Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Owner, Contractor, Architect Need a Therapist

Construction on the million-dollar home is scheduled to be complete by the end of November. One month to go.

Still need paint and stain on three exterior sides of the house.
Still need bamboo floors and porcelain tile floors EVERYWHERE.
Still need interior paint and stain on the first floor.
Still need ceramic tile and slate on bathroom walls.
Still need granite countertops in the kitchen and buffet.
Still need a very cool built-in breakfast nook.
Still need light and plumbing fixtures and light switches and outlets.
Still need appliances in the kitchen and laundry room.
Still need shower enclosures.
Still need door and window hardware.
Still need sidewalks and driveways and breezeways and pergola.
Still need a built-in outdoor BBQ gas grille.
Still need lots of landscaping.
Still need, still need, still neeeeeeed...

One month to finish? Let's find out.

Discussion Topic for the Day

"Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle,"
Mahatma Gandhi.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Deaths? so what. Loss of Profits? Holy Moly!

If the scientific predictions of global warming don't convince the right-wing movers and shakers to change policy, hit 'em where they and their financial backers live: the pocketbook.

A new British government-commissioned report warns of dire world economic catastrophe if the U.S. and China can't be swayed to substantially reduce their greenhouse emissions, as reported by the BBC:

The Stern Review, which is published on Monday, will say the key to solving the crisis is getting the big polluting countries, such as the US and China, to cut their emissions.

Sir Nicholas will say the polluters must be made to "pay the price" for the problems they are causing the planet.

The report warns unless the world moves to cut green house gases it is heading for a "catastrophic climate change" which would create the worst global recession ever seen.

The Stern Review forecasts that 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) must be spent on tackling climate change immediately.

It warns that if no action is taken:

  • Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people
  • Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population

  • Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct
  • Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of 'climate refugees'

The study is the first major contribution to the global warming debate by an economist, rather than a scientist.

Howard would like to point out that if the fate of hundreds of millions of lives rests on Prime Minister Tony Blair's abilities to sway President Bush -- even considering that Blair said the report was the most important he had received during his period in office -- then we're in for some difficult times indeed.

To be heard, he's gotta talk Republicanese by stressing the loss of seven trillion bucks ($7,000,000,000,000 at current exchange rates) -- worse than the economic costs of both World Wars and the Great Depression combined!

Read the whole story here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Supposed To Be A Nice Sunday Ride

We left at 11 a.m. sharp this morning -- okay, we were supposed to start at 11 a.m. sharp, but, well...

Two miles out, Howard's Fuji Touring Beater got it's first flat in nearly a week. They're not supposed to go flat so frequently, but...

Back on the road, we pushed the pace up to 20 mph and kept it there... until the downhills flattened out.

30 miles later, Mrs. Howard had a flat of her own. The tube was one of those Slime tubes filled with green goo. The green goo is supposed to self-patch the tube. So we completely deflated the tube, turning the wheel around slowly -- which is supposed to distribute the goo thoroughly to make sure it covers and self-patches the puncture -- then we reinflated it.

Five miles later, flat again. We once had Slime tubes in all our bike tires, but no more. That was the last Slime tube left. So the Slime experiment is through.

Pictured above, Howard has just finished replacing the tube with a new cheap Slimeless one, and he's inflating and inflating and inflating and...

After stopping at a pizza joint in a small neighboring town adjacent to our own for two medium twist cones and a slice -- total cost, $3.45! -- we returned home at 4:30 p.m.

60.1 miles. Now where is that Advil? It's supposed to relieve aches and pains.

Ahhhhhhhh, yes! Finally, something that works the way it's supposed to!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

They Really Are Time Machines

Once again to the cycling... always with the cycling...

There are thousands of bicycle blogs, of which Why Howard Laughed is half of one. But nobody blogs it better than ex-bicycle framebuilder and septegenarian Dave Moulton. Here is an excerpt from one of his recent posts with the Ring of Truth to it:
People always tell me that I don’t look my age and I can tell you when I am riding my bike I don’t feel it. I feel no different than when I rode a bike at age forty something.

Greg Lemond was once asked, “At what point does climbing hills become easy?” His reply was, “It never gets easier; you just go faster.”

So I guess the reverse is true in my case. I know by my time for a given distance that I am not yet riding as fast as I did some thirty years ago; but it feels the same in my legs and the rest of my body.

Only another bike rider could know the feeling of getting out of the saddle and stomping hard on the pedals. The immediate response from the machine as the rubber bites into the asphalt and the bike rockets forward. The bicycle becomes an extension of the rider; man and machine become one. There is no other feeling quite like it.

Riding a road bike is, in a way, a spiritual experience. My mind is totally in the moment; concentrating solely on the job in hand. My thoughts are only on the physical effort of propelling the bike forward, and on steering a course on the road ahead.
Dave Moulton perfectly sums up for me why I love biking. The fitness and exercise, the weight loss, the cheap zero-carbon-emissions transportation, even the fun of riding with my best girl -- these are all wonderful bonus benefits. But really? I most love what I think of as the whole Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance thing. If you read the book I'm making reference to, you should understand. By the way, read the entire Dave Moulton post to understand the "time machine" title of this, and his, post.

It's true that I could, with the check recently received from a client, get a $4,000 bike, which presumably would make bicycling phenomenally easier than my 28-pound Fuji Touring bike allows. My Fuji might commonly be thought of as "a beater" by the cycling cognoscente. But right now, I don't want or need easier. I'm comfortable where I am. I can go as fast as I want. I pass everyone when I'm in that kind of mood. And yes, climbing 8% grades that go on forever hurts like hell, but I accept that. My legs are as strong as ever.

Still, it's nice to fantasize about getting that carbon-framed velobeast in a couple years. After all, I'm not getting any younger.

P.S. What Greg Lemond said bears repeating -- "It never gets easier; you just go faster." One of the best biking quotes ever.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Navel Gazing

Have you heard the stat that something like 40% of all white-collar workers in America spend about a third of their time reading blogs... while at work? I swear I heard this on the radio about a month ago. And I believe it!

We bloggers are hard to resist!

Also, I don't know how all of you found your way here at Why Howard Laughed, but I have some clues provided by sitemeter.com: Google and Yahoo searches.

What's most interesting to me is that so many of Howard's first-time readers find me after doing a Google/Yahoo search for "Lapidus granite", or "Ride the Rockies", or "how Borane reacts with air", or "Ames Monument", or "picture of chocolate milk", or "rktect", or "mansard roof". Somehow, my blog rates high with search engines on those topics.

That last one is my favorite, by the way, because I wrote the definitive history of the mansard roof way back in February, and yet people still come to my blog to read it.

Sometimes the link provided by Google or Yahoo takes the reader straight to the exact blog entry. But then sometimes it lazily dumps them on my front doorstep, leaving them the arduous task of scrolling through months and months of junque for the treasure they seek. I'm sure most of them leave quickly, realizing that they fell into the lair of a raving liberal hippy cyclist egomaniac.

Someday I would love to create a sidebar to my blog page listing links to all my favorite and most popular blog entries. But Howard is not HTML-savvy enough for this nifty trick. Howard is lacking the critical geek gene which would allow him safe passage to HTML heaven. So hell it is.

I created a post about two months ago listing my favorite blog entries. But since then as I accreted more layers to the pearl we know as Why Howard Laughed, that precious post receeded deep into the archives, forever lost. Until now, as I temporarily resurrect it once again.

One of the greatest HRlaughed puzzles that have befuddled me is why Eugene, Oregon residents don't Google themselves more often. Everyone loves to read about themselves, right? I wrote what I thought was a pretty interesting take on Eugene, as seen from a rental bike. Yet nobody found my blog via a "Eugene" search on Google/Yahoo. And nobody commented. At least not yet.

I also wrote a humorous essay on the competitive nature of most bicyclists -- and of course my own competitive nature. My wife, who is a writer, thought it was sparkling and brilliant. I believe her exact words were, "this is nice." But again nobody commented. At least not yet.

And then I posted a link to a very humorous and thoughtful blog that was in desperate need of readers... only to have it belly up within the week. Can anyone say the Howard Kiss of Death?

Oh well. You've reached this sentence so you're still reading. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you have the time, tell me in comments how you found this blog (unless you are family or friends, in which case we both know you were threatened.)

Now get back to work, you slacker before your boss catches you reading a
raving liberal hippy cyclist egomaniac blog!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


When home prices plunge more in September, year-over-year, than they have in 35 years, Howard thinks it's safe to say that the real estate bubble is bursting right now in a big way. Hang on tight, kids. Lots of suffering to come... after the election, of course. That way Democrats can be blamed.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

2D+1D = Folly

There's a bandwidth intensive email sweeping the nation (at least its sweeping my inbox) -- and you may have already received it from your most artsy-fartsy friend or friends. But Howard wants to be the first blogger to post it to his blog.

The photos of the email show a series of cut paper sculptures.

Big deal, you say? Well, consider this: All the three-dimensional objects depicted are formed and folded directly from scraps and cuttings from a single sheet of paper, sort of like origami, yet so much more. And often the sculptural objects are integral to the void left in the sheet of paper. Positive and negative creating something new.

Some of these sculptures are so divinely simple that you may kick yourself for not thinking of them first yourselves. Much like Howard, who kicks himself a lot. A LOT!

And some of the sculptures are so complex, mind-boggling, and expansive that you won't believe that they came from such simple cuts in the sheet of paper.

Howard's favorite is at the top -- the skeleton sitting on a chair (Rodan's The Thinker) pondering the human form that he/she/it once was.

As usual, you can click on any of these photos to see much larger versions of same.

The artist is Danish and his name is Peter Callesen. He has this to say about these objects:
I find the materialization of a flat piece of paper into a 3D form as an almost magic process - or maybe one could call it obvious magic, because the process is obvious and the figures still stick to their origin, without the possibility of escaping. In that sense there is as well an aspect of something tragic in most of the cuts.
Peter Callesen's website begins here.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Best of the Midwest: Chicago

Howard is tanned, rested, and ready after spending five days in Chicago, birthplace of the skyscraper, the prairie-style home, and the baseball losing streak. Okay, not so tanned.

Howard rode the El, the loop, and the express elevator to the near-top of Sears Tower. He ran in the Chicago Marathon, he toured Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture in Oak Park and more in the neighborhood around the University of Chicago, he visited the penguins and porpoises at Shedd Aquarium and the gorillas at Brookfield Zoo, and he was awed by Frank Gehry's design for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (the odd stainless steel bundle above) and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (the giant reflective kidney bean below) at the new Millennium Park.

He was also depressed and psychicly scarred to find the public face of Wrigley Field to be wrapped in grimy 60'-high chainlink fence (no picture of Wrigley will smudge this blog.) Ugliest baseball field in the nation. Long live the losing streak, says this dark-hearted architect.

What was that? Howard ran in the Chicago Marathon? You betcha! He and family were on their way to a bus tour Sunday morning and bumped squarely into a marathon with no way across. How does one get through a 100,000-person marathon race? By running downstream, up-tempo, and diagonally -- avoiding other runners when possible. Only took about 100 feet of running for Howard and family as they took turns running in the Chicago Marathon.

Unfortunately, the winner of the marathon, Kenyan runner Robert Cheruiyot, slipped on a banner placed on the ground in front of the finish line and banged his head hard to the pavement. Fortunately for Mr. Cheriuyot, his legs crossed the finish line for the win though his upper body did not. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a concussion and may never have and retain a memory of the final moments of victory. He should be fine, the doctors say. After all, he won the Boston Marathon earlier this year, so can brag without asterisk all he wants about that win.

Howard was awed by Chicago. Though visiting it 22 years before, he didn't see it the way he did this time. The architecture of Chicago is the best in the world, save -- perhaps -- the architecture of Paris, Rome, and [insert your favorite city here].

While the rest of the family saw enough to last them the rest of their lifetimes, Howard hopes to go back again and again. Fortunately, Mrs. Howard, who wasn't able to come to Chicago with the rest of us, shares this affinity after a visit a few years ago for a writer's convention.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Howard is Speechless

Today has been one of the most exciting days of Howard's professional career as an architect so far.

Watching dirt get excavated, watching foundations get poured and piers get drilled, watching walls and roofs get framed, watching ducts and piping and conduit get located in unexpected places, seeing the drywall on walls and ceilings change the character and feel of the spaces, watching doors and windows being hung -- everything leading to a finished product that almost exactly looks and feels the way the architect imagined -- that is always the greatest thrill for a creative mind.

I think that's why architects become architects -- to see stuff from their own minds and creative souls get built, get moulded into flesh-and-blood reality, and then get used as hoped and imagined.

But today was a bit special. Why? Because some of the key details that Howard has been fretting and worrying over for the past two years (!!) were built recently, and they came out exactly right.

For the past six months, the contractor and his construction superintendent have been gushing over how good their finish carpenter is. Talking about building high expectations!

Yet over the past month, as the doors were hung, and the baseboards were installed, and the trim around the doors and windows were cut and nailed and stained, and the cabinetry was installed with crown moulding no less, Howard realized that they were right about the finish carpenter.

But only recently, as the construction of the stairs was started, and the rows of columns and capitals were carefully trimmed and constructed, has Howard seen just how truly good this guy is.

A Craftsman -- with a capital 'C'.

All of this finish carpentry has yet to be stained. But when it is, it's going to be spectacular.

The guy who's job it is to do all this staining? Why the painter, of course. Interestingly enough, the painter has become a good friend and confidante of Howard's.

Together, we've talked over and considered dozens of paint options, and always -- always -- it's turned out that we agree on everything. Too dark? I think so too. Too gray? You got that right. Too vivid? That's what I was thinking too! What would you suggest? Good idea, let's do it.

And now everything is coming out perfect. Damn if that's the way it's supposed to be, but hardly ever really is.

As you can see, the front of the house is nearly painted. The colors are perfect. Of course.

If not for the snow -- SNOW? It can't be snowing! It's only October! -- the painter would be finishing up the outside of the house, including the stain on the fascia boards up high and all the heavy timber pieces at the back of the house.

So we wait for more good weather while he continues his craft inside. Shouldn't be a long wait.

You know what they say about the weather in Colorado? Don't like it? Just wait 15 minutes and it'll change. So true.

No, the title of this blog entry is not quite correct. Howard is not speechless. He's ecstatic. Which makes him manic and gabby and articulate and hyper. Oh so hyper.

He can't wait to see what he'll see when he gets back from Chicago on Sunday. His mind will probably be reeling from all the great architecture he'll see there. Wonder what kind of ideas he'll bring back with him...

Still to come on this house, though? Bamboo floors. Stair rails, newel posts, and ballusters. Granite countertops. Porcelain tile. Finished bathrooms. Buckets of stain on wood everywhere. Stained and sealed concrete floors in the walk-out basement. Landscaping. Stone and a huge mantle of wood at the fireplace. A built-in eating nook (a cozy booth... sans naugahyde.)

Howard hasn't shown you any photos of the kitchen yet, has he? Coming soon...

Howard's Kinda Town

Howard and much of his family are travelling to Chicago Wednesday, Oct. 18th to Sunday, October 22nd. Yes, he will bring a functional camera.

Perhaps to encourage Howard to come with them, his family said they would be going on an architectural sightseeing trip with plenty of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Helmut Jahn, and strained neck muscles from looking up UP UP!

Sounds to Howard like the family will be depending on him to educate and enlighten them with ribald tales of construction cost overages, architect misdeeds, and change orders from hell. Not to worry -- Howard is well-versed in the legends of corruption, greed, and lust.

For example, Saturday will be spent touring Wright's Oak Park work including his home & studio, Unity Temple, followed by a trip to Robie House for a private one-hour showing.

The hotel everyone is staying at has an exercise room. Howard is hoping that means it'll have an exer-cycle of some shape and design. Howard gets soft and flabby if he doesn't get to exceed his lactic threshold on a daily basis. Hunky Howard would quickly become Heaving Humunculous Howard. Still pretty. Just not as.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Phoning One In

Sometimes a blogger gets busy with work or gets tired of blogging (guess which?) and just has to phone one in.

Here are a couple of photos from a canyon expedition five days ago to see the changing aspen colors in the highlands of Colorado.

Howard took both of these photos with a camera phone. Phoning it in? Get it?

Howard took these from inside a moving car (kids, don't try this at home.)

Click on the photos and make them large. The main subject in both of these photos is in focus while all the surrounding context is gray and blurry, giving the viewer a feeling of movement and even vertigo. Howard likes that. He's proud of these photos, but he can hardly take the credit.

Just dumb luck, really. Like his whole life so far.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another Week's Progress

In case you forgot -- or think I forgot -- that Howard's an architect, here are a number of current photos taken Saturday afternoon of the million dollar house.

Yes, Howard works on weekends. As a matra fact, Howard is meeting with another client on Sunday morning -- a client who lives in an adjacent state, even.

But back to today's pics:

Howard's camera is just about shot. He took over two dozen great photos on Saturday, but when he got back to his office and downloaded them, only eight of them survived. The others? Perhaps someone in China downloaded pics of her precious son, Lee, and got more than she ever expected. Hopefully, her architectural horizons were expanded just a little bit.

The top photo shows a little prismatic action that was not apparent from the preview. Either that or God is showering His blessings upon Howard's work. Howard would just prefer a little devine intervention encouraging his clients to pay a little more promptly.

The next photo shows the house from the side with the garage tucked around back. The garage has been painted with the final colors selected by Howard and approved by the owners. One can't see the colors clearly from this one pic, but then the selection of photos was slim.

A photo of the backside of the house shows the stone columns WITH stone this time. Capstones will be installed very soon. All the cedar timbers, posts, and beams still need to be stained with the selected-and-approved darker tone, the house still needs paint, and of course the backyard needs landscape work. Soon enough, soon enough.

The last photo shows one of the kid bedrooms and
how the painter masked all the trim around doors and windows before staining it with a hand-rubbed light cherry finish. The window to the right will be a window seat with flip-up storage under a cushioned seat where the parents will read to their children.

Howard will be going to the building site again Sunday afternoon to measure some things. Perhaps the camera may work better then.

Stay tuned...

Friday, October 06, 2006

NYC Bicyclists On Crack

How NOT to ride your bike...

Go ahead, click the YouTube link. I double dog dare ya.

The video keeps upping the ante until three minutes into it, when things just go absolutely nuts.

I swear -- swear! -- that at precisely 3:24 in the video, there is not adequate space to pass a bicycle between a black sedan and a bus. And yet the rider makes it. How????!!

What Is Bush's Job?

If you have about ten minutes (and a sound card on your computer), you MUST watch this hilarious Jon Stewart clip from Thursday night's Daily Show via YouTube. This clip covers a wide range of topics from the inevitable post-Iraq victory party, to the President's comment that the war in Iraq will be only a comma in the history books. About four-and-a-half minutes in, Stewart begins to examine what the President's job really is. Stewart's peeps really did their homework compiling videotape, using the President's own words, coming up with the funniest five minutes of The Daily Show ever.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Billmon: The Lavender Bund

Ahhhh, savor the irony thoughtfully and concisely laid out for us by one of the best writers on the Internets.

And then note how Billmon himself is doing what he wished some Democratic Machiavelli would do. Ahhhh.

Lovely Images, Part VIII: Period Perfection

Once upon a blog, Howard strung together a series of blogposts titled "Lovely Images."

As a refresher, there was:
Lovely Images, Part I, a photo and plan from the work of Not So Big House author and architect Sarah Susanka;
Lovely Images, Part II, a work compendium by Famous Architect;
Lovely Images, Part III, a picture of a stone ledge projecting through glass and becoming an interesting cantilever;
Lovely Images, Part IV: The Trek Touring Bike;
Lovely Images, Part V: My Lead-Plated Squeeker;
Lovely Images, Part VI: Machu Picchu; and
Lovely Images, Part VII: Fuji's Finest.
Heavy on the bikes, we confess. Still, it is time to continue the series...

There once was a crotchety old dude who loved to rant and complain. You could even say he was born to bitch, that's how good he was at it. Following his bliss, this crotchety old dude created a blog called Banished Rants.

Everything so far is God's Own Truth... except that he's not crotchety, he's not old, and he might not even be a dude.

Okay, nevermind. He really is a dude.

Howard -- who fancies himself a bit of a genius when it comes to noming de plumes, or handing out nicknames as our pResident might put it -- took one look at this blog and began calling the crotchety old dude "Banished Ranter". See how well it fits? It's a gift Howard's always had. [Just never you mind that B.R. always referred to himself as B.R. in his profile. Beside the point.]

Turns out, B.R. is also a bit of a craftsman woodworker. He and his wife (see, I told you he was a dude) recently built an addition to their midwestern bungalow, and B.R. did most of the finish and trim carpentry himself. To save money? Well, yeah, but also because he's extraordinarily good at it.

Here's a pic of a bathroom that B.R. created. All the woodwork you see here, with the exception of the actual door, is white oak that was transformed by B.R. into midwestern bungalow perfection. Note all the dark bronze period-style hardware. Note the unique Mission-style light fixtures from Rejuvenation Lamp & Hardware. Note the panelling, baseboard, door trim, and mirror frame -- all previously slabs and splinters of raw white oak magically transformed by the prodigious paws and prolific prowess of B.R. until this perfect picture of a period powder room was progenerated for your pleasure. [Hope I didn't get any spit on you.]

Period perfection.

Post your comments below and perhaps we might encourage B.R. to send us more pics and continue the Lovely Images series...

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Cow Says MOO

Granted, it's copywrited material and Howard is now in Federal felony territory.
But The Banished Ranter considers it sheer genius. He would know.

Update: Sorry, but it appears that The Banished Ranter is no longer blogging. Banished once again? Damn...

Almost Done in by Rex. Almost.

"That guy can't possibly be catching up with me," Howard thought, watching the looming Rex* in the mirror mounted to his bicycle helmet. "I'm pushing it pretty hard -- going 28 miles per hour on the flat, and nobody in town can sustain a pace much faster than that." And yet, Rex was closing in.

About six miles into Howard's ride today [Monday], he got passed. Passed with authority, even.

Rex was pleasant enough, saying, "Hi. Great day for riding." Howard agreed and smiled, trying not to look stressed by the fast pace or the fact of his being passed. But Rex was gone before Howard could utter more than, "It sure is."

Up ahead was a nice quarter-mile 5% climb, the kind that slows most riders down a lot. But not Howard, who hammers his way through a bit of discomfort in exchange for the recovery plateau at the top of the hill. He hoped Rex might not be good at climbing, allowing Howard the chance to catch up.

But no. This one was good. Rex slowed a touch at the top of the hill to briefly recover, but Howard needed to slow and recover as well. So Rex remained in the lead by about 30 yards.

Howard was determined not to allow the lead to expand any further than that, so he pushed his own pace beyond his own already-exceeded comfort zone that was abandoned a half-mile earlier when he first saw Rex in the rear-view mirror.

Together they rode the next three miles over hill and dale, Rex in the drops of his $4,000, carbon-framed, 17-ounce velobeast with the Italian name unpronouncable by human tongue, and Howard white-knuckling the hoods of his steel-framed, 28-pound Fuji Touring bike, hanging on for dear life.

Every now and again, Rex would turn around and glance back, seeing Howard clinging stubbornly to the decayed remnants of his wake, still 30 yards behind.

The neighborhoods gradually turned from suburban to rural, as houses gave way to barns, apartment blocks giving way to goats and horses, and city dogs giving way to country dogs. Still, the two of them kept pushing the pace into the mid- and high-20's.

Until Rex came up to a big left turn at a dairy, where he stood up on his pedals and hammered his way up to 30, then 32, then 34, confident that this breakaway would put satisfying distance between himself and his shadow -- aka Howard.

What Rex didn't know was that Howard makes this exact same move every day when riding through this stretch of road, speeding up briefly to face the long, slow climb leading to a sharp right turn a half-mile down the road. So Howard, who was already thinking he might catch Rex with this maneuver, at least kept the gap at the same 30 yards.

But Rex, thinking he had finally dropped Howard, no longer looked back. Another mile down the road, Rex finally eased up to relax and stretch. And that's when Howard blew past Rex, who briefly remounted a charge for another mile, before fading into the distant horizon of Howard's rear-view mirror.

Another one bites the dust.

Then Howard continued on for another 20 miles, albeit at a more sustainable pace.

*Rex is Howard's pet name for all cyclists who are delusional enough to think they're better riders than Howard. The name comes from the Tyrannosaurus Rex, who had massively muscled legs, but wimpy twigs for arms -- the standard physique for Seriously Serious Cyclists. Howard is almost Rex-ish, but he religiously does 70 pushups every morning to avoid this terrible fate.