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Archive for the ‘men’ Category

Saint Paul Downtown Criterium

The 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix got underway on Wednesday, June 16 in Saint Paul.

The morning Time Trial event started with nearly 300 men and women riders competing in “the race of truth.” That evening, the first criterium races were held in downtown Saint Paul.

While a new venue, downtown Saint Paul drew several thousand spectators and provided the pro bike racers with a longer, more challenging, course. The end result proved to be exciting with a sprint finish in the women’s race, with HTC Columbia rider Chloe Hosking grabbing the win. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling) and Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12, finished second and third respectively.  The men’s race was dominated by Kelly Benefit Strategies for the first 37 laps. In a shake down during the last three laps, United Healthcare p/b MAXXIS grabbed the front. The international finish included Australian Hilton Clark and Kiwi rider Karl Menzies (riding for United Healthcare) finishing 1 and 2; and Italian Luca Damiani (Kenda Pro Cycling p/b GearGrinder) finishing in third.

Thursday night, the racers traveled to Cannon Falls where they met with unfavorable weather that included National Weather Service-issued tornado watches, hail and high winds reaching 60 miles per hour. The men’s race got started as planned at 5 p.m. Central time, but by 5:35, officials decided not to start the women riders on the 66-mile road course; and the men were called back in with the race being neutralized.

Friday night, the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis will once again get the Minneapolis Criterium along the popular sections of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street. The one-mile-long course is pancake flat and includes plenty of turns where the anticipated crowd of 15,000 will be able to enjoy all the racing action.

Full race results are available here: http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com/Grand-Prix/Results/2010-Results/St–Paul-Crit-Men.aspx

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On July 20, 1969, this four-year-old kid from small-town Iowa knew something was up when his Dad came home from work early one morning to watch television.  In fact, with a quick glance down the neighborhood street, I would have noticed lots of cars parked in the driveway – with everyone inside staring at their black and whites.

“Because of what you have done, the Heavens have become a part of man.”

The flight of Apollo 11 served as a rebirth in the United States in many ways. And my four-year-old eyes watched not really knowing what I was seeing, but impressed that my Dad – who ran his own business and worked long arduous hours to keep it going – took time from his morning to watch TV. And we continued to watch for the next three days – whenever the networks fed us NASA’s grainy footage of the astronauts doing their business out in space. The first-ever landing on the Moon. Listening as Neil Armstrong voiced to the world his impressions as he stepped of the lunar module ladder onto the Moon’s surface. The Moon walks. The lift-off from the Moon and the splash landing.

It’s all very surreal, but there are images in my memory banks from 40 years ago and it’s something my kids read about without consideration to the sheer magnitude of what was happening. Six hundred million people on earth watched and read about those three days in the summer of ’69 and we’re still talking about it four decades later.

Without question, it was something else.

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My Dad marched to the beat of his own drum. He set his own standards, and while they changed through my childhood years, the bar and his expectations were always higher than I was tall.

rhg-wwiiDad was a product of a rough and tumble father and a mother who only knew how to love and care for others – no matter what. I guess his lack of emotion, his inability to truly display love, only became evident in hindsight – because as a kid, even when he failed to properly parent, I felt loved.

We didn’t spend a lot of time playing ball in the backyard, because Dad owned a small business and put in long hours. So instead, I often biked to Dad’s shop and swept or cleaned the work benches until he was ready to lock up – usually after Mom’s third or fourth phone call. On the way out of the shop door, he’d drop a dime in the pop machine and hand me an Orange Crush Soda for the short ride home.

My best Dad memories, though, involve the after-hours deliveries we’d make on warm summer evenings. Dad sold outdoor equipment and he would drive within a 100-mile radius to deliver a lawn tractor to a good customer. I’d help unload the equipment off the trailer and he would demo the machine, chatting up the new owner while I kicked at the stones eager to head back home.

We’d climb back into the red Dodge van he drove (purchased the year I was born) and he would steer us down Northwest Iowa county blacktops – back to Spencer. At five or six years old, I marveled at how many people knew my Dad as we made these trips together. I’d see a car or truck approaching us and nearly every single time, the driver in the oncoming car would wave – and Dad waved back.

“Who was that?” I’d ask him eagerly.

“I couldn’t quite make out the face,” Dad would say with a grin. Or, he’d say, “I think that was Jim from the hardware store,” or he would make up the names of other people he knew, completely BS-ing me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that we were out in the country and these other drivers were just being friendly, waving as they passed every car they met. But for a few years, at least, I believed Dad was the best-known man in the state of Iowa – or at least our corner of the state. He was my well-connected Dad and I was proud of him.

Dad died on Sunday and he’ll be buried back in my hometown today. We rarely spoke these past couple decades. Distance created distance and days lapsed into years.

But I’ll call upon the best memories I have of him. And if there’s a Heaven, I know my Dad has been greeted by the hundreds who waved at him on those summer evenings when it was just the two of us on the road.

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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.

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Seven Imitable Skills

In all my glorious insomnia-filled thinking, I’ve IDed a passel of skills needed in order to co-exist in the world of relationships. Some more important than others, clearly, but the following appear relevant and necessary if one hopes to find and maintain a relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

  1. Confidence. (I repeat, confidence, not cockiness. Big difference.) It doesn’t have to ooze from every pore, but if you lack confidence you will find yourself keeping the bartender company. Women smell its antithesis from across the room – maybe from across the street.
  2. Smarts. Sports trivia and alcohol percentages of various beverages may roll off your tongue, but they’re just one leg of the three-legged stool of intelligence. To survive on the planet as a couple, not a single, make a legit attempt to read the headlines (at least) in Sections A, B, C, and E of the New York Times.
  3. Self-deprecation. Look it up in Webster’s. Find the ability from within to poke fun at yourself and laugh at your gaffes (because you will have your share). If the serious mask never comes off, you’ll sink like a brick of Velveeta on Late Night’s “Will It Float?”.
  4. Grooming. Toenails yellow? Elbows sloughing skin? Does your blackened front tooth, loosened during a pickup ball game last spring, remain your badge of honor? Fix yourself up, man! Try deoderant then work yourself toward, say, flossing. Seriously, groom EVERYWHERE, not just the obvious…ahem…locations.
  5. Rhythm. This might be a tough one for some. But take note, if you’re dating you will be required to dance at least once. It won’t be optional. Learn to keep to the beat. Do NOT feign a torn ACL mid-way through an R. Kelly song.
  6. Conversant. You can’t risk that the girl you’re with will be the talker. There will be times when you’re required to start and carry the conversation – or at least articulate your thoughts and insights. (Helpful Hint: Keep three or four timely “talking points” in your head to fall back on if the convo lulls awkwardly.)
  7. Aware. If your world centers squarely on you all the time, you may have stumbled on the root cause of all your short-term relationships. Take off the “me” blinders and pay attention to the words coming from her lips. Then graduate to discovering, through osmosis and the telepathy, the things she never says but really means.

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Age Defying

I’m showing my age.

At least parts of me are starting to reveal my 40-something-ness. And while my spirit and mental age might be 36.8-years-old (according to results from this test on realage.com), other external signs sing a different tune. I urge you all to take the test, by the way. It’s simple, yet revealing.

Many of you know I’m adopted. I’ve not done a search for either of my birth parents, so my biological history is an unknown. It might be interesting to know what’s in store for me – especially considering the various serious health conditions that I could face, like heart disease and diabetes. But there’s a bit of excitement watching each day unfold not knowing what to expect as well. And as long as I’m taking care of myself, living a healthy lifestyle and getting my share of physical activity on a regular basis, I’m okay letting the chips fall where they may.

Part of the excitement (attention getting change) noted in the paragraph above started to reveal itself a couple years ago. That’s when I first noticed a very, very white eyebrow hair growing from my right brow. Something just didn’t belong. It has reappeared ever since and, more recently, I found a similarly white-ish hair coming from my head. Then, just last month, a white chest hair. Tell tale signs? No one knows, including me. Perhaps in my retirement years I’ll be playing Santa Claus with truly natural all white hair, mustache and beard.

There are other signs as well (I seem a little more jowly and my muscles and joints require more time to recover after strenuous physical activity). I’ll stave off the external and physical changes as long as possible by taking care of the body I’ve been given.

In the meantime, I’ll go with the 36.8 year-old-mantra and act my “real age.” At least until the white hair thing becomes visible to one and all.

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I’m a seemingly “nice” guy. At least that’s the feedback I receive from those who know me. Family members, friends, co-workers, and even fellow bloggers have described me as “nice.”

Gag! The Pilver likens me to the character, Paulie, from the popular movie “Juno.”

For a divorced dad who is nearly 43-years-old, being nice isn’t the worst thing I could be. However, in my rarified dating and post-divorce relationship experiences, the adjective nice doesn’t seem to make a lot of women swoon.

So I’m asking you, my female readers (all two of you…that’s an approximation), what adjectives do you prefer to think of when thinking of the man who is most likely to make you breathe a little shallower, feel a slightly dizzy when you catch his eye, or make you weak in the knees when he brushes up next to you in the proverbial checkout lane.

I really want to know. Enlighten this “nice” guy, won’t you?

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This WebMD article further substantiates my thoughts on the modern-day male being a contradiction in terms. We, as a gender, are truly rolling back the clock in an effort to simply accept ourselves (unibrows and untrimmed toenails included).

Here’s an excerpt:

…the authors of The Future of Men underscore an indisputable fact of life in the U.S. — the concept of masculinity is in flux, leaving many confused about what it means to be a man.

“It was clear that men were questioning the feminization of men,” said Salzman, explaining the origins of The Future of Men.

“We wrote the book to focus on the question, ‘what is the byproduct of 40 years of increased rights for women?’ The instability of the male role model has been a reaction to the rise of equal rights for women.”

This is not the first time in American history that notions of masculinity have shifted.

“It seems like every time the country is in a crisis there’s concern about masculinity,” said Sonya Michel, a history professor at the University of Maryland and the author, with Robyn Muncy, of Engendered America: A Documentary History, 1865 to the Present.

“For example, during industrialization, skilled artisans started losing their jobs and men started to feel they were losing control. Again, during World War II, when it became clear that the U.S. was going to enter the war, people were wondering if American men were up to the task.”

What’s it all mean? According to the book’s authors, it means women are IN DEED looking for men who are comfortable with who they are.

…many men have responded to feminism by repudiating traditional masculine traits — such as strength, assertiveness, and independence — because they fear feminists may find those traits offensive. In an effort to please women, they transform themselves into sensitive, emotionally responsive “nice guys.”

“They constantly ask themselves, ‘how do I make sure the woman is happy and doesn’t get upset with me?'” says Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

This “nice guy syndrome,” as he calls it, causes men to hide their masculine nature. And this, according to Glover, often repels women.

“The man believes he’s doing everything right in terms of trying to make the woman happy, but her complaint is, ‘I can’t trust him,'” Glover says. “Men like this are not telling the truth about themselves because they don’t want to upset women, but women walk away feeling that their men have no integrity, no consistency. They say things like, ‘I don’t know what he’s really thinking.’ Women get very frustrated by males who are always seeking to please them.”

And ya’ll thought I was just being facetious!

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In the history of the male species, it’s gotta be the eighth wonder of the world that either the cro-magnon or modern-day male ever managed to secure a relationship with the opposite sex. Our collective grunting, ball-scratching, farting, burping, smelling selves are not an attractive bunch – no matter how much Hi Karate after shave we slather over our sagging pectorals, or how carefully we comb and part the back hair.

To that end, why are women so willing to accept their male counterparts for who we really are in all our filth and glory? Do they realize we prefer to internalize our feelings instead of talk them out? Do they understand that our success as hunter gatherer is only exceeded by our need to ogle and comment out loud about the cleavage we see on other females while trudging through the mall with our spouse or significant other (SO)? Do they really need the male penis or find it even remotely interesting (aside from the obvious primary requirement of having one in order to make a baby, which by the way, has already lost its exclusive rights in that department thanks to modern science)?

We’re a strange lot, we men. I’m often embarrassed by my brethren and the sheer acts of male stupidity that I’ve witnessed, heard about and even instigated. Our ability to show off at precisely the wrong time, say exactly the opposite thing that should be said, and turn away from our mates at just the moment when she needs us the most is…well, it’s innate! Built in. Pre-genetically coded.

What’s most interesting, though, is that even if men made drastic behavioral changes – be it becoming more in tune with their feelings or spending more than five minutes planning a special anniversary dinner – I’m dubious if our stead among women would change for the better.

For all the listening, understanding, comforting, complimenting, and thoughtful attributes a man may adopt, it would likely raise more eyebrows if by some lucky strike of lightning we managed to change our behavioral path. Because as much as men are swine, women are suspicious of behavioral change and have grown accustomed, even – dare I say – accepting, of who we are and all our foible-filled behavior. They will even *cough* fall in love with our endearing jerk-like qualities, because, in the end, they want someone who will protect them from the dangers of the world, someone who will jump in front of the stray bullet, someone who will cold cock a would be Hugh Hefner who comes on a bit too strong when it’s happy hour at the biker bar.

So, gents, go ahead and let one rip at the dining table in a intimate restaurant setting. Then blame it on the table next to you. You’ll not only impress the person sitting across from you, but you’ll likely get several thumbs up from the rest of the men doing their best to nod politely at their SOs.

Oh! The sweet smell of our success!

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All due respect to Esquire magazine and its monthly celeb page titled “10 Things Men Don’t Know About Women,” but it goes both ways ladies. So indulge me for a few minutes as I share my “10 things” list. These are, I trust, things you didn’t know about the guys you’ve entrusted your lives and heart to. Only now you know…but please don’t tell anyone where you got this info!

10. When you question our ability (think: “asking for directions, plumbing a new faucet or financing the new Harley we bought on impulse,”) we immediately conclude you no longer love us. Try giving a thumbs up and a smile instead.

9. Like your shoe collection or spending $300 on your hair at the salon, widescreen flat panel displays are REALLY that important to us.

8. You know that favorite running bra you retired but couldn’t part with because it’s well-broken in and has since become your favorite thing to wear to bed and sleep in? Yeah…not so sexy.

7. When we say we had a really rough day at work, it means our boss (or our boss’s boss) failed to recognize something we thought was important. Mix us a strong drink and just listen. Don’t try to solve the problem.

6. The importance we place on smoking an expensive cigar now and then is overblown. The stench and taste make us green in the gills just like it does you. But humor us please.

5. If you know a sport really well, share the knowledge. You gain instant cred with us when you spout sports jargon like “spread defense,” or “3/2 zone.”

4. Contrary to popular belief, guys don’t have to win every debate. If you’re right, don’t give in to us. Prove yourself and we’ll raise the pedestal we’ve already put you on.

3. We may not be able to spell and define efficacy, but we notice your grammar and get turned on by the big words in your vocab. Use it liberally!

2. Part of how we size you up is by how attractive your girlfriends are. The prettier your pals, the more proud of you we’ll be. It’s caveman thinking, but 100% truth.

1. We may not ask “does my butt look fat in these pants,” as directly as you do, but we want to know if you’re losing your attraction due to increasingly large love handles. We promise we won’t shoot the messenger…much

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