Tuesday Tirade: When is copyright law worthwhile, and when is it a petty kick in the junk?

So the other week I received a notice from YouTube that two of my videos were taken down due to a copyright violation. I could chose to go with it, or fight it – and if I lost I could end of up court. The offending videos were two less-than-30-second snippets of songs from a Garth Brooks concert I went to here in Houston all the way back in 2015 (almost 3 years ago).

Here’s the email:
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It’s a forgone conclusion that people take videos at concerts to relive the fun and of course to share with friends and family on various social media. It’s going to happen. It’s 2018 and we all have pocket sized video cameras, and we live in a technological world where data is shared in large quantities. This includes clips of songs from concerts.

So, Pearl Records Inc. – get your head out of your ass and get it into 2018.

But that’s not really my whole tirade. To be honest I didn’t really care. I ignored the email. The vids were gone, they were 2 years old and I’d probably never need or watch them again anyway. A few weeks had passed until today, and I found myself needing to go into my YouTube account settings – something I rarely do.

I was greeted by this:
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Which in itself isn’t bad on the surface – except for the part where you can’t do anything unless you “go to Copyright school,” watch a video, and pass a 5 question quiz. There’s no way around it.

What.

The.

Fuck.

So now it’s time to circle back around to the title of this entry. Is this truly a worthwhile copyright violation or is it just petty bullshit? I vote for petty bullshit. And on top of it, being forced to do YouTube’s asinine quiz before I could get to my account settings was infuriating.

At the end of the day, it’s not a big deal. Just something worthy of a good ol’ fashioned
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Let’s talk about giving teachers guns.

I’m not a teacher anymore.

But for 6 years, I had the sincere pleasure of educating elementary school children. 10 year olds. 5th graders who still looked to me for band-aids, were excited to show me their LEGO sets, and stared wild-eyed when I could answer 50 multiplication problems in under 50 seconds. I loved it. I loved those kids. But I hated the system. I stuck it out as long as stress would allow me, and then I left. And even though I don’t stand in front a classroom every day anymore, I’ll always consider myself a teacher. It was the job I wanted to do since I was a kid – inspired by so many of my own great teachers. I sometimes think by leaving I let them down. But teachers want nothing but for their students to be happy and successful.

And I doubt their idea of my success would include drawing down on a shooter who has just mowed down the classroom of 10 year olds next-door and is now coming for us. I often wonder what they would think of the entire situation. When I think back to my 1st grade teacher, Miss C., she was fresh out of college, young, and eager. That was 1987. I can’t even imagine her standing there, teaching me how to do simple addition, with a Glock strapped to her side.

I can’t imagine it now, either.

Because it’s insane.

It’s fucking insane.

I’m just going to skip listing all the of the responsibilities teachers have on a daily basis that extend far beyond the letter of the job. It’s a long list. It’s a stress-inducing list. A list that now includes active shooter survival and lockdown training. Yes, teachers now need to figure out how to heard a class of 20+ kids who are barely old enough to understand the concept of death into a classroom closet, or an out-of-sight corner, and keep them quite and calm. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a class of 7 year olds quiet? And now it could mean life or death?

But that’s OK – let’s just add gun handling, and combat training to it. It’s the obvious answer right? Fight fire with fire. Give those teachers guns. I’m sure little old Mrs. Anderson in room 106, who still doesn’t quite grasp the use of email, will certainly be able to squeeze off a few rounds and take down a person with a semi-automatic rifle.

Yeah, yeah ok ok. I know you’re saying we don’t need to arm all the teachers – just some of them. Some young, active ones who can run, tuck & roll, and have all that video game shooting experience, right? They’ll be perfect. Because of their age, and physique, they must volunteer to put their lives on the line and run toward the gunfire, instead of away. But, if there isn’t a gun in every classroom that must mean that some children and teachers must be sacrificed before those with guns have a chance to react, compose themselves, make sure their classes are safe, before running toward the danger.

You’ll read that what Trump really meant when he said to give teachers guns, was to only give them to ex-military who have since become teachers. While the sample size of a single teacher is low – I can easily say that of the 3 schools I’ve taught in – in 3 different states – none of them has former Marines (or any other branches) working as teachers. So, I guess that means we all die. And let’s not get into giving these supposedly existing teachers a bonus or extra pay of some sort; teachers can’t even get funding for classroom supplies, or special education assistance, or even just a raise every once in a while. Where’s that extra millions for hazard pay going to come from?

Does this sound stupid as fuck yet?

The only way everyone is safe is to keep the guns out of the schools. Away from the schools. See, the thing is, despite what all the gun-wielding, 2nd amendment humping, NRA cock sucking Republicans will tell you, this is a gun problem. It’s a gun access problem. They’ll be happy to tell you if we got rid of guns, then two things will happen: 1) the government will immediately initiate a hostile takeover of the country and declare martial law, and 2) all the criminals will now have all the guns and we’re going to be robbed, mugged, killed, etc constantly. Nevermind that a large majority of firearms in criminal possession are legal guns stolen from gun owners. It seems any schmuck can buy a gun at a gun show without proper papers or checks. But this is whole thing is a different argument for a different day.

A school is a safe place. A place of learning. A place of respect. It is not a place of violence.

When a motorist hits and kills a cyclist, the answer to the problem isn’t give the cyclists cars to start demolition derby style revenge- it’s to build better infrastructure, educate motorists, fine and/or jail the motorists, take away their license, and change the local laws and ordinances to better protect the cyclists. Of course there is pushback from motorists who couldn’t fathom riding a bike – just like there’s pushback from gun gurus about changing gun laws. The only difference is adding a bike lane saves lives. Adding guns doesn’t. Adding well timed bike signal lights saves lives. Add guns doesn’t. Taking a license away from a repeat drunk driver (not that this ever fucking happens) saves lives. Selling guns to domestic abuse offenders does not.

The point I’m trying to make is you don’t solve the gun problem by adding more guns. It’s like saying I’m going to fix my leaky sink by pouring water on it. And you sure as fuck don’t solve a school shooting problem by giving guns to teachers.

If I was still teaching and I was asked to carry a gun, I would refuse. It’s probably cost me my job but I’d rather not work in a place where I’d be forced to shoot a kid. But when it comes down to it, the blame falls squarely on the NRA and gun owners who put their desire to own guns above my desire to not shoot children.

Fuck those guys.

And fuck your guns.

Donate to support the National MS Society – My 4th MS150

33544421214_f0ffcb764d_bThis April I’ll be riding in my 4th MS150 – a two day cycling event where more than 10,000 cyclists ride from Houston to Austin to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and the National MS Society. There’s no other event like it in the country.

For the last 3 years, with the support of my readers, friends, and family, we’ve raised almost $4,000 for the MS Society. This year I’ve once again set my fundraising goal at $1500.

So, if you’re in the giving mood, please head over to my personal page and make a donation to help support research to make a world free of MS.

The evolution of my 1984 Raleigh SS commuter

In June of 2014, I had my parents send me my Aunt’s old bike. I was excited to dive into the world of single-speed cycling, and lots of people use vintage road frames to build them up. I chronicled the rebuild (my first time doing things on my own) in this post, if you’d like to see the full story.

Since then, it’s been through a number of iterations as I’ve continued to tailor it to meet my needs both stylistically and for utility.

When I took it out of the box it looked like this:
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When I was done with my rebuild, it looked like this:
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Since it was for commuting to work, I added a rear rack for my pannier:
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I eventually decided to ditch the rack, since it really took away from the cool factor of the vintage frame. I now use a backpack to carry my stuff to and from work. Around that same time, I decided I wanted to try pursuit bars. So I replaced the bullhorns, and got some regular brake levers. I also finally found a seat post that fit, since the existing old one was actually too short. So iteration #2 was a pretty decent overhaul:
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I liked this overall but got uneasy when I would really get down in the horns and my hands were very far away from the brake levers. Eventually I decided to go back to regular drop bars.

At the same time I decided to chop 2cm off my quill stem, and switch from an 18t freewheel to a 17t freewheel. So, here’s iteration #3:
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Then Hurricane Harvey struck, and our house and garage were flooded. The bike, along with all the other bikes, was half under water for almost 2 weeks. The frame was salvageable as were most of the parts, but after giving them a decent clean they started to exhibit signs of damage – especially the freewheel and the rear hub.

So, I ordered a new set of wheels, a new chain, and a new freewheel. I went back to 18t this time. I find it a lot easier to start with it, but I miss the speed I could reach with the 17t. Oh well.

So finally, almost 4 years later, we’re at iteration #4. It looks very similar to the above pic,  but the new wheels are the biggest difference. I had wanted to ditch the fixie-style deep rims for a while, so I was happy for the excuse. The regular wheels look better with a classic lugged frame.
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So we’ll roll with this for a while. I’m already contemplating moving to riser bars – but, we’ll hold off for a while.
I guess that’s the beauty of these old road frames; you can do anything with them, and they are so easy to change around. This bike was originally a 10 speed, but it was very simple to make it single, and would be just as easy to put it back.

Twitter blocked my account because I told Ann Coulter to die in a fire

In response to this tweet:

Pretty sure it wasn’t the worst thing that’s been said on Twitter today.

I’m free to tweet again in 12 hours.

I guess next time I should just threaten nuclear war against her instead.

If I win Powerball tonight (or ever) I’d buy a lot of bikes

You can buy a lot of bikes with 600 million dollars. After paying off my my house, and my parent’s house, and my student loans, and my wife’ student loans, and our car, I’d make a trip to the LEGO store, obviously, and then to a bunch of bike shops.

N+1 is the only mathematical equation that I’ve ever been able to remember. It states that the correct number of bikes to own is always the current number you have (N), plus 1 more. Because, let’s face it, every bike is a different ride, and offers different kinds of fun.

Here’s what I’d probably get. (Disclaimer: subject to change based on shit I remember)

Jamis Renegade Elite (for gravel and commuting)
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All City Pony Express (for commuting and errands – front and read racks added)
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Surly Karate Monkey 27.5+ (for commuting, gravel, and trails)
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Surly Straggler 650b (for commuting, touring, gravel, and around town)
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Just off the top of my head….

How about y’all?

2018 Cycling Goals

In 2017 my goal was 2500 miles – but after dislocating my knee, and the flooding from Hurricane Harvey – I came up well short. Though I will say a little over 1600 miles isn’t too shabby for a guy with a busted knee and a destroyed house. I may not have made it anyway, but, well…..yeah. Anyway.

Here’s my ride calendar from 2017
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The gap at the end of March is after my knee injury, and the gap at the end of August until October is from the flooding.

So, barring any more natural disasters, or god knows what else, I’m setting my goal for 2018 at 2500 miles again. According to some simple calculations, if I bike to work at least 3 days per week, for at least 40 weeks, I’ll hit 2280 miles just commuting alone. Throw in the MS150, and regular Saturday morning miles – I should easily be able to crack 2500.

But, its January and fuck knows what’ll happen during the year.

So….let’s get rolling?

2017: A year in [brief] review

Now seems as good a time as any to start writing again. 2017 really kicked the shit out of us. I suppose it’s best to just get it all down on paper. Err…

Does anyone even read this anymore?

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s the Good:
-Despite all of my quirks, my lovely wife is still by my side. Going on 18 years…
-After raising nearly $1500, I completed the BP MS150 for the 3rd time, riding nearly 160 miles from Houston to Austin in support of the National MS Society
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-We spent over a week in coastal Maine, showing our friends who’ve never been what it’s like to relax in cozy cabins and devour copious amount of lobster while watching fishing boats troll by. We split the time between Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor.
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-My sister-in-law married her best beau, Josh, and it was an absolute blast.

-Jess & Tom welcomed their daughter Ainsley into the world, while Mohan & Ponnarasi welcomed little Manu.

-Chainsaw’s recovery from his back paralysis has been incredible. Last December he couldn’t lift himself off the floor of the emergency vet. Now, he’s hoppin’ & boppin’ like the old man he is. Speaking of which – he turned 17 this year. Dude is mega old!
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-I finally got to see U2 – and it couldn’t have come at a better time: their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. One of my favorite bands, playing one of my all-time favorite albums ever. It was blissful.
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-Our friends, family, & complete strangers came to our rescue, our aid, and helped us get back on our feet after losing almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

And now for the shit—–

-In March, I dislocated my left knee, badly. It took over a month of walking with crutches and a cane, getting fluid drained, and lots of bags of frozen veggies, but I was finally able to move about. Because I’m stubborn, I still completed the MS150 even though technically I still should have been walking with a cane. But, it still hurts. It still hasn’t fully healed – and may not ever.

-Hurricane Harvey: Yeah, we got a fuckton of rain, but interestingly enough that wasn’t what flooded our entire neighborhood and put over 40″ of water in our house for 2 weeks.
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We were only expecting [hoping] for a few inches of water if any at all, but, the Army Corps of Engineers had other plans for us.
For the full album of photos, from the first few drops of rain to the complete tear out and demo, check out my Flickr album HERE (it’s depressing, FYI)

-If being flooded out of your home wasn’t bad enough, the apartment we had to rent for 6 months was broken into after a month. The fuckers stole both our computers (which we had saved from the house), some money, and some sentimental antique jewelry. None of it has been located. Fuck those guys.

-My wife lost her job (after the flood, so, double the impact).

So, overall, 2017 was a tough year to gauge. The negatives were huge and devastating. But the highs were also pretty awesome. Let’s just say it was a year that will leave a lot of memories in its wake.

Hi, 2018. Let’s be friends.