Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bicycling the Flagstaff Airport


There is a dusty fire road that circles the Flagstaff Airport that I've been wanting to check out. I found it on a Strava "Heat Map," which shows where other Strava users have traveled. After riding from my house on a series of forest roads and single track over to Highway 89A, I determined that the highway was too busy with vehicular traffic to safely bicycle so I crossed the interstate and found the beginning of the path in an industrial park. It's an extremely rugged "jeep road" but easily doable on a mountain bike.

It offers the best place for plane spotting that I have found. The security of the terminal area makes it inconvenient, but there are some great perspectives on the far side of the runway for takeoffs and landings, all outside the fencing. I got to watch two regional jets take off and one land. It seems tourism is back in session after the COVID-19 closures.

Solid ride. I have recovered from my Special Pain episode last weekend.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday at Last

Photo apropo to nothing. Ocoee Lake #3 in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The photo surely taken from a mountain bike trail.

The country is having another one of its periodical tantrums. Everybody needs to remember that violence usually begets more violence.

There are thunderstorms north of town this afternoon, looming but so far not raining here. Is that a metaphor? I'm withdrawn from the controversies as I have enough of my own problems.

It's been a busy 4 day week. It's Friday at last and I am planning to do nothing much this weekend. Sometimes that is best.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Cat on a Hot Tin Leash

I think I finally found my solution to the kitty running amok.
Young cats are adaptable. He doesn't like it but he's taking it better than I thought he would. I'm keeping it fairly snug right now but will probably gradually loosen it as he comes to see it as normal. Unfortunately he tried to climb the privacy fence into the neighbor's yard again (he's been over there twice before). The leash restricted him but apparently he hasn't completely gotten the point yet.

Very, very busy at work today.

Thursday. Brace yourselves, the weekend is coming.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Fine Young Cannibals

The Fine Young Cannibals provide the soundtrack for this afternoon's work session in my screen-door garage. Their second album, The Raw and the Cooked, was important for me for about 3 or 4 years from age 15 to whenever I graduated high school.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18664465
FYC are most known for their huge international hit "She Drives Me Crazy." Unfortunately this is a misrepresentation of their music. The band was actually a 60s-style British Soul and Motown act, albeit with a few modern synth sounds and drum machines. The second track, and second biggest hit from the album, Good Thing, is a much better representation of their catalog.

I assume the record company got a pop producer to rework She Drives Me Crazy from whatever it originally sounded like into the beeping, clacking, synth-pop single that was released. The recording industry is a strange place but they made a lot of money.

In my opinion, the entire album is very listenable. Unfortunately they couldn't get along and did not continue producing hits.

Wednesday - keep going.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lovecraftian Nightmares


I had to take a 10 mg dose of Melatonin last night to get to sleep, what sleep is provided by the fake half-lucid state that it sometimes invokes. This has sometimes been accompanied by psychedelic dreams but the ones last night featured endlessly changing images, especially faces rapidly transforming from normal to horror movie ghouls about four times a second, or so it seemed. Another feature though, was that time seemed to stretch so that I would look at the clock, fall back into the trance state, and then wake again and see only 4 minutes had passed. This is why I don't use melatonin more often. Sometimes it's harmless but other times it's a horror movie.

Nonetheless my week is off to a relatively good start, my mood is positive, and I am productive.

Another short week. Peace be with you and mind the melatonin.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Making Memories

Sunset Crater


Remembering a time
around 1987
when I wanted to be in this place
with someone I love
and have a picnic
and sit in the shade on the prairie
and look at the mountains
and now I have lived it


Remember also the fallen on this Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Special Pain

Ski area closed due to COVID-19. It's strange to think people were up here skiing and snowboarding around this time last year.

On really long, difficult bike rides I have sometimes experienced what I call special pain. I think this is the same thing that marathoners report around or after mile 20, when things start to hurt in ways that differ from normal exercise pain. For me, it is pain that is not like lactic acid burn, but sometimes takes other forms such as pressure, surging sensations, or deep disturbing pain in the large muscles. It also includes pain in unusual places that don't normally hurt.

I got that today but made it all the way to the top of Snowbowl Road. I'm home now and don't feel right and have difficulty walking. Usually elevating my legs for a few minutes is enough to get rid of this but it didn't work so I got the foam roller stick. I'm a little better now but I think two rest days are probably in order. I'm also looking forward to supper.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3506660051

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Death by Allergies

It's spring and I'm sneezing. Yet tonight there will be a hard freeze. I guess I'll put off the telescope for another day or two. Time to bring in the plants.

Walk this evening with lady, dog, and kids.


At the encouragement of my manager I decided to take off Friday so it's a nice, short week, and will be followed by another short week. One more day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Music for the Afternoon

One of the oldest CDs in my collection, and one of my favorites, dating back to the early 90s.

Seal's first album is one of the best debut albums ever, in my opinion. It must be appreciated in its context, which is at the end of the synth era of British pop music. Seal brought an element of soul to the format. It was a new sound at the time. I think it is his best LP. Like many artists, there was a vitality and youthful energy to his music that proved difficult to reproduce later, though maybe he didn't want to.

Production on first albums is frequently lessened, with more of a focus on getting good sound quality in the recordings rather than embellishing them with complex production and more instruments. I prefer this sound for almost any genre of music and could easily list a number of other artists with top albums as a debut followed by increasing bland material.

Seal went on to record a number of great songs after this album, and he sold a lot, but the music ran slower and less energetic for the most part. I still like his music though, and I think he has a great sensibility for melody and has a good, though unusual turn of phrase as a lyricist. He writes most of his own music and his catalog is very respectable.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Going Uphill

A view of Baderville from Snowbowl Road, my favorite local mountain to ride up on a bicycle.

I greatly enjoy riding my bicycle up mountains. Although it is a mountain bike, and meant for dirt trail, I usually prefer to ride mountains on pavement. I like trail too but not for going uphill. In my opinion, it is more dangerous to ride on roads than to be off on some mountain biking trail. You can't get hit by a car on a trail. On the other hand, it is certainly a more enjoyable surface to ride upon for such an undertaking. Climbing on single track is truly exhausting. By climbing on the road, you can climb much longer and get into that state of flow that is sometimes called the Runner's High.

In the sport of bicycle racing, there are different disciplines. This is an analogy to track and field where some people are good at long distance running, others at short sprints, others still at long jump, etc. When I got into bicycling (as an adult) I hoped to be a "mountain specialist," because I loved mountains and enjoyed watching the mountain stages of the Tour de France and Giro D'Italia, but that was not meant to be. I enjoy climbing but I'm not good at it at all.

If I were into racing, which I'm not, then I would have been a sprinter. Using the Strava smart phone app, I learned that I can put out tremendous wattage for a short distance but climbing doesn't work as well. To be fair, if I were racing I would definitely maintain a lower body weight and presumably be better, but I still think I was born to be a sprinter. That's the way it was with running, and it seems to be true for bicycling as well.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3468992647

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Masses

Fisher Point. It looks empty here but it was anything but.

We went hiking yesterday and there were literal crowds of people on the trail. It is a reasonably popular location but things were ridiculous. I've never seen that many people in that particular place before and hope to never see that many again. Unfortunately I think it may be a sign of things to come. Flagstaff is a very popular place. and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America. That's why I moved here and it's why there is a housing boom going on.

I believe that the growth will continue long term and eventually there will be urban corridor with a similar population to Tucson, perhaps 200,000 or more. It will run in a rough T-shape along the interstates, occupying whatever non-government land is available, and the popular trails will be packed like those in greater Phoenix.

Fortunately, there is a lot of government land around so there should still be opportunities to spread out and probably new trails will be constructed.

This dude turned 1 year old yesterday. He's matured up wonderfully but I haven't trained him to not climb the fence yet.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Tyranny of Spring in Flagstaff


Blue skies every day. High temps in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit. It's terrible.

I now associate being indoors during the day with work. For some reason I'm languishing with it right now. Fortunately things are starting to get back to normal in healthcare, as much as possible under the circumstances. I have plenty of things to get done and much of it requires endless hours of concentration and learning new things, which is a continual process in my line of work. I'm feeling end of career exhaustion this week, yet I am still in the middle of my career.

I'm sitting outside, and the neighbor is in his garage shouting at Siri to get him the number for a nearby casino. Ain't life grand?

The work week is over, and my latest cycle of being on call is over. I will breathe a sigh of relief to last all weekend.

Summer is within sight and the high country beckons.
The high country of the San Francisco Peaks last summer. Recently it's been much less cloudy.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Cats and Doors and Roads

One of the few unpaved paths in my neighborhood winds through this small block park, which as you can see, is on the way to the mailboxes.

I had a very productive work day yesterday but it didn't end well with the usual end of the day requests that interrupted my workflow. Nonetheless, I got it ended and moved on to watering the potted plants out front at which time the cats escaped and the youngest almost immediately ran across the street, where he knows he is not permitted to go. Another cat went across the side alley to trespass on the neighbor's property. I was too lenient and trusting with them. I do not allow my cats to roam and this neighborhood is not the appropriate place for that, it being against the HOA rules and city ordnance.

Cats can be trained but it is very difficult compared to a dog and sometimes it's so difficult as to be impossible in the practical sense.

At least I got a walk in the neighborhood in the afternoon. It's mostly concrete but there are a few paths that go through small piney parks with some shade. It's better than nothing in the era of work-from-home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Fire Season

We got a little rain last weekend. At my house it turned into a steady drizzle. This is better than nothing but it won't get us through the many weeks remaining until the Monsoon arrives in early to mid-July. Hopefully it will be better than last year, which was dangerously dry. I've seen the relative humidity as low as 19% over the last couple of days.

Went running last evening, a usual activity for me on a Tuesday evening. It's beautiful but windy and slightly cool for this time of year. It was a fairly good run and I think I can start pushing the distance next week.

In case you want to know what it looks like running near my house. Mostly this.
Ponderosa pines on Woody Mountain Road. This is a famous dirt road for training. I have passed Olympic calibre runners on this road. They were going more than twice as fast as me, and probably twice as far.

Half way through this week. Still working, writing, exercising, loving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What Day is It?


I haven't been to a store in a few days and had a three day weekend last week. I feel like the weeks are starting to run together again. Next up is Memorial Day. That can be a landmark for the summer. 

I'm trying to decide if I should risk flying this summer to visit family. It's an interesting question, considering that I have asthma. Now is probably the time to buy tickets. Actually a few weeks ago was the time but I didn't act on it for obvious reasons.

I spent much of the morning figuring out why my network account kept getting locked. We tracked it to processes running on my old laptop, which is now being used by my coworker. I'm almost certain I have seen the last of that.

Small victories.

It's Tuesday. 3.5 days to go.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Hell of Password Security

Source: Wikimedia

I'm lost in the Hell of Password Security today. My work account keeps getting locked even though I am logged in and happily working normally. This implies there is some process somewhere on some device trying to use the wrong password and it just keeps trying until the account gets locked. I have had to call our help desk 4 times so far. I'm not a fan of the "keep retrying" strategy when a login fails for software design. To be fair, it works most of the time, but then this scenario comes up. From talking to our help desk people, it definitely happens to other employees too.

Individually, this happens to me about once per year and I'm unsure why exactly although it is my habit of having several different devices logged in at the same time: physical machines, Citrix desktop session, Teams clients, and Remote Desktop to multiple servers. I logged out everything I could find but it hasn't stopped so far. It makes for a long morning if you are trying to get anything done.

I also got called in the middle of the night last night to work on something that I had no access to fix. Then followed a long sequence of hot potato with the ticket as to who should fix it. It was terrible because I had sedated myself and could barely stay awake. The work week is off to a bad start.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thunderstorms

I live within 10 miles or so of the Mogollon Rim, closer if you count some of the tributary canyons that run down into Oak Creek Canyon. Due to the way storms frequently approach from the southwest in these parts, this leads to the strange phenomenon that I can sometimes hear thunder down in the Sedona area even when Flagstaff is about to receive snow. Since I grew up and lived most of my life less than 1000 feet above sea level, I find this strange. I'm sure I will never get used to having such different climates within such a short distance.

We have predictions of thunderstorms for today, Mother's Day 2020, but I haven't heard a single rumble of thunder, despite radar evidence of rain everywhere except my neighborhood. It's going to be a long, late-spring of high fire danger. There are some nice clouds though.

[Edit: as soon as I published this, I went out into my fenced area with my cats and soon felt static electricity in my hair and heard thunder. Ain't that the way it works?]

Love to my mom, and all the other mothers, including my girlfriend, my sister, my brother's wife Tiffani, and my stepmother. I also haven't forgotten my grandmothers and great-grandmothers even though they are all long gone.




I setup a fan yesterday in my garage screen porch and my youngest cat was initially scared of it. Soon he was chewing on the power cable, because young cats have to try biting everything.

Another work week coming. I enjoyed my time off and I'm ready.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Productivity

Bismarck Lake. This is the most water I have seen in it.

I decided to get rid of my previous, rambling post about reason. It wasn't well thought out although there is a thesis in there somewhere.

My three day weekend is running as planned, though thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow. I put my day off to good use.

1. A beautiful hike with my wonderful girlfriend
2. Washed the winter salt off the car. Hopefully that does not mean we will get another snowstorm, but if we do, then I will try not to drive in it.
3. Washed the polyurethane floor of my garage. It isn't perfect but it looks better. Hopefully this is not a double jinx for snow.

I'm not superstitious, except when I am.

4. Much cleaning and organization in the kitchen. I don't think that can jinx anything.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Work from Home Infinity

How is working from home going? The cat keeps putting things in full screen mode.
Of course, I'm trying to train him to not get the keyboard, but he sees it as a way to get me to touch him or pick him up. 'Round and 'round we go.

I finally missed a day of day blogging but not troubled by it. It was inevitable and I don't want this to feel like a chore.

Running last evening after work. It was a pretty good run, but that might be because it was a flat course. I use a tracking application to measure my run and record the geography. It showed something interesting. It was a little warm last evening and I slowed down during the part of the run that had direct exposure to sunlight. I was feeling it while running and it is reflected in the statistics.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3410859131

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On Complaining

Cherohala Skyway in 2013. These are likely the Unicoi Mountains.

I tend to be a very critical thinking person. The problem with this is that it can take a turn from critique into negativity. It's usually best to think proactively and use critique as a tool to avoid problems. We are in a time when it is difficult to stay positive all the time.

Planning my next outdoor excursion is one of the best things I can do to keep myself from falling into endless negative criticism of myself and everything around me.

I had to go into the office this morning to pick up a couple of things. One of my coworkers was in there working. She has been hospitalized with an illness unrelated to the Coronavirus. It put things into perspective. Others have it worse than me. I have it pretty good.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Voting by Mail

Photo from the Dry Lake Hills, 2018.

I find it strange that voting by mail has become controversial all of a sudden. We've been doing it for years and as far as I can tell, there are few if any documented cases of voter fraud. I prefer voting that way, as it is a hassle to have to go somewhere just to vote. Also, I have experienced some issues with polling locations being switched around at the last minute, or setup in very inconvenient locations for the district. I doubt they would pull that with the neighborhood I live in now but it happens a lot with low income neighborhoods and student-heavy apartment complexes.

On second thought, maybe that's why it is now controversial. There are people who really want to prevent citizens in certain categories from being able to vote and voting by mail makes that difficult to accomplish.

Went to the dentist this morning, which had been rescheduled previously due to the coronavirus. And now I have a headache.

As Bob Geldof once asked, "Tell me why I don't like Mondays?"

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Not Every Ride is a Good One


Many of these elite athletes say they believe that their worst training sessions provide the most value later. That may be true, but when you are mountain biking for fun it would be better if the ride was, well, "fun." They can't all be good.

I had such a ride today on a section of the Arizona Trail. I think the real problem is just that I'm not in shape for bicycling yet this year. It is difficult to train in the winter in Flagstaff's climate so I generally just don't. That means every spring is difficult.

Honestly I can handle being the worst mountain biker in Flagstaff but I wish I wouldn't have gotten into such a bad state of mind that I forgot to enjoy being in the forest. That's the only thing that makes it seem like a waste.

I am on the sofa trying to recover, and so far there is nothing there. I'll just have to force myself up to get something to eat.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

New York Strip


I'm very good at cooking filet mignon but I haven't mastered the New York Strip. The last two times I have tried searing it with just salt and pepper but it isn't working out. The outside is char-crusted, which is good, but the middle is nearly rare and mushy and the fat doesn't render. While cooking this one today I was certain it would be overcooked after resting in a foil tent, but instead it was chewy, yet browned on the outside to the verge of burning. I'm not doing something right. I think I need to use the oven to finish it, not sure. I have a couple more in the freezer and I will definitely take a different path next time. I'm pretty sure it will involve butter, just like the filet, but also different application of heat.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Architecture and Social Media

I'd love to get a photo with no car in it sometime. This is from 2017. I have never seen a modern church that was this attractive.

I've become interested in architecture over the last decade or so. There are some great accounts to follow on social media that will fill your feed with beauty.

On the other hand, following these accounts has made me aware that the generational debate over modern architecture continues. There are these camps that advocate for and against modern architecture. Although I have sometimes admired individual examples of modern architecture, I generally think it's been a mistake. There are more bad examples than good, and it's apparent that the modernists are not motivated by beauty, but by other considerations, especially personal fame and legacy. They want to leave their mark, and that is why there are so many experimental building designs that are both independently ugly and clash with the surroundings. They have more in common with graffiti artists than traditional architects or artists.

They also have something in common with research scientists. There is a culture of fame-seeking among architects that reminds me of my too-many-years spent on campus. Most of the scientists I came in contact with seemed preoccupied with name-dropping. They liked science certainly, and believed in their work, but mostly they wanted to leave a legacy and be known for what they did. Same thing with architects.

I suspect most architects are somewhere in the middle, but social media amplifies disagreements because it gives all the camps equal ability to reach a lot of people, even if the camps are small. It's a megaphone for extremism. Observing these people throw bombs at each other on Twitter is entertaining.