Trains of Mexico

Today when I was in the post office (in Mexico) I saw a sheet of stamps that had pictures of trains. I am not a big train buff, but I do love clever pictures. Especially stamps. As you can see from the photo, some of the trains span several stamps.

The stamps are only valued at 50 Mexican centavos each. Which equals out to 25 pesos. Currently that is about $2.45 US. I only bought one sheet. The sheet is numbered on the back like it is a limited edition.

Click on the image below to get a larger version of the picture. You can also download a high resolution scan, 16.5 MB.

Medium size image of trains

I’ve been hit!

Ok, so it was just a tag, not a full on hit.

Jen from Toughnoodles/On the Way tagged me to find out a little more about my running. There are 5 questions that I need to answer, and then tag 5 more people.

How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Non-existent. 10 years ago I weighed 235 lbs. Then I went up to 275. About 4 years ago when I was back down to 264 I decided it was time to do something about my weight. I began exercising. Started with walking. Then I progressed to a calisthenic type work out. I used a jump-rope as my main aerobic exercise. Within 6 months (and 45 lbs lighter) I was going to a Tae-Bo class.

Fast forward to a little over a year after I started and I was down 60 lbs or so. Hovering right around 200. My brother mentioned that he was training for a half marathon. I had done a couple of running sessions and found that running wasn’t so bad. I decided to train for a half marathon too. I got my brother’s training schedule and started focusing on that.

I have been running for about 2.5 years and am holding steady at 190 lbs.

What is your best and worst run/race experience?
Without doubt my best running experience was a run I did about this time last year when I was in Long Beach, California. I just went out for a casual run just to see what I could see. No agenda and 3.5 hours before I had to be anywhere. I ran along the beach with a few different training groups as well as through town.

Worst: I don’t know. I have had a few bad experiences, but I can’t think of any one run that sticks out. The thing that frustrates me most is cars that get too close to me. If they are close enough for me to extend my arms and touch them, they are too close. I give them a good whack, but I try to be courteous about it.

Why do you run?
For me it is not so much the running as it is the exercise. I have found that I am addicted to the stuff. Running is something that I have found that I can really do for many years to come. It is also very portable.

My only regret is that I did not learn I was an athlete until I was 36 years old.

I do use running sometimes to clear my head. Especially on Sunday mornings if I don’t feel totally ready for the day, I go over my notes and then head out for a run. I don’t always think about my sermon directly, but somehow things come together during the run. Oh, who am I kidding? You know I am an ADD procrastinator. Most of my Sunday morning sermons are born out of that morning’s run.

What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?
That it is OK to slow down.

Worst: Just mostly the stupid stuff people say about running, i.e., that it is bad for you, etc. I have been one of those people in the past too.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
I usually am the last person in the house to go to bed and try to be the first person up. I have always done this (at least the first person up thing). Even when I am at someone’s house as a guest or there are guests at my house. I don’t want to miss any action.

Bonus surprise: This was actually a surprise for me. I was a bit of a loon in school. Always the class clown, loved by everyone, hated by only the best. I tried so hard to be “normal” in college. I even thought I pulled it off pretty well. The last few weeks through Facebook I have connected with quite a number of college friends and fringe acquaintances. I have had a few that look at my pictures and my writings and say that I am still just as crazy as I was in college. Apparently I did not hide it too well.

Rules of the game: I am now supposed to tag 5 more people and get them to answer the questions. I will pick on T3rry first and add to the list as I think of 4 more running blogging friends.

If you have been tagged, you will find your name at the end of this post. You should then, copy the rules (or your version of them), and the set of questions onto your blog post, provide your own answers, and then tag 5 new people.

Just to be sure that everyone tagged knows they have been invited to play, go to their blogs and leave them a special comment letting them know, and refer them to your blog for details. One more thing, once they’ve answered the questions on their own blog, they should come back to yours to tell you.

List of victims: T3rry,

Bike repair

I decided 2 weeks ago that I wanted to chip the rust off my bike and put it back into service. My rims were eating holes in my tubes from all the rust. Rim tape alone would not have been enough. However, I did not have any money at the time.

Finally payday arrived. It was a Wednesday that I was able to take my bike in for an estimate. I know this will sound ridiculously cheap, but that is because it is. Bikes are such a part of the culture here that the parts stores are almost as busy as auto parts stores. They deal in crazy volume. Plus many of the parts are cheap Chinese products.

I got an estimate for 2 new rims, all new spokes (64), a new seat, all new cables (brakes and gears) and a derailer cleaning and adjustment for a whopping total of $31.

Supposed to have been ready at 3:00 on Friday afternoon (2 days later). On Friday we buzzed by the shop and the bike was not ready. But, they said, it would be ready in a couple of hours. I could not get back on Friday evening, so I went by about noon on Saturday. Still not ready. I was assured that it would be ready by 3:00 since they closed at 4:00.

I called at a little after 3:00 on Saturday and the man said that it would be ready at noon or maybe 1:00 on Monday afternoon. I told him I was getting a bit frustrated with the constantly changing completion time. He absolutely assured me that it would be ready by noon.

Monday I called at 1:00. Still not ready. I talked to the man who was doing the work and he told me it would be ready by 2:30. By this time I was more than a little frustrated.

I ended up writing a nice long email to the general manager of the bike shop. They are a fairly large chain of stores here in the city, Bicimotos. I outlined my frustration with him and just asked that he respond to my email letting me know that he had talked to the store in question to find out what the issue was and to try and prevent it from happening in the future.

I got my bike that afternoon. Their excuse was that they could not get the rims I needed. They were at their main store downtown, but for some reason this chain of 10 stores was not able to figure out how to get 2 rims from one store to another. If they did not have the rims until Monday, why did they tell me on Friday to come back in a couple of hours and the job would be done? They either had the rims the whole time and just did not do the work, or they really did not get the rims until Monday but figured that I would be fine with them telling me to come back every 2 hours for 3 days until they arrived. Not cool.

The next day I got an email from the general manager telling me that he had a talk with the store. He also said that the problem was getting the rims to their location, but that it was no excuse and that he apologized for doing such a poor job. He also told me to take his email with me the next time I went there and I would get a discount.

While I appreciate his getting back with me and offering a discount, I will probably never go back to that store. I may go to another Bicimotos to buy parts or to have work done, but never to that particular location (ProlongaciĆ³n Montejo). You can only lie to me and treat me poorly just so many times before I take my business elsewhere. On top of that, I was not overly pleased with the completed job. Cables were too long.

My bike is nothing special. I bought it at a yard sale for $10 I think. It might have been $5. But for a store to hold my bike hostage and not do the work requested is just not acceptable. I somewhat worded it that way to the manager. I said that his store stole my bike for 3 days while they kept putting off the work.

Ants in my pants!

Saturday morning I went out to weed eat the greenery in the lot next to our house. I would like to say it is beautiful grass, but “greenery” is the kindest word I can find for the stuff. Of course things never go quite as smoothly as planned. I ran out of string about 5 minutes into the job. That meant that if I was going to be able to finish it Saturday, I would have to do it in the afternoon. I did not have time to go get string and complete the job before my morning responsibilities.

After I got home in the afternoon, I went down to the hardware store and picked up some line for the weed whacker. After enduring the ridicule from the workers in the hardware store about my accent, I got the machine all loaded up and ready to whack some weeds.

Weed eating getupI have a pair of coveralls that I wear when I do this. They are already grass/weed stained from previous encounters. Do you know how hard it is to get a pair of coveralls off when you are sweat soaked and in a hurry?

When I felt the first ant on my leg I simply killed it through my pants. But I quickly realized there were more than just a few crawling up my legs. Fortunately for the neighbors we have a 10′ tall brick wall around our house. Otherwise they would have seen my boxers Saturday afternoon.

We have an outdoor shower that got put to use to assuage the pain from the ant bites.

When I got back on the job Monday morning it was with a liberal application of duct tape holding my pants to my boots to keep the ants out.

New Theme

I am playing around with a new theme as you can see. There is still much to do to make it “mine” but it is coming along.

Really this is a test to see what it will take to customize and make this theme something I might want to use on my ministry website. Currently I am using phpWebSite CMS software, but I am wanting to move it to a WordPress install like this site. My goal is to make the new WordPress site look similar to the current site, but give it a freshening up. And, WordPress is so easy to use, much better than the CMS software I am using. CMS has its advantages over blogging software, but for what I am doing with that site, WordPress will work just fine.

What do you think? There will be more changes in the next couple of days, but this is the basic look.