Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Nice going Janet"

Temperature at departure = 64° F (18° C)
Days until school starts = 77

Wednesday night, just as I was shutting down the laptop in preparations to head home, another thunderstorm rolled in. I wimped out and called Peter to come get me and left my bike in the office along with my helmet and gloves. Yesterday was yet another stormy day so I drove the van so I could haul the bike back home. Today is nice and sunny. Sure, everything is still soaked; there are tons of rain laden branches hanging down over the streets and bike path, lots of mud and puddles and humidity -- but still a nice day to ride. I got the bike out and realized that I'd left my helmet and gloves in the office. I rode anyway and felt weird to be without that piece of Styrofoam wrapped around my noggin.

When I got to the part of the path that loops into the woods around Founder's Park (seen above), I ran into more of the slick mud that nearly did me in back in March. I slowed down a bit and as I came back out into the clear where a sidewalk from the park's parking lot joins the path I was met by three people out for a morning stroll. One of the two ladies present said, loudly, "You should be wearing a helmet."

I was feeling 'ornery.

I stopped and said I agreed, shared the information I just shared with you - including the story from March and noticed that they were more than ready to move on. I continued to ramble a bit and finally bid them a good day. As I rode off I heard the other lady in the group say "Nice going Janet." I just smiled.

Now, that I think of it, I've been rambling on here a bit. Some of you must be saying to your computer "Nice going RSS..."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Depends On Your Viewpoint

The kids: Hooray! Today is the last day of school!

Me: 78 days until school starts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Zip On!

Temperature at departure = 69° F (21° C)

We had a wonderful day in Wichita yesterday with CAT's two sisters and their families. I enjoyed the chance to sit with my two brothers-in-law and just talk; it has been a long time since we've had the chance. Randy did a great job grillin' [including some antelope that one of my nephews bagged in Wyoming]. I was very happy that the kids hardly spent any time indoors playing video games. The cousins rarely get together like this and they spent the day riding bikes, catching toads, playing ball and just playing outdoors. In fact, Randy's buddy Kenny owns Mosey's, an outdoor challenge center in north Wichita, and invited us all out to take a crack at the climbing walls and zip lines. I'm sure the kids are going to remember this for a long time. If you are in or around the Wichita area - this is a great place to take a group (kids or adults) to do a cool, adventurous outdoor activity.

There is a new feature on the bike path that I'll be seeing every day.

This fountain is in honor of County Commissioner Ed Eilert, former mayor of Overland Park and the 2005 Johnson Countian of the Year. As the summer progresses I'll probably ride closer and closer to the fountain...

Friday, May 25, 2007


Temperature at departure = 60° F (16° C)

I used to travel quite a bit for work. That stopped just over a year ago and left me with a bunch of points sitting around in various awards programs for air travel, hotels and rental car companies. The big problem is I always went with the lowest reasonable price so never had enough points in any one program to do me much good. So, that time of year has come again - time to redeem some of my points on magazine subscriptions or loose them forever.

Last time I had done this I ended up with most of the magazines I had requested, but two that somehow got mixed up: ESPN and Fast Company. The ESPN typically got handed off to one of my boys, one of their friends or -ahem- the trash can. Fast Company, on the other hand, turned out to be a GREAT read and I looked forward to it each month. I missed it when the subscription expired last time and was going to renew it on my own. Now, I've checked it off on the card I sent in the end of last month and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. Then again, who knows if I'll get it.

The first magazine showed up this week. I had checked off Wired because I have actually gone and BOUGHT copies of it before. Did I get Wired? No - I opened the mailbox and was greeted with a slick and shinny copy of Water Ski!

Now, don't get me wrong, the two times I've gone water skiing in my life, I've loved it [thank you Randy] but the last time was ~15 years ago and I don't really need a magazine about this sport right now. I wonder what other surprises I have in store.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Senator T; Governor T

Temperature at departure = 68° F (20° C)

"Someday - and that day may never come - I'll call upon you to do a service for me..."

I saw the guy again this morning on my ride in; he must be home from college for the summer. I just smiled and waved.

It happened around a year ago, a graduation party is my guess. I walked out my door one morning and there at the end of my driveway was a mess of beer cans and bottles. Some of the bottles were still in a black garbage bag along with a few other items, including ... a student planner from the high school my kids go to.

I cleaned up the mess putting everything in the garbage bag that had been provided and took the planner into the house. I grabbed one of the kids' student directories and looked up the guy's address -- right down the street, about four blocks from our house.

With the garbage bag in the back of my car, I drove up to the boy's house where he and his mother were out in the front yard doing some yard work. I pulled up, got out of the car and called the boy's name and told him I'd found something of his. He walked around to my side of the car where I opened the door, opened up the bag with all the beer cans and bottles, pulled out his planner and handed it to him. The look he gave me was worth more than words can express. His mother had walked up to the other side of the car and asked him what it was; he said something lame about how his friends had taken his planner and thrown it out the window. I just closed the door, smiled and drove off with the garbage bag still in my car leaving them behind to whatever conversation may have followed.

Every now and then, like this morning, I'll see him. He has that look; he knows that I know where he lives...

...and he knows, deep down, that someday...

Friday, May 18, 2007


Temperature at departure = 52° F (11° C)

From: Commander, 4th Division, Light Infantry
To: Troops, the Marauding Mammals
Sent: Friday 18th May 2007, 08:43
Subject: Tactics

First, I would like to commend the troops of the fighting forth for their efforts. In fact, I observed three of you this morning as you executed daring feints against the enemy in rapid succession. Your bravery has been duly noted.

In light of the exceptional attempts against the enemy this morning, it pains me to say that our current tactics have been unsuccessful. The enemy continues to make daily sorties onto our path in both morning and afternoon. This must stop. Several of you may be asked to go on missions of a more dangerous nature in the near future; just remember I am proud to have served with you.

A. Squirrel, "Ol' Stumpy Tail"

Ad astra per sciurus

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Good Morning Mr. Murphy

Temperature at departure = 55° F (13° C)

What a beautiful morning. Sunny skies, no gusty winds and the temperature was cool but not cold. I had ridden 4.8 miles (7.7 k) and had seen no one on the trail. NO ONE; not one cyclist and, even odder, no pedestrians. I was reflecting on how strange that was when I noticed ahead that a young mother with a toddler on a bike with training wheels and a puppy on a leash had stopped to talk to another young mother headed the other way with a baby in a stroller and approaching them from behind was an elderly couple we all met up at the same point at the exact same moment. We had a brief chuckle, said good morning and the elderly couple and I moved on. After that the flood gates were opened for pedestrians as I met ~5 others before making it to the office.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bike To Work Weak

Temperature at departure = 53° F (12° C)

I normally see at least two or three other bikes on the way to work. It is Bike To Work Week and so far, on day 3, I've seen a grand total of 1 other cyclist. Maybe it is a reverse psychology thing; perhaps we should have called it Drive To Work Week. Weird.

There have been more pedestrians on the path this week. Every single one of them was polite and very pleasant as we greeted each other with a "Good morning." Even the dogs were well behaved this morning.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Bike To Work Week!

Temperature at departure = 70° F (21° C)

Mother's Day went really well yesterday. CAT said she had a really nice day. Not only had we got her some more lillies for her lilly bed, Saturday we got the bed raked out and weeded, ready for planting the new additions. Dinner out and ice cream afterwords with the kids behaving well. Nice day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Couple Wildcats

Temperature at departure = 85° F (29° C)

Spent yesterday in Manhattan at K-State moving things down six flights of stairs to get Peter moved out of his dorm room and back home for the summer. We got quite a bit of yard work done so Peter and I decided to get the bikes out and take a ride on the trail.

Since I had my Trek back (with new spokes), I let Peter ride the Mendota. What a difference that bike made; normally I would have to hold back a bit, this time he made me work to keep up with him.

We came across some other wildlife to add to the list: we chased a bobcat off the trail and saw a 6' long black snake. 23 miles altogether and a wonderful time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wait, Wait, Wait

Temperature at departure = 64° F (18° C)

Very humid this morning. I'm pretty tired, I'm on call this week and I had three customers I worked with last night, 2 until 10 p.m. and one from 3:30 to 4:30 this morning. Two of them were great to work with. One of them is a new customer who didn't pay very close attention when the installer was at the station last week and has decided to tinker with the system - thus loosing more than half of the audio for 4 radio stations. Got it back though!

Anyway, I had to watch this again this morning to get a bit of a chuckle to start the day. If you're involved in support in any way, you'll be able to relate.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You Have To Know These Things

Temperature at departure = 64° F (18° C)

Last night was the last high school band concert of the year. The Freshman, Concert and Symphonic bands all did a wonderful job and the guest soloist, Dr. J.D. Parr from Baker University, was amazing on clarinet. We may get in a short 5th grade band concert this afternoon and then the last middle school band concert is next week. I can't believe we're this close to the end of the school year. Let's see ... how many days is it until August 16th?

Had to chase another couple off the little bridge that is close to the end of my ride. As you can see above, it's not very wide, but the thing seems to be a very popular stop for couples out on a walk in the Spring and Fall. I'm still test riding the Mendota so I didn't have a bell to ding at them this morning. I had to politely stop and say "I'm sorry" to get them to move off the bridge to let them pass. As always, I was ready to say "An African or European swallow?" It didn't come to that this morning...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Water Wheels

Temperature at departure = 60° F (16° C)

Well, here is my solution to next week's Bike to Work Week if the rain comes back.

The kit is available at -- too bad I don't speak Italian.

The rain stopped yesterday afternoon and the streets were, for the most part, dry this morning. I had to skip riding on part of the path because it was either covered with running water or 6" deep mud. No matter, it was just nice to get back on the bike. Rivers and streams are going to continue to rise over the next day or so -- a lot of flood preparation segments on the local news. We should be fine, but I'm really ready for things to dry out for a bit.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Oh, and Ducks and Frogs

Forgot to mention those Friday...

I am so tired of the rain. I just checked NOAA and we've gotten 5" in the last 24 hours and here is the forecast for the next few days:

With the recent posts about wildlife I am tempted to make the obligatory Noah's Ark joke but will refrain. Instead I'll just say that perhaps next week should be Canoe To Work Week instead of Bike To Work Week.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wild Ride

Temperature at departure = 62° F (17° C)

It is Bike to Work Month and here is another reason why I choose to ride my bike rather than drive: wildlife.

I find it odd that after spending 3 days camping out with Boy Scouts and 3 days in the outdoors with the fifth-graders, I had to get back on my bike and ride to work to see some wildlife. Granted, over the six days with several hikes through the woods we did see the remains of a deer that had been taken down by something (probably coyote) along with a handful of turtles and squirrels -- not much else to report.

This morning I came into fairly close contact with the following:

...along with others that I've forgotten to note.

Not bad.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wild - Wildwood

Well, I’m back. Friday through Sunday I was off with the two youngest for a Boy Scout campout. Monday through yesterday I and nine other adults were out at Wildwood, an outdoor learning center with a pretty cool adventure challenge course, with around 70 fifth-graders. It is nice to be back to the normal schedule, but I really should have taken one more day off to just take a long nap.

One quick story about Wildwood: I was in charge of a group of 10 kids and the first half of the day was so – so. The last half of day one turned ugly; especially during free time when I was watching close to 20 kids trying to play a game of basketball. The “game” turned out to be more of a trash talk session so I ended it early. Day two we went on the five hour adventure challenge with one of the staff and I was just supposed to sit back and observe. The kids started out okay but things quickly fell apart with the kids complaining about each other and, finally, making fun of each other's physical attributes. At that point, when the staff leader just looked at me and shrugged, I stopped observing and went into dad mode. Things settled down for a bit - but the arguing never went away. More free time at the BB court with more of the same and I, along with one of the teachers who came down to watch, made the call that there would be no more basketball for the remainder of the trip.

So, I’d not been having a very good time to this point when one of the teachers shared the following story:

When she was in 10th grade, she and some of her classmates went to an adult day-care center as a service project to just spend some time talking with some of the residents. One elderly lady in a wheel chair was sitting off to the side in a corner looking out into space. One of the members of the class, a boy who was very sociable, decided to go engage her in conversation. He spoke with her for several minutes as she continued to just look blankly ahead when, suddenly, she started screaming. She was still just looking straight out into space but screamed and screamed. The manager of the day-care center just looked at the kids from the class and simply said “She taught for forty years.”

I SO appreciate the teachers at our schools.