Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My picture is on a t-shirt!

My son Greg gave me this t-shirt yesterday as a late Christmas gift. No doubt that he knows me pretty well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back on the grid

Our power came back on this afternoon after being off for almost exactly 34 hours. I think we may be lucky compared to others who are expected to be without power for a longer period. But with the high winds again this evening we are keeping our fingers crossed.

This morning I was able to get out for a couple of hours. With the almost clear roads it felt like I was flying compared to the last couple of rides. But you still had to watch for ice in the shaded areas. I hope to get out again tomorrow before the snow comes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

When the power output goes to zero

As in electrical power. We woke up at a little after 5:00 am this morning when the power went out. The carbon monoxide detector lets out a beep when the power goes out or back on. At that point there wasn't much to do but get back under the covers and try to sleep.

We got up a little later to go to church, hoping the power would be restored by the time we got home but no luck. I brought in our kerosene heater and fired it up. It puts out a lot of heat and the living room stayed relatively warm. Thankfully the temps were in the low 30's so it was not as difficult to keep things warm.

The record for the longest time without power since we moved here was 12 hours but as we approached that milestone Sandy and I went out to dinner. After we got back and still did not have power it was dark so I dragged out the generator and fired it up to provide some lights in the house. We also plugged in the upstairs refrigerator since it had been off so long it was starting to warm up inside.

With the fireplace blazing and the generator and heater going, it was quite cozy. I decided to plug in the cable modem and router so I could access the Internet via the laptop. We did not want to risk damaging the computer or TV by plugging them into the generator since it doesn't provide clean power. I felt bad for my son who picked up a Wii Fit overnight and hasn't ahs a chance to use it.

So here I sit, with the power out for almost 17 hours. They say it may be a few days before everyone has power restored. But with the fireplace, heater, a plate of cheese and crackers and a beer, plus Internet access, it doesn't get much better during a power failure.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

I guess I have fallen behind in posting since I usually do it at least once a week. But with Christmas now behind us it's a good time to do an update.

Work has been kind of crazy the last few weeks as we are coping with the loss of a lot of talent all at once. It is taking a while to figure out who is now the person to go to in certain areas. I have picked up additional responsibilities as the ITM contact for two new engine plants we are launching next year. The person I am taking over was kept over for a month but now he is gone too. Many other employees were given an extension for a month or two.

Of course the other big concern at work is much broader in scope, will we even be around in six months. A few weeks ago we were wondering if we would survive much past the end of this year as we waited to see what happened in congress. The roller coaster ride isn't over but there is at least a little breathing room, however temporary it may be. After watching the senate proceedings I have to admit that I am reluctant to travel to the south and spend any money on races down there. Especially in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

All the snow we got last week allowed me to get in some snowshoeing and xc skiing while waiting for the snowmobiles to pack the trails back down to ride. I rode on the back roads on Saturday but much of the ride was spent trying to find traction on the roads that hadn't had a plow or much traffic. Often I would be riding in the tire tracks only to have to stop and get off to the side to let a vehicle pass as the tracks were the only spot to drive (or ride). I decided most of my riding this week would be on the trainer. They didn't even plow our sub until Wednesday, five days after the storm.

Christmas was a lot quieter than usual as there were just the three of us. Sandy's sister could not make it up. We also had cut down on the gift buying this year as Sandy and I decided to donate to a few charities instead of buying much for each other.

Sandy had cooked a great dinner of Cornish hens and afterward we had a video call from Jason. He had recently gotten a computer with a built in camera and more importantly, high speed Internet service. The last few days we have been able to connect and see each other while we talk. We were able to hook up our laptop to the 50" plasma TV to get a big screen experience. It's not quite the same as being there but it helps ease the separation. In the afternoon some of the nuns came down from the Mount and gave a concert while we watched.

Not sure what is in store for the rest of the time off. I rode outside today but the rains coming will force me back inside for a while. Sandy and I will be doing some indoor rock climbing and hopefully get up north next week to do some xc skiing.

Watching the live concert via the Internet.

Greg playing his Rockband 2 game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lost Weekend

This past weekend was not very productive. Thursday night I started coming down with a cold and if got progressively worse on Friday. Saturday morning I woke up with intense sinus pressure along the cheek line, something I hadn't experienced before. I stayed in bed most of the morning and tried to sleep it away.

I felt a little better in the afternoon and also guilty for not riding. I went out for a ride and the back roads were almost perfect, as long as you had studded tires. The roads did not have many pot holes yet and were free of heavy snow. They were pretty icy in a lot of spots and you had to be careful not to get caught in the grooves left by the snow plow. I didn't have a lot of power so parts of the ride seemed more of a struggle than it should have been normally.

Sunday I took one of the dogs to the bark park to let him run and then the rest of the day I pretty much vegetated. I had planned on putting up Christmas decorations but that didn't happen. We also had made the decision the day before to stay home from Sandy's work party due to the way I was feeling. Probably a good choice.

Although feeling better yesterday, I skipped the weight room training to give my body one more day off. We did a little shopping after dinner and we thought we may end up in a crowd of other shoppers. I was surprised to find the parking lot only partially filled and the store itself not crowded.

I don't recall ever shopping this late into the season where you didn't have to hunt for a parking spot or fight your way through the shoppers rummaging through the items on sale. It is definitely a sign of the economic times in the Detroit area. People are either delaying purchases or not buying as much, and not spending as much time in the stores. But if you have the money to spend the deals out there right now are tremendous.

I hope to ease back into training today and be ready to ride (and ski) through the holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vintage MX Racing

My early facination of two wheel racing was with all things motorcycles. Like a lot of kids in the late 60's and early 70's I started out on a mini-bike and later graduated to a regular motorcycle dirt bike. We were fortunate to live out in the country on enough property that I could build my own MX track.

I did some racing, mainly hare scrambles, on such great bikes as the Hodaka Super Rat and later a Can-Am 175. I moved on to Pentons and other bikes that were great in their time but sadly the brands are no longer with us.

I ran across a web article about vintage MX and it had some pictures of racers I remember idolizing and watching race when they came to town for the Trans AMA races.

In the article was a link to the video below that honors many of the racers no longer around. I think I knew who 90% of those featured were. Sad that they are gone but it's nice to see them remembered.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cannondale Factory Racing

I got a call this afternoon from Matt Jewett, the team manager for the Cannondale mountain bike racing team. I had heard that Sobe was not renewing their sponsorship for 2009 and that Cannondale was shrinking their team but combining it with the international team under the Cannondale Factory Racing banner.

I had been waiting for the call to say that I would not be selected for the new team. With today's economic conditions I would have been surprised if they had a team at all. In fact other bike manufacturer's had recently announced they would not be having their teams again in 2009. I was totally floored when Matt asked me if I would be interesting in racing again for Cannondale and the new team! So now it's back to the grindstone and getting ready for 2009. I'm just not sure which races I'm going to do.

Here is a press release recently posted on the Cannondale web site about the CFR team.


Cannondale unveiled today a plan to support an all-new Cannondale Factory Race (CFR) Team this year. The revamped role is combined with a fresh new look, designed to maximize Cannondale’s position as a global leader in cycling. The team’s roster includes superstars on the World Cup circuit, but also expands into the North American racing scene for a truly worldwide presence.

The new team will field an impressive roster of riders. In Europe, World Cup veterans Roel Paulissen, Martin Gujan, and Marco Aurelio Fontana lead the team. In America, CFR is merging with the former SoBe-Cannondale team, which means that racing legends like Gunnar Shogren and Matthew Lee along with several dozen more riders will round out the roster, racing in regional events.

"An opportunity presented itself to combine the efforts of the best athletes racing on both sides of the Atlantic," said Rory Mason, director of sports marketing for Cannondale. "It really gives us a voice at a wide variety of races, from local fat tire festivals to UCI podiums."

Changes in the existing team structures made the merger possible. SoBe notified Cannondale earlier this month that it would not continue as a Cannondale team sponsor.

"We’ve had an excellent working relationship with SoBe and enjoyed many successes after their return to the team this past year, " says Matt Jewett, Inside Sales Director and Promotions Manager for Cannondale. "The upside is that all the best traditions of the team can live on. These riders have continuously been the best ambassadors for the sport of cycling and active lifestyles as a whole. Now they have a global platform on which to carry this 10-year heritage."
Although the teams combine forces, most of the racing operations for Cannondale will remain largely unchanged, including the teams’ co-sponsors.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The BEST Day One

Isabel Grace Kinley was born this morning and both she and Emily are doing fine. The story of the birth is remarkable and we are truly blessed.

Jason and Emily had planned to have the birth take place in a birthing tub, similar to how Oliver was born. But this time it would take place at their house using a midwife instead of using a birthing center. To be honest, I was somewhat concerned but they were excited and well prepared. Two of their friends from Montana were staying with them to help out.

Emily had been having contractions earlier in the week but they stopped. Early this morning they started again and this time she could tell the baby was on the way. Jason began to make preparations for the arrival but it became evident the baby was coming rather quickly.

Jason began to get things ready but there was no time to fill the birthing tub. The midwife was on her way when things began to really speed up. Emily lay on the floor where she was most comfortable. With the midwife about two minutes from the house and Jason on the phone talking to her, the baby was born using the most natural method there is. Emily simply reached down as the baby emerged to help bring Isabel into the world. The cord was cut later after the midwife arrived.

In talking with Emily you would have thought it was the most natural thing to give birth basically on your own. She sounded in better shape than after she had given birth to Oliver. I'm not so sure about Jason.

We plan on visiting them in January and look forward to seeing all of them. This is the first great grand-daughter so I'm sure she will be extra spoiled.

We celebrated the news with our first cross country ski outing of the season today. We were going to head up north yesterday but the snow coming down made us refrain from getting out on the roads. Instead I rode for two hours in the snow. The trails are getting too deep to ride so I also went out on the back roads where the ice under the snow plus low visibility made the riding a little tricky. I got out for an hour again today before going skiing. This time I used studded tires and the riding was much better.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Day One

I forgot to write in my last update that Monday also was day one for the off season training. Since I am going to skip the last cyclocross race of the season I started back with my weight training and fairly structured ride schedule.

While I have been in the gym two days a week during most of the year, ever since March the gym workouts have been mostly to maintain upper body fitness. From December through March I add the legs into the routine. I can feel the effects from the first legs workout; it takes a little time to get the muscles working in that fashion again.

The bike workouts will be based on using wattage and now that I have a used a PowerMeter for a year I can estimate total workout efforts when I'm on a different bike. That will help when looking at total effort expended and recovery over a period of time.

The one thing I'm not sure of is what my race schedule will be for 2009. Just like Christmas, I have a wish list of races I would like to do. But I think I will be cutting back on the out of state and most expensive races given the current economic conditions. It does make it harder to plan a training schedule though.

Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to post another day one story. This time for the announcement of the birth of our second grandchild. Emily was due yesterday so it should be anytime now. We are thinking of them all the time and offering up our hopes and prayers that all goes well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Day One

Instead of driving west to Washington, this morning I pointed the car south and made the nine mile trip in to Chrysler. Everyone was not sure quite what to expect today. Overall the day was uneventful as we pieced together who was left, who would be responsible for what over the next month or two, and how we would continue to function. It was also very quiet as there were a couple thousand less people walking around. But that will probably change as they consolidate employees from other locations.

It sort of reminded me of Y2K; everyone was worried that the company would collapse but as far as I know we still made cars today. The difference will be over the coming weeks and months as problems start to emerge that would have been easily solved in the past by those who have now left the company.

I'll admit that it was pretty tempting to turn in my papers (again) last Wednesday and walk out the door for the last time. But I feel I have made the right decision for as long as the company survives.

Over the holiday weekend I finally got back on the bike for the Turkey Roll ride at Pontiac Lake. There was a couple of inches of snow on the ground at the start but it pretty much got packed down by the 80 or so riders that showed up. I ended up doing another lap as most only did one.

Staying around means that I can continue to work on putting on races at Lake Orion High School. The winter race is scheduled for January 31. Hopefully this year there will not be quite as much snow.