Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday musette

Who needs sissy-boy truck nuts?

Suppose you were walking or cycling along a city street with a non-working replica of an assault rifle across your back. I think in most places (outside of a presidential visit to Arizona, perhaps) you could expect to have an interview with the local police after an alert citizen called 911. Oklahoma allows citizens to carry concealed firearms after taking a safety course and demonstrating proficiency, but the state does not permit open carry.

What about things that are not firearms but replicas of potentially lethal devices? Last night, as I drove Mary home from library, we stopped at a light behind a Hummer. Stuck in its trailer hitch was what I assumed to be a replica of a claymore mine. These are anti-personnel mines consisting of a layer of explosive with ball bearings across the front surface. They are directional, so there's a printed warning "This Side Toward Enemy" on the front. That's what was at just below face height.

Now, I'm not presuming that this anonymous Hummer driver had a real claymore mine afixed to his bumper. Still, I wouldn't put it past some dullard to do so with a home-made version. There are some truly stupid people wandering around out there.

Also, I could generalize by saying that gun nuts and Hummer owners have ridiculous over-compensation issues, but this one has more issues than most others.

Regardless, I'm trying to remember to keep a camera with me. Next time - photos!

Here's a new one.

Let's add a new excuse to the motorist 'greatest hits' list. I've grown weary of hearing the standard ones like: "He swerved in front of me all sudden-like" or "The sun was in my eyes." In Austin, Texas, the police turned out because an alert citizen called in a complaint of cyclists "blocking the roads and using drugs."

"But officer - they're using drugs right on the road!" No, this is not a story about yet another drug bust involving professional bicycle racers.

"I'm high all right, but not on false drugs. I'm high on the real things: powerful gasoline, a clean windshield, and a shoeshine."....Firesign Theater

Police used Taser on Texas Tech student
Texas police taser student on a charity bike ride.

I had a Google search term set up for news of any Taser usage, but it's so common anymore and so utterly depressing that I dumped it. Apparently if you don't show sufficient deference to a cop, he'll use the Taser to teach some 'respect.' Now, granted, the Tour de Tech Terrace seems to be an excuse for drunk college students to go for a ride, but let's wait and see if the they're-using-drugs complaint becomes more prevalent.

Real drugs

I wrote about my blood pressure last week and said that it was dangerously high. The numbers - 190 over 112. That's well into stroke territory. The doctor gave me a prescription and said he wanted to see me in a month. I filled the prescription immediately.

I've been on blood pressure meds before, and through a combination of medication, exercise, and diet, I managed to bring it down to the point that I didn't need the meds. But I all but stopped riding last winter as a result of the damage to my knees and shoulder. Pain has a profound effect on behavior.

Fortunately, this new medicine doesn't cause the dry mouth and constant thirst like the last one. It does give me a runny nose and the diuretic could see that I get a side job as a volunteer fireman.

But I wasn't prepared to be doubled over in pain.

A couple of years ago, a colonoscopy revealed "extensive diverticula." These are small pouches in the wall of the colon that can trap fecal matter and become infected. The pain began on Saturday and by Sunday afternoon I was pretty sure of what was happening. Monday morning, I could stand up and sit down with difficulty as waves of pain punched into my gut. I called the doctor's office as soon as they opened. Now remember, the blood pressure medicine give me a runny nose with attendant coughing and sneezing. You do not want to cough with diverticulitis.

So now I have an antibiotic to go along with the blood pressure meds.

Maybe I should bget some Viagra if only for nostalgia's sake. "What the hell's that? I dimly remember seeing it before, but that the hell IS that? Maybe I should call the doctor!"

All kidding aside, we die from things that have no symptoms. High blood pressure is one silent killer. Colon cancer is another. And for men, prostate cancer is the third. So far, I have the high blood pressure and there's a family history of colon cancer. I do not want the trifecta. Thank you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Skiatook and the Osage Prairie Trail

Ren Barger and I planned to have a Smart Cycling class (formerly Road1) at the Tulsa HUB on Saturday. I was up at my usual oh-dark-thirty getting a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee. I set the Melitta device atop my coffee cup, filled it with boiling water, and promptly knocked it over as I set the kettle down. Hot coffee went all over the stove top, hissing and spattering when it contacted the still-hot burner. I swore loudly and started cleaning it up, and I managed to burn my finger in the process. It's a nice second-degree burn, too, that doesn't hurt because there's a blister covering the burned away nerve endings.

It was an inauspicious start to the day.

I met Wade at the coffee shop. It's our regular weekend start, sipping coffee and solving the world's problems. We were watching the sparrows feeding on grass seed when my phone rang.

It was Ren. She's been traveling for the last week and hasn't had much rest. Her voice was hoarse, just above a croak. She wanted to know if I could lead the class.

A few days ago, I wrote about being diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure. The doctor put me on a new medicine to reduce it, and when the pharmacist filled the prescription, she said the stuff may cause dizziness, which is pharmacist-speak for "gravity will no longer apply." And it's true. I've been light headed and dizzy in the mornings, but I spend most of my day sitting in a chair so it hasn't been a problem. That wouldn't be the case when teaching a class, however, and I was reluctant to push my limits in that setting.

So I told Ren I couldn't lead the class. Her disappointment was evident, but she intends to re-schedule it for next week.

These guys met at the coffee shop before leaving on a ride to Claremore. They're competing in the triathlon next weekend and wanted to preview the course.

After Wade left, I ran some errands. At mid-morning, a wave of dizziness crashed over my head. I was driving at the time, just after filling the gas tank and checking the tires. This was worse than any of the earlier dizzy spells, and was aggravated by dehydration and low blood sugar. Yeah, I've started drinking my coffee black and I'd put very little sugar in that oatmeal. My hands were shaking. I pulled into the parking lot at IHOP and went inside for more food.

If this had happened during a class, I might have collapsed. So the decision to avoid teaching was the right one.

Second breakfast consisted of Chicken Florentine Crepes, several glasses of water, and more coffee - still black. Try to find something that's low fat, low cholesterol, and low in sugar at IHOP. We really need nutritional information on restaurant menus.

My hands stopped shaking after the meal. I finished my morning chores, washing and vacuuming the car, and I stopped at a couple of garage sales just for fun. It was a good morning for garage sales. I came home with a user-quality Canon AE-1 Program with a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens and a craptastic off-brand 70-210 zoom. I found a very nice Olympus OM1 with a genuine leather 'never ready' case too. Both cameras seem to work just fine. I gave Wade the Canon AE-1P to play with because he likes that one.

Lyndsay wanted to borrow the car. She had been working as a home health care aide, and wanted to visit her former clients over in Skiatook. I wanted to go along and told her to drop me off at the trailhead for the Osage Prairie Trail. I've ridden the entire length of the trail, though never all at one time, and I wanted to get some photos. I've been through Skiatook many times, but this is the first time I've walked around in town.

There's a very nice coffee shop called The Phoenix just east of the OPT terminus. Mishelle Averill is the managed. I could definitely see an early morning ride departing from Tulsa, going to Skiatook for a hot cuppa, and a return trip to the south.

This truck was parked next to the coffee shop. I just liked the colors.

This Mercedes is for sale. Lyndsay wants one. Fat chance, I say. But again, I like the juxtaposition of colors.

The town has some antique shops too. I found these machines in the back of one and was fascinated by the chain drives. It appears that they can be disassembled without tools, though in all fairness, I have to wonder about their useful life. Without rollers, they'd wear very quickly. The owner said that one of the machines came from an Amish man who used it to make brooms. We couldn't figure out what the other one was.

I found this DeLorean too. All it needs is a mad scientist and a Mr. Fusion machine, and I could re-visit my childhood.

Finally, I ended up at the library where I sank into an armchair and almost fell asleep. Lyndsay arrived shortly afterward and we went home....where I promptly fell asleep.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Teenage angst (OT)

This is a flash fiction piece I sent to a website. They turned it down and I'm OK with that. But I can't resist sharing it.

She was lonely. Mom and Dad kept her locked in the house. No friends. No distractions. Nothing to read except for those dusty scrolls about gods and goddesses. It was boring.

Sure, they got to go out whenever they wanted, but they'd put a spell or something on the house and she couldn't leave. It was maddening!

Even worse, she had no music, not even servants to boss around. They were gone and now Mom and Dad expected her to do the housework!

Mom said that dinner was ready. Medusa walked to the table, her snakes writhing. Someone would pay.

These are supposed to be 100 words precisely. It's fun to toy with such a truncated story. I'll probably have more.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I want one!

From Wilson Brothers

Those are Brooks saddles on what looks like a stainless steel seesaw. What's not to love? It would go perfectly with the defunct exercise bike gathering dust in a corner of the living room. Honestly, this is more a work of art than a piece of playground equipment.

"Yeah, honey, it' Yeah. Think of it as a piece of sculpture you can sit on...and it'll probably appreciate in value so that makes it an investment. Pretty smart move on my part, if I do say so myself!"

Be still my heart.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitter problem?

First, I have to mention that CycleDog gained another follower - number thirty one! To all of you - thanks for reading.

It appears that Twitter changed something, because that area over on the right should display only my tweets. Or it could be that Blogger has changed some code. I dunno. I'm a hardware guy not a software guy. If I can't fix it with an oscilloscope, an automated test setup, and a soldering iron, well, I can always use that big, brass hammer.

The operating principle is based on Fudd's First Law of Opposition. "Push something hard enough, and it will fall over."

I'll ignore the Twitter box for the moment, but if it's not fixed in a few days, I'll remove it.

Also, another comment spammer popped up overnight. His/her comments have been removed. This seems to happen every couple of weeks. If CycleDog gets overwhelmed with them, I'll have to restrict comments further. So far, that's not happening.

One other thing - and this is important so I buried it here at the bottom - after a visit to the doctor this afternoon, I learned that my blood pressure is seriously high. I won't mention numbers. Suffice it to say it was scary. I'm on medication for it, so I get to join the parade of old men shuffling down the hall to the mens room every hour. And I was concerned enough that I took one of the pills immediately upon arriving at home. That means I'll be up and about regularly all night. Oh joy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ask Dr. Wally - Handlebar tape

Image from Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr

Dear Dr. Wally,

My beloved cat, Fluffy, died recently from complications resulting from a life of dissipation, gluttony, and lack of exercise. She was quite large. I'm thinking of memorializing her by applying her hide to my handlebars as a kind of furry bar tape. Despite tireless searches on the interweb, I haven't found any method of performing this. Can you help? Oh, she's in the refrigerator until I hear from you.

Remorseful in Ramona

You're just messing with me, aren't you? Everyone knows you can't apply a cat's hide to your handlebars. The fur offers no padding whatsoever and once it gets wet, it stays matted down. Use sheepskin instead. Wool is a springy, shock absorbing material that cleans up easily with a bit of Woolite. I'd save the cat hide for doing static electricity demonstrations for the neighbor's kids, the obnoxious ones with their iPods, cellphones, laptops, and ground thumping stereo systems. Microcircuits don't like static discharges, but you didn't hear that from me!

Next month: Avoiding blood sucking monkeys from West Mifflin, Pennsylvania


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Upcoming holiday

Image from Phoney Nickle on Flickr.

Saturday, September 19th, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Don't forget - especially you pastafarians out there!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tesla Roadster and James Martin - Update

Fritz has a piece on James Martin's 'apology' regarding his weekend article on the Tesla Roadster. It follows the standard non-apology apology format so well known to all of us. I suspect his editor, publicist, and possibly his solicitor - attorney on this side of the Atlantic - did a little bit of arm twisting. He says the piece was intended as humor.

That's right, humor. It's the standard way of weaseling out of a situation like this. The cyclists he ran off the road just didn't have as finely attuned sense of humor as Martin. They didn't get the joke.

I'm tired. Some days this is too much like playing Whack-A-Mole.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Tesla Roadster and James Martin

Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the birdsong - and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists. Knowing they wouldn't hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed.

The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror.

James Martin, on driving the Tesla Roadster, the "the all-electric supercar that's as fast as a Ferrari."

Let's cut to the chase. James Martin is an idiot.

Martin should not be trusted with anything more powerful than a riding lawn mower if this is an example of his driving. Worse, as a journalist, he's in a position to influence other morally challenged drivers by his poor example. Gleefully running someone off the road isn't the act of a rational human being. It's the act of a sociopath.

Let's look at this another way. If someone walked up to you on the street swinging a baseball bat at your head, he would quite rightly be charged with assault. It's a felony. In simple terms that even Martin can understand, convicted felons deserve jail time. If a baseball bat is a weapon, surely a Tesla Roadster is simply a bigger one. Since Mr. Martin has already publicly confessed to committing an assault, perhaps those cyclists will come forward and bring charges. It's only right.

Let's hope that Tesla Motors exercises a little better judgment the next time they loan out a car to a journalist. In this case, it was like handing a loaded pistol to a twelve-year-old.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Do you have hipsters?

There's a very funny piece from the Morning News in April of 2006, "Do You Have Hipsters?" I've never seen it until today. It's a real belly laugh.



Have you recently found yourself asking any of the following questions?
  • Whose fixed-gear bicycle is that in my garage?
  • Where do I keep misplacing the charger for my iPod Nano?
  • Why are there vast amounts of food mysteriously not missing from my pantry and refrigerator each week?
Yes? Then, chances are, you’ve got hipsters.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Gorgeous old bikes!

Thumbnail of image from bicycle gallery on

OK, OK. I know I'm a little nutty about old bikes. Today I found another site with some truly lovely old machines like this one, a 1907 Racycle with an enormous front chain ring. I'm intrigued by the bicycle bell with an embossed turtle on top.

There are a wealth of photos here. Enjoy!'



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Old North Road Update

County Commissioner Karen Keith and Tulsa County Engineer Ray Jordan held a meeting last night in Sand Springs about the widening and repaving planned for Old North Road. Gary Parker and I attended.

This project is scheduled to begin on September 21 and end on Oct 2, weather permitting, and will include only the western portion of the road, from 81st West Ave going west to Adams Road. It will include two 14 foot travel lanes and the fog line will be set back 1 foot from the pavement edge. This is not part of the traveled portion of the road. It's a buffer to prevent the road edge from crumbling.

The original plan called for two 12 foot lanes and a 4 foot bike lane along the west bound side only. When the maintenance problems were discussed, the plan was amended. A bike lane in this terrain would inevitably attract debris and it would not be swept clean by car tires. Additionally, there are places where sand and gravel would accumulate from washouts. Some cyclists would ride around them without looking for overtaking traffic, causing a hazard.

Another idea involved a three lane road way - two ascending lanes and one descending. This was not possible due to the limited right of way, topography, and corner radii.

There is support for a reduction in the speed limit along this road. Presently, it's a 40mph limit. The county can reduce that to 35mph but no further. There's a rule about speed limits in urban areas allowing the county to make further reductions if houses have less than 100 feet separation. That is not the case along Old North Road.

An alert reader pointed out that cyclists may be subject to speeding tickets after this change as they exceed that 35mph limit on the downhills.

Tulsa County engineer Ray Jordan and County Commissioner Karen Keith made it plain at the outset that the cyclists were not going away and that they have every right to use that roadway. This did much to quell any anti-cycling sentiments, though a few disparaging comments were made. Both Jordan and Keith are to be commended for their openness and genuine concern, not only for the residents of the area, but for those who are merely passing through as well.

This is a good compromise that will benefit both motorists and cyclists. Parker pointed out that the Wednesday night ride uses this route only 20 times per year if the weather cooperates, yet area residents gain a wider, smoother road surface for their every day use.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Community meeting re: Old North Road

Gary Parker and I attended a community meeting in Sand Springs about the repaving/widening project scheduled for Old North Road this fall.

The short version - the project will begin later this month and is planned to be finished in 8 working days if the weather cooperates. Rather than 2 travel lanes and a bike lane, the project will have 2 14 feet wide lanes with 1 foot of pavement to the right of the fog line. A 14 foot lane is shareable.

The bike lane that was in the original plan was removed due to concerns about maintenance and debris.

This is a good compromise that will benefit both motorists and cyclists.

One last thought. Gary and I drove along the road west to east. It's signed for 40mph, but except for a brief section on one of the hilltops, I never got above 30. The road winds and is quite rough, so 30 mph was a judicious speed. There was some talk at the meeting about reducing the speed limit to 35.

I'll have more on this tomorrow, probably over on the Examiner page.


Monday, September 07, 2009

I was brainwashed!

Just moments ago, I realized I was brainwashed all those years ago in elementary school! We were forced to watch live television of both Alan Shepard and John Glenn as they launched from Cape Canaveral. Oh, the horror! Those broadcasts were like gateway drugs, leading helpless children into depraved studies like engineering or mathematics. It was all a secret government plot initiated by Barack Obama! Even though he was under a year old! It just shows the inherent evil and duplicity of this administration. Why, in 1961, they were already engaged in nefarious plot to take over education is this country.

Next time, I'll show you how to fashion a tin foil hat using your bike helmet as a template. It's the best way to deflect those government mind control rays.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Little shop of Larry's: A Wally Crankset Tale

"Yes, dear." Sometimes it's the very best thing a man can say, despite his forebodings. Say, "Yes, dear" and shut your trap, cutting off all those other things you'd like to say. It's the smart move and one that will keep you a step above the dog in the household food chain.

If Wally knew this, he never practiced it, and that lead to divisions within the local female population. Some of them adored him for his "honesty, integrity, and determination to speak his mind." None of that group spent much time around him, of course. Those who had were divided into two camps. They all saw him as an unprincipled, womanizing rogue. The truly amazing part was that one faction adored him for those very traits. When various ex-wives and former girlfriends were tossed into the mix, you had a heady brew of warring factions, Balkanized camps with enough animosity to spark another world war.

I will never understand women. For that matter, I'll never understand Wally, either. But if it's true that every man needs a graveyard in which to bury the faults of his friends, I'll start shoveling because it's going to be a big graveyard.

We were sitting on our regular bar stools in the back at Larry's Cafe. Wally and I occupied them so often that they'd pretty well conformed to our backsides. When the bar wasn't busy, Larry leaned on the other side and we talked politics, high school football, and hunting or fishing depending on the season and the usual ebb and flow of conversation. Every now and then, Larry's wife Arlene would pop out of the kitchen with 'goodies' for us to try. These invariably consisted of some form of zucchini. Arlene put 48 zucchini plants in her garden last spring, and the place was being overrun by the things. Several neighborhood cats had wandered in among the plants never to be seen again. We were not about to go in there looking for them, either. It strongly resembled the Little Shop of Horrors, except with zucchinis.

When Arlene came through the door with a plate of fried green something-or-others, Larry's face went gray. He ate zucchini with every meal, and believe me, it's something you don't want to face at breakfast. Wally slid off the barstool somehow and sauntered as casually as possible toward the men's room. Arlene's laser-beam glare bored holes in his back. Then she turned the lasers on me.

"Do you want to try some of these?" she asked. Well, no, I didn't really want to try them because I remembered that unfortunate incident at the Broken Elbow County Fair last month. It seems that Arlene entered her secret “Jalapeno Surprise Salsa” in one of the contests. The three judges gave her a second place ribbon and all seemed well until about 20 minutes later when those jalapenos hit bottom, so to speak, and the judges ran off toward the porta-potties. Surprise!

Broken Elbow is a sleepy country town most of the year, but it absolutely lights up during the state fair. Arlene's salsa was popular with the crowd, and it lit most of them up too. Very shortly we saw a stampede toward the porta-potties. As the salsa worked it's magic on the crowd, fistfights broke out over the remaining supplies of toilet paper until some started grabbing tracts right out of the hands of those visiting Jehovah's Witnesses from over in Clark County. They were overjoyed, thinking that their missionary work was meeting some fine ends, which was true in a way.

All that went through my mind in an instant as Arlene held out that tray. She was terribly embarrassed by the jalapeno debacle and she was a bit sensitive at the moment. If I turned down the zucchini, Arlene's feelings would be hurt as I'd be criticizing her culinary skills, however mildly. That hurt would be telegraphed through Broken Elbow's female population very rapidly. Chances are, the message would reach home and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed before I did. My hand refused to approach the tray. I summoned as much will power as possible, scraped it into a big pile, and ordered that reluctant hand into action.

"Why, thank you, Arlene. I'd like that." Larry's eyes looked whiter than usual in contrast to his graying face, but his lips remained firmly closed. Choking noises came from the men's room where Wally cowered. My hand found its way to the tray and returned with something green. At least it wasn't wriggling. In Larry's it's always a good idea to see if your food is moving.

You had to be careful because the regulars delighted in playing the same practical joke over and over. On the first weekend of trout season a couple of years ago, some nimrod from out of town walked in and ordered a caramel-latte-macchiato-skinny-and-no-foam. Larry just looked at him over the tops of his glasses. The cafe went silent as all present turned to stare at the newcomer.

"We don't do those frou-frou drinks around here", Larry said.

Nimrod Boy gulped, then realizing his predicament, ordered a large coffee instead. People went back to their conversations and Wally sidled down the bar to sit next to the guy. They talked fishing for a while, swapping plausible lies. The new guy had almost finished his coffee when he jumped to his feet, his bar stool clattering to the floor. "There's a worm in that cup!" he yelled.

Wally picked up the cup and peered into it. "By god, there is!" He reached into the cup with two fingers and retrieved the plastic worm. "And it's still alive!" By slightly rolling the worm between his fingertips, he made it look lifelike. "But I'll take it if you don't want it. They're tasty." And with that he tossed the worm into his mouth and swallowed it whole.

Nimrod Boy's hands flew to his lips and he ran to the men's room.

It was the beginning of a tradition. We all thought it was hilarious, an endlessly amusing joke that we pulled on the unwary - including each other - whenever possible. Larry did a brisk business selling realistic nightcrawlers in various flavors.

So I looked very carefully at that green something-or-other as my hand traveled across the void from Arlene's tray. It didn't move. I chewed it thoughtfully. No sudden burst of fiery jalapeno. No gag reflex. "That's really good!" I announced, much to my surprise. Of it's own volition, my hand went back to the tray for more. I rapidly ate four or five pieces as Larry's eyes grew even bigger.

Arlene nattered about cheese, spices, and olive oil, talking about central Oklahoma cuisine in a way that would make Julia Child spin in her grave rapidly enough to power a small city. I wasn't really paying attention because the food was so good. Then Arlene said, "Well, I hope you like them, because I ran into your wife this afternoon and gave her a big bag of zucchini along with some recipes!"

Larry smiled a cat-got-the-canary smile as I imagined my diet over the next couple of weeks. The rest of the married guys in the bar were making mental notes to keep their wives as far as possible from Arlene.

Then she turned to Larry and said, "You can have some too. I know they're your favorite!"

"Yes, dear," he replied.

I smiled too.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Update on 10% study

Link to original article.

I contacted Dr. Chris Cavacuiti through the University of Toronto. We had a good chat via email, and he kindly supplied me with this list of sources:

I've read some of this, but a few will go on my reading list. And a word of warning - I haven't tested these links.

I'll download some of them later. Right now, I have to do battle with those wonderful people at manning the customer disservice desk at my cellular phone provider. I must have done something very, very bad and this is my punishment.

Tulsa Critical Mass Ride

Part One: Alien Invasion

On Friday, August 28th, the city of Tulsa experienced the full horror of a Critical Mass ride as thousands hundreds nearly a dozen cyclists converged on the helpless city. Downtown office workers fled in terror ahead of the ravenous horde, their screams echoing off deserted buildings. But damn, they could run fast! By the time the relentless Mass reached the city center, all the office munchkins were long gone.

(Well, OK, it was 7PM on a Friday evening, and tumbleweeds could roll through downtown streets.)

The wary band of intrepid warrior bikers searched in every direction, but motorists were few.

So they set off on a quest to find commuters to annoy.

Part Two: Quest for Fire

Towering cliffs of office buildings cast long shadows across city streets. The gloom gave sustenance and cover to the forces of evil, protecting them from prying eyes and the vigilant band of biking brothers...and sisters...and some brothers in dresses. Whatever.

The two-wheeled invaders could feel malevolent eyes following their movements. Orcs might lurk in the shadows. Godzilla could lie concealed in an alleyway. Mothra could perch atop a building overhead. Manaical taxi drivers with Mohawks could be idling just around the next corner.

I steeled myself for the inevitable conflict, preparing to match brains and brawn against the most insidious evil ever to walk the face of the Earth. My warrior's mantra was taken from the immortal words of Conan the Barbarian. When the local warlord asked, "Conan, what is good in life?" he replied:

To crush your enemies

To see them run before you

To hear the lamentations of the women

Conan would go on to become a major player in the Republican party. Imagine that.

Part Three: Combat

Something moved in the gloom ahead. Dimly, I could see a cleverly disguised group of orcs sitting at tables in a sidewalk cafe. They did their best to look like office drones having some drinks after a long workday, but my discerning eye revealed their cunning ambush. I reached for my blade, an ancient longsword forged in the frozen mountains of Cimmeria in the mists of time before even the gods imagined the world. With my hand on the hilt which had tasted the blood of countless...... cellular phone rang. "Hello?" I asked.

"Where are you?" It was She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. "You were supposed to be home an hour ago. I'm hungry and you were going to take me out for dinner, remember? And then we're going to watch that movie I rented."

"Yes, my dear. I'll be right home." Even Conan knew when to retreat in the face of a superior force. But further horror lay ahead. She'd rented "The Horse Whisperer" for the third time. Oh, the humanity!

(My grateful thanks to the late Walter Mitty for his invaluable assistance in preparing this piece.)

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