February 18, 2009

The Mental Barrier of Riding at Night

I don't mind riding at night in the neighborhoods of the south hill, or even downtown so much, but my commute home in the dark has always given me pause.  Getting to Hangman Valley Road requires me to ride down the 195 or Hatch hill.  I still do it, but have taken steps to feel more secure.  First, my life insurance is up to date with the monthly payment paid electronically and automatically every month.  Second, got a Tri newt LED light that looks to be about as bright as a headlight.  Third, and most recently, I bought a new jacket:


Normally all those squiggly white lines look black.  They only look bright when a bright light or flash shines on them.  Illumi-nite is the brand and, lucky for me, they make an xxl size that is actually long, not just wide.  Beyond the reflectors, which may make some people cringe, it's a pretty solid jacket.  There's a nice zippered back pocket and armpit vents--which is good for me because I tend to sweat even if it's only 25 degrees out.  It is thick enough that with a thin synthetic shirt underneath, I'm comfortable.

As you know if you live in Spokane, the days are pretty short come November and don't really start to lengthen much until March.  I usually ride on the 195 on the way downtown to work since I only have to turn right off of Hatch and don't cross any major intersections on 195.  Then I turn on Inland Empire Way and feel just fine.  And in the morning, the sun is usually on its way up anyway while I'm making my way to work.

I remember a couple years back, when I still lived up on the hill, driving up Hatch hill at night.  I saw a guy riding down with a bright LED light on his handlebars and a second light on his helmet.  I distinctly remember thinking "that guy's crazy.  Cool."  So when we moved down to our new place I knew riding my route home was reasonable.

On the way home  I usually ride up over the hill through the neighborhoods and down Hatch.  I don't like the 195 at night mainly because of the Spokane-Cheney Road intersection and the left hand turn onto Hatch.  These areas don't bother me when it's light, but in the dark I worry I won't be seen soon enough by cars speeding by at 65 mph.  Plus bombing down Hatch in the dark is shorter and it is always more enjoyable to pedal the nice quiet neighborhoods than the loud busy highway.  It is also nice that the Big Dummy has such a long wheelbase which feels really solid going down the hill.  Riding Hatch at night still has its moments--especially when drivers don't want to wait for a wider section of road to pass, but overall it is my choice for the ride home.

So, what I'm wondering is, would anyone out there prefer riding 195 to Hatch hill at night?  If so. . . really?

February 12, 2009

Warm Winter Phad Thai


Phad Thai is pretty easy to make as there are a million legitimate variations.  The recipe we like is simple and relies on some key fresh ingredients--cilantro, bean sprouts, and limes.


At this point, I'm mainly using pre mixed phad Thai sauces with a little modification.  I would like to branch out and make my own sauce.

Here is how I currently do it:

I put about 1/2 a package of Phad Thai noodles in a bowl of warm water and let them soak for at least 45 minutes.

When the noodles are soft, I get a large pan and heat up about 4 tbs of vegetable oil on high.  I throw in about 2 tbs of minced garlic and let that sizzle for a minute then I add about 1/4 pound of sliced chicken.  After that cooks for a minute I add a bunch of diced green onions.  After that cooks for a minute or two I drain the noodles and add them to the pan with two eggs and about 4 tbs of Phad Thai sauce.  I stir that up and add a few shakes of paprika.  I cook this on high stirring frequently, cooking the noodles evenly for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile , I crush 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts and chop up 1/2 cup of cilantro and slice a lime or two.  I also have about a cup of fresh bean sprouts ready.

When the noodles are nice and brown I sprinkle in about 2 tbs of sugar and stir for another minute then remove them from the heat.  Then I serve the noodles in a bowl with the bean sprouts, peanuts, and cilantro on top in whatever amount you like.  We like to periodically squeeze more lime juice on top as we eat to keep its flavor in the mix.


February 9, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I finally managed to get my hands on some studded tires big enough for the Big Dummy.  Mid winter is not the time to find deals on studs.  Seems like they are all limited production.

I'm not sure why I'm compelled to take pictures of my bike tires, but I am.



No more excuses.

I think I've just guaranteed no more snow for the rest of the winter.

February 8, 2009

Schmoopie is 11 and Kids with Cameras

Schmoopie turned 11 on Friday.  I've reached the age where I don't really like my birthday because I feel old, and I like my kids' birthdays even less because they make me feel even older.  Of course we like to celebrate their birthdays and make it a fun time.  The big gift this year was a point and shoot digital camera (Boofis got one for her birthday too).  It is amazing how fresh and creative they are with the photos they've taken.

Here is our 11 year olds' work from the last couple days.


This photo is interesting to me.  Veep likes to collect rocks, shells, and sticks from hikes and on beaches.  However, I have video of Schmoopie picking up the large rock in the upper left hand corner (the one with the round holes in it) on the rocky beach of one of my favorite breaks in Ventura when she was 1.  I remember putting the rock in my pocket after she handed it to me, thinking it was a significant stone if for no other reason than that she picked it.  I'm glad I kept it.


Lately Veep and I have worried about how she relates (or doesn't) to others.  Looking at her photos has given me great reassurance that she is aware of the world around her and has her own vision.


She has made me look at our home with greater wonder.





These are her "100 paper cranes."  On her way to 1000.


Bookshelf.  This is her desktop on her laptop.







Including other photogs in action.




Happy 11th Schmoop!

Old Snow


This afternoon was sunny with a deep blue sky.  I took a short walk up the hill by our house.  The past several weeks have not seen much in the way of new snow, and we've become accustomed to the black snow banks all around town.  A hike in the woods was reassuring that snow is still white and, even when it has thawed and frozen several times and become sandy in texture, still beautiful.


Having some quiet time in nature is good for the soul.

Question for the Blogosphere Gods

From Sal:

How do horses yawn?