Another day, another cycling class


This was a strenuous class.  I felt uneasy and stiff during warmup and never quite felt good during the effort.  Even so, my stats are pretty good for the class.  660+ people took the class.  I finished number 223 on the leaderboard.

On the virtual ride across the US, I’m “climbing” Yuba Pass; 2750 mi from NYC with 244 mi left to San Francisco.

Cycling improvement in strength for hill climbing or steady state output for duration rides is very slow.  It is hard to judge over a few weeks span.  Looking back to last August I see substantial gains in both.  It’s in my nature to care about bettering myself and to be competitive with myself and with others at similar ability.  It’s just fun, once the huffing and puffing stops and after recovery.

Back on the Peloton cycle

On the 3000 mile “monster mission”, I’m virtually at Norden in California 27836 mi from NYC with 269 miles to go. 

Yesterday I completed my 250th ride.  I’m pretty happy with this ride.  During the final two minutes I was alternately off pace/resistance and way over resistance to make up for it.  This led to spikes and troughs in output at that time.  I had been closing in on people just ahead on the leaderboard and stretching a lead on those behind when I flagged and dropped back.

This was a fun one.



Ari NaNa

We are visiting Ryan and Jessie at their home in South Carolina. Time Flies.  We arrived a week ago though it feels like it’s been a few days.  We took a few days off to visit Ellen’s half sister in Peachtree City, Georgia.  That felt like a vacation within a vacation.

Jessie had her first daughter in November.  She had wanted to name her Aria and settled on Ariana (Ryan didn’t particularly care for Aria, but liked Ariana).  Ari is the most well behaved baby girl I have ever seen.  She is happy and well cared for.  I’ve only heard her cry on the drive from Savannah to home. It’s an hour round trip and Ari was not happy.  Since that time she has burbled, hiccupped, laughed, and “talked”.  Of course a baby at six months doesn’t talk.  She is verbalizing something.  It’s not a cry or a screech, just excited sounds that a happy baby would make.

Ari has been to restaurants four or five times.  She shows a keen interest in her surroundings particularly if there are bright colored things to look at.  She loves people too.  Such personality in a small baby is remarkable. Then I’m not around babies often. I just might be biased.

Jess calls Ariana, Ari NaNa often.  Her first word could well be NaNa.

Home Irrigation

A few days ago, while attempting to dig out the cover over our six valves I broke the solenoid right off the first valve.  It broke in such a way that replacing the solenoid was not possible.  I had found a solar powered “stand-alone” valve that would allow me to add a seventh valve without upgrading our smart timer.  I’d just dig around our valves and extend a line for the new solar valve.  Simple!  But no, I broke valve #1.

The manifold and valve setup is over a decade old.   Just a few weeks ago I had our gardener service a malfunctioning valve.  So now with a broken valve what do I do?

Replace all the valves!  Yup, change them all out with brand new Irritrol valves.  None of this Home Depot stuff. I went to a local irrigation supply company and got “the good stuff”.  BONUS: they had all the PVC fittings in stock and well organized.

Pulling out the old system was easy.  I made it a point to record which colored wire went to position #1, #1, and so on.  I made it a point to cut the outlet PVC as close to the old valves as possible.  The more pipe is available for re-attachment, the easier things will be.  Removing, building, and replacing the current 1” PVC manifold was no problem.  It was fun gluing and pressing the parts together. Fitting the valves to the manifold was easy too. The only issue was the “seat of the pants” eyeballing and re-measuring required to fit the valves to the old outlet pipes. With copious swearing, lots of digging to open up pipe. cleaning mud off the pipes, getting blue dot glue everywhere, and a few unfortunate errors (like putting glue on the outside of a fitting not the inside, which happens when you’re dealing with 60ish PVC parts), the new irrigation valve manifold came together the second day.

Testing the system went smoothly  No leaks, all the valves worked, and they were assigned correctly. Great, no need to reprogram the “smart controller”.  Glancing down at the manifold, I noticed that one outlet connection had popped out.  Painters call this a “holiday”.  Somehow I had forgotten to glue down one connection.  After letting the lines dry out, the fix was easy.

In addition to the six “old” lines, I extended the manifold outside the cover box and added two screw in lines.  One had the solar valve attached.  The other is capped for future needs.  The solar valve tested out perfectly.  This will be the dedicated citrus tree line for our new lime, tangerine, and tangelo trees.  Our “strawberry line” goes off for three minutes every day to keep our strawberries happy.  Trees on a three minute line would not be happy, hence the need for another.

This afternoon we finished adding drip lines for a number of tomato plants and a Japanese eggplant and put down mulch over the hoses and tubes.  Our back yard is looking good.  Today I noticed a few honey bees circling the lime tree.  This is good news. 

Seven plants that still need planting: a Kaffir Lime, two fragrant yellow Brugmansia, two Gardenia, and two camellia.  Tomorrow will be busy.

<sorry no photos at this time.  I’ll add some tomorrow on a new blog entry>

U.K. officials, doctors decry Trump’s remarks on London stabbings

Our President is quite ignorant, but on purpose.  He’ll say whatever it takes to make a point or to commandeer the news cycle.  This is a case in point:



U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 4, 2018 in Dallas.Nicholas Kamm / AFP – Getty Images


President Donald Trump sparked an uproar across the Atlantic after he suggested that London’s knife problem is worse than gun violence in America and that France’s strict gun laws got in the way of a faster end to the Paris terror attacks of 2015.

Trump was speaking to a National Rifle Association gathering in Dallas Friday when he pointed to reports that stabbings had turned one London doctor’s emergency room into a “war zone.”

“I recently read a story that in London, which has unbelievably tough gun laws, a once very prestigious hospital right in the middle is like a war zone for horrible stabbing wounds,” said Trump, who is scheduled to make his first presidential visit to the U.K. on July 13. “They don’t have guns. They have knives, and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital.”


Trump targets London’s knife crime defending American gun holders


Those British reports last month followed headlines stating that London’s murder rate had surpassed that of New York. However, multiple analyses have since debunked that claim, noting that New York saw 292 murders last year, while London reported 130. The cities have similar population sizes.

Stabbings in the British capital have been on the increase this year. But Labour Party lawmaker Sarah Jones tweeted at Trump, “U.K. knife crime nowhere near your off-the-scale gun deaths.”

The surgeon who made the “war zone” remark, Dr. Martin Griffiths or Royal London Hospital, didn’t endorse Trump’s comments, either. He tweeted that he’s “happy to invite Mr. Trump” to visit his hospital, meet with London’s mayor and talk to the city’s chief of police about the reality of violence there.


London’s knife violence hits younger teens more than ever before

The director of London’s major trauma system, Dr. Karim Brohi, said in a statement that knife violence is indeed “a serious issue for London.”

But Brohi, a fellow Royal London Hospital surgeon, stated, “To suggest guns are part of the solution is ridiculous. Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.”

Trump also said at the NRA convention that “it would have been a whole different story” if a legally armed vigilante was present during the automatic weapons attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris in November of 2015. Eighty-nine people were gunned down at the venue.

France does not recognize a right to bear arms.

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs countered the president’s remarks by stating, essentially, that its overall low rate of gun violence proves firearm restrictions work

California Population Nearly 40 Million

It seems to me that the “conservative hell” that is California appeals to people.  It was asked on quora, “what is it like to live in California” by a conservative who thought it must be a living nightmare here.  Well, it isn’t. The answers to that question on quora pointed that out.  Here’s an article about Cal’s population growth.


CALIFORNIA — California’s population is at a new record this year with nearly 40 million residents. The state Department of Finance this week released new figures stating the Golden State welcomed 309,000 new residents in 2017.

Last year’s 0.78-percent growth rate compares to the 0.86-percent annualized growth rate since the 2010 U.S. Census. Since 2010, when the state’s population was 37,253,956, population growth has averaged 333,000 a year, the department said.

The city of Los Angeles, which is also California’s largest city, grew by almost 33,000 persons (0.8 percent) in 2017, adding on to a population of over four million. San Diego, the state’s second largest city with a population of 1,420,000, added almost 20,000 persons during the year.

San Francisco, with a population of 884,000, added almost 10,000 persons, while Irvine with a population of 276,000, added almost 9,000 persons in 2017. San Jose (1,051,000) rounds out the top five largest numeric changes with an increase of 8,500 persons, the department said.

When it comes to counties, the three fastest growing counties were Merced at 4,900 residents, Placer at 6,400 residents, and San Joaquin at 11,500 residents.


Gentleman Farmer, oops!

Most times I can visualize a process ahead of any mistakes and easily avoid them.  The times this does not happen?  When I’m in the middle of “a thing” and didn’t think it through.  Most times, that is trouble.

I’m planting citrus trees: a lime, a tangerine, and a tangelo.  These will require a separate irrigation line with its own timer.  More on the citrus in another entry.

Today, after visualizing the issues I may have adding a dedicated sprinkler line and valve for our citrus trees, I headed out to dig “a bit” to make the in-place lines more accessible.  “Yup”, I thought, “It would go better if I yanked out the irrigation box.  I’d have better access to the valves.”   So I grabbed a shovel, slid it down the side of the box and levered upwards.  It just wouldn’t budge.  More Force, thought I and it started to move.  Even More Force.  Yup, up it came, but with a spray of water straight upwards!  Not only had I moved the irrigation box, I had yanked one solenoid right out of the valve.

Crap.  No, no, no…   crap.  Luckily our irrigation system has a separate master shut-off valve.  Still I must now decide how to proceed.  The valves are original equipment probably installed more than a decade ago.  Do I fix the immediate problem or do I replace the valve manifold and valves?  That would be a cleaner and more reliable solution.  I’ll head off to a irrigation supply company tomorrow morning and get parts.  Though they’re local, Home Depot carries Rain Bird and I’d rather use Toro parts.

I put in a bed of strawberries that is producing, but requires short daily watering.  I have no time for procrastination on this job.

X-Country Challenge: 80% there


2412 mi from Peloton NY with “just” 595 mi to go.  There is a slew of people virtually pedaling across the country.  There are even seven just starting out in NY.  When finished, I’ll have to do this again and beat my “old” time.

The X-country challenge is facilitated by and established by Peloton rider Angie.  The Peloton cycle updates activities to (a fitness tracking website). sends info to seamlessly.

I took way too much “time off” and my fitness level has dropped off significantly.  I’m crawling back and it’s a daunting realization how far back I slid.  In the past I enjoyed saying, “stupidity is its own reward”.  These days it’s more, “Laziness is it’s own reward”.  The latter applies to me.