Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Reversing exercise...

...times, that is!

I've been working out at the gym after work, and trying to sneak in a walk (for sanity's sake, of course) during the day. Walking during the day hasn't been working too well lately because it's been really cold. Walking outside when I'm dressed for cold temperatures is fine, but walking outside when I'm in my normal work attire is not as pleasant when the temperature is below 30. And work attire plus a jacket is my normal dress for walking during the work day. I need to get back to my twice a day active behavior.

Today we had a company meeting that stretched from 1 to 5 PM. That meant that I would be leaving work a good hour later than normal. I could have adjusted my start time, but somehow I still walked in to the office at 7:30 AM. So I decided to use that extra time by heading to the gym for a late morning exercise session. That was a good break, a good workout, and a relatively quiet time at the gym. I think I'll try that again...

The problem? When I got back to the office, several people with very worried looks on their faces came up to me with the question "Where were you? We were trying to figure out if we needed to call someone!". Oops! I don't really consider being gone for 75 minutes to be a large chunk of time, but it was long enough to make some of my co-workers nervous. It's nice to know that people care. But honestly, I wonder if their level of concern would be as high as it is if I hadn't taken that tumble from my bike so long ago. (How long ago? Believe it or not, I'm under 3 months away from the 2-year anniversary of that fateful day. And yes, it's still engraved on my memory!)

I think I'm going to have to try that exercise reversal more often. When I walk during the day, I'm usually only away from my desk for a half an hour. If I extend that time away to 75 minutes, I can get a solid hour in at the gym (which luckily is across the street from my office). And if I leave work a half an hour later than I have been - maybe I can get an hour's fast-walk in at night too. Well, probably not every day. But getting back to a double dose of exercise a couple of days a week would feel really good, and hopefully will help me build up to my bicycle-commuting to work several days a week once the days lengthen a bit more - and get warmer too. (Yes, you're right, it's really too early in the year to think about that. It's good to dream though.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Layers and layers and...

...layers and layers!

Brrr! Another cold evening... My intent was to head to the gym after work, but I just couldn't face exercising inside. Somehow a brisk walk on a very cold evening seemed more appealing. It was just 20 degrees out which in the overall scheme of things isn't that cold. But add the light wind, and the level of cold definitely increased. The good news is that it is late enough in the winter that I really have figured out the right layers to help me stay reasonably warm.

As I was briskly heading towards home - walking on the side of the road to take advantage of the less icy and smoother pavement (than the sidewalk) - I met a woman with a very attentive Scottie. The Scottie, in her nice red coat, came over to check me out. Her owner said she (the dog, that is) was fascinated – no, mesmerized by my flashing blue lights.

I believe that this may be a case where the dog has more sense than humans. I'm still amazed that most of the people I see outside walking and running in the dark are wearing nothing to make them more visible. In fact, I've seen people at night wearing dark clothing (without even reflective patches) who are happily running in the road.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A computer kind of day

Ah, what to do with a beautiful but very cold Sunday? I did manage an hour long walk in the afternoon, dressed in layers and layers and... The temperature just barely topped the 20 degree mark, and the wind just kept right on blowing. I didn't even consider asking one of my bikes to join me. In fact, I really had to convince myself that it was a good day to walk. I'm glad that I won that argument; as always it was good to be out in the sunshine.

The rest of the day was definitely a computer kind of day. I have been planning to update the article I published (several years ago) about choosing a digital camera for touring. Ever since I jumped off that cliff in January (figuratively, that is) and bought myself a digital SLR along with 2 lenses, I knew that it would be a good thing to share that decision with some of my fellow touring cyclists. After all, I'm sure that I'm not the only person who was considering adding another camera to my touring gear... I spent a good part of today at my computer, thinking, writing. Even though I know how long it takes to write, it still surprised me that I needed to spend so many hours creating, writing, sharing thoughts.

I think the end result is good, although I have no real idea if my reasoning and decision will really help anyone else. No matter, the article is updated; it will be interesting to see if I get any reactions. And reviewing the article, it occurs to me that even though I wrote it with the thoughts of a touring cyclist, it really applies to anyone who is considering jumping into the world of digital photography. If you're interested, you can read my article at here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snow-woman, walking

Snow-woman? That was definitely me...

The morning dawned cold and sunny, but the blue early morning sky turned to gray very quickly. I considered a quick jaunt on my bike before the predicted mid-day start of the snow, but the cold, cold temperature along with a brisk wind convinced me that walking was a better choice. Of course, I headed out of the door at just the right time to ensure that my entire fast walk would be in the snow.

I had to laugh when I looked at myself in the mirror right after I walked back into my warm home. Yes, I should have taken a picture; but I didn't! My hat was caked with snow, and my very red (and cold) face included droplets of water beading under my eyes and on my cheeks. It really was a good walking day though.

Ah, a picture of a dry me, before my walk in the storm. This is part of my ongoing attempts to capture the healing progress from my May 2004 impact with the pavement. What are probably permanent marks on my face are still there, but somehow it does appear that the amount of red is fading. And yes, I do wish that I had grabbed my camera when I returned from my walk instead of before my walk!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Did you have to jump?

Wow! I don't think I could jump out of a plane - even tethered to a skydiving instructor. But my niece Bari is studying in Australia for a semester, and her great adventure started with a couple of weeks in New Zealand. I think the most tame activity she participated in was backpacking, and she managed to go white water rafting, bungy jumping and skydiving too. I wonder if there were any quiet moments included in her visit...

Bari - is this really you?
Photo courtesy of nzone

Language mismatch?

I received an email from United Airlines earlier this week that I couldn't read. The title?

The from address was in English, and embedded in what to me was unreadable text was the url so I knew where the email originated.

Spam? Not this time... I did supply my email address to the airline for use in their mileage program. So instead of the annoyance I feel with spam that makes it through filters and floats across my inbox, this message was a curiosity and brought a smile to my face - especially when I received an apology email from United.

The email address I use for this type of correspondence is actually forwarded to two places - my primary email account, and my Gmail account (so I can check email from the road if I happen to be wandering on my bike). I found it interesting that the ads displayed in Gmail were also in Japanese. Interesting, but practical. I'm so used to looking at the English language in my normal character set that I never thought about the use of language as part of the targeting of ads.
Can't read the Japanese characters included above? They look like a series of empty boxes? Don't worry, you may not have the supporting character set installed on your computer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A morning turkey greeting

The turkeys are here! The turkeys are here!

There is a flock of turkeys that sometimes visits my office (yes, I do mean outside!), and they definitely made their presence known this morning. Strutting around on the grass, chasing each other, males showing the glory of full tails. There were two surprises this morning - the sheer number of turkeys trotting around the parking lot and the grass, and the fact that several of the females were perched in a tree. I have to admit that I've never seen them off of the ground before. Funny...

So tell me, why is it that I still haven't learned to always have a camera with me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Please, stay on vacation!

I think this happens every year, but it surprises me every year too. This week, coinciding with the President's Day holiday, is school vacation week in this area. And I'm absolutely amazed at the difference in the traffic patterns.

My morning commute in the non-biking season is always by car. Sometimes I take the highway (I-93 to Route 128), but more often as I drive over I-93 I see heavy traffic and I stay on surface streets. Avoiding the highway's heavy traffic gets me to work faster, and also lessens morning aggravation level. But this week? I find it hard to believe that everyone who has children takes this week off - and if my office is anything to judge by, they don't. And school children don't drive on the highways...

The roads have been clear all week, with traffic absolutely flying. While I'd love to have the week off too, I'm just as happy having the easy drive commuting days.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A case of degrees

Ah, what a difference ten degrees makes! Today it was in the low 30s when my bike and I rolled out of the house - as opposed to the low 20s yesterday. The wind was still there, but at a much lower velocity. I think I'm remembering why I like wandering on my bike!

Someone needs to set the weather wizard straight though. The forecast for the work week is for 40 degree days, but the forecast for next weekend is back into the 30s. (OK Denise, stop complaining - after all it is still winter!)

We are approaching the last week in February though; only 4 more weeks until the official first day of spring. No, I don't believe that the weather will magically change on March 2oth, but it's OK to dream, right?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Brrr.... (yet again!)

The weekend days dawned with clear blue skies, but the wind that started on Friday decided to hang around for a while - along with cold temperatures. Brrr!

Yesterday was a walking day; I couldn't convince myself that there was any way I could stay warm on my bike. I know that I was right given that I only managed to walk for 45 minutes. That's a short time for me for a weekend walk. With the combination of temperatures in the high 20s plus a significant wind - well, I had to cut my outdoor walk short before I ended up with frozen fingers!

Today dawned still cold, and while the wind was constant, it was much quieter than yesterday. So yes, one of my purple bikes insisted on joining me for a ride. In keeping with the temperature, it was a short ride - only 15 miles. I did a couple of very small loops so that I was never more than 3 or 4 miles from home. Better to ride a somewhat boring loop than to head further from home and run the risk of getting chilled and having a long ride to get back to a warm shower. I have to admit that it crossed my mind that getting a flat today would have been a really really bad thing. I don't think my hands would have been too happy changing a tire in that cold!

Packaging hope...

...and sending it to my brother

Does hope, packaged with love, and sent to someone you love or care about have any bearing on reality? It seems that good thoughts sent by many people should help. And please don't tell me that I have lost my own connection with reality; I am painfully aware of my inability to change his situation.

Neal - for whatever it's worth, know that there are many of us out here sending lots of hope and good wishes your way.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Annual celebrations? Gone!

Well Dad, I wish your idea of declaring a birthday & anniversary-free zone could contribute to not allowing bad things to happen. I like the idea, but unfortunately sometimes life is totally out of our control.

So where did this idea come from? It started with my own flip with my bike (or should I say crash?) back in May of 2004, just 2 days before Dad's birthday. And the second push - I think, no, I know that this one was the real impetus for the statement - was Neal's cancer diagnosis, which came on Mom & Dad's anniversary. OK, you're right Dad - neither of these could be classified as good news. In fact, I'd classify the anniversary-day news as awful. But really - celebrating or acknowledging your birthday or anniversary did not cause these bad things. I wish...

Friday, February 17, 2006

I can see the wind!

No really, I did see it this afternoon! Crazy windy weather was forecast for today, and while we could see the trees swaying in the morning, it didn't appear to be anything that fit with this forecast:

...Forecast courtesy of the National Weather Service
But then, everything changed. Just before 1 o'clock, the sky turned a very dark shade of gray. The rain started, and it was quickly joined by hail. And both the water and the little white particles of hail were definitely falling sideways, riding on that crazy wind. And of course, you know me - I had to go outside to feel the wind for myself. No, I didn't get wet; I was able to stand under a very wide overhang on the building.

Within a very short period of time, the precipitation disappeared and the sky changed to a crystal clear blue. The temperature must have dropped at least 10 degrees when that front came through, and gusts of close to 60 miles per hour were recorded in Boston. Wow!

Standing on one leg

I found the flamingos at the San Diego Zoo fascinating. They are beautiful birds, but why do they stand on one leg? They are so tall, you'd think a single-legged stance would cause a balance problem. It doesn't appear to, and they even add a twist for sleeping - standing on one leg plus wrapping their neck (with head attached, of course!) around their very pink bodies.

One of my work colleagues helped find an answer - or maybe I should call it a non-answer - by checking Google. Several answers to the question "Why do flamingos stand on one leg?" can be found at The answers vary from comfort, blood pressure, body heat (do you suppose that less heat is really lost in cold water if only one foot is in the water?), to the suggestion that the one-legged stance is a camouflage technique. I'm not sure I believe any of these answers - in fact, maybe the answer is simply "because they can!".

Many thanks are due to the flamingos at the San Diego Zoo for happily posing for these pictures!

A one-legged stance, calm and quiet

Ah, time to sleep - still on one leg, but with head and neck resting curled around body. And yes, there really are 5 birds in this picture.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Breezy? blustery?

Aren't they the same thing? Our nice warm week is supposed to be replaced with much colder weather for the weekend. (That figures, doesn't it?) And I find the use of words in the weather forecast fascinating. Right now, the National Weather Service is stating that Saturday will be breezy, and Sunday will be blustery.

I think it's time to consult the dictionary...

breezy: swept by breezes.
breezes: a) a light gentle wind b) a wind of from 4 to 31 miles (6 to 50 kilometers) an hour
blustery: a violent boisterous blowing
...definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online
Isn't the English language interesting? It seems to me that both days could be classified using the same word, since the description of the (rest of the) forecast for both Saturday and Sunday seems to be almost identical.

Two feet, not two wheels...

The weather wizard is not being kind to those of us who like to play outside but who also need to work during the day. The past couple of days have been a marvelous tease of spring-like weather, with temperatures in the low 50s. My bicycles keep telling me that they want to play outside, but my work days have been too long for that this week. Even with the sun shrinking to the horizon a good hour later than in the darkest depths of winter, I don't want to be out on the road on a bike after about 5:15. Call me scared, but I'd rather not risk narrow roads at dusk on my bike when other people are rushing toward home in their fossil-fuel-powered vehicles.

It was a good week for walking though, lit up with my flashing red & blue lights. I managed walks of around 2 hours (a half hour mid-day and another hour & a half in the early evening) on each of the last three days. And even though I would have loved to take advantage of that 50 degree weather and wander on two wheels, I'm happy with this week's walking sessions.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cold, sunshine to snow, walking days...

This weekend's forecast made me think that the weather wizard is playing payback games - payback for a mild January, that is. Saturday was cold but beautiful. I chose to take a break from cycling, even though I knew riding a bike wouldn't come even close to being an option today. No regrets though; I had a good wander in Saturday morning's very cold sunshine.

My bikes didn't even enter my mind this morning as I dressed in many layers for a morning walk in the snow. I substituted hiking shoes for my normal running shoes figuring that the heavier soles would make for safer transport through the plowed but still slippery streets. I think I managed to get out during a lull in the snow. Although it was snowing the whole time I was out - and my hat was definitely covered when I walked back into the house - everything was pretty visible out there.

Right now? There seems to be a wall of white outside of my window.

The patterns in the ice were fascinating

Clear ice on top of a small moving stream

Beautiful blue sky under sunshine, and dry ground for a little longer...

And what a difference a day makes! (Or maybe I should say a night...)

An advertising smile

It's not often that ads stuck in the Sunday paper make me smile, but this one did! The ad? It was for Comcast high-speed internet. That's already how my trusty computer is reaching out to the web, so the ad isn't normally one that I would read. But this one just jumped out at me! Oh, you want to know what it said?

Experience that dog's-head-out-of-the-car-window feeling, without all the drool. Woof.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bad news, but holding on to hope

Hope and a positive outlook... The real question is how to hold on to that hope in the face of bad (and unwelcome) news. It's not really my news to write about, but it's in my mind, and in my family conversations. And what's in my mind does seem to make its way into my writing. (If you don't want to hear my thoughts, feel free to stop reading now; you certainly won't hurt my feelings.)

My brother was recently diagnosed with colon cancer that has already spread to his liver. That's in spite of following the recommendation to have a colonoscopy every 5 years (due to family history) instead of the 10 year interval that is normally recommended. And Neal had a colonoscopy just 4 years ago. And he's young, 50 as of mid-December. Very scary...

There is good news mixed with the bad though. Dad called Dr. Cohen, the doc who directed his treatment what seems like a very long time ago (is it 10 years ago? I honestly can't remember...). I'm very impressed that he called Neal not once, but twice. He recommended a doc, and through some magic, Neal's treatment will be directed by Dr. Daniel Haller. He is apparently world-renowned and on the leading edge of treating this disease. (Update on 2/16/06: Dr. Haller has apparently disappeared, but Neal has decided to stay at the University of Pennsylvania for treatment. That is one of the two hospitals in the Philadelphia area that Dr. Cohen recommended as tops in cancer treatment. Chemo starts on 2/17, and the waiting and hoping continues...)

Bad news keeps jumping back in front of my eyes though; perhaps I should take the hint delivered to my brother by his PCP - stay off of the web. My real question is, how can I be supportive? Is there any way that I can help, short of being here to listen? How do you hold on to hope?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

California, with camera

Ah, two days to play with my camera in a different environment. Southern California along the coast, fog lifting, some sunshine...

Pictures in this gallery are from the edge of Balboa Island, from Dana Point, and from the San Diego Zoo. You can wander through my pictures at

This crazy bird was definitely in a posing kind of mood. I wasn't too close to him, but there were a lot of people around; he didn't seem to care.

A scarlet ibis, scurrying among the flamingos.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dark & quiet road, with tolls

Ah, a very early morning drive to LAX...

I had a 7:30 (yes AM!) flight, and I left Dana Point at 4:30. Yes, I left myself a little bit of extra time, knowing that I had to refuel and return a rental car. I took I-5 to route 73 (which is a toll road) to I-405, even though at that early hour on a Sunday morning I really didn't need to worry about traffic.

The road signs were in the center of the road (that is, between the north-bound and south-bound lanes) instead of on the right. I suppose that makes some amount of sense, but given the width of the road it would have made more sense to have the signs centered over the driving lanes. I have to admit that I found the signs almost impossible to read. As it turns out, I believe the problem was caused not by the positioning on the left but by the height of the signs. The signs were hung at a such a high level that normal headlights didn't catch them. It was only if I flicked my high beams on that the lights brought the letters on the sign to visibility. Hmmm... I wonder if that was just a "Denise problem", or if other drivers have the same reaction that I did.

Funny story about the tolls though... Route 73 has what I would consider a pretty expensive toll for a relatively short road. One sign said the toll was $3.50, and another sign said $4.25. I don't know if the toll is time-of-day-related; it could be. So I see the sign saying $3.50, and I put a five dollar bill in the slot. Oh. Only 3 coins came out in change, I guess the toll is $4.25. Nope - it was $3.50. My 3 coins? A Sacajawea dollar plus 2 quarters. I have to admit that I never see the dollar coins around home. I suppose using them for change in a toll machine makes sense. And while I'm happy not to be walking around with lots of dollar coins in change, it seems a shame that this very attractive coin does not see more use.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhogs... please hide!

Ah, the silly winter day labeled Groundhog Day... the end of winter predicted by groundhogs emerging from their winter den. A shadow? Oh no! ...more winter. And while there are clouds in the sky this morning, there is also plenty of blue sky, lots of space for the sun to peak through and cast a shadow.

I'd like to think that winter could be over now, but I do know that it isn't. We had a very mild January, and I think the best my bikes and I can hope for is more reasonable riding (weekend) weather between now and the official first day of spring.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Didn't you tell me...

...that you didn't hit your head?

It's been a bit of a crazy week for me from a health standpoint. It all started with a strange image in my vision on Sunday. I was reading the paper when all of a sudden I saw some jagged lines in the edge of my vision. I thought there was something odd sitting on the counter, but as I looked down and then back up I realized the odd thing was in my vision. It was a shape with jagged and moving edges, not a circle, but an odd shape, kind of big. The jagged edges were perpendicular to the edge, providing a bit of distortion to what I was seeing. Was it in one eye, or both? I have to say that I really don't know. If I closed an eye, I could see it in the other - but if I closed both eyes, I could still see the strange shape. An afterimage? I really don't know.

My disturbed vision lasted about a half an hour, and I have to admit that it scared me enough that I called my doctor's office. (I guess I'm lucky that they have urgent care hours on the weekend...) After a discussion with the doc on call, I headed in to see her. And that's where the quote at the beginning of this blog entry comes from. This was the first time I met this doc. We started talking when she came into the room, and then she took a second look at my face and started to move in closer, saying "I thought you told me that you didn't hit your head!". Ah, no, I didn't. That mark on my face is left from my accident back in May of 2004. I'm so used to it that I forget it's there, but it's still pretty noticeable. It gave me a good laugh in the middle of my concern.

I've still got one more follow-up test tomorrow, but for now I'm going with the thought (diagnosis? or belief, or hope) that what I had was an ophthalmic migraine. Obviously it could turn out to have another cause, and if that happens I'll just have to deal with it. But I really would prefer not to have a repeat of that sensation, a visual disturbance without a headache. I have to say it was an interesting vision though, if I can separate my curiosity with the worry that it wouldn't go away. I wish there was some way I could take a picture of that strange image so that I could share it with you. I guess my description will have to satisfy your curiosity.