I successfully reached my 56th year mark on Saturday… and no, celebrating the annual milestone is not a big deal to me. If Debbie or anyone else decide to use the occasion to have a get-together that’s great but to me it’s just another day. Well, maybe…
Life Without Facebook
I’d been doing the usual “checking-in” on FB throughout the day as is the norm for most folks who have FB accounts. However, while I was at Loco’s having dinner and then later at Sixes Tavern watching a band play I looked around and was taken aback by just how people were engrossed in their smart phones instead of what was going-on around them. I’ve seen this thousands of times before to the point of almost becoming numb to it, other than when I see motorists with a phone in their hand and their head and eyes down while driving. However, as I pondered what the next year might hold for me trying to think of something pithy to post I suddenly asked myself, “Is this really how I want to spent a couple hours of each day next year?” While essentially a rhetorical question, the answer was of course no.
On the upside, FB has allowed me to stay connected to family and friends by knowing what they’re up to and that they’re doing OK. But on the downside, the amount of information was I having to process living with one eye on my smart phone at the expense of being on partially disconnected from what was going on around made me question the opportunity cost and value. In fact, from a cost/benefit standpoint it probably ranks right up there with leasing a prestige car you can’t really afford to impress people you don’t know who can’t do anything for you.
To be honest, I knew this to be true a long time ago and avoiding getting a Facebook account for this very reason. In fact, I deactivated my initial account a few months after creating it. I ultimately gave in and created a new account and began to amass friends when someone convinced me that’s how all the cool kids communicate their plans and stay connected. So, I bought-in but made a point of having a small FB footprint with minimal personal information and deleted most of what I posted within 24 hours. Of course, at the same time you can go to my blogs and read all about what’s been going on in my life but it would take a super computer to knit together any useful information that you can’t already find using SPOKEO or other data mining programs.
Anyway, we’ll see how this goes. I will say the first day of being untethered and unconcerned with my smart phone was truly like being on the first day of real vacation. However, by the end of the day I was wondering what my family and friends had been up to and if I’d truly be able to stay off of FB long term. If nothing else, my short-term goal is to stay off until November if only to avoid the political content that’s been slowing sucking up more and more bandwidth.
The Blog Connection
About five minutes after killing-off my FB account I also decided to cease & desist on my blogs. However, by the time I woke up the next morning I realized that probably wasn’t practical since the blogs serve several purposes. Therefore, the mere fact I’ve posted this blog entry suggests I’ve not figured out my exit strategy for the blogging which also consumes vast amounts of my personal time. In the meantime, if any of our friends or family members want to keep up with what’s been going-on, the blogs remain a nice compendium of what was previously being posted to FB each week.
A Look Back at this Past Week
We entered the beginning of the week with just a loose plan for my birthday on Saturday the 14th that we developed while celebrating our friend Carrie Ann’s birthday on the previous Saturday.
However, in all honesty, Debbie and I really celebrated on Thursday evening with a very nice dinner at Henry’s Taste of Louisiana — a slow night for Henry’s when we find we can usually walk in and get a seat without any wait — followed by a movie. Our dinner was wonderful; we shared the appetizer and dinner special and they never disappoint. Henry was on-premises per the norm, hanging beads and sending shots to the lovely ladies as he tends to do “in his house” which we truly appreciate: having an owner who’s fully engaged in the business is something we place a lot of value on.
After dinner we went to the 8:20pm showing of Captain America, Civil War. To be frank, it was a bit of a let-down. The formula, plot and overwhelming cast of characters is becoming a bit predictable and uninteresting. In fact, this should have been called “The Avengers Still Can’t Get Along and Destroy $20B in Infrastructure” just to be transparent as to the plot. Frankly, other than Deadpool, the Marvel flicks have just been in a steady decline ever since they started to move away from the single character movies like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. The “Avenger’s” movies just don’t do it for me. But, it was still nice being out with my sweetie for dinner and a movie in the middle of the week.
Friday was a really bad day at work; accelerate my retirement date-bad. It’s not that anything went wrong or that there were more problems than usual: it was just one of those days where I found myself shaking my head far too often. Sadly, I let my toxic attitude spill over into my look ahead for the weekend such that I planted a poison pill to kill any birthday celebration plans folks may have been cooking. If anything was going to happen it would be late developing and low-key.
I finally decided I’d hit my threshold for being in the office around 1:30pm and headed off to “spoil myself” in an effort to get my mojo back, noting our usual ‘Finally a Friday’ celebration would be delayed until 8:30pm. You see, the two grammar school age granddaughters were participating in a Variety Show that would have us hanging out in their schools’ gym from 6:00pm until 8:00pm: who schedules these school events on Friday nights?
So, from work I headed over to Horsetown on a quest to find a pair of Dan Post DP69680 Albuquerque waterproof work boots. I had bought two pair of this particular boot back in 2011 that were now on their last legs after being unsuccessful in getting them properly repaired when the soles wore out. These are the boots I wear when riding the Harley so they need to be comfortable for walking as well as durable enough for riding. Amazingly, Horsetown still carried the same boot and had a pair in a range of sizes that all sort of fit. Interestingly enough, our friend and the former manager of Horsetown – Misty – had stopped by the store while I was trying on boots way in the back. However, none of the gals up front had recognized me without my longer hair and goatee when I walked in so we missed seeing each other like ships passing in the dark. Interestingly enough, about the very time she was upfront visiting with her gal pals I was thinking to myself, “I sure do miss Misty… as she always helped me out with this boot fitting stuff.”
I also treated myself to some new, proper-fitting jeans: a pair of black Levi 517s in size 29/32s to replace the 31/32s that were now too big; a pair of Levi 527s to augment a pair that now have a nice bleach spot on the inner right calf; and, a very dark pair of Levi 527s I knew Miss Debbie would like that replaced a pair of 30/32s that are now too big. Hey, it’s nice to look into the “out of season” closet and see the size 33s, 32s, 31s and 30s that all became too big over the past two years.
Having treated myself to some much-needed new clothes I made a few more stops on the way home. The combination of stop actually put me in a pretty good mood by the time I arrived at the house, all previous things considered. When I got home used the extra spare time to move some chairs around in the living room as we’ve been thinking about executing a hostile takeover of some furniture we’re temporarily storing for friends just so we could see how they looked: they looked pretty good. I think we’ll deliver them as planned, but may offer to give our friends an instant profit on their purchase if they’ll just let us keep them! If not, no big deal.
Debbie arrived home shortly after I finished moving the furniture and after getting ourselves into some comfortable clothes we headed off to watch the kid’s variety show. Now, I should probably mention that earlier in the day I hinted I might let Debbie go it alone to the Variety Show as I was sure all of the grandparents would be on hand and I might just need some time to ‘chill’ if my attitude didn’t improve. Thankfully my attitude did improve and we had a very nice time. The girls were the first up at 6:30 and we were good guests and sat through the next 23 performances. Well, I sat through about 16 and stood for the last 8 as those hard wood bleacher seats took a toll on my backside.
By the time we finally arrived at Loco Willy’s most of our friends had already been and gone. In fact, we met David & Deb in the parking lot as they were headed home. We still had a chance to say hello to Gene & Clark and then nice time enjoying our respective cocktails with some guacamole and fish tacos at the elegant hour.
We called it an early night as we had a busy day ahead of us on Saturday.
Saturday morning was pre-booked for our granddaughter Charlotte’s 1st ever gymnastics meet. She just started taking gymnastics classes about 2.5 months ago and was really enjoying it. However, this would be the first time she competed with other girls her age who had been taking gymnastics classes for a bit longer.
The event was scheduled to run from 8:00am to 10:30am and was interesting to watch. Charlotte appeared to be doing quite well, was clearly having a good time and not experiencing any competition anxiety. In fact, she looked like a little girl out on a playground just having fun while many of her peers appeared to be nearly overwhelmed by the entire experience.
As the event came to close and they began to recognize the placings of the different sub-groups within each age group – noting there were three groups of 7-year olds – we were afraid little Charlotte didn’t place at all as they named off 6th place through 2nd. Imagine our collective surprise when she placed 1st overall in her group. She’d placed 2nd the vault & balance beam, 3rd in the uneven bars and 1st in the floor exercise which was apparently good enough to take the top spot. It was a long morning but I’m glad we were there for her and it gave us lots of time with Wesley, Julie, Caroline and Vivian as well.
The plan was to head home, have some lunch and then head out for a tandem ride from the house. It was a very windy day, but the sun was warm and the pollen count didn’t seem to be as high as it had in a few weeks. We had a pretty good ride, but seemed to be fighting headwinds in every direction we turned with one exception: we had a nice tailwind on the long descent down County Line Road… the one road where we clearly didn’t benefit from a tailwind! Oh well, at least we got in a 25-mile loop.
Back at the house I shot off an instant message to let our friends know we’d be heading to Loco Willy’s for dinner, which is the norm for us on a Saturday night. However, if they wanted to join us we’d be more than happy to have their company. As for anything that might happen afterwards, it was TBD. However, and not totally unexpected, given the late notice everyone pretty much had made plans for the evening so it was going to be just me and my sweetie… and quite frankly, that’s OK too. We enjoy getting together with our friends but we equally enjoy just going-it alone.
We found a couple of empty seats next to our friends Kevin & Paul S. at the bar and were joined a short time later by our friend Rex. I’d arrived wanting the Ahi Poke but Debbie felt the need for some iron so we ordered the Willenburger and we nailed it: medium rare with fried egg, bacon, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, grilled onions, lettuce and tomato. Moreover, the extra crispy fries actually came out extra crispy for a change; best ever at Loco’s or anywhere else! After our dinner I wandered over to Gabrielle’s bakery and picked up a small 6” red velvet cake that we shared with our friends at the bar. Even our health-conscious friend behind the bar, Brian, gave in and enjoyed a piece. It was the perfect way to finish up the meal. Well, almost perfect: Kevin and I shared a toast afterwards and that was the figurative icing on the cake!
When it came time to decide what to do next, my gut told me to head over to SuBourbon’s for their band as several friends said they’d heard them before and they were great! However, our friend Vic and his band Shyanne were playing back at Sixes Tavern and it had been easily a year since we’d been out to see them. Going against my instincts we made the long drive over to Sixes and settled in for their show. I say against my instincts as I wasn’t sure what kind of a crowd there’d be at Sixes: it’s a different vibe from the places we usually go.
As mentioned at the outset of this blog entry, I had a bit of an epiphany while sitting at Sixes listening to Shyanne that led me to deactivate my Facebook account, rethink my blogs and also come to grips with an upcoming trip we wanted to take with friends but just didn’t have a way to do. It wasn’t the company, cost or destination that was getting in the way, it was Debbie’s work schedule and how her company allocates vacation time. While she gets almost four weeks of vacation a year, two of those weeks are consumed by mandatory, company-wide shut-downs in December and July, leaving her only a handful of personal vacation days. Those precious days get used for our extended weekend motorcycle trips, tandem rallies, family visits and of course days she needs to take off for personal business or to help out with the grandkids. Therefore, we’ve finally accepted the fact we’ll have to pass on the trip with our friends and will look forward to the tandem rallies and motorcycle trip extended weekends for another year. Once Miss Debbie retires we’ll have more free time than we know what to do with, so that’s our carrot.
Getting back to the gig at Sixes, Shyanne had something of a different sound and playlist from what we’d last heard. While they sounded great, there weren’t too many songs you could dance to during the first hour of their set. They finally played a couple of songs that let us kick up our heels but we faded early and headed for the hills before it got too late: after all, we had to be up and out the door for a tandem club ride by 8:00am on Sunday morning! In retrospect, we should have definitely stayed closer to home and will probably make a point of adopting that as a rule in the future.
We had to be out of the house by 8:00am to make the 35 minute drive over to the Budweiser brewery in Cartersville, Georgia, where Sunday’s Georgia Tandem Club ride would begin and end. I think I was awake at 6:00am and headed down to the garage around 6:30am to spend some time out in the garage tweaking the tandem so it would be ready for our ride. The shifting which had been excellent right after the early spring technology refresh project had slowly degraded. My objective was to figure out why and then get it dialed back in. Part of the problem was the shifter levers had been walking a bit on the handlebars which altered the length of the derailleur cables. Another problem was a bad in-line cable adjuster and a third issues was an adjustment I’d made to the front derailleur before discovering the shifters had moved. With both of the levers re-secured in the proper place I was able to dial-in the shifting for what would hopefully be a trouble-free ride: it was.
Oh, and we woke up to 49F temps on May 15th that came as a shock to our systems. We’d been enjoying daily highs in the upper 80F’s and lows in the mid-60F’s, so starting off the day in the 40F’s where the high would only be 65F was not necessarily a welcome surprise. However, since we were committed to making the ride, after loading the tandem in the truck I headed into the house and let Debbie know she’d need to wear her tights, bolero and most likely a wind jacket for today’s ride. She thought I was kidding until she stepped outside. With all of our gear packed and a little breakfast on our tummy’s we headed off to Cartersville.
Rather than penning a unique article, let me just go ahead and provide a link to the official ride report by Eve Kofsky: https://peachestandem.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/cold-clear-cartersville/. About the only thing not covered in the report is a rather esoteric note to point out I technically rode my age – in kilometers – on my birthday weekend! We did the 36-mile route which works out to 57.9 kilometers, 1.9k more than I needed to check the box on that tradition. Well, Ok: the tradition was to ride your age in miles but who the hell needs to do more than 50 miles on a social ride.
Seriously though, it was great to get out with our tandem cycling friends again, something we’re trying really hard to do more often this year. Sadly, we were one of the three teams who did not join the other six teams that attended the ride for the post-ride lunch at the Mellow Mushroom in Cartersville. As much as we would have liked to enjoy a nice leisurely lunch and socialize with our friends I had a pile of mounting yard work and other to-do list items back at the house to attend do.
In that we were still in need of some lunch, we decided to stop at JD’s Bar-B-Que in Acworth since it was on the way home. We are usually able to find the bar area with its eight stools rather empty on a Sunday around noon and that means a quiet, fast lunch for two! Sure enough, Victoria was right there to take our order and hand us the remote to the TV so we could switch on the NASCAR pre-race show. In just a matter of moments we had our beverages, followed a few minutes later by our pulled-pork sandwich and slaw. As always we split everything when we eat and today was no exception: however, we were really tempted to order a second sandwich. JD’s BBQ is some of the best you’ll find! As an extra-added treat and unbeknownst to us our friend Misty and a girlfriend were having lunch at JD’s as well: what are the odds of crossing paths twice in three days! They saw us as they were leaving and popped into the bar to give us both a hug and to say hello. Love that gal! Although, I must say we were caught a bit off guard when she asked if we were headed to Daytona Beach for the fall rally as we and our friends had talked about passing on it this year. Misty said she would be riding down with Carrie Ann so I’m guessing we’ll definitely need to get recalibrated with Carrie Ann & Bobby on their fall plans.
I think we were in and out of JD’s in about 25 minutes, all told, including the extra 5 minutes we spent visiting with Misty and her friend. We made a quick stop at the Kroger on the way home so I could pick up some chicken wings that I’d cut-up and deep fry later in the day.
Back at the house the first order of business was getting the triplet down from the rafters and ready to go for the Georgia Tandem Rally (GTR) down in Statesboro, Georgia, on Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon. The poor triplet had been hanging unused in the garage since last year’s GTR so a quick check to make sure all the shifting and brake systems were still in adjustment and properly working was essential. I also needed to make sure Debbie’s riding position would be spot-on with her current position on the Calfee. It’s amazing how having a saddle or handlebars just a little out of adjustment can create all kinds of problems, which is what’s happened the last two times we’ve ridden the triplet at rallies. So, a good hour or so was consumed just doing that followed by another ½ hour spent cleaning all of the dust and pollen off the frame.
I figure that’s “good enough” as there’s a pretty fair chance that the triplet will get washed in a rain shower as we make the drive down to Statesboro on Thursday night with the tandem on top of the truck. No, the forecast is not looking all that great right now with 90% and 80% rain chances for Friday & Saturday respectively, but I’m pulling for the weather-guessers to be a bit off.
With the tandem taken care of I turned my attention to trimming the hedges around the driveway and front walk, as they were beginning to encroach on our walkways and the garage doors. There are still a lot more hedges to trim, but getting those done was a good thing. Given the lack of rain I skipped edging and trimming the yard and just gave it a quick cut as the clock made its way towards 6:00pm. I knew Miss Debbie would be getting hungry for her wings, so no sense in turning the yard project into an early evening affair.
As always, our home-made hot wings hit the spot! I continue to tweak my recipe and this week was another one where the changes I made had a positive outcome: always nice to be working in the right direction. The fries were also pretty good, but I need to get a deep fryer that had a slightly higher temperature range: 375F just doesn’t quite get it done on that particular unit. But, as I said, we both enjoyed our wings and fries and really have grown quite fond of eating at home on Sunday afternoons and evenings.
It was a quiet evening at home after that. Debbie was busy cleaning and doing laundry upstairs most of the afternoon and early evening. I spent my evening trying to figure out what to do with my blogs and also doing some other research on upcoming events.
All-in-all, a pretty-good weekend. We’ll begin to get packed up for our GTR trip on Wednesday night so we’ll be ready to roll after work on Thursday night for the 3.5 hour / 235 mile drive down. I75 south of Atlanta is anything but my favorite drive as it always seems like there’s some kind of traffic snarl coming and going, if only due to the never-ending construction. Perhaps we’ll take I20 east just to change things up???