Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last One

Alrighty... much to my shock and surprise, it's already time for the last day of the year. Making this, most likely, the last blog post for me, for the solid year that was 2008. Might as well make it an update from the past week, along with a massive Joint Photographic Experts Group dump.

Jessica and I were up by 3.45 AM on Tuesday, and off to the airport. For the exchange of a freshly made, Illy triple-shot Americano, Seth and Dempsey were kind enough to journey along to the airport with us, and then let us leave the car at their house. We were headed to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, to spend sweet baby Jeebus' birthday with my parents. It was awesome to climb off the plane in South Carolina, welcomed by that humid 70 degree air! Just as important, I was able to start my diet of mostly Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kremes, keeping an eye out for the fresh donut sign;

This was the first Christmas Eve that either Jessica and I were able to be spend on the beach... in shorts... and I loved it! I caught Jessica running around in the waves.

And since the weather was so nice, Jessica even donned the stormtrooper helmet, and hit out on the open road with Dad and his hawg;

It did cool off though, and with temps in the low 60's I was at the grocery store in flip flops and shorts, while the locals were bundled up in jeans, jackets, and boots.

On the birthday of your savior (not mine), we had a big ol' breakfast, with more Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and the tree was ready with a good pile of presents underneath.

It was all set to be a doggie christmas, since my brother was headed over to the house, with his three dogs, to add to the 3 dogs that my parents have! Included the cute little Brandy, the newest addition to the family. She is a little something-teen weeks-old Jack Russell that they just got a few days before our arrival. And as you would imagine, is an insane ball of energy.

They also have Abby;

And Teddy;

My brother has a lab, and two Boston Terriers, but I only managed a picture of Fergie;

After the holiday celebrations, we had a few days to just hang out, relax, and take in some "Southern Culture". And of course, eat a good amount of seafood! The parents took us to the baby jeebus celebration show at Alabama Theater, and that was pretty cool. Jessica the techie, had as much fun checking out their lighting and computer set-ups for the queues. And being Myrtle Beach, we had to take some time to hit one of the seemingly hundreds of mini-golf courses along the Grand Strand. We had to seek out the Hawaiian Rumble course, the one and only home to the Minigolf Masters National Championships. Not surprisingly, it had a volcano;

The round started out with Jessica and myself closely matched, but when it came to crunch time, I had just that little extra bit of "j'ne sais quoi" that allowed me to emerge victorious!

The final day of our trip, the temps were up to 80 degrees, and of course, that meant we had to hit the beach again. Sunday, with awesome weather, and we still had the beach mostly to ourselves - definitely no summer-crowd!

But there was still plenty of cold water (I made it in up to my waist... should have just gone all the way, and surfed one wave since I was there!)

And the gulls are always there looking for a free meal.

Sadly, the next day, it was time to head home. The cool thing about flying out of Charleston, is that the airport is shared with Charleston AFB, home of the 315th Airlift Wing, flying a bunch of C-17 Globmaster cargo planes.

And as you often get at airforce bases, a little surprise. There was a Russian Anotov 124 Condor on sitting on the tarmac. Not so long ago, the the AN-124 was the largest plane flying. I'd love to get a close-up look at one of those, and see what it's like compared to the C-5 which I've been in plenty of times.

We had one of those flights right at sundown, and since we were heading west, spent most of the evening chasing the sun across the sky

Somehow, both of our flights home were running on time. And our luck really held out when the very drunk, and very obnoxious, guy sitting a row behind us - who was flying to Denver so he could continue following the band Wide-Spread Panic to their next show (no, really) - passed out cold, within 3 minutes of our wheels leaving the runway.

And now we're home, and it's time to watch the now-motorized Dick Clark welcome in the new year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Long Days and Short Nights

Today is going to be longer than yesterday was... and that's good news!

The weekend was absolutely frigid, and as expected, I became very friendly with the new indoor trainer. It was good to get the legs spinning though, get some effort going, and start to force the sickness out of the body. Not much to report, as no matter when you went outside, or for how long, it was bitingly cold. Cold enough that 28 degrees this morning on my way to work, felt like a full-on heat wave.

I did get out yesterday to do some work building some bikes, but now it's just a day of work, and full focus on our trip to the beach - which starts at "dark-thirty" tomorrow morning! Woo Hoo! It could be a bit rainy, but at 70+ degrees, I don't think I'll mind all that much!

I don't even have any fun pictures today, so for now, Happy Chanukah!

Friday, December 19, 2008

2009

The weather for this weekend is looking like a full-on "Indoor-Extravaganza"! Maybe it's time to hit up the gambling towns for nickle-slots and the all you can eat buffet? You know, it's probably a good idea to have the extra insulation with the approaching temps.

The only thing for sure, is that the indoor trainer and I will work on our relationship some more, with several hours of "counseling".

2009 is just around the corner, and it's crazy, because 1999 feels like it was just a couple months ago;

And with 2009 I will have some big changes on the racing front. Plans have been underway for a good while now, and everything is starting to fall into place.

I'll be switching teams, and after a fun year, I'll be moving from the powerhouse of Vitamin Cottage, and onto something a bit smaller. It should be a good change, amazing sponsors, and a really great team to ride with. Lots more details coming soon...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pokey-Things

No doubt, it was ridiculously cold the other morning. It still isn't that warm. But the Elk were hanging out in the yard, just to give Neo something to bark at in the morning. I wish one of them would have volunteered to go out and warm up the car for me!

When it was finally time to leave, most of the herd was at the top of the driveway, including this monster who was instantly ready to make a stand against Clemmie;

That's gotta make those hunters out there salivate! This was one big boy! So the good news is that if the economy collapses far enough that we have to return to hunting and gathering... guys like this provide a serious number of cheeseburgers!

Of course if you're the sort of guy that seeks out die cut Ducks Unlimited decals for the window of your pick-'em-up-truck, and go crazy at the thought of lining up some crosshairs on my neighbor above, then you definitely need to yourself some Truck Antlers!

Turn your truck into a buck... you stupid fuck.

I also came across Jinx last night... the clothing store specifically for all you gamers out there. I really do love this one, it cracks me up every time I say it over in my head in Darth Vader's voice;

As a site selling "gamer-specific" clothing should; it has online ordering so you won't have to log out of WOW to get some new threads, and most shirts coming in "gamer-specific-sizing"... namely 4X-Large. So no worries, have another Mountain Dew, and place your order while your character is busy learning skills.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Pint of Pumpkin Pie

Since it was literally cold enough, that eating ice cream should bring the temperature back UP, I figured buying a pint on the way home last night, was the safest thing to do;

Actually, I got on the topic of it, because Jeff announced that Graeter's Ice Cream now delivered pints of their creamy goodness all over the country. Besides me, there are a few awesome things that come out of Ohio, and Graeter's is one of them! Their chocolate marshmallow sundaes are pure heaven. And this time of year, there is no need to even consider any flavor other than Pumpkin Pie! When Jeff looked more closely, he realized that Krogers err... King Soopers I mean, (another Ohio company) carries Graeter's in some of their Denver area stores. Sure enough... the store 200 meters from my place of employ carries it! That was the first stop on the way home last night, and they actually have a pretty good selection, including of course Pumpkin Pie. Go get some to try, all the flavors are great. But if you see Peanut Butter Chip, let me know, Jeff has a serious hankerin' for that one.

Randomly flipping through the news today, I came across this photo;

I can honestly say I've never felt closer to some unnamed kid, that I've never met before, in a far-off country... as I did when I saw this photo. It's the holiday season, and I'm feeling generous... I would definitely give my used shoes to that cause.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Calm Before the Storm

With the weather forecast looking miserable for the next several days, I hit up an early ride with Seth and Zac this morning. It was cold... but it's definitely been worse, and it was good to be out and about.

It's amazing how long a 2 and a half hour ride can seem, after several months of cyclocross riding and training. Maybe next weekend, I'll be able to get in another long ride or two, but of course, it's all up to the weather. It would be really nice if I got a chance to get out, since I got the SS cross bike converted over for some fixed gear riding!

I'm hoping the gang all had great rides out at Cross Nats today! The elite guys race tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

There's Something Green and Fury in the Living Room

This past weekend Jessica and I went to pick out a tree for the upcoming Baby Jeebus birthday celebration. We picked out a lovely fragrant one... on that definitely won us over for it's unique Whoville-like top - which we of course decided to leave on. I mean, we didn't want to take away any of it's character!

Alex came over to help decorate, and I helped by making dinner... including one of my new favorites, "Egg-Sog". Soy bean eggnog is pretty tasty! It's much lower viscosity than standard eggnog, which I really don't mind since normal eggnog is often a bit too thick for my taste, and it only has like 40% of the calories, so I can drink a lot more of it, without hating myself. And of course, you can thin it down a good bit further with some Meyers;

To celebrate Alex "neighborsteins" third baby jeebus tree, and her 2nd consecutive one with us, Jessica and I even got her, her very own ornament to hang on the tree

Jessica and Alex celebrated the nearly finished tree

After tree-decorating, we settled down for our tree-building tradition... a viewing of the movie Elf, by far my favorite xmas movie.

It was a busy night, and both Clarence and Jessica succumbed to the comfort of the couch and the toasty fire in the stove.

Can't ya just hear the sleigh bells?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Days

A glimpse at the important, upcoming stuff on my calendar

0.08 more days until I can go home for the evening
3 more days till the first of the new BattleStar Gallactica webisodes
12 more days till the Winter Solstice
25 more days until the first bike race of 2009
107 more days until the opening race of the 2009 Formula1 calendar

In the meantime, can anyone tell me how many Fall Out Boy songs you have to listen to, before you think wearing your girlfriends skinny jeans is cool? I try to avoid as much Fall Out Boy as possible, but I really don't want to take a chance and even inadvertently get close to the limit;

In the Silver & Gold Record last week there was a great story about the UC Denver Police checking out the new T3 Motion scooter at training sessions. Apparently these $9000 electric 3-wheel scooters (Segways with a training "wheel") are the answers to all the colleges problems. Especially in financial times such as these.

I find the claim on the site that these things cost just "10 cents a day to operate". I'd love to see the cost analysis done on that. I'm guessing with their range of just 25 miles on a full charge (and under optimal -re."unrealistic"- conditions) and the $9000 pricetag, that it means "if you run this thing 30 minutes a day, at minimal power, factor in zero maintenance or upkeep costs for 15 years, AND charge it with electricity that was priced in 1964" ...you might be getting closer. As Seth commented, there is an awfully big astrix, after that comment... The "story" if you want to call it that;

"Officer Kinshasa Sayers of the university police at UC Denver takes a spin on a new T3 Motion scooter during a Nov. 25 training session at the Anschutz Medical Campus. The first three-wheeled vehicle to be used by university police, it can reach speeds of 25 miles an hour, travels 25 miles on a fully charged battery and costs $9,000. UCD Police Chief Doug Abraham said the scooter is an economical and eco-friendly alternative to using the department's gas-powered patrol cars on the pedestrian-friendly campus. He said the department has already purchased one T3 and hopes to purchase more with proceeds from the sale of old police cruisers. Photo by Christopher Withrow"

What ever happened to the insane idea of putting cops on bikes that cost $700, are 100 times more efficient, more maneuverable, and improve the physical condition of the officers that use them? I've talked to a lot of bike cops, and I would bet 99% of them loved being out on a bike. Even those that weren't "cyclists".

Last

Sunday was the last cross race of the season for me, and it was also the State Championship race. I've rambled enough about the "lameness" of putting on a category at a state championship race, but arbitrarily deciding that it isn't worthy of official state championship designation - even though the category has been in the race the last 4 years now... so I won't bore you again.

I was happy that the weather was the opposite of traditional cross weather. Since I was racing only one time, I even hesitated filling out the form, thinking maybe I should register for the Open race, just so I could get the 15 extra minutes of racing in. It seemed a shame to not have anymore races for the year, with the weather being so nice! But I signed up for the single speed race. All the friends I bumped into before I even had my bike off the car were raving about the awesome course, so I was anxious to check it out.

Sure enough, the course was pretty solid. Good grassy sections, lots of nice technical turns and power sections, bumps without being too bumpy, a great off-camber entrance to the primary run-up, sand pit, and about 20 more turns on top of all that. I had a decent start, and just floated at the front, to see who was going to be willing to lead it... the legs felt good... just 150 meters in, Kevin looked over, said, "Let's go". I attacked as hard as I could, nearly over-shooting turn one. I was anxious to get into the traffic that the back of the Cat3 field causes, since it always increases the danger, and makes all kinds of confusion for our race, as it's hard to keep track of everyone when it gets crowded... or in the inevitable first lap crashes. By turn two we were already upon the back of the Cat3 field, and shot past 8 of them in the hairpin. I kept it drilled trying to pass at any given chance and put space between myself and the others.

It's such an awesome thing when all the cylinders are firing, and the legs will do anything you ask of them; "Hey legs, let's go pass that next guy."

"Hey brain, don't be a pansy... let's go pass the next THREE guys!"

It was a great course for me, where you could tick off an extra second or two, in all these different little techie bits. Especially once the field opened up a bit, so I could have clear run at things. And extra thanks to Bil shouting encouragement and time splits, and Elgee for "being in my head" and cheering me along. At the end I had a nice cushion... and would have been happy to keep riding!

You can't ask for more than finishing the year off with a win... and taking home a tasty six-pack of SingleTrack Copper Ale from the awesome guys at Boulder Beer.

Only 25 days until the first race of 2009...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snow

Finally, some snow worth mentioning. Granted, I'd rather have it just stay at a balmy 82 degrees every day of the year, rather than the 10 degrees that it was when I rolled out of the house this morning, but whatever. At least it changed up the scenery a bit;

It's time for the cyclocross state championship race this weekend... we'll have to see if the snow sticks around long enough to make things sloppy. Almost makes you wish we had real mud here, rather than this desert mud that just turns to glue and jacks everything up.

But you know what's really fucking lame? I mean, other than putting on a UCI race, and charging not just the elite gang, but EVERYONE more cash dollars (than the norm) to register for the race... which I could totally get, if every other UCI race I checked out, in every region of the country charged their "normal racers" the usual fees, and only upped the charges for the gang sporting UCI licenses... But hey, the customers handle it, and it's admittedly a well done race. But what's also lame is putting on the state championship race, and not helping out the peeps that want to do multiple races on the same day; for those of us obsessive/compulsive racers aren't strong enough to face the idea of not racing again until March. It's 25 clams to line up and race on Sunday (I should probably be thankful for that), but if you want to line up again, it's another full-price shot of $25. I'm sorry, but that's fucking lame. Every other race, road or cyclocross offers up a lovely discount if you enjoy their race enough that you are willing to line up again, and flog yourself some more... it's a beautiful thing.

I was even considering going "marathon style" and maybe lining up for 3 races Sunday... just so I don't even want to race for a couple weeks, which should help me focus on enjoying winter. Another $20 that would have meant for the promoter. But screw it, I ain't even paying $50 to race twice. Sure, it's up to the promoter to determine prices, and I'm thankful for promoters that put on races (and YES, I have worked to help put on races, so I understand the work involved), and you could argue that it's because it's States... but really, it comes down to what the market will bear. I suppose I'll race since it's the only game in town on Sunday, but I won't be a repeat customer, and at least to me, that will send a tiny statement to the promoter. It's a bummer really.

And in the same vein... the ACA really needs to step it up. I mean, would it really be so much more money and work to make the Single Speed race a State Championship event? I mean jeebus... we have every other damned category imaginable, in our seeming quest to give everyone a medal. The winners of the single speed race usually finish ahead of the majority of the Cat3 field; after giving them a 1 minute head start, and usually passing 50+ racers on their way up. You can race and win the Single Speed race at Nationals. Heck, there is even a Single Speed "World Championship"! Sure, that one's mostly a party, but everyone is having a damned good time (isn't that what cross is about?), and last year at least 3 of the top cross pros in the country showed up for the race.

And how about just plain "why not"!? I mean, one of the main reasons I never hesitate to line up in the single speed race, is because every guy and gal on the line is friendly and happy, and out to race as hard as they can, while having a great time. There are pros down to overweight out of shape old guys, and yet no one is busy bitching that there are "former pros in their open category" or "someone is sandbagging". Just line up, ask your neighbor what gear he's running, (so you know whether you should attack him in the power sections or the fast spinny sections) race, and then pat one another on the back after the finish line.

I don't think anyone would even care about the silly jacket... the racers just want to be seen as a legitimate category and not second-class citizens... or something.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's a Quest!

Yesterday, while out on my quest to Kill Grundig Darkcloud, in the the Stonetalon Mountains, I came across this Mage...

He looked really familiar, as if I had seen him elsewhere... perhaps it was that time in the Western Plaguelands? Or perhaps it was just an episode of Frisky Dingo... can you find him here?

Ah yes... that's where it was. After figuring that out, and being able to level-up because of my mad skills; I pulled out my iPwn so that I could play a merry tune on my Ocarina App. Joyous was I, to realize there are still no shortage of amicable companions from Hyrule, with whom I could play our mirthful tunes!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hey Santa

It's December 2nd... Seriously, it's way too early to be "that guy".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Catch-up

I decided to start the holiday weekend off by trying the Trappists Rochefort "8"... the little brother to the "10" that I had earlier in the week. While it was quite tasty, it was at least 2 steps away from the 10, and overall, not really worth the minor savings to the wallet. Spend the few extra coins and get the (REALLY) good stuff.

The first thing I was thankful for on Thursday, was the ability to sleep in as late as I wanted. After accomplishing that, Jessica and I were on the road, traveling to Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily, the travel consisted of just driving down the mountain to meet up some friends for dinner at the Boulder Cork. We had scheduled a meeting with Jesse, Brit, Alex, Jeff, and Jill; a big ol' Thanksgiving feast that someone else had to prepare, and then clean up afterwards! It was as tasty as it looked, and another good bit about eating out, is that they only bring you one plate, so it's much harder to keep going back for more until you feel like you are going to explode.

Good people there at the Boulder Cork... being a steakhouse they don't have much of a vegan menu for good ol' Alex, even being in Boulder. But they were happy to oblige Alex, and made a special plate up just for her, sans animal product;

Alex was away from the table while we ordered dessert, so we picked out a very special dessert just for her... again, no animal product, and again, the kitchen was more than happy to oblige;

After dinner there was only one reasonable thing we could do... work off the calories with a heated game of bowling.

My technique was flawless;

As witnessed by Jeff, and his look of disbelief at my other-worldly score of a solid 142 pins (I didn't score that much in the next two games combined).

Jessica shows us her balls;

After a solid workout like bowling, everyone was ready to go home and sleep off the rest of the meal. The rest of the weekend we mostly spent at home, hanging out, relaxing on the off time, and stoking the fire. The weather outside was less than ideal, and the trainer was the primary method of tiring myself out enough, that I could actually sleep at night, after a day of napping and television.

Sunday evening we had another tasty Thanksgiving meal with some of Jessica's family, and I tried the Maredsous Tripel to wrap up the weekend. It looked pretty good out of the bottle (minus the overly-foamy head I managed to pour), but was far, far down the list of my favorites. Or, just plain not on my list of favorites... at all.

And now it's somehow time to get back to work, with no settling thoughts other than the distant idea of baby jeebus break... a seemingly endless 3 weeks away.

Time for Obama to get back to work too... he needs to create some more change by shuffling around the same old people into different jobs in the same old government with the same old ideas.