Monday, August 29, 2016

Birthdays and Being Seen

Some of the music in my iTunes library was missing artwork so the Virgo in me got busy and found the missing images. I feel better now.

Rachel and I celebrated birthdays last week—her 25th and my 59th! Tammy and I met Rachel and her friends at a bar in Rochester before going out with them to Jenpachi Japanese Steak House. We all sat in a semicircle around a grill and were dazzled by our chef as he tossed bowls full of rice behind his back and up over his head with flames shooting 3 feet in the air above the grill while adding knives and other tools of the trade to the items he was juggling. It was impressive!

A bottle of saki worked its way around our table and added to the fun. Best of all, Rachel really enjoyed herself. She has some good friends!

We made it to the State Fair on Friday and walked 11 miles around the fairgrounds. Still, that's nowhere near our record of 14 miles from a couple years ago. It was nice to make it back after not being able to go last year. And I escaped without having to buy a massage chair cushion for $300 that Tammy fell in love with when we stopped for a break. The vendor was reeling in the tired fish as fast as he could but we managed to get away. Whew!

I've had a couple close calls on my bike in the past few weeks where people have failed to see me which sent me reaching for a handful of brake to avoid them. It's all about being visible to people who are more focused on looking for cars rather than a cyclist. I've been using a Dinotte tail light for the past two years and like it a lot. It's so unlike any other blinking rear light I've seen because of how intense its light is. It's visible from 3 miles away and I know this because my brother Bryan and I tested it last fall on a long stretch of highway near Elko.

But my Dinotte rear light does nothing for those who are seeing the front of me. I've fixed that with a Specialized Stix array. It too is visible from a long way off. I'm feeling better about being seen. In a perfect world, I wouldn't need all of this extra clutter on my bike but I'm happy to play along if this is what it takes to stay safe.

I spent part of my birthday on a much needed longish ride. I commented on Facebook that 59 may be the age reflected on my driver's license but try telling that to the kid in me. I hope to never grow up and act my age.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It Was One Year Ago Tonight...

Tammy got us tickets to see Jonny James and the Hall of Fames, a Led Zeppelin tribute band playing at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre last Friday night. We had a rocking nice time. Led Zeppelin has been one of Tammy's favorite rock bands since her high school days so I was happy to make a date-night of it with her even though I'd have rather seen a Supertramp tribute band. Just kidding—no, actually, I'm serious if you really wanna know.

I've been getting out for some nice rides on my road bike and pushing myself more than I have in a while thanks to my Garmin 820 that I mentioned briefly in a previous post. There's so much gee-whiz stuff associated with this piece of technology that I'm still trying to get my head around it all. It's even got crash detection. If the unit is slammed hard so that it abruptly stops its forward movement, it will send a text message to Tammy (via BlueTooth connection with my LG G4) to tell her I'm in trouble. I don't honestly know how I feel about this. Before the text is sent out I have 30 seconds (or thereabouts) to cancel it in case it's a false alarm. Between that feature and a new tracking feature on Strava she'll be able to rest assured that I'm still on the move and doing okay.

I'm mostly enjoying the Live Segments on my Garmin 820. Live Segments are a Strava feature incorporated with the data I receive out on the road from my Garmin. The segments allow me to compete against my previous best time or the previous bests of others on a segment of highway or trail that someone has identified and labeled. It used to be that I wouldn't be able to see how my segment times compared until I got home and uploaded the data to Strava. Now I can instantaneously see on my Garmin 820 how my current segment time compares with my previous best, the previous best of friends I'm connected with on Strava and the overall best time of some unknown (to me) rider who gets to brag that they're the KOM—King of the Mountain! It's great motivation.

Golfing has been going well and I'm staying injury-free so I'm very pleased about that. I've signed up to play in the retirees tournament in Farmington in two weeks. I'm looking forward to it.

I left home early Saturday morning to meet up with Tyler at the Cuyuna mountain bike trails 2.5 hours north in Crosby near Lake Mille Lacs. The trails are a lot of fun but they're mostly two-way so you have to check your speed some, especially in the corners (watch the video below to see what I'm referring to). We did 32 miles of trails and still didn't hit them all.

I stopped to fill up at a Holiday station south of Lake Mille Lacs on the way home and as I was walking back to my car I had a near-miss with a fellow controller, Brian Jones who was headed toward a pump to fill up on his way back home from his cabin. It's such a small world sometimes. He was pulling a trailer loaded with plants. We chatted for a while and I assured him I'd be at the next "team meeting" at the local pub in Farmington near work where the guys meet weekly on Wednesdays at 2:30—but I've since become part of a foursome that's teeing off at 2:32 Wednesday afternoon, so...

The red clay from the Cuyuna trails leaves a telltale sign that you've been riding there and I'm never in a hurry to wash it off—sorta like guys in their 4-wheelers who go mudding and aren't in a hurry to clean the mud off their trucks.

It was one year ago tonight and more accurately, one year ago to the hour as I write this that I was likely leaving for work and my final shift as an air traffic controller, not realizing it would be my last. I'd wake up from the all-night shift to work in the yard that afternoon and it was there that I first noticed there was a problem with my hearing. My mother was in her last weeks of life and we were still adjusting to having Tammy's mother live with us and all that that entailed. We had so much coming at us from all directions. Those were some difficult times but we managed by taking it one day at a time; maybe that's why I'm now enjoying my retired life to its fullest. Tammy isn't quite there yet but she will be soon.

Time to walk the pups!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Walking Away and Keith McKay

The plan for this morning is to get on my Shaman and head for the trails at Murphy but my legs are saying "not yet, please". Instead, I'll sit on the deck with the sounds of trash hauling trucks working the neighborhood and a woodpecker relentlessly trying to achieve its goal a few backyards away. A lone hummingbird darts into view and catches my eye to momentarily drink from a feeder before speeding away. There's both a low overcast keeping the sun at bay and a light breeze working in my favor. The only thing in need of my attention will be our deck plants that require daily watering but they can wait a little longer.

As I mentioned before, Tammy and I have found a new church home at Family of Christ in Lakeville. She had the women from their book club over last night to discuss their most recent read: Two Old Women. The church appeals to us both but my concern is mostly for Tammy because a church family is so important to her. She had that too at Hosanna but she was becoming continually more and more disappointed in the way too many there were being sucked into right-wing republican politics that bare such little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus. We both feel bad about that. These are good, caring people but the prevailing mob mentality there left little room for an opposing view. She had been biting her tongue for a long time but finally had enough and walked away.

Family of Christ is simply a much better fit for us both. Hosanna, where we'd been members since 1999, will soldier on just fine without us and our misguided left-leaning tendencies to be inclusive of everybody—kinda the way Jesus would want it (I think).

I honestly didn't imagine I'd ever involve myself in organized religion ever again after my fallout from Hosanna nearly 4 years ago. That experience left me so disillusioned with the entire process that I wanted nothing to do with it anymore. I was fine with Tammy continuing on but she would have to go-it-alone, and she did until recently. It feels nice to be sitting beside her in church again but I'm still too quick to take a pass and go riding instead. God and I talk a lot together while I'm on my bike.

Keith McKay was back in town. Keith and I worked together 20 years ago when he was a controller at Minneapolis Center before transferring to Albuquerque Center. I'd recently gotten in touch with him last Thanksgiving and we've since connected through Facebook and texts. It's nice having him in my life again. We used to ride together back in the day and once teamed up in a triathlon where the swimming leg was a 2-person canoe leg instead. I remember us portaging his canoe from where he lived in Burnsville along the sidewalk to Crystal Lake not quite a mile away for the few paddling workouts we did in the weeks leading up to the race.

A few of us met with Keith at the Hard Rock Cafe in Mall of America Tuesday night to reminisce about the old days and do some catching up. There was one story in particular about a DQ run for ice cream that stood out but I won't go into that here. Funny stuff!

I rode with Keith and some others (mostly Keith's family) Thursday for an easy-paced ride along the paved trails into St Paul. We had hoped to ride the river bottoms but heavy rain just before our ride kept us on more firm footing. Keith will be back in town in October and we hope to do some more riding together then.

And speaking of riding—my legs have just given me the go-ahead to fuel up and make tracks for Murphy.

God—are you listening? I've got some things to run by you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I Need a Vacation From My Retirement!

I posted to Facebook last night before going to bed: "I think I need a vacation from my retirement. Is that possible?". I can't seem to get enough of a good thing and find myself as active as I'd ever imagined I could be in retirement. Each night when my head hits the pillow I'm exhausted and pretty much nod off within minutes if not seconds. I recall having thoughts of getting a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard not that long ago but as much as I'd like to, I don't see how I could fit those activities into my routine. I'd have to cut back on my golfing, biking or walking and I'd rather not. It's a nice problem to have.

We finally made it down to Rochester to meet up with Rachel to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Thursdays on First and 3rd. The weather could've been nicer (it was drizzling) but we still enjoyed our time together.

Tammy and I celebrated 17 years of marriage a few days ago. We like to tell others that we're pioneers of the internet dating scene. Several years ago I wrote about how our lives came to be one: here's a link to that 4 part series. There was little to no hesitation then nor would there be today if either of us had it to do all over again.

I have one more session with my physical therapist for my golf injury before she turns me loose. This has been by far the most beneficial PT I've ever done. Lana has been so helpful in getting me back on the course again. The injury would've healed all on its own but she's helped me with stretches and a better setup to help prevent a recurrence. There are no guarantees but I feel I'm so much better off from her guidance.

My Garmin Edge 705 has served me well for more than 7 years and it's still working fine but I've taken the leap into the newest generation of cyclo-computer technology and am now the proud owner of a Garmin Edge 820. These little gadgets have come a long way since the days when I first began riding seriously and wanted to track my mileage. Where it all began for me.

I've only had it out on the road for two rides but I couldn't be more impressed with the data it's providing me. I'll talk more about it in a later post after I've had a chance to become more familiar with it. I know y'all can't wait for that!

Last Friday I took part in the annual Sick Leave Open golf tournament at Montgomery National Golf Club. The tournament organizer (one of the guys I used to work with—Ken Sargent) gives special consideration in the form of a reduced entry fee to any controller taking a sick-day to participate. I'm not sure if anyone qualified for the reduced rate this year because for most of us participating, our sick-leave days are behind us.

I was informed just as soon as I arrived with my clubs loaded onto my pushcart that nobody has ever not ridden a cart in the tournament. They can no longer say that.

I had a blast!

I was teamed up with Pat Parker and Lyle Madsen. We did well. We tied for 1st but through a predetermined 'scorecard playoff' we had to settle for 2nd place. I snagged the prize for the longest putt made. I'll definitely be a regular at this event in years to come and yes, I'll be pushing my cart as long as I'm able to.

I better run. I've got another full day ahead of me. A dental appointment followed by a round of golf at Crystal Lake and then I'll be hurrying to meet up with Keith McKay (we worked together years ago but he's now in El Paso, Texas) and a few others at Mall of America for dinner and maybe a beverage or two.