For a variety of reasons, I have been on a solo vacation at home while TLO escorted her parents around Europe (don't worry; TLO will return on November 1).
It's been interesting, a sort of view into what kind of bachelor I might be.
First insight: really, really messy.
As for what I've done on my vacation, lots. It was a good time to work on side projects, mostly cycling related, including working on our club's rather elaborate cyclocross race. The real organization was all "Tobin" (not his real name), but when he asked me to build a foam machine, I...got my dad to help. And we built it! I'd like to do build plans soon, but it needs refinement.
Here's some hints though: 60 parts water, 4 parts soap, 1 part glycerin. Use a leaf blower. We tried using a scroll fan for inflating a bouncy castle, and it didn't have nearly enough air pressure. Sew (or duct tape) up a sock out of that black anti-weed ground cloth to stick over the nose of the leaf blower. Then we siphoned the soap/water mix from a 2-gallon siphoning jug dad had lying around, via a tube about the diameter of a straw, removing the need for a separate pump. This was the result:
Version 1 is good enough to make impromptu foam if you have a leaf blower, no other expensive parts needed. It's what we used at Lioncross, and it's a bit labor-intensive and fussy (by which I mean you need two people, and you're going to get soap in your mouth from siphoning), but it worked.
For version 2, I'm experimenting with a cheap immersion pump meant for garden water features, and looking for a 2.5 gallon bucket to put it in. The result if I do it right will be a backpack-mounted foamthrower. Also, maybe a hydration pack would work well...
Canadian Aviation Museum
Due to a mix-up where I drove halfway to a bike race before realizing I had no bike, I was in Langley with time on my hands. I finally went to the aviation museum there.
It's a dump, but a fantastic, wonderful, magical dump. There are a hodgepodge of exhibits from a Merlin 12-cylinder engine (the most famous powerplant of World War II) rusting outside with its valve covers off, to a meticulously restored and preserved Waco, to a mess of models and odd bits, to a former Snowbirds plane, and a Lancaster bomber, and an CF-104 Starfighter that you're allowed to sit in. Too much to mention, only $10, well worth a trip to the Langley airport for a dedicated aviation nerd.
So this guy named Ashley tells me that since I'm going to Bellingham, I should stop at "Elizabeth Station" and get some great beer. So I did. I pulled up, told the clerks I was from Canada, would drink anything and wanted six beers I couldn't get at home. They came through with six amazing beers. Their selection is immense and heavily weighted to the absurd proliferation of small breweries in the Pacific Northwest. I will do that again. And again.
Tracklocross Stage Race
I also realized that between a Feature Friday Night event at the velodrome, and a cyclocross doubleheader weekend, and a low-key Tuesday night cyclocross race, I could easily do four events in five days.
So I did. My results were not great, but to my surprise recovery wasn't a huge problem. Embarrassingly, a 15-year-old girl named Maggie was also at all four events, racing at the same time as me each event, and beat me EVERY TIME. She's good, so it's not too depressing, but it's a little depressing.
So much fun, but I managed to damage two team kits, a front wheel, and I have abrasions and chainring cuts all over my lower body. What a messy improvised stage race. I went so hard on Sunday's race that I casually threw up just a bit after the race ended and I was talking with teammates.
One Wild Birthday
Because my birthday coincided with two other events I really wanted to do, but I also felt that some friends would want to get together with me, I ended up having a rather busy birthday. First thing in the morning, I was in Bellingham for a cyclocross race. Then I trekked back home, took care of the dogs, and headed out to my afternoon event, VCON, where I gave a talk entitled "A Brief History of Video Games." The talk was well-received, and I'd like to give it again, so if you have an event where a breezy, kinetic, well-rehearsed 30-minute talk (with slides; it works well in a 1-hour time slot with Q&A) on where video games came from would be a good idea, please contact me.
After that, I sent out a low-key invitation to have drinks and snacks at 9:30 at my house.
My lovely friends wouldn't let it be so low-key, and they came out and we had a grand little party at the end of a great and busy birthday. All three events I did that day were exactly how I would want to spend my birthday; it was remarkable to combine them so tidily.
Look, the two rather crazy nights that me, Other Tobin, and FONG conspired on will remain un-detailed. But there was a lot of good beer in play.
I worked a bit on my career, on getting projects cleaned up, and on one of my great loves, being the communications and membership guy for my bike club. All little things I just had more mind-share for. I also recruited both my brother and father into helping with strange things related to the bike club, namely trailer towing and snow-moving. I saw many friends, including Andrew who came and sharpened my knives, and made time for myself, too.
I wanted to do more (the line in Valve's Steam app that tells me how much time I spent playing just one video game is a bit depressing), but I did a lot. I cooked a lot of food, too, and hardly ate out at all. I would love to find a way to turn my life into a permanent sabbatical, not so I could not-work, but rather so I could do the work-like things that really amuse me. This very free-form me-time was a great way to get insight into what I actually want to do with my life. If you have the chance, it's a good thing to do.
And also, I miss TLO quite badly, and am very glad she's home in 8 days.