It’s only the end of January and already it’s been a cold season for winter biking. Not a lot of snow but a whole lot of cold temperatures. Since most of my bike rides take place at about nine in the morning things don’t have a chance to heat up for the day. That’s if things are going to heat up. I can’t remember exactly how cold it was in December but I do remember thinking that 38º F and sunny was a balmy morning. I only had one morning like that in December. Then on the Monday of New Year’s week I caught a cold.
As colds go it wasn’t a terrible cold but I certainly wasn’t getting on my bike and riding. It was almost two weeks before I got to ride again. I think that was the longest time I didn’t get to ride in a decade. I almost made it back a couple of days earlier than I ended up riding but it was too cold. On my “Hoping to get back to cycling” day the temperature never got past 15ºF. My rule is not to go out cycling if it’s less than 20ºF. If I remember back to last year correctly I didn’t miss any days because of the temperature and it only bottomed out at around 20ºF maybe five to ten times over the whole winter. I remember hoping it would get above freezing before I went out on my ride. This month I’ve been hoping it would reach 20ºF.
The first morning I got back on the bike I was even pacing while waiting for the temperature to rise. I just wanted to get out and get some air and exercise again after my cold. It was an hour past my usual start time and the temperature was stuck at 18ºF. I decided to go anyway and it got to 19ºF as I left out the door. Wha-hoo! At least it was a warm 19ºF that morning. The air was still and the sun was shining. Since temperature is measured in the shade a sunny day makes for higher actual temperatures if you’re out in the sun. On that day it was hotter than the 19ºF it read on my thermometer.
It was a pretty slow ride. Much slower than normal. I still wasn’t at 100%. I’d put it more at 90% which was certainly enough to be back out on the bike but 90% after nearly two weeks off in 19ºF air does not make for much speed. Usually I do my winter ride in thirty to thirty five minutes but this morning took me forty. Time passing on a bike ride is a strange thing. Years ago I used to take a stop watch with me on my rides to time them and compare my times. Sometimes it would feel like I was riding faster than usual and sometimes it would feel like I was riding slower than usual. But I was almost always posting the same time. If memory serves I would be out there for forty seven minutes. I almost never hit forty five or forty nine minutes. I’d say to myself, “That was a slow one” and look at the time and it was forty seven minutes. The same with, “That was a fast one”. So when I got back from my ride that morning and looked at the clock (less precise than a stop watch) and saw it was about a forty minute ride I said to myself, “That really was slow”.
After that first ride I got a pain in my left leg. There was something I wasn’t used to. It was just some muscle pain on the left side of my left upper leg but it had me grabbing my leg all day. I figured that’s the sort of thing that happens when you take two weeks of exercise off but since it hasn’t happened in so long it took me by surprise. No one likes little reminders of their human frailty. It didn’t stop me from cycling and got better in a couple of days but it did give me one tough night of sleep as it hurt through the night.
I spent the rest of the week cycling in 22ºF weather. It got up to 28ºF one day and that felt like summer. The key to winter riding is to wear the right amount of layers to keep warm and keep the wind out so I really have no problem riding in the cold but I have that 20ºF rule for a reason. That’s out where the winter gear starts to be less effective. I found that out one impatient morning a few days ago when I went out in 17ºF weather. I figured it would reach 20ºF as I was on my ride and it did by the end but the first two thirds of my ride were a little colder than I prefer them to be. Once it gets below 20ºF it’s my lower half that gets cold first. I only have two layers of pants compared to five layers on my upper body so that makes sense but where the cold really gets me is in the hands. I’m, of course, wearing my heavy winter cycling gloves but when the air is that frigid my fingertips start to get cold. Everyone who has ever been out in the cold knows that feeling but it’s even worse on a bike. I pull my fingers out of the top of the glove to warm them on my palm but that means I can’t grip the handles bars so I have to do it one hand at a time. And it only warms them for a moment. And the facemark I wear starts to give out at 20ºF too. It’s only one layer and the cold air and wind will come through it when it gets too cold. Especially on the down hills. Most of the gear holds up though so I made it through okay but still it’s not even a thought to go out when it’s 15ºF.
As I write this it’s a Saturday morning at about 9AM and the temperature is again stuck at 17ºF. The sun looks strong out there this morning as it shines away. But still I’m not going out there too early. I’ll give it another half an hour.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got six new comics.
Check them all out here:
What’s on my mind this week? How about my favorite TV shows where nothing ever happens. I’ve written about some of these shows before but thought I’d give them another look to see if anything has changed. This is a genre full of reality “Documentary” shows. When I’m by myself and working on my art I often like to put something on to keep me company. It can’t be something that compels me to watch it or I won’t get any work done. So usually it’s something I can mostly listen too. I’m a fan of history and a fan of documentaries so I put on a lot of those. But there seems to be fewer and fewer actual documentaries on and more and more of those supernatural or mystery documentary style reality shows. They’re not really documenting anything but whatever the hosts are doing in the show. I also call them “Good shows to nap to” and I have napped to them because I can fall asleep and not miss anything.
First on the list is “Finding Bigfoot”. They’re on season six with this show and they still haven’t found Bigfoot. That’ll tell you right there that there is nothing going on. Well not really nothing. The four hosts go out into the woods in various parts of the world and scream and howl in an attempt to find Bigfoot. There are three Bigfoot believers and one sceptic. I gotta figure that’s about the ration you’d need to go hunting for Bigfoot because any more skeptics on the team and they probably wouldn’t even bother. I laugh at the show all the time when they tell us all about “Typical Bigfoot behavior”. They can’t even find one but they know all about its behavior. Cracks me up every time. At least “Finding Bigfoot” is fairly entertaining. They’re mostly out in the woods having a good time.
Next up is “Curse of Oak Island”. This one is in its second season and I think it has ten or so episodes a season. Oak Island is home of “The Money Pit”. That’s a place where supposedly someone at some time in the past buried a secret treasure. It’s the Arc of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Crown Jewels of Scotland, Shakespeare’s secret manuscripts, or your basic pirate’s treasure. It could be anything. The problem is the no one has ever found treasure on Oak Island. The whole thing is probably just a myth but that hasn’t stopped people from digging there. Lots of people over the last hundred years have dug there to no avail. So much of the island has been dug up that no one is even sure where the original spot the treasure was supposed to be is. This show is all about the current people who are digging on the island. So far after twenty episodes or so they have found no treasure. They have found a couple of small things like an old Spanish coin of the wrong age (there have been people on the island for hundreds of years) and some old wood but it had lead them no where. I think they’d have more fun looking for Bigfoot.
“America Unearthed” in another of my background shows. This one can occasionally have some actual interesting history in it though. It stars a forensic geologist who travels around the USA looking for bits of history that have gone unreported. Y’know, the Knights Templar and such came to the US and know one really knows about it but they left evidence behind. They’re on season three with this one with about ten shows a season. Sometimes the show is interesting and sometimes ridiculous. It’s more evidence based than the first two shows but sometimes it goes out into speculation-ville and never comes back.
I’ve tried out a couple of new background TV shows recently and they’ve been a little lacking. The first is “Finding Giants”. It’s in it’s first season and is all about a couple of brothers who have decided to hunt down the legends of giants and prove they are real. Yes, they believe that a race of really big humans existed in the US and there is evidence of them. They track down a bunch of old newspaper articles and go to the places they were written about. That is a really thin premise. There is not much going on in this show at all so it’s mostly the same thing over and over. Hey, let’s track down this lead. Wait we found nothing. Oh well.
There was another show that I had on in the background for a bunch of episodes but it was too insipid for my taste. I can’t even remember its name since I don’t have any of the episodes hanging around. It was “Hidden History” or some such. There are a lot of shows with similar names so who knows which one it was. But it was one of those kinds that deals with three or four different mystery stories in an hour. At least the shows I mentioned have to construct some kind of story for their hour but this one just hits the highlights of “The Shroud of Turin”, “The Holy Grail”, or some other mystery. It’s the fluffiest of the fluff shows and even as background made me turn it off.
One of the type of shows that I don’t like and never have on in the background are those ghost hunting shows. They always turned me off and I only recently was able to suss out why. I blame it on bad storytelling. There are two different type of ghost hunting shows. Type one has a person sitting there and telling you their ghost story that is reenacted by the show. Problem is that usually the person is just an average person and not a good storyteller. So they’re telling you a boring story and then showing it to you. Yawn. The other type is ghost hunters going into some old building late at night and filming dust particles. At least with “Finding Bigfoot” you get nice locations. But with ghost hunting the locations are all the same. Dark rooms.
So there are some of this years background shows for you. Oh yeah, and I’m still watching a ton of YouTube comic book haul videos. Those are always good.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got eleven new comics.
Check them all out here:
I’ve written before about my reading habits but it seems I’ve developed a new one that’s been working for me. At least where it comes to the many collected editions of comic books that I have on my shelves. For a few years there, about 2008-2011, I was mainly buying collected editions rather than monthly comics. There weren’t enough monthly comics that I was interested in. But then I started searching out more monthlies and Image Comics in particular started publishing a lot more comics I was interested in. So for the last three years it’s been mostly single issues for me. That’s good because I like single issues.
As much as I like a well made hard cover book of comics I prefer reading my comics monthly. I’m not much of a binge consumer of anything. I don’t sit down and watch many episodes of TV shows or movies in a row. I prefer one episode a night if I have a lot of one particular show to watch. Binging gets boring for me. I can’t sit still that long. I also like the wait between episodes and I enjoy variety. So I prefer having a stack of ten different comics to read rather than ten issues of one comic.
I’ve got my monthly comics reading habit down pat now. I’ve got it to the point where I read all my new comics twice. I’ve found the key to that is to leave them out and available for a few weeks rather than file them away. So I buy them, put them on the end table next to my reading chair, read one, and then put the read copy on top of my inkjet printer. That way the already read copies are still in front of me. I can easily glance at them, thumb through them, or give them a second read before filing them away. Being on top of my printer they’re also kind of in the way which encourages me to read them again in a timely manner. It’s a weird little habit but it works. I get more enjoyment out of my comics reading them twice. Plus a lot of modern comics read really fast so it’s not much trouble to read them again. But that leaves my collected editions out of the loop.
As I wrote before I don’t buy a ton of collected editions anymore but I still get some of them. I have a wish list of stuff on Amazon that my family buys off of at Christmas and my birthday so I get them for presents. Plus I often see good deals online and pick up a book or two here and there or want to try out something new from my local comic shop. The problem is that I wasn’t always reading them after I got them.
Back when I was mostly buying collections my reading habits were simple. Pick out a collection to read and then keep it out until I read it. Repeat. The problem I ran into with that is many of the collections I bought really weren’t meant to be binge read. And I don’t like binge reading anyway. A lot of the collections I bought were of old genre comics. I got a lot of the Atlas Era Marvel Masterworks books for example. I like them a lot and find them interesting but they are mostly made up of eight page stories from the 1950s. It’s tough to read thirty or forty such stories on the same subject in a row. They just weren’t made to be read like that. So I just sort of stopped reading them. I was still buying some of them but they languished as I read my now healthy supply of monthly comics.
Cut to this Christmas. I got a few new collections as presents plus the last week of the year is a slow one for new comics. I read all my monthly comics and even read them all twice and cleared them off the top of my printer. So I grabbed one of my new collected editions and gave it a read. As I wrote before I’m not a binge reader so I only read one issue of “Glory: The Complete Saga” and then put it down. Later on I found myself wanting to read a comic but not “Glory” so I ended up reading nothing. After all “Glory” was the one that was out to be read.
After a couple of times of that I decided I needed a new reading habit. I had already read another book I had received for Christmas called “Shoplifter” but that was a graphic novel and not a collection. And it was short so that was not a problem. But I also had a pile of collections sitting on a footstool nearby. My Christmas books plus a few things I purchased recently and left out to read. Turns out I never read them and they just got more stuff stacked on them.
Next time I wanted something to read I grabbed a “Serenity” collected edition, which had been sitting around for a month, and read an issue from that. After that I grabbed a collection of Richard Corben “Creepy” stories which had been sitting around for two years. After that “Winterworld” which I bought a few weeks ago.
I stack all these collected editions in a new place. On my drafting chair. I have to find a better place but for now the chair is okay. It’s in my line of sight and I don’t sit on it a ton since I stand and work. I can easily grab a book off it to read. I finished up “Glory” and “Serenity” pretty quickly and have since added “Starstruck” and “Starman: Omnibus Volume 6” to the pile. Those are both books that have been on my shelf unread since 2011. That’s a crazy amount of time to not read a book but they are both huge volumes with three and five hundred pages in them and I was never in the mood to read ten issues of “Starman” in a row. Now I don’t have to.
With this new habit I’m enjoying reading my collected editions again. I’m especially liking the Richard Corben “Creepy” stories because this is more how they were meant to be read. Since there was usually one Corben drawn short story every monthly issue or so of “Creepy” they weren’t supposed to be read ten stories in a sitting. A sameness crept into them when I tried reading them that way and it was tough to pay attention to the details of any one story. Now that I’ve been reading them a story or two at a time and then moving on to something different I appreciate the Corben stories much more. They get my full concentration. I like when I can make my habits work for me and not against me.