Friday, November 30, 2012

New Hampshire Weighs In

Longtime friend of this blog Cafiend has not had good luck with his best Smackdown tree again this year:
As usual, my best tree eluded me. It stands majestically on a knoll in a nearby village not along one of my regular routes. This year it wasn't ready and then was stripped by tropical storm winds.

The trees I submit are maples around the shop in Wolfe City. I got artsy with the up-trunk shots because it's hard to get a good canopy shot from a distance. Buildings, streets and power lines interfere.

I knew those big winds were gonna cause trouble, dammit. Didn't stop Cafiend though... he sent me these three

and decided on this one as his official entry:

Very nice, indeed, don't you think?
Please have excellent weekends, everyone! The first "real" snow of this winter is falling outside my window. I hope it stays. Some snowy video will make a nice counterpoint to our next TARATS entry from Jen in El Paso Texas, TARATS 19th person to enter, which means it has surpassed last year in every way! Woot!
Yer Pal,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Texan Twins Totally Try To Take Top Tier TARATS Tally

Or, if you would rather, Doohickie entered this pair of trees in my contest:

I hope those two like each other okay; it would really suck to hate your yard mate and be rooted in the earth, I bet. No "just leaving" or stomping off for these two. I think these Twins are alright though. You can tell by the way they pop the same colour.

Yer Pal,

Wow I'm Lucky

The world is a violent and dangerous place for so many. I count my blessings all the time, a huge one being that I live in a beautiful First World country. I mean, I live in a place where a single rusty gun found in the river has a newspaper article written about it:
How lucky can I and my family and all of my fellow citizens be? Makes you feel ashamed of complaining about anything, ever, y'know?
Yer Pal,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Virginian, part II

Hey, no time to try to be clever today, but Mike A from Virginia sent me tree picture for TARATS. This is Part II because I already have one Viginian tree from Kenny. Brevity is Mike:
Saw your invite a while back. Here in Virginia, everything operates a bit slower. Cheers
Great tree, thanks Mike! Don't forget, you can see all of this year's entries by clicking this link.
Yer Pal,

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Texan Rebel and the Flowering Aussie

I'm gonna start writing Romance novels. I mean, look at that tag line! I hope you weren't getting all worked up for some steamy story that has nothing to do with pictures of trees, though. This is just a Third Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown post, so cool your jets and check out some trees, you sex-crazed freaks!

Email about what I'm calling the Texan Rebel:
 None of the other trees in Texas seem to get it, but this one does.  He (I think it’s a male) resides on the golf course at River Crest Country Club here in Fort Worth.  I snapped this picture today while running errands.  If you want to see more from the ride, click here (Facebook link):
 I was really pleased to get this entry from Doohickie, a reader who's been around pretty much since I started this thing. While I'm thinking of it, thanks to everyone who takes precious time to read my nonsense, whether you're a new arrival or long-time drivel junkie. I really appreciate it.
I also appreciate Doohickie's tree; it reminds me of that old Sesame Street bit:

Now, what about our "flowering Aussie"? This is an entry from a SECOND Australian person, Vicki! It is Spring in Australia, but as I have stated before, if Aussies want to enter my contest while I'm flogging it with the Spring trees they've got at the time, I'm gonna accept those pics.


Dear Rantwick

I live in Oz and it is not Autumn here, it is Spring so did not think I would be eligible to enter your wonderful competition, but then the other day I saw this tree in flower and it looked so much like an Autumn tree that I decided to give it a go, as you seemed to be flexible in your entry requirements. I think it is a flowering gum as it was in the distance and I could not get close enough to it to check.

Vicki of Bicycles in Newcastle


Hey, if any of you are still struggling with your over-sexed imaginations thanks to my post title, just imagine this instead: The Aussie with Flowering Gums. Problem solved, yes?

Stay tuned; I have fallen behind in posting the TARATS entries, so I've got a Virginian and some Texan twins waiting in the wings, coming soon to a TARATS post near you. Or near here. Well, here, really. Come on back, OK?

Yer Pal,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More and More TARATS Awesomeness

I love my job. I mean, wonder in print where Canadian trees are, receive one next day. Plus another Aussie. Crazy. Crazy, I say!

Let's start with Michael from Ridgeville, Ontario, Canada. For those unfamiliar, Ridgeville is near Niagara Falls. If you are unfamiliar with Niagara Falls, well, look it up, 'cause the Falls are AWESOME. Literally.

Michael confused me with his email, which had the subject line A Cajun Tarats Entry... Michael appears to try to explain how Cajun = Canadian in a PS that I didn't quite grasp. Of course, the Cajuns in the USA are descendants of the Acadians found in our Maritime regions, so it's all good anyway. For a change I didn't have to look anything up on this one, since my last name is Cormier and I am part Acadian myself, which makes me a Canadian Cajun of sorts. You follow? Don't matter none, I gare-on-tee. Let's move onta the email:

Good Morning Mr. Rantwick,

Attached is a photo of a tree that I believe is worthy of consideration for the grand prize in the 2012 Autumn Tree Smackdown.

If you look closely, you will see (you WILL) that the tree has, in fact is covered with, leaves. Now, this might not seem special to the untrained photo viewer. And, well, I suppose it is not. But it seems rather special to me for several reasons.

1. It not longer has leaves. Not even one! As far as I know this is the only documentation of this tree ever having leaves on it. Or at least having leaves that are red, orange and yellow. At least from this year... in October... and... um... on a Saturday... afternoon... while it was sunny... and... at lunch hour... while I was watching... with my son.

Yes! It is absolutely one of a kind! There is not other photo like it. In fact, with the possible exception of the other entries that are better, this is the best autumn tree photo in your contest taken by me! What more reason could there be?

It might also be the entry that is closest to the place of residence of the submitter. I can see this tree from my front window (living around the corner). Well, sure, I would have to cut down several of the other not-so-smakdowniness trees that are in the way. I would also have to bulldose a few neighbors' houses. But I can see it!

Surely this makes it deserving of the Maple Syrup prize. mmm... Maple Syrup... and not the "crumby" kind either!



P.S. some of us cajuns have difficulty with words longer than two syllables, so we are cajun, but not Cajun.
Well, Michael has certainly put me on the spot. In a sticky situation, if you will. You see, I had determined that I was not going to give out a maple syrup prize this year. Michael's somewhat odd and enthusiastic email, however, has made me reconsider. The winner of my contest will receive:
1) The right to crown their tree King of Autumn 2012 (uncontested by me).
2) A used trophy modified to somehow illustrate that fact. The winner will undoubtedly display it with great pride in their home or workplace.
3) A tiny bottle (unlike last year, which was a bigger bottle) of the best maple syrup ever, Jakeman's Canada #1 Extra Light. This magic substance should not be wasted. Keep it cold in the fridge and savour it by the teaspoon. In my opinion, putting it on or in things is a waste. More here.
Since I'm going back to tiny bottles, I'm considering runner-up syrup prizes as well. Considering. It all depends how you people behave over the next month or so (hehe, take that, my little ones).
Hey, wait, I forgot to show Michael's tree!

Thanks, Michael! Powerful little tree you got there!

Hey, this post has kind of run on, so I'm going to bail now and do a separate post about Vicki's tree from Newcastle, NSW, Australia next! I love the Internet! People from about as far away from me as you can get on this planet are sending me tree pictures! It's just so cool!

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Missing Movember

First, does everybody know what Movember is? Let's check:
Do you know what "Movember" is?
If you don't know what it is, follow this link to get the scoop:

I'm guessing most of my readers know what it is (although the poll will tell), either through me or Fat Cyclist or the ever-increasing exposure and general popularity of it. I haven't done it since 2009. Well, not really. I grew a moustache in 2011 I think, but did not register or raise any money. The high numbers of men I see doing it this year are making me wonder if Movember is missing out on a lot of fundraising thanks to people who jump on the bandwagon but don't do the work, like I did in 2011.
Back in 2009 when I did it, I had to explain to nearly everyone I knew what I was up to, raising money for prostate cancer research, etc, etc. These days everybody seems to know that Movember is about growing a moustache in November to raise money, but I wonder how many are really doing it (raising money)?
This November, please humour me by answering the poll below. It is anonymous. I'm just curious and I'm as "guilty" as anyone, so thanks for your honesty.
This November / Movember I Am:

I will be doing the full registration and money-raise next year, I think. That will feel good.
Yer Pal, R A N T W I C K

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More TARATS Action!

Recumbent Conspiracy Theorist (best name ever, by the way) has sent me two more trees! The email:

Hi Rantwick,
This attractive tree resides on city property here in north central Ohio. I snapped the shot in the morning on the way to work. This tree has a brother that lives not far to the side. I didn't want him to feel left out so he got his picture taken too. That one to follow.

The trees:

I'm beginning to wonder where all the Canucks are at... it's just me and Skyers so far and Autumn leaves are pretty much done in most of the country... that's cool though. The International angle is lots of fun for me.  R A N T W I C K

Monday, November 19, 2012


I have received another TARATS entry, making it 20 pictures so far. The email:
I took this in Ann Arbor, MI on 10/21/12. This is one of the first pics I took with my new Iphone 5. I think it turned out pretty great. This is an unedited picture too - straight from my phone.
Thanks for the fun contest!

 Woah. Stunner. Thanks Josh!
Yer Pal,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tarats Entry #19 - Seattle

Longtime reader of these pages Steve A has had two trees in mind for my contest this year. One of them is (or was) ready. If you are at all familiar with Steve or his blog DFW Point-to-Point, you will already know that Steve sometimes has something of a historical bent, one that I quite enjoy.

Leave it to Steve to make his first tree entry one with a documented back-story! Take it away, Steve...

Entry #1 - from North Seattle (well, it became part of North Seattle about 100 years after this tree sprouted). The day after this photo was shot, heavy rain set in as often happens in Seattle and when it cleared, the tree looked like the bottom photo. In truth, the brown pickup is in both photos. Note how the Maple rivals the Douglas firs in height, and how the trunk is nearly the same diameter as the silver car is wide. There is more on this tree at: 

Steve, thank you for that serious big-ass tree.

I got 18 entries last year, but they were from 18 individual people. This entry makes it 19 trees from 12 people so far. Thanks all! Anybody else? C'mon, you know you wanna... if you're showing up late and have no tree to photograph, well, um, too bad, I guess. Maybe next year?

Yer Pal,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are You #%^1n' Kiddin' Me #8

I can not stand it when commercials make strange illogical connections between things. Check this out:

Did you catch that? "Gillette wanted to see how far one ProGlide cartridge could go, so they sent me around the world to find out." What? Hang on. Let me get this straight. For the viewer to believe this bit of ad copy, they also would have to believe that the good people at Gillette are extraordinarily stupid. You see, the only way a distance test works is when the product or item in question is worn by travelling said distance. Like a brake pad, for instance. This should be abundantly clear to all thinking humans. Somehow I just can't see executives at Gillette saying to themselves, "I wonder how this razor will perform after a long flight in a jet plane? I know those damn flights sure wear me out!"

Turns out, Gillette is actually advertising how long a cartridge will last (5 weeks, impressive!) rather than far it can go. So why send it on a journey with some good lookin' dude? The answer is clear: to make a commercial, of course!

Trouble is, when they (or, more accurately, some ad agency) make this stupid illogical connection, they are banking on the fact that television viewers are too zoned out and tube worn to even notice the insult to their intelligence. Were the people who approved this campaign zoned out too? Maybe, I guess. I kind of hope so, because otherwise they noticed the bad logic and just didn't care. Why not, right? Many commercials do this kind of thing and slip by without us noticing.

Well, on this occasion, I noticed, and I have to say hey Gillette, Are You #%^1n' Kiddin' Me? Using that logic if you really want to impress me with how far your cartridge can go, make it a little heavier and do a throwing comparison! I bet with just a couple of ounces of ballast the proglide could go WAY farther than the competition! Or wait, maybe you could strap one to the next Mars rover! That one would go really far! That would the best razor ever made, I mean, look how far it goes!


ARG. I mean, ARG.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Something Encouraging from the Middle East

I ran across this on YouTube and I found it encouraging. Since encouragement is something we can all use, I thought I would share...

Despite how things sometimes appear on TV, the world is not all about religion and politics and fighting. Sometimes people just want to rock out together.

Yer Pal,
PS - After writing this I returned to the video, read the description and went to the user's channel. I found that this video was posted on the Official YouTube Channel of the State of Israel. Does that make it some kind of propaganda? I don't know... still just seems like a nice story to me. I find it curious though, that as soon as I figured out that it was posted by a government (any government) I became suspicious of motive. That sucks. Hey, look at me: I went from encouraged to bummed out by my own cynicism, all in one short blog post. Maybe that's why I generally stick to bikes and trees...


At least according to Darin in Minnesota:
Dear Mr. Ick Mr. Wick Patrick,

You can end the contest now, we have a winner.

I came across this beautiful Tamarack five miles north of my house just outside of Duluth.
Last year, I tried to garner enough votes to win by including my dog in my picture. That didn't quite push me over the top, so this year the dog is out and the bike is in.
In case that's not enough, I even arranged to have a bald eagle flying in the background. Minnesota is now represented.
Did I mention the contest is over?
Hope all is well,


Visit the entrants page to see the trees this one is up against, including a nearby tree in Wisconsin. I bet those two trees HATE each other, man. Good thing they are rooted in the earth; limbs would fly for sure.
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the tone of this email, since this is a SMACKDOWN. Thanks for getting into the spirit, Darin. That Tamarack is a beauty, for sure, and a bonus bald eagle is pretty stinkin' good too.
It is my sincere hope that some of you beg to differ with Darin about this tree being the winner, such that you send in your own tree for comparison. To those of you who have already entered, many thanks. The deadline remains 11:59 PM Eastern on December 15, 2012.
Apologies for being absent again lately; life trumps blog, blah blah blah. I'm pleased to be able to post again and hope to make some more regular updates.

Yer Pal,
 Mr. I C K

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ham from France - Ooh la la!

Ham of London Daily Photo has sent in an entry from the Dordogne in France! I hope my post title was sufficiently misleading.
No email for this one, he used a comment and a link to this post. Works for me. Thanks, Ham! This smackdown promises to be the most international so far, which rocks so hard I can't barely stand it!
I've got some kind of heavy stuff going on that will make me pretty scarce over the next few days at least, so if you comment or submit an entry with no immediate result, don't sweat it and stay tuned... I shall return.
Yer Pal,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Exhibitionism - I Passed It On

I have always craved attention, despite being pretty shy for most of my life. Even now I'm not exactly a social butterfly. But that's not the same as craving attention... you don't need to know people in order to want them to notice you. The result is a blogging cycling weirdo with a cam on his head and stickers on his bike. It does no harm, I get my fix and everybody's happy, or close enough. I'm totally cool with it and Mrs. Rantwick has accepted it as part of loving someone as awesome as me.

Anyway, it would seem one of my little apples has fallen rather close to the tree in this respect. Rantwick Junior, a kind young man who in his early years displayed heart warming messages inside the house has moved on to "look at my achievement" messages outside the house.

The Sidewalk Skill:

The Sidewalk Message:

The good news: He ain't no liar. I've seen him go that far. Honesty, sometimes to excess, is another quality we share. He can also do a bunch of freaky tricks that impress and scare other parents. I love it when they're scared most of all. Holy crap, do I ever love that kid.

Toot that horn, my man. Yeah!

Yer Pal,

PS - That makes two posts in a row about my son... please don't worry. I will return to incoherent ramblings about cycling and foliage right away.

PPS - Mrs. Rantwick has noticed that I like ascribing qualities in our children to one or the other of us, while her preference is to see them as individuals who would be wonderful with our without us. She is so wrong. They are wonderful in the ways we are wonderful, and bad in the ways their friends are bad, and their friends are bad in the ways their parents are bad. It is as clear as day to me; I don't understand why Mrs. Rantwick can't see it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Minecraft, plus TARATS Entries 15 and 16

Well, it is Friday, and none too soon I think. Rantwick Junior is testing for his Red belt in Karate at 530 today, so I'm hoping nothing delays me. Friday afternoons seem to have a special knack for surprising / delaying me.
Speaking of Rantwick Junior, I thought of him while reading the comments section of BSNYC; people were discussing this computer game called Minecraft that seems to be crazy popular right now. He's 11 and loves it too. The thing is, the game looks terrible and seems to have little point compared to most modern games, so people on the comment board were wondering why kids seem to like it so  much.
I have had the exact same thought, and my theory is that kids like it because it has no "story" or "rules" or "levels". You just do stuff and make stuff and collect stuff and try not to die. Like life, except without school or work. The lack of structure and story and good graphics allows kids to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. That combined with just using the computer seems enough to keep 'em hooked real good.

When I looked for a video to describe Minecraft, what do you know, they sell it based on precisely what I had thought, which makes the preceding paragraphs a pretty big waste of time, I guess. Sorry.

Minecraft seems to be almost open source stuff. Rantwick Junior sometimes asks about mods and plugins available out in minecraft forum land, and since I am a computer guy, I have tried to help him download and install mods and hacks and plugins with very little success. I think I need to devote more time to figuring out the platform and how these extra things work. Or not. Maybe it is just fine as is. Like trees. Trees are fine just the way they are.

Speaking of trees (he he he), I have some new ones for the contest! I have added them to the album and slideshow found on the entrants page.

Rlove2bike sent me these, with the following note:

I thought I would send you these two for entry into TARATS. These were taken in Bayfield, WI., home of the I can see now that I am going to have to take TARATS a little more serious as the competition is a might bit stiff. But just like Cheese, Beer and Packer Football, how can we not take a tree in Bayfield seriously...I mean really.

I'm taking those trees seriously, for sure... you had me at cheese. Nice trees RL! Way to plug that apple festival too! I love apples and trees and festivals. Apples grow on trees and Bayfield has an apple festival and is not far from where I grew up, really. Wrong country, but still... if I were you, I would attend the apple festival in Bayfield WI if you can. I bet it is awesome.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

TARATS Entries 13 & 14

The newest entries in TARATS are from Australia! I was pleased to have an entry from the Purple Traveller in the UK last year (I'm hoping he'll be back), and now this! Awesome. Thing is, it is Springtime in Australia because, well, Australia is located in the Southern hemisphere. If an Aussie wants to enter my contest with Spring trees because that's what they have when I'm flogging my contest, I'm gonna let 'em. If you don't like it, you can just Go Stuff Yourself (see sidebar for helpful advert).

Be sure to check out the slide show on the entrants page to see the two entries described in this email:

Here are two. The purple Jacaranda is in Brisbane, I photographed it on my way home from Canada near the end of September. It is an iconic sign of spring in the sub-tropics here, Brisbane has many fine examples. The red is the Poinciana I photographed on my way out to the dam yesterday in Townsville. There are better examples, but this one is part of my routine so I appreciate it more. I hope people don’t mind that you allow ‘non-standard’ entries, but I thought this was too fun to miss. You have some stunning entries this year.

Does anybody else find the place name "Townsville" kind of funny, in a "Cityburgh" kind of way?

Anyway, this year's smackdown has contestants that are helping me redefine the rules, that's for sure! Multiple entries? Why not? Spring trees from Australia? You bet!

The way I see it though, this is a stupid contest with stupid prizes and flexible (stupid) rules. Am I wrong? No, I'm not, because it is my contest! If you think I'm wrong, well, uh uh, YOU'RE wrong, stupid! Go run your own stupid contest!

This post has proven to be a great deal of fun to write, way more fun than I expected when I started. I have discovered that writing the word "stupid" a lot is super satisfying, almost as much as using the word "mutant". It's the little things, y'know?

Yer Stupid Mutant Pal,