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Tuesday Morning Thoughts

I was never really a Neil Sedaka fan and don’t know if breaking  up is actually hard to do but, this morning, waking up was hard to do.  Didn’t want to get up and head to the salt mine, stayed up later than I ought to have done, and to no major purpose.  Tanya and I watched a few DVR’d TV shows,.  I had finished volume three of the Engineering Trilogy, so had downloaded Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid.  A friend had told me she was watching the TV show Haven, and I saw it was (loosely?) based on The Colorado Kid.  Unfortunately  after downloading it (and paying for it), I realized  I had  already read it.  It wasn’t in my Kindle library, but I think I had read it on the Nook back when I used it.  I hate doing that.  But I did go ahead and read several pages deciding whether I’ll continue reading it, still haven’t decided.

I do have Grisham’s Sycamore Row due in today in hardback, but still need an e-book for lunch reading at the salt mine.  For now I’ll probably just keep on going with The Colorado Kid.

Speaking of the salt mine, I find it funny (in a sad way) when someone says to me a particular task “should be a priority.”  Every day I try and sort out which item on my list is most likely to get me in trouble if it isn’t done today.  Hell, if I’m working on it, it’s a priority; I’m overloaded with priorities.  Anyway, enough of the salt mine; that’s not for here.

Hope your morning is starting out well, World.

Your friend,

Rick

Rocinante Goals

Prior to this weekend I had ridden the Magnum trike (need to come up with a name for my trike) three times: 0.4 miles around the bike shop on Friday, October 11th, the day I bought it, 1.1 miles the next day riding on the Tanglefoot Trail, and 1.5 miles the next day, Sunday, just riding out of my driveway and a short distance locally.  So, a total of three miles the first weekend I had the trike.  “Pathetic,” you say (I heard you, don’t deny it), but given that I can tire out taking a shower I thought it was a fairly good weekend.

Last weekend it was all brand new and I was learning what I could currently manage, but I set two simple goals to achieve by year’s end: trend upward on each week’s riding distance and be able to do ten miles on a single outing.  I think of it as trending upward as opposed to riding more miles each week simply because some weekends weather may preclude riding, and I’m not sure the roller I bought is going to work out for riding — or pedaling — indoors.  But if, as time progresses, I can generally do longer distances on an outing and tend to bike (trike?) more miles per week, I’ll call that goal met.

In theory I get every other Friday off from the salt mine, but this weekend didn’t include one of those Fridays, so Tanya, Zach, and I planned to go riding Saturday morning.  We got to the trail around 8:30 or so, clear day, cool (didn’t check the temperature, but cool), overcast so no sun issues, and a fairly strong breeze blowing.  Tanya, Zach, and I were riding, but predetermined we wouldn’t try and stay together the entire route.  I climbed aboard Maybellene Clyde Eugene Shadowfax the Magnum trike and headed north.  Heading north lets me start uphill, meaning it would be downhill coming back.  I hadn’t even made the first mile marker on the previous weekend, so was targeting at least getting to that mile marker.  There and back would be a two mile ride, and I hoped to push past that to do at least another half mile, getting in a five mile ride.  I thought it a bit ambitious, but worth a shot.

The first mile went by surprisingly easy, and I stopped at that point for a short breather.  I don’t plan to push things; I’ve ridden in the back of an ambulance once, many years ago, don’t want to do it again.  I think moving from extreme couch potato to someone who is physically active should be a reasonably slow progression.  But I did think another mile would be doable.  I had started at mile marker 25, and was at mile marker 26.  I decided to see if I could make marker 27, so I pressed on.

The slope changed somewhere around mile marker 26 from a slight uphill climb to a slight downhill slope.  As the Tanglefoot Trail is a rails to trails project, there aren’t any really steep climbs, but I don’t need a steep climb to notice it’s more difficult, thank you very much.  The small grades are noticeable to me, even with the twenty-seven gear options on Old Red Red Triclops the Magnum trike. But I geared up (down? Still not sure if it’s up/down) and made good time over the next mile. I rode up to mile marker 27, two miles (actually 2.06, but who’s being exact (ME!)) from where I started, and paused for another rest break. Assuming I made it back, I had exceeded my target for the day — but I was feeling good, so decided another mile might be doable. Geared down (up?), Trikezilla Bocephus Magnumous Rocinante . . . yeah, I’m a Rush fan, hopefully Don Quixote won’t mind, and I’ll be set for any black holes or windmills I might encounter . . . Rocinante it is.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, Rocinante’s gear settings allow easy pedaling for the grades you face on the Tanglefoot Trail, I was still feeling good at the second mile, so decided to push on one more mile. All downhill, meaning up hill on the return, but what the heck. The nice thing about the stretch after mile marker 27 on the Tanglefoot Trail is that you have been through all of the Pontotoc intersections. Cars have the right of way, so you have to slow down to a near stop — or stop — at each of these intersections. From mile marker 25 to mile marker 27, there were seven intersections to navigate. Losing speed to a crawl or a complete stop each time was a pain, and those were behind me. I decided I could make another mile, so proceeded on.

In the reclined position on the trike I’ve a tough time visually knowing if I’m going slightly uphill or slightly downhill, but based on pedaling and gear settings, mile three, from marker 27 to 28, was a slight downhill grade, so easy going.  I stopped again at marker 28 to take a breath.  I got my iPhone out, checked the map/satellite, and noticed how close I was to the twin trestles that go under Highway 278.  I wanted to go over those trestles.  Heck, I thought, what’s another mile (in the back of my brain was a voice say “It’s another mile back!” but I successfully ignored that voice).  The last mile had been uninterrupted by crossings, cars, houses; it had been a nice ride through trees, it was still cool and comfortable, and was still overcast.  I went for it.

Did the next mile quickly as it was downhill, though the trestles were a tad disappointing in that I couldn’t see over the sides and the wooden planks rattled my brain cells.  I had wanted to check the view, but didn’t stop.  I plan to start taking my Nikon D5100 with me once I get a smaller case for just the camera and attached lens I can carry in Rocinante’s luggage bag on the back rack.  I’ll stop and take some shots when I do.

Mile marker 29 was a bit past the two trestles, and I again pulled in for a rest.  At this point I knew I didn’t need to push on, but just manage the four miles back.  I’d vastly exceeded what I thought I could do even if I collapsed now — which I sincerely hoped I didn’t do.  I was still feeling  good, though I was getting tired.  I felt I could make it back without much trouble, again resting at each mile marker, so was very happy with what I’d done for the day.  Yeah, ten miles was only an extra mile and back, but I didn’t think it would be wise.  The ride back wasn’t bad, though I was very happy to cross the hump and head downhill that final mile.

I didn’t notice exactly what time I started or finished, but would estimate close to two hours, so under 5 MPH.  That’s okay, I’d like to get that up to eight or nine miles per hour, but I think time will take care of that.  This morning, I went back and did another four miles (yes, I’m sore) and rested routinely on that trip as well, taking a couple of extra rest breaks on the return as I seemed to tire more quickly today.  Total time was 45 minutes, so bumped the average speed up to 5.3 mph.

If you’ve read this far, first off congratulations; you are part of an extremely select few.  Second, you may be thinking What a pitiful fellow, 15 miles in two weeks, I do that in the first forty-five minutes of my daily ride!  I that is your thought, let me point out if you averaged 50 miles per week over the last twenty years, you’d be at 52,000 miles.  My total during that time was about eight miles on a bike I bought about eighteen years ago.  Let’s see, naught carry the naught, you need to do 97,500 miles over the next two weeks to show the same improvement.  🙂

Cost-wise, I’ve a drastically reduced the expense of Racinante; adding twelve miles this weekend dropped the price per mile of riding the Rocinante from $1,367 to $273.  It’s almost a bargain now.

Enough for today, World; keep hanging in there.

Your friend,

Rick

Recent Reads

Completed a couple of books recently, one being Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, the other John Sandford’s Storm Front.

Doctor Sleep is a a sequel to The Shining, written long ago (you can do the work and look up exactly when).  I’m pretty sure I saw the movie version of The Shining in it’s entirety, though I may just be remembering a couple of scenes with Jack Nicholson that tend to stick out — particularly  the “Here’s Johnny” line.  I read the book, of course, and Doctor Sleep moves us to present day.  I don’t say much about books I read because I don’t want to spoil anything (as I so very much hate having someone do that to me), so I’ll just say it was a pretty good read, if you are a King fan don’t miss this one.

Storm Front is a Virgil Flowers novel; I always enjoy Sandford’s writing, particularly enjoy his Flowers novels, and this one was no exception.  You can usually count on Sandford to deliver entertainment value, and Storm Front does so as well.

I had interrupted reading K. J. Parker’s third book of the Engineering Trilogy, The Escapement.  I’m back reading it now.  I can recommend the Engineering Trilogy, I suppose, though I’ve not been thrilled with the direction some turns have taken.  I reserve the right to withdraw that recommendation after finishing this concluding book.

Still working on the audio book Night Film on the commute, so nothing new to report on it at present.

That’s all for now, World.  Have a good afternoon.

Your friend,

Rick

Of Funerals and Family Reunions

My cousin Sylvia passed away this past Monday, and today was the day of the funeral.  It wasn’t sudden, she was seventy-three and had been ill for awhile, and by the time it came her passing was likely a relief.  I’ve always thought of Sylvia more as an aunt than a cousin, given she was nineteen years my senior — heck, she had a daughter older that I.  She was the daughter of my Mom’s oldest sister, hence the age gap.

I don’t really have a lot of stories to tell about Sylvia.  To be honest, I gave as much thought to Sylvia in general as I did for most of my aunts and uncles — that is, not a lot.  I’ve stories I could tell involving her son John and I, as we were about the same age.  The attack on a car (busted windshield and all), jumping the tracks in front of a train, free beer night at the local convenience store, and much more.  Probably a few involving his sister, Sherry, older than me but not by much.  But Sylvia was just another aunt (as I thought of her), always there trying (usually unsuccessfully) to keep us out of trouble, providing something to eat if at her house around mealtime, but mostly interacting with my mom and dad.  As I grew older, she remained one of the older generation, still Mom and Dad’s friend, but always glad to see me, always had a laugh, never short stinting you on a hug, and really enjoyed visiting with everybody.  A good lady, and she will be missed.

It was the right kind of weather for a funeral: rainy, gloomy skies, not a ray of sunshine to be found.  My brother, an associate pastor, officiated for the service and the central theme to his message was “family reunion.”  It is interesting that there are so many folks we grew up knowing, playing with as kids, visiting back and forth with over the years, and now only see during the family reunion of a funeral.  We need to find the time to get together for something other than a family member passing.

And, of course, with aging, the funerals become more frequent as the years go by.  And no disrespect to the departed, but it gets a tad depressing as you start do do the math every time a family member passes.  You know: died at 73, I’m 54, 19 years if I live as long.  The result of that equation used to be much higher, but the mean of the result gets smaller as the years roll on, and I realize again how precious every year, week, day is that we get to hang around.  Need to make the most of them, remember the important things in life, not sweat the small stuff, [insert tired cliche here].  Trite, yeah, but true.

You only get so many spins around the magic marble and once you cross fifty you tend to realize that more and more.  Any new (or old) activity/hobby I consider, I think whether this is a good thing to do with a percentage of my remaining time.  While I may not know how much is left, I do know it is finite.  Of course, I can make the call of whether to drop or reduce some of the personal activities, and decide whether fifteen hours of football watching per week, sixteen+ weeks per year is really the best I can do with that slice of remaining life.  It’s not, I’ve decided.  But I’ve little control of my time at work, yet often wonder what percentage of the remainder of my life did I just lose for the latest asinine meeting that gained the attendees next to nothing.  I don’t get to control it, but it sure grates on my nerves.

Well, this has been a depressing note.  On a slightly brighter note, went by the Oxford Bicycle Company with my son where he bought a Specialized Roubaix bike, though he had to order the frame he needed.  Should be in next week, so hopefully we can spend some time outdoors exercising, Tanya and I on the trikes and Zach on his new bike.  Much less depressing subject matter, and could help me cheat the mean mentioned above.  Hope so; don’t feel as if I have really started life.

Well, enough for now.  See ya, World.

Your friend,

Rick

Quick Thoughts

Start of the work week, work is still aptly named: they don’t call it fun.  Not a bad weekend, as a percentage increase, I cycled an infinite (or undefined) amount more than the five or ten years combined.  So, exercise was up.  Didn’t work on the novel any, that’s bad.  Watched too much TV; finished off the first season of Orange is the New Black and watched some football.  Green Bay won, though barely, and lost some key components to their offensive.  Hopefully Cobb and Jones will be back quickly.  Miss State won, though barely, and against a team they should have beat handily.  Ole Miss fought a great fight, losing to A&M on a game  ending field goal.  So, good, good, bad.

Finished off Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, started Storm Front by John Sandford.   Current audio book is Night Film by Marisha Pessl for the drive from work.  Oddly I rarely listen on the way to work.

Well, that’s it for a quick Monday update.  Hope your day is starting out well, World.

Your friend,

RIck

The Greenspeed Magnum

I said in my previous post I need to begin getting in better physical shape, but didn’t really mention that doing so means trying to make up for years (and years) of neglecting the physical.  No exercise, sedentary hobbies, and paying little attention to my diet.  We have a nice Landice L7 treadmill and I’ve tried a time or two to start back using it.  It worked well in the past, and at one point I lost 70 pounds by going an hour every morning on the treadmill and just paying a bit more attention to what I ate (I did, however, find the lost pounds over the following three years).  But these days I can’t last more than ten or fifteen minutes before my back is in enough pain to drive me off.  I’m enough out of shape I couldn’t last much longer anyway, but it severely limits moving forward with the treadmill.  So after a fair amount of research (helped by the fact my weight filtered out most options) my wife, Tanya, and I went down to Ride South Recumbents this past Friday to check out a Greenspeed Magnum.

Greenspeed Magnum

Greenspeed Magnum

Ride South is located in Jackson, MS, (or, technically I think, Brandon, MS).  I can’t give you a real comparison on bike shops, as I’ve only been in two or three in my life, but Ride South was a nice place, lots of bikes and  trikes, and in any case even at 3.5 hours away was the only Greenspeed dealer anywhere around.   The Magnum Trike is made by Australian manufacturer Greenspeed, and can handle a 400 pound rider plus a bit of of baggage as well.  They are a tad expensive, and since we don’t do debt, there was a bit of budget rearranging to be able to swing it, but if all went well I planned to bring one back.

Well, all must of went very well, because before we left we had managed to talk Jim Snider of Ride South into letting us take two Magnum trikes off his hands (wasn’t very hard to talk him into it).  The first one I sat on was a tad too short, so Tanya decided to sit in it, see how it felt.  Jim, being a helpful fellow, threw open the double doors and suggested Tanya take it for a spin.

“Where can I go?” Tanya asked.

“Anywhere you want, just be back by six,” Jim replied.

Tanya hung around the parking area and the adjacent streets, only rode for a few minutes, but it was love at first pedal.  She came back and I knew we would be buying two.  She got the blue, I got the red (pictured), and Jim got them ready while we grabbed some lunch at the nearby Fresh Market Cafe and did a bit of shopping in the Jackson area.

By the time we got home, it was too dark to ride, but the next morning, Saturday, we loaded them back into the pickup and drove the mile or so to the recently opened Tanglefoot Trail, a rails-to-trails project that spurred this entire shopping spree.  We made it a short ride because I need to ease into it to avoid any sudden ill affects such as a massive heart attach or something, but the Magnum was fun to ride and very comfortable.  I felt good being outdoors — something rare to the extreme for me — and we had a nice time on the Tanglefoot.  I did learn I need some experience on managing the gears (27 speed), but hopefully that will come with time.  Tanya and my son Zach then headed for Alabama to visit our daughter, spending the night, and I took a solo spin on local roads and found a 7% grade hill is easier to go down than up, and the trike became exhausted so I had to walk it up the hill.

So, few bucks spent to get started on becoming more physically fit, we will see how things go.  I had to spend an hour or so beating the budget back into submission, may delay some cosmetic work we planned to do on the house — but we decided if we are out riding our trikes it won’t matter what the house looks like.  🙂

That’s about it; see ya, World.

Your friend,

Rick

On Turning Fifty and Procrastination

I have a cousin-in-law some ten or so years older than me.  I recall seeing him on my thirtieth birthday and also recall his birthday greeting that day.  It wasn’t “Happy birthday,” “Best wishes on this momentous occasion,” or even “Hope you have a nice birthday.”  No, what I got was “How does it feel to have lived half your life?”   It didn’t pole-vault him into #1 relation status.

That said, I have to admit when you turn fifty you start to suspect you have lived half your life (keep a good thought), and can be tempted to look back on all the things you should’a, could’a, would’a, but didn’t.  Mine’s a long list, I’ll admit.  I hit a home run on the marriage front, have two fantastic kids who snuck around behind my back and became high-quality adults, and all in all I can’t really complain about much.  But I did have plans different than where I landed.  As examples:

The novel I started when I was nineteen (Cold! was his first thought.  So Cold!), banging the words out on an IBM Selectric, still has about 119,000 of the 120,000 word target left to complete.  I didn’t lose that extra 10 20 30 50 100 180 pounds I so desperately need to lose.  I’ve not made my first million — well, not really true, as I have earned in gross over a million when you add all those tax return total salaries together.  It just seems you can’t save enough to take that early retirement you always counted on.  And there’s probably a few other plans of mice and man here and there that weren’t achieved, but all that said I have the odd occasion of fun, laughed a fair amount, and made others laugh from time to time as well.  Can’t complain at all.

Can’t complain — but can decide it’s time to get in gear and do a few things.  Complete the novel, lose the weight, work on that early retirement plan.  And keep laughing.  Gotta keep laughing, and that’s been tough to do this year; 2013 has been a bit of a slog.  Just have to keep slogging along.

Not sure if this would qualify as an on-target first post, but the purpose of Mississippi Ramblings is to jot down the minutia of what crosses my mind, so I find it fitting.  Oh, and that procrastination thing?  Well, I turned fifty over four years ago, so got that nailed with this first post.

Have a nice day, world.

Your friend,

Rick