Jan 23

I've had my sights set on a Sonicare electric toothbrush for quite some time now.  It's hard to come to grips with the prospect of shelling out $70, $100, even $150 for something as inane as a toothbrush - especially when you're accustomed to paying no more than $5 for 2-pack of generic Safeway brand brushes.  This was a luxury that I was biding my time for, and finally found myself in the right place (Target), at the time (during a promotion), and was able to obtain my quarry at the right price ($55).

Mine would be the model 5300 Sonicare Essence.  This would be considered the entry-level brush which lacks some of the superfluous features, and slimmer design of the much pricier models available.  However, after reading numerous reviews, and considering the total amount of time spent brushing my teeth each day, the basic model seemed capable enough of fulfilling its duty.

My purpose in obtaining and committing to use the Sonicare was namely to eliminate the slow and unstoppable onslaught of plaque, to restore gum health, and to see if the unit could actually affect whiter teeth without having to resort to costly whitening strips which seem to have a short-lived impact.

Now, I've had the Sonicare for all of two days, but can already attest to its remarkable ability to eliminate plaque - in fact, I'm amazed at its ability to make plaque simply disappear.  Gum health will take longer to assess, I'm sure, but in only a few days, I've enjoyed pinker, healthier looking, and better feeling gums already.  Oddly enough, the intense vibration of the Sonicare against the gums is such a pleasant sensation that I find myself looking forward to bushing, and brushing longer as a result.  The jury is still out on the Sonicare's ability to yield whiter teeth, but I'm confident for its ability to eliminate plaque, that whiter teeth will come as a result.

Prior to use, and now proven, I'd picked up a couple of pointers.  First, not to turn on the Sonicare until it was loaded with toothpaste and actually resting against your teeth - turning it on prematurely will send atomized toothpaste in all directions at once.  Second, turn off the Sonicare prior to removing it from your mouth (see previous, replacing "toothpaste" with "saliva").  Third, learn to position your head so that your mouth-drippings don't flow down the body of the toothbrush - the Sonicare is a nearly-sealed-unit except for the joint where the brush head attaches...in this spot, your slimy used toothpaste will collect if given the chance.  Finally, take care not to touch the brush head against your teeth directly, especially against particularly sensitive teeth or dental work, as the exceptional rate of vibration of the Sonicare feels almost like an electrical shock when this happens unexpectedly.

Though I still classify the Sonicare as a luxury item, for its price alone, I'm quite pleased with the investment, and promote its use to those who can afford to part with some cash.  I can hardly conceive of paying much (if any) more than I did - I do wish that the entry level model had a price point of around $49.

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May 31

We spent Memorial Day weekend in (unusually) sunny and warm Cayucos, California this year.  I've passed through Cayucos a number of times, but never spent any significant amount of time exploring its pleasures.  Adding to the experience on this particular Spring weekend were weather conditions which absolutely astounded.  Situated at the Northern end of the Morro Strand state beach between the cities of Morro Bay and Cambria, Cayucos is a fairly typical Central/Southern small California beach town - very laid back, a little sleepy, and catering to the surf, sand, and antique-lovers crowd.  With just enough store front to satisfy during the non-beach stints in one's vacation schedule, and a very decent selection of restaurants (from higher-end, such as Hoppes, to casual family dining, such as the Sea Shanty), there should be no compelling need to trek into any of the neighboring communities.

Now, what made this weekend extra-special were the accomodations - a quintescential California beach house situated directly on the beach.  With an expanse of sand in either direction, and only a private staircase away, beach-going was managed purely at our total convenience.  So often, it seems, beach-going becomes an ordeal involving lugging all of the requisite support materials, dressing-out, long walks, and planning - it diminshes the fun considerably.  In contrast, there is so much to be said for ad-hoc walks on the beach (even on Sunday morning in pajamas to check out the tide pools).

So, fun for the whole family, including the total and complete acceptance of dogs in, and around the beaches and community of Cayucos (it seems the diners at every restaurant we ate at were accompanied by their dogs, as well as one of the odd local dogs who dropped in for a visit), unbelievable weather (comfortable in shirt-sleeves even at 3am - this I know for a fact), and complete relaxation made this a banner get-away. Cool


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May 11

On the path to recovery from a second kidney stone in fifteen years.  Once was a enough, twice was one too many.

A warning to all younger (less than 50) men - take note that the onset of kidney stone "event" can manifest in a number of ways, includes showing symptoms of prostititis.  This being a post-dated entry, I can say with some degree of confidence that for several months leading to the big event, I was quite certain (and even diagnosed by my regular physician) that I was suffering from acute prostititis.  Symptomatically, this may have well been the case, and in fact, the treatment did bring some temporary relief; however, I'm convinced that the kidney stone problem did lie at root cause.  A week later, I continue to feel better overall than I have in months, experiencing none of the UTI symptoms or general malaise that had become a general way of life prior.

So, in a sense, the stone was a blessing in disguise.  Though I hope never to repeat it, for a third stone might just send me to the asylum, I'm a little smarter for it, and treat it as a lesson learned.  Now, you can trust that I knew precisely what was happening on the day that the stone finally let loose, and started on it's merry journey through the ureter.  It is the week(s), or even months leading up to this event where diagnosis can go astray.

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Jul 27

24 mile ride last Saturday - with the recent addition of Tri-bars, finally, no more numb fingers post-ride.  The more aero position was quite comfortable on the flats and down-grades.  Even light up-grades weren't terribly tough in the stretched-crouch position.  It's amazing the amount of energy spent on the combination of holding one's body up and, at the same time, fighting the wind.  Again, my purpose was in doing something to eliminate the hand and finger numbness short of fitting the bike with an upright stem and handlebars - or better, a pair of ape-hangers. Tongue out

 

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Jun 19

James has graduated from his hearty and well-serving 12" bike - an old friend with many a memory attached, onto a 14"er.  The new bike is made (or at least packaged) by Huffy.  James chose the "Diego" model at Toys-R-Us because, he thought, it comes with a backpack that mounts on the handlebars (he is fascinated with the under-seat tool pouch on my road bike...I believe he was looking for the same).  In fact, the backpack is little more than a flat plastic placard that zip-ties to the handlebars...pretty cheesy.  

I'm convinced that this bike required a wider array of wrenches to assemble than my Nissan - thankfully, I'm well-equipped, though my tools are slowly disappearing (similar to my dad's when I was a kid, I sure).  Once assembled, we found that it was rather stiff in nearly every rotational respect; however with some diligent break-in, the function has become acceptably fluid.

James did well on his inaugeral ride - only once skinning the same elbow that he grated across the pavement on his old bike three days ago.  His starts and stops are much improved, and he is looking quite confident on his new set of wheels.  One day soon we may actually be biking together.

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Dec 10

I caught some old dude checking me out this morning.  I stared back for what seemed like a long time, probably only a few seconds, trying to figure out who this guy really was - vaguely recognizable features, oddly familiar posture and expression, and then it hit me...I was viewing my reflection in the mirror during one of those surreal moments where you separate yourself from your "self", and register the visual that others see.  It was not a comforting moment, in fact, it was actually rather disturbing.

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Nov 16

Big news! 

The kids road without training wheels this evening - an unusual run of oddly Summer-like weather has blessed the Bay Area over the past few days.  Together, I think, with a fantastic full moon, we're all feeling a little giddy perhaps?  Somehow, it was decided that we should "raise the training wheels" which ultimately evolved into "take them off Daddy!" - so, off they went on both my son's 12" and daughter's 14" bikes.

I was amazed - within only minutes (literally...we hadn't even left the garage), my son was pedalling on his own.  Once in the street, he cruised along merrily without a single incident.  I'm quite sure that he'll be proficient in turning, starting and stopping with only an hour or two of practice next weekend.  My daughter, the cautious one, was pedalling on her own within minutes as well.  Not quite as sure-footed, she still did very well and will be expert in no time.

I remember: 1. not having training wheels on my "big bike" and 2. having only a "big bike".  In other words, when I was a kid, I don't think there was any allowance granted between the tricycle and 20" bicycle - transitioning from one to the other was a sink-or-swim proposition.  Therefore, given the higher center of gravity, the significant weight, and an unforgiving geometry in the hands of a six to eight year old, moving from three to two wheels was not always a painless experience.

Needless to say, I'm both stunned and thrilled by this latest threashold that has been crossed on the path to growing up.

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Nov 16

This is a nice looking bike rack - the RR530 model by R.A. Allen Co is designed to fit a 2" receiver hitch and hold three bikes.

Feature-rich and priced well below those offering equivalent features, such as fold-away arms when bikes are not racked (great for stowing while in parking lots and storage when off the vehicle), swing-down to access SUV back-hatches (most have this feature, but some don't), a chain loop (theft prevention - to secure the rack to the vehicle) and independent bike/hold-down straps (yeah, you still have to remove all of the bikes to get to the one that's closest to the vehicle, but being able to unstrap the outboard bike, park it safely out of the way, then tackled the next, and so on will prevent lots of nicked fingers and scratched paint).  I plan to order mine today from AutoAnything.com .  The price is right and the shipping is free.

If you're really bored, or just like an interesting back-story on the product/company that you're buying, check out the history of Allen Racks.  I find this kind of classic illustration of American entrepreneurial spirit an inspiration and motivation.  An out-of-work physicist, Allen cobbled together his first series of racks in his garage, persisted in marketing and distribution, and has realized success spanning 40 years.

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Nov 12

Well, I got my replacement shoes today - the slightly better model (Time RXT) in one size larger.  I'm actually glad that the first pair of Time shoes was defective as the size 42 pair is noticeably more comfortable.

I've got a couple of days in which to get everything dialed in (in the odd spare moment) in the hope that this weekend will bring fantastic weather, and an hour or two for the inaugeral ride.

Here are two great articles to expedite getting the cleat positioning close on the first pass:

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Nov 11

I finally got my road bike - I've been working on it for ages (mostly searching, tracking, and bidding through eBay), got close one time on a sweet deal through Craigs List which fell through, and finally scored about two to three weeks ago.  I was able to pick up a very well-cared for Raleigh SuperCourse under budget and nicely equipped with Shimano 105 comps end-to-end, carbon fork, etc. 

The bike is essentially stock, which means that it sports the one pain point that most people who have reviewed the bike called out - that is the Alex wheelset.  Complained to be a little heavy, and easily knocked out of true, I'll roll them for awhile, then perhaps look at an upgrade.  I'm not a heavy guy, so only abuse would cause trueness problems, and I'm not racing competitively, so I don't image the weight will necessarily limit me.

The SuperCourse line has been around for ages (since at least the late 60's) and has always maintained very classic lines, geometry and coloring - simple and elegant.  Here is a review thread - the tiny picture on this page looks just like my bike (bright silver over dark grey metallic with all-black comps).

Too bad that the shoes I ordered for the inaugeral ride via Nashbar were defective...got replacements coming though and can't wait to get in a ride or two before the weather turns.  Luckily, the S.F. Bay Area may offer suitable riding conditions off-and-on all winter long, but it's tough to plan for ahead of time - I'll take what I can get.

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Sep 13
First trip to the gym in at least six weeks...only a little sore, but some tendon pain in one knee.  Despite the post-workout pain, I hope to begin making this a regular event again as I had been maintaining at four workouts per week for several months earlier in the year, though I guess the same goes for just about everyone else as well - in a large gym that was packed full at the beginning of the year on just about any day, at any time, there couldn't have been more that 25 people there today.

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