Monday, March 31, 2008

And you thought having six kids was tough!

I just got a link to a youtube video that some buds from my college days made.  They have NINE kids and they are in a Upromise contest to show why they need funds for college.  Playing up the Brady theme to the hilt, it's really funny.  

The dad taught me amazing stuff about how to play the guitar and he had this wonderful voice.  A really humble guy as well.  He and his wife were really involved in the Catholic Student Center at Texas A&M and I think he still works in that vicinity.  For that alone I am envious.  The last I heard, she taught at the local Catholic School before she got the homeschooling bug.  If you care to, vote early and vote often.  Just for the next two weeks.  It looks like you have to register, for which I am eternally sorrowful.  If you can't vote for them, then please pray for their welfare.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ride for Heroes

OK, this past Saturday was the Ride for Heroes locally, and now that I have a bike back Ah'm in the Rally Mood, folks.  So when I went to sign up for it last weekend, I was a bit surprised when my lady says "Why don't we all sign up?"  She doesn't have a bike.  Or, I should say "didn't."  We bought her a bike on Wednesday or Thursday.  Not a true roadbike, more like a comfort bike.  It's a Specialized Crossroads Elite.  Dang, I wish I had gotten it for Eddy's price.  I think it was closer to $399.  But then you add shorts, a helmet, some tights and a long sleeve jersey and all of the sudden you're talking about $550.  Oh well, the price we pay to do things with our spouse and kids.  This was something that the whole family could do, right?  Just get a trailer for the babies.  Oh, trailer.  We don't have one.  So after a couple of calls for ones on Craigslist didn't pan out, we borrowed one from a friend.  So all of the big kids have bikes (our kids are aged 13, 10, 8, 6, 2, 1).  We just have to get them all there.  OK, even with the Suburban and the hitch rack, we have to take two vehicles.  So we loaded up the minivan with five bikes, put the wife's bike on the hitch rack, and fit the trailer in the Suburban's trunk.  Joseph (13) and I were going to do the 62 mile rally (not as hard as it sounds, there's a rest stop with food and drink every 10-12 miles) and everyone else was going to do the 8 mile rally.  The 62-miler started at 7:30 AM and the 8-miler started at 8:30.  We woke up late (it's a 45 minute drive with no traffic), so we reassessed the situation and tried to make it by 8:00 for the 40-miler instead.  About 15 minutes into our drive we had to turn back to get all the water bottles that we had left in the fridge.  All told, we got there at 8:20.  After a quick potty break, we lined up for the ride.  All the rides had the same route for the first 5-6 miles, so Joseph and I figured we would veer off at the appropriate time for the 40 and Kim would lead the herd of little ones back through the 8.  Jacob(6)  was stoked.  He was looking forward to doing this with his siblings and with me.  Allison(8) was not.  It was too cold for her liking, too early, and she didn't feel comfortable with the hand-brakes on her mountain bike.  After a mile, we had left them behind, cruising at an amazing speed of 8.4 mph.  Well, that was about as fast ask Jacob could coax those 16-in wheels.  After about fifteen minutes, Allison had had enough.  Kim called me to inform me that she had three crying girls and that they were turning back.  So that left me with Joseph (13) on a road bike and capable of doing the 40, Emily (10) on an old Peugeot Mixte that weighs 30 lbs. and capable of being dragged through the 20 maybe, and Jacob on a 16-in. wheel Wal-Mart ride, not capable of going farther than the 8.  So we stayed with the 8-miler.  Joseph was not pleased at first.  He did get over it as he got the chance to have fun with Jacob.  In fact, they all enjoyed the heck out of themselves.  I was beaten down by the financial side of it and the fact that I could have just done the regular Saturday Shop ride and gotten in 50.  So we spent $110 on rally fees, $500 on the bike + helmet + shorts + something else.  Another $150 in other clothes (the shop had winter gear on 75% off!!) plus 65 miles of gas for two cars, and all I got was 8 miles.  But reflecting on it, they were exquisite miles.  They were miles that will last a lifetime in one little six year-old's mind.  That was the first time he got to ride a rally with his Dad and his older brother.  Plus he beat another kid on a similar bike.  You go Jakie.  You rock.  You made even a short, terribly expensive ride one of the best days ever.

Monday, March 24, 2008

OK, this scares me.

So if you're a nominal Muslim with an Islamic name in Italy, and a prominent one at that, say you work as an editor of a national newspaper. Then you discover that you want to convert, do you have to ask the Pope to baptize you in front of EVERYONE? Especially when some cardinals just met with some Muslim scholars earlier this month to set up a kind of 'Catholic-Muslim Forum' later this year? I mean come on, just a bit cheeky, eh?

The real issue at play here is that it's considered regrettable when a Catholic converts to Islam. People might even have genuine concerns for that convert's soul. But when a Muslim gets baptized on international TV, expect a riot. While the convert may be something of a media hog, I do hope and pray that this is not a case of someone using the Church (and a sacrament) to futhur their own personal agenda.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Me boy-o is peeved today.

Joseph has been slacking on cycling lately. Not terribly, just not really, really focussed. And this weekend he got slapped. It's a stage race, so two road races and a time trial (like those triathlons). In the first road race, he got popped and then one of his team mates, a year younger and in his first race, dropped back and finished with Joseph. He and his teammate finished with their hands held up. Kinda dorky unless you finish 1st and 2nd, not 6th and 7th out of 12. Well, his new team mate then promptly beats him by 5 seconds in the time trial and then trounces him in the second road race. Joseph then made a beeline for the Suburban to hide away. He was hurt and embarrassed. I feel for him. He made great (and I mean huge) strides last year but he just hasn't been able to maintain that rate of improvement. On the way home he came out of his shell a bit. I told him that he needs to remember his painful moments and use them as motivation. Remember that you don't want to feel like this again. And that needs to be something to hold on to, not just at the next race, but for a year of training. He was miffed that he couldn't get on the trainer last night after a late dinner. He might very well be on it right now.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Leader Bikes -- rant warning!

OK, so I found a crack in my bike frame about a month or so ago.  The company who makes the frame says, OK, ship it to us at your cost and we'll decide if we're going to warranty it.  So I take it to my LBS (local bike shop) and have them strip off all the parts and ship it to Cali.  When they get it, they finally said, OK, we'll warranty it, send us $25 bucks to ship a replacement frame back.  So I paypal them that $$ plus some more for some more equipment.  Then a couple of weeks ago, they email me on a Friday for the shipping address.  I emailed them back on Monday.  That was Feb. 25th.  Yesterday, March 4th, I forwarded the original email to them again, asking to see where the frame is.  That's a bit over a week from the first email.  It was late in the afternoon, I figured I'd get called back today.  I call them at 11 AM TX time, 9 AM in Cali.  They say, ya know, the guys in shipping aren't here til 11, call back after that, also try emailing it to this other address.  So I forward it to the other address and call again at 3:30 TX time.  They say, well, I'll call those shipping guys and see what we can do.  If they don't call you in one or two hours, call me back.  I wait until 6 TX time and call again, because there hasn't been an email back.  I left a message and then at 7 or so, I got a call back.  It's someone from Leader saying "uhm, those shipping guys really need to get on the stick."  While I'm on the phone with him, someone else from Leader calls and leaves a voice mail.  It's the shipping guy "Well, I need your shipping address.  If I don't have it, I can't ship it."  Of course, that's the same shipping address that I emailed him on Feb. 25th, and again on March 4th, and again today.  He says he doesn't have it.  "The email here in shipping is different."  Crap.  He says he's sorry and that he'll throw in a T-shirt!!!!  Yup, they think I'm so in love with them that I'm going to advertise for them.  It gets shipped tomorrow.  Finally. Grrrr.  I was going to buy another frame, fork, and headset from them for Joseph, he's out-growing his.  I was even thinking of trying to buy several more for the Jr team.  Not now.  Never again.  I'm going back to the LBS.  If I had bought a bike from there and had this issue, it would have been taken care of already and it would have been no $$ out of my pocket.  Sorry Leader, I think I'm going to have to get a SpecialEd for Joseph.  Maybe a Lemond.  Lord have mercy on my soul, it may even be a Trek.

Update:  I just want to point out that the current frames all have a much more substantial rear drop out, which was where my initial frame failed.  I don't see the new designs being prone to cracks.