Monday, August 29, 2016

Birthdays and Being Seen

Some of the music in my iTunes library was missing artwork so the virgo in me got busy and found the missing images. I feel better now.

Rachel and I celebrated birthdays last week -- her 25th and my 59th! Tammy and I met Rachel and her friends at a bar in Rochester before going out with them to Jenpachi Japanese Steak House. We all sat in a semicircle around a grill and were dazzled by our chef as he tossed bowls full of rice behind his back and up over his head with flames shooting 3 feet in the air above the grill while adding knives and other tools of the trade to the items he was juggling. It was impressive!

A bottle of saki worked its way around our table and added to the fun. Best of all, Rachel really enjoyed herself. She has some good friends!

We made it to the State Fair on Friday and walked more than 11 miles around the fairgrounds. Still, that's nowhere near our record of 14 miles from a couple years ago. It was nice to make it back after not being able to go last year. And I escaped without having to buy a massage chair cushion for $300 that Tammy fell in love with when we stopped for a break. The vendor was reeling in the tired fish as fast as he could but we managed to get away. Whew!

I've had a couple close calls on my bike in the past few weeks where people have failed to see me which sent me reaching for a handful of brake to avoid them. It's all about being visible to people who are more focused on looking for cars rather than a cyclist. I've been using a Dinotte tail light for the past two years and like it a lot. It's so unlike any other blinking rear light I've seen because of how intense its light is. It's visible from 3 miles away and I know this because my brother Bryan and I tested it last fall on a long stretch of highway near Elko.

But my Dinotte rear light does nothing for those who are seeing the front of me. I've fixed that with a Specialized Stix array. It too is visible from a long way off. I'm feeling better about being seen. In a perfect world I wouldn't need all of this extra clutter on my bike but I'm happy to play along if this is what it takes to stay safe.

I spent part of my birthday on a much needed longish ride. I commented on my Facebook wall that 59 may be the age reflected on my driver's license but try telling that to the kid in me. I hope to never grow up and act my age. Come on along...

Birthday Ride! from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It Was One Year Ago Tonight...

Tammy got us tickets to see Jonny James and the Hall of Fames, a Led Zeppelin tribute band playing at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre last Friday night. We had a really nice time. Led Zeppelin has been one of Tammy's favorite rock bands since her high school days so I was happy to make a date-night of it with her even though I'd have rather seen a Supertramp tribute band. Just kidding -- no, actually, I'm serious if you really wanna know.

One short snippet I took during the show.

I've been getting out for some nice rides on my road bike and pushing myself more than I have in awhile thanks to my Garmin 820 that I mentioned briefly in a previous post. There's so much gee-whiz stuff associated with this piece of technology that I'm still trying to get my head around it all. It's even got crash detection. If the unit is slammed hard so that it abruptly stops its forward movement it will send a text message to Tammy (via bluetooth connection with my LG G4) to tell her I'm in trouble. I don't honestly know how I feel about this. Before the text is sent out I have 30 seconds (or thereabouts) to cancel it in case it's a false alarm. Between that feature and a new tracking feature on Strava she'll be able to rest assured that I'm still on the move and doing okay.

I'm mostly enjoying the Live Segments on my Garmin 820. Live Segments are a Strava feature incorporated with the data I receive out on the road from my Garmin. The segments allow me to compete against my previous best time or the efforts of others on a segment of highway or trail that someone has identified and labeled. It used to be that I wouldn't be able to see how my segment times compared until I got home and uploaded the data to Strava. Now I can instantaneously see on my Garmin 820 how my current effort compares with my previous best, the previous best of friends I'm connected with on Strava and the overall best time of some unknown (to me) rider who gets to brag that they're KOM -- King of the Mountain! It's great motivation.

Golfing has been going well and I'm staying injury free so I'm very pleased about that. I've signed up to play in the retirees tournament in Farmington in two weeks. I'm looking forward to it.

I left home early Saturday morning to meet up with Tyler at the Cuyuna mountain bike trails 2.5 hours north in Crosby near Lake Mille Lacs. The trails are a lot of fun but they're mostly two-way so you have to check your speed some, especially in the corners (watch the video below to see what I'm referring to). We did 32 miles of trails and still didn't hit them all.

I stopped to fill up at a Holiday station south of Lake Mille Lacs on the way home and as I was walking back to my car I had a near-miss with a fellow controller, Brian Jones, who was headed toward a pump to fill up on his way back home from his cabin. It's such a small world sometimes. He was pulling a trailer loaded with plants. We chatted for awhile and I assured him I'd be at the next "team meeting" at the local pub in Farmington near work where the guys meet weekly on Wednesdays at 2:30 but I've since become part of a foursome that's teeing off at 2:32 Wednesday afternoon -- so...

The red clay from the Cuyuna trails leaves a telltale signature that you've been riding there and I'm never in a hurry to wash it off -- sorta like guys in their 4-wheelers who go mudding and aren't in a hurry to clean the mud off their trucks.

It was one year ago tonight and more accurately, one year ago to the hour as I write this that I was likely leaving for work and my final shift as an air traffic controller, not realizing it would be my last. I'd wake up from the all night shift to work in the yard that afternoon and it was there that I first noticed there was a problem with my hearing. My mother was in her last weeks of life and we were still adjusting to having Tammy's mother live with us and all that that entailed. We had so much coming at us from all directions. Those were some difficult times but we managed by taking it one day at a time; maybe that's why I'm now enjoying my retired life to its fullest. Tammy isn't quite there yet but she will be soon.

Time to walk the pups!

Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trails from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Walking Away and Keith McKay

The plan for this morning is to get on my Shaman and head for the trails at Murphy but my legs are saying "not yet, please". Instead, I'll sit on the deck with the sounds of trash hauling trucks working the neighborhood and a woodpecker relentlessly trying to achieve its goal a few backyards away. A lone hummingbird darts into view and catches my eye to momentarily drink from a feeder before speeding away. There's both a low overcast keeping the sun at bay and a light breeze working in my favor. The only thing in need of my attention will be our deck plants that require daily watering but they can wait a little longer.

As I mentioned before, Tammy and I have found a new church home at Family of Christ in Lakeville. She had the women from their book club over last night to discuss their most recent read, Two Old Women. The church appeals to us both but my concern is mostly for Tammy because a church family is so important to her. She had that too at Hosanna but she was becoming continually more and more disappointed in the way too many there were being sucked into right-wing republican politics that bare such little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus. We both feel bad about that. These are good, caring people but the prevailing mob mentality left little room for an opposing view. She had been biting her tongue for a long time but finally had enough and walked away.

Family of Christ is simply a much better fit for us both. Hosanna, where we'd been members since 1999 will soldier on just fine without us and our missguided left-leaning tendencies to be inclusive of everybody -- kinda the way Jesus would want it (I think).

I honestly didn't imagine I'd ever involve myself in organized religion ever again after my fallout from Hosanna nearly 4 years ago. That experience left me so disillusioned with the entire process that I wanted nothing to do with it anymore. I was fine with Tammy continuing on but she would have to go-it-alone -- and she did until just recently. It feels nice to be sitting beside her in church again but I'm still too quick to take a pass and go riding instead. God and I talk a lot together while I'm on my bike.

Keith McKay was back in town. Keith and I worked together 20 years ago when he was a controller at Minneapolis Center before transferring to Albuquerque Center. I'd recently gotten in touch with him last Thanksgiving and we've since connected through Facebook and texts. It's nice having him in my life again. We used to ride together back in the day and once teamed up in a triathlon where the swimming leg was a 2-person canoe leg instead. I remember us portaging his canoe from where he lived in Burnsville along the sidewalk to Crystal Lake not quite a mile away for the few paddling workouts we did in the weeks leading up to the race.

A few of us met with Keith at Hard Rock Cafe in Mall of America Tuesday night to reminisce about the old days and do some catching up. There was one story in particular about a DQ run for ice cream that stood out but I won't go into that here. Funny stuff!

I rode with Keith and some others (mostly Keith's family) Thursday for an easy paced ride along the paved trails into St Paul. We had hoped to ride the river bottoms but a heavy rain just before our ride kept us on more firm footing. Keith will be back in town in October and we hope to do some more riding together then.

And speaking of riding -- my legs have just given me the go-ahead to fuel up and make tracks for Murphy.

God -- are you listening? I've got some things to run by you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I Need a Vacation From My Retirement!

I posted to my Facebook wall last night before going to bed: "I think I need a vacation from my retirement. Is that possible?". I can't seem to get enough of a good thing and find myself as active as I'd ever imagined I could be in retirement. Each night when my head hits the pillow I'm exhausted and pretty much nod off within minutes if not seconds. I recall having thoughts of getting a kayak or a stand-up paddle board not that long ago but as much as I'd like to, I don't see how I could fit those activities into my routine. I'd have to cut back on my golfing, biking or walking and I'd rather not. It's a nice problem to have.

We finally made it down to Rochester to meet up with Rachel to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Thursday's on First and 3rd. The weather could've been nicer (it was drizzling) but we still enjoyed our time together.

Tammy and I celebrated 17 years of marriage a few days ago. We like to tell others that we're pioneers of the internet dating scene. Several years ago I wrote about how our lives came to be one: here's a link to that 4 part series. There was little to no hesitation then nor would there be today if either of us had it to do all over again.

I have one more session with my physical therapist for my golf injury before she turns me loose. This has been by far the most beneficial PT I've ever done. Lana has been so helpful in getting me back on the course again. The injury would've healed all on its own but she's helped me with stretches and a better setup to help prevent a recurrence. There are no guarantees but I feel I'm so much better off from her guidance.

My Garmin Edge 705 has served me well for more than 7 years and it's still working fine but I've taken the leap into the newest generation of cyclo-computer technology and am now the proud owner of a Garmin Edge 820. These little gadgets have come a long way since the days when I first began riding seriously and wanted to track my mileage. Where it all began for me.

I've only had it out on the road for two rides but I couldn't be more impressed with the data it's providing me. I'll talk more about it in a later post after I've had a chance to become more familiar with it. I know y'all can't wait for that!

Last Friday I took part in the annual Sick Leave Open golf tournament at Montgomery National Golf Club. The tournament organizer (one of the guys I used to work with -- Ken Sargent) gives special consideration in the form of a reduced entry fee to any controller taking a sick-day to participate. I'm not sure if anyone qualified for the reduced rate this year because for most of us participating, our sick-leave days are behind us.

I was informed just as soon as I arrived with my clubs loaded onto my pushcart that nobody has ever not ridden a cart in the tournament. They can no longer say that.

I had a blast!

I was teamed up with Pat Parker and Lyle Madsen. We did well. We tied for 1st but through a predetermined 'scorecard playoff' we had to settle for 2nd place. I snagged the prize for longest putt made. I'll definitely be a regular at this event in years to come and yes, I'll be pushing my cart as long as I'm able to.

I better run. I've got another full day ahead of me. A dental appointment followed by a round of golf at Crystal Lake and then I'll be hurrying to meet up with Keith McKay (we worked together years ago but he's now in El Paso, Texas) and a few others at Mall of America for dinner and maybe a beverage or two tonight.

Sick Leave Open from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Stormy Gathering for Tim and a Shiny New Stadium

The oldest in our family, my brother Bryan, flew into town a week ago to attend a Celebration of Life gathering we had for Tim last Saturday. We're always happy to have Bryan stay with us although all we had to offer him (during one of the hottest weeks of the summer with a temp at one point in triple digits) was an overly warm upstairs bedroom. We reached 100º f (38º c) on Friday.

The get-together to honor Tim was somewhat of a washout. The heaviest rains of the year descended on the cities just as we were set to begin. Most of the family made it but only a few of his friends did. It was understandable considering the weather. Still, it was nice to be with family and reconnect.

One of Tim's friends from his AA group made it out and he told us how Tim was instrumental in helping him see how his actions were negatively affecting those around him. He stressed how Tim had helped him and others see their lives from a different perspective. We all listened intently as he spoke. John's presence and his words were the essence of why we had gathered. Video at the end of this post.

Bryan, Tammy and I drove up to Foci later in the afternoon on Saturday to watch a demonstration being put on by Ross Richmond, a glass artist from Seattle, Washington. It was nice to be back at Foci as it had been more than 15 months since we were last there. I'm very much looking forward to working in the studio again and getting up to speed as is Tammy. I think we need some new tumblers for our cupboards so maybe I'll begin with that. Tammy is running low on her supply of bud vases because she keeps giving them away so I know where her focus will be. Come to think of it, I'm running a little low on the candle holders I was enjoying making. We definitely need to schedule some bench time!

Keith and Tracee picked up Bryan and me on Sunday morning. We drove into Minneapolis to meet up with Stephanie and Ryan for brunch and then tour the new US Bank Stadium which just opened its doors for the public to check out.

I'm not at all a football fan but I'm quite sure I would enjoy watching a game in this shiny new stadium. I have to believe it's the premier venue in the country now with all of its state-of-the-art trimmings. We were all impressed but still, it comes down to lots of concrete and plastic seats with cup holders. The most impressive part of the stadium for me was the glass which covers 60% of the roof. It has a texture on its outside layer that works to diffuse the light coming in so it's not so bright. It felt like I was in an outdoor stadium but without all the brightness. The large video screens were quite cool as well.

Bryan made plans to drive up and see our sister Claudia about 30 minutes to the north in St Louis Park. I don't see Claudia very often and wanting to make the most of his time with us I decided to tag along as did Tammy. She took us to Wok in the Park where none of us could finish what was put before us. Over dinner we made plans to take in Dublin, Claudia's little pup while she's away on vacation in a few months. I'm not sure what Toby, Allie and Charlie will think of these plans but we'll know soon enough.

Claudia has a nice condominium just off the Greenway. I had biked past her place several times last winter not knowing she lived there.

I had my fastest ever loop out to the trails at Murphy yesterday morning finishing in 1:37:10 and beating my previous best by over 2 minutes. I'm not sure where that effort came from because humidity typically slows me down and it was humid. I scored a bunch of PRs along the way and had a blast!

There were several air traffic controller retirements this past month: Brian Almleaf, Kurt Schultz and Eric Sjoquist to name a few. There were others but their names escape me now.

I have to take a pass on men's league tonight so Tammy and I can spend the afternoon and evening with Rachel grooving to the sights, sounds and tastes of Thursdays on First in the city of Rochester. It's a yearly thing we like to do but I've got a lawn that needs mowing before we leave so I'd better scoot!

Here's a collection of photos from the week.

Celebration of Life Gathering for Tim from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Unexpected Surprise, Steeped in Fear and a New Church Home

I received a package in the mail last week from Lifetime Fitness and more specifically, the folks that head up the Lutsen 99er/69er mountain bike race that I competed in a few weeks ago. Inside the package was a trophy for my 3rd place overall finish in the fat-bike division. What a nice surprise! I can't recall ever receiving a trophy before and neither was that a thing on my bucket list but I'll take it!

So, the Republican National Convention is in full swing in Cleveland, Ohio and I gotta say, I've never seen a group of people more steeped in fear and lacking in any sort of uplifting vision whatsoever. It's disturbing to watch. If I take to heart what I'm hearing I should think twice about ever venturing away from home again out of concern for never returning because a jihadist or an illegal immigrant will end my life. I thought we're the "home of the brave"? What happened to that?

What has me most bewildered is the seemingly misplaced, over-the-top disdain and outrage conservatives have for President Obama and all that's been accomplished under his administration. Why the hatred for this man? Disagree with me but if you're honest with yourself you have to admit that no president (at least in my lifetime) has ever been sworn into office under more difficult circumstances. Contrast Obama's presidency with that of his predecessor and by any measure he's been markedly more successful in spite of the continued obstruction he's had to face from republicans along the way. What am I missing here? What is it I'm supposed to hate about this man that I'm not seeing? He's to blame for the trillions of dollars we've amassed in debt since he took office you say? No, actually, that number would be all it is an even more had either McCain or Romney been given the nod. The drivers of our debt were already set in place before he took over and I'd wager that our debt (nearing $20 T) is less than it would be had we had a republican warmongering president in office. Don't kid yourself. 

I was out golfing yesterday with a friend who's very conservative politically and an enthusiastic Trump supporter. He told me that the smartest thing Hillary Clinton could do would be to distance herself from Obama and his policies. "Really?" I said -- "I think she should allow for as little daylight as possible between what he's done and what she intends to do" I continued. I told him that "it's only too bad he can't run for a 3rd term because he'd win in a landslide." He offered no reply.

Clinton's email controversy continues to hamper her efforts to gain the momentum she's needing thanks to republican efforts to do anything to deny her the office while they make no mention at all about specifics for how they plan to help the country -- only slogans. I'm looking forward to the debates this fall and hoping they will show a contrast between the two primary choices we're being offered. My brother Bryan is all-in for 3rd party candidate Gary Johnson and while there's never been a better time for a 3rd party run at the presidency, he'd better catch fire soon because he's quickly running out of time.

Tammy and I have found a new church home: Family of Christ here in Lakeville and it's a breath of fresh air. I used to be a member there in the late '80s and early '90s but left when their pastor (at the time) was found to be acting less than pastoral. Tammy decided to give it a try a month ago and was excited for me to join her the next week. And I did.

Family of Christ is a small church in comparison to Hosanna where'd I'd been attending until 4 years ago when I stopped. The first Sunday I was back, Pastor Brent was happily telling the congregation how they were able to cobble together $600 of the $900 they needed to get the air conditioning working after it had walked off the job. There's something about that which appealed to me. Unlike Hosanna, this isn't a church with money to burn and the ability to turn away those who don't measure up. That's a not so veiled reference to Hosanna's policy to not allow anyone of the homosexual or transgender persuasion to serve in whatever capacity they've been called to nor is Family of Christ a church where if they had a choir you'd have to try out to see if you're good enough to sing for the Lord as Hosanna requires.

As I said: it's a breath of fresh air. I told Tammy as we were walking out to our car after that first Sunday a few weeks ago that it felt like I'd come home. I've thrown my name in the hat to help out with lawn mowing and landscaping duties. That's my calling for now.

And speaking of air conditioning -- I'm so thankful for it. We're experiencing some very warm and humid weather here in Minnesota. I was out working in the yard this morning, soaked in sweat. I have men's golf league tomorrow afternoon when the temp is going to be in the mid 90ºs (mid 30ºs C) with very high humidity. I went out tonight and bought a white shirt designed to wick sweat away to help keep me as comfortable as possible. And you can bet I'll be using the umbrella in my cart to shield me from the sun.

Shawn and I were finally able to sync our schedules and ride the trails at Murphy Hanrehan Tuesday morning although it required me setting my alarm for 5:45 to make it happen. I was glad to be able to show him what Murphy has to offer and I'm pretty sure he's gonna be a regular there.

Murphy Hanrehan with Shawn from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Can't Be Silent, Tammy's 40th HS Reunion and Garden Tour of 2016

There was a killing in St Paul last week of a black man, Philando Castile; he was in his mid 30s. His death came on the heels of the killing of another black man, Alton Sterling, also in his mid 30s in Baton Rouge. Both lives were taken as the result of shots fired by police. If you watched them, those are difficult videos to get through and not something I'd normally share here but as disturbing as they are to see, it's even more disturbing to realize that they happened at all. In the case of Alton Sterling -- the body cameras worn by the police somehow fell off and couldn't record their actions. How convenient for them and really, what are the odds of that happening? Thankfully there was other video to help tell Alton's story.

I don't want to look back at my writings years from now and find that I was silent on this issue of excessive police force if that's in fact what the videos show.

Law enforcement officers have a difficult and dangerous job to do and they do it for a not a lot of compensation. I couldn't be a cop. I have the utmost respect for those who don't shy away from putting their lives on the line each time they kiss their families goodbye and leave for work. But to those who abuse their authority and to those who would cover up or look the other way from the abuses I offer nothing but my most heartfelt FUCK YOU!

Five Dallas, Texas police officers lost their lives to a (most likely) mentally ill man who felt so much rage after those two killings that he went out with assault rifle in hand in search of his prey. He injured several others in the melee that ensued before he was eventually cornered and killed with a bomb delivered by a robot.

It's been a difficult time for those of us in the United States as we try and understand how to make sense of this in our own way or how we come to terms with how friends interpret the events often in a way much different than our own understanding.

We've been down this road before and just because nobody was found guilty in the deaths of Freddie Gray or Eric Garner (among so many others) doesn't mean there wasn't excessive force or police brutality or abuse of power or call it what you will at play. Freddie and Eric didn't survive to be able to take the stand and speak for themselves at the trials that followed their deaths and so we're left with the words of accused officers against the silence of dead men. We know how that turns out.

That's all I've got.

On a brighter note -- I had a good night at men's league last Thursday. I shot a 41 on the back 9 at Crystal Lake which could've easily been a 39. I had a lie in the bunker on the last hole that allowed me no chance to shoot at the pin but rather, 90º left of the hole. I walked away with a double bogey but happy with the round overall and the progress I'm making.

Tammy and I went up north to her hometown of Babbitt over the weekend for her 40th high school reunion. I was in the beginning stages of a head-cold when we left and by the time Saturday rolled around it was full-on accompanied by a pounding headache. I missed out on most of the fun but managed to make an appearance later in the evening on Saturday and put on a smile for 90 minutes to mingle with her friends from decades ago. It was a very nice time. I only wish I could've been there for all of it earlier in the day.

We brought the pups with us and they cooled their heels at Cindy's home while we stayed at The Junction, a newer motel in town.

I usually do a walk-around of our yard each year to video our gardens so as to give me something to look back on and see how they change over the years. Here's this year's video...

Garden Tour 2016 from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.