Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ouch. That Hurt.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before I tasted asphalt.

I was making my way through an intersection on my afternoon bike commute approaching a Fred Meyer on my right. An SUV was alongside me, so I sped up to the front window and looked in to make sure the driver could see me - pretty common tactic. Apparently it didn't work this time. She started moving into the shoulder, forcing me into the curb. I squeezed my brakes hard and my back wheel was skidding, but not much could be done. Pinned between the car and the curb, I was at the complete mercy of the driver's movements. In hindsight I could have tried to hop onto the sidewalk as my cleats were clamped in, but that probably would have just injured me more instead of the bike.

When the SUV began turning into the Fred Meyer it bent my front wheel in half removing all the spokes from the hub. Without a front wheel the only place to go was down. At least I went down sideways instead of over the handlebars. The major collision points were my right shoulder and the right side of my forehead, but most of my right side was scratched up.

Road Rash - The latest style

After bouncing off the pavement and realizing I was still alive, I started wincing in pain and trying to regain my breath. Asphalt doesn't taste that great as it turns out. Everything went into slow motion, people started panicking, and I...looked at my beautiful Cannondale CAAD9 5. (sniff, sniff) The front wheel is a disaster but the frame looks fine at first glance. A bike shop is performing the insurance inspection right now to know for sure if the carbon/aluminum components are cracked. Strangely enough, though the wheel is mangled, the Kevlar-lined tire didn't pop.

The bike shop guys were amazed how "beat to @*#% the front wheel is"

I'll go to the Urgent Care tomorrow morning to make sure my head is fine. My vision went blurry for 30 minutes which scared me a tad, but I feel fine now aside from a headache and sore torso. In case anyone needs an extra reminder: ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET.

The real disappointment to me is that I have a half-century this Saturday. I still want to participate so I might ride my heavier winter bike. Everyone else keeps me in the proper perspective by reminding me that it's amazing I 1) am alive, 2) have no broken bones, 3) kept injuries down through evasive actions.

I was listening to Adele as the crash happened - I wonder if any of these lyrics were playing at the time:
  • All that I have is on the floor...
  • As hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down...
  • Didn't I give it all, tried my best...
  • Don't look back at this crumbling fool...
  • The scars of your love they leave me breathless...

Davis Walks!

Davis started walking May 19th! This video on May 30th was the first time he was willing to perform for the camera.

I thought about giving the video an alternate soundtrack, but then you'd miss Davis' cute little squeals which really show off his true personality. But below is the song I would have added, just in case you were wondering...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Old Man

I'm already getting to the point where my kids think I'm old, so birthdays have kind of lost their charm. At least that's how I would have felt if this year wasn't so extraordinary!

When I approached my front door after biking home I was greeted with this 'birthday card' all over the front door. It includes a personalized note from all three boys, though Davis may have had some help. I've posted before that TLC likes to make homemade cards, but this was way above and beyond.

TLC also gave me a rare treat - one of her few ever cakes from scratch. And not just any cake...a real strawberry shortcake (my favorite). She asked for instructions the day before and when I sensed that she was overwhelmed I said a store bought Angel Food cake was a sufficient substitute. But no! She absolutely came through, buttermilk and all.

After cake, we dropped the kiddies off at the sitters and went to the simulcast of the This American Life live event! I can't tell you how much I wanted to go. This was easily one of the coolest things we've ever experienced. Not sure if any of you readers have played handbells with a rock band...but I have now. You can listen to half of the show online, but the best parts (Monica Bill Barnes & Company and the above pictured story on Vivian Maier) were just too visual to put on the radio. It was a date night I'll never forget. There will be future showings - GO IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE!

And I got to do it all while wearing my new pair of Dr Martens For Life shoes! After wearing out 5 pairs in 13 years, this lifetime guaranteed pair is the last one I'll ever need!

Hippie Chick

See Cynthia. See Cynthia run. See Cynthia train for a half marathon while tending a newborn, while letting her hubby study, and while the weather sucks. Run, Cynthia, run!

So the amazing TLC decided to run the aptly named 'Hippie Chick' female-only half marathon in early May. Despite the overwhelming distractions to her training schedule that left her unprepared for the race, she stuck it out and crossed the finish line.

She claims that the pancakes after the race were INCREDIBLE...which tells me that she was just really, really exhausted.

TLC has decided this is the new thing. One or two half marathons per year. I'm so proud of her.

Unfortunately, I seem to be taking tips from her incomplete training. I have a half-century on Saturday and I've only biked 12 miles 2 or 3 days per week in the past month.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Howdy, folks. Long time, no see. I think most peeps already know, but I've been busy lately with my exam. Exam CSP-GH (Corporate Sponsor Perspective - Group & Health) is the very last actuarial exam I need to pass and I gave it one h@!# of an effort on April 27th.

I'd like to give you a 'brief' intro of what this exam is like. It is a 6.5 hour essay exam covering 2550 pages of material. The exam requires complete mastery of every detail covered in the syllabus as well as memorization of every single list within the text. For instance, if the author expounds on a concept by saying "some difficulties in disease management could be regression to the mean, specific vs. general populations, outliers..." you've got to memorize every random item the author states. Multiply that by 2550 pages, add in all of the math and higher-level thought, and you've got this exam.

I took two pictures of my materials...

This picture has two important elements. See that wall of books and printed paper? That's most of the syllabus for this exam (a few items were at home during this shot. The three stacks of flashcards in front are the various lists that I needed to memorize for the exam. I read every single page of the material, went through the blue flashcards at least 15 times, and the white stacks twice.

This picture is the study manual. It contains a detailed outline of the full syllabus, a condensed outline of the syllabus, a list of formulas, 120 sample problems, the past 3 exams, and the case study used during the exam. That's a full 4-inch binder plus an additional 500 pages. I read and annotated every single page MANY times.

That's 500 hours of studying in 6 months. Just short of the recommended 600 hours. For the past two months my brain has been full of flashcards and nothing else.

I felt very pleased with my efforts on the exam. I studied until the marginal return was zero; no further studying would have helped. That's not to say that I'll pass - I give myself a 50% chance. As the exam has a 40% pass rate, that's better than average. Results will be posted in mid-July.

It takes a lot of sacrifice to sit for one of these exams - not just on my part, but many others as well. And so, I offer the following thanks:

Thanks to my employer for allowing me 120 hours of paid study time, paying for the $1050 exam, and paying the instructor fee for my seminar in Chicago.

Thanks to Mark Bird (a former colleague) at MATE Seminars for putting on the best darn seminars anywhere.

Thanks to Chase Bank for financing the rest of my seminar fees (room, food, plane tickets) at zero interest until 2013.

Thanks to my wife for being the most patient, hard-working, loving spouse on the planet. It amazes me that she can take care of all three kids without seeing her husband during the week and still not uttering complaints. Best. Woman. Ever!

Thanks to my kids for remembering my face and being patient for Daddy to show up at their soccer games.

Thanks to our local library, McDonald's, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and Starbucks for giving me places to study well into the evening and never questioning who that creepy guy in the corner was.

Thanks to Adele, Norah Jones, and every classical composer I've ever known. They provided the music that kept me sane while studying during 10 hour sessions.

Lastly, thanks to everyone for putting up with a very forgetful and air-brained Peter. Not to mention, not making fun of me for the extra 15 pounds I put on during study time.

And finally...I did a little something to celebrate the end of the's what I look like now...

mock it while you can, it will probably be gone in two weeks. Reason? Because no one likes it. :(