Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Moment Can Be Over Before You Know It

While walking around downtown with the camera during lunch my peripheral registered someone hustling out into the middle of the intersection. He stopped and picked something up. Then he ran towards me. Now he had my attention. When I turned to look at him he stopped and picked up a wet and grungy $20 bill off the road about five feet away from me. We both looked at the roadway around us. No other stray cash was to be seen. He pocketed his new found riches and went on his way. And I made yet another mental note to have the camera cocked and ready at all times.

Strange leavings on a bench.

Very effective this time of year.

This sign intentionally left blank.

 Not sure how to caption this.

 Looking at the bright side.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Climbing The Walls

Some spider monkey action on the part of the boys today.

Bowlin', Bowlin', Bowlin'

Keep those balls a rollin', rawhide! The best part of having the kids at home is doing fun stuff together. We went bowling yesterday. To make it more fun we mixed it up. One game right handed, one game left handed, one game alternating left and right each frame, and one game alternating right and left each frame. Amazingly, we are so bad that we actually did pretty good.

 Josh loads up,,,

...and releases.

 Are you taking a picture?

 Don't take a picture of me.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snow Shoe Trip

The family went up to Mount Spokane to do some hiking today. We had a light dusting of snow during the trek.

Check out my buffness! 

Fam shot. 

 Wabbit twacks!

Happy children. 

Mom and daughter. 

Father and sons.

Free popsicle.

I don't think that's what snow shoes are for.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Guns As The Answer

The Spokesman review editorial board has called for more talks about arming resource officers in the Spokane public schools.

But as we have learned with sickening repetitiveness, schools are easy targets for the demented, or for those with sinister agendas. We seldom know who those individuals might be before they strike.

Yes, that is true. Public schools are an easy target. But so are Planned Parenthood clinics. And movie theaters. And churches. And colleges. And neighborhoods. And military bases. And work places. And Planned Parenthood clinics. And movie theaters. And churches. And colleges. And neighborhoods. And military bases. And work places.

But I repeat myself.

And so does America.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Kathy and I walked around downtown before going out to dinner. I had my camera with me and managed to get a couple of halfway decent shots.

 Winter Glow Spectacular in Riverfront Park.

The Steam Plant.

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

One of the ladies at work stopped by my office to wish me a happy birthday and she informed me that December 18 is also National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

This was the sweater she was wearing.

These treats were in the stocking on the back. I had to retrieve them myself. "You realize," I said as I was digging them out, "This is a sweater that could get me into trouble."

Pissing Off Cyclists

The Spokesman Review published a column today by contributor Sue Lani Madsen in which she solves the problem of hard-to-see bike riders and what she refers to as a relatively high casualty rate for cyclists with what she thinks is a simple solution.

Spokane has a strong history of bicycle commuting and can lead the way in doing it safely. There doesn’t need to be a law. There needs to be more common sense. Be a trendsetter. Wear bicycle green. 

That got my dander up.

Set aside the complaints she and her neighbor regularly exchange and her informal survey of Spokane drivers as indicators of possible bias and note that she is assuming that dark clothing is a primary contributor to cyclist deaths.

Although she repeats stats from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center she neglects that the center also states:

"...there is no reliable source of exposure data as we don't know how many miles bicyclists travel each year, and we don't know how long it takes them to cover those miles (and thus how long they are exposed to motor vehicle traffic). Risk based on exposure varies by time of day (with night time being more risky), experience level of rider, location of riding, alcohol use, and many other factors. Until we have better exposure measures, we just don't know how bicyclist risk compares to other modes, but the health benefits of riding may offset some of this risk." 

Reading past the first sentence takes so much effort.

In my comments I suggested that Sue should see for herself what it's like.

I ride with the expectation that drivers don't see me because almost every time that is the case. And they don't see me not because of the clothing I'm wearing or my bright frickin' lights, but because they aren't looking for bikes. I recommend you try commuting for three or four months and gain some experience from a cyclist's perspective. Wear bright clothing and use good lights and then come back and tell us all about how invisible you felt. 

I'm not hopeful. It would make things awkward with the neighbor with whom she regularly exchanges complaints.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

First Snow

The deal I have with my wife is that I can ride in the winter if the roads are clear. When I looked out the window this morning, I saw a snow-covered lawn and a wet roadway with no snow accumulation.

Yay, the roads are clear!

Riding into town on Hwy 2 was pretty much like that but everything changed once I got off the highway and onto the Colton-Standard-Addison streets bike route. Since it wasn't frozen or slick and the studded tires were handling the road surface quite easily, I kept on riding instead of throwing the bike on the bus. I glided through two to three inches of snow all the way to downtown and it was awesome.

Someone else this way rode.

I cleaned off as much as I could. A chain cleaning will be necessary tonight.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Poisoned Minds

Much of the story about Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who killed 14 people and injured 22 at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California revolved around how and when they became radicalized. As the investigation progressed and information was released we learned the couple had planned on doing something like this for almost three years now.

And if there's anything America should be concerned with it's people becoming radicalized. Because once those people think they are truly in the right, fighting for a just cause, and ready to die for that cause, they present an ever growing danger.

We've seen so much of this behavior implicitly encouraged, especially this year. Demonizing people by calling them rapists. The release of a heavily edited video purporting to show that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts. Lying about what can objectively be seen in a video recording even if it has been heavily edited. Lying about Syrian refugees seeking safety from who we now refer to as our greatest threat. Calling to block all Muslims from entering the country.

Whether intended or desired, the encouragement has had its effect. Donald Trump, doubling down on racist rhetoric, is the leading candidate for the Republican party, which believe it or not, is an issue it is now very concerned about. (The Christian Republicans might want to check Hosea 8:7 for a little enlightenment as to how this happened.) Cowardly acts such as mailing white powder to a Muslim center are taking place. But that's really nothing new. And a self-proclaimed warrior for babies attacks a Planned Parenthood office and kills three people.

Yet the danger from radicalization is not just a physical one. The lack of reason and the demonization of an entire people, a race, and even just an individual person has been changing our country's entire landscape. One would think it was a long-settled fact that Barack Obama was born in America and is not a Muslim. And yet even now there is a significant number of people who think Obama is a Kenyan and/or a Muslim. A friend of mine is not fond of President Obama. He's unable to articulate why without using talking points repeated over and over on Fox News. Recently, and for the first time in my presence, he referred to Obama as "That nigger."

I cannot fathom anyone resorting to such language unless their mind has been poisoned. The volume of their voices gives the appearance that poisoned minds are prevailing. We can't shut them up but we can and should repudiate them.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Driving While Under The Influence

In today's Spokesman Review we have a report of Police Officer Seth Killian running a red light while driving his patrol car. He was not using his emergency lights at the time. And he runs into a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old.

And the 16-year-old is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana and processed accordingly.

According to the news article:

The outcome of that [crash] investigation will determine what, if any, disciplinary action is taken against Killian, Fuller said.

I'm reminded of Officer Gordon Ennis who struck and killed an intoxicated pedestrian at a crosswalk on Monroe Street 4-1/2 years ago. He was distracted while typing a message on his onboard computer while he was driving. The intoxicated--and deceased--pedestrian was found to be more at fault than the police officer. I have similar expectations for this case.

Not that it's related to this incident, but Police Sergeant Gordon Ennis--apparently, killing an intoxicated pedestrian did not harm his promotion potential--is the officer recently charged with 2nd degree rape of a female officer. I suppose the Spokane Police Department has to draw the line somewhere.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Bike Ride

I was worried this wasn't going to happen but then two days ago John announced it was on. Unfortunately, John injured his ankle so he couldn't ride. Glen filled in as ride leader. Only three of us showed up: Glen, Joe and me. That made it easy to keep track of everybody.

The trails varied between snow covered, compact snow covered, exposed dirt, exposed rocks, branch covered snow, branch covered dirt, etc. It was a good hard ride. Before I knew it, 3-1/2 hours passed by and we were back at The Scoop and headed to John's house to hang out a bit.

Joe is laid back. Glen looks pensive. 
I'm smiling like I just got away with something.

Glen brought a saw to help clear the trail. But not enough saw for this tree.

 Glen's fat bike tracks.

 Joe in the groove.

More trail clearing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Liberty Lake Cyclocross

Yeah, this is over a week late. I blame the power outage. And my laziness for not using a bike-powered generator to run the computer.

 Argyle, baby!

As usual, the Liberty Lake course deceives you by looking level when it's actually going up hill. But you are less deceived with each lap. The killer run up was rideable for the strongest racers. So not so much for me. The beach was a blast. I kept my weight back and my hands light on the handlebars and cut through the sand really well. Then we touched on the water and started coming back through the sand. And you could tell it was a climb. But it was fun. I managed a couple of soft crashes in both slick mud and loose dirt. But I stayed upright in the gravel turns. One fellow was not so fortunate and broke his collarbone.

Last hand up and a coast to the finish line.

I donated a bunch of $1 bills for the kids to pick up on the run up. They should get something for pushing bikes that weight almost as much as them up a hill.

The Bike Hub was on hand with beer hand ups and I grabbed one every lap on both races I did. Hydration is very important.

I can still see where I'm going.
All photos by Phyllis Benish.

Liberty Lake Cyclocross from hank greer on Vimeo.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Final Cyclocross Race Of The Season

Sunday was the final day of cyclocross racing in the Inland Northwest Cyclocross Series. And with the power out and what with the weather being so cold, I thought I'd go out with a bang and sign up for as many races as I could. I was thinking I could sign up for single speed at 9:00, mountain bike at 10:00, Men's Cat 4 at 11:00, Men's Masters 60+ at noon, and finally the Men's Cat 3 at 3:00. But when I signed up I was told that since I was Cat 4 I could not race Cat 3. You have to upgrade first. Well, not doing that fifth race turned out to be a good thing.

I did one lap to recon the route and stopped by The Bike Hub tent which was next to the barriers. They're always good for a beer hand up so I asked if they would be offering. They said they would be if I was asking. I told them to put my name on a cup because I was doing four races in a row and stopping here on each. After all, bikes are for doing epic shit, right? They turned out to be my loudest and most energetic cheerleaders during the day.

The route itself was typical for Riverside State Park. The run up was long. There were a couple of new features with some whoop-de-doo stuff and one with an interesting off camber turn through a ditch. Outside of two long straightaways it was mostly a technical course, which I enjoy the most.

The college men raced with us single speeders and they had a one minute head start. I reeled in a couple of them during the 40 minutes of racing even with the beer stop for each lap. And I did stop. I'd dismount, jump over both barriers, come to a complete stop next to The Bike Hub tent and drink my beer. Then I'd thank them and get back on the bike. On the last lap, one of the college guys pushed hard to catch me. Well, that just wouldn't do, you know. So I chugged the last beer and apologized for not sticking around long since I wasn't about to let some college kid catch me. And he didn't.

After the race I downed half of a Gatorade and then got my mountain bike out. The mountain bike was much more comfortable on the frozen ground. But I found the giant handlebars kept me from hugging the turns as tight as I normally can with a cross bike. The dual suspension made up for it--except when it came time for going over barriers. Picking that bike up was awkward. Fortunately, I was not concerned with speed. More beer with each lap. Happy times.

Right after the MTB race, it was time for the men's Cat 4/5. I knew this was going to be a faster race and there would be more participants. So I announced at the start that everyone should pass on my right at the barriers because I was stopping on the left side for a beer hand up on each lap. The race went smooth and I didn't get lapped, which meant I got three five-lap races completed. And more beer.

Still happy during race #3.

I drank more Gatorade and got ready for the men's masters 40+, 50+, and 60+. Since I'll be 60 at the end of the calendar year in which the current cyclocross season ends (2016), I qualify for the 60+ category. There were four of us. But there were plenty in the 40+ and 50+ groups. So I repeated my pass-me-on-the-right-at-the-beer-hand-up announcement. The other races were 40 minutes long. This is 50. The 40+ started followed by the 50+ a minute later followed by us geriatrics 30 seconds after that. I was pretty beat but still able to ride well. And I knew I was going to get lapped by the 40+ leader, which would trim one lap off my race. That was not going to hurt my feelings. So I pressed forward and three laps into it the 40+ leader blasts by me. Yay! One less lap. And to top it off, not only was I getting beer hand ups at the barriers but also at the run up. I was feeling pretty done on my fourth lap so I lingered at the barriers, sipped my beer, and chatted for a bit before continuing. It proved to be just the amount of time needed for the 40+ leader to catch me about 10 feet away from the finish. He double lapped me and I was thankfully done. Nineteen laps and just as many times on the run up was more than enough. It was a good day.

I changed clothes, thanked the Bike Hub guys again, and headed for the run up for the juniors race. I sprinkled the run up with dollar bills on each of their laps. Those little kids work so hard to get their bike up the hill and being able to stuff a buck or two into a pocket helps take their mind off the hurt. A couple of them were so focused that they blocked us out when we would point out the money to them. That's cool to see a nine-year-old that can already deal with the pain of a run up. And no beer! Those are some tough kids.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Things You See On A Bike Ride

First rule of Junk Church - Nobody talks about their junk.

Everybody stands. There is no kneeling at Junk Church.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Subterfuge Software

In my line of work I often have to remove crap software from computers. Most of the people don't know how it got there, primarily because they're not paying attention when they're updating something or adding something. Java updates are a good example. You always get a screen informing you that a toolbar is going to be installed, but it's not that obvious. You have to uncheck a box and click Next. Most people just keep clicking Next to get the process over with and software manufacturers have been taking advantage of this behavior for many years now.

Here's a different example. I was trying to install CutePDF when I was presented with a screen that was going to change my browser search options. I unchecked the boxes and and clicked Next and got this screen.

I clicked Ok and clicked Next again. And I got the same message to select checkboxes or click Next without selecting the checkboxes. I clicked OK and clicked Next. And got the same damn screen a third time. By now most less-than-savvy users would select a checkbox and click Next just to get past this. But I persevered and this came up next.

Again, most people would numbly click Accept thinking they're clicking Next and then wonder why they have some weather thing loaded up all the time.

Of course, removing local admin privileges nips all this in the bud.

Saved By The Vending Machine

Every once in a while I'll treat myself to a Dr Pepper while I'm at work. Yesterday I saw that something was amiss with the vending machine.

One bottle was leaning forward and another was partially released. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just select a different row."

Which I did. The retrieval mechanism moved to the row I selected but the bottle was not pushed forward like it was supposed to be. Instead it leaned forward. The machine paused. I was about to try to rock it when the retrieval mechanism moved up and down, knocking the bottle out. It fell to the bottom of the machine. Fortunately, the machine had been programmed to recognize that a bottle had not been properly dispensed and it refunded my money.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Final Wild West Series Race - CdA

The weather worked out perfect for me over the weekend. Saturday was nice so I could get yard work done. Sunday was a rainy mess for cyclocross racing. I was in the first and last race and got both bikes equally muddy. Unfortunately, my second race--on the single speed--was cut short. With two laps to go I flatted the rear tire. I don't have a spare so I DNF'd. But it was okay because I got plenty of time in. I didn't take many photos because I focused on making a video this week.

This was the last of the Wild West CX Series. The Inland NW Cyclocross Series has two more weekends of racing. I can't believe the season is almost over already.

Wild West Cyclocross - Coeur d'Alene from hank greer on Vimeo.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sometimes I Just Can't Help Myself

I have a dog. His name is Hoof Hearted*. He's an okay dog. He'll drool on you but he's well behaved most of the time. But everybody loves him and there's really no earthly explanation for how popular he is. I mean, every time people come to the house they want to know Hoof Hearted.

* Name borrowed from the race horse.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Hobby

I've been curious about picking locks for many years but I've just never done anything about it. Until now. It's frustrating so it requires patience. It's exciting to have the lock pop open suddenly. I hope to be able to break into my own house some day.