New Roof, Last Training

Day’s Verse:
People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all.
Matthew 4:24-ish

Today the Cornerstone Roofing guys come and replace our roof. Also today I leave for my last scheduled Bicycle Alliance training, in Port Angeles. Last night I slept terribly, dreaming about the roof going wrong, waking up anxious, and then thinking it was time to get up to finish packing for the training.

I’m excited to get the roof dealt with, but last week we had an interesting development that hopefully won’t spell trouble for the future.

A little quick back story: When we bought our house, we had to sign a Homeowners Association agreement (CC&Rs) that, among other things, stipulated we had to get approval from the Architectural Committee before making any changes to the exterior of our house. A new roof definitely counts as external changes. So we got the form, filled it out, and mailed it off along with a picture showing a sample of the roofing color we’d chosen. This approval can take up to 30 days, so we did this a while ago.

Early last week I got a phone call from one of the guys on the committee. He said the original roofs in the neighborhood had all been black, and they were concerned that the color we’d chosen (“Weathered Wood,” a dark greyish-brownish) wasn’t dark enough. Could they see a sample? Yes, I could get a sample, but how about if I gave them addresses of a couple houses with that color roofing? Cornerstone Roofing had given me references of homes nearby that they’d done, and that included a couple with the same color we chose. He responded enthusiastically that yes, that would be perfect. He’d email the committee and they’d get back to us next week. Oh…um…about that. Next Wednesday (today) we’re scheduled to put the new roof on. OH, really? Well, he’d make sure to go see those houses that week, and we’d hear back early the next week; and here’s his phone number, in case I needed to reach him. Since then, we’ve heard not a peep.

In this case, I’m trusting that no news is good news, because this is what’s going on in our front yard right now:
Front Yard

And this is the view from our bedroom window:
View from Bedroom

And last but not least, the incredibly cool conveyor belt used to move shingles from the delivery truck up onto the roof.
Conveyor Belt!!
If I was a little boy, this would be the awesomest thing ever, getting our very own construction project, including heavy equipment. As it is, it’s just almost the awesomest.

Anyway, I’m trusting that the Architectural Committee won’t have a heart attack when they see our new roof. Either way, I won’t be here to deal with it until next week! I’ll be in Port Angeles through Friday evening, and on Saturday have an all-day Team Group Health commitment. By Sunday I’m sure I’ll be so exhausted I won’t be able to get out of bed.

Wish me luck!

If I Could Name Streets…

Day’s Verse:
Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
Matthew 5:39-42

This week I am going to Benton City for work. As I was looking at the map of the town, a series of their street names made me smile.


View Larger Map

I can hardly wait to visit Dusty, Windy, Snowy, Rainy, Lightning, Thunder, Sandy, and Breezy Lanes. On the other hand, I’m really hoping those aren’t indicative of typical conditions out there — I’m hoping to visit Sunny Lane and Dry Lane. Definitely no Snowy Lane on this trip.

This is the last training on my schedule until March. The grant concludes this coming March, meaning that’s the end of my job. Really this week is the end, and we just have a little bit of cleanup in the spring.

I’m going to be spending some time assessing my situation and figuring out what my future will look like, at least as much as a person can plan for the future. I can already tell it’s not going to be what I would’ve guessed even a month ago.

PS – To celebrate the end of my BAW trainings, I’m seriously considering getting this frame for my race bike. Zoom zoom.

Auburn & Burien TTT, Plus New Nutrition and Scoliosis Treatment

Day’s Verse:
Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
A minus that won’t add up.

Ecclesiastes 1:15

Well, gosh. Where has time gone? I can hardly believe it’s been 10 days since I last blogged. On the other hand, enough has happened that I could well believe it’s been more like a month.

Quick health-related update: I went and saw Emily Edison, a sports nutritionist, today (I now have two alliterative-name healthcare people in my life. Just sayin’). Wow, so much information to assimilate. Yet I think it may be the best $185 — the visit was definitely not covered by insurance — I’ve spent in a long time. I’m going to see her again in a couple weeks, by which time if I follow her recommendations, I will have revolutionized my eating. For some reason talking with her about food and my eating disorder made me a bit teary, which was odd.

I also am in the midst of getting an appointment with a scoliosis specialist. I found the doctor I’d seen back in high school — his name is Wally Krengel, and he now works for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Because he works for Children’s, they don’t readily make appointments for anybody over age 21, and definitely don’t see people over age 30. Dr. Morrison’s office had faxed a referral to his office, but when I called to make an appointment, they told me he didn’t work there anymore, and I needed to have it faxed elsewhere. And, last but not least, Children’s did have me in their system — as Kathleen Sullivan. I can’t get them to change my name without documentation of the name change. Ha! So that’s in the works: I have to wait until my request for an appointment is approved (hopefully!) by some high-up scheduling manager, and until Dr. Morrison’s office sends the referral that includes my maiden name to the right office. All this so I can talk to Dr. Krengel and hopefully get him to agree to weekly PT visits as palliative care for my scoliosis. If he does that, then I get to start the real fun of trying to convince the insurance company to agree to pay for it.

In happier news, I earned some money these last two weeks! I started up teaching again, albeit on a limited basis. As you may recall, I do work for two Bicycle Alliance grants: CPPW (Communities Putting Prevention to Work, a broad-based anti-obesity effort) and OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a Safe Routes to School initiative aimed at getting kids walking/biking to school specifically). The OSPI teaching stalled for five months thanks to the Great Buy American Fiasco. The CPPW grant initially only scheduled two trainings, so it was always a secondary concern; it’s OSPI that has 27 school districts to train. Neither of them scheduled any trainings during the summer, partly thanks to the Buy American issue, and partly because PE teachers don’t work in the summer and contractually aren’t obligated to come to trainings during that time. That’s really a shame, because summer is still the best time to do the training. All that to say that, although I’ve been hearing rumors that the OSPI grant coordinator has hammered out some solution, my work for the last two weeks came from CPPW.

I taught August 17 and 18 in Auburn, at the same site where we did the fateful late-March monsoon training. This actually turned out to be a boon, since I already knew the area, had a road ride route scouted, and generally needed less time for setup than at a totally new site — all beneficial after almost 5 months off.

It was a difficult training, for a few reasons:

  1. I didn’t remember all the material perfectly. It’d been months since I thought about this, after all, so transitions weren’t real smooth and I repeated myself too often. I didn’t have details at my fingertips anymore, and I didn’t remember what was happening next very well. The Feet First trainer, Lisa, was also rusty on her material, and she and I have only taught together once before. That made it a bit tricky to start.
  2. We had three students, all male PE teachers, none loquacious, and one tending toward taciturn. These guys had not chosen to attend the first training, and were less enthusiastic than the first batch of CPPW trainees. Even with a higher level of enthusiasm, though, it’s just hard to get a good discussion going with only three people. One of the trainees hadn’t ridden a bike since elementary school, and he’d specifically avoided bike-related classes when doing his PE degree in college. He confessed to me at the end that he’d been dreading the training (no wonder he was late!).
  3. I co-taught with a newly-minted LCI named Mark, who volunteers for the Bicycle Alliance and gave his time for those two days for free. That was extremely generous of him, but it’s always rocky teaching with somebody for the first time. Each LCI tends to have his or her hobbyhorse, too, issue(s) that the LCI just feels MUST be covered — even if it’s not 100% relevant or necessary for that specific audience. Not having taught together, I didn’t know what Mark’s hot-button issues were, and we didn’t have the kind of rapport that would let me cut him off gracefully.

For those various reasons, I exerted a lot of energy on the training, and came home exhausted at the end of each day. Getting up at 5:00 am and commuting to/from Auburn each day probably contributed, too (I cannot BELIEVE people do that commute on a regular basis! How awful!). However, I think it was a success overall. The guys all expressed a greater level of enthusiasm about teaching the unit at the end; they gave high marks on our mostly-useless evaluation sheets; the guy who was dreading it asked how much an introductory-level bike would cost and where he could get one, and told me he felt much more confident and at ease; one of the other guys was already planning how he’d use his experience with the unicycle club in the unit. We also certified one of the teachers as passing Traffic Skills 101, and he did very well at the additional handling skills, which Mark taught par excellence.

A couple days after the class finished, I talked over my experiences with Mom, and we came up with some alternative ways of covering some of the material that I felt went less than smoothly.

On August 23 and 24, I taught for CPPW again, this time in Burien. I’d already gone down to the site, Cedarhurst Elementary School, the previous week to scout out the roads. The downside of teaching at the school was that it didn’t open until a bit later than I’d like, so I felt frazzled for time as we set up. The room, however, was perfect, and we were ready when the participants started showing up.

We had three participants schedule for that training, too, so I was ready with some modifications to how I taught for very small classes. Good thing, because only two people showed up. The third guy, who’d missed the previous week’s training, managed to also miss this week’s training (food poisoning one week, car trouble the next; I expect to hear he has to wash his hair or something next time). John, the Bicycle Alliance CPPW coordinator who has attended every one of his trainings so far, got a flat tire on his way there and had to replace all four car tires, making him 3 hours late. Fortunately, I didn’t actually need John there, so we just went on without him.

This training went more smoothly. It helped that I’d just gone over the material. I also taught with Jen from Feet First, and she and I have taught together often enough to do it smoothly. I didn’t have a co-LCI (what’s the point, with only two students?), so I could do whatever worked for me without negotiating. BWAHAHAH. Anyway — The students were also more familiar with bicycling. Both had done STP at some point, even if it had been many years in the past, and were familiar with traffic principles and bicycling principles in general. Both were women, although only one was a PE teacher, and it was actually really great to have all women in the training. I’d like to do more all-women classes.

So the Burien CPPW training went better. We finished early on both days; the first day, I did additional Traffic Skills 101 material with the one student who wanted to do certification in the extra time. She passed with flying colors. The second day, I left at 12:30, a record, and I felt anxious that I’d left out something important because it was so early. Anyway, it went well, and by the end, the PE teacher (who just dropped her daughter off in Pullman for her freshman year as a Coug) was calling me “dear.” Success?

Now I have a few weeks until the next training. Nothing is scheduled, but CPPW needs one more training, and OSPI should be starting up mid-September. I had forgotten how good I feel when I can leave knowing I’ve had an impact on how people ride, getting non-riders to think about bicycling… And how many hundreds of students are impacted? It’s amazing to think about, really. In the meantime, I have a PT appointment, I meet with Emily again, and I will be riding my bike plenty. Most of all, I need to reconnect with some friends I haven’t seen for most of August.

Back from the Palouse & April 23 Ride Report

Day’s Verse:
Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last.
Luke 23:46ish

They call ’em the Palouse Hills, and rightly so, as far southeastern Washington does have its share of impressive hills. But I’d like to suggest another name: The Palouse Wind Tunnel. More on that later; I’m jumping ahead.

Instead of telling a long-winded tale, let me give you the highlights — but only if highlights also includes low points, because unfortunately, this trip to Pomeroy had very little to recommend it. Check beneath the fold for “highlights” of the trip, in no particular order.

On Friday evening, after driving back from Dayton, I mowed the lawn and then went to Good Friday dinner with our journey community from church. It was nice to spend the evening with friends rather than by myself.

And a quick ride report. Today I rode 75 miles, extending the 55-mile RTS #5 ride by riding to and from Marymoor, which was the official starting point. The front riders took it easy today so I was able to keep up with them almost the entire way. The RTS rides are interesting in that there’s no regrouping, so if you fall behind at a stoplight or going up a hill, you either speed up to catch the group, or you stay behind alone forever. I hung on until maybe 10 miles from Marymoor, after which I slowly fell farther and farther behind. Even so, I averaged 17.4 mph to that point, and averaged 17.0 mph total, with an average heart rate of 148 (that means I was working pretty hard overall). Dad and I took a slightly hillier way back, avoiding the Sammamish River Trail, which slowed my average a bit. Why? Because today was the most gorgeous day we’ve had since last August, sunny and highs in the 60s, and everybody else went for a bike ride or a walk on the trail. I finished the ride in shorts and short sleeves. As a result, it also appears that I’ve managed to get my first sunburn of the year, including starting an excellent fingerless bicycle glove tan that I sport every summer.

Continue reading “Back from the Palouse & April 23 Ride Report”

Safe Routes to School Training #1: Done!

Day’s Verse:
It’s better to be wise than strong;
intelligence outranks muscle any day.

Proverbs 24:5

All right, this isn’t the world’s shortest or most creative title, but it does get the job done, and it has the added bonus of giving you a taste of what the rest of this post is going to be like: Long and workmanlike. That said, let’s dive into it.

…I started to write a post describing what happened during the training, but that’s just not compelling to me right now. Instead, here are some things that stuck out to me.

1. Running the training even with helpers is very draining (I’m letting Future Katie worry about the trainings she’s teaching by herself). The elementary and middle school PE teachers seem an awfully lot like the students they teach, probably not by coincidence, so they tended to do well with the hands-on interactive parts of the training and very quickly started getting bored and distracted during PowerPoint presentations. For example, when I told them, “It’s important to have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke,” they looked bored. When I had them stand up and try walking around squatting as if their knees weren’t extended while pedaling, they got it. But that kind of interaction takes serious effort and tires me out. Also, I started going into people overload by the end of the first day of training, and I needed time by myself to recharge.

2. Lynden is flat, but makes up for it by having constant, steady, strong wind. (I hear Holland is like that. Must’ve felt homey to the Dutch people who originally settled Lynden.)

3. You can tell people to bring a lunch and have their bikes checked out before the class, and they’ll all still come on Wal-Mart specials they borrowed from a friend’s garage that morning. One guy’s pedal fell off during the road ride. The ABC Quick Check doesn’t cover that! Only one of the participants rode a bike with any frequency, and many of them couldn’t remember the last time they’d been on a bike. That’s a very, very different demographic than the groups I’ve taught with Cascade for their Urban Cycling Techniques class. However, they were much more engaged and willing to participate than I expected, and overall the tone of the class felt upbeat. The students were laughing and joking, at least, and that’s always a good thing.

4. PowerPoint is boring, but good for showing pictures. Is there some other way to teach principles of traffic law besides lecturing, in the short time we have? I hope so, because I’m no lecturer and on Tuesday I’m teaching a group in Sedro-Woolley. Plus I don’t have a laptop, which makes using PowerPoint difficult.

5. Eileen did most of the teaching about the kids’ curriculum side of things, which is what the teachers were really interested in. I’m questioning whether trying to push through all the Traffic Skills 101 need-to-knows is worth it for teachers, who keep wanting to know how it relates to what they’re teaching their students. Throughout the class, we kept having to try to distinguish “This is only for adults” versus “This is something you’ll teach your kids.” It felt cumbersome, and I kind of wonder if it’s (a) worth teaching all of TS101; and (b) wise to have TS101 and the kids’ material so integrated with each other. Future Katie is going to worry about teaching teachers something she’s never actually taught to kids herself. But as somebody reminded me today: The teachers don’t know any better, right? So whatever I tell them is what they’re getting. They don’t know I don’t have 30 years of experience teaching, the way Eileen does (OK, obviously since I’m not 30 years old yet I can’t have taught for that long, but you get the point).

6. PE teachers are exceptionally good at coming up with ideas for games.

7. MORE HANDS-ON LEARNING.

8. PE teachers are also coaches, and coaches have athletic events that they have to leave for early in the afternoon. That means training scheduled to end at, say, 4:00 pm will have very few people actually still there at 4:00 pm. We had 3 of 7 people leave early the first day, and it would’ve been the same on the second day except we finished early. We’ll have to dramatically revamp the afternoon sessions so that people who have to leave early don’t miss stuff they can’t pick up later or by themselves. That’s going to be very difficult.

9. It’s impossible to remember participants’ behavior on the bike detailed enough to do an accurate assessment on the TS101 road ride rubric. So we just try to think of any egregious mistakes they made and say everything else was good. Everybody passed. In fact, we had two people who were firm “ride facing traffic” advocates to start with, and by the end they did the road ride with all the same good vehicular cycling behavior you’d hope for. It was really encouraging to see. At the very end, after everybody else left, the organizer told us something amazing: Some of the participants hadn’t talked to each other that civilly in years. The positive vibe we got during the training — that was new. One teacher had actually switched schools because of the conflict. Wow! Not only did they learn a bunch about bicycling (and pedestrian stuff too); not only did they get this kick-ass curriculum in a gorgeous shiny binder; but they also got a great positive team-building experience, too. I’m deeply grateful that the organizer told us that. It made the whole thing feel worth it.

10. I’m hungry and I have a super intense, hilly ride tomorrow. Time to eat, and then eat some more for good measure. Oh, real quick, I’ll add that I had a PT appointment focused on therapeutic massage for my back. My PT guy has a student, which is cool, but it’s a little weird to have them talking about me…while I’m laying there on the table. Reminds me of a time when I was getting fitted for my back brace and the doctor actually called his student into the room from elsewhere. He said “Wow, look at this amazing classic [whatever]! You never see this!” Also, although I’m sure they used English words it was still a completely different vocabulary, which made me feel a bit more like a specimen and less like a person. The massage was very light because anything else was fairly tender. Maybe next time will go better.

What I’m Up To

Day’s Verse:
Give yourselves to disciplined instruction;
open your ears to tested knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12

I feel that my recent work with the Bicycle Alliance needs a little bit of explaining. It’s not the kind of work I can summarize quickly in a word or phrase. Ian can say, “I’m a software engineer,” or “I’m a programmer,” and people have some idea of what he spends his days doing. My current employment situation isn’t so easy to succinctly describe. So here goes.

Before my AmeriCorps internship ended, the Bicycle Alliance started applying for grants to teach bike classes. Not just to anybody, though. With these grants, they teach bike classes based on Traffic Skills 101 to PE teachers — either elementary or middle school — as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The PE teachers would then take their new knowledge about bicycling and use it to teach a bike unit in their PE classes. This isn’t a new idea; the Bicycle Alliance did a pilot program along these lines with just a few school districts, and these grants really build on that experience.

The Bicycle Alliance received three grants along those lines, with some variations (one is for college-level instructors). After my internship ended, the Bicycle Alliance hired me and another LCI — Eileen Hyatt, the gal who originally did the pilot program — as contractors. We’ve spent from January to now working with Feet First, a pedestrian advocacy organization, to:

  • Figure out exactly what we’re going to do in this 2-day seminar — essentially create an agenda based loosely on Traffic Skills 101 that also serves as our curriculum. It’s much bigger than TS101, though; it’s TS101 plus pedestrian information plus training on how to teach the kids’ curriculum. We have 15 hours total to teach this huge volume of information to PE teachers.
  • Modify the kids’ PE curriculum to include pedestrian lessons.
  • Work with the Bicycle Alliance’s coordinators (they have 2 staff people coordinating the details of 2 of the grants. One we call the OSPI grant, the other the CPPW grant) to get details for the classes in place.

That’s what I’ve been doing so far. Now we move into the next phase, which is actually teaching the classes. This involves driving to remote areas — Lynden and Sedro-Wooley are my first two — and:

  • Scouting out around the area to find a road ride route that meets the Traffic Skills 101 requirements.
  • Marking (with paint, chalk, sponges, or 1/2 tennis balls) a bike handling skills course on the ground in the parking lot provided to us.
  • Teaching the class: 8 am to 4 pm two days in a row; Feet First is there on the first day, and then I’m on my own the second day.
  • Doing a bunch of paperwork after the class.

Since Lynden is our first-ever class, we’re going to have an abundance of teachers: Two people from Feet First, me, Eileen, and an LCI from near Lynden who we’re hoping to bring in to help teach these classes. Eileen drove all the way from Spokane for this. She’s staying with us two nights on either end of the class, and we’re staying with the LCI in Lynden tonight and tomorrow night. I think we’re all somewhat nervous; I know I am.

I have to try to learn all the stuff that relates to classroom management of elementary/middle school kids with bikes and all those detail things about actually running the class. Eileen, who was a teacher before she “retired,” has that stuff down cold. She’s been working on this program for 20 years. I, on the other hand, just came into this in September and I’ve never laid out the kids’ course, managed a class of 30 squirrely 6th graders, or tried to wrangle parent volunteers. I have a lot to learn before I can confidently go teach teachers how to do some of these things. And I have to learn it fast, because next Tuesday and Wednesday I’m teaching this same class in Sedro-Wooley, except by myself.

Between now and mid-April, I teach one class per week — each one takes 3 or 4 days, depending on the location — with one week off. For the OSPI grant alone, which runs through 2012 (assuming the world doesn’t end), the Bicycle Alliance is teaching 29 school districts throughout Washington State. We’re going to be very busy.

In addition to the LCI teaching work, the Bicycle Alliance also hired me to help co-manage the OSPI grant. That’s a fairly new addition to my plate, and I’m not 100% sure what that will pan out to look like.

So that’s what I’ve been doing and what I will be doing for the next year or so. Now I have to finish getting my supplies together for the trip to Lynden. I won’t have access to a computer between today and Thursday night (gasp!) so if you need me, please call or text my cell phone. I’ll be available evenings. Wish me luck — I sure hope it goes well!