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Friday, March 26, 2010


The photo at the left is a picture of my daughter jumping over a crevice at the top of Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks. Its an 4 hour hike and 5000 feet of climbing to reach the summit, over some very rocky and rutty terrain. Then you have to turn around and hike back down.

It takes a lot of courage to climb a mountain or jump over a crevice. Having been through experiences like this helps you have courage in other areas of your life. I am finding it takes a lot of courage to fight cancer. Courage I had not built up despite making this climb and many others. I am also finding this courage spills over into other areas of my life. I find I have the courage to speak out more. To stand up to people and situations I would have shied away from in the past. There is an art to letting things wash over you, but there is also a need to tell people who are annoying, hurtful or rude to stop. So if your full of yourself and hanging around me you just might get treated to a shot of my new found courage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The story of the missing link..40 years in the making

If it ain't broke don't fix it right. Don't tell that to an engineer (Explains my writing style doesn't it). Our motto is, if it ain't broke, you just haven't tried hard enough to break it yet. Or how the hell does this thing work I think I will take it apart to find out. Or I can make this way better if I modify, adjust, or just fiddle with it. So goes the story of my life with mechanical things. When I was around 5 years old I took my bike apart and couldn't get it back together. I seem to always remember having a bike to ride, my Dad put it back together. I just wish he had showed me how he did it. Of course, being only 5, youv'e got to wonder how much I would have been able to comprehend. For the past 6 years I have been engrossed in a hobby of cycling. Not just riding the darn things but assembling, disassembling, cleaning, modifying, improving learning and thinking about improving the dozen bikes which have gathered in my garage. Now most of them are not mine, I have 5 other people who ride 8 of the bikes in there. Although I have been known to borrow them from time to time. I do however claim 4 of the bikes and I spend a good bit of time tinkering with them.

What I have come to learn is this, in cycling, mechanical stuff is complicated. Bike Parts are designed to work in a certain way, if assembled incorrectly (wrong bolt torque, type of grease, orientation of assembly type of part etc) all hell breaks loose. Its pretty overwhelming for someone doing this as a hobby.

Heres a recent example: My wife was having trouble shifting the gears on her bike, she has small hands and the shift lever required a lot of travel and she would not be able to shift it, (This would be the all hell breaking loose part). Usually this happened on a steep hill where she would be stuck in a high gear and end up having to stand up on the bike to get it to the top. It would be way too easy and not as much fun to go to the local bike shop and have them fix it. So I set to work adjusting fiddling, modifying etc. I get most of the job done when I notice that after the modification the chain is too long. So the chain has a little quick link which allows it to be taken apart. I have some of these on other bikes which I have taken apart successfully. So I go about trying to remove it. No luck. In fact no amount of pliering, hammering, use of excessive force or foul language will free this thing up. Well if theres one thing I have learned in 35 years its once four letter words start coming out of my mouth, its time to seek professional help (or the occasional ambulance ride). So off I go to the local bike shop and say "Hey man this thing is stuck If you can get it apart I......and before I could say "will give you fifty bucks" the bike shop guy hands me back the chain with the quick link disconnected. Perhaps he shoudn't have done it so quickly. I am there thinking this guy is a freaking David Copperfield. "Can you show me how you did it..." I felt like I was asking Tiger Woods how he hits the ball 300 yards. Well actually I felt like I was asking Tiger Woods how he kept all that skank a secret for so long. But I digress. So I was taken into the inner sanctum of solitude and shown the secret trick. Everything with bike repair is like that. Theres always some trick where it takes me and hour and 1000 lbs of force and someone shows me how to do it in 30 seconds with ease. I guess thats whats so intriguing about working on bikes..theres always something new to learn and an incredible sense of satisfaction when you learn how to do it correctly. 40 years later and I can actually put a bike back together...with a little help from my friend at the bike shop that is.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Golf Swing

Just in case you were wondering what my golf swing looks like. Here it is.
The club is a 54 degree wedge. I hit the ball about 100 yards in each swing. Effortless!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The golf fix

I watch this show on Golf Channel called the Golf Fix. It is hosted by this guy "Michale Breed" who is a poster child for Ritalin. I really enjoy it. I have been studying and playing golf for 12 years and have gotten pretty good, but my swing has problems, and like every other golfer who has tried to fix their own swing, you tend to end up with something that looks like your trying to wound a duck. Have a look at Charles Barkely, Jim Furyk, or my father in law(who has read every golf book in the world but has a swing that is.... lets just say its self taught and leave it at that).

Well Michael was able to very simply describe how to fix a number of things in my swing, most of them in the setup and grip. I practiced then in my garage and yard over the winter and was able to hit a few wedges in the yard. Everything felt good and seemed right and it really seemed like I had discovered that I had compounded many faults in my swing, aka adapted one fault to correct for another one.

I played my first round yesterday with my new swing. Well its actually a new setup and grip. (As Michael says, in golf most faults occur before you begin to move the club, or as in life most faults occur before you begin to move your mouth). The first tee box at my club is intimidating. The tee box is lined with trees on the left and right (not unlike 18th at Augusta photo at left). I have hit the trees on the right quite a few times. The ball ricochets and lands by the womens tee (Invoking an old and rather embarrassing rule, which requires one to hit his next shot displaying visual evidence that he is in fact not a woman). I was very anxious as other golfers teed off and had to hit Mulligans. My wife Debra then teed it up and made her first golf swing in 5 months and hit a beauty right down the middle about 175 yards out. So up I stepped, did my new routine, new setup, new grip, what could go wrong. Well I piped it down the middle about 250. Maybe the best drive I have ever hit on that hole ever. I walked off the tee box down the fairway yelling "Michael Breed, I love you, I want to have your baby". Well ok I may have gotten a little too excited. Anyway, for the rest of the round, I hit the ball better than I ever have with less effort. Michael Breed "I do love you", but you can forget about that baby thing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Howling at the Moon

Last night I went out for the first time after my first chemotherapy treatment. The stars were out and beautiful. After a beautifully sunny day, the sky was as clear as I have seen it in a while. We had dinner with some friends and one of them asked me if I just wanted to go outside and look up at the moon and ask God "Why me?" Well I dont really ever ask that. Every year millions of people get cancer, lose their jobs, mourn the loss of family members, get divorced or suffer many other traumas and setbacks. Sometimes life is easy, sometimes it is very hard.

So everyday I count my blessings, family, friends, good health (well were working on that one), opportunities to do the things I love (Golf , skiing, cycling). So instead of asking "Why me?" I try to get enjoyment out of everyday and thank God for all the great things he lets me do.

That said, my friend told me if I ever just needed to go outside and howl at the moon she would do it with me. So here it goes, "Howl.........."