Easy Peddler

A couple of years ago my wife bought a bicycle. It’s been sitting in the garage ever since. I know better than to make any type of comment on the situation so I have never questioned the acquisition, Then a few weeks ago she said to me ‘Do you know why I never ride that bicycle?’ Yes I do but here again, I know better than to share that information. ‘I don’t ride it’ she went on, ‘because you don’t have one. If you had a bike we could go riding together.’ Okay so all of a sudden I’m the problem. Again. I don’t like to lie so I just stay quiet but here’s the thing – I’m not a bicycle guy. I’m a car guy. I could be a motorcycle guy if I had to but I am certainly not a bicycle guy. Sadly that point of view is not regarded as an acceptable defense in my local courthouse/family room.

So I went to WalMart and bought a bicycle. But I didn’t want it assembled. I asked them to deliver it in a box. Then I went online and found a company in Alabama that makes small gas engines for bicycles. I ordered one and it arrived a few days later. There was an engine with a gearbox mounted on it and a whole bunch of nuts and bolts and a hub with a sprocket on each side and other stuff. But no instructions. I called the company and was told they don’t provide instructions. Instead I was to go the Photo Gallery on their website, find a bike that looks like mine and do that. About twenty-seven trips to Lowes later, I had the engine mounted on the bike:

I didn’t do the whole job myself. You have to remove all the spokes from the back wheel, take off the old hub and replace it with this new hub that has sprockets on each side. One for the pedals and one for the engine.

I got a bicycle shop to swap the hubs. To my surprise the removal of the old hub meant I no longer had brakes. The process of adding an engine while removing the brakes didn’t seem like an ideal plan to me. So I installed hand brakes but I was concerned about slamming on the brakes and cartwheeling forward over the handlebars so I put both brakes on the rear wheel.

As you see I had to also remove the rear fender to make the engine fit. I made a mental note not to ever ride through puddles. The next issue was that the added weight of the engine moved the centre of gravity so far back that the kickstand was ineffective. Rather than replace it, I just added another one closer to the rear hub.

Now it was time for a test drive. I fired up the engine and away I went. With the gear ratio I ordered, I had to pedal to get the bike moving and then I could open the throttle and the engine would take over. Everything worked well but I was curious about how fast I was going and how far I could travel on a tank of gas so I installed a little wireless gizmo that would give me that info.

It was like a mini-computer or something. You had to program in your age and weight for some reason. Once I got it working I went for a ride around my neighbourhood. When I got back I pressed the buttons and got the report. I had travelled 3.58 miles at an average speed of 15 mph and a top speed of 23 mph and here’s the best part, I had burned 375 calories. The gizmo didn’t know I wasn’t pedaling. I went in the house and had a piece of pie. Later that week my wife gave her bike to a friend. I’ve still got mine.

All Natural

ALL NATURAL

California has always been regarded as the hub of logic and rational thinking and they’ve proven it once again with their recent discovery of the benefits of ‘raw water’. This is bottled water that comes straight from a pond or a river or a spring and gets bottled without the benefit of any chemical treatments. The important aspect of that statement is that I‘m not kidding. People are now giving testimonials about how drinking raw water enhances their health and sense of well-being. They will never drink treated water again. Probably because they won’t live long enough to.

I know most people would prefer to not drink chemicals, just like most people would prefer to not take medication, but they should. Let’s try a little reverse engineering on tap water to try to understand the rationale behind water treatment. By the time it comes to your house it’s been filtered and treated with alum to remove the particulate and socked with chlorine to kill the bacteria and maybe even given a splash of fluoride so your teeth don’t fall out. Why do they do that? Is the city in bed with the chemical companies? Do they like wasting money? Are they just stupid? If raw water is so great, why doesn’t the city just stick a big pipe into the nearest river and pump that straight into your house?

It’s not because they’re wasteful, it’s because they don’t want you to die. Or at least they don’t want to be responsible for killing you. It’s a big part of their job. They’ve looked at the evidence and have decided that sticking your head into a pond and taking a big gulp is probably not all that good for you. They’re convinced that there is bad stuff in raw water. And so am I. Mosquito larvae and spider webs and tree roots and rotting fish. And the main offender – poop. Lots of poop. Nature is a wonderful place but it does not have restrooms. Animals that live in the water, poop in the water. There’s a reason fish don’t swim on the bottom. And not just fish poop. Turtle poop and muskrat poop and weasel poop and the biggest treat of all – bear poop. So if somebody pours you a glass of raw water, hold it up to the light, look at the little specs floating around in it and try to guess which one is gonna put you in the hospital.

Of course the raw water thing is just an extension of the movement towards all natural, organic meat and vegetables. There are a lot of people who want to take the chemicals out of the farming process. The logic is that whatever they spray on the vegetables to give higher crop yields or feed to the cattle to make them grow faster, is going to end up in peoples’ bodies and hurt them. Or even kill them. Nobody wants that. If you thought processed food was dangerous, you wouldn’t eat it. And neither would I. But I do eat processed food because I don’t believe it’s dangerous. I haven’t done any research. I really don’t know anything about it. If I googled ‘the evils of processed food’, I’d probably be paranoid too. Instead I just bumble along with my approach to life. I have a pretty simple way of looking at things, including all-natural organic food, based on four premises:

Premise #1 – I am not immortal. I will eventually die of something, even if it’s boredom.

Premise #2 – I trust people. I don’t believe the food industry is trying to kill their customers.

Premise #3 – I like value. Until somebody convinces me that organic food is going to make me immortal, I’m not willing to pay double for a head of lettuce that has a two-day shelflife.

Premise #4 – Historical evidence. Four hundred years ago there were no chemicals sprayed on crops and no hormones injected in cattle. Everything they ate was all-natural organic and the average life span was 37 years. Why would we want to go back to that?

I don’t run marathons either but that’s a whole other blog.

Will You All Marry Me?

There’s a reality show on tv where a guy has seven wives and that gets me thinking. My first thought being ‘Who in the hell would want seven mothers-in-law?’ Now I don’t know anything about the religious or cultural bases of polygamy but on the other hand, it’s a lot more fun to have an opinion that’s not encumbered by knowledge or experience. I’m free to just imagine how my life would have been different if I had veered off into that lifestyle. My guess is that you start real early, like say the age of 11 or 12. It’s natural for a boy of that age to start taking an interest in girls. It’s the beginning of the process of finding a mate and then hooking up for life. But not for the polygamist. He’s looking for a whole bunch of mates. Does that make him gradually less fussy? Like okay he’s going to find one who’s beautiful and smart and witty but he’ll lower the bar for the other six? And does he find one and then look for another and another and so on? Like a small business that starts out with one store and then eventually branches out into a chain and starts selling franchises?

I would think if you’re going to have seven wives you can’t make it a surprise. You’ve got to get them all used to each other and the situation during the dating years. Before you can marry them as a group, you have to date them as a group. Okay how does that work? It’s normal to date a bunch of different girls through your teenage years. But not at the same time. Every boy would love the take a cheerleader to the dance. Only a polygamist wants to take all the cheerleaders to the dance. And what happens when he gets there? Does he dance with all seven at once? If he dances with one at a time, do the other six just sit there? That won’t work. Cheerleaders need to shake their pom-poms. What if he dances with one girl more than the others? I’ve met women and believe me they don’t like that kind of thing. And there are other problems with bulk dating. You’ve got to find a night when all seven are available and have something to wear. You’ve gotta rent a small school bus to pick them up. And where do you go on the date? Dinner would be a thousand bucks. Maybe take them golfing. You could play in one foursome on the front nine and the other on the back.

Maybe polygamists don’t date. Maybe they just get everybody together and do chores. And then one day, the guy takes out a mortgage on the family farm, goes down to the jewelry store and buys seven rings, gets the girls to stand in a circle with him on his knees in the middle and pops the eternal question ‘Will you all marry me?’ Maybe that’s the origin of the phrase ‘You all’. And is it an all or nothing deal? What if one says ‘no’, does the guy rescind the offer pending him finding a suitable substitute? Does he say ‘I need to have seven wives. I just can’t see this working with only six.’ As a sidebar, let me just say that I’ve been married for a long long long long long long long time and I can’t imagine it working with two wives, let alone seven. Some days I can’t imagine it working with one wife.

But I digress. So let’s say the women all say ‘yes’ and we move on to the wedding. Okay we got the groom standing at the altar with seven brides coming up the aisle. They get through the ‘I do’ and ‘We do’ part. And when the brides all toss their bouquets it looks like the botanical gardens exploded. The reception is a big affair because you’re bringing eight families together. Everyone is especially nice to the groom because with seven brides they know he may not survive the wedding night. But with the help of youthful energy and appropriate medication, all goes well and they start life’s journey as a happily married gang. Now the fun begins.

Specifically, the sleeping arrangements. Are they all in one huge bed like in a Dickens’ book? Or does each wife have her own bunk for which hubby has visiting rights. Do they each have their own room? That’s a big house. How many newlyweds can afford an eight-bedroom backsplit? But if the wives share a bedroom what happens when the man of the house drops by and hops into bed with one of the other wives? How’s a girl supposed to sleep with those kinds of shenanigans going on a pillow toss away? The logical solution of course is for hubby to have his own bedroom and for the wives to all sleep together in a dormitory where they bet with each other as to who’s going to be summoned to the mainstage. As a wife it may be something you enjoy or something you dread but with seven of you to share the load, even at worst it’s no more than a once a week thing.

But the living arrangements have to be the toughest part. The cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the shopping. How does that get divided up? Or does everybody do everything together? Like Siamese septuplets. And most importantly, who gets to choose what television shows to watch? I hope you’re not going to tell me the guy makes all the decisions. I tried that at my house and I can guarantee you it doesn’t work. And that’s with just one wife. If there were seven of them, I’d have a full blown mutiny on my hands.

So now we’re getting to the core of this whole lifestyle. It’s got nothing to do with the guy. There are millions of men who would happily have a harem as long as they were treated as the absolute unquestionable authority on everything. But there are damn few women who would have any interest in being in that harem. It was a challenge for me to find even one bride. I can’t imagine having to find seven. Or maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe it’s easier to be one of seven than it is to be the one. In any case, the whole plan only works if the women are willing to be subservient. To be treated like property. It’s not the kind of relationship I would ever want long term but I wouldn’t mind trying it for a weekend. But my point is that the wives, not the polygamist, are the key to the lifestyle. And the clock is ticking. One night the guy is gonna come home and find the ladies have changed the lock on the dormitory.

Frank Something (I forget)

  • We had known for years that Frank was an a**hole. We didn’t say anything at first, except to each other when he wasn’t there. And then when he was there. And eventually right to his face. He forced us to. Up until then we’d always given Frank the benefit of the doubt. Like maybe it was an accident when he backed into your brand new car or that he misunderstood the ramifications when he reported you to the income tax people or that he meant well when he said things like ‘Man, your wife has really packed on the beef.’ I remember the day I told Frank he was an a**hole. He laughed. He was oblivious, which is the key to being an a**hole. A**holes don’t notice feedback. They have no antennae. They will just all of a sudden blurt out how much they enjoy picking their nose or will take off their pants at a funeral. They’re completely unaware of any negative reaction from others but are focused instead on their own point of view. They find themselves witty and charming. They’ll often burst into gales of laughter after passing wind in court. In ancient times a**holes were shunned or executed. Unless they were king. That was rough on everybody. The people of Rome would whisper ‘Rexis supra anus’ which meant ‘The King is an a**hole.’ Today people just identify a**holes at work or in the family or on television, and avoid them at all costs. But that’s all about to change thanks to a recent medical breakthrough. Researchers have discovered that being an a**hole is not a conscious choice but in fact a behavioural anomaly. These people have a genetic mutation that prevents them from having acceptable social interaction with other human beings or animals or plants or any physical object. The condition has now been identified as a disease called AH (asocial hallucination) and is being lauded by a**holes all over the world. Spokesman and lead researcher Dr. Byron Wheelding, former a**hole and current AH sufferer, points out the difference between being an a**hole and having AH. ‘An a**hole ignores the rules of proper social conduct while an AH patient is unaware of those rules and genetically incapable of learning them.’ This has been a game changer. People all over the world are now hanging their heads in shame saying ‘We didn’t realize he had AH. We just thought he was an a**hole.’ It was Frank who brought all of this to our attention and some guys felt they needed to apologize to him. They regretted having called him an a**hole all these years when, in fact, he was a victim of AH. He invited us all to kiss his a** which apparently is another medical condition. Frank’s actual words were ‘Hey guys, I’m not an a**hole. My doctor diagnosed me with AH.’ I said ‘Great. Come back when you’re cured.’ So apparently it’s contagious.

Modern Cars

  • Somebody is trying to wreck the automobile industry. Step One is to outlaw the internal combustion engine. They say it uses fossil fuel and creates a lot of pollution but the truth is, it’s just too manly for them. They don’t like explosions and with a V8 engine you get at least 4,000 of ‘em a minute. That’s why they roar. Most people put mufflers on so they can hear themselves think. Some guys take the mufflers off because they don’t wanna hear what they think. Sissies don’t like any of that. They want us all to drive electric cars. Electric cars don’t roar, they hum. They don’t use any fuel at all. Unless you count the coal-powered generating stations that recharge them. And they don’t pollute. Unless you count throwing dead lithium batteries into a landfill. Yeah okay electric cars are quiet but let’s look at the downside – electric cars are quiet. You can’t hear them coming. Nobody with functioning ears ever accidentally stepped out in front of a diesel truck. But a car that sounds like a blender doesn’t scare anybody. Then there’s the range factor. They tell me they have electric cars now that can go 250 miles before they need a recharge. Well what if I just hurt myself and I live 251 miles from the hospital? And there must be some conditions on that 250 mile range. Everything runs on electricity so I’m guessing all the accessories need to be turned off – the radio, the A/C, the wipers, the rear window defroster, the heated seats, the power windows, the headlights… Turn all those babies on and you can barely make it out of your own driveway. And electric cars make lousy emergency vehicles. Whenever there’s a hurricane or a tornado, the first thing that goes out is the power. How can you evacuate in your Tesla when the power has been off for three days? Hopefully you kept your riding mower as a back-up. But the biggest problem with electric cars is that they assume people are smart. They’re not. And any of us with relatives can prove it. We’re not gonna remember to plug the car in. We’re not gonna remember where the local charging stations are. We’re not gonna remember that it gets dark. We’re not gonna remember about a construction detour that takes us out of our driving range. We’re not gonna remember that we’re driving an electric car. We’re too stupid to drive electric cars. Some of us are too stupid to drive gasoline cars but at least when we run out of gas, we can hitchhike with a gas can and be back on our way. With an electric car, when you’re out of juice, you’re screwed. I suppose you could try jamming your big toe into the cigarette lighter receptacle while you rub cats on your sweater but that’ll just give you a bad smelling car and a letter from PETA. So all you scientists out there, you need to find a better solution – a cleaner burning fuel or higher efficiency engines or something. Even fuel rationing is a better idea than electric cars. And if the day ever comes when they force me to drive an electric car, I’ll tow a generator.
  • And now they’re working on cars that drive themselves. Why? I don’t wanna stop driving. Driving’s fun. Who asked them to take that over? How about something that takes out the garbage or picks up at after the dog? Get my lawnmower to drive itself. Leave my car alone. Who thought we needed cars that we don’t have to drive? We already have those. They’re called railroad cars. You just sit there. Not a care in the world until all of a sudden you’re upside down in a ravine. And they say they’re gonna start with 18 wheelers. Yeah that’s a good idea. What could be safer than an 18 wheeler with 30 tons of payload booting down the highway with no driver. They say it’ll put a lot of truckers out of a job. Don’t worry about it, they’ll hire ‘em back to drive all the ambulances they’re gonna need. Next thing you know the government’s going to send a guy around to sleep with your wife. They say it’ll cut down on accidents.