Sunday, March 29, 2009


Those of us around here aching for warmer weather to get out and ride our bikes are going to have to wait a little bit longer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


In no particular order, here are some more pictures from my week on the Colorado in March, 2005, and my hike out on Bright Angel Trail.

The thin line near the center of the picture is where we were on the trail a couple hours before.

Unkar Delta.

Navajo Bridges. The first was built in 1929. When the second was built in 1995, the first became pedestrian only. The only bridges across the river before the two at Phantom Ranch which connect trails from the south rim to the north rim.

Campsite on the river.

Where the Little Colorado (red) empties into the Colorado.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


While there are some hills in the area, I get a lot of this when I ride. Straight lines and 90 degree angles. The first half of the ride I go west, then I turn around and go east. I don't mind it sometimes. You're able to zone out and just peddle, and enjoy the sights of the farms, animals, trees. If you find the right road there's not too much traffic, and most motorists are pretty considerate. Now, if spring would do it's thing and warm it up a bit...

Monday, March 23, 2009


Apologies to Seth Meyers.



I love March Madness! I've always been a college basketball fan, but didn't really have a team to cheer for. I graduated from North Dakota State University which was Division II at that time. We moved to Kansas in 1988, a few months after "Danny and the Miracles" won the national championship under coach Larry Brown. I knew nothing about KU, where it was, or the difference between KU and K-State. Larry Brown moved on to his next job and KU hired an unknown assistant from North Carolina, Roy Williams. I liked him and his drawl, and the way he cared so much about his players that he would cry when they lost a big game. I've cheered for the KU Jayhawks for 20+ years, and last year they rewarded me with another national championship.

Now, back to NDSU. Five years ago the Bison made the switch to Division I athletics. One of the stipulations is that they had to wait five years to be eligible for post-season play. Several players took a red-shirt year, not on the active roster to save a year of eligibility for the first year the team would be eligible for the NCAA tournament. The Bison enjoyed a 26-7 year winning the regular season, and post-season title in the Summit League, claiming an automatic bid to the big dance. Then, on selection Sunday, the brackets were announced, and guess who the Bison got to play.... that's right, the Jayhawks.

Now, I love the Jayhawks. I've been thrilled with their successes, and I've taken their failures hard. But they just won a championship, and 7 players from last year are playing pro ball, in the NBA or Europe. With no starters, and only a couple of players who played many minutes last year, they had a great year. But I don't expect them to go all the way again. And a win in the NCAA tournament would be absolutely huge for NDSU. So, I cheered for the Bison to beat my Jayhawks. They gave it a good run. On the play of senior point guard, Ben Woodside and his 37 points, they gave KU all they wanted. It was a 2 possession game with a couple minutes left before Kansas pulled away, to win by 10.

The Bison made Fargo, and all of North Dakota, proud with their performance. Hopefully this was the first of many appearances in the tournament. As for the Jayhawks, they're young, they've looked inconsistent, but they've survived NDSU and Dayton to advance to the Sweet 16 where they will face Michigan State next Friday. I'll gear up and cheer for KU to go as far as they can. And it will hurt when the season it abruptly over. But it's fun to be a fan, and know there's always next year. And now I have 2 teams to cheer for.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I was able to get out for about 30 miles on my new bike on Monday. It was a great day, in the mid 70s but a strong wind out of the south. Riding straight south made the first half of the ride tough, but coming back was a breeze :) I'm still getting used to my bike. It's so different from my Surly CrossCheck. Before I go to Colorado in June I'd like to get the feel for going downhill, fast, around a curve. All kinds of problems finding all of those things in eastern Kansas. The road I took on Monday had a few rollers, but was absolutely straight. Actually, you don't have to go that far to find some decent hills. North or south into Missouri, or towards central Kansas. My next weekend off I might have to go on a quest. Neosho's Dog Tick Tour in April, and the Two River Ride in South Dakota/Nebraska should give me enough hilly riding to feel ready. And if I hold my breath it will be almost like being on Mt. Evans.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


It's supposed to be in the 70s on Monday and I have the day off. I feel a bike ride coming on. In the meantime I was thinking back to a place where a bike wouldn't do me much good.

I had the chance to run the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon several years ago with my nephew, Chuck, and my brother, Jim, and a bunch of their buddies. Although they did the whole thing in 21 days, I was only able to do the first 8 days and hike out at Phantom Ranch on Bright Angel Trail. I would love to do the river trip again, and I'd love to hike into the canyon and explore some more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I first rode into Leadville at the end of a century ride that included Independence Pass. After the decent from the summit it was a long, barely uphill climb the last 25-30 miles into Leadville. I was ready to get off the bike. Barely into town our route turned left and took us to the high school to camp out. I didn’t see much of Leadville and wasn’t impressed with what I did see. But, if the town wasn’t much to look at, the surrounding peaks were something to see. After a hot shower we walked to a Mexican restaurant a couple blocks away. The next morning we rode out of Leadville, partly on a bike path, and really didn’t see much more of the city.

A couple days later, after riding the last 2 legs of the route for the Copper Triangle, and into Frisco for a rest day, we passed through Leadville again on our way to Salida. This time we rode ride through the historic center of Leadville, and I was struck by it’s charm. What is now Leadville has been around in one form or another since gold was discovered in the 1860s, and silver in the late 1870s. Landmarks include the Delaware Hotel, opened in 1886 and open for business today, and the Tabor Opera House, billed as “the largest and best, west of the Mississippi” when it opened in 1879. I thought I wouldn’t mind visiting Leadville again.

After finishing CRMBT ’08 in Gunnison, Bruce and I headed back towards Frisco to spend Saturday night before heading home on Sunday. On the way we stopped in Leadville for dinner. While in Salida a fellow rider had mentioned dinner in Leadville at a place called Quincy’s. Quincy’s Steakhouse is a one-of-a-kind place that serves filet mignon Sunday-Thursday, and prime rib on Friday and Saturday. That’s it for entrees. You have a choice of how much meat you want, and you get a baked potato, bread, and a salad. We thought “when in Leadville..” and gave it a shot. The food was great, and the ambience was memorable.

After dinner we walked down the main drag and found ourselves at the finish of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. The course was 50 miles out and back on dirt roads and tracks, turning around at the highest point, 12,600’, with over 12,000’ of climbing on the day. Riders were coming across the finish line covered in mud, dead-tired, needing help just to get their camelbaks off. Finishers in under 9 hours receive a gold and silver trophy belt buckle, and if they get in under 12 hours, they get a silver belt buckle. We watched as the crowd cheered a couple riders pushing towards the finish line as the clock raced toward 12 hours. Two brave souls crossed the finish with about 30 seconds to spare.

We learned later that Lance Armstrong had ridden this race and finished in 2nd place. He rode neck and neck with the eventual winner, David Wiens of Gunnison, CO, until he told Wiens with about 10 miles to go “I’m done, go”. For Wiens this was his sixth straight Leadville 100 victory. In 2007 he beat Floyd Landis, and now Lance. He’s got some stories to tell his grandkids.

I guess first impressions can be deceiving. If I had never been to Leadville the 2nd or 3rd times I would never have known what a fascinating, charming place it is. Now I’m looking forward to seeing it again this summer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife. This was submitted by a guy who purchased his lovely wife a "pocket Taser" for their anniversary.

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 22nd anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Toni. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser. The effects of the taser were suppose to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety.... WAY TOO COOL!

Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two triple-a batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I'd get the blue arch of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs. Awesome!!! Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Toni what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-a batteries,... right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, taser in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries.

All the while I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5" long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference; pretty cute really and loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-a batteries) thinking to myself, "no possible way!"
What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best.....

I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, "don't do it master," reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn't hurt all that bad.... I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY MOTHER, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!

I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs. The cat was standing over me making meowing sounds I had never heard before, licking my face, undoubtedly thinking to herself, "do it again, do it again!"

Note: If you ever feel compelled to "mug" yourself with a taser, one note of caution: there is no such thing as a one-second burst when you zap yourself. You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would be considered conservative.
SON-OF-A-.... that hurt like hell!!!

A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. How did they up get there??? My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I'm still looking for my testicles? I'm offering a significant reward for their safe return.
Still in shock,

Monday, March 9, 2009


I've only told a few people this story from my first week-long bike tour, but I still remember it today, so here goes:

Riding in southeastern South Dakota on the 2nd or 3rd day of the 2006 Tour de Kota, I rode by a group of Hutterite chidren, with one or two women, sitting on the side of the hill, waving as the riders went by. I gave them an enthusiastic wave back, but later thought that I should have stopped and snapped a picture. That scene isn't one you see everyday.

Later that day, or the next, we were riding a century when I rolled through the last planned rest stop because I was riding good and I knew there was at least one more town to pass through before the finish. The rural highway we were on barely skirted the next town and came not even close to the last town on the map. So with ten or fifteen miles to go, and the temperature well into the 90s, I found myself completely out of water. I didn't feel too bad, but when I would wipe the sweat from my forehead with my glove, it would come away stained with salt. I just tried to keep a good cadence and not work too hard. As soon as I made it to town I stopped at the first gas station I saw and bought a bag of salted cashews and a big bottle of water. After a brief rest I just wanted to get to the fairgrounds where we were camping and have the ride behind me. As I rode through town I passed a nursing home where some of the residents were in lawn chairs by the street with a couple of aides. As I neared, an elderly gentleman rose from his chair, took a bottle of water from an aide and held it out to me. I said thanks, but no thanks, waved and rode on. At numerous times in my life, I've wished that I could go back and re-do something I've just done. This was one of those times.

I decided that to enjoy bike tours, and even life, I should follow these rules, and let the spirit of these rules guide me:
If you see a group of Hutterite children waving to you from the side of a hill, stop and take a picture. And, if an old man offers you a bottle of water, take it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I picked up my bike yesyerday afternoon. I wasn't planning on riding, I'm getting over a cold, but it's such a nice bike. And it was such a nice day. So I took it out for a short 15 mile trip. Quite a change from my Surly CrossCheck! It goes fast faster than I'm used to, handles corners beautifully, and the brakes almost threw me the first time I hit them hard. The weather is supposed to get crummy again but spring can't be far away, right? I'm really looking forward to riding when it's hot and sunny. Long, long rides through the countryside. Gotta get ready for the mountains!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


OK, here's what I want to do this summer, bikewise. There's a ride from Neosho, MO on the 18th of April called the Tour de Tick. There are 3 mileage options; the deer tick tour at 26.5 miles, wood tick tour at 62 miles, and the century option, the dog tick tour. Riding the century in the Ozark foothills presents enough of a challenge to inspire me to get some good training in over the next 6-7 weeks. Highlights of the route include a road built by the WPA during the depression (the last one), and crossing the Reddings Mill bridge, said to have bullet holes from the MO Highway Patrol shooting at Bonnie & Clyde.
At the end of May there is another century ride sponsored by the Johnson County Bicycle Club that covers the same roads I ride on each summer on my own, only this ride goes a little further west than I normally make it. The Lone Star Century (lone star lake is south of Lawrence, KS) should be another good tune-up for the main events.
The first of those is the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, June 21-27. This is the 15th year for this tour and the loop they have planned looked to good to resist. A couple days the route will follow roads I did last summer, but most of it will be new to me. The loop starts in Glenwood Springs, goes south to Hotchkiss, west to Grand Junction, continues on to Montrose, then east to Crested Butte for a rest day. Refreshed riders then head to Buena Vista before heading back to Glenwood Springs.
Highlights include an option through the Colorado National Monument on day 3, Cottonwood Pass after the rest day in Crest Butte, and Independence Pass on the way home on the last day. Including the optional loop the mileage is more than 550 miles in 6 days of riding, with more than 40,000 feet of climbing.
I'm planning on going out to CO a couple days early and I hope to camp at Echo Lake campground at the start of Mt. Evans road. From the campground there's about 14.5 miles and 3700' to the summit. This is the highest pave road in America topping out at 14,260 feet. More than 2000' higher than Independence Pass!
Assuming I can still ride after that week, I'll keep riding through July to be ready for August. My brother-in-law, Bruce and I are meeting my buddy, Pat, and his friend, Rick from CA to ride the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. Bruce and I are stopping at Copper Mountain to do the Copper Triangle on Saturday, August 1. Then we're onto to Montrose. This tour also includes over 40,000' of climbing in about 440 miles. The route heads out of Montrose to Gunnison, then south to Creede, and on to Pagosa Springs, before going west to Durango for a rest day. Then north to Ouray, and back to Montrose, with a left turn thrown in to ride up the Dallas Divide.
I don't know if I'll be able to do anything like this in 2010, so I'm going to enjoy every mile, every minute, every pedal stroke of this summer. I'll keep you updated along the way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


In August, Bruce and I met in Colby, KS and after throwing my bike in his van, headed for Colorado for our first time riding in the mountains. We stopped in Limon Friday night and went through Colorado Springs to visit the Colorado Cyclist store. They informed us that their showroom was light on bikes because many of them were at Copper Mountain for the Copper Triangle ride and celebration. We thought it sounded like a fun, but difficult ride. By the end of the week, we would have ridden the entire route of the Triangle.

As we drove over Monarch Pass on Saturday, it seemed difficult for the van to make it to the top. I wondered how, or even if, I would be able to do it on a bike. We checked in, had dinner, and slept in cool mountain air in Gunnison before starting out on Sunday. The first day was along the Blue Mesa reservoir, into the Black Canyon, and over Hermit's Summit. Climbing something like 6000' of rollers and a reasonable summit was a nice tune-up for what was to come. We had a nice ride into Hotchkiss to camp out at the high school.

On Monday we climbed out of Hotchkiss and mining country to some more alpine scenery around McClure Pass. Peaking at 8755' we then coasted in to Glenwood Springs, the last several miles on a bike path. We couldn't find an open restaurant close to the school, but there was a grocery store across the street, so we had sandwiches and pie for dinner. We turned in early to get an early start on the "queen stage" of the tour that was waiting for us the next morning.

We rode the 40 miles from Glenwood Springs to Aspen on the bike path, gaining 2000' with the slightest of inclines. Peter, the tour director, had warned us that even though it would be tempting to ride hard to Aspen, because you can, to save something for apres Aspen. Good advice! Just out of Aspen I broke a spoke as I started to climb. I was able to make it a couple miles to the aid station, where Johnny from Wheat Ridge Cyclery replaced my spoke. As I started to layer up for the rest of the climb I said something to a girl handing out snacks about having what I need for the climb. She said "you just need a strong will". I figured that a strong will equates with stubbornness, so I'd be fine.

Independence Pass was the hardest ride I had ever done. It's long and steep, and 12,095 feet in the air! After waiting out the worst of the rain on the side of the road with a guy from Florida, and a girl from Atlanta, and choosing to believe the guy when he said the thunder sounded loud because of the mountains, and it didn't mean lightning would strike me at any minute. Near the top I flirted with how slow you can go without falling over. I didn't find out, but it's slower than 3.7 mph. I made it to the top, re-fueled, took pictures, and put the rest of my gear on for the ride down. Down is good, except for the hairpin turns that I took a little too fast, saying a prayer of thanks that there was no car in the outside lane. Before reaching Twin Lakes, it started to rain again. The grade isn't steep, but you climb all the way to Leadville, which sits at over 10,000'. I just kept pedaling (it seemed like a good idea) and chatted a little with Mishca from Russia until we saw the high school. Bruce had hauled my bags to the field, but hadn't set up my tent. If he had I would have nominated him for sainthood. His loss. A hot shower and mexican food let me sleep like a log.

Outside of Leadville there was a Paris-Roubaix section, which is tour-speak for riding on gravel. A few miles of road construction awaited us when I stopped to take pictures of the mountains in the distance. Over 10,000 ' and there's peaks on the horizon! Anyway, I got stopped by the road crew while Bruce rode on, and before I was off the gravel, had a flat. With a new tube I rode by myself over Tennessee Pass and Battle Mountain Summit. Absolutely spectacular scenery, and, going from south to north, the descents reward you more than you paid on the climbs. I caught up with Bruce again at the next aid station. We spent some time riding around Vail before setting out on the last climb of the day. Vail Pass is not a bad climb, but it was enough late in the day. The first part of the climb is on a closed road that used to be the auto route over the pass. We enjoyed reading names like Hinault and Armstrong written on the road. Near the top the route goes onto the bike path. Some up and down on the path takes you to Copper Mountain. The only bad part was Bruce breaking his rear derailleur and SAGing in. After Copper Mountain it was back on the bike path coasting all the way to Frisco, for a welcome rest day.

After a day off, we rode back to Copper Mountain, up over Fremont Pass, and back through Leadville. Then it was basically downhill all the way to Salida. Easy riding most of the way with the Collegiate range on your right. The next morning it was up and over Monarch Pass. By now I knew that it would be a challenge, but one that I could handle. I met a guy at the summit who was riding with his buddy from LA to NY, carrying everything they needed in panniers and a bob trailer. Again, after the summit it was mostly a downhill, fast ride to Gunnison. A shower, BBQ lunch, and a good cigar kept me happy while I waited for Bruce. It turned out that he had suffered through 4 flats in the last 30 miles, but kept on going.

When all was said and done, we had a great time, and were intent on making it back in 2009. Colorado is a beautiful state, and I can't think of a better way to see it than up close and slow, from the seat of your bike. Can't wait to get back.

TdK '08

While I wait for the last of my plans to fall into place for this summer, I'll review 2008. My buddy, Pat, flew in from San Jose to KC and we drove up to Sioux Falls, SD for the Tour de Kota. It was the 4th year for this event. my brother-in-law, Bruce had done the 2 prior years, and I had joined him 2 years ago. It was a loop from Sioux Falls to the Missouri River and back. The first day we started a beautiful, sunny day after a night of rain, and I hit a road stripe at mile 2 and went down (he's no fun). No harm, no foul. Then a nice rolling ride to Mitchell to camp in the city park.

The next day was sunny, but windy. Strong, gusting, soul-sapping, buzz-killing windy. I rode by myself for a while, joined a pace-line that was too fast for me after about half an hour, and wondered why I had thought this had sounded like fun. Finally I came across a group that had banded together to survive the day. Two women were in-charge. One had a timer and a bell. They formed 2 lines, and the riders at the front would, side-by-side, take the brunt of the wind for 3 minutes, then she'd ring the bell, they would peel off to the rear, and 2 more brave souls would take a turn. We weren't going fast, but we were going. I'm convinced they saved my life, or at least my sanity, that day, temporarily.

At mile 53 we reached Kimball. Residents of Kimball went all out to make us feel welcome. They had entertainment and a myriad of food choices. While foraging through the 4-H barn for sustenance I ran into Pat, who had recharged with 3 pieces of pie. While we finished our lunch we discussed options: 17 more miles would get us to Chamberlain, the river, our campsite. Or, we could take the century option, go south about 10 miles, and prolong a miserable day on a bike. As someone who is susceptible to peer pressure, and not always that bright, I fell for Pat's argument that if we went south, at least we would be riding in a cross-wind for a while, rather than straight into the damn thing. About 25 lonely miles later we had only seen 1 other rider, when Duane from Brookings, SD caught us. We stopped for water at a SAG set up in the middle of nowhere and were informed that we were the 4th, 5th, and 6th riders they had seen all day. Number 7, Mark, showed up while we were there. Opting to feel like a real man rather than a moron I continued on to the bitter end. Pat raced in ahead of me, and when I reached the campsite he was being interviewed by a reporter from the Argus Leader (tour sponsors) who was doing the tour, and covering it for the paper. Among fellow campers we were congratulated, and told we were idiots. Ce la vie.

The next day was a scenic ride climbing the bluffs that run along the river. I had to stop several time for pictures. We had a perfect day for a ride as we made it to Highmore by early afternoon. Payback is hell, and the next day we paid for the perfect day, with the perfect storm. It was only dripping when we finished breakfast, but we were sure it would clear up soon, so Pat and I found a cafe dowtown, had some coffee and waited. When it was clear....that it wasn't going to stop, we put on rain gear and headed out. The whole morning was road grit in your teeth, and rain up your nose. Fun. 25 miles from our start, we skipped the SAG at the local school, opted for a diner on the edge of town, and had another breakfast. Comfort food. The good news is that while we ate the rain stopped. We rode as hard as we could to get to Huron and be done with the day. Thankfully, the state fairgrounds offered hot showers, good food, and entertainment, as well as massages to make us feel whole again.

South Dakota offerd great weather the next day for a 90 mile ride to Brookings, incuding lunch at the school in Oldham. Sandwiches, chips, cookies, and of course, pie. Nice evening in Brookings, until the tornado sirens went off. Pat got water in his tent, and Bruce had to take the poles out of his to save it as the wind was making it stand at an unnatural angle. One of Bruce's buddies called a friend and he came to pick up anyone who wanted to sleep on his floor. Everyone went except for me. I was already cozy in my MSR Hubba Hubba, which had not let a drop of water inside. When Pat was dropped off the next morning we packed up and headed off to find a cafe. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

The ride back to Sioux Fall was advertised as 68 miles. It wasn't raining, but the wind was back. Mostly from the west it was the kind of wind that makes it hard to stay upright. With a very few brief respites when we went east it was a cross-wind all day. Then, after Pat had texted some cycling buddies to anounce that he was "so done with this s---hole state", and our odometers showed we should have only a few miles left, we took a right turn into the wind. I had to laugh to keep from crying. We could see Sioux Falls in the distance! It was right there! But we dutifully followed the planned route which eventually went south again, then east until we were inside the city limits. We found the bike trail which would take us to the finish. Nice trail, but it went on, and on, and on..... 68 miles turned into 90. We were a little crabby, Pat called it grumpcon 5, but once we got back to the car and were showered and fed, it felt good to be done. I have a handful of patches for completing century rides, but the one from TdK '08 is one that I really earned.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


If you hadn't heard, Lance had his bike stolen from a trailer during the Tour of California. He posted a "tweet" on twitter to ask for help getting it back, which he did. The guys at Trek added something to his time-trial bike that shows they have a sense of humor: