Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Big Loser

I stepped on the scale in the bathroom this morning and got a little shock. For probably the first time in six years I saw a weight under 180 pounds. Wow. I'm usually pretty hard on myself and have cronic self esteem issues but even I have to say, "attaboy!" to myself. That's down from 205 pounds last June. And considering the below chart is geared toward an average build (in other words, NOT a cyclist or other athlete with more muscle mass than average leading to excess weight) I'm feeling damn good about it. And muscle mass issues aside, I have officially earned an "I told you so" to deliver to my doctor.

As an aside my average racing weight as a senior racer (that's a person between 19 and 35 in bike-racer lingo) was 155 to 163. Hard to believe I was ever that skinny! I doubt I'll get back down there and still have a life but getting to and maintaining 170 to 175 looks damn realistic. I never would have guessed that a year ago!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Strange times...

This has easily been the strangest week of the year. Between car repairs, chicken surgery, a new dog in the house, a new dog in the house popping his stiches and getting rushed to the ER, yet another dog getting rescued on the road this morning, more car repairs, SNOW, ice, more snow and now being sick on top of it. It's just been a weird week.

But last night Jasper and I were hanging out (while Kris took "Grover" the new dog to the ER for new stiches) and it went like this (keep in mind he is five years and a day old).

Jasper: Dad?
Dad: Hmmm?
J: What does, T-O
long pause
J: Wait a minute.
Jasper thinks hard
J: G---L---E-T spell?
Dad: Ummm. Toglet?
J: No! It spells chocolate!
Dad: Wow. That was amazing.

One of the greatest joys of being a parent are those wonderful little moments when your son figures out how to spell chocolate out of thin air. Amazing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicken Surgery!

Kris told me not to blog this since she thought an animal rights group might attack but no one reads this blog so here it goes...

Back in September-ish we acquired two little chicks. Jasper named them Alicia and Diego (after the cartoon).

Well it turned out Alicia is a rooster and Diego is a hen so they are now known as Alex and Diega.

Kris, always the animal empathist, noticed that Diega's crop was getting bigger and bigger and hard like a rock. She did some interwebbing and figured out that poor Diega had an impacted crop. After some further interwebbing, it seemed that we were going to either have to pay up to $500 for surgery to unimpact the crop or we were going to have to be the surgeons.

I don't like eggs enough to spend $500 and neither does Kris so we put Jasper to bed, prepared the table and went to work. I had to do the actual cutting but Kris did most of the rest of the work. It was pretty rough at first and I thought Kris wasn't going to make it. Luckily she rebounded and it was me who sat there woozy for the next TWO HOURS while we pulled about a baseball size pile of straw out of her crop tweezer by tweezer.

Ah the life of a gentleman farmer. Fun! No?

Diega is recovering very nicely. The wound and stitches look great (Kris did the stitches). And Kris is a great nurse. Diega is living in our kitchen for now on a diet of yogurt and mushy bread. Hopefully this doesn't happen again or Diega is going to be dinner!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

LARPD Cyclocross 12/13/08

I'm going to keep this to a race report and philosophize later. The C race was 30 minutes as usual. The course was almost exactly the same as the last except with much less barriers (boo) and a set of stairs included. The stairs suck since things get bottlenecked and you can't gain any positions. Seems kind of pointless, really. Bring the barriers back! That said. The stairs kicked my ass!

I started much easier and on the outside this time and found it to be a much lower adreneline experience. After the first three turns and into the first barriers I was passing instead of being passed. By the end of the first lap I was racing with three other guys and that was about it. By halfway through the second lap, there weren't anymore changes in position though I had a guy in my sights for the next two and a half laps to the finish I just couldn't close the gap. I was having a really hard time recovering and just having a hard time riding hard and pushing and going at max in general.

I was actually feeling kind of crappy and a little discouraged at the end since it seemed I was pretty severely in the back marker brigade. I stopped at the truck, put on leg warmers, grabbed my wallet and set out for about an hour cool down ride (after a quick stop at the 7 for a pow bar).

I tried to get my morale back up during my ride and sort of succeded and by the time I was heading back I was concentrating on what a horribly uncomfortable road-ride my mt. bike delivers right up my seat more than anything else. Quick change to regular clothes in the parking lot and a jog over to check the results followed. I immediately looked to the very bottom of the list of 35 (same as last week) names and didn't see mine. "Uh oh, they missed me" I thought as I scanned up the list. But there I was at 22nd place. Mind you 22 out of 35 kind of sucks but that was pretty good improvement from the last race so it turned my frown around pretty good and I'm feeling good.

Well, my brain is good. Last night I started getting the tell-tale lymph node soarness and, sure enough, I woke up this morning with a sore throat and big-time congestion. That explains the legs-of-clay I had yesterday, at least. I hope this thing clears up before next Saturday's race.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Crotch is Where the Bike Goes

Last Saturday I showed up for a local race team's weekly ride prepared to introduce myself and then spend the next few hours glued to wheels and doing everything in my power to NOT GET DROPPED. To my disappointment (and dare I admit relief?) there was some sort of hitch in the thing since I was at the announced time and place yet found myself solo. So I had a good three hour ride alone with my thoughts and a few nice views (courtesy of a break in the fog at the top of Patterson Pass).

Then on Tuesday I tossed my Mt. Bike into the truck, dropped my son off at school and rode the Pleasanton Ridge for about three thousand feet of dirt climbing over a two hour ride. Unlike the previous Saturday, I was more than happy to ride solo and it was a sunny day and I had a blast even though I stalled out on four or five of the steeper climbs and had to finish them on foot.

I will probably try to do maybe three or four road races next year but it's really going to be all about the mountain bike racing I think. Mt. Biking is more fun for me. It's SO much less pretentious than the road. You can enter a race and not have to end up hating yourself for wasting so much time and money and family energy only to end up "off the back." And the swag is almost always better.

Now. Is that enough of a commitment to blow a very large amount of cash on a new mountain bike???
That's an Ibis Tranny, by the way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mark Pendleton

I went to Mark Pendleton's memorial service on Saturday. I don't know if I went as a cyclist or a new friend. I suppose the decision to support the family in the funeral home over the decision to ride in the memorial ride answers that question. Fact is, I hadn't even ridden with Mark yet, despite hours we spent talking bikes and racing. Mark was the foreman electrician on the installation of the new solar panels and off-grid electrical system on my house. His work was very good and, as I've learned since, typically perfectionistic. He worked on my house the day he was taken from us.

After the memorial service I drove up the road, parked, changed into my own cycling gear and went for my own personal memorial ride. I rode up the climb of McEwen road and then down to the site of his death. There I stood on the side of the road for a few minutes. I don't tend to make ceremony of my praying but I did there on the solemn road with no traffic. I hope there's a reason for the loss of this enthusiastic, kind man. I prayed that there be some sort of grand design behind the way he was killed. I think the tendency is to make people greater after their passing but Mark really was a sincerely nice guy who would not hesitate to encourage or do something that would surprise me with his ability to put away his pride for the good of the job as a whole. He was a guy I really considered "buena gente." We shared quite a few laughs over the weeks he worked at my house and all my memories of him are either working hard or smiling and laughing.

I'm not sure why I'm blogging this. It feels strange. Grief is a strange personal thing and I've been searching deep inside. I think the combination of having a new friend taken away and seeing someone with whom I related to so much as a father, worker and cyclist struck down has just been difficult. I'm just sad.

And I'm angry. Very angry. I'm angry that someone did this. I'm angry to share a world with people so heartless. I'm angry at Mark for trying to squeeze in a ride so close to dark -even though I've done the same damn dangerous and stupid thing myself too many times to count. I'm angry at myself for leaving dark feelings in the air at home despite my best intentions.

Probably the most important thing to do from this is try to learn and maybe honor the person who's lost by bettering ourselves or appreciating what we do have. I'm trying.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Better than DFL! LARPD Cyclocross Race Nov. 22, 2008

To quote one of the funniest lines ever spoken in a movie, "Well. That happened."

The race on Saturday went well. My main goal was to not die, not get injured and to remember that it's a minor victory just to be IN a race after such a long hiatus. So it was a success by those measures.

Actual placing was 29th out of 35th, though. I started off strong and was maybe 12th wheel going into the first corner. I stayed there briefly but a few bobbles later and I was getting passed. I stuck in there and passed about five people going through the second set of barriers when I decided to run the short hill following instead of remounting like everyone else. But shortly after that, I sort of blew up and for the final 20 minutes I just sort of "rode within myself" as they say. Unfortunately, I found myself in a no man's land with no one ahead to use as a carrot and no one behind me to egg me on.

And so it stayed until well into the last lap when a guy caught up to me. He rode my wheel and wouldn't come around. He even said something like, "keep it up and we'll hold off the three guys behind." (I think). But he wouldn't come around despite taking a few corners way wide and slow. So I just kept riding and pulling him along all the while thinking, "this maggot is going to come around me at the end..." I was much faster through the barriers and remounting so I gapped him pretty good in the last set of dismounts but he caught me anyway just before the last corner.

I had him on the outside so had the advantage on the final turn and should have put him into the barriers but instead I made it a fair sprint and he pipped me at the line. Maybe it's a loser mentality but I knew we weren't even in the top half so I didn't really put my heart into the sprint. As he won by inches, my foe let out a primal roar at the line and I couldn't help but laugh.

I've crossed probably four hundred finish lines in bike races and if there's one thing I've observed is that the race for 28th place can often be fought for as hard as the race for first. The other thing I've observed is that those same sprints for 28th place are often when the worst accidents and injuries happen. Most of the other racers, officials and folks lining up for the next race are all thinking "well, that's over" and then suddenly here come two geeks flying into what should be a closed zone and into a dangerous situation.

That said, I wished I'd dugged a bit deeper and finished 28th...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A return to insaner times...

Okay. This is it. I plunk my $90 down to USACycling tonight. I did the initial part of the application and was surprised to find out that my old racing license number will still be my number. I certainly hope they don't expect me to race as a Cat. 3 or I'm gonna be one fat old toasted man...

Racing again. I must be completely nuts to even think about it. Screw it. We only live once. On Saturday morning I will pin on the numbers of a bike racer for the first time in ten and a half years! It's just a little local cyclocross race but it will be a pretty big event to me!

(That's mr. bean in case you needed to be told...)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let's Review

Let's revisit those goals...

Get down to 190 lbs. by October 1st, 2008 (rate of one pound per week). DONE!

Get down to 185 lbs. by December 1st, 2008. Almost there.

Maintain sub-185 lbs. Indefinitely. Eventual target is to get under 180. Time will tell.

Maintain a reasonable riding schedule (at least twice a week) of at least 3 to 5 hours per week for remainder of 2008. So far so good. Lunchtime rides work well. Had a couple of ten-day breaks due to traveling and work at home but no biggie. Feeling strong.

Ride to Bill and Audreys’ from home by Spring, 2009 DONE! Much easier ride than I thought. Now need to do it the opposite direction to feel studly.

Ride to Mt. Hamilton and back from home by Summer, 2009 Quite likely will have this heavy-climbing 60-mile ride knocked out by the end of the year, weather permitting.

Do a metric century by December 2008. See above.

Do at least one overnight trip (unsupported) by end of Summer, 2009 Have a trip loosely in the works being planned.

Enjoy cycling! It’s not work. If it feels like work, take a week off but ONLY a week. Roger that! I give myself an A+ so far. I'm very pleased with how much fun it FINALLY is to be back on the bike again. I guess time heals all wounds??? Time for new ones!

Monday, November 3, 2008

That which is the opposite of down.

Been very busy lately at home working on a little house to put our new batteries and inverter in. We're COMPLETELY starting over from scratch on our solar system including new batteries, inverter and panels. The only thing that will remain from our current system is the gas generator! Yes, this is an ambitious undertaking. We're contracting the electrical work out but I'm in charge of ditches, carpentry and generally everything else. It's been somewhat challenging, to say the least, to stay ahead of the electrical contractors but... so far so good. I've taken a ton of pictures of the progress with the intent to post updates here but I've been too busy. It's pretty damn fun building stuff, though. Too bad I don't have any photos in the computer yet or I'd post something.

Because of all the carpentry, building and ditch digging, I haven't had much time to get on my bike. BUT. I am seriously thinking about taking out a race license for next year!!! I won't go nuts like the old days (racing up to 60 days of the year!!!) but I would like to target maybe a dozen or so road and mountain bike races throughout the year. We'll see... The hard part will be to transition from riding casually (though consistently and with satisfaction) to actual training. I trained for SO many years, though, that it really comes naturally and without a heck of alot of effort. It's just time that's the constraint. Big constraint.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monkey boys and little ladies.

Howdy! Here's pictures from our trip to visit Shellie, Steve, Elena, James and Mollie. The trip was WAY TOO SHORT. But we're thankful to have had it. We had a great time. Click on any of the pictures to see it bigger (then right click and "save as" if you want it on your computer).

We finally got to meet Mollie. What a sweety.

Jasper and James had a great time playing together and spreading toys all over the place.

Lincoln Logs sure have come a long way in 36 years!

We visited a street fair in Lafayette and Steve's Theater sponsored some dress up stuff. Jasper makes a good alien, I think.

Ah, boys, sand, water and a few toys. Life is good.

A couple of pretty ladies.

More proof that little boys are more monkey than human.

James and Jasper treated us to a puppet show.

All four cousins and some froggy friends.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Be it ever so humble...

We just got back from eight days in the midwest. We flew into Chicago and drove to my sister's house in Indiana. Hard to believe it took me this long to come see her and meet Mollie, my youngest niece. Jasper had a great time playing with his cousin James (only 6 months older) and we generally had a good time catching up and visiting with my oldest niece, Elena who is growing up into such a talented and wonderful little person. It warms my heart but it's sad the distance creates such... well, distance. But it's a big country and sometimes our loved ones just get scattered about.

Next trucked over to Champaign-Urbana. I had two and a half long days of a workshop to attend but in the free time we had a great time hanging out with our great friends the Kastens. All their kids are growing up into such wonderful little dudes and dudettes. Jasper had a great time with them as well. Again, it was great to visit old friends (family, really) but I left feeling a little melancholy that we only ever get to see each other in fits and starts and with such huge gaps of time in between. Why am I so crappy at keeping in touch during those gaps. That's sad.

Now we're home, Jasper's acting a little more like himself (had some major attitude issues during the trip - see picture above for a reasonable representation of his mood and character...) and we're back normal after only about 13 hours of being back at the ranch.

Okay, off the computer now. Gonna go build with Legos and then sneak out the door for a bike ride. Thanks for reading. Now go send someone you love a quick note to let them know you're doing well and thinking about them. DO IT!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not exactly "Don't Worry Be Happy"... but in the ballpark.

I submit the photo the left.

The last 14 or 15 months have probably been the toughest of my career. I had a major engineering effort to get ready for several months of deployments in unforgiving conditions and then had to go with the instrument on the deployments and do all the field repairs, maintenance and then some project management on top of that.

This picture isn't spectacular. But I have actually learned something from this picture and it is symbolic of a newer and more mature aspect on life for me.

On the day this picture was taken. I had been spending every waking hour for several days worrying, working and freezing my ass off out inside the airplane trying to fix a glitch in my instrument. I was sick as a dog and at one point had to resort to notes and hand signals to communicate with people since I lost my voice. My diet had gone to hell, excercise was a distant memory and I was FIERCELY missing my wife and son.

But you know what I see in that picture? Yes, I see a puffy face. Yes I see my beard is getting out of hand. Yes I see exhaustion in my eyes. But what really strikes me is that I am smiling. Smiling. That's it? Yes. Smiling.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rider Roy

I still live! Haven't been blogging, though.

Bicycling continues to be the old friend that I wonder why I let simmer for so long. I've been loving it. Both my body and my wallet are lighter in reverence to my new dedication.

As Fall looms I find myself in better spirits than most years. I am very much a Summer type of person. To me the Fall and winter are the cold, dark, long, wet doldrums of the year. Extra effort is required in every endeavor.
-Can't make it out for a bike ride during lunch. Well forget it. You blew it. You don't even have the option of riding later in the day cuz it will be dark.
-Get migraines induced by car headlights? Too bad you'll be commuting both ways in the dark for three hours a day...
-Weekends your only opportunity to get out and stretch your legs? Too bad it will miraculously be raining every single weekend for the next four months...
-Does your job really count on clear sky to test new things and check out your equipment? Too bad it will be overcast about 75% of the days...
-Summer riding is easy sneezy and you get a biker tan: Pair of bike shorts and a short sleeve jersey, gloves, helmet and maybe a bandana. Winter riding is a pain in the butt: Pair of bike shorts and a short sleeve jersey, long fingered gloves, tights, some sort of balaclava or head warmer, wind breaker, long sleeve under shirt, maybe booties, fenders, snotty dripping nose, cold water bottles...
-Heat your house with a wood stove? Well guess how much of your precious freetime will be spent on cutting wood, splitting wood, stacking wood for the next four or five months! (Side bonus I have to admit, however is that it is an excellent excercise).

Anyway, you get the idea. There's a reason I escape to the desert when I get the chance. California is a good compromise, however. It's definitely MUCH better than the East Coast winters that I've left far behind me now. I don't know if Northern Arizon just holds the nostalgia of my youthful perspective or if it is the perfect weather-place on the planet for me.

Anyway. Fall and Winter may come and do their usual. I'll try to weather it well this year.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lance Who? Bobby Julich is MY Idol.

Olympic bronze medalist Julich retires

USA's Bobby Julich of Team CSC-Saxo Bank has announced the end of his 15-year professional career – "Now is the time to ... move on to the next phase of my life."
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

USA's Bobby Julich of Team CSC-Saxo Bank has announced the end of his 15-year professional career, saying, "Now is the time to make that decision and move on to the next phase of my life."

"I have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during my career," he said in press release, "but every moment has taught me many things and made me into the person I am today. I hope to stay connected to the world of cycling because it has been my life and passion for 25 years."

CSC-Saxo Bank Team Manager Bjarne Riis praised Julich and said he hopes to continue working with him. "I would be honoured if he would consider being part of the team in another role in the future," he said.

Julich, 36, turned professional in 1992. He had his first major successes while with Team Cofidis in 1997–1999, winning the Tour de l'Ain and the Criterium International and finishing third in the 1998 Tour de France. After seasons at Crédit Agricole and Telekom, he joined CSC in 2004. He won a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and the Paris-Nice, Critérium International and Eneco Tour in 2005. He has not ridden this season since the Tour de Suisse. (SW)

Stolen without permission from www.cyclingnews.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Date: August 12, 2008

AM Weight: ?

Bike: Eggplant

Ride Time: 30 minutes

Ride Distance: 0-rollers

Ride: Rollers on the deck.

Ride Thoughts: Did 5x 20 second sprints (spin sprints) with 100 second recovery. Tendon not getting worse, not feeling better. Going to take a few days off now.

Date: August 16, 2008

AM Weight: 197.4

Bike: Booger Ibis

Ride Time: 125 minutes

Ride Distance: 22ish miles

Ride: From house towards Junction. Turnaround at 22 mile marker.

Ride Thoughts: Very hot day. That and steep climbs and riding on the dirt road made for a slow ride but that’s okay. Feeling quite tired after the heat and hills and generally headachy.

Date: August 17, 2008

AM Weight:

Bike: eggy

Ride Time: 30”

Ride Distance: 0-rollers

Ride: rollers

Ride Thoughts: Blah. Feeling tired and a little achy in the legs. Backed off from bigger gears and just spun the little ones.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Date: August 9, 2008

AM Weight: 198.5

Bike: Eggplant Ibis

Ride Time: 140 minutes

Ride Distance: 32-ish miles

Ride: From work (yes work on a Saturday) out to the Sand Hill loop via Charleston-Foothil-Page Mill and return Foothill-Shoreline.

Ride Thoughts: Rode with an Ace Bandage ankle support and it worked well – for about 15 minutes. Oh well. Simply a great ride other than that. Nice sunny warm day bordering on hot. Haven’t done this ride in probably four years but still remember every little climb and descent and detail. I guess I did used to ride it at least once or twice a week so that should be no surprise.

Date: August 10, 2008

AM Weight: ???

Bike: Eggplant Ibis

Ride Time: 30 minutes

Ride Distance: 0 – ROLLERS!

Ride: Rode the rollers on the deck.

Ride Thoughts: Rode the rollers on the deck since I’m solo with Jasper but also because I want to keep the legs spinning but reduce the wear and tear on my Achilles tendon. It still feels sore but less stressful. Had a fun time showing off for Jasper. I think he was having a hard time trying to figure out how the heck I stayed on there without falling off.

Date: August 11, 2008

AM Weight: 198.5

Bike: Eggplant Ibis

Ride Time: 30 minutes

Ride Distance: 0-rollers

Ride: Rollers on the deck again.

Ride Thoughts: Quite pleasant for not going anywhere!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Date: August 6, 2008

AM Weight: Didn’t

Bike: Eggplant Ibis (Road bike, Dura Ace, Ritchey, Diacompe, Chris King… Very high zoot and light! Also a racing bike and not well suited to my currently fat ass)

Ride Time: 115 minutes

Ride Distance: 29 ish miles

Ride: From work to top of Steven’s Creek damn with side trip to Rancho San Antonio

Ride Thoughts: Rode with Yohei and was nice to have the company. Tendon still ripped up and making me slow to accelerate and climb. Boo! Other than that, great weather and nice ride. Really enjoying riding for the first time since my racing days!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 5, 2008

Date: August 5, 2008

AM Weight: Didn’t…

Bike: Johnny Tomes! (Tomac Mt. Bike)

Ride Time: 55 minutes

Ride Distance: 14 miles???

Ride: From work, mess around in the marsh paths.

Ride Thoughts: Achilles Tendon WAS feeling fine walking and everything but within minutes of riding started hurting again. Dammit. Otherwise, an easy spin around the scenic, yet smelly marsh.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Damn feets fail'n' me!

"Oh for crap's sake." That's what I thought to myself when the unmistakable signs of a gout attack started up yesterday. Here I'm just starting to get my achilles tendon back to not hurting and my other foot decides to unleash its own little hell. This sucks. I go to the doctor today.

In other news I'm in the middle of trying to sell gear on craigslist to fund more cycling toys (a new frame). So far so good but I will say that craigslist can be a very frustrating venue if you are not patient with flaky people who don't show up or ask too many dumb questions about cheap stuff.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Date: July 26, 2008

AM Weight: 198.6

Bike: Booger Ibis

Ride Time: 75 minutes

Ride Distance: 22.2 (no computer but I know the distance on this one)

Ride: House to the ACE train station in town.

Ride Thoughts: This damn Achilles tendon pain is getting worse. Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit! Hopefully a few days off and some icing and heating will bring it back enough for some light riding. I feel like I have great momentum and am enjoying getting out on the bike more than I have in many many years so this is frustrating. Riding through aches and pains is all part of the experience but some pains tell you that it’s better to not ride and that’s what this one is.

I really like everything about the ibis except the frame (too small) and the tires. I really bought it for the components so have always had it in the back of my mind that a frame transplant was in its future. I’ve identified the replacement but I need to save the fun money for another month before I can make it happen. Haven’t decided on next tires yet, these aren’t dead yet so I have to keep rolling on them for awhile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 24 and 25 rides

Date: July 24, 2008

AM Weight: 198.5

Bike: Green Booger Ibis

Ride Time: 70 minutes ß including fricking stop lights

Ride Distance: 16 miles???

Ride: Work to castro to shoreline to Montebello to foothill to arastradero to blah blah blah typical lunch time ride around mt. View and los altos with a teaser into Palo Alto.

Ride Thoughts: Took it easy. Left Achilles tendon hurting. Damn, an injury to ride through already? Feels VERY similar to the infamous right Achilles tendon injury of winter ’95-’96 when the doctor looked at me with surprised eyes and said, “I never heard THAT sound before!” (it was literally creaking like an unoiled hinge which is exactly what it was).

Date: July 25th, 2008

AM Weight: didn’t

Bike: Tomac Mt. Bike

Ride Time: 35 minutes

Ride Distance: ??? 8 miles???

Ride: From Great America Train station to Work

Ride Thoughts: Damn Achilles tendon! Started feeling a little motion sick on the train so was glad to get off and get some air on the bike. I KNOW this Tomac frame is too small but I really like the bike and I don’t seem to be having ANY of the neck and hand numbness issues that have plagued me for the last five years. Hmmm, maybe digging less trenches around the property and paying more attention to my posture in front of the computer is paying off???

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Get down to 190 lbs. by October 1st, 2008 (rate of one pound per week).

Get down to 185 lbs. by December 1st, 2008.

Maintain sub-185 lbs. Indefinitely. Eventual target is to get under 180.

Maintain a reasonable riding schedule (at least twice a week) of at least 3 to 5 hours per week for remainder of 2008.

Ride to Bill and Audreys’ from home by Spring, 2009

Ride to Mt. Hamilton and back from home by Summer, 2009

Do a metric century by December 2008.

Do at least one overnight trip (unsupported) by end of Summer, 2009

Enjoy cycling! It’s not work. If it feels like work, take a week off but ONLY a week

Picture stolen without permission from

July 23, 2008

Date: July 23rd

AM Weight: Was 200.5 lb. a few days ago.

Bike: Green Ibis antique Mountain Bike converted to 26” road bike.

Ride Time: 90 minutes

Ride Distance: 23 miles? No computer.

Ride: Work to Steven’s Creek Damn and back.

Ride Thoughts: Feels pretty good for having been AN ENTIRE YEAR since my last “real” ride! Started to get calf and right hamstring tension after about on hour. Should lower seat a little. Otherwise felt damn comfortable on the bike! Coming back through Mt. View on Castro Street had TWO separate instances of assholes on cellphones not paying attention. First ran me up into the curb and the guy apologized a hundred times. The second person I could see was looking at the cell phone and not driving so I gave a knuckle rap on her fender to wake her up. Come on people! PAY ATTENTION WHEN YOU DRIVE!!!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Project Babe Resurrection Part One (no more # of 104)

"Babe" is the one bike -of all my bikes- I lived on the most. For at least five of my ten racing seasons she was my main steed. I had some of the best conversations of my life with that bike between my knees. It was probably with that bike wedged up my butt that I took the first few bike rides with the woman who would become my wife. It was Babe that gave me my only sub-55 minute 40 km time trial and it was Babe who was with me on all those miles and miles and miles of training and racing.

Yes, there were certainly many other bikes but if I search my brain for the one bike I picture beneath me when I think of my racing years it's Babe (with a close second being my beloved Bridgestone RB-7 that I still kick myself for ever having sold).

BTW, Babe is a mid 90's Bianchi EL/OS straight from Bianchi's Reparto Corse. I couldn't really afford it when I bought it but a "team deal" made it attainable and I always liked the idea that maybe it really was the same exact frame that Marco Pantani swung his leg over everyday to ply his trade.

Around 1999, I was rudely awakened by a loud crashing noise coming from the "office" of our little bungalow. I turned on the lights and to my horror, there was my wall mounted bike stand NOT on the wall. Since Kris is a petite woman, her bike was on the bottom stand and had no damage. My stomach turned backflips, however, when I untangled my beloved Babe and found a gigantic ding in the downtube where the momentum of the fall had brought her delicate frame into contact with the top of our office chair.

At that point, I bought an Ibis frame, transferred all the best parts over and put Babe in the garage. Being a bored kind of guy who enjoys working on bikes, however, I eventually did put a bunch of spare parts on Babe and built her as a backup bike. The huge ding in the downtube really didn't bend the frame. She still tracked straight and true and hands off riding was just as confident as ever. The biggest worry in my head was that the downtube would suddenly collapse under heavy braking.

But now I don't care.

Nowadays I really don't ride at all and I've 50 pounds now that I didn't have ten years ago. Of course I'll never be bike-racer skinny again and I'll never return to the days of 250 mile weeks but it sure would be healthy for me to figure out how to get two or three rides in a week. This stupid episode with gout convinced me of that.

I still have the Ibis but the Ibis and I never really found each other to be good companions. The Ibis wants to sprint up hills and carve sharp corners. That's all fine and good but those days are simply behind me now.

So I've began the work of stripping poor of Babe of the spare parts. I'll have to do a HUGE amount of tender love and care on the frame but she's still all there. The saddest thing I've found so far are small rust spots coming through the chrome on the stays. How could I let such a good old friend come to that? So sad.

So look for pictures and updates as I spend the tiny amount of spare time I have on bringing this old friend back to life.

Frame of action...
1- Strip frame.
2-"Frame prep" = degreasing, rubbing, flush/clean/coat inside of frame, and at least three coats of turtle wax.
3-Strip the Ibis.
4-Figure out what parts from both bikes I like most and clean up/make perfect for installation.
5-Build with patience, love and tenderness.
6-Get to know and old friend.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back Home (32 of 104)

Well chronicling the trials and tribulations of a typical field deployment sort of petered out there didn't it. The fact of the matter is that after about a week, you fall into a rhythm and it gets kind of mundane. Then homesickness and - sorry to say - being around the same people all day long day in and day out just gets old. I mean, I genuinely like all my coworkers and get along great with everybody but after awhile I just need to get away from the work and be by myself. With no rental cars and no way to get around that just wasn't possible on this deployment so I just put my head down and got over it. I hope I didn't end up too grumpy for the people I was with. I try not to get too surly in the field but it does happen.

So I got home last night and it was a great thing! Jasper's developments, both physical and mental, always leave me staggering and I actually find myself trying to catch up with what he is now capable of doing. It's such an amazing experience to watch a little human grow!

Now I'm off for a few days and then will be diving back into it. That's a good thing, actually. There is a fairly common phenomena known as post-deployment-depression where you try to go from working all the time with no distractions in the field to suddenly being back home and trying to readjust. What typically happens is work production goes into the basement and motivation gets really low. The best cure is to have something to do. And I'm not done traveling yet so I'll need to hit the ground running next week. Until then, it's R&R time with only a little work to be done from home!

It's good to be home!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Le Tour (31 of 104)

Ug. Yesterday was a "hard" down day. That means a day off. So I laid on my bed and watched almost three hours of Stage One of the Tour De France. The longer I watched the more depressed I started to get. Sometimes I really miss my old cycling days. I like to think I got the most out of it while I was doing it but the truth is that I really took alot of the adventure, freedom and fitness for granted. At the time I couldn't conceive of a life on not training and racing or at least bike commuting and riding for pleasure. But here I am. I've tried and tried to figure out how to make more time in my schedule for riding but haven't figured it out yet. I really just don't have time in my day of ten hours at work and three hours commuting and then trying to be a dad. It's pretty frustrating. I'm not complaining about my life, I'm just feeling a little low about the life I don't have now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Getting Old(30 of 104)

On Monday morning, after a night of tossing and turning and cursing my throbbing gouty foot I threw in the towel and sought help. One of the project managers is a perfect mother hen and she took great care of me making calls and arrangements and eventually getting me a visit with the military doctor here.

He gave me an anti-inflammatory and within 4 hours I was already on the road to relief. Believe me, the gout is painful - make that Painful, it deserves a capital P.

Life here is mundane and very uninteresting. Other than work, the only thing I've done is go to the doctor and the pharmacy.

For now, though I'm just happy to be able to get around again without feeling completely lame (literally). The foot is at about 55% today and that's good enough for now. Hopefully I'll be able to run in a couple of days or at least get out for a long walk.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

So far so good - workwise(29 of 104)

So far the work here in Canada has gone well. The instrument is working quite well. There was a flight yesterday overflying forest fire plumes and apparently it was pretty brutal between the bumpiness and the cabin smoke smell. It was the kind of day that makes me happy I don't fly. There will probably be more of the same today but a longer flight.

We're staying in the military housing here and eating at the mess hall. That's okay. It's not the finest accomodations but it works. We aren't permitted rental cars either so it's almost like being in the military!

The biggest bummer is that I seem to be in the midst of my first full-on gout attack. My Dad got it at my exact same age so I guess it was bound to be. It really sucks though since walking is excruciatingly painful and I'm walking up to five miles a day between the distance across the ramp to the plane and going over to the mess hall and the dorm. I've been taking a ton of tylenol and using icy hot and that knocks the pain down a little but not nearly enough.

Gotta get my ass to the plane!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh Canada (28 of 104)

No flight today. Today was mostly about getting settled in up here and (for the scientists) doing flight planning for tomorrow etc...

The plane landed in major rain downpour yesterday so, despite eleven hours of travelling, I had to hit the ground running here to drain some rain water, take the skins off the instrument and check for water damage. I did a complete test today and found no problems so I think we'll be okay for science tomorrow. Of course I really won't know anything until the plane goes up high and the potential for ice screws us up. Hopefully all goes well.

The setup here is less than ideal. We are living in military housing, and (worst) eating at the mess hall. Yay. I suppose there will eventually be an opportunity to get out and explore but the work usually comes first and the off days are few and far between.

More on the experience etc... later on. For now I'm tired. It's been a long first day of trying to push round pegs through square holes...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flying (27 of 104)

All I wanted to do from about 9 years old to about 18 years old was fly planes. Unfortunately the reality of a very crappy inner ear and finances never made it happen. But working with the airplanes in my job now is pretty damn satisfying, even if I never leave the ground.

We had a successful test flight on Sunday though there were some problems with my instrument. I fixed everything with the help of my programmer yesterday and now today there is an 8-hour science flight over California for the California Air Resources Board.

The time spent on the ground during the science flights is always Hell for me. I'm usually a nervous wreck worrying about the instrument. For my own health I really need to stop doing that. It really does no good to worry.

But I do.

I'm sort of ready to take off for Canada on Thursday. When the plane gets back tonight we have to do a little work loading and such. It looks like I can't avoid coming into work tomorrow but it will be a short day so I can hang out with Jasper in the afternoon. Then it's off to Canada for almost three weeks. I'll be flying on a commercial plane while the P-3 flies up there at the same time. Of course they won't have to mess with security lines, rental car lines, baggage claim lines etc... Lucky bastards...

Friday, June 20, 2008

yay (26 of 104)

Got to the plane at 6 this morning and hit the ground running. Had great support and got the instrument all installed already! Yes! That felt good and makes for a very relieved little Roy.

Soooo found a price I couldn't refuse on Craigslist yesterday and pulled the trigger on buying a 1995 BMW 318ti. That should fit the bill and should give me a solid 28-30 mpg in the process. I hope the dang thing holds up!

Trying to pick a name for the car but it hasn't presented one yet. I'm thinking Rosa (a decidedly pink shade of burgandy), Gustav, Otto or Karl. I don't know. I might let Jasper name the car but usually he just sticks a y on the end.

Me: What are you going to name your new toy Ocean Liner?
Jasper: Ummmmm. I don't know. How about Ocean Linery?
Me: That'll do.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to Business (25 of 104)

Ug. Here we go again. The NASA P-3B arrives here today for us to re-integrate our instrument and begin another field campaign. Last time I had to fly to Wallops Island Virginia (three frickin' times) so I'm happy to stay local this time. The only bummer is we don't have hangar space! That means working outside in the plane and the forecast is for 99 degrees tomorrow. I love this job sometimes...

So Friday and Saturday we sweat and curse and then Sunday will be a test flight then Monday or Tuesday will be a local science flight for the California Air Resources Board and then Wednesday is a day off and then Thursday it's off to Cold Lake Canada (in Alberta) for two and a half weeks of science and mosquitos and "black flies" (whatever the hell those are that everyone seems to be concerned about!).

I'm going to try to blog much more frequently on this deployment and try to capture the experience. Usually I'm so burned out and tired after a day in the field I really don't feel like opening up my computer but it would be nice to capture things this time. I imagine it could potentially become quite boring!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Careers (24 of 104)

I do not believe in absolutes but I do believe in breaking things down into simple terms. When my brain goes into this mode, I find it entertaining to try to capture it. Usually, having written it down, I realize it's either not a very original thought or that it's not as deep as I thought it was.

Anyway here's what started developing in my brain yesterday.

There are three types of career mind-sets. A few people fall into just one category and most are a combination of the three with one dominant. Which are you???
A) Drive: This person has goals, and the measure of success is quite high. The main drive to this person's career is position, title, well-defined metrics and earning peer respect. Driven people probably work way too hard.
B) Reward: This person is driven more by having a work atmosphere that is rewarding in that the coworkers, work production and schedule are all in line to minimize stress, maximize home life and give them a reason to not hate going to work.
C) Pay: Maximizing income is the driving force for this person. They'll take a promotion for pay only. They'll take a job they don't want for pay. They'll stay at a job they hate if the pay is good.

I think I'm probably mostly a B) person with C) being my next driver (sorry to say) and A) being the least important. But this is probably the kind of thing you really can't judge for yourself. Hell the whole excercise might be flawed. I'm sure there are other things that drive people in their day to day pursuit of work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why bother counting??? (23 of 104)

I had a pretty dang cool short week away with just myself and my son. I think both of us really really needed the big chunk of time away together. There is no doubt that this will be a regular thing from here on out. We've sort of done this type of thing before but it was usually with Kris going away and our staying home.

We went up to Kris' family's cabin (how funny to go leave the cabin I live in to go stay in another...) and had a great time sleeping in, swimming in the creek, hunting for newts and crawfish, wondering around exploring, taking jeep rides and generally just chilling out. What a blast.

So my father's day present was that I got to be a father! What more could I possibly ask for? Well, the monster nap on Sunday afternoon was appreciated.

Monday, June 2, 2008

More Car Foo (22 of 104)

Note: If you read this and you know the movie from the poster on the right, you are a righteous dude (or dudette).

I like to think of myself as a moderate "car guy." I can't quote engine sizes and the subtle difference in taillights between different model years and I don't know all about every new car coming out and I don't even have a car magazine subscription (though I do have a couple 4x4 subscriptions). But I do love cars. And as a car lover, I find a deep -deep- satisfaction from a clean car. So why, then, would I choose to live two and a half miles down a dirt road? That's just masochistic!

I spent almost FOUR HOURS cleaning my wife's car yesterday. The exterior still looked like Hell since our well water is rather mineral-rich but the interior was well vacuumed, windows were spotless and dashboard, plastic, seats and such were dust-free and clean.

While I was cleaning it occured to me that probably the most frustrating thing about being married is having to share a car. I grew up with parents who were both quite fastidious with the cleanliness of our vehicles. So my parents were in cahoots when it came to keeping dog slobber, cereal, gold fish, hay and goats out of our family cars. I love Kris for the fact that we have reason for all the above to get into her car but, man, it's hard on the brains!

S0 question of the day: How many goats have been transported in your family car? I bet we've hauled more than you have!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Thanks, Mr. Grothe (21 of 104)

I failed 9th grade science. There. I said it. Roy the engineer failed the intro to chemistry and physics class. Oh well.

Maybe my career has been all about trying to make up for that one class that just caught me at the wrong time in my life and put the exactly perfect combination of distractions in place that lead to my one and only "F"?


I test drove a '94 325is yesterday and have abandoned all hope of being satisfied with the 318. Ug. Being a competent member of the planet and trying not to waste gas yet being a automotive lover are being really hard on my brain!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cars (20 of 104)

Even I am kind of surprised that after months and months of deliberating over what car to buy as a commuter I have come up with...


BMW 3-series! I'm looking at the 318 to be specific.

Roy? A Beemer? Roy driving a BEEMER???? I know I know but it actually makes sense. I've always held VW as my favorite and have a soft spot in my heart for the few-and-far-between eurovehicles that have been in my life so... why not? The 318 gets 32 miles per gallon on the highway so makes a nice commuter that is relatively safe and will make a great weekend family car too. And 1995-1998 vintage 318's are quite affordable as well.

Now to find one. That's turning out to be the more difficult part. But hopefully I'll be posting a pic of my new ride in the next couple of weeks.

But then again a couple of weeks is usually all it takes for me to change my mind again...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I know what want. But not like Cheap Trick (19 of 104)

I took Jasper to "Bugorama" last weekend to see the sparkling VW's and the VW drag races. He loved it! And as usual, I also loved it.

But it left me feeling unfulfilled. I don't just want to look at other peoples' cool bugs, buses, things, notchbacks, squarebacks etc... I want one too!

Then I started thinking about all the things I want. I want another 4x4 that can zip down the road better. I want a super-gas-sipping commuter. I want a racecar. I want a rocket ship. I want I want I want.

Hell, I already have my Jeep as a toy. I'm living like many people plan to do "someday" but never do. I have a wonderful child and wife. Why should I want for anything??? I really shouldn't. But then I find myself on Monday night with the clock creeping up on 12:45 AM on Craigslist and eBay shopping for Volkswagens.

What does it take??? If I were single I would sell off everything and live with only a futon, bookshelf a bowl and a spoon for a year to purge myself. Of course I would do this living out of my pristine 1968 VW bus!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

D_On 't UND_ERsTanD ArT (18 of 104)

Holy Crap the new RADIOHEAD album is so damn good I can't stop listening to it. I stuck with them through the harder to listen to stuff but this is easily the best since "The Bends." FINALLY an old favorite comes out with a BETTER album instead of steadily declining with each album. That said, I have high hopes for a certain band coming out with a new album in about two weeks...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dirty Post (17 of 104)

I don't think you have to live on a dirt road and have a chronically dirty car to appreciate how cool this sight is but maybe it helps. Enjoy.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chicken Shit Liberals (16 of 104)

I recently read Doug Fine's "Farewell My Subaru." It was lent to me by a neighbor because he found the stuff about goats amusing and we have goats so ...

It was a good read and I'm fully on board with the ideas of buying locally made products, reducing dependence on oil and generally thinking about what we do and what it does to the environment. BUT. I hold these values as a human on the planet and it has nothing to do with politics. Therefore, I consider myself to NOT be the kind of guy to spout political lines and advertise my own righteous path (despite the fact that's exactly what I just did).

In the book, Fine uses lots of modern-day liberal speak such as "carbon-neutral." One thing he does in the book is convert a diesel truck to run on restaurant grease. Now I think that is an excellent idea! I would do the same if I had his free time and un-named source of large amounts of cash.

But what bugged me was that he repeatedly refers to his truck as being carbon-neutral. This is a large load of goat manure. Diesel emissions, while lower in CO2 and other harmful gases, are HUGE polutants of particle soot emissions. These emissions have the same harmful effects as volcanoes, wood smoke and desert dust where they can influence cloud formation and also contribute to dimming sunlight.

So I went to Mr. Fine's sight and, among a heaping of humorous and congratulating comments, pointed out the above. This morning I looked at his sight and found my comment was deleted. No explanation no email sent to me. Nothing. Just deleted. Now I take that as, "You had a disagreement and we're not going to put up with that."

Wow. I would expect that from some conservative dittohead but aren't the liberals supposed to be the smart ones? I mean I at least expected a "I respectfully disagree blah blah blah." But no. Now I just have another data point that confirms that liberals can be just as knee-jerk and unwilling to compromise as any conservative.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is it worth it? (15 of 104)

I'm home for an entire 5 week block of time now! Wahoo.

I don't know if this "Saving the Planet" line of work is healthful for me. Okay, I am not personally saving the planet but hopefully I'm building and maintaining the instrumentation used to collect that one extra data point to add to a collective knowledge about our planet and how all that crap in the sky ends up fucking up the weather.

So the work is good for my soul. I really can't imagine any other line of work that only ended in a profit margin or screwing someone over. And I won't pretend that the travel is a complete negative. I've been all kinds of cool places and even got to take Kris and Jasper to Hawaii this year. Pretty cool.

But there are times when I just want to be teleported into a 9 to 5 job that's a bit more on the boring and less on the challenging. The picture up above shows a typical moment from this year where I am tearing the instrument apart. In this case I'm sitting at a kitchen table in a condominium. Do you think I would choose to do this with two scientists anxiously looking over my shoulder trying not ask (again) if it was ready to go? I'll answer that for you. No. No I wouldn't choose that kind of stress. The main problem is that I am the only technical person in the group and there are three (and growing) scientists. The job would be alot easier if there were more technical help. That would also mean a Hell of alot less time in the field, too.

But I guess it's like many other things. You love your car until it breaks down. You love your wife until you get in a silly argument. You love your kid until they have a tantrum in the middle of the library. Actually you love them right through those pains but in the back of your head is the thought of how much easier it would be if...

That IF is a dangerous one. You can't judge the entire relationship with your car, wife, kid, or job on that one moment of IF. Chances are the entire love is more than worth that one silly moment when your brain goes into IF mode.

So that's figured out. Now, how do you balance all that love? If you figure that one out let me know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Six Word Memoire? (14 of 104)

Margara is making me do this. (Okay she's not making me but how else am I going to find enough to make up all the blogging I haven't been doin?)


"I was born. I'm still alive."


"Don't get a stupid tattoo. Dude."


"Mental Toughness: No Pain No Gain" <== I lived by that through my bike racing years which is a flippin' joke since I had no mental game!

O'Tay. I played. Sort of.

It ain't Canada, eh (13 of 104)

Fifteen days in Alaska and you'd think I'd think of something to write about! Well there has been plenty but I've been damn busy so not alot of time for this kind of blog foo. Especially since no one reads it.

First there's this, a really inaccurate local newspaper article about what we're doing here.


For the most part, I'm really just quite sick of being here. It's damn cold, below or WAY below freezing all the time. It's also quite monochromatic. If it's not covered with snow and white, it's probably gray. I'm pretty sick of living to work too. Don't get me wrong. I actually like my job and it's pretty dang cool but I'm not obsessed by it! I need more in my life than work. I really miss Kris and I really miss Jasper.

Oh well. Only a few more days. And I'm sure ten years from now I'm going to look back at this trip to Alaska and think, "why didn't I get out and explore more." And, of course, I'll forget that the answer is, "Cuz you were working your ass off and didn't get a chance."

Weirdest event of the trip so far: The first boss I ever had at NASA is here. I'm finding it strange to be older, wiser, more confident and less intimidated around someone who, quite frankly, used to scare the living shit out of me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sports Fans (12 f 104)

Last night I met up with a couple of coworkers in the Hotel Lobby to watch UCLA beat Stanford in the PAC 10 tournament final. It was fun since one guy is a Stanford alum and the other is a UCLA alum and both are rabid NCAA basketball fans.

As I watched the game I suddenly had the realization that the only reason I knew what was going on was because my Dad watched so much sports when I was a kid and would sometimes get conversational about it and explain to me what was going on. Then I realized that A)we watch absolutely no sports in my house since we have no TV coming in and B)my son isn't going to be introduced to sports the way I was and so many other kids are.

That means I have to make up the gap.

We already throw a nerf football and he loves to kick the little soccer ball around so I'm not too worried about it. And maybe I shouldn't be such a prototypical American male and worry about sports at all. But sports have been a casual fun part of my life. Anyone who's ever played some basketball with me knows it's 90% passion for me and 10% talent (which leads to mostly really poor playing with too much emotion and having a lifetime 1-on-1 win average somewhere around .010) but it's still fun. And don't lets forget what a HUGE part of my life bike-racing was for so many years.

I thought I had a wonderful tie-in to wrap this all up but it's not there! Sometimes we write well, and sometimes we don't...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Travelling by Commercial Air Sucks (11 of 109)

I'm back in Wallops Island Virginia already and traveling by commercial air carriers yesterday reminded me of all the things I don't like about it...

1- Waiting.
2- Standing in line waiting.
3- Standing in line waiting with people behind you who don't understand that pushing you won't make the entire line go faster.
4- Sitting in a small area with way too many other people sharing the same air.
5- People who carry a carry on briefcase or laptop bag plus a backpack and then for some reason think it's okay to carry one of those suitcases that barely fit in the overhead.
6- Waiting behind the people from number 5 to get the hell out of the way.
7- People who "dress up" to travel and end up looking quite silly since they don't seem to realize that the people in the real world don't look like the pretend people on TV and in magazines.
8- Generally all the other people who are also traveling with exception to old people and children who get a break since they are too old or too young to know better.
9- Waiting in line and looking over to see the "premier" or first class or "rewards" assholes breezing through while I stand feeling like a peasant with his pitchfork at the castle gate. "Please milord! Won't you please cast down your scrap so that I might have a decent meal this week?"
10- The fact that at least 50% of the time your destination is taking you farther from home.

Bonus- Any small luggage with wheels. Stop being such pussies everyone. The exercise of carrying 20 pounds on your shoulder will do you good.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Floatin' (10 of 104)

We rented a two seat kayak with a "child seat" in it today as a test drive. I want to buy a canoe but Kris wants to buy a kayak so we're going to rent both and test them. The two seat kayak did not do well to make its case today. It was simply too cramped. Our first configuration had Jasper in the middle getting clubbed by me from behind on the occasions when I wasn't full-on drenching him with my paddle. And I felt only slightly more affective than a T-Rex with his little arms all curled up since Jasper was crowding me so much. Configuration Two was with Kris' seat moved back and Jasper sitting in the front. This was wonderful for me to stretch out and paddle but with so much weight in the front we were all messed up and the trim was bad and it was a little bit miserable with the kayak at the whim of the wind and lake current more than my fruitless churning.

So we'll rent a canoe next and see how it goes. If the kayak thing is the way to go we'll have to buy two of them: one for one adult and Jasper and the second for the other adult and gear and a dog (or two).

Speaking of dogs we've been pretty sad around here that our little dog, Simon, has disappeared. He simply vanished about five days after we got back from Hawaii. He was really Kris' dog and I mostly just yelled at him to "SHUT THE HELL UP" since he was a little bit of a barky terrier. Despite that, he is missed since he was another member of the family.So adios Simon. Sorry I yelled at you so much.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig (9 of 104)

Well we kicked so much butt we were able to come home a day early! With pretty much every other instrument still scrambling to finish or needing some nitpicky little thing to finish that felt really damn good. It's always nice to not be the guy holding everyone else up.

There were two young engineers working on another instrument from Goddard and it put a smile on my face to see a couple of early to mid-20's KIDS trying to figure things out and being really polite and obviously trying to solder, bend, crimp their way through getting their stuff installed. It really took me back to my early days at Goddard trying to do the same stuff all while being intimidated by the aircraft ground crew, the other very senior folks around and being generally insecure about your own abilities.

I've never been what you would call a confident person and lord knows I could use some help on my self esteem (despite how I may write and maybe brag about myself, I'm really my own worst critic and rarely allow myself moments of triumph). But I have come a long way. The pressure of an aircraft integration like this probably would have killed me a mere six or seven years ago. And don't get me wrong the work hours and stress definitely added a few more gray hairs to my beard over the last five or six months but the confidence of experience and some wisdom of my place in life really made the get-it-done part of things alot easier.

I guess there are some benefits to getting old.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What I Do (8 of 104)

Here I am away from home again. Right now I'm in Wallops Island Virginia. I'm here to install our instrument on a P-3 Orion. We had a marathon day and got alot done. In fact, we got so much done, I'll probably be able to get back home a day early. Good thing since I have to turn around and fly right back out here next Tuesday...

Kris began her new career today. Consequently, Jasper began his full-day school as well. It pretty much kills me to be away right now given those events since I'm sure Kris more than has her hands full.

I really like the aircraft and fieldwork parts of my job but it's a bittersweet thing since it means being away from home and missiong out on things and putting extra work on Kris.

Pretty tired tonight. It's only about 7:30 back home but I'm beat. Time to get some shuteye and be ready to get back in the hangar and finish things up tomorrow.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fashun (7 of 104)

Man I wish I was a woman and stupidly wealthy. I would so rock the latest fashions...

Maybe in my next life...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We're not gonna make it (6 of 104)

Either I need to write more or admit that I may not make my "two blogs per week" for 2008. But what the hey. I haven't really had anything to say.

So I'll rant. Today we are absolutely bombarded in our lives with silly little complications that -more than likely- lead to our being nickle and dimed to DEATH. Being a little stupid and sloppy, I recently failed to make a payment on a credit card (I've been busy!). So I went to the bank showed them my credit card and made a payment directly. A few days passed and they called me to say I hadn't made a payment. I told them I did and they said maybe it didn't post yet. So they called again today and I finally figured out that THEY ISSUED ME A NEW ACCOUNT IN 2003 AND I DIDN'T EVEN FUCKING REALIZE IT!!! So now I have one account with a big credit it on it and I'm still behind on the second one. So I called them and explained the problem and do you think they could just easily take the credit off of one card and transfer it to the other. Of course not! That would be way too flippin' easy wouldn't it?

The point is that there are so many damned pin numbers and accounts and things to keep track of that I simply am on saturation overload. I have to carry two credit cards for my job. And just try to not have a credit card these days. You will quickly find out that oredering anything is difficult nevermind the simple daily tasks of purchasing gas and groceries. What the hell?

There really are only three alternatives for me.
1-Timetravel back to about 1929
2-Go live on a commune and grow my own food and never own a car ever again
3-Get my shit together and somehow manufacture more hours in the week to make sure I'm on top of all this stuff.

Looks like I'm screwed.

My dream is that Jasper will grow up in a world that has figured out that the common man is simply overwhelmed with account numbers, credit applications and good old fashioned information. This utopian environment will also see real live people who speak good english answer phones when you have problems. As a result people will have less stress, be happier and not try to kill each other on their evening commutes anymore.

Sadly, there is simply too much money to be made by smokescreens, bad customer service and good old fashioned sensory overload to the point of apathy towards your own financial well being.

Insert gigantic scream here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What we came for and a hike (5 of 104)

We finally got a good day for taking data! Finally. After three miserable days up here on the mountain and two days where we didn't even bother coming up, we have clear sky and are getting our calibration done.

When we decided not to come up yesterday morning I first went back to bed and slept for almost two more hours. Then I woke up with Kris and Jasper and we headed over to Volcanoes National Park for the day. Unfortunately it was a bust. First of all, vast major huge portions of the park were closed due to high sulfur emissions (I guess they don't have interest in sufocating tourists...) and second of all it was rainy and very foggy and visibility was so crappy we couldn't even see the caldera floor! What a waste! On the bright side we did get out and about and get to see alot of Hawaii where the real people live and got away from the whole resort thing (which neither Kris nor I are really into that much).

After we got the instrument set up this morning and verified it was running well, I set out for a little hike up the volcano. Okay, there is no such thing as a little hike starting at 11,150 feet. It wasn't an epic slough to the top either. Instead it was roughly three and a half miles up the volcano and back. That's about halfway to the top. I really just wanted to do it as a primer for a full on assault of the summit if I feel up to it in the next three days or so. There is still plenty of snow up there (see picture above) but it was easy to get around and didn't slow me much. The hiking is unlike anything else except maybe hiking across bare granite. The "trail" is simply a line cairns (locally known as "ahu") that you have to follow. The up and down over the lava varies from scrambling to easy walking but it's all abrasive. I took quite a few miles off the life of my boots this morning. I really wanted to keep going but I promised John I was going to be back by a certain time so I eventually had to force myself to turn around and head back down. There will very hopefully be a follow up story to this one where I get to the top! (BTW I carried my cell phone, GPS, pen and paper for taking notes, lots of food and water and a very good sense of my own limitations so there should be no worry about me finding my final day atop of a beautiful volcanic mountain. Hmmm, not that that would be a bad way to go!)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

MLO (that's Mauna Loa) (4 of 104)

Well we're here on the mountain today. The major weather that's in our way is moving off to the East but more crap is coming in. Because of this we need to try to take data whenever we can. We really need to take data during the sunrise for this calibration data we're trying to get here. Unfortunately we had monstrous clouds blocking the sunrise but things cleared up after awhile and we are getting some data with the sun just barely riding above some clouds.

I was really feeling crappy coming up the mountain this morning and afraid I would be worthless at best and throwing up at worst. Luckily I'm feeling better now though not so hot. The altitude is bad enough but the drive up makes me feel kind of sick too even though I'm driving.

Kris and Jasper are off to take a submarine ride today! How cool is that?

We had some technical difficulties his morning but I got past that and we're in business for a little while longer here. I'm not looking forward to the drive back down but I am looking forward to being back down at sea level and a nice afternoon nap.

Aloha! And mahalo for your comments (HINT HINT). Ask questions. That gives me something to write about.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Aloha. Mahalo. How do you say rain? (3 of 104)

Well here we are in Hawaii. The big island to be more accurate. Yesterday was a solid "4" travel day where 10 is pure hell and zero is teleportation. I'll take it! Jasper was a really good kid and did an amazing job keeping it together through airports, TWO mechanical delays on the tarmac, delays getting luggage, and a long line for the rental car. Whatta kid! That's not to say the day wasn't without drama but it was survivable. We all finally collapsed as a little family unit.

Here is a nice condo in Waikaloa. It's about twice as big as our little house at home and pretty nice. There's a pool pretty close by and the beach is within walking distance too. I went up the mountain today with my coworker, John, so I missed out on the beach experience. I did get to go alternate between freezing and boiling with Jasper at the swimming pool/hot tub.

I unpacked the instrument and fired it up and everything is working fine so that was a HUGE load off my mind today. The problem now is the weather. We NEED absolutely clear sky to make our calibration measurements and the forecast is looking really bad. Of the ten days we are here we need three minimum good days. In all the years these guys have been doing this they've NEVER had to extend a trip. John is a meteoroligist and he thinks we may be the first on this trip. I suppose the good part of that is that I'll have more time to spend with Kris and Jasper. Of course there is a pile of work that I was planning on doing from the mountain top while we let the instrument do its thing so I'll either have to figure out a time to do that during the day or I'll have to leave it for later...

That's it. No adventures yet. Jasper is such a gregarious little guy. He goes up to just about anyone he sees and tells them just about anything that pops in his mind. The only problem is that I'm not nearly so sociable so I end up on the awkward side of things.