Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Riding In The Snow

I've had 3 rides in the snow in the past two weeks, crazy!

The first was at night, and there was just too much snow.  We just went up horse trail and back down after finding that there were nearly 6" of snow at the top.

Then, last week, I rode a ride with blue sky and sun, and just a sprinkling of snow - about an inch.    It was phenomenal - one of the prettiest days of riding I've had in months.

Today I set out in the rain with gray clouds, not quite as exciting as the sunny day.  But as soon as I started climbing up the hills in the forest the snow started collecting fast.  I ended up riding through about 3" of snow.

I think 3" is about the limit of snow I'll ride in.  Coming down it was OK, but going up was tough going because I spun the tires some.  Plus, the snow really started to build up in the gears and in the rear triangle.

I would have never guessed that I'd have 3 days of riding in the snow in March!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Politics, March 2012

I just posted my BranBrain Dump, and realized I had neglected my political thoughts.

First, the GOP candidates for president are just nuts (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul).  You've got Romney, a fairly "centrist" republican who is trying to appear as "conservative" as he can be and failing - he's the candidate the GOP doesn't want.  You've got Santorum, a hard-core social conservative who basically thinks women belong in the kitchen making sandwiches.  Gingrich is obviously old school, cheated on both his wives, and says he's not a part of the establishment, even though he actually created the current back-stabbing conditions in American politics (and who was ousted from power by his own party b/c of corruption).  And then there's Ron Paul, the isolationist - who has more views I agree with than any of the GOP candidates - and more than I agree with Obama.

Needless to say, I'm not a fan of any of them.  I'm actually going to write in Scott Adams (yes, of Dilbert fame).

We're still at war in Afghanistan, and bombing several other countries via unmanned drone.  We're still imprisoning hundreds of "terrorists" (without enough evidence to even have a trial to see if they're worth holding).  We've killed an American via a targeted drone strike, and Obama's justice department justifies it by saying that "due process doesn't mean judicial process." Nobody from the Bush administration has been prosecuted for war crimes/torture, nobody from Wall Street has been charged with anything due to the financial collapse, no real reform has been made in either situation - in fact Obama has gone after whistle blowers more vigorously than all other administrations beforehand, he's expanded executive power more then W did, etc. etc. etc.

Needless to say I'm not happy.

I am happy I've found this comic strip, here's an example of their work.  It's spot-on and absolutely hilarious.

You've got the media talking about nothing but the political races, and completely ignoring actual policy debates.

For example, Iran.  Everyone from Obama to the GOP candidates are trying to sound tough on Iran, completely and whole-heartedly supporting Israel's desire to bomb Iran.  Yet when actually pressed (though nobody ever does), people in the know agree that there is no evidence that Iran is actually pursuing nuclear weapons.  Nobody talks about the fact that Iran actually had signed an agreement to give up the enrichment program - and the US decided to just go ahead with sanctions instead.

And the media just goes along with the party line - both parties in fact, and repeats the same B.S. - which is what led us into Iraq.

It's disgusting.

Brain Dump March 2012

Forced post to jump start this blog.

My LASIK has gone incredibly well.  I just had my 2 month checkup and the doctor says he has trouble seeing the edge of the corneal flap.  Plus, my left eye is spot-on - no astigmatism and perfect vision.  The right eye is slightly near-sighted and has a slight astigmatism.  The left eye is 20/15 and the right is a slightly blurry 20/20, and both together can read a couple of the letters on the 20/10 line.  woo-hoo!  Other than an odd dream where I saw the doctor b/c a flap had come unhinged, everything is going super well.

I'm still doing Weight Watchers and am coming out of a 2+ month slump.  I've basically had the same weight since December, but am currently at my lowest weight since I started: 240.4#.  I've been occasionally eating crummy food at work (someone brought baklava, and there were donuts, and pizza) and feel kinda tired when I do that.  So I'm doubling down and eating good food to see if that helps with the energy levels (and weight).

I've been riding 2 or 3 times a week in the mountains and been loving it.  We've had some rain in January and February, but even with all the "crummy" weather, I've only had to ride in the rain maybe 3 times since I started riding in the fall.  On Tuesday of this week I went out for a lovely ride in the sun and blue skies with an inch of snow all over the hills.  Amazing and beautiful!

I don't think I mentioned it on my blog (quick search... nope) - I joined a mountain bike team this year: Team Dirt.  It's got some really amazing riders on it, and I figured they could use some help rounding out the team profile (ha, round, get it? I'm overweight, i.e. round, heh heh).  The team is loosely organized, though this year it's applying to be a non-profit and the guy running it is making the team and the races he organizes his job (as in, he quit his other job -  but he's got a wife who brings in the money).  There are lots of plans for the future - building more trails, more races, changes to the team to be more inclusive (allowing people who just want to do trail work and not ride).

One of the active team members has a regular ride on Monday and Thursday nights from his house and there are 2-3 guys who consistently show up to ride.  I've joined that crew on Thursdays (after my WW meeting) and been riding with them for about a month.  They're a good group of guys who wait for me at the tops of the climbs.

What's been real fun is that a number of people on the team are using strava.com to track their rides.  What makes this site different than others (for the moment, I figure they'll have competition soon, if not already) is that  it automatically recognizes segments of rides for you, and it recognizes when other people have ridden that segment.  So, for example, the climb to Dimple Hill is a segment, and every time I ride it, the web page tracks my time and shows how I'm doing relative to everyone else.  An aside is that my personal goal is to make that climb in under 20 minutes (by the end of June).  Plus, there's a social aspect to the site where you can follow people and get updates on their activities.  So I'm seeing what other guys on the team are riding and how they're doing - which meant that I already had some rapport with the guys I ride with on Thursdays before I'd even ridden with them.  It's been surprisingly fun.  You can see my riding here.

I've got the Beaver Freezer coming up, and a friend from Wings is going to join me and race too.  I've yet to dip my foot in a pool since the last Freezer - perhaps this weekend.  And, I just found out today that my trusty old road bike needs ... $900 worth of work.  (shhhh, don't tell Mary, she doesn't know yet).  So there's some decisions to be made on that front.  (new crank/chain/cassette/bb, shifters old and worn and old enough they need to be replaced, new tires, cables/housing, front derailleur - basically everything but the brake arms, frame, headset, hubs and rims).

When Mary and I visited Victoria last fall for our anniversary I bought a pair of custom sandals from Heart And Sole Shoes - kind of on a whim (Mary was the one who was interested in the shop and sandals).  I've been wearing them regularly since then and have been enjoying them.  They're definitely unique, and I've gotten comments like "Jesus sandals" and "gladiator sandals" all the way to "are you wearing your wife's sandals?"  They were made just for my feet and have proven to wear very well so far in the 5 months since I've had them.  I do need to trim the leather strap that goes around the back of my foot (it stretched a fair amount).  I'm mostly including that note to see if I ever get around to doing it.

Mary is doing real well - she's begun her practice part-time (half a day a week, to selected patients only), she's fit as a fiddle and looking great.  Plus, she's been learning to ride a horse since last fall and loves that very much.  I don't like commenting bunches about her on my blog b/c I wouldn't want to speak for her, but I think she's pretty happy overall.

Simone, on the other hand, doesn't have a blog (that I know of), so I'm continuing to take the liberty to talk all about her.

She's loving kindergarten at the Waldorf school, and after spending the first half of the year talking mostly about a couple of kids she'd gone to preschool with, she's talking about other kids now.  One, Xavier (?), was very prominent for a week because they were "in love" - and they'd kissed (I guess Simone is very lovey with most of the kids).  You can keep your jokes about "just wait until she's a teen" to yourself.

The biggest shock to me was that we're going to keep her in kindergarten for another year.  Long story short, when the thought of next year first came up I'd assumed she'd be going onto 1st grade next year, and when that came into question I was a bit shocked.  I quickly realized it was all about my ego (as if that should matter in determining what's best for her).  The school had a meeting for parents of soon-to-be-1st-graders and talked about what they looked for developmentally and talked about the differences between kindergarten and the grades.  It became clear that Simone is still pretty dreamy and probably wouldn't adapt to the requirements of 1st grade without a bit of a struggle.  She's been reading lots, spelling words, writing letters/cards/stories - so she's ready academically, but honestly, I don't think she could really handle sitting for 2 hours out of the day.  She does that on her own schedule all the time, but it's never when she's "told to" (like when I'm working from home and Mary is out for some reason).  Plus, part of the reason we chose this school was for the personal attention and their emphasis on social growth - and if the teacher is suggesting she stay in kindergarten - it'd be foolish to ignore her advice.  Ultimately, there's no reason to rush Simone off to college, let her be a kid a little longer.