Friday, January 30, 2009
| posted at: 12:18 | permanent link and comments
| posted at: 12:18 | permanent link and comments
My credit card number was stolen over the weekend. I'm still not sure how, but I suddenly had a pending charge from MAKEMONEYONLINE. Not the kind of thing I'd purchase online. I called, and they said to wait until the charge went through.
The charge never did go through, but Bank of America emailed me this morning to say that there were other pending charges on my account that were suspicious. Since two were from the College Sports Network I can only assume their software is smart enough to realize I don't watch sports. Once I told her they weren't mine she canceled the card and issued me a new one. Really, this was minor. I don't need to dispute any charges, and only about $500 worth of charges were pending when they caught on.
But I'm impressed. First, they noticed a problem right away and kept the charges from going through. That's good software engineering. They also said in their email that I could call collect from anywhere in the world and they offered to overnight me a new card (I declined, standard mail is fine). That's good customer service. Makes me feel a little better about traveling cross country on their credit card this upcoming summer.
So its all resolved, three days after it started. I'm not happy with how Bank of America handles it's bailout money, but I am happy with how they handle their Visa customers. Having two snow days in a row where I could spend my time monitoring my account helped.
| posted at: 14:27 | permanent link and comments
One of the features on my digital camera (a Canon SD1100IS) is time lapse video. I had to play with it. After a few experiments around the house, I decided to mount it to my dash on the way home from New York last weekend. I wanted to see if we'd be able to do something similar on our bike.
A few weird and annoying things.
First, the camera stopped shooting video almost exactly 2 hours into the trip. I thought this might mean that video had reached the max file size on a FAT32 formatted SD card, but the file was only 155MB - much too small. I'm still not sure what the issue is, but it's a minor one. When you're shooting time lapse on a bike, missing three or four seconds to restart a camera isn't a big deal.
Second, the battery didn't last. I got almost three hours of footage, but the drive is nearly five hours. A ten minute charge at an Arby's wasn't enough to give it more than another fifteen minutes of juice. I did some looking around for a stronger battery, but they don't appear to exist. So I'm going to need to carry a replacement battery with us cross country.
| posted at: 13:34 | permanent link and comments
A little while back Kyle created a reddit to allow people to suggest songs for our reception. We're gradually contacting people to give them invites that will allow them to see the link and make submissions.
If you have an invite, you can see the reddit either via the link at left, or by clicking right here.
| posted at: 16:20 | permanent link and comments
Last weekend (the same trip as the ice pictures) I convinced my cousins to be our flower girl and ring bearer. They were excited to pose for a photo (though disappointed I'd forgotten to bring my Wii up).
My mother also showed us the pillow that was used at my aunt's wedding and made from my grandmother's and great-grandmother's wedding dresses. Jillian gave us the approval to use it. So we have another old item for wedding.
| posted at: 11:15 | permanent link and comments
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I needed to make a trip to New York last weekend. As always, it was very cold there. When I arrived, it was in the teens. My parents were calling this a heat wave, and couldn't remember the last time it had been above freezing. Temperatures that have been below freezing that long usually mean that there are interesting ice formations in the creek behind their house. So I had to take a walk.
Our walk was a bit like walking through a winter calendar. Down at the bottom of the creek we figured it was about 0 degrees. On top of the hill it was probably closer to the high for the day: 12. There was a good eight inches of snow in the fields. It almost made me miss winter.
Sadly, due to the cold my camera's battery was dying quickly. But if I put it in my pocket for ten minutes it would usually find enough energy to take another picture. Made me think that I should probably have a spare battery for our cross country trip.
The midpoint of our hike was on top of the hill overlooking my home town. If you look really carefully in the photo (click on it to see a bigger view) you can see a white field where my elementary school is. David and I used to ride those hills almost every day. Sorry the pictures didn't combine any better. It was cold enough that I couldn't figure out how to stay in exactly the same spot.
You can check out our entire slideshow (including some awesome pictures of ice columns and weird deer tracks) on Flickr.
| posted at: 11:00 | permanent link and comments
Originally Kyle and I had planned to save money by using an iPod and borrowed speakers for our wedding music. After all, between Kyle and Dave we'd have most of the good music produced in the last four decades. Eventually, though, we decided it would be good to have an actual DJ, someone to make announcements and maintain a good mood and flow. What we didn't want was a tasteless performer who would overshadow the music and the reception. One DJ whom everyone recommended was Ellen Wascou. She used to do radio and now runs Stardust Entertainment. My mom has a real problem with high-pitched, screechy voices and Ellen is, well, definitely the opposite. She also seems very professional and willing to find or do whatever we need, so I'm quite content.
Kyle and I (since this is part of the wedding in which he has a vested interest) will meet with Ellen sometime in April and figure out the plan and most importantly our songlist, which is already in the making. It goes without saying that the list will include a lot of Journey...and a lil bit of Skee Low (64 Impala optional).
Be ready to dance. And to help me make the groom dance.
| posted at: 07:42 | permanent link and comments
I realized today that I sort of miss competing in 5Ks. I don't miss training for them, I'll hasten to add. Definitely not. But somedays I miss competing in something that is so solitary and straightforward. I also like tracking my progress and winning things, surprise surprise.
I know what seems to be the obvious answer: I should take up bike racing. And in fact Kyle has been bugging me to do so for a while (to which I usually answer: "You first.") I should emphasize that I'm not delusional - I know that I'm not fast enough to compete right now. But that's not the real problem. The truth is I don't know that I'll ever feel comfortable bike racing. I hope I'm wrong of course, but right now I could never do it.
That's part of why the Expresso bike appealed to me. I could compete against real cyclists for real prizes on real-looking courses, but do so in the comfort of my own home with no chance of crashing. That fear isn't like me, I know. Generally I'm an incredibly aggressive athlete. I always have a physical style of play and I'm never afraid to sacrifice my body. (Exhibit A: My awesome "Sacrifice Your Body Like an Aztec" Hydra Paper Plate Award.) The thing is, though, I'm an absolute wuss when my feet aren't on the ground. I suck at rollerblading and iceskating because I go as slow as humanly possible, I've never skiied or snowboarded because the very idea terrifies me, and I would never in my life ride a motorcycle. I will run headlong into a 300 pound linebacker or dive on hardwood to grab a basketball but do not ask me to skateboard down even a tiny hill.
Of all my fears in this vein, cycling is one of the worst, mostly because the consequences for crashing can be so severe. During outdoor training any wipeout or skid could take me into the path of a car. Sometimes when I'm riding I become almost paralyzed by the realization that with one slip I could be dead. It may be possible to die playing ultimate but it would take one heck of a freak accident. Even in races that close off the road to cars cyclists can get seriously injured by a crash. They're going so fast and there are so many things to run into. It's all rather terrifying, and that's a problem. I don't want to race until I can do it the way I play other sports. I need to be able to draft within inches of another cyclist's wheel and take sharp corners without losing any speed. I need to be able to focus on riding and winning and not on fear. I'm just not sure if that day will ever come.
| posted at: 10:55 | permanent link and comments
Right now Kyle and I are both hoping that our training will make us lose weight and inches. It hasn't done much so far, but we can keep hoping...and maybe dieting. The trip itself, however, will require a major mental readjustment: suddenly calories and carbs will be good, vital, and in short supply.
In order to keep our tired bodies going we'll probably need to consume around 4000 calories per day. I'm pretty sure we'll be up to the task of eating that much food; the problem is finding it. We don't want to carry many pounds of food but we also can't afford to buy many meals on the road. Our current plan is to always supply our own breakfast (fingers crossed for free hotel breakfasts with bagels and mini cereal boxes) but to get dinner from hosts or restaurants. Lunches are still being negotiated; Kyle wants to save money by eating what we carry (meaning the same things we had for breakfast), but I'm lobbying for stopping at grocery stores to supplement with food that is fresh and/or cold. Sadly we both agree that we can't afford to lunch at restaurants.
We've also been brainstorming about what food we can easily carry. I'm going to have to find an real energy bar that I like - right now the best I've got are Nature Valley granola bars and Snickers. We might also try those gels though quite frankly I prefer to chew and taste my calories. My strange habit of drinking fruit punch Powerade with meals will finally come in handy, however, and so will the power packed portable meal that I discovered a few years ago: peanut butter and honeynut cheerios. When I'm at home I make a peanut butter and honeynut cheerio sandwich on whole wheat bread for pre- or post-ride meals, which has the added bonus of being great with skim milk. (To the dismay of my mother and future mother-in-law I very rarely drink milk.) On the road, however, I'll be content with just a spoon and a jar full of peanut butter and honeynut cheerios. I discovered this unexpected (but delicious) combo out of absolute necessity while studying abroad in England for a few weeks. The kitchen in our hotel/hostel was so utterly disgusting that none of us wanted to set foot in the room. Lacking a bowl, a spoon, and a refridgerator in which to store milk made my honeynut cheerios rather useless, so for some reason I poured them into my jar of peanut butter and carried this around until I could commandeer a spoon (which was stolen, I'm a bit ashamed and frightened to admit, from the Tower of London cafeteria). And so a culinary creation was born. Now I just have to figure out how to keep the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of my mouth for the entire ride...
| posted at: 12:01 | permanent link and comments
Wednesday I finally got back on the bike. I had to adjust to using the gym bikes again of course, which meant riding in multiple 24-minute sessions without cycling shoes or bike shorts or television, but overall it went well. The following day I broke 500 cumulative miles, meaning I'm more than halfway through the challenge. Woohoo!
Unfortunately Kyle hasn't been able to ride lately - he now only does outdoor riding because his back tire was run down by an imperfection on the trainer and he's been even more run down himself due to work and classes. But even if the competition of the challenge has lost some steam I still like watching my cartoon version move across the screen. And of course I have my resolution to chase, though I'm becoming increasingly skeptical of my ability to average 100 mile weeks with classes and work and ultimate back in my life. Plus on Sunday we have an ultimate frisbee double-header; the games are to 11 instead of 17, but it could still make for a rough Monday again depending on how tough the games are and how hard the ground is. I really am getting old and a little pathetic. Good news though: there's a grad student doing ankle rehabilitation research, so I may be able to get paid (again) for doing ankle rehab. I love being at a school with such a large med program.
Fingers crossed all around.
| posted at: 09:34 | permanent link and comments
After doing only non-contact and low-impact exercise for a month I returned to the ultimate frisbee fields on Sunday for a winter league game. My body has still not forgiven me.
It was a long, hard, and exciting game - we took almost 3 hours to pull off a 17-15 comeback win - and my team didn't have any female subs so I was on the field for the entire time. As usual I had numerous collisions with the ground as I dove after discs, and I also had two collisions with defenders, though they actually fared worse than I did. It was a great game overall but there were several points where I knew I should have pushed myself harder. When I woke up the next morning, however, I realized that if I had pushed myself any harder I probably still wouldn't be able to walk.
Everything hurts. Well, that's not entirely true. My forehead, stomach, and calves feel okay. But everything else hurts, from my sore neck to my blood-blistered toes. Any movement is awkward and painful, including walking and tying my shoes. I've been in more pain before from ultimate but that was after multiple day tournaments, not a single game. This is ridiculous. I feel like I've been pummeled all over, which I guess is pretty accurate. I need a new playing style. I'm apparently getting old.
This one game of ultimate has also cost me three or four training days. I didn't bike on Saturday because I was due for a rest day and I wanted to be fresh for the game. I didn't bike on Sunday because after waking up early, driving for three hours, and then playing frisbee for three hours I couldn't drag myself to the gym. I planned to bike today but then I woke up and could barely move. And I probably won't bike tomorrow because I would need to do so in the morning and I doubt I'll feel better by then. I know that I should be learning to ride through serious pain since I'll have to do it when we head across the country, but I'm not convinced that all of my pain is normal soreness and I don't want to do anything (else) stupid. Plus Kyle made me promise. (I knew I should have come up with an excuse for the groans of pain I made on the phone...)
This conflict brings me to a critical question: Would I give up ultimate for cycling? A month ago I would have laughed at the question, and I'm still pretty sure that the answer is No. But I'm coming to realize that I will have to give up ultimate temporarily, cut back or stop completely as the trip date approaches. I can't train properly if I'm in this much unrelated pain, and I also can't risk a serious injury (like the ankle sprains that I seem to sustain about every other year) within a month or two of our departure. I'm glad that cycling is becoming addicting because ultimate will be incredibly hard to give up, especially as the weather gets nicer and the green fields start calling my name.
It was also rather depressing to watch my New Year's Resolution flounder after only one successful week: it would take quite a push to make this a 100 mile week and I don't know when I'll be able to do proper upper body lifting. Then again, according to the book I'm reading on long distance cycling I should never have tied myself to a weekly mile goal. Monthly goals are healthier and more flexible. Sounds good to me: my new goal is to ride 400 miles by the end of January, which will almost get me to the end of the challenge. Hopefully I can accomplish that goal while still playing ultimate once or twice a week. And hopefully I can walk up the stairs normally tomorrow. Small goals are important too.
| posted at: 11:40 | permanent link and comments
If you'll recall, I gave up coffee as a New Year's resolution. I might have picked the worst ever time for it. I take it one day at a time. I actually first stopped the day after Christmas, and didn't have any caffeine until New Year's eve. That one mocha on New Year's completely messed up my system again, and the head aches came back for a few days. I feel like a junkie.
Plus finals are coming up. No Caffeine + lots of work = no time to ride.
Of course, that means Jillian is completely killing me in the thousand mile challenge. I think she almost feels guilty getting to ride for an hour or two during the day while I'm at work, but I'm all for it. The better shape she's in the faster we'll go on the bike - and the less for me to do :-). Plus I have almost enough outdoor riding gear to comfortably ride in 30 degree weather. Apparently the trick to keeping your feet warm is to double up on socks and wear plastic bags between the two layers. Keeps the wind out. When I do finally have some time, I can hopefully catch right back up.
And speaking of bikes, we sat down last night and had a real talk about how we're going to afford everything. Expect me in all my nerdiness to run a spreadsheet at some point in the not too distant future. We took a look at some other bikes that might be as much as half as expensive, but decided we'd still rather stick with the Pino. It's a pricey bike, but we hear fantastic things about touring with them from other owners, and we still think the ability to sit in two different positions will prove invaluable to us. A lot of the cycling journals I've read have featured people that don't ride more than 60 miles a day. We're still shooting for 100, and more if we can. We just don't have a lot of time. But 100 miles a day is a lot more time in the saddle, and two different seating positions could really alleviate some pain.
I've also decided that I will not be taking my pocket slippers on the tour. They're too big. If they fit perfectly then I might consider it, but I get the impression that if they fit perfectly then they wouldn't be pocket slippers. So I'm pulling those from the gear page. Instead I'm going to head down to REI some time and look at the Keen Commutes. Hopefully my feet won't be too wide and they'll fit perfectly. Put some low profile cleats on them and I hope to be able to wear them pretty much all the time.
I hate random update entries.
| posted at: 14:19 | permanent link and comments
Attention aggressive dogs and their owners: I do not mess around.
If your unleashed dog charges me when I am on my bicycle I will instantly become paranoid and therefore dangerous. And now, thanks to Dave, I will also be armed.
If your dog comes in range looking anything but adorable, cuddly, and subservient I will spray it in the face with Halt.
If you get angry that your dog now has to suffer through several minutes of stinging heat I will explain that being bitten by a dog hurts for much longer and that I don't intend to repeat that experience ever again.
If you claim that you had vocal control of your dog I will point out that the last time I was bitten the owner was across the street unsuccessfully trying to call the dogs back.
If you claim that your dog would never have bitten me I will point out that the last time I was bitten the confused owner claimed that the beast had no teeth. If you continue to argue I will shove my scar in your face; trust me, that wound did not come from a gumming.
And if you at any time become aggressive, well, I am still holding a can of Halt.
| posted at: 10:24 | permanent link and comments
So Jillian and I have decided to make some New Year's resolutions. We'll do what we can to compete at them, I'm sure.
Resolution 1: Give up Coffee
No, really, I'm going to do it. I used a couple of days last week to try to wean myself off. I can make it all day without a splitting headache now, though I still feel rather lethargic all the time. I was drinking between 3 and 4 cups a day before break. That can't be healthy. Plus I'm sure if we were riding somewhere and I couldn't find my coffee then I'd be totally impossible to be around. I'm going to be instructing my students to yell at me if they see me anywhere in the building drinking coffee. I figure they'll keep me honest.
Resolution 2: Lose 20 Pounds
I know this is a rather traditional resolution, but this one is extra important for us. I weigh 190 pounds, the highest I've ever been. I know that isn't too bad for someone who's 6'2", but 170 pounds is just as healthy for a cyclist. Plus it means we'd be moving 20 fewer pounds on the bike. Of course, I haven't been 170 pounds since when I had my wisdom teeth out and my gums got infected three times (who knew I had mono when I got them out?). Back then I managed to lose the weight eating only ice cream, since my jaw couldn't close. I'm thinking this time I might actually need to pay attention to what I eat.
We'll see how those go. I might need to significantly increase my riding in order to make the second one happen. Too bad it's so cold out - my toes were purple when I got back from my ride yesterday.
| posted at: 10:57 | permanent link and comments
Kyle has two clear and concrete New Year's Resolutions: to lose 20 pounds before the wedding and to stop drinking coffee. While there are many things that I would like to change or improve about myself in the coming year I initially had trouble coming up with specific and measurable resolutions. In general I want to be more healthy in a well-rounded way; while I jumped enthusiastically into the cycling challenge I've pretty much ignored nutrition, injury prevention, cross-training, etc. So eventually I came up with three quantifiable resolutions that start with cycling but don't stop there:
1. Ride 100 miles per week
What can I say, the challenge still comes first :-) I will also start to keep track of my basic statistics and sentiments for each ride the way that Kyle does so that I can better chart my progress.
2. Lift weights and do ab workouts 3 times per week
I actually miss lifting a lot and I really want my high school muscle definition and strength back. I don't miss ab workouts at all but I really want to rock that wedding dress.
3. Eat breakfast and a healthy lunch every day.
Too often during the hectic semester I survive on crackers all day until a huge one-course dinner around 4 followed by snacks late at night. So...pretty much the opposite of healthy.
Here's to change and improvement. Happy New Year Everyone!
| posted at: 01:01 | permanent link and comments