A Short Ride on a Hot Summer Day

I thought that I would take a quick 9-mile ride today in the 100F+ afternoon temperatures just to see what that was like. (Spoiler alert - this was a dumb idea.) My friend Keith had done a similar ride several years earlier on the hottest day in Seattle history, and even though he admitted in hindsight that it probably was a bad plan, sometimes experience is the best teacher - so this is a lesson that I had to learn for myself.

It is a measured 4.5 miles from my doorstep to the guard shack at the Saguaro National Park, which makes it a fairly easy 9-mile ride round-trip on a good day, (with the option of adding an additional 8 miles if you ride through the park itself). There is only 250 feet of elevation change from my house to the park, so I can generally average about 15mph without too much effort.

I use CycloMeter on my Windows Phone to track my rides, and it uses the Windows Phone "Zira" text-to-speech voice to announce each mile that I have travelled, every 10 minutes that I have been riding, and every 100 calories that I have burned.

CycloMeter

With that in mind, here is the conversation that ensued between my Windows Phone and me during today's ride:

  • Leaving the house:
    • Me: Hmm... it's a little warm. What's the temperature?
    • Me: [Looks at the Weather Channel app.]
    • Me: 101 degrees, not too bad.
  • At the 0.5-mile mark:
    • Me: Let's just casually glide between these speed bumps and the curb, shall we? No sense beating up the bike.
  • At the 1.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 1 mile.
    • Me: Yeah, yeah. I'm aware of that - I know right where I am.
  • At the 1.7-mile mark:
    • Me: OK - quick break at the Houghton Road stoplight. Time to hydrate.
  • At the 2.0-mile mark:
    • Me: There's the road that marks off 2 miles from my house.
    • Zira: You've ridden 2 miles.
    • Me: Um, yeah - didn't I just say that?
  • At the 2.5-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've burned 100 calories.
    • Me: Cool. Is it me, or is it getting warmer?
  • At the 3.0-mile mark:
    • Me: This was a dumb idea. I hate this hill.
    • Zira: You've ridden 3 miles.
    • Me: I must remember that this big hill with the turn is the 3-mile mark.
    • Me: (Didn't I tell myself that the last time I rode this way?)
  • At the 4.0-mile mark:
    • Me: This was a really dumb idea. It's pretty hot out here. How much Gatorade do I have left? Where am I?
    • Zira: You've ridden 4 miles.
    • Me: Oh, that's where I am. This was a really dumb idea.
  • At the 4.5-mile mark:
    • Me: OK - I'm at the guard shack; time to turn around. Should I stop to refill my water bottle? Nah, takes too long.
    • My Evil Subconscious: Hey, as long as I'm here, should I enter the park and add the 8-mile desert ride onto this?
    • My Good Subconscious: I hate you. Shut up.
  • At the 5.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 5 miles.
    • Me: It's really hot; did I mention that already? This was such a dumb idea.
    • Zira: You've burned 200 calories.
    • Me: Well, that takes care of lunch.
  • At the 6.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 6 miles.
    • Me: I'm almost out of Gatorade; I should have filled up with water at the park entrance. I'm such an idiot.
  • At the 6.7-mile mark:
    • Me: I should be at the 7-mile mark!!! What's up with this stupid GPS??? There's the stupid road that's 2 miles from my house!!!
    • Zira: (Silence.)
    • Me: Oh wait, wrong road; there's the correct road up ahead. This was a dumb idea.
  • At the 7.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 7 miles.
    • Me: Shut up. No one likes a smarty-pants. Why is it so hot?
  • At the 7.3-mile mark:
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Must catch the stoplight at Houghton Road...
    • Me: Caught it.
  • At the 7.5-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've burned 300 calories.
    • Me: By the time I get home, I will have burned off breakfast and lunch. How's my blood sugar? Is it crashing yet? Perhaps I should have eaten more?
  • At the 8.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 8 miles.
    • Me: Why does my Gatorade taste like I boiled it? Maybe a black water bottle was a bad idea.
  • At the 8.5-mile mark:
    • Me: Who put these stupid speed bumps here???
  • At the 8.9-mile mark:
    • Me: I'm right by the house!!! Why doesn't this stupid GPS say 9 miles???
    • My OCD Subconscious: You have to ride through the neighborhood to pick up the extra 0.1 miles and make it an even 9.0 miles.
    • My Hindsight Subconscious: You actually fell for that? You're an idiot.
  • At the 9.0-mile mark:
    • Zira: You've ridden 9 miles.
    • Me: I'm done!!! Throw bike in garage... Grab water bottle from fridge... Pour ice water in my hair and drink the rest... Jump in shower... Why is this tap water so warm??? I haven't even turned on the hot water!!!

That's pretty much how the whole ride went down. Just in case you were wondering, the starting and ending temperatures for the ride were both 101 degrees.

Did I mention at any point that this was a dumb idea?

Brain Teaser Spoiler Alert

I keep seeing people repost this annoying little image to their Facebook pages with a question that asks "How many squares do you see?":

00

First of all, I find these kinds of brain teasers annoying, and the fact that this image shows up every few months or so is only adding to my pre-existing dislike for this particular distraction. What's more annoying, however, is watching the debate that inevitably unfolds with regard to how many squares are displayed.

With that in mind, I will ruin this for future generations by stating that it contains 40 squares, and I created the following animation which shows where that number comes from:

40

With that in mind, please make the madness stop and just say "no" to posting useless brain teasers.

The Book of Squirrels

(Note: I found this on my computer, which I had posted to our refrigerator several years ago when my wife and I were going out of town for a few days and I wanted my son, Peter, to remember to put out food for the squirrels while my wife and I were away.)

BookOfSquirrels

Bob 21:15 - The lord of the house said to Peter Joshua, "Peter, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Dad," he said, "you know that I love you." Bob said, "Feed my squirrels."

Bob 21:16 - Again the lord of the house said, "Peter, son of Robert, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Dad, you know that I love you." Bob said, "Take care of my squirrels."

Bob 21:17 - The third time he said to him, "Peter, son of Robert, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because his dad asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Dad, you know many things; you know that I love you." Bob said, "Feed my squirrels."

(Note: If you don't get the reference, I'm not explaining it to you.)

You Know You're From Arizona When...

Note: A friend had reposted the following list on the Internet... I love these kinds of lists, because they always provide you with a chance to laugh at your surroundings in a way that only someone with intimate knowledge of the area can appreciate.

You Know You're From Arizona When...

  1. You can say "Hohokam" and no one thinks you're making it up.
  2. You no longer associate rivers or bridges with water.
  3. You know that a "swamp cooler" is not a happy hour drink.
  4. You can contemplate a high temperature of 120 degrees as "not all that bad, after all it's a dry heat."
  5. You have learned to expertly maneuver your vehicle under any traffic conditions using only two fingers; a skill usually learned initially in July.
  6. You know that you can make sun tea outside faster than instant tea in your microwave.
  7. You have to run your air conditioner in the middle of winter so that you can use your fireplace.
  8. The water coming from the "cold" tap is hotter than that from the hot" tap.
  9. You can correctly pronounce the following words: "Saguaro", "Tempe", "Gila Bend", "San Xavier del Bac", "Canyon de Chelly", "Mogollon Rim", "Cholla", and "Tlaquepacque", "Ajo".
  10. It's noon on a weekday in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one single person is moving on the streets.
  11. Hot air balloons can't fly because the air outside is hotter than the air inside.
  12. You buy salsa by the gallon.
  13. Your Christmas decorations include a half a yard of sand and 100 paper bags.
  14. You think a red light is merely a suggestion.
  15. All of your out-of-state friends start to visit after October but clear out come the end of April.
  16. You think someone driving while wearing oven mitts is clever.
  17. Most of the restaurants in your town have the first name "El" or "Los."
  18. You think six tons of crushed rock makes a beautiful yard.
  19. You can say 115 degrees without fainting.
  20. Vehicles with open windows have the right-of-way in the summer.
  21. People break out coats when the temperature drops below 70.
  22. The pool can be warmer than you are.
  23. Most people will not drink tap water unless they are under dire conditions.
  24. Monday Night Football starts at 7:00 instead of 9:00.
  25. You realize Valley Fever isn't a disco dance.
  26. People with black cars or have black upholstery in their car are automatically assumed to be from out-of-state or nuts.
  27. You know better than to get into a car/truck with leather seats if you're wearing shorts.
  28. Announcements for Fourth of July events always end with "in case of monsoon..."
  29. You have to explain to out-of-staters why there is no daylight savings time.
  30. When someone asks how far you live from a location, it's always in terms of minutes/hours, not miles.
  31. Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
  32. You can say "haboob" without giggling.
  33. You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

Ah, so true, so true... ;-)

Saints or Sinners / Snacks or Snafus

Over the past few years I have sat quietly and watched a lot of people argue across a myriad of political issues on Facebook. There are people who love portions of our government and its policies, while others detest them. The current scandal-of-the-day is that some see Manning and Snowden as heroes, while others consider them traitors.

I have tried my best to keep my silence, because the last thing that anyone needs is another person adding their opinions to a cyber-sphere that is already saturated by divisiveness, ignorance, and paranoia. But eventually an issue arises where I simply cannot remain silent; sometimes our government has unquestionably gone too far.

With all the dangers and terrors in this world from which we need protection, how is it possible that German Kinder Eggs must be banned by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act?

Somehow I am sure that Communists are to blame. ;-)

Adventures with the Tooth Werewolf

My oldest daughter just reminded me of something that I hadn't considered in years: when my children were young, my wife and I raised our kids somewhat differently than other parents. If you know me personally, then you're well aware that I'm not revealing anything surprising by that admission.

But let me explain what I mean: every parent has to choose which traditions they want their children to experience, and which traditions they want to skip. For example, some parents let their children celebrate Christmas, while other parents might not let their kids participate in Halloween festivities. My wife and I decided that Christmas and Easter were great, albeit with no Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny.

Now I know what many parents are thinking, and you can put the phone down - my children are all grown and you can't call Child Protective Services just because my children didn't set cookies by the Christmas tree in hopes that St. Nick would drop by.

But we had one tradition that we didn't skip, we just changed it a little; instead of the Tooth Fairy, we had the Tooth Werewolf. That's right, instead of Tinkerbell, we had Timberwolf.

I don't know why I chose to raise my kids with the belief that a big, hairy wolf snuck into their room and absconded with their baby teeth, but what's even more surprising is that my wife let me do it.

In all actuality, my children knew that it was me - I made sure of that. But it was pretty amusing when they would tell their friends that the Tooth Werewolf was coming to take away their teeth.

By the way, after a few successful years of the Tooth Werewolf, I decided that he needed a friend, and I invented the Easter Vampire.

Years from now, someone might need therapy. Winking smile

The Wheels of Time Have Rolled Over Me

When we moved to the Seattle area, one of the selling points for our new home was the backyard. The back door of our house empties out onto two large, wooden decks which overlook a large greenbelt of towering evergreen and maple trees. When our son was younger, he and his friends would play paintball and other games in those woods for hours.

My son is currently in college, so he's moved on from such 'juvenile' pursuits as paintball; now a fresh crop of kids has taken over the timberland. This new batch of boys has replaced the paintball pistols of yesteryear with airsoft artillery; in the summer season, we hear them waging war till all hours. This has never bothered me at all - it's simply part of the experience of living near a cool stretch of forest.

But recently, a few of the boys were skirmishing through the thickets, and one of them was crouching low to avoid being seen by his pursuers as he took a running shortcut across my backyard. I happened to look out the window as this unfortunate event unfolded, and we had just laid fresh layer of bark throughout the yard. With this in mind, and before I had a chance to consider the consequences, I had opened the window and yelled, "Hey! Don't run through my backyard!"

And then it hit me - I had officially become Old Man McMurray; the antiquated ancient who lives on the hill and yells, "Hey, you youngsters get out of my yard!"

[Deep Sigh.] Sad smile

Is it time to buy a new guitar yet?

Dogs Versus Cats

I freely admit that I am a "Dog Person." What's more, I am blessed to have married another dog person - we both love dogs, and this is generally a good thing. My wife grew up surrounded by dogs, as did I.

My wife and I spent the first ten years of our marriage in poverty or in the military, and unfortunately being in the military is a lot like being in poverty. Sad smile Just the same, we had been married ten years before the two of us were finally able to get a dog. Our first dog was a yellow Labrador Retriever named "Barney." Unfortunately, Barney had been mistreated by a previous owner and we were not able to keep him.

Our next dog was wonderful - we got a Bouvier des Flandres, who became a part of our family for the next eleven years. We named him "Ruff Waldo Emerson," which we shortened to Emerson. I had never owned a herding dog before, and it was a lot of fun to watch the way that he took care of our family: he would patiently wait by the door for the kids to arrive home safely from school, and he would try to push me out of my desk chair when he decided that it was time for me to go to bed.

Our most recent dog was a red-haired Golden Retriever, who our son named "Rook." (Our son, Peter, was heavily into chess at the time.) Rook was a great dog, and I now see why so many people love Golden Retrievers. Sadly, Rook died of a fast-acting bone cancer when he was just eight years old. Crying face

All of this is simply an introduction in order to offer proof that I am a dog lover. But that being said, I am decidedly not a "Cat Person." I am allergic to cats, which I think is God's way of saying that man isn't meant to coexist with cats. My daughter has a cat, and her cat seems to like me more than anyone else that comes to visit - which seems to be due to the fact that I ignore it.

Here are several of my thoughts on dogs versus cats:

  • Dogs have masters, cats have servants.
  • When stranded in an avalanche, no one looks for a cat to rescue them.
  • Who cares if cats kill mice? Why not just raise mice and skip a step? My friend has cats which drag live mice into the house - ostensibly to kill them - but eventually the cats lose the mice somewhere inside the house.
  • Dogs are faithful and loyal; cats are selfish and fickle.
  • If you pet a dog, the dog thinks, "Wow - he likes me; he's so wonderful." If you pet a cat, the cat thinks, "Wow - he likes me; I'm so wonderful."
  • No one takes a cat hiking.
  • Dogs can be trained to search for explosives, provide eyesight for the blind, haul loaded sleds across hundreds of miles of hostile terrain, sense a variety of medical conditions, guide herds of animals without supervision, and a host of other important tasks. Cats can be trained to poop in a box.

The debate over which is better – dogs or cats - is ages old, and not likely to ever be resolved. But in my estimation, dogs will always be man's best friend, while cats will remain - at best - frenemies.

Killer Rabbits from Antiquity

For those of you who thought that the killer rabbit in Monty Python's "Holy Grail" was a work of fiction, I suggest that you see the top center pane in this stained glass detail from the West Rose Window of Notre Dame in Paris. Apparently brutal bunnies must have been an issue when the French built this cathedral, or perhaps the French will run away from anything.

(Note: Giving credit where it is due, this image is originally from the web page at La Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.)

 Wink