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.