Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch

At the end of a typically busy (read: absurdly busy) weekend that included Chucky Cheese birthday parties, mountain biking, golf practice with Bryce, Halloween parties, and staying out too late watching a band, we decided to take the last hours of daylight and go to pick pumpkins. whew...

It was an absolutely perfect day, and I am glad we did go out into it. It's so easy to sit around on Sunday and watch football all day or watch and wish for the Tampa Bay Rays to do well in the World Series.

We went over to the Grand Ole' Pumpkin patch which had all the good stuff for kids like hay rides, enormous inflatable slides (which I think Brenna enjoyed as much as the kids), a hay bail maze and loads of kids. We had a blast, and the kids ran practically non stop the entire time...except when in the back of the tractor where they just wiggled a lot.

When we got out into the pumpkin patch to pick a couple of aspiring jack-o-lanterns Aiden wandered everywhere and Ansley went around trying to find a tiny pumpkin for him. The smallest one weighed half as much as he did, so she wasn't too successful.

Ah, brothers...

Yep, she's acting cute here...I am in such trouble when she's 16...

Aiden and Mom had a good time in the hay bails, and all the kids were picking hay out of their shirts and hair for the next hour.

Aiden was really good at putting hay in the other kids' hair just in case they didn't get enough when they were jumping around in it.

In the end we did get some good pumpkins and I will get a few photos of the jack-o-lanterns that will be carved sometime this week.

And as we were leaving, Bryce and Ansley saw the helicopter rides. There eyes were as big as saucers when I said that we could go down close to the landing area. In the past they have been scared and timid around big noisy things like that, but this time, much to my wallets chagrin, they weren't. They bounced around and were absolutely amazed by the machine. I ended up ponying up the money to take them for a ride.
At one point I thought back to my old hobbies and realized that this was one of the only times I had ever actually landed in the helicopter that I took off in...
Hit the little gray arrow button in the bottom left below to see the video...


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bryce loses his first tooth!!

I walked into his room this morning at around 6am. Gee, it's great to get to sleep in on a Saturday...

Aiden was proclaiming his desires to get out of bed with a GEEEEEEEEEEETT AAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOTTTTT!

Repeatedly...and with amazing volume for a child that small.

When Bryce laughed at Aiden for waking me, I noticed that the loose tooth that he has been talking about for weeks had gone missing.

I'm sure the tooth fairy will come by tonight, but I wonder if she/he/it will have adjusted the .25 cents per tooth for inflation, or will her dental fund investments have declined so much that she will only have .5 cents to give? Hmmmm...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Steven Spielberg I am not...

It official. I love to try silly photo/video stuff, but I have realized a few important things: some waaay more important than others...

Ranked in ascending order of importance as to why I will not receive critical acclaim at Cannes next year:

  1. I will not have a submission at Cannes next year. Not important at all...surely
  2. The free Microsoft video editing software stinks royally. It freezes more effectively than my refrigerator and is generally maddening. Each time I work with MS for anything other than Excel, I want a Mac.
  3. I don't have the right equipment. A video from a small rugged still photo camera isn't very good. I love the Stylus 850 for it's versatility and size, but a video camera it ain't!
  4. My soundtrack would improve vastly if I could access my iTunes purchases through this software...
  5. My scenes cut too quickly and wave around like a 2 year old trying to make herself dizzy by spinning in the back yard.
  6. Apparently, my hands shake like Muhammad Ali.
  7. Storyboard and thoughts of scenes I wanted to film didn't cross my mind prior to filming...that whole AD/HD thing...
  8. I have very little talent/experience, and this may have some impact on the quality of my films.

It was still fun and the end had all of us laughing watching it afterwards...

Sooo, without further ado...

This is my effort at doing some video editing in my spare time, and I put this little film together for all the people that don't get to see the kids running around enough. The whole thing is about 6 minutes long, so make your run to the concession stands for popcorn and gummy worms a quick one!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

6 Gap 2008 - The Ride

As I rolled up and squeezed myself into the throngs of Lycra clad riders, I thought of the wonderful things that I would see during my annual ride of 6 gap. This year it was an extended course of 103 miles and over 11,000 feet of cumulative climbing according to the web site.

There were people of all sizes, shapes and ages. They were riding all kinds of bikes from brand new bajillion dollar road bikes, well used road bikes like mine, mountain bikes, and recumbent bikes. All were excited, even those that were captured yawning in the early morning light. Seriously look at the folks in the next photos...

It was going to be loads of fun! Why shouldn't it be, it was great last year! Then, in the space of mere seconds, reality began to tap me on the shoulder. I hadn't trained, I wasn't ready, and I also knew that I am dumb enough to never quit riding. A fine combination to ensure suffering. The reality, that I knew already, was that I would ride well for the first 60 miles and then would struggle with even finishing the remaining 40 miles.

Now, 40 miles isn't any big deal when one isn't all that tired, but when hot, exhausted and staring at another several thousand feet of climbing. 40 miles seem to be some daunting insurmountable wall that you can't get through, over or around. That was how this started. I hadn't even ridden mile 1 yet and I knew what I was in for. Ugh...

There were 2,300 riders this year for the century let alone the 50 mile ride that went off an hour later.

The number of people that had traveled from all over the country to do this ride was pretty fantastic. At 7:30am we rolled out in a colorful mass of clicking gears and whirring chains. I felt great through the first miles, and found a load of people to talk with as the large group began to filter out into groups of varying abilities. On the rolling roads into the mountains, I found a few folks that were riding at my level, and I worked with them to share the effort as we pedaled through the cool morning air. When we hit the first climb everything split up and there were people scattered all over the road.

I wonder if I can get some cash for proving that Sasquatch exists? This photo evidence is as convincing to me as any of the other stuff people have provided as proof in years past! Heck, Sasquatch even tried to give me a hug...I found that a touch disturbing, so I raced down the descent and onto the next climbs.

This sign is the top of Unicoi gap, the third climb of the day, and I was feeling pretty good. I was stopping at the rest stops to make sure I was eating and drinking enough during the ride. I couldn't afford to dehydrate or bonk if I was going to finish the ride. I can at least prove that I made it to the top of the third climb with this shot. You will notice a serious lack of ride photos from this point on, as my riding became more labored.

I ran out of gas (like most of the southeast) at around mile 65-70 from my fuzzy recollection. Some sorry jerk had painted "mile 60" on the road right when I began to really feel my lack of training. That little bit of knowledge basically shot me, and I felt bad for the remainder of the ride. Instead of spinning and smiling as I climbed the slopes, which is something that I really like to do. I was rocking back and forth on the bike as I worked my way up the steep gradients of Hogpen Gap just trying to keep some momentum going. Ouch...

At the top of Hogpen I stopped for a while to rest...I guess I should mention that I stopped half way up as well. I seriously thought of just calling it a day and hitching a ride back to the truck, but nah... I climbed back on the bike. After working that hard to get to the top, I wanted to enjoy the fastest descent on the course. I hit 56 mph as I screamed down the mountain leaning and twisting through curves. It is simply a wonderful feeling doing that on a bike.

The remaining climbs included similarly painful efforts, but the descents weren't as good due to cars, and tired people riding their brakes.

I snapped this shot at the top of Woody gap, the last climb of the day. I had no idea how far I was from the glorious moment where I could stop pedaling, but it had to be close-ish now. Right? In fact I think it was still 15-20 miles away. The rolling hills from that point on basically leveled me. I was in the lowest gear I could find just to get up any incline, but I had to finish. I just kept turning the pedals over and trying to get as much speed out of the bike as I could during the moments that I felt good.

I finished up in 7-ish hours. A solid 90 minutes slower than last year and an hour slower than I did it in the pouring rain the year before. At the end, I was sure that I would never get on a bike again. Fortunately, within a day, I decided that I would ride again, and as of this morning, I will certainly ride 6 gap again next year. It's funny how the painful parts of epic rides seem to fade quickly and you only remember the good.

Just remind me to train when Summer comes next year!