On the trail again

Nothing dramatic today. Just your basic 6-mile jaunt with some mild climbs and some ornery geese (it’s that time of year), and a few bugs in the teeth. Mmm, protein. Water is still high at some spots along the Bike and Hike trail near the Cuyahoga River, particularly near the (former) Munroe Falls dam. These photos were shot on the old Coolpix L1. Not exactly state of the art, but adequate for daylight snapshots.

The water can rise another 8 feet before there's real trouble. The old dam would have been visible from this spot. It was knocked out in 2005, and the underpass seems to flood more since then. I believe the type of dam was a "flood control" dam, designed to prevent flooding of nearby low-lying areas. But knocking out the dam improved the water quality dramatically, preventing the stagnating pool that used to be upriver from the dam. Now the river runs clear and it's better oxygenated. Fish are returning to the river. I caught a nice bass downstream from this spot about a year after the dam went away, in a sandy-bottomed spot that used to be mud. I'd say it's worth the price of some minor flooding from time to time.

Here’s the reward for getting on the bike and working up a sweat (that, and hopefully shedding a few pounds of unwanted fat!).

Thinking these are cherry blossoms.

This bike set me back all of $75, nearly a decade ago. Kind of a funny story. I’ll continue after photo…

This bike has had a "good life," as the Wheel and Wrench guy said.

So I took this bike, the one pictured above, in for a tuneup a couple of years ago because the brakes were kinda worn out and the gears needed a little adjustment and I just didn’t have the time or patience to try to fix it, so I spent some money at the bike shop. When I went to pick it up, the guy politely suggested that when I want to grow up and get serious about a real bike, to come back and look at their bikes.

He said, and it came across as kind of condescending, that same way a wine snob tries to be polite as he sneers at a merlot or (God forbid) a mutt rose, “It’s had a good life.”

Did he mean I’ve taken good care of it, sheltered and fed it as best I knew how, or did he mean I’m a slovenly fat-ass who needs to get on the bike about 10 times more often than I was then, which was about 10 times more than I do now?

This bike, as I mentioned earlier, is a $75 Walmart special. It was a serious upgrade from the previous bike, something my wife scavenged at some yard sale from a guy who cannibalized various crap bikes and re-assembled them into Frankenstein-like creations that more or less functioned on two wheels. Mostly less.

Well, a decade ago (0r slightly longer, I’m thinking 1999), a small band of my siblings and in-laws decided to make a bike ride from my sister Yvonne’s (her then-boyfriend’s) house in Cleveland to our house in Cuyahoga Falls. They would ride, stay at our house for a cookout and libations, and then ride back the next day. I was not participating in this particular ride at the time.

That first ride nearly didn’t happen because the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was flooded. Eric’s tire blew out. Luckily, my brother John, being a savvy veteran of many long-distance bike rides, happened to have a playing card and some other tricks of the trade to keep Eric (now my brother-in-law) on the road long enough to get to a bike shop situated strategically along the Towpath in Peninsula, a charming little village that is also home to a railroad depot, some art shops and the Winking Lizard. The Lizard became our midpoint lunch spot on subsequent rides.

They did finally make it to my house. Much celebration was had, and a tradition was born. It was dubbed The Floodwater 40 (the trip is about 40 miles). T-shirts were made. It was awesome.

It became an annual Memorial Day weekend event for nearly a decade, and each year was an adventure.

After a couple of years of needling about my lack of actually riding in the Floodwater 40, I attempted to meet the trio at a halfway point, only to get a flat on a very hilly stretch of Bath Road (the view was lovely as I walked my bike to the bottom of the hill). Luckily, I had recently acquired a cell phone and called DeAnne to rescue me. My sibs doubted that I had actually attempted to meet them. This was, I believe, in 2002.

In 2003 (again, relying on memory), John came to pick me up. I had taken the old beater bike out for a test ride the day before, put air in the tires, etc. and determined it to be (just barely) sea worthy.

Well.

When John. came to pick me up,  we found a flat tire. He took one look at my pathetic old heap of a bike and burst into laughter. We loaded it onto the bike rack anyway.

The next morning, the three of them took me for a ride. Heh, heh, heh. To Walmart, ostensibly to get a new tire for that tired, tired old bike. Then one of ’em or maybe all three suggested, “Hey, look at this bike!”

No argument from me. Probably the best $75 I ever spent. And just think, I fed some family in China for a week!

The old bike was recorded for posterity before it was unceremoniously dumped on Eric and Yvonne’s front lawn. Or was it the garage? Eh, doesn’t matter.

The Floodwater 40 was put on hold for a couple of years while Yvonne and Eric were overseas, but we’re bringing it back! Sort of. We’re still working out the details.

Anyway, that’s the story of my bike. I bet yours has a story too. Care to share?

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Royal pains

The results are in!

A whopping 27 of you (um, counting seven votes of my own) participated in this worldwide survey among the Who’s Who of media savvy royal watchers and shared their plans for watching the royal wedding between William, prince of Wales, and Kate Middleton, a commoner of common origins.

The most popular response to our All-Encompassing Survey was “other.” The breakdown is as follows:

Question

What are your plans for the Royal Wedding?

Answer Votes
Other (see below)
 7  27%
Whah? Who’s getting married?
 6  23%
Kate has a restraining order against me, or I’d be there.
 4  15%
Will be up in my jammies watching.
 3  12%
Dude, that’s what videorecorders are for.
 3  12%
Hosting Royal Wedding Party.
 2  8%
Have my invitation, booked first-class flight.
 1  4%

The responses found under “Other” include:

OMG I DO NOT CARE ABOUT IT.

who gives a flying f–k?

my preference involves rusty spoons and anal surgery

no and hell no

I’d rather run a red-hot poker into my eye and then use it to cauterize my wound

We had a revolution precisely so we wouldn’t have to watch this sort of thing

I. Just. Don’t. Care.

Well. I guess that settles that. For those of you in the “Whah? Who’s getting married?” camp, here’s a photo of the happy couple before the paparazzi, parasites and hangers-on wear them down.

Here's hoping Kate has a happier-ever-after ending than Diana.


Tip-toe through the tulips

This is nothing spectacular – just a splash of color after a long, long winter in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. While high winds knocked out power and knocked down trees in the area and Mother Nature unleashed death and mayhem in the South, my tulips and cherry tree (and dandelions) were doing their April thing. Now that it’s nearly May. Been that kind of winter/spring.

So without further ado:

No, we're not in Holland. But the bulbs may have been there.

About as good as the house is gonna look. Hey, somebody get the mail already!

Well, it ain't Myrtle Beach, but it's myrtle.

The (weeping) cherry blossoms are a couple of weeks behind Washington's schedule.

Well the grass is rizz, as the old saw goes. But if it don’t stop raining for a day, damn yard’s gonna drown! These pix were shot between spasms of rain and wind. On the bright side, it’s not snowing or sleeting. We must count our blessings, no matter how minuscule they are. Thank you, Lord, for not making me shovel 2 feet of snow today.

Tulips bend but they don't break. Unless you break them.

Confessions of a media whore

I have a confession to make. Actually, it’s not much of a secret, so I don’t know if the term “confession” applies. Anyway.

I am a media creature – 18-plus years as a newspaper editor and writer, and five-plus years as a web media critter, with some overlap of both. I write, I edit, I shoot photos, I shoot a little video. I am of the media. I am “the media” as pundits who are about to criticize “the media” (and too often use the term incorrectly in singular form — media is [are] plural for “medium.”) – where was I? Oh, yes – like to refer to the media as if they are some sort of monolithic being that never behaves independently of other “media.”

Except that sometimes they’re right.

I saw tweet today from Tony Hawk (yeah, the skater dude):

tonyhawk Tony Hawk
“According to news outlets, our priorities are a wedding in England & a birth in Hawaii. Glad there are no other major issues.”

Bam! In 140 characters or less, he summed up exactly what is wrong with the modern  24/7 in-your-face infotainment news cycle.

I’m guilty of sometimes feeding the media monster, but most of the time I try to stick to real news and things that matter. But I do get sucked in and feel compelled to comment on some of the stupidity that passes for “news.”

Every bozo with a contrarian point of view (even if it’s utter bullshit) gets his or her day in the spotlight, which annoys me to no end. Trotting out these news “sources” gives them more credibility than they deserve. It’s mystifying, in a way, that all you have to say is “As Seen on TV” and a sack of sludge has instant credibility. Which explains a lot.

I wonder why news outlets keep sticking cameras and microphones in front of Donald Trump to give him a platform to spew his blowhard garbage as if it’s actually newsworthy. He’s been caught repeatedly in lies on the air, and was even called on it by CNN (who earns half-credit for that). Yet they keep sticking a camera and microphone in front of him. Enough! He’s been discredited, the whole “birther” inanity has been resoundingly discredited. The blowhards and wingnuts have had their say.  MOVE ON! There’s a royal wedding to cover.

Speaking of which, be sure to participate in my Royal Wedding Survey. I shall say no more about that. (Far bigger media monkeys than I have that one covered in excess already.)

In other news

A large pine tree fell into some power lines on Revere Road in Fairlawn, Ohio, in a windstorm Thursday morning. The road was reopened Thursday afternoon. Yes, I shot this photo. Alert the Pulitzer committee!

There was a rather blustery storm blowing through NE Ohio today. Being the editor on duty at Patch.com, I did the dutiful thing and reported on the event. I called the local police and the power company, FirstEnergy. Spokesman Mark Durbin has done this a thousand times (at least), so he’s got the drill down pat. Got some info, hacked out a simple, straightforward report on the known facts: Trees down, power out in places, some roads blocked.

I went out and shot some photos. There wasn’t much activity at the time I was there, or I’d have shot some video. I posted the photos and posted some social media stuff to promote the story and the Patch site. I followed up a few hours later to see what progress had been made in cleanup. All in a day’s work. I was among several Patch editors thanked for responding to the storm in each of our particular Patch locales. Even editors need a little love now and then.

But that story is really a sidebar to the bigger story in the South, where at least  248 people perished in storms and huge tornadoes. Alabama really got hammered. Our power outages and uprooted trees pale in comparison. The reporting of that news is serious and real. And it’s heartbreaking, especially for the friends and family of those victims and the hundreds more whose lives have been devastated.

Then I ran across this piece that makes me   1) laugh out loud and 2) shake my head in shame.

The anchors were laughing at him. One even said (on air), “I don’t mean to laugh at him.”  Yeah, you do. I laughed. Several of my media brethren giddily passed the video link along like a naughty note at school. Tee-hee!

And so I mock the media clowns and buffoons, knowing that I am not that far removed from them. Which gives me pause. It’s funny and sad at the same time.

I am a crying clown.

I am a media whore.

But at least I have my integrity. Right?

Planning to watch the royal wedding?

This is probably the most-hyped wedding since Chuck and Di some 30 years ago, so Wills and Kate seem like the right ones to be the center of attention, if you’re prone to hyperbole and spending inordinate amounts of time and money following the royal family of England.

So we’re conducting an entirely unscientific poll to ask if you’re following the royal wedding. DVR alert: Most major news outlets will start airing coverage at 4 a.m. Friday (April 29).

Join in the fun:

Fake AP Stylebook reports that about 176,938 reporters are covering the Royal Wedding, or three for every person actually interested in the story. Our reports find it’s closer to one for every two actually interested.

On the trail of … the Easter Bunny?

The day was too nice to spend just mucking around in the yard. Yes, some sort of adventure, even a mild-mannered one, was in order. So off to the bike trail I went, with decrepit old Coolpix L1 coming along for the ride. Attentive weather-watchers in NE Ohio know we’ve had our share of wet and cold in this reluctant spring. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find parts of the Bike & Hike Trail under water, and some portions closed. The part below was only about 4 inches deep, enough to get you wet if you ride through too quickly. On a warmer day I might have gone faster.

The river runs over it. The Bike & Hike Trail, that is.

This remote-control boat was working out of a submerged sandbox.

Check this gas tank for reserves ...

Not paying attention to the calendar sometimes means running across little surprises, such as the Easter Egg hunt at Water Works Park in Cuyahoga Falls. The nice weather meant a big turnout and lines for the pony rides and portable petting zoo were looooooong. Cute photo op, for sure.

Please, no pushing and shoving.

One of the star attractions of Easter Egg Hunt and dog and pony show at Water Works Park on Saturday.

Kids meet the kid.

A little moo.

These daffy-dills are a little worse for the wear – but it's nice to see a little color other than white, gray or brown.