Run off the Road

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Monday I had a new biking experience — one I wasn’t trying to have — someone tried to run me off the road.

I was riding eastbound on N.E. Parvin Road, and was somewhere past the fire station when I heard a vehicle come up close behind me, followed by honking and then it swerved to pass me and cut in close, encouraging me to move over, before it stopped right in front of me.

My brain sped up as I slowed to avoid hitting the red pickup truck that was the object being used to bully me. Before I could hit its bumper the truck pulled away, and someone through something out the passenger window.

I was a bit incredulous as I saw the objects fall. There were maybe 3 or 4, definitely no more than 10, and as I rode by and looked down at them, they looked like big tacks or small nails. Did they really think they could pull that trick and give me a flat with that clumsy of an execution?

By this time they had reached the four-way stop signs at Parvin and Antioch. I rode my bicycle up next to them at the stop sign, sitting in the “virtual bicycle lane” we cyclists are told to use when there isn’t one actually marked.

I looked into the cab of the truck. Three people, apparently young, presumably male, one or more of them with afro-type hairstyles. The skin was tan but I could discern no racial profile. They were white to me.

“Were those nails you threw out the window?” I asked.

“Yes, F*ck you” one of them said, and then the truck peeled through the stop sign heading south on Antioch.

I pulled my bicycle to the side, grabbed my phone out of the basket on the back, and dialed 911, letting the bicycle hit the ground. I waited about 30 seconds for someone to come on the line, running the license plate number through my mind the entire time.

When the officer came on the line I gave her the number right away, and then forgot it, and still cannot remember it again. I was asked to describe what happened, to identify the vehicle (I don’t know vehicles and didn’t see anything  beside red pickup truck). Then I was told if I wanted to file a report I needed to wait for an officer.

So I waited 20 minutes, and then I got a call, perhaps somewhere in the call I mentioned Prather instead of Antioch as the intersection. But once that was resolved he came, we talked, I filed the report, and he took a picture of me to show I was uninjured. I now have a case number, and perhaps in a couple of weeks something might come of it as they investigate  the vehicle that goes with the license number I gave them.

The charge in “aggravated assault”, which sounds serious enough to me. The officer said he spoke to the detective, and based on what they did, and what they said to me, that is the correct charge. Now, of course, if anyone will ever actually get identified to be able to be charged with it.

I am just hoping enough questions get asked to deter them from the idea of trying something like it again to someone else. And I hope they didn’t go on a spree of similar incidents that afternoon after they did what they did to me.

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My First Triathlon — Kansas City Corporate Challenge, June 21, 2015

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It wasn’t supposed to be my  first triathlon. My arm had been twisted back in 2014 to compete in the triathlon, but then it got canceled due to threat of lightning.

Which led to a funny circumstance. This time I was signing up in advance. The disappointment of not getting the change before made me want to do it this time.

Before I had been swimming, I had just gotten a new bike after a several month hiatus, and hadn’t been running. This year I had been swimming, I was biking 200 miles a month, and I still hadn’t really been running

I learned that this was enough to ensure I had no problems finishing the triathlon. What I also learned is that I would need more than just that to compete in a triathlon against other people than myself.

The KCCC Triathlon is really a mini one.  The swim is a mere 500 meters in the open water of Shawnee Mission Park Lake. That for me was no problem. I was glad that we started individually, in three-second intervals, instead of in the wave method of other triathlons. I found myself in collision with enough swimmers.

The chief challenge of the open water swim, besides the distance itself, is a question of visibility. In a pool you have clear water, and you swim straight, following a line painted on the bottom of the pool. In open, cloudy water, there is no line, and no really seeing your other swimmers.

Most people choose the Australian Crawl (freestyle) as their swim stroke. It is most efficient, but you are also always looking down and don’t see where you are going, or who you are running into. For me, it also means a battle with my breathing reserve.

So I chose to swim the breaststroke the entire way. You come up for a look after every stroke, and I can keep my breath going on that indefinitely. I am glad that I did. I passed a few people, got passed by fewer, and managed to have several people cross directly in front of me that had no idea where they were going, while others kept hitting my feet with their hands.

I was fine with the swimming, but the other people kept hemming me in with their lack of vision. Then it was my turn for lack of vision. We started early morning, swimming west, but turned a corner and finished swimming east to reach the dock. The sun was at a perfect angle to glint off the water and reflect in our fogging goggles to obscure where we were, or how close the dock was.

So I finished the swim with a respectable time and took over 5 minutes to change and pull out for the bicycle portion. They have a 4.5 mile course in the park, and the individual triathletes go around the course twice. I didn’t find that a problem. You have a “flat” stretch at the beginning that seems a bit rough, has a feel of uphill but looks flat, and a fight against a headwind. Then the course goes across the flat road that tops the dam, and climbs the big hill on the other side.  Everyone complained about that hill, but for me it was just a matter of shifting down and keeping cadence with the bicycle pedals.

Once you get to the top of that hill, you aren’t done. It never quite levels, always keep going up, until it definitely starts another hill, then down a hill and back up another big one. Then a few small rolling hills and a level section of almost a mile before a gently climb back to the starting point. And around one more time.

Once again, I finished with a respectable time — within what I had set for myself, and set off on the run — a 5K.

Well, not exactly a run, I found myself walking, swiftly, but walking, from the get go. It took me until the dam to start a serious attempt at running, which didn’t last long.  I ended up counting 100 paces of walking to 100 paces of running (A pace for me was the number of times I advanced on the left foot) for the rest of the course.

I saw a lot of people walking the foot portion, I passed many while running, and many running people passed me while I walked. I did finish the course at a run, but I had a lot of energy left in reserve.

I did finish the course at a run, but I had a lot of energy left in reserve. Another time, if I get the chance, I need to put more energy into the running portion, and mor practice into the running to have a greater willpower to use up my reserves.

A New Era, and new experience for me

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Sunday was a new experience for me. As a Baptist by upbringing, this was the first time I had seen the Methodist system in action. Our pastor of nine years, the Rev. Gary Ponder Williams, was appointed to a different church, and we received the Rev. Choongho Kwon as our pastor.

Just like everything at the Methodist Church, there was a method, and a liturgy for the moment. Liturgy seems to be out of style in our “free” age, and yet that sense of order and continuity with the past that it represents, that agelessness, is one of the things that drew us to Avondale United Methodist Church in the first place.

I could see again the sense of it, in such things as the welcome of the new pastor:

Being a choir member, I also appreciated the anthem selected for the day: All are Welcome.

The day was also the first official day that John Livingston served as church accompatist and organist.  Here is his offeratory for the day, played on the church Grand piano.

Rev. Choongho Kwon delivered his “first Sermon”, as he titled it. Here is the dangerous tendency can arise to devine the quality of a pastor soley on his preaching. style. But preaching is such a small part of a pastor’s ministry. Yet I think this sermon gives us a good look into the heart that will drive Rev. Know’s ministry.

The final clip I will present of the day comes from the reception for Rev. Kwon and his family that was held after the second service in Wesley Hall. Here we see introductions and some presentations.

All Season Dining Plan Update

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NOTE: Day 2 without power, so doing shorter things instead of the longer ideas I have that require too much multimedia editing.

As you can see from the graph below, the All Season Dining experiment is reaching a critical mass. My original idea was to reach the level of $1 per meal. We are at $1.09 paid for each meal eaten, and still have at least half the nummer to go. How low will the price go ….

As of: June 26, 2015
Total Price Paid $322.00
Total Meals Eaten 296
Price Per Meal $1.09

Unplugged — not by choice

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This is one of those following in the steps of others type blogs.

Today we are unplugged — at home at least. Last night’s storm took out power to thousands, and we are still the few, the proud, the powerless (electric, that is).

Me, I work remotely sometimes, and so have had to pursue the web just to get work done. But all my nice plans to get new blogs started evaporated. So this is the excuse blog.

I’m seeing how my kids handle being unplugged. One seems fine, one wonders if this is what insanity feels like.

(Note to self: we need to schedule some regular unplugged time for the family.)

Hopefully the blogs will be better starting tomorrow.

Spokane: Montvale Hotel

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I will conclude my Spokane Travelogue Series with a short feature on the Montvale Hotel where I stayed.

When I started checking out places to stay, I kept coming back to the Montvale. It had the best rates, and also seemed to have an interesting historical quality. The hotel is a “recent” refurb of a historical hotel that had gone to seed, then unused, and almost torn down.

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Fortunately certain people took an interest in the building and had it restored to its elegant past with modern furnishings.

You enter on the main floor and come to the desk to check in, then either turn left to enter the elevator, or right to take the stairs up.

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Most of the rooms are on the second and third floors, built around a central seating area on the second floor, which is open two floors for look-over internal balconies on the third floor.

The owners have kept an older period decor which makes the place quite comfortable.

There were only two real complaint/observations that I had.

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The first one is that there were no overhead lights in the bedrooms, only lights around the edge of the room. When I discussed this one of the desk clerks, he told me the original plans for the refurb had neglected to include those lights, As a historical building, when they realized the mistake, the only way to fix the error was to go back and submit completely new paperwork for the refurb. They opted not to.

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The second one is that my room on the third floor didn’t have very good wi-fi access. It came and went very inconveniently. When I mentioned that while checking out, I was told that an upgrade was being installed the next week, which didn’t help me, but should help if I ever went back.

Spokane: Old Spaghetti Factory

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When I first moved to Kansas City there was a restaurant downtown called the Old Spaghetti Factory. While we didn’t have money to go often, we enjoyed the food and ambience when we had the chance.

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It was a dinnertime only restaurant for years. Then they opened for lunch. Shortly after that they closed. They were profitable at dinner, but lunch overextended them and didn’t prove the success they had hoped. So for over a decade now we haven’t had an Old Spaghetti Factory in Kansas City.

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So on my first morning in Spokane, when I looked out the window and saw the sign for the Old Spaghetti Factory about a block away, I knew I had to dine there.  But it took me until my final evening to have time from class to actually go.

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When I entered the restaurant it had the same sort of feel — elegant conversion of an old factory space — that the Kansas City restaurant had had. I was give a seat in the trolley car — Another feature it shared with the old Kansas City restaurant.

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For my meal I splurged on an appetizer, the new Gorgonzola Dip (for one person?), and two Italian Cream Sodas — one blackberry, the other raspberry (no free refills). These went with the three-course entree I had chosen: Salad, main course (meat lovers treat of sausage, meatball and spaghetti with sauce), Spimoni.

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I had plenty of leftovers, which I took back to the room  for a late night snack and breakfast the next morning.

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It was an excellent, enjoyable meal, a wonderful memory, and experience of nostalgia.

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