to go to bed while everyone else faced dementia. But Eddie O puts on a fantastic show. This race has all the drama of a big-budget national race, yet all the comfort of a small local event.

I badly wanted to be a part of the chaos and volunteered at various points throughout the race to get my fix. I’m sure a lot of folks think I’m really considerate and helpful, and if you harbor that illusion, ask me to help you move or paint your house. Yeah, I’m not coming… 

I also started shooting video and quickly became obesessed.  Granted, the camera was a bit pervasive (or invasive, whatever), but the payoff comes later when some really candid footage emerges. And some of that shit is seriously funny.

I need to say thanks to a few folks, without whom I would’ve been a sad lump on the couch this weekend: Lisa Rolf (who is amazing) for her kindness and good conversation, and MotoMark and Dayna for driving me home, feeding me Little Debbies, and doodling on my toenails while I slept in the car.

Huge congrats to the Atlanta folks and the Blackwater Bike Shop teams for their top finishes, as well as the Middle Ring Mafia for their win in the men’s category. Namrita also took the women’s solo on a single speed. Thanks to Eddie for letting me hang, to Mark Hendershot for signing my cast after his win, and Matt B, who provided the delicious homebrews I drank for breakfast on Sunday.

Finally, the real reason I spent 10 hours in the car was to go up and see my wife Jen, who cracks me up, and to watch her race with the Lynchburg crew: Kelly, Davey, Mike, Julie, Robbie, Sean, Stacy, Jason, Kat, and Frank. Ironically, I was with most of these folks when I actually broke my ankle.  The Blackwater Bike Shop gang are great people and they really know how to have fun on the road. We’ve been to Utah, Myrtle Beach, and now Wilkesboro in the last 4 months, and they’ve taught Jen and I quite a bit about how to relax and enjoy ourselves. 

Video will follow when I can get through the 2 hours or so of footage. I also honed some mad crutch skills I’ll be demo’ing at a cubicle near you…

No Mr. Ranger, that is not my beer. Or dog.

working registration at the BURN race
Virginal white cast, the color of Jessica Simpson’s teeth.

Julie (and Zeus), Jen, Dayna, Kelly, Stacy

Lil Chub II saw no action…

Dog’s (heart) pizza

Just met Forrest and Shady at Fellini’s. I almost live there now, because it’s the one place I can hobble to and also because with the renovation the pizza is better (new oven) and they have Rogue ale on draft.

I wanted to catch up with some riders and hear about their weekend. Most were still out of commission or traveling back to ATL. It’s going to be a rough Tuesday for everyone.

Forrest had a bit of bad luck with his tires out at Dausett. I filled him in on the BURN. 

shady forrest

salt shaker
Still life with crutches and salt shaker

Every Day Camo…

So today, I’m sitting on the couch watching Off Road to Athens and eating a salad. Disclaimer: I’m not normally this big of a slob, but I happened to be reclined with my leg up.

As I get up, a spinach leaf tumbles off my shirt. It must’ve been there for a while and I didn’t notice because… TA DA, I was wearing camo!

This is fantastic! How about camo for all kinds of situations, like dress shirts that have ink stain or coffee ring patterns. 

Notice how the foliage blends into the natural curves in the tshirt…

Note: This is a dramatic re-enactment of the actual event

Matt Taylor is a star

Matt’s artificial whitewater course is about to launch! Matt, Kiki, and the 4 kids moved up to western Maryland back in August, and I can’t believe how long it’s been. I think I miss those two more than anyone else.

Matt was featured on channel 9 news in DC. He’s so cool and articulate.

Article and video here

Missing my cycling buddies…

I got out of the house last night and needed to go no further than my neighborhood to see Marc Hirsh, Forrest, and Mark Baldwin.  I’m starting to realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many great people who tolerate all my quirks and inconsistencies.


Molly dropped by to see me for coffee today, which made my morning. She also dropped off a bunch of cycling (and zombie) movies. Aimee and Robb came by for a visit tonight and we chatted for an hour. Again, great people.

From there, they dropped me off (around the corner) at Fellini’s, where I met Jono, David and Artur Sagat, Mike Harris and Matt from Atlanta Cycling. I’ve known the Sagat’s since they were barely teenagers tearing up the junior divisions. Obviously, Mike and Jono and I go back years. It’s like we grew up together here. We talked about all the great times we’ve shared riding, all the shared experiences from some very memorably GAP and 24 hour races, and all the people we’ve known and where they’ve gone. We’re laughing like idiots and they’re watching me practice my “crutch stand” techniques.

Ed Moredith was actually in town and seated at the table next to us! And Mike Kotzen came walking by with his dogs.

I have all the best people right here at the streetcorner, and I don’t often think I appreciate enough. Got Eddie O a phone call away. On top of that, I have Blaine and Scott constantly calling to see how I’m doing (and make fun of me.). I don’t think I could be any luckier than I am now.

Day 2: On my own with a broken ankle

I thought I’d be fine on my own, once both Jen and my parents had left. I’m managing, but I grossly underestimated how hard it would be to take care of myself. I’m learning how difficult it must be for individuals with permanent disabilities to perform the same tasks we all take for granted. This world is really not designed with them in mind, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like in other countries that don’t ADA.

My parents and Jen did their best to help anticipate a lot of of the big recurring obstacles. I’m pretty much relegated to the couch, and to carry something back with me, I either have to hop/crutch and give up one hand, or throw the thing at the couch. The “throw” method works great with pillows or books and not so great with hot tea. My parents found some wheeled tables at the goodwill, and Jen tied a rope to it. I can push/drag stuff from one room to another with this.

My cart for transporting stuff from one room to another. 

The bathing dilemma I’d solved myself. I have a garbage bag over my cast, with a towel wrapped right under the opening and a band of surgical tubing to tie it shut.

Still, there’s a bunch of small tasks you never think about. I’m learning the basics — hopping, carrying stuff, balancing, — and my right leg is getting really strong. I’m actually a whiz with the crutches. I got the technique quickly, but now even my muscles have adapted. I use mostly core muscles — chest, lats, back — rather than arms, and I don’t fatigue easily.

It took me 40 minutes to prep the kitchen and make a salad yesterday. Next time I fill the cat’s water bowl, I’ll bring the water to the dish rather than hop with a full bowl. Cleaning up cat barf is another unpredictable event, and she’s not always considerate with her choice of locations.

All in all, yesterday was tough, and I was really grouchy. I cursed loudly and repeatedly and will be embarrassed when I next see the neighbors.

This past week, I was really bad about myself. I’m mostly confined indoors, I can only get up for short periods of time, and I’ve had people waiting on me hand and foot. I’m going to be like this for 2 more months, and I can’t (I thought at the time) even take care of myself.

What I’m learning is that I can take care of myself. Everything takes much, much longer, and you really have to learn to do everything all over again. But I’m getting much faster now that I have the basic learning curve. And it’s really, really satisfying now that I’m making some progress. So I can take care of myself, which is making me feel independent again.

The tough part continues to be restraining myself from doing too much and letting my leg heal.

Bad Dreams and Scary stuff

The recurring nightmare theme I’ve had is that I do something to sabotage my recovery: get my cast wet, fall, or forget that I have a broken ankle and walk on the cast.

Today was especially freaky. I woke up to the smell of smoke: specifically, the unmistakable smell of burning wood. I got up, grabbed my phone and keys, and started checking out the usual suspects: the outlets, the kitchen, etc. I wasn’t freaking out but was more than highly concerned. If I had any time to grab something, what would I grab? How would I get myself and the cat out of the house? What would I do if the stairway was impassable? Throw myself out the window?

We’d had electrical problems before, and I paid special attention to the outlets. I went outside and milled around. My sense of smell is so bad that I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.  

Since Molly was on her way over, I asked her if she’d mind looking around the neighborhood to see if there was an impending fire. Her sense of smell is unreliable too, but she’d heard on the radio about how the shifting winds brought smoke from the fires on the Georgia/Florida border to Atlanta. Apparently, the whole city is under a blanket of smoke.

Parents in Town for a Short Stay

My parents were gracious enough to come down and stay with me for the first week. Jen had to leave for DC, so without my parents, I would’ve been on my own. 

By the end of the week, I was able to make very short trips out of the house. I’m actually fine with the crutches, but my leg has to be constantly elevated or it swells immensely. My cast must weight 6 lbs, and the weight of it also cuts off my circulation. Can’t wait to get my new cast on Thursday.

Revvy likes her new chair
Revvy commandeered my parent’s foldable chair. She’s actually still sleeping in it now.

Jeff and Louis at Dr. Bombay’s, right before he passed out.

At my dad’s friend’s house.

World’s biggest dog looking at the world’s smallest dog

Great Dane wants attention
Big Dog wants to know what’s going on…