December 22, 2007


This video was taken one morning around Thanksgiving. Nora was whimpering/crying/noisemaking in her half awake state. It was so cute.

Well, it's me again, going through the unnatural process of posting a blog. I don't have much to say. I just wanted to post some pictures and maybe try to figure out how to post a video. I have so many cute videos (to me anyway,probably would bore the snot out of anyone else).

So, a lot has happened since last time I posted. We had Thanksgiving at G&G Johnson's which was wonderful. Hubby went to Vegas for a conference the first week of December, so Punkin' face and I had to go it alone for a whole week. During that week it snowed so Punkin and I shoveled the driveway and sidewalk. Brrrrrrrr was it cold! I was pretty busy at school with crazy kids who were just counting down the days until Christmas break. Somehow I've made it through until now.

Enough of the talkin', look at the pictures. Sorry for the terrible arrangement of photos. Arrrggh!

December 11, 2007

New Tew You Tewb

Okay, I used to post videos on brightcove but those jerks stopped offering free video uploading to the masses. Crushed by the weight of google I guess.

Anyway, I recently went to Vegas and will be posting pics and such when I get a chance but for now....this is my first youtube music recording. Covered one of my favorite blues songs...

November 23, 2007

Long Legs!

Wow! Look at those legs! They're somethin' else let me tell you. Punkin Face hardly fits into any of her 3-6mo. stuff anymore. That's it for today. Just wanted to get another pic up.

November 17, 2007

So much has changed since the last post...uh, one being this is "Wifey" writing this post. So, don't let yourself get too upset if you don't find yourself laughing out loud or rolling on the floor laughing or even crying. I am not the writer my husband is. And I should apologize now for all the grammatical errors to come (or already come).

We flew out to the Midwest to see Ma and friends and family one last time before she moves close to Beckster and family (Cornland). It was a bittersweet stay, knowing I will never set foot in my old many memories; bad, good and in between. Life. I know with Ma gone I just won't visit as much as I would have and it makes me sad. I will miss all the Village friends and neighbors and especially the Bramers (like Husband, I am trying to keep names and places discrete). I was very glad to show off Punkin Face (our daughter) to all there. Sadly we didn't have enough time to see everyone we wanted to.

Dad picked us up at the Chicago airport and we met up with D and a friend to see the Star Wars exhibit...pretty neat, and while we were at the museum we also saw a really fascinating German sub, which we almost weren't allowed to tour. They were sold out for the day, but when the lady asked if we could come back another day we explained we were from out west and she let us in for free. We donated some money on the way out.

Then Dad drove us home and we all had dinner at Ma's-I love Ma's food. I was anxious to get there because I knew Beckster and the troupe were waiting for us. I was excited to see Nuttma (grandma) whom I wasn't expecting to see. We had a pot luck on Sunday with our meeting which was really nice and we even had pictures taken in our semi-matching outfits. Beckster and I went through some of our old baby clothes and dolls and other misc. items to decide what each would keep or toss...that brought back memories. The house was crazy that weekend, but too short and soon they were on their way back to Cornland and it was just us and Ma.

We went to visit my friend on the lake, I'll call her Skeight, and our old roommate, Nill, came down also. Skeight, Nill and I had a great time catching up with each other's lives and Husband teased us all...I guess he had to do something to keep himself entertained with a bunch of girls. That was really nice. I hadn't seen Skeight in two years and Nill since my Track years ('03 I think). I wish them the best.

The next night we went out to eat good in the neighborhood with Husband's old coworkers who I shall call Nerd #2, Matey and Wisty. Once again it was nice to catch up.

Wednesday we went to our little bible study and they had a delicious apple crisp and ice cream for all of us. That was neat to see all the families growing up so much and in more than one way. We probably won't be back there for a long time...bittersweet.

That was our last night with Ma and again it went way too fast. Somewhere in there we had an offspring fest at the Village neighbor's house. That was exciting and made me feel kinda old. We headed to D&D's for the rest of our stay. The Greats and G&J came to visit on Friday and they got to see Punkin Face. We ate Dad's delicious cookies and were entertained both by Punkin Face and mutters and "huh"s from The Greats and G&J. It was kinda funny 'cause Punkin Face slept in her suit case since there was no pack 'n' play for her there. It worked beautifully. The llama's were entertaining as usual and the cat's numerous. The next day Dad took us back to the airport and we flew safely home...there was some turbulence and we had a rocky landing, but Punkin Face smiled and giggled through it. Little weirdo.

Now I am back at teaching, which has been a shock to my system and an adjustment for Punkin Face. I thought I was going to die of heartbreak the first week, but I think I am getting in the swing of things for now. Looking forward to Thanksgiving and then Christmas break and then Spring break...anything to make it through the year. So far it has been difficult. The house is definitely suffering...and the laundry...and meals have been interesting. Oh well, I try to be positive. We are so fortunate to have a healthy girl and a warm home and loving family and friends and an awesome daycare. Punkin Face stays east of town with a good friend and has a little friend there. She gets lots of love and great care. I hope you all enjoy the pics. It's been too long.

Oh, Punkin Face was a frog for Halloween and she is at least 25 inches long now and probably 12lbs. Ginormous! She has a few 6-9month outfits she already fits in and most 3-6 stuff is too small unless it is a dress or seperate pants and shirts.

October 2, 2007

Smiles for Miles

Recent events....Wifey babysat our neice. I was going to give her the nickname Blighthead but I thought my sis might kill me. I'll have to think up a better one. Anyhoo, we have a video of her dancing to the music that Nora's swing makes. Good stuff.

I have a buddy from college (whom I will refer to as Smiles) that has always kept in touch, sending interesting emails and photos of events in his life. He just married a girl that we both went to college with and invited me to their reception. So, we called up The Major and made plans to stay with them for the weekend and attend Smiles' reception.

The traffic was horrible on the way to the Springs but we made it down their safely, if a little later than expected. We got up and went on a brisk little hike in the mountains. It was the perfect distance for a relaxing Saturday excursion. We had a lazy afternoon and then Kristy and I headed out to the reception.

I got to catch up with several people I went to school with and see Smiles again. They had a beautiful wedding on the cliffs of France. A reggae band played at the reception. They were really good, Nora liked the reggae music (seriously, lots of smiles) but we were concerned that the amplitude of the sonic waves might be slightly intense for newly formed ear drums. In other words: kinda loud for a baby.

We had some delicious fajitas for Sunday lunch, I played some quick blues guitar, and then we were off for home again. I sat in back with Nora on the way home. I was reading a book to pass the time (Lawrence Block's "Hit Parade" if you care) and every time I'd look up at her she'd give me a huge smile. I love it when she does that, her little face just lights up.

Anyway, that's about all that's going on here. I know the posts are infrequent and boring but at least I'm getting some pictures up now and then.

September 19, 2007

Weirdest Coincidence Ever?

Today was the weirdest day I've had in awhile. I went FamousGhost this morning with my boss to present a final project to a client. I have never been to FamousGhost, or if I have, it was just passing through.

The project involved a photo shoot and bringing in lots of different elements into an interactive online screening video. There were about 8-10 people at the presentation.

I was very involved in all aspects of the project, reviewing photos, meeting the clients, programming the background logic, etc. One of the client's wives was in the photo shoot as we needed a few extra people (I wasn't actually on scene for the photo shoot).

So, we're watching the final piece and they're talking about the video and someone mentions that his wife (we'll call her "Sabe") did a great job, calling her by name. I was thinking "Sabe?" could it be the same one I know? So I said: you're wife's name is Sabe, as in Sabe MaidenName? He looked at me funny and said yeah. I said: whoa! I've known your wife for a long time! My wife and her were pen pals when they were little girls.

So, it was very coincidental that I happened to be in a meeting, in a town I've never been, with a guy who married someone I knew pretty well, and didn't even recognize her in the photos I was working with. In my defense, the photos all feature people in hard hats, safety glasses and other working equipment. I guess you see what you expect to see and I was mostly checking photo quality, color, etc. I looked directly at her in photos but didn't make the connection because it was just completely out of context.

But it gets better!

There were a few females at the meeting. One of them looked kinda familiar. I was thinking that she really looked like one of my more distant cousins. I quickly dismissed this as ridiculous since I had gotten up really early to drive up and had consumed a lot of coffee. Plus, I haven't seen that cousin since she was about six years old and I was about eight. But I couldn't shake the idea that she really looked like my cousin. This seemed even more ridiculous for the fact that we had just figured out that I knew this guy's wife. What were the chances that I knew someone else at the meeting?

So, towards the end of the presentation one of the guys thanked me, by name. At the mention of my name, said girl turned to her friend and whispered something. Her friend immediately looked at me and then back at her incredulously. Then she turned to look at me. Finally I said: "Are you Distantcousin?" And she says "Yes, you're my cousin!"

It was all very funny and strange. We exchanged info as she said she comes this way from time to time. It was neat to meet a family member that I haven't seen for close to twenty years.

The most ironic part of all of this is that I didn't recognize someone I know fairly well in several photographs, yet I recognized someone I haven't seen for years and years almost instantly. I should probably try to sleep more often. The world would make more sense.

September 16, 2007

General News, Photos

Yeah, it's been a long time since I posted. Spare me, it's been a little busy here lately. Here's a quick rundown on the latest goings on.

First of all, my buddy from work, Jorgelish, and I put up all the rails on my fence. Now it's just lacking the planks. I've put off completing the fence until I get all the med bills from baby Nora. They just keep on coming in! Darn doctors, but I guess you deserve it for sticking to it through 7 years of school and a bunch of residency stuff. Wouldn't want their job.

Anyway, my friend Boone was also around these parts for a business trip. He came by to see the little one and our house. It was good to see him, too bad he could only be around for an hour or two. Nora's face is hilarious in the picture with Chad.

We went on a family camping trip, which is becoming a tradition, over labor day. I have a whole bunch of pictures somewhere but they are not handy and my sis posted a bunch over on her blog so you can check those out there. She's more diligent about the posting thing, which is to say, her job is easier than mine (I only wrote that because I know she'll read this).

Wifey's grandparents were out, visiting their son down south. Wifey took Nora down to see them. I was working so I didn't get to go but we're hoping to visit Wifey's family soon.

We babysat Babyhaley on Thursday so the Painter and his wifey could have an evening to theyselfs. She was pretty cute, crawling all around and making noise. She realized, when Wifey was changing her diaper, that Wifey was not Mommy and started looking frantically for mom and dad. I played a little guitar for her though and she quieted down and was soon snoozing. It was a pretty uneventful babysitting.

Nora has been growing a lot. She's getting more and more aware. She seems to smile on purpose now, though not consistently, and occasionally makes a little noise.

Work has been super busy the past week or two. I blame my lack of blogposts on that. It's exciting because we're working on some really cool projects but it's also stressful as I am the only programmer and pretty much every job calls for some programming. We're booked pretty heavy through the end of the year, given our small staff. Still lovin' it though.

Anyway, that's a short and boring update but nobody is gonna read this anyway. You're all just here for the pictures.

August 17, 2007

Quick Nora Video Post

So I don't get yelled at by our readers :P

Laptop Cooling Mod Walkthrough

(I will post a baby video immediately after this post so just hang on, you baby-crazy people! Gotta keep some posts on here for the nerds out there.)

My laptop gets hot. Really hot. When I'm running a resource-intense program I've seen the CPU (Central Processing Unit) temp hit 85 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that 100 degrees is boiling on the old "C" side of the thermometer. Electrical tape is compromised at 85 degrees Celsius. Running a computer, if it runs and mine doesn't, at that temperature for very long will ruin your circuitry.

I purchased a cooler pad shortly after I bought my laptop (it's almost 3 years old). However, the poor design of the machine means that the cooling pad doesn't help much at all. Something had to be done.

Here was my progression of ideas, starting with the most obvious and moving steadily to "technical:"
  1. Buy a cooling pad: didn't change the temp more than 3 degrees
  2. Replace the thermal paste: this did conduct the heat from the circuitry to the heatsinks better but the heatsinks were still not dissipating the heat quickly enough.
  3. Build an external fan: I built a small fan unit that assisted the internal fan by sucking more air from the exhaust port. This didn't work for two reasons. A: the moronic engineers allowed the monitor to cover 1/3 of the exhaust port while open, eliminating the ability to place an extra fan on the exhaust. B: it still didn't pull enough air and was inconvenient, requiring an additional power source.
Having exhausted the logical options I ventured into the more risky thought paths...cut a hole in the case to improve airflow. The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) has a large heatsink that sits right against the bottom of the laptop and has no fan. Most serious GPUs have a good fan that pulls air through the heatsink. If I cut a hole directly above (or below rather) the GPU heatsink I could either install a fan or just put in a screen for easier airflow.

I decided that if I were going to cut a hole in my laptop I may as well install a fan too. I tested the airflow of several fans I cannibalized from old motherboards and power supplies and selected a 12V .25A processor fan. It pushed almost as much air as both of my cooling pad fans combined...which can push 40cfm. Then I tested it with my laptop power supply to see if a 12 volt fan could handle 19.5 volts without immediately burning out. It did just fine.

I removed the bottom cover from my laptop and made sure there would be room to put the fan in without getting in the way of screw holes or other components. There was room for the fan but there was no way it would fit completely flush with the bottom, which meant that I would probably have to increase the size of the risers on the laptop too. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing as it would allow more air into the case.

I carefully drew in the fan dimensions and started cutting with a razor blade. The case appeared to be black plastic and I thought I could get a more controlled cut with a razor than with my dremel. However, the case turned out to be aluminum, which was surprising because it felt like sturdy plastic. I used my dremel with a grinding blade to cut a nice square and then trimmed the cut up with some jewelry files that Wifey had from some of her college art classes.

The cut turned out really nice, the fan fit so tight that I almost didn't need glue. I also found a fan cover in my boneyard (computer junk) that fit the fan perfectly to prevent accidentally getting fingers or anything else in the fan. I wired the fan into the main power supply right where it plugged into the motherboard and I had a working laptop fan.

To increase the riser size I took 4 thumbscrews (handy aluminum case screws that you can get from any computer store) and glued them where the previous risers were, putting little rubber bumpers on the bottom to make them nonskid.

At this point it was pretty late at night but I tested long enough to determine that I had been successful. The CPU had a resting temperature of 52 and a 20 min load temp of 65. Compare this with an original metric of 55-60 and 80-85 under load. Pretty cool, literally. However, there were some things I hadn't thought of.

I wanted the fan to only run if the laptop was on AC power. I assumed the battery charging mechanism would have diodes to prevent backflow of current from the battery towards the AC adapter port (where my fan drew). This was correct, so my fan only ran if it was plugged into the wall. What I didn't foresee, though it's obvious now, is that the fan would not turn off if the machine was powered down. The fan is also fairly loud. The ideal situation would be a potentiometer (POT) with an off position. Like a dimmer switch for a light that would control speed.

The next day I stopped at radio shack and picked up some POTs for testing from their limited selection. I picked up a pack of about 10 POTs that were small enough to fit in a modem port. This was the only feasible place on my slimline laptop to fit a switch or POT. That case is tight (which is what caused the heat problem in the first place). I tested several pots on the laptop power supply. Bad news. None of them could handle the voltage. One of them almost started on fire. As a backup plan I went back to the boneyard and found a tiny switch that would fit perfectly in the modem port.

Then I talked to a guy at a local electronics supply store. He said they didn't make POTs that could handle 5 watts of power for any sustained time that small. The problem is basically the same problem that my laptop had in the first place: not enough surface area to get rid of the heat buildup. Oh well, speed control would be cool but it's not that necessary.

I tried to install the switch after our Wed study. The soldering and switch install went well. However, when I tried to close the case I couldn't get the additional wiring to fit anywhere. It was simply to cramped. At midnight I gave up for the night, too tired and frustrated at such a simple obstacle to make progress.

I revisited it last night and revised the wiring, closed the case and booted up the machine within about 45 minutes.

Summary: I define the project as a success. It looks pretty nice, considering the size of the fan I installed. It keeps the laptop up to 25 degrees cooler (that is a LOT). Eventually, under load the heat will build up but if you take the load off the CPU the temp drops back down at the rate of about 2 degrees per 5 seconds. I also like the increased height. The keyboard is much more comfortable to type on, which was a positive side effect. Keep in mind that the fan isn't even installed on the CPU, it's installed on the GPU, which I suspect is far cooler but I have no way to measure it. I recommend not cutting into an 1,500 laptop if possible, but if heat is gonna kill your machine anyway....go for it :)

Image captions and notes:
  1. The processor with heatsink removed...applying new thermal paste (arctic silver).
  2. The fan and the location penciled in. I had already started to cut out the vent. Notice how poorly designed the vents are to actually get any airflow.
  3. The cutout, before smoothing with files.
  4. The fan, grill installed and mounted in case. Also, you can see the risers.
  5. Motherboard. You can see the CPU with heatsink and CPU fan remounted. GPU heatsink is the large silver thing. The fan sits directly above the angled fins. The AC power cord is sticking up into the air, it crosses over the top of the CPU fan.
  6. How I initially tapped into the power without soldering. I didn't want to solder on my actual motherboard. I had to change this method but I still did it without solder. I did solder the fan wires and switches, just no superheated metal near the motherboard.
  7. The completed laptop as it sits on the table, the fan hangs a few millimeters from the table at a slight angle so it's not trying to draw directly from the surface under it.
I haven't gotten pictures of the modem switch yet, which I am most proud of. Also, if you're wondering, the fan draws air in. I thought this would be a better system as it could then help the CPU fan out by offering more air to that fan. If they both blew out, they would be competing for intake through the poorly designed vents.

August 16, 2007


Using anti-bacterial soap at your house is a good thing, right? It sounds good. And anti-bacterial products fill the cleaning aisle at your local grocery store.

However, these products have a significant negative impact that is similar to the problem that overuse of antibiotics cause: bacterial mutation and decreased natural immunities.

Anti-bacterial soap typically uses Triclosen, which penetrates the cell wall of bacteria and kills something inside of it. The more often this occurs, the more likely that bacteria will adapt to resist this, which could reduce the effectiveness of many things that are supposed to kill bacteria when you really need to kill bacteria.

Remember in history class when you read about the Native Americans and how many were killed by diseases the Europeans brought? The locals had no immunity because they'd never been exposed to those diseases. We can recreate that effect to some extent by constantly disinfecting our surroundings and reducing our immunities while potentially strengthening the local bacteria.

Moral of the story: don't get all OCD with the Lysol and Purel. You were intelligently designed to resist the other elements in your environment long before convenient hand and counter-top sanitizers were invented. We should probably be more concerned about breathing the gases released by your car interior or the lead content in Fisher Price toys than the bacteria that 's hanging out on your doorknobs, toilet seats and counter-tops.

(read a study about this)

Now, excuse me. It's time for me to go feed Nora some dirt.

August 14, 2007

Get Rich Quick Scheme #3,654

A quick departure from baby pics for a geeky post:

Are you a slacker? Have you ever wanted to get rich quick but don't like to work for it? Let local children work for you!

Google has just released their Business Referral Program. Here's the summary of the program: Google is trying to increase their business listings on their Maps and Adwords properties with their obviously deep pockets. They will pay you $2 for each business in your local community that you provide information (such as hours and payment methods) about. You also must take a digital photo of the business. They send a postcard to the business asking them to confirm the data. If the business confirms the information you get another $8. So, you can potentially gain $10 per business listing that you supply.

Here's an equation I came up with to describe your potential riches (remember highschool math?):
d = ((n*p)*10) + ((n*(1-p))*2)
where n = business info collected
where d = desired earnings
where p = percentage business response

Here's how you leverage it. Recruit a few hundred kids from your local youth group or school. Create a treasure hunt contest where teams of a few kids go from street to street filling out a form and taking a photo with mommy's digital camera. The kids get one week to get as many sheets filled out as possible. Sheets can be turned in any time during the week. Any duplicate businesses only count on the first sheet to be handed in. Kids do not have to stay in their community. Create a few cheesy prizes based on total business sheets collected to give them a reason to compete.

Entering the data should only take a minute per sheet if you have decent typing skills.

Buy yourself something nice with the resulting treasure. Remember Jump Rope For Heart or those Magazine Subscription deals that elementary schools always sucker parents into? This is like that only you get rich :)

obligatory baby pic:

August 13, 2007

Write Your Own Caption

Kristy shot this while Nora was in mid yawn. Turned out pretty funny. She looks real mad like.

I'm sure you visitors can come up with some funny captions in the comments section.

August 6, 2007


(If you do not see a video window above this text you may need to install the latest version of macromedia flash)
Here's the first video of Nora. One Week old...sorry about the bad color quality. My video camera doesn't auto-adjust color very well and compression compounds the problem (I can give you a technical explanation of compression resampling if you really want it).

August 1, 2007

Nora Settles In

Here are a few more pictures of our new little treasure. We are being discharged from the hospital today. It's a good thing because we were both getting a little stir-crazy in this little hospital room.

I almost went back to work today but we have a lot of stuff to cart home and get settled. I plan on heading back to work tomorrow. I could take this whole week off but it's hard for me to go a whole week without working when I'm two minutes away from my job. Makes me antsy. Plus, we're hoping to take a trip to visit Wifey's family before the end of the year...gotta save a little vacation.

We had several visitors while we were in the hospital. Thanks to everyone who came and visited. Thanks also for cards, gifts and warm wishes. If anyone is wondering if there's anything we need, yes there is: experience! You should see me trying to figure out how to clean the plumbing on something that's squirming, kicking and (sometimes) crying. Dressing the little squirmer is also a challenge.

Visitors are welcome, let us know you're coming and you don't need to bring anything!

July 30, 2007

Welcome Nora Larene

Well, this is the post ya'll ladies have been waiting for. Enough of the geekery, let's see some BABIES!

Nora was born Sunday, July 29th at 10:59AM. She weighed 7lbs 12oz at birth and was 20.75 inches long. She's content, complete and healthy as far as we can tell!Kristy got up on Saturday morning and went to the parade with Mom, her mom, Sister and some others. I got up at 6 and helped dad work on his house. We finished up at about noon and I met Bro-in-law (BNL) at my house. We hung out in the basement and were playing some games on the computer. It was pouring rain outside and I suddenly noticed that the window well had filled up halfway in about 5 minutes! Water was beginning to seep into the basement.

BNL and I dashed outside and I jumped into the window well and started bailing water with a ~gallon bucket. The water was coming in faster than I was throwing it out so BNL brought me a trash can to bail with. I kept bailing while he tried to reroute the water. A trashcan full of water has some weight to it and I had to toss the water at least five feet past the edge of the well or it would just run back in, all of this while standing in waist deep water and mud.

Wifey called right before we noticed the window well filling up and said she was in light labor and was coming home. Wifey and Mother-In-Law (MNL) got home right after we had the window well cleaned out and were working on shoveling a trench to drain the water. They went down to the basement and moved some stuff around to avoid the water. Not very much got in.

After we got the situation somewhat under control I went to Dad's and got some flexi-tube to reroute the water from my downspout. I hooked that up and then took a shower in case we had to go to the hospital.

Kristy's labor was picking up but we wanted to wait until it was more serious before going to the hospital. I didn't want to take a nap because I wasn't sure I would wake up for a solid 8 hours.

At around 9PM we checked into the hospital and, after a brief stay in triage, settled in to our labor room. Kristy and I (mostly Kristy, I didn't have much of an opinion as it would be her pain) had decided to try for a natural birth so she declined the preparation for epidural, IV and other medication procedures.

Kristy initially moved through the labor process pretty quickly. By midnight it looked like we would be having a baby within an hour or two. Such was not the case. The hours slid by with Kristy having painful contractions and me trying to stay alert and be whatever support I could. I took quick snoozes here and there, or rather, fell asleep with my face on the bed rail. Mom, Dad, MNL, Sister and BNL were also in the hospital but Dad and BNL went home to get some sleep a little after midnight.

Kristy decided to allow the doctors to start an IV around 6AM, she was dehydrated and getting pretty exhausted. She also agreed to .5mg of Stadol, painkiller, as the contractions were getting excruciating.

Finally by 10AM we were making some progress. They had tried a few test pushes earlier but things just weren't ready. This time, it was for real. With the doctor, nurse and I helping, Kristy brought Nora into the world. It was hard for me to truly appreciate the miracle of birth because I knew how much Kristy was dealing with but it was still pretty amazing.

Nora's cord was wrapped around her foot, which cuts down on the blood supply from the cord, so she needed a little oxygen when she came out. I went down to the nursery with her, so they could monitor her heart and oxygen better, and rocked her for a few hours. I nearly rocked myself to sleep so I started calling people with the news to stay awake...I don't remember any of those conversations! When we were ready to go back they had moved Kristy into the postnatal room.

Anyway, that's pretty much the whole story. The birth was mostly-natural with just a little Stadol and oxygen. I tried to offer enough details (without too much information) to satisfy you ladies, hopefully these pics will hold you over until I can post some more.

PS: Her name: We liked Nora because it's not an unknown name, most people have heard the name but we don't know anyone named's unique. I liked Lorraine as the middle name and Kristy liked names that end in -ene because several of her family members have -ene middle names. We combined the two to end up with Larene. The last name was easy.

June 29, 2007

More than meets the eyes

Okay, lots of stuff has happened since the last post including work on our baby room, etc. However, I don't have pictures yet and don't have time to post much since I'm at work. We've spent most of our spare time lately doing much needed house-cleaning and other chores to prepare for the coming baby.

But I did this photo manipulation that I think is pretty fun so I wanted to share. The bright, Times Square picture at the beginning of this post is the original. In the darkened "robot invasion" revision below, I did all of the photo manipulation except the robot on the left. That includes the darkening effects, weathered billboards, explosion, the right robot, and lots of little subtle things to enhance the realism. The left robot was done by of my coworkers here at Local Creative.

I will post some pics from Chug, the baby room and other stuff as soon as I get a chance.

June 10, 2007

Turtle Rock x3

Whew! I've spent a lot of the week on (and occasionally off) two wheels. Saturday I helped dad frame his house from about 9 to 3:30. I wanted to go for a ride in the evening. Dad showed up at my house at 5:30ish wanting to go ride Turtle Rock (after hearing me talk about it). So we packed up and went for a ride. Afterwards we stopped by the Ames monument (highest point on the original transcontinental railway) and checked that out. Photo above.

I knew I wouldn't get a ride in the rest of this week so BertrandTheBold and I had talked about riding some of the Happy Jack trails in a little guide book he has today. We hooked up at about 2:30 with one of my coworkers from STP (Dizzney, see the post about Lorry State Park) and headed to the Lincoln Monument exit where the Tie City trailhead starts. Some reps from Trek and Specialized each had a little trailer set up with some demo bikes there. After we checked that out for a few minutes we hit the trail.

The Tie City trails consisted of lots of loops that all interconnect and end up back at the trailhead (for the most part). We just rode and rode until we had covered a lot of the loops. The trails were all up and down and very rocky. Tough to climb but worth it for the downhill. We finished up at Tie City but hadn't gotten enough. We threw the bikes in Dizzney's truck and headed over to Vedavoo.

We horsed around on the rocks at the base for awhile and then set out on Turtle Rock again (third time in a week for me). We quickly left that trail down a little offshoot and forded a stream to get to a trail that disappeared up into the trees. We climbed up through the trees and came out on a little ridge overlooking the East face of Vedavoo. BertrandTheBold and I were pretty eager to blast back down the trail we came up and the trail we were following had kinda petered out so we turned back and went-a-romping back down to the creek.

Across the creek again and we were getting pretty tired. We decided to complete Turtle Rock and call it a day. By the time we came out on the other side of Vedavoo we had probably ridden 10ish miles the hard way: up and down on pretty rocky trails. BertrandTheBold and I were pretty wiped but when we got back to the truck Dizzney was still romping all over the rocks. Kids! I took off my hydro-pack and pretty much just laid down on the pavement. Yeah, maybe I'm not in the best of shape.

Dizzney headed home. BertrandTheBold, Wifey and I grilled some burgers and brats and then I had a rootbeer float. Pretty darn close to an ideal day!

Anyway, I've posted pictures below.

Summit Loop crossroads, from Tie City

Summit Loop, scenic overlook crossroads (I-80 distant in background)

Dizzney on a rock outcropping

BertrandTheBold on the scenic overlook

Dizzney crossing the creek

Me on rock outcropping, Happy Jack general area in distance

Turtle Rock trail, west side, near sunset

June 8, 2007

Perception vs Reality

BertrandTheBold brought some Mountain Biking DVDs to work that show crazy professionals doing 30 ft drops and giant backflips off of jumps. When I looked at the picture of me riding down the rock (see last post) after seeing some of that footage I felt small, weak and scared :P

So I SPICED IT UP with a little photoshop magic. YEEEEEEEEhaw, that's more like it. Click the photo above for a larger image.

June 6, 2007

Vedavoo and Turtle Rock trail

As mentioned in yesterday's post, BertrandTheBold and I rode Turtle Rock trail at Vedavoo yesterday. Everything was [almost] perfect. We left work at 4, loaded up our bikes and headed out by about 4:30. It had rained at Vedavoo just enough to add some stickiness to the sand. The weather was just right, overcast and cool. The trail was also amazing. It is around 2 miles and loops around the backside of Vedavoo from East to West (or West to East, see, it's a loop). It has little uphill and downhill stretches that are a great balance of uphill cardio and downhill blasting. The trail is easy enough for mildly competent riders but features rock outcroppings that the most advanced riders can enjoy playing on.

The actual ride went very quickly because the loop was so short...we probably completed the two mile track in 35-40 minutes...taking our time. Then we just rode around on the rocks around the parking area for an hour or two: lots of fun stuff to play on. We didn't shoot many pics because we were having to much fun to stop. I have included the pics I took but none are spectacular. None of these images are from Turtle Rock trail. I didn't even take the camera out on that trail. The rocks are a blast for general rompery.

I've never been afraid of getting hurt but now I have a family to consider. I have developed a very bad habit of bailing on stuff I could ride out because these thoughts are in the back of my mind. This is actually worse than just riding it out because you land hard on your ankles, maybe trip and sprain wrists, and invaribly destroy your shins with sharp spinning pedals. It also is very hard on bikes. Case in point: I hopped a little rock yesterday at a pretty good clip. Upon landing, another rock that I didn't see before (blended in with the sand) was suddenly in front of me. This rock was roughly the height of a curb and about two feet across. Not a big deal. I can easily hop up a curb going very fast on a bike. It only requires a slight hop with the front wheel and your back tire will ride over it.

Instead of just riding over the rock I bailed, stepped on my bike as it was sideways on the ground, and smashed the rear dereulier into the rock. The rear shifting mechanism was bent bad enough that the spring-loaded little sprocket was rubbing on the wheel spokes. I was able to bend that part back pretty easily but part of the frame is bent. I need to disassemble the back gear system, reshape it, and then adjust my whole shifting system to accommodate the slightly-altered shape. Fortunately I'm pretty sure I can repair it.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I have always maintained that a fearful driver is more dangerous than an aggressive driver because indecision causes wrecks. The same thing applies to MTB: and now I have a bad habit of being indecisive on the trail. That's going to have to stop or I will destroy my bike before the summer's over.