Monday, June 28, 2004

Back to Work

My vacation came to an end today. It was so nice to have the time away from work and a bit depressing to be going back but I reminded myself that I’m blessed to have such a good job.

Rachel and I went to Valleyfair on Friday. We had a great time. I love that little one so much. It was a bit cool with the temp only in the 60s but that worked to our advantage as we only had to wait 5 minutes at the most for any ride we wanted. That sort of thing is unheard of when you’re talking about the Wild Thing, Power Tower or Steel Venom. We both got a bit creeped out on the red Power Tower. It’s the one which takes you up slowly and locks you in at the top for several seconds before shooting you back down. We’d both been on it at least a dozen times before but as Rachel says…you start to get the what-ifs when you get up there. It didn’t matter though because after a couple times of riding it we were old pros again…letting it all hang out by not hanging on. We did Steel Venom several times as well. We got there at 11:00am and left for home around 9:15pm. We also had our caricatures done together just like last year. I think we’re going to make that a yearly thing to do.

I’d given some thought to getting up early Saturday and doing a 200-mile ride but when I got up with Toby and Allie at 6:15 I knew I needed more sleep. I went back to bed until 9:00. I was out on my bike by 10:00 and headed northwest into a light wind. I took the usual route out of town for that direction—Hwy 5 to Hwy 13 to Hwy 101 through Shakopee where I picked up Hwy 212. I rode 212 out west through Chaska and Carver. There’s a nice, long hill as you climb out of Chaska with a 6% grade. Saturday traffic is always busy. The road has a good shoulder but the relentless traffic wears on you after a while. I stopped to take this photo as I left Cologne as I’ve always loved this view looking west out over the wetlands.

Glenco is 50 miles out so I figured I’d head for there and maybe press on another 20 miles before turning around. Hwy 212 west of Norwood/Young America has a very beat up shoulder for 18 miles leading into Glenco. Then I came upon a sign which said, Winsted 16 miles. Hey, I think that’s the town Tammy was born in, I thought to myself. So I turned off 212 onto Hwy 1 in search of the town my wife was born in. What a great road—newly paved and very little traffic. I stopped in Lester Prairie to take on fuel and was back on the road in 5 minutes. I got to Winsted and snapped several photos thinking I’d print them out and send them to Tammy’s folks as they no doubt haven’t been through the town in decades.

I headed back south toward 212 and picked up where I’d left off. I pedaled into Glenco and got a bit to eat at Burger King. I’ll have to remember to find some other place to eat if I’m in a hurry next time. Anyway, I started heading west out of Glenco but there was road work and no shoulder so I figured I’d head back in the direction of home.

The ride was pretty uneventful until I passed Valleyfair. I was talking with Tammy on my cell and I noticed a $20 bill blowing alongside me on the road. I told Tammy to hang on while I grabbed it. As soon as I picked it up I noticed another…then I heard someone yell “That’s my money!” I looked up to see a guy in his mid-30s with two little girls walking along the side of the highway toward me. His car was parked a couple hundred yards further up the road. He told me he’d lost his wallet and could I please help him find it. I gave him the money and said I thought I saw something in the middle of the road back a ways. He waited with his daughters while I rode up to see. Sure enough, it was a wallet all splayed open with traffic driving by it. Traffic stopped and I ran out and got it. I gave it to his daughter as she came up to me thanking me. He told me he’d been praying for an angel and I was that angel. He tried to give me $20 but I told him I was just happy to be able to help. His 8-year-old daughter was so cute…”Give him a tip Daddy…give him a tip.” I assured her that it wasn’t necessary. He gave me a hug and shook my hand. I don’t think the poor guy realized I was 122 miles into a 136-mile ride at that point but he hugged me.

I was planning on riding till 9:00 and going for 180 miles but I thought a better idea might be to call Tammy back and see if she would like to go see Fahrenheit 9/11 at the 7:00pm showing. She said sure but I know she’d really rather not do anything which would put money in Moore’s pocket. I feel the same but I felt it was important to see this movie so I’ll have my opinion to add when the topic comes up on the message boards or at work.

The movie was disappointing. You can read my review following this post. My brother, Bryan is buying (literally and figuratively) the stuff Michael Moore puts out. That’s too bad because I always thought he was more discriminating than that. I added a ‘Politics Anyone?’ category to our family message board and it’s been receiving quite a bit of input. It’s been interesting but a bit frustrating for me. I’m having a difficult time getting Claudia or Bryan to answer my questions directly. I answer theirs but they seem to answer mine with another question.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Review

I saw the movie with my wife tonight. The opening scene of the 2000 presidential election told you pretty much all you needed to know about what you were about to see. Michael Moore has never accepted that Gore lost the election and he will do anything in his power to see that Bush isn’t reelected.

I don’t think you could call this a documentary as there is no balance to what you’re seeing. Let’s face it, there’s a whole lot of video of Bush out there and it isn’t very hard to find clips of him over the years which are unbecoming and then show them in a way so as to convey the image of a bumbling idiot. The film does a nice job of that I’ll agree.

Moore begins to weave a complicated arrangement between the Saudis and the Bush family which either the president is overseeing or isn’t aware exists. I say that because it’s my understanding from listening to the left all these years that Bush isn’t really all that smart and so I suppose he’s incapable of such tangential thinking, the kind of thinking necessary to pull together all these players for the enrichment of a few. You can’t have it both ways, Mike.

The film goes on to describe how the Bush administration gave preferential treatment to the members of Bin Laden family in getting them out of the country just after the attacks on 9/11. If you drank the Koolaid they were serving during the film you would then agree that the Bush family knew that the attacks of 9/11 were going to happen months before they ever did because military contracts were drawn up and brokered just before the attacks which enriched not only the Bush family and their cronies but also the Royal Saudis. Take a big swallow…no no…take some more, there’s plenty here for you.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that just this past week, Richard Clarke stated that the decision to fly the Bin Laden family out of the country was made at his level and never went above him, meaning, the decision did not involve the president as the film would want you to believe.

I was really disappointed at this point and I could sense that Tammy would rather be watching something else but she was doing this for me and so we stayed put. A lot of what I saw is a blur to me now and I know I’m leaving out some things I intended to write about but I’ll press on and see if they come back to me.

The film would want you to believe that life was just like Willaby (next stop, Willaby, for you Twilight Zone enthusiasts) and all was so nice and serene in Baghdad before we came along. People were dancing in the streets, getting married, laughing, frolicking and enjoying life like never before. All was good under Saddam and we should be so lucky to have a leader like that. Then the bombs begin to fall on Baghdad and you’re treated to roughly 30 minutes of perverse war footage. You’re shown soldiers who get pumped up before combat by listening to heavy metal or whatever. They can even listen to it while they’re fighting from their tanks…very surreal for them I’m sure and way cool no doubt. You’re shown soldiers beating down doors of homes in the middle of the night to arrest ‘college students’ who were minding their own business. It’s all one-sided video which if it told the entire story would have me crawling over people to vote for Kerry to get rid of Bush. Fortunately for me, I didn’t drink the Koolaid and I was able to remind myself that there is another side to this story, a side which Mike wouldn’t want you to see. I mean, if Mike were interested in telling the truth he would have found some way to show Saddam at his best…you know, when he was doing the things which earned him the reputation he enjoys today? Mike conveniently leaves all that out as I would imagine it would muddy the waters just a bit.

Anyway, Mike does score a direct hit when he finds a woman from his hometown of Flint, Michigan who supports the war and has a daughter who fought in Desert Storm as well as a son who eventually is called away to Iraq. She describes herself as a conservative Democrat. Mike initially finds her at her job working for the city as a job placement coordinator or some similar position…sorry, I can’t recall. She’s supportive of the president and all his efforts to try and liberate the people of Iraq. Mike is at her house one morning as she walks outside to put her flag up. She’s a very patriotic woman and very proud of her children who have willingly gone to fight for the freedoms we all enjoy. Of course, you can see this coming a mile away and I’m sorry to ruin this for those who haven’t seen the film because it really is the moment for which the movie has been building for the past 2 hours. Oh, you guessed it too? Yes, we’re now gathered in the living room of this patriotic woman and all her family is by her side. She begins to detail how she was watching the news one day hoping to catch a glimpse of her son as he was now in Iraq. Then she heard the reporter say that there was a “Blackhawk down”. She has a restless night and is awoken to a telephone call asking if she was the mother of __________ (sorry, I can’t remember his name). She describes how she fell to the ground and had to crawl…you know what…I’m just gonna leave it here…you get the idea. Tammy was crying and of course, it was tragic as all loss of life is. War isn’t pretty and Mike wasn’t going to let you leave the theater with any belief to the contrary.

He follows this mother to Washington as she wants to go to the Whitehouse to try and rid herself of the grief she’s carrying. He’s got the camera right in her face as she’s sobbing and is overcome with emotion for her dead son. I’m sure Mike isn’t far off with a grin which could kill all over his face. Yes! Payday!

Remember as you watch this movie that all the major players from the Democratic party were supportive of going to war with Iraq. Even Clinton said he supported the war but he would have first wanted the unwavering support of France and Germany. I don’t know that he ever would have gotten that in light of the Oil for Food program and the scandal which surrounds it. Do you suppose the war in Iraq under the leadership of a Democrat would look any different?

One final question since this movie is heavy on the carnage of innocent lives…Do you suppose Mike supports partial-birth abortion? Much of Moore's focus is on the suffering of innocent women and children because of the war. He wants to leave you with the impression that if it weren't for us, all would be wonderful in Iraq. So, with that in mind, seeing as how Moore has such a soft spot in his heart for those who suffer innocently, I wonder if we can expect to see him filming outside an abortion clinic for his next project. Maybe he could follow a woman around who is torn between giving her baby up for adoption or aborting it. He could then go inside and film as the abortion takes place and he could fade the film out with gruesome scenes of body parts being sucked through a vacuum.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I don't buy the argument that Moore is really all that concerned about innocent people dying because if he were he would take on this issue too. Moore's real aim/concern is to discredit Bush and have you believe that Saddam was a leader who presided over a functional, loving and ideal society. Moore uses the war dead and wounded to carry his message of hate for him. Quite a disgusting film at best.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hello Again...It's Been A While, 200 Mile Day

We lost our DSL connection at work a couple months ago and it seems my devotion to my blog went with it. Not that I was posting much but it really dried up to nothing. Anyway, I hope to begin writing with some regularity.

I've been doing some long-distance riding this year in preparation for a single day ride from Lakeville to Tammy's parent's home in Babbitt, Mn—245 miles away. I've done several rides of 110 miles plus but yesterday I did my longest ride ever at 202 miles. I really didn't plan on going that far but when I reached 150 miles and still had 3 hours of daylight left, I figured, why not.

I started out from home at 8:00am and headed out County Rd 5 into Burnsville. It was a beautiful day with a wind out of the southwest at 10 to 15 mph. I headed southwest on Hwy 13, past Valley Fair and into Shakopee. As I was waiting for the light in Shakopee I was thinking about how I love the flags at Perkins restaurants—how they're so majestic and so big. The flag was at half-mast in recognition of Reagan's death; what a good man he was by the way.

I was 20 miles into my ride when my cellphone rang. I kept riding and fumbled with it until I could figure out it was my sister, Claudia. She was concerned because Mom was feeling ill and complaining of a numb lip and terrible indigestion along with a restless night. She had put in a call to my wife, Tammy at work to get some direction as to what to do. Tammy is a nurse in an Alzheimer's wing and extremely overworked. I told her I didn't think we should bother Tammy with this and that if we felt she needed to be seen, we should get her to the hospital. I was 20 miles from home so Claudia rushed over to see her. While she was heading for Mom's I had turned around to see if there was anything I could do. I stopped and phoned Mom to see how she was doing. She answered the phone and said she was talking to Bryan (my brother) long distance and would call me back. I waited a few minutes and stood to look at the field of grass in front of me. I waited for several minutes and called her back. I said that I was concerned about her and that we thought maybe she was in danger of having a stroke. She said absolutely not. She was fine and that she just had a restless night and not to worry. I told her I was on a ride but I could be there if there was anything at all she needed. She assured me that she was fine and to continue my ride...and so I did.

I turned back around and rode Hwy 169 south out of Shakopee. I thought I'd maybe ride to Mankato again as I had an aborted ride there a couple days earlier...on Saturday I was on my way home, riding out of Mankato when Tammy called to say they needed me for overtime at work. She met me in Bell Plaine and drove me home with only minutes to spare to make it to work in time for a 4:00pm shift—but not before I'd put in 110 miles. Anyway, I thought about going to Mankato again but the lure of Hwy 19 got me and I headed west on Hwy 19 and rode it into Henderson.

The winds were getting stronger and I was in desperate need of some fuel so about 5 miles west of Henderson I turned around and went back into town to find something to eat. I spent about 15 minutes off my bike and headed back where I'd come from. I had this nagging feeling that I was going to break another spoke and be stranded and if that were to happen I wanted to be on Hwy 169 so I could thumb a ride easier. Last week I'd planned an all-day ride only to have it ended early after 130 miles by a broken spoke. I've got these very sweet Mavic Ksyrium wheels (pictured to the left) but if you break a spoke you're screwed as the wheels are under a lot of tension and one spoke broken renders the wheels useless. Anyway, I was a bit concerned that I didn't get too far off the beaten path so to speak so I wanted to head back in the direction of home in case I needed to be rescued.

I picked up a tailwind for the first time in the day and found some nice speed on my way back toward home. I picked up Hwy 13 and rode that through Eagan and into St. Paul where I eventually made my way to Hwy 110 and then to Hwy 3. I took Hwy 3 into Farmington and then Hwy 50 into Lakeville. I stopped at Mom's and got a bit to eat and drink. She supports me in my rides but she worries about me. I can always count on her prayers to help see me home safely. It was when I was getting close to Mom's home that I began to think that I could extend my ride to turn it into a 'double century' as it's known in bike-speak.

I headed toward Prior Lake and figured I'd put 25 miles into the wind and then have a push on the way home. I got 20 miles out and I had to stop and take a rest as my feet were getting a bit sore. I laid my bike down and did some stretches and massaged my feet which helped a lot. I got back on my bike after 5 minutes and head toward home. I went to an area which was pretty much void of traffic when I got near home and did several loops on a 1.3-mile circuit till I had enough miles in to reach 200. I got home just as the sun was setting and was so grateful to God for seeing me home safely and giving me the strength to do the miles.

I got home and Tammy had dinner all ready for me; I just had to shower and hit the Whirlpool for a quick recovery bath. I was quite wiped out and made it an early night even skipping my usual glass of wine.