Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shiloh Antics

The Couch Snurgler!

 Shiloh is the newest addition to the house pack of hounds.  She has been with us now, almost a year, making her 2 yrs old now--still a puppy in some ways of the Ridgeback, and mature beyond her years in others.  She's funny that way--funny strange, not funny haha.  Even at a year old when we first took her in, she generally acted quite the grown-up Ridgie.  Most RR's don't grow up until at least 2 years old, so this behavior was unusual.

She still has a playful puppy side which comes out regularly, though with only the Two Old Men for her to play with (our senior Ridgies) she is sometimes lacking for a sporting partner.

So today, as I sat on the leather "people only" couch, somebody decided she would try to snurgle her way onto the couch beside me...she knows this is off limits, but I couldn't resist taking the pics before shooing her off!

The Recon and Approach...note the presence of "Old Dog" to act as a distraction...

Stage one of the attack!  Nose your head under the desired blanket and put front paws on the target area.

Obscure as much of your body as possible with the blanket.  Maybe Mom won't notice me!

Now to get the back end up and hidden.  There! I can't see Mom, therefore she can't see me!

Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bicycle Dreams

I just got finished watching the DVD Bicycle Dreams, by Stephen Auerbach.  It is a documentary of the 2005 RAAM, Race Across America.  The film covers the Solo rider category, not the Team Relay and Tandem riders.  The gist of RAAM is the qualified riders (yes you have to earn a ticket to ride RAAM) ride from Oceanside Pier, in Oceanside California to Atlantic City Pier, in Atlantic City New Jersey in about 10 days or less, with no rest days, and they must meet time cutoffs.  By that, I mean you must have reached time station X, by time Y in order to continue to ride.  All riders must follow the route laid out in the race plan.  Yeah, that is over 3000 miles total.

I am not RAAM material.  At least not rider-material.  I have wondered if I could help crew for a rider or team though.  I think that would actually suit me better, for while I love to ride, I have no desire to put myself through what RAAM does to folks.  The sleep deprivation alone would probably do me in!  I honestly would do better on the TransAmerica Trail.  That way I could be a tourista instead, and not have time cutoffs forced on my slow old self.

Dave and I were talking about two of the riders, both of whom looked like folks we would enjoy meeting--Dr Breedlove MD, and Dr Berge DVM.  Dr Breedlove appears a lot in the film, and is always in a good mood, smiling and joking and having fun.  This was not his first RAAM.  Dr Berge I think was the only woman appearing in the film as a rider.  She hails from Sweden, and has a reputation as an excellent rider, and a mentor to other women long distance cyclists.

It was sad to realize, not 5 minutes later in the film after we had been talking, that it was Dr Breedlove who was killed in a truck/bike collision.  We both knew someone had been killed in the 2005 RAAM, but didn't know which rider.   And then to also know Jure Robic was killed a few years later, near his home in Slovenia, in a car/bike collision.  It's enough to make you think...Right or wrong, the cyclist always loses.  Right or wrong, the car always wins.  It's simply physics, at the point of impact.

But I will keep on riding, on the roads of NTX.  It's odd, but I feel safer on the roads than I do on the Multi-User Paths.  Cars are fairly predictable.  Small kids and dogs, and joggers on the MUP are not...I do all I can to be safe riding.  Lots of Hi-Vis clothing, Dinotte tail lights and headlight (1200 lumens OTF), helmet light, lots of reflective material on myself and the bike, and perhaps more important is having a good attitude and behaving like a vehicle.  It's called Vehicular Cycling, and the basic concept is, if you act like a car (albeit a slow one), you will get treated more like a car.

If you get a chance to see Bicycle Dreams, it is a good film, especially if you ever wondered what it was like for "real people", not the pros, to compete in a pinnacle Ultra Cycling event.  A good companion read is Dex Tooke's book Unfinished Business, one man's personal story of his 2 RAAM attempts.

Stay safe out there, my fellow cyclists!  But have fun out riding too!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Venison Roast

Sorry for no pictures to entice you...we devoured this on Saturday.  A friend of ours was most generous, and gave me a venison shoulder, and half the backstrap from a nice buck he shot at the end of deer season.  It's been a while since I've cooked venison, so I called another friend to ask her recipe.  Here you try not to drool on the keyboard!  It's hard on the electronics!

Take one venison shoulder or ham, bone in.  Remove any extraneous fat and fascia that you can get to easily.  Rinse the meat well, to remove any stray bits of deer hair--it gets everywhere if you don't pay attention.

Mix 1 packet brown gravy , one packet Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing , and one packet Ranch Dressing and stir until blended.  Slice 2-3 onions and put in the bottom of your large crock pot.  Put the meat on top of the onions.  Coat the meat with the seasoning mix powder on all sides.  My roast was still partly frozen, so this was harder to make it fit the slow cooker.  Add 3C water to the crock pot.  Cover and turn on low, at bedtime.  By morning, you will be drooling!  If you're not drooling, somebody better check your temperature, 'cause you must've assumed ROOM TEMP!

Flip the meat over, in the morning, and continue cooking until you can pull out the bones by hand.  It's ready to eat, by then, and if you are ready to serve, go ahead.  I recommend homemade mashed potatoes, with gravy from the juices in the crock pot, along with Abuela F.'s homemade baked macaroni and cheese with bacon!

A 1-Beer day so far...

It's not been a good day, if I am looking for a beer at 3:30.  Now, it wasn't a "bad" day--nobody died that I care about, the kids behaved well, the dogs are healthy...but it has been an annoying day.  A Beer Day.

1.  The pharmacy has to special order DH's med pack.  So I have to make a second trip, tomorrow evening to pick it up.
2.  The library was closed.  I forgot it was a library holiday today.  So I have to make a second trip to get the Monkey's movie.
3.  While I did score the last 1# can of TiteGroup powder in all of NTX at Cabelas today, they overcharged me on that, and also on the die set I snagged.  I caught one error during checkout, but not the other.
4.  When I called Cabelas, they said they would refund me if it was a credit card, over the phone, but it wasn't.  So I had to make a second trip there to get my 2$ back. 
5.  Then the guy behind their CS counter gave me some serious runaround (very unlike Cabelas), but eventually refunded my overcharge.
6.  Then I find out that ATT Uverse has misplaced the modem I returned to them back on the 8th, and are still holding me liable for the $150 thing which I told them not to send me, and which I shipped back with the label their tech mailed to me!
7.  Finally, I ended up grousing at the Monkeys for my inability to find my pocket camera.  They are prone to "borrowing" it for their own use, and I didn't see it on the computer desk, so I groused at them for losing it.  Then I found it...on the computer bad!
8.  Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat sure does go down smooth...perhaps my day is looking up now!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cold Kit!

I finally went riding yesterday in the chilly version of what passes for winter here in NTX.  Temps in the late afternoon were hovering around 38, with about a 6mph wind.  I had a bunch of new gear I have not ridden in before, and was hopeful to give it a test.  Some of it is gear I have used in warmer weather, or used for other things beyond cycling.(What?  You mean there is life off the bike?  Surely you jest!)

The gear:
  • 2 tube bandanas (think cheap knockoffs of Buffs)
  • Cannondale Metro jacket (in Headache Yellow!)
  • Camelbak Frogs gloves (previously used for clearing brush)
  • Craft Windstopper unpadded tights 
The bandanas are a favorite of mine for warm weather cycling.  Having long hair, I find the ponytail in the way for using the headrest on the recumbent, and loose hair is annoying in the extreme.  So I pull one of these on, sort of like a dew-rag that hangs down long in back and protects the loose hair.  They're polypropylene fabric and wicking, so they work well in the Texas heat.  But they are surprisingly warm in chilly weather too!  I took the second one and wore it as a tube around my neck, and pulled it up over my nose to keep my face warm.  Worked like a charm!

The Metro jacket was a great find off ebay.  It was like-new, and a quarter of normal retail.  The jacket is a painful-to-look-at safety Headache Yellow color, with some reflective highlights.  For a DF rider, the reflective works fine.  On a bent, it is mostly useless, as the maker puts most of it on the back....which I recline on.  The jacket has one chest pocket, and two side vents, which actually work well on the bent--your arms stay warmer, and it tends to cool the core a bit better than pit-zips.  The back pocket, while very nice, is useless on a recumbent.  Oh well...that's why I have a large bag on the back of the bike!

The Camelbak gloves, formerly called Frogs (gee, just like my Speedplay pedals!), are now called Max Grip...I like Frogs better.  These were another utility item I got not specifically for cycling.  In fact cycling in them hadn't occurred to me until it got cold out and my Mechanix gloves were not warm enough.  These gloves are sweet!  Great dexterity, and warm, especially with the long coverage over wrists.  I wore them with the wrist coverage INSIDE the Metro jacket, and my hands never got cold.  Now they work great on a bent, since bent riders don't need padded gloves, as we put no pressure on our hands when we ride.  DF riders will likely experience hand pain unless they are used to riding unpadded gloves.

The last item I have been regretting buying--the Craft tights.  Now Craft is a big name in high end cycling gear and I got them new at a steal of a price, and they had Gore Windstopper fabric too, which was a big selling point for me.  I like Windstopper.  But upon receipt of the tights, I found the wicking lining was seemingly oversized, and it made the tights nearly impossible to put on.  It would twist round on itself inside the outer layer, and just seemed huge compared to the outer layer.  Drove me bugnuts!  Now the tights are well thought out in concept--just the inner layer was weird.  Externally, they have some nice reflective striping on the calves and knees.  Knees are articulated (fitted) too.  Long zips at the calves for easy on-off with shoes (theoretically anyway), are a standard item for Craft.  Still they are pointless if you cannot get them on!

However, I was determined to wear them last night.  So at ride time, I struggled and fought with them until they were subdued, and on, in a fairly comfortable position.  It was sort of hard to tell how comfortable they would stay, while riding, with the potential for the lining to shift.  When finally kitted all up, I felt vaguely like the Michelin Tire guy...!

At the end of my ride, some 86min later, I knew I had a good kit put together.  The Craft tights were especially good.  My legs never felt chilled at all!  I felt no breezes through the Windstopper fabric, and I also never felt sweaty or overheated either!  These tights ROCK!  They're just a PITA to put on...  The gloves were nice and toasty, and the Metro jacket did a good job of stopping the wind and a pretty good job of venting.  Yes, the jacket was a bit damp inside, but not so bad that I was chilled while riding.  Probably if I had unzipped the front zip some I would've stayed a bit dryer.

I had a total of just over 17mi for the ride.  Here is the Strava on it.  I even had an unexpected 3rd personal best on one of the segments.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The "C" word, the Big C, comes in many forms--more than I can name off the top of my head for sure.  And I guess I have reached that point in my life where I notice cancer now, more than I did when I was younger.  It seems I now know a fair number of people who are or were afflicted with cancer in some form.

My friends DR and BB, my SIL, my former pastor, a Blogger's family member just diagnosed, a guy from our church and my MIL, who just lost her second battle with cancer.

DR is the reason I willingly subject myself to a colonoscopy on a regular schedule--because his colon cancer went too far, and after attacking his liver has moved into his lungs.  They found pre-cancerous polyps in me the first go-round, and removed them.  But I will always be wary now, and get my gut checked, because eventually cancer will steal my friend from this earth, because he didn't get it checked in time.

Then there is my friend BB, who is a true rarity in this world.  He is a 5yr+ male lung cancer survivor.  He is also one heck of a cyclist and I can only wish I was half as fast as he, on twice the lung capacity!

My SIL (sister in law), fighting a battle with an unusual oral cancer.  We like to joke with her about all the Chaw (smokeless tabacco) she must be using to have contracted Snuffers Cancer.  (She doesn't chew or smoke at all.)  But I see the pain it has caused her and the way it has affected her quality of life.

The young man BK, from our church who fought Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and won, only to die from a cold he caught while his immune system was still suppressed...

Our former pastor, now retired, who we recently learned has a form of leukemia.  We haven't heard from them recently but last I heard they were waiting for him to get worse before starting treatment.  I do not understand that.

And my mother in law...we lost her to cancer last month.  It was not her first rodeo with the Big C.  She'd beaten it once, way back in the 1980's. when treatments were not so refined.  That was an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma, and the docs I think were quite surprised that she kicked cancer's ass!  The cancer that stole her from us, was a different beast--unrelated to the original one they say.

I suppose in hindsight, I knew something was wrong back in September when we visited her.  But I couldn't "see" it until after we got the call in November that she was in hospital, and it wasn't good news.  Never one to complain, she bore her pain with a quiet dignity.  She was able to be cared for at home, by family and hospice.  No tubes or extreme measures, just peace and quiet, surrounded by those who loved her.

There's not a lot I can do personally in the big scheme of things called cancer.  I guess the small things will have to suffice.  I can donate a little cash to worthy research groups, and perhaps more importantly, I can show my support for those afflicted.  Paul the Apostle perhaps said it best...
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NIV 1984)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Annual Lung Crud

What a difference a year makes....this time last year I had not yet gone to the doc for what turned out to basically be walking pneumonia.  Instead, I went out for a 50+mi bike ride in the cold, and made things worse.

This year, on NYE, I detected the low deep barky cough when I woke up, and mentioned it to Dave, who has been fighting off the flu and a respiratory infection.  I think I said something mildly sarcastic, like "Thanks Love, now I've got it."  But in the afternoon, after determining it wasn't going away but was instead worsening, I went to the doc.  I got some meds, yay, and started the Zpack to kill off whatever was trying to build a condo in my lungs.  It's the color and approximate consistency of flan...y'all know what flan is, right?
Easy Flan Recipe

I'm now on day 3 of the Zpack and while the fever is now gone I think, and the cough is controlled and not spastic, I still feel like crap.  I can't tell if the abdominal discomfort is due to hunger, or queasyness.  I am not really hungry, which tells me right there, I am not well, but food still tastes good, and I enjoy it when inspired to eat some.

I am desperate to get back on the bike and start riding.  I just fear doing so will make things worse.  The last thing I want is to make this crud worse.  I signed up for some sort of distance challenge on Strava.  I hope I am well enough soon enough to start riding for it.  Dave at least, went out for a morning ride and his usual commute today.  I hope he doesn't induce a relapse too.

Here's hoping the rest of y'all out there are healthier than I, and are having fun doing those things you enjoy. 
Happy New Year (a day late!)