Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday II

So I change the Home Page pic to recognize one of the TdF climbs that was part of the stage yesterday (Saturday 7/19).  The Col de Lautaret is a long grind at about a 4% grade.  I rode it in 2009 when I was on my first trip with 2.

The Home Page pic is actually on top of the Galibier which is the extra special eight kilometers...UP!!!...that they could make you do if they wanted to use that particular route.  Which is what I did, and was the whole purpose of the 2009 trip.  Yesterday, the stage came from the West (Grenoble) whereas I rode from the East.  They ended yesterday's stage South of Briancon (where I started) on another big climb.  So while they didn't do the Galibier, they had an equally difficult summit to make at the end of their ride.

When I made it to the top of the Lautaret, 2 was ready with a sandwich that she had negotiated with the proprietor of the little store at this intersection.  (She was a couple Euro short and had to convince him that I needed some energy.  She was right!)  This pic was me at the side of the rode before hitting those last 8 clicks to the Galibier.  Talk about a death march!

Congrats to 2.  It looks like she has a buyer for her house in Davenport.  Now she has to pack...and find a permanent place in IC.  @srh4 and I drove over to IC on Friday evening to look at a place on which 2 wanted another opinion.  The market there is different because of the university.  Nicer, less-than-pricey places seem to go quickly.  Good luck with that search, Kiddo.

I gave 1 and 1.1 recognition in that earlier posting.  You guys are Daughter and Son-in-Law of the Day.  Congratulations!  Lots of water under the bridge since that day at St. Thomas.  You have much to be thankful for...good health...a wonderful family...a bright future.  Life is good.  Drink deeply.

I don't think that I had ever done the math...or if I had, it was lost in the Sometimer's depths.  But today is also the anniversary of the moon landing...or the staging of the moon landing if you are among the Doubting Thomas's.  45 years ago. 

Sadly, I remember what I was doing that day (American Legion baseball in Moline or Galesburg).  Which means I was old enough at the time to have those things register in the gray matter of the frontal lobe.  Which also means that I am way too old to do any more math.  Anyway, here's to you, Neil Armstrong, and all who made that happen!  You are all American heroes.

The countdown to California-Tahoe is hitting warp speed.  There's no way I will get done all that I need to do before oh-dark-hundred Thursday.  I recommend that we all start with the written checklists now.

Hope it is a good week in your neighborhood.  Thanks for reading.



Happy Anniversary to 1 and 1.1!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I'm declaring today as Mt. Rose Day on the blog.  According to the memory wall on Maplecrest, I did the Reno-to-the-Summit ride on this date in 2010.  We have pictures to prove it.  Blogger limits my ability to place comments with each photo, so, you're on your own to interpret the images.  By the time I finally arrived at the top of the climb, my audience had become completely bored.

(I think this may have been my third or fourth time up Mt. Rose.  Each time I had made the climb, I had declared that that was the last time for that nonsense.  But after a couple of years, the memory was dulled enough to have another go at it.)

This trip was slow death march for me, but a walk in the park compared to the next time up the hill after 07282012.  That latter effort was my final time up the long side of the mountain.  For sure.  As Tahoe Phil would say, I'm a slow learner.

I'll be recognizing the Galibier (2009) and the Tourmelet (2011) climbs on separate days in August and September.  If the Catholics can have holy days of obligation, LtPC can have Mountain Memory Days.

Speaking of mountains, Rule #1 of Cycling claimed a second favorite of this year's TdF when Alberto Contador went down hard to the deck yesterday on a descent and had to abandon the race.  There has been a ton of crashes this year, some caused by the rain-slickened roads, others by rider mistakes.  Lose concentration for a heart beat, and the next thing you know, there's no rubber between you and the pavement.  There'll be more victims before they get to Paris.

2 notes on Twitter that this is The Winniferous's birthday.  I'm not sure I knew that factoid.  But 2 knows all there is to know about The W, so we'll give our favorite cairn terrier the distinction of  Woman's Best Friend of the Day here on the blog.  She'll just have to share honors with Mt. Rose.

This shot of 1.01 was taken at the rest station on Mt. Rose as the fam waited for me to get the ride done.  She looks real interested in the proceedings, eh?

The shot at the lookout was actually taken a couple of days later as we did our standard family-photo-shoot upon departure from Tahoe.

In other news, I plan only to watch Jeter's first at-bat tonight in the ASG.  I hardly know any of the players these days, other than the big names, and a few from the StL squad.  With the latest visit from the Polar Vortex, the fans had better dress for Fall-like conditions at Target Field.

Nike has done a pretty cool commercial in honor of Jeter.  You need to play it and replay a time or two it to identify all of the people who they have tipping their hat to The Captain.

(Daddy was who taught me to tip my hat to people out of respect.  And when I say "taught me", it was by his actions, not in a sit-down lesson.  I've been doing that more lately as a way to acknowledge someone whom I may not know, but whom I want to send a small greeting.  He always wore a hat, a business Fedora or Urban hat(!) for town and church, a ball cap on the farm or at a game.  Maybe I got the habit from him, eh? )

OK.  Enough of this hodge podge (olio for you NYT crossword fans).


Sunday, July 13, 2014


Looks like we have a pretty good day here in the QCA.  Rain, heat and humidity yesterday.  We'll see if the Lt. can suck it up and get in a few miles this afternoon.

I'm giving Daughter (and Son-in-Law) of the Day to 3 and 3.1 for the good show last night over by Iowa City.  3 was one of the attendants and 3.1 was the officiant.  (Hello, RevKev!)  The setting was outside at a winery between IC and Cedar Rapids.  The weather was threatening during the ceremony, but other than a few rumbles of thunder and some distant lightening, the proceedings were completed before the rain came in. 

The reception was inside in a building that had multiple garage-style doors on both sides that could create an open-air environment in the right weather.  For last night, the doors remained closed and the A/C made for a very comfortable gathering place.  I'm guessing that the owners of the winery built the building expressly for these types of functions.  With all the university students in the area, there has to be a big demand for wedding reception facilities.  The business of weddings is a BIG business.

The wedding did give me a chance to re-connect with my pal Patrick.  He and I spent quite a bit of time together two years ago at the Tahoe wedding.  We took this selfie last night as the evening was coming to a close.  He's headed to the Land of Large Insects (aka Wisconsin) for a week of Boy Scouts Jamboree camping with his son Sam.  Hmmm.  I'll take the Grand Central Westin, fo' sure.

Not that the red wine at the reception was all that bad, but generally, I prefer the vintage year to be printed on the bottle.  I actually queried the gal serving the wine and she admitted working there for a couple of years, but
she wasn't able to give me an answer with certainty on my observation.

As I reported on my Twitter feed, I played golf down at Geneva on Friday with my pal Ron and two other friends.  It had been almost three weeks since my last round, and my game was something less than inspiring.  But there was a beer cart girl out this time, so all was not lost!  And we needed the diversion as we got caught behind two slow-playing groups and we had to wait on every tee and for every second shot.  Bummer.  As 4 would say, #bloodymary!

But the big story for me was the impact on the course from the storms earlier in the week.  Several places along the creek that bisects the course were either still very wet, or had sand/dirt eroded in (or out) of those low spots on the course.  And the bridges across the creek showed evidence that water was well over the decks, and in a couple of cases, rails on the bridges were damaged.  They had closed the course for 2 and a half days to clean things up.  No wonder all of the local rivers have been out of their banks.

In another example of poor customer service, I took Margret in to the local Ford dealer (where she's been before) Friday morning before heading to the course.  Regular service work, and a guy had said he thought my break lights were on the fritz.  (Sorry to all those Fritz's out there for that racist comment.)  Anyway, the guy checking her in was like a moron.  As though it was a complicated task.  I assured him that I didn't need the car that day (although when I made the appointment, the gal assured me that the work would be done on Friday). And then, even though it had started to sprinkle as I was leaving the shop, no one inquired about a possible need for a ride. 

I actually stopped over at the dealership Saturday morning when I headed out on my bike ride.  The service desk greeter confirmed that they hadn't even started on the car.  And I still haven't received a phone call providing a status report.  And these are the same people who call three days after you pick up your car to see if they can set-up the next service appointment.  Somebody needs a do-over on their customer service training.

Survey.  Does anyone in the Normal World care that Lebron is returning to Cleveland?

I'm going to try to get three entries posted this week.  Not sure why I haven't been able to add to this tome in recent weeks.  Travel, MCSC and knowing that lots of the fam have been on the road with much more exciting tales to tell on their own than those related here have all led to the dearth of my creative enterprise.  I can do better.

Hope its a good week in your neighborhood.


Thursday, July 10, 2014


So I'm already past half-way into another week and am just getting to a second entry for the week.  I gotta do better with my schedule.  Too bad I have to work for a living.

I've spent some thinking time while on the bike this week trying to decide if this is the official Empty Nest point in my life.  With 2 taking the new job in Iowa City, all of the girls are officially located out of this area code.  I'm guessing that there were some times when 2 was finishing up in Norman that they all had at least temporary residences out of town, but this may be the first time that all of their permanent locations are away from Hometown, USA.

The quick visit that I made to IC on Tuesday night reminded me of how connected the fam has been to Iowa City over the last 40 years.  Actually, it goes back earlier as a couple of my Top Ten memories from my teen years involved Iowa City.  My first college football game was at Kinnick when Daddy took me to see the Hawkeyes play ND (I might have been 12 at the time).  And my first appearance in a varsity high school basketball game came on the floor of the old fieldhouse my freshman year.  They had had me "dress" for the tournament team after having lead the soph squad in scoring during the regular season.  I got in some court time at the end of the regional game that we lost to Cedar Rapids Washington on that old court.  Very cool memory.

(I also hitch-hiked to IC from ND a couple of times to see the high school GF.  Yeah...those are trips that kids really shouldn't make these days.)

The TdF and the World Cup both had note-worthy days yesterday.  On the Tour, there was mass carnage in the peloton as they road on several sections of cobblestone roads in Northern the rain.  Last year's winner went down a couple of times and had to abandon.  The stage was entirely about survival.  Some didn't.  And in the WC, you had another important game decided on PK's.  The Argentine goal keeper guessed better than the Dutchman.  Prior to the PK exercise, they played for two hours and the two teams had a combined five shots on goal!  Riveting excitement.

The broadcast of the TdF on NBC Sports TV makes a concerted effort not to mention Lance, or even show his image on film clips.  I wonder if he will try a day or two of RAGBRAI.

Armstrong is involved in numerous lawsuits brought by people who were "wronged" by his doping habits.  Among the plaintiffs is the US government, claiming that Lance defrauded the US Postal Service by the drug use during their period of sponsorship of his team.  Like I have said in the past, I'm not a huge LA fan, but I'm thinking that the USPS got their advertising monies-worth while sponsoring the team.  I mean, the ratings for the TdF here in the USA at that time were huge.  US Postal was the reason.  If the Postal Service was doing the sponsorship for the publicity, they got their message across.  The disclosure a few years after-the-fact that LA was found to have doped doesn't seem to have muted the message when it aired.  But the lawyers now smell blood in the water. 

I am now in my 25th year of cycling...and on my fourth generation bike.  I figure that I've done maybe 25,000 to 30,000 miles of riding over that period of time.  Probably a few more as there were some years that I was a little more committed to mileage rather than my more recent years' focus of time-in-the-saddle rather than total distance covered.  Regardless, the bike has allowed me to keep up with a fitness regimen that allows for a healthy life.  Its a, "Keep peddlin', baby" program.

3 gets the nod as Daughter of the Day.  After a business side-trip to San Antonio earlier this week, she's now in Iowa City for the wedding of 3.1's sister on Saturday.  Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, Kiddo.

And finally, as hard to believe as it may seem, today is the four-year anniversary of the full-family reunion at Lake Tahoe in 2010.  Really, the day at the beach, the extended photo session by RevKev, and the coolness everyone being there all seem like just a while back, certainly not years.

All for today.  Make it a good Thursday in your neighborhood.


Sunday, July 06, 2014


Hard to believe that it has been a full week since I've put up an entry.  Busy times.

The visit from the Dornie's was a big success.  I'd say that the Twitter pic's that got posted pretty well sum up the weekend.  Here are a few others.

2 has driven over to Iowa City today to set-up house-keeping, at least temporarily, with a gal in her same office building who has space for a tenant in her condo North of town. @srh4 took her car along with more stuff.  The Davenport house is on the market.  We all hope for a quick sale at a decent price.  I've got The Winniferous for a couple days while 2 gets settled.  I'll be making a trip over to IC mid-week to drop W off, maybe on 1/2 price pizza night at The Airliner! 

The Tour de France started England, of course.  The big news out of the first stage was that one of the highest profile sprinters, Mark Cavendish of England, crashed on the mass-finish as he tried desperately to win on the home soil, and suffered a shoulder injury that ended his Tour.  These guys work for months (years, really) to prepare for the three weeks of racing, and he's gone on Day One.  Rule #1 of Cycling can be cruel.

Cycling here in Scott County, Iowa has been pretty good recently.  My pal Pete had scheduled himself for a century ride yesterday (a 100-miler) to keep his string of months going where he had done at least one 100-mile-day.  I had no such interest, but was willing to meet him in DeWItt for breakfast at The Sunrise Cafe.  The fly in the ointment was that local flooding on a river just North of town had closed our regular route.  Long story short, the detour that Pete said was an extra 6 miles, was in excess of 10, and I ended up do at least 10 or 15 more miles than what I thought was on my agenda.  Whatever, if it doesn't kill ya', it'll make ya' stronger, right?  (Pete got his ride done, so the streak is at 19 months.  Strong stuff.)

I had been thinking for several weeks about adding a refrigerator to my garage to enhance the Maplecrest Social Club experience.  I pulled the trigger on Thursday in anticipation of the BBQ here that night.  A fridge in a garage is not that radical, I know, and many of my friends are so set-up.  But all of those guys are dealing with attached garages.  But I get a personal kick of that new little feature to the MCSC. 

I bought the fridge at the new Menard's Home Center in Davenport.  I think that that store is as big as anything this side of a Costco.  I was actually a little concerned about finding my way out of the place.  And they sell everything!  I wonder if they ever have an accurate count of the store's inventory?  And what do they consider an acceptable percentage-rate for shrinkage (theft/loss/mistakes/etc.)?  I'm betting that we're talking about easily thousands of dollars per month.  Controls in that size of a store has to be scary, regardless of how many cameras that they have in operation.

The Mississippi River has been out of its banks much of this week.  If you Google "Davenport, Iowa" for news, you'll likely get one of the pictures of the downtown riverfront covered with flooding.  The minor-league stadium is fully surrounded, but they have the thing now protected with berms and walls such that they continue to play games.

I have had the thought while on the bike several times recently that football season starts next month.  I really find that amazing.  Both the pro's and the colleges are almost never out of the news.  After the Super Bowl, you get all of the reports on the NFL draft, then you have Sping Football on campuses, and the constant stories on recruiting, arrests, and when is a story on Johnny Football not news?  I'm betting that my Pal Dr. Doug will be calling me soon to set our annual "meeting" over in IC for a Hawkeye game against one of the early-season Directional U opponents.

Margret was a hit with the kids.  We did short rides around the block in Century Heights with the Dornie's all in the back seat.  (There was room for more in the back seat, obviously.)   I gunned the engine a few times with quick, little,"revs", and their reactions were great.  When 1.01 called Margret, my "new" car, we described how Margret was really a much older car.  And 2014 is Margret's Golden Anniversary. 1964 to 2014.  Do the math.  (Although many cars for 1964 would have hit the show rooms in the Fall of 1963, so Margret could actually be 51.)

I have not embraced the World Cup.  1.1 and I were talking last night about the absurdity of games of this import (Netherlands - Costa Rica) being decided by penalty kicks.  Defending a PK is basically guesswork on the part of the goal keeper.  They play for 2-plus hours, and then they leave it up to guesswork?  C'mon, FIFA!  Even the NFL does it better in OT.

I was kinda glad to see Jeff Samardzija get out of Chicago.  He's the ND football player who turned down the NFL for baseball a few years back, playing parts of two seasons in Des Moines.  He's become a legit major league starter, but has been having little success with the hapless Cubs.  The A's and Mr. Moneyball (Billy Bean) have decided to roll the dice this year and go for the whole shebang by trading some top prospects (for the future) for producers for now.  (Good news early...Jeff won in his first Oakland game today.)

The upcoming week here is the PGA Tour stop...The John Deere Classic.  Deere & Company has done a nice job supporting this event, and they get pretty good fields to participate.  Steve Stricker, Jordon Speith and Zack Johnson are the last three champions, and are all top-tier players.  The Chairman of the volunteer, not-for-profit organization that handles all of the support functions for the tournament is a "regular" at Dunn's Coffee.  She is an officer with a local bank and is well-connected on both sides of the river.  Does a great job.  I have tickets for a couple of days to luxury boxes, but I'm taking a pass this year.  Too hot, too many people, and too little top-shelf wine on the grounds.

Plenty for today.  Hope its a good week in your neighborhood.  Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 29, 2014


Good to be back on Maplecrest.  The weekend up in Minnesota was fun, but its always good to be back home.

We'll make 1.01 and 1.02 Grandchildren of the Day for entertaining the Lt. for the weekend.  Other than a couple of small "episodes", they both did well during my visit.  They weren't so keen on a departure pic, but it makes publication regardless.

 That car in the photo is one from my pal Roy's stable.  Actually, it was that car's predecessor that I drove occasionally several years ago before I bought my first Buick and the BEATER war my primary car.  If I had a trip to KC or C-town for business in those couple of years, I would borrow the Caddy from Roy as I didn't want to rely on the Taurus. 

This model is a hot rod!  Cadillac CTS-V.  A 6-speed manual transmission with a Corvette engine boosting out around 500 horsepower!  Step on the gas a be prepared to go.  Really a fun ride.  (Roy was driving it last week, just to give it some use.  I asked to let me take it for the weekend, and got the answer I knew he'd give.)  By the way, there is a down side when it comes to mileage and the grade of gasoline.  One's down and the other's up.  Let's just say that you don't drive it for the economy of it.

I did get out on a 15 mile ride on Saturday afternoon.  It was super windy and I tried to do an East-West route to minimize the southerly gale.  That took me down to the little town of Afton.  Some pretty good hills.  Then the clouds came up and I figured that a shorter ride was better than getting soaked.  As it turned out, I coulda done the additional 10 that I had scheduled as the rain held off for an hour or so...and then came in and washed out the planned bar-b-que.

My mind under-performed on the trip.  I didn't even come close to the Friday and Saturday NYT crosswords.  Sometimes you just don't get the gist of where they're headed.  This was certainly one of those times.  Very annoying.  And I left two...repeat, TWO...bags of personal belongings in the basement at 1's.  And I know I made a special, final walk-through to confirm that I left no chargers in sockets or hygiene items in the bathroom.  While I left no chargers in sockets, I incredibly managed to leave the entire bag of chargers, bike lights, iPad and assorted electronics.  Suite deal.

Also in the Sometimer's bin, I failed to pack a cycling jersey for my Minnesota riding.  So on Saturday, I was forced to put into play a dri-fit golf shirt for the ride.  How Walmart-ish!  No back pockets in that shirt.  So I had to stuff my phone in the seat bag, which meant a couple of items had to be removed.  That created a ripple in the force too.

And I almost forgot that on the way up to Minny on Friday, I had elected to go the Rochester route as I feared construction on I-35.  Well, my mind being on a walkabout, I drove North on US Route 61 to Dubuque rather than simply take the normal route of I-80 over to Waterloo, and then up to Rochester.  And Route 61 beyond Dubuque takes you through a bunch of small towns.  I eventually got to Rochester by way of LaCrosse, but it wasn't much fun.  And it definitely took an extra 30 minutes of driving time.  Attaboy, PC.

I did come back the Rochester route today, via Waterloo, and I think that that will be my primary route for the least until those roads go under construction.  That route gets me past my favorite tree in West Branch.  Current photo.

The book-on-tape for the trip was a murder mystery.  I'm wondering if the author struggled with alternative endings.  What he ended up with was at least two extra tapes that left me suspicious that he got off track and couldn't find a convenient way back...and ended up with two separate, almost unconnected, murders that he tried to weave as part of the same story. Do books, when read out loud to an audience, come across differently than when people read them silently to themselves? 

(Just too hard to get this rotated a half turn to the left.  Sorry.  You'll need to do a little eye-tilt here!)

With no good lighting options, that early ride will be a little later tomorrow.

Its a busy week ahead for the fam.  Take my advice: go to a written checklist.

Thanks for reading.  Make it a good week in your neighborhood.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014



I'm throwing 2 under the bus for getting my schedule totally off track today.  That 0330 wake up call to get her to the airport put my system in the, "What's the deal now?" mode.  Having not been able to go to sleep last night, I'm short on rest.  That idea for an early ride upon return from the airport didn't fly (pardon the pun).  And it was too late to go back to bed.  All in all, just an "off" morning.

It is "that" day of the week. 

In The Joys of Home Ownership category today is the report that I had a plumber over to Maplecrest yesterday to fix a water leak that had developed within the last week.  I was getting irregular, but obviously dripping in the basement below the kitchen sink.  Turns out that the leak was actually on the water line connection to the upstairs toilet that is on the other side of the wall from the kitchen.  I hadn't inspected that possibility, but would have called the plumber to fix it even if I had noticed that as the problem.

I was on a tight schedule and wasn't able to stay with the plumber as he finished his repairs, so I just had him write up the ticket, gave him a check and I took off for my meeting.  (The RCL was also there as she had rescheduled herself to Tuesday this week.  So she was going to be able to lock up the place after both she and the plumber were done.)  The great finishing touch to the story is that when I got home last night and checked out the bathroom fix, the toilet wouldn't flush! 

As per our agreement when I left him to do his work, he was also going to replace the aged valve system on the water tank for the toilet.  Turns out that he used the old chain between the flush handle and the valve in the tank, and that chain must have snapped with the test flush that he surely did before he left.  An example of Murphy's Law in home repairs.  Fortunately, I do have the skills to replace that chain!

(For the record, the irregular presentation of paragraphs today is another Blogger snafu.  I can't get it to left-justify after having first put up the camel pic.)

I may be in the market for a new CD player (or whatever is the proper system these days) for my listening pleasure on Maplecrest.  My now 12-15 year old CD player (a cheap Best Buy model) ate a couple of disc's last night, and the amplifier occasionally kicks itself to "mute".  Not that I have that big of a CD collection, but I like George or Garth in the background when I'm doing the crosswords.  Much of the time, I have the DirecTV playing the Classic Country station as the easy option.

My original venture into music equipment (which I may have related here previously...sorry!), was from my USAF days in South Korea.  I came home with lots of speakers, a big amplifier, and various tape players, noise reduction units and other "black boxes" that may have done nothing other than lighten my wallet.  But at the time, the system looked pretty impressive!  (My original self-made plywood bookcase was built to house this equipment.)  The speakers may still be in use as end tables on Century Heights Avenue.

If I had more interest, this turn of events could be the incentive to re-invent the furniture arrangement in my living room.  If I don't need the old entertainment console to support an archaic sound system, why not bring in some new stuff?  But then you get into some "tail wagging the dog" logic that might suggest that the perfectly fine DirecTV-radio is the best answer to a non-question.

Enough from here.  Hope the visit in NYC goes well for the sisters.  I'll be heading up to Harvest Path on Friday, so the wheels of the fam will definitely be rolling this week.