I love dogs. It’s just the people who hold their leashes who I often want to boil in a vat of porcupine urine. Or more accurately, it’s the people whoÂ should hold their leashes – but instead feel entitled to turn the whole world into an off-leash dog park.
If you leash your dog in public and (this is important) keep a hold of the leash throughout the duration of your time out and about, I salute you. You know how to be good to your dog. My fellow bicyclists also appreciate your consideration.
Now, the rest of you lot. The people who don’t think they need to leash their dogs. Or better yet, you put the leash on, drop it and let Fido run about. Yes, you.
You are a giant pain in the ass for bicyclists.
You see, I don’t know your dog. Your unleashed, 110-pound ball sniffer might be the sweetest dog on the planet. But -- I just don’t know that. I am unfamiliar with your dog’s personality quirks – the little things that might startle it into an episode involving barking, chasing, biting, stitches and possibly a rabies shot. When I’m on my bike, your dog becomes an X factor, a potential threat. The best way to nullify that threat is to put a leash on your pooch, and keep a solid grip on the leash. Problem solved.
Now, let’s talk about you people with the little dogs. They don’t propose much of a threat to me, aside from making me crash while trying to avoid them.
But I do not want to hurt your dog – not even if it’s a Chihuahua. You are being a bad human to your dog by letting it dart around unleashed. Your job is to protect and care for your dog. A fast-moving 200-pound dude on the trail or in the bike lane is a threat to your dog. Thing is, I’m legally allowed to be there. But I don’t know of a single city where your dog is legally allowed to roam at large. So, you’re breaking the law with your dog as the unwitting accomplice.
So, be good to your dog. Put it on a leash. We’ll all be safer for it.
From zero-g flight to the crush of a high-g turn, there’s nothing cool as experiencing variations in the usually steady force of gravity.
Years ago, I found out first-hand what it feels like to grit my teeth through a 4-g turn in a T-6 Texan. I climbed into the WWII-vintage trainer without a G-suit. Over the next hour, my stomach lurched through stalls, rolls, Cuban 8s and other air-combat maneuvers. It’s still one of the high points of my life.
But I’ve still never experienced zero-g flight.
If I had an extra $5,000 around, I could change that when Zero G Corporation and its G-Force One plane visit Phoenix on Oct. 19. The modified Boeing 727 takes people for a ride previously available mainly on the famed NASA Vomit Comet – known for helping astronauts get ready for the weightless feeling of space.
Here’s how a zero-g flight works.
You take a 90-minute flight, and the pilot puts the aircraft through a maneuver that simulates the weightlessness of space. Each period of near-weightless flight last about 30 seconds. For up to 7 minutes total, you’ll float in the cabin of G-Force One.
For me, a zero-g flight would rank right up there with my flight in the T-6 Texan, my handful of helicopter flights and my first flight on the Boeing Dreamliner (that last one will be commonplace soon enough – still, a terrific passenger experience on a commercial flight).
Here’s something else that I love: I’m not the only one who dreams of doing stuff like this. Ryan, a 15-year-old diagnosed with lymphoma, wished to take a zero-g flight. Make-A-Wish hooked him up with a flight on G-Force One. Here’s a photo of him the day of his flight.
Now, there are other companies who offer similar experiences. One is in Europe, and one other I found does the flights in a twin-turboprop airplane. Still cool … much cheaper, too. But if the point is to float around – well, you need some room, right?
Today’s post introduces you to a product that could save your life – and gives you a chance to win a combo pack of paracord bracelet items from the Cobrabraid website.
I wonder what a guy like Cody Lundin could do with a Cobrabraid paracord bracelet. I’m hardly a survival expert, but I see more than a few possibilities for the trio of products I received from Cobrabraid.
A skilled set of hands could whip these into snares, tourniquets and fishing lines. Maybe even turn the cord into fishing lines, or use it to make a spear from a branch and a good, sharp rock. I’m leaving out dozens of ideas that more innovative people (like the perpetually shoeless star of Dual Survival) could turn into a difference between life and death.
Well, that means my unskilled hands need to spend time learning how to use the Survival Pod, stock paracord bracelet (which is made in the United States from 550 cord) and Cobrabraid lanyard. Given the compact size, flexibility and low cost, I can’t see a reason not to have a Cobrabraid paracord product or two for my next trip into the backcountry.
The Survival Pod even contains a few handy bits for outdoor survival: Wrapped inside seven feet of 350-pound paracord, you’ll find: fishing gear (2 each of hooks and sinkers, bobbers, swivels and fishing line) and cooking gear (razor, tinfoil, flint and tinder). You can hang it from your pack with the included carabiner.
Now, here’s the fun part: I’ve teamed up with Cobrabraid to give you a shot at winning its own made-in-the-US paracord bracelet, plus a Survival Pod by Survival Cord. All you have to do is tell me your best story of a close call with nature – one of those times when you started to compose your own eulogy but managed to escape. You can use words, video or even photos. If your story involves a piece of survival gear saving your bacon, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition. If it doesn’t? Try anyway! Click here to send me an email with your story by Sept. 15. From there, I’ll check all the entries and pick the best of the bunch. Good luck!
The latest Hawaiian Airlines flight deals could motivate some of my fellow Phoenix residents to travel further afield. For years, Hawaiian Airlines has quietly offered travelers from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport a gateway to Asia and the South Pacific.
With just one nonstop intercontinental flight from Phoenix (the daily British Airways flight to London Heathrow), most Phoenix travelers have to get to a major intercontinental hub like Los Angeles, O’Hare or John F. Kennedy if they’re headed to a far-flung destination. But Hawaiian Airlines lets locals skip that by flying direct from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Honolulu, where they connect to a broad variety of cities in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and more. And really, who wouldn’t want to skip LAX?
I’ve called Hawaiian Airlines Sky Harbor’s best-kept secret for intercontinental travel without the stop at LAX. And it seems they’re making a better effort to spill the beans – I just got a newsletter about Hawaiian Airlines flight deals from Phoenix to Auckland and Taipei. The flights start at $1080 if you book before Aug. 26. The travel dates are limited.
Here’s the thing, though: This seems to be an unadvertised special. I got it by signing up for the Hawaiian Airlines eNewsletter. If you want to find about Hawaiian airlines flight deals, you should sign up at the Special Offers page.
I’d really like to see Phoenix travelers jump on deals like this. I’ve heard from local travel agents that the lack of intercontinental flights frustrates them (and their clients), and I’ve ranted about this more than a few times. This is a good way to show demand and encourage more airlines and routes from Sky Harbor.
When my family moved to Arizona in 1980, the Capstone Cathedral immediately caught my eye.
Well, more accurately, the awesome glowing green pyramid captivated me. I didn’t know what it was called or what went on inside of it — I was 6 years old at the time. I remember being vaguely aware that it might be a church. One of my brothers told me the church believed that, when Jesus returned to Earth, he would take a seat at the top of the pyramid (being as literal-minded as I was, I asked why the church didn’t put a seat up at the tip of the pyramid to make the savior a bit more comfortable). If you want the real scoop behind Capstone Cathedral, check out this great story on the Phoenix New Times website.
My Capstone Cathedral Curiosity
But the real point: I always wanted to go onside. I had visions of weird cultists crawling around. That was enough to keep me away. Every time I drove by, I stared at the pyramid. Especially at night.
Up Close with an Icon
One day, I drove past the Capstone Cathedral. And I didn’t have much to do. Even more importantly, I had a decent camera in my car.Â Just a Fuji superzoom, not an SLR. But I figured, why wait? I started with some outside photos.
As you can see, the Capstone Cathedral is worse for wear these days – the paint is fading and some of the green glass in the upper pyramid is fractured. It saddens me to see the neglect. I’m not a religious guy, but the boldness of the architecture fascinates me and makes me believe the ol’ pyramid deserves better.
Anyway, I got my exterior shots -- and then crept up on a door. Maybe someone was around, and would let me take a few photos inside.
Inside the Capstone Cathedral
I pushed on the first door, and it opened. I couldn’t hear anything, and I decided it was time for a little bit of urban exploration. In I went, camera ISO cranked up to adjust for the low light. The outer ring reminded me of a bad high school gym lobby.
When I pushed my way into the main arena, though -- that was truly cool. First, I noticed a fairly new sound system that was all powered up. Everything looked like it was working, as if waiting for the congregation to show up.
The light shining through the green dome was everything I expected. I definitely got that "at long last" rush that comes from finally seeing something I’ve always wanted to see. I took my photos and bolted; even though it was open, I knew someone would get bent out of shape by a camera-wielding buffoon wandering the halls unescorted.
What’s Next for the Capstone Cathedral?
I don’t know what’s happening with Capstone Cathedral now. But if I had my way, I’d love to see an enterprising soul turn it into an events and music venue. The potential is definitely there. Unfortunately, the land is just too valuable -- and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to get bulldozed in the near future.
A PR person from a major deodorant company emailed me a few weeks ago. She wanted to send me some deodorant samples of a new formula designed for athletes -- so I could review it and write all sorts of high praise about how this deodorant made my life better. I wasn’t very interested in the pitch – I mean, how do you really test a deodorant in any objective way? So I offered her an alternative: Her company could sponsor a fun post about the three most hideous odors in sports. It would actually be interesting, if a bit edgy for our staid, well-established smelly-good company (betcha AXE would’ve jumped on it).
Well, I never heard from her again. But I decided to do the post anyway. No sponsor? No problem!
Alright, onto the list!
The Hot Yoga Dutch Oven
OK, even though I like yoga a lot, I can see how you can object to classifying it as a sport. Let’s leave that alone for now. I promise you, the Hot Yoga Dutch Oven is a legitimate stench. It happens when someone (ahem) goes to a hot yoga class. He then leaves his sweat-saturated yoga towel and shorts in his car overnight. He then goes out to his car the next morning – and gets hit in the face with the decaying-school-of-mackerel smell of wet, fermenting yoga gear.
This is obviously worse in summer.
I don’t know why I ever did this more than once. That’s really all it should take to learn my lesson. I guess it’s the same neurological short circuit that has made me burn the roof of my mouth on countless slices of way-too-hot pizza over the years.
The Goalie Bag Miasma of Doom
There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t be a hockey goalie -- or allow anyone you know or love to do so: The mental anguish of letting in a goal, putting yourself in harm’s way, the absurd cost of equipment. But tops on my list is the smell.
Every piece of goalie gear is a utopia for funk that loves to stink. Now imagine putting all that gear together, throwing it into a dark bag, zipping it up and letting it sit. Oh, you think spraying that with some sort of smelly-good stuff will do anything? Ha! It laughs at your spritz of Febreeze and then ramps the stinkiness to 11 (it’s been awhile since my last This is Spinal Tap reference).
Opening that goalie bag unleashes pure disgustingness into the air. Remember when Han Solo sliced open a dead tauntaun and shoved Luke Skywalker into it to keep him from freezing? That’s about right.
The Tour de Crap
The Tour de France is pretty much the legalized month-long torture of about 200 spindly armed nutjobs with unearthly bike-handling skills. It’s bad enough as it is without a guy at the front of the pack flinging soupy feces on the trailing pack.
That’s the scenario the peloton dealt with in the 1986 Tour de France. Greg Lemond picked up a nice case of dysentery and clawed to the front. He did not stop for a squat in the bushes. He let fly from the saddle of his bike.
In the pre-Internet era, I read a quote from fellow American Bob Roll that said "His sickness was coming out of his shorts." The story went onto describe how Lemond’s diarrhea flowed over the waistband (or is it now a wasteband?) of his shorts. It would fall onto the rear tire, which would then launch it all over the trailing riders.
I decided to give bike commuting another try. That’s because I saw a nice slice of new sidewalk go in next to the canal along Indian School Road just west of Scottsdale Road. It looked like it stretched pretty far. Perhaps far enough to get me close to my office on 24th Street and Camelback.
Bike Commuting Step 1
I got new tires for my still-sweet 1999 Lemond Zurich. I handled that easily enough with a stop at a local bike shop, and a bit of time watching Netflix. The next morning, I started gliding along south Scottsdale’s bike lanes under cloudy skies.
And damn, it was nice! I rode up the canal on 64th Street to Indian School, and found a mile snarl getting across the street.
Then, I was on the new canal path. Ahhh, if bike commuting can be this good, sign me up for more!
Well, that feeling only lasted until just east of 56th Street when the pavement ended. Oh, hey! What a coincidence that this right about the Scottsdale/Phoenix border. Grrr. I just rode the dirt to 56th, took a left and cruised up Lafayette. That’s a decent ride. Not many cars, and a good chance to maintain a nice rhythm.
But the problem comes at 44th Street. Phoenix recognizes this as a bikeway. Yet it provides no safe way for bicyclists to cross 44th Street. Oh, and 44th has no bike lanes. It’s up to us to find a break in traffic, then we have to use the sidewalk (because that’s just not a safe street without bike lanes) to reach Campbell before we turn west. It’s one of my least-favorite parts of today’s ride, and part of why I think bike commuting sucks in Phoenix. It represents so many other half-assed executions of half-assed plans.
I got through unscathed, and it was fairly smooth sailing -- until 32nd Street. The road there is torn up for some task I couldn’t discern. The construction squeezes north/south traffic to one lane each direction, and cars can’t cross from the east or west. Bicycles and pedestrians can -- legally, even.
Once I got across that snarl, I was onto Campbell. That was great until I approached 24th Street. I had to figure out how to enter my building’s parking garage. There is not a single bike lane leading to the building at 24th and Highland. I don’t want to ride in the street along 24th, and people drive like savages on Highland despite the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit. It’s really no place for bike commuting.
I settled onto taking Campbell a few blocks west past 24th, hooking north, crossing Highland and riding down the north sidewalk into the building. Hardly optimum bike commuting, but it’s what I had to work with.
There, I went into our handy locker room where I stashed toiletries and a change of clothes. I was ready to use one of the three shower stalls. I opened the first, and found that the plumbing fixtures were ripped out. Same with the second. The third still had fixtures, but no water flowed. Funny, considering how much money the building management spent on prettying up the entrance from the parking garage to the offices – right down to leather couches and an LCD television that nobody ever watches. The only other showers in the building are locked down, with very few keys available. And I was too early to work to possibly find one.
I just used my towels to clean up as best as I could, threw on some deodorant and headed to upstairs to my office.
That’s a whole lot of crap to go through to bike commute to work. Phoenix and Maricopa County make a lot of pro-alternative transit noise -- but I see so few consistent, measurable advances (Step 1? Fine the shit out of companies that don’t provide adequate locker and shower facilities). Until bike lanes quit disappearing – until they link in a sensible manner – until people can stay safe -- bike commuting in Phoenix will continue to be only for a small fringe of the work force.
I’ll probably do more bike commuting – it’s a great way to get some exercise. But the Phoenix-area bike infrastructure will continue to be my biggest obstacle.
In the past seven days, I’ve received six unsolicited emails from Phoenix City Council member Sal Diciccio – along with one each from his wife and from fellow council member Peggy Bilsten. Regardless of the name, they all come from the Sal Diciccio re-election campaign. And they all desperately try to convince readers that Sal DiCiccio is not a small-minded, small-time, ethically dyslexic shyster.
As I’ve written before, I never signed up to receive these emails. DiCiccio has never responded to my questions about how I wound up on his email list. Nor did the City of Phoenix public information officer. My suspicion: DiCiccio, in an act of dubious legality and ethics, culled the city’s email system for addresses to add to his personal and political lists. I’ve received numerous emails from groups with ties to DiCiccio – and I didn’t sign up to receive email from any of them.
But hey, that’s just the "how." Let’s talk about the "why."
I’m getting this haboob of emails because Karlene Keogh Parks, DiCiccio’s opponent in the election, scares him. He’s afraid.
That’s because Keogh Parks supporters have done a great job of laying out the truth: that developers and lobbyists love DiCiccio. Even better, Keogh Parks has the backing of Mayor Greg Stanton. I won’t say Stanton is perfect, but I believe he has the city headed in a good direction -- in a direction that DiCiccio would never travel. The only ideas Sal DiCiccio offers are cutting spending (and therefore services) while demonizing honest city workers by spreading half-truths about what they earn. That’s not enough for a city struggling to modernize and re-invent itself as a real community.
DiCiccio is running so scared that he sent out an email blast in his wife’s name complaining about personal attacks on his family. Any hour, I expect a "be nice to my daddy" message from his daughter. (UPDATE: A few hours after I drafted this, I got another SalMail titled "Watch for Children as Back to School Starts. Nothing says "desperate" like a "won’t someone please think of the children?" email. A second SalMail followed about an hour later.)