Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Releases

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Press Releases: "NASA's twin Mars rovers, nearing the third anniversary of their landings, are getting smarter as they get older"

Wouldn't describe myself as a 'space nerd' but I sure like reading about the rovers sometimes. They cheer me up. I remember whoopin' when they landed successfully and started their mission. Now entering their 4th year and seemingly going strong, I'm pretty amp'd.

Now it's off to the gym for a coupla spin classes since a long ride outside looks out of the question on this snowy New Year's Eve.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cook's Thesaurus



Cook's Thesaurus: "The Cook's Thesaurus is a cooking encyclopedia that covers thousands of ingredients and kitchen tools. Entries include pictures, descriptions, synonyms, pronunciations, and suggested substitutions. "
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This is a pretty cool site. Where else can you find a list of "food wrappers" including everything from parchment paper to banana leaves, etc. I also idled over the edible flowers. Great place to surf if you like to cook at all.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I've been wondering ...


What guidelines or rules cyclocross course designers use when they think up courses. Around here (including KS and IA) it seems the view of 'cross is truly that of some sort of hybrid road/mtb thing as evidenced by the inclusion of single-track and course parts less than the minimum 3 meters in width specified by the USCF rulebook (p. 96). There also seems to have been some liberty taken with the "course shall be rideable in all conditions" rule. For example, riding down that steep hill at Jingle Cross would have been even more sketchy had it been muddy. What do you all think? Do we have our own style of 'cross going on around here which is along the lines of "do you think they can ride this with those bikes...." (cowboy cross) mindset, are course designers just unaware of the rules, or what? Moreover, if you were to design your ideal cross course, what would it include/omit?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Alltel Amy saves the day

OK. I still don't like Alltel (or other telcoms and insurance companies [neve_r_rest explains why*]), but I like Amy. She's calm and actually customer oriented. So even tho it took nearly two hours I'm not so mad at Alltel anymore and my communication device has been upgraded and works great. Today was a good example of how critical having the right people on the front lines can make or break the customer/company relationship. I walked in there ready to throw fits and fury all day if necessary, even maintain an 'i hate alltel' blog if it seemed like it would help, but because it seemed like Amy actually cared about my problem and wanted to solve it, I chilled. She made a solution happen and I was pacified.

* See previous Alltel post comments

Allhell all the time

I'm feeling persecuted by my cell phone company - Alltel. I'm on the third day of trying to get my phone replaced. Day 1: I phone tech support about the problem. Tech support troubleshoots and tells me to go to my local shop. I do that. The local shop uses an hour of my time to tell me I need to call tech support to use the mail-in exchange program. I return home and phone tech support again. After navigating the menus and finally getting a live person I am told they can't do a mail-in exchange because they don't have my phone model any more. I will need to go to my local shop (56th & Cotner) and they will either exchange my phone for a similar model or send it in for service. Day 2: I go to the local shop and am told there's a 45 minute wait to speak with a representative but if I go to one of the branches in the mall, they can help me. I explain my problem and ask the guy if the small branch folks have the authority to do what I need done. He says they do. I ask him again just to verify this. He again confirms. Off to the mall to discover the "(non) service centers" are not actually part of Allhell and so don't warranty phones not sold by their specific small service center. He refers me back to the shop at 56th & Cotner. I am so mad by this time that all I can imagine is slamming my useless cell phone into his overly broad forehead, but the most I actually do is quietly tell him how much I hate his company and how useless his nonservice center is. He retorts that another customer was just in before me and "he loves Alltel. says it's the best company out there," and he's tried them all. I wonder if the cell providers colluded, agreeing to all treat customers like total crap. At 9am this morning, day three of this saga will commence. The good news is I am not alone in my unhappiness.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Vacation Reading

Besides some long gravel rides, I'm spending my time over xmas break reading a book called "Naked Conversations." This book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel addresses and promotes corporate blogs. In fact, they chalk up part of Microsoft's kinder, gentler representation of late to the many blogs created and maintained by MS employees. They claim the blogs have helped MS haters to see that MS is a company made up of individual people like everyone else instead of the evil Borg. I don't know that I buy this allegation, but it makes a little sense. Although, I must say that I consider MS less of a monopolistic threat because of the ever-rising dominance of Google. In any case, it's an interesting read and one thing I really do like about corporate blogs is it provides a personal contact with the company. I am so sick of being shuttled through phone systems (Have you ever tried to call a local Alltel location??? The guy on tech support at the 1-800 # couldn't even get it done.) and combing through websites w/o contact information that I find an active, corporate blog to be a refreshing point of contact. Moreover, I would say that a company that is chicken to blog and let the public comment if they will, needs to review its business. (Allhell all the time is a blog idea I'm toying with this week....but I'll try and stay off that topic - gets me all riled up.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Strength training paying off


Naw, this isn't my arm, it's Linda Hamilton's (Terminator II days), but I'm finding the strength training to already be paying off and am learning to apply the extra power to my pedal stroke . I can also do more sets of full out knuckle pushups, which as you know is a very important life skill. ;)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Hoss, u gotta mighty fine eye ...


If u haven't been by RURALincline, u should check it out. The man's got some talent with a camera.

Hmm. What's she trying to say here?

Well, I got some good xmas presents, the best of which might be the first aid kits from my sis. Yes that's a plural. I got one big one with a handle and everything and then a travel one. She said I should carry it with me on my bike. I wonder why??? You'd think I had a reputation for tire side up or something. ;) Hope y'all had a great christmas and are looking forward to the new year. I know I am. Also, get outside and ride. In fact, Mod's got a contest running for the month o January. (See MTB Omaha, 12/20 post "Let's Have Some Fun".)

Friday, December 22, 2006

More X-training


Last night I got into the pool for 50 minutes of laps after 30 min of running and a strength building weight lifting session. It was the first time I've swam since last winter and I'd forgotten I kind of like it.

"Swimming is a very aerobic sport," says John McVan, aquatic specialist at Iowa State University in Ames."
I also forgot my goggles and I definitely need a new swimsuit, but it was a good change of pace. I didn't go all out but rather just kept my heart rate in the endurance zone and relaxed. It's almost hypnotic to go back and forth across the pool.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Spinning class


So when Kyle started basketball in the YMCA league, they gave us a week's free pass and last nite I tried out a spinning class at Cooper Y. Of course, I didn't really do the class so much as sit-in and do my workout and watch how the class went. Don't know if the one's I saw were representative samples, but it was pretty cool and way more fun than sitting on the trainer at home. Got in a little over 2 hrs that way. Also saw several friends there so that was fun too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Riding gravel in the dark


I'm still a little fatigued from last night's ride. I was scheduled for 3.5 hours of zone 2 riding, so headed east from 84th & Van Dorn and looped around to the west side of Lincoln via Saltillo, Roca and finally the Jamaica trail and back to home again. While I stayed plenty warm, I need to focus more on hydration. It's hard to remember to drink when it's chilly, but I always know when my body is getting desperate for it because dehydration gives me a headache.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It lives!


This Monkey isn't going to try and be anything but the mtb it is and with its full-on 29ers I think it's ready to roll over about anything. ;)

Basketball ....



So Kyle and I go to the basketball game Sunday afternoon and it was really a lot of fun. Kyle is a total bb nut and kept me up to date on whether they were playing man-to-man or zone as well as when I ought to be impressed by a particular play or not. He also demonstrated what sorts of noises one should make when opposing players were attempting free throws. Despite all the learning that took place, I still managed to have a good time and greatly admire the athletic grace of the players. They seem to float and just scoop the ball out of the air and all that. It was really much cooler in person that it looks on TV and it motivated me to play a little bb with Kyle and Erik tonight at the Y. Well.... there's a reason I was track and not basketball or volleyball or any sort of thing where objects come flying at one's head or must be thrown at something/one else. I stink. It takes most of my concentration to resist closing my eyes, covering my head with my arms, and awaiting impact. A certain peanut in the gallery who leads spin classes at the Y even had the audacity to say I "shoot like a girl." Really? Shocker. I would also like to go on the record with saying said peanut and Kyle are both fancy schmancy 3-point swooshing show-offs. Although, I have to say Kyle really did his best to teach me to shoot better, and I really did try to be a good student, and concentrate like he said, but my teleportation powers are weak and I was unable to get the ball to go through the net. Maybe next time the force will be stronger with me.

Monday, December 18, 2006

new to me .... an ad to make u snort your coffee


OK. This is a really funny ad longstinger shared with me. Make sure you watch and listen to the song too. It could be that I'm the last to check this out, but I felt I needed to share it just in case I wasn't. I guarantee it will alter your Monday perspective. I should note it's a bit bawdy and perhaps NSFW, but it's really funny.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ah... new running shoes

Missed my ride today so decided to give my new running shoes their debut, and all I can say is that I love to run. Sometimes I forget, or am injured, or whatever, but nothing, not even my much loved two-wheeled conveyances, can replace the steady rhythm of the feet, the breathing and the sheer simplicity of going for a run.

I remember learning to run. I don't mean as a toddler, but the first time I focused on my form to be faster. It was in kindergarten. I went to a one-room schoolhouse near Norfolk and an older kid, Jeff, said to me during lunch recess, "Sydney, you run pretty good, let me show you how to run faster." And he did. He showed me how to use my arms better and after that I worked on it. I even remember a time I got out of the car and asked my mom to drive beside me and see how fast I went with the speedometer. She said 10 miles per hour and I was quite satisfied, but she might have been making me feel good. No matter. It was enough to keep me running and it sort of foreshadowed a time in high school when I didn't feel like running because it was cold and dark out, and I asked her to drop me off in the dark out on a country road so I'd be forced to run 'cuz I had to get home. She did and I did. How many moms would do that? My friend Jeff and I also used to jog on the way home. He would tell me how to breath and on my last day before we moved to Battlecreek, NE, he told the second-grade me to keep running and that I was "as fast as anyone - don't let those city-kids scare you." Thanks for your encouragement and advice Jeff. I hope life has treated you well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Finally feeling a little Christmas cheer


You know, it just wasn't happening for me ... the whole xmas happiness UNTIL my friend and coworker sent me this link. Made me smile and now I think it's time to make some creme de menthe bars, shop a bit, wrap some presents and enjoy it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What were u doing June '83?

Here's me ropin' out at Fort Robinson. What you see here is a breakaway roping. It's for youth and points for the world show are earned for placing. Someone had asked my dad if he would enter me to increase the number of participants and consequently increase the number of points for the winner. It's known as "filling" a class. Anyway, Dad said sure, put me on his horse, and sent me to the box. I ended up winning it. I think it's a good example of visualization (training and learning in your mind) because although I had watched my dad a million times b/c I was stuck manning the chute, I'd never practiced or even wanted to do it. My brain just recorded the actions and when shoved into the fray made the body execute them. I do a lot of visualization on my bike because it's really only in your head where you can practice perfectly. So, I try to practice taking corners, reride bits of cross-courses, or see how to apply a strategy or skill in my head. I find this a good occupation while on the trainer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

hmmm... how will this turn out?

speak

CONGRATS COUSIN!

Just heard the news that my cousin Charles, who is one of the nicest guys I know, managed to make it through special forces training. This is pretty special because quite honestly, there were a few of us who thought maybe Charles was too nice to become a ranger, but not only did he prove us way wrong, but he exceeded his original ambition.
===============
Sydney - Your blog about Charles is almost correct. He joined the Army to become a ranger. Out of his platoon of 65 men in BASIC he alone qualified to try out for Special Forces training. Only about 1/3 of those trying out passed the Special Forces basics to go on with Special Forces Training. Special Forces is way above Rangers in prestige and training, two different units completely.
0x0x0x0, mom
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And by the way, my cousin has wanted to be a soldier since he was a real little kid and regardless how you might feel about the military, you gotta salute a guy's follow-thru.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tagged

Hmm. Amanda is callin' me out. I guess among bloggers if you get tagged then u have to reveal 6 things about yourself that most people don't know. Hmm.

+ I used to be shy. In fact, being so worried about other people thinking I was dumb kept me from asking the bike shop guys about racing my mtn bike in the early 90s.

+ I love doing cookies in parking lots with my car.

+ My "most fun ever" list includes riding my horse bareback and racing him as fast as he could go through Pioneers Park as well as taking my dad's Yamaha 750 out on south 14th at night and opening the throttle way up.

+ I hate slasher/horror movies.

+ Like Squirrel, I spent some time as a meth head.

+ Although disorganized in general, I like all the hangers in my closet going the same way and all the things hung on them facing the same way (fronts towards me). I have to be careful with this b/c if I think about it too much then I start wanting them the same distance apart, so sometimes I purposely have the fronts of two shirts facing each other. Egads! The stress of it all.

So.... I'm gonna tag CVO, cornbread, endurosnob, bluno, aaron and monkeygirl. Lessee if they're game.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Can't sleep...


One drawback of getting into good condition is that if you don't burn off enough energy it can be difficult to sleep, at least for me. All I did Friday was commute and lift weights. So here I sit sleepless. It's not a total loss though. I've made some progress on a report I have to do for work. I know, I know, you're jealous of my exciting Friday night.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Nutrition and Countin' Calories



OK. I'm gonna fess up and let you all know that I track just about everything I eat most days and have done this for a really long time. I do this because I want to make sure I am getting enough protein, calcium, etc. as well as monitor caloric intake. Monitoring can be a real pain, but several online sites have made it a lot easier. For losing weight, I think Spark People is the best, followed by My Food Diary. SparkPeople is free and has recipe management, along with providing menu suggestions, shopping lists, etc. along with a lot of support for reaching one's goals. It would be super easy to use if one followed the provided menus.

I'm kind of a cook tho and the most efficient site for someone who uses their own recipes is Calorie-Count, another free site. The drawback of this site, however, is that it doesn't generate shopping lists. My current set-up is a mix of using the nutrition tracking system in Training Peaks. The Training Peaks tracker not the handiest system, but when combined with a recipe, shopping list, menu planning site like Recipezaar, it works plenty good. All of the tracking sites provide an exercise management interface that takes your basal caloric needs + those expended during exercise and finds the difference between what you've consumed and what you've burned.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh yeah... bring it on mo'nature


Last night I flipped the hub to fixed and dug out the winter gear and all I got to say is bring it on mo'nature, bring it on -- as soon as I get a balaclava, that is.

Brrrr....

4 degrees???! It's not even winter yet. Guess I'll be trying out the winter weather setup on this morning's commute.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Eating healthy with beer

Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but the good chicken breasts are dang pricey these days, especially this "SmartChicken" stuff I like. But thanks to my mom, I've found a way to keep it in the budget.

The other day my mom tells me to pick up a couple of chickens because she is going to make Beer Butt Chicken. I'm like, what? "Oh it's good, bring the chickens." So, I stop by the store and discover an entire chicken costs about the same as or even less than a package of two good sized chicken breasts. Who knew? Not this flunky. Anyway, it's super easy, tasty, and healthy since you're not frying or marinating in any oil.

Basically, rub your chicken down with seasoning, get a can of cheap beer, cut off the top, stick up the chicken's cavity, plug the neck hole with a wet paper towel, set it in a pan and bake it for an hour or so. I used that Montreal Grilled Chicken seasoning, a can of Miller High Life and some garlic, and an oven set at 375 degrees for about 80 minutes. I also baked a loaf of Lazy Irish Beer Bread at the same time. I did substitute wheat bran for about 1/4 c of the flour and added a tablespoon or so of rosemary to make the bread more flavorful. Turned out great with a side of baked sweet potatoes with ginger. You have any favorite cheap, easy, and HEALTHY recipes?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How about a little '07 pressure???

Well, I've been getting some coverage this season and feel a little queasy. I mean nothing like people noticing you're making progress to make you feel like you gotta keep makin' it. But that's OK, when I don't feel like riding, stretching, or lifting, I think about it and how fast and strong this chick was and get motivated.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Missed podium by one

Link
Well, the first UCI experience was a good thanks to Barb loaning me her Badger again (THANK YOU). Although my pedals crammed with frozen mud and grass, and I couldn't get clipped in on the last lap after a railroad tie run up, I managed a fourth place finish (and no falls despite someone crashing right in front me). Catherine got third and a woman from Colorado road a scorching race and easily tromped us all for first. I know Catherine and I would both have done better if we could have solved the pedal problems as she suffered from clip-in issues as well. Who knows?

BUT, what's more important, is that next time it's mucky in spots but with below freezing wind chill, I'm going to make sure my cleats and pedals are freshly cleaned and coated with non-stick cooking spray. In fact, whenever there's mucky bits, I may utilize the spray. Troy, who won the men's 1/2/3s, said it worked great for him. I'm also going to see if I can figure out a way to have a second bike to ride a half lap while someone cleans up the main bike. A couple of guys had spare bikes all set to go and swapped 'em out as the mud froze on them and made them heavy.

All in all, it was a good time, got to see some cool friends and meet some wonderful new people. The final race for the Maxxis series is January, so that'll be last. I thought Saturday's race was the final one, but was mistaken. Today is a weight-lifting day, so I may be whining tomorrow. No, not really. The gal that won it rides for Maxxis and was so lean, strong and fast that it was inspiring. Gonna lift those weights and ride those miles so I can look and be like that next year. Make it a great day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

2nd to catherine on the SS yesterday. Sunny, windy and very cold today. I race my first UCI race at 1. Course is icy and rough.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Woo hoo! Gonna see some good friends soon ...



I am so amp'd .... bruises don't hurt, no more swelling in the eye, feelin' real good to race this weekend AND my good friends Tammy and Bernie are comin' back for xmas from San Fran. This pic is from the Bigfoot Lounge where they have this internet hooked up juke box that Bernie and I commandeered for an evening. Played it like a slot machine and when the right song comes up, they do this. We had a blast. :D