Friday, June 5, 2009

Early Morning Musings…

Forgive me, dear Reader. I’ve been away. It has been a week since my last post. I’ve been in a dark, dank place these last few days. The joy of the songbirds as the morning sun rises has been absent for me. The glare from the monitor has been harsh and uninviting. You see, my “better half” finally convinced me to remove my waterbed. She’s been “encouraging” me to drain that bastion of warm encompassing water for some time. In fact, I haven’t even slept on it for 3 or 4 years now as we had moved it to our guest room. Sure, I’ve looked at it longingly from time to time as I passed by the open bedroom door. Yes, I’ve envied Herbert and Rosie, our two cats, as they wintered through on the warmth of that glorious queen sized floating piece of heaven. But, there is a time for all things and the time for waterbeds has passed me by. The new antique brass trundle bed now occupies the space of the bedroom. HerberNewBed Somehow Herbert has accepted it as a place of comfort and willingly snuggled into a corner for his frequent naps. I sensed it was time for the Chicken of Depression to migrate; to move on, to release me from its shackles. (Note: this opening was not paid for by any known pharmaceutical company although any offers of sponsorship would gladly be considered.)

In fact, I already feel pretty good. The first wafts of freshly brewed coffee are just now locating me in my overstuffed, messy home office. The overnight rains have turned into early morning showers and they have NOT dampened the enthusiasm of the songbirds. Herbert and Rosie have greeted me warmly this morning and rid themselves of several pounds of hair as they wound in and out of my legs in first light of day greetings. My wife has stirred and is starting her daily rituals of heading to work and the “Zekesters” abode is coming to life again. Only Zeke and Orla, the two Labs, continue to spend the early day in a somnambulant state.

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The real reason for a lack of postings here over the past week has been because I’ve been trying to catch up since my trip to Washington, DC and our latest HonorAir flight. What a great honor that was to accompany 100 WWII Vets to see their Memorial. For those interested, images are available at Waynesville Rotary’s website.  Click on the HonorAir project link on the home page.

While in Washington, I was impressed with what appeared to be miles of bike paths and infrastructure to support cycling, running, and pedestrian activities in and around the mall areas. On that gorgeous mid-spring day, people were everywhere engaging in some type of outdoor activity.

In my May 25th post, I wrote about my purchase of a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger bag. I’m pleased to report that the bag performed exceptionally well throughout the day as we flew to and from Washington. The bag had plenty of room for 4 ponchos, an occasional jacket, sunscreen, cameras, etc. The internal pockets provided secure places for photo ID and some spending cash along with pencils, pens, and a small notebook. The chest strap proved to be a fine place to hang my camera and cell phone within easy reach. I also quickly discovered the joy of being able to simply slide the messenger bag around me for quick access rather than having to go through taking it off and on as I would have done with a backpack. Thus far, I’ll give the Timbuk2 two thumbs up!

I’ve added another piece of digital electronic equipment to my arsenal. I’ve been searching for sometime for an appropriate camcorder to go along with my digital still camera. Sometimes, moving images simply provide a better product to get across a point. I finally “bit the bullet” and settled on a Sony Handycam DCR-SX40 that was on sale at Best Buy last week. The camcorder is incredibly light weighing in at only 10 ounces with battery installed. It has a 60x optical zoom. I opted for flash memory instead of a hard drive or DVD version of the camcorder as my gut feeling was that I would have less trouble over time with recording to flash memory rather than the other modes due to the less than forgiving nature of shockless bicycles. My first ride and recording adventure tended to reinforce my decision as there were some pretty rocky sections of the road I was riding and the resulting video nearly brought on a nauseous state when watching it. I also argued with myself about going the High Def route vs. staying with Standard definition capabilities. In the end, I decided that most of my recording would be for uploading to You Tube or such and that Standard Def was sufficient for those purposes. It also meant I could stay in a price range where I could afford the camera without adding to credit card debt, which is no small matter anymore.

My first task was to mount the camera to my handlebar. My bar real estate was already limited due to my Oregon Scientific heart monitor and my Planet Bike Blaze light. My friend “Big J” recommended a couple of options and loaned them to me to try out. I settled on a Pedco Ultra Clamp Camera Mount from REI. The clamp is very light weight and fit in the space previously held by my light. It has several different options for camera angle and adjustment. Generally speaking, it was a secure connection to the handlebars although I can certainly tell that I’m going to have to fashion some form of tether for both clamp and camcorder.

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There was one particular stretch of road that was very bumpy and the camera began rotating on its screw. I quickly realized that if it came loose, I would not be able to catch the camera without wrecking on the bike. This would definitely NOT be a desirable outcome for me, bike, or camera!

I haven’t yet posted my footage. I’m waiting to get my new Dell Studio 17 laptop up and running. It arrived yesterday and I haven’t had time to even look at it yet. I’m making the jump to Vista so I expect some learning time to be needed before I can get back to fully functioning in the electronic sphere.

I hope to have some footage of a potential bike route through our hometown posted before long. Our bicycle advisory committee has its next meeting this coming Tuesday. I hope to come away from that with some clearer ideas for proposal to our Town leaders. Until the footage is posted, here are two links of the out and back suggested route that I’ve ridden. The ride was made with the following thoughts:

1) It should minimize strenuous climbs in order to encourage use by a wide range of ages and fitness.

2) It should avoid the heaviest traffic counts and should take advantage of residential areas when possible.

3) It should maximize exposure to shopping districts and public entities such as schools and libraries including Town Hall.

Travelling west to east: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2888942

Travelling east to west: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2874588

I used two large retailers as the anchor points for each end of the ride. I comfortably made one leg of the ride within 30 minutes. The eastern end of the ride ties nicely into the town and county’s greenway and is less than 30 seconds away from the Lake Junaluska Conference Center, which offers a 3 mile or so riding/walking path around the lake.

My first cup of coffee for the day is now history and its about time to wish my wife a good day as she heads out to work for the final day this week.

Until later,

-- Zeke

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