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?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Had a look? OK. Now I’ll be the first to admit that there are numerous (‘numerous’ being somewhat of an understatement in this case) such urban legends and other similar tripe flying about from inbox to inbox these days. So why did I pick this one? Because this is the one that caused the huge email firestorm at work today.
I can't remember exactly what time it came through, but it was very early in the day, likely in the 8:30 am range (of course by then I'd been at work for two hours, but others come in later than I do). Somebody had gotten the "Amy Bruce" email from someone else outside our company and decided that it was worthy of forwarding ... to the entire company distribution list. This despite well published rules against using work computer resources for this type of thing.
Why did he do it? I don't know. I don't even know him. But maybe he was hooked by the part of the subject line that said "(This is local!)". A quick look through the email trail revealed that "local" in this case was reported to be somewhere in Kansas. Kansas doesn't even border Tennessee. How local is that?
But regardless of his reason, the response was quick and multiple. My personal response was to delete it, but the first "Reply to All" response that went out was actually in the right spirit. The respondent quickly pointed out that the message was indeed spam and that folks should, in the future, refrain from forwarding such useless drivel. Well that was all well and good, but then came a cascade of further responses in rapid succession. Some were pleas to "Please remove me from this type of distribution", which they of course sent to everyone in the company. Some were brutal assaults on the mental capabilities of the original forwarder, which were of course sent to everyone in the company. Then came the attacks on the "pleaders" and "assaulters" for sending their responses to everyone in the company. These were naturally sent to, you guessed it, everyone in the company.
In the space of about five minutes there were 14 messages that came into my inbox that were all related to the original spam. I would have found it amusing, except that it slowed my system down and even locked up the computer of the guy across the hall from me for a few minutes. That plus the time it took for me - and everyone else in the company - to identify and delete the plethora of mishapen missives. I do wonder how much wasted money that represents.
The IT department finally weighed in with a terse reminder that computer resources were not to be used in such ways and that the company has its own department which handles sending out well-screen company-wide announcements.
One thing I do wonder about, though. I only saw the responses that went back out company-wide. I wonder how many responses the perpetrator got from people who hit "reply" instead of "reply to all" to dress him down? I'm guessing that number is rather high. I'd also guess he got a personal note from IT about the whole brouhaha and his part in it. I wonder if he's crawled back out from under the nearest rock yet?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
It was about 10 pm last night when I looked out to see what the weather was like. It was raining lightly; enough that it would keep me from running with the dogs, but not enough to keep me from running. It was a quick little “I used to run all the time in this kind of weather” thought that started the ball rolling, and before I knew it I was tying the laces on my running shoes and putting on my rain shell.
But what made me really decide to do it? A couple of things, I guess. First was the realization that I had bonked so badly because I am somewhat out of shape and need to correct that. Compelling, I suppose, but I could have waited a day, right? Except that I knew a little something about today. Sure, I knew I had a meeting downtown after work, though a little planning might have made that work in my favor if I'd taken running gear with me. No, what I knew about was the weather forecast.
We here in East Tennessee were blessed with a wonderful holiday weekend, from a climatological perspective. While regions of the West and North were being battered by bad, really bad weather, we had warm temperatures and only mostly cloudy skies (despite predictions for a weekend full of rain). And even though it did start raining on Monday afternoon, it never rained really hard. But a cold snap was coming, and my left shoulder joint confirmed the forecast for me. I'd rather run in light rain and temps in the mid-to-upper 50's than run in the dry with temps in the low 30's any day of the week.
So running last night was my best option, no matter how slow I might end up going after the harsh lesson of Haw Ridge. But you know what? I felt good. Really. I don’t mean to say that I set any records, but all things considered I felt really, really good.
So from now on I’m going to plan two, maybe two-and-a-half hour long naps into my exercise schedule.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Hmm. Well, Haw Ridge is a little more complicated than that, I told him. I directed him to the kiosk and the trail map on the big board and pointed out the maze of possibilities. “Well,” I said, “You could try this route, or you might try this route, or … well, you might try coming with us.” Thus Tommy became our fifth man. He rode pretty well today and kept up pretty well.
As for me, I did great today. I was off light a flash from the start, flying over the singletrack as fast as I’ve ever gone. I felt invincible. I stopped to wait at all of the intersections, but nobody could actually stay with me today. Even all the way up the ridge to the highest elevations, I felt like I was riding on air. I was …
Okay, let me admit at this point that the preceding paragraph is a complete fabrication. Let me emphasize the word “complete” here. I was the slow man from the start and it only got worse. I had some traction problems on West Shore, so I stopped and let some of the air out of my back tire. That helped a good bit, and I was able to stay on with the group for the next several trails, along Lake Road, Twister (always a favorite), New Trail (sad that we never came up with a better name), Red Hill, Briar Loop, and part of the way up the Power Cut. But that was where my real trouble began.
I overheated a little on the climb up that part of the Power Cut. I asked for a water break, but quickly realized I was a bit dizzy. So I got off of the bike and sat for a few minutes, hoping that would help. Was I suffering some lingering effect from the cold I’m still shaking loose? I don’t know, maybe, but the rest I got there was not enough for what was coming. We started off again and Monty led us along Middle Road to the turn onto Low Gap trail.
Low Gap. That sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Sure it does. But it isn’t. Low Gap is a long climb up the ridge. And it did me in today. I was actually in the saddle for the first good bit, but when I caught up with Tommy walking his bike I sensed that solidarity was in order and climbed off of my bike and started walking as well. There was a brief gradual down gradient where I got back on the bike, but the previous overheating returned and I didn’t stand a chance at the last bit where the slope of the climb cruelly increases near the top. I took a quick nature-break, almost as much as a chance to extend the stop as to get relief from a semi-full bladder.
And then we started along the ridge, which is a little bit more climbing, though more gradual. It didn’t matter. I was spent. I was riding like I was drunk or something: slow and slightly wobbly. The wobbly part was my biggest concern since the trail was narrow and plunged off down the hill on the right. Still, I was doing my best to hang in there and finally made it to the intersection with K2 trail. From there we went downhill for a while and I recovered a good bit, but the damage was done. Oh, and somewhere in there we found Alan and he joined the group.
Yes, I was cooked by Low Gap and was in ‘limp-along-home’ mode. However, from where we were, it made more sense to follow everyone East to East Edge trail and then up to where there was paved road I could follow back to the parking lot way back on the other side of the park.
I was happy to see that John and Tommy were waiting for me at the paved road (Old Edgemoor Rd), and they rode along with me for the first part of my trip back. After I convinced him I’d be okay, John took Tommy back in on another trailhead to ride with the rest of the guys as I continued on toward the parking lot. I felt better riding back, until I hit Edgemoor Rd (the new one, I guess) and turned to face a stiff headwind for the last ½ mile.
I got to my truck and put my bike in the back, and then just slowly started getting ready to leave. I was in no hurry to actually drive away until I at least had a chance to drink more from my waterbottle and get a small bit of food in my stomach. But right when I was ready to go, I saw Tommy coming back out on the main trailhead and stopped to talk to him for a while, explaining where all we had actually been vis-à-vis the map. I think he was rather happy to have gone in with us. His eyes were a bit wider with wonder as to just how many different possibilities there are at Haw Ridge, and how easy it might be to get completely turned around and lost.
Maybe I’ll see Tommy out there again. Maybe I won’t blow up quite so badly next time. One thing is certain; I need to get my stamina back up and fast. I can’t continue to suffer like this on rides I know I should have little problem with.
One from the "You Gotta See This" file. Can I go ahead and put this on my wish-list?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
We’ve been using my laptop computer for the last several years to do scoring entry, with several people copying down the entries on paper as a backup. I’m familiar with the program we use, and I’ve usually been able to show someone else how to run the computer during the heat I’ve been known to race in, but there’s always some little glitch somewhere that we have to go back and figure out. Sometimes I’ve had to finish a race and go directly to the computer without having a chance to cool down at all. Well, actually that happened most of the time. It can be a quirky program.
But yesterday it all went smooth as silk. I got the name/number entries for the B and C races entered even while keeping score for the A race, and was even able to solve the one minor glitch we did have in real time without having to wait until it was all over and then got back and fix it then. The result printouts got out printed sooner than we’ve ever done before and nobody contested any of the scoring or split times. It was great. Well, mostly great. The one problem I did have was that the black ink cartridge on my little printer when dry, but I just changed the text to blue and it all worked out. I love it when it all comes together.
Next race: This coming Saturday, January 20th at Victor Ashe Park.
The weather here has been freakishly warm for the last several days. I couldn’t do anything about it on Friday or Saturday due to KnoxieCross, but I did do something about it today. Joshua, Ron and I went for a 30 mile ride on one of the local Greenway Trails (two, actually, as they don’t connect, but we rode the short distance in-between to get from one to the other).
We saw a bunch of people out on the trail today. That’s not so surprising since the weather is so nice, but I think I actually saw more people out there today than I’ve ever seen out there at once during any other time of the year. I guess people think this might be their only chance for a while. They might be right, but then again there is that whole global warming thing to consider.
One notable sighting (other than the pretty girls): We passed a middle-aged couple on the Greenway at one point not far from the entrance to Island Home Airport. She was pushing a baby carriage…with a small collie in it. Gives another meaning to “taking the dog for a walk”. Ron looked over right after we got out of earshot and said “Man, that’s the ugliest baby I ever saw.”
“Yeah”, I said, “and it sure was a hairy little thing, wasn’t it?”
Friday, January 12, 2007
This year John was approached by Steve R., who wanted to try his hand at designing the course. John was happy to let him give it a shot. John and I got there today at abour 1:00 pm, joined soon after by Wally J. and Bob D. We started out by going ahead and removing leaves and as much broken glass as possible from the pavement segements of the course. After about an hour Steve showed up and the real work began.
It would be impossible for me to try to describe the routing of the course and do it justice, but it's certainly a tough course. In fact, the word that popped into my mind for the upper half was "heinous". Overall the course is a good bit longer than previous ones as well. It should make for some interesting racing.
But I won't be racing this year. This series has grown in popularity each year, so I think it's gotten big enough that I should concentrate on score-keeping full time. Besides, after seeing tomorrow's course...
Trivia Answers for 1/4/07
1. What is the capitol of Canada? Ottawa is the Canadian capitol. When I lived in Massena, New York I used to drive to either Ottawa or Montreal to fly anywhere. Both were closer than the nearest major domestic airport.
2. Former presidential candidate Gary Hart watched his chances capsize and sink due to some 'monkey business' with what woman? Gary wasn't very smart about his affair with model Donna Rice. He told the media to follow him around if he wanted to, and they did, digging up the dirt on him and Donna in the process.
3. What is the significance of 'Monkey Business' in the previous question? "Monkey Business" was the name of a yacht that figured into some of their illicit time together. In fact, the most famous photo of them together shows her sitting on his lap and him sporting a T-shirt with the ship's name on it.
4. What 1985 movie did Oprah Winfrey co-star in (hint: Danny Glover was in it too)? Oprah was in "The Color Purple" as a supporting actress to Whoopi Goldberg.
5. A German tourist recently ended up in Montana due to a mix-up when purchasing his airline ticket on-line. Where did he intend to go? When he ended up in Sidney, Montana he figured out that maybe it wasn't spelled quite the same as the Sydney in Australia. He finally got to Sydney where he was going to visit his girlfriend, but he was a few days late and several hundred dollars short by then.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
A few weeks ago I noticed that one of the belts on my truck would sometimes squeal briefly when I started the engine. “Hmm,” I remember thinking, “I should probably look into replacing that at some point.” Unfortunately, I didn’t really consider it to be an imperative. After all, my first car, a 1974 Ford Mustang II, did the same thing, only longer and louder when I started it. And I drove it for at least 10,000 miles before I got around to replacing the belts on it. In other words, I thought I had some time. Guess what? I ran out of time this morning.
I got up and did my usual morning ritual and then left the house at about 5:55am. Instead of driving through Oak Ridge to get to work like I often do, I decided to take the interstate (which I do less often, though I almost always come home that way). I heard the squeal briefly when I started the truck, but it stopped as usual and off I went. Everything was going along fine until I got almost to where I-40 and I-75 split, which was when I noticed that the battery light and the parking brake light were on.
Well, that was odd, I thought, but the truck was still driving fine, and a quick check let me know that the parking brake was indeed NOT engaged. Thus, I concluded (incorrectly, it turns out) that it was likely an electrical glitch. But nothing else was wrong and the headlights were still on, so I … looked back down at the dash and noticed that the engine temperature was spiking. Huh? Uh-oh, I thought, since I had just passed the last available exit for several miles.
Sure enough, I lost power and coasted to a stop on the side of the road. I noticed a little steam on the right side of the hood as I shut the engine off, and I figured that it was coolant bubbling out of the reservoir. There was only one likely explanation. The belt must have broken, and it must have been connected to both the alternator and the water pump. Yep.
I called work first to let them know I’d be late. Then I called AAA. Then I waited for almost 45 minutes for the tow truck to arrive while the cab of my truck got steadily colder and colder. It finally got there and he hauled me back to a Pep Boys in Knoxville where I left it for service. Still, there I was with no way to get home or to work. Why do these things only happen when MG is out of town?
Thank goodness for George R. He works about 2 miles from the Pep Boys and I knew he’d be there early as always. I called him and he came and got me and drove me home to my other car. I finally got to work two hours late at about 8:30 am.
But I still had a problem. I had a car at the shop and no way to get there to pick it up without having to leave a car there. Enter Kelly, who is a long-time friend (she and MG went to Vet School together). She also happens to work with George R., so I think she was anticipating my call. She came and got me at home after she got done at work and drove me back down to Pep Boys.
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of good friends, but especially lucky today to have two of them close at hand. Thanks, guys.
The Rules are here, and please email your answers to this address.
1. What 1980 film featured John Travolta and Debra Winger and centered around Gilley’s Club?
2. What domestic model was the best-selling car in the U.S from 1992 to 1996?
3. What mythological critter was famous for hanging out in a maze?
4. What is the term used for a solemn public decree issued by the Pope?
5. Who caused Custer’s downfall (other than Custer himself) and where?
Bonus: What was wrong with Fuzzy Wuzzy?
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Trivia Answers for 12/28/06
This was the slogan quiz.
1. Crisp and Clean and No Caffeine. Sprite put out this one way back. I can still hear the guy's deep booming voice on this one.
2. Mmmm Mmmm Good. Remember Andy Warhol's famous soup can? It was Campbell's.
3. Must See TV. NBC came up with this promotion at about the same time I stopped watching much TV, especially the major networks. So, no, it wasn't really "Must See" for me at all.
4. We Don't Make the Products You Buy; We Make the Products You Buy Better. I'm still trying to figure out why BASF decided to spend all that money to promote themselves when the only final product under their label I knew them for was cassette tapes, and they weren't even featured in the ads. Go figure.
5. All the News That's Fit to Print. The New York Times owns this little catch phrase. I'm not sure what they consider unfit to print, though.
Bonus: All the News That Fits. Rolling Stone did the Times one better with their little truncation.
Trivia Answers for 12/21/06
1. What terrestrial feature causes the winter and summer solstices? Quite simply, it's the tilt of the earth. During the winter solstice the earth's north pole is pointed away from the sun, so anything north of the Tropic of Cancer at that time is going to have less exposure to the sun. Anything north of the Arctic Circle gets no sun at all on the solstice.
2. Who created Winnie the Pooh? Scottish-born Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne created the stories centered around his son, Christopher Robin Milne, and his stuffed animals. However, 'Winnie-the-Pooh' was originally the name given to a Canadian black bear by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Regiment (Winnipeg -> "Winnie"). The bear was left at the London Zoo after WWI, which is where Milne saw it and later used the name.
3. Who invented the game of basketball? Dr. James Naismith was looking for a indoor fitness regimen for students at what is now Springfield College (in Massachusetts) to keep his students fit during the long New England winters. The game evolved a good bit since he first introduced it (e.g., we no longer use a peach basket for a goal, et cetera).
4. In “Casino Royale”, Bond orders a drink with gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc. What does he name it? Bond names it after his love interest, Vesper (Lynd)
5. “Beefeaters” is a brand of gin. Where are the original Beefeaters employed? The Beefeaters guard the Tower of London, though a lot of their time is now spent leading tours.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I was supposed to go on an urban bike ride tonight. The Tuesday Night Clydesdale Rides are starting up again, and though we normally go mountain biking, the rule is that we do an urban downtown ride when the trails are sloppy. It rained a lot this last weekend, and the report coming from IC King (our usual Tuesday evening haunt) was slick, snotty slop. Thus, downtown we go.
But I didn’t go. I wimped out. Nevermind that it actually snowed this morning. Nevermind that the temperature was only in the upper 30’s as of our designated meeting time. Nevermind that the wind speed is 15 or so miles per hour with gusts of up to 30 miles per hour (it blew my hat off at one point today). Nevermind that I’m still getting over being sick. Nevermind that it was spitting little bits of rain as I drove home from work. Nevermind that Wally had already started backing out when I talked to Ron. Nevermind all that. I wimped out.
Oh, yes I did. You’d better believe it.
For those who don’t get the title’s reference, it's a phrase that was commonly used by Popeye’s friend, Wimpy.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Now, straight to the heart of the matter.
There once was a thing known as 'Southern Hospitality'. I'm not sure it exists anymore, at least not in a general sense. Sure, there are local pockets of it here and there, but overall?
I notice the social decline a lot. As life has gotten more complicated in our increasingly busy world, hospitality and even decorum have gone right out of the nearest window. Fewer and fewer people smile and wave at their neighbors. For that matter, fewer and fewer people even know their neighbors. I grew up in a suburban development with about 50 to 60 houses. I think I knew most everyone, or at least knew who they were. I probably know less than 25% of the people in my current neighborhood. Nobody sits out on their porch here. Not many people even go for walks around the neighborhood here. I wave at people here who half-heartedly wave back, and some who don't wave back at all. I know who a lot of the kids are around here, but striking up a polite conversation is like pulling teeth ("yeah, like, whatever"). However, I am trying to do my part to set a good example for other people. Even things as simple as holding doors for people - am I naive to hope might be enough to get people to think about (not-so-common-anymore) courtesy?
But here's the thing that set me off today. I went to the Post Office on my way home from work. The parking lot is a one-way single lane with diagonal parking on both sides. I pulled into the parking lot behind another guy and noticed a car up ahead backing out of a spot on the right. It was about half-way out when we got into the lot, but the guy in front of me - and I'm not exagerating or embellishing at all here - sped up, laid on his horn, and swerved his car to squeeze between the car backing out (which wisely stopped) and the line of cars on the opposite side. I would guess that he was going about 25 to 30 miles per hour as he went by. Why did he do that? I dunno, but all he did was drive to the mailboxes at the end of the lot and put his letters in before leaving (I can't see how doing that thirty seconds later would have adversely affected his life). I had to wave the stopped car out, as she was visibly shaken and not going to take any chances, I guess.
I started thinking about it a little. What if she hadn't been able to stop? What if someone had walked out from between the parked cars on the other side? What if it had been a child? What would a reasonable person have done if they had been driving the offending car? What would Jesus do?
And I ask that last question for a very good reason. After all, it was written right there on the guy's bumper sticker.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I first got the pager about four years ago when I was doing a different job function on a different project. I didn't have a cell phone of my own back then. I'd had one before, but I gave it up to MG when she went on the road traveling a lot. Back in those days I could expect to get paged just about daily, sometimes several time daily.
Then I went to a different project where I got paged less often (but I got a cell phone again while I was there). For the 18 months before this last August I was on still another project, and I almost never got paged. In fact, it was around June when I forgot it that day I mentioned previously.
So I decided to try an experiment. I left my pager at home for a week. I would check it daily when I got home, but I never got a page. Why would I? I had a cell phone and voice mail. Most people knew to call me on one of those anyway.
Then I left it at home for a month. Then two. Then … well, you get the idea.
This morning I decided to bring my pager with me to work. The plan was to find the time to walk down to Tech Services at some point during the day and turn it in. I'll give you three guesses what happened today.
I got paged three times across the day.
There's an old joke that I was reminded of recently. 'Q: How do you make God laugh? A: Make a plan.'
Rules are here. Email your answers here. Ready? Let's begin.
1. What is the capitol of Canada?
2. Former presidential candidate Gary Hart watched his chances capsize and sink due to some 'monkey business' with what woman?
3. What is the significance of 'Monkey Business' in the previous question?
4. What 1985 movie did Oprah Winfrey co-star in (hint: Danny Glover was in it too)?
5. A German tourist recently ended up in Montana due to a mix-up when purchasing his airline ticket on-line. Where did he intend to go?
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
So anyway, here's what I'd like to do this year:
- Participate in all four of the local cyclocross races (Knoxiecross). I would say "Race in...", but I know better than to think I stand much of a chance to be anything more than pack fodder.
OK, well, I did accomplish this goal, but I was right not to expect too much of myself performance-wise. Especially in the last race, in which I rode with a pulled muscle in my back.
- Ride in at least two century events. For those unfamiliar with the term, that means doing a ride of 100 miles or more in one day. I have done at least two each year for the last several years, so I shouldn't have a problem with this. I hope to do the Smoky Mountain Wheelmen Fall Century this year - I've done the last five except the latest, when I was out of the country. I haven't decided on the other one(s) yet.
Complete and total failure on this one. I had planned to do the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge in June, but that plan disappeared into the ether when I re-broke my right collarbone mere hours before doing a 62 mile ride on May 20th. I then pinned my century hopes for the year on the SMW Fall Century in October, but that one also fell off of my radar due to my catastrophic crash on Labor Day and the subsequent surgery to repair that damage.
- Help organize my bike club's century, the English Mountain Challenge. This will be the 2nd annual event. I helped organize and also drove the SAG Wagon last year, so I won't get to ride (unless the organizers decide to make a test run...hmm).
This one I was able to do. I rode in the SAG Wagon again, this time with John B. I didn’t do a test run, though.
- Ride at least 2,500 miles. I had over 2,100 miles last year even though I missed most of October and November due to injury. This sounds like a lot, but Jon N. rode about twice that this year. Thanks to the Tour de Downtown Parking Garages, I already have my first 13.25 miles in the books.
Failure here as well. I achieved just over half of this goal. I spent way too many good-weather riding days on the Disabled List this year (rough estimate – 3 ½ to 4 months). But, just like last year, the Tour de Downtown Parking Garages gave me my first mileage of the year.
- Go on at least two unsupported multi-day tours by bicycle. I'd like to make one of them a camping trip.
HA! Yeah, well, this didn’t happen either. Mostly for the same reasons as stated above (on the DL), but I may not have found the time anyway.
- Ride my mountain bike at Tanasi and Panther Creek. Most of my mountain biking buddies talk about doing rides at these two places, but I've never been to either. This is the year.
I got to ride at Tanasi. That was fun, even though I was having bike trouble at the time (rear shock died). Panther Creek still eludes me.
- Ride the Virginia Creeper with Mrs. Guy (by tandem). We were supposed to do this in November, but I was still in a sling. We still made the trip, but only walked part of the trail while our friends rode on it.
No, I didn’t get to do this either. MG and I rode less than 100 miles together on the tandem this year, and all of that was during cold weather months. Most of those miles came last month while we were in Florida.
- Participate in my first mountain bike race. I just hope I've got some good karma built up for this one.
Ah, now this is one I can proudly say that I exceed expectations on. I rode in not just one but two mountain bike races last winter, and I did much better than I’d expected to do (an 8th and 4th place finish, respectively). I wanted to ride in more, but my mountain biking was on hiatus from mid-April until late December.
- Lose 20 more pounds (at least). I was doing well until the crash, but I have gained more over the holidays than I'd like to admit. Still, I weigh less than I did at this time last year.
So, where do I go from here? Well, some of my goals for the next year are a little different, though maybe a little more reasonable.
- I still want to ride at least 2,500 miles (12 down, 2488 to go).
- I still want to lose 20 or more pounds. Emphasis on 'more'.
- I won't be riding in the KnoxieCross races. They've grown to the point where I think I can best serve by dedicating myself to scorekeeping full-time. I'll still get some practice laps in.
- I'm already helping organize the bike club's century ride for this year.
- I've been talking to John B. already about trying to do another unsupported multi-day tour, maybe from here to Blowing Rock, NC. And we've started thinking about a supported multi-day tour on the Natchez Trace Parkway (a suggestion originally from John H.)
- I haven't decided about more mountain bike racing this year. MG might not think much of that, and my conditioning stinks right now as well.
- I want to ride in one, maybe two, century rides.
- I want to finally take MG on that Virginia Creeper ride on the tandem.
- I want to avoid further visits to my orthopedic surgeon unless they are purely social calls.
I think that's a good enough list for now.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
We had a bigger crowd this year than we’ve had before. Actually, attendance has increased each year, I believe. Last year I think there were six of us. This time I think there were sixteen or more. We met at the sculpture of the Rowing Sinking Man as usual at around 3 pm. Why so late? Well, the hometown college team played in the Outback Bowl (and sadly lost), so we made accommodation for those of us who wanted to watch the game.
I showed up right on time, but had a few issues to iron out. I’d just replaced my rear tube (which I'd flatted weeks ago in Florida) before I left the house, but somehow it went flat again before I could get to the meeting point. I spent about five or ten minutes changing my tire and then changing into my cold weather riding gear, but everyone was willing to wait for me. Besides, it gave Bob D. a chance to change the gearing on his singlespeed. Then we headed out toward the Walnut Street Garage.
In years past I have always done well in the parking garage coaster races. That’s where you go to the top to start and everybody coasts the whole way down. However, I find myself a little more tentative about riding very close to other people, especially since I hadn’t ridden with some of these folks before. I chose discretion and took a fifth-place finish.
I’m used to us hitting almost all of the downtown parking garages on these rides, but the will of the group was that we head straight over to Thompson Boling Arena for the ‘Spiral of Death’ race. As we took a practice lap I noticed a concrete bollard that was lying on its side that could have caused somebody big problems if they hit it. So after the practice lap, I went over to try to move it out of the way. I was able to move it in increments (sliding one end over, then the other, then the first again, et cetera). However, much to my chagrin, I pulled a muscle in my lower back in the process. Ow. Not bad enough to keep me from continuing riding, but bad enough to hurt like crazy.
We ended up doing two races there (I was not competitive in either). I took a flying start in the first race before waiting for someone to say “Ready, Set, Go”, but that was mainly to prove that I know how to cheat (cheating is encouraged in these races) and to get everybody going. I didn’t even maintain my lead for half of the first lap.
Last year we stopped at a fountain on campus and watched as Phillipe rode inside of it (it's drained and dry this time of year). On this occasion, we got to watch Phillipe and Luke W. do it at the same time. Next year I expect to see it done with circus bears and monkeys riding on tandems. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here's a shot of Phillipe doing it by himself last year.
We ended the day at the Dwight Kessel Garage, which is arguably the best downtown venue for bicycle garage racing. I think we did only two races, but we also did a lot of other laps inside the garage for practice/fun. Again, I was not competitive.
After that we all went our own respective ways (though I stopped by Bob’s truck – parked near mine – for an adult beverage and a slice of summer sausage). I got home and pulled an ice-pak out of the freezer and laid on that up in the office while MG was processing expense reports. I’m not sure it helped much, nor did the hot shower I took twenty minutes later, but at least the shower felt good.
And my back really hurts this morning. I walk with a strange shuffle, and I can’t stay seated for long. Still, I’m glad I moved the bollard. I just wish I had lifted it differently. Or maybe just marked it with road flares or something.