Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CDNM Presents: Rock Ripoff?

First off, I must say again how cool it is to have my own acronym, it suits me well.

Now, allow CDNM to provide a rock community service:

Bad Girlfriend by Theory of a Deadman and Fire Woman by The Cult are - we'll say - very similiar songs.....

If you are my daughter, or anybody's daughter under the age of 18, DON'T open the link. I mean-it-now-skidaddle, go-on scram (kids thesedays).

...On the other hand, if you are my wife, or somebody's wife or girlfriend or - you know - a friendlyfriend (and you are not easily offended) then it (or don't, whatever) and take notes (or don't, that's fine too).

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

My opinion? If they BOTH ROCK what's the harm in a little sampling?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


"Man who walks on thin ice might as well dance." - Confucius

"...or bike." - Brian

Despite the arrival of that incorrigible Cold Miser coating everything with ice

I was able to get out and enjoy some biking and hiking over the holiday. Friday I headed out to the Center to see if Denman's was ridable. Unfortunately the warm weather had turned the snow into a wet tire-trapping slog, so off through Water Works park I went on the paved trail. The Great Midwestern is still officially closed from the flood damage, so I used the gravel (it was a muddy, peanut buttery mess) behind the airport and most of the Ritual Ride loop for the dance card of the day. I hung out in Walnut Woods for awhile, just enjoying the fact it was the last week of December. I finished with a little over 20 miles.

Saturday I had some making up to do with Trail Dog for leaving him in the dust Friday. We just headed out to Easter for a little hike. Much to my surprise the girls agreed to go with me. Everything was absolutely coated in ice. It was kinda slow going but satisfying none-the-less.

Today I headed out with Corey for another ride. He refused to believe my assertion that Denman's was toast so we headed out from his house by McCrae Park, to see if it was rideable. Well, uhm, no....probably not seein' there's this HUGE ICE DAM(N) blocking everything. I hope Denman's isn't flooded (again).

George Flagg Parkway was (as it always seems to be) flooded - this time with ICE. Weird.

Coming back toward downtown Corey spotted this HUGE bald eagle. If you click on the picture it will blow it up. He was perched waaay up there just waiting some some unleashed little chihuahua to toddle on by....

There was lots of skating rink riding today. I need tire chains.

Couldn't stop taking pictures of the ICE DAM(N). We did 10 slow going miles.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trail Dog Forages Indiscriminately

I came home to this:

Oh, um, yeah.....'bout that.....I, um, tried to stop them --- squirrels, a mad pack of squirrels. I think they were hopped up on walnuts or something. You shoudda seen the look in their eyes.

Soooo, anyway......


Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's a Womble?

I don't know where the name comes from but one such "Womble" is a stretch of epic singletrack mountain bike trail that snakes its way across 35 miles of Arkansas ridgeline in the Ouachita Mountains.

Currently plans are cookin' for a slew of Iowa boys to descend upon said ribbon of dirt sometime early spring. Last year I was part of a small group that headed to north central Arkansas for a race/tour event known as Syllamo's Revenge. It was wicked fun two days of riding in the uber rocky, killer steep Ozark Mountains. You can read more about that trip here. I'm stoked to be heading back to AR but I think this time I'll go ahead and skip the smashing-my-face-on-a-log part.

The Womble is supposed to be much smoother, flowy and generally more benevolent than Syllamo. Most accounts say some of the hills are killer, but nothing that a solid intermediate rider couldn't handle. Sounds good to me. Some of the guys are talking about bikepacking the route, meaning you rig up all your camping equipment and everything else you need (like food) on your bike and adventure into the brush. That sounds more like work and less like fun to me. I'm not against bikepacking at all, in fact it sounds like it might be fun to try, but for a great trail, like the Womble, I'm much more interested in having my unfettered bike whooshing down the trail. Plus, I'm really going to work on dropping some poundage over the winter, so just loading my bike back up with weight after that doesn't sound good. There are enough campgrounds and resorts, along with lots of options to loop back off the trail on a forest road, that I'm not worried about finding a compromise.

Here's a video I found of the trail. The one I wanted to link doesn't seem to work on my blog, so this one is an AETV sorta promotional vid. Its got some bike footage along with some interviews. Watching the host newbie struggle along is a little painful, but whatever. The second one is more to my liking. Its a helmet cam vid. Unfortunately its not very good quality, but there's a sweet trail dog booking along with them. Helmet cam vids of great trails are a bitter sweet thing. I really enjoy watching them, but at the same time its a reminder that you're not riding there or anywhere else.

This blogger does a nice write up of Syllamo, Womble and the Ouachita (which we might ride a part of too). I came across his site over a year ago when I was researching a ride down Haleakala (I'll have to tell that story sometime). I bookmarked his site because he's been so many places and he takes great pictures and writes some compelling commentary. He's a pretty accomplished rider and says Syllamo is a real booty kicker. Reading that made me feel pretty good because I was hanging in there on the 50 mile Revenge right up to the point I cracked my mug (well, there-is-that). Come to think of it, I hung in there even after denting my grill, but then I got sorta lost....yeah, gonna skip the getting lost part on the Womble too. This guy also does a nice job of documenting Wombloisty as well.


Topo profile

Is my mountain bike OCD showing yet?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bike and Hike

Set out yesterday for a bike ride in the unusually warm 40+ degrees. We were hoping Sycamore would still be frozen enough to make a ride out to Sycamore Access, and then if we needed to we would ride the paved trail back.

The trail was in GREAT shape, much of it being packed down by the 50-75 runners in the recent Sycamore 8 trail run.

Not much to tell about the ride, we rolled out and back on the dirt/snow around 16 miles total. Corey's bike was happy with the outing. The feeling was mutual.

Sunday I took the dog for a hike out at Thomas Mitchell Park. This neat little park outside of Altoona has fishing, camping and a buncha other stuff like nature trails. The trail system is pretty small with only a couple of short loops, but there are alternative paths that allow for quite a bit of good trekking up and down ridges and ravines.

At first I thought it might be a wasted trip because the main paths offer a couple of descent hills, but nothing all that interesting, but after exploring a couple of the lesser used paths, I changed my mind. We did about 3 miles it was fun.

Right after snapping this picture I saw a HUGE owl and a hawk. Kinda weird seeing them close together.

Mr. Devotie, RIP, one of the trails ends at his grave.

The weather was the other interesting point of the day. When I stepped out to get the morning paper I was pleasantly surprised. "Its just like spring out there." I told Jackie. By the time I got around to getting out the door the mercury had dropped 25-30 degrees. Good thing I had a second windbreaker in the car from the bike ride. I needed it. I parked next to the fishing pond and the wind whipping off the frozen ice was wicked. Wind chill? 1 degree. I mean really, one? why don't you just go ahead and make it zero. One lousy degree isn't doing anybody any good. Once you got into the trees, and got the body temp up, it wasn't bad.

Here is a couple of pictures from last Sunday's hike at Brown's Woods. Trail Dog walks on frozen waterfalls, don't try to stop him.

Maybe the best picture I've ever taken.

The water was frozen around the fallen tree. It was making a babbling sound like a mountain stream or something. It was quite peaceful.

Good hike.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

My name is Brian and I like toys.

I don't wanna brag, but I've been really good this year.

I know you're probably really busy right now, so if you want to hand off this request to your Head Elf, I think her name is Jackie, that would be fine with me.

I'm a team player.

I know your policy is to rely on a relative measure of naughty versus nice, so I thought I would compile a quick list to help you determine my fate.

1. I gotta a job and I usually go there when I'm supposed to.
2. I got 2 kids and I do good Dad stuff.
3. I walk the dog and he likes it.
4. I haven't thrown any fits this year, drunken or otherwise.
5. I'm a courteous driver most of the time.
6. I haven't kicked the cat at all this year (or any other year).
7. Number of extra martial affairs? Zero.
8. I recycle.
9. One time, a squirrel ran out in front of my car, I swerved.
10. I gave Cyclone football more time and money, even though they hurt me.
11. I maintained reasonably good hygiene and contracted no communicable diseases.
12. I mow the grass, even when I know its just gonna grow right back.
13. I said, "Yes Dear, you are correct." the exact right number of times.
14. I don't gamble - much.
15. I'm good at making lists.

Alls Ralphie wants is an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.

Good luck Ralphie, all I want in return for my good behavior is for this:

Its just one little bike. Its got bigger wheels than the bikes I have now.

I need that.

Its paint glows in the dark. GLOWS IN THE DARK! I need that too.

Very Sad Update:

Head Elf Jackie said "no".

Not fair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mission: Craft Store

When I went to work this morning I had no idea I would be appointed to the Elect Allison as Class Secretary Committee, but indeed I was tapped without my knowledge.

My first (and hopefully only) task: Procure poster making material.

Okay, so off to the craft store after work for this staffer. I'm comfortable in a craft store like a duck is happy in the desert. Its not that I don't like these joints, Lord knows I've logged enough time in them due to my scrapbook maniac wife, its more that shopping for anything is just not my forte.

Shopping in a craft store might be even tougher because there's all kinds of do-dads and thingies to distract you. Also, the specific thing your looking for is hard to find because there's so many derivations of everything. Oh, you want poster paper? Well that's right here amongst the drawing paper, drafting paper, canvases, fabric boards, foam squares, dry erase and magnetic boards.

Sure it is.

That, plus the fact that I'm probably the only XY chromosome in the place makes me a dry duck. I eventually found the right stuff. Wanting to be a good staffer I bought some stencils and other supplies as well.

When I went to pay the guy in front of me explained to the clerk that she had accidentally charged him $66.69 for 2 rolls of wrapping paper and he didn't realize the mistake until he was in the parking lot. She knew right away what she had done, but struggled a bit with coming up with a solution. She got out a calculator, there were calculations and recalculations....She eventually decided on a course of action that would credit his debit card the difference between this and that.

She had his receipt and, at some point, several (seemed like too many) other receipts. It was complicated. Eventually he swipes his card and gets a credit back. The clerk called the manager and explained the process to her, that seemed a little after-the-fact, but whatever.

The manager said she probably should've done X instead of Y. The clerk assured her it would be fine. I wasn't so sure.

The man got his credit but wait, its not enough...more calculations....something about taxes....the second credit finally makes him financially whole again, all is good.

Then she goes into the cash drawer, with the manager still standing there, and starts counting out dough for his refund....I thought this wasn't right, but there might have been something in the advanced financial transaction that I was missing. As she was about to hand over the green the man says, "Isn't this on my card?" Giggling..."Oh I'm glad you said that." She takes the cash and sets it next to the register and goes three registers over to get him another copy his receipt.

He is off and finally....its my turn.

I set my supplies on the counter, they now seem meager in light of recent events. She totals up 4 poster boards, two stencils, a small plastic tsquare and a pack of gum. She rings it all up...there's a pause...she's talking and giggling to herself.

I look at the register readout screen, it says $314.66.

I'm thinking that's pretty high.

She knows what she did and fixes it immediately. She was so nice and bubbly that I didn't even get frustrated waiting for her. I just considered it a little free entertainment.

After too much walking around aimlessly looking for the right thing and too long waiting to pay for it, I'm on my way. I deliver my hard earned supplies to the candidate. If she wins I am definitely expecting a high level cabinet position to come my way.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hello Detailed World

Thanks to the miracle of laser eye surgery I can read street signs, house numbers and all kinds of useful and useless other things. The Burger King sign down the street from my house never looked so vibrant.

Driving home from my day-after exam this morning I was reading car models off bumpers, the sides of plumbing vans and strip mall store signs. What a world - I guess I didn't realize people wrote so much stuff on things.

Because I already had some significant night halo affect (lights blur into blobs) they recommended a custom computer guided treatment. To do this they needed to take pictures of the inside of my eyeballs. It took awhile because I have naturally small pupils. I also have long eyelashes (that's right ladies) that kept getting in the way. The surgeon's nurse said she might have to come in to help me with my eyelashes. Not sure what that was all about, but I didn't like the sounda it. Thankfully they didn't need to bring in the eyelash muscle. Getting the right pictures did take over an hour though.

The procedure itself took maybe 15 minutes. It is kinda surreal. First, comes the machine that cuts a corneal flap. A big suction cup comes down and latches on to your eyeball. This is not a pleasant sensation. They said you will feel a "little pressure" much like the dentist told me I'd feel a "little pressure" right before he clamped his hand across my forehead and climbed on the side of the chair to pry my wisdom tooth outta my head. As it turns out, even a little pressure is more pressure than you want directly on your eyeball. I wouldn't call it painful really, but it is definitely uncomfortable and freaky. Everything goes dark for a bit but its over quickly.

Then on to the laser. You're looking up at some bright lights including a flashing orange light surrounded by a white ring of light. They clamp your eyelid open which isn't something you want to do for kicks, but isn't as bad as it sounds. The white ring of light distorts as the surgeon moves the flap. It kinda looks like your jumping to lightspeed aboard the Millennium Falcon (and no, ladies, that's not geeky).

The laser makes a loud snapping sound and the gasses stink, I could see how it could panic some people. The surgeon continually talked in a quiet, reassuring voice that reminded me of Bob Ross and his happy little trees; I liked that.

The orange light you're supposed to focus on actually comes into focus as the surgeon wipes off my eye. Whoa, that was cool.

You're instructed to go home and take a nap. They caution you that the eyes will significantly tear up. Boy, they weren't kidding. I was crying like I was watching the end of Field of Dreams (hey, Tough Guy, if you don't shed a tear at the end of that flick you just might be a sociopath).

Apparently I was nearsighted in one eye and far sighted in the other with a pretty significant astigmatism. No wonder I had crazy eyestrain and frequent headaches. Now its 20/20 all the way.

Look out world, peek-a-boo I see you.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gettin' Lasered Tomorrow

I'm having my eyeballs fixed tomorrow. Some people might not know it, because I don't wear glasses, but I don't have the best vision. The Optometrist, who couldn't have been a day over 25, said it had something to do with the aging process, he also said something like, "as we grow older..." Wait just a minute, Sonny, I'm not that old.

It reminded me of one time on the bike trail last year. I was just finishing up fixing a flat when a fellow (youthful, exuberant) cyclist rolled up and asked, "Is everything ok, Sir?" He sounded so urgently concerned for the old man I wanted to tell him, "No, I'm fine Laddy. I've just pushed the button on my Life Call pendant, so help will be arriving shortly."

So I'm under the laser tomorrow. I'm excited to get it done; to be able to read street signs, sports scores and who knows what else will be cool. My biggest hope is that it reduces my headaches. I don't get as many killer ones as I used to, but I'm still a pretty frequent headacher - in fact I have one right now.

The surgeon has done somewhere around 12,000 of these deals so she should be pretty well practiced. I just hope she doesn't use sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads for the procedure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

First Snowy Hike Featuring New Dog, Old Dog and an Unidentified Chuck

I had to take off work early to pick up Katie from her Leadership Council thing at school. Apparently the honorable council debated on the appropriate date for the 7th Grade dance (but its not really a dance and NO DAD I'm not going to actually dance at the not-a-dance). They picked February 13th, that's Friday the 13th. I'm not too sure about letting my darling princess even attend a not-a-dance dance on a horror show date like that. No Sir.

Anywho, since I was off work with plenty of daylight left and the temps were relatively warm I took the opportunity to get the dog out on another hike at Easter. Right off the bat we spot a potential critter in the trail. See 'em way up there? Looks like a possum.

It was actually a Blue Plastic Chuck, which is just like a Woodchuck, only instead of wood they're made of blue plastic. They're not indigenous to this area so this was a pretty keen find. Don't worry about me getting this close, they're friendly.

I started a new workout routine yesterday (more on that another day) and my legs are SORE so we took it EASY, but we did do some off trail trekking. Its pretty cool, there are some old trails I cleared last year that are apparently still being lightly used by somebody as well as a few deer or other critters.

This bridge is on the other side of the road in Ewing Park. Its significant to me because this is where our old dog, Jake, blockaded 3 year old Katie. She had toddled her way out in front of us and Jakers was havin' none of it. He layed down across the front of the bridge until we got ahold of her for the crossing. Just one of many cool moments with him.

Saying he was a great dog doesn't quite cut it. Years later I still miss the oversized cotton ball.

Captian is a good dog too, just not 1/10th as smart, but dats ok the world needs mutts of dubious intellagunce too.