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December 24, 2016

Snow Kringle comes to Elmwood Park

Snow Kringle and the Elmwood Park crew

Snow Kringle and the Elmwood Park crew

   This evening the Elmwood guys and I decided to build a snowman.  We had just finished having some good Indian food (one of the few places open) and I tested the snow to find it just right for rolling snowballs.  So I started to roll a ball and sucked up every bit of snow all the way to the grass.  Soon it was too big from me to roll alone, so I called in the Elmwood Park team.  Xiphos, Xen, James, and Andy (our couch guy) put our backs into getting one giant snowball for a bass rolled and positioned.  After securing it we worked on a second one and used a ramp made of a 6 foot 2x12" plank.  A third ball was cut in half and required us to lift over our heads.  I got out the ladder and a forth layer was added.  But I could still reach higher, so a 5th snowball was rolled.  We ended up with a pillar about 10 feet tall. 
   I showed everyone how to build up the sides and went to work smoothing and sculpting.  We knew it was going to be a tall person of some sort.  It had a pointy head, so we figured it would be wearing stocking cap.  In sculpting the face I found the mouth turned into a beard and it was soon obvious we are making a giant Kris Kringle.  Xiphos had just picked up a bunch of food coloring to make cookies, and James mixed it up in a spray bottle.  It worked well in coloring our snow creation.  We positioned an LED light to illuminate our creation and soon Snow Kringle was looking good.  Several people driving by slowed down, honked, or told us it looked great, and a couple stopped for pictures.  Xiphos had rolled an other large snowball that was sitting unused, and we decided to turn it into a toy sack.  We estimate we worked on it for about 2 hours, but are very pleased with the results.
   While I didn't work today, I still went out for breakfast with Zach and Pluvius.  Zach had wanted to try our breakfast places Bloody Mary and since he didn't have to work today either, today was the day.  Pictured are the three states of Zach: without, obtained, and completed.  After breakfast I biked down to the coffee shop to sit in front of the fire for a couple hours.
   Last day of work for the week due to the holiday weekend.  The temperatures were downright summer like after my last few ride.  When I set out this morning it was 30°F (-1°C).  I had on my full coat, but I think I could have done this ride with just a sweatshirt.  I decided not only to cycle in, but that everyone at work needed donuts.  So I adjust my route slightly so that I could stop at a donut shop on Regent Street.  I then got on the commuter trail back to John Nolen.  It was the first time I rode that second of the commuter trail in a couple of years--maybe even since living at Rodney House.  The population at work was fairly thin and I spent the day eating all the junk food people brought in.  So much food, in fact, I skipped lunch and didn't stop for a slice pizza on the way home.  The temperatures seemed so mild.  It's like the difference between riding in 65° vs 45°.  The world seems completely different.

December 21, 2016

Happy Winter!

   The shortest day of the year today officially starting winter.  We have around 12" (30 cm) of snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing.  So yep, it is winter.  I saw the sun a little today in the 8 hours, 59 minutes and 43 seconds the sun was above the horizon.
   Impressively cold for December with my drive into work coming in at -10°F (-23°C).  Eve Liberty (my car) gave me the sound like "you wana what?" this morning when I cranked her up.  People at work, after knowing the temperatures I rode in last week, kept asking me if I rode today.  Part of me wondered if I shouldn't have tried.
   As part of a long process to split the Blue-Dragon into my primary console and external storage, the Blue-Dragon has moved into a new case.  It was tricky to get all the hard drives into this case, but once the storage machine goes online I won't need them all.
Pluvius and Zach

Pluvius and Zach

   Biked into work today and did breakfast with Pluvius and Zach.  The temperature was 10°F (-12°C) which was slightly warmer than my ride home on Tuesday. I decided not to use heat packs to see how my feet held up with just thick socks.  I would have a stop for breakfast in 7 miles should I need to change my mind and put on heat packs.  It was snowing this morning, and we are expected to get an other few inches over the weekend.  I can ride on most snow just fine.  Thick snow slows me down, and the mixture right before slush is really hard as it is almost like sand.  Ice, however, is impossible.  Starting off it was quite pretty with the light snow.  But when I got to the trail turnoff where Old Middleton meets University, my bike slide out from under me.  Black ice under a thin blanket if fresh snow.  I slowed down for the trail along University, but dumped again on Shorewood Boulevard.  That one hurt a bit more and I slowed way down after that.  A ride that typically takes just under 30 minutes took almost 45, and I arrived to breakfast much latter than planned. 
   At breakfast I changed shirts (a fresh dry shirt really helps) and tried allowing my mittens and balaclava to dry.  Afterward it was time to get back on the road.  The rest of my trip to work went better and I took no more spills, but it again wasn't setting any speed records.  The last 7.5 miles took 51 minutes when it normally takes 35.  It is a little harder to ride slow when it's cold because pushing hard helps generate body heat.  Crossing highway MM along John Nolen Drive I had a slight worry I was about to be hit by a driver who wasn't paying attention.  I had a green light, and they were turning off John Nolen with a yellow light and speeding in order to make the turn before the light went red.  My headlight is pretty bright, even in daylight, but in order to see it you must be looking in my general direction.  The driver came to a stop mid turn once they did see me, but if they had followed through with their turn I probably would have been clipped.
   Heavy snow was forecast for sometime after 1:00 pm, but I was done with work today before noon.  On the return trip the temperature was climbed up to 18°F (-8°C) which was actually pretty nice.  For the return ride I would have a tailwind which made for a pleasant ride.  I didn't encounter any more problems with ice either.  I had my slice of pizza and had light snow on the ride back home.