Monthly Archives: February 2006


Beer Brewing 

It seems like in these e-mails I whine a lot and this one’s no exception. Ever since I swam a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had a spot on my skin where my leg meets the rest of me (no, not there…in front) that has been irritated. I blamed it on the chlorine, but now I know it’s more than that.

Down here it’s humid and on our bike rides we sweat a lot. Well, I sweat…Jean “glows”. Anyway, my bike shorts have seen better days and the only other pair I brought are worse, so I hang them on a rack to dry and wear them again on the next bike ride. I wash clothes once a week and figured that was enough but have noticed a distinct odor when I walk by the rack and now all my work-out clothes have taken on a “life of their own”. Now I think the spot on my leg isn’t a rash from contact dermatitis but a fungal infection from those blankety-blank bike shorts.

It’s easy enough to treat, but when I went to Walgreen’s to find something, all the tubes of cream had, in big bold letters CURES JOCK ITCH. I was so embarrassed to take it up to the counter, I might as well have been buying Preparation H or Depends or an 18 year old buying his first condom from a clerk who plays bridge with his mother.

Jean flew back up to Michigan on Wednesday to go to Mary Youngs’ funeral. The week before she left, her phone, which was on its last legs, bit the dust. We went to the Alltel booth at Wal-Mart to get new phones and, after an hour, we had two new ones to learn how to use. We got them home and spent time transferring our address books to the new phones and learning what all the buttons did.

Jean had her land line turned off for the winter so she’s stuck calling me with the new phone. When I talked to her Wednesday evening, I told her I would be going over to Bob Stack’s house at 2 the next day for a cocktail get together so some of the park people could meet Duane O’Conner, the newest Hastings person to move into Club Wildwood. So she called me at 2:30 and wondered why I wasn’t here and would I please call her back.

Somehow, after we got the phones home, she set hers on vibrate (I’m not going to ask why…that’s her business). I called her when I got home and she didn’t answer, so I assumed she was at spinning. When she got home she called me and I was gone again, so she told me she would be home all evening and please call her back. I called back three times and didn’t get an answer. She finally called back at around 10 and wondered why I hadn’t called. I told her I did, but apparently she couldn’t see the phone vibrate from across the room.

She didn’t know how to change it to ring, so I told her I would call her back on the land line, have my phone in hand and tell her which buttons to push. I did call her back and walked her through how to make the change. She said she would hang up, make the change, and call me back. She did, and then asked me to call her back to see if it would ring. I did and the call seemed to go through but no one was there. All of a sudden I heard “Oh crap” and the call went dead. I called her back again. Apparently the phone rang but it wasn’t as loud as she wanted, so instead of saying hello like you would expect, she was fooling around with the volume control and accidentally pushed the button to disconnect the call. Sound like Jean?

I need to have Jean come back and keep an eye on me. I’ve told you that I’ve been trying to lose some weight and have been going about it by trying to eat healthy and lower the calorie intake so I could lose a pound or two a week. Even with the holidays, going out to dinner at least twice a week, Jean’s birthday, Valentines Day, etc., I’ve done pretty well. From the time I came down in early November to early January after the holidays I had lost 9 pounds. I haven’t weighed myself lately but I know I’ve lost some more since then.

However, Friday night was a disaster. I had done well throughout the day, ate salmon and asparagus for dinner, but when I looked at the calorie intake, I was short of where I should be by about 400 calories. I didn’t have much else to eat so I thought I would have some saltine crackers with peanut butter. Somehow I lost consciousness when the universe went through a time warp and when I “came to” there was an empty sleeve of saltine crackers and half the jar of peanut butter was gone. From the inside I felt like a drunk who passed out in an alley off skid row in Chicago with three bottles of Muscatel scattered on the ground nearby.

The attached picture is the latest batch of “Irish Red” going through its final stages of fermentation. If people knew that’s what beer looks like while it’s being made, they probably wouldn’t drink it. I’ve heard it said that if you saw what went on in a restaurant kitchen, you wouldn’t eat out any more, but knowing that the FDA allows a certain number of rodent hairs in a box of cereal, I wouldn’t want to eat at home either. Sometimes not knowing is better than hearing the truth.

Just (Happy To Be Me And Not FEMA’s Michael Brown) Jack

It Continues

 This road down a criminal path gets me into new territory. I’ve seen a lot more bad drivers since my fall from grace. I know that animals seek “their own kind”, so maybe that’s why I seem to be surrounded by the vehicularly (is that a word?) challenged. But the animals do that for mating purposes. You don’t think I’m being stalked do you?

Thursday Jean and I were going to the Y to lift weights. Jean saw me relaxing in the chair after I had run a 4 mile tempo run and decided we should do something. Even though this is off-season from triathlon training, apparently rest isn’t allowed. Anyway, on the way there the traffic was moderate and all 3 lanes going North were full of cars going about 50 or 55. A young guy apparently wanted to go faster so, when we got to one of those merge lanes coming out of a business, he passed the cars in the far right lane by darting into the merge lane and then back onto 19.

On the way back, we were going down County Line Road. There were quite a few cars, but the speed limit was 50 and I was going…you guessed it…50. A young guy passed me on a double yellow line and went between us and an oncoming car. He passed several cars ahead of us and the last we saw him he was passing another car on a double yellow line and an oncoming car had to veer toward the shoulder to keep from hitting him head on.

Our friends, Ernie and Barb Strong called and asked us if we would like to go to dinner at St. Sebastiaans that evening for the “grouper special”. They picked us up at 6 and, when we left our place, Ernie blew right through the stop sign three doors down from the mobe. Oh well…I chose to break the law and now I’m dragging my buddies down with me.

The weather has been good the last few days and Saturday was about as perfect as you can get. Sunny with a few passing clouds, low to mid 70s and a light wind from the SSW. We wanted to go for a long bike ride at San Antonio, but they were racing on the same roads we wanted to ride, so we went to Anderson Snow and did the North route. Our longest bike has been around 37 or 38 miles. We both wanted to kick it up a notch. Since I’m just getting over a cold that went down into my chest, I wanted to go around 50 and Jean wanted to go around 60. Dr. Phil says that marriage is a compromise, so we compromised at 58.66 miles.

I don’t have good endurance…never have…never will. My legs got a little tired but my butt was really sore. That rarely happens to me. I started squirming on the seat at around 40 miles, got very uncomfortable at 50 miles, and I was in agony the last 3 or 4 miles. Maybe I’m getting “geezer butt” and that’s just the way it’s going to be.

We were planning to go to Dade City (about 5 miles past San Antonio) and watch some of the road races today, but Jean got a bad blister running and we got some bad news from Hastings, so we probably won’t go. Besides, the Pro 1 and 2 race starts at noon. Here it is 11:55 and Jean still hasn’t taken her shower after the run, so we’d get there just in time to see them finish.

My second batch of beer is percolating in the closet wrapped in my YMCA t-shirt to keep the light out. Later in the week I’ll test the specific gravity and bottle it when it’s ready. When we get back to Michigan we may have to have a combination “Run Around Crooked Lake” and beer tasting at the same time. However, believe it or not, after I run the 8.6 miles around the lake, one of the last things I want is a beer.

‘Til next time,

Just (My Butt’s Sore But I Still Love To Ride) Jack

P.S. Sorry to hear about Mary Youngs. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve and the boys.

I Ran A Red Light

 I’ve joined the raft of lousy drivers here in Florida. Yesterday Jean and I had planned on driving out to San Antonio and riding a 40 mile bike loop. Friday night the weather reports said that a front would be coming through mid day Saturday. They said there would be a SSW wind at 20-30 mph before the front passed, then a NNW wind at 15-20 mph after it went by with a 60% chance of rain.

We decided to do the ride anyway and drove over early enough so we could get out on the ride by 10. We left at around 9:15 and were on our way out SR-52 going toward I-75. A fifth wheel trailer had pulled off to the side of the road, and got back on the road about 300 yds ahead of us. We followed it for the next 14 or 15 miles.

When we got to Bellamy Brothers Road, there was a traffic signal. The fifth wheel was so tall that even 5 car lengths back, I couldn’t see the light. I had just said to Jean “I hope the light is green because I can’t see it”, when the trailer passed through the intersection. The light had turned yellow and the trailer decided to go on through without slowing down at all. By the time he was halfway through, the light was red and there was no way I could stop. So I broke the law. There wasn’t a police car around so I didn’t get a ticket, but I should have. I expect I’ll see myself on America’s Most Wanted in a couple of weeks.

By the way, the ride was decent. We decided to take the 40 mile route that we know (which is really only 36.72 miles) so we wouldn’t be far from the car if things got bad. Since I hadn’t been feeling well, I got tired at around 30 miles. There was one stretch of road where we were going directly into the wind and it was definitely 30 mph with higher gusts. It was all I could do to climb some of the hills with the wind in my face.

We turned West and the wind was coming from our left and slightly into us. It was all we could do to keep the bikes on the road. The road was busy and there was no shoulder so it wasn’t the greatest experience but, all in all, it was a great ride. By the time we finished it was 70 degrees but still windy. We went to the bike shop, looked around a little while and headed for Hudson. The sky turned dark and within 10 minutes the temperature had dropped to 57 and the rain started. Great timing, huh?

I still didn’t feel very good during much of this last week, so Jean went to the YMCA without me. The other day she came back and said “You would have loved the trip”. She got to the corner to turn into the Y, and there was a woman sitting there in the wrong lane waiting to pull out onto Mariner. Down here they have demand lights which will only turn green if the sensors can detect a car. Since she was in the wrong lane, the sensors didn’t see her and her light never changed to green.

Jean couldn’t turn in, so she sat through a light waiting for the woman to move. She didn’t and a young guy coming from the other way pulled in and went on the grass to get around her. Jean finally decided she had to do something so she turned and went around the woman in the wrong lane since no one was coming. Jean said she parked in the parking lot, looked back, and the woman finally turned right from the left lane. Now I’m that same class of driver, so I shouldn’t comment on how dumb she was.

We whined a little about our run this morning. It was around 40 and the wind was blowing at least 20 mph. We don’t mind the cold, but the wind made it very uncomfortable. I ran 8 and didn’t get into a coughing jag until mile 6. Not bad but it made it hard to breathe.

We didn’t have anything else to do today so we drove to Pinellas Park again to get 48 more empty beer bottles. I’m going to brew another batch of beer with the same recipe but a different malt extract. They’ll be about the same age so we can have a taste test when they mature to see which one is best. On the way down and back we saw several drivers that just about caused accidents. I got their license numbers and will contact them to join my support group in the Pasco County Chapter of Idiot Drivers. I’m sure they’ll elect me treasurer.

Ta Ta,

Just (I’m A Criminal Now) Jack

Feeling Like Crap

 Last week I flew up to Hastings for a Wednesday evening meeting 1/25 and the regular hospital board meeting 1/31. One of the things I hate about flying is the germs and one (or more likely a billion) of them got me. I always wash my hands before I get on the plane and wash my hands immediately after I get off. So where did they come from?

Tuesday I had a doctor’s appointment at 8:30 to go over some annual blood tests and I felt fine. I started feeling tired at the board meeting and, by the time I got to the airport, I knew I was in for a cold. By the time the plane took off, I was miserable. It’s in my sinuses and has gone down into my chest and I feel like crap, hence the title of this e-mail.

It couldn’t be from running last Sunday in the rain. It’s a virus and you can’t get a cold from being out in the rain. You can’t get polio from running through a mud puddle. And you don’t go blind or grow hair on the palm of your hand from “pleasuring yourself” (the old joke is “I’ll just keep going until I need glasses”). Now, granted, being cold and wet may lower your resistance but, and it’s a big but (not to be confused with a big butt), the germ has to be there.

So, being the information geek that I am, I looked to the web for advice on whether I should run today or not. Almost all of the articles say that if the cold is in your chest, don’t run. So, today I didn’t. Now I have this fear that I’ll lose so much fitness that I’ll have to start all over again at 3 miles. I don’t mean to whine, but I am. I think it’s because when you don’t feel good, you are looking for sympathy. Just be thankful I haven’t described what I’m hacking up when I get in one of my coughing jags.

I’m not sure why I always seem to be involved when the conversation deteriorates. Last Sunday was no exception. We were at Bill and Nancy Bradley’s, unwinding from the run in the rain, and Erin Bradley was talking about her ceramics class projects. Somehow the conversation turned to coffee. Out of the blue, Becky commented that in some countries they feed coffee beans to Civets, a small mammal that resembles a weasel and is related to the Mongoose. Anyway, the Civet Cats eat the ripest coffee beans, and an enzyme in their body processes the outer fruit leaving the coffee bean. The beans are then gathered (what a crappy job that must be), dried, and ground into coffee.

Of course that brought about a horde of jokes with one theme like “Pardon me waitress but this coffee tastes like s%&*!”. While searching the web to see if Becky’s story was real, I saw a quote by humor author Dave Barry that says “It’s not really coffee…it’s poopacino”. The articles say it has a strong, distinctive taste (duh!!) and some people (me, for sure) don’t like it.

Somehow that conversation turned to camels, and Larry related how some camel herders (are they herders or tenders or camel jockeys?) keep their camels from eating and drinking water for a long period of time and then feed them marijuana. When the droppings come out, they are used much the same as hashish. It’s not the traditional way of making hashish, but the camels are probably very happy to be the middle man. Of course, the jokes started again about lighting up a bowl of s%&* and getting high from it.

I’ll have to admit (just kidding, Mom) that I’ve not been an angel growing up (that’s assuming that I have grown up), but lighting up a camel turd never crossed my mind.

As soon as Jean gets back from running, we’ll head for Pinellas Park (in the heart of metropolitan St. Petersburg) to pick up some beer bottles. Hopefully they’re empty…I need around 54 to bottle the beer we brewed a couple of weeks ago and I don’t think Jean and I can drink that many, even on Super Bowl Sunday. Hopefully I won’t bottle any of these cold germs and save them for later.

Jane. Sorry to hear about your Mother. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Ta Ta,

Just (Feeling As Bad As Road Kill Looks) Jack

b/t/w/  Any admission of wrongdoing while growing up should be ignored…I’m delirious from the cold!