The Death Of The Phoenix

You might call this catastrophic frame failure, I call it total heartbreak.

I noticed an odd cadence-like ticking on yesterday’s downtown ride with Susan and thought it might be time for a new bottom bracket, but after rolling through the rain to work this morning (in a record 50 minutes, by the way) little did I realize the danger until the last quarter mile when the angle of the pedals’ rotation changed dramatically. I rode slowly the rest of the way to the office and once there I found this compound fracture where the seat tube and the down tube converge upon the bottom bracket.

As such my blessed and beloved friend of some two-years and almost 5,000 miles had traveled her last — but had somehow heroically managed to stay together enough not to send me to injury or worse upon the roadway.

To say I am in mourning is about as understated as it gets, and remembering our beginning just makes it all the more painful.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Vick’s Rub

I just watched Michael Vick’s public apology, and while I’m not in a very forgiving mood towards the former Falcons quarterback and self-professed dog fighter and killer, I do have to give him begrudged credit for owning up to his culpability instead of shamelessly hiding behind a legal team that maintains his innocence and exploits the judicial process — which would have been his right to do so had he wished.

Sure, the case against him was essentially a slamdunk what with the two associates who flipped and pleaded guilty and implicated him, but that doesn’t stop most defendants from letting a judge and jury decide their fate.

As to his press conference today,  Vick used the word “immature” to describe his behavior and actions that have destroyed his career and left him looking at a year or more in prison. He also mentioned finding and accepting Jesus and asking for the lord’s forgiveness and guidance. But while looking to heaven, to me what was most telling was what he didn’t do to make amends here on earth.

What could have been a huge step toward getting me to forgive him is if he had used this opportunity not only to vehemently denounce dogfighting (he did, but by only briefly saying he “renounced” the criminal and heinous activity), but also if he had proposed the creation of a trust funded by him that would be used to establish and maintain a no-kill shelter not only to give fighting dogs an opportunity at retirement instead of cruel and inhumane torture and death, but also to care for abandoned animals in general and provide an opportunity for them to live out their lives in peace and health.

That would’ve been huge.

An Extra Special Place In Hell

In the obituary section of today’s L.A. Times can be found news of the death of one 86-year-old Heinz Barth. An SS Officer in World War II, Barth was tried and convicted in 39 years after his participation in the “Das Reich” armored division’s massacre of 642 men, women and children in the French village of Oradour-Sur-Glane on June 10, 1944.

Barth didn’t deny his role in the obliteration but defended himself by arguing that he was just following orders, which he testified were to “burn the whole place down and eliminate every person, from babies to old men” on their way toward Normandy to battle D-Day invasion forces that had landed on June 6.

From the article, which describes what is “widely considered to be the worst atrocity in Nazi-occupied France”:

“Men were herded into barns and shot. The women and 202 children were locked in the church, which was set on fire with grenades and then shot at with machine guns.”

Barth was promoted to lieutenant Colonel a few months after the massacre and after the war reportedly assumed a phony name and identity and lived in communist East Germany where he worked as a decorator and ran a grocery store until his base and wicked past finally caught up with him in 1981, a past that East German judges found included his volunteering to participate in the execution of 92 Czechoslovakian civilians in 1942.

For his crimes against humanity he was sentenced in 1983 to spend the rest of his life in prison, but having lost a leg in the war and suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure Barth was freed on grounds of poor health by a state court after serving 14 years.

“I feel guilty about the terrible crimes in Oradour,” he’s quoted as saying at the time of his 1997 release, “but I have paid enough.”

Sorry Heinz, but I’m thinking you’ve only just begun to pay.

Wiki: Oradour-Sur-Glane

Illegal Forward Ass

My 2-8 Raiders fulfilled my wishes a few weeks ago in not going through this season without a win — something that despite my never-say-die love for them I was regretably certain had been a distinct possibility. Today they were matched up against the 8-2 AFC West Division-leading San Diego and I had hardly any hope that it would be anything but a lopsided win for the Chargers.

Much to my pleasant surprise, the Raiders, behind a stingy and tight defense, and a strangely fluid and rejuvenated offense made it a great game and led 14-7 going into the fourth quarter. Then, as always seems to happen: they was robbed!!

On a fourth down pass play deep in Raider territority the San Diego receiver caught the ball for a first down before falling to the ground. Then rising to his feet he purposefully spun the ball out of his hands in celebration at the reception. But incredibly, he had not been touched by and of the Raider defenders, which meant the play was still live and he had just unintentionally and idiotically fumbled the ball away. An alert Raider nearby fell on the pigskin and initially the officials ruled it an Oakland recovery.

Then the robbery commenced. The officials gathered and after some discussion ruled that the receiver hadn’t fumbled, but instead had committed an “illegal forward pass,” which is but a five-yard penalty. After some more conferring there was something figured out about whether the point of the infraction minus the five-yards would still give San Diego enough for a first down (if it didn’t the Raiders would recieve the ball over on downs), but even minus the fiver the Chargers still had enough for the first and then went on to score a touchdown and tie it up 14-14.

I recorded the replay off the TV with my digital cam in Quicktime and uploaded it here on YouTube if you want to share my pain or relive the indignity or both. I also tried to embed it here on this page of my site but I’m not sure if I was successful or not.

I walked away from the TV and was spared the frustration of seeing the Chargers capitalize on another bad call that awarded them a turnover and allowed them to score another touchdown. Of course they went on to win. Dammit.

UPDATE (12/01): I am just now in receipt of a notice from the fine folks at YouTube sent via email alerting me that the video clip has been removed because I infringed upon the NFL’s copyright, which is a terrorist act and thus I am to be deported to Guantanamo immediately.

Can We Get A Do-Over?

Like most of our Saturdays we had things to do. Susan wanted to go to the bank and to Trader Joes and perhaps get her car washed. I wanted to get the grill’s propane tank refilled and maybe go for a bike ride and finish my freelance assignment.

First up on the agenda: taking Ranger in to the vet’s for her inaugural visit/shots. I even bagged up a fecal sample for them to examine. Here’s a snap of Susan with Ranger in happier times, the moment the doc walked into the exam room:


After a cursory exam and a decision to leave Ranger for a flea bath we  hit Trader Joes on the way home. But upon arrival back at the hosue we were greeted with this blocking our driveway, the latest in a long and seemingly never-ending parade of parking ‘tards:


The primary distinction the jackass owner of this vehicle holds over aaaaall the others is that this was by far the Most Amount Of Vehicle Blocking The Driveway. Ever. And as a result of that dubious achievement I didn’t just have the Cadi cited, I had it flat-out towed. Parking enforcement showed up within 10 minutes, a tow truck shortly after that and in no time the yellow bastard was hooked up and on its way to and OPG impound. Good riddance.

A short while later on the way back to pick up Ranger we hit the bank for Susan, then the U-Haul to get the propane tank refilled, and then to the vet’s where the shit hit the fan. I won’t bother to recount it here since I ‘splain it all over here on

Suffice it to say it isn’t pretty, and Susan and I — and Ranger — are still in something of states of shock (although Ranger, who got the worst of things, seems to be the quickest recovered from it).

Look Over There… Where?

I ended up spending so much time today posting one helluva rambler over at in the wake of the January 31 murder down the street — the fifth shooting death in the neighborhood in some 16 months — that I don’t have any steam left to craft any crap here. And rather than crosspost all that text and those images I’m just a-gonna linke to it here.

Wild Wild West*

*Cross-posted from

It’s not every day here in Southern California you get to bag a wild lion from behind a 9mm pistol in the comfort of your own backyard, but that’s what an Orange County resident did yesterday morning when he confronted a mountain lion that had ventured from the adjacent Cleveland National Forest onto his Rancho Santa Margarita property.

Quoted in today’s L.A. Times article the trigger-happy former cop’s logic is impeccable:

Hill said he retrieved a 9-millimeter pistol from his car and entered his backyard through a side gate. He saw the cougar hunch down on a slope 30 feet away, with a 5-foot-high iron fence and a swimming pool between them. He feared the animal was going to attack, and he fired two shots.

“I thought I could be in trouble with the lion that close to me, especially when he went from standing up to hunching down,” he said.

So let me get this straight… after putting himself in potential harm by advancing toward the mountain lion and then seeing the big cat hunker down (not out of potential anxiety over its unfamiliar surroundings but because it obviously wanted to eat Hill) with not one but two barriers between them, the terrified Mr. Hill took it upon himself not only to break what I’m guessing is an ordinance against the discharge of a firearm within city or county limits but also a law against the destruction a protected species.

Slight digression: Uh, I know he’s identified as a former police officer and I guess he’s allowed to be strapped despite his current lack of law enforcement authority, but what the hell is he doing keeping a weapon in his car?

Of course, with the animal now wounded thanks to Hill’s fine marksmanship and therefore a far greater risk to the populace, law enforcement and wildlife officials had no choice to finish the creature off after it was located dying about a quarter mile away some 90 minutes later.

The article makes absolutely no mention of whether Hill was cited for breaking laws, but being that it’s the OC’s outback, my bet is he’ll be hailed as a hero.

Me? I’ll only be hailing his actions as despicable given my love and respect of cougars, which can be found in my blog post of last year following the discover in January 2005 of a pair that had been poisoned in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains.