Thursday, March 23, 2017

maybe we're glad he's not alive to see it

Maybe there are only a few of us who will find this as funny as I do. Maybe you've gotta be REALLY geeky AND have grown up in the New York metro area in the 50's and 60's.

Original, of course, from xkcd; aren't you checking him out three times a week anyway?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

you decide

I don't know what to think about this ride. You decide.

I haven't gotten anywhere near as much riding in this year as I had by this time last year; injury, illness, family responsibilities, and meteorology have all conspired to keep me off the bike. Partly due to that, and partly due to general laziness, lack of discipline, and dissipation (defined at one of my sources in the happy phrase, "intemperate living"), I'm up almost ten lbs. from the weight I'd like to be, and I have neither the strength nor the stamina I'd like.

I've also been out of touch with friends (especially riding friends; readers of this blog will know that riding is a large part of my social interaction). I know far too much about what's going on with certain Youtube channels. The Excellent Wife (TEW) has remarked on her concern that all I'm doing is sitting with the computer on my lap for hours at a time.

The only way I know to get back on track is to act like I'm already there. Yesterday's cold and rain kept me off the bike, but predicted temperatures in the 36-45°F range today made me plan to do Winter Larry's "Back by Lunch" ride from Cranbury today.

When I get there, I saw Peter F with the ride sheet; he'd gotten an email from Larry yesterday that Larry was too busy to come. (Winter Larry emailing on a Saturday? Seems out of character to me.) Peter said he thought Sal would come (whom I did not remember), and Ralph (about whom, more later). At go time, though, there was only Peter:

...and Sal:

... and yours truly. We left, but we hadn't even gotten out to Main Street in Cranbury when Ralph appeared. So we were four.

And then we were six. Jeff X L, and another rider whom I did not meet, who were out on their own ride, met us at about mile 6 and rode along for a bit. I doubt either of them was the albatross (go look up Rime of the Ancient Mariner for the reference), but shortly thereafter, Peter had a flat. I got pictures while he changed it:

...and I got this of Ralph.

We were only a few miles further along when Peter felt like his tire wasn't right, and it wasn't; he had only a few lbs. pressure in it. Ralph pumped it up with the niftiest double-action road pump, and I lent Peter a CO2 so he'd be able to get back to the start. Peter gave Ralph a few suggestions on a route, and turned the ride over to him. So we were five.

Jeff X and the other rider already had miles in, and turned off a few miles later to go back. So we were three, and we headed to Roy's, notably along (I think) 624. There was a wind that I THOUGHT was a headwind; but it wasn't; it was a strong wind from the left side, only a degree or two ahead of dead lateral. It was tiring enough anyway. I was glad when we got to Roy's.

At Roy's, I investigated the niftiest rumor I'd heard about Ralph. He's trying to ride every day for a year; he started last June 8 and is just under 78% complete, having 284 days under his belt. He doesn't always ride on the road, but when he does, it's at least 20 miles. When the recent snow came, he went out after midnight, but before the snow would have impeded his progress. And he's doing this with no formal support (as far as I know), and with a real job and a family to whom he has responsibilities. If he makes it, I know who I'm going to nominate for the July "Member Focus" for the club newsletter.

Obligatory bikes pic at Roy's:

After the break, I had the usual stiff legs, but I never loosened up as much as I usually do after the break, and I started to fall back. Sal and Ralph were kind enough to keep back with me, and Ralph made noises like he was tired, too... but I think that was more kindness than accurate reporting.

But we did make it back together. When we got there, Peter's car was gone, and the note below was on my windshield:

Wrapped in the note was my CO2. So I guess he made it back.

I'm back home now, doing the laundry and complaining about how tired my legs are. TEW is rolling her eyes that I go out in this weather at all.

So what do you think?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

on a wintry weekend

Colder than I would have expected was Saturday March 4, so when The Excellent Wife (TEW) started hinting at a need for a date, I agreed without much reluctance to go with her to the American Watercolor show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and sent a text to Laura OLPH with my regrets that I would not be risking frostbite on the Lawrence-Hopewell trail ride that she'd scheduled.

The show is great... and HUGE; it goes on for room after room. Winslow Homer...

...Thomas Eakins...

... John Singer Sargent (BLUE ALLIGATORS, of all things!)...

...Georgia O'Keefe.

Neither of us had the calories available to make our usual stop at the Reading Terminal Market (TEW said something about getting something light there, but I've seen no evidence that anybody does anything "light" at the Reading Terminal Market), so we stopped at the Whole Foods in Princeton for a quick feed on the way home.

It wasn't going to be much warmer today, so I didn't even try to get to Cranbury for Winter Larry's ride (he advertises no rides below 34ºF). I did this short one about noon on the Krakow Monster, just to try to keep my inner Jabba the Hutt from emerging (it seems to be a losing battle). I was about to refer to today's ride as "a quick one", but there weren't nothin' quick about it. (I have been complaining about the look of the Monster. I took off the fenders and the rack, and I like it better now. I think I had made it into too much of a minivan.)

Back at home, I helped TEW hang portraits of the ancestors (we now have an ancestors gallery in the front room; ain't we posh and all?) and plan an upcoming trip to England. I've promised pics of the trip to coworkers, but I'm not eager to let them know about this blog. I'll have to set up an online gallery for them. I'll have details for all of youse-all when we come back.

One other thing: we made a donation to the local fire company. After a local scandal a year and a half ago, they ceased their fundraising for a while, but they've started up again. For reasons that should be obvious (if you look at the linked article), they need the money. Count us in.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

i needed this ride

I completely messed up the riding for yesterday. I took seriously the threats of rain, and just did this less-than-25-miler, missing entirely the 77°F temps later in the day, when it seems that EVERYBODY was out in their summer gear (in February!)

So I was delighted when I was included on an email from Laura OLPH:

After a hectic week and a day spent indoors, I need a ride. I'd rather not go to Cranbury. Are any of you up for a trip to Sergeantsville tomorrow?

Well, yes, MA'AM! So I suited up and headed for her place for the start, and met Snakehead there. (That's his bike; the picture of him came out just awful.)

We rode over to the usual start, and picked up Peter G. We thought John K was coming, but he didn't appear, and we were cold enough that we wanted to get going.

Laura had sort-of thoughts of going to Sergeantsville, but with trying to avoid the worst of the wind and improvising a route as we went, the next thing we knew we were visiting the girls in Mt Airy...

... and so we pretty much decided at that point...

... to head to Lambertville, which means we stopped at Rojo's, where we met John K, who was waiting for us.

John had planned to come with us, but was running late, and then he was running later, and then he just decided to try to meet us. Like me, he had overestimated the temps for today, but he was wearing far less for warmth than I, and was still cold after quite a time waiting at Rojo's; he briefly considered calling for a lift home, then decided to ride home on the comparatively wind-sheltered canal towpath.

The four of us continued up the Rocktown-Lambertville climb (we'd done Mine Road on the way out, and Laura decided that was enough wicked hill for the day). Somewhere along there, the anxiety kicked in; I got crazy (as I sometimes do) and had a hard time focusing on the ride; I fell back so the others wouldn't hear me arguing out loud with the demons (as I so frequently say, I'm not exactly a %$#&ing wellspring of mental health). My ruminations went on for miles; the only thing I can say is that if I HADN'T been on the ride, it probably would have been worse.

Then Laura stopped to get a picture...

...of this cow in the barn door:

...and by that time, some of the crazy had passed. (People who know me well would say it NEVER completely goes away.)

Y'wanna see the route?

In other news, keep Dave C in your thoughts. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I took a trip to Hart's on Saturday afternoon, and met Dave H there, who told us that Dave C's wheel had slipped out from under him. Dave C is in the hospital with a number of fractures; from there he goes to physical rehab, I understand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

revivifying the computer

A couple months ago, I went on a rant about keyboards. One of my good ones is attached to what Laura OLPH called the "Ultra Geeky Linux Computer".

I should have recognized the signs that the boot hard drive was dying (hard drives always do), but I didn't until the computer wouldn't boot anymore. I'd been backing up onto a second (and, in fact, a third) hard drive in that computer, but I hadn't in at least several days. So there was data that I would lose.

Most of my important stuff is in my Dropbox folder, so I knew I wouldn't lose that. There was a possibility of losing some emails I'd rather keep, but that wasn't a real problem (because most of my email accounts use the IMAP protocol, they'd sync up as soon as I logged in again anyway). The key thing was podcasts (I listen to 'em when I exercise), and there were two of them in particular.

The first is This American Life. You can get the .mp3 file of the weekly story for free IF you download it within the week; otherwise it's a 99¢ download at iTunes. I'm incredibly cheap about that kind of thing, and I HATE giving money to Apple, so I download them weekly (I have gigabytes of TAL stories on my backup drives). I hadn't backed up the last couple to the backup drives.

The other was Car Talk. When you sign up for the podcast, they only give you the last two. But I had them for years, and I was still listening to Car Talk episodes from 2013 or 2014. I wanted to get my old list back. I had been using Opera browser as my podcast feed, and I'd been saving my Opera profile through many updates. Could I get the files back?

So here's what I did:

  1. Buy the new hard drive.
  2. Download the latest Linux Mint live DVD image, burn it to disk, make sure it will boot up. It did.

  3. Try to see files on the old boot drive. Hooray! I can see the files! (So the problem must have been in the boot sector.) But because of the Linux copy permissions, I can't copy-and-paste them in the live CD session.
  4. OK. Disconnect all the hard drives (the DOA boot drive and the two backups), connect the new drive, install Linux Mint. 
  5. Sound doesn't work. Sound doesn't work? Research indicates it's a stupid choice of setting in alsamixer, which I don't initially understand, but I got it working.
  6. Hook up the DOA old boot drive. Yay! I can see it! AND I now have the permissions to do the copy-and-paste, which I do. I managed to salvage the "This American Life" files.
  7. Check the email program. Yay! Everything's there!
  8. Download Opera (not available through the Linux Mint repositories [their version of the "Google Play Store"], but it is available in the right format for Linux Mint). But wait. There's language on the site about how Opera now can do RSS, which is what I use for podcasts. I've been using it for years for that. What?
  9. Install and open Opera. Weep with disappointment. Opera has changed their format; they no longer open the old profiles. I've lost all my feeds.
  10. Take out the DOA drive, hook back in the other backup drives, and begin the hours-long process of tweaking the system to my liking (I'm still not done).
So I've got a couple of other podcast solutions going now (one is using the Firefox bookmark system, which works better for my purposes if I don't use the built-in Live Bookmark feature), and I've sworn off Car Talk. I'm more of a Judge John Hodgman kind of guy these days, anyway.

Edit Feb 22: A superficial bit of internet research unearthed the fact that the original Car Talk guys retired in 2012 (and Tom Magliozzi died in 2014); they had a number of shows "in the can", but recent shows are just amalgamations of calls and bits from their active period. So it's time to move on from Car Talk anyway.

too much, and not enough

It's been over 60°F both days this weekend. I'd been planning on that, and when I saw Laura OLPH was planning a 40-something for yesterday, I did not want to miss that...especially when I saw she was adding some extra miles from her home, bringing the total to almost 60.

I shouldn't have done the extra miles. I'll tell you now, I hit the wall at just about 50 miles; I had no power going up any kind of a hill, I was falling off the back, and I could feel the tremor. I didn't intend to be the Ride Canary for the day, but that's how it worked out. I'm grateful for Snakehead and Chris C, who had stayed back, and saw I got enough water and junk food to make it the rest of the way.

Perhaps I'll be more careful in the future when I'm getting back on a bike after several months, with an injury and a weeks-long illness-and-recovery in the interim.

But probably not.

It was a great ride anyway, and just the thing I needed after my enforced idleness. Eight of us went, many of whom I've ridden with for years, whom I consider friends, and others whom I wish I knew better. Peter and I met Laura at her house, and we rode into Pennington, where we met Ricky G, Snakehead, Chris C, and Andrew. Just as we were leaving, Celeste rode in.

We did this route. I found it hillier than advertised (Laura's route page showed the elevation as 2272, lower than the 3042 I wound up with), and there was moderately hairy direction (we went about twenty feet on 206 in the direction against traffic), but it was a great day, a great ride, and I'm delighted I had a chance to hang out with some bike-y people and ride again.

The nominal reason for the ride was another stop at thee Factory Fuel coffee shop in Flemington.

It's a wonderfully alt-left place; the baristas are decorated with tattoos, ear gauges, and good cheer; there was a young lady out front of the farm market next door collecting signatures against Trump, and the inside of the farm market held (in addition to the farm stands) an aging band and stands with various homemade wares for sale (there was a driving cap that caught my eye; I may be back). Most of us ate and drank coffee in the sun.

The coffee-drinkers tell me the coffee is good (I went with an orange Pellegrino instead), and I can tell from personal report that the junk food there is certainly worth the working-off of the empty calories.

In lieu of the obligatory bikes pic, here's another look at that rack they've installed out front. They need to move it away from the wall a bit.

It is, of course, similarly warm and sunny today, but I didn't have another long ride in me. Instead, I went for one of my usual 20-milers at a sensible pace. Then I came home and fell asleep on the recliner... it wasn't even noon yet.

Later this week: a post about bringing the Ultra Geeky Linux Computer back from the dead when the hard drive died, and how, even if you can salvage files from the hard drive (I did), it doesn't help if one of the programs on which you've come to depend has upgraded to the point that the old format is no longer recognized. Grrr...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

finally back on a bike

I got an email from Tom about a ride on the rail at Tyler Park today. I didn't think I was going, until The Excellent Wife (TEW) made it clear this morning that she thought I ought to. "It's on a trail," she said, "if you get lost or fall off the back, you can just turn around and go back." TEW's ideas of trails are based on the D&R canal towpath; the Tyler Park trails are more like a network, but I don't think that was the point; I think the real reason for the suggestion was that she thought I needed to see some of my bike-y friends. And a case could definitely be made; I've been in a much better mood this afternoon than recently. I've been able to completely avoid the topic of recent politics (until just now... D'OH!).

I barely got the bike onto the car and on my way in order to make it in time, I was that sure I wasn't doing anything today. After a bit of worried navigation, I figured I was in the right place when I saw Chris C's truck, and, next to it, Tom's Subaru.

And, right about start time, Laura OLPH pulled up.

The three of them were on mountain bikes, and I was riding the Krakow Monster with hybrid tires, so I took heed of a quick lesson from Chris on snow and ice surfaces. Most of the trail was cleared, though.

It was a wintry day.

I decided to walk the bike up the steep, muddy/icy/snowy hill to the covered bridge. I am learning my limits.

Did I mention it was a wintry day?

I was surprised by the number of people out walking the trail, many with excellent-looking dogs (I wonder if there's a attractiveness quotient for dogs allowed into the park of a Saturday). Perhaps a future blog post will feature good-looking canines.

I've been worrying about whether I'd be able to keep up after the ankle injury two months ago, and bronchitis over the past month. Two bits of good news, then: first, neither the ankle nor the lungs posed particular problems. There were a couple of climbs* that did me in, but I think that was mostly just being out of shape (which I definitely am). (*It was probably the same climb twice; we did part of the loop two times - see the ride page.) Second, I was able to keep up with Laura, Tom, and Chris.

More important, though, was that I got to see some friends I have not seen. I think I've made it clear in these posts that a large part of my social life is tied to the bike. Having missed almost all of that for two months, including Christmas and New Year's, has added to a smidge of depression, I think. I'm much brighter today. I'm looking forward to getting out more with other riders: people I know well, and people I don't.

Near the end of the ride we stopped at a park building to engage in some plumbing. The melt-and-refreeze off the eave onto a picnic table was picturesque.

Later, TEW and I will be going on an early Valentine's date, where I hope to provide more jollity than gloom. I've had gloom enough (do you need any?)

(I do not love the look of that rear derailleur on the Monster. I think I'm low-key in the market for a prettier one. That one works. I got it, though, to prove that a really cheap component [which that is; it's a Shimano Altus] can do the job, and it does, especially with the friction shifting. But it's not a thing I love.)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

just sayin'

Now, I'll admit that my loyalties are suspect; I LIKED Clinton because she wasn't "liberal nice".

That said, the most recent Republican presidents have been George W and Trump... and along the way, they threw in Sarah Palin.

Is this the best they can do?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Do you remember that post about the Lunar Baboon comic from a couple weeks ago?

He posted another one.

Do you suppose the hair on that monster is supposed to remind you of anybody?

Monday, January 30, 2017

we've got to welcome them

If we attack Trump supporters, or belittle them... or pity them... or seem to be "concerned" about them...

... we force them to double-down and harden their positions.

I think we have to find a way to welcome them. And I can't think of a way to do it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

still under the weather

I finally went back to work on Friday the 27th. I spent the day doing not much more than cleaning up all the detritus that had accumulated in my absence. With all that, I got an avuncular lecture from my administrator that I was working too hard (he was concerned about my checking my work email while I was out sick).

I'm on my ninth day of a ten-day regimen of antibiotics. Usually, by this time I'm so well recuperated that I have to remind myself to take the last few doses, but I'm still coughing up gloop. I'm a little worried that I'll still be ailing after the antibiotic regimen ends, and the bugs will regroup and attack anew, this time fortified, as their weaker numbers will have been killed off. I'm sure I'm being idiotic.

What I DON'T think I'm being idiotic about is the realization that these lung things might be what finally takes me to visit Charon and cross the Styx. For decades, I got every respiratory ailment that came around, and when I was sick, I was SICK. I had recurring bronchitis (which is what this is), and I wouldn't be surprised if it turned into pneumonia during one of these visits. (But everybody dies, and there are worse ways to go.)

I did feel well enough today to get on the Krakow Monster and take it out for ten miles. While my friends have been most eager to invite my on group rides, I'm sure I'm not ready. I'm blaming illness and headwinds (and the heavy Krakow Monster), but I did the five miles out at 12.8mph, and got it up to a smoking 14.7mph on the ride back. It's gonna be a while before I'm up to Hill Slug or Insane Bike Posse distances and paces.

There was one bright spot. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went to see the McCarter Theater presentation of the Bedlam Theater Company production of Shaw's St Joan. Four actors did the whole thing, and it rocked. I was in tears several times throughout. After, we went to Teresa's for dinner. Great date, and TEW and I need more of them (great dates, that is).

Anyway, thanks for checking in. I'm going to go shower now.

Edit: The thing I didn't tell you about, but which is hanging heavy over me, is that I just heard today that another priest, also a classmate at the seminary to which I went for college, has been removed from the priesthood for perpetrating sexual abuse. In college, he and I were friends, although I later discovered he had turned into kind of a jerk. I've alluded to classmates who'd done this and been defrocked before in this blog, but I never wrote about how it messes me up. We were going to set the world on fire.

I guess some of us did.