Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Autocorrect says "donut" is wrong but is fine with "donuts". Okay, how does it feel about doughnuts. . .oh, it's fine with it. Fuck it, I'm sticking with donut.

One of the few perks of my job is going to other offices and stealing their coffee and eating their donuts or cookies or whatnot for the small price of idle banter. This morning I used the phrase "I'll just take a donut for the road" (which is a very lame, banter-y thing to say and I felt a little embarrassed about how naturally it came from my mouth words) and unwittingly called up one of my pleasant childhood memories: the road donut.

I spent summers almost exactly like I spent the rest of the year when I was little because I was "home-schooled". In the summertime, however, Saturday mornings were often spent going yard-saling with Grandma Kooy and the cousins.

Driving back to Kooy's Irrigation, Grandma pulled over because she saw something lying on the shoulder of the highway that looked edible. I just want to pause for a second to allow everyone to ponder that last sentence while I point out that this actually happened and that not only was this not weird when we were kids, I still only think of this as weird when viewing it from a non-Kooy perspective. I was the nearest child to an accessible door so I was sent out to run back down the highway to find out what it was. Non-Kooy perspectives are weird because I am suddenly questioning the sanity and safety of my childhood as six kids under ten in a pickup with two seat belts doesn't seem too safe, not to mention having a five year old run down the side of a highway to pick up discarded donut for a snack. . . aw dammit, now I'm starting to think that eating things found on the side of freeways sounds like a bad idea too (especially when stated so direct like that). Damn you common sense, you are no longer allowed near my childhood.

Anyway, what I found was a giant donut. In my memory it is much larger than my head, maybe the size of my torso. It was mostly encased in saran wrap, sitting on a Styrofoam tray similar to the ones that I only ever see holding meat these days. The tear in its covering caused a couple of inches of donut to be soiled with road debris but Grandma cut that part out. And, since it was open to the elements it was a little stale, but Grandma had a solution to this as well: ten seconds in the microwave.

Grandma was able to cut the road donut up into enough pieces so that all of the cousins and all of the uncles who were working at the shop that day could partake in our fortuitous discovery. One of the older girls thought it was gross so I got two pieces. That was a good day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not all titles make sense, but the one referring to Radiohead and bicycles totally did, I just never got around to that part.

There were a couple of things I neglected to do to prepare myself for my second century: eat right during the race, wear sunblock, and train properly in the three weeks before the race. I wouldn't call this a recipe for success. In fact, I would call it the opposite of that. . .what was the word for that again? Oh yeah, it's called "Andrew's half-assed long distance bike ride training regimen". I'm going to start selling DVDs this summer!

The course for the Chico Wildflower was designed by an asshole. There is over 4,000 feet of altitude gain on the course, which wouldn't be too horrible except this elevation is exclusively located in the climbing of two mountains. The first mountain comes before mile thirty and is the longer of the two climbs. It is a seemingly infinite series of switchbacks which turned my legs into a lactic acid factory. As I neared each blind turn I pleaded that the summit would be revealed, but I think that I started hoping that in the middle of the climb so I had a lot of disappointment ahead of me. I guess whoever designed this course isn't too bad because they could have put this climb at mile ninety.

The second mountain is situated around mile fifty which occurred, for me, around one in the afternoon on the first quite warm day of the year. On paper, the second climb is easier as it is about three hundred feet less of elevation but in reality it is far worse because I had already climbed a mountain and though this one was shorter, it was still a nearly half mile of vertical gain within a three mile span of road. I nearly passed out, so I walked the last 1/4 mile up the mountain. I felt quite sick at the top of Table Mountain but pushed on thinking/hoping it would pass.

When I got to the mile 65 lunch stop I had reached a special level of exhaustion. It reminded me of the upsetting senselessness of being tired as a small child. My body was extremely sore and I was so fatigued that I felt like crying. I remember thinking that I felt like a 3 year old who had just gotten kicked down a flight of stairs at 3 a.m. The sound that came out of me as that thought went through my brain was a depressing chuckle-sob which inspired me to turn up my mp3 player as I forced down my sandwich.

The rest of the ride was fairly bland. There were no huge climbs and there was also absolutely no shade. Before I get to the eventual failure, however, I must go back to the mountains.

Downhills are pretty crazy for a fat guy. I have always biked alone so when I take on a sweet downhill on which I will meet or exceed the speed limit, I generally just take over the lane. I love it when drivers get pissed because you are on a bike, in their lane, going their speed. They usually want to pass me or attempt to make it look like I am inconveniencing them in some way. By the time I get to the bottom of the hill, however, they are 300 yards back and generally continue to give me a fair amount of space. Do they think I'm crazy for going so fast or have they just realized the size of a dent my extra large helmet would put in their car? When there are bikes as well as traffic, the descent becomes a bit trickier.

After the first mountain, I was excited for a long downhill run. After the second mountain, I hit every down-slope by saying "Fuck this pedaling shit. You owe me this one, gravity." I let my speed get a little out of hand on the first hill, however. I can feel fairly comfortable in the low 40s, but that is when I am the only biker on the road. About three quarters of the way down the hill I was flying by other riders and swerving into the turn lanes hoping to miss the cars driving up the hill as well. Luckily, my odometer stores my fastest time. I was going 48.9 miles an hour. I'd like to try for 50 at some point in time, but not any time soon.

I felt steadily sicker as I rode, and at mile 75 I started experiencing very painful back spasms. I now think that this was probably not a muscle issue as I drank my camelback dry twice (it holds 100 oz) and about 100 oz more of sports drinks at the various stops as well as another 150 oz of water at dinner afterwords and I didn't pee once all day until 7 at night. I'm thinking that back pain might have been my kidneys screaming for help. After dinner, I got the special opportunity to experience the literal reality of a cliched phrase as insult was added to injury and I was completely debilitated for an hour and a half writhing in horrible pain with the hiccups.

Since the ride looped back on itself, I could have cut off the last ten to fifteen miles and go straight to the finish. But, despite feeling ill and being in pain, I had to keep trying to do the full 100. I didn't allow myself to stop and rest in a spot of shade for a moment until mile 93. I figured this was safe because I ride seven miles every day to and from work. I stood straddling my bike with my head resting on the handlebars. After a couple of minutes I realized that I would not be moving from this spot and at that moment one of the ride volunteers drove up and offered to give me a ride back to the finish line.

Just about everybody had already finished as evidenced by the two remaining cars in the parking lot. I thanked him for the ride as I dropped my bike in the grass and called Jen to come pick me up. As I lay on the grass in the shade of some rose bushes, I remembered that I had put my headphones in my pocket without turning off my mp3 player when I hopped into the car. I slipped them back into my ears and heard:

"You do it to yourself, you do
and that's what really hurts
You do it to yourself, just you
you and no-one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself"

Luckily I had turned the music up, because I'm pretty sure the laugh/sob/whimper of pain probably sounded pretty depressing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Purple?!? No, I would call this shirt lavendar.

As I walked into Winco yesterday I had a thought that I thought was quite funny but was erased from my brain because the following happened:

Immediately after having my interesting thought, I noticed a truck driving towards me and the guy driving and his passanger were looking at me with cartoonish sneers. As he passed me, the woman sitting next to him shouted “I hate your stupid fucking face, asshole.” I assumed she was shouting at me.
I watched a crow fight off a flock of pigeons and fly off with a whole piece of pizza.
I saw a woman with an ICP tattoo in Winco and was a little bit shocked to see a possible juggette in Redding but then I remembered that I’m in Redding and this kind of seems like ideal juggallo country.

I think I just remembered my amusing thought and it was “I think the greatest hurdle for a chubby guy wearing purple is to not look like Grimace.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sad-sack sorry gamblers and their drunken ramblings.

I played black jack for a couple of hours last night. I didn't win but when I average this trip with the other time I've gone this year, I still come out a few hundred dollars ahead. Aside from not winning money, this excursion was not all that interesting. The casino was strangely free of weirdos. Last time I went there was a guy who kept demanding high fives and a drunk lady who decided that I was the one who should be told how her friend just puked all over the inside of her car but that it was okay because she had one of those new cars that could be hosed out if it got dirty, though she was concerned that her hair still smelled of vomit.

When I got home early this morning I remembered that I had written something down about my first trip and found a piece of paper with "sad-sack sorry gamblers and their drunken ramblings" written on it, and I remembered how much I love words. One of the things I find most personally rewarding about writing is a perfect sentence, a fantastic turn of phrase, or a beautiful pairing of words. I have written papers around single instances of words I really enjoyed. I doubt this is a very good writing technique, but I'm not going to change because I see no reason to stop loving the lyric beauty of a thoughtfully crafted phrase.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I can understand why somebody would turn off half the lights in the bathroom and sit in the darkened stall the day after Cinco de Mayo, but this has been going on for a very long time.

I appreciate a clean and comfortable bathroom at work. I like having the option of going to a place where I don't have to do any work and I can sit around without pants on irregardless of my intestinal directives.

In my previous job there was a point where I considered the bathroom to be the only safe haven from the all women, post-menopausal work environment. This was taken away when one of my bosses started using the men's restroom for her foul death shits. I never found out which one was destroying the last thing I enjoyed at work but I suspected all three of my bosses thought they were very clever in hiding their digestive problems from other ladies in the office. Either that or a single culprit had a very interesting diet as the tone of the air quality shifted from horror to horror throughout the day.

My current workplace commode is quite nice. In fact, when I was a student here I would relieve myself in this same bathroom, if given the choice, as it is generally cleaner and better air conditioned than many others on campus. As this restroom has become the sole fecal repository I frequent, I have observed the habits of some of my coworkers and what started out as an odd mystery probably should have remained a mystery but I figured it all out nonetheless.

About half the time I enter this bathroom, the light is off. This does not cast the entire bathroom into darkness but leaves no light in the entrance and leaves the handicapped stall quite unlit. I usually accepted this as a power saving effort by somebody on staff until one day as I was sitting on the toilet the lights were extinguished by an incoming waste management patron. With the lights off, the unknown man slipped into the far and newly darkened stall and I left the bathroom (after I washed my hands of course). This started happening on a regular basis. Sometimes I would be in one of the stalls when the lights went out and other times I would walk into the bathroom and the lights would already be out and somebody would already be in the stall. This became an odd mystery because I could never quite catch sight of whoever was doing this but I started referring to him as the Midnight Pooper. I would write 80's hair metal ballads about the Midnight Pooper, fraught with shredding guitar solos and would always turn the light back on when I left because that's kind of weird.

After a couple of months I realized that many times when the Midnight Pooper is doing his business, you can hear the clicking of cell phone buttons. Texting? Surfing the Internet? Who can really tell? I know I'm not going to ask them because there are too many awkward possibilities and I would rather continue my crusade for well-lit toilets with my current motivation.

This isn't the end of the mystery, however. One day as I washed my hands I was plunged into semi-darkness as the head of the counseling services walks in and enters the darkest stall. This was when I realized there are multiple Midnight Poopers and began to wonder what the reasoning was behind obscured defecation that was not due to an attachment to technology. My current theory is that the counselor has phobia about seeing his own feces. Maybe his dad was a plumber and died in a horrible septic tank accident and was raised by his puritanical mom who refused to be in the same room to potty train him and would shout through the door "You better clean up all your filth you dirty little sinner." And at some point he asked her what poop was and she shouted at him "It's your dirty sin you beast." and then she locked him in the pantry for three days and beat him severely for soiling his trousers.

It's a theory. No matter the reason, I hope I freak every Midnight Pooper out each time I turn the light on and disrupt whatever it was he was doing.