Thus Begins the Hollowdaze...

Enjoy the annual festival of tooth decay, skimpy ill-considered costumes, and binge drinking! (Safely, of course - a toothache coupled with a hangover, frostbite, and a roofie-induced case of herpes is NOT very festive...)

Homeland Security, Comrade...

Why does customs hate fitness?

I ordered myself a pair of 24kg kettlebells on September 16th. Normally, Dragon Door is quite speedy in getting stuff out to me, but these happened to be back-ordered. Since the particular type I ordered are manufactured overseas, I wasn't too surprised to hear that Customs was holding them, waiting for some paperwork. The paperwork was delivered to them last week, and they were supposed to ship out this week. Today, however, I got the following email:

Dear Linus,

I apologize, but I have to be the bearer of bad news again. We will not be shipping the RR002 Russian Red Kettlebell until the beginning of November. Customs did receive the paperwork but now is insisting on opening every box and checking each kettlebell. We have no control over this. We are hoping they finish up quickly and get them sent to us. At this time we can not give you an estimated ship date, it depends on how long customs takes to do what they want.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Shannon K

Dragon Door Customer Service

Why does Customs need to open up every box? These are 53 pound balls of iron with handles. For those of you who aren't familiar with kettlebells, they are solid - there is no opening in them, and no moving parts. I would think that an X-ray followed by running two dogs past them (one for drugs, one for explosives) would be sufficient.

Why is Customs interfering with my workouts? Do they want me to go back to being fat? Perhaps they are being paid off by the food lobbies to keep kettlebells, the AK47 of fitness equipment, out of the hands of Americans. With simple yet brutally effective tools like kettlebells, we might actually recover some of our lost functionality. We might get our collectively fat asses off the couch and start moving again, and reclaim the joy of physicality - our birthright. We might stop eating fattening, fried, animal-based foods, and lose the excess baggage that 65% of Americans are currently carrying around. We might even become more confident in our own capabilities, and less complacent! We could organize, get things back on track, and demand better treatment at the hands of our government... Oh - wait.

Yeah. I'm not holding my breath on this shipment. Could be a while.

Unintended Consequences

In 1897, Max Weber, one of the fathers of Sociology and a recognized great thinker of his time, had a nervous breakdown. He didn't recover for over 5 years.

Why? Well it could be the aftermath of the big fight he had with his dad in July of that year. He accused the old man of being a horrible tyrant and threw him out of his house. Max Sr. retaliated by dying without resolving matters. That's the reason the biographers like to put forth, anyway.

Could it be, however, that wrestling with a subject as unwieldy as society on a daily basis kicked his ass?

I think so. It busted Nietzsche in the mouth too. It seems that once you take up the mantle of "social engineer" - that is, you decide to use the findings of sociology to better the world - you begin to feel it crushing you on several fronts. On the one hand, your own mental limitations and preconditions keep you from fully realizing how society works, while your subject matter seems bent on destroying itself before you can unravel it. Even if you do manage to find and understand some aspect of society in such a way that you can alter it successfully, AND you can get enough of the right people to listen to you so your plan can happen, there is always some unforeseen consequence that turns every engineered blessing into a curse somehow. We have Robert Merton to thank for labeling this concept, but it's nothing new. Examples - interstates have killed the downtown, the web is killing brick-and-mortar, feminism has killed (or at least maimed) masculinity, and the list goes on.

So what are earnest grad students to do?

This afternoon, we tried drinking. It didn't really help. We just continued to debate, only louder and less coherently.

I'm going to try sleeping next.

Fin de Bicy├Ęcle

Don't sweat it if you don't get the title. It's a really nerdy French pun. Fleur can explain it if you simply must understand.

This is the right crank arm of the WOB. Note the distressed metal. Note the missing pedal. Note the quiet sense of resignation in this post...

Yes, my trusty steed has suffered it's death blow.

It was nothing grand either. I got on it in front of the student Union, and as soon as I put my weight on it, the pedal sheared off. I shifted my weight very quickly to avoid falling, and destroyed the pair of pants I was wearing on the exposed bolt on top of the old-school gooseneck; nearly castrated myself. The sheared pedal now lives in my office, as a reminder of good rides.

I could have taken it to the shop, and had them put a new set of pedals on it, but it needed so many other things as well. The rear hub was clicking and slipping and crunching. The front rim had a dent in it that made the brakes tick. The seat was falling apart, the shifter was stiff, and the fork bearings needed to be replaced. In truth, it had been totaled for some time - the pedal was just the final straw.

To take its place for getting me to campus, I have purchased a Jamis Commuter 3.0.

It's quite high-tech compared to the WOB; aluminum frame, 8-speed internal hub in the rear, 700c rims, and a shock-absorbing seat post. It rides very smoothly, tracks straight, shifts like silk, and is completely silent, even when you accelerate. I haven't got the rack and bags on it yet, but soon. In the bike nerd sort of way, it's pretty damn sexy for an uncustomized, out-of-the-box bike.

Yet, I still love the WOB. Steel frame and rims, ancient shifter, broken seat, and weak brakes included. It had character, and a gracious, gentlemanly feel, even when ridden "no hands." Some bikes will abruptly dump you on your head, but not the WOB. It would give you a good long time to correct before completely pitching you; it was polite like that.

I had accepted the idea that it was time to let it go, but something forces me to hang on. Instead of going to the junkyard, it's sitting in the garage, awaiting it's rebirth as a fixed gear.

Yeah - like that, but with better music...