Tuesday, July 28, 2009

more action

Good news from today's visit to the dr. Jill is no longer on official bed rest! This does not mean that she will help reroof your house, but she may well be interested in taking a short walk. Baby weighs 5 lbs 6 oz, give or take 20%. Doctors continue to be impressed with her heart rate surges.

We also had our milestone 16th ultrasound of baby Clara. Due to her increasing size, it's getting harder to move away from the detector. She seems to have made peace with it for now.
After watching the TdF race up Mont Ventoux, I rode myself to the tallest hills around, the town of Block, home of Mont Block, if you will. I've been negligent in reporting the corn growth over the summer, but here it was as of Saturday. Yes, it really is that tall!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

substitute mixte

In this college town, a citizen can find any number of low to mid-quality bicycles to replace one that disappears or breaks. Via craigslist, I found this lovely Sekai amidst the pile of bikes for sale at a house not 4 blocks from ours.

I say more power to anyone trying to make a buck refurbishing and selling old bikes. However, for the love of the brotherhood, have some pride! As purchased, the bike had Shimano mtb brake/7 speed shifters (a fine component), Suntour friction rear derailer, 6 speed freewheel, and brake casing rather than shifter casing. The shifting was predictably miserable. The v-brake levers were connected to sidepull brakes. Unless you can tear a phonebook in half with bare hands, this gives terrible braking. And for a bonus, the only marking on the new brake pads said 'for alloy rims', and the rims were steel.
I replaced almost every part on the bike with parts from the late Suteki, so the setup was immaterial. But I wouldn't advise any friends or enemies to buy from these guys.

All that said, the bike is quite nice. I will eventually paint the Suteki fenders black (and perhaps add a white stripe along the center?) and add a front basket.

We joined a CSA upon moving here and have been enjoying the locally grown produce. Did you know that IL can grow crops other than corn and soybeans? We also signed up to receive a bouquet of flowers every week. Here are the flowers from this week.
We're at 33 weeks today. Looks like Jill has a basketball under her shirt.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Field trip

The reinvention of my career from modeler/deskman to real world engineer/labman took a leap forward this week. My coworkers and I drove all around southern Illinois and Indiana collecting water samples from oil production facilities.

So your first question is, there are oil fields in IL? I can proudly answer, YES, about 0.1% of the oil used in the US is produced in IL. The oil fields here are far along the path to depletion, but there are still thousands of stripper wells pumping about a barrel of oil per day along with about 40 barrels of water. The current IL oil production rate is 8 times less than the maximum historical rate, which was achieved in the early 1960's. A handful of small oil companies (most have less than 40 employees) maintain the pumps, pipes, and tanks.
The above photo shows both oil storage tanks (smaller) and oil/water separator tanks (larger). Oil is lighter than water, so it floats to the top of the tank where it is siphoned off to the oil storage tank. Tanker trucks collect the oil and haul it to a nearby refinery.
At this particular site, the oil mixed reasonably well with the water and left a sludge on our bucket. The rocks in the photo are black because of oily waste.
Next week, we'll visit a few coal mines to collect water. I'm hoping that we'll get to go inside the mines.
Why are we collecting this water? That will be a topic for future discussion.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fine 9

We celebrated our 9th anniversary on Wed with pizza and brownies. Maybe we'll have a bigger celebration when Jill can leave the house. One of these days I will scan the photos (those paper things with images) so that we can show a year zero vs. year current. I think the comparison will be positive as marriage has been very good to us.

Of course, the year ahead should be quite different than the first 9.

Another event this week was the Tour de Champaign bike race. On Saturday we raced in a Noahanic rainstorm. The wet and oil-soaked road made for some very sketchy cornering. My rear wheel slid a couple inches on at least 1 of every four turns, but I stayed upright. Our team took 3, 4, and 5 (me).

Our team helped patrol the course for the later races. Tom and I watched the Pro-1-2 race together and were duly impressed.

A good number of friends hung around downtown Champaign to watch the race. The photo below was taken by Nina.

Today we raced day 2 of the Tour in pleasantly dry conditions and teammate Mark won! Our first win of the season, hurray! The highlight of the race was watching Alexei take a turn very wide then bunny hop the outside curb onto the grass. I asked him after the race what happened. Turns out he just wasn't paying attention. He took 2nd place.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

bell tolls for the Suteki

The Suteki has ridden its last. Today on her way home from the grocery store, mom rode it straight into a curb. She heard what sounded like a blown tire, turned to check what had happened, and finally looked forward just in time to brace for impact. The damage: bent down tube and top tubes and a dented fender. Everything else looks fine.

And for the more important question, how did mom fare? Lots of bruises and a cut finger that bled profusely. A jammed toe is bothering her tonight. One lady witnessed the event and asked if she could help. Historic East Urbana truly is 'neighbor to neighbor'. Our camera did a poor job capturing the swelling and overall purpleness of her hand.

Is there some cosmically negative force acting on residents of our house? I crashed mightily, Jill had a minor fall (before bedrest was administered, and she (excepting her pride) and the Suteki were unscathed), and now this. The other coincidence is that all the bikes were blue.

Conveniently, today was Jill's dr. appointment. An obgyn nurse investigated the wounds, brought some ice, and suggested that if no worsening occurred, there was no need to see a dr. Also during the appointment, we learned that Clara is now a whopping 4 lbs, 2 oz. In one week she jumped from the 40th to the 60th weight percentile. Boooooom!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

big 30

We're 30 weeks into pregnancy now, which sounds like a very impressive number to me. At the last dr. appointment, Clara weighed in at 3 lbs. Jill says, 'That's nothing! We wanna see 6 lbs.' By the way, doesn't she look smaller than she did 2 weeks ago? I think it's the shirts. In any case, she feels huuuuge.
A good number of friends visited this week. Jill is very thankful for the visits and is always happy to see people.

That's Donovan, not Clara, in the photo below.

Jill's mom took the long weekend off to visit Mr. Smith, but she's back now. I managed to cook a couple of meals and do a few dishes in her absence. The rest of the time, I soaked in Jill's leisurely lifestyle.
On Sundays, Jill's mom and I ride to church together. It's a flat sub-2 mile ride through some pleasant neighborhoods. She hasn't expressed interest in my club's Wed night ride. Maybe later.

A new development is that a neighbor has taken to singing loudly on her porch. When we first heard the noise, we assumed she was wailing in grief. I'm no judge of singing ability, but I sense improvement over the last few days.