Monday, February 14, 2011

Hallmark Holiday

Today marks the day known as Saint Valentine's day or Valentine's Day for short. Just exactly which Valentine is Saint-Valentine is a matter of debate, because apparently there were many Valentines in the early days of Christendom.  Be that as it may, the well-known and respected Pope Gelasius who reigned as recently as 496 established the holiday, but then a more recent, lesser-known grinch Pope, Paul IV deleted it in the olden days of 1969.

Fortunately for all involved, the Hallmark Card company thought a holiday between Christmas/New Year's and Easter would be good for sales, so they revived the good saint(s) day and with it a $16 billion business of cards, flowers, and chocolates that is sure to help revive the US economy.

Speaking of chocolates, I recently discovered another Belgian treasure, known as NewTree. The company makes excellent chocolate with exotic flavors, and although I do not like their health-food slant advertising, I can vouch for the taste and that is ultimately what matters. But let's go back to Valentine for a moment.

The pre-printed (Hallmark) cards replace the handwritten notes -nobody knows how to write anymore- or Valentines that were commonly used in the Middle Ages. These cards invariably depict a symbol, known as a heart-shaped outline. The heart-shape of course does not look like a real heart and is only called heart-shaped to conceal its true -and very obvious- X rated meaning.

What shape is this really?

Hint: for those of you who are a little slow on the uptake it sometimes helps to turn things upside down. 

Or you could just invert the following sequence. Falling in love as we all know has been attributed to little creatures shooting arrows through the heart. I won't go into any more detail because that is obviously not safe for work either, but let's just say that real arrows through real hearts are rather deadly, so we have to assume that the arrows and hearts in question really refer to other parts of the human anatomy. If you are still in the dark now, better leave it as is.

Speaking of little creatures, this weekend saw another upset of epic proportions. Just ask any Justin Bieber fan. The insult bestowed upon these good people is worse than deleting Saint Valentine's day from the calendar. The shocking news overshadowed the outrage expressed at Riccardo Ricco's vile deed. Or indeed the opinion of the highest Spanish magistrate that Alberto Contador is innocent and should walk free.

Injustices like these evoke cosmic wrath and it is therefore not surprising that cold storms and wintery weather have returned to lash the Bay Area. The upcoming week-long mayhem is sure to throw a monkey wrench into the carefully designed training plans of many a Bay Area cyclist or triathlete.

It has certainly made me think twice about the upcoming Pony Express ultra endurance run. Ever since inclement weather ditched my first ultra running event , I have been looking for a suitable alternative. It now appears weather is once again attempting to dissuade me. This time around I am more likely to wimp out since I am ill prepared for this type of adventure. With all the great weather in January and early February I have been riding a lot more than I usually do this time of year. More riding also equals less running.

Speaking of riding, the Parlee Z4 is back. The good people at Parlee fixed the bike that Alistair crashed last Thanksgiving. The top tube has been repaired so well it looks like new. The bike has been rebuilt with SRAM force and a black Thomson seat post to replace the aluminum-colored one that was there before. Overall, the esthetics has improved a lot and the bike looks truly gorgeous. It was topped off with a two-color red-white handlebar tape that is sure to impress even the most cynical bicycle blogger.

We also decided to keep the Moots that AC built. Here is a picture of Alistair riding it in Marin. That picture also appeared on the Moots blog under the heading California Dreamin'. (That all happened before the weather turned nasty on us.)

Alistair on the Moots, climbing the Marshall wall
This week also marks the start of the Tour of Oman. The event is sure to turn the attention of the world back to the Arab nations, that are still reeling from the recent upset brought about by Mark Renshaw's shocking victory.

No comments: