Archive for 2010

My latest project

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Every now and then, I like to try something different. So when people approach me with an idea, I’m ready to listen. To make a long story short, one of my colleagues found a really interesting technology project in Michigan. The only problem was that if we were going to be involved, we’d need to start a company. So we did.

I’ve thought about doing this a number of times over the years. But things just didn’t quite feel right. Undoubtedly, one of the major obstacles is that while I find my work interesting, I’m also trying to find ways to do less of it. If you have this attitude, starting a company does seem like a strange thing to do.

But this time, things just seemed to line up. My partner is a maniac in the best sense of the word. The project is both intellectually challenging and philosophically appealing. Plus, it’s actually one that both of us are particularly well qualified for. I talked to the project manager on the other side, and she’s definitely someone I’d like to work with.

I knew that if I ever want to consider hanging out a shingle, this is the time. I think we’ll do fine, but whether or not we succeed, I know I’ll be glad we tried.

Goodbye, gentle buddy

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Today, we accompanied Bo on his final trip to the vet. His condition had been deteriorating ever since he’d been diagnosed with bone cancer, and in recent days he became withdrawn and only a ghost of his normal exuberant self. He couldn’t sleep at night due to the pain. It was time.

Bo actually belonged to our neighbors Tim and Sally, but he always had a special place in our hearts, so we were honored to be invited to come with him today. Shortly after he moved in, a hole was cut in the fence so he could play with Keiko and visit when he wanted. He came over practically every day to play, go on walks, or relax with us in the evening. He looked after us and Powder like his own family, and we always looked forward to seeing him. The house seemed quiet and empty on days when he didn’t come. It seems empty now, and we miss him.

Shirley compiled some of our favorite pictures of Bo. They don’t do him justice, but check them out.

Homage to a light bulb

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

When I flipped the switch this morning so I could see to make breakfast, I found myself in darkness. Normally, one would assume the bulb had burnt out, but we’ve been through a bit too much with this one to make such an assumption without testing the circuit. But our worst fears were confirmed.

This was no ordinary bulb. I originally bought it with a fixture for Shirley’s birthday in 1996. It’s a decorative bulb, and I remember thinking what a ripoff it was to charge $3.95 for it. But I misjudged it terribly.

Throughout that entire time, it has been the most used light in the house. It’s one of the first lights on in the morning, and one of the last ones off at night.

So when it finally died, it just didn’t seem right to just throw it away. The compact florescent replacement provides more light and draws significantly less energy, but all the same, a great light has gone out.

Topping off an excellent cycling season

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Although I ride all year, I get especially excited about cycling season. For me, cycling season officially begins with a ride known as the Monster Cookie which takes place on the third Sunday in April, and it ends with the Peach which is held the last Saturday in September.

The Peach attracts about 1000 riders, but this year the cool wind and rain drove a lot of people away — I’ve never seen so few cyclists at a major event ride before. But I enjoy riding in slop, so I simply took my commuting rig which was literally built for such conditions.

I usually ride solo, but the wind was bad enough that I thought I’d be crazy not to make a few friends. So I started working with a local team around mile 45. The weather was relentless, and a lot of riders were bailing. But I was having a blast as was the team I was with.

Between mile 55 and 75, I didn’t see a single other cyclist aside from the team members. We thought we were off course, but the faint course markings which had been mostly washed away by rain indicated we weren’t. The feed station at mile 75 is normally very busy, but it was desolate when we arrived. The volunteers told us only 5 riders showed up before us, 4 of whom were still there.

During the final leg, the rain started letting up, but I’d worked a bit too hard fighting the wind when I was leading the group. At mile 90, I fell off the back on a modest climb into a headwind. The team support vehicle released their mascot, a pit bull named Ramses, to motivate me. And while that lifted my spirits and gave me a boost, I just didn’t have enough left in me to bridge the gap.

While I was enjoying peach cobbler and ice cream at the end, one of the team members came up to me, said some flattering things about my riding, and reiterated an invitation I’d been given earlier to ride with with their team. The whole day had been fantastic, but that really ended things on a positive note.

Getting soft in my old age

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

As is the case with most endurance geeks, it’s not my style to bail on rides I can finish. But 12 miles from the end of the Shasta Super Century yesterday, that’s exactly what I did.

Overall, the day went well. I covered the first 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing faster than I ever had before. However, that speed came from pretending I could keep up with riders who were stronger than me. As a result, I started the final ascent dizzy and nauseated from overexertion.

I had two choices if I wanted to reach the end: 1) I could push on which was guaranteed to make me puke and require me to ride with my head in a fog; or 2) I could take a nap to recover and then ride to the top.

The purpose of these rides is to have fun, and despite having masochistic tendencies, neither puking nor passing out sounded like an attractive way to finish the day. I decided to return to the hotel. After taking a one hour nap, I felt great. There was still time to return to the course and complete the final climb. But who cares? A shower and a fine meal sounded like a much better option.

Humiliating loss in the great rat race

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I don’t normally worry about how fast I am compared to other cyclists, but sometimes you have to draw the line.

On the final 5 miles of my commute in on Tuesday, I caught someone hunting me down in my mirror. I was maintaining a brisk pace because I left late for work, so I wasn’t expecting to be overtaken by commuter bicycle traffic.

This guy was gaining on me, his bright yellow jacket flapping in the wind. When I’m on a fast bike, people sometimes hunt me down. If I feel sporty, I try to make that challenging. I felt sporty. And I didn’t feel like getting passed by a what appeared to be an ordinary commuter when I was on my hot rod. I was already doing 22mph, so I figured that if I picked up the pace just a bit, his legs would burn up quickly.

I boosted my speed to 24.5mph. Still gaining. My muscles were protesting a bit at 26.7mph but he was still closing the gap. At this point, I was impressed since few people can generate that sort of speed with fat tires and poor aerodynamics. Between his steady speed, his smooth stroke, and the fact he’d been gaining on me for a mile, it was obvious this guy had a lot more power than me. But I wasn’t ready to concede.

I pushed it up to 29.4mph. I knew I couldn’t hold this level of effort to the edge of town which was still more than a mile away — though I intended to give it my best shot. No dice. My commuting friend was now only 50-60 feet back and still reeling me in.

I knew it was over and that he was going to pass me at over 30mph. I pulled over to acknowledge my humiliating defeat and let him through.

Then, I noticed he was looking a little too relaxed for the pace we’re going. Nice electric bike he’d built…..

Sometimes things just happen

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

When cycling home from work last Friday, Terry and I crashed when a car suddenly turned in on us. I escaped with road rash, bruising, and a damaged bike. Terry wasn’t so lucky. He left the scene in an ambulance and has reconstructive surgery as well as physical therapy to look forward to.

I replayed the crash many times in my mind and am convinced I handled it the best I could have under the circumstances. My decisions were good. My reflexes did exactly what I would have wanted them to do. Sometimes the best you can do is stay with the bike and try to absorb as much of the inevitable impact as you can with the strongest parts of your body.

I hope Terry feels better soon. As for myself, I’m looking forward to a lot of riding in the near future. If you’re a cyclist, be safe out there. If you’re not, it’s always highly appreciated when you take the same care to avoid collisions with cyclists as you would with semis. Whenever you get hit by something made of steel that’s 20 times your size, it rarely works out well.

A downright therapeutic trip

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Ever since we honeymooned in Kauai, Shirley and I promised ourselves that we’d make it back to Hawaii. It took a little longer than expected for us to make it happen, but it was worth the wait. Our condo was literally 20 feet from the ocean, and we watched the whales from our windows every day. We sailed, snorkeled, surfed, and toured all over Maui. And we enjoyed some truly memorable meals.

Even the few things that didn’t happen according to plan have worked out great. When the tsunami warning shut everything down on the island, we managed to explore some of the high mountain areas while most other people were trapped in a few crowded areas because the roads were closed. When a huge storm moved in for a couple days, we enjoyed spectacular waterfalls that resulted from the torrential rainfall and the heavy surf that the storms brought in.

In short, the trip was everything we could hope for, and I doubt it will be our last to the area. The only downside is that it’s completely eliminated my willingness to be cold and wet. If I’m cycling or skiing, I often don’t wear a jacket even when temps are below freezing. I thought I’d fully converted to Oregon weather, but I’m really ready for some warm sun.