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.