Archive for the ‘Bill’ Category

ModHome: Backstory and Alternate Universes

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

I’ve used Visio for years for various job-related tasks. It’s a good tool that is much more sophisticated than PowerPoint, and much less intimidating than AutoCAD. As part of the research into our new house, I discovered a while back that Visio had the ability to create floorplans. This was largely targeted toward business users doing space planning in an office environment (or a server farm, with a different plug-in), but it did have some light options for doing residential work.

I went through a few dozen iterations of a ‘dream’ home to learn about what we wanted and how it might be laid out. Then, every time we got vaguely interested in an area, I would try to knock up a few layouts to see what a particular site and jurisdiction would allow us to build.

For those interested in our journey, attached is a subset of ideas we’ve examined for our site in Bellaire. Notably absent are the East-facing courtyard ideas. I’ll post those later.

Home Design – 5223 Locust

Bellaire Bound?

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

It’s no secret that I’ve lusted after a new house for several years. However, when Robin caught a bad case of The Twins back in 2011, I really had to step up my education process to understand what we wanted for the Next House and, conceptually, where we wanted it to be. When I was still going through a national job search, the “where” portion was a surface look, at best (hmmm…. Bellevue, WA vs. Milwaukee, WI vs. Raleigh, NC…). Once we knew that we were staying in Houston back in mid-November, the house hunt picked up steam. Of course, by house hunt, I mean house build. The problem with becoming educated enough to make a smart decision about a six figure purchase is that you quickly learn to be dissatisfied with a lot of things that one might otherwise take for granted or even think of as a benefit (do not ever ask me about Tyvek or fiberglass batt insulation — you have been warned).

So… that means that we are planning to build a home, rather than buying off-the-rack. No, we did not win the lottery. We are definitely not members of the Italian Marble, Exotic Rainforest Wood Products, and only the rarest of endangered species hide furniture crowd. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on learning what to ask for in terms of durability and energy efficiency, and hopefully how to get it at a ‘smart’ price (note: ground-source heat pumps and solar hot water are not in our future). I hope that I haven’t been led completely astray.

As of today, we have an option on a lot in Bellaire that is impaired enough that we can afford it, but hopefully not so impaired that we regret buying it. Since it is an option, this is definitely not a final decision (we’re not passionate about the choice). However, it does represent real progress. At some point, I may get to the point of blogging about the process. For now, it is sufficient that we may have a future location from which this blog gets written.

Cate-chism: the Quest for Daddy

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I got out of the office today (Friday) a little early, so I made it home before Caludia, our awesome nanny, left for the weekend. As a result, two little girls were somewhat confused about whether they should be excited that Daddy was home or sad that Nane was leaving. Since we are trying to get the girls down for sleep quickly (or more quickly, really) in the evenings, I proceeded quickly through the “unload the pockets” and “wash the hands” steps, while girls ran around the house saying, “Daddy?” or “Nane?”

While washing my hands in our master bathroom, Cate finally found me, and squealed loudly, “DADDY!!” when she saw me from our bedroom. She then ran towards me and threw herself into my arms for a big hug.

Definitely a good start to the weekend.

Sam Hugs #2 and #3

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

I’m not sure just why it happened, but Sam learned how to hug earlier than Cate. However, such things were not always given out with aplomb since there is just so much that a busy girl needs to do. As a result, I had gone a LONG time since I had gotten my first hug.

On Saturday, we went over the Bellaire to have lunch and to continue our property investigations. After the girls woke up from their naps, it was time to change diapers and start getting the girls ready to go out (they really like going out).

Sam usually does not stay still for me for a diaper change, but I told her repeatedly that we were going for a ride in the car-car, but that she needed to get a new diaper first. She grinned a big grin and was among the most cooperative she’s ever been.

After the change, I said, “All done. Listo!” and a big smile appeared on her face. I held out my index fingers to help her stand up, and instead of just standing, she jumped into my arms and hugged me! Sam hug #2!

Tonight, putting her to bed, she reached up and gave me a hug as we were transitioning from story time to placing the girls in their cribs to sleep. Hug #3.

You know, a dad could get used to this.

Lest I be accused of leaving out Catie, she’s become much, much more of a hugger of late. She also has gotten in the habit of running across the bedroom and jumping — somewhat — into my lap if I am sitting in the chain in our bedroom. All are great things.

Career in Transition, pt. 3

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Well, it’s been almost five months since my last update. The Atlanta opportunity came and went. It was frustrating (and a major red flag) to hear the recruiter say, “we pay for relocation, but some people go ahead and spend the money on a flat screen.” Coming from a person in a company who makes its money by helping its clients quantify value, these words really set my teeth on edge. With perhaps one or two exceptions, it is going to cost a small dump truck of money more to pick up the family and re-settle in a new town than it would cost to get a flat screen TV. Of course, at approximately $900,000, this television would easily cover the cost of the move, plus the cost of its 103″ sibling:

That being said, I did visit the company’s office for a full day of interviews. Nice people, but they were more focused on pricing optimization for travel and hospitality, where my experience lies more in business-to-business pricing and market strategy.We just didn’t align. I could have helped them expand, but at my career level and in the current economy, most companies are looking for someone who will be “plug and play” into the existing model. So, Atlanta came and went.

A few more opportunities have flared up and died off in the interim. The most serious of which being a product management position at a pricing software company in Austin, and a general market strategy job for a large e-commerce company in Seattle. Ultimately, I did not get the job at the company in Austin because they, too, wanted someone with more operational experience in product management than I possess. This was a telling experience since product management has been one of my core positions for which I’ve been looking, but have had almost no traction in getting interviews. If a company who does pricing software won’t hire me for a product management job, then I am unlikely to get hired by other companies outside of the pricing universe for a similar role.

The Seattle job, on the other hand, is in its own form of stasis, perhaps even outright limbo. I’ve been through several rounds of interviews, all virtual, including meeting with the Senior Vice President who is the boss of the hiring manager. They’ve owed me an invitation to Seattle to come visit the office, and/or some form of outright rejection, but that just hasn’t come. Four weeks ago, the recruiter told me that I was going to be contacted by the hiring manager to schedule an office visit as the last step in the process. Then the recruiter went off on vacation for eight days.

When he got back, a second person had jumped into the interviewing queue, but at the next career level up from what I had interviewed at (Senior Director vs. Director). They indicated that they would know by the end of the week whether they were going to move forward with the other candidate at the higher level. That was supposed to be July 27th, and I haven’t heard anything much more substantive since then. The hiring manager has gone ‘radio silent’ after being fairly chatty over e-mail, which is never a good sign. The recruiter has been fantastic, keeping me up-to-date on some of the internal issues, even if the net effect of those conversations has been, “no news”. From what I can gather, it does not sound like the other candidate knocked their socks off, but they also seem to be going through some form of internal debate about the Director vs. Senior Director issue. I’d be happier with the latter title (bottom of the executive ranks vs. top of the managerial ranks), but getting across that divide also has significant organizational implications, as well.

A third option is local to Houston. A large, established manufacturing conglomerate has poured a few billion dollars into acquisitions into the Oil & Gas industry locally, and it is working on integrating the acquisitions and improving the acquired companies’ performance. Through my network, I found out about a role at one of the divisions that is right up my alley, so I have had several preliminary discussions with the person who was going to be the hiring manager — all prior to the role being formally approved and actually posted. Well, a couple of weeks ago, the role did finally get approved and posted, so my resume has been handed over to the new hiring manager (it got shifted up and over a level), and the person to whom I’d been talking assured me that I’d be getting contacted soon. However, until I start interviewing for real, it’s hard to even count eggs, let alone chickens…

Other opportunities? I went through a preliminary round with a telecom company in Denver (no news for several weeks, so it’s likely dead or passed me by). I found a company in Manchester, UK, that was looking for a pricing leader. It’s doubtful that they can a) afford me, or b) get me a visa, but it’s fun to dream. That company also has a headquarters in Seattle, and the UK-based hiring manager was going to recommend me to the US-based VP who owns pricing. And, oh, yeah, I have a possible opportunity at a large electronics retailer that has popped up, but may or may not amount to anything. There are a few more out there, but not anything worth mentioning at this point. I continue sending out somewhere between 10 – 20 resumes a week (I sent out 16 resumes in one day after I got turned down by the Austin company!). My time in Raleigh is drawing to a rapid, but still uncertain, close, so it would be nice to have the financial security of knowing what’s going on next. Oh, yeah, just for my own sanity, it would also be good to know what’s happening next!

Career in Transition, part 2

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

When I went back to work at the beginning of the year after taking a sabbatical for three months to help get Samantha and Catherine through their most vulnerable early months, I only had an agreement with my client in Raleigh for a couple of months of work to help them get funding for a major business transformation effort. The good news is that the funding came through, and my position is now set until April of 2013. The bad news is that Raleigh is not Houston, so that means a lot of travel ahead for me, and time away from Robin and the girls.

As a result, I’ve been continuing my job hunt since it would be imprudent to move to Raleigh without a permanent position and the implied job security that comes with it. I originally started looking outside of Houston back in the fall when I came across a job positing that was simply too perfectly tailored for me to pass up. The hitch: it was in Milwaukee. Having broken the mental and emotional barrier about looking beyond the Houston city limits, I’ve most recently interviewed in suburban Chicago at the beginning of March and in Atlanta this past Monday.

Chicago was a good company and a good role, but the position required a bit more experience on the quant side of what I do. While getting turned down is less frustrating than no market traction at all, a certain member of my family gets cold in Houston’s winters, so Chicago was going to be a Brave New World for all of us.

Atlanta, or Hotlanta, doesn’t have the same climatological questions hanging over it that Chicago does. Fittingly, the company in Atlanta isn’t a member of the Fortune 500. Actually, it has fewer than 500 employees. A LOT fewer, in fact. It’s a boutique consultancy whose focus is on the services and types of problems which I’ve done in one way, shape or another for most of my career.

I have shied away from getting back into consulting due to the travel requirements, so I was really intrigued when the Atlanta recruiter kept talking about how little travel they really did. After having gone through five interviews on Monday, either they are all talking from the same script or they really do manage to work out of their offices. Fairly nice offices, at that. While we’re not excited about the prospect of moving, this might turn into a legitimate option. We’ll see how it progresses over the next few weeks!

Career in Transition

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I had a long post here detailing the background of why I left Deloitte and where I/we stand in searching for a replacement position. I did so because some of you have seen on Facebook that I’ve had some interviews lately and have also expressed concern with how we are doing. Rather than leave up the long, rambling, fairly self-indulgent detailed explanation that read a little on the depressive side, let me give a more abridged account and focus on where we are at in the overall scheme of things.

Last December, I finished up an ugly, ugly project that was to secure the funding for my division’s outgoing CEO’s legacy project (nine figure funding request). As a result of that project, it became apparent that it was time to leave Deloitte, and my boss and I agreed that my next project was to find my next job, and we wound up my responsibilities over the remaining six months of the fiscal year. I had several discussions with local firms, but I seemed to be priced out of the local market outside of Oil and Gas, and to get an Oil and Gas job at my level, I needed Oil or Gas experience. In fact, this has been a recurring theme for a year and a half, since I originally started looking for a local job back in June of 2010. It was also a theme when I last left Deloitte back in 2005/6, bu t that’s a different story. Suffice it to say that I have not had good luck finding local, successful companies who can use and pay for someone with my skills.

That being said, I was a reasonably successful consultant, and I came across what was just about the perfect job description to “wash the stink” of consulting off of me back in late October, so I submitted a resume and a pithy cover letter, and thought little about it. That is, until the recruiter contacted me back a few days later. Whoa. I had spent the eight weeks prior to Robin’s second hospital admittance working for a computer manufacturer in Raleigh, NC, and they had wanted me to stay around as a contact employee, but this was my first nibble in a while in my “wheel house”: pricing and market strategy. Good stuff.

Except there was a hitch. Great role? Check. Successful company? $40 billion in revenue last year with almost a 10% net (after tax) margin. Check. Good location? Err, um, Glendale, Wisconsin. Aka suburban Milwaukee. Aka “Chicago Lite”. Hmm… If I’m going to entertain offers from outside Houston, how about looking in places where we might want to live (Austin, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Bay Area, Boston, etc.). In pretty short order, I was talking to several companies, though the fits weren’t as good as Milwaukee, and all but an opportunity in suburban Philadelphia have basically dropped off. I also contacted my boss/client in Raleigh to let him know that I was looking for full-time positions. He eventually got back to me that they were interested, and had a relatively meaty role. Somewhere in there, a couple of more local opportunities popped up, but one of them wasn’t a good fit money-wise, and the other didn’t even want to interview me (an oil company — go figure).

Having had a mostly good-to-great experience in the office interviewing in Milwaukee, I am hopeful that they’ll contact me with a good offer after the first of the year. I am also hopeful that Raleigh will follow-though and be able to give me a meaty full-time role that is comparable or better than my current consulting gig with them. However, if anyone hears of something in Houston, I’m all ears.

We now return you to cute girl pictures.

Bill on why the debt ceiling matters…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Reposted from Facebook

I suspect most of the people to whom I am linked on Facebook will understand, at least broadly, the idea that the Federal Government not raising the debt ceiling is a bad idea. However, beyond the idea of “we need to keep the government open” or “we need to pay people’s social security,” many may not really understand why. Let me attempt to help out in a reasonably non-technical way.

A trip down history lane

The US Constitution, for all of its longevity and power, has a few very specific provisions in it, and one of those is the idea that spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The founding fathers did this because they wanted to ensure that the officials most responsible for authorizing the expenditure of the nation’s treasure were the ones who were most accountable to the people whose efforts and labors paid for it. Thus, if the House of Representatives started spending money in ways that were disliked by their constituents, they would hear it most quickly and most readily at the ballot box.This idea, of being directly accountable to the people, is a good one in theory. In theory, the House would be good stewards of the purse strings, constantly working to spend responsibly and raising sufficient taxes to pay for it all. Unfortunately, the ink was not even dry on the parchment before the nation’s first great debt crisis was upon us. As most of us remember from way back in the days of yore (aka High School Civics class), our current government is actually our nation’s second. The first government, the one that carried us through the War of Independence, did not really work all that well. There was a lot of squabbling over how the war should be conducted, how monies should be spent, and which businesses in which states should get which procurement contracts. In short, it looked a lot like the modern Congress, just with wigs.

Like our modern congress, the Continental Congress ran up a big foreign debt that was used for such trivial expenses as paying troops, buying guns and ensuring that farmers received compensation for putting food in the bellies of the people fighting the Redcoats — nothing serious like ethanol subsidies, bridges to nowhere and federal buildings named after themselves. While the Continental Army was successful (with a generous dollop of help from the French), the war was expensive and the United States were deep in debt to foreign countries. Unlike today, the United States economy was not “too big to fail”, so while many people were of a mind to tell the current bond holders to “stuff it”, the Constitution specifically acknowledged the prior debt (Article Six). What was a newly minted legislature to do?Up until the Civil War and the introduction of the income tax, the Federal Government operated in an environment where it was basically always short on cash. Given its limited ability to tax and the ascendancy of “States Rights”, few people really wanted to lend a lot of money to the government, so the Federal Government was a much smaller portion of our total economy than it is today. It still did some important things, but the specter of debt and borrowing was always front-and-center in the political landscape (not like today where the “Ways and Means” committee — aka Taxes — is separate and distinct from the “Appropriations” committee — aka spending). This state of affairs lasted basically up until the butcher’s bill came due for the major issue not dealt with by the Constitution: slavery. With the Civil War, the Federal Government needed money. It needed a lot of it, and it needed it fast. Welcome to the income tax. Oh, and before you get all nostalgic for the other side, they did something much more harmful to their economy since they didn’t like taxes: they printed money. A lot of it. So much, in fact, that a Confederate Dollar in November of 1864 in Houston was worth 1/50th of what it was in September of 1861. In fact, inflation had gotten so far out of hand that the Confederacy had to basically wipe away one third of its money by the middle of 1864 and issue new bills. Setting aside the moral environment in the south, think about how disruptive it would have been to your family and livelihood if the value of your money had suddenly been reduced by a third. But let’s not dwell on a possible future.

The Marshall Plan

From the Civil War to the end of World War 2, the United States experienced both a significant growth in the total size of its economy and also in the sophistication of its economy. We were blessed with a few unique attributes (large land mass, abundant natural resources, rapidly growing population) right as the industrial revolution got into full-swing. By the time of World War I, the US was the world’s largest economy. By the end of World War 2, the US was the only remaining undamaged economy among the then-developed nations. Into this vacuum stepped the Marshall Plan. With the Marshall Plan, the US re-built western Europe with the idea that getting their economies back on-track would keep them out of the hands of the Communists. This in turn created a huge demand for American products while also cementing the Dollar as the global currency of foreign trade and finance.

This last bit cannot be understated. Global finance is anchored to the US Dollar. The foundation of modern finance is the “risk free rate”, the market rate that provides the “cost” of money being transferred from people who have excess capital (aka money) to those who need additional capital (you know, money). Just like an airline, there are additional surcharges and fees that get layered on top of this for things like needing the capital over a longer time frame (so-called “duration”), or with a less-than-perfect borrower (“risk premium”), or to lend when the supply of money is increasing (“inflation premium”). In fact, modern finance is largely the systematic effort to identify, quantify and exploit sources of risk over and above the risk free rate.For its primary goal, most scholars agree that the Marshall Plan was a huge success. The US had economic dominance over the global economy for about 20 years from 1945 to about 1965. However, as the Vietnam War escalated, the US economy was somewhat diverted to the “guns” side of the “guns vs. butter” tradeoff, while the economies of Japan and Western Europe started to really get back on track.

Blowing sunshine in America

With Vietnam, the Great Society and a couple of oil shocks, a persistent but minor fiscal deficit began its metamorphosis into a significant structural problem. By the time the last of the celebratory champagne was drunk from Ronald Reagan’s trouncing of Walter Mondale, the deficit — the amount of money by which tax revenues lag expenditures — was running over $300 billion per year. And this was from a Republican President who, in 1980, railed against a Democratic one for running $60 billion a year in deficits.While the Laffer Curve has some very important insights into economic behavior, it ultimately represents a testable hypothesis, not an ironclad law. What’s more, it’s alleged test of lowering taxes rates in order to raise total tax revenue (something like a price elasticity for taxes) was conducted during a period of extreme Keynesian stimulus (e.g., the massive military buildup during Reagan). A couple of trillion dollars later, Reagan was effectively able to bankrupt the Soviet Union and its support network for its satellite countries, but before we could say, “peace dividend”, we were in the first of three successive wars in the Middle East.Of course, those of a Progressive leaning will want to offer up that during the Clinton presidency, the Federal Government ran a surplus. I suspect, in fact, that current politicians are looking at the Clinton-Gingrich showdown over the federal budget as a blueprint for the current debt ceiling fiasco. Unfortunately, actual data does not support the proposition of surpluses. Yes, Clinton did a LOT better than his immediate predecessors, but if you look at total borrowing, the national debt still increased each year under Clinton. Why the discrepancy?Much like when Regan’s economic team added the armed forces to the ranks of the employed, Clinton’s economic team included social security taxes as current taxes without recognizing any sort of long-term liability to offset the revenues. This would be the same as an insurance company taking in policy premiums for life insurance, but not booking any sort of expense against those revenues for the policies on which they expected to pay out. It may be great press, but it’s bad accounting.

Hitting the gas

With the bursting of the dotcom bubble, and related financial shenanigans, coincidental with the felling of the World Trade Center towers, and the subsequent wars in the Middle East, the US economy was effectively rescued from what should have been a massive recession and war-time footing by the Bush administration’s request to “go shopping”. With nominal deficits running $500 billion per year, a Republican administration again effectively pulled a page out of the Keynesian playbook, using large deficits to fund increases in government spending.

While Conservatives are quick to talk about the jobs created during Bush’s early years that coincided with decreases in marginal tax rates, they oddly seem to ignore that they did this without coming anywhere close to balancing the budget. It’s as if they think that saying “tax cuts creates jobs” enough times will make it true. Yes, there are ways to make tax cuts improve job growth, but blanket tax cuts aren’t it. You also need to cut spending by a like amount to make the Laffer Curve argument stick. That hasn’t been done — ever.

Instead, we have done the economic equivalent of “hitting the gas”. When the economy stopped responding to the existing stimulus (deficit), we just borrowed and spent even more. While this is good for near-term economic growth, it does so at the expense of long-term prospects (in economic terms, you are pulling demand forward). What’s even more interesting is that with the increased debt load, you add more risk into the economy since a greater proportion of income goes into debt service (i.e., interest payments). Where this truly goes astray is that with the greater risk, comes a greater requirement to ensure the economy continues growing. To continue growing the economy requires greater stimulus, and greater stimulus requires greater borrowing. In effect, what we have created, we, the voters, is a treadmill which is ever-increasing. Stopping will be painful, but the current “Great Recession” shows us just a taste of what life could be like once the treadmill breaks. We must responsibly slow things down…

Full faith and credit

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. The lack of basic economic literacy evidenced in the mass media appalls me. In the broader population, it is worse. I’ve spent a large number of paragraphs talking about the history of our debt, with only some tangential asides about why increasing the debt limit matters. Fundamentally, the issue with the United States government not being able to roll-over its debt and to increase its borrowings to meet its Congressionally-authorized (mandated) spending levels is two-fold:

First, is the damage it would do to global finance. As mentioned before, all of global finance rests on the idea of a risk-free rate of return. For good or ill, what bankers the world over have used for decades as a proxy for the risk-free rate are US Treasury Bills and Bonds. For these to come into question means a) finding an alternate risk-free asset, and b) re-pricing EVERY security based upon the new risk-free rate. This would be hugely tumultuous with credit markets seizing up while people tried to figure out which currency, asset or commodity might represent the best proxy for a riskless asset (Gold? The Euro? Oil? All seem to have upsides and downsides…).

Second, not raising the debt ceiling is the economic equivalent of “going cold turkey”. It is one way to break an addiction, but depending upon the drug and the depth of the addiction, the consequences of this can be worse, physiologically, than the addiction itself. Given the decades upon decades of deficit stimulus under which the US economy has been addicted, to remove such stimulus suddenly would not just invite recession, it would guarantee a significant depression. Imagine, people who had business built serving the federal government seeing their accounts receivable extended and order books slashed, people who rely on social security seeing their benefits cut, people whose businesses rely on either of those two markets see a softening of their business, etc. The primary effects would be bad enough, but macroeconomics is filled with the concept of a “multiplier” – the effects on secondary and tertiary markets away from the primary one. In other words, the ripple effects, as they are often called, would be more like tsunamis.

Not good.

Any one of these two primary effects would be disastrous enough. If one combines them, and multiplies them, then the result would be catastrophic. It would take us decades, as a global economy, to sort out the pieces. There would be winners, but there would be a lot of losers. Yes, we need to overhaul our spending priorities and taxation policy (less of the one, more of the other — pain for everyone), but we don’t need to do it in a way that threatens our economy so quickly after facing the brink of disaster. Please urge your congressman to do the right thing or do what the Founding Fathers intended and find another Congressman who will.

The Week of Riding Dangerously

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

While I’m hanging out here at the Doctor’s office on a Sunday, I’m reminded that I still owe an update on the MS150. This isn’t that post. There are too many pictures sitting on my PC that need to accompany that post for me to tap that out from my iPhone. For those that have caught my brief rants on my Facebook account, by now you know that I’m having issues with an upgrade to Windows 7. For those who have managed to stay off of FaceBook, you haven’t really missed anything.

Back to cycling, though, which makes me happy (yay, endorphins!)…

After a hard couple of months in New York that ended in mid-May, I’ve had a significant stretch of time at home. This has allowed me to work on my fitness quite a bit , trying to get back to some semblance of where I was (not even “should have been”) coming out of the MS150 training season (i.e., at a significantly higher peak).

Since my road bicycle is typically equipped with a power meter, I have a comprehensive, quantitative view of my fitness level and, consequently, of how much work I am able to do. Combine that with riding with the same group over the same course week-in and week-out, and the longitudinal comparisons come quickly and unflatteringly. If I were a Pixar cartoon character, I would be wearing the Cone of Shame. For example: a couple of weeks ago, my average wattage for our weekday ride was about 10 watts less than normal (~285 vs. 295), and my peak wattage was about 300 watts less than normal (~900 vs. ~1200). The remedy: time for some bonus miles…

I focused the last two weeks on getting in rides as often as possible and on riding the right ride at the right time. This is a little harder than you might think. You don’t want to go all out all the time, and you don’t want to just sit-in for a comfortable pace every time, either. Instead, interval training within a workout and workout timing are the orders of the day. My timing with my work schedule was good because I managed my first seven day stretch of riding every day in a LONG time: hard days keeping up with the sprints in my group ride, recovery rides on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then long weekend rides at a decent, but not overly ambitious, pace. By this week, things were starting to look good again. Seems like time for a setback, right?

On Tuesday, I snapped my chain climbing the Stairway to Heaven (the Edloe overpass next to Lakewood Church). I was pushing 700 watts at the time while trying to “baby” my rear freehub by not doing a downshift under power. Well, my cassette started to skip, and snap! — no more chain.

Alrighty, then. I have another bike to ride while the parts come in to do a comprehensive fix. On Thursday, I rode Big Blue, my “dual sport” Gary Fisher 29er. While not as fast as my road bike, Big Blue has its own flavor of fun riding over potholes at speed. Or at least did.

At the halfway re-group point, I notices that my seat was a little too springy. Examining the seat, I noticed that there was a large crack in the seat tube just above the weld where the top tube and the seat tube intersect it. Not Good. While there is a lifetime warranty on the frame, Big Blue has seen its last ride. This is sad, because Big Blue was the bike that really got me into loving cycling.

Bye, Blue. You’ll be replaced, but never fully.

Fertnal: Instant Update

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

We saw Dr. M this morning for our procedure. Everything went very well. We got to the office a bit before 8am for some blood work and acupuncture (for Bob; I’m just the designated driver). After that, we had a bit of a wait, but activity started getting pronounced at 8:57, and by 9:08, it was done.

Bob’s now doing her post-procedure acupuncture (she likes acupuncture a lot), while I try to figure out how to upload photos to our blog from my phone.

More later.