Thursday, April 12, 2018

“Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, the boid is on the wing.”

Oh yeah, the “grass is riz” and the “boid is most definitely on the wing.” Or to say it another way, our ever-present flocks of Canadian Geese have finally headed north and as beautiful as they are to watch in flight I am rather glad that they have elected to move out for the summer, and the grass freshly planted last fall is greening up nicely. Spring is a time for rebirth, regeneration and yes, a time to simply kick back and watch Mother Nature do her thing. It’s been quite a while since Margo and I were last in New York, but just running across this phrase atop the post brought back memories – we need to head back to the Big Apple soon, if only we could find the time. 

The business of Pyalla Technologies, LLC, has really picked up over the past year and we are being constantly kept on our toes – this weekend we are off to Northern California, our former home for many years when Margo and I both lived and worked in Silicon Valley. It’s good to visit, even if we no longer yearn to live there anymore. Why would we? It has become crowded, expensive and yes, awash in shabby, barely livable dwellings. Very much like Sydney, as it turns out – what is it with these Pacific coastline cities? The only one that really makes any sense at all in terms of livability has to be Canada’s Vancouver.

The arrival of spring is not only a time to watch grass grow but also the time to bring the cars out of hibernation. Sports cars aren’t all that useful when road temperatures drop below 40F so onto battery tenders they go, often times for four and even five months. Here in our family that means two or three cars are seldom driven although this year, winter was a lot milder and we had opportunities to drive them all at one time or another. The arrival of spring also means it’s time to prep the Corvette for track days and this year, we are making plans to squeeze in a few open lapping days at our nearby circuit,  Denver’s High Plains Raceway, with perhaps a weekend or two at a NASA club event. NASA is the National Auto Sports Association and has nothing to do with those other intrepid souls who leave our atmosphere. Nothing is set in concrete at this time however, but the Corvette is ready to go with all maintenance tasks complete – and it is a very long list.     

Thumbing through all the receipts I can confirm that our little red Corvette has had its shocks replaced with heavy duty Bilsteins – a more sports-oriented set-up. The drive shaft too was replaced with something much beefier as the old drive shaft was bent. Brake rotors have been swapped out for vented StopTech rotors and Hawk High Performance Street pads installed. The braided stainless steel brake lines – the last foot or so of lines terminating at the calipers - have been returned to their original rubber line configuration as the braided lines were interfering with the ABS, Active Handling and Traction Control processor. Motul DOT 5.1 brake fluid replaced the original fluids in the brake lines. Also replaced were the two catalytic convertors that failed over the winter and yes, new tires were mounted replacing tires that had suffered through 30 plus on-track sessions and the Corvette’s battery was replaced. For a fifteen year old car it still looks and drives like new and with only 24,000 miles on the odometer, it’s a car we will keep for many more years. 

Looking inside the Corvette it still is in original condition with the exception of the harness bar and six-point harness. We work hard at maintaining the appearance of the interior which has always been a challenge given the dust we accumulate on track mostly at desert circuits. Running with windows down and with the occasional two-wheels (and yes, sometimes even four-wheels) off-track, we have removed an awful lot of dirt over the years. But this Corvette is the ideal weekend track car as it’s light, relatively powerful and best of all, not overly burdened with electronics – the “nannies” that help out when needed are pretty rudimentary and for the most part, non-intrusive, making for a car that gives you a lot of feedback with the ability to tell you exactly what you are doing wrong even as it generally gives you time to recover. Well, nearly always!

At this time of year, I am reminded of the lines from an Alfred Tennyson poem, “In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Although, I have to admit, whenever I read this line I am always reminded of the opening line of a Disney cartoon that paraphrased it to say, “It’s springtime when a young man’s fancy turns to … baseball!” With an eye on the television set I am watching to see if Colorado’s Rockies baseball team take the field for their “opening day” as light snow has just begun to fall and the temps have dived below freezing. 

On the other hand, with the first quote of this post, “Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, the boid is on the wing” being a reference to Brooklyn, it only makes sense to mention the Yankees baseball team. For the uninitiated, there is a connection between Corvettes, racing, friends of the family, baseball and the Yankees as our good friends, Brian and Jan Kenny just happen to be the grandparents of Indy Lights racer, Colton Herta. And as fate would have it, Colton drives for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, an organization owned by none other than George Steinbrenner IV. 

This has been the subject of previous posts but what I am reminded of this spring is that last year, in his first public appearance with the race team, Colton had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch of a spring training game featuring the Yankees! Now that’s a sporting cross-over you don’t typically encounter within the racing community. As reported at the time, “Whether on track or on the field, spring is an exciting time in sports with the start of racing and baseball seasons. Though Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta has already participated in his own version of Spring Training with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tries series, he and Steinbrenner Racing’s team president George Michael Steinbrenner IV will join the New York Yankees in theirs at the March 7 game versus the Tampa Bay Rays.” All I can add is to repeat what I have often stated in this blog, “we all wish we were Colton!” And where was the game played? Well, at George M Steinbrenner Field, of course.

Colton’s second season in Indy Lights – and yes, he was crowned Rookie of the Year in his first season of Indy Lights racing – started a short time ago on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida. The highlight of the weekend was a podium finish in the first race but then, when it came to the second race of the weekend, during a tough dual for P1 with another really good racer, he managed to record an unceremonious introduction to trackside tires he didn’t know all that well. But that’s racing and he continues to be quick in much the same fashion as he had last year so fingers crossed for even better results next outing. All up though, we are looking forward to seeing some exciting racing from Colton and the team.

Throwing out the first ball at spring training – for the Yankees, no less – running flat out in an open wheeler around the streets of St Petersburg, and closer to home, watching the grass grow and trees bud – well it has to be spring, right! With the attention that our Corvette is getting of late it’s as almost if we have nothing else to drive. When it comes to this week’s go-to car, taking center stage, we have to admit, is the new BMW M4 – what a car! 

It has become Margo’s first choice for trips up and down the front ranges and even though neither of us has fully exploited the capabilities of the M4’s engine we know that engine is champing at the bit to be let go. We still need a thousand plus miles to show up on the odometer before BMW advises using anything more than 4,000 rpm and for an engine that easily swings past 7,000 rpm, it should be a whole new ball game when that day comes!

It was this time of year back in 2015 that we made the quick dash from Simi Valley California back to Boulder in order to catch the birth of our daughter’s twin boys but we didn’t quite make it as surgeons intervened. It all seems so long ago now and if you want to catch up on that initial drama, you can read the post of May, 2015, The trips we plan but seldom stick to! Fortunately, this month is a more joyous occasion as all the grandchildren celebrate their birthdays around the same time (as does our daughter for that matter), the only difference being the boys are going to be 3 while the young lass will be five. As for the mother then that is a completely different story as with this handful, it may no longer be the age but the mileage!

I would like to say that our granddaughter, Ella, takes after her grandmother but that may be a stretch unless of course, you take into consideration her already blossoming sense of fashion. Despite their own circumstances, our daughter Anna’s family is starting to take shape in the sense that routines have started and school is beginning., Grandchildren never stay small however and while this is a good thing it’s also a terrible reminder to both of us about the passage of time – yes, another season and as much looked-forward-to as it is, it is still one more season we cannot put back in the bottle!

Spring is definitely a time to watch the grass turn green as birds fly overhead. It’s a time too for baseball here in America as the boys of summer begin another season-long 162-game marathon. Cars will be returning to race tracks – hopefully, even our own Corvette. Family gathering will center on grills and not hot plates and trips will be planned with visits to family and friends squeezed in even as we start longing for the first snowfall yet again. Change truly happens as seasons bring a reminder of years passing by but then again, nothing really changes – just the backdrop and the characters crossing the stage! 

A trip to sunny California is now under way and we will be spending a full week away from our Windsor home. It has been a long time since we have been out on America’s highways, but we cannot wait. For the past three months we have been working from our home office and while it’s been a fun time – yes, our curtains and drapes finally were all sorted out and are now hanging where they should – but for Margo and me, there is no substitute for being out and about, greeting friends and colleagues and making further observations on life.

As it so happened, we were jolted back to reality the day we left Windsor as snow overnight and temperatures well below freezing wasn’t what we expected. Even so, it didn’t deter our plans or lessen our spirits for the journey. Yes, “the grass is riz and the boid is most definitely on the wing” and hopefully, by the time we reach California we will get to see the state as sunny as we remember California from the time we lived in the Golden State. On the other hand, it is the time when change happens so we will take in our stride whatever we find. And with this, the only thing left for us to say is spring? Bring it on!