Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

I seem to have so many things to get done this spring, so many that some days I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve got some projects in the yard which have me a bit preoccupied. One of those projects I was able to get done this past weekend when I found someone to come and grind our stumps out which were left behind after we cut down our Aus trees last winter. I would’ve thought it would be easier to find somebody to do the job than it was. I found a guy in the Yellow pages less than a mile from home. He came out last weekend while I wasn’t home to size up the job and he was to give me a call back with a bid. He never called back. Tammy saw him out back looking at the stumps so I’m (sorry) stumped as to why he never called to at least give us an estimate. I called another guy on Wednesday and he said he’d be by the next day around mid morning to quote us a price. When he hadn’t shown up by late afternoon I called his number and he said he was planning on coming out on Monday instead…hmmm…it would be nice to know that so I didn’t have to wait around all day for him. I told him not to bother as I had somebody else who would do it sooner than that. The other person I had in mind was a guy who had phoned me the previous day but I had told him I’d already found someone. He came out the next day and did the job for me for a very reasonable price of $100 for 3 stumps. The other guys had truck mounted units which no doubt would’ve torn up the lawn but this guy had the really cool self propelled unit which looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. I was happy with the job he did for us.

You wouldn't believe the hardiness of the Aus trees. Here's a photo I took of what remains of some of the logs I kept. They're alive and growing!

We’re still working on the 3rd of 3 windows above our kitchenette in the basement. We’ve probably got another 30-40 hours of work to do before it’s done, maybe less. I have a very hard time getting myself to do stained glass once the grass turns green but this year I’ll have to keep at it until this job is done.

We had some sick pups this past weekend. Toby picked up some flu bug and passed it along to Allie. The poor guys had it bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Toby pass up a meal until the other day. They’re doing much better now.

I've reached the age where stretching before a workout is no longer optional. I keep having thoughts of taking 20 minutes each day to work on stretching but so far that’s all they are—thoughts. I actually stretched for 2 minutes before today’s ride. Yesterday’s ride sort of reminded me of the rides I would do when I was in the Navy. I had no plan where I was going and just made it up as I went along. Those rides are usually the most fun. I’m enjoying playing around with my GPS unit while I’m out there and going back over the route data during my cool-down phase when I get home. Here’s yesterday’s route.

Anyway, that's about it from this end.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dad's Dance, Riding and Projects at Mom's

I picked up Rachel at dance last week and her teacher poked her head in the truck window to tell me that they were looking for dads for the dad's dance and she needed a 'yes' from me. My default answer was that I had to work and wouldn't be able to attend the practices...whew...I really dodged a bullet with that one. I could tell that Rachel was really counting on me to get involved and over the course of the 20 minute drive home I'd pretty much changed my mind although I didn't tell her just yet. I got home and both Rachel and Tammy let me know that they were really really really hoping I'd do the dad's dance, "okay, I'll do it!" They were so happy—that alone was worth it I suppose. My first practice is tomorrow night. We'll find out then when the other practices are. There still is a chance that the practices may interfere with my schedule and I really won't be able to make it but I'm actually looking forward to it. This could be fun. Hey, I never thought I'd be using the dance floor in the basement to practice my own routine. Rachel puts a lot of effort into her dancing and the weekend of her dance recital is probably the highlight of her year.

I got out for my first long ride of the year last Friday when I headed up to Rogers. It was a beautiful day. I left home around 10:00 am and headed out highway 13 toward Shakopee. Highway 13 is a busy section of road through Burnsville and Savage but what makes it worse is that the shoulder is nearly always full of debris. The further to the right of the shoulder you ride the more debris you encounter. I try and cheat toward the left as much as possible to minimize my chances of flatting but to the average driver, they only see you as a rider who should be hugging the right side of the shoulder; they don't see the debris I'm trying to avoid. I headed north out of Shakopee and picked up highway 101 where the first half mile is a nice 11 to 14% grade. As I neared the top of the hill I noticed my heart rate monitor showing 172 bpm. I love that feeling. I live for it!

I'm probably a bit nuts for taking highway 101 because it's got little to no shoulder for much of the way up to Rogers but I enjoy the hills and views along the way. It sucked a bit more than usual near St. Louis Park as there is a bunch of road construction and not much extra room but it only lasted a mile or two. Once I got to Maple Grove the road opened up a bit and the traffic fell off some. I got to Rogers around 1:00 and got a bite to eat at the Super America where I sat on the lawn and gave my legs a rest while watching the people come and go at the BK across the lot.

I headed for home and put a 15 to 20 mph tail wind to work for me. I was going to stop at Jackie's in Maple Grove on the way home but I really needed to get to Shakopee before the traffic got too busy on 101. It was a fun ride home but I was ready to call it a day. I came in at just over 100 miles. Here's an overview of the trip.

I spent Saturday out at my mom's place taking care of some loose ends outside for her. Her gutters were sagging in spots so I took the old ones down and put up some new ones—the same type she had. Nothing expensive but she just wants the water diverted away from her flower beds below. I also took out her old landscape lights as they were falling apart and some weren't working. I put in some solar lights for her so she doesn't have to mess with replacing broken bulbs. She was so thankful and it was nice to see her so happy. I really need to make myself more available for her. She's so giving and I need to be more like her.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Contract Talks and Riding

We've been in contract talks with the FAA management since last July and this past week the talks came to a halt and an impasse was declared. This isn't the end of the world but it does signal the end of status-quo. We've enjoyed several years of prosperity as air traffic controllers and now management is looking to get back some of our gains. Where it will hurt most is in our retirement pay as any pay raises we see for the next five years will be seen as bonuses paid out in lump sums and not to be used as part of our base pay for annuity purposes—boring stuff so I'll stop writing about it.

I've been finding my form on my bike...I went out for a 70 mile ride yesterday. My Edge 305 has been good at helping me squeeze more out of my workouts.

The poll numbers continue to fall for Bush. So let's see, continued negative reporting and nothing but hate-Bush-talk from the left. Hmm, I'm not surprised. Not to compare President Bush to Jesus but Jesus also suffered a turn of public opinion in only a few short days which led to his crucification. He rode into Jerusalem amid the praises of the people only to be led to the cross a few days later amid the shouts of "crucify Him". There is a mob mentality at work in our country and it is bringing us all down.