Saturday, December 28, 2013


Amy's mom is a daycare nurse. She is a good person and is always becoming friends with her clients. I guess it might be hard not to when you are shaving and bathing adults.

Anyway, she arranged for us all to have dinner last night with one of her clients. He has ALS. His arms dont work. Like at all. He seems to be fortunate enough to be surrounded by a good group of family members that are his caretakers.

He is going in for brain surgery. It has a chance of killing him, and wont benefit him. They are going to implant a chip on his brain and read his brainwaves for 30 days. From this they hope to be able to have robotic arms and whatnot that can be directed by this chip implanted in the brain.

So Amy asked if he is nervous and he said that he was not planning on living past 4 years ago, so it has all been borrowed time since then. He hopes that it can help either amputees or people with diseases like MS, ALS, etc.  

I think we all see stories on TV of people who overcome giant obstacles to have a great outlook on life. It was kind of crazy to do this in real life. The dude goes into surgery next Friday and isnt totally sure that he will come out.

Below is a video of Tim. He was the first of two people to do this. The man I had dinner with will be the third, and the first with ALS to have the surgery.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The biggest project I have ever taken on.

So I find myself showing people crappy photos of this on my phone a lot, so I thought that I would just post here.

Amy moved her business out of the house over a year ago. We were out of space and it was driving me nuts. She rented a store front in a neighborhood a few miles away. Paying rent is for suckers, so when I saw a building that we could potentially afford we pursued it.

This is the dump that we bought. It is on the other side of our neighborhood, would hold value and could work. We bought it knowing that we had to put a roof on and do some other work. Not ideal, but better than renting a similarly crappy place further away.

So we thought we would get rid of the flat roof and put a new sloped roof on. That shouldnt be a big deal, right? In order to get a building permit, we needed the use code to be changed. It was  zoned commercial grocery, meaning that we could use it as a grocery store. To use it as anything else besides a house, we needed to go in front of the zoning board, or just move in and use it and never get a building permit, which is what people had done for decades.

Multiple trips to the office downtown (they dont answer phones or email...) we end up with an engineers drawing of what we needed. That drawing surprisingly costs a lot of money. Also the engineer downtown says that doing what we want to do is "new construction" and we have to abide by new construction commercial codes.
This is what happens when framers find  out that it is new construction. They tore the old frame building down and left the toilet. They used the toilet. No seriously. Also at this point we did not have a building permit, or a change of use. We basically went from having a very small asset to a very large liability. Fun.

This is gnarly yinzer dudes framing a building.

The framing went crazy fast. This gave us some delusion that it would be a quick process. Everything was behind schedule and over budget. If you have children, send them to trade school.

Finally the inside mostly done. We redid the cement floors, added a door and did some trim. Our friend Matt did the shelves. They are huge. That wall is 16' high.

 Blurry photo of the shelves and the desk. Looks pretty sick. Matt was so into this, it was really crazy how he built each box, and then mounted them one by one. He left a small gap between them to create that  dark line.

 Matt and super fast bike racer Mark Nicol collaborated on making a library ladder here.  It is on a track and moves side to side. Seems easy until I tell you that the floor is like 4" out of line. In the middle there is a ball joint that acts as suspension and allows it to move around to make up for the floor not being level. Pretty smart.

Finally, this is it. We did metal siding and big windows. There is so much natural light inside, it is crazy. There are 4 skylights and those big windows.  Pretty cool.

Google tags: Lawrenceville Pittsburgh 15201 art studio metal sales metal siding garbella studio screenprinting studio  custom shelves  library ladder  DIY library ladder 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Finally some real adventure...

It has been a while since I have done anything super exciting. It takes a decent amount to be in over my head.
I did some research and found the quehanna trail in pa. It is the most remote part of pa and from what I could read online it's pretty out there and remote. 
I packed my scooter up and headed off with the intentions of doing a 50 mile loop. I would start at Parker dam state park and do the quehanna trail to the eastern connector (shortens trail from 70 to 50 miles). 
Overall I was impressed. It was well maintained. Well signed. Lots of trail registers to keep track of progress in case people go missing. 
Being alone was okay and I played it as safe as I could. I would cook dinner a few miles before setting up camp. I would hang my food and my backpack in different places and not wear any clothes that I coined in while sleeping. 
The scariest thing that happened was after cooking on the second day, I was walking along banging my treking poles on the rocks as I stepped when a rattlesnake spooked me. I jumped sooooo far and screamed like a girl. It was the largest rattlesnake I have ever seen. It rattled a few more times as I walked away. Holy shit. I think statistically larger rattle snakes actually put off less venom, but whatever. 
That night I listened to eastern coyotes howl all night. 

Overall a good time.  However compared to out west or when I did the great divide it was not as remote As the Internet made it sound. 

120 miles of scooting to the start. 

Basically all that I saw for a few days 

Proud of this bear bag. 
Sunset a mile or so after rattlesnake incident. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

I just want to go for a bike ride.

I just want to go for a bike ride without people ruining it.
I want to go for a bike ride without car drivers shaking their heads at me as they pass.
I just want to go for a bike ride without off leash dogs biting me.
I want to go for a bike ride where no car that passes me has a driver that is texting.
I want to go for a bike ride where cars actually abide by the 4 foot passing law, or even half of it. I would
be happy with 2 feet to be honest.
I want to go for a bike ride where there is not garbage and debris on the shoulder for the entire ride.
I want to go for a bike ride where I actually de stress instead of adding stress.
I want to go for a bike ride where at no point am I worried about coming home alive.
This is my slobber ridden bloody leg after getting bit yesterday. The lady had 9 dogs all off leash.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I have like 50 drafts half done.

I have like 50 drafts in my blog homepage that are half done.
One is about how we bought a commercial building and are totally rehabbing it to move Garbella into it. This story involves dealing with pensioned city workers, zoning, engineers etc. It isnt very exciting, but documents hundreds of hours that I was not doing other stuff. That will come shortly.

Another is about trying to be a better person and joining Big Brothers Big Sisters to try and do something besides ride bikes and make money. So far so good.

Anyway, the wife and I were just talking about a friend, peer, acquaintance. Whatever you want to call him. We grew up in similar fashion, learned to embrace being "athletes" while still trying to be punk, or conscious or whatever. He took to running. He was doing crazy fast marathons, trying to be an olympic alternate... Pretty legit athlete.

Long story short... then he found out he had stage 4 cancer. His blog then went from documenting the struggles of training while working with everyday life, (something that if you are reading this, you can probably relate...)... Now his blog is about his fight against cancer. It is insane, because it could literally be anybody reading this. It could be me, you, your family members...

Anyway, he is inspiring and it is motivation to do what you should be doing instead of wishing that it was cooler outside, or warmer outside, or less windy, or a better hour, or lighter, or less work stress.. etc.

Scott is a solid dude and I know he is going to be back on top of his game shortly.
Run Fast Run Vegan is his blog.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

3 races in 30 hours, not a stage race.

Saturday: Rode out to a local crit. Took the bike trail there. Raced, set power records, got dominated, rode home. Close to 70 miles in 4 hours.

Went and showed some houses and did some work stuff.

Me and Babik hopped in the car to head to Bad Andy's and Bad Kat's in Lancaster. This mission was inspired by the time Bad Andy won the State Crit championship and then raced a nighttime mountain bike race.

Sunday: We were on the road by 630 for the MASS Fair Hill Mountain bike race. It is in that weird area that is like Lancaster, Maryland and Delaware all in one. 9 am start. Anyway, much like last weekend at Greenbrier, I cracked on the first lap and settled into the second group. Racing for 4th -7th. I stacked it like a PRO on the last lap. 6th place. Babik had an awful morning and got beat by dudes in baggies with camelbacks.

After getting paid, we headed to Lititz for a crit. I ate some salt and vinegar chips and drank some cokes. The energy levels were very, very low. I was informed that I left my fancy carbon mountain bike wheel at the first race. We hit a railroad track "jump" and my bike mostly fell off the roof. Rain was coming... failure imminent.

Anyway, Rock Tour of Lititz was awesome. It would have been worth going out for without the morning race. Proud to say that the Pro 1/2 field had like 6 dudes from PIttsburgh in it. That is awesome. We raced around in circles for an hour. I barely finished. Last place in the money. Nice. Babik raced like a stud and got 6th, despite not really having a teammate.

Bad Andy took this of us. I have compression tights on. He didnt cut them out like I asked. That is awesome. Mountain Bikes on the roof, road bikes on the ground.

Have to post me representing c3-20/20. Great people. Im in full crypt keeper mode here. Makes me happy to see my right finger on the lever. Old BMX habit to stop yourself from looping out (like landing on your back wheel and falling backwards... you simply tap your rear brake and your front end comes right down)

My bro found this magazine in his basement. That is him getting rad. We used to be good at riding bikes.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I used to be bohemian and cool and young...

Before totally selling out, I was trying to string together gigs to make a living. I was driving a cab all winter to get cash for the summer.

This blog entry is from 2008. I think I made like 2,000 bucks in a weekend. At the time I was making like 12,000 a year. Nuts. I miss riding home at 4am over the 31st street bridge. It was so quiet compared to the cab all night.

"24 hours of driving a taxi on Saint Patricks Day"

0000: Had already been in cab for 17 of previous 24 hours.
0100: Bar crowds. Tired.
0200: eGot tipped with 2 cans of keystone Ice
0300: Gnoshing hard in my kitchen followed by passing out
0730: Awake
0800: Driving Korean woman to Airport. I drop an ANYONG! on her. She hugged me when she left. Cute. First emotional airport goodbye. haha
0900: Watching the new meter rates take effect. 50 cents per 1/7 of mile after 20 miles at 75mph adds up quickly. Its like a buck every 25 seconds.
1000: Slowly drive by bus stops and pick up people going to town who are already drunk for like 4 hours straight
1500: Get out of cab for first time of the day to buy gas/coffee
1600: Awkward fighting/crying couple in my cab. Should have recorded it
1700: Person hit by car at station square. Blood on the road. Traffic is MORE CRAZY
1710: I turn into the person that is more worried about the traffic than somebody maybe dying
1800: Feels like 3 am. Pick up 1st sober people since 8am. Indian family going to greentree. It was quiet in th cab for the first time in like 8 hours, culture shock.
1900: Literally cant go into a Panera bread without somebody inside needing a ride
2000: Slowing down. Darkness setting in. Thinking that street signs and mail boxes are waving me down
2030: Power trip sets in. Kicking people out of cab. Price gouging. Only taking fares that are 20 dollars or more. Pointing at the most sober looking people in the crowds that are waving at me and unlocking the doors for only them
2100: Nearly fall asleep while waiting for a fare in a dark parkinglot
2200: Normal "saturday night" crowd starts leaving to go to bars. Realize how early it is.
2300: It starts getting really ugly. Peole kicking the cab as I drive past or punching the windows. Yeah let me pick you up... you are punching a car
2359: Eat chocolate biscotti and drink more coffee.... only 4 more hours to go.
Assholes of the year: I drop a couple off at the Strip club at in Mckees rocks at 3am. She is paying with a card, which takes 3 or 4 minutes after we stop to run/sign/print etc. This guy is beating on my window yelling at me to take him home while all this happens. The security guard has to move him away to let the woman out. People surround the taxi and are fighting over it and who I am going to take home.

The origional plan was that: This woman was going to pay me a ridiculous hourly fee to wait for her and her husband and then to drive them home. While waiting for them, she was going to buy me lap dances, which would have just been hilarious. It would have been a memorable ending to a long day. This was an awesome plan until MONGO wouldnt let me out of the cab without trying to fight me. I literally couldnt get out of my cab. I was seriously worried for my safety and the car, they were kicking it and stuff. I tell the woman that I cant stay, which sucks for her, because she isnt going to have a ride home.

After that, I gassed it up (I bought like 200 dollars worth of gas in 2 days) and turned it in, despite probably being able to make a ton more cash.

Caught a ride home from a driver who was doing 90mph on 28 by the 31st bridge where it is 35mph.

Totals: 2 x 24 hour leases with 3 additional stolen hours = 51 hours of lease time 10- 12 hours of sleep/home time 3 hours spent eating a sweet dinner at a fancy hotel with spin class people = 36 hours sitting in the yellow cab. That is like a full time job or something.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seeing about 150,000 in furniture..

One cool thing about my job is seeing neat houses, neat buildings and cool renovations.

I was in a house a few days ago. It was built around 1910. It looks like a standard Pittsburgh house from the exterior. Probably about 3400 sq ft, brick, Victorian...

The current owner is an architect, or was an architect and is now retired. He gutted the house to studs in 1960 and made it "mid century modern" inside. This was neat, because you would never expect it from the outside.

Anyway, all of his furniture was period correct. My buyers were wandering about the house as we were wrapping up and I started talking to him. Usually Sellers leave, but sometimes when they are old, they just hang out and answer questions.

I asked who made his table, chairs and a few other pieces in the dining room...

He tells me that George Nakashima did. I asked him where he got them. "From George" he said in a matter of fact manner.

I can go on the record as saying that I dont give a fuck about expensive stuff, especially furniture. I dont harp or DWELL (get it) on it. I really do not care. However I was really into this stuff, and I was pretty sure that I knew who he was, but didnt want to put my foot in my mouth...

Anyway, I went home and googled him a bunch to find out that some of his dining tables alone are selling for 100k. He also made the Peace Table at the Hague. It was more art than furniture and it did stand out in such a way.

Yes this is one of the most exciting things that has happened to me recently

Looked very similar to this, with super rad chairs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nostalgia for bike riding

I still feel like I am new to the whole bike riding and racing thing. I have only been riding road bikes for 14 or so years at this point. I guess that is a long time, but sometimes it still seems pretty recent.

Pittsburgh is lucky to have some great riding. We can go North of the city and not see a red light for 100 miles from the city limits (If you are doubting this, 62nd st bridge to Ravine or Kittaning Pike to Hunt to Fox Chapel....).

Yesterday I did a loop that I really enjoy. It is 50 miles and has 5000 feet of climbing. It is just hard. I modify it this time of year to make it more tolerable. Anyway, I came across some new housing developments along the route. The only other time that I remember having this feeling was when I went to my childhood home, and the woods that I played in were now houses. People like new houses. I pay for everything in my life from people buying and selling houses. However, I feel as if somebody is taking something away. Not taking it away from me, but just taking away experiences from the kids who live in my childhood house, or the juniors who are going to have to ride another 20 minutes out of the city until they can ride two abreast and not feel threatened by cars.

This was once all woods. They were woods on top of old slag dumps, so I am not even sure that these houses have basements.

This is a classic hill that is a 20%+ grade. It is/was a beautiful road. The powers that be are developing the area and turning it into a more manageable 8% or so. Shame.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cyclocross Season... Nationals Etc.

So after taking a month off racing after a decent result at the UCI race in South Carolina, I headed to Madison WI for nationals. Me and Steve K took the fit. No exterior racks. Everything inside. 34mpg for 1200 miles round trip.

Pittsburgh had some seriously awful weather which made working out outside pretty tough.I did a lot of trainer riding for two weeks. In fact I did more in the first two weeks of December than I did in the 8 years before. That sucks, but what can you do?

I figured that I would race my hardest, put no pressure on myself and have fun. Then I saw this on a popular race predicting website.

That got the nerves going.

Saturday: 30-34 Champs I had a second row start. The conditions suited me to do well. I had a killer pit crew and was ready to take 2 bikes per lap. Unfortunately the mud iced over and I didnt need to.It also turned the race into somewhat of a drag race and less of a steering contest. I dangled in the 6/7/8/9/10 spot for bunch of laps and ultimately got 10th.

Elite Race I actually felt good. I was warm. I could feel my fingers and had on gloves that allowed me to have dexterity. I started a little bit fast and eventually worked my way back to the 30's. This was fine. For my last lap and a half I couldnt get into my pedals due to ice pack. At one point I honestly thought that I had knocked my cleat off while smacking it off of my pedal. I would put my foot against my pedal and it felt like a road shoe with no cleat on it. I was so frustrated. I had a few groups ride through me while I was kicking my pedals and pedaling with one foot. So be it. 48th. Nothing to be ashamed of.
My coach, Kris Auer at Athlete Development Group told me earlier this year that my heart has always been in it, but I finally stepped it up. This season was great for me and I have no regrets. It was by far the strongest,smoothest and most confident that I have ridden. I had great equipment and was constantly surrounded by good people. With that I do have to thank everybody. I raced 26 cross races this year. That is a lot for me.

Coach Kris at ADG and twenty/20 cycling. He definitely moved me up a group as far as where I was finishing. He also ran the team and stood in the pit at every race. On Saturday at nationals he raced at 9am and then stood in the pit for the 6 hours after.

C3 teammates. I still feel like one of the new guys and a bit of an outsider due to me living in Pittsburgh, but I got to do a lot more races with everybody and am stoked to be a part of the team. Watching and helping with the Charm City weekend was the definition of team work.

Pittsburgh travel posse. Ed and Brett are my boys. We drive a lot. There is a hashtag for instagram #bikeracermarriage because we hang out more together than with our wives sometimes.