Stupid Groundhog

So, the groundhog saw his shadow, which supposedly means six more weeks of winter. Bah!
At least the New York groundhog (Chuck) fulfilled a long-time wish of mine and bit someone (not just anyone, New York’s Mayor Bloomburg!)

Remember when I said that I didn’t much care about the snow and ice that was forecast for us? Well, I lied. We got it, it’s still around, and I hate it. But I am still taking some solace in my cheerful little Shamrock’s reemergence.

Shamrock 2009-02-05 (1)

Attn. Tropics: Keep your storms to yourself!

Sunday, September 14 the remnants of Hurricane Ike rolled through my area. No rain to speak of, but the wind blew 60-80 mph all day long. By 3PM or so most of the area was without power as trees across the Miami Valley snapped or fell over, taking powerlines with them.

Not realizing at the time just how widespread the damage was, I wasn’t too concerned about the power, thinking it would be back on in no time. As it turned out, things were much worse than I’d realized. The Governor promptly declared my county (and several others) “Disaster Areas”. By the time I conceded that I needed to get some supplies (Tuesday), they were in short order. ‘C’ or ‘D’ batteries were no where to be found and Kroger was selling ice as fast as they could bag it up. I got ice, hoping to save my freezer full of Vermont Mystic Pies (tragically, that endeavor was doomed to failure), peanut butter and bread. I spent a week bored out of mind, reduced to eating peanut butter sandwiches and fast food and very thankful for Tim Horton’s coffee, having a gas water heater, and my XPower Powerpack 600HD, which I used to power my laptop and DSL modem and then recharged in the car while I drove around searching (in vain) for some sign of repair crews actually repairing. I know they were out there, working hard, It just would have been reassuring to have seen them doing something other than driving to and fro.

DP&L reported that 300,000 of its 515,000 customers lost power Sunday, Sept. 14.
Here’s the breakdown of DP&L customers without power, day-by-day:
Sept. 15: 300,000
Sept. 16: 200,000
Sept. 17: 105,000
Sept. 18: 80,000
Sept. 19: 65,000
Sept. 20: 51,000
Sept. 21: 38,000
Sept 22: 28,000
Sept. 23: 13,000
Sept. 24: 8,000

My power was restored just as I was getting ready to leave for work Friday night, the 19th. It was then that I discovered that my cable was out. Does the torture never end?

Finally Tuesday night around 5PM two trucks from Time Warner Cable showed up, they spent the next several hours circling the block, working on the wires, finally getting my cable back on at 8:50PM. Supposedly they will credit my bill for the time from 24 hours after the power was restored until the cable was restored, 73+ hours. Personally, I don’t think I should have to pay for any of the time that service was interrupted, but according to the Public Utilities Commission, they are only liable for the time after power was restored. Oh well.

In summation, I would just like to say this to the Tropics:

Keep your damned storms to yourself! We don’t send you our blizzards, do we?

Seriously, there is just something terribly wrong about suffering this sort of inconvenience at the hands of a hurricane/tropical storm while not enjoying any of the benefits of a tropical climate.
That’s all I’m saying.

When it Rains, it Pours (Again)

You may recall me doing some bitching the last time my basement flooded. Well, with the practically non-stop thunderstorms this week, it happened again.

Anyway… I headed out for a ride this evening and kept coming across roads that were closed due to flooding. I took a chance that I could get through on Valley Road (which was “closed”), after all, it hasn’t been raining today. I climb the hill by the airport, speed down the other side and there, up ahead, is the water. As I draw closer I see that there’s a narrow strip down the other side of the road that’s above the water and only a bit wet in places. Onward! I cross 35 and head to Hilltop Road, which also has signs up that it’s closed (flooded). Emboldened by my previous success, I press on. I come to one area which was obviously underwater, but is now completely dry, so my decision is looking better. Then I come to another Road Closed sign. “Uh-oh, this doesn’t bode well.” Then I see that the entire low-lying part of the road which is adjacent to the river is very much underwater.

Dejected, I turn around to seek another way home.

Here’s the thing that ties the two flooded basement incidents together. The last time it happened I had lost my key, but had a spare hidden away. Today I realized early in my ride that I had forgotten my key, which was hanging right where it belongs, right next to the spare, which I hadn’t bothered to return to where it belongs.

I ended up calling a locksmith, who couldn’t pick the lock and had to drill it out. A rather costly lesson for me. Between the service call, and the new lock (re-keyed to match the deadbolt); not returning my ’emergency key’ to its hiding place cost me $96.30.

Spring Rains — The Good News and the Bad News

Tuesday and Wednesday it absolutely poured rain, at one point Wednesday evening it even started to snow big fluffy snowflakes. For a brief time everything that wasn’t underwater was coated in snow.

The bad news is that my basement flooded and I therefore have no heat or hot water until they get it pumped out and the various pilot lights can be re-ignited.

The good news? There’s a family of ducks who seem to be having a splendid time swimming around what used to be my back yard.

Hey you ducks! Get out of my yard!

Perfect Day for a Ride

Today it was about 70°F (21°C) with bright sun and fluffy white cumulus clouds marching by overhead. There was just enough gusty breeze to keep things interesting, basically as close to perfect riding weather as I would dare to hope for. I don’t mind hot weather (which is good, given that summer seemed to arrive in mid-May this year), but 70-ish seems to be where my motor runs best.

As I was rolling out of town I spotted two wrenches in the road, which I grabbed to add to my collection of road finds.

Later, riding along an otherwise empty country road, I passed another cyclist going the other direction; a gentleman of (I’m guessing) 70+, tan, shirtless, and fit-looking. We exchanged pleasantries and I rode on, grinning a bit wider than before, imagining my future riding off behind me.

The much needed rain we finally got yesterday had everything looking very fresh and green; a Goldfinch paced me for bit before disappearing into the trees. The day just kept getting more perfect!

Turning back toward town, the wind shifted and I glided along effortlessly at 20MPH, all was right in my world.

Back in town, heading home, I did a (rare for me) perfect trackstand at a 4-way stop and the driver whose turn it was actually went.

Harsh reality, as always, awaited. A block later a car coming the other direction starts to turn directly in front of me; the dreaded left cross! He’s coming right at me, I’m going too fast to stop… thankfully his window is down and he hears me shout “Hey!” He jams on the brakes as I’m right in front of him, looking right into his wide, vacant eyes.

“My bad” he says.
“My bad?”
“My bad” is for when your buddy is wide-open under the basket and you don’t pass him the ball. “My bad” is for when you spill your drink. “My bad” is not for when you nearly hit someone with your car. “My bad” in that situation will get you (at a minimum) cursed at. Thankfully, by the time I realized how much that pissed me off, I had cleared the intersection and was riding away (cursing over my shoulder).

I’m glad I’d had an otherwise perfect day, it makes the near-miss much easier to shrug off. I’m also grateful that the near misses are few enough and far enough between that I don’t recall when the last one was. I do know that I’ve put quite a few perfect rides under my wheels since then, however.

Ahh… Summer!

So, today around 2:30 I took a quick ride to the Post Office; the plan being that when I returned I would eat, change into “bike clothes” then go for a real ride.

The eating and changing clothes part of the plan went real well, then came a big booming clap of thunder, followed almost immediately by torrential rain. This cast the going for a ride part of my plan into doubt.

Undeterred, I checked the various online weather radars at my disposal and estimated that the rain would be over in plenty of time to still get my ride in. Sure enough, the rain didn’t last long and by 6:30 the wind was doing a fine job of drying the roads out.

So, off I went. I’m not sure if it was because of the earlier downpour, the still threatening looking skies, or what, but traffic was surprizingly sparse. Another welcome touch was that the rain had brought the temperature way down. Riding to the Post Office earlier it was in the upper 80’s, after the rain it was a cool 67!

As is often the case, the storm had gotten the wildlife stirred up. I encountered a bunny, and a group of six Goldfinches paralleled my path for about 40 yards or so. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; any ride with Goldfinches is a good ride.

I had intended on going for a nice, leisurely spin, but the ominous, low-hanging, dark gray, foreboding clouds surrounding me on 3 sides added impetus to my pedaling and I got in a good fast ride instead, rushing to get home before the clouds changed their minds.

That’s the sort of “Summer Shower” that I don’t mind, although my opinion changes dramatically when I’m caught out in one of these passing downpours.

Damned ‘Old Age’

So yesterday I took the Pista out for a spin. I was feeling pretty good, hammering up the slight hill by the park Pantani-style. Some time later I noticed an odd pain in the back of my left knee (the “good” one). Analyzing the evidence I realized that I had, apparently, hyper-extended it, going all Marco P on that hill before I’d had a chance to warm up. I thought briefly about turning around and going home, or of stopping and flipping the back wheel around to the 17 to make things a bit easier. “Nah, screw that; I’m riding!” I decided, soldiering on. As my ride progressed I realized that I might have made a mistake, as the pain in the back of my knee grew more incessant. Still, though, I made no concessions (I’m stupid that way).

By the time I got back home I knew that I had definitely hyper-extended the knee (it’s a pretty specific pain, one that you remember), and that I probably shouldn’t have ridden (especially the fixed gear) on it. I also knew it would be fine, but that it would probably keep me off of the bike today (I’m not that stupid).

I consoled myself with the thought that it might rain, and overnight it did rain a bit. There was a front pushing through, so it was very windy all day, which was some solace. Then we had some pretty intense thunder storms this evening; even a tornado warning for a bit so, in the end, I felt much better about not getting to ride.

The good news? My house didn’t blow away, and my knee is much better, hardly hurts at all. Oh, and I ate tamales all day!