In Defense of Complaining

07.5.2012 | 11:14 am

I’ve had what you might call an interesting couple of days, starting with a phone call I got from the twins (usually I work from home, but on this day was in the Salt Lake City office).

“Dad,” one of the twins said, “There’s a huge fire on the mountain behind our house. Do we have to evacuate?”

I looked out the window. Even from 30 miles away, I could see the giant plume of smoke rising into the air from the direction of home.


“I’ll call you back,” I said, and then called a neighbor to find out what was going on. Evidently, some people in my town had been evacuated. Our neighborhood was fine — for now — but it still seemed like a good idea to get some things packed up, just in case.

I called The Hammer.

“Can you get home right away?” I asked. “And let me know if I need to drop everything and get over there?”

She could, and did.

All through the evening and night, all anyone could do was stare at the mountain. The massive amount of smoke we could see during the day gave way to a snaking trail of fire we could see in the dark.


I got ready to go to bed, fairly confident I wouldn’t sleep well, but — for once — unwilling to Ambienize myself.

By morning, I was grumpy from worry and lack of sleep. And the mountain had gone from green to ashen.

And everything in the house — including, of course, the house itself — smelled strongly of smoke.

So I tweeted this:


Within a few minutes, I started getting responses to my complaint:


I read their advice and admonishment toward a new perspective with gratitude, put on a stiff upper lip, and went about my day, cheerfully enjoying my not-burned-down house, and not at all minding the fact that I’ve probably got thousands of dollars worth of damaged property to clean or replace.

Just kidding. Their responses actually made my blood boil.

Rules For Responding to Complaints

It’s really lucky (for me, and for anyone who reads this blog) that I had a lot of stuff to do yesterday, because otherwise I would have sat down and written a really angry post about how PEOPLE DON’T GET TO TELL ME THAT UNLESS MY HOUSE BURNS DOWN I SHOULD BE HAPPY.

Seriously, I probably would have written the whole thing in all caps. And I would have used a lot of words that I ban other people from commenting in this blog for.

But I had a ride planned, and a barbecue to do. And a stage of the Tour de France to watch (the first one, incidentally, that I did not accidentally learn the winner of before seeing the stage).

And so now that I have time to write, I’ve cooled down. I am much, much less likely to foam and spit as I make my point. Which is good, because I am a prolific foamer and spitter, when sufficiently provoked.

But I’ve still got some points I’d like to make.

People Complain

Here’s the thing: bad things happen to people. Some of those bad things are really, really bad. And some of those bad things are only mildly bad, or — when you’re lucky — only barely bad at all.

Regardless of how bad that something that happened is, people want to communicate it. Why? For a bunch of reasons. Maybe just because it’s interesting or exciting — when something bad happens, there’s often the upside that you at least have something new to talk about.

Or maybe because they want sympathy. Or maybe because they want help.

“You Should be Grateful / It Could Have Been Worse”

Now, when someone complains to you, you get to decide how you’re going to react. You can sympathize. You can offer assistance.

Or you can deny the validity of the complaint by asserting that the bad thing that happened isn’t really bad at all, because something worse could have happened instead.

I’d like to assert that this “It could have been worse” response sucks.

Suppose, for example, you and I were having a conversation and you mentioned that your child was fighting a nasty cold. I could reply, “Well, it could be worse. Your child could have triple pneumonia, horrible breath, and leprosy all at the same time.”

The truth is, for pretty much any given problem, it could be worse. But that’s not what’s at issue, is it? When someone tells you about a problem, chances are they could come up with a way things could get worse — and in fact, the worry that it might get worse could be weighing on their mind.

OK, another example. Suppose I told you, “There was a big fire near my house, and now the house smells terrible and it’s really going to be a hassle to make it stop stinking of smoke.”

You could reply, “Well, you should be grateful your house didn’t burn down.”

And yeah, I suppose I should be grateful for that. And I should — while I’m at it — also be grateful all of the other catastrophes that could happen on any given day don’t happen. For example, no tornado struck. I should be grateful for that. A ravenous gang of rabid honey badgers did not attack the dog. I’ll be grateful for that, too. And there was no plague of locusts, and no door-to-door salespeople stopped by yesterday. And Aldo Nova didn’t decide to release a new album and subsequently claim my basement as the place where he’s going to rehearse for his upcoming world tour.

I’ll make time to be grateful for those things, too.

But you know what did happen? A big freaking fire soaked my house in smoke all night.

So, unless you actually did lose your house to fire, probably the best response is not to point out how much worse it could have been. Instead, maybe just say, “Wow, I’ve been wondering where that smell came from ever since you got here. That explains why I’m fighting the urge to roast a marshmallow right now.”

The Practical Part

So after I spent the first part of this post saying I’ve cooled down, I went ahead and attacked the poor people who told me that unless I’m currently sitting in a pile of ashes I have nothing to complain about.

Why’d I do that?

Well, because I think it’s worth reminding people: bad things happen to people, and then people complain about those bad things. If you want to help, offer actual information or assistance, like this:


You know, actually be part of the solution, as opposed to trivializing the problem.

Or just listen and say, from time to time, “Wow. That sucks.”

And if Aldo Nova is currently singing in your friend’s basement, feel free to say, “That sucks bad.”

PS: Angie left a comment I think is worth excerpting:

As for the folks who suggest it could be worse; I think that maybe they are doing this not because they don’t want to hear your complaint, but because they care about you and can’t do anything else to lessen your pain, so they try to point out the positive of the situation in hopes it will help you feel better.

I think this is probably exactly right. Like many people, when stressed I forget that people are generally not out to get me. I still think it’s OK to complain, but I need to remember that just because someone says something that doesn’t help doesn’t mean that they don’t want to help.


  1. Comment by Tes | 07.5.2012 | 11:23 am

    Aldo Nova ;-)

    I don’t think I would sleep at all, I would just be staring at the mountain. Glad you are all okay.

    And, wow. That sucks.

  2. Comment by Tes | 07.5.2012 | 11:25 am

    And for the record, just because the worst hasn’t happened, doesn’t make what has happened any less valid.

  3. Comment by Bill H-D | 07.5.2012 | 11:25 am

    Honey badgers are solitary, though they occasionally hunt in pairs. So you needn’t be thankful about a pack of them not attacking your dog. Whew.

    Also: I hope the fire and smoke pose no further threats. Those do suck quite severely.

    My understanding is that once they become rabid, they begin hunting in gang. And they start listening to 80’s power ballads. Pretty terrifying, actually. – FC

  4. Comment by onomastic | 07.5.2012 | 11:27 am

    Yes, but it could have been worse. Just be thankful the Twitter responses did not discuss your weight, or your running ability, or make other personal attacks. (I’m not sure: did I miss the point of today’s post?)

  5. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.5.2012 | 11:32 am

    I was going to say that that smoke soaking of yours sucks, but I’m guessing you’ll be getting a lot of that, so I’ll not say anything.

    Really, not going to say it…

    Not… Going… To… Say…


  6. Comment by chtrich | 07.5.2012 | 11:35 am

    I love the smell of camp fires

  7. Comment by itown | 07.5.2012 | 11:39 am

    Sometimes I like to complain that I’m hot… I don’t need to hear from you that it could be worse, that I could carrying 50lbs of gear and walking the the deserts of Iraq… I get it, soldiers have it worse, but right now… I’m hot.

  8. Comment by Christina | 07.5.2012 | 11:47 am

    Sorry I was an asshole.

  9. Comment by Aaron Harrell | 07.5.2012 | 11:47 am

    I know it’s not quite the same, but my dad left a pot of beans cooking while he went out to tinker in the garage. My dad being, well, my dad, he forgot about the pot of beans. Insurance ended up paying for the cleaning that is similar to what you will likely have to have done. They had to have the entire interior of their house repainted, etc. I am sorry to hear about all the stuff that you are going to experience because of that fire. I am glad, however, that you and your family are safe.

    By the way, your blog usually brightens my day and I appreciate that.

  10. Comment by Christina | 07.5.2012 | 11:59 am

    And…wow, that’s sucks.

  11. Comment by Kukui | 07.5.2012 | 12:03 pm

    Wow, that sucks, Fatty.

    I hope you, your family, and your home are and stay safe and sound from the fire.

  12. Comment by ProfessorOrange | 07.5.2012 | 12:21 pm

    I’m sorry about all the smoke damage Fatty. If I didn’t live half a country away I’d come help clean up, especially if it involved power washing. I love power washing.

    I’m concerned about your bike trails though…trying not to make your life experience worse, but how are your local favorites?

  13. Comment by kimbrolio | 07.5.2012 | 12:22 pm

    Hey, it could be worse, you could be like all us anonymous schleps and not have an hilariously award-winning blog and literally tens of twitter followers to complain to.

  14. Comment by Lora | 07.5.2012 | 12:23 pm

    Just because the problem could be worse doesn’t make the problem you have a valid one. Having been through several fires, I feel your pain and hope that your house stops stinking soon!

  15. Comment by Fat Bike Racer | 07.5.2012 | 12:25 pm

    You are turning in to a whiny sissy in your old age! Get out into the smoke on your dang bike and give us a trail report!

  16. Comment by Hugues Boutin | 07.5.2012 | 12:30 pm

    You could buy a bunch of fresh salmon and hang them to cure. You’d get smoked salmon. Beef also. Cheeses, mushrooms, Bourbon???
    Sorry to hear that, hoping things improve for you and yours.

  17. Comment by off-roadie | 07.5.2012 | 12:33 pm

    I’m shocked. Usually people on the internet are so compassionate and helpful.

  18. Comment by centurion | 07.5.2012 | 12:36 pm

    “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.”

    It could have been worse.

  19. Comment by Josh | 07.5.2012 | 12:37 pm

    Mmmmm… marshmallows.

  20. Comment by Bob B | 07.5.2012 | 12:42 pm

    You lucky, lucky bastard! I lie awake nights dreaming of the day when my house smells like a campfire.

  21. Comment by TK | 07.5.2012 | 12:43 pm

    If the smoke smell persists
    Slice up some pork belly
    And hang it from the rafters/ceiling/etc
    It won’t get rid of the smoke
    But it will put it to some good use
    And make some righteous home-made bacon.

    Thank you


  22. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.5.2012 | 12:46 pm

    Here is what the Disaster Restoration guys will not tell you – As you sort through stuff to be cleaned or pitched out:

    - Clean the dog, even through it smells terminal, but it is OK to put this off because even after you clean her, she will still smell like wet dog
    - Pitch all the paper napkins, not just the top two or three. I know, this hurts -you are throwing stuff away and paying for whole house cleaning and running up your insurance claim – a little of frugality seems called for as a measure of defiance against loss. But the rest will keep smelling like smoke, and you will end up tossing them anyway.
    - Your friends and neighbors will not want the smoke damaged steak that was defrosting on the counter either, but they might take it and feed it to the honey badgers so you don’t worry about the additional waste.

    I know all of these things from sad experience.

  23. Comment by Chromatonic | 07.5.2012 | 12:47 pm

    So MANY levels of worse it could have been. Your complaining makes you seem small-minded and self-centered – not that I’d ever accuse you of that… The smoke smell eventually dissipates. Eventually.

    Do you think it’d be possible for someone who ISN’T self-centered and small-minded to write a blog about his thoughts on bicycles, pretty much daily, for 7 years? – FC

  24. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 07.5.2012 | 12:47 pm

    It could have been better. Your house and belongings could smell like Honey Stinger Waffles.

    To your larger point, though, I couldn’t agree more with your point. There are only three valid responses: (a) wow, that sucks, (b) hey, spritz everything with vanilla*, or (c) silence.

    *I just made up the vanilla thing. DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME.

  25. Comment by Mateo | 07.5.2012 | 12:53 pm

    Wow, that sucks…and, you’re being a real dick to people who care enough about you to reply to your Tweets. Knock it off.

  26. Comment by Road Mike | 07.5.2012 | 1:07 pm

    Sorry, Fatty. We had a similar experience, and our insurance company & restoration guys went the extra mile to get us back to normal. I hope yours do as well.

  27. Comment by Hautacam | 07.5.2012 | 1:07 pm

    Tell the Hammer to quit scorching the trails in search of QOM bragging rights. It’s one thing to lay down a smoking Strava time, and entirely another thing to go so fast as to actually set the place on fire.

    I jest, of course.

    Hope the smoke abatement goes OK and there is not a repeat performance later on this summer.

  28. Comment by briebecca | 07.5.2012 | 1:08 pm

    I think it’s the way you phrased it “so will my house ever stop smelling..”- sounds like you’re helpless and it has that ‘woe is me’ vibe to it. Had you said, “Wow, who knew that a fire a mile away could make everything smell like smoke? Any suggestions on cleaning that up?” And I have a co-worker who just lost his house through the fire in Colorado Springs. Did he complain at all? No.

  29. Comment by Pat Schleck (the cyclist formerly known as MattC) | 07.5.2012 | 1:12 pm

    Sheesh Fatty…that sucks! You need something to smile about…and I recalled that we were talking about the “Real man” saddle up in Davis…here’s the link…

    And hey…look on the bright side…your house must have been getting kind’a full…and this is a good chance to get rid of some stuff (and just in case your bikes are now all icky and smelling like smoke and you need to get rid of some of them, I’ll drive up PRONTO w/ a truck to help you out…cuz I’ve got your back as always!)

  30. Comment by Rob L | 07.5.2012 | 1:14 pm

    WOW. That really sucks super bad.

  31. Comment by LidsB2 | 07.5.2012 | 1:20 pm

    Wow, that sucks. Perhaps a hot bath will fix it. Everyone loves a hot bath. However, bathing is a lonely business. Except for fish. You see, fish all bathe together. Although, they do tend to eat one another. I often think, fish must get awfully tired of seafood. What are you thoughts, Fatty?

  32. Comment by PR | 07.5.2012 | 1:21 pm

    Smoke smell can be tough to get rid of and I feel your pain. But, I have to be honest, I like the “at least your house doesn’t smell like smoke AND ____” joke format.

    “At least your house doesn’t smell like smoke AND get burned down.”

    On the path to being funny, but kinda dumb:
    “At least your house doesn’t smell like smoke AND you flatted while out on a ride.”

    Funny but not funny:
    “At least your house doesn’t smell like smoke AND you got caught in a crash <3km from the stage finish."

  33. Comment by Jeff Bike | 07.5.2012 | 1:26 pm

    “That sucks really bad.”
    First after a few days of rain the country side won’t smell so bad and thus not be bringing more smell in with every breeze. You will be able to see the possibility of making minor trail improvements before the brush grows back. At least when you do get the house cleaned, you thru out everything that couldn’t be cleaned and repainted inside and out. Your house will look great! You will have a bunch of new stuff and higher insurance rates. Well every cloud has a silver lining; just some things that look silver are lead.

  34. Comment by Big E | 07.5.2012 | 1:36 pm

    I’m sorry people feel the need to be condescending in scenarios like this. As my Mom use to say. If it’s not kind or uplifting, keep it to yourself…

    I hope the smell will go away soon and the damage isn’t to severe.

  35. Comment by Dr.Bryce | 07.5.2012 | 1:37 pm

    That sucks and I can’t imagine how stressful your wait has been for further news of the fire status. Here’s to hoping that real rain and fire abatement happens soon! Praying for rain!

  36. Comment by Skaught | 07.5.2012 | 1:42 pm

    Briebecca, I have a co-worker who had his arm cut off while my his house burned down just as a cyclone struck the nearby center for disease control, the result being that he was infected with (and, moments later, crippled by) both polio and severe hiccups. He didn’t complain, either. In fact, he recited Coleridge during the entirety of the incident.

  37. Comment by TK | 07.5.2012 | 1:42 pm

    I broke my neck (C3-6), back (T-6, I think), face, nose & a couple teeth 12 years ago today. I got my neck fused together with titanium screws and plates, and had a halo bolted onto my skull. After a week in the hospital, I was able to start to get up and start walking again. My neurosurgeon told me I had to walk everywhere for 4 months because riding in a car with my injury and halo was too risky. As I walked around, random people would stop their cars and tell me how lucky I was. I knew they meant well, and I knew I was both lucky to be alive and move my limbs, but I wanted to strangle every single one of them. :)

  38. Comment by GregC | 07.5.2012 | 1:45 pm

    Y’all are missing the upside- a few years ago our local hillsides burned (as they frequently do in So Cal), my favorite mt bike trails were instantly transformed into something like a moonscape of grey- all brand new places to ride! It certainly gives you a different perspective of the terrain. I like campfires also, but don’t relish living in one. Good luck!

  39. Comment by Angie G | 07.5.2012 | 1:48 pm

    I’m with the others, Yummy campfire smell. I would love if my house smelled like campfire.

    As for the folks who suggest it could be worse; I think that maybe they are doing this not because they don’t want to hear your complaint, but because they care about you and can’t do anything else to lessen your pain, so they try to point out the positive of the situation in hopes it will help you feel better.

    Clearly it backfired and didn’t make you feel better at all.
    I hope your all ok and the smell leaves your house soon.

    You’re a smart person, Angie, and that’s a good way to look at it. I forgot to assume good intentions and got testy. I should tattoo “Most people mean well” somewhere I can see it often. Like maybe on The Hammer. – FC

  40. Comment by Trent | 07.5.2012 | 1:54 pm

    Yes, but what if the star of M*A*S*H teams up with Aldo Nova to take an evening of literary reading and 80’s music on the road and they want to practice in your basement, calling the event “Alan Alda, Aldo Nova,” and the whole thing is promoted by Chevy Nova and is performed at the Alta ski resort?

    It could be called “Alan Alda Aldo Nova at Alta by Nova.”

    Now THAT would suck.

  41. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 07.5.2012 | 1:54 pm

    Fatty, I’ve not read all the comments but my suggestion:

    If the house smells like a campfire it’s time to boil some Brats. According to you and Wife#1 it will definitely make a difference

    I’d send you some of the leftover PBR, but Wife#1 drank them.

  42. Comment by dug | 07.5.2012 | 2:04 pm

    could be worse. could be raining.

  43. Comment by Betsy T | 07.5.2012 | 2:05 pm

    I hear you on this one. We recently had a little minor emergency ourselves (the adventure included being stranded for three days unable to get out), and while we were both fine and the only real impact was financial, I did get the “it could have been worse, at least you have your health”. Yeah, that doesn’t make me feel that much better at the moment, facing the huge bills!

  44. Comment by Joe Jacobs | 07.5.2012 | 2:12 pm

    Sucks…if you have cork handlebar tape it will have to be replaced also your bike seats probably smell pretty bad but that has nothing to do with the smoke. And remember, “Life is just a fantasy”

  45. Comment by Kiwi | 07.5.2012 | 2:26 pm

    That really sucks!

    As much as the campfire smell is quite enjoyable… That smell lingering in the house sucks.

    Let me say, the changing the air filter idea is a great idea, and be prepared to change it in another month or so just to make sure nothing is lingering in your system. (Being through a couple big fire zones over the years, I know the benefit of changing the filter!) Air out the house when ya can and wish that your house could smell like Honey Stinger waffles…
    Mmmmm Honey Stinger Waffles…

    But another thing you can do to distract you is relive the pie at the Livestrong Challenge with my video found here
    MMMMmmmm pie…

    Glad you and the family are ok, and that only your nostrils have been assaulted. Here’s hoping the smell wears off quickly!

  46. Comment by Tim | 07.5.2012 | 2:33 pm

    Rule #5 comes to mind….

  47. Comment by Alan Canfield | 07.5.2012 | 2:36 pm

    Sorry, that sounds like it stinks.

  48. Comment by Jolene | 07.5.2012 | 2:46 pm

    Thanks for posting Elden. I’ve been wondering how the Fatty Family fared in all this. Sorry your house smells bad though.

  49. Comment by rabidrunner | 07.5.2012 | 2:53 pm

    Technically, your comment was a yes or no question and not a complaint. Did anyone provide you with a yes or a no? Had I read your comment, I would have thought, “Oh. Fatty wants to know if his house will ever quit smelling like smoke. Being as I have no experience with smoke damage, I’ll refrain from answering his yes or no question.”

    Also, I’ve been rather concerned with the amount of worry you all are going through. The unknown is the biggest of all fears and I’m very sorry you are dealing with this right now.

  50. Comment by AKChick55 | 07.5.2012 | 3:06 pm

    Oh wow. I mean. Wow. What the heck is wrong with people???? This reminds me of when someone has died and people say stupid stuff like, the memories of that person will comfort you, etc. WTF.

    To all that comment, if you think Fatty is smallminded, self-centered, etc., etc. STOP READING HIS DAMN BLOG. It’s sure easy to make nasty and snarky little comments under the cover of anonymity.

    Sorry, but sometimes, the anonymous posters really make my blood boil. And yes, I realize I’m commenting anonymously, but Fatty knows who I am and some of the rest of you do and that’s all that matters to me.

  51. Comment by AustinSteve (aka Captain Steve) | 07.5.2012 | 3:08 pm

    Hopefully the fire took care of the pack of rabid honey badgers….and, of course, the solution to most every problem….

    Boil some Brats

    That oughta clear the smell. Maybe.

  52. Comment by Leslie | 07.5.2012 | 3:16 pm

    Ugh. When I think about those horrible fires out west, I never considered the sort of damage you describe. What a pain! And knowing it could be worse does not help; I think the only people who should be allowed to say the “it could be worse” line are the people to whom the bad thing happened. It’s fine if they want to console themselves w/ that way of thinking. But don’t impose that on others, on the people dealing with the crappy situation.

  53. Comment by Dave T | 07.5.2012 | 3:28 pm

    My parents live in the Santa Cruz Mountains and in 1985 the Lexington Hills fire came within a mile of our house. Everyone in our area was ordered to evacuate I stayed behind since I worked for the local water company and could help fill the never ending line of fire trucks. Our house and many of our neighbors were saved but the stress of that experience was numbing. I’m so sorry you have to experience that. Our house also smelled of smoke. As I remember we did a thorough cleaning and much airing out and the smell eventually went away.

  54. Comment by pedalpink | 07.5.2012 | 4:19 pm

    When I came home from my first 600k to find out a tornado had made a direct path thru my property, downing hundreds of trees, I kept hearing “you were lucky.” Yeah, right. Lucky would have been living 1/4 mile out of the tornado’s path. Two years later I’m still clearing the mess (yeah, I could have gotten done by now if I wasn’t riding my bike).

    The smoke smell sucks, Fatty. I’m so sorry it happened.

  55. Comment by JodieA | 07.5.2012 | 4:26 pm

    My first response to your tweet was “wow, I hope that fire is out now.” I had a friend who used to always say things could be worse and then one-up me on everything I was venting to her about. I’ve got to say it’s not at all helpful. I’m not friends with her any more, either. It’s a little different with Twitter because you may not know if they are attempting humor, one-upping you, or trying to make you feel bad for complaining or feel better by actually showing you how it could be worse. I agree with you–I’d prefer someone either say that sucks, how can I help or say nothing if they don’t have something helpful to share. I hope your house smells better now, and it does sound like you actually got some good advice. Hey, the internet is good for something besides entertainment. By the way thanks for the entertainment!

  56. Comment by Lesley | 07.5.2012 | 4:33 pm

    I live in Colorado Springs, which I’m sure you’ve heard about plenty by now. When I saw your tweet (or one of them about the fire near you), I think I said something like “Are you evacuated yet? Stay safe!” I did not see the one about the smoke, which is only good because we are in super-sensitive mode right now and my reaction (at least in my head) might have been similar. I accompanied a friend to her burned down house three days ago.

    BUT, my house is “just smoky.” We are taking the steps to fix that, and you are right, it is a huge pain the the ass. I have been able to see several sides of this disaster and you know what? They all suck and deserve complaint.

    The perspective police somehow fail to recognize that if you’re IN the middle of the mess, in one way or another you likely already have all the perspective you need.

  57. Comment by Miles Archer | 07.5.2012 | 5:16 pm

    Sucks that your house smells like smoke. I’m glad you and your family is ok.

    I had no idea there was a fire out your way until I saw a post from one of my co-workers who lives nearby.

    I’ll admit from the start that I lack social skills. If I had been on twitter I might have been one of the people that pissed you off. It’s easy to do unintentionally or intentionally on the internet (not piss you off in particular, but people in general)

    I’m kind of chuckling about you pointing out that helpful advice is helpful. For some people, what they are looking for in similar situations is sympathy. The engineer in me makes me want to look for solutions which I’ve been told is really annoying.

    Good luck with the cleanup.

  58. Comment by Gordon in Melbourne | 07.5.2012 | 5:23 pm

    It is worse….for the trees, you know they have feelings too and I am out to get you, because I’m jealous.

    Here in Victoria, Australia we had the “Black Saturday” fires a few years ago. About 175 people lost their lives. I have a piece of molten alloy that was part of the motor of one of our friends cars in my garage. Why, it reminds me that I am lucky that I was not involved and didn’t loose any friends.

    Our friends never complained like you are even though they lost everthing (and hell one of them is a whingeing pom) so harden up and stop complaining.

    Sarcasm, you bet. I hate the smell of campfires. Hope no-one gets hurt. Houses can be re-built.

  59. Comment by AKChick55 | 07.5.2012 | 5:46 pm

    Also, didn’t have time to comment more as I was at work (probably a good thing since I tend to write A LOT). I wanted to comment that you are one of the least self-centered, small-minded people I’ve ever met. I don’t think you have to have either of those qualities to do a blog a cycling. If you were small-minded and self-centered, you would not help LIVESTRONG, the young man in your neighborhood whose family needed money to help pay for treatments, etc., you would not have gotten involved in the Bikes for Zamibia, or the Young Survivors (I think that’s the name) and there are too many more to name. You give of yourself and bare your soul to your readers and they have the nerve to call you names (that d**k comment by Mateo – out of line dude, just really out of line. I think by your comment, it makes you sound like what you were calling Fatty – ironic?). Anyway, I would argue the exact opposite because you share ALL your adventures including your mistakes. Someone who is self-centered and small-minded would only talk about how great they are and how everyone else sucks. Also, you would never attract the high-quality, fun loving, awesome people to your team and the various causes you champion. Also the Hammer would have never married a man like that. I know, I’ve met her and I may not have known her long, but I know that she wouldn’t be with you if you were a jerk.

    So yes, maybe some people didn’t think about it before they wrote and didn’t mean to offend you, but I like your post cause is makes us think about things we say and that’s a good thing.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. I just can’t be succinct. :)

    Love you guys!!!

    PS While I love the smell of our woodstove at the cabin, I wouldn’t want our house to smell like that. It hurts your throat and I’m pretty certain that stuff is bad for every surface (caustic?). Anyways, hope you’ve received some good advice on getting rid of it. I have been lucky enough (knock on wood) to not experience that.

  60. Comment by Fredette | 07.5.2012 | 6:25 pm

    eh, I think you pretty much got the expected outcome when turning to twitter for advice veiled as sympathy.

  61. Comment by Jeremy | 07.5.2012 | 7:13 pm

    You know, I actually went back to make sure I wasn’t that guy when I responded as I do have a remarkable ability to be an insensitive jerk. Fortunately, that usually only happens when I have been drinking too much and I don’t do that very often. I hope you can get the smell out easily, but washing every item of clothing you own is going to be in order. Bum luck. How much damage is this going to do to the trail system down there? (I know, one track with the bike stuff.)

  62. Comment by Heidi | 07.5.2012 | 7:46 pm

    Wow, we had lunch with people today visiting from SLC who told us about the fire and the location. I said, “Geez, that sounds like it’s near the area Fat Cyclist is in!” Sure enough, here are the photos.

    We live up a canyon (in MT) and have dealt with fires in the area several times. Boy howdy, as Tom Hanks would say – it’s really stressful, especially seeing as how you have no control over Mother Nature. Wishing everyone in your area well.

  63. Comment by Andrew | 07.5.2012 | 7:50 pm

    I had a job doing smoke clean-up in a large fair-grounds building years ago after a small indoor fire.

    The job basically involved wiping every surface down with a wet cloth and chemical to clean off the soot. Fortunately the surfaces were big and uncomplicated, but it was still time-consuming.

    After that was done, we brought in an ozone machine, sealed the building with plastic and duct tape and let it run for 24 hours. (It smells like rain but can kill you.)

    It did the trick and the building has smoke-free since ‘96.

    Good luck!

    Until the Clay Springs fire from last week, that is.

  64. Comment by roan | 07.5.2012 | 8:01 pm

    Pretty tough love blogpost & comments but ALL worth reading. I rarely tweet but when I saw your tweet I immediately googled alpine ut to have a look.
    Today I read the blog and had to look up my tweet.
    I agree with a lot of the comments, and some I agree with are harsh.
    Angie G. has a good head on her shoulders…and Angie I keep a bar of pine tar soap in my camping gear just for the memories.
    I’ve one hagging thought that just doesn’t go away…if I got a phone in similar circumstances and could see what was happening, I’m out the door…going home and not for the house.

    I couldn’t go home for reasons that aren’t important to this story, but are important. People need to realize that not everything — not even close, really — in my life goes into this blog. – FC

  65. Comment by Angie G | 07.5.2012 | 8:25 pm

    @Kiwi- the video is freaking awesome!!!!

    Great Job! I specifically loved the fact that you missed a shot of me bellied up to the pie trough! :-)

    It is an impressive amount of pie an amount equal our Fatty mantra: Go Big or Go Home!! :-)

  66. Comment by Mike | 07.5.2012 | 9:27 pm

    Your blog post reminded me to mind what i say to people and how I speak as well. Sometimes I forget. Thanks

  67. Comment by Jim B | 07.5.2012 | 9:31 pm

    Fatty, did you check your Strava complaints segments standings? Obviously, you are going to have to try harder to get a better complaint. I suggest that you set your house on fire and accidentally shoot yourself to stand a chance of recapturing the KOM on this one.

  68. Comment by Chris | 07.5.2012 | 10:19 pm

    Could be worse, like looking today hoping to see more hints about the new Fatty Collection and not seeing any. Hook a brutha up, Monday seems sooooooo far away. Also, hoping for a Fatty cycling cap this year. Twin Six rocks!

  69. Comment by bob | 07.5.2012 | 10:23 pm

    Good god I actually saw Aldo Nova open for Cheap Trick!

  70. Comment by bob | 07.5.2012 | 10:25 pm

    Also my Moms house had a near miss in the CO Springs fire so no trivializing here… Sometimes you just get lucky.

  71. Comment by Miles Archer | 07.5.2012 | 10:35 pm

    By the way, I can lend you a cat that smells like skunk if you’d like some variety.

  72. Comment by davidh,marin | 07.5.2012 | 11:21 pm

    @kiwi Great video. send your address and i’ll send some remaining pie. hah!

  73. Comment by leroy | 07.5.2012 | 11:35 pm

    Oh great. Thanks a lot.

    My dog has been pestering me all day to review rabid honey badger attack prevention plans and evacuation routes out of Brooklyn.

    He’s got charts and a powerpoint presentation.

    Oh well, at least there’s a silver lining.

    He and his riding buddies cancelled karaoke night this evening.

    So it really could have been worse.

  74. Comment by Kiwi | 07.6.2012 | 12:14 am

    davidh & Angie G, thanks!!!
    I actually wish I had more footage.

    But it was enough for a quick fun vid.

    If you still have pie, I’m so there!!! hahaha

  75. Comment by Skippy | 07.6.2012 | 12:15 am

    Timely post since the summer with good weather also increases the hazards of living in the country !
    Those who go in ” harm’s way ” to protect their neighbours rarely get the recognition that is their rightful due !
    Checkout and sign this petition :

    Last time i was in the Salt Lake area was after 12ft of snow , the Skiing was excellent through the great natural beauty BUT i returned to Oz in time to join efforts to fight Bushfires on the outskirts of Nth Sydney another area of Natural beauty ! What a contrast !

    Whilst sitting in contra traffic whilst the roadside is being trimmed , remember that this is also a defence against the ravages of summer fires , some caused by the casual tossed fag end !
    Visit the link above , perhaps act on their behalf AND review your OWN preparedness for the by products of others misfortunes . Often wondered about Fatty’s gardening activities and those of his neighbours ?

  76. Comment by marishka | 07.6.2012 | 4:47 am

    What’s wrong with Aldo Nova?

  77. Comment by Bykjunkie | 07.6.2012 | 5:34 am

    Apology offered. It was not my intent to upset you more then you already were.

  78. Comment by Jenni | 07.6.2012 | 6:53 am

    Group hug?

  79. Comment by Jeff Ab | 07.6.2012 | 6:57 am

    Well, it could have been worse – you could have written this post when you were more angry.

  80. Comment by Fifth Column | 07.6.2012 | 7:56 am

    Really Fatty, you should just be thankful you still have a nose to smell your smokey house with. My leprous child (who also has triple pneumonia and horrible breath, by the way) would give anything to have his nose back to smell awful things with…

  81. Comment by Aldo Caporuscio | 07.6.2012 | 9:22 am

    I should be pissed, but I’ve had a big spike in visitors to my website over the past two days. I guess what they say is true, bad publicity is still publicity.

    Just to show you how grateful I am, I’m sending twenty pounds of premium Canadian back bacon your way. This is the good stuff, Fatty. Smoked really nice.


    You know, it could be worse. You could be opening for Air Supply. – FC

  82. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 07.6.2012 | 9:47 am

    Been there with the fire ~ the smell will go away eventually. It stinks, I know.

    The “it could be worse” comments reminded me of the owner of a company I use to work for. He would say, “at least you still have a job” right after telling us we wouldn’t be getting raises again. That did not make anyone feel better!

    LOL @Fifth Column ;)

  83. Comment by mykill | 07.6.2012 | 9:57 am

    Unofficial Free Verse Friday!

    Fatty’s house sadly smells of smolder
    Unmeasured delight at seeing Aldo in the comments
    makes me feel older
    My car had to go to the shop today in SOMA
    So i loaded the bike to ride it back home…uh
    I made great time from garage to my front door
    But upon arrival realized i missed the finish of stage 6 of Le Tour.

    Still, it could have been worse.

    Thank you

  84. Comment by Barb | 07.6.2012 | 10:23 am

    We were evacuated for a week from a neighborhood fire. Cat, dog, photos and 4 little kids in a SUV. No one wanted us for more than 1 night (wonder why). Power out, food spoiling, fish tank chilling, house a little smelly. Lots of homes destroyed, but not ours. Good luck with the cleanup. I still freak when near fires.

  85. Comment by Full Monte | 07.6.2012 | 12:13 pm

    Aldo called. If he rewrites his song, can he please use your basement?

    Smoky nights, summer breezes makes you feel a fright
    Fire lights, shinin’ brightly make your yard ignite
    See the rider with the lycra so tight
    Give you love, if your line is right
    Black or white, on the trail there’s no wrong and no right, no

    Outta sight, buy your kit from the man on this site
    Stinks all right, smoke in your nose tonight
    See man, with a sooty face cry
    Like some girls, it makes you wonder why
    A bloggers life, sure its cool, but it cuts like a knife, it’s your life

    So forget all that you see
    It’s not reality, it’s just a fantasy

    Can’t you see what this crazy blog is doin’ to me?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?

    So forget all that you see
    It’s not reality, it’s just a fantasy

    Can’t you see what this crazy blog is doin’ to me?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?
    Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?
    I know, I know

  86. Comment by dug | 07.6.2012 | 2:39 pm

    lighten up francis

  87. Comment by Dopey | 07.6.2012 | 2:44 pm

    So what you were wanting was sympathy. Seems you didn’t want anyone to fix it or offer advice and you just wanted someone to listen (ask for advice if you want it). You failed to voice what you needed. When people complain most folks offer a reframe (“It could be worse”)as a way to place a positive/uplifting light on the situation. I agree, a reframe usually isn’t the earth shattering response most crave it also connotes a desire to help emotionally. But to jump on people b/c you didn’t like their Twitter response? How many times have you offered a similar responses in your lifetime? Get over yourself. This is the most assign topic you’ve commented on. If I didn’t know it is July, I’d think it was April 1.

  88. Comment by Dopey | 07.6.2012 | 2:49 pm

    HAHA! Assign…read that to be asinine please. I am off to but a campfire now.

  89. Comment by Kristen | 07.9.2012 | 4:19 pm

    Sorry Fatty – I had some serious fire damage at my apt over the holidays. It just sucks. Quick note – if you have to use restoration specialists be very picky and ask a lot of questions. It is very easy to have that get out of hand quickly :).

    Also – if you need to wash clothing nothing worked better than baking soda and white vinegar. I was shocked at how much better that worked than multiple kinds of detergent. I even closed up some items that couldn’t be washed but had sentimental value in a bag with bowls of both and found that worked pretty well too.

  90. Comment by Libby | 07.12.2012 | 3:27 pm

    Yeah it could be worse, but it isn’t and your house and contents stinks. And it is worse than having the Honey Badgers stalking your place.

    I know there are paints that seal smell…they’re used after house fires.

    It all sounds like a lot of work and will cut into serious riding time.

  91. Comment by Rup | 07.12.2012 | 9:34 pm

    The easiest response is “a lost toy to a child is the same as a lost crown to a king.”
    Makes them stop and think. And you enjoy the quiet! Cheers!


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