Sunday, January 31, 2016

Gym, Food and Weather

Friday we had a somewhat decent sunset.  This has been the winter of the puny sunset.

Yesterday I went to a one hour orientation at LA Fitness.  I was expecting to walk through the gym and have the equipment names given to me and find out where the locker room was.  No, no.  It ended up being a 30 minute leg workout.  Today I am crippled.  Can't wait for the push and pull upper body workouts.  It'll all be broken.  We signed up for personal training - it's faster than figuring it out ourselves.

We went to the Rillito Downs farmers's market this morning with Don and Jamie.  They have really enlarged the number of stands over the last time we were there.  We got eggs from chickens who live in Wilcox out on the farm, squash and sprouts.  Next time I think we'll take a cold bag and ice.  There is a guy there with salmon from Alaska (frozen) and there are free range chickens (also frozen).  I'm going to be interested to see if the free range eggs are different from the factory farmed ones.  Perhaps there will be a blind taste test.  No wait, I can't cook them with my eyes closed.

Part of the covered arcade.

Pickles, marmalades, and sauces.  She had a really nice display of merchandise.

There is always a food truck.

These people were handing out leaflets about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  I personally think the TPP will be the final nail in the American coffin.  I do not understand the level of support for this trade agreement.  Elizabeth Warren is against this.  I wish she would run for president, I like her.  Ok, end politics.

Now we're under a high wind warning.  It's been building all afternoon and it is now just hooting.  It's been pushing the bus around and rattling the slide toppers.  The next couple of days will be wet and not very warm.  Poor us.  Still better than the mid west.

And look - another nice sunset.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jim is Wearing Two Shoes

Greetings Earthlings!  Long time, no post.  Jim has transitioned out of the boot.  Here we have the indoor boot and the outdoor boot.  We saw the surgeon Wednesday, he was his usual laconic self.  He said Jim could transition out of the boot over the next one day to three weeks.  We got home and Jim put on his other shoe - transition done!  The down side of the visit was the surgeon telling us no road bike until May. Apparently it's not the stress of pedaling, but the possible disaster of having to put the foot down hard in a crash.  So, there is no biking for him. 

 We've talked about getting a recumbent trike (difficult to fall off), but it would have to live outside.  Our neighbors to the north are once again scaling the fences and stealing bikes, so one wonders how long until it would be gone.  They're actually quite expensive.  I think we'll probably troll a few pawn shops and maybe the Tanque Verde swap meet; maybe we'll find something cheap.

Here is Jim hugging Don the day after the boot came off.  We were out on Jims' first walk.

Don is quite the accomplished wood worker.  He made this for me in the wood shop.  It's spalted maple and it is just lovely. 

Today we had an outing.  We drove by this ghost bike.  It's not a great picture, moving car and shooting into the sun, but you can see how his family still tends to his memorial.  The gentleman killed here was on his way to work a couple of years ago.

We went over to Lazy Days to look at RVs.  It was good walking for Jim, with a few stairs thrown in. Jim is pointing at an Entegra Anthem.  It's about a half million dollars.  For that sum of money you get a huge bathroom.  What you do not get is very much storage, anywhere to put groceries, and decent furniture.  The couches are just intolerably uncomfortable.  It's really depressing.  One wonders how long we can drive our current RV, and I have to tell you we are not seeing anything out there that approaches the amount of storage we currently have.  Despite our home's idiosyncracies, it's still better than what we're seeing on the market.  I do not understand the current need for a gigantic full bath in the back, and a mid-ship half bath.  How much time are we spending in the bathroom?  I'd rather have that space for storage and living.

They're very tall and slightly sinister looking from the back.

We've signed up for a few months at LA Fitness.  Jim can treadmill and stationary bike and I can stair master and we can both lift some weights.  I'm riding some, there was a group ride today of about 24 miles.  I'm so out of shape, it's just sad.  It's not just the lack of quads, it's all the supporting structure that one loses, like the back and the triceps and all of that.  Jim's return to riding will be way worse when the day comes.
That's what's happening in the Old Pueblo for us.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday morning we spent a couple of hours watching the Weather Channel.  That was the most amazing storm.  I used to live in northern Virginia, and ANY snow would completely shut down the area.  I can't imagine how long it's going to take for them to recover from this.  One of the things that would happen in the neighborhoods was that the driveway would be shoveled by the homeowner, and then the plow would come through and pile up all the snow back into the base of the driveway.  It was very aggravating.  I hated shoveling snow.

Fortunately we are here, and not there.  Yesterday Tucson was in to the low 80's.  It was just a glorious day.  Jim got my bike out for me and pumped the tires.  It's good to have my soigneur back on duty.

I did a short climbing ride with Jim in the area with the truck.  It's good to have a mobile soigneur if there is a flat tire.

Out on McCain Loop.  It's a very pleasant ride, it's a beautiful part of the Tucson Mountain Park.

Other than some short rides, I have zippity doo-dah to report.  It's going to take forever to get back in shape.  Any time the road points up, the mph start dropping.
Jim and I have been flirting with the edge of the Slough of Despond.   The inactivity is driving us nuts.  Then we see RVs with new wheel chair ramps,  people who have had strokes and we remind ourselves that it could be so much worse and that we should just buck up.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bertha Update

As you all recall, Seattle is engaged in a deep bore tunnel project, that is now two years behind schedule.  Bertha (the tunneling machine) originally advanced 1,000 feet, then over heated and threw up in her socks.  After digging a massive rescue pit, de-watering the area which caused foundations in the adjacent areas to crack, rebuilding the cutter head, and etc. etc., Bertha was ready to travel once more.  In early January she was on her way.  As she drills, Bertha excavates dirt, adds material to to the spoil so it will have a consistency of toothpaste, and then it is fed onto barges.  Here are the latest updates from Seattle Tunnel Partners.  In the updates they use the word "mining" instead of drilling or digging.

January12, 2016
One of the barges Seattle Tunnel Partners is using to haul away excavated material began to list or lean to one side as STP crews loaded it early Tuesday.
To prevent damage to the conveyor system, STP released the barge from its moorage at Terminal 46. Some excavated clean soils were spilled into Elliott Bay. The barge then drifted into nearby Pier 48, which is owned by WSDOT and slated for demolition. 
The barge has since been moved to the west end of Terminal 46. STP crews are working to transfer the material on the barge to another barge. STP is inspecting Terminal 46 and Pier 48 to determine if any damage occurred.
Tunnel excavation is temporarily on hold as STP addresses this issue. We’ll provide additional updates as we receive new information.
January 13, 2016
Seattle Tunnel Partners resumed mining Tuesday evening, using trucks to remove excavated material while they continued working to resolve an issue with a soil-removal barge. STP crews resumed excavation at 7 p.m. Tuesday. 
Approximately two hours later, a sinkhole developed within STP’s work zone near South Main Street, about 35 feet north of the access pit. It is located more than 100 feet south of the cutterhead's current location, in ground that crews mined through last week. STP filled the sinkhole overnight with 250 cubic yards of concrete.
This section of the tunnel drive is protected by an underground wall built by STP before tunneling. The wall was designed to isolate ground movement and protect the nearby Alaskan Way Viaduct. A manual survey of the viaduct conducted after the sinkhole developed found no movement. WSDOT and STP will continue surveying and monitoring the ground, viaduct, utilities and other structures.
The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation. STP is analyzing the portion of the tunnel that crews have excavated since mining resumed. There is no indication that any other locations have experienced ground loss.
Governor Inslee has put a hold on drilling until the cause of the sinkhole is determined.

So, to recap, in two days we lost a barge, rammed some piers and caused a sinkhole after traveling about 30 feet.  What is so disturbing, is that the sinkhole could have appeared under the viaduct, the elevated highway in the photo.  Seattle is planning to shut the viaduct down for two weeks as Bertha tunnels underneath.  I think this is a really good idea for the safety of the motoring public.  I am so glad we sold the West Seattle house, after the Nisqually earthquake in 2002, they closed the viaduct.  We couldn't leave home due to the traffic caused by the closure.

Here is a better shot of the rescue pit which I screen-scraped from a Bloomberg article.  The Bloomberg piece is interesting in that it continues the myth that removing the viaduct will "open up" the water front.  One hates to point out that the water front is entirely built up and the best place to see the water is from the viaduct, or some other elevated place.

So, here is your Bertha update for the new year.  I will close my tale of tunneling woe with a hummingbird to lighten the mood.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hummingbirds and the Achilles

Yesterday morning was warm enough to sit out and ogle the hummingbirds.  Warm enough with sweatshirts and fleece vests and a hat, but we'll take what we can get.  As more people move in to the RV park, more feeders go up.  I think we're not getting as many birds as we used to.  The good news is that the feeder our new neighbor uses is better for the woodpeckers, so we're not having to chase them off anymore.
This was interesting to watch.  When he was through drinking, he backed off the feeder and out of the area.

Sometimes they like to just sit on the perch. 

Today is the last day of Jim's crutch.  It's a mixed blessing, the unequal leg length caused by the height of the boot's sole causes a lot of extraneous discomfort in the back and hips.  I don't know why the boots have to be that tall.  There are two more weeks of boot followed by a visit to the surgeon; and then I think he gets to wear shoes.  Given that Jim's surgeon only tells us what will happen between the current visit and the next, we have no idea what the next stage is.  February 19 is the 14th week post surgery, which is when more strenuous PT can begin.  Getting rid of the boot will be good because then we can go in the pool and dog paddle.
That's it!  We are so boring I can't stand it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Post Rain Photos

After a big rain, we like to go see if the washes are running.  The Santa Cruz was not, but the Rillito had pretty good flow.  There is so much vegetation in the river, it's difficult to tell just how much water there really is.  For that, you must drive over to El Camino de la Tierra.
We parked at the crime scene tape and walked down to look at the water.  It's impressive.  Oh look - it's Jim, walking.

This is running over a city street.

This is the upstream view.

It always amazes me that a river running over a road exists in the city limits.  Since River Road already has a bridge in place, there's nothing to be done for it.  

There was still snow. See all of those little white tents at the bottom of the photo?  The gem show is coming.  It just makes traffic intolerable for three weeks.  Yes, I know, it brings gazillions of dollars to the city, but it makes getting around difficult.

There was also walking yesterday in the cold.  This dog is amazing.  He's always out and he never utters a sound.  Some of the dogs in the park really need to be sent to school on not barking.  In my humble opinion if you're going to live in these close quarters, you should train your dog not to bark and lunge at people.

I took this with Jim's cell phone.  It was a fairly impressive display last night, after a day of rain, hail and possibly graupel. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rain in the Old Pueblo

I have to tell you, El Nino winters are just the worst.  Wet and cold.  It's enough to make a person ask for a snowbird rebate.  The storm that hit San Diego yesterday is in Tucson today, minus the tornado.  Downpour does not adequately describe parts of it.  Anyway, we're in the low end of the park near the drains which are proving to be inadequate.
This is one street over from us.  Notice the picnic table.  It's on top of a concrete slab that is 4 inches tall; and I think about 4 inches of the table legs are also under water.

This is the end of our street.  The drain is completely overwhelmed.  They're running sump pumps, and one wonders where they are sending that water.

Here is more of our street with a hummingbird.

There is snow.  I took this through the RV windshield, which is covered in water, so it's a terrible picture, but look at the mountains beyond the palm tree.  Snow!

Every time it rains in Tucson, this happens.  Not all streets have storm drains.  When I lived here in the late 70s, early 80s, it was way worse, but some streets are still dished to carry water.  Every time it rains, people drive into the deep water and get stuck.  According to the news, there are two people and a dog in that car, awaiting rescue.  As I mentioned last February, Tucson has a stupid motorist law, and you get fined it you drive stupid and require rescue.

So that's it - weather is all I have to report today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Fifth Day of the New Year

Greetings Earthlings.  How is your new year progressing?  To date no serious disasters have befallen us.  We have been disappointed to learn that our neighbors to the left from last year are not returning to their previous site this winter.  They shifted up four sites hoping for a little less slope under the front wheels.  We will miss them, they were quite congenial.  In the good news, the Class A that was across from us departed.  Its windshield was perfectly shaped to reflect sunlight into our bus, blinding us for the better part of the day.  One hopes for a travel trailer or 5th wheel to come there next, so that we don't spend the entire winter with the front curtains pulled.
It should be obvious by now that I have zippity doo-dah all to report.  However, I feel compelled to post something, so I am not forgotten.
Here is a late afternoon photo from the Tucson Mountain park.  It is just so lovely out there.

And here is the current bane of our RV existence.  The item upper left is the left side of the ice maker.  The item about mid-photo is the icicle being formed by the leak in the ice maker.  It's still producing ice very well, so we've decided not to do anything about this.  Replacing the ice maker requires taking the refrigerator out, and that is not good for it.  Each time it comes out, the doors seal less well.  So, for now, we'll just break off the icicle on a daily basis. 

Jim has eight more days of crutches.  Then he has two more weeks of the boot.  Once he's back in two shoes, we can return the knee cart and get my bike out of storage.  Woot!  It was a really good decision to not have the cart and the bike in the bed of the truck.  Jim stomped on the brakes the other day and the cart launched itself the length of the truck bed.  That would have left a mark on my bike and that would have made me sad.
It's supposed to rain for the next three days.  Then it will be better.  El Nino winters are just the pits.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy Deadliest Day of the Year

Well Happy New Year to you all.  It's a glorious day in the Old Pueblo.  We were able to sit outside this morning and ogle the hummingbirds.
Jim is down to one crutch and putting more weight on his left foot.  This has improved life substantially.  He's able to carry stuff in one hand, and more importantly, he can do dishes. Yay!!!!!!!!!!  It's still a long haul until he's back on the bike, but progress is being made.
I read a very interesting article in the Washington Post this morning.  They give you 10 free articles a month, so you can decide if you're interested enough to use up one of your freebies.  The article can be found here.  The substance of the article is this.
A few years ago, a sociology professor named David Phillips examined 57 million death certificates issued between 1979 and 2004 and made an interesting finding: Not only do more people die in the winter months, but New Year's Day is actually the deadliest day of all. Phillips plotted the millions of deaths from natural causes according to the day of year on which they occurred, and this is what he ended up with:

So, if we can make it through today, things will be looking up, actuarially.

Here is a picture of the female hummer leaping off the perch, avoiding the wrath of the dominant male hummer.

That's it, that's all I've got for today.