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Archive for December, 2006

A difficult ride

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

I finally got to hit the trails yesterday. After reading on Friday on the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association forums that the Brown County trails were in pretty good shape, I planned to ride on Saturday.

The entrance to the parking lot connector was extremely muddy, but after that, it was pretty good except for a few spots. But it’s amazing how much my fitness has declined in the last month or so, since I’ve done very little riding. The biggest problem is my breathing — I had hoped that the fact that I quit smoking over 3 months ago now would outweigh the fact that I haven’t gotten enough exercise in the past month, but it didn’t. I had to stop at least once every mile to catch my breath. I also noticed that I had trouble keeping enough momentum to make it over some of the smaller hills — which are easy with enough momentum, but can be pretty hard if you’re going too slow.

I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one struggling out there. I saw a lot of other people who were having trouble, too, although my breathing is the worst. There was even group walking because one guy had hurt himself. I’m not sure what happened, but he had his arm in an improvised sling.

I had enough trouble that I was pretty tired after the North Tower Loop, and I debated whether to ride the Aynes Loop. I decided to go for it. The climb was even harder than usual — in fact, I think I had to stop more times to catch my breath than I did the first time I rode it. But I made it, and the descent was the best part of my whole ride. I was really riding smoothly during it and got in a good rhythm. The trail was in pretty good shape, except for a couple of switchbacks that were really mud pits. One of them was right on the edge and very muddy, so it was pretty scary. But I just kept on riding and I was fine.

Overall, the ratio of work to fun was tipped a bit in the work direction, but it was still a great ride — especially the Aynes descent. And I’m really glad I got to go — it’s been raining today, and it’s supposed to rain more tomorrow. I probably won’t get to ride again for a while.

Not feeling it

Friday, December 29th, 2006

I think I’m having something of a quarter-life crisis. At almost 27 years old, maybe it seems a little late for this to happen, but I think that’s part of the problem. I’ve only been doing programming work, which is what I always thought I wanted to do, for the past two and a half years or so. Before that, I had assorted tech support jobs to pay the bills since I couldn’t find programming work.

And my last job, which was also my first long-term programming one, was a work from home thing that never felt like the real deal. So in some ways, the job I have now feels like my first “real” job — doing the kind of work I want, on a salaried basis, with benefits and everything — but you know what? It’s just not that great. I do enjoy the work that I do, for the most part, but sometimes, it’s mind-numbingly boring. This is true of most jobs, and I understand that. I was also hoping to be more part of a team in this job, which really isn’t the case.

I’m stressed over the large amounts of debt I’ve managed to accrue, which at this point I’ve whittled down to only student loans — but I’m still looking at paying them off at something like $200/month for the next 10 years. And that’s for just over two years of college; I didn’t even finish. And I still hope to go back to school sometime in the nearish future, but that would be at in-state IU tuition rates — a hell of a lot cheaper than Northwestern.

I just feel incredibly stifled; I lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle for a few years, including when I worked from home. All of that has changed since I moved back to my hometown this summer, got back into outdoor recreation, and got this “real” job. But now I realize how great the flexibility of working from home was, and that I didn’t take advantage of it nearly as much as I should have. These days, if I’m lucky, I can fit in one of the many things I want to do.

All of this is leading me to question all kinds of things. Do I really want to be a programmer? What would I do instead? Should I have bothered going to Northwestern in the first place? (That just seems like a real waste of money at this point.) Am I really as smart as I always thought I was? What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Will I ever amount to a hill of beans?

I’d really like some answers.

Christmas redux

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Christmas was kind of a mixed bag this year. The whole holiday season has been pretty difficult since both of my grandparents died last year, and Grandpa’s death was just two days before Christmas, so we were all very much aware of what we had been dealing with a year ago.

Sarah spent this Christmas with her family. I am truly glad that she was able to do that, things have been very strained with her mother, and Sarah hasn’t been able to spend much time at home because of it. It’s particularly important that she get to spend time with her grandfather, whose health isn’t great. So on those levels, I’m extremely happy that Sarah got to go home — but I’ve missed her a lot.

I went to mom’s on Christmas Eve for dinner and spent the night there. I helped my sister wrap some gifts, which actually turned out to be a lot of fun, because we are both horrible at wrapping things and made fun of each other as we attempted to wrap things.

My nephew (who is eight) jumped on me to wake me up Christmas morning around 7:00. Actually, he informed me, it was probably 7:01 by that time. Then he looked at a clock and announced that in fact, it was already 7:03! Geez, I sure slept in. We had fun opening gifts and hanging out, and I spent basically the whole day there.

Before I left, we watched some slides from when my sister and I were babies and from a trip we took out west back in 1988. I can’t believe it was really that long ago. My family has taken slide photos for many years (although not so much in recent years), and sometimes it’s fun to get out the slide projector and look through a few carousels together. It’s a lot cooler way to look at pictures than looking through a photo album; everyone can see the same picture at the same time and tell stories about them. Usually, everyone remembers something different. That made me want to do some slide photography in the future.

I had hoped to get a bike ride in over the weekend, but didn’t get to. Sunday would’ve been the ideal day for one, but I wasn’t feeling up for it. I thought I’d be able to ride in the afternoon on Christmas, but it was cold and rainy all day. I did ride a little bit on Saturday, although that was primarily for transportation purposes. This did afford me the opportunity to try out the slicks (road tires) I bought, a pair of Kenda Kwest tires (the 100 psi version). For riding around town, they’re fantastic. It’s amazing how much smoother and more efficient the ride is. I’m a little unsure how they’ll fare on gravel roads.

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