Monday, June 12, 2017

Tour Divide MTB race, furbaby pics, Minnesota calling

Hello...just a quick post before I fly to Minnesota to help care for my mom (TOMORROW morning, EARLY!).  There's a lot going on right now....the annual Tour Divide mtb race is underway...it started last Friday morning with the Grand Depart in Banff Alberta. It's a 2700 mile SELF SUPPORTED ride/race following the continental divide from Canada to Mexico. It has OVER 300,000 feet of climbing. The Mens record was set last year by Mike Hall, (I believe somewhere around 14 days) with a blistering pace of over 200 miles a day! The ladies current record was set in 2015 by Lael Wilcox, and she wasn't that far behind Mikes pace (albeit a year earlier). Nobody this year is challenging either record, but that doesn't mean that some of the riders aren't killing it, cuz they ARE! Here's a link if you are interested:

2017 Tour Divide live tracker

 I love following this race...it's just so INSANE! Most riders do well over 3000 miles as they routinely ride off route to get stuff, such as FOOD and WATER, or a place to SLEEP! (not everybody uses a sleeping bag..some actually plan on hotels the entire way). The fast people ride 20 hours or more a day. On a Mountain Bike! If you go to the link, up top you get the map showing all the SPOT locations of all the riders. Below that you see the altitude profile...looks a teensy bit intimidating if you ask me! Can you imagine getting up every morning after spending 20+ hours on your bike the day before, and the day before, etc etc, and to keep going? With NO HELP? You need something, you ride till you find it. Bike breaks, you fix it w/ what you are carrying or you carry/ride it until you can find a shop (you are allowed that). By the gentlemen's rules you're not supposed to render aid unless it's life threatening (ie: if I am carrying a part that you need, I'm not supposed to give it to you). Anyway....I find it so off the charts unimaginable that I follow the racers...if you click on their SPOT link's you get a quick blob of who they are, what bike they are riding and a bit more. But off to the right you can pick between all the race categories, and if you click on the riders there you get their full bio, including links to their web site if they have one. One of the guys (he's in the top 10 right now) is from Attascadero CA (about 70 miles away from me) tho I don't know him. Still fun to follow a local guy!

OK...enough on that. I have more pictures to post of our monsters.

 Our little darling napping on the top of the couch cushion. She likes to climb UP on things.


Just living the good life.


 Bonding (NOT) with PG. You have to give her points for trying.


 Snoozing in Jeannies good chair.


Now they're playing in Jeannies good chair.


 Oh look, we're just little angels!


 Abbey also likes to climb INTO things. Such as the pantry while Jeannie is cleaning it out.


 Nothing to see here folks, just move along and leave me with all this dog food! And can you show me how to use the can opener before you go?


 Some people call their pets "house plants". Here's Abbey imitating one.


It's like she's part cat sometimes. She loves getting up into the shelves for some reason.


 And here she's helping Jeannie clean the freezer.


 Sophie and Abbey napping ON MY LAP. Two cuties for sure.


Seriously, I wasn't snoring, was I? Really? Are you sure? I don't think I snore...not me.

And that's all the pics for now. As I said, I"m off to Minnesota for a few weeks...possibly 3 (my plane ticket has me coming home on 2 July, but if Mom is doing good I might come home after 2. We shall see and make the call at that time.

I will have my laptop with me, so I'll have connectivity to the world. Wish me luck...it's going to be an interesting trip. 

Later gaters!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day

Well....another Memorial Day has come and mostly gone...I'm still sitting here in a hotel in El Segundo (just south of LAX)...been here almost 2 weeks now. Our work here is almost done...we've finally got the spacecraft loaded into the container...so all that's left is to convoy the container to the aircraft and fly it home. THEN we transport it from the aircraft to the payload processing center and unload it. After THAT it's no longer our worry. Until then we have a VERY VERY VERY VERY expensive vehicle in our care. Of course I make it sound like no big thing to load it into the container, transport it, load it, unload it, transport it again and unload it again. It takes a HUGE crew of people working tons of hours for this all to happen...I'm just a small cog in a big machine.

Meanwhile, Jeannie left the babies in a friends care and flew out to Minnesota last Weds to help care for my Mom, who is undergoing chemo for stage 4 ovarian cancer (which was discovered back in early March). My brother Greg already was there for the first 3 weeks, Jeannie is doing the 2nd 3 weeks, and I'll be flying out on the 13th (I think) of June for 3 weeks. We are doing our best to help our Mom thru this ordeal. The fact that it's spread throughout her body is not a good thing, but other than a cough (from the cancer in her lungs) she was fine all along...it was the persistent cough that brought her in for testing. If anybody can beat this thing it is my Mom...at 83 years old she would tire out the Energizer bunny (seriously). The chemo is having an effect tho....(duh)...so right now she's not the dynamo she normally is...but that's certainly to be expected. Her chemo started a bit over a month ago...the first Friday she does a double dose (2 diff types) then the next 2 Fridays she does a single dose...then taken a week off and start the cycle over. This will go on for 6 months unless her oncologist sees a reason not to.

I've totally missed the cycling so far this year...I was HERE in the hotel for the Tour of California, that went right thru my back yard again (the Tepesquet climb last week). the day before that the finish was on Main Street Arroyo Grande...(15 miles away). And now the Giro is over...pretty much totally missed that...wasn't even reading much about it. Sounds like it was a real doozy tho. I do hope to catch le Tour...I should be flying home from my trip to MN on 4 July, just in time to up our satellite package and at least watch THAT.

The babies are all doing good...Abbey has an ear infection, but other than that is doing quite well. She has consistently gained just a hair over a lb a week. As of Saturday she was 4 months old and weighs right at 15lbs. I'm hoping she tops out a bit over 30lbs fully grown...but we will see soon enough. She is a real terror and just a joy to have around. And Sophie has TOTALLY taken her in as her sister/daughter...they play nearly all the time...and she is SO gentle with her, we couldn't be happier for that!

Anyway...that's the scoop from here. Just trying to keep my lips above water. I should be home by Thursday morning. I start working night shift tonight (working 12 hours...ugh) and will continue working nights all thru the 10th of June when hopefully we are all done with this mission. 

Cheers!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

It's all about Abbey

Wow....we had forgotten how much work a puppy can be. Sophie was 16 weeks when we got her over 2 years ago. Turns out there's a BIG difference between 16 weeks and 8 weeks. Abbey was (and is still) just a baby! Though she's growing up fast...weighed her today, she's now 14 lbs....so she's actually doubled her weight in the last 6 weeks (she's now 14 weeks old, still holding onto gaining roughly a lb a week). IF her weight gain holds with Sophie's (who was 23lbs when we got her, exactly half her adult weight) then Abbey should top out around 32lbs (as I assume at 16 weeks she will have gained 2 more lbs). That's not a bad size, still light enough to pick up...where-as Sophie is well beyond that and feels like you are picking up a boulder.

All is well with the babies, and Sophie has totally taken a role as 'protector/mother' to our little white darling. In fact, just yesterday Jeannie noticed that PG was barking at Abbey as she does whenever Abbey invades her 'space'...and for whatever reason Sophie charged over and made a 'move' at PG, pretty much showing her hand saying "don't mess with my baby". It was interesting...and it got us talking about what would happen if we were out in the yard and another dog came up to Abbey...IF Sophie thought there was any threat we are quite afraid she might just attack...she IS a bulldog and even though she is quite gentle to us and abbey, we're thinking all bets are off if she even THINKS her baby is in jeopardy.

That all said, I have a few more pics before I go (working all night tonight, then heading down to Los Angeles/El Segundo tomorrow night for work...be down there thru the end of May).

 Abbey just LOVES to TRY to play with PG, who absolutely WILL NOT play with her. That said, it's funny how whenever Abbey and Sophie are playing, she will typically be nearby 'monitoring'. Right now PG is throwing iron DARTS at Abbey AND us (as we are allowing it). You may not be able to see it in the picture, but that is TOTAL glare/laser-beams from PG's eyes at me.


 This is more like what we typically see when Abbey comes anywhere near PG...teeth, growling and barking. Lots and lots of teeth. But she's not yet bit her as far as we know...Abbey sure isn't afraid!


 Sophie and Abbey play....a LOT. And many times Sophie will lie down so Abbey can crawl/jump all over her. This is one of those moments...and Abbey takes full advantage of it and goes over the top.


 Another shot of Abbey TRYING to play with PG. And as always, PURE DAGGERS at me for allowing it to continue. Here Abbey is chewing on PG's foot. Moments ago it was all 'teeth'...I think she's just trying to vaporize me with her laser-beams at this moment.


 Being a terrier, Abbey LOVES to hide in/under stuff. Here she crawled under a pillow on the couch to nap. Though you can see she's peeking just a bit (hard to tell peeking from fully open eyes).


 This shot is actually looking straight down on my lap as they are sleeping. You can see how much Sophie LOVES her little baby...one thing's for sure: Abbey doesn't go very far alone.


And my final shot for this post: Abbey SLEEPING with PG (who is SO not happy with the situation). At least, that's what she wants us to think...we secretly think she likes the attention. Jeannie took this shot and said there are burn marks on the walls from PG's laser-beams!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

1 month with Abbey

As of today May 2nd) we've had our Wee Monster Abbey for ONE MONTH! She's been growing at the rate of just about a pound a week...she was 7 lbs when Jeannie brought her home back on April 3rd, and I when weighed her last Friday and she was 10 and 1/2 lbs and I assume she's over 11 by now. We're quite happy with our adorable little baby, but she is so far resisting the house-breaking part. I read up on Bull Terriers, and they are notoriously a bit more 'difficult' to train even though they are quite smart, as they are just so 'bull' headed. She's great in every other way, and I'm hopeful that she will soon pick up the good dooty-habits just by following Sophie and PG around, which she absolutely LOVES to do.

We have Abbey sequestered in the kitchen during our work days, as there's no way she will get the run of the house until she proves she can go outside on her own and do her business. Being as Sophie and Abbey are quite inseparable, we also keep Sophie with her during the work-days. I have put up a temporary wall out in the back yard cutting it almost in half...so PG has the one half via the usual doggie doors into and out of the garage, and Sophie and Abbey have the other half via the kitchen sliding-door-screen doggie-door I made. Then I made another movable wall that blocks the kitchen off from the rest of the house. Each morning before work I erect the walls with Sophie and Abbey in their safe zone, PG is on the other side LOVING IT (she's not really a big fan of Abbey running up to her jumping all over her and in general just being a puppy). But she's never bit or even snapped at Abbey, so we're thankful for that.

Sophie and Abbey play together a LOT, which is so wonderful! We've felt bad for Sophie almost since we brought her home...as she was a puppy ready to play, and PG is quite old and NOT much on playtime (when we first got Sophie we also had Sydney and Sweet Pea, both also quite old). Sophie is now about 2 and 1/2 years old, and is still very much a puppy, albeit a rather strong and large puppy (shes holding at 56 lbs). She's also a mother for Abbey when they aren't playing...she's always looking out for her, cleaning her, and is by her side at the slightest squeak. And when they play, even though Sophie outweighs Abbey 5 to 1, she's never yet even made her yelp...Sophie is in general quite gentle. Even when Abbey gets a total piranha lock on a cheek, ear or even poor Sophie's tongue, she just freezes until Abbey releases...never once snapping or retaliating for what is likely a painful bite with those super sharp puppy teeth! We're constantly amazed at how good they play together, and you can see how happy Sophie is having a playmate!

Anyway, here's a few more pictures from the last 2 weeks.


Here's a snoozing shot...she plays like mad and then just drops into a nap she's so tired.


In this shot I have a bowl of ice-cream (just outside of the camera view). This is MY view as I try to eat my ice-cream...what a bunch of moochers! They all LOVE ice-cream!


 This shot was just this Sunday as I was folding laundry. One moment she was standing up on the towels waiting their turn in the washing machine and peering into the dryer, and when I turned around to grab another armload to fold she was IN the dryer. She's very inquisitive and not really afraid of anything, including the vacuum cleaner! How many dogs can you say that about?

 
 I took this shot just this weekend. Sophie and Abbey were both totally tuckered out from playing and are napping on the couch. Sophie HAD her eyes closed but she heard me turn on the camera and peeked. Abbey is QUITE out of it, sleeping like the baby she is (now 12 weeks old).

 
 A few weeks ago I did a long Mt bike ride to check out some wildflower blooms that were going on out in one of our ecological preserves (I am allowed to bike thru it). This shot is just near my turnaround point, and is called Taylor Springs. The gate is for when ranchers have cattle (on the other side of the gate) so they don't get into the preserve land. That's my bike leaning on the gate, and in the background you can see the pens they have for the cattle (none in there THIS year thankfully!)

 
And here's a self photo I took a week ago when I did another long mt bike ride to check out some more of the big wildflower bloom in our Carrizo Plains. Due to all the rain we had this winter and spring it's been the biggest bloom we've had in a LONG time, and I thought I should check it out before it was gone. These flowers are about waist high, and it smells AWESOME!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Abbey Rose

For those who didn't know, 2 weeks ago we welcomed a new member to our family! Her name is Abbey Rose, and she was an 8 week old Bull Terrier (she's now 10 weeks old). She is growing FAST, gaining just about a pound a week (she was 7lbs 2 weeks ago, now she's 9).

A quick synopsis of HOW Abbey came into our lives: we have been looking for a female Bull Terrier for over a year now. They are rather hard to find, and none were going to be close to us. Then Jeannie (unbeknownst to me) found a breeder in Portland Oregon who had ONE left. She was planning on keeping her to show, but then another litter came along and she decided to let her go. Jeannie had been conversing with her a while, and had pictures and had let her know that we DID want her.

So 2 weeks ago Friday I get an email at work that Jeannie wants to go shopping up in the Bay area (about 4 to 5 hours north by car) with a girlfriend on Sunday. They would spend the night in the area and drive home on Monday. I of course said fine by me (what would I say, NO?) and on Sunday morning she was up early and was gone. We chatted on the phone Monday night, all was well with her 'shopping' (ha ha!) and I'd see her tomorrow after work.

So I get off work and go for a short mt bike ride in town, and get home about 6pm. Lo and behold, our family grew by one! She is the most darling little fuzzball you could ask for! All puppies are cute I admit, but there's something REALLY special about Bull Terrier puppies. Maybe it's the almost black slitted eyes, or the shape of their snout (curves OUT, not down like typical dog snouts). Or the ears? Or the tail? Hard to say, other than she is just ADORABLE! Jeannie REALLY surprised me, and WHAT a WONDERFUL surprise indeed!


Here is a pic of me holding her on the first day.
She's got an amazing personality: fearless and curious. She's not at ALL a whiny baby like some 8 week old puppies are apt to be (I mean, COME ON, she's only EIGHT WEEKS old!) As to fearless, she is NOT intimidated in the LEAST by Sophie, her 2 1/2 year Old English Bulldog BIG-sister (who weighs 56lbs, and is built like a large hunk of ROCK). One thing of note in this pic: Abbey's ears are still not standing up straight. Down at the bottom of this post are pics 2 weeks older and they are now up already. Gosh she is growing SO FAST! Some of the pics below are out of order (by her age) and you can tell by the ears: if they are standing up they are later than if they are folded down).

 Here she's attacking Sophie at her weak spots: LOW areas such as legs are her mainstay. She also leaps and occasionally catches a fold of skin on Sophie's face. Her teeth are pure puppy teeth: razor sharp like little needles. When this happens Sophie stops movement until Abbey releases. Sophie actually is quite gentle with her LITTLE sister!

Here Sophie and Abbey are having a tug of war over a small bone. Abbey always loses cuz Sophie knows her size advantage and uses it. She has pulled Abbey clear across the living room playing tug of war with toy animals or the rubber rings.

Another shot showing Abbey on the attack (going for skin folds, or sometimes an ear if she can get it)

Here you can CLEARLY see her size DIS-advantage. But she doesn't stop trying! That's not actually Abbey's feeding bowl (the middle one). She eats alone off to the side, under guard (by ME) so Sophie doesn't mosey in and steal her food.

Here's out WEE MONSTER after she's taken over PG's bed (PG is the Alpha, but hasn't YET bit or even nipped at the little scoundrel). PG barks when Abbey climbs in bed with her (letting us know her territory has been invaded by a little furry Alien) and then if we don't rescue her (Abbey)PG will finally get up and leave, finding a quiet spot to doze. PG is 15 1/2 years old, and is doing pretty well considering her HUMAN age would likely be over 100!

The WEE MONSTER snoozing. She's a pretty good snoozer typically!

More playing tug of war with Sophie (these are the rubber rings). 

Sophie and Abbey on the couch. They LOVE to play on the couch for some reason!

 Here's our little angel in the park playing. She LOVES grass, as I think all dogs do. Here she's poised to POUNCE on Sophie (who is just out of the picture). Sometimes she seems part cat!


 
 A closeup of Sophie at the park (she's been chasing her ball so her tongue is out just a 'bit').

 And finally, all our Fur-babies wishing you a VERY HAPPY EASTER! 
(you don't want to know how DIFFICULT it was getting this picture...let's just say herding 100 CATS would be FAR easier!)




Friday, February 24, 2017

Rain Rain go away, come again some other year!

Okay...okay....our drought is busted. I'm officially crying UNCLE!!!

We've had a LOT of rain this last 3 months. More than we've had in over a decade, likely longer than that. Our reservoirs are filling up....some are already full and desperately dumping over the spillways. A reservoir in Northern Cal (up near Sacramento) has been on National news as it's emergency spillway has fallen apart and it's at 100%, and they evacuated a bunch of people from the town below while helicopters try to fill the hole in the spillway with giant bags of rocks and such.

We've had a brief remission of the rains these last 3 days here (but more is on the horizon for Sunday and next week). I got the MT bike out for a LONG HARD ride today (it was my Friday off): 35 miles, 7000' of climbing, over 5 ass-busting hours in the saddle. It felt WONDERFUL! Of course, I had to give the bike a good hose-down when I got home as no matter how careful I am NOT to ride thru water and mud, it still gets on the bike cuz there are puddles and running water still on the trails (very NOT normal for us). I rode all the way back to one of our far-removed reservoirs today:  Gibraltar Dam/Reservoir....they have been at 98% capacity for weeks now, and are dumping frantically over the spillway. And all that water going over is flowing downstream RIGHT into Lake Cachuma, which was down to about 6% capacity as of late last year...it's now about 45% and climbing, which is a MAJOR improvement....and with more rain coming and Gibraltar still spilling it's going to be climbing for many weeks to come! The news is actually saying our drought is over (for now). The Sierra Nevada mountains have the highest snow-pack they've had in a LONG time (decades), which will bring a MONSTROUS Spring runoff further filling our lakes and reservoirs AND replenishing our groundwater (which was RIDICULOUSLY low these last few years).

I just know that it's pretty much wet and muddy EVERYWHERE lately, and that's very frustrating to a MT biker. But I know we need it, so I'm keeping my whining to a minimum. See? I'm done.

But what IS exciting right now is that TOMORROW (Saturday) begins the 2017 Spring Classics! Yep...Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the FIRST official race of the Spring Classics, goes off the line tomorrow....HOORAY!! It's followed by Strade Bianche on 3/04, Paris-Nice from 3/5 thru 3/12, Tirreno-Adriatico from 3/08 thru 3/14, Milano-Sanremo on 3/18, and so on and so on! HOORAY!!

I only wish that I could WATCH some of these beautiful races...but it costs a nice chunk of $ to get the cycling channels on our satellite subscription, and I just don't want to spend that money just yet...that comes in JULY when I finally do break down and get NBC sports for a month or two. In the meantime I'll just have to read about them. AND continue TRYING to get back into decent shape...between my recent work-travel, the holidays (beginning a week before Thanksgiving last year) and our inclement weather, my cycling fitness is not where it usually is this time of year. By now I've usually had a good handfull of LONG HARD rides on my resume, and I'd be feeling pretty strong by now. But not so this year...I'm struggling...today's ride almost killed me...I was barely crawling up the final climb(s) and even the final descent wasn't as fun as it should have been, as my legs were on the verge of cramping (for about the last 10 miles or so) and even my arms were tired and sore as I was descending. Boy was I happy to see the car! But hey...I'm better for it...tho we'll see how I feel TOMORROW on the Saturday morning group ride....I might just be hiding out in the pack being a social butterfly.

Also keep in mind that the 2017 ITI (Iditarod Trail Invitational) starts on MONDAY! Initially Jill Homer (aka Jill Outside) planned to be in this again...last year she RODE A BIKE the full 1000 miles, in ALASKA, in the WINTER, but this year she has found out that she has a hyper-thyroid condition, which explains her outdoors problems this last year or so (If I remember correctly it reared it's ugly head in Wyoming during the Tour Divide race, last year maybe, or was it the year before? I forget already). Her Dr. said it would be very NOT GOOD to go ahead and do this race she had planned, where you are on your own in REMOTE Alaska and could DIE if anything goes wrong or your health isn't top notch...so she has backed out of this years race and will be trying to get this under control. But her boyfriend Beat (Jegerlehner) is riding it this year...he's done it on foot the last 3 years in a row pulling a sled (he does the full 1000 mile route...tho last year he only made it half way due to a big storm dumping a ton of snow on the trail killed his chances and he had to bail for lack of food).

Here's a link to the racers this year:

2017 ITI race roster

And here's the trackleader site (where you can track individual athletes by their SPOT track):

2017 ITI trackleaders

There are basically 2 different races: the 350 miler to McGrath, and then the full 1000 miles to Nome. The world famous dog sled racers go off a week later, and will start passing the humans a few days later. I assume Jill will be flying up to Alaska anyway with Beat (she's already had her tickets long ago I assume) and will be blogging about it and riding around doing shorter day trips (I would assume she will be bringing a bike) and finally flying up to Nome for Beats finish in about twenty-something days (dependent on weather how fast the trail is every year). It's truly a monumental human powered race that blows my mind that ANYBODY does it!

And so...I need to get to bed...I'm BEAT (no pun intended...I wonder how many times Beat has said he's "Beat" in his life? From what I can tell he doesn't get 'Beat'...he's the outdoors energizer bunny!)

OK, later gaters...stay dry and warm! And COME ON SPRING! Stupid groundhog...6 more weeks of winter...grrrrrr!

Cheers!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An ode to Groundhogs Day




Here’s to the special Holiday, so soon after the New Year; 
and with it our weather forecast, that we wait with baited breath to hear.
Just who is this evil sorcerer, who can end winters icy chill? 
Why, It’s the humblest of all the creatures, called Punxsutawny Phil!
He’s just a groundhog, a furry mammal as you all know; 
but every February 2nd, he’s the star of our weather show.
He doesn’t care about politics, nor about what you do; 
Phil doesn’t even care if you’re red or if you’re blue.
He doesn’t even notice, how much money you might make; 
he just wants us all to know, about what’s really at stake.
Six more weeks of winter, the worst news that he could bring; 
but if we’re really lucky, we’ll get an early spring!
Phil doesn’t care, if you’re woman or if you're man; 
he just makes his prediction, the best that he possibly can.
When he calls for spring, he makes most people glad; 
but if it’s more winter, then he makes most people mad.
From the California rains, to the states with all the snow; 
all I can say for sure is, PLEASE LET THIS WINTER GO!
I bring you this meager verse, from the state of Colorado; 
where the winter is REAL and I pray, that he doesn't see his SHADOW!
But don’t blame the groundhog, he just calls it as he sees; 
it is whatever it is, so go on out and do as you please.
I’m doing that here in the Springs, riding my mountain bike in the snow; 
and with these final words of mine, I guess I'll let you go.
Our lives are too short, to let winter stand in the way; 
so even when it’s cold outside, I say go out and PLAY!
I’ve nothing more to offer, this is the last thing that I’ll say; 
I hope you all have a wonderful, fantastic Groundhogs Day!

Colorado Springs, Gold Camp Rd, 1st tunnel (5 miles in), 1/29/17

Saturday, January 21, 2017

May you live in interesting times!

Well. A LOT has happened since my New Years post. Lots of great College Football, lots of great NFL football, the start of cycling season Down Under, and hmm...seems I'm forgetting something, what could it be? OH, RIGHT! We have a new President! I almost forgot about that, what with the almost non-existent media coverage and all. It ALMOST slipped by under the radar. Sheesh...the Media really needs to pay attention and start reporting on this stuff!

Yes, like it or not, Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America.

Wow. Or maybe it's WOW.

It just seem so surreal. I mean, yes, we had Ronald Reagan the actor as President...but he had also been Governor of California, so had SOME actual inkling of what a President should do. But Donald Trump?

REALLY?? This isn't a joke? The guy from reality TV is our PRESIDENT? Ha ha...April Fools (in January)...he's not REALLY our President...gotcha! Made ya look!

But alas, I woke up this morning (Saturday), and while getting ready for work turned on the news, and lo and behold it wasn't a dream...he really IS President (tho I was very lucky to catch a teensy snippet saying so...cuz, you know...the near entire media in this country totally not reporting anything about this whatsoever). And so, away we go on this wild ride we are all on. The roller coaster has left the station. And the ENTIRE COUNTRY, belay that.....WORLD, is along for this ride. Wherever it takes us. I'm not even sure these tracks HAVE an end...maybe they just shoot the car off a cliff, or maybe in 4 years we will cruise smoothly into the end of the ride...we just don't know!

So, just WHERE will we ALL be 4 short years from now? Will things TRULY be better for most of us, (which is ALWAYS the hope for a new President)? Will wrongs have been righted? (Will rights have been wronged?) Will our income tax system have been FINALLY overhauled for the BETTER of the average citizen? Will our immigration PROBLEM have been fixed? (for those of you who don't live anywhere the southern border, you may not realize the extent of our problem...but I can assure you, people in New Mexico, Arizona and California can give you a good description). Will the immigration problem (assuming it's been fixed) have been handled FAIRLY and HUMANELY? Will our world-standing have taken a turn for the BETTER? Will our military be STRONGER? Will our (and by "our" I mean "the world's") environmental problems be better? Will racism (in BOTH directions, anti-black, anti-white) be better? Will our nations deficit be LOWER than the 19 TRILLION and change that it currently is (consider that we're adding 3.1 BILLION $ a day at the moment)? Will our businessman President reign in Congress (wouldn't THAT be something!) and get spending under control, halting or better-yet REDUCING our deficit? What will our space program look like? We retired the space shuttles with NOTHING to replace them, and as a result have been pretty much financing the Russian space program, paying a kings ransom for each astronaut we send to the ISS. What about the war in space (if you don't know about this, google "CNN Special Report, the War in Space...it's pretty damn scary!)? Cyber-terrorists? Al-Qaida? ISIS/ISIL? Home-grown terrorists? Gun control (or more accurately, the further erosion of the 2nd Amendment from the honest law abiding citizens by making new laws that DON'T FIX THE PROBLEM)? Will WE (the average American Citizen) have more or less freedom than we do now? What about our Government spying on us and their misdeeds to US Citizens? (everybody should watch "Snowden", a documentary movie made about Edward Snowden by Oliver Stone). Along w/ Snowden, everybody should also watch "CitizenFour", another documentary about Snowden, except this one IS Snowden and the actual reporters, not just a movie about him).

This all (the current state of our country) reminds me of a scene in the movie "Dave", in which the imposter President Mitchell (played fabulously by Kevin Kline) has a press conference and says "we've got so many problems that we don't even know where to start". I feel like we're there now. In the movie he (the imposter President) steps up his game, and after firing the Chief of Staff works very hard for the betterment of the common people, homeless people, working people....the average Joe. In the movie we had a fantastic President, even if he only was a Temp.

Dave, we need you! Or certainly someone LIKE you. 

Can (will) Donald J. Trump be able to make things BETTER, or will he make things WORSE? Will he be able to work WITH Congress for the betterment of the country? (that would honestly be a bone-fide MIRACLE, not just for DJT but for ANY President). Can (will) Congress get their collective heads out of their un-named orifices and DO THEIR JOBS for a change? What will the Supreme Court look like 4 years from now? IMO, anytime there's an odd number of judges in the Supreme court and a vote comes up with an even number on both sides of the issue, I personally think the senior judge should NOT vote and leave it as a tie. Anytime something HUGE (ie: ANY case before the Supreme Court) comes down to ONE PERSON being in a position to make that decision for EVERYBODY, that is just too much power. But that's just my 2 cents worth.

COMPROMISE! THAT is the name of the game people. NOBODY gets everything they want. Our system was made by our VERY SMART forefathers to FORCE compromise. When there's no compromise, NOTHING gets done. Nothing gets FIXED. We NEED things to get fixed, as I'm afraid we are quite broken. Our government "of the people, by the people, for the people" is out of control, and has been for some time now. They seem to be more interested in KEEPING their jobs than DOING their jobs. About the only thing I can say with utter certainty about DJT is that he has a pretty steep uphill battle against him. Like any President, he has roughly 1/2 the country hating his guts (only in his case it's actually over 1/2). Can he win over even SOME of the haters? Will he LOSE some of his supporters? One thing is for sure...he's been elected. We all owe him a chance (what other option IS there?) Just like every other President over the centuries has had their chance. Maybe he can pull off a miracle and unite our country....but quite honestly it's a VERY tall order. With the current state of the red and blue division in our country I seriously doubt ANYBODY can pull that off. Well, maybe Clint Eastwood could....I think he'd be a popular President. All we'd have to do is send a bunch of copies of all the spaghetti westerns (Hang Em High, A Fistfull of Dollars, etc) and Dirty Harry movies to our enemies, and they'd be quaking in their boots at us with him as our President!

But that's the end of my rant today. To find out where this all leads, tune into the next edition of SOAP! (am I showing my age by referencing that TV comedy show of the late 70's? I personally thought it was HILARIOUS!)

Hang in there America...and think good thoughts. We NEED them! And hey....like Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of every show..."Lets be kind to each other"! Words to live by for SURE!

I fly to Colorado Springs AGAIN on Monday for another 3 weeks. Old Man Winter, here I come (hooray). Yes, that was my totally heart-felt rousing cheer to go freeze my hiney off again. I've GOT to get back to Hawaii...where we're cold at 60 degrees! THAT'S my kind of winter! Later gaters! And on that note, I'll sign off.

Cheers!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!


Wow...another year has passed! We're ALL another year older. The incessant march of time continues it's unrelenting pace. Time slows for no one...that seems to be the unbreakable rule (as far as we know). That, and the double-edged-sword of gravity. Yep...gravity. Can't live without it, but in those (hopefully FEW) dire moments when you are no longer in control of your fate and are plummeting the few feet towards mother earth, it's a real bitch. I crashed on my mt bike a few times this past year. No serious injuries thank goodness, but a renewed dis-appreciation for road-rash (can't imagine how the roadies deal with it so non-nonchalantly..it really SUCKS!)

My charity-work went well last year, as I earned enough money selling fruit, muffins and bagels at work to buy FIVE bikes for World Bicycle Relief (and I bought them all during a time of all donations being matched, so actually I bought TEN Bikes in 2016)! I've been doing this (raising money for charity) for EIGHT STRAIGHT YEARS NOW...it all started back in 2009 with Fatty and making money for LIVESTRONG. We switched to WBR a few years back due to the utter collapse of LIVESTRONG (when it turned out that Lance is the DEVIL). Anyway, at just a cursory glance I've now raised over $11,000 for those two organizations! Not too shabby for doing this on my spare time (I go into work 45 minutes early every day to put out my stuff, then on Friday afternoon I pick my stuff up and put it away after work). That and the time I use going to the store to restock my goodies every week...but hey...I'm helping people that I don't even know....that's kind of cool!

My new year began with me on my knees in the garage, trying to fix my car seat. While I was away in Nevada seeing my Dad and step-mom for a few days over the Holiday break, Jeannie had my car (I took hers...it's bigger for 3 people. Me being taller than Jeannie she had to adjust my seat (it's a 5 speed so getting the clutch to the floor REQUIRES proper seat placement). It's been a while since anybody  has adjusted my seat, and my car is now 14 years old. Something was frozen, and next thing you know the seat won't latch anymore...she had to use a few of my boards in some clever jamming ways to be able to drive my car.

Something I had never really thought of before...if you can't adjust the seat (specifically, if you can't LOCK the seat into position) it's un-drivable! Literally...if I can't fix my seat the car is just a hunk of metal and plastic taking up space in my garage! So I spent well over an HOUR trying to figure out what was wrong (ever TRY to get a good view of the mechanics underneath your car seat? They don't make that easy I can tell you!)

After I figured out the problem (the spring-pin that is moved by the seat-adjust lever was fully retracted, NOT springing back into the center track locking the seat into place), it was another hour trying to figure out HOW to get the seat out to get TO the device to TRY to fix it! (all of this is on my knees btw...and my knees are 56 years old and not really happy about this, even kneeling on a folded over rug). Eventually I figured out that the 2 tracks on the sides let the seat roll forward and backwards, and the center uni-strut type piece mounted in the front of the seat-floor (with holes in one side for the spring pin to latch into) has a long rivet-thinggee that is keeping the entire seat in it's tracks. Remove the rivet-thinggee and it will slide right back out of the tracks and I SHOULD be able to lift the seat out.

Right.....it actually was that easy. NOT. I had to sawzall the rivet-thinggee in 2 places to remove it (when they install these seats in the VW factory in Germany, they are NOT intended to come out again is my impression).  And YAY, the seat did slide right out of the 2 tracks and the center locking device, just like I figured. HOWEVER. The moving part of the operation (the spring loaded pin thing) is still attatched to the seat via a bicycle steel cable and housing (just like a bicycle brake unit) but I can't see ANY way to disconnect it. And the center track sliding/locking thinggee is bolted to the floor. So long story short, the seat is still attached to the floor, albiet by a 1 foot steel cable and housing. With a plastic thingga-ma-jig attaching the cable and housing to the seat-adjusting-lever. Also there are electrical cables connecting the seat to the vehicle wiring harness. NOT even going to try to disconnect those, being as I can't disconnect the steel cable and housing..there's just no reason. But I WAS able to finally lay the seat sort-of on it's side so I could get to the floor-mounted spring-pin thinggee (the movable locking part of this operation).

And obviously it's frozen in the 'unlocked' position. Making a long story short, and without causing further damage, and using a hammer AND some WD-40 I was able to free the spring-locking-pin deallie-job so it now moves again, just like new! Other than the broken cheap-O plastic bits (that broke when I was TRYING to lay the seat sideways so I could get TO the frozen pin thing) I was almost done! So here is where the Jerry-rig comes into play. I have some aluminum tape that I was able to cut into strips and lock the steel-cable/housing unit into a reasonable position (I hope) back to the seat adjusting handle. So far so good, the handle now moves the pin in and out like it should...(not sure how long my jerry-rig tape will hold but for now I'm good...if it fails it will likely slip out of position and then I won't be able to un-lock and move the seat, far better than not being able to lock the seat into position IMO). So with more back and knee-breaking labor I was able to FINALLY get the dang seat back into it's tracks and the center uni-strut piece into IT's track, and viola...it locks and unlocks again! I fabricated a new bolt to replace the rivet-thinggee I sawzall'ed out, and replaced some trim pieces over the wheel tracks, and I was done! My car is now a car again!

I figure VW would have charged me about a thousand bucks for that, OR they would have just replaced the entire seat (if that's even possible for a 14 year old car) charging me more than the car is worth, OR they would have just said they can't fix it and left me in limbo. Either way, it's actually a good start for the new year...my car is ALIVE again! HOORAY!!! Who knew how complicated the under-workings of a car seat are? That's actually quite some engineering come to think of it...the seat needs to easily move back and forth at will, yet lock QUITE solid so that in the event of a car crash it doesn't let go and crush your knees and body into the steering wheel. Boy that spring-pin thinggee must be STRONG!

ANYWAY...I'm NOT doing any bike riding just now...I dropped my NEW (1 year old) mt bike off at the shop down near my brothers house (Newbury Park/Thousand Oaks, the shop I bought it at) as the Cannondale Carbon Lefty fork is STILL having issues....it's been having problems since I bought it. This time they sent it back to the factory...HOORAY! Hopefully it will get FIXED this time...we shall see. Other than the fork issues it's quite a bike, and I can't wait to have it back out on the dirt! It's been rainy and cold (poor me) since I got back from my Dads, and my old mt bike is still in Colorado (where I'll likely be heading back to in a few weeks) so I only have road bikes for now, and I'm not into 'solo' rides unless I'm out on the base (cuz I don't want to DIE from the yahoos NOT paying attention). So my cycling has taken it's usual 'holiday' slack period...and my hard-won fitness is taking a real nose-dive as usual this time of year. Oh well...it will come back..just seems it's harder every year to 'get it back' tho. Something about this 'getting older' thing.

The other thing of note at our house is we FINALLY pulled the trigger and ordered window shutters for the entire house (the interior kind that have the slat running down the middle so you can open and close the shutters, and they swing open to the inside to allow you to clean / get to the windows). We've hated the up/down cheap-O wooden blinds that came with the house ever since the moment we moved in. And the vertical plastic shutters for the 2 sliding glass doors were HORRIBLE. So...we saved and saved for a decade or so, and BAM! Ordered them back in Sept I think (they had to come out twice to measure, and then they take a few months to get made) and we JUST had them installed..took them 2 days on the 30th and 31st (New Years Eve-day)...but BOY do they look GREAT! I had to remove all the blinds and curtains AND hardware, and fill in all the holes, sand them down and then paint over the repairs before the shutters were installed. The shutters for the 2 sliding doors are impressive (and QUITE expensive but well worth it!) I won't give you the total damage, but it was a LOT (however they will substantially add to the value of the house, AND we get to enjoy them the rest of the time we live here!)

So now I just need to finish painting the inside of the house (just bought ANOTHER 5 gallon bucket of paint)...I'll likely work on that some today (the 2nd) and also I need to take down the Christmas lights outside...maybe today, maybe next weekend...we'll see.

And so...our New Year is off to a roaring start! Our health is good, our families are doing good, and our fur-babies re good. I hope YOUR New Year is off to as good a start! My only downside thus far is my Wolverines fell apart (but came back to make the game QUITE close) against Florida State, and then my Raiders totally fell apart against the Broncos (however they at least had a reason...you don't go very far in the NFL with a 3rd string quarterback...likely their playoff run will end quick...but WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR! For BOTH teams! Harbaugh has worked a miracle with a losing team bringing them to the top rungs of the National Championship hunt...just wait until a few years from now when the entire team is of his recruiting! (and look at the Niners, and their utter collapse without him!) And the Raiders...just WOW! 12 and 4? That's a record most teams DREAM of...and for a lifelong Raider fan, well, it's been a LONG WAIT for that kind of season. Losing Carr to a broken leg is just horrible luck...but he will be back next year and I think they Raiders will be a team to recon with. Just you wait Denver and KC! Next year we WILL win those games!

And with that optimistic outlook for 2017 I sign off.

Cheers!