Thursday, October 25, 2007
My parents came through town on Friday evening. They got in at about 5:00 or so, and we all went to dinner and then just had a nice visit back at the house. They left for their condo time-share week in western NC fairly early on Saturday morning.
My sister came in on Saturday evening. She’d really come to town earlier in the day, but was attending a wedding and only came over after the festivities were over. She stayed the night because she didn’t feel like driving back to Georgia that evening.
So, between the time that my parents left and my sister showed up, we had most of Saturday to do whatever we needed to do. This included minor errands such as grocery shopping and the like, but it also included my escorting Mrs. Guy to see her new personal trainer. It was her fourth visit, and she’s thinking I might want to start using him too.
But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I don’t think I’m ready to do a lot of the exercises that even MG was doing. I had tried to go jogging one night last week, but I barely got 20 paces in before I decided that the noise/feeling coming from my shoulder, while not necessarily painful, was not a good thing and that maybe I’d better lay off of it for another few weeks. Where does that leave me? Well, I get in a lot of walking at work, but that’s just not doing it. The Big Guy is just getting bigger.
But then, on Saturday afternoon, came the perfect moment to reintegrate the bicycle into my life. The weather was good (just a little breezy) and the sun was shining. MG was even encouraging me to get out there (which is rare – she usually complains that I spend too much time riding).
I left the house at around 4:00pm planning to ride for about 15 to 17 miles. That was before I realized that my cyclometer wasn’t working. Come to think of it, it wasn’t working well on the last day of the Blue Ridge Parkway trip back in August, which I guess was the last time I rode. So instead of paying attention to how much distance I was accumulating, I just rode.
It was a good ride. I just went on a looping course not too far from my house. My legs were OK, and the lungs were fine. Only my butt complained a little, but it has been a couple of months since I rode last. My only difficulty came on Rather Road with a dog I’ve had experience with before. I thought I’d be fine passing him since he had just started to…do his business…right as I was approaching. Every other time I’ve seen a dog in the process of … doing their business … they have remained committed to the act and not given chase. I suppose there’s an exception to every rule. This dog just jumped right after me as soon as it noticed me. I was going to try the ‘Gatorade-up-the-nose’ trick, but he seems to have remembered that one from before. I ended up slowing down a bunch and letting him run back and forth behind me (while I kept the bottle aimed) and then punching into a sprint that he couldn’t react to. Dumb dog.
I figured out later that I rode about 15 miles (using Gmap-pedometer). Not bad, but very much shorter than my typical ride. Maybe I can get back out on Sunday. Saturday is out, since I’ll be doing photography at the annual local 12 hour race during daylight hours, and then will take over scorekeeping after dark. Maybe I’ll plan on a 20 miler on Sunday.
Right after I replace my cyclometer.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
“Gimme a pack of Doornail* Lite 100’s,” the man rasped quietly.
“What?” asked the clerk. “I couldn’t hear you.”
“Doornail Lites. A pack of 100’s,” the man rasped again, barely audible over the hum of the fluorescent light fixtures overhead.
“Doornail 100’s?” asked the clerk.
“Lites. Doornail Lites,” he choked out again.
“Huh?” said the clerk.
“Lites! Doornail Lite 100’s!” he hissed, agitated, though barely louder than before.
“Doornail Lite 100’s?” the clerk asked.
The man simply nodded his head and the clerk retrieved a pack of cigarettes from one of the racks behind the counter. The man paid and left quickly, and already had one lit by the time he got into his car.
I put my liquid breakfast on the counter and pulled out my wallet. “Hard to hear that guy,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I knew what he wanted, but I refuse to make it easy on him. He’s already destroyed his voice with those things, so who knows how long before he’s dead of cancer. The damage has been done, but I guess the lesson was never learned.”
“That’s non-fat creamer in there, right?” he asked.
I think I like this guy. He’s alright.
*Not the actual brand name, but close enough.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It seemed easy enough to do. The credit union was only a mile or so from the doctor’s office, so I just headed over there after I got done. I walked in and said to the teller, “Hi, I’d like to close an account.”
You’d have thought I’d said that I was thinking about cutting off one of my legs or something. She didn’t seem to take it very well and was filled with concern, possibly thinking me mentally unbalanced or something slightly worse.
Teller (with great concern etched on her face): Oh, sir, are you sure you really want to do that?
Big Guy: Um, yes, I really do.
T (with steadily increasing concern): Is there some sort of problem?
BG: Well, no. Not really. It’s just that we haven’t actively used that account for a while and we’re getting charged for that now.
T: But what will you do for a savings account if you close this one?
BG: Well, I actually have our main accounts at another place in Oak Ridge. It’s a lot more convenient for me there.
T: But don’t you feel that you need to have this account as well?
BG: Uh, no, not really. My wife only had this account as a place to keep money from her home side business when she still had one. But that was a while ago, and it really isn’t that convenient for us to have this account here anymore.
[Conversation carries on for a little bit longer, with the Big Guy afraid that she is considering an intervention of some sort, until she finally relents…somewhat.]T: OK, well, I guess that’s it then. You’ll have to write and bring in a letter to the credit union stating that you want the account closed, and it will of course have to be signed and dated.
BG: Do you have a blank piece of paper I could use?
[Big Guy writing quickly]Dear Credit Union, Please allow me to close my account as of October 15, 2007. Thank you, …
BG: Um, do you have a small knife I could use?
T: Excuse me?
BG: Well, you do want this signed in blood, right?
*OK, I will admit that I did not actually have that last little exchange with her, but I sure did imagine it.*
BG (handing over hastily scrawled and barely legible letter): OK, here’s my letter.
T (with a slight scowl): Oh. OK. Let me take this back to the manager so she can check for any outstanding loans or credit card balances.
BG: I can assure you that there aren’t any, but I understand that you have to do it anyway.
T: This will just take a minute.
[BG checks his watch, as he always does when someone says “This will just take a minute”…]
[Time passes. People back in the office area scurry around regarding my ‘letter’ and other paperwork.]
[More time passes. More people scurry.]
[Just under 15 minutes have gone by when…]T: OK. The manager has gone over everything and your account is now closed. Thank you for your past business and remember to keep us in mind if you need any banking services in the future.
[Big Guy stands there for a moment looking at her.]
[Teller looks back at Big Guy.]
BG: Um, aren’t you forgetting…
T: Oh! I guess you want your money, huh?
BG: Yeah, I guess that would be a good idea.
[Teller counts out money and hands it to the Big Guy.]
T: OK, thanks again for your business, and remember…
BG: Right, if I need any…
[Big Guy allows door to close behind him, cutting off any further exchange.]
All this hassle and time over a lousy $39.63?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
My parents have become senior citizens.
Oh, now I’m not talking about mere age categorizations here, or an acquired attitude toward ‘young whipper-snappers’ or anything like that. And they aren’t the type of people who are willing to sit around waiting for each tick of the clock to go by. They travel a good bit. They spend a lot of time with family (more on that in a bit). Dad plays tennis frequently, by which I mean it’s normal for him to play at least once a week even on travel unless circumstances don’t allow it. That’s not bad for a man who’s been around for almost ¾ of a century.
I don’t even mean that it’s because that they are retirees (if MG would let me, I’d retire!). Dad’s retired from several jobs already. Mom and Dad are still known for their recent volunteer work at the hospital back in Kingsport, so I guess that would be something they could retire from as well. I don’t mean that they dress in funny ‘old person’ clothes (you know what I mean, so don’t pretend that you don’t). I don’t mean that they babble on about ‘the old days’ (e.g., blah blah blah, walked uphill to school both ways, blah blah blah). I don’t mean that they’ve joined the Grey Panthers (they haven’t – and won’t be likely to, either).
No, I’m talking about the one sure sign. The one immutable indicator. The one thing that defines and characterizes the culture of senior citizens in this country.
Yes, it’s true. They’ve moved to Florida. Yes, yes, I know (I heard you gasp).
They actually ended up moving into a house in Pensacola that’s only a stones throw from my brother’s house (and no, I don’t think anyone is actually throwing stones about down there). I guess that they could say they only wanted to be closer to their grandchildren, and since MG and I have failed to provide them any that aren’t of the canine or feline persuasion, then south toward my brother’s kids was the only direction left to go.
Still, that could have been mere coincidence that my brother just happened to live there. Maybe they would have heard the siren call and made the migration regardless of that factor. Who can say for certain?
Still, it has happened, and I guess I’m OK with it. At least they aren’t out wandering up and down the beach waving metal detectors back and forth all day and mumbling about how milk used to cost a nickel per gallon. At least I don’t think they are. Could they be? … OK, I have to go call my brother and check on some things now…
MG and I went to see Nickel Creek on their ‘Farewell (For Now) Tour 2007’ on Thursday night. Great show. You should travel great distances to a city where they will be playing. And who knew they’d be covering a Britney Spears song? (Sounds better that the original version, but I’m not exactly a fan of Ms. Spears anyway).
Saturday, October 13, 2007
And how many other nations’ capitols have I been to? A few, actually. Washington DC, of course (pretty sad if I didn’t have that one). Let’s see now. In no particular order, I’ve been to Ottowa, Sofia, Amsterdam, Vaduz, Dublin, Edinburgh, Vienna, and (I think) Bonn. Can anybody name all of those countries? No more trivia quiz stuff, so just answer in the comments field.
Anyway, London. We hadn’t really planned on going. We’d been discussing a domestic vacation trip this summer. Then, one day, MG said “Hey, I wonder if we could get to London so you could see the Tour?”
She does love me.
After a little research, we decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea, so the plan took shape quickly after that. We left on the 4th of July so we could take full advantage of holidays to minimize vacation days taken. Of course, leaving on the 4th means getting there on the 5th, but at least it’s early when you get there (all jet lagged and everything).
The Tour events really started on Friday evening with the team presentations in Trafalgar Square. I honestly am not sure that I’ve ever seen that many people all packed into one space that wasn’t a major stadium. The crowd was huge. HUGE!!! After the team presentation I saw Didi Senft (AKA "the Devil") walking along the east edge of St. James park near the team compound. I wanted to get a photo of him dressed up in full regalia, but he was trying to get away from the following crowds and I guess didn't want to stop long enough to pose for a shot. I tried to get a shot anyway as he moved along, and he did at least smile in my direction, but the light was failing and it turned out badly blurred. When I turned around to go I almost fell over one of the Astana riders. He was trying for a photo of Didi also and had walked up behind me without me hearing him. At least he would have a few more chances for a photo over the next few weeks.
The crowds were huge the next day as well for the Prologue TimeTrial, though it was spread out over the whole of the course, which stared near Trafalgar, came past Buckingham Palace, through Hyde Park, back past Buckingham, and finished up headed back over toward Trafalgar again. I was lucky that our hotel was right on the route near the exit from Hyde Park, so I just walked out after a late breakfast, staked out as decent a spot as I could for photos, and just hung out as the crowds started packing in. The nice thing about a Time Trial is that you get to see every rider go by at around one minute intervals. On the other hand, with 198 riders it takes three hours and 18 minutes for all of them to pass by. MG made my day by bringing me back some food at one point (and then went and got some for several of my new comrades packed in around me).
The other side of the coin from a Time Trial is a regular road stage where, especially at the beginning, the peloton is all together and has come and gone so fast you barely have time to register it all. That’s why I like mountain stages, which tend to break the peloton into smaller groups, but England didn’t have any mountain stages. I still had a great time.
OK, that was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We were there from Thursday until we left Wednesday morning. So what else did we do? Oh, rest assured that MG got her due by having that time all planned out. We saw two plays (Avenue Q and Wicked), went to a few museums, ate a lot of incredibly good food, did a good bit of shopping, and walked through a good bit of London’s park system acreage. So yeah, we both got to have a really good time.
But I got to see the TOUR!!! WOO HOO!!!!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
We went back up to Blowing Rock, NC for our weekend trip. We tend to go there for two or three weekends each year. I guess you could say that we like the area. Our reason for going up this time was to attend Art in the Park. Art in the Park is a little thing they do once each month during the warmer months where usually about 100 or more artists (some local, some not so local) come to the community park and set up tents to show off (and hopefully sell) some of their creations. MG and I did our parts to help out. I bought a photo print from a lady named Dinny Addison, and MG bought a hand-made bracelet from Q Evon. MG spent over four times what I did. I guess I have some leeway toward buying a new lens? Or camera body? Or software? Hmm, likely not, I suppose. Still, I hope to maybe get my photography business up and running enough to maybe start going to these types of things as a vendor.
The park was crowed on Saturday, as was the whole town of Blowing Rock, at least in the morning. What we didn’t know when we made our reservations, and what many people at the event didn’t realize either, was that it was Homecoming weekend for two local colleges. We’d passed by Lees-McRae in Banner Elk on our way in on Friday, so we knew about that one. Saturday morning at breakfast (at Knights On Main) we found out that Appalachian State University in Boone was also having theirs. Appy State has a lot going for it right now. You may remember that they are the ones who upset Michigan in football during their first game of the season. Go Mountaineers, I guess.
Every time we go to Blowing Rock, MG will pick up one of the little “Homes” guides to flip through. She thinks she’s found the perfect house for us. Does anyone have $1,600,000 I could use? I can’t exactly promise to pay you back or anything…
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I think that I was still in the process of painting inside my house when I was last posting on a semi-regular basis. Well, I’m still not done with that. Why not (you might – justifiably – ask)? Well, to tell that story I have to go back a bit further.
Last September (2006) I was involved in a rather ferocious crash while riding on Labor Day and ended up with both collarbones broken. Surgery was needed to realign and hold the pieces of those bones in place while they healed. Apparently one of the fractures on the right side didn’t heal quite right. Sometime in February or March I went to my surgeon for a re-check. That was when we found out that the plate had actually failed at some point (likely in February) and part had shifted, along with the bone that was attached to it. I’d had some soreness in that shoulder, but I wasn’t expecting that.
For that reason my painting efforts, along with woodworking and bike riding activities and other such, were severely curtailed. More about the shoulder later.
In April Mrs. Guy and I went to the 2nd annual Blue Ridge Wine Festival in Blowing Rock. You might remember (if you've been reading along or have visited the archives) that we also attended the first one. It's growing. This year had larger crowds, but it was still manageable and, thus, a blast.
Then, in either April or May, I went with Mrs. Guy on one of her company’s award trips to Cabo San Lucas. That was very nice, but I’m not sure I could easily go back to stay at the same place if I was the one having to pay for it. Yes, we went to Cabo Wabo. No, we didn’t see Sammy Hagar while we were there (though we did hear plenty of his music).
In June, among other things, I helped put on the 3rd Annual English Mountain Challenge bike ride. Not for the faint of heart. I was driving one of the support vehicles, so I got to climb English Mountain several times that day. Good event. You should come ride it … unless you’re scared or something
Also this year I changed projects at work. Not by choice. I was “requested”. I’m choosing to make the best of it.
Let’s see, July…July…what did I do in Ju… Oh, yeah. Mrs. Guy and I went back to London. Why did we go to London? Well, many reasons, but among them was to watch the first two days of the Tour de France (and also the opening ceremony, so I guess it was really part of three days, after all). I write up something about Le Tour in a later post (assuming I don’t disappear into the internet æther again).
For August I did something really special. Uh huh. I had surgery again to replace the plate, along with the use of a bone graft from my hip to repair the collarbone. That was six weeks ago. I’m still in therapy for it (physical therapy, not the emotional kind – though maybe I could use it, too). I am healing, but it’s taking longer due to the graft. And my hip hurts, too. Not from having the bone taken off. No, that’s fine. The pain is from the incision site. You never realize how many muscles you use to do really simple things until you are aggravating them with almost every step.
So convalescence carried me into September (during which I also marshalled and photographed a local bike race), and now we are just barely into October. I have, though, already done something noteworthy for October already. I bought an iMac. This should be interesting as I try to flatten out the learning curve.
All of these subjects will likely be expanded on a bit in future updates. Maybe. Yeah, probably.
So, maybe another post in a few days, though I’ll be out of town over the weekend, so if you don’t see anything by Friday evening, don’t expect anything until at least Monday.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Several of us had made tentative plans to ride from Townsend, Tennessee (on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park) to Elkmont (inside said Nat'l Park) on Thursday with the expressed purpose of witnessing the magic of the fireflies. It turns out that, at this particular time of year, the fireflies that populate the Elkmont area tend to flash their lights in a synchronized pattern. It was first reported to a researcher in the 1970s, I believe, who studied the phenomenon. At first they thought that it happened only at Elkmont, but it has since been witnessed at other places.
But not by me, and certainly not on Thursday evening. I was a victim of weather forecasting. That's my story, and I'm not budging from it.
When I left work on Thursday the Nat'l Weather Service was calling for "Strong Storms" throughout the area. Thus, I bailed. It turns out that we all bailed except Gary S., who ended up going and of course never seeing a drop of rain. He did see some fireflies, though.
I'd thought of using the evening to go to Sundown in the City (a local summer outdoor concert series. The band this week was Uncle Earl, an all-female bluegrass band. I thought Mrs. Guy would enjoy it. Sadly, she had a bad headache. We stayed home instead. And never saw a drop of rain either.
On a side note, Uncle Earl is performing at Bonnaroo, as are several local (Knoxville) bands. My friend John B. will be playing with two of them (Angel and the Lovemongers, and the Westside Daredevils). Bonzer, fellows.
I went for a ride today (Saturday, when I started this post). There was a ride starting at 9:00am starting not too far from my house. I got there at about 8:55am. They were already gone. (What the....?). I have never, ever been to a ride that even started on time, much less more than five minutes early. Yes, my watch is accurate. Very accurate (set to the National Institute of Standards and Technology atomic clock).
Rather than sulk about it and drag myself home to sit in a dejected heap on the sofa, I decided to head down toward downtown. I wanted to go to the Bike Zoo anyway, so I just parked there and headed out, knowing they'd be open when I got back.
I usually have some idea of where I'm going when I start a ride. I'll at least have a general route in mind. Not today. I just, well, headed out, letting the bike aim itself wherever my subconcious whim told it to. I've done this type of ride before, though usually with others along for the ride. We call them mystery rides.
"Where are we going?"
"I don't know."
I've been on some Magical Mystery Tours, and I've been on some Tragical Mystery Tours (AKA 'Tragical Misery Tours'). Today wasn't either end of that spectrum, really, but it was a fun ride. I just rode along finding roads I'd never been on before. Some I knew where they would come out, and some I didn't, though I recognized where I came out in all but one place.
All but one, did you catch that? It's important.
I was somewhere around the half-way point I was aiming for as far as mileage (I was hoping for 30 to 35). I was on a road I figure would come out in a certain place. But it didn't. "Hmm", I kept thinking, "maybe it just comes out further up than where I thought."
And then at some point I realized that the sun was in the wrong place for the direction I thought I was going. Hmm, indeed.
What to do? Well, I entertained the notion of continuing on until I eventually hit a road I knew, as I knew I was bounded by several main thoroughfares. Of course, I did realize at the same time that some of those bounding roads were quite a ways away from where I would really like to have ended up. "Hmm", I thought, as I kept riding along. Hmm, indeed.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple out working in their yard. "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to get to downtown Knoxville from here."
"Well," said the lady, "you could turn around, take the second left, and take it back to Chapman Highway."
"Or," said the gentleman, "you could turn around and just go straight and come out on John Sevier Highway."
"But whatever you do," she started, "I'm going to have to turn around," I finished for her.
"Thank you very much. Have a nice day."
And that's how a friendly couple out placing mulch kept me from ending up in Sevierville, a good 25-30 miles from where I needed to be (and in so doing prevented a Tragical Misery Tour, or at best a call to Mrs. Guy to drive an hour to come pick me up).
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I originally started this up as a way to let out some creative energy. I remember thinking that I could post about three times a week and be happy. Then, immediately, I threw that notion aside and was posting daily (barring travel, illness or injury – and there were a few of those). I immersed myself into the blogging culture. And it was working very well for me. For about a year.
Then it became tedious. I felt the internal pressure to keep it up. I even felt some external pressure (“Hey, you didn’t post yesterday – are you OK?”). I started to burn out. Add to that the fact that Mrs. Guy was starting to complain about the amount of time I was spending on writing. Yeah, I’ll admit that it was taking longer than in the past. Where the words had previously flowed easily, it became a struggle to come up with something new. I felt like my writing was suffering. It was frustrating. I needed to do something.
So I took a break. I’d meant for it to be a short break – maybe a few weeks. Then I got wrapped up in my photography. The amount of time I’d been spending on writing was then being split between Flickr and trying to spend more time with Mrs. Guy. But now I think I’m starting to feel the spark a little again, so maybe I’ll start posting some again.
But it will be different. I will mostly be posting when Mrs. Guy is on the road with work. I will also try to ignore any self-generated feelings of pressure to write. Maybe I’ll post three times a week, and maybe I won’t. I will, however, try to live up to more of the quality of my earlier work than the products of drudgery that I felt I was putting out toward last winter.
So, what have I been doing? Some riding, though not enough. My mileage is down this year due to nagging injuries, but it’s starting to pick up again (and I’ve started running some again, too). I’ve done some travel. Mrs. Guy and I went to Cabo San Lucas courtesy of her company (and some of the photos I took made my Flickr page). We also took a trip to Charleston, SC to see her sisters (no photos, though I did convince her youngest sister, a burgeoning photog, to get her own Flickr account). I’ve also helped put on a major bike ride (the English Mountain Challenge) again with my bike club. That was just last Saturday.
Oh, and I got allergy tested and am now getting weekly shots. For the next three or four years. Joy.
Coming up? Well, Mrs. Guy and I are going to London in early July to catch the start of the Tour de France (WooHoo!). I'm told we'll also see a couple of plays (including Avenue Q - WooHoo!).
And more allergy shots. For the next three or four years.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
I’m going to pick on one of my favorite pet peeves. What is that? Smoking. Or I guess I should say Inconsiderate Smoking (and smoking tends to bring out the inconsiderate b@st@rd or b!tch in quite a number of people).
What got me started thinking about this today was my experience driving back to work from lunch today. The girl in the car in front of me was sucking on some foul stink-stick, and of course the breeze was blowing the smoke right back at me. That isn’t really something I complain about too much, though. At least she wasn’t sitting in my car puffing away. No, her sin came a little later after the light changed. She (and I, behind her) got up to about 30 mph when she flicked the still-smoldering butt out of her sunroof, at which time it followed a near-perfect arc onto my windshield. Which is were it stayed. Lodged under the wiper blade. Melting the wiper blade in one spot. Grrr.
Could it be worse than that? Oh, yes, it could be worse than that. As I pulled up beside her to pass (and showing great restraint by not flipping her off, I thought – I mean, what good would it do, right?), I noted the presence of a car seat in the back. And then another. Both full. And a pre-teen girl in the front passenger seat. That, my friends, is horrible. I always figured that I’m OK with smokers who want to kill themselves slowly (or at least smell bad constantly), but when it comes to damaging the health of others, and especially those who aren’t given a choice in the matter? Well, I think that capitol punishment should be reconsidered. Well, maybe not anything quite that severe, but at a minimum there should be public floggings.
Smoke all you want. That is, as long as you are only hurting yourself (and not littering too, you cretins!).
I want to say thanks to Major Tom and Pick for actually stepping up and taking on the challenge (that'll keep their mouths shut next time). As for Pick's post, I don't usually rant quite so much about arguably touchy subjects, but if he wants to rant, I'm happy to have the content.
On a personal note, let me say that I have helped fight five different fires in my life. Three of the five were caused by someone carelessly tossing a still-lit cigarette butt on the ground during drought conditions. One of those fires burned about two acres of grass lawn at my university. It took a long time for that area to come back to normal. One of the others burned up an entire median strip's worth of mulch and landscaping at a shopping center near here. In no case did the offending party likely even realize what they'd done. Just more cases of people not thinking about the possible consequences of their actions.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
So, where was I? Hmm. Not really anywhere in particular, I guess. Let’s just start off at some random point for now.
I guess I should clarify a statement I made before for Ms. Lilac Penguin (see comments from the last post). She asked about snow cycling, and I stated that I don’t like the cold so much. She (rightfully) pointed out that my statement seems contrary to my professed love of snowmobiling. OK, what I should have said was that I don’t like cycling in the cold so much. What’s the difference? Clothing, mostly.
When you ride a snowmobile, you can generally wear as much as you want to wear. It doesn’t really matter how heavy it is, nor how restrictive (within certain reasonable limits). I personally have a one-piece whole-body suit I like to wear that is quite well insulated, but I wouldn’t dare to begin marathon running in it. Riding a bicycle, on the other hand, requires that one wears a much lighter set of gear, and thus less well insulated. You also have to consider that you might actually sweat some while riding a bicycle, so clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin is a must.
Then there is always the cold, dry air to think of. Riding the s-mobile doesn’t get my breathing rate up nor does it make me take deep breaths to get more oxygen (unless I do some really exciting maneuvering, whether by intention or not). Deep breathing cold and dry air tends to lead to cold-induced asthma for me if I do it for long enough (like when climbing a local mountain range on a bicycle in sub-freezing temperatures). Not fun. No, not fun at all.
Plus, the helmet is better.
Come to think of it, motorcycling clothing is similar. I can wear better stuff there, too. I’d guess that if the Big Guy was wearing an armored leather jacket and pants during any of his clavicle-breaking wrecks, things might have been different. But there’s a reason bicyclists don’t wear such things while riding. Wearing a leather jacket while physically exerting yourself is rather questionable from a sanity standpoint. Passing out from heat stress is probably counterproductive.
Trivia Question: What Food Network star did a mini-series based on his travels by motorcycle?
Advanced Trivia: What brand of motorcycle was it?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m doing this because my bluff got called.
I’ve been emailing with the Big Guy for a little while and have been giving him grief about not posting for so long. I’m apparently not the only one. Even his brother from Florida called to make sure he hadn’t gotten injured again (since that’s been the main reason for previous hiatuses – or is that hiatae? I don’t really know).
No, the Big Guy is reportedly painting. He’s apparently spending all of his free time on it. Except for the four or five days he had the flu, that is. Paint, paint, paint. Maybe it wasn’t the flu. Maybe he was just really high on paint fumes. Hmmm.
But for now you get Major Tom. I guess I could go by something like ‘medium-sized guy who used to ride bicycles but now rides snowmobiles and motorcycles’, but MSGWUTRBBNRSAM is a little much.
So I said to the Big Guy, “Dude, what’s so hard about writing a post now and then? How can you be getting writer’s block after doing this for only a year-and-a-half? I bet I could do better.” That last sentence was the mistake I am now living up to. Except my challenge from him is to just write a post once in a while and not every day like he’d been doing. Oh, and I’m free to throw out trivia questions, too.
Ya know, sometimes it’s hard just to come up with one thing to write about, much less several month’s worth. And so far this post has just been background as to why I’m actually writing and not him. I guess I’d better get to typing something with some substance.
We just switched around on Daylight Savings Time again. This year was a little different, coming early as it did, but we still fool around with our clocks twice each year (except that I rarely get around to resetting the clock in my car, so it’s only good for half of the year).
The whole idea behind DST was to provide some kind of energy savings, or something. According to what I’ve read and what I’ve heard on NPR, nobody has actually proven that any energy has been saved. In fact, little things like moving the switcheroo up to last weekend this year have cost significant money to businesses and government offices that use computers so that the transition got made more-or-less smoothly. Add to that the issues faced by multi-national companies who have offices in places where they don’t use DST. Seems like a big hassle to me. Some have even suggested that we go on DST permanently. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Here’s what I think we should do. First, get rid of the whole DST thing altogether. Then, if we decide that maybe it would be a little nicer to have more daylight in the evening during part, or even all, of the year, then maybe we should just shift our work hours. Instead of showing up for work at 8:00 am (or 6:30 am for the Big Guy), we start showing up at 7:00 am (or 5:30 am, dude). It’s really the same thing we have now. The sun would be in the same position when we go to work on March 15th at 8:00 am DST as it would when we went to work at 7:00 am Standard Time. And I wouldn’t have to fool with changing my clocks around twice each year (just the alarm time on the clock in the bedroom).
But you know that someone would complain. I can hear it now. “How would we ever remember to change the batteries in our smoke detectors under that set-up?” Oh, I don’t know – maybe write it down on your calendar?
Been a pleasure,
Trivia Question for today: A certain Brit-pop rocker has at least two songs that mention me. What was the second one?
Friday, March 02, 2007
Today was mostly painting. My arms are a bit sore. So I'm taking the rest of the evening off and I'm headed to Preservation Pub to watch a band with several friends of mine in it.
But I remember promising something about trivia. Well, here's the thing. What with painting and the fact that my Step-Father-in-Law has been having a quintuple by-pass surgery today (and we've been on the phone a lot about that), I haven't really had much time to think of five questions. I did think of one, though. I'd hoped the first one would open the mental floodgates, but it hasn't (yet).
So here it is. You know the procedure by now, and if you don't, go check last Thursday's post for the rules et cetera links.
1 (and so lonely it is right now). What breed was Rin Tin Tin?
I really do hope to have more tomorrow. Really I do.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Things don't always work out as planned, though. Philippe brought his DVD of Breaking Away, but the DVD player wouldn't read it. So he tried hooking up his laptop to the projector. It wouldn't read it either. We tried someone else's Mac book. No dice.
I forgot who it was, but somebody had a VHS copy of American Flyers in their car. Well, any port in a storm, I guess. Philippe took it out of its sleeve...and the end cover fell off. While he went searching around for another VHS tape to cannibalize, we watched a few scenes from Pure Sweet Hell, a cyclocross movie someone else had in their car. If I'd only known how it would go tonight - I have a copy of Breaking Away on VHS at home.
Philippe finally found enough tape pieces for us to watch American Flyers, so we did at leat get to watch a cheesy mid-1980's movie starring Rae Dawn Chong and Kevin Costner's bad mustache. It's a touching film, really. We laughed, we cried, ... well, we didn't actually cry, but we did laugh at a lot of stuff.
Trivial Stuff You Might Know
Here's a link to the Rules. Here's a link for where to send your answers. Enjoy.
1. There are, according to Greek mythology, several rivers in Hell/Hades, including the River of Forgetfulness. I can't think of it's name right now. Do you know it?
2. According to Greek mythology, who guards the entrance to Hell (Hades, actually)?
3. Who was the ferryman across the River Styx?
4. Finish the lyric: "Domo arigato, _______ ______"
5. What group recorded "Carry On My Wayward Son"?
Friday, February 16, 2007
2. There are States and there are Commonwealths. How many of the 50 'United States' actually designate themselves as Commonwealths? There are four…
3. Name at least two of them. … and they are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia. So what does it mean that they are ‘Commonwealths’ instead of plain ol’ ‘States’? Not a whole lot as far as I can tell.
4. The Falklands War in 1982 was between what two nations? Great Britain and Argentina. The Argentineans apparently thought that Great Britain was overextended militarily, having gone through a reduction in forces and having the Royal Navy spread out all over the world. They thought the Brit’s couldn’t really respond if they took over the Falkland Islands and would just try for a diplomatic solution that would be time-consuming, allowing Argentina to strengthen their positions on the islands. They thought wrong. The results of the failed occupation hastened the downfall of the military government then in power in Argentina.
5. What was Star Fleet Captain James T. Kirk's full middle name? Tiberius, though that wasn’t solidly established until the movies came out (I’ve forgotten which one mentioned it). Before that it was just popular fan lore, having never been mentioned in the original series.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Back in 1996 I was assigned to a jobsite in Massena, New York for much of the year. Massena is the subject of a different story, but my company paid for me to take a trip back home for one weekend each month. We worked four ten-hour days each week, so at least it would be a long weekend. One such weekend came up during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. MG and I drove down from Knoxville to spend a Saturday hanging about in Atlanta, joined by Sis (my Sis). We didn’t stand much of a chance to get tickets to any venues at that point, so we headed over to watch the one event we didn’t need a ticket for that day; the cycling Time Trial.
We saw many of the greats of the day – briefly – as they flew past us at dizzying speeds. I remember seeing Lance go by as we headed into a restaurant to get lunch. I remember that he didn’t look on top of his game at the time. I figured he was just having an ‘off’ day. It was just after that when he discovered he had cancer. We also saw Tony Rominger, Abraham Olano, Miguel Indurain (who came so close to the barricade that a small drop of sweat hit Sis’s arm), and many other of the time’s top cyclists. But that isn’t the story, either.
Somebody had a tent set up near the Time Trial venue. Inside the tent were a bunch of stationary bikes with video screens set up on each and a master screen up on one wall. They would invite people to “race” against each other in heats using a software set up to let everyone race against everyone else. Most of the guys (and a few gals) hanging about were in their cycling garb and were very fit looking. I was wearing a pair of regular shorts and a T-shirt. I was already a Big Guy as well, weighing in at … well, I met the ‘Clydesdale’ criteria. Thus, most of the others getting ready to race in my heat were giving me the look of disdain as if I was some yokel who had an old Huffy he likely rode once or twice each year if he could actually find a tire pump.
Poor guys (and gals). I will freely admit that if we’d been on real bikes out on the road that they might could have easily taken me (especially given my less than cycling-friendly attire). But what the video program could not account for was the power to weight ratio. When I’ve been riding a lot (as I had been doing that summer), my overall power to weight ratio is reasonably close to that of a lot of other avid riders (essentially meaning more weight and more power). But this thing took weight out of the equation and went strictly by power. My competitors never knew what hit them. More than one jaw dropped at my posted time. Too bad they didn't understand the physics of it as well as I did. Too bad for them, that is.
Now, if only I could lose the weight I’d like to lose without losing the power I can generate…
Rules. Email your answers.
1. I’m standing in a grassy field looking out at a full-sized version of the Parthenon while listening to the Commodores playing on a local radio station. What city am I in?
2. Suppose I stabbed my father (don’t worry, Dad, I wouldn’t really do that) and ended up on the ‘Group W’ bench. What singer/songwriter might I have ended up sitting next to?
3. All denominations of US paper currency have dead presidents on them except for one. Which one?
4. What, according to Douglas Adams, should you never let a Vogon do to you?
5. Which great poet/novelist warned us to ‘shun the frumious Bandersnatch’?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Last night I met Ron at a local restaurant to discuss a mountain bike event that we are apparently now in charge of coordinating (along with Wally, who couldn’t make it to our meeting). MG was to join us following her hair appointment at her favorite salon, but ran later than planned. By the time she arrived we had already decided all the issues we could and discussed all we couldn’t settle right away (and assigned a bunch of tasks to Wally since he wasn’t there). We thought about going on from there, but since she showed up hungry and we’d only had chips and beverages, we ended up grabbing a table to get real food. Oh my goodness, was that ever a bad choice. The service was so slow, we could have gone home and fixed stuff a lot quicker. So again I arrived home with neither time nor inclination to post anything.
And today? Well, MG is fixing me dinner soon, and then we’ll watch a movie, so any posting I do will have to be done now. And a subject? Well…
I had thought of this subject a few weeks ago, but it would seem that NPR and Jef Mallett have beaten me to it, so I’ll let you see what they have to say first (funny that Jef’s strip came out so soon after the NPR piece, especially since he likely had to turn in his to his syndicate a couple of weeks ago).
I have thought for a while that video games are a likely contributor to the expansion of adolescent waistlines. Except for a Coleco Telstar Pong-type game that the family had at one time (and which our use of was limited by Mom and Dad), I’ve never had a video gaming system. I always used to want one, but never ended up getting one. Now I’m glad for that. I’d imagine that I would have likely wasted a lot more time exercising my thumbs on a game controller than exercising my body on a bicycle if I’d had that temptation. And if I’d had a Wii/Xbox/PS3 as a kid? Would I have wanted to play soccer or softball or tennis or racquetball…sports I would actually have to practice at for a long time to gain any proficiency…when I could beat the Brazilian National Team in the World Cup with a deft A/B/Up Arrow combination that I could figure out by reading up at a game-cheats website?
Then again, I might never have sprained my knee or dislocated a shoulder. But you know? I think it was worth it. And who wants a sprained or dislocated thumb, anyway?
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
We had the largest field I think we've ever had before, and certainly the most the the Junior category. Those kids were really giving a lot out there. I remember commenting that I wish we'd had races like this I could have participated in when I was growing up.
Here's part of the problem I've had with creative writing lately. I usually think of a great subject for a post at some time or another during the day. Really, I do - almost every day. The problem is, by the time I get home and I'm sitting in front of the keyboard, the idea has disappeared into the ether. I can't tell you how many times I've sat staring at my monitor trying like anything to remember what the heck* it was I'd been planning out earlier.
It's not really a new problem, to be perfectly honest, but a year ago I had a bigger backlog I'd built up during times when the creative juices were really flowing (I can remember having written three completely separate posts in one afternoon before). My backlog is long gone, and at about the same time my muse decided to take a long sabbatical. I'm still trying to coax her back to work.
I also used to carry a pocket calendar/appointment book with me everywhere. I used to jot done little key phrases that would prompt me to remember things I been thinking of earlier. Sadly, I lost it. I'd gotten it from MG (it was a promotional item she'd gotten at work), but she didn't get one this year.
Even today I thought of a post subject while MG was driving us downtown for a late lunch/early dinner. I remember that, as I often do, I'd thought out about the first paragraph or two of it. Now? Gone. I only recall that I'd thought of something, but I have no recollection of what that something was.
I guess I just need to break down and actually buy a pocket appointment book for 2007. Either that, or I'll have to start writing stuff on my hands and just not wash them until I get home.
* 'Heck' is the nicer version of the word I might normally want to use.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Caleb and I showed up right around noon and hopped on our bikes to just have a quick spin while we waited on John B. to arrive with the marking stuff. It was a real quick spin, as we didn't even get 1/4 of the way around the course before he got there. I'd set my cyclometer to measure a complete lap, so I went ahead and finished a lap before going to John's car and grabbing a handful of flags. The course lap length is right on 1.6 miles, by the way, which is longer than any other course we've ever set up. To me that's a good thing from a scoring perspective. It means the riders will come through fewer times and more spaced out (on shorter courses theres a lot of lapping going on).
Marking went fast; faster than normal. By the time Steve showed up at 1:00 pm or so we had almost completed the course marking in general, but he got to help me with setting a triple barricade on the lowest part of the course and with some final tweaking of the course overall. Caleb headed over to Haw Ridge to do some mountain biking once we got done, and Steve stayed to ride the course for a while and get a good workout in. At that point John and I went to lunch.
We talked about a lot of stuff in general over lunch. Cycling plans, travel plans, cycling travel plans, music, house stuff, and the creative process. The creative process has been on my mind a lot lately. I feel like I'm having problems with mine. Not a total writer's block, per se, but a bit of one. And it isn't all about my writing, but it is about it where the blog is concerned. I guess I just don't feel like my writing has been up to my own internal standards for a while. A long while, actually. Maybe even as long as it's been since my last surgery, though I don't think it is necessarily that event that knocked me off-kilter. I just feel that with few exceptions, my creative writing hasn't been up to snuff, maybe even forced. For that, dear reader, I apologize.
However, I hope that I can turn a corner on this soon. I've started thinking about woodworking projects again. I've started thinking about some photographic work I'd like to do. I've even started thinking about some new poetic stuff (man, how long has it been since I posted any of that in my blog? - a long time, I can tell you, maybe even since June or so). Gotta get all the creative juices jump-started at once, I think.
So I know what I'm up against here. They say that knowing is half the battle. As far as I can tell, the other half of a battle must involve violence of some kind. Hmm. Maybe I need a better saying than that one, eh?
Trivia Answers from 2/1/07
1. Today is the Feast Day of one of Ireland's secondary patron saints. Rumor has it she was named after one of Ireland's pagan gods of yore. Who is she? St. Brighid (though the spelling varies) of Kildare. The Goddess Brighid was apparently the Celtic equivalent of Athena for the most part.
2. What is the only X-rated movie to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture (and Best Director)? 'Midnight Cowboy'. No, I've never seen it, but those who have tell me it likely would only have gotten an NC-17 rating under today's system.
3. What was the last G-rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture? 'Oliver!' It was actually the only film originally rated 'G' to win, but that's because the rating system was new that year. Other winners such as 'Sound of Music' were rated first under an older system and re-rated under the new system.
4. What two teams faced each other in the very first Super Bowl way back in 1967? The Green Bay Packers (most people knew that) and the Kansas City Chiefs (not as many knew that part). I guess the winners are always remembered a bit better.
5. What Augustinian monk is considered to be the father of modern genetics? Gregor Mendel, who worked mostly with different varieties of peas to discover the dominant/recessive natures of genes.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
You can go into many department stores and buy look-a-like items for fractions of the cost of frighteningly similar designer items (purses are a good example). It wouldn’t surprise me if these items were made in the same factory with just a few subtle differences thrown in. I have no problem with that.
I do have a problem with the guys on the street saying they’ve got authentic branded stuff at pennies on the dollar. Why? Well, they’re either trying to pass off the fake stuff to the patsies (and if you don’t know what a patsy is, you probably are one), or they’re selling off stolen merchandise (which might still be fake).
But that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about the place MG and I went for dinner tonight.
MG and I love Irish Bars. Knoxville hasn’t really had a good, authentic Irish Bar in quite some time, though Patrick Sullivan’s downtown has great (though largely unrealized) potential. So a new place MG heard about, advertised as an “Authentic Irish Pub”, gave us some hope. Well, it gave MG some hope, but I was reserving judgment. And rightfully so, I’m afraid.
You see, first of all I feel that an authentic pub of any kind can’t be part of a shiny new strip mall. Old buildings are best, though not entirely necessary. Still, from the parking lot it looked promising, what with the proper signage and a well appointed façade. But the furnishings inside are important; critical even. This place looked more like a pretentious sports bar than an Irish pub. It made me wonder immediately if the owner/proprietor had ever even been in a real pub.
The place was packed. And it was cramped. The bar area was poorly designed (hard to move around). The din of conversation was horrible. I couldn’t have understood the girl at the hostess stand except for the fact that I can read lips a bit. We were seated at a table on the opposite side of a wall from the bar area, but the wall only went ¾ of the way to the ceiling and there was absolutely nothing in the entire place that might serve to absorb the noise. MG and I gave up on conversation quickly. That left more time to check out the fare. It was marginally passable (but I could suggest easy ways to improve it). We skipped on dessert, which was the same thing we could have gotten at a steak house up the road. But the worst thing? And the most unforgivable sin imaginable at an Irish drinking establishment? The Guinness had been served to us without the requisite double pour. The horror… Am I a beer snob? When it comes to Guinness, you bet I am.
So this was in no real way an Irish Pub, other than its name and the smattering of advertisements for Irish beer. My prediction? The place will make a good sports bar several months from now when they give up the charade (maybe after the gobs of money they’re sure to make on March 17th starts to run out). Except that it will still be too loud, the food won’t have improved, and the bar will still be cramped. The sad thing is that most of their clientele probably don’t know the difference.
Our house is more of an Irish pub than that place, but we don’t advertise it that way (except maybe one night per year). And I’ll do my guests the honor of a real double pour.
Here for your enjoyment is this week's Trivia Quiz. If you haven't read the Rules yet, go check them out. Please email your answers here.
1. On this day in 1971, trading began on the world's first electronic stock exchange, the NASDAQ. What does NASDAQ stand for?
2. There are States and there are Commonwealths. How many of the 50 'United States' actually designate themselves as Commonwealths?
3. Name at least two of them.
4. The Falklands War in 1982 was between what two nations?
5. What was Star Fleet Captain James T. Kirk's full middle name?
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Thus, no post other than this, though I will show you the map of the next KnoxieCross race course I created today.
I have to tell you, I do love Google Maps...
Monday, February 05, 2007
On the cycling front, I went out yesterday afternoon to Melton Hill Park to help John B. and Steve scout out the courses for KnoxieCross races #3 and #4 (Feb. 10th and 24th). Both will be at Melton Hill Park this year, where we only had one race last year. The markings from last year’s course are still very visible. Not that we marred the park last year or anything. We actually used existing paths that had been mowed into the fields. I think the park is used for a lot of cross-country racing/training by area high schools.
Steve hadn’t seen the previous course, so I described it to him a bit and we looked at part of it while waiting for John to arrive. We also looked at another area I thought might be good for adding something onto the course, but I’ve since decided that it wouldn’t work very well. Right after John showed up I took a lap with Steve around the old course to show him the exact layout. We decided to make a couple of minor changes, including running the course backward.
We then scouted out a totally new course in an area of the park we hadn’t ever looked at (and in fact didn’t realize just how big it was). I think we’ve fleshed out a good draft for a very challenging course. Steve rode around it a good bit, but I’d flatted my front tire after riding only five miles on the old course. But I think I will go out there on Tuesday or Wednesday and go for a jog around the new course layout, just to get a better feel for it. It should be a great course.
Other goings on this weekend included, of course, watching the Super Bowl with MG on the couch. I made up a batch of my semi-famous guacamole, which ended up becoming our dinner (we ate so much of that and chips that we weren’t really hungry enough to make chili at half-time as we’d planned).
Saturday was MG’s Vet School 15 year reunion. There were only about ten or so of her classmates there (out of fifty or so), but I knew them all (MG and I got married while she was still in school, so I was at a lot of class functions). I think everyone still had fun, especially talking about the folks who didn’t show (including two who live in town and have no good excuse – though they’ll likely make up something).
Anyway, that catches me up, I guess, except for…
Trivia Answers from 1/25/07
1. What is the mythological significance of ‘Mjolnir’? Mjolnir was the name of Thor's (Norse god of ... lot's of stuff) hammer, with which he summoned forth thunder and lightning and smote his enemies and yada yada yada...
2. What does ‘Testarossa’ mean (hint: it’s Italian)? 'Testa' = 'head', and 'rossa' = 'red'. Put them together and you've got a redhead. So what's the story on the Ferrari Testarossa? Open the engine bay and you will see red-painted cylinder heads. But first you've got to find one and talk the owner into popping the hood open for you.
3. Mars has two moons. Tell me the name of either one. They are Phobos and Deimos after the sons of Ares in Greek mythology. Ares's Roman counterpart is Mars, so it's interesting that the planet is named from one mythology and the moons from another.
4. In the 1998 movie “Shakespeare In Love”, who played the part of the Queen of England? M. No, seriously, it's Dame Judi Dench, perhaps better known to many Americans as James Bond's boss. The Brits know she has a long and storied career as a superb actress.
5. Most of us using computers these days are familiar with USB ports, but what does USB stand for? Universal Serial Bus. I'd explain what that really means, but it would get long and technical pretty fast.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
We've never had great success with celebrating it anyway. For our first Valentines Day, MG was sick. I showed up at her house, delivered her a box of candy, and left so she could go back to bed. For the next several I was in college and couldn't necessarily make it home on February 14th. One year I tried driving from my college to hers on Valentines Day (on a Friday that year), but I got caught up in an accident on the interstate that mangled my car, so I spent the night at my sister's (near the half-way point) and had to borrow her car the next day to finish the trip. Lately we've just gotten weary of the crush of people all trying to spend that perfect evening with their sweetheart while packed into a loud, not so intimate local restaurant (and likely waiting for 20 to 30 minutes for their table with all the other couples in the lobby).
Am I jaded? Good question. Maybe. But we've come up with an alternative. Now we celebrate a different holiday with the same fervor that some reserve for Valentines. It's also a holiday that encourages you to share fellowship with lots of people, and not just one other person.
And besides, St. Patrick's Day is still named after a saint.
There are Rules to follow when answering and a place to send your answers as well. Let's just jump right in.
1. Today is the Feast Day of one of Ireland's secondary patron saints. Rumor has it she was named after one of Ireland's pagan gods of yore. Who is she?
2. What is the only X-rated movie to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture (and Best Director)?
3. What was the last G-rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture?
4. What two teams faced each other in the very first Super Bowl way back in 1967?
5. What Augustinian monk is considered to be the father of modern genetics?
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
It should have been easy for me to make it by 6:30. Really, I could have been there a few minutes early on an ordinary day. But as I was leaving work yesterday, a co-worker asked me for an opinion on a subcontracting issue he was struggling with. He’s a good guy, and I’ve been dealing with subcontracts for years, so I spent a few minutes discussing it with him. Not a problem; even ten minutes late leaving I could make it.
Then I got behind a flatbed truck carrying sod on a curvy, hilly road (actually I was about seven cars back). I think it averaged about 15 miles per hour (the speed limit is 55 mph). Yes, they had room to pull over onto the shoulder. No, of course they didn’t. Five miles later the line of cars stretching behind that truck was likely a mile long.
Even once I got home little things slowed me down. I ended up finally deciding to take my mountain bike since it already has my light mount on it and I didn’t have time to transfer it to another bike. I barely had time to find my lights before I left. I called Wally and let him know I was running behind, so he said they’d ride up a little ways and then come back for me.
I got to the parking lot and got my gear together as quickly as I could. Gary C. showed up and asked if I’d seen Wally and the others. We took off down the trail at about 6:40 pm to go catch up to them.
We met Ron coming back the other way after about ½ mile. He told us he was headed back to Wally’s truck to get him some extra light cable and that Wally and Gary S. had taken a detour to RiverSports to get better gloves. The temperature was in the low 30s and the gloves they’d brought weren’t doing the job. Gary C. was under a time crunch, so he decided to go on and ride out the Greenway, so I turned back with Ron. We got Wally’s cable and headed to RiverSports.
Wally and Gary S. got some nice gloves there. There was a sale on some Mountain Hardware gloves, and they did look warm. So with that out of the way we headed back to the Greenway happy and warm…almost.
I had good gloves. I had good tights, a wool jersey under a windshell, a balaclava, and wool socks. Sadly, the socks were the weak link, or rather the lack of shoe covers may have been. My toes started feeling a little cold right from the start. No worries, I thought, as they would warm up once I got my body temp up and my circulation really going. Riiiight.
We rode out to the Ijams Nature Center, stopping at the Island Home Community Park when we saw Gary C. coming the other way and spent a few minutes chatting with him. We did a total of about 23 miles, and I’d given up on having warm toes after about seven. I just didn’t think they’d ever get that cold. I ended up being the one to say “OK, let’s get going again” each time we stopped just so we could get back to someplace warmer sooner.
With about five miles to go I noticed that the cold was creeping up my legs. That was actually a secondary concern at that point because I noticed that my lights were fading. In fact, the light on my handlebars was about dead. The light on my helmet was still shining, but somewhat diminished. I turned my light off during the times we were under streetlamps, but the last three miles were in the woods. With a little over a mile to go I had to ask Wally to pull up next to me so I could see by his light. It might have been my imagination, but I think he started half-wheeling me about then.
We got back to the cars and decided to go get food. We ended up at Ruby Tuesdays (I do like their burgers), but I never really warmed up while we were there. Even when I left I blasted the heat on high the whole way home. I never got warm in the truck even though my head was sweating. I took a hot shower when I got home. I changed into clean dry wool socks. I hopped in bed and stuck my feet under a heat engine (aka: cat). It still took another hour before my feet felt warm.
We’re doing this ride again next week. I’m buying some shoe covers this weekend. And maybe some battery-powered socks.
I wonder what the ASPCA would say if I just strapped a cat to each foot while I ride?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Question 2: Actually, one of them doesn't even live in Great Britain. Where is his current home (just name the country)? Paul and his family live in Uganda (near the border with Kenya), where he owns a gold mine.
Question 3: What two martial arts movies did Darryl Hannah appear in? Darryl appears as the 'best looking eye-patch-wearing-psycho-murder-b!tch in a nurse outfit' in Kill Bill Vol. 1, and returns in Kill Bill Vol. 2 to try to kill "The Bride" (Uma Thurman) off once and for all.
Question 4: Speaking of parks, what is the largest National Park in the United States? Most people said "Yellowstone", but wouldn't you think that the largest state would have the largest park? Yes, it's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, covering over 13 million acres of Alaskan countryside.
Question 5: The Cassini Spacecraft is currently flying around taking data on and pictures of Saturn and its moons. What was the name of the probe that Cassini piggybacked out there and then dropped off at Titan? The Huygens probe was named after 17th Century Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens (no, the extra 'a' is not a typo). He is credited with discovering Titan in 1655.
There may not be a post tomorrow. It depends on whether or not I go on a Cades Cove Moonlight Ride tomorrow with a bunch of friends. Those who have been reading my blog since the beginning (yeah, both of you) might remember that my second ever blog post was the story of a Cades Cove Ride.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I went riding at the King today. I met Ron and Joshua at
Actually, I met Joshua at a little after 11:00 this morning. Ron was running a little later than I was, so he called and said we should go on and ride a short loop until he got there, and that he’d call my cell phone when he got to the parking lot.
Joshua had never been to the King before (having just moved here recently), so I decided to take him on the expert loop. Now don’t get the wrong idea and think that I was being mean by throwing him to the wolves, so to speak (even though they do have such nice shiny coats and such sharp, pretty teeth). ‘Expert’ at
And it wasn’t all that muddy. It was actually rather good riding, if somewhat rollercoaster-like. We got around to ‘The Center of the Universe’, which is where most trails north of the water converge (though not all), and decided to cut back along the low trail which most closely follows the shore back toward the parking lot. Ron called soon after we started that way, so heading back was a good choice.
The low trail, however, was not such a good choice. Even though it hasn’t rained in a good while, the trail was as muddy as, if not muddier than, I have ever seen it. My bike was covered with big hunks of gloppy muck by the time we slogged our way back out to Ron’s truck. While Ron finished getting ready, I spent the time clearing as much mud from my drivetrain as I could with my fingers.
With Ron ready we went back into the trail system, but we didn’t go far before we stopped at one particular new trail that someone had cut in a few years before as a hiking trail, though it was actually more likely used to hide out and pursue more nefarious activities. Today we used some folding saws we’d brought to remove some of the tight underbrush and make it a rideable connector between two other trails.
The saws came in handy later as well. After we’d ridden over to the south side and come back, we came upon a pine tree that had fallen across the lower trail between the bridge and ‘The Center of the Universe’ (that section being not so muddy). The tree was too big to move and too big to ride around, but not so big that Ron and I couldn’t brandish saws while Joshua hauled off what we cut away. Ten minutes later the trail was clear again except for one small bit that Joshua wanted to finish up. That's Joshua in the shot below using my saw to cut back one last branch.
We rode out satisfied that we’d done our good deeds for the day.
Sign That Bicycles Could Help Cure Society’s Ills
As I left the parking lot to go home, I turned right just as another car was coming along in the other lane next to me (going the same direction. I was driving a ten year old pickup truck with a muddy mountain bike thrown in the back. The other guy was driving a shiny new Mercedes E320 with a $5,000+ bike attached to the roof rack. Old truck, new car. But we both raised our hands to wave at each other at exactly the same time with no hesitation.
After I got home I found MG in the home office playing something or other on the computer. She couldn’t wait to tell me something that had happened today when she worked relief at the Vet Clinic. Preface: MG got some new earrings this week to celebrate a big company award she got at their recent company-wide meeting. They’re very nice. OK, on with the story.
Mrs. Guy: Mary Beth noticed my earrings today.
Big Guy: Yeah? What did she say.
MG: She really likes them. She wanted to let her husband know she wants some like them for Valentines.
BG: Yeah? Well, they might be a little hard to describe to him without him being able to see them.
MG: I know. Get this. She asked me to Xerox them.
BG: You … what? You Xeroxed your earrings so she can show him which ones to get?
MG: Yep. Blog-worthy?
BG: You have to ask?
Friday, January 26, 2007
To be more precise, Brighid is a 2000 Evolution Orange Mazda Miata. Yeah, we name our cars. We name our cats, too, and the cars are just as likely to come running when we call them. Some people think it’s silly to name cars (and have told me so in no uncertain terms). Not that I really care. I have a long history of naming cars, starting with The Behemoth (Mom’s old Mercury Marquis). Actually, it may have started before that. I can’t remember if Dad got The Slug (a Ford Zephyr) before Mom got The Behemoth. No matter.
Regardless of history and tradition, it makes a bit of sense that MG and I named Brighid. At the time, Brighid was not our only Miata. I also had a 1992 Miata named Mjolnir. It was easier to say “I’m going to go put gas in Brighid” than to say “I’m going to go put gas in the Miata. No, not the white one; the other one.”
So naturally you can’t name just two cars if you have more than that. We currently still have Brighid, of course (I sold Mjolnir a few years ago). We also have Traineau Noir and the truck, which I recently named Jene (short for Genome – don’t ask).
All this might naturally beg the question, “Hey Big Guy, what about the bikes?” Yep. They have names as well. There’s Silver, Trigger, Clyde, Spock, PopMonster, the Beast, Jessica and Daisy. There are reasons for their names, of course, which I will be happy to tell you over an adult beverage sometime, provided you come here and buy me one.
Please refer to the Rules as necessary, and please send your answers to this email address.
1. What is the mythological significance of ‘Mjolnir’?
2. What does ‘Testarossa’ mean (hint: it’s Italian)?
3. Mars has two moons. Tell me the name of either one.
4. In the 1998 movie “Shakespeare In Love”, who played the part of the Queen of England?
5. Most of us using computers these days are familiar with USB ports, but what does USB stand for?
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Some who know me wouldn’t be too surprised to hear me say that (at least the ones who can hear). I’ve always demonstrated some minor amount of hearing loss, though I don’t know that you can say that you’ve lost what you’ve never actually had. OK, I guess it’s safe to say that I don’t hear certain things quite as well as others do.
But as of yesterday, it would seem that I have a severe hearing loss. "How do you figure that?", you might ask. "Huh?", I might reply (in jest, of course).
Yesterday was my annual physical at work. Since I work at a hazardous waste site (though I don’t handle the stuff myself), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) thinks I should have a physical every year to make sure I don’t suffer any ill effects from said waste (such as a new foot growing from my kneecap, an extra eyelid over my scapula, you know, stuff like that, I guess). I’m not complaining. I get a free annual physical and they share the results with my regular doctor.
Along with testing my blood and my blood pressure and my eyes and everything (yes, that everything every few years), they also perform a hearing test every year. After all, there is a lot of heavy equipment used at our jobsite that is quite loud. I’ve always scored about the same on the test, or at least I did until yesterday.
Now let me say that I am just getting over a cold, which might affect my hearing slightly, but that’s not really a factor here. What is? Be patient, I’m getting to that.
The audiometric test (AKA hearing test) is performed by placing the subject in a sound-isolating booth (think ‘cone-of-silence’), putting headphones on said subject, and having them push a little button every time they hear a tone. The pitch and volume of the tone change, so you go with the lowest volume heard for each pitch to determine the overall score. Most of the time I can hear my own heartbeat and breathing louder than some of the quietest tones I can hear. Except for yesterday, that is.
You see, the sound-isolating booths aren’t exactly perfect at cutting out all external noise. As standard protocol, the technician either leaves the area or just sits quietly at the console during the test. In that case, the booth is adequate. But imagine, if you will, that the technician stays in the room, joined by another technician, and maybe another technician, and they discuss (loudly) the (apparently) hilarious television show that each of them watched the night before. You might, as part of your imagining, wonder if the booth would be adequate at “sound-isolating” under that set of conditions.
Well, wonder no longer. It really came as no shock to me that I failed the test miserably. I did ask them to run the test again while, perhaps, standing in the next room in silent Zen-like contemplation and self-reflection. (Okay, I didn’t say it that way, but even though I was polite, I did get a brief scowl from one of the technicians – fortunately not the one who later drew blood from my arm). I passed the next test with my usual score.
Too bad, really. I could have used the ‘deafness’ excuse the next time MG gets after me to do some minor chore around the house. Hmm, I think I (don't) hear her coming now...
Sunday, January 21, 2007
And that is how a friend in my Sunday School class thought that I was saying that I'd been discussing pornography in a topless bar last night with my wife. OK, I can see the humor in that. I did have to set him (and everyone else in earshot) straight about what I was really talking about.
So I went out on Friday afternoon and helped set out a new cyclocross course in a park I'd never seen before, Victor Ashe Park. It's a nice park, I must say, and a lot bigger than I'd imagined it would be. Given that much space, the course that Steve R. came up with was huge. The longest course we'd ever had before was 1.2 miles per lap (last year at Melton Hill Park), and we all thought that was long. The course this weekended up being 1.6 miles.
The course took some time to set out, but not as long as I'd expected. John B., Steve, Phillip and I met there at noon and split into two groups, with Phillip and me concentrating on the lower half of the course. Bob D. showed up a bit later to help, but we were almost done. He and Phillip test-rode the course, and then Bob did another lap with me when Phillip offered me his bike to go give it a try. Steve also went out on his own bike, and John rode Phillip's bike for a lap after I did.
It was Saturday morning before we knew the length of the course, though. None of the bikes on Friday had a cyclometer, so I arrived early enough to make another test loop on my own bike to get the measure of it. Even being as long as it was, it was a very fast course. Faster than we'd really expected, because the mucky mire we expected on the climb toward the scoring area/finish line never really developed. The conditions were there, but everybody was able to use the four to six inch lane on the far left of the pathway that was relatively hardpack, and it never got worse as the event went on.
But not everything went smoothly. I had a couple of computer problems with scorekeeping that I didn't discover until after the races were over. I still had all of the places correct (after confirming with the guys keeping score on paper for back-up), but I lost the split times for all but the Men's-A race. Very embarrasing, but I now know what went wrong (a PEBCAK error), and I'll be able to prevent it from re-occuring during future events ... I hope.
Trivia Answers from 1/11/07
Yes, there was a bit of a theme to this quiz.
1. What 1980 film featured John Travolta and Debra Winger and centered around Gilley’s Club? Urban Cowboy. The story prominently featured mechanical bull riding.
2. What domestic model was the best-selling car in the U.S from 1992 to 1996? That would be the Ford Taurus. MG even once had one as her company car. I understand that fleet sales helped keep the overall numbers high for the Taurus.
3. What mythological critter was famous for hanging out in a maze? Half-man, half-bull, the Minotaur was famous for setting up house in the mythological labyrincth.
4. What is the term used for a solemn public decree issued by the Pope? Don't ask me how it came to be called this (though I'm sure I could look it up if I had time), but it's the Papal Bull.
5. Who caused Custer’s downfall (other than Custer himself) and where? The 'where' was Little Big Horn, and the 'who' I was looking for was Sitting Bull. Still, Custer's overconfidence and arrogance were major factors in his defeat.
Bonus: What was wrong with Fuzzy Wuzzy? I departed from the theme here in a way, but I was going with a tie to 'Bull vs. Bear' markets. "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?"
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Don't forget the Rules and where to send your answers.
Question 1: Who are the two British guys who have been announcing the Tour de France on American TV for about the last twenty years?
Question 2: Actually, one of them doesn't even live in Great Britain. Where is his current home (just name the country)?
Speaking of movies, I just dropped by Blockbuster Video on the way home to return the movie I watched last night. I occasionally like to watch martial arts films, especially the ones by Jackie Chan (they're usually pretty funny), but I've found that some of the more recent big budget ones have way too much "wire work" that takes away too much of the realism.
However, last night I watched Jet Li's "Fearless" based on a recommendation from a friend. I must say that I was not disappointed. This was a little "wire work", but no so much that it took anything away from the story for me. And Jet Li is such an incredible martial artist that it blows my mind. "Fearless" will never take the place of the Akira Kurosawa movies in my heart, but it is absolutely worth watching, probably several times,
Question 3: What two martial arts movies did Darryl Hannah appear in?
Tomorrow I go back out to help set up another cyclocross race course for this weekend. We're going to a park I've never been to before; Victor Ashe Park (named after a long-time Knoxville Mayor and current ambassador to Poland). I'll have to let you know tomorrow how the set-up goes.
Question 4: Speaking of parks, what is the largest National Park in the United States?
I really don't have any more topics to discuss tonight. I guess I'll just wrap it up and get started on some housekeeping work I need to do before MG gets back from Baltimore tomorrow night. I only have tonight and tomorrow morning to do it all (since the afternoon is dedicated to cyclocross stuff). I don't even have a lead-in for a last trivia question. I guess I'll just have to pick something at random.
5. The Cassini Spacecraft is currently flying around taking data on and pictures of Saturn and its moons. What was the name of the probe that Cassini piggybacked out there and then dropped off at Titan?