Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Massive Downpours are an awful way to Hydrate on your Workout but Wet Season Waits for Nobody.

I really should know better.
It is the Wet Season here.
I feel like a drowned rat.
My Jeep looks like a drowned rat.
The bike is clean at least.

It was raining South of the airport.  We never even got a "Duck and Cover" alert on the weather radio.

I am (usually) very good at predicting weather here.  See the storm.  Plot the vector it moves on.  Add a little bit of "error" to the vector.  Live your life.

I went to the park.  It's an 8 mile drive.  Long enough to be an annoyance but not too far really.  I prefer to bike at Pompano Airpark simply because it's not exposed to traffic.  I used to inline skate there but after breaking one, then the other clavicle, I won't go back for that.

Groom your damn trails and don't obstruct them.

I got there and looked up at a cloud deck rolling in.  Heard thunder.  Checked Radar again.  Still not a problem.  I thought we'd get "clipped" and I could avoid it by doing the park backwards.

I park at the southeast corner of a big square, so I thought go North, then West.

I stopped at halfway and realized my heart monitor was at half speed.  Take the thing off, allow it to reset and sync itself with my heart.  I'm feeling the wind pick up, then go into hyper speed.

When I saw Dorothy's house fly overhead I knew it was a problem.

Heart rate monitor synced, I got back on the bike.

Riding about the length of the house, about 50 feet, I hit the rain.


Or rather it hit me.

Grey out conditions.  My speed was down due to weather and winds already, so having it drop into single digits (First MPH, then the other KPH) was not a surprise.

I used to ride a motorcycle.   Once in my stupid-twenties I rode a motorcycle across Pennsylvania and Ohio to visit a friend in Ann Arbor Michigan.  In the rain across Ohio to Toledo.  When you ride at highway speeds, rain feels like someone is throwing gravel at you.  It can be painful.

This was like that.

I think it was a "Microburst" storm because, even as big as I am, I nearly got knocked off the bike.

By the time I got to the turn at the last mile, my shoe was full of water.  I don't mean wet, I mean as full as a coffee mug before the first sip.

The pickup truck flying through the rain had a mean streak in him.  He sprayed so much water at me, that I was forced into a wobble and nearly fell on the way back.

Getting back to the Jeep, I mounted the bike on the back of the car and laughed at myself.

I'm used to getting caught in The Weather.  Heat, sometimes a shower, sometimes conditions catch you and you end up having a bit of a "Challenge" getting where you want to go.

I took off my saturated cycle jersey and rang all that water out.  Thrown onto the car mat on the passenger side, I started unloading the bike into the car.  The bike bag that sits on the upper bar was completely dry inside, I was pleased at that.  A clip fell off of the bike that held a cable in place.  No worries there, I was waiting on a shipment of black zip ties to replace them anyway.

I texted my loved ones that I am coming home and started the car.  There was a puddle inside the car that was draining into the carpets.  It is Florida, I can just leave it in the sun and hope it dries.

Naw, it rained when I got home and off and on that whole afternoon.  No sun today.  I'll put the Jeep in the sun tomorrow morning.

I think it's that park.  I have two sports that I do, and I am outside a lot.  Inline Skating and Cycling.  A Normal Workout is more than two hours for me. Just not today.

Today I came home and dried off.

So?  How was your workout?  Got your hydration levels right?

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Why don't scientists trust atoms? Because they make up everything!

 While this is one for the ladies (I hope) I liked it simply because I just came in after checking the brake fluid levels in my clutch reservoir.

It was fine, and the Jeep will roll for another day.

May your day have as many points as this guy!

A change of careers

A gynecologist was bored with his job and decided he wanted a new career.
He went back to college and decided to become a mechanic.
After aching most of his courses, he found himself at the final exam.
For his final exam, he has to rebuild an engine and reinstall it in the car.
He completed the task, and turned it in to the teacher.
A week later he checked the status to see what grade he got on the test, a possible 100 points.
To his amazement, the teacher gave him 500 points for his final.
He thought it was a typo and contacted the teacher for clarification.
The teacher assured him the test was graded correctly.
How can this be he asked?
The teacher replied "you rebuilt the engine paint attention to all torque specs and clearances perfectly".
For this I have you 100 points.
You got 400 points extra credit for doing it all through the tailpipe.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Why did everyone complain about the country of Iceland? It wasn't actually Chile!

 Today I have an errand.  Then I have to start canning some Mango Jam.  Should keep me busy and honest.  You know, all that Inner Peace stuff?

Inner Peace

If you can start the day without caffeine,

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without alcohol,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

And you thought I was going to get all spiritual ...

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

No matter the sport, water stops are more important than you think.

I guess that summer is here in South Florida.  Some say it never really ends.  The weather looks nice, the trails are beautiful.  There are others out there giving you encouragement, telling you what you're doing right, maybe a warning of conditions ahead.

It was a great day for a workout, right?

So here's the deal - wherever you are, whatever you are doing, bring extra water.

I am a seasoned athlete.  This episode aside, I am used to 3 plus hour workouts at a very high heart rate.  None of this "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" nonsense, I do it.  This was an inline skate workout, a sport where I can do a marathon and not really think twice about it.  VO2 Max for 75% of the time according to the sport watch.

So what did I do wrong?  I forgot to pause and drink water frequently enough. 

No excuses.  What you did in winter when the temperatures are lower does not fly now that you're progressing into summer.  OK, maybe not below the equator, just save this for November if you're in Buenos Aires, Jo-Burg, or Brisbane.

But here in a state named for flowers whose nick name is The Sunshine State, that sun finally caught me.

The specifics are simple.  When I train, it is for an hour and a water stop.  Then repeat until I start thinking that I'll be missed at home.  At least two hours, maybe three or four. 

That works in winter, but in summer?  Naw, fam, change your training!

This is the kind of "rookie mistake" I thought I had gotten past but well I'm stubborn.  I was really enjoying bombing the trails yesterday, just like the bike workout before that on the weekend, and the inline skate workout the week before. 

I switch the two workouts back and forth and I'm finding my own intensity is increasing on both sports.  Cross Training is working better for me than when I was skating 100 miles a week in Philly.

On my bike I carry two thermos of ice water.  It's a shorter workout so I don't need as much.  Or so I tell myself.

On the skates I have those same two insulated water bottles in the Jeep, plus two pint/half liter bottles of ice that melt down to give "cool" water.

None of that is any good if you don't drink the blasted stuff, right?

So go out and Run.
Go out and Bike, Skate, Play Tennis, Pickleball, Whatever Floats your Boat!
I don't know how that works with swimmers, but you do you!

But for the love of your health, don't be like me.  Stop for water frequently.  Your dog will drink when he or she needs it.  People, not so good at it.  You need more than you think you do.

I did the Pinch Test after the workout and the skin on the back of my hand did not rebound.  That was lunch time.  By dinner it was beginning to.  I am at 20 hours past that and it's still taking more time than it should. 

That 2kg, 4 pound weight loss I had this morning?  Dehydration.

My fault.  Now I'm going to have another mug and wander off to do something else.  You?  Probably should have a glass of something not alcoholic.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Parallel lines have so much in common. It's a shame they will never meet.

For years I had to ride various trains in and out of Center City Philadelphia.  Yes, they do capitalize it that way there.  But orthography aside, it generally was better than being on a bus.  Especially when the trains were not running.  Much fewer ads on the trains back then.  I'm told things have changed fairly drastically and they're just weird. 

Like this situation here. 

On the bus

A lady about 8 months pregnant got on a bus. She noticed the man opposite her was smiling at her. She immediately moved to another seat. This time the smile turned into a grin, so she moved again. He seemed more amused. When on the fourth move, the man burst out laughing, she complained to the driver and he had the man arrested.

The case came up in court. The Judge asked the man (about 20 years old) what he had to say for himself.

The man replied... "Well your Honor, it was like this: When the lady got on the bus, I couldn't help but notice her condition. She sat under a sweets sign that said, "The Double Mint Twins are Coming" and I grinned.

Then she moved and sat under a sign that said "Logan's Liniment will reduce the swelling", and I had to smile.

Then she placed herself under a deodorant sign that said "William's Big Stick Did the Trick", and I could hardly contain myself.

BUT, your Honor, when she moved for the fourth time and sat under the sign that said "Goodyear Rubber could have prevented this Accident"....I just lost it......."CASE DISMISSED!!"

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Why did the Can Crusher quit his job? Because it was Soda Pressing.

Ladies, this next one is just for you!

A man is walking through the woods, and he finds a magic lamp on the ground.

Instinctively, he picks the lamp up, rubs the side of it with his sleeve, and out pops a genie. The genie thanks the man for freeing him, and offers to grant him three wishes. The man is ecstatic and knows exactly what he wants.

“First,” says the man, “I want a billion dollars.”
The genie snaps his fingers and a briefcase full of money materializes out of thin air.

The man is wide eyed in amazement and continues, “Next, I want a Ferrari.”
The genie snaps his fingers and a Ferrari appears from a puff of smoke.

The man continues, “Finally, I want to be irresistible to women.”
The genie snaps his fingers and the man turns into a box of chocolates.

It was raining hard and a big puddle had formed in front of an Irish pub.

An old man stood by the puddle holding a stick with a string on the end and jiggled it up and down in the puddle.

A curious gentleman asked what he was doing.
"Fishing," replied the old man.

'Poor old fool,' thought the gentleman. So he invited him into the pub for a drink.

Just to start a conversation while they sipped their whisky, the gentleman asked, 'And so how many have you caught?'
"You're the eighth."

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Home Roasted Coffee Because The Drive Through Is Not Good Enough

I have been roasting my own coffee at home for about 15 years now.  There are tricks to getting better coffee from a market, but their's won't be better than my own efforts.

And while I am probably going into way too much detail here than I need to, once you do this process, it becomes second nature fast.

I literally wrote this off the top of my head in the span of 15 minutes.

I tell people that it is the difference between listening to your favorite song on a crisp new CD versus listening to that same song on an AM radio station 1000 miles away on a rainy night with static.

Yes, I know MP3 is more common, but you can also make a low bitrate MP3 that sounds like crap.  I need that comparison.

If great grandma could do this using a skillet over an open fire, you can do it too using a popcorn popper and a lot of ventilation.

You only need Green Coffee Beans, and a good heat source.

Oh and I strongly suggest you get Whole Bean coffee and grind it at home.  Once a coffee has been roasted, you lose flavor due to exposure to air.  Only grind what you need for today.  Get a small grinder, you will thank me.

A little science first.  

You need green coffee beans.  Unroasted coffee is a little green.  Olive Drab I would say but I won't be too particular with that definition.  Green coffee is uncommon because most people would rather get their coffee roasted, ground, and from the market.  To them I say BLEURGH!

Don't get me started on the Burnt Beans you get at the Drive Through.   Mine is better and so can yours be.

It is a Natural product.  Similar to Wine and Cheese, coffee grown at 'this' location will taste different than coffee grown at 'that' location.  Some prefer Colombian, Brazilian, Ethiopian coffees.  Coffee only grows in the tropics, and it's fussy about climate.  Shade Grown because the plants will burn out or just not thrive if there is "too much" sun, it also prefers a higher altitude because the shrubs don't like it "too hot".

Picked, washed, and dried, the coffee beans are packed in large sacks and shipped "to you" wherever you are.

Personally I prefer coffee from a little region in Guatemala (Huehuetenango) for its natural sweetness, but I have been drinking some from Ethiopia (Yirgacheffe) lately and find its complexity interesting for a change.

Yes, you can roast Decaf Coffee this way, and that is why I describe things in terms of "Crack" stages instead of temperatures and colors.  Decaf starts out darker and it is difficult to do that kind of coffee by eye.  I typically drink Half-Caff on non workout days, saving the High Test for a High Energy day.

And, Yes, you can tell a difference too.  It's not just me.  Tastes of chocolate, bitter, smoke and a long list of other words that may or may not make sense to you now.

Furthermore, the method you roast the beans and how long will change the flavor greatly.  Not long enough and it's "Too Light" and the flavors won't come out.  Too long and you end up with those "burnt beans" I sneer at.

So how do you know?

There is a process your beans go through while they are being heated and stirred.  Color will change from green to tan to brown and even black. 

There are two distinct stages of "Crack" that the beans will go through.  It will crackle as it roasts, then quiet down, then crackle again. 

First Crack and Second Crack.

First Crack is obvious when you hit it.  The Beans are quiet in the chamber.  All the sudden you get a crackling sound.  The beans are expanding and venting off gasses.  The beans are fairly hard so they need to let go of the gas somehow and you hear many of them crack.  Similar to popcorn, but not quite so vigorous

This First Crack is where I pay close attention.  When the cracks slow to one per three seconds each, I tend to stop the roast.  Pour them into a large bowl to cool. 

There are stages you can go through and each will give you a different flavor.  Right after First Crack, you will get a higher amount of caffeine, and a more complex taste.  If you are used to a super dark coffee like a Latin Coffee or a French Roast, keep roasting until  you get to Second Crack.

Second Crack I personally consider too dark, but that is my own preference.  Some of the complexity is gone by now as the heat is baking away some of the caffeine.  The more subtle flavors will wane and you get a more smoky flavor.   We have all had a "Strong Coffee" before and this will be where many of us will consider what we want.

Just not me. 

Oh and stop after Second Crack.  The beans will end up burning, literally and turn black. 

However you will develop your own preferences and you will most likely change over time.  I used to go to the beginning of Second Crack, but now I stop at First Crack when the beans slow to every 3 seconds.

The Roaster?  How do I get one?

I use a popcorn popper.  No, seriously.  In fact I have used the same West Bend Poppery II that I bought at a thrift store in 2008 or so.  It looks ugly, beat up, and has been stained by countless roasts in the yard and in the stove hood that vents outside.  We put that in when we redid the kitchen, saves a lot of grief.

Why that specific popcorn popper at the back of the box on my stove?  The base of the popper has a metal cup.  The air blows in from the sides.  If it blows in from the bottom, it is the wrong kind.  The sides are important because it will keep the beans moving around vigorously while you are roasting.  If it didn't, in the five minutes or so that it takes to roast, it would be uneven and you may still have unroasted beans commingling with burned beans.  Not fun.

Yes you can roast with a skillet.  It takes a fair amount of skill to stir things up while you are roasting, I just prefer to let the popcorn popper do the job for me. 

Plug it in, wait for first crack, dump into a metal bowl to allow things to cool.  Reset the process and repeat.

Finally when can I drink?

Tomorrow.   Give it a day.  I say "Roast Today, Grind and Drink Tomorrow."  I have a quart (Mason) jar that I use to store the coffee in once roasted.  Allow the coffee to cool open to the air, and vent off Carbon Dioxide gas and humidity, and you'll have a mug of coffee that will blow away anything you ever experienced.

Fresh simply does not describe this.

If you have gotten this far remember It Just Is Not That Difficult.  Like anything it needs preparation time.  Get your beans, get your popcorn popper, and enjoy the process!

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Why shouldn’t you write with a broken pencil? Because it’s pointless.

Observation, and analysis are quite important in life.  Training is really just that.  All that aside,  who doesn't like poking fun at people who are just not getting the plot?

A policeman was interrogating 3 guys who were training to become detectives.

To test their skills in recognizing a suspect, he shows the first guys a picture for 5 seconds and then hides it. "This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?"

The first guy answers, "That's easy, we'll catch him fast because he only has one eye!" The policeman says, "Well...uh...that's because the picture I showed is his side profile."

Slightly flustered by this ridiculous response, he flashes the picture for 5 seconds at the second guy and asks him, "This is your suspect, how would you recognize him?"

The second guy smiles, flips his hair, and says, "Ha! He'd be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!"

The policeman angrily responds, "What's the matter with you two?? Of course only one eye and one ear are showing because it's a picture of his side profile! Is that the best answer you can come up with?"

Extremely frustrated at this point, he shows the picture to the third guy and in a very testy voice asks, "This is your suspect, how would you recognize him? He quickly adds, "Think hard before giving me a stupid answer."

The third guy looks at the picture intently for a moment and says, "the suspect wears contact lenses."

The policeman is surprised and speechless because he really doesn't know himself if the suspect wears contacts or not.

"Well, that's an interesting answer. Wait here for a few minutes while I check his file and I'll get back to you on that." He leaves the room and goes to his office, checks the suspect's file on his computer, and comes back with a beaming smile on his face.

"Wow! I can't believe it. It's TRUE! The suspect does, in fact, wear contact lenses. Good work! How were you able to make such an astute observation?"

"That's easy," the third guy replied." He can't wear regular glasses because he only has one eye and one ear."

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Gaslighting isn’t real. You’re just crazy.

This totally reads like something I would try.  It also ends like something that would happen to me. 

One day death came to a Guy and said, Hey, today is your last day.

Guy: But I'm not ready!
Death said, "Well today your name is the first on my list."

Guy: Okay then why don't you take a seat and we will drink a COFFEE before we go?
Death: All right.

The Guy gave Death some COFFEE with sleeping pills in it.  Death finished COFFEE and fell into a deep sleep!!!  The Guy took the list & removed his name from top of the list and put at the bottom of the list!!

When Death woke up he said to the Guy, "Because you have been so nice to me now I will start my job from the BOTTOM of the list."



Oh and just because I thought this was cute:

SCUBA is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
What you may not know is that Tuba is also an acronym for...
Terrible Underwater Breathing Apparatus

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Cycling? Make sure your brakes don't rub. Truly basic maintenance.

Any noise means you're losing speed but that's easily solved by chasing the source with a drop of oil and or some adjustments.

I'm coming at Cycling as a Skater.  I would call myself an intermediate distance biker, two workouts a week in an urban/suburban setting in Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors, Florida.

I was out yesterday having an awesome workout.  Limiting myself to 90 minutes of actual motion, plus water stops and red lights and so forth, I managed a pleasant 23 miles.  Tomorrow is another cycling day and Friday is expected to be a Skate day.

Enough of that background nonsense, the thing is that if you go along long enough, you notice a few things.  My own bike is lit up like a xmas tree, and I have enough bio feedback going on that it is pretty obvious when "something changes".  Being that steady state kind of guy, I start looking.

I came to a conclusion that it pays to watch your disc brakes. 

You can see my own disc brake assembly on the picture.  The placement of the disc is highlighted by the sky blue from outside.  Nice little accident of photography there, huh?

If I am chasing a squeak like a cricket in the bedroom at 2 AM when you are trying to sleep, you know that I watch what's going on.  After about 5 to 10 minutes of active workout, you might do your best to have a look at your equipment.

Don't roll your eyes at that comment, it has served me well more often than not.  5 minutes is enough time for your heart rate to climb into the 100 beats per minute.  It's time for the chain and the cassette (that gear thing on your back wheel) to warm up.  It's also time enough for things to slip or flex if loose.

Oh sure YOU don't need to look, but maybe it's that other person on the trail that you're coming up on and sounding out "On Yer Left!" to.  Bear me out.

I have Runkeeper giving me stats and telling my speed every two minutes (more is annoying, less is pointless).  Strava will report all the final info to my health insurance company and I'll get points that are able to be converted to cash.  I have my watch feeding all of that, and a spare bike computer on the handlebars.  Basically I tell people I have a 47 pound aluminum alloy motorcycle with a 184 pound and 6 foot 4 inch motor shouting at trucks to get out of the bike lane. 

"Trail Hogs" deserve no respect, no matter the sport.

About that time, I glance down.  I'm on a straightaway and plugging along.  Finally warmed up.  Speed is increasing.  On my bike, with my frame, I can look down along the seat tube toward the back and see the brake assembly.  Here is where I make a strategic decision. 

Since all the equipment has warmed because of friction and sunlight, and found its groove, if that disc on the brake is not nicely placed between the brake pads, adjustments are needed.  It should never ride the pads, and it should be flat so that it won't brush against the pads at one point in the spin.

Remember, if it is brushing against the pads, it is slowing you down.  My own brakes work incredibly well, but I don't want them negatively impacting my workout.

Flip the lever on that wheel (front or back) and release the hub.  Here is where finesse is required.  Make certain the hub is sitting in its groove and mounts.  Then finesse that wheel so that it looks like the disc is balanced evenly between the pads like in the picture.  Finally clamp that lever back into place and verify nothing has drifted.

What happens with me is that at the one hour water stop, I will inspect everything again.  Pads must not be rubbing, wheels spin free, tire pressure is reasonable.  Then enjoy the carbs you brought and that bottle of ice water on your frame.

You did bring your supplies, right?  I highly recommend my own ginger cookie recipe.

Hey... On Yer Left!