Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bronze Wedding Anniversary

Today is my Anniversary! For 8 years I have been married to the woman of my dreams.

It seems rare to hear a person speak about a relationship as a positive thing in their life. I hear plenty of people talking about their poor relationships. As I listen to stories of failed relationships I hear at work or from friends, I think how fortunate I am to have found Sara. My relationship is definitely a positive part of my life.

We met through a mutual group of climbing friends when I first moved to Missouri.

It is easy for me to understand my love for her within the confines of my head but to articulate my thoughts into writing is much more difficult. I look forward to going home. I miss her as soon as she leaves and don’t sleep well until her return. Just saying her name fills my heart with emotion. I was a scoundrel before meeting her and having her in my life makes me want to be a better person. She is a source of my strength and the motivation I use to push myself. I absolutely cannot imagine my life without her in it.

She is deeply compassionate towards all living things (including animals which I do not understand). She has a sarcastic wit that can always lift my spirits.

Below is the video from our wedding. It’s a little blurry at times but I think it does the job minus my cheesy narration. It was actually made before computer editing and digital video. I shot most of the video (with the help of a couple friends during the ceremony) on an old analog camcorder. I did the editing with two VCR’s, a CD player and microphone with an old audio mixer. We had a single copy on a VHS tape for years and then a couple years ago had it placed on a DVD.

Batiatus: How many men would you kill to hold your wife again?
Spartacus: I would kill them all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

DIY Shock Treatments

Lately, when I stand up to crank on the pedals, my bike has developed a creaking sound. I cannot stand the sound of something loose or rattling. It's always been a pet peeve of mine. This one isn't difficult to diagnose. I know it's one of the bolts that holds the chain ring on. A simple fix but I have to remove the back tire to do it properly.

The work stand I have created for the bike isn't ideal but it does function well enough. One of the downfalls is that you only have easy access to one side of the bike. Sometimes to reach the side of the bike that is against the wall, instead of taking the bike down and turning it around, I will lean and rest the top of my ahead against the wall looking down the side of the bike I'm trying to reach.

You'll notice in the picture just above the rear wheel is an outlet. Last winter at some point one of the prongs in the charger to my headlight disappeared. I searched around for it in my bags and on the floor but never did find it. I ended up stealing one from another charger and making it work. I had forgotten about the one that had been lost and wrote it off to the land of wherever things go when you can't find them. It's a place filled with socks and keys and things of this nature.

I had just returned from my Saturday morning run. Nobody else was home and I decided to spend a little time in the garage tinkering on the bike. Perhaps it was finally time to get rid of the wretched creaking noise. As I began to take off the rear wheel, I was having trouble getting the leverage I needed on the bolt that was closest to the wall. I must have put it on well because it was really giving me a hard time.

As I was leaning over the bike, working on this stubborn bolt, I did as I always do and leaned forward to rest the top of my head on the wall. Apparently, I touched the wall directly on the outlet. Because of the high humidity and the last couple hours I had spent running, my hair was still drenched. As my head touched the outlet, I heard a large POP! I saw a flash of light and then a moment of darkness. I wasn't aware at this moment exactly what was happening but it forced me to stand straight up and take a step backwards and from my mouth came an audible "Bah!" The radio and light that were also plugged into this same wall turned off.

After I gathered my senses I realized that I had just shocked myself directly on the top of my head! I looked to the outlet. My first thought was that I had been so wet headed that I had splashed into the outlet and gotten a spark that way. When I looked closer I saw what had happened:

It's the prong that I had lost off of my headlight charger.

Once I understood what I had done, and then promptly checked to make sure I hadn't burned a patch of hair off the top of my head, I actually felt quite invigorated. For a moment I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I had just gained some sort of super power? Alas, this was not the case. Or at least if I did, it hasn't manifested itself yet but I am patiently optimistic.

I don't know how much of a charge I gave myself but it was enough to pop the breaker and now the outlet doesn't function. I'll replace it next time I get the urge to do some tinkering in the garage. Next time I think I'll shut the power off first.

Week of August 2 - 48 Bike, 26 Foot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sam the Bike Man

I like to take the same route everyday. I ride the same route and I run the same route. It suits my analytical side. I know approximately how far I am and how far I have left to go at any given moment. I know exactly where to expect conflict with vehicles and where they most often pull stupid moves. I know all the pot holes, cracks and manhole covers from my house to my work. Since I generally commute at the same time everyday, I often see the same vehicles and people.

Not that it really matters but I wonder sometimes what these people who see me on a daily basis think of me. Who do they imagine that I am? I’m sure with my longer hair and beard many think I’m some sort of hippy on an environmental crusade. Some may think I must have gotten a DUI and lost my license because no normal person would just ride for fun.

A guy from the office had been talking with one of his friends. His friend brought up a guy that he has seen daily for years on a bike. He says that he had always wondered about this guy on a bike and had once even followed him until he lost him on a side street. After a bit of back and forth, my friend realized that he was describing me. It makes me curious if others have followed me. I didn’t know that this person had. Do they wish they could ride as well? Do they think I’m fool hardy for pushing my luck in weather and on the road? Do they hate me and wish I would stop getting in the way?

I was in the grocery store last month when one of the clerks approached me and asked what my name was. I say it’s Jim, why? He then tells me he and his wife see me every morning and he wanted to know my name so he wouldn’t have to say, “There’s the bike man” anymore. It made me wonder how many others I see on a regular basis when I’m off the bike that think of me as “the bike man.” I saw him again a week later and he says, “hey Sam!” I didn’t bother correct him.

I see a homeless man, or at least I think he is homeless, walking the streets near our house all the time. He has a long beard and hair. He always wears jeans with his shirt tucked in, work boots and a ball cap. He walks slowly and always carries a gym bag. At night he is walking towards the Galloway trails and park. In the day he is usually walking away from this area. I have seen him all over town. I have created elaborate stories about him in my head. Where he goes and how he got here. Of course, most of them are probably wrong. I always think I should stop and talk to him some day but I never do.

Do you see any characters in your life that you know nothing about? What stories have you given them?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finally took the bike down to Busiek to do an official measurement of the loop I am intending to use for the big run. I had always estimated this loop to be about 7 miles. Much to my chagrin, it is actually only 6.07 miles. Not that this changes things a whole lot. It really only means I have to do a couple more loops than I thought. It also means I'm a touch slower than I thought I was. It will now take 16.4 loops. Now I just need a way to measure the elevation change in a loop.

Saturday we heard that the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their "God Hates Fags" message, was going to be protesting at the Adam Lambert concert. Lambert was an American Idol singer who is openly gay. On Facebook, we saw numerous posts about a counter protest and thought between the 2 groups it would be some very interesting people watching. We grabbed the camera and headed down to see it all.

Here is a link to a video regarding the Westboro church bringing their message of hate to the funeral of a fallen Marine. Regardless of how you feel about war or homosexuality, I just don't feel this is how God would have his people interact with the world.

Unfortunately, or I guess you could say fortunately, the Westboro people never showed up. There were a 100 or so counter protesters that did so we still got to see an entertaining collection of people. Some were obviously passionate about countering the Westboro message, others were there just to be a part of it all.

There are, of course, many ways that people interpret the Bible. My own personal take on the subject could be summed up by one little girl we saw:

Week of August 1 - Bike 52, Run 47

Thursday, August 5, 2010

But My Shoes Will Get Wet!

I was in the elevator listening to two men talk about postponing their run because it was raining outside when I was struck by how different some people are. “I just hate it when I get my shoes all wet.” Seriously! Alright, I realize that not all people are interested in taking the hardest route possible. In my mind however, this is one of the reasons America’s health is in such poor shape. People are willing to skip a workout to keep their feet dry. They are willing to skip because it’s hot. Really, any excuse will work.

I am constantly asked by coworkers if I actually rode or ran in a particular day’s weather. “Tell me you didn’t run in this heat!?” “Tell me you didn’t ride today!?” It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too wet… If you allow yourself to skip workouts for reasons like this, believe me, it will always be too something. If I only worked out in the most comfortable weather, I would only get about one or two months of activity in any given year.

I didn’t tell the two men that I had ran to work this morning in the height of the rains. For nearly 90 minutes it had been a steady downpour while watching the lightning streak across the sky. Yes my shoes, and every other part of my body and gear, were drenched. They will probably still be drenched when I put them on to run home. However, it was also one of the best runs I have had all month. Beautiful sounds and visuals. Cool breezes and refreshing rain. After several runs with a heat index over 100 it was really quite exceptional.

Tim Krabbé expresses my exact feelings in his 1978 novel, The Rider:

“The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you’. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.”

Week of July 26 – Ride 16, Run 50