Tuesday Trippin’ January 2024

For a little extra cheer, my MIL Tongue or Snake plant in bloom*

January had a lot of “more of the same” as December, but also some differences. We’ve had temperatures colder than my tolerance, some with rain in 3, 5 & 10 day runs causing the dread interruptions that really mess with my equilibrium. I’ve been better at staving off the exercise endorphin highs and lows with the stationary bike. Some time back, my grandson built me a computer deck that attaches to the stationary bike, so I can write while moving. I’ve really gotten good use out of that. I spend a lot of time multitasking.

These monthly updates for the project are going to change a little. They were originally designed to give a progress report in prep for our Kickstarter goal, as keeping supporters up to date on progress is a requirement. The best way to establish that you’re willing to do that is to start, and be consistent, especially when you’re unknown to the market, like us. I’m still going to be consistent and it may well still lead into a video.

But, in recognition of a few things, this segment will become more about what I do to stay healthy as I age. One reason is that the video project is feeling more distant to me now than it ever has, at least in its current form. I’m not so sure I need to put my body through two century (100 mile) rides a week anymore. It might even be more interesting to more people if the video project became more accessible. If people can see themselves doing a thing, it might be easier for them to get behind it. In addition to that, we all have bodies, and we are all aging, no matter the current number is, it’s getting bigger. Some of my posts may be specific to women, but half of us are female, so that’s fine.

I’ve been following Gurdeep Pandher. Sometimes he shows up in my feed just when I need the very stress reduction that he wishes to share. When he does, I take the time to click and watch him dance, and I receive that gift. Sometimes it’s just simple dance. I think I get the easiest attitude adjustment from those bits, and that is really nice. But then, sometimes there is a lot going on, like in this cultural fusion video, and that’s it’s own little trip. I’m going to count following Gurdeep as the first way I share to stay healthier as I age.

Following Gurdeep has helped me in another way too. He recently released a video about positivity. It’s a hoot! I recommend you watch it. It’s less than 4 minutes long, but he says it took him a year and a half to put it together. After scrambling to put our video together, starting from scratch and jumping around hurdles along the way, I believe that. What’s more it helps me cope with some of my feelings of failure and helps me to keep going.

So, there’s our change up, and we’ll see where our new slant on the old direction takes us.

Until next time, have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail!

* I bought this plant from an estate sale. The pot was huge, not garden variety huge. I mean really HUGE. The man who sold it to me was afraid to let me carry it down the stairs from the back deck. I wasn’t completely sure I’d make it myself, but it had belonged to his wife and he wanted it to live. When I got home I wasn’t able to get it out of the car alone. I’ve since divided it into so many smaller pots and given them away to a lot of people. The plants divided from this pot are the only ones I’ve ever had that bloomed. I’ve figured out that at full bloom, they last less than 24 hours, so I snapped this picture last night when I saw it.

Acknowledging the Great Big Giant Elephant

Did you know that motivation follows action? It stinks. It should be the other way around, right? High action individuals never need to notice because there’s always action producing endorphins and feeding inspiration. Like the desire to ride a bike. It springs naturally from the endorphins you got last time you rode (unless you didn’t). Endorphins from any action make you want to repeat and receive the love again, a circular pattern that feeds itself until something breaks.

You have to start the cycle though. I think of it like the pull cord on gas powered lawn mower. For strong people, starting is thoughtlessly easy. But, I can’t reliably pull fast and hard enough to make the motor turn over and get things going. Russ mows and now we’ve gone electric. But, before we got the electric mower, I was never going to be a reliable second, unless someone was home to help me start the mower. There are so many ways we are each other’s safety net.

Why it Matters

Difficult starts and interruptions kill momentum, break the inspiration/action feedback loop and lead to rough stretches. Missing targets leads one to avoid the pain of failure. And there are so many things that also need doing. Unlike my example, sometimes someone to help you start isn’t enough.

I’ve literally been trying not to write this post for years now, (Russ read and approved more than one version). It seems important to address the elephant in the room, though.

We’ve been planning the video cycling project since before the pandemic, writing about it here, postponing our deadlines, moving slowly toward promoting it and kicking ourselves over delays for stated and unstated reasons. Still, we haven’t submitted to the funding process. There are a few reasons that go beyond insecurity and fear of the test. There’s stress we’ve been up front about. Then there’s that stress we talk less about, absent some details for privacy (not just our own). Often it feels like the real problem is too many responsibilities.

A meme in my feed recently said “I hope you win the battle that you never tell anyone about.” I liked it for the kind wishes, but I liked it so much more for the acknowledgement that most people have more to deal with than what they let others see.

Russ, the Giant Teddy Bear

Russ is the glue that holds our family together. The problem is that Russ hasn’t been ok. He wants to be. He’s called it a “funk”, but if it was just a funk, we’d be funded and done with the project, and on to something else.

Russ has been down hard and fighting for air. It’s difficult for people who have never suffered depression to understand. I’m down pretty hard right now myself, and I don’t even understand, not as deeply as he feels it. It’s a very lonely place to be.

In the absence of healthcare coverage, we tend to research the most legitimate information available. After Russ discovered that “freeze” had been added to the “fight or flight” scenario he recognized it as his stress response. “Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn” is the current full list of threat responses.

It makes so much sense for these more recent threat responses to be recognized. “Freeze” isn’t always such a bad coping device. It’s is the opposite of rash. It prevents every mistake except inaction. Inaction creates its own problems though, and “freeze” may be the hardest stress response for outsiders to recognize as any kind of a response at all.

And then…

Depression and anxiety are more challenging with added stress and the world reached new levels of being turned upside. In middle school, I remember wondering what it was like to have brothers and cousins on opposite sides of a war (like the US Civil War, or when families were divided by the Berlin Wall). People everywhere are reflecting on that again. No one really knows how deep the current rifts and chasms, both near and far will get. Many people are too distracted, busy or stressed to let themselves think about it.

Thinking about these things makes a positive outlook harder, but ignoring them has different risks, and depression happens regardless of how one handles stresses. The kind of widespread pain experienced during the pandemic overloaded the collective psyche while Covid crushed hospitals worldwide.

Our private and inner worlds were challenged and stressed before the world became so “stranger than fiction”. It’s no wonder that we’d come up with a project to help others increase health and deal with stress when there’s little or no money to throw at the broken healthcare system in the US.

Our personal challenges haven’t been at bay during the 20+ years we’ve been together. For a while our outlook was promising. But, the recession hurt, other things happened, and we made some choices that were what we needed to be doing for family, but they involved one of us being under-employed for the last 10 years. That wasn’t helpful for our financial recovery, or financial security moving forward. No regrets. None. But, it did add to the stress load.

Deeply Personal and Different for Everyone

Some people didn’t think the pandemic was even real, and others were confused about what to think. Repeating a history so reminiscent of a pandemic 100 years ago made it even harder to grasp in a modern world. Russ was convinced he was likely to die. Between preexisting conditions, his lack of health care coverage, his essential worker status, his now longer hours, and his exposure through work and living conditions, his known risks were high.

There were so many unknowns, a lot of bad information, a lot of bad acts. Denial and irrational fears were amplified by ugly politics. Extraordinary stress is hell on the immune system. Boom, another risk factor! Russ didn’t die, but his fear was not irrational. It was a recognition that this thing few people knew how to deal with was a bigger risk to him, and that many people who were unconcerned had an uncomfortable level of impact on his risk factors.

It didn’t grip me like it did Russ, but I wouldn’t have said with confidence that I expected to live through it. Our household included exposed “essential employees” and school children, as well as people who were reluctant to follow recommended procedures. I was in a higher risk age group and also without health care coverage.

Some of it was Surreal

Most people had surreal experiences. The most important bit of security anyone gave us during that dark time was when my Aunt met me in Birmingham with a refurbished oxygen accumulator. Meeting her was an eerie trip. The streets were empty. I went to the interstate on an 8 mile, divided 4 lane. It’s normally slow and go, with heavy commuter traffic. But, I wondered for a while if I would see a single car along the stretch. I went through every traffic light,16, I think, and none of them turned red. Under different circumstanced you’d wish for something like that.

There were still very few people on the interstate. I wondered if gas would be available and how strange things might get, especially when I saw a military convoy headed who knows where. We met. My aunt gave me the machine, a package of disinfectant wipes, some laundry sanitizer, and a snack. She was taking care of me while she was taking care of me. Times like these are when people show you who they are.

There was gas. I got home. We were able to order hoses for the oxygen accumulator. Thankfully, no one needed it. But, the peace of mind it provided, knowing that if Russ, or any of the 8 family members who lived in our house before it was all over, went into respiratory distress, they could at least get oxygen as long as there was electricity. That was more priceless than any Visa commercial. Caring stands out when tragedy has become so ordinary for so many. Others not caring left it’s mark at times too.

Russ eventually caught Covid and later caught it again. Thankfully, it was after vaccines were obtained and treatments were developed. He made it through with care that cost hundreds of dollars that we had, instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars we didn’t have.

Mom had her dark experience just this summer while in rehab after a fall. There was an outbreak. Mom had been vaccinated and had good meds. Getting Covid after things were better made all of the difference for her. The quarantine was scary and some people didn’t make it, but Mom did. We recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Four weeks back, I had my round with Covid. I was the last person in our house to catch it. I wondered if all the cycling gave me micro exposures that boosted my immunity, but never made me really sick. Or, if how often I wash my hands with housework was the reason. But really, who knows?

The pandemic was like life in that everyone is going through it, yet every person’s struggle was/is unique. So, I don’t know what to do, or write, or how to explain it when things aren’t on schedule with the project. Some people adapted, put things out quickly and leveraged all the change (for better or worse).

Some people have bounced back with double energy. Me? I still don’t know if continuing to pursue the project is what I should be doing. Can my dream really make a difference, or should I do something else. I know the project could help us, and others. I know he/we can do the job, but can he/we get the job? (flip on Joe Versus the Volcano intended).

One Step Forward

The risks were real, and some remain. The depression was and is real. We do a lot of DIY. It’s great that we can. Russ fixed a frozen pipe in the house before it became an insurance claim, but we’re not working on the project while he fixes our pop up problems, or someone else’s. It has all been big, real and debilitating, and I’ve had my own stuff to deal with too. Russ has been there for me in so many ways, but in others, I felt alone. He wasn’t present in the moment, or ready to move on. He spent a lot of time ruminating on fears he had no control over. He’s not mental health care averse, but there’s nothing in the budget to cover it.

It was so incredibly important to have income during the pandemic. It was important after too, but Russ lost his employment in January. Just as it seemed like things might settle a bit, boom, again! He went from “essential employee seeing a light at the end of the tunnel” to lost. Russ has made the most of his 6 jobless months in some ways, but in productivity, he froze. If he could retire to stay at home and cook and play with the grandchildren, he’d be in bliss, and he might be faring better if that were possible. Ironies abound. Not needing to pursue anything could loosen the stress and free up the mind space to… pursue anything.

And Then, Again

With all of this, we’ve come to and temporarily past the point of cancelling the project so many times. As much as we want to help anyone who’s interested in our project to get stress relief, escape, fitness and/or entertainment value from the project, there’s also a self-interested aspect. The project will have significant demands and stresses, but it will also do the things that we want to do for others for ourselves as well. It would lessen the impact of not having healthcare coverage (unless one of us has an accident riding).

We could benefit from a year of the heavy duty riding that is part of the project, letting all those demons work themselves out as we peddle. I hiked a lot when I was going through my divorce. I’d head for the woods, and after a day on the trail, whatever was weighing on me when I left had mostly lifted. It would be nice if Russ’s six months of unemployment had given him a head start on that, or progress in any form it might take, but that isn’t how it happened. Russ really does have a freeze response to threats. (And I have attention deficit, but, that’s another story).

I’m enough of an introvert that not being ok through the isolation was a real surprise to me. It piqued my interest in forming relationships and I desperately want to accomplishing things. The project is a two person job, and doing it without him wasn’t a step I was willing to take. I would ride and write to keep the project alive, but I still spend a lot of time feeling like I was alone or in hover mode. Recently, I started just doing things. It took a lot for me to just say I was going to do something and invite him along rather than asking what he wanted to do and make a joint decision. I didn’t expect him to, but Russ came with me. Most of the times I’ve really need him to, Russ has met me at least half way.

Things are getting better. Russ is working. It’s a financial band aid for our personal life and a mixed blessing for the project. I say band-aid because at this point, if both of us were working, that would just be a bigger band-aid. Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as other rich nations and still have a decreasing lifespan with poorer care. My healthcare.gov quote for next year was over 22K per year, even though I’m physically active, and some covered years I never went to a doctor… Seriously, in the last 10 of the years that I was covered, I don’t recall ever meeting a deductible. That’s rate is hard to accept.

Seeking employment that would move me toward having disposable income, or eventual retirement, rather than just paying for insurance for part of a catastrophic health failure requires that I get not just full time work, but demanding employment. Age and sex discrimination is real and my hodgepodge background doesn’t help. If I were lucky enough to get employment that would benefit the family rather than just cover personal health insurance, it would also require abandoning some other responsibilities I have been taking on, but how confident am I that I can get through another year without catastrophic coverage? If I had the coverage, would the cap be below the cost of whatever health failure I had? Riding a bike, even if it were a new high end bike, may well be the biggest healthcare bargain there is.

The T-Shirts

With all these questions and challenges, we’re taking a side step into t-shirts. We have a theme and hope the T-shirts will have at least as much positive impact as we want the video project to create, as well as some needed financial relief. After that we’ll re-visit the trail video project. Hopefully the t-shirt project will produce enough income to make up some of our losses and then, perhaps, to allow me more time to pursue the video project.

We’ll see.

Tuesday Trippin’ August 2023

I’ve decided, at least for now, to make Tuesday Trippin’ a monthly post. There are just so many other things I’d also like to share.

Training

We’re training at least as hard as we ever have. We have more available time in July than any other month. Even with timing things to miss the heat of the day, we’re still getting a lot of miles and in pretty good shape. I’ve ridden hard enough to need a few days off. Luckily that happened exactly when we needed to be out of town to help family. I’ve had some slight knee pain. It went away during the first family visit, came back mildly and got better again after the second.

I got stung again in July. It seems like July is when I need to keep my sting med kit complete and on the bike. I’m going to make a second post on what I carry for that.

Our mileage is moving up where we feel better and better. We’ve also made some progress in getting things done, the really boring, job-like stuff that has to happen to make the t-shirt and video projects go. I find a I’m anticipating a great fall and winter. If we can stay on our current schedule, there are many ways I’ll be able to say that all the hurdles and resulting delays have been for the best. That’s a big “if”, I know.

Riding and training is not all we’re doing though. I want to write and share about the T-shirt project and some of my other interests too. Stay tuned!

Until next time, have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail!

The Unemployment Tour Revisited

Truly, one of the better reasons to still be hanging around in Meta space is to be reminded that 13 years ago, during our first unemployment tour, we stuck it out and trekked down to the sunshine state for a third time to finally see the spectacle of a night time Space Shuttle Launch. It was expected to be the last one, but I think one or two others got shifted to night launches before the program ended.

We made two previous attempts without seeing the launch, both were pretty special for other reasons. For one trip we joined a tour with A Day Away (check out those bioluminescent tours too) and thought we’d see the launch from the end of Haullover Canal, but that tour shifted into an alternatively awesome dawn manatee trip when the launch didn’t take place.

Making the third and last attempt was a hard decision. As much as we were ready for a road trip, we really didn’t want to spend the money, especially not for another fail. There was a recession and unemployment was high. We didn’t know how long our place among the unemployed would last. We had the time, but could we afford to spend the money? That was anybody’s guess.

We decided to go, but not to book another kayak tour. It was awesome paddling around in the dark with strangers anticipating the ultimate viewing experience, but it wasn’t a first trip or a high end venture we were considering this time. Some locals and their guests waited and watched on decks and balconies, but we were out in a city park with a tent and didn’t expect it to be nearly so cold as it was. Hot cocoa was to die for and that nearby CVS was extraordinarily nice about letting people cue all through the store to use the bathrooms. But then, the personalities who get excited enough to go watch a shuttle launch at 4 AM tend to also be the kind of people who know they’re supposed to flush, wash their hands and buy something while they’re there :).

The actual experience was not at all what I expected. I envisioned a brilliant comet or meteor like arc across a dark sky. We were 7 miles from the launch. I didn’t expect to feel the roar vibrate, or the heat wash over me. The flames lit the whole sky with a gray-yellow light that killed the night. I was partly awestruck, but also remembering a criticism I had herd after the Challenger crash, that there was no reason to use so much power to get the shuttle out of the atmosphere so fast. It was not what I expected, but not a disappointment either, not at all. We were so glad we took the risk and had the experience.

I was thinking about this even before I saw the FB post reminder in February, and now again as I’ve come across this unpublished post. Here we are looking at another decision, wanting to do something, wanting to fully commit to getting the project submitted and weighing the odds. Right now the unemployment rate is just over a third of what it was then. By that indicator alone, employment should be pretty easily replaceable. The odds look good that a quick job search is possible, but, open jobs and jobs people want, jobs that pay the bills without sacrificing health and maybe have some benefits, aren’t necessarily the same jobs. There’s a correction happening, and while the unemployment rate is low, Russ isn’t alone in being laid off. There have been some very large, very public layoffs. We’re also 13 years closer to retirement than we were last time, and still just as utterly unprepared now as we were then.

Two roads diverged… It looks like we’re going for it this time too, we keep on deciding not to give up the project, even though it seems like insanity to keep backing up and drawing another deadline in the sand. We’ve put more time and effort in to our prep than we ever expected the entire project to take. On good days I can say that the level of fitness I currently have makes it personally worth while, whether the project ever becomes something to help others or not.

On bad days, I know that financially, I’d be better off if I had spent the free time I have in minimum wage drudge work (if my psyche survived that). Russ does not feel or remember the sting of targets missed the way I do. Right now it feels like I’ve been repeatedly deciding to commit to something that isn’t moving forward. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I really wish I knew which end of that tunnel I should be running toward.

Eventually we’ll be looking back on now and weighing the results of our choices and performance. We always seem to take the path less traveled, perhaps this one too will make all the difference, perhaps it will also be the difference we’re hoping for.

T-Shirts!

The Big Picture for Our Side Step into T-shirts

The trail video project has always been a good idea. We’re so ready to do that. There’s the matter of paying for everything though. We’re not ready for the successful funding campaign that has to come first. Frankly, now with Russ’ job loss, we’re worried about paying for the basics of life.

There Wasn’t a T-shirt Option Before

We’re intentionally making the video project low impact, so when originally considering supporter rewards for the video project, we considered a t-shirt, but decided to go digital for all the rewards. There were several reasons. First, because “no reward” support levels are often close to the same price point as “t-shirt reward level” support options. That can cause a supporter to think “Well, it’s free, I might as well go ahead and get the shirt.” When a person chooses a shirt that way, they aren’t necessarily interested in wearing it. It may go straight to a thrift store, or worse, it might even get round filed before it ever gets worn.

As a frequent thrift store shopper, I see Kickstarter rewards from time to time. Don’t get me wrong. Just because a reward made it to the thrift store shelf doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a worthy item from a good project. But, if a lot of any given item makes it into the mega dumpster out behind the thrift store, that, of course, would be a different story. For a T-Shirt, that would be the worst form of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion has big environmental and human costs, so we didn’t want to offer clothing that might not be used.

On top of all that, there’s the real dollar cost of production to the project. For every t-shirt reward the project gives away, the price of the project goes up and it needs more supporters to meet the project budget, which produces even more t-shirts that may never be worn. The negatives compound.

What Changed?

Life Changed. When Russ lost his job, he broke the news with the joke that he’d have plenty of time to work on the video project. In truth, the newfound freedom could be a potential stroke of serendipity that would make everything work out for the best, and things may still work out that way, they just haven’t yet.

The job loss blindsided Russ, and we needed to reassess personal threats and potentials to see how much actual freedom we had for the project in stress mode. We went in a few directions all at once without knowing what to prioritize. It doesn’t help that I’m so overdue to be earning something myself. Ongoing family obligations, the pandemic and the project have tacked years on to what would have otherwise been a short break from paid work for me. I don’t have any regrets about choosing family, or pursuing the project, but the financial downside to those choices has been life changing.

As much as I need focus, direction, progress and movement right now, Russ has needed time. It’s just a really good thing that we love each other because we’re not in the same place and it feels like love is all we have right now. We keep recommitting to the project, but the challenge is how to get there from here without having epic failure rock our world even more.

What’s Different About a T-Shirt Now?

The T-Shirt we’re thinking of now IS the point. It’s the product.

When our life changed drastically, we came to the idea of doing a t-shirt as it’s own project, one that people would buy because they wanted to wear it. That makes all the difference. A loved T-shirt that gets worn is worth producing, especially when we’re going to resource it as responsibly as we can.

We’re willing to offer T-shirts as a stand alone project because people wear them. People wear them a lot, and the ones they buy because they want the shirt won’t have the short life cycle that is the trademark of fast fashion. So we’ll do our best to create and offer a t-shirt that people will want to wear and use, responsibly sourced shirts that last well and can be recycled or up cycled.

I can’t wait till we have them ready to show you! They’re going to be great!

Why allow $992 for Water?

I mean, we would drink water whether we were riding or not, right?

It’s the little things that kill your success, but not in the “Forego avocado toast and you can have a McMansion” way, in a more real way.

Yes, we drink water straight from the filter on the fridge when we’re home. Water on the trail has to be planned though. Hydration is critical.

The fountains on the Silver Comet are always turned off in the winter, from well before danger of first frost until well after danger of last frost. I don’t get this. It takes more than a frost to freeze a pipe, but that’s how it is. Since the pandemic, the water has been turned off year ’round.

When the fountains are on, I would likely fill at Tara Drummond, Cedartown and the Chief Ladiga visitors center on the state line. Water availability becomes more sketchy as you move west and, if you started on the east end, that’s when you’re tiredest.

What can you get for $992 on the trail? That’s a $4 allowance per rider per ride day*. That may be generous on average if the fountains come back on for part of the year, but the rest will come from some other bucket in the budget if they don’t.

Casual riders can decide on a ride to ride basis if the nominal cost of going out on any given day fits easily inside the resources they want to use. But, when making a commitment to ride twice a week every time it’s rideable for 62 weeks, accounting for all of the places where you will drop a grand is as critical to a successful project budget as hydration is to a healthy ride.

*There’s no allowance for training days because we can carry enough for most of those days.

About the Intro Video

The intro video is completely home grown and shot cell phones. I shot some footage, but Russ shot most of what we used, then edited it on Kdenlive. He is self taught with the help of instructional videos and learned it for this project. He learned Audacity for this project as well.

The intro video is all shot with one of three Galaxy S somethings. The trail ride base (or background ride) was shot using Russ’s Galaxy S10+ with a DJI OM5 gimbal stabilizer. I haven’t checked to see if any of what we used for other parts was made with my old Galaxy S8 Active. Anything I shot after July when I bought the S21 Plus that I wrote about here was taken with that phone.

Using the gimbal was interesting. It was useful to reduce the shakes and bumps and it looked cool and weird mounted to the handlebars with the phone attached. I was riding behind Russ watching it operate. The phone looked (and was) vulnerable sticking up from the handlebars. The gimbal looked slightly organic in its undulating battery operated movements. It was attached to a GoPro mount that was completely stable, but didn’t look like it. Later I shot some of my own and the movements look so much bigger on your own bike.

Riding through the puddles in Brushy Mountain tunnel was a bit scary. Not only do the device documents tell you not to drop the gimbal, they say four separate times not to get it wet, unless it catches fire. If it catches fire, you are supposed to put the fire out with water.

Riding through the tunnel, or any other puddles, I can slow down and reduce the chances of getting the thing wet, but other riders may or may not. After riding with it for a few miles, the handle had rotated and I was afraid it had loosened and might drop, so I took it off. I wasn’t able to get it to turn off though. I removed it from the handle bars and then took the phone off of it.

It wiggled at me as if to say “Where’s my phone?” The two clamps on the disc made it look like the face on a puppy or Grogu shaking its ears to get them dry. I shoved the handle in a pocket in my bike tights. I hoped the device would get separation anxiety there and shut down. The moving part was free, so I didn’t expect it cause any problems if it didn’t and It had shut off by the time I got back to the car.

We chose to shoot with the phones and gimbal instead of the equipment that we plan to use for the project because, even after buying the gimbal, it was the least expensive way to achieve a usable introductory product. We’ve made similar choices with other things along the way.

We will switch to GoPro Hero 10s for the project to get the rugged durability, better image stabilization, the ability to stream one camera and the weatherproof qualities. The GoPros and other equipment we plan to use for the project is not harder to use. Switching will not be difficult once more appropriate equipment is funded.

Most audio was recorded with an external microphone. I set the the Mic on a tall stool in my small walk in closet for the dampening, and set the laptop on a big box of fireworks (we’ll have to use them to celebrate when we get funded). The box was about as tall as the mic, so I was able to read the script I wrote without having it draw me away from the mic. I sat down in the doorway and leaned in and up. We wanted it all a little bit high so it helped my diaphragm and projection. As a set up, it worked reasonably well. Beside needing something written to keep me as brief as possible and on track, my untrained voice was our biggest challenge. Winging would have been nice, but the video would have been long and winding. Russ also took audio off some cell footage I took of Sandhill Cranes wheeling above.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 9

These flowers have been sitting on this memorial bench on Big Creek Greenway for days.

I stopped to photograph these flowers, not when they were fresh on the first day that I saw them, but several days later when they still sat there untouched.

The bench has a memorial plaque. It says that the person being memorialized and his grandparents spent many days experiencing joy on the trail. That speaks to me. The first time I got to spend significant time with my grandson, I was picking him up and taking him to the trails, first by the Chattahoochee River, later the Silver Comet and finally Big Creek.

At Big Creek there are mountain bike trails and he saw signs for RAMBO, the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Biking Organization. In middle school (as soon as he was eligible) he dropped La Crosse, to join NITRO and mountain biking was the sport that stuck. Both are good organizations. He’s taught sportsmanship and to care for his bike, and he does volunteer work with the group too. He’s been on the team ever since. I enjoyed watch him try out all his team sports, but I felt good about taking him to the place where he found his thing. We don’t do the same kind of cycling anymore, but I take him to trails like 5 Points where I can walk while he rides. He just got his license and drives now. I don’t have to take him anywhere, but the connection remains, and I feel good about his thing being cycling.

One of the nice things about cycling is that it can start as soon as you get a sense of balance, and with recumbent trikes, it can last well after you lose it. I know riders in their 80s who are 20+ years older than me, and they ride standard road bikes for long distances. There are all kinds of cycling for all kinds of needs and wants, from motorized to hand powered with 1 to 4 wheels.

Cycling can connect generations like it did for me and my grandson, or the people on the plaque, for clubs or tours. It can help maintain health and increase longevity, even reduce health insurance rates. You can start at just about any age. It gets you outdoors and active.

One of the things I hope our video project will create is connection and inspiration between anyone willing to connect and for any good thing a person aspires to do. I hope that some of the people who see what I’m doing say to themselves that they ought to pursue riding, or something entirely different, especially the ones who never considered it before. And that people who were feeling old or depressed or isolated or powerless decide they can do whatever thing hanging around in the back of their minds that they aspire to do.

The only things that make me special enough to do this project are that I thought it up, I had the conviction to pursue it, and I have the determination to finish it. Anyone can do that.

I’ll be happy to give people some new exercise, health and entertainment options. I’d be honored to shift the perspectives of people who haven’t yet realized what is within their reach into the perspective of those who have.

I hope that your memorial, whether it is on a bench or in the mind of the people you leave behind, will come far into the future. I hope it says exactly what you’d want it to, and more than you ever dreamed it might.

The Recovery Ride Will be a Walk in the Park

After looking for the really nice shot of Russ in the stream at the local park for 20 minutes, I settled on this random and unrelated photo of Russ being his larger than life and larger than BigFoot self.

We took our grandson to a Saturday practice for his mountain bike team on Yonah Mountain. Rather than wait, we went over to the hiking trail and did as much as we could in the seriously limited amount of time we had before returning to pick him up. The walk reminded me that one reason building up my cycling mileage was easier the first time is that I was hiking regularly at the time. I had been thinking about the negative reasons more, like aging, but that’s not the whole story.

Sometimes my lightbulbs are a little slow to switch on, but while hiking up Yonah mountain the lack of shoulder issues and the attitude of my saddle free hips brought this decision clearly into focus. The recovery cardio needs to be a true recovery in several senses of the word, and the focus needs to be physically and mentally restorative, not the opportunity for additional video footage I was thinking of at one time. One or two centuries a week will really provide quite enough video, and we need to vary more than just our body positions on the bike. We’ll get significant benefits that keep us riding if we vary the activity as well. Recovery should be the primary purpose of recovery cardio, and with the amount of time we’ll have in the saddle, cross-training is the way to do it best.

Leita Thompson Park in Roswell GA

There is a pleasant no drive option, so making the switch is not just ideal physically, it’s easily doable.There is a park with a trail near my house. Walking there and doing the loop inside then walking back is just under 5 miles. We may venture out to other places for some variety if there is available time. We live in the Georgia Piedmont Region with reasonable access to Lookout Mountain and Valley, the southern terminus of the AT and the the Blue Ridge. Some of those trails might be doable before or after a photography day which would open up some location options for the still photography.

That was the easiest decision I’ve made for the project.

Cameras Part Deux

Sometimes I chide myself for focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time. I have to get funding before camera decisions decisions matter. At the same time, I need credibility as someone who has what it takes to get the job done. My blog pictures need to start looking better. So now is not too soon to make instant hand camera decisions.

I’ve spent some time now and then over a few months considering what to carry instead of the Nikon DSLR for expected stills while riding the trail. Once there is a recumbent, I may take the Nikon from time to time, but as a rule, it’s just too risky, and you know those amazing things will happen too fast on the days I have it, and there will be really glorious moments on the days don’t have it. For that quick access I’ve thought of a point and shoot or a better phone camera. I wasn’t sure. The phone cameras keep getting better and you’re more likely to have your phone handy when something happens quickly. My decision was partly made for me.

I love the Samsung Galaxy 8 Active that I had, but it was tired before I ran it through the washer and the dryer in my yoga pants pocket. The $9 a month I’ve been paying in insurance since it was new was going to get be a Galaxy 9 (not active). After the deductible, it was going to cost half the retail price to get a dated phone. The only reason I have the cell phone carrier that I do now is that it has good signal coverage in rural south Alabama where my mother lives.

I thought there was a nest in our hydrangea this spring. The bush was damaged and the empty nest exposed. This unedited image is the first one taken with my new Galaxy S21 Plus.

I’ve mentioned my luddite tendencies, but that’s just because the budget is king in my life. If I had a more well funded lifestyle and didn’t avoid dealing with my current carrier like the pandemic, I’d update at least twice as often, probably. The current Galaxy phone is a S21 Plus. It seemed like the thing to have for a project that needs a good quickly accessible camera at the touch of a whim. A lot of the tech savvy people who participate in funding crowdsourced projects won’t relate to this, but buying the Galaxy S21 Ultra was a leap of faith, especially since the reviews said it wasn’t even as rugged as the S20. My last 2 phones were active models because I AM going to drop it. The temptation to get rid of the overpriced and useless insurance was tempting, but the phone was really expensive. I couldn’t quite make myself do it.

One of the things I love about this phone is that you can turn on “Make a RAW copy” (actually, I found out that I could have done that on my 8 Active too). That means that you can use the .jpgs for all those things that .jpgs are good for, but if you want to play around with RAW, you have that option. I haven’t bought the software for that yet. I’ll probably go with Lightroom because it is widely used, but I did see some software that was rated higher and was a one time fee, not subscription. Decisions! And, miles to go…

I hear that the next Galaxy will bring Active models back. It’s not the first time I waited through model after model to update, and finally hit critical mass just before the model that suited my uses better.