Tuesday, July 31, 2007

See, office life can be fun. Just lower your expectations a little and the fun rolls in!

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DVRPC Social Club is hosting a Miniature Golf Tournament !
Greetings Staff:
What's more fun than mini-golf? Hmmm. I can only think of one thing... that's right, competitive single-elimination match-play mini-golf with your cheerful co-workers in lovely Franklin Square! Are you getting excited yet? DVRPC Social Club and Wells Fargo are sponsoring the first annual William Penn Open. It works like this: all those interested in participating will be entered into one of four Mini-Golf Madness brackets: Bacon, McCarg, Furness and Jacobs. Competitors will be randomly paired (no seedings, Karen C. and Rich) with a co-worker, and then it will be time to go for the green. It works like a standard single-elimination tournament -- winners move on, losers go home. Kapeesh?
Eventually, the winner of each bracket will go head-to-head in no-holds barred combat for the coveted Franklin Cup. The semi-finals and finals will be televised on ESPN 8, "The Ocho." A champion will be crowned, a parade will be held, and one lucky competitor will hoist the Franklin Cup. In addition to the Franklin Cup, the winner and runner-up will receive handsome cash (or cash-equivalent) prizes (seriously), an endorsement deal with Spalding, a one year tour exemption, and a truck-load of dredge spoils.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Though I have long professed to hate soap operas, my favorite sport is nothing short of that. Not only do we have intrigue and mayhem on the international stage, the Tour de France was littered with the stuff that smutty paperbacks are made of, but even among the mediocre talent of the Philadelphia bicycling community, there are tales of intrigue galore.

So and so said this...

He doesn't know how to ride, he's a goddam menace...

He said that he'd work for me in the race, but he just sat on and then sprinted for the line...

Just last week, a couple of folks that I train with were out on our standard morning ride around a loop in Fairmount park. There is often a group of 30 something women led by a guy who used to be on my club. They ride at a casual pace, and much to our dissatisfaction, often 4 abreast. We've had incidents before in which some of our group has nearly been taken out by some of their group, and last Tuesday we decided to discuss this particular point, as we had on the previous week.

As it turns out, Kevin (the guy who used to be on my club) isn't really fond of criticism of his ride and blew up in spectacular, purple, cursing form at the suggestion that he wasn't leading his ride with respect to us. This somehow led to a threat to one of my teammates, James.

"James, you sonofabitch, you don't have the balls to ride against me! Come out Tuesday if you're any kind of man! I'm not stupid, I've got a triple-digit IQ! Come near me again and I'll ride you into a ditch!"

While James is sometimes obnoxious, and has an uncanny ability to push buttons, there was no real call for this personal threat, particularly coming from a psychologist (no, I'm not kidding).

In the end, I stepped in as the mediator and calmed down the blustering Kevin. Fortunately, my 3rd Grade Junior Resolvers training took over and by carefully avoiding "you statements" I was able to save the day.

Sometimes I miss running. At least there, the competition is primarily with the clock. Those who are better than you go faster, those worse, slower. Plus, it's harder to run your mouth when running a 6:45 mile than when sitting 5th wheel back.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Casual Friday is totally sweet. I never thought that I'd be into office parties or things of that nature, but there is something to be said for them. I think that with the desk job, there is little unstructured interaction, and the office get-together is really the ideal situation to put that back into the work day. Friday we had our end of fiscal year party, which included an all staff meeting, and a lunch cruise on the Delaware River. Now, the Delaware near Philadelphia and Camden is not what I'd call a "scenic river", unless you consider oil refineries and dockyards to be scenic. We take what we can get in Philly.

It was good to socialize with some of the other interns and folks who work at DVRPC, there are actually a number of cool folks, unfortunately they're cool folks that I never get to talk to in my daily affairs. I think that in the future I'll look for a somewhat smaller office where people are a bit more collaborative...yeah that's the ticket!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Well, bike racing is a mixed bag. Yesterday I lined up for the Faulkner Honda Criterium in lovely Hummelsville PA. The course was super sweet; very technical with 8 corners and 2 chicanes in each lap of a little less than a mile. Not being the absolute best of cornerers, I was a little bit apprehensive as I started the first race of the day, the Category Pro-1-2-3 race which included a couple of elite level riders from Massachusetts and a number of other local strong men. I had lined up with a couple of teammates and our basic plan was just to stick like glue to the fast guys and see how the rest of it went. I was doing all right, but the pace through the corners was fast enough that I got gapped at pretty much every turn, meaning that I had to accelerate eight times per lap and then try to make up for lost ground on the two straight sections. It was challenging to say the least, though I was able to handle myself pretty well despite it all. After about 10 or 15 laps ( it was a 41 lap race) I started pedaling too soon while coming out of a corner and hit the edge of my pedal on the asphalt, bouncing my rear wheel up and sideways. When it came down I must have dislodged the tire from the rim because I felt a "whump whump whump BANG" as my tire blew. Since I had not brought a spare set of wheels, I was kind of out of luck, no chance for me to get back in with the group. Fortunately for me, Art Miller of the International Christian Cycling Club had also found himself out of the race and gave me a tube and loaned me a spoke wrench to get my wheel back in order. I guess he didn't notice the Flying Spaghetti Monster logo on the back of my jersey.

Fortunately enough, I had registered for both the Category 3-4 race as well, and lined up about an hour later with a larger, but hopefully less intimidating group of riders. The pace was very much the same as the first race, attacks out of each corner, with accelerations and crazy bike handling through the sharp turns and the chicanes. I knew with a group as large as this that I'd have to stay in the front if I wanted a chance at a good result. With three laps to go, things started to get a little crazy as everyone tried to jockey for position among the final 20 or so guys who managed to stay on the main group out of the initial 60. Coming through the last lap I knew that I had to make a move to the front or be doomed in the single-file turns and corners of the rest of the course, so I sprinted quickly up to third place as one of the riders from the hometown team hammered it home, thinking that I was one of his teammates. This worked out PERFECTLY for me as I was able to keep a constant 3rd wheel throughout the final lap. I heard crashes behind me, always an ugly sound, but fortunately I was able to maintain my ideal position through the whole lap, until the final corner when my "lead out guy" peeled off and I gunned it for home. Somehow, due to the complexity of the course and the result of my frustrating and abbreviated first race, I was able to sprint in for the win. This is by far the best win I've had in cycling, I played it smart and I beat a large field on a challenging course, which went a long way to erasing the doubts about shelling out $30 per race every weekend.
Blogging takes a back seat when you're working hard to be the best tour guide in South Philly. My parents spent an enjoyable stint here from the 23rd to the 30th of June, and in the course of the week, ate cheese steaks, hoagies and real steaks; saw the Liberty Bell, the Empire State Building, Chinatown, lots of street garbage and crazy people and went on a brewery tour. Oh yeah, they also painted and fixed our house, and spent a whole day slaving away in 95 degree heat while I sat in air conditioned comfort at my office. It was good.

My parents were even able to watch one of my bike races in scenic suburban New Jersey. I attempted to be entertaining, but it was a tall order on a flat race with 45 other guys who had the same idea. I ended up finishing about 15th but might have done better had I not been slapped in the face by a tree branch on the last lap. That was a little distracting.

My dad and I also did a fabulous "father-son bike ride" through some of the nicer roads in the wealthy Philly suburbs. It worked out well as we were able to stop by and climb the famous Manyunk Wall, a 1 kilometer long 17% grade climb that is featured every year in the professional bike race that runs through town. It's a gut buster, but we persevered and finally did once what the pros do 14 times in the race, twice as fast. Oh well. I guess we need to start doping.

For their anniversary, we cooked up a beef tenderloin that Jennifer scored at the local supermarket. $6 a pound for delicious super tasty beef was a hell of a deal. Dad decided that he would add some of his personal flair to the salt crust that we baked it in.

Sadly, I don't think I've got any pictures of Mom, she was always behind the camera and if I did get a shot of her, it would probably have been of her painting the back bedroom, or the bathroom, or cleaning, or potting some plants or other housework that I told her not to do, but dammit, she did anyway. That was sure TERRIBLE.


In other news, the prayers to Saint Felicula must have worked, either that or the Philly Water Department actually did their job. Due to the fact that our house is on a private (read old and decrepit) sewer, they were reluctant to fix the problem as it is "not part of the Philly water system" and was created before the official lines were installed. At any rate they came out just before my parents arrived and were able to fix the "choke" in the line that was flooding our basement with sewage. The upshot: no more water leaking into the basement!! It's fabulous. I no longer have to wear galoshes to go to the washing machine, the mold has stopped proliferating and life is good.

Also good, Jennifer recently was promoted to the post of Assistant Research Associate from the lowly rank of Research Assistant. This means that she is now the highest ranking person on her staff without an advanced degree and has received a hefty pay raise to boot. She's my sugar-mama for sure!

Getting back to the working world was rough last week, thank god for the Fourth of July which nicely broke up my grueling schedule of 9-5 with half hour lunch break. Such a life.