Saturday, June 29, 2013

Silverado sage

Looks like we will get rain soon... this plant usually flowers a day or two before rain.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Random 5 Friday 06/28/13

Here is this week's installment of R5F, from Casa Monkeywrangler.

1.  Winter IS coming.

2.  Monkeyboy is off at his first Residence Camp with Scouts.  It also occurred on his birthday, so of course they made him wear a birthday cake hat!
The Birthday Boy!
 3.  The Overtime Fairy has graced our household dynamic this week, with DH probably making it into doubletime by EOB Saturday.  Woot!  We have not had OT for a couple years now.

4.  I probably will not make my goal of 500k cycling this month, but I will be closer than last month.  Had I managed more mid-week rides, or even more Monkey-rides, I think I would have made it.

5.  I seem to have developed a spot of tendonitis in my left elbow/forearm.  It's been hanging around a couple months now I think, and I am annoyed by it.  I am going to try some natural anti-inflammatory agents (turmeric) to see if it helps, along with some stretches and pressure point stimulation and massage.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

RAAM Race Summary on Maria Parker

For those of you who can here and then visited and Liked her Facebook page or donated  or whatever you may have done to support Maria, I thank you! 

Here is a quick summary of her race.

Started June 11 around 2:30pm Pacific time (I think).

Finished 11days, 20hrs, 54min later with an accumulated average of 10.4mph (including the time she was off bike due to the wrecked vehicle).

Distance 2,962.40miles.

Maria was one of only 2 women to officially finish the race in the solo category this year.

Her awards (at this time--more may be given in the future after amounts are tallied etc):
Queen of the Prairies (fastest women's time through several Time Stops.)
Women's Rookie of the Year
First Female Finisher (Seana Hogan Award)
The Unstoppable Award
RAAM Solo Finisher

Her fundraising for Brain Cancer Research continues at 3000 Miles To A Cure.

Fly, Maria!   Fly!


And for you cycling junkies out there, wherever you may be,  The TdF begins.  Perhaps they should rename it the Tour de P.E.D.*  I'll probably still watch it though....

* performance enhancing drug

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not your usual zombie flick...

 Ok, so we've all seen them, zombie flicks.  Most are little more than boring recycles of the same ax-hacking plot again and again.  Lately there has been a resurgence in interest in all things zombie--from Zombie Ammo, to Zombie Green firearms accessories, to Zombie Knives, to movies.  American TV even has an extremely popular series, The Walking Dead, starting I think, its 4th season.

I confess that we do watch The Walking Dead, partly because we enjoy dissecting their less-than-ideal tactics--partly because it is better than average mindless entertainment.  But recently I saw ads on Uverse, for a BBC production called In The Flesh.  It was supposed to be a 3 part show, all about Zombies, but it teased the viewer with the potential of a very different plot.  What if the zombies could be rehabilitated, and then sent home?  What if your loved one, wasn't dead any more?

That's the core of the scenario of In the Flesh.  It was unique enough to cause me to DVR the episodes.  Being BBC it was set in rural Britain, and at times even I needed the closed captioning to wade through the accents.  Normally that's not a problem, but between noise in my house (go figure, a house full of noisy Monkeys and dogs!) and the mic levels in the show, it proved more difficult to catch the language nuances.  I recommend if you get a chance to watch the show, you use the caption feature.

There are of course a number of cultural differences between the US & UK.  Having grown up with a dad from the UK, I suppose I make that transition easier than most.  Still it was interesting to contrast US zombie shows to this one.  Only in Britain, I think, would a government think of rehabbing zombies.  Plus it is funny, to me anyway, seeing a hospital full of zombies, all queued up for their exit interviews!  It's VERY English!

In all, I really enjoyed this thoughtful treatment of zombies.  The zombies were really just a method to examine certain social interactions and concepts.  Media reports that the show got picked up for a second season (first really since 3 episodes are not a season) and might come back next year.  If they do it right, it should be good.  Watch it and enjoy.

Here's a link to the primary trailer for the show.  In The Flesh Trailer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A busy week

This week will be a busy one for us.  Wish me luck!

First, MonkeyBoy has a birthday upcoming.  This has caused him great excitement, as he gets to celebrate a day early due to a scheduling conflict with the next major activity. 

Second, MonkeyBoy again, gets to go to Resident Camp for the first time.  Slowly cutting those apron-strings, eh?  Yeah, I suspect he will have a grand time, and I will fret.

Third, since MonkeyBoy is having such a special week with camp and all, I must come up with something to entertain the other Monkeys with.  Got any ideas?

Fourth, Monkey3 has a birthday a week after this.  I must figure out some special items for that too.  Thank goodness Monkey1's birthday isn't until winter!  I have some time to prepare for it.

Fifth, we want to go to the range, perhaps on Sunday, to capitalize on DH's and my time in class recently.  Practice, practice, practice!

Top all this off with the need and desire to get some rides in, perhaps even a longish one on Saturday, and you have a busy week for me.

Have a good week yourselves, everybody!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Random 5 Friday 06/21/13

Sorry I've missed a week or so of R5F. I just was uninspired I guess.

Here is this week's efforts however.

1.  Maria Parker of RAAM is kickin' a$$ and taking names! She leads all the remaining women, and had passed a number of the men including some RAAM veterans.  I have enjoyed  watching her race more than I ever enjoyed the TDF.

2.  The Monkeys completed a week of swim lessons last week. They enjoyed it and learned something too!

3.  I've been fretting this year over my low ride mileage, but June is shaping up to be a good month finally.

4.  I'm not ready for the summer solstice! By Sunday the days will begin to get shorter by about one minute a day.

5.  DH will be in a class all weekend, so I will not get any rides in, and will have to wrangle monkeys all weekend too.  I'm trying to think of something enjoyable to do with them that we have not done in a while...maybe metal detecting?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Light and steam--the power of Nature

Light.  Power.  Nature, in the form of storms. In the form of a tree.
A strong storm rolled through early this morning around 03:00. Lots of rain,  and light... full of sound and fury,  signifying...  lightning. 

Lightning filled the sky, both beautiful and dangerous.  Many's the time in my life when I went out watch the big storms in the Midwest.  It is awe-inspiring at times, to see the light show.

The physics of this power are evident in the pictures I took this morning after the storm.

Energy in the form of lightning, positive and negative charges in the sky and ground, meet.  Sadly for this big old tree, they met in its topmost branches.

How hot is lightning?  The old Brittanica Encyclopedia provides this information:  A typical lightning flash involves a potential difference between cloud and ground of several hundred million volts, with peak currents on the order of 20,000 amperes. Temperatures in the channel are on the order of 30,000 K (50,000ยบ F). The entire process is very rapid; the leader stroke reaches the juncture point or the ground in about 20 milliseconds, and the return stroke reaches the cloud in about 70 microseconds. 

 Heat that intense flashes any and all moisture to steam and beyond...  Wood is strong, but not strong enough to contain that level of pressure.  This poor tree simply exploded.

You can see the channel through the tree this strike took.  The trunk shattered about midway up the tree, effectively topping it.  If you were to look at the very top of the tree, now lying on the ground to the north of the trunk,  you would see the initial point of contact.
The channel is about 4-6" deep here.
The main point of the trunk failure.

 When I say "the tree exploded" I am not kidding.  There was wood shrapnel, chunks 2-3' long, scattered around the tree, up to 60' away.  It would have been a real hazard had anyone been by this tree when it was hit.  I am sure the city will have to cut the tree down as the damage appears to severe to survive.

The power of a storm is stunning.  And beautiful in its own way.
A 3" limb blasted across the path.

More shrapnel from the tree, some 40' away.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

And this evening, in an unexpected turn of events, Maria Parker was reinstated as a racer in RAAM, and is back on the road!

Hooray for RAAM!  Hooray for Maria & 3000 Miles To A Cure!

Fly, Maria!  Fly!

A shattered dream carries on!

As y'all saw in last week's R5F post, I have been following RAAM, the Race Across America, and specifically supporting rider Maria Parker, riding for Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure. 

Maria was doing well in the mountains, proving that it is possible to climb well, on a recumbent.  Sadly, last evening, her dream of racing in RAAM was shattered.   Her follow-vehicle, carrying all her spare bikes, and gear, was rear-ended.  The vehicle and both bikes were totaled.  Thanks to God's grace and mercy, none of her crew was injured beyond some scrapes and bruises, according to her FB page.  And the follow-vehicle did exactly what it was supposed to do--protect Maria from the car that hit it!  Yes, folks, that is the job of the follow-vehicle, to block other cars from hitting the rider from behind.

Due to the RAAM requirements, they were forced decide of they would abandon the race.  I am sure the team was devastated to make that decision to DNF.  I know I would be.  But just because they have DNF'd RAAM, does not mean that they are quitting the ride! 

Apparently, Maria and team have chosen to continue the route, on their own, outside of RAAM, once they get the logistics of a new vehicle, bikes and gear sorted out.  Hooray for them, I say!  They may be out of a race, but they are NOT quitting!  It looks like she will be back on the bike this afternoon.  Follow her progress here.  If you want to see the photos of her time in RAAM, and hopefully, of her continued ride across America, the Facebook page has a ton of pics.

I hope folks are encouraged, and inspired by Maria's example.  I know I am.

Fly, Maria!  Fly!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Collin Classic 2013

Yesterday was the annual Collin Classic bike rally to benefit City House, an emergency shelter/housing for at-risk youth.  The bike rally consisted of multiple routes designed for all levels of cyclist, from the 4mi Family Fun ride, to 15, 36, 47, 56, and 64 mile options.  Excellent LEO support was provided on all routes, to control intersections and motor vehicle traffic during the ride, to lessen the risk to riders and drivers alike.   A big thank you to all the LEO/FD/EMS folks for their help.

A classic T-shirt ride, the Collin Classic was routed over remarkably good roads for the most part, with very limited chip seal (aka boulder seal in Texas!).  The routes were well marked and key turns were flagged by volunteers too.  In a twist I had not seen before on a T-shirt ride, there were special "Ride Guides" riding the routes with the paid riders--these folks were there to provide minor mechanical support (fix flats etc) that happened on the routes, and I think, to also provide emergency support like First Responders would, in the event of injury accidents.  I suspect they also provided the calls for the trained EMS folks to get rolling.  Sadly, EMS was busy yesterday...there were a number of bad crashes, at least one of which resulted in a cyclist getting choppered out to a hospital, and others with broken bones or leaking hydraulic fluid (blood).

Still, the weather was gorgeous yesterday, and not hot.  Winds were mild to non-existent at the start, and not much over 15mph by noon.  Yours truly opted for the middle distance, 47mi route, as I hoped to be done early enough to still get the free hamburger promised to all riders!  There were a couple trikers on the ride, and a fair number of recumbents, though I only saw most of them at the food line at the end.  I did ride the last 3rd of my route with Ken and John, both on their Bacchetta recumbents, and had a pleasant time chatting.

SAG stops were well manned with plenty of food, including a better variety than the usual SAG fair of oranges, bananas, and cheap cookies.  We got peanut butter crackers, really good trail mix, fresh watermelon, Grandma's Cookies and popsicles including the unique Pickle Juice Pops (blech!).  I know some folks (DH comes to mind) like to eat pickles in the heat, but the mere thought of pickles or worse, pickle pops, in the heat is enough to turn my stomach!  One SAG had a guy with a pump sprayer walking around spraying down cyclists with a cold mist.  It felt good actually, and allowed me to soak my armskins to provide evaporative cooling when I was riding again.

The organizers also had a Family Fun Fest set up at the ride's finish.  It was really geared toward little kids, but DH took the Monkeys up, and they still had fun, and got snow cones to boot!   They enjoyed the kite display most.  It was nice that the organizers thought to try to entertain the kids who didn't ride, but it would've been even nicer had they planned for some older kids to attend.

And in local news, I just spotted this tidbit. Possible Explosive Device Found Outside McKinney.  Yeah...they found whatever it was or wasn't, right ON the bike route we all rode along yesterday.  I guess I was luckier than I knew!  And  HUGE thank you to the Collin Co Sheriff's Dept, and the Plano Bomb Squad for taking care of this!
**I guess I should have read the article more closely.  The device was found on last Monday, not yesterday. My mistake.

Here's a look at my ride and results.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Random 5 Friday 06/07/13

1.  Yesterday was the 69th anniversary of D-Day.  They say we lose some 600 WWII veterans a day...soon I guess there will be none left alive who were there and who fought in that war.

2.  Tuesday is the start of the RAAM, Race Across AMerica.  As I have gotten back into cycling, this event has captured my imagination, having seen Bicycle Dreams, and chatted with RAAM veterans in person and on the forums.  I plan on following Maria Parker, a solo RAAM recumbent rider.  She is riding to support the charity 3000 Miles to a Cure, and to honor her sister, who is fighting for her life against brain cancer.  Maria is also working with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, an organization that has an interesting take on research and funding.  Look them is a unique concept, and one that in my mind, has merit.

3.  Should any of you folks feel led to support Maria, or even just give her encouragement, I think that would be fantastic!  I know she has a Facebook page 3ktoacure, and was hoping to get a lot of "likes" on it.  I am hoping her live GPS tracking works well on the ride, as I will enjoy following her progress.

4.  I had my hair cut Wednesday.  I have not had hair this short since before I got married.  DH says he likes it, so I am glad, as I like it too.  The Monkeys think it's kinda cool, and the dogs aren't sure what to think, as suddenly "Mom" looks different!

5.  My Monkeys liked these yard flowers even better than the pretty picture from yesterday of our day lily.

Day lilies

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cone Free!

At last I deem Cody to be Cone Free!  His eye appears to have healed sufficient to remove the Cone of Shame for good.  He's not pawing at it now, and it looks like any scarring will be minimal and not in his main vision field. Whew!

Boy, if you ever have to have a large dog in the Cone of Shame, watch out!  I hope your dog is brighter than Cody, as he never did get used to the Cone...He just bulled his way through any obstacle he encountered with it--be it a bicycle or two, chairs, the table legs, your legs, the wall socket....

If I could bill him for damages, I would!  He broke the wall socket cover, he scraped paint off the walls, he knocked over several bikes, even bending a rear derailleur hanger slightly (luckily DH was able to straighten it!)  He knocked over kitchen chairs, and gave us bruises and scrapes from that blasted Cone! 

You'd think that after a few days, a dog would learn that if the Cone hangs up on something, maybe it would be a good idea to back up, and try to clear the obstruction.  But not our Cody!  He believes in the One True Faith (brute force).  If you get the Cone stuck on something/someone, just push harder.  If you break it, it needed replaced anyway!

I'm not sure who is more relieved that Cody is out of the, or him!