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October 22nd, 2008

10:55 pm

I really haven’t felt very chatty lately so I’ve been on a little hiatus. Nothing new there, eh? Anyway, I was just watching game 1 of the World Series and trying to decide who to be for. Once I thought about it a minute, it wasn’t really a hard choice. And the longer I thought about it, the more riled up I got. So, pardon me while I vent…

Tampa fans, you need to bugger off. You play in a dome (lame) and have artificial turf (hella-lame). You have those stupid catwalks in your stupid little dome that redirect balls in play (totally lame). And worst of all, your all a bunch of bandwagon jumping, fair-weather jack offs that don’t deserve a team, much less a championship. You’re all a bunch of cowbell ringing, Mohawk wearing nimrods who have no business calling yourselves fans. Where were all of you during the regular season? You didn’t even bother to show up for that oh so important series with the Red Sox during the last week of August when your beloved Rays were in danger of losing the AL East lead to the Sox. Were you all in line at the team store buying your brand new caps and jerseys in anticipation of the playoffs? Cause you sure weren’t in the seats. There were more Red Sox fans at those games than Tampa fans. Hell, there were probably more empty seats than Tampa fans. You can all bite me. I hope you get swept by the Phillies. It’s sad that such a young, talented and exciting team has to be stuck with the worst stadium and fans in baseball. The Rays have played their asses off and deserve to be in the Series, but the fans make me sick. Now, I know there a few thousand die hards who have been there all along, and that’s fine. I have no beef with you true fans. But the rest of you, please shove your cowbells up your asses, cut the tags off your shiny new hats and shut the hell up. You are not fans.

Ahh. That’s better.

So what’s up peeps? I’ve been up to all my usual stuff – work, TU football, reading and basically wasting my life. But it hasn’t all been status quo for me. Dad and I got a tandem bicycle almost two months ago. It’s a blue Trek T-1000. It is affectionately known to Dad and me as “The Beast”. We’ve been riding our asses off and having a blast. The first time we took off on the bike, we damn near killed ourselves, but since then, we’ve gotten better and better. Before our first ride, Dad rode the bike around a parking lot without me on the back just so he could get a feel for the bike. This was a mistake because it gave him an over inflated sense of security since it handled basically like a normal bike. Turns out, it’s a lot different with my fat ass on the back. I climbed on and we took off. Dad decided to have us go down a little hill to take off under the assumption that it would be easier to get going. This was mistake number 2. The bike shot off faster than expected because of the extra weight. So, we were going to fast and were basically out of control. We were wobbling all over the place while Dad fought to keep us up. I felt like we were going to crash, but I stuck with it and kept my feet in the pedals like I was supposed too. Fortunately, Dad got us under control and we managed to keep going. Only later did I learn that we were about 3 feet from crashing into a curb. We had gone down a driveway and were crossing a residential street while trying to stabilize. We were almost to the curb before Dad was able to make the turn to avoid the crash. A car came up on us during this mess as well, but the guy just stopped while we sorted things out. I think this is an instance where my blindness was an advantage. I knew the car was there, but if I had seen the curb coming up on us, I probably would have panicked and tried to put my foot down. This would have surely resulted in a crash. But, I didn’t see it coming and I trust my Dad 100%. He’s been riding a bike for a long time, so I know I can trust him to keep us out of trouble. You can’t ride a tandem without trust. I have no brakes or ability to steer. My job is to sit back there and pedal while keeping my upper body still so I don’t screw up our balance. All the responsibility is on the captain. I’m just along for the ride.

After that first ride, we got better in a hurry. Our second start was scary because we were both kind of freaked out after our disastrous first start. But, it went fine. We still wobbled a little, but it was nothing compared to our first attempt. The next day, we spent about 15 minutes just starting and stopping over and over again until we got it figured out. Now we take off without even thinking about it. We rarely wobble and when we do, it’s barely noticeable.

Our other biggest challenge has probably been with me having balance issues. I used to ride a bike all the time. My Dad and I would ride together and of course I rode a lot as a kid. But, I hadn’t been on a bike in about 5 years and while I remember what it feels like and was able to jump right into it, my brain had to do a little adjusting. I was somewhat dizzy at first and often felt the sensation that we were turning even though we were going completely straight. The first time we rode, I struggled with this disorientation for the first 4-5 miles before it straightened itself out and I felt normal again. After that, it would happen for the first few miles but would clear up quicker. Eventually, I got to where my dizziness was basically gone. It resurfaced the first time we rode on a windy day and again when I had a cold and was dealing with a lot of head congestion. Now, I’m fine. I haven’t felt dizzy at all in a couple of weeks. I don’t know the actual explanation for all of this, but I suspect that the dizziness was a result of not having a visual reference to go by for balance. I felt like my brain just had to sort everything out and I had to learn to balance by feel. It was an interesting process.

I love riding the tandem. It’s one of the few things I can do where other people who happen to see us have no idea that I am blind. I get to experience just being part of the crowd instead of being a walking freak show. It’s very liberating. Plus, it’s an activity that I can do with no accommodations and where my blindness is a non-factor. It’s great. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m losing weight, getting in much needed exercise and get to spend time with my Dad which is a blast. Riding the tandem with Dad is actually more fun than when we used to ride single bikes together. On the tandem, we can ride together at his pace which is much faster than mine and we’re right there together all the time so conversation is easier. We have a lot of fun cracking jokes and discussing whatever comes to mind. It’s really awesome.

As for times and distances and what not, we started out doing about 10 miles. Last Sunday, we did our first 40 mile ride. Our goal is to work up so we can ride in a 100 mile race together. Our normal ride that we squeeze in after work is 14 miles. The first time we rode that trail, it took us almost 56 minutes. With experience, we knocked a lot of time off as we felt more comfortable with the bike and riding at faster speeds. We recently set our latest personal record for the 14 mile trail which we did in 44 minutes 55 seconds. It’s amazing to me that we have made so much improvement. Of course, that record was set under ideal conditions – no wind, freshly aired up tires and low traffic on the trail. A normal day for us is about 46 minutes. Still, that’s pretty bad ass.

You might have noticed that TU is crazy good this year and is currently 7-0 and putting up ridiculous offensive numbers. The talking heads on TV are even mentioning TU as a possible BCS buster. You might wonder what I think about all of this. Well, I don’t think about it. It feels like a crazy dream and I don’t want to wake up. I’m just taking things one game at a time and am focusing on a conference championship. Everything else is just gravy. Personally, I think the BCS stuff is unlikely and am setting my sights on the Liberty Bowl. TU just needs to take care of business on the field and all the other stuff will sort itself out. Whatever happens, this will go down as an amazing chapter in TU football history and I’m just glad I’m around to witness it. So, there you have my official stance on the matter. Now let’s just move on so I don’t say anything stupid and jinx the Golden Hurricane. Go TU!

I saw Flogging Molly again. It was amazing. We drove down to Dallas for the show at the House of Blues. We went down to the front, but on the side of the stage. It had the advantage of being close to the action but without the chaos of being front stage. I had a blast. I sang until I was hoarse. It was the most fun I’ve had at a Flogging Molly concert so far. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but Flogging Molly puts on the Best. Concert. EVER! I love those guys. I hope they continue their trend of coming to Tulsa in the spring. If they do, I’m there.

Oklahoma City finally has an NBA team. It’s very cool and I’m glad to finally have all the Seattle drama over with. I’m not crazy about the name but it could be worse so I can live with Thunder. The uniforms and logo sound underwhelming, but it’s hard to get a feel for it from verbal descriptions. It’s really hard to satisfy my uniform obsession now that I can’t see them. I think for me, missing out on uniform changes and losing video games have been the hardest losses for me to deal with while adjusting to blindness. But, I guess it’s less painful now than it was a year ago so hopefully it will continue to get easier. I still can’t sell my Playstation though. I’ll get there eventually Wow, I just totally bummed myself out. I hate it when I do that. Sigh….

There’s probably a lot of other stuff I could comment on, but I don’t really know how to fill in all the blanks from my long hiatus. So, I’m going to call it a night and go do some more reading. I’m reading the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. It’s about a British army officer during the wars with Napoleon. Sharpe is awesome. He makes excessive use of the terms bugger and bastard. I find this to be endlessly entertaining. I have no idea why. Of course, I am also strangely obsessed with the Napoleonic wars so I’m sure that has something to do with my enjoyment as well. Anyway, bugger off and have a nice day.