The mostly humorous ramblings of my day to day existence.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Make sure to say “TO THE MAAAaaax” in a very low voice.

While visiting Scott's Bikes & Boards last week I was reminded of 1975 and summer days in Portland. My cousin Casey and I were skateboard enthusiasts and spent much of our summer careening down Mt. Tabor on our boards. Many times we did it the scary way by laying on our backs like present day street luge riders. I remember thinking to myself at the time that I was only 2 inches from the pavement, and it would hurt if I lost it, but I just concentrated harder on staying on. We also had races down the volcanic cinder cone that is Tabor in a catamaran style. We did this by sitting on our boards and then placing our feet on our partner's. We raced as teams to see who could make it to the bottom first. The closed off reservoir road that we used ended at a road that cars traveled on. We would all stick out our thumbs and catch rides in the backs of passing pickup trucks that were going up. We didn't wear helmets, and I ripped more than one pair of blue Levi's cords in pursuit of my thrills.
I was also a bicycle fanatic and loved taking my bike everywhere. I had a series of banana seat clad Schwinns and Huffys when I was a kid, and I've kept bicycles in my life to this day, but my love for two wheels branched off when I decided I wanted to ride motorcycles. When I was 16 the only thing I could convince my dad into letting me have was a Honda trail 70 with folding handlebars. I took it into the woods and did some serious exploring with it. My neighbor Jeff also had one and many times we would ride together. I remember having my cousin Casey on the back one day when a coyote jumped out from the brush and started running beside us. I didn't think we looked like a road runner, but I suppose coyotes only chase road runners in cartoons.
When I left home all bets were off and I started buying and riding anything I wanted. I owned dirt bikes, and street bikes, I wanted to experience it all. One winter I decided to purchase a Honda 350 from a friend in Phoenix Arizona. I flew out and spent a few days in Phoenix, then rode the Honda 700 miles back to Sacramento California. I was freezing my butt off going over the Grape Vine on Interstate 5 just north of the Las Angeles sprawl. In the years to come I didn't let bad weather slow my motorcycling down, and I remember commuting on Interstate 880 in the bay area of California in the middle of winter riding my 85 Kawasaki ZL 600 Eliminator. I would wear a bright yellow rain suit and put a gallon of Rain-X water repellent on the inside of the windshield of my helmet. I remember cutting through cars one day when traffic was stalled (legal in California) and having a guy in a pickup truck roll down his window and spit on me as I went buy; good thing it was raining. I rode the ZL 600 on that same road coming home at 110 miles per hour one day, the cars that I passed seemed to be sitting still, but the bike was running smooth with only a slight long wobble caused by the windshield. I suppose I could have gone even faster but I didn't want to push it.
About 10 years ago I owned my last motorized two wheeled vehicle, it was a Yamaha 250 scooter like Tom Hanks rode in the movie Larry Crowne. My wife wouldn't let me get anything larger, but if it made her happy I was happy too. I rode that scooter every day to work rain or shine, except when it was icy, I finally gave it up but it was a lot of fun. Now that I'm at that age where I need to exercise or rot, so I've been concentrating on my first love, my bicycle.
Looking for a bottle of chain oil for my Fuji Hybrid was the reason for going into Scott's Bikes & Boards the other day. I had a great conversation with the tattoo clad skater that was managing the store at the time. They had some beautiful long boards and I found myself longing to get on and cruise down Mt. Tabor. We had a nice conversation about each other's knee surgeries and I decided that careening down Mt. Tabor at this point in my life wasn't a good idea. The chain oil he sold me rocked! Well as much as chain oil can rock, but it does repel water and grime like a champ. I purchased a yellow rain jacket over at Bi-Mart to round out my foul weather riding attire. I'm not going to let a little rain stop me from getting the anti-rotting exercise that I need.
I would like to get a couple more bikes at some point. I need a mountain bike to ride with my older son on the dirt trails, and a tandem to use with my younger son, and my wife. I think my legs falling off would be the only thing that would ever stop me from riding bicycles. My motorcycle days may well be over but I've been fascinated by 3 wheeled Piaggio scooters as of late, but I don't think one is in the cards anytime soon. Having some maturity is one of the good things about having your first kid at 40, and not being bug squash is important these days; my boys deserve to grow up with a dad.
Miraculously, my boys didn't inherit my thrill seeking genes, it's one less thing I have to worry about as they grow up. Instead I have to worry about the little pack of girls that seems to be following my 12 year old around. My wife has been giving him the low down on wild adolescent girls, and I've been doing my part in filling him on what his life would look like being a dad at 14. Hopefully he's been inoculated against stupidity. But the thing about stupidity is that resistance requires frequent booster shots.
Lucky for me, I survived my bouts of 110 Mph stupidity.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All of My Groupies

You would think with a title like that I would be talking about my panty throwing fans, and I suppose if I had any panty throwing fans then even I would be a little surprised. But panty throwers isn't what I want to talk about.
After sitting here at midnight watching two snails crawl around a lettuce leaf placed in our fish tank, my thoughts turn to all of the different groups of people I connected with today. My interactions varied, and my head had to switch gears with every group. It was like riding a bicycle in the Tour de Pants of the brain, but without having to wear tight pants.
I spent time today with a group of people who I've never met in person, but I've know some of these people for over 15 years. I started playing the multi-player game called Subspace on my brand new Windows 95 running computer in 1997. “Meet people from around the world... then kill them” has been their motto forever. But if you think I'm talking about a game where gibs. (short for giblets) are splatting on the computer screen then you would be wrong, this game involves little space ships like the early video game Asteroids. You team up with players and shoot the little ships of the opposing teams with your little ship, and when you blow up, you get a fresh little ship. The game is very social with people talking to each other constantly, and about any subject. There is a lot of smack talk, but you also get to meet and talk to people from everywhere. Players have names like “Axe Demento,” “The Prince of Pain,” and “Mr. Bhole.” I'm known as “A Boomstick!” in the game, and am known for my witty retorts to noodle brains that don't know how to use the English language. Noodle brains like to communicate using text messaging shorthand words like STFU noob, lmfao, and OMG. I actually changed my name in the game from “Firkroy” to “A Boomstick!” sometime back because of the online column that I created and subsequent blog. I didn't want stupid people following me around the Internet, and I think a few of them have a grudge. Which brings me to my next group, The Expats.
The Expats is my writing group that ultimately came together after we simultaneously had a Popeye the Sailor moment and declared “That's all I can stands, cuz I can't stands n'more!” with an online website where we originally met. We ate our spinach, and then like washed ashore shipwreck survivors we had a gathering on Facebook. It was amazing how much we all clicked together. Our love for writing, and more importantly, writing with integrity created a stronger bond than I think anyone could have imagined. I couldn't have asked for a greater community of writers to hang out with. They give me inspiration every day to be more creative, and the confidence I need to move forward. I just love this eclectic group!
Another group that I just recently started working with is Oregon Veterans' Heart. Formerly the Eugene chapter of Veterans for Peace, this group of veterans is committed to making a real difference in our community for veterans. They are involved in the Egan warming center that provides shelter for the homeless when it gets cold , and with the Truth in Recruiting program through the Community Alliance of Lane County. The goal is to counter the misinformation that military recruiters share with students, and to promote alternatives to military service. Veterans' Heart is one part of my lifetime journey of self understanding and healing after my 15 year involvement with the U.S. Military. I volunteered to create a website that is still in the works, and to help with other activities. It gives me great comfort being around people who understand how I feel, and who care so much about others. There is a communal knowledge that runs through us, and an understanding about what each of us has gone through. Sometimes it just feels nice to be around people who understand.
Another journey in my life started when I found out I was a parent of a child with autism. Membership in this group was free, and doing everything in my power for my child was the only option. We have networked with many parents who also have children with similar challenges, and have embarked on a lifetime of learning about the unique person who is my son. We support great programs like Bridgeway House in Eugene Oregon that serves the needs of children with autism and related developmental disabilities while educating and supporting their families. They put on a play once a year, that is not a fund raiser, but rather a showcase of what these kids can do. So much effort is put into helping these kids sometimes we can loose track of how amazing they are. My wife has embarked on a Master degree in Special Education with an emphases on autism as a result of our son's needs; she's an amazing woman with a fortitude that I didn't know existed when I married her. The military instilled a “failure is not an option” attitude toward life in me that has helped me push forward through tough times. That kind of tenacity came to my wife naturally.
Which brings me to my favorite group of all, my family, without them I'm really nothing. My spouse has saved me from myself more times than she realizes, and my kids are my world of joy. Yes, they can be challenging, but would I have ever grown up at all without them? I doubt it. They keep me on my toes and teach me what it is to be human. I watch my children with amazement when they accomplish things I never imagined they could, and I can see my influences on them every day. If it weren't for my family I would have never known the joys and challenges that parents experience. Being a parent is the toughest job I have ever had, but it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done.
Groups are always in flux, and don't stay the same throughout life. New groups will find me, and old groups will have new members. I haven't seen The Prince of Pain in some time, and I just got to know Axe Demento who is working on writing a novel. I think Mr. Bhole will probably always live up to his name, but he provides me with cheap entertainment.
My family will always be the most important group in my life, real friends will always be there for me, and I for them. Because your groups and the people in them are really what life is all about.