Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Winter Olympics: Suggestions

I've been watching the Winter Olympics. Jeez, 6-0 after one period of hockey! It strikes me that there are a number of specialized "sports" that are considered medal worthy. One would think that they have found every obscure non-sport in the world. Nay. I would like to propose Synchronized Skating and Ice Fishing as trial sports. They cannot be sillier than what they're already awarding medals for. Maybe we could have both Modern Synchronized Skating and Classic Synchronized Skating and three or four variations of Ice Fishing - seated, standing, artificial and natural bait !

Feeding Grounds

This is by Tom Haines of the Boston Globe. This is why we're going. This is writing just a tad over the top. I could write like this if I had listened in school. Maybe.

"Sandhill cranes in the hundreds of thousands fuel up, then fly off to the Arctic - all watched religiously.

GIBBON, Neb. - In the moments before daybreak, as braids of river, silty sandbars, and tufts of prairie emerge from darkness, thousands of gray-feathered sandhill cranes are chattering as softly as a snore.
A young eagle, a predator, flies upriver, and it is as though the earth has moved: Several hundred cranes rise in a swarm, their 6-foot-wide wings working mightily, their voices clamoring in alarm. A minute passes, then two, and the frightened cranes descend - long legs dangling, wings held open for a parachute landing - to the Platte River to regain a place among those that did not budge because it is not time.
Time, on this river in the middle of Nebraska and the Great Plains, comes in many dimensions, but none as epic as the spring ritual that has occurred for thousands of years, when migrating cranes stop at the Platte to fatten up before continuing on toward the Arctic."  etc.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Street Music

Last night I received an email from Kurt, in which he accused me of being a "sophisticated Minnesota raconteur". I was a little offended. I checked the dictionary. Up 'til then I thought it had something to do with running a restaurant. He implied I hadn't posted one of his paintings because, "It does not quite fit your current image as a sophisticated Minnesota raconteur." Well, ja. As he puts it, this is a "fun painting". I don't know where the idea came from originally. I believe the only street accordion player I've ever seen was when we visited Kurt in Boulder. Gave the guy 5 bucks. That may have triggered this - I'm not clear of the timing. This obviously should have been posted with my earlier Squeeze Box Throw Down post.

(I should have put aside my pride in working without a net and sketched the hand in pencil first. It is a little awkward, you might even say ... heavy-handed.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

We're packing up the Bausch & Lombs, Leopolds, and Zeisses and heading for Kearney, Nebraska for a few days over Easter. Out in the middle of  Nowhere, Nebraska? Yep. We've booked a guided outing at the Rowe Sanctuary for Easter Sunday morning for our religious experience. This is going to be great!  

Fall on Trout Run Creek

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Big Strike Ends

When I was in High School our community was torn apart by a strike by the United  Packinghouse Workers.  It became ugly and violent, and for a time the city was under marshall law. My classmate, Cheri Register, wrote a book about it, Packinghouse Daughter. Go buy it, Cheri's babies need new shoes. Well, maybe Cheri needs new Birkenstocks.

The following is from today's Albert Lea Tribune.
The caption of this Associated Press photo printed Sunday, Jan. 31, 1960, in the Evening Tribune read: “Solidarity March — This is part of more than 2,000 United Packinghouse Workers union members who marched on Albert Lea Saturday to demonstrate union solidarity. The demonstrators marched along a parade route more than a mile in length.”

Former Wilson & Co. workers speak about an experience that divided the community

Published Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Some had started at the packinghouse right out of high school, others were married with children and yet others had worked at the plant for decades.Before Albert Lea’s United Packinghouse Workers Local 6 gained national attention in 1959 for their involvement with the Wilson & Co. strike, they were average citizens just trying to make a living. But no matter what the experience, each worker was affected in some way, and for many their lives were interrupted. Now, 50 years after the last day of the strike, the Tribune interviewed four former Wilson & Co. workers about their experiences at that time. What led up to the disagreement between the union and the company, what took place during the strike and how was it resolved?  While these four men have agreed to share their stories openly, a few were afraid this article would open old wounds. They said it took years to overcome the experiences they went through.
Here are their stories:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lake Superior Sketch

Gamba + Galmozzi = Gambozzi

Gray areas and absolutes:
This is a Gamba bicycle. It was made by Galmozzi under contract to a bicycle shop in Milan. Then the question is, it a Galmozzi or a Gamba?  It's a Gamba. A hypothetical question, right?

Okay, now you find a bicycle without decals that is a Gamba. You know it is a Gamba because of the pantographed seat post and stem. It is obviously a Gamba, right?

But under the paint of the seat tube is an embossed rooster. The rooster symbol of Galmozzi.  Is it still a Gamba or did it suddenly become a Galmozzi?

Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that you are on Ebay one day and come across a Galmozzi headbadge. If you put that headbadge on the bicycle, Francisco Galmozzi himself would say it was a Galmozzi.  This should have nothing to do with it, but keep in mind that the Galmozzi is collectible, the Gamba less so.

Is it still a Gamba? Or a Galmozzi? Hypothetically. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Team Ski Jumping

Was anyone else disappointed they didn't do it on really long skis with multiple bindings?


Another of Kurt's 35 year old pictures. I recall doing maybe half a dozen of vaguely the same picture in different styles, colors and methods. My brother had a couple, a nice blue one, long ago traded away for a six-pack of cheap beer. This is another large picture (see the double-click), done with a stick dipped in brown india ink. Some of the wash is ink, some is a watercolor wash after the ink had set up a little. Watercolor is can be hard, painting with ink is a real bitch. Which of course is reason enough to do it.

Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics. Okay guys and gals I've going put on my curmudgeon hat for a while. At breakfast Saturday, Lyle said he thought a lot of the Olympic events were just vacation sports. They are what the old European aristocracy did on their vacations - the bobsled, skiing, luge, etc. Going down the hill feet-first on a sled isn't a sport even if you do it fast and call it the luge. What are there, 50 serious lugers in the world? Or then go head-first and call it the skeleton. We have another 50 of those. Tops. Maybe we need a competition in shinny. You don't know what it is? Well, you wouldn't know what the luge was except the upper class old boys decided to give each other medals for it. Then last night my brother-in-law called. It was great to talk to him. His take is that it isn't a "sport" unless a ball is involved or you can measure time or distance. Pretty good definition. (For our purposes I think we can consider a puck or a curling stone a "ball".) Anything that is subjective and has judges, may be entertaining, even beautiful and require great skill, but has no place in the Olympics. It's not sport. I'm sorry, ice dancing and figure skating, when I rule the world you're out. And for chrissake the biathlon belongs in military games, not the Olympics. Thank you all for listening. I feel better now. I gotta go, women's curling is on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chief Joseph

My brother-in-law and friend, Kurt sent some photos of watercolors I did for him 30 years ago. As I recall, this one is fairly large, about life-size, done with sepia watercolor. A photo of a painting of a photo. It was an exercise, one color painted with one brush. I haven't done any painting for 25 years and we don't have any ourselves. They are scattered here and there with friends, relatives and occasionally strangers. Somehow it seems wrong to have them living with strangers, but there were times I needed the money more than the pictures. Maybe it's time to paint a few more before my eyes leave entirely.

Thanks to Kurt for a new shot that picks up the colors more accurately.

Pub & Grub

I suspect the food is good here. There is no hyperbole, no "World Famous" or "The Best ... whatever". It is just a statement of what they have, who makes it and when you can buy it. The most extreme example of minimalist advertising I've seen was a rib place in rural Kansas. No signs. The only clues were the cars parked out front, the split wood stacked along the side wall and smoke billowing from a tall pipe out back. The meal was served wrapped in newspaper on long tables covered with kraft paper. No plates. It may have been the best meat I've ever eaten.


Mary McMannus, a.k.a. Maria Guadalupe de Reseda. Found in the same envelope as the preceding post:
She was a waitress at the Town Talk, working for Mabel and Iv. Mostly, the crisp white cotton and gingham apron was a Knallerupp version of the kinky French maid costume. A few years later, Lorna showed up in the same fetching outfit and I married her.


I have no idea what this is all about. I found it in a large manila folder labeled "Silly and Embarrassing Photographs".

Friday, February 19, 2010

Galmozzi and the 47 Pound Rooster

Let's get the 47 Pound Rooster out of the way first. Rex Goliath was a famous carnival sideshow attraction that the Hahn (means rooster) wine company decided to put on the bottle of their popularly priced Pinot Noir - an adequate wine for the money. This has nothing to do with the rest of the entry, other than I was struck by the similarity to the Galmozzi Bicycle logo.

According to Chuck Schmidt,  the famous head badge is actually a play on the maker's name in the form of a rebus: gallo=rooster, mozzi=hub.

Francesco Galmozzi began building bicycles in Milano, Italy in about 1935 (!). The Galmozzi frames are very respected, beautiful as well as fast. They are usually more ornate than typical Italian frames, which lean toward function. Great bikes!

I have never met Rory Mason, a.k.a. Masini in person. We became acquainted because we were both friends of the late Dan Ulwelling, who is responsible for getting us both get interested in vintage lightweight bicycles. Rory has some advantage over me in finding old Italian bikes, as his job with Cannondale and Team Liquigas has him living on the Swiss/Italian border. This has allowed him connections in the bicycle racing world and access to a few more frames than I have stumbled upon here in rural Minnesota. This is what he says: 

Gastone Nencini
"So I'm finally a Galmozzi owner! I went to Florence last week and stopped by a friend's place. He's Gastone Nencini's son and has quite a collection in Prato. Many of you may have purchased from him on eBay. A quick trade and it was mine! It's the first I've seen 'in the flesh'... my size, and it's now mine!"

After an exchange between a couple of people who know way more than I do, it is their opinion that this is a late 60s, maybe early 70s bike. This is a real classic Italian racing bike. There simply isn't a better one to trade up to. This is the Holy Grail. There is a nice story and a link to more photos on his blog, Masini's Breaking Away.
Just a quick note on Gastone Nencini. He was a chain smoker who won both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.  A chain smoker?  Boggles the mind to think what he might have done without the fags.

Louis Prima and Keely Smith

Husband and wife. Aldo Ross just posted this on Facebook. I like.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Officials Please Note

(Image stolen from Alan Wenker.)

The Ethical Dog

Portion of a book review from Scientific American of the book Wild Justice by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce:
"When canids and other animals play, they use actions such as vigorous biting, mounting and body slamming that could be easily misinterpreted by the participants. Years of painstaking video analyses by one of us (Bekoff) and his students show, however, that individuals carefully negotiate play, following four general rules to prevent play from escalating into fighting."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter Olympics and Hills

Lorna tells me that there are more Winter Olympians from Minnesota than any other state. Duh. Mostly hockey players and curlers I would imagine. Today Lindsey Vonn captured her first skiing Gold Medal in the downhill. ("captured a medal", strange choice of words - like you have to corner and net it.)  I mention all this only because I was chided by Jack Gabus about my lack of climbing skills on a bicycle, because "there aren't any hills in Minnesota anyway", or something to that effect. Cindy Nelson, a former Olympic medalist in the downhill, was also from Minnesota. There. are. hills. And I can't climb them.
I saw the local news tonight. The bars on Buck Hill, Lindsey's home hill, were filled with every skier in Minneapolis. And they all appeared to be drunk. But uff da, wait til hockey's on. You betcha that'll fill da bars in nordeast and southside Minneapolis, and way up on da range. Them there hockey fans, dey can drink ya know!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Tom Sanders McLean #M26081

The Tom Sanders McLean Touring was completed by McLean Fonvielle on August 26, 1981. The tubing is Reynolds 531, the standard of the time. It has clearance and eyelets for fenders if you were to chose to mount them. The components are NOS Campagnolo Nouveau Record and Super Record  - a nice triple crank. Nice little touches like the matching toe clip straps. This appears to be a wall hanger. It doesn't look like a pedal has ever been turned in anger since the restoration. Just a gorgeous piece. As Tom says, "The quickest way to get a $1500 bike is to put $2000 into a restoration." His point is well taken, but I think $1500 is a little light for this one. Following is a note from Tom with one obvious censure by myself. No point in kicking a dead dog (unless Tom wants to):
It came from the Atlanta area.  A gent put it up on E-Bay.  He had been wheelchair bound for years and it had been rotting in his basement.  It was a mess…one of the worst of the ---------- paint jobs and improper decals. When they screw up a bike it can get really bad. The guy paid some bike sop to professionally pack it and when I got it, it had just been tossed in a box with absolutely no packing at all.  What a mess!   I was somewhat inexperienced (my first full restoration) and I brought it back from the dead with McLean’s favorite color paint and decals from his widow, vie Dale, and I replaced every screw, nut and bearing with NOS stuff.  I really over restored the bike.  It was basically a new bike with an old but restored frame.  I no longer go to these excessive lengths. At any rate it came out beautiful.  The heart cut outs perhaps indicate it was built for a woman, according to Dale. One of McLean’s biggest dealers was a woman (I think in N.C.) who owned a bike shop.  May be some connection there.


Waits and Deville

I've been thinking about Tom Waits, whether I'm wrong. After holding my feet to the fire, I still don't know. I do know how I am affected. No one cares but me. I have been struck by how similar Willy Deville and Waits can sound, although not so much on this one. While Deville was not so much a pure songwriter, I think I'll stick with him.

The Morgan Runabout

Some time ago I posted a couple of entries about Morgan motorcars. One was comparing (wrongly) my Mooney to a Morgan, and another on the head of the company, Charles Morgan racing his cars. Today The Selvedge Yard has the first entry of a history of Morgan with some nice pictures.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Addio Pantani

This is a repost of Aldo Ross's thoughts on the death of Marco Pantani, the Pirate. It is beautiful writing - writing I wish I could do. I can't, so I borrow, I steal. It's fairly long, so I won't post it all. Just follow the link.

(Aldo Ross, from Febraury 16th, 2004)
The news arrives in Italian: "Addio Pirata" (what do they mean?). It takes a few moments to grasp... "Marco Pantani is dead" I stare into the computer screen. The climber of a generation has left us at 34.

He was the answer to an old desire to witness, in my lifetime, a pure climber swift and aggressive enough to win the Tour de France.

He was the rider I’d secretly wished to be, a quiet hero who won in the mountains where each rider is stripped of pretense and illusion as their legs give sworn testimony before the court.

No secret to his tactics; road goes up, Attack and attack and attack. Stand and sprint until the tempo drops, then stand and sprint again.

The beauty of that cadence - the dance of the mountains - piercing the clouds with a cutlass-edged gaze.

A grimacing visage, peering through a river of sweat, soaked to the skin by the fog and mist, vivid colors becoming clearer as he approaches the peak.


2010 L'Eroica

Coming Oct 3. This one is on my bucket list. I know at least a couple readers are riding this year. Maybe some year we can have a McLean team. What a kick that would be, a whole team of guys trying to pull my fat ass up the hills. 

The Damned Fool

Gene Linde died. As he got older he liked to travel to the far corners of the world and drink with strangers. They say he was at a party in Florida last week, passed out and never regained conscientiousness. It was probably his severe diabetes, which he completely ignored. His back was shot. He drank too much. You could see he was dying. Gene wouldn't listen. He owned 20 houses, but he wouldn't spend a dollar on a doctor. A couple of years ago he stopped over to the house. He had fallen and hit the back of his head the day before. He was trembling, his speech was slurred and there was blood draining from his ears. He wouldn't go to the emergency room because he had $5000 deductible! He could be aggravating as hell, but he was the first person there to help when you needed it. Why didn't the damned fool take care of himself? The damned fool.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Gabus McLean #M17110

The Jack Gabus McLean #M17110. Completed by McLean Fonvielle on November 17, 1980. As always, another beautiful McLean frame. All Italian materials. The tubing is Columbus SL/SP rather than Reynolds 531 and it appears to be all Cinelli fitments. The build is classic Campagnolo Super Record except for the modern functional clipless pedals. Nice classic Concor seat, another Italian touch. Note the colored stone set into the brake caliper matches the paint color, and the wraps pick up the red of the graphic trim. Little things that make it a standout.

Fog, Frost and Snow Snakes

It is a beautiful still morning in Oakwood. With temperatures moderating into the twenties, a misty fog has descended to frost the twigs and evergreen tips. I'm going to state something now that is apparently completely illogical. Fog seems to absorb sound in the same way that snow does. Outside we were only able to communicate with hand signals. The silence was deafening.

Evolution is amazing. Nature will fill niches in the environment that we don't even recognize. Who could have predicted the evolution of the Northern Snow Snake? These wonderful tree climbing reptiles come out and forage for a few days in late winter, then breed and return to their burrows until the next season. They are are shy, retiring creatures, usually found only in deep hardwood forests and overgrown wood lots. I consider myself  lucky to catch a glimpse of one and be able to snap a quick picture to share. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Janis and Others

At times, particularly during Berg family get togethers, my life can get very confusing. My wife is Lorna Berg, my sister, Lona Berg. My daughter is Adena Berg, my niece Athena Berg. This accounts for 4/5ths of the females in my family. Only Jamie has a straight forward, unconfusing name.
This one is for Athena. While Joplin was maybe not as pretty as she is, there is something about Janis that always reminds me of her. Part of it is looks, part, maybe inner soul. Janis slightly rearranged the original Rogers and Hart song from 1935. It was a 40 year old song when she sang it 35 years ago. 75 years. Some things don't change much do they?  "Legendary" at 25? That is a lot of pressure for a kid. She looks so tiny and fragile. And of course she was, and within a year she was gone, gone like a supernova..

Athena, I haven't forgotten. Our date is still on. Lorna has our wheels this weekend. I'll be in touch soon.

It Ain't Stealin', It's Borrowin'

Gimme a Penny
("borrowed" from Jon Hamachi)

The Bill Kloos McLean

Bill Kloos is the newest member of the M.O.G.s, the McLean Owner's Group, an organization that doesn't actually exist, but should. Maybe it should be S.H.M.O.G., the Silk Hope - McLean Owners Group. Okay, we'll let the Silk Hope guys drink too, even though they are a little uppity about having Silk Hopes rather than McLeans. I have noticed that they have no compunction about putting McLean transfers on their downtubes though.

This frame was in tough shape when Bill bought it on Ebay. With a little guidance from Dale Brown he selected the color and had it refinished by Franklin Frames. Nice job. The frame is similar to mine, except the seat stay ends have a different treatment and lugs are investment castings, rather than stamped steel. Most old bicycle experts could tell us what brand these are, but I can't. Maybe Cinelli.

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the built up bike.

True Romance Lives

This touching Valentine was made by Bruce Andersland with a tractor and manure spreader full of cowshit from the purebred Simmentals that his wife Beth raises. Lorna will be celebrating our Valentine weekend by spending it a hundred miles away shopping with her sisters. I'll celebrate by staying home and not shopping. We'll be thinking of each other though, or shopping or old bicycles. What the hell, she got a new car with 4-wheel drive and a leather ass heater. I know it's not a half mile cowshit heart, but it's pretty romantic in the overall scheme of things.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Smuggler's Waltz

I'm not a huge fan of Tom Waits.  To me, he forces it a too much, trying a little too hard to be hip and cool. That may be the unhippest thing there is, being something you aren't. Every once in a while I have to cut him some slack, cut myself some slack, open my eyes and ears. This is Waits being Waits. I think. Jonny posted a fuzzier version of this the other day, which was maybe more effective. We need a little variety in our lives.

Sammi Smith

Sammi loved them cigarettes. They killed her dead young - nails in her coffin. Maybe they added a nice little rough to the top edge of her voice though. She was probably the only woman who was an Outlaw. If you take the pedal steel out of the mix, she probably wasn't even country. She and Patsy Cline - jazz/blues singers dropped into the middle of a country western song. There's a great version of Haggard's Today I Started Loving You Again out there on the Tube, but the visuals are so sappy I won't post it. Go look if you need to. Personally I'm not crazy about pedal steel, but who the hell could ever think that The Nashville Strings looped and dubbed over the top of Sammi Smith would be an improvement? Jeez, hell must be full of producers. A little country soul and a jerk host below:

On Farmers, Pickups and Cowboys

My first vehicle was a dark green 1947 Chevrolet pickup. Like typical farm trucks of the time it had wooden stake sides. Quite often there was a shovel sticking up from one front corner of the box and a broom from the other.  I only mention the stake sides because of the signage. It was summer break and my friend Margadant was doing a little work for us. He was the one that painted the words  The Berg Outfit  on both sides of the racks. I think he wanted to paint it on the doors, but that's where I drew the line.

I must digress here. The Old Man was theoretically a crop farmer, but his version of farming was to make a lot of decisions and then hire other people to do the actual work, the heavy lifting. He and his sidekicks, Big Don and Christy, drank coffee, drove around in pickups, played in their gravel pits (quarries), and figured out ways to buy more land with other people's money. PMA + OPM. Positive Mental Attitude plus Other People's Money. He was pretty good at it and eventually went into the land thing full time. Margadant and I were just a couple of the heavy lifters. The issue with the Old Man was that in our agrarian community hard physical labor was highly valued; it was more Christian than the Old Man's version of work. If you didn't sweat, you were probably a crook. One of Margadant's family friends asked him what he was doing for work. When he told her, she sort of sneered, "Oh! you're part of that  Berg outfit!"  Well, he liked being part of the Berg Outfit, so he painted it on our old truck as advertising.

Yesterday  I drove the 1999 Ford Ranger, a dusty bronze step-side with the off-road package, down to the dealer and picked up the Honda. The Honda seems to be a fine machine, certainly more sophisticated than the Ranger, but it isn't the same. It's been a long time since I have been truckless, and as an old farm kid, I feel less a man without one. In an old James Garner movie, Jack Elam says, "First I lost my saddle, then I lost my gun. Eventually I lost my horse, but I'm sober now".  It's morning and I'm a cowboy without a horse.

Please Help Haiti

This one isn't going to break the bank. Just take that coffee can of loose change from the closet, the one where you throw your pocket money.  Take it to the bank and cash it in. They'll count it. You might be surprised at how much it is. Paypal that amount to some Haiti children's aid group. Round it off to the high side. Throw a little extra if you want. Your choice. Haiti has never had a chance. These people are our neighbors. They are us. I have the feeling that if those beautiful tan, brown and black people were a pasty pink like I am, our government would have truly helped them a hundred years ago. No comments please. This is not a political forum. I do not  want to get into a discussion about how much we have done for them. I 'm talking about health and education, not invading and propping up puppet governments. I won't write any more about this. Thank you for considering it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Owl Crap

This is a bunch of lightweight, dare I say, "crap"? So why am I posting it?  Just because it was made by a nerd dropout in his parent's basement up the road in Owatonna, Minnesota.  Owatonna is 33 miles away, but keep in mind, there is nothing between here and Owatonna worth noting except the Hope Creamery, so it's kind of local.  23 year old Adam Young, a.k.a. Owl City, has sold a shitload of his LP, Ocean City. Fireflies hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the most downloaded song on iTunes.  I still think it's crap, but more power to the kid. He's still young, maybe someday he'll find Robert Johnson and be reborn in a more perfect form.

Oakwhite Oakwood

Winter has a terrible purity about it. Beautiful and uncompromising. The East Coast is getting pounded right now and they are ill-equipped to deal with it. Here in the hinterlands we just go on with our lives as best we can, though I must admit that half the houses in Oakwood are vacant right now. People get soft in their old age and have a tendency to migrate toward the sunshine in winter.

Looking out the bay window toward the lake.
Down Oakwood Drive past Chesterman's.
Note: this is after the lane is plowed!
Back up the hill to 1410.
"The Shack" next door, where Lorna's family summers.

The Warm Moose

It's been snowier than normal this winter. Some people are maintaining this is a sign that global warming is either a mistake or a hoax. I wish it were so. We have to keep in mind that the U.S. is 2% (?) of the earth's surface and our local weather is not a world average. The following is from yesterday's Minneapolis Trib.

By DOUG SMITH, Star Tribune
The bad news continues for Minnesota's moose.
The population of the iconic animal in northeastern Minnesota has declined again, based on the latest aerial survey this winter by the Department of Natural Resources.
Reasons for the decline are uncertain, but researchers continue to believe a warming climate is responsible. Minnesota, already at the southern fringe of the moose range, apparently is becoming inhospitable for the large animals. Moose are extremely heat-sensitive, and temperature readings in Ely show over the past 48 years, average summer and winter temperatures have increased substantially.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cars, Trucks and Cute Little SUVs

Today Lorna traded our Ford Ranger pickup in on one of these, a Honda CR-V 4WD EX-L.  The primary requirements were that it had 4-wheel drive and had heated leather seats to treat her bottom with the respect it deserves - and it wasn't my pickup. She passed on the $2000 navigation option. I think it was a good choice and it will suit her well. People living in more temperate climes may think 4-wheel drive is an unnecessary luxury. Given the street we live on and our region, it isn't.  My back hurts right now from pushing our neighbor's new sleek black Lincoln front-wheel drive something or other, which was stuck solid in the middle of the lane. It was hung up on the 4-6" of snow that unexpectedly turned into 10-12" on 4" of ice ruts, and it's still coming down.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

McLean and the Performance Catalog

I was given the 1982 Performance Bike Fall -Winter catalog along with some other old brochures by Dan Lestrud one rum addled evening a few months ago. This is rather poignant, as McLean Fonvielle died suddenly at the age of 29, before the catalog was distributed. I am posting it because of an email I received from McLean's close friend, Dale Brown, who was unaware of the catalog . Below is page six of the catalog and a clip from the email:

Re: the Performance brochure ... That was an interesting turn of events, for McLean Fonvielle to decide to offer his frames through the mail order process.

Although I had functioned for a while earlier as his representative to bike shops in the eastern seaboard, I was out-of-the-loop in that decision, but would be interested to time travel and see what lead up to that circumstance.

As background, McLean custom frames had been distributed to bicycle shops around the USA by a company named Cycle Imports in Cornish, Maine. Bob and Judy Richmond operated that business and when McLean bikes appeared at the NY International Bike show (maybe twice) it was in the Cycle Imports booth. They also imported Charles Roberts, Stan Pike (albeit briefly) and a wide range of components including TA, Campagnolo, etc.

(Jack Gabus recently acquired Judy Richmond's personal McLean frame which had become over the years somewhat rough, and rehabbed beautifully as a gift for his wife...)

In any case, there must have been a break down in the relationship with Cycle Imports, as having the bikes in Performance would not have enhanced that distribution channel... It was erhaps no coincidence that there was a great friend, 
Chuck Lewis, a mentor who had earlier run The Clean Machine, a local bike shop, working for Performance, so maybe McLean thought this new (at that time) mail order concern would do a proper job of representing the marque? It would be fun to ask Chuck about that.

Obviously, had I the opportunity, I would have advised him otherwise, because even then, mail order was the despised nemesis of all local bike shops, and this move would have alienated most of his shops, probably even cause many to no longer offer McLean frames.

So, in short, it was quite a shake up in approach to see McLean frames in that catalog.   It is more than ironic that none were ever sold through that means....

-Dale Brown

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wolves and Bison

I love wolves. I love their loyalty, their no compromise character. I love the no bullshit look in their eyes, that cold stare that looks right into your soul. It is hard to believe they are first cousins to my dumb, groveling pug dog, Bud. Margadant's been posting wolf studies on his blog and in emails. I was thinking about that when I posted a comment to mw's bison photo on Facebook. When I proofed it before pulling the trigger, I liked the way it inadvertently fell out on the page ... er, screen. I thought it was worth a haiku, but alas, I find I am lacking the skills to pare down the thought to it's essence.

thundering bison
predatory eyes of wolves
tending the gene pool


With the last update from Google/Blogger I cannot post comments to my own blog. I don't know if it's their glitch or if I have to change a setting somewhere. In the mean time, just because I don't respond to your comments doesn't mean I don't love you. If something screams for response, I'll just add a note to the bottom of the original post in a trick color.

While you're here and I have your attention, send me any bike pictures, fish pictures, food pictures, music links, anything that you think we might like and I'll post them.

Also, if you post an anonymous comment, put down your initials so we can keep track of which anonymous it is. If you really want to be under the radar, fake the initials, but be consistent with them.

Thank you,
the Management


I don't know if Albert Lea was typical, I suspect it was. Fifty years ago there were small grocery stores within walking distance of most housewives. In the older neighborhoods that put stores about eight blocks apart. Obviously that model no longer makes sense, but somehow in the back of my mind I can't shake the feeling that depleting energy sources are going to change the rules again. Maybe fifty years from now a typical office worker will work most days at home. And once a week or so they'll bicycle into the office, or maybe to a nearby grocery store now and then. Right now, I wish the grocery store was closer.

The last couple of blocks to my house is not bicycle friendly right now. I was kind of whining to myself as I walked the bike up the hill. Halfway up I met George Saunders shuffling down the ice rutted lane with his cane (we don't have sidewalks). Now, George is in his 80s with severe tremors and a cane even on good surfaces. I said, "Damn, George, isn't it kind of tough for you walking on these streets?" "Yeah, but I got these," his voice wavering like an old Hepburn, and he showed me the little studs on the bottom of his boots and stick. We talked for a while. By then I had forgotten about how unfair the world was treating me. I wheeled my grocery wagon on home, put things away, and had a poppyseed kolache and a cup of coffee. Life is truly good.

Chad, Just as I pulled up I shifted unto the big gear just for you and the photo op. ;-)


For Jon and Abe. Ingebretson's is a Scandinavian deli that is surrounded by a gritty inner city neighborhood populated by every color of human being on earth, even a few of the pale pinky Scandinavians. This guy is dynamic. (Nick's Meats in Hayward, Mn might be better, but they aren't on YouTube and their selection is more limited.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

McLean Completed

Now I wait for sunshine and dry roads so I can get it dirty. Right now I have to go put the sheets back on the bed.