America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

30 September 2005

Stuff for sale on ebay


My ebay user name is: enderw1gg1n

There is some stuff listed this weekend that I hope to sell, including the vintage wood planes which are pictured above and some old heart rate monitors. Click here to see:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6213231914&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

and here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7186242714&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

Hope to list some more things for sale this weekend.

27 September 2005

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water


A day filled with pain- I had a dentist appointment to get a lump in my gums examined, reveals that I need an emergency root canal on the molar which is the foundation of my new bridge. I had this bridge work performed in Turkey during our vacation in May of 2004. A puzzling way to spend a vacation? In the dentist's office? Maybe, until you consider that the money I $aved on the bridge work, payed for the entire trip. At any rate, the tooth became infected this past May while I was in Turkey (a year after the bridge work). I was in serious pain and the doctor gave me antibiotics, which cleared it up right quick. Now, 4 months later, it's back and it has abcessed, whatever that means. A pimple the size of a cranberry protrudes from my gum. So, I am referred to a specialist for an emergency root canal. In order to save my precious bridge, which I cannot afford to replace, I was sent to an Endodontist- the only one in Rhode Island who could do it. The dentist had to punch a small hole through the bridge to get to the tooth and perform the root canal. Start to finish this took about 15-20 minutes. I was stunned because they wanted $995 for this procedure. They were kind and dropped it to the rate they would have gotten from insurance, which I didn't have (that's another story). I paid $896. NOW, 8 hours later, my gums hurt, my bridge is sensitive to touch forget eating with that side of the mouth, and basically every tooth is sore and achy. The only relief is from icey cold water being swished around in my mouth. I've taken 4 Advils. This really sucks. The pain is a dull steady throb. If I bite down onto the bridge I'll squeal in pain. This had better get better quick!

Little Reis caught a cold, Ebru has pain in like 5 places and her mom is sniffling and nursing her bad knee. None of us are spared.

After work I went to the market. The guy in front of me in line had a lot of stuff. He loads his things onto the belt and-then-does-what-I-loath: He puts the plastic divider stick behind his food. As if I am in any hurry to unload my cart. I hate those sticks and one day hope to rid the world of them. After I am all done loading my food onto the belt, I do nothing... but the dipshit behind me reaches for the "stick" and positions it. I am so irritated by this compulsive behavior. It's on par with the impulse items hanging there at the cash registers- people reach for them without really thinking- candy bars, barbque lighters, batteries, decks of cards, mini flashlight keychains... Maybe it's me who has the problem, but I tend to think not.

I get in my car yesterday and turn on the wipers to clear some dust. What emerges from under the hood for a brief second? I don't know for sure, but it's green and living. I stop the car. I pop the hood. I carefully lift it and secure it open. There before me with a grotesquely dis-proportioned head sits a praying mantis the size of my fore arm. I grab a plastic coat hanger from the trunk and gingerly coax it to take a ride. It turns it's head to look at me as I carefully set it in the weeds. What an amazing creature. I understand some states have laws against killing them- they're rare and protected. Later I regretted that I didn't kidnap it and bring it home. It would have made a hell of an interesting pet, but not worth going to jail for...

Needless to say, I lost a lot of time today at the office. My morning and afternoon were spent at the dentist, and now I am hurting and wondering if this pain will subside by the morning. Work is piled up pretty high. Yes that's a praying mantis that has captured a hummingbird that is pictured. I spared you the bloodier picture in which the mantis impales the cute birdy's chest with it's fore claws, but if you want it I'll send you the link.

26 September 2005

Better to burn out than to fade away?

Ugh. Monday. Arrived to work late by 1/2 hour. Twenty+ e-mails to read, many of them from irritable contractors who would like to believe that THEIR project is the only one I am managing. Sometimes I want to tell them: "Hey, buddy, I have seven other projects as large and as important and as time-sensitive as yours, so simmer down, take a number, and back off." During very intense periods of pressure, this rolls through my mind many times a day. Best it stays there. I have eight projects- they total $6.5 million. It's more than I want to manage at one time, but I am paid handsomely for my efforts and I am at my best when the pressure is "on". Growing up in a chaotic childhood made me this way, I think. When everything is normal, steady, predictable, I am bored out of my mind, I fall into "nothing" mode. I believe that I have been even self-sabotaging myself at times, in order to liven things up, make them interesting enough to capture my undivided attention and my sharpened focus. That's when I find my "all" mentality, and it's so much more satisfying to give a project everything you have, to attack it with guns blazing like Al Pacino in the movie Scarface. It might one day cause my own undoing or at the very least, an occasional failure, but it's better than growing sick of what I do entirely and walking away from it. The homes you see pictured are in Rochester NY- price range of $325000-$375000.

All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away

Everyone reaches a point in his or her life, when the realization that mom or dad is not SUPERMAN, hits them squarely between the eyes. For most I believe this happens around the age of 15 or 16. For me it happened sooner, and until recentlyI wasn't sure of the exact moment when I first lost respect for my father. Up until that moment, he was the role model against which all others were judged, he was the rock-solid dependable titan that could do no wrong, he was the ideal and perfect father. What happened on that day? It dawned on me...that day will forever remained engraved in my memory. Nothing will ever erase it. I can't remember my exact age, but I estimate it to be about 1982 or so- I was about 11. My bedroom had some awful wallpaper which the previous owners had applied. It was time for a change. My mother and I spent our entire day stripping the old wallpaper off, moistening what remained so that we could remove it, prepping the surface for the wonderful new paper we had found. It had 1/4" vertical stripes in all of the colors of the rainbow. My room was going to become bright and cheerful as a sunny sky after a rain shower. Mom and I worked very hard, we worked together for many hours, as happy as we could ever hope to be... Then dad stumbled into the room, barely able to stand, reaking of booze and body odor, eyes glazed over. He took his position in the doorway and asked in some Turko-English dialect with slurred speech, what we thought we were doing and who did we think we were???? This part gets fuzzy, but there were no doubt some aspersions cast between mom and dad, and all I remember was being afraid, very very afraid. Our day had been filled with rainbows and sunshine all day, a sense of accomplishment, a diversion from the typical daily routine of dad's daily drunken-ness. Now here stood a demon among us sheep, baring his teeth and preparing to pounce. I couldn't believe my eyes when dear-ol-dad reached over and grabbed a freshly applied piece of wall paper and tore it down to the floor with one clumsy hand. This is when the trouble really started. Mom had a sheetrock knife in her hand, perhaps it was a box cutter or an x-acto knife. Whatever it was, it became a weapon in that instant that our hard work was defaced. It wasn't used, no, it was simply shown as a deterrant to what might follow... Things might have happened differently if mom had simply backed down, submitted, faked an apology for daring to improve our home without his consent. But no, she acted exactly the way I wanted her to act. I was so hurt, so disillusioned and saddened by my father's behavior that I practically wanted him to be cut. But this was just the beginning... What followed was one of the ugliest and most horrific acts that a ten year old could possibly witness- the beating of his mother. It happened so fast. It took my breath away. The sound of fists striking a person's face, a loved one's face, your mother's face, is a sound which will echo in your mind forever. The sound of pained shrieking and crying is never forgotten. The realization that Superman is a complete fraud and a coward and a loser, punches a hole right through a ten year old's soul. The unheeded cries of this ten year old, begging dad to stop, pleading for him not to kill her in between heaving sobs, might still echo somewhere in their memories. One thing is certain, on that day my whole perception of the world changed- the home where we are supposed to feel safe and secure, became a torture chamber of worry, fear and despair. A place of broken hearts and broken promises. The place where I realized that it was possible and even appropriate, to hate your father, who before then was your family's hero and protector.

To this day I've not shared this with anyone. One thing I have done tough, to help me to heal, is to forgive without being asked forgiveness. Perhaps one day I'll talk to dad about that day, remind him of how he lost me as his biggest fan, tell him of the irreversible damage done to my respect for him. It would interest me to know if it ever concerned him (during my shildhood) that I might one day hate him, loath him, fear him, disrespect him.

Something positive has been gleaned from this experience after all. I have resolved to earn my son's respect and trust and admiration, not simply expect it because of tradition, not compell him with threats and with force. Anything that we've worked hard to get, is worth making an effort to keep. It's cliche, but the phrase "easy come, easy go" rings so true sometimes. You need a license to drive, a permit to go fishing, good personal references to get a job, good credit to borrow money, but they'll let any asshole be your father. As long as fathers continue to take the privilege and honor and responsibility of fatherhood for granted, families will suffer, mothers and wives will be abused and abandoned, children will cope with empty broken promises given by so-called role models who never truly earned the distinction in the first place.

21 September 2005

I'm a Chicken Hawk



Mommy bought little Reis his Halloween cotume today. I told her it looked kind of girlish but must admit it's a cute outfit. Last year he was a giraffe, and the suit still fits, barely.

Six days since I rode the bike and today I fever has broken- I came home and went out for a brisk 28 miles, averaged 18.8 mph with an average HR of 148. This isn't too bad, although two weeks ago I could average more speed per heart beat. I am motivated to ride to/from work tomorrow. Hopefully the air isn't too cold at 6:00 am. I must give my wife Ebru credit for calling me at 4:30 to suggest that I go for a ride. Truthfully, I wasn't planning on it- I was going to put the final coat of paint on the new cellar door I built on Sunday. The weather was superb.

Looks like I've added a few pounds too, which motivates me to become active again. We should really make use of our Bally's membership- play racquetball, swim, lift weights. Trouble is, Bally's is a 25 minute drive and it's a pain to go there.

Work was productive but boring. I am trying to award a $250,000 installation contract for a school in Connecticut. We carried only $222,000 for it and the estimates we're getting range from $265k to $284k. Whatever. My job is to manage projects, not to estimate costs at bid time.
Hurricane Rita certainly has the nation's attention. Looks like Houston may get hit hard. We lived there July 1998 until February 1999. Actually we were in a beautiful suburb north of Houston called Kingwood. We've never seen a place like it. Such carefully planned and perfectly landscaped neighborhoods don't exist here in the northeast. I worked as an operations manager for a millwork shop called Laynecorp. Regrettably, my employer and I didn't have a meeting of the minds and the relationship ended abruptly. No regrets though- both they and I learned a LOT in six short months.

I think I am almost over my cold. There is still some residual congestion in my sinuses, and the lungs felt tight today on the bike. What has me really worried now is the bulge in my gums, right above my crown. It's tender and painful to the touch, but no toothache, thankfully. It seems to be an infection and it needs to be looked at in the next 48 hours. I think it might pop and ooze nasty fluids soon. Hopefully it's nothing serious. If it is, my crown will have to come off in order to work on it. It was put in over a year ago, whileon holiday in Turkey. Dental work is about 1/5 the cost in Turkey and they do MUCH better work. They have to when the patient is paying full cash price- unlike here where the insurance companies control how much a doctor is paid. You get what you pay for. If you need very costly dental work- GO TO TURKEY. You will save a fortune and spend the money staying at an all inclusive holiday village on the Mediterranean Sea coast. Smart move.

20 September 2005

Summer is Almost Over- and Will Be Missed



It's definitely in the air. Days are noticably shorter. Nights are cooler. The air is crisper.

I slept 12 hours last night- 8:00 pm until 8:00 am. Reis had an appointment with the pediatrician at 10:00 so I decided to call in and let my employer know I would be late. Of course that meant that I needed to work late today and make up lost time. Not a problem.

This weekend we are planning to go to Rochester to visit my mom and brother, among others. This trip has been planned and postponed about three times this summer. Time to just do it before Ebru's mom returns to Turkey. I miss my Mom and my brother Ali and, well, that's it, unless superior residential architecture and dirt cheap home prices count. Man, what we could own in Rochester for cash money, couldn't be bought here for under $500,000. Of course, who in Rochester would offer me a job that pays what I now earn? Nobody. It would be a huge pay cut to move there. It doesn't interest me. If the economy were to go bust and if I lost my job, then I would consider it, as a last resort. My career has the potential to develop into something more lucrative in the not-too distant future- why throw that away?

Home prices ARE coming down- inventory of homes for sale is creepng up. Our town had only about 60 homes for sale a couple of years ago. Now it's up to 103, which is ten more homes than even just two weeks ago. We want to sell, but another price cut is out of the question I think. The right buyer with the right price is out there somewhere. Please find us! The home we want to get into is still active on the market, and we're ready to pounce in the instant we get an offer for ours. There's still hope.

18 September 2005

Cellar Door- Heaven and Hell- Devil's Advocate




I am glued to the screen whenever I chance upon the movie "The Devil's Advocate". WHY Why why? There are many favorites that I simply click-thru without a second glance, but this movie always hooks me. In the first place, I am a huge fan of Al Pacino and Cherlize Theron (sp?). I like Keanu, but it ends there. The characters in D.A. are so damned interesting. No pun intended. Theron is superb. Pacino is the perfect man for his role. No one could pull it off as he did. The story line is unbelievable, yet the performance is such that it makes it appear so REAL, so possible. You practically want to meet the devil and accept a job offer. But of course it all falls apart in the end, and turns out to be a dream Reeves had in the instant that he was washing his face, at the beginning of the movie. Superbly filmed, it ranks high in my list of top ten favorite movies.

Today was a day of remodeling, as was yesterday. In two days I installed both a new fuel oil door and a new basement door. The pictures above should speak for themselves. It's like night and day. We had another open house today, and I was trying to get this work done in time for it at 1:30, but I fell a little short of that goal. At 1:30 the two doors were not yet cut to size, but I did this when we returned at 3:30. Took until 7:30 to complete it as you see pictured. Was my weekend restful and fun? Not exactly. Was it productive and good for the family? Absolutely, because we just eliminated another objection that a potential buyer might have against purchasing our home. That brings us closer to the goal of getting into a smaller, brand new maintenance free home in a perfect location. I wouldn't change a thing about this weekend. Didn't even touch the bike!

I've re-read my last posting to this blog and I'm stunned at myself. Was I on an acid trip? Of course not. That was something that I've been keeping to myself ever since I was six years old, when grand-dad passed away. That thinking needed to be brought out of the dark and into the open. Nothing sinister or bad or shameful about it. I want to believe in an after-life, but it's hard to believe in the pre-packaged heavens and hells which organized religion and pop culture sells to us. I don't think we'll all be split into two groups. I don't think heaven, if such a thing exists, is an existence where we can have anything we want as the world's cartoons and holy books would have you believe. Instead, I think that heaven is an existence where our desire for "things" will disappear, making it seem as if we already have everything we want and need. It is a place where supreme knowledge of everything in the universe will be the ultimate gift. That's my idea of heaven. To know it ALL. Hell is too heinous a place for any G-d to create, but it definitely has the signature and finger-prints of human-kind all over it. Only PEOPLE could dream up such a place, where the bad people will bathe in molten rock and eat animal waste and drink raw sewage and suffer immeasurably for eternity. G-d gave us DESIRE. It's the only thing besides our physical bodies that makes us different from Angels. Desire is what gets us all into trouble. It's like giving a toddler a lollipop and telling him NEVER to eat it- a toddler! If he eats it, he will be punished for ever and ever. What tripe! WHY GIVE IT TO HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! No this is all too messed up for a Perfect Supreme Being to "publish". Either that or all of the editing was done by us idiots down here. It's a chapter we humans added because we knew that the attractiveness of Heaven was not sufficient for most of us to fight desire and resist temptations. There needed to be a Plan B for those who strayed. We thought it would be enough- that all of us would be "scared straight" so to speak, by the prospect of Hell. Well apparently this isn't enough either, but I guess we had the right idea. We took it a step further and resolved to punish the really bad sinners - by contradicting one of the original Commandmants from G-d. We sentence the real scum to death and take matters into our own hands. "Justice" is meted out by our government against the deviants in the form of hangings, lethal injection, firing squads, beheadings, electrocution...to name a few. See we're not completely sure there is a Hell, so we had just better make sure that the sinners suffer in this life, at the very least. We don't care if it pleases G-d or not, as long as our "Desire" for "Justice" is fulfilled. If a place such as Hell exists, it's about as effective a deterrent against sin as the death penalty. HA! The joke's on us!

17 September 2005

Random Thoughts

Doctors are planning to perform the first ever face transplant very soon. Reminds me of the NPR radio show where someone had written a book about Walter Freeman- the pioneer of frontal lobotomies: "Walter Freeman lifted the patient's eyelid and inserted an ice pick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A few taps with a surgical hammer breached the bone. Freeman took a position behind the patient's head, pushed the leucotome about an inch and a half into the frontal lobe of the patient's brain, and moved the sharp tip back and forth. Then he repeated the process with the other eye socket."
That sounds painful. For a little more info, click here: http://www.mcmanweb.com/article-122.htm
Today was sunny, warm, pleasant, then later it was cloudy and now it's raining. I did some carpentry on the house today- one of those "3 years of planning" items- the little bulkhead door covering the fuel oil filler pipe. Sounds simple but it wasn't - I used mahogany and poplar scraps that were salvaged from where I work to build a strong frame. I used 3/4" Medex plywood to fashion a door. I used old wrought iron hinges that I salvaged from another part of the house. After painting everything white and installing, it started to rain outside. The paint is probably ruined and the water has probably penetrated the Medex, which is really designed to withstand only light moisture. Oh well- I'll make a new door in 10 minutes I suppose.
I spent 5 hours working on this. During that time Ebru painted 9 window frames. Who do you think took more pride in the outcome of their work? Enough said. Anything worth doing, is worth doing right. I am reminded of the movie "Last Samurai". Tom Cruise's character describes the Samurai thusly: " From the moment they wake, they devote themselves....to the perfection of whatever they pursue--"
No bike riding since Wednesday...My weight is still in the lower 160s, which is a relief, because I have not been in caloric deficiency in a few days, as I am when I ride every day... My battery for my Polar heart rate monitor arrived today. Paid $1.59 for it on ebay, plus $4.99 shipping. Could find it nowhere else. Will the 12 exercises stored in the HRM be lost when I extract the old battery? I hope not. Worked at the office this morning. Yesterday's field measuring at Woburn needed to be communicated to my team while I could still retain the information. Monday would have been too late. Glad I didn't register for Bob Beal Masters Weekend- the weathers crappy. Open house tomorrow- our third since listing. Please G-d bring us a buyer?! We want out of here so badly, but then, I believe there will be some regret and sadness on moving day...
Just returned from dinner with Kaan and Laima- they're moving to their new home very soon and our 3rd floor will be vacant. We plan to spend some time up there during winter to take advantage of the trapped heat which rises from the two floors below. Heating oil prices are off the chart... We went to bed at 10:00 last night. How refreshing it is to get 8 hours of sleep! I tend to be a night owl. My senses and brain activity is at it's peak between 10 and 1:00 am, like right now. I could write a screenplay or compose music if I wanted to, but not during the day. During the day I want to sleep or at least be oblivious to the world, unless I am riding my bike of course. Today I had 14 carpenters working at a jobsite in Wallingford CT. Only received 2 phone calls from my foreman. Hopefully they did me proud- there's a ton of casework and countertops to install at that school, and we are only able to work after shool hours and on weekends. It's a real horror show. At least my customer has agreed to pay the overtime, finally. It was an act of congress to get them to own up to their failures, which caused the late delivery of our woodwork. Typical. I have hands that might be considered on the small side. I've always wondered if this would be an advantage in the field of surgery. It kind of makes sense- large clumsy hands will struggle with stitching flesh and handling small medical instruments. My fingers are very webbed though, and perhaps this is what makes my hands and fingers look small. I'd make a lousy swimmer- I'm not good at it in the first place. Fast swimmers have big hands with lots of surface area I suppose. I spent very little time with our son Reis today, and I want to go and wake him up. He has a new bed shaped like a race car! Two years old and out of the crib already. He can recite the whole alphabet, count to ten in two languages. Potty training should be a cinch, but he's not ready yet. Looks like his paternal grandfather more and more each day... Me? I'm 34 and I look 50. The years have not been kind. I have bad skin overall, adult acne and acne scarring from my teenage years. A face transplant? No but maybe one of those laser CO2 peels will help. I saw a program the other day- a man got the peel done, but his skin was all shiny afterward, as if he was a burn victim with scar tissue. Skin gets shiny when it's scarred so it makes sense. Who the hell cares? As long as my heart is strong I'm happy. Sometimes I worry that it will just stop beating, for no apparent reason. Top pro athletes with excellent conditioning have dropped dead unexpectedly. I'll lie awake in bed, listening to my heart beat, and wonder if it's tired, or if one of it's walls is diseased or thinning and about to rupture. Mostly though I worry it will start beating uncontrollably fast and just seize up. If that's how I'm gonna go, and I knew it, would I want to know the exact moment that it will happen? Would I tell anyone? If I knew it was going to happen in my sleep, would I be terrified of going to bed? I'm not sure, but I know my paternal grandfather announced to the family that his time had come, on the eve of his death. He went to bed and to sleep as usual and never awoke. I was 6 years old and had not really grasped the concept of death. Besides he was 1/2 world away. I did not mourn. I hardly knew him. I was a child. I was his first grandson, and I am often told how much he cared about me, how much he adored me. All my life I've wondered if he is in a place where it's possible to see me. For the most part I've assumed that he could, that he was monitoring my progress in life, maybe worrying about me, perhaps even intervening in ways that could help me. This thought pattern has helped me over the years, to want to be a good person, to want to be successful, to want to be a person he would have been proud of, a person that he IS proud of. My maternal grandfather joined him recently. Are there now two sets of watchful eyes fixed upon me? This all sounds so self-centered, forgive me, but pride has not been a family value- shame and guilt always trumped pride, so the deficiency is filled with the hope that at the very least, dead people are proud of who I am and of the things I achieve. Rest in peace Mustafa Ergurbuz. Rest in peace Hamit Altinbasak. I wish never to disappoint you...

15 September 2005

Dedicated to all SINGLE MOTHERS - Especially Mine


Everclear is a band which Ebru and I saw live at Lupos Heartbreak Hotel in Providence Rhode Island a few years back. A very up close and intimate venue where we've seen many bands- Papa Roach, Fuel, Collective Soul, American HiFi, Sevendust, Lisa Loeb, Tantric, Human Clay. The crowd went wild when Everclear played "Father of Mine", which is a song I will dedicate to another person, at another time. The song I wish to dedicate to my Mother and every other single mom who is struggling with and conquering life, is called "Wonderful". Alexakis paints a picture that I believe millions of us can relate with- alcoholic or absent father- violence and abuse at home- broken promises- and mom holding everything together AND making sure their children still have the most important gift of all- hope.
Here are the words:
I close my eyes when I get too sad
I think thoughts that I know are bad
Close my eyes and I count to ten
Hope it’s over when I open them
I want the things that I had before
Like a star wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
Make everything be wonderful again
Hope my mom and I hope my dad
Will figure out why they get so mad
Hear them scream, I hear them fight
They say bad words that make me wanna cry
Close my eyes when I go to bed
And I dream of angels who make me smile
I feel better when I hear them say
Everything will be wonderful someday
Promises mean everything when you’re littleAnd the world’s so big
I just don’t understand how
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
Tell me everything is wonderful now
Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now
I go to school and I run and play
I tell the kids that it’s all okay
I laugh aloud so my friends won’t know
When the bell rings I just don’t wanna go home
Go to my room and I close my eyes
I make believe that I have a new life
I don’t believe you when you say
Everything will be wonderful someday
Promises mean everything when you’re littleAnd the world is so big
I just don’t understand how
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
When you tell me everything is wonderful now
NoNo, I don’t wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
NoNo, I don’t wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
I don’t wanna hear you say
That I will understand someday
No, no, no, noI don’t wanna hear you say
You both have grown in a different way
No, no, no, noI don’t wanna meet your friends
And I don’t wanna start over again
I just want my life to be the same
Just like it used to be
Some days I hate everything
I hate everything
Everyone and everything
Please don’t tell me everything is wonderful now...I don’t wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now

14 September 2005

Each a Few Makes, To The Death Till The End



The pictures above were taken on our 10 year wedding anniversary. The road leads to the top of Uludag Mountain in Bursa Turkey, which is pictured down below. This is a pretty big hill which climbs continuously for about 15 miles- beginning from my grand parents house in Maksem. On this day, I took my camera with me to get a Kodak moment out of it. I have climbed this mountain road on bike many times- in 1989, 1994, 1995 and this year, 2005. I feel strangely connected to it, like it's calling me and like I belong there always. Since I was a baby I've been up this road with family for picnics at the National Park near the summit. It's little wonder that I am so attracted to Uludag. (The "g" is silent) Now I realize... near the top of this road, you are in the clouds, "wandering in a haze", as the song says...

Lately I am listening to my old Pete Townshend disc. Originally I had bought the tape, back in 96. I wore it out during that summer and then lost it. Bought the CD a year ago and forgot I had it. Anywho, there are some songs on there that definitely remind me of those times...

Ebru and I were married one year, living in our house in Rochester New York. Her mom was visiting from Turkey, her first visit to the US ever. I had bought an old jalopy station wagon- a white Peugeot from the mid 80s. I loved that car- the lines the body and size etc, but it was so problematic to drive. Paid $500 for it, to a workplace acquaintance of my Mom's. I cursed the person who sold it to me over and over again during that summer. The starter had a dead spot. I had to carry around a broomstick at all times- or any other long device. To start the holy French piece of CRAP, you had to open the hood, reach the poking stick into the engine, find the starter, with the end of it, and start tap-tap-tapping it, WHILE turning the ignition. For whatever reason, this worked. Sometimes the dead spot would be positioned favorably and it would start ok, but this was rare... Of course it also had fuel pump and injector problems, but the body and the interior were soooo perfect, I was relentless in my pursuit of motoring joy. A mechanic once told me to put it down, I was wasting my time and my money. At any rate, old Pete Townshend and I spent a lot of time together in the old jalopy that summer, cruising up and down the NYS Thruway. I was working as a carpenter for a company in Buffalo, and my job that summer was to be the foreman at a project just up the road from Turning Stone Casino in Vernon-Verona. I stayed at the Days Inn four nights a week, leaving wife and mother-in-law home by themselves. We didn't like this arrangement, but the money was like medicine back then- $28-35 per hour depending upon the project location. We were very broke and this stint of employment enabled us to get caught up with our mortgage payments. At the end of the summer, I ended up getting laid off and we were behind again- I was unemployed until February of 1997 actually- no benefits. That winter Ebru went to Turkey with her mom to sort things out- it was a depressing and stressful time and she was burnt out from it all. So was I, but I couldn't see the forest through the trees. I was 25 years old... "Slit Skirts"- what a cool song. It dawned on me today that my age is the same as the character singing that song: "I was just 34 years old... and I was still wandering in a haze..." Actually there are a few words I can't make out while listening- I just mumble them, so why not find the true lyrics and paste them below once and for all? The music on this disc has really stayed with me, and some of the songs trigger a tightening of my throat, an unstoppable need to cry. The summer of 1996 still haunts me I guess. Recently I discovered that Ebru does not want to even remember those times. I want to remember them though. Pete will help make sure that I do...

I was just thirty four years old and I was still wandering in a haze
Wondering why everyone I met seemed like they were lost in a maze
I don't know why I thought I should have some kind of divine right to the blues
It's sympathy not tears people need when they're the front page sad news
The incense burned away and the stench began to rise
And lovers now estranged avoided catching each others' eyes
And girls who lost their children cursed the men who fit the coil
And men not fit for marriage took their refuge in the oil
No one respects the flame quite like the fool who's badly burned
From all this you'd imagine that there must be something learned....
Slit skirts - Jeannie never weas those slit skirts
And I don't ever wear no ripped shirts
Can't pretend that growing old never hurts
Knee pants - Jeannie never wears no knee pants
We have to be so drunk to try a new dance
So afraid of every new romance
Slit skirts slit skirt
Jeannie isn't wearing those
Slit skirts slit skirt
She wouldn't dare in those
Slit skirts slit skirt
Wouldn't be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance romance
Why aren't we thinking upRomance
Why can't we drink it upTrue heart romance
Just need a brief new romance
Let me tell you some more about myself you know I'm sitting at home just now
The big events of the day are passed and the late TV shows have come around
I'm number one in the home team but I still feel unfulfilled
A silent voice in her broken heart complains that I'm unskilled
And I know that when she thinks of me she thinks of me as "Him"
But unlike me she don't work off her frustration in the Gym
Recriminations fester and the past can never change
A woman's expectations run from both ends of the range
Once she woke with untamed lovers' face between her legs
Now he's cooled and stifled and it's she who has to beg
Slit skirts slit skirt
Jeannie isn't wearing those
Slit skirts slit skirt
She wouldn't dare in those
Slit skirts slit skirt
Wouldn't be seen dead in no slit skirt
Romance romance
Why aren't we thinking up Romance
Why can't we drink it upTrue heart romance
Just need a brief new romance

13 September 2005

Still Battling the Forces of Evil


Monday morning I was a mess. Couldn't breath, couldn't swallow anything, painful congestion all around, sleeplessness, exhaustion, you name it. I got up at 7:0 an wrote an e-mail to my employer announcing that I would be coming in late, if at all. A few hours later I pulled myself together and went to work, not thrilled about it. At 9:00 I was the last man out of the office. I mean, I'm out of sick time and every moment I miss must be "made up". It was good though, I did a lot of catching up in the quiet.
Today I improved marginally. Chest still congested and I am coughing a lot, sneezing and blowing my runny nose. On top of it, there is a zit wedged someplace between my nostril and upper lip- can't see it, but it hurts like hell. Can't even blow my nose without wincing.
It goes without saying that I am off the bike since Sunday. It makes me angry and sad that my form is diminishing with each passing day. The shortened days add anxiety to the mix, as I fret about having no daylight left after work to train. Today I resolved to ride to/from work as much as possible into the fall. It's the only way to do any miles at all.
Bob Beal Masters Race is this weekend. I haven't pre-registered and I don't believe I will, not after an illness and loss of form. Why set myself up for disappointment? Better to train on my own terms and re-gain fitness that way. I will leave the window open for Wells Ave though. Apparently there are two left for this season.
My complaints of illness seem trivial and pathetic compared to the pain depicted in the picture above:

"A mourner leans on a flag-draped coffin of Turkish soldier Ibrahim Ceylan during a funeral ceremony in central Istanbul September 12, 2005. Turks, including soldiers and officers in several rank, marched on Monday in Istanbul after coffins of the Turkish soldiers killed in clashes on Sunday against the outlawed PKK Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey."
12 Sep 2005 REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

11 September 2005

Sunday isn't much better

Yeah I resolved to race Wayne Elliot today no exceptions. But I went to Wells Ave first and nearly puked all over myself as I gagged on my own phlegm. I was done after about 25 minutes. The legs were fresh but the lungs were congested and tight and simply painful. It hurt to breath for a while afterwards. Per usual my infection begins in my throat and migrates down to the bronchia and lungs. So although I felt better overall, I wasn't fit to perform in a race. Before the race began my HR was in the 140s and 150s. I thought my monitor was broken, but it was my body stressing over the infection and the impending shortness of breath.

On a very positive note, our team won the race, more specifically Thad Lavalee won it by a bike length, after lapping the field with a few other riders. Excellent performance- Thad made it look easy. Unlike me, everyone else hung in through to the end, including Olivia, Bob and Rick. Mark Stockwell raced the earlier event and I thought I saw Welles there too.

So it's too bad I pre-registered for Wayne Elliot, but I don't care. That race was sure to be more punishing than Wells Avenue and I wasn't up for that. Now I am home just puttering around, thinking about taking a nap. I'm also fretting about my projects at work. It wouldn't take but a couple days of being out sick for everything to get derailed pretty badly. Best to take it easy today and try to get well and strong for the week ahead.

This cold has really put me in a tailspin. One day you feel invincible and the next you are brought to your knees by some microscopic organism. What gets me the most is the lost time. I wasn't planning on forced rest and recovery. Illness steals time from your life, and to me every moment is priceless.

10 September 2005

A Saturday Ruined by Illness

Today there was a race called the Topsfield Circuit Race. In preparation for this event I did the following yesterday:
  1. Bought a new Continental Sprinter tubular tire for the rip-off price of $70.
  2. I glued and mounted the tire to replace a rear flat- My tubular wheelset is much faster than my training set, and I wanted to be at my best at Topsfield.
  3. I cleaned every inch of my bike, removing all of the grease and road grime of the past month- no easy task- one which I absolutely loath.
  4. I removed and cleaned the chain- a messy and disgusting job that I never do.
  5. I installed my new Speedplay pedals, even though my old ones were okay to use.
  6. I washed all of my cycling clothes.
  7. I ate a huge plate of pasta shortly before bed-time. I am not a huge fan of carb loading but I did it anyway in anticipation of my first road race for the season.
  8. I skipped a training ride in favor of preparation of equipment and getting rest.
  9. I let all of my team mates know that I would be seeing them at the race.
  10. I enthusiastically told people at work that this weekend, I would be racing on both Saturday and on Sunday.
  11. I installed the amber lenses of my Rudy Project glasses.
  12. I made a fine tuning adjustment to my saddle position, and I straightened my stem position- it was off by a 100th of a degree.
  13. I set the alarm for 6:00 am and finally went to bed at 12:00 midnight, feeling fine.

The past 18 hours have been extremely miserable and disappointing. At 2:00 am our son awoke- he's been sleeping with us and he's fighting a cold. He cried and cried. I awoke with a scratchy throat, so I rushed downstairs to take some vitamin C and get a throat lozenge. At 4:00 am Reis awoke again, and this time I decided to sleep on the couch in the next room. By this time, my throat felt like I had swallowed sulfuric acid. I fell right asleep, hoping that this was just an allergic throat itch or something. At 6:00 am the alarm went off in the bedroom- I rushed to turn it off and realized that my throat was like a five alarm fire. Swallowing was painful, my nose was running and I felt like my energy was completely sapped.

At this point I had to decide- do I tough it out at the race, risking further deterioration and a crappy result? Or do I call it quits, get as much rest as possible and do my best on Sunday at the Wayne Elliot Crit?? I chose the latter, and at this point I feel a certain regret, but I have also spent MOST of the day in bed sleeping through this fast moving illness. I'm pretty sure I would have dropped out of Topsfield after lap number one. The sport of cycling is painful enough without a head and chest cold. To add insult to injury, the weather outside is absolutely heavenly. Mid 70's, dry crisp air and not a cloud in the sky.

I'm not sure whether I hate myself for getting sick or if I hate the decision I made to skip the race or if I hate the G-d that created viruses and bacteria- seemingly for either population control or to screw up the best laid plans of this amateur cyclist.

I can't describe my angst. It's like getting your period on the morning of your wedding day, I suppose, except that I cancelled the wedding because of it. Tomorrow, rain or shine, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, I am going to race at Wayne Elliot or at Wells Ave or at both if the drive in between is short enough. The pace at which this virus is progressing gives me some hope. Regrets and apology to my team mates who were expecting to see me today. I hope everyone's Saturday was better than mine.

07 September 2005

Powder Room- BEFORE- scroll down to see it finished





Pretty disgusting. It took a lot of visualizing to make this come together and harvest enough motivation to get started and complete it. See below!

Powder Room- AFTER


This took 3 years for me to get to it, but took only 2-3 weeks to complete. That toilet is as heavy as a sack of dead cats, and just as awkward to lift. Per usual, my drain connection is drippy. Funny how the low pressure stuff will leak but the hi pressure supply lines won't. What you don't see is the figured anigre feature column, next to the toilet, and the borrowed lite frame above the toilet. The flooring is laminate. The baseboard is not yet painted.

Another Personal Best Time



Today I ventured out onto my hilly TT course. Really gunned it to the top of the hill on route 12- using the 53x19 gear for the first time. Previous best was about 26:25 and today I did it in 25:15. This is the time from my house to the top of the climb. My times started out over 30 minutes in April and May. My weight is down to 164 so it comes as no surprise. But using the big ring made the difference. Early season this just isn't possible- not enough power to turn the gear and not enough strength to keep turning it. So when weight goes down 25+ pounds, power goes up. This is happy news, because it means I am still on an improvement curve and haven't really peaked fully. This weekend I plan to do a road race on Sat and a crit on Sunday. The following weekend is Bob Beal weekend stage race. Timing seems very good for me to peak in the next 10-20 days. My damn heart rate monitor refuses to upload my last 15 rides because the battery is low. Went to the mall to find the battery- no one has it. Oh well. Hopefully Landry's or Union Cycle have one for me. Today I felt better than yesterday- went to bed at 8 last night and got up at 7. Sleep was definitely deficient and I needed to bank some ZZZs. No offers, or showings for that matter, of our home which is for sale. It's getting frustrating because we have dropped the price $100,000 since we first listed. The house we want to buy is still available, but at this rate, it will be gone by the time we are ready. Why don't we just stay here and forget about selling? The house is 95% of completely refurbished- a 14 room colonial built in the 1860s. Taxes are a little high. Lots of space to heat in winter. We've never lived in a place for this long (3+ years)and perhaps it will be tougher to say goodbye. Work is frantic, but my productivity is down lately. I think I'm just bored of my projects and tired of dealing with their respective players. Certain incompetence at my workplace adds to the frustration. I love my job, but doing the work is what I hate.
Picture of our home's front. Doesn't fit into one picture.

05 September 2005

Labor Day



Some of today's trivia:
-installed mirror in powder room (we now officially have 3 full baths and 1 half bath)
-installed closure panel on the left of the dishwasher (have been meaning to do this for 3 years)
-under-cut side foyer door so that it can close properly (yup, 3 years of planning)
-rode the bike 32 easy miles- met a guy on the bike path- "Cesar" from Dominican Republic- 24 year old who's been here 3 years and wants to race bikes. I may mentor him a little bit to get him going on the right track. Seems to have potential.
-almost crashed during my ride when an oncoming teenager swerved towards me. Deft handling skills were instinctive, gratuitous expleteves were restrained.
-did not drink one beer all weekend (I have no drinking problem, and rarely drink anyway) how many other Amerikans stayed dry all weekend?
-pain in my right knee is vexing and really limiting my exertion. I need to fine tune my saddle position or something. Saturday's 72 mile ride is to blame, plus all of the sprinting I did during Sunday's Wells Ave crit.
-thought about selling my SOMEC frameset on ebay, then I thought about how much new frames will cost in 10-20 years, when Reis is old enough to want a race bike. This frame is scratched up from hard use but will be a great bike to ride down the road. I don't need the money so I'm keeping it.
-tested out the vacuum feature of my leaf blower- wasn't impressed and felt like an idiot walking around the driveway vacuuming up leaves- autumn is almost here.
-installed coat hook rack and key rack in the garage foyer (we have 3 foyers)- later I joked to Ebru that I couldn't find my keys- dry humor at it's worst
-I meant to go to the office today to get caught up, but it was so damn nice out. I'll put in the hours tomorrow night instead. It's Labor Day for G-d's sake.
-rode my bike past 30 Audubon- the house we want. I just love that street and the size of the lots (all 1 acre+) The homes are spread far apart and look great. Might re-new our offer this week with different terms. Then again, the more we fix this place up, the less we want to move out. Plus the real estate market seems to have peaked, for real this time.
-Look forward to a busy, intense, stressful and productive four-day week.
-That's the old SOMEC pictured above from back in June. The yellow bike made it's debut on July 10th- EPX all carbon frame. I have lost about 15 pounds since that day. I am 163 and still dropping weight. Should be under 160 in no time.

04 September 2005

Labor Day Weekend


It's Sunday night. Tomorrow's Labor Day. I need to go to the office tomorrow for 1/2 day to get caught up on paperwork. Yesterday I rode the bike 72 miles, and my right knee is paying the price- it is sore from over-use. My typical bike rides are short and intense, never more than 2 hours. We went to Scarborough Beach when I returned and had a great time swimming, sunbathing, eating, riding the waves. A sweet day, a model day, all days should be so nice- but they're not. Ebru remarked at one point: "Is this how normal people pass their weekends? People who aren't compelled to remodel and repair their homes all the time?" I grinned and knew what she meant. Selling our home will be a load off of our backs, or our TIME to be more precise. No offers yet, but the original place we wanted- 30 Audubon Lane- is still available. I am hopeful we can still buy it. Ebru is less attached to it than I. We'll see what happens. Need to sell 100 Maple Avenue first. It's a story book address. Who wouldn't want such an address?

This morning I drove up to Wells Ave for the penultimate criterium of the season. Our team was well represented, the A and B fields combined- most racers are up in Vermont doing Green Mountain Stage Race. My knee was definitely a factor. I was very active at the front for the 1st half, but had to reign myself in for the 2nd half. The pain was more than I expected. In the end, I finished mid-field while many of my team mates finished top 20. That's okay though. I know where I stand and my form is the best it's ever been. When the knee is a little rested I'll be a force again. That's all for now.