It Happened on the Way to War

September 25th, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

Amazon had this book on one of it’s daily deal sales and the blending of war and philanthropy sounded interesting.

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It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcot shares the story of the author growing up. He gains from mother a desire to help others through philanthropy at a young age. He gains the desire to help others through the military from his father. Rye joins the marines while in college and balances both with starting his own non-profit organization. Since we’re all this dedicated and motivated at 18 the book can come across as preachy at times. Speaking of preachy it is obvious that Rye would make one hell of a preacher, the undertones are present through the entire book. It isn’t a complaint, instead more of a warning. This is a book about Rye’s life and experiences and can give some good perspective towards your own. Rye often struggles with juggling all the different parts of his life and finding a healthy balance between them. Showing how difficult it can be and how much work it can require is typically missing from an autobiography. Rye has no problem showing you his flaws.

Ground Zero

September 24th, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

Amazon recommended this book to me. I didn’t think much as I read the description. But then I looked at the cover of Ground Zero: A Zombie Apocalypse by Nicholas Ryan and quote caught my eye:

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Hey! That D.J. Molles guy is the one that wrote that book I love. If he likes this guys book then I will give him my monies to read it to. D.J. was right. This is a great book! Unlike The Remaining series this features an average joe. A guy that you can easily relate to. Someone that has zero skills for the zombiepocalypse just like you. All of the characters and situations you would expect are here in the book but Nicholas does a great job of bringing the characters to life and makes you invest in them and their future. He leaves the world open at the end of the book which I felt was odd at the time when I read this because I thought it was a standalone book. As I’m sitting down to write this though there are two more books, the third gets released tomorrow! Some of these Amazon authors are really stepping up their games and I am all for giving them my money! If you enjoy the genre you will enjoy Nicholas’ work.

9/11 – A Present

September 12th, 2014 by gooseneck 2 comments »

Yesterday would have been my grandfather’s 94th birthday. It’s weird to think about that, let alone write it out. I miss him a great deal.  While everyone else was thinking and talking about the 2001 tragedy I was thinking of him. It may be selfish of me but that’s life. I decided to give my grandfather a birthday present I know he would have loved:

 

Here I am donating blood at the Red Cross.

Here I am donating blood at the Red Cross.

 

My grandfather donated 35 gallons of blood to the Red Cross. Why is it such a big deal for me to donate? Truth be told I am deathly afraid of that thing the nurses have so kindly covered up in the photo above. That thing that makes me squeamish to even watch in a movie. Every time. The most horrible thing that has ever existed. A needle. I avoid them at all costs. Even writing about them nauseates.

I’ll also let you in on a second secret: I tend to go down like a giant, bald sack of potatoes whenever any blood is drawn from me. Even the small vials the doctor’s offices take for testing will knock me down for a ridiculous amount of time. No idea why, but this has been going on since my teenage years. Needless to say after about one minute of drawing blood last night I stammered out the words “I feel dizzy and not good.” The nurse agreed that I did not look well. It then took three staff members the entire twenty minute allotment to get my entire pint out. It then took me close to two hours to get back on my feet. They tried their best to reassure me that this is normal for noobie blood givers. Won’t they be in for a surprise when I reprise my role next time?

Eight of those visits to equal a gallon. It really puts in to perspective my grandfather’s commitment. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to match his effort, but I think I can promise to honor his birthday each year going forward.

Meta

August 24th, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

Amazon seems to be hell bent on having me read every single teen sci-fi book out there. Meta by Tom Reynolds. Alien bands give humans extraordinary powers, and our teen protagonist gets the best bands of the lot, giving him a number of powers. This is surprisingly some of the best writing that I’ve come across. Superheros have been done to nausea so there’s no surprises with powers or situations. The faux batman is spot on and brilliant and works wonderful with the authors dry humor. Definitely worth picking up for a quick day read.

47 Ronin

August 24th, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

I read 47 Ronin by John Allyn as the smash hit movie about Tom Cruise running through Japan a white guy in Japan was about to hit theaters. The story of 47 Ronin has many variations that have arisen over the years so I figured the movie would be nothing like the book.

I did end up watching the movie as well, and found it to be a wonderful pop corn action flick, but I did enjoy the book better. The version this book covers seems to be a more realistic and historical version. It focused strongly on honor and morals, things very important to the samurai. I found it fascinating how much importance the ronin placed upon the honor of their master. Sacrificing everything to restore it. Japanese literature has pumped out thousands of revenge stories, they seem to do it well and it feels like the story of 47 ronin is the originator. This one is definitely worth picking up and reading.

Sufficiently Advanced Technology

August 23rd, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

I read Sufficiently Advanced Technology by Christopher Nuttall in February this year. I found this book on Amazon’s daily deals and picked it up since it has an interesting premise. A technologically advanced space faring human empire comes across a world without technology, instead having magic. The writing is vivid and the characters are adequately fleshed out. The more the author focused in on this one planet and a handful of characters I longed to hear more about the rest of the galaxy and of its politics and cultures. The idea of an artificial intelligence being able to live in a flesh and blood body held interest with me but was quickly lost as the action picked up towards the end of the book. It was a good read that I finished within a couple of weeks.

Rainbows End

February 27th, 2014 by gooseneck No comments »

In January and February I read Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. It was recommended to me by a friend out on the east coast. He’s a guy that loves to get all the new gadgets and loves to talk geek with you. He also rides bikes so he’s a balanced member of society.

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We were on the phone one day and mentioned I had been reading a bit of science fiction. He immediately jumped and recommended this book. The book is all about the future of technology, wearable computing, digitization and how people now interact with technology. Wrapped up in a thick noir the book takes a while to start explaining the technology and characters before moving the plot forward with any real effort. Once the plot starts to develop the pace of the book picks up quickly and becomes really hard to put the book down.

Nail Biting

June 26th, 2012 by gooseneck No comments »

Nail biting is probably the first habit I ever picked up and definitely the first bad habit I picked up. I was very young, probably in elementary school. I have no actual memories of a time before I bit my nails. I’ve wanted to quit for years. I hate how my nails look. People always say its a major turn off with the ladies and that’s never good. If the ladies don’t like it, most guys probably don’t either and that will lead to some bad first impressions. Clearly it’s easy to find many reasons for why it’s bad, and I could never find a reason to put in the good column.

I tried many times to quit, but no matter what I did I just couldn’t break it. I had tried putting nasty stuff on my nails so I wouldn’t stop due to the taste. There were always two problems with these route. One I would just adapt, wash it off, and get use to the taste. The second problem was this didn’t allow me to mentally say I was going to break the habit. Without the mental conviction it was impossible to do.

A little more than two months ago my girlfriend said I should try to quit again. Surprise! She thought it was a nasty habit. So I poked around on the internet and found someone suggesting to quit nail by nail. Quit biting one nail. Once you’ve quit that one nail, you quit biting a new one, and so on. That just might work I said to myself. Something I never said about covering my nails.

I made it a whole week without biting the one nail. Wonderful! I added a second. I had to go out and buy nail clippers. Clipping your nails is totally different than biting. This was a skill I had zero experience with and had to start and learn the hard way. Thirty one year old men don’t ask for help after all. Two whole weeks without biting two nails. This was progress. I added a third.

After the third week I counted down my hand in triumph. Three whole nails! Wait a minute, there’s a fourth! A fifth! A sixth and seventh! Holy crap! Something happened that third week, my stress levels had dropped through the floor. A major weight had been taken off my shoulders and this clearly had a positive impacting with my habit. From this realization I came to find I had two reasons why I bit my nails: stress and boredom.

Since that point I’ve stopping biting my nails. Sure I have a lapse here and there and chew one off. Mostly because I’ve yet to build a habit of clipping them and they’re growing too long. I don’t have a clipper near by and find myself not being able to wait till I get to some clippers and bite it off instead. Hopefully this can be easily remedied by putting a nail clipper on my key chain I take everywhere with me. That way if I notice a nail getting to long I can clip it before I bite it.

I’m really happy with myself. This has been such a hard habit for me to break, something that has been with me most of my life and I’ve been able to do it! Hopefully I can keep with it.

Pelotonia 11

August 25th, 2011 by gooseneck No comments »

I cried four times this year at Pelotonia.

The first came Friday night at the opening ceremony. The video was beginning to play. I was excited since I knew I was going to be in the video and was looking forward to seeing myself on the big screen. How exciting! There I was with my friends and teammates looking up in to the camera all serious. They made us look that way. Our natural banter produces much more genuine smiles than what the they were able to get out of us with the camera rolling. The whole team cheered when we came on the screen! And then…well you need to take the three minutes to watch the video. It explains exactly why I’ve become so passionate about this.

The second came Saturday morning. We were riding out of Columbus in a huge crowd. Five thousand strong to be exact. Police officers, volunteers, and people lining the street kept thanking me. Thanking me for what? I’m just out riding my bike on a beautiful morning. No. I’m showing that together we are stronger. Together we can move forward. Together we can work to end cancer. I was pulling my friends out of Columbus. Many of my team mates were nervous about reaching their goals for the day. I was nervous about letting everyone down. What if I’m not strong enough? I cried. I can’t fail today. There is too much at stake, too many people counting on me.

The third time came in Athens. I was in my hotel room. I was suppose to be showering so I could go out to dinner with the team. Instead I was on the floor with my head in my knees. I was so happy for my team mates. They had worked so hard to reach for their goals and had performed flawlessly. I watched my team mates push all year with their training and how much it paid off for them. I watched my team mates struggle with their doubt all year, only to replace it with success at the perfect time. How could I not cry tears of joy for them? It was a good night.

The fourth time came Sunday morning. Approximately mile 44. About halfway up the climb from the Logan rest stop I started having a very painful sensation in my quad. It felt like it was tearing in half. I figured it would go away once I reached the top and could recover. It didn’t. Even with a soft spin it was there. I kept going. This has to go away right? It wouldn’t. I started going slower and slower. The team was long gone. Dustin stuck with me giving encouragement through each climb. But he noticed I kept getting slower. He noticed my posture. He noticed the sound in my voice. That only made it worse. At some point we passed an older man taking a break on the side of the road. I was so focused on trying to will the pain away I didn’t notice he had latched on to us. At about mile 39 Dustin went ahead to let the rest of the team know what had happened. It was just me and the old man now. He would say something every now and then, trying to help me push through. I didn’t hear what he said and I don’t think I responded. I finally heard him the last time. “Are you sure you can make it on those legs?” To hell with you! I’m stronger than you know. These legs will do whatever I decide! “They’ll get me to the rest stop” I said. I kicked up at that point and gave everything I could. I saw I got my speed back up to 14 miles an hour. But the pain only grew. I’m not sure if he was still there with me or not. Tunnel vision is an understatement. I was crying. As I pulled up to the unofficial rest stop I saw Dustin and the rest of the team standing about. The tears got worse. I kicked my pedals as hard as I could in frustration. My ride was done. Head between my knees again sobbing. “I want to finish so bad” I told Dustin. He said he understood but told me it takes a stronger man to stop with an injury. He’s wrong. The stronger man is John from the video. The stronger man is the child that fights Leukemia. I am weak. I should be stronger, strong enough to prevent this injury, strong enough to finish.

I got a ride back to the finish line. Everyone there said I did enough, said I did great, said I went farther than last year. They’re wrong. I failed. I felt terrible. The team is taking a photo after they cross the finish line. They tell me to get in the picture. I don’t deserve this. The photo eats at me, it is going to haunt me for a long, long time. I get home. I’m tired. More from the mental boxing match I’ve had with myself over the past few hours than from the ride. I shower and unpack. Sit down at my computer. The first website I pull up is BikeCrave, not normally the first website I pull up. I’ll be honest I haven’t been there in some time. The post “Fail Better” is the first thing that comes up on the site.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” - Samuel Beckett

I read this quote, the first line of the post. My head gets rocked back from the sheer force of the quote. I read the next three paragraphs and stop, going back to the quote. This is what is important. I force myself to read the rest of the post. It’s just in the background though, my mind focused on this quote. This is all that is important. I’m no longer upset at not finishing. I tried. I failed. No matter. I’ll try again. I’ll fail again. I’ll fail better.

I look forward to failing better in Pelotonia 12.

Pelotonia – A gooseneck Opus

September 4th, 2010 by gooseneck No comments »

Pelotonia has come and gone.  After my tailbone injury slowing my training I had to cut the 180 mile ride back to 102.  Even this length would be 40 miles longer than any ride I had completed.  The lack of training for ten weeks showed me how much can be lost during that time as I was no longer able to keep up with my teammates on our training rides.  I was often finding myself blown trying desperately to keep up.  Confidence had been shattered.  Women wept.  Children were forced to work in factories making miniature statues of small children that were forced to work in factories.  There I was at the top of a hill without hope, when Squirrel said the most inspiring thing.  “Body massage.

I kept going.  After all I was doing things I had never been able to do before, and I stuck with the training that I had to do that Squirrel set out for me.  The 20 mile rides quickly turned in to 40 mile rides.  Then two 60 mile rides finished my training.  I was as ready as I could be.

I got to Pelotonia early Friday afternoon and seeing how many people were flowing in I quickly jumped in to the registration line.   After meeting numerous volunteers who were more than happy to misspell my last name I had a fancy looking box and stickers with my name.  Off to find my teammates for a picture.  Not that way.  Or that way.  The other, other way.  After the photographer was able to make me look like a more virile Justin Beiber we grabbed some dinner and relaxed before the concert.  The Counting Crows!  After hearing them play an incredible cover of Mr. Jones I went home to get a good night sleep before the ride.

Team Speranza at Pelotonia 10.

Saturday morning.  My first thought was to feed the pirate.  My second thought was America!  Fuck Yeah!  My third thought was to find a rest room.  After sharing the pirate’s liter box I prepared a healthy pre-ride breakfast.  Bacon and hookers.  I followed breakfast by donning my lycra battle armor and went to pick up Squirrel.  He asked me to keep a look out for his black cat.  In the dark.  At balls-early o’clock.

After parking we quickly found the rest of the team.  Shortly afterward some lady started shining a bright light in our faces.  I would of punched her, but I had this feeling like I was being video tapped…..When they were ready to start us all off they started us off.  Holy crap!  There are four thousand people on a bike in a small space trying to walk their bikes in to each other.  Pretty sure that could be a sport in itself.  Or at least an adventure on the next episode of America’s Top Model.

I was amazed by how many people were out to cheer us on for the entire route.  Incredible!  So many signs of well wishing and inspirational quotes.  There was one missing that I’d suggest they put out next year.  “I ride so I never have to climb Starner again.”  I expect Tom to get on that.  Volunteers everywhere being extremely helpful.  Officers of the law everywhere to keep us safe.  Fortunately none of them recognized me in my lycra battle armor.

Lots of pedaling.  I found success in trying to pedal with my right leg half of the time, and my left leg the other half.  As I was rolling in to Amanda for lunch I had fallen behind the team from the wind but started realizing how well I was getting over the hills there.  Hills that normally did me in.  I was feeling good even as that one guy on a bicycle tried to run in to me at the Amanda finish line.  What did he think this was?  Rollerball?  Amateur.

After a delicious lunch I downed my special blend of cocaine, speed, and crank.  The pros would be proud.  Shortly after lunch I successfully walked Starner hill.  All the nice folks that live on that hill came out to watch us crazy people walk bikes up their road.  Very touching.  Going down the other side was where I could let my special physical abilities shine.

Around the 70 mile mark my legs were starting to get tired.  The rain was making it slick, and I had a real hard time seeing through the drops on my glasses.  I remember climbing to the top of a hill and telling Squirrel my quads were blown.  And then I kept pedaling till the finish line.  The farther I went the better I felt.

We crossed the finish line as a team.  What an incredible feeling!  I choked up a bit.  Honest!  And that’s an incredible amount of emotion coming from me, the guy who thought Ghost was a comedy.  I completed my first century ride!  People tell me I looked tired.  Shocking.  I felt much better than I looked.  Eight months ago my longest ride was 18 miles, and two of those months were spent riding an ice pack on the couch.

Personal health goals aside it was such an honor to ride to help fight cancer for my family, for my friends, and for my teammates.  Not to mention everyone else who has been impacted by cancer.  I was able to raise $1,500 and helped my team raise over $30,000.  Inspiring!  Now we have the chance to do even more next year.  To push farther.  To have more fun.  To raise more money.  To fight harder.  To fuel hope.

I can’t wait.

Take care and funk on.