Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peeing in Flip-Flops

Now that I know we are having a boy, I'm starting to think about boy-specific issues as a father-to-be. For example, I will have to teach the boy the art of peeing in a urinal while wearing flip-flops. I suppose most women readers will not know what I am talking about. I guess men that don't wear flip-flops won't either. When you wear shoes in front of a urinal, the only evidence of the fine urinal mist that splashing pee creates is the rust pattern on old metal dividers in public restrooms. But with flip-flops, you can feel it. I know- gross. Peeing on one's self isn't extremely bad, but splashing the residual pee of others is pretty undesirable. That's why, as a loving father, I'll have to know when the time is right to take my son aside and say "Son, aim for the inside edge of either side so it will swoosh around the back and make a whirlpool." That's important information and different from the technique when peeing at home. At home, it's always best to aim for the middle unless feeling particularly scientific and experimental. The bowl is deeper and so feet are safe from splashes and the center provides for the largest margin of error in case of distraction.

There are of course other issues to consider, some that are time sensitive. The most pressing issues I can think of are to circumcise or not and how to change a baby boy's diaper without getting peed on.

From the research I've done so far, it looks like circumcision is the wrong idea medically. It certainly does not sound appealing physically. I have to weigh this against the fact that we live in modern times in the U.S. and there is value in fitting in with one's time and place. Here and now, circumcision is the norm, but it sure seems like an odd thing to do to a person. Tami and I will definitely be talking through this before The Kid comes.

As for the diaper changing, I'm not certain there is a trick, but there must be. I've heard how boy babies can pee up on to the person changing the diaper. With so many thousands of years behind us, surely someone has figured out a fool proof trick to counter this phenomena.

Those are two issue for my wife and I to consider and discuss between now and December 17th-ish. Feel free to comment if you can think of others, have an opinion on the above, or know the trick to changing a baby boy's diaper.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lying Around

It's odd being a useless member of a sleeping team. I use to be a helpful partner to my teammate with an arm here to rest a head, an arm there to warm, a leg over there to prop up a foot, a body as a barricade against my partner falling off of the last three inches of bed that I am left defending.

But all that has changed with pregnancy. My wife's body is morphing and along with that comes discomforts. Discomforts that are apparently reduced, according to what she heard and now practices, with the aid of approximately 100,000 pillows propping and shoring her up from every direction. Ever seen a large ship hoisted above water in dry dock? I'm afraid to get too close less I knock a critical support and send my wife and unborn child toppling down. I'm especially concerned now that I used a large ship to represent my pregnant wife in that analogy. I'm not sure our marriage would withstand both that analogy and a toppling.

Steering for safer ground.... One of the goals in raising our child environmentally responsible is to try and acquire most of the various kid stuff we will need as used items. To this end, a special thank you to Stephanie for the entire car load worth of kid stuff and maternity clothes (a less considerate, but more funny, husband would have said ship siding) she passed on to us while I was on the road. So much stuff; swings, changing pad, infant car seat/stroller, bath, decorations, play mat, bedding, and more. I didn't know what a boppy was before Stephanie gave us one but I am now very familiar as it has already been put to use in the dry dock. See picture above for one way to use a boppy. I don't know what else we will need but I can not imagine there is that much more. As much as possible we'll try and find those items used, organic, non-plastic, sustainable, and with minimal materials. Surely it will start to rush by closer to the day, for now there is plenty of time to find out what we will need and to acquire it all.

I told myself I would not buy The Kid anything until December but I did crack and bought The Kid an organic cotton A's baseball onesie. Tami tells me The Kid loves it. Some couples fight over what culture, discipline practices, or religion to raise a child with. Tami says we'll get through it all so long as I agree to let her raise The Kid an A's fan.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Name The Kid "Contest"

That's right, you can name our kid. Just click on the Name our Kid link on the left and you are on your way to winning. You can also see what names have already been submitted by clicking on the Suggested Names link.

The Grand Prize winner receives the knowledge that she/he named a human! How cool is that? Cooler than naming a stuffed animal, to be sure.

For now you can suggest names for a boy and/or a girl. We'll post with The Kid's gender as soon as we know, late in July.

Post as many names as you like, as often as you like.

Looking forward to reading your suggestions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 26- Phoenix, AZ

My ego and my logical mind got into a bit of an argument today. Not a long fight, my logical mind won but then my ego locked itself up in it's room and started moping. When the ego came back out, we all made an agreement.

My recovery is not going as quickly as I had hoped and I was not able to leave this morning. In the afternoon my cousin Anthony went with me to get the bike and he followed me back to my Nina's. It was obvious to me that, while I was okay on that short ride, I am still a little too fatigued to ride home if I intend to be smart about this. Other than a headache, a desire to sleep a lot, and a little weakness, I am mostly recovered. My mind feels clear. But physically, I just don't feel as good as I should be.

So, the ego and the logic came to an agreement. My bike stays here with my Nino to guard it, the ride takes a break, and I fly home tomorrow. After several birthdays, a wedding, a fourth wedding anniversary, some recovery time, etc., I'll fly back out here to finish the ride. So Day 27 of the ride will take place in an unknown number of weeks.

The Atlantic Ocean will stay with the bike as I think that is really part of the ride and not just my movement. As for the adventure, that continues with me always. Even this experience enriches it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 25- Phoenix, AZ

For those of you that may worry, let me start by saying that I am totally fine. I didn't feel well when I was riding this morning so I pulled over. I am fine. I was suffering from dehydration. So, I'm going to stay with Nina and Nino at least another day in Phoenix, even though I am fine now. Now that you know I am fine...

I got my first ride in an ambulance today. Wow, was I out of it. I pulled over feeling a little dizzy, a little faint, a little like I could throw up, a little shaky, it was a little harder to breath. I felt horrible. I was only about 30 miles from Nina's house. I went in to a Jack in the Box, asked for a cup of water and just sat there trying to calm myself. My heart rate was up and I was feeling a bit nervous and very weird. After a while and feeling no better I asked a guy sitting near by if there was a hospital close to us. Next thing I know this really nice guy is driving me to a health clinic a few miles away. They did nothing. Eventually they called 911. Then the firefighters and the ambulance crew showed up and started hooking things up to me and asking questions. I was really not feeling well. I got oxygen and a liter of fluid through an iv bag. About half way through the bag I lifted my head in the ambulance and started to slowly come back to normal. The hospital gave me water also and ran some tests as the iv bag finished. By the time I was released from the hospital I felt normal, but a little weak. That's the crazy story.

I'm staying here an extra day to rest and drink more fluids. The doctor said I was stocked up pretty well with the bag they gave me so dehydration should not be an issue now if I maintain my fluids. I'm drinking water and orange juice now and the juice is rejuvenating. My chest now looks like a three year old's sticker book. The medical staff put stickers all over me then hooked up monitors to the stickers. All is fine with me. They checked my blood pressure, blood sugar level, and heart, all okay. Just dehydrated.

I'm feeling pretty good now. It is amazing how quickly I went from normal to out of it because of dehydration. I thought I was drinking enough but I will certainly be paying better attention to my water intake from now on.

When I do leave, tomorrow or the next day, I'm going to leave very early to beat the heat and get in to a cooler climate before the sun starts to do much. In the mean time, I'm staying hydrated and resting. Feeling better and grateful to have such a good family looking after me. Missing Tami.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 24- Phoenix, AZ

Today I was reminded, yet again, of a great fortune; a person being loved for no other reason than being born.  We don't all get this from even one person, so it's pretty nice when you get this treatment from many people.

I spent the day at my Nina and Nino's house visiting with them and my cousins, eating delicious food, and feeling like I had won the family lottery.  All I did was be born to my mother and I can just walk into this house and family is happy to see me, I am offered every comfort I could want, and I feel that I am loved unconditionally.  If this were for sale, it would be worth every dollar at any price.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 23- Tempe, AZ

I've often thought that converting an old gas station into a coffee shop would be a cool idea. Then, the covered part where the pumps use to be would make a nice outdoor seating area. Well, someone else thought it was a good idea, too. I found this cool cafe while exploring Las Cruces, New Mexico this morning. They put lots of plants and a fountain to make the outdoor seating area nice and painted angelic cartoon coffee drinkers and winged coffee beans on the outdoor ceiling. The breakfast and service was good, too.

Then, when I stopped to get water and gas in Arizona, I decided to walk around the souvenir type shop that was close by. A very friendly woman, who I think owns the place, started asking me where I was going and where I came from on the bike. Turns out she is in to riding too and she convinced me to take a different rout; getting off the interstate and taking a two lane highway, the back way, to the Phoenix area. She said things like ...."and you get to go through a tunnel...." Did you catch that "get"? That's a person that can find pleasure easily in the world. So, she totally convinced me. Turns out it was a nice road with minimal traffic and great desert scenery. A really cool bonus, the road went through Superior, Arizona. That's where my grandma, and nina and tios and tias, were brought up. How cool is that coincidence? The road wound through the copper mine area and came down into a desert area with lots of saguaro cactus. And, I got to go through a tunnel. Neat.

The adventure also gave me a chance to use my brain a bit. The kick stand on the bike is kept safely up when riding by a spring attached to a bolt under the bike. At one point on the "Old West Highway" the bolt snapped and the spring released. I tried a few methods of rigging alternate mounts for the spring but none of them were satisfactory. I settled upon using zip ties and electric tape to rig two loops (one as a safety backup) to the outside of the kickstand where they would clear the exhaust. Then, I moved my bungee net and my drying clothes from my trunk to the passenger seat where I could use one of the bungee's hooks to hold up my kickstand, safely through the loops I made, when riding. That worked. Solving puzzles can be entertaining. Until I fix it properly, I do have to manually hook and unhook the kickstand with my hand. But that's cool. It's not Fonzie cool. But it's problem solving cool.

I was planning to get here, the Phoenix area, tomorrow. Since my Nina is not expecting me until tomorrow, I decided to visit some of my old places today. First stop was the Circle K I used to work at. That place has changed inside, but it was good to see it again. Next, I decided to go see a movie on Mill Ave in Tempe and get an iced Mocha at The Coffee Plantation on Mill. I have spent so many hours at that coffee shop, read so many pages, met so many interesting people, and had so many interesting conversations over the years. There is a guy named Josh that I run into often enough there, though I am only in town every couple of years. He is a fascinating and intelligent guy. So off I went.

Ever heard that "you can't go back"? Yeah. Well, I guess the positive version is that you can and should go back if you want to practice flexibility and resilience. You know, like water in the Tao. I sure got some practice today. Turns out I am one month and one week late for the closing day of The Coffee Plantation, after 20 years in business on Mill Ave. Even the movie theater next door was closed. I can hardly believe they closed that coffee shop.

I like to get excited about things because that makes life interesting. You could just go buy a bowl of tomato cheese soup. But if you found a really good bowl, you could go beyond "that was a good tomato cheese soup" and decide "That was the Best Tomato Cheese Soup Ever!" Then, getting that soup becomes a big exciting deal and life is better for it. You may even do several road trips over the years all the way to Eugene, Oregon just to get that soup. And life is better with the adventure. And if you are smart, you share the joy with people. Then, Dan, Kim, Rachael, Nathan, Don, Tami, and others can all say "That was some pretty darn good soup we went all the way to Eugene for." See what I mean? It's just better that way. And that soup really is that good.

The only difficulty with turning like into love, is some times you have to say goodbye. Goodbye Coffee Plantation. I enjoyed you tremendously.

Making the best of my imposed Taoist wetness, I flowed on down to the nearest working theater and proceeded to laugh without reserve at the movie Hangover. If you have any time, a spare 10 bucks, no problems with either male or female nudity, and a desire to get a bunch of good laughs in, go see it. Really, it was that funny.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 22- Las Cruces, NM

Clouds are awesome. They are the invisible ocean above, made visible. They are the mood ring of the sky. How dull the sky would be without ever having clouds.

Today held many examples of cloud shapes and colors. There was a huge storm way ahead of me that caused 54 mph wind gusts, lightning, and flash floods. I was never close to the extreme weather and only got a couple of sprinkles and a good cloud show. Towards the end of daylight there was yellow, gold, and pink; a sherbet sky, pushed up against a black and grey with white highlights. Then a purple grey screen like a thin curtain with gold behind it sat still, a last effort of the storm for me to ride through. When I rode through those sprinkles, there were layered clouds above with so many shades of color. And that smell. One of my favorite nature combinations is rain in the desert. Any time will do. Today I got the sunset flavor, delicious.

Today I also ate at a proper Texas road-side restaurant. The menu was equally divided between steak, Mexican, and breakfast served all day. My server was among my favorite archetypes. Her cigarettes mingled perfectly with the smell of coffee, her name for customers is honey, and her wrinkles look great on her. She asked if I had seen rain and wished me luck getting the rest of the day dry. I love riding in the rain, but I love it more when people appear to genuinely care about strangers. When I left, she asked if I had rain gear just in case and wished me well. She made the food taste better.

Here is a numerical coincidence. This is the 22nd day of the ride and I have entered the 22nd state on the ride. For the rest, I'll be going through states I have already ridden through as part of the ride. The states have been: California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virgina, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and as a special bonus beyond the 22 states, the District of Columbia.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 21- Junction, TX

When I left New Orleans today I got a little lost working my way to the freeway entrance. I ended up in the surrounding area and towns. Wow. I'm glad I did as I got to see a bigger picture. Most of the tourist area has been repaired since the hurricane. In the surrounding area it is bad. I drove around for half an hour and saw instances where entire blocks had only one house occupied. There were so many houses and businesses boarded up. Most unoccupied homes still had spray paint near the front doors with codes on them that I could not decipher. These were done in a circle pattern with letters all around, presumably codes by and for the rescue crews. Some of the spray paint was not in code. "Gas Off" was a common note near doors. A sad one I saw in huge letters read "SPCA, DOG, DOA." How do you feel going home to that house, ready to clean up, painting over those words? Do you you feel a little good knowing the SPCA tried? There were other houses, SPCA written on them, with what I imagine were happier stories. The people I did see outside of the occupied homes looked normal chatting with each other, cars in good shape, homes painted. A great contrast to so much around them. A lot to consider. I missed all of that coming in on the freeway.

After I got on the freeway, I really settled in. Today I felt good riding and just kept going, I didn't want to stop. I went much farther than Houston which I had thought would be my stop for the night. Some days that's what it's about, riding and letting the mind wander. I crossed more than half of Texas today and I didn't once stop to get lost in a town, explore a site, visit an attraction or a museum. It's not Texas' fault, I was in a riding zone. Texas was a good friend. It gave me the road, space, and time to think without asking for anything in return. Thanks Texas. There were even fireworks at the end. I kept riding a while into the night. The smells change in the night, it's a good time to ride. With my thoughts I enjoyed the changes in vegetation over the miles, colors of the sky over the hours, and of the smells into the night. I felt very good and in my place riding today- exactly where I needed to be in the Universe.

I thought about family, Agusta, my life and death perspectives over time, being young and having crushes, being young still and loving a wife, The Kid, choosing life (this ride, looking down from Half Dome, appreciating, etc.), choosing oblivion (all those strategies I have used to numb my mind including sleep deprivation and over eating, besides the obvious like drinking), experiencing without objective versus working to achieve before a time limit, some interesting things people have said to me over the years, good lines from books, what my trip looks like from an airplane, Lucky Mud, how long it takes for the chemicals of an emotion to process through my blood, the qualities that are me and that I do not intend to change, qualities I appreciate in others but have no intention to take on, gratitude, and so many other thoughts. One thought led to another. My perspective would change on topics. My mind would come back to certain concepts. It was a long ride. The cool thing was the tone my thoughts took. The feeling was soothing, like rubbing my belly from within my mind. Eventually my mind went quiet. Then it went alert, and here I am. With a comfortably rubbed mental belly.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 20- New Orleans, LA

Since the last update, I have seen the night life of Bourbon Street. Lots of people, loud music, cops and alcohol. It wasn't out of control. In fact, I've been surprised how not crazy it has been around here considering people are just walking down the street drinking all of the time. It was very energetic, though.

I heard some very good music. I didn't like everything I heard but that is to be expected. And many places have DJs. But the live music was the most fun. Music lovers would have a good time here. For a wile I stood outside one packed jazz club, way too packed to go in to, and listened in happiness to the music coming out of the place. It was cool to watch the passersby start dancing or shimmying as they went by. There were other clubs with great live music, too. I had a good time.

Today, I'm pretty sure I walked about 1.3 million miles. Well, it was a lot of walking. New Orleans is a big place. The French Quarter, where I am staying, is a large enough area. But the city is way bigger than that. The day began with an egg Po Boy sandwich at a place that has been serving Po Boys since 1950. I didn't know they made egg Po Boys. Breakfast was followed by a walk into the business high rise area and a walk in an art museum. In the museum I got in trouble for taking a picture of a painting. So, that was fun. Then, the walk continued out to the Mississippi River where I got on the free ferry. Pedestrians are free, I think there is a charge for the cars. That's when I realized I had not stopped walking for three hours since breakfast and that if I sat just right I could keep my shirt from touching my back. But then the boat started moving and I love boats. So, I popped back up to the side of the boat to watch and enjoyed the ride. The ferry driver was very talented. I don't know if he can juggle or recite Shakespeare, but he handled a boat well. He was going fast coming in to the dock and when we were apparently way too close to the pier he did some magic where we swung around and ever so gently tapped the dock to be tied up to in perfect position. This was a big boat with cars on it. I was impressed. A little walk around and some french onion soup later, I was back on the ferry crossing to New Orleans. Then I kept walking. I guess I wanted to test my relationship with my feet. How did that test go? We're still not talking. There was a glimmer of hope when I stopped in front of a foot massage place in the shopping area. But when I decided against it I'm pretty sure I killed any chance of the three of us reconciling tonight.

Another walk through the French Quarter and a break at Cafe du Monde. That was good. There were two excellent musicians playing together on the street in front of the cafe. You can almost see them under the umbrellas in the picture. One girl played guitar and one girl played violin and they went together splendidly. A nice end to a long walk.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 19- New Orleans, LA

Until today I thought the North Carolina gas station that sold cowboy boots would be the winner for best accent experience of the trip. I'm so glad I stopped in Mobile, Alabama. Awesome accents! Close to 100% of the people in the restaurant had an accent, the highest percentage of any place I had been so far. But the accent of my server was hands down the best in the place. I lack the vocabulary to describe accents, I can't describe wine either but I know what I like. And my server, who looked normal, had what must be the accent and voice of an Alabama fairy of about 3 inches tall. Awesome. Seriously, if she was selling recordings of her reading books on tape I would have bought one. And then I got my 5 dollar food bill? What? For a full and delicious breakfast? I don't know how to tip on 5 dollars. For me, 5 dollars for food means I stopped by Del Taco for Tami and I wasn't hungry. At 5 dollars for a bill, even tipping 40% just feels cheap.

Continuing on highway 10, the bridge over the Pearl River just before I crossed the border into Louisiana from Alabama had a nice lift to it and I got to look around. Holly arbor-land batman, are these two states one giant forest?

What's that? How's the pavement? Glad you asked. I suspect the man or woman engineer responsible for leveling the surface of highway 10 a couple of miles before New Orleans enjoyed a strange fascination with trigonometry in school and had a positive love affair with the wave length of short wave radio. Driving the speed limit was downright entertaining. Like, laugh out loud entertaining. I wonder how many accidental pregnancies occur going down that road? The more I think about the road undulation frequency, I believe the frequency increases like a Geiger counter approaching Chernobyl as you get closer and finally enter down town New Orleans. It must be some clever way to let you know how close you are to town. To make a scale model of the town, cut up an old corduroy jacket or pants for the streets. Enough analogy? Okay- but you will laugh if you drive west on 10 into town starting from just after the very long bridge.

I'm staying here in the French Quarter for two days. There is just too much to see here. So far I have walked Bourbon Street, had Creole cooking for lunch, bought a mint julep from a place famous for it's hurricanes, bought a hurricane from a place I don't think is famous for anything, saw the church and square, walked into a bunch of tourist shops, and had coffee and beignets (a type of doughnut) at the famous Cafe du Monde. Looking down on the floor, tables, and chairs at Cafe du Monde one could assumed the old plaster from the ceiling is starting to fall. Looking up one would see that the ceiling is wood. Looking around one would see that the beignets are served with a cup of powder sugar on top. By the way, consider where you sit relative to the direction of the wind if you go, or wear white. I assumed I wouldn't find the coffee to be that impressive because it's been so talked up that my expectations would be too high. But, thankfully, it really was quite good and I will surely go again.

Now, time for dinner and a stroll to check out the night life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 18- Pensacola, FL

Today I got lost twice... on purpose. Once was going by Tallahassee, FL. I said to myself, "Self" I said, let's get off here and just drive a lot 'cause it's hot and we can use a break from the freeway. And we did. We (am I royalty now?) drove around for a long time. Finally, I (humbling myself a bit) settled down and had a meal. Nice town. Later I did it again. Heading west the sun was in my eyes late in the afternoon. That combined with a little tiredness and I decided I better take a break. It didn't take too long before I decided this is as far as I go today. So, I tooled around Pensacola, FL a little longer. You can see a view from town in the picture. Hours(?) later I found a Motel 6 next to a Mexican restaurant with an outdoor patio and two for one Margarita Wednesdays. Hey, today is Wednesday. That would explain the Margarita in front of me. I don't drink Margaritas. But Nicole does and tomorrow is Nicole's birthday. Happy birthday Nicole, I'm celebrating your day early.

Something else cool today is that I saw an armadillo! Why did the armadillo cross the freeway? I don't know. But at least I didn't hit it. Neither did the big rig behind me so there's a chance the armadillo is now east of highway 75.

Ohhh, another Margarita.