Monday, July 28, 2008

Ambition and Surviving a Ride

I tried to get a jump on the heat and humidity this morning but my ambition was elsewhere. Can you have ambition for sleeping in? Today was a vacation day for me as is the rest of the week. I still managed to get away by 9:30.

The plan was to head out into Wisconsin then down to Red Wing but once I got on the road I reevaluated my plans and went south toward Northfield instead. My legs were tired and my right knee was feeling a bit painful but I was confident the Advil hadn't yet begun doing its thing.

It wasn't long ago on this route that I'd be surrounded by cornfields within 10-15 minutes of leaving home but I'm either getting slower or they're building more homes: actually both. The cornfields take a bit longer to reach these days.

It was a beautiful day and once the heat kicked in I only had to remind myself about those zero degree days I biked in last winter and how I'd much rather be too warm than frozen. That works every time.

I was overdue for the Kenyon loop so that became my goal.

I've been riding Mavic Ksyrium wheels on both my bikes for a little over four years. By far they're the best wheels I've ridden. In all the miles I've put on them I've only had three broken spokes. The first one came with about 1000 miles on the wheels. I went another 32.000 miles, until earlier this spring before breaking another. My third break came today and it probably couldn't have come at a worse time. I was over 50 miles from home with the temp and humidity pushing into some uncomfortable territory.

I was out of the saddle on a climb when I heard a pop from my rear wheel. I stopped pedaling and looked back to see in an instant that my rear wheel was sporting an ugly warp. I got off to find that the situation actually could have been worse. The broken spoke wasn't on the drive-side, meaning, there wasn't as much tension on it as the spokes opposite it. Still, there had been enough tension on the spoke that even with my brakes fully opened the wheel would rub at the warp.

I made a quick call to Flanders Brothers in Minneapolis to see what they thought about continuing to ride on the wheel and would I do more serious damage and risk a more catastrophic failure? They said it shouldn't be a problem as long as I went easy on it. And so I did.

I was in the middle of nowhere. I remember thinking that even with my Edge 305 tracking my progress, I didn't really know how to tell Rachel where to meet me should I need to pack it in. Tammy was working. Hitching a ride was my best option should I need to. I'd left Kenyon behind 8 miles ago and I wasn't sure how far ahead the next town was because I was on a road I'd never been on. I headed back in the direction I came figuring it would be the quickest way home but then I remembered that I'd just come through a bunch of road construction and I didn't really want to mess with that again so I circled back and pressed on.

I finally made my way to highway 52 and picked up a tailwind to take me home. I dialed the speed up without torquing the rear wheel and it felt fine even though it looked quite ugly. Did I mention that I prayed? Yeah, that's a big part of who I am. I prayed my way home.

Once I reached highway 46 I knew I'd be fine. I crossed back over highway 52 to see that the MinnCan project Tim D at work has been blogging about had taken up residence east of Rosemount.

I was thinking that a sign on my back saying "yes, I know my rear wheel is warped" would have been appropriate as I made my way into the more populated areas near home with drivers continually coming up behind me. I imagined that it must be obvious but I doubt many people noticed.

I reached home with over 105 miles on the day feeling fortunate that my wheel held up. I opened my truck's tailgate and set up shop shortly after arriving home and replaced the spoke. It's ready for tomorrow's ride. I've been neglecting my bike the past few weeks so it was nice to have this effort in the books.

I'd hoped this was going to be a high mileage week but you know what? My ambition is to take it easy this week. Ambition is a funny thing in addition to being an ever-moving target.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Project Completed and a Phone Call From Tampa

I've had too little time for blogging lately as I've been using nearly all my spare time to put the finishing touches on our driveway and sidewalk project which is now complete. We're happy with how it turned out.

The task of amassing the garden blocks and building them into a retaining wall was a bigger project than I remembered it being the first time I did it when I had our home built 16 years ago. I expected the job to be a one-day project at most but it was all of that plus a couple of additional afternoons. I included a row of cap blocks that I didn't have on the previous wall and I'm glad I went through the extra effort as it gives it a much nicer look. It was a bit of a hassle cutting the blocks to fit around the curve in the wall but once I got the hang of it I made quick work of it. A bit like fitting stained glass pieces into a window. Here's the "before" shot from a couple weeks ago.

I found some landscape lights at Lowe's and placed them along the walk. I also put a few of the lights inside the flower garden. They're 10w halogen bulbs and actually cast some light on the walk, unlike solar lights which are popular now.

Here's the final video from this project (it's a short video, Rob) and here's a link to the set of videos. I caught some flack from Rob because he thinks my videos are too long.

Switching gears.

I got a phone call a couple of nights ago and the voice on the other end was one I hadn't heard in nearly 4 decades. It was Jim Barbour, or, M.r Barbour as I used to know him. Jim is 82 and was our neighbor when we lived in Bloomington. Jim, Gloria and their son Kevin were the first black family I had any contact with when they had their home built next to ours in 1967. You couldn't ask for better neighbors than the Barbours. I'd like to think they taught everyone in the neighborhood a bit about our prejudices whether we thought we had any or not.

Jim has been in contact with my older sister over the years and I got his email address through her. I wrote to him a few months back to say hello so I wasn't totally shocked when I got his call. I always thought he was a very interesting man. A corporate black man living in a lily-white neighborhood. He had race cars and would race them at the track. The one I remember most was his blue Austin Healey.

He sounded so young on the phone that I'd never guess I was speaking with someone in their 80's. I didn't really know him well but I was interested in his story or whatever he wanted to share with me. Our conversation turned to some pain he was having in his back. He said it was from an old injury when he was in the Air Force and crashed his Stearman in some severe weather. I didn't know he was a pilot but was he also a Tuskegee Airman? Bingo. He talked about how he came to be involved with them and his time spent in the military. He loved flying the Stearman more than any other aircraft but spent most of his time piloting a B25.

We talked a bit about the movie, The Tuskegee Airmen and what he thought about it. He mentioned the parts of the show where the screenwriter took some liberties but he said that overall it was an accurate depiction of what they went through.

I asked him about the discrimination he must have surely been subjected to especially in his younger years and how he dealt with it. He said he could only recall two instances of racism directed toward him. Once was on a trip to Pascagoula, Mississippi. He and a friend had flown over the city previously and later while on a train passing through they decided to get off and have a look around. It was a hot day and they wanted to buy a Coke but they couldn't find anybody who would sell them one. Blacks weren't allowed to drink from the pop bottles or glasses at the soda fountain.

The other incident was while trying to board a bus. Blacks were required to sit in the back while whites would either sit or stand toward the front. He was trying to get on a bus which was full up front with people standing in the aisle but empty in the back. The driver told him he couldn't get on because it would mean that all the people standing in the aisle would have to get off so he could pass through. No doubt they couldn't allow a black man to touch them much less sit near them.

There must have been plenty more times when he was discriminated against but those were the only two he could recall. I don't think he's the sort of man to go looking for it or dwelling on it. The world would be a better place with many more people like Jim Barbour in it, and an even better place without racists.

I have no idea what his politics are. He did mention that he'd never written the president until the Air Traffic Controller's (PATCO) strike in 1981. He was disappointed that Regan fired them after promising to work with them after they had supported him.

We spoke for over an hour and when I hung up the phone I thought to myself what a treat it was to speak with him for that long. He's got so many memories and experiences to draw from and our conversation was just scratching the surface. I hope we'll continue our dialogue.

Edit (9-17-2008) When I first posted this entry I made a request to Jim for any photos of himself back in the day which he would allow me to add to the blog. I didn't hear back from him until a couple of nights ago when Jim called to see if I'd received the email he'd sent me. My computer wasn't far away so I told him to hang on and I'd check. He said I should have gotten it weeks ago. For whatever reasons I never got it so he resent it to me and I've added the photos to this post. He also sent me a couple of PowerPoint files of the newspaper article. You can download them here and here.

Jim ~ thank you so much!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've Got Mail, Grandparenting (someday) and Lotsa Blocks

I received an email this morning from someone who had read my posts titled A Brave New World from a few months ago. Here's the email...

Dear Kevin,

My name is Emilio and I'm contacting you after reading with much interest your series of posts "A Brave New World" and obtaining your email address from this page on your website (listed in your blog's info). The reason is that I'm currently working on a postgraduate on film studies on the topic of film reception, for which I'm building a collection of video-recorded accounts of memorable experiences with films and I was wondering if you might be interested in helping me out by collaborating with telling your experience with You've Got Mail and how it lead you to meet your wife. The idea is to have these videos uploaded to a site specifically dedicated to them, to explore the varied ways in which people make sense of films. Unfortunately, I can't pay for any collaboration, but I guarantee you I'd be very thankful for it and the video would remain fully credited to you.

Please let me know if you might be interested or if you have any questions or comments.

Look forward to hearing from you.



I responded to Emilio and told him that I'd be happy to help.

I love the internet for several reasons and this sort of connection is toward the top of that list. I don't know what I'll say in my video response to Emilio but I'll think of something. I did go to my Netflix account today and put You've Got Mail at the top of my queue.

Rachel is at Sonshine Fest in Willmar this weekend. She left yesterday with the youth group from Prince of Peace. Tammy will pick her up late Friday night. The past few years Tammy and Rachel have gone together to this event but Tammy's new work schedule kept her home this year. This is one of those areas where we as parents let go a little more and realize that the days of our child being dependent on us are becoming less and less. We're happy to see them grow into who they're becoming but we're sad for the child they no longer are.

Just tonight, Tammy and I were in a restaurant and I noticed what looked to be a grandfather with his grandson. I had Tammy sneak a glance at them and I told her that that would be us before too long. She smiled. We began talking about some of the things we'll do with our grandchildren when the time comes. Disney World for sure. A summer day spent at Valley Fair and the occasional trip to the movies. Maybe we'll just pick them up to go to DQ. It will be a nice transition. We probably shouldn't be getting too far ahead of ourselves.

I made a few trips to Home Depot today to build my stockpile of garden blocks for the flower garden along our front walk. They weigh 22lbs each and I need approximately 130 of them. I'm careful not to overload my 7 year old truck. I made 3 trips today and I'll make a couple more tomorrow.

I'm in the middle of prepping where the blocks will go and hope to have the entire project done tomorrow. I'd planned to wait until a couple of weeks from now when I'm off work to do this job but I'm glad I decided to get a jump on it. I was going to run the landscape lighting wire tonight but I couldn't find the 100 foot, 12 gauge wire I'd purchase a few nights ago for $39. I could remember unloading my truck of all the lights I'd bought but I couldn't recall bringing the wire in. I checked in our garage and in my truck but it wasn't there. I called Lowes to see if they have a place where they keep items that customers pay for but forgetfully leave behind. They connected me with that person and she told me that they had my wire and would hold it for me.

As I was saying in a previous post, I'm becoming more concerned with unnecessary trips in my truck in an effort to conserve fuel and this trip was one I could have done without. Anyway, I got to Lowes and sure enough, they had my wire. Had I waited until next week to tackle this project I'm not so sure they'd have still been waiting for me to come looking for it. I like Lowes. I only wish they were closer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Text Talk and Cementing Our Plans

When I first met Tammy over nine years ago I was cellphone-less. I'd recently equipped myself with a pager but I didn't have much need for a cellphone, nor did I have the money. My first phone was a Qualcomm; the same kind Tammy owned. It was big by today's standards but it was state-of-the-art when I bought it. I can't say that my current Envy is a whole lot smaller.

Until recently, it used to be that I'd go days without so much as turning my phone on. Sometimes I'd find a message from a day or two before and I'd hurry to return the call so I wouldn't be perceived as being rude. I suppose I'm not much for talking on my phone and when I do it's mostly done while I'm in my truck, usually to or from work. My phone habits have been slowly evolving as I pretty much carry my Envy with me now wherever I go and it's always on. Surprisingly enough I use it mostly for text messaging with Tammy and Rachel. We talk some but not nearly as much as we text. That seems to work for us. Funny, because it wasn't long ago that I was asking Rachel why she would text so much instead of talking. Talking is easier...right? Maybe. Maybe not.

For me, the newfound value in texting is in not interrupting somebody. They can answer and respond to your text in their time. This works especially well between Tammy and me when she's working. She can retrieve and respond to my messages to her between her nurse-line calls. The quiet beep of her cellphone is the only intrusion she notices. We're much more inclined to stay in touch with each other throughout the day using text messages.

I took yesterday off from work to be around when the guys from MdConcrete came to pour our driveway. Having your driveway poured isn't something that happens too often and I wanted to be there to watch, oh, and to get some video of course. I got up early and stocked the cooler with ice and Gatorade. The guys showed up at 7:00 with the first of two cement trucks arriving an hour later. They quickly went over the surface one last time with a compactor then laid out the re-bar.

They're allowed 7 minutes of offload time per yard of cement in the truck. Anything over that becomes expensive and chews into their profits. Our job took roughly 20 yards of cement.

Watching them work was like watching choreography. Each person had their job to do and a place to be at the right moment. No doubt, the fact that there's a limited amount of time to work with the wet cement provides some real incentive.

The concrete goes down looking rough but with each step in the process it's transformed to a more finished look. The backs of some of their shirts said "Concrete Artist at work" and yeah, I'd have to agree.

Tammy and I talked about scratching our initials and putting the pups paw prints in the concrete in some inconspicuous spot but after watching the guys take great care in all of the finer details of the finishing work we couldn't bring ourselves to do it.

They were done by 11:00 and it was then that a bit of worry began to set in. We've got some good kids in our neighborhood but what if? What if one of them ran across the still wet driveway? Last week I was walking Toby and Allie when the local sullen goth kid threw a pack of firecrackers toward the bottom of his driveway as we walked by totally freaking out Allie. I politely told him how neither I nor the pups appreciated him doing that. Maybe this kid would walk by my drying driveway and decide to do something else I didn't appreciate? There was the possibility that a stray dog would run through the cement and leave its tracks. Were these valid concerns? Probably not but I was having them.

I went inside to upload the video I'd taken and came back out an hour later to find that the yellow warning tape they'd placed at the end of the driveway was broken and laying out in the street. I thought for sure that my fears had been realized but no, the driveway was fine. The wind must have snapped the tape.

I spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage while keeping watch over my drying baby. It was a good excuse to spend a few hours in the garage giving it some much needed attention. I knew I was out of danger when Matt arrived around 6:00pm and walked up the driveway. He'd come to cut expansion joints in it to help keep it from cracking. Prior to him walking on it only the pups had run across it.

I told Matt I was uploading the videos I'd taken of them to YouTube. He wanted to know if he could link to the videos on his website. Absolutely! I told him I'd put together a DVD of the footage I got from beginning to end. He said that that was something he's wanted to do but it simply wasn't practical to expect someone to do it or try and use a tripod in the process. I told him that it's a bit of a hobby of mine and that I was glad to help.

Now my work begins. I went out last night and bought some landscape lights for the area around the front walk. When the cement has had a few days to cure I'd like to begin work on rebuilding the wall around the flower bed next to the walk. Matt would like me to take some video of the finished product to add to what I've already taken.

There aren't enough hours in the day lately. It's not as though I've been the one doing the labor for the projects we've had done around our home but still I'm feeling like I could use a day off. Fortunately for me I've got some vacation time in a couple of weeks which I'll use to wrap this project up. After that, I'll have no choice but to be lazy because I'm out of money.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home Improvement and Nasty Weather

The crew from MdConcrete came by at 7:00pm Wednesday to tear-out our driveway. We were in the middle of hosting our small group from church but our guests didn't mind; especially the men as this is the sort of stuff that most males can appreciate. Tom, one of the guys from our small group commented that he was doing that same sort of work five years ago working for an asphalt company.

I spoke with the bobcat operator and asked him if they recycled the asphalt and he said, yes. They take it to a gravel mine near 160th and Pilot Knob to be disposed of.

I got up at 6:20 yesterday morning and cleared out the utility room where the furnace and air-conditioning people would be working. They were here by 7:00 and with their arrival, our much-appreciated air-conditioner was shut down.

An hour later the cement workers were on the scene and they got busy busting up the sidewalk in front. There wasn't enough room to use a bobcat so their work would have to be done by hand. Within a couple of hours our sidewalk was a pile of rubble in the driveway. They then began setting the forms.

Our new furnace is a high-efficiency model by Ruud. High-efficiency means that it requires different venting and air supply lines than what our old Comfort Maker used. It's important to minimize the number of elbows and the length of piping used to connect the furnace to the outside. With our basement having been finished a few years ago, finding a way to vent the furnace outside was made much more difficult. We considered an option of coming up into our laundry room then out through the garage but that would have required more linear footage than was desirable. The long-shot option was to drill through the foundation block next to where the air-conditioner would set on the side of our house and pipe it directly to our furnace above the ceiling in our glass shop. And that's what they did. I couldn't have been happier that they were able to go this route nor could I have been more impressed with their abilities in making it happen.

I noticed just after noon that the skies to the northwest were beginning to look a bit threatening so I went inside to check the radar. Sure enough, a large line of developing storms was moving our way. I told the furnace and concrete guys that it looked like we'd have maybe an hour before they arrived.

I went down in the basement to see how the furnace was coming along and one of the workers pointed out a bit of a problem they were having. A light above the laundry tub in the shop had to be sacrificed to allow for the furnace venting. He suggested that he could install a sconce light on the wall next to the tub if I wanted to pick one up. I jumped in my truck and made a quick trip to Menards to find one.

By the time I got back on the road and headed for home the storms were just minutes away. These weren't your garden-variety afternoon thunderstorms. I sat at the light at County road 42 and Galaxie and watched a shelf cloud move into view just ahead of the gust front. Within minutes the winds were howling and I had my wipers on full. Traffic slowed to 20 mph in a 50 mph zone and 160th street was littered with limbs and leaves from the gust front a few minutes earlier. It began to hail as I turned onto Jaguar but thankfully it wasn't amounting to much. I parked in front of our house and made the dash into our garage to find the workers all camped out in there enjoying the show.

The storm set them back an hour but it's the forecast for today which may set them back a day or two. They're expecting temps in the 90s and severe weather later in the day which will make pouring concrete unlikely.

The guys from Dan Wohlers Southside finished up around 4:30 and walked us through all they had done and gave us a quick tutorial on how to use our new furnace and AC. We're very pleased with the job they did for us. Here's a before and after sequence of our utility room and some before and after shots of our AC.

Jim came by to do some touch-up painting this morning and said he's a little concerned that the out-take vent from the furnace is so close to the AC in that corrosive gasses from the furnace could damage the unit. I would think that the installation guys would have taken that into consideration if it truly is a concern but it does cause me to wonder. I suppose a call to Southside just to double-check wouldn't hurt.

Here's a couple videos from yesterday. The driveway work and the furnace and AC work.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

3-D Speak, Hypermiling and Housework

We had a GAF Viewmaster in our family when I was a kid. I can remember sitting on the couch in our living room flipping its lever to change from one photo to the next while becoming a part of each image as the 3-D effect worked its magic. There was one set of photos in particular of the Grand Canyon which I liked best. The scenery was breathtaking and the Viewmaster was the next best thing to actually being there.

I've played around some with producing my own 3-D shots. I first saw the technique used on the net with this photo on Robert Oddy's site. Seeing what he did gave me inspiration to try using it to photograph a couple of our lamps: here and here.

It's not all that difficult to do. Depending on how near or far your subject is you take photos which are offset by either a few inches or a few feet. The next step is to position the photos side by side. I use the Photomerge feature in Photoshop to accomplish this. Be sure that the photos are swapped out from how they were originally taken. The photo taken from the left-side perspective needs to be placed to the right of the photo taken from the right-side perspective. That's really all there is to it.

The tricky part is for the person viewing the photo to achieve the 3-D effect. I'll do my best to explain how to do that. You simply stare at the photo and slightly cross your eyes. Once you've crossed your eyes enough you should begin to see a third photo emerge between the two originals. Try and work that photo over the top of one of the original photos by either weakening or strengthening the crossing of your eyes. Once you've positioned it over either of the photos it should sync into place and you'll see the image in 3-D.

Speaking of 3-D, there's a movie coming out in a couple days called, Journey to the Center of the Earth which is done in 3-D. Tammy already mentioned that she'd like to see it. I'm in.

Are you a Hypermiler? Watch this video to see what it's all about. I'm not one but with gas at about $4.00 a gallon I've changed my driving habits some. I'm not much of a speedster to begin with— maybe 3-4 mph over the limit. I've pretty much adopted the speed limit as my max speed now in an effort to improve my truck's gas mileage. I used to track that sort of stuff but I don't anymore. All I know is that by going a bit easier on the gas pedal I can make a small difference which will undoubtedly be canceled out by Rachel's driving habits. :(

Matt, from the concrete company that will be doing our driveway called last night to see if they could move up the start time for tearing out our old driveway. They were supposed to be here on Thursday but he wanted to do it today instead. I gave him Jim's number and told him to coordinate it with him as I wasn't sure how long they'd be painting out front. Jim said Matt will be by later this afternoon to do the work.

I spent a little over an hour last night taking out the block from along the front flower garden because they'll be replacing the front walk as well. The blocks are 16 years old and they're showing their age. Matt told me to leave them on the driveway and he'd haul them away for me. Sweet. Time to go buy 130 new blocks.

Jim and his crew spent the day painting our house. They're just wrapping up as I type this. Jim does a great job and the proof in that is the ten years between now and the last time he did the job. Ten years from a paint/stain job on cedar siding is very good.

They came by a couple of days ago to re-caulk, sand, and prime where it needed it. Yesterday they covered the windows and removed the lighting fixtures in preparation for painting today. Jim will be back tomorrow to paint our front door and finish some detail work.

I'm happy to be able to pay someone to do this job for us. I'm not one for inching my way up a ladder trying to reach the highest points on the house. I'm satisfied with being able to manage to hang Christmas lights on those peaks and that can be a bit of a nerve wracking experience for me.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Passing Summer

How quickly the 4th of July comes and goes. Tammy and I went to the Taste of Minnesota celebration on Harriet Island in St. Paul Thursday afternoon and evening. We strolled around seeing how much free food and beverages we could fill up on before finally breaking down and buying some tickets. We're not cheap; we only had $45 in cash and I'm one who hates to pay an ATM fee for taking money out of my account. It's quite easy to blow through $45 between the two of us at this event.

We got off the beaten path a bit and went down along the pier to look at the boats pulled alongside. We talked about what it would be like to live on a houseboat and then we talked about how maintenance would be a constant.

REO Speedwagon was the headline act. Tammy isn't real big on them but I enjoy some of their music. Here's one of the videos I took for my YouTube account: Golden Country.

As we were leaving we walked by the Christian music tent/stage and grabbed a seat inside with our Budweiser wrist bands still on minus our beers. There was a local group on stage, Josiah Smith, which we watched for a few songs. Not bad.

We opted for leaving early and beating the crush of exiting people after the fireworks. We always enjoy our time a the Taste.

It's going to be a busy week around our home. Jim had one of his sons out on Thursday to power-wash our house and I think the plan is to come back on Tuesday to continue the prep work. My guess is they'll be painting on Thursday.

Thursday is also the day we're having our furnace and air conditioner replaced. We got a couple of bids and decided to go with the guys our neighbors across the street used last winter when they replaced their furnace.

We're going with a high-efficiency furnace with a variable speed fan which is continuously circulating air through the house. Our current furnace/AC setup isn't very efficient. It's builder-grade stuff which came with the house when I had it built in 1992. It's served us well but the last tech who was out at our home a few weeks ago to service our air-conditioner said we should give some serious consideration to replacing at least the AC. He was worried about how loud the compressor was. We could do it now on our schedule or wait until either the furnace or AC breaks down for good and go into crisis mode. I don't like crisis mode.

We're trying to avoid using our savings for this. Tammy noticed a credit card offer in the mail a few weeks ago which was offering interest-free financing until October 2009. Usually, those envelopes don't get past the garbage can in our garage while the rest of the mail is brought in but this one slid by. We'll take advantage of it.

I got up yesterday morning intent on going for a long ride but then it struck me that Tammy and I had the day off together; something that doesn't happen often enough. I asked her what she thought about taking the pups for a walk around Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. A half-hour later we were in the drive-thru at Starbucks ordering coffees for the ride. When we got to the window to pay, the woman inside gave us a piece of paper which would explain that our bill was paid by the driver of the SUV which had been in front of us. There's a Christian music station in town, KTIS 98.5, which promotes a program called Drive-Thru Difference and we'd just become the latest recipients of it. Cool.

Rachel spent the weekend with her best friend, Camille. There would be several of them going camping a couple of hours north. A bunch of kids and a few adults to chaperon them. We have a rule that she's not allowed to have more than one other person in the car when she's driving. I got a call from her asking if it would be alright for her to drive one of the cars they were taking to a carnival 15 miles away and that it would be full of other kids. I wasn't all that keen on the idea. An unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads with a bunch of kids who I could hear in the background were loudly having a great time. She put Camille's dad, Chuck, on the phone. I told him that she's only ever had one other person in the car with her and she's still a very new driver and wondered if maybe they could minimize the number of kids she would be driving. He told me he understood and that they would work around it. I sent Tammy a text explaining the situation and she agreed that it would be inviting trouble. I didn't want to rain on their parade and most likely everything would have turned out fine but it goes with the territory of being a parent. I appreciate that Rachel would ask us rather than tell us about it later.

It was a nice 4th of July weekend. Next stop, the Dakota County Fair.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Passports and I Like Turtles Too

The last passport I had expired nearly ten years ago. Tammy has never had one. We had no intention of acquiring new passports because we don't have any out of the country trips planned but a friend at work, Rob, suggested that it's still a good idea to have them should we need them, especially with Rachel's trip to Guatemala next month. Should a circumstance arise where we would need to travel to be with her we wouldn't be able to without passports.

Tammy did all the legwork of filling out the forms and gathering the necessary documents and together we went to the local CVS pharmacy to have our photos taken.

The woman at the licensing bureau who we submitted our papers to told us it would be about six weeks before we'd receive them. She suggested we could pay an additional (I think) $60 each to have them expedited but we declined and decided to take our chances instead. I was surprised when they arrived in the mail less than two weeks later.

I was mowing the lawn the other day when my cellphone began to vibrate in my pocket. I shut the mower down and answered it. Reid, a friend from work, was killing time at an airport in CA and wanted to tell me about a video he'd seen on YouTube. He was sure it was my kind of humor and that I must see it. I decided it was a good time for a break so I went inside and typed "i like turtles" into the search box on YouTube as he suggested.

I'd seen the video before but I couldn't recall where. Tim thinks he posted it in the comments section of my blog not too long ago. He may be right. Anyway, who am I to disagree with nearly 6,000,000 viewers? The kid's comment in the video is one of the more random things you're likely to hear somebody say but there's a part of me that agrees with the little zombie guy. You see, I like turtles, too.

I've always been a sucker for getting off my bike and helping a turtle out of a certain-death situation. A couple weeks ago I was coming into Prior Lake from the east on a busy highway when I came across a migrating turtle. It was small enough that I could carry it with me on my bike. I relocated it a mile up the road in a pond; not the most ideal spot but it was the best I could do at the time.

I've seen more dead turtles on the highway this year than I have in years past, especially the large 10-12 inch snappers. I have no idea why.

This video below is from two weeks ago. I was going to use it as part of a blog about all the dead turtles I'm seeing on the highway but the idea seemed a bit lame so I shelved it. Anyway, thanks to Reid for the unintentional prompt.

So yeah, I sort of relate to the little zombie guy. I suppose you shouldn't be surprised if you someday ask me how I'm doing and without hesitation I reply with "I like turtles", because I do and I'm sure they like me too.