Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 33

IN -

Got started even earlier today so I decided to not skimp on any of the stop signs. Normally in the morning I kind of, sorta, blow through some of the stop signs on the way. There are literally dozens of them so in the morning when there are no cars, not even parked ones I had been cautiously riding through the stop signs.

The reason was twofold (with a very slight "bend," not a full fold, but you know). I was worried that so much use of my brakes would, well, brake them. I was not getting enough stopping power and I feared that stopping so often would wear them down so that when I really needed them I wouldn't have them.

The second full fledged reason is that they seem completely irrelevant at four in the morning. When I get to a stop sign and I hadn't seen any cars for several minutes, either along my street or on the crossing street, it seems like the actual reason there is a stop sign, namely to regulate TRAFFIC, is moot. There is no traffic, so why do you need a stop sign?

The third slight reason, and I really do mean it is slight, I'm not just trying to make light of something that is the real reason. This one is really an after thought and more a benefit than a reason anyway. It's because I can go faster and don't have to work so hard.

Anyway, the reason I was stopping anyway, getting back to my second reason, was because I preach safety, always using lights, always signaling turns, wearing proper clothes etc. I try to be as safe as I can, because it is right, it is safe and because I think that it is far more important to do these things than to wear a helmet. These things are far more important and a helmet, if it does add protection, does not replace these things, it only adds a slight additional level.

So I stopped at all the stop signs today (slow down to the point of losing my balance, I try not to put my foot down if I can help it). There was no need to because there was no danger and no traffic, but I did it because that's the law, and the only way to reinforce the habit.

Hey, I found two more reasons, and they are both stronger than my third anyway.

Oh, the ride, it went fine, a lot slower because of the stop signs, but it was fine. I made it to work early enough that the gate wasn't open yet. The guard was there waiting in his car. I pulled up and jokingly, half to myself, said, "May I please come in?" Right then he got out and started to unlock the gate so I'm not sure if he heard me or not. He asked for my ID, which I happen to wear when I'm riding so I was happy to show him and be on my merry way.


Much hotter today, and there seemed to be a pretty strong Southerly wind, even though the wind turbine was still. That thing is pretty high up and the ground level wind is sometimes different.

It's a lot deeper than it looks
I grabbed some pics of construction that is going on along the trail.

It only took me 8 minutes longer to go home than to get to work, that's what those stop signs do to ya.

Does everyone stop at stop signs?
Come on, do you really?
Do you come to a complete stop or just a rolling stop?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bike Commute 2011 - Day 32

Back on the dusty trail Monday, finally.

IN -

I actually got out and started at almost 4:00. I made it to work at a good pace and 34 minutes. That's not bad considering I'm over a month out of practice. I did notice that it's dark later now, and was concerned that I didn't see or hear any animals at all until I got just before work and heard some crickets (or frogs, sometimes I can't tell which is which). Where have all the critters gone?


Last Friday/Saturday was the biggest single day rainfall in the history of Chicago weather-keeping (since 1871) so I expected the Des Plaines River Trail to be flooded but I didn't see any sign of that as I passed over the river. There also weren't any puddles or any mud on the trail. I was a bit surprised.

There was a downed tree branch. There is quite a bit of that around since the week before last we had a huge storm that ComEd said caused the 4th biggest blackout they have ever had. That one blew down trees and buildings.

Today it was very pleasant. It wasn't as hot as I had feared (feared 90s and got 80s) and there was a gentle headwind. It wasn't enough to impede progress, but just enough to add a bit of cooling effect to the ride. I actually felt more comfortable going home than coming to work.

It was a pretty quick ride at about 46 minutes.
In other news -

I started working out again. This is in addition to the bike rides. I'm going to mix Body for Life and Power 90 (no not P90X, just plain old P90). I don't expect to do it for 90 days, but I want to get into pretty good shape for Old Boys.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bikesick and Power Loss

Since last I posted a very great deal has occurred.
First, I got a cold first thing Tuesday morning. This was extra bad since Mrs. Prop left to go to Puerto Rico for work. She was gone from Tuesday to Friday. Coincidently, I was sick from Tuesday to Friday.

This was extra bad, or double plus ungood because I didn't get my bike back until Wednesday. It was in the shop for nearly two weeks and when I got it back I was too sick to ride it. I suppose I could have ridden and toughed it out (I know there are some of you saying I should turn in my Prop-card for that) but I also didn't want to have any troubles since I was home alone with the little props.

Mrs. Prop made it back Friday night, but that wasn't really time for celibration for two reasons. Her brother was already in town, and now she has to work this week here in Lake County because the FDA is in town.

The AZ part of the family made their once a year trip back to the home state on Friday.  They were only in town until Monday morning, so we had to make the most of the time we had.

We visited them in Oak Lawn all day Saturday.  It was a great visit.

Then on Sunday it was my in-laws 50th anniversary.  We did a river architechture tour and then dinner in the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hanncock Center.  It felt very much like we were in first class in a Zeppelin crossing the Atlantic.

Monday morning the Arizonians left, Mrs. Prop went to work, a 75 mph storm rolled in and we lost all our power.  We were powerless until very late on Tuesday night (after they told us it would be until Friday when we got it back).  I'm glad I didn't run out to buy a generator.

I spent all day Wednesday and part of Thursday cleaning up from the power loss (laundry, dead stuff in the fridge, etc).  I know it doesn't seem like a long time as I report it now, but at the time with the planning and such, it really messed with my head.

I hope the second week of my vacation is better.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Libertyville Village Band 2011 July 4th Concert Review

We had a concert at Butler Lake on July 4th. We were in the bandshell on the island.

This was our intended lineup:

1. Triumphant Fanfare - Star Spangled Banner (with vocalist Donna Chung)
2. A Gershwin Portrait
3. Americans We
4. Amazing Grace
5. Fugue On Yankee Doodle
6. Jesus Christ Superstar
7. Classics, Classics, Classics
8. Blue and the Gray
9. On A Hymnsong of Philip Bliss
10. American Salute
11. Disney At The Movies
12. Washington Grays
13. Armed Forces Salute
14. The Best of Journey
15. On The Mall
16. They Can't Take That Away From Me
17. National Emblem
18. America The Beautiful

I guess it's a good thing that we don't publish our lineups because we don't always play what we intend. This is what we actually played:

1. Triumphant Fanfare - Star Spangled Banner.
2. A Gershwin Portrait
3. Americans We
4. Amazing Grace
5. Fugue On Yankee Doodle
6. Jesus Christ Superstar
7. Classics, Classics, Classics
8. Blue and the Gray
9. On A Hymnsong of Philip Bliss
10. American Salute
11. Disney At The Movies

I think there was some confusion at this point and we skipped Washington Grays

12. Armed Forces Salute

There was a firework that went off and I think that Corey thought all the fireworks were going to start so he cut out a few things.

13. On The Mall
14. Washington Grays
15. America The Beautiful

We were packing up to leave when the singer, Donna Chung arrived, so we sat back down and played one last piece

16. Star Spangled Banner

In all it was very nice. I thought we sounded pretty good, and my family said we did too, no matter how I pried to try to get a more critical review.

I would recommend it to anyone.

After the concert they set off the fireworks right there in the park. It was so close that we were covered in ash and pieces of paper by the end. The display was about 25 minutes, but my oldest daughter said it was the best finale that she had ever seen.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Libertyville Village Band 2011 Concert 2 Review

We had another concert yesterday.

Here's what we played:

1. Triumphant Fanfare and Star Spangled Banner
2. American Salute
3. Jesus Christ Superstar
4. America the Beautiful
5. Classics, Classics, Classics
6. On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss
7. The Best of Journey
8. American's We
9. A Gershwin Portrait
10. On The Mall

Our conductor is Corey Ames, but Jesus Christ Superstar and On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss were conducted by the conductor emeritus Dave (sorry, I don't know his last name).

This concert was better overall.  First of all, we didn't need to stop any songs in the middle because we were all over the place.  I think this song list is mostly easier than what we did last week, which probably has the most influence.

For my own part, I did much better.  I'm not sure if it was because I'm actually improving or because I played the 2nd Alto Sax part.  It's probably a bit of both, or more broadly speaking, a mix of it all.