rhiannonstone: (the real me)
Cats and Porn

Some say the 'net is great for porn,
Some say cats.
From what I've seen of naked chicks
I'll go with images and flicks
But if I needn't choose 'tween this and that
I think I know enough of LOL
To say that for use of bandwidth cats
Are also droll
And where it's at.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I swore off traveling during the holidays quite a few years ago because it's expensive and stressful and tends to upset whichever family members I'm not visiting, but somehow I keep letting Aunt [profile] jensmitkil talk me into flying across the country for Thanksgiving--probably because it's always so danged fun. This year we all converged on the Outer Banks for the week, in two cozy little condos a stone's throw from the ocean and a few short miles from [profile] xandyssin's place for our teeny tiny Smith family reunion.

Paul and I flew in Monday and left Friday, so we really only had three days there. We couldn't do much of the stuff we wanted to do because Highway 12 was closed to non-4WD traffic south of Oregon Inlet, leaving the entirety of Hatteras Island inaccessible, but we still managed to pack our days there quite full with running around, shopping for food and gifts, lazing about, hanging around, sharing stories, and consuming a not-insignificant amount of seafood and wine. And coffee. And bourbon.

And there was cooking! Oh so much cooking.

I wanted oysters and Dad wanted me to make my famous French onion soup and Caesar salad, so we did both as a little moveable feast on Wednesday night: six of us demolished nearly a bushel of raw and steamed oysters over at Aunt J & Uncle R's condo, then everyone came over to ours for soup and salad. Then we spent Thursday going back and forth between condos for nibbles (Sausage cheese balls! Devilled eggs! Pimento-stuffed celery!) while working on Thanksgiving dinner in our respective kitchens.

Cooking without access to my usual equipment and ingredients was a challenge, but it was kind of a fun one to tackle. I felt a little like MacGyver, or Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, and it was like all my years of cooking experience and food geekery was training for the task of cooking Thanksgiving and dinner for 6 in a tiny rental kitchen with a random assortment of cheap, abused utensils, an unfamiliar electric stove, and very limited seasonings. No potato ricer or masher? No bowls big enough to mix anything in? Knives too dull to chop broccoli? No problem! I was also pretty proud of my hastily thrown-together travel cold-brew coffee setup, though I've since purchased a more efficient piece of equipment to take with me next time. My obsession with vintage household handbooks was finally justified, too, when I used half a lemon and salt to scrub old scorched pots that were otherwise refusing to get clean.

Thanksgiving dinner itself was wonderful and abundant. From J & R: turkey, stuffing, chicken-cornbread dressing, two kinds of cranberry sauce, asparagus, beer bread, crescent rolls, two pies. From us: unstuffed stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cheesy broccoli, and one pie that had an accident and didn't make it to the table (not an oops-we-ate-it accident, but a lost-the-battle-with-gravity accident). Entirely too much food, of course, but it was all delicious. And we left Dad with enough leftovers to feed him for weeks. :)

I'd planned to do some bike riding while I was there, and rented a nice hybrid from what turned out to be a really great shop, but I had so much fun chatting with the bike shop guy about vintage bikes and east coast vs. west coast cycling that I left without picking up my helmet. And didn't discover it until Wednesday afternoon, when he (and everyone else who might have helmets for rent) was closed. D'oh. At least I know where to go for a rental next time I'm on the Outer Banks.

We all agreed that we should definitely make the Smith family reunion a regular thing, but at my request, NOT during the holidays. I think we're thinking of going down to J & R's place on the Gulf coast next time, during a warmer time of year, maybe when there's an art or shrimp festival.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Our friend T is in town for the traditional Rush show visit. The show was last night, and it was fantastic, as always. More so, actually, thanks to the addition of an 8-piece string ensemble for the second half of the show. The new album hadn't really grabbed me yet, but now that I've heard it live with string accompaniment I see why everyone loves it so much. And the cellos were a great addition to "Red Sector A," too.

It was a pretty long performance, though, and as fun as it was I was ready for it to be over well before the encore. So of course the encore was like half of 2112. I stayed upright for it, but then fell asleep in the car before we were even out of the parking lot.

**********************************

Some really fascinating long reads for this rainy Friday afternoon: Also, who wants to help me set up a 501c3 of some sort so we can try for a chance to spend the night on Alcatraz?
rhiannonstone: (Default)
The Internet is full of my favorite things today!
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I love that modern (and some not-so-modern) technology allows me to: 1) Find out that my sister and her husband are celebrating their first anniversary at a local-to-them hotel tonight, 2) Discover which hotel, and 3) Sneakily order celebratory goodies to be sent to their room, all within the space of half an hour from 3,000 miles away. And less than an hour later I was able to watch their discovery of their surprise delivery unfold on Facebook. Yay technology!

And, once again, happy anniversary to [profile] yamantha and John. I'm glad you feel so loved today, because you are indeed loved and supported, both as awesome individuals and as a beautiful couple. We gotta celebrate love wherever it is found.

*******************************

Here are some ephemeral celebrations of technology, language, and art:
rhiannonstone: (bike)
Since I'm not entirely sure what I did to my wrist and the only thing I do that puts any strain on it other than working at the computer is cycling, I decided to get a professional bike fitting to make sure I'm not hurting myself while I'm riding. I'd actually been thinking about getting a professional fitting for awhile but have been really intimidated by the idea, since most shops that do fittings cater to cyclists who are in much better shape than me and have more expensive bikes and drastically different goals. But I was inspired to start researching earlier this week and happily discovered that a local bike shop I've always liked and felt comfortable at does fittings, and I made an appointment for a 2D fit for Friday.

It was nothing like I'd feared. The guy doing the fitting (who was also the shop owner) had a bunch of intimidatingly fancy equipment and absolutely knew his stuff, but he was also really down-to-earth and friendly, and seemed to genuinely care about making sure my special snowflake of a body was happy on my own beloved bicycle in the way that I like to ride it. He explained everything to me as we went along and was willing to answer the zillion questions I had about how and why and what-next, and I really appreciated that he respected my limits but still pushed back on the things I was resistant to but he thought was important. We also turned out to have friends-of-friends in common and a similar sense of humor, so it was actually fun. It was also long and kind of exhausting (like 2 hours of yoga and spinning, oof), but I learned a lot about my body and the bike.

According to the fitting I have great posture on and off the bike, and am quite symmetrical and square as far as bone structure goes, so there's nothing to correct for there. Thanks to my physical therapy exercises I'm surprisingly flexible along some axes given how un-flexible I am along others, but neither of these things work against me while I'm riding. I also apparently have unusually strong shoulders for a woman who doesn't lift or do lots of push-ups or pull-ups, which baffled the fitter, but I'm pretty sure carrying around these 40Gs for the past couple decades might have something to do with it. ;)

It was nice to know that I haven't been doing anything dangerously stupid to myself, but we still tried a bunch of different configurations to find just the right balance between comfort and efficiency. Ultimately we leveled my saddle and raised it by 4 centimeters, ordered some customizable insoles for my biking shoes to give my feet more support and more pedaling power, and set up drop bars to put me in a position where I'm slightly more efficient and my hands and wrists have several different options for positioning, which will make them much happier. It's all going to take a little getting used to--it must have been pretty amusing to watch me try to dismount before I remembered that my saddle had been raised!--but I'm excited, and looking forward to being more comfortable on long rides.

Guess I'll need to celebrate with a couple long rides! I'd been worried that I wouldn't be able to get in another overnight trip before the rains started, but the forecast for the next week or so is nothing but sunshine.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
When I lived alone I had a really hard time cooking for myself. Part of it was the atrocious state of the kitchen in the dilapidated Victorian I shared with a dozen other people, but mostly I just couldn't be bothered to go through the effort of shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning for just me. I still have this problem when Paul's out of town, though these days it's Indian takeout, baked potatoes, and fancy cheeses and olives rather than the pizza delivery, pudding cups, and frozen dinners I used to subsist on.

Paul's been out of town for a few days now, and yesterday I decided I was done with takeout and made a pot of butternut squash soup and a big salad for dinner, and a pumpkin stuffed with all the things for lunch for the next couple days. Much better than even the tastiest takeout, and a nice reminder that I am absolutely worth cooking great food for, even when it's just me. Plus it's enough food that I won't have to cook again until he's back, so it's the best of both worlds. ;)

Speaking of pumpkins, I've come to the very sad realization that I won't be able to carve one this year. I've been having some trouble with my right wrist for the past couple weeks, and while it's been getting steadily better, cutting the top off the tiny little sugar pie pumpkin I stuffed was almost too much for me. There's no way I could slice, scoop, and carve a larger pumpkin without setting back my healing time significantly. This is my sadface! If you're carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, please share photos so I can enjoy pretty pumpkins vicariously.

Also speaking of pumpkins, I was complaining to [personal profile] regyt last weekend that I can never seem to get roasted pumpkin seeds right, and don't know what I'm doing wrong. This most recent batch--from a friend's tried-and-true recipe--was pretty disappointing, and I think I've finally figured out the problem: I'm not doing anything wrong, I just don't like roasted pumpkin seeds very much.
rhiannonstone: (bike)
When I was little I dreamed of bike touring. I didn't know that's what it was called, or even that it was an actual thing that people actually did. I just knew that I saw these mysterious little signs on the road during trips to see [profile] xandyssin, and the idea of hopping on my bike and following those signs all day sounded marvelous. I used to sit on my bedroom floor with my NC road map spread out in front of me and try to trace the routes I wanted to take, mapping out how I'd get there from home or Dad's and how I'd get back.

I never thought much about the logistics of it--how I'd carry my stuff, where I'd sleep, how long it might take--because it was just an idle fantasy, not something I thought I'd ever be able to actually do. Once I outgrew my childhood bike and left home I pretty much forgot about it.

Then a couple years ago I started cycling and absolutely fell in love with it, and suddenly I started dreaming of touring again. Sometime near the end of last year I started reading touring forums obsessively, and thinking that once I became a stronger rider, I'd start planning one- and two-night bike trips. A few months ago I realized that doing the sort of rides I am motivated to do is exactly what will make me a stronger rider, and started planning for real. And early Saturday afternoon I took off for my first overnight bike adventure.



The plan: Leave from Embarcadero BART around midday, ride to and over the Golden Gate Bridge, then head ~30 miles north to Samuel P. Taylor State Park to enjoy the scenery, camp overnight, then return the next day the same way. It was a solo trip, partly because I wanted to work out any awkward navigation or loaded bike handling issues on my own, and partly because I've been needing a bit of a retreat and this sounded like the perfect way to get it.

I got a much later start than planned since breakfast with Paul and a visiting friend took longer than usual, and then getting to the bridge took a ridiculous amount of time because tourists on rental bikes. After that, though, the ride up was mostly very pleasant. I was surprised by how much of it was on bike paths and well-marked bike routes. I was using a route I'd created on Open Street Maps and loaded onto my Garmin for navigation and that worked really well, but it doesn't recalculate for the many detours there were. I had my phone, of course, but the bike route signs kept me from having to consult it much. I wasn't sure how much my gear would slow me down, but I was able to keep up a decent pace, at least on the flats. Climbing the hills was of course much slower and harder, but even they weren't that bad until the end.

The worst part of the ride--of the whole weekend--was White's Hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, about 8 miles from the park. It's a short, steep climb that would have been challenging for me under normal circumstances, but with 20 pounds of gear strapped to my bike, at the end of a long day and right after another long, steady, draining climb, felt nearly impossible. I had to stop a lot, and I walked the steepest parts. Knowing how long it was taking me to travel a single mile, and how little daylight I had left, was really disheartening. There was a bit of a fun descent after I reached the top, though, and then I shifted into the big ring and booked it toward Lagunitas, where I planned to stop at the last little store before the park for water and dinner supplies.

It was, of course, closed. D'oh. Thankfully there was an Indian restaurant nearby that was still open, so I bought water, soda, and dinner there. The food was meh but it was fuel, and I foraged some blackberries from the roadside for dessert.

I finally made it to the campground just before sunset. The ride through the redwoods in the twilight was stunning, and mostly melted away the frustration of the hill ordeal. I stopped at the ranger station and asked if there was any space left at the hiker-biker site and the ranger said, "Technically no, but I'll let you in anyway. That'll be $5, please." I love state parks.



I had just enough time to claim a rough, uneven little spot and set up my tent before it got fully dark. A couple of the other bike campers stopped by to ask if I needed any help and remind me to lock up my food to keep the raccoons away, but after that I had the evening to myself. Well, once I shooed the two GIANT FREAKING RACCOONS away from my bike, where they were trying their best to get to the empty food bar wrapper I'd accidentally left in my top tube bag.

I was really happy with all my gear. My tent sets up in minutes and is exactly the perfect size for me and my stuff, and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad were quite comfortable and warm--even with a minor zipper malfunction. Having both my lantern and headlamp as well as my bike headlight for light was useful, and I love how my white tent amplifies the light. The backup battery I brought was perfect for keeping my phone charged through two full days of heavy use, though I wish I'd brought the cable that would have let me charge my Garmin, too. And little stuff like the headband I wore around my wrist to wipe the sweat and dirt from my eyes, the insulated Klean Kanteen that kept my iced coffee cold and my chicken biryani warm, and the comfortable technical shirt I wore instead of a bike jersey were really nice to have. I packed pretty well, too: I was aiming for 15 lbs. of gear, allowing for 30, and ended up with 20. Other than my camera and first aid/emergency kit I didn't pack a single thing I didn't use--and I wish I'd used my camera. I really should have brought an extra pair of bike shorts, though, and more food, and maybe my camp stove. Sunglasses would have been great, too--riding into the setting sun on Saturday and then into the rising sun on Sunday was kinda rough. I've been putting off ordering the nice prescription sport sunglasses I want because they're so expensive, but I think protecting my eyes is definitely worth it.

In the morning I packed up and headed out early enough that I'd have time to enjoy the scenery I wasn't able to on the way there, and make any stops I wanted to. The Lagunitas Grocery & Deli was open so I had a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine there, and 10 miles later I stopped for coffee at a little Java Hut in Fairfax that's such a popular stop for cyclists that they have nice pumps leashed to the benches and the gaggle of young, giggly baristas seemed to know many of the cyclists by name, even the ones who weren't local. I chatted with a bunch of other riders, including couple of French roadies who invited me to join their ride up to Point Reyes and reminded me that "There is no bike ride without coffee."

I was having an issue with my bike shorts that was starting to make riding unpleasant, so instead of riding all the way back to the bridge I stopped in Larkspur and took the ferry back to SF. I love ferries, so it was a nice way to end my adventure.

Next time--there is definitely going to be a next time!--I will leave earlier, bring more food and extra bike shorts, and either take a different route to get to the bridge or just skip it and take the ferry from SF to Sausalito and start there if I'm heading north again. And I might consider reserving an actual campsite rather than taking a spot in the hiker-biker camp, since that way I'll get a flat piece of ground and my very own table, firepit, and raccoon locker. :)
rhiannonstone: (bike)
When I was little I dreamed of bike touring. I didn't know that's what it was called, or even that it was an actual thing that people actually did. I just knew that I saw these mysterious little signs on the road during trips to see [livejournal.com profile] xandyssin, and the idea of hopping on my bike and following those signs all day sounded marvelous. I used to sit on my bedroom floor with my NC road map spread out in front of me and try to trace the routes I wanted to take, mapping out how I'd get there from home or Dad's and how I'd get back.

I never thought much about the logistics of it--how I'd carry my stuff, where I'd sleep, how long it might take--because it was just an idle fantasy, not something I thought I'd ever be able to actually do. Once I outgrew my childhood bike and left home I pretty much forgot about it.

Then a couple years ago I started cycling and absolutely fell in love with it, and suddenly I started dreaming of touring again. Sometime near the end of last year I started reading touring forums obsessively, and thinking that once I became a stronger rider, I'd start planning one- and two-night bike trips. A few months ago I realized that doing the sort of rides I am motivated to do is exactly what will make me a stronger rider, and started planning for real. And early Saturday afternoon I took off for my first overnight bike adventure.



The plan: Leave from Embarcadero BART around midday, ride to and over the Golden Gate Bridge, then head ~30 miles north to Samuel P. Taylor State Park to enjoy the scenery, camp overnight, then return the next day the same way. It was a solo trip, partly because I wanted to work out any awkward navigation or loaded bike handling issues on my own, and partly because I've been needing a bit of a retreat and this sounded like the perfect way to get it.

I got a much later start than planned since breakfast with Paul and a visiting friend took longer than usual, and then getting to the bridge took a ridiculous amount of time because tourists on rental bikes. After that, though, the ride up was mostly very pleasant. I was surprised by how much of it was on bike paths and well-marked bike routes. I was using a route I'd created on Open Street Maps and loaded onto my Garmin for navigation and that worked really well, but it doesn't recalculate for the many detours there were. I had my phone, of course, but the bike route signs kept me from having to consult it much. I wasn't sure how much my gear would slow me down, but I was able to keep up a decent pace, at least on the flats. Climbing the hills was of course much slower and harder, but even they weren't that bad until the end.

The worst part of the ride--of the whole weekend--was White's Hill on Sir Francis Drake Blvd, about 8 miles from the park. It's a short, steep climb that would have been challenging for me under normal circumstances, but with 20 pounds of gear strapped to my bike, at the end of a long day and right after another long, steady, draining climb, felt nearly impossible. I had to stop a lot, and I walked the steepest parts. Knowing how long it was taking me to travel a single mile, and how little daylight I had left, was really disheartening. There was a bit of a fun descent after I reached the top, though, and then I shifted into the big ring and booked it toward Lagunitas, where I planned to stop at the last little store before the park for water and dinner supplies.

It was, of course, closed. D'oh. Thankfully there was an Indian restaurant nearby that was still open, so I bought water, soda, and dinner there. The food was meh but it was fuel, and I foraged some blackberries from the roadside for dessert.

I finally made it to the campground just before sunset. The ride through the redwoods in the twilight was stunning, and mostly melted away the frustration of the hill ordeal. I stopped at the ranger station and asked if there was any space left at the hiker-biker site and the ranger said, "Technically no, but I'll let you in anyway. That'll be $5, please." I love state parks.



I had just enough time to claim a rough, uneven little spot and set up my tent before it got fully dark. A couple of the other bike campers stopped by to ask if I needed any help and remind me to lock up my food to keep the raccoons away, but after that I had the evening to myself. Well, once I shooed the two GIANT FREAKING RACCOONS away from my bike, where they were trying their best to get to the empty food bar wrapper I'd accidentally left in my top tube bag.

I was really happy with all my gear. My tent sets up in minutes and is exactly the perfect size for me and my stuff, and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad were quite comfortable and warm--even with a minor zipper malfunction. Having both my lantern and headlamp as well as my bike headlight for light was useful, and I love how my white tent amplifies the light. The backup battery I brought was perfect for keeping my phone charged through two full days of heavy use, though I wish I'd brought the cable that would have let me charge my Garmin, too. And little stuff like the headband I wore around my wrist to wipe the sweat and dirt from my eyes, the insulated Klean Kanteen that kept my iced coffee cold and my chicken biryani warm, and the comfortable technical shirt I wore instead of a bike jersey were really nice to have. I packed pretty well, too: I was aiming for 15 lbs. of gear, allowing for 30, and ended up with 20. Other than my camera and first aid/emergency kit I didn't pack a single thing I didn't use--and I wish I'd used my camera. I really should have brought an extra pair of bike shorts, though, and more food, and maybe my camp stove. Sunglasses would have been great, too--riding into the setting sun on Saturday and then into the rising sun on Sunday was kinda rough. I've been putting off ordering the nice prescription sport sunglasses I want because they're so expensive, but I think protecting my eyes is definitely worth it.

In the morning I packed up and headed out early enough that I'd have time to enjoy the scenery I wasn't able to on the way there, and make any stops I wanted to. The Lagunitas Grocery & Deli was open so I had a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine there, and 10 miles later I stopped for coffee at a little Java Hut in Fairfax that's such a popular stop for cyclists that they have nice pumps leashed to the benches and the gaggle of young, giggly baristas seemed to know many of the cyclists by name, even the ones who weren't local. I chatted with a bunch of other riders, including couple of French roadies who invited me to join their ride up to Point Reyes and reminded me that "There is no bike ride without coffee."

I was having an issue with my bike shorts that was starting to make riding unpleasant, so instead of riding all the way back to the bridge I stopped in Larkspur and took the ferry back to SF. I love ferries, so it was a nice way to end my adventure.

Next time--there is definitely going to be a next time!--I will leave earlier, bring more food and extra bike shorts, and either take a different route to get to the bridge or just skip it and take the ferry from SF to Sausalito and start there if I'm heading north again. And I might consider reserving an actual campsite rather than taking a spot in the hiker-biker camp, since that way I'll get a flat piece of ground and my very own table, firepit, and raccoon locker. :)
rhiannonstone: (Default)
SpaceX's successful launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station is by far the coolest and most exciting thing I've read in weeks. The next handful of major advances in space travel are surely going to be made by privately-owned ventures like SpaceX, and it's easy to see a path--a long path, and probably an expensive and chaotic one, but a viable path all the same--from this morning's launch to private commercial space travel within my lifetime. That is so cool.

Updates in realtime at the Mission Status Center.

More cool stuff:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
"Did you walk up to Volunteer Park to watch the eclipse?" was the first thing Ricki said to Priscilla when she came by her apartment Monday noon.
"Nope. Didn't make it outdoors," said Priscilla, yawning.
"You watched it on TV then?"
"No, I didn't."
"You didn't see it
at all?"
"I listened to it," said Priscilla. "I listened to it on the radio. It sounded like bacon frying."

--Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

I mostly missed yesterday's eclipse. I had vague notions of finding somewhere to go watch it, but when Sunday evening rolled around and the #eclipse tweets started rolling in I was home in my jammies trying to have a relaxing rest of the weekend. I threw together a simple pinhole projector and ran outside a couple times to try to see it, but we don't have a very good line of sight to the sun during that time of day. I finally caught the tiniest sliver of a shadow at the very end. It did not sound like bacon frying.

*******************************

I'd been looking forward to having my weekends back now that the big ride is over and I no longer feel like I have to devote the weekends to training, but the weekends have still been pretty packed and over much too soon. Last weekend I spent Saturday running errands and trying to catch up on a couple weeks of neglected housework, and all day Sunday getting the rest of my tattoo outlined (oh, how I love it! Pictures soon). This past weekend I co-presented an all-day training on Saturday that was fun but a little draining, and yesterday there was brunch and coffee and The Avengers and more errands and then somehow the day was nearly gone.

(I really, really enjoyed Avengers. It was just a ridiculous amount of fun, with a lot of the things I love about comic books, and just enough Joss Whedon to warm my fangirl heart and give the movie more brains then these things usually have, but not so much that it took away from the 'splodey action goodness.)

I don't really know what I mean by "having my weekends back." I need time to take care of the cooking and errands and housework and all the other things I don't have time to take care of during the week. But I also really want a couple of days that are relatively unscheduled and free of obligations, where I can just relax and enjoy spending time with my loved ones. And I want to be able to go out and do fun stuff, too: hang out with friends, take short trips, go for bike rides, and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather. Lacking a TARDIS or a time-turner I can't fit all that into one weekend, especially not on top of all the other things (important, enriching, fun, and useful things) I find myself committing to. Maybe what I really want is a vacation. I'm certainly looking forward to the three-day weekend coming up.
rhiannonstone: (bike)
Sunday I rode 50 miles for the Napa Valley Tour de Cure. It's the longest ride I've ever done, and probably also the hardest, though it feels weird to say that right now when I'm feeling so great. I was expecting to be wrecked for days, but I woke up the next day feeling surprisingly okay. A little stiff and achy, but my PT stretches took care of a lot of that, and an amazing intense deep-tissue massage at Spa Villagio too care of most of the rest. Today I'm still feeling pretty good--my most notable sore bits are actually from the massage and yesterday's long trek home, not the ride.

It was definitely a very challenging ride, though. I was most worried about the heat, and it did suck, even with an early morning start and being vigilant about staying hydrated. By midday I'd unzipped my jersey all the way and was seriously considering taking it off and riding in just my sports bra and shorts, and sheer vanity (which I don't usually have on the bike, but there were too many cameras around) is the only thing that stopped me.

I hadn't been too worried about the hills, so I wasn't fully prepared for ~20 miles of rolling terrain. The upside: I didn't have a chance to psych myself out. The downside: every time I thought, "Surely this is the last climb!" there was another.

There were also long stretches of crappy pavement that made me fear for my rims and my wrists, killer headwinds that made the last 4 miles feel harder than the first 40, and the unfortunate and uncomfortable discovery that the padding on my fanciest and most expensive bike shorts bunch up and chafe most unpleasantly after about 20 miles. I ate well and frequently enough, but there were a couple times where I needed fuel but the thought of anything on my stomach made me want to puke, so I just chewed some Sport Beans and spit them out in hopes that I could trick my body into continuing until I could handle eating again.

But overall it was a great ride. Lots of gorgeous scenery, and it was fun to pass the wineries I've visited with friends and family and remember the great times we had. Even though I was slow up the hills, I got to spend a good deal of time going very fast on the descents and flats. My new bike performed beautifully. The rest stops were pretty well-stocked (one even had Dr Pepper!) and they helped a lot--not just having an opportunity to refill my water bottles and replenish calories, but also a getting the chance to get off the bike, stretch my legs, and rest a bit, just like I do on my solo rides. And at the end I'd ridden 50 miles! And it didn't suck! And I would totally do it again!

I rolled into the finish shortly after [personal profile] gayathri and [profile] llamaeyes, and we didn't have to wait long to cheer [profile] byronium on as he finished the 100-mile ride, which still blows my mind. I am so proud of all of us! And grateful to everyone who offered their support, in the form of donations and cards and texts and other well-wishes. Cycling is a very personal, self-centered activity, which is one of the reasons I love it, but it's still very nice to know my loved ones are rooting for my success.

After a little rest and the best shower I've ever had, we all met at Hurley's for a very tasty recovery dinner (Cocktails! Pasta! Wine! Steak!), and then I went back to my hotel. I'd thought I might go for a swim, or hang out in the bar, or even find some trouble to get into in town, but while I was thinking about it I promptly fell asleep sitting up, with my laptop in my lap and a water bottle in my hand. It was a very good sleep.

******************************

What's the next challenge? As far as organized events go, the Gran Fondo is coming up in September and I want to kick last-year-me's ass on the Piccolo and finish it faster and stronger, and I think maybe I'd like to try for a metric century (100 km/~62 mi) sometime next year. Maybe. I've got my heart set on bike touring, though, so my main goal is to ride from home to Point Reyes for an overnight trip by my next birthday, so I'm going to keep riding until that seems doable and then do it.
rhiannonstone: (body)
The appointment with the sports doc went just fine. He was kind, helpful, and efficient, and didn't say a single word about my weight. Dr. Fancypants' diagnosis of my knee issue is patellofemoral sysndome, specifically chrondomalicia patellae. Also known as Runner's Knee (and please excuse me for a moment while I fall out laughing that I have something called Runner's Knee hahahahahaha), it's when the patella stops tracking properly in the femoral groove and starts wearing away at the protective cartilage beneath, causing a loud crackle-and-pop when I bend my knee and the feeling that there is sandpaper beneath my kneecaps, as well as some related front and side knee pain. Patellar mis-tracking can happen for a bunch of different reasons, but is apparently very common in women, as our wider hips mean the angle where the femur and tibia come together tends to be greater than men's, often leading to imablanced strength in our quadriceps, the muscle group attached to the tendon responsible for knee movement.

It can't be cured--that cartilage does not grow back--but it can be treated with exercises that strengthen the quads and other muscles to help maintain proper alignment, so I've got a prescription for physical therapy. Most likely just a few sessions so I can learn the exercises well enough to do them at home. If I don't see any improvement after that, the next step would be injections of hyaluronic acid, which basically acts as knee lube, but Dr. Fancypants thinks that probably won't be necessary for me since I am "still young and highly functional."

And the best part is that he encouraged me to keep cycling as much as I want, because it's great for the quads and nice to the knees as long as I maintain proper form. The only thing I really have to avoid is prolonged direct pressure on the kneecaps (so no kneeling on hard surfaces for very long--I'll need to get some cushions for yoga) and activities like leg lifts that push the knee in the wrong direction.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Quality time with my loved ones has been hard to come by lately, so even though my training schedule called for rides on Saturday and Sunday I decided to say fuck Rule 11* and stay home and hang out with Paul on Saturday. We ran a few errands and grilled burgers and bratwurst because it was too hot to cook inside, but mostly we just chilled, and it was nice.

Sunday we had brunch al fresco with friends, then I took off on the bike for a long ride. I may have finally learned the lesson that unfamiliar routes make for poor solo training rides. My plan to ride along the shoreline down to Union City and BART back was thwarted when I found myself on a highway median in Oakland, trying to reconcile the map's idea of a bike-friendly road with all the Freeway Entrance signs and highway traffic zooming around me. I finally gave up and took the bridge to Alameda for a nice flat ride around the island, but there was still a lot of stop-and-go for traffic lights, beach jaywalkers, and map-checking.

And then on my way back into Oakland I got trapped in the middle of a caravan of stretch Hummers and other flashy rental cars blocking traffic and my bike lane, blasting music, and honking their horns. Not just a couple happy hoots here and there, but multiple vehicles banging on their horns relentlessly. Clearly it was an important celebration of some sort--it was mostly young men in suits, many of them hanging out of the cars and filming everything with their iPhones--and I am generally a fan of celebrations, even loud, public-peace-disturbing ones. But being trapped in the middle of honking vehicles without the protective sound-dampening steel of a car eventually got to me, and it is possible that an incredibly rare instance of me losing my temper in public has been immortalized in someone's wedding/prom/wake video. Oops.

So it was a slow-going 35 miles, and my stats are pretty sad, but I felt great and made very good time when I was actually moving. The last few miles were a bit of a struggle, almost like I was riding through sand, and I figured I'd just run out of steam. Then I discovered before my training ride today that my rear tire had gone completely flat, and found a small puncture from what appeared to be an industrial staple.

I generally love urban riding, but I'm really looking forward to riding in some slightly less urban terrain this weekend. :)


*Fuck all The Rules, really. But that's another post.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
I had a post-in-progress that started off wondering how March is almost over already--and of course now we're more than halfway through April, and I have no idea how. I have got to stop letting time slip through my fingers like this. It's not like I'm not having novel experiences or making full use of my time, it's just that I don't give myself much time to sit down and process. So one day it's the end of March and then life happens and the next time I sit down to write it's already mid-April.

*******************************

March was a very rollercoastery month. It started off with an awesome birthday, which involved an extended week of celebrations with friends and loved ones and culminated with a wonderful oceanside BBQ at Crissy Field with stunningly gorgeous weather where I got all my (local) people together in the same place for the first time ever, and nothing went horribly wrong. We feasted on crab and oysters and other delicious noms, and played in the sunshine, and just generally had a blast.

And I got a new bike! Not for my birthday, it's something I'd been thinking about and researching for awhile. My first big-girl bike served me very well, but after spending more and more time riding it became clear that I needed something better geared (literally and figuratively) for long, often hilly road rides and better fit to my body. I did a bunch of reasearch and test riding and eventually settled on a Jamis Coda Comp Femme. She is purple and beautiful and, especially now that I've swapped out the handlebars, grips, saddle, and pedals for ones that work better for me, I love her. Her name is Leela--not after Turanga Leela, though it's fitting, but after the 4th Doctor's companion, and the Sanskrit word for "divine play."

The day after I brought her home, it started raining. And raining. And raining. In March! It's not supposed to rain here in March! It was frustrating not being able to ride my shiny new bike, especially since I'm training for a 50-mile ride in early May. When the rain showed no signs of letting up I ordered a bunch of rain gear, found out some of it sucked (rain capes are a great idea in theory, but in practice they are essentially water-collecting wind-resistance-increasing sails), ordered some more, and made myself do a few wet rides. In light rains it's no problem--it's actually kinda fun, once I got used to the reduced braking power, and I barely even need the waterproof outerwear--but in heavy downpours it's just miserable. I'm glad I've got a good rain jacket, helmet cover, and rain pants now, but I'm hoping I don't have to use them much.

Life on the bike has been almost entirely about training lately--racking up miles and saddle time, working on my form, trying to get to the point where riding 50 miles in a reasonable amount of time seems like a doable thing. I'm definitely getting there, despite the obstacles the universe keeps presenting me: the rain, knee problems, and a crash weekend before last. The rain seems to have finally stopped, I'm getting the knee problems under control with proper cycling form and lots of ice (and I have an appointment with a sports doc next week), and the crash was not nearly as bad as it could have been. I still don't know exactly what happened (and I hate that part), but I discovered that I'd stocked my first-aid kit well, and both the bike and I escaped with only minor cosmetic damages. There will be scars, but chicks dig scars, right?

I had some more work done on my tattoo, but it didn't go very well. The plan had been to finish coloring the bunny-and-flowers entirely and maybe start outlining the rest of the piece, but due to various factors I was extra-bleedy, which made it difficult for the artist to work, so we stopped after an hour and a half. I didn't mind so much, because it was also extra-painful. The next session, just last weekend, went much better--no crazy bleeding, much more bearable pain, and now the bunny is completely finished! I have the next session scheduled for after the Tour de Cure, so I don't have to factor healing time into the rest of my training, and I can't wait to see the rest of it start to take shape.

Work has been alternately frustrating and gratifying, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. I have come to accept that the nature of the beast that is our small, dysfunctional company is a chaotic one, and I can work with that for now. Esepcially when I get to work with it in my pajamas at home most days.

My personal life has been equally chaotic, but I'm feeling a little less Zen about that.

*******************************

So far April's been a rollercoaster ride, too. I'm trying to remember to hang on loosely and relax into the curves.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
In the past I've been a little irrationally annoyed with Leap Day, because grr argh meaningless artifical construct of time. This time around I'm inclined to see it as a little bit magical, a day that doesn't really exist, time hidden from the eyes of the gods. When I said this on Twitter this morning, a friend pointed out that saying that sounded like a great way to get Coyote to mess with me. She's got a point, but I figure with Rabbit tattooed on my back, I've already got the attention of the tricksters. And on the eve of my birthday, I've got a feeling this is going to be the year of poking at gods and other sacred things with sticks.

******************************

Leap Day Ephemera, Beautiful Things Edition:
  • A beautiful rant about why photography in all forms is amazing and the photography snobs bemoaning the dying of their elite art can go suck it.
  • The human form in bike chains: Bike chain sculptures more detailed and beautiful than I could have imagined possible
Body and Mind Edition: Silly Stuff Edition:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
The marathon itself was a smashing success, both in terms of film lineup and our personal logistics. I guess after 11 years(!) of doing this we've got it down. Arrived at the theater at the right time, set up camp in our usual seats, wore appropriately warm and comfortable layers of clothing, and packed just enough snacks and supplies to keep us happy without taking up too much space. I also stayed awake for the most time I ever have during the 'thon, with just a little napping during Scanners and the first few minutes of Paul. I'm not sure what to attribute it to--I wasn't even using a caffeine optimization app!--but it worked out nicely, since I wanted to see most everything.

The films! )

The trailer for the the winner and my favorite, Dimensions:

rhiannonstone: (Default)
We got back from the annual Crazy Boston Trip Tuesday night. It was astonishingly smooth and stressless. Despite the long flights, the tight scheduling, and the thoroughly discombobulated sleep schedule, at no point did I feel that bone-tired, stretched-thin, soul-sucked feeling I have come to associate with long-distance travel and that trip, especially.

The worst thing that happened was having to opt out of the backscatter machines at BOS, and subsequently getting interro-groped. The new talk-screening would be hilarious if it (and the rest of the process) weren't so infuriating. Our screeners (and the others I observed while avoiding eye contact with the woman patting me down) totally failed at the friendly chat they've been framing this as. The questions were rapid-fire and accusatory, but about the most trivial of things, and the juxtaposition is startling enough that it seems almost impossible to respond in a non-suspicious manner.

******************************

While we were planning the trip last month, I had been feeling a little cranky about the fact that we never do anything new or different when we go, just the usual routine of traveling, the marathon, recovering in the hotel room, and the same couple restaurants before and after. After talking about it some with Paul I resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen unless we scheduled some extra time, and that doesn't really work out for us--not least because I don't actually want to spend any more time in the cold than necessary. But just a couple days before we left I was chatting with a dear friend about the upcoming trip, and she insisted we had to check out Journeyman. I trust her taste in food implicitly, so I called and made reservations for a very late dinner the evening we arrived. They impressed me right from the start, because I was concerned about having to cancel if our flight was late, and they were very sweet and kind about it, assuring me that they'd understand, and wishing us a safe flight.

We made it on time, though, and had an absolutely amazing experience. One of the top 5 meals of my life so far, hands down. The 7-course tasting menu showcased strong flavors, local foods, and an interesting variety of techniques: a little bit of modern American, a little bit of classic French, and a little bit of modernist/molecular. The beverage pairings, which included beer, wine, and vermouth, were all perfect. And it was exactly the right amount of food--we left thoroughly satisfied but not feeling like the chefs had been preparing to harvest our livers.

Between the day of travel and the generous beer and wine pours and being delirious with the sheer pleasure of the meal, some of the details are fuzzy, but there are a few standout dishes that I am still daydreaming about:
  • Our first amuse-bouche: egg foam with salmon roe, lentil salad with mustard, and a ridiculously delicious pastrami-spiced veal consomme.
  • Celeriac custard with celeriac foam and chive oil
  • Spheres of some deliciously stinky Italian cheese atop potato puree, with crumbled potato cookies and shaved black truffles
  • Cold foie gras torchon with (freeze-dried?) chocolate, rye bread, and some sort of dark beer reduction
  • The pre-dessert palate cleanser: a disc of lemony Greek yogurt, bruleed.
It was all fantastic, though. The only thing that wasn't absolutely perfect for me was the bergamot ice cream in the final course, which, after working with bergamot oil in other contexts my whole life, my brain just could not process as foodstuff. Paul liked it a lot, though.

I am not going to mind the routine so much if this becomes a part of it. ;)
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Happy Valentine's Day!

This is our biggest holiday at work--so much so that we have our company holiday party in February instead of December--but since we're an Internet retailer, all the craziness stopped at the Overnight shipping cutoff yesterday afternoon, and today is a day of rest.

So I'm taking the afternoon off to get my new tattoo started. Squee!

******************************

Because I have a giant schoolgirl crush on most of you, here are the cards I would fill your pretty pink-and-red construction paper envelopes with:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
By happy conincidence, my evening plans last night took me to the Castro. The atmosphere got approximately 90% more celebratory as soon as I stepped off the Muni at Castro station, and it took me just a minute to realize why. There was a rally going on nearby that I never saw (and apparently one over at City Hall, too), but there were folks with signs and big happy grins, and lots of joyous shouting, and every 20 minutes or so someone in the bar I was at (which is apparently known as the gay Cheers?) called for a toast to marriage equality. It was a pretty great place to be at that moment in time.

******************************

Some links for your hump day afternoon slacking pleasure:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Last week I woke up to an email from LiveJournal telling me that an account I'd never heard of was going to be purged. I assumed it was a phish until I saw other people posting about receiving purge notices, so I logged in to check it out--and managed to delete this account. Oops. Luckily I was able to re-instate it immediately. I know I haven't been posting much, but LJ has been a part of my life for so long--long enough for me to have created accounts I have no memory of, apparently!--that it's difficult to imagine life without it.

******************************

Apropos of nothing else, I present to you the OMG-AR15 Unicorn Zombie Gun.


You know, I've got a birthday coming up...

******************************

Speaking of my upcoming birthday, this year my present to myself is going to be ink, and lots of it. I seem to be making an every-other-year habit of it, which is kind of funny since I've never really considered myself a tattoo sort of person. But I've been wanting to improve/expand upon the magnolia on my upper back for awhile, and I've been sketching the same idea over and over again for much of the past year, so I decided to go ahead and do it.

I met with the artist last week to start planning it out for real, and it was a really fun process--she loves working with the specific elements of the design, and seems to get exactly what I want with regard to style and color and how I want it to work with the landscape of my body. It's going to take multiple sessions, which is new for me. I'm a little worried about going around feeling unfinished for awhile, but it'll be worth it to get it just right. My first appointment, to finalize the first part of the design and start inking, is next week! I'm excited.
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving!

In past years I've posted detailed lists of all the things, big and small, that I have to be thankful for. I've got a lot to be thankful for this year, too--a steady job and good health and lots of little luxuries--but now more than ever I am most grateful for the abundance of love and friendship in my life. Without that, nothing else I have would matter.

******************************

Still worried about getting the turkey just right? Tante Mary has the secret to save your Thanksgiving: just put the fucking turkey in the oven.


And more Thanksgiving food advice:
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Last night I got to talking with my aesthetician about the state of sex education in America. Y'know, as you do. She's in her early 20s, grew up in northern California and has lived here all her life, and had no idea that in much of the rest of the country, comprehensive sex ed isn't taught in schools. She reasoned that people from those parts of the country must be why shows like 16 and Pregnant and I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant exist, since she's never understood how people could be so ignorant about sex, their bodies, and relationships. Unfortunately there wasn't time during the span of a 20-minute hoo-ha wax to explain to her that it's not just teenagers, or people from certain parts the country, but a pervasive lack of good information and a ton of fundamental biases about gender, sex, and sexuality that is nationwide and affects people of all ages. Maybe next time.

She was also surprised that I talk to people not just about STDs and how not to get pregnant, but about relationships and communication, and didn't understand why I think it's an integral part of sex ed. This is why:
rhiannonstone: (bike)
I haven't written much about biking for awhile. I've still been riding lots and mostly loving it, but I also had a couple particularly challenging rides that left me feeling pretty down and wondering why on earth I ever thought I could do it, and it took me awhile to crawl out of the hole and to feel okay talking about it. I had about a month of nonstop bike anxiety dreams: getting hopelessly lost without a map, phone, or friend; my tires disintegrating or splitting open, my wheels falling off, my brakes failing; and worst of all, waking up on the morning of a big important ride to discover that my bike had been replaced with something I had no idea how to ride.

And yet somewhere in there I signed up for the October 1 Levi's GranFondo, a popular event in the Sonoma Valley that [profile] byronium and [personal profile] gayathri had done last year and sounded like a fun challenge. I'd been thinking about it for awhile and had actually decided not to do it for various reasons, the main one being that the moral support I knew I'd need wasn't going to be available to me. But then Valerie decided to go, and knowing that I'd have a friend of similar skill and fitness level to leapfrog up the hills with made it pretty easy for her to talk me into it, too. We both signed up for the shortest route, the 31mi/50km Piccolo Fondo, but it was still going to be the longest ride I'd ever done, and with a pretty significant climb, so I was both really nervous and really excited about it (but mostly really nervous).

******************************

We all went up for a practice ride the last weekend in August, and it kicked my ass, hard. Struggling-not-to-pass-out, this-close-to-sitting-on-the-side-of-the-road-crying hard. This did not help my confidence level. On one hand it was nice to know that I could at least complete the route, even if it took me 6+ hours and made me feel like ass, but on the other, I wasn't sure I actually wanted to if it was going to feel that bad, or if I'd be able train enough before the real thing to make it easier on my body and a less unpleasant experience overall.

I didn't get in nearly as much training as I wanted to or should have, of course. I did a few short, intense bursts of hill training in my neighborhood, and I got in a few longer, easier rides to try to help build my confidence back up, but I still felt woefully unprepared and like I'd bitten off way more than I could bike. It wasn't until the weekend just before the 'Fondo, when I did an amazingly beautiful and exhilarating solo ride in the Berkeley/Oakland hills, that I really got my confidence back and fell back in love with being on the bike.

It's a good thing, too, because Valerie had been sick for a couple weeks, and the week before the GranFondo she let me know that she was neither well enough to ride nor well enough to come along to hang out and cheer us all on. I understood completely, but it left me on my own for both logistics and moral support, and if I'd still been as freaked out about the ride as I was just a couple weeks earlier, I'd have backed out of going. Instead I allowed myself a brief period of freaking out and feeling sorry for myself and then put on my big-girl panties and made the necessary arrangements to get me and my bike to and from Santa Rosa. Thank goodness for Paul, who immediately stepped up to offer whatever logistical support I needed. I ended up deciding to go up on my own Friday, but he picked me up on Saturday so I didn't have to deal with 4 hours of public transit after a 31-mile ride.

******************************

The bike+BART+bus trip to Santa Rosa was fairly pleasant, especially once I'd stopped worrying about my bike falling off the front of the bus (fucking bike racks, how do they work??). I got in a little later than I'd originally planned but still in time to meet Byron and Gayathri for a carbolicious dinner at a cute little Italian place with dishes named after famous cyclists. Afterward they were kind enough to take me to registration and drop me back at the hotel, where it finally sank in that holy shit this is happening tomorrow, and I started feeling really anxious again. I asked Byron if he had time to come by for a hug, which helped, gave my bike some last-minute love, and then went for a swim to try to calm my nerves and wear myself out enough to sleep. I had the pool entirely to myself and it was wonderful, but it didn't work. Well after I should have gone to bed, I tweeted "Can't sleep, hills will eat me."

But I did eventually sleep, and I woke up in time, and survived a really dumb no-lights ride in the morning darkness over to the start (thank goodness for all the other really dumb lightless cyclists doing the same thing--we made lots of noise for each other). By the time I got there my anxiety had turned mostly into excitement, though seeing the sea of 7,499 other riders was really intimidating. I gulped down a chocolate milk, wished Byron and Gayathri a good ride once they arrived, and took my place way, way behind them with the rest of the "Intermediate Beginners."

The ride itself was challenging. And awesome. Once I actually got moving (a mass start with that many other cyclists takes forever and is a hell of a thing to navigate) the first 13 miles or so were pure zoomy bliss. And there were tons of people lining the course with cowbells and signs and balloons cheering us all on! The first difficult bit was the long climb up Graton Road; it was tough and slow-going, but I'd made a friend of one of the other Intermediate Beginners and we kept each other company during rest breaks. Which were many and frequent and often involved most unladylike language (sorry, dude with the 10-year-old). Even so it was much easier for me than it had been on the practice run, and I made it to the rest stop at the turnaround point feeling pretty great. Flying back down Graton Road was lots of fun, and I did okay for the next few miles after that, but then I really started to lose steam and just like on the practice ride, the last 5 miles were the absolute worst. My body was Done. Cytomax and energy chews weren't helping. I wanted to pull over and fall over, but I knew that if I stopped I might not start again, so I didn't. I didn't think it was ever going to end, and when I finally crossed the finish line just 4.5 hours after I started the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears of relief and exhaustion was the fact that people were talking to me and congratulating me, and crying seemed like it might be rude. I had just enough energy left to park my bike and collect my complimentary plate of paella, and then I kind of collapsed onto the nearest empty bit of field, inhaled the paella, and just chilled and reveled in the fact that I fucking did it. And I totally wanna do it again next year. :D
rhiannonstone: (Default)
Remember When? edition:
  • I've posted this many other elsewheres, but it bears sharing here, too: Remember when you woke up full of awesome?
  • Also remember that long-ago time when MTV playing something besides music videos was a rare late-night treat rather than the other way around? Revisit (most of) it at LiquidTelevision.com. There's no Stick Figure Theater, but you can find it elsenet.
San Francisco edition: You Are Not So Smart edition: NSFW edition:

Profile

rhiannonstone: (Default)
rhiannonstone

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 02:31 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios