Biker Gang


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“Sometimes it is good to a part of something bigger than you, it’s good for the soul.” That popped into my brain as i dove into the growing Slow Roll movement for a cruise through Buffalo‘s Elmwood Village and West Side. The Slow Roll has been a weekly growing event all summer long, but it was my first chance to partake. When you just like a nice cruise, but lycra purchases are bad notions this is ideal.

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This proved to be the biggest turn out for the slow roll yet, with nearly 1400 riders wheeling through the streets.

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If you are a serious rider, you should probably stay home. I think the top speed according to my map my ride app was about 8 miles per hour. You are getting some exercise, but the Tour De France doesn’t need to hold a space. It is an awesome spirit jaunt. You connect with some folks whose sole agenda is to take a good night for ride and go for one. It’s a trip to see the amount of people on steps and porches watching the spectacle (and it is that) go rolling past.

imageI’m not going to lie. I enjoyed having a police escort. Between the generosity of the Buffalo Police and the thorough organizing done by the Slow Roll volunteers (the “Squad”), it’s tough not to ride with increasingly silly grin as you wind through the streets and the only real thing to watch out is other riders. Everybody does a good job of giving each other space to minimalize chances of spills. A few have happened, but the general cluster of folks I was a part of did a good job of looking out for one another and unlike so many other public forums these days, realized that there were other folks in those spaces.

imageSo, it was all good for me. In the intervening couple of days, there was the seemingly inevitable bitching on facebook about the size of the group versus some smaller streets. One writer mused “I couldn’t get out of my street if I needed to.” It read to me like she was panicking over a problem that didn’t exist. There was an urgency earlier in the ride and Slow Roll Organizers moved swiftly to accomodate whatever the issue that might have been. I was a little further in the back so I didn’t see the details.

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I will be off to the next run on Monday evening. I think this time, I’ll drive to the take off spot and get the bike out of the car. As the trouble with biking to a biking event, you still have to ride home.image

Schlockin’ the Vote


My dad has been the perpetuator of a number of great cons. I’ve tried to imitate a few in my own parenting career. One of the old man’s best schemes was the library trick. My folks correctly put a premium on reading and a weekend trip to the town library was a regular feature of my grade school life. Occasionally, we’d make a trip to the main library downtown. Saps that we were, my siblings and I ate it up. The result being that we grew up informed.

This came to mind watching the coverage of the stupidly early Presidential election. It is that right of passage where many things get said, but nothing gets talked about that has any ramifications for that often mentioned entity “the American people.”

I openly mocked the debate a few weeks ago and a friend pointed out that the show was “better than the state of the union the past six years.” He was probably right as those speeches don’t add up to anything typically no matter who was delivering the addresses.

And the same is holding true for now. The coverage shows that many of the republicans are upset with Hillary Clinton and the current president (who they are not running against). I think folks are gravitating toward Bernie Sanders as he is actually talking about the, get this, things he would do if he got the job of President. I like that. That’s a healthy trend, hopefully it spawns an imitator. It is something to respect the candidacy of Mr. Trump. While I don’t agree with what he stands for, he picked out some opinions and is hanging on them.  If I wanted to stand out as a candidate on the overcrowded republican side, perhaps that would be a good thing do, say why votes should come to my campaign. I mean when seven guys get relegated to debate happy hour, perhaps you should say something other than “I want to make America great again.”

I mean, what does that even mean?

It’s a great rant, and we could stand to know more. We could stand to know that the President shouldn’t get the blame for high gas prices or the credit for low ones, that it is more complicated that. We should know that Benghazi wasn’t the first time an embassy was a battle site. Every adminstration has had people who shouldn’t be in it.

Another favorite program of mine pointed out that “people get stupid during election seasons.” Another character correctly pointed out that wasn’t the case that “people get talked to like they are stupid.”

We shouldn’t be stupid. It’s a complex world and shouldn’t be boiled down to intolerant facebook status updates.

When it comes time to actually vote, which a long time away still, please do

Still six months till primaries start.

Windshields are HD


So, I’m driving on Buffalo’s Highway 198 (the Scajacquada) at the new mandated 30 mph the other day and was passed by somebody who couldn’t contain his exasperation over the decreased speed and how crazy it was that I wasn’t moving faster. This, despite all the signs, and lights, bells and whistles about going 30. A few days later, coming up Ashland Ave, I spy a guy trying to parallel park a Honda in a cavernous space. Despite all the breathing room, he has a tough go as he chose only to look in his drivers side rear view mirror (no woman driver jokes are permitted to come from that dude). This, after I stupidly thought I had space making the previous turn only to pull out in front of a car that I didn’t see. No harm, just earned that motorist’s ire, deservedly

It’s a wind shield, not a tv.

That popped into my mind as the coverage over the terrible accident between a car that went off the highway and into Delaware Park, striking a family, killing one, as I write this. In watching the news coverage and watching the posts click onto facebook about changed that are perceived to be made, it does make you wonder. While barricades and lowered speed limits and well, taking steps are all good things, we haven’t cured anything truthfully.

We don’t look out for each other on the roadways. I mean, in simple ways, we overlook the little things that might make life easier. I live on a busy intersection, where there are numerous accidents each year. One last summer was caused by a driver who was going to fast and..wait for it, looked at her phone.

While the roads in the Delaware Park accident is deeply flawed, the calls for “returning it to parkway concept” ring a little hollow to me as a car careening at 40 miles per hour isn’t much safer, not that I’m clearer on what a parkway concept is anyway. Politicizing the death of a child in a horrible accident is already underway and unfortunate. The speed limit could have been 30 that day and not much would have been changed. The barricades are great, but we are missing the point in that you can’t legislate dumb.

Things do need to be safer, but we need to do better at looking out for one another. I’m as guilty as the next person to a little obliviousness and cacooned while in my car. I look at the way we all make left turns now and had I done that while taking driver’s ed in high school, I would have become very familiar with the sensation of my own cheek hitting the windshield as the driving instructor would have no problem slamming on her brakes.

Think about how we all treat somebody who attempting to parallel park. You are supposed to chill and wait, but pretty much everybody goes around….sometime into oncoming traffic as we are all in that imagined, yet false rush. I was riding in a car today and you could see folks in the left turn lane (provided they took the trouble to get their cars entirely into the left lane) and the bulk of those good folks are looking down, checking phones.

I was in taxi a few years ago and the driver was running a little amuck, traveling rapidly, too rapidly, at a brace for impact sort of speed up the FDR highway in Manhattan. Jerry Seinfeld once said of such rides, “It’s like it is happening on television, but you can’t change the channel.”

The folks wanting a slower road have a very valid point. It is a tall order to correct something that has generations of traffic going and there is much that can be done, but it wasn’t the culprit.

But we all need to be less buffoon like behind the wheel and at the handlebars. The truth is out there and so are other people.

Let’s be careful out there

Bradygate


As a long suffering fan of the Buffalo Bills, I watched the hoopla surrounding the New England Patriots unfold. I don’t have much in terms of special feelings toward the Patriots or Tom Brady, just a worldweariness of watching Brady beat the Bills at the time. It’s a sort of oh, geez feeling when you get to that part of the schedule. Folks looking for edges is nothing knew in sports. Hell, Gaylord Perry kept the Cleveland Indians interesting with his twisting of the rules in the 60s and 70s (and that wasn’t that easy).

How many defensive backs coated themselves in stick’em to annoy receivers before that was outlawed.

I think the thing that gets most of us isn’t that Tom Brady and the Patriots cheated. They did. They didn’t need to, as they are pretty good, but they dieI think the aloof, above the law arrogance and noncooperation is getting the rise out of people.

Brady and the Patriots basically kicked the Indianapolis Colts all over the playground during the AFC Championship game and they would have been them without any help, but….

It’s a game and ultimately isn’t going to matter one iota want anybody thinks. All the commentators in the word can vilify Brady, Belicheck and company and it won’t matter as they have drown out everybody by putting their superpower rings in their ears.

I’m enjoying reading all the give and take. There was cheating going, but I’m sure the Patriots aren’t the only ones looking for edges, they were just dumb enough to get caught.

But we’ll let Brady have the last word.

 

Wanderin’


I think we can venture out once more without the snow brushes in close reach. Without having to brace oneself over the throwback winter, it is easy to for a walk outside.You can again pay too much for a hot dog without climbing over snow piles.

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The Ice Boom is gone and so is the ice.image

imagewhich means the Hatch might be ready for business (okay, it’s open, but parts of the New York State Thruway were rebuilt in less time.

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I have never been a fan of the Transformers but this condo tower in the picture above looks like it is where they should park.

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The final image is my vantage point for two meetings I had late last week. Better than any conference room, and no air conditioner needed. I definitely had the better for both meetings.

Who’s up for ice cream

Indecision 2016


I’m already sick of the 2016 Presidential Election.

If there was a way to make it all go away until 2016, I’d be fine with that.

There was a line in one of the episodes of the West Wing that was something along the lines of voters get stupid during election years. And the president’s aide replied that “No, people get treated like they are stupid in election years.” I’m not sure who is right except a staggering amount of money will be spent as if both things are true.

I don’t know who I like yet, but I want to vote for them for what they will do in office, not because they aren’t somebody else. Hillary’s listening, Christie wants to gamble but not smoke, Rubio and Cruz are well against Hillary, Huckabee is in a favor of microphones, pointed at him, Rand Paul doesn’t want to answer questions on the Today Show and Jeb Bush is testing waters with press conferences. None of it will make any difference at all to folks voting. You can’t read a facebook feed without somebody posting “Benghazi” with a tourette’s like fervor like that should trigger something (for me, it’s where were all you self righteous knuckleheads during the embassy attacks or did ya notice security budgets were cut bipartisan like.).

There’s enough good and bad for everybody on all sides. Don’t trust, candidate X? Good, you shouldn’t.

My main point isn’t your candidate is bad or mine is good (especially since I ain’t got one). It’s that we should be picking them for them. Living in New York State, we are almost a moot point as far as the presidential election is concerned. It was fascinating to walk a few blocks to work in Wisconsin in 2008 as the real thing was being fought out there. We were into the general campaign at that point, but actual positions were being discussed in Milwaukee.

Voters were selecting who they wanted to win, which strikes me as the whole point of the process.

The parties need each other, desperately. In the meantime, anybody who is running = tell me this, why should I vote for you.

I’d like that answer, but not until 2016.

The Mets are on.

Tank you very little


As a lifelong fan of the Buffalo Sabres, and hockey in general, I can’t wait for this season to come to a conclusion. I can’t watch them, it, the abyss that is this team. You look at the BIlls, the other Pegulaville and you get a sense of a plan. While there might be one, the public notion is that Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel will fix the mess that is our hockey team.

So, yeah, i have a hard time “Embracing the tank.” It seems wrong, dishonest, a bit of an insult.

Love the game. When it is played well, it is a thing of beauty. I still remember an inconsequential game from the late 1970s between the Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens. The game ended in a 2-2 tie and everybody went home happy, having seen an incredible show of skating and skill. There wasn’t a penalty called. Watching Buffalo’s French Connection and all the late 70s heroes from the Canadiens’ great run (I think they won the Stanley Cup that year) was a thrill and it is games like that should be mandatory watching, the perfect primer for folks who don’t get hockey.

It’s a little twisted now that the Sabres and Coyotes are playing twice soon with so little on the line (for this season) and so much on the line for the June NHL draft. And even then, there are no guarantees. The NHL uses a lottery system  which waters things down more. If you finish last (what would Ricky Bobby say), you might not be first. How screwy is that? Perhaps if they borrowed a page from the NFL and last drafts first, second last second, and so on, it might restore a little sense of integrity, at least publicly.

Perhaps, it would make February and March hockey a little easier to take. It’s hard to even have my team on even as background noise, as you watch for disaster, like a frozen version of a Nascar fan.

I have hated this season. I have been to a couple of games this year, largely for the suite seats afforded me. I attended the game where Dominik Hasek was honored in a weird, awkward ceremony. When Danny Gare and Rene Robert skated on to the ice, I sort of wish they would have been handed sticks to help out in the equally awkward loss that followed,

Having been a usher there for five seasons, you get nostalgic for those “heroic runs” to the final playoff spot, because at least those had some fun. A come from behind win in overtime against the Maple Leafs a few seasons ago felt like VJ Day. It was exciting that a local guy bought the team a few years back, but after suffering since the Drury Briere cluster in 2007, I’m tired. I don’t want to watch the Blackhawks to see a good game (but dammit they are fun to watch).

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While this is funny, it’s also a pretty revolting development.

Can’t be that hard to get to the Cup, I mean I did.

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All you can do is hope Tim Murray is right. After a decade of “rebuilding,” it would be nice to have something to show for it. Like fun hockey to watch. Might take more than one 18 year old to fix it though.

Is that so wrong?

I Miss El Nino


I’m tired, Lily Von Stupp tired of driving in the snow. The return to old school Western New York winter isn’t sitting well. We didn’t get any January thaw to speak of, and temperatures have been single digits for so long that if we get a heatwave of 15, I walk out thinking, this isn’t so bad. What the hell?

The publishers of the coffee table book, Wall of Snow, might be able to make some money if there was so much of the crap still around. When the temperatures were in the negatives to start last week, many road ways just froze. My commute on a regular run of the mill day is 20 minutes. That’s pretty good, almost pleasant. You can relax from the busy day or get your self geared up for the day ahead with some tunes, what have you. Not these days, when snow, freezing rain, and wind have regularly turned the trips into 75 minute white knuckled, gird your loins, hunched over the steering wheel, burn a hole through the windshield with your concentrated gaze, feats of road terror.

Now, I don’t have road rage, I have road expectations. The road has set its standards pretty low. But the pleasant drive has turned into that joke Robin Williams used to make about marathon runners at the end of the race “I’m,…I’m alive.” During the latest cold freeze, random roughly 30 foot sections of the Interstate 190 along Lake Erie decided to freeze, so caked in ice the Buffalo Sabres could have tanked on them. So frozen that doing anything other than aiming the car. Don’t stop, don’t accelerate, just aim. Anything else and you were headed to the ditch. Even safe passage caused the back of my sportage to shake like a dancer at Club Marcella’s after too many espressos. After seven or eight randomly spaced out instances of this, you arrive at the promised land, the toll booth of the South Grand Island bridge, the scene of another large accident.

Traffic of course stops. I look and you see a ice trail up the bridge that would make a great luge run going down, or so it would appear. I see an exit to sneak down River Road, but who the hell knows what does on down there. I summon the courage and go through the toll. A group of about 40 cars and trucks seems to take the trip in unison like the Donnor party. We all reach the peak of the bridge and start to descend down, all hoping it is just a wet surface leading to the flat ground of Grand Island.

It made me think of the people who whine about not getting a storm, missing snow, or griping about schools being open, or schools being closed, reporters who can’t describe snow as anything other than winter wonderland, or snow days you didn’t get in 1983 and how all of the aforementioned need a slap up side the head.

That’s the thing. The sky and the surface have matched each other for so long, it’s harder to differentiate. Somehow, we all land on Grand Island, and sonofabitch, it’s a different ecosystem there. Sun is out and roads are passable. If you haven’t stopped for PTSD treatment for the first part of journey, it’s like hitting Brigadoon. You could drive (and breath) like a human. I heard my radio once more. I was conscious of the jamoke who didn’t knock the snow off his car, silently receiving curses from me. You could see the guy who cleaned his car by running the wipers once.

Until we left Shangra-la to cross the next bridge, where the frost giants awaited…

I miss El Nino.

 

Snow Blind


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This is getting on my nerves.

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I think anybody who takes to social media of any kind next winter to lament that they didn’t see any storm, where’s my snow or anything or why wasn’t my kids school closed needs to be thrown screaming from a helicopter…into a snowbank

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This thought occurred to me as I drove behind another car on one of our busier roadways around here. Unlike much of the area, bare pavement made up the bulk of the driving and apparently that jamoke decided that high speed and wind was how he was going to clean off his car. It’s a pretty deplorable practice, especially when it means your car is on the receiving end of a steady stream of snowballs.

Somewhere in the middle of El Nino, Western New York lost a bit of its snow mojo. I noticed that since we’ve gotten those two light winters, we’ve been getting our butts kicked. And to top it off, who stole our midwinter thaw. There used to be, usually around january or so, some kind of breather, temps would get up, we would get sunlight you could feel. It gave you a second wind to get to spring. My car has been a stud, but you can hear the ache of operating in such constant cold. I used to grouse about paying for a garage space, but that is fee I’m happy to pony up, helps the car last longer and reduces my carpal tunnel odds from not having to clean off the car for the fun drive to work.

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This just flat out sucks. Instead, no breather, in fact, it’s gotten a little tougher with International Falls-style wind chill that makes you not care a whit if it is Celsius or Fahrenheit, a minus anything pretty much is flat out cold. I mean, it’s great, we don’t mudslides, or much in terms of other earthbound traumas, so I guess this is Mother Nature‘s Way of keeping us honest. I’m not so sure I like it. I mean, we are at the point where the sunshine has been random, infrequent and meaningless. The color of the sky, snow and the street have all been cut from the same grey portion of the pantone chart. To add insult to frozen injury, the storms have frequently been coming at rush hour, which then needs to be called something else. It shouldn’t be so noteworthy from my 20 minute commute to actually take 20 minutes. That shouldn’t come as a pleasant surprise.

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2014 in review


Guess I best step it up

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.