Keep Your Eyes Peeled

I started commuting by bicycle a long time ago. It was so long ago I have to get my calculator to know for sure. Let’s see…I was living in Norman, Oklahoma, and had just started back to school. 1993. That is 29 years. Twenty. Nine. Years. Man. Time sure gets away from us.

I never wore a helmet back then. Until mom bought me one—she insisted, since her neighbor owned a bike shop and he said it was important. Why all of a sudden do we have to wear helmets?? I rode bikes all the time as a kid, and never wore one. Oh well, I guess we wear helmets for the same reason we wear seat belts. We know more things now. So I’ll wear it, if you’re buying it. Problem is the helmet could fit in the same category of the jeans I wrote about earlier—on sale at K-Mart, a couple of sizes too small, and I think it was a hockey helmet. But I wore it anyway, most of the time. Now I wear one all the time, but no K-mart “blue light” specials for me. Only the best for Mrs. Kearney’s youngest son.

For Christmas this year, Lisa bought me a GoPro camera. I told her that since the first GoPro I had was a long time ago—one of the first they made, and my next camera was the Garmin Virb, which wasn’t all the good in terms of video quality, but she is amazing, and bought me the most recent release—the GoPro Hero 10. It does things that I didn’t know any camera could do. It records in 4K, at 30fps. For you non-film types, that’s thirty frames per second. That’s pretty good! I’ve seen a setting option on the camera that allows a frame rate of 60 fps—wow! I haven’t gone there yet, because YouTube and Facebook will dumb down any video you upload, so it doesn’t much matter. But this post isn’t about camera quality or frame rates or anything like that. Sorry I got sidetracked. It happens

Having a GoPro on board is nice because it makes it real, when I talk about a close call I had on my ride. I talk about them when they happen, but talk is cheap and a picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a million words! If I’d had a camera mounted to my handlebars last year I wouldn’t be going round and round with Falcon Insurance Company of Oak Brook, Illinois—the crappiest insurance company ever. One of their customers ran a stop sign and hit me with her car, she admitted fault, and her admission is reflected in the police report. Now the insurance company is trying to stick me for half of the liability, because their client “remembered it more clearly” when she got home. Yeah. I’ll bet she did.

I did have the camera rolling yesterday on my ride home. I was on the bike trail headed south, could see the big sand truck approaching. I was prepared for the driver to pull a bonehead move, and he didn’t disappoint, as reflected in the video.

Take a look. What do you think?

Sharp Dressed Man

“Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don’t know where I am goin’ to
Silk suit, black tie (black tie)
I don’t need a reason why they come runnin’ just as fast as they can
‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man”

I was never much on ZZ Top. Rock and roll was never my bag. Oh wait, sorry. I almost broke into a Seinfeld soliloquy. ZZ Top was never my favorite band, but there is no questioning the fact that some of their songs are legendary, including the one quoted here. People tend to notice when people dress nicely, especially if they aren’t known for dressing nicely. Like me.

I’ve never been very good at looking good. I remember a girl making fun of me in elementary school because I was wearing dark colored socks with blue jeans and sneakers. How did she know what color socks I was wearing? Well, it is because my pants were too short—another notable characteristic of my fashion style when I was a kid. She was pretty hard core about it too. Like, in her mind everyone in the world, or at least everyone on the playground at Westside Elementary in Cleveland, Oklahoma, knew that anyone who is anyone was wearing tube socks. Tube socks, baby. That’s where it’s at.

Christian t-shirt bought at Firey Brothers, ca. third grade

In junior high, things were not any better. Fake Nikes purchased on sale at K-Mart, a remarkably stylish shirt, and jeans with no pockets in the back. On my jeans, the back pockets were in the front. Mom insisted that they were found in the men’s department at K-Mart, but they looked like women’s pants. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the pockets on the front were stylishly decorated with a cool macrame chevron pattern, awkwardly pointing arrows straight at my no-no square. As if a boy in seventh grade needed any further attention drawn to that part of the body. The good news is that mom got such a great deal on those jeans, she bought me two pair. Score.

That haircut—the Harold Rowe special. It is a long story…
I can’t even.

High school was more of the same. Mom still insisted on buying me fake Nikes. She was good at defending her position with regard to the wisdom of careful budgeting, and on the economic value of sneakers, but lost some credibility when she failed to make the connection between cheap shoes and their durability under pressure. She often wondered out loud how boys could tear through a pair of shoes so quickly. “YOU BOYS,” she would say, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING WHEN YOU ARE WEARING THESE SHOES…” Not much, mom. Because my feet hurt. Blisters will do that. Once I started dating (believe it or not, after seeing those pictures), it occurred to me one day that I must be going out with the most generous girl in school—for Christmas one year, she bought me a brand-spanking new pair of Nikes, just like the ones Jenny bought Forrest back in Greenbow, Alabama (side note—that’s not the only similarity between me and Forrest Gump, but we’ll save that for another time). Mom smugly turned her nose up at this, pontificating over peoples’ lack of common sense and wasting hard-earned money just to be fashionably correct. Of course, those shoes lasted me well over a year, doing the same kinds of things I did in the store brand shoes. It was later, and by later I mean like, two or three years ago, that I realized my girlfriend may have had an ulterior motive when she bought me those shoes—she didn’t want to be known as the girl who dated the guy who wore fake Nikes. Fair enough. I’m pretty sure this explains why I identified so perfectly with Sue, the man in the Johnny Cash song, whose dad chose a girl’s name believing it would make him tough. My fashion prowess helped shape me—I learned to come up with ways to defend myself against cruel people in school who teased me about the way I dressed. In a world that places a high priority on fashion, I was a newborn giraffe calf, among a pride of hungry lions.

I could go on, about how in high school and college, when I wore Wrangler jeans (before they were popular with the cowboys) and shirts acquired at the many Christian rock concerts I attended back then. It’s a wonder I survived.

Me and my friends. I’m wearing a Christian rock band t-shirt…

Lisa has been a huge help for me in many ways, especially in the area of fashion. She knows things. Thanks to her, I am a much better dresser than I was as a young man. No more “nut huggers.” (Her words, not mine). Avoid monochrome (light colored shirt, dark colored pants, or vice versa). Untuck that shirt! Longer inseams—we don’t want to see your socks! “Wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you.” She says that often.

Back in ‘21, I made a decision to step up my fashion game. (did you catch that—back in ‘21?). I came across a company out of Los Angeles—that’s in California if you didn’t know—their skill set involves turning fashion morons like me into stately looking men. Why not? I’ve heard of companies like this—I think it was Sarah that told us about Stitch Fix—where you pay $25 a month and they send you clothes to try on. What you don’t like, send back. Keep what you like and only pay for the things you keep, minus the $25 you already paid. I’m not a fan of that business model. It works for some people, but not me. You see, I’m a guy, and guys are funny about shopping for clothes. I realize that not everyone is like me, but it is stereotypical of men to not focus on clothes or fret over picking them. Sure, I’ll go to the mall to buy clothes, but only if I absolutely have to, OR if there is a sale going on. And not just any sale—a big sale, like at least 70% off. Dillards does that—a couple of times a year you can walk through Dillards and find clothes at 20 or even 50% off of items already marked down by 70%. “So you’re telling me, Olga, that this pair of pants originally cost sixty dollars, but you’ve marked them down by 70%?” Olga is a Russian immigrant who was a CPA or a pediatrician or something back in the old country, but here in the states, she sells men’s clothes at a department store. I think. Anyway, she confirmed my assessment of the situation. “HOW-EVERRR,” she continued in that cool Russian accent with the rolling r’s, “you can take an additional fifty percent off that price, making these pants nine dollars.” NINE DOLLARS? Heck it would be worth nine dollars to set them on fire and watch them burn! (I say that a lot). So most men HATE shopping for clothes, and only go when there is absolutely no other way out. But don’t expect me to go into that little room and try anything on—there’s no way that we are going into that nasty, covid-laden fitting room. Who has time for that?? They’re nine dollars, I’ll take my chances. Men just need to be told what to wear, and when to wear it. That’s why Stitch Fix isn’t a good fit for me. Just give me a box of clothes, and I’ll take it from there. Don’t give me a bunch of arbitrary choices and make me pick and send stuff back. Too much to think about.

“Stately Men” is the company I discovered last year, and I love their model. You start out by filling out a fairly detailed profile of who you are, what you do, where you work, where you hang out, etc. They assign you a stylist who fits your profile. Then you choose a membership level. There are three. The basic membership is $99 a month. The middle level is $179, and the top level is $300. With the basic membership, you almost never get shoes. The mid-range gets you shoes every once in a while, or a belt, or even a watch. The top level gets you shoes every month, and more clothes. I chose the mid level. The first box I received came with a nice note from my stylist—Megan is her name—and she was quick to point out that she too has MS, which is kind of cool. She doesn’t send a note every month, which is fine, but she does a fine job picking out clothes for me. Lisa doesn’t always agree, but I think she’s a little jelly (that’s what the kids say) of some random woman from Cali picking out clothes for her main man. Lisa’s right though, to be fair—sometimes the clothes they send are a little bland, but I can always send them back for an exchange. Last month they ran a special for upping your membership, so I did. No obligation to stay at the higher level (I’m not about to pay $300 a month for clothes), but spending just one month at the higher level snagged me a giant box of clothes, shoes, belt, etc. Also, you don’t have to do every month. Sometimes I’ll look in my closet, and its like I’ve become some Hollywood clothes horse or something, so I’ll drop back to getting a box every other month. Then I might go back to monthly if I feel like it. For a guy who has never been very good at dressing himself, Stately Men is a game changer. Below you can see some pictures of me rocking the stuff sent to me over the last several months.

This represents about half of the things in my latest box—shirt, shoes, slacks, belt
Woody and I entered a contest—if they chose our photo for their Insta, I’d get free stuff and Woody wouldn’t get jack. We didn’t win.

Yesterday I wore the latest shipment from Megan and the crew out in LA. All day , students asked me why I was so dressed up. “Who ME? Aw this thing? It’s just something I threw together.”

I should point out that Stately isn’t for everyone. Taylor got Jared a membership for Christmas. They weren’t impressed. Didn’t like the choices, or the colors, or whatever. I respect that. Everyone is different. It is working for me—I really like that I have more to wear than jeans and sneakers. I love the anticipation—knowing that box is on the way, and when it arrives, it is like Christmas morning. And just like that, I’m a sharp-dressed man. Or something like that.

Do you want to start dressing like you’re not in junior high anymore? Give Stately a try. It can’t hurt. If you decide to give it a go, maybe you could use this link to get started: . If you do, you’ll get 20% off your order, and I’ll get some free stuff. It’s a win-win.

When you get your first box, take some pictures and post them in the comment section so we can all dote over your newly found fashionista status.

Keep an eye out—every time I get a new shipment from Stately, I’ll post it here.

What Not to Do

In case you hadn’t noticed, Tulsa has an active cycling community. This is a good thing! It reduces yuck in the air, and saves money fixing streets, since bicycle riders don’t cause any road wear. Ultimately, it saves us all money, since cyclists are (generally) in fairly good physical shape and are less likely to become a drain on the healthcare system.

Now I realize that not everyone sees the plus side of all those people out there wearing spandex pants and acting all smug and sanctimonious. Some people view cyclists as an imposition, and as a result, drivers sometimes lose their ability to think clearly, or make sound decisions under pressure. I talk about it all the time, but talking about the close calls I’ve seen isn’t as effective as seeing it.

Lisa gave me a GoPro for Christmas. It is the third camera I have owned for recording action-type stuff. The first was a GoPro from the early days–it was great, way better than the other cameras I had tried. Then Garmin came out with an action cam of their own. I bought one, and it was okay. The video quality was sub-par, but it did project the riders stats on the video, which is pretty cool. When Lisa asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I mentioned a new camera, but told her that she didn’t need to get me the latest offering from GoPro–the 8 or 9 would do fine. But she had to go all out and get me the newest version, the Hero 10. I’m still trying to figure it out. But it is really nice! The video quality is spectacular! And it didn’t take long for me to capture an impatient driver acting foolishly, putting himself and others in danger. Just another day in Oklahoma.

Be patient with me. I don’t adapt well to change, and learning to use the camera and the editing software is a challenge. For example, I originally had a detailed set of captions on this video, but they didn’t make the final cut. I’ll get it figured out. Or I won’t.

If I’d had this when Dolores ran that stop sign and hit me back in May, I wouldn’t still be fighting with Falcon Insurance of Oak Brook, Illinois. The video seen here was taken on December 26, 2021 on Frankoma Road outside of Sapulpa. I was traveling northeast at 22 mph when these two cars decided to pass me. The first car was no problem–plenty of room to safely pass. The second car? Well let’s just say that this driver wasn’t using his/her thinker. It was close. Very close. Way closer than it appears in this video. The good news, for me anyway, is that I had an escape plan in mind–if those cars had collided, I was fully prepared to veer off to the right, leave the road, and avoid the inevitably fiery crash that would have been the result, calling 911 just before attempting to rescue people trapped inside the burning wreckage. Call me Gage. Or DeSoto. “Rampart, this is squad 51…”

What do you think?

What is your point?

I’ve been asked this question a number of times, and so far, I haven’t come up with any solid answers. But let me give it a try.

First, I can relate. To you. To pretty much every man ever born of a woman. I’ve been fat. I’ve been out of shape. I’ve felt sick. I AM sick. I’ve gotten help. I’ve resisted help. I avoid things. You know, just like everyone else in the world, ever.

But I’ve managed, with the help of my friend, the Creator of the ends of the earth, to put things together and not make too much of a mess of my life. Maybe the things I write on here will help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made. Probably not–we’re all pretty stubborn and have to try it “our way,” but at least we can try.

For example, two years ago I was pretty fat, and was allowing my battle with multiple sclerosis to get the best of me. So Lisa and I came up with a plan, and over the course of the next ten months or so, I lost about ninety pounds and got back to cycling shape. Along the way, I acquired certain tools that have helped me deal with the changes that accompany a new attitude toward life. On this website, I will review and suggest certain products that have helped me accomplish my goals. I hope it helps you.

Feel free to jump on and comment. Throw your two cents in. Just be nice. Be respectful. Be open to the possibility that you don’t know all the things, and that some people are different than you, and it is okay. I know you can do it. Now let’s get to work.