Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 711 miles
Weight lost: 53 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 8
Hours billed last week: 40
Total mice caught: 13
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
Recent listening: The Information by Beck, Digital Ash In A Digital Urn by Bright Eyes, NPR Story of the Day, Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs, Necktie Second by Pete Droge
Recent viewing: Countdown, Sportscenter, Kingdom Hospital, The Office, My Name Is Earl, Medium
Recent playing: Donut Games, Elebits
Recently accomplished: Reset and re-baited mouse traps, re-routed cabling in office, paper recycling, paid bills, started reunion planning, DVD for Thane
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, buy front bike fender, taxes, move music to new drive, taxes

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 680 miles
Weight lost: 53 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 6
Hours billed last week: 40
Total mice caught: 12
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Recent listening: Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull, KBOO Bike Show, NPR Story of the Day, Science Friday
Recent viewing: NBA Rookie Challenge, All-Star Saturday Night, All-Star Game, Daytona 500, The Daily Show, Countdown, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Medium, Battlestar Galactica
Recent playing: Donut Games, Elebits, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
Recently accomplished: Cleaned and lubed bike, office cleaning, recycling, installed longer Ethernet cable for Tivo
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, pay bills, hair cut, fix bathroom sink, clean office, rebait and move traps

Nothing can do me wrong

I burned MP3 CDs for Graham and Thomas shortly after Christmas so they both could have some new music. For some reason, Graham has latched onto a song called “Helmet” by a capella band The Bobs. He listens to it over and over and has committed the words to memory. A couple of weeks ago he started basketball practice and is playing in his first game today. His skills were raw to start, but Tina has been practicing dribbling and passing with him everyday and he’s getting much better.

Thomas has been engrossed with finishing The Legend of Zelda on Wii. They’re not allowed to play Wii during the week, so he’s been playing Runescape, a massively-multiplayer online role-playing (MMOR) game, after finishing his homework every day. He listens to cello music in bed at night while he’s reading. Sometimes he listens to science podcasts while he’s trying to get to sleep.

When Jan and Tom were here over the holidays, Tom mounted our dishwasher to the counter to keep it from tipping forward when the door is open. While working on it, he found what he described as mouse droppings under the dishwasher. Since we had never seen mice or any sign of mice in our house, we didn’t really believe it. Then last week came into the family room asking who had been eating his two pound Hershey Bar. We took a look and it had a very small tear in it and a perfect semi-circle eaten out of one corner. With tiny little teeth marks.

That night we bought a bunch of cheap mouse traps (Does Victor have a patent on that design? They look exactly the same as the ones we used 30 years ago.) and one “live” trap because Thomas asked. One went off the first night but had no mouse. Today as I was making eggs for myself I glanced over at the one on the counter and found that it had a tiny little mouse in it. Graham initially volunteered to be “in charge” of emptying the traps but when faced with an actual dead mouse, he begged off. Our success led us to check the four other traps and found a larger mouse under the dishwasher.

When I was a kid, I was “in charge” of emptying the traps in our house. I was the only boy in the house at the time, so I suppose that’s why I drew the duty. I really disliked it especially when the trap on the heat register caught one. By the time I would find it in the morning, it was half-cooked and pretty disgusting. I don’t know where I was supposed to put the mice, but I always dropped them into the two-foot space between the house and back porch. I remember always trying to open the traps without touching the mice.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 519 miles
Weight lost: 49 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 10
Hours billed this week: 39
Current reading: The Prince by Machiavelli, Against All Enemies by Richard A. Clarke
Recent listening: Essential Ten Years After by Ten Years After, Corinne Bailey Rae by Corinne Bailey Rae, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2, Last Mango in Paris by Jimmy Buffet
Recent viewing: The Dead Zone, Stargate: SG-1, Countdown, The Colbert Report, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Dr. Who, CSI: Miami
Recent playing: ExciteTruck
Recently accomplished: Pinewood Derby weights and sanding, paint, wheels and axels; acquired Crazy Monster Truck
Imperative To Do: Two Pinewood Derby champions, call mechanic, RMA old Tivo drive, vacuum van carpet
Cool Link: Why I don’t wear a suit by Mark Cuban

Hey Oh

It snowed in Portland again today. We still had snow from last week which was unusual for Portland. Even more unusual was getting an appreciable amount of snow twice in the same winter. Today’s snowfall was probably around six inches. The temperature remained below freezing but that will likely change tomorrow. No school and no work for anybody in our house today. Tina and the kids went to the neighbors’ house to play in the snow with their friends while I stayed warm at home. I split my time between Tivo, Wii, computer and keeping Nietzsche warm. I anticipate a cold bike ride late tomorrow morning.

Why can’t I free your doubtful mind?

The temperature has not risen above freezing since it snowed last week. The furnace has been working overtime to keep the house warm and Tina and I have been fighting off a dry cough that mysteriously arises when we’re trying to sleep at night. After noticing the cough disappear during the daytime, I was finally able to conclude that our furnace filters were dirty. I also assumed that the filter in our bedroom vent and the one in my CPAP machine needed to be changed, too. Thus, my mission last night was to remedy the problem with fresh filters all around.

The first step was to be the purchase of said filters at the Home Depot which is about a mile away from the 102nd Avenue Blue Line station. Before leaving I double checked with the online Goodman furnace and AC webiste to make sure I knew what model I needed. Biking there would be relatively easy, I thought, and then I’d just bike back and get back on the Max. It didn’t quite work out that way.

The ride to the Home Depot was relatively short but it was wicked cold – 28 degrees with a strong east wind blowing out of the Gorge. The furnace filter section had been recently devastated and there were no 14 x 21 x 1’s left. I searched for about 15 minutes before finally summoning help, which was slow to arrive and could only confirm that they were out. I picked up a nifty vent plate with a built-in filter (I had previously jury-rigged our bedroom vent with a cutout furnace filter). After the quick self-checkout, I left having spent an hour on my “quick” errand and I still wasn’t done.

I mapped out the remaining business landscape between Home Depot and home and decided my next best bet would be the True Value on 122nd. Although it was 7:00 by then, I had a little hope that it might still be open. If not, there was a Staples right next to it that would be open and might have filters. I rode to the 102nd Avenue station and, seeing no Max in sight, decided to continue by bike to 122nd.

Those 20 blocks proved more difficult that I had imagined, especially since much of the bike lane still contained frozen slush, crunchy snow and the occasional scary patch of ice. Because the Max tracks run right down the middle of the street, Burnside is a single lane one-way on each side of the Max. That means that swerving out of the bike lane to avoid hazardous biking conditions is mostly out of the question. Because of that, I detoured north to Glisan where there is no bike lane, but there are four lanes of traffic.

As I approached 122nd and Glisan, I was delighted to see a heretofore unconsidered Target store come into view. Gleefully, I pulled into the parking lot fully expecting to find the filters. Unfortunately, I was met by 20-odd feet of broken car glass. With a car on my left, I was unable to swerve out of it and my tires took the full brunt. There was no immediate hissing so I put it out of my mind for the time being.

Target did, in fact, have the filters in the size I needed. They even had the fancy pleated kind. I stopped by the electronics section to check for Wii’s and Wii remotes (they had neither) before checking out, bundling up and riding off to face the chill from the east. I headed north on 122nd until I took up my normal route heading east on Halsey. That particular stretch of road is probably the worst part of my commute during the winter because of the east winds from the Gorge. This night it was even more difficult because of the aforementioned ice, snow and frozen slush that clogged about a mile of the bike lane. Finally, I headed down the hill on 162nd which marks the “home stretch” to my nightly commute. That stretch culminates in an especially critical section of road where the bike lane narrows absurdly under the railroad underpass. During that section, I “take the lane” and get in front of any traffic so I can be plainly seen.

Right as I made my move, I noticed that the balance of my bike felt a little funny. I thought it felt a little like a flat front tire, but the steering still seemed to be working perfectly. I slowed down drastically to avoid crashing directly in front of the car which was now tailgating me as we careened down the hill. I slowed to nearly stopped for my left turn onto Stanton and powered my way up the hill. I jumped off at the top of the hill and check my rear tire. Sure enough it was going flat. Over the objections of my already numb feet, I hoofed it the remaining four blocks home.

The new vent plate was too small for our vent, but the new furnace filters worked well. Neither Tina or I had any problems with the dry cough last night and I slept extraordinarily well.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 505 miles
Weight lost: 48 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 8
Hours billed this week: 8
Current reading: The Prince by Machiavelli, Against All Enemies by Richard A. Clarke
Recent listening: Sings Some Ol’ Songs by Victoria Williams, Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs, Welcome to Woody Creek by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Recent viewing: My Name Is Earl, The Office, CSI: Miami, Heat at Suns, AFC Division Playoffs, NFC Division Playoffs, 24
Recent playing: Wii Sports, ExciteTruck, Elebits
Recently accomplished: Re-partitioned Thomas’ hard drive, completed Super Excite Platinum cup, Pinewood Derby cutouts & shaping
Imperative To Do: Pinewood Derby sanding, Pinewood Derby weights, Pinewood Derby paint, Pinewood Derby axels & wheels, call mechanic, RMA old Tivo drive, vacuum van carpet, ride more/snack less, Super Excite Diamond Cup
Cool Link: Top Ten Myths About Iraq by Juan Cole

Snow Day

Last night it snowed about an inch. Thomas and Graham went outside for about an hour before bedtime to have a snowball fight and then build a snowman with their friend Ziad. The temperature was about 35° which made the snow perfect – sticky but still soft.

As I watched them cavort in the snow, I remembered the first time my hands got really, really cold. It was probably the first winter on my paper route and my gloves (or mittens) were horribly inadequate. I came home with very cold fingers and my mom had me put them under running water to thaw them out. I remember screaming that the water was too hot and my mom telling me that it was cold water. After that I always wore a pair of snowmobile mittens over another pair of gloves.

Much to our surprise the snow was still on the ground this morning and school as first delayed and then cancelled altogether. Thomas and Graham were outside for quite awhile before their play devolved into a fight. Graham had to come in and stay in his room and Thomas wasn’t far behind.

I decided to stay home, too. I’m going to try to divert attention away from the Wii this afternoon and toward Pinewood Derby cars. The race is on the 21st and we have not even started!