Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mark's Summer

Mark is having a very busy summer. On the 10th he left for a two-week camping trip in New York with his friend Max & Max's dad. They went to Fish Creek Pond, and apparently had a total blast. In addition to two weeks in a tent, fishing and boating and kayaking, the boys also played basketball and soccer and volleyball, biked and started a running program (6 miles a day). Max is awesome that way, he really pushes Mark on his athletics. Max is 16 and going into his junior year, so he also knows the ropes at the high school, which is totally awesome for Mark. Love Max.

They were supposed to come home on the 24th, arriving at about 2:30pm, and indeed started out, but had a breakdown in Vermont, in the TINY little town of Cabot, population about 1200. Mark said the people were very friendly, but it creeped him out a little bit that the entire town seemed to know all about them in about 15 minutes. All day long, every person they saw opened with "oh, you must be the guys with the boat who broke down." Everyone was super-nice to them, though.

After spending several hours waiting to find out what was wrong with the truck, they found out that it wasn't going to be able to be fixed until Monday. Mark called with that information, and I made ready to drive 5 hours to go pick him up. Then he called back and said never mind, they were going to rent a car and come home that way. THEN he called and said that they couldn't do that, the rental places were closed (the nearest one was about an hour away from them also), and that Max's sister was coming to get them. Which ended up being the final plan.

They were expecting to get home about 2am on Saturday, but this-and-that delays made it so he rolled in at 4am. I hadn't slept at all, waiting up for him, so Saturday as a whole was pretty much a blur. He insisted he wasn't tired, and wouldn't even try to get a couple of hours' sleep before his dad picked him up for the day.

Then, at 4pm on Saturday, he went to his cousins' house for a late graduation party. There was a HUGE food fight (planned ahead of time), and everyone got totally disgusting. Kim (the twins' mom) literally hosed everyone down afterwards. I saw the footage (in addition to some video, there were about 1000 photos taken, so it was all captured), and it was really really gross. And looked like a blast. Mark was really happy to be able to hang out with his friends again, they all get along so wonderfully, and I know he's going to miss that when they all drift apart come fall.

I picked him up at 8, we stopped in to say hi to my parents and some out-of-state company (who hadn't seen Mark in several years), and then we got back to the house and I made him go right to bed. Not much argument though.

Sunday morning, up bright and early to pack him up and take him to UMaine for basketball camp! That was really weird, driving Mark and his gear to my alma mater, and bringing him to a dorm and leaving him. A definite taste of bringing him to college. eek I met his roommate for the week, who seemed really nice and someone who would get along famously with Mark. They're going to be busy this week! Daily schedule:

8:30 am—Free play in field house
9:00 am —Attendance / Stretching
9:15 am—Team Improvement Drills/Team Practice
9:40 am — Games / Competitions
10:30 am— Games / Competitions
11:30 am —Lunch
1:00 pm —Recreation Time
1:45 pm — Instructional Skill Stations
2:55 pm — Games / Competitions
3:45 pm — Games / Competitions
4:35 pm — Game situations instruction—lecture
5:00 pm — Dinner
6:45 pm — Team competitions —1 on 1/3 on 3
7:25 pm— Games / Competitions
8:15 pm — Games / Competitions
9:05 pm — Commuter pick-up /Return to dorms

Mark is gonna looooooooove it. He's all about the basketball. Got a text from him that night (he got a TracFone for his birthday in June):

* This camp rocks, my team kicks ass, and im having da BEST time!!!

So I guess that's going well. :D

I go pick him up on Thursday, at which time our friends from Florida will be here (they stay with my parents), so we'll be cramming in a lot of fun activities with them.

Then, holy cow, Mark will actually have about a week of no scheduled stuff.

August 13th he has a physical, which will allow him to play sports in high school.

The 14th he will be leaving for the weekend to hike Katahdin with X's in-laws. He did that last year, too, and had a fabulous time, although he was then VERY sore for several days. He's not allowed to be sore this year, because he comes back on the 16th and on the 17th:

Soccer tryouts start. A weeklong thing, twice-daily. Mornings from 7-8 are stretching and running, and evenings from 6-8 are drills and scrimmages. His performance over the week will determine which team he is on (freshman, junior varsity, or --unlikely-- varsity), and practices start the next week.

Then the 31st is his first day of high school.

So much for a relaxing summer, eh??? mk

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dig It

I got a laptop a couple of weeks ago for my birthday (I'm on it now, in fact). My friend Steve gave it to me. Now, ordinarily there is NO WAY I would accept a gift that extravagant, but there were some extenuating circumstances that made this okay.

First, it's not a brand-new laptop. (although it *is* kick-ass. HP pavilion zd7000, originally sold for $2600!!!) He got it by barter.

The barter is the especially cool part. He got the laptop in exchange for servicing the guy's LBT (loader-tractor-backhoe) and his excavator. WHICH he taught me how to do. And how to operate both.

So, I got to change the oil, the oil and fuel filters, and grease the pivot points on both of those (got totally filthy of course). On the excavator, we also had to check the track tension, which meant that I had to pivot the cab 90 degrees, then lower the bucket to the ground and continue to push it down so that it lifted the entire excavator (with me in it!) off the ground on that side. Lower, then rotate around to the other side and do it again. THEN, I got to drive it up the hill a-ways and play with it for awhile, digging holes.

It was a TOTAL COMPLETE BLAST. I had *so* much fun!!!!! (yes, my idea of fun is odd)

And hey, we have video. My favorite:

OK, that's not my favorite. I'll switch it out later. :) mk

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Taking a Brake

Today I replaced the front brake pads and rotors on my parents' van. Meaning, **I** replaced them. My friend Steve (who is an absolute wizard with anything mechanical) taught me how to do it, but I did the labor.

I loosened the lug nuts, jacked the van, took the lug nuts off, took off the tire, compressed the piston, removed the caliper, the brake pads, the rotor, put on the new brake pads & rotor, reinstalled the caliper, put the tire back on, put the lug nuts back on, lowered the van, and torqued the lug nuts.

I get an incredible kick out of learning how to do things like that. Even if I never replace another set of brakes ever, I now *own* this information, this knowledge of how to do it, and that I *can* do it. It's a wicked rush for me.

Wonder what I'm gonna do cool tomorrow. mk

Monday, July 13, 2009

5, 17, 32, Hike!

I haven't done a lot of hiking in my life. I live in arguably the most beautiful state in the country, but I just haven't done a lot of it. The last one I went on was over a year ago (and maybe a mile. maybe). And I've never been on one alone.

There's a very popular hiking trail that I drive past every time I go to Rockland. I had no idea where it went, how long, or anything, but hiking it made it to my 101 list.

And today was the day.

I put together my pack, got my hiking boots on (don't ask why I have hiking boots if I don't really hike...I have no idea), and drove to the parking area. I figured I'd hike an hour out, and then turn around and come back in.

3 minutes in, I wondered how long it had been since I had taken a real breath. My breathing has fallen into a pattern of being very shallow, which does NOT work well when hiking. Do not try it. I had to work (and actively think about it) to take full, deep breaths, which helped a LONG way in convincing my body that it really didn't need to collapse. How embarrassing to have to turn around so quickly. It was *not* going to happen.

A few minutes after I started giving my body real oxygen, hiking got a lot easier. I really started to enjoy myself. The sounds of traffic died away, and I was just surrounded by trees and rocks and birds in the trees. It was gorgeous, and very relaxing.

The trails on Georges Highland Trail are very well marked and easy to follow. A great deal of the hike (the part where you skirt around Mirror Lake) is pretty easy, but there's enough up-and-down to keep it interesting. Once you started up the mountain on the other side, there were some pretty steep sections that were a little more challenging (or in my case, what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking-when-you-decided-to-do-this-oh-my-god-I-think-I'm-going-to-die level). It looked like this:

But it felt like this:

An hour in, I hadn't quite reached the top, but it was tantalizingly close, and I was damned if I'd done all that steep crap and then bug out without having seen any amazing views. So I trudged on.

I had planned to take a quick water break every fifteen minutes. That worked well the first 45 minutes or so. Then I hit that hell-climb, and it was more like two minutes, rest. Two minutes, swear, rest. Finally I got past that part, and shortly after that, I hit this:

I *almost* stopped there, and in fact did take quite a long rest break, relaxed, recharged. Then I pushed on further, and reached the top (or as near as the path gets to it) and was further rewarded with this:

The climb back down went, of course, much faster, although I was forcibly reminded of the bunions on my toes, and also that I had ripped my knee in Alaska hiking *down* the path. Knee gave some twinges, but it held me up, and amazingly I didn't twist my ankle or really injure myself in any way. I only needed one break, and that was about 45 minutes into the trek back.

Altogether, I was gone 3 hours, and hiked about 5 miles. Not too shabby, thinks I. mk