Sunday, January 25, 2009

A week out west

I just got back from spending a week out west in Spokane. Sandy and I flew out to see our new granddaughter born on December 7th. She is about the same age as our grandson Oliver when we first got to see him. It was a great trip but too short, at least Sandy gets to stay out for another week and a half.

While out there we mostly stayed around the house to maximize our time with the kids and family but Sandy and I did go XC skiing up at Mt. Spokane. The groomed trails were great, although a little icy. The trails were fun and offered a lot more elevation change than you get around here. Plus the scenery was outstanding. Sandy was a little concerned about the possible challenges of the hills but she surprised herself with the way she skied.

We also got to see Jason play a rec league hockey game and his team won in a shoot out. Jason played well for someone new to the game. We weren't surprised though when got to sent to the penalty box. He refused to be bullied by the other team and stood his ground. At least the other guy got a penalty as well.

In addition to the great meals cooked by both of the wives we also went out to dinner with the family. Oliver was a hit in the restaurant and played to the other tables, especially if the tables had women at it.

Jason and I played basketball against one of his gym classes and we old guys schooled the younger kids, even as we played five on three to give them more of an advantage. But the kids probably weren't hurting like we were the next few days. Jason managed to twist his ankle and one of the kids came down on my foot, causing it to swell up and turn purple in spots. It almost prevented me from going skiing.

The family seems to be doing well and the priests and nuns have taken a liking to them as well. They would often stop by for a short visit or we invited them over for desert.

So now it's back to a strangely quiet house and work tomorrow. The video chats will help to ease the separation but it definitely won't take the place of being there.

You can see more photos of the visit here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Great day to be outside

Sandy and Oliver - the hat is made of wool and very warm.

Riding outside was not in the picture today due to the 5" of snow we received overnight. Nice and fluffy but more than I wanted to deal with, especially since the back roads have not been plowed yet. We were lucky? to not get as much as those south of us.

The early morning fog and cold temps lefts a coating of frost on everything that didn't have snow on it so I convinced Sandy to accompany me on a hike around the local trails this morning. We took our most energetic dog that loves to be outside and stays close by while off the leash. The dog is a bundle of energy and usually aggravates the other two so I'm sure they are glad for some peace and quiet.

Later today I'll get on the trainer to ride off some of the ribs I cooked on the grill. We barely put a dent in the slabs so it's probably leftovers for the next day or two.

Oliver in his normal "happy dog" pose and in his professional look.

Even the roadies do it

An article on the Cannondale web site talks about Ivan Basso getting in some training time in the snow. Of course after the pictures were taken he was jetting off to someplace warmer to continue training.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Back at work or, "Life on the sinking USS Chrysler"

I borrowed the title of today's blog header from an article that appeared in today's Freep. It seemed a pretty realistic view of what we are facing, and I imagine to some extent the employees at GM as well. But probably not to the degree of Chrysler.

We are trying to stay positive about the future of the company. I am involved with our two new engine plants that will be producing engines later this year. But a lot of other new development has been halted and one of the system projects I have been working on has gotten slowed down when funding for our contractors working on it got pulled at the end of last year.

I think half of our time is spent scanning the news for updates of what is happening. But there are so many theories, opinions, etc., that there is probably an "expert" opinion to support whatever you want. And a lot of the predictions made for last year never came to pass. So we move on, each worker hoping for the best but half expecting the worst.

Out west Jason and Emily have had record snowfall last month and now the warm temperatures and rain are causing flooding problems for the area. They don't seem to have the problems that folks farther west in the state are experiencing. The have had some minor water coming in from melting snow but that is it.

The web cam is working great and Oliver gets excited whenever he sees us on the screen. He loves to wave and have us wave back. If I can capture some of the calls on video I will post them.

In the meantime I have been riding outside a lot as the limited snowfall since Christmas has kept the trails in good shape to ride. A predicted snow storm for tomorrow may change that as they are saying 5-8" of snow by Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

I started the year off right with a great ride outside. I rode a couple of the local trails as well as the back roads. The snow covered roads softened the potholes while providing traction over the remaining ice spots. But it could still be slippery in spots as I discovered when my front end slid out while making a turn onto a road. The snow simply slid out. It was sort of a low speed event but I felt like one of those guys playing football that they show in slow motion as his leg gets twisted at an odd angle.

Today's ride was on my SS and other than it already had the bigger tires mounted I really didn't have a particular reason to choose it. But while riding I thought that it was an appropriate bike as it represents a simpler, less complex riding style. As the new year starts out I think we, as well as a lot of folks, will also be trying to simplify and cut back on some of the things we do. I may even take on one of the 100's on a SS, just from a personal challenge and to do something different.

The photo below is from today's dinner. Sandy surprised us with a package of crabs the other day. We are all fans of the Discovery show, Deadliest Catch. These crabs are from one of the boats that has appeared on the show. If you get a chance to watch the show sometime it is amazing the conditions these guys work in. I think we will appreciate the crab even more after having seen the shows.