The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Slogging South

Had I actually ridden the Century today, I would probably be done or close to it. But the return trip would have been worse than I thought earlier today: Winds are now out of the south at 8 m/s (17 mph). That's like riding up a 5% grade without respite. After having ridden 130 km (80 mi) already. Yeesh.

Office puppy

Still one little problem with our otherwise criminally adorable puppy: separation anxiety. He's familiar enough with my office that he feels comfortable re-arranging the rug, but if I step out, he starts crying immediately. So this afternoon we're going to work on that until my nerves fray.

This will have to be after I confirm the building is empty, of course, because our lobby is marble and terrazzo, giving his whining an unbelievable reverberating increase in volume.

I wonder how I'd be doing?

Today is the North Shore Century, a 100-mile bike ride I've trained all summer for. Sadly, I'm not riding today, because a little less than a week ago my gallbladder turned itself green, and my doctors didn't think a major athletic event five days after surgery would be a good idea. But I can't stop wondering, how would I be doing?

I expect I would have left Dawes Park around 8, three hours ago. That means I'd probably already be in Kenosha and would have started my return trip. Current weather in Kenosha right now is 24°C (75°F) with winds directly out of the South at 6 m/s (13 mph). That's great for the outbound but, shall I say, not entirely favorable for the return.

A direct tailwind that strong would have gotten up to Kenosha at around 36 km/h (22 mph), and probably under 2 hours 30 minutes. But the direct headwind on the way back would cost about the same as it helped, slowing me down to 27 km/h (17 mph). It's not just speed: not only am I slower in a headwind, but I use more power over time. Plus, after 80-90 km (50-56 mi), I'd already be tired. Winds in general are hard; but if I have to ride with strong winds, I'd much rather fight them on the way out.

So my guess is, my Century time would be about 5:15—5:30 today, not including probably an hour gorging at the rest stops.

Oh well. Next year.

Almost forgot: There was a silver lining this morning. I got my lowest body weight since college this morning, having lost 7 kg (15 lbs) since July 1st.

And Parker is being an adorable little office puppy today.

Hour 76...could have been worse

As you can imagine from this photo, the shower I had after returning from my adventures this week felt really nice.

Also, I believe this is the least flattering photo of me in existence, but I could be wrong.

It's also sad to note that, even though I lost 6.5 kg (14.5 lbs) from July 1st until my gallbladder blew up, being on a a saline IV non-stop caused me to gain 5.5 kg (12 lbs) in four days. I expect that will all go away by next weekend.

In retrospect, I never liked my gallbladder. I'm glad it's gone. I just wish it would have gone more quietly—and after the Century!

Wow, has this week sucked

When I ate lunch on Sunday, my gallbladder contracted to help digest some of the cheese in my salad. A tiny piece of calcium was already lodged in my biliary duct, however, preventing bile from getting out. My gallbladder persevered. It pushed. It shuddered mightily against the stone. It had me doubled over in agony and Anne rushing me to Evanston Hospital.

All of this on its own would have caused enough pain to last a decade if the gallbladder had simply given up and allowed the stone to wiggle its way back inside like most gallstones do. No, this stone, and six or seven of its smaller siblings, actually managed to get all the way through the biliary duct, lacerating it in the process. By Tuesday morning my gallbladder had turned "gangrenous," according to one of the surgeons who removed it Tuesday afternoon.

I'm finally home, with four painful holes in my belly and a bottle of Vicodin to munch on. I've missed Anne, Parker, my house, and yes, my blog. I'm going to miss the North Shore and Apple Cider centuries, too.

That hurts almost as much as the exploding gallbladder. Moreover, the surgeon pointed out that moderate weight loss combined with increasing carbohydrate consumption and physical activity—i.e., training for a century ride—can all trigger gallstones in the first place. So it's possible that not only did the gallstones render all my training this summer moot, but the training itself may have caused them. Sigh.

At least I can never have gallstones again. And I have a great defense the next time someone accuses me of having a lot of gall.

I'll probably get back to full strength by mid-October, just in time to plop a trainer in the living room. This will enable moderate training throughout the winter, which will keep me in decent shape. Without a major event to train for, and with a reduced ability to digest fatty foods, I expect to complete my weight-loss goal just in time to chow down on holiday foods.

So while my gallbladder's untimely demise seriously hurt my fitness goals for 2006, it should have no effect on my goals for 2007 and beyond, which include more centuries and, ultimately, RAGBRAI.

But still, this week has sucked.

Five years on

Frank Rich hits it on the head in his column today:

At the National Cathedral prayer service on Sept. 14, 2001, President Bush found just the apt phrase to describe this phenomenon: "Today we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called 'the warm courage of national unity.' This is the unity of every faith and every background. It has joined together political parties in both houses of Congress." What’s more, he added, "this unity against terror is now extending across the world."
When F.D.R. used the phrase "the warm courage of national unity," it was at his first inaugural, in 1933, as the country reeled from the Great Depression. It is deeply moving to read that speech today. In its most famous line, Roosevelt asserted his "firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
What followed under Roosevelt's leadership is one of history’s most salutary stories. Americans responded to his twin entreaties — to renounce fear and to sacrifice for the common good — with a force that turned back economic calamity and ultimately an axis of brutal enemies abroad.
On the very next day after that convocation, Mr. Bush was asked at a press conference "how much of a sacrifice" ordinary Americans would "be expected to make in their daily lives, in their daily routines." His answer: "Our hope, of course, is that they make no sacrifice whatsoever." He, too, wanted to move on...but toward partisan goals stealthily tailored to his political allies rather than the nearly 90 percent of the country that, according to polls, was rallying around him.
This selfish agenda was there from the very start. As we now know from many firsthand accounts, a cadre from Mr. Bush's war cabinet was already busily hyping nonexistent links between Iraq and the Qaeda attacks. The presidential press secretary, Ari Fleischer, condemned Bill Maher's irreverent comic response to 9/11 by reminding "all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Fear itself — the fear that "paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance," as F.D.R. had it — was already being wielded as a weapon against Americans by their own government.

We can show the President and his party what we think of his performance since September 11th when polls open in 57 days and 15 hours.

Some things we learned today

  1. Do not take Parker for a car ride right after dinner. Or, at the very least, don't let him sit in the front seat if you do. You'll just have to feed him again when you get home, and find the Fabreeze.
  2. If you leave the bedroom while Parker is sleeping on the bed and go to Wild Oats, he won't notice you've left until you return. If you leave while he's holding a ropie toy and looking at you with (literal) puppy-dog eyes, the entire neighborhood will notice you've left immediately.
  3. No shoe is safe, on or off a foot.
  4. A large grasshopper (2" long) that hops when a puppy's nose makes contact provides thrilling entertainment—for about four seconds. Then there's a crunch, a buzzing sound, another crunch, and the next day you get to see the grasshopper again.

Why servers sometimes crash

I just found out about a server crash at a friend's old company. It seems one of the staff members sent a 2.7 MB graphical file (wrapped in a PDF, wrapped in a MIME email) to 900 people. For some reason, that crashed the Exchange server creating 8.5 GB of transaction logs in just under 20 hours, which overflowed the system drive, which caused the entire server to collapse. At last report, a consultant had cleaned out the transaction logs and most of the message queues, but Exchange was still re-trying some of the addresses.

This problem was, therefore, between chair and keyboard. Whose chair and whose keyboard is difficult to tell.