Tuesday, December 22, 2009

May the god of your choice bless you

I know, I know. The blog is on life support, like the oboe it's barely breathing. But when there's a bike themed blog and the author isn't biking much, that's pretty much what happens. I've been doing some running these days, trying to keep the Dunlop Disease from becoming too much. Ran my first 5k on December 12. I was happy to finish, as I hadn't run that distance before the event. Managed to snag the coveted "last in my age division" while I was there. DFL!

As for the bike, I've given myself permission to bag it until spring. And of course, since I gave myself that permission I've been kind of wanting to get out. I was thinking about the HC Christmas Day ride. But with the Storm of the Century bearing down right then, it may not come to pass.

Anyhow, I wanted to give a quick holiday greeting to any readers still out there. At our house, the Three Wise Men go for a ride in the Gravy Boat Sleigh. However you plan to celebrate, spend some time with friends and family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hadron Collider

Ever wonder how scientists get around in the Large Hadron Collider? The LHC is a 17 mile underground tunnel in Switzerland where scientists are planning on smacking atoms into one another, with a very low risk of creating black holes here on earth. This picture shows that they rely, at least in part, on the humble bicycle. Pretty cool.

This picture is from a series on Boston.com's The Big Picture, an always wonderful photo blog. Check it out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rain rain, go away

Today: A chance of drizzle between noon and 3pm, then a chance of rain after 3pm. Cloudy, with a high near 53. Southeast wind between 3 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Whoops.  Shouldn't have ridden the fenderless fixie today, I guess.  But I didn't have a ton of choice, as the rain commuter of choice is missing a bolt on the B67.  It's the bolt that connects one of the springs to the lower support rod, and it gives the saddle a lopsided feel.  I noticed it on Wednesday, but haven't had time to do anything about it.  I wonder if there's a special Brooks bolt I need, or if any old nut/bolt combo will work.

Monday, November 09, 2009

If you give a man a fish

It's said that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
But if you give a man a fishing pole, tackle box, instruct them on how to use all the equipment, show them a good spot to fish and they're too lazy or stupid to pick up the pole don't they deserve to starve to death? Just maybe?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wheel desks

Makes me wonder how many nitwits will try using this when they're driving...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009


Rachael Ray says it's OK for men to wear scarves as a fashion accessory.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cyclist Appreciation

From the always excellent Married to the Sea comic.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Zappa plays the bicycle

I fully expect that after Jim views this video, my next visit to South Minneapolis will include a trip to Hiawatha Cyclery and Musical Instruments.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ticket to Ride

I visited the doctor yesterday afternoon and was pronounced Healed! Or mostly, anyhow. The Doc said it will probably take another 6 months to get full strength and flexibility back. But I've been officially cleared for any and all activities, including cycling. I find that my hand feels good for most day to day activities, but it still twinges and is painful when doing activities involving heavy lifting or sharp impacts. I wrote last August about not wearing cycling gloves, but a short ride on Tuesday reminded me of how much one's hands act as shock absorbers when riding. So I paid the boys at Hiawatha a visit this afternoon and purchased a new set of cycling gloves. First pair of gloves I've purchased since October 2005 in Sausalito. Now that I've got padding for my hands, it's time to start losing some of the padding I've accumulated around my middle...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Testing the Waters

Schwinn Premis
I spent some quality time in the garage this afternoon, aimlessly moving things from one place to another without really accomplishing much. I did dust off a couple of bikes I hadn't touched for quite some time and reacquainted myself with them. One, my Schwinn Premis, has really been neglected these past several years. I bought this bike from an employee of Twin City Outboard while I was looking for parts for my ancient Johnson Sea Horse in about 2002. A little off topic here, but that's a great shop if you are a boat nut. They've got everything.
Schwinn Premis
Anyway, the Premis was quite a step up from the Raleigh Eclipse I had been commuting on. Light and fast, this was the first true "go fast" bike I'd ever owned. While I think it's just a hair too tall for me (about 25" frame), I rode it for several years and it treated me very well. But as I became more of a commuter, the bike's lack of any cargo carrying or ability to fit fenders became more and more of a liability.
Schwinn Premis
After I got my Jamis, the Premis became superfluous and hung in the garage full time. It deserves to be ridden. It's a great bike. I kept it around for a while thinking it would make a good fixie conversion. But the white components which scream 80s (along with the fade paint job) are still such a nice matched set I never had the heart to tear the bike apart. White components include: Dia-Compe Aero-Compe Brakes, Sakae cranks, Suntour Cyclone shifters and derailleurs.
Schwinn Premis
I upgraded the handlebars to a set of Modolos with an anatomic bend that are wider than the original bars, but kept the white on white bar tape to match the hoods.
Schwinn Premis
I also replaced the rear freewheel with a Shimano one after the original self destructed.
Schwinn Premis
So if you're a taller fellow who is in the need of a classic steel ride, let me know. I want it to go to a good home.
Schwinn Premis

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Getting better all the time

The kids were away at Spanish Camp last week. When they returned, one brought home a virus and the other brought home tales of a crush on a young lad named Ethan. I wasn't super excited about either, but now that I've caught the bug and feel like crap, I can for certain say that's the greater of the two evils.

Saw the hand guy last week, surgery is not in my immediate future. I have a follow up for 30 days out, but he was optimistic about the signs of healing noted in my CT scan and newest x-ray. He did note that the break was all the way across the bone, not just the little chip I'd initially highlighted. I'm too lazy to go back and retouch the x-rays I posted earlier. You'll have to use your imagination.

I'll leave you with this gem:

Friday, August 21, 2009

The ride continues

Quick update: 
I went and saw The Hand Guy this morning.  Quick in, quick out, no real resolution.  He looked at the x-rays and feels the bone is definitely broken.  He was non-committal about it, but I got the feeling he felt the break was more severe than the previous doctor had.  Options, they are three:
1.  Do nothing.  Advantages:  free, easy.  Disadvantages:  Potential for decreased mobility of joint, strong possibility of severe arthritis in 10-15 years.
2.  Cast, for up to 12 more weeks.  Advantages:  Cheap, not too invasive.  Disadvantages:  12 freaking weeks in a cast?  Kill me now.  Oh, and it may not actually accomplish anything.
3.  Surgery.  Advantages:  Probably the best prognosis for full recovery.  Disadvantages:  Well, it's surgery.  Never a fun or risk free proposition.
He sent me away with orders to get a CT scan and chew on my options.  I managed to get the CT scan taken care of this afternoon.  I scheduled a follow up with The Hand Guy for Thursday the 26th.  Once we can look at some higher resolution images of the break, we'll choose a plan and run with it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Every picture tells a story, don't it

I managed to talk my clinic into giving me copies of my x-rays on disc yesterday. Something like this "normally takes two to three days" I was told, but they grudgingly did it. In the first picture I outlined the broken piece of bone in red, and circled the area in yellow. In subsequent pics, the area is outlined in yellow only. So here's a picture of the original x-ray, taken back on July 2, about 10 days after my fall (click to embiggen).

And the same picture without the red, so the gap is more visible. This is the x-ray that the radiologist said was not a fracture.

Then we have the x-ray from two weeks later, on July 21. Pretty much the same from this angle.

This one shows a strange bump than neither my doc or I remarked on.

At this point I was put in a cast, because both doc and radiologist agreed it was a non-displaced fracture. After 4 weeks in the case, I had a third set of x-rays taken, on 8/19. Now I'm no doctor or radiologist, but it doesn't look like anything has changed. This is the shot that made my doctor say, "That looks like a non-union." and refer me to the hand guy.

I was showing these pictures to my daughters tonight, and Morgan said, "Dad, that's a pretty small piece of bone that's broken off. Do you need that?" And I thought, probably not. I'm sure the hand guy will totally agree.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well ain't that a kick in the niblets?

2009 is shaping up to be the summer that never was.  It was 59 this morning when I got up.  59 in the dog days of August!  People will be wearing long pants and sweatshirts at the State Fair at this rate.  It's also been the summer of no fun for me on a personal level.  I started the spring with a lovely case of bursitis in my knee, which hampered my ability to walk around and, to a lesser extent, bike.  After multiple physical therapy sessions I started to get back on the bike, only to fall and break one of the bones in my hand, the scaphoid bone.  Long time readers are already bored with this story arc.
So, fast forward a bit.  Broke the bone in June, got a splint in early July, got a cast in mid July, and they took the cast off this morning.  Getting the cast off was more fantastic than I could believe.  I'm still thrilled with the simple act of washing my hands.  But it's not all peaches and cream just yet.  We looked at the newest xrays, and I was surprised at how visible the break was.  So was the doc.  So long story just a little bit longer, I have an appointment with a hand specialist on Friday.  My doc said it looks like a non union (nothing to do with Jimmy Hoffa), but he wasn't sure.
So, best case scenario is the hand guy says "No big deal, it's a small piece of bone, don't worry about it."  Worst case scenario is hand surgery, pin or screw, and maybe even a bone graft!  Nothing I can do about it one way or the other, so for now I'm going to chill, enjoy being able to type with two hands, and see what Friday brings.
This has been another installation of The Pete's Medical Woes Blog.  Thanks for your patronage, and enjoy the near perfect riding weather we're having!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

R.I.P. Les Paul

Les Paul was the inventor of the electric guitar and while that is what he will be remembered for, he may have made a larger contribution to rock and roll by developing multitrack recording.  Prior to multitrack, all the artists had to perform at the same time, singing into a can, and what you heard was what you got.  Les changed all that.  Multitrack allows the drums to be recorded, then the guitar, then maybe the singer.  If the singer screws up but the guitarist was hot, just re-record the singer and pair that track with the hot guitar track.  Bands didn't even need to record on the same day or in the same studio.  And you could overdub, taking one part and making it sound like "three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," according to Les.  He finished that thought with one of the biggest understatements of all time:  "This is quite an asset."
Les Paul was 94 when he died.  He had 36 gold records and 11 number one hits between 1949 and 1962.  He won a grammy award when he was 90.  R.I.P., Mr. Paul.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Merchandize that corpse

I saw an ad today for authentic Michael Jackson lithographs on TV in the breakroom at work today. I guess this will be the Michael Jackson generation's version of the Velvet Elvis. I wonder how log it will take before guys are selling these out of a van in the K-Mart parking lot.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the big picture

If you don't follow The Big Picture, you should.  This edition is cycling focused, but they have consistently high quality photos on nearly every topic under the sun.  A few comments on specific photos below:
#4 - Egoi's got helmet hair!
#14 -  a person's wrist isn't supposed to curve that way
#20 -  great shot!
#25 - the devil has quite a vertical leap!
#27 and 32 - I never get tired of the overwhelming joy on stage winners' faces
But all in all, a great set.

 _ -\ <, _
( * ) / ( * )

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That's a bummer, man

We spent a fair amount of time this past weekend hanging out with other people's parents. Saturday night we had dinner with friends Joel and Alana and Nancy's brother. Joel and I were college roommates, so I had met his folks before. But it's been a number of years since college and it was nice to get to see them again. Then on Sunday we drove up to St. Cloud for a 50th anniversary celebration. The couple celebrating are the parents-in-law of a high school friend of mine, Eric. We went up not as guests but to help with party prep and other tasks. But when the host and hostess are super organized people, and the meal is a fully catered pig roast, there's not a lot to do. Nancy did get some nice family photos, and it was nice to see both Val and Eric's folks. Eric's mom was mt 4th grade teacher.

But the entire weekend was pretty light on the physical activity, and with my time off for the wrist injury I was feeling a little antsy. So I took the lime Suburban out for a short 10 mile ramble just to see how things were feeling. After the first few miles I started feeling each bump a little bit more in the wrist than the previous one. So I probably rode 6 of the remaining 8 or so miles with my injured hand resting on my leg. But it was awfully nice to get out.

I had my follow-up appointment with the doc this morning. New x-rays confirmed that it truly is a fracture, and after a quick consult with the radiologist the doc wrapped my arm in fiberglass. I chose green, to match the Schwinn I'd most recently ridden and probably won't ride again for a while.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It's rough out there

These days it seems like the entire household is banged up. The kids have had skinned knees and elbows since the weather got warm (nothing more serious recently, thank goodness). The Mrs. has been fighting a nasty case of plantar fasciitis for the last couple of months. I broke a bone in my hand. And the dog even got into the act by somehow ripping his dewclaw off.
ripped dewclaw
I talked with my doc, and he says I just cracked the bone and doesn't think a hard cast is needed. So I'm wearing this brace and will have to get it x-rayed again in two weeks.

At least I don't have to wear a cone.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In which you are invited to say 'I told you so'

I had both a dentist and a doctor appointment today.  Such is the fun of being 40.  The dental checkup went well.  The hygenist and I had our semi-annual banter:
Her:  How often are you flossing?
Me:  Not as often as I should be.
Both: (forced) Ha ha!
It's shameless how we flirt.
Then I got bad news at the doctors office:  I've gained 7 pounds since last year!  It's possible it has something to do with my markedly decreased mileage this year.  Here at the midway point of 2009, I'm just barely over 1100 miles.  This time last year, I was just over 2,000.  Hmmm, decreased mileage equals weight gain?  Perhaps.
Oh, and the doc mentioned something about a broken wrist.  Gave me a splint, and might give me a cast next week.  He's a good man, and thorough.  Summer bummer!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Life in the corporate world:
We had a meeting today, and somebody used the term "vernacular."  Somebody else said "I don't know what that means."  So, in an effort to call out the closet Lebowski fans, I said it means "the parlance of our times."  Nobody laughed.

Biker beers

Every so often, Bicycling Magazine sends me an email.  And every so often, I actually read it.  Their most recent email had a subject line that pretty much ensured I would: 
I thought perhaps it would be beers with lots of B12 or some other chemical that will aid cyclists in recovery, or some such nonsense.  But it was just a straightforward slideshow of 12 different beers that were either inspired by cycling or were named for cycling.  I hadn't heard of many of these beers, so I may need to go search them out.  You should too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

After a Fall

About 15 years ago I bought my wife an audio recording of several Garrison Keillor short stories, recorded by the man himself. One was titled "After a Fall" and discussed what happens after you fall down:

"When you happen to step off an edge you didn't see and lurch forward into space waving you arms, it's the end of the world for a second or two, and after you do land, even if you know you're OK and no bones are broken, it may take a few seconds to decide whether this is funny or not."

Nancy and I went for a ride on Saturday, and I fell off my bike. First time I've fallen since the Hiawatha Pub Crawl. After those few seconds, I decided this was funny. We were riding through Crosby Farm in St. Paul and ended up on the wetland trail. This is a boardwalk that allows you to travel across the marshland. As we approached the end of this section of trail, the boardwalk angled up, sharply. I slowed down some and headed up. And of course, on the other side was a drop of at least a foot that I totally wasn't expecting. The front tire made the drop, and for a brief second I thought I was going to make it. But then my pedal caught on the peak of the boardwalk and I pitched over sideways. Nancy was behind me and said I fell very gracefully. I have a couple of red spots on my left palm, but didn't even break the skin. Nice! We finished out the last 5 miles of the ride, but my wrist was sore.

Later that day, I noticed that it is nicely swollen. And today, well over 24 hours later, it's still nicely swollen. But all in all, a funny experience. Even if my wrist might disagree.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A right, or a privilege?

Bob Mionski wrote a book a few years ago called Cycling and the Law.  I haven't read this book but I have wanted to.  I learned today that he also writes a blog for Bicycling magazine.  His most recent post discusses whether cycling is a basic right, or a privilege.  I have always been told that driving is a privilege, and assumed that cycling was the same.  But Bob mentions something called the "right to travel" that I was unfamiliar with.  I won't try to summarize it here, because the post does a very good job of explaining things.  The end result is that I learned a fair amount of the history of both motor and cycling law.  Is cycling a right?  I think that could be argued either way.  And as Bob points out, if we cyclists keep riding like jerks, it may be.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

More bike lanes

I received this from the City of Minneapolis a while back, and it's been languishing in my in-box.

Bicycling Update Subscribers,

On Wednesday, June 10th, Minneapolis Public Works will host a public meeting (pdf) to present the draft proposal for new bicycle lanes on 4 street segments:

* 10th Avenue SE – Como to University Avenue (pdf)
* 19th Avenue S – University to Riverside Avenue (pdf)
* 20th Avenue S – Riverside to Minnehaha Avenue (pdf)
* Minnehaha Avenue – 20th Avenue to 31st Street (see pdf above)

The meeting will be held at 6:00 pm in Room 114 of the Oren Gateway Center at Augsburg College. A bicycle ride will also take place before the meeting at 5:15 pm to tour the proposed bike lanes. Meet at the old North Country Co-op and bring a bicycle.

For more information about the project, including project summaries and opportunities for online feedback, visit the Bicycle Operations project website.

Happy Riding,

City of Minneapolis Bicycle Program

So get thee to the meeting on Wednesday. The Pro-Parking League usually shows up in force for these types of things, so the cyclists need to balance things out.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Big 40

Last week I turned 40 years old, Thursday to be precise. I'd thought about how to celebrate this for a while, and decided I wanted to have a party. So, have a party we did. I don't often consider myself a popular person, as most of the time I'm an introvert and don't easily insert myself into social situations. Yet ironically, I love gatherings. But I certainly felt quite popular on Saturday and was extremely pleased to be surrounded by friends and family who came from both near and also much farther than I ever would have imagined. We had a great time, spun yarns about the old days, caught up on what is happening in the current, stayed up too late and enjoyed each other's company. I'm not completely deluding myself, free food and beer is a big draw, but it was great to see every single person there even if I didn't get a chance to chat with half of you as much as I would have liked, and talked to less than half of you twice as much as you deserved. A big heartfelt thanks to everybody who came out and made this a great party!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stillwater Marathon

We went to Stillwater on Saturday for the first Stillwater Marathon.

The gang at The Mad Capper in Stillwater sure knows how to make a guy feel welcome.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 3 Speed Tour

Another 3 Speed Tour is in the books. And from my vantage point, it was one for the ages. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time last year. Lots of fun and interesting people, taking in the shops and the desserts and the pie and the ride. It was all so new, and there was a sense of discovery that can't be beat. But at the same time, Nancy wasn't feeling well and hadn't been for several months. I know it was a struggle for her at times to keep up, and even to stay on the bike. In retrospect, she was a lot sicker than I realized at the time. So I have some mixed emotions looking back, knowing that while she did have fun she was suffering as well.

Fast forward a year, and what a difference. Health wise, Nancy has been doing great. And the tour, while still the same, had a very different undercurrent for me. It was much more fun knowing that she was not just dragging along, but truly enjoying herself in all aspects. The route of the tour was familiar and comforting, but we still managed to find some newness to get that sense of adventure. We also stayed at a new hotel, The Bridgewaters, which was wonderful. We got to see some familiar faces from last year and some friends from the area, plus get to know new folks. What could be better that to hang out with a bunch of people who share your same brand of crazy?

Nancy has already blogged about most of our trip, and has shamelessly stolen the cream of the photo crop (from her camera and mine, the scoundrel!). So if you want a first rate recap of the tour, check out her blog post. Below are some additional photos that she didn't already use, with my comments.

Consider the lilies of the goddamn field!

The woman who rode this bike really does have a foot issue, and every time we dismounted (or at least, when I saw her) she took her shoe off and put this boot on. Pretty amazing that she could do the tour at all.

One of the better pictures of my bike. Last year we tried to go authentic, with original cheap Brooks saddle, vintage rack and a wicker basket to carry our belongings. It was cute, but not super functional. Toward the tail end of last year's tour my bike started to make a horrible grinding noise and had sprayed gear lube all over the rear rim. I was terrified that something within the Sturmey Archer hub was about to fail and leave us 10-15 miles outside of Red Wing. I gutted it out and more or less white knuckled it back in to town, thinking the whole rig was going to come apart. Later, when I got home I realized that the rack's attachment point had come loose and lodged itself into the rear brake. The brake was askew and rubbing against the rim. The gear lube was just incidental. So this year I used a modern seat post mount rack with modern panniers. I also swapped out the crappy old Brooks for my nice one. I also added a frame pump, since I'm pretty sure we went through last year's tour without.

After our hike-a-bike adventure in Maiden Rock. This pic is easily within my top 5 favorites of all the pictures we took this year. No idea why Nancy didn't poach it.

Isn't she cute?

The oldest bicycle on the tour, 94 years old.

A super fun trinket I got from Sallie Gurth, a beer mug valve stem cover! Sallie makes these, and she and her husband Ron have a website where they sell them along with other bike themed jewelry. So here's a shameless plug. Go visit them at Velo Amore' and buy some stuff!

It's a Robin Hood sandwich! Several of us were noting the particular shade of red our bikes shared. So we put two Robin Hoods on the outside and the Dunelt in the middle for a photo op.

Nancy looking fabulous from behind, with her scarf flapping in the breeze.

That pretty much sums it up. We will definitely be back next year, unless the popularity overtakes us and we don't get registered before the cutoff!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike to Work day

Once again I set out on Bike to Work day to lead a rag tag group of cyclists through the mean streets of Minneapolis. Our goal: The downtown Bike to Work day celebration. I arrived at the park on time (last year I was the last one there) and waited. I snapped a few pictures while I waited.

Pretty soon, Kevin showed up. After that, nobody else showed up. This was the smallest group I've ever led. Which is ironic, because I think there are more bikes out on the streets this spring than there have been in the last several springs. After we realized nobody else was coming, we headed out. Made a pit stop at The Reuse Center where they had quite an impressive breakfast buffet going on.

We saw M.A. Rosko outside, but not while she was interviewing the Mayor. After our brief stop we headed to the Greenway to battle the fierce headwinds all the way to the Government Center. Once there, I availed myself of some free coffee and inadvertently got nabbed on film (pixels?) while doing so.

The crowd at the downtown celebration was thinner than in past years too. I think the chilly temp and blustery wind kept a lot of folks away. I managed to snag a new Civia water bottle with some Park Tire Irons inside and also a Bängo Brothers pocket messenger bag in addition to the previously mentioned coffee. A pretty good way to start the work day. Too bad I can't convince my boss to let me hang out, drink coffee and schmooze with other bikers for an hour and a half every time I bike to work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bike to work, dammit!

Once again, it is bike to work week here in MN.  And once again, I'll be leading a group of cyclists from Minnehaha Park to Downtown Minneapolis on Bike to Work day.  This is my fifth year leading this group, and it might be on it's fourth name.  Commuter Convoy is the only old one I can remember, but I'm sure there were more.  This year they're calling it a "Bike Bus" which is a silly name, but that's just my opinion.  The details are pretty much the same, with some minor variations:

The biggest difference this year is the organizers want us to do a "bus stop" where we stop, midroute, and pick up additional bikers.  I decided to keep this minimal, since I don't think we'll pick many, if any, people up.  The last few years there have been less than 7 people on this route, and often several of them aren't biking to work but just joined to have an excuse to ride (Hi Jim and Kevin!).  So my idea was to stop at the Green Institute.  Last year, they were rumored to have the best food of all the Bike to Work celebrations, and I've always meant to stop and check them out.

So with that in mind, we'll convene at Minnehaha Park between the Falls and the Sea Salt restauraunt/shelter. I plan to be there around 6:30-6:40. Leaving at 6:45 should put us at the Green Institute around 7:15 or so.  We'll take a temperature check with the riders to see if we want to make it a quick stop or linger a bit.  If we don't linger we should be downtown around 7:30 or so, depending on red lights and the overall speed of the group.  If we do stop, it could be closer to 8.

A couple of quick points:
  • If you haven't already, register:  www.bikewalkweek.org  It sounds as if you will need a printed copy of your registration to be eligible for certain prizes.  So if you're into that kind of thing, register.
  • If you forget to register, they will have forms to fill out downtown.  But it's a hassle, and everything's more fun to do on the web.  And, as of this writing, my picture is still on the website.
  • Um, I can't think of anything else.  Oh, wait, the date!  It's this Thursday, May 14!  See you then!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quite a weekend

We had a lovely spring weekend here in Eagan.  Friday night was rainy and we hunkered down in the basement with the girls, watching "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  I thought it held up very well over the years, and enjoyed it as did the kids.  Nancy was a little disgruntled by the ending.  But, you can't please everybody and in our house 3 out of 4 isn't bad.  Saturday morning was coffee, computer and futzing around the house until I was sufficiently caffinated and then housecleaning began.  As I cleaned I kept a weather eye out the window because it looked like rain.  When the house was presentable I decided to risk it and mow the lawn.  Normally decisions like that cause the rain to hit right when the half mowed lawn is at it's weirdest stage, but I was lucky and actually finished mowing with more sun than I'd began.
I cleaned myself up and cooked some bacon and sausage for an egg back for Sunday brunch.  Then after dinner we headed over to the neighbors' house for a little backyard fire.  We've lived there for 5 years and have always gotten along fine with the neighbors across the street.  A couple of times a summer one of us will say "We should get together for cocktails" but nothing ever comes of it.  So last week when that phrase rolled around I took decisive action and said, "Let's do it this weekend!"  We did, and had a good time.  Marshmallows were roasted, s'mores were eaten, adult beverages were consumed.  They put their kids down to bed, and I walked back to our house with ours.  While our kids got into jammies I popped them some popcorn and they picked out a DVD.  I told them that when the movie was over they should go to bed if we weren't home.  And a good thing too, since we weren't.  We were all shocked and horrified to realize it was 2am and we were still around the fire.
Sunday morning the dogs woke me around 7am.  I let them out, fed them and went back to bed until 9.  Nancy looked at me and the first thing out of her mouth was "The neighbors are dangerous."  We staggered out of bed and got brunch items started.  I ran to Byerly's for croissants, but they were out.  Horrors!  Instead, Nancy made some yummy cranberry scones.  Mom, Dad and Grandma came over for Mother's Day brunch and took off about 12:30.  I rototilled the garden and then spent the rest of the afternoon dusting off the 3 speeds in prep for next weekend's 3 Speed Tour.  While up to my elbows in 3 speed schmutz, Emma told me she needed cookies for school on Monday.  Which means we have to make them today, Dad.  I finished up and helped her with a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.  After the kids went to bed I collapsed on the couch.  Done, exhausted.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I don't follow basketball at all, so when I heard that Renardo Sidney was going to Mississippi State I had no context for why this was considered headline news.  I still don't, and don't really care to find out.  Sounds like there are some unresolved money issues, whatever.  What did catch my eye was the following:
...stepfather Renardo Sr. directed a club basketball team with financial backing that was unclear beyond a relatively modest shoe company sponsorship.
Stepfather Renardo Sr.  Other news stories list the son as Renardo Sidney Jr.  So, how the hell does a stepfather end up with a same name Jr./Sr. arrangement??  If he's a stepfather, he's not the kid's biological father and therefore theoretically wasn't around when Jr. was born and named.  Did the son change his name?  Did the stepfather change his name?  Does mom just really really like the name Renardo?  I could keep coming up with scenarios, but they just get stranger.  If anybody can answer this, please do.  I'm dying to know the story.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Rains, pours

Nothing for several weeks, then two posts in one day?  It's Friday afternoon, what can I say?  I had to quickly toot my own horn because my "commuter profile" is currently on the BikeWalkWeek website.  There doesn't seem to be a direct link, it's just on the main page, so I have no idea how long it will be up there.  But take a look, you can see me doing my best impression of Ambrose Burnside
And while you're there, register for Bike/Walk to Work Day, which is coming up in a couple weeks, May 14th to be precise.  I'll be leading a commuter convoy from Minnehaha Park again this year.  Details are pretty much the same as the last 4 years, but I'll put a little more about it on the blog next week in case you've misplaced last year's memo.

Bursitis? I got your bursitis right here!

I'm well on my way to being fully recovered from the bursitis that kept me off my bike for the majority of April.  Hell, it kept me from doing much of anything in April, other than sitting on the couch.  But I'd say I'm 95% bursitis free these days, which is good.  This week I managed to get 3 consecutive rides to work, which is the first time since I got hurt.  It was nice to be back.  I worked from home yesterday and today I overslept, but no sense rushing back into it.  After the first ride I took I was really amazed at how sore my butt and thighs were after just a couple weeks off.  But the soreness was temporary, and didn't last nearly as long as it would have if I didn't have the base so I haven't completely lost my fitness.  Good thing I don't generally worry about stuff like that.
My plans are to keep commuting, but take it easy at the same time.  The 3 Speed Tour is coming up in just a few weeks and I want to be in tip top shape for that.  Nancy's ridden her bike a bunch more this year than last year, plus she's feeling tons healthier, so we may even be able to attempt some pass storming!  Which reminds me, I need to get the trusty Robin Hood out and spiffed up so it's ready to roll.  Same for Nancy's bike.  There's always something keeping me busy and away from the internets!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life'll kill ya

Let's see, where were we last time I wrote to the internet? Oh yes, I'd hurt my knee. Blah blah, still riding, brakes are out on the car, daughter made me a lovely card. OK, so we're caught up on that.

The new update is it's now two weeks later, and I've been to the doctor because the knee wasn't getting better. He diagnosed me with bursitis. Which I've always thought of as something that happens to old people, like lumbago. And bunions. But, since I'm not old this clearly isn't the case. I've been taking it easy, driving to the bus station like an ordinary joe and popping Aleve. It's getting better, but the doc said it will probably take a good month to be back to normal. Great. My 5k event is this Friday, and since my knee still gets sore walking from my cube to the bathroom there's still no way I'm participating.

But my woes all pale compared to the daughter. Yesterday I get a call from my wife saying Morgan slammed her finger in the car door and they're heading to the ER. I met them there in time to see the x-rays get taken and find out that she broke her pinkey finger. Plus, while she was panicked and trying to pull her finger out of the car door (yes, it was stuck) she managed to cut herself deep enough to require two stitches. So we've got her on antibiotics and codine and her hand is splinted up to her elbow. Pretty awful experience all around. The only bright point was going to dinner with my folks (who were at the hospital as well) after it was all over and having two huge slices of pizza at Cossettas.

And to top it off, I'm listening to iTunes on shuffle and I have a duet of Julio Iglesias and Ricky Martin singing a medley of "Light My Fire" by The Doors and "Oye Como Va" by Santana. God help me, but I have no idea how that got there.

Not to end things on a down note (or a completely bizarre note, as in the Julio/Ricky thing), I did manage to get the brakes fixed on the car this past weekend. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Exciting week

So, internets, I believe I haven't been keeping you up to date with my general goings on. Mostly because my general goings ons are mostly the same day in and day out, and you've read about them before. But I did have a couple of newsworthy items of late.

1. I signed up to do a 5k. Yes, I know that's a run, not a bike ride. But, what the heck. My wife is a runner, and as she points out she rides her bike with me. Not often, but certainly more often than I run with her. And it's probably good cross training. After running for about a week I could feel a difference in my inner thigh muscles. It makes me wonder if too much cycle training has left those muscles weak and prone to injury, as I did last spring.

The down side to running is, well, I injured myself. The training was going well, I got a new pair of shoes, and I was starting to find my stride. But on Sunday after about 1/2 a mile my knee started to hurt. And it hurt more with every step. I stopped running and walked back home. The knee felt better on Monday, but hasn't improved since. I'm starting to wonder exactly what I've done to it. Fortunately it feels fine when I bike (which is fortunate, see below). But since I procrastinated starting my running regimen, I don't have the slack in my schedule to be able to take time off and still get up to a full 5k by April 17.

Tonight I went out to see how things would go if I tried running. I walked for about 1/3 of a mile and the knee felt OK. No worse than it has been for the last few days. I started running and quit after about 30 seconds and then limped my way back home. I have a feeling this 5k will be a complete FAIL.

2. Because of the previously mentioned injury, I drove to work Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night on the way home, my brakes decided to stop functioning. I realized this when the light turned yellow and I was approaching it on a downhill while going approximately 50mph. As the light turned red and I wasn't slowing, I cranked the wheel over hard right (screeeeech!) and careened onto a lesser travelled and more level road. The combination of the turn and the flattening allowed me to coast to a stop on the shoulder while I tried not to have a complete panic attack. I managed to get turned around and make it the remaining 1/2 mile home (fortunately I live on a hill and I could approach from downhill). I eased the car into the garage and haven't touched it since.

3. The best of all is that tonight, I was making dinner and tidying up the house and my daughter, Morgan, came up and gave me a hand made card that said I was the best dad ever. And she even put a funny joke inside. She wrote "You're like a father to me. Ha ha." Which, for a fourth grader, is hilarious. Often fourth grader jokes are, um, not. Totally out of the blue, and totally made my day.

Happy April to you

This was my favorite thing I read all day yesterday:
Scientists worldwide admit global warming is a hoax
The Associated Press quotes an anonymous marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who says she knew all along that "this climate change stuff was completely bogus."

"But I played along," she said. "The opportunities for securing global-warming-related grant money were just too great for me to resist."

"Sweet, sweet grant money," she added.


Read the entire article about Mr. Gore's fraud.  Living as close to Canada as I do, I'll be watching for a massive infestation of polar bears.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Plenty of news today about the Red River flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area.  Including some dumbass CNN reporters who got arrested for standing on the dikes.  But it's still amazing to me that the house I used to live in during The College Years was evacuated this morning.  When we lived there we never felt like we were in close proximity to the river.  The Red is about 10 blocks from the house.  Moorhead is a town of about 43,000 and it's a lot taller than it is long, so 10 blocks is about one third the width of town, at least the core section.  It wanders further east much farther than that, but you know what I mean.  Both MSUM and Concordia have closed their campuses and the river is expected to crest at records that may never have been recorded.  Unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

9 years old, tough as nails

Nothing like a little snow in the morning at the end of March to liven up the morning commute.  When heading directly into that West wind the snow felt like tiny knives being stabbed into my eyeballs.  But when I got to work I had an email from my lovely wife, as follows:
Subject:  36 & snowing, and Morgan's biking to school
That's your girl!
She *really* wanted to bike to school yesterday, but the forecast was so dire, I wouldn't let her. Boy, was she mad at me when she came home (because it wasn't raining, lightning, or thundering at that exact moment). So today, there was no stopping her.

So if you didn't ride in today because it was a little snowy, you've been pwned by a 9 year old girl and her purple, sparkly bike.

March Madness?

Everybody's so excited about this silly game with a round orange ball these days.  But according to a Star Trib Hockey Blogger, the WCHA Final Five outdrew the basketball games hosted at the Dome this past weekend:
At the Metrodome, eight men's basketball teams played first - and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament, the Big Dance.
Crowds for six games, split into three sessions were 14,279, 15,794, and 12,814.  Add those numbers up, the grand total was 42,887.
In the Mill City's sister sister [sic], St. Paul, there was the WCHA Final Five.  It had five teams, hence the name and five games, all sold as separate sessions.
Those one-game crowds were 17,611 (for the Gophers-UMD), 14,744, 17,779, 15,254 and 16,749.  That's a grand total of 82,137.
To be fair, many of those fans going to the Final Five expected the Gophers to be around for more than one game.  So maybe they both [sic] an all-sessions pass.
Also there were five separate gates for hockey.  But pick the lowest three, and hockey still outdraws college basketball.
I love this town.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Super power!

The Fat Cyclist often writes about his self declared superpowers.  One that sticks out in my head is his ability to eat while exercising.  It's a power, to be sure, but how super is questionable.  I think if I had to name a superpower for myself, it would be the ability to do the same thing over and over.  Commuting is a good example of this.  According to Jill, commuting makes me a Labrador Retriever:
Commuters are the Labrador retrievers of the pack. Throw them a good bicycle route, and they'll keep coming back. They love a good game of "catch" — that is, they race to catch green lights. They're highly sociable, largely domesticated and don't mind being leashed to the same roads day after day.
This superpower also extends to lunch.  I'm a cheapskate, so I bring my lunch from home.  I pack the same old lunch, with minor variations, every day.  It consists of:
a sandwich (lunchmeat of some flavor or another)
fruit (usually an apple)
grain (peanuts, soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
I have eaten a variation of this lunch nearly every weekday for the last 10 1/2 years.  However, this was thrown into somewhat of an uproar a few weeks ago when my non-Catholic wife decided our family should give up meat for Lent.  Lent?  I've never given anything up for Lent.  For one, I wasn't raised Catholic.  For two, I never saw the point.  "Let's give up our worst vices with the understanding that in about a month we'll indulge them with twice the fervor."  Lent.  But the kids and I half-heartedly agreed that we would honor a custom of a religion none of us had any stake in and give up meat.  We didn't eat a ton of meat to begin with, and the transition has been mostly painless (The kids wailed mightily when they realized that chicken nuggets are meat).
The meat free zone known as Lent has had an impact on my lunches.  Making a sandwich was the default.  Bread, mayo on one side, mustard on the other, grab whatever lunchmeat was in the drawer, done!  Now, not so much.  I've made sandwiches with hummus, with cheese, and with avacado.  And sometimes a combination of these.  I've also, gasp, brought other things.  Leftovers, usually.  This week I brought leftover lentil soup on Monday and leftover tomato basil soup on Thursday.  And in both cases, they leaked all over in my bag.  Soup is not a bike commute friendly food.  A pox on you, foul soup.  I shall not be bringing you along to work again.  Fie, I say.  Fie!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cycling fee

In 2005, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was stuck with a budget shortfall.  He refused DFL entreaties for a general tax increase and instead went with a 75 cents-a-pack hike in cigarettes.  He insisted the increase be called a "health impact fee" so he could maintain his no-tax pledge.  To boost funding for cycling programs I am proposing that we add a new fee, which I am titling the Cyclist Annoyance Fee.  Here's how the program will work:
Any time a coworker, friend or acquaintance asks a known cycle commuter "Did you ride your bike to work today?" and the temperature is below 32 degrees Farenheit, a fee of $1 will be assessed to the questioner.  If it is raining, a fee of $2 will be assessed.  Questions asked during a snowstorm or a thunderstorm will be assessed a $3 fee (double if lightning is present).  Questions asked when the temperature is below 0 degrees Farenheit will be assessed a $4 fee.  If the temperature is below 0 and it is snowing, a $5 fee will be assessed.  If the question is asked with a smug "I'll bet you didn't ride." expression on the questioning party's face, the fees will be double.
To be fair, bicycle commuters will also be assessed fees.  Any time a bicycle commuter is asked by a coworker, friend or acquaintance "Did you ride your bike to work today?" and the temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees Farenheit and the skies are clear, a fee of $1 will be assessed to the cyclist.  If the questioner adds "Looks like a great day to ride." with a wistful/jealous expression on his or her face, the cyclist's fee will be waived.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Dow

There has been lots of talk over the last few months about The Dow, and how every time we cross a certain number it's a "psychological barrier" or some other such drivel.  But yesterday The Dow closed at a number that I actually did find interesting.  The close yesterday was 6594.44.  Nothing much in and of itself.  But if you look at the 52 week range, that's when things get interesting.  The 52 week high was 13,191.50, and half of that number is 6595.75.  Which means that, by a margin of 1.31 The Dow has lost a full 50% of it's value in the last year.  I'm not sure this is unprecedented, and I'm frankly not interested enough to research it.  But it's something.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Snowed under the weather

Last Thursday we got a good 5-6 inches of fresh snowfall here in the metro area. I rode to work, since it was lovely and dry in the morning and my attitude of the last year or so has been "if it doesn't completely suck in the morning, I'll deal with the afternoon when it gets here." And it didn't suck in the morning. But the snow came down heavy and fast and by the time I left work there was 4-5 inches on the streets. And everywhere I went there was no sign of a plow. I took the train from downtown to the 50th Street station and headed into Minnehaha Park. Those trails were not plowed either. And while the fresh powder of the trail was easier to navigate than the mashed potato snow of downtown, both took a tremendous amount of energy. I was surprised at how rideable everything was, it was just hard work. Even my nemesis, the Mendota Bridge, was rideable. But after 6 miles, I was covered in sweat and plenty pooped. But pleasantly so. I found the whole experience to be enjoyable, even when I had to push the bike. It was like a mini Arrowhead 135. Only 129 more miles to cover. I realized that if I ever attempted that race, I would need to actually train instead of just relying on my base commuting miles to carry me through. I'm definitely not in that kind of shape.

I drove in on Friday and spent an uneventful weekend taking care of some household tasks. I got my minor wiring project done, and now we can turn the bar lights on from both the top and the bottom of the stairs. Pulling romex is thankless work, but I'm happy I was able to complete the project. Monday in the small hours of the morning I came down with some sort of plague that caused me to leave work early and stay home Tuesday. An actual sick day. I can't remember the last time I took an actual sick day. Back to work again today, feeling more or less back to 100%. I plan to ride again tomorrow, one week to the day since the snowstorm and the last time I was on a bike.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Camp Coldwater Spring update

I recently received an email about an upcoming open house for the proposed Camp Coldwater Spring restoration.

Dear Interested Party,
In our letter of December 3, 2008, we told you public meetings would be conducted in
the winter and spring of 2009 to help determine some of the details for restoration of the
An informational open house has been scheduled to give the public an opportunity to
provide comment on planning for the reuse and restoration of federal property formally
occupied by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines.
The open house will be held Monday February 23, 2009 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the
auditorium on the first floor of the VA Hospital, located at One Veterans Drive in
National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff will be available to
provide information concerning the DEIS preferred alternative, historical preservation
and interpretation, and to gather input to guide planning for the future reuse and
restoration of the site.

If you are interested in this site (and if you cycle in the Twin Cities, you should be), attend the meeting.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beer == Good

Soon enough, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will make more than just tasty beer--it will also manufacture high-grade ethanol fuel from leftover beer yeast. The company announced today that it is partnering with E-Fuel--the inventor of the world's first home ethanol machine--to test portable ethanol refineries at its Chico, California brewery.
Sierra Nevada generates an average of 1.6 million gallons of unusable beer yeast waste each year, which it currently sells to farmers as dairy feed. The brewer's beer dregs contain only 5 to 7% alcohol, but E-Fuel's MicroFueler can raise the alcohol content to 15%, resulting in a higher ethanol yield. The MicroFueler also removes water from the mix for increased quality.
Testing of Sierra Nevada's waste-to-ethanol system will begin in the second quarter of this year, with full-scale production expected soon after. The company plans on using the ethanol in its own vehicles initially, but may eventually supply employees with fuel and distribute extra fuel through E-Fuel's network.
Enterprising small business owners who want to create their own ethanol blend can purchase E-Fuel's MicroFueler for the low price of $9,995.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Arrowhead 135

The wife and I watched the weather on TV last night and it's looking like we've got nearly a week of mid-30s headed our way.  I casually mentioned to her that the weather was going to break just as the Arrowhead 135 was wrapping up.  She wasn't familiar with the event, so I gave her the quick overview.  135 miles by bike, ski or foot, your choice.  Late January or early February in northern Minnesota.  Cold, brutal conditions.  She asked if I had any interest in doing this event, and I did admit that I do.  I admit, it's one of those desires that is strongly tempered by reality and will most likely never happen.  But there is a part of me that wonders, Could I do it?
I haven't seen much for detailed race reports yet, though following the race on their blog it looks like the majority of the bikers are in and the runners are starting to come in this morning.  Doug didn't race this year due to a horrific injury, and my other perennial favorite Dave Gray dropped out sometime during the night.  I'm kind of rooting for Charlie Farrow, just because over the last several years he's given it his all and pretty much every race report mentions how nice of a guy he is.
As we continued our talk about the race last night, I casually mentioned that I would probably need a new snow bike to do the race.  Though I didn't mention it by name, I was thinking of the Surly Pugsley.  When asked how much such a bike would cost, I gave a middle of the road guess of around $1500.  And that's when I got the '$1500 for a snow bike?' and a thump on the head.  Maybe I can get Jimmy Buffett to sponsor me!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter warmer

We had a lovely weekend here in the Twin Cities metro area.  The highs were in the 40s on Saturday and in the 30s on Sunday.  I didn't take much advantage of the weather, but it put me in mind of warmer times ahead.  Saturday afternoon I managed to reassemble my chainsaw.  One of the bolts that secures the chain/bar had stripped, and I'd taken it apart to see if it could be replaced.  Turns out they just use a square headed bolt that fits into a molded recess in the plastic housing.  The plastic had stripped, not the bolt, so there would be no replacing.  I used some JB Weld and fixed the bolt in place.  This was back in December, and somehow during the JB Weld's approved curing time, other household projects took priority.  It's kind of interesting to reassemble something that you took apart, but don't really remember the details of how.  But after a few minor missteps I took it into the garage and it fired up.  I tried cutting something, but the blade is woefully dull so I gave up and split some wood by hand.
Sunday I spent most of the day cleaning out the office in our basement while scanning some old photos.  This batch was from a summer camping trip back in high school.  It's a hoot to see some of these pictures after all this time.  And I'm surprised by how much I don't remember.  These pictures were in an album and had captions, so that helped lots.  But most of the captions refer to people by first name only and I found that I didn't remember the last name of many.  Looks familiar, but...  I plugged a bunch onto Facebook in hopes that some of the other folks from the day can help with identification and also enjoy a trip through our intersection of memory lane.
Throughout the weekend I kept thinking that there was a task I should be doing in the warm weather, but I never came up with a good one.  This morning I realized what it should have been:  wash the bike.  As I headed to work this morning the chain was pretty stiff and I looked over the bike and was shocked by the amount of salt on it.  Looking back at last year's stat sheet, I didn't get off the winter bike until April 2, so I've still got a couple months to go.  I hear the new Freewheel station on the Greenway has bike washing facilities.  I may give them a shot, or I may wait for some warmer weather.  Rumor has it we'll be back in the 30s again later this week, even though Phil saw his shadow this morning.  We'll see.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hiawatha Pub Crawl

I got out of work and I headed for the neighborhood beer joint
I sat around and had a beer with the boys like I always do
Well I didn't have nothin' to say anyway there ain't no point
There's just something 'bout a Monday that always makes me blue

Well it was well after dark so I knew my wife and kids were waitin'
And I guess I took a left where I generally take a right
Well I filled her up with gas, checked the oil at the Texaco station
I threw the car seat in the dumpster and headed off into the night

There's somethin' 'bout a Monday that always makes me blue

Well I headed south on 35 hell bent for vinyl
I hadn't never had her up past 55 before
Well somethin' 'bout that little red line always looked so final
Buddy you'd be surprised how fast a Chevrolet truck can go

Now, down in Mexico they've got a little place called Boystown
Where a man's still a man if you know what I'm talkin' about
Well, I walked into the Cadillac bar and I laid my cash down
I said "there's plenty more where that came from" and the lights went out

Well I woke up in a county jail 'cross the line in Laredo
With a headache and a deputy staring at me through the door
Well he said "Now how you got across that river alive, I don't know
But your wife just made your bail so now you're really dead for sure"

Now my wife, she called my boss and cried so I got my job back
And the boys down at the plant, they whisper and stare at me
Yea well my wife can find a lot of little jobs to keep me on the right track
Well, but that's a small price to pay for a week of living dangerously

That's a small price to pay for a week of living dangerously