Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nothing is Routine

My former supervisor Otto Pluntz used to say that with respect to sick-leave usage, the lack of a pattern was itself a pattern. I think the same could be said of what used to be my normal routine. I no longer have one and that has become my new routine. We're getting ready for a bunch of dominos to fall in our main level remodel project and Tammy and I are doing our best to stay ahead of the tasks we need to accomplish. Normal routines have been put on hold for the next 6 weeks or more. 

Keith and Jason were here Tuesday morning to remove our kitchen cabinets. Keith has a friend who wanted them for his basement and garage so I gave up my parking space in the garage for a couple nights until Emmett could pick them up. We're happy to know they'll have a fate better than a landfill.

Our kitchen is mostly useless now so we're sorta camping inside, eating off paper plates with plastic utensils. I'm not complaining but I do miss my routine -- and our kitchen sink.

We stopped by Keith's shop to see how our cabinets are coming along. They look like they're ready for their new home!

This coming week will be a busy one with Joe coming tomorrow to begin opening the wall between our kitchen and front room as well as some other construction related jobs on his to-do list for us. Steve will also be coming sometime this week to help with the electrical once Joe is ready for us. I spent a few hours in the attic space above the kitchen yesterday building a catwalk from plywood sheets Keith cut up for me to use. Rachel and Drew spent the day spelunking and I couldn't help but think they could've enjoyed the same experience in our attic and allowed me to relax and enjoy televised coverage of the U.S. Open golf championship.

Tammy leaves with the pups for Babbitt tomorrow to spend time with Cindy for the next two weeks. Not having the pups to worry about will help, especially with Charlie. He loves to sneak out and explore our backyard and Ruth's yard behind us where she has two pups. Jenny (our neighbor across the street) saw a coyote walking across her front lawn with a small animal in it's mouth a few days ago. That's my biggest concern.

Dublin is staying with us again while Claudia is away. This is his 3rd extended stay here in the past year and he's become quite comfortable with us, barking at visitors and protecting our home like it was his own. He's quite the character.

I've spent so little time online lately and I'm finding I like life better that way. I still make a quick lap around the pattern in the morning and at night but for the most part I'm avoiding the touch-and-goes throughout the day the way I used to. The news is too depressing to subject myself to more of it than is necessary. There's enough other things to easily fill my days.

Here's a quick snippet of some video I took from yesterday's attic project. Note the creepy heavy breathing through my face mask. It sorta reminds me of a horror movie scene where the methodically moving, relentless bad guy is seeking his prey.

And speaking of the attic project -- it's time to don my mask and headlamp and get busy again. My work isn't done up there.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Kitchen Remodel Project and Bike Path Dangers

Tammy and I went to the Edina Art Fair last Friday morning. The closest parking we could find was a few blocks away and on our walk to the fair we met a man walking an older dog, a Lhasa Apso named Lily. Lily was moving a little slowly. We stopped and chatted with her owner and he commented that Lily is 20 years old. Wow! We were both stunned to learn a dog could live that long.  Lily doesn't hear much anymore and her vision is lacking some; just like Toby -- and like Toby she enjoys her daily walks.

On our drive home from the fair Tammy looked online and found that the oldest living dogs live nearly 30 years. I wouldn't have guessed that.

We're gearing up for a remodeling of the main level of our home and busting out of this oak look that was so common back in the day. We've been busy emptying the contents of our cabinets and cupboards and storing it all downstairs, or in some cases, giving it the heave-ho. I didn't realize we had so much stuff! Tammy was in overdrive yesterday making lots of headway on the project. We spent this morning looking at slabs of granite for our counter tops.

We had planned to do this project last year but we could never settle on a design that got us excited enough to move forward with it. We have that now. Keith came up with an overall idea. We then handed his sketches off to Karen for her to add her touches before going back to Keith for some more tweaks, and then back to Karen. I think we're nearly there but the entire project has us both a little anxious. There are still a few key decisions to be made.

The biggest change will be a large opening we're making between our kitchen and front room where there's currently a full wall. The front room will see the most dramatic change and will no longer be a quiet sitting room. Instead it will be an extension of our kitchen. Here are 3 different views.  View A; view B, and view C. The eyebrow arcs into the front room in the plans have been changed to horizontal lines after a discussion today with Karen. I liked the idea of a slight arc but this makes good design sense. Also, the columns into the front room will be squared and not cylindrical. We're also adding a window to the front room on the west side; something I've always felt was lacking.

We made it out to Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings Saturday afternoon. We try and get there both spring and fall and spend a couple hours listening to the music, tasting the wines and chatting over a tray of olives, cheese and crackers. It's always a nice time.

I texted Tracee to ask if she and Keith had ever been there. They hadn't. I think we'll insist they come with us next time.

We talked about possibly volunteering this fall to help with the harvest. The man pouring our wine told us it's a lot of fun and that they're always looking for extra help.

I don't typically ride bike paths unless they're on a stretch of road where there are few if any crossing streets, and there's a reason for that. I recorded the 9 second video below when I was on a ride last week. I'm riding with the flow of traffic with a bike path off to my right -- a perfectly good bike path but I opt for the road instead. A car abruptly stops for the light and positions itself directly across the bike path. Riding the path would've forced me to yield to the vehicle when I actually had the right of way. I could tiptoe through each intersection but I'd prefer to not have to break my rhythm and the zen feeling I'm likely experiencing. I too have been guilty of being that driver who straddles a crosswalk just like in the video.

Most drivers are happy to share the road with me but as I've shown here on a few occasions lately that's not always the case. I hope this helps to give you a better understanding for why I ride the way I do in case you were wondering.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Golf Speak and Playing the Fool

I'm whipped! I went out for a ride tonight (a 20 mile loop to the trails at Murphy) and my legs were dead. I'm terrible at taking a day off and just putting my feet up to get the rest I need. I suppose that's why I welcome rainy days. I'll typically either ride or walk or golf each day but not a combination of those. I've not been so good about limiting my activity lately, and often times I'm finding myself riding in the morning and golfing in the afternoon.

I'd planned to volunteer for a few hours tomorrow morning working on the new mountain bike trails in Lakeville but I think I may take a pass. There's a chance I'll be golfing in the afternoon and I really need some down time. I'm not complaining. I signed up for this when I retired. I just didn't know it would be so much work!

I'm enjoying my time on the golf course as much as ever and while I'll still play a pitiful round of golf some days, I can see where I'm making noticeable improvement. I played at Legacy Golf in Faribault yesterday (my favorite course of late) and was +1 after 8 holes. I tired on the back 9 and posted an overall score of 85. I had the dreaded 4-putt on the 12th hole. How does that even happen!? Anyway, I'm really enjoying my time out there, especially now that I've got my PCC membership and the variety of courses that it offers. I've yet to break 80 but I sense I'm going to reach that milestone soon.

And speaking of golf -- I've been using the 18Birdies app for tracking my golf stats and for yardage help during a round. I really like the app a lot. Check it out and see if you agree. It's free and free of ads. I believe there are promotions that you can opt into and that's how the developers generate an income but those promotions happen behind the scenes of the app and aren't noticeable while you're out on the course.

Switching gears.

For those of you who feel you're getting your political and world news in a "fair and balanced" way I have something for you to read. This article is from a 14 year veteran at Fox News. In the article he details how nearly every program and discussion on the network is scripted to provide a win for the conservative home team. I fully understand why you believe as you do if this is where you're putting your trust (in addition to the numerous other far-right voices of deception on talk-radio) but I would also tell you that it's not too late to stop playing the fool, and I say that in the kindest of ways. But you have to be the one to make that choice for yourself.

I don't have any illusions that it will happen in my lifetime but I'm hopeful that at some point reasonable people will be able to look back and see this time in our country for what it was -- a massive brainwashing of a large percentage of our populace, too willing to turn over their critical thinking ability to others to manipulate or too comfortable with the message of fear and hate that Fox and other deceptive voices were feeding them while conning them into supporting people that don't have their best interests at heart, nor those of our country or the world.

On what planet is it okay to applaud the rollback of regulations that help protect our sources of fresh water or dismiss regulations that protect our air quality? How can people honestly say that they're in support of those who seek to abolish regulations that are there to protect consumers from those who would prey on them and take advantage of them? Do you really believe that our mainstream news sources are "fake news" as Trump* likes to assert? And how does one get to the point where they listen to a man like Trump* and believe the propagandists that assure them he's not only the right one to lead our country but that he's a godly man?

Faith can be a beautiful thing, but it can also make a fool of you.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My 23andMe Results, Tinnitus and a Rehab Casualty of Sorts

It's a breezy morning out on the deck but I'm mostly shielded from the west wind. Toby is chilling next to me. We've been getting in some nice walks with Charlie lately. We managed a total of 5.7 miles (9 km) one day recently (split up between two separate walks). That's a lot for a boy of nearly 14 years but he moves right along and sets the pace for us.

I received the results of my 23andMe DNA analysis. I'm half Finn! No surprise there, and also no surprise was the finding that I share 13.4% of my DNA with Emily in Montreal, Canada, which puts us at the higher end of 1st cousin/niece range as seen in this chart. (There's a backstory to what I'm writing about and it can be found here.) Emily and I share 1001 cM of our DNA. If you enlarge the chart to the right (Thanks, Emily, for more fully sussing out these details.) you'll see that we again fall into the upper range for a half-niece relationship.

Unless our findings are some sort of freakish occurrence I'd say that my father is her actual grandfather rather than his brother as had been believed earlier on. Fascinating! The only way to know for sure would be to have one of our cousins' (our father's brother's children) DNA analyzed and we're hopeful that that will happen. Regardless, we welcome Emily and her family into our family with open arms.

A friend recently posted a link to examples of Tinnitus on his Facebook page. Tinnitus has been the one lingering reminder of my bout with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss from August of two years ago. Scroll down in the link above and find example #2 -- this is what I hear in my left ear 24/7. I'm not complaining. I'm thankful to have my hearing back and honestly, I'm able to block out the tinnitus to where it's only apparent if I'm in a very quiet place or if I happen to think about it. I had never seen a link with examples of tinnitus and thought it worthwhile to share here.

I had to call and cancel our room reservation for the race in Lutsen in a few weeks. I'm out. We'll be fully into a main level rehab of our home then and our plans for someone to watch Toby and Charlie just fell through. The timing couldn't be worse and I didn't want to try and force this to make it happen. Being away for 4 days was a big chunk of time during all this and I was stressing about it. There will be no repeat fat-tire class podium finish for me this year. I suppose there's still an outside chance that I'll drive up during the night (a 4+ hour trip) and arrive just before the race, get my race number, compete, and head for home but I'd prefer to be more rested. I'll see.

I had to take a week off my bikes after my fall two weeks ago. I slammed my left knee pretty hard into the trail and couldn't put much stress on it. What can't be appreciated in the video is that I was flat on the ground before the bike ever finished its summersault. What looks like a slow-motion fall happened quicker than it appeared. I'm good-to-go now!

Video from my ride a few days ago. C'mon along!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

All In A Day's Work

What a beautiful morning! I'm sitting out on the deck with the sun partially shining through our pergola. The air is full of birds singing and Coldplay, Parachutes, is on low so as not to drown them out.  Tammy and I have been in overdrive for the past several days checking off things on our to-do list both inside and outside. Our gardens and assorted flower beds are mostly planted so I'm giving myself permission to put my feet up and soak it in. I need to do this more often. Tammy is inside with the Sunday paper, a cup of coffee and a pen working on the sudoku puzzle. And it's Mother's Day. Rachel will be coming by in a couple of hours. We have plans to go out for sushi before visiting Tammy's mother in her nursing home in Farmington. I have a 3:04 tee time to golf with Bob later this afternoon so it's going to be another full day.

I made it out on Tuesday for a longish ride up to Rogers and back. It's been at least a couple of years since I've done this route and with all of the construction along the way it may be awhile before I attempt it again. Still, it was nice to be on some roads I hadn't been on for too long.

We're getting together with Keith, Karen and Joe on Wednesday to finalize plans for our kitchen remodel that we hope to tackle in late July if we can get all of the pieces to fall into place. More on that in later post.

I was back with the crew of guys doing trail work at the new mountain bike trail in Lakeville near Lake Marion yesterday morning. We were doing "rock armoring" of some sections that will likely be prone to remaining wet days after the rains have stopped. I'm happy to finally be able to give back in this small way to this sport that I've fallen in love with over the past 5 years. The one concern I have with doing trail work is the exposure to tics and the Lyme Disease they carry. I prefer to not contract it. The woods we're working in are loaded with tics. I'm careful to wear long pants and spray my shoes and legs with a spray containing nearly 100% DEET.

The new trail will be unlike any of the other trails I ride, with an entirely different flow. What it lacks in length it makes up for in berms and ramps/jumps. The trail isn't quite yet complete but should be open to the public in a month. It's nice to have another option to ride and I've already got plans to make it a regular part of my routine.

I had a mishap out at Murphy late yesterday afternoon. I had just ridden the new trails we were working on earlier in the day and felt good so I rode out to Murphy to do a lap there. About 10 minutes into the trail I let my right bar end get too close to a tree as I was negotiation a rock obstacle in the middle of the trail. Before I knew what was happening I'd done a face-plant into the dirt. I laid there for a few seconds to take a quick inventory of my body beginning with my teeth -- all there -- whew! The crash detection on my Garmin 820 went off and sent a text to Tammy to tell her I'd experienced some sort of sudden stop. I couldn't stop the alert from going out in time so I followed it up with a text to tell her "I'm okay". She received on her end along with the text, a map of my location. It's a nice feature but I'm still not sure how I feel about it. But it didn't matter because she's still figuring out her Google Pixel phone and didn't realized I'd crashed until I told her after I hurriedly gotten into the shower and cleaned up before seeing and telling her.

Post crash me

I tried to complete the loop but my left knee was begging me to quit so I bailed out early and limped home.

All in a day's work!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lotsa Smiles and the Miesville FiftySix Gravel Road Ride

I put out one of our hummingbird feeders a few days ago in anticipation of the little flyers' return. I'm maybe a little early but not by much. It's my understanding that hummingbirds return to the same place each year so I want to be sure to not do anything to cause them to set up home elsewhere.

For any former controllers visiting here not connected on Facebook you'll be interested to know that 3 controllers from Minneapolis Center retired this past week: Brian Vance, Kris Henderson and Scott Goerdt. Brian and Kris's retirements were expected but Scott's, not so much. He told me he woke up a couple of Mondays ago and decided then and there that he was done (I'm somewhat paraphrasing). There were lots of smiles on their faces at Celts Pub in Farmington Wednesday afternoon as a group of us gathered to congratulate them and tip back a beer or two.

There's a new mountain bike trail coming to Lakeville between 35W and Lake Marion. I showed up Saturday morning with about 15 other guys to help move some dirt around. The vast majority of the work is being done by a professional crew that builds these sort of trails. The city of Lakeville is providing the majority of the monies for the project but fund raising has also brought in a good amount. They're anticipating a fall opening for the planned 5 miles of trail but from talking with the guys on Saturday they expect it to be open this summer. I was so impressed by what I saw out there that I brought Tammy back to show her. I plan to be a regular volunteer there as my way of giving back to the sport.

Speaking of biking -- the annual Miesville FiftySix gravel road ride went off without a hitch this morning in the face of a very wet forecast. It was windy and overcast but for the most part the rain left us alone. I used today's ride as a warmup for the Lutsen 99er race (although I'm doing the 69er route) near the end of June. I've been getting in some decent rides but I needed something to push me on my fat-bike, and this was the ride for that. Today's ride wasn't a race but I'd say a good percentage of the field were giving it their all, including me. I had my bike set up with my 4" Dillinger tires, the same ones I'll be using in Lutsen. Using my slimmer 3" tires would've made the ride easier but I didn't want that. As I sit here at my laptop my quads have an achy feeling that tells me they've been pushed in a way that only a hard workout can cause. I like that. (Photo to the right courtesy of Dennis Kilbride.)

Here's some video from today's ride.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Peaceful Protest and Tammy's 23andMe Results

My 4 month old MacBook Pro faltered on me a week ago. I noticed it was taking an unusually long time to boot-up and also the Touch ID was no longer working. I worked with Apple support and they determined it was likely a hardware issue. I brought it into the Apple Store at Mall of America on Friday and got it back Tuesday afternoon. That was quick I thought. They replaced the motherboard and it's functioning fine now but for whatever reason they reformatted the SSD (Solid State Drive). I spent most of yesterday getting it back up to speed. I still have a ways to go.

We've been with Verizon since before the advent of flip-phones but our relationship with them has come to an end. We've switched cellphone providers and are now with Google's Project Fi. I'm especially liking my Pixel XL phone and its ability to stay connected to wifi -- a problem that continued to plague my LG G4 for the nearly 18 months I had it. Rachel is traveling in South Dakota this week so I'll be interested to see how the phone performed in the more remote places along her way. I think I'll continue to use my LG phone as a camera on my rides.

Tammy and I attended the Tax March last Saturday at the state capitol in St. Paul to draw attention to the need for Trump* to show the world his tax returns. Transparency for this sort of thing has never been more important considering the potential for conflicts of interest Trump* has. It was a nice crowd of people (see the video below) and a peaceful protest. I read in the paper that they estimated the crowd size at around 500 but I would've guessed there were considerably more people than that.

I did my first long ride of the year on Monday. I left the house intent on doing somewhere between 40 to 50 miles but didn't arrive home until 98 miles (158 km) later. I needed that. I've got my sights set on the Lutsen 69er race in late June and I was in need of a longish ride.

I enjoy riding outdoors but there's no better way for me to maximize my time in the saddle than when I'm on my CompuTrainer and using Zwift, an interactive program that pushes me like no other. I rode in Zwift's "workout" mode today and felt good about my effort. Workout mode is a structured workout where I plug in my FTP number (Functional Threshold Power -- a measure of how strong I am on the bike based on the amount of watts I can maintain over a set period of time). My FTP number is used to assign blocks of time at specific watts over the course of the workout. The image to the right shows just some of the data collected during my workout. The red line across the top is my heart rate and the colored segments beneath my heart rate are the watts I was producing for the two hours and ten minutes I was riding. I love that I'm able to incorporate the geek in me along with my workouts.

Tammy received her 23andMe results a few days ago. I sent my DNA sample in a week ahead of her but their website says my results are still pending. She found out that she's 99.8% Western European with the breakdown being:

58.1% Scandinavian
19.2% British and Irish
0.3% Finnish
22.2% Broadly Northwestern European

The results also show that she has a 25% chance of acquiring late onset Alzheimer's disease, just as her mother is now experiencing.