Thursday, September 10, 2015

Driving for Lyft

I have spent the past week plus driving for Lyft.  It has been an interesting experience and I have met some very interesting people.  Not sure if the money is all that great but I have convinced myself that I am providing a public service.   With the availability of services like Uber and Lyft there is no excuse for anyone driving drunk or even buzzed.  I have also given rides to folks that have no other options.

Several weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned that he was interested in driving for Uber.  At the time I did not think much of the idea.  In fact I could think of several reasons why it was a bad idea.  However, soon I was out for drinks with several co-workers and I was not drinking because I had driven to the bar/restaurant .  As I stood around talking I noticed that most people were definitely not holding back and were probably going be driving sooner than later.  While I would gladly be the designated driver for my friends but I was thinking that there were people I did not know that might want a ride home.  I decided then that I would look into becoming an Uber driver.

I kind of let the idea simmer for a couple of weeks and a co-worker told me about Lyft and the pink moustaches.   That seemed to appeal to me so one night I had trouble sleeping and I decided to fill out the application to be come a Lyft driver.  It was easy and I could create an account using my FaceBook account.   Once I had the first part of the application filled out I was given several options to meet with a Lyft Mentor.   I picked a Saturday afternoon slot.

While I waited to meet with my mentor I kicked off the background check and downloaded the Lyft App on my iPhone.  I noticed that the ride and drive functions were integrated into a single application.

I was not sure what the mentor session was going to be like.  I was both looking forward and dreading it.   Jeff my mentor showed up on time and was professional.   Jeff checked out my vehicle and collected my document information.   He went through the app and answered my questions.  It all went smoothly and I was approved as a driver on Tuesday morning.

My first mistake of being was turning on the driver mode when I was not ready to drive.  When I noticed that I had been I decided to learn the app.  As within 15 minutes of turning on driver mode I had a ride request.  Since I was on my way to work I was not able to accept.   At that point I was determined to complete my first ride that day.

After work on my first day I turned on the driver mode of the app.  It took several hours before I got my first request and it was cancelled as before I got to the pickup.   If was probably cancelled before I left the house but I was still not familiar with the app and did not notice until I arrived at the location of the pickup.  As I was heading back home I got another request and I ended up with my first ride.  I would have had my second ride at that point but I was lost and fumbled my cell phone and missed the request.  I ended up getting a 2nd ride and 3rd ride that night as well.

So far I have found the experience to fun.  I have made some mistakes and a lot of wrong turns especially at night but I am getting the hang of it.  I have done mostly local rides but I did one JFK Airport trip.    I have met some interesting people and a little extra cash.  I am now a badass driver.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2013 Cedar Island 5K Swim (August 25, 2013)

The results for the 2013 Cedar Island 5K Swim are below:

Time Name Sex/Age
46:50:00 Kevin Gill M 16
46:54:00 Brian Duffy M 25
47:06:00 Bruce Brickschmidt M 46
48:11:00 Amanda Nunana F 14
48:19:00 Maggie Wallace F 13
48:59:00 Mike Conlon M 31
49:07:00 Brian Quigley M 32
49:13:00 Gus Anderson M 16
52:04:00 Louis Guadagno M 50
52:43:00 Michael Petrick M 37
53:18:00 Sue Reich F 55
53:19:00 Ian Anderson M 48
53:34:00 James Mauk M 16
53:47:00 Joshua Gordon M 17
53:49:00 Douglas Grisbaum M 13
54:02:00 Kirsten Young F 36
54:07:00 Frances Gray F 40
54:21:00 Julia Lynch F 15
54:22:00 Nicholas Raben M 42
54:40:00 Jeff Whiteway M 42
55:20:00 Shannon Lynch F 31
55:34:00 Paul Hogan M 47
55:58:00 Baily Howarth F 15
56:12:00 Tom Darragh M 46
56:43:00 Arielle Anderer F 17
56:54:00 Spence Culpepper M 42
56:56:00 John Evans M 49
57:09:00 Robert Barish M 44
58:03:00 Seth Stafford M 38
58:22:00 Dave Hirsch M 54
58:29:00 Brian Donnelly M 52
58:30:00 Bonnie Sotire F 60
58:31:00 John McShane M 61
58:32:00 Rose Weller F 52
58:33:00 Valerie Bergman F 36
58:35:00 Gregory Kelly M 56
58:37:00 Midge Kerr F 49
58:44:00 Patricia Pickard F 49
59:10:00 Doug Frohock M 62
1:00:04 Scott Ohnthrup M 44
1:00:58 Francis Short M 42
1:01:05 Jodi Barish F 42
1:01:14 Dan Fabrizio M 51

1:02:00 Jim Melwert M 38
1:02:02 Jason Kilderry M 31
1:02:04 Kimberly Plewa F 30
1:02:06 Steve Firkser M 31
1:02:36 Lindsey Phillipson-Weir F 24
1:02:38 Holly Waters F 34
1:02:40 Robert Malloy M54
1:02:53 Diana Sosnowski F 46
1:03:09 Thomas Gessner M 53
1:03:13 Geaorge Meagher M 68
1:03:15 Steve Elder M 46
1:03:47 Pat Rooney M 57
1:03:54 Geoffrey MacArthur M 40
1:03:58 James Sherry M 55

1:04:13 Tim McGee M 49

1:04:27 Joe McCabe M ?
1:04:33 Kristen Donohue F 46
1:04:43 Laura Pyott F 44
1:04:46 Matthew Conover M 32
1:04:47 Tom Dwyer M 50
1:04:50 Joey Donohue M 50
1:04:55 Megan Wren F 48
1:05:16 Chris Donohue M 32
1:05:20 Todd Schaper M49
1:05:36 Rich Bostwick M 45
1:06:37 Merrill Hiff M 53
1:06:42 Sean Sehn M 15
1:06:53 Michael Rowbotham M 45
1:06:56 Jason Malick M 31
1:07:16 Raymond McKendall M 53
1:07:28 David Kalb M 48
1:07:47 Christopher White M 35
1:07:58 Christopher Ragheb M 45
1:08:00 Timothy Byrne M 26
1:08:11 Ryan Miller M 34
1:08:13 Alexis Erdosy F 24
1:08:15 Chlesea Baker F 26
1:08:16 Sarah Berry F 26
1:08:18 Robert Browne M 50

1:09:16 Robert Lee M 54
1:10:11 Tim Regan M 50

1:11:02 Kelly Peck F 35
1:11:10 Andrew George M 61
1:11:17 Mark Lutz M 52
1:11:34 Jeff Brooks M 48
1:11:38 Delia Perez F 61
1:12:31 Kieran Carroll M 28
1:12:34 Debbie Yakubics F 43
1:12:42 Patrick Scanlon M 51
1:12:50 Jerry Lombard M 52
1:13:21 Scott Cadzow M 51
1:18:17 Sean Lee M 35
1:18:33 Jat Muldoon M 57
1:19:16 Patrick McMillan M 51
1:19:21 Paul DeMarco M 50
1:19:51 Carolyn Placke F 49
1:19:53 Ryan Sehn M 12
1:23:17 Lori Rafferty F 53
1:29:33 Priya Wagle F 41
1:34:41 Diana McVey F 54
1:37:50 Sarah Watson F 33
1:38:50 Sherry McCulley F 56

? Roo Fenton
? June Firkser
? Pete Novelli
? Nikojas Pattantyus
? John Sowa

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Del Lords album The Elvis Club

I have not posted much to this blog in a while but I figured I would try writing a music review.

This week The Del Lords new recording The Elvis Club was unexpectedly released on iTunes.  I had been waiting for the new album and I was happy to wait until May but it was even nicer to have now.   The Elvis Club has 12 new songs and is the first new full length recording since 1990.  Well worth the listen and the album has something for everyone that likes good music.

When I as in college I had exactly enough money for one new record.  I had read reviews of The Del Lords' Frontier Days and The Ramones' Too Tough to Die.  While I had never heard a single song off of either I decided to go with the Del Lords and even though I eventually bought the Ramone's album I know it was the right call. Although I did loose track of them after When Johnny Comes Marching Home for many reasons.   I reconnected with them when I discovered that Eric Ambel was the guitarist for Steve Earle and played on my favorite Steve Earle album The Revolution Starts Now. At the time the only CD I could find in print was a Del Lords collection called Get Tough: The Best of the Del Lords.

The four members of the original band have gone on to successful careers with Eric Ambel a much in demand producer/side man and  and Frank Funaro is the drummer for Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven.  Manny Caiati has a successful non music related career and is being replaced a new bass player and Scott Kempner has a solo career and has been involved with various Dictators reunions.

The album opens with 3 songs that are pretty standard Del Lords fare.  They rock and are sung by Mr. Kempner in his best NY street growl.  "When the Drugs Kick In", "Princess" and "Chicks, Man" set the mood for what is about to come.    Eric Ambel's wall of sound production and Mr. Funaro's drumming are only just beginning.  "Chicks, Ma" has some cool lap steel playing would not be out of place on a David Lindley album. 

The fourth song is sung by Mr. Ambel and is a change of pace from the first three songs.   "Flying" opens with an acoustic guitar followed cool cymbal splash that calls the rest of the band.  Even though the song was written by Mr. Kempner it has a theme that seems prevalent in many of the songs on Mr. Ambel's solo albums.   This is the first song to showcase the bands growth and may well be The Elvis Club's masterpiece.

The songs "All of My Life" and "Everyday" are some more slower paced songs that rock with Scott Kempner singing lead.  Again these songs do not disappoint since there is no filler on this album. "Me and the Lord Blues" is another blues rocker sung by Eric Ambel which transitions to "Letter (Unmailed)".

"Damaged" is high powered everything including the kitchen sink rocker that would have been an immediate favorite in my younger days.  The Ian Stewart style piano is a nice touch.  "Damaged" gives way to "You Can Make a Mistake One Time" which is another dirty blues rocker. "Silverlake" another song sung by Mr. Kempner which gives way to the last song on album.  A Neil Young song called "Southern Pacific" with lead vocals by Eric Ambel.

The Del Lord's Elvis Club will not disappoint long time fans who have been eagerly waiting for new music from the band.  Music fans who stumble upon this recording will wonder how they missed this band the first time.  At least now they know.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Summer of Open Water Swimming has ended

My summer of Open Water Swimming ended with Hurricane Irene. I did not have any swims scheduled for the weekend of the hurricane but I had agreed to volunteer for the SheROX Tri in Asbury Park. Obviously it was cancelled and I ended up dealing with a basement full of water (I am still dealing with it).
Spending the summer competing in the Ocean Miles that each NJ Shore Town has was a fun change up. The bikes stayed in the back of the garage but I have found that changing up the workout routine is a great way to keep the training intensity high without experiencing the extended breaks that I used to have. The swimming hit some new muscle groups and I was also able to spend some more time in the weight room.
For the summer of 2011 I competed in the following swims (Rays Notebook has a full Calendar):
  1. The Nav E Sink or Swim in Rumson, NJ on May 29, 2011 - This one did not go too well
  2. Swim-Palooza at Lavallette - June 5, 2011 - This was my redemption swim
  3. The Asbury Park Ocean Mile on June 25, 2011 - My first encounter with the folks from the NJRC. The 1st of the NJRC Trilogy
  4. The Bradley Beach Ocean Mile on July 2, 2011 - This was probably the first swim I had fun doing. The course was not well marked and we had to walk back on the beach to the finish
  5. Avon by the Sea Ocean Mile on July 10, 2011. Do you really remember much about this race. The Spring Lake race was scheduled for July 9, 2011 but it was cancelled.
  6. The Manning Sea Bright Ocean Mile on July 16 - The second of the NJRC Trilogy - I remember this one being a perfect day. Water was perfect and it was a good crowd. Close to home as well.
  7. The Manasquan Ocean Mile on July 23 - I think this was a good swim at all. Funny that I know I did them and it was a good experience but the details are getting kind of hazy.
  8. The Ocean Mile Swim at Sea Girt Beach on July 30, 2011
  9. The Shana Ocean Mile at Monmouth Beach on July 31, 2011. This was probably the best run off all the races. It was definitely a fun one an will make sure I do it in the future as well. This was also the 2nd swim of a two race weekend
  10. The John Boyd Memorial Swim in Seaside Heights on August 7. This was an evening race and was the furthest that I traveled to swim. The water temp was 64 degrees but the swim went from south to north with the current. This was my fastest swim. The is a party on the beach after the swim. Keg of beer with hamburgers and hotdogs. Lots of fun. Met some new people.
  11. Belman Ocean Mile on August 13, 2011. This was the 3rd in the NJRC Trilogy.
  12. The Long Branch Ocean Mile (Ray Licata Memorial Swim) was rescheduled for August 20. This was a tough race against the current swimming from south to north. This was well run but they did have an issue with the bus shuttle from the registration area to the start. I walked the boardwalk as warm up.
  13. The Ocean Mile for Smiles at Bradley Beach on August 21, 2011. This is a new race promoted by the Red Bank YMCA. I was not going to do this race but decided to make it a 2 swim weekend. The water was rough and the lifeguards disappeared. I felt all alone when I made the turn around. The guards stayed with the leaders. My time was not that great but I was happy to finish.
There was a swim in Atlantic City today (September 3, 2011) called the Pageant Swim but I have decided to end my open water swimming season. Time to get the bike out again and move back to the pool. Still worn out from the hurricane.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Summer of Swimming Continues

What started as a new way to train in the winter has now continued through the summer. The bikes have been ignored. Instead of 2 to 4 rides a week I have been getting out about once a month.

Instead of riding I have been racing in the Ocean Mile Swims that have become a tradition in the Jersey Shore towns of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. There may be only two or three weekends that I have missed swimming in a race since the Nave Sink or Swim on May 29.

The Ocean Miles are community events and are usually put on by the local townships or by one of the competive swim teams in the area like the NJ Racing Club. The teenagers that show up are really good and for the most part the only time I see them is at the start and maybe hanging around at the finish. This is the real Jersey Shore!

Check out Ray's Notebook for a complete listing of area open water swims.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Open Water Swim Update

I have a 1.2 mile open water swim under my belt now. Unfortunately it was not the Nav-E Sink or Swim but was the LavaSwim in Lavellette, NJ.

The Nav-E Sink or Swim was a disappointment for me. I decided against getting a wetsuit and I had no open water swimming before the weekend of the race. The Sandy Hookers Tri Club has Monday and Friday swims in the Navesink River and I was able to attend one on the Friday before the race. Being out in the open river was scarier than I expected. Especially after I got a foot cramp that just would not go away. I ended up turning around and heading back to the beach on my own. Not a good start. Rather than make me feel good about my prospects in the race I now had some serious doubts.

I was still excited about the race on Sunday and Saturday ended up being a rest day.

On Sunday I got to Rumson, NJ about an hour before race time. I was feeling good but I still had some doubts. As I looked around at all the experienced swimmers with their wetsuits I started to feel like I was out of my element. I was one of the few that had bare arms and torso (I wear the now banned by FINA swim tights so my legs were lightly covered). My plan was not to be competitive but to swim my race and if I came in last it really did not matter.

At the start of the race I tried to line up in the back. I figured I would let the fast swimmers go ahead and I would drop to the back and maybe make up positions as the race progressed (I have learn from my days of running 10ks and doing centuries that the folks that go out fast often fall to the back later on so it is often possible to pick up positions).

One thing I did not count on was how much getting knocked around by the other swimmers would bother me. As I was heading out of the start area to the first turn I kept getting hit. Finally a father and son team swam right over me. That was kind of the last straw and I had a moment of weakness were I decided that I just did not need this and I again turned around and went back to the beach. This was a huge mistake for a couple of reasons. From a personal safety reason I had forgot that the women's 1.2 mile heat was lined up on the beach and I could hear the count down. I knew that I was going to be in their way as I got back to the beach. While I was trying to avoid getting in the way of the women I was feeling a great sense of disappointment.

I ended up watching the finish of the 1.2 men's race. The whole time thinking that I should have been out there and that I had wasted a good opportunity.

Since Monday was Memorial day I was not sure if the Sandy Hookers would have the Monday training but I has determined to show up if they did so that I could try again. Once I got the invite that the swim was on I decided to show up and swim the course again. I ended up having a good swim on Monday so I now needed to find a race that would allow me to get some redemption.

I found a race in Lavallette, NJ called the Swim-A-Palooza or LavaSwim. The only problem was that it was scheduled for next Sunday and I had already agreed to ride up Bear Mountain with one of the groups I sometimes ride with. After some thought I decided I really needed to complete an open water swim race ASAP. I signed up for the race and told my friends I would not be joining them for the ride.

The weather forecast for the LavaSwim was not great (The conditions at the Sink or Swim were just about perfect) but as I loaded up the car for the 40 minute drive down the Jersey Shore I was pleasantly surprised how nice the day was looking. It was cloudy but the sun was out. It was not warm but not too cold either. Maybe the storms would hold off until I got out of the water.

The LavaSwim is a square course in the Barnagat Bay. The start is off shore since the beach is a sandy shallow area that leads a quick drop off. The race starts with everyone treading water. There was a good turn out but not as big a crowd as at the Sink or Swim. Again I found my place in the back. When the start came I again felt the self doubt creep up on me. I was being bumped but I kept telling myself to just hang in.

The first leg was not really that much fun. I was having a hard time finding the rhythm that I usually get in the pool. The head down freestyle technique has some issues in the open water since there is nothing to guide me. I would think that I was head towards a maker only find out that I was way off course. I did a lot of breast stroke (I hate the breast stroke) in order to aim at the markers. As the made the turn at the first buoy I started to feel good. I was able to swim my own pace and I was comforted by the well placed life guards.

Once I knew that I was going to be able to finish I started to have fun. It did not seem as strenuous as my long swims in the pool but there were some other challenges. Mostly related to navigation but the currents and waves factored in. I also had some lower back pain as well.

The 2.4 mile leaders caught me on the third leg (they started 20 minutes before 1.2) but since I was happy just to finish I did not let it worry me.

As I saw the finish line I started to pick up my pace. I eventually hit the shallow part and stood up to run in. My legs were not really happy about this and almost refused to hold my weight. As I came across the line I heard the announcer yell "Patrick McMillan of Holmdel, NJ getting it done at 50 years old". My first thought was I am not 50 am I but then the excitement of finishing took over and I knew that I had a big smile on my face.

I hung around the race finish for a bit and watch the last of the 2.4 swimmers come out of the water. I decided that I would have breakfast somewhere to reward myself. I ended up stopping at the Dunkin Donuts in Pt. Pleasant, NJ.

I ended up placing 86 having spent about 47 minutes in the water. Not a great time but OK. I think I could shave off 7 minutes easily but I might have to wait until next year since I have not been able to find any more local races this year. I do want to get a 2.4 mile swim in as well.

So far the swimming has been a good change up from the workouts I was doing before. My overall muscle tone has increased and swimming seems to hit all the muscle groups. I will have to thank all of my Tri friends for inspiring me to get off the bike and into the water.