Sunday, August 2, 2020

Butterflies, Eagles, and Norms

Tammy and I are keeping watch over a monarch caterpillar chrysalis that's metamorphosing in our den. It formed its chrysalis on the 24th of July—9 days ago. The monarch butterfly usually appears within 9-14 days. I'd like to capture some video of it as it emerges if I'm around so I can bookend this video I took of it forming its chrysalis. I was amazed at how quickly it changed from a caterpillar to a chrysalis. 

Tammy had ordered a dozen caterpillars from an online site but they were never able to fill her request. We needed to go only as far as our backyard garden where we'd planted a few milkweed plants to find what we were looking for. We figured one was enough and allowed any others to remain in the garden. We'll be planting more milkweed next spring to attract them. 

I've got a nice rotation of riding, walking, and golfing that's keeping me active outdoors. I like the variety. It wasn't all that many years ago when my only focus was road riding. How I never burned out on a steady diet of 300-mile (480 km) weeks or more I'm not sure. Those days are likely done, at least for this life. One thing I've noticed with my gravel riding: I sometimes get pounding headaches after a longish ride—headaches that develop later in the evening after a ride and oftentimes stay with me through the next day. I thought (and still sorta do) that the headaches were the result of not hydrating well enough during and after my rides but I'm not so certain that's the reason for them. I'm wondering if there's something in the gravel dust I'm exposed to that may be causing them?

I carded an eagle last week playing with Steve at Valleywood Golf Course on the 16th hole from 173 yards out with a 5 iron. We had to wait for the greenskeepers to exit the green before we could play our approach shots. They sat off to the side and waited for us. I knew I'd hit the ball well but I couldn't see how close to the hole it finished. When we came up to the green, I asked the greenskeepers if they saw where my ball landed because I wasn't seeing it. They both replied, "It's in the cup!" Haha! How fun was that!? The last eagle I made was on the 1st hole at Wyandotte Golf Course in Winona, MI at least 15 years ago. It's a par 5 and the group ahead of me waved me on. My ball landed on the green leaving me at least 30 feet for eagle. I somehow managed to hole it out with an audience. It's funny how those memories stay with me all these years later. I'm certain my most recent eagle will have its place as well in my list of memories. I'm a simple guy. 

The COVID-19 virus continues to plague the US while Republicans continue to downplay it and appear to want nothing to do with easing the financial burden on so many who are struggling to put food on their table and pay their mortgages, say nothing of utilities and car payments. I think their plan is to offer little to nothing in the way of assistance, forcing people back to work thereby giving the appearance that all is well and that we've put the virus behind us. It's ludicrous thinking and something the virus would laugh at if it could. 

It's not helpful that we have a president who can't tell the truth about anything. The thing is, had he been honest with the American people from the outset and led us through this difficult period by being honest about what we're up against, he would've been seen as a man doing his best for the good of the country. Instead, we have a president who is clearly only out for himself and will do anything imaginable and unimaginable to win the election and retain power. Who would've ever thought that a political party would force people to the polls to vote during a pandemic when they could've ensured a safe and fair election through mail-in ballots? This is especially concerning in high-minority areas where Republicans have drastically reduced the number of polling places, forcing people to stand in lines for hours on end to cast their ballots. 

I read an article in the Boston Globe a few days ago about what happens if Trump loses the election but refuses to concede the loss? Yes, that's the sort of thing that's actually being talked about here. What then? From the article: 
"Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it."
The article goes on to talk about how our form of government relies on norms, not laws for transition of power. What if a president takes it upon themselves to disregard those norms? What then? Here's a link to the article.  

I been using my rear-mounted camera to enhance my ride videos and have managed to record two dogs giving chase to me so far. Plus, I've been playing around with the TimeWarp feature on my GoPros to capture some time-lapse video. I like the effect it creates but I suppose I should be careful to not use it too much. It's pretty cool.

Edit: I nearly forgot! Tammy and I celebrated our 21 year wedding anniversary on Thursday. We took a nice drive up to Stillwater and bummed around the city for a few hours, enjoying a late lunch at the Freight House. How does 21 years get away so quickly? Our rhythm is off a little with the pandemic all around us. Still, it was nice to be able to celebrate in our own little subdued way.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Eject! Eject! Eject! And Another Perspective

In aviation, one of the more dire circumstances a pilot can find themselves in is what's referred to as a flat spin. A flat spin is where the nose of the aircraft is in a more level position (rather than pointed downward), placing the aircraft's center of gravity closer to the spin axis, rendering the rudder and elevators ineffective in breaking the perilous spin. More often than not, it's an unrecoverable situation.

We, in America, are in a flat spin—I'm speaking of our democracy.

Fascism and authoritarianism are taking root here at the top while a solid 38% of the country doesn't seem to notice or maybe they don't mind because it's their guy who is leading the revolution—if you can call it that. I'm saddened by the fact that I have two siblings and many other relatives, friends, and neighbors who are caught up in the madness and continue to support the imbecile in the Oval Office.

You don't tear gas peaceful protesters to clear a park for a photo-op of the president awkwardly holding up, of all things, a bible—a book he's clearly never read, and you don't send in unidentified paramilitary goon squads (where they're not wanted or needed) to beat and arrest peaceful protesters to show that you're a "law and order" president and still get to call yourself the leader of the "free world", especially when you've just pardoned the man who stuck to the plan and kept his word not to testify against you, lying to investigators and to Congress with the understanding that he'd be pardoned for his crimes. We're supposed to be better than that.

In case you've forgotten, there are still children who haven't been reunited with their parents after having been separated from them at our southern border. Trump is still an unabashed racist who has cost us tens of thousands of lives because of his failure to lead in our country's efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. No reasonable person can believe a word that comes out of his mouth. He has diminished our standing in the world among our allies as he's alienated them while cozying up to some of our planet's most despicable dictators. He's working to abolish the Affordable Care Act, attempting to do away with preexisting conditions while still offering nothing in the way of a replacement—a replacement he said would be crafted in the first month of his administration. He's given away the store in the way of unnecessary tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy while defunding programs put in place to help the neediest among us to help pay for those irresponsible tax cuts. He's vilified our media while creating doubts in many of you about the credibility of so many of our institutions meant to protect us from bad actors. And most recently, he's attempting to strip funding for coronavirus testing because it looks bad to know the extent to which we're failing to control this thing.

That's leadership?

It's been nearly 4 years since I've spoken with my sister. She's a victim of conservative media while all I can do is watch from the sidelines as she goes deeper and deeper into the wilderness of hate, fear, and lies. It's truly sad and I take no comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this phenomena. My mother fell into the same abyss the last several years of her life and for that, I'll never forgive the voices of Fox who conned her and continue to con countless others.

In a fighter jet, the pilot has the option of pulling the eject lever and bailing out of the aircraft to avoid death from a flat spin. Our only option as a society is to eject this most corrupt administration and its enablers this fall on election day, or perhaps we should refer to it as ejection day because it's clearly time to eject.

Moving on.

I've been recording snippets of my rides for nearly 11 years. It's what I do. I had no way of knowing when I made this first recording west of Jordan on a loop to Belle Plaine what it would lead to. I'm sometimes amused by my crude early attempts at capturing video out on the road. When I first began making my recordings, I did it with one main thought in mind: I wanted to be able to look back on these moments decades from now, to be able to relive them and reminisce about my life that was. I thought, how fun it would be to have had the ability to record videos from my time in San Diego in the mid to late '70s when I first got into road riding—to be able to look back on some experiences from those rides all these many years later. I didn't want to find myself saying that same thing decades from now, especially when I have the ability to capture some of these moments. That's why I do this.

In my last blog post, I talked about someday getting a drone to take with me out on my rides and capture video from an entirely different angle—video with me actually in it. That will have to wait a while for technology to improve but until then I've decided to add one other perspective to my ride videos: a rear-facing camera. The idea came to me mostly out of a desire to capture video of dogs giving chase to me that seldom make the front-facing view of my GoPro. I'm usually working too hard to try and stay ahead of them to get a good look at them as they chase me down so I thought it might be fun to have a GoPro do that for me. And also, I think it will make for a nice additional perspective when we resume our group rides, hopefully, next year.

I haven't yet had the chance to try the new camera angle on one of my rides but I did take it out for a quick spin up the street to see how it looks. I like!

I've added a GoPro Hero 8 to the front of my bike. My Hero 7 will work the rearview. Time to get out in search of some pups to video! Watch this space!

That's all I've got

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sidelined Mile-Markers, Stained Glass, and Video Talk

Lately, I find myself gauging the passing of time and the seasons by the growth in our gardens. In the spring, young chutes of leatrice rise out of the ground reaching full bloom by mid-July, enticing bumble bees that bumble from one flowery chute to the next, so loaded down with pollen it's a wonder they can make the return trip home. Within a couple more weeks some of our hostas will take their turn at sending up their flowering risers. Before too long I'll begin to notice glimpses of color among the sumac patches along the roadside on my rides. The chill in the air that's sure to follow will be a welcome relief from the hot, humid few weeks that precede it.

And so it goes.

So many mile-markers of summer have been sidelined this year: the Edina Art Fair; the Uptown Art Fair (as well as several other art fairs); the Dakota County Fair, and the State Fair—they've all been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Surprisingly, I'm still getting emails for advanced ticket sales from the organizers of the Renaissance Festival, seemingly oblivious to the pandemic, or very hopeful.

I'm feeling a sense of urgency (as I do every summer around this time) to try and squeeze in as much outdoor activity as possible from my days. It's difficult for me to remain still for very long, especially this time of year—but I had to do exactly that last week. I received a request from a repeat client on my Etsy site, wondering if I could possibly make a suncatcher in a design that's no longer available. I had actually just thrown the pattern out in the previous week's trash, quite sure I wouldn't be needing it again. I took some time to reconstitute the design before cutting and piecing it together and sending it off to its new home in Franklin, Tennessee.

One of my larger panels sold last week. We like to hang them in the windows of our sunporch to deter birds from crashing into the windows. I know I should've been thrilled to receive the notification of the sale but I'm not really. I grow a little attached to them. I detailed some handling instructions for the buyers before heading off to FedEx to have it bubble-wrapped and double-boxed for the trip to its new home in Ohio. It arrived safely 48 hours later. It's always a relief to know they've arrived without issue.

Being down in my basement shop last week was actually kind of nice. I could feel the tug of a dozen other things I would like to have been doing outside but I was also enjoying the slower pace of my stained glass work. I hope to begin working on a replacement panel for the larger one that I mentioned above. I have a design already in mind from a suncatcher I did last winter. I went out last Friday and purchased the glass for it. All that's left is for me to find the time. I know it's around here somewhere... 🤔

The deer in our neighborhood are as plentiful as ever and because of them, our potted flowers don't stand much of a chance. I don't mind, though. I find that a few nibbled flowers are a small price to pay for the blessing of having these beautiful creatures grace our yard. (The blog continues below.)

Charlie isn't at all fond of walking in the heat and humidity of the kind we've been contending with. I try and walk him early in the morning but even then he has little interest. We usually manage 10-14 miles (16-22 km) of walking together each week but lately, we're down around 4-5 miles (6-8 km). I'm hoping to have him out later today after some storms pass through leaving us in cooler air.

I've been contemplating purchasing a drone to use for capturing aerial video while on my rides. There's a "follow me" feature that some drones have that allows the drone to follow a person's cellphone signal, taking video of them in the process. I like the idea of being able to do that but so far, none of the drones I've seen are ready for primetime with respect to the "follow me" feature. They all seem to have difficulty staying locked on to the signal they're supposed to follow. There may be some larger drones that are more capable but I need something smaller that will easily fit in my camelback backpack while leaving room for my sports drink. My wait for the ideal drone will continue.

Until I find the perfect camera I'll have to be content with my simple grounded videos. One change I'm considering, though, is a rear-mounted camera to capture video of the dogs on my gravel rides that give chase but never make my front GoPro's viewfinder. I think that could make for some fun footage!

That's all I've got.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pups, Trees, Golf, and Riding

I'd planned to be out riding early this morning but my legs insisted I take a day off, or at least the morning. Between golfing and yard work, I was on them all day yesterday and they're tired. I hate to let a beautiful day go by without taking advantage of it but perhaps I'll feel up to a late afternoon ride instead. I was thinking of seeing if Tammy would like to go for a drive in the country today as our schedules have been more miss than hit lately and that's mostly my fault.

We had Pepper Jack spend last weekend with us. He's about as rambunctious and adorable as a pup can be and we totally fell in love with him during our few days together. He's a handful! He kept trying to get Charlie to warm up to him but Charlie is hesitant. PJ was both persistent and submissive in his attempts and it was cute to watch him try. I hope he'll find more success in future visits. And he's a little biter! Not at all in a mean way—he's just playing but with his oh-so-sharp puppy teeth, it doesn't take much to puncture the skin on my arms. They're still healing.

Vineland Tree Care was here a few days ago to trim several of our trees. We've been using their services for nearly 6 years, having been burned by fly-by-night operators who routinely come through our neighborhood, lacking any sort of real training as arborists while charging a premium price. Vineland Tree Care sent a team of 5 guys who spent the better part of 3 hours pruning our trees. Mike (the crew's lead) advised me against pruning one of our ash trees because it was in the process of failing due to a split in the main trunk. He said a strong wind storm could cause it to break apart and come down. We're making plans to have them back in the fall to remove the tree. I'm going to miss it because it provides ample shade for our sun-porch in addition to being a beautiful tree. I planted it 28 years ago when it was maybe a little more than an inch in diameter.

I seem to have caught the golfing bug again. Up until this week I've not had much of a desire to be out walking the links. I've golfed a half dozen times but my heart hasn't been in it. That changed for me during a round with Steve on Tuesday. I really enjoy our time golfing together and I want to spend more time improving my game. Steve has been effecting my approach to the game by watching the way he uses his irons instead of longer hitting, oftentimes less accurate clubs to advance the ball while taking hazards out of play. Yeah, that should be an obvious strategy but too often my optimistic side takes over and convinces me that I can pull off a low percentage shot and that's been costing me strokes.

And speaking of golf: Bob came into town this week from Florida. Bob and Karen had been my next-door neighbors for the past 25 years until two years ago when they uprooted to put Minnesota winters behind them. Mark (another neighbor) and I got together with Bob out at Bellwood Oaks for a round of golf. It was a beautiful afternoon to be on the links together, catching up.

I'll close out this entry with a few ride videos taken since the last time I updated my blog.

That's all I've got.

Monday, June 15, 2020

I Sometimes Wonder, and Meet Pepper Jack

When I was stationed in San Diego in the mid '70s, I strolled into a 7/11 one night and purchased The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. I wasn't into politics but considering how Nixon had been forced to resign just a few years earlier, the book intrigued me. I brought it home with me while on leave and my dad noticed it. "What are you reading that for?" he queried. I actually thought he'd be impressed because I believed he was more conservative than not, being a financial manager and subscribing to the Wall Street Journal. I didn't give it much more thought. Years later I was driving in my car with my dad on our way to the driving range at Southern Hills Golf Course when I excitedly told him about a new guy I was listening to on the radio: Rush Limbaugh. I tuned into Rush's program and was somewhat surprised again that my dad wasn't showing any interest in something I thought would appeal to him.

My dad may have at some point been a conservative but those days were clearly over. Rather than support more progressive candidates, though, he instead chose to be cynical about them all. I regret not having taken the initiative to probe his mind more than I did, to get beyond his cynicism.

The last year of his life was spent glued to the OJ Simpson murder trial. He passed away in September 1995, three weeks before Simpson was acquitted. My dad would not have been happy.

I sometimes wonder what he would've made of our politics today.

I've got a new favorite walking route. It's an 8.05 mile (13 km) walk that I like to do at least once each week. It's the perfect distance for me. And here's a typical week of walks for Charlie. I let him choose the direction our walks take us. Like Toby when I used to have him lead our walks, Charlie does a nice job of varying each day's direction.

My Pixel 2 cellphone disconnected from my car's Bluetooth last week and appeared to be trying to reboot but it couldn't get beyond the startup screen. I got home and researched online for a remedy—none of which worked. We used to replace our phones every two years but since retiring nearly 5 years ago, we're reluctant to replace them as often. I was hoping to pull 4 years from my Pixel 2 but I've had to abandon it at 3 years and 3 months. A tech I spoke with said it's likely a faulty motherboard and wouldn't be worth the cost of replacing it.

Our new Pixel 4 XL phones arrived on Saturday which means we're in the early stages of learning the myriad of features they possess, most of which I'll likely forget about and never use. Rachel suggested we watch the various YouTube videos available to learn our phone's features. She upgraded a while back to the same phone.

Speaking of Rachel...she and Drew have a new addition to their family. No, it's not a grandchild for us but a close 2nd. Meet Pepper Jack! He's an adorable Shih Tzu with a feisty personality all his own. We brought Charlie with us when we went to see him a week ago. It was so cute to watch Pep (as Rachel calls him) follow Charlie around. Charlie had to jump up in my lap to get away from him. He's a keeper!

I had my fat-bike in the shop for the past month to have some maintenance performed that's beyond my ability—bleeding the brakes. All of the bike shops are backed up about a month for maintenance requests. I was asking a friend who used to own a shop why it is the local bike shops are reluctant to hire more mechanics. He said it comes down to bench space to work on the bikes. They just don't have enough of it to accommodate more mechanics. That makes sense I suppose but I would think they would factor that into a shop's layout during the planning stages for the business. I think the next time I need my brakes bled, I'll purchase a bleed kit, watch a few YouTube videos and take on the maintenance myself. It can't be that difficult.

I got in a good mix of both gravel and singletrack riding this past week. Variety is important to me as it helps keep fresh my desire to ride. So far this year, walking the links is mostly taking a backseat to my other activities. I've been playing some but not as much as in years past.

I was commenting in a post to Facebook recently that riding the singletrack trails at Murphy-Hanrehan is where I feel most alive. There's nothing in my world that does that for me the way singletrack riding does. I have to exercise caution, though, because of my bleeding disorder (I'm on a blood thinner) but oftentimes it can be difficult to rein in my desire to push my limits. The video below is from my ride at Murphy last Thursday evening. The subsequent videos are from rides since I last updated my blog.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

It's Not Too Much To Ask, Is It?

I read a book a couple of years ago titled Waking Up White by Debbie Irving where she writes about her life of privilege that allowed her to ignore the hardships of others different than herself. Once realizing that she was indeed privileged, she set out to try and more clearly understand the ways in which her privilege manifested itself in her life while at the same time helping her to gain a better understanding of the struggles of others who don't share a similar privilege because of their skin color. It was eye-opening for me and dovetailed well with what has been an ongoing effort in my own life over the past dozen years or more to try and see the world through eyes other than my own. A practice that has revealed in me my own tendency to be ignorant of others' struggles.

I'm a work in progress.

Before reading Waking Up White, I already understood that my life was one of privilege but I had never taken the time to try and put myself in the shoes of someone who wasn't so fortunate, at least not in a way that challenged me. I began to wonder what it must be like to live with the heavy burden that because of my skin color, people were making hurtful, inaccurate judgments of me. It's a thought-provoking, worthwhile exercise to undertake. The problem with it, though, is that I'll oftentimes move too quickly on to other thoughts in my head and I'm back to enjoying my life of privilege. I don't think any of us who aren't a person of color can truly know what it's like to live under the never-ending specter of racial animus. It's a burden and I can't imagine what that would do to my psyche over time. It has to be demoralizing no matter how strong a person may be.

I encourage you to do the same—to try and imagine life as a person of color and under the judgment of others and what that might feel like. Unending.


I rode my bike into South Minneapolis Thursday morning to have a look for myself at the scene where George Floyd was murdered under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that led me there.

As I approached the area I slowed to a stop and observed for a few minutes before getting off my bike and slowly walking around what was a surreal scene with people quietly leaving memorials and paying their respects to George. Pedestrians traversed the intersection while people in vehicles patiently waited for a break. A few people were painting a mural of George on the south wall of the Cup Foods store that George was murdered in front of. A group of 3 men stood around a motorcycle, talking about injustices at the hands of police that they'd witnessed. A minister stood on a corner of the intersection next to me, live-streaming his thoughts to (I assume) his Facebook followers. And then, out of nowhere, it hit me and I found my heart in my throat as I stood in front of this small memorial. I had no connection to this man other than a human one yet there I was on the verge of shedding tears for him. Senseless racism had taken another one of theirs from them and I felt terrible.

Colin Kaepernick taking a knee on the football field during the national anthem in a quiet protest of police brutality was too much for many of you. Conservatives ridiculed him and accused him of being unpatriotic, never once agreeing that maybe the man has a point. He does. Peaceful protests in the streets by those standing up to the violence and marching in George's memory were met with tear gas and rubber bullets while just weeks earlier, hundreds of white protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state capitol protesting the closing of stores during the pandemic. They were met with no violence whatsoever. I'm tired of the hypocritical double-standard that black Americans are faced with each and every day, and I'm tired of family and friends of mine who still don't get it. It's disheartening.

I spoke with the minister after his live-stream. He warned me not to go near the scene of the previous night's riots 3 miles to the east, saying there was still a fair amount of unrest there. I considered his advice but decided to have a look for myself. I figured I could approach the area slowly enough to survey it and make a determination if it was safe. It was.

I went one block out of my way to check on Glass Endeavors where I purchase my stained glass supplies. My heart sank when I saw that one of their front windows had had a cinder block thrown through it. I chatted with Zoi while she worked to clean up the mess. I prayed the shop would survive the coming nights' unrest.

I didn't see any unrest that the minister had warned me of. Instead, I found people walking around in seeming disbelief at what had become of the area. Again, I got off my bike and walked slowly around the area, surveying the damage which was extensive. The AutoZone store was a complete loss with only the front door left mostly still standing while the rest of the building had collapsed. Helpful people worked the area with trash bags picking up what they could, trying to make the best of an awful and sad situation.

The only tension I saw was from a group of people facing off against a phalanx of police, venting their anger at them. Additional police overlooked the crowd from the rooftop of the 3rd precinct police department. The building's windows had been broken out in the previous night's melee. The building would go up in flames later that night—just so unimaginable to me as I stood there in that moment.

There was more to see but I'd seen enough. I got on my bike and began the ride home, somewhat numb—my mind trying to process all I'd seen. How would this play out in the days to come? How would it end?

I have so much to say about all of this but I suppose this is enough for now. I process things best when I write in my blog and I still have so much about what is unfolding all across our country that I need to understand.

Here's a collection of photos from the 38th St and Chicago Ave intersection as well as the Minnehaha Ave and Lake St intersection.

I put together a video of my ride and some of what I saw. If you've seen my ride videos before you'll know that I typically begin and end them in the same place, be it in my driveway or a parking lot; it's my signature of sorts I suppose. It seemed to take on a different feel with this video, though, as I left my world of white privilege and traveled into the inner city, to an area of devastation and sadness before returning to the relative safety I take mostly for granted. It caused me to pause and reflect when I saw it in that light.

The people I observed Thursday morning were sweet people simply in need of respect, fairness, and justice; nothing more than what most of us take for granted. It's not too much to ask, is it?

That's all I've got.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Immigrants, and The Inaugural Heywood—Sort Of

I was up early last Saturday to participate in a ride out of Northfield (25 miles south of me), trying to get a jump on the day with hopes of completing the ride before forecast rains arrived in the afternoon. I tuned to the '70s music station on Sirius XM for the drive, curious to see if I could guess the month and year of Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown rebroadcast that was playing ('70's music will always have a special place in my heart). The first song I heard was "Wildfire" by Michael Murphy, number 29 of the countdown. I guessed the rebroadcast to be from either April or May of 1975 because that song (as songs sometimes do) always takes me back to a memory of sitting on the bus for the ride to school from my apartment in the spring of that year, my senior year. It's also a favorite song of mine. Sure enough, the show was from May 17th, 1975.

The number 22 song on the countdown was "The Immigrant" by Neil Sedaka—a song I hadn't heard in maybe decades.

I drove the stretch of Highway 19 toward Northfield listening to Neil's distinctive voice while contemplating the lyrics to the song, my thoughts drifting to the refugees and asylum seekers on our southern border whose stories have been mostly forgotten, overshadowed by the coronavirus that continues to loom over much of the world. Are we still that welcoming place we were led to believe we are; that shining city on the hill—a beacon for others to look up to? Were we ever?

I arrived at the parking lot near Bridge Square with the song still in my head where it would remain throughout the ride.

I accompanied Tammy to an appointment in South Minneapolis Monday morning for some minor surgery. I wasn't keen on hanging out in the hospital for the few hours she'd be there so I went for a walk along streets I was somewhat familiar with, having lived not far from the hospital when I lived with Noy in her home at 2406 13th Ave South from 1981-83 before we were married. I walked past her old house to have a look and reminisce for a moment before moving on.

My walk eventually took me to the Minneapolis Institute of Art where there was a striking display of thousands of life vests tied to the columns at the front of the building. The life vests were actual vests worn primarily by desperate refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria and Afghanistan before making the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece in 2015-16. It was a sobering display and one that brought "The Immigrant" song to the fore of my mind again to run on a loop in my head for the rest of the day.

Is turning our backs on the crisis the response Jesus would've offered? I don't know about your Jesus, but my Jesus is better than that.

I'm saddened by what's become of our country and I wonder how much longer we can keep this fragile democracy together traveling the path we've been taken down; punishing refugees and those seeking asylum; stripping away assistance for the neediest among us to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy; ignoring the rule of law and replacing experienced civil servants with grifters loyal to a corrupt, lying, destructive, and totally incompetent president. We must do better.

(This blog entry continues below)

The ride I was taking part in Saturday morning was the inaugural Heywood ride, replacing what used to be the Almonzo gravel ride. The Heywood was actually canceled due to the pandemic but at Michael's suggestion, a handful of us decided to ride it anyway, separately, as we've been doing for the past two months of Saturday rides along various routes. It was such a fun experience. I was a little concerned going into the ride not having done this distance (110 miles, 177 km) on my gravel bike. I paced myself and settled in for a steady-Eddie approach to the distance and chipped away at it while capturing some video along the way. We couldn't have asked for better weather with moderate temps and a nice breeze at our backs for the return.

A few of us met in Bruce's backyard afterward for a celebratory beer and conversation about the ride. The social aspect of our rides has been missing of late so it was nice to be able to do this in our social-distancing way. I had to laugh, though, because at one point I had to spring up out of my chair to stretch out a cramping left hamstring. Moments later, Bruce popped up out of his seat to stretch out a cramping quadricep muscle. It's the sort of pain you earn—a pain that says, job well done!

That's all I've got.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Mice, Starlink, and of course, Riding

Our home has become a no-kill place for mice. We'll occasionally catch a mouse in one of our traps down in the utility room or in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I always feel bad that the only solution seemed to be to kill them to rid our home of them. I found a no-kill trap online a month ago and it appears to work really well. I've caught two mice so far. The only improvement I'd like to see with it is an ability for the trap to send a notification to my phone when a mouse has been caught. I doubt there's much of a demand for a feature such as that but I'd pay extra for it. I try and check our traps twice each day.

Our spring season seems slow to get off the ground this year. We've had a smattering of warm days but nothing sustained. It looks like our warmer temps will arrive on Thursday for an extended stay. I made two trips to Gertens this morning to buy some hanging baskets and a few flats of flowers. I had to bring them inside due to one last night of frost warnings for tonight. Tammy and I plan to finish the remainder of our flower shopping on Wednesday. Gertens is typically very crowded no matter what time of day or day of the week we go but not so today. I would estimate 80% of the shoppers were wearing masks along with 100% of the staff. Do masks make a difference? I have to believe they do or caregivers wouldn't be so insistent on wearing them. That's reason enough for me to don one.

Have you seen the Starlink satellites, a broadband project by Elon Musk, flying overhead? They're quite cool to see although I have friends who aren't too fond of them, one of those friends being an astronomer. There are so many of them that they can be a nuisance for astronomers peering into deep space. There are several apps you can use to help determine when the next viewing in your area will be. I use Find Starlink: android and iPhone. The app will tell you where and when to look in the sky and the magnitude of brightness to expect.

Sales from my Etsy site were slow after the 1st of the year and I was expecting them to stay that way due to the downturn in the economy but I was surprised with 6 sales last month. It's about that time of year when I close up shop until next winter. But still, I'm hoping to take advantage of whatever rainy days are in store for us and add to my inventory.

We had 6 deer in our yard well before dusk one night recently. In the mix were triplets that were born last spring, still staying close to their mother. It's crazy the amount of wildlife we have in the suburbs where one would think we'd have forced them from their habitat with our presence. They love to munch on our plants and I really don't mind. I love seeing them.

After 19 years of faithful service, our water heater developed a slow leak and had to be replaced. The repairman who replaced it said the typical life expectancy for a water heater is only 10 years. We're good-to-go again.

I made it down to the trails along the Minnesota River last week for a really fun ride. It had been a few months since I was last there. Most of the floodwaters have receded leaving the trails in very nice condition. I hope to keep making this ride a regular part of my warmer weather riding and not just during the winter.

And one last video—this one from last Saturday's ride out of Northfield. It's our way of keeping our cycling group connected even though we've put our group rides on pause during the pandemic. After analyzing the forecast winds, Bruce drafts up a route for us all to ride; a route that hopefully gives us a tailwind on the return back to Northfield. Some ride the route clockwise while others ride it counterclockwise, giving us a chance to stop for a few minutes when we see another rider and chat a little while keeping our distance. These rides have become one of the highlights of my week.

Stay safe.

That's all I've got.

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Walk and a Chat

What a beautiful Minnesota day today! I'm out on the deck for the first time this year, enjoying the sounds of Mandolin Orange with Charlie at my side. And there's little to no wind for a change!

We received our stimulus payment of $2400 into our bank account last week. What's happening with the coronavirus pandemic is such a huge hit to our economy. If you trust the science behind this pandemic, this is only the beginning stages of what lies ahead. I'd have rather seen the stimulus money directed at those who were hurt by the downturn in the economy rather than to people who suffered no loss in income. This amount of money will do little to help those whose pay has been drastically cut by businesses that had to close their doors.

There is going to have to be significantly more outlay in the form of monies for those in need to carry us through this. For all of the bluster from Trump about the strength of the economy, we're seeing that much of it was merely a veneer as people are struggling to provide even the basics for their families after less than a month of unemployment. I don't know what the answers are to getting us back on track but I do know a necessary component will be voting this clown of a president and a boatload of Republican representatives out of office this November. From my perspective, they've been far more a hindrance than a help with their lack of leadership.

I golfed for the first time this year on Monday. It was nice to back out on the links again. After a few holes, the single ahead of me waved me through. I was being pushed by a single behind me so we decided to pair-up. Within the first 30 seconds of chatting with Mike (not his real name), it was clear that, by the things he was saying, he's a very conservative man. He told me that he's the lead pastor for a church of 10,000 members here in the south metro. He began the church as a bible study in 1995 with 13 people. I thought to myself, this is going to be an interesting round.

We talked about a lot of stuff and I found myself having to push back on some of what he was telling me—some blatant right-wing propaganda. He was saying it's not right that Muslims are still allowed to worship in their mosques when Christians can't worship in their churches. I said I didn't believe that was the case. He was emphatic that it was. He's wrong. Mike also talked about the Clinton Foundation and how it was nothing more than a way for them to pedal their influence around the world and that it is a sham organization. It's not. I had to remind him that it was Trump's organization that was fined for abuses. It troubled me that he'd fallen for this sort of nonsense. I would expect someone in his position to be more discerning about such things.

We talked about same-sex marriage and I told him how I'm troubled by the way the church chooses to focus on that and not the things that the majority of the people filling their church pews are involved in: namely, idolatry. We all have so many idols in our lives but they're never the deal-breakers for the church that same-sex marriage is. I was trying to mostly give him things to consider rather than getting hard answers from him in that moment—because I don't think there are good answers he could give me although I was open to hearing him out.

I recall at one point stopping Mike in mid-sentence when he was heaping praise on Trump. I said, "You know he's using you, right?" Without missing a beat he said, "But it's mutual". The thought of making a deal with the devil kept playing on a loop in my head after that remark. Somehow, I think he is missing the mark of what it means to be a Christian—as are evangelicals worldwide for that matter (in my opinion). I would love to have an opportunity to pair up with him again someday because I have so much more I'd like to convey to him.

He mentioned the names of a few controllers I worked with; Brad, Doug, and Lee—that they're members of his church. I was actually impressed that he was able to come up with those names out of a flock of 10,000. He's not a dumb man. How he chooses to inform himself in political matters would say otherwise, though. And that's what leaves me troubled—watching in real-time how Mike could be so easily swayed by lies because of a lack of discernment on his part; either that or a willingness to want to believe what he wants to believe—facts be damned! What does that say about how men with an agenda could have and likely did influence church doctrine going back to the time of Christ?

We eventually talked about other stuff and I actually enjoyed my time with Mike. He is a very nice guy and (not that it matters) a decent golfer. We're simply on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I do hope our paths cross again someday.

I was back down in the studio last week working on my most involved sun-catcher yet. I'm happy with how it turned out. It's priced quite a lot higher than other offerings of mine but it's actually a bargain for the amount of labor that went into it. If it fails to sell, I'm fine with keeping it.

We've paused our group rides out of Northfield for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. Rather than totally lose the sense of community the rides provide, Bruce has begun organizing a Saturday ride on a specified route that we all ride individually, either clockwise or counterclockwise, sharing photos of our journey with others via Facebook. It's such a great idea. I'll have to take a pass on tomorrow's ride due to some issues I'm having with the shifter for my rear derailleur on my gravel bike. I'll take to paved roads tomorrow on my road bike instead with hopes of being back on gravel next week.

The video below is from last Saturday's ride. Here's a link to the route we rode individually along with some photos.

That's all I've got.

Monday, April 13, 2020

It's Clearly Time For Plan B

When learning the art of air traffic control, many trainers like to instill in their trainees the need for a plan B in case their initial plan for separation in a given scenario turns sour. You don't want to be so locked into making a poor decision work that you fail to utilize your alternate plan until it's too late. It's sound advice. And that's where I see us today as a nation, poised to reelect the most incompetent, unfit president in our history because many of you are insisting on making your initial plan work. I get that some of you voted for Trump as a protest vote or that you're a one-issue voter and that's all that matters (I was that guy once as well). I didn't agree with your vote because it was plainly obvious to most that he wasn't presidential material but given the built-in checks and balances of our democracy, I at least expected he would be prevented from acting on his worst inclinations.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Trump has obliterated our time-tested system of checks and balances with a willing Senate and a Republican apparatus that's content to look the other way and give a pass to Trump's criminal actions in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy and for packing our courts with a hard-right judiciary that also appears only too willing to go along with this grab for power. That's not democracy. It's authoritarian rule with a good amount of fascism added to the mix for flavor. It's not something to cozy up to or look upon with pride. You should be running from it.

I'm at a loss to understand what it is about the GOP in its present form that has people so beholden to it. They're not the party of fiscal responsibility they like to claim they are, nor are they the party of family values—not with a man like Trump leading them. They're pro-life you say? No, not when Trump has directed immigrant and refugee children at our southern border not be given vaccines and not when budgets are cut for needy and struggling families to help offset losses in tax revenue caused by irresponsible tax cuts rammed through by Republicans. How is any of that pro-life? It's been ten years that they've been tirelessly working to destroy the Affordable Care Act while offering up nothing in its place. Recall how Trump promised a new plan within a month of taking office. It was a lie. There was never a plan nor are they working on one.

I politely asked a friend recently in a Facebook discussion what it is about the Republican Party that has him in support of it. I was hoping to get him to ponder the question and while doing that, hopefully, maybe see that none of the things he once liked about the GOP still exist, if they ever did. He never responded to my question—I suppose, preferring to stick with his plan A, right into the ground.

It's clearly time for plan B.

That's all I've got.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Giving Thanks

We're doing our best to shelter-in-place here in Minnesota in our collective effort to "flatten the curve" of the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential services are still operating but most likely with reduced hours, that includes liquor stores. Plexiglass shields are showing up at grocery store checkout aisles and elsewhere to protect workers from customers who may be infected. Markers on the floor provide recommended spacing for customers waiting in line both inside and out.

My heart goes out to the millions who have been laid off from work and have no income, especially those who were barely scratching out a living to begin with. Many retirees are also hurting as their 401Ks have taken a huge hit over the past six weeks with significant losses in the stock market. The market was due for a correction but I don't think many were imagining one such as this.

I'm so impressed by those who continue to show up for work each day to keep the basic infrastructures and various other services of our communities intact. Where would we be without them? I hate to even imagine. I'm sure to always tell the person ringing up my purchases at the grocery store (or wherever) that I'm appreciative of them being there, especially during this time. How nice it would be if when this is all over and we've had some time to reflect, that we'd come to realize the important role these people play in our lives and pay them an amount that shows our appreciation and how much they're valued by us—how we're so dependent on them. We've not done that to this point.

And healthcare workers: I can't fully appreciate all they're sacrificing for us during this time—none of us truly can unless we're in their shoes. I found this Tweet from a 74-year-old doctor from two days ago to be sobering. He's risking it all to be there for others. There are tens of thousands of healthcare workers in New York alone who have answered the call to help with the crisis. These people are nothing less than heroes.

The Trump administration is failing badly as they continue to show no ability or desire to lead us through this crisis. Daily briefings for the country have turned into mini Trump rallies. People are losing jobs, losing loved ones and losing their lives while Trump stands before the nation and brags about being #1 on Facebook. Unfucking believable! But like everything else the man says, it's not true. Thankfully, some mainstream media sites have stopped covering the daily rallies (disguised as press briefings) and will only break in when there's actually information of substance worthy of coverage. I have little desire to comment any further on the imbecile in the White House. Not tonight.

I thought I had put my bikes away (for purposes of outdoor riding) for the foreseeable future last week while the pandemic plays out, worried about crashing and ending up in the ER. Some friends convinced me that I needn't do that. I reminded them that I'm the guy who actually fell asleep while riding my bike a few years ago. (Truth be told—I was on a heavy dose of prednisone at the time and sleeping very little at night.) I don't think they heard me. Anyway, I'm going to continue to ride outdoors but I won't be riding as hard as I maybe otherwise would and all of my rides will be solo. I'll be on my bike. That's all that matters.

Speaking of rides, below are my two most recent ride videos—the first one from last week and the 2nd one from yesterday.

Stay safe, my friends.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Safely Home and Silver Linings

Rachel and Holly made it home safely from South Africa a few days earlier than planned. With things changing so much with respect to international travel, we were relieved to see they made it home with no problems along the way. Rachel is doing a 14-day self-quarantine to be on the safe side in case she's been infected. That makes good sense. The screen for the COVID-19 virus when they re-entered the country was not much more than a cursory once-over. We spent 45 minutes with her on a video chat yesterday. It was nice to see her and hear a little more about her travels.

Much of our country is sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 virus. Non-essential stores are closed as are restaurants however, most restaurants are open for either carryout or curbside pickup. Paper towels and toilet paper are in short supply as is hand sanitizer. A worker in a store recently told me that manufacturers aren't taking orders from stores for hand sanitizer at this time—it's all being sent to hospitals and other care facilities.

The group of guys I ride with from Northfield has suspended our Tuesday night and Saturday morning gravel rides to lessen the chance for passing along the virus to others. It's a smart move and one I was expecting. The guys out of Lakeville that I ride with are still getting together but I won't be joining them until we're well on the backside of this pandemic. It seems an unnecessary risk.

And speaking of risks—I'm still riding outdoors. I've been toying with the idea of parking my bikes and utilizing my indoor trainer instead to remove the risk for a riding injury that may need medical help. I'd rather not burden our healthcare workers any more than they already are but neither do I want to spend time in a hospital where exposure to the C-19 virus is (I would think) higher than most other places. It's possible that once our situation here turns dier (I'm convinced it will), I'll limit myself to indoor rides. It's not nearly the same as being outdoors but they're an excellent workout.

I try not to fret about the possibility of contracting the C-19 virus but I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally think about it. Would I be one of the lucky ones (one of the 80% who would have relatively mild symptoms) or would I be one of the more extreme cases? I came across this sobering tweet last night. The main takeaway from the video for me is that if we go the way of Italy (I tend to believe we will), only 1 person in 50 who is in need of a ventilator will have access to one. That's a frightening number. Most of us know people in the at-risk category. Take a moment to ponder that 1 in 50 number while being mindful that it's a conservative estimate.

For the longest time, I try and find the silver linings in the curveballs life throws; for many, tho, there are few in this pandemic—especially for those who will lose people close to them or who won't be receiving a paycheck, and those whose businesses won't be able to survive more than a week or two of being shuttered—if that. I truly don't know how we make this work without a good dose of that democratic socialism some of us on the left like to occasionally tout. I'm sure there are silver linings to be found, tho. I've seen lots of families with their pets leading the way walking past our house the last few days and I've noticed a lot less traffic on the road when I'm out biking. I'm noticing more neighbors than ever out chatting in the quiet neighborhood streets, making sure to keep a safe distance from one another in this day of social distancing—a term I'm sure very few of us had ever heard of until recently. Those are all small silver linings. They're a start.

I finally made it back down into my studio to knock out a stained glass project this past week. I'm pleased with how it turned out. The design was something I came up with a while back but I wasn't sure if I'd take the time to breathe life into it. I'm glad I did. Here's a link to it on my Etsy site where you can see additional photos of it.

The video below is from our first (and possibly last) Tuesday Night Gravel ride of the season with the guys from Northfield. I'm hopeful we'll get the green light to begin them once again toward the middle of summer but it's anybody's guess at this point. I'm going to miss those rides!

That's all I've got.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Point of Law, Rachel's Big Adventure, and Thoughts About Covid-19

When I was a boy in the late '60s and early '70s you could always find the AM radio on the countertop in the kitchen of our home in Bloomington, MN tuned to WCCO. It was the first thing turned on in the morning and the last thing turned off at night. The on-air personalities were all very familiar and to some extent, I suppose they felt a little like family. One of my favorite segments to listen to was Point of Law narrated by Charlie Boone in the late afternoon. The few-minute segment involved a brief synopsis of an actual court case followed by a commercial break before revealing the outcome of the case. I always found them fascinating to listen to as I'd try and figure out how I'd decide the case before hearing the outcome. Here's an example. Go to this link and scroll halfway down the page to find more than a couple dozen other Point of Law cases.

In the evenings I'd sometimes listen to Radio Mystery Theater on WCCO. It was simple storytelling entertainment where you allowed your imagination to create the image of the characters as you followed along. Here's a link to years of episodes of RMT.

As I write this Rachel is in the air and on her way to Johannesburg, South Africa with her friend Holly. They left Minneapolis Saturday morning with a several hour layover in NYC before leaving for Paris, France where they just spent the past three days. They'll be arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa at 3:20 CDT where they'll be staying with some friends for about 10 days.

Their trip has been in the works for months so they were reluctant to allow the Coronavirus to thwart their plans. Fortunately, there are very few reported cases of the virus in South Africa at this point. I did the fatherly thing and queried her as to whether she should consider canceling the trip but it's really not my place to say any more than that. I care for her safety but she's no longer my little daughter. As I go to publish this, Trump is giving a broadcast to the nation. He says he's suspending all incoming flights from Europe to the US for the next 30 days beginning on Friday. I'm not sure how this will impact Rachel and Holly as they're returning via Istanbul, Turkey. They may have to find another way home. I'm hopeful that there will be exemptions for Americans who pass a screen for the Covid-19 virus.

Talk of the Covid-19 virus and its potential to sweep across the globe is being covered extensively, much to the dismay of the Trump administration and conservatives who would rather it be downplayed in favor of not upsetting the markets and thereby threatening Trump's chances for reelection. It's a little late for that as the Dow has lost more than 20% of its value in the past few weeks taking it into bear market territory—in large measure because of a lack of leadership on Trump's part, evidenced by mixed messages and a flippant attitude toward the impact the virus poses.

I wouldn't think the Covid-19 virus could be politicized but it has been (in my opinion) by conservatives as they attempt to blame Democrats for hyping news coverage of the global pandemic. I can only assume then that Democrats are also responsible for Italians putting their country on lockdown and a whole host of other measures being taken by other countries as they try and stay ahead of the virus. It's hard to imagine not covering such an event. That would be the height of irresponsibleness.

You can't script this.  From the article: "Meanwhile, critics have noted the irony of prominent officials downplaying the outbreak even as the disease may silently have been spreading among the Trump administration’s own members and supporters."

The virus has the potential to overwhelm our healthcare facilities as people seek treatment and as healthcare workers are infected and forced off the job leaving not enough people to treat those in need. We're in the early stages of the virus here so it's anybody's guess how it will unfold in the coming weeks. My concern mostly lies with the elderly and those whose bodies may not be up for the fight the virus presents. It will be a death sentence for many should they contract it. With no vaccine and asymptomatic people unknowingly spreading the virus, it potentially poses a great risk to many.

If nothing else, I hope we take away from this how ill-prepared we are as a nation to deal with something so threatening to so many. I spoke in my previous blog entry about how the Trump administration has cut dozens of agencies whose job it is to be on the frontlines of detecting and fighting such a threat to not only us but to the entire globe. That's not leadership.

Again, I have to recommend the 6-part Netflix series titled Pandemic. It's a very important documentary for our times about people on the frontlines working to identify and thwart the next pandemic.

I've been on my gravel bike a fair amount lately. It's been nice. The video below is from last Saturday's ride with the Silver Cycling group out of Lakeville.

That's all I've got.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gone Vegan, Designer's Block, and Pandemic Talk

Tammy and I have gone vegan—sort of. We've been attempting to go without meat and fish for the past five weeks with good success. I've said from the outset that I would be happy if I was maybe 80% in adherence to the diet but so far I'm closer to 95%. We're still trying to figure out what works for us as we've had our share of failed experiences with some different plant-based meat substitutes. It's important to not let those bad experiences dissuade us from pressing on and finding enough alternatives that work for us. I think we're doing pretty well.

I unexpectedly took an extended break from my glass studio while piddling around with some other alternative style designs, mostly Art Nouveau, but mostly I was experiencing a designer-block of sorts. I was able to come up with several designs (an example) but nothing fully fleshed out. I switched gears and settled on this design instead. I liken it to a modest Japanese style contemporary home. Here's a link to it on my Etsy site. I may try and do another before moving on.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that we have a President who lies as easily as he breathes. And that's especially troubling when we have (what is likely to be) a national emergency unfolding in the form of a pandemic-like flu outbreak that's spreading across the globe and threatens to disrupt/take the lives of many. We need an administration that's more concerned with the health of the public rather than the investments of those playing the markets. It appears we have the latter. It's unconscionable to me that Trump's* administration has spent the past three years making irresponsible cuts to agencies that are tasked with overseeing research vital to the health of not only our country but the world at large. I don't believe a word this administration says about our current situation with respect to the Covid-19 virus—how can anyone? But not only that; they're muzzling those non-partisan voices who would dare to speak candidly about what they know. Sound familiar?

Rachel turned Tammy and me on to a recently released 6-part series on Netflix titled Pandemic. It profiles the work of many on the frontlines who are working tirelessly to identify and thwart the next pandemic that many think we're overdue to face. It's fascinating, disturbing, and timely. Do check it out if you have a way to stream it.

I've had such a good run of outdoor riding this winter—the best I've had since I began fat-biking eight years ago. The trails are an icy, rutted mess now after last weekend's warm weather so I'm avoiding them until we get some fresh snow that I'm confident will come. I've spent so little time on my indoor trainer, and while I do enjoy riding it, I'm happier outdoors.

This is some video from last Friday's ride.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Winter Wonderland and Cycling Without Age

I've been neglecting my stained glass art for the past 5 weeks as I find myself enjoying our Minnesota winter like maybe never before. It began when I studded the tires on my fat-bike and took to the trails; something I've not been able to do the past few winters because of ice and a promise to my doctor that I wouldn't get too crazy on my bike knowing that head injuries and coumadin don't play well together. It also helps that we've had some very reasonable temps for being outdoors—just a few degrees below freezing for the most part.

I woke up this morning to see that we were living in a snow globe. It was beautiful! This winter finds me looking forward to snow in the forecast, whereas recent winters not so much—even the 8" (20 cm) variety of snowfalls we received overnight and today is perfectly fine with me. I waited for the snow to stop before clearing our drive and walkways then I suited up to snowshoe the river trails.

I arrived to see that several fat-bikes had already begun to reestablish the trail so I did my best to work the outer edges of the track with my snowshoes to add some width to what was already there. I considered bringing some tunes along but music would only disrupt the solitude of the river bottoms on this beautiful late afternoon. My thoughts and my surroundings were the only entertainment I'd need. I may try and make it back tomorrow with my bike.

Some photos from my hike.

I saw a featured segment on a local newscast last spring or summer about a program called Cycling Without Age (CWA) where volunteers (aka pilots) take elderly and disabled people on bicycle rides using a rickshaw, or in this case, a trishaw. There was a new chapter of the program in St. Paul and the news segment featured the man who'd organized it. The program has its roots in Denmark where Ole Kassow began it there in 2012. I'll let Ole explain CWA in detail in the video below.

I tried to contact the man I saw in the video on the local newscast but I never received a reply (I'm guessing my email ended up in his spam folder). CWA is something I think I would love to be a part of and fortunately for me, I have some friends in Northfield that I ride with who are beginning a chapter of the program in their city, about a half-hour drive away for me. And not only that but there's also a chapter being formed in Lakeville (where I live) that I've committed to helping out. From all I can see, it's an excellent volunteering opportunity for me

I attended a CWA presentation in Northfield two nights ago featuring none other than Ole and his partner Pernille from Denmark. They literally travel the globe putting on presentations for cities where people have expressed an interest in opening a chapter, and luckily for my friends in Northfield, they were able to have Ole and Pernille schedule a stop in their city after having done a presentation in Rochester earlier in the day.

They told stories of people living in care facilities who were somewhat reluctant to climb aboard the trishaw but once they were out on the road feeling the wind in their face, they came alive and absolutely loved the experience. But more importantly, Ole and Pernille talked about how the trishaw is actually just a tool, a tool used to create an environment where those, oftentimes living out the twilight of their lives, can feel validated as they chat with the pilot who is providing the ride and recall for them memories from their youth. Their lives have a newfound meaning they might not otherwise have for the time spent with their pilot. Relationships are formed and future rides give them something to look forward to. How awesome is that?!

Ole and Pernille spent most of last week in Minnesota with a trip into Wisconsin yesterday before returning to Copenhagen this afternoon. It's truly an amazing thing they're doing!

After their presentation two nights ago, we went out for beers and a bite to eat while getting to know them better and learning even more about their organization. I'm impressed by all I've seen and heard.

If this is something that interests you, please know that there's no requirement to be a strong cyclist to volunteer as a pilot. The trishaws are actually e-bikes with a motor and powerful battery to aid in propelling the bike. I'm excited about it and am looking forward to being a part of Cycling Without Age!

The video below is from a ride I did a week ago with the guys from Michael's Cycles in Chaska. Check out the pup in the video. She had a blast out there!

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Goodbye Sweet Sue

Sue, my brother's wife, and life partner passed away in their home with family at her side late this morning at 11:00 Pacific time after a nearly 5-year struggle with cancer. They were married for more than 47 years and together for more than 50.

I was just a boy when she came into our family. I've added two videos at the end of this post from those early years where Sue can be seen in her early 20s.

I admired her for her never-wavering faith and for her kindness toward others. Sue also had a keen eye for design and turned that into her profession. She was always such a sweet and beautiful presence to be around.

Tammy and I took a trip out west to see Sue and Bryan (aka Dave) where they live near Portland in the spring of 2018 while Sue's cancer was in remission. We had such a nice time and are so thankful for having made the trip. We will miss her greatly.