Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Hi, Kevin"

I was in Fleet Farm last week when the guy running the register for the line I was checking out in said "Hi, Kevin" before it was even my turn to pay for my things. I know him? I wondered as I studied his face. A quick but obvious glance at his name tag followed. Hey, Doug, how are you? He looked familiar but I was thinking he was someone other than who he was. Then he mentioned my x-wife and it dawned on me who he actually was. It had been probably close to 25 years since I had last seen Doug. Both his wife and my former wife are Thai and we'd occasionally get together. I'm not sure I'd have recognized him if he hadn't made the connection first. We chatted just a bit before he had to resume his work and I walked out to my car.

I was back in Fleet Farm a few days ago (it's my most frequented store) and made a point of checking out in Doug's line again. He asked if I had time for a rather "funny request". I said sure. His wife and Noy talk regularly and he wanted to know if it would be okay if he took my photo to send to her. I looked at the lady behind me in line and smiled and said it's okay with me if she doesn't mind. She assured us it would be okay. I took off my hat, tried to quickly fix my hair and that was that. Smile. Click!

I haven't seen Noy since the spring of 2006 when her son Joe was in town to move her out to the San Francisco area. I believe she's still out there. For a long time, it was my hope that both her sons would come into town one day with her and we would get together for lunch. We shared a lot of memories and our parting should've been on better terms than it was. I would've liked that but I no longer feel the need. Perhaps I gave up on it.

I've lost touch with both Dave and Joe. No doubt they're on Facebook but with the last name of Smith, it's next to impossible to find them. I think it's safe to say that they can find me if they desire to. I wish them all the best that this world has to give. They're good people deserving of that.

I'm sitting here listening to Adele's new CD, 25. It's nice to hear her voice again. I can't say the new stuff did much for me when I first heard it but it's growing on me nicely as I listen to it for the 3rd time.  "I Miss You" and "River Lea" stand out for me the most.

I finally got back on my Shaman fat-bike after having been off of it for a month. It was at Freewheel Bikes waiting on parts (rims) to arrive for conversion to tubeless wheels. I also had the RockShox front suspension upgraded so it will still function when the temps drop to where normal (read: sane) people don't ride.

I was told that I'd definitely notice a difference between tubed and tubeless tires but honestly, I can't say I do. I think that has more to do with the amount of pressure I'm running in the front suspension. The mechanic set it up to be less stiff than I'm used to but I'm actually liking the new feel so I haven't changed it. Tubeless tires will lessen my risk of flatting due to a sealant (mine is rated for sub-zero temps) added through the valve stem. The sealant is there to fill any punctures that might happen.

I made it down to the river twice in the last week and can feel that I've lost some of my form but that's okay; getting it back gives me something to do over the winter months.

I've recently begun working out on my Concept 2 rowing machine again. It's sat idle the past couple of years with promises from me of becoming a part of my routine once I'm retired. It's time. I love the workout it gives but it's so punishing. Getting my rowing form back is gonna hurt but hurt I must!

Here's some video from yesterday's ride with Hynek.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Redefining Jesus

I knew I'd eventually come around to thinking what I've heard from so many retirees before me: how did I ever accomplish all that stuff I did and still work a 40 hour week? I look back on all I used to do in the course of a week and I can't help but be impressed. But I do not want to go back to those days. This new routine is much more reasonable and appealing although it does at times lack in its ability to leave me with a sense of accomplishment. I'll manage.

The sun sets so early now that there's little time to waste even in the morning putzing online or whatever because the afternoon soon arrives followed by darkness all too quickly.

I spent the weekend working outside putting up holiday lights and mowing the lawn one last time to vacuum up leaves.  I'm pretty happy with the progress I made. The mowers have been washed and put away and I've got the snowblower positioned in its winter spot in the garage ready for use. Bring on the snow!

I posted this question to my Facebook wall Sunday morning on the heels of the terrorist attack by ISIS in Paris, France: "If we're unapologetically ready to go and wage war on ISIS, to answer violence with violence, can we truly say we're followers of Jesus?"

I asked it because I'm uncomfortably perplexed when I listen to our conservative politicians as they wave their bibles around for us all to see (literally and figuratively) while at the same time talking about how we need to get boots on the ground in Syria to kill and defeat ISIS. Perhaps they're just holding up the Old Testament but I don't think so.

What happened to the words of Jesus imploring us to love our enemies, not kill them? Were those just words that made for a good soundbite back in the day but were never intended to be taken seriously in today's world? I'm actually fine with people saying they disagree with what Jesus said. It's a free world. Jesus also taught that what we do to the least of these we do to him.

It's pretty simple stuff, really.

Yet, republican presidential candidates and republican state governors are making clear their intentions to seal our borders to any Syrian refugees who are trying to flee the terrors of Islamic State out of fear that a terrorist may slip through and inflict suffering on us. I get that but in our country, which sees a similar amount of loss of life as was seen in Paris last Friday every two days due to gun violence, their concerns of terrorism fail to move my "scared" needle one iota. If I have any fear at all it's fear of a "good guy with a gun",  not fear of a terrorist.

It's disturbing to watch pretty much every republican presidential candidate declare their allegiance to Jesus and then in the next breath say something totally antithetical to his teachings while being applauded by a roomful of (most likely) Christians.

We've redefined what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I own no moral high-ground in this but if you're going to oppose same-sex marriage based on one verse in the Old Testament while totally ignoring the many teachings of Jesus to love your enemies and care for the least among us, I trust you'll understand why I'm bewildered.

We either follow his words or we leave Jesus out of the discussion. That's what I'm really trying to say.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Brief Scare, A YouTube Encounter and Veteran's Day Thoughts

That little fall I took off my bike in the video I posted last week proved to be more problematic than it may have looked. I suffered bruised ribs and the pain I experienced only worsened over the next few days to the point where I went to the ER at Ridges Hospital Sunday night out of concern that I had developed a clot and was experiencing another PE (pulmonary embolism). I wasn't. 

The nurse practitioner didn't think I had anything to worry about with respect to another PE because I'm anticoagulated so she ordered an x-ray to check for a punctured lung. The results were negative and as we were discussing the findings I mentioned my Factor V condition as being the reason for my increased concern. She said she didn't realize I was Factor V (I mentioned it to the person checking me in) and ordered a CT scan. She said a Factor V situation changes her protocol. The CT scan was clear and I was relieved. I texted Tammy to put her mind at ease. A little after midnight (4 hours later) I was on my way home with some quality meds to give me some relief from the pain so I could get through that night and a few more if needed.

I'd never experienced a bruised rib that got worse a few days later but it dawned on me that all of the sneezing and coughing I'd been doing from my head cold was stressing the injury. It makes sense but I needed to eliminate a PE as the cause. I just can't afford to be too careful when it comes to this sort of thing.

I received the following comment on a YouTube video I had posted in September which showed me getting a shot of steroid in my inner ear for my hearing loss:

"I'm having this procedure done tomorrow and then two other times. Thank you for sharing this video as I was very nervous about having this done. However at this point, with little to no hearing in my left ear I'm ready to try anything! Friday morning I woke up with a ringing in my ear and then within 4 hours I have no hearing in the ear. Was able to get into an ENT that day and he started me on antibiotics that very day. Time is very important when it comes to SSHL."

I love this sort of thing about the net—how we can connect with people in ways we never could before. I left her a reply to help allay any fears she may have about the procedure and also offer some encouragement.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day. I'm no longer the patriotic guy I once was but I do look back on those 4 years with fondness as they were some of the most carefree and enjoyable years of my life. I grew up a lot through that experience and learned more than ever that for all of the similarities I shared with my shipmates, I had just as many differences. It was quietly, internally focusing on the differences that allowed me to get in touch with the real me and experience some self-respect that I had been lacking to that point. No doubt the many hours I spent in the saddle in the Southern California sun in the hills east of San Diego was a great backdrop for those reflective moments.

I'm still winding my way through this life and learning about myself. I never want to get to the point where I feel I'm so set in my ways that any additional searching is a waste of time.  That's the beauty of this life. Hopefully, we never stop evolving and learning and being curious. I promise not to stop. Ever.

I'll leave you with this from David Baerwald: Stranger

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Mini Reunion, LG G4 it is and an Embarrassing Fall

I hate colds! Tammy has been dealing with one for the past week so I knew I too would soon be. It always plays out the same for me—one minute I'm fine and the next I can feel a sore throat coming on. After a day the sore throat is gone and the sneezing, coughing, and congestion take over. They're such a waste of time.

I got together with some retired controllers a few days ago. I met Jeff Ofthsun, Ed Whitman, and Dan Abbene at Red Cross in St Paul where they were donating blood. They get together once every couple of months, donate blood then go out to lunch together. Jeff has a list of restaurants on a folded piece of paper that he's crossing off as they visit them. They offered up a few choices to consider and had me choose. I picked Burger Moe's. It was a nice enough day that we could comfortably sit outside on the patio. Not bad for November! No photo of us all. Perhaps next time.

Time passes so quickly. Jeff has been retired for over 8 years, Ed for about 6 and Dan for more than 3 years. They kept referring to me as "rookie". It fits.

Rachel and I went out and finally pulled the trigger on some new phones. Her Motorola Maxx had become more frustrating than it was worth because it kept shutting off unless it was plugged in or nearly fully charged. Mine wasn't nearly that bad but had a strange habit of rebooting itself throughout the day with no prompt from me.

We settled on LG G4 phones with 32 GB of storage but with the ability to add up to (I think) 200 GB of additional storage. The battery is also accessible so it can be replaced on the go with a fresh one if needed. But the real reason we decided on this brand and model was for its camera and the ability to use the camera in manual mode, something none of the others offered. All of the reviews on the phone's camera I could find spoke very highly of it. My first priority for any cellphone has become its ability to take photos. Any previous phones I've owned have all been lacking in their ability to take photos in low light conditions. I took the photo to the right of Rachel in manual mode without any additional edits. No, it's not as nice as what my Panasonic Lumix can do but it's so much better than any of my previous phones.

The only drawback I can see in the few days I've had the phone is its battery. It's no better or worse than the other phones I was considering (based on reviews I'd read) but it's noticeably not as long-lasting as I'm used to. I suppose that's maybe a tradeoff for having a stronger processor doing its thing inside.

The hacktivist group Anonymous released the names of 500 KKK members and their Facebook and Googleprofiles. I spent some time this morning looking at some of the people on the list and their social media pages. There's not much shame in a lot of these people in what they put out there for others to see although many of the Facebook accounts on the list have been deactivated. Here's the list.

Yesterday morning's ride didn't start out so well. I didn't notice a layer of condensation on our newly sealed driveway and a lean onto the street that I've done at least a 1000 times had me on my butt so fast but up again just as fast in case anybody was watching. I'm sporting a nice abrasion below my right hip and a bruised rib but other than that I'm fine, with the exception of this annoying head-cold!