Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lotsa Riding

I've had 3 of the last 5 weeks off from work. It's been nice to be away. Tammy and Rachel were at the Sonshine Music Festival in Willmar, Mn for 3 days last week. I stayed home with the pups and spent some extra time on my bike. I managed to put in over 500 miles last week. I'm on track for 6000 miles by my birthday in late August—that's sort of been my goal—same as last year.

I found a wallet on my ride yesterday. I was flying along country rd 46 at about 33 mph when I saw it laying on the shoulder. As I drove by it I could see a driver's license. I put the brakes on and circled back for it and put it in my jersey pocket to check it out when I got home. I had no idea what it contained other than the driver's license. It was loaded with cash—$286 worth as well as a credit card and some other IDs. I'm surprised nobody else had stopped to pick it up as the area was very busy with traffic. It had been run over several times. Tammy gave the owner a call and drove out to meet them with it. They were very grateful to have it back. The wife of the man who lost it said she had been praying all day for its return. He'd lost it the day before but couldn't imagine how it got to where I found it. He tried to give Tammy a reward but she refused. I'm just so happy that God let me find it.

It was an interesting ride for me. I also found the tiniest little sparrow along Blackdog road down by the Minnesota River. It had fallen out of its nest and was standing in the road. He was smaller than a walnut and could flap his little wings but I think he was still at least one week from being able to fly. I noticed that one of his siblings was flattened next to him. It could be that they were knocked from their nest during the previous night's storm. Anyway, it wasn't practical for me to try and get him home so I set him in the woods and said a prayer for the little guy.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I'm Part of a System I Am

US intelligence under Clinton was drastically cut. If the intelligence Bush used was bad you can look to Clinton to own a good deal of the blame for that. His administration was more concerned with prosecuting Bill Gates than they were the threats which really mattered to our country. It was also the Clinton administration which made regime change in Iraq a goal. Bush followed through and made that happen and he did it with the best intelligence information he had to work with.

If you disagree with our invasion (I prefer to call it liberation) of Iraq for the purposes of regime change, is it also wrong that we had sanctions against Iraq? The sanctions only hurt the little people. Was it wrong for us to put any restrictions on Saddam at all? Did you ever believe there were WMD in Iraq and that more were being assembled? What happened to them? Everyone who was anyone in Washington was saying that Saddam had them and they needed to be taken out of his hands. Would it have been smarter for Bush to ignore the cries of Democrats that there were WMD and instead hope that there really weren’t any and if there were that they wouldn’t be used against us or his neighbors? I have a hunch that if Bush was to have ignored the claims of WMD and they were actually used, he never would have heard the end of it from the Democrats. Do you agree? Don’t forget, the onus was on Saddam Hussein to prove that the WMD were destroyed and he never did that. Lacking that proof, Bush would have been a fool to hope there were no WMD. I really never had much faith in the inspectors…did you? Oh sure, there were no WMD in the end but if there were, do you really think the inspectors would have found them? Remember, the onus was on Hussein and not us.

I’m curious to know why bin Laden was considered a threat to us but Hussein wasn’t? Hussein was some toothless bogeyman while bin Laden was the real deal. Maybe someone on the left here can help me to know what to look for in a guy so I’ll know when we need to take the next threat seriously.

I realize that a minority of our oil even comes from the region but one thing that is important to me is that we apparently have a limited amount of oil and not a lot of emphasis being put on alternative fuels. It’s not hard for me to imagine a time when the oil in Iraq becomes a vital source of energy for not only us but for the world. I think that having the control of the oil in Iraq in the hands of someone a bit more stable than Hussein or his sons is a good thing. And no, we’re not taking anybody’s oil. Last time I checked we’re paying dearly for it.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy Birthday America!

Happy birthday America! I'm back to work after being having a couple weeks off. I love my job and most everything about it but I really needed to spend some time away. We didn't plan any extravagant out of town trips this summer as we indulged ourselves a bit more than we planned on our basement project

On my first day off we went to Valley Fair and had a blast. There were very few people there and most rides had little to no waiting. Power Tower here we come! I can't get enough of that ride. Tammy and Rachel love it too so that makes it triple the fun. Rachel brought her friend, Katrina along. Another ride we like a lot is Steel Venum..."steel venom is launching in 3...2...1...Scream!!!"

Rachel and I posed for our annual caricature drawings. I think this is the 3rd year we've done this. We all thought hers was the best...very cute. While we were there I had a guy come up to me and ask me if my name was Kevin. I knew right away who it was: Frank Coburn. We used to be neighbors 14 years ago when he was in elementary school. Funny thing because I'd just been thinking about him and his family a couple days earlier. I should give his parents a call. We've been exchanging Christmas cards all these years but nothing more. Jim has MS and I don't know if he's able to get out and around very well. I need to call them and stop by.

On Father's Day and I got up early and snuck in a ride before Tammy and Rachel made it out of bed. We'd gone out to dinner the night before to the Outback Steak House. Good food and the price wasn't bad. My one wish for the day was that we could go out and bicycle the Cannon Valley Trail in Cannon Falls. It's one of the rails to trails projects in Minnesota where they take old railroad beds and pave them for bicycle traffic. There are never any hills to speak of on them so they're just fine for those who don't get on a bike much. Tammy and Rachel bicycled while I rollerbladed. We took the trail 10 miles to the town of Welch where we stopped and got ice cream. Another 10 miles later and we were back in the truck trying to find a DQ or more specifically a Mr. Misty! We didn't find a DQ but we found Cannon Falls' version of a DQ and their version of a Misty. They must've used well water or something because they were bad...I mean there was something seriously wrong with these things. We went out of our way on the way home to hit the DQ in Farmington and get the real thing to wash the bad taste out of our mouths.

So that was Father's Day for me. Tammy and Rachel gave me a few gifts...some new cologne, some tools from Sears and some bicycling socks...I can never have too many cycling socks. I watched a bit of the US Open from earlier in the afternoon to wind the day down.

We've been kicking around the idea of getting a tattoo for a few years...all 3 of us. Rachel drew it out on her ankle and this is perfect. A Christian fish symbol...nothing obvious but big enough so you can make out what it is.

It was nice to have some time off with no plans. Rachel and I headed out to the Mall of America one day and kicked around for a couple hours. She's gotten too old for Camp Snoopy but she enjoys stopping at Beadit for some different beads. We decided to catch a movie after the mall. We saw Bewitched and were both a bit disappointed in it.

I finally made it out to see Jackie. I brought Mom and the pups along too. Toby and Allie have a blast there as her yard is fenced in and they can run around and go nuts playing with her dogs. A little later in the day Tammy, Rachel and I headed out to Stillwater to kick around some. Stillwater is a small town on the St Croix river which divides Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are a bunch of antique shops and stuff. We goofed around for a couple hours and then found a restaurant for dinner. We also stopped in a tattoo shop to see if they could fit us in but they were booked. They had an opening at 6:00pm the next day but we passed. We also found out that Rachel will have to be 16 before she can be tattooed.

I've been a bit lazy in my riding for the last few weeks. I'm just shy of 4000 for the year on the road and that's very good but I was on track to be closer to 5000 at this point. I haven't been doing much in the way of long-distance stuff this year as I did last year. I don't want to force it so I'll just do what my body is comfortable with doing. I went out last Thursday for a long ride and beat myself up pretty well. There was a west wind at 25 to 30 so I figured I'd pedal into it for a few hours and make my way to Glenco—50 miles west.

The ride to Glenco pretty much sucked. I thought it was going to be a windy but sunny day. As I headed west the sky became cloudy and I'd occasionally get rained on. The wind was so strong that it nearly knocked me over a couple times. My wheels have bladed spokes and they catch a lot more air than normal spokes.

I got to Glenco and was happy to turn for home with the wind to push me. I was about 5 miles out of town, cruising along at 31 mph when I heard the sound of my rear tire blowing out. My bike fishtailed just a bit before I got it back under control. I pulled over and got busy removing the rear tire and tube. I carry a spare tube with me and a patch kit in case I have two flats, which is very unlikely. Anyway, I tried putting a bit of air into the tube to give it some form before placing it in the tire and to my surprise, the tube wasn't holding any air. There was a hole in it larger than the hole in the tired which had just gone flat. I got out my patch kit and soon learned that the patches were too old to be of any use. There I was, on the side of the road 45 miles from home with my bike which was in need of more help than I could give it. Just when I decided the only option I had was to try and thumb a ride, a guy in a white pickup truck backed up along the shoulder and asked if I needed any help. I explained to him my dilemma and he got out to take a look.

The first thing he says is "Oh, nice custom Serotta Ti—wow, and SL2 wheels, too" Hmmm, I think this guy is an answer to prayer. He was a total bike nut and he was heading in my direction. I climbed in and we talked about the European peloton, the Tour de France and other bike stuff. He drove me about 25 miles to a bike shop in Chanhassen where I bought a couple tubes and got my bike back on the road. I was still intent on getting my hundred miles in but I'd have to pay dearly for it as it meant I'd have to head back into the 30 mph wind again. So much for having a tailwind to complete the ride.

It was a long day but I was glad I stuck with it and completed the ride. Tammy and I went to the Taste of Minnesota on Saturday. Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx was the headline act. She's not much of a Styx fan but I've always liked their music. He's been working with the same musicians for quite a while...21 years with his lead guitarist. He's a bit of a character on stage. There was a guy standing in front of us who had Tammy and I looking at each other and smiling. He was so into the music and he would pump the air with his left arm/fist as the bass drum pounded out the beat. It was a good show and Tammy walked away with a better appreciation of their music.

It was a good couple of weeks off for me. I'm a bit bummed about having to go back to work but I really can't complain. I imagine my life without my job and it brings me back to reality.