The World According to Cb...

The World According to Cb...

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Art of Being Hand Made

Austin was very fortunate to host the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) this past weekend.  While certainly an event for the true geeks at heart, I was more struck with the opportunity to use bikes as mediums for art as I was the technical expertise involved. 

Sure there’s the chance to admire perfection in the smoothness of a weld line or the using of different components or materials like bamboo, but for me that’s like looking at a marble sculpture and being big on the chiseling technique as opposed to the art or the message, but to each his own. 

I prefer to stand back a couple of feet and try and feel what the creator is trying to convey.  While this may seem a bit esoteric for a damn bike, I think you can actually feel what it is made for, whether that’s practicality, speed, or just motion in action.  I was really impressed with Shin-Ichi Konno’s Cherubim bike, simply one of the best examples of art meeting cycling I’ve ever seen.

The other thing that really struck me was that color is back.  We’re seeing a resurgence not only in the handmade side of things, but top retail bikes are getting makeovers as well.  I know that some folks have gone in exactly the opposite direction and are going with truly raw materials, but I have to say I like that these artists are finding ways to express the intent and even emotion that their rides innately have.

At the end of the day the bike continues to be one of the most utilitarian machines man has ever invented.  But to see what true craftsmen can do to celebrate the many facets bikes have contributed to our society is really impressive.  “Bike porn,” some have called it.  I’ll take it and look forward to seeing what 2012 and beyond has to bring.  Ciao for now – Cb…

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rescue Me

Most of you who read this already know by now that I’ve got a new family member, Gizmo – actually he joins us this afternoon and I’m sitting here at work like a nervous father waiting for the delivery… and despite the very real sadness of losing Sky and Zoe for the most part, there is a definite bright side to this story.

It’s not so much that Giz is a great dog.  In fact the first time I met him I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to work out.  He was skittish to say the least, but then I went into Dog Whisper mode and thought, “Hey, he was used to a home for the last two years, now he’s essentially in Gitmo with 100 other dogs flipping out on a cold concrete floor.  I’d be a bit freaked out, too.”

Not sure about all of this...
So the following day I came back and took him as far away from the howling herd as I could, and the real Gizmo came out.  You could see he wanted to play (he’s lightning fast), wanted some safety and attention, and it wasn’t long before I knew things would work out just fine.  (At least that’s what I’m telling myself, hell, he could come home and chew up half of Chez Brewer tonight for all I know… but I’m thinking not so much.)

But the real bright side to the story is one of rescue.  Zoe and Sky came from Austin’s Town Lake Animal Shelter – a great place for sure, but one where your time at hand is definitely limited before you go to the Big Sleep – and that’s where Giz came from, too.  So at the end of the day, three great dogs have been saved and will hopefully live long and full lives with their families.

So the next time you’re looking for a lifelong friend, I hope you’ll give great thought to checking out the pound puppies in your local shelter.  I know I’m glad we did, three times in fact.  Have a great weekend, ciao for now – Cb…

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Heroes Have Not Always Been Cowboys

I’m definitely not one for being purely a fan of celebrities (OK, those of you who know me, one exception: Olivia Newton-John in the final scene of Grease – wow – but I digress).  But there have been a couple of people I’ve admired over the years who have accomplished great things and have also had their moment in the spotlight.  Of course there’s Lance, the shining moment for me being atop the final podium on the Champs Elysees in 199. That was the date I think millions of people with cancer “came out of the closet” and embraced being a survivor and no longer a victim.  A great moment for sure...

But the one person I’ve always really admired, and not so much for what he accomplished, but for his incredible work ethic, is Eric Heiden.  Many of you will recall this American icon of speed skating and his five gold medals in the 1980 Olympics.  I remember watching a documentary on his training process and what it took to be the best in the world in a sport that his home country could hardly care less about, save for a couple of weeks every four years.  But Eric’s story goes on a lot further.  After skating he was a pro cyclist  on the ground breaking American 7-Eleven team, then went to medical school, serving after as a team physician for many years / sports before finally following in his father’s footsteps and is a respected orthopedic surgeon to this day.  Talk about over achieving.

But today on a much smaller stage in a smaller spotlight another athlete who accomplished a great feat. Testicular cancer survivor / Team RadioShack rider Markel Irizar won the overall title at the Spanish Ruta del Sol race today.  I got to hang out with Markel quite a bit at the Tour Down Under recently, and I'm happy to say he’s a great guy and always looking for ways to give back.  And as you can see by the smile on his face he’s a very positive guy with a lot of talent on the bike.  A good guy to look up to.

So cheers to the men and women that give us hope and inspiration for leading by example.  We need more folks like this, not only for us to look up to, but to point our young people towards.  Who are the folks you look up to, and more importantly, why?  Ciao for now – Cb…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Terrible Twos at LIVESTRONG HQ

Today is a big day here at LIVESTRONG HQ, it’s our two year anniversary of moving in!  The odd thing about it for the staff is we feel like we’ve been here for much longer.  I think that’s indicative of the thought that went into creating this amazing facility, it never really had that “new car smell” to it, to quote the eminent Goldilocks upon her discovery of the third bed, “ felt just right.”

The secret of the great vibe here though has more to do with the attitude of “laidback professionalism” among the staff than it does for the excellent facility and furnishings, but they do go hand in hand.  For example, everyone has the same 4 foot high cubicle from the CEO on down.  Not only does this keep everyone on a level playing field from a “has / has not” perspective, but it also facilitates conversation as it’s easy to make eye contact as you’re walking by.

Chris Land 

The lifestyle culture of LIVESTRONG amongst the staff also builds on the amazing, gold LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) building.  Lance and other supporters have donated a lot of very cool artwork throughout the place – not a single dollar we’ve raised goes to this at all – but add in things like we don’t have office hours, or a strict dress policy, heck, we don’t even have vacation or sick time… everyone is expected to do their jobs, dress appropriately, and take time off coordinated with your boss when you need it, it’s that simple.

So at the end of the day this great facility creates an atmosphere of creative and entrepreneurial energy that allows us to do our mission of supporting people living with cancer through direct services and creating a platform for advocacy.  Ultimately though we have to thank you – our supporters – because without your support of time, talent, and treasure this Foundation, these people, and of course this incredible HQ wouldn’t exist.  So THANKS – for all you do! – and we’ll talk soon.  Ciao for now – Cb…

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life as We View It

A friend of mine noted that I haven’t been updating here like I said I would, and that was a point well taken.  I think it’s just that life is rolling along so well these days, the inspiration seemed to be coming more from either a negative observation or from trying to solve some kind of problem.

But that in itself got me to thinking that despite my very positive outlook on life these days, I do have some very real challenges.  Life as a single parent is always interesting, and life as a 48 year old single guy is very interesting…  and my most recent real downer was my decision to let my ex have our two dogs full time, rather than wait months and months and then she got “custody.” (I’ll be looking for a new pound pup to rescue very soon!)

So what’s the trick then to having these seemingly big obstacles / challenges and still waking up looking forward to the day?  Simply put: my decision to view things positively.  I recall reading a quote from the Dali Lama that basically said each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and I totally agree.

There are people in this world that if you gave them a million dollars they’d bitch about the taxes.  And then there are others who live in abject poverty yet have the attitude of a king.  For the most part, it’s how they decide to view their place in life and how they choose to act on it.

So for me, I’m blessed to be able to choose to be happy and positive.  Sure, there are instances when I’m pissed off or sad, but those are thankfully very few and far between.  Like I said in a previous column, it’s more about appreciating what I have and not lamenting what I don’t.  Give it a shot, it’s a good life and the only one we’ve got – you might as well enjoy it!  Ciao for now – Cb…

Monday, February 07, 2011

On the Receiving End

Had an interesting life experience a few nights ago – one of those ones where the more you tell the story the more you realize just how close you came to something really bad…

My friend Will and I were almost to my house after a great dinner with another colleague and Board Member.  For those who kept up on Austin “Snowpacalyspe 2011” this was right in the thick of the onslaught (more commonly referred to as a dusting in places where there is actual winter).  That noted, Will was driving cautiously, as much out of concern for being around Austinites who can’t drive in bad weather as the weather itself.


I thought something in the rear car had exploded, sending some large blunt object forcibly right into the back of my chair.  Then Will and I realized we were about 100 yards further down the road than we had just been, and that there was a minivan smoking from the front, pulling up onto the sidewalk.  Yep, we’d done been rear-ended…

After doing the obligatory checks to see if either of us was badly hurt and/or the car was one fire, we got out to check on things – DAMN it was cold – aside from both of our backs more than a little sore and Will’s rear end shoved in (the car, not Will per se) we were OK.  Then we saw the driver of the minvan stumble out – his air bag had been deployed – and we thought he was stunned and looking for somewhere to sit down.  Then he crossed the street. And into the adjacent parking lot.  And up the hill – and was gone into the night…

The fire and police departments were soon on the scene and handled things very professionally, making sure we were OK and documenting the vehicle info from the guy who hit us.  Leaving an entire car on the scene as you make your get away doesn’t require Serpico to track you down.  (But I’m assuming he’ll avoid a DUI in the process) – we found out later the car was “borrowed without permission” so he’ll be answering to that as well.

But back to my main point, as I sit here heading to the doc to get my back checked out: I am sitting here typing at you.  And for that I’m truly grateful, being on the receiving end can certainly give you some perspective.  Ciao for now – Cb….

About Me

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Austin, TX, United States
A proud single dad, strong cancer survivor, and a guy who loves his bike, red wine, family and friends - the order is dependent on my mood...