Laura McCracken

For those who knew Laura (WebWawa or Lawawawa or just Wawa), she passed today.

She had been struggling with adenocarcinoma for a while. Initial chemo, and then Tarceva maintenance gave her several more years. It re-metastasized and got into her brain. She’d had surgery and stereoscopic radiation treatment, which seemed to help at first. Then, they found two rapidly growing tumors near her vision center in her brain, and she elected to go through whole-brain radiation treatments. Ultimately, this, like any other massive radiation, was a big burden on her blood cell counts. That lead to infections and weakness, that ultimately led to her passing.

Laura was very sweet and had a great smile. For a while, she had bring pink hair, which was fun. She was always happy, and creative. She was blessed to have a very supporting family and a loving husband. Their loss will be great.

It pretty much sucks all the way around, but she was wonderful and made lots of people feel happy. We were all lucky to know her.

You will be missed. :(

38 minutes ago

Dear Friends,

This is Laura’s sister, Leslie. It is difficult for me to write this and I am sure it will be difficult for you to read, but I need to let you know that Laura passed away around 3:30 this afternoon.

The doctors in Dallas determined that Laura had necrotizing fasciitis and her body was not able to defend itself against such a voracious disease. My mom and I both made it to Dallas in time to be there with Trey and her wonderful oncologist, Dr. Nadler, when she passed away. She left this world with the same grace and peace she exuded each day that she lived in it. The loss of Laura leaves a void in our lives that I can only hope we will be able to fill somehow with all of our wonderful memories of her.

We will not be having a traditional service for Laura because Laura was not a traditional girl. Our thought right now is to do something simple at the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation walk on Saturday, May 3 in Dallas. She was really looking forward to walking this event with her team of Wawa’s Warriors. We will now be walking in her memory. I will post info as I know it.

If you would like to register to join her team to walk or make a contribution to the walk in Laura’s memory, below is the link to her personal page. I hope it works. I don’t know how to work Laura’s samsung phone very well.

Thank you all for your love and support. Each and every one of us is a Wawa Warrior in some way.

Leslie on behalf of my mom, my dad, and Trey

2013-08-21 Austin Evening Ride

Missing about a mile or so on the front due to slow GPS acquisition (What? We’re not in North TX anymore?) This was basically a social ride with me, Steve Noreyko, and David Gilder. The few break aways, I had no problem catching up or keeping up, except for inclines. :)

The new config of my bike worked out much better than I thought. The 175mm cranks are nice, but the biggest thing I noticed was the setback seatpost. Pedal angle and CG were drastically improved. I might want to move forward just a smidge, because I popped a wheelie starting out at a light. Also, tip it up a bit, since I slid off the front braking hard. The stumpy handlebars are nicer than I thought, and the longer stem with a 40 degree rise balanced out with how flat the stash bar is. Also, my Garmin can only mount on my stem, which is too steep to read.

Anyway, most of the ride was casual, but a few hills, especially at the end turned it into a little bit of a work-out. After, we hung out and talked until just after 21:30, then Gilder and I went to grab a vegan burger and hung out until close to 1am. All in all, it was a good time.

Distance: 16.75 mi
Calories: 1,199 C

Time: 1:36:49
Moving Time: 1:26:54
Elapsed Time: 1:28:52

Avg Speed: 10.4 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 10.7 mph
Max Speed: 23.8 mph

Elevation Gain: 794 ft
Elevation Loss: 889 ft
Min Elevation: 406 ft
Max Elevation: 634 ft

GV Trails with Scott & Tony

miles hours mi/hr Elevation gain (ft)
11.00 1:35:55 6.86 420
Wall Clock time was 4 hours.

Scott, Tony and I met at the MADD shelter and rode out to the W4 turnaround.

Scott’s only issue was Tony and I being so much slower than him, even though his disc calipers were rubbing the whole time. He was patient with us, which was appreciated.

I had some serious back pain that grew progressively during the ride. My right knee was also hurting, from the increased exertion, but was better when I stood on the pedals.

The biggest issue though was some autoshifting problems, and which turned out to be my new KMC chain popping a rivet. I had to punch out all excess links to join it back together – the rivets don’t push back in, and I didn’t have a stack of spare master links.

UPDATE 2013-07-09: Oh, heh, the axle was bent also. I had to hammer it down a bunch to get the freewheel off. Luckily, DNP is replacing the freewheel, and Amazon has replaced the chain. I picked up extra quick links, and have a couple of axles on order. I might be buying a Sun CR18-22 wheel with an Alvio M430 hub and 36 14g spokes, along with a matching 9-speed cassette. This would alleviate the problems with a 265 pound guy standing on the pedals.

In the process of failing, the chain skipped to the inside, past the low limit stop, and bent sprockets 1-3. I pounded on that to flatten it out enough so I could use sprocket 4, and I rode the last 2 miles fixed there. It wasn’t too bad because of the terrain on the final stretch back. (W1)

UPDATE 2013-07-09: My back is still hurting, but I’m not on Alieve or Valerian anymore. I haven’t ridden since the 4th. The bike axles should show up sometime tomorrow. I tested out a $600 bike, and it was nice… 20″frame, front suspension, 3×8 drive train, disc brakes (pull, not hydraulic). It was smooth and comfy, but I think I’ll stick with my junker until I break the frame.

Tony’s issue was hydration/cooling/nutrition. He’s been off for a few days, and wasn’t able to take in enough to stay cool and energized. He’s not ridden for a couple of weeks prior, so it took him a while to get into a groove. He had heat exhaustion by the time we made it back to the pavilion, but was fine after a little rest.

The overall time on trail was from 09:30ish to 13:30ish, with lots and lots of stops for all of our issues, but we finished the ride successfully and had burgers on Grapevine Main St. (Tasty!)

Scott’s off to Estes Park and other travels for a week, but we might try the trail again later in the month.


Plastic production vs automobile fuel

A friend and cousin-in-law asked about a photo showing waste plastic bags in woodsy area. The caption indicated that a plastic bag contains enough oil to drive a car 11 meters. I wasn’t sure… This sounded a bit extreme, so I had to research.

It’s a mass thing. A gram of oil makes a gram of plastic. Any waste is used for other plastics, and the catalysts are recycled pretty efficiently in the big shops.

Assuming your car is 20MPG, this is 32187 meters per gallon. Gasoline averages 6 pounds per gallon, or 2722 grams per gallon. That’s 11 meters per gram. I checked, and my plastic shopping bags weigh SIX grams. That would be 66 meters fuel equivalent per bag.

Plastic in the US is made mostly from LPG and NLG, though some raw methane. LPG and NLG have lower energy per gallon, but the same energy per gram. (Energy is released by combining with oxygen, which is based on number of atoms of carbon and hydrogen, which is a mass thing, not a volume thing.) So, gram for gram, it would be the same. 99.45% of the input petroleum is feedstock, and the other 0.55% is fuel for heating, etc.

This seems like a lot, but compare this to paper sacks. It takes 7 times more fuel to deliver paper sacks than plastic sacks. It takes 11 times more fuel to recycle a paper sack than a plastic bag. Finally, 65% of the US reuse their plastic grocery bags, which costs no additional energy. So, each paper sack uses the energy required to push a car 462 meters.

It gets fuzzy on actual production/consumption, but the US used 191 million barrels in 2010, and 416 billion cubic feet of natural gas to product plastic. Worldwide, 280 million tonnes of plastic were produced (2011) and this grows by about 4% per year.

Also, 90% of propane consumed in the US is produced locally.
While the US produces a lot of wood and pulp locally, it’s the #1 importer in the world.

Both paper and plastic calculations here ignore the energy input to produce the feedstock (trees, million year old dead animals). Our biggest problem is not the feedstock for plastic bags (PLA is nice, and biodegradable, made from plant based lactic acid), but our fuel supplies. We desperately need a biofuel with high energy density. Ethanol is a poor choice, and is only in use now because we needed SOMETHING.

Legume oil is about the best we have now. As fuel prices go up, then it becomes more cost effective to use. Algae-Oil would completely reverse our trends. We could supply the planet, plus refill the oil wells. The problem is that it’s delicate, and crops die off too easily to be effective. Selective breeding, crossbreeding, or even direct genetic manipulation may help. Exxon is probably 10 years out from having a commercial production of algal oil. Until then, use of vegetable oil as biofuel continues to cause a huge pressure on foodcrops for impoverished nations.