Category Archives: Annoyances

Don’t call him a cyclist

Conway Twitty released a great song in the late ’70s or early ’80s called “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy.” The lyrics stated, in part:

Don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.
That Stetson hat and them fancy boots don’t tell you what’s inside,
And if he ain’t good in the saddle, then you won’t be satisfied,
So don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.

I thought of this song this evening after taking Songdog for a training run on the river trail.

At least a half-dozen times, I watched people in spandex outfits and color-coordinated helmets send Song into a blind panic by flying past him on their bikes at top speed with no warning whatsoever.

These so-called cyclists were obviously trying to project an image. They had their fancy racing bikes and their fancy helmets and their fancy outfits, and they were trying their best to look like serious athletes … but it was painfully obvious that they hadn’t spent enough time on the trail to learn even the most basic concepts of etiquette and safety.

If they had, they would have known that three little words — “on your left” — will do wonders to protect a pair of joggers (one on two legs, one on four) from potential injury and certain annoyance.

Three little words would give me time to put just a wee bit more tension on the leash and say my dog’s name in a firm tone to calm his lingering fear of having wheeled objects speed past him at close proximity (a fear that has been with him since the day almost three years ago when a car hit him and sent him rolling into my neighbor’s yard).

Three little words would help me keep Song at heel where he belongs.

Instead, the staunch refusal to utter those three little words sent my sweet collie mix slamming into me in raw terror, tripping me and sometimes knocking me off the trail, every single time anybody on a bicycle passed us from behind.

Here’s a clue: You can put on your fancy “serious cyclist” costume and ride up and down the busiest half-mile of Tulsa’s 20-some-odd-mile-long trail system at top speed to show off your high-end racing bike all you want, but if you’re not going to follow that trail’s universally accepted safety procedures, you might as well have baseball cards clothespinned to your spokes, because it’s obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have to share the trail with you that you are nothing more than a silly poser in a silly outfit.

I’m sorry, but I’m not calling you a cyclist. I’ve seen you ride.


Latest project

So our insurance company has decided that our house is uninsurable because we don’t have any handrails on our deck, and they’ve given us two weeks to remedy this alleged problem.

Given the fact that our deck is less than 18 inches off the ground, this strikes me as the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, but we weren’t given any other options.

I decided if I was going to have to mess with this project, I might as well do it right, so we took Gretchen over to 84 Lumber this afternoon and picked up $145 worth of pressure-treated lumber.

Instead of stupid-looking, totally non-functional handrails that are there for no reason except to appease some paranoiac bean-counter deep in the bowels of some insurance company headquarters, I designed a bench to run the length of the east side of the deck and a potting table to run the length of the west end of the deck.

I figure when Jamie gets big enough to take a road trip to Tulsa with his mommy and daddy, this potting area will double nicely as a sand-and-water table — especially if I install a waterproof lining, with a flange and tailpiece at one end — and if I ever host a party here, I can hose it out and either use it as a buffet table or fill it with ice and chill sodas in it.

All of this, of course, hinges on my ability to demonstrate competence with a carpentry project … but since the design for both table and bench is based around the same premise as the desk and shelf I built in my office, I think we’ll be OK.

I’ll post pictures as soon as we get it done.


You’ve got stupidity!

When I was in seventh grade, Mrs. Chiaventone’s second-hour honors English class met in a classroom that had big windows looking out onto the playground where the children in the adjacent elementary school played.

Second hour coincided with the elementary students’ morning recess. The school was not air-conditioned, so we had to keep the windows open during warm weather.
This combination of factors provided an endless source of entertainment (read: disruptions) for our class.

On one particularly memorable morning, a little boy stood right outside our window, loudly upbraiding a playmate: “You’ve got stupidity! Stupidity! YOU’VE GOT STUPIDITY!”

I have no idea what his companion had done to earn this diagnosis, but it became a running joke in our class. Every time someone forgot his homework, or missed a question on a test, or gave a lame oral report, or we were confronted with a situation that we just weren’t sure how to address, one or the other of us would announce: “YOU’VE GOT STUPIDITY!”

This would, of course, bring down the house. Especially when Chris Redfearn did it. I don’t know why it was funnier when Chris said it. It just was.

I mention this tonight because I can hear that little boy’s voice shouting in my thought.

I am supposed to be laying out a newsletter for a local nonprofit group. Someone asked me if I could throw something together on the fly. In the past two weeks, I have designed a 76-page magazine for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, which I followed up with a 12-page newsletter yesterday, and in between, two deadlines have come and gone at work, meaning I have laid out something like 18 pages at the office. Frankly, I’ve spent about as much quality time with inDesign as I care to. But I promised I would have this other newsletter done by Monday.

It’s not a big deal. It’s based on a very simple template. It’s only six pages. I have all the items I need, along with a list of everything I am supposed to have and where it’s all supposed to go. I am not responsible for writing, shooting, or editing anything. All I have to do is Photoshop some pictures into black and white, slap the stories and photos on the pages, and send a PDF to the editor. The whole thing probably won’t take an hour and a half. I’m just not in the mood to do it … and haven’t been all weekend.

So what am I doing tonight?

I’m looking up pictures of ’50s bombshell dresses to wear to the Will Rogers Banquet in June. I’m exchanging e-mails with a buddy of mine in California. I’m approving blog comments. I’m going back and rereading old blog entries from eight months ago. I’m thinking about changing my gerbil’s litter, because something in here smells weird, and I’m pretty sure it’s her. (Note how I am not actually changing her litter, which would represent a productive use of my time … just thinking about it.) And now I am blogging about something that happened during the Reagan administration.

In short, I am procrastinating in grand fashion. And I have been procrastinating for at least three times as long as it would have taken to simply lay out the newsletter.

You know why?

Because I’ve got STUPIDITY.


Interesting times

There’s a clever Chinese curse that says: “May you live in interesting times.”

Some days are more interesting than others.

A few thoughts that get me through particularly interesting days:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely….
Christ Jesus

The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love.
–Mary Baker Eddy

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
— The Grateful Dead

Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.
— Christ Jesus

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
— Christ Jesus

At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.
— Mary Baker Eddy

All you need is Love.
— The Beatles

With much love,


Concert etiquette

We went to see a fabulous concert Thursday evening at the Mabee Center: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price, with Asleep at the Wheel as the backing band. Lots of Western swing, and everybody sounded great. And Asleep at the Wheel did a great cover of “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” which of course Ron and I enjoyed immensely. What a fun way to spend the evening.

That said, I have a couple of complaints/suggestions to improve the concert experience at the Mabee Center:

1. Note to the ushers: Seat latecomers between — not during — songs. The constant parade of people chattering back and forth with the ushers, climbing over us, and walking in front of us for the first hour of the show was very disruptive, very unprofessional, and completely avoidable. At the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, you have two choices: Show up on time, or wait until a break in the show (which sometimes doesn’t occur until intermission!) to be seated. I like this policy a lot.

2. Note to the guy who spent half of Ray Price’s set talking on his cell phone in a voice you could have heard in Kellyville: SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE. If I wanted to listen to people talk on the phone, I’d go to the office.

This is the second time I’ve been to an arena concert that was marred by obnoxious behavior from ill-mannered people. But it’s the first time I’ve watched ushers tolerate — and sometimes even participate in — the disruptions.

We watched security guards pick up a guy and literally carry him out of a Neil Diamond concert in Dallas a couple of years ago because he couldn’t shut up. (Can you imagine copping to that later? I mean, I can see getting a little carried away at, say, a Black Sabbath concert, or maybe AC/DC, or perhaps even Ted Nugent … but Neil Diamond?) The ushers didn’t even ask people to quiet down at this show.

Good manners would appear to be a dying art when people can’t behave themselves at a Ray Price concert in an alcohol-free venue on a Christian college campus. Sad.

Mercifully, Cell Phone Guy finally hung up, and all the seats in our row finally filled, and by the time Merle Haggard got two or three songs into his set, things quieted down so we could enjoy the rest of the show. But I would strongly encourage ORU to give the Mabee Center ushers some more training. It’s a nice venue. It would be a pity to let ill-mannered concertgoers ruin it.