Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hiking with Sisyphus

Earlier this week, 3B met up with some friends at a local park to go for a ride with friends.

They were supposed to all three be there at the same time, but the way schedules and traffic worked out, first one friend was there with 3B, then when he left, 3B's other friend arrived.


Unfortunately, 3B's trike/bike/motorcycle broke while he was there, which left Mama carrying that along with all the other requisite toddler gear. But that gave 3B plenty of time to recover from his ride and explore the stream.


In fact, Mama said it was nearly impossible to get him away from the water. They would walk 10 feet away--up the steep hill back toward the car--and then he would run back, forcing her to chase him, since he was usually doing something perilous by the water. Of course, all the while, Mama was schlepping his bike and gear.

Nothing like a hike with Sisyphus.

Speaking of uphill both ways, through the snow, barefoot and all that, I've been riding my bike to work, in part so I can tell my kids when I'm (soon to be) an old man that I too, rode uphill both ways to work, just like my parents before me, and their parents before them, and so on.

Well, for that reason and because I'd like to make brain tumors history.

If you don't believe me, here's a map of my round trip ride to and from work. Click on the View Elevation button at the bottom left to see the route profile.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Another good friday: tool time

Yesterday I was riding my Bontrager Race Lite with the Marzocchi Bomber shock and XT components and I got smoked going up a hill by a guy on a creaky K-Wal-Mart-R-Us bike with a battered white basket on the front. And when I was riding home, he passed me again in the same neighborhood.

So this morning, as I rode in, I was thinking about specialized gear and technology. If it was the case that the bike wins the race, anybody with $10,000 could win the Tour de France. But somebody has to actually ride the bike, and who that person is makes all the difference.

But there still is a difference between bikes. Some are definitely easier to use for certain functions. My commuter bike, for example, is a converted mountain bike, which is built to give a softer ride, which is nice for all of the bumps and jolts I ride over. For longer rides, however, I prefer my road bike, which is built to be efficient, which makes it a bit less forgiving.

And then there's the bike itself, which is a highly specialized and yet versatile tool. I don't imagine that it would be possible for anyone to run 100 miles a day for 21 days in a row, but bikers in the Tour de France (and Giro and Vuelta) do that--along with all of the other races they ride in a season.

And in many places, people take advantage of the same efficiencies racers do and use bikes to perform a variety of tasks. Just having wheels that can support 100 or more times their own weight is a remarkable tool. Joining those to a strong frame geometry, gears and levers makes them more versatile.

The guy who smoked me looked like he was riding from job site to job site, which he probably does all day. Is his bike the best for that kind of riding? Maybe not, but any bike is excellent for his transportation needs: cheap, easy to park and quick--over short distances, he's easily as fast as a car in traffic and much faster than a pedestrian.

It was a good reminder that sometimes we spend too long looking for the perfect tool, when all we really need is a tool. 3B reminded us of that on Easter Eve, when we were dying eggs. Turns out there's no need for that little dipper wand that comes with the egg dye when you've got 10 working digits.

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I would ride 500 miles

But they'll only let me do 50. Even so, with your help, that's enough to change a life. I still need to raise about $500 to reach my goal.

And think of the benefits you get from giving...the knowledge that you helped a cancer patient in their fight, the knowledge that you helped honor the memories of anyone you've lost to cancer, and the knowledge that your contribution compels me to ride my bike for 50 miles ("Dance, mailman! Dance!").

Does it get any better than that?

It does...if you join the rest of my six loyal readers like

...and support my ride.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turns out it wasn't Ebola

OK, I think I'll live. It was touch-and-go for a day or so last week when I was trying to decide if I had just a bug or a hemorrhagic fever. Turns out an infection and a contact allergy were conspiring to inflame my head from the inside and out, but I finally got to the doctor who gave me drugs to put out the fires.

Now I'm on steroids--not for the bike ride, but because the allergy was threatening to go down my already swollen throat. I'm a little disappointed that the 'roids haven't increased my riding strength as much as they have my sense of...let's say...intense focus.

I can't say that I've hit 'roid rage yet, but perhaps that's just because I haven't mixed my drugs with a bike ride near cars, but all that changes tomorrow when I ride to work for the first time since I changed jobs over a year ago.

If I survive, I'll let you know how that went, but for now, I thought I'd try to recall the last week--minus the night sweats, fever dreams and flaming face rash. Trust me, you won't miss those at all. I don't.

White House Egg Roll
Yes, I did wake up at 5 to get us there on time.

Yes, we did wait in line for 1.5 hours to get on to the lawn.

Yes, we did miss the Obamas' entrance by 10 minutes.

Yes, we were 8 feet from Barack and Michelle while he read Where the Wild Things Are.

Yes, we were even closer to Fergie, which was more exciting for 3B, although perhaps not as exciting as shooting soccer goals and dribbling a ball around the tennis basketball court.

No, I didn't really understand how amazing it was until about an hour after we walked out. Even now, I'm not sure I can wrap my mind around the fact that I watched the President read my son a book. OK, so my son and a few score other kids, but still.

Overheard but not overlooked
3B walking across the back of the couch, behind the cushions: "I am Moses, crossing the Red Sea."

He also brought home a PlayDoh sculpture of Moses in a basket, which was sort of blobbish in shape--red on top, purple on bottom--with one gold eye gleaming out from it. I'd have a picture of it here, if Barky hadn't chewed it to pieces after it dried. We asked about Moses in the basket: "He goes in the river. Then he goes to live in the palace."

Hey, this JCC school is paying off. Now 3B can teach me about the parts of the Bible I skipped over.

Of course, later in the week, while Mama and I were in the kitchen and 3B was quietly playing in his room, we heard him declare, "I'm ready for my close up now."

I guess now we know who put Sunset Boulevard in our Netflix queue.

That would be a fair trick, on par with what 3B did last night as I was making dinner. I heard him saying something as he wrote on his doodle pad and it finally connected in my brain, so I went over to check. Sure enough, he was saying, "I'm writing an 'i,' an 'o,' and an 's.'" And sure enough he was writing an "i," and "o," and ...uh... another "o" that he called an "s."

Why not, I guess? I'm sure some letters cross dress too.

Last, but certainly not least
3B's already happy to be a big brother and is practicing with a baby girl doll that Mama was clever enough to buy him when we were at Babies R Us getting his new big-boy car seat. He's been adorable with her--sharing his food and drinks with her, making sure she doesn't lose her lovie, and explaining the ways of the world to her.

We explained that his sister is in Mommy's belly and, being as anxious to meet his sister as 3B is, it didn't take long for him to ask the two obvious questions: When will she come out? How will she come out?

If her recent activity is any indication, 3B's sister thinks she's a bird who needs to break out of her egg to hatch. She's been kicking and punching hard enough that I felt it for the first time last Thursday night and we can even see it some times.

Now we know that she's got at least one thing in common with her big brother.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Our morning at the White House: Roll your own

I'll have more details later. For now, suffice it to say that it was fantastic. Yes, I've been awake since 5 a.m. Yes, the lines were long. Yes, the Obamas came out before we could get into the grounds. Yes, we got to see him read Where the Wild Things Are. Yes, we're all tired. And yes, we'd do it all again.

No, we didn't roll any eggs. The crowd was about 20 deep when the Obamas were at the egg roll and then the line extended down the entire lawn after that. We'd had enough waiting in line by the time we got in, so we went to events without lines, like the Fergie concert and the basketball court.

If the recession didn't change the exchange rate and 1 photo is still equal to 1,000 words, here are our 28,000 words about this morning.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Breakfast at the White House

We're going to the White House tomorrow, and I'm really starting to get excited for it.

At first, I wasn't sure if I should believe that we really got tickets, but then they arrived as promised, and there they hang on the back of our front door, waiting for us to forget them tomorrow morning as we dash out the door for a 7:14 a.m. bus.

But details of the event have been scarce until tonight, so I was trying to keep my expectations's not like we're going to be dining with the Obama's in their family dining room at the White House. We're going to be out on the back lawn with 30,000 of our closest friends for two hours--after we spend an hour getting through security.

It's going to be like if TSA ran security for a rock concert--except the Secret Service runs a much tighter ship than TSA could imagine.

Speaking of rock concerts, this news started to get me excited about what we're going to be seeing: Fergie and Ziggy Marley will be performing. Oh and a few other people like Brianna Scurry and Abby Wambach, who will be leading soccer games as well as Marissa Coleman, Nikki Blue, Etan Thomas and Swin Cash, who will be playing pickup games with the kids--you think Barack will get in on some of those?

While I was thinking that's all cool, I kept reminding myself that the president usually shows up briefly as the day opens, and since we're in the second group, that meant that we likely wouldn't see him at all, even over a sea of 30,000 heads. But then I read his schedule, which says that he'll be there 15 minutes after our time slot starts. This means that even if he's running on Obama time, he's still almost sure to arrive while we're there.

Which about guarantees that I'll forget the camera along with the tickets.

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Get a free widget, help defeat cancer

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so much to my ride. Your generosity is overwhelming and inspiring.

My preparations continue--I've been riding my trainer every morning, and I'm planning to start riding to work this week. That will increase my daily riding time by 200%, and put me well on the way to being prepared to ride 50 miles in one day.

To help promote my ride, I created a Facebook group that many of you have already joined. If you would like to help me spread the word further, I've also created a widget that you can place on your blog. You can see it in the upper-left of my blog.

To place this widget in your blog, click the Get Widget button below (160 x 160 pixels). Please let me know if you need it in another size or have any questions or problems with it. And thanks again to everyone for your support.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

My biological alarm clock tolls for me

Lisa Belkin of Motherlode wrote an interesting piece in the NYTimes Sunday magazine--and yes, it does take me four days to finally get to the first story in the magazine--about men's biological clocks.

Reading between the lines, she posits that women's biological clocks are a result of the knowledge that as they get older, it becomes more difficult to have healthy babies and that men lack such a clock because they lack that same knowledge about themselves.

In our house, the conversation took a slightly different course. Mama, who is seven years younger than I, didn't want to rush into having children because she wanted to be ready and also because she wanted to do some things while she still could. I, who had already had the chance seven years ago to do those things and get ready, was more anxious to start having kids.

A large part of that reason is my unshakeable feeling that I'm going to die well before the average expected lifespan, which leads to a strong impatience to get on with life while I'm still here to live it. This feeling comes not from my history of self-injury, but from the fact that Dad died before turning 60. It's reinforced by the knowledge that his dad died prematurely also.

Never mind that they died of unrelated causes--Dad of a brain tumor, his father of a heart attack that was possibly the result of a weakened heart from scarlet fever when he was a boy--this is a feeling, not a logical thought. It is a purely emotional response to the greatest sorrow of my life. It is the scar tissue that Dad's death deposited on my heart, and that I'll carry to my own grave.

Knowing it's there, and what it is, I try to keep it from interfering in my life as much as possible, but sometimes this feeling still has its way with me. Such was the case when we were discussing how soon to have kids. Mama was, as always, right that we should wait--I'm a better father for us having waited--but it was hard for me to let go.

I wanted our children to be as old as possible before I died, and selfishly, I wanted to spend as long as possible with our children before I died. My biological clock wasn't just tick-tocking--the alarm was going off 24/7. Reading about this research reinforces my feelings in only the slightest way. It's hard for any force to be stronger than the instincts driven by knowledge of my own mortality.

But I'm glad that people are doing the research to prove what we must surely understand instinctively--men age just as women do.

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I was wrong about women

It's not the first time, and it's surely not the last time, but I was wrong.

It turns out that a new professional soccer league for women is starting up in the U.S. and it will include Marta, the best female player in the world.

OK, the other thing I was wrong about this week was telling Anastasiya at Pupatella, who's expecting a baby next month, that I had never seen Mama in as much pain as when she was in labor. Before you break your fingers speed typing a comment to me about my stupidity, let me tell you that Anastasiya already pointed out the error of my ways.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


Mrs. Chili wrote an insightful list of ten lessons the universe is making sure she learns for Ten Things Tuesday. I've read it a few times, and it's inspired me to list the lessons the universe is teaching me as a parent, often with extreme prejudice.

  1. You won't be on time. If you are on time, you're in the wrong place.
  2. You will forget something--something like diapers or wipes or a lovie--and yet you will survive.
  3. Your valuable, fragile and delicate possessions are manifestations of your unhealthy attachment to this material world and your child is a master, teaching you about letting go.
  4. You won't be the favorite parent until your son wants a helicopter, rocket ship or jet plane ride. However, to compensate, the dog will curl up next to you on the couch and lick his ass.
  5. You will never see any item you buy in a pair, such as a shoe, sock or mitten, with its partner again after you leave the store.
  6. You will learn to buy multiples of everything, all in the same color.
  7. Even if you just washed them all, there will never be a clean sippy cup when your child is thirsty.
  8. You should apologize to your mom. She was right.
  9. You will see in your child parts of you that you're not too fond of; you will blame this on your DNA.
  10. You will not want your life to be any other way, no matter how appealing that other way may sometimes appear.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our son has the chinas

Last week Mama was bathing 3B while I was in New York and had this dialogue with him:

3B: I have the chinas.
Mama: You have what?
3B: I have the chinas.
Mama: [connecting the dots] ...Oh. No, sweetie, you have a penis.
3B: Nooo. I have the chinas.
Mama: You have a penis. Boys and men have penises. Girls and women have vaginas.
3B: [agitated, starting to cry] Nooooo! I have the chinas! I have the chinas!
Mama: OK, sweetie. You have the chinas.
3B: [returns to playing in the bath]

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Monday, April 06, 2009

I ride for Dad

Because when I was 16, a brain tumor took Dad from me.

Because he taught me to sail.

Because he ran behind me around the cul-de-sac as I pedaled and wobbled on that little red bike.

Because he rode his bike to the train in his three-piece suits.

Because he too loved James Bond and Aston Martins.

Because he let me shift gears when he drove.

Because he loved big band jazz and played it every Sunday while he made us waffles.

Because he played piano by ear.

Because he tolerated my brutal attempts at trumpet playing.

Because he would cut my hair in the garage.

Because he taught me to put the toast in before you start scrambling the eggs, so everything is done at the same time.

Because he would carry me when I couldn't walk.

Because when I let my guard down, late at night, in the starlight, I can still hear his voice.

Because I have his left-handedness, but I'll never have him back.

Because I've gotten over it, but I'll never stop missing him.

Because it's not just dads, it's moms and it's kids.

Because I believe and because I have hope, I recently accepted the challenge of participating in the Ride for Research 2009.

The Ride for Research supports the National Brain Tumor Society's vision of a world without brain tumors and raises funds for research, education and support.

My goal is to raise $1,500, and any amount, great or small, helps in the fight. I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress--in fact, by May 31, you'll probably never want to hear about my bike or my sore ass bones again.

So, to offset the guilt you'll feel when you skip over another post about my ass bones, donate now.

For more information on the ride, or to give, please go to my ride page.

[Update: Due to everyone's overwhelming generosity, I quickly surpassed my initial goal, and so have raised my goal.]

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Putting out the fire with gasoline

The last two weeks or so have been a textbook case of the blogger's paradox: the more interesting life is, the less time there is to write about it.

I'm going to skip the recap for now and move on to what's filling my mind now: this girl that is growing within Mama.

The ultrasound worked its magic again, making this pregnancy suddenly tangible. Watching our child move around, watching her legs kick and her hands flex, brought her into my consciousness as a whole and yet unfinished person. As I was with 3B, I'm overwhelmed with a protective urge akin to that of Black Boys on Mopeds, which came on just as I was writing this.

Protective, but not restrictive. I want our children to laugh in the rain, to run in the waves, to sail the bright seas and through the night skies, to walk up all the roads their feet carry them to, and to hang upside down in trees softly soughing and swaying.

I want them to feel the delicacy and power of an abiding love blooming and taking root in their hearts, to find a home in the wilderness, to know the joy they bring to the world, and to live lives of wonder--I want them to enjoy all the gifts they have given me.

Just as seeing 3B made me see the world anew again, look at boys and men again and see what it was I didn't want him to become along with what I dreamed he could be, seeing our girl has given me new eyes again.

Honestly, it's rekindled a simmering anger at male-female inequities. Why isn't there still a professional women's soccer league? Why aren't there full length equivalent bike races for women--a women's Tour de France? Giro? Vuelta? or even Tour of California, where the women were relegated to a criterium? Why no professional softball league--or no women in baseball?

As I write that out, I'm reminded of all that has come since I was a boy. There was a professional women's soccer league. There is the WNBA. There are women making a living as professional bike racers. And in education, there should be greater consternation about how we're failing our boys than concern for the advancement of girls.

But still, I'm angry, which doesn't bother me. Anger is fuel for the fire that powers the engine of progress.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Subterranean Homesick Blues...Let's Dance!

3B's long been exposed to the lyric "the pump don't work, 'cause the vandals took the handle," and this week he's been overexposed to the song it comes from, Subterranean Homesick Blues.

He developed a minor toddler obsession with the song, which means that Mama looped it for him for about 3 hours one day. Since the boy can memorize a book in one reading, that means that he's got this song nailed...

This next one is an oldie, but goldie. Right after I posted the video of our ultrasound, 3B saw it playing and wanted to see it again. And again. And again. And to dance to it. Again. And again. I can't tell you how moving it is to see our son dance to his sister's heartbeat.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Can't touch this

We took 3B to the National Gallery of Art today to meet up with his Aunt S and Brilliant Cousin.


Unfortunately, I'm not so brilliant as his cousin, so I missed hearing our GPS try to route us around the @#$%@#$^ Cherry Blossom Festival traffic, and we ended up taking about 45 days to get the five miles into DC. It didn't help that DC blocked offramps from the highway without so much as a notice up the road that they were doing so.

I took the closures and the policemen sleeping in their cars on the offramps as friendly reminders of why we left the district years ago.

We did make it to the gallery at everyone's lunchtime, so after admiring Mercury and his caduceus in the rotunda, we retired to the cafeteria, with its waterfall and brilliant walkalator.


Mama and I switch hit during lunch. I took 3B over to the waterfall while she ate with Aunt S and BC, where I let 3B walk right up to the glass, which caused a security guard to tell him to step away. Not before I got a few photos, however.

Happy boy

Fortunately there was a shiny thing nearby that I could distract him with before returning to the table.

Best walkalator ever

Best walkalator ever

Best walkalator ever

When Mama was up with 3B, she took him down the walkalator again, then up to the East Wing, where she let him touch stacks of rocks, which prompted a security guard to again reprimand him. The guard felt bad about it, especially when 3B broke down crying. Mostly that was because he was overextended, so Mama brought him back to the cafeteria and we headed home.

Not before going by the rocks again--nothing like getting back up on the horse--and playing on some other rocks nearby.

East Wing, Nat'l Gallery

So yes, we took 3B to a museum full of the best art this nation has to offer so that he could see the cafeteria and be scared away from art.

Tonight we're all going to the Nat's exhibition game with the O's, which should be fun. You know, if 3B is allowed to touch anything there.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Still waiting? Here's the one you need

OK, but seriously, we have pictures--Sarah, we'll all wait for you to finish watching the video...OK, you too, Steve.

At today's 20 week ultrasound, we saw that baby is as limber as 3B was, and has picked up a few moves from Mama's prenatal yoga classes.

prenatal yoga

And baby has lovely heart valves, kidneys, humeruses, ulnas, radiuses, femurs, tibias, fibulas, brain formations and eye orbits.

ready for my close up

And she also let us know that she's the one we've been waiting for...yes, she.

We're having a girl, and just like 3B was, she is the one we've been waiting for.

I am the one

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Remember the effect of curiosity on the cat

Tomorrow we'll find out.

Don't you want to know?

I know you do.

I see you shiver with antici...

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