Friday, November 12, 2010

roadies, off-roadies and BMXers unite!!

chad vandelune started a nice thread on the dsm cycling facebook group's page, wondering aloud how to get more bikie's KIDS involved with the ewing park BMX park. as someone who has been involved with ewing park, and its predecessor NBL track, since their inception, i said i'd try to put the two groups in touch with one another.
here is the email i sent out to the ewing park email list:

i've been following and taking part in a very lively discussion on facebook among some cycling pals of mine, prompted by a question posed by one who asked:

"XXXX XXXXX is wondering why more of his friends with kids don't have them racing at the DSM BMX track. A good friend of mine just started his boys this year and wants to know how to get more people involved. What would it take for some of you to get your kids out there?"

one friend said [with more than a bit of irony, given how much we spend for our road and cylcocross bikes and all] that the hold back was the cost of trying it for a kid, not knowing whether they'd LIKE it or not.
i said that all they needed to do was to get on this list and ASK to borrow somebody's for a trial ride, and they'd be able to do it.
others suggested maybe the track needed some bikes and helmets for use on practice nights.
another suggested that "the track needs to be promoted to the [cycling] community."

the upshot is that here are a bunch of men and women who have been road and mountain bike racing and riding for years who now have kids of their own, and they want them to start by BMX racing.
my question to you is, "WELL, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?"

there will be logistical issues, scheduling and all that, as many of these folks train and race themselves. but these are people who ride and race A LOT, and who have lots of friends--with kids--who do likewise.
this is a perfect opportunity, what with the season sure to end at first snowfall, to plan for a really big rookie class in 2011, with possibly many more nights of practice and racing.
i look forward to answering any questions this list might have, and am eager to help merge to two groups. bike racing rocks.
please respond. --kim west


here are the responses i've received thus far--just one day into it--from the ewing park email list.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISCUSSION BY LEAVING YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.

1--from kittie weston-knauer, former president, and head mover and shaker, of BMX in des moines:
Kim, we may have had our last outdoor race for the season Sunday pass. Question, where do the roadies race in the winter time. We could get a jump on the season if we were to have an indoor facility. Does anyone in group know of place with about 23,000 square feet where a track could be built and used until April of 2011. This would also give the roadies something to do themselves during this time of the year.
I am excited to know that they want their youngsters on BMX bikes. A great idea would be to acquire bikes and helmets that could be used at any time by any of the racers. With the proceeds from the Redline Cup Qualifier this past summer, we were able to purchase a 40 foot trailer, so space does exist to house the bikes, helmets and any other equipment. I would love to sit with interested roadies to talk about the reality of an indoor facility or planning for the 2011 outdoor season with two or three nights of practice and two days of racing per week. We would love to be included in cycling coverage in whatever manner that might take.
Let's keep the dialogue going. Kittie


2--from the josts:
you could contact standard byke in quad cities and see if they have a couple old bikes to donate.

3--from amy graber:
Just an fyi, Scott and Kay are at a funeral and they run the track so probably won't get back to you for the next few days.
i do know there are helmets at the track for new people to use and I think there is a bike there so the kids can try it. If not, we have two or 3 bikes ourselves and always have them with us if people ever want to give the track a try. All they have to do is come in long sleeves and long pants.
Promoting, comes mainly from word of mouth. The track is trying desperately to raise $15,000.00 so they can seal the track (to keep it from eroding) and asphalt the start and berms. So, money for advertising is tight. Ewing Park BMX does have a facebook page (we'd love to have more facebook friends, friend us!) and we are planning on doing as many parades as possible this spring and summer to get the word out.
We are also trying to get info into the DSM register via pics and community info pages.
So, please keep talking about Ewing Park BMX to your friends! We'd love to have them bring their kids out! Last year, the membership doubled in size and we hope to do that again next year! I know my hubby (who raced as a kid) and my son (his first year was this year) have had a BLAST racing together this year!! We have become BMX crazy in one short year.
Thanks, Amy Graber

4--from marty stutz:
Thank you Kim West for this intriguing, thought provoking email.
There is clear win/win potential in this dialogue. I’m copying the list on this email in hopes that others can expound upon and/or correct any inaccuracies in what I have to say.
I think that the concerns expressed by your cycling friends are legitimate but you addressed them appropriately.
BMX can cost a lot…but it does not have to cost a lot. Jeans, a long sleeve shirt, tennis shoes, helmet and virtually any bike. Many racers ride bikes found on Craig’s List, EBay, etc. and are very competitive. You are absolutely correct that if a family showed up to check things out on a practice night or reached out to this distribution list that they would be able to get their hands on a bike and give it a try. I will never forget how warmly we were greeted on our first night at the track after my then 5-year old son found a flyer at Bordenaro’s Pizza and we decided to check it out. A local 15 year old expert ushered him around the track and provided tremendous advice and encouragement and pretty much watched over him the entire session.
The track does own some helmets and one bike. I need to donate my son’s old helmet (thanks for making me realize that) and suspect that others have gear that they could contribute as well.
The track is in its second season under the auspices of the American Bicycle Association (ABA) (ababmx.com). This sanctioning organization is great and offers tremendous support at the local, state, regional, national and international levels. Ewing Park is still in its infancy but has gained good momentum in a short period of time. As you might imagine, starting, maintaining and improving a track is quite an undertaking. Ewing Park BMX is a non-profit organization subsisting primarily on race entry fees and subject to costs including insurance premiums, the ABA’s cut, trophies, kybo (sp?), etc. To the extent there is “extra” money (what a concept) it’s plowed back into the track…e.g. corner signage, a storage container, maintenance equipment, etc.
Recently we (and by we, I mean you Amy) have come up with some great fund raising ideas that are being implemented. We have also preliminarily talked a bit about pursuing grants. Such lump sums could really jump start plans for more permanent (and pricy) improvements (e.g. paving, sealing, staging area, etc.) that could take the track to the next level. Many of us have attended ABA National races in the Midwest and I think that has helped to form a longer-term vision of what Ewing Park could become.
It won’t happen overnight, but it starts with continuing to grow our local base and expanding from there. That’s where the win/win comes in with you opening the door to promote the track to the broader cycling community. This overture is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to others with a passion for two-wheeled, human-powered competition.
I am not the most eloquent person in the world but I could speak pretty passionately about BMX in general and the potential of Ewing Park in particular. I serve in no official capacity as a representative of the track and don’t want to overreach here. Those who serve in official capacities are receiving this message. If they approve I would be more than willing to play a role in promoting Ewing Park BMX. I would be happy to meet with members of your circle or to help in any way you see fit.
As a parent I can speak without equivocation regarding the benefits of BMX to my 6-year old son. He plays all the team sports where, at his age, no one loses and everyone wins. That’s fine. But BMX has taught him to be self-reliant (i.e. once he’s in the gate, he’s on his own). He has learned to win humbly and to lose graciously. He has seen how to act and how not to act. He has dealt with adversity. And he has realized the rewards that can come from practice and hard work.
Thank you again for reaching out. I, and presumably many others who received your email, look forward to advancing this conversation.
Kind regards, Marty Stutz


5--from angie boyens:
Hi Kim -
I would say the cost to start is kind of exaggerated. I love biking - so decided to start my son who is six this year. We just had him go out in jean and a long sleeve t-shirt, borrowed a motorcycle helmet from the neighbor and had him race a few times. Once we was hooked - we upgraded the little diamond back (his everyday bike) we had bought at Rassy's to a redline purchased off eBay for less than his original bike. Next year - we are going to invest in the bike pants and jersey and maybe some better shoes....
I will say - on a positive note - it has given my son a ton of confidence on the bike. He is now riding trails with me, I have had him at Banner and Aquahbi and he is better than me :). Still trying to peak the interest in my 8 year old daughter, she tried a practice at Ewing Park and didn't like it. At the last race - she said she may try it again, now that we have a better bike for them to race.... We shall see.
Take care, Angie Boyens

as i said, PLEASE pass this around, share your thoughts, ideas and feelings about this. ewing park bmx presents a fantastic opportunity to get more kids of all ages [recall, i'm 58] involved in yet ANOTHER kind of bike racing. and isn't that the point of a cycling community? to help it grow, and in turn, to make our LARGER community better and truly more bike friendly and bike welcoming?
and yet another reason to buy yet another bicycle?
thanks for contributing!



Monday, August 09, 2010

softies on bikes [and other 21st century lazy athletes]

i'm a bicycle racer.

i have been since 1983, and am proud of it. although i'm 27 years older than when i began racing, i still think my best years of racing--and results--are ahead of me. i've competed hundreds--without thinking, maybe thousands?--of times, and have won many many times. i've won lots of small races, some bigger races, in every discipline of bike race i've entered, except bmx, dammit. i've competed in small, unsanctioned "citizen" races put on by small towns and committees during local festivals. i've competed in huge races promoted by large, national corporations whose business is putting on good, hard bicycle races.

i've had my ass handed to me in all sorts of circumstances, by all level of competitors. it always sucks. i've dished out my share [or more] of on-the-road testosterone invectives to fellow competitors who i felt weren't racing or working as hard as i thought they should. and i go around afterwards and tell them that it was in the heat of the battle, nothing personal. that's how heated i get sometimes.

folks who know me know i am opinionated and not shy about it.

i have always loved long, hard bike races. i LOVE racing under hot and humid conditions: brings out the tough guy in folks. if you can't take it, drop out. darwinian racing at its best.
i disdain--i LOATHE--wheel suckers and whiners who aren't here to work.

so this is nothing new, right? same old crap, mr. west.

here's what has me bugged:
1--hy-vee triathlon, bigge$t in the world, best triathletes around--near and far--train all YEAR to bust it out at hy-vee.
it rains, and they CANCEL the junior events. "sorry kids, too dangerous."
they shorten the open and elite events. "sorry, grown-ups, it's in your best interests."
2--big creek triathlon, an old event that has been run in late-july to mid-august for 30+ years. heat index above 100F. "gotta shorten it, too dangerous."
these are events for "athletes" who have trained months and years for these events.

counter those facts with these:
1--ragbrai 38 just ended. it's been held the last full week of july for, what, 35 years, and was in august before that? seven days of riding, rain, shine, hail, thunderstorms, freezing cold, whatever. a family affair for up to 20,000 people of various fitness levels. raining? take shelter, or not. use your judgment.
2--the iowa state [bicycle] road race championships were held the day before big creek. the category 1/2 and cat 3 race was 108 miles long. many other races were 81 and 57 miles long. it rained like a son of a bitch for the first 80 miles, then was a steam oven for the rest, over a very hilly course around west branch, iowa. it was run un-affected.
3--yesterday at high noon--long after the last big creek triathlete had finished, a friend and i took off on a 3-hour ride into the scorching heat of the day. long, tempo with hills. i'm 57; my friend 40. we were tired when we finished, but we were better cyclists for having done so. no whining, no bitching about it.

what's the point? it's this: just because you work out, that in and of itself does not make you an athlete. weekend warrior, maybe, but in my book, nothing more. if that's all you want, fine.
just don't go telling others within my earshot how tough you are.

and if you say, "well, the promoters are to blame," TELL THEM they woefully underestimate the abilities, desire, training, and self-knowledge of the folks who pay to do their events.
don't just sit around and say, "boy, i was really tough out there on that shortened course."
at least, not where i can hear you.

i know, you're gonna say, "hey, loudmouth, how come you're doing all this smack talking, and you do tandem and masters races. thought you were a big tough cat 1."
true, true. but i dedicated this season to trying another demanding type of racing, tandems. we aren't content to just be a cute couple riding a tandem. we want to be the best.
right now, we're not, we know it, and we continue to kick our asses to get to be the best.
it's not as easy as it seems. ask kim or brian eppen, if you don't believe me. THEY'RE the best.

now, a related topic:

races, race promoters, and the people who race

our team, zealous racing, is the biggest promoter of races in central iowa, and perhaps the entire state of iowa. we put on races all year long, from march through october. for years, we have had mid-week training races [the legendary elkhart time trial series, the flood-dependant water works park omniums, and last year's altoona criteriums]. they are cheap, fun, and GREAT opportunities to develop skills for beginners, and sharpen skills and fitness for the serious races that take place on weekends.

and we have for years put on large, significant weekend races: early season gravel races at mitchellville, the legendary altoona road race, the state fair crits, and numerous cyclocross races in september and october [including the state championship races long at pella and now for the past few years in altoona].
we promote these races for the sake of the sport, for the benefit of the host communities, and for the opportunities they present to race the visibility of bicycle racing to the unknowledgeable public, some of whom might be the ones who terrorize you on your daily training rides in their death cages.
for years, we have sponsored the "iowa cup," the season-long battle for individual supremacy in a pre-designated series of races of all sorts through-out the state.
as a team, and to an individual, we do NOT benefit financially from these race-promoting endeavors. it costs a ton of money to do this, and it takes a shit-load of behind the scenes time to make these happen. long hours are spent year-round mending fences, convincing residents that bike races are a good thing, attending meetings, glad-handing folks who only know about drunken revellers and lawsuits, but not the long years spent training on a bike because you love to ride and race bikes.

these are long hours that could be spent training but are diverted to race-promotion activities because we love the sport of bicycle racing and we want as many folks as possible to be able to take part in it.

you think it's easy, or profitable? put one on.

and yet--getting back to the "softies" theme--what do we get? complaints from a very few that we don't do enough. okay, when i began racing, you could get training sew-ups for $5, chains for $5, and entry fees were $10 to $20. you could do actual stage races in iowa. hotel rooms were $30 split 6 to 8 ways. and you won a few bucks in return.

now, weekend races cost $30 to $60 bucks. it cost $135 to do a 28km time trial at masters nationals for a tandem; same fee for a 72km road race. [which is why we went to michigan instead.]

training races? race like a girl is $10-$15; no prizes other than swag. elkhart? $15; $5 for juniors. prizes? IT'S A TRAINING SERIES! you want cash prizes, race on weekends or do the open men class. you spend long hours training, and spend big bucks on your tt bike, then race it where it counts. put your money where your mouth is.
we were content to do the tandem series this year, marking our improvement against the other teams, little-by-little, until we finally beat them. but not by enough.
next year, folks!

it's good to be back, readers. thanks for your patience. got busy, got married, got lots of irons in the fire. but i will post these musings more frequently.

apparently i have a bit on my chest.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

what does your coffee say about YOU?

Coffee snobs can find more than froth and sugar at the bottom of their cups - personality lives there as well.
While strolling out of a cafe on the way to work, that cup of coffee in your hand is actually emitting hidden meanings to passers-by.
In their new book, The You Code, body language experts Judi James and James Moore decipher what our caffeine preferences reveal about our self esteem, stress levels and even sex life.
THE ESPRESSO DRINKER - James and Moore describe the espresso as "the unfiltered cigarette of the coffee drinking world". Espresso drinkers tend to be moody, hard-bitten and hard working. They are into leadership and fast goals. They don't suffer fools but are hard living and prone to "night-time shenanigans, followed by a rather louche attempt at day time repair". The espresso drinker can be an experienced, exciting and consummate lover but is not known for reliability or unswerving loyalty.
THE BLACK COFFEE DRINKER - This type is al about minimalism and takes a no-frills, direct approach to life.
The black coffee drinker can be quiet and moody but prone to brief bursts of extroversion. "A difficult but potentially rewarding friend, colleague or partner," James and Moore conclude.
THE LATTE DRINKER - Typically metrosexuals or cuddly-toy collectors, latte drinkers are pleasers with an overwhelming compulsion to be liked. A latte drinking boss will use a baby voice to tell you off.
By taking a dark and dangerous drink and turning it into a comforting milky bedtime beverage, James and Moore say, latte drinkers reveal that while they may want to come across as hot shot contenders, they have an immature side.
THE CAPPUCCINO DRINKER - What's not to like about the extroverted, optimistic cappuccino drinker? Like their drink, cappuccino drinkers are all froth and bubble, bored by detail and liking - but not obsessed with - material objects. "Freud would have a field day here," write James and Moore. "Cappuccino froth gives the tongue the mother of all workouts and is all to do with the physicality of the experience rather than the basic consumption of the beverage." The cappuccino drinker enjoys sex but is easily bored by an unimaginative partner.
THE INSTANT COFFEE DRINKER - These are cheerful, straight forward types, who like a laugh and live by the maxim "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". But instant coffee drinkers can be unadventurous in their careers and need to let others see the hidden depths in their personality. The no-nonsense instant coffee drinker is allergic to pretentious behaviour, say James and Moore, and they are likely to keep their socks on during sex.

THE DECAF SOY MILK DRINKER - A self-righteous eco-worrier and attention seeker with a tendency to be picky, fussy - and squeamish in the bedroom. What's more, this faux choice implies a pretentious, high-maintenance type who wants what they can't have and is disguising their true personality. "If caffeine gives palpitations and cow's milk brings you out in spots there's little hope for you in the cockroach society that is city dwelling", James and Moore conclude.
THE FRAPPUCINO DRINKER - Flighty and shallow, the frappucino drinker will try anything once - especially if a celebrity has done it first. They fancy themselves trend setters but send out the message that they are someone who favours style over substance. The frappucino drinker's relationships often last as long as their drink choice, according to James and Moore.
THE NON-COFFEE DRINKER - Unfortunately, the verdict isn't good. Frightened of coffee equals frightened of life, say James and Moore. If the taste of coffee puts you off you really are a child, they say, and it's time to join the world of grown ups. But there's hope. "Twenty one days is all it will take to break your cycle of disgust and then you'll be back in the real world."

Friday, February 05, 2010

ice beards revisited

a brief visual review of recent winters,
as measured in snow beard currency
december, 2008

december, 2007

january, 2010


december, 2007

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

barred by facebook? hmmm...


the users of facebook have such weak stomachs. but blogophiles are of stouter stuff. read here for details about this clever after-market item.

Monday, January 25, 2010

justice stevens: say it isn't so

when i was a young trouble maker, i admired the u.s. supreme court. its players--the nine--were THE big league to me. william o. douglas, thurgood marshall, the minnesota twins [harry blackmun and chief justice warren burger], hugo black, john marshall harlan II, william brennan, lewis powell, jr, felix frankfurter, and others, were the players who drove me to know and use the constitution in the defense of others.
. . . . .
the supreme court was an impartial institution, steeped in deep respect for tradition and respect for the individual, historically. but that has changed. the erosion began slowly, but reached a fever pitch with the second bush presidency, with the appointment not of legal scholars but ideologues.
it reached a milestone last week with the court's decision in citizens united v. federal election commission, which threw away decades of precident to the contrary and threw open the doors of the voting booth to the latest class of citizens: corporations.
. . . . .
cries of "judicial activism" by the right wing shall forever ring of hypocrasy in light of a decision in a case grabbed and docketed for re-hearing on a completely ignored point, so that the same court that gave george w. bush the presidency in 2000 can reserve for its corporate constituency the right of buying each and every election it desires in the future.
. . . . .
read more here, and follow the links the opinion provides.
and weep for the past and future of american democracy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the answer to today's traffic quiz

Traffic Question
Most men will get this right .....
Q: You are driving along a narrow two lane road
with a NO PASSING sign posted,
and you come upon a bicycle rider.
Do you:
(a) Follow this slow-moving bicycle rider for the next 2 miles,
or
(b) Do you break the law and pass?
. . . . .
Which is the correct choice?

?

?

?

?


A: Why take unnecessary risks and get a ticket?
IT'S ONLY FOR TWO MILES, WHAT IF SHE FALLS !
Men get it right, because men are more considerate.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A brief interview with the devil, given how he was a little busy, what with the world the way it is, and such

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The devil wore patent leather Bruno Magli wingtips, a Dolce camelhair jacket, houndstooth fedora. We met at a small café on the outskirts of Amsterdam; he was dashing off to a climate meeting where he planned to heckle scientists in the form of a trembling flat-earther before cruising over to North Korea to whisper backwards Latinate phrases into the tormented ear of Kim Jong Il. Then on to Alberta to broker some new oilsands deals, and finally, off to Rome to further tempt Vatican clergy in the form of a beautiful, smooth-skinned altar boy named Rodrigo.

Not bad for an afternoon's work, he said, grinning.

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I understand you're very busy.

Hang on, just finishing up this text to Ballmer. "Congrats on Windows 7! We finally did it!" Now let me just Twitter about finding irrefutable proof that Obama is a Nazi sympathizer, then plant this item on Drudge about the new health care bill secretly taking H1N1 vaccines away from white Christian children and giving them to Mexican illegals. There.

OK, make it quick, I gotta pack for a petrochem summit in Davos. Keynote, as usual. Those boys f--king love me.

I appreciate your time. Now, many say the world is in a horrible state of turmoil...

Isn't that great, by the way? That's just f--king great. Dear God, I rule.

I'm sorry?

It's not, actually, just FYI. Here's a little secret I don't talk about much, but you'll forget it the instant I leave anyway: The world is actually teeming with beauty and life and rejuvenation, hope and awe and epiphany, every moment of every day. There is pure bliss, entire universes of knowing, pure God consciousness available in the smallest instant, the complete breath, the gentlest human touch. But you didn't hear it from me! (Laughs, concrete curdles).

Well, there have been some pretty difficult, even horrifying events in the past few years...

Let me just clear up one misconception right here. People thought I was swamped during the Bush years, running that whole glorious, bloody spectacle. And it's true, I was busy. But it was also wonderfully easy.

What do you mean?

Honey, I had armies of devoted minions in power back then. I basically sat back like a fat, narcotized Hamptons housewife while my staff brought me cupcakes made of war and fear and homophobia, Christian evangelicals and Muslim hysteria and economic failure. Glorious, glorious time.

But now? Now it's ... different. Bloom is off the black rose, you might say. I'm still busy, still plenty of ugly out there, but I'm not in control anymore. Now I'm just herding cats. Very, very dumb cats.

But we still have all these problems...

Sure you do. But now there's this sickening movement toward responsibility and progress that I find totally nauseating. I spend all my time planting these ridiculous stories, going lower and lower on the intellectual food chain just to get the dittoheads to scream about, what's that crap again? Birthers? Death squads? Teabagging? ACORN? This is what I'm reduced to. F--king hate it. But at least I'll always have oil. And guns. Talk radio. Monsanto.

But even the world's finest scientists say we're on the cusp of meltdown, what with global warming and ...

Global warming? Please. Total hoax. Evolution? Hoax. Electric cars? Hoax. All of existence? Hoax. The Bible? Actually not a hoax -- the true, literal, perfect English transcript of floaty magic-winged creatures living on sparkly clouds and judging what you eat and how you have sex, because everyone knows the Almighty loves war, college football, and large caliber handguns, hates gays, Muslims and the French, and wears a U.S. flag lapel pin that was actually made in China. Ha!

I don't see how that relates to...

You don't? You don't see how I can hurl BS into the culture on a spit and a whim before I even eat my morning sacrifices? Let me put it this way:
Millions of you actually believe the Bible is literal fact, but you think climate change is a grand, devious ruse. Come on. Who but me could pull off such a masterstroke? I should have my own goddamn reality show. Oh wait, I have all the reality shows.

So you're saying humanity's really not on a collision course with destruction?

Oh hell, of course you are. It's all decay and annihilation and flow and flux. Human civilizations come and go like a divine menstrual cycle. I set my Panerai by it. Never forget, sweetheart: change is the only constant. But as any good mystic or pagan will tell you, destruction and creation are the same god with two intergalactic calling plans. Existence bounded up in a nutshell, the king of infinite space. This is all just a delightful illusion. I should know; I co-designed it.

But what about all the corruption and deception?

Look, I don't care how you measure. Trilateral commission, U.N. security counsel, NSA, CIA, Blackwater, communism, shadow governments, all of them. It's just a grand circus, you know? This is all just a ride. My day-to-day power lies in making millions forget what a cosmic joke it all is.

You take yourselves so damn seriously: your raging political parties, the "crucial" issues, Wall Street, gun control, organized religion, banks, credit card companies, big oil, even the endless wars, dictators, all this nefarious churn. You know what it is? It is the silliest charade. It is monkeys playing piano. It is a grand flea circus on the back of a celestial dog, and he's about to scratch himself.

But what of the pain and suffering? The agony of existence?

Oh my sweet Allah with steaming pork sandwich, what an egotistical species you are! Millennia of war and death and pain and fighting over tiny scraps of land, little dusty strips of nothing, thinking God bestowed it upon you! Let me tell you something: the divine has no agenda whatsoever except to know itself in myriad form. God is a life energy. I am a death energy. Creator/destroyer. Light/dark. Inhale/exhale. Shiva/Shakti. Spit/swallow. Both vital. Both omnipotent. Both essential. You have to choose to see it. You feel me?

I think I do.


How about now?

Please take your tail out of there.

Sure thing, lovebug.

All right, since we're already out of time, let's do a quick lightning round.

Love lightning. Drizzle it on my virgin sacrifices every morning.

I'll toss out some names and current events, and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. All right?

Bring it.

Barack Obama

Ha! Dude pisses me off. Can't seem to rile him. Thinks he understands things. Actually does. Know what I hate more than anything, and that includes laughter and singing in the shower and multiple orgasms? Wisdom. Calm, assured wisdom in the face of all the whining and screeching I can muster from my minions. Such gall. Makes my soul pimple.

Rush Limbaugh

I have hangnails more interesting.

Glenn Beck

Who?

Ann Coulter

Has a bizarre thing for dwarves dressed in Chewbacca costumes while she's in full body latex and covered in Crisco. Oh wait, Glenn Beck? Now I remember. All about yodeling, self-flagellation, sniffing the tailpipes of monster trucks, usually simultaneously. They make a cute pair, like a puppet show in an asylum.

The world's dictators. Mugabe, King Abdullah, Hu Jintao...

Ah, now we're getting somewhere! My boys! Some of my best work at the moment. Monsters in different skins, the shadow side incarnate. Love them. What a terrific mirror they are for that part of you so many of you refuse to see!

How about the "New Atheists?" Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, et al?

Cute. Harmless. Completely missing the point. Look, it's way too easy to point out the childish folly, the cute mythology of every major faith in the world. Of course they're fiction. Of course they're totally absurd. Of course those in charge use them to keep millions weak and guilt-riddled and forcibly detached from the idea that they already are divine. A no-brainer, really.

So they're misinformed?

To say the least. They're also only half right. Atheists have merely cut off part of their soul to spite their fate.

After all, it's far more interesting, more challenging to peek behind the silly religious rulebooks and church politics and the obvious myth-making, and taste the source, the wider energy at play. Believing in floaty angels and immaculate conception is for children. Not very bright children, at that. The tantrikas had it absolutely right: the divine is available in an instant, in every moment -- no rules, no complicated hierarchies, no institutions. You are god. You are the devil. Everything else is just maya -- illusion.

But wait, what about...

Whoops, hang on, that's my phone. It's a text from Jesus. Wants to meet for a drink. And it's only noon! That kid is so crazy. If you people only knew. Bye now.