Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ups (literal & figurative) & downs

Did two rides this weekend. The Princeton Freewheelers "Honey Do" ride is advertised as a B+ ride (avg 17-18), but has a reputation for going faster (the reputation includes fast and flat); nonetheless, my ride partner suggested it and said he'd lead me back if I got dropped and lost. Well, I didn't get dropped, but that was only due to the kindness of the leader, because I was definitely bringing up the rear. I could see my partner far ahead - he was that vaguely blue spot on the horizon - so I didn't get lost... but I won't be doing that ride again.

After the ride, he said he didn't want to be doing morning rides anymore. I don't think this partnership is going to continue.

Sunday, did a ride in Morris County. This was the first time the leader had done this ride, and we discovered some gravel roads, some scary downhills, a gravel road with a scary downhill, and we couldn't find some of our intended roads at all. Sounds disorganized and crazy-making, no? But it was a great ride: just five of us, coolish-but-good weather, some good hills, great eye-candy. There are worse things to do than ride around Morris County of an early-autumn Sunday morning.

And I was crankin' on the hills; I later heard we did 4300 feet of climb. How come I can do hills, but not speed on the flats?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

week of 9/13

Busy week. Monday did library thing, Tuesday bike shop thing (for both, see supra), Wednesday was my first meeting of the condo board, to which I am newly elected. Thursday I was home, but my wife went back to Polish lessons... so it was Friday night before we got to hang out much together. We had a "date" looking for jeans at Target; she is disappointed in the quality and cut of the stuff on offer there (and, apparently, pretty much everywhere else). I on the other hand, am now the possessor of two pair of regular-fit (read: not wide-cut-for-old-guys-flabby-thighs) jeans in the nominal size I used to wear in college, 33 years ago. WOO-HOO!

Regional meeting this week - which means group supervision, which means I get all anxious about my fellow staff members, but especially administration, scrutinizing my work. It's getting bad; I'm going away on vacation soon,but I plan to go for counseling or something to reduce the anxiety on my return. (One of the symptoms of the problem is the anxiety over going on vacation: I hate to go because I feel like they're gonna look at all my stuff while I'm away, and decide to fire me half an hour after I come back. Do you think it's easy to be this crazy? My wife says, "You make it look easy.")

Ride partner is claiming sick (I think he's really just sick of riding with me), so I went out on a ride with the Princeton Freewheelers around the Sourlands; about 35 miles. Not a great average speed, but a huge range for me, from as low as 8.5mph on one of the long uphills to 35+mph on one of the downhills. The ride leader said her computer showed it was a 2900-plus calorie ride. It was her first ride as leader, and it was a good route, with tough uphills, flying downhills, and enough flats to get some crankin' in, and she was properly careful of keeping the group together.

Tomorrow is the Freewheelers picnic, with an all-paces ride. I'll probably do an easy pace; I did 30 miles yesterday at a fairly fast clip, and this today. I deserve a cruise!

In other bike news, those Velo Orange derailleur cables needed adjustment again this week. They're cheap, and I think now I know why. I'm goin' back to Jagwires.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Some people hear voices that seem to come from somewhere other than their own consciousnesses. Sometimes, these voices say the most awful things to, and about, them.

I don't have voices. Instead, I have my own thoughts. And sometimes, I think the most awful things about myself. Sometimes it feels like the only difference between me, and the people with the voices, is that I don't think the words are coming from somewhere else; I know I'm saying this stuff to myself.

I have a panic disorder that kicks in, sometimes, and these words may be worse when the panic disorder is accelerating. It's been bad today. It's Sunday, I'm going back to work tomorrow, and I have some unpleasant things I need to do, including making up for a mistake I made on Friday.

I understand that exercise is supposed to mitigate these experiences. I can only imagine how crazy I would be if I were not exercising.

$39 Tablet computer maybe not vaporware?

I just bumped into an article on Tom's Hardware saying that the $35 laptop is scheduled to be available in January.

This is a great idea, not least because of the open-source system. It's not surprising to me that a usable tablet can be made inexpensively (although I suspect that there is some cost subsidy to bring it out at this price). What is surprising to me is that corporate software companies haven't been successful at stopping the open-source part of the project - the spread of the Android operating system that this will probably cause has got to be a threat to commercial OS'es.

I'll keep an eye out. If it's a reasonable price, I may even get one.

To the beach and back

Did just shy of 70 miles yesterday with my riding partner: mid-Mercer-county to Belmar and back. He's miserable in the cold (and mornings are getting cool here), so we left at 10am (he wanted to leave later, but that would have gotten us back too late). I think it was more than either of us were ready to do - my legs are still tired. Still, I'm obviously in better shape than I thought I was.

The Tiagra triple crankset still makes noise in many of the gear combinations. I have not been able to adjust for the noise, and still make the shifting work. Hrrmph.

Nonetheless, good ride. We sat for about fifteen minutes in Belmar, and looked at the post-Labor-Day crowd. Lots of people getting the last flings in before the weather turns; lots of swimsuits; a few people who should never wear swimsuits in public. It's not just about fat (although, trust me, there was a lot of that; this is, after all, America). With some people, ugly attitudes seem to color the very air around them. That said, though, the traffic on the waterfront road was very polite: there are many pedestrians and bicycles, and the drivers just go slowly and watch (at least, that's what we saw). Once you get back inland a few blocks, and join the non-beach traffic, the regular ride-like-they-hate-you-because-many-of-them-do traffic rules apply. One of the things I didn't count on, but which makes sense in retrospect, is that the last few miles to the shore will have, in general, a downhill-to-the-water direction - which means uphill on the way back. Ooof.

Back home, we're finalizing the Hawaii trip. My wife seems to be more relaxed now that many of the details are being tied down, but I'm still treading tenderly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trouble over Paradise

My wife and I are going to Hawaii this fall. She has spent the past several months researching and planning the trip, and remarks over and over again about how two people can afford to go to Hawaii on social-service salaries (we both work in Welfare offices).

I’ve pointed out how she seems to be enjoying the process of planning the trip, but each time I did, she was in the middle of setting up some arrangements which were anxiety-producing for her, and she pointed out how difficult this was and how wrong I am about how much she’s enjoying these plans. We’ve argued about it, and I don’t know how to talk about it with her anymore.

I don’t bring it up, and I’m just going to have to be quiet when she does, because I don’t know what kind of response is not going to bring on another conflict.

Oh, well. A few more weeks, and we’ll be back, and I won’t have to worry about it. I’ll let her tell everybody how wonderful it was, or wasn’t… because I don’t know.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

keepin' up

Rode with a group of the Princeton Freewheelers yesterday, a Wednesday (I have every other Wednesday off). Some of these guys ride together three times each week, which means most of them are retired (and are ten, twenty, or more years older than I). I'm thinkin' I can smoke these guys, so I'll have no problem keepin' up.

Well, I had no problem keeping up, but one of the guys -- an artist, who sets his own hours - smoked me, instead. Taught me some humility.

Another thing that taught me some humility was that two of the men on the ride had heart conditions, and a third had lung cancer. And they're riding anyway.

Great day.

After that, a gazillion chores, and full schedule for the next couple of days. Let's check in with the ride partner to see what he wants to do this weekend.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

church protest excellence and long fast ride.

First, this pleases me no end:

After 4 years of harassment, Strippers fight back – Protest church

(Opens,of course, in new tab.)

Now, fed up with the tactics of Dunfee and his flock, Foxhole employees are ready to accept the invitation to come to church… Dressed in their Sunday best skimpiness, the Foxhole dancers have started showing up every Sunday to do a little protesting themselves.

I love it. (It seems to me that if the churchgoers really want to get more people in the churches, they should do it by making churchgoing more attractive, not by closing down the competition.)


Tough ride today. 43+ miles at an average speed of 17.62; that's a "B+" ride for the Princeton Freeheelers, It was just about my limit; I kept up (well, actually, I was one of the first ones back), but today was surely enough for a while. It was a windy day, and it seemed that the wind was in our faces about 75% of the time (although I still had a top speed over 34mph). At the stop, I ran into a guy with whom I rode a "B" ride yesterday; he was humorously making the case (persuasive at the time!) that the fast pace was gonna tear me down instead of building me up. I'm taking his advice; at the Labor Day All Paces ride tomorrow, I'm sticking to a "B" pace ride (but yes, I do plan to ride with the Freewheelers three days in a row this holiday weekend).

(And the bike is still shifting unreliably, and the chain rattles on the front derailleur on all but the straightest alignments. Grr.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

new cables

I put new cables in the bike in an effort to fix the shifting problems. These were from Velo Orange, and they sell cables in colors for not a lot of cash. The housings shrink, though (the cables have been on less than six hours, and I've already had to tighten the derailleur cables a lot). I don't know yet if I'll buy these cables again. Jagwire cables are 70%-200% more expensive, but the housings don't shrink like these did.

(You'll hear of cables stretching. As I understand it, that's not really what happens; instead, the housings shrink under the continuous pressure of the derailleur spring tension.)

Replacing the cables has not fixed the shifting, though. So new front derailleur, new chainring, new chain, new cables... and the front gears still don't shift properly. I need an engraved invitation and permission from the INS before I can get the chain to go from the large to the middle chainring.

Sigh. That SRAM Rival group is looking better and better.

Tried the Deda bar tape (link goes to Excel Sports Boulder, who has all the colors for a decent price). I like the tape, but I should have gone with Jaguar green instead of Kelly green. (...oy...) If I get the SRAM Rival shifters, they come with SRAM cable, usually in black - so I'll likely have a somber color in the bike's next incarnation.

effin' nutball

So I woke up at 2:30 this morning worrying about the writeup from the previous post. I had a good two-hour panic session, until a bit before 5:00 am, when I usually get up. And suddenly I knew what I was going to do.

What is it with late-night panic & anxiety? And why can I never think of that useful stuff until it's time I would have been getting up anyway? And why is this damn thing so important to me, anyway; why can't I let it go?

I have a coworker who's a good friend, who used to get bent outta shape when I referred to certain of our clients as "nutballs". Well, believe me: there's only a few seconds of degree arc between them and me; I'm pretty much a screamin' yellow nutball myself.

(Does anybody but me remember Screaming Yellow Zonkers?)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

did it

I did the side job I was complaining about in my last post. It meant almost 200 miles of driving there and back (and h-ll, NJ isn't that big). But the far southwest of Jersey might as well be a different country - or a different planet - from the dense metropolitan northeast. I did an assessment on an adolescent in a county so sparsely populated that it shares a juvenile detention facility with a neighboring county. The assessment went fine, but now I gotta do the writeup. I sent a preliminary report without the narrative to the court, and I'm having a hard time writing the narrative. The clinical director of this program has, in the past, been difficult (although I hear the leopard has changed his spots), so I'm trying to get the language right. It doesn't help that I don't have access to all the forms (I was sent on this case by the backup to the backup to the regular dispatcher; everybody else is on vacation).

I'll send it in tomorrow or over the weekend. It's supposed to be in within five days, but we got this Labor Day weekend coming up. Too bad!

Supposedly a light day tomorrow, and coworker comes back Tuesday after the holiday. deo gratias, alleluia.