Consumer Reports was in the news this past week for their annual top picks for automobiles. I briefly heard a nice mention of Subaru Forester and that piqued my interest. I went online and paid for a one month subscription to their website so I could access their findings. The Forester scored an 88 which seemed really good when compared to the competition. Hmmm...I'd put thoughts of looking at a new vehicle on the back-burner but this had me reconsidering.
The plan was to get another couple of years out of my 2001 Nissan Frontier pickup truck. Its mileage wasn't ridiculously high at 132k but its transmission began making some disturbing noises a couple weeks ago when going between 4WD and 2WD, so much so that it seemed a big repair bill was in our future if we decided to hang on to it. Between the worries of possibly needing to put more money into my truck than it was maybe worth and the Consumer Reports reviews, I decided to take a trip back to the Subaru dealer just off 35W in Burnsville Wednesday around noon.
The one thing that was apparent is that they can't keep this model in stock. 4 of 5 Foresters on the lot were sold including one that I took a liking to. There was a light sage-green model that sort of interested me but I really wanted something other than green this time around. I checked with the salesman to see what they were expecting in the next few weeks and he mentioned a bronze one just like the one in the showroom which would arrive the next day. I put some money down to hold it and was on my way. I got a call from Josh not more than 10 minutes later asking if there was any way I'd consider changing my mind and opting for the sage-green model instead. I assured him there wasn't. I would come to find out that I beat one other guy in the showroom that day by not more than 90 seconds in getting my money down on the car.
I spent some time yesterday morning giving my old friend one last bath and removing all of my things from inside while feeling a little melancholy about trading it in. I drove to the dealer and thanked my friend along the way for 13 years of faithful service. It's been a great truck for me.
I was a little worried about what my Nissan would bring me but they actually offered me $1000 more than I figured they would. I probably should've haggled over the price just because but I didn't. I know it's going to need work but fortunately for me it ran fine on the way over there and during the test-drive. The only fault they could find with it was the rusting rear bumper.
Two hours later with all of the paperwork filled out and a heavy snow coming down I was on my way trying not to be too distracted by all of the gee-whiz stuff that makes up the dash panel. I've always been secretly envious of people with thermometers in their vehicles and now I've got one. And a compass!
We took our new Forester on its maiden voyage yesterday afternoon up to St. Joseph, about 90 minutes northwest via a slight detour into Minneapolis to pick up Rachel at her office. Ron's family was having a memorial get-together at the funeral home for him. It was less formal than a wake it seemed but maybe that's still the appropriate term for it. It was a casual gathering of people who knew and loved Ron. It was nice.
I talked with his daughter Sherri and she told me that the defibrillator on his pacemaker had been going off at an increased frequency and it was causing concern. He died on the operating table while the doctors were performing angioplasty surgery to see if there was anything they could do to improve his heart's function.
It was nice to spend time visiting with Ron's family; it's been so long since I've seen them. I commented that it would've been fun if as a tribute to Ron a bunch of us showed up in flannel shirts, the kind he used to like to wear.
I made a detour to a Holiday gas station this morning that I'd never been to on my way over to the Subaru dealer to drop off the title for the truck. I came around an isle toward the back of the store in search of where they kept their pens when a guy stopped me and asked if I was Kevin Gilmore. He wasn't familiar to me and I no sooner confirmed it was me when he said he reads my blog and recognized me from photos I'd posted. He went on to tell me that he too was once a controller but he got caught up in the PATCO strike of 1981 and that he sells cars for a living now. Brian said he stumbled onto my blog while doing a search of some sort online and has been following along since. He mentioned that he too is a "Hosanna refugee" no longer feeling at home within the church after being a member for 21 years, singing in the choir for 7 and leading a small-group. The somewhat parallel paths of our lives were interesting to us both as was our chance meeting. It was an unexpected surprise to have him approach me like that.
Shameless plug to follow...
My encounter with Brian reminded me of the time a woman came up to me in a store and asked if it was me she saw on an episode of Judge Judy the previous day. I was so surprised that anybody would make a connection like that but I suppose I shouldn't have been considering how many people watch the show. I was much less surprised when the phone rang right after our appearance aired and some anonymous person on the other end congratulated us on our win.
Oops...I just gave it away...
Our Appearance on Judge Judy from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Don't lean in too close on this post. I'm coming down with a head-cold and body aches and feeling more and more miserable by the hour. I don't want you to catch it.
We had such a good day at Foci Wednesday afternoon. We came in behind Jan who was just finishing up at the bench we'd reserved. She said she'd like to hangout and see how we're doing. We had no idea that she was about to spend the next 3 hours working with us on our technique. She was so helpful! Jan has a background in pottery but left it behind a couple years ago when she changed her focus to glassblowing. She has advanced so quickly under the tutelage of some of the areas more notable glass artists. We're so grateful for her desire to 'send the elevator back down' and help us raise our abilities. We left Foci feeling so excited about how the afternoon went that we returned the next morning to reinforce what Jan had worked with us on.
Rachel called while we were in the studio to say that she'd read a post from Brent on Facebook saying that his father had died. Ron has had heart troubles for years and I've felt for quite a while that he was living on borrowed time. He epitomized the word "gentleman". I remember when I first met him in the mid '70s, he wore a Pulsar digital watch. I'd never seen anything like it and thought it was so cool. I regret that over the last several years I haven't seen Ron at all and have had no contact with him outside of Facebook since he and my sister divorced less than two years ago.
I'd felt for the longest time that he viewed me with a bit of skepticism for the conservative views I used to espouse. He was right to and because of that I've felt for a while that I had some unfinished business with him. I believe he occasionally read my blog and came to understand my evolution so I rest in that, not that it matters anymore.
Ron was a good man and will be missed and remembered in a very kind way.
While we were in the studio on Thursday, Curt Goodrich stopped by to say hello. Curt is one of the country's premier bicycle frame builders and he has his shop just down the hall from where we blow glass. I met him early on in our time at Foci and it's been a desire of mine to someday have him fit me for a frame. I don't think a guy can ever have too many bikes and I have room for exactly one more in my stable. What Curt does is every bit as much a work of art as anything produced in the studio at Foci.
I took mom to her eye doctor appointment this morning. The roads were terrible from last night's storm but I didn't want her to have to reschedule. The news wasn't good. She's had 5 procedures on her right eye to reattach her retina but they've all been unsuccessful. I think she knew the prognosis wasn't going to be good as I didn't sense any great sadness when she told me that the only improvement she was likely to see would have to come from a miracle. Still, it's got to be a blow to hear those words from her doctor. She's rescheduled a follow-up for 12 weeks from now. I'm not sure why but if it gives her the slightest bit of hope a follow-up is worth it.
It's been a wintry week here in Minnesota. We had a snowstorm early in the week that was followed by some above average temperatures which had us all breathing a sigh of relief only to be chased away by our biggest snowstorm of the season. The 3rd polar vortex (read ridiculously cold air) of the season is poised to sweep across the region in the next few days which will push many to the limit. A couple months ago Tammy was talking about a quick trip to Las Vegas in February or March to break up our winter but I'm not sure those plans ever made it beyond the back-burner. Hmmm...
A Wintry Week from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 11:05 PM
Sunday, February 16, 2014
We're having more fun than ever with our weekly glassblowing sessions at Foci. Now that we're getting there more regularly I can see where we're both beginning to show some steady improvement. We know we've got so much more to learn but we're occasionally getting some nicer pieces to show for our efforts and that's rewarding.
I'm still playing around with my tealight candle holders in various colors, trying to make them of similar shape and size. They're fun. I have an idea for a more cylindrically shaped style with thick sides and bottom but I'm not sure I have the skills to pull off the look I have in my mind's eye. I'll play around with the design my next turn at the bench this coming week.
We took a class at Foci last Wednesday night instructing us in the art of making punties. Punties are what we use to transfer a glass piece from the blowpipe to another metal rod for working the piece from the other end. They serve more functions than that but that's a brief explanation. We learned so much in the 90 minute class. One would think we'd know all we need to know about making and using punties by now but that's simply not so. There were people considerably more advanced than us in attendance. Michael did a nice job of explaining some of the finer points while explaining the science behind the punty. It was a very informative 90 minutes.
When I had our home built in 1992 I never thought twice about the country style railing and balusters that separate our dining area from the family room. They seemed to work just fine. But lately both Tammy's and my tastes are migrating toward a more transitional to contemporary look and it's time to bid adieu to this little bit of country that is becoming more and more out of place in our home. Keith and Karen are going to meet me here on Monday afternoon to go over our plans for choice of a more contemporary handrail, posts and balusters. We're looking forward to having this project done as well as finally tackling the job of painting out most of the main level. As you can see in the photo to the right we never quite got around to transitioning the color from the sun-porch into the rest of the main level when we wrapped up the project last summer.
We went to see Jason Isbell at the Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul on Friday. The concert wasn't quite what we expected. The show was billed as Wits: Marc Maron with Jason Isbell-Amanda Shires. What we didn't realize is that Fitzgerald Theater is home to Minnesota Public Radio and the show we would be attending was actually part of a Wits podcast. Rather than have an opening act before bringing out Jason and Amanda for what we figured would be a full concert set, there was a running skit throughout the show that included Jason and Amanda while they would only occasionally break from the humor to sing a song or two. It was funny and we enjoyed ourselves but at times we felt a little like outsiders in a seemingly esoteric crowd that appeared more interested in the podcast than the musical talent.
We were only treated to two of Jason's songs but they were so good. Traveling Alone and Cover Me Up. But we gained a new-found appreciation for his wife Amanda's music so that was nice. We were just left a little wanting when the Show was over. Still, it was a good night out.
Jason Isbell, Cover Me Up from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 10:10 AM
Monday, February 10, 2014
I got a little too ambitious on the elliptical machine Tuesday night while going for a PR (personal record) and seriously aggravated my right knee, so much so that I had to abort a ride on my indoor trainer a couple days later. Saturday was the first day that I could push it on my CompuTrainer but still I had to hold back some because I didn't want to risk developing any sort of recurring injury. Moderation has never been something I've been very good at. The metal men still got the best of me on my ride Saturday but I'll be back!
Tammy took her paints out last week and got busy making cards for my mom for a Valentine's Day gift. They're smallish 3" x 5" cards that she can use to send "thank you" notes to friends. She made at least 15 of them, each unique. I think she did a great job. I cropped a few and stitched them together to show an example of her work on my blog. It's clickable for a more detailed look...
I had a dream a few nights ago that Tammy and I were talking about our faith and I was expressing concern that I was feeling so adrift in mine. I don't cry often but in my dream I was sobbing as I tried to explain to her that I don't see how I can get back to where I was. I remember feeling profoundly sad.
But in reality, it's really not my faith so much that's adrift although there is a part of it that seems forever changed, it's my faith in the church that has taken the biggest hit. It's the realization for me that I'd bought into something that I thought was so much more than it really was; something I would later come to find was fundamentally flawed and woefully discriminatory at its core. How did I not see that for so long?
Of one thing I'm certain; I don't anticipate warming up to the idea of organized religion for a very long time if ever again.
Sunday morning, with my dream still fresh in my mind, I received an email from a friend I hadn't heard from in a while. He'd sent me a link to a video and was wondering if I'd watch it and give him my thoughts on it. Tom was part of our small-group from church that we dissolved this past fall. The video proved to be very timely for me considering what I've been going through with respect to my faith. I needed this shot in the arm.
It's about a guy who uses Biblical scriptures that point to specific events and then with the use of a computer program he's able to dial back the movement of the stars to the dates referenced in the scripture to see what the night sky reveals. The program doesn't just approximate the position of the planets. It's actually very accurate and can precisely pinpoint their relative positions all those hundreds of years ago.
What he finds is nothing short of amazing and at times very moving. Considering the title of the video I was expecting his research to focus on the Star of Bethlehem and not much more but he goes considerably deeper tying in prophecy from Joel and Revelations which I found to be awe-inspiring when you watch how he unfolds it in front of you.
To quote the man behind the video upon discovering what he reveals in his findings: "I remember the night when I found the eclipse at Christ's crucifixion. I remember it because of what was happening to me when I found that the moon was back at the foot of the virgin and when I further found that the moon went into eclipse at the moment my savior expired on the cross and I remember exactly what I said, I don't think I could ever forget it. I looked up at the sky and I said my God what did you do because this is poetry of terrible beauty that showed me a side of God that I had not seen. It showed me a God that would write poetry to record both the coming and the passing of my Messiah and then he let me find it."
Profound for sure...
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 6:50 PM
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose a few days ago. I must be one of the few people on the planet who had absolutely zero name or face recognition of this actor. Movies obviously aren't my thing.
Toby is doing much better and appears to be back to his normal self, chillin' on the ottoman in the sun-porch or curled up by my feet when he's not nestled in my lap. It's nice to have my friend back to his normal self again. Charlie and Toby don't play together but neither do they fight as they once did. Toby has accepted the little mischief-maker who can often be found pulling up a spot next to his big brother. Allie and Charlie will play together but that's usually a result of me giving Allie the high-sign to go after Charlie and "give him a beating he won't soon forget!" She loves that and so does he. He can't get enough of being chased through the house. That little guy brings a lot of fun to our home.
Tammy spent much of the last few weeks working on a shawl or maybe it's a 'throw' for one of our couches. She's not sure how she'll use it but it's really nice. I'm glad she's finally finished it though because now she's dabbling with watercolor again and that's something I've wanted to see for a while. She's got lots of natural talent for painting and drawing.
I've finally got our surround-sound synced up with Netflix. It had me stumped for a while until I took the time to figure out the proper connections. I noticed that while I could stream video reasonably well on my laptop at home, streaming on our TV in the sun-porch was another matter. It was continually hesitating and buffering the feed. A speed test of our connection showed that we were downloading at between less than .5mps to upwards of 25mps. A new wireless router fixed all that and has us humming along with more than enough speed. Plus, it's nice to be actually watching a crisp HD picture rather than the lower resolution one we figured was normal.
Rachel and Tony came by Sunday afternoon to spend a few hours with Tammy while I was at work. Tony had a hockey tournament in Hutchinson about 70 miles west of us and they stopped by on their way back to Rochester. They all enjoyed dinner at Mediterranean Cruise Cafe and came back with probably as much food as they ate while they were there. I got home from work in time to spend an hour chatting with them while the TV sat tuned to the Super Bowl blowout between the Seahawks and Broncos that had much earlier become a bore.
It dawned on me about 20 minutes after they left that I didn't get a photo of them for my blog. Rachel was kind enough to help me out once they got home.
I'm in no way done riding my fat-bike this winter but I'm beginning to shift my focus to my CompuTrainer and the punishing indoor workouts it provides me. I love that thing! I sometimes dread the thought of riding it because I know it's going to work me harder than anything else I do but once I get into a ride I'm fully committed and indulging my otherwise quiet masochistic tendencies. The Real Course Videos are nice for the scenery and the change in resistance that goes along with the terrain in the video but what I like best are the computer generated graphic workouts where I can set other riders out on the course at varying speeds/efforts and compete against them.
We're working our way through what is so far the coldest winter in 32 years in the Minneapolis metro area. We've seen very little letup in harshness since this cold descended on us a couple months ago. Any temperature above single-digit has become a welcome relief. While we haven't had a ridiculous amount of snow, it's been enough that the snowbanks are becoming sizable at the bottom of our driveway. Spring can't rescue us from this winter too soon at this point.
Pondering the extreme weather we've had gives me a renewed appreciation for those who came before us and how tough they had to have been. Rather than complain about the weather, I'd rather focus on how good we actually have it with heat for our homes generated at the touch of a fingertip while outside it's a whole other world!
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 9:04 AM
Sunday, January 26, 2014
I made a deposit into Rachel's bank account Friday afternoon to cover her spring semester and the final installment of 4 years of college tuition. We're feeling very grateful to have been able to help her as we have. So many of her friends haven't been so fortunate and will graduate with a sizeable amount of debt to overcome. Up until now she's been our priority but I think she's in a position where we can begin to pull back and shift our focus toward shoring up our savings accounts before we exit the working world. Plus, I get a sense that she's ready to take over.I was telling her a few weeks ago that once we get our arms around our finances in our retirement we'll see what we can do to continue to help her. She said she'd rather we didn't, that she wants to take it from here. I get that.
She's off to a good start. Her plans are to take the next year off from school after graduation and continue working to add to her total of hours in the medical field to enhance her application to whatever PA school she decides on. She'll try and bank as much as she can toward a car because I know that's high on her list of wants and needs. Public transportation is okay but there are times when its drawbacks get in the way; such as getting on the southbound bus out of Rochester for Minneapolis. There's no such thing. She needed the northbound bus. It cost her an hour and a little embarrassment but I doubt she'll make that mistake again.
I think this final semester before graduation will be one of her easier ones although I could be wrong but I hope I'm not because in addition to working at the retirement home where she's a Certified Nursing Assistant she's also working 3 days a week in Minneapolis as a coordinator for STLF. She's a busy young woman!
I'm looking forward to the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi but the threats of terrorism are more than a little concerning. Ski jumping/flying, downhill skiing, ski and snowboard aerials and mogul skiing are some of my favorites.
We finally found some end-tables and a sofa table for our sun-porch. We still have one smaller end-table to find for the chair and ottoman but for the most part the room is complete. We're spending so much time out there. At this time last year we had the addition on our radar but we didn't really intend to do it until this spring. I'm glad we moved it up on our to-do list. It's a big sigh for us knowing it's done and that we're so pleased with how it turned out. It's said that good things in life take a long time. I'd say that applies here.
If you know of anyone in the Minneapolis metro area who's looking to have some work done around their home please consider suggesting they give Joe a shot at bidding the project. I can't say enough good things about him and the sub-contractors he works with. For those who may have missed it, here's a link to the blog I kept for our project. Joe's number is 612-597-3606.
We had a good day at Foci on Wednesday. Tammy continues to have fun working on her bud-vases. She's perfecting them and has many to give away, complete with flowers! I've been enjoying working on tealight candle-holders but last week I changed it up and did a few vases instead. It's nice to do different forms. We've got so much to learn and we're slowly getting better but what we really need is more time in the studio without any extended breaks of 2 to 3 weeks or more. We've experienced too many of those. But hey, it's all about keeping it fun and we're managing to do that.
Tammy took Toby in to be seen last Tuesday as a precaution after seeing him experience some sort of seizure the previous Friday. The doctor said his heart and lungs appear fine and that his overall health is good. She did some blood-work as well and nearly all of the values came back in the normal range with the exception of a couple that were marginal but of no real concern. She said to keep an eye on him and watch for any more signs of trouble.
He's been fine all week, very much his normal self but I think he may have had another seizure or some sort of tremor this morning after coming in from outside. Both episodes have occurred after being out in the cold air. I noticed him standing in an awkward position looking at me. It wasn't a normal look and he appeared stressed. I went over to him and picked him up and he was trembling just as he was the last time this happened. I sat with him for nearly an hour and comforted him.
Tammy did some research online and came up with "Old Dog" Vestibular Disease. He has some of the symptoms but not all. She plans to call our veterinarian tomorrow and talk about a follow-up test that she thought we may want to consider. I don't like my little guy not being able to be himself.
I've had this song running through my head for most of yesterday and today...
Sammy Llanas, Sad Eyes from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 3:41 PM
Sunday, January 19, 2014
My special little guy Toby had a seizure Friday afternoon. He was slow to get up when I went to let him out and I thought that maybe he had pulled a muscle in his leg or had a cramp. He made his way outside but was struggling. After coming back inside a few minutes later it was obvious that something wasn't right. I called Tammy over and she said he was having a seizure. He was trembling and his eyes were fixed straight ahead. I held him and whispered softly to him telling him how much he's loved. This has never happened to him that we're aware of. He wasn't himself the rest of the day and night but he was content to sit in my lap or by my side. It's ridiculous how much I love that little guy!
He looked to be his normal self Saturday morning, jumping up on me and giving me kisses, excited to eat. The only lasting effects from the day before being a little hesitancy coming down the stairs. He did fine but was just a little slower than usual.
I spoke with the vet's office and they told me it wasn't urgent for him to be seen but to make note of the day of the seizure on a calendar and any other episodes. One thing Tammy noticed was that his collar was very tight and may have been part of the problem. He's put on weight over the winter but I didn't think it was enough to cause a problem with his collar. I wish I'd have paid more attention to that. We made an appointment for him to be seen on Tuesday but considering how well he's doing today we may cancel instead.
We went out with Job Friday night. He and Tammy worked together for several years at Masonic Home in Bloomington and he was always one of her favorite people to work with.
Job is from Kenya and has lived in the US since the late '90s. We always enjoy discussing a little about politics both in the US and his homeland. But most interesting this visit was learning of a new business he's getting off the ground: Edith's Mobility. A transportation service named after a dear resident of his who died several years ago. He transports residents to and from doctor appointments as well as persons needing rides from hospitals to temporary care units and such. He's busier than I think he ever imagined he would be so early on. It was nice to see him again and catch up.
There will be no ice dams for us this winter. I was watching the news last night and they were talking about how they're the worst they've been in years in this area due to our freezing and thawing cycles coupled with the amount of snow we've had. I was a little surprised to hear that. Anyway, all I know is I've been diligent about keeping the snow raked off the one problem area we have. This time last year and this year. My efforts appear to be working.
I ordered a chest mount for my GoPro camera thinking it would be a more stable platform than my handlebars, meaning it would be less susceptible to road vibration and the turning of the bars. I was wrong. I had a chance to use it a couple of times this past week and I can't say I'm all that happy with the results. It's very difficult to get the camera angle just right and the angle easily changes as you adjust your position. Not good. It also gives way too much arms and hands in the view. That may work for a video or two but not anything more than that. I'll be returning it.
A friend turned me on to a new camera put out by Garmin that's piqued my interest. It's called Virb. It's a little bigger than my GoPro but that also means it can handle a larger battery for extended use. What I most like about it is its ability to take my heart-rate, speed, cadence and elevation data from my Garmin Edge and superimpose it onto the video. It also has the ability to include power-meter watts data by importing the ride file data. I'll likely wait a year or two before jumping onto one of these. Here's the most detailed review to be found on it.
I'm officially the oldest controller working at Minneapolis Center. I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of or not. But, I do think I've likely bid my last schedule, a schedule which will take us to April of 2015. I can reasonably say that the end of the line for me as a controller will come sometime during this schedule period.
A Different PoV from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.
Posted by Kevin Gilmore at 6:36 PM