Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Biking Infographic

Dear Mark,

This link was a lot of fun to read through:

I think that 2012 will see me riding more and more, and not just with Jack. I'm signed up for RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day). This will be my 3rd time riding this most excellent and epic ride. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Kindle Fire

Dear Mark

Lavi and I upgraded our Kindles recently. She had a first gen and I had the 2nd gen Kindles this past year. I would easily say that it was our most used gadget of 2011. I think that we used our iphones a bit more but I rule out the time as a phone and go to use. Amazon certainly made some money from us in comparison to Apple. After the hardware cost I would say that we spent very little in the Apple App Store but after purchasing less expensive Kindle device we purchased a lot of books.

The new Kindle Fire came out and we immediately upgraded. We both seem to be enjoying it a good deal. The reading experience is very good, navigation and things work as expected. The backlit reading of the Kindle Fire is different, but just that. Something to get use to.

Where the Kindle Fire also comes out ahead is in the size, resolution, and other things it can do. Where it seems to be lacking is that it is essentially a version 1 hardware/software device and Android OS.
1. Size: Here I compare it not to the older gen Kindles (same size approx) but to the iPad. Trying to read with the iPad is just a bit much. If I can put it on a table and flip around it is fine, but when I hold it for too long it becomes too heavy. The Kindle Fire fits my hands like a book does, and becomes familiar.
2. Resolution: Again a comparison to iPad, but also to the first gen Kindles. The color screen is a big upgrade in just about everything the Kindle did and now does. Browsing the web and reading other non-Kindle ebooks is much better. I find I want to do more with it. I read PDF documents, watch videos and browse the web with it.
3. Kindle Fire lets me do more: I mentioned web surfing and video already. You can download a multitude of apps for Android to do a lot more. Games and productivity apps are some that I've experimented with already.
4. v1 hardware/software app: Amazon has done a great job in nailing a lot of things, but it is still v1 for Kindle Fire. I see some navigation nuances and at times very touchy screen that leads to weird interaction. The video playback sucks the battery like a camel at a watering hole too. I'm hoping a lot of this can be updated in the software and not require new hardware. I think Amazon will be pretty sensitive to that.
5. Android OS: I have to admit that I don't like Android OS much. It seems less functional than iOS, which is probably false, but I blame things on the OS when I see certain limitations. At times the response time is slow and I don't know where to lay blame for that, but to me it's either the app layer or the OS layer. By default I blame the OS. That said, Amazon seems to have crafted a great experience on Android and it's not even close to a deal breaker for me.

Overall, we are using our Kindle Fire's a lot. I have plans for some trips this coming year and I'm already 90% sure I'm going to take my Kindle Fire instead of my iPad, but we'll just wait to see for sure.

2011 I think I read a lot, which was one of my resolutions. I finished the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. I got into the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I read the latest from Jim Butcher and only want more of the Dresden Files. I finished his Codex Alera series. I'm waiting on the third installment from Robin Hobb, who I enjoy but lately I feel she's phoned in her last two trilogies. I also got into a few series from Christopher Moore (bloodsucker series) that were funny good reads.

I've let Dad use my old Kindle. I have all the Jim Butcher "Dresden Files" books on it for him to read. I think he may actually really like it. I should post how he finds the experience.

Hope the Holiday fun is picking up for you and the family!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Social Media Hurts My Blog

Dear Mark

I have to admit, social media is killing my blog time. Sure I could and have blamed lots of other things, but really it is social media. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter, I just don't seem to have the creative time to get to it. Another thing getting in the way is work (I know, the audacity!), which is a good problem to have in our economy. Funny thing is, that our team is starting an internal blog on a project and I get to contribute. I'm not sure work is ready for my "writing style" but we'll see.

I've still been running this year and enjoying the time to work out and be in my head. I think of so many blog ideas as I run. Surprisingly many are around suffering, pain, ideas that seem good at the time and the amount of rain our city receives, but ideas nonetheless. I know I still have the inspiration to write and I want to get back to it. I'm making a preemptive strike on resolutions, and writing letters to you is at the top, right after make the perfect margarita (seeking perfection should never stop).

One way I'm hoping to improve is by beating social media and hardware at their game. I may link more to the blog from other avenues and vice versa. Another thing that I did was I picked up a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad that will help me post using my iPad. In fact, this is my maiden blog post with it.

Here's hoping I/we make good on our resolutions.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween 2011

Dear Mark

Halloween was a fun event this year for our house. Lavinia and I enjoy decorating the house. Each year we add more and more to our exterior decorations. At first I was never too excited about decorating. Its a lot of work, its crummy weather, but then after a few years it became more and more fun. This year Jack helped me drag all the boxes out of the shed and set things up.

Another thing we did this year were some craft projects. The internet is great for quick and easy projects for kids. Jack helped me make a "scary spider!" and a some "spooky ghosts." Our favorite were the lighted ghosts for outside.

Jack chose to go as Iron Man this year. Being the Marvel household that we are, I was tickled by the choice. I have photos of him in his costume below. He really got into trick or treating this year. He seemed to get that it was for him and he had a lot of fun. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington sponsored a KEXP party for kids that we took him to.

I don't normally dress up at the office. Mostly because I think about it too late. I did think up some ideas but I wasn't sure if they'd work. Here's a quick list. You can let me know your favorite.
  • WADA Inspector (World Anti-Doping Authority) to a cyclist this is scary. I'd just walk around with a little cup I'd hand out to athletes
  • Horatio Caine from CSI Miami, but I could be CSI QE with the same look
  • Wear a shirt with text all over it in random type faces. I think Fonts are scary, but maybe it's just me.
  • I had various "Chaos Monkey" costumes, but that is only scary to Developers
  • Boston Red Sox Front Office Manager, because they are acting pretty scary these days. 
This year I had 2 strobe lights highlighting the tombstones in the yard. I also added a Ghoul stirring a cauldron. That needs work for next year for sure. The best part was adding the motion sensor that triggered some howling noises and lights. It scared a few people. Best $20 I spent.

Here's a gallery of photos for you.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jack raises money

Dear Mark,

You know that I have been a supporter of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington for a long time. They are Washington State's only state-wide bicycling advocacy group. They affect change in our state capital and that makes every city, not just Seattle, a better place to bicycle.

We recently attended the Bike Alliance auction. This is their big fundraiser for the year. I got my start on the Board being the Auction Chair. Oh how the event has grown. This year I hosted a table and Mom & Dad came, along with my friend Demian from work and Bridie and Kim too! Jack came with us and was very excited. He wanted to know where the bikes were and where he could go ride his bike.

Jack and I were part of a special appeal for funds during the program. The Executive Director, Barbara Culp, put together a great write up (I have it below) in the program. She asked that Jack and I take the stage to crank up the cute factor and to drive home the point that what we do makes cycling in Washington State better for Jack and kids like Jack.

Jack was great and we had a good time on stage. I asked him about bicycling, and what he likes about, his favorite Tour de France rider, if riding safe is a good choice or bad choice and if riding safe is something we should do in Washington. The kid stayed on script and did great.

Check out pictures below.
Tonight -- help us shift gears, shift policy and shift minds!  Join Jeff and Jack Moran as they envision the future of bicycling as an everyday, mainstream transportation option in your community. 
Shift Gears: Jack wants to have fun riding to school.  Jeff was the ride to be safe, affordable and healthy.  The Bicycle Alliance wants Safe Routes trainings for teachers in school districts ALL over Washington, so that EVERY child can ride or walk safely to school.  31 districts and counting… 
Shift PolicyJack wants to feel safe riding down Queen Anne with his dad.  Jeff wants every community to adopt policies that create complete streets for all roadway users.  The Bicycle Alliance wants funding for communities that have adopted a Complete Streets ordinance to help them design streets for all users.  Right now we're working in Olympia to include grant funding in the next budget cycle
Shift Minds:  Jack wants choices, one day peanut butter, and the next day cheese.  Jeff wants his son and lots more people making healthy choices like riding to school, work, errands, and fun!. The Bicycle Alliance wants safer roads, connected sidewalks, reliable transit all of which lead to increased bicycle ridership.  The Bicycle Alliance endorsed Proposition 1: Streets for All to help build those facilities. 
Tonight we are asking you to support Jack's future: neighborhood greenways, separated cycle tracks, more bike parking, and policies and people to make it happen.  We need your support to convince school districts and legislators that kids should be able to bike to school, adults can ride to work, and youth and elders can walk in safety.  You can help turn Jack's dream into reality tonight! 
Raise your bid card high if you believe that every child deserves a future with healthy, active transportation choices.

The nifty part was that the special appeal was kicked off with our $2,500.00 donation to the organization. A donation that my company matches for a cool $5,000.00.

All in all it was a great night!

On your left,

Monday, October 3, 2011

4 Year Old Birthday Crowns

Dear Mark,

Jack just had his 4 year birthday (9/25). We had a super good time. The family went to La Push, WA to hang at the beach. Jack now refers to it as "His Cabin" and I'm glad to see my son will have La Push as a fond memory like you and I do. Like his father he managed to stretch a single day of self-centered attention into a week long celebration and create a Birthday week.

Jack had several birthday events, including a birthday celebration at school. His teacher made him a birthday crown. He's worn it every day for a week now and it sits on his dresser. He was quite happy with it, and quite happy that his other school friends had one for their birthday.

Ever rooted in our family history, our own mother thought that this looked familiar.

Sure enough. That's a photo of our mom at age 4 with her own hat.

More soon.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jack Rides!

Dear Mark

I can hardly contain my excitement. OMG!!! My son can ride a two-wheel bicycle! He just learned this evening, or more precisely just put it all together. I'm so stoked and excited that I can't stop hugging him. He's been asleep for a few hours tonight and I'm still tempted to go in his room to mini high-five him on his accomplishment. I mean... my son can ride a bicycle! My son can ride a bike!!! He's managed to do this just shy of his 4th Birthday!

You know he's had his balance bike since he was two. He started riding that in earnest when he was 2.5 years old. He would just scoot with his feet and balance on two wheels. We've been scooting around the block for 1.5 years now. He's never had training wheels. He's loved his Big Wheel (cause come on, who wouldn't right!) and he's ridden some tricycles at school too. Recently a friend gifted us a bike with pedals. He tried it a few months ago and was luke warm, preferring the speed of his balance bike more.

This evening he was riding his balance bike and I asked him to try the pedal bike. He usually says "maybe when I'm 4 Dadna" and begs off. Tonight though he said okay. I let him climb on the bike and he got his foot on the pedal. He pushed off and I held his seat and softly said "pedal pedal pedal" and he did it. We went the length of the drive way and then stopped, started again and circled back.

The third time I took my hand off the seat and he pedaled and stopped on his own. I told him "good job Jack! I wasn't holding on that time." I tell you I saw it in his eyes when the reality of that clicked in. He just smiled, put his foot on the pedal and was off on his own. I mean it. It was just like that. I started jumping up and down yelling "Yes! Yes! Yes! Nice Job Jack! Woo-hoo!" The smile he gave me as he showed me how proud he was just as infectious. He was so pleased with himself.

I took some rough video of it:

Here he is putting it all together:

Did I mention that he can power an uphill as if he was from the Basque country? After getting stalled going uphill a few times he just learned to push the pedals harder. I swear that made me more proud than anything.

Now some may not be surprised that Jack achieved this at such a young age. Being my son some will have suspected that he'd be winning races or at least a domestique for some team by age 3. But I've tried to hold him (me) back from all that silliness, and just let him be a kid, right?! I mean he's had a lot of influences and I think there have been signs that he would do so well so early.

  • Is it because he's watched all three grand tours with me (Giro, Tour and Vuelta) each year since he was born? Maybe. 
  • Is it because he thinks that the Marvel comics God of Thunder, Thor, is indeed a full time cyclists who wins Tour stages and is the World Champion in commanding fashion? Likely. 
  • Is that when some kids say "Dad I'm going to be as tall you as you some day" that my son says "Dadna I'm going to beat you straight up on a sprint one day." Possibly. 
  • Is it because he wore a world championship jersey when he was still an infant and now he dreams of rainbows? Plausible. 
  • Is it because he's been riding to school/work with me for a few years that he knows proper drafting and peloton etiquette and critiques other helmet-less riders out lout so they can hear him? Darn-tooting. 
  • Is it because my @TdF_Dadna twitter account is not as fictional as many would believe? Spot-on. 
  • Is it because in a family where cycling is respected for what it brings to a community, fitness and recreation that he's excited to try it? One would hope. 
I really cannot fully express how happy I am about this. Lets just say that the plans for him to win the 2035 TDF are on target. Book your Paris hotels today for 2035. Jack Sheppard Moran will be in Yellow, and I'll be the proud Dadna looking on with tears of joy in my eyes remembering today when it all started.

Now I need to teach him "On your left" in multiple languages.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Lack of posts, blame Apple

Dear Mark,

There have been a lack of posts from me recently, and by recent I dare say a lot this past year. Compared to past years that saw me writing to you more frequently, the year 2011 has seen a drop off. Normally I like to blame the economy, politics, training, or even el nino for such activity. However, this year I think I must place the blame squarely on the shoulders of who is responsible for such a down turn in creativity. Yes, my iPad is to blame.

You may recall that I received an iPad for the holidays last year. I was quite excited. I am a recent Mac convert by all standards and I have to say that I'm okay with that. I don't miss my non-Mac hardware or operating systems for a moment, although I must admit I do miss some of the software that just runs better on Windows (I'm looking at you MS Office). Still, I've been quite happy.

Over the year the number of devices designed by that company that Steve Jobs use to work for has jumped at our household. Laptop, desktop, iphone, itouch, nano, more iphones, Apple TV and the list will grow as 2011 closes out I'm sure. I have even started planting the seed the Mom and Dad should convert, but your Mother is a bit stubborn and quite frankly is a power user so I should probably leave that alone (and no Family Tree maker on Mac me thinks).

I've been using the iPad more and more at home. Even Jack uses it. We both watch videos on it, from Netflix and from our digital library. I use it to check various email accounts, play games (Scrabble!), read news and other consumption activities. I think that tablets in general are a fun way to interact with the web and consumption activities. For now though, they seem to be stunting my creativity a little. While there is a blogger app, several actually, it is difficult to sit down and bang out some quality creative writing.

Couple the above consumption driven activities with the bed time routine of a 3 year old and I've got plenty of excuses. But not wanting to just go with conjecture I mapped out some numbers to illustrate the situation.

Here is a graph showing the frequency of our posts this year.

Here you can see the combined frequency of both our posts. Its revealing in many ways.

Now here is the revealing graph that shows as my iPad usage has gone up that the number of posts have suffered. 

I hope to correct this trend soon. One thing about data discovery is what you do with the data. I'm hoping that this will get me back on track with these posts. Perhaps the data can lead you to a similar discovery. If not, I'll be forced to re-market this blog as "Brother Moran" which will make me sound like a monk. 


Friday, August 26, 2011

Perfect Child Born!

Editor's note - this post is a bit overdue, but we've been a little bit busy :)

The following must be read in the voice of an old time-y news reporter

Extra Extra - Perfect Child Born in Northampton - Need for future human breeding questioned as world's most perfect baby arrives

Dateline Northampton Massachusetts, August 15th, 2011

The birds were still dormant when Siobhan Moran awoke to a strange sensation in her tummy. The one week overdue pregnant woman was just starting her contractions. After several hours at home she and her husband Mark, went to their pre-arranged doctor's appointment. After a quick evaluation their doctor urged them across the street to Cooley Dickenson Hospital. Siobhan labored long and hard, 18 hrs in total. At 8:51PM with one final push Fiona Margaret Moran was born in to this world and we are all now better for it.

Fiona came in at 7 lbs and 11 oz and 20.5 inches long. Her hair is somewhere between the soft blond and fire red. Her eyes, for now, are blue grey.

Now, this is where the story deters from your normal baby being born story... this child is perfect, yes as inconceviable as it may seem, the perfect child has been born. Implications are wide spread. The White House has issued a "why bother to breed anymore" declaration. Citizens can continue to breed if they desire, but it is the government's position that it is wholly futile since nothing will surpass this perfect child. The International Olympic commitee is in closed door session trying to determine how to handle this development. Meanwhile, at the vatican, a cadre of cardinals and the pope himself are discussing the meaning of the birth of this perfect child. The Vatican has declared that it's not the second coming, but perhaps the first and a half?

As the future implications of this perfect child's birth are considered the powers that be have deemed that the child will stay with its parents. Can these imperfect first time parents raise this perfect child? What does this perfect child's birth hold for the rest of us, only time will tell.

Stay tuned here.....

In all seriousness, Fiona is here and she is amazing. Just perfect, at least to us. The labor was intense and I can't believe what a rock star my wife is. We're making our way through the early days and Fiona is progressing well. See the Zenfolio site for more pics of this amazing kid.


Daily Fiona

Dear Mark

It has been a lot of fun to receive daily pictures of Fiona. I think what is even more fun are the text messages that come with them.

Mark Text: Top O' the morning to ya. the ligh sure hurts my eyes and I don't llike to be woken. Just like my Dad

Mark Text: Time for a power nap

Jeff Text Back: Takes after her old man. The napping that is, not the cute part. Gets that from her Mom.

Here's a nice picture of Jack getting to know his cousin. Soon they will be video chatting and use sim-chip Matrix stuff to communicate across the country.

Mark Text: Yes Chef!

Mark Text: Yup. It's a girl. The pink invasion has begun!

Mark Text: Yar! Someone be after my booty. This is her pirate face.

Mark Text: Come on Vogue!

Mark Text: And Big Stretch. She wakes up just like her old man.

I will have to say that she is simply adorable, and probably will be just as funny as her Old Man.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fiona Margaret Moran

Dear Mark

Fiona Margaret Moran is beautiful. I wanted to write a letter that went on and on about how happy I am and how blessed we all are to welcome Fiona to the family. About how well Siobhan did (as we all knew she would) and even more impressed by how well you did (because frankly some of us were concerned, never me of course.. no... well a smidge, but I knew Siobhan would be there). About what a lovely name you have two have chosen for your daughter. About how I searched for
air fare that night to come out for at least a day to hug and kiss her, as well as you.

In the end it is just overwhelming happiness that I feel. I'm so happy to be an Uncle. I love this picture you sent and the ones you posted on the Zenfolio site. Keep them coming and we'll talk soon... Dad.

Love ya

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A change of summer plans

Dear Mark

This weekend I decided I was not going to run the full marathon in Portland. I am now aiming for a half marathon. My reasoning is that summer has finally arrived in Seattle and I did not want to spend every weekend so tired from training. I had a great time this last weekend with the family. This week Jack and I have bike commuted every day (something I had not been doing because the load of all the running and riding was too tiring, I'm old. I get it. Grin). I've not regretted the decision.

This was the view from the Fremont Bridge yesterday morning. We stopped as a big ship was coming through and the draw bridge was up. Jack looks entirely too cool on the bike with his shades. He constantly tells me he is the God of Thunder!!!! I'm so proud (Thor Hushovd reference for you non-cyclists).

Hope things are going well for. I know the East Coast has been hot. Seattle is just now seeing some nice weather. I expect us all to be complaining about 78 degree heat within the week.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Due Date Conversations

Dear Mark

Well it's August 8th and your son/daughter's due date has come and not even a knock at the door. I wanted to share our text conversation so that he/she can see how sensitive her/his Father and Uncle were on this day.

Jeff: I am suppose to be an uncle today. Wassup? :)
Mark: Patience. Soon you will join the exclusive Uncle club. there are tshirts and meetings. You will be assigned an uncle category, weird, angry or cool.
Mark: Seriously, Doc said she ain't even dilated a lit bit.

Jeff: So teh kids seems to have your sense of hurry. Oh good.
Mark: Yeah like a seminare paper due date.
Jeff: LOL. Siobhan wont want to be preggie that long though.

Jeff: Uncle Club? Will there be snacks at the meetings? I'd want snacks.
Mark: More people will come if we have punch and pie
Jeff: Punch and pie!

So I guess my little still-stewing Nephew or Niece can take heart that his/her Uncle was pretty excited about his/her arrival. He/She can look back and think, "wow that is pretty cool. I mean it didn't make me hurry or anything because like I find my head hurts when I hurry too much, but Dad says that I'll get use to that. But my Uncle and family are pretty neat. Hey Jack, do you find you can't hold still because of your Dadna? Jack...? Jack..? Where'd you go Cous? Stop organizing my room you twit!!...." and so on.

I can't wait to hear the good news. Everyone is sending you three the happy thoughts. Can't wait for the introduction. I promise that I'll likely cry like the happy Uncle I'll be.

BTW, Jack has guessed that you'll be having a Boy.

Love ya Bro!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Le Tour Results

Dear Mark

Just a follow up now that the Tour is over. My predictions were 66.6% right. Voeckler didn't make the podium but Andy's brother Frank did. So Cadel finished on top of a Schleck sandwich. Not a bad end to the Tour. I would rank this as one the best I've watched. I'm still bummed so many contenders crashed out. It did really change the race a lot.

At home Jack insisted that Thor Hushovd (the God of Thunder!!!) won the Tour not Cadel, but I can hardly blame him when he lives in the Norwegian biased Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Jack suggested that we watch the bike race this past weekend. He looked sad when I told him there was no bike race (I mean sure the Tour of Polland, but yawn!). Anyway, he was well
hooked on the bike race and I was just a little (a lot) proud of that.

Lavi snagged this picture of Jack giving his own version of finish line celebration. Try to tell me this kid isn't paying attention will ya.

Cheers for now. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

On your left,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Tour!

Dear Mark

July is a month filled with fun times. It marks the start of real summer weather in Seattle (the day after the 4th is always very nice). Our mother's birthday is the 7th. Lavi's birthday is the 17th. People start taking vacation and work seems to slow a bit at times as a result. But all of this is just truly fodder to the true reason that July is so special because it marks the start of the Tour de France!

Yes, lycra clad cyclists start whizzing down country side French roads at speeds that would make your heart stop if you truly comprehended the danger. Hopes and dreams of men who have trained a year or so for this race. The drama of the jerseys, the excitement of the hopefuls. It all marks a great 3 week bike race.

While I know this is not for everyone (even though it should be) and there are constant talks of doping and such, the Tour is awesome. I look forward to it like a kid waits for Xmas. I geek hard on it and work hard to conceal it from those that my not understand. I watch and root like a mad Cricket fan and dissect the race like ESPN Analyst.

Jack, Lavi and I have been watching on the weekends, and I watch during the day (of course never interfering with work, honest, truly... okay maybe a pinch). I'm watching on my iPad as I type this now. Jack is really into the bike race. He loves rooting for Thor Hushovd the "God of Thunder!" and Thor has not disappointed with 2 stage wins and over 8 days in the Yellow Jersey. In fact Norway has had a great tour with two more wins from Edvald Boassan Haggen. The neighborhood of Ballard is surely rejoicing.

This year's race has been brutal. I was reminded of the Rodney Dangerfield joke as I would say "I was watching a TV show on crashes when the Tour de France broke out." The first week of the Tour was a horror show of crashes. Some of the favorites were heavily affected. The first day 3-time Tour Champion Alberto "I didn't eat tainted beef, honest" Contador got caught behind a crash and started his Tour defense in the hole at over a minute back. This was just a preview. All the big favorites have fallen faster and harder than Wall Street Financial Institutions in 2007. My favorite US rider, Chris Horner was completely messed up and had to pull out.

There have been highlights though. Among the Norwegian winning ways we saw American Team Garmin-Cervelo winning their first stages. One of the wins by Washington State native Tyler Farrar, which was awesome.

The Tour is in the feared alps and the drama continues. Frenchmen Thomas Voeckler is doing a great job of retaining his yellow jersey hold and I hope to see him some where on the podium.

I will also make a plug for really enjoying BikeSnobNYC's daily editorial too.

Gonna wrap this up as work beckons me. I hope you are watching the Tour. If you are not, you should. If you do, then I say "Chapeau" and know that you know what that means.

My predictions
1. Cadel Evans - winning it in the final TT
2. Andy Schleck - realizing that he needs to be able to ride a TT and downhill to win
3. Thomas Voeckler - just happy to be at the party, like a dork at the prom.

Sur votre gauche,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jack and Calvin drop the Peloton!

Dear Mark

As you know, Calvin and Jack have known each other since they were 6 weeks old. Bridie (Calvin's Mom) and I have been mocking up photos of the two for a few years now. Bridie has really out done herself with the latest one though.

This is the Team to look out for in 2035 when Jack claims the Yellow jersey. I suspect Calvin will be wearing the Polka dot jersey as he is shaping himself into a climber's body for sure. Now if we can talk Uncle Joey into getting Sabine and Daria into the Podium Girl circuit...

I can hear Paul Sherwen saying "Calvin and Jack from Team (Insert popular company needing marketing exposure in an international market here) have just dropped the Peloton and are pedaling ahead on their own." Only to be followed by Phil saying "I'm not sure I've seen an entire Peloton dropped like this before, but the young boys from the American squad are doing just that!"

Jens Voight will likely being doing German TV commentary and saying something in German that translated to "This is how the stages of the Tour should be. The strongest go out and put the Peloton on notice like Jack and Calvin are doing right now."

French TV will likely cut to commercial at this point rather than watch two Americans crush the peloton.

Panama TV will try to claim Jack as one of their own since he has dual citizenship, but will not pre-empt LOTTO drawing coverage to do so.

ESPN will have one link on their web site about the breakaway and win buried under Olympic Sports. Sportscenter will mention it as they go to commercial. Sporcle.com though will host several quizzes about the NW duo!

FoxNews will likely talk about NASCAR on their sports segment that day.

Alberto Contador will still be talking only about himself on Spanish TV.

On your left,

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Challenge

Dear Mark

Well I did it. I signed up for the Portland Marathon on October 9th. I'm not sure if my sanity has completely left me but it seems that is has. Regardless, I'm up for the challenge. I figured I'm already trained up from the first marathon and I can "bank the gains" as my friend Lisa says. I'm looking forward to it.

Some have suggested (our father) that I might be well beyond the point of getting help, so the point of having my sanity checked might be worthless. Oh well, that's all for now. Hope things are going well for you and Siobhan.

Off to run,

Happy Birthday Mom

Dear Mark

This past week was our Mother's birthday as you well know. We traveled to Larry & Cathy's house for a fun dinner and a delicious birthday cake. I took a few pictures to share.
Your Mother had a good time. She kept lamenting that she is much too young to be this old. We all scoffed at the idea of course and when that didn't work we fell back to simply teasing her about her age, which seemed more appropriate.

We of course missed you a great deal, but we all were thinking of you two and the little one that is on the way. We are all pretty excited for you. We wish we could all come spend a few months with you when the new family member joins us. We hope all is going well.


Jack in the Pool

Dear Mark

Summer decided to land here in Seattle, finally. It has been a long and cold winder, even by NW standards. Although not nearly as bad as your season, but more outside of the normal for sure. For once we even had a good day of weather on the Fourth of July. For those who are not from the NW you will have to understand that summer starts for Seattle on the 5th of July. If we don't have a fireworks show with low cloud cover its just not normal.

I pulled out the kiddie pool and fille it up for Jack. He went right to it.

I took some videos for you to check out. Enjoy and I hope that Summer is treating you well.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Marathon

Dear Mark

I have run a Marathon. So far I'm not tired of saying that over and over. Last weekend I was able to finish the Seattle Rock n' Roll Marathon in 4:36:27. I met my goals of finishing and a 4:30 finish time (yes I was off by 6 minutes, but close enough).

The Morning & The Start
The race started in Tukwila. The race organizers were busing people from Qwest Field down to Tukwila, but I decided to arrive in style. I secured a town car to transport Joey, Bridie, my neighbor Christy and myself to Tukwila. It allowed us to sleep in a bit more. I arrived, dropped off my race bag for pick up later and headed to my start corral.

My friend Lisa and her husband Jeff were meeting me in corral 16. Lisa was running her 21st marathon and Jeff was running the half marathon. Lisa had agreed to pace me. We had a goal of me finishing under 4:30:00 and maybe getting a 4:15:00. Now, in the past with bicycling I could wake up hungover during a heavy pollen count and still haul off a 100 mile bike ride with minimal exertion. I'm not bragging by any means (a tiny bit, yes), but I am just saying this was possible as an illustration that helps you understand my friend Lisa. She can wake up and just run 26 miles and get a pretty good time. She's just really use to it. It's pretty amazing. Thus, I was quite lucky to have her running at my side.

I was excited to have Lisa pace me and guide me along the course. Plus, a 4 hour plus conversation with a good friend, count me in!

The First 13
The start line count down came down and off we went. The sky was overcast, but it was not cold. Here I am in the corral with Lisa getting ready to start.

We started off at a 9:45 pace, which was slow for how fast the crowd made you want to start. We made our way from Tukwila to Lake Washington to Seward Park, up Lake WA Blvd and on to I-90 for an out and back. We touched 13 miles as we ran through the I-90 tunnel on our way back to Seattle.

All along they course there were bands playing music and cheer squads giving us encouragement as we ran along. I was quite impressed with how much moral support was along the route. Running along Lake Washington BLVD was fun. I've ridden my bike here a thousand times, even completing some time trial training along the route. Running along in a massive pack of people was pretty neat. I felt good and strong and was encouraged.

It was right before mile 13 that I hit my first bit of trouble. One thing that happens to male runners is chaffing. I'm not crossing a line here in discussion, this stuff just happens. I've been using Body Glide on my training runs to keep from chaffing several body parts, like nipples. Well one thing I never did was pour ice cold water on my chest like I was doing this day. Now we all know what happens to nipples when they get cold, enough said. Lets say that this did me in on the chaffing. I was beginning to realize that I was miles from a serious problem. I tried applying more ointment to lube them up, no good. At mile 13 the shirt had to come off. Now I'm not one to show off my upper body. I'm just not that built for the public exposure. However, all that was thrown away as I saved my nipples from serious injury. It was very much the right decision, but I just wish I could have avoided it.

So from mile 13 on I was shirt less. Luckily I was not the only. You can see that in the slide show after the next section.

The Second 13
From the I-90 tunnel we came into downtown Seattle and got up onto highway 99, the viaduct. We made our way through the tunnel and up to the Aurora bridge for a turn around. We came back on the top of the viaduct, stayed on 99 to the West Seattle bridge off-ramp where we turned around, back up on the viaduct, exited and came into Qwest Field.

What you may not realize when you are driving is how steady it is uphill from downtown to the top of the Aurora bridge. If you look at my Garmin link post you can see that the time per mile starts to slow down right around mile 15, with mile 18 being my second worst mile. The steady uphill and failure to eat more was starting to cook me. My legs and lungs felt just fine, but I was running out of energy for sure.

I saw Lavinia as I was coming down the Aurora Bridge and what a sight for sore eyes she was. I was so happy to see her. I immediately told her I loved her, informed her that I pretty tired (I looked it) and gave her my water bottle, ipod nano (which had stopped working) and my shirt that I was carrying.

Just past Lavi were my friends Rod & Lisa who came out to cheer me on. It was so nice to see them. I ran the next mile with a big smile. Rod has run this one before. I shouted out that it was more uphill than I expected and he just grinned in acknowledgment. Yet another shared story of suffering between us.

After we turned around it was back to downtown. I ended up doing some walking between miles 21-23.5. I just felt like their was no gas in the tank. At one point I thought my bladder would do me in, but got it under control.

Throughout the whole run my friend Lisa was with me. She was just super. I've been that person as a cyclist. Trying to coax along a buddy who is running out of juice or hurting. It's a fine line between Buddy/Support and Jerk. Lisa was brilliant. She was encouraging and let me handle the struggle as best I could. She easily could have left me like a sports car dropping a VW Bus from the 60's, but she stayed with me.

By mile 23.5 I had my nerve worked up to not walk again and made my way to the finish. At mile 24.5 a guy came up along side me and asked if this was my first marathon. I told him it was and he was just elated for me. Told me i had it in the bag and it was in my DNA now. He was just super.

Right around mile 25 Lisa informs me that the 4:30:00 pace guy is right behind us. This caused us/me to pick up the pace and we made it to the finish. The last 100 yards I swear I almost fell down. Never have I wanted a bike frame under me to hold me up more than those 100 yards.

But finish I did. 26.2 miles completed in 4:36:27. I've completed a Marathon!

The Finish
I walked through the finish looking for the recliners or foam pads to crash on. All I found was water, oranges, pretzels and cytomax. All were good but I really needed to collapse. I found Lavi and made a little spot of asphalt my own to collapse on. I was cooked and elated.

Garmin Data
I downloaded information from my Garmin GPS. You can see route and my time per mile. Miles 18 and 23 stand out.

Lavi took some good photos. She was able to see me at mile 18 and at the finish.

The Celebration!
That night Lavi really outdid herself. Not only did she manage to get me home and cleaned up. Then she proceeded to make a post-race pasta feed for me and out other marathoning friends. We had 9 kids over and their running parents for dinner. It was just great. I think everyone looked pretty tired, with the exception of Lisa.

The Recovery!
This is probably the best story so far. After the race was done I was cooked and spent. I could not have fended off an attack from a blind teddy bear. The rest of the day I had the vacant stare of exhaustion. To add insult to injury/exhaustion I was so high on adrenaline that I couldn't nap. I did my stretches, got some sleep, hydrated and that started me on a good path of recovery. Normal muscle soreness, what you would expect. A few bruise sore points on my IT Ban connectors. With the wisdom of my age I scheduled a massage for Sunday and that was so necessary. By Monday stairs were still not my friend. I kept getting up and moving around to not stiffen up. By Tuesday I was feeling almost 100% and, frankly, I was hella surprised by that. Thusday I felt really good and just completed a short slow 2 mile run. All things are still good. I'm very happy that recovery has gone well. I read that as we age (yes, we)that the body responds differently. I think accepting that and doing what is necessary has been rewarding.

The Question?
Now that I have completed a marathon the two questions I'm asked over and over are "Did you just feel like dying out there?" and "Would you run another?" There seems to be morbid curiosity in both questions, but the second one is the one I want to discuss. I have to admit that immediately during and after the answer was a "No" to would I run another. The very thought was as laughable as you waking up on time or Mom not looking up some reference or word she doesn't know.

I think the answer though is surprising. The recovery has gone very well. I feel I'm already trained to a certain level as well. I feel confident in my ability to improve my finish time. I have really enjoyed the work load and the path back to exercise. I know that getting some time to get out and such has truly helped me relax and focus more. Putting that all together I'm about to sign up for the Portland marathon on October 9th of this year. I've got just about 18 weeks. Here goes nothing!

I think every one who succeeds in life needs to thank those forces that have supported them. To that I must say I wouldn't have been able to get through the race with out Lisa pacing me. I never would have made it through training without Lavi's support and help. Once again she has managed to play the role of coach, fan, team trainer and manager all in one.

Overall this was one of the hardest things I've done. Think about some of the cycling things I've done to put that in perspective. I have gone farther into the red zone on the bike before. The difference though is that the bike holds you up when you are exhausted and you can coast on a bike. Not so when running. The hardest part was running out of food, and that is something I think I can fix. Still, for sure one of the hardest things I've done. Like all those other times that were tough for me this one was just as much fun. I learn a lot about myself as I do these things. I think I learned that I could train myself back to shape, have fun, set new sites and continually push myself to go big.

Okay, for now I'll keep running and seeing how I do.

On your left,

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Dear Mark

Next weekend, on June 25th, I'll be running my first marathon. After years of shunning runners, making fun of them as I rode by with my shaved legs and color coordinated advertising cycling kit, believing that 180+ mile rides were the epic thing, I must admit to finally deciding to give this a thing a try. The hours to get on the bike and ride have not been readily available to me, as I prefer to spend my time with Lavi and Jack these days more and more. I miss my rides though something fierce and I needed to find a way to exercise so I could get back that stress reliever. Plus, I needed a goal beyond drinking cocktails and gaining weight. As you are quite aware, our genetic back story is not a body type that is predisposed to being thin. On the contrary, I've ridden my bike over a 100 miles and still gained weight, but I digress. Let me just say that the weight was not jumping off my body like lemmings on a cliff as I sat in my office. Enter. Stage Left. Running.

Like all things in life I like to set my sights on a big goal. I mean why run 5 miles when you can run 26. Why have 1 beer when you can have 3. Why write a blog by yourself when you can invite your brother to join you. As you can see, not all goals are good for me, some should be avoided and some don't really materialize as you would hope. But goal set I did. I chose to run a marathon. I believed that I could find the time and accomplish this.

The Rock n' Roll marathon in Seattle was a good choice. The traditional Seattle Marathon is in November and I hear it is not a great first marathon choice due to weather and the hilly course. June seemed a good chance to have some warm weather, although this year is challenging that for sure. So I'm all set. I'm running a marathon on June 25th. I've been running a good steady mile pace on my runs. I was around a 10 minute mile at first and now I see a consistent 9:35 mile on my long runs, and better on the shorter runs.

You ask if it has been all aces during the training? No, not even close. Running is just terribly hard on the body. I always liked cycling for the lower impact (some may argue the crotch area impact but I won't go there.. oh wait I just did, but I digress). The bicycle holds you up. You get a chance to coast if you are tired. You can more easily eat while you ride and carry water and host of things. If you are tired while you run, then you fall down. You don't coast, you don't slow, your legs just stop and you stop, falling usually follows. I have had runs where I've been at the last mile, I've pushed it hard, I'm ready to be done and a traffic light is having me stop to cross a road. I tell you that stopping and waiting is often the hardest thing to do. Sum it to say that training each week has been a hard thing.

Early on I had a pair of shoes that gave me a "hot spot" on my feet. I realized the shoes were wrong for me. I was able to return them and with a little help found a pair that has been working well, the Brooks Ghost 4 has worked quite well. I will recommend Road Runner Sports and their VIP program. I was able to return 2 pairs of shoes that were giving me the hot spot just shy of 90 days. This saved me a lot of money. Since picking up those shoes I've been quite happy.

Shoes were not the only item to be purchased. Cycling is expensive. The bike alone to start with, but even the clothes, shoes and other accessories cost. Running is not nearly on par, but don't let it fool you into thinking it is a cheap alternative. Individuals that take running cheap end up with feet that hurt, parts of their body that should never be chaffed and wearing fanny packs that would be in the free table at a garage sale. Having been a cycling fashionista I know about clothing that performs. I've made an investment in some good shorts that eliminate the chaffing, along with some shirts that will not chafe and a healthy investment in Body Glide.

Another thing that I have encountered is the muscle fatigue, recovery and maintenance. I hate the phrase "as I get older" but it has been used often with running. The first part of training was not bad. I eventually ramped up my mileage on the weekends. The shoe/foot hot spot was disconcerting and I was glad to discover that I could buy a solution to that. Some where after 12 miles I had a bad issue with my new. Essentially inflammation and not stretching well right away left me with a very stiff and sore left knee. I did some research and learned about Ice Baths. Now an ice bath sounds almost as archaic as running a marathon I admit, but stay with me. After my long runs on the weekend I've been taking an ice bath. Essentially for me this is a bath tub of the coldest water I can get in there. Individuals will eventually dump in buckets of ice to keep the temperature low, but I have not done this yet.
  • The Ice Bath is called Cryotherapy ("cold therapy"). "It constricts the blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown." The bath helps flush out the toxins that build up in the muscles from the hard effort.
The first time I tried this I lasted only 3 minutes in the tub. Yesterday I took a 15 minute bath to aid my recovery. I've actually started looking forward to the ice bath they have been so helpful. As much as they sound idiotic and down right unpleasant I highly recommend them.

Ice baths are not the only recovery item I've discovered. At work we have a Massage Therapist visit 2x a week and they take our health insurance (brilliant business differentiation point btw). I've been getting a massage once a week and it has helped a lot. The Massage Therapist talked me into a blue foam roller that I use to stretch my IT Ban.

I guess all in all you have to take care of your body when you are punishing it during training. That sounds silly and stupid but it's the truth. All of this effort and care makes one wonder why even do this at all I know, but I'll admit that I'm enjoying it. The running has given me a goal, some mental alone time in my head, and has helped me keep a few pounds off. The biggest thing is that it got me to work out during lunch time which was a perfect win.

Running 30 minutes is fine but after you ramp up your time you need some tunes to run with. Early on I had my own playlist. A mix of Van Halen, Lionel Richie, Billy Idol, Megadeath, Survivor, etc. It begins to look like a playlist that you'd find on Scrubs at times, on in our cousin Katie's ipod. I found that certain songs would make me run faster. The Rocky theme music for instance is a terrible song to listen to when you need to choose between running the proper 4 miles or "pushing it" to 6 miles. Twice I made the wrong choice. Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself" would get me to run about a minute faster than I should. My friend Joey turned me on to PodRunner. PodRunner is a free podcast that puts together ambient techno music at beats per minute. The steady beats per minute really helped me run at a consistent pace. Not one that was up and down like a kangaroo in the mating season (red dwarf prop). I will say that by this time in my training I'm quite sick of the music, but I will recommend it to any one.

The other indulgence is my Garmin 410. It records real time pace time, distance and time, along with a ton of other things. It's a good indicator of how the run is progressing.

The time running lets me think about things. I think about work and what I'd like to accomplish that day. I puzzle on things that have been bothering me. I think about Lavi and Jack a lot. People running by me must see my Chris Horner-ish pain and suffering grin and wonder what drug I'm on, as I jog by grinning wildly. A buddy of mine at work doesn't use the phrase "jogging" but opts to say "I'm going out for a struggle" at lunch. Struggle being the word he describes his jogging style. At times for me that is quite appropriate. A lot of times I'm thinking up twitter posts for my @TdF_Dadna twitter account, which I promptly forget when I finish.

I think it is interesting that I disclaim that this is my first marathon. As my brother you very well know that I've never accomplished such a run and why should I need to point it out? I think that the counting of marathons begins before you even run your first. There is some point in the training, in the mental prep and the dreaming that this is just the first of many. That you are going to get a good time and finish and then work to get a better time. Who knows? Boston Marathon even? Maybe an endorsement deal, etc, etc. It snow balls from there. But the core is that possibly this is just a first marathon and that others will follow in order to make the training effort of the first more of a value. For me… we'll see.

Next Saturday I set out to accomplish 26.2 miles of running. I'm pretty confident that I'll finish. I'm reasonably expecting a 4:30:00 finish time. I'm hopeful that I might land a 4:15:00. I'm 100% sure my body will hurt so much I'll swear off every bad thing I've ever eaten, drink or done to my precious temple. I'm equally sure that after a day and a night of Lavi's wonderful pampering I'll start dreaming big again.

On your left, running

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dancing on the Pedals!

Dear Mark

Last night Jason and I got to meet Phil Ligget. I know you probably don't know who he is, but he is to cycling commentary that Howard Cosell was to ABC sports, or how Christian Schnobein is to fuel cell engineering. Cascade Bicycle Club sent me tickets and I shared the night with Jason, much to the jealousy of many of my cycling buddies and wife. I'll write more soon. You should check out the Twitter role on the side too.

Here are two quick pictures though. One of Jason and me with Phil. The other is what he signed in his book. I asked him to sign it for Jack. Seems like Jack will have one more fan in 2035 when he races for Yellow.

I'm still "dancing on the pedals" from meeting this iconic personality in cycling.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike To Work Day 2011

Dear Mark

My Holy Day has arrived, yes today is Bike To Work Day. Jack and I cruised in among a throng of cyclists. It was as if a peloton engulfed our fair city. On top of that temperatures will reach 70 today. A fine day to celebrate on 2 wheels.

Doesn't he look cool and relaxed back there?

Jack and I stopped by a few of the bike to work day stations and enjoyed the time with our fellow cyclists.

Jack and I soon headed out and up the hill to his school. Here we are ahead of some school friends in their car.

Here at work we do a lot to encourage and help. While I won't blog about it specifically I will say that I'm proud that over 17% of our on-site population rode their bikes today. Amazing effort from my co-workers.

I tweeted under TdF_Dadna yesterday "If Bike To Work Day is our holy day, then the Champs-Elysees must be mecca for me and my son" which seemed appropriate.

Jack and I have been having a lot of fun on the bike this week. He even had the odacity to ask me to ride faster... uphill... into a head wind. I'll be glad when he understands simple things like physics, gravity, wind speed reduction, pacing and proper on-cycling fueling.

Okay, off to work and already looking forward to the ride home with Jack!

On your left!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jack kept riding while Dadna was away

Dear Mark

I literally just landed in Seattle after being gone for a week in San Jose. This put a dent in my bike commuting this week. In fact while I did walk every where this week, which was green, the only thing I worked out was my brain at the Adobe Tech Summit. Well that and my liver most likely.

Jack did not let the fact that his Dadna was gone deter him from daily riding. Here's a snap of him on his newest bike. A two wheeler with pedals.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bike To Work Month - Day 3 Sunshine & Gravity

Dear Mark

Today was a stellar day for cycling in the NW. A sunny day was a pure treat. Jack and I were back on the Xtracycle today. I find it very amusing that Jack will request that I go faster more when we are traveling uphill than downhill. I wish he was older so that I could teach him about this thing we call gravity and its affect on me as I climb hills. Granted I would also have to teach him that his Dadna is old, tired and and times just not as fit as the individuals we discuss when we watch bicycle racing on TV. Still, all in all a great day of cycling.

Jack likes to chat while we cycle, and in that he's a chip off the old block. My friend Joey was with me on a ride one day long ago when we met up with some friends. After cycling for only a few miles Joey informed our companions that "yes, Jeff is going to say Hi to everyone we pass, meet and fly by on the trail today." So, it does appear Jack takes after me.

Jack really likes to point out when other cyclists are not wearing their helmet. He does this quite loudly at times. The helmet-less offender is quite often in earshot. Jack explains that this is a very "bad choice" and that if you fall you need a helmet or a policeman and ambulance will have to come and help you. He's very serious about it. I simply answer him that we make good choices in wearing helmets to which he agrees. I then give the helmet-less offender a disapproving glance and a "what you gonna do, he's adorable when he's pointing out how wrong you are" look and we cycle by.

At other times Jack is again wanting me to "go faster Dadna, faster." I love that my son has faith in his Dadna to be able to rocket up a hill like a skinny little hill climber that has been doped on his own headlines. I try to explain that we need to be safe so Dadna can't go too fast uphill. Mentioning safety seems to satisfy him, at least for now.

Well, this Dadna is off to bed. I hope you are getting some good weather where you are and enjoying it as much as Seattle seemed to enjoy the sunshine today.

On your left,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bike To Work Month - Day 2 the Burley

Dear Mark

Another day and another bike ride to work. Jack and I took the Burley trailer today because the Xtracycle bike needed some brake tuning that I did not have time for. I think it is down right awesome that I have multiple options for commuting with my 3.5 year old son. Awesome and quite unsurprising I would guess.

Every ride it seems I discover something new in my thoughts. Riding is a great time to have some "me" time in my head. Face it, when you are grunting up a hill its even hard for me to have a conversation, just saying. As I was pulling Jack in the trailer I realized something... my kid is getting to be a big boy! I mean he almost doesn't fit in the Burley Solo anymore. He was hitting his head on the roof and just big for it. I think I see selling it off in my near future.

Riding with the Burley is a different experience. First, the trailer alone is 20 pounds. So you have that behind you. Add in a 40+ pound kid. Sprinkle on a heavily filled pannier with laptop and other things. Add on some lights and fenders and you've got a lot to pull. Luckily my quads are not afraid of the challenge, but it is still daunting. The Burley also catches the wind a lot more and I feel that as I ride. It feels like some one is grabbing my waistband as I try to run forward.

On the way home from school we rode to Jack's friend Calvin's house for dinner and a bit of play. Then we rode home. It was fun to ride to and from our destination. Maybe not as much fun up big hills when Dadna is tired, but fun overall. And I give Jack a lot of credit. He appears to really enjoy riding with me. I'm so grateful to the powers of universe for that.

This week Lavi has been traveling. Since she has left the car has stayed park and I'm hoping we can do that all week. Interestingly enough I have a big pile of drying cleaning at work I have to get home, so I smell a car commute one day as a result. We'll see.

Tomorrow we are back on the Xtracycle, which we both enjoy more. Keep the rubber side and keep them rolling.

On your left,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bike to work month

Dear Mark

May has now become Bike To Work Month for many of us cycling individuals. Not simply content with a day in May, we have now take over the entire month. That is right "Month of May we are in you!"

At work we have a few teams that are competing for the most daily trips. I have vowed to ride as many days as I can. I'm going to do this every work day (with the exception of next week as I travel to SJ) and I will do it with Jack on board.

I'm going to try and blog each day we ride in order to share. I do love riding with Jack. He sees so many more different things than I do. I assume that is because I'm either so intent on safety that my laser like focus doesn't let me see some of the nice things we ride by. Likely it's because he's heavy and I'm just laboring to get up a hill.

Today's ride was good. Here in Seattle your rides are judged less about headwind and moreabout avoiding the rain clouds. We did just that today. It dumped rain about 20 minutes after I arrived at work. Score! However, we did suffer 2 flat tires. I think Jack had fun changing them with me though. You will see them referenced in my TdF Dadna twitter feed. A source of comical (to me only likely) inspiration. Side thought, so many of my tweets only make sense if you know some cycling. Do you think Mom looks them up or just asks Dad why they are funny.

Changing the tire I some how messed up my already precarious rear disc brake. I'll have to have the shop do a quick check. Luckily for me I have not 1 but 2 bikes I can ride with Jack. Tomorrow we will cruise in with the Burley solo while I find some shop time for the extracycle.

More thoughts on commuting later. Off to bed soon for me. Got to be ready for tomorrow's ride. I'm raising a champion after all.

On your left,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shark1 is in the Tank

Hey Jeff,

[warning this blog post has been a work in progress for quite a while so some references may be dated]

So there’s big news out of the East Coast. No it’s not another snow storm [see, right there, dated reference], no Tom Brady hasn’t got a new hairstyle, no Northampton has not been voted “coolest place for ex-NW-pats to reside” (although it should). No, none of that nonsense, the really big news is that Team Shark is adding a member. We’re proud to announce that we are expecting. Shark1, or the Orzo as we have grown to call it since we read that it was once the size of a grain of rice, is due 8/8/11. Currently Mom and Orzo are doing well. At the 5 month inspection with the doc the week before last [again dated reference] we got confirmation of such things as 10 finger and 10 toes, heart is in the chest, etc. etc.. The kid was doing some sort of fist pump action in there too. I’m thinking it was a good old fashioned Billy Idol fist pump just like his/her super cool Dad. [We just had the 6 month inspection and all is good under the hood]

We’ve decided to wait until D-day to be find out boy or girl. Right now I’m thinking it is a girl and Siobhan is thinking it’s a boy. Predictions are subject to change depending on what old wives tale we are currently listening too. Seriously, I heard one about how large the mom’s nostrils are as it relates to the baby’s gender. Siobhan got wicked annoyed when I tried to measure with my micrometer (no that didn’t really happen, but I wouldn’t put it past me).

Thanks to the incredibly brutal winter this year and Siobhan’s desire/need to be within 15 feet of a place to fall asleep at all times (mostly need, apparently pregnancy is tiring, who knew!?) we’ve been spending a lot of time at home. This has allowed us to work a lot on the baby’s room. Siobhan has always had this vision of the baby’s room. So, like a fool, I took out pen and paper, did my best contractor impression “sure, we can do that, but it’ll cost ya” and away we went on a long project. It’s been a labor of love and I’ve come to appreciate just how talented an artist Siobhan really is. The room ended like this....

I’ve inhaled enough Disney paint sample fumes that I’m sure I’ll never be able to fully grasp the thermodynamic principal of fugacity again, of course… I never really did. We kept Siobhan away from the fumes, but she had to do all of the drawing.

Can’t really put into words how I’m feeling. I’ve been saying that it’s a mix of excited and terrified. I can’t wait to meet the Orzo, I just hope it’s ready for us.

Now this is kind of a silly post to be addressed to you since you’ve been in the know for quite a while, but I know that there may be other family and friends that you and Mom have not gotten to, plus our one or two voyeuristic blog readers out there (Hi Phil, hi Barry, hope things are good in your respective cell blocks!)

More to come, oh yeah! I promise. J



Sunday, April 24, 2011

A sleeping boy

Dear Mark

I asked Lavi if she thought out parents still enjoy seeing us asleep. I tell ya I never feel more like a Dad then when I see Jack sleeping at night. He is so adorable. I snapped this pic during his nap today.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bicycling in the Seattle Sun!

Dear Mark

We had a very unusual thing happen today, the sun came out. All of Seattle was quit shocked. The Weatherman predicted it, but we all took a "we'll believe it when we see it approached" as that individual has little to no credibility in this city. Still, he/she was right and the sun came out. It has been the coldest April on record for some time. This is evidenced by the facts that it will be a high of 60-65 today and it is April 23rd and by the fact that there are a lot of white legs in shorts wandering my city today.

Jack and I went to the park today. They have a new playground at Sandel Park in Greenwood. Our neighbors were going and Jack heard "playground" and just had to join in the fun. We walked/biked over. This means that Jack rode his two wheel balance bike (Prince Lionheart) and I walked along side. He's getting very fast on his bike and I confess to a quick trot at times to keep up. I will say he's good about watching for traffic and being aware of the street. I'm very happy, but still get nervous as a parent with him.

Jack got to the park and we hit the swings and the playground. We saw our neighbors and even our friend Rachelle was there with her kids. Jack eventually wanted to ride his bike. He did a few laps of the park. The kid was flying on that bike. He just cruised. His balance on the bike is great. I took several pictures that you can see in this slide show below.

The playground has a few "hills" in it. They slope down to the playground. He can get going pretty fast, almost too fast for his Dadna's liking. But I know I have to let him try things and just give him advice as he goes. I am proud that he "rode" up the hill too. He didn't push the bike or complain but scooted right up. That is my boy!

I love that he likes his bike. I mean really love it. You know how much I enjoy cycling. To see him liking it, wanting to ride every day and doing so well... I tell you I just beam with pride. I'm quite ridiculous I'm sure. The pictures above show him riding around the park but does not show the speed.

The next two videos kind of show how well he handles this bike.


This weekend the race Liege-Baston-Liege will run. It is one of the oldest races and truly a classic. Jack and I will watch it at his request. I kid you not. He asked to watch a bike race. If this kid is just brown-nosing me then I simply will ask him not to stop.

I'm off to enjoy some sun myself. I have a long run in store this afternoon. I wanted to post this for you to see. I hope all is well on the East Coast and that you two are getting some sunshine as well.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rum and coke

Dear Mark

You may recall that I've been attempting to "master" a new drink/cocktail each month. January was the Sidecar. I am hoping to be able to serve a drink to guests that doesn't have tequila in it. Partly to hoard the good stuff to myself and also I make my margaritas a bit strong.

February was dedicated to the gin and tonic. A classic drink that is quick and easy. The challenge was in the gin selection. I sampled Tanguray, Bombay Saphire and Hendricks. The Hendricks was too good to really mix actually. I've settled for having Bombay on hand as my choice.

In March, while in Panama, I turned my attention to the rum and coke. I've never been a huge fan, mostly because there were other options. However, Panama does make rum locally and I thought I'd give it a try. After sampling a few Panamanian Rums I've settled on "Abuelo" as my choice.

I find that a 50/50 mix over ice is mighty fine. A drink to be consumed when you want to slow it down and when it's hot.

I'd admit that this was an easy one to work on, but one of my rules was to have easy ingredients on hand. I mean rum and coke, pretty easy. I cannot tell you how often not having a fresh lime on hand has nixed a good margarita idea.

Well, I'm off to enjoy another. In April I'm going to tackle the Vesper. It will be 007 tribute. This will prove to be difficult because Lillet is hard to come by so I'll report on the poor man's Vesper too.

Cheers (literally)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mom & the Dictionary

Dear Mark

I saw this today in the news and I figured I should tell you I'm worried about how Mom will take the news.
"Internet slang like LOL and OMG are commonplace on sites like Twitter and Facebook or in GChat and AIM, but do they belong in the dictionary? The Oxford English Dictionary says yes; LOL, OMG, and FYI were added to the March 2011 release of the OED Online dictionary."
Now remember, Mom is still the card carrying member of the "Save the Hyphen" club so I think that this might upset her. I mean Oxford Dictionary is taking a chance here for sure. Adding abbreviations spawn from lazy teenage thumb typists is not a good trend.

What is next? IKR? BTWN? Yes, I think Mom will be quite upset over the abuse of her native tongue. Although she might be happy to know that the French will likely take a stand against it, but that only helps her when she's having cocktails.

While this may be bad news for Mom, it likely will help us in our Scrabble game. I always struggle with finding good words with "y" so FYI is a perfect high scorer.


Panama - Chorerra Track by cyclojeff at Garmin Connect - Details

Dear Mark

Here's a little proof that I did run while I was in Panama. I used my Garmin 410 which has GPS. I like running with it because it helps me track my pace and distance.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Panama - Carnival

Dear Mark

During our stay in Chica Carnival was occurring in Panama. Carnival is a big deal. It comes down to about 4 days of celebration culminating on Fat Tuesday. I found a web site that tries to sum up the reasons why and what occurs. Here is what they say:
"Although most people identify Panama with the canal, it is the colorful interior of the country that defines Panamanian roots and where people return in droves to celebrate Carnival. In the daytime tanker-sized trucks spray the screaming crowds in the equatorial heat. In the evenings there are fireworks, parades, and outdoor dance clubs."
Wikipedia tells me that it is the second largest carnival celebration in the world. Pretty impressive.
"The Panamanian Carnival is the second biggest festival in the world. Traditionally beginning on Friday and ending on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, "los carnavales", as Panamanians refer to the days of carnival, are celebrated in almost the whole country. Carnival Week in Panama is specially popular because of the luxury and magnitude of the Las Tablas Carnival as well as the carnival celebrations in Panama City and almost all of the Azuero Peninsula. The Panamanian Carnival is also popular because of the great number of concerts by national and international artists held on different stages in the most visited areas of the country."
I've never been in Panama during Carnival. It was fun to experience. Being in Chica let me do this on a small scale.

The first night the Carnival Queen from the previous year comes into the center of town and then the new Queen is presented. There is loud music and a band is playing as well. There are several other activities too. It was very fun to watch with Lavinia. The next couple of days there was a parade each day in the town with the Carnival Queen from the town. The parade in Chica was small but it was nice to be part of. Yes, that's right we joined the parade. Here is a picture of Jack & Mama joining in at the back of the parade.

Each day at the center of town is a water tank truck that is spraying down the partying people. There is dance music and just a lot of fun times. I'm sure not so fun for those that live near by, but overall a lot of fun. In the slide show below Lavi took some shots of her family (cousins) enjoying themselves.

On the third night Panama's version of Pearl Jam came to Chica, Samy y Sandra were performing. Now, to put this in perspective let me put it this way. Samy y Sandra playing in Chica is like Pearl Jam playing in the backyard of a house in Startup, WA. It is huge and a very big deal. Now Samy y Sandra always play in small towns, but the point is that they are immensely popular in Panama. Again, wikipedia to the rescue to explain them better than I could:
"Samy y Sandra Sandoval are a brother and sister musical duo, who are performers of típica or pindin (traditional music from Panama) and cumbia style music Music of Panama. They are also known as "Patrones de la Cumbia" (Masters of the Cumbia).[1] and are immensely popular in Panamanian pop culture."
Lavi and I were not planning on going to the show. I was tired from relaxing all day. We decided to go and visit her Tia Tina (aunt) and Tio Danielo (uncle) because we thought that they would be alone while everyone else was at the show. Jack was asleep and we walked up to their house. As we approached it looked like a party was going on outside. As we got closer we saw that several of Lavi's aunts, uncles and cousins from neighboring towns had come to Chica for the show. In fact, Tio Danielo had been going to pick up people all day. It was a wonderful surprise. We were able to hang out with the family for a few hours.

Now, I'll admit that by 10pm my brain was tired. Trying to understand Spanish all day just does me in. So we walked back to Lavi's Mom's house and I was going to bed. Nilsa decided that Lavi had not traveled 3,000 miles to Chica to miss Samy y Sandra. So those two got dressed up and went to the show. It sounded like a great time.

Thankfully I was able to find some posted video of the show in Chica.

Here is a video of them from another concert in the country this year. You can see they are a big deal!

On the last day of Carnival the Queen comes out and is presented to the town again. She rides a float and then dances in the center of town. Now this year's queen is actually related to me. I know, we have royalty (of the Carnival) in the family. Turns out that this year's Queen is Lavi's cousin's wife's sister. Because of this we got a call as the Queen was preparing to ride the float. We raced down with our camera and took a lot of shots. The Queen and Princess were getting on the float we took some really good shots.

Funny story about this though. Lavi was wearing her Mom's house keys on a strap around her neck. That and the camera with the big lens must have made her look like a Journalist. Several individuals thought she was from the paper.

Here is a photo of the Queen, Lavi and her two cousins Diane and Alexis.

And here is a photo of me and the Queen. The Queen's mother insisted that I get a photo with my cousin since we are family. Got to love that.

Here is a slide show of the pictures we took. There are a lot here, and many with family members. There are shots of the water tank, the Queen, the town parade and such in here.

Overall, Carnival in Panama was a lot of fun. A great time to get together with friends and family and really celebrate Panama's culture.