• Spring Sprang Sprung

    It was a perfect springlike day Monday, so I hopped on the Iguana to do a little OpenStreetMapping — there was a note on the website saying that a Moravian spiritual retreat just outside of town had been closed, and I thought if I could go there and confirm it on the ground, I’d go ahead and make the change when I got home. The former retreat was right next to a new park too, so I could also do a little exploring when I got there.

    My ride was pretty low-key: I was just out in street clothes and boots (and my helmet), something I’d been doing lately for casual riding; I was also inspired to keep it simple by Bike Snob’s recent article… I tooled up Main Street to Macada, then Altonah, then made a right onto Santee Mill Road, which is basically as bucolic as the City of Bethlehem gets. I was looking for a road/path off Santee Mill to take me into the park, but never found it (I saw later it was smaller than a sidewalk and very easy to miss). No matter, I continued forward, back into civilization, and entered the park from the front. Just outside the park entrance was a house where the retreat would have been; the house had posts out front, from which there might once have hung shingles, and the shingles might once have said “Spiritual Retreat” or whatever, but the shingles were gone now and there was a big “Private” sign by the driveway. So Phase 1 of my exploration was complete…

    That left the park — officially, “The Janet Johnston Housenick & William D. Housenick Memorial Park” but apparently just called “Housenick Park” by normal people. This is a parcel of land donated by Janet Johnston Housenick, granddaughter of Archibald Johnston, the first mayor of the consolidated City of Bethlehem (he was also chief architect of that consolidation, and a high ranking executive at Bethlehem Steel — he was as Bethlehem as it gets). The land was once part of the Johnston farm/estate, and it includes the old Archibald Johnston Mansion. The park is fairly new and still under construction/renovation, but there are a bunch of new footpaths and old carriage roads, and I cruised around for about an hour, taking pictures.

    It’s hard to believe looking at it, but the estate only dates from the 1910’s or 1920’s — it looks typical of a farmstead from about 100 years earlier — and the house was built using Bethlehem Steel beams. There was a boat house and tennis courts (or the ruins of them), but there were also lime kilns and the remains of orchards, ornaments in a hobbyist’s historical reenactment of country-squire life.

    The ride home was uneventful, and pleasant though the day was getting breezy. I returned via Township Line Road, which eventually becomes Altonah, and basically retraced my steps from there. I went about 16 miles all told, and total ride time was just over 2 hours

  • Winter’s Last Hurrah

    I went out XC skiing this morning — I noticed, on a little towpath hike yesterday, that the snow still seemed pretty decent, so I went to bed early and rose early with the plan, if the temperature was below freezing, to get in one more session.

    I was not as early as I would have liked, but I managed to get out for about two hours on Ilick’s Mill recreation fields (behind the swimming pool) and the golf course, covering just over three miles.

    me in snow
    Me at Ilick’s Mill

    Conditions were not the absolute best, but there was a lot of area still covered with snow, and a lot of the snow was still in pretty good shape; the skiing was actually pretty good, especially on the Ilick’s Mill side. There were multiple tracks already laid and crisscrossing each other, and I followed one track or another depending on what looked interesting. (I could see what looked like the same at the golf course, but the only tracks I found when I got there were goose tracks.) Since I expect this snow to be gone by tomorrow I didn’t want to stop, I wanted to see everything before I left even though my legs were getting tired, but conditions deteriorated as the sun, and temperature, climbed; I turned around when my skis started sticking.

    snowy field
    The public golf course in winter.

    This snow was the stuff that fell last weekend, which I’d thought was no good and only likely to get worse, but there was a cold snap this past week, and conditions were awesome when I got out Wednesday night. Go figure, O me of little faith…

    This was at Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus, my first time there, night-skiing (also a first) with Renee. I’m sure I looked ridiculous, skiing along with a bicycle helmet (which is what my light mounts to), but I had fun. Besides, it was dark.

    Now the sun is out, the temperature is in the mid 40’s, and tonight looks like rain — there may still be more snow this season, but the air has felt like spring for more than a week now, and I think that today was winter’s last hurrah.

    By the way, this was me in Vermont, when we were out in “real winter,” with daytime temperatures in the single digits:

    me in snow
    Booger Man! It’s really just condensation. Mostly.

  • At The Library

    I’m blogging from the library right now, where some doofus keeps making noise by moving his chair and bumping into the heat vents, another keeps coughing, and there’s a constant chatter from somewhere near the front. Whatever happened to quiet??

    Meantime, my book quest continues. I got a recommendation for local author Carmen Machado, but the library doesn’t have her, so I picked up War of the Gods by Poul Anderson and Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett; neither book is on my “recommended” list, but both authors have books on the list, so I guess that’s close enough… By the way I returned Surface Detail today, mostly unread.

  • No Bad News

    It turned that my headache problem wasn’t allergies, sinus or whatever after all. My nose was stuffy, sure, but what was really going on was that I had a stiff neck: I’d been lifting weights lately and pulled something in my neck or upper back; between that and the long car ride, the whole area between my shoulders was one huge knot. One day out XC skiing and it all loosened up again, and I felt great. Perfect!

    Of course, we’re back home now, so there’s that, but we did have a great few days away. We got to see Burlington, by day and by night, and we — finally! — got in a bit of winter fun too. (It snowed here overnight, ironically enough.) Now we’re getting back into the swing of things, and I also started (today) playing easy duets with Donna H. I guess we did OK, but we’re both beginners and it shows…

  • Good News and Bad News

    Anne and I are up in Burlington VT, chasing winter conditions, trying to get our XC ski on and I think we found what we’re looking for. We drove up yesterday, today is for hanging out in town, and tomorrow and Wednesday look good for Bolton and von Trapp. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that I seem to have some cold, or an allergy, possibly to something in our hotel room, making me all headachy when I sleep. I had them change the pillows (I hope it helps, but the room stinks of carpet cleaner), and I took some benadryl; I want nothing more than to go take a nap, but we’re trying to stay outside for as long as possible. Ugh…

  • The Sap is Rising

    The days are getting longer, and the air is feeling more spring-like even when there’s snow on the ground. That spring air is starting to get into my blood too, and I’ve started doing morning exercises again (pushups, sit-ups and dumbbell exercises), as well as grabbing some easy saddle time. It’s coming…

  • Readings

    I’ve been on another sci-fi binge lately, going through the “suggested reading” list I keep on my phone, and getting what books I can from the library (or, failing that, checking out books by the same authors). So far it’s worked out pretty well:

    First on my list was Daniel O’Brian’s Stiletto, which read like a more comic version of China Mieville, or a supernatural detective/spy thriller, or even a “buddy movie” kind of story: a quick, fun, “chewing gum for the brain” kind of read. (“Fast-paced romp” is also a phrase that comes to mind, and I might have even seen it on the book jacket.) It’s a sequel, which I didn’t know, and it seemed a disappointment to reviewers who read the first book; maybe that means I have another, even better book on my radar.

    My next recommendations were books by the author Iain M. Banks. The library did not have any of the specific books recommended to me, but I found a few others (Transition, Look to Windward, and Matter) and really liked them.

    I am now reading his Surface Detail, and unfortunately I don’t like it nearly as much as the others. Some of this may be that I read so many of his books at once that they became too much of a good thing, or maybe it’s just that some of the premises of this book are annoying — the story involves people whose personalities have been posthumously uploaded into a digital afterlife, including punishment in a digital “Hell,” and I have never been able to suspend my disbelief that a copy of someone, no matter who it thinks it is, is the original person: the transporter on Star Trek is a killing machine, and Roko’s Basilisk is a meaningless thought exercise. Surface Detail does seem to have a theme, or motif, of people being punished for the crimes of others, so I still have to see where this all goes.

    I’ve also been doing a bit of nonfiction, including a bit of local history as well as some STEM things (data science, etc), though these have been dryer and less interesting than I expected. All in all though, it’s all been better than the hate-read of H.P. Lovecraft’s collected works I put myself through last month.

  • I (Still) Get Email!

    I’ve got a few spam blockers, and a lot of blacklisting, running on the site, but every so often something slips through…


    Love what you guys are doing but like I said, I noticed some leverage for improvement regarding video content, particularly on donkelly.net. Including even one video would Improve metrics like the below:

    • Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t. (Wirebuzz)
    • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. (Wordstream)
    • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (Wordstream)
    • Nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. (Google)
    • Shoppers who view demo videos are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase than non-viewers. (Adobe)
    • Companies that use videos in their marketing have 27% higher clickthrough rate and 34% higher conversion rates than those that don’t. (Buffer)
    • 80% of consumers believe demonstration videos are helpful when making purchases. (Blue Corona)

    So if you think this could be a good solution for donkelly.net, let me know and we can discuss for a few minutes next week, schedule a call here [deleted]

    I feel kind of embarrassed for them, really — a proposal to add video (as if that’s hard), to “increase business” on a, you know, personal blog, just in time for “pivot to video” to collapse into a punchline, all written in a style that’s both chatty, and reminiscent of a middle-schooler who’s not keeping up with their homework.

  • Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes

    Listening: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Oh Susannah.”

    We saw Anita Hill the other night at Zoellner. It was a really good (and sadly timely) speech, to a packed and appreciative crowd. I looked around at the women who were there, especially the women of color, many of whom knew, from experience, exactly what she was talking about, and couldn’t help but think about the white governor of Virginia, currently engulfed in a racist controversy, while the black but male vice-governor is engulfed in a sexual misconduct scandal. Democrats! C’mon guys… But they were products of privilege in one way or another, exempt from accountability until now. Maybe from now on we should be looking outside this privilege bubble for leadership…

    Anyway, I feel a rant coming on, let’s change the subject.

    I’ve been feeling pretty bad since the Chili Contest, and now I know why: I caught a cold which as been building and colonizing me this week. It peaked Thursday and has been receding since; I woke up today feeling much better, surprisingly better even if I’m not 100%. Vito’s wife used to say that cold weather kills germs in winter, and here it is, sunny but freezing again. Coincidence?

    We’ve also had some sad news this week: the girlfriend of a young friend passed away. It’s been a terrible situation — “nightmare” is the word that keeps coming to mind. Rest in peace Katie — she was only 32.