Sunday, January 27, 2013

Have CompuTrainer and Video Camera Will Travel

Yay! I actually got some Rachel-time Thursday morning. She and Missy were in town Wednesday night to see a concert and rather than drive back to Rochester they chose to spend the night at our house. I got home from the all-night shift Thursday morning and caught a quick couple hours of sleep before coming down to spend some time with them before they left. I was tired but I'll take what I can get.

We sat around the kitchen table talking and drinking some dynamite coffees. Well, at least mine was dynamite. Theirs were kind of boring. I don't think either of them even took me up on my mini-marshmallow suggestion. I was pleasantly surprised when they both confessed to really liking my blog :-) ...haha...oh and I promised them a shout-out! So here it is—Rachel and rock! But seriously, I can't think of a better compliment!

They had their morning faces on so the best I could do of a photo of them for the blog was as they were walking away, boring coffees in hand.

I spent Friday afternoon and evening on my CompuTrainer. Yes, no typos there. I climbed aboard at 2:30 and didn't get off until 8:40. That was a long time in the saddle for someone who hasn't done that sort of distance in a while. I needed it but my quads may beg to differ. I did the Canadian Ironman bike segment, all 111.22 miles (179 km). I was good for 80 miles but steadily faded after that. I'd like to hit the roads this spring in good form. I've been doing lots of lesser distance rides on it with my go-to ride being a 27-mile loop that I like to hit hard, usually racing against myself from previous performances. It's such a fun approach to indoor training.

Tammy was working in the office yesterday and I had no plans whatsoever. I treated Toby to a day with me and a road-trip to Red Wing and Lake City in search of some eagles along the Mississippi River bluffs. There weren't as many eagles out as I'd hoped to see but it what a nice surprise to find dozens of ice sailboats out zipping across Lake Pepin in preparation for an international competition that was to begin today, weather permitting. The conditions were fantastic yesterday for them; today, not so much.

Here's a collection of some photos I took as well as some video from the day.

I'd gotten chilled to the bone earlier in the day and nearly took a pass on taking in the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in St Paul last night but I found my mojo (and layers) and headed out. Lots of people and a little difficult to get around at times but it was a fun crowd. I spent my time trying to capture video from as many angles as I could but there was only so much I could do. People in the most prime spots were reluctant to let go of them and if they did leave, there was always a new row of people ready to take their place along the rail. Still, I managed to get enough to capture the feel of it.

I have no idea at all who won. It was just a day to go out and shoot video and enjoy this life I've been blessed with.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Funnin' in the Snow,

My countdown to retirement widget is registering 346 days remaining in my career but it's quite likely that I'll be adding another year onto that and shooting for a January 2015 date instead. It just makes good economic sense for us. We've got a couple of home improvement projects that I'd really like to accomplish before packing it in: a screen-porch and deck off the back of our home and new windows throughout the house. Did I mention that my truck is 12 years old? Oh, and there used to be a young woman who lived with us that I vaguely recall feeling a sense of obligation toward but I'm not sure what's become of her.

Anyway, I think another year on the boards can go a long way toward making good on those wants. We'll see.

We went out with friends yesterday afternoon and ventured into Minneapolis to tour the American Swedish Institute. (But before we left we made up some killer cups of coffee for the road. We're really enjoying our Keurig coffee maker!) I think I was expecting something a little more modern from the institute but still, it was interesting. It was fun just hanging out and taking it all in.

Photos from the tour.

I wrote here back in August about being disappointed that I didn't make a purchase at the Minnesota State Fair when I spied something I really liked, only to go back a few days later and find that the vendor was all sold out. After months of email-tag with the seller from their home in Texas, my much sought after sheet-metal dragonfly art finally arrived this week in a rather large box on our front step with an equally large price tag for shipping that I wasn't anticipating...$116! Yikes!

Oh well, I'm happy to have it hanging in our garage, keeping away any sheet-metal mosquitoes that might happen by.

I've been processing lots of videos with my MacBook Pro now that I'm back on my bike and using my GoPro camera on my rides. The video files from the camera get quite large so I purchased a 2 TB external hard-drive to store them. I had to laugh because I asked Tammy to guess how big the hard-drive was that I had on order. She guessed 10 GB. Haha—that was the size of my first desktop's hard-drive back in 1999. She's happy to depend on me for all of our computer-related needs and decisions.

I had a blast outdoors on my Mukluk on Friday. The temp was in the upper 30s with some sun and not much wind. Winter riding doesn't get much better. I left home intending to check out some gravel roads southwest between Lakeville and Prior Lake but opted for a couple of lakes not far from home instead. They had about an inch of snow covering them making for ideal conditions to play around in. And so I did! I hadn't had that much fun on a bike in a while. I was so overdue!

Being on the lakes was a lot of fun. No worries about flatting or traffic. Just ride.

As I exited Orchard Lake there were a couple of guys offloading a snowmobile who were eyeing my bike. The bike simply gets a lot of looks. We chatted just a bit and I told them that although I'm 55 years old, while I'm on this bike I'm only all of 15. They laughed.

I think I'll stick with my indoor training over the next day or two as we're looking at a high-temperature tomorrow of only -7. I see no reason to put up with that when I've got my CompuTrainer. Besides, my CompuTrainer thoroughly punishes me and often times I like to be punished! It's a cyclist thing.

Come ride with me...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I'm Back!

I received an email from a producer at KARE 11 a few days ago requesting permission to use the video I took last year of the Crashed Ice event in St Paul for one of their upcoming news segments. He was hoping I had the raw video file to use but unfortunately I don't. I gave him a link to the video on my Vimeo channel (since deleted because I was a bad boy) where he can download the HD version. He thinks he may be able to use it. Cool!

We're back to hit-or-miss slot times at Foci due to a cracked crucible in the main furnace—the new one. Not good. I'm hoping we'll find a way to get in there most weeks as I just don't like being away from it for very long. I need to keep progressing. I suppose this will give me a chance to begin working on developing my sandblasting skills on the days when we're not able to blow glass. That may be the silver lining in this for me. I think Tammy would like to try her hand at that as well.

I spent our time at Foci Thursday afternoon working on some simple two-gather vases with Tammy's help. They turned out okay but I'm feeling ready to step up my game by working with larger bowls and different forms as well as different color application techniques. I've got so much to learn.

My ant-farm is into its 15th day. I do believe we've lost a few ants since the last video but there's still much work being done. If you've got kids at home I think they'd really find this so fascinating. Here's a link to get you started.

It's been one year.

I'm done with my yearlong intimate experience with blood-thinners. My doctor gave me the okay on Tuesday to quit them, just shy of one full year of the therapy. I feel a great sense of happiness that I can stop them but at the same time, my elation is somewhat tempered knowing that I could easily end up on them again and if I do it will be for life. This is my one and only 2nd chance. Edit: I was right to be concerned.

I met with my hematologist on Friday to get her blessing as well. I asked if she plans to have scans of my lungs taken in 6 to 9 months to see if there are any more clots developing but she would rather not expose me to the radiation unless it's necessary. She wants to see me again at 3-month intervals with the caveat that if I sense there's anything not right to get in contact with her and that she will then order whatever tests would be necessary to rule out any of my concerns.

We talked about things I can do to minimize my chances of a re-occurrence. Staying hydrated being near the top of that list. I've always been so terrible at that so I've got to change. Staying active is also important to keep my blood flowing and not being allowed to pool and clot. Being active isn't much of a problem for me because it's what I do although I do worry about those times like this past month where my health isn't good and I'm not up to working out. I'm going to have to be sure I at least get on the treadmill and walk some. There are much worse problems in life to contend with.

Dr. Kubiak mentioned that there's a 17% chance I'll have another pulmonary embolism episode but rather than dwell on that number, focus on the other number. There's an 83% chance I won't. I like those odds better. She wants me to resume living my life as I was before.

I wasted little time getting back out on the road as soon as I figured the coumadin was sufficiently out of my blood. The weather wasn't so nice with drizzle and 37ยบ but I didn't mind much. It was just so nice to be out there mixing it up with traffic again. Well actually, it did take just a bit of getting used to having traffic to contend with. A far cry from my CompuTrainer where I'm totally free to disregard that aspect of riding.

I loved being on my Mukluk again. You can't see it in the video below but I'm absolutely smiling!

Suppress your desire to hit mute in the first 5 seconds because the accompanying music actually works quite nicely.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Is This Your Jesus?

I got a text from Tammy late Sunday morning just as I was getting to work and hurrying to find a cubicle for my laptop. She was at church working the information desk and had met a homeless couple who have been living out of their truck since last February. They spend much of their time hanging out at Walmart to stay warm in what's been a very frigid winter. Tammy said they were in need of at least a shower and a hot meal and she was wondering if I had any problem with her inviting them home to get them out of the cold for a few hours. My first reaction was a concern that she was maybe getting into more than she was prepared for and that I wouldn't be there to help. They were complete strangers to her. She assured me that everything would be okay. They were in their 50s and appeared a little mentally challenged she said—just simple people with very little to live on, trying to get by. There's no way I could or would say no.

They followed her home where she spent the next several hours waiting on them, cooking a meal for them and doing their laundry before sending them on their way. Tammy doesn't just talk the talk. It's who she is.

But keep it on the down-low that I said anything here. She didn't want me to mention it to anyone but then she seldom ever reads my blog so shhh.

I've heard some absurd things in my life but it's quite possible that I heard the most absurd thing ever from a cousin last week in a discussion on Facebook. That being that Jesus would be supportive of our gun culture in the United States.

Say what?

I kid you not.

This really troubles me because it's talk like that which only serves to give Christians a bad name and undermine everything that Jesus did in his time on earth. Considering how Christians have flocked to the Republican party in a disturbing display of ignorance, it now makes me embarrassed that I ever got a Christian fish tattooed on my ankle to signify my walk with Christ. I sometimes feel a need to defend myself in public for that decision, concerned that people will think I'm of the same mindset of the group that has co-opted the Christian faith and turned it into a political party.

I know that sounds harsh but it's how I've been feeling for too long. The run-up to the last election only worked to drive that point home for me, leaving me questioning so much about my faith and the church. Can we really worship the same God?

I'm curious, is this your Jesus?

It may come as a surprise but I'm not against all guns. I have no problem with people owning hunting rifles. I used to own a Winchester Model 94 years ago until I gave it away. It had no scope. If you were going to use it for hunting you actually had to have some hunting ability to get close enough to shoot something with it. Maybe that explains why I never shot anything. What I'm troubled by mostly is our society's attitude toward guns. Our embracing of them by so many in a most over-the-top way. It should trouble us all.

Moving on...

My ant-farm is in its 2nd week and thriving but there's just one problem: there's a short in the wire that powers the LED lights and so they are no more. It's too bad because I liked the look of the lights at night but I'm guessing that the ants like it just fine the way it is.