Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Bike Parking at Work

Last year I had to complete a few phone calls to remind the nice people on the grounds staff that it was unacceptable for my parking space to be so buried that I couldn't even see the rack. Their solution was acceptable: They came by with a bobcat and at least got it to the point where I could lock up.

This year I made a single phone call, catching their voice mail. I was very kind in stating that it would be nice if they could cut out at least a couple spots in the bike rack as I commute all winter and I'm sure that building maintenance staff probably doesn't appreciate me bringing my bike inside, making a mess as the snow and crud melts off it.

Return voice mail message: "I apologize for it not being cleaned off as of yet and I'll put it on a higher priority for upcoming snowfalls. We will have it cleared of later today or early tomorrow."

It's good to be the king.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Commuting

I managed to survive until this weekend to put on the studded tires. The strange part of waiting until the last possible second to put them on is the fact that I actually enjoy winter commuting. I know, I know...WHY?!?!?! Allow me to explain a few reasons:

1. Crisp clean air. There is something about the air, cold as it may be, in the winter verses other times of the year. If you can find a side street with little traffic, the air seems so pure in the Winter. Of course, I'm speaking from a rural South Dakota perspective. On the other hand, I have also noticed that I can tell when a car that has a smoker in it goes by, even with the windows up. Car exhaust also seems stronger if you get behind a vehicle with nasty exhaust. I'm not sure what causes the senses to be so heightened in the cold, but it's definitely a wonderful experience. Thankfully my route is usually car free, so I get a much more enjoyable crisp air experience.

2. The sound of the studded tires on a quiet snow packed street. There is simply no describing this one. You just have to experience it.

3. No "warming up" of my vehicle. Contrary to my failed attempts at talking my kids into "warming up" my bike, I don't need to plan my morning around what time I need to start the vehicle to have it warm enough for when leave for work. Gear up and go!

Even after all these years of commuting, I still get some pretty strange looks on a day like today when the temperature starts below zero. It's really not as bad as people think. The right equipment/gear on plowed streets, and winter commuting is a breeze. A calm winter day like today is actually one of my favorite commuting days. What's stopping you from commuting during the winter?

Author's note: I'm not crazy. I have a psychiatrists full analysis stating so.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My Record is in Danger

**Note, I started this about a month ago. I'm REALLY trying to get better about blogging!!

No, my consecutive number of days riding my bicycle to work is not in danger. What is in danger is the number of times that stitches have been received. With new technology, it's only fair that I add "gluing" and "staples" as well.

I truly believe that Carson was born just so I could have a child that reminds me of....well....ME at each age. It really frustrates me to no end too. I'd like to take a moment and say: "I'm really sorry Mom and Dad for being this naughty." I am pretty sure that Dad helped in the creation process of Carson. He's up there nudging God saying "Why don't you make him JUST like Kevin was at that age". I can even hear his mouth-full-of-Copenhagen giggle as he says it. Good one Dad.

Let's set this up on a case by case basis:

Kevin - Accident 1 - First Stitches: 5 years old. Two layers on the chin hitting the side of the pool going off the diving board. Unsure of the total number, but was in the 14-20 range.

Carson - Accident 1 - First Gluing: 1 year old. Marissa, who would have been six at the time, was trying to help her brother out of the crib, lost her balance and accidentally hit Carson's head on the edge of a table. Ever pay $1000 for a tube of glue? We have.

Kevin - Accident 2 - Second Stitches: ~7 years old. Hit in the head by a tractor loader by brother's friends. Wish I had a fancy story on this one, but I'm sure the visual is plenty clear on this one. A loader was flipped up from the down position clipping me on the head.

Carson - Accident 2 - First Staples: 4 years old. A friend of our oldest son was holding the screen door open for Carson and he came up the stairs not paying attention, with his head down and ran into the side of the door with his head.

Kevin - Accident 3: ~ 8 years old. Slipped on ice and fell into the wall of the Post Office. Told Mom later that I was feeling warm and she told me take my hat off, which was half full of blood. Off to Viborg Memorial Hospital once again.

Carson - Accident 3 - Glue #2: 4 years old. About a month after the staples, Carson was "swinging" between the table and a wall at Taco Johns and lost his balance and split his chin open on the table.

Kevin - Accident 4 - Stitches: ~11 years old. At good old Wakonda School we had monkey bars with 4x4's in between the height changes. I was getting really good at hanging upside down and sitting back up. Then I figured out that I could do a complete rotation by keeping my knees tight and falling backwards. I was getting very good at it...until that one fateful time when I got a little sideways and drilled the back of my head on the edge of the 4x4's. The teachers were freaking out because of the amount of blood. At this point I calmly told them I was fine and to call Mom because I probably needed stitches.

Carson - Accident 4 - Stitches #1: 7 years old. Going down the tube slide at the school was much faster on his backpack, according to Carson. So before school, he managed to somehow flip over on his side on the way down with his backpack and slammed his head into the tube of the slide. Best part of this story is that Carson didn't cry. He went into class with his hood up. The teacher asked him to lower his hood and he did. She noticed his eye was red and told him to go down to the school nurse and get an ice pack, which he did. When he was done with the ice pack he asked to take it back. The teacher informed Carson to tell the nurse "Thank you for getting him the ice pack" to which Carson said "Oh, I got it myself because she was busy". That alone is a pretty telling tale of my son--how many 2nd graders, in a new school--already know where the ice packs are?!?!? The teacher took a closer look at his eye, walked him to the nurse and subsequently Laura was called to pick him up for his trip to the doctor.

Kevin - Accident 5 - stitches: age 20-something - I was playing noon basketball at the armory. When I tried to knock the ball out of Ken Havner's hands from behind, he spun around and we smacked noggins. After kicking the ground in pain for a few seconds, I knew I was in trouble as the blood was just pouring out from my eye brow area. Drove myself to the doctors office for stitches. Later in the day found out that Ken ended up in the hospital for a CAT scan as he wasn't sure of where he was at. Pretty solid smack indeed.

Carson - Accident 5 - Stitches #2: approximately 3 weeks after stitches #1. A day off from school and even though we were going to send Carson to a friends house, Marissa wanted to babysit Carson. Marissa decided to it would be fun to whittle wood with a rather sharp kitchen knife. I really don't need to tell you the rest of the story, do I? I received the call early in the afternoon: Carson cut his hand and it is bleeding pretty bad. After visiting the neighbors, they called and said that he probably needs to go in. Three more stitches.

Kevin - Accident 6 - Stitches #6:
Somewhere in my later 20's - Playing softball I hit one to the left side of the infield and the throw was bobbled by the first baseman. When he finally got control of the ball, he was straddling the line and we ran into each other hard. Unfortunately, he was much taller and bigger than I. My sunglasses broke above and below my eye and I was duly stitched in both areas.

Kevin - Accident 7 - Stitches #7: 40 years old. Working on a bicycle, my hand slipped and I punctured it on the big ring of my mountain bike. It was extremely deep (and I thought fun to pull apart to "look inside") but I had to get three more stitches.

This year I had stitches for a mole removal, but in the spirit of an "accident only" record, I'm throwing that one out of the running.

So at this point, Carson is only two short accidents away from tying a record that has taken me over 40 years to accumulate. I'm competitive and don't like to lose. Should the day come that Carson ties or breaks my record, I'll feel the need to injure myself in a spectacular way. How should I do it? I need some input. Bicycle related ideas will receive special consideration.