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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!


8
Jan 21

A mediation on …

There was a peculiar color in the air — is a phrase that has never been crawled across the web by Google’s spiders. It’s also wrong, in the sense of how we use language, which is why it’s never been written, one supposes. But it is particularly accurate in how we use science.

Color is, you might recall, the range of wavelengths based on how matter behaves in light, each substance’s combination of atoms and electron configuration send signals to the inner bits of the eye. Those signals work their way back to the command center for processing. Rods and cones, brain interpretation. And the brain says “There was a peculiar color in the air.”

So, really, it should be, my eyes and brain were detecting odd things brought on my the angle of the sun and various atmospheric considerations.

What I’m saying is that this usually green shrub held an unusual yellowish hue. So, yeah. There was a peculiar color in the air.

And it just hung there, for much of the day, or at least as long as I stood at the window looking at things, nodding ponderously, re-considering, not for the first time, how light works.

Photons, bouncing off things. What a concept! Once you can wrap your mind around that, the sky — with it’s shorter, smaller wavelengths — is the limit.

I changed the photos on the front page of the site to more generally reflect the season. Three of the photos in the set, including the one below, are from this year.

So click on over to the front page to check out the new look. And check back often, those do get updated.

And have a great weekend! Check back on Monday, when we’ll look in on the cats, and see if we can’t make up something interesting that did or didn’t happen over the weekend.

In the meantime, visit Twitter for more, and check me out on Instagram. And, hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? It’s full of timeline-beautifying cuteness. Check them out.


5
Jan 21

A-ha!

This is a lightbulb. I saw it in a bulk mail advertisement and thought I would give them a try. So we got a few for stocking stuffers this year. They are called fireworks lights. They don’t move or make big sounds or change shape or color or anything. They do throw a nice, colorful, half light around the small space of a half bath. So I got a few more and put them in the stairwell. You can still see the stairs, it’s better than a standard yellow light. Now it feels like you are in a movie theater, and so far this week I haven’t stumped a toe. Yet.

Lightbulbs are symbols of brilliant ideas. And so today, having photographed a lightbulb, it seemed important to have an idea.

This evening I did the first stage of something called the Tour de Zwift. I think it’s simply a come-see-the-place kind of gimmick. Ride in many of our venues! Try different styles and distances! That sort of thing. Mostly it’s just a good way to see how slow I am compared to everyone else.

Anyway, the first round of stages are the shorter parts of the Zwift environment. Makes sense. But that’s not long enough for a day’s ride. So after seven quick miles, I figured that was a warmup, and why not do something else.

So I went up.

Which, if you’ll see on the road markings, is the only way. I’ve only had a smart trainer and a Zwift setup for a couple of weeks. And this weekend I went a third of the way up the biggest climb on Zwift, a faithful recreation of Mont Ventoux’s Bedoin ascent, which is universally regarded as one of the more challenging mountain climbs in road cycling.

Which is where I should say a few things. I’m no climber. Also, as noted, I’m slow. And especially so when going uphill. Furthermore, Zwift is fun and probably helpful to the overall cause, but in a few important ways it’s not exactly the same as riding on a road. For the purposes of this discussion, I never feel like I’m about to fall over when slowly trying to go uphill.

So riding up Mount Ventoux wasn’t easy, but most assuredly easier than most assuredly easier than doing it in real life.

Finally, after a long time, because I’m slow, I saw the weather station at the famed summit up close.

It’s just 13 miles up, a little over 22 kilometers, but it’s a long and steady up, up and farther up. These are the average inclines.

KM     Avg gradient        KM     Avg gradient
1     1.9%        12     10.1%
2     2.8%        13     9.2%
3     3.8%        14     9.4%
4     5.8%        15     8.8%
5     5.6%        16     6.9%
6     3.1%        17     6.6%
7     8.6%        18     6.8%
8     9.4%        19     7.4%
9     10.5%        20     8.3%
10     10.1%        21     9.1%
11     9.3%        22     10.0%

It’s not a leg breaking kind of climb, hills shaped like that aren’t especially hard to find. The difference is the distance. And this is definitely cumulative. The distance, the unrelenting nature of the thing, that’s what taxes your muscles. There aren’t many places on the way up where you aren’t asking your legs to pull you up something that isn’t a strain. I spent most of the time in my lowest gears.

Two other things about a trainer ride aren’t quite right. I, of course, stayed at 760 feet above sea level the whole time I was climbing. If I’d gone all the way up to a real-life altitude of 6,263 feet, I would have felt it. Though, to be honest, late in the ride it seemed like the room was thinning out.

What you also don’t experience on Zwift is the wind. Ventoux is a variant of venteux, which means windy in French. They’ve recorded wind speeds as high as 200 miles per hour near the summit. It blows in the upper 50s for two-thirds of the year. And if you get a headwind, good luck. Me, I was dealing with an underpowered ceiling fan.

But I did this. I climbed a digital representation of a legitimate mountain.

On the descent I came back down the giant fast, again feeling nothing like the real world. I’m old enough now to feather the brakes. At about 60 miles per hour Zwift was having trouble rendering some of the graphics during the descent. I just couldn’t wait for those trees to appear, I was ready to be off the bike, cleaned up, have dinner, do the dishes and enjoy some time quality time with the compression boots.

So I can go do it again.


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.


1
Jan 21

Happy New Year

This is already off to a great start, don’t you think? It just feels brighter. Happier. New. It did after midnight, anyway. How long does that last, in reality? Sure, the get outta here 2020 thing is a good joke and a fervent plea, but no one is operating with the false ideal that things will be different when they get back to work next week. (Sigh.) But perception is reality and, for at least a few real minutes, the calendar is the perception. Maybe it sticks. Maybe it sticks for you.

(Those are Fourth of July fireworks from two years ago, because it fit the theme, right? But we’re done with that now. And we’re going to do things for real and right, right? Right.)

Slept in, because, you know, had to see the world’s most awkward made-for-television television event. Cat woke me up. He did not have “being considerate” as a new year’s resolution because, of course our cats understand calendars and the concepts of fresh starts and the turning over of a new leaf. They understand these things, but it got ignored this morning, and so I’m resolved to do something about that cat.

And then I fell back asleep. These things together just through the whole day out of whack. No matter. It’s an easy and light day. Went for a nice walk. Watched some football. Got ready for this:

Oh, dinner was so good. We frozen the extra ribs from Christmas and had them tonight as a candlelight dinner.

A candlelight dinner for New Year’s. We sat, and talked, and it was delightful. We resolved to have more candlelight dinners. They can’t all be like this though.

And later, the compression boots. Feet, calves, knees and quads. It’s a four-point system of delightful and intense pain.

So, yeah, already off to a great start.

Happy New Year, to you and yours. Be smart, be safe.

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account.