Monday


19
Jan 21

Snow video and cats, what the web was made for

I said it would snow, because the meteorologists said it would snow. And so it snowed, light flurries pretty much all weekend. We got maybe two inches out of the deal. Here’s some video proof:

And here’s some slow-mo snow, ponderous precipitation, facile flurries:

It was melting away in the early afternoon, but more flakes fell, amounting to little of nothing. And we’ll have some more overnight, but that will be the last of it for a while. Sun and clouds for the next few days. And Thursday we might hit 46 degrees! A delightfully mild week seems like just the thing, doesn’t it?

Let’s check in with the cats, who are a handful and just fine, thanks.

Phoebe is checking out something on that first sunny day we enjoyed after a long stretch of bleh.

Fortunately she was able to work in a bit of sunbathing into her busy schedule.

Poseidon spends a lot of his mornings contemplating the deeper things in life, like ‘What is spotted ball?’

He, too, enjoys the sun. Sitting on the cat tree lets him be taller than you, and he can really fill the frame.

Sometimes I think he understands the idea behind camera sense. Sometimes I think he’s a philosopher cat. Usually, he’s just … we call him high spirited.

Had a great bike ride this afternoon, going up the Alpe du Zwift. I am so very slow, and it takes me forever. But I did hold off a couple of people the whole way up the mountain. They were the other slow climbers, like me.

Scroll around and look at this climb:

The map looks reminiscent of my Alpe D’Huez shirt, which I am wearing this evening in honor of my massive video game accomplishment. I found the photo function on Zwift today, because on a long slow climb, you can discover new things. This is right after the summit:

This was on the descent:

That’s my second hors categorie climb. I am so slow. It actually snowed on the climb. The app showed little drifts of snow scurrying across the road as I huffed and puffed. It has a lot of detail to it.

Twelve mile climb, 3,753 feet of elevation, and an average gradient of 8.5 percent means I will feel this tomorrow, too.


11
Jan 21

It’s only a day away

Dreary day. Dreary weekend. Winter is here. We’re low on snow, but that’s just fine. I’m pretty sure it has snowed more, so far, on family in Alabama than it has here. So they’ve had their fill of snow, and maybe we can just go without this year.

Of course, the year when you don’t go much of anywhere, it might be nice to sit and watch it fall and not have to worry too much about it.

I am looking forward to seeing the sun and blue skies, which may return as soon as … tomorrow? Tomorrow! If so it would be the first sunny day since … January 4th. That was the only day that had nice atmospheric conditions this year. That is, in fact, as nice as it has been since the day after Christmas.

If you were here you could have seen a blue sky and the sun for the better part of six hours, since Dec. 26, 2020. In the last 17 days you could have seen the blue sky, or the sun, for 1.4 percent of the time. Which explains a lot, I’m sure.

I think the cats can tell. Phoebe is sleeping a lot more like this lately:

This photo of her hints at some sun, and it was taken on … January the 4th (see above):

Poseidon has lately found a new interest. He is a keen observer of car chases.

That one shows a helicopter pulling away after a pursuit ended when the driver jumped out of his car and ran into Los Angeles’ storm drain system. We can all agree that if part of your night has found you in the storm system, you’ve likely made some unconventional decisions. This, I said as the helicopter moved away to its next assignment before they killed the web feed, is the problem with car chases. Often, you don’t get a resolution. Maybe the next one! Maybe tomorrow!

Take this one, for example. Poe was watching here a guy who worked his way into a Motel 6, where the standoff began. They didn’t stick with that one, either. “It was not immediately clear if the driver was located and arrested,” says the station’s website. Which, if you’re going to write it, stick with it. Maybe the next one! Maybe tomorrow! On the other hand, it’s better than watching a dramatic accident unfold in front of you.

And it’s an influence thing, too. He’s klutzy enough on his own. Let’s not give him ideas.

This evening we went for a walk and saw the pond out back was starting to freeze in layers:

Of course we tested it out:

And after our little walk, which was only about three miles because it was 24 degrees, I pedaled on the bike for an hour.

Got in a nice 20 miles before dinner. That’s the world course from the UCI Championship in 2015, which I’ve mentioned here before. I wonder where I might ride the next time. Maybe tomorrow!


4
Jan 21

Yes, there are cat photos

It was a lovely little weekend. We ventured out to pick up our regular Chick-fil-A lunch, and the parking lot was almost entirely empty, despite being noon on a Saturday. Everyone was watching bowl games, safely at home, I’m sure. We took ours home to do that very thing, and had a day full of football, and evening chatting with a few friends. It was all delightful.

We spent yesterday afternoon riding bikes indoors. The Yankee and I tooled around Normandy and a flat part of France for a while.

And then I slowly went a third of the way up Mont Ventoux. According to Zwift Insider … :

This GPS-accurate model of the world-famous climb is by far the toughest ascent in game, climbing 1480 meters (4857′) from the beginning to end of the timed KOM segment.

It’s something like a mile of vertical gain! Naturally my non-climbing self is eager to get to the top of one of the storied cycling mountains. I just need to plan my days better. And I’ll need to bring my lunch.

Oh, it’s the Bedoin ascent, one of the hardest in cycling. It’ll take me hours, plural. I’m looking forward to doing the whole thing.

Seeing that it is Monday, we do our regular photo feature checking in on the kitties. They’re doing swell. Phoebe really likes paper bags.

This was once a bag full of bagels. We have a few grocery store paper bags that I can’t bring myself to fold up or re-use because every so often she re-discovers them and they serve as either a complete cave, a cute hidey-hole like above or a nice place just to have a seat and think cat thoughts.

Poseidon had a nice morning in the sun recently.

When he does the early morning chattering thing, and it is always him, it could be that he thinks the sun is ready for him and we should open the curtains. He’s always wrong, and I really wish he would figure out how the tree line is an obstacle to his winter sunbathing.

Phoebe gets her time in the rays, too, of course. But this is more of an afternoon warming session..

And here’s Poseidon, hard at work.

More tomorrow. Until then, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account. You can keep up with me on Instagram. And don’t forget my Twitter, where most of the nonsense goes.


28
Dec 20

The week in between

And how was your Christmas? And your weekend? And what does this null week look like for you?

We didn’t travel for the holidays, being safety conscious and risk adverse and all of that. The first Christmas I’ve spent in my own house, I was a newborn. The second, we were stuck in an ice storm. This, the third, I’m frozen in place by a pandemic.

So it was weird, and sad in some respects and empty and quiet in those same respects. But it was simple, and quiet, and lovely. The Yankee made cookies for Santa.

I picked us up some stocking stuffers — I think this was the first time I’d ever done that — and my mother-in-law mailed stockings, as well. So the two of us had four stockings, plus lovely presents.

The only downside being what could be shared in person. Had a nice long conversation with my mom. We had an amazing prime rib dinner, in keeping with tradition.

Here’s the before:

Here’s the during:

For the after, imagine two empty plates. Also, there were green beans and sweet potato casserole and a shrimp cocktail.

After all of that we had a video chat with The Yankee’s parents. Just add hugs. And we’ve all decided to keep track of how we’re going to make up for it when we can visit in person again. The best part is that everyone is healthy and safe, even if we can’t all be together. One of my relatives got out of the hospital yesterday after spending several days of Covid treatments. Hopefully they’ll continue to follow medical advice and stay away from others. More of the family should be following the now repetitive and obvious advice, but not everyone gets it, even if some of them get it.

But I sigh and digress.

I sighress.

The cats also had a fine Christmas. Their presents, which were wrapped, were kept in a closed closet to help them avoid temptation. One present’s wrapping paper did get chewed on a bit overnight. Added to the character of the day.

Poseidon is enjoying his toys immensely:

That little thing was covered in cat spit. Covered. I couldn’t put it in the creek out back and get it any wetter. Hours later it was still damp.

Phoebe is a much more thoughtful player:

On Saturday we rode through a bit of London.

Yesterday afternoon we toured the French countryside in Normandy.

And those were just the highlights. The normal stuff, the regular things, those are what really makes a great weekend.


21
Dec 20

Look! Up in the air!

I got setup on Zwift and a new indoor trainer this weekend, a gift from my lovely bride. Let’s see how bad this can hurt me.

Quite a bit, it turns out. That was a Saturday afternoon introduction ride, and for the next several rides, I’m sure, I’ll try to formulate the way that this style of riding is similar, and completely different, to being on the road. And I can’t wait to try to get better next week!

We had a nice walk on Sunday. The park nearest us was closed for surfacing repairs, said the sign. But the swings were open. And she is excellent at flying through the air.

She got that high because I helped push a little. We agreed that the days of high-altitude ejections was behind us. Knees and age and all that. But you’re always a kid again on a proper swing set.

Speaking of flying through the air, I finished up the David McCullough book, The Wright Brothers, last night. This was certainly one way to end a chapter on a down note.

I enjoy McCullough’s work, and have read about half of his immensely well-regarded catalog. This book seemed a bit rushed in the back-half, however. Having worked through the significant achievement of flight, the book glosses over training of Walter Brookins in Montgomery, Alabama and others elsewhere, the barnstorming and so on. It’s not the authoritative text, and is hardly extant, but it’s a good opening read on the Wright family.

Speaking of up in the sky, saw this cloud on this evening’s walk. I guess I was thinking about antique flight because, in the few moments before I could to a clear view of it, the shape reminded me of a dirigible.

Clouds being some of the most ephemeral and over-observed items available to us, it probably looked like a dozen things to a dozen different sets of eyes while it was lazing about today’s calm sky. What was your bunny was someone else’s turtle and my steampunk airship.

Planetary movement being predictable in ways that clouds are not, we all knew to go outside and look this evening. And, here, we had a good glimpse of the mislabeled Christmas Star.

I was sure, when I first read of the Great Conjuction a month or so ago, that we wouldn’t be able to see it because of the season’s regular dose of cloud cover — almost as predictable as the planets! — but we had a brilliantly clear and cool night.

And if you, like me, wondered if this or a similar planetary conjunction might have been central to the Christmas story, some astronomers who know how to calculate those things did the math and said, maybe, possibly, but also perhaps not.