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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Content

Not con'tent but con-tent'.  Busy week, full weekend, got 2 offers accepted and a bike ride with Chris.  If life gets any better I can't imagine -- this is enough.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A New PB, and room for improvement

The local free time trial practice, casually known as the Putah Creek Smack Down (tongue in cheek), held their first of 4 40km TTs tonight.  I've done that distance about a dozen times on the tandem, and once as a 2-woman team, but never solo.

Tonight I rode it alone, with no aero equipment. I'm not sure aero equipment would have helped.  The wind was howling, flags flying straight out, with gusts up to 30 mph.  The 1st and 3rd legs were mostly into the wind, with lots of cross, including the 2nd and 4th legs.  The start required not just one guy holding my bike by the saddle, but the other on the upwind side of the front wheel, to keep me from blowing over.  Wow!

So I had some difficulty settling into a rhythm, given the gusty cross/headwinds.  I think it was 2 or 3 km before I  found some kind of rhythm.  Wasted energy there.  Oh, well...

Kept going and going and going.  I was passed by big guys on TT/tri bikes with TT gear.  I was buoyed by the fact that no one else riding a la Merckx; i.e., no aero gear) passed me.

I nearly bailed at the 20 km mark but decided since I was warmed up I might as well keep going.  The 3rd leg was again into the wind and I was definitely feeling the effort of the 1st half; legs tight, hip flexors burning, back aching.  I tried to ignore those distractions and kept ramping up my cadence and gears, esp. for the last leg.  My goal was to be totally spent at the end of the ride.

The last km I started accelerating and kept accelerating until I crossed the line.  I have to hand it to Joe and Cody, they are so positive and encouraging -- they made me feel as though I was the leader when I turned back into the wind, and cheered when I finished.

1:15:19 was slower than I had hoped but still a PB as a solo 40 km.  The wind was definitely a factor.  I hope to improve my time at the next  long TT.  Meanwhile, I'm happy with my results and wish I had more Tiger Balm for my sore muscles.  I'm glad I hung in for the whole thing -- and glad the rain stayed west of us.  I hate riding in the rain.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today I Saved the Day

...for a tiny hummingbird.

Sidebar:  Since I was very small my mother offered us opportunities to connect with nature, specifically birds.  New Jersey winters can be nasty, and we'd hang suet, pine cones coated in peanut butter and dipped in birdseed, and other goodies in the dogwood tree outside the back door for the birds.  Then we'd watch which birds came and ate.  My favorite were the cardinals; on the bleakest of days they brought brightness to my small window of the world.

When I was in 2nd grade I joined my elementary school's bird watcher's club, and became an Audubon Society member.  The leader was the mother of a kind of dorky boy who had a crush on me.  I liked going to places outside my little town to see "exotic" birds.

In the summer I took secret delight in how the mockingbirds would dive-bomb the local cats.  The seasons resonated with bird songs and migrations.  I still do that, recognize a season or month based on who's singing and how they're singing it.

So today I pulled into my driveway and walked next door to have my neighbors sign a counter offer.  (What kind of neighbor am I that I'm helping my neighbors buy a house and move away?)  After we chatted a bit she  mentioned that she had a hummingbird trapped in her sun room.  I asked to see it and there it was, the tiny thing all panicked and dragging some cobwebs on its feet and right wing.  My neighbor had tried to "guide" it to an open window or door with a broom, but managed to frighten it more instead. The young Anna's hummingbird would flutter ineffectually against the glass, then rest on a beam.  I kicked off my pumps, climbed onto a chair in the west corner of the room, and waited.

When the bird perched I'd reach up to pull cobweb off it; the first couple of times it panicked and flew around, but by the 4th time it  just held still.  I could tell it was weak and tired; it had been trapped since early in the morning so it was hungry.

After about 10 min. my ploy paid off: it rested, wings slightly spread, and I reached from under and behind it, gently close my fingers around it.  The right wing was between my first & middle fingers, and after a brief flutter, it played dead. It held so still that I thought at first the poor thing had had a heart attack.  I held it lightly, it weighted nothing, hardly more than a breath of air, as I dismounted the chair and watched it.  Then I saw the "plink, plink" of its eyelids and knew it would be okay. I walked to the door way and opened my hand.  Two of my neighbor's kids came close but didn't touch it. It stayed on my hand a long time...easily a minute.  I finished removing all traces of cobweb and stepped outside the sun room.  As I moved the bird launched.  Mission: Accomplished.

The first year I lived in Colorado I held my finger underneath a hummingbird as it fed at the feeder we'd hung on a line at our cabin at 8700' feet.  I believe it was May, the sun was warm and most of the snow was gone. The hummers came every day and I watched in fascination.  When the hummer perched on my finger that first time I had a sense of awe, of connection with a force older than I could imagine, more gentle than a baby's breath.  I was transfixed by the bird's metallic beauty and humbled by the momentary trust it gave me.

Those kinds of moments don't happen frequently. Today was a reminder of that time, an opportunity to share with a new generation, another chance to interconnect with humans and nature and give back to a world that has given me so much.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Volunteer Much?

In a word, yes.  The question that begs to be answered is "Why?"
It's complicated.

Volunteer work is both an ego boost and a humbling experience.  The frustrations you have to suck up and deal with; the rewards are intense and short-lived.

As a REALTOR(R) I volunteer on a number of committees...and have done so since I got my license in '04.

And what's the point?  That's a multi-faceted answer.

I get to give back to the REALTOR(R) community...the one that lets me do my job.

I get to have a say in how a committee is run.  I get to give people the opportunity to share, connect, and market themselves.  I offer people a different forum in which to play.  And I get to share fun/frustrations/other experiences with those who are present, as well as those not present: Another way to connect.

My biggest reward is that the opportunity for connection is alive, available on many levels, accessible.  My serving on a fund-raising committee is, ultimately, an opportunity to serve a cause greater than my vision.  That helps the cause as well as my ego, because you can't give without learning a truth about yourself.  And isn't life all about personal growth?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Security Issues

The morning was productive, and since my first appointment wasn't until mid-afternoon I planned to fit in a training ride (my 1st race is in 2-1/2 wks.).  Sidebar: Ride was great; got a huge hit from climbing the big hill and wished I had time to repeat it.

Upon returning I fixed a sandwich (roast beef & horseradish cheddar on whole wheat bread w/Beaver Deli mustard, and an orange off the tree) and attempted to download my Garmin data.  Avast! antivirus called out "Threat detected" and I got to work, investigating what was up.

Every bookmark I hit resulted in the same verbal warning.  I closed out Chrome and tried IE, with the same result.  I closed IE and hit a Twitter link via Tweetdeck...same result.

I closed all the browsers and ran a scan.  I showered & when I came back I found no fewer than 1460 files infected, and a Trojan Horse to boot.  My jaw dropped...I have practiced safe surfing and run anti-virus programs since I first had Internet.  I was blown away.

So the antivirus program suggested I shut down/restart/run a full scan.  So I did.  I made my appointments, ran some errands, came home to find that the infected files could be cleaned up but the best I could do with the TH was to isolate it.

I'm seriously unhappy about this.  I've practiced safe surfing as though the Internet has AIDS, and yet here I am, infected.  No wonky emails have been sent, no accounts hacked, yet a TH is ready for action.

This might not be so noteworthy except that 2 months after the Health Net breach I received notice that my Health Net info was on one of the stolen hard drives (TWO MONTHS?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!), and then last week discovered that Epsilon (I think) had its security breached, and email addresses were compromised.  What's next?

Anyway, that's my rant...and probably a fact of the Internet.  If you surf, you take your chances. And no matter how hard you try, your security can be breached.

Moving forward, once I rid my sweet laptop of this threat, I'll increase security and see if that lets me sleep any better.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Imagine

So today I was shopping at Nugget, my 4th store of the day, and as the bagger filled the bags and loaded them into my cart, she said, "Let's go."  I replied, "Oh, I have this, nothing's too heavy."

Bagger: "Are you sure?  I really don't mind."

Me: "Thanks, I've got it."

Bagger: (crestfallen): "Oh, OK. I like helping you out.  You're so much fun."

Me, taken aback: "Really?  Gee, thanks!  OK, sure."

Bagger: "So what ride did you do today?"

I don't know if she rides, if she's in college, still in high school...I know little about her other than that she's efficient, cute, red-headed, and has paid attention to our shopping habits enough to know what we do. That sold it for me.

I got to thinking as I was leaving the parking lot, what I'd say if one of my clients/friends/acquaintances offered help and I refuse. Of what am I depriving them?  What opportunity am I missing by taking out my own groceries?

This young lady knew that I was capable of pushing out my cart and loading my 4 bags into the car. She wasn't looking for the work. She was looking for another opportunity to connect.  I almost deprived her of that.  I learned more about her in those few minutes than I could have imagined.

As one who has prided (maybe to a fault?) her independence I wondered while driving home what opportunities to connect, to be transparent, to share something some people never get to see but crave, I've missed in my life.  Probably more than I'd like to admit.  Today I let down the "I can do it myself" to accept help that I didn't need from someone who needed to help more than I needed to be helped. I know that young lady got something valuable from that...and so did I.

I'm going to look for more opportunities like this. They're subtle, they're unassuming, yet they have great potential to all involved...if we only open our eyes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Homeowner Hell

Sometime at the buttcrack of dawn on Friday Chris left for a week in Texas.  He's visiting family over the weekend and involved in work T-F.  

I went to Nugget to do the weekly wine tasting in the evening, then met 4 of my runningol mates for a 5-mile run.  Robin & I settled into a nice pace but I didn't get right, kept feeling like I was really working to keep the legs moving.  She has some shoulder issues, and a time constraint, so we cut the run short by about a mile. It's still the longest run I've done since '06.

This morning I tried to open the freezer door (it's a side-by-side unit) and it was stuck. I forced it open and found the ice cube holder half-empty, and a frozen blob at the bottom of the door.  Pried it off and turned fridge & freezer to the limit, then took the dogs for a walk.  When I got home there was no ice, and my cottage cheese was frozen.  Oh, I was so unhappy.

I texted Chris and consulted my home warranty.  For $60 I could've added the fridge but in my attempt to be frugal, I did not. Well, that cost me.  Dang.  

He did some research on his end, and I hit Best Buy (no delivery until Tuesday), a local appliance dealer (could deliver today but would cost $129 more), and a big box store.  BBS can deliver tomorrow between 8-10 (there goes my bike ride w/my friends) and no charge to deliver and haul away the old unit.  

Now I have 30 lbs. of ice in both the refrigerator and freezer sides, and all the magnets and stuff are cleared off the old unit.  What a PITA.

So after installing the ice I thought I'd be productive and mow the grass.  Guess whose lawnmower is waterlogged and won't work?

A glass of Chardonnay and a cigar instead. Gotta love winning.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

First Effort

The Putah Creek Smack Down started March 16. I didn't make it -- mostly because I was showing property, but if I wasn't a wee bit afraid I'd've had my partner fill in for me.

This week, however, I had a plan.  Sunday after our shop ride I got fitted to a time trial bike, an Argon. Then Monday I rode it about 15 miles, stopping whenever I needed to tweak the fit.  Chris brought his multi-tool and was Johnny-on-the-spot with fit tweaking.  At the end of the ride, although I felt kind of like a lawn dart, I was dialed in.

So Wednesday evening I was on my own and overcompensated by taking bike lights and pepper spray.  Yeah, I know. I got a power-nap, a 5 Hour energy drink, and an hour's head start to prepare.  Just what I needed.

The Argon didn't fit on my trunk-rack, so I ditched the rack, put the front wheel in the trunk and the rest of the bike in the back seat, and headed to Winters. In a month I'll be riding to the start and riding home, but there isn't enough daylight now.  I parked, put the bike together, registered (I was #29, like my mental age) and hit the road for a warm up. I did 9 mi. downwind and 9 mi. against the wind to the start.

I warmed up at high intensity and got to the start too far in advance -- easily 16 min. before my time.  My legs had enough time to accumulate lactate so when I started I was in pain for the first mile.  Nevertheless I hit a gear and bore down. I found myself slacking 3 times pushed back to my limit 3 times.

The Garmin told the story: 10 miles, avg. HR 159,  27:32 ride time.

Results yesterday showed 27:29, a personal best for me.  I rode this on my Orbea non-aero bike 2 yrs. ago in 27:32, in July, so to beat that time so early in the season is a big deal.  To say I'm pleased is an understatement.  I'm stoked!

Road race next week -- will I be crowing or eating crow?  Stay tuned!