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Monday, February 23, 2015

Bucket List for Sociopaths

We all need to set goals for ourselves, even the most ethically-challenged in our ranks must set their sights towards the horizon…maybe just a little higher so you can see over the walls and barbed wire. Remember, if you don't have a dream then the dream can't come true. Is that also true for nightmares? Here are a few ideas to ponder while waiting for your case to be called.

 1) Carve your name on some ancient monuments like Lord Byron did at the Temple of Poseidon in Greece. It’s easy now because we have power tools.
 2) Hunt down the last of an endangered species. No need to feel guilty as they probably wouldn’t have survived anyway and at least it gave you a sense of accomplishment.
 3) Invade Russia at the beginning of a very cold winter and win!
 4) Become the CEO of a major multi-national company and drive it into bankruptcy.
 5) Run the final 300 yards of a marathon and claim the victory. They’ll soon find out you cheated but those moments of glory are something you will treasure for a lifetime.
 6) Be the first to tell a child that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.
 7) Become addicted to something and then quit just to show how tough you are.
 8) Spoil someone’s surprise party.
 9) Be the youngest person tried as an adult (for you or your offspring).
 10) You believe in the death penalty but your state outlawed it. You do something so heinous that they reinstate it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Vleminckx Friet

Patatas flamencas, French fries, whatever you call them, if they are done right, I'll be there. This place at Conde de Altea #40 is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It's been here for over a year but they told me that before they didn't have a terrace or an inside dining room, something that didn't go over well with the locals who don't have the tradition of ordering food and walking around with it in the street. I'll be back to try some of their other food but for now the fries are enough to keep me very happyI think they should consider a name change as the Dutch is a mouthful and a few vowels short for Spanish speakers (and English speakers as well). I wish them well and would recommend this spot to everyone.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Take My Word for It #311

If you accidentally knock something off your 4th floor balcony on to the sidewalk below never, ever peak over the rail to see the consequences of your stupidity. Unless you’re willing to toss money down after your mistake there’s no way to undo what you did so don’t try; it’s sort of the apartment life version of a hit and run.

I over-watered my plants one morning and looked down on this angry mob queuing up to enter the supermarket. And as far as what happened today replace “over-watered plants” with “dumped a whole bunch of potting soil over the balcony.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Life on Bikes

Mount Rainier 2005
Tiger Mountain, Washington
North Cascades National Park
Seattle on my Cannodale city bike
K2, it cost as much as the car pictured.

K2 on Tiger Mountain, Washington
Valencia, Spain

Orbea Eibar


City cruiser
Valenbisi, the best idea in city living since running water.
Not bad for only 5 days
My New Giant Roam

I live in Valencia, Spain and literally 1K from my front door (in the city center, sort of) I’m in fields with gravel and dirt roads. To get to the mountains it’s a bit of a hump (about 18K, minimum) or a short train ride. I can understand why so many cyclists choose road bikes here but it’s a 50/50 split between road and mountain bikes. Seven days a week you will see dozens, even hundreds of cyclists out on the bike paths on mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes make no sense unless you are doing a lot of really rough trail riding. I’ve owned a full-suspension bike before and it was great but I was riding in the American Pacific Northwest with LOTS of huge mountains with tortuous trails. Valencia lies on a flat coastal plain so a mountain bike makes little sense here. A hybrid or a cyclo-cross is the best way to go in Valencia if you don’t want to go with a racing bike set-up.

My first bike here was an Orbea Eibar which is (was? I don’t know if they still make this model) a hybrid bike with 700c fat wheels and with front suspension. It was a great bike that served me well until it was stolen from the store room of my building. My next bike I picked up on the cheap from a friend, a Trek. This was sort of a mountain bike with 26 inch wheels. I swapped out the knobby tires and put on street slicks so it would be faster on the road.  It was an OK bike but slow. I still have it. Now I have my new Giant Roam, another hybrid with disc brakes and 700c wheels. It’s a lot like my old Eibar and a much better option for the type of riding I do.

I’d say that about 90% of my riding is on pavement, either the street of paved bike trails. I also ride on a lot of gravel or dirt roads out in the country. Sometimes here in Valencia you have to make an unexpected detour across a grove of orange trees or sprint through a sandy trail at the beach, things that would be all but impossible on a racing bike. I keep asking myself if I should have bought a cyclo-cross bike, and specifically this model.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Winter Ain't Over Yet

This sort of crap isn’t news to anyone who lives around here but I like to post weather forecasts so that in preceding years I can look back and see how the winter played out. I have an electric blanket (Thanks, Puri) this year and that will help me through the coldest days of February. I have enough winter cycling clothing to get me through the worst of it as well. My house is completely comfortable, even on the coldest days unlike my last ancient apartment that was like camping in the winter. By the end of the month we will see spring temperatures.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Weight Loss Illusion


Let’s face it, some of us put on a little extra weight during the holidays. Granted, that was months ago but those aren’t the only holidays. Maybe I’m just more festive than most people but I cook a turkey and a ham to celebrate Flag Day (see our free color supplement for the recipe for my Star-Spangled Deep-fried Lard Nuggets). And who has time to go to the gym when there are leftovers to eat? Not me. There are two paths to take when dealing with holiday overindulging: either lose weight or cover up. It’s the classic “less ass or more pants” dilemma.

If you’re still reading this instead of…I don’t know, training for a marathon, then you simply want to look thinner. The easiest way to pull this off is to wear dark clothes, and when I say dark I mean pitch black everything, even underwear that people can’t see. You need to find clothes as dark as any intergalactic black hole in which all light is trapped and killed mercilessly. Wearing black clothes obscures the contours of your body. Then you need to stand next to a black background to further extinguish your contrasts. To take this one step further you should only leave home on nights when there is no moon.

Any magician will tell you the importance in misdirection when hiding anything. If David Copperfield can make the Statue of Liberty disappear I should be able to disguise my little “muffin top,” although an ex-friend recently described it as a “mushroom cloud.”  All you need to do is distract people from noticing your bulges by creating a diversion, and by “diversion” I think you need something a little more powerful that shouting “hey, is that Elvis Presley?” every time you need to move around in public. Check out our free color supplement for how to induce a devastating earthquake using normal household cleaning products.

Or maybe it’s not me? Maybe it’s you, you judgmental body image bully, and by “you” I mean every aspect of our popular culture that screams out for everyone to be young and thin…at least those who dare to appear in public.  If only all of our flaws were apparent to the world like a weight problem. What if every time you left your house people could see that you were among the shameful group of 23% of Americans who haven’t read a book in the past year? Or what if we gave everyone a map of the world, made them try to write the name of each country on the map, and then made them wear it around their neck for the rest of the week? Maybe then we wouldn’t be so hyper-critical of those who are carrying a few extra pounds. Seriously, you can’t find India on a map?