Feb 21

Someone’s alarm went off at 5:30 — and then I was awake

I think this morning marked the fourth time we’ve shoveled the driveway in the last week or so. It’s a small driveway, thankfully, and this was a light snow. Probably it didn’t even need to be done, but it’s become rote. Get up, examine the pavement, and then eat something, maybe. While our little stretch of paved paradise took an hour and change on Tuesday after the biggest snow, it went quickly today.

Mostly I wanted to do a better job of digging out the nearby fire hydrant. One of my former students did a story on this at his station in Ohio this week and I was somewhat guilted into it. So slush slush and heave ho and, oh, look, the city guy that plows the walking path behind us but not the street in front of us came through and poured his best effort into the road.

Because what you want … nah, what I want … is for you to drive down an untreated road and then hit a snow bank you can’t see right in front of my yard and the electrical boxes and the gas line.

I don’t know anything about plowing roads, and I wonder who around here actually does.

So I got that off the road, just being neighborly and all. And then, since I had fully warmed up my core, I decided to go on a little bike ride.

This is the volcano route on Zwift’s fictional world. Some of the environments they offer are trying to be realistic. Some have a bit of a futuristic feel and this one is pure fantasy. My avatar is riding through a volcano there. You go in the volcano twice on the way up and twice again after you ride to the top of the active volcano.

I’m breathing a bit on the bike in the house, which does not smell of sulfur, could you imagine that in real life?

Anyway, I left my bike in one of the harder gears and just dragged myself all the way to the top of this little climb. It’s a good weekday sort of thing. It doesn’t take even a slow person like me forever, and you can still move around a bit when you’re done. I had an hour this morning, and this is what I did.

Zwift charts the King of the Mountain, which is the fastest person up the route. And the current leader is a name I recognize. Dylan Teuns is much faster than I am. He’s younger, stronger, a climber, more fit and also, and this part is incredibly important, an insanely talented professional cyclist. But today I got to the top of the climb in just under twice the amount of time it took him to do it. So I’m putting him on notice.

I can tell by the number of replies he’s not sent that I’m absolutely in his head.

Anyway, that was my second time up the volcano route, and I shaved a little over a minute off my previous time. So I guess there’s something to that snow shovel warm up.

This evening it was back to the studio. We shot the talk show first, new semester, new soccer season, new host.

And Jevan was on the desk to kick off the semester. Were there gifs? There were gifs.

Thursday nights run into Friday quickly into Fridays. Dinner, dishes, and, now, bedtime. We’ll be back in the studio again tomorrow morning. I’m tired already. Can’t imagine why.

Feb 21

Whirring sounds from the bike room

I came home this evening and hoped on the bike. I’ve been doing an eight stage tour of the Zwift worlds to start the year and tonight was the conclusion, it was flat and fast. I rode around the storied Champs-Élysées a few times. Look, you can see the Eiffel Tower:

Here’s the course, the loop at the top is around the iconic Arc de Triomphe.

We visited there on a trip (remember those?) in 2015:

Here’s the view from the top:

(More of that trip to Paris, here and here.)

And that wrapped up my Tour de Zwift. But I needed some more miles, so I picked a route in London and saw the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster a few times.

Not quite as nice as the real thing, but it will do just fine for a cold and snow-covered evening.

(You can see more of my visit to London here.)

I was riding very fast, for me, which means average for most people. It was a fine mid-week workout. Now I have to go catch my breath.

Feb 21

This one confuses the dot org space-time continuum, sorry

There’s a new look to the front page. And now I know what that’s supposed to look like. Click on the image below to check it out.

I’m really looking forward to the next update of the front page — probably in the next week or so. It’ll really hit the theme’s design.

Last night I did an amazing thing. I was riding up a hill on the bike trainer, turning out more watts than the session demanded, because the session didn’t seem especially demanding, and I had a flat. I developed a little pinhole on an indoor ride. So I stopped my ride because you can’t ride on a flat. It was almost dinnertime, anyway. So I’ll just have to re-do that workout later this week.

I looked it up. You can get a flat on a trainer in the traditional ways. But there’s no debris in my tire or in the wheel rim. So this must have been a trainer flat, which means I was super-heating the thing.

Yeah, there probably was something in the wheel that put the little hole in the tube, but it’s more fun to imagine I friction-burned the thing into submission.

(I wrote this part Wednesday, but it pertains to Tuesday and Wednesday.) I almost fell asleep, three or four times, watching a car chase tonight. Because I was tired, and it was late, and the chase lasted all night, and four hours into the morning.

This is what happened. At 10:19 p.m. we got the notification that NBC LA was in the air following a car. The driver was wanted as a possible suspect in a shooting. The gang division had been following him and he wasn’t going to go easy into that good night. He raced across surface streets, living the charmed life of someone who is ignoring every light, a charmed life until, suddenly it isn’t.

But he managed to work his way through two parts of greater L.A. and onto the interstate system. He raced along the freeways. And then he started going slower. And then slower. And much, much slower. After a time, he would crawl to a stop, the police cars would line up in their traffic stop configuration and he would drive away again.

It was amusing at first, until it became boring. And he did it so much it became amusing again. And then just frustrating. But you’re invested in the thing by then. And that’s the problem, because you figure “I’m invested in this thing now. What’s a satisfactory outcome?” You don’t watch chases for bad things to happen. I don’t want to see any innocent people also on the road getting hurt. I don’t want to see this guy get shot. I also don’t want him to get away. So I, secretly, cheer for a foot chase and then a good solid linebacker-style tackle of the suspect who is, in this case, considered armed and dangerous.

At about 4 a.m., seriously, and after about two hours of slow crawling on three flats, he finally drove the rim off the driver front side of the car. This, as we know, brings the car portion of any chase to its conclusion. Police were content to let this play out on it’s own time because the driver had turned this into a slow-speed chase hours ago. They didn’t want to PIT him, because you don’t want to go nose-to-nose with a guy who is carrying a weapon.

Within five seconds of that rim falling off, and the car going down to its drive axle, the local NBC lost its feed. For about 60-75 seconds NBCLA was offering me one of those video autoplays that play every story other than the one you want.

When I got the feed back the driver was out of the car and standing on the closed highway. He’s got his hands up. He’s facing away from the officers while the cops are doing whatever cops do there. It takes forever. The dude puts his arms down. They command him to raise his arms again, he turns and yells to them back over his shoulder, and raises his arms. Until he lowers them again. More yelling. He raises them. He lowers them. On and on this goes.

Until the helicopter had to leave again for fuel consumption. (This was their third helo of the chase, mind you.) So after a six hour chase, about 5:40 of THAT being on camera, NBCLA couldn’t even get the apprehension.

Their story this morning notes he had two outstanding wants for felony burglary. No weapon was found.

Guess who’s dragging around tired eyes today?

Jan 21

Two high-water marks

I got in a 26-mile bike ride on Zwift this evening. The first little bit of it was a VO2 max workout. That’s about your oxygen consumption in an exercise of incrementally intensity. As it turns out, the last vestige of any athletic ability I ever possessed can be found in my fairly decent VO2, and so this exercise was more fun than hard. Five four minute intervals at 225 watts. Look at those pretty, even, graphics.

But that was just an hour, and so I decided to ride some more. I did two laps of this course:

And that’s how I spent about 90 minutes, looking out at the melting snow in the diminishing light. We had 11 hours and two minutes of daylight today, Nautical twilight was at 7:04 p.m. and tomorrow will be almost two minutes longer. One of the real treats here, the increasing length of days.

This summer I’ll be able to stand in the yard and see a still-light blue sky at 9:30 at night. And summer can never get here fast enough or stay long enough, in part, because of that.

I finished up my DIY pocket squares. This is the final batch of seven. I probably won’t use all of these, those floral prints are a bit much, but they came in the mini-batch with the purples, which seemed like a color to have on hand. The days are getting longer. Spring pastels will be out soon, after all. (So that’s how the stay-at-home has been treating me. Why do you ask?)

So I counted and now I have … a lot of these things. But my jackets will look sharp, so I’ll have that going for me.

Jan 21

Inauguration Day, riding with Bo

There was something pointed and determined and grim about the inaugural. They are, by design, designed in certain ways. And the impressive thing about this particular speech was that it hit all the hallmarks in keeping with the formula, so as to not sound as out-of-left-field as the previous one, and yet, it took it’s own tone. A historical one, in a way. Which is obvious, you might say, because these speeches are written for our contemporaries, but also our posterity. And that is true.

Today’s speech, though, seemed like a tone from a different time. This was an early nation kind of speech. It’s themes were humility and the continuation of our style of government. It was not global, but looking inward and to our own society, focusing on work, health care, safe schools, the coronavirus. It was foundational, and attitudinal, warning against the bitter extremes “anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence.”

A speech such as this finds its themes formed by the world around them. So you must think of the capitol city as it is today, the country and the mood of it as it is today. That’s how the text sought to strike a balance between basic aspiration and some more densely brooding spirits of the dangers to democracy, pinned with the needs to preach unity and togetherness.

It was a speech out of time, and a speech absolutely for the time. What an unusual time.

It will be interesting, and important, to see how this inaugural speech is viewed through the long lens of time. But for now, today, it does feel as though a tiny bit of breath you’ve somehow held onto for some time can now, finally, at last, be exhaled.

This evening we had the chance to go on a bike ride with a hero and a celebrity.

Bo had, you can tell, already warmed up a bit. And that is why he took off and left everyone. Never mind the fact that he’s 58 and is bionic. Bo can absolutely fly on a bicycle. If this was about anyone who isn’t already a superhuman, I would suspect video game shenanigans.

Put it this way. On this ride there were 49 Strava segments and I PRed 31 of them. I had the ride of the year — indeed, the ride of the last several years. I never had a chance stay with the lead groups. Never. None. And Bo was somewhere out ahead of all of them. Except for The Yankee. She was in front of him at some point, of course. But he was also answering questions from people on the ride. The same old questions, with charm and good cheer.

(You should not try the bat breaking trick(s) at home.)

Years ago there was a video of two sports reporters who took a bat out back of their newspaper and tried to do everything they could think of to break a bat like Bo Jackson. It looked painful. They looked silly, which they embraced. And they failed. I can’t find the video anymore.

Anyway, this wasn’t a nostalgia trip, this is a fund raising exercise. Good cause? Great cause.

This is the 10th anniversary of Bo Bikes Bama, and the second year with the Zwift installment, apparently. Zwift have become big supporters of the fast man who’s well up the road.

Where can you donate? So glad you asked. Over the years these bike rides and the surrounding efforts have raised more than $2 million for the Alabama Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund. Bo Jackson’s efforts in the community have helped bankroll relief projects, the construction of 68 safe rooms and developed other disaster preparedness resources.

There’s no group ride this year, owing to the pandemic. But there is a ride from home fund raiser and another Zwift ride, in April. I plan on being easily dropped in that one, too.

Goodnight, Bo.