Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When did WE become THEM?

From an email I recently sent to a friend.

 I love doing character studies at the airport. You can really tell alot about a person in the three seconds it takes them to walk by. You can also learn that if you can't find the normal person in the room then it's because everyone else is normal and you are the weird one. I have been feeling this way alot lately. I suppose this is something all aging generations deal with. The change in fashion, attitude, music. I remember my parents having a passionate dislike for the rap music of the late 80's and early 90's. I tried to explain to them how it is music and it's social importance. Their reply was simple, "it just sounds like noise to me". I could provide little defense and almost less for the music of bands like metallica. Form the "noise' comments to the "you can't understand what they are saying" it just seemed that my parents would never get it. Sunday night I watched the grammys with the parents. They were indifferent towards most of the bands, but I was the major wrecker of the evening. I trashed just about every band that performed and most of the songs and artists who were up for awards. The only exception being the black keys. Even the tribute to Bob Marley, one of my favorite artists of all time, sucked in spite of collaboration with Sting. This tribute began with a song i have never heard before, that I can only assume is a Bruno mars tune and was finished with a bunch of artists I have never heard of butchering one of Bobs beloved tunes.
To sum up my major issue with the evening, all the new songs and artists sound the same and look the same. Maybe I am the modern day Danny Glover: too old for this shit.

I know alot of people who like this new music and like these artists. For the most part they are all high school or college age. I suppose that's to be expected, it's a youngsters game. Each generation has their moment in the sun. We had ours, and now they are having theirs. Maybe there is a bright side, all of the bands I grew up with are out on the casino circuit, todays generation isn't old enough to get in the casino, so in that world we are still the hipsters.
As I pulled my bag down from the overhead bin to make my way off the plane I had time for one final character study. Young male, 6 foot tall, hair shaved clipper short around the sides and back, modern day pompador sculpted in the finest of todays hair products, (way too)skinny jeans, brown leather shoes, Black Horn rimmed ray-bans, full tattoo sleeve left, half sleeve right, and a v-neck t-shirt. His cell phone rang. Ringtone.... Queen, "Bicycle Race". My faith in the future was temporarily restored and a new question enetered my head; would we all be better off if we just went on a big bike ride together?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Like a kid on a bike

If you have spent any time around me or reading this blog then you already know I like being outside. That often makes my life a little frustrating. As a teacher I spend most of the daylight hours inside. Unlike those hip college professors, I do not find it a good idea to take 9th graders outside for class. So, I sit in my classroom wishing I could be outside enjoying the day. Because I get to school before the Sun comes up, spend a full day inside these walls, it is raining when I get home and it gets dark way too soon this time of year, I tend to get a bit crabby. My good friend Shawn and I email each other several times a week, and sometimes several times a day when the kids are taking a test(the most boring days for teachers are test days. 8 hours of staring blanlky at kids filling in bubbles). He shared a story with me that he too was feeling the crabbying effects of being cooped up at work and at home and one thing the helps to improve his mood is some quality time on his bike. This time of year he is spending alot of time on his bike trainer(the contraption you put your bike on so you can ride inside) and how no matter how crabby he is when he begins there seems to be a "regenerative power" that comes from time spent in the saddle. The following is my email reply to him on the topic of the joy of cycling.


So, it seems your email got to me. I usually fall asleep seconds after my head hits the pillow. Last night Kelley was in for a rare treat(hubba hubba) as I would on at length about your email and how it reminded me of how much I have always loved riding a bike. How, as a kid I was always the 1st one to hit the neighborhood streets looking for other lads to play with. Often, no one else was up and about, blinds were still closed and the neighborhood was still and calm. Some of those days i rode back home to watch saturday morning cartoons, but, most of those days I just rode. I rode up and down the streets of the neighborhood, up to the high school, up to the highway, through the trails in the woods, I just rode....as far as my youthful and tireless legs would pedal me and imagination would inspire me. Some days I was Cru Jones, some I was Greg LeMond, other days I was "Chip's" or Evel Kneivel. The possibilites were endless as my bike provided me the freedom and means to go as far as the borders of the lake, bayou, and highway would allow. The world seemed open and enornous, yet everything felt within reach. My world at that time wasn't that big. South Slidell is only a few square miles, but it was the whole world to me, and on my that old Schwinn I knew every corner of the map.


1985 Schwinn Predator EX-FreeFrom
Best Christmas present I ever got!!!
I still have it,but not in as great of condition as the one pictured.


I still feel the same. I love getting up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and pedalling through Baton Rouge, finding new routes through town, passing by the Kress building on 3rd street and wondering what the lunch counter sit-ins were like there in the early 60's, riding through LSU's campus and smelling all the wonderful tailgate foods on the grill and in the pot. Getting on top the levee and imagining what it would be like to ride the Mississippi from Minnestoa to the Gulf of Mexico and considering the history that that river has seen. Riding to a place called Alligator Bayou, where there are actual alligators in the bayou. I love taking my bike up to St. Francisville to put in a few miles on the "hills" of the Feliciana parishes. Riding with new groups and meeting new people, from the saddle of my trusty steed my explorations and adventures continue.

I love cycling so much that there is a new plan in the works for the week of memorial day when Shawn and I will be making a 450 mile 5 day trip from Baton Rouge east  to Mobile, then north to Hattiesburg and west to McComb, MS before completing the loop back to Baton Rouge. To be successful on this trip there will have to be a lot of training. We wil be averaging about 90 miles a day. luckily for me I love riding my bike. If you live along or near the rout and want to join us for a few miles and share in the advevture we would love the see you. I'll share more details at the trip gets closer.  

Till then... pedal on, friends!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If I were an LSU fan, or, Hello Freddy Krueger, Nice Hat!

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am Not an LSU fan. I often refer to the school as "State", the way Mississippi State or Michigan State fans and alums refer to their beloved school. No one else in the world refers to LSU as "State". I think deep down inside I do it because it has a connotation that they are second rate, much the same as Michigan State is 2nd fiddle in their state to the University of Michigan, etc.

I tend to refer to LSU's colors as purple and yellow. LSU fans swear that their colors are purple and gold. As I see it, the Saints and Notre Dame wear gold, tweety bird is yellow. LSU wears purple and yellow. LSU, once upon a time, did wear gold. But that was years ago, now they wear yellow.

With all of that said, you might begin to believe that I don't like LSU.
Note: It should be mentioned that their is a big difference between dislike and apathetic.
I will save my commentary on how my feelings towards LSU developed for another time. Today, however, I will share with you my thoughts on if I were an LSU fan.

I would not be a Les Miles fan.

Yesterday, one of my LSU fan family members dragged me into a discussion via facebook about the number of LSU players that will be playing in the Superbowl next week. There will be 4. This led me to search the grandeur of the interweb in search of statistics on what other schools had players in the Superbowl. In the process I stumbled into a yellow mine(sorry, I meant gold  mine). ESPN's website has lists broken down that show the players from each university that are currently on NFL rosters. Congratulations LSU, you had 41. From my calculations you had the most, though I didn't count every single school. If not the most they were certainly top three, but I digress....

As I scrolled through the names of Tigers in "The League", I began to think(scary, I know). Les has Been the Head Football Coach at LSU for 7 years. He boasts a 75-17 record, is 5-1 in Bowl Games, has led his team into 2 BCS title games and has won one of those(2007)  My thoughts led me through this line of thoughts.
1. Wow, 41 is a lot of players from one school, good for LSU.
2. Man, with that many NFL caliber players it's no wonder LSU is doing so well these days.
3. Ha, I remember the 80's when LSU wasn't that good. Remember the phrase, "we might have lost the game be we won the party"?
4. I wonder how LSU went from mediocre to one of the top programs.
5. I bet it was recruiting good players and providing them with good coaching.
6. Interesting, from what I know about their coaches in the 2000's they have reputations as very good, detail oriented coaches and Excellent recruiters.
7. Wow, with all that talent and 10+ years of great recruiting they have won two BCS titles.
8. But the second title was won mostly with players recruited by the coach previous to Les Miles.
9. Well, that doesn't matter, it was his 3rd year so it was his system.
10. After that title they stayed good, true, but seemed to struggle with the same issue for about 4-5 years, offensive issues especially at quarterback.
11.Finally, why have they had these continuing problems for so many years in a row?

And that's when it hit me. LSU recruits great talent. Yeah, I said it, great talent. So much talent in fact that no other school puts more players into the NFL than the boys from the "Ole War Skule"(an LSU nickname). But, with all that talent, they struggle to remain at the top. So, i pondered that thought. I came up with 2 theories.

An Aside- I never dreamed I would write so long on the topic of LSU.

Theory #1
Les Miles Recruits talent, then tries to figure out how to build his system around that talent.

There is some sense in that logic. Get the best players you can get, figure out what they can do, then do that. You should be pretty successful with this plan if you are getting in good players. HOWEVER, I see a problem. If you are constantly building around what your players can do, and there is a constant stream of players coming in and going out, then you never have consistency. You could infer(as I am) that because of your lack of consistency you will never maximize your ability to do anything. You can get really good at it. But, you won't become great at it because as players move in and out you will shift what you do and start trying to get good at a new system that you believe fits "this years" team better. Well, that is good for the new guys, but think about what it does to your returners. They have the potential to improve from week to week and year to year to the point where they can master something. Then their legs are cut out from under them and that have to start anew with the way the will do things "this year".

In short, they only  become consistent at being inconsistent, which never leads to mastery of anything.

Theory #2-somewhat inspired by something I heard on "After further review" a local sports talk radio show on 104.5, an ESPN affiliate in Baton Rouge, LA. 
"The Quarterback Problem". This is actually a splinter from theory #1.
One of the things that the previous theory got me to thinking about was the way Les Miles handles and recruits quarterbacks. If you look back into his tenure, Les has brought in several "pocket passers" and several "option" style quarterbacks. This seems to strengthen the argument from theory #1. He is not recruiting the people that are best for his system, he is recruiting the best players, in general, that he can find. What this tells us, or me at least, is that Les Miles has NO system. I don't see how you can EFFECTIVELY prepare a team to perform under 2 systems at one time. True, Urban Myer won a BCS title rotating in Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, but that was not a 2 system offense. It was Leaks offense, Tebow was just a goal line exclamation point.

My point here is this: Les Miles needs to figure out what his system is, stick with that system, build with that system in mind, recruit with that system in mind. That way, should your starting quarterback find himself suspended from the team due to his role in a bar fight, whatever it was that Ryan Perriloux did, or injured, your number 2 quarterback can step right in and you will maintain the continuity and direction that you have worked to establish over the given length of time and you will avoid that dilemma of having to switch your entire strategy and related personnel to fit with the abilities of the 2nd quarteback. For example, a few years back, Drew Bledsoe played for the Patriots, he got hurt and I guy by the name of Tom Brady stepped right in and the team didn't miss a beat. 3 Superbowl rings later......I think you see where I am going with this.

And so, for the afore mentioned reasons, and mainly because I don't see Les Miles changing the way he does things, I, if i were somehow possessed by a demon and sent through the looking glass to cheer for le Tigres in some fantastic wonderland , would don the purple and tweety, but would would have one thing to say about the "Mad Hatter".....


............"OFF WITH HIS HEAD".



***Note: It was hard, but this post was written with the intentional exclusion of the name of the LSU coach that preceded Les Miles and the school that currently employs him.

***Rationale: 1. to present an unbiased post to the reader by not agitating any LSU fans by just the mere sight of the intentionally unmentioned words. 2. to subject myself to the thought that perhaps like some twisted version of Star Wars, that a small piece of the dark side does reside in me and what it would be like if I did turn to the evil empire.

********Now I must go purge and purify myself be replaying and reliving the events of January 9th, 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In considering the future.......

I would like to thank the two or three of you who stop by from time to time for stopping by from time to time. You have probably noticed that there haven't been any posts in a while. It's not for lack of stuff to talk about, there has been plenty. It's for lack of motivation to write about it that has kept you in the dark. As I  look forward to the dawning of a new year I am not sure that I will continue blogging. I can't say I won't, but I can't say I will. Either way, I will let you know for sure in a few days. Until then, I hope you all(both of you) had a great holiday and hope you have a prosperous and joyus 2012.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Head for the hills....

......unless you live in south Louisiana. You see, we ain't got no hills. This has its benefits, but at times like these it also has some drawbacks.

Drawback #1- The Mississippi River is a very large river. From time to time it likes to explore the area outside of its banks. I assume it's a tribute(ary) to Lewis and Clark or Hernando DeSoto. Either way, it likes to leave its mark on things. That mark being lots and lots of water. As i am sure that we have all heard about the river, levees, spillways and communities being flooded ,I will skip ahead..

...skipping.......

...skipping.....

...so for those of you living near the areas being flooded, beware of snakes, alligators, bears, and wild boar that are being diplaced. And for swamp people who are also easily startled and just as dangerous.

Drawback #2-  I am supposed to be doing some cycling in a mountainous part of Virginia in July and there is nowhere to train for this down here. Sure there are some places about 45 minutes away that have "rolling hills", but these are what the British announcer that calls the Tour de France refers to as "tickles" as they are certainly not real "hills'.

I am trying to find ways to simulate hills but my options are limited. There are certainly no natural features and I really dislike riding on a trainer. A few months ago I found a perfect 10 story parking garage to climb but you never know when the security guard is gonna be there to kick you out, and I try not to be a trouble maker.

So, if you have any ideas or suggestions for a flatlander like me, feel free to share.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sadie de Mayo- year 5

Happy Adoption day to my beautiful sweet angel of a puppy dog, Sadie!!! 5 years ago today I brought her home. She has grown 70 lbs since then. From her pink nose, to the floppy ears, to the white tip on her tails she is the seetest and most beautiful dog i've ever seen.


She is my best friend. That's right my best friend is a dog, and i'm OK with that.
Thanks to Beatrice(Sadie), these have been the best 5 years of my life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NOLA 70.3

2 weeks ago I participated in the Ochsner New Orleans Ironman 70.3. I was really excited to compete in this event, my first attempt at this distance. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run. I was super excited that it was to take place in New Orleans, one of my hometowns. Even better, a lot of it went through New Orleans East(aka: the old neighborhood). I felt like I had a homefield advantage and that all my family gone before me would be there to guide me by spirit. I knew i would not be defeated that day.

Saturday i picked up my race packet and checked in my bike. My bike was definitely on the low end of the financial spectrum in the field. Even so, I felt pretty uncomfortable leaving Betty White(yes, that's the name of my bike. also sometimes called the prancing unicorn or ragin bull). Luckily, she was there waitning for me when I arrived Sunday morning.

As I was walking into the transition setup area I heard rumblings in the crowd that the swim was being cancelled due to bad conditions on Lake Pontchartrain. These rumors were confirmed by the voice on the loud speaker. My heart immediately sank(or is it sunk?). I felt defeated before I even started. I thought about it for a while and decided to change my outlook. It's better to choose on the side of safety than have a competitor or safety patrol volunteer be injured, or worse....

All i could do was compete in the race set before me, and thats what I did. My plan was to average a little over 16 mph on the bike ride. I averaged 18.1 and finished in 3 hours and 5 minutes. Thats about 25-30 minutes faster than I had planned. The ride was tough though. The first half of the ride was almost directly into the wind. As the route was along or near the lake there was very little to break the breeze. I kept telling myself just to keep pedalling and get to the turn around. It was like riding in a wind tunnel. But, I survived and reached the turnaround. I jetted back to the transition area and was super excited when i realized what my time was.

I got throught transition pretty quick and got out on the run. I felt like the run would be my weakest area. I trained pretty hard for the swim and bike, but knew I could have trained harder for the run. I passed a lot of people on the bike and i quickly began to see some of those people pass me on the run. It didn't hurt my pride. I was happy for those people. But, I had a plan and iIwas going to stick to it: find a comfortable pace and keep rollin'.

I found my groove and just kept going, running the entire 13.1, except for a couple powerade stops that I walked through because I feared I would spill orange powerade on my new shoes(that makes more sense if you know the love affair I have with my running shoes). I never doubted that I would finish and did finish the run in 2hrs 55mins., about 10 mins faster than i anticipated.
All together I finished in 6hrs and 5 minutes.
The time in the picture is off because I started an hiur after the pros.

I was very pleased with the way it turned out. But, as much as I want to say I completed a 70.3(miles) the fact is I only did 69.1. I couldn't bring my self to buy a shirt or even a sticker for my car. Don't worry, I'll get that badge of honor next year, and I'll get it even faster. My preparation has already begun.

Team Pegasus 2011 was formed as Mom and Tom came out for support me in this endeavor, as did Kelley and her Dad who drove down from Ohio. There were also lots of early morning texts from my Dad offering encouragement. Thanks to you all.

Special Thanks to:
Kelley-  For being the most supportive and encouraging GF ever, and for being an excellent nutritionist.
Mom and Tom- for your tireless support of my crazy ideas and for your knowledge of the NOLA back streets.
The Commander, Kelley's Dad- for letting me ride my bike in your garage during the Christmas holidays, and for driving 16 hours just to see me(because I know it had nothing to do with your grandsons 1st birthday)
Steve, My Brother- for being encouraging in my training and always making me feel like I am Awesome.
Steven,  "The Freight Train" -my excellent cycling partner. Thanks for pushing me on our training rides and for doing all the talking on our runs.
Heidi, "Wildcat Safety Coordinator"- for amusing me on those long bike rides and making sure we had safe routes to ride on.
Dad- for being there at my race last may and for your early morning race day texts, a good boost of confidence.
Sadie& Lily- Great running partners, and Brady too.
Bent Rim Bicycle Club- Roll Tide!!!
and finally...

Emile Zatopek, "The Human Locomotive"(also known as the man in the little picture frame)1952, Helsinki, 3 gold medals. Unstoppable!!!