Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer time come and gone my oh my

August 7 and I now catch my breath. Been travelin' Did not spend a Friday night in July in my own bed, and three of those Friday nights I was sleeping in my tent--West Virginia, Pine Ridge and Rent One. Last Friday I luxuriated in a hotel room in Milwaukee-- after nine hours on my motorcycle riding there from Carbondale. The ride to SSR, my first, but I've been trying to ride to the meeting since SSR was in Madison in 2000-- but then it was the Norton and Chicago to Madison was way out of the comfort zone. But this jaunt, on the BMW was just plain easy, 420 miles in 9 hours. Such a splendid ride up US 51 to Decatur then I 39 to I 43 to Milwaukee; 42 mpg, 125 miles comfort zone. I made it 250 on 6 gallons and was a bit tense as I cruised north past Alpine Valley, the site of so many great shows, but not a gas station in sight. I cruised into with a half a gallon to spare. Hard on the ass to ride that far without stopping. But nothing like the ride home-- on the hottest day ever-- 107 degrees! Detour via Chicago, I94 in traffic- yikes-- but once I57 stretched on south of I80 it was smooth sailing. I let the wind fill my chest and leaned forward, suspended, relaxed-- hot as hell, even going 80 the sweat was streaming into my eyes. boots and jeans burning in the sun, no indoors when your on your bike. It was OK though, like an athletic event, a seated marathon. I wanted to ditch my jacket it was so hot through the mesh, but I felt like a fireman, their jackets are warm too, but they sure wouldn't take them off. The punishing sun would have seared me and darkened my tan black after burning me red-- been there, done that many times, but now I am rather enjoying my skin not being burned in the relentless sun. When I made it to the rest are north of Effingham I crawled onto a bench and took a little nap. I drank three liters of water and ate three protein bars which had melted to pudding. The day had started to cool as the sun slanted west and after I stopped at Mt Vernon for gas I packed my lovely silver mesh jacket into a pouch, tied it to the luggage rack and flew on down the road in my t-shirt. Much cooler but that ragged wind was still hot. Interstates are where the semis scream and push, blotting out the music and rocking the bike-- its good to get past them, and Silver Cloud delivers. I got of the interstate at Benton and followed 37 all they way to Marion. Slow, scenic, peaceful, cool in the shade of the Shawnee forest-- much more pleasant than that old interstate.

The ride to SSR added to the huge wonderful experience. My 24th SSR, an annual pilgrimage to the Society for the Study of Reproduction, my scientific home. This year I had the honor of presenting a tribute to Anita Payne -- my first plenary lecture at SSR. Sally Kemper, Phyllis Wise, Marco Conti and I collaborated for the Historical Perspectives session starting out with biography then we gave talks for each of her eras-- early Phyllis, middle me and late Marco. Phyllis focused on her personal relationship with Anita. My talk described my journey from Leydig cells to Ovarian cancer in chickens and how Anita influenced me at many steps along the way-- such as introducing me to Janice Bahr who enables the chicken research-- to the cyp17 antibody I made in her lab that I am still distributing to labs all over the world. It was a lot of fun preparing and giving the talk. I introduced the entire society to the chicken model and espoused its virtuous recapitulation of the human disease-- convincingly so judging from the buzz I heard during the coffee breaks. The model really speaks to many people especially those who have been personally touched by the disease. Perhaps the new best hope for finding the cure. At the NAKED party, minutes after I walked into that Milwaukee bar and queued up for a beer, I was almost accosted by an enthusiastic trainee who threw herself at me excited to talk about chicken research. She collected herself while I nodded at her silently, and explained that she was a reproductive physiologist at the National zoo and had a keen interest in bird models of disease. Pretty fun ice breaker, who would've figured ovarian cancer would spawn so many conversations. NAKED was a dance frenzy with may students new and old and friends I've danced with since my first NAKED. A non sanctioned core function at SSR meetings.

The high point of my year, as I have been heard saying,comes on the last night of the meeting when I get to play with the band at the annual dance and barbecue. This year there was a great cover band, Counting Crows and Rusted Root, and the bass player played the harp. We negotiated for 1st song second set, Sweet Home Chicago in E. I leapt onto the stage and as soon as I blew a few notes into the mike, the crowd went wild, surging to the stage, arms raised chanting Buck Buck... I feel like a rock star! Those guys were great and we played a stellar version of sweet home, right in sync, perfect tune and three big solos! Fabulous, what a trip. Twice in that meeting, the lights all shining on me, two memorable performances. Kristine delivered the final act, her last presentation from her graduate work, now her post doc in prostate cancer takes her away. And my excitement seeing Sean, Sara, Erfan, Sheree with Kristine the whole meeting, the new guard, the charter members of the Hales lab, SIU edition.

A great end to a frenetic summer, though August stretches out before us like the desert sand, with the cooler weather of autum a mirage on the horizon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For the health of it...

Ta da, this is the 100th episode of virtual buck's blog.

The death of my old pal really got me thinking and prompted this blog enter. I was thinking about my health today as I was soaking in the hot tub in the beautiful clear 15 degree sunny morn, when I noticed the band aids still on my knees, each with a dime sized spot of dried blood, from the sites of the cortisol injections. Cortisol shots into inflamed joints are famous, it seems pitchers are always getting shot up in the shoulders to enable them to finish the season, and I certainly have heard about getting the shots in the knees-- and on Friday I found out first hand what it was like. Ten cc's into each knee, with a big long needle. It did not hurt at all, but it was very weird. The pressure of the injection as the fluid engulfed the space between the knee bones was an odd sensation. But the effects of the cortisol were unexpected. At midnight I was so wide-awake I felt wired out of my mind! I lay in bed reading until 2 AM finishing the last 100 pages of John Irving's "Last Night at Twisted River" and then with the lights out, lay under my eye pillow with my ear phones in, completely awake, refractory to all attempts to lure my surging thoughts to a sleepy place. Instead I designed the patio, the koi pond, the terraced garden, the rose bed-- and then began to harvest the downed wood in the forest figuring out where to stack it, deciding to rent a splitter then stack and split.... wow, that stuff was great!

When I got up on Saturday it was as though I had new knees. I am encouraged to begin rehab. Queue Amy Winehouse-- "they tried to get me to go to rehab but I said, no, no,no.... he's tried to make me go to rehab, but I won't go, go, go..." until now. I successfully rehabbed in fall 2004 after I suffered a stress fracture in my left knee and managed to run the Denver Marathon. But last spring after skiing for four days in BC, I just haven't been the same. Now not being able to run marathons is one thing, but not being able to ski? Forget that. So, now that we've moved, and have settled into our new life in Carbondale, I decided to see if I could get some help for my arthritic meniscus eroded old knees. I had to find a doc to get my eye med Rx refilled, so I visited the Family Practice clinic at SIU med and had an all purpose visit. Nice young Doctor, first year Resident took care of my Rx and then gave me the once over. I asked about collagen injections when he observed the crepitation in my knee-- so he gave me a referral to SI orthopedic clinic. I mentioned the new mole on my shoulder and when the resident consulted with attending physician they were almost giddy to see the perfect example of basal cell carcinoma had had sprouted. Oh, nothing to worry about, the most common form of bening skin cancer, completely treatable and easily removed. So a second referal, to the SI Derm Clinic.

I was actually feeling rather poorly when I visited the doctor, as though I was coming down with a cold--which progressed to a dose of the flu over the last week of the 2009-- what a way to end a sick decade-- sick. We stayed close to home for the holidays and in the time off I was able to recuperate from the flu, and visit the Derm. Dr. Burke a recent graduate from the Derm residency at SIU and an MD from UIC, we established a great rapport and he agreed with the diagnosis-- but took a biopsy to satisfy the insurance requirement. Diagnosis confirmed so a few days after Christmas I had the growth surgically removed. I was surprised to find out how much the minor surgery took out of me, I was in a bit of pain, but more so, I felt spent by the procedure. I recovered in a day or so except for the itching stitches. So, finally, Friday, the day of my visit to the orthopedic clinic, I also got to get my stitches removed.

My visit to the orthopod started with Xrays of my knees. I had a detailed discussion with Dr Wood who then probed my knees. When I told him I had run 21 marathons he congratulated me while he cranked my clicking knee around. We looked at the Xrays and he showed me the osteo-athritic ostiophytes and how little space remained between the plates. We discussed treatment plans. His goal is to avoid or delay knee replacement. So I am scheduled for Supartz or Synvisc injections of hyaluronan-- one injection should last for about 6 months, and it is expected to prevent knee pain and give me some mobility back. But to be sure that the insurance will pay for this, first I had to have the cortisol injections, 3 months of physical therapy 3 times per week, and I have to take high dose NSAID to reduce the inflammation. Wow, they are going for it. Let's get your knees better. I had not anticipated getting injected with cortisol or the resulting phsychoactivation. Also, I hadn't expected to be plunged into a vigorous new physical therapy routine.

Perfect timing actually. As I ponder the death of my friend, who was precisely my age, my thoughts turn to my own health and longevity. The last time I saw Matt in 2002, he picked me up at the airport in KC and drove me to Lawrence for a visit. I was shocked to see the bloated 300 pound man who looked like death warmed over-- his booming voice greeted me as he remarked that I looked like a marathon runner. This when I felt fat and was in a lull in my running, but my 230 was slim by comparison,though I was approaching my all time high weight. While I was gaining control and losing weight, he continued to gain. By the time he died on New Year's Eve 2009, under the blue moon, the last full moon of the decade, he weighed over 400 pounds. Death no longer warmed over. The control I lost in the last year during the transition and then the move to Carbondale I now regain. The regimentation and time I will have to devote to rehab under the guidance of the PT at the orthopedic clinic will necessarily help me to establish a new routine. I told the doc I really missed running-- a lot, but I was enjoying bicycling and rowing. He told me that "if it was my passion, I could probably run, but it would hasten my time to knee replacement." Yikes. OK, how about walking? The Synvisc will really help with that. How about skiing? OK, I will do the rehab, limit my running and save my knees for skiing once I build myself backup to it. I guess I better be sure to wear sun screen. Losing a few pounds will help the old knees too. OK, rehab, just for the health of it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

He's Gone

All that's left to do is smile, smile, smile.... Heard the news late last night that my old buddy Matthew Thomas Moore passed away on New Year's Eve, under the bright light of the blue moon, that last full moon of the first decade of the 21st Century. I queued the song in my mind, He's Gone, from Europe 72, that seminal Grateful Dead album of the same year-- the year I heard the Grateful Dead live for the first time, and 5 years before I met the old Hip-eye, as he was affectionately known. The lyrics of that song ring true:

Going where the wind don't blow so strange
Maybe on some high cold mountain range
Lost one round but the price wasn't anything
Knife in a back and more of the same
Same old rat in a drain ditch
Out on a limb
You know better but I know him

Now he's gone
Lord he's gone
Like a steam locomotive rolling down the track
He's gone
He's gone
and nothin's gonna bring him back
He's gone....

The same song I sang when my father died, when my dogs Don Diego and Leon died, or when my brother Scott died-- when they all die-- tragic early deaths of lives cut short, or lives lived fully until old age or disease robs them from us. Death always puts our own fragile lives in crystal clear perspective. Life is the most precious thing but often death is a blessing. Matthew was a unique man, the deepest most booming voice who could be heard above the sound of a jet airplane taking off. A larger than life character who was there for the journey, not where it was suppose to take him. It brings back many memories of our time together when we were in our twenties, the most formative time of one's life. Our live's have taken very different trajectories, and his lead him to his untimely death. 56 years old is way too young do die. We were the same age, yet I feel like I am in my prime and my biggest and most important work is still ahead of me. I do not believe that Matthew felt like he had "his work" no Dharma to guide him, he just was. He lived for the moment and the moment has passed. Rest in peace my old friend. You have gone where the winds don't blow so strange.
Matthew Thomas Moore, 11/12/1953-12/31-2009.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Happy New Year and Happy New Decade. 2009 and the first decade of the 21st century are now history and most would say good riddance! Last year was a very challenging one as we watched the economy worsen. But it was absolutely a wonderful year for the Hales. We packed up and moved from Oak Park to Carbondale into a great new house and actually finally managed to sell our old house-- over 80 showings and 3 contracts in the six months it was on the market. The intensity of the whole house sale business is a now a fading memory. I spent nearly six months working on the house getting it ready to sell and then watched the sale price erode as the housing market crashed. But the story had a happy ending. The previous owners of our Carbondale home had also gone to great lengths to get the house ready to sell and it was in perfect shape-- nothing needed to be done, except landscaping, and that we GET to do and at our own pace. There were a lot of improvements in houses built in 1994 compared to 1913, like closets, bathrooms, insulation, etc. We just love our new home, perched on the edge of the woods, secluded but just 4 miles from work. Ryder misses his old neighborhood, living in crowded old Oak Park with 200 kids within 1/2 mile of the house, but he likes his school so much more than the public school in Oak Park. Even though the resources at the New School are scant compared to Lincoln school, it is such a richer environment in so many ways, especially the wonderful teachers and like minded group of parents. So the big move was a very positive development in 2009.

Starting our new jobs has been really great too-- though demanding, challenging, and nearly overwhelming at times, I am really enjoying my new job as Chairman. Talk about on the job learning-- hoo-yah! And the opportunity for Karen in her new job on the tenure track faculty, her own lab and now in a position to make her mark in science. SIU is a like a big family and seemingly we are among the elite. It is a very easy place to work and while not insulated from the politics of academia, the feeling here is so much better than UIC. The longer I was there the worse it got to the point it was toxic, hostile and stifling. Not my colleagues, not my students, but the departmental and administrative politics were awful. I am so happy to be free of that now, and feel equal to the challenge of facing the same challenges that my Chair at UIC faced. I think my honeymoon has officially ended as the school year came to a crashing end. These are tough times and Illinois is in dire straits. I was never involved in state level politics and only worried about whether the CTA would keep running. Now I am acutely aware of what goes on in Springfield, how the State is reluctantly releasing only the minimal amount of funds to barely keep SIU going-- all political posturing and brinkmanship. It is rather daunting to be put in the position that SIU is in because the state comptroller Dan Hynes is running for Governor and trying to make the current Govenor look bad. Quinn still gets my vote, he is trying to do the right thing but is held hostage, as are we, by the looming election and politicos trying to gain advantage. Taxes have to be raised! But that is off subject here-- yes, 2009 was a challenging year for the economy, for the job and housing sectors, but we came through in a much better position than we were in at the end of 2008 by far! It is humbling to consider, in fact, how well we are doing as many around us are not faring so well. But all agree that 2010 is going to be a much better year and this new decade has to be better than the last. We have a president with vision, integrity, and the will to make things better. He inherited one hell of a mess, the full brunt of which now being realized under his watch, but not by his doing. The party of NOPE is doing all that it can to prevent us from moving forward-- but I have not lost faith in Obama, and time will tell. Bush will not only emerge as the worst president of the 21st century, but as the worst of all time. And I predict, Obama will emerge as the most important, on a par with FDR and JFK.

As the new year dawns bright and cold in Carbondale, I join the ranks of the neo-resolutionists. I found it very difficult to get my real work done as I adjusted to the challenges of being Chair and teaching for one of my faculty who was on sabbatical. The teaching was an excellent experience and it really helped me learn my way around the curriculum and our department's teaching mission. Now I turn the full force of my attention to my research-- grants and papers, and of course--data. I have a great new crew in the Cardondale edition of the Hales lab, but really need a post-doc to propel the research effort back to where I was at this time last year. So the resolve to move the research forward is not new, but reinvigorated with the change of the year. I absolutely believe my best and most important work is still ahead of me.

Another challenge that my new job has brought is figuring out how to get my workout in. I was making good progress getting to the gym and rowing on the erg and riding my bicycle to work. When the teaching and frenetic administrative work overwhelmed me in early October I struggled to keep up the effort, and was thwarted by the rain. Wimp! Coward! yeah, right. My bicycle buddies in Chicago are riding still, if not on their ride to work , but on their trainers in spin class. This is my new resolve-- get off my butt and get to the gym, get on my bike and ride, take a vinyasa yoga class-- fight the battle of bulge. I've regained half of the big weight I lost and it stops now! Yeah, there is that resolve. So I join the other 350 million neo-resoutionists whom I always scoffed at when they flooded into the January gym. I have no choice, I have to begin again.

One last thought about how great 2009 was and what we look forward to in 2010 and the 2nd decade of the 21st century. Zelda. The new Weimaranar, the next generation. Cooper is with us still and though he is in his decline, Zelda has breathed new life into the old guy. These grays are wonderful dogs, and so alike in so many ways. They are particularly huggable and very loving. Mirabel loves having a new friend and is a puppy again. She is so sweet and lovable, but her body language is so different from the gray dogs. A coiled coil vs the languorous love dog. We are blessed to have these wonderful dogs in our life and though we know Cooper is near his end, we are so happy to have his imprint on Zelda, who just loves that big old boy so much. Ah, yes, life is good and its going to be even better this year and this decade for sure.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This way or that?

When Ryder and I mounted Silver Cloud for the ride home from SIU, I asked him which way he wanted to go--this way (through town) or that (skirting town on the south)? He said "the long way." And so we headed east on old 13, south on Spillway over to Grassy Road and back to Giant City Road. A 25 mile detour. And it was splendid. The late afternoon sun filtering through the dense trees creating a tapestry on the tarmac. Nice twisty turns, shifting down then accelerating , wrapping around the curve. Crab Orchard on the right, glowing in the late rays blue sky puff cloud green and vast, serene, no cars on the road, just me and my boy. Big boy that he is too, wearing him mom's jean jacket, as tall as her shoulder now. Today I dropped him at school too, much to his delight. He keeps threatening to blow up my bicycle so I can ride him to the Carbondale New School (CNS) every day. CNS is turning out to be even better than we hoped. The combined 2-3 grades are just 15 kids for Ms. Laurie. She is a very talented, creative and involved teacher. Our school experience so far this year is so much more favorable than Lincoln school last year-- and it is one of the best of its kind-- public school with 22 kids per teacher and an assessment based curriculum, teaching to the lowest common denominator. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for how truly good Lincoln school is and how good the teachers are. But there is really no fair comparison to CNS. A play ground in the woods, a funky looking big old ranch style house converted into two levels with the common areas in the 1/2 basement, and the class rooms upstairs. Ryder's class room is filled with animals, books, legos, and all the usual teaching materials. Ryder is doing math next door in the 4-5 classroom and after a two week trial, he has been permanently recruited to the next grade up for math. His new best buddy at CNS is in the fourth grade, so it works out well. The best evidence is how much Ryder is liking school this year.

Last night we attended the corporation meeting for the school. Every parent and family is part of the CNS corporation. The meeting was efficiently run and as all the parents, some 30 or so of us sat hunkered down on child sized benches surrounding the room. Quite an interesting group of folks. Most parents older than average, but a good range, and some very cool looking people. After the meeting we went to the class room and while talking with Laurie met one of Ryder's classmates folks. They too just moved here and he took a professorship in finance at SIU. I asked the mom what she did and she said "I have a PhD in Biochemistry. After I did my post-doc I worked for a company that sells stem cell products, and now I am consulting." Wow! What was amazing to me was that they bought the house that was on our short list-- a saltbox on Upper Brush which we really liked because of the beautiful lot. The house was in need of a lot of renovation but it was a bargain. After spending the better part of the year renovating the house in Oak Park, we wanted nothing to do with a fixer-upper and are so happy with what we got. The also fell under the spell of the Victorian Legend, the 1895 Victorian farm on Springer Ridge. They too made an offer that fell through. The owners of that farm just don't want to sell it. So, it is a small world after all.

We also started cub scouts this week, which will be another great way to meet new people. The scout families range across the socio-economic spectrum which I am very excited about so that we can meet people who live in our community, but are not just university folks. All the the 2-3 graders in Carbondale go to Thomas. Pre-K, K and 1st go to Parrish, 4-5 go to Lewis, then Middle school and then the High School. This arrangements removes inter-school rivalry or inequitable distribution of students and incomes. Nine kids in Ryder's scout troop. The scout master's son and Ryder really hit it off well. Alan Benson, the scout master is the retired chair of the theater department at Kent State. My first impression of him was that he was too old and doddering to be a cub scout leader-- he seemed to barely be able to get around. But when all the parents gathered around him while the scouts ran wild in his back yard, he gave a very lucid, thoughtful and engaging narrative about the scouts, what the plans on for this year, and all the organizational details. He discussed the achievements and belt loops and patches outlining the various activities. He talked of pushing the boys to get through all this and I got the impression he was rather stern, and completely in control, opposite from what I first thought. As it turns out he is 68 married to a much younger woman with whom they have their 8 year old son, his second marriage. His wife is a professor at SIU in the theater dept teaching voice and movement in the McLeod theater--where we saw the production of Into the Woods. She was a stage and screen actress and then joined the faculty. Quite an erudite couple and their son is Ryder's new pal. Ryder really is excited about scouting here because of all the outdoors. I was a bit worried when Alan got to the Religious Embel patch and how you earn this working with your pastor, priest, minister, rabbi or what ever. And that you didn't have to be in an organized religion but you had to have some kind of faith, a belief system-- or some other manifestation of spirituality that you honor and participate in. It was a lovely way out for us, and though he is in charge of the Presbyterian faction of scouting, he is neither evangelical or demanding. So my one great fear, other than too much camouflage, was being proselytized. Lots to look forward to with twice monthly den and once monthly pack meetings, whew. And soccer starts on the 12th also! Ah, no shortage of stuff to do around here, that's for sure.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mister Chairman I presume?

Holy cats! I'm freaking out here. All of a sudden this new job has become rather daunting. Late Friday afternoon and this is the first time I've had a chance to catch my breath all day. I had 30 hours of face time this week! Meetings with the Dean of School of Medicine (my boss), with the Dean of College of Science (my co-conspirator), emails from vice-chancellor *asking* for favors, faculty issues, students swarming around everywhere, dealing new funding policies for intramural grants which have been the life blood of some of my faculty, and of course, the hardest part of the Chairman's job-- space. We need more. Secret deals, a handshake and a wink, and I am faced with trying to figure out who said what to whom when and what was agreed upon and if these deals are set in stone etc. It makes me weak in my knees! Meanwhile I have two manuscripts burning a hole in my desk, yearning to be edited, tuned up, and submitted. No wait, there's more... always more. Adjusting to Ryder's school schedule, us both working full time everyday-- not only didn't I get any work done this week because I was so busy with my job, the only exercise I got was riding my bicycle to and from work Monday and today. That and walking all over the campus going from appointment to appointment. Ah, but it is such a lovely campus filled with eager young minds enjoying this late summer warmth and clear skies. Oh to be in college again. Forget that! Do overs are not allowed in reality.

Despite how freaked out I am feeling about now, I have the subtle inner voice speaking calmly in my ear to me, reminding me that I am equal to these challenges and that if I rely on my instincts I will make the right decisions and do the right thing. I am really enjoying owning a motorcylce as is my son, who would really rather ride to work than be driven in the car. He hated that I rode my bicycle today instead of dropping him off at school. He is wearing his mother's old jean jacket now and is comfortable on the back of Silver Cloud. He is born to be a biker, just like his dad. And I really enjoyed my bicycle ride this morning. The hills on my ride in were huge mountains to me at first, now I barely need to gear down at all to peddle over them. The hill on the way home is much bigger, so I still need to drop a few gears to keep up my cadence and make it over the hill, and my heart rate is up for the whole ride. Though my ride is 1/2 as long as it was in Chicago, my cardiac output is probably equal or greater because I ride much harder/faster. All the stop signs and traffic and riding with other bike commuters made for much more casual rides. When I rode alone off hours I could hit stretches of 20 mph until I had to stop at the next light. I travel at 25-27 mph for much of the ride now, except on the way up, and then I drop to 12 mph or so. I should take the long way to work and get a few extra miles, or get up even earlier and hit the pool before work. Can't do that an be taking my boy to school though. OK, it was just the first week of the fall semester. Next week should set the tone for the rest of the year. I have to be in control of my time more than I was this week and figure out a way to protect time for my work-- not to be confused with my job.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Silver Cloud and living in Egypt

It took until my 3rd real ride on the beast until the ride not the motorcycle defined the experience. It is going to take a while until I get over the constant diligent fear that the motorcycle is suddenly going to fail, and instead, just enjoy the ride. After having ridden or mostly just owned a Norton since 1978, a bike you work on and sometimes ride, or don't work on and can't ride-- buying a BMW is quite a change. Silver Cloud-- 2002 BMW R1150RT with 18K miles, purchase from Grass Roads BMW in Cape Girardeau. I was so pleased with this dealership on many levels, it made the transaction and all my interactions a pleasure. Not to mention the bike. I am new to the BMW experience. Know for their jugs and shaft, the twin boxer engine and drive shaft make it a very distinct ride. Twin ABS disk brakes front and rear it has taken me several stops to learn to feather the front brake on. The rear brake a much more gradual arrest. And 1st gear is "pretty tall" as Brian the bike dealer informed me, so you have to rev it up to get it going. And it likes 4000 rpms or above, but with the high torque big twin 1150 cc motor, its easy to put along at 2800. Wind it up and it responds. It is a much different ride than the old Norton, to be sure. With the motor encased its a wider bike, and with the hard cases, it's even wider. But underneath the case is a rocket-- sporty, quick, nimble and ready to ride. GPS, electronic adjustable windshield, heated grips, gas gauge, fuel injectors (no petcocks to turn) all the modern features of an automobile compared to the sparse old Norton. Now that Silver Cloud (every sliver linning's got a touch of gray, and 1955-1964 Rolls Royce) has come home, I am oddly inspired to get the Norton back on the road. Last time I fired it up was 2.5 years ago, and it ran like a top. But riding in Chicago and the failure prone nature of the beast somehow deterred me-- not to mention that I was busy beyond belief and really devoted to spending my time with my family..... but now! yesterday I took Ryder for his first ride and we crested the hill leaving the driveway I heard him hoot "woo-hoo". And again, when I passed a car and accelerated around it, he shouted "alright!". He loves it. Of course he does! And the three of us are going to really enjoy riding around Egypt, two up is our only limitation.

We have so enjoyed our first two months in Carbondale, it is just wonderful. We love the house and living on the edge of the woods, and being just 4 miles from work. I am riding most days and the big hills seem to have flattened out already. On Friday Ryder and I rode in together, taking the back roads, down Neal Lane, past the high school, through the super fields where all the ball parks are, down College past the police station, coming out on Wall Street, right at the University. Neal lane is gravel so that makes it less than an ideal place to ride my road bike, but it slices out the big hills on Hunt Road, so it makes it easier in that way. This morning I took the Neal lane short cut, and it was nice being in the soybeans and corn on a country lane, instead of on Old 13, but the gravel, well, not great. I will take the pavement home so as to not deny myself the pleasure of riding up those hills on Hunt Road. I've only logged a 100 miles on my bicycle so far. The commute is pretty short and I've only been on one long ride-- to Makanda, and experienced the excitement and then pain of riding on big hills. As I zipped down Springer Ridge Road, I topped 40 mph and it scared the heck out of me, causing me to brake before I hit the big turn as Springer morphs into Makanda Road. Then I turned around and rode back up that hill, managing 4 mph on the steepest stretch, but not getting off and walking, so though it was slow, it was my triumph to make it to the top on my own. Riding up and down hills in the humidity and heat, is taking a bit to get used to.

And now we face the onslaught of the students-- the population of Carbondale will increase by 20,000 nearly doubling, and all at once. The locals are bracing themselves , the city is getting ready, and we wait, wondering how its going to be. Stay away from Walmart one of my colleagues warned-- and the grocery store shelves will by cleared off after the cloud of new student locusts picks them clean. Well, not going to Walmart will be no problem, and I figure that we mostly shop around the edges of the grocery store, and all the students are going to be shopping in the middle isles where all the prepared foods are shelved, so that shouldn't be so bad. And parking shouldn't bee too bad riding my bicycle or motorcycle. But still, they are our customers and they are why we are here, so bring 'em on!

And now, also, I face the truth of my lack of riding and indulgent eating-- lo all those pounds I have gained back. Enough! now it's time to get back into the groove and starting burning more calories than I consume. I spent all last week preparing a grant application post hosting the Held family reunion. Now, all that's left to do is work, so getting into the groove should be a pleasure. Working out with the students in the rec center, well one thing for sure, it is definitely going to be more crowded. That 6 AM Saluki master's swim club is starting to make more sense as does the p-diet revisited. No CHO, here we go.