Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Voodoo Music Experience Wrapup



We got a late start on Sunday. Waking up late, we scrambled off to breakfast. Well, we had breakfast food - but it was really lunch time. I was recalling an earlier conversation with Jane about my affinity for bacon. Seriously, I have problem when it comes to bacon. I love the stuff. If I could eat bacon and pizza every day I'd be OK with that!

TROMBONE SHORTY
Trombone Shorty is a badazz. During his JazzFest set last April, he lept off the stage into the crowd, breaking his leg. Ouch. He got back on to the stage and finished the set, broken leg and all! Needless to say, I was not going to miss his Voodoo set.
Because we arrived late, this was our view of the stage.



This was not necessarily a bad thing, since it was out the mud. I only had one clean pair of shoes left! The show didn't disappoint. In typical TS fashion, the show was very energetic. When you tell people you are going to see a horn band this is NOT what they are thinking of!

I turned and noticed these guys boogy-ing down next to me...(rememeber it's Halloween weekend)



Bacon, egg, toast, and cereal (hiding in the back)!! So there I was listening to Trombone Shorty, bacon had found me! We acutally saw them again downtown that evening. They were pretty hard to miss.

TO SUMMARIZE
The weekend was spectacular. The weather could not have possibly been better. Perfect temperatures, bright sunshine, and an gentle breeze. The music was great, and New Orleans is coming back. Smiles all around...from me, my friend Amanda, and her husband Mason (who's behind the camera)


UPDATED POSTS
I updated several of my earlier Voodoo Fest post with pics and clips.


NEW ORLEANS TODAY
Every time I've been back to New Orleans since Katrina everyone always asks "what's it like now?" In a word - healthy.

NOLA is starting to felt like the old pre-K NOLA. JazzFest 2006 was an emotional roller coaster. You could look everywhere and see reminders of what had happend just a few months before. One place would be open (happy) another closed (sad). In early 2007 things were much better. Many more businesses were open. Still you could see water lines, and a few closed businesses.

But now, just over two years since that b*tch of storm rolled through the city looks better than ever. The water lines have faded. Nearly everything is open again. And the crowds were large downtown. Much larger than they were my last trip down here four months ago.

There are still subtle reminders. Things like this placard on an Oak St. business...


Or a headline in the paper railing against those that are compairing the government reaction in the California fires to Katrina


But let's face it... New Orleans has never been perfect. NOLA is filled with some of the most beautiful architecture, personalites, and cultures of any place in the country. At the same time, there are problems in this city that exist in every other major city in the US.

NOLA is a city on it's way back. As we have read and watched news stories of how little the government is doing for New Orleans, the people here have been making their way back. That doesn't make a very sexy news story... but it is good news.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Electronics outta juice but not me

Probably my last post of the day. BBerry battery very close to dead. My batteries however have been recharged!

Haven't felt this free and relaxed in a long while.

Theme for today; work like you don't need the money, love like you never been hurt, DANCE like nobody is watching!

UPDATED:

The theme above came to mind because of the mud. As the evening went on the mud got worse. It's tough to dance when you're shoes stick in the mud. So, like those with flip flops before me, I abandoned my shoes...

You can't really worry about how you look at times like this. Mud sure feels good when squished between your toes!



After this show it was back to the hotel room to clean up, obviously. Then we made downtown to peoplewatch the Halloween revelers.

Just when you thought it couldnt get...

Any funkier...




Ivan Neville's DUMPSTAFUNK has hit the groove.. Clips on Monday stay tuned.

UPDATED:


Inevitably when you mention Ivan Neville's name people think of Aaron Neville. That's natural, because it's his son. However, Ivan is not the falsetto voiced ballad carooner his father is. Far from it. Ivan's got a rich soulful voice that's kinda like Barry White meets John Lee Hooker. Like his father, though, he's got a great and unique voice.


Here's a really short low quality sample from the show...



video

Here's Tony Hall gettin' after it...


video


video

Update from City Park #2

P-B-S brought the noise that separates the men from the boys! Go figure, the stage with the funk music was muddy as hell!! I'll illustrate with pix later. Heading to see Ben Harper, then Dumpstafunk.


UPDATED:
As I noted the stage was a bit muddy...



How many abandoned flip-flops can you find?



the mud didn't stop George Porter, Jr. from getting down though...



so I didn't let it stop me from getting a spot up close to dance!



You can't be afraid of a little mud if you want to groove to the music...

And what groovy music it was! P-B-S put on a great set. For a three-peice act these guys have such a full sound. George Porter's voice certainly helps. You couldn't want a better foundation that Russell Batiste on the drums. I *think* this was only the second time I've seen these guys live. Of course, I've seen them with their respective bands many times.

This was the best show saw to this point...

Update from City Park

GOOD-Scored a super cheap ticket from a scalper!

BAD-Coheed and Cambria is not very entertaining. Most of the music is dubbed in. WEAK. I didn't come here to see recorded music. I came to see real LIVE musicians winging it! I've heard much about this band, but they sound like any number of late 80's heavy metal bands. Not my cup of tea. When the mosh pit broke out in front of me...



... it was time to go.

Going to see live music. P-B-S!

Beautiful Morning in Carrollton



Day 2 in NOLA finds me at Rue de la Course coffee house. I'm doing well so far. I managed to get about 3-hours of sleep last night. The coffee and sunshine are helping tremendously. I like to think of NOLA trips as endurance events. The challenge - pack in as much fun as possible!



I'm sitting outside of the coffee shop, by the sidewalk, waiting for my buddies to wake up an meet me. A guy came walking down the sidewalk just a moment ago pushing a stroller and doggy in tow. He walks up says "good morning,man!", and gives me a high-five. That's something you don't see outside of this city! In fact, almost every passer by greets me, or comments about the weather.

Its hard to beat the friendliness of this place.

Live from Tchoupitulous and Napoleon

First, blogging from a Blackberry is hard. Please forgive any typos!

Ivan Neville's Dumpstafunk just finished up a kickin' show at Tipitinas! My soul feels fed as the rythm and beats still echo through my head. I've got my groove back! This show alone made the arduous journey here worthwhile.

It was tough road today, complete with a semi-truck accident, and 3-hour delay. But I'm here. If tonight's show is any indication, there will be much good music this weekend.

More later. I must participate in the raging debate about where to go to next!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sometimes It's Best To Just Laugh

I've been working on a gi-nor-mous spreadsheet for the past couple of days. Here it is printed out, and hanging on my office wall. Even at poster size, the print is like 6pt. It's a cost spreadsheet that's got all the costs for my project on it.



I came aboard in the middle of this project. So, there are significant portions of the costs that I'm not familiar with. I ran across one of them today. "Erection Aids" for $3,600,000.00.

Not having any idea what this was, I yell to the guy in the adjacent office "Hey, what are these erection aids, and why do I need them?". Of course this happens as three women that work in my office are are walking past my doorway. About the time the words crossed my lips I realized what I'd just said... we all had a good laugh about it! Man $3.6mil sure will buy a lot of "Tri-Mix"!

PRESENTS FROM UPS!
Got a package containing painting supplies for the car.





More about the tools later, because I'm...

GOIN' TO NOLA
I'm in a hurry to get to New Orleans for the Voodoo Music Fest. The Toots and the Maytals play at 7:30. Gonna be close...

Others I hope to see this weekend include:
Ben Harper
Wilco
Toots and the Maytals
Porter-Batiste-Stoltz (aka PBS)
Trombone Shorty
Kings of Leon
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk (one of my all time favorites!)
Henry Butler (who played quite possiblty the best JazzFest performance)
Leo Nocentelli

The entire line up is HERE.

To top it off, Karl Denson Trio (KD3) - Sunday night at Tipitinas! Saw the KD3 about this time last year at Chelsea's Cafe in Baton Rouge, and was flat blown away. If you've ever seen Karl Denson play - you get that joke! Here's what I mean...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catching Up with Ironbabe Jane

Meet Ironbabe Jane. I think you can figure out which one is her from the picture I stole from her blog!



Jane and I go way back - to the 4th grade! It's sometimes frightening to think about how long ago that truly was! Anyway, I haven't seen Jane since we graduated highschool, or perhaps a couple of times at LSU. That was a long while ago too! Through about 4 degrees of blog-o-sphere separation I ran across Jane's blog – Born Again Athlete. It turns out we both ended up in Houston. Trust me when I say, where we grew up was way different than Houston! We made contact, and met up last night!

It's really cool chatting with Jane. After such a long time, it’s intriguing to “re-meet” someone. It's impressive seeing the evolution in Jane (the blog name makes so much sense) and yet also see the core that has remained throughout the years. Sometimes life isn't predictable - but isn't that the beauty of it?

Beautiful weather, good beers, interesting conversation sums up the evening. It was fun recalling things such as grade school memories of playing typing games on (if I remember right) a Commodore 64 computer!

I even got some great cooking tips: for example – don’t use bacon fat to make a gumbo roux!

ALL THIS TALK OF THE OLD DAYS...
... makes me think about getting older. We often associate aging with the negative. But if we make the choice to evolve, grow and improve ourselves - getting older is actually an advantage. Think about it. When you're 8-years old...you pretty much have to be who your parents tell to be. But as we get older, we get an increasing ability to make our own choices. If we choose correctly, we can become more true to our unique and often latent personalities. (Although, observation shows having a domineering spouse, or children sometimes stifle this from happening.) Sometimes the results are surprising even to ourselves! Maybe we should never "grow up"? "Growing up" implies a completion - a stop in growth. That doesn't seem like a good thing to me.

MAYBE THAT'S WHY WE LIKE TO COMPETE?
I think there's a common misconception about athletic and motorsport competition. People have the perception that it's all about winning. That really isn't true for most of us. It's about the constant improvement of ourselves: physically, mentally, emotionally. I could probably list 20 things in my life that have improved since I started cycling. It makes the time, money, and effort dedicated to cycling seem like a bargain!

Does there ever come a point where we cannot improve any more? I hope not. That would be pretty boring.

IT’S HLLE BEING DYSLEXIC
The sad part is I drove by this sign three times before I figured out what was wrong with it. It was up for almost the entire week…

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday's Huntsville Adventure!

Saturday was one of those Gift of God beautiful days. Being indoors on such a day would be snubbing Mother Nature. Early morning I split for Huntsville State Park for a ride.

Trees, sunshine, a bike, and some trail. What more could one need?






The trails were in good shape with only one notable carry around wet spot. The sand was ever present. I'm getting better at handling the sand. It's kinda fun to jump on a pedal and have your back wheel slide sideways instead of going forward. Good for the concentration, and a constant reminder to manage your momentum.

To add to the beauty of the day, the Lake Raven outfall was flowing just a bit of water.



The sound of the trickling water just added to the moment. I stopped and rested for a few moments. I could have taken a nap! The water flow had Chinquapin Creek up a bit. I haven't seen water in the creek bed before...


Being from south Louisiana, clear water mezmerizes me. Where I grew up the water is always the about the color of chocolate milk!

The riding was good, but as the morning wore on, it was getting crowded with riders and hikers. Glad I came out early!









WHAT IS THAT?
After returning to my truck, I was greeted with something on the hood. It looked like leftovers from a fish gutting operation! I have no idea how it got there, or even what it was. I wasn't too interested in finding out either! Let's just say it was gross. After getting in the truck to head out back home I couldn't help but look at the mess on my hood.



There was no way I was going to stare at this all the way home. So, I decided to head north to Huntsville to find a car wash. After exiting off of I45 and roaming about near the Sam Houston State campus I located a car wash, and pulled in...



Time to give Rufus (my truck's nickname) a bath. Now, understand I haven't washed this truck in years. Literally, it's been probably two years! It's a nice tan color - the color of dirt! But today was the big day - sort of. The carwash took $2.00 in quarters. Luckily, a quick scan of the ashtray revealed exactly 8 quarters. YIPPEE!


First I hit the "stuff" with the foamy brush...














...then the super duper high pressure water blaster nozzle kabob!



But before I was done rinsing, I'd run out of time. Apparently $2.00 buys about 3-minutes of carwash time... A quick look around, and I found a change machine! YEA! Unfortunaly, I only had a $20 bill! Fortunately, the machine takes $20's, but man, that's a lot of change!


















Now I have enough change to drive around the entire beltway! (I've always wanted to do that, just for giggles!) I finished up rinsing all the foam and soap, but didn't wash the whole truck. I think that would have cost about $50! Now it's half dirty/half clean!

QUAINT HUNTSVILLE


Since I was already in Huntsville, and in need of another cup of coffee, I decided to roam around town for a bit. The city reminds me a lot of my adopted hometown of Natchitoches, LA. Sam Houston State's campus seems to be about the size of Northwestern's. It has a similar cozy feel.

My exploration brought me to a quaint little downtown area. Some seemingly interesting antique shops and a couple of possibilities for eating. I may come and check this out sometime...

I ended up getting my coffee at a place right off of Sam Houston State's campus called Kaldi's. It was good! The I booked it for Houston to get ready for the LSU v. Auburn football game...

SWEET REWARD!

Saturday officially marked the end of my first training cycle of 2008! The Prep phase is over! Now training gets more fun. I can finally add some speed drills. There are still lots of endurance level miles ahead, but having some variation to the base miles really makes training more fun.

To celebrate the occasion, I had a couple of my favorite beers, Full Sail Pale Ale. Yummy!

Next week is a Rest and Relax week. I don't really feel the need for it, but will take it anyway. I'm sure when I'm in the throws of the hard part of my training I'll be glad I took this time off! Couldn't come at a better time, as I'll be in New Orleans next weekend for Voodoo fest and other festivities!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tip of The Day #3

Camelbak tip again...

It's a good idea to remove the bite valve from the drink tube when storing your camelbak bladder in the freezer. But that's not the tip of the day.

Don't Forget To Put The Bite Valve On!

Today, I pull the bladder out, fill with water and hit the trail. As it often does, a bit of ice forms in the very bottom of the bladder... about half-way into ride, ice melts, and water streams out! Good thing I had extra water packed!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Funny


Co-worker at a previous company... I wonder what he'd do with a laptop?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Can't See Speed

... goes the saying in motor sport. From my experience, it's true. Watching a a car on the race circuit, you can't really tell who is fastest. The guy out there sliping, sliding, and wringing the last -ish- of traction out of his tires LOOKS fast. He looks like the guy trying the hardest. But often, he's trying so hard because, the car is not working well!

I'm finding the same it true for biking...

After tonight's ride I downloaded the data from my GPS. I noticed something odd. I covered seven more miles in my two hours than I had when I started my base miles three weeks ago. I literally *yawned* on this ride. Boring... is what I was thinking as I rode. Yet, progress has been made. The stopwatch removes all doubts...

The lesson here... speed is only a preception. With absolutely ZERO focus on speed (base miles) the speed has come - although the rides have grown progressively more boring, and more effortless. Lao Tzu would be proud of that statement. That's pretty much Daoism in a nutshell. Philosophy, athletic training, health, it's all related.... not sure how... probably never will... but the journey is fun!

RIDER DOWN!
Never a good scene. A bike, someone lying on the ground and an ambulance...



Ran across on this while riding along Heights Blvd. The rider is a regular along the bike lane. Don't know him, but seen him many times. I didn't interrupt the emergency personnel, but after the ambulance departed I inquired with one of the paramedics "Hit and Run, or fall?" He answered "Fall." Don't know what happened, and don't want to speculate, but hopefully I'll see this guy again soon!

Man, it's been a long time since I've done photojournalism! I miss it!

Be careful out there folks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

HUET Training

Yesterday I did a Helicopter Underwater Egress Training (HUET) course. The idea behind this course is to teach how to get out of a submerged helicopter. In the Gulf of Mexico the majority of helicopter operations are done with single engine choppers. Naturally, any powerplant failure means you will be getting wet! While twin enigne birds are getting more common, they have two engines because they can't fly on one! All helo's are equipped with inflatable floating skids. These skids are a nice idea and work well. However, invariably the waves and swell of the ocean end up flipping the chopper upside down almost instantly. Like this guy from a just few weeks ago:



From reading historical accident reports in the gulf, most helicopters make it safetly to the water. If you get out of the helicopter, you have an almost certain chance for survival (the USCG rawks!). Getting out is what proves to be difficult for most victims. This is why the training is becoming a requirement. The helicopter above is a great example. Three people were on board, and there were no injuries.

The morning was spent in a classroom learning basic stuff, and was pretty boring. The fun began when we got to the pool. We started by learning survival floating techniques. These included how to put on a life jacket in the water, survival float positions, and using clothing as floatation devices. All good stuff to know. Final was the HUET simulator. Here, you strap into a simulator, get dropped under water, and flipped upside down. You then have to open the door, unlatch your seat belt, and exit the simulator. The key is to memorize a reference to the door frame so you know where it is. Trust me - when you are submerged under the water and flipped over, you are completely disoriented.

The simulator was similar to this one...



Here is a short animation video of a simulator in action on this page:

CLICK TO OPEN

I'm not going to lie, it was absolutely terrifying the first time! I'm a bit clausterphobic to begin with. Being in an enclosed space, underwater, and completely disoriented is not something to look forward to! It took me some time to relax - which is the key - be relaxed and don't panic. I wasn't scared of not getting out. I was scared I would panic. Truthfully, I wasn't sure how I would react.

My first dunk, I got completely lost. I managed to get out, but I went out the wrong side! Oops! Instead of going out the door right next to me, I went out the opposite side. I had no idea I was going the wrong way! So we repeated it, this time I went the right way, opened the *correct* door and got out the correct side. The next dunk you have to go across the simulator then out the door on the opposite side - what I did incorrectly the first time. After the third dunk, my confidence had grown, and it was beginning to get almost "fun". I got to do a couple of more dunks and it's second nature at this point.

I knew the concepts behind getting out of a submerged chopper before the course. But there is no substitute for having to get out of the simulator. It's harder than it looks - the first time. But it's easier than it looks after doing it a few times. This is the purpose of the course. The training works. It should be mandatory for everyone flying offshore in a helicopter. It is super-valuable training!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Opportunities Lost

Saturday was one of THOSE days. I lost out on my opportunity to trail ride for the weekend. I set my alarm wrong and didn't wake up until almost 9:00 AM. OOPS! No time for a drive to Huntsville State Park before the LSU vs. UK game. The game *should* have been over at about 5pm, so I planned for a local ride when it was over, or most likely before the end when LSU had the game in hand...

BUT!

LSU never got the game in hand. In fact, my beloved Tigers continued the theme of lost opportunities and lost the game in the 3rd overtime. The game lasted until almost 7:00 PM. After turning down several offers of suicide watch (just kidding!), I decided to make a ride in the dark. It was good to work out the frustration of watching a potential national championship slip away. I had tickets lined up and everything!

HAPPY (_!_)
I'm happy to report that the Specialized Phenom saddle suits my derriere! About two minutes of spinning on the bike was all it took to appreciate the comfort over the Spec saddle. It's lighter, too. Here's what it looks like installed:




The only thing that concerns me is that the back end of the saddle is really edgy. I have taken the seat into the stomach when hanging off the back for a descent. The old saddle was pretty thick and padded, but still made a heck of a bruise! This saddle is almost a knife edge, though. I really don't want to take this saddle to the upper crotchital area!

Otherwise, the saddle is great. Really easy to get behind it, really easy to sit on it, doesn't snag shorts on the front. With about 6-hours of riding time, my only regret is not getting this saddle sooner!


I'm going to go through an entire re-fitting of the bike sometime next week, so the comfort will only get better.

IS THAT FALL I'M FEELING?
Went for a rare early morning ride today. I'm not a morning person, but this was my only opportunity to ride, so I butched up and woke up. I acutally caught some chills at the start! Not sure what the temp was, but there was no mistaking, there was some cold to the air that wasn't there a few weeks ago. I'm also noticing that it's getting dark on the tail end of my evening riding too... ready or not... here comes the fall!

WATER SURVIVAL TRAINING
Tomorrow will be a "no ride" day. I'll be spending the day in a pool learning how to survive if I'm ever in a helicopter crash in the Gulf. I've been through this before, and it's actually fun. Complete with a mockup of a helicopter they dunk you into the pool, then flip you upside down in. More on it tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Like Christmas For My @$#

When I bought the Stumpy last year, I did a good deal of reading online. Almost everyone loved the bike, but almost everyone hated the spec saddle. I kept the spec saddle, and yes, it made my booty hurt. For me it was hard to judge if this was the saddle's fault or my derrière’s. I hadn't been riding with any regularity so my backend was going to be tender regardless. Anything short of a Laz-y-Boy was going to hurt - some. I can't stand blaming equipment for personal weakness - that's what wimpos do!

However, after the long base rides of the past three weeks, my bahonkus has had it! I ended up with four days of rest over the weekend due to the Petite LeMans ALMS race. Got back on the bike and my @#$ still hurts! The legs feel great and have recovered but not the buttocks. I'm not letting my assular endurance be a limiter to my training. After nine months of regular riding, I'm pretty sure it's the saddle not my wimpiness. So, I ordered a new saddle...

…which was delivered by FedEx today!



No matter how old you get opening a package filled with a goodie still feels good!

The saddle is a Specy Phenom. It came highly recommended by several people, and the cost was reasonable. I'll install it tonight. Full report to follow shortly…

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tip Of The Day #2

When storing your Camelbak in the freezer, take out your camera!

One of the smarter ideas I've read is to store your Camelbak in the freezer. Simply empty it, take off the bite valve and drop it in. This way you don't have to dry out the bladder to keep grunge from growing in it. The cold prevents it. Great idea. However, it's also a good idea to take your digital camera out! I left mine in yesterday. Removing it into the pure humidity of Houston air causes condensation - just like a frosty mug. Water and electronics don't mix... so, I took out the battery, put it in the fridge to "thaw", and will put it in from of the airconditioner vent today to hopefully get most of the moisture out of it... I hope it works!

The "Pain" of Base Miles

I'm still doing base miles. I miss and crave the sense of speed. Sometimes I think that Friels calls for the large amount of prepatory base miles to make you more hungry when it comes time to push your limits. Your choice - the boredom and monotony of base miles or the pain of intervals and race effort rides... I'll take pain for $500, Alex...

This isn't to say that base miles are unneccessary. I made the mistake of not doing enough of them last year. When it came time to train hard, I fell flat. This was a costly training mistake. After that it was difficult to follow my training plan, and I got off track. They are necessary. I've just got the craving in my belly for greater challanges... patience isn't one of my strengths!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tip Of The Day

Pee before you go on a Zone 2 base ride.

I sweat a lot. So, on most rides, the majority of my liquid intake simply goes out the skin. The bladder doesn't fill. BUT! Yesterday's Zone 2 ride didn't make me pour from my pores. The result, 45-minutes in and I had to GO. BAD! Luckily, I saw what looked to be a pretty serious roadie turning into his driveway on Heights Blvd. Maybe he'd be sympathetic... "Hey buddy, this is going to sound wierd, but can I borrow your bathroom?" "Sure!". Strange way to make friends...