Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stiff as a board, light as a tank

Isn't that the name of the old game we played as kids? If not, it's close enough for me. That's pretty much how I felt during my first yoga class in years and years last night. I have roughly the flexibility of a geriatric patient that's been strapped to a back board. We did some poses and moves last night that roughly resembled me trying to stick my head up my own ass. I had about the same success level in either case.

On the plus side, I drug Miranda along with me and we're designating Tuesday as our gym night together and planning on keeping up with the yoga as well. It's actually offered 2 nights a week, but for the time being, we've all ready got plans for the other night with Corley starting in on tumbling class. Actually, I rather enjoyed the stretching and most of the moves. Due to my bad knees and lack of range of motion, there were definitely some painful spots, but nothing too bad. I got about the same feeling when done as a deep tissue massage- slightly beat up, but all worked out. Now we just have to see how it helps out with my core and flexibility.

Score one for me on making good on my self promise to work harder on staying in shape this winter. I've been on the bike twice this week and in the gym three times all ready. I'm actually a bit sad I won't make it out on the bike tonight for my standing Wednesday night ride. I do plan to hit the Nth degree ride that DMCC is putting on for New Years Day. See Lou's post for more details on the when and where.

Saturday I'm planning on doing the first of three bike fits (redo the road bike, MTB, and cross bike) with Adam at Rassy's. The plan (in my head) is to do something of a two pronged approach to the fitting. Adam seems pretty eager to get more information and more experience and I'm looking for some baselines in various areas. My thought is to go do a heart rate and wattage test using their computrainer before the fitting. Then we'll proceed with the fitting since I won't need any real power to do my pedalling there, it's mostly a form issue. Then, when we get to the next fitting, I'll bring my road bike in again and redo the power test. Hopefully we'll be able to analyze and see some true gains from the fitting. Since I'm scheduling the fits only a week apart, I don't think my training will really affect the overall numbers as long as I take a rest day before the fit/test.

Overall, I'm pretty excited in regards to some personal life plans I've got for this year. Work still isn't making me all tingly, but then again, that's why it's called work. I wish all of you (still reading at this point) a Happy New Year and I'll see you on the flip side.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Recap

First off, I hope you all had a great Christmas and got to enjoy the time with family, friends, or however you wanted. I'd say we had a pretty fulfilling year for our family.

Things really started rolling Wednesday around noon. I boogied out of the office early and headed home to put the ham in the oven and grab a few supplies before taking off for the shop's low key party. There was a ton of food, good beer, and good friends. I sharpened my pool game up just a little against Squirrel and Conlan. We shot the breeze and had a great time. All too soon, I had to get headed out though as we had family coming over for Christmas Eve celebrating.

I jumped in and helped Miranda and my brother finish cleaning things up and then started setting up the table. While the basement isn't the greatest place in the world for a dining room and family room, our remodel efforts from last year make it pretty inviting when it's all set up.

Even Corley was dressed to the nines for the occasion.

With both our families gathered round, we enjoyed a great meal and then swamped Corley with presents. Fortunately, both our families listened pretty well this year and didn't buy a ton of stuff and mostly bought things that she could use or were learning toys of some sort. We try hard to keep the Grandparents in check when it comes to buying superfluous crap (toys) that serve no purpose and are forgotten almost immediately. They did a pretty fine job this year. Corley was definitely into opening presents more this year and is beginning to be more aware that its a festive celebration. We wrapped things up relatively early, but Corley didn't go down until well after 9 due to being so hyped up, but she did put out cookies and milk for Santa.

After she bedded down, I had a couple presents left to wrap and engaged in the age old dad's pastime of assembling things on Christmas Eve. At least this year it was just a simple bookshelf and done in half an hour. Last year it was a full on play kitchen that took a couple hours (I know how you feel Squirrel). After that it was on to bed after scarfing down the cookies and milk of course!

Christmas morning was pretty low key. Corley slept in until after 9 and we followed suit. Soon enough I'm sure we'll be doing the buttcrack of dawn deal. We had some breakfast and then it was time for more presents. Obviously Corley scored the most as we have tried to get away from buying much for each other. Miranda hand made a ton of things for Corley this year; everything from felt play food (a hole picnic setup) to a full on chef's outfit with hat, apron, and gloves. Corley absolutely loved them and wanted to go play as soon as they were opened even though she had more left. She also got a fairy dress for her pretend play that was pretty darn cute.

I scored pretty well with the things I received. Miranda got me an IPOD Nano which will help on my trainer rides, a gift certificate for a full day of climbing and gear rental at Climb Iowa (big surprise on that one), and a few small things. My bike lights I bought earlier were also a chunk of my gifts as well. Miranda got a new sewing machine to replace her death rattling old one, the first 2 seasons of Heroes, and some other odds and ends. All in all a good haul for everyone! We snapped a great picture to celebrate before settling down to relax away the rest of the day.

Friday Corley and I headed over to do some sledding at her aunt's house in the morning and played with some cousins.

Conlan, Gov'ner and I got out in the late afternoon for a slush filled ride as the day turned into a soupy mess on the trails. At least they were rideable! We finished off with some hills and site seeing back south of Grand until John blew out a tire. None of us had patches or a spare tube so I headed off to grab my truck while they started hoofing it towards his place. Not the greatest end, but still a nice ride for almost 2 hours. Saturday and Sunday were pretty much lazy days though I did manage to get some more bike time in on the trainer. Now its back to work for a few days and then off for a day before finishing out the week. Fun fun!

Black death

Or maybe not... I used to view ice as a waiting death trap. After quickly finding out how easily a bicycle loses traction and crashes on ice last year, I gained a healthy, if not a bit fearful respect for the black death. Low tire pressures, puckered cheeks, and smooth steady pedal strokes were the remedies of choice for me. I still managed to wipe out more times than I care to remember last winter.

Last night I just had to answer the call to get back outside. In a feat of hopelessness, I first tried to check out Denman's. The levee trail was a mess of frozen icy tracks that were basically unridable so I peered over the edge to the entrance line close to the creek. Hmm, I saw a solitary track through the snow that looked like it might be rideable. I plunged over the edge and immediately began a slide for life down the frozen crust of the levee hillside while still partially clipped in to my bike. If it weren't for blind luck and my bike staying something upright and slowed down by breaking through the crust at random points, I'd have ended the ride quicker and much wetter after crawling out of the creek. I quickly deduced that the track I was seeing had been ridden in above freezing temps and now was again unusable. Back to the drawing board.

I figured if nothing else, the black label might be interested to check out and see how bad it truly was. After our heatwave on Friday and plowing 2" of slush for most of the way, I figured they'd be frozen over and as ugly as the levee trail. Thankfully I was pretty much wrong. I opted to head up into the Windsor Heights trail system and ended up north of Douglas before turning back as I was headed further into unfamiliar neighborhood trails at night and didn't want to force having to ride roads to get back home. The trails were an eclectic mix of perfectly dry trail sprinkled with slush, glare ice, packed ice, and snow sprinkled ice. Notice a theme here? Actually, the ice was only truly bad in a few spots where it covered the trail for extended sections.

I turned back and opted to get a few more miles in by heading out on the Clive Greenbelt. Courtney and I were the only two bike tracks on the trail. Once I got about a mile in, I knew why. There was an extended section of the slush that had indeed frozen into a sheet of glare ice with ridges. This sent me just squirrely enough on the bike that I decided I'd pressed my luck enough for one evening and turned back. All in all an hour and fifteen on the bike with around 15 miles on the meter. Not the greatest, but I'll take what I can get for being outside in this weather. What we need is a nice 2-3" slightly tacky snow that can be packed down over this ice and for the weather to stay cold. I think that would give us back some of the trails for sure.

So how did I do on the ice you ask? The new studded tires are the cat's meow and then some. While I still treated some of the extended ice spots with reverence, I blew through most of it with nary a thought other than whee, I'm riding like its dry pavement over stuff that could potentially slam me to the ground and splatter my brains out like a week old stew. Actually, it was pretty fun and a great feeling to be back to only respecting the ice in lieu of fearing it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hitting the mark

Well, it's not exactly the mark I'd hoped for when I began this season, but I'll take what I can get. I cleared 3,000 miles on my log last night. Granted, I was on the trainer at the time, but as I said, whatever I can get. In reality, I was shooting for something closer to 4,000 miles this year considering I was over 3,000 in 2007 with only 8 months of riding on the books. 4 full months to hit another 800 miles should have been pretty easy, but alas, it wasn't to be.

I really didn't get any long mileage in on a regular basis and that really hurt. I think my average ride this year is probably around 20 miles where last year it was well over 30. I'm sure riding my mountain bike a lot more definitely put the average miles in a major state of decline as it's tougher to get 30 miles on a mountain bike doing singletrack than it is to head out for some nice paved road riding. Makes me wonder what 2009 will bring in terms of mileage. I'm thinking I'll focus even further on mountain biking so it's going to take some pretty serious efforts to maintain that many miles.

On the plus side, my focus is starting to get my motivation going as well. I turned in about 5 total hours on the bike last week and started things off with another 1.25 on the trainer last night. I also made it to the gym for the first time this morning. I won't lie. It was damn ugly in regards to the lack of strength I've got. I was doing some 1 legged pedalling exercises last night and really got a first hand glimpse at how weak my core is. Time to work on that. I really want to check out some yoga, so I'll have to see if I can make it to some classes at the gym. It appears they're mostly later in the evenings so that should work out decently for me.

I'll get to the holidays in another post.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not a good way to start Christmas Eve

An open head wound is not the best way to start of any morning, let alone Christmas Eve. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, just ask. I was getting ready to head out the door this morning and thought I'd be nice enough to fill our kittie's food bowls so they don't pounce on my wife and devour her while she sleeps (hey you never know). As I stood up to fill the water bowl, bam! I bounced my head off the corner of the open kitchen cabinet. Fuckin oww, I slammed my fist against the open door causing various glasses to come flying off the shelf and the aforementioned wife to come flying out of her bed.

At this point I wasn't sure how wounded I was other than my head hurt like a mofo. A quick press of the fingers to the head confirmed I had at the very least drawn blood and now it was attempting to run south for the winter. Luckily it was a mere flesh wound and some light pressure stemmed the flow pretty quickly. Now I'm just nursing a weepy wound and a bit of a headache. Merry F'in Christmas!

Oh ya, I'm not the one who left the cabinet open either... As long as I'm going to jump on this train, since I was kind enough to not say a word about it to my darling wife this morning, I might as well go whole hog. I'm just about fed up to my boiling point with one of her ingrained behaviors. Her current line of thinking is that she needs to get more organized around the house. At first glance, I thought this was the case as well. She has stuff here, there, and everywhere. Now I've come to realize it's not a case of being organized at all. It's a case of being a bit of a slob. Normally I'd be sure our 2 year old is most responsible for making a mess of our house, but I'd be wrong. We make her pick up her toys at night before she goes to bed. My wife could use a serious lesson in being treated like a 2 year old. Holy hell, how much stuff can you spread out throughout the day only to not pick it up?! Shit piles on top of shit and before long it's running over onto any surrounding flat surface that wasn't previously occupied by another pile of stuff that hasn't been picked up. I just cleaned the entire kitchen Sunday afternoon. I pleaded with her to keep it clean. By the time I got home Monday night there were 2-3 piles of junk all ready on the table. I implored her to pick it back up. Last night there were even more piles and dishes were piling back up again. Fuck it, it's her mess and we've got company coming tonight. I'll let her figure out how to get it all cleaned back up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Red box review

Hopping back to Saturday night we found ourselves kid free thanks to grandma. We hit one of our perennial favorite restaurants, Mezzodi's. You can barely go wrong with anything on the menu and that meal was no exception. We split a steak de burgo along with an appetizer and desert to try and cut out a few calories. Of course, topping off with 2 Fat tire's probably didn't help me out any at all, but dammit it was worth it. After dinner we were slated for a night of sweaty adult goodness, but our indulgence seemed to have wained our lust for a bit. Instead we opted to try out the miracle of the Red Box.

Being the late adopters we our, we don't have a netflix account and hadn't even given Red Box a shot yet. The gentleman I am let my lovely wife pick out the movie. Of course this also meant that she was the one shivering in below zero weather while I was snug and warm in our car... Our first choice was out so we ended up watching something that I don't even remember now. How's that, the experience of renting a movie for a buck outlasted the memory of what we even watched. The movie was decent, but obviously immediately forgettable. On the other hand renting a movie for a 1/4 of what Blockbuster charges- priceless. I'm sure it's just as much of a pain in the ass if you're looking for new releases as renting from the other places, but if you're in the mood for something that has been out for a bit, you're probably in decent luck. I'm sure we'll be hitting more of the Red Box the next time the move bug strikes.

Oh, and for those keeping score, the amore was back in full swing by the time we hit the door and movie watching was put off until after we were sweaty and exhausted ;)


I had every intention of getting up and working out yesterday morning. I made it as far as my alarm clock before hitting the snooze button and crawling my lazy butt right back where I started. I think I need a workout partner or some other reason beyond my own ambition to crawl out of bed at the buttcrack of dawn (5 AM) and slog through the cold the 1/2 mile to the gym. Any of you southsiders a member of Aspen and want to join in suffering a couple times a week early in the morning?

On Sunday Lou recommended I check out Training Peaks and pick out a pre-made plan to jump start my training this winter. I looked through them and figured out that if I'm about to drop $80-100 on a training plan I better be willing to go through with it. Most of them require anywhere from 10-15 hours per week of dedicated time as well. Add in a meal plan to some of them and it's a recipe for success or in my case for looking at and thinking that's a lot of work... Hence the reason I am lazy!

Actually, I think I'm revelling in the hangover from the long hours and efforts spent making it through my work schedule for the past 6 months. Throw in that I'm typically unmotivated to do much more than eat, drink, and be melancholy through most of the holiday season and it's a recipe for getting jack done whether it be at work or home. I am happy to report that I was able to get most of my presents wrapped last night though I still have a couple that haven't shown up yet (grr). UPS reported them out for delivery yesterday at 5 AM, but as of 11 last night, they hadn't shown up yet, so I'm assuming they will come today. At least it's nothing major, but still.

We have our holiday lunch slash bonus check party at work today. I'm really hoping for something quite spectacular in the envelope. I really can't complain about anything I've gotten the past few years, but for some reason I've got it in my head that I worked harder and produced better results than in previous years even though I'm not entirely sure that's reality. I know I pushed a little harder to get a bit more in my bonus so today should show what they value will be. Then on the flip side of the coin, I was talking to Miranda the other day and realized, I'm pretty damn lucky to be where I am. Add in the current economic crunch and I should probably be thanking anyone I can that I'm not only employed, but getting anything above and beyond what I'm contractually due. Either way, I'm thankful so I hope it really doesn't come across as being greedy. I just think that the future is so uncertain that I need to do everything in my power to lobby for myself and my family to be in a position that we can ride out an eventual wave of less than stellar economics.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crunchy, drippy, and chewy

Sounds like a sure fire recipe to head to the urologist, doesn't it? Hey doc, I've got this thing, it's crunchy, drippy, and (according to my SO) just a bit chewy... OK, now that I've ruined your mental imagery for the day, how about a true description for each.

Crunchy describes the ride on Saturday. I stopped to pick up my new studs Friday night at the shop. Mine is on the bottom in this photo.

Innova steel studded 26er tires in the center flanked by my Nokians.

At $110/ea suggested retail these things should not only mount themselves (or at least come with their own lube), but pedal the bike, and have the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Alas, they did none of the above. Saturday's ride was not good. I could get plenty of traction, but that really didn't do much for me when I'd break through the top crunchy layer and almost come to a complete stop roughly every 15 feet. The trail to Denman's entrance wasn't ridable so I walked back thinking the singletrack might be in better shape due to runners beating a path down, not to be. I turned back less than 100 yards in and decided to go for black label. Kudos to the City of WDM for plowing their bike paths at the same time as or before their roads. That kicks ass! Clive Greenbelt on the other hand sucked. It had the same crunchy layer, but with the hardpack underneath it was at least semi-passable. I got a mile or two down the trail before a long stretch of breaking through the crust had me turning back. I logged less than 10 miles and all in all about 45 minutes trying to work it out. Not a good day for riding.

Drippy was the name of the game for Sunday AM. With subzero highs for the day and the afore mentioned crappy trail conditions, it was time to break out the trainers for a group sweat at Lou's house of cycling. Lou, Pete, Steve, and myself indulged in some early coffee and then headed over to the garage for a couple hours of suffering and sweating with friends. Actually, not much suffering was done, just a good sweaty drip. I finally got to try out my new trainer and was pretty happy with the performance for the cost ($75 used). Much better and more tolerable than the rollers I tried last year. After logging close to 2 hours, it was time to head back home and work around the house for most of the morning.

Sunday afternoon plans for a fun day with friends fell through as Squirrel was hacking phlegm in about every direction so opted out of bringing the germs to the party(thanks, but you guys were missed), Kent apparently thought being their for his wife to go into labor was more important (you're probably right...), and Hansers were inundated by family coming to town. That left just Corley and I to break in a new tradition of making Santa Cookies. We definitely made the most of it though and had a great time just dad and daughter.

We iced, sprinkled, and even sampled a couple. Great activity. After that it was hanging out for the rest of the day and catching a few ball games on the tube. Definitely a good way to kill off the weekend.

The cops are coming for me

Had a weird occurrence this morning at work that necessitated calling the police. A guy stopped in roughly 7:15 to work and said his car broke down on our street. Not a big deal, but then he asked to use our restroom as well as the phone. Again, not a big deal. Really, nothing other than the guy being a bit nervous about everything really stood out until about a half hour after he left.

I stopped in to the restroom and noticed someone (assuming he did it) attempted to flush a handful of paper towels down the toilet. Not wishing to repeat my stint as janitor I donned a rubber glove and fished them out tossed them in the trash. There I noted something odd in the trash can. Someone had tossed a red negligee and empty (mood altering) medication bottle in the trash. Add in that the sopping mess of paper towels appeared to have some sort of red stain on them, the general attitude of the guy, and the fact that his story switched around several times before he just vanished, and we decided it was best to call the cops after talking to a couple co-workers about the weirdness.

so now the cops are coming for me, yippee!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My shit stinks

What a title. How about this for a rant. My shit stinks. Your shit stinks. Hell, all of us from the biggest greasiest trucker to the most dainty of women and babies can fill the air with paint peeling stench from time to time. It's nature. Apparently, a number of people are offended by the smell of nature. If they weren't we wouldn't have a billion different scented sprays, cover ups, and various other air fresheners.

But please, I implore you, don't fucking plug in some damned airwick coat the room in damned perfume room "deodorizer" because you had to expel the remnants of last nights cheap beer, bean, and taco laden fest. Now we not only have to deal with the smell of fresh feces, but it's coated in a sickly sweet oil that covers you as you emerge from the 4 x 8 closet they call a bathroom here at work. I'm not opposed to a quick shot of febreeze or some of the other less noxious fumigation techniques, but damn that other stuff makes the baby Jesus cry!

So take this as my public service announcement for the day. If you take a dump, it's going to stink. We all do it and know it stinks. There's no need for you to try to sugar coat it and in turn make the rest of us retch becuase of the even worse foul smell you've unleashed. Drop the bomb, wipe, flush, and leave the fan on. Thankyouverymuch.

Ice Ice Baby

No pictures from last night considering all my attention was focused on staying upright. Cam's warning that Denman's was a sheet of ice under the snow was certainly true. It's not quite as bad yet as some of the crap we hit last year, but with today's forecast for ice and sleet, I'm sure it will get that way quick. The nice snow pack looked really inviting as I turned in to start the trail, but pretty quickly it was apparent that careful pedal strokes and a puckered ass were going to be required to keep things on the up and up.

I passed on pretty much all the logs, but did manage to make it up all the little ups that it looked like a few other people had spun out on. I did leave my impression in one snow bank as I hit a bit of off camber and both wheels took off in a separate direction from where I wanted to go. I think I could have just about ridden without a seat last night and set on the post I was so tensed up. Right about halfway through I ran into Conlon coming the other way and we made a collective decision to get out on the black label. We didn't even bother riding back out and just hiked straight over to the levee trail.

Funny, the black label was in way better shape than the offroad stuff. We road through WDM and out into Clive Greenbelt before turning back. Who else should we see crazy enough to be out, but Cam. Stopped and talked for a few minutes with him and then headed back to the truck. Just over an hour of riding in, but at least I'm still out there. I'm hoping the studded tires show up before the weekend and I can get out and test them.

I quickly succumbed to the debate on studded tires yesterday after remembering the number of times I went down and how I was pretty lucky to not have seriously damaged myself in the process. Figuring the cost of regular tires, studs aren't that much more and I'll probably get at least 2-3 seasons out of the higher end set that I went with. Pretty cheap in comparison to breaking or spraining pretty much anything. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheap stuff for sale!

We all like stuff. Cheap stuff even better. Chances are if you're following this blog you like bike stuff too so here is my attempt to divest myself of various items I've collected in a short period of time and have either replaced with newer stuff or decided I really didn't need.

Buckshots for sale blog

I'll keep adding stuff on a regular basis as I've got a bunch that I'd like to get rid of and would rather it go locally.

To stud or not to stud

That is the question. As I shot out my ride reminder this morning and looked forward to some fun times on snow covered goodness that we know as Denman's, I was bitch slapped by a cold hard fact (thanks Cam). Our 2" of new powdery goodness belies the fact that there is icy hard death waiting underneath it. OK, so maybe death is a bit dramatic, but after falling numerous times, you might wish you were dead.

So, with the rest of the season looking to get no better (just see tomorrow's forecast if you don't believe me) in regards to ice covered trails, it's time to seriously evaluate going studded. Doing a quick search it looks like the best option for riding singletrack is going to be the Nokian Gazza Extreme 294. How could you possibly go wrong with a name like that? Hell, it sounds like you should be able to ride up the side of a glacier (or at the very least Hillside) with nary a care in the world and a hooker draped across your lap. What, a hooker, you say? Hey, we can all have dreams, right?!

So, are studs overkill and should I just suck it up or will the last season of ice and what appears to be another coming this year make studs the choice of even the manliest of men (Squirrel not included cuz that guy's got mad ninja bike balance skillz yo)? Just for a quick recap, I had a number of mishaps last year due to ice. Thankfully no broken bones, but damn did I fall a lot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm not a computer guy

Not that I'm complaining mind you, but sometimes it might be helpful in this computer driven world. Actually, I'm not afraid to dig in and give things a try, but often that leads to things like your hard drive being reformatted and all the spectacular issues that go right along with it.

That being said, our laptop mysteriously seized up a month back. I tried rebooting a few times and kept getting kicked right back out of windows for some unknown error. Finally, it stopped long enough that I could read the error message and google it using our home computer. Well, I figured out what needed to be done and proceeded to start messing with various systems on the laptop. I'm sure you can see what's coming. Yup, the damn thing said fuckit and went into and endless loop of rebooting itself and going nowhere.

Fast forward to last night and I was determined that either I was going to get it fixed or have to break down and pay someone to get it up and running again. I managed to get into the recovery console, ran check disk which fixed some problem (don't ask me what), and bam I was back to a point where the machine would at least boot up. Now I was back to the original problem. I rebooted and somehow the damn thing worked itself out. Fuck if I know what I did or didn't do, but now it was running. So I bust out virus scans and spyware scans and get medieval on it's ass. A few hours later and the thing is humming along normally (for now).

I have no clue what I did. I know I fixed it somehow or at least allowed it to fix itself, but damn, I wish it was a little more than dumb luck. Oh well, tis the season of Christmas miracles and I'll chalk this one up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gifting etiquette?

In the past week I've had a couple odd experiences with gift giving. First off I broke a cardinal rule and bought my wife a household appliance for Christmas. Actually, I'm not even sure you can consider these appliances anymore as I can't think of too many things around our house that have actually been subjected to it's purpose. I bought her a sewing machine. Yup, I still have my balls fully attached too, thankyouverymuch. Actually, it was a good purchase considering how much she's gotten into sewing and crafting over the past year or two and her old machine was a hand-me-down from her aunt that left her in fits more often than not.

The etiquette part comes in how I gave it to her. I had it delivered to my work so I could surprise her with it. Well, after a few more late night rants against her old machine, I could tell she really could use it sooner rather than later. So, I brought it home while she was out late one night and left it with a bow on it setting on her sewing table. She is/was very appreciative, but said that she'd have rather me given it to her in person rather than leaving it for her to find. Hmm, maybe I missed out on a BJ of gratitude or something?! Ahh well, I figure it was best to give it to her when I could since it would be several days before I could have wrapped it up and personally gifted it. Did I commit a present faux-pas by just leaving it for her?

The second etiquette question I had came over the weekend. The boys at Rassy's have treated me well this year and I want to show a bit of appreciation (not mention replenish some stock) so I bought a case of 12 oz happiness and dropped it off in the shop fridge with a bow on it. That was a pretty simple decision. Now comes the question. While buying said case o beverage, I was/still am contemplating buying a couple 6ers for some certain friends. I know times are a bit tough right now for a number of people though so while I know the brews would always be appreciated, I worry about people feeling they need to give a reciprocal gift. So there's the conundrum, do you give a gift and hope the person doesn't feel the need to reciprocate or do you just avoid gifting all together?

We have a similar issue with our parents. A couple years back, Miranda and I decided it was getting a bit silly to try to get gifts for all of our family members and friends. So, we told all family that gifts were to be limited to just the kids and we wouldn't be exchanging with them unless they wanted to do a dinner or some other event to just enjoy the season together. Well, that worked fine for us, but we still receive gifts from our parents and while we greatly appreciate the gifts and thoughtfulness, we realize that it has to put them out financially to give the gifts they do. Kind of puts a damper on the spirit, but should it?

So there you go. What is the gifting etiquette? Should you just say screw it and buy/receive gifts without looking at anything beyond face value of the joy of giving or should you give it some introspection and possibly alter your gift giving habits?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shameless self promotion

It's that time of the season. Time for shamelessly plugging our website in case you need some special gift for the naughty people on your list. The Possibilities Room is the place to go. As a bonus for reading my mind numbing site, type the word "blog" into the coupon code area and you'll score 15% off the order.

So, there you go. Be good by being naughty!

A couple milestones

At least milestones (most) are better than other types of stones. Of course there was that saying about those who live in glass houses shouldn't pass kidney stones or something like that, but anyway that's neither here nor there. I actually passed a couple cool milestones.

First off I hit over 150 posts on this blog. Damn. Of course most of it is just the usual drivel, but occasionally I seem to come up with something good. So I suggest going back and checking all 150+ posts just to see if you've missed any nuggets... Why the hell do I hear crickets all of a sudden?!

The second milestone was actually cooler than the first. What, you say how can I possibly top that? Well kiddies, gather round and let me tell you a tale. There once was a man from Nantucket, oh shit, can't do that one. Actually, I'll just skip to the good stuff. Since I'm an anally retentive type of guy and a number crunching fool to boot, I just have to keep track of all the various stats of my rides. Funny enough, I actually have been that less and less as I get further into riding just to ride. Sure, the stats are always interesting to gaze at every now and then when there's no paint to watch dry... Thanks in no small part to making an attempt on the coveted Cup O' Dirt and laps upon laps of Hillside, I cleared 100,000 feet of climbing this year.

So, does that translate into the ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound, do I have quads the size of tree trunks, can I squat a dump truck? Hell no. I climb like a fucking turtle. Apparently this turtle just likes to climb. I actually did think it was pretty cool to see that I'd ridden the equivalent to almost 20 miles straight up though. I know it damn sure felt like it when I was huffing it through the beginner course at Boone, struggling to keep moving on the 4th lap of the Dirty Du, or pedalling into a headwind on the last gravel hundy attempt. I think one of my goals for next year is to see if I can break my climbing from this year.

So that brings me to a question. Do any of you set silly goals at the end of the year? Anything concrete specific or just things like get my ass on the bike more this year? I hope the upcoming year for me holds a few things:
1) Develop more mad skillz yo on the mountain bike. Now that I've got a bike worth developing some skillz on I should probably think about nutting up and becoming much less of a hack. If I don't I'll probably end up sawing through multiple logovers with my big ring while riding Denman's...
2) Climb more/climb like a goat. OK, so maybe the second part is overstating a bit, but I'd just like to climb better and faster than I do now. A little concentrated work and I think it'll happen. I know I can't really go much slower, so I've always got that to fall back on!
3) Ride more than I did this year. That shouldn't be too hard unless work really screws me over again. I started off strong the first part of last year, but the last 6 months held little to no mileage and didn't do much for me in the way of keeping my bike fitness up.
4) Race more. I'm eyeballing the IMBCS series pretty heavily as something I want to focus on doing next year. It should be a good time riding, scraping my face against trails, and keeping bears from eating me (I may be exaggerating a bit on the last point).

That's it in a nutshell from this nutcase.

Gettin' worked

Ahh, so much to do, so little time. I just figured out that I'm getting worked over in multiple ways. At least one of them is by my own doing, so I guess it's not all bad. I hit the trails Wednesday night for some snowy fun. Almost 20 miles in a couple hours was more than enough for this guy. At least I had some good company with Conlon, Govner, Jed, and Cam at various points. I did get to lay the only set of tracks through Rhythm which was pretty cool. Going down trying to cross an icy log in Squirrel's next- not so cool. Nothing hurt though, so I kept on trucking. Everything went pretty well until I rode the levee back to the shop. Damn, that was the final nail in the coffin as it was work pushing through even though there were a couple tracks all ready there.

Now for the really big worked over part. Work is going to suck for the next few months again. I was just breathing easy after my casino was done (they even opened up yesterday). My boss waffled a bit in handing out the next casino between myself and another co-worker. Well, she ended up being too busy so I got it handed to me roughly 2-3 weeks later that I should have. We're still putting together our shop drawings, but I all ready had to go to site to take measurements so we can start building things. What does this all mean?! Yup, I'm back to evenings and weekends at work for the foreseeable future. Color me less than excited.

Now for the question on whether or not I'll get worked over at the company Christmas party tonight. Typically our bonuses are handed out a day or two before Christmas, but with this being the official party, I'm wondering if they'll be handed out tonight. I'm guessing not, but it would be cool if they did. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How hard..

Is it to make something that actually lasts if you use it for it's intended purpose? With the bit of snow we've gotten, I broke out the trusty shovel to hopefully avoid any lawsuits or attempts to break my own neck by shoveling off the deck leading to our back door. First thing I noted was the metal edge of the shovel was worn down to nothing. Really, that wouldn't be so bad, except that it's only worn out in the dead center of the shovel. The rest pretty much looks like new?! Add in that I purposely spent the money when I bought it to get a better shovel that included a heavy duty handle, etc, etc, and I was a bit pissed.

Why does every fucking thing in our society have to be disposable? Wow, I feel like I'm an old man bitching about things being different back in my day. But seriously, everything has planned obsolescence built into it anymore. Take my shovel. A bit heavy gauge steel and a little more quality control (in not making it wear out in one spot first) and I bet it would surely lasted 8-10 years or better. Nope, a couple years in and now I'm scouring stores for a suitable replacement. Sure I could go with an aluminum grain scoop, but it's not the shovel type I'm looking for. However, everything else is as cheap or more cheaply built as the current POS I've all ready got.

So, what am I planning to do about it? Well, as soon as I get a minute or two, I'll be breaking out the tools and replacing the cutting edge with something a bit more "hefty". Sure it won't look all nice and pretty like something I got from the store, but you can bet your ass it'll last a helluva lot longer. There's just a huge disconnect in our society that takes things being disposable as the only way to do business. I can only do so much personally and there's much more I could do, but dammit I'm lazy and like to bitch so I'll just take the cream off the top. However, there's way too many people that don't even do the easy things.

/Rant off

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fresh powder!

With snow in the forecast for yesterday, plans to ride were definitely in the air as well. I hooked up with Squirrel, Conlon, and Govner for some working out in the deep powder. I'd forgotten how much effort it takes to stay upright and moving forward in unbroken trail. Actually, I was riding 3rd wheel so I only plowed a small portion of trail compared to Squirrel and Conlon. Rollercoaster was a ball with the fresh stuff although I took it way slower than usual and had to walk the switchback. After that, we blasted off towards Denman's and hit the really deep stuff. The connector was 8-12" deep in spots and definitely the hardest work.

As we rolled up to Denman's we were accosted by Fuller and Kent who were obliged to take a partial lap through on the way home from work. Considering the snow had stopped falling less than 4 hours earlier and we were in the process of laying 6 tracks in the snow, I consider that pretty awesome for the heartiness of our local guys. All good things must end though and the rest of the boys rolled off about halfway through Denman's saying they'd had enough trail breaking. Squirrel did manage to take one shot of my copious amount of light before heading out though.

Looking ahead no tracks

Looking back at laying on a single set after the boys took off

After they rolled out, I kept on rolling and as I was stopping for pictures I saw another set of lights coming. Cam was out enjoying the snow as well. He rolled by and I jumped on his wheel while we rode the rest of the trail. That's probably the only time I'll ever be able to keep pace with him as we were just put putting along, but it was still a blast. We rode to the end of the levee on Dirty Express where he turned back for a reverse loop and I headed back to the truck. Almost 2 hours of playing in the snow. Definitely a recipe for good times!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Take a guess

Here are two movies I've seen in the last week:
This one


This one

We paid to see both movies. Guess which one I thought was more worth the money?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A list

Sometimes you find the most interesting things digging through your pockets. Take this innocuous looking list from Saturday morning. Nothing like a little grocery shopping and then running by to grab some lingerie as well! You guys ever come up with any strange lists? You know, something like motor oil, condoms, and a toothbrush? Feel free to post up some of your oddball lists.

As I made my 2nd run to the store last night for the final ingredient of our dinner (you think my wife would have verified she had everything before sending me the first time) I was contemplating something that was now missing from the store. It makes me feel old to start saying things like, "I remember when we used to have this or that." Shit, I guess I am getting old. So, crank up your reading glass prescription and keep reading. I remembered we used to have drive through service for our bags. The cashier would write the number of your cart on the back of the receipt and you'd head off to drive through the pick up line where some other minimum wage kid would begrudgingly load the bags into your car as you prayed they didn't decide to set gallons of milk on top of the bread or eggs. Now, unless your looking particularly decrepit, they anticipate you to haul that shit out yourself. I think they'd probably look at me like I had a 3rd eye if I requested it be hauled out to my truck now. Hell, just running through a self checkout is something that would have been completely foreign just a few years ago. I wonder whats next?

Monday, December 01, 2008

How I spent my winter vacation

Actually, I started out my Cranksgiving post as a recap of my week off, but decided that there was enough info there to stand alone. Hopefully you'll be able to digest several shorter posts a little easier than lasts weeks leftover bird.

A week ago Sunday (11/23) for those counting, I met up with the usual crew for breakfast and morning riding through the woods. We had a bonus in the fact that the manager for the Hy-Vee on Grand and Railroad wanted to reward our patronage with free breakfast including the coffee. Talk about an offer you can't refuse and one that was duly appreciated as well. After breakfast we headed off for our typical laps of Denman's, etc. I was pacing with Steve who was out for a hundy and I sure didn't feel like killing it. This time of year is about pacing and enjoying the ride. I was sure in the mood for that! A couple hours down and it was time to head to the farm to help out my parents.

Whilst I dearly love my parents, trying to accomplish any sort of helping them out seems to be a nearly impossible to get done quickly and efficiently. As such, I tend to feel a little guilty about not doing much for them. Today's plan of attack was setting the new kitchen counters I'd had my work build up. True to form, they were indeed a pain to put in due to various circumstances, but I persevered and in the end, they were happy with the finished product which was about all I could ask. Additionally, I figured I should come back down Monday and try to finish off a few other projects before they hosted Thanksgiving dinner in their almost completely renovated house. This turned out to be even more of a cluster copulation and I ended up bagging the day later than I wanted and with less done than I wanted. Ahh well.

Tuesday was me day. The weather was perfect for a morning ride. Just cold enough to freeze the trails until the day started to warm a bit. I rode for a solid 2 hours just feeling everything and taking the loop to task 2 full times before bagging it and heading home for a rewarding shower and then off to meet up for lunch with the family and a friend.

Funny thing about vacations is that I don't remember much if I'm just being lazy. That must have been the plan for Wednesday, nope wait, now I remember. I actually got something knocked off my list of chores. I got the leaves blown and bagged (and looking back) not a moment too soon.

Turkey day was something I was absolutely looking forward to. Funny, it wasn't necessarily seeing family or stuffing myself on good food, but actually spending the morning with 50+ buds riding Squirrels 9th Turkey Day ride.

Plenty of good times hanging out, stopping to watch people try the skinnies, and just general good times. The rest of the day went pretty well too with family, food, and more good cheer. Definitely a day to be thankful all I've got as a part of a pretty darn good life.

Friday morning I was back out early with Squirrel. I was determined to take advantage of every perfect riding day I could during my time off. I'm glad we got out Friday as it was another beautiful day and now things are a bit more "frosty".

We putted through all the haunts and just enjoyed the morning. He headed off and I took one more turn through Denman's, just not ready to head in yet. Squirrel had been busy earlier in the week, making some new skinnies, and reworking some of the older "toys" to make things a bit more beginner friendly. As such, I thought it might be a good time to get started working on some more skills and made sure I got a roll over the tractor tire. Damn that was fun.

We did make one stop to check out the "rock garden" idea off the new connector blacktop. Once J-11 is back in progress, this will be an option to riding the full trail. We scouted some lines and even spent a little time trying to make something ridable. Not quite there yet, but a couple mates and a few tools and we'll have something in no time flat as there is a pretty clean line that just needs some working over to make it ridable.

One more last thing and I'll let all you good people that managed to get this far, back to your lives. The first snow ride of the year was yesterday. Man, it was great. Fresh snow is something to be experienced, not just looked at from inside the confines of our comfy homes or rushed through on our way in from the cold. You've got to get out in it and play just like you were a kid again. Of course now we're playing on thousands of dollars of expensive equipment and being a little more cautious, but still, use the same principle. Several enjoyable hours were spent making fresh tracks Sunday morning with some good friends and good times.

Cranksgiving 2008

Ahh, the satisfaction of taking a well deserved vacation. I'm sure all 2 of you have noticed I even took a hike from doing any blog posting. I had lots of good ideas and even a few things to talk about, but dammit, I just didn't feel like taking time out of my relaxing to post up. Anyways...

As always, it's a fricking mad rush getting things ready to go before taking vacation and that Friday was no different. I was trying to be home by a certain time for some thing that I can't even remember now and things flew apart at work at the last minute so I was rushing to get everything done and ended up late. Doesn't seem to matter now, that's for sure. Saturday was Cranksgiving hosted by the PRC girls. In it's 2nd year of infancy it turned out to be another great event even with the weather changing to snow just before the start. As I knew I couldn't compete really for any major prizes, I went to have fun and came up with a devious plan. There's really only one spot you can purposely try to win if you're a not so fast rider- most $ spent. So, that's just what I did.

I managed to spend just over $110 on 12 items. Now how do you manage to do that when you're buying things like canned tuna and bags of pasta? Actually, it's pretty simple. There's no rule on how big an item you can buy, just a minimum size. So, wherever I could, I maximized the quantity of a single item such as a bigger can of tuna for instance. My 2nd option was to purposely buy higher priced items. This in itself can be optioned into 2 categories. Knowing where you can buy more expensive items ($10+ for shampoo at The Market) and figuring out a way to get one over on the competition by shopping at a different location ($48 for 1 lb of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee at Zanzibars) are good things to go for. One final word to the wise is to go for the trailer option if you're planning this strategy as I don't think I could have fit everything into just a messenger bag.

There you go, for anyone wanting to pick up a golden crank next year, you too can buy your way to the front of the line. I won't be going that route again, so feel free to enjoy the fruits of my inventive labor. Actually, one of the most fun parts was hearing Kelli come up an tell us that there was some guy out there that had gone out to spend the most money. She was shocked by it. I really should have played along, but my bravado got the best of me and I boasted that I was indeed the idiot trying to outspend everyone else. All I can say it I hope the people really enjoy good coffee and some high end shampoo! I had a blast and will be back next year for sure.

Oh and my hats off to this kid. That's just hard core and he looked like he was having a ball out there with his dad.