Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Orange and Blue - Who's Fault

The Fighting Illini Football team were off this week, but Mikel LeShoure got a full page in the Chicago Tribune this Sunday.  I love when Chicago actually acknowledges the Illini.

Bears beat the Packers (curse you Greenbay Packerpus) 20-17 last night.  Unfortunately I couldn't watch, but I listened as long as I could and it sounded non too good at first.

This morning I got right on the highlights on the web and I see Packers fans saying in the same breath, the Bears had no business on the field with the Packers who are the only true Superbowl caliber team in the NFC, while they also say that the Packers gave the game away on penalties.

Excuse me, but Superbowl caliber teams don't GIVE games away and Superbowl caliber teams don't commit three miles of penalties.

But, still they say, the Bears didn't win that game.

Well, if the Bears didn't win it, and the Packers didn't lose it, who is responsible.  Aaron Rodgers gives the Soldier Field crowd credit.  Ok, we'll take that, Chicago won.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Equinox, The Equinox, Autunal Equinox

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the moon is full, there is a spring tide and the Earth is pointed at, at...

I've not been sleeping well the past few nights with the turning of the world and the coming equinox.  It was exactly five years ago on the equinox that I experienced something I've never been able to bring myself to tell anyone.  I tried, last year, I tried.  I thought enough time had passed.  I thought I had regained enough of my nerve to relay the fact to you.  I couldn't last year.

It may have been a blessing in disguise, bah, blessing, as if there were such things as blessing or Someone to bless me, to bless us. 

It may have been for the best that I could not tell you the story of what happened that Atumnal Equinox in New Orleans in 2005.  I'm still not sure if everyone should know or no one.  I think no one, I don't want anyone to know, no one should know, but someone does.  I do.

I do know, and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to share the experience this time; or maybe my subconcious, which knows best, may steal my resolve again.

It's still dark now while I write this, the moon is still out.  I don't know if you can take it, but I'm going to have to wait until the light of day.  When the sun is over head I'll try to tell my story, as much as I can, while I can.  It may take me several days, several posts, but I'll try, I'll try.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

AHOY, T'day Be Talk Like A Pirate Day Matys! ARR!

Hi-ho. this day be speak Like a scurvy pirate Day. I be hopin' to have a jolly day. We're goin' to church, then we're goin' to Denny's if we're lucky. Then we're goin' to me in-laws so I can mow th' lawn. If I be lucky I gunna catch th' Bears battle 'n maybe put grub in me gullet some pizza. When we get back I'll be off to th' grocery store 'n then get ready fer th' mornin' 'n be off to sliumber in davey jones' treasure chest. What gunna ye do?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More Bike Commute Reports

Friday 20 Aug 10 - IN - Parked near Hanrahan Park and rode up the North Shore Trail spur to the trail. I rode in to work the same route I would ride home so I could see how long it might take. If I can keep the homeward route down to about 45 min and the car part under 5 then I'll be fine. I rode kind of easy and I barely could find my way through the park and up the spur. I'm sure that will be faster in the light.

HOME - I looked up from work and saw that it was already after 2. I scrambled and got out the door at 14:18. I rode as hard as I could. I had never gotten home faster than I had gotten to work, but I managed to make it back to the van in 37 minutes, a full 4 minutes faster than I got to work from the car (in the morning I actually didn't know where I was going and had to double back a bit, but never before did that matter). I took Brice down to the van, and the way to work I took the trail spur. The trail spur seems okay in the morning because it's more open and light, but in the afternoon it will be too exposed to the sun. I noticed a big windmill behind Cluver's today and a big log in the river that I never saw before. It took 7 minutes to get home once I got back in the car. Combined I took 44 minutes to get home. That is the best time I've ever had getting home so far, but I don't think it's sustainable. I think this route is sustainable at 50 min. That will be okay if I leave work at 14:00.
Monday 23 Aug 10
IN - I tried to park coloser to the end of the spur, but the is no parking on village streets 6:00am-2:00pm anywhere in Libertyville. That's a big drag. Since I went over there looking and had to come back, I was late getting started. Both my long range flashlights went out so I had to use just the LED one. That one sprays light around so I can't see at all unless I put my hand over the top of it. My first priority today is to get a good flashlight as a headlight (I'll get two if they're cheap and only use the LED one as backup. It was very cool this morning. I saw the same guy on Atkinson that I saw on Friday. I actually saw him before I got out of the car in Mundelein or Libertyville. I'll have to ask him where he's coming from if I see him again. He completely blew off the stop sigh on Atkinson, but he pulled over to the side to let a car pass as we were coming down off the hill. I followed him into Abbott Park and he actually used his ID to get the gate to open. He stopped once he was in and as I passed he smiled and said good morning.

HOME - I tried to get out on time, but people kept talking to me. I took a more scenic route because the time wasn't as critical (MAL was home sick). I took the Des Plaines River Trail and later took the North Shore spur. The spur got me around the construction and I wanted to check out another parking spot that would avoid the construction. The other parking spot wouldn't work because it's a no parking, school area. It took me 8 minutes to get home in the car for a total home trip of 48 min, still better than anything without the car. I noticed grasses growing on the older storage building (like behind Culvers) I wonder if that's a green roof.

Tue 24-Aug-10 Have to take the bike in to get the brakes adjusted. Yesterday they had gotten so soft that I almost missed a walk button, had a hard time stopping at stop signs and nearly ran into that other bike guy in the morning. It had been getting bad for a while (especially after that big rain) but not it has me worried, and I'm overdue for the one month tightening up. The gears seem to be slipping less, but they still do.

Thu 26-Aug-10
IN - Hooray, I'm back on my bike today. There is a clicking that was very seldom now, I couldn't really get it to do it at the shop, but is pretty common now. It has to be something in the bike because I can feel it in my feet as well as hear it. I'm really hoping it's nothing serious. The sky was absolutely clear this morning and the moon was almost full, very pretty. I parked near Hanrahan and left the house at 4:48. I got into the park on the bike at 4:57 but I rode most of the way on the roads, making up time. It ended up slower in total than other mornings (45min door to door today vs 40, 42 and other 45) but mornings are not what counts. I didn't catch my biking "friend" until we were both in Abbott Park, just past AP32. Very cold this morning at 58o when I checked it on the web.

HOME - I actually beat SEL today! She caught traffic and I got out the door 5 minutes earlier than I had been. I left the office at 14:13 and got to the van at 14:50 (37 minutes, pretty good), then I got home at 2 minutes to three (total going home time 45 minutes). I took the spur so I could avoid construction, but I think next week construction may be over in that Dalton-Brice area. I think riding on the street will be faster. The spur isn't too bad when it's cool and it was about 78o or so. It is slow because of the turns.

Fri 27-Aug-10
IN - WOW! This was my fastest ever coming in time. I rode all the way from home and I beat some of my riding from the van times (although two of them were on the trail not the street because I was testing the time for going home). I figured because the HS girls are off today and I can afford to be late if I have to be. I don't think I will though. My fastest going home time with the van is 45 minutes and my fastest without is 50 minutes. If I leave at 14:00 I'll make it in plenty of time. 60o this morning. I was very snotty, but I like the cool temps much better, they might be helping me go faster.

HOME - Nothing much to report today. I got caught by both Milwaukee and Butterfield lights. I rode as hard and fast as I could. This was the fastest ride door to door, but it's still a minute slower than the slowest door to door using the van. I guess the parking the van at Hanrahan park is the best chance for me to get home before Sophie. I did see a girl sunbathing just off the trail about one block past Butterfield. I didn't see her until I had passed her because I was pedaling hard as I had just crossed the street. She was laying on her front in a pink flowered bikini.

Mon 30-Aug-10 Tore up my heels something fierce in the Rugby match Saturday so I'll have to stay off the bike for at least today. I brought my clothes in.

Fri 3-Sep-10
IN - Tied the record (38min), and I wasn't even pedaling hard. MAL is working from home today so I could ride the whole way. I think it was a combination of cool weather (61o) and I spent absolutely no time on the trail. 176 has been recently paved the whole way and it is really smooth and fast. I spent nearly the whole time in 3-7. I'm not sure if my legs are really that much stronger or used to riding than they were when I started so I don't know if that contributed to it as well. It had been raining heavily when I went to bed, but the morning was so clear that I could see not only Orion's belt but his sword as well. I definitely need a new light. I could hardly see at all and it was dark the whole way in. I ordered two flashlights yesterday. I also think a billed cap would be useful to keep on-coming headlights out of my eyes.

HOME - Big headwind and I wasn't going for speed (59 min). I went past Minear Lake. It was only about 70o but because of the wind I still got warm enough to sweat. The bike is making the ratchety clicking sound every time I press down on the left pedal.

Sat 4-Sep-10 Took bike in to shop. He said it is the bottom bracket and he'll have to replace it. It's still under warrantee. I also had him lower the handlebars so I can avoid the wind a bit.

New Romisen Flashlight (above w/ extension in)
Thu 9-Sep-10
IN - New flashlight worked like a dream. I don't even know why I would need a second one. It's the Rominson. It doesn't fit a single battery or do 2 modes as advertized, but with 2 AAs it was like a motorcycle headlight. I spent more time paying attention to my equipment and didn't really notice anything on the ground except I went through some fog this morning. It was really pretty cold (50o). A car didn't stop on Atkinson as I was coming out of Fox Run and crossing over to the bike trail. I was stopped and he slowed down, but didn't stop at all to give me the right of way to cross to the trail. I yelled at him. Took me 44min total to get in which is pretty slow. I wasn't pushing it, but I did catch all the lights. I had to stop once because my nose was running so bad. I'm going to have to keep my handkerchief in my pocket and probably bring a spare.

HOME - Went to the ADD picnic for a few minutes behind AP32, so my times are based on that, slightly less that the real total times. It was still very cool on the way home. Although the ride seems to be smoother and less difficult, I seem to have slowed down (30 min bike plus 10 min car). I was thinking that I don't see much when I saw two guys rustling around in the bushes along the Trail. I asked them what they were gathering, suspecting it was grapes and they confirmed that. The man I talked to had a soiled, heavy winter coat and about three teeth. He tried to explain to me about how healthy grapes are, but I hadn't stopped to ask him and I didn't stop to listen. There are grape vines growing among the bushes almost all along the trail.

Fri 10-Sep-10
IN - Since the HS girls have half a day I decided to ride all the way today. Near the monistary I saw something to my left and when a car passed me I heard a crash as the deer ran off into the woods. I never realized just how loud they can be. ALL the lights were in my favor today and I definetely know how to trip the Abbott light sensors (cross the sensor with my back tire and turn the front tire so that it is on the sensor, following the curve), but I was still pretty slow. My nose runs a lot when it's this cold 50o. I'm going to have to figure out a way to wipe it without stopping. I tried today, but I couldn't do it with my handkerchief. I ended up stopping. It was actually the only time I did stop. Now that I've lowered my handlebars and when I ride that long my hands get numb. I may need gloves to help with that. They would also help with the sweating and changing grears when it's hot. I'll put it on my wish list.

HOME - Went pretty fast (47 min door to door) and I beat Sophia home since I actually left on time. I almost laid the bike on the ground coming off the trail onto the sidewalk at Milwaukee. I tried to make the turn mostly by leaning and the crushed gravel of the trail slipped. I put one foot down and popped back up.

Wed 15-Sep-10
IN - Took all streets, Brice up to Hawley, then St. Mary's up to Atkinson, and not bike trail on Atkinson. I rode through Abbott Park. I know I left the house in the van at 4:37 and I got to work at 5:13, but I'm not sure how quickly I got to riding the bike. I can't imagine it was faster than 8 min, which makes today the fastest ever ride in. It was mostly clear and warmer than last week. Because I rode only on the streets I didn't notice any leaves, but last week I had heard some crickety-crunch sounds which I at first thought were the gears clicking again, but in retrospect I think they were the first of the fallen leaves. I saw five American flags on poles along St. Mary's just south of MacArthur "road." I'd never noticed them before. Found out today that 176 has sensors at Butterfield. I tried to ride across as a vehicle, but I was no where near the sensors and I had to wait for someone to trip them.

HOME - I got stopped by the light crossing Waukegan at Atkinson. There were no cars going my way so I couldn't go at all, couldn't trip the sensors. I think I'll have to go through the Park to avoid that light because it can really slow me down. I then got stopped by a train crossing Atkinson. Went through the Greenbriar subdivision. Once I got on St. Mary's road I saw a crowbar along the shoulder. I'll have to keep my eyes open. When I got to the car, because I was trying to go fast I came down the hill very fast and slammed on the brakes. I fishtailed a bit and when I went to put my foot down on the right I didn't put it down flat, but caught the edge of my shoe and rolled it. Fortunately I didn't put any weight on it, but had to hope off the bike and nearly dropped it. It all worked out though. The ride to the van took 38 minutes, which is pretty slow considering the 28 minute ride from the van.

Thu 16-Sep-10
IN - I woke up at 1:30 and it was raining. I decided not to ride. Then when I woke up at 3:30 I hit the snooze (unfortunately a 9 min one) so when I woke up at 3:39 I saw that not only was it not raining, the ground had dried. It was still cloudy, but some of the stars were shining through. I got a late start and my legs felt really heavy. I packed in case it started raining on the trip and so when I was done I had to dig my phone out of my bag. It took 38 min riding, 4 min slower than yesterday, even though today I caught all the lights and took the exact same route. I wonder if my riding will get more predictable as far as time goes, the longer I do it. Anna Clausen showed me the bike she wants to buy (I'm pretty sure she said it was 52, as in $5,200). I showed her my bike and the new light. She lifted the front fork and gasped at how much it weighed, which is funny since there is so much weight on the back that it causes the front to be lighter.

HOME - WNW headwind all the whole way, really sapped my strength, but I managed to make it to the van in 37 min (min faster than yesterday). I noticed that the big industrial windmill points it's nose at the wind with the blades trailing. I also noticed the river a bit higher. The sky was threatening so I had a double race to run, beat Sophie (which I lost) and beat the rain (which I won, but it didn't rain). I put the lights all on because it was so dark.

Fri 17-Sep-10
IN - Colder today so my nose was running like a faucet, had to use my extra handkerchief a lot. Got caught by a couple of lights and felt really tired again. The biggest problems were, first my batteries ran out on my big flashlight and I had to replace them about Milwaukee, then there was a dragging and a flapping sound on St. Mary's just south of Atkinson. I stopped and I think the left bag was just rubbing the spokes. I shifted it, but it seems to do it each time I hit a bump. I'll have to figure something out for the trip home, and then something more permanent. The flashlight batteries lasted about 4 1/2 trips (3 mornings, 1 afternoon and half a morning). That's about what I was hoping for and I'm very happy with it.

HOME - Turned out that the board I put in my computer bag broke. I remounted it and it rode very well. There was a SSW wind that slowed me a tiny bit. I saw quite a few walkers, but no riders. I did see one bike at Milwaukee just standing on the sidewalk with no rider in sight.

Sat 18-Sep-10 Got my Tank007 flashlight today. I'll mount it Monday probably. It's much brighter than the other one, think that's because its on high. I can change modes (there seem to be 5), but I'm not sure how to control when they change. It gets warm on high very quickly. I don't know if the heat won't turn it off mid-ride and I don't know how long the batteries will last.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Orange and Blue Kool-Aid Time

I suppose a lot of people stumble upon this site (or google upon it) looking for Fighting Illini content. Up until now all those people went away with nothing. I say, "up until now" because from now on I'm going to have some Illini content.

I realized, after an abysmal preseason, that my beloved Bears were going to disappoint me this year, and maybe even match last year when they failed to retool the entire coaching staff. They proved me right yesterday by doing everything they possibly could to lose that game. I guess Detroit is just better at losing than the Bears.

I bleed orange and blue, from when I was a youngster hoping to run like Walter. When I attended the University of Illinois I managed to make only one football game because I was always playing Rugby on Saturdays. After school I could never find the Illini on TV in the Chicago area, I could never find them on the radio either. College football baffled me any way with 10,000 schools and 176 conferences.

I wanted to follow the Illini, don't get me wrong, it was just too difficult. This year I found the Big 10 Network is FREE on my Dish subscription, and WIND AM560 carries the games.

I saw, and heard my first game last Saturday. Oh my. I know it was SIU and not another Big 10 team, but the sights, the Marching Illini, the end zones emblazoned in orange, Block I, the history, the memories. Why had I not tried to do this earlier? Why had I not gone to basketball games when I was at school?

I'm embarrassed that I don't know the words to Oskee Wow Wow, that I don't really know the traditions of the Chief, that I learned the Illinois Loyalty song only while deployed in Afghanistan (in 2004-2005 when they were Number 1 for most of the season). I can't go back and fix that, but I will share my experiences of this season with you if you'd like.

One time while we are being rocketed in Afghanistan I was in a bunker with the DIVARTY Command Sergeant Major. He was from the 25 Infantry Division out of Hawaii, and hadn't been in country long. I had been in Afghanistan for six months by then and these attacks were old hat. I was on the radio working on part of the defense of the base, being the Base Operations Commander, and he seemed to notice our unit's call sign for the first time.

"Illini? That's hard to say. You know, you should be Bobcat, or Badger, something easy to say."

I looked at him square in the eye and said, "We're Illini, Sergeant Major."