Category Archives: Just Life

Sightseeing at Road Nationals

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Yesterday was a day off between the Elite Road Nationals and Criterium Nationals. I’m not one much for sitting around, resting, waiting for the next race. One of the best things about the sport is the traveling and checking out the different cities.

So, yesterday morning we headed over to the farmer’s market that surrounds the Wisconsin Capitol. It was amazing. I’ve been to a ton of farmer’s markets, all over the world, and this one can match any. It totally encircled the whole capitol square and was super crowded.

We went into the Capitol Building and did a little micro tour of the building went up to the observation deck. It was pretty cool seeing the layout of the city of Madison from some altitude. There are two lakes that sandwich the downtown area. It’s a great setting.

Bill and I went and rode for an hour and a half in the heat of the day. Man, is it muggy around here. We rode mainly west of Middleton and the riding is unparalleled. Beautiful rolling hills with no traffic. It reminded me of riding in Europe. If only the winters weren’t so dang long.

We went out to eat last night with some friends, Steve Myrland and his wife, Kelly. They are very fun people. We stayed out sort of late talking.

So, it’s about 4 hours to criterium Nationals. The loop is exactly the same as the farmer’s market, around the Capitol Building. The course is harder than it looks, with a small rise. I think a group is going to lap the field. I very much doubt I’ll be in that group, so it is very slim that I’ll be racing for 1st. But, you never know, bike racing is fickle sometimes. Definitely unpredictable. I felt okay just riding around yesterday, but I never know now. My knee is stiff and I’m limping around because of falling on my hip, but it doesn’t seem to affect riding. It is hard getting nervous for a race that you have no idea if you’ll show up. That’s actually a nice thing about my whole situation, I guess.

Right after the race we’re getting in the van and heading North to Cable. Bromont hasn’t been up in to Dennis’ since his surgery and I wouldn’t mind just swimming in the forest for a bit. Trudi has a flight out of Duluth on Wednesday morning, heading to Cascade, so it is a short trip for her.

Okay, I should get packed up and ready to leave. Here are some pictures from yesterday.

The farmer's market was super jammed.

The farmer’s market was super jammed.

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Day One – Northwoods

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It is very easy to get into a routine, or really a non-routine up here in Cable. The Kansas garage is all set up perfect and it is so convenient that the routine almost begins before I get up here.

The only twist is that Stacie and her husband Karl, my orthopedic surgeon friend from Louisville are up here vacationing for the next week. Stacie grew up here and comes back a couple times a year to decompress from the hectic life of being a doctor.

Today we rode the Firehouse 50 loop, which is as the name says, 50 miles. It a few more miles riding from Dennis’. Trudi and Stacie just rode 35 miles, but Bill, Dennis, Karl and I did the 50 plus deal. I was a little tired from the race and the drive, but not dragging tired. It is super scenic, going over the Great Divide, next to the water’s of Lake Namakagon and through the Chequamegon forest. It was a little over 3 hours, so pretty perfect.

We went over to the condos by Telemark to eat with those guys last night. It is so sad seeing Telemark lodge all closed up. Maybe it will just be temporarily again. The area has so much potential, I don’t see why someone can’t just get it back up to speed and fiscally healthy.

We’re going to ride MTB this morning. I haven’t ridden a MTB bike since my shoulder surgery. I have serious doubts that it is going to work very well, but I have to try sometime. I swam for a few minutes in the lake today and don’t feel any ill-effects from it today. It wasn’t very quick, but it sort of worked. I’ll have to ask Stacie about it.

It is supposed to rain after noon. We have to take Trudi up to Duluth to head to Cascade Classic in Bend. She has a 5 am Wednesday morning flight to San Francisco, so it is nearly impossible to leave in the morning from here. Duluth is fun to hang at for an evening anyway.

Okay, better go make sure my MTB tires hold air. It has been gathering dust.

Dennis missin' around at the Great Divide marker outside of Grandview.

Dennis missin’ around at the Great Divide marker outside of Grandview.

And here he is again following Bill and I around all day.

And here he is again following Bill and I around all day.

The road next to Lake Namakagon.

The road next to Lake Namakagon.

Stacie grilling salmon for dinner.

Stacie grilling salmon for dinner.

One of my favorite places in the world.  The water is so warm right now.  At least the first 3 or 4 feet.

One of my favorite places in the world. The water is so warm right now. At least the first 3 or 4 feet.

Gelato and cheesecake for dessert.

Gelato and cheesecake for dessert.

Prices Seem Awack

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I think it is kind of fun and interesting comparing prices of different things and services and seeing if they seem in line with each other. They never really do, but recently it seems completely out of line. Trying to compare the cost of gasoline to the price of food to the price of bikes and I have no idea where to start as a baseline.

I drove down to Dallas on Friday and yesterday went by Richardson Bike Mart. I wasn’t there to shop, but I don’t get into bike shops that often, so I looked around for a bit. It is amazing how much some stuff costs.

Bike shorts for example. There were way more shorts and bibs that cost over $100 than under $100. And many were nearly $200. Man, I could go through a few thousand dollars worth of shorts in a season at those rates.

There was a Specialized McLaren bike there with an $18000 price tag. That is the most expensive bike I’ve personally seen. You can buy a pretty okay car for that price. One with electric windows and probably even heated seats if you looked around enough. I would have a really hard time justifying buying that bike with all the other things available in the world that you could buy for nearly 20K.

Trying to compare any medical costs to regular life stuff is pretty impossible and seems stupid. I was charged $1250 for an x-ray of my collarbone when I tore up my shoulder in January. Or a friend told me about getting charged $1750 for some stitches in his knee. Those numbers are so out of wack that I can’t fathom how they got so screwed up.

Shopping at the market here they had a sale on bottled water. 24 for $1.97. They are 500 ml each. So you could get 219,289.34 bottles of water for the price of the McLaren. That is a lot of water. Around 55,000 gallons of water, bottled and delivered. The water seems like a better deal than the bike.

Also at the store they had these huge apricots. I don’t know the exact price of the apricot, but they were/are really good. I think they would end up costing about $2 each. That seems pretty expensive, being about the same cost as the water, but in the right circumstance, I could see getting one apricot for the 24 bottle case of water.

I’m going to eat Sunday brunch at the Dallas Country Club in a little while. I have no idea how much that is going to be, but it is going to be expensive on any scale. I’m sure I could eat get dozens of Grand Slams at Denny’s for the brunch. But you’re paying for the ambiance here, not the food. That is a hard thing to quantify.

I drove my Honda Insight down here. It gets around 50 miles per gallon. So for that same two dollars, I can travel close to 30 miles in the car. Gasoline seems too cheap to me. Traveling the 30 miles, carrying all my stuff is a much better deal than the apricot.

Anyway, I guess we all decide what we feel is the value of the things and services we purchase. I think it would pretty impossible trying to convince a non-cyclist that most the stuff we purchase to ride is a value. But, having those $200 at the right time can be a value.

This is a deal, for sure, in this day and age.

This is a deal, for sure, in this day and age.

This is an expensive bike.  Deal?  I'm not sure about that.

This is an expensive bike. Deal? I’m not sure about that.

Richardson Bike Mart is dog friendly.  You can't beat that.

Richardson Bike Mart is dog friendly. You can’t beat that.

The huge apricot.  Pretty great.

The huge apricot. Pretty great.

The guy in front of me shopping had this Mt. Dew.  It doesn't have any corn syrup.  It is made with sugar.  I don't know how much it cost, but he said that it wasn't nearly as sweet as normal Mt. Dew.

The guy in front of me shopping had this Mt. Dew. It doesn’t have any corn syrup. It is made with sugar. I don’t know how much it cost, but he said that it wasn’t nearly as sweet as normal Mt. Dew.

Training I Guess

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This past week has been kind of wacky. I’ve hardly ridden at all this week. A couple 40 mile rides and not much else. So I’m going to hang around Topeka and train some. There was a criterium in Springfield Missouri that I raced last year, but I need the miles more than the intensity. It is supposed to be pretty cool temperture-wise, so that is nice.
So, I’m going to get on my bike a ride for a few hours today and tomorrow.

It doesn’t seem like I accomplished hardly anything this past week. I’m not sure why that was. I guess it is because I didn’t get back here to ride until Tuesday, so it was a shortened week. At least that is the excuse I’m using.

This morning was short. I like listening to public radio on Saturday mornings and since San Sebastian was today, that was a bonus. Our outdoor cat, Fritz, came in to pay us a visit and eat. Mainly to eat. Fritz is in charge of keeping the realm clear of all other cats in the neighborhood. Thus, he is pretty beat up most of the time. He came in this morning with a big gash on his neck.

It was going to be an all day affair taking him to the emergency vet. Plus, he’d just eaten, so they would have had to keep him overnight to put him asleep on a empty stomach, so I decided to do it myself. As a word of advise, I can’t say it is the smartest thing to try to stitch up a cat normally, but Fritz is special. He had an issue, I’m not exactly sure what, but when he gets scared, he just lays over and stays relatively still. So, out of all the cats we have, Fritz is most likely the only one I could do this to.

Anyway, Stacie’s medical bag gift came into good use. I had to use two different sets of sutures. I picked too big a needle to begin with. Cat skin is super thin. It worked out pretty well. Fritz wasn’t too big on my trying to shave the area, but other than that, he was good. I kept tying his whiskers into the knots, which was annoying. He might not make an appearance for a few days now. He likes it when Trudi is around, so he comes in way more often. Maybe that will be the case here.

Okay, it is sort of drizzly out now. I guess that is okay. Better than 105 like last year.

Poor baby.

Poor baby.

It wasn't perfect, but it will do.

It wasn’t perfect, but it will do.

Trudi and Bromont resting in the shade after an afternnon walk.

Trudi and Bromont resting in the shade after an afternnon walk.

It is so dry here, the river is more sand than water and the trees on the sand bars are nearly forests.

The ground is cracking because of the lack of rain.

The crack went so deep, I took a close up of it, with a flash, to see how deep.   I got a photo of a grasshopper trying to stay cool I guess.

The crack went so deep, I took a close up of it, with a flash, to see how deep. I got a photo of a grasshopper trying to stay cool I guess.

I bought this and thinks it's misleading.  It says 100% juice, cranberry and pomegranate.  But in small print after that it says flavor.  When you look at the ingredients, it is mainly apple and grape concentrate.  That is just wrong.

I bought this and thinks it’s misleading. It says 100% juice, cranberry and pomegranate. But in small print after that it says flavor. When you look at the ingredients, it is mainly apple and grape concentrate. That is just wrong.

It’s All About Perspective and Expectations

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I was riding out through an old area of Topeka, called Potwin, where it is still brick streets. There is grass and weeds growing up between the bricks on the edges of the roads. The middle is pretty clear because of the traffic, but there sides are turning green. I’m not sure what the city used to do to stop vegetation from growing on the brick streets, but they aren’t doing it now. They must have sprayed Roundup or some other vegetation killer and now they don’t. And it has to be a financial constraint. It was raining and I didn’t want to get anywhere near the edge of the road. Wet grass on wet bricks is about the worst case scenario for a bicycle tire.

It got me thinking some about how much different you can feel about a subject, observation, or emotion when you look at it with a different perspective. Or have a lower or higher expectation. It all depends on how you look at it.

I wish more Americans would look at “our” situation and realize that they have it very well. I’ve written it here before, but I’ll do it again. We have already won the lottery being born in the United States. It doesn’t matter what your demography is or where you happened to end up, you still won.

I saw an article on the front page of the USA Today a couple days ago taking about how horrible our roads have become. It used the state of Connecticut as an example of bad roads and bridges. They could have used Kansas or most of any other state I’ve been to the last couple years. Well, maybe not Wisconsin. Their roads seem pretty good. Anyway, the point is that our infrastructure is having some major issues and need major attention. At least comparing it to what we are used to historically.

I’ve been sort of depressed about this. Obviously I use the roads a lot everyday. I drive a ton, plus ride my bike a few hours a day. I’ve personally witnessed our roads getting worse. No one likes to accept worse roads or a decline in any situation. But, what I have to realize is that our roads our much, much better than most of the rest of the world’s roads. And that is the case with nearly every service you can come up with.

We have it very, very, very good. And most of us, me included, take a lot of it for granted. We are so used to having things a certain way that don’t appreciate it nearly as much as we should.

Think about getting hurt here in the United State. Nearly every citizen in American is just three numbers, 911, from having someone come and help them. No matter what your financial situation, your ethnicity, or whatever separates us, a police officer, fireman, or paramedic will show up and help you if you are in need. That is such a huge service. Knowing that we have this safety net throughout the country is something that many of us might not even put on a list of things the government does for us, but in reality, it gives all of us a peace of mind. Even when we aren’t with our friends, children or family, we know that if they have an accident, medical issues and such, society will take care of them until we can go help them.

This isn’t the case for the majority of the population of this planet. Most of the people on this planet couldn’t even imagine having this service. They are responsible for themselves when they are in situations when they can’t take care of themselves. We have it so good.

It’s the same with the fire department. If our property catches on fire, someone will come and take care of our property. We know that even if we’re far away from home that society is looking after our property. Many countries have fire departments, but I doubt very few have them that are as responsible and efficient as ours.

And the list goes on and on. We have water at our finger tips. It is everywhere, we just turn a knob and it pours out. Nearly any person in the US can go and get a 44 oz cup of ice cubes and cover those cubes with Coke, water, or whatever liquid they want. I can’t really come up with a really great guess, but for sure there are billions of people on this planet that have never had an ice cube. We have free ice in every hotel, service station, work place, just about everywhere. Ice isn’t free, though. It takes a ton of energy to make a liquid into a solid. Some would consider it wasteful energy. Not us. We like our cold beverages and expect them.

Our infrastructure is going to get worse. Probably much worse. And our services are going to be less, probably much less. The reason for this is that there are billions of people on the planet that have worse infrastructure and worse services already. It has to start to approach equity, and to do that, our standard of living is going to have to get lower, probably much lower. We have no expectation of this. But we need to realize it is going to occur. Our dollar is going to be less valuable, energy is going to cost us more, and services are going to be more expensive.

I think this is a fact. But, it doesn’t have to be depressing. We have been the world leader in most aspects of life on this planet for the last century. Most people are just trying to catch up with us. We need to have the perspective that as our standard of living is getting lower, lower compared to how it used to be, there are places on the planet where the standard of living is getting better, much better. They are just trying to get water, clean water, let alone ice cubes. Would you give up your ice cube for someone else to have access to water? I would.

IMG_1681We have it real good. For $3 after the ride yesterday, a pint of cold beer is available at The Flying Monkey. I thought this photo was subject appropriate because of the beer, road construction behind, and plus, Catherine using her first pint glass as a chair leveler. I’m pretty sure she has no idea how that happened.

Bill has already lowered his standards by making his own Tegaderm with a plastic wrap and paper tape.

Bill has already lowered his standards by making his own Tegaderm with a plastic wrap and paper tape.

X-Ray Irregularities?

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Yesterday I spent the majority of the afternoon waiting at, what seemed to be, an empty Urgent Care Center. I made a deal with myself if my chest hurt as bad on Monday as it did over the weekend that I’d go to get it checked out. I really hate going to the doctor for rib injuries, but this time it feels different that previous injuries. With a couple friends having problems with a pneumothorax (collapsed lung), I thought maybe I should make an exception of skipping the doctor.

I went to the Urgent Care because I knew they had the ability to do everything I needed. They also have an ultrasound and my leg that had a blood clot last season is aching, so I figured I should kill two birds with one stone. The problem is that they didn’t have a radiology around, so actually reading an x-ray or ultrasound correctly was impossible. At least impossible for a physician assistant with limited x-ray skills.

The wait was my main issue with the service yesterday. I was pretty much the only person waiting there and I sat forever. I sat forever in the waiting room, the patient room before and after finally getting an x-ray. The highlight of the day was having a resting pulse rate of 38 after drinking a cup of coffee waiting. I’m not sure why my resting daytime pulse rate is so low nowadays, but I had the same number when I donated blood a couple months ago.

Anyway, the x-ray machine was archaic. The building was built just a couple years ago, but when I asked the x-ray technician about the old machine, she said that the building was new, but machines were old. I never got to see what quality of images the machine produced, but I have my doubts they are going to be top notch.

Anyway, when the physican assistant finally came back in he said something about he couldn’t really see anything indicating a pneumothorax, but followed that with asking if I’d broken ribs before. I said yes (I’d told him that already). He said that he say some irregularities in the x-rays and was just going to let the radiologist read them today.

I’ve had a ton of x-rays taken in my life and I’ve never heard the word irregularities as the adjective describing the outcome. What does the even mean? I have no idea if I’ve broken my ribs on my left side before. I don’t know if old rib injuries look like new rib injuries on a x-ray. They don’t do anything about broken/fractured ribs anyway, so it isn’t really a big deal, but it would be nice to know after waiting so long.

A girl came into the waiting room about 45 minutes after I arrived. It took her about 3 hours to get a blood test done. That is completely unacceptable.

So, this morning, I’m heading back over there to have an ultrasound done on my leg. I’m hoping that the guy that is going to read the ultrasound is the same guy that is supposed to look at the chest x-rays. I very much doubt I’ll get the opportunity to talk to the guy, but you never know.

This was the waiting room virtually the whole time I was there.

This was the waiting room virtually the whole time I was there.

Not really the leading edge of technology here.

Not really the leading edge of technology here.

Scam and Swindle

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I think one of the reasons that our society is having some issues is that we are always worried about getting scammed. Now that the internet is prevalent, we see it much more often. This makes us apprehensive when strangers approach, in real live and /or electronically.

I don’t worry about it too much. I put my name and address, plus phone number on my resume on my website. I’d rather be accessible than worry about the negative consequences of the action.

But saying that, the guys doing the swindling have step up their game. I wrote something last week about things coming in 3. Here it happened again.

The first one was the most perplexing. I’ve been kind of keeping a lookout for an AWD Sienna minivan. I’ve had a couple AWD Caravans, but Toyota is the only company making a minivan AWD now. Anyway, I looked on eBay and there is a 2009 with 40K. It shows a bunch of pictures and then says at the bottom of the description that 13K with buy it today. So I email the guy and ask him where it is and if that is true.

It takes a couple days and the response is that yes, 13K will by it. And he says it is in Topeka. I’m thinking, that is too weird. Then I get the normal letter than the guy is in England and that an eBay agent will meet me with the papers. He says the van in stored in his garage here. So, I knew it is a scam, but, I kept going, just to see what was up. I was getting the guys name on his email, Jeremy Stone. It was a Topeka-like email address, a Southwestern Bell internet address. I ask his address and he gives it to me.

I look the address up on Goggle Maps and can see there is a window in the garage. I decide to drive over there just to see if there is a .0001% chance this could be legit. I get there and the garage door is open. And there is sitting a AWD Toyota minivan. I think, man, this is too weird. There is a guy in the driveway and I ask him if he is Jeremy. He says that Jeremy isn’t there, but his wife is. So, the guy goes into the garage and knocks on the door and a nice woman comes out.

I say hi and explain a little why I’m there. She assures me that her minivan isn’t for sale. I show here my phone with the eBay auction and then the emails from supposedly her husband. She asks me to see the email address and says it isn’t his.

So, the guy on eBay, somehow can track my eBay name back to me living in Topeka, that isn’t such a big deal. But after that, he goes and gets a Topeka email address and then assumes the name of a real person that lives in Topeka that has the same color and model Toyota minivan. I have no idea how he even gets the van’s information. It seems like really a lot of trouble. I’m not sure how much money he planned or did receive. There was a $500 pre payment. Maybe if he had 20 stupid guys on the hook, he ended up with $10,000. But he would have to get 20 different email addresses and then find 20 AWD Toyota Sienna minivans. Seems pretty elaborate.

The next two were just the normal weird emails. One was that I had a up coming trip, but it was sent from Southwest. Maybe Southwest just screwed up, but it looked real. I have a flight from Las Vegas to Columbus Ohio on August 29th. I’d have to get to Las Vegas to make it though.

The last one was from one of our military guys. It’s below. I decided to respond, just for fun. I never heard back, boo.

Anyway, we are all getting bombarded continuously, hearing about these schemes and frauds constantly, it makes us less approachable, less friendly. When my doorbell rings now, I always think it is a weird guy trying to sell some left over meat or something. (All my friends just walk in.) I guess as our world gets smaller, mainly through electronic advances, we’re all going to be subject to more of this. I just hope it doesn’t get too much more sophisticated or guys like me will be in trouble.

From the military guy.

From the military guy.

My response.

My response.

My Southwest confirmation.

My Southwest confirmation.

The van in the garage.

The van in the garage.

I saw this truck after all this.  We are so paranoid that we have big trucks rolling around that shred our paperwork.

I saw this truck after all this. We are so paranoid that we have big trucks rolling around that shred our paperwork.