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Tag: NaBloPoMo 2013 Page 1 of 3

what’s with the sinuses?

It decided to sneak up on the Turkey Ridge house with sudden fury.

A sniffle. A sore throat. A feeling of being just… “off.”

And thus begins another bout with sinusitis. This one has some aches as well, likely due to my skiing yesterday (first day on slopes always reveals the weak spots in the physique). Oh well. This too shall pass…

Sniffle. Ugh.

Until then: how was everybody’s Thanksgiving? How was the weekend for my non-celebratory friends? Talk about it in the comments!

today’s adventure: strap ’em on!

First day of skiing for the 2013-14 season is in the books.

It was a great day to ski in Vermont: cold, dry, sunny, calm wind, and no crowds for the first two hours.

I actually took 17 runs - a bug in the software, tho the other data is OK.

I actually took 4 17 runs – a bug in the software, tho the other data is OK.

This was my first time using Ski Tracks, a smartphone app that tracks ski data. It separates uphill data from the descents, which is really cool. It’s not without problems, though. When I paused the app for lunch, it lost count of my total runs – or at least reset the run count. I had 8 11 runs before lunch, 6 after. It did retain the rest of my data, though, so… a bug.

My runs and lift rides at Okemo, in nifty map-track format!

My runs and lift rides at Okemo, in nifty map-track format!

It was nice to get some time on skis before my coaching gig starts in two weeks.

friday was more red to me

I didn’t plan on spending any money at any Black Friday sales today.

Turns out I couldn’t if I’d wanted.

Y’see, sometime earlier this week (possibly during the drive north), my debit card’s number was “skimmed.” As such, the person who got my info started to run up some major withdrawals of cash and attempted to make a few travel reservations using my money.

Fortunately, Visa noticed that something was up and suspended my card. However, it was only via trying to buy something online last night that I noticed something awry with my debit card. I logged into my credit union’s website and found the bogus transactions, then quickly called Visa.

Visa has now filed a report with my credit union – all good in that respect, and they were courteous, empathetic, and professional late on Thanksgiving night.

However: I’m up north for the long weekend and now have zero access to my money. I don’t bring my checkbook with me on out-of-town trips (they’re useless once you leave DC, at least to most retailers), and usually count on my credit union to have things in order.

Granted, this credit union has let me down in the past. They never notify me, proactively, when something like this happens. They have left me high-and-dry overseas. And when I last had my number skimmed, they treated me as if I was lying about the whole affair. It took me over two weeks to get my money back into my account, and almost a week to get a new debit card.

Today, the credit union was closed (as was everything at my workplace – the CU is run by my employer), so on Monday I’ll be filling out a lot of paperwork and hoping that they expedite my case.

Regardless, I’m going to leave this credit union soon. The headaches I go through when things go wrong – combined with the overall sense of non-sympathy from the CU staff – has gone on long enough. Any DC-area readers have tips on a credit union without enrollment restrictions?

Meanwhile, I have borrowed money for the rest of the trip. It isn’t ideal, but it allows me to carry on with the weekend’s plans.

An aside, but apropos to this story: when will U.S. banks finally get onto the EMV (i.e. “Chip & PIN”) bandwagon? The EU and Canada both use this system, and it has cut down on this kind of fraud for years. “Chip & signature” won’t cut it (yes, I’m looking at you, Chase and AmEx) – we need the real McCoy.


Thanksgiving Day is one of those strange U.S. holidays. It’s a day of being thankful via… gorging on food? Well, sort of.

Thanksgiving is all about being appreciative of the things you have in life. With that, here are a few that I single out today:

Thank you to my cycling friends. You’ve seen me at my best and my worst, and all the while you have kept riding with me. I appreciate the camaraderie, the challenges you give me when you ride a little faster and harder, the sense of humor when things go awry on the road, and the mutual love of the bike. Whether folks I ride with regularly, or folks for whom cycling advocacy is a calling, I relish the opportunity to call you friends.

Thank you to my skiing friends. You love to share the bounty: the powder stashes, the best lines through the bumps, the beers and toddies after the day is done. I try to return the favor, in kind. Skiing has taken me many places and introduced me to wonderful people, worldwide. And special thanks to Liberty Mountain Race Team for allowing me to give back to a future generation of ski racers.

Thank you to my DC friends who have been in my life for over a decade. You guys rock, and keep DC sufficiently interesting (and weird) when I start to feel ho-hum.

Thank you to the DC government for providing ample material for discussion, commentary, criticism, and laugh-out-loud humor (whether intentional or simply situational).

Thank you to coffee houses, far and wide, big and small, for caffeinating my life.

Thank you to beer brewers, especially the DC and Utah ones, for providing hoppy goodness that is seldom boring.

Thank you to Absolute Radio, NPR’s “All Songs Considered,” Stereogum, various “MP3 of the Day” feeds, and other outlets for keeping me up-to-speed on great music that I otherwise wouldn’t hear.

Thank you to my cats – Posey, Jeremiah, and Corey – for bringing your love and mischief into my house and life.

Thank you to my family. They provide challenges, it’s true, but they also provide unconditional love and support.

Thank you to sprite: my love and partner in adventures, big and small.

And thank you to all of you reading this (even the NSA… sorta).

what a difference a week makes

Fall foliage’s fleeting foray into our lives is worth capturing.

And you need to be quick, because from one week (17 November)…

to another (24 November)…

things can, and do, change.

a little more doctoring

As I said yesterday, “Day of The Doctor” was a brilliant episode for Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary.

But this mockumentary, showing what some of the “classic” Doctors would do to appear in “Day of The Doctor,” is just as brilliant. Written and directed by Peter Davison – i.e. The Fifth Doctor – it is a fun romp with enough awesome cameos to make any fan giggle with joy.

Enjoy while it’s still on BBC iPayer (non-restricted):

Also good to watch (especially good if you haven’t seen “Day of The Doctor” just yet) is the web-only short, “Night of The Doctor,” starring Paul McGann (The Eighth Doctor whose demise wasn’t completely explained in the 2005 reboot):

Another short film that serves as a setup to “Day of The Doctor” is “The Last Day,” a POV record of a Gallifreyan soldier in training:


ooo-EEE-oooo – yesssss…..

Maybe that post title is a little odd, but… well…

I totally loved the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, “The Day of The Doctor.”

Did it have David Tennant? Yup.

Billie Piper? Yup.

A fez? Indeed.

Nods to the past? Affirmative.

Other fun stuff? Yes!

sprite and I saw it on the big screen, in the theatre, and it was great! Granted, it was extremely tough to avoid spoilers, as I have a lot of friends who are big fans of The Doctor. I managed to avoid ’em (whew!), and the thrill ride was grand.

I did see the web-only shorts, “The Night of The Doctor” (a direct setup for the show I saw tonight), and “The Five(ish) Doctors,” a mockumentary with enough Doctors and co-conspirators to provide tons of entertainment value. Both are available online, from the BBC, and worth viewing.

what is the worth of a life (two wheeled version)?

In the past week, the greater DC area cycling community has been rightfully angry at the outcome of a grand jury ruling about the death of a local rider on a road many of us ride with some frequency. The jury found the appropriate penalty for killing a cyclist to be four moving violation tickets the put some points on the driver’s license and fine the driver a few thousand dollars.

A few thousand dollars? That’s the worth of the life of a cyclist?

Apparently it is if you choose to ride in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

This hits me hard and rubs me the wrong way on many fronts. I won’t go into the political machinations that may have motivated the outcome of the Maryland case, but this is a situation that could just as easily happened to me or a friend, so commonly used is the road where the tragedy occurred. A driver, making an unsafe, illegal pass on a hilly, blind curve, merges into a cyclist who is riding within the letter of the law – and yet the driver comes out “winning” in this instance.

The law failed the cyclist and her family – and all other cyclists – in this case.

I have had friends severely hurt – and even killed – by motorists while out riding their bikes. A high school friend, one who worked hard to become a medical doctor, was riding with his usual training group on October 1, 2010, when the group was hit by a driver while on the road in South Carolina. My friend, Matt, suffered the worst injury: severe head trauma that had him in a coma, on life support for 128 days until he died in Feburary, 2011.

In this case, the driver was charged with reckless homicide upon Matt’s death, and eventually was convicted with felony manslaughter for his crime. Peter Wilborn, the lawyer who represented the Burke family during the trial, made the following comment following the driver’s manslaughter conviction:

“Matt Burke’s legacy is that drivers can and should be treated as criminals for killing cyclists. Throughout the country, cycling deaths are regularly dismissed by law enforcement as mere traffic ‘accidents./ But often they are not accidental, the needless fatalities are tragic consequences of reckless driving and lawless drivers. The driver’s felony conviction here proves to police, policymakers, and drivers to take cycling safety seriously. This case from South Carolina is an example of how to do it right.”

The thing that really has me shaken about this is that I knew the victim. We used to ride our mountain bikes around the foothills of Salt Lake City when we were teenagers. The years had us drift apart, in our own life paths. In fact, when Matt died I read of his story but never pieced together the fact that he was the Matt Burke I called a friend and riding companion all those years ago.

And this past week, a friend I met here in DC back in my political days was hit by a motorist while riding his bike to work in the San Francisco Bay area. He suffered incredible injuries, including severe head trauma. He’s currently in a medically-induced coma, with brain swelling that seems to now be under control. However, it’s hard to say what lies ahead for him, his wife, and their young daughter. I know that my friend and his wife are incredibly strong, smart people, and to see this kind of tragedy happen to them tears me apart inside. They are in my thoughts every day, and I’m wishing them the best.

As a cyclist, I know I’m vulnerable. I share the road with multi-ton contraptions that pose a threat whenever they are in motion (and even when they are not). And as vigilant as I am about monitoring my surroundings, as bold as I am to take the middle of the lane if it is the safest way to get where I need to go, as mindful I am to ride within the letter of the law, as willing I am to call out poor behavior by fellow road users (cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, the lot), I know that I am always one wrong move from harm. And that wrong move is as likely to be from my fellow road users as from me.

There has to be a solution, a reasonable way to get motorists to realize that cyclists belong. Advocacy is not easy, and seeing setbacks in the law makes the work toward equity that much harder.

So what is the worth of a life? Hopefully, it’s worth revisiting the failings of juries, politics, politicians, and other influential entities, with the goal of making things better for future road users. It’s tough to put a price on, but it’s certainly worth more than a handful of traffic tickets.

transitions (or trading shoes for boots)

This morning, I woke up and brewed coffee. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and toasted an English muffin. I then donned my cycling togs (longer layers, as it’s chilly outside, with wind in the forecast), packed a bag, topped off the bike’s tires, lubed the chain, loaded up the car, drove to Bowie to meet my friends.

In other words: it was a typical Saturday morning.

We rolled out from Allen Pond Park: Jonathan, Chris, Mark, Ed, and me. Our plan was to ride a smooth, off-season pace, no county line sprints, on a route that gently rolled down to Chesapeake Bay and back. The sky was streaked with cirrus and cirrostratus clouds, with a cool breeze from the northwest – it was a perfect day to ride.

As we rode, the conversation was fun, and everybody seemed to be in a fine mood. Our bikes all wheeled along quietly. We passed farms with horses, cattle, sheep, and weary farmers. One pasture had a girl flying a kite.

 Girl flying a kite

The halfway point was Sweet Sue’s, our usual break spot. The hot drinks were just so-so (the folks behind the counter just couldn’t pull a quality espresso shot), but the baked goods were up to their usual yummy standard.

Rolling north along the Chesapeake, we were spared the bad wind, and treated to myriad lovely views. The wind that was there was increasingly chilly, and the cloud cover became thicker the closer we got to our cars.


After we were done riding, I went by the local ski shop to pick up my new skis and old boots so I’ll be ready for my coaching duties, which should be starting in mid December (though I hope to ski next weekend while up north for the holiday). The excitement that coursed through my body and mind when I took hold of the new skis for the first time was infectious.


And tonight, there were snow flurries in DC. I went outside, giggled with glee, and danced a little dance of joy (not to worry, DC snow paranoids: it didn’t stick).

sprite in the snow
The transition from my summer sporting love to my winter sporting love is in motion – and today’s transition between the two worlds made it very clear to me. While the cycling shoes won’t be totally hung up for the winter – I’ll still ride a bit, and my bike commute won’t go away – my boots are going to be the go-to footwear for fun when the snow flies.

Winter is coming, and I’m prepared – and elated.

i’ve got nothing

Really. Nothing.

Sure, I’ve been talking about plenty of things today and tonight. But writing now? Nope.

Perhaps I’ll be more verbose and profound tomorrow.

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