Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Morning (Rode Bike, Got Gas, Blah, Blah, Blah)

So I did lots of things over the weekend that normally I find notable enough to post here on the least-viewed blog on the Internet, but this morning I don't feel like it's important enough to share.

Truly, there was nothing notable or different about my last tank of gas than the hundreds that came before, and the only thing notable about my bike rides was that one of them took me past a number of crappy hand-made street signs that annoy me to no end.

So the weekend ended, and the new week begins, and I get to start it all over again. Like it never even stopped.

Wake up, eat food, go to work, shuffle papers, ride bike if you're lucky, go home, shower up, eat food, attend/take kids to whatever the evening activity is, sit for a bit, go to bed, start over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat...

But today I guess it's a little different. One of my meetings is offsite so my boss will drive us there.

So lunch will be late.

Is this a case of the Mondays?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tank 315 - 20 April 2K12

I ended up putting more gasoline in the Mighty Corolla last Friday, but other events kept me from sharing until now.

It wasn't special in many ways. Indeed, it may be notable because of how ordinary the fill-up was. 11.309 gallons after going 437.6 miles, so a fuel economy of 38.69 miles per gallon.

So my average mileage for the year is up to 38.44 mpg.

This was the fourth tank in a row that occurred after 8 days.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Big Ride, Big Rain, Big Monday

From the time I reached home last Thursday afternoon until this Monday morning, I rode on my bike for about eight hours. Going into the weekend, I was more than 31 hours behind with my resolution to ride my bike for more time than I commuted to and from work in my car.

Saturday was the day for the inaugural (and possibly last, based on the number of complaints the participants had with the organization of the ride) "Lake Anna Century Classic." I had signed up for this at the end of January, and Saturday's weather called for a sunny warm morning with thunderstorms and wind blowing in after 2:00.

My plan was to be done before the rain!



Happily, I managed to get done just as clouds were rolling in.

Sadly, the rest stops were not as advertised. There were two adequate stops at 20- and 40-miles. Later I learned that later riders arrived at these stops to find the water supplies gone and no fruit or clif bar snacks at them.

A third stop was around 60 miles, and a small group of four of us got there to find other guys leaving. There was nothing there but a sign saying "rest stop" and a single porta-potty. I was depending on that stop to refill my water bottles and hopefully get more snacks! But about a hundred yards away was the only other structure in sight, a small church.

Being aware of my church and its security, I told the others that I'd go check it out, and maybe a door was left unlocked so we could get water. I decided not to check any doors, but I did go look for a hose connection. Most buildings have an outside hose, and this church had one. So I got to refill my water bottles.

None of the others wanted to refill their water bottles. Maybe they were afraid of trespassing or something, but my experience is most churches will happily let you take some of their water.

I feel bad for everyone else who didn't try looking for the hose at the church and had to go 15 more miles with empty water bottles. It was hot and sunny.

At the location where everyone thought the fourth rest stop should be, it was just a convenience store that was thrilled to have 200 bicyclists stopping there to buy gallon jugs of water and snacks. It was a self-generated rest stop. People bought gallon jugs and left them outside for other riders. It was nice. And lots of us went inside to get snacks. I bought a Coke and a Snickers bar.

Then to top it all off, the ride was only 96 miles. So instead of turning into the parking lot, I turned right and rode another 2 miles out and then turned around and got back just as my odometer passed 100 miles.
So I did the century, at least. And that was nice.

I achieved my goal of finishing, and managed an unexpectedly speedy average speed of 18.0 miles per hour when I was moving. Overall, I started at 8:07AM and finished at 2:08PM.

For the month, I am now holding on to a 24.3 hour deficit between riding the bike and commuting in the car. So there's about four hours of wiggle room to keep on track with my goal of running not more than a 7-hour-per-month deficit. I might make it, and I'm encouraged by the progress that was made over the weekend.

Next month there's "bike home from work day," but also a Saturday that I won't be able to ride due to a graduation ceremony out of town. But there's a holiday, too. But I'll worry about that when it happens.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gearing Up for a Century on Saturday (Helps Keep the Resolution On Track)

As I left work on Friday, the bike riding vs. car commuting challenge was looking poor. I was running a cumulative 29.43 hour deficit for the year.

In my plans, I should be exiting April with a total of a 28 hour difference between bike riding and car commuting. When my office moves to a closer location in the late summer, my commute time should be reduced such that if I maintain my same bike riding efforts, I'll end up the year with the bike riding either equal or slightly ahead.

The next couple of weeks will, well should, help with things.

Yesterday and the day before, I managed two rides of over two hours each, so I'm entering this week with a 26.97 hour deficit. So my two long rides helped to eat away about 2.5 hours. This week is scheduled to be a 4-day workweek, and on Saturday I'm registered to ride a century ride around Lake Anna.

Probably this will take around five and a half or six hours. I hope to average about 17 miles per hour, but there will be rest stops for snacks that will add to my time. But there's also the prospect of riding in a group, which likely would help my average speed increase due to the advantages of drafting.

But it may also rain. The weather reporters are predicting 50% chance of significant rain on Saturday. But that's five days from now, and weather prediction accuracy falls of dramatically when you get three or more days out. So I won't worry about that until Wednesday or Thursday.

But rain will probably slow things down, which will help my bike riding time to be higher, so that'd be nice in a way.

Roughly estimating, I'll be adding about six more hours of commuting time this week to and from work. With my predicted six hours of riding on Saturday, plus a couple "healthy wellness" rides at/after work this week, my current 26.97 hour deficit may be reduced by another few hours this week, too.

Looking forward into May, June, and July, it's likely I'll take some vacation days in these months to avoid holiday weekend traffic and take some minor trips with the family as vacation-lite activities. So my commuting times will not be as large for those months, but at the same time my bike rides may be reduced if we go places that will prevent me from riding. We'll see about those things as they happen.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tank 314 - 12 April 2K12 (Mighty Corolla Got New Wheelcovers!)

Refueled this morning just after lunch at the Wawa near my office. Gas was $3.989 there, and I got 11.130 gallons of it, after going 430.0 miles.

So my fuel economy was 38.63 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. I am maintaining a higher mileage for the year than last year. If this keeps up it will be a new annual high average. But it's still early in the year so I best not get my hopes up.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maybe It's My Diet...

I must be unwittingly eating lots more beans and fiber than I used to.

Some days, I feel that if I wore a pair of those Heely sneakers, I'd be able to jet-propel my way around the office!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Will Not Buy Facebook Stock, and Here's Why.

Based on what I have been reading, many people are freaking out (!) about the upcoming public offering of Facebook stock, like it's going to be the one true investment that will bring riches to everyone and put us all on easy street for the rest of our lives.

I don't think this will happen.

Now, I'm not an expert by any measure, but I do have a few "investments" in mutual funds and individual stocks. Some investments have gone up in value, and others have gone down. Back in the mid-1990s, I did not buy any Amazon.com stock, although if I had, it would have been a great investment with a wild rate of return.

People seem to always be looking for the next big get-rich-quick stock to buy. In the last several years, Facebook has become a household name, with millions of people across the world using it regularly to check up on their friends and to share their lives with others.

To me, it seems that this indicates that Facebook has already gone through its rapid growth period. The Facebook market is saturated. Most people who access the internet have heard of it, and have gotten Facebook accounts if they want them. Indeed, many people have multiple Facebook accounts.

Facebook has done this while remaining a privately held company. It makes money on advertisements themed to what members post about and like.

As a public company, Facebook won't be an exclusive company controlled by a few high ranking people. It will be run by a board of directors and be answerable to all shareholders, shareholders who expect to see continued growth of an extreme magnitude. Growth = advertising revenue = shareholder value.

Well, the way I see it, since Facebook has already grown to be so large and involved in many aspects of our lives, when it goes public, the share price will already reflect this value. The only way to gain more value is to continue its exponential growth.

This brings me to my next concern, based mostly on my own personal experience.

Three years ago, my high school used Facebook to organize much of my graduating classes reunion. This was the time when, if Facebook was a public company, I should have bought some shares. It seemed that all of my friends, both local and as I could see across the country (since my graduating class had spread from New York to Virginia, California, North Carolina, and Egypt), were signing up with new accounts to get information about old friends. All these new accounts were new eyeballs to see advertising to generate more revenue for the Facebook company.

I saw this high school reunion effect happen with many of my local friends as well. I can only conclude that similar things happened across the country. That would have been a great time to buy, but we couldn't buy Facebook stock at the time since it was still privately held.

Now, three years later, the Facebook market seems saturated. Lots of high school classes have used it to organize reunions. It seems everyone who wants an account has one. Not much new growth seems apparent, or very possible.

But what about the new generation of upcoming teenagers? Won't they want to Facebook, too?

Sure they will! But many of the past generation of teenagers used MySpace. MySpace yielded to Facebook, and to a certain degree Twitter. It's fairly certain that someday there will be a great replacement to Facebook, something that hasn't been thought of yet, that will easily incorporate your Facebook profile in as much detail as you want (Google +, perhaps, but likely something newer). I may be wrong in this aspect, as Amazon.com still reigns supreme in online retail.

(As an aside, Amazon.com actually sells tangible items to make money. Facebook relies on advertising revenue based on eyeballs looking at the screen)

But as many people sign up for Facebook accounts in the future, the number of stale, inactive accounts will also grow. We used Facebook to plan events and catch up with friends, and now that it's passed, the need to check in on Facebook is lessened, so we'll cut back on how often we check it, and realize that life didn't end when we weren't online, and many older accounts will just slowly become less and less active. The high numbers of Facebook accounts will remain, but that will be balanced by a related number of inactive or forgotten accounts.

And a final point about Facebook becoming a public company that concerns me is the refreshes that Facebook does every now and then.

Remember how angry everyone got when the Timeline was introduced? People got in an uproar!

Now think about what will happen to the Facebook stock price when it introduces something new that is instantly ridiculed by the masses who hate it. Management won't be able to say "be patient, you'll learn to love it" any more. Shareholders will see the stock price go down and get antsy and complain with loud voices. That will likely not be pretty. The company won't be able to sit back and say "be patient, you'll grow to like it." Management will need to scramble and fix it quickly in order to satisfy the unrealistic demands of shareholders.

I'm having a hard time thinking of a good reason to buy Facebook stock. Maybe it'll go up and up for the first couple days or weeks due to the newness and related enthusiasm, but over the longer run, I don't see much value in it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Didn't Lose Ground Last Week (Bike vs. Car Update)

I had a combination of good things happen last week so that the bicycling deficit remained about the same.

First off, I only worked Monday through Thursday, so the horrible Friday commute home was avoided. Secondly, I went on a nice 2-hour ride on Saturday, which was more time than I have typically been able to ride (Thank you, early sunrises! Curse you, daylight savings and "springing ahead!").

I remain about 25.2 hours short in my bike riding > car commuting resolution. If I can keep the deficit to 28 hours for the month, I believe I'll be in good shape. Even if it stayes under 30 hours, that ought to be good, too.

However, this week is more of a challenge, as I am scheduled to work all five workdays this week, and all that implies.

But also I can look forward to a good long ride on Sunday, providing there's no snow or freezing rain in the forecast, as two daughters are scheduled for a three-hour youth group meeting on Sunday afternoon. This means I can drop them off and go out for close to three hours on a bike ride. I am pretty sure this will happen, as my planned century ride is less than two weeks away and I am framing next Sunday as my final long ride in preparation of this event.

So maybe this week won't be as dire as I originally was anticipating. Plus the century ride will probably be about six or seven hours of riding, which is four or five hours more than I normally do on a weekend. Things are looking good...

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The dream I has last night, it was Nuts!

I dreamed last night I was attending a conference, and the speaker picked me as a volunteer so he could show the whole crowd how easy it was to access anyone's entire medical history. He gave me an iPad to use and enter my name and PIN number, and I entered the wrong PIN number over and over because I didn't want the audience to know that I had neuticles.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tank 313-4 April 2K12 (Plus a Sneaky Morning Bike Ride)

So this morning I refueled the Mighty Corolla at a Fas Mart, but not the convenient one near my house.
I went to the Fas Mart by the library.

Gas there was $3.859 per gallon, and I put 10.954 gallons in the tank after going 428.3 miles. So my mileage was a good 39.10 mpg.

Today was unusual in that I had the grand opportunity to drive one daughter to school today. Because of that, I could sleep in a little bit and also go out on a morning ride in the neighborhood. I only went about twelve miles, but every little bit helps as I press towards my goal of riding my bike more than I commute to and from work in my car.

I have ridden my bike just over 1,000 miles so far for the year. In contrast, I have driven my car over 5,000 miles during this same time. Perhaps years from now I can make it a resolution to ride my bike for more miles than I commute in my car, or drive overall. But that's another problem for another time.
Indeed, the circumstances that required me to drive my daughter to school this morning also compelled me to leave to go home from work early yesterday, so my commute time yesterday was a speedy 38 minutes.

And then this morning during my normal commute time, an HUGE accident slowed everybody down to a crawl. Coworkers who normally arrived with a 30 minute commute took an hour and ten minutes to get to work today. Due to my daughter's efforts, my commitment to drive her to school allowed me to avoid that nightmare. I drove to work at the tail end of the hysteria and my trip was only about ten minutes slower than normal.
So that's nice.

So we're five days into April and I'm a little more than 25 hours short on the bike time. There are three more commute trips in my work week, then three days off for a weekend. Heading into next week I ought to maintain this gap if not gain on it a little.

And as I look forward to the 100-mile ride I signed up for on the 21st of this month, my confidence in meeting my annual goal is rising. Now I can look forward to the office move in September, hoping it happens sooner, and cursing every day that it is delayed because the hope I have for achieving my goal hinges on the office move happening in September.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time to Relax!

Yesterday afternoon I got home from work and felt compelled to get some bike riding time in so that I didn't fall behind any more on my resolution to ride my bike more than commute in my car this year.

I have used a trick before of asking one of my daughters to come along with me to the library to drop off and/or pick up some reserved items from there. So as I drove home I called home, and planted the seed that I wanted to ride bikes to the library.

When I got home, the daughter who normally rides with me wasn't full of energy, but she got ready after dinner and off we went on the epic 5-mile round trip.

She was quickly riding slower than normal. I asked if she was okay and she reported she didn't feel well. "Are you nauseous?" I asked, and she said no. So we pressed on at a meandering pace.

Normally we can get to the library together in 14 or 15 minutes, but it was a full 20 minutes before we arrived.

As we walked in, I say my long-time friend Geoff! I haven't seen him in close to two years, so I was totally thrilled at seeing him! We caught up and learned that each of us is doing better now than we were a few years ago, as the waves of turmoil that caused discomfort had calmed substantially and life seemed more in order. We talked about mutual friends. He gave me a Craig Biggio baseball card.

As we stood there and visited, my daughter became bored, of course, so we eventually finished our visit and I checked out the movie that was waiting for us there at the library.

And then on our ride home, my daughter was a little peppier and we had a little race where she took the shortcut road and I took the long way (maybe 100 yards longer) to see who got to the end of the intersection first. So her trip back was more pleasant than her trip there, we both had fun, and I got a little nice bike ride in as well as got to spend some time with my daughter, and a visit with a friend to top it off!

And this morning when I went to the library's website, I notices that the librarian must have glitched it up, as my account still shows that my movie is still there, waiting for me to pick it up.

Is it ironic that the movie that wasn't checked out correctly is the stoner comedy "Your Highness"?