Monthly Archives: May 2004

Damiano! M’man!

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So that’s it — barring accident or the most tremendous bonk in the history of the sport, and despite his struggles uncorking the champagne bottles, 22-year-old Damiano Cunego of the Saeco team will be this year’s winner of the Giro d’Italia, having raced brilliantly throughout the 20 days.

But if you tune out whenever I mention cycling (and I blame you not in the least), you can always just look at the Saeco macchines per caffe. Cycling attracts some odd sponsors, but I think the winner for oddness this year is probably De Nardi, a leading maker of metal garage doors. Fassa Bortolo makes cement, which puts it in a certain ironic position in sponsoring one of the fastest sprinters alive, Alessandro Petacchi.

The weekend has been less than stellar, weatherwise. It was cold yesterday, though there was sun, and it was dropping down into the ’40s last night, so we had to bag plans for the drive-in, or at least postpone them until tonight. We let the kids stay up and watch the tape of the Giro with us, then once they were put away we watched “Bubba Ho-Tep,” which was fine but nowhere near the screaming laugh-fest some people have made it out to be. Think of it as quietly absurd, and it’s quite enjoyable.

What happened to the photography thing? Well, I’ve just been busy, busy, busy. Hopefully I’ll have some new stuff at Fotolog soon.

Bike repair

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So, raise your hand if you’ve hand-packed wheel bearings more recently than the Carter administration. My hands are still firmly on the keyboard, so assume that the past two afternoons have been an interesting combination of misery, hard work, puzzle solving and nostalgia. The last time I chased ball bearings around the driveway, I was wearing blue and red striped “flares,” I’m pretty sure (vertical stripes, in shades that could only have been found together in the ’70s), and a belt that involved d-rings and was just featured as “the latest thing” on “Queer Eye.” The Bianchi had about 1200 miles or more on it with little more than the occasional cleaning and oiling, and I knew the wheel hubs needed cleaning and regreasing. And of course I had none of the necessary oddities, like cone wrenches, so there have been a few trips across the river to the bike shop. I also had to take the headset apart, which turns out to have been wise, as I was actually missing a ball bearing, which might explain that odd little noise I was getting every time I turned the wheel. The Down Tube guys were very helpful, though, so I appreciated that, and they didn’t even grouse when I brought back some tools I really didn’t end up needing. Going out for a quick spin to the video store later, so we’ll see how well the whole thing went. If my wheel comes flying off, we’ll know why.


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You would think that by now I would be able to recognize the warning signs of a creeping obsession before it’s too late — I’ve been through enough of them in my life — but man, when you’re in the grip of an obsession, there’s just no getting out of it. And so it is with reluctance that I admit that last night, having done my stretching and situps and so on, I sat on the couch watching the tale end of the Giro (a tough mountain stage, but nothing like today’s will be) and reached down to the magazine pile for something to peruse while the race went on. I started out looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalog, something I haven’t even cracked open in a very very long time, and after 4 or 5 flips through, I put it down and picked up the Performance bike parts catalog. It was more exciting and interesting to me. Either this signals a new level of maturity or a pathetic cry for help. You decide. But I’ve got a terrific jones for some cone wrenches and a deep desire to rebuild my hubs this weekend.

Dental, damn!

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I’ve had a revelation. From now on, I’m going to schedule all major dental work so that I can sit and watch the Giro or the Tour or the Vuelta uninterrupted, live, while sitting in the dentist’s chair. After sufffering through some awful Today Show nightmare involving Katie Couric in a poodle skirt and Matt Lauer in some horrible imitation of The Fonz, it occurred to me: “Hey! The Giro’s on right now!” Patients control the clicker in my dentist’s office, so I was off to the Giro, and from that point on, despite the fact there were three people with their hands (or extensions thereof) in my mouth, my only concern was getting an unobstructed view of the first mountain stage. The peloton blew apart, there were two chase groups behind the breakaway, and Cunego absolutely sailed up that last mountain while the others went to pieces. An outstanding race.

Dutch, disclaimed

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A disclaimer on a Dutch e-mail that came my way:

De informatie verzonden met dit e-mailbericht is uitsluitend bestemd voor de geadresseerde. Gebruik door onbevoegden, openbaarmaking of vermenigvuldiging is verboden. De afzender is niet aansprakelijk in geval van onjuiste overbrenging van het e-mailbericht en/of bij ontijdige ontvangst daarvan.

Just remember, kids, openbaarmaking of vermenigvuldiging is verboden!

I’m not afraid of the Dutch! What are they gonna do, make us pay separately? (“The Drew Carey Show,” way back when.)

Cool web tricks

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This is so cool. Though somewhat less than self-evident. Enter your favorite musician’s name in the white box (under the email address) and press search, and voilĂ„, Musicplasma presents you with a solar system view of the relationships of that musician to others. Discuss!

Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll

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Getting our annual bout of Apocalyptic Spring Weather, including endless rolling thunder, massive lightning, and hail the size of mini ice cubes. After that pounding last evening, I was fully prepared to see frogs fall from the sky. In addition, we’ve had wind, rain, sun, and calm, all at around the same time. Of course, this always happens when my rugosas are in bloom, so we get to enjoy their beauty for about five minutes before the sky opens up and takes them out. Wait ’til you see what the gods do to my poppies in a couple of weeks.

Tree fort nigh onto complete. The monkey bars are all done. I really just need to post and assemble the roof (which I’m currently figuring out how to do) and then make a satisfactory way of getting up into the thing. I made a ladder that I already don’t like. Maybe I’ll go back to the drawbridge idea.

The weather took out power just long enough yesterday to mess up the VCR, so we couldn’t watch yesterday’s record seventh stage win by Petacchi in the Giro d’Italia. Ended up watching a little movie we’d seen years ago and had always wanted to see again, “Niagara Niagara,” a mostly sad tale of a girl with Tourette syndrome. Perfect movie for IFC. I actually liked it better the second time through, and thought Robin Tunney was amazingly believable in the lead. Mysteriously, the film was shot around Poughkeepsie, though it was set in western New York. Guess they blew the entire location budget on the final scenes around Niagara Falls.

Current book: “Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic’s Edge” which I’ve thought about reading for a while but which Lee picked up for me on a NYC trip.

Question: what’s the correct response when your wife, who has never done such a thing before in your 25 years together, announces to you that she has named her breasts “Trinny” and “Susannah,” in honor of the hosts of BBC America’s “What Not to Wear”? 30 words or less, please.

Great and disturbing read

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Don’t know how this book slipped under my radar — maybe I thought it would be too much like “Carter Beats the Devil,” but for a long time I ignored The Devil in the White City, a stunning and well-written book by Erik Larsen. It’s the story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, about which I knew little (other than that some brand of olive oil still bears its seal). I think I would have paid it more attention had I realized that something like the Justice League of Architects had assembled to bring it together (Burnham, McKim, Sullivan, and Olmsted). But even so, I would really expect that I would have heard that there was a thoroughly twisted psycho killer operating just blocks from the fair (with his own home-built gas chambers and crematorium), who opened his own little murderous (Hotel California/Bates Motel/insert favorite reference here) just blocks from the fair. Fairgoers check in, they don’t check out. I cannot believe I never heard of this case before. And on top of all that, you’ve got Buffalo Bill Cody, the murder of the Mayor of Chicago, and the thrilling debate between alternating and direct current — one of my favorite topics, as it happens. Extremely well-written, dramatic without going overboard, and I’d advise that you stick to the architectural side of the story if you’re reading it before dropping off to sleep, and leave the mass murder parts for brighter parts of the day.

Hole in the supermarket

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Just thought I should share, once again, that it’s probably best to self-censor what you’re listening to on the iPod in the grocery store, lest you find yourself in the cracker aisle (the kind you eat, not the one where ignorant white people gather – they’re over by the frozen spaghetti), humming along to Hole’s “Rock Star,” realizing you’ve just inadvertently shouted, “We even fuck the same!” This is why I shop late at night.

Speaking of Hole, just gotta say that while I feel terrible for her as a human being and hope that someday she gets her act together, cleans up and acts like a responsible adult, I have to admit that Courtney Love’s current massively publicized descent into the abyss is hugely entertaining.