Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday dawned dreary, overcast and cool. Temperatures only reached the mid 50s. I checked the weather radar and saw no rain in the area and decided to go for a row. The change in weather while lowering the temperature also calmed the winds and the water was smooth and flat. I wasn't sure how long I wanted to row so I headed out and decided to play it by ear. The Occoquan was mostly deserted, which is a good thing. The cool temperature kept the fisherman with their outboard motor boats at home. That equals no wakes. And yes, there are fisherman who being bored with fishing, will deliberately wake rowers. I rowed up to Fountainhead and I was feeling good so I decided to row up to Ryan's Dam another half mile up river. Once there I decided to go another half mile to make it a four and a half miles each way and a round trip row of 9 miles. On the way back, my stroke came together and the boat was flying along without manhandling on my part. It was definitely the best row of the year so far. I can't wait to get back out and see if I can replicate what I did on Sunday. I like to think that every time I go out, I learn a little bit more about what makes the boat move. It's the eternal quest to find the perfect stroke and rhythm. After I got back to the dock, the George Mason Men's Crew Team was at their boathouse. I assumed they were unloading their boats from a regatta they had been to the day before although that may be or may not be the case. As I was returning my single to the racks, I ran into their coach who said they were preparing a YouTube moment. What they were preparing to do was tow a rower on a wakeboard behind one of their 8+s. There has always been debate on the rowing community whether you could, in fact, water ski behind an 8+. An 8+, unlike a power boat, does not provide constant power. The boat coasts during the recovery part of the stroke. The Mythbusters did a segment on it where one of them did ski behind the Stanford Men's Collegiate 8+. So I guess as a fun activity to break up their practices and competing, the coach decided it would be a good idea to try it. So I hung around to watch what would happen. remember the temperature was only in the 50s and the water isn't much warmer than that. On their first attempt, the wakeboarder (they were launching him right from the dock) , made it about 4 strokes before he lost his grip on the tow rope and went into the water. He did make it up though if only for a moment. The second time was better with him staying up for about 10 strokes before ending back in the water. There were more attempts i think, but it was time to head home. It was fun to watch though. The rest of the day was spent just relaxing. i watched the nationals beat the Cubs and win the series. Then I watched the Chipmunk movie. It was kind of cute. It was interesting to watch the Special Featurette on how the Chipmunks came to be. It's hard to believe they're 50 years old. Now that makes me feel old.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday turned out to be a perfect spring day with temperatures in the 70s. Since I work from home that day, I rushed over to Sandy Run during my lunch hour for a quick row. As I suspected the boathouse was locked up. Most people tend to row before or after work, so I unlocked it and dragged out a rack that holds 5 singles. I grabbed a boat and headed out. Usually when I row I don't have any time constraints and I can row as long as I like, but since I was on my lunch hour, I couldn't be out all that long. So I did a 6 mile row. Given time to drive to and from, get the boat out and row took me about 2 hours. I added an hour at the tail end of my work day to make up the time. Next time I'll try just 4 miles and see how that works. It was a great day to be out on the water though. There was a some debris on the corners of the lake, which is common after heavy rains, but I manged not to hit anything. Even better when I got back to the dock, someone was waiting and offered to take my boat out so I didn't have to wash it and put it away. Score!
Thursday at work was a designated clean up day. A day to get long overdue filing done and generally throw away those old files you haven't looked at in two years. Management went all out for us providing us with both breakfast and lunch. For breakfast it was homemade waffles. Two of the bosses manned waffle irons keeping us full. They also had donuts and some fruit. For lunch they ordered up over 30 pizzas of various types. It seemed like all I did all day was eat. I hardly wanted dinner. Not that I skipped it or anything. I'll need some extra rowing or biking this weekend.
In Virginia we have a requirement to get our cars inspected once a year. This month our minivan was due for its inspection. I was worried it might fail as the van now has over 50,000 miles on it, but still has the original tires. They still have some tread, but it's not like they're brand new. My worries proved unfounded and the van passed so it's good for another year. Yea!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday was just beautiful. Sunny and warm. A perfect day for a bike ride. Ann poses with our bikes before we head off to the W&OD Trail. Note she decided it was ok to wear one of her bike jerseys this time.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday I went in for a follow up exam on my eyes. My eyes have been giving me problems since January. They've been very irritated plus my eyelashes were scratching my cornea. My eyes were better despite requiring a few more eyelashes to be plucked and the decision was made to try and fit me with some new contacts. I've been wearing glasses now for over 15 years and I've never really liked them. I tried hard contact lenses for awhile, but I couldn't keep them moist enough and I'd have to take them out after 4 or 5 hours. I also have pretty severe astigmatism, which up to now made most soft contacts and Lasik unsuitable. Technology continues to advance and my Doctor wanted to try some new contacts that are part hard lenses and part soft lenses. He fitted me with a pair and wow I could see. Currently my glasses can't correct my vision to 20/20. These new lenses will. The contacts are now on order and I should have them in about a week. It should make a big difference on how I see the world.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The row went well. I got some good run for my first time out. I think sculling in a single is a lot like learning to ride a bike. It takes time learning to balance and you'll probably flip a time or two into the water as your learn, but once you master it you never forget how to do it. I rowed seven miles up to Fountainhead Park and back. I can say that my conditioning needs a lot of work and my hands show the result of it being the first row of the season. My calluses from last year are long gone and my hands are pretty soft. My right hand came through pretty well, but I had two spots on my left hand that blistered and tore. They're a bit tender this morning. They should callous over in time. It definitely felt good to be back on the water and I'm already looking forward to my next time.
It's impossible to row from Sandy Run on Saturdays in the spring due to high scchool crew and thier regattas are held on Saturday. Saturday's forecast wasn't great (cloudy), but it looked like an opportunity to get in a bike ride. I semi-guilted Ann in coming along with me even though it meant lsitening to whining about how she wasn't in enough shape to do a 20 mile ride. Whatever girl. So we loaded up the bikes and headed out to the W&OD Trail. We chose our usual entry point at Rt 28 in Ashburn area.
It was pretty chilly starting out and I regretted not wearing a sweatshirt, but then the sun came out and warmed things up nicely. About 3.5 miles into our ride toward Leesburg, we reached Ashburn Road and Ann asked for a break. The stop features an old Country Store that serves freshly cooked BBQ. We've never tried it since we usually bike early in the morning way before lunch, but does it ever smell good.
The t-shirt Ann is wearing is a hand me down from Daughter#1 and her first year of crew - as a freshman in 1995. It's from the Cherry Blossom Regatta up on the Potomac. That's how old that shirt is. Now Ann has two nice biking jerseys, including a brand new one from her alma mater, but she didn't want to wear either one. Why? She didn't want people to think she was a hard core biker that was pathetically out of shape. Like she was a poser or something. She's weird sometimes.
At this stop you can also buy antiques and get your bike repaired. The bike shop (by the tent) is fairly new, but what a great location.
After 53 minutes of riding, we reached the Leesburg Community Center where we rested and used the bathroom before heading back. It also gives Ann some time to whine about how tired she is and how she'll never make it back to the car alive.
Our fearless rider back at the car at the end of our 20 mile ride. We made it back in 50 minutes. The times were pretty slow even for us, but it was our first time out and the times will come down.
We finished our ride around 11:30 and we had nothing back at home to eat for lunch so we were going to have to eat out. Fortunately, right off the W&OD Trail resides the Old Dominion Brewery and Brew Pub. They even have a sign right on the trail so they do cater to bikers. I convinced Ann that going there for lunch was a good idea even if we look a bit of a mess and both had helmet hair. So we motored over to the Brew Pub. For those not familiar with Virginia law, one can not strictly operate a bar and sell alcohol. In order to do so, one must sell food or in reality be a restaurant. I don't know the exact percentage, but a certain percentage of revenue must come from food sales. Old Dominion wanted to be able to sell their beers directly to the public along with sales in stores, hence the Brew Pub. It's located in a industrial park therefore the outside isn't very imposing, but the food is very good and the beers even better. It was a nice way to end up the ride.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
And here is the front and garage doors with the first coat of paint. Around the bay window also is about half painted. The area around the front door has also received some new paint. We're pleased by the way it looks and even our next door neighbors complimented us on it.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Erg class was a bit different this week as we had a substitute instructor. In our regular class, we erg for about 45 to 50 minutes to music with the songs being of variable length with the instructor varying the intensity at which we are erging (say half pressure or full pressure, etc.). We usually get 20 to 30 seconds between songs to grab some water. Yesterday we did a series of four minutes on full pressure and three minutes off. We did seven of these with warm-up and cool down periods before and after. It was quite intense and the last two cycles were quite the challenge. Our instructor also kept upping the stroke rate during each piece. It was different so it wasn't boring, but not something I'd like doing every week.
The reason our normal instructor was absent was that she was attending the wedding of one the former members of our rowing club. So, congratulations Mel!
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Yesterday we finalized plans to have some painting done on the exterior of our house. It's not a lot since we have siding on the house. Just the area around our front door, the garage door and the cinder block on the sides and back of the house. We're trying a new painter, which we'll see how that goes. We need to go buy the paint today and it's suppose to be done on Tuesday. After meeting and agreeing to terms with the painter, we headed out to lunch and had some BBQ and then to Target for some odds and ends. We just goofed off the afternoon and went out and had pizza with The Son for dinner.
A week or so ago when I came into work, someone had put out starter kits for Amish Friendship bread. In an obviously weak moment or maybe since it was early morning and I was still half asleep having just woken up from my long commute in and hungry to boot, I decided to grab a bag and give it a try. After following the directions, which take about a week and half before you get around to baking it, I was ready to bake the bread Friday night. Here is the bag with the starter mix in it as I get started.
I kept adding ingredients, flour, milk, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, etc. until it was ready to mix together.
It only took a few minutes to stir everything together and have it form a thick sticky batter.
I filled two bread baking dishes with the batter and into the oven they went.
After an hour they were finished. I think they could have used another few minutes though. It tastes sweet and not unlike banana bread.
Part of the recipe calls for saving starter kits to give to friends and relatives. Hence the friendship part, I assume. I didn't save the four they called for, but just kept one for ourselves in case we decide we like it enough to make more. Time for another piece.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Daughter#1 is back in Connecticut after taking some time off and going to Florida. In a little deja vu along the lines of Daughter#2 and her trip, Delta delayed their 7:00PM flight until 10:30PM with actual take off at 11:05. Needless to say, she didn't get home until about 2:30 in the morning. I'm sure she appreciated that. While she was gone, we had some work done on her car. She has been driving around with her "Check Engine" light on for quite a while. Turns out her catalytic converter was no longer functioning. $$$ Also her brakes were basically metal on metal - front and back $$$ Her tires were also worn out and she somehow had managed to dent two of her rims. $$$ Ouch.
Today being Wednesday, it's my day to make dinner. I also have to bring in food for work tomorrow. I usually just buy various baked good for people to nibble on and, in fact, I have bagels and donuts already bought, but today I'm going to try baking some bread to take in. We see how it turns out given my limited baking skills.