Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cat 2

I wish this title was regarding my license upgrade to Cat 2 (well, actually I don't know that wish is the right word). Rather it is referring to the category 2 ankle sprain I received almost 2 weeks ago while playing indoor soccer. The high school has held open gym indoor soccer through the winter since I was in school. Ethan has been asking every week if I would be playing and I finally did. First time and last time for the season. While putting my left foot out to block a shot, the offender kicked and rolled my ankle pretty severely. The result is a lot of burning pain, partially torn ligaments, swelling, and some pretty purple colors. Recovery? "Should" recover within 8 weeks.

Not my foot, but it looks exactly the same. (Photo courtesy of OrthoInfo)
For anyone from this area of south eastern Ohio you know what the weather has been like. A few heavy freeze and thaws with lots of flooding rain, from 3 inches of snow in 2 hours to 82 F a couple days later. For the rural folk, this means mud. The township roads are falling apart. Our driveway is falling apart. Last week I rented a dump trailer and hauled 15 tons of crushed limestone home and spread over our driveway. Unfortunately I could not pull the hill with it loaded and had to dump in to the front bucket of my tractor and spread it that way. Worked fine and I am grateful for my tractor, but it did take a lot longer that way.

Even with 5 tons this truck tows so nice. Until you have to turn around a 22' long truck with 14' of trailer.
I got a good start on the new hearth for our wood stove. The base is still at the welder's, but I told him not to rush since I had so much more to do. We picked out the tile for the floor and the veneer fieldstone for the wall and have it on order too.

Hopefully this will look a lot different in a month.
Not riding, though I may switch to flat pedals and give it a try soon even if only on the indoor trainer. Even the thought of trying to unclip makes me want to pee myself. Running? Not even on the radar at the moment. Sad too, I was going to try and run the Hope Iron Furnace trail run this year (the 4 miler, not the half).

From 77 and 3 inches of rain to 37 and 3 inches of snow back to 82 and 3 more inches of rain.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Not my best

I have to be honest, this year hasn't been my best thus far. Multiple setbacks at the office, a big health scare at home, things breaking, so much mud, short on patience, and short on bike rides (or runs for that matter).

Case in point, the Pilot. Shelly's car started making some weird noise when turning, when upsetting the suspension, and a little vibration on the highway. After some investigation it seemed that the drive side axle needed replaced. I order one up and after an extra trip to A town to get more tools I finally got it changed last night, in the dark, in the mud (we don't have a garage or concrete). Well, it still clunks. Except now I can make it happen by turning the wheel back and forth. It is the inner tie rod. I specifically checked it a week ago, but couldn't get it to make a sound. Well we now have a new axle that wasn't needed and I still have to change the tie rod. Out more cash and time.

I spent the entire day today tearing out some old floor, beefing the floor up with an extra floor joist, and building a raised hearth pad for the wood stove, or if it can't be repaied, I guess we will have a small stage. Getting ready to set the tile backer and discovered that I bought the wrong mortar. Another trip to Athens. Mixed it and must have measured the water wrong. Runny mortar. This after I had stopped at Lowe's earlier in the week to get all the lumber and supplies. In that trip I bought a 2x10 that was really a 2x8 because someone had put a 2x8 in the 2x10 pile. 

There are a few others along the same vein that I won't go in to. I think I have everything planned out, researched, materials ready, and I miss something, wrong supplies, wrong plan, etc. It is tiring. First world problems though, unlike some friends that lost loved ones this past week.

But, the world turns. The sun rises. The ice forms and thaws.

Ever notice how as the morning breaks there is a brief moment of color, before the sky just relents to steel grey?

And speaking of steel grey.

I often look at Brock, how happy he is to see a wood pecker, how excited he gets to have a donut (well, I kind of do that), dancing through the kitchen because, well, I don't remember why actually. I do want to be that excited about things, about the day, about life. Or at least kind of that excited. 

Oh, and by the way, when a customer is pushing a large cart of lumber including a 4x8 sheet of OSB through the store and you are an employee of the store (that didn't even offer to help me get said sheet of 3/4 OSB off the shelf and on to said cart) walking down the aisle at the same time, please move out of the way. Seriously, you are somewhat more maneuverable. Thank you very kindly to gentleman with the cart of DeWalt tools that he was putting on the shelf that moved to keep me from running over the store employee.

I need a bike ride. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cracked Up

I am sitting on my couch looking in the direction of where just a few days ago there was the warm glow of a fire, but now, it is a bare wall with a discolored spot on the floor where the soap stone wood stove once sat. I should back up a few days though.

Monday I arrived at the office prepared to do some work for a contract we have with a delivery in February. This particular job meant I needed a very specific and expensive tool. Said tool was nowhere to be found. I recall last using it in December of last year but it has apparently not been seen since. One person thinks they put it on my desk, one thought they left it on a cart in the lab, another says it should be over there. But, gone, like the wind. To replace it will be a couple thousand dollars and take three months. To say the the stress of this was heavy would be kind. We just finished a year of some pretty big write offs and the idea that I had to report that we lost the tool and it would set us back is not something that would be fun for anyone.

Tuesday I got home after an unseasonably warm Monday where I had let the fire go out. I restarted it like always, some wadded up newspaper crammed under some nice seasoned wood. The fire took off without a miss. Hours later while sitting in the living room I hear a sound much like someone clicking their ring on a glass in their hand, but it was somehow louder and coming from the direction of the fire. Later when I checked the damper on the stove I could see a line of orange glowing on the floor under the stove. Snap! My 34 year old wood stove's cast iron base just cracked!

I emailed the manufacturer about it and they have since replied that it can be welded. But that is a full disassembly of the stove. At least that means I can build the hearth we have been talking about for years and it will also mean that my stash of seasoned wood will surely last the winter.

The next day, Ethan needed the little car so I drove the Pilot. I discovered the front end was making some undesirable noises. Maybe it is the control arm bushing. Problems with those led to Honda extending the warranty to 100k miles.

We worked hard through the week to try to prepare for a design review while also trying to come up with solutions to the missing tool. Just when we thought we had a plan in place to solve it (though still cost money) another setback. This time while machining a part a rubber plug that was protecting some critical bits from machining debris came out and chips went in. While using a magnet to try to clean it, the magnet came apart and lodged itself where it cannot be removed. (I know this is somewhat vague because I can't share all the details, but lets just say this is a REALLY big deal). But the magnetic field around the part made some really cool patterns with the machining chips.

Friday also brought the news of the passing of my aunt. She had been in poor health for a long time (some of it due to her own choices, but none the less).

I spent Saturday dismantling the wood stove before jamming a back road bike ride in as the rain started. The recent heavy snow and subsequent thaw with included rain has left our driveway wrecked. It was so bad that we had a UPS delivery this week and the driver could not make it up and tossed the packed along the side of the driveway.

Today I jacked the car up and removed the front tire to look at the source of the clunking. Looks like it will need a new front axle and not the part that had the warranty extended.

All of this has been consuming my thoughts, making sleep hard. Today while playing guitar at church the question was asked if anyone had a praise for this week. While I didn't respond because I was playing, I did think. What could I say? Somehow all this week had meaning. Some of it is just stupid first world problems, but we all have a desire to have a purpose, to be needed, to succeed in whatever it is we do. The meaning? I have no idea as I type this. I write all of this just to say that in life we deal with all sorts of things. Sometimes it is in abundance, other is times in loss.

I listened to a Radiolab this week where the notion was that there isn't free will and that everything we do, say, think, feel is explained by a biological process. In this there is no source of hope, joy, or meaning. So there is my praise, that since we are more than just a biological mass that aimlessly wanders this world, we have hope, joy, and meaning.

And on a MUCH lighter note, my niece wrote my folks a note warning them about big foot. Enjoy.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Foto Friday

I am sitting in my office as freezing fog drifts past my window. November has just ended and while it sure seemed busy, I don't feel like I accomplished much. Short days, Thanksgiving, deer season, and all the standard family stuff all put a squeeze on our time.

At least my running miles are up.
Fall has given us a lot of great sunrises and sunsets though. Art on a grand scale painted by God. We all love them (just check the Instagram), attracted to them like a moth to a front porch light. Even the girl I passed on the drive home just a few days ago, trying to shoot a photo through her windshield of the sunset as she was apparently driving with her knees, changing lanes at 60 mph.

Art is all around us if we can take time to notice. In the simple things. In the grand things. And pizza.

Take a moment to throw a stick in to the river.

At lease December 1 means that U2's Songs of Experience dropped. Go take a listen.

Thanks for checking in. D

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Twenty six years ago today, U2's Achtung Baby was released. Called one of the best albums of the 90's by Rolling Stone, it was certainly a groundbreaking album for U2, a decided difference from Rattle and Hum. I can honestly remember the day I picked up the CD (at School Kids Records) before meeting someone for dinner. Still listening to that album, even as I type this (and playing it loud since I am home alone).

It is almost Thanksgiving. November really sneaked up on me this year, based largely on the successful run the Alexander boy's varsity soccer team had. They made it to the top 8 in the state in division II (they are the smallest school in division II in the entire state). Though they did have a record setting season, they ended up matched against Columbus DeSales, a team that has won state (and would again this year) something like 18 times, and are ranked nationally. Our boys did a respectable job but did not advance. And a bit of cool trivia, the 1992 soccer team (that would be my senior year) played DeSales at the same level in the tournament on the same field with the same result.

Great season boys.
So back to Thanksgiving... November has been tough, to be honest. A week ago we laid off four people at work. The way it was done and the reason it was done are hard to swallow. These people were not just co-workers but friends. Two days after that was the anniversary of Eric's murder. I will never forget it, but it is hard to remember some days.

All that brings me to today. Shelly and B are in the C-bus to see the Wild Kratts show at the Ohio Theater before having dinner with M. E is gone too, spending the day with his grandpa and hunting buddy. E shot his first buck with a bow last night. An old deer that he has been patterning and watching for a couple years now. He is an 8 pointer with a sticker near the brow, sunk in forehead and bulging nose, and is missing his left eye. Anyway, he shot him late afternoon. We let him go a while before looking for him as to not just push him off. But that also meant finding him in the dark and dragging him in.

Hunting buds.
All this left me home alone. I got some work done early so I could get out on the singlespeed. The weather was grey and wet but unseasonably warm and windy (a cold front is moving through right now). The singlespeed on low maintenance roads is a great way to get a really hard workout, see some Appalachian back country, not see many cars, and blow off a bunch of stress mashing up sometimes 15%+ grades. As I rode through a small "town" in Vinton Co I saw a church sign:

Thanks Living
Thanksgiving (and thankfulness) is hard some times. Thanks living even harder. So live thankfully today because tomorrow, who knows what will happen and you need to be ready to handle it with grace, love, faith, and joy. Even when it sucks.

Single speeds and wet weather - like peanut butter and jelly, they just go together.

Monday, October 30, 2017

So long, October

I still plan to get to the log of summer time posts, but here is a quick one to close out October. I ended up with a bonus day (well actually, it was just that I forgot that Friday was parent teacher conferences and that Shelly had to work but the boys were out of school so I had to take the day off kind of bonus day). After Shelly finished up, I loaded the Monocog on the car to have lunch with the fam before heading out to find some back roads, fall foliage, and some dirt. Traffic was terrifically low being the middle of the afternoon, on secondary roads, and no school buses running. The wind was stiff (about 12 mph sustained out of the south) but warm in the low 70's. Along the way to the Zaleski State Forest and Lake Hope State Park, I road through the King Tunnel (old rail road tunnel). Once to the lake, I decided that single track would be more fun than the road around. I followed the lake trail around from the furnace to the beach. Just prior to exiting the trail I hit the ground hard while rolling across one of the wooden bridges. The bridge was wet and covered in leaves. I had to collect myself a bit before continuing on, knowing that I had at least 25 miles to go to get home and I didn't want to stiffen up. I took the Moonville Rail Trail in to Zaleski and up Atkinson Ridge before heading out of the state forest toward the horse camp. By the time I got to Albany, the traffic was picking up, I was unprotected from the steady head wind, and I was starting to hurt. I didn't make it all the way home before Shelly picked me up. Still, almost 50 miles with 4k feet of climbing on the singlespeed.

Somewhere in Vinton Co.

The King Tunnel

Along the lake trail at Lake Hope State Park
The crash left me bruised and with a few scrapes. It was nice to get out for a long ride so late in October. I finished the day with a trip back in to Athens with Ethan for a reception for one of the mechanics at Athens Bicycle. Along the way I passed the Albany PD who was sitting in the median of the highway (where he often does and this being the Athens block party weekend, I would have been surprised had he not been there). I looked down and I was tooling along at 62 (in the 60). I didn't think another thing of it. I had just been passed but about 3 vehicles between the Rt 50 interchange and where he was, as I often do. As I I noticed he pulled out after we went by. Then I saw lights. I honestly assumed he was pulling someone else over but ended up sticking on my bumper.  I stopped. The officer asked for my license, insurance, and registration which I handed to him. He then said that he was stopping me for going 79 mph in a 60! I almost laughed. I told him I found that very difficult to believe and even admitted to going 62. He let me off with a warning and told me to get my speedometer checked after admitting he thought it was a white SUV that he clocked (we were in a white Scion XB). Watch out as you drive through Albany.

Spun U2's October on the turntable. Seemed appropriate.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Today marks 4 months since last writing. That is a lot of work, vacation, biking, music, soccer games, and so on and on. I will slowly try to catch up on some of the events and such, but not all in this post. So just like the old testament, posts in the next days/weeks will likely be in somewhat non-chronological order.

But first, this past weekend was my birthday (and therefore the birthday of my dad and a good friend). I have some use it or lose it PTO at work. Like all good white collar workers, I dream of adventures through mountains and rivers. What a good excuse to go do something epic. Or, when the reality of scheduling around work, church, family, soccer, and sleep happens then adventure takes a back seat, or at least changes in its description from bike-packing through the Monongahela National Forest to donuts and coffee while on a short motorcycle ride. Or riding my mountain bike to A town to meet others for a short single-track ride. Or heading out for a burger and listening to the Jim Miller Band cover the G-Dead.

An Americano at the Spot on Main, Jackson, OH
One other stop on my list for some time is the fire tower on Atkinson Ridge in the Zaleski State Forest. If you look closely out the back of the Lake Hope lodge, just slightly west of south, you can see the tower peak above the tree tops. We loaded up in the truck for a drive out to climb the tower and see the view. Nice drive out or if you decide to pedal out (which I would recommend) be prepared for a leg burner to the ridge top.

Look out below.

Way out there you can see the lodge.

Do so at your own risk.
In music related news, Haffa's Records in Athens closed its doors at the end of September. Kind of sad in a sentimental way. I can't remember Haffa's not being there (mostly because I was a year old when they opened). But I made a few vinyl purchases before they closed shop.  I have been enjoying Ash & Ice by the Kills. Alison and Jamie just go together like PB&J. Strong female vocals with creative guitar riffs just seals it.

The Kills - Ash & Ice