Archive for the ‘bicycles’ Category

Love for the Ebike

Monday, October 5th, 2015

A few months ago I had my bike converted to an ebike. After waiting and saving my money for a number of years, I finally made the jump. I wish I had borrowed the money and done it years ago.

This conversion has changed my bicycling world. It turns out I had a lot more anxiety about biking than I knew. This may have been related to a previously undiagnosed genetic heart defect. I had a great bike, could make it up most hills with some effort, and enjoyed using it as much as possible. But the ease and comfort and hill climbing ability of the converted bike is just stunning. And thrilling. And exciting. And fun. And so very easy.

I have a version with a nice small but effective lithium battery. It is 350 watts, and 10 amp hourly load. Am I saying that right? About a 15 mile range when you are not pedaling, and it can power the bike to just over 20 MPH on a flat with no pedaling. My first charge was after about 35 miles, I did pedal nearly the whole time. And was mostly cruising around at about 14 MPH most times I checked.

The version I have has “pedal assist” technology, which is much more effective and wonderful that I ever imagined possible. When you start to pedal, the motor turns on, and then you can choose a 1-5 level of assist – from a little to a lot. Mostly then I leave the gearing set to pretty hard, and so when I do pedal I’m going much faster than I would be without the assist. The whole assist thing can be turned off, but then you also don’t have access to the throttle.

The throttle is also there, so at any time you can rev up the motor and in a burst or slow gain have more power added to your pedaling or stop pedaling altogether. I was surprised to find out that one of the ways I use the throttle the most is to make my starts smoother. If I am at a full stop, and crank the pedals around so I can start with my right foot (I just can’t do it with the left) a little throttle added makes the transition to get the bike going much easier. Especially when at a full stop going up hill. This maneuver has often caused me to nearly fall over or at least look really awkward.

I hadn’t realized how much space in my brain was being taken up with thinking of hills, planning on hills, preparing to charge hills, and worrying about making it up hills. Maybe because I’m older. Maybe because of the heart condition. But now, all of that is over.

I also have found that the ability to pick up speed makes it safer to ride with traffic. I have more options, and also more maneuverability. That keeps me safer.

Nearly all of my in city small errands or travel trips have now been by bike, so my car sits out even more than before. Once I get my trailer working I’ll need the car even less. Because I can go further, carry more weight, and enjoy the convenience of being on bike. I just need the car for bad weather, if I’m taking the dog, and for awkward purchases. Even though it’s close, carrying home a bale of straw by bike wasn’t doable. But I’ll work on that.

jim heh bike

This is Jim, who owns Human Electric Hybrids and he did the conversion. I found his work to be excellent, he made it convenient for me, followed up when I asked questions, and just provided excellent service in every respect. I love his passion for the bikes, and the extras that he did – putting on my old bike rack, adding a kickstand, and his care in all the wiring and whatnot associated with the conversion.

Everyone who has tried out the bike returns with a smile on their face. I’ve been biking enough extra now that it has become clear I need a new seat. That’s great! I don’t know how much of a winter rider I’ll be – but I hope for many days of riding in the next few months.

I do love my ebike, and can imagine it will be welcomed by aging bikers like myself as well as anyone who wants to make biking safer and more enjoyable. Especially as the price comes down – the only real downside to this adventure. But so far worth every penny.

My Cars

Friday, July 11th, 2014

I was just at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show downtown. Many of the same cars come every year, but it is still fun to look at the older cars and think about this “car culture” that includes old beaten up hunks and the muscle car hot rods and the very expensive very sleek models.

i like the old cars, I liked seeing four electric cars sitting together – a brand new Tesla, a Citicar from the 70’s and two Detroit Electric cars from around 1920. A Volt would have been a good addition to those four.

I love seeing the old VW’s, probably because my first car was a 1965 VW Bug.

i like functional cars, so the very old trucks and cars with built in campers, the Jeeps and Land Rovers that look like they have been to Africa and back are also fun.

i learned to drive with a 1965 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon. Once I got the hang of the shift, I could drive the 1969 Red VW Squareback that we got in Germany. Both cars were what my parents had in 1975 when I was practicing for the drivers test. But I got my license the morning of my 16th birthday driving my boyfriends parents green Plymouth sedan – we didn’t think my parents’ cars would pass the car part of the inspection.

A year or so later my dad got a huge Ford truck. In the 70’s cars were still mostly small. No minivans, only a few other pick up trucks. When I drove the truck I was above all of the traffic. And it had this powerful engine with a passing gear that was awesome. I drove that truck a lot.

As I was leaving home the got a Dodge Colt, a little blue thing that was pretty cheaply made. I set them up with a relatively new Datsun that a friend was selling before moving to Australia. That was a really nice car.

On my own, I biked or walked almost everywhere. I sometimes would borrow my parent’s car for a longer trip but it was a hassle to go and get it. I didn’t own my first car until 1981. I cashed in my penny collection (a bit over $200) and sold my waterbed (another $200) and bought a dark blue 1965 VW Bug. It was great fun and worth every penny I paid for it. I called it Grover.

Eventually it began to cost a lot to repair, so I sold it for $200 and bought a 1971 Volvo from a family friend for $1,000 that seemed far safer. It was an automatic, which I didn’t like, but it did well for a couple of years until I sold it for $400 in about 1983. I found another 1965 VW that was in far better condition and had had some things like new seats put in. I drove that until 1987.

At that point I wanted something for hauling stuff and building, and I got a brand new Mazda B200 pick up truck. It was silver, and new, and seemed pretty amazing. I loved having a new vehicle and I loved having a truck. In 1995 I inherited some money and also a sudden fear of that truck. It didn’t ave any safety features, including no head rests. I got another new truck, a 1995 Ford Ranger with an extended cab. It was purple, is was roomy, and that thing hauled all sorts of stuff for myself and for friends and for family.

I became very interested in cars that were different. I wanted an electric car but the pricing made that impossible. I saw a smart car and fell in love. Since I don’t drive much it seemed perfect as a little city car, but with four airbags it would also be the safest car I’d ever owned, and the gas mileage was great. I had to wait a year before one was available, but in November of 2008 I brought one home.

I tried to keep my truck for the next year or so, but it was getting old and expensive and there was no place to put it. I had to keep leaving it with other people. So I finally gave up and was happy that a friend wanted it for his son. I got to borrow it back a few times over the years, and that was fun.

That’s it. Just 6 cars in all those years.
I’ve had as many bicycles. I started with a tiny green thing with training wheels when I was about 5, and soon got a gold “real” bike. I’m thinking it was a 3 speed Robin Hood, but I’m not sure if that is right.

So that lasted from about age 6 or 7 until I was in Junior High. I didn’t ride much the next few years, but when I moved away from home in 1977 I got a really nice Motobecan that lasted until 1995. I gave it away to a guy who had just moved here from Honduras. I got a purple Bianchi then, and loved it until just last fall when everything seemed to fail at the same time.

I was lucky to be gifted with a great Canondale that is so far better than any bike I had before, it is a real pleasure to ride. So I’ve been pretty easy on the bikes as well. Most have lasted a very long time.

I hope I am now set for the foreseeable future. Bike and car paid for, reliable, and in good shape.

Yellow Soup and Ann Arbor Pedestrian Safety Task Force

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I arranged a social gathering for the newly appointed Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force. Our first Meeting will not take place until the end of March, and that seemed to long to wait to get to know some of the people I’ll be working with. And a social event seemed to be a great way to break the ice (Ann Arbor is very much in need of ice breaking in every way possible, especially the ice on the sidewalks to help pedestrians be safer). Social events are also allowed under the Open Meetings Act, so I didn’t have to invite the whole city to join us.
Five task force members were able to make it, as well as two spouses/partners and one of the young kids of a member.
I planned a simple meal – soup and bread. Here is the soup recipe which turned out better than I expected. It is an idea adapted from A book written by Francis Moore Lappe’s daughter, I can’t recall her name or the book though.

The original recipe called for canned or fresh tomatoes, I didn’t have any so I successfully substituted canned coconut milk.

In a large soup pot saute 2 large onions, chopped, in olive oil.
Let the onions cook for at least 15-20 minutes, so they are just beginning to brown.

Add to the pot about 4-5 potatoes cubed, 2 carrots chopped, about 2 cups of red lentils well rinsed, and about a half gallon of water. Let cook for about 30 minutes. Add more water if needed, the mixture should be thick but still very liquid. After about 30 minutes add some greens -fresh or frozen – about 1 to 1 1/2 cups cut into smallish pieces.

After it is well cooked – about 30-45 minutes – season with about 2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp crushed cumin seeds, 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, other mild chilis as desired.

If I had had celery I would have added that with the other veggies.

After about 45 minutes, and once the potatoes are soft, add two cans of coconut milk. Heat thoroughly, about 10-15 minutes, and you are ready to serve.

Freezes well, or eat leftovers for 4-5 days.

The key to making this a great soup is using so many onions, and cooking them thoroughly at the beginning.Everything else can be changed – but not that.

It was a very nice introduction for the group and I look forward to a very productive and interesting year!

I served it with cornbread, a good whole wheat sourdough loaf would have been even more perfect.

My small triathlon

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I have something to prove to myself. It is about being 50, it is about my mom being so weak and sick when she was 50, it is about my brother being seriously ill, it is about my health problems with severe anemia for so many years, ending in 2001.

I have found that I have to exercise. If I don’t my blood sugar is wacky, I don’t sleep as well, and I just don’t feel good. Being active feels great. And the threshold of “good” to “great” comes at about an hour a day, 5-7 days a week. So I do it. Because I have to, because I want to, because I like it.

Last week was a bit more extreme. I figure I went from the approx. 6-7 hours a week of good exercise to about 30, In three “events”. First was the Baseline Lake Swim. A mile long, it took just over an hour. That felt great. I swam a couple times the day before, but this was the first long swim of the year. The next day was the bike ride from Chelsea to Ann Arbor. There was the trip to the start point, about 4 miles, the back and forth to downtown Chelsea, and the actual ride from Chelsea to the Townie Party. So something over 20 miles, about 2 1/2 hours.

Walking and biking and other activity the next few days, then Friday and Saturday about 10 hours of paddling each day. And not just la-dee-dah float down the river, but hard maneuvering steering pushing and pulling the water to put the canoe in the right place. Hard work.

The plan was to finish the canoe trip with a bike ride, (about 27 miles) and I had to give that up so that someone would be alert enough to drive. I remain disappointed in that, but it was the logical best choice.

So three different sports, all a little on the side of extreme, or at least slightly pushing it for the normal sort of active person. I like it. I wish I had 30 hours every week to have that much fun, to be that active, to prove something to myself.

I did it.

And it felt good, and it felt like I could do more.

I feel a little awkward talking about it. I don’t really mean to brag, but I also am feeling pretty proud. I’ve always had the sense of failure in my athletic and physical abilities. That’s what I grew up with. I pretty much like this feeling of not failing, of actually being strong and able. It makes me look at and think about my body in different ways. Good ways. Happy ways.

What made the mini-triathlon possible was the participatory nature. I wasn’t alone for any of it. Doing the swim, the bike ride and then the canoe trip with great company and support made the difference. So I’m looking forward to more community based athletic challenges, that fit within my range of what I can do. And I’ve also found that just hanging out with people who find this to be NORMAL is a huge obstacle overcome as well.

Thanks to everyone who was part of my active week!

Canoe trip to the Betsie River

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Another Canoe trip with Gary. This time we went some distance to a river, and planned to both canoe and bike. Drop the bikes at the end, drive to the beginning and leave the truck, then come back on bike and drive to the canoe. Well, it was a good plan.

This trip was high on expectations on what we could accomplish, and low on knowledge about what we would find. Luckily, the beauty and serenity of the area was much more than I expected, and the timing was way off as to what we could do.

The drive north started with a parking lot traffic jam on US 23 so we jumped ship and went up Whitmore Lake Rd. to 36 and around on dirt roads – added a lot of time to the trip. We got in late enough that we just went straight to Frankfort to drop off the bikes at the Marina next to Betsie Lake, then to a DNR campground down a long dirt road to just above the Grass Lakes Flooding dam.

We had eaten dinner in the truck on the way, so set up, and to sleep. I had just gotten a new mosquito netting canopy from Bivouc, so we tried it out and slept under the stars except it was pretty cloudy and lots of trees. The frogs were loud and persistent all night long. But a pleasure to be out with no tent, by the river, and there were hundreds of frustrated mosquitoes. That’s a good thing.

An early start, with scrambled eggs augmented by dandelion, plantain, and grape tendrils. We left the truck by the sign-in station, paid a fee to cover the night as well as leaving the truck, and canoed a few minutes before the first portage.

That was quick and easy, and then we were down the river.

This is a very bendy twisty river! The water was over all a bit low, so we were all over the river picking out the high water spots, then also navigating around hundreds of trees, (thousands of trees?) and then the natural twists and turns of the river. It may be a 45 mile river, but I imagine we went at least twice that far since we crossed back and forth from bank to bank all day long.

That added a few hours to the time it took to paddle.

The upper part is considered the easy stretch as well. It was slow, well maintained (nearly all trees had been cut so there was some passage) but we never really knew where we were. We kept waiting for Thompsonville, and realized finally we had passed it far far back.

The river changed back and forth from gravel to sand to clay and back. It began with the lovely long weeds all pulling downstream, few rocks, and very clear clean water. The trees were also changeable, we saw tall tall aspens, lovely cedar forests, maple forests, hugely tall cliffs, and also the low marshes.

A highlight the first day was finding a bank with ripe wild strawberries mixed with red raspberries. The strawberries were immediately eaten, the red raspberries saved for later pie. Gary loves black raspberries more than anyone I’ve ever known, we didn’t find a one. But later we found abundant service berries as well, and the birds had not eaten them. We filled a container of berries.

Looking over some cattails more closely, we discovered chocolate mint growing with them. Picked a bunch of that and meant to make tea later, but instead they came home with me. It was a great pick me up smell though as I got tired.

St. John’s Wort was everywhere and in bloom. It was great to see one of my favorite plants so present. I already had lots at home making oil and tincture, so I just picked a bit for pleasure.

We just kept paddling and paddling, eating fruit and nuts and drinking lots, so lunch was very late. Avocado sandwiches were welcome with some homemade mustard Gary made from poor man’s pepper plant, and some homemade vinegars and other tasty ingredients. All on homemade sourdough bread I had made the day before. That was when about the only photos were taken, Gary had a quick nap while did a little texting and tweeting. Recharged, we headed on for a few more hours until we were in the state forests and found a place to pull the canoe up for camping.

Once again, it was a place made more lovely by the total lack of ANYONE else on the river. But why? Sure it was Thursday, but I’m constantly amazed that i end up doing things and being places that no one else is doing or being. The second day we found a few paddlers in tin cans, the obligatory cooler of beer. A few more serious kayakers, and maybe four people fishing – one woman. That’s on almost 45 miles of river. As we got closer to Frankfort, more and more tents on the river banks, but even then only about 6-7.

We found a great place to camp, not to much poison ivy, and a walk revealed ramps in flower and we dug up a few. This was after dinner, or they would have gone into the pot. Tomato soup, with potatoes, zuchini, and onion. And an array of spices from Gary’s camping supply.

Birds are a huge part of every canoe trip, and we had the usual Great Blue Heron flying ahead of us down river. Lots of Little Green Herons, Cedar Wax Wings may have been the most prevalent, and Gary spotted the amazing Piliated Woodpecker flying over us. There were two, I saw them as odd shaped fat looking big birds, he got the positive ID. We had just gone by some of their obvious holes in the trees, so I was hoping to see them and knew they were around.

Of course many ducks – the shy wood ducks, the common ducks, and a lot of what he called a Blue WInged Teal Duck. We chased a lot of those down the river as well.

We also saw a few muskrats and evidence of beaver activity, one really large piled up house. Looked like a lot of work! We’re pretty sure we saw two river otters, slow, sleek, moving very unlike a muskrat. Very early on a deer broke out of the woods and jumped across the water to the other shore just a bit in front of us. Wow!

A creature that sure looked like a mink was on the other shore as we set up camp the second night. We had no trouble with animals in camp, and the second night we started out under the mosquito netting again. Just as it was beginning to get light, the rain started, and got very intense even with the trees above us. Gary acted fast, leaped up and set up the tent, I got really cold really fast, and was glad to crawl in to that shelter and get warm again. He had also set up the pie almost ready to bake the night before, so that it was just a matter of adding berries to the crust, some thickener, and some sweetener. I had brought agave syrup for that. So he assembled the pie, and cooked it just outside the tent using his baking set up.

It wasn’t long before it was ready. Breakfast — service berry red raspberry and blueberry (I brought those) pie with forest made crust. Wow. Sitting in the tent as the rain finished, eating this wonderful creation bit by bit, anticipating another long day on the water, that was truly a high point for me.

We packed up the wet stuff, and headed off. We were still fast and strong, which was good because we were only half way to Frankfort and the bikes, The river flows southwest then curves north and west, and the second half is considered the more challenging.

Now I understood how easily we could tip being caught up on some log or brush, and either panicking or making the wrong move. We also had a few totally blocked passages. We were able to just go over a few logs by speed and pushing over. But we came to one were the canoe would fit, but no people. So I did my first climb over the log and let the boat go under.

Later the portage around a total log block was unlikely – undercut high bank on the left, marsh and wetlands on the right. A lot of logs were all jammed tight against an extra large one, but enough of a platform that I felt very comfortable getting out, helping Gary pull the loaded canoe over, and then getting back in. Another skill learned and practiced!

Gary did one on his own while I filmed from the bank. A newly downed tree with full live foliage, the canoe went under, Gary climbed over, then picked me up on shore.

Reading the river got easier, naturally reacting to steering became the norm, and also understanding Gary’s moves finally came clearer. Finding water deep enough was a continual process, I even began to understand where to go and find it. And see it.

It rained a bit the second day, and was cold and cloudy until late afternoon. We were working hard enough it wasn’t much of an issue, but I had not dressed or prepared for cold. Another lesson learned.

The only other dam, at Homestead, was a pretty easy portage, and we sat and ate peanut butter sandwiches, as well as cheese and mustard sandwiches. People kept showing up, watching the dam overlook, and leaving, one guy wanted to talk about canoeing so Gary did that while I walked down river and found a private place to pee.

After a day and a half in the wilds 1/2 dozen or so people seem like a crowd… nice to not have other people around and no canned music, only trees and green stuff to look at. There were a few houses, and one spot with a lot of RVs parked right on the edge. But mostly isolated “log” cabins (made from processed lumber — too uniform to be real to my eye) and busted up docks.

Some serious erosion every once in a while, some of the houses clearly looked in danger. And some were way high on cliffs. Gary enjoyed the many swings (like on m front porch) on stands right on the edge of some of the cliffs. You want that swing to be moored in, and you can’t jump of!

I ended up spending a few hours singing every song I could think of. I just liked the sound in the wild areas, and it was nice to slowly focus on breathing and resonance and sing with the rhythm of paddling and watching. It just felt good, and Gary didn’t object, so that was a pleasure. Fok songs, protest songs, Monkees, Beatles, a very odd assortment I’d say.

We took more breaks the second day, needed them. But that also meant we took out at almost 7 pm in Frankfort. The river end did remind me of the Huron near lake Erie. More open marshes, no more towering trees and forests, more islands and snaking tributaries coming in from all sides. There was also more wind and waves.

We had a long but pretty easy paddle into the lake, but had fortified ourselves on the first bridge before the lake with dinner. Cold beans, wrapped in tortillas with hot sauce. The Fig Newmans, chocolate, most of the fruit, the nuts, and other food was gone.

We found the bikes, took out at the public marina there, and Gary went off on bike for the truck. Our thinking was that he would be able to ride much faster without me, and someone (me) would need to be a bit awake for the long drive home.

About 2 1/2 hours later, a tired and in his own words “loopy” Gary pulled in. I was getting cold and just beginning to worry. No worries. Loaded, he got an ice cream, I had done my chocolate peanut butter cone a few hours before.

We made the drive but were both really tired, it took a lot of focus to be safe and also keep going.

I’ll blog more details later. Just wanted to get some basics down early.

Community Events

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I’ve been part of three very varied and pretty significant community events yesterday and today. Certainly worth noting, and also celebrating events that are intended to build community, acknowledge the importance of community, and to just have fun as a group.

The Annual Huron River Watershed Council Baseline Swim was Sunday morning. Over 40 people swam, and then there were kayakers, canoeists, and a few others in boats to keep us safe. I love it when the motor boats appear in the channel, rev up for a high speed launch into the lake, and the sheriff roars over and stops them dead in their tracks. Yeah!! Swimmers win for that one hour.

Some used the swim as a race, and some of us just enjoyed the perfect morning. I wasn’t the last this year. But I was the slowest. The last to finish got in the water well after me!

So I swam a mile, and loved it.

Today, I joined Mark Braun for his Joybox Express bike ride from Chelsea to Ann Arbor to the Townie Party before the Art Fairs. It was a great ride, straight down Jackson Road, all the way to Main Street. More than 25 people took part. We caused some back up going through the construction on Jackson, but that was also the point!

I dive my truck to the lake with some stuff and my bicycle. I left the truck there, and took off on my bike to Aberdeen Bike Store, where the group ride would begin. I was cruising down the wide shoulder of M-52 in my highest gear, and when I went to shift to an easier gear it wouldn’t shift. And it just wouldn’t. I got off and tried to do it manually, no luck. So I biked into and through town unable to shift.

I feared I would miss the ride, but a sweet guy at the Aberdeen Bike shop immediately set to work, diagnosed the problem, put on a replacement shifter, and hardly charged me. And said if I didn’t have the money with me I could come back and pay for it. Fabulous service. And the shifter works better than ever! And what immense luck, to have it break on the way to a bike store. I’m very lucky.

The third event was the townie party. A much more massive thing — but similar idea and energy. I enjoy it until I got too tired to stay longer. But I was grinning like a mad woman from how good it felt to do the ride.

Inspiration, fun, connections made, and a very feel good experience from all three events. And it is so much fun to bike or swim or hike (or parade!) with a bunch of people. I really enjoyed these events. I feel tired and well used.

I do love Ann Arbor (and nearby as well…)

Wildcrafting another 10 posts

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I’m enjoying the routine of 1-2 posts a day on wildcrafting. Keeps me in touch with something fun, that I care about, and that can inspire other people.

Here are the next ten tweets, you can follow me on twitter wildcrafting

1.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingSome Lamb’s Quarters are already beginning to be a little tough unless you’ve been picking regularly. Still edible, just cook a few minutes.less than 5 seconds ago from web

2.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingBiking and walking are the two best ways to find wild food. You have to slow down to be a forager. And watch. And stop often.less than 5 seconds ago from web

3.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingMotherwort flowering tops made into tincture for menopause transition & help regular cycles (menses and heart rhythm). Peek harvest ending7:59 PM Jul 12th from web

4.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingI unexpectedly made a housecall and was offered homemade pizza with wildcrafted dried morel mushrooms as a topping. Wild foragers!7:47 PM Jul 12th from web

5.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingAn abundance of black raspberries, an abundance of BRB tweets. Technology follows nature. About to indulge in some non-wild blueberries tho.9:35 PM Jul 11th from web

6.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingA friend shared black raspberry ice cream with me 2day. Wow. He also has BRB wine, and is trying BRB soda – brewed like root beer. Creative.9:33 PM Jul 11th from web

7.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingQueen Ann’s lace is blooming – seems early. That’s a second year wild carrot. Not much for food or medicine, seeds were used 4 birth control9:31 PM Jul 11th from web

8.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingblack raspberries in cornbread, crisps, fruit leather, jam, dried, pies, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, milk shakes, and of course just plain.8:32 PM Jul 10th from txt

9.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcrafting1st year wild carrot before the flower. Make sure it smells like carrot. Root in salads or add to stir frys roast veggies.7:43 PM Jul 10th from txt

10.
Linda Diane Feldt
wildcraftingPicking Mulberries into a NYT bag. My dog is scarfing them up off the ground as fast as she can. They go into the freezer, in zip lock bag.8:29 PM Jul 9th from web

wow.

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I have to admire brilliant talent, even if I think it is crazy

And what I kept thinking while I watched this was I would be awestruck seeing this guy doing this on a random street. I would also be distressed seeing someone practicing before they became that good. It is all a matter of when you find it. Hope I remember that next time I see someone doing something stupid that could eventually be awesome.

Birthday in May

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

I sort of skipped over this event, because the week just got away from me. But it was a much anticipated, planned, thought about and large event in my life. So it deserves some notice and a few comments.

My 50th birthday was in February. Not much to do with a winter birthday but sit around inside and eat cake. Although I now recall that the teacher mentioned in my earlier block post today was there for my 16th birthday at Farrels. They were in Briarwood mall at the time, and it is an ice cream and cake sort of place. If it si your birthday they come out and sing to you with lots of noise and attention, give you some great ice cream treat, and everyone gets to be silly.

That works even in winter.

But I wanted to be out with friends, I envisioned a sort of parade. So I decided to celebrate three months later – May 3. I arranged for music – and ended up with some really fine musicians. I bought 3 dozen bottles of bubbles. I made great food, including five kinds of cheesecake. And I invited a lot of people. And, I made it a fundraiser. For Growing Hope.

We walked to the park in front of the Co-op, although there was also one unicycle! Once there the music continued and I served cheesecake to everyone, even the innocent bystanders. That was fun.

I’m not sure many people knew totally what was going to go on, maybe just a few of my closest friends. But about 50 ended up being part of at least one part of it, and nearly half did it all.

There are some great photos on facebook. And The Ann Arbor Chronicle weaved it into a larger story.

I’m glad I risked being silly. I’m really glad to have found such great musicians willing to play. I’m really happy to be 50. And most of all, I’m really happy to live in this community and have so many extraordinary people in my life. Wow. It is great to take that moment to say yeah, this is something. I feel well celebrated, well loved, and really happy I did it. Money is still coming in for Growing Hope, I’ll post the total later. It isn’t inteh thousands as I originally hoped. But a nice contribution and many people heard about this organization who wouldn’t have otherwise!

And I have lots of left over soap bubbles for the summer. And there was a lot of left over cheesecake, a week later, one piece remains. And no, I didn’t eat it all myself.

Workshops in Indesign, Planning, and Social Networking

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Another busy day of learning. It started with a great class on Indesign. I know this program pretty well, but not using it for a year proved fatal. I went back into it to start the next phase of book creation and couldn’t remember the most basic stuff. So I took the workshop for the immersion experience and got exactly that. 2 hours with a competent user (and good teacher as well) turned on the memory and the details are coming back.

I biked to the class, over on Kipke drive, in the same building as the UM police – next to the stadium. interesting area I’ve never explored before.

I had time for a very quick lunch back home, and dash of to MLB for a class on planning your technology project. Strangely many of the people in the class where there more to learn how to teach how to plan a project. So a few made up their projects. Mine was one of the more evolved as well as large. It was helpful to spend the time planning, to have a few interesting worksheets, to validate some of my to date efforts, and certainly to learn a few things I had not considered at all.

I had to dash off from there to try and figure out which building was the Chemistry building, so arrived a little late for the workshop on alternative social networking. The instructor was a little disorganized and so native to the material he didn’t really break things down. And I had to work at a PC, so even finding the alt and delete key to begin (what a weird way to get a computer to turn on — I just so love Macs from the get go) took time.

But I also really like that style because if you interact with him and ask questions he was very present and excited and quick to respond. Very adaptive. We covered Ning, Google Sketchup, and Twitter. So it jump started me into twitter. I have five followers already today. I’m there – lindadianefeldt

Considering ning for my project, but I have questions about interface and branding. Yet it seems that the portal concept that integrates existing tools and applies them to the subject is cost effective, efficient, and very much what is happening. I just need to consider the integration aspect. It is thinking in a different way – your tools are all over the world literally, yet also immediate through a common web portal. It can appear to be one thing, and yet proximity is also irrelevant. It is a very different way of thinking about design and it isn’t natural to me yet but increasingly so.

I was turned around in the building and ended up exiting via the Diag. I was feeling grumbly about that when I encountered these huge flower beds filled with tulips at their total prime and it was amazing. The late afternoon sun brought out colors that were awesome – peak tulip experience for me!!

I enjoyed the bike ride home, Nala was happy to see me and we took off for a bit of a walk which she very much needed. I had enough energy then to see a client, return a bunch of stacked up phone calls, eat, and fall asleep in front of the TV (ooops).

Today – a class on Public speaking, then I teach my 9th grade double class, and a reception at the new Museum. Then home for more at home work especially on the Co-op.