Sunday, June 29, 2008

Man, I love summer

Rank of seasons by order of awesomeness
1. Summer
2. Spring
3. Fall

9. Winter

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tour de Jersey

Despite the fact that Will Bike For Food didn't come together for this summer, I've still been trying to bike as much as possible. I've been getting out for 10-15 mile rides after works and some longer ones on the weekends. Looking back on it, trying to organize a 3,000+ mile ride without ever having gone on a trip longer than 30-40 miles might not have been the most reasonable idea, for whatever its worth.

This past weekend I took my longest ride yet, a 53 journey through the congested state of New Jersey from Cranford to Normandy Beach. From one Grandparent's house to the other. It was a beautiful day, 70degrees, sunny. Outside of a 10 mile stretch in and around Perth Amboy, the trip was fantastic and was pretty smooth sailing. I cruised into Normandy in about 3 and a half hours, averaging about 17mph while stopping twice to refuel. I figure if I can cover this type of ground in about half a day, with some more experience and strength, some more ambitious adventures are definitely going to be within reach.

New Jersey is a relatively flat state, not too many hills, and the ones I did encounter were more of the long, gradual type. I thought that the notorious traffic of NJ might put a damper on the ride, but for the most part, it really wasn't a factor at all. As long as there is a decent shoulder on the road (at least 5 feet), assholes flying by in cars don't really effect me too much.

Overall, I had a great time on the ride. There is something liberating in being able to move yourself from point A to point B without having to rely on something bigger than yourself (car, train, plane). I felt free in knowing that I was able to take on this excursion entirely by myself from start to finish. No matter whether its finishing a tough sudoku, running a 2mile, figuring out how to illegally split cable from your neighbors house, , or bike to the beach, the gratification in finding a way to accomplish a task and following through on it until completion is a great feeling.

I'm looking to take my next longer ride from Cranford,NJ to Central Valley, NY, most likely in late July. Its going to be about 61 miles, most likely more rural roads. In the mean time, I want to try to get into a little better shape. My legs actually didn't bother me at all until the last 5-10 miles, and even then it really didn't hinder the ride at all. My lower back started tightening up about halfway down from a combination of carrying my backpack and not having prepared myself for being in a riding position for 3-4 hours.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blow it up

I just heard about this whole "terrorist fist jab" business. The Fox News Channel operates under the guise of "fair and balanced" reporting. However, anyone watching this channel should be able to recognize the slant and unmistakably biased reporting that goes on there. They hardly even try to conceal their objectives of promoting an extremely conservative and Republican-friendly agenda.

I found this while reading about this fist jab fiasco
For example, NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell apologized on Monday on MSNBC Live for describing Bristol, Virginia -- a place where Obama was campaigning -- as "real redneck, sort of, bordering on Appalachia country." In late May, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta apologized for joking that Obama should be assassinated, along with Osama Bin Laden. In February, conservative Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly apologized for saying that he "didn't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's hard evidence, hard facts that say this is how the woman really feels." And in January, MSNBC political pundit Chris Matthews apologized for charging that Hillary Clinton only managed to win office of any kind because she played the sympathy card as a victim of her husband's infidelities.
These Fox News personalities inject their little digs and cheap shots out of one side of their mouth while pretending to present the current events of the day. Even though all of the people mentioned above apologized for the comments on which they were called out, their sentiments and true feelings are easy to see.

I have no desire to get into the problems of media bias and the unsuspecting public who eats this kind of fear mongering, racist and inflammatory bullshit up with a spoon. I just wonder if there can be some way to officially label the Fox News channel as clearly nothing more than brainless entertainment for the ignorant masses, as opposed to a reputable news source which it parades itself as.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rise above

What initially drew me to Obama was his insistence on the need to change the political makeup and dealings in our government. No more "Politics as usual", which served to describe Hillary Clinton, the current administration, and pretty much the entire recent history of politics in our country.

Too much corruption, influence by special interests, irresponsibility and incompetence. Barack was going to be bringing something new, something fresh. There were going to be no attack ads, no negative campaigning, no divisiveness from this movement. He was going to conduct a campaign without stooping to the level of his opponents.

Surely this was a good thing right? It sounded great. Rise above the usual pettiness and bullshit that American politics has been known for. However, as much as Obama has tried to run a squeaky clean campaign, it was all but inevitable that there would be road bumps and different unexpected challenges. Reverend Wright. Michigan and Florida. Clowns on FOX news bringing up his middle name, Hussein, as if it should disqualify him from serving as President. Here for more media bullshit.

What I'm trying to get to is the fact that no matter how hard Barack tried to run a different campaign, there are going to be people who try to drag his name through the mud, dig up any dirt they can on him and find, however minuscule, chinks in his armor. The ideal way to face this type of garbage would be to ignore it, focus on policy, work to reach out to as many constituents as possible and just rise above the triviality of it all. However, if you try to do this and act in a dignified and classy way by not even addressing these things that have somehow passed for 'news'.

If you don't respond and attack back, you are considered weak. If you don't address these ridiculous statements that the media blows up, it makes you look as if you have something to hide. I am too young and inexperienced to proclaim myself as some expert of how government should be run, but it seems to me that if we had a chance to redesign an ideal political system, it would look significantly different than what we have today.

The focus needs to be on which candidate can best help our country and serve the most people. Who can best address the problems in our economy, health care system, education, environment, foreign policy and other areas that are in dire need of attention?

In our current culture of 24 hour news channels and people eating up and demanding the most sensational news stories, it seems to be tough to get every voter to focus on the key factors during this critical election year. Are American voters intelligent enough to recognize and understand how different policy choices effect our country and our citizens lives? Hope lies in the feeling that people are fed up enough with the current state of affairs to try to change things AND still somehow believe that we have the power to change things.

Monday, June 2, 2008

You just had to go and open your big mouth

Taking a nice long sip of iced tea after a coming in from a refreshing bike ride around Cranford, I switched on the TV to see what was going on with the Yankees game.

5-4 Yanks in the bottom of the 7th at Minnesota. Petite was still pitching and had only thrown 89 pitches thus far. The old man's still got it. He gets Casilla to ground out to Cano for the 2nd out of the inning. And then all of a sudden...

"Petite sure is looking good tonight. He's thrown 90 pitches and 60 of them for strikes, a good ratio...Maybe its not such a crazy idea to send him out there for the 8th with Joba pitching tomorrow, give their bullpen a break... Andy's had leads of 2-0, 4-1 and now 5-4 tonight, we'll see if he can hold on to this one now."

At this point I'm starting to get nervous. Color commentators have never really done it for me (with the obvious exception of the eloquent and always entertaining Walt 'Clyde' Frazier). They are usually lacking in genuine insight and are just plain dull. However, standing in the kitchen, watching the YES network, I start to get a bad feeling. As much as I might not like to admit it, I tend to be a little superstitious. Watching Super Bowl XLII, I held onto the same beer bottle long after I had emptied its contents simply because it had been in my hand when the Giants marched down the field earlier in the 4th quarter and scored on Tyree's catch. I do believe in jinxes. I do believe in a lucky pair of boxers. When something works, go with it until it doesn't anymore. Especially with something as fragile as the Yankees 2008 season. At this point, the franchise might careen into the abyss if someone sneezes at the wrong time.

So back to the story, I'm standing there, staring at the screen while topping myself off with another round of iced tea when I hear this,
"Andy Petite has yet to give up a home run to a left handed hitter so far this year... Incredibly Joe Mauer has yet to get in the HR column"

Not 15 seconds later Mauer rockets a pitch on the inside of the plate into the right field stands. Now, would this have happened if these numb nuts hadn't said anything? Who knows. Its as if there is some slumbering jinx monster in the room and by saying something as stupid as this, he is going to wake up and punish you by fucking over your team. This is exactly why no one talks to a pitcher in the late innings of a no-hitter or perfect game. Its why when your team has been perfect from the foul line all game, you don't say something like "Man...have we missed a foul shot tonight? We're on fire!". The universe is a fickle mistress, try not to upset her.