Saturday, August 22, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me...

I've always considered myself to be a pretty level headed and logical kind of guy. Per my Buddhist tendencies and Lutheran background and upbringing, I don't tend to react to situations in any sort of extreme manner. I don't get terribly excited about the good things, and I don't get too upset about the bad things. I figure that things tend to even out over time.

Along those same lines, I don't get surprised by too many things either. You don't tend to get knocked off of your feet by a wave, if you're content to bob along with the tide.

(Wow, that's actually pretty deep. Feel free to quote me on that.)

But the other day, I was surprised by a couple of things. Allow me to give you a not so brief synopsis of what happened.

Last Saturday, my wife and I were on our way to pick up our son Michael, as he was participating in a chess tournament over in Plano.

(We are currently training him to be a nerd. It appears to be going well.)

As we're driving along, I noticed up ahead, something swerving all over the right hand lane of the two lane road we were driving on. We got closer, and I realized it was a cyclist. As we come up behind him, we all arrived at a red light. I'm guessing that most of you know what's coming next. That's right, the guy runs the red light.

I should have figured the guy was going to run the red light, as he was wearing a tank top skin suit. A dead give away that the guy was a triathlete. No offense to any triathletes who happen to be reading this, or are having someone read it to them, (I'm kidding.), but it is my opinion, and only my opinion, that triathletes tend to ride their bicycles in a more haphazard, slightly illegal fashion that other cyclist. I'm not saying all triathletes ride this way, or even most triathletes. I'm just saying that they tend to be slightly ahead of the curve on illegal riding habits. For more of my opinions on triathletes, please click here.

So, the guy runs the red light. I suppress my desire to immediately run the guy down.

(Again, I'm kidding, sort of.)

After Trish and I wait for the light to turn green, I move to the left lane and roll my passenger's window down. As I pull up along side of him, I shout out the window, "You really should stop at those red lights!". To his credit, showing that he's not a complete idiot, he doesn't respond in any fashion, at least not yet, which is the correct response in this situation. Having said my piece, we go on down the road, where we catch the red light at the next intersection. Since we're making a left turn at this intersection, we're in the left turn lane. I glance in my mirror and I notice that the guy on the bike has now moved from the right lane, to the left lane, which is right next to the left turn lane. I continue to watch him, and he has now moved to the left side of that left lane, so that he is now going to pass right next to my car. Again, I imagine that most of you can guess what's going to happen next. For those of you who guessed that he flipped me off as he went by, you would once again be correct.

The finger flip is actually the retort of last resort. If you've completely run out of arguments and you have no logical responses to an adversaries arguments, and you finally admit to yourself that you were indeed wrong, but you refuse to admit it to your opponent, the the finger flip is what you resort too. It is the 'dirty bomb' of verbal confrontation.

He then proceeds to pedal up to the front of the line of cars waiting for the red light, were he cuts in front of the left lane of traffic and the cars in left turn lane, making an illegal u-turn, and once again, running another red light. So he is now traveling back down the 4 lane divided road towards me. I won't bore you with the detail, but needless to say, as he went by, we exchanged more pleasantries and obscure hand gestures.

So what, might you ask, surprised me about this encounter?

The first thing that surprised me about this, and it's something that continues to surprise me every time I see it, is the moronic way some people ride their bicycles. I don't know about you, but when I ride my bike on the road, I try and give the automobiles a healthy amount of respect. Not that most of them have earned that respect, but by the shear size of them, compared to the size of me and my bike, and the amount of damage they could potentially do to me and my bike, they should be given that respect. If for no other reason that simple self preservation.

The second thing that surprised me about this encounter, arose from a very intelligent question that Trish asked. It wasn't surprising that Trish asked an intelligent question. You can believe me when I say that if an intelligent question is going to be asked at our house, it is more than likely going to come from Trish. Next would be our 10 year old son Michael, then our cat Boo. Currently, I rate slightly ahead of our dog Pepper, but she's only 8 months old. I expect that she'll pass me in the rankings sometime this winter.

No, what was surprising was that I didn't immediately have a good answer for her. Now in all fairness to me, (I usually try and be as fair as possible to me), the fact that I was screaming out the window at this guy was probably distracting me from forming an intelligent response to Trish.

So, as I rolled my passenger window down and was getting ready to shout at the guy, Trish asked, "Why do you need to say something to this guy? What do you care how he rides his bike?"

That's actually a pretty good question. Why would I need to say something to this guy? What do I care if this guy goes out and rides like an idiot?

How this guy rides actually falls under my famous and much talked about theory of the "Self-Correcting Problem".

The problem here is that this guy, and others like him, ride in an unsafe, illegal, and moronic fashion.

The correction to this problem is that eventually, if this guys continues to ride like this, he's going to do something unsafe and moronic at the wrong time, and he'll wind up getting squashed under a large vehicle.

And the problem will have corrected itself.

So if the odds are that eventually this problem will correct itself, why do I feel the need to address it with him. Until this guy gets himself squashed under a big vehicle, he not only makes himself look bad, but he makes all cyclist look bad. When motorist see this guy run a red light, they don't think "Look at that cyclist run that red light! That cyclist is riding illegally." No, what they actually think is that "All cyclist ride illegally." Motorist don't make the distinction between the actions of a single rider, and the actions of all riders. When riders like my new red light running friend ride illegally, they make us all look bad. I have enough problems keeping myself out of trouble, without getting lumped in with this guy. This guy riding like he does, makes it more difficult for all of us to go out and ride our bikes without getting beer bottles thrown at our heads. We should all be upset about how this guy rides. We should all want to say something to him.

When the city of Anna, Texas, just north of McKinney, banned bicyclist from FM 455, that didn't just ban the cyclist who had been riding in a large, fake, Tour de France peleton, and causing all of the problems. They banned all cyclist from that road. That's the danger to the rest of us law abiding riders, that cyclist like my new friend pose. While this guy, and the others like him, may be in the minority of cyclist, they are the ones that get the vast majority of the attention of motorist. Who are motorist more likely to remember? This guy running the red light on his bicycle, or me stopping at the red light on my bike, and waiting for it to turn green. They'll have forgotten about me 10 seconds after that light turns green. But they'll remember this guy every time they see a cyclist on the road.

That's why I needed to say something to this guy.

On a more personal note, if you happen to be in the McKinney, TX area either riding your bike, or just driving your car, and you happen to find yourself on McKinney Ranch Parkway, between Alma Rd and Custer Rd, keep a look out for my new friend. He would be the guy on his bike, in a tank top skin suit, swerving all over the road, and not stopping at the stop signs or the red lights. If you happen to see him, be sure to roll your window down and express your opinion on how he's riding. Also, be sure to tell him the Nearly Famous Fred said hi.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

P.S....Next week we have Nearly Famous Fred first. I'll be reporting remotely from Wichita Falls, TX. What, you might ask, in the name of God, could possibly make me spend a weekend in Wichita Falls, TX. Just about the only thing that could do that, is a bike ride. And not just any bike ride, but The Hotter-N-Hell 100 bike ride. Nothing says "Good Times!" like riding your bicycle through the lovely Wichita Falls scrub brush country side, in the 105 degree heat, for 100 mikes. Or in my case, 100 kilometers. Now that's living. I'll even be taking a day of vacation from work next Friday, so I can spend even more time in Wichita Falls. These are the kind of decisions that will eventually force Trish to put me in some sort of sub-standard nursing home.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

OK, let's try this again

Over the last few months, I've made a startling discovery about myself. There's the very real possibility that I may be lazier than even I had thought. I might be lazier than I thought was humanly possible. The reason I gave myself, (whenever I asked myself), for stopping posting to this blog was that "I'm just way too busy to write a blog. I've just got too much going on to take the time to write every day."

But as I started examining my day to day activities, I made the aforementioned startingly discovery. While I certainly had a lot that needed to get done, I very rarely actually did any of those things. If I had actually done, or even attempted to do, any of the many things that I needed to do, then yes, I would have been very busy.

As those of you who have spent, i.e...wasted, any of your time reading this blog in the past can attest to, I am a self-confessed very lazy person. I haven't seen any official ratings, but I very well could be the laziest person. I'm certainly in the top 10.

I recently heard someone actually say the following:

"I just can't sit still and do nothing. That would just drive me crazy!"

As this person said these words, I became very confused. I recognized the words as being English, and I knew what each individual word meant. But as they were constructed into sentences, they just didn't make any sense to me. I've spent the greater part of my life striving towards "sit still and doing nothing". Call it a dream if you will. The fact that I have so much that needs to get done, yet I spend an amazingly large percentage of my time avoiding actually doing anything, only serves to amplify my laziness.

You see, there are two schools of thought on laziness. First, there is the person who doesn't really have anything to do, and doesn't invest any time in actually looking for something to do. Let's call this person the Entry Level Lazy Person. It's a good place to start, but it takes no real self discipline to achieve. Basically, you have nothing to do, and you spend most of your time not doing it. Pretty easy.

Existing on a whole other level, is the Advanced Lazy Person. This is the category that I surprisingly find myself in. This is the person, that while they have a lot that needs to be done, they have the self discipline to force themselves not to do it. They have the drive to remain sitting in their big leather man-chair and do nothing, all the while, any number of task remain to be completed. They have the internal fortitude to ignore the guilt of letting deadlines pass, and still continue to watch TV. It's pretty damned heroic if you think about it.

I tell you this because I've been getting the itch to start posting to this blog again. As a card carrying Advanced Lazy Person, I find this extremely annoying. I've been perfectly content over the last several months, to sit around and do nothing, (aside from riding my bike every chance I get), and now I've got this nagging urge to get up and go do something. Personally, I view this as some sort of failure on my part. I've resisted the urge to actually accomplish something for so long, and now I just have to get up and get something done. It's like the last few months of doing nothing have been wasted.

So here's the deal. Since I'm still clinging to the idea that I'm just too busy to post to this blog everyday, (self delusion can really be a very handy thing), I'm going to make this a weekly column. I will post to this blog once a week, probably on Saturday evenings. If I happened to stumble across something that I just have to write about before the weekend, then I'll post a Nearly Famous Fred Special Edition. Even I, being as lazy as I am, should be able to come up with something, (hopefully something entertaining, but I make no guarantees), just once a week. We'll see how that goes.

OK, I've been typing for almost 15 consecutive minutes now. I should probably go take a nap.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred