Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The local weather guys said we had a 50% chance of snow late Wednesday afternoon. "Only fifty percent?" I thought. "I'll ride to work and probably miss it."

The snow started just after dawn. As I write this after lunchtime, it's accumulated a couple of inches. Several co-workers offered me a lift home, but I declined. Predictably, my daughter called with the same offer. She worries too much.

Now, remember, a CycleDog is one sick puppy. I'm actually looking forward to riding in the snow. It's about 25F, so it should be nice and dry, with fair traction. I'm gonna have fun!


The ride home really was fun! The roads were mostly snow-covered, but the temperature was at that ‘in between’ stage, where the snow wasn’t truly dry. yet wasn’t wet and slushy either. It was almost like paste. Sure enough, it glued itself inside my fenders, adding LOTS of rolling resistance. I had a tail wind, but the going was still hard. I felt like I was riding uphill all the way home. A heart rate monitor would have been useful because I was breathing hard!

Now, if I were a real flahute rather than an imaginary one, I'd ride to work through the snow tomorrow morning. But I'm not a big fan of riding in the dark in bad weather. We all draw the line somewhere when it comes to perceived risk, and riding in the dark when it's raining or there's snow on the road is mine.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Road maintenance

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tulsa County crews removed most of the sand from the Bird Creek bridges on Mingo Road. During the ice event two weeks ago, they applied tons of it, and it formed almost a small beach on the roadside.

But coming home today (into the wind at about freezing!) I found that the sand was largely gone, except next to the bridge parapets.

This is a good use of taxpayer money, because the sand can be re-used, and removing it from the roadway increases traction for motor vehicles and cyclists alike.

Thank you Tulsa County Road Maintenance!

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

A rainy Saturday...

I rode to work only twice this week, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday had ice and snow on the roads, but although there was still ice over the Bird Creek bridge those days I commuted, it was still passable. The bridge is one lane and probably close to a quarter of a mile across. There were two tire tracks and I rode in them. Trust me, skinny tires do not like to encounter deep snow or ice!

But I felt puny Thursday and Friday. I've been getting leg cramps at night and it's difficult to sleep. Experience has taught me that the cramps come from dehydration and fatigue, so I'm trying to stay hydrated. That means drinking a tall glass of water before bed, and that means another sleep interruption in the middle of the night. I can't win.

The other thing that helps to avoid cramping is keeping my legs warm, so I'm sleeping in sweatpants. Actually, even on a warm day, my legs will cramp if they're subjected to a sudden temperature change. So I pay attention to wind speed and direction. I can be nicely warmed up, turn into the wind, and the muscles cramp.

Usually, it's the left one that cramps. It was broken in a car crash back in 1983. The tibia was held together by a stainless steel plate that ran from just below the knee to just above the ankle. The center section was a bone graft. It was broken again in another crash about 10 years ago. The leg works well as a barometer, and I can predict the weather with fair accuracy.

So that brings us to this rainy Saturday. What to do? What to do? I awoke early, partly due to the aching, and partly due to one of the elderly cats who decided she'd gone without attention for too long. She sat in the bathroom howling until I got up. We are not on good terms just now.

The house is cold, so I'm having another cup of coffee. It's my inspiration. The Wally Crankset stories come from an over-indulgence in caffeine, as my feverish imagination spins along on a tidal wave of coffee. Fritz gave me an idea for a story, but it may be a while before I get around to writing it.

Meanwhile, here's a piece from the Red Dirt Pedalers newsletter:

Stoopid advice for cyclists.

We’ve all encountered well meaning but uninformed people who, when they discover we’re cyclists, suddenly become wellsprings of ‘advice’ about road riding. Now, many of these folks haven’t been on a bicycle since their grade school days and their learning curve flat lined back then. In fact, most of the advice I’ve received this way came from various elderly relatives. It’s respectful to listen carefully, nod sagely now and then, and wait for them to tire out and take a nap.

Come to think of it, that’s the strategy my own kids employ these days.

“Ride facing traffic.” I’ve read of an alleged bicycle ‘safety’ movie from the 50s or 60s that preached this dubious advice. But I’ve never seen it or even seen a title for it. Yet many people claimed they were exposed to this in school, along with duck and cover drills, and the CONELRAD system. If you don’t know what these are, you’re just too young.

I broke this rule once, riding against traffic for miles as I searched in vain for my lost wallet. Eventually, the wallet returned in the mail, sans cash and credit cards. Some of my jerseys now have Velcro tabs to keep the pockets closed. Sure, there used to be some elastic there, but it’s long gone. Elastic and I fight an on-going battle. The elastic always loses. This is why I prefer shorts with drawstrings. It prevents surprises for motorists and confrontations with the local constabulary.

“Ride on the sidewalk/on the trail/in the bike lane.” The unstated corollary is, “Don’t ride on MY road!” For cyclists themselves, this is often coupled with the you-can’t-get-there-from-here mentality, as in, “You can’t get there from here ‘cause there’s no bike lane!” If I’d followed this ‘advice’, I wouldn’t have been able to reach my grandmother’s house with all those cookies, pies, and fresh-baked bread. And she would have been deprived of another chance to tell me about the dangers of riding a bicycle on the road. I couldn’t deny her – or the cookies – that opportunity.

“Ride like you’re invisible.” This is the worst of the lot! Imagine telling a motorist to drive like he’s invisible. He’d yield to any traffic that could pose a conflict. He’d slow and stop unpredictably in response. He’d be a nuisance and a danger to those around him. So why advise a cyclist to do so?

Instead, tell him to ride like a big, pudgy guy with baggy shorts and change falling from his jersey pockets. Motorists notice people like that. Maybe they just notice the money. My own daughter, for instance, could spot a loose quarter falling from my pocket nearly a hundred yards away, and I think she’s fairly typical. A twenty-dollar bill would show up on her radar screen at over a mile.

But those sagging, just-about-to-fall-off shorts are the real attention getters. Motorists want to look away. They really do! But they simply can’t tear their eyes away from what could be a major catastrophe. It’s like watching a really bad horror movie, simultaneously hoping it will get better and fearing it won’t. It’s an experience both fascinating and painful, like watching Paris Hilton try to act. And the best part is when it’s over.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Higher ED: A Wally Crankset Tale

(1FEB2007 via Bogus News Service)

The University of Northeastern Oklahoma announced a startling breakthrough in erectile dysfunction (ED) research that was recently completed at the extension campus in Broken Elbow. Doctor Walter Crankset conducted a longevity study involving a large group of local cyclists in an effort to discover if bicycle saddles did indeed cause erectile difficulty.

Dr. Crankset was surprised to discover that many other common objects may contribute to ED, not just bicycle saddles. Many of the subjects took piano lessons as children, and Dr. Crankset speculated that those hours sitting on a hard piano stool contributed to ED later in life. Likewise, a significant majority of the test group spent long hours sitting on barstools and hard church pews, and they too may have been factors.

The full results of Dr. Crankset's study will be released in the April edition of the Oklahoma Medical and Veterinary Review.

It was a bleak winter afternoon as I leaned my bike up against the wall and entered Larry's Cafe. I was glad to get out of the wind and cold. There was an arrow stuck in the front door, which struck me as slightly odd since it wasn't hunting season. Wally occupied his usual spot at the bar. "They've cut my funding for next year!" he moaned. "What am I gonna do?"

Larry just rolled his eyes. He spotted me in the doorway, and felt it was safe to leave Wally in my care. Besides, Wally was feeling sorry for himself and Larry probably wanted to get away. Had he been a muskrat, Larry would have gladly chewed off a leg. I settled onto the barstool next to Wally.

"What am I gonna do?" he wailed again.

"Wally", I said, "Tell me what happened."

He alternated between telling me about the university's inquiry into his work and some gentle sobbing on his own behalf. But I managed to glean the thread of the story. It seems the faculty committee in charge of Wally's research concluded that his work was not only unprofessional, it was unethical as well. The meeting was heated, with charges of misconduct and malfeasance on one side, and accusations of idiocy, retardation, and sexual inadequacy on the other. Wally reveled in hurling insults. The word "felony" even came up a few times. But the faculty finally dropped the bomb and reduced his research funds to zero.

With Wally, all this is merely a normal day. It's a rare week that doesn't include some confrontation with an authority figure, whether it's police, the military, or one of his former spouses or girlfriends.

"They even looked into my academic credentials and claimed some of them were fraudulent", Wally complained.

He'd showed me his degree once, and although it was an impressive bit of printing technology, I was very doubtful that the Universidad de Jose Cuervo existed on this planet outside Wally's imagination. Worse, "Mexico" was spelled wrong.

"Where's 'Mixico'? " I'd asked, but Wally never answered. It didn't speak well for the university since they'd accepted his ginned-up transcript and degree without any serious questions.

I'd warned him that a recruiting poster featuring "hookers, guns, and firetrucks" was probably not the most professional way to go about attracting volunteers for his test study. It turned into a 4 day party that could have gone much longer except for the arrival of all those state troopers. "Yeah", Wally said, "It was a great weekend!" His gaze was unfocused as he recalled some especially sordid moment. He'd blown most of the budget on this dubious 'study'. The mini baby boom in Broken Elbow nine months later would make his conclusions highly suspect.

The cops hauled the party-goers to the Broken Elbow jail which was far too small to contain the crowd. Most of them made a jail break by the simple expedient of leaving through the back door and going down the alley to Larry's. The troopers caught us almost immediately, of course, but decided to leave us inside the cafe because it was bigger than the jail and had fewer breakables. Besides, Larry could keep the crowd orderly between mild threats of turning off the juke box, or resorting to the 'death penalty' - refusing to serve any more drinks. We toed the line.

A thought occurred to me. I turned to Wally and asked, “How did the study results get in the newspaper?”

“Oh, that was Suzie. She's the department secretary and she's really a sweet girl”, Wally replied. “And she REALLY hates the department chairman!” His eyes got that far-away look again. I knew better than to ask why.

Wally re-joined the present and started in on a tale involving some of his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends who carried well-deserved grudges against him. Fortunately, only a few of them were proficient with firearms. But in a small town like Broken Elbow, it was inevitable that they'd know one another, and eventually they coalesced into a loosely organized club devoted to making Wally's life miserable without actually killing him. They decided to try archery since it's more sporting and less likely to inflict lethal wounds.

That explained the arrow stuck in Larry's front door. Actually, in Larry's' on a Saturday night during hunting season, stray bullets and arrows weren't uncommon. Sammy-The-One-Eyed-Mule-Deer could testify to that - if he were alive. He was a trophy from one of Larry's hunting trips. Sammy's head hung on the end wall surrounded by well-aimed pockmarks from well-aimed misses. No one wanted to deliberately scar Larry's magnificent mule deer, until some out-of-towner shot out Sammy's left eye. The poor unfortunate was forever banned from the premises. Since he was deep in his cups, the local crowd removed his cars keys and rifle. And for good measure, they removed most of his clothing except for his boots and a pair of bright green "Kiss me - I'm Irish" boxer shorts the guys thought were highly amusing. They've always been kinda sentimental about shamrock prints. The city slicker was thrown out the front door where he promptly vanished into the night.

Wally gave Sammy a long, thoughtful stare and started speaking very slowly, his thoughts progressing along with his words. “You know, that guy we tossed out of here in his boxers. There's a rumor of a wild man up along Fiddler's Elbow Road, who rushes out of the woods at night shouting at passing cars, and he wears only a tattered pair of Kelly green boxer shorts. He's almost a legendary figure, like the Loch Ness monster, or Big Foot, or the Abominable Snowman. I bet we could get funding from the university to investigate that!”

I was skeptical, but the longer he talked, the more persuasive he became. Finally, I was convinced.

“Hell, if those pencil-necked nimrods believe there's a Jose Cuervo University, they'll believe nearly any damn-fool thing!" Wally fairly shouted. We planned long into the evening and did our best to reduce Larry's inventory, but when Wally started playing air accordion and singing 'Lady of Spain' at the top of his lungs, it was time to go.

I borrowed Larry's truck and drove Wally home, dodging a group of lipstick-smeared Apaches on the way.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Alert reader alert!

Fritz spotted a tiny bit of text about my switch to high speed internet. It's true. I've dropped my dial-up account, given up my highly cherished Luddite ways, and switched to a better service. It's wundermas!


No good deed goes unpunished, so I've also lost access from work. Oh, I could use my company e-mail account for bicycle-related communications, but why risk my job? I have this ingrained habit called 'eating' and I'd like to continue it.

Posting may be sporadic until I work out a new routine. In the meantime, entertain yourselves by reading Fritz' blog "Cycle-licious". He says his employer is looking for talent, so some of you might find meaningful work. As for me, I'll just keep banging the rocks together!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On advocacy

Well, I must be doing SOMETHING right! I've been dismissed by facilities-advocate Paul Dorn as hopelessly out of date, demoralized, and ineffective.

Even Paul Tay has weighed in on the issue. Apparently the local bicycling advocacy effort is too elitist and not confrontational enough for his tastes.

Long ago, when I first started writing about local cycling issues, Brian Potter told me that I'd receive both deserved and undeserved criticism. He said that a writer needs to be thick-skinned to deal with it. And he was right.

Bicycling advocacy covers a wide opinion spectrum. Some are happy to receive a bike facility - any bike facility, regardless of its merits - if it gets them away from all those scary cars. Others take the in-your-face approach, deliberately antagonizing motorists and law enforcement through questionable or illegal riding practices. The Tulsa advocacy group has a reasonable, thoughtful approach that tries to overcome ingrained prejudices and ignorance regarding cycling issues, and adheres to the best practices ideas of vehicular cycling. In other words, we try to defeat superstition and ignorance with knowledge and education. This leaves no room for self-aggrandizement, posturing, or political theater.

The popular television show "CSI" has a recurring piece of dialog about "following the evidence." This is appropriate advice for any advocacy group. It's more important to establish what actually works and provides real benefits for the intended users, rather than pursue political agendas, private vendettas, or waste time and money on projects that have no impact on safety. The Tulsa group has a chance to incorporate the current best practices that actually benefit cyclists, rather than repeat the mistakes and failures we've seen elsewhere.

In working with government agencies, it's a good idea to park your ego at the door. Nothing happens quickly in government, well, nothing GOOD anyway. It can be frustrating to deal with various agencies, all of them with conflicting goals or different agendas. I know I've voiced that frustration here from time to time. But things get done when open-minded people work together, putting their differences aside and focusing on a common goal. The key to this is mutual respect, ordinary courtesy, and a commitment to finding the truth at the heart of any issue. Confrontation and antagonism do nothing to accomplish any goal. They're ego-gratifying, but like I said, park your ego outside.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Poodle with a Mohawk...

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Daniel B. has left a new comment on your post "Studded tires...the poor man's alternative":

You really have a poodle with a mohawk? Mr T would be proud. At least that could be assumed, anyway.

One of the highlights of being an old fart is that nearly any comment can spark off a story. We have tons of experiences to fall back on and some of the resulting stories are actually true! Well, more or less.

We don't have a poodle with a Mohawk, though it does provoke a startlingly funny mental image. I think the idea came from an old cartoon, maybe something from a punk band. It was long ago, but the image stayed with me, a snarling poodle with a bright pink Mohawk. If I recall right, full-sized poodles are working dogs or hunters. The miniature ones, the Pierre’s and Fifi’s wandering through suburban hell on their rhinestone-studded leashes, are best reserved as bait for deep sea fishing or perhaps catching alligators. (I won't show this to Mary because I'll be reduced to eating cold food again.)

Don't misunderstand me. I like dogs, especially well-trained ones. But the 'cute' little ankle-biters don't get the training and discipline that's so absolutely necessary with larger breeds.

My friend Hugh and I decided to form the Western Pennsylvania Poodle Hunting Society one evening. We were working late and we'd taken our lunch break at a saloon down the street. After a couple of beers, the idea of hunting poodles with high-powered rifles seemed hilarious. We expanded on the thought back at the shop, where a customer overheard us and asked if she could be a member too. She was a veterinarian! She said the Fifi's and Pierre’s were the nasty, biting dogs in her practice, while the larger ones were well behaved. "If we get a group photo, just put a strip of black tape over my eyes", she said. "I don't want any customers to recognize me!" Maybe she'd had a couple of beers with dinner too.

We had a dog with a bad attitude once. Bambi was a mixed breed, mostly terrier, and like most terriers she could be temperamental. Or maybe it was just mental. One minute she'd be over-joyed to see me come home from work. Five minutes later, she'd growl at me as I walked across the room. She didn't like strangers, other dogs, or children, but her attitude toward kids changed after she found out how good life could be under a high chair. When my kids were babies, we didn't have to worry about cleaning up spilled food. Bambi pounced on it.

Right now, we have 2 dogs and a variable population of cats. Most of these animals show up on the doorstep, stare at Mary to communicate the depth of their hunger, and get invited in for dinner. Sometimes they stay for years. It kinda makes me wonder how I got in the door.

Our dogs are Duchess and Ritz, a mutt and a Boston Terrier. Duchess looks like a sheepdog, with long curly fur that is easily 4 or 5 inches deep. Ritz is a typical Boston Terrier. He adores Duchess, probably because she keeps him warm at night.

The cats range from fur-covered pillows that eat, to those with extensive mob connections. Some of the older ones would gladly spend their days dozing in the sunlight streaming in through the kitchen windows. One of the young cats, on the other hand, will steal your watch, wedding ring, and wallet if she gets the chance. She's a thug disguised as a very pretty, longhaired kitten. The cable guy was here yesterday installing my new high-speed Internet connection. She climbed into his toolbox and tried to make off with some of his tools.

I'm afraid that if anything happens to me, Mary will turn into one of those little old ladies with 53 cats running around the house, all of them with cute names. As it is now, she puts a bowl of cat food out on the porch and feeds every cat in the neighborhood, as well as the occasional dog and two 'possums. She has a well-stocked bird feeder out there, keeping the birds happy. We've had as many as 4 squirrels on the feeder too. Naturally, the birds and squirrels attract a hawk now and then.

So what I’m trying to say is that we have a bunch of animals roaming around here, but none of them have Mohawks. But I have an idea! I think Lyndsay has some mousse in her truckload of cosmetics. I could give the fuzzy, longhaired kitten a Mohawk before Mary wakes up!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Studded tires...the poor man's alternative

The ice in Tulsa is expected to remain until at least Thursday if not later. As I said yesterday, there's 4 to 6 inches of ice on the ground. This stuff is solid enough that our Blazer drove on top of it without breaking through when my daughter got the truck off the driveway. Actually, you can't tell where the driveway ends and the yard begins.

I entertain some fleeting thoughts about riding in these conditions. The ice is cold enough to offer some traction. But I'm put off by local motorists who still don't know how to drive on ice and snow, even after last month's extended practice session. I think it would be fun to try some studded bicycle tires in these conditions.

The Icebike site has an excellet discussion of studded bicycle tires:

The Nokians are very nice, and very expensive. But since I'm, ah, frugal, I'd never spend that much money for tires I could use just once or twice each winter. Years ago, I read that it was possible to make your own studded tires using sheet metal screws and some old, worn-out tires as boots. Supposedly you could take a large diameter road tire, say a 32 or 35 mm, and put sheet metal screws through it from the inside. Then you booted the tire by removing the wire bead from two old tires, probably smaller ones than the studded tires. You cut away the wire bead and put the boot inside the studded tires to protect the inner tube from the screw heads. This would probably be easier to do with mountain bike tires, but I'm a dyed-in-the-wool roadie, and that's just the way I think. In fact, the Icebike page up above has instructions for these “roll your own” studded tires.

Truthfully, I'm skeptical about the idea. Screws are usually made of relatively soft steel. They'd wear very quickly if they encountered concrete or asphalt. So their use would be limited to hard-packed snow and ice. We don't get enough of that here in Oklahoma to justify making up a set of tires. But there's a wonderful street theater image in my head. Imagine a 'Mad Max' machine with long, pointy screws protruding from the tires, ridden by a black-clad cyclist, his black helmet atop a black balaclava. His eyes are covered with black goggles and icicles hang from his beard and mustache. Motorists would stare while stopped at red lights, open-mouthed at such a display of sheer lunacy!

That's why I find the whole idea so appealing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The B-List

Tim the Masi Guy posted a list of bicycle blogs on his page, and the idea is spreading far and wide.

I subscribe to a bunch of blogs via Bloglines. The following list includes only the bicycle-related blogs, not the non-cycling ones. One of the more useful functions on Bloglines is the ability to subscribe to a search. My searches are more local and regional than national. So I read many more than are apparent in this list. You’ll notice I also subscribe to a search for “CycleDog”. That’s an exercise in humility, believe me!

My list changes frequently as I add or remove things.

* Belgium Knee Warmers

* Bicycle Design

* Bicycle Retailer

* Big Guy on a Bicycle

* Bike riding donut guy

* BikeBlog

* Bloglines Search: bbody:bicycle bbody:Oklahoma

* Bloglines Search: bbody:bicycle bbody:tulsa

* Bloglines Search: cycledog

BTA Blog

* Chris Writes.

* Critical Mass OKC

* Cyclelicious

* Cycler's Life

* The Cycling Dude

* Cycling Training Tips

* Dave Moulton's Bike Blog

* Fat Cyclist (0) (0)

* foldable walter (0) (2)

* masiguy

* Oil is for sissies

* Pimp This Town Vote Paul Tay

* Planet Cycling

* Shut Up and Drink the Kool-Aid!

* Spinopsys

* The Stella Scorcher and other Bicycle Projects

* Streetsblog

* Treadly and Me

* Tulsa Indy Gazetter

* Two Cities Two Wheels

* velorution

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INCOG Bicycling Subcommittee

When cyclists encounter a poorly designed section of trail, misleading signage, or a nonsensical intersection, they're tempted to ask, "Who built this piece of **** and wasted my tax money? Why would they do something this STUPID?" It doesn't take much effort to find especially bad examples. Some Tulsa area cyclists have tried to get involved in the planning process in order to extinguish bad ideas before they are quite literally cast in concrete. You'd think that planning agencies would be interested in avoiding some obvious mistakes, and they'd welcome the input from those people who expected to use the facilities. And you’d be wrong.

In Tulsa, we have (or perhaps ‘had’ is the more operative term) a bicycling subcommittee as part of the Indian Nations Council of Governments. INCOG does transportation planning, coordination, and due diligence for regional governments. This subcommittee included local cyclists interested in developing better cycling. I’m a member.

But the subcommittee hasn’t met since last spring. Meanwhile, various bicycle-related projects have been moving forward, all without any input from this committed group of knowledgeable bicyclists. It appears that the subcommittee exists to provide the appearance of citizen involvement without any actual commitment to hearing those pesky citizens. The agencies, INCOG and the various park and public works departments, would prefer to have a simple rubber stamp committee.

The frustration of dealing with agencies determined to go their own way, in defiance of AASHTO guidelines and the city’s own bicycle master plan is readily apparent in the following e-mails. They are re-printed here with the author’s permission.

My term as a subcommittee member will expire later this year. That’s a moot point because it appears the subcommittee will not be meeting. My frustration echoes the points made here by Brian and Gary.

From Brian Potter:

Bicycling advocates should read with an eye for incongruous details the article "Trail's extension is rerouted" by Brian Barber

Some folks have asked me why I no longer participate on the INCOG Bicycling and Walking Subcommittee. Because it is a useless waste of time. (I would define a useful waste of time as running for office without a prayer of winning--to make sure your platform is acknowledged both publicly and politically.)

The above article is a prime example of this waste. The bike lanes planned for Delaware are another. We have spent time working up plans, drawing from our experience and research, only to be ignored. The most embarrassing aspect of the article is that the previously planned "trail" through the Tracy Park neighborhood was purportedly going to use streets and sidewalks. This makes no sense at all. The obtuseness it takes to ignore our previous critiques about sidewalk facilities reflects poorly on the engineers and planners. I would blame the journalist for not knowing the difference between a street, a sidewalk, and a trail. But during our meetings with Public Works a few years ago, I discovered that Director Hardt does not know the difference either.

We asked INCOG and Public Works not to put a trail through the north side of downtown because it would be broken-up by so many cross-streets as to violate AASHTO guidelines (i.e., to minimize crossing traffic). So they decided to put one on the east side of downtown, where it will still be broken up by several cross-streets. The design suggests that the trail will need a giant cross-walk to traverse the extremely wide portion of 11th St. at HWY 75. Well done. Did anyone ask why we need this extension at all?

We consistently asked INCOG not to put a trail where the road can do the service. We asked the city to do the same. This facility will cost $1 million and is completely unnecessary. An on-road route would be a useful service. This project is a waste and a design disaster.

The final insult is a meeting "to inform the public." Gary and I have been to such meetings. No input or feedback from the broader community is seriously solicited--token forms of public comment are accepted to maintain the appearance of democratic social process. A neighborhood association attended by a few individuals is determining transportation design and policy, just as TU, a special interest group, did on Delaware. And Public Works seems to be guided by no particular rationale except the drive to spend public funds and the peculiar will of these individual fiefdoms. An illogical patchwork of meaningless, directionless pavement is the result.

Hats off, Tulsa. In the words of Charles Hardt, "You'll get your trails." Your 2025 tax money at work.

Brian D. Potter
League Certified Instructor #1064
Education Director
The Oklahoma Bicycling Coalition

This is from Gary Parker:

The thoughts Brian expressed were exactly the same as mine as I read the article. If they wanted our input they would have asked for our input. Remember the scope of the design had already been set for the Metropolitan Tulsa Trails Master Plan BEFORE our first input meeting on the plan was even held. The original scope of the design was for off-street trails only. These off-street trails would have required the use of an automobile to access them! It was only after much heated discussion that the on-street connector routes were added.

I agree about what has turned out to be a waste of our time to make bicycling an integral part of the Tulsa transportation system through encouragement, engineering, education, and enforcement. This is also exactly what I discussed with Rich Brierre, INCOG planner, when asked to donate my time to provide input on the Metropolitan Tulsa Master Trail Plan. I said "I was not interested in giving my time for a plan that ended up on the shelf." Well, I guess I know when I have been insulted, huh?

The poisoned fruit of our efforts was revealed at the informational meeting on bike lanes being placed on Delaware for the University of Tulsa. I brought up the point the Tulsa Trails Master Plan called for a share lane on street bicycle facilities, not bike lanes. The moderator acted offended I should have even pointed out this fact. I was quickly given the excuse, and it was an excuse, "This is a 'special exception'". The moderator acted offended! Incredible!

The fact the bicycle working group has not even been asked for input or met for months is the writing on the wall. I believe in our guts we knew what was going on. We knew back at the All Souls Church meeting, we were being "handled." I think that is the unofficial term for what was going on. A nicer description is, "marginalized."

Combined with all of the other fiascos perpetrated on Tulsa citizens under the guise of "planning". It is no wonder the public stays disgusted with the City of Tulsa in general and Tulsa Public Works in particular. The implicit message to the citizens of Tulsa is, "We will be doing plans however WE want. It the way we want to do our jobs. It is the way we will do our jobs. If we really wanted your input we would ask for it. Take the hint. The inconvenience will be all yours." This attitude by our "employees," which is what they are, is, in a word, incredible.

On the other hand the work of Sandra Crisp and others associated with the Community Cycling Project has been outstanding. It is impossible to overestimate the value of the work they have done to the benefit of the individuals who have been through the program. We should take pride in the fact that we were able to have on-street facilities establish at some locations in the city. Further many ordinances that limited acceptance of the bicycle into the transit system were eliminated.

The fact is Tulsa city officials are grounded in a circular argument to the defeat of transit bicycling, and the continued embrace of the automobile and city sprawl. The argument is, “We will support bicycling and defend bicyclists' legitimate rights to the public streets when and only when, we see large numbers of bicyclists using the streets."


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Sunday Musette


It was an interesting week. First, there's the ice storm. Tulsa was hit Thursday, with dropping temperatures and high winds. I would have had a ferocious tailwind coming home that day, but I was hurting, so I chose to drive instead.

The ice arrived Friday morning, starting as a nasty cold rain that froze on contact. It progressed to occasional snow flurries, but mainly involved wave after wave of sleet. It looks like the ground is snow-covered as I write this. It's actually about 4 to 6 inches of compacted sleet, an almost solid layer of ice that I can walk without breaking through. This will last a while.

Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until late in the week. As it looks now, I'll be driving until the roads clear. The cities here have very little snow removal equipment, and this stuff is more like boilerplate. I don't think snowplows would have much effect.

The other news

I wrote that I'd had an interesting ride home on Wednesday. Along 56th Street North, I discovered the remains of a meth lab. Two big plastic tubs filled with chemicals sat in the ditch near the Bird Creek bridge, along with a coffee maker, a microwave oven, some tubing, and other debris. I could see cans of Coleman fuel and the tubs had been carefully placed, not thrown. The leftover chemicals are highly toxic, so I didn't want to approach too closely and I kept the wind behind me. When the cops clean up these dumps, they wear hazmat suits.

I called it in to the Owasso PD, but it was outside their jurisdiction, so they transferred me to the county sheriff's office. The dispatcher took the particulars, then said an officer would be enroute. I waited about 20 minutes, but I was getting cold, so I rode on toward home, passing a TCSO car a few miles later. Apparently there was some dispute about whose jurisdiction this fell into, Tulsa city or Tulsa county, and that's important because the sites are a costly clean up.

By chance, I ran into one of our local librarians the next day at Braum's. She lives just down the road, and she said the cops were there until well after dark dealing with the dump site. I was glad they removed the chemicals before they got into the watershed. She was probably relieved that they didn't affect her family or animals.

And finally, pain.

As I mentioned up top, I've been hurting for about a month. Both knees have been painful, the right one so bad I had to lean heavily on my cane in order to walk. The left one, of course, only hurt when I was riding. I was diagnosed with pseudo-gout some years ago. It's a kind of arthritis that is aggravated by proteins in beer, cheese, red wine, and red meat, and since Thanksgiving I've been over-indulging. Mea culpa. Regular exercise helps since I need more protein, but my diet is the most likely culprit. Well, that, and a complete lack of will power when it comes to good food.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fossil Fish?

Please contact me via email at my spam-trap address: ejwagnerjr/AT/yahoo/DOT/com

I'm working on a deeper piece on lighting for you, with information gleaned from some email lists. First, I need to skim the research material, so it may be a few days.

I've had an interesting day, but that's a story for tomorrow. I'm one tired cyclepuppy just now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A brief intro to bicycle lighting...

“What can go wrong, will go wrong, usually at the most inopportune moment.” Like when it’s dark and raining, for instance. Murphy was a wild-eyed optimist.

Posted by Hurricane Hattie to CycleDog at 4:32 PM

Hurricane Hattie has left a new comment on your post "Road1...continued":

From your Sep. 10, 2006 blog:
"Finally, I heard from several students who've read CycleDog. In fact, one said she was persuaded to try bicycle commuting by some of these posts. I have mixed feelings about influencing people. "

I suspect you mean me. I've been meaning to respond ever since I read this. I read your blog regularly and compose lots of rants, rebuttals and raves as I go down the road. They just never seem to make it to (virtual) paper.

Rants, raves, and rebuttals always seem to come easily when I'm in the saddle, too. The hard part is remembering the best parts to write down later. This is especially true when I've hit on something that strikes me as hilarious, yet when I arrive at home, I can't remember what it was! Maybe that's another manifestation of middle age.

You may rest easy on my account. For one thing I was close to commuting on my bicycle before I ran across your blog and would have done it anyway. You can be sure I did it more safely for having read your blog. Another reason you needn't be concerned is that unless it's extremely cold if I'm not riding my bicycle I'm riding my motorcycle - a Kawasaki ZZR 600. I've been riding a motorcycle as my primary transportation since I was about 15 and I'm several times that now.

One point I've tried to make recently is that a good cyclist, or a good motorcyclist, for that matter, needs to know everything that a motorist would know: rules of the road and best, safe practices, among them. But we need an additional set of skills in order to ride safely in motor traffic. That's the whole purpose of motorcycle skills clinics, and it's the stated purpose of BikeEd.

Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth - the 1970's - I rode a Yamaha RD250. It's very possible that I now weigh more than that motorcycle! I'd love to have another one, but then I'd probably avoid riding my bicycle. And I need the exercise far more than I need a motor bike.

After reading your blog I realized I've ridden a bicycle most of my life and knew nothing about it. I learned enough from your blog to keep me reasonably safe when I started commuting. However, the Road1 class was a godsend! It was such a wonderful class and I learned so much! It was just what I needed. I have since run into a couple of people (literally in one case) on bicycles that would benefit from a Road1 class and volunteered to pay for it if they would go. I hope they take me up on it.

I have found a solution for dealing with people who honk at me. I wave and pretend they know me and were just saying "Hi." I used to let my temper get the best of me and make rude jesters but realized one day I really might know them. Although recently when a lady made a left turn in front of me I chased her down in the Wal-Mart parking lot and had a little talk with her. She seemed to really think bicycles were always supposed to yield to cars. But we got that straightened out.

I'm finally writing because I need help. I will be riding in the dark soon, one of my shifts starts earlier, and I need lights. I've looked around online and there is a vast array of cycle lights available, some of which could be very painful to the wallet. I managed to assemble my winter riding clothes very inexpensively thanks to your blog on winter clothing. Could you write something on lighting? I would appreciate it tremendously.

There's nothing I love more than a plaintive cry for help! But before you read through my take on bicycle lighting systems, just be aware that I've included several links to more authoritative sources, Sheldon Brown, Steven Scharff, and Peter White, at the end of this post. They cover this subject in more detail, and they're better informed than I am.

First, a caveat. I've tried several different light systems, including small, handle-bar mounted units powered by AA or C batteries, cheap bottle-shaped generators, and one expensive (though now obsolete) dual beam unit. All have advantages and drawbacks. The dual beam headlight was the only one I'd trust if I were bombing down a steep hill at 30 or 40 miles an hour. It threw enought light that motorists sometimes thought there was a slow-moving motorcycle on the road!

The battery powered units don't throw as much light, but they're adequate for modestly paced night rides. Currently, I'm commuting behind a Cateye HL-EL300 and a Cateye HL-EL140. The HL-EL300 provides most of the light, while the HL-EL140 operates as a back-up. I'm a firm believer in system redundancy! I don't claim these are the best lights on the market. They were available at Tom's when I needed them. But they do have some nice touches for commuter lights. Both are easily removed at the end of a ride, and the HL-EL140 doubles as a helmet light. It has a versatile mounting bracket and it has a flashing mode.

Generator lights are divided into two groups: very good, very expensive ones, and cheap junk. Shimano and SON make high-end generator hubs that I find very appealing. But just like the HID units, cost puts me off. Cheap bottle generators are little more than kid's toys. Avoid them. The expensive units include some sort of voltage regulator. The cheap ones do not. I had a cheap unit on a commuter bike once upon a time. I was bombing down a hill, going faster and faster as the light got brighter and brighter, until - poof! - it was gone and I was going very fast in the dark.

Before discussing various lighting components, let's cover some basic physics. No math! I promise - sorta.

When we look at lighting systems, there's a bewildering variety of power measurements: watts, candlepower, lumens, candelas, and possibly more. In most cases, comparisons are difficult because while watts indicate input power, the rest are indications of output power. The input power to a device is easy to calculate. Power is equal to current in amps multiplied by voltage. It certainly seems simple. The problem comes in when we consider the efficiencies of different light producing devices. Incandescent lamps are very inefficient, converting input energy into both light and heat. Heat (or infrared radiation, if you prefer) is wasted energy since we can't see it. Light emitting diodes are far more efficient at converting input energy to light, and in fact, heat is a big disadvantage with these solid state devices. If they get hot, they die.

Obviously, an efficient device can either run longer on a given power pack, or it can provide more light over the same amount of time as a less efficient one. For cyclists, this means we can carry smaller,lighter battery packs.

Most bicycle headlights are either halogen lamps or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Halogens may have an edge when it comes to sheer power. They put out more light than a similar LED unit, but they do so at the expense of shorter run times. Remember, halogen lights waste a lot of energy as heat. Halogen lamps are usually replaceable, where LEDs are not. (I'm ignoring HID light units, partly because I know very little about them, and partly because they're stop-your-heart expensive, which is why I know little about them.)

Reflector design can have a great impact on relative brightness - what's apparent to the human eye. The now-defunct Bicycle Guide magazine did a piece on this many years ago. They set up various light systems in a parking garage and photographed the light patterns each unit produced. Some were very tightly focused beams best used for road cycling, while others were broad, diffuse patterns that mountain bikers would like. Producing a well-lit broad light requires a lot of power, but the narrow beams do not. It's all in the reflector assembly. (This is very apparent when looking at beam patterns for auxiliary lights for automobiles, driving lights, fog lights, and some other supplemental lights, for example.) To make it even more confusing, some have broad patterns in close to the headlight, but also produce a narrow beam that illuminates farther out. So a comparison of relative power outputs is meaningless without a comparison of the beam coverage.

Some LED units offer both flashing and steady modes, but the flashing modes may not meet legal requirements everywhere. In Oklahoma, for instance, flashing lights are limited to use on emergency and maintenance vehicles. Still, many cyclists use tail lights in flashing mode and I've never heard of anyone being stopped for it. The basic bicycle lighting requirement here is that you have a white front light, a red rear light, and a red rear reflector. I would strongly advise that you have an amber rear reflector too, one that meets DOT specifications, because it's visible over a greater distance than any red reflector. (Come to think of it, that just reminded me that my amber reflector went missing. Gotta fix that!)

If you go with rechargeable batteries, the choices are usually lead-acid, nicad, or nickel-metal hydride (NIMH). The differences come down to weight vs power output. Lead-acid batteries are relatively cheap, but they're very heavy. Nicads and NIMH batteries can produce equivalent power while weighing considerably less, but they're expensive. Again, it's a trade-off. (I once sat through an engineer's lecture regarding the internal differences between lead-acid and nicad batteries, including the chemical processes. Honestly, while he went on for about 3 hours, I stayed awake for only the first 20 minutes. I could never drone on and on like that, boring an entire roomful of people. And don't listen to my daughter. She lies.)

The most critical aspect of rechargeable batteries is the charger. As a charge builds up, the battery develops internal heat. Without going into a long discussion, heat ruins batteries, so the less heat build up, the better. But preventing that requires longer charging times. The manufacturer's solution is the 'smart charger'. It puts a high current into the battery for a short period of time, then switches to a lower current as the battery nears capacity, and some units even monitor the battery temperature while charging.

For anyone interested in home-brew lighting equipment, the rule-of-thumb is to limit input current to not more than 10% of the amp-hour capacity of the battery. So a 2000 mAH battery would be charged to capacity in 10hours at 200 milliamps, or 20 hours at 100 milliamps, etc. Low charging currents limit the heat, and by keeping them very low, you prolong battery life.

Commuting info

Lighting info

Steven Scharff's pages: Coffee - how could I resist? Index to all pages Lighting Very useful links

Peter White

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Happy Elvismas!

I'm gonna grow me some sideburns and add a whole bunch o' sequins to my bike!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

James Bond would be envious!

Eighty miles per hour on a bicycle? Do bicycle tires even have speed ratings? And why is it that I keep hearing George Jetson yelling, "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!" Indeed, what could possibly go wrong?.....Ed

And now, the bicycle jetpack

A cyclist hits the road with the Thrustpac – a petrol-driven propeller which enables bicycle users to hit speeds of up to 130kph (80mph).

The device is controlled by a special glove which allows the rider to accelerate or slow down simply by flexing their index finger.

Inventor Don Burgess said it can do 240km (150 miles) to the gallon, making it one of the most-fuel efficient modes of transport. Except, you know, actually cycling.

'This is a totally unique concept in the transportation world today,' said Burgess.

'The freedom from high fuel prices, the absolute fun of the wind in your hair while being pushed along effortlessly is amazing. Saving the environment has never been so much fun.'

What could possibly go wrong?


Paul gets Hot!

My congratulations to both Biker Fox and Paul Tay for being named to Urban Tulsa's Hot 100 list! OK, they're listed as number 91, but at least they made the list. CycleDog wasn't even mentioned, despite my continued attempts to take over the world. I may go have a good sulk somewhere.

The Hot 100
News/Lifestyles: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 2:00:00 AM

91. Biker Fox and Paul Tay. You're weird enough to make the list, but not to earn your own slots.

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Threat or Menace...

Harassment? Or stupidity?

By Fritz

Here's a quick and dirty poll for you all. You're riding your bike a couple of feet from the curb on a standard 14-foot lane with moderate traffic. A motorist driving a tan Volvo with John Kerry bumper sticker breeezes by you with inches to spare. You have a thought about the driver of this vehicle. Which is it?

* A. He tried to kill me! That cager tried to kill me! It's a good thing I have my mirror so I had time to ditch into the gutter at the last minute.
* B. The cager intentionally harassed me by manuevering as close to me as possible. He did it on purpose to scare me. I'm calling the cops. I demand justice!
* C. Obliviot needs to watch where he's going.
* D. No harm, no foul. A car passed me. The rest of you all are a bunch of wimps. Except Bob (response A): You're just paranoid.
* E. Other (specify in your comment).

I read the above question on Cycle-licious, and I have to say that my response would depend on the circumstances. If someone buzzed by my handlebars when I was passing the Baptist Retirement Village, I'd probably just blow it off. Some of the elderly drive as if their car were on rails. Dunno why.

If the pass were accompanied by a long horn blast, I may give the one-fingered salute or just wave, depending on my mood.

But I'm not going to think that the driver is 'out to get me'. I'm not paranoid, and besides, I've actually worked with sociopaths and psychopaths in a hospital setting. Murderous, malevolent people intent on taking human life are very rare, fortunately for all of us. Cyclists are more at risk from inattentive drivers. I don't think the presence or absence of a magic paint stripe denoting a bike lane will have much effect. We keep harping on the simple fact that most crashes occur at intersections and involve crossing or turning movements. The facilities types simply ignore this because it doesn't fit into their belief system. They tailor the data to fit their conclusions.

Those who push for separate bicycle facilities fear motor traffic, and like many of us, generalize that everyone else thinks the same way. They simply cannot understand vehicular cycling. It's easier to comprehend a foreign language. And in some ways, vehicular cycling is a kind of belief system not unlike a religion. That's an inapt comparison, so let me esplain a bit further.

When we've had semi-experienced cyclists in a Road1 class, and they discover the possibility of safe, comfortable road riding in traffic, that first experience is a genuine eye-opener. If they learn the principles of lane positioning and they're willing to apply them, they discover that traffic flows around them in predictable ways. Every subsequent ride reinforces that initial discovery, building their confidence and skill. But it can't happen if they don't make that initial step, a leap of faith, if you will. Fearful, paranoid riders will never take that first step.

I was a water-safety instructor when I worked in the hospital. I taught kids to swim. We'd begin in the shallow end, learning to float, hold our breath, inhale and exhale, and all the other steps that led to that fearful plunge into the deep end and a hurried lap of the pool. In learning to swim, kids learned to confront their fears and overcome them. That dive into the deep end was the end of their formal instruction and the beginning of their confidence building. It was a big, big step for most.

This video shows the chaotic nature of NYC traffic, and highlights the dismal failure of bike lanes as a means of encouraging bicycle traffic. But it goes one step further by endorsing the absurd idea that if only we build 'separated' bike lanes, all the problems will be solved. If you haven't seen it, the idea is to construct bicycle lanes BETWEEN parked cars and the sidewalks. Some of them are contra-flow or two-way lanes. Others are physically separated with concrete retaining walls or bollards.

At first blush, this seems plausible, but as the video shows, pedestrians use the existing bike lanes already. Nothing would prevent them from using the 'new, improved, separated' lanes, unless you expect law enforcement to do so. Given the present climate between NYPD and the city's cyclists, exacerbated by Critical Mass riders, how much sympathy should NYC cyclists expect? Among other goals, CM is blocking motor traffic as a means to get more bike lanes so that cyclists won’t be blocking traffic. That may be a sensible approach in Wonderland, but I don’t expect it will change hearts and minds.

Another point that comes out in the video is that motor vehicles would still require access to the 'separated' lane in order to do pickups and deliveries, and emergency vehicles would require access as well. Since so many bike lanes are routinely blocked by motor vehicles now, are we to expect that the new ones would be any different?

Finally, there's the inevitable shot of a car door opening directly in the path of a cyclist. Said cyclist is riding legally in the bike lane, yet it's so narrow it forces him to ride in the door zone. In a 'separated' lane, he'd just be facing a door opening from the OTHER side of the car. This is an improvement?

NYC spent a lot of money on facilities that obviously do not work. They do not perform the function they were intended to do, and we’re supposed to believe that if only more money went down the rat hole, all the problems will be resolved.

Let’s call the separated bike lane what it truly is - a glorified sidewalk. Do cyclists actually want to be second-class road users with inferior rights to our public streets and roads? Make no mistake - "separate but equal" is bunk, a pack of lies foisted on gullible cyclists and public officials. Paul Tay once wrote that cyclists are the "niggers of the roadway" and while that's patently offensive, it's also stunningly accurate. We either have equal rights to use the public roads or we don't, and if we refuse to assert our rights, we do not have them.

So here's my advice - if you deem a facility is unsafe, whether it's a road, street, multi-use path, or a bicycle lane - DON'T USE IT! If a narrow bike lane is blocked by cars, debris, or pedestrians - DON'T USE IT! Ride in the traffic lane and if motorists don't like it - tough shit. It's YOUR road. Use it. Assert your right to use the public roadway. Don’t think that you’re being inconsiderate. No one is required to do something unsafe. If riding in a substandard facility puts you at risk, don’t use it. Safety ALWAYS trumps convenience.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday Musette

New Year's Day

Most places have a traditional New Year's ride. I've tried to attend one every January first unless the weather has been truly atrocious or I've been ill.

Gary and Barbara Parker hosted a ride this year. David and Sandra Crisp were there, and although Gary invited my family, I was the only one who could attend. Lyndsay was working. Jordan slept late - as teenagers are prone to do. And Mary wasn't feeling very well.

To make a long story short, the womenfolk went on a 10 mile loop while us he-man types did about 20. David and Gary were on racing bikes, while I was on my ancient Pennine fixed gear. I can't help but be a technological Luddite! We had a nice ride out north of Tulsa, and fortunately I didn't die riding up the hill on Apache.

Chili and fruit awaited us at Gary's house. We sat down to a very nice lunch.

But there's always a fly in the ointment, and that brings me to...

The Osage Prairie Trail

The OPT is a rail-to-trail conversion that goes north from OSU-Tulsa to Skiatook. I've ridden it a few times, but hadn't been over that way for months. The trail was completed just last year, so the pavement is in very good condition. It's smooth and fast - or it should be fast. The problem is numerous patches of broken glass. I'd be afraid to travel at speed on this trail because it would be far more difficult to dodge all the shards.

I screwed up, too. I slowed at an intersection, concentrating on a car to my left. I didn't notice one to the right and I stopped abruptly when I finally did. Gary wasn't able to get a foot down and he toppled over, narrowly missing a bollard and some huge chunks of a broken bottle. His tumble was my fault as I didn't give him any warning.

Like many urban trails, the OPT collects broken glass and other debris. If the trail is to remain usable, it needs regular maintenance. It needs to be swept clean now and then, or cyclists will avoid it. And that would be a tragic loss because this trail could provide a growth corridor for small businesses. I already know where to find ice cream in Skiatook, for instance, and similar businesses could attract cyclists as well.

Bicycle Maintenance and Repair Class

Tulsa Technology Center has this in the spring catalog:

NEW Bicycle Care and Maintenance SPIN-3501

Bicycle ridership and enjoyment are rising, and with good reason - advances in technology and materials are making bikes faster, safer, and more enjoyable.
Sometimes a simple turn of a wrench can make the difference between leading the pack or packing it in. Learn how to get the most from your two-wheeled experiences, and how to care for and maintain your machine. 8 hours. $45.00
RS S400 Staff 04/04/07-04/25/07 06:00PM-08:00PM W 4

Enroll with Visa or MC online at or call 828-5100

And finally...Midget Strippers!

We were passing one of Tulsa's "gentleman's clubs" on Saturday evening. It had a huge lighted marquee out near the street with "Midget Strippers" done up in big letters. Mary and Lyndsay were giggling uncontrollably about it, until I said, "It's a really short act that's easily overlooked." They groaned and rolled their eyes, but the giggling fits came back from time to time for the rest of the evening.

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