October 2008


As the weather dropped under 50 on my morning rides, I started getting the dreaded Runny Nose.

This is something I remember hating about riding, when I rode a few years back. I’d have to bring tissues with me and stop periodically to blow my nose. It is one thing when you’re just riding on a trail for recreation, something else when you’re riding on the road to go to work. It isn’t that I couldn’t stop, more that I’d prefer to avoid it.

People talk about “snot rockets”, but … EW. No thanks.

When it is just sniffles, I can deal with it. When it gets a bit worse, there are other issues. Snuffling too much can cause a sinus headache, and makes me wonder if it is a healthy thing to do. It also leaves you vulnerable to the fact that when you lean over, say to get your badge out of your bag, you will suddenly be dripping all over the place, which is a pretty nasty state to be in when entering the building where you work. Gross.

So I have been in the habit of carrying tissue in my windbreaker pocket and using them strategically at certain lights. It can still be pretty gross, but a controllable gross, and much less gross than the unintended leaking walking into the building.

I got into my head that using a neti pot might work. So of course I started researching. And I found some interesting information about runny noses.

This phenomenon is caused by the same mechanism that causes a runny nose when crying: tears drain through the inner corner of the eyelids through the nasolacrimal duct, and finally into the nasal cavity, where they manifest as a runny nose.

That was interesting to me to read, because my eyes certainly tear up from the cold too. So there is apparently some connection. And for a change, this morning my eyes ran almost the entire ride (it was the coldest ride so far, 37 at home, 29 at work) instead of stopping after the first couple miles. I also had significantly less running of the nose. It made me wonder if the amount of tears is generally the same, but sometimes manifests as a runny nose, and other times as actual tears.

There is also a “non-allergenic rhinitis“, which includes a description that also seemed to apply, at least somewhat, to me:

But in the vasomotor rhinitis sufferer, oversensitive or excessive blood vessel dilation or contraction causes an overreaction to such stimuli as changes in weather, temperature, or barometric pressure, chemical irritants such as smoke, ozone, pollution, perfumes, and aerosol sprays, psychological stress and emotional shocks, certain types of medications, alcohol, and even spicy food. Thus, while a normal person’s nose may run on a very cold day, a vasomotor rhinitis sufferer’s nose may start running (or go completely dry) simply by walking into a slightly colder (or slightly warmer) room, or from eating food that is slightly warmer or cooler than room temperature.

I am not sensitive like that, but it was nice to learn that the running nose on a cold day is normal. Certainly the issue of a runny nose while biking (and running, though to a lesser degree) is common enough to have a special (and specially disgusting) term for how most deal with this: the snot rocket. This is also why you won’t find a pair of biking gloves without the softer and absorbant material in the prime nose-wiping areas.

However, whether the nose running is normal or I have some degree of vasomotor rhinitis, I really want some kind of solution, and one that doesn’t include shooting some drugs up into my nasal passages. Back to the idea of the neti pot, which was included in the “alternative treatments”.

For some patients, rinsing may be the only effective method for clearing the nasal passages, and can benefit the sinuses as well. Rinsing can quickly become the preferred treatment, as the effects can be dramatic, and probably will become a lifetime daily ritual for those with severe disease. You cannot rinse too often, and symptoms each day dictate the frequency of rinsing.

[…]

Unlike other forms of treatment, rinsing will not produce any side effects such as dry throat or mouth, rebound effect, nervousness, or heart palpitations.

So, a neti pot is added to my shopping list.

Based on these articles and others I read, the runny nose should be lessened also by warming the air prior to it entering the nose. Looks like the balaclava needs to be put into play, in addition to the neti pot.

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As the weather has gotten a bit colder, I’ve been getting my first taste of winter riding.

Though, really, it is just October. I can’t imagine that I’m going to look back in January and agree that this was a taste of real winter weather! Still, it is new for me.

And I’ve found that it isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. When I first started the bike commuting, it was with extremely serious intent. I knew I wanted to ride through the winter, and I didn’t let myself think about it too much because I dreaded the hell out of riding in the cold.

But so far, even 35 degree weather hasn’t seemed like that big of a deal. In fact, the most I’ve worn so far is a long sleeve t-shirt and an unlined wind breaker. Not that big a deal.

And then on Monday afternoon it rained. The forecasters totally blew it on Monday, predicting only 30% chance of rain, afternoon temps in the mid to high 50’s….and instead it was a steady rain by the time I went home, and it was 39 degrees – ten degrees cooler on the ride home than the ride in.

Still, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I thought I’d be bone-chilled by the time I got home, but instead I was only moderately chilly, and was mainly concerned with whether my shoes would dry out by morning.

They did.

And it rained again Tuesday morning, the whole way in. 41 degrees.

I learned that my shoes dry out in a matter of hours, though I’m sure it helped that I had them under the desk, where my heater is.

Tuesday afternoon it was dry again. And windy. Windy to the point where I wondered if it was smart for me to be on the road. I can honestly say that the wind yesterday was the most dangerous thing I’ve faced out there on the road, so far. It felt, at times, like the wind was going to pick up my front tire and play ball. That was a tad scary.

But those were just occasional gusts, and the majority of the ride was pretty vanilla.

It was supposed to be windy again this morning. Windy enough (15-25mph winds with 35 mph gusts, potentially picking up later in the afternoon) that I was seriously thinking that from a safety standpoint I might not be able to ride.  I got up this morning, and looked outside.  Dead calm.  I looked at weather.com, and the wind predictions had dropped by 10mph, no discussion of gusts.

And so I rode. The air was still, other than occasional gusting, and even those gusts were nothing to worry about.  I’m so glad I rode.

I know I need to figure out where that line is, certain conditions that make riding unsafe, but for today I’m just happy I was able to ride.

I never thought that the wind would be the limiting factor, back when it was warm and I dreaded riding in chilly weather.

I just got off the phone after an amazingly annoying argument with a man who I don’t even know.

“Hi, I got a call from this number and I wanted to know why you called me.”

“I didn’t call you.”

“Yes, you did. This number was on my phone.”

“I haven’t dialed my phone in a week or more, I didn’t call you.”

“Then how did your number get on my phone? If it was a mistake, just admit it, what is the point of trying to pretend you didn’t call my number?”

“I have no idea how my number would have gotten on your phone, all I can tell you is that my phone has not been used in at least a week, so I did not call you.”

“Then how did I get your number?”

“Perhaps you misdialed it!”

He continued his rant, clearly thinking I was some confused dishonest woman.

I hung up.

What the fuck? I mean, seriously, first of all, why did I let myself get drawn into that, and second of all, why was he so determined to know why someone dialed his precious number and apparently didn’t leave a message?

I seriously have not used my phone in a week. I checked my messages last Monday, and have had the nagging thought ever since that I need to remember to call my parents back. In fact, that’s why I dug my phone out of it’s hiding places in my pannier when I heard it ring, I thought it might be my parents! It was a Phoenix number, which wouldn’t be my parents, but they are not that far from Phoenix, and there is always the worry that it is the police, that there has been an accident.

So I answered and got sucked into that pointless waste of breath!

If I had called that jerk’s number, realized I had the wrong number and hung up, I’d have been just as annoyed to get his call. What, should we leave messages “hi, wrong number, sorry!” I’d personally want to throttle someone who did that, because I detest having to actually listen to my voice mail. Send me a text message!

Gah.

I hate phones!

Randomability mentioned that she is going to do Nablomopo in November and asked if anyone was going to join her. I decided I would.

I’m not much of a planner, so though I know it is helpful for many people to make a sort of schedule or list of the posts or types of posts they’ll make, I can’t seem to think that way. I did decide to make this a specific kind of challenge for myself, though.

I’ve been in a real slump with my photography for months now. I could go on about this, and all my theories about why we get in these slumps, along with things that wise people have said about how to get out of them, but I don’t feel like talking about it!

I will merely mention that among the things that wise people say is that inspiration can only find you while you’re doing “it”. Whether “it” is photography, painting, writing, or I imagine anything else like bike riding, singing…maybe even reading a book. If you’re looking for inspiration for something, get out there and do it!

So, to get myself “doing”, my challenge for myself in November is to post a picture every day, and my self-imposed constraint is that it must be a picture taken that very day.

Like posting every day wasn’t a challenge enough!

So, that’s my goal. We’ll see how it goes.

Interesting video, by Dan Gilbert, about Why are we happy? Why aren’t we happy?

He’s talking about what he calls “synthetic happiness” versus “natural happiness”.

I found it fascinating, and it certainly taught me a few things!

It is about 21 minutes long, and definitely worth it!

I was always a bookworm. I actually learned to read so young that I don’t have memories of my life that don’t include reading. I was not even 3 years old when I was reading a book featuring a dog. I have a distinct memory of the book with a dog, but not a very detailed memory.

Today I was in the bookstore, completely lost in the description on the back of a book. I’d just previously been completely lost in reading a graphic novel version of a novel I have read and know well. (Leanne, have you seen the Anita Blake graphic novels? I found them fascinating!) I’d also not long before been talking to someone about how this sometimes feels like an addiction. I have that hard a time putting books down. Actually, I have that hard a time not picking a book up.

So, lost in the snippet of a world revealed on the back of a book, I was startled to hear someone say “Excuse me!”

Assuming I’d been in the way, I turned, expecting to hear that they had wanted to look at a book in the area I was blocking.

“May I recommend a book to you?” was what he said instead.

I agreed, of course, only half in the real world, having been jerked so abruptly out of the book world I’d been immersed in a second before.

He showed me a book, the first in a series, by an author he couldn’t praise enough. I’d never heard of the author or the series, but I bought the book he recommended. It did sound interesting, though it is more science fiction than fantasy, and my biggest weakness is modern urban fantasy. (much of which is my beloved vampire fiction.)

As soon as he finished telling me about the books, and I thanked him, he walked away. I felt so disoriented by the exchange.

I should have asked if he was the author! 😀

I was very cranky today, though it was fairly low key. Things were just getting on my nerves.

It was cold in the office, I didn’t bring enough food, I wasn’t hungry, but I wasn’t not hungry either. I was tired, I couldn’t concentrate. My coworker walked in and paused in the entrance to our pod, as he always does, so that when he says “good morning!!!” I’m forced to actually look up from my work to return his greeting. I always feel like he wants congratulations for arriving at work.

I had someone telling me that I’m “too extreme” because I rode in “weather like today” (dry, not windy, and 40F, which in biking-weather-terms meant I needed a windbreaker and a long sleeve t-shirt…) and dared to say that I’d ride even in weather colder than 40F.

I had other people telling me that I had to be careful, to be safe, and gritting my teeth I told them that if they’d drive safe, I’d BE safe.

Here is a bike-safety factoid – half of all bike accidents involving cars happen at night with bicyclists not using lights, despite that only 3% of all biking occurs at night.

That supports something I’ve said for a couple months now, that lights are more important for our safety than helmets. (Especially since there is no data that can prove for certain that helmets increase our safety.)

Anyway, crankiness all day.

And then on the way home, stopped at a light, I had some ignorant idiot tell me that “this isn’t a bike lane.” Duh. I agreed, and pointed out that it was nevertheless legal for me to be right where I was. He kept repeating that it is not a bike lane, and I kept asking him if he knew the law. He claimed he did. So I told him that he should already know that it was legal for me to be where I was.

Then he threatened me. “I’ll see you in the hospital.” He repeated that about three times throughout our “conversation”.

I got his license plate number. I’m thinking about contacting the police to report his threat.

It is no small matter – he was threatening grave bodily harm, possible homicide, definitely assault. If he had a gun, they’d be all over it. His car is at least as deadly to others with an attitude like his.

Unfortunately I know that the police are more of the mindset to harass bicyclists than to protect them. They care nothing for bike safety (no matter what they say) and they prove it by parking in the bike lanes with an absolute disregard to the safety of bicyclists. They drive on the mixed use paths, where motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited, and they are just as ignorant of the laws (in my experience) as the idiot who threatened me today is.

Judges are notorious for being equally as ignorant.

It was really a perfect end to a crappy day. I really don’t think people who have the kind of rage that the jerk today had should be allowed to operate a vehicle.

Nothing happened in the end. I don’t know where they went, but by the time, less than a quarter of a mile down the road, I was turning off, they were not behind me. I had to turn to look, because I had to get in the left lane, so I know for certain it was not the ignorant fool and his embarrassed son behind me. Maybe his POS car conked out and the light, and he became the traffic impediment that he was so angry at me for potentially being.

Nevermind that on that part of the road there are too many lights and too much traffic for ME to be an impediment.

Gah.

Days like today make me want to find an island and post KEEP OUT signs.

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