Archive for August, 2010

Rachels turns 7 months

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

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Rachel turned 7 months yesterday. I can hardly believe how fast time passes! She’s been busy, busy, busy recently learning how to eat solid food, pick up things with two fingers, and of course doing sit-ups. Oh, and in between eating handfuls of grass, she managed to cut a tooth without me knowing until she bit my finger an hour ago. It was not the tooth we were expecting… not that swollen lump on the side that’s been there forever (at least forever in baby time). She cut the front one, and the one next to it will probably be thru tomorrow.

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Oh yeah, I bought a bike.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

One area I had planned to mention, but completely failed to write about was the new[1] bike.

This process began back on Nate’s birthday when he received a “big boy bike”. Throughout the summer, he’s become more and more comfortable riding it. About a month ago he spotted my bicycle on the rack in the basement and asked if I wanted to ride my bike with him. I looked at the thick layer of dust on the frame and the crunchy rubber tires and said doubtfully, “Well, we can try.”

So a bit of background on this bike. This bike came to me as a gift from my parents when I was a teenager… a fairly young teenager. It was used when I got it, I’d estimate at least ten years. It is what today is referred to as a “vintage ten-speed”: massive steel tubing, utilitarian but robust equipment, standard flat pedals with the built-in yellow reflectors, friction lever shifters on the steering column and relatively wide hybrid tires.[2] This was a dream machine at that age. It was to a 14 year old what a cherry red mustang is to an 18 year old. Shiny painted freedom.

Over the high school years this bike underwent multiple upgrades, new shifters, a front and back generator driven light set,[3] a gel seat. It was completely stripped, overhauled and repainted with primer and sparkly metallic blue paint. This was my primary mode of personal transport[4] until after I graduated from high school. [5]

I don’t remember taking the bike to college, but when I reached graduate school it became a significant transport again. New tires, tuneups and the best maintenance no money could buy kept it in working trim. Hampton, VA, was far from a bike friendly environment, but I was in my early 20’s and cars didn’t scare me. That was 1997.

The bike has essentially sat idle since then with only a few rare exceptions.

So, I haul the battleship upstairs and hook up the compressor. I eye the tires warily as the cracks in the sidewalls expand revealing the weave inside… one holds… the other holds…

So we ride around the neighborhood and all seems well. Oh yes, the rims are so bent that the tires roll unevenly, the brakes pulse horribly… but we make it around and Nate is thrilled. A few days later we discover that one of the tubes has given up the ghost. No problem, I have a spare in my seat bag. Somehow, the spare is soft and supple. The installation goes relatively smoothly… except for the crumbling bits of tire which come off of the bead. We get another ride around the neighborhood. Now K and the kids go out of town, and I decide to use my after work freedom for a bike ride. I check the tires, saddle up and head out around the lake (about a 12 mile total ride). It’s all going rather well, although I’m noticing that the rear tire has begun to bulge in a worrisome way. Just before the awesome downhill reward… the tire starts losing pressure. I abuse the increasingly flattening tire all the way down the hill and it’s completely shredded by the time I reach the bottom. No problem, it’s only a two mile walk and the evening is still young. After some friends help me haul the old horse home, it’s clear I’ll be needing a new bike. Sure, new tires, wheels, brakes and possibly shifters and it could be a passable cruiser… but it’s so far past its prime and the gearing just isn’t high enough. [6]

So a scoop of Craigslist and a dash of research and I pick up a ~10 year old GT ZR-4000. It’s far from high end by road biking standards, but it’s in great shape with some add-ons: updated seat, clipless pedals and a bike computer. Bike shoes, cleats, Presta valve adapter and new helmet[7] later and I’m feeling like a teenager again. [8]

Yesterday morning ride: 27 hilly (1100 ft of variation) miles including two fairly brutal hill climbs. One is about a mile at 5% grade, the other is a mile at 7-8%.[9] The downhills were long and steady with one spot where I reached 45 mph.

Elevation profile from MapMyRun

  1. To me… []
  2. This was just how they came, I think the concept of mountain biking really hadn’t come into the mainstream yet when this bike was built. []
  3. I always wondered just how visible I was on those long hill climbs, but the light always seemed to reach as far as I needed it as a function of speed. []
  4. besides my parents []
  5. Yes, I drove the parents’ car, but that was never really mine. []
  6. I’m in high gear pretty much all the time. []
  7. Apparently you’re supposed to replace these periodically, mine was made in the previous century. []
  8. Well, at least in bicycle terms. []
  9. This is the hill on US-20 heading east into Cazenovia from the blinker at Oran-Delphi Road. []

Home on Two Scales

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I spent an hour or more watching meteors late Thursday night,[1] but didn’t really see much. Maybe two dozen meteors with probably half of those seemingly unrelated to the Perseid shower.

I did get this fun [2] shot of our home in the context of our larger galactic one.

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  1. and early Friday morning []
  2. but relatively low quality []

Rachel Speaks Out

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Ok, well not literally, but she is getting quite expressive. She has all the motions for crawling too, but hasn’t put together the right sequence yet. Any day now.

Here are some samples from a bunch K snapped earlier this week.

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Flowers and Family

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Last weekend we took a ride out to visit my folks in PA. After picking 18 quarts of blueberries (with two bushes untouched), we spent the time moving furniture, launching water rockets and just enjoying the family time.

Here are some pictures of Mom’s flowers (and their visitors) and a few of the family on the swing.

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A few more in the gallery.

Nate has the shutterbug.

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

So Nate recently inherited my in-law’s old point and shoot digital camera. The LCD doesn’t work anymore, so he fires away old school by looking through a tiny grungy viewfinder with absolutely no feedback on what he’s managed to capture. I’m not sure he cares. Here are some of my completely unedited favorites from the Nate’s eye view of the trip to Maine.

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For more, check out Nate’s new gallery in Impressions.

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Friends and a stormy drive

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Reaching back a bit before my last posting, the fam drove out to visit friends in Troy for their son’s 1st birthday party. It worked out nicely, as this was the weekend K had already planned to take the kids up to Maine. We drove out separately so I could return home and save precious vacation for later ventures.

It was rather fun to see more of our college friends with kids of their own. We weren’t exactly first adopters of the whole ‘start-a-family’ thing amongst the college crowd, but we’re also far from the last. To the parents at that party, and you know who you are, I have a rather nice portrait of the birthday boy and the sweet little baby girl in the strawberry hat. I feel somewhat odd about posting your kid’ pictures to my website, so instead here are some lily’s from the garden. [1]

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On the way home, I dodged thunderstorms which literally flanked me on both sides. It made for a slow drive, not because of the rain or wind but for the many stops I made to take pictures of the sky.

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And finding spots to get lightning pictures… like this pagoda in West Winfield.
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  1. I’ll send them by email instead. []

Summer == Blog Coma

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Where does the time go? I was driving home from work a few weeks back and noticed the goldenrod already starting to yellow. It was still July and summer still felt young. For me the goldenrod is the harbinger of fall. I am so very much not ready for summer to be over.

I don’t feel like I’m doing more things than usual, although N&R keep us plenty busy. If the blog is any measure of my free time, or at least my level of time/energy for free thought, apparently the heart and soul are feeling pretty shackled.

There is evidence of this in my photography habit hobby too. I actually let images sit on the media card for ten days before downloading and cataloging them. For this, I blame K, for taking herself and the kids to Maine to visit her family for a week. The sudden culture shock of pseudo-bachelorhood seems to have left me in a rather unmotivated state through to the present.

I also blame the monitor on K’s computer which failed for the second and last time. Viewsonic has replaced it with another unit. Unfortunately this took a week of outbound shipping and a week of return shipping. Still, you have to love a 3-year warranty in the era of disposable electronics.

So today is the 14th of August. We are one week away from the big family[1] cruise which will almost certainly be less stressful and more fun than we would otherwise anticipate.[2] Ultimately, if I don’t fire off the imagery and anecdotes from the last three weeks now, they’re never going to happen. So here goes…

  1. My atomic family, the nuptial relations and our progeny. []
  2. We repeat this mantra after all communications with my family. We love you all, but you stress us out. []