Monday, May 22, 2006
DAWES LIGHTNING DLX
It must be that time of year again: people are starting to buy bicycles on Ebay. How, you might ask, do I know? Well, my last twenty searches of the day have all been looking for a review of the Dawes Lightning series of bicycles. As far as I know, you can only find these on Ebay. (though they do have a website
Well, I know how hard it was for me to find a review from anyone who had actually seen
much less ridden one of these, so I decided to write one.
I bought the DAwes Lightning DLX. For those of you searching Ebay for this item, that's the one selling for 295usd, and coming with shimano STI shifting (shift on brake). I bought the red one, and I think the green one is ugly.
But seriously, let me tell you about the bike.
First off, it is heavy. It is a steel bike, and NOT aluminum. Anyone looking for a "racing" bike should look somewhere else, this is not it. This is a touring bike. That means if you like to ride, and ride a lot, or long distance, this is for you. If you are looking to set a new TT record, this is not even close. I would say, with water bottles and a bike bag (with tools) you could easily be pushing 30lbs.
But before that scares you off, remember it is steel. That means your ride will be SMOOTH. Like butter. Steel absorbs more of the road inclusion than aluminum, or even carbon. It is THE BEST material to ride long distance on because of this and its natural flex. If you can afford titanium, you might feel a better ride, but then you wouldn't be looking into this bike, would you?
That out of the way, this stacks up very well with most entry level bikes offered by Trek, Specialized, etc. Remember, those are aluminum bikes, so they will weigh less. Probably a good 5 lbs less, to be quite honest. But they come with the exact same components. In fact, my friend bought a Specialed Allez Triple, and it had ALL the same stuff, except for the stem.
The alex rims are double wall, but not as nice as the ALX series you will find on some bikes at the Local Bike Shop (LBS). They are fairly bomb proof, though, and in the year I road on them (probably around 200-300 miles weekly, more on "trip" weekends) I had to true them ONCE. They are heavy, though, and this is a good area to drop some weight, if you can afford it. On Ebay someone is always selling the Vuelta XRP rim set for 99usd. Get those if you want a nice affordable deep aero rim with less weight. They even match the red bike.
The bike, contrary to the description, does NOT come assembled, or even close. Be ready to give a good two hours to set up and tuning before you can ride it. It's not hard set up, it just takes a lot of tinkering to get the STI shifters smooth. I really think people need to be clear about that up front. If you do not know ho to do this, expect to take it to your LBS and pay them around 30-40 to do it for you.
"Chicabike" the seller, is VERY nice, and will answer honestly everything you ask of her. Shipping for the product was supersonic quick, and well packed. Her support after the product arrives is top notch, and she really wants to make everything as easy and fast as possible.
Finally, I sold my Dawes this year, back on ebay. I paid, total, 330usd for the bike, road it hard for a year, and sold it, I think, for 260usd. That is pretty good considering the miles I put on it, and that I sold it without having to ship it (which means actually it only depreciated 40 bucks). The bike retains the value, I think, because it is built like a tank. It really did look as good as when I bought it, and everything on the bike remained true and nice.
In summary, if you are reading this and are looking for a nice entry level road bike, a commuter, or a touring bike, and you are wondering whether this is a good value: it is. Do not worry about buying an "unnamed" bike off ebay, save yourself some cash, and buy it. You will easily pay 200usd more to get the same thing at the LBS. If you are reading this and want an impressive racer: move on. This just isn't for you.
Hope this helps all you people stumbling on this site looking for a good review. Feel free to email me with more questions.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
I want to get this out of the way so I can get on to talking coherent and peaceable.
Kevin Garnett was left off the All NBA team. I am not just talking about NBA first team, he was completely left off the teams three rounds of selection. Here is a list of who made it:
2005-06 All-NBA Teams
2005-06 ALL-NBA FIRST TEAM
Position Player (1st-place votes) Points
Forward LeBron James, Cleveland (116) 610
Forward Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (105) 584
Center Shaquille O'Neal, Miami (45) 402
Guard Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (110) 597
Guard Steve Nash, Phoenix (106) 583
2005-06 ALL-NBA SECOND TEAM
Forward Elton Brand, L.A. Clippers (15) 309
Forward Tim Duncan, San Antonio (17) 277
Center Ben Wallace, Detroit (44) 363
Guard Chauncey Billups, Detroit (21) 378
Guard Dwyane Wade, Miami (13) 373
2005-06 ALL-NBA THIRD TEAM
Forward Shawn Marion, Phoenix (4) 270
Forward Carmelo Anthony, Denver 97
Center Yao Ming, Houston (30) 261
Guard Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (1) 104
Guard Gilbert Arenas, Washington 79
Now, I cannot argue against ANYONE on the first team, even though I think KG ALWAYS deserves it. Lebron is not only a fan favorite, he brought his team deep into the second round of the playoffs, and to the brink of the Eastern Finals (more on that below). Similarly, Dirk lifted his team, and played exceptionally well. Kobe was spectacular all year, setting numerous team and NBA records, and Steve Nash was MVP (even though he didn't deserve it this year), had a career year, and also has his team deep. Shaq is a heel, and worth about half what he formerly was, but he is still the best center, and the all-nba is voted on by position. Who is better at center? Really.
But second team is a joke. Elton Brand had a great season, his best, actually, so leaving him on there is fine. But Duncan was not even the focal point of his team this year, had career lows in points (under 19) and rebounds (11), and was hobbled much of the year. Certainly KG's individual stats stack up or exceed him in EVERY regard. It would be hard to find people to disagree with that.
But really, this should be a selection of who you would want, out of everyone, if you were starting a team of the best NBA players. Regardless of position, my first team would look like this:
Lebron, Wade, Garnett, Duncan, and Kobe. Wade and Lebron can both run the point, very well, Duncan can play the five against just about anyone, Garnett plays the whole floor, and Kobe is (sorry Lebron) the most dynamic scorer AND playmaker in the league.
Try to figure out a team that beats them. Put shaq on a team with the next best four players (Dirk, Nash, Brand, and AI, in my opinion) and see which team wins.
OK, NOW ON TO SOMETHING SHOCKING:
I was in a bar when the Cavaliers won the first round playoff. Some guy in the bar said, "They could go all the way" and I laughed. I explained that they had to play Detroit next, and we both agreed (easily) that the wallaces would be too much to overcome, and the Cavs would be lucky to get a win. ONE WIN.
Well, luckily for me, and fans everywhere, I was wrong. Sort of. Look, they have done great, and I really hope they win. They provide the best story for the next round, and watching Lebron play is pretty special. Even when he has a bad night, it looks good. He might not yet have the polish of Wade to the hole, or Kobe on the kickout, but he gets his team going, always, can score, it seems, at will, and really puts EVERYTHING on the court every singe game.
But can they win again? I know this will sound stupid, but the Pistons have been playing HORSESHIT ball, and have been in every single game so far. They have been turning the ball over, their bench stinks, Sheed is out of his damned hat, and still they have lost by one shot three times. Their wins, however, have been blowouts.
Add to that the fact they have the best record in the NBA, the best road record, and have never, before this, lost three in a row in the playoffs (or all this year), not to mention FOUR, and it looks grim.
Now look over at the Cavs. No one can say they aren't playing their best. The bench scoring is WAY up from the regular season. Players are really stepping up. Lebron can afford not to score 30+ every single night.
But they are lead by a guy who has already shown the lack of control at times (James) down the stretch, who is turnover prone (simply because he has the ball 90% of the time) and has NEVER been here before. And they need to win tomorrow. I mean, ALL the pressure is on them to win this one. If it goes back to Detroit, I don't see them winning. Winning once at the Palace is hard enough. Twice? In one series? I just can't see it.
Look, I hope I am wrong. As much as I LOVE Pistons basketball, and I do: they play the right way, watching Lebron is special, special, special. But I just don't see how they can get over the hump.
Now, I am not one to say anything less than the championship is success, but take a step back, look at the season the Cavs have had, the growth, the nucleus, and the post season: and even if they lose, this is a great year.
Here's to hoping, wishing, the year isn't over for them.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
1) I now, officially, dislike my job. This is a downgrade from temporary dissatisfaction earlier expressed. It is full time dislike. One step from hate, really.
The problem is this question: if our clients are allowed to act on impulse, and that impulse negatively effects the life of staff and other clients, and there is no repercussion for that action, what is to stop them from ruining their own quality of life? As a corollary, what, if anything, can we do to stop it?
The answers from my bosses were NOTHING and NOTHING. And, before you think I am blaming them, I am not. They have hands bound just the same as we do.
So, if this is the case, why keep bothering? I am not a status quo guy, and this is a status quo job.
2) I heard the most redamneddiculous statement the other day. Someone asked if I was excited for my wedding. That's dumb enough, though I understand it is meant as a jumping off point to talk about the wedding, and not an earnest inquiry. But, after an answer in the affirmative, they said, "yeah, it really changes everything."
That's stupid. It might just be why the divorce rate is so damned high. I mean, really, folks. We have lived together for almost four years now. We don't fight, we hardly argue, and we bicker mostly in jest. We love each other more each day, we express that easily and readily, and we communicate. What will a piece of court ordered paper possibly do to change that?
I think it is this expectation that is the downfall here, really, I do. People with problems think that a marriage will solve them, and when they find out it won't, they quit.
Our marriage will work because it will be the exact same after the wedding as it was before. Bet on it.
3) this study
says fat kids don't work out because they get teased in school. I swear to fucking god, give them another reason. It's not like they don;t have enough excuses already, why not blame it on those mean old bullies.
I am not saying fat kids don't get bullied. Really, they do. I know. I spent a long time as a fat kid, and a long time as a bully, too. But you know what, cry me a fucking river. Kids are going to get teased for everything. You know what a healthy kid does, turns it into motivation, inspects himself, and moves the fuck on. You know what a healthy parent does, encourages that fat kid to get fit. Become involved, and prove those kids wrong, prove themselves wrong.
Unless your problem is medical, stop whining, get outside, and work the hell out. I know this sounds harsh, but it is the attitude in this and other reports that is allowing our kids the opportunity to be fat. Fatness, like any other social disease, is curable, if you focus on the problem, instead of all the symptoms of it.
OK, that's a good rant for a Sunday night. I feel better. Oh yeah, and I just got back from the gym, fatty!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Leggo my EGO
Well, I had one hell of a great weekend, and I thought, you know, this being my space to write things and all, I would share it with all of you.
Since Carly was having her bachelorette party (and I know better than to stick around for that estrofest) I decided I would spend the weekend in the cities. I made the drive Friday night, only to find the guy I was going to stay with was out. Luckily, I was set to meet two friends from highschool as well, and one of them had just finished taking her daughter to an art show in the neighborhood. We hung out, and waited for Chad (the aforementioned friend) to show. We ended up going to her sister's (the other friend from highschool-to confuse you more) and talking until about two am. We then set plans for a noon rendezvous at the Mall of America.
Chad and I arrived at the MOA at noon, like men would when given a date and time to be somewhere. We called the girls, and they were going to run a bit late. So we asked ourselves, "where should we waste some time whilst we wait for the girls to ready themselves?" The answer, of course, was Hooters. I guess I just have a thing for chicken wings.
Three pitchers and almost as many hours later, and the girls finally call us. They have arrived. We go to settle the bill, only to have Tara, our waitress, leave me her number. Now, I am a flirty guy, but I was not being flirty with her. I was just chatting. Chad, on the other hand, was flirting. We both thought she was flirting back because it is her job: I mean, she IS a hooter waitress. But no, it turns out she was flirting with me. I gave Chad the number. Hopefully, he can use it.
So, we meet the girls, and they want to shop. If you are surprised at that, go kill yourself. Of course they wanted to shop. They are 20 something girls. We were game for that, or anything, as we had our fill of beer, and our mood was, conservatively, jovial. We did not know we were in for 7 hours of shopping, but thus is the danger inherent in agreeing to shop.
While Chad was busy occupying sister number one, I got some time with sister number two, who was a very close friend in highschool (we also dated on and off for some time) She is now in a very crappy relationship. He is abusive. Beyond that, though, he is also obsessive, controlling, and jealous. I observed this behavior first hand. But she is a sweet girl, and they have been together a long time, and have a kid, so she feels like she owes him something, and she can change him. Both of which are untrue. Which I told her, in my way, over and over. While I was thus disposed: advising her and whatnot, an older black lady was listening in. AS she was ready to leave, she looked my friend in the eye and said "mm hmm child, you need to listen to him, he's giving you good advice." Which, of course, was true, but only in so much as I was telling her what she already knew, but couldn;t make herself admit, and what any friend would tell her. But it is nice to get the Old-black-woman-seal-of-approval. I think I might have even gotten through to my friend, too.
The next day we decided to go climbing. Again, a time was set (7am) to meet the girls, Again, we were there at that time. The girls would show up something like 7 hours late, but no worries. If you didn't know by now they were going to be late, you need to go back and reread the above. WE certainly expected it, and it gave us time to go set up some climbs.
At Taylor's falls, where we would be climbing, we met a great deal of very special people. The first two were were learning to lead climb--or more appropriately one was teaching the other--and they were in great spirits. The belayer offered us use of his set, and we did the same. It was just the two pairs of us down there, and we got to work setting up. We went to the top, and I got to teach Chad some basic climbing technique: setting a top rope protection, using passive protection and natural protection, balancing load; you know, fun stuff. Chad, of course, loves this sort of thing, and was a great student.
By the time we got back down to the bottom (climbs at TF are set from the top) there was a crowd. It seems a martial arts school had taken a day together to climb, and the old man who was setting as we were was setting for about 20-30 people. Usually, I should point out, large groups of climbers tend to ruin the time for every other climber: they hog routes, they are loud, they litter, and they try to control the space. This group had kids, as well, which only adds to the problems. I have to admit I was prejudiced right away. I am happy to admit, however, that this group proved all of the above absolutely wrong. They were very nice, offered us use of ALL there sets, and kept the kids under control. I noticed, though, they had no gear for the kids. When I asked, they confirmed, and luck was with us. I bought gear for my nephew, and I offered it for their use. That broke the ice, and we spent the rest of the day as a big climbing family. I got to know a small group (6 of them) very well. They were from Moorhead, and they were the ones with the kids. The kids were all eight year olds, and girls. Despite that, or because of it, they were amazing. Well mannered, thoughtful, and genuinely happy to be there. Since I had experience teaching kids to climb, I sort of took the three of them, Nina, Harley, and Haley, under my wing, and helped them through their first climbing. The parents, of course, were appreciative, both at my ability, and my willingness to help out. It let them climb, and let them be comfortable having their kids climb.
And I have to tell you, it brought me back. There is NOTHING better than watching a child overcome something, and fear of heights is on the short list for most children. Being allowed to be a part of that is amazing. i would not have cared if I had not been thanked for doing it, it is reward enough. But these kids had manners, and all of them personally thank me for EACH climb. And with each climb, they grew more confident, and proficient, and the love, the bug, for climbing got to them.
it is just as well it did, because this was a day, and an environment, that is rare in today's climbing scene. The group around us so quickly bonded that when new people arrived, everyone introduced each other like old friends, or family at a reunion. Newcomers were shocked to learn we had only spent hours together, but were quickly shown how, and why, and gathered into the fold. We had climbers as young as eight, and as old as sixty-three. We talked about climbing at first; where we had been, what we could and could not do, gear...but soon we were talking about life, death, community, child raising...and sharing everything. Food, ideas, and truly, love, flowed freely. It sounds like a great deal of mush, and it is, but it is also true. This is what climbing was once, and what it still should be. In the middle of all of us testing ourselves, pushing limits, and enjoying some of the best scenery and nature Minnesota and Wisconsin have to offer, we were expanding our circle of friendship, dropping philosophy and joke in the same sentence, and learning new people.
When it was time to go I was actually a bit sad. Days like this are not often, and should be cherished. One of the parents, though, gave me a great compliment. "Do you do this for a living" she asked I did
"It shows. You really have a passion for helping people, and an ease with children." My heart would have burst there, but she did not stop. She asked if I could do this again for her kids and more. Of course I would.
And again, when we were telling the rest of the group goodbye, I was complimented on my compassion, and the ease with which I took to my task. These people, more my age, also wanted to climb with us again. They took my number down, and one of them entered it in his phone simple "JoshuaClimber". I was so touched I was speechless (if you can imagine)
And on the way out, a chorus of eight year old girls said, "Thank you Joshua, Thank you Chad." and giggled.
I spent the rest of the evening on cloud nine. I woke up this morning more rejuvenate (mentally) than I have been in five years. And in my face, and eyes, a smile all day. So much so, that it spilled over to Carly, and we spent her day off cuddling, and making love. I don't feel like I have the words to describe this feeling, except to say that days like this make the rest of the days worth troubling through.
And, just a few hours ago, the mood continued. My bosses came to visit the worksite, to plant new flowers and prepare the yard for summer. We talked about this, and the direction my life is taking. Laurie suggested I coach, and I said I would love to, except I would have to teach, "No," she said "I can see you coaching as an assistant in the NBA." Wow, the hits keep on coming! Laurie is, perhaps, the most knowledgeable NBA fan I have ever met, a season ticket holder to the WNBA, and a harsh critic. For her to say that was, though not on par with yesterday, one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me concerning my ability.
If this is the way things are going to go for me, I know a few things to be true:
1) I can raise children, and they can be girls. I don't have to be scared of that.
2) I can stay in Bemidji, or anywhere, and be happy.
3) I am finally close to being who I want to be.
4) People are starting to like me for me, not for who I thought I had to be.
5) Life is good.
Chad is going to be a great climber. I don't think he reads this, so I feel I can brag about him a bit. He easily climbed a 5.7 today, first try. To compare, the rating goes from 5.1 (easiest) to 5.15 (so hard only one man has climbed it). 5.7 is about the threshold of difficulty for someone who does not take climbing seriously: your average weekend warrior recreational types. Usually, this takes them a bit of work. He flashed it, no problem. He also spent a good part of the day belaying children, and really embraced the family side of climbing, instead of just the sport aspect.
Everyone I introduced myself to at the rocks called me "Joshua" I do not know if it was because I was in a leadership role, or because they were all from a martial arts school, and were taught respect, but to a man, woman, or child, they all properly used my name. You see, I ALWAYS introduce myself as Joshua. And it is almost always shortened to Josh, right away. I let it slide, but it gets to me. If I wanted to be called Josh by strangers, I would introduced myself as such. Friends and family can call me what they will, but people I just meet should respect what I call myself. They did, and it was noticeable.
Carly is better than most peoples' mates. I have known this for some time, and I am truly blessed to be with her, but this weekend was another good example. One of the two girls I was going to visit was an ex. A lot of people would be upset with that, or jealous, or anything in between. Her boyfriend sure was all those things, and spent the weekend making that obvious to her. Carly, on the other hand, said "that's cool." And, "I trust you." when I asked her why it was so cool. It is, and she should, and it is nice that's the way it works.
I am going to be a good daddy. My friends daughter is very shy, and fairly fussy, but she warmed up to me in half a day. Her sister's child was more outgoing, but we were fast friends by days end. The three girls at the rock were instant chums with me. And through all that, I taught something to each of them. I might just be able to raise a girl, after all.
Well, my ego is properly stroked for the year. Thanks for putting up with my gloating. Feel free to comment now on it.
Monday, May 01, 2006
STILL A GUY
Technology always gets my endophines a dancin', and today was no exception. Since my fiance was busy making our wedding invites with her sister all weekend, I left to hang out with friends. Upon my return, though, I found a new piece of tech in my room.
There it is, right next to the computer, our new all in one printer fax copy scanner toy. But this isn;t your mommas all in one, no, this one is sexy. Stainless steel finish, 3 inch LCD, card slots. It really does it all. This morning, I was a little tired, and it offered to make me coffee. Then it hugged me, told me I was a good person, and rubbed my feet.
So I am looking through the manual, and this thing really should do everything we want. It prints in 2400x4800dpi with 48 bit colors. With glossy paper, that looks great. I could fax things, if I could ever figure out winfax. Print phones right from the camera. Even crop them, edit the red eye.
So why, I ask, is all I can think about dropping my trow and sitting on this thing, and getting a high res copy of my ass?