Monday, January 27, 2020

Mark Kooiman, a Mini Reunion and Movin' On

I got word last week that Mark Kooiman passed away just weeks after his 60th birthday. Mark and I worked together in the late '80s to early '90s but our paths then diverged and we saw very little of each other after that. That wasn't uncommon working in the kind of 24-hour facility we worked in. Mark was a quiet type who mostly kept to himself. I didn't know him well but still, it was shocking and sad news to learn. I've looked for Mark's obituary but I haven't been able to find it.

I was out riding on Monday and feeling like I should've stayed home. My adrenal gland was still in its prednisone induced slumber and I had so little energy since coming off the drug 6 days earlier. I tell myself that by forcing my body to workout, I'm encouraging my adrenal gland to re-engage. I doubt it works that way but it's what motivates me to get off the couch. I was back down riding the trails again Wednesday afternoon and I felt so much better. The old me had returned and I was feeling normal again as well as thankful. There's some video of Wednesday's ride embedded below.

Keith McKay and Cindy came into town for a few days last week from where they live in Fort Worth, TX. Keith and I worked together early in our careers before he transferred to a different area and then years later to Albuquerque Center. I'd lost touch with Keith for a number of years until we reconnected 5 or 6 years ago. We tried to get a mini-reunion of friends together but we were mostly unsuccessful. Still, a few of us met at Mall of America for dinner and conversation Monday evening. It was nice to do some catching up. It was fun seeing how none of us has aged at all. It's amazing how that works!

The 3rd time turned out to not be the charm I was hoping it would be when I placed yet another order for a lava lamp. I'd returned the previous two because of cloudiness that wouldn't clear up. I wasn't going to bother ordering another but then I noticed the price of them had dropped to $25 so I figured, why not? I was disappointed to see that this latest one was also cloudy but rather than send it back, I decided to see if I could use a remedy I'd found online from others who had experienced the same problem. It sort of worked but the blue food coloring I used to color the water was nowhere near the original color I was trying to achieve. I ended up adding some other colors to see what would happen and I eventually settled on a reddish/purple color. The video doesn't quite capture the actual color. At least it's clear.

Tammy and I drove down to see Drew's band play at a bar/restaurant in Rochester on Friday night. They've played a number of gigs there but it'll soon be closing so we wanted to be sure and see them play because we're not sure when we'll get the chance again. My favorite song of theirs, Movin' On, written by Clay their lead guitarist is embedded below. It was a song that I instantly liked the first time I heard it a couple years ago.

We try and take in the Lake Harriet Annual Kite Festival each year if it's not too cold. The temperature was ideal this year (for late January) but the winds weren't quite strong enough to get the larger kites aloft. The kids didn't seem to mind as you can see in the video below. If you have little ones and you want to take them to a fun event, put this kite festival on your calendar.

That's all I've got









Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Schitt's Creek and Prednisone Blues

I received a message last week through my Etsy account from a couple in Michigan inquiring if I'd be interested in making 4 smallish stained glass panels for them. They gave me some ideas of what they were after based on some examples they found on my Etsy site. I opened my DeltaCad program and proceeded to sketch a design that I thought might appeal to them. It did. We exchanged a few more messages to iron out the details and then I got busy breathing life into their request.

I've had other inquiries for custom work through Etsy but never one that resulted in someone commissioning me to do a project for them. It was a good experience to walk through the process of putting an order together, completing it and sending it off. Honestly, tho, I have to be careful about commission work because it's not the same as when I'm producing work that I'm moved to make. I don't suppose I have much to worry about in that regard.

I can't say enough good things about Etsy. I could never imagine a better way of being able to showcase my artwork and offer it for others to purchase. And the cost to sell on the platform is very reasonable.

I've been binge-watching Schitt's Creek on Netflix. I started watching it a few months ago but didn't get very far into it before moving on. Tammy watched it and loved it so I thought I'd give it another try. The writing is brilliant! Seriously, if you're looking for something funny and lighthearted, this is it. Check it out. My favorite character is Alexis. They're all good but she's so believable in her role.

Is it wrong for a guy in his 60s to love his lava lamp? I've had one for the last 30+ years and while it still works well, the lamp's glass is becoming etched. I purchased a new one recently and I'm really happy with it. I ordered another in a different color scheme from the same manufacturer but it's cloudy and shows no signs of clearing up. This is actually the 2nd one like this that I've bought and they've both been cloudy. It looks like I'll be sending this one back as well. Is the 3rd time a charm?

My headaches have run their course and I'm no longer carrying around a dose of Imitrex in my shirt pocket. It's been 10 days since they left and I've spent the past week weaning myself off prednisone, the drug I use as a prophylactic during a headache cycle. I'm done with the drug as of this morning and am patiently waiting for my adrenal gland to wake from its prednisone-induced slumber and begin to once again produce the cortisol my body needs. Until that time, fatigue has me more or less sidelined—at least for today, anyway.

I'd planned to spend a good part of my day riding the fresh snow on the trails along the river bottoms but it's not happening with my energy levels ebbing as they are. That's okay. I had a good week last week riding the trails at Murphy, Lebanon, and the river bottoms. Between them all, I had 144 miles of fat-bike bliss thanks in part to my newly studded tires.

I've taken a pass on adding studs to my tires until now because of the cost which was typically around $1 per stud. With 320 studs per pair of wheels, it gets a bit spendy and I was content to ride indoors. But they've come down considerably in price and now cost about 1/3 of what they used to. It's nice to be riding outdoors again and I'm so impressed with how my studded tires handle on both the slick trails and icy lakes. I've been enjoying my fatty as much as ever. I hope to be back doing my thing again tomorrow, energy levels willing.

That's all I've got







Thursday, January 2, 2020

2019 By The Numbers And Goodbye Old Friend

I'm on a sardine kick lately. I know, I'm weird. I hadn't had a can of sardines in dozens of years until a few weeks ago. I was strolling the aisles at Cub Foods when I spied the sardine section and for whatever reason, I placed a few cans in my cart. Tammy gave me a sideways glance when she saw my purchase after returning home. Fast-forward to a few days ago when I was back at Cub to replenish my disappeared sardine supply—I think I must've had 20 cans in my cart. I'm at the checkout bagging my groceries when the guy ringing up my order yells down to me, "What's up with all the sardines!?" "I like 'em!" was my quick reply. And I do! I'm glad I wasn't buying 20 packs of condoms.

I continue to add to my inventory of stained glass sun-catchers (my most recent creation) but I think I'm about to focus my attention on the openings above our main-level cabinets and come up with a design for stained glass panels for them. There are 15 panels in total to be done. I've got some ideas kicking around in my head but I've yet to sit down and sketch something out.

There will be no New Year's resolutions for me. There never are.

My riding mileage goal going into 2019 was 5000 miles (8000 km). While I met my goal, a lot of those miles were done on my indoor trainer, and while it gives me a great workout, it gives me credit for going faster than I otherwise would on the road. But even factoring that in, I surpassed my goal. I'll use the same goal of 5000 miles this year. I suppose that's a resolution of sorts.

2019 by the numbers (thanks to my Garmin devices):

road bike: 1200 miles
fatbike: 90 miles
gravel bike: 2097 miles
Kickr Core (indoor trainer): 2346 miles
total: 5733 miles
Continuing...
Elliptical: 74 miles
golfing: 279 miles
walks with Charlie: 198 miles
treadmill: 69 miles
walking: 207 miles

I've been reluctant to do any outdoor riding while I'm still in my cluster headache phase for fear of an attack while I'm out on the trails. I carry an Imitrex nasal spray with me but those don't always work and the last thing I want is to be far removed from a place to comfortably and quietly manage my pain. I've got a portable tank of oxygen that I keep in the car and it's my go-to remedy for these beasts when they appear either at home or away. Thankfully, this phase of headaches isn't as bad as previous cycles and I'm fairing well. Where I'm typically on a daily dose of 50 mg of prednisone as a preventative to the headaches, I've been able to get by only 35 mg so far.

I felt well enough yesterday to take to the trails along the river bottoms. What a beautiful day it was to be out riding. I had such a nice time. One sad reality, though. As I approached Black Dog powerplant I got my first glimpse of it minus its large smokestack. The smokestack (along with two smaller stacks) was dismantled last summer. I've mentioned before how I've been doing workouts in the shadow of that stack for decades—34 years. In the mid-'80s and into the '90s I used to be a runner and would run thousands of miles along Black Dog road. I've also done my share of cycling on that same stretch of what used to be a pothole-strewn surface, abandoned by the city of Burnsville some 10 years ago and since reclaimed and resurfaced by a cooperation between the city and the powerplant. Honestly, I would like to have stood under that familiar, ever-present stack one last time and said a proper goodbye. It was like an old friend.

Embedded below is some video from yesterday's ride.

That's all I've got