Adam gets 2nd in first race

   Adam entered his first race today and got second place! This is the same series he participated in two weeks ago, when he crashed. He worked very hard to get over the fear of riding in a pack again, and the effort paid off.
   The series is called the Spring Training Series , run by Quick Release Promotions . If you click on the first link, you will see Adam’s times posted. This is a small circuit, known as a criterium, maybe half a mile to a mile in length, and is run on small industrial loop on Sundays when none of the businesses on the loop is open, so there are no cars. Adam is on the junior team(under 18 yrs), which gets a lot of support in the club. Yesterday, they gave him a new helmet! The coaches take the juniors around for a few fast laps and teach them how to ride close together and become comfortable with that. The key technique is to form a paceline and take turns riding in front. The cooperation allows them to ride faster than they could alone.
   After these laps, each rider rides an individual time trial. The weather was very breezy today and cold, but Adam rode two laps of the course in 4:15sec. Two weeks ago, he rode it in 4:10, but in calm conditions. After comparing times, the riders with similar times are paired up and given a headstart according to those times. The faster riders start later, and the idea is that everyone should finish at the same time. The competitiveveness follows naturally: the rider in front try not to get caught, and the riders in the back try to catch them. Each group has to cooperate to achieve their goal.
   The race was four laps, but at end of three laps, Adam’s partner(who was faster in  the time trial) tried to drop him and go for the win, quickly building a five bike length lead. During the postrace interview, Adam says “(the other rider) made his move on the downhill portion of the course into the wind, so I relaxed, then when the wind was at our backs, I caught up to him while he was tired. When we turned back into the wind it got hard again and I got really tired.” Adam’s quick grasp of race tactics kept in him “in contact” (racing lingo) with his partner, and resulted in a losing margin of only one or two bike lengths. “I’m intelligent,” he says. If Adam hadn’t rested, he would have lost by more and probably been caught by the second group. He enjoyed riding with someone as fast as he is, and together, they held off the second group. Here is a picture of Adam in his racing apparel.

Spring Break, Part II

   Today was a day we spent with some neighborhood friends of ours. The picture on the left is Arianna with Gabby, who is six years old. They have just dressed up Arianna’s Barbies and posed them on the Barbie House. The picture on the right shows the boys playing with Mason, from another family, who is nine years old. They love to play video games together, and basketball with the improving weather(hey, someday it will be spring here). Shortly after this picture was taken, we had lunch, then joined the parents at Zap Zone for a round of glow in the dark putt-putt golf and a game of Laser Tag. Both families are within walking distance of our house, which is nice. We’ve been hanging out with Mason’s family for about 2 years, and Gabby’s family only recently. We’re ashamed to admit they’ve been in the neighborhood for longer than this, but during the winter and with our busy schedule, it is hard to get around the block. Now that we’ve met them, they are part of our daily business.

Aaron the sketch artist

   Earlier this year, Cyndi discovered an event at the Detroit Institute of Arts(DIA) called Friday nights at the DIA , where there is live music and special events for kids, like crafts. One night, they had artists and materials available for people to make their own sketches of various exhibits on display. The artists were there for guidance and advice. Aaron and Cyndi did some impressive sketches that drew little criticism from the artist and some “wow, you’re good at this” comments instead.
   Sketching at the DIA is now a favorite activity for Aaron and Cyndi. So far, Aaron has chosen to makes sketches of 3 dimensional sculptures instead of copying paintings. Tonight, Aaron built a new web page for this work called Aaron’s Sketches , where three sketches are now posted. I hope you’re as impressed as I am, particularly when you remember that this kid is only in fifth grade. His art teacher in school told us two weeks ago that Aaron has a natural gift for this.

Spring Break, Part I

   So this week is spring break, and Cyndi and I have taken various days off work so we can be home with the kids. Monday, we had a general day at home. Tuesday, we went to the Ann Arbor Science Museum , always a favorite. This year, they had a theme of diet/foods, giving demonstrations of how much sugar is in various drinks, how to find the different areas of taste on your tongue. Aaron spent a lot of time in the video green room, making himself disappear on TV.
   Wednesday, we went downtown to the Detroit Institute of Arts and did some seeing, lunching and sketching. They had an exhibit we wanted to see of Ansel Adams, which everyone in the family enjoyed. I’ll try to post the sketches that Cyndi, Aaron and Arianna did. Adam and I spent time critiqueing all the art that we  classify as “3 year old-ism”. We all know this kind of art, which looks like a 3 year old painted, yet was bought at some exhorbitant price and intrepreted as “evoking life’s tension between good and evil, illustrating the futility in the struggle between man and nature.” We are convinced the artist would simply argue, “Hey, look, I just kind of threw some paint on the wall and it was a lot of fun to make, and I needed to pay the rent, you know?”
   Thursday, we slept in and I made breakfast, then we went bowling with a neighborhood friend, Mason. Arianna and the Mason bowled in the bumper lanes, while Dad, Adam and Aaron took our chances with genuine gutter balls. Dad started out with two strikes and three spares, then started thinking about what he was doing and destroyed his game. Everyone else got one strike, including Arianna(her first strike), probably the worlds slowest strike ever, because it took maybe ten seconds for all the pins to fall over as the little 6lb pound ball wandered around in all directions among them. And she didn’t hit the bumpers on the way down the lane, so it was a real strike.
   By now you’ve figured out that we forgot to take the camera with us and document all this activity, so I coaxed Aaron into fabricating an animation that captures the spirit of the day. I hope it animates on this blog.

Announcing Arianna online!

   Okay, I finally designed Arianna’s page and posted it online. Her’s has the most pictures, and the web geeks will notice I caved in and designed it using Cascaded Style Sheets. For the non-geeks, nevermind, just enjoy the page. Arianna takes fun pictures, doesn’t she? Now only Mom is left, and she’s strongly considering outsourcing this task to Aaron…

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  We made it through the Easter marathon looking pretty good!  As part of the choir, Eddie and Cyndi sang at the Easter Eve service Saturday night, and two services on Easter morning.  Easter is the one day each year that there is music at the 8 am service at our church (Trinity Episcopal, Belleville).  Usually we only sing at the 10 am.  This year Eddie also played alto flute in a trio with two other musicians.  It was a nice touch for Easter.

Anyway.  We all made it through 2 services and breakfast looking presentable enough for a family picture.  So here it is.

Blessings to all our friends and family.  You have been blessings to us.

P.S.  Adam is not wearing a hat because we could not find one to fit over his hair! 
(Actually, he did not want one.)

Aaron the webauthor and graphics designer

   Aaron has been busy creating stuff on the computer. He launched his own forum 4 days ago on and has already received over 100 posts and nearly 800 visitors. In this forum, members describe an animation and Aaron makes it using MS Paint and an online tool called Iconator . To witness this firsthand, you can visit the forum and see the requests for yourself, some of them very strange. Aaron is very creative and up to the task. He just made a new page on our website and posted his animations. Later, he will add other things he’s drawn. Sometimes he uses old fashion paper and pencil, you know…
   Here’s a picture of the young graphics designer at work. The geeks among you will notice that I’ve been teaching him keyboard short cuts.

Mom and Arianna get sucked in by Nintendo

   This is a picture of a recent trend in the Hernandez household: BOTH
mommy and Arianna playing Nintendo DS. The DS belongs to Aaron , and
the game they are playing is called Animal Crossing. You Russki Dom
alumni out there will recognize that Arianna is ‘perching’, just like
all you guys used to do when waiting your turn to play cards in college.

Dad’s Music Page

   Some of you know that I was in a jazz trio called Blue Skies Trio for a couple of years. Although we broke up when our vocalist/guitar player retired and moved to Florida in 2006, I’ve kept practicing and I decided to try my hand at home recording. I started a new page on our website called Dad’s Music page where you can find more details and download two songs I’ve done so far. Unfortunately, to keep the size down, they are m4a format for now, which might limit you to using iTunes. I’d love to read comments about what you think.