Wednesday, February 28, 2007

School House Rant

Temperature at departure = 33° F (1° C)

450 students attend my youngest son's elementary school. Of those 450, 180 ride the bus, leaving 270 to get to school via parents driving them, walking or riding a bike. Yesterday I took my camera along to get a picture to use as a foundation for a presentation I'm trying to put together to encourage more kids to get out of their parents cars and becoming self-propelled. Yesterday was an anomaly; there were two bikes in the rack. Normally there is only one, my son's.

This was the calm before the storm. Once the kids come out, more cars show up and everyone is jockeying for position and struggling to get out.

So, here comes the science: Percentage of kids that rode their bike yesterday = 0.7. I do not have any numbers on how many kids walk, but I plan on chatting with the two crossing guards stationed at the two busiest intersections on the main street (one of them is a half mile away from school).

Over the last two weeks:
The average morning temperature has been 35°.
Average afternoon temperature = 54°.
Average number of children who have riden a bike to school = 1.5
Average percentage of students who have riden their bike to school in the last two weeks = 0.5.

My point is, the weather was nice enough that many of the kids who are driven to school could walk. Parents who drive to drop off and pick up their children because they are afraid to let their kids walk should try walking too. I noticed one parent drove 0.2 miles to pick up their child. That is 352 yards. I don't get it, why didn't they walk? It was 48°, a beautiful day. My school isn't an isolated case; check out Friz's post on CommuteByBike for an example that trumps my 352 yards.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Follow-up to COPS

Here is what I stumbled into this morning as I was riding by the apartment complex. I knew it was serious ... but not this serious.


Temperature at departure = 28° F (-2° C)

I have neither the time nor inclination to try to embed the theme from the Fox TV series COPS here. Even if I did, you'd just be looking for the button to mute it; so, for the duration of this post I would encourage you to quietly hum the COPS theme. Here, I'll get you started:

Bad boys, bad boys
Watcha gonna do...

"Dad, I forgot my lunch." "Okay," I told my youngest, "I'll go back and get it. I'll leave it at the office." No big deal, I was behind on my monthly goal for miles ridden in February anyway and was looking to pick up some more on the ride to work today. As I hopped off the bike I realized that I was wearing my balaclava. I was concerned that it might freak some of the people at school out to have me walk in that way but I was greeted with "Hi Warren" and "Good morning Mr. T." There was, however, a rather startled looking young lady which I've never met at the desk that had a bit of a panicked look. I could just imagine her pushing a panic button or something to summon the police... "Curtis forgot his lunch. He's in Miss V's class." And out I went.

We break for commercial and when we come back, I've ridden another 1.3 miles and am getting ready to get on the part of the path that has a real steep incline down and back up the other side. This stretch of path goes through a couple of different apartment complexes and I learned that even if the school had called the police, there wouldn't have been any available to respond since it looked like the entire Overland Park Police Department was getting ready to storm an apartment just off the path. I counted 4 cars and many more officers, so I assume some of the cars were out back. there were a couple of the officers standing on the path either side of the bridge over the creek, hands on holsters. ...and here I come in a ski mask... The bright yellow jacket with reflecting tape probably did a bit to establish my non-combatant status. I asked one officer if it was okay for me to continue on the path and she said, "Sure." I thanked her and said something like "Stay safe." They looked like they knew what they were doing. For once I had my camera with me, but I thought better than to stick around and take pictures.

I should have a picture for you tomorrow; one of something that has been bugging me a bit. So tune in tomorrow.

Watcha gonna do
When they come for you

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Proud Papa

Temperature at departure = 38° F (3° C)

Let me brag about my 14 year-old for a moment. He has always been an incredible musician. Last week, as an 8th grader, he tried out for next year's Shawnee Mission South Jazz Band - and made it. Realize, the South band is the largest in the district and has a TON of trumpet players. It's rare to make the jazz band as a freshman so this is quite an accomplishment. Way to go Jonathan!

Most all of the ice has melted off the path. All that remains is patches that are in the shade of bridges and the like. I took the opportunity this morning to really push myself and cut four minutes of my normal time, bumping my recent average MPH from 11.6 to 14.0. It was a pleasure to be able to just keep riding rather than having to slow down or stop to walk across the ice.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Temperature at departure = 36° F (2° C)

Now that I’m back on the bike path and out of traffic for my commute, I’ve charged up and loaded the MP3 player with some podcasts for the ride. On the most recent episode of The Spokesmen, I heard CommuteByBike’s Tim Grahl referred to as an “ambassador for cycling.” I liked the ring of that and got to thinking about how I could become more of an ambassador. Yesterday afternoon I got my chance.

It was such a beautiful afternoon I took my lunch hour late so I could meet up with my youngest and ride home with him. The ice has melted off most of the path so I arrived at the bike rack about 10 minutes early. Wasn’t too difficult picking out my son’s bike because there were only two bikes in the rack. A few of the parents who had struggled to claim a parking spot (blocking out the school busses) were having a conversation with some of the other parents who had to park across the street and down the block a bit and walk over to meet their children; there was a lot of talk about what a nightmare it is to pick their kids up. When they looked over at me I just smiled.

I got my chance to be an ambassador when two of the dads came over to ask me if I’d still been riding in the frigid temperatures and all the ice and snow. I told them that the snow had knocked me out of the last week and a half but the temperatures really aren’t an issue. Then came the phrase that is often heard:

I wish I could get out on my bike more.

“It’s pretty easy, we’re a half mile away and it takes us about 3 minutes to get here.” And then, the comment that hopefully hooked them: “It’s nice not having to try to find a parking spot and it’s a breeze getting out of here.” One of the dads commented that he was going to give it a try when the weather gets a little nicer. At that point the other dad was now blocked in, Curtis came out, unlocked his bike and off we went.

Now, I just need to remind myself to follow up with the guy who seemed to be serious about trying it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Black Ice

Temperature at departure = 36° F (2° C)

It was a beautiful weekend. I even got Presidents Day off (even though I was on call). The high temperature was 58° yesterday and it has been pretty mild for a couple days. Plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures still haven't rid us of all of the effects of Friday's nasty snow storm, but we're getting there.

The ride in was an adventure - There are still enough ice patches to make the ride interesting. In fact, one of the cool parts of the ride was all the left over ice foot prints. Like something out of a CSI:NY episode, the places were people walked on the snow compacted it enough that it didn't melt as quickly as the snow and ice around it. The result was a bunch of perfect two inch tall ice foot prints on the path. The other obstacle was the patches of black ice where the melt off froze overnight. Often, I didn't even see it until I was slipping around on it. Kind of fun...

Anyway, I rode an extra three miles on the way in since it was such a beautiful morning. My attitude is great (for a change) and I'm ready for the day a cup of coffee.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ha ha ha

Not one other person in the office I work in watches 24. You can't believe how frustrating it was that I couldn't share the following with them:

Meanwhile, temperatures are finally climbing above freezing and I'm hoping most of the snow and ice will be melted off by Tuesday in time for the boys and I to get back in the saddle.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Facing Facts

With the single digit temperatures and the snow this week, it will be next week before the boys and I will get out on the bikes again. Fortunately, it looks like temperatures will be up in the 40's and 50's in about a week.

In the mean time, one of the projects CAT has been working on has been the lighting in Union Station for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Here is some of what she's done for this project.

From CAT lights KC

Monday, February 12, 2007

I've got good news and bad news...

Bad news first: Rain and temperatures around 36° today. It kept me from riding. I know; wimp.

Good news: Rain and temperatures around 36° today. Looks like it is forcing the melting of the remaining patches of ice.

In other news, it looks like one of the bikes used in Pee Wee's Big Adventure was just sold on eBay. That would have been cool for the commute, but I don't think I'd pay around 18 grand for it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wonderful Day

Temperature at departure = 27° F (-3° C)

As a follow-up to a previous post, Peter and I got to take our ride today. We went 16.5 miles round trip with a stop in the middle at the Daily Dose for a hot beverage. Lots of adventure as several icy patches tried their best to hinder us. That turned out to be a lot of fun though; had some good laughs at ourselves.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and I enjoyed some one-on-one time with Peter. Conversation, exercise, coffee, adventure -- the best afternoon of the year so far!
Our average MPH was only 9.4, but there were several times we had to stop and walk over the really bad patches of ice. All but about a mile, perhaps a mile and a half was on the bike path. The hill going up Quivera was a challenge from 127th to 135th -- but a LOT of fun on the way back where we were moving along at 25 MPH without any pedalling. After we got home I made a big pot of chili which the boys snarfed down. Like I said, great day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wasn't I Just Going That Way?

Temperature at departure = 20° F (-7° C)

And now, another episode of Lessons Learned On the Bike Path. Here's your host, Warren T.

Good afternoon and welcome to Lessons Learned on the Bike Path. Today's lesson - riding on ice. When riding on ice with slick tires, it is best to keep pedalling to maintain balance and momentum. If you stop pedalling you may loose control of your bicycle and, in some cases, you may spin out 180° and fall to the ice - hard.

Now, I'm not 100% sure that is a true statement, but I now have anecdotal evidence that says it is. I can also tell the City of Overland Park that the new tunnel for the bike path has temporary residents using bubble wrap and Bud Lite to keep warm. Fun day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Big Plans

Temperature at departure = 17° F (-8° C)

Peter saw this bike up in a tree and shot me a quick picture. I somehow don't think this was an intentional security measure... He called to tell me he'll be home this weekend and we're planning a big bike ride for Saturday. I'm hoping the forecast changes as it looks like more snow is headed our way.

Having said that and having had the chance to ride home in the slush on the path yesterday and the re-frozen path this morning -- I've decided that next year I'm going to have to buy an old beater mountain bike and make it into a snow bike. Too much fun!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


It was in the upper 50's for my ride home. Too bad it isn't going to last as temperatures are forecast to be topping out in the low to mid 20's again tomorrow. I took the path home, just to see if it was clear - it wasn't. Got mud splashed everywhere and got to slide around on the remaining, melting ice patches. Kinda fun. I'm hoping it cleared off a bit more as the day progressed as I plan on taking the path tomorrow.

Fritz challenges and I respond:

Temperatures rise
Ice slowly begins melting
Slush is not my friend

When Will This End?

Temperature at departure = 20° F (-7° C)

Man, I'm getting out of shape. My ride in today was about the shortest commute in I've taken as I couldn't get on the path; that put me out in traffic pushing it as hard as I could riding into a 10 MPH headwind. This is going to be the first day above freezing in a while and the only one in the 10 day forecast, so I couldn't let today go by without riding in. Hopefully this will melt the majority of the frozen glop off the path and I'll be back in business able to take a longer, easier, quieter route - and get the boys back on their bikes.

You know you're tired when...

Our big, old, Treeing-Walker Coon Hound, Belle, decided to wake me up at 02:15. I let both of the dogs out, got them water and noticed they both still had food in their dishes then let them back in. Belle would not go back to sleep; she must be uncomfortable in some way. She kept me up until just before the alarm went off at 06:30. I didn't think I was in too bad a way until I noticed that I was making the boys Ham and Jelly sandwiches for lunch. I have no idea if I was trying to make Ham and Cheese -or- Peanut Butter and Jelly. I caught it just in time. Should be an interesting day.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Part I, Clippings

The other day I was sending Peter an e-mail with a cool link when I realized that I'm doing the same thing for my oldest sons that my mother did for me: I'm sending them clippings. When I was at K-State I could always count on at least one letter a week from my mom. Inside the letter would be some article she had clipped from the newspaper which she thought I needed to see. In retrospect, the articles she sent were timely and pertinent. I don't think I took them as seriously as I probably should have, but, truth be told, I still have some of them in the green folder in my briefcase. So, I'm sure Peter didn't really need to see the article on the Cornell Method of note taking (he's doing great on his own) but I've got a family tradition to carry on.

Part II, Pinewood Derby

Saturday was Curtis' last Pinewood Derby race. I thought I was going to wax a little nostalgic (like I did on the last day of Webelos Camp back in August) but, to be honest, I was glad when it was over. Not counting the Pinewood Derby cars I worked on when I was a Cub, this was my 18th and last Pinewood Derby car for my boys. Eighteen cars cut out, sanded, drilled and weighted, patched, re-sanded, painted, axles lubricated and turned in hoping not to have gone over the magical 5.0 ounces. As I type, I see the scar on my left index finger from Trevor's second car, circa 1994. I wear the scars with honor, but I'm ready to move on. I think that if it were left up to the boys to run the race, it would be fun. When you get adults involved it can sometimes become petty and ugly. Cub Scouting with my boys I will miss; Pinewood Derby races I will not miss.

Part III, Video Games

Jonathan was excited with the new Legends of Zelda game he bought which included all of the legacy versions of the game - "even the one you played as a kid" he told me. He was convinced I had an NES when I was his age, fourteen. I told him I didn't, and furthermore there really wasn't a home video game console available until I was around 16. Boggled his mind. He can't imagine a world without video games and really wanted to argue that, by golly, this is a game I had. So, we harnessed the power of the internet and researched it. PONG came out Christmas of 1975. I got a PONG clone in late 1976 when I was ~17. NES came out in 1985, the same year his oldest brother was born -- so, no, I did not have an NES when I was a boy.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I Want a Bean Feast

Sometimes I am an idiot. I just am. In the world of Willy Wonka, I want to believe I am the Charlie character – but, sometimes, it turns out that I’m more like Veruca Salt.

Case in point: In response to Fritz’s post on Commute By Bike to start making plans for National Bike To Work Day on Friday May 18th, I fired off a note to the management company for our office park asking them if they could set anything up for those of us that commute by bike. I got my reply; it wasn’t really what I’d hoped for.

“I will put the Bike to Work Day date on the Corporate Woods website under the Events Calendar, but we are not interested in putting an actual event together for this.”

My knee-jerk reaction was, in retrospect, very Veruca-like. After all, I want a party! Cream buns and doughnuts and fruitcake with no nuts, so good you could go nuts. Give it to me now! Seriously. I want a ball. I want a party! Pink macaroons and a million balloons and performing baboons… You get the picture.

They said they’d put in on the calendar of events and that is a good start. Now I need to get off my selfish rear and see what I can do, but that sounds a lot like work… Maybe I’ll just sit back and watch T.V. – oh, wait, that is a different character.