Tuesday, October 22, 2013

'The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.'

Getting on the Levee
 'The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.' -- Mark Twain

It goes without saying that I don't need to be wandering alone into the Black Pearl in the predawn hours without a good reason. A couple of times a week I bite my lip and venture a block or so into the northern end of the neighborhood to collect Big Rich for the ride. If I pull into his driveway between 6:00 and 6:04, Rich is never present, but I'm inevitably met with a view of his open garage, chock-full of bikes -- both vintage and the latest, lightest carbon jobs. His chosen ride for the day has already been removed from it's designated spot in a stand or on the wall and placed outside the garage -- airing I guess. At 6:04, precisely 6:04, Rich emerges (still chewing on something), selects a pair of shoes from a crowded shelf, and sits on a little bench against one wall to put them on. The famous geothermal feature in Yellowstone, named for its predictability, is less predictable. This is Big Rich. This is his routine.

Today, I found his garage closed. 
Apparently,  the "weekend" part of Parents' Weekend at fancy New England prep schools means something other than the traditional two-day respite between workweeks. 

At the start Vega requested an online dictionary or footnotes be included if I insisted on using big words in this blog. Overhearing Vega's comment, Bryian Robert Baum said, "You blog? What's the address?" The engineer piped up, rattling off a web address that Baum was unlikely to retain.

So I said, "Why don't you give me an email address, Brian, and I'll send you a link."

"Oh, you'll never remember it," he responded. "I might, what is it?" I said. "No, you'll never remember it," he insisted.

"What is it?," I asked with slightly more business in my voice. Now I'm thinking, what could it be: FaStBiKe4578@getagreatdealsonrealestate.com. So, he finally relented: "Brian Robert Baum at gmail dot com," he said. That's it? Really? His name at the world's most popular free web-based email service. Some might argue Ronnie Schmitt (may he be at peace) was overconfident in my mental acuity, but I share a lot of genetic material with two siblings, one a physician who has spent his career telling brain surgeons when to stop cutting and another, an engineer, who worked for more than  a decade on algorithms1 designed to shoot down missiles with other missiles. At minimum, enough of them ended up as part of me for me to remember a name. Just then the engineer pipes up again, "Is that Brian with an i or a y?"

We waited an extra minute or so for Randy, who didn't show, and then set out into the darkness.

Right away I didn't like the make-up of the smallish group. Nothing orange but mostly strong guys. I looked at Vega and he said, "I have to turn early today." Yeah, right. We met no one on the way to the playground, but as we approached, I could see the lights from a single bike climbing the levee. I started a little internal chant: I hope its Keith, I hope its Keith, I hope its Keith. Turned out to be HL.

Grupetto at First Light
You know the rest. HL began his familiar games. Going past Williams, the flags looked as stiff as plywood pointed at the river. Nevertheless, people were blithely2 pulling off to the south. I had been screaming PULL RIGHT PULL RIGHT PULL RIGHT PULL RIGHT for about 1/4 mile, when HL finally told Triceps Dave to stay put and went around him on the left. It wasn't much later when HL successfully let a gap open and sprinted across. A grupetto was born. Robert happened to be on the back at the time and flew by me four mph faster than the rest of us were going, yelling, "Come on." It looked like he might have bridged up, I couldn't really tell. If he did, he was good and cooked because he stopped and turned around just before the Old End.

Vega, Triceps Dave, and I rode in together from the Little Dip.

Huey P. Long Bridge

1. algorithm - n. a set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process.
2. blithe - adj.  showing a lack of proper thought or care, not caring or worrying. -- blithely - adv.

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