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Friday, August 08, 2008

888 Olympics

So unless you're really out of it you have to know that the Olympics officially start today. There have been some qualifying matches going on in various sports so I guess technically they've already started. But today they parade all the athletes out in the stadium and we get to see the Taiwanese athletes repressed into some offshoot realm called Chinese Taipei. Sorry, I try not to get too political here.

Anyway, while the Games do hold some special interest to me since I'm reasonably knowledgeable on Asian culture, I'm not really going to follow so much. I think we'll watch, but I'm not really going to go crazy and I doubt I'll blog much about it.

I will say this though. Americans absolutely do not understand the Chinese culture. The 4 Americans walking off the plane with masks is about the same level of offensiveness to the Chinese as a Chinese athlete walking off the plan with a t-shirt depicting the Twin Towers burning. That's not an overstatement at all. I just put it that way to underscore the level of which Americans - and the Western World really - doesn't "get" the Asian culture. Even though I'm well immersed, those of you who followed my blog when I was in Taiwan know I'm still clueless half the time.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you much insight during these games. Or maybe I will, but I don't plan on it. But here are 2 blogs you should check out if you want to follow:

The first is This guy is a beat writer for the KC Royals and is over to cover the Games. I read his blog every day. If I were stranded on a desert island and had 1 blog to read, his would be it. Sometimes he writes about the Royals, but not usually. Terren, I highly recommend adding him to your Bloglines and reading him for a few weeks. His view of Beijing will be real, funny, and generally unbiased.

The second is Ok I'm almost in Penn Station so let me make this quick. He's an American expat living in Beijing. His takes range from loving China to being flabbergasted by the government. I think he offers a very real, sometimes reactive, but solid view of China and the culture he lives in. He can sometimes harp a little much on quirks of the system but in the end I think he's fair and balanced and offers a good insight.

Ok, off to work.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Not Yet Winter

It's not winter yet but it's that time to admit that the Mike Tyson Uppercut that is the heart of summer is fading. We're nowhere near biting Summer's ear off or anything like that. But the signs are there and it would do you well to embrace it so you don't sound like the hundreds and thousands of drones in this conversation:

"Man, can you believe summer is over already?"

"Summer is so short. It seems like I was just shovelling my driveway."

"This weather is crazy."

"Incoherent babble."

"I agree, incoherently. Babble blububububububububub."


This is how the conversation should go.

"Man, can you believe summer is over already?"


"Seems like..."

"Listen. It happens every year. After about June 22 every year, the days get shorter. Not everyone notices it though since it's usually like 100 degrees for 6 straight weeks. In fact, weren't you the same person who was complaining that it was too hot? And this was like 6 weeks after you were complaining that spring was too short, even though it was 2 months of beautiful weather this year?"


"Furthermore, when people say the weather sucks in New Jersey you defend it vehemently and say you like the change in seasons. Can you at least be consistent?"

"I was just trying to make conversation."

"Why don't you talk about what book you're reading."

"Oh I got this great self improvement book 2 weeks ago."

"How is it?"

"I don't know, I haven't started it yet."

"What the hell do you do at night?"

"Watch American Idol reruns."

"Can I put the world out of its misery at having you on the face of the Earth?"

"Um, I guess so?"


I for one welcome our new and all powerful overlords. Wait, I mean the cooler weather. Here are the signs that it's coming fast:

1. When I wake up at 5:00 it's still pitch black out.
2. I rode with long-sleeves yesterday.
3. Football is starting.
4. I'm sleeping without a fan some nights.
5. I'm 36 years old and as such am no longer surprised when fall follows summer for the 36th consecutive year. I hold out hope that one day we can jump directly to winter or just leapfrog right into an extended 9 month spring. But until then, I'm not going to be surprised that every year, summer does eventually come to an end.

Cycle 47

Victim: Oh shit possible hot blonde alert! After a series of frumpy Wall Street men I get a change of pace, thankfully. The data is Summit, white, woman, 30-39, married, not fat, regular. Blonde, in a business suit, has the Financial Times in her lap so she's one of these money people on the train. In her right hand she has a pink travel coffee mug with some sort of breast cancer awareness logo on it. She's kind staring straight off into space so I can't see what she really looks like. Like I said to Vinny, it's impossible to really get a good look at anyone who sits next to you on the train. Eventually I get a look and not hot after all.

Assessment: Good.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Forever Ignorant

This is a serious question. Do you think you would be happy if you knew everything you wanted to know as it pertains to your life?

Think about it for a minute. What I mean by "as it pertains to your life" is confining your knowledge to your areas of interest as opposed to, let's say, the total weight of Assam tea exported from India. In my case you would have things like:

* children's health
* home improvement/expansion
* all-knowing cook
* fluent in Mandarin
* nutrition expert
* bike training expert
* programming guru
* and so on, the list is endless

The idea being, what if you never needed to figure something out, that you just knew it all, all the time. Would that be good or bad?

My initial reaction is that it would suck. It would take so much of the sense of discovery away that you would lose a lot of what is interesting in life. If I knew before a race exactly what my time was going to be, would that be any fun? Would work be challenging enough to keep me interested?

Conversely, I also wonder if you took out the difficulties you could enjoy things more. Would I be able to focus more on music, books, and movies for enjoyment? Would I be able to get more out of my bike rides because I would know exactly how my body reacts and what my limits are? Would I be able to enjoy my food more knowing exactly how to make a perfect meal that is very healthy for me?

I think both sides have merit, and obviously this is mental masturbation but interesting nonetheless. How does this pertain to my life?

This morning I woke up and got on the bike before work, doing an interval set of really high-end stuff. It was a decent ride, somewhere between fair and good. But now sitting on the train I feel amazingly good. My legs were stiff before the ride, now they feel fresh and loose. Generally after hard efforts my legs hurt. Right now, I feel like I could go out and ride for 3 hours, no problem.

My point is that after all this time there is still so much I'm clueless about. How could I know that I would feel better today after the ride? Where does this come from?

I think I prefer the eternal ignorance side of the fence. No matter how much you learn, you continue to refine what you think you know and learn more. The sense of exploration is always there, there are always doors to open that you didn't even know about the previous day.

Besides, if I knew everything I would have this blog to entertain you guys with. Isn't a blog the ultimate admission that you don't really know what the hell is going on?


Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday Cares

I think ordinarily I would be going on about how useless I am right now, it being Monday morning and all. But since I went through the "no magic this year" post a few weeks ago let me just wake up today and tell you that yes, I have affirmed that there is still no magic in 2008 like I had hoped. I think I'm prepared to say that this year is more or less a failure in what I set out to do.

So you wake up one Monday morning. It's the first full week of August, you have about 10 weeks left in the biking season so most of your work is done for the year and when you look at it, you've done a fair job but you're fatter than any time in the last year and change and you know your goals are out of reach. Sure, you can get on a bike and go fast but not as fast as you want. So where does that leave you?

I don't care anymore, I can't care. I was supposed to do a race yesterday, the Dark Horse 40, but I simply didn't want to. No desire to do it so I said fuck it and passed. Why go do a race you just have no motivation for? Why force yourself to do something just for the sake of doing it, especially if you know it won't be worth the payoff?

So I did what any sensible person would do and drank heavily this past weekend. I started the weekend by riding with Bill Saturday morning, then doing TM up at Mahlon after the ride. Got home, grabbed a haircut, then off to South Jersey for lots of beer. I also played Guitar Hero for the first time ever and that game fucking kicks ass!

Then last night I had more beer. I'm just sliding right now. Well I was. Maybe this weekend will be a kick in the ass and I'll get going for real again this week. Well, let me rephrase that. This weekend has already been a kick in the ass to get things moving but the question is, will it move in the right direction or not?

Against all logic, I'm now considering the 24 hour race again. Those of you who really know me know that I make questionable decisions and this would be yet another one. But then you have to ask, why not? Well, I can think of a few reasons but I'm also thinking that maybe I'm going to say fuck it and go for it.

Cycle 46

Vinny asked me this weekend if I had come to any conclusions with my experiment and I have to admit that no, I have not. I'm about ready to wrap this up for now. Maybe in September when the train is full again I can open it up.

Victim: Summit, white, male, 40-49, married, not regular, not fat. Bad breath, almost bald but tries the combover. Dressed for NYC business. Listens to his IPod.

Assessment: Good, keeps to himself.

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