Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Faith Walk and Talk and Some Funny Stuff!

I got a message on my Droid yesterday alerting me to a shipment I'd be receiving from Amazon: Mechanical Bull has shipped and is due to arrive on Tuesday. Say what? What did I or Tammy inadvertently place an order for? I've never ridden a mechanical bull and I'm not about to start now, besides, we don't have room for one! Cruising Facebook a few hours later I see a post from Kings of Leon. Mechanical Bull hits the stores today! That explains it. I'd pre-ordered the CD but didn't remember the title. I'm listening to it now on my Amazon Cloud Player. So far, so very good!

We finally made it back to Foci last Thursday for the first time in more than two months but we only stayed an hour. There's a crack in the crucible we gather from and because of that, the glass level is much lower than usual, meaning, it get's really hot when you try and reach in to gather glass. Tammy, not being very tall is at a real disadvantage. I made a couple of tumblers before we decided to call it quits early and wait a week to give it another go. It was nice to be back on the bench again though. Our glassblowing took a backseat this summer to so many other things going on in our lives, mostly our home addition but now that its complete I think we'll be finding ourselves at Foci much more regularly again.

I'm giving up my coveted Friday/Saturday days off at the salt mine in exchange for Thursday/Friday and expect to ride this schedule into retirement. I'll be working with some younger controllers which will be a nice change. These days off will actually work better for me in many regards, especially riding. It's nuts out there on Saturdays. I'll take a Thursday or Friday morning over a Saturday morning for riding any day.

Speaking of riding, I ventured out for a longish 105 mile ride Saturday afternoon doing my Lakeville to Rogers loop, a loop I haven't done in at least two years. I found a nice rhythm on the way up to Rogers but lost it on the way home in a barrage of stoplights along my route as I made the mistake of coming home by way of Minneapolis. I captured some video but had to delete a good portion of it when I noticed that the memory card in my GoPro was full halfway into the ride. I opted for less resolution to allow me to capture a few more scenes for some video of the ride.

I had hoped going into this Spring that my riding wouldn't get in the way of the long walks I'd grown to love last year when I was forced off my bike but regrettably, those walks have been far too few. I did get out yesterday afternoon, though, for a few hours covering much of western Lakeville. It was so nice to be out walking but it's also nice being on my bike and that's my dilemma. I'm certain the problem will resolve itself once I'm retired.

As I was putting in the last couple miles of my walk I was approached by two Mormons doing mission work, wondering if I knew about Jesus Christ. I assured them I did and they followed up with some more questions about my faith. I invited them to walk along with me and we shared our faith story with each other. I told them that I was church-less and why, which I suppose was like throwing red meat to a dog. They, of course, wanted to get my phone number so they could follow up with me. I told them that I felt no prompting at all to pursue the Mormon faith but gave them my phone number anyway and said it would be fine if they wanted to get in touch with me. We only ever have missionaries of two faiths that will on a very rare occasion send people to knock on our door: Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. We always invite them in to talk.

The updated Google Maps Street View is out for our area. It was a little over a year ago that I spied the Google car photographing our neighborhood but I was too late to get in the photos although I did try. I had seen the car parked down the street and wondered if he'd already passed by. He apparently had because I'm nowhere to be seen in the new photos although in the old photos I could be seen standing in our driveway by my mower.

I came across some really funny stuff online this past week. They're videos put out by a woman who lives in Australia and she has a knack for finding humor in ordinary life experiences. With some nice editing, she's able to play all of the characters in her videos. This humor really works for me. Okay...she's cute too! Not for sensitive ears though.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let Fall Begin!

It's been a nice, lazy, relaxing day at home. We had plans to spend the afternoon at the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee but I had to cancel so I can give my body a chance to recover from some aches I acquired over the past few days beginning with a fall onto some landscape rocks on the side of our house. A fall that no doubt must've looked hilarious or painful or both had anyone been there to witness it. I had my Husqvarna trimmer in hand as I walked back toward the garage to put it away when suddenly my feet came out from under me and I fell on my right side bruising at least a couple ribs. I think I tripped over some landscape edging but I'm not sure. I got up, a little stunned and noticed that my trimmer fared worse than I did as it's now in need of a new handle.

Tammy was concerned because of my Factor V Leiden condition and the risk of clotting from an impact such as that but what can I do?

I didn't let my sore ribs deter me from my main project this weekend although I probably should have. It's a project I've been wanting to tackle for at least the last few weeks but one I easily procrastinate about. It seems simple enough; putting a screen mesh around the perimeter of our sun-porch and deck to serve as a leaf barrier so leaves don't get caught underneath the structures and decay. Antonio, who did the brickwork around our sun-porch told me that decaying leaves become awful smelly and to be sure to do something before the fall season. So I did. The job was a lot tougher than it looked.

What the video doesn't show is how tight it became for me under there. My stomach is full of bruises from crawling over rocks with little to no room to maneuver. I'm not claustrophobic but I had a couple of tense moments under there. More than once I thought about Rachel's boyfriend, Tony, and how I'd have loved to have paid him to do the crawling for me because I think he may be even a little skinnier than me. My bruised ribs made the job a lot more difficult than it otherwise would've been but it's done now and I'm pleased that it is. Let fall begin!

I called Mom a couple days ago to see how her eye doctor appointment went. It was a good-news-bad-news conversation she had with him. The good news is that her eye is healing nicely but the bad news is that because of the four surgeries the eye has endured, the likelihood that she'll recover her sight in it is not so good. Understandably she was very dejected realizing that with the loss of her sight in one eye along with orders by her doctor not to drive, she was facing a permanent loss of independence. The thought of having to depend on others (mostly my brother Tim who lives with her) is distressing. I'll need to do more to be there for her as are others.

Surprisingly, her outlook had changed quite a lot when I spoke with her yesterday. She'd talked with a neighbor who has a friend who is also in her 80s and blind in one eye but still drives herself around. Hearing that has given her hope that she too will be able to resume driving before too long.

Tammy and I looked online to find that nearly all states allow for one-eyed drivers. Interestingly, the website states "that outside of about 20 feet, everybody sees the world as if they only had one eye." But it's her peripheral vision that concerns me most. I did a little test with myself out on the road and found that I'm definitely at a disadvantage with only one eye while driving but not nearly as disadvantaged as someone behind the wheel with their head down in their cellphone. Tammy suggested I take Mom out for a drive when she's ready and see how she does. I think that's a good place to start when she's ready.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tune-ups, Adrift and a Pool Solution

There's a ballroom dance team at Stony Brook University and Rachel couldn't be happier. She met with them Thursday night for the first time and called us afterward, all pumped that there are so many talented people in the group. She was most excited about an offer she accepted from one of their dancers to be his partner in an upcoming competition. He's really good too she said so that kind of tells me that she must've made an impression on him at least. This is such an important part of her life and who she is. I love that she will always be a dancer. I just don't see her ever not being involved in dance.

She's still without a set of wheels other than her bike(s). She's frustrated that the only convenient place to park her bike near her dorm at SBU is within range of a lawn sprinkler that routinely sprays all of the bikes in the rack causing them to prematurely rust. My guess is that some of the bikes in the rack have been abandoned but still, it's not right. She's talked with the staff there but they say there's nothing they can do.

She manages to get around really well in Rochester on her bike and is even able to bring home bags of groceries now that it's been outfitted with fold-out baskets on the back. I know she'd like to have a car but it's just not in our budget nor is it in hers. She asked me if I could give her bike a tune-up while she's out in NYC so I had her bring it home. I got around to it today, setting up shop out in the garage and driveway. There was so much sludge built up on the pulleys of the rear derailleur but they're all clean now as is the rest of her bike.

It's around this time of year that we begin organizing our small group meetings for church at our home but I was telling Tammy the other day that I'm just not feeling like doing it anymore. I don't think that came as a surprise to her as this is just an extension of me pulling back entirely from any sort of organized religion. I haven't even ventured back into my Bible since late last year after finishing my 7th reading of it. I still have my faith but I'm feeling so adrift in my relationship with the church. I want no part of it anymore after my email exchange with the business-man-posing-as-pastor, Bill Bohline last fall.

I got out yesterday for 82 miles in some hot and humid conditions. With all of the construction that's accompanied our home improvement project this spring and summer, my mileage is only about half of what it typically is but that's okay; there's always next year. Video from my ride and a link to it on Strava.

The news lately is all about Syria and the use of chemical weapons on the country's people by its dictator and what should the US do about it if anything? I don't pretend to know. In my view, there's no good answer because whatever side we support will eventually turn on us. Who can't help but feel for the innocent people, especially the children caught up in the atrocities occurring there? I came across the video below a few days ago and my thoughts turned to the children of Syria and how they should know this sort of life, this sort of peaceful happiness.

I recalled a friend at work telling me about a vacation he took to Mexico with his family years ago. There was such a diverse mix of vacationers at the resort where they were staying and he found himself in a game of water volleyball surrounded by people unlike him and how they were all having so much fun together.

Is it too simplistic to think that many of our planet's problems could maybe be solved if we'd put our leaders together in a pool with a net and throw them a ball? No keeping score; just enjoy each other's company.

Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming. It's just that the way we're going about fixing our collective problems isn't working so well and we all need to do better.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

This Was to be the Day

Today was to have been my last day as an air traffic controller. I was to come in this morning, turn in my headset, sign my retirement papers and be on my way because I'd turned 56 the previous month (mandatory retirement age for controllers). But because of some time spent in Flight Service early on in my career (Flight Service was then one of three control options within the FAA) I have a waiver to work as long as I want. The exception makes no sense to me but I'm not questioning it. I think I'll hang around a little longer with no apologies to the few that are troubled by this.

When we were out in NYC last week we stopped at a Verizon store where Rachel and I upgraded our phones to the Droid Maxx which was just released. I haven't yet taken the time to sit down with mine and become totally familiar with it but so far I like what I've seen. It moves between applications and web pages very fast which had become a real problem with my two-year-old Droid Bionic. The battery life of the Maxx is the best I've seen. We were out at the State Fair on Thursday and in the eight hours we were there I was on my phone a good amount sharing texts and photos with Rachel. I got on the bus to come home and I still had 84% of battery life left! Super!

The State Fair was fun as usual but wow was it hot and humid. We did our best to avoid the hot sun and we were happy to see it go down. That's when it really got nice!

And with the closing of the fair, the end of summer is surely in sight. I'm actually looking forward to autumn with its cooler temps and hopefully a little rain—but not the falling leaves.

Our sun-porch and deck project is now complete and all that remains to be done is for us to furnish it. We're working on that. We've picked out a 10 x 13 rug to cover most of the beautiful tile work Brian did for us. Having the rug down should go a long way toward eliminating the echos we're getting from the space. We've picked out a sofa and loveseat but we're not all that keen on the fabric colors we've chosen. Karen, who has walked every step of the design process on this project with us offered to accompany us this afternoon when we go back to the furniture store to consider some other colors. We're so grateful for her help!

Rachel has started her own blog titled PersonalPostcard. It's something she's been considering doing for a while so I'm glad she finally got around to putting it together and penning her first post. I'll be curious to see what direction she takes it and how it evolves over time. I'm sure I'd love to comment on all of her posts but I'll try and show some restraint.

I came across something online yesterday that has me intrigued; it's called an ElliptiGO. I was a runner for years but I had to abandon that activity I loved so much because of the damage it was doing to my knees. I also really enjoy working out on our elliptical machine. Combine my love of running, our elliptical machine and my love of riding and it would seem that the ElliptiGO would be the perfect fit. I see one in my future but I think I'll wait until I actually do retire because I'm not sure where I'd find the time to use it.

I've also been toying with the idea of getting a kayak and a new set of golf clubs. I'm not sure that even retirement will provide me with enough hours in the day to do all that I'm dreaming of but I look forward to finding out. Until then, I'm content to keep doing what I'm doing and trying to cram it all into what limited time I have.