Think about those numbers. Compare Michael Jordan’s height / weight:
SG Michael Jordan: 6-6 / 216 lbs.
SG Dwyane Wade: 6-2 / 220 lbs.
And Jordan was big for the league of his day. When he first entered the league, MJ weighed only 200 pounds. He bulked up after the Pistons manhandled him in both the 1989 and 1990 Eastern Conference Finals using their new defensive strategy, the “Jordan Rules.” Jordan himself attributes his 1991 success in defeating the Jordan Rules to his increased power and bulk from off-season strength training. (See ESPN Films, 30 for 30 Bad Boys.)
This seems to mark the beginning of the arms race in ever more massive NBA bodies. The trend’s logical conclusion? Shaquille O’Neal, heaviest (and, some would argue, most overrated) NBA star of all-time. Shaq scored a lot, passed the ball little. If you’re seven feet tall, have explosive strength, and you weigh 100+ pounds more than the individual guarding you, why wouldn’t you?
Too many NBA teams today feature an incredibly powerful superstar, give him the ball, and have him fly at the rim, scattering smaller defenders like bowling pins. It makes for some eye-popping individual player highlights. But I prefer team ball.
Ball movement is NBA conventional wisdom. But it’s also something of a lost art. The TV-announcer euphemism for high-time-of-possession individuals is the “go-to” player; NBA coaches use the term “ball stopper.” That term indicates the stoppage of ball movement on offense, not on defense. While there’s nothing about built-up muscles that prevents a player from passing the ball, if you were bigger, stronger, and faster than nine of ten players on the floor, it would seem a rational choice to keep the ball and score 35 points.
It’s a legitimate choice, I suppose. But is it merely a distraction from the true team-nature of basketball? Is it just a coincidence that Coach Popovich has put together his team without any players that could pass for an NFL linebacker?
Some of the league’s current young guns:
Eric Bledsoe — 6-1 / 200 lbs. Dwight Howard — 6-10 / 265
Corey Magette — 6-5 / 225
This is a shoe the Spurs just don’t fit.
Am I right? I mean, think about this collection of guys.
Tony Parker — 6-1 / 180 lbs.
Manu Ginobli — 6-6 / 200 lbs.
Danny Green — 6-6 / 205
Kawhi Leonard — 6-7 / 225
Matt Bonner — 6-10 / 235
Tim Duncan — 7-0 / 250
Of their amazing 2014 Finals dominance, Manu Ginobili commented on how “differently” the Spurs play. In the Bleacher Report piece “Passing stats Illustrate Spurs Dominance in Finals,” Ginobili says “if you don’t have as much talent, you still can do it. You can move the ball and put a lot of pressure on the defense.” He may as well have said “if you don’t have as much muscle . . .”
Judging from their bodies, as a team, the Spurs don’t just play different. They are different.
I recently found this knife of ours had become chipped pretty badly. I didn’t care all that much. Not only was it a castoff from a friend who’d downsized her kitchen. It was just a $40 item from Chicago Cutlery. Had the chipping appeared on our $140 Wusthof chef’s knife, I would have cared a lot.
This knife? Nah. When I found it chipped, I sneered briefly planned obsolescence. My Filipino parents would say of this scenario sayang, as in, What a waste.
I cook without my reading glasses, so didn’t notice the chipping ’til it got pretty bad.
Turns out, I should have been sayang-ing at myself. The chipping wasn’t caused by cheap, flawed steel or poor quality control. It was me.
After hand-washing my knives, I stand them on edge to air dry. I learned somewhere that air-drying is best for keeping knives sterile after washing.
Turns out, air-drying is perfect — if you want droplets of water to collect on the cutting edge, weakening the steel as they slowly evaporate. Then, when sharpened, the weak spots flake rather than grind. Hence, the chips.
Now for the happy ending.
By chance in an airport lounge, I learned of my errant ways from The Today Show. A quick Google search then led me to this YouTube tutorial. Have a look-see at how to easily repair a chipped knife.
Murray Carter of Carter Cutlery going to town on his knife
For regular-maintenance sharpening, I’d been using a rolling-wheel sharpener (below). Bad. Not only is the grain to coarse. Its design makes it impossible to keep a consistent grinding angle. This contributes to the chipping–this blunt instrument (as it were) wreaking havoc on the weakened steel. We do have a rarely used whetstone. I’d never used it because the user manual insists on a technique that’s slow to the point of absurdity. (“Pull the knife toward you five times, for two seconds each time. Then reverse directions, away five times. Repeat this alternating cycle fifty to one hundred times.”)
Little roll-ie sharpener
Wrong! The whetstone used Murray-Carter style (GIF-image, above) is actually a real pleasure. And fast, too.
In September, I put on a new chain. After just two weeks, it started showing rust. Yes, I do lockup outside. But the rust would come even after dry, sun-baked weather. What the hell?
The rust does come off easily. But I found myself having to lube five times a month. Uh, no. I don’t love my bike that much.
So what caused the premature corrosion? Had my LBS (local bicycle shop) sold me an old chain that had been sitting on a back shelf for years? No. With the rust off, the steel plates gleam way too brightly for that scenario. I did switch brands of lubricant earlier in the year. Was that the problem? Couldn’t be — otherwise, my previous chain would’ve demo’d this problem, too.
I’ll cut to the chase. The problem was me.
Yep. I got lazy. Rather than my standard style of chain maintenance, in which I use a lot of oil, I started a new lubing regimen of only a single drop on each link. Just a single drop freed me from the interminable chore of wiping off excess oil. I hate having black, grimy fingers and a backache. With only a single drop per link, I could just wave a towel at my bike from ten feet away and call it done.
The question of “one single drop per link” versus five is a raging debate on the Web.
Countless expert bike maintenance articles recommend “a single drop” of chain lube.
My whole life I’d been in the five-drops camp. Why change now? I’ll tell you why: I’m pushing 50. Hunching over for ten minutes straight to wipe off excess oil is a young man’s game.
Or so I thought.
Using just a single drop may have saved me the initial headache of wiping the chain. But talk about penny wise, pound foolish. Lubing every five days easily tripled my chain-lubing work each month. Now I had this chore six times per month instead of once or twice. I got so tired of crouching down, I splurged on a $130 bike stand, so I could at least I could stand upright. But that meant hoisting my anchor-heavy, 1980’s, steel mountain bike onto the stand and fiddling it into the tricky clamp. And when the weather got too cold to do the work outside, I’d have to carry this beast of a bike (43 lbs. with full fenders and a rack) up two flights of stairs. Did I mention I’m forty-nine years old?
Plus, turns out the main reasons I switched to the single-drop method aren’t as persuasive after three months of all this hassle. Back in August, the single-drop advocates had me convinced with their seeming logic:
over-lubing creates part-destroying grime;
wiping a dirty chain drives grit from the surface to the interior and causes the chain to gnash on itself;
ignore this advice, risk a broken chain.
Well, people? I’ve tried it your way. It’s just not worth it. You might be right, my drive train might wear out faster. Or a broken link might strand me on a trail miles from nowhere.
But I don’t give a crap, anymore. I did care for a few months. Never, again.
(I’ve never in my life had a chain break on me. Have you?)
I watched an exceptionally good horror film on Netflix, called The Babadook. One thing I like to do after seeing a good movie is try to reverse engineer the screenplay. What was the spark that inspired the screenwriter?
In this case the spark was likely a familiar domestic scenario in fiction: what tvtropes.org calls “Maternal Death, Blame the Child” — i.e., the mother dies in childbirth, and the father resents the child.
In this breakout Australian film, the genders are reversed. It’s the father who dies in a horrific auto accident while rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital. Fast-forward seven years, and you have single mother Amelia, struggling to raise her stormy, high-strung son, Sam. The lines on Amelia’s face hint at the toll Sam has taken on her with his eccentric hyperactivity. At just seven years old, Sam has developed a spastic repertoire of magician’s tricks, while fashioning homespun mechanical weapons that shatter windows and break dishes.
The film makes clear Sam’s motive in demanding all of his mother’s attention. He’s afraid she doesn’t love him. It’s his greatest fear. And in a horror film, your greatest fear can turn murderous.
Amelia begins to fear this about herself, as well. Has she stopped loving her son? Though her affection for Sam is obvious, her sanity is wearing thin. She puts out Sam’s fires left and right: Sam ejected from school for bad behavior, Sam shoving his cousin out of her tree fort and breaking her nose.
Amelia is also horribly sleep deprived. With Sam’s birthday–also the anniversary of her husband’s death–fast approaching, she’s plagued by nightmares of the car crash that decapitated her husband seven years before.
Sam has nightmares, too. Amelia must soothe him long into the night. The best way is to let him sleep in her bed. But she’s robbed of her own sleep, as he clings to her. In two memorable close-ups, Sam’s hand grips her throat or he grinds his teeth right next to her ear.
As the sleep deprivation wears on her, Amelia begins to lose her temper. She snaps at Sam, curses, even. “If you’re so hungry, why don’t you eat shit!” She apologizes, horrified at herself.
But we’re not surprised. We see she’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Tellingly, that’s when the Babadook–a supernatural creature from a super-creepy children’s book–begins to terrorize them in their shadowy house.
Amelia reading the pop-up book “The Babadook” to her son, Sam
(Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the film yet, stop reading here.)
From that point on, the film plays as a supernatural slasher flick. The Babadook possesses Amelia’s body and targets Sam. It/she stalks him with a butcher knife.
Or, is it the case that Amelia has simply lost her mind? If so, the story shifts from supernatural thriller to psychological thriller and becomes much more disturbing.
But the camera storytelling keeps us on the fence. It’s a classic presentation of Freud’s the uncanny: we don’t know how to take Amelia’s violence–is she possessed or is she insane?
Rather than run away, Sam fights back. With his arsenal of homemade weapons, he pelts Amelia/Babadook with darts and bocce balls.
He slows her attack long enough to wrest her attention: “I know you don’t love me,” he shouts. “The Babadook won’t let you!”
It’s at that moment the film so movingly reveals the central metaphor: that Amelia’s grief at the loss of her husband poisons her relationship to her child. The Babadook represents her resentment. Resentment kills relationships.
At the risk of revealing too much, let’s just say Sam battles the Babadook to the end.
How to Choose a Great (And Not so Great) Bike Lock
When I bought a fancy bike last year, I felt I needed to upgrade my security for it. Holy cow, is there ever a swamp of options to wade through when choosing a bike lock. Cable locks. U-locks. Chains. Kryptonite. Onguard. Blackburn. Abus. And they’re all so different.
After many hours of research, I picked a very secure lock. Then immediately had buyer’s remorse. I wish someone had told me to consider weight and convenience. My purchase, a Kryptonite U-lock, model “New York Lock M-18WL,” for $120. While very secure, at 6.5 lbs it’s a total pain to carry around. After a few months, I got tired of schlepping that monster everywhere and had to find another, lighter-weight lock.
Back to the drawing board!
Two basic design principles had originally led me to buy the New York Lock M-18: a narrow shackle and 16mm thickness (or greater). These two design features neuter the two most common attacks against U-locks.
1) Bottle jacks: Bike thieves can bust open nearly any U-lock using a twenty-dollar tool available at any hardware store called a bottle jack, as demonstrated in this video . . . (Darn, YouTube has taken down all videos of bottle jacks defeating U-locks.) That is, unless the shackle is too narrow to fit a bottle jack inside the “U”. If the jack won’t fit, it’s useless against the lock. Here’s a photo of a bottle jack beginning to warp a U-lock shackle: (photo credit needed)
2) Bolt cutters: A shackle with a thickness of 16mm is too thick for the jaws of even the largest bolt cutters. Less than 16 mm can easily be cut by bolt cutters, like this:
The little brother of my New York Lock M-18, called the New York Fahgettaboudit Mini ($90), has both a narrow shackle and an 18mm thickness. And it’s lighter and smaller; its shackle is only 4 inches long, instead of 8 inches, making the NYF Mini only 4.55 pounds. I could have saved myself more research by just going with it. http://www.kryptonitelock.com/Pages/ProductInformation.aspx?PNumber=997986
But that’s still heavy. Worse, an even bigger problem is its shackle is actually too small to be practical. It’s so small, people ride around with the NYF Mini stuffed in their back pockets. For portability, that’s a pretty great feature. However, the shackle is so narrow, it severely limits the ways in which one can lock up a bike. It can lock a bike frame to a bike rack, but without room for either of the wheels. Plus, if your frame tubing is oversized, as mine is, good luck using the NYF Mini on a thicker street pole (like a parking meter). It just won’t work. And the lock is too small to lock up just the rear wheel, as shown below with a larger lock: (photo credit needed)
The Sweet Spot
I eventually found a U-lock by OnGuard, the Brute Mini ($70), which hits the sweet spot between strength and weight. At 16.8mm thickness, the Brute Mini is impervious to bolt cutter attack. Yet the lock weighs in at a svelte 3 lbs. The shackle is also about 15% larger than the NYF Mini. With just that much additional size, I rarely have difficulty locking up my bike. Yet the shackle is still too small to fit a bottle jack. (See my photo at the top of this post. There’s no way to fit a bottle jack inside the shackle.) http://onguardlock.com/products/u-locks/brute-mini-u-lock/
Bike Locks I Ruled Out
Lots of people use cable locks because they’re cheap and convenient. They’re lightweight and easy to stow. But against bolt cutters, they get snipped like ribbons. “Steel-jacketed” cable locks are a little better because they’re fatter. But they’re better only to the extent that a thief would need a second tool to get through it: one tool to flatten or saw through the (very thin) outer steel jacket, and bolt cutters for the inner cable. See the outer jacket separated from its inner cable, below. (Photo credit: http://lettershometoyou.wordpress.com/ )
Case-hardened hex link chain might seem like a solid option, especially since it is marketed to motorcycle owners. But the thickest hex chain is only 14mm. Thus, a pair of 42-in. bolt cutters can quickly dispense with even a $150 chain, as seen here:
Plus, a three-foot length of 14mm hex chain will run about 10 pounds. And that’s not including the lock! There is a security chain manufacturer in the UK called Almax, which produces thicker, non-hex links. But, again, the weight. Such beasts were never meant to be carried on a bicycle. Maybe for locking up at home, but certainly not to carry on one’s daily commute.
In my research I came across the very cool TiGr Lock. Sadly, I found it just after its Kickstarter campaign had expired. Doh! Missed my chance to get one for $100. Now that they’re on the market, the 0.75-in. version is $165, and the 1.25-in. version is $220. http://tigrlock.com/ Wired Magazine reviewed the TiGr Lock as “deliver[ing] the holy grail of locks–strength and lightness…” The 1.25-in version is immune to bolt cutters, and weighs a mere 1.5 lbs. Be still my heart.
But I’m just not able to plunk down $220 for a bike lock. Maybe if I hadn’t already squandered so much on that $120 albatross, the New York Lock M-18. Sigh.
(UPDATE: I spoke too soon in praising the TiGr Lock. Have a look at this video:
Granted, the TiGr Lock being cut in the video is the 0.75-in. model. But the bolt cutters snip that lock so easily, it’s hard to believe the wider version would make much difference. (The 1.25-in. model is wider, not thicker.)
Two Attacks NOT to Worry About
Ever heard of the liquid nitrogen attack? In bike thievery lore, a lock can be shattered if frozen with liquid nitrogen, then hit with a hammer. In the wild, liquid nitrogen is simply not a common threat. Here’s a discussion of it: http://www.creekcats.com/pnprice/bikelock.html
Also rare is the angle grinder attack. The first time I saw an angle grinder in action, my heart sank. An angle grinder can dispense with any lock listed here in 90 seconds, quicker with any lesser lock. Much quicker. The good news is they cause a scene. They throw a shower of sparks and shriek like a banshee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bphyY1pnjg8 To guard against an angle grinder attack, one simply needs to park one’s bike where 90 seconds of sparks and screeching noise would be unwise for the thief. (Photo credit needed.)
No matter what type of lock you use, there’s one security principle that undergirds all scenarios: how long you leave your bike unattended. The longer a bike sits in one spot, the higher the chances it will catch the eye of a bike thief. Also, knowledge that the owner won’t return anytime soon puts the bike thief at ease. That’s the worst kind of bike thief: the brazen thief, the confident thief. Even if your bike is secured well, given unlimited time, bike thieves will take what they can. (Photo: Luca Masters)
Ever get that dry cracked skin on your knuckles or at the side-edges of a fingertip? I can’t tell you how many different hand creams I’ve tried to prevent it in these Wisconsin winters. It’s a real problem. It’s not only the physical discomfort. It’s the anxiety of being out and about in the world with what are essentially open wounds. (Entrepreneurs shake a lot of hands!)
I’ve had to pull out the big guns. I’ve tried a couple of expensive, specialty products and some not so specialty home remedies. Turns out the best of the lot is also the cheapest. Namely, lip balm.
Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel, etc. — give any of them 36 hours with your cracked-skin convalescence, and they’ll put you on the road to epidermal ease. (Make sure you wash your hands before applying, or risk an infection.)
Also important, put away the liquid hand soaps ’til Springtime, especially the antibacterial ones. Get yourself a gentle bar soap with a lower pH.