Saturday, March 28, 2020

waxing the chain

I've been using paraffin wax as my chain lube for a few months, and I think it's great. It makes a good lube, and it keeps the drivetrain clean. I really like it.

Now, don't even think of doing this unless you're the kind of person (like I am) who wishes your bike needed more maintenance, more regularly than it does. I love working on the bike (almost as much as riding it, and sometimes more than riding it), and I was looking for something else to do on it.

In my aimless internet ramblings, I ran across this guy's video:

...and this one:

... and a few others, and thought, "That's just the thing!"

I started by giving the drivetrain of the Yellow Maserati a cleaning as if it were going to undergo surgery. I took apart the chainrings and cleaned the with the cranks. Then I took the cluster off the back wheel to clean it.

THAT's an awful job that I'll never do again. I'll buy a new cassette first. And if I ever have to do it for anybody else, I'll find out how much a new cassette costs, charge 'em $125 more than that for the cleaning, and just give 'em the new cassette. The cassette was deep-down grimy with caked lube, metal powder, road dust, and who knows what-all. I gave it a bath in mineral spirits and scrubbed, and got filth all over. I had to clean up the work area when it was done.

After that, it was time to do the wax. Now, paraffin is incredibly flammable; time was when the prevalent wisdom was to do the heating in a double-boiler to reduce the risk of burning down the building in which you were heating it. But, with the march of technology, I was able to get the cutest little nine-inch crockpot you ever saw.

The first time I did it, I used Gulf Wax, which comes as a box of four quarter-pound blocks. It's enough to do a BUNCH of chains... but Michaels sells this 9-lb package for about $27, which makes it almost stupidly cheap. (The folks at Michaels think the wax is for making candles. What do they know?) There will be leftover wax in the bottom of the crockpot, which can be reused if it's clean. In the picture above you can see a disk of wax, ready to be reheated.

The bottom of the crockpot is almost big enough to get the chain in as a single layer if I roll it like a pancake. I leave a bit off the end to make a second layer, and run a wire through to lower it into the wax and lift it out.

In the crockpot, the wax takes about 60-90 minutes to melt. When it's all melted, in goes the chain.

When the chain first enters the wax, a quantity of bubbles are released. The is the wax replacing the air spaces in the links of the chain. Leave the chain in the wax, and come back and agitate it a few times. When you don't see any more bubbles. the chain is fully waxed, and can be taken out of the hot paraffin.

But if you just take it out, the hot wax will fall right off the chain. I have a water bath nearby, and dump the hot waxed chain into the water.

The wax immediately hardens, and the assembly looks like the picture at the top of this post.

There will be a lot of extra wax, and the chain will need to be loosened up. I just run the chain around my fingers with leather gloves on.

There will still be extra wax on the chain, but it will fall off when you mount the chain on the bike, spin the cranks, and run the gears up and down a time or two.

The process is time-consuming enough that I keep two chains, one on the bike, and another ready to be changed on. When I put the clean, waxed chain on, I then have several hundred miles of riding before the other has to be ready.

To facilitate removing and remounting the chains, I use the Wipperman Connex Links, which are removable without tools, and are the only ones recommended for more than a single use. They work with SRAM (my preference) and Shimano chains.

Before waxing, the chain needs to be cleaned. My procedure for a new chain is this:

  • Put the chain in a jar, and add enough mineral spirits to cover. Shake vigorously. How long? Bike Snob recommends long enough to play though "Walkin' on Sunshine."

  • The mineral spirits clean off a lot, but leave a residue behind that will inhibit the adhesion of the paraffin. So put the chain in a clean jar, add rubbing alcohol (or a mix of about 60% alcohol and 40% water), and shake. This time, you can do "Walk Like an Egyptian."

  • Finally, in a jar with a water-based degreaser. How about the third movement of Bach's Second Brandenburg?

That will do for a new chain. But I've ruined a batch of wax because I didn't get a used chain clean enough. So for used chains, I double the last two steps.


The worst of the fog that was the meat of my last post is passing, at least for now.

The two main reasons I can give for this are these: the support of The Excellent Wife (TEW), and an email chain, started by Laura OLPH, involving a number of my bike-y friends. Thanks to you all.I can't say how much you mean to me.

I've been spending too much time following the news, reading horror stories about how the COVID-19 virus has afflicted those who are suffering the worst. In my imagination, I'm sure to be a victim, because I catch every respiratory ailment that comes close. I've got a history of strep throat and bronchitis, and missed most of kindergarten battling pneumonia. My parents were afraid I might die at the time. One of the reasons I support science, even when I don't really understand it, is that I'm sure it saved my life then, by means of antibiotics (which had been in general use for only about 20 years at the time).

Too much reading is not helping, so I'm planning to reduce my news dependence. I've downloaded a couple of books, and I'll plan to paraffin my chain today. (Thank might make another blog post. Watch this space.)

Another thing that's not helping is Facebook. I saw postings on Facebook about a "minister" who had been a COVID-denier who had subsequently died from the disease. My initial reaction was to gloat. I don't want to be that person, and I think Facebook promotes that. The Facebook algorithms promote the echo-chamber culture effect, giving me more and more of what I already know and agree with, and less of anything else. It separates me even further from viewpoints with which I might disagree. So it's easier to see people who hold those viewpoints as aliens. I don't think that's useful; I don't think it's going to get us what we want. We are separated enough. I think that's helping to feed my isolation, and I need less isolation right now.

TEW suggested knitting again, and I might see what yarn we've got, to make another of those neck gaiters like the too-colorful one I ride with. I might not; knitting doesn't engage me as much as other activities with tools do.

I also have to point out that the use of ZOOM has been an unexpected blessing. Both my WW group and my work team are using ZOOM for meetings. The WW group has been a great support, and the work one too, although less so. I think part of the reason the work online meeting is less of a support is that almost none of my coworkers turn on their cameras - I suspect they don't want to show off the torn t-shirts and pajama tops they are wearing when working from home. (My director and I turn our cameras on. I may even wear a tie next time, just because why the hell not?)

My hands are a wreck from so much handwashing. They feel sunburned all the time, and the skin and the knuckles (especially) is red and rough. I never use grooming products, but I've tried Vaseline on 'em, which didn't seem effective. This morning, I tried some to TEW's hand cream. I'm not sure htat's better.

I'm keeping up with exercise (I do something every day) and I haven't been eating all the junk in the house (not that we keep much...). Since we're minimizing our store trips in an effort to minimize exposure to infection, I'm always afraid that we're going to run out of stuff, so I may not be eating enough. I've been tired all the time, and cold in the house (at 68F). We've tried online order-and-pickup from the grocery, which was disappointing: not all the items were included, but we didn't know that until I got the bags back in the house (that may be adding to my fear of running out).

Oh, and that beard I started? Because I'm not going to be able to get a haircut, and I want an excuse for looking sloppy and unkempt? It fell victim to the Norelco. TEW said she likes me better clean-shaven. I didn't know!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

barely holding on

I had hoped to continue going into the office, but it was made clear that That.Was.Not.To.Happen, so I packed up my work computer on Monday, and I'm working from home. Since I don't have to knot up a tie or do the commute, you'd think I'd have no problem getting logged in on time, but both days I've barely gotten to computer fired up by start time.

While we've got food in the house, it's not the usual stuff I eat during the day, and I was hungry all day yesterday. Today The Excellent Wife (TEW) got out shopping and got some more stuff. Now I'm trying to minimize consumption and make it last, because who knows when we'll get out again? I'm an ace away from 65 years old, which puts me in a high-risk group for the COVID-19 illness. So to reduce my risk, we've decided I should stay away from stores. At the same time, it's all I can do to keep from eating all of the bars and junk food in the house.

For years, I've made a practice of looking at my retirement plans daily. There have been ups and downs, but it's been scary to see my investments drop. Even in my fairly conservative portfolio, I'm down about 17%, and have lost the equivalent of about two years' salary in the past month. Yeah, it will probably come back, and I'm certainly not going to move my money now, but it's no fun. I'm hoping to retire sooner rather than later, and this is just sucking the wind out of me.

I saw an article about the Lt. Governor of Texas telling us all to get back to work. I'd love to. But what if I were responsible for someone getting the virus and subsequently dying? I'm more afraid of that than of dying myself.

So here's a silly thing that takes up far too much emotional space: I probably won't be able to get a haircut. Every now and then, we go somewhere where old hippies gather, and I see some man of a certain age who looks like he hasn't bothered to clean himself up and make himself presentable since, say, the second Bush administration. It makes my skin crawl, and I often get a haircut a few days later. I won't be able to do that. I've started a beard to give some excuse to my disheveled, unkempt appearance. But if the barber were available (and safe) tomorrow, I'd shave it all off again. (I got a Wahl trimmer kit for a present a gazillion years ago; if it gets really bad, I'll just give myself a whole-head buzzcut. TEW will be appalled.)

One of my coworkers, who's seen me at my worst ( two or three years ago, when I was going through one of my bad anxieties, pretty much everybody stayed away; we joke about it now, but I was closer to suicide the than I ever want to get), tells me I need to list what I'm grateful for. He's right. So here are a few:
  • I'm working and getting paid. Many are not.
  • I have the support of TEW. 
  • I have the (perhaps more distant) support of a few friends, whom I haven't driven off.
  • I'm far away from my family, and I don't have to put up with them. (Yes, I'm grateful for the distance from my family.)
  • I'm still watching my diet and doing my daily exercises. (Yes. I do some kind of physical workout every day. When I can't ride, I use a rowing machine, or weights and bodyweight exercises. And I've done it every day for months; I'm still continuing.)
  • All five computers, both tablets, and both cell phones are working, as is the home network and the internet.
  • .We have food, clothing, a warm house, transportation, no debt.
Here's hoping you stay healthy. In every way

Sunday, March 22, 2020

defying the infection

Club rides are cancelled.

Lots of other things are cancelled, too, but right now, I'm talking about club rides.

At the same time, at least during the week, outdoor exercise was being encouraged. So in a flurry of emails among the Insane Bike Posse (because Tom H sent the first email and said he would plan the route), people agreed to a ride starting at Village Park in Cranbury. I wasn't sure I'd be able to go because The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I had a Hot Date planned... but then, pretty much everything that hadn't been cancelled got cancelled, and I was suddenly free to do the ride.

Bob N and I drove in; Tom and Jack H rode in together, and Ricky G rode in on his own.

Ever the safety-conscious leader, Tom brought out a six-foot string with a weight on the end and swung it around to make sure we knew what a six-foot radius looked like, so we'd know how far to stay away from one another. Video below:

We took his "suggestion" tolerably well.

(A modification of that picture is now the background of the Princeton Freewheelers page.)

Tom set a route that was a figure-of-eight with the crossing near the Sharon School. Laura OLPH met us there (and rolled off home when we got back there).

Although there is always conversation on our rides (and this was no exception), there was less than usual on this one. When riding side-by-side, we took up the whole lane, and, while there was far less traffic than usual, there was still some traffic. So discussions were interrupted.

We stopped at a place that usually has available toilets (but they were closed; we had to improvise -- fantasize wildly), and stopped again at Roy's. Roy's was open, but only for takeout, and the toilets there were closed as well. We sat in the outdoor chairs (with adequate separation; see Tom's blog post for verification -- Tom's post also might have the best lead-off picture ever).

And then more-or less straight back to Cranbury. Ride Page.

We'd heard that while we were out, Governor Phil was going to make an announcement about further restrictions due to the COVID-19. I was a bit anxious that this was to be the last ride until the infection had passed. But it doesn't have to be; once again, outdoor recreation is one of the excluded classes from the general order to stay home and off the roads.

So I took advantage of that this morning. I'm writing this post from the home of the 90-year-old Excellent Mother-In-Law, who had a stroke several months ago, and now all of the family steps in to assist with her care. My current position is more-or-less as fifth wheel, while TEW acts the Martha around the house.

But earlier today, I was able to get a solo ride in from home. There was little notable about it... except that I rolled through Veterans Park in Montgomery and saw this:

For me, those "Playground Closed" signs, and the hazard tape across the basketball court, will be the icons of this infection. Pictures like these will be what schoolkids learn from in sixty years.

But I got 23 miles in. At first I didn't realize I had a tailwind, and thought I was riding exceptionally well... but then I turned to come back, and my speed dropped. Such is life in wartime.

Ride page.

TEW has been told not to come to work tomorrow, and while I'm still going to the office, there are about seven people in a room usually filled with almost fifty. Since we don't see clients there (it's a phone-and-web support office), I may be safer there than anywhere. My hands feel like sunburn from the washing and disinfectant. Here's hoping for a return to normality for all of us, and here's hoping for a silver lining from all of this uncertainty and financial upset.

Did I just imply something?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


Since my last post, I've re-thought the flippant attitude I had about social distancing and self-isolating as a means of containing COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. I supported the Princeton Freewheeler decision to cancel rides, and, while I may ride and may invite others to come along, I don't know yet what I'll do about stops or toilet breaks.

Both my mother and The Excellent Mother-In-Law are at risk from COVID-19. I'm in the age group with a higher fatality risk, but, despite my recurring bronchitis and strep throat, somehow I believe I'll be one who gets a mild case and recovers. (A "mild case", as I understand it, means one for which you don't have to be hospitalized. I can be seriously ill, therefore, and still have a mild case.)

John Green and his brother Hank (both published authors) have this Youtube channel, Vlogbrothers, that I catch regularly. I find it almost always speaks to me, and this one made me teary. It's about what humans do together, and that's a soft spot of mine. It's part of why I have no patience with isolationists and preppers; we're ALL part of it... not just the people I know, the people who look like me, the people who speak a language I understand.

At about 2:10 in the video is a graph that I've seen over and over, about how the effect of social distancing and self-isolation will reduce the strain on the healthcare system. Beneath both bell curves is an area representing the number of people who get the disease. Now, I know enough math to know that the area under those curves is more or less the same. Even WITH all these precautions, most of us (including me) will probably be infected. But perhaps we will not strain our resources past the breaking point if we manage this adequately.

I don't think we're all going to die (although some of us will). I think we will find a way to return to more-or-less normal. But now it's time to come together... even if that means staying separate. Let us seek other ways to reach out, different from the ones we are used to. Let us be flexible and imaginative. Let's ignore those who would divide us further. Find the ways to get the support you need. Find ways to stay connected. Perhaps there will even be ways to make new connections.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

social distancing

In these days of panic over COVID-19 (yes, there IS panic, not denying the real threat of the epidemic), a few of us decided that it is within the definition of "social distance" as a means of containing the spread of this new virus to go on a bike ride - after all, there doesn't need to be contact between riders, and we forwent sharing food or drink.

I didn't know until late Thursday that I would be available to do a ride today (Saturday, March 14); a large gathering place where The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I had a hot date has gone dark through the end of the month, effectively cancelling the date. So yesterday, I posted a last minute ride for today (I usually lead on Sundays, but I've got another conflict for tomorrow).

With two of these Sunday rides moved to Saturday in a row, Bob N says that pretty soon, I won't be able to call 'em Sunday rides any more. Piffle. I can call 'em anything I want to. I run the PFW website; who's gonna stop me?

Although a non-member did sign up for the ride (and probably tried to cancel; there were two emails about his signup), I had five of The Usual Suspects, which is impressive for a listing that had been up less than 24 hours prior to the ride start, especially with the fear of the virus and the admonitions to avoid possible infection.

I rode in a bit early and did an extra ten miles before the start, and five miles after, so I got in over 50 for this 36-or-so-mile route. Several of the others rode in as well. We did this route, with some pretty stiff winds as we went out. By the time we got to East Mountain Ave, we turned so the wind wasn't quite in our faces anymore, and from there until the break, the wind was more-or-less at our backs.

Pardon the quality of the pictures, which look like they may have been taken with a matchbox, but when we got to the break at Thomas Sweet, we weren't the only ones supporting the economy:

As I got those pictures, there was a certain amount of suspicion; I think the patrons thought I was gonna turn 'em in for breaking the curfew, or something.

And back. As usual, the folks who had ridden in rolled off as it was convenient for them to do (Laura OLPH had an online meeting with the Sierra Club to attend. for example), and the rest made it back to the start in good enough order. I rolled in behind to thank them for coming out, and then rode home.

I DO recommend precautions about the virus. While the infection is likely to spread, by taking precautions, we may be able to keep number of infections at any one time to a manageable level, not straining (or breaking) the healthcare resources around us. But I stopped in a supermarket on Thursday evening, and the reaction there was completely out of proportion to the real risk. I intend to remain sensible, and as informed as I can be, without succumbing to the panic that seems to accompany a steady diet of the news and media about these events. I find a certain amount of disconnecting (without doing so completely) has been good for my health.

Friday, March 13, 2020

ride for march 14

Yeah, well, that ride I WANTED to do on Sunday, I'm doing Saturday.

The description is the same: Back to one of my first routes (more or less this one, with the annoying hills, although I don't plan to do that climb on Burnt Hill that was such an unpleasant surprise), Stop at Thomas Sweet. 36-ish miles; nobody dropped (except me, if recent experience is to be trusted). Places to sprint if you wanna.

Princeton Freewheelers ride, club rules apply. Start at 9:30 at Blackwells Mills/Six Mile lot; location linked from the club calendar listing. Parking lot is starting to fill up when I'm ready to leave; maybe you want to get there a bit early in case you have to use one of the overflow lots.

Link to listing on Freewheelers ride calendar.

Come out and do something with a low COVID-19 risk!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ride for march 15 2020

EDIT: Crap. Gotta go to the excellent mother-in-law's. Had to cancel the ride.

Back to one of my first routes (more or less this one, with the annoying hills, although I don't plan to do that climb on Burnt Hill that was such an unpleasant surprise), Stop at Thomas Sweet. 36-ish miles; nobody dropped (except me, if recent experience is to be trusted). Places to sprint if you wanna.

Princeton Freewheelers ride, club rules apply. Start at 9:30 at Blackwells Mills/Six Mile lot; location linked from the club calendar listing. Parking lot is starting to fill up when I'm ready to leave; maybe you want to get there a bit early in case you have to use one of the overflow lots. Link to listing on Freewheeler calendar.

Hope to see youse.

some thoughts on weight

I thought of this after I heard myself, and a few others, complaining about being stuck at a certain weight. I'm beginning to think weight is just an indicator. It’s an important one, and it’s the one that usually gets us in the door, but it’s just one indicator.

I think that’s why the WW folks go on so about movement, healthy eating, healthy choices generally, and the like. I think we can be doing ALL THE RIGHT STUFF… and the weight may not go down (or may even go up!). So it’s important not to ONLY look at the weight (although it’s important not to ignore it).

This post has been percolating for a few weeks, and when I first started to think about it, I thought of the following story: Suppose you come upon the magic WW lantern. It’s blue, green, and purple, with the WW logo on the side. You polish it up for a minute to get the dust off, and WHOOOOSH! Out pops the genie, with the easy humor, blonde hair, and fashionable accessories; she looks just like my WW coach.

“Wow!” she says. “Good thing I’ve been in WW for all these years, or that space would have been even MORE cramped than it was! Look at this outfit; I’ll NEVER get these creases out!

“OK, listen. Here’s how it works: I can give you one of two wishes. I can make it all work for you. You’ll feel better, you’ll fit into all your clothes, you’ll be able to keep up with any activity, you’ll even be able to tire out your grandkids! And you’ll look great. You’ll be thin, healthy looking, in shape… wait; healthy LOOKING, did I say? Better than that; you’ll be HEALTHY! You’ll be off your meds, your doctor will be shaking his (or her) head about how great you’re doing. And you’ll have a long life, and when it’s time to die, you’ll have a quick, relatively painless death.

“Only one thing: if you get on the scale, you’re gonna weigh MORE than the weight when you started WW. It will only show on the scale; you’ll have all the energy and other good stuff you want, and you’ll be thin and strong, but your weight won’t line up with how you look and act. The scale will still show that high number.

“You other option is this: you get to be any weight you want. That’s what the scale will show. But you’ll be tired, in pain, out of breath; you’ll have low energy, you’ll look like your “before” pictures and worse. But the scale will show any number you like.

“So? Which is it? Which one are you going to choose?”

Now, given that choice, who would go for the weight? To me, the important stuff is the way I feel, what I can do, what my health is like. So within reason, I need to let go of what the scale says. I can’t ignore it entirely (because it IS an important indicator, like the gas gauge on the car), but I shouldn’t use it as the sole indicator – just like I shouldn’t try to manage the gas level in the car by gluing the gas gauge needle in place.

I work in addiction and mental health, and we have a name for folks who obsess solely on weight and trying to keep it off. They’re called anorectics; they have a condition called Anorexia Nervosa. Despite the fashion magazines, it’s not pretty. It can be fatal.

So I’m letting go of obsessing on the number, and I’m trying to remember all of the other factors that tell me how healthy I am and how I’m doing. Well, I’m trying to let go, anyway.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

sunday on saturday

I swear, you don't HAVE to wear red to come on my winter rides. It just works out that way. 

 I have a conflict that interferes with my usual Sunday ride-leading tomorrow, and Laura OLPH had a conflict with her usual Saturday ride today, so we decided to swap. I planned one of my usual routes, and posted it for today.

There's not enough going on; I had nine.

... and some others. Not everybody wore red.

Good heavens, but it was windy today.Laura sent me a screen cap of the wind reports.

No wonder I'm tired. We were into the wind the whole way out, and, in a show of meteorological unfairness, good parts of the way back, too.

We set off on my usual route, and as we cut through Hillsborough, Bob N asked if I'd like to try a few more shortcuts along paths. Oh, yes, sir!

However, the GPS had other ideas and cut out; I had to stop and get it going again. The ride page here shows the two files surgically joined. (It includes my rides to and from home; I got about ten miles more than the ride went. That said, five of my nine had ridden from home, and probably also wound up with extra miles.)

Anyway, Bob's shortcuts are neat; I'm going to try to include them on future trips.

We got to the Pig, my favorite coffee stop.

See? Not everybody wears red!

(The red thing makes me a little crazy. I like a certain amount of anarchy - within the bounds of safety - on my rides, and the preponderance of red makes it look like we're a team in training, or maybe one of those gotta-be-matching clubs. Hrmph.)

On the way back, the folks who had ridden in from home rolled off one by one, leaving me and three others. As we got on to Canal Road I felt my legs about to cramp, and slowed down, letting the others disappear over the horizon. They were waiting politely at the parking area to make sure we were all OK when I got there.

So that's what I did on this windy, but sunny day. I hope things went well for you.

explaining my life

From the article:

But it’s the human angle of the harbinger research that most intrigues her. “It resonates with so many people,” Professor Tucker says. “Everyone knows that one person. Or they are that person. And for them I’ve suddenly explained their life.”

An article entitled "Are You an Anti-Influencer?" appeared in my feed this morning, and it explains a lot of my preferences that don't do well commercially.

Apparently, there's a type, that tends to live in certain zip codes (and if we move, we move to zip codes with others of the type). While there are not a lot of characteristics that specifically distinguish us, this quote says something that resonates:

Perhaps, Professor Tucker suggests, harbingers are simply on a different wavelength from the rest of us. "I think what we’re picking up on is that there are just some people who, for whatever reason, have consistently nonmajority tastes," she says, noting that in addition to buying short-lived products, harbingers buy a lot of niche items. "They like that odd house. That political candidate everyone else finds off-putting. They like Watermelon Oreos."

Now, the mere idea of Watermelon Oreos makes my skin crawl, and I'm still wearing white shirts for work that I bought in 2005 (and yes, I have a way of checking), but I will plead guilty to the niche items... like those Gevenalle shifters I like that I've never seen on any other bike.

Those poor guys at Gevenalle are doomed.

instead of sleeping...

A not-untypical view of my messy desk.

For reasons we're not gonna go into here, I installed a new router yesterday , and when I went to bed, everything was working fine. When I got up in the middle of the night to check something, the wired-network desktop computer couldn't get to the internet.

Oh, damn. What's wrong with the router?

Reboot the router. Problem persists.

Reboot the wired-in computer. Problem persists.

OK, all the devices connected by wifi are fine. Take another computer, disable the wifi, connect it via cable: works fine. So it's probably not the router.

Go back to the wired-in computer. Internet still doesn't work, so let's see if we can communicate with the router over the web-based interface.

That comes in fine. So the computer can see the router, it just can't see through the router to get to the internet.

That means that the network card in the computer is probably OK. Just because it's an easy fix, I try swapping out some cables. Problem persists. (Yeah, that probably wasn't gonna work anyway...)

Hook up the computer directly to the modem, leaving out the router. Computer still can't get to the internet, but it CAN communicate with the modem over the modem's web interface.

All right, now you're just tryin' to piss me off. You're doin' a pretty good job of it, too.

I've got a utility on the wired computer that makes a snapshot of the system files every week (it's called TimeShift), so you can roll back to a time when stuff was all working. So I go back to my last saved snapshot and install that. (Hrmph. The reset only took about two or three minutes; not as long as I'd feared.)

Reboot the computer: everything's working. Reinstall the updates that had come in during the past week (Drat! Three browsers; it's a LOTTA megabytes that we gotta get); everything's still working. Reboot after the updates; still working.

What a pain. Just a coincidence (probably) that it happened at the same time as the new router... and the detective work saved me sending the router back, getting a replacement, and having the same problem.(Although before I did that, I probably would have replaced the older router, seen that the problem persisted, and continued detective work... but I can't guarantee that, either.)

I feel both smart (for having fixed the problem) and dumb (for having planned to send back the faultless router.

Oh, well. Bike ride in a few hours. That'll help.