Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer is here!

This weather has been bizarre to say the least. It seems like we went from day after day of colder than normal temperatures and constant rain immediately into our typical hot/humid summer weather, with no transition. And today, its appears that we're back to rain--oh wait, no, now it's back to hot & humid... Needless to say, the weeds in my yard love this. Speaking of the rain, here's a funny joke that was passed on to me:

A curious fellow died one day and found himself waiting in the long line of judgment. As he stood there he noticed that some souls were allowed to march right through the pearly gates into Heaven. Others though, were led over to Satan who threw them into the burning pit. But every so often, instead of hurling a poor soul into the fire, Satan would toss a soul off to one side into a small pile. After watching Satan do this several times, the fellow's curiosity got the best of him. So he strolled over and asked Satan what he was doing. "Excuse me, Mr. Prince of Darkness," he said. "I'm waiting in line for judgment, but I couldn't help wondering, why are you tossing those people aside instead of flinging them into the Fires of Hell with the others?" "Ah, those," Satan said with a groan. "They're all from New England.... They're still too wet to burn."

The weather has afforded me an opportunity to get caught up on some stuff that I've been meaning to do, and I recently play musical handlebars on my bikes as I took the handlebar off my cyclocross bike (yeah, it's a flat bar) and swapped it with the bar on one of my singlespeeds and I did the same with handlebars on my other singlespeed and my geared 29'er. If that wasn't enough handlebar hi-jinx, I also re-wrapped the tape on my road bike. Add to that the fact that I recently replaced the grips on my freestyle bike (and repaired a broken headset spacer) and it's appropriate to say that the steering has been addressed on (most of) my bikes.

It's important to have good bike control as I've been trying to ride as much as possible. I did a great road ride the other morning (yeah, rolling out at just after 5:00am) and got hammered by my old friend Glen. It's good to have someone local to kick my butt back into shape AND someone who can ride in the wee hours of the morning. The ride was especially cool as I've tended to take the same routes on my road rides and Glen took me on some different roads. It's funny, I've lived here about 10yrs and he's only been here a few months, and he's showing me good road loops.

A couple of days prior to that I got to lead a group through some of the incredible singletrack out at Willowdale State Forest. I hadn't ridden with a group in a while and it was good to see Ron, Todd, Doug, Rob, Renee and the aforementioned Glen. It was the first ride on the SS with the new rigid fork and I loved it. The bike is light, tight, and outta sight! I can't wait to get back out there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's Up?

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted. That means I've been busy! So busy in fact that I forget what's been keeping me so busy!

Well, we know that every other week I'm at work, and that pretty much dominates my life for seven days. I'm sure that everyone thinks that working 7 days in a row, then having 7 days off it great... well, it's "good," but I don't know about great. For those 7 days, I don't have time to really do anything BUT work. I wake up, head in to the hospital, put my nose to the grindstone for 11-13hrs (sometimes more), then come home, have dinner and crash shortly thereafter. Occasionally I'll get out for a ride or run, but usually not, and if I do, it's short. That type of all encompassing work schedule for 7 days translates to me "catching up" during my time off--paying bills, returning phone calls, etc, etc. Yeah, I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. This past week at work was ROUGH as Jean was away so I had extra dog duty. If it wasn't for our exceptional neighbor Chrissy, I wouldn't have been able to do it. THANKS!

The week prior to that was dominated primarily with me making sure that my BLS and ACLS certifications were up to date. I couldn't find any live classes so I did online recertifications (although I still have to make arrangements to meet someone face to face to push on the chest on a rescue manikin). The live classes can be boring but the online classes brought the word tedious to a new level. I *understand* that the classes have to take a certain amount of time to be validated and that I'm earning a certain number of hours of CME (continuing medical education) credits, but my God, the online versions were rough to go through. As an example, I'd be faced with a clinical scenario and asked what I'd want to do next (such as, a 60yr old man in the ER with chest pain and palpitations). My reply might be, "check vital signs," and then I'd be forced to watch a video of a nurse putting on a blood pressure cuff and pumping it up to get the blood pressure... just tell me the vital signs! That might sound petty, but imagine sitting through six hours of this. Enough said, I did my time and that's set until next year. As a side note, the image above appears to be of a guy choking another guy, and I didn't see that in the BLS or ACLS protocol anywhere...

Last week I also purchased some more lumber for the giant planter box project I've been working on as an extension off of my back deck. It's coming along well and I can't wait for it to be done and full of decorative shrubbery.

Of course, not time off would be complete without as much riding as possible. Jean and I hit the trails a few times and I took G-Pap on a trail that was WAY too technical, but it was a good opportunity to take a bike for a walk in the woods while feeding some hungry mosquitos.

Jean and I also went to the new Harry Potter movie--yes on opening day (but no, not at midnight). In the interest of full disclosure, I have never read any of the books, but I've seen the movies with Jean. I don't really know the characters, and I'm opposed to movies with snotty Brittish kids as the protagonists, but the effects are good and it's mindless entertainment. This most recent movie fit the bill and it's funny to see how the movie producers are going to keep these actors (who are probably in the 30's by now) looking like young teens. The guy that plays Harry Potter has the longest neck too. Anyway, as I was watching this movie, I was struck with an epiphany:

Harry Potter = Mr. Frodo

Dumbledore = Gandalf

Okay, maybe not an epiphany in the true sense of the word (defiinition: "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience"), but maybe just an observation, and certainly not an important one.

I guess that's enough of a post for now. I'm going to let me external hard drive heat up while I back up my nearly 10,000 photos (Lightroom 2 is an awesome photo management program) while I go work on bikes for a bit. More ramblings later!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Boston Announces New Program to Combat Bike Theft

As part of an initiative to make Boston a world-class bicycling city, the Stolen Bike Alert program makes reporting stolen bikes easier and increases the chances of finding your stolen bike by giving you a larger network of search parties.

When you report a stolen bike, they send out an alert to the police, local bike shops, hospital and school security, and everyone who follows the city on Twitter or Facebook. All of these people will be on the look-out for your bike and the city will notify the police as they receive updates on your stolen bike.

Please take a few minutes to register your bike online right now.
Become a bike vigilante by following the city on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

For more information, contact Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes at:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Week of 6/27/09

Well, these weeks off certainly fly by! This past week was pretty much defined by rain, but I was able to get some stuff done and get a few good rides in.

I started my "off week" by taking the 'cross bike out on an exploration ride into West Peabody on Saturday. Sunday it was time to help a friend with some algebra and then dinner with the in-laws.

What else did I do with a full seven days off? I finished moving some rooms around in our house. Our old TV room is now Jean's "project" room and our TV/sofa/entertainment center is now in the attic/loft which actually works out very well. I think that's what did most of Monday, and then Jean and I took an hour long cruise on the bikes just looking at houses and neighborhoods in Salem.

I also disassembled and boxed up a bike that I have been testing for Dirt Rag. Did I like the bike? Read the magazine to find out... writing that bike test was also something I did this week, in addition to writing something for Cyclocross magazine.

The dogs got plenty of exercise--and a couple of baths as they were muddy and stinky. That of course translated into me having a muddy and stinky car.

I also spent some time deconstructing my backyard deck to evict a skunk (see post below) which was a good way for me to stick around the house while I was waiting for FedEx to arrive with my repaired/cleaned camera. My beloved Canon G10 was making noises, so instead of waiting for it to really break, I sent it in for evaluation. Canon replaced "the optical unit" and cleaned it. I was so lost without my camera! Fortunately, I was able to borrow one, but it just wasn't the same. My camera and I are reunited!

On Thursday, I hit the road early (and, in the rain, of course) and headed to VT for a meeting and some riding. I met with a guy who will probably carve a small parking area on our East Burke property for me. Then I hit the the trails to see how well Kingdom Trails was holding up with the rain. Sloppy is the best way to describe the ride (see pics). I did about 2hrs and my pace was so off because of the mud/SLICK roots and overall slop, that I headed back to the car after only 13 miles. I felt bad about riding on those conditions as I don't want to contribute to any deterioration of the trails. I was able to see some friends up there though, so all in all, it was a good trip. I hit traffic on the way home, but was still back at a decent time. As I've said before, a bad day on the trails is better than a good day at work (unless you were Dr. William Masters).

Friday I actually slept in a bit and then Jean and I headed out for a 30 mile road ride ending with lunch in Danvers. It was SO nice to be out on the bikes and to have it be dry with blue skies above.

All in all, a good week. Back to work tomorrow!

Eviction Notice

As I mentioned a few days ago, a skunk has taken up residence in our back yard, under our rear deck, and Luna and Gary take great umbrage to this. Someone had to go, and I decided it was the skunk. I already had plans that would cover over his little hidey-hole once and for all, but being the gentle hearted man that I am, I didn't want to cover it over with him inside. I had considered a trapping service, but the $500 fee was a bit of a put off, so I decided to slowly open the planks on the deck in an effort to scare the little bugger out, at which point I would seal every back up and send his forwarding address to the post office.

The weather cooperated by giving me a gentle drizzle to work with. One by one, I backed out the screws from the decking (in retrospect, I'm SO glad I used screws instead of nails). After opening up enough sections, I'd shine a light down inside and VERY carefully poke my head in.. ready to retreat at any sign of activity. Of course, there were what seemed to be hundreds of squirrels frolicking in the yard, and THEIR activity (little claws scampering on the fence), made me a little tense as the sound made me think that skunks were on the prowl. In the end, I didn't find any evidence of current critter occupation (it could have slipped out the back when I wasn't watching), so I put the planks back down, and moved some wood scraps and pieces of cement in the only area where the skunk could dig in.

That's done, now if I could just get some dry days, I could finish the planter box and move on to another project!