Vitamin D…in November?

It was a tough day of synthesizing vitamin D from sunlight. Hey, you think it’s easy – sure, it’s easy in July, but much harder in the November sun, especially when you’re also running the Krebs cycle and synthesizing ATP as fast as you can.

Check out the stats from today’s ride on my computer readout. If it’s hard to read, net mileage was zero (I ended where I started) gross miles zero (none of the miles were gross – they were all fun). Net climbing zero again – I started and ended 856 feet above sea level. Gross was just enough to reach the top of every hill. Average speed – yup, average. Total miles exactly equaled the distance from my house back to my house. Heart rate was non-zero throughout.

The plan was to ride north, but there was a strong southern breeze so I rode east and south so I could ride home with a tailwind. It actually worked. At each junction I rode whichever way looked best. Hope, Cottage Grove, Deerfield, Stoughton (where even the cheese (kaese) is Norwegian) and various points in between. No maps, no apps. I rode enough so that I drank the last of my water on the last block coming home. The important statistic was 70 degrees (21 Celsius) and sunny – not at all normal for November in Wisconsin, but I’ll take it. The corn is dry and this may be the last week to get it harvested in good weather.

Hope is the word of the day. I woke up to the first full day with a new President-elect. Democracy may survive this. Be on the lookout. The rash of lawsuits contesting election results being filed by the Trump campaign is a misdirection. Watch for a slew of Executive Orders attacking environmental protection, healthcare, worker’s rights, and education in the next 10 weeks. His minions will be working overtime in the shadows to inflict maximum damage. Civil rights will come under attack, except for that second one about “an unregulated militia” – oh wait, that says “well-regulated militia”. One man’s militia is another man’s domestic terrorist group.

AP Photo

This photo accompanied an article quoting a Dallas evangelical pastor calling Trump “the most pro-faith president in American history.” The smirk on Trump’s face says it all – “I’ve really put one over on these dupes.” With his history, one can only assume he is sleeping with his spiritual advisor (the one with her hand on his right arm). I’m surprised no one is kissing the hem of his garment (or would it be the end of his tie?) or his ring.

Her oratorical skills are unmatched.

Primož Roglič of Slovenia entered the penultimate day of La Vuelta a España with a 45 second lead over Richard Carapaz of Ecuador. By the end of the day the lead was down to 24 seconds, the final margin after more than 72 hours of racing.

From NBC TV – Richard Carapaz, Primož Roglič, Hugh Carthy (left to right)
Possibly the last ride of 2020 just for fun. I don’t usually do selfies.

“Sentence first – verdict afterwards.”

And so the Red Queen announced the sentence, “Off with her head!” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I thought this was absurdity or satire, not news, when I read it.

Illustration by John Tenniel

The news is at least as absurd. On Tuesday night, our only president announced his victory in the election before the votes were counted. He tweeted “Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed” – not that anyone was trying to cast ballots after the polls had closed, but they were attempting to count ballots after the polls are closed – that’s sorta the way it works. It appears that he considers counting the votes to be STEALing the election. He announced that his leads were “magically” disappearing as “surprise ballot dumps were counted”; which appears to mean that he didn’t want the absentee ballots to be counted, or maybe there were just certain counties whose ballots he didn’t want counted.

I’ve never really understood election results watching as a spectator sport. It seems like watching a sporting event in which all you can see is the scoreboard. The excitement, such as it is, is to watch the numbers change, not to watch the athletes at work. Co-workers stayed up late, or woke up in the middle of the night due to anxiety, turning on the TV to see what was happening.

As this is being written, the score is either 248-214 or 253-214, depending on which scoreboard you’re looking at. (One of them just changed – during proofreading – to 264-214; the other is still at 248-214.) It appears to be the ninth inning, the 4th quarter, or the third period if you’re a hockey fan. The trouble with this sport is that after the game is over the score could still change. Points could be transferred from one to the other because the final score isn’t really final for over a month, even though we all want to wake up to a final score on Wednesday morning, or stay up to see it Tuesday night. We could go into overtime, only to have the Supreme Court suddenly declare Game Over. The way it looks right now, if each wins all of the states in which he is considered to be leading, it is a Biden victory 270-268. The trouble with that is that Biden’s leads are slim and Trump’s leads (particularly in PA, the biggest prize remaining) are larger. Not to mention that there will certainly be demands for a recount, especially if Mr. Trump loses – he is already demanding recounts and hasn’t lost yet.

I see three possible scenarios: 1) Trump wins and we have 4 more years of this madness; 2) Trump loses and has almost 12 weeks in which to metaphorically torch everything on his way out (or, for another metaphor, the Trump administration is like a rock band that has already been paid and trashes the hotel suite on the last night); or 3) the Supreme Court hands him the election in a replay of 2000. I’m not really sure which is worst.

My fantasy is that he loses and refuses to abdicate. Biden is sworn in and the Secret Service forcefully evicts the former president on January 21. Maybe the sheriff could toss his belongings to the curb. Maybe we could see a perp walk to a waiting squad car, hands cuffed behind his back. The charges? Criminal trespass, impersonating the President. (18 U.S. Code § 912)

Then the indictments begin. The RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act seems ideally suited for this. Then we have tax evasion (like Al Capone), fraud charges for the funds he diverted from his charitable organization, the Emoluments Clause, and various state charges. Who gets to extradite him first? Or can we pronounce the “sentence first – verdict later”?

As spectator sports go, I gotta admit I’m enjoying the NBC Extended Highlights of La Vuelta a España much more than this presidential race. They don’t go online until late afternoon but they’re worth waiting for.

Equinox

I’m gonna pretend I can ride a century without training. I trained hard for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds in June; surely some of that will bleed over into September, eh?

The Ride is a century sponsored by my employer. It is on (approximately) the autumnal equinox; seems like a good excuse for a century ride. It’s in a not-too-hilly area where I don’t ride a lot. I oughta be able to do this. They want me to raise $350. I mostly want to ride that day. It’s a century and it’s the equinox and it’s a Sunday so I don’t work. Seems like enough reasons to me. (Reasons? I ain’t got no reasons. I don’t need no reasons! I don’t have to show you any stinking reasons!) Since it raises funds for the Carbone Cancer Center, I welcome your donations in my name (Half-fast Cycling Club).

This is going to spawn multiple tangents, so strap in for the ride. The Ride reminds me of a plan I once had for The One Ride. I designed the logo, t-shirt, jersey, and the tagline: “One continent, One rider, One cause.” It was to be a solo cross-country fundraising tour to raise funds for the JNCL Research Fund. It never happened.

JNCL is short for Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscionosis, which is long for Batten’s Disease. Battens’ Disease is an autosomal recessive genetically-transmitted disease. In lay terms, you inherit it from your parents. If both are carriers of the gene, you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting the disease. What does it mean? “Juvenile” means onset in childhood. “Neuronal” means it involves the neurons – cells which transmits signals in your nervous system. “Ceroid” refers to a yellow to brown pigment. “Lipo” refers to fats. “Fuscin” refers to a specific brown pigment in the retina. “Osis” means an abnormal condition. In short, this whole thing refers to an abnormal deposition of pigment in the retina and fatty deposits along the cells which transmit information in the nervous system. (Lipofuscin is a specific fat-based pigment that builds up as a waste product.) In short, our body fails to break down certain cellular wastes, which build up and cause symptoms.

In practical terms, it means a disease which leads to blindness, night terrors, seizures, eventual deterioration of the nervous system, and death before the age of thirty. Why am I telling you this? Because I had two nieces who died of this disease. While rare, it is most common in people of Finnish extraction (that’s me). So I planned a coast-to-coast tour to raise funds for research. At the time, the genetic component was just being discovered. One lab in the US was capable of running the tests to see if you were a carrier. There is still no cure and treatment is only symptomatic. Trouble was, I had a job and two young kids, so the trip didn’t happen, and my nieces died. That was another impetus to finally make the coast-to-coast trip last year.

Anyway, The Ride raises funds for cancer research. I see cancer patients in my day job, so I thought I’d raise the issue here. Donate if you will – no pressure. Time for the next tangent.

This weekend is the 54th annual Orton Park Festival. It takes place in an urban park (which was once our first cemetery). The park is a tiny oak savanna. The festivities begin with a performance by Cycropia, an aerial dance troupe. They string trapezes and various other accoutrements from an old burr oak in the park. It is only August, but it has suddenly changed from Pilsner weather to Oktoberfest weather. In February it doesn’t change from Stout weather to Maibock weather.

Tonight was a performance by the band formerly known as Get Back Wisconsin. Due to a cease and desist order from someone who claims ownership of Get Back, they are now Madison Mystery Tour (As of this writing, the website is a work in progress, due to the name change.) They perform a concert of each Beatles album on the 5oth anniversary of the album release. Abbey Road will be performed Saturday, October 5, 2019, at the Barrymore Theatre. I’m only telling you this because I already have my ticket. Tonight was mostly pre-Abbey Road material. The encore was “Here Comes The Sun”, which brings me to the next tangent.

Get Back WI/Madison Mystery Tour

It was 1987 – “En 1987 aquí no se rinde nadie” was the national slogan of Nicaragua. It was done as a call and response. The leader shouted “En mil novecientos ochenta y siete aquí” and the audience responded “no se rinde nadie!” In English, that’s “In 1987, no one here surrenders!” For those too young to remember, the US was trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government in 1987 via an illegitimate war funded, contrary to an explicit law, by the illegal sale of weapons to an enemy (Iran), with the profits diverted to a CIA-organized and funded mercenary army (the Contra). Clearly, this was an impeachable offense, yet President Reagan remains a hero to many – a mystery to me.

In 1987, I was in Nicaragua, working for an organization called APSNICA (Architects and Planners in Support of Nicaragua), building housing on cooperatively-owned cattle ranches. We selectively logged the forests, milled the lumber, and made concrete from sand and gravel dug from the riverbank (mixed with water from that river) combined with cement from a local plant. We leveled building sites with picks and shovels (but we did have a theodolite [a precision optical instrument for measuring angles between designated visible points in the horizontal and vertical planes.]). We poured concrete slab floors and built masonry half-walls from river rock and concrete. Framing and siding were from the trees we cut and milled on-site. Zinc roofing and nails were imported from Canada. We constructed a potable water system, dug outhouses, and built a school for each group of twenty families.

It rained all night. The next morning clouds were thick. I was on the trucking crew and we were driving the loggers out to the woods. Keith Greeninger was on the logging crew. The clouds parted and the sun appeared. Keith and I were standing on the rear bumper of the truck, holding onto the superstructure onto which we would, before lunch, load freshly-milled lumber. We looked each other in the eye and began to sing “Here Comes the Sun” to each other. It was one of the more magical moments of my life. We had not spoken on the ride. We just burst into song together, there being no other apt response to the abrupt change in the weather. An hour later, he was being rushed to the hospital in Matagalpa to suture a large gash on his forehead. Upon returning, he was not able to go out and do the dirty work in the woods, so he stayed in camp and wrote songs. He is now a professional singer-songwriter. “Here Comes the Sun” still brings tears to my eyes.

Not the song I’d like to post, but that one was never released.

The song I’d like to post, “Another Nicaraguan Night” captured those nights sitting in darkness after the generator was turned off, trading songs with the Nicaraguans. Keith tried out his new songs then. This one was also written in camp. The original title was “Eyes of Your Young” but people misunderstood the chorus, so he changed the title so that phrase was written out. (It was an unfortunate Mondegreen.)

I returned to the US, moved to San Francisco and became a plumber. But that’s another story for another time.

By the way, the third Grand Tour, La Vuelta a España, is now in progress.

Breaking News!

Details have been released for Cycle America 2020! Now you too can ride coast-to-coast! The ride departs Seattle on Sunday, June 20 and arrives in Boston Saturday, August 22. You can ride all 9 weeks or any part thereof. Total cost is less than $7500 with early discount. That includes route planning, sag support, most of your meals, and a place to lay your head every night! (Not to mention good friends, beautiful scenery, and seeing the country at a pace amenable to that.) For those of the Facebook persuasion, you can also find info and lots of pictures from past rides here. (And even the non-Facebook users can still see the pictures – they’ll keep asking you to log in or open an account, but you can skip that.) Such a deal! Tell ’em the half-fast cycling club sent you.

A special shout-out is due to my friend at Plant-Powered Pedaling, who just completed Paris-Brest-Paris – 1220 km in under 90 hours! PBP is the ultimate in endurance rides. I’ve been following this guy for a while – I use the term “friend” in the internet sense of the word. We’ve never met. I read his blog, maybe he reads mine. He completes epic rides and (as the title implies) does it on vegan foods – not only does that mean you can perform tremendous feats on a vegan diet, but you can somehow find food while riding for hundreds of miles without external support.

Copyright and Courtesy of Plant-Powered-Pedaling (and he drinks beer after riding!)