Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Like Turtles

I was walking Charlie the other day when we came across a memorial to a recently departed pup along our route. I never knew his name until seeing his memorial but he was Toby's favorite of any of the pups we'd routinely encounter. Toby would get up next to the fence and survey the yard for Snoop, and if he was out, Snoop would come by and mark a few spots along the fence while our pups would respond in kind. It was sad to learn that Snoop had died.

We've been trying to get to the dog park nightly with Charlie. He enjoys his time there as do we. It's great socializing for all involved—pups and their owners. This little guy had us all laughing! He would take his tennis ball and bring it over to various people for them to throw it for him. If they didn't notice him at their feet or if they weren't fast enough, he'd bark to hurry them along. He was so funny to watch.

I went out for a longish walk on Father's Day on a route I hadn't taken in maybe two years. I noticed a snapping turtle laying eggs next to the bike/walking path of a busy highway. I quickly took a photo, trying not to disturb her then continued on my walk while saying a small prayer for her and her offspring. It's what I do. There's more to the story.

I walked by Mom and Tim's old townhome and noticed it was for sale. I stopped and chatted with some neighbors who were sitting at a picnic table in their garage kitty-corner to my mom's old home—neighbors I'd known through Tim. They said the home sold in only three days. We talked a little about Tim and my mom. Berta commented that Tim was the nicest guy. Duane mentioned my brother Keith and how they used to shoot pool together for years on Wednesday nights but that was many years ago. Berta then commented that she was diagnosed with melanoma cancer two and a half years ago and that they've stopped treatment. It's hard to know what to say to someone when they tell you that, other than, "I'm so sorry".

It was three years ago yesterday that we learned Tim had died from colon cancer. It was such a sad, unreal scene. I have to admit; the thought crosses my mind rather regularly about if and when it will be my turn to face this most difficult news.

My trusty GoPro Hero 4 became not so trustworthy. It was shutting down for no apparent reason and I could no longer depend on it to capture ride video. I've had my eye on a GoPro Hero 7 Black for a while with its built-in stabilization feature, so with a few hours of research (to make sure this was the camera for me), I purchased one. I tried it for the first time on last Tuesday's TNG ride with the guys out of Northfield. I couldn't have been more impressed with it. (See video embedded below.)

The battery life is only a little more than half of my previous GoPro and I'm quite sure that's due to the amount of processing that's happening within the camera while it records. I get around an hour and fifteen minutes of recording time with it vs. a little less than two hours with my previous model. I don't mind. With my Hero 4, I would always have to smooth the video with my iMovie editor to try and eliminate whatever shakiness I could but with my Hero 7, I don't have to touch it. It renders itself smoother than anything iMovie could do for my old camera. It's very impressive! I don't know how well it will work on the singletrack trails at Murphy but I hope to give it a try later this week and find out.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Hail Damage? Charlie Isn't Himself, and Digging Deep

A construction company rep came by our home recently when I was out working in our yard and asked if it would be okay if he went up on our roof to look for hail damage from a storm one year ago. I told him I was fairly certain he wouldn't find anything because none of our flower gardens were damaged in the storm. He still wanted to have a look and I told him that would be fine. He found me a half hour later and showed me some photos he took of what he said was hail damage but what looked to me like 21-year-old shingles. He wanted to file a claim on our behalf. I gave him our insurance company info and within 5 minutes the ball was rolling on a claim for a new roof. I phoned our insurance agent a few days later and told him that a new roof would be nice but the claim I filed wasn't my idea and that if their inspection showed no hail damage, I was fine with that. My insurance company sent a claim adjuster out to have a look and they actually agreed that our roof had suffered damage. They were willing to replace it for the cost of our deductible. I didn't see that coming.

A team of 7 guys came out last week and worked 12 hours straight (with the exception of about a 20-minute lunch break) to finish the job in one day and ahead of a soaking rain the next day. We're pleased with how it looks. Our new roof even came with a rainbow!

Charlie hasn't been himself since Toby's passing. Tammy figured his seeming sadness was most likely him picking up on our sadness of losing both her mother and Toby but it still continues more than 4 weeks later. He used to love going for walks but not so much now. Often times he's ready to turn for home after just a few blocks. He's never done that before. I'm hoping it's something that will pass. We've been taking him to Alimagnet dog park in Burnsville and hanging out with him in the small-dogs section that's fenced off from the main park. We'll sometimes take him for a walk outside the fenced area. He's fine as long as I'm with him but if he's only with Tammy, she said he will sit and howl, not at all interested in walking. He never acted this way when Toby was with him.

I've only had my road bike out once this year, having fallen in love with gravel riding. Tammy has commented to me more than once that she's glad I'm riding gravel and not mixing it up with distracted drivers on the road. I anticipate that I'll still manage my share of paved highways miles this year but the lure of them isn't what it once was for me.

I've been riding with the Cannon Valley Velo Club on Tuesday nights in Northfield on their TNG (Tuesday Night Gravel) rides. I had no idea when I accepted my friend Dave's invitation to join them what I was getting myself into, and I mean that in a good way. These guys push the pace and cause me to dig deep at times to stay in the pack. Last Tuesday night was off-the-charts fun! The ride was advertised as "about 16 mph (26 kph) ride average"—a reasonable pace for a good workout. Ha! It was a hammer-fest out there and we finished our ride having averaged 19.5 mph (31.4 kph). That's flying for gravel. There were several times when I was on the rivet but managed to hang on (thanks for the pull, Lee) and remain with the pack. I like that when I toe-the-line with these guys at the start of a ride, I'm a little anxious about my ability to hang, to keep up. I'm getting stronger, tho, and I'm determined to continue to do so. This is truly more fun than a guy my age is supposed to be having.

The video below is from yesterday's ride where I struggled to stay connected on the hills with legs that weren't answering the call for more power. Bruce, Tim, and Todd were kind enough to soft-pedal for me so I could catch on again and again. I was thoroughly whipped after 5 hours and 77 miles (124 km) of riding. I kept reminding myself of the saying, something about that which doesn't kill me...

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Which Would You Choose?

I was just two weeks shy of my 17th birthday when Richard Nixon resigned the office of the Presidency in August 1974. I can still see images in my head of the Senate hearings that led to his downfall playing out on our TV but honestly, I didn't follow it all that closely. I was too busy learning how to shotgun beers and trying not to sabotage my life beyond repair than I was concerned about current events. I would develop an interest years/decades later. There's an excellent podcast called Slow Burn by Leon Neyfakh that details much of what led up to Nixon's demise and the shifting support for him along the way. It's fascinating listening.

Had Alexander Butterfield (during the Senate Watergate hearings) never mentioned the tape recording system that Nixon had installed in the Oval Office, it's likely Nixon never would've had to resign in disgrace. And had there been a Fox News with the likes of Fox and Friends or Sean Hannity to bolster support for Nixon, it's also very possible he would've finished his term. That we have a large percentage of our population tuning into propagandists such as Hannity or Limbaugh or other conservative media voices for direction is disheartening. I actually know people who believe in Hannity's "deep state" nonsense. The investigation into Trump* was entirely Republican-led and is now entirely being buried by Republicans. I fully support efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives leading an investigation of their own into what is likely the most corrupt administration in our country's history. You don't get to obstruct an investigation into wrongdoing and then claim exoneration because your obstruction was successful.

We need to hear from Don McGahan because McGahn is to Trump* what Nixon's Oval Office tapes were to him. They both hold incriminating secrets. And just as Nixon tried to suppress his tapes from scrutiny, Trump is attempting to suppress McGahn's testimony. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

We're about to have a national conversation about abortion now that Republican-led states are feeling emboldened by a more conservative SCOTUS and are making challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. What they may want to keep in mind is that Roe v. Wade was decided in a 7-2 decision with 5 of the 7 Justices having been appointed by Republican Presidents. While conservatives love to blame Democrats for legalized abortion in the U.S., they seem unaware that they have their elected leaders to blame (or thank) for it.

There was a time not all that many years ago when you could find me marching with pro-life supporters at the Capitol in St Paul on a cold Monday in January. That seems a lifetime ago to me now. My world is no longer so black and white. In those days, I never once stopped to consider the woman who found herself pregnant with no support, say nothing of a decent paying job with benefits to see her through her pregnancy and for months afterward. And what about the cost of childcare in the years to come? We don't live in an Ozzie and Harriet world, and unplanned/unwanted pregnancies happen. I now get that. But most of all, I get that it's not my place to decide what a woman should or shouldn't do in whatever circumstance she finds herself.

For those trying to use scripture to support their pro-life values—think again. Yes, I've read all of the scripture purporting to show that God is a pro-life God, that he knew you in your mother's womb and such, but does this sound pro-life? There are many other biblical examples.

I truly am hoping for an honest discussion about abortion so that the lies being told by Trump* can be corrected. Doctors aren't taking newborn babies, wrapping them warmly in blankets and then conferring with the baby's mother as to whether or not they're going to kill it. That's just such a ridiculous thing for anyone to say.

A couple of years ago, author Patrick S. Tomlinson penned the following scenario as a way of making a point for those who say that life begins at conception. He details a scenario whereby you are in a fertility clinic when the fire alarm goes off. Before you escape you have the option to save either a 5-year-old child who is pleading for help or a container of 1000 viable human embryos.

Do you A) save the child, or B) save the 1000 embryos? he asks.

There is no "C". "C" means you all die.

Which would you choose?

That's all I've got

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Goodbye My Little Buddy

This is a blog post I've not looked forward to writing. Toby is gone, and with him, a huge piece of my heart is gone as well. The feeling of emptiness that follows a loss like this is profound for me. The color drains from my world and a mild depression takes hold. There's nowhere I can go in our home without some small reminder that he's no longer with us and with each small reminder I feel my heart sink a little more. I was out on a walk with Charlie the day after Toby's passing and imagining that he was with us and recalling all of his special places he liked to pause and sniff. I talked to him as though he could hear me and I told him how much I loved and missed him. My sunglasses hid my tears from passers-by. I wish we'd had one more walk together where I let him sniff as long as he wanted and where I didn't try and hurry him along in the slightest.

In the end, I didn't want to let him go, thinking that we could keep him comfortable and that the increased pain he was moaning so loudly about the previous night was just temporary. He seemed so normal when we arrived home from Babbitt on Tuesday afternoon. We had already scheduled an appointment with our vet for 3:30—in less than two hours. Reluctantly, we stuck with the plan and made the quiet drive into Farmington with Toby in Tammy's arms. And at precisely 3:30, with a small whimper, he was gone. I'd never broken down in front of the vet before in an end of life situation, always able to keep my composure until reaching the relative privacy of my car but not this time. There was no holding these tears back for either of us. I closed his eyes and kissed him one last time before turning toward the door with an emptiness in my heart that I don't think I've ever felt before. We held each other in the car and cried for our loss. It's been especially difficult for Tammy because she's still deeply grieving the loss of her mother just eight days earlier.

We received a card in the mail yesterday from our veterinarian. I opened it to find a sympathy card and inside it, 4 cards with Toby's pawprints. I burst into tears at the sight of it. I know this emptiness will lift in time but for now, I'm okay with feeling the pain of losing him. He was such a big part of my life. To allow him to pass with little more than a ripple before resuming my life wouldn't be right. I'll stay in this pain for a while and reminisce about what a special being he was and how he brought so much joy to my world and how I'm missing him dearly.

Some thoughts about Toby in the following paragraphs.

Toby was such a mellow and sweet boy, seldom ever raising his voice toward another dog and never toward a person. Here's a rare video of him barking in his younger days. And he had the sweetest kisses. Up until a few years ago when it became somewhat difficult for him, he used to pause at least once on every walk, look back at me and jump up to give me a kiss as I bent down toward him. He would then hurry along to resume his walk. It was one of the small things I'd live for. We literally walked thousands of miles together. He loved his walks as much as he loved his treats. He was a master at leading us over to the kitchen drawer that contained our pups treats. It was impossible for me to deny him in those moments where he was communicating his wants so clearly—prancing his way over to their special drawer.

I recall the time Tammy had all three pups at the dog park near Cleary Lake. I was riding my bike past the park when I saw them. I pulled over and we chatted. After a few minutes, I pedaled away and noticed that Toby was running so hard along the fenceline to try and keep up with me. He strained a muscle in his effort and had a limp for a few days afterward. He just wanted to be with me. It's a memory that will remain with me forever.

I always let him choose the direction our walks would take us. He wasn't at all an alpha male but he liked to be in the lead on our walks. Seldom would he ever choose the same direction two days in a row, always preferring to change it up. His favorite walk was the Fleet Farm loop because it was typically the longest route we'd routinely take at 2.4 miles (3.8 km). I didn't always have time for that length of walk (especially when I was still working) so Toby would try and get me to follow him across Jonquil Ave, knowing that if he got me to cross the street, we were in for the full Fleet Farm loop. I can still see him crossing Jonquil and looking back to see if I was following. How could I say no? It's been more than a year since he's led me on that route, knowing his limitations. I did the Fleet Farm loop with Charlie on Thursday morning in memory of Toby. It was sad to not have him with us.

Up until 2-3 years ago, it was common to come into the laundry room from the garage and see a shoe out of place on the rug. It meant that Toby had been there, quietly chewing on its laces. He wasn't destructive—just gnawing on them and making them wet. I would smile whenever I'd see that telltale sign of what he'd been up to.

In the last couple of years, he'd lost much of his vision and most of his hearing but that didn't stop him from wanting to go for his walks. And up until just a couple of weeks ago, he would still like to turn on the speed at least once each walk and have Charlie and me running to keep up with him.

I was watching some videos of our pups a few nights ago when they were just a year old. There's one video where Rachel was practicing playing her violin and it was (I think) hurting Allie's ears. She would cry out in protest at Rachel's feet. Charlie heard the video and had to chime in. It's cute.

I was in contact with a friend recently who works a lot with dogs. I was telling him of Toby's failing health and seeking advice on when it's time to say goodbye. He told me that there's a window of time where it's the right time: too soon and you live with the regret that you could've had more time together, and conversely, too late and your pet suffers needlessly. Toby was definitely within the window of time Jim was speaking of.

I was able to spend more than four hours in the car with Toby as we drove back from Babbitt on Tuesday morning after attending Tammy's mother's funeral. He seemed so content, at times sitting up in his seat and looking around. We stopped at the Warming House Coffee Shop in Cloquet where I bought a decaf coffee and a ham sandwich. Toby used to love to drink the dregs of my coffee but not on this day. He did, though, happily take all of the ham from my sandwich. It would be his last meal.

I have to keep reminding myself that we gave him a very good life, as if that will help alleviate the sadness I'm feeling. What I wouldn't give to go back in time and relive the last ten years again. We all had so much fun together. If nothing else, Toby's passing has reaffirmed in me how precious life is and how every day matters with the ones you love. Make the most of your time with them.

You will always have a huge piece of my heart, little buddy. I will always love you. Until we meet again.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Tammy's Mom

I was on a walk (yesterday) Easter morning when Tammy called me. She had just arrived at Trinity Care in Farmington where her mother is a resident. She was calling to tell me that she'd missed a call from the staff there and that her mother's condition had deteriorated considerably overnight. I hurried home then drove to be with her.

Alzheimer's it's said is "the long goodbye", and it is. It's been several months since Elaine has shown any recognition of me. Tammy has spent so much time with her that I think there was always an understanding between them that there was a connection. When I arrived at her bedside, it was clear that she was close to the end. Her respiration was near 40 breaths per minute, twice what is normal, and there was noticeable congestion in her lungs. She never opened her eyes while I was there. We prayed she wouldn't linger in this condition for long.

Tammy spent the night with her, reluctant to leave her side. The staff wheeled in a bed for her to sleep alongside her mother, holding her hand throughout the night—a restless night. She came home this morning to shower and change clothes before hurrying to her mother's side again but she was too late. Five minutes out from the nursing home she had an overwhelming feeling of sadness and she began to sob. Just before she arrived at Trinity Care she received a phone call to tell her that her mother had passed just minutes earlier. Her mother left this world at 9:05.

I felt so bad for her because I knew how much she wanted to be by her mother's side at that moment. I arrived 30 minutes later and gave her the biggest hug I'd ever given anyone. As much as she thought she was prepared for her mother's passing, she wasn't. Her mom had been such an integral part of her life for the past 4 years since she left Babbitt to come and live with us for one year. Tammy found so much purpose and love in being with her and tending to her needs. And now she's gone. We should all be so blessed to have someone like Tammy advocating for us and being by our side in our final years and days. I'm so proud of her.

Tammy had gotten to know most of the staff at Trinity Care since her mother arrived not quite three years ago. Having been an Alzheimer's nurse herself for years, she was comfortable tending to many of her mother's needs while spending time with her, and I'm certain the staff was always relieved to see her because of the help she would offer. Not only did they like Tammy, but they also loved her mother. So many of the staff would tell us that Elaine was their favorite and we'd always think how kind that was of them to say but surely they must tell others that as well. And maybe they did but from everything we could tell, they truly meant it. One of the kitchen staff was sitting with her when she died.

Elaine had been on hospice care for the past few weeks and a part of that care consists of routine visits by a chaplain and a hospice nurse. I met the chaplain and one of her nurses today. They are both such beautiful, kind people. The chaplain had some comforting words for Tammy as did Sarah, the hospice nurse. Tammy was allowed some time to spend with her mother before the undertaker arrived to remove her mother's body. She followed him out of the room and was greeted by a hallway full of teary-eyed staff waiting to pay their respects. It was very touching. One of the hallways is adorned with a mural of flowers, and nearly every time Elaine was wheeled past it she would comment on the beautiful flowers. Today, as they were taking her mother past it one last time with staff following behind, Tammy commented, "Look at the beautiful flowers". Everyone understood and many began to cry—Stacy commented, "Oh, Tammy". It was beautifully sad.

Elaine was born on December 5th, 1925. She was 93 years old and just six weeks younger than my father. She was a homemaker for most of her life but there was a time when she worked for the local newspaper, using her artistic talents to help with the layout of pages and ads in the newspaper. She was also very active in her church, creating many banners for use throughout the various seasons of the church year.

Tammy used to love to treat both her mother and her aunt Joyce to a trip to the casino when her mother would come to visit. They both loved to play the slot machines. She and Joyce always had so much fun together. Joyce passed away last December, leaving Elaine the last surviving family member of her era.

I will always remember her beautiful smile and the twinkle in her eyes, and her love of butterflies. Years ago when we made the stained glass windows for her church in Babbitt, one of the windows we made was of a butterfly to signify rebirth. We placed that window alongside the pew she always sat in.

Elaine/Mom/Grandma/Great Grandma was such a giving, caring person who was truly loved by everyone.  We should all be so lucky to leave this earth having that said about us.

Goodbye, Mom—until we meet again.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Kindness and the Truth Will Out

I've been watching a Netflix series called The Kindness Diaries. It's a documentary about Leon, a middle-aged man who did well as a broker before turning his back on his life of luxury to travel the world while depending on the kindness of strangers for food, fuel, and a place to stay at night. He has a crew of 3 who follow along (mostly out of sight) to record his encounters along the way. But Leon isn't only taking from others; he's also giving back in some large ways. I've been on the verge of tears several times while watching it. It's excellent!

We had a taste of some awesome spring weather earlier in the week. I was able to get out in the yard on Tuesday and take care of 4 hours of yard work, mostly bagging up piles of leaves that are always late to fall from our oak trees. But the mild weather was just a tease. Wednesday arrived and with it, a major storm that dumped about 8" (20 cm) of brown tinged heavy snow on what had previously been our snowless ground. The brown tinge was caused by dust from west Texas carried along by the upper winds. The airport in St. Paul recorded a wind gust of 66 mph (100+ kph) during the storm. Our backyard is littered with debris from our river birch trees. Note to self: no more river birch trees.

I finished a stained glass sun-catcher project a few days ago but I'm waiting until tomorrow for the sun to make an appearance before I can properly photograph it for my Instagram and Etsy sites. It's a new design. I enjoy challenging myself to come up with fresh ideas.

Disclaimer: Politics ahead. I write this blog for myself, to be able to look back on my thoughts and our world that was at some point years from now. I do it for me. You're welcome to follow along if you'd like.

This was a particularly concerning week in the world of politics as we watched Trump's* Attorney General William Barr opine during Congressional hearings that he felt the Trump* campaign had been spied on by some deep-state entity and that there may need to be an investigation, all the while admitting that he had no basis whatsoever for spewing such nonsense. But it was red meat for conservative media and their followers and that was his only intent. It's all just so head-shaking and disturbing. And this is the guy we're supposed to trust is going to be an impartial arbiter as to what should be made available from Mueller's report to Congress and the public.

I'm curious to see what's in Mueller's report. I think it's quite likely that there's plenty of evidence of Trump's* campaign conspiring with Russian operatives to attack the Clinton campaign but lacking the ability to subpoena those contacts, there's little to no chance a conviction could be achieved in court. An ethical prosecutor is forbidden from seeking an indictment unless they believe they can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Does it mean that Trump* and his campaign did nothing wrong? No, not at all. But will we ever be allowed to see the evidence and decide for ourselves? It's doubtful.

I worry that when we look back on this time in our history years from now, we won't have reached the proper judgments we should have because of a complicit Republican party that shows no interest in the truth. I see a president who is so thoroughly corrupt and is flouting both our norms and our laws to advance his warped agenda. It's beyond disturbing. I came across this tweet tonight that puts into words so much of what concerns me and should concern us all.

But life goes on and I have to trust that the truth will out.

From Tuesday nights ride with a fun group out of Northfield that I hope to ride more with this year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Lure of Warmer Weather, and Mueller's Report

I've been distracted with some outdoor stuff lately so my stained glass hobby has climbed into the backseat—for how long I don't know. I was hoping to craft at least a few more sun-catchers before I close up shop until next winter but the lure of being outdoors is quite strong now.

Yes, I've been getting out for some rides and some walks. It's been nice to feel the sun on my face again. I had my first ride on my gravel bike on Saturday. I did a 54 mile (87 km) loop out beyond Jordan. The ride was mostly just to get a feel for my bike and to dial in my position on it. I was able to find some gravel along the way so that was a bonus. It's a fun bike and will easily rival my fat-bike in that department.

Why a gravel bike? Well, it opens up more choices for riding. It's difficult to ride my road bike on gravel so now I can venture down roads I might otherwise avoid for fear of the pavement turning to gravel. I could use my fat-bike for gravel but it's not going to be as fast because the tires are much wider and the bike is considerably heavier than my gravel bike—33 lbs vs. 20 lbs (15 kg vs. 9 kg). But more important than anything—there's also a lot less traffic on dirt roads and less traffic means fewer distracted drivers. I've embedded a video of my ride at the end of this post.

Tammy got a call yesterday from the nursing home where her mother is a resident. They wanted to know if she would like to have her placed in hospice care. Tammy recently commented to me that her mother is slipping away more noticeably than before. Hospice care wasn't something we asked for; they offered it. It will allow her to have more personalized attention in the way of people coming in and spending time with her. Sometimes it means someone sitting by her and playing guitar while softly singing or maybe a hand massage or head massage. Tammy was grateful for the offer. She spends quite a lot of time there each week but it's never enough for her. We can't say enough good things about Trinity Care in Farmington where she resides. They're all and more than we could have ever hoped for her mother.

Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report about his investigation into Trump's* possible collusion/conspiracy with Russian operatives to affect the 2016 election and the investigation into his possible obstruction of justice. He submitted the report to Trump's* Attorney General William Barr on Friday. On Sunday Barr released a very abbreviated synopsis of Mueller's findings. Trump* claimed total exoneration while the report said nothing of the sort. No surprise there. The report found that there wasn't enough evidence to prove a case of collusion/conspiracy but with respect to obstruction of justice, Mueller didn't come to a conclusion. Barr is on record as saying it's impossible for a president to obstruct justice so he's giving Trump* a pass. In a situation such as that, the only logical next step would be to send the report to Congress for them to consider. That didn't happen and it won't. Barr was handpicked just for this very reason.

Conservative media was giddy with proclamations that Trump* was right, that this was all a witch hunt, that there was no evidence or proof that he colluded or conspired, all without having read the report. I saw a tweet tonight where someone was wondering about Kenneth Starr's report on the Clintons and Whitewater—what if Starr had submitted his report to Janet Reno (Clinton's AG) and she, in turn, gave only a very brief synopsis of Starr's findings? How would Republicans have responded? I'm certain they'd have been outraged, and rightly so.

I came across a most interesting thread on Twitter tonight. It details what it takes to both reach a level of proof for an indictment and what is needed to find a person guilty. I found it fascinating reading. It's 50 tweets in total so be sure to expand the link to show all 50. The tweets are numbered 1-50. To avoid becoming distracted, ignore any not by Seth Abramson and just read through his. Here's the link.

That's all I've got.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Shifting My Focus

I'm done with my burst of prednisone and the pain in my leg that I was taking it for. Honestly, I think I could've done without the drug. I'm quite sure the pain would've gone away on its own. I was only on it for one week but it was enough to shut down my adrenal gland, where cortisol is produced. I finished an indoor training ride on Tuesday and commented in my notes about the ride that my heart rate was much higher than it usually is for the level of watts I was putting out. Happily, Thursday night's ride assured me that my adrenal gland was getting back up to speed as I compared my heart rate and watts. They were much more in the range of where I'm used to seeing them. I figure it took 5 days for my adrenal gland to begin producing cortisol again.

I spent some time yesterday transferring the seat and handlebar settings on my road bike over to my gravel bike. They're not exact (nor should they be) but I think I've got the settings pretty close to where I need them. I'll fine-tune the adjustments once I'm out on the road which shouldn't be too much longer. We lost a good amount of our snowpack this week but there's still a considerable amount left to melt. I hope to have my gravel bike out for the first time in the next two weeks. I get excited thinking about it. I also had my golf clubs regripped. Bring on the warm weather!

I'm still spending time down in my studio working on stained glass pieces for my Etsy shop. I recently finished this one. Etsy won't allow users to include video with their uploads but Instagram will so I included this short video in my upload to Instagram to show my work in a way I haven't in the past. I plan to start doing more of this. I think my studio time will soon be winding down until next winter but I hope to put out a few more pieces in the next two weeks.

I took Toby and Charlie out for a late afternoon walk today. It was our first walk in close to two months. I shouldn't be surprised that Toby wanted to run part of the way. He's such a love.

Rachel is traveling back from Big Sky, Montana where she spent the week skiing with Drew and his family. Their plans were altered by a major snowstorm on the way out but they're on schedule to arrive home tomorrow after staying overnight in Box Elder, South Dakota, just east of Rapid City. I'm looking forward to seeing the video she captured, and yes, I mentioned to her that her GoPro was angled a little skyward. The photo to the left is hers as well. We call that a "Bryan photo"—a reference to my brother and his exceptional photography skills.

I watched American Idol last Sunday night, something I haven't done in several years. I'm always impressed by those who can stand up in front of the cameras or a group of people and perform because that's just not me, and never will be—perhaps in my next life. There were several notable singers but one, in particular, stood out for me. Jeremiah is a minister's son who works as a janitor in his father's church. And he's gay. I listened to his story and then I watched him perform a song he wrote. I listened to the words he was singing and my eyes welled up with tears. He's such a beautiful person who has so much to offer this world but his family can't get over his sexuality and embrace him for who he is. Watch the video below. I'd be proud to call him my son, or brother, or friend.

That's all I've got.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

My Aching Back and Other Random Musings

My workouts have been put on hold while my back recovers from some sort of injury, most likely related to snow removal. I'm not exactly sure what I did but I've never had a back injury quite like this one. It began one week ago and while it felt a little sore at first it became much worse over the next few days. I call it a back injury but it mostly presents itself as a searing pain in my left buttock and down toward my left calf. I went into an orthopedic urgent-care Sunday morning where they took x-rays. The images showed nothing out of the ordinary, suggesting it was some sort of soft tissue injury. I'm on a burst of prednisone and a muscle relaxer. I'm feeling better today but I'm not quite ready to resume my workouts—maybe tomorrow. I need to strengthen my core—it's that simple.

My Subaru Forrester turned 5 years old this week just as its odometer racked up 50,000 miles (80,000 km). It's been a good car and I'm happy with it but if I had to choose a favorite car that I've owned it would be my 1982 Mazda 626 which I purchased new after returning from the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.

Stopping to ponder memories of my 626 I can still feel everything about the car, from the driver's seat with its adjustable lumbar support to the tacky feel of the rubberized steering wheel grip. I can still remember how it felt to move the gearshift through its 5-speed manual sequence to bring it up to speed with the ever so slight vibrations I'd feel through the shifter. Those memories seem just as clear as they were all those years ago. It was such a good car.

Tammy taught me something yesterday. In the photo to the left, take a close look at the gas pump icon. Do you see the arrow pointing to the right? It's there to tell you which side of the car you pump the gas into. And now you know, too! I'm not sure I ever noticed the arrow until she mentioned it.

I finished a few stained glass projects in the past week—here, here, and here. It's been a productive few days of work. My Instagram site for my stained glass work has been taking off over the past several weeks. Each time I post a photo I pick up quite a few additional followers. I have a link in my Instagram profile to my Etsy site and it's having the desired effect. About 25% of the visitors to my Etsy site are coming from my Instagram link. I recall not being overly impressed with Instagram when I first began using it not quite 7 years ago. Now it's one of my favorite apps.

Speaking of stained glass—I'd been thinking of a way to reinforce the bottoms of my larger panels so there will be less chance for them to sag over the years. I purchased some 1/4" x 1/8" rebar strips that I cut and soldered in place around the outside bottom edge of each panel in a U-shape. I feel better about having reinforced them all.

I drove into Farmington yesterday afternoon to meet with some fellow retirees for our weekly get-together, affectionately referred to as a mandatory team meeting—a holdover reference from our working days. I'm more often than not a no-show but I've managed to make it the past two weeks. I always enjoy my time with everyone but I'm too easily distracted with other stuff it seems and I fail to show up. I'm trying to do better.

We've had our fill of snow for the year but there's a major storm making its way toward us and there's a chance we'll see another foot of snow from it. I shot the video embedded below this morning.

Time to head down to the studio.

That's all I've got.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Deconstructing My Faith

I'm being a bum today. I'd planned to ride my indoor trainer but I'm sorta just fine doing nothing except for catching up on my blog. Between stained glass projects and keeping our driveway cleared of snow, I've been quite busy. It doesn't appear that there's much of a break in this snowy period we find ourselves, but at least we're breaking snowfall records. It would be a shame to get this much snow and walk away with nothing to show for it. Just for fun, here's a look back at two years ago and here's from two days ago. Yes, I'm very proud of my snowbanks—thanks for asking.

I finished the stained glass window to the left yesterday (the one in the middle). There's something calming to me when looking at the lines of these windows. I suppose it speaks to the Virgo in me and my desire for things to be orderly. I won't try and explain it any more than that—you either get it or you don't. Here's a link to it in more detail on my Etsy site.

Here's a short video I took this morning of all seven panels. Hopefully, we'll have no more bird strikes into our sunporch windows now that they're all in place.

I'm overdue for my next bout of cluster headaches. It's been more than 18 months since my last episode with them and 18 months is typically on the outer reaches of how long of a reprieve I can expect. Tammy suggested I go in and see my neurologist to have all of the prescriptions in place that I'll need when they return so I'm not caught flat-footed and scrambling. I did that today. If you're interested, you can do a search of my blog for "cluster headaches". You'll find several posts there detailing a dark side of my life that I try to think about as little as possible when I'm headache free as I am today. I'll shut up now.

It's been since last summer that Tammy and I attended services at Family of Christ where we'd become members two years earlier. I have so little desire to return at this point. Tammy still participates with her friends in the book club there but she's lost her desire to attend as well—for now. It has nothing to do with Family of Christ. It's a fine church.

I've been deconstructing my faith for most of the last five years, questioning more and more the religion that was instilled in me at St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Bloomington as well as other churches along the way. They're some of my core beliefs and to walk away from them, much less question them is not something I would ever do without serious consideration. I still maintain my faith in God although God looks different to me now. I still spend a fair amount of time in prayer each day but I no longer hold fast to a belief in either heaven or hell, or the Trinity, or God and Jesus being one-in-the-same, and as I've written here before, I struggle with so much of what's written in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I don't know that I'll ever read through it again and that to me is a sad thought. I've been blessed beyond measure in my life. Don't I owe this all to God? I'm conflicted.

To be honest, lately, I've been entertaining the idea of reincarnation. It's not something I've ever studied or even talked about with anyone, not even Tammy. I recall how sad she became a few years ago when I began questioning the Trinity and expressed my doubts about it to her. I was breaking away and she was worried for me. But I can't pretend to believe in something when I no longer do. Reincarnation makes about as much sense as any other belief system to me. In my version of it, we're sent here to experience life from varying levels of class, race, and opportunity. What better way for us to truly walk in our brother's shoes. How certain am I of this? About as certain as I am that the Bible is truly the inspired word of God. I have a lot of room for doubt with both beliefs.

For the longest time, I've had a strange thought that occasionally creeps into my psyche—that in my previous life I was Uncle Herman—my grandmother's brother who immigrated to the US from Finland ahead of her. This is the only photo I can find of him (he's in the back left). But Herman died when I was two years old so how can it be possible that there could be a connection between us other than blood? I suppose I would see that as a problem if I had even a handful of memories to draw on before I was a few years old but I don't. I'll never have all of the answers in this life but I do have thoughts and beliefs that I've been going back to for decades, and the idea of some weird Uncle Herman connection has been with me long before I began pondering reincarnation. I have no idea why. I could be entirely wrong about all of it and I'm going to hell for questioning these things. Does it make sense to banish someone to an eternity of torturous fire for questioning that which nobody can see or prove?

It's getting late and I should probably wrap this up. I'd like to do a long indoor ride tomorrow and begin another glass project while immersing myself in questions I'll never have the answers to in this lifetime, because it's what I do.

That's all I've got.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tammy's Recovery Continues, Snowshoeing, Glass projects and More

Tammy has made significant progress in her hip replacement surgery recovery. The first 5 days post-op were more difficult than either of us anticipated they would be but she's been making steady improvement. She's graduated from a walker to crutches and now to simply one crutch. We expect that she'll be abandoning the crutch soon for a cane we purchased for her. She's mostly off her meds and is okay to drive but I've still been taking her places because of the abundance of ice and snow between handicap parking and the entrance to wherever she's going. I like being able to drop her off right at the door to minimize the risk of a fall which could be catastrophic to her recovery. She's busy making plans for a small vacation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this summer -- a vacation where we plan to do plenty of hiking with her new hip!

I'm one month out from walking away from Facebook and while I do miss many of my connections there, I'm happy to report that there were no withdrawal pangs whatsoever. It's possible I'll return to it someday but not now.

I was out for coffee with some friends last week and they were talking about their snowshoeing adventures and how much fun they have snowshoeing the mountain bike trails. For the past few years, I'd been toying with the idea of buying some snowshoes. Our conversation was motivation enough for me to get my butt over to REI and check out their selection.

I'm good-to-go!

I hiked 5 miles on Monday and another 4.6 miles Tuesday. It's a good workout in addition to being a lot of fun but I think I injured my lower back from so many miles so soon. I want to blame it on shoveling out the bottom of our driveway but Tammy suspects it was two days back to back of snowshoeing that did it. I suspect she may be right.

I've taken the past week off from my stained glass work due to a busier schedule than usual but I hope to be back down in my studio today to begin work on a project. I'm redoing one of my larger panels I made about a year ago that sold last summer. Tammy and I were both somewhat saddened to see it go.

I finished the piece to the right last week. I did a variation of this style last year and thought it would be nice to have another for our sunporch. It's for sale but I'm content if it stays with us.

I'll often mention on my Etsy site in the description for a miniature panel just how difficult it is to work with such tiny pieces of glass because I think some people are maybe put off by the amount I have to charge for something so small. The panel in the photo to the right took roughly 20 hours to fabricate (not including design and prep time). This miniature panel took me 14 hours. I likely can't charge more for my smaller panels and expect them to sell but I can for the larger ones, and so I do.

I'm waiting for Keith to get back to me with an idea he has for some windows in his and Tracee's home. I'd like to get them done before spring arrives and I close up the shop until next winter. I'm not even going to pretend that there's even the slightest chance I'll be able to work on any projects once the weather warms.

I bought tickets months ago to see Mandolin Orange at First Avenue in Minneapolis. I thought I was going to have to take a pass because of Tammy's surgery but my neighbor, Mark, offered to go with me. It was an excellent night. Mark and Becky brought over dinner and wine before Mark and I left for the concert. The ladies remained behind and rented a movie while chatting the night away.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Let the Healing Begin and Well Played, ATC!

It's been 5 days since Tammy's hip replacement surgery. Her doctor told me the surgery went very well. He also commented that she had very little loss of blood during the procedure. He'll often see a loss of 1000cc in patients but Tammy only lost a tenth of that. I'm not sure what that speaks to if anything. He also noted a bone spur in her hip that was causing her a lot of pain.

She stayed overnight in the care facility there at Twin City Orthopedics and I picked her up at 6:00 the next morning, which was a solid 2 days too soon (but apparently, that's how it's done). The narcotics prescribed for pain have left her confused, tired, and confined to a bed we have set up in our den. Rachel came by over the weekend and spent the better part of 2 days with us, giving me some pointers on my duties as a CNA (certified nursing assistant). She was so helpful.

A nurse has stopped by our home a couple of times as well as a physical therapist. The nurse became concerned yesterday when she recorded a blood-oxygen level in the 70s. A normal reading would've been in the high 90s. It's a result of the narcotics and their effect on her breathing. She instructed us to get to the emergency room at the hospital. I wasn't keen on getting Tammy out of bed and situated in the car due to her recent surgery but her O2 reading concerned us more so we didn't delay.

The doctor felt her condition was within the normal parameters with her O2 levels having risen to a more normal level once we arrived. She was discharged 2 hours later. Better safe than sorry. She's doing much better today and making notable progress every day but she has a long way to go. I'm putting my stained glass projects on hold while I stick close by her side for the next couple of weeks.

The longest U.S. government shutdown (35 days) is over thanks in large measure to air traffic controllers on the east coast who called in sick and forced delays that would ripple throughout the system. That was enough (in addition to Nancy Pelosi's hardline against Trump*) to call Trump's* childish bluff and force him to reopen the government, if only for a few weeks. Well played, ATC and Pelosi -- well played.

One concern I have after watching all of that play out is how so many people are living with little to no margin whatsoever in the way of a rainy-day fund. A disturbing number of people are just a paycheck or two away from homelessness.

And still, nothing is being done about the attacks on our elections by Russia. But not only that, Republicans voted last week to lift sanctions on Oleg Deripaska, a major player in Russia's attack on our 2016 election. He was the one that Trump's* campaign manager Paul Manafort gave detailed polling data to in the weeks and months before the election so they could more accurately target their attacks. I know -- this is all new to those of you who get your news from conservative media. You may want to poke your head up and have a look around at what's actually happening because it's going to take a lot of us working together to fix this mess. But Trump* is responsible for record unemployment and a robust economy you say? No, not really.

I finished the Tour de Zwift series of rides today with 4 laps around Central Park in NYC. I really enjoyed the challenge of going all-out on those 9 stages over the past 4 weeks. I'm curious to see what it's done for my Functional Threshold Power (FTP), a measure of the number of watts I'm able to maintain for an hour. It's a handy number to know for when you want to do targeted training and develop training plans based on watts.

It's ridiculously cold outside tonight at -22ºf (-30ºc) with a high temp tomorrow of only -16ºf (-27ºc). It gets even colder tomorrow night. That's just nuts. There was a time a few years ago when I took pride in riding in temps this cold but I'm quite sure those days are behind me. Perhaps my Wahoo Kickr Core and Zwift program for riding indoors have made me soft in some ways. I'm okay with that.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Change of Scenery

A friend mentioned that she hadn't seen Reid on Facebook and wondered if he'd deleted his account. I hadn't noticed so I took a look and sure enough, he was gone. I'd sent him a text the day before to show him my new wheels, so when he responded I asked him what's up. He said he was on a 21 day Facebook fast and that he was thinking of making it permanent because he didn't miss it. I had just deleted the app from my phone the previous day and had been toying with the idea of taking an extended break from it as well. In the 10 years I've been on the site, I've never broken from it for more than a few days.

There was a time when I loved the site and the connections I made there but whatever benefits remained were being overshadowed by my frustration with many of my friends/connections who disappoint me with their pro-Trump* nonsense and conservative media talking-points that crumble under the slightest scrutiny. I always believed we were collectively smarter than this. I have no desire to waste any more time trying to convince people that Trump* is a racist, bigoted, thoroughly corrupt man unfit for any leadership role and that the Christian right is neither Christian nor right. This is much more than simply Republican vs. Democrat. This is about allowing a hateful and fearful ideology gain a foothold of acceptance, one that makes a mockery of the words enshrined on our Statue of Liberty where it reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I'll still be available through email, cellphone call, text messages, Instagram, my blog, or to enjoy a conversation over a hard cider at Celts if anyone is interested in catching up with me. And I'll still occasionally stop by a few of the cycling and stained glass groups I like to check in on. I've been mostly absent from the site for one week and honestly, I don't miss it. I'll see how it goes.

I had fun working on a different sort of stained glass project a few days ago. For a while now I've been wanting to do a sun-catcher in the vein of Piet Mondrian's artwork with its straight lines and striking contrasts in color. I drafted a few designs before settling on the one to the right.

I was concerned when I began assembling glass for the piece that the transparent colored glass I typically use for my projects wouldn't lend itself well to this style of art so I purchased some opaque glass to use instead. I'm glad I did. I couldn't be happier with how direct sunlight gives such brilliance to the colors in the glass. It's very striking. Here's a link to it on my Etsy site. If you go there, be sure to click on the photos for a higher resolution photo. My camera was struggling to focus in the bright sunlight.

Tammy goes in for hip replacement surgery on Thursday. She's been struggling a lot for the last 9 months or so with continued pain and sleepless nights. We miss our trips to the State Fair, an occasional walk around Lake of the Isles, or even the mall because she's in too much pain to continue after only 30 minutes. She's experienced temporary relief through steroid shots but those aren't the answer. She was loving her Zumba classes at Lifetime Fitness but she had to stop those last spring and confine her workouts to laps in the pool. We've got a bed set up for her on the main level in the den (thanks to Mark and Becky), a walker for her to use and some other gadgets (for picking up things without bending over and for putting on her socks) loaned to us by Alex who had the same procedure on one of his hips 7 years ago. It will be nice to have the surgery over with and working on her recovery. She's so overdue for her pain to be done.

I've been enjoying my indoor bike training more than ever now that I've been participating in group events on Zwift. They're a lot of fun and very motivating. Yesterday's Stage 6 of the Tour de Zwift had us climbing Alpe du Zwift, which is Zwift's version of the iconic Alpe d'Huez climb often featured in Le Tour de France. Zwift has made their version an exact replica of the actual mountain climb with all 21 switchbacks and gradiant to match the actual mountain. It's a daunting climb, but fun. It took me 55:07 to climb the 7.8 miles (12.6 km) with an average gradient of 8.1%. Once you begin the climb there's nowhere to hide. It doesn't let up at all until the top.

I've been watching YouTube videos lately while working on glass projects in the shop, and a channel that I've absolutely fallen in love with is GCN, or Global Cycling Network. They put together some excellent videos that I find both entertaining and informative. Have a look (below).

That's all I've got.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Homebrew, A New Addition, and Free Solo

I have a new certification: Homebrewer. I've spent the last few weeks nurturing a glass jug of homebrew in the closet of our den, making sure the temp was just right so as not to shock the contents of the fermenting cider within. Friday was bottling (and tasting) day. My yield was 8 bottles of sweetened hard apple cider, one of which has Rachel's name on it. I honestly didn't have very high hopes that it would be very palatable but it's actually not bad at all. I would like to give it a go again in a few weeks but first I think I want to take a class in homebrewing because I think there's more I need to know than what I was able to glean from the directions in my starter-kit to more fully enjoy the experience and get the most from it.

I've added a new bike to my stable of bikes. I've been wanting a gravel bike since last spring when I noticed how much harder I was having to work on my fat-tire bike to keep up with others on their gravel bikes during the Miesville 56 ride. That it's a more difficult slog on a fatty is a given and I was good with that but something clicked inside me when I began thinking of lengthier rides I could do on gravel roads, away from the more traveled highways I'm typically on. Plus, gravel group rides are becoming quite popular, and I occasionally enjoy the company of others out there. Not always, but sometimes.

I began my search last spring at Angry Catfish in Minneapolis but nothing I saw there really grabbed hold of me and said, "take me with you!" I continued my search online to see what else was out there. That's when I came across this review and another for Giant's new gravel bike. It was everything I was looking for (and more). I pretty much stopped my search at that point.

I've been working with Todd at Michael's Cycles in Chaska and he phoned me two days ago to tell me that my long wait for the beauty pictured to the right (and in this video) was over and that I could come in and pick it up. They're just now beginning to make it to local bike shops after a bit of a delay in shipping them. I'm waiting on a few accessories -- a mount for my Garmin cyclocomputer and a Dinotte LED light for the rear (and for the side roads to lose their ice) before I jump on it for the first time but I anticipate I won't be waiting much longer.

Switching gears.

I was perusing a bike forum (what used to be the Serotta forum) a few months ago when I came across a thread titled, "Climbing Devils Tower". Tammy and I have been to Devils Tower a few times and have watched with amazement the oh-so-tiny people scaling the mountain, so I clicked on the thread to have a look. I was surprised to see that there were several users of the forum who had climbed Devils Tower in addition to some even more difficult climbs. I found the thread to be fascinating reading. It was around the same time that the movie Free Solo was being shown in limited screenings across the country.

The thread on the forum piqued my interest in rock climbing, and I was exposed to a new world of jargon: what are off-width climbs and multi-pitch climbs, and what is the difference between a 5.7 and a 5.1 climb? It all seemed so fascinating to me but I was pretty certain while reading about it that all of it will have to wait until my next lifetime. Or does it have to? I came across this link where you can show up as a novice and after two days of instruction be ready to climb Devils Tower on the third day. Seriously? I never would've guessed that but after poking around a little more online I found videos (an example) that seem to make it look somewhat doable.

In my week's long study of rock climbing back in October, the most compelling thing I watched was a 60 Minutes episode about Alex Honnold (embedded below), the man profiled in the film, Free Solo. I'm not sure there are many riskier endeavors than the sort of climbing he does, but to listen to him explain it, he's certain of his ability to the point that the entire climbing experience is one where he's in a calm state of being. I just don't know that I could ever control my nerves to that degree. I'm quite sure I couldn't.

I'd sort of stopped thinking about rock climbing and moved on to other things until talking with Rex a few days ago over a beer at Celts in Farmington. He'd seen the film Free Solo and was telling me how awesome it was. He later sent me a text to let me know that the movie was playing at the IMAX theater in Apple Valley but not for much longer. Tammy and I went to see it that night. It was so well done; at times funny, and at times riveting, and always captivating. We both loved it!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Disturbing Dream and 2018 By The Numbers

I've been having some wild dreams lately. I had a recurring dream last night, a dream I haven't had in several years, and each time I experience it, I'm left wondering if there's something in my life that I'm neglecting. It started out with me standing by the side of our home, looking up at an airplane that had lost its wings. It was using an engine on its tail to thrust it forward in an erratic way. I watched as it flew out of control, certain it would crash at any moment. A helicopter appeared next to the doomed aircraft and hovered overhead. My neighbor, Tom, a pilot for Delta was watching with me.

But then something else caught my attention. I noticed a trap door in our front flower garden that led to a lighted room beneath the garage. I realized then that my dog Sparky was down there and that I had forgotten about him. I last said goodbye to Sparky (in real life) in 1983 when I moved to Huron, SD and I couldn't take him with me. In my dream, it had been months since I'd checked on him and I felt terrible that he'd been neglected for so long. The dream always leaves me feeling profoundly sad that I could do such a thing and that a being so dependent on me was left to suffer.

I took a week off from stained glass work during the holidays but I'm back at it again. I finished this piece last night. It's been a while since I've done a similar panel and I wanted one to add to my inventory. It's a little on the spendy side for a sun-catcher but I'm happy leaving it to sit on my site until the right person comes along. I think I'll work on some lesser expensive pieces over the next week.

I was pleased with my miles both down in our basement and out on the road in 2018. I track meaningless stuff. It's just what I do. 2018 by the numbers:

Cycling: 5138 (8269 km)
Walking: 398 (641 km)
Walking with our pups: 268 (431 km)
Golfing miles: 229 (369 km)
Elliptical: 34 (55)
Rower: 8 (13)

I neglected both my elliptical and my rower but I hope to improve on those numbers in 2019. Strava (an app I used to help track meaningless stuff) puts together a nifty year-end summary. Click!

I've been riding indoors during the winter months for nearly 39 years. I never could've imagined when I was riding my first set of rollers after returning home from my enlistment in the Navy what indoor riding would one day become. I love it! And it's great training!

I lined up with 2269 others this morning on the island of Watopia for the first stage of the Tour de Zwift challenge. I gave it all I had for a little over an hour and it left me with an endorphin high that lasted for hours after the race (it's technically just a ride but tell that to the vast majority of us pushing as hard as we can). That was my first experience taking part in any sort of group ride on Zwift. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I also pushed harder than I otherwise would have. Win-win!!

That's all I've got.