Saturday, May 31, 2008

Boston Conferences Day 1.5

Well it's been a busy 24 hours here in Boston, but I'm happy to report that it's beautiful weather and the the city is actually not as bad as I pictured it. Except for the shooting 3 blocks from the Hotel last night. Yesterday arrived and explored our way by foot over to Harvard and MIT's campus and today we spent the day in the Stata Center at MIT giving talks and presentations...more of the same tomorrow. The bike paths are amazingly well planned and I'll try to get some pictures in the next day or so of all the interesting commuter rigs and bike taxis up. Here are a few photo teasers for now that tell the stories of where we have been thus far...

We were greeted with 2 sleepmember queen beds, a nice view and a lot of amenities.

Oh yeah we each got our own robes, but they were kind of quagmire they're in the closet.

The pool entrance had a nice mural.

Our view from the room, not sure what building it is but it's cool.

The STATA building looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Apparently it "leaks and sucks" according to the MIT people here, but it's fun to look at. It definitely is the most impractical building ever built and is literally a maze inside to get around. If the building were to burn I, fear I might not make it to a suitable exit in time. There are several comical displays inside I will have to relay in a future post. The "Prochlorococcusfest" conference over the weekend we are attending is keeping us relegated within its confines.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flowers, Death, and Puppies

If you haven't been commuting around the 3rd creek greenway recently, you're missing out on all the flowers that were planted. Looks like the landscapers got something right when they "restored" the natural ebb to the creek.

Seeing sun rays coming down onto a nice field of seemingly "dipped in dew flowers" and the smell of ripe honeysuckle vines are things you won't get on I-40.

We lost our first chicken today. "Crippy" the polish female who broke he leg as a chick, laid her head down in the backyard free ranging and never woke up. May she rest well and provide good fertilizer for the garden. We will miss her comical and surprisingly efficient efforts to move around.

On a lighter note, we have a new arrival on the home front. My brother is the lucky recipient of a new boy max. He came flat rate USPS a few days ago and is already mailbox trained.

Friday, May 23, 2008

POTUSA and Chickens

Before we go to the chicken preview and subsequent naming submissions one quick deviation from the normal blog schedule. Last night The presidents of the United states of America came and performed for Sundown in the City, K-town's free concert series. Man they were awesome and they are very good crowd entertainers as well as musicians. I hope they come back. I'm buying their new album today to support them. Here are some clips from the night...

Peaches anyone?

Boll weevil Get out of your home and down to Sundown...

How about some old classics?

I was able to make my way to the front of the crowd by the middle of the show, brave multiple crowd surfers and mini moshes unscathed. I think my success in navigating through the crowd had something to do with the Sidi shoes and cleats I was wearing but it's just a hunch. If these guys ever come around again I will make it a point to go see them. Best Sundown I've seen yet.

And now the chickens....

First Up- The Americanas- These ladies come in a variety of colors and we have 1 white, 2 brown and 1 grey version. They lay green eggs! So I'm buying ham when these ladies lay their first. (grey not pictured)
The Barred Rock- These ladies are the most consistent layers and will hopefully help compensate for the others who aren't as regular. Some of these chickens have to pay their rent. We have four of these ladies...

And Finally the goofiest of the litter. The Polish Hens. These fro laden chickens are not only goofy looking , but also have good entertainment value as they can't see very well. They are really just for show but will lay occasionally. For some reason the wife bought 6 of these so we got lots of goofiness around the house.
Our chickens enjoy their afternoons eating bugs and anything that is smaller then them that moves in our backyard. Boogy has taken to a shepherd's position and is guarding the flock well from predators, most importantly the neighbor's army of cats.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

With the crunch to get projects done and the added pressure of finals…I’ve been slacking a bit. Mother’s Day weekend was a good rest from the stresses of everyday life and I got to see a lot of immediate and extended family all in two action packed days. We went for a nice hike while the women had some weird bridal party for a friend of the wife’s sister. It’s funny how a bridal party resembles the understanding of any tribal parties I have of the programs you see on discovery sometimes. Here are some pics from the hike at Frozen Head, which turned out to be a very nice spring day:
Ferns Everywhere

Big Millipedes everywhere

Tried to freeze some water drops under some of the falls.

Another violent microcosm in an otherwise smooth running stream.

Sleepy Millipede

Mosses and Lichens everywhere

Stairway to heaven

Boogy vs. waterfall
(waterfall wins eventually but only after a long fought battle)

Spotted Red Salamander

"Bear Corn"

"Daddy" in the woods about 30 feet from the stream so took him back to some water

Last of the spring wild flowers

Men on top of the cliff taking a break.

A Sunday brunch with all the Moms in the families present eventually gave way into small separate sewing circles of conversation and I teamed up with Ashton, my niece, to go play with Boogy in the field and we found a nice specimen of a corn snake to examine. After petting it and showing to may horrified moms we had a release back into the field from whence it came out behind the house.

Ashton has come a long way from being scared of every bug to being curious about everything.

Sunday evening I started to feel a little weird and Monday I woke up with my insides outside on the back porch and sidewalk. Apparently the cute little slobbery twin nephews of mine were laden with a nice GI virus they shared with a good portion of the party on Sunday. Mystery of the day Monday was my pool of vomit on the back porch and sidewalk (because I didn't want to have to clean the bathroom when I woke later) had amazingly disappeared, chunks and all. I noticed Boogy was do the math. I got better over the next day only to be re-infected with a bad sinus infection by my lovely wife on Wednesday and thus my week, concluded Friday much the way it began on Monday. The biggest bummer of all was that I missed the official bike to work day and ride I volunteered to lead from west Knox.

After about 48 hours of constant sleep I began to recover from the sinus ailments and the workman in me decided to do a little around the house so I set out on a barrage of projects Saturday afternoon and Sunday between rain showers. I managed to get a chicken coop built with a nice little roost rack system for the ladies out back. Apparently chickens need to sometimes be “trained” to roost. Training a chicken to roost correctly consists of letting them fall to sleep out in the cool of the night on their own and then sneaking up on them in the dark and quickly placing them on the roost rack. You place them close enough to one another so as to make sure they stay put, feeding off of each others warmth. To my surprise this technique Abby’s mom taught us works quite well. The ladies are getting quite fat and happy now and soon I think we will commence naming them. Name submissions are now open on the floor so if you have any “goodens” send them my way. I will introduce the types of chickens we have with pictures sometime in the next day or so to aid in your creative answers I am anxiously awaiting. If your names are used you will receive as a prize the first few eggs from your named chicken.

Room with a view
Side window to the palace

Roost Training Begins...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Commuting Bliss

Now that class work has subsided for the summer, I can sleep easier and concentrate on my research. This means that my mornings are sweet bliss, as I'll be commuting as much as possible. I'm still a bit sore from DSG but things are coming back around. This morning was excellent. The air was crisp and the honeysuckle was so overpowering in my olfactory centers that I found my mouth watering. Also the air is noticeably "clean" feeling I suspect from the abundance of oxygenic photosynthesis that is clearly dominating the margins of the greenway. This morning the greenway was once again all mine. Only saw a few people.

It was very tempting to stop and take a "rest stop" at the end of this person's driveway in West Hills...but I resisted...this time. This is not a site you often see in good neighborhoods. I'm still contemplating putting a melted snickers in there later on the way home, if it is still there.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

DSG 08

Updated Bling photo12 Hours of Bunny

Impressive Results for K town folk on the weekend:
Dave: 4th Place SS Pro
Josh, Mike, Jacob, Andrew: 1st 4 man open team
Abby and Derek: 3rd coed duo
Judy Wallace: 34th Solo men

After my first serious spin at a solo 12 hour race last year here, I was eager to try my hand yet again at DSG. Unfortunately an unanticipated heavy semester and stagnant bike activity as a result of injury have kept me from getting in “good” shape this year. A fresh dose of antibiotics to combat an infection on my left testicle left me both demoralized and weak. I don’t know why I’m posting this but I think it’s important. Yes that’s right for 2 weeks prior I was worried there was something more to the lump and it hurt so bad I could barely walk much less sit on a bike. So what I learned here is never be too proud and check often. The Dr. said testicular cancer usually doesn’t present itself with pain like I was experiencing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have a family history. Quite scary

We arrived Friday evening with the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornados looming. Fortunately 3 of us had gotten one of the last rooms in Fayetteville to crash in and it turned out to be a fortunate find. The rain started coming down hard enough to wake me in the hotel and man was there lightning! Of course this was once again all Dave’s fault. If you ever need your yard watered just ask him if you want to do a ride there in advance. The forecast for Dave races generally goes from partly cloudy and sunshine to something like this….

Cloudy with a Chance of "Dave"

And for those of you who did the Cohutta…yeah Dave was there too.

My planned eating for a 12 hour period...

Race morning the rain had tapered off to an annoying drizzle that was beckoning us to stay in our tents/hotel rooms. Somehow seemingly by the grace of an almighty power, the rain subsided with about 30 minutes till race time. Little did we know that this subsiding of precipitation was a cruel joke from the Gods themselves.

As the gun of the hillbilly started the race, Derek, Dave, and I all managed to make it to our bikes unscathed in the mad rush. If some may recall last year Dave decided to step in a prairie dog hole that went straight to China and he disappeared from view for a brief instant. The course in the opening fields at least appeared to be ridable and but slick. I caught on to Dave’s wheel and held on as people were falling all around us, including Mr. Hendershot who took a nice fall on a banked corner and stood up with a face full of mud. So overall first impressions were yeah it’s wet, but this will still be fun.

The last time I would see Dave before he dropped my ass.

Jahn likes the mud!

Fear the bling...

Then we went into the wooded single track…this is where the fun rather immediately stopped and the slop fest began. Words cannot describe how thick this mud was. I can only tell you I felt like a pot being thrown on a wheel in a bad 80’s movie about the supernatural. Riding on the brink of control, it was absolute mayhem. People were sliding off the trail left and right into trees, shrubs, and other people that had already fallen. These impressive deviations from the trail could have only been more so if the bikes the riders were on had somehow blown up like a car wreck in a bad action flick. Dave and I were “working” traffic as best we could and then bam! An increasingly loud obscenity train taking the form of two riders slid into me just as I was crossing a bridge called BC bridge. I ended up off the right side with two other riders one of which I recognized by his twangy voice. Good Ole’ “JT” from last year had returned. And with a little help of some fellow riders had managed to mangle several people sliding across the bridge. From here my lap only got worse along with many others. The mud, which was already thick, became cement like, when mixed in with gravel from roads and sticks and leaves from the side of the trail people were riding on to avoid the “bad” mud, it became this impenetrable riding barrier.
Thanks Mr. Kerkove for the pic to show them how it was.

No bike was safe. Big wheels, small wheels, no wheels, it didn’t matter, your bike was going to clog. I can’t remember when so much suffering and walking was had. I even was stopped riding down a fairly steep downhill by the mud it was so bad. The best I could manage was to find a good “mud stick” and be on my way. I think a good idea for races like this would be a nice plastic trowel. My front derailleur starting working somewhere around lap 4. It was satisfying to see that even the pros were walking/running their rigs because they were clogged as well. The woods absolutely sounded like a mtn bike haunted house. Loud screams accompanied by the sound of grinding derailleurs and broken chains haunted us all for the entirety of the first lap. Spooky.

And then the Sun finally came out! The course dried up considerably in the next few laps and for those of us who survived with a sizeable chunk of our rides intact, the riding was pristine for the rest of the race. Conditions only got better as the day progressed and by the time the day was over I swear I saw a little bit of dust. By my third lap I realized I had about 1 bottle of fluids in me and the extreme hydration was setting in. Apparently I had been so hell bent on not dying the first two laps in the mud I forgot to eat or drink. I was bonking terribly and to make matters worse, my hands were screaming as the rocks had been pounding me through my dismally inadequate thin gloves. A long pit stop to think about quitting, some Goody’s headache powder, and now wearing two pairs of gloves made things much more bearable.

I carried on convinced I would quit after each successive lap. Towards the end of the day I saw someone I knew was fast in my group and he said I was leading. I couldn’t believe this because I had been aboard the hurt train all day and my whole body just plain felt weak. The next lap around in transition this was confirmed and I did the math that I had about 3 laps to go…keep cool and ride smooth. Somewhere in this frame of mind of riding clean and smooth for the rest of the race, a guy in my class came blowing by me on a hill like I wasn’t there. He was absolutely flying and when I came in off this next lap one of his friends told me to hustle because he was taking 15-20min a lap out of me. A quick round of math told me that this if this was the case then I could be facing him about the time for my last lap and possibly be doing an extra lap. I tried to step up the pace and it evidently worked, because I won my first 12 hr solo race and a big iron cog paperweight.

Despite the amount of suffering fun times were had by all eventually Saturday evening. We also had an encounter with two dumbasses from Yazoo bikes at about 4:30 am when these drunk and evidently high bastards began to crow incessantly like roosters. They wanted to fight and then wanted to make peace with us and the coyotes they had been “playing with”. Extreme will power was exercised by everyone’s part from K-town not to kill these primitive dumb creatures, but I think next year we’ll be bringing the potato cannon to administer justice should this situation arise again. Way to set a good example for your sponsor boys…

Where Coyotes and grown men "play"
Everyone from K-town did extremely well with Dave just missing the podium in the SS Pro group (Dave will now carry a tube as well as CO2 with him at all times, and possibly has the record for most expensive 29'er flat…ever), the dirt digglers destroying the 4 man field, and my very own wife and Derek taking third in the coed amateur duo group. Senior Wallace made the wise choice of riding for the sheer enjoyment of the course after it was dry, something I wish I had the will power to do.

Chandler/Jamison Dynamic Duo

What the hell is a Diggler anyways?
(and...Andrew sporting the "He-man masters of the universe" hold on their piece of the rock)

Chandler Family comes home with "big/Big" gears.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Milestones and Springtime has Arrived!

More cumulative updates…Pictures are worth a thousand words so there’s going to be a few thousand words on this post….

3 thousand miles...

Since I started logging my miles on August last year I just this last week reached the 3K mark…fittingly at the end of the paved portion of the greenway. In that period I have been through 1 frame replacement, 1 set of tires, and 1 set of brake pads. By my calculations I think I have paid for my bike’s purchase price by riding it to and from work.

Chickens- So everyone’s heard about them by and here they are…

Young and according to some cute….
Juvenile and ugly as can be…

More to come on the polish hens hair dos soon. They are the mullets of the chicken world.
Also the chickies are getting big so their adult pen is under construction. We have foxes about so it will be thoroughly varmint tested before we release the ladies.

Boogy didn’t want to help at all this weekend and was a complete larf. He spent a few hours in this position with his nose smushed on the rug for no apparent reason. I think the rain makes him sleepy. Labored breathing and rolling eyes accompanied any chastising of his attitude.

Roof- Tree smashed into our house…and we got a new roof!

Flowers- Yes, it’s spring and there’s lots all over our yard...

As well as some good scenery…

Laboratory Shotgun Outing...

Apparently working for the railroad is dangerous...

Check out the positioning of the tractor. All this was accomplished while the train was creeping along at about 5 mph...