Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blog Bits and Rowing Woes

I've got a stat counter which tracks the number of users to my blog in addition to some other gee-whiz stuff and because I'm a bit of a 'details' guy I think it's cool information to have. But, there's a part of me that would like to forget that other people read what I have to say. Odd as it is I sometimes worry that my writing may be hindered because people I know will read my words and maybe they'll infer something they shouldn't from my writing.

There are often times when I feel compelled to blog because there are regular viewers who stop by and I want to have a new entry for them. That can cut both ways in that it can motivate me to sit down and collect my thoughts (therapy) but I may also find myself writing not so much because I have something to say but because I feel I have to say something. That doesn't always make for interesting reading.

I need to remind myself why I began my blog in the first place. For me, as a way of expressing myself and getting in touch with my thoughts.

But having said all that, I do appreciate that people take an interest in some of what I have to say and sometimes even take the time to leave a comment. I thank all of you for that. I apologize for some of the rants about my profession and the boring posts about my bike rides but there's a reason they're here; for me to be able to look back on years, perhaps decades from now and reminisce about these good old days. I only wish I had started this sooner.

Speaking of things to reminisce about. I'm taking off work early today to attend Ash Wednesday service at noon at Hosanna with Tammy and Rachel. They're planning on going out for lunch together afterwards but I'm going to take a pass and jump on my bike in the 40 degree weather. They're forecasting 5 to 8 inches of snow for tomorrow. I was last out on Sunday in 14 degree air for a little over 31 miles. The roads were dry for the most part and the sun was out with light winds. Beautiful weather for riding. Really. The only negative about the ride was reaching down for a drink of Cytomax and finding that I'd waited too long. It was frozen.

I'm happy about the days getting longer and looking forward to some longer rides after work in the next few months.

continuing...

I left work at 11:30 and met Tammy and Rachel at church. We sat with a few hundred people for what was a nice service. Mom was there with her friends but we didn't get a chance to talk other than to say hello.

I was able to crank out 45 miles this afternoon and I'm happy about that. I again see myself reducing my mileage this year. I'll be happy with 6000 miles. I hope to be filling my days off the bike with workouts on our C2 rowing machine. Speaking of which, I haven't been able to use it for the past two weeks since suffering an injury to my right forearm using the rower. I figured that after two weeks rest the injury would be healed but it's not. There's an acute pain when I do certain motions with my arm. I've never had tendinitis but I'm guessing that's what it is.

One thing I've learned through my injury is that my approach to rowing has been all wrong. There was nothing about my form that was correct. I watched lots of videos but none of them stressed that it was a lower body workout. I'd been pulling much too hard with my arms and getting very little help from my legs. What I've since learned is that it's 80% legs. My technique (or lack of it) was 80% arms.

Here's what I love about the internet. You can post a question (in my case, a question about my technique) and there is usually someone out there willing to offer their help. Sure, sometimes they may not have the best advice but often times they do. Here's a response I got from a woman in California who took a considerable amount of time to set me in the right direction.

Hi onekgguy,

I've pulled some screen-shots from your video for discussion purposes:


starting with the finish(#1), then recovery (##2-4), the catch (#5) and the drive (##6-8).

I don't know if you're thinking about rowing as "pulling the handle", but it looks as though that might be the case. I'd like you to start from a different perspective. Think about it as pushing the rowing machine away from you with your legs with high torque (that's at least some of what the 70% legs or 80% or 90% legs comments are getting at). Before you can push that hard, you'll need to brace your body to be able to push against it and your back will need to be stable and not move while you're pushing, or otherwise the effort you're making will not move the chain. Since you want to transmit all of the power you can into the chain, you'll want to "hang off the chain" and maintain a stable linkage with your back and arms.

Here are some diagrams I did for myself (I seem to be missing the "finish one"--sorry) when I was trying to sort technique out which might help you (you can see larger versions of these by clicking on them):



Here's a link to an "Flip Luisi's animated tutorial using a similar stick figure" which is well regarded.

I'll make a few observations about your body position. Note that you won’t want to try to think about all of this at the same time, but they will be useful things to notice as you review the two animations and my diagrams.

1. Sit on your “sitz bones” on the front half of the seat. I see (##1-2) that you’re sitting toward the back of the seat, with your pelvis “tucked under.” This means that in order to reach forward, you’re pivoting forward from the top of your pelvis (which almost has you in the top position in a crunch. Contracted abs and extended lower back which may make your back vulnerable to injury).

2. Your back and arms are the connection between your leg drive and the flywheel. Their role (during the leg drive) is to be a stable connection—you shouldn’t be swinging the back or pulling on the arms during the leg drive. If you do either (swing or pull—see #6), you will be limiting the force the leg drive can put into the flywheel to what the arms & back can do/hold.

2. Sit “tall”—raise your collar bone and drop and relax your shoulders. Your torso should be strong, stable and supported by your abs & your lats. Your shoulders should be supported against the drive by your lats, but if you have your shoulders raised, your lats can't help you withstand the leg drive. If the image is helpful, think about the posture of a top-notch ballet dancer—balanced, graceful and able to move in any direction. Your ears should be as far away from your shoulders as you can get them.

3. Pivot from the hip (where your thighbone inserts into your hip)—instead of from the top of the pelvis/lower back. When you pivot from the lower back, you're using your abs and extending your lower back muscles. Instead use your abs & lats (both!) to stabilize your torso and your hip flexors to hold your stable torso against the leg drive.

4. When the leg drive is nearly exhausted is the time to open the back, and when the back swing is nearly exhausted is the time to “pull” with the arms. Both the back swing and the arm pull portions of the drive are much, much shorter than the leg drive. (You shouldn't have a position during the drive like ##6-7 you're opening your back & pulling with your arms before you've finished your leg drive.)

5. Don’t pull with your shoulders (see ##1 and 6 and the tension in your shoulders). Keep your shoulders relaxed, your forearms parallel with the floor, your elbows close to your ribs and use your think of using your back (lats) to move your elbows (and thus your forearms and the handle) behind you—you’ll end up w/ the handle against your sternum. Don't let your elbows "wing" out (see #1-3 & 8).

6. Make “hooks” of your hands (the thumb can be below the handle, but doesn’t need to grip it at all!) and try to keep your hands/forearms (relatively) relaxed. You should be able to wiggle your fingers on the recovery. Your wrist, and the top of your hand should be flat and aligned with your forearm. You’re gripping the handle too tightly (I can see the muscle tension in your forearms).

7. Don’t think of the finish as a time to pause…your hands should move back out with the same speed they came in. Let your hands lead your arms back to a full extension. And your extended arms should lead your tall-stable-torso forward.

8. Once your extended arms have cleared your knees, pivoting from the hip, your torso should angle forward as you move toward the catch position. By contrast, see #4 in your recovery.

9. The catch angle (of your torso to the rail), once attained during the recovery, will be maintained until late in the drive when you’ve expended your leg drive. You will need to hold that angle against the pressure of the leg drive.

10. As you move into the catch, your shin should come close to but not past vertical. You can allow your heel to rise as needed to get you into that vertical position. You’ll begin the drive by moving your heels down and forward forcefully.

HTH,

Alissa


I hope to be able to put Alissa's advice to work next week. I really don't want to get back on the C2 too soon and exacerbate the injury. It's a very fun workout and I'm missing it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Evening Musings

My favorite Shawn Mullins tune, Twin Rocks, Oregon

We met with Bob and Julie last week to talk about a stained glass project they'd like us to do for them. They're not sure what they want so we brought over some books of stained glass designs that they can look through to get some ideas. Julie had also downloaded some images off our website that she liked. I don't know if we'll be able to get their project done before I close up the shop for the warmer months but we'll see if we can at least get some sketches made so we can be ready to move on it when the time comes.

We're slowly making progress on the project we're working on for our entertainment center. There's no way to speed this up. It's just going to take some time; lots of time. I'm getting into a bit of a rhythm with it though as I manage to spend a couple nights a week down in the shop cutting, grinding and foiling pieces and then positioning them on the work table.

I very much enjoy my time working the craft as I find it a relaxing way to forget about whatever worries I may have. The pups keep me company as does the CD player which is currently stocked with an assortment of some older stuff: The Alan Parsons Project, Eve; The Sweet, Level Headed; Heart, Little Queen; Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume 2 and David Baerwald, Triage. I was in a bit of a '70s mood when I chose them.

Charlie has had a rough couple days. Tammy took him in Wednesday morning to have him neutered. They gave her the option of sending him home with or without pain medication. Our concern was that if the pain was masked he may over exert himself and cause the healing process to take longer. The vet assured her that he wouldn't be in too much pain. He seems to be doing a lot better today. He has a difficult time getting up the stairs with his collar/hoodie on so he'll sit and whine until somebody comes to help him.

Allie has bonded with Charlie so much so that she wouldn't eat Wednesday morning when she awoke to find that he wasn't there after Tammy had taken him to the vet. Ever since Tammy began making their dog food a few months ago Allie never turns her nose up at her daily feeding in the morning. Tammy figures she was stressed about Charlie being gone.

Toby hasn't done so well in terms of bonding with Charlie. He's gotten much better at putting up with him but he's still reluctant to play with him as Allie does. Charlie is getting better at giving Toby his space but he'll still make small attempts to engage Toby. Both Allie and Toby have found that they can get away from Charlie when they need to by jumping up on the furniture where Charlie is still too small to follow...for maybe the next couple months anyway.

I had such a good ride today. I'd considered going 'long' down in the basement on my rollers but I opted for taking advantage of dry roads and temps in the mid 20's for a little over 42 miles. I focused on keeping my heart rate elevated a bit more than usual and keeping my cadence high as well. Any time my heart rate dropped below 140 I'd push on the pedals a bit harder to bring it back up nearer to 150. By the time I'd finished the ride my quads were feeling the burn and I was in need of fuel.

I'd had some Oreo cookies and a tall glass of Cytomax before the ride in addition to a water bottle of Cytomax I brought along but I should've had more. I didn't bonk but had I had another ten miles to go I may have.

It was a cleansing ride. The burning in my quads and my heart beat slowly returning to normal left me with a euphoric feeling as I leaned my bike against my truck before negotiating our icy driveway in my cycling shoes to retrieve the mail. I felt so good. Unless you workout and really push your body you can't know what I'm talking about. There's no question that it's addictive. As I write this several hours later that euphoric feeling isn't deep beneath the surface.

Tammy invited Mom over for dinner tonight. I picked her up at 5:00 and we had a nice Walleye dinner with Rachel and Josh. Tammy, Mom and I sat around the table after dinner and talked for an hour before I brought her home. She was very tired. She hasn't been sleeping well but refuses to try and take a nap during the day. We don't do enough with her and that's my fault. I need to change that. We're not that busy.

Josh is pretty comfortable around us. I came home from work on Tuesday afternoon to find him here alone cooking a microwave dinner while totally making himself at home. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to find him here without Rachel. He's a good kid. Rachel was going to be home a little later as she had some Mock Trial stuff to work on.

I was in the basement today when Josh came down and began to look through the cupboards of the entertainment center. I turned the lights on for him and he told me he was looking for the Homer Simpson puzzle head. It's sort of like a Rubik's Cube where you have to twist the pieces to get them to line up correctly. He said he'd recently studied and learned how to do the Rubik's Cube and felt he could now do Homer's head as well. It's remained unsolved for a long time. He was right. It couldn't have taken him more than five minutes. He said there were some algorithms to work through in order to solve it. Gosh, nobody ever told me about the algorithms. I'd have had it figured out a long time ago had I known that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Valentine, Jim & Jimmy and Operation Chirp

Tammy and I last went out for dinner on a Valentine's night 7 or 8 years ago. We'd brought my mother to Timberlodge in Burnsville and it was a zoo. I'd made reservations earlier in the week but they didn't have us on the list when we arrived. We were eventually seated but the oversight brought some added tension to the night that we could've done without. We learned our lesson and have since planned our Valentine's Day celebrations so as to not make that mistake again.

This year Tammy had to work until 7:30 so I decided to treat her to a dinner I'd make for us. I by no means consider myself to be much of a cook but I can barbecue a steak without any trouble.

The menu: Rib eye steaks, baked potatoes, salad, Pepperidge Farms garlic bread and Green Giant Healthy Weight vegetable medley. Oh, and a bottle of Kendal Jackson, Cabernet Sauvignon. A thank you to Jackie for some menu tips.

I always like to buy Tammy an hour massage at Keep in Touch Massage in Burnsville for Valentine's Day in addition to a couple other significant days during the year. I got one for Rachel too. Between school and work she's been going at warp speed for too long. She had her first massage a couple months ago and loved it. I can see where this is going.

People who know Tammy probably wouldn't suspect that she's a rock 'n roller. In her younger days she was a big fan of Led Zepplin and to a lesser degree she still is today. We were placing some movies in our Netflix queue last week when she mentioned Led Zepplin's, The Song Remains the Same; but Netflix didn't have it available. Hmmm, I could use one more gift for her for Valentine's Day. I would eventually have to go to the evil store to find a copy.

I remember going to see the movie with John Winton in early 1977 when it was in the theaters and I was stationed in San Diego. There was some good concert footage in the film which I was sure Tammy would appreciate.

Tammy had an older brother, Jim, who died in a traffic accident in 1981. Jim is in the photo to the left with his friends standing around his car; he's the one on the very left. When I first saw his photo I thought he looked a lot like Jimmy Page from Led Zepplin. I mentioned that to Tammy way back when but she didn't think so...until we watched the movie the other night. She couldn't get over how much resemblance there was between the two. The next morning I went online and brought up some photos of an older Jimmy Page. We looked at them and wondered if the image we were seeing was what her brother may have looked like today had he still been alive.

I also got Tammy one other gift. I placed the Annoy-a-tron in her gift bag. She looked at it and wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I had her open it and turn it on. It sprang to life with the sound of the beep she'd been hearing in the basement the past several days. "Is this what's been making that noise downstairs" she asked? I could finally let that big smile out along with a laugh I'd been suppressing as I told her "yes". She thought it was a great prank and I'm glad she took it so well. I'm pretty sure she followed up with a punch to my upper arm.

'Operation Beep' has now turned into 'Operation Chirp' and the location has changed as well. I brought the Annoy-a-tron into work today and with the help of an all too willing CIC (Controller in Charge) at the supervisor's desk we've found a new home for the little bugger. There are several different sounds the Annoy-a-tron can produce with a cricket's chirp being one of them. There are several of us in on it and every time we hear the chirp we can't help but look at one another and smile.

Okay, so I've clued a few more of you into what's happening. I know there aren't all that many of you who read this so I'm comfortable with putting this info out there. Work with me on this is all I ask. I'd do it for you in a heart beat...or a cricket's chirp.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday Charles and Turning the Tables

Charles Darwin would've been 200 years old yesterday if only his body had been able to adapt to the rigors of time. Darwin's theory of evolution was our topic of conversation at dinner last night. Rachel's teacher in AP-Bio doesn't allow for much skepticism when it comes to evolution. Rachel approached her after class yesterday to discuss the lack of transitional forms/fossils necessary for Darwin's theory to hold water. Her teacher would have none of it. It's apparent to Rachel that Darwin's theory isn't much of a theory at all in her teacher's mind but rather, fact.

There needs to be more emphasis placed on the following which I lifted from Wikipedia...

Darwin's theory of evolution required that transitional forms exist. As Charles Darwin became older, however, he became increasingly concerned about this lack of evidence in regards to the fossil record. Darwin wrote,
When we descend to details, we cannot prove that a single species has changed; nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory.

How do you get around that? Shouldn't this last quote be highlighted in bold faced print at the beginning of every biology book or chapter which discusses evolution? How is it that our schools place any emphasis at all on evolution while there exists no evidence for it? There are no transitional forms. None. I understand that there is such a thing as adaptation; small changes which result from mutant genes that enhance life and increase the chance of survival and reproduction while passing on the mutation and in the process eventually over time becoming the norm. That's all good but that's not the same as crossing genetic lines to establish an entirely new species and that's what evolution would have us believe. I don't believe it.

My Christian beliefs are marginalized or dismissed entirely in the classroom and I understand that but this sort of thing is held up as truth. At least Christ lived and walked the earth but what do I know? I finished near the bottom of my graduating class.

Speaking of finishing near the bottom. The FAA experienced a major security breach on February 1st when the names, Social Security numbers and medical data of 45,000 FAA employees were hacked into and downloaded off FAA servers. In my opinion, FAA management (also known as the higher skill set) has been extremely slow and vague in their response and getting the word out to all of us who have had our private information compromised. A large part of me is skeptical that the FAA has fully disclosed the extent of our personal data that's now out there.

Operation 'Beep' was a success (previous blog entry) and is still ongoing. I placed the Annoy-a-tron under a stool at the bar in our basement right next to where we watch tv. Over the past few nights Tammy and Rachel have searched for the noise (I had to, too just to make it look like I was concerned along with them) by unplugging all sorts of electronic stuff while doing a process of elimination. "Where is that noise coming from?" was asked more than a few times. Every time it would beep they would both turn their heads in the direction of it as if they were going to somehow see the source. And every time they'd do that I'd have to bite the inside of my lip to keep from laughing or even smiling.

Rachel came home late Wednesday night after Mock Trial and was telling us about some key moments in the trial when she was being questioned. She actually grabbed the stool with the annoy-a-tron attached to it and used it as a podium in front of her. I was cringing because I wasn't sure the magnet holding the little beeper in place under the seat would be strong enough to keep it from being jarred loose. When she was done talking I got up and nonchalantly placed the stool back before it beeped again which would've been a big give-away to them. I definitely dodged a bullet there.

I came down into the shop to check my email this morning and while I was waiting for my HP laptop to boot up I heard the beep of what sounded like the annoy-a-tron coming from inside the shop. Was that what I think it was I thought to myself. I dismissed it as just a random beep from something in the shop as there are enough electronics down here to possibly generate that sort of noise. Anyway, while I was going through my emails I heard the beep again. I turned to look in the general direction just as Tammy and Rachel had done so many times earlier and wondered if maybe the joke was now on me. I got up and went to see if the annoy-a-tron was still in place under the stool. It was gone.

A big smile came across my face. Rachel must've found it before school this morning because it was still doing its thing when I went to bed late last night and now she'd thrown down a challenge of her own. I spent the better part of an hour looking for it. I removed cupboards full of stuff. I was on my back on the floor looking under desks while feeling with my hands where my eyes couldn't see. I removed heating vent covers and reached up inside in search of that little gizmo. I'd resume my blogging but that noise kept drawing me back to it. I had to find where she'd put it. Funny, because I knew what it was but that wasn't enough; I had to know where.

Ahhh...and then I found it. I was down on the floor waiting for the next beep trying to get an idea if it was higher or lower than my head when I saw where she'd placed it. I'd already looked under the table top where we grind glass but I didn't look close enough. She'd taped it to a small space between the back of the table and the wall. Nice job, kiddo. I have a feeling that she's not done with me yet.

Now the question remains; do we tell Tammy or do we make her have to work a little more for it? I'll let Rachel decide.

I'll leave you with this...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Taking it to the Streets, Hosting, Pups and Project Update and Gran Torino

I headed out into a light drizzle with a temp in the low 30's for my Monday morning ride today. You'd be surprised at how nice riding can be in those sort of conditions once you get moving and are generating heat. Of the three elements working against me, the cold, rain and wind, the wind was and usually is my least favorite. I was going to take a pass on today's ride but it looks like it may be several days before I'll have another chance.

I was able to get outdoors to ride twice over the weekend. It's nice to have that option again. The only dicey areas were the side streets close to home where there were some scattered patches of ice. Otherwise the roads were dry and fine for riding.

I saw my first Robin of the year along the side of 185th street west of the freeway as I put the finishing touches on yesterday's ride. I no sooner saw the one before seeing a couple dozen others poking around the only earth I could see among the still deep snow. I can never figure out why they're in such a hurry to get back here.

I dropped my blue Serotta off at Flanders Brothers shop in Minneapolis Friday morning for its yearly overhaul. I used to do all of my own mechanical stuff but I quit that a few years ago opting for allowing the pros to do their thing. I'm talking bottom bracket, rear hub and headset overhauls. Any of the other stuff I'm fine with taking on.

Tammy and I have volunteered to be a 'host house' for a nine week small group focus Hosana is organizing during the coming Lenten season. So far we've had six other people join our group with room for four more. We'll be meeting on Thursday nights beginning in a couple weeks. The topic will be John Ortberg's book, Faith & Doubt. We've hosted a small group before but we've never put ourselves out there to lead one as we will with this group. I'm looking forward to it.

Allie and Charlie are quickly becoming good friends. They love to play together. I wish I could say the same for Toby. He's still having very little to do with Charlie. I'll try and get some more video of them this week to upload to our YouTube account.

I'm enjoying having a stained glass project to work on. I can't get the colors to come through with my digital camera but there's a photo to the left to give you an idea of what it looks like so far. The colors have been morphing some and they will some more. Once I'm satisfied with them we'll begin to make much more progress. I'm more or less playing around with it at this point.

Our project will be interrupted for a week or two while we do a stained glass project for some neighbors. Bob and Julie don't have a design in mind so we'll be sitting down with them one night this week to get an idea of what they'd like. We need to do that now or there's a good chance we won't get to it until next winter and I don't want to disappoint them by keeping them waiting.

Tammy and I went to see Gran Torino last Saturday night. We both liked it a lot. Clint Eastwood plays an extremely bigoted character, Walt Kowalski, who is left a bitter and isolated man after his wife dies. He has family but there's no real love between him and them. He has his dog, his lawn, his front porch and his beer. That's it, or so he thinks. We're all a work in progress and so is Walt Kowalski. Go see it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beep, Flat -- Little Help? And the Project

I was in the geek room at work yesterday surfing some blogs while becoming increasingly annoyed by a small beep, the source of which I couldn't figure out. It was getting on my nerves with its regular beep every 45 seconds or so. It got to the point where I had to fire up my Windows Media Player and don my ear-buds to drown out the sound. I probably could've lived with it if I knew where it was coming from.

About that time Tracee stopped by to chat about getting some pointers for putting together a website. "Do you hear that?" I asked her after another beep. "That Beep?" she asked. "Yeah, it's driving me nuts" I replied. She said it sounded like an Annoy-a-tron. She told me that somebody had brought them into the training department not too long ago and it took them weeks to figure out what the noise was. In her case they were actually dealing with 3 separate Annoy-a-trons.

I lifted the following from the ThinkGeek website; the makers of the Annoy-a-tron...

Dear friends at thinkgeek.com,
I recently acquired the "Annoy-A-Tron" from your web site. Actually, I acquired two, thinking that perhaps two devices might be necessary to truly splinter the minds of my friends and co-workers. How woefully did I underestimate this powerful tool.

I have watched this simple device transform an (until-now) mild-mannered colleague into a spitting, cussing, paranoid lunatic.

He has ordered all of the staff he supervises (not a small number) to locate the source of the dread beeping before doing anything else (but since they are in on the prank, they haven't been much help). So he waits, white-knuckles gripping the edge of his desk, anticipating the next beep.

He has set a timer on his computer to track the duration between beeps. It hasn't been much help.

My favorite quote so far, nearly bursting that vein on his temple as he shouted it: "That beep has been F***ING with me for HOURS now."

He has called the facilities department to schedule a maintenance worker to investigate.

He speculates that "they" might be doing air-quality testing in the building. This beep must be some device in the ducts detecting dangerous levels of asbestos in the air. Or worse. Radon? Aerosolized mercury? Legionella spores?

The beep means something. What does the beep mean? Is it a warning? It sounds urgent, doesn't it? It's telling us to do something. But what? Replace a battery? Call the authorities? Evacuate the premises? Scrub ourselves with disinfectant and put on haz-mat suits and call our families to give them our tearful goodbyes?
I imagine that soon he will begin to take things apart. He will methodically dismantle all of the electrical devices in his office, creating an unusually precise metaphor for what is happening in his psyche.

I am reminded what a thin and fragile thread keeps us attached to sanity. Today, this tiny little device helped me break a co-worker's mind, and I thank you for the sinfully pleasurable schadenfreude.

My best to you,

John

Seattle, WA

If there was an Annoy-a-tron messing with me I was going to find it.

I spent the next 10 minutes standing on a table to poke around above the ceiling tiles from where the noise appeared to be coming from. No luck. Fellow geek Kelly went and found a flashlight so I could more easily see in the darkness above the ceiling tiles but I couldn't find the little bugger. About the time we were ready to give up Kelly opened a door in the hallway outside our geek room and found the source of the noise. An alarm had tripped to a ventilation system and needed to be reset. The people from Environmental were quickly on the scene assessing the situation. In fact, as I write this today they're still poking around the ventilation alarm.

But all of this got me thinking...hmmm...I could have fun with my own personal Annoy-a-tron. And I will. 'Nuff said as they say.

I was downstairs in the shop cutting glass last night when my cellphone rang; it was Rachel. "Kev, I've got a flat tire". She was a couple miles from home on her way back from Josh's house. It was cold but not the exceedingly cold we've been experiencing most of the winter. We were maybe in the low teens. She waved me down as I approached her on 175th street and I turned my truck around so I could shine my lights on the front of her car and the flattened tire. I wouldn't need the flashlight I brought.

She said she drove with it flat for a couple blocks before finding a safe place to pull over. Hopefully it would be repairable; I couldn't see anything wrong with it.

I suppose I expected her to take a seat in my warm truck while I did the work but she wanted to help. It wasn't too long ago that I made her bring some extra clothes along as she headed out the door for dance class in sub-zero weather. She didn't have a real warm jacket on last night but I think she wanted to show me that she was prepared to help however she could.

I showed her where the jack went under the frame and the order for loosening the lugs, jacking the car and replacing the wheel. I know...she should already know this but I'd yet to take the time to show her. She got right down there with me, shivering and all to watch what I was doing.

I stopped before going too far and pulled out my camera. I said, "hey, this is blogable." She smiled and let me take her picture.

We had the tire changed with enough time for me to stop by Fleet Farm on my way home to see if they could repair the tire. No such luck. He said there was too much damage done to it from driving on it while it was flat. Oh well. The mechanic at Fleet Farm said that Discount Tire in Burnsville may have the same exact tire and that I should give them a try. I did that after work today and Rachel is back on the road with good rubber all the way around.

I spent this afternoon and evening working on our entertainment center stained glass panel project. I wanted to get a feel for how the colors we've picked out will work together. I've possibly got one change to make. Where you see the dark triangular pieces of glass in the photo to the left, I plan to experiment with some other colors. They're currently a soft shade of lavender. It's a bit difficult to imagine what the finished project will look like from the photo but you get a general idea of the colors we're using. They're more earthy than what my digital camera captured.

I was hoping to have one complete panel done by the end of the week but I don't think that's possible. I'll spend some considerable time on it this weekend but we've got some warm weather moving in and my red Serotta is in need of some attention out on the roads.