Archive for June 2007

The First Group Ride In S’port

June 30, 2007

Not the first ever; a couple of years ago I was in town for the Tour de Goodwill, a local century. Most miserable experience I’ve ever had on a bike. Partly because my step brother and I had stayed out too late the night before the ride, but mostly because the temperature hit 100 by about nine in the morning on the day of the ride. I will never forget sitting at the last rest stop, with about twenty miles to go, a wet towel hanging over my head thinking “no way on God’s green Earth I am going to make it to the finish. And I’m never riding a bike again.” I finished, though. And of course I rode again.

Today was the first group ride of my new life in S’port, however.

Fifty three miles at just under nineteen mph; just about perfect for a Saturday morning. Fast enough and long enough to be a good workout but not so much that you’re dead by the end. I started with the fast group, and hung with them for a bit. Their pace was in the low to mid twenties. I can handle that for thirty miles or so, but that’s about it. As I did not know how far this group was going, nor, more importantly, where, I dropped off the back about eleven miles into the ride. The worst way I could imagine to spend my Saturday morning was being dropped thirty miles into a sixty mile loop, exhausted and with no clue how to get home. Hence, I dropped off the back and waited for the moderate group. It was a good move. Like I said, the ride with those folks ended up being just about perfect.

Anyway, some observations from the ride.

First, the S’port cyclists I’ve met thus far are a very friendly group. None of that snobbery for which our sport can sometimes be famous. (The haughty roadie attitude is compensation for the goofy outfits). I mean, folks actually introduced themselves to me at the ride start.

Second, I know it’s all relative and someone from Colorado would probably do the same in B’ham, but I chuckled to myself whenever anyone referred to one of the occasional bumps in the road as a “hill.”

Third, how’s this for a guilt trip: We went by my grandmother’s house, and as we zipped by, I saw the eighty something mater familias wearing a straw hat and mowing her yard. D’oh.

Fourth, you have to be a cyclist to appreciate it, but going from a chip and seal road surface to brand spanking new asphalt is simply sublime. The rough stuff rattles your teeth and every loose part on the bike, slows you down, and really chaps your a**. On the new stuff the only sound is the hum of the tires and the bike seems to jump forward with every stroke. As for your a**? Well, it only hurts less. Still, when one surface immediately changes to the other, it’s a wonderful thing.

Fifth, the ride went through Kickapoo. That’s right up there with Chunky, Mississippi on my list of favorite town names. I wonder if it’s a polite way of referring to these. Get it? Or am I just weird?

All in all a good ride. This will probably be a regular event.



June 29, 2007

I think that’s going to be the name of the new blog. I’m open to suggestions, though.

As for the content, the name says it all: Whatever interests me enough to make me want to write about it. I imagine it will be the same basic content as the Alablawg – local and national politics, sports, religion, music, books, beer and pictures – but with the addition of comments on Louisiana and Shreveport stuff as well as on my new career as a teacher.

We’ve finally got the internet, so I’ll be regularly posting again. Soon enough I’ll get a new site up and going, but until then I’ll be on this one.

Anyway, consider this the first post of the Whatever blog: A few thoughts about Chris Benoit.

First, as background for the next point, and on wrestling in general, discovering it was fake was, for me, a far more traumatizing growing up experience than the same revelation about Santa Clause. I watched all the matches; had all the toys; and practiced all the moves – Boston crab, figure four, full nelson, camel clutch, pile driver – with my buddies. Hulk Hogan was just as much my hero as Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. (We can discuss my choice of heroes in another post). Hence, when I found out the Hulkster and all the rest were frauds, I really think I went through all five stages of grief, only “acceptance” was replaced with “rejection.” Oh, and I was at most ten years old when this happened.

Which brings me to point two. Bill Simmons had this to say yesterday:

Adam (NY): So what does WWE do from here? With the macmahon death awkwardness floating over their heads I think they’re going to lose a huge portion of their audience. They have to, right?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I think this could be it – it’s going to be the dominant story of the next 2 weeks and everyone is going to bring up the death stats and all the crazy incidents that have happened, I don’t think the average person realizes what a damaging sport this has been (physically and psychologically) to the people who do it. Again, I think we’ve reached the tipping point. Sorry to be so somber, but the Benoit thing… i mean, it’s hard to explain how big he was in wrestling circles.

I’m saying no-way this hurts the WWE. I was ten when I found out it was fake, and I never watched the sport again. Why not? Because even as a ten year old I realized it was pointless. Why watch a sporting event when the outcome is predetermined? Who cares?  So, if the “sport” is too ridiculous for even a ten year old, then that means the average adult WWE fan is either 1) really, really stupid; or 2) willfully ignoring reality. Neither type of person will, I think, care about Chris Benoit. I’m not saying all the WWE fans are morons; but enough of them are that the WWE will continue.

What I’m saying is that the average WWE fan is like the average George W. Bush supporter. If by this point they have not come to their senses, they never will.

Third point. Like Simmons said, this issue is bigger than Chris Benoit. Later in the chat, someone posted a link to this site, which lists every famous pro wrestler since 1986 who has died before the age of 65. It’s a long list. 38 of them were 40 or under, including Benoit.

If that does not shock you, imagine if the list featured baseball players who had died under the age of 65, or football players, or basketball players. Or else consider the reactions to Lyle Alzado’s death, or Len Bias’s death. Even casual sports fans remember those, yet until I saw that list I had no idea that any pro-wrestler had died young. As someone said on Simmons’s chat, if any other sport had seen this many of its athletes die untimely deaths, we’d have seen Congressional hearings long ago.

Does the list mean wrestling caused the deaths? If so, should someone other than the WWE or the individual wrestlers do something about the problem? I do not know about causation. As for the remedy, I certainly do not want to call for government oversight of the WWE. And hey, these guys all chose their profession. But even if wrestling was real, or if I was one of goobs who watches it even though it’s fake, that list would definitely make me reconsider my support of the WWE.

I’m Still Here

June 22, 2007

First, I’m still here. We’re now not only in S’port, but pretty well unpacked and settled. So why is this the first post since Monday? Like I said, I hate phone companies and I hate cable companies.

We gave up on using the cable for internet access when Comcast told us we could not get service in our area. That in spite of the fact that we are in the middle of the city and THERE IS A CABLE BOX ON THE POLE OUTSIDE MY HOUSE WITH WIRES RUNNING TO THE HOUSE. Comcastic my a**. Anyway, we won’t even get cable tv until Monday, a full ten days after moving into the house and about three weeks after we first called them.

As for the phone, they were supposed to hook us up yesterday, but someone, somewhere – not us – cancelled our order. After much arguing, we managed to get the phones going, but the internet tubes won’t flow until next Thursday. Grhhh.

Time was, being without access to the interwebs might not have bugged me too much. O.K., so I have to check the box scores in the paper, no big deal. But things are different when you’re a blogging addict. The other problem is school related. To be certified to teach, I had to enroll in an 18 hour program at LSUS (like UAB, but LSU and Shreveport, and no sports teams). My classes this summer are 100% on-line. In short, I’m spending way too much time and money at the local coffee shop.

The moral to the story is that though I have lots of stuff I want to say, posts will be infrequent until late next week.

In the meanwhile, here’s some pictures from the move and of the babies.

Merton, making sure we don’t “forget” him:

Scratchy helped, too:

Allie and I in the truck:

The fleet ready to roll:

Saying goodbye to our house:

Now for the kids.

“Hey dad, are you posting about us?”

Saw this quote on father’s day:

Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express.

Lots of stereotypes in there, but . . .

Here she is modelling a more casual hat:

And with her puppy:

Her brother’s allright, too. Here’s Malcolm standing up:

And Malcolm falling over:

Malcolm and Moby, my step-sister’s basset hound puppy:

And finally, brother and sister in their Memorial Day outfits:

I Haven’t Quit Yet

June 19, 2007

We’ve moved: Packed up Thursday, drove Friday, unloaded Saturday.

A few quick points:

1) I hate phone companies. Weeks prior to the move, we started trying to get service, yet it will be Thursday before we have a phone or internets. (Hence, spare posting until then).

2) I hate cable companies. Not only do we not have service yet, but they told us it was not even available in our area. WTF? We’re in the middle of the city. My neighbor has cable. That’s not even an across the street neighbor; I could spit from my window and hit their house. Yet we can’t get service? DirecTV, anyone?

3) My neighbor is my step-sister and her partner. We grilled out at my house on Sunday, and then did the same at their house in Monday. Stuff like that is pretty much why I moved.

4) For anyone who wants a more detailed explanation of my decision to chuck my career and move to another state, it’s forthcoming. But I’ve about reached the point where I respond to questions about the move with a simple “because it’s what I felt like doing.” Trust me, there is no issue about the move that I have not already considered in fifty different ways. We decided this was best, and you know what? We’re the humans who are best equipped to make that decision.

That’s not to say that it will all work out well. We could end up miserable and forever regretting the decision. But that won’t be because we made a bad choice given all that we knew at the time of the decision. It will be because of some unpredictable change in circumstances. We did what we thought best, but you never know how things will work out.

5) Jenny and I went for a ride this morning. That’s remarkable for two reasons. One, it’s the first time we’ve been able to ride together since about eight months before the babies were born. Two, it was twenty miles with 300 feet of total elevation gain. By way of comparison, I had a ride from Crestwood over to Vestavia and back that gained 2,100 feet in twenty miles.

6) Coolest thing to hit S’port since I left it seven years ago? KCSL 91.3 FM:

Welcome to the homepage of Centenary College’s student programmed and operated radio station. We see it as our job to provide the community access to music and programming that can’t be heard anywhere else, including local music, new artists, and national artists who haven’t quite gotten their chance in the spotlight yet, all within various genres of music from Rock to Hip-Hop to World and everything in between.

I’m serious, when we were debating the move, one of the major cons to S’port was that it is a complete musical wasteland. Other than Reg – and that’s only four hours a week – B’ham radio blows (as it does in every city, thanks to Satan) but at least Birmingham will get decent live shows. You don’t even get that here. No kidding, the local rock station (i.e. Clear Channel-Rock-Shreveport; think B’ham’s 99.5) is all excited that Cheap Trick is coming to one of the casinos. Cheap Trick! At least City Stages managed to get has been stars. Here, we get never were’s. So having a local station play good music is wonderful.

7) I think I’m going to keep blogging. So, though I plan on finishing my Goodbye series, it’ll be more of a goodbye to the “Ala” and the “blawg” than to blogging in general.

Goodbye Part III, Stuff I Never Got To Do

June 11, 2007

Alabama things I always wanted to do, but never got around to doing.

See DBT. They’re in town every year right after Thanksgiving. We’re always in town, too, but I’ve never made the show. Mostly because we always have turkey day at our house, which means out of town guests with whom I want to spend time. Hence, no show.

Head up to Lake Guntersville to see the bald eagles. No excuses here, just never took the time to do it.

Eat at Dreamland. I frequently ride my bike past the one in Southside. Smells great. I always say I need to eat there. Never have, though.

Ride my bike from B’ham to Atlanta. There’s a rails to trails route from Anniston to the Atlanta burbs. The Alabama part is the Chief Ladiga Trail; the Georgia section is the Silver Comet Trail. We rode the former, and after doing that, I went home and mapped out a route from B’ham to the Ladiga trail in Jacksonville, figuring I could take back roads (some familiar) to the trail and then ride it all the way to Atlanta. I think the total distance would be in the 150-175 range, but the last 100 would be on the flat, smooth, car-free trails. My plan was to do it in two days, riding to Jacksonville on day one and Atlanta on day two. Jenny would have driven the SAG wag and also provided the ride home from Atlanta. So why didn’t I do it? It would have taken three days, and days off being precious for lawyers, I always had another use for them.

Do the Vulcan Run with the kids in the jogger. They were too small last year and we’re moving before this year’s race.

Go to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Rent one of those cabins on Cheaha. I’ve backpacked up there many times, but I always thought it would be fun to spend a weekend taking it easy on top of the mountain. It would be couch potato camping, but hey, everyone’s entitled to be a slacker sometimes.

Ride the Cheaha Challenge. Each of the last two years it’s been the day after the 3-state 3- mountain challenge. There are some folks who can do 100 miles with 10k feet of climbing one day and then 100 miles with 7.5k feet of climbing the next. I’m not one of them.

We always meant to “tour” the Catholic Churches in the B’ham area, taking one Sunday a month to go to a different one. Never did. In fact, other than St. Paul’s we’ve only gone to two: St. Francis Xavier in Mt. Brook (everything bad about contemporary services and architecture) and St. Stephen’s in Southside (everything good about contemporary services and architecture).

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now.


June 7, 2007

Got back from S’port last night. Here’s some pics of our new town.

Here’s the house we’ll be renting for the next six months or so. Small? Yes. But we’ll only be there a little while. And the location is excellent, being not only in a great neighborhood but also next door to my step-sister; i.e. right next door to free baby sitting.

The Cathedral of St. John Birchmans, where we’ll go to church, by foot if we want, as it’s a sidewalked mile from the house.

This is St. Joseph Catholic Church. We’re going to buy a house in the neighborhood where this church is located, so eventually it will be where we attend mass. They’re doing some serious renovations, which is good, it needed it. We went once prior to the project, and while the exterior looked promising, the inside was just aweful: Sheetrock and a dropped tile ceiling. Hopefully the remodel will result in something more inspiring.

S’port’s version of the Alabama Theatre, the Strand.

Jenny’s from Tupelo, so it’s only fitting that we live near where the King got his start, S’port’s Municipal Auditorium, home of the Louisiana Hayride:

On the riverfront pavilion, looking towards the Texas Street bridge and the casinos:

Further down the river, on the Stoner Avenue MTB trails:

B’ham’s got the Boobie Trap, but S’port’s got . . .

This is Cross lake, which borders the city. I’m not big on watersports. Fishing is fun, though, and I’ve got a nice 35 mile bike ride that goes around the lake. So having such a huge lake five minutes from the house is pretty nice:

Another shot.

And another.

Don’t fret, I’m still going to put up more kid pics and also announce the contest winner soon.