More Bike Challenges

This weekend I had a great time hanging out with my mum and my family and friends here at home and up at RMNP. On the beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, I started up towards Erie on the bike. About halfway there I had some trouble that I initially interpreted as a low gas tank. Unfortunately, even after I filled the tank and even when I was going downhill, the engine just wouldn't go. I parked the bike and made a few calls: one to my gathered family (waiting for me to arrive) to give me a ride, and one to a friend of mine who has been riding for most of his life. I needed an expert ear to diagnose the problem.

Now, after some thought and some tests (and with the bike back in the garage), here is the working theory: the regulator (akin to an alternator) is no longer working. From my house to the point where I started having trouble, I was using the electricity in the battery, not the electricity generated by the engine. I ran out of electricity, not gas, and only recharging the battery with a trickle charger allowed me to ride the back back home. So now I plan to order a new one and with the help of my friend, install it.

What a great "opportunity" to learn about my bike!


It's Beginning to Feel Alot Like NaNo

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that every November, I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In a nutshell, it's a writing marathon - 50K words in 30 days. For some, that's easy, and some become crippled by their inner critic. I'm somewhere in between. I have successfully completed it twice out of the five years (every year since 2004) I have participated. The question now is, am I going to participate this year?

I'm not sure. On one hand, it's a tradition. I even made a mild (alternative) attempt the year I was also taking licensing exams. On the other hand, I am maxed out. Every time I turn around, there's a new work deadline, a new bike issue, and new requests from friends and family to get together (requests I do NOT want to turn down -- my relationships with you all are too important to me). We'll see if I've managed to get things under of control by the end of the month.
I do know that 50K words has never gotten easier for me. I am just not a fast writer. Even blog posts take me an hour.

I may do some work with automatic writing. It won't be a story, but it may work out some of the kinks. And maybe it'll loosen me up to start doing some real writing on a regular basis.
Or maybe I'll promise to read x number of books and post a review in the blog.
I'd also like to do something as a daily serial. I'm sure my readers would like it.

Any thoughts?


Tired of these "mixed bag" weekends. I've had three. It can stop now.

(More later)


Back From Nature

I am back from a lovely camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a warm, if windy, night and in the early morning, I went on a two hour horseback ride with Stacey, my mum, and my sister-in-law, Jenn. We had lots of fun (despite Mum's substandard saddle) and saw elk herds quite close up. One studly buck had a harem of at least 20 females.
When I got back, I put on the TV in the background as I checked my online connections and coincidentally, I am now watching Ken Burn's latest series on PBS about the creation of the National Parks System. It is wonderfully moving, especially for those, like me, who love to see and experience wilderness. John Muir was a great man who saved this nation's wildest places from those who could not see anything beyond the immediate desire for cash. Without his and other's efforts, I'd probably have camped on a private campsite that would probably be surrounded by other campsites, not by unoccupied wilderness. (An example of what might have been is the commercialism of Niagra Falls. In fact, according to the documentary, it was used, even back then as a cautionary tale.)
Thank you, John Muir! Thank you, General Sheridan! Thank you, all who understood that those of us in the future who love the wild would need your help and foresight.


Women in Trades

Someone sent me a link to an interesting site for Moxie Trades.
It was started by a woman who wanted to sell pink work boots for other women in construction and now they sell other women oriented work wear. I'm not huge into pink as a symbol of my femininity, but I think it's awesome to have a resource for women who do. The other cool thing is that they have a registry of women owned businesses.
Interesting, isn't it?


The Empress' New Eyeshadow

You see, madam, not only is the color exquisitely beautiful and exentuates every eye color to perfection, but the eyeshadow has the miraculous ability of appearing invisible to anyone who is unfit for office or unquestionably stupid.


Taking Care of the Kitties

While I was away last week, Da Boyz boarded with my good friend, Stacey and her infinitely patient hubby. I was a little nervous since I've never resorted to that before, and only once in the 5 years I've had them have I taken them with me to someone else's house. I know they're very domesticated and sweet in their own home, but I didn't want to completely stress them out. However, these worries were counterbalanced by the knowledge that they are also very social cats and would get lonely left on their own for four days.
So, on Monday afternoon, I nabbed them (so easy, since they didn't know to be wary of the cat carriers) and drove them over to Stacey's. They did get stressed, meowing and panting (a classic sign of distress in a cat), which distressed ME too. At Stacey's we let them out (to disappear under the bed and behind the desk) and I stuck around for a couple hours. By the time I left, they were out and investigating (warily, but at least they were out!).
Stacey and JR took very good care of them in the intervening days. Stacey even took care of ME by sending me periodic updates. I was relieved to find that they were good guests, peeing/pooping in the approved location, not meowing all night, and providing companionship and entertainment to Stacey.
When I got back, it was a very simple process to lure them out from their napping spot under the bed, petting them both for about half an hour, then popping them into their carriers for the return trip. Stacey drove us back and thankfully, the return trip was only punctuated by a little meowing and no panting.
They were, naturally, very happy to wander around and make sure the house was unchanged.

Thank you, Stacey and JR, for taking such good care of them!

(As you can see above, they are very relaxed and happy.)


Brother in Wheels

While I was in Carlsbad, I saw my bike's twin. It was blue, instead of red and was in worse shape, but all the details are the same (sans windscreen). Of course I "had" to take a picture.
And, for easy comparison, here's my bike:


Carlsbad Trip Photos

I didn't take many photos on the Carlsbad work trip because I was expecting to have some free time at the park. Ha!
Here are a few photos I took through the car window on the way there. I know there'll be some fans of the interesting cloud formations. ;)


Work Trip

I'm back from my first business trip. It went well. We got the business accomplished that we intended. The people of Carlsbad, NM, are extremely friendly and kind, which we greatly appreciated. The group with whom I was travelling was also friendly, intelligent, and funny. I did not expect to be as entertained as I was pretty much most of the time we were not in a meeting. (And even in the meetings, we laughed. Made the day long meetings infinitely more bearable.)

The only disappointment - I did not get to go into the caverns. Tuesday, we arrived too late, Friday, we left too early, and the days in between we were in meetings all day. We DID get to see the bat flight from afar. Swirling multitudes of bats, streaming out from - what looked like from our vantage point - the ground. We also got to hear some fascinating bat trivia during one of the meetings, when a presenter was organizing some documentation and the National Park Service folks filled in the gap by talking a little about their "constituents." Yes, someone used the phrase "right off the bat." [groan!]

The first night we were there, we had dinner at the Trinity Hotel. The food was excellent (I had the Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas) as was the wine (all New Mexico lables). They also sold the wine in a gift shop at the front, but because I was flying back, I couldn't by any. :(
We also got a fun tour of the Trinity Hotel's luxury suites. They are renovating an old bank building, so the ceilings are very high and each room is unique. The rates are very affordable compared with big city prices and it would make a great honeymoon/anniversary get away spot.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite not getting to see the caverns, and hope to go back when I have more time to explore. :D


Mixed Sack

If last weekend was a mixed bag, then this weekend is double that -- a mixed sack?

First, the unadulterated good: Saturday, I went to see my nephew and his parents and sit by the pool. Sunday, I met up with some very nice lady motorcyclists and rode up to Loveland for "Thunder in the Rockies" (my first motorcycle rally). The ride was a heck of a lot of fun. The rally was fun too. We encountered my teacher from my all-women (except the instructor) safety course three years ago and it turned out that he had taught two other women in the group as well. Very nice guy, and a good teacher. I left them to visit my Aunt Ruth, who seems to be in good spirits. (I promise to see you more often, Ruthie!) I went up to visit my good friend, Krissy, and we had a wonderful long chat.

After visiting Krissy, I headed south to visit my brother and SIL. Shortly after stopping for a fuel up, I stopped at a light and realized that there was a very strange noise coming from behind me, I pulled over to the side, dismounted, and looked at my back tire. Sure enough, it was low. It wasn't super low, so I decided I'd make it to the next service station. I did so, then as soon as started putting in new air, I heard hissing. Then, I saw the nail in the tire. Well, crap!

I made some calls, put in a little more air, and headed to my Aunt Ruth's house to park the motorcycle in her driveway. I got there just in time, since in the final mile (I went about 3 miles after the service station) cornering included the strange sensation of the back floating around the corner. Since Ruth was at dinner, I left the motorcycle there and left a message on her phone before drafting my cousin, Susan, to take me to my brother's house. In this fashion, I leapfrogged my way south, depending on the kindness of family and friends to get my way home. Particular thanks to Ruth, Susan, Gregg and Amy, Jenn and Max, and Gabe.

The next day, I ended up arranging for a Loveland dealership to pick up the bike and fix the tire this week. AND, since they'll have it for a while anyway (and since I've gotten several compliments on the bike lately), I decided to go ahead with soomething I've been thinking about doing - getting a tuneup on the bike. When I do sell it (and I might have a buyer for whenever that happens), I'll be able to use that as a selling point. And, it'll give me some piece of mind, since it looks like I'll be riding it for a while longer (having trouble rationalizing a new bike when I have house improvements to pay for).

So, some irritating experiences, but good results -- a mixed sack. :)


Git Along, Little Dogie

Next week I'm scheduled to go on my first real business trip (not counting the design conference last year in Vail). One of my bosses and I will be flying to TX/NM for a project at this place. It promises to be an interesting experience. The National Park Service has a very specific process for developing projects, a process that is supposed to take the subjectivity out of the equation. It worked well on my other project, but I didn't get to be there for the meeting at which all this discussion and rationalizing and prioritizing occurred. This time, not only will I be there to document it, I'll be writing the report on it afterwards.
Good thing I learn quickly when thrown into things. :D

PS - I got scolded again for working too hard. :) Weird, but nice.
I swear, I am going to get the overworking under control. I just had a challenging project with a short deadline. It's done and over with, so things should settle down now.
I think.



Most of you know I've been working my bum off for the new employers. They are pretty awesome about it, cautioning me about burn out and strongly encouraging taking time off. I like people who have similar values and don't mind speaking their minds!

The interesting (and actually predictable, if you know anything about me) thing is that I am the one choosing to work late. Part of it is my own personal standards about my work. Architecture is complex enough that one can always do/describe/figure out more or do less. One needs to find the line that balances effort with reward and do just enough. Some people choose to put out less effort and be satisfied with more ambiguity in their drawings. I, as you might imagine, am willing to put in more effort in order to put out what I consider a better set of drawings. (Notice I say "better." That's because no set of drawings is perfect. It's a fact of life and one has to accept it.)
The other part of my needing to work late is the strategy of working hard early, then having less stress immediately before the deadline. It provides time for unexpected complications and means I can coast in, rather than be running just ahead of the flames.

So, yes, I've been working late. Yes, the cats are a little P.O.ed at me. Yes, I am tired (have a bad habit of getting online when I get home and "wasting" my home time on the internet). But I'm settling in at work (and developing a reputation: Got mock-astonished looks when I left at 5 and "we thought you lived here!" smart alecky remarks) and looking forward to a long weekend before going on a business trip next week.

(Working on replacing the phone. Will probably have it by tomorrow.)

Edited to Add: In an interesting coincidence, my buddy Jen A sent a video link about work and incentives and autonomy to me.