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My wife loves calendar-based events.  Anniversaries, birthdays, any kind of activity that you can celebrate with a number on a calendar, she’s all about.  We celebrated the anniversary of our first date.  We still do, actually.  So when we got married, I knew that things would spiral completely out of control.  Especially when you consider that her birthday is May 1st, the anniversary of our first date is May 5th, and we got married on May 6th.  I think my checking account is going to be overdrawn.

After being with this fine, fine lady for nearly 5 years, I know one thing; no surprises.  Deep down I know she likes them, but she hates not knowing something that I know, so I just spill the beans on whatever I’m going to do for her; or better yet, ask her what she wants.  So with our first anniversary coming up as a married couple, some extra money coming in, and me being home with the free time to do something elaborate, I asked her what she would like for her birthday.  I could give her the world.

“I really want fettucini alfredo with the chicken in it.”

That’s about 8.75 at Olive Garden.  I have been absorbing recipes and cooking techniques like a dry sponge, and she wants me to make something you can get in a TV dinner.  But that’s not all; she doesn’t want anything special.  Now, I know most of you are thinking, “well, she’s just saying that.” No, she means it.  I once thought she was only ‘saying’ that as well.  Not going to make that mistake again.

And I can’t do anything really special for her, like de-winterizing her motorcycle, or getting it tuned up, because she loves to do that stuff and would be upset that I took that away from her.  I could clean the house, but then what?  That’s maybe 20 minutes of, ‘oh wow, thanks cutie’ and then there’s dog hair everywhere again.  I was considering bathing the dog….but she’s 75 pounds.  And when a 75 pound animal really doesn’t want to do something, you’re not going to win.

But that’s just May 1st.  The first day in the Carnival of Emily.  I still have a first-date anniversary (there’s only so many times you can recreate it before it feels like a trip to the dentist), and our wedding anniversary.  I feel like I’m trying to plan Mardi Gras.  So I’m working feverishly to figure out a way to totally wow her this year since it’ll be the first year of our Triumverate of Celebration, yet I’m coming up dry.  Why do I have to bring my ‘A’ game?  She threw me a surprise birthday party.  I’ve always wanted one, and she delivered.  Yeah, I have to top that.

It’s a perfect storm for one week in early May.  At least it’s only once a year.

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For lunch today

fettucini

Fettucini with pan-seared chicken in a parmesean ‘sauce’.  I say ‘sauce’ because I wanted to make an alfredo sauce to go with this, but the dog needed to come back inside, so the sauce curdled before I could get back to it.  So I made a quick egg-milk wisked concoction, threw the noodles into the pan to heat them up, and then added the egg mixture to the pan along with some cheese and parsley making sure I don’t scramble the eggs.  It was okay, but not spectacular.

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For Lunch Today

lunch1

Deli ham with provolone cheese, tomato, romaine lettuce, a home-made remoulade, on toasted ciabatta – the king of breads.

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My buddy Garvin had a post concerning his viewpoint on newspapers going non-profit.  He raises interesting points, especially by changing the point of view between the ‘commoner’ (I’m assuming he’s referring to the landed gentry in the middle ages) and a journalism major.  He brings up each side and their points very well, pointing out that from the ‘commoner’s’ standpoint, they get unbiased news (something I disagree with, but that’s for later); however, the journalism major inside him (frosted mini-wheats commercial) disagrees, because it basically forces them to prevent any and all kinds of bias, due to their non-profit tax status.

But, what he doesn’t bring up is the fact that not every ‘commoner’ reads the newspaper.  I don’t.  The last time I bought a newspaper was 3 copies last weekend to use as packing material.  I just have no interest in paying for an item that’s cumbersome, leaves my finger tips black, and has only 3-4 sections I’m actually interested in.  I don’t care about 90% of  what happens in Cleveland; I don’t live there, none of my work is affected by it, and the sports team ‘insights’ are no better than what’s found online/on the radio.  The editorials are a joke, and the political coverage is incredibly lacking.  The front page stories can easily be found at Cleveland.com, and I don’t have to wait for tomorrow morning to read about something that happened 10 minutes ago.

So, I really don’t have any use for the newspaper, and thusly, don’t read it.  No big deal, honestly.  What they provide is a service I don’t need from them, or can get elsewhere for easier/cheaper.  If enough people agree with me, and their business starts to suffer, then they’re forced to either adapt to the growing needs of their consumer base, or fall by the wayside.

For example, anyone go to a silent movie recently?  How about riding a horse to work?  What about ordering donuts online?  Exactly.  These were all services that were offered that, for a time, there was enough of a consumer base to justify their existence.  But, the people that make up that consumer base didn’t need or want their service anymore, and they fell by the wayside.

So, I ask, why should newspapers be different?  Why do they get to be especially coddled?  Why should a circle be arbitrarily drawn around them and then others say, ‘well, they’re different.’  Why should they be different from pets.com, drive-in theaters, and pet rocks?  If they provide a service that no one wants, why should they be set apart from the rest?

And if they do decide to go non-profit (I have my own issues with government rules and non-profits), and you strip away all bias in their reporting, how effective can they really be?  What are facts without context, and how can you provide that context without any kind of bias whatsoever?  And who decides what is and isn’t biased?  How will we know that a particular person’s gauge of what is ‘biased’ is the same as everyone else’s?  How do you make something as wishy-washy and personal as a point-of-view rational and concrete?

Isn’t it just easier to leave them as for-profit enterprises, and strip away any strange notion they have of remaining non-biased observers of the world?  Why not have The Plain Dealer read; “Your source for all things conservative” and let someone else provide a paper that’s a counter-point to that to the need of those who want their news from newspapers, but don’t like the point-of-view of the PD?  Why not let the competition between the two, and the need to retain an audience allow them to figure out a way to remain relevant?

What alot of people don’t know is that when the internet was young – and I mean, 14.4 baud modems young, there was essentially only one real service available; and that was newspapers.  The AP and Reuters were providing raw news wires that could be picked up by anyone, and since text was low-weight for the young modems available at the time (pictures were rare, and videos were impossible), it made newspapers incredibly valuable – some of the first websites were online editions of newspapers.  Porn may have made the internet what it is today, but newspapers made it what it was when porn took over.

If they were such pioneers in the realm of this new and soon to be powerful medium; what happened?  I really don’t know.  And I have the feeling that many people in the newspaper industry don’t know either.

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dsc_0685

 

Celebrating (ahem) years of kicking ass and taking names!

 

Of course, Pisces do rock, you know.  Hard to the core.

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Spring is nearly here

The days are finally getting longer, the sun is staying in the sky, and the snow seems desperately trying to gain a purchase, but is being dragged away by the oncoming march of warmer weather.  When the last snowfall hits, the skies begin to turn blue, and the leaves return, there is only one thing I look for; rain.  The first great deluge of the year.  See, for the entirety of winter, layer upon layer of salt has blanketed the roads until it forms a white crust.  But once the rain hits, the mana from heaven washes it all away leaving pristine and clean expanses of tarmac.

And in this world, there is only one way to enjoy that.  In the saddle of a motorcycle.

So this year, I browsed around and managed to find one that not only tickled my fancy, but grabbed hold of it and took it to places I never dreamed of.  Now, I realize that not many people I know ride; essentially it’s only my wife and I.  So, with the day hitting possibly 50 for the first time this year, I want to walk you through what it’s like.  What it’s like to own a motorcycle.

Specifically, what it will be like to own this one:

A 2009 Honda VFR-800 Interceptor.

Now, I know the first thing you notice is the headlamps, and how it looks like it’s had an appointment with an overeager plastic surgeon for a facelift, but that has a purpose.  See, when most people envision a street bike, even many who ride it, they picture this:

This is a Yamaha R1 leaning into a corner with such force that  the pegs nearly scrape the concrete.  It’s a 998cc Inline 4 DOHC engine that reaches peak power at an astronomical 12,500 rpms.  And you’ll need to take it that far, because this is the hardest of the hardcore crotch rockets.  The windscreen is low-profile and bulged to accommodate a helmet while in a full-race tuck.  The pegs are high and slug rearward, to keep out of the way as you lean into a hair-pin.  The suspension is firm with the chassis inflexible and rigid, to better allow you to sling the bike from one extreme angle to the other as you make your way around MidOhio or something.

The only problem is, there’s only one Valentino Rossi, and odds are, you’re not him.  In fact, I’m willing to be out of the entire population of motorcycle riders out there, maybe 5% can take this bike to the limit of what it can do.  And that’s where it’s happiest, because that’s what you’re paying for.  This bike is just….staggering.  But it’s also useless.

To compare it to a car, it’s basically like buying a Formula 2 car.  It’s blisteringly fast, face-ripping quick, but in traffic?  And are you really going to want to drop it down one or two gears to get into the power band to pass a truck on the highway?  And then kick it back up to 6th to cruise?  Imagine driving along in your car and every time you wanted to do something, you had to turn off the radio, turn on the windshield wipers and only then could you get enough power to the engine to pass a car on the highway.  I mean, really, do you want to bother with all that?

But the Interceptor is different.  The handlebars are wider, and further back, providing a more comfortable riding posture.  And because the handlebars are wider, and the wheels just a bit further apart, it’s more planted too.  You’ll feel confident enough that you can ride to the limit of what you can, and the bike won’t rip your head off and vomit down your neck.  And while it only has about 800cc’s worth of power compared to the 998cc’s of the Yamaha, they’re torquier and further down in the midrange, where you’ll actually use them.

Now, at this point, I want to explain something.  This:

Is a Bugatti Veyron.  It is the single most powerful, and most expensive production car on the planet.  It’s quad-turbocharged 8.0 liter W-16 engine produces an earth-shattering 1,001 horsepower.  It will reach, and this has been verified, 253 mph.  That’s 1/3 the speed of sound at sea level.  It is probably the fastest production car we will see in our lifetime.

But the interesting thing is this.  Even at 1,001 bhp, it’s something called ‘power-to-weight ratio’ that is what’s really important.  A freight train can produce far more horsepower than the Veyron, but it’s hard pressed to go any faster than maybe 60 mph.  And it’s all down to weight.  The Veyron is handicapped because it’s a car, and needs all the usual car bits that we and the government deem necessary.  So for each pound it puts on, it needs more power to push that pound along, and more power means more engine, which means more weight, which means more power, and well, you see where this is going.  Hence why getting a car to 253 mph needs so much from the engine; for every one more mile an hour you push a car, mother nature in the form of wind resistance, road friction, and that mother of all speed limiters; heat, is going to be pushing the car back.  So you need to keep the weight as small as possible.

The Bugatti Veyron weighs in at a grand total of 4,160 lbs (or 1,888 kg), with it putting out 1,001 bhp.  So the power-to-weight ratio is – 389.8 W/kg.  Which is very, very good.  For comparison, a Ford Focus with a 2.0 liter engine does about 94 W/kg.  But here’s what you have to consider…

I’ll never own a Bugatti Veyron.  Neither will you.  In fact, since this car has been in production since 2005, only 133 have ever been produced.  And the reason is pretty obvious; the car costs 1.5 million dollars.  1.5 million.  You can comfortably retire with that much.

Now, the Honda Interceptor costs about $9,000.  So with taxes, and interest on the loan, it’ll cost me maybe around $10k.  Which is probably what a car payment for a Veyron is.  Then again, if you need a loan to buy a Veyron, you probably shouldn’t buy one….

Regardless, the Honda Interceptor, with it’s weaker engine, more comfortable ride height, better ergonomics, and all the things that we and Uncle Sam say it needs, weighs in at 481 lbs (218.2 kg).  And it’s engine will produce about 107 bhp.  Which is actually about 30 bhp less than that Focus I mentioned earlier.  But here’s what you have to remember; that 107 bhp engine?  It’s only pushing you, itself, 2 wheels, and some tin foil down the road.  So it’s power-to-weight ratio?

490.3 W/kg.  That’s over 100 more than the Veyron.  That’s more than a McLaren F1, or an Ultima GTR.  And it costs less than the Focus.  In fact, you could probably get 2 for the price of that Ford.

And you know what else?  It doesn’t come with electronic steering dampers, traction control brakes, doors, windows, seatbelts, air condition, a stereo, a rear window, any of this other bullshit that just weighs down a car and removes you from the world.  No, it’s a partner, not a nanny as you go down the road.  You lean, and it turns.  Each bump in the road is transmitted directly to your hands, and the engine vibration and gear changes are mechanically communicated to your feet.  It talks to you, telling you what’s going on, and eager to take commands.  It’s the ultimate co-pilot.

And look at it!  You can just tell it’s not designed by a committee, it had to be done by some madman on a board who was pissed off at his boss and vented the energy on a piece of paper.  The exhaust has four pipes in a V-formation underneath the seat.  The angles on that thing look like something sent from the future!  Look at the shape of the tail lamps, and how it continues the contours of the rear.  Even the single-sided swing arm for the rear wheel, garishly showing off the rims.  Oh man, this bike is so much more than transportation.  It is absolute nirvana.

So to all of you out there who see a Ferrari or a Porsche and think, ‘Wow, I bet that car goes fast’.  Please.  The only thing about those cars that I like are how they look in my rear-view mirror as I blow by them on something that costs about as much as their insurance premium.  Those cars can do 0-60 in maybe 5 seconds.  I can do it in less than 4.  And I’ll be doing it on half as many tires.

So this, this is the reason why I can’t wait for the first rain of spring.  I want those roads washed and clean when I go out there.  I want to hear them scream in protest as I twist my right hand and lean into another turn.  This is why I love spring.

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Today will be…..interesting

Today I am going to be able to peer into the future.  Pulling away the curtain of time, I will glimpse that which I fear; fatherhood.  My nephew is sick, my sister has to work, and since I’m home all day, I make for a great babysitter.  Normally my youngest sister would stay home (goes to college in the area) and watch him, but she’s out on some kind of trip or something.

 

So today, I get to see what my future will be like.  I get to keep this:

 

candymancan

 

out of trouble.  Yeah.  Right.

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