Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time to get back to it

It's been a while since I've written anything here and there is much to talk about. I am putting my brain back into writing mode and will update this blog (maybe even with pictures) later this weekend. Promise!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

T Minus 18 Days

As the title says, only 18 days till I get my spinal column drilled into. I am really looking forward to some pain relief and having the ability to walk more than 50 feet without my legs going numb.

Charlie's work travel schedule is positively insane these days. Today she's on a flight to NYC. From there it's Arkansas, home for 2 days then back on a plane to Chicago and Milwaukee. Of course being out of the office means longer days at the office playing catch up, so our time together right now is pretty limited. I miss her...

One trip that she's looking forward to is to Vicenza, Italy for a trade show in September. We had hopes that I could take a few days off to travel with her, but the recovery from surgery will not allow it. I am heavily bummed since Vicenza is the home of Campagnolo and I would love to pay homage to one of the legendary brands in all of cycling. Maybe next year, I guess.

In the meantime, I have been working on a number of projects all leading to Interbike next month (!). Stay tuned for more news as it develops...

Ta ta for now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

And We're Back On!

Al-righty then! So now we have a NEW scheduled appointment for my back surgery on August 19, a week earlier than the old appointment. So I only have about 4 more weeks to prepare - unless they change things yet again, of course...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Not So Fast...

An interesting week.

Charlie got a call from the doctor's office - the appointment for August 26 wasn't going to work for the doctor, so we'll have to reschedule. So now it could be as soon as July 29 or as late as August 19; we just don't know. It makes it just a little difficult to plan things that way.

As I said in my last post, Charlie and I are taking this chance to focus on losing some weight and getting into better shape overall. After my ride today (30 rolling miles @ about 17mph), my weight was 218.5, down about 5 pounds from last week. I am sure that some of that was sweat weight, so I won't be surprised to see it come back up when I weigh in tomorrow morning. But I am feeling better and can feel the weight difference. So, I need to keep riding more, drink less alcohol, and try to get some better sleep patterns going. The last appears to be the hardest to achieve, as I am not a fan of drugs (I only take ibuprofin for my back pain). Maybe the fitness will help the sleep - I can only hope...

Monday, July 6, 2009

52 Days

Well, it looks like we finally have a surgery date -August 26. That means I have 52 days to get myself in the best shape possible, to make recovery as quick and pain-free as possible.

This weekend was the 4th of July Jubilee on the Arcata Plaza. As a Chamber of Commerce Board Member, I was expected to be there, and so I was. But I was in so much pain that I was pretty much useless to do anything. There's something embarrassing about standing around being in a conversation and, right in the middle, say that you have to sit down (before you fall down). The pain and numbness are really starting to get to me. I blew off two parties to which I was invited this weekend, simply because I knew that I wasn't going to be very sociable. Sometimes I wish I had some serious pain meds, instead of my friend, Vitamin I...

I've been riding but not nearly hard enough. So, yesterday I decided to push myself a little on the loop out to Blue Lake. I did the 14 city/hilly miles out in just under 45 minutes, which wasn't too bad. The headwind on the ride back slowed me down but I averaged almost 17mph for the ride. I am working on getting into a daily ride routine, riding to work and either riding the trainer upstairs or going for a longer ride after I get home. Add in some weight work and I think I'll be in good stead come August 26th.

This morning, I weighed 223.1 pounds. I want to get that down to 215 before I go in to the hospital. I think it's doable...

Oh yes, the doctor who will work on me is NOT the doctor I have been working with over the past 1 1/2 years; it's the Doctor from whom we got the second second opinion. My doctor doesn't feel an operation is called for (even after 2 second opinions), but won't say why - unless we drive down to see him in person. No telephone consults for this guy! Somehow, I just don't think it's worth driving 600 miles roundtrip, both of us taking a day off work (while losing a weekend) and spending a night in SF for a five minute explanation of why he doesn't want to work with me. I'll wait for a phone call instead...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Uh oh...

Yesterday, Charlie found that the test results were finally sent over to my doctor's office, so she called to set up a conference call with the doctor and me, so we could talk about surgery. Well, the call did NOT go as planned...

The receptionist was not our usual and was, from Charlie's perspective, abrupt and somewhat rude. And for some reason, the doctor, relaying through the receptionist, is not interested in taking the surgical route! I really do not understand; why, if he didn't want to do surgery, did he have me get two "second opinions?" Even worse, he gave no explanation for his decision.

At this point I no longer trust this doctor, and Charlie is in conversation with the doctor we saw 2 weeks ago about having him open me up. In my opinion, if the doctor doesn't want to work on me, I certainly don't want him cutting in to my spine!

So, for now, it's back - yet again - to Square One. I had prepared myself for the operation, and now we don't know when or where or even if I'll be getting my back fixed.

Frustration is nowhere near strong enough to describe my feelings right now. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waiting again...

It's been almost two weeks since we visited the doctor for the second opinion and my doctor has not received the transcripts. If I offered the kind of "customer service" that UCSF Medical Center does, I would be out of business.

So I sit here waiting for the reports to get to my doctor. Meanwhile, nothing happens. The doctor doesn't want to schedule a phone consult until he's had time to review the report, which is understandable. And of course, since there's no phone consult scheduled, there's no surgery scheduled. The doctor goes on vacation for the first two weeks in July. So, the soonest surgery MIGHT be towards the end of next month.

So I wait. And wait. And continue to live in increasing pain and sleep less and less.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Second Second Opinion

Got home yesterday from another drive to UCSF Medical Center, this time to meet with the head of the Spinal Center. Dr. McCormack wanted another second opinion on a course of action (the neurologist recommended a triple partial laminectomy).

After waiting for 3 hours in the lobby (we had been warned by staff that he was running late), we finally had a chance to speak with Dr Weinstein. He was very personable with a friendly bedside manner. After the now-obligatory walks around the room (walk away, walk on your toes, walk on your heels) and reflex tests, we got to the meat of the matter.

We were basically given a choice of all-at-once or two-stage surgery options. The all at once option would be to fuse the four vertebrae in question and also deal with the spinal stenosis. This would be a major surgery, with significant invasion and recovery time. An interesting side note: in looking at the x-rays, the doctor noted that the L5-S1 area was almost totally fused on its own, due to the deterioration of the disc.

The second option would be to deal with the stenosis now to relieve the numbness in my legs that hampers my mobility and see how that affects the back pain. The possibility exists that relieving the pressure on the spinal canal and the nerves emanating from it might diminish the constant pain I feel. This surgery would be done with minimally invasive surgery and result in only about 10 days of recovery time. Needless to say, we are leaning toward this option. The possibility exists that we would still have to deal with the fusion at a later date, though. But I have lived with back pain most of my life, so I ma willing to give this a chance.

Now we wait for the report to Dr. McCormack and another consultation. Then, with any luck, we can get surgery scheduled right away. Charlie's travel schedule has a couple of openings coming soon, and it would be great to have this not be too disruptive to her work schedule.

This situation has been very debilitating. I have been able to spend less and less time able to stand and/or walk without having to take time to sit to recover. I find myself getting depressed and angry a lot as we wait and wait for some sort of resolution. Charlie has been wonderfully supportive, in spite of my moods. She is an amazing woman and I love her so much and look forward to the time when we can travel and have fun together again soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Arrogance of Non-Profits - A Rant

Recently, I had two very different experiences dealing with two different non-profit organizations. One was local, the other national, which may explain some of the differences. Let me explain...

The first one is a local non-profit to which we had donated product for the past 5 years for their annual fundraising raffle. The name is not important. This group is not particularly close to our mission statement of supporting cycling and outdoor non-profits, but we had first supported them when we had just started, so we continued to donate someting each year anyway.

This year, I first get a call from a member of the group, not so much asking as telling me that we'll be donating again this year! Okay, so the "presumed close" is a well-used tradition in sales, so I wasn't all that offended, but after I agreed to donate, he then told me (no asking) that he would be by to pick up the donation over 2 weeks before the event. As many of you know, I pride myself on the freshness of my coffee, so I asked if it didn't make more sense to pick it up the week of the event. "No," he said, "It would be easier for me if we could get it earlier. So please have it ready."

So, I put the basket together on the requested day, and guess who doesn't show up? Guess who doesn't call? Guess who sends an email the next day (to "undisclosed recipients") stating that it would be more "efficient" if the donations would be picked up the week of the event? No "I'm sorry for the inconvenience" or anything. Oh, and the following was at the end of the note: "Please advise your staff that we'll be picking up the donations." Sir, yes, sir! I wrote back stating that the basket was ready per his earlier request, and that the only day to pick up the basket that week would be Monday, as Kinetic Koffee would be closed the rest of the week. No response...

The week before the event, another "undisclosed recipients" email. This one states that the donations would be picked up on Wednesday and again, "advise your staff" as these people are very busy and can't be kept waiting around while someone finds their donation. I again politely respond, stating that the office will be closed after Monday, per my last email. The guy calls me and acys rather exasperated that no one would be there on Wednesday, but he'll change his plans and come on Monday. Gosh, thanks! Sorry to inconvenience you!

So he shows up on Monday, not looking happy at all about having to change his plans to accomodate my schedule. I give him the $60 basket and he finally smiles and says, "Thank you" and quickly leaves.

But wait, there's an epilogue! About 2 weeks later, there's another email. Was this a Thank you?" Well, no. This one is addressed to all donors and says that many of us had not picked up the commemorative items to which we were entitled as donors. Attached was a spreadsheet showing what you could choose to receive, based upon the value of your donation. Remember, I gave a $60 basket. Well, since I gave less than $100, I was not entitled to anything. At the bottom of the email were words to the effect, "Please disregard this message if you did not qualify for these items." Someone at the organization could have (and should have) taken the minute or two to figure out who was eligible and who was not. Those who did not "donate enough" should not have even seen this email, unless the intention was to shame us into donating more next year.

You can be assured that Kinetic Koffee will most definitely NOT be supporting this group in the future. Luckily, not all non-profits are this bad.

On the other hand, I had the absolute pleasure to work with Chris Strout at World Bicycle Relief again. The experience was a polar opposite to the local group. Kinetic Koffee always does fundraising at the Sea Otter Classic, and this year we chose to support WBR. Chris and his staff were very enthusiastic and excited. They asked what we wanted or needed to make it a success for both groups and supplied us with a banner, pamphlets, and stickers to give away. The fundraising didn't go as well as we had hoped (hot weather is not very conducive to sampling hot coffee), but the folks from SRAM (WBR's founder is a co-founder of SRAM) came over often to check in to say how much they appreciated what we were doing and seeing if we needed anything. I had said something to one of the SRAM folks about how disappointed I was in our sales and he said that the money didn't matter. Just the fact that we were doing what we could to spread the word about WBR was enough. Truly heartwarming to me.

You can be assured that Kinetic Koffee will do all it can to support this group in the future. And I would ask that anyone who wants to support a great group with a wonderful misson to send a donation to them, please!

Respectfully submitted,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Has it really been over a month???

Things have gotten a little out of control this past month - both in a good way and a bad way. I promise to give a full update tomorrow.

Lots to write about...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Caffeine, the last legal stimulant

I will give an update on my back this weekend - promise! In the meantime, my friend Dirk sent me an interesting link on the effects of caffeine on athletic performance. You can read it here.

I was a test subject in a similar study at Cal State San Jose back in the mid-90's. Of course, this was when I was racing and much, much fitter than I am today. I'll have to dig out the results and post them...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Starting the Positive Spin...

Well, if there is one bright spot in this whole surgery thing, it's that it'll be great motivation to really get in shape before the surgery. I figure that I've got about 6 weeks to work out and lose about 10 pounds before I go under the knife.

Why get fit before surgery? It will (I hope) allow me to recover much faster than I would otherwise.

Why wait? Well, this week is Canoecopia and next month is Sea Otter. Both are very important for Kinetic Koffee and we cannot afford NOT to be at either event. Ergo, the operation must wait until the end of April.

Make sense?

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Official

Well, today I received the news I had been preparing to get for the past 6 months - surgery was recommended by the neurologist that I visited today in Redding. He looked at the MRIs and the results of the EMG, tapped me with a hammer (not my head, though) and stuck me with pins (feel this? feel this?). His prognosis: partial laminectomies in at least two locations.

So, now it's back in the neurosurgeon's court. And of course I need to bring someone up to speed soon as a roaster so the company can continue in my absence. Looks like I have a lot to work on.

But first, there's Canoecopia next week (I am really looking forward to spending time with my friends in Madison) and Sea Otter next month. They'll be interesting, that's for sure...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Ramblings

Well, another month is over, and none too soon. I'll be happy when the rains stop (or at least aren't happening daily) and I can get outside on the bike more often. I just finished a nice ride in the Bottoms - my first ride outdoors in over two weeks, I think. The roastery has been busy this month, up over 10% over last February, and that's meant less time on the trainer than I would like. At last weigh-in, I was still over 220 (although just barely) and I had set a goal of 215 by Sea Otter in April. Let's see if I can hit it...

We're just about ready to pull the trigger on all new labels for the coffee, and I am really stoked at how they turned out. Lush did a great job of giving each roast a distinctive look - yes each roast will have a different label; horrah! - and I believe that it will encourage better sell through in the stores. If all goes well, we'll make the transition before the end of March.

Speaking of March, it's time for one of my favorite consumer events - Canoecopia, in Madison, WI. My forends at Rutabaga Paddlesports have created THE paddlesport event in the Midwest and I feel honored to be invited for the past four years. It gives me a chance to interact with customers, and it feels great to have the same people come by year after year for my coffee. Best of all, Canoecopia give me the opportunity to see many good friends - Jeff and Darren, John, Bill, Pat, my friends at both Yakima and Thule, and others. I'll be staying at the home of an old friend from my SBC days, Al. I am really looking forward to seeing all of them!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Team Lost Coast Brewery visits Kinetic Koffee

Team Lost Coast Brewery has been conducting a training camp here locally over the past week, and Friday they stopped into the roastery for a visit. We started sponsoring the team last year, and they've been an absolute pleasure to work with! This is a group who know what sponsorship means - not just taking product to use, but actually promoting the sponsor and doing what they can to sell the product to prospective customers. To that end, they asked for a tour of the roastery and wanted to know more of the story behind the coffee as well. One team member actually worked for one bike shop account, recently moved and is now working for another. How cool is that?

Here's a picture of the team with GearHead.

And because it's what I do, here are some sunrise/sunset pictures from this week - a spectacular week for 'em.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Photos from Friday the 13th

Yesterday was supposed to be an unlucky day, but there were spectacular sunrise and sunsets, bookending the rain, wind, and hail for the rest of the day. Unlucky, indeed!

Morning sunrise from the Kinetic Koffee World HQ.

Evening view from the porch at the house.

And people wonder why we live here???

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Out of the Habit...

Well, I just noticed that it's been more than 2 weeks since I've updated this thing. I blame that evil Facebook for sucking me in to its gaping maw...

Anyhoo, the call with the doc didn't go as we expected. Instead of moving forward, we're moving sideways. Rather than surgery, he now wants me to see a neurologist for more testing. Seems the neuropathy is worse than I thought, and he wants it checked out by a specialist. And I had myself all psyched up to go under the knife, too.

On the plus side, it means that I can move forward (carefully) with travel plans for Kinetic Koffee. So, I've booked the flights to Madison, WI next month for Canoecopia and hotels for Sea Otter in Monterey, CA in April. I am really excited to go to both of these events, since it's an opportunity to talk directly to customers and see old friends. I just hope my back can take the stresses involved (plane travel, long walks between flights, booth setup and manning). Time will tell.

Another advantage of waiting is that it gives me a chance to get into better shape, thereby possibly cutting down recovery time and keeping the almost inevitable weight gain to a minimum. To that end I've set up a trainer upstairs at the roastery so I can ride at least 30 minutes a day at the office. I feel really good about riding four out of the past five days.

On a completely different subject, I am planning to start scanning some of my old racing and touring photos into digital format. I'll probably post some to Facebook, as my old friend Jeff Morseburg has. Man, it's been a real trip down memory lane seeing the old Montrose Cycle Club photos. I rode for them for about 4 years and, with Kevin Lutz, coached the velodrome riders. I thnk I still have an old business card from the club showing VP and Coaching Staff. I hope to start the process this weekend, as it's supposed to rain, rain, rain...

That's all for now...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm Nervous...

...because tomorrow afternoon is a tele-conference with my doctor in SF. We're expecting that he'll finally have enough information from all the tests to decide on a course of action, and if so, when we can do the deed.

I see it going one of two ways - either it'll be a simple arthoscopic surgery with minimal downtime, or it's a major, open up the back for 6-8 inches and fix a bunch of things with a 3-4 month recovery.

Of course, there IS a third option - unable to pinpoint the problem, so more tests and attendant delays in treatment.

I just want to get it over with and get back to being pain-free...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on?

When I read about the newly discovered fault in Arkansas the other day, it got me to thinking about quakes around here as well.
I live in one of the most seismically active areas in the country, right next to the Mendocino Triple Junction of the North American, Pacific, and Gorda tectonic plates. Not that I don't have reminders every day. Here's a sign that sits in front of Kinetic Koffee.
Somehow, I always feel a little better when I pass one of these signs. This one is on US 101 climbing away from Moonstone Beach.

And I somehow feel a little more nervous when I ride past this one.

Be safe out there...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What is that bike?

I have had a few people ask about the bike in my header. It's a frame I built back in the mid 80's when I worked for Santana Cycles in Claremont, CA. The head builder taught me how to braze and this was my first attempt. It's a track frame made of Columbus Multi-Shape tubing and entirely fillet brazed. Every tube is a differnt shape, from the teardrop shaped down tube to the left chainstay's triangle shape and the right chainstay's oval/round cros-section. Why didn't I just pick a set of round tubes for my first complete frame? I don't know; I thought I might as well try something a little more difficult, I guess. I had the painter at Santana paint it the same color Imron as the Arriva S racing tandem. Sadly, I screwed up the geometry and the seattube ended up far too slack for use on the track (it's conical and I lined up the jig on the back side, giving about a 68 degree angle). So it's a fixie these days.

If there's interest, I'll post more pictures of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back behind the Redwood Curtain

I spent the weekend in the Bay Area, attending a reunion of ex-Specialized employees. Man, it was so great to see so many faces from my memories. Specialized was not always a fun place to work (many have called it "Pressurized"), but I have many fond memories of the place and especially the people. I still see many of them at Interbike each year, but others have moved away from the industry. There were many I hadn't seen in 10 years or more!

I had hopes of seeing a couple of my old outside rep partners, especially Dave and John, but neither was able to make it.

I was supposed to see my doctor while I was down there, but the local imaging center did not send the last x-rays to him to review. Maybe I am not understanding, but to me, when a doctor orders x-rays, I would think that the doctor would want them to be sent right away. Somehow this escaped the logic of the office, and they had simply filed them away, waiting for a phone call, I guess, to send them on. Dumb, dumb, dumb...
Anyway, the last few days have been spectacular here in Humboldt. Clear, calm, and unseasonably warm - in the 60's! I took an hour out of the day yesterday to go for a ride and it felt GREAT! Usually in January, it's cold and usually overcast and raining. And the Aleutian geese are migrating in huge flocks right now. Many of them land in the marsh behind the roastery. What an incredible din as they honk at each other.

And a redtailed hawk was watching them carefully from on top of a temporary structure built by World Shelters. We may incorporate part of a shelter into our booth at Interbike this year. Stay tuned for more...

Finally, here is your sunset du jour. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So much for New Year's Resolutions

It seems to be hard to make the time to write this thing! That said, I have been spending WAY too much time on Facebook recently. It's been a lot of fun reconnecting with old friends and such, but it really eats into the time that I could spend working on this!

I got involved with Facebook due to a fun event that I'll be attending this weekend in San Jose, the X-SWorkers reunion, a gathering of former Specialized Bicycle Components employees. It's being organized on Facebook, so it just made sense to start using it. It looks like over 50 folks will be there - I am excited to see them! I'm bringing a bike, since the weather is suppose to cooperate. It'll be good to ride some of the old roads after so many years in Arcata.

The holidays were full, with Kevin coming home from NC for a week, and all the madness of the season. It was especially stressful for me since it rained almost every day, so I couldn't ride outside, and Kev was staying in the guest room/workout room so the trainers had to be put away for the duration.

Here are the obligatory holiday snapshots for your viewing pleasure...

The Tree

The traditional Dinner (with lots of Pinot)

The Family

I plan to update this more frequently, but we all know how those plans can go awry...