Archive for August, 2007

The New Bike is under construction!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

As reported earlier, I had Patrick at my LBS order me a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame. It came in, and yesterday I went to see it, dragging Sophie, who was in town with my car. Patrick described the frame as “brick red,” but this is because he’s too straight to have any color sense. To androgynous* me, the color is obviously much more toward the purple end of the red spectrum to be brick — Surly calls it “Black Cherry Pearl,” which is actually a pretty good description. It’s a deep red with sparkly bits.

We’re still working on the components. The shifters are here, and we have a triple crankset for it. The saddle is a Brooks B17 standard in natural tan leather, and Patrick suggested handlebar tape to match**. I’m thinking I’m going to go with a 12-34 cassette, which will give plenty of climbing power with the 52-42-30 triple crank. I could go as low as 24 on the granny gear, but I have a feeling that it would be hard to pedal fast enough even to stay upright in the 24 front — 34 rear gear combination.

Today I need to stop by and try a handlebar to see if it’s an appropriate width for my puny shoulders. And we have to talk about a rear rack and panniers.

Meanwhile, Sophie’s here. She and Robin and I went out to dinner last night. Now Sophie’s looking for work.

*Walt’s always talking about how I’m in touch with my feminine side. And remember, I know which side of a sterling silver knife should have the monogram on it.

**Hmm, quite the fashion sense there.  Maybe Patrick’s in touch with his feminine side more than we think.

Cabell is very disappointed in me

Monday, August 27th, 2007

This morning our friend Dillon came by to pick up Cabell’s stuff to drive it up to Madison for her. Including her cats. We’ve had Cabell’s three cats living in our basement (to avoid conflict with our three cats, living upstairs) all summer. I was looking forward to getting them back to their mommy. However, we should have planned it a bit better. This morning, Robin left for work, and I went downstairs. The cats were milling around meowing for breakfast as always. I figured that this would be the time to get them into the carriers. So, I picked up a carrier and opened the door.

Of course, anyone with cats knows what I saw when I turned around. Disappearing cat tails. I went back upstairs and did other stuff for 15 minutes, then came back down. Two of the cats, Pandora and Bart, were back at the food dishes, and it took only a few minutes to get them into the open carriers. Legba, on the other hand, was lurking in the depths of the basement somewhere.

I waited another half hour, then went down and put food in a bowl and sat by it. Legba stuck his head out of a stack of lumber, but that was it. After a while I went over to him with the bowl and rattled it invitingly. After much coaxing, he finally came out and approached the bowl. I reached out to pick him up.

Devotees of Terry Pratchett will know what I mean if I say that this is like trying to catch Greebo* and put him in a cat carrier. For the rest of you, just imagine you’re picking up a friend’s pet bobcat. This is a BIG cat, and it’s all muscle. And he doesn’t like being picked up at the best of times.

In retrospect, this job should have gone to someone not taking blood thinners. I got most of the blood off the basement floor, although the shorts I was wearing aren’t ever going to be the same. Meanwhile, Dillon has come and gone, and Legba will be residing with us a while longer.

*He’s really just an old softy.

Another milestone

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Today I went for a 15-mile ride, the longest since I got out of the hospital.   I rode up highway C to just past the Perry County line, and I felt like I could have kept going indefinitely.  That is, if I’d had some food and Gatorade with me.  There isn’t anyplace to buy any on highway C, at least until Altenburg.  And even then I doubt there’s anything open on Sunday morning.  In any case, I’m committed to taking this one small step at a time, so I’ll be keeping it under 20 miles a day for another week.

Meanwhile, in a display of optimism, I’ve ordered parts for my new bike.  It’s a Surly Long Haul Trucker.  The frame is built for touring.  Steel alloy so it’s springy and comfortable.  High stem so you’re more upright.  Braze-ons to attach every conceivable kind of pannier, rack, fender, etc. and for three bottle cages.  I plan for this to be my commuting bike as well, so it should get a lot of use pretty soon.  I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I just rented a van so that our friend Dillon can drive Cabell’s stuff and cats up to Madison, then drive Sophie and her stuff from St. Paul down to here.  I’ve loaded the van with Cabell’s stuff, all but the cats.  They’ll go in carriers as far to the back as possible, so that Dillon can turn up the radio and ignore their pitiful cries.  Mainly Pandora’s, that is.  The others give up and sleep, but she can wail for eight hours straight.

And in a final upbeat note, yesterday was the first time in a month that the high temp was below 90, and today looks likely to be relatively cool as well.  I was getting really tired of near-100 degree days.

More or less back to normal.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

So, I’ve been out of the hospital for about 3 weeks now, and I’ve been feeling more or less normal for about 2 weeks.  And I’ve been back on the bike for a week, during which time I’ve ridden about 60 miles total.

I feel pretty good.  My main problem now is that I think every little twinge is the first sign of my body breaking down in some major and alarming way.  I feel like I just can’t trust the thing any more.

MO2NO Picture Post, Day 9

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Well, actually I already posted on Day 9 with pics.  So I won’t repeat it, except to point out that I’ve just put up a whole bunch of pics of MO2NO Day 9 on my flickr account.  Check ‘em out.

MO2NO Picture Post Day 8

Monday, August 20th, 2007

It wasn’t that far from Columbia, MS to the Louisiana border.  The road I was on did have a lot of pulpwood trucks, which made it seem longer.  Here I am at the Louisiana line.

Soon I could see I was really in Louisiana — check out the live oak with Spanish moss.

From there, on to a very welcome sight — my sister’s house in Pearl River, LA.

And then a celebratory dinner.

MO2NO Picture Post, Day 7

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

This was the day I left the Natchez Trace and headed south along the Pearl River.   First I had to get through Jackson, which I achieved by getting on the road at 5 AM.  This means I got to see the state capitol, but it was pretty dark.

I had my second breakfast in the town of Terry, MS, a few miles south of Jackson.  The restaurant, shown here, was called Scoops.  Not only was I the only white person in the restaurant, I think I was the only white person in town.  I walked in the restaurant and there was a young woman behind the counter.  Looking at the menu, I asked for the full breakfast.  This didn’t involve a lot of choices.  You get scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and biscuits.  And if you don’t know enough to tell them not to, they then squirt some liquid fake butter stuff all over the top of everything.  Not what I would have chosen, but I’m sure it provided lots of calories.  As I was getting my plate, a man came in, pretty obviously the owner.  “Hey, we’ve got a long-distance cyclist in here! Is that you?”  I allowed as how it was.  What the hell, I was the only person in the place wearing spandex.  He asked about the trip, etc., and I told him all about it.  “So, you doing this to raise money for a charity or something?”  No, I’m just on vacation.  A pause.  “You’re a doctor or something, aren’t you.”

I had to admit to being a college professor.  I guess it makes sense.  Nobody who does manual work for a living would do this for a vacation, I guess, and you’d have to make enough money to afford a fancy bike, etc.  Doctor is a good guess.

Some distance further south I passed this place, where it appears a person with a seriously warped mind got hold of some sign-making equipment.  You should click on the photo to see a larger version so you can read all this wacko stuff.

Near as I can figure, this guy’s schtick is that, contrary to standard evangelical doctrine, we have NOT all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Rather, some of us are sinners and are going to burn in hell, and others, like wacko sign guy, are not sinners and are going to have a good laugh later on watching the rest of us.

This was the day that I found that the “water park” in Monticello, MS was a huge disappointment, and a girl at a convenience store directed me to ride on River Road to Columbia.  Here’s a shot of River Road showing the lovely cooling shade (and total absence of traffic, so I could just park in the middle of the road and take pictures).

Near Columbia I crossed Holiday Creek, where I was able to walk down and wade a bit.

Here’s the view from the creek.  My bike’s parked up there at the end of the bridge, if you look closely.

I got to Columbia and spent the night in a motel.   Also ate Mexican food.  Lovely town.  Here’s the courthouse.

Back on the bike!

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Yes, yesterday I called my doctor and asked him if I could start riding again.  I suggested 10 miles a day, down from the 30 I was doing before.  He suggested 5.  So this morning I rode … well, actually 6 miles, because my cycle computer is broken and I know where the 3-mile turnaround is, but not 2.5.  It feels great to get out on the road again.

He also said I could drink in moderation.  Me: “Can I have a glass of wine with dinner?”  Doctor: “Yes, but not the whole bottle.”  So call me Mr. Moderation.  Or Dr. Moderation, if you prefer.

I have an appointment with him again in 2 weeks, and we’re going to discuss where I might go in St. Louis for further diagnostic expertise.  As in, why the hell did this happen?  I’d like to find out.

I saw a co-worker in the hall yesterday, and she asked how I was, and then said, “Well, now you’re going to have to change your diet.”  To which I said “In what way?”  She didn’t have a direct answer for this.  I was puzzled, but then later, I was thinking that she probably imagines that my clotting was related to cholesterol or something in the arteries.  Actually, my HDL and LDL levels are great, and my arteries are totally clean (except the ones in the kidneys with the blood clots).  About the only thing I know I should do with my diet is reduce consumption of green leafy veggies that have lots of Vitamin K.

MO2NO Picture Post, Day 6

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Day 6 was the second full day on the Natchez Trace.  It was originally planned to be a long ride, but since I went 30 miles further on day 5 than I’d planned, it was a fairly short ride.

The ride south through Mississippi runs the story of the Choctaw and Chickasaw backward.  Over a period of a little over 40 years, they were pressured to sign a series of nine treaties, each one pushing them further north, until in 1830 they gave up the last of their land and were forced to go to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.  Here’s a marker commemorating one of the early treaties.

Shortly after this, I had my first sighting of the Pearl River on the trip.  My sister lives in Pearl River, Louisiana, and the next several days I would be riding parallel to the course of the river itself.  It’s dammed in central Mississippi, forming the Ross Barnett Reservoir*.  Here is my first view of the Pearl River, at the head of the reservoir.

A beautiful place, despite who it’s named after.  Not far from here the Trace reaches Ridgeland, a suburb of the capital, Jackson.  I’d ridden this stretch a couple of times before in the Natchez Trace Century.  Flat and nicely paved.  The next day I would leave the trace and head south toward Louisiana.
*Ross Barnett was governor of Mississippi during the civil rights era.  A quote: “The Negro is different because God made him different to punish him.”

I’m more or less back to normal.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Today is my second day back in the office.  Yesterday I was here about 4 hours, and got a fair amount done.  I wrote a letter of recommendation for a former student, went through a few hundred emails, cleared off my desk, and printed out the study guide and schedule for Molecular Genetics.  Now I have two other courses to put together, including Science and Religion, for which I have to decide what readings I want to use.   Actually preparations for both that course and my Biological Reasoning course involve getting together with someone else and negotiating course content.  Still, it looks like I will at least have handouts to give the students on the first day.  I find this is almost as good as being prepared for class.