Remembering Rowan Jimenez

In the summer of 2016, I asked who wanted to try riding the Morro Bay Lighthouse Century with me in October (100-mile bike ride up the Pacific Coast Highway) . Rowan raised his hand and told me that the ride would mark the anniversary of his double lung transplant, and that he liked to celebrate each anniversary by doing something physically difficult — it was his way of showing that not only had he stayed alive against the odds, but that he was fully embracing life, living every experience to the max.

On Black Hill in Morro Bay with Rowan
Rowan riding up from Fairfax

Our kids had gone through elementary school together, but I’d never really gotten to know him. Over the next few months, we did a series of training rides together, all over the East Bay, plus an unforgettable climb to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in dense fog. In the course of those rides, through all kinds of weather, through intense sweat and crazy descents, I got to know Rowan and was blown away daily by his relentless joy and optimism, his profound appreciation for his lung donor, and for the second chance at life he’d been gifted. Rowan became a sort of role model for me, an example of how we all ought to be living.

After finishing the hardest part of the Morro Bay Lighthouse Century, with Rowan and Jim.

That October, we traveled to Morro Bay together and shared a hotel, then rode with another friend the next morning. Rowan wasn’t the fastest guy on the course – he was riding with the lungs of a 16-year-old girl! – but he was steady and determined, and there was never any question that he’d finish. The minute his odometer rolled over to that 100-mile mark, we stopped and high-fived each other and he let out a huge whoop of joy.

Rowan on Mt. Tam

When I heard the news today that Rowan had passed, I broke down in my wife’s arms. This cruel world has taken one of our brightest beacons. I’ll remember you forever Rowan – thanks for sharing that incredible adventure with me, and for sharing your bounty of optimism with all of us.

Rowan on one of our training rides

Aunt Gerry, Reading MAD Magazine

Enjoying all of the nostalgia around MAD Magazine, and the bummer of it closing down last week. In a weird way, I learned a lot about the world around me as a young teen reading MAD (including how to disco dance by kicking your feet up in the air above your head, which I actually did at my first dance, thanks MAD!) Anyway, this was my dear Aunt Gerry, reading issue 79 (June 1963) at the hairdresser. Family heirloom.

Regress

Fun fact: Jimmy Carter got the U.S. started on conversion to the metric system, but didn’t have time to finish. Then Reagan came along and pulled the plug on us matching the rest of the world in sensible measurements. We coulda been there by now. Carter also installed solar panels on the white house, then Reagan moved in and pulled ’em off. Progress vs. regress, ’twas ever thus.

Someone else’s tweet: “All our refusal to adopt the metric system has done is make our products more expensive at home and massively less desirable in foreign countries. But yeah, let’s keep measuring shit by how many barley-corns can fit on the King’s finger. For freedom. “

At least our currency system is metric.

Chernobyl

The one thing an OFF button should never do is make things worse. But the boron control rods designed to regulate the nuclear reaction in Soviet RNKB reactors had a fatal flow – to save money, they were tipped with graphite rather than boron. Under certain insane conditions, when all water is already removed, this has the effect of briefly mushrooming heat levels, leading to catastrophic failure. But why had the water been removed at Chernobyl? Because a party apparatchik was obsessed with completing a test to earn a commendation. And because some of the plant operators were barely trained.

Technical flaw combined with human hubris combined with penny pinching. Anyway, CHERNOBYL on HBO is now over, but will remain available forever. Everything this graphic says is true. Don’t look for a pro- or anti-nuke docudrama — it’s not that. Just one of the most important true stories of the last century. So good.

Morro Bay Lighthouse Century

A summer of hard bicycle training finally paid off! I had done several metric century (65 mile) rides over the past decade, but both of my previous full century attempts had been thwarted. Two years ago, I overtrained and developed a tendon problem behind the knee that could have resulted in serious/permanent damage if I had pressed on. Then the next year, an illness in the family resulted in a logistical problem that forced me to do yet another metric.

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This year, I wasn’t going to be stopped. Started serious training in the spring, ramping up slowly from 25 miles to 40, then 65, then a couple of 75 mile days toward the end of summer. Also focused on elevation, tackling both Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo in August and September.

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Started to learn more about the importance of sodium and electrolyte replacement too, trying half of the ride supplement packets on the market. And I introduced a weekly time trial into the mix, doing exactly the same 8-mile, 1000-ft sprint after work twice a week.

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Continue reading “Morro Bay Lighthouse Century”

Sheldon the Corn Snake

We raised a gorgeous orange/yellow corn snake up from a 6″ pup to a 4′ adult reptile in about three years. Sheldon, named after the character from The Big Bang Theory, became a reliable companion in our family, coming out occasionally to wander through our fingers, and often to consume mice and rats. We’ve let him move on to another family now, but he’ll always have a warm place in our hearts for our cold-blooded friend!

More images in the Flickr Set

Notes on Organizing Digital Image Collections

I’ve spent the past few months going through and organizing my entire iPhoto -> Photos.app collection. It’s been a tedious but wonderful process. I’ve come to a few conclusions:

Snoopy mud flats

  • Everyone is sitting on tens of thousands of digital images.
  • No one can find a damn thing in that giant pile.
  • If you can’t find it five or ten years from now you may as well have not taken it in the first place.
  • The time to deal with your images is the day you shot them.
  • Delete the duds. Bad exposure. Out of focus. Not the best of the set. Delete delete delete. Delete heaps and you’ll still have more keepers than you’ll ever be able to enjoy. Don’t be a hoarder.
  • For the keepers, the key is findability.
    • Image titles. Album titles. Faces. Keywords. Doesn’t matter. Just make sure one or more keyword exists for search.
    • When adding titles, imagine a future version of yourself searching for this image.
  • Be disciplined. The longer you wait, the more daunting the task.
  • Chip away. Do it now.