News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

Sean bikes in the water this time

I went for another training ride today. This one was shorter, but with more significant (i.e. steeper) hill climbing. It was also raining for part of the time I was riding. The rain almost deterred me from riding, but I eventually decided it might be useful to try riding in the rain, because it may very well rain when I do the actual ride.

When I set out, it was drizzling a bit, and started to rain lightly soon after, so I put on the rain poncho I’d brought. It covers part of my arms, all of my torso, and my head (the hood fits nicely under my helmet). In theory it would cover part of my legs, but it rides up or flaps off of my thighs as I ride, so my shorts, as well as shoes, got wet.

On this ride, I headed South from Noho on Route 5. This took me through a bit of Easthampton and into Northern Holyoke. I turned off of that road to ride into the Eastern entrance to the Mt. Tom State Reservation. You can see the entrance road on this map, marked as the main entrance (the road is actually called Reservation Rd.). I fancied that I might ride on one of the park roads that actually goes up a mountain (Mt. Nonotuck), but what I didn’t know, since I didn’t pay attention to the topographical markings on the map, is that the park road rises quite a bit just getting to the junction of the other roads. This was a steeper climb than the hills I’ve ridden before, so I was tackling in first or second gear, and had to stop and rest frequently because my heart was pounding. I was certainly sweating quite a lot, though I didn’t notice it so much given that my face was already wet with rain.

The road finally leveled off near where it crosses the M-M Trail, and shortly after that I came to the crossroads.  Instead of turning right and heading up to Mt. Nonotuck, I turned left and took the road less mountainous (and that made all the difference…).  That road progresses evenly for quite a while (heading Southwest, BTW) and one encounters four scenic lookouts along there.  It was still raining, though, so the only thing I could see from the lookouts was fog and rain, with maybe a hint of Easthampton.  The road then descended a little ways, and I exited the reservation onto Route 141.  I turned right there and headed North into Easthampton, which involves a big downhill portion.

While I was on 141, the rain stopped, so I took off the poncho and stashed it once I was in downtown E’ton.  Then, I got on the Manhan Rail Trail, and rode that back Northeast to Route 5.  As I headed back into Noho, crossing the Connecticut River Oxbow, I took a little side trip to the Oxbow Marina.  Since there was no longer rain coming down, I felt safe taking out my camera, so here are pictures from the marina area:

marina1.jpg

marina2.jpg

oxboweast.jpg

oxbowwest.jpg

Here be ducks!

oxbowducks.jpg

There are some soccer fields by the marina, with  a nice view of the mountains in the Mt. Tom reservation:

tomrange1.jpg

tomrange2.jpg

tomrange3.jpg

The clouds seemed to be clinging to the summits.

From there I headed back through downtown Noho to home to dry out.  Total distance today was only about 21 miles, but I certainly got a nice taste of climbing.  Next weekend I’ll hopefully get in another 40-mile plus ride (dry weather would certainly help with that).  Maybe I can get more than one ride in…

Also, donations for my ride exceeded my goal of $500, so I’ve raised it again to $750, in case there are more people who wish to give.  Thanks to all of you that gave so far!

Posted by seaking on 09-09-2007 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking, News with 1 Comment

Bike updates, or Sean hangs out around water

So I initially set my fundraising goal for the MS bike ride to be $250, which is the minimum that riders must raise. That got blown away within 24 hours, so I doubled it to $500. You folks are great! I think I’m well on the way to making that goal (a couple of folks are giving offline), so we’ll see if I want to raise it again.

I was out biking the day before I posted about the fundraiser, in part to get a good picture of myself for the page. This is the picture I ended up using:

seanandbike.jpg

I took the picture using the timer setting on my camera, with the camera perched on a picnic table.  Behind me is the Connecticut River, and some public docks from which people can launch canoes and other small craft (and from which the UMass rowing crew launches their boats).  While I was there to take this picture (which took several tries), I also snapped a few pictures from the shore and the dock.  Here is a view upriver to the North:

upriver.jpg

That’s looking under the bike and pedestrian bridge, which you can see here:

bikebridge1.jpg

The bridge has various graffiti on it, and the one in the right of this picture amused me:

bikebridge2.jpg

Also took a picture looking South at the Calvin Coolidge bridge, which carries cars over the river:

coolidgebridge.jpg

In other charity ride news, I went for a long ride today to train for the 50-miles I’ll be covering in less than 4 weeks.  This ride was from our house in Northampton to the visitors center at the Quabbin Reservoir, over in the East part of Belchertown.  The ride was about 40 miles round trip, with some large hills to climb, so it gave me a good indication of how ready I am (answer: mostly) for the big ride in the Berkshires, and it will help boost my endurance and strength.

Here are some pix I took of the reservoir while there:

quabbin1.jpg

quabbin2.jpg

Here is the top of Winsor Dam, one of the 2 dams that created the reservoir back in the 1930’s by interrupting the flow of the Swift River:

winsordam1.jpg

The name is explained by the reverse side of that pillar:

winsordam2.jpg

It’s a very beautiful area, but you can’t go near the water (at least at this part) as it’s used for drinking water.  Thus, these signs are all over the place:

quabbinsign.jpg

For some reason unknown to me, the flags outside the visitors’ center were at half-staff:

quabbinflags.jpg

I may take another training ride there in the next few weeks, and see if I have enough energy to ride up to the observation tower on one of the hills.  You can see much more of the water from up there (the whole thing is pretty huge).

More updates on fundraising and training to come.

Posted by seaking on 09-03-2007 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 2 Comments

Shark update

Some details in this post may be a little gross for the squeamish, just to warn you.

Shark was going along seemingly fine on the medications prescribed to him, until a few days ago.  He threw up a little after being in the litter box (and not doing anything there), and this raised red flags for us.  We figured there was some sort of intestinal blockage, so I took him to the vet on Thursday morning.  He was impacted, so they gave him an enema and kept him the rest of the day.  He got the stuff out, but was quite unhappy that night and the next couple of days (moping and hiding a lot, and not eating anything).  Part of the unhappiness is that we had to discontinue his painkiller, because the vet thought it might have caused intestinal ulcers (a possible side effect of some NSAIDs).

On Friday he was prescribed 2 new painkillers, though, and a drug to help protect his GI tract (it helps produce more mucus).  As of Saturday night he started to act more like himself, being a little more active, more cheerful, and much more responsive to us.  He’s also been hiding much less since then, and spending more time with us.

The one thing that hasn’t recovered is his appetite.  I put food into his mouth from my finger on Friday and Saturday to get some nutrition in him, and since then he has licked up a little food on his own, though he still is not really eating enough.  We’ll keep trying to get food in him, though.

We thought he might be about to go, but it seems like his decline has slowed for now.  If he doesn’t eat more, that could change, but of course it could change for any number of other reasons, too.  So we go on, taking it a day at a time.

For now he is still happy, so we persist in treatment.  He’s getting 5 different medications right now – a total of 8 doses per day – and he’s due for some of those right now.  Thanks to everyone for their sympathy and good wishes.

Posted by seaking on 09-03-2007 at 07:09 pm
Posted in Cats, News with 0 Comments

Innerds

Another online quiz, this one to determine how nerdy one is, and in what ways. I didn’t score as highly as I thought I would.

One neat thing I liked about this quiz is that it has more than 2 options for answering the gender question. 🙂


NerdTests.com says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Posted by seaking on 09-02-2007 at 01:09 pm
Posted in Humor, Links with 0 Comments

Progress

I totally didn’t see or hear this reported in news outlets that I usually monitor, but a judge in Iowa has ruled that same-sex couples cannot be denied marriage licenses.  Fortunately, I got the news from my friend Stasa’s blog.  The story can be found at the Des Moines Register’s site.

This ruling, if it stands, would strike down the state’s defense of marriage law that defines marriage as being a union of a man with a woman.  While the initial effect is in Polk County, same-sex couples would gain the right to marry in the other 98 counties as well.  The next step is an appeal to the state Supreme Court.  They might be likely to overrule the county judge, so the freedom could be short-lived.

Even if the decision does get reversed, the fact that it happened at all is a sign of Iowa changing.  I lived in the state from 1997-2001, and nobody even talked about equal marriage – everyone was working on getting protection from job and housing discrimination in place outside a couple of larger cities in the state (only Des Moines, Iowa City, and Ames at the time).  I participated in an effort to get those protections in the City of Cedar Falls, which only garnered the support of 1 of the 7 council members.  I went to one lobbying event at the state capitol for a statewide non-discrimination bill, but that got even less far.
Now that I think about it, though, there were signs of progress while I was there.  One instance occurred when then-Governor Tom Vilsack, early in his first term, issued an executive order allowing state employees to add same-sex domestic partners to their health insurance.  The legislature reacted by proposing legislation rescinding the order.  My state senator, Republican Don Redfern, was on the committee that approved the law, and he voted in favor of it in committee.  I wrote him a letter expressing my displeasure, as did others, I’m sure, and when it came to a full Senate vote, he was one of 2 members of his party to vote against it.  The bill passed, but without enough of a margin to survive the governor’s veto.  Even if Redfern’s opinion of same-sex relationships was not changed, he at least came to know how many of his constituents felt differently.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the ideal outcome of this case.  Many, many couples in Iowa (some of whom I know) have waited long enough already.

Posted by seaking on 09-02-2007 at 01:09 pm
Posted in Politics with 0 Comments

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