Sunday, August 30, 2009


I tried more bikes on Saturday.

They tried to upsell me to a Serotta titanium Fierte framed bike. The big difference, I noticed, was in the Shimano Ultegra components (vs. 105's or Tiagras).

I think I've narrowed it down.

I like the Trek 2.1 WSD (50 cm), and I also liked the Bianchi Imola (49 cm), but after feeling the smooth shifting of the Ultegra components, I think I want something that has those in it!

I went to Sammamish Valley Cycles, in Redmond. The salesguy I talked to there was a little pushy, initially, but he was great and gave good information. And he gave me great perspective: For every $1 you spend on a bike, you just ride a mile to compensate. Seems easy enough!

Anyway, I'm not in a big rush, and the SVC guy told me that once I had narrowed it to 2 or 3 bikes, to come in for a professional fitting ($200), and try all those bikes, and $100 of that fitting would be applied to the bike I chose.

I also want to try the cleats and pedals Melinda uses. They look more convenient than SPDs. I did some looking online and found out they were called Speedplays. The advantage I see is that they look smaller, lighter, AND you don't have to knock the pedal around to find the right side to clip into, which seems a lot safer than my SPDs that I currently use.

...more food for thought...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weaving and Stash and Bikes

I recently enhanced my fiber stash.

This beauty is 4.6 oz of 50% Merino, 50% Tencel fiber from "Perchance to Spin". I bought it from The Loopy Ewe. The colorway is called "From Kansas to Oz", and I love the concept. The fiber starts out in tones of gray (Kansas), and then gradually escalates to the Technicolor riot of Oz. I visualize maybe a thin 3 ply yarn out of this? One interesting thing about this roving is that it's REALLY dense. The package was really small, and I was wondering why, but the Merino / Tencel is just really packed together. Lots of predrafting ahead!

Here's my first WEAVING project! It is the "Thousand Flowers" towel pattern from the Handwoven magazine e-book, "Top Ten Towels on Four Shafts". I really love that they make an effort to supply books that focus on either 8-shaft or 4-shaft looms, so you don't have to wonder before you buy a book whether you can use the patterns, or at least adapt them to work for you.

The pink, orange and yellow stripes below are meant to be flowers, so I am hoping everything tightens up and fills in a bit when I block these towels, but even if they look a little abstract, I do like the shot of color they give. It is amazing how quickly things moved once I got into a groove with weaving last night - as long as the space for the shuttle was opening up correctly, I could throw the shuttle through and keep moving!

Here's a shot with too much flash, but it shows the overall effect of the loom I have, from the front side.


And now for something completely different!


I tried out some road bikes today! This was totally a new experience for me. I have a Cannondale hybrid bike, which means it's a bike that is meant for 'casual' riding, and is basically geared to ride around in a city, not necessarily emphasizing going fast or scaling mountains. You sit upright, which most people find comfortable, and you just mosey along.

I've been frustrated because the bike is just slow - even when I feel like I'm barreling down a hill, that might be around 20 mph. The bike is somewhat heavy, and I feel like the rolling resistance from the slightly wider tires is holding me back.

MAN!!! I tried out three bikes today, and two just blew me out of the water! First, I tried a Bianchi Imola, which is a steel-framed road bike. The three general types of frames you'll find for a road bike are steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber, with component-combinations thereof (a steel frame with a carbon fork is a pretty common combination these days). In general, here is what I've found:

- steel is flexible, cheap, and can give a "smooth" feeling to your ride.

- aluminum is light, strong, and can give a "stiffer" feel to your ride. (That is, the frame won't flex as much as steel, and you might feel more road vibrations).

- carbon fiber is REALLY light, stiff, and it ain't cheap. I'm pretty sure Lance Armstrong's bikes are some kind of carbon fiber composite.

Now, "stiff" and "smooth" can mean different things to different people. Some folks swear by aluminum, saying it translates all their energy to the road, and some people love the smoothness of steel.

For me, I'm not a professional cyclist. Probably never going to be. But I do like to ride, and I want to get into farther rides - 50 or 100 miles. I can do 20-30 miles (with little to no hills) pretty comfortably at this point on my hybrid, but I feel like I want "more". I am betting I'll probably end up with a steel frame and carbon fork, just based on preliminary evidence from today.

I also tried an aluminum bike, a Cannondale Synapse. It was interesting, and I did notice it felt stiffer, but I couldn't decide if that was REALLY the bike vibrating more, or me having a psychosomatic reaction and deciding that I'd read so much about aluminum being stiff that OH GOD IT MUST BE TRUE. (*I would link to the Synapse, but I had trouble finding the exact model I rode at the store online earlier*).

I tried a third bike, but it's barely worth mentioning. It was a commuter bike, and to me, it felt like an expensive version of the bike I already have.

So, what does this mean? Reviews? Well, I loved the Bianchi, only the distance from the seat to the handlebars was a little too long for me, and made it hard for me to squeeze the brake levers really well. The Cannondale felt better on that note (shorter distance to the handlebars), but the other geometry of the bike put a lot of noticeable stress on my knees. I also feel like, in general, I would like a handlebar with a smaller diameter. My hands aren't huge, and it was hard for me to grab everything securely and I never launched the bikes into an all-out sprint because I felt very insecure about being able to stop the bike quickly.

Best thing about the experience? I never really knew how LIGHT road bikes were! I could have picked one up with just a few fingers! It takes both hands for me to hoist my hybrid onto my car rack. Worst thing? Not being able to grab the handlebars, and being tentative about riding around a neighborhood with very narrow streets.

Luckily, there's a few more bike shops in town, so I will be able to try out many more types of bikes. This was definitely educational, though!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jessie & Jeremy & Connor, Part 2

Jeremy's home.

Well, in Washington. He's in the hospital. I just had a short text-message conversation with Jessie, since I didn't want to disturb anyone with a ringing cell phone.

Man, I thank my lucky stars that Daniel is only running exercises on his boats, not in actual lines of fire!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Great Paleo Post / Dietribe

Y'all have seen that I have linked to Melissa Byers' blog before. I dig her style.

And I dig her latest post, "How to Win Friends and Influence Paleo".

She speaks the truth. Whenever I tell people why I don't eat this or that, because it gives me acne, or sends me running for the nearest bathroom, or after I eat it my knees hurt for no reason... People don't believe you. Or they think you're crazy. Or both.

People are often out of tune with their own bodies. They may think that their chronic back/knee/wrist/stomach pain is "Normal" and "everyone has it".

I tried using this example once, with my mom. We were talking about birth control pills, and I said that I hadn't had cramps since I was on the pill (aside from the obvious benefit of not popping out an unexpeceted chill'un). She said I shouldn't have cramps anyway, that she never did, and I told her most people experience some pain, and she came back with, "And HOW MANY people do you know that are in Optimum Health?"

Case Closed. Mom Wins Again. (I consider myself extremely lucky that my mother is incredibly intelligent, inquisitive, and quick on her feet and able to cite scientific studies and authors like you wouldn't believe! It makes arguing tough, though, when hard evidence is smacked down in front of you!) :)

Remember those same people from two paragraphs ago? The ones who think their chronic pain is normal? They also probably will turn to Western medicine, pills and injections and god knows what else, to cure their pain, when the answer is probably very simple. If you eat the right things (for you), exercise in the right way (for you), get enough sleep, and have some means of eliminating stress, then you will, very likely, live a long and happy life free from any sort of disease or major pain.

Note I said "eat the right things / exercise the right way (for you)". Let's start with eating. Here is what I eat: grass finished meat, chicken, pork (including bacon) from Skagit River Ranch in Washington, about an hour north of Seattle. If I can't get that, I make an effort to find the, at least, "grass fed" or "organic" animal slices in the supermarket. Organic vegetables from Local Roots CSA or my farmer's market, local stores, etc. Organic fruit from my farmer's market and local grocery stores. Some coconut water (no added sugar, but it does have naturally inherent carbohydrates because it is a perfect isotonic beverage). Herbal tea (lots). Water. Butter. Salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. One cup of coffee with organic whole milk in the morning (~12 oz total). Roasted cacao beans. The occasional bit of salami or hard parmesan chunk (not more than an ounce or so). Nuts of all kinds. A large salad for lunch (courtesy of the CSA). Very little alcohol (a glass a month, or so). Do I go out to eat? Hell Yes, and I try my best to stick to this sort of food. Is this type of lifestyle cheap? Hell No! Notice nowhere in there did I mention I go to Wal-Mart or the Cash & Carry/Giant/Safeway/Vons for my food. I know it's expensive, but I consider it in the realm of "preventive maintenance". If I can live in a manner that I believe is in accordance with my beliefs about environmental preservation, eating local, healthy, becoming an optimum weight, and being pain- and acne-free, then Why in the World wouldn't I do it? Notice that nowhere in this paragraph did I mention grains or processed foods. They don't work for me, plain and simple.

Here is an account by my friend Randy, of why he started eating more vegetables.

I am also committed to the Long & Slow track of weight loss. This means I have cut down my meat consumption, as well as portion sizes in general. This pretty much means I'm hungry all the time, and it is annoying, but I can see some body changes! It's pretty amazing. And it takes forever, because for some reason those last ten pounds are as stubborn as a mule in the rain.

Now for the exercise bit. I have friends that do pilates, friends that do yoga, friends that row or mountain bike or hike with 50 lb packs for days on end, friends that take all the morning classes at the local gym and then some evening yoga, friends that run 12 miles and then stop for two weeks, then pick up one day and run 10 miles again, and friends that are always training for a new triathlon. Lifting heavy things and being forced to do fast, crazy drills at Crossfit works for me, with a small dose of pilates. I also believe in getting the hell outside as often as possible, whether that's in a kayak, sailboat, on skis, snowshoes, hiking boots, or on a bike. If I can't get to Nature, I'll take a walk around my neighborhood and admire the changing plant life.

I encouraged my mom to find a personal trainer in Louisana, and that seriously helped her get in shape for their recent trip to Peru. He focuses on pilates with her. And you know what? She got hooked and is going to stick with him!


To summarize, I think everyone needs to find what is right for them. Most of us are capable of acting like sentient adults, and making our own decisions. No, it's not easy changing habits. Yes, you can do it. Self control and determination are skills that require constant practice, they just don't *appear* one day.

Good Luck!


(Someone help me off my soapbox, please!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jessie & Jeremy & Connor

I became friends with the aforementioned trio via Daniel. Jessie & Jeremy had gone to ROTC together, and I think they either knew Daniel from high school or college... I can't remember how far they go back, but they are all really good friends!

I was speaking to Daniel via Skype last week, before he got onto the aircraft carrier (maybe I should explain: I was supposed to travel to Japan as of last Thursday, but the Tuesday prior, Daniel called me and told me that the Navy had reassigned him to a carrier at the last minute. Literally. As in, he was supposed to have flown out for a two day jaunt to Korea the next day, and now he was finding himself packing up for a who-knows-how-long stint.

Anyway, he told me that Jeremy had been injured while on tour in Afghanistan, and that his legs were injured. Here is an AP article that Jessie linked to in her blog describing the event. After much investigation on her part, she found out that Jeremy was OK, in good spirits, and is undergoing surgery in DC before coming home. There was some mention of metal plates; this can't be too exciting for either of them.

My thoughts are with them. Their son, Connor, is a cute little guy with some developmental disabilities, and he is actually the baby that I've spent the most time with. Ever. Can you believe that? :) In my mind, Jessie & Jeremy are some of the best parents ever - they are patient, kind, loving, ... did I say patient? And they are just really sweet people, and I sincerely hope that Jeremy's recovery goes quickly and they can get back to normal life, and hopefully he won't get deployed again, or at least for a very long time! (Or maybe he'll get deployed somewhere fun and safe, like Hawaii).

Cafe I Do

I wanted to make everyone who even glances at this blog aware of one of my oldest friend's newest ventures!

Please hightail it on over to Cafe I Do!

My friend Priscila had such fun planning her own wedding that she has started scouring websites and other material for beautiful, fun wedding ideas!

While I didn't attend her wedding, the pictures, cards, and associated paraphernalia that I viewed online or received in the mail all coordinated beautifully and provided a real cohesion to her wedding design ideas.

Hm, maybe we can shuttle her site off to Apartment Therapy or one of it's offshoots...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Post 30 Days of Paleo

I did it! I ate Paleo for 30 days!

The only digression I had was about 10 days in, when I had some slightly-sweetened cream inside of a chocolate shell at the L'Auberge du Lac casino buffet in Lake Charles, LA. Oh yeah, and the mini-can of Coke I drank when I almost fainted after my blood draw mid-month. That was a necessity, though, and the first soda I've drank in 10 years or so.

I feel great!

I no longer crave sugar. I mean, if I see a cupcake or pastry, YES of course I want it, but not like I used to crave it, and I also know that it is like crack, and if I eat even part of it, all this effort was for Naught, and I'll have to start back at Square One. And who wants that.

I have to credit Melissa Byers' blog for the inspiration to Sack Up and do this. She owns a Crossfit out in New Hampshire somewhere, and gives the Tough Love via Blog like no one else. Plus, you know, I am jealous and want to be pulling her weights. :) (Although my deadlift just went up to 75 kg, so I am finally pulling more than my body weight). ETA: My goal is to pull a 90 kg DL by December. That's TWO BILLS (read: 200 lbm) off the floor, people! I will have Fran ready with a camera.

As an extra incentive, I had an alternative sort of blood test done to determine whether I had any food allergies, and I found some surprising results. I am to avoid polysorbate-60, tapioca, and flaxseed for 6 months, and an odd variety of food and environmental / petroleum based substances for 3 months, before reincorporating them into my life. Most of these allergens are easy to avoid, but some - like TEA - are difficult for me, because I love it so much and have an entire cupboard shelf devoted to it. Luckily, substitutes abound, like the many varieties of herbal teas available.


Anyway, all I am saying is that changing your habits is possible, you just have to be willing to put up with the discomfort of retraining yourself in new habits.


As another update, I have lost probably about 4 lb since I left for Louisiana; not a ton of weight, but it's a start. Yes, it's annoying to be eating less - this means I'm pretty much a little bit hungry all the dang time. And I eat a lot less meat, and serving sizes in general, than before. So if that's what it takes for me to lose some more weight, then so be it.


Well. The sun came out today; I am glad! It is warm once more in Seattle.

I've been busy!...

I bought the World's Cheapest Bookcase at Target on Saturday. Worse than IKEA; none of the fasteners were metal, just injection-molded plastic that I had to snap off stems. It reminded me of making a plastic model car. But it was $20, and it looks close enough to my IKEA shelves, so it shall remain.

I also indulged in a new shower curtain, bath mat, table lamp, and ... I think that is it.


Knitting pictures!

I finished my Toasty Topper and Bootees for my friend Paul's wife, Becca. She is due to pop out their kiddo next month sometime, I believe.

The hat is knit double-stranded with Cascade 220 superwash. I have no idea what size head it will fit, but hopefully it will be too big, if anything, and their boy will grow into it. Like I've confessed before, I have no idea as to how big babies are, or how big they are supposed to be. I assume that since I followed the pattern, it will be "enough". And if not, well, uh, sorry Becca. :)

I had to wait forever on the booties. I emptied my Kundert spindle today by plying my Icelandic sample, and then was able to use it to add twist to some of the green Cascade 220 s/w and then let it cable so it would stay twisted before creating the bootie ties.


Here are some gifts my mom brought me from Peru! I am thrilled with the bottom whorl spindle she found for me! It's beautiful. I am fairly certain that the whorl was made on a lathe, but the shaft looks hand-carved. The man who sold it to her told her that the wood will last 'for generations'.

She also gave me a Shaman's hat that she bought. I think she bought it and then decided she wasn't going to be using it for her ceremonial work, so here's hoping it brings me luck skiing!


I leave for Japan on Thursday! I am soo excited! And as an added bonus, it looks like some friends from Seattle recently moved to Japan somewhere! I tried to contact them via Facebook; hopefully things work out and we can connect with them!

Now, to decide what to knit while on the 10+ hour flight...

Friday, August 7, 2009

General Update

I have neglected this blog for a while! Whoa!

Well, here is a bullet list of what's going on. I'll elaborate more, hopefully I'll have some time this weekend. With pictures!

  • I was just in Louisiana for 2 1/2 weeks, dog/house-sitting while my parents went to Peru. They said the trip was amazing, exhausting, exhilirating, and many other -ings. Thanks to my manager for letting me telecommute while I was out there!
  • My mom brought me back lots of goodies from Peru. A crystal necklace, a Shaman's ceremonial hat (which I am sure was for her, but she said she wasn't going to use it; maybe it will stay on my head while I ski - the pom pom on top is pretty wild), another hat, and over a kg of alpaca yarn in various weights. I also brought home part of a dish set that belonged to my grandma (surprisingly, nothing broke), and an alpaca hide rug. It needs some fixing, but is beautiful and oh-so-soft to roll around on.
  • I am home for 10 days, several of which have already passed. I leave August 13 for Tokyo, Japan! I am so excited! I haven't seen Daniel since we met in Hawaii several months ago, and I intend to make good use of our time together. :)
  • While in Japan, we're going to climb Mt. Fuji. Climb. Mount. Fuji. Hopefully I will be OK. I warned Daniel I'd have all my four-letter words in a row before we started, because y'all know how I like to have the Tourette's outbursts when picking heavy things up off the ground or other exhausting Crossfit-induced workouts.
  • After I get home from Japan (August 30), my sister and brother in law will be coming out to Seattle & Portland! Hooray! Paul asked for kayaking, and he shall have it. I would also like to take them to the ice caves, if they are in good condition.
  • I still haven't finished warping my loom. Sigh. Jen is out at Sock Summit this weekend, so she wasn't available to help. I finished tying on the back beam, I just need to do the front beam.
  • I received my July RSC kit; LOVE IT! It's inspired by heirloom tomatoes.
  • I also bought a bunch of other crap: Bose noise-cancelling headphones (refurbished, shipped from China. Hopefully they aren't fake, but they seem to work fine. They were specifically for the 10.5 hour flight to Japan, but they seem like they will come in handy at other times), a few new books from the Interweave "hurt book sale", and a Starbucks Barista espresso machine with included conical burr grinder! (That last one was off Craigslist, and I got the pair for $150. New, the pair would have been over $450, so I don't think I did too badly). I also justified it by thinking that if I make my own coffee instead of going out, I will save money AND be able to use better quality ingredients. For instance, I really like Stumptown beans. They are roasted in Portland, and delivered up here just a few days after roasting. They also make a Panamanian blend, so I can, you know, support the Motherland. I also use a vat-pasteurized half and half, from a local dairy, and I buy raw milk when I can get it (although I don't know how raw milk will behave under the steam wand of the espresso maker). Truth be told, I know I have lots of room to grow using the espresso maker, but dang if it doesn't turn out a great latte! I even managed to get some pretty fine foam on the milk.
  • I am almost done knitting a baby hat to go with the baby booties I am making for a friend who's wife is due to pop one out soon.
  • I ordered Clearwire, which is a local wireless internet service, but my reception isn't looking too good right now, and I may need to send it back and cancel my service. I was hoping to save money by not having a landline and ditching Qwest, but it doesn't look like that is a possibility.
  • After a couple of weeks of struggling to understand some coding at work, my coworker showed me a much easier way to write a script. I am glad that is working, because it was starting to cause me a little stress!!

OK, now it's off to an annual physical for more anti-baby pills! Hoorah!