Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Owasso Restaurant: Sticks Chicken House

I’m a bad, bad man. I’ve been craving both fried chicken and barbecued ribs, things that I probably shouldn’t eat since I’m trying to lose weight. But those fat-drenched foods taste so good!

Mid-day Saturday, I ran errands, the usual round of stops including: Atwoods, the library, and the Goodwill store. I was looking for some cheap work shirts, and I hate going shopping. But I did come across a 15 million candlepower searchlight at Belks that would do an admirable job of lighting up the road in front of my bicycle. Only two problems: it weighs a ton and requires a high amperage supply, and it’s likely to be so bright I’d have an impromptu meeting with the local cops.

The shopping extravaganza made me hungry. I’d noticed that Sticks had just opened, so I decided to try it.

There was a sign on the front door, advising customers that the employees are still training. But the restaurant was open and serving food. As soon as I entered, two employees approached to offer a menu, then waited attentively while I read it and ordered. The shop is brand-spankin’-new and very clean.

Fernando Bernabe, the owner of Sticks, came to my table and asked if the food was OK. It was more than OK! It was very good. He serves chicken, pork, and beef done Philippine style. I’d ordered chicken kabobs. The chicken is marinated in ginger, garlic, vinegar, and spices. I had garlic rice and spring rolls too. Fernando pointed out that one of the sauces for the spring rolls is a kind of Philippine vinegar. He brought the bottle out to the table. It had peppers, garlic, and onions too, but the flavor wasn’t intense. It was a good dip for the spring rolls.

Sticks isn’t a franchised restaurant. Bernabe owns it. Mom and Pop businesses like his are an endangered species. It’s a nice alternative to all the chain restaurants we have. Owasso already has nearly every species of Mexican restaurant imaginable. Pizza and burger places are a close second. Having lighter, tasty food is a refreshing change.

The only thing missing is a bicycle rack out front.

Sticks Chicken House is at 9540 N Garnett Road.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Helmet-wearin' sissies!

From Daily Kos, on would-be presidential candidate U.S. Sen George Allen:

On Nov. 4 of last year, Grant recalls, Allen displayed another telltale sign of his personality as the GOP senator was joking around in front of a Republican crowd that was rallying in Albemarle for the party's statewide ticket and local candidates.

"During his remarks, Allen spotted me in the crowd and mentioned me as his former Earlysville neighbor," Grant recalled. "Then he made a public wisecrack about me with what he called, and I quote here, my `sissy helmet.'

"I was in the crowd in my tan suit holding my bicycle helmet, since I had biked to the rally from where I parked my car over near the Four Seasons neighborhood," Grant said.

"For the record, George Allen may consider wearing bicycle helmets as being sissy, but I don't. Being safe is not being a sissy," he said.

Senator, real men don't wear helmets, or seatbelts, or toupees, or makeup. Do presidential candidates wear makeup?

Friday, August 25, 2006

A bodice ripper...

My friend, Wade, had a lunch date a few days ago. He didn't know any downtown restaurants, so he asked me if there were any I'd recommend. Now, I don't really get out much, and I'm never out and about at lunchtime, so I really don't know many restaurants. But I know someone who does.

I called Sandra. She works downtown and lives nearby. Wade talked with her for about ten minutes and she gave him good information on lunch places. I didn't think anymore about it.

The next day, she sent an email asking all those questions that women have regarding any near-dating experience. But guys don't ask those questions of other guys. They have only one, and I won't repeat it here because it's crass and vulgar.

I told Wade about it, and added that my wife and daughter always have similar questions. It's a female thing. All he said was that they went to Olive Garden and he ordered seafood. She ordered seafood too.

"Great!" I said. "All I need are one or two details. I'll just make up the rest!" If this were a real bodice ripper, it would be more descriptive and include details of Nicole’s dress and hair, her office, Wade’s car interior, the restaurant, and much more. But in doing that, I felt it would lose focus. Besides, I’m not good at descriptive writing. Maybe I should practice. Hmmm….

Passion...and Pasta with Extra Cheese

Nicole fidgeted nervously, her attention divided between the computer screen and the wall clock. It was getting close to lunchtime, and Wade had promised to arrive early for their date. She jumped when the phone rang and was a little annoyed at herself for being so nervous, like a schoolgirl on her first date. She'd gone out with a few men since moving to Tulsa, and it was hardly a new experience. Yet this guy was different, and in a way she really couldn't define, he was special.

She pounced on the handset before the first ring ended. It was Wade! He'd just pulled into the parking lot. She grabbed her purse, checked her hair and makeup in the small desk mirror, and flew toward the door.

Wade pulled up at the front door seconds before she emerged from the building. Nicole was struck by the similarities between him and his choice of transportation. Both were sleek, muscular, and throbbed with understated power. Her heart beat just a little bit faster whenever he was around.

Wade stood at the passenger side door, holding it open as she entered. "You're such a gentleman!" she said with a smile. And it was true. He was courteous and gentlemanly in an old-fashioned sense. He always held the door for her, and true to form, he'd brought a small bouquet of roses too. They were on the dash in the sunlight, their scent permeating the car's interior. She loved roses.

"Those are for your desk when you get back this afternoon", he said as he slid into the driver's seat.

They made small talk while driving to the restaurant. Nicole wondered if this was how married people talked, sharing inconsequential details of their days, not because the information held any importance, but because they just enjoyed the sharing. She felt comfortable and happy whenever Wade was nearby, and that undercurrent of schoolgirl excitement never left her.

Since they were early, there was no problem getting a table at their favorite Italian restaurant. The hostess seated them quickly, and smiled broadly because she recognized them as regulars. "Enjoy your meal", she said as Wade held Nicole's chair. The waitresses liked Wade too. He tipped generously. The hostess noted the bouquet of roses and made a mental note to drop some serious hints to her boyfriend that evening. Girls like Nicole were very, very lucky.

"Hi! I'm Veronica, and I'm your server today." She offered them menus, but Wade and Nicole already knew what they wanted.

"Thanks, but that's not necessary", Wade replied. "I want calamari with a side salad, and iced tea."

Nicole smiled. She had a mental image of Wade's shirtfront after the meal, spotted here and there with tomato sauce. He ate with more gusto than precision. Ever mindful of her appearance, Nicole said, "I'll have the seafood alfredo, salad, and water with a slice of lemon." She wore a light-colored dress; so any 'accidents' would be less likely to mar it.

They talked about some mutual friends, a new movie they'd seen the previous weekend, and a play that would open in a few weeks. Wade said he'd get tickets if she wanted to see it. Nicole readily agreed. The rest of the lunch hour flew by. The restaurant filled up, but neither seemed to notice the other diners. Their attention was riveted across their own table. All too quickly, the check arrived and it was time to go.

Wade held her chair as she arose, then took her hand as they walked toward the door. She reddened slightly, hoping he wouldn't notice, and simultaneously hoping he would.

Nicole entered her office smiling and idly singing a tune from a Broadway show. The rest of the women immediately took notice, and converged on her desk for an after-action report. They analyzed every detail, every inflection, every subtle turn of phrase with an intensity that most intelligence agencies would envy. They picked apart the whole hour-long lunch, looking for omens and portents. It was a game the women were very good at playing, and they never tired of it. Nicole's lunch date provided a discussion topic for days.


Wade returned to his office just after 1 o'clock.

"How was lunch?" I asked.

"Great!" he replied, "but I ate too much."

He opened the newspaper to the sports page. I went back to my crossword puzzle. Nothing more was said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Arrogant cyclists (Satire)

From the mail bag. Name withheld by request...

It's common knowledge that all cyclists are scofflaws, intent on flagrantly disobeying every traffic law ever devised. They rip through stop signs and traffic lights. They blaze along sidewalks, scattering pedestrians in their wake. And they piss off each and every decent, law-abiding motorist they encounter. Cyclists are vermin.

Worse yet, they're all tree-hugging greens and liberals, bound by a common thread of far-left ideology. They won't be satisfied until the whole trafic network is brought down to their level and good people everywhere are forced from their cars onto those infernal two-wheeled death machines.

Cyclists enjoy a secret underground communication system that keeps all of them on message, a system that rivals the Republican party's talking points for it's all-encompassing nature. It's uncannily accurate and capable of overwhelming nearly any opposition. Every cyclist in the country is plugged into the network, and they're all true believers in the cause. Ask any bicyclist about Sheryl Crow, for example, and they'll let you in on all the dirt. Likewise anything to do with doping, Floyd Landis, or the redoubtably obscure Tour of Langkawi. It's almost like they have a hive mind, like bees or ants.

Every cyclist signs a pledge to snarl traffic, increase motorist's blood pressure, and generally practice vehicular mayhem. It's all part of the plan. They're trying to disrupt traffic all across the country and eventually throughout the whole world. They'll settle for nothing less than total domination. They are determined to conquer the world, turning the entire planet into their personal playground and making life hell for the rest of us. This cycling vision of Utopia is most likely drug-induced.

The diabolical plan moved forward in complete obscurity until the Department of Homeland Security announced its discovery. Just days ago, federal agents alerted police agencies across the country of the insidious plot. Bicycle riders are expected to use our streets and roadways while wearing brightly colored jerseys, shiny helmets, and far-too-tight black shorts, the uniform of the ultra-left. DHS spokesman Wally Crankset said, "While we recognize the inalienable right of all Americans to speak and act in greatly differing ways, when they become too different, they're subversive mothers!" Mr. Crankset went on to denounce all cyclists as Communist sympathizers and probable terrorists until he was lead off to a waiting ambulance for a well-deserved rest.

All good cloth-coat-wearin' Americans are urged to contact local police agencies if they observe any of these wild-eyed subversives disrupting traffic. Call the FBI, the Justice Department, and the United States Marines too. We can never be too careful.

Gotta go. It's medication time again.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shop Rules (OT)

We've developed a list of rules over the years; rules that clearly apply in the electronics shop where I work. Most of them resulted from painful experience and what can only be called a surrealistic management style. Fortunately, those supervisors who couldn't stick with a plan through lunchtime are now gone or retired, but the rules remain, waiting to be used again.

Actually, since they're quite general in nature, you may find them useful for discussions, heated arguments, and the occasional dust-up, regardless of the situation.

1. Facts - however interesting - are irrelevant.

This one came from a supervisor who conveniently ignored any information that contradicted his intended course of action. He'd already determined his plan and nothing - not even reality - would deter him.

2. No good deed goes unpunished.

I've sat through numerous meetings that began by praising our excellent work, and ended with dire warnings about the punishment that would be doled out if we didn't improve further.

3. What goes around comes around.

This is equally true of bad ideas, foul rumors, and the occasional good deed. Bad ideas, in particular, never really go away. They just lie dormant for a time, waiting for an opportune moment to strike. For some strange reason, bad ideas seem to infect new guys with depressing regularity. On the other hand, they're highly susceptible to foul rumors planted by unscrupulous older co-workers, so there's some kind of karmic balance. Not that I'd ever do something like that, of course.

4. Never make assumptions.

'Yes, the power is off. I KNOW that!" This statement is followed almost immediately by an electric shock. Worse, a technician who looks exactly like me once started troubleshooting a seemingly dead computer, only to discover he hadn't plugged it into the test adapter.

5. Wives and lunch boxes are sacred.

That goes without saying, but we reiterate it for the new guys.

6. Whenever anyone appeals for common sense, please direct them to Rule Number One.

Rule Number One covers a multitude of sins.

7. Expect occasional flashes of brilliance separated by long periods of stupidity.

Sometimes, troubleshooting electronics is a long, frustrating affair. Locating the source of a problem is not always a straightforward process, especially when trying to find intermittents. Troubleshooting may consist of investigating blind alleys and following false leads until the true fault is revealed. There's a rare flash of insight that leads directly to the problem, but most of the time it's dull, plodding work, eliminating possibilities one after another.

8. One man's cherry is another man's dog.

A 'cherry' unit is one that arrives in the shop with no apparent problems. Most techs will process it and return it to the field as rapidly as possible. But some will take this seemingly good unit and cook it until it fails, especially if it's been removed for the same complaint several times.

9. Tell the truth only as a last resort.

My co-workers never believe the first tale. For instance, the one about how Rich fell off the ladder had to go through five or six variations before we finally arrived at the truth.

10. It's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.

This is a near-universal rule, suitable for work or home. My wife fully expects that I'll resort to Rule Number Nine whenever possible, and eventually I'll arrive at this one too. It's probably best not to tell kids about this rule, especially young boys. They'll figure it out on their own eventually.

11. Expect asinine solutions to imaginary problems.

This rule arises whenever a co-worker comes up with a highly unlikely 'worst case scenario'. "If I'm sitting at my bench when a meteorite punches through the ceiling just as a tornado hits the north side of the building and a tsunami sweeps across Texas to hit the south side, should I wear my safety glasses to protect my eyes?" It shouldn't be surprising that the rest of us devise complicated, near-impossible 'solutions' involving equipment, personnel, and procedures that we do not have.

12. Intelligent people ignore stupid rules.

This is almost a corollary to Rule Number 11 in that whenever an imaginative, unworkable approach to a hypothetical problem results in a new shop policy, we simply ignore it. Of course, if we get called on the carpet about it, we plead out under Rule Ten after telling a suitable number of lies per Rule Nine.

I hope you find these useful in your daily life.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A quick note...

Fritz asked if there were any photos available of Thursdays' Road1 class for TPS PE instructors. Sadly, I have none.

Since I was riding my bike to the class, and then going on to work, I didn't want to take a camera along. Partly this is due to my previous experience with cameras and electronics aboard a bicycle. Vibration tends to shake them apart. My laptop, for instance, develops intermittent connections to the keyboard that requires disassembly and cleaning. It's a PITA.

But there's also the security aspect, something that I cannot avoid. I work inside the security perimeter at the airport. Cameras are strictly verboten. I will not risk my job and my family's livelihood for some photos. The airline has fired employees for this and I simply will not risk it.

Finally, I have to learn how to post photos to CycleDog too, and it's another thing I've been procrastinating about for far too long.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tulsa Public Schools and Road1

Tulsa Public Schools used grant money to buy 30 bicycles. They're starting
a program to introduce bicycling education in local schools. On Thursday,
we had a Road1 class at Lacy Park for the Phys Ed teachers. Gary Parker
taught the class. Tom Brown of Tom's Bicycles was there to help with
mechanicals. Sandra Crisp handled the organizing and registration, and I
was there to provide (dubious) moral support. Brian Potter arrived in the
afternoon to assist with the practical testing.

One minor problem - the bikes were not equipped with bottle cages or water
bottles. They really should be, particularly when we have a class on a hot

My daughter needed the car, so I rode to the park. The Bianchi is handling
oddly, almost like it has a very low front tire. The headset bearings are
worn with the lower race showing significant brindling. That makes the bike
reluctant to turn. It handles like a pig compared to the Giant CFR. But
it's a comfortable pig with a Brooks saddle and a rise stem. This bike is
like an old easy chair. It's not meant for speed. I have a new headset in
my toolbox, waiting for a cooler day to install it, probably sometime next

I rode through Mohawk and around the NW corner of the airport to Apache
Street, where I turned west. Since I'm old, slow, and fat, I arrived a bit
late, but I helped Tom Brown with bike and helmet fittings while Sandra took
care of registrations and Gary greeted the class.

Once the class was underway, I settled into a chair and promptly fell
asleep! Worse, I almost fell out of the chair. That would be more than a
little embarrassing. Tom and Sandra didn't seem to notice. But it's good
to know that I retained some habits from my school years.

The group consisted of PE teachers, with varying skill levels. One was an
African-American with her hair piled in braids atop her head, making helmet
fit difficult. Fortunately, she let them down so the helmet could fit
properly, though she was reluctant to do so. I'd never considered cultural
differences before in context of one of these classes, but this is something
we should keep in mind. Since they'll be teaching children, Gary emphasized
kids issues, like mid-block ride outs, helmet usage, hand brakes vs. coaster
brakes, etc. He let them know about the availability of Kids1 information
and that it's intended for both children and parents.

I left at mid-day in order to go to work, going back along Apache to the
airport, then circling around to the east side via Pine Street. This means
I nearly circumnavigated the airport! Yeah, it's a small thing, but I enjoy
little things like that.

Riding from Lacy Park to work was very hot. The sun was on the 'broil'
setting and I think the air temperature was around 100F. Sandra offered to
get me a sandwich, but I was pressed for time, and the idea of eating and
riding was not an enticing prospect. It just was too damned hot. So when I
arrived at work, I had a banana and some pretzels. That was enough to see
me through the afternoon. Well, that and several water bottles. I was

I worked until 9PM. I'd had the foresight to check out my lights before I
needed them, and I was looking forward to the ride home. It was still very
hot - about 90F - but at least the sun was down. I had two minor scares on
the way home. First, I almost hit a HUGE dog. It simply appeared in front
of me along Mingo Road. And it truly was HUGE - about the size of an old
Buick...with tailfins! I yelled and dodged to the left. It dodged to the
right. Otherwise I may have been on the menu.

The other scare occurred right at the entrance to my subdivision. I was
planning to make a right turn into the neighborhood when a car pulled up at
the stop sign on the side street. I was riding north on the frontage road.
He turned south onto the frontage road IN MY LANE! Now, I've encountered my
share of idiot motorists, but I've never had one try to run into me head-on.
It had to be deliberate. I nearly ran off the road, but avoided the fool.
There wasn't time to get a tag number, but chances are he lives in my
neighborhood. One of my rules-of-thumb is "once an idiot - always an
idiot!" so there's a good chance I'll meet him again. That could become
another 'teachable moment' - until the cops arrive.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

(This is from Tuesday, but I didn't get around to posting it until today...Ed)

It rained overnight. Actually, we had thunderstorms loud enough to shake me out of bed. I was dimly aware of distant thunder, but a near-simultaneous flash and BOOM! had me wide awake. I stumbled out to the living room where Mary was still watching television.

"Could you turn the noise down?" I asked. "It's hard to sleep."

"Oh, be quiet and go back to bed!" she growled. "You'll be sound asleep as soon as the storm passes."

"Where are the kittens?"

"They disappeared right after that loud boom. I haven't seen them since."

I went back to bed, shutting the door to be safe from marauding kittens. They're implacable killers-in-training. Sleeping people are merely convenient targets. The kittens are intent on attacking something, anything, and they have a single-minded, utterly heartless devotion to mayhem.

Sure enough, as soon as the storm subsided, I was asleep.

I woke a few minutes before the alarm went off. That may be one of the dubious benefits of getting older. My body is accustomed to waking up at the same time every day. That includes weekends. I was up and out of bed before the alarm sounded. Mary slept on.

Coffee and cold cereal took care of breakfast. I checked the blog list for new posts, watched 'old folks MTV' - the Weather Channel, and was out the door just after sun-up. I rode the Centurion fixed gear because it has fenders and the roads were still wet in places.

Going down the hill from the house, the bike handled a little strangely. It seemed to wander from side to side and the pavement felt rougher than normal. The reason was apparent as soon as I reached the corner at the bottom of the hill. My front tire was almost flat. Now, I'd checked it before leaving the garage and I added some air, but in the time it took to ride about 200 yards, it went completely flat. The tire is a Continental Top Touring. It's stiffer than most tires and it was more controllable while flat than some others I've used.

Still, it was a PITA to have a flat. I walked back up the hill to the house where I got the Giant out for the trip to work.

I'd toyed with the idea of simply changing out the front wheel while I walked back to the house. But the last time I tried that, the replacement wheel was thinner than the original, making the brake considerably less effective. Let's just say that it's a good thing that bicycles have two braking systems. When the lever goes all the way to the handlebar, riding down the hill from my house can be far too exciting.

If you've read this carefully, you've realized I rely mostly on the front brake. In fact, I rarely use the rear one, and on the fixed gear, I rarely use the brakes at all. The braking track on the Centurion's rear wheel shows no wear, for instance.

But I always do the ABC Quick check before leaving the driveway - air, brakes, chain, and quick releases. Either I hit something in the road or the valve stem failed. I'll find out when I get home today.

It could have been worse, much worse. If the tire had flatted down in the pecan grove, I may not have survived to write this. The mosquitoes would have carried me off into the woods for their next meal. The air has been thick with humidity and bugs. And there's always the deadly chupacabra to consider too.

The yard dogs from Hell greeted me with a lot of barking. But they weren't in the mood for a chase this morning. Maybe they were stiff and cold from the rain. I don't know, but I'm thankful for small things.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A 'suggestion' from OHP

Lookit, Marge! A bah-sickle!

A suggestion from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to area cyclists is circulating on local email lists. There's a road closure along SH20 for bridge construction, and much of the traffic is diverting onto county roads that go around the affected area. The problem is that the regular Monday night ride goes up Killer Hill, aka Nichols Hill, and numerous motorists are using it as a detour. They complain about having to slow down on that steep, narrow, winding two-lane in order to pass bicycle riders. Imagine that. They have to cross the centerline – in a no-passing zone, if I recall correctly – and somehow it’s those pesky cyclists forcing them to perform an illegal and possibly dangerous maneuver.

If motorists are passing in an unsafe manner, shouldn't police be targeting them rather than cyclists, who are operating their vehicles safely and legally? Should any of us, motorists or cyclists, give up our right to use the public roads because others cannot obey the law?

Here’s the original e-mail:

I am sending this message to all of the ones that participated in the last
bike race with the hope that it can be distributed to all area bike clubs..

The closure of S.H. 20 between Claremore and Owasso has caused a huge
amount of traffic to be diverted to the county roads between Claremore and
Tulsa. A large part of this traffic now travels S.H. 266 from Claremore and Tulsa and then north on 193rd East Avenue, sometimes called Nichols
Hills Road or as the bikers refer to as Killer Hill, near the Port of Catoosa.

We are requesting that the riders refrain from using this route during the
closure of S.H. 20. The large amount of bikes in the afternoon are causing
a huge problem with traffic trying to get up and down Nichols Hill. It is
the bike traffic that travels north up the hill that is causing vehicular
traffic to go left of center to pass on the hill.

Please try to pass this information to the appropriate bike groups that use
this route. We would appreciate everyones assistance with this.

Lt. Eddie Kirkland #66
Oklahoma Highway Patrol
Vinita, Ok

Traffic? What traffic?

Lt. Kirkland’s assumption is that bicyclists aren't legitimate vehicular traffic. They're riding for recreation, sport, or fitness, and they should stay out of the way of 'real' traffic. If this argument were thought through to its logical conclusion, cyclists should avoid ALL roads that have significant motor vehicle use. Cyclists should meekly accept their second-class status, tug their forelocks to their betters, and kowtow as necessary.


Some law enforcement officers may take a small step from “cyclists should not use the road” to “cyclists cannot use the road”. There’s been ample precedent for this with local officers (not OHP to my knowledge) and it’s a genuine concern.

I'm sure that Lt. Kirkland's first thought is for the safety of everyone using that stretch of road, but he reflects a common bias against cyclists, a persistent bias that perceives bicyclists as secondary road users. If sharing that road with motorists is dangerous, then any road with motor vehicle traffic could be deemed too dangerous for cyclists. I prefer to make the decision myself, and I certainly object when someone tries to make the decision for me.

"Share the Road" by avoiding the road?

One writer said that we should be willing to prevent congestion and mitigate dangerous conditions, and we could do so by avoiding Nichols Hill. He went on to say that this shows our support for sharing the road with motorists. Yes, that's right. We should show our commitment to share the road by not riding on the road, a twisted bit of logic worthy of the Bush administration.

Another writer said that he avoids the alternative route, Port Road, because of the heavy traffic and debris-strewn shoulder. He doesn't mind upsetting the motorists on the hill. I think that attitude is more indicative of a vehicular cyclist, because he’s intent on getting from one point to another. Does a motorist get concerned whether other motorists are upset by his mere presence? Of course not. So why should cyclists be concerned?

I paraphrased another writer up above when she asked, “If motorists are passing in an unsafe manner, shouldn't police be targeting them rather than cyclists, who are operating their vehicles safely and legally? Should any of us, motorists and cyclists alike, give up our right to use the public roads because others cannot obey the law?” This really cuts to the heart of the issue. Cyclists are being advised not to use the road because motorists are operating their vehicles in a dangerous manner that disregards the safety of everyone they encounter. I hate to belabor the point, but the cyclists aren’t acting illegally or irresponsibly, yet they’re expected to find some other route because motorists cannot drive responsibly. This is an Alice In Wonderland solution, removing lawful road users for the benefit of unlawful ones.

The worrisome component in all of this is the assumption that cyclists run unacceptably high risks simply by traveling on our public roads, an assumption that is patently false. Since we’re obviously not sensible people, we need someone to look after us, as if we’re some doddering, drooling old uncle. I truly appreciate the consideration for our safety, but I do not need a nanny to tell me where to ride, particularly when that nanny has little or no experience of cycling in traffic.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Police officers are a cross-section of the population just like the rest of us. Some are outstanding at doing their jobs. Some are thick-headed thugs with a badge and a gun. I've met both kinds and written about them here on CycleDog. In the two examples that follow, both ends of the spectrum are represented. First, there's an e-mail from Mike Flenniken about a ride in central Oklahoma, and the police response to an incident.

The second piece is excerpted from BikeBlog.

There were four of us riding south into the wind on 11th street just north of Wagoner Road in Yukon yesterday evening when a pick-up with 3 – 16 year old boys crossed the centerline heading toward us while laying on the horn and laughing. They swerved at about 2 feet from us and continued North about 2 blocks before turning in at the FFA facility on the east side of 11th street.

We turned around, rode to the entrance (blocking their exit) and called 911. The Yukon police responded quickly with 2 officers/cars. They questioned the boys separately and after hearing numerous different versions finally got the truth out of them. We initially told the officers that we wanted to file a complaint but after speaking with the boys we were convinced by their apologies that they would not do it again. The driver was the “leader” and was showing off for the other two. He broke down and cried in front of his buddies when he finally admitted what he had done. For a 16 year old boy, crying in front of the boys he was trying to impress was probably more effective as a deterrent than doing 10 years of hard time in the slammer!

The officers both advised us that they would fully support us if we wanted to file the complaint but they agreed that these boys had learned their lesson.

It is a shame that the human brain takes 25 years to fully wire into an adult… But then again, it gives us that time to help train people to be “good” adults. I’ve seen a lot of much older people still behave as though they were kids.

Mike Flenniken


Whats been going on...Recap of the critical massness.
By Michael Green

So the police announced they no longer want to mess around with this legal bike riding nonsenese so they came up with some laws on their own and are going to allow the people to listen to the rules defined at a public hearing on August 23rd. at Police Headquarters and make sure to video tape and barcode all those in attendance to root out who the "trouble makers are." No need for city council involvemnet, too messy. When the NYPD gets annoyed with silly things like the constitution and a federal and state judge's ruling...its time to make up your own rules. Here is what they have announced.

1. Require parade permits for bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more.
2. Any cyclists or walkers who take to the streets in groups of 2 or more and disobey traffic laws need a permit.
3. Require a permit for 35 or more people who restrict themselves to the sidewalk. (just in case you try and get out of the street and hang out on the sidewalk. So if you can't be in the street and you can't be on the sidewalk?)
4. anyone who even thinks about parading in the street needs a permit....ok I made number 4 up...but it will probably be next if the secert police get their way. B is for Bicycles.

Have you ever tried to get a permit for something political in this town? Its like asking president Bush to complete a long difficult sentace...impossible.


“Let us remember that part of the right to protest is the right to spontaneously protest,” said City Councilman Alan Jay Gerson of Manhattan. Besides, Mr. Gerson said, it should be up to the Council, not the police, to change rules governing free speech. Indeed, the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said in a statement yesterday that “these proposals raise significant questions that we are examining carefully.”

PRACTICAL considerations also come to mind. Will 20 people on a routine bike tour have to get a parade permit? How about 35 kids walking as a group on a class trip? Or a funeral procession?

Paul J. Browne, a Police Department spokesman, dismissed all this as “grasping at unrealistic scenarios.” Still, some will wonder if the rules are to be uniformly enforced or applied mainly to groups deemed nettlesome, like Time’s Up. The question is part of a broader issue that New Yorkers have faced since 9/11: How do we balance the demands of security and order with our tradition of openness and free expression?

Years ago, I attended a disaster response seminar put on by the city of Tulsa. The main speaker contrasted the response at the Oklahoma City bombing with the first New York Trade Center bombing. It seems so long ago now, almost like another life. But the emergency responders who had been to both bombings said that the people of Oklahoma were warm and open, freely giving whatever was needed, while New Yorkers were mostly pissed off at the traffic and disruption. How things have changed.

“Few visitors to Oklahoma leave without remarking on the friendliness of the people, who blend Southern hospitality with the openness found in the West. Many an out-of-state visitor driving in the western plains has been mystifies by the number of total strangers who wave hello. “Oklahomans are what other people think Americans are like,” Will Rogers said about his native state in the 1920s. “Oklahoma is the heart, it’s the vital organ of our national existence.””
…Fodor’s Road Guide USA

That same openness is still apparent on our local roads (at times) when complete strangers drive by and wave, eighty years since Will Rogers said that.

I'm not a fan or a supporter of the so-called 'spontaneous' Critical Mass rides, particularly since the New York riders seem determined to ignore traffic law and generally behave as a pain-in-the-ass-mass. Other cities have had far fewer incidents involving riders and the police. Perhaps they're doing something differently than the New Yorkers. Perhaps they're riding legally, obeying traffic lights, and behaving as traffic.

While I cannot condone the illegal practices of running red lights and corking intersections, I can't condone the egregious behavior of the New York police department, either. Unless I'm mistaken, potential laws in this country are crafted by legislators. The executive branch, whether that's a mayor, governor, or the president, signs the bill into law.

Police departments do not have the authority to make law. That is, unless you invoke the magic '911' phrase and insist that in our post-911 era, they simply have to do so in order to meet changing situations in the most expeditious manner.

The proper response to that is - bullshit.

If we still have the right to free speech, and even that may be debatable given the present political climate, we have the right to say and act in whatever manner we choose, provided we stay within the law. Again, the NYPD cannot make laws, and they especially cannot craft laws specifically as a mean to abolish protests or abrogate our right to free speech and assembly. Legislatures make laws, not cops. NYPD will act as if this is a legal authority when they use it to quash some group like CM, but ultimately the courts should toss the case out, or at least I hope so.

(Do you ever wonder why we never see one of these stories on "Law and Order"? Could it be because they couldn't portray the police and district attorney in a favorable light? There's precious little 'law' when the police just make things up and 'order' results from the use of force.)

If a cyclist runs a red light, give him a ticket. If he corks an intersection, again, ticket him. But it's another thing altogether to ticket a group of people simply because they were on the street, or even on the sidewalk. We wouldn't bat an eye at seeing a motorist get pulled over for speeding, but I'm entirely certain that if the police blocked off an interstate and cited EVERY driver for the same offense, any sane judge would toss the case out. In a place like New York, the right to use the public streets is an imperative for all cyclists and pedestrians. It's not like there's any other choice.

So it's refreshing to read an account like Mike's in which the police do their jobs in a professional manner. They enforced the law rather than invented it. They upheld individual rights rather than squelched them.

Sometimes I get annoyed with the 'stubborn, ignorant, and PROUD of it' attitude that radiates from some of my acquaintances. It's a trait that is all too common and clearly not isolated to Oklahoma. But then I ride home along some county road, and just as Will Rogers described, some motorist going the other way will smile and wave as he goes by.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm soooo confused...

"Do cats eat bats...Do bats eat cats?"...Lewis Carroll

One of my co-workers rushed through the shop this morning.

"Gas is going up 14 cents today!" She was slightly breathless, and more than a little indignant that the price would hit the near-magical $3.00 per gallon mark.

I was somewhat blase about it. "Just dont' BUY it!" I advised. "If you don't buy it, the price will eventually come down."

She didn't want to hear this. "Buy less gas? Are you CRAZY? I have to get to work. I have to drive to the church and grocery store. I have to see my grandbabies! I can't buy less gas!"

She drives an enormous old Cadillac. It's pristine, almost like a concours show car. She lavishes attention on it. She really can't imagine life without an automobile.

But another story is foremost in the news these days. Sure, gas prices are a pain-in-the-ass, but the tinderbox in the Middle East is a bigger, far more ominous story.

Hezbollah has been raining missiles down onto northern Israel for weeks. Allegedly, the missiles are coming from Iran. It's doubtful Hezbollah could pay for that many, so it's likely the Iranians are providing them to be used in a proxy war against the hated Israelis. Iran can afford to be generous. Their oil income provides plenty of funds for building missiles and acquiring the crucial parts.

This is where it gets weird.

Most of that oil wealth comes from the developed world. In effect, since oil is a global market, we're providing the Iranians with the money to conduct that proxy war. We're putting gasoline into our big gas-hole vehicles, and by doing that, we're supporting terorists. We're indirectly responsible for the missile attacks against Israel.

But we're on the Israeli's side in this.

"Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying' she said: 'One can't believe impossible things.' 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!'"............Lewis Carroll, "Through The Looking Glass"