Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What does Peace mean to you?

"Peace" can mean many different things depending on the person, their desires and their circumstances.  Peace of mind, peace in our time and give peace a chance are not just catch phrases. What kind of person spends his or her life seeking peace?  Is it selfish to seek peace for oneself?  Is it noble to try to force others to live in peace or just arrogance? Why are people who try to get others to live in peace, the ones who are killed?  Jesus, Lincoln, JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon come to mind. Is the thought of living in peace so offensive to some people that the peaceable ones have to be killed?  What is it about so called "civilized" human beings that we kill the very people who encourage us to get along with one another?

for me, peace has to do with the welfare of my family. If my wife and 3 children are happy with their lives, then, I'm at peace. "Happy" doesn't mean they have perfect lives, just that they look forward to their days. When we're together, I feel at peace. We can disagree, sometimes strongly, but in the end we love one another and that, to me, is peace.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why Do They Hate Us?


John Matney
Things car drivers have said to me while I was cycling.
1)           You people on bikes don’t belong on the street;
2)           Why aren’t you on the sidewalk?
3)           You’re in my way.
4)           If it wasn’t for you people on bikes there wouldn’t be so much traffic.
5)           Heres something for you (passenger in car threw a full soda can at me)
6)           Go back to your own country (note-I have blue eyes and blond hair-I guess you mean Ireland)
7)           “Go f**k yourself (in response for my asking him to close his car door which blocked the bike lane)
8)           You people should obey the traffic laws (this Einstein said this while he was blocking the crosswalk with his car)
9)           You need to pay taxes for the road you use.  (I’m not making this up)
10)      Stop blocking traffic (right-all 5 feet long, 18 inches wide of me)
Anybody who has ever ridden a bicycle has heard the
above nonsense.   Skateboarders hear this stuff too.  What is it about the U.S. that people who might be perfectly rational and nice people lose their minds when they see a cyclist? I have my theories:
Resentment-drivers have seen cyclists run stop signs or red lights and unlike the drivers, the cyclists didn’t get a ticket.

Hypocrisy-why yes, there are plenty of cyclists who run red lights or stop signs. Yes it's illegal. But, are drivers prevented from driving because they run stop signs and red lights? The answer is no. Ergo-it's just dumb to assume that all cyclists violate the vehicle codes and should be banned from the roads. 

Jealousy-drivers are jealous that cyclists can split lanes, ride on the sidewalks and on the side of the roads and bypass the traffic jam that the drivers are trapped in. Also, cyclists don’t need the government’s permission to ride their bikes. There is no Department of Two Wheeled Vehicles forcing them to take a test to prove they can ride a bike. No registration fees to be paid every year.

Envy-lets face it, most driving isn’t pleasurable.  Even the fun stuff like driving fast is dangerous and can result in a ticket and a big hike in insurance premiums. Cycling on the other hand is by its very nature, IS FUN! And in America, there is no end of people who would like to forbid people from having fun.

Freedom-there is a reason why motorcyclists and cyclists refer to cars as “cages.”  People driving cars are trapped in traffic, forced to obey traffic laws that often make no sense and when they get to their destination, they are trapped into finding a place to park where in most cases, they are forced to pay for that privilege. Cyclists on the other can park their vehicle almost anywhere-FOR FREE!   

So that pretty much explains why drivers hate cyclists. So when you encounter a driver that exhibits these traits, be patient, smile and maybe someday they will see the light or at least not throw heavy objects at our heads.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Rider looks at 58




            I’ve always been an active boy that hated being indoors. So much so that I would bawl like the baby I was when my Mom forced me to stay indoors.  My sister would cry equally as loud when she was forced into the outdoors. My Mom told me this when I was 55.  God bless my Mother.
            When I was 4, my parents gave me a nice little red bike for Christmas. I remember two things about that bike. First, I threw a tantrum when my Dad wanted to put on training wheels and second,  I put the bike in the gutter and pushed it scooter style until I was going fast enough to start pedaling.  The other presents were left unopened as I went around the block a hundred times or so. 
            The clock keeps moving forward. To riding a road bike at the University of Oregon as cross training to my running. To my bike collecting dust while taking the kids to their swim practices and soccer tames. Onto the entering the hurt city of divorce where I learned to love riding my bike because it was free and riding the hills kept me from thinking about being broke and away from my kids.
I bought them bikes and we rode together at the fun rides at the Sea Otter and the local parks. All went well until they discovered boyfriends,  shopping and could drive themselves around.
            Fast forward to age 57. The kids are grown and are in great shape, mentally and emotionally.  I’ve remarried and now ride with the wife and go for mountain bike rides and long road bike rides on my own. The only interfering with putting in the miles that I’d like is this pesky little thing called a job. But, Karma had a solution. It is called eliminating my position.  That would be the downside. The upside would be a package of 6 months pay and having my days free to do what I want, with the wife’s blessing.
            Sure, I could buy the sportscar, but I really like my Passat.  Not interested in dating other women because my wife is such an adorable lovely.  Don’t watch tv. So, what’s left is more opportunities to get on the bike.  It’s what happened afterward that surprised me.
            Take my first ride up to the summit of Mt. Diablo.  It was a weekday morning. Early enough that it was hot, late enough that the commute traffic was gone.  Wearing my lycra for the first time in ages-GO DUCKS!  I rode towards the base, not seeing other cyclists for the most part. Perfect, I thought, it will be a nice quiet solo ride.
            NOT!  As I got closer to the North Gate entrance,  I came upon some people on their bikes.  Men and women of a certain vintage.  Hmmm-I began to note a trend. Namely that almost all of the cyclists had several things in common. First, they rode nice bikes.  I mean nice bikes as in carbon fiber, made in Italy with Campy or Dura Ace components. I felt under biked on my Specialized with its aluminum Columbus frame and Ultegra components.  
            The other thing I noticed was that they were all smiling and they returned my hellos. Now this surprised me.  I am a mountain biker first and the image of the snobby grumpy roadie still resides in the back of my dusty mind.  I mean, that very morning I spent 15 minutes debating whether to wear my Zoic shorts or some lycra. Something was quite right-nobody could be this happy.
            I rode on, using the granny gear to save my 50 year old knees and wheezed my way up the ramp to the top.  I chatted up the other riders while we filled up the water bottles and learned that they too had had “life changes” and instead of buying the Vette, bought a 5 figure road bike.  Clearly they were the 1%.  Me, I’d have to sell the car to buy a bike like theirs.
            But the more I talked to them, the more any class resentment left my consciousness. I realized that we were bikers.  We loved bikes.  We have common enemies-cars and the people who drive them, politicians who want to ban bikers from singletrack and so called urban planners who never consider having bike lanes within the city.  I think it’s impossible to hate someone who would rather be pedaling than looting, whether its pension funds, mortgage loans or the planet.
            Say what you will about baby boomers, we do care about the planet. we do like our fun and we don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive.  I wish the best for my children and the young people just starting their careers.  On the rare occasions they ask me for advice about work-I like to say “find something you love and you’ll be successful.”  I’m hoping that they have their mid-bike crisis right now instead of when they reach my age. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


College Avenue on the borders of Oakland and Berkeley-species found in the coffee shop. 

  1. Middle aged academics-it’s 85 degrees out, lose the sweater and no, black socks don’t look good when you’re wearing shorts. 
  2. Younger business type guys asking me “sir, do you know how to connect to the wifi?” Ah, that’s a tough one, how about you click on the button marked “accept” on it. Well, at least he appears to have a job, unlike the guys described below;
  3. Young, metrosexual, feminine types who sit with their legs crossed like girls drinking some caffeine cocktail instead of black coffee.
  4. Students-both undergrad and grads. The boys uniformly dressed in shorts, retro sneakers and tees. The women (they’d riot if you refer to them as girls even though they call themselves girls all the time) wearing summer dresses (God bless them) so as to casually maximize the tan. They both get their drinks and stake out a table and study or if they are a couple, pretend to study. 
  5. Moms on parole from the kids. Easily discerned by their clothes from Banana Republic, large sunglasses, coffee cups the size of a Big Gulp and a cell phone surgically attached to her hand. Usually travel in packs so as to compare the pre-pre-pre SAT scores their kids got in Kindergarten. 
  6. The loudmouth guy that insists oneveryone in the shop hearing his conversation with a technical support guy-"should I go back, I can't tell from the screen, I don't know, hit all programs again, I don't see it, look through all programs again, right? 
  7. Slightly older, disheveled man grimacing every time he stands up  giving off a faint smell that is a combination of sweat and baby wipes. Oh-right, that’s me after a bike ride. Ahhh so sorry, would you mind opening that window-thanks ever so much!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Still Night



John Matney

The Crow’s Nest was a small bar perched on the second floor of a gray concrete building next to the International Marketplace in Waikiki. The tourists tended the ignore the bar, rushing to buy made in China Aloha shirts and plastic buddhas. The owner and bartender, Sam Manoa mostly served draft beer and the occasional shot. No drinks with umbrellas or silly names like “Coconut Cement Mixer” for Sam. Anyone ordering such a thing would get a long silent look from Sam, noting that he was over 6 feet and weighed close to 300 pounds, none of it fat and would decide to go back down the stairs. 
O’Brian walked up the stairs to escape the tourists. The peanut shells on the floor crunched under his shoes. It was dark inside. He felt his way to a small round table in the back far corner of the bar, where he could see anyone coming in. It was an old habit, now unconscious. He took off his Dixie Cup, the bright white upturned hat of the US Navy and carefully placed it on the table. 
On a small raised stage in the opposite corner, across from the bar, there was a small stage covered in a spotlight. A fat man with a blond whispy beard and ponytail sang his version of Harry Chapin’s song “Taxi.” O’Brian sipped his beer, ate a handful of peanuts and surveyed the room. It was hard because the room was so dark and he heard the other people before he could see them. 
He noticed a thin man with a goatee and wearing sunglasses. He was wearing big bell bottom pants and a polyester shirt with big lapels. He had dark brown pockmarked skin that shone in the occasional light and big white teeth. O’Brian thought he looked like a rat. 
O’Brian heard the man say, “hey baby, what’s yo name”  O’Brian heard the response, “Veronica Alvarez.” “She” was a short slim Filipina with long black hair. She had plump lips that shone with bright red lipstick. She was wearing a dress with bright hibiscus flowers on it that were the same color as the lipstick and matching platform shoes. She was still less than 5 feet tall, O”Brian noticed. She looked embarrassed at the man’s attention. 
“No I don wan to go out with you” she said to the Rat. “Aw c’mon baby he said, I got a fine crib and I want to rock you.” O’Brian stifled a laugh, no sense getting into a fight this early into his liberty. She said, “no, leave me alone and got up to walk from her table towards the bathroom. Like all of the men in the bar, O’Brian turned his head and followed her to the door. 
O’Brian got up to get another beer. “You with them” the big Hawaiian bartender asked? “No” O’Brian said. “That’s good because when Roni’s boyfrien get’s here, you be glad you wasn’t.” He walked back to his table, sat down and looked at the scene. It felt like a play to him with people acting out roles to show each other what kind of men or women they were. 
A fat man with tight curly blond hair, wearing Ben Davis pants and a flannel shirt with only the top button fastened started laughing at the Rat. “Stevie, the lady don’t seem to like you that much. The Rat said, “oh yeah, she gonna me just fine after I give her some time.” The Rat and his friends laughed at this brilliant insight. O’Brian thought of what the bartender had said to him and wondered what the boyfriend would do if he showed up. 
O’Brien guessed the fat man was copying the cholos he had seen in LA ,maybe San Jose or the mission in San Francisco. O’Brian thought to himself that he hated posers and come to think of it, weren’t actors posers that got paid? After drinking 4 beers, O”Brian conceded that maybe philosophy wasn’t one of his strengths.
O’Brian was considering his intellectual limitations when he heard someone near the front door shouted out in Tagalog. He saw four Filipino men storm up the stairs, banging the door open. One of the men, almost O’Brian’s size walked up to the bartender. He saw them have a whispered conversation which ended when the bartender nodded toward the Rat. 
Veronica Alvarez chose that moment to come out of the bathroom. She had retouched the lipstick and all the men could smell her perfume. She turned her head and flipped her hair in the way women do when they know men are watching them. She walked back to her table. She has a graceful walk O’Brian noticed. He liked that. She sat down and turned towards the 4 Filipinos at the bar, her eyes getting very wide and her red painted mouth parted in a silent scream.
The Filipino that had been talking to the bartender rushed up to Veronica, hissed something in her ear and grabbed her arm, jerking her out of the seat. O’Brian heard the slap and saw her slump down in her chair, sobbing in her folded arms. O’Brian half rose out of his chair, then he remembered the bartenders warning. He decided to wait for a better chance.
The Filipino was sweating a lot and he stomped over to the Rat’s table. “Hey yo, I’m not gonna let you slap me like you did your bitch, homey.” “I cut you up you motherfucker” the Filipino screamed. O’Brian saw him reach into his back pocket and take out a Buck knife, snapping it open with his thumb, O’Brian heard the “snick.” “Ooooo, we see about that,” the Rat said. O’Brian watch the two rush each other and without thinking, he grabbed the neck of his beer bottle, looking around for something else he could use. 
“Stop it, stop it, I say” O’Brian heard Veronica scream. The two men turned towards her. O’Brian saw that she had stopped crying, but not before there were two long trails of mascara dripping from her eyes. Her eyes were burning like coal embers. He could feel the heat from his chair. The condensation on the beer bottle made it slippery. 
“You, ...............you, she stuttered in a rage, treat me like I’m the last piece of meat on a plate!” “You can both go to hell!” She snatched up her purse and with more dignity than O’Brian thought possible, she stalked out the bar. O’Brian sipped his beer and wondered if he had seen Grace Kelly make a departure like that in one of her movies with Cary Grant. 
O’Brian heard the Rat laughing. “Oh man, oh man, did you hear that woman, he shouted at his friends?” The Filipino stared at the floor, ashamed. When one of his cronies started to speak, the Filipino silenced him with a glare. He left the bar, saying nothing as his friends silently filed after him down the steps, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk The Rat and his friends giggled for a minute and then left. 
O’Brian was left to finish his now warm beer. He tugged on his dixie cup, making sure it was level with his eyebrow and cocked just so. He walked up to the bar, gave the bartender a couple of bucks and said, “thanks for the tip.” As he walked down the stairs, O’Brian felt good for some reason, he didn’t know why and wasn’t going to ask. 
Sam Manoa finished cleaning the glasses and wiped the bar with a big clean bright towel. It was his favorite part of the night. All the angry and happy shouting was stilled. He finished his chores and counted out the register.  Then he turned off the lights and locked the front door, walking down the steps into the cool damp night. It was a nice quiet walk back to his apartment. He was hoping that his wife had dinner ready. 

Things I'll Miss About MY OLD JOB

As my prior post mentions, my job has been eliminated by senior management and to be sure, it hurts a bit to be rejected. But since that rejection was accompanied by a good severance package, it only stings a little. The sting goes completely away when I remember the things I'll miss about the job.


1) Mike, Fran, Jeanne, Lucy, Philip, Tammy, Robin, Manny and all the other good people I worked with for the past 14 years.

2) Listening to Mike's stories.

3) Going to Manny's office and talking bikes, beer, wives and all the other important stuff.

4) Morning coffee with Fran

5) Stopping by Jeanne's cube and chatting until she pretended to have a call so she could shoo me away.

6)  Running along the Embarcadero with my friends and chatting.

7) Breakfast at Java Reds in the morning before work.

8) Danny at the Y

9) Eating ice cream cones in the office and knowing it pissed off the Shrew.

10) Popping the ballon heads like Joe Dunn when I ask him a question he doesn't want to answer.

I should be looking for a job

My job is being eliminated. That I suppose is the bad news. The good news is that the severance package is pretty generous and I should be able to start collecting my pension in a few months. So, you would think I would be frantically looking at openings on the internet and sending out my resume. You would be wrong.  Being the love sick cyclist that I am, I decided it was the perfect time for a PROJECT BIKE.  Below is what I am starting with.

It's a Mongoose hardtail that I bought in 1999 for $ 250.00 while I was in the middle of my divorce. I loved this bike because I could ride it almost anywhere and it was virtually theft proof because after all, who would steal it? Once it was paid for, I spent hours on it to keep my mind off my troubles. Then, when I met the adorable lovely One, I rode it with her in Oregon and parts south. I have many fond memories of the black beauty. But, alas, I threw her over for my current ride-a Giant NRS2, full suspension with a beautiful red coat. SIGH!   But, what to do with the Goose? Ah, I know, I'll convert it to a singlespeed to ride with the Lovely Adorable One on the local bike paths, I'll be cool and not at all P***y whipped. So, with some extra cash I got for a side job, I went out and bought the stuff laid out below.

I have the parts and even some instructions which I may or not follow. I can guarantee there will be numerous bottles of Anchor Steam Summer Ale consumed while I contemplate my artwork. While I am doing so, I will have visions of the riding pictured on the cover of UrbanVelo magazine shown below.  Progress notes to follow.........................