Quick corollary to yesterday's post: When spring does finally get here, I'll be welcoming it astride this carbon beauty. (Wearing clothes.) I've just been informed by NYC Velo, my team's supporting shop, that my brand-new Scott CR-1 will be here and ready for me to ride in about a month. Are you as excited as I am? Probably not.
Tops from the week:
1) One month to CR-1!!
2) Velo News... and yes, you can expect to see this in the top-five list all month!
3) Cocktail party Jews... my best Divine Caroline essay yet!
4) Giuliani's departure from the GOP race. Thank God we don't have to worry about that anymore.
5) This Chamillionaire spoof. Too funny.
Bottoms from the week:
1) Leaky kitchen sink... sorry downstairs neighbors!
2) Trying to keep this damn apartment clean.
3) Life 2.0. Not the post, it's impact on my life.
4) Cold weather.
5) Politicians who don't return my phone calls. Again, this is likely to be another staple on the bottom five list.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
In fact, it is.
It was a warm May afternoon, and some people decided to go for a run.
You might recall that back toward the end of November I was really distraught about winter and the colder temperatures it had brought. Then I came to terms with winter. It started snowing, and I went skiing and hiking up in the Adirondacks. I even got Becky on cross country skis a couple times.
Then the snow melted and I was able to ride outside once or twice. I got into a good rhythm of work, eating, spinning and writing, with a little sleep thrown in here and there. Basically, I got used to winter, and it wasn't so bad. But that was a month ago. Lately, I've been bitten by the spring bug. Today, the yearning was so palpable that when I looked outside and saw sunshine, I actually convinced myself that by some miracle, spring had come early. I went outside without a jacket.
I quickly went back inside. It was about 25 degrees. Sunny, but still 25 degrees.
There is still snow on the ground here in Saratoga Springs, and it looks like a wintry mix is in the forecast for Friday, and yet, all I want to do is strip off my clothes and participate in that age-old tradition of spring, The Naked Run, an event that symbolizes freedom and the time of year when sweaters and warm hats are no longer necessary. At least to anyone who attended Skidmore College.
Do you see me?
Hint: I'm not wearing any panties.
Perhaps if we held the naked run now, it magically become spring?
Anyway, the Naked Run is a Skidmore tradition. Traditionally, it was celebrated on the Friday of parent's weekend in the fall semester, but lately it's been moved to the end of the spring semester, in a move to appease the administration. Of course, smaller bands of merry men (and a few women) still practice it in the fall, to the cheers of visiting parents, and cringes of students, but the big show is in the fall.
Legend has it that members of the Skidmore Outing Club wanted to run around naked, so they contrived the naked run as a fund raising drive, and donated the proceeds to local conservation organizations. It is a fund raiser born of a desire to be naked.
I participated in four naked runs in my day. When else, I reasoned, would I be able to celebrate spring (or fall) by running around naked in public with a slim chance of facing any consequences. Of course, there was that one time that Tom and Scott and I got stranded in a parking lot without any clothes when a plan to have Travis and Molly (Tom's then-girlfriend), meet us went horribly awry. I don't think my heart ever beat faster than it did when we were crouched behind a parked car, hiding from a police car (not campus po, the real thing). But in the end, we escaped with our clothes, but no dignity. Ah spring!
Anyway, I'm hoping that it will son be warm enough to at least strip off my leg-warmers and jacket when I go riding. I don't see the naked run being in the cards for me this years, since I'm no longer a Skidmore student and all. Perhaps I'll got watch. But I thought you might enjoy the photos all the same.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Becky and I made some great strives tonight toward cleaning up our apartment tonight. The giant pile of recycling that had been occupying about three quarters of our kitchen. In other news, yet another of my original works has just been posted on Divine Caroline. You can surf over and read it here.
Again, frequent blog readers might recognize the foundation of this story. It's all about a common bond, a bond rooted in history, blood, and, above all, the undeniable commandment to bail out the fellow tribesman stuck in an awkward cocktail party situation.
Here's a shout-out to Tom, a very close friend, and one of my most dedicated readers. he's about 6.5 hours away from getting on a plane for Hawaii for the next few months. Have a great time Tom, I'll miss you!
Finally, here's an article from the Wall Street Journal that serves as a nice corollary to last Wednesday's post on Lance Armstrong. Now he's sold out his charitable foundation.
Anyway, click on over to Divine Caroline, enjoy, and please let me know what you think! See you tomorrow...
Monday, January 28, 2008
We're gonna try something new tonight. I'm going to live blog President Bush's seventh and final state of the union address.
In general, I'm more interested in live-blogging bike races and TV shows I don't like, but I think tonight represents a great opportunity to try this format out for the first time. Bush will talk. I will write. I will combine things he said, with things I think and/or know and with things happening in the room around him. Hopefully, I'll be able to insert some snark in here and there.
Oh, and in case you didn't already know, I don't like George W. Bush. At all. So the snark will be targeted at him.
I got home late from work, so everything was a little behind schedule. I listened to the beginning of the speech while Becky and I ate a delicious Mexican-themed meal that she cooked, and now I'm plopped down on the futon to watch -- and blog -- the rest of the speech.
So far, he's reminded us how important his stimulus package is, said that he will veto any bills that come to him with "excessive" earmarks (for the record, republicans have quadrupled earmarks, while Democrats cut theirs, but I don't think anyone told Bush that). He also said that we have to pursue alternate energy sources because it would be good for our economy. No mention that our environment is in grave danger, and still a strange thing for an oil man to say in his address.
I'll insert a paragraph break every time there is a break for applause.
We're starting in about 20 minutes into the speech.
So far he's said "empower" about 37 times.
Yes, increase research in physical science... everything except stem cells.
Oh, wait, I jumped the gun... he does want stem cells. Apparently they're ok, as long as they don't lead to (or come from) abortions.
Ah now he's calling that medical research ethical, implying that abortions are not ethical.
Even better... he's just grouped "buying," "selling," and "cloning" human life into the same category. Don't quite see where he's coming from on that one.
Well, he's just thrown the separation of church and state out the window by backing further funding for faith-based initiatives.
Now he's praising his judicial nominees. Your judicial nominees are being delayed because they have no experience dumbass.
Americans have volunteered for charitable organizations in record numbers... because the government is doing less for the needy. And now he's pushing for more faith-based initiatives.
He's talking about the importance of social security. We can't afford social security unless we raise taxes, and we cant do that because republicans don't like taxes. I want to reform those programs, but I don't know how, so I'm asking you... good job Bush, couldn't you have asked for help with Iraq as well?
Immigration. We need to secure our boarders, and "deploy" fences. Someone got their word choice wrong on that one. We've doubled boarder patrol agents. We are now practicing "catch and release" initiatives. Are Mexicans like fish now? Are we upstream of Mexico? Well, actually, I suppose we are.
At least he recognizes that we do need immigrants.
We need to confront enemies abroad. Our foregin policy is based on a clear plan: we know that people will choose liberty and democracy... what we're not sure of is if they would want democracy enforced only under our guns. Here's his list of successes: Georgia, Afghanistan. What Bush, no Iraq? I thought you declared victory back in 2003.
Going to deliver justice to his personal ... oops, I mean our national ... enemies.
we're building new roads in Afghanistan, and little boys and girls are going to school. But we're going to send even more marines there anyway. Hmm... is it really safe for little Muhammed to go to school?
Here comes the report on the troop surge in Iraq. The Iraqi people saw more and more of our forces in their country. They saw improved security? really? There's still a car bomb every other day.
I think Pelosi is reading an email on her blackberry. "Congratulations! You've won an Ebay auction for an autographed copy of 'My Life,' by William Jefferson Clinton."
We must fight the militias in Iraq. Al Queda is searching for safe passage out of the country? Really? I guess Bush hasn't been reading the paper lately.
Surge forces are beginning to come home ... many in body bags.
Oh... now he's going to speak directly to the troop. "you've done everything we've asked of you and more.... we make you a solemn pledge that you will have all you need to help protect our nation." Funny... I keep reading stories in the paper about soldiers' mothers sending their sons shit the gov't wont buy them. Incidentally, Silly String is apparently a hot item.
Oh wait... now he's blaming any missing materials on congress.
Yup... Pelosi is definatly reading something. I think it might be a Cosmo, the one with skinny blond woman on the cover. Cheney is reading over her shoulder... looking pretty bored, and apparently looking for tips on dealing with split ends.
We're binging some troops home, and we won't replace them, but I only did this to appease all of the people who don't like me. Congress, we must not bring any more troops home. I swear, he actually said this.
Progress in the provinces must be marked by progress in Bagdhad. So... now we're going to extend the green zone, build a giant wall around the whole damn country if we have to.
Oh... now we won't rest until this enemy is defeated. We also stand against the forces of extremism in the holly land... Memphis, TN.
Condi looks like she's going to take someone's head off. Not because of the speech, it's just her general look.
Wow... I don't know who that is, but they must have dug him up out of Arlington for this... guy needs some meat on his bones.
Now bush is saying that Israelis and Palestinians should live in peace. Well no shit. Why didn't anyone else think of that. I guess it's easy to settle thousands of years of grudges.
And now, what we've all been waiting for: declaration of war on Iran. He's telling the people of Iran that they are not free. "American will confront those who threaten out troops, we will stand by our allies, and defened our vital interest in the Persian Gulf." Kind of goes against what he's said about reducing dependency on foreign oil.
Now he's saying that we're lucky that we haven't had any attacks on our soil since 9/11. Well, that's true. But Mr. President, please knock on some wood!
Congress must pass legislation to support companies "believed to have" helped America fight terror? What the hell does that mean?!
Pelosi just hit Bush over the head with her Cosmo.
"America opposes genocide in Sudan." I wonder how long they had to kick that one around the west wing.
We are a compassionate people, we increased funding for veterans by 95%, mostly because I'm a veteran, sort of. As we reform funding we must also make sure that we meet the needs of a new generation, because we know that not all veterans are as fit as me.
Military families also sacrifice. OK, thanks for pointing out the obvious.
Now he wants soldiers to give up their own education benefits... and pass it on to their spouces and kids. Afterall, what's a soldier need an edumacation for? Why not fund all their educations.
Wow! That woman's eyes are so blue!
Whoops... stumbled on "articles of confederation."
If we trust the people, the state of our union will remain strong... that's why I've called on congress to extend the Patriot act, to continue spying on the people, as I stated earlier.
And we're out. Pelosi had to elbow Cheney to get him to wake up and shake Bush's hand.
Pelosi's smiling because it's Bush's last state of the union. Cheney is frowning because he's been woken up from his nap.
Here comes what I call the "blue carpet," as Bush exits down the central aisle.
He's signing autograhs! What is this a rock show? I just threw up.
And it took him 5-6 minutes to walk to the door. Not even Angelina Jolie could take that much time to cruise the red carpet.
Man, it's a good thing he brought a pen for all those autographs.
Oh man! I'm glad I stayed tuned in. Bush just broke out some pigeon Spanish! I think he said "Hello, my name is George" to a woman form Cuba.
Now we're slapping hands... so much class.
Wow... now he's signing a hat. So, the room is pretty much empty now, but there's still a scrum of ass-lickers surrounding him.
And I'm out. At least he didn't try to subvert the constitution by proposing that he stay in office for another 4-12 years.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Web 2.0 transformed the internet in 2004, and I suppose it was only a matter of time before it transformed the way we live as well.
In 2.0 we can read the news, and voice our own views on it to share with other readers. We can post photos, and even videos, or our own creation and for the whole world to see. Think you've got a creative idea? Let the world be the judge. We can network using powerful utilities that pull together people with similar interests but disparate geography. We chat via instant message with friends from all parts of our varied lives. We even get to be experts on our own reader-written reference collections.
With 2.0, publishing has never been easier. Anyone with a keyboard and an internet feed can publish whatever strikes their fantasy. The blogosphere caters to every possible niche interest for readers and writers alike.
But for all of its wonders, I've recently realized that we've also lost something with 2.0. We give up the choice of participation, and we give up our privacy. I joined Facebook in 2004, when it first became available to me school (Remember that? When facebook was only available at certain schools?) Now, anyone who doesn't have a profile is a bit odd. And that's just the beginning. Obviously everyone out there has one or two email addresses. And if you're the shutter-bug type, you've likely got an account with Flickr or Picasa. If you're an aspiring writer (like me), you've got a blog, probably on WordPress or Blogger. And it's all out there for anyone to consume: your friends, your family, your mail carrier, your professor, your boss and coworkers, the person who files your credit card payment. Anyone who knows your name can plug it into google and see what comes up.
For the sake or promoting yourself, this is a good thing. For the sake of maintaining the kind of duplicitous life that was once possible, it's bad. My parents could, had they held less demanding jobs, or been of a different mindset, left their work at work. As far as I could tell, their employers knew little of what they did outside of the office, and probably couldn't have cared, as long as they obeyed the law. Well that's all out the window now.
I was recently talking with another blogger about how keeping a blog lulls you into a senses of privacy and security. Sure, I know that people read my blog. Sometimes they even comment on it, but what I forget is that perfect strangers are out there reading it (right now) too.
It's all really out there, for everyone and anyone, and suddenly "home" and "work" become inextricably merged. I've often been outspoken on the the evils of anonymity on the internet, but now I understand. One of the worst outcomes of web 2.0 is that at times, adopting an alias might be the only way to truly separate various parts of your life.
And on a happier note, go out and buy Velo News, on sale Monday... look for my byline on P. 24!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Yes, that's right, Velo News, the Journal of Competitive Cycling, has published my very first nationally-distributed print article! Clearly, I'm pretty excited about this, and hope that it will be the first of many more articles by me in Velo News and similar publications!
My article, which appears on page 24 of the Jan. 28 issue of Velo News (Vol. 37, #02), is about the challenges posed to organizers of junior bicycle racing in the United States in the wake of doping scandals in professional cycling. Velo News was even kind enough to run my head shot with my article, so the whole country will now know what a good looking guy I am!
The magazine, which features Jonathan Vaughters and Team Slipstream/Chipotle on the cover, will hit news stands next week, and subscribers will receive their copy any day now!
Although I originally intended the article as an objective look at the state of junior cycling, the editors decided it would play better as an editorial, so they changed my words around a little bit, and ran my article next to an article by Steve Johnson, the CEO of USA Cycling, cycling's governing body in the United States. Johnson argues an opposite point, that junior cycling has many hurdles, but doping among professionals is not one of them. It makes for quite the good read.
The article is not available online, so you'll have to visit the news stand to check it out. As always, I'd love to hear everyone's feedback on the article, and thanks for reading!! Now back to the weekly top and bottom five:
Tops from the week:
1) Velo News
2) Velo News
3) Riding the frozen Battenkill-Roubaix course on Saturday. And keeping my toes.
4) My 4-hour DVD of the 2003 Tour de France. Made spinning for three hours on Wednesday a lot fun!
5) Covering the state budget on Tuesday and Wednesday. The biggest story I've covered so far at The Saratogian.
Bottoms from the week:
1) Dennis Kucinich. Come on! Couldn't you have waited a couple more weeks?! Now who am I going to vote for in the primary?
2) Tuesday's snow. Sent slush up my pant legs.
3) The fact that it's still winter. Why can't it be spring already!
4) No spigot to hose my bike off with when things get muddy.
5) Heath Ledger's death. What a tragedy.
Alright, that's all for this week... now go out and buy Velo News!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
If it were, it would be a road.
notice that it is paved.
Under no circumstances should this be called a trail.
I've recently become in a citizen's movement here in Saratoga Springs to persuade the county government to construct a path for recreation above a water line that they are in the process of constructing. The 26-mile line will run from the Hudson River near Moreau State Park all the way to Round Lake, in southern Saratoga County.
The ambitious and expensive water project is the source of much controversy here in Saratoga Springs, but one thing is certain: it would be really cool if we could have a 26-mile recreation path following the course of the water line, creating a trail that could be walked, or biked, or run, or horse-back-ridden, from one end of the county to the other. I have a hard time imagining the folks who will be opposed to that.
Last week, I attended a meeting of the ad-hoc group that is pushing this project through, a group comprised of local engineers, politicians and bicycle advocates. When the subject of the proposed path's surface came up, I was surprised by some of what I hread. "Well clearly it should be paved," said the politician.
Hmm... I thought. I suppose that paving a path like that makes sense for families with small children who want to go for bike rides as a family, and would even to increase the appeal for cyclists in general. But what is it about humanity that gives us this tendency to pave nature? Here is a trail that will wind a serpentine course through the county, near roads in some places, and in the woods in other places, and crossing two state parks. Why pave it? Why not leave it as a dirt track, so that users can feel the soft dirt under their feet, and come home from an excursion on the path with a little dust on them. Why do we have to turn this path into a miniature road?
As a new member of the committee sitting with people who had been working on the project for some time, I didn't feel comfortable offering my opinion, and anyway, it was soon clear that there wasn't nearly enough money to pave even a small piece of the 26-mile trail, so we decided, at least for now, to leave it as dirt.
The situation got a little more absurd earlier this evening when I attended one of Saratoga's bi-weekly Planing Board meetings. I was there in my capacity as a reporter, so I certainly wasn't going to say anything to the board, but at some point during the agenda, an item pertaining to a proposed sub-division came up for discussion.
A part of the proposal was a "trail" that would allow residents to talk behind their neighbor's backyards. Now, the way this suburban subdivision was laid out, with driveways and garages facing a circular street, it was painfully obvious that this path would hardly ever be used. But that not withstanding the topic of conversation soon turned to the path's surface, and before I could say "asphalt," the board and the applicant were discussing paving the path.
Forgive me if this is just a suburban thing, but where I come from, a paved place where pedestrians walk is called a 'sidewalk.' 'Path' goes either way. It can be a dirt path through the woods, or it can be a paved place for people to recreate. A 'trail' is a place for hiking or biking in the woods. A trail is not paved. As far as I can tell, this is rhetorical mumbojumbo for an age in which greenwashing is the norm. Who wouldn't want to buy a home in a subdivision with a scenic trail in the back yard?
Yeah, good luck finding the trail.
So you can go ahead and have your so-called trails in the woods, but I'm going to be working behind your back to call a stone a stone, a house a house, and a sidewalk a sidewalk.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It's recently been brought to my attention that some readers misconstrued parts of this blog entry. Please understand that I, in no way, meant to imply that I hold the Troy Record in higher regard than my own newspaper, The Saratogian. I've only read The Record once or twice, and have still not really met anyone who works there. I'm in no position to judge, and given that I work tirelessly for The Saratogian, it would be foolish for me to even harbor such a thought.
The point of Tuesday's post was to express how much I enjoyed seeing a different newspaper, that was at once similar (same computer system, same structure), and so different to the one at which I work. In referring to the Saratogian as a sickly twin, I meant only to refer to the fact that we have no printing press at our facility. Perhaps it was a bad analogy, but I certainly never intended it as a reference to our editorial capabilities or our stature among our various communities. Again, I would have no basis to make that judgment. All that I really know is that Troy is a long drive from lovely Saratoga Springs, and that at 8 p.m. I had to walk for 20 minutes to find an egg roll. Please accept my apologies if you were one of the people who misconstrued this post.
Blogs are not unlike newspapers in that it isn't possible to edit the finished product once it's published. Actually, it is possible, but it's generally not considered ethical to do so, and as such, I am not going to change the substance of this post. Instead, I will hope that this clarification calms anyone unhappy with my words.
The Record's Ad Department: Just like the Daily Planet.
Long before Woodward and Bernstein,
Clark Kent was the original sexy journalist.
Here's something that I've been hinting at for a couple weeks but haven't actually blogged about yet. A couple weeks ago, when I was filling in on the night desk, our computer system crashed. It was quickly deemed a total loss, and not likely to be recovered that night. As they say, you can't stop the presses, so myself and Paul, the night editor, and the entire sports department, loaded into our vehicles and took off for the Troy Record, The Saratogian's sister paper.
Troy is a post-industrial city about 30 minutes south of Saratoga, and the Record is it's daily paper. While The Saratogian is a broadsheet, The Record is a tabloid, and strives to live up to that identity. Although the added commute time was a pain in the ass, the experience of seeing another newspaper was well worth the trip.
The relationship between the two papers is that of conjoined twins. The Record is without a doubt the stronger of the two, while The Saratogian is a sickly sibling, using its sister's heart to stay alive. I say that mostly because the two paper have shared one printing press since they were both acquired by The Journal Register Company some years ago. When that acquisition took place, one of the first things JRC did was to fire the Saratogian's entire press room, and sell the equipment. Henceforth, they decreed, the paper would be printed at The Record in Troy.
And it was so. We at the Saratogian can work as hard as we like, but we will never had a paper without the press in Troy. This was especially true on the night in question.
In addition to their very own printing press, Troy also has a wonderful facility. Their three-story building, which sits on an entire city block, could swallow our two-story building whole. One entire floor of their building is given to the newsroom and ad-sales department. Fully half of the floor is taken up by an expansive newsroom, that instantly struck me as the most perfectly archetypal newsroom I had ever seen. Desks in small clusters were spread out across a massive room. The sports department was on one end, the news department at the other end, with the composing people in the middle.
The photographers had a room off to the side, and the editors had their offices in glass-fronted offices that looked out into the room. I felt a romantic rush of excitement to go run around town with my reporter's pad and pen, and then come back to this haven to tap my stories into a typewriter. It was thrilling just to be in this room; a room that conveyed nexus of information. I love my office at the Saratogian, but it doesn't even begin to hold a candle to the facility in Troy. It speaks volumes of the resources they have there that our entire staff as able to pile into the Newsroom with The Record's entire staff, and there was still room to spare.
And then there was the press. I've always been a sucker for big, shiny machines, and short of a cruise ship, they don't come much bigger or shinier than The Record's press. Several windows in the Newsroom looked out into the press room, and after I'd finished my work, and was waiting for my ride to finish his, I spent a gleeful half-hour pressing my nose against the glass, and watching the big machine whir and clank as its operators got it warmed up for the night's printing. I would have loved to have stuck around long enough to get a copy of our paper literally hot off the press, but we didn't wait that long. And it's probably just as well, since I might never have left if that had happened.
Monday, January 21, 2008
On Sunday I had the unhappy assignment of covering a conference for high school-aged Christians. Hold on tight, like the 1,300+ teens at this convention of faith, we're about to go off...
Now, I don't want to be too hasty to judge. After I had the chance to speak with the conference organizers, I learned that the point of the gathering was to help the students connect with other high school students from the region who share their faith, and to challenge their religious convictions. Now, as someone whose only religious convictions involve not having any religious convictions, hearing about God is always tough for me. So I translated what I'd been told to this: the point of the gathering was to help kids connect with-like minded peers from across the region, and to test their value system. OK, I went to conferences in high school that were designed to test my beliefs, and to help me connect with people with similar interests.
After all, sometimes, you do have to...
Here, teens are playing Hacky Sack during a break.
I used to play hacky sack.
But isn't that what high school is all about?
I managed not to buy any.
I'd certainly never been to a gathering of high school students that featured special accommodations for "Moms with strollers." But, I suppose that's an important consideration when some of the organizers are more likely to teach abstinence as a viable form of birth control than condoms or hormones. This I will judge. I think that any young woman who is not given the broadest knowledge on the ways she can avoid an unwanted pregnancy has been dealt a dis-service by everyone involved in her upbringing and education. There is a noted correlation between abstinence-only sex education often lobbied for by religious leaders in this country, and unwanted pregnancies.
But moving on...
Despite the skin-crawling feeling I got whenever anyone mentioned God, I hadn't actually found too much at the conference that really struck me as objectionable. In many ways, this conference reminded me of Model Congress, which I had attended in Washington D.C. during high school: the bands of kids walking around town and flocking to Subway and local diners, and the groups of friends sitting in hotel hallways. But model congress never featured a centerpiece quite like Isaiah Six.
Isaiah Six is a modern acoustic rock/worship band headlined by heart throb Derek Joseph Levendusky. Conference organizers said that many of the teens in attendance would have come just to see the band, which performed several times during the four-day conference.
I was just about set to write the conference off as a slightly odd gathering of teens who take their religion a little too seriously for my taste, but then Levendusky interrupted his set to flex his evangelical muscle.
He told a story about how a minister in Algeria contacted him, and told him that he was concerned that the Muslims had too much favor in the country because the mosques put up money to build wells in poor towns. Then Levendusky called on the teens to raise money to help the the Algerian church raise money to... yup, you guessed it... build wells, to make a stronger case for local Muslims to convert.
Well, that did it for me. You can believe in God if you want to. I think it's nuts, but that's just me. What you can't do, in my book, is challenge anyone else's rights to their own beliefs. That's just wrong.
You can read my unbiased, journalistic account of the conference here.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
First, in the words of my number one fan, is an explanation of how my parents arrived at my middle name, "Joseph." (Note, this formerly private email is being reproduced here without the consent of it's author. It has been edited to protect the innocent.)
Andrew J, sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday, but I didn't get on line. We had loads of fun yesterday. First we went to a Christmas tree decorating and lunch party at Roy & Pat's. Jeremy, Nikki, Holden and Derek and Zeynep were all there. It's always fun to be with that family. Then, we went to the Duchac's annual XMAS eve party. Upon returning home I watched 'It's A Wonderful Life,' which I don't think I had ever seen it in its entirety.
Re the history of Joseph as your middle name. First, the name came from my side of the family, not Dad's (I checked with him about that. ) (Andrew was after both my grandfather -- grandma Bea's dad -- and dad's grandfather, charlotte's dad -- both of whom were named Abraham.)
Grandpa Ralph's father was named Joseph Blechman. He came to the US from Latvia sometime early in the 1900's. He was born around 1888 and died around 1959-61. He was married to Grandpa Ralph's mom, Ida Liebowtiz, on 9/9/1911. He was a plumber all his life. In fact, grandpa Ralph worked with him in a shop in Manhattan until Joseph died, and grandpa took over the business.
Apparently in his younger years Joseph was somewhat of a character -- cigar smoking -- and according to Estelle during his smoking years he always smelled of smoke, and dressed poorly. At some point, I'm not sure exactly when the transformation happened, he became orthodox and very active in his synagogue. In fact, uncle Barry's bar mitzvah had to be held in Grandpa's synagogue in the Bronx because he wouldn't travel on the sabbath. The family story is that he had influential relatives (possibly a count) in Latvia, which is how he got out of joining the army and was able to emigrate to the US. I'll ask Barry, perhaps he knows more details. Love, Mom
So there you have it. My middle named was bestowed unto me in honor of my great grandfather, a cigar smoking character-come-orthodox Jew. Who knew. Great-Grandpa, if you're out there, I hope I'm making you proud.
Anyway, after years of pretending that I didn't have a middle name because I thought it was clumsy and pretentious, I recently realized just how important that little letter is, and not just to honor my ancestor. You see, when you google search "Andrew Bernstein," which I do from time to time, you get links to the home pages of conservative thinkers, historians and lawyers before you get a single hit pertaining to me -- a link to my Divine Caroline user profile at the bottom of the second page. There are a whole lot of Andrew Bernsteins out there, and most of them seem to be better known than me!
Now, look at what happens when you google "Andrew J. Bernstein." Woah Ho! Look at that... I'm the top hit! Not only that, but little bits of me are sprinkled throughout the first couple pages of hits. Alright, that's a bit better. And keep in mind, I've only just started using my initial. I'm hoping that as the months go on, and I have more and more publications using my improved name, my work will populate even more of the top hits. After all, publicity is the name of the game.
Just for the record, I still think using a middle initial is clumsy and pretentious, a supposition confirmed by my coworkers. When I announced that I was going to be adding my initial to my byline, (and that they shouldn't delete it if they saw it!), I was met with some chiding, about how I would almost certainly be taken more seriously if I decided to be known as "A. J. Bernstein." No thank you.
I love you Mom!
* Blogger isn't allowing me to make the formatting look as I would like it to on this post. Please bear with me, the font will be back to its normal appearance tomorrow.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Funny, it's been two weeks since I've done one of these. I was going to do one as usual last week, but then there was a fire, and that was a more pressing topic. So now we're back to the top and bottom list... here we go...
Tops from the week:
1) Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw. 15 Miles, no sweat. (OK, maybe a little sweat.)
2) Seeing Tom once more before he takes off for Hawaii!
3) That funny ambulance thing from Monday's post.
4) Only six weeks until health insurance!
5) Public transportation. Granted, it's always on the top of my list, but I feel it deserves a shout out tonight.
Bottoms from the week:
1) People who don't return my phone calls in a timely manner.
2) The mail carrier who lost my 4-hour DVD of the 2003 Tour de France. Spinning has been awfully boring this week.
3) Having to go to Troy when The Saratogian's computers failed. But more on that soon.
4) Waking up early. Again, this one always sucks, but I had to wake up early a lot this week, so it's fresh in my mind.
5) Trying to do all of my work on the sofa. I need a desk!!
That's all everyone! Have a great weekend, I look forward to seeing you next week!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
He's on the left.
I've never been a fan of Lance Armstrong. He was too high-and-mighty, acted like he owned the world. Well guess what, he doesn't. Sure he won the Tour de France 7 times. Good for him. You'd think that after everything cycling has done for him, he'd feel indebted to the sport, at least a little bit.
Instead, he insists on pissing on it any opportunity. First there was this. When the Discovery Channel decided to pull its sponsorship of the professional cycling team of the same name, of which Armstrong was a partial owner, the Austin-native didn't go to bat for his team. Or, I don't know, maybe shell out just a small portion of his millions of dollars to keep the team in the sport that made him. Instead, he said: "... We're just deciding it's a good time to step aside."
This was taken between Lance's sixth and seventh Tour wins
We were at the Tour of Hope, to raise money for cancer
Just like that, Armstrong, the man who has won more Tours de France than anyone else in the event's history, made a decision to get out of the sport that made him. Maybe it was a smart business decision. In fact, given the climate in the sport right now, it was almost certainly a smart business decision. But cycling is not about business.
It's about passion. It's about a passion for the road (or trail), the rider, and the energy created between them. Armstrong has to have known this passion. He has to have. No one could do what he did on a bike and not have that passion. I may not like him, but I certainly respect him. But somewhere between his 1996 battle with cancer and the Nike endorsement checks, he lost his way.
And then there was this. First he ditched his wife, who, in his first book, It's Not About the Bike, he credited with giving him the strength to overcome cancer. Then he started dating a rock star Cheryl Crow (not that there's anything wrong with that), then ditched her suspiciously close to a public announcement of her breast cancer. Then there were rumors of him dating one of the Olsen twins, and/ or Paris Hilton. Good grief. In Europe, this might be common practice for cyclists who really are rock stars in that culture. But here in America, we prefer our sports heroes to be slightly more modest.
Well, they're both living "productive" lives,
living off money they earned in more wholesome days.
Not that Lance has ever been one for modesty. But this next transgression takes the cake. I found this one courtesy of my buddy, Bike Snob NYC.
Yes, that's Lance, wearing a black jacket and a blue ball cap. Drinking out of a classy Styrofoam cup, posing with a tall bike. If you don't know what a tall bike is, you don't want to. Tall bikes are the monkey-bar, chopped motorcycles of the cycling world. You see them, usually in packs, cruising around neighborhoods like Williamsburg and the Lower East side. People stop and stare... not because they're cool looking, but because they're so freakish you can't look away.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe Lance was trying to bridge a culture gap. More likely it was a drunken moment straight out of a frat party. I make this assertion after reading the tall bike owner's blog (which also includes photos of Lance riding it).
So, all of this got me thinking. Lance may have, at one time, been one of the greatest cyclists in the world. But now he's just another has-been sports star, trying to hold onto a shred of the limelight.
Well Lance, lets not forget that before the Tour and your fame, there were some really, really short shorts:
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
It might be Tuesday for most of the world, but for me it's Wednesday: the day with two work days on either side of it. Today I woke up, spent about an hour working on some important correspondence, spun for two hours, then went to work where I wrote no less than five stories. One on a proposed Botanical Garden here in Saratoga Springs, one on our police department's new Tasers, one on a man who has decided to run for the elected position of City Court Judge, one on three new police officers who were sworn into the force and a story on tonight's city council meeting. Then I went grocery shopping and ran into Miles Reed, who was my adviser when I was the editor of the Skidmore News, and has been continued to give me solid advice ever since. We had a nice chat, and then he drove me home. Now I'm home and find myself at a loss of what to write about next.
I hate to do this, but I'm going to take tonight off. In lieu of a post, I'm going to leave you with this summary of my workout this morning:
Go ahead. Make my day. I'll out roller any of you punks.
Monday, January 14, 2008
I wrote a lot last night, and to be honest, I've got some non-blog writing to do, so tonight, I'm going to share with you some photos that I've been saving for a day just like this. Today's post has an automotive theme.
Now city buses only have one level.
But most of them still have just two axles.
This one goes out to Eryn. I saw this old MTA double-deck bus in Manhattan when I was on a failed mission to buy a new bicycle in December. Despite what you might think from the side of the bus, it was on Second Avenue, not Fifth. If this fellow blogger is to be believed, this is a Model 735 Yellow Coach Company Omnibus. It carried passengers around Manhattan in the '30s, '40s, and '50s.
These days, most city buses do.
It took a big truck to pull the old bus.
Tom came to visit Becky and I over the New Years Holiday. It snowed, so he had to brush his car off. I was in a voyeuristic mood, so I took these photos from the apartment window. He doesn't know that I took this...
And then there's this. I spotted it on 15th Street in Park Slope, before heading off to Saratoga Springs. Now, I'm certainly no expert on historic emergency vehicles, but it is what appears to be a Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ambulance built sometime between 1959 and 1974 (yes, I know that's a large range, but both examples are very compelling. See for your self.) If I had to guess, I would say that it's closer to the '74 end of the spectrum, based on the shape and styling of its windows and tail fins. Ah, tail fins. Don't you wish you had some of those on your car?
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Hey, isn't that Ecto-1 from the Ghostbusters films?"
But isn't it wonderfully charming?
I've visited it a few times, and have yet to see it move.
Well, the answer is no. That car is in a museum. This car, at least according to its signage, is now being used as a utility vehicle for an animal control business. It's quite rusty, but still has lots of charm. I meant to call the number on the side of the car, to ask some question about it... like, "Where can I get one?" But I forgot, so I don't have any more details for you. The most important detail is obvious: "This is the coolest animal control vehicle in the world."
Unfortunately, not everyone sees how cool this car is. A note hanging in one of the rear windows said something to the effect of: "Hey asshole! It wasn't funny when you left a dead rat on our bumper. Do it again and we're calling the police." For shame.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The mountains in the distance are Porter and Cascade
But I had to look at a map to tell you that
From the time I was 12 until I was 19 my life revolved around summer camp. I attended Camp Pok-O-MacCready every summer for each of those years, except 2002, when I was 17, and stuck in the gray area between being a CIT and being a counselor.
I grew by leaps and bounds during my years at camp, bolstering my already-strong independence, and learning to interact with a whole new range of kids, most of whom were vastly different from those I knew from Brooklyn. Pok-O gave me the chance to expand my horizons beyond the asphalt jungle, and I would never trade my summers in the northern Adirondacks for anything.
Although there were many important aspects of camp, the longest-lasting impression has been the time I spent hiking and climbing in the Adirondacks with my summer camp fellows. Camp taught me to enjoy the woods, and for that too, I will be forever grateful. At camp, I spent countless nights sleeping under the stars at Slide Brook, at Marcy Dam, at Bradley Pond, at Ward Brook and the Flowed Lands. There was a point, when I was 16, when I could stand on any one of the Adirondack's 46 peaks above 4,000, and point to all of the peaks, saddles, cols, slides, rivers, and streams and call them all by name. That skill has since lapsed a bit.
There was a good reason for this deep understanding. By the time I was sixteen, I'd climbed each of the 46 peaks at least once, and some of them many more times. To this date, I've climbed Wright Peak 7 times, and I've climbed Mount Marcy, the tallest peak in the Adirondacks at 5,344 above sea level, five times, including once in a New Year's Eve blizzard that left me and two friends pushing through 5 feet of snow near the summit.
OK, so I'm no Sir Edmund Hillary, but I've done my share of climbing, and the Adirondacks have been a favorite playground since I was 12. But then I went to college, and started taking my bike racing a lot more seriously (Incidentally, I also got started bike racing at summer camp, but that's a story for another post), and started spending less and less time hiking.
So this weekend was time for one of those periodic revivals. Dante called me on Wednesday, and though he was in Vermont, and I was in Troy, I could almost see the glint in his eye: "Wanna go hiking on Saturday." Well of course I did. So at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, Tom and Dante and I left my car at a Keene Valley trail head called the Garden to begin a 15 miles assault on a chain of four mountains known as the Upper Range, encompassing the peaks Gothics, Armstrong, Upper Wolf Jaw and Lower Wolf Jaw.
I knew the revival was complete when, near the beginning of our hike, we crossed baths with Jack "Sharp" Swan, owner of Pok-O-MacCready, my former counselor and employer, the man who taught me how to use snow shoes. Although I have not spoken to Sharp since I left camp after spending a miserable summer working there in 2003, he remembered me well, and was as excited to see me as I was to see him.
Sharp is now an older man, but in his day, he and a friend set the record for the fastest ascent of the 46 peaks, completing the task in something like four days and ten hours. His record has since been eclipsed by "Cave Dawg," but he made up his own rules, like accepting aid from a support team, and ending his climb on the summit of the last peak, rather than at the bottom of the last peak as Sharp did. Sharp and his friend also slept 6 hours out of every 24 on their climb. Cave Dawg didn't sleep at all.
In short, Sharp is the man, it was awesome to see him. It turned out that he'd been camping with a bunch of friends from camp, of course, but while they were all climbing, he had to go to a camp show in Boston, so he was headed out on his own. But enough of that...
We hiked south through a snowy valley along John's Brook, and then uphill along the Ore Bed Brook, climbing the wickedly steep Ore Bed trail. The trail heads up the northern flank of Gothics, before heading east along it's summit ridge. The trail along this route is so step that the Department of Conservation has installed thick black cables in the rock to give hikers purchase as they make their summit bid. We clung to these through warm gloves as we kicked our crampons into the crusted snow. We stopped for lunch at a col bellow the mountain's summit, where a chilling wind kept us hunkered behind a rock for shelter.
After lunch we hiked quickly over the summit, and dropped down into a narrow cwm between Gothics and Armstrong. Before we'd even had a chance to catch our breath, we were heading back up toward Upper Wolf Jaw. It was time for a quick snack on top, and then down again. The decent off of Upper Wolf Jaw was steep enough that we were able to do an improvised shuffle-slide down the snowy trail. Finally, we arrived at the final col of the day, a saddle between Upper and Lower Wolf Jaw. I'd been hoping to climb both the halves of the Wolf's Jaw, but but it was getting late in the day, and there was a river to cross back down in the valley, so we turned downhill, leaving the last peak for another day.
pointing at a hot chick on Algonquin
What a great day!
Eventually, we arrived back at the car, where we parted ways... until the next adventure.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Well, life is full of firsts, I suppose. Tonight, right as I was getting ready to leave work, the police scanner that sits on my desk crackled to life:
"Structure fire, fully involved, Porter's Corners..."
Immediately, the whole news room went into high alert, especially Jim, who sits next to me. Jim has worked at The Saratogian for about ten years, and has covered a lot of fires in his day. In fact, earlier today, the had covered a similar fire in the Town Greenfield that had left a man and his family homeless, but mercifully un-injured.
But now Jim was busy hammering out his stories for the day, and I was done, so this would be my fire.
High alert, at least in The Saratogian's newsroom, mostly involves a small huddle around my desk, which, as I said earlier, is where the scanner lives. Within seconds of the call going out, Jim and Ed, one of our photographers, were standing over my desk, Barb, our editor, was peering over from the opposite end of the room, and even the sports department was tuning in. Soon the scanner crackled again:
"19 Allen Road, Alpine Park Trailer Park..."
In seconds, Jim had a county atlas in his hand, and we'd located the road, which was about 12 miles out of town. Ed immediately grabbed his camera and jumped in his truck. I took an extra minute to photocopy the map and gather my pad, before I followed suit, jumping in my car. I used to laugh when people at work would question my habit of riding my bike to work on the grounds that I wouldn't be able to get to a fire. Now I understand. My decision to leave my car at the office proved more useful than I had ever imagined.
Within in seconds, I flying up route 9N, in the tail-end of rush-hour traffic. No sooner had I left the city limits than I saw flashing red lights in my rear-view mirror. Ever the law abiding citizen, I pulled over and let the fire truck pass, before whipping out onto the road behind it.
My phone rang, and it was Jim back in the office:
"Hey, there's a little old lady in the trailer, and they're trying to get her out..."
"Wow," I thought, "someone might die tonight."
A few minutes later, I came over a rise in the road, and saw a thick plume of smoke, illuminated in an orange glow, rising over the night sky. I had arrived.
There were trucks everywhere, surrounded by firefighters in their turn-out gear. The blinking lights and the fire fighter's powerful flood lights lighted the whole scene. The fire police kept Ed and I away from the fire, but in a spot where we could see the whole thing. The burning trailer, a white single-wide domicile, was singed black, it's exterior paint melting off in sheets, exposing the charred ply wood beneath. The windows had been knocked out, and smoke billowed into the sky.
I grabbed one of the fire men and asked him if they'd gotten the woman out. 'No' was all he said.
We stood rooted in our spot, watching as the tanker trucks from no less than five area fire departments came and went from the scene, bringing water pumped from a stream five miles away. Water poured onto the flames froze on the ground and formed a thick layer of ice on the ground surrounding the trailer and the trucks around it.
Eventually a couple of neighbors stopped up to our little holding area, and I found out that their son lived next door to the trailer. He and his girlfriend saw the flame and tried to get the old woman out. They were not successful, and his girlfriend cut her hand. The couple had come over to see if their son was okay. He was physically fine, though clearly very upset.
Jim eventually showed up. I suppose, as a career journalist, he couldn't stay away. Plus, it was my first fire. It was freezing cold as we stood, in a growing group of journalists that eventually included TV crews and reporters from other newspapers. We eventually spoke to a State trooper who confirmed much of what we already knew. It was an accidental fire, it was a tragedy.
The most chilling quote of the night came from the man who had tried to save his neighbor's life:
"We just heard screaming, and we couldn't get her to come out. Then the screaming stopped," said Chris Snyder, a neighbor.
I was at the scene nearly 3 hours, doing little more than watching fire trucks come and go. During that time the plume of smoke emanating from the trailer eventually shrank, then stopped, and eventually the trucks packed up and started to move off. I left when the State Police investigator left the scene, after concluding that the fire's cause would need further investigation to determine. Then it was time to rush back to the office to work with Jim to file our story, on the lethal fire.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Yes, that's right, I did have to leave my cozy office on Lake Avenue to go work in Troy, NY, tonight, when the Saratogian's file-control system AND internet connection crashed for the fifth time in two weeks. Yup, I didn't get back to Saratoga until 11, which I do not enjoy.
But it's all OK, because the Divine Caroline has deigned to publish yet another of my essays, and YOU, my dedicated blog-reader, get to know about it before almost anyone else in the world. Again, frequent readers will likely recognize the essay, which is about how manly I'm not. But even if you've read it before, please, please, surf on over anyway, so that my editors will see how interested people are in reading my stories. If you haven't read it, it's a laugh!
So many of you read my essay about Soulja Boy that the editors at Divine Caroline have decided to bring me on as a regular contributor. Starting this month, you'll be able to read my work on that site twice monthly. Don't worry, I'll remind you of this fact often.
This is all geared toward getting more people to read me. If enough people read my work, I might someday be able to make a living as a writer... oh wait... I already do.... but we all know that there's no future in daily newspapers.
Anyhow, read my essay, it's funny.
I'll be writing more about my night at the Troy Record in the near future, but for now, it's off to bed. Thanks for reading!
Here's the URL for my essay, in case the link above doesn't work: http://divinecaroline.com/article/22312/41859-manly-man-
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Perhaps the best-dressed New York Jew.
Or maybe second only to Calvin Klein.
I usually consider the Urban Dictionary to be a definitive authority on any topic from the war in Iraq to definitions of scientific terms like fauna. But while perusing Urban Dictionary in front of a roaring fire on a recent chilly evening, I found one entry that was blatantly false and so poorly researched that it represents a serious hole in the dictionary's otherwise limitless knowledge.
The Urban Dictionary couldn't be more wrong on the subject of the New York Jew. In short, the dictionary defines a New York Jew as a fickle, uptight person who keeps a tight grip on his or her purse strings, and likes to push paper.
Well now, that's not very nice.
My experience of being a New York Jew points to a decidedly different definition, a definition that was made much clearer to me over this past weekend. You see, Becky and I traveled from our home in Saratoga Springs to her parent's home in Rhode Island for her mother's 50th birthday party.
Now, my own parents passed their 50th birthdays back in the Bronze Age, so it had been a while since I'd been to this kind of event, but I was still excited to meet some of Becky's mom's friends and family. That is to say, I was excited in theory. In reality, all I wanted to do was hide from strangers by staying home. But this was an important family event for Becky, so I got myself dressed up in skinny jeans, a stylish pink shirt and argyle sweater (go Team Slipstream!), and got into Becky's car for the ride to the Ocean State.
Although I think I made an honest effort to schmooze a lot of party guests, I quickly spotted the one person I really wanted to talk to from across the room. A middle-aged man with an attractive Latin-looking woman on his arm.
He was wearing black jeans, a blue shirt and dark sweater. On his face, he wore a thin natural mustache and thick Buddy Holly glasses. I could have guess from the tuft of chest hair poking out above his collar, or his sizable schnoz, but it was his thick eye brows, combined with the stylish cut of his clothes and the way his dark eyes coolly appraised the other party-goers that gave him away. Sure as my legs are shaved more often than Becky's, this was a New York Jew. Our eyes met for a brief second, and, as if we'd exchanged a secret signal, we both knew. He gave me a shallow nod. I nodded back, and we both resumed talking to other guests. It's important to be cool in such situations, especially when surrounded by goyum.
A few minutes later we had both maneuvered our way to the beverage table where I was cracking open my third beer and he was pouring himself a glass of wine.
We quickly introduced ourselves. It turned out that he was originally from East New York, and later Boerum Hill and Staten Island. He had an MSW from Columbia, but had attended a few years after my Dad, who holds the same degree from Columbia. He was a federal parole officer, and had spent most of his career in Florida, before moving to Rhode Island when he was given a promotion. He still had friends and family in the city, and visits often. In fact, he and his wife (the attractive Latin woman) had been in midtown for New Years Eve.
We spent the next several hours talking about Brooklyn. He was very interested to hear how the neighborhoods had changed, especially once he realized that I'd grown up blocks away from his former home on Pacific Street, and I was very interested to hear about how an internship he'd served with the Port Authority Police in the Port Authority bus terminal had led directly to his career path. We talked at length about the value of interdisciplinarity in education and about choosing a life of public service versus a life of wealth and prosperity, choices that my own father has also wrestled with in his life, and I now contemplate on a daily basis.
It turned out that he and his Dominican wife, a fifth grade teacher, had made the decision to leave New York largely because they wanted to give their daughter a better standard of living.
We didn't once talk about being Jews, unless you count our exchange of last names, which in Jewish circles, is equivalent to gang members flashing their high-sign. Our conversation helpped me to reach a much better definition of New York Jew, which I will be submiting to Urban Dictionary in short order:
New York Jew, noun
A group of individuals bound by an unbreakable bond rooted in a common ancestry, impeccable sense of style, irresistibility to members of the opposite sex, intelligence, generosity, economic savvy (but not greed), large noses, and thick eye brows.
Monday, January 07, 2008
OK, it might not have rained today, but I am hours behind schedule. So much so, that it's now midnight and I've only just sat down to blog. I'm sorry, but my essay on how New York Jews cling together like peanut butter and jelly is going to have wait until tomorrow. For tonight the best I can offer you is the following image of questionable relevance:
I can't tell what it's doing.
Eating a kitten, I suppose.
If you want to see a truly deserving blogger win an award, head on over and nominated Bike Snob NYC for the "Best New Blog," and/or "Best Humor" categories. But don't take my word for it, head on over and check out his take on why cycling is "The world's most popular underground activity."
Sunday, January 06, 2008
From left to right:
Andrew "I swear I don't know why my shirt is unbuttoned" Bernstein, Dante, Tom and Trav
Phew! Well that was a long vacation. If blogging is "work," then we should all mark this moment, because I have never been so excited to get back to "work!" Being away from writing daily blog entries made my life hard in ways that I had never anticipated: I lost the ability to focus on simple household chores like folding laundry and washing dishes; I found myself playing endless games of tetris (thanks Eric); and I worried constantly that my four readers would use my vacation to find other blogs to read, and never come back to me.
But it's all OK now, because here I am, back in all of my glory, ready to start the New Year off right!
However, before I can launch into the exciting story I have lined up for this week on the intrinsic link shared by all New York Jews (look for that tomorrow), I am first required by blogger bylaw 21.9.18 to address the fact that the Earth has once more completed a lap around the sun.
I'm not one for predictions, and I've no interest in boring you with a recap of the thrilling events of 2007 (besides, if you really want that, you can just peruse my blog from the past year), but I will take some time now to lay out some goals:
1) Write more. I'm not sure if this is possible. Between work, this blog and other projects, I actually spend a lot of time writing. But I'm going to try and write even more in 2008. After all, you don't get to be a better writing by watching television.
2) Be a better person. Yes, I know it's general, but this covers so much that it would take the year just to blog all of the ways I want to be a better person, so I'm keeping it short and move on.
3) Stay in touch with friends and family. The great diaspora has already begun. Amanda lives in the wilds of New Hampshire and Tom is off to Hawaii for two months or perhaps a decade. Dante will soon leave for Alaska, and, assuming he doesn't get eaten by a grizzly bear, plans to stay in the western side of the continental divide for the foreseeable future. Brett is lost is in a quagmire of money and neckties, and Travis is going somewhere, almost certainly not somewhere close. Eryn is still in Brooklyn... for now. As my friends continue to spread around the country, I'm going to do everything I can to stay close to all of them. At least I know where Becky is sleeping tonight! My family is already spread all over, and in the coming year, I'd like to do a better job of staying in touch with them too.
4) Train harder. I might say this every year, but this year I mean it. If you don't believe me, ask Becky. She saw me flood our downstairs-neighbor's apartment with my sweat during a two-hour interval session last Friday. Gonna be many more of those before this snow melts...
5) In a similar vein: Win bike races. Not second or third, I want to win. I want it so badly I can't taste it. Last summer, derailed by a hip problem and -- ahem -- a slight weight gain issue, my only result worth writing home about was 9th place in a decidedly easy criterium. In 2008, I want to return to my winning ways of 2006. Of course, there are a lot of external factors that go into this one, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make this one happen.
6) Vote for a presidential candidate that I believe in.
So there you have it, my six goals for the coming year. Anyone out there have any goals they'd like to share?
Doesn't a hamburger sound delicious right now?