Sunday, October 30, 2011

finishing the winter maintenance

Snow, snow, snow on the ground today, and 34F when the sun rose. Ain't no road-ridin' goin' on today, so I figured I'd use the day to finish the road bike rebuild.

Take off the wheels, take out the brake shoes, put in the new ones. They don't go in easily, and the brake shoes will need to be readjusted where they hit the wheels. Early on, it was too cold to open the garage door, and I just couldn't get the front set correctly. When it warmed up, and I opened the garage door and wheeled the bike over to work in the sunlight, the adjustment was easy. Sometimes, the difference between a job you can't figure out and an easy job is just getting enough light on the subject.

Take all the cables off, take all the housing off (but save 'em to measure the new pieces). This time, I remembered to re-set all of the barrel adjusters before I cabled up again! Also, I replaced that under-the-bottom-bracket cable guide; the old one didn't quite fit right, and the bracket had a mark where the cable contacted it. I don't know if it would ever cut through, but the guide is, like, a $2 part, so it's a good idea to put on a new one.

I also readjusted the height of the shifter controls (moved them a bit higher). It's a bit more comfortable now, although my default position is about 3/4" less "aero".

Took off the stem, took out the headset bearings and re-greased everything, then replaced the whole stem-headtube-handlebar assembly. I thought there would be rust inside to attend to (there was last time), but I didn't see any (good!).

Now all the cabling is back on. The front derailleur has already needed an adjustment, and will probably need another by mid-week. But the shifting and brakes are all smooth and working for now. Last thing is to tape up the cabling to the handlebars (my brake and derailleur cables are both routed along the bars) and re-wrap the bars. I put black tape and cable housing on the brushed-titanium-grey frame, so one of the big decisions is what color tape to finish the handlebars with. This incarnation is blue and green. That tape, and the bandanna I hang from the seat bag, are about the only spots of color on the bike.

Later this week, I'll plan to adjust the cables, and go over all of the bolts with a torque wrench. But other than that, this bike is ready for another year.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

snowy day in central jersey

Good heavens. It's not even November first, and we've got three-four inches of snow, traffic tie-ups, tree branches down, power outages, and who-knows-what-all.

So what do The Excellent Wife and I decide to do? Of course! We're going to drive the fifteen-miles-or-so to Princeton University, where there's a show of Hogarth prints at the Firestone Library with the wonderful name of Sin & the City.

And to make the trip just that much more wonderful, we'll drop in at the University Art Museum to see the John Singer Sargent An Interior In Venice that's on loan.

After that, we'll go to a romantic, secluded hideaway for dinner - how about Whole Foods? (We were thinking about going back to Conte's for pizza, but your correspondent is feeling fat, and the scale is agreeing with him these days.)

On the way back, we got behind drivers going 12 miles per hour in the snow, and then had another driver follow us into our condo association so he could yell at me about how he disliked my driving. I couldn't hear him through the closed window, and I still don't know what I did, but I hope he feels better.

(My coworker had no end of laughs about our last date to the Whole Foods for a bone scan, then Conte's. I can only imagine what she'll say about going out in the treacherous snow to see Hogarth and Sargent, then dinner at an upscale grocery store.)

off-season bike maintenance

One of the requirements of the Anchor House Ride is that riders must turn in a mechanics checklist proving that someone has looked at the bike and made sure it's equal to the rigors of the ride (there's no such requirement of the riders). While I object to having to have someone else oversee my bike (it's a point of pride with me that I wrench my own ride), it turns out that the checklist is a good one for keeping up with maintenance. In the season when there's not much riding (such as today, when cold weather is comin' on, and it's raining fairly sternly - and there's a chance of show tonight), I plan to break the bike down to parts and do all the maintenance and upkeep that will keep it rolling during the year.

So today, I began. The tasks I took on today were pedals, cranks, and bottom bracket (the dingus in the frame that spins when you turn the pedals and cranks); the rear dérailleur ; and the saddle and post. Here's what I did and what I learned:
  • The torque specification on the bottom bracket is fussy: too tight, and you can ruin the bracket (cheap) and/or the frame (NOT cheap), too loose and you get the most annoying clicking when you pedal (don't ask how I learned that). My torque wrench only registers in one direction... but I learned (when looking for something else) that the torque wrench can be disassembed and reassembled to register the other way. This is important because one side of most bottom brackets has reverse threads. My torque wrench is now marked so I know which way the torque registers.
I disassembled the cranks, took out the bottom bracket and looked inside. Some bottom brackets collect water and road mung, but this one was remarkably clean. I re-greased (black engine grease; see below) and re-assembled.
The rear dérailleur has two little follow-wheels around which the chain goes; they were filthy with grease and road junk. I cleaned them off, and then made almost every mistake one can make reassembling:
  • There's an upper and a lower wheel. They have different-sized bolts for axles (which is obvious) and different sized washer bearings (which is not). The larger-holed washers will fit on the smaller bolt; the opposite is not true.
  • The lower wheel has a directional marking, and it's not intuitive which way it goes;
  • Nor is the chain routing intuitive. Luckily, the correction only requires removing the two axle bolts.
  • Disassembling and reassembling the dérailleur affects the cable adjustment.
The key issue with the saddle is the seatpost. My bike's frame is titanium, which has a property of galling - sticking to itself or other metals under high friction, such as when tightening a bolt into a thread, or tightening a seatpost into a titanium seat tube. The best way, apparently, to avoid this is by the use of Ti-Prep (I've seen it referred to in industries other than bicycle manufacture as the best stuff for avoiding titanium galling). So the real purpose for this disassemble is to make sure that the seatpost still loosens. While I was there, I made sure the saddle was still at the correct height, and I greased all the bolts. (Greasing bolts is common in bicycle assembly, and there are a number of favorite concoctions to use. I use white grease most of the time, and beeswax when the bolt or screw in question will be somewhat loose, but should not move, such as a limit screw on a dérailleur.)
In the near future, I plan to do the following:
  • Put on new brake shoes, and adjust the toe-in and fit of the brakes;
  • Disassemble the headset/fork/handlebar assembly, and re-grease the bearings;
  • Move the brake-shifter controls a little higher on the handlebars;
  • Install a new cable guide under the bottom bracket.
All these things will affect the cables, so I'll wait until I'm ready to replace them, as well. Cable replacement usually requires additional adjustment(s) one to three days after the installation due to "cable stretch" (which is really housing shrinkage - that cable is steel; do you really think it will stretch under the pressures of bike brakes and derailleurs?), so I'll hold off until I don't plan to ride for a few days to do that. (However, I do the maintenance in the unheated garage. It stays above freezing in there... but sometimes not by much. So there's an incentive to do this stuff before there are icicles hangin' from the eaves.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

golden parachutes, silver spoons

Propaganda posters for the 1%. Originals at Visual News.

I hope we have the resolve to see this through.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I got a call this evening from my father. He's been told he has leukemia. He's scared.

I called my sister after the parents had had a chance to call her. By the time we spoke, she had called another family member who's a doctor; he said it might just be anemia. I suppose it's possible; Dad is supposed to go in for a transfusion on Monday, which sounds like a response to anemia.

Neither my sister nor I were as emotionally rocked by the news as we expected to be, and neither of us can understand why. We've promised to keep in touch with each other. I'm not good at that; I hope I can do it.

Dad will not go to the funeral next week; mother may not be able to. I'll go anyway; it's come to mean a lot to my mother that I go.

I'm hoping for good news. I'm expecting to be disappointed.

never thought of it this way until now

From Imgur via Oursignal, which means, of course, that I have no idea of the source.

more on copyright

In an earlier post, I brought up my disagreement with my father (an author) about copyright. C. G. P. Grey makes my argument more clearly than I can:

See more of his videos here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

after a recent death in the family

My mother’s sister, five years older than she, died yesterday.

Her memorial service will be scheduled in the next few weeks, and it may conflict with a birthday celebration the excellent wife is planning for herself. It’s a birthday-with-a-zero-at-the-end, so it has some import, but the number is higher than she likes to admit, so there’s some weirdness about the celebration (Edit 10/28/11: The excellent wife has informed me that her reluctance to have a large celebration for the occasion has solely to do with the amount of preparation & work involved, and not any feelings about age. I stand corrected.). The memorial service will take place several hundred miles away from Central Jersey, thus, it will be a major commitment in time to go. My wife and I had a disagreement last night about whether I should attend the memorial service if it’s on her birthday weekend. There are a number of factors to consider:

  • I was never this aunt’s favorite person, nor was she mine. She tolerated my presence at family gatherings, but it seemed clear that there was a direct proportion between the quality of her life and my absence from it.
  • My relationship with my own family of origin is not the stuff of 50’s sitcoms, either. We can be mannered, and even entertain one another, but there are long memories on both sides of damages done. Further, I have made reference to my psychological instabilities on this blog; I have not told my family of their intensity. My in-laws, on the other hand, have always appeared glad to see me, and it’s always easier for me to be with them (one factor is that they are a 45-minute-drive away, rather than the twelve-hour-drive to Dixie where my parents are now). As a result, there was a nickel’s worth of truth in my mother’s mouth when, years ago, she said, “I guess you have a new family now”.
  • I missed the wedding of the daughter of a cousin when I did the Anchor House ride over the summer. I don’t think I’ve ever met the daughter, and I’ve not seen the cousin in decades. My mother was disappointed that I did not show up, and said that that was probably the last time the family would get together for a happy occasion; the implication being that the funerals would be starting after that. This memorial is the next occasion.
  • I’ve long had a problem about being a disappointment to my parents. They say every time we speak on the phone that they are proud of me and that they are glad when I call. But they need to say it, because I don’t feel it. I will probably never know whether there was a real cause to this feeling of disappointment or not. I don’t want to disappoint my mother by not showing up.
  • My parents are, of course, old enough to be my parents, and I’m pushing 60. My father has recently had an ailment that should have cleared up by now, and it hasn’t.
I don’t know what I’m going to do. Of course, if the memorial doesn’t interfere with the birthday, all of this angst will be for nothing. That doesn’t mean I can stop doing it.

Edit 10/26/11: The memorial will not conflict with the excellent wife's birthday do. I'm firming up my plans to go, which will depend on when I can get off from work.

cover of a cover of a song


(original here)

is a cover of this:

I like the upper one better. I stumbled on it this morning, and liked it enough to find the other. The duo apparently go by the name of "Lulu and the Lampshades", and they only use their Facebook page; I'm closing mine now, so I won't link to Facebook for the next two weeks, at least, so the account deletion will go through (TMI?). The Lulu's remind me of Garfunkel and Oates, another female alt-music duet with a lighter- and darker-colored member, although that appears to be the only thing they have in common.

The videos are evidently both covers of a Mainer's Mountaineers song that I don't have time to try to find right now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

weekend of oct 22-23, 2011

Here's another one of those "weekend roundup" posts that I seem to be doing recently.

Yesterday was a 45-mile ride through the hills, led by Laura, Our Lady of Perpetual Headwinds. It was, of course, a beautiful ride, given the day, the time of year, and the places Laura chooses to ride; she had a friend along who's a recent transplant from The Left Coast (his wife's in a doctoral program in, I think, Columbia), and so we were showing off a number of the crystal sights to which we get to ride.

At the break, Laura referred to me as an "A-rider with a B attitude" (for the uninitiated, rides are classified by letter; A rides are hard and fast, B rides are more relaxed and conversational; D rides are for those who can barely stay upright on two wheels). She bases this, I think, on my practice of not pushing the pace faster than people want to go (even though I'm usually one of the fastest riders in the groups with whom I ride), on not dropping slower riders, and on looking out for the people in the back of the ride to make sure they aren't overstressed or having mechanical (or other) problems (a practice known as "sweeping" on group rides; I do it frequently, unasked, and I'm good at it). I think she gives me too much credit:
  • First, I'm definitely not an A rider. I'm pretty sure I'm a B+ rider, but I've been dropped by enough faster people to know my limits.
  • Second, while I do try to keep friendly when I ride, part of the reason I ride with the people I do is that I don't want to be in competition with other riders all the time. That's not because I'm not competitive. It's because I'm so competitive that I can't bear to be outdone. I'd rather ride more slowly overall, but go sprinting up hills and wait at the top (Hrmph! I make sure people know that I'm fast!) than ride with people who are more in my class, and be pressed to my limits more of the time.
  • As for sweeping - it's a way to take on a leadership position without actually having to lead a ride (which I can't do, since I don't know the roads). A case can be made that even the sweeping is feeding my ego.
So while I'm grateful for her good wishes (and hope to maintain them), and while there may be some good that comes out of the way I ride, I'm sure that my motives are not all the purest!

Today's ride was south & east (mostly in the flats) out of Cranbury. At the start, another rider asked if I were the author of this blog - so now, apparently, I have four readers! I suspect he got here from Laura's blog; she's linked here. The monthly ride list of the Princeton Freewheelers lists a number of blogs and sites that are bicycle-related, and I've thought of submitting this one, but I haven't. It's true that a plurality of the verbiage I generate for this blog is bike-related. But it's also true that I spill a lot of metaphoric ink about such topics as:

  1. Left-wing politics;
  2. My relationship with the excellent wife, our dates, some of our disagreements, and other stuff;
  3. Various things I find entertaining or intriguing; and
  4. My barely-successful attempts to manage and compensate for my anxiety disorder and other psychological vulnerabilities.
Before I list this blog with the Freewheelers, I'd have to do a disclaimer page, and I don't think I have either the legal knowledge or the coding skills. And by the way - yes, two lovely autumn rides in two days and no photos. I don't do photos. You wanna see the lovely stuff? Come out and ride with us. I won't drop you; I don't drop anybody.

Edit: I don't drop anybody anymore; see the comments for my recent experience over this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

never wish away distance. never wish away time.

By the time I put up the bike for the winter, I'll have done about 4,000 miles this year. Bruce Webber, a reporter for the New York Times (and a guy of about my age), either has just completed, or is just about to complete, a ride of similar length, but more romance: a 4,100-mile ride across America, reprising a trip he had done 18 years ago. From the linked article:

Unlike my last trip, which I viewed, somewhat contradictorily, as both a young man’s errand and a farewell to youth, this one, at age 57, has been about my encroaching mortality, no doubt about it, and when I compare the two journeys I recognize in the current one the frailty of age. I’m slower. I’m less eager to ride long days and long hours and ride with the sun going down. I’m much more concerned about finding a place to stay and knowing early in the day where I’ll be spending the night.

His experience is not mine. In the past three years, I've gotten into the best shape I've ever been in my life. I was a cowardly young man, not given to adventure, and I'm not given to adventure now, although when my excellent wife drags me on a trip, I invariably have a good time.

His story, though, is stirring, and he speaks about giving time to the experience:

This time, while I won’t say that I won’t be ready for the trip to end when it does, I’m feeling the different pleasures of delayed gratification.

I’m feeling the pleasures of contrariness, too. Why is everyone trying to rush me?

People have been telling me that the tough part of my cross-country bicycle journey was behind me, or that I was almost finished, or that the rest would be easy — or some related sentiment — ever since I crossed the Continental Divide, and several friends and readers wrote to express the absurdly wrong idea that it was going to be all downhill from there. When I reached the Mississippi River at its source in northern Minnesota, a grocery clerk made sure to inform me that I was closer to the finish than the start. In Minneapolis, in Madison, Wis., and again in Chicago, the friends I met up with offered congratulations as if I were already taking a victory lap.

I was taken with his article. Go check it out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

the best compliment

While on the way back from Rutt's Hut after celebrating his birthday with us and his 20- and 24-year-old brothers, my newly 16-year-old nephew called my excellent wife and me, "the coolest un-cool people."

It's the best compliment I've gotten all year. I am giddy with pride and gratitude.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

robin hood tax

The Robin Hood Tax will collect a small part of financial-institution-to-financial-institution transactions (such as that bundling and sale of mortgages that led to the 2008 financial collapse). These are huge transactions, and there are a huge number of 'em, so a small part of them is still a big number. They are assessed against corporate "persons", rather than flesh and blood ones. It's an idea I like a lot.

It's a UK idea for now; here's a quote from their site:

In a nutshell, the big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate billions of pounds – hopefully even hundreds of billions of pounds. That money will fight poverty in the UK and overseas. It will tackle climate change. And it will come from fairer taxation of the financial sector.

I don't support just giving cash to emerging nations; I can't find it now, but there is evidence that they do better with assistance with business opportunities than simple cash donations. But that's a quibble; the allocation of the funds received should not block the adoption of this great idea to raise funds for the common good.

Check 'em out.

(Whenever I see Bill Nighy, I think of him as that over-the-top aging rocker in Love Actually. It was a little jarring to see him in a dark suit.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

not much. you?

Slow weekend. Windy both days. Saturday I did the ride to Princeton Friends Meeting; about 15 miles. There's a big hill crest between here & Princeton, and a couple smaller ones, so doing it on the commuter bike is a bit of a challenge, and on Saturday there was a headwind all the way down; it took about 55 minutes to get there, and only a little over 40 to get back. If I'm going to ride to Meeting, I need to leave a bit over an hour to get there and settled. (And @ cute chick on the road bike, I'm sorry if I startled you when I passed, but my ego got in the way - you were on a road bike and in full riding kit, and I was in jeans & tee-shirt, and I just couldn't wait behind you anymore. "Hold your line" means keep riding straight, and "On your left" means that's where I'm gonna pass you. Don't give up riding - that was apparently a new setup you were on - and maybe you want to come out with the Freewheelers to get some companions and learn how to ride.)

Later, the excellent wife and I were going to go out to the Princeton Museum of Art to check out a Sargent that's on loan, but she went out to work a bit of overtime, and came home complaining of tiredness, so we went to Whole Foods (where they were having a free bone-density test - hers are in good shape), and then to Conte's Pizza. There are worse things to do.

Sunday, I went out with the Freewheelers. Larry G leads rides October through March when the weather cooperates (he limits to those months on the unassailable reasoning that other leaders all lead in the better weather). About 45 miles, to which I added about 10-11 by stopping for breakfast and riding in from there. Windy again, and the last bit of the ride, the four miles from the end point to the lot where I had parked, was directly into the wind, with open fields on either side of the road. There was nothing for it but to lean into the wind, put my head down, and pedal, pedal, pedal. A nap in the afternoon, and ensuing insomnia last night. Hrmph.

Today I'm off, and tired. I have a dentist appointment this afternoon; before that I expect to do some financial stuff (that I can't do online: gotta deposit a check at the bank and go to town to pay the property tax). I may bike for some of it, but excellent wife said rain earlier (despite the prediction), so... OTOH, that's why I put the fenders on the commuter bike. I'm also getting the tasties for some junk food; my favorite Dunkin' Donuts no longer has the apple fritter (neither, apparently, do any of the other ones, although when I could find 'em, they were best at my local DD), and I'm feelin' the loss. (If pornography is that which has no redeeming social value and appeals solely to the prurient interest, then that apple fritter is pornographic food; the apple jelly is in there, I'm sure, just to keep the deep-fried sugar and white flour company.)

So. Whaddya know?

Friday, October 14, 2011

ezra jennings on the 53%

Jennings said, "So now the righties are saying that they aren't the Tea Party, who are the "radical right", nor the 99% that the "Occupy Wall Street" people claim. Instead, they want to be the 53%.

Hrmph. What are they? They are people who have drunk the Kool-Aid along with their tea."

random early-morning bicycle thoughts

Some random bike thoughts:
  1. An accusation has been made against our military that they are always preparing for the last war rather than foreseeing the problems that will arise in the next one. There's only a nickel's worth of truth in this: the military does work hard to anticipate the problems of the new, but human nature, and political reality, mean that the issues of the past will get too much attention. I've got a "solving the problem of last time" thing, myself, as well. The most recent manifestation has to do with bike shoes. Several months ago, I got caught in the rain, and it took a few days for my shoes to dry. Since then, even though I've never been caught in the rain since (nor had I before), I visit bike vendor websites and look at bike shoes for a second pair. Yeah, it would be a good idea, but I have more important stuff to spend money on.
  2. As I've said in this blog, I don't love the Selle An-Atomica saddle I'm using: it was too expensive, the company won't allow discount sales, it required a lot of modification before I could rely on it. But it works now; I don't usually notice it when I'm riding (which is exactly what you want in a bike saddle). Further, the leather has been treated to be weather-resistant. Still, I've cast an eye on the Brooks B17 Imperial. It's NOT weather-resistant, I don't know how it will feel when I sit on it, and I don't need a new saddle. Nonetheless, I've been looking at that web page as if it were porn. Sigh.
  3. I won't have time for a group ride this Saturday; I have a hot date at the Princeton Museum and then Conte's Pizza with the excellent wife. Instead, I'm planning a ride on the city bike to Princeton Quaker Meeting, to see if riding will be a sensible way of getting there (I might go a bit more frequently if I didn't feel like I was getting cheated out of a ride by going - and the Quakes are among the few religious bodies that won't get all twitchy when an atheist shows up). I'll probably have to add a few miles to make the trip worthwhile. I'll plan to do a group ride Sunday. The excellent wife is working a second job both days; I should probably feel guilty that she's working & I'm not, but I don't.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

city bike

So in an effort to dispel the gloomy bits of the long weekend, I'm posting about my commuter bike project (even though I won't be commuting on it). A few years ago, I bought a hybrid bike: half mountain bike, half upright cruiser, and none of the best parts of either; it was an idea that was good in theory but didn't work out. Below are a couple of pictures of the model, a Giant Cypress, but mine is blue and white:

Here's another:

Aluminum frame, suspended fork and seatpost (which makes setting the height difficult, because the seatpost settles after a while), basic bike. Cheap crank/gearset in front; the front gears (chainrings) are not individually replaceable, and I fixed an alignment problem with a hammer and pliers. It was not a bike I could love.

I found I kept fooling around with the handlebar height, making it lower and lower. I finally decided that what it really needed was drop bars: those underslung handlebars common on racing bikes. That meant I had to change the shifters and brake controls, too. I didn't want to pop out the money for integrated brake/shifters, as are common on most high-end bikes, and the frame wasn't drilled for downtube shifters, so I went for these bar-end shifters from Velo Orange. The brakes needed these long-pull V-brake levers from Rivendell (they may be available elsewhere, but Rivendell and Velo Orange specialize in this cool, retro, hard-to-find stuff). For the bars, I went with a Nitto classic drop bar. Nitto is a name to reckon with in the bike world, and, after installing this bar, I can see why; it's beautiful, and quality.

I've built it up with a more relaxed riding position than the road bike (it took some doing; I couldn't get the measurements right). I've been out on it a number of times, and it rides well: not near as zippy as the road bike, but not as far from it as I would have thought. I ride it in my civilian clothes, though, and after going through a few puddles on a dry day, I got as wet as I would walking through a light rain.

So yesterday I installed fenders. The SKS fenders from Rivendell are available in silver color (although the fenders themselves are plastic) and fit a number of wheel & tire sizes... which means that the fenders have to be "tuned" to the bike. Installation takes a bit of patience, and it's more of an art than a science. They set up attractively, though, and there's no mechanical interference with wheel rotation, braking, steering, or shifting. I was afraid the bike might look silly, but I don't think it does. I'll post a picture when I get my act together to do so. The bike may have sprouted a rack by then - you never know - but I like this bike way better now than when I bought it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

probably too much

Three-day weekend (with Monday off for Columbus Day), and the excellent wife had a few daytime plans that didn't include me, so I got to bicycle all three days. Our Lady of Perpetual Headwinds wanted to do a 62-mile (100 km "metric century") including some hills and stop in Oldwick & Califon, but didn't get a lot of takers, because the next day was scheduled the Central Bucks Bike Club Covered Bridge Ride, with a choice of rides through a number of covered bridges in Bucks County, PA (as well as Sergeantsville, NJ), and yet more hills. There was no better offer in the ride book, so yours truly kept whining, and Our Lady Laura came up with a couple of occasional Hill Slugs to accompany, and of we went on Saturday morning. It was the most beautiful ride I've done this year, and had enough hills so I could show off on the ascents, and some frightening descents to remind me of humility and my tiny place in the universe. I'm sure she's got, or will soon have, pictures on her own blog; you can check at the link on her name above.

So the next day is the Covered Bridge ride, and I really went with the intention of riding 33 miles and going home. But I ran into Laura, and Joe, another Hill Slug (whom I'd dropped on a ride a few weeks earlier; the guilt has not yet dissipated), and they were doing the 100K ride. Oh, well... so I did my second hilly, 62-mile ride in as many days. Another beautiful ride. Along came one of Joe's friends, who is recovering from a lung ailment from several months ago. He was not quick on the hills, but I am NOT.DROPPING.ANYBODY... and he had a delightful sense of humor, a mellifluous accent (from which part of England?), although he was tiring at the end (the accent was intact, but his humor appeared to flag). I didn't pre-register, so I didn't get the shirt, but it was a nice one, and I'll try to get next year's.

Just because I could, I did the Old Guys ride today, and it was probably too much. Only 30 flat miles, but I was sweeping (riding in the back, keeping track of straggling riders and upcoming traffic, as I usually do). At one point, a huge pickup was coming from behind. I called "Car Back!", in my mellifluous, classically-trained tones, and some of the riders moved, and others didn't. The pickup tried to pass... but there was oncoming traffic, and it couldn't. When the pickup pulled in again behind me, he was apparently angry, and rode very close. For a long time. For over a mile, I'm sure, my mirror was full of that pickup's grille. I got edgy, and my temper was short; I tried to let it go, and thought I was successful... until we crossed Route 33 (a fairly main local road), and I swore - loudly - at the car trying to turn left in front after the signal had changed. It wasn't my legs that gave out, or my wind; it was my temper. Now I know of what to be careful when I'm overtired from riding.

I won't get back to the old guys for at least two weeks, and (as the weather goes) it may be the holiday party before I see them again; I may not ride with them again until spring. I hope they've forgotten by the time I see them again. And I hope I haven't forgotten when I do see them again.

ezra jennings on occupy wall street

Jennings said, "So Mitt Romney thanks that "Occupy Wall Street' is dangerous and class warfare? Well... duh."

Friday, October 7, 2011

asking the indulgence of the universe

Schizophrenics hear voices, and don’t know where they come from. I hear an internal monologue, but I know it’s me telling me about myself and my experiences.

Schizophrenics’ voices are often demeaning, insulting, denigrating. My interior monologue gets that way, too, sometimes.

People with chronic mental illnesses have “good” periods and “bad” periods. I can tell I’m getting onto a bad period when I start voicing my responses to my interior monologue. People start asking me what I just said (I don’t always remember), or tell me I’m talking to myself again.

I’m sure it will pass, but I can tell that I’m having a mini-bad period. When it’s a real bad time, it’s really bad; those are the times I go for help. I don’t think I need help now, but it’s not very pleasant.

But I think I’m unusually crazy (just a bit). I ask for some indulgence from my friends, my coworkers, and the universe. I should be back to my usual, boring, too-talkative self in a week or so.

(Back when I was in early recovery from my alcohol/drug use, I thought these periods were about adjusting to real life. But I haven't used in almost 30 years, so, apparently, this is one of those things I'm going to have to live with. It feels like I have more of these episodes than I once did, but that may be just my perception.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

cat poem

I've heard from two people recently who are checking in on this blog - which means I've gotta be careful; people are actually looking at it! It also means I feel a certain responsibility for regular updates... and nothing exciting is coming to mind. So I'm pulling out an item from my old bag of tricks.

One of the new followers is a cat person. I'm not; I don't dislike them, but there's something just the littlest bit off-putting about cats. (And the excellent wife is allergic.)

Ages ago, I found the graphic below. I was taken by the image-forming of the poem (like George Herbert's Easter Wings), and by the density of the rhymes and assonances in the poem (hey, it's by the same Tolkien who brought us the Middle-Earth novels; it's a safe bet he knows what he's doing when it comes to language), but I also like the little frisson of unease in the sentiment - "...he does not forget."

I don't remember where I got it. But it's way cool.

Monday, October 3, 2011

... and boy, are my arms tired

Saturday, I did 40 miles on the bicycle; yesterday I did the Pumpkin Patch Pedal 100-mile ride. Today I was off (had to move a usually-every-other-Wednesday-off; don't ask), and did 40 miles with the old guys at a slow, but steady pace. So 180 miles in the last three days. My legs are tired.

I am reminded of that hoary old one-liner: "I just flew in from (insert city name here), and boy, are my arms tired."

I'm planning to eschew my daily exercise routine tomorrow. When I told my excellent wife, she first felt my forehead to see if I were feverish... then she told me she was glad that I was showing some sign of sense. If that's the only sign of sense I've shown her recently, I'm crazier than I thought I was.

There is some evidence, of course, that I really am crazier than I thought I was. Ahem.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

... and all I got ...

A delegation of three riders from the Hill Slugs did the Staten Island Bicycling Association Pumpkin Patch Pedal century (100-mile) ride today, despite threatening weather, cool temps, and the wimping out of a number of strong riders. We turned in a not-shabby-for-us time of a smidge over six hours, at an average speed of 16.4 mph.

They do a good job for a ride of this type: good markings on the roads; good rest stops with food, drink, and toilets (the importance of this last is not diminishing as I age, I assure you); cheerful volunteers (who, I'm sure, would rather be riding). The ride leaves from Thompson Park in Jamesburg, NJ, almost in my back yard (and not at all in the SIBA's territory). And I always have a good time among the Hill Slugs, even with their shifting "membership" and attendance.

Two complaints. The first is minor, although, since I can get lost on my bike in a large dining room, it's an issue for me: at one point, the cue sheet did not match the roads (perhaps to be expected when a bike club sets a ride on roads so far from their home), and, after that, the cue sheet was .4 of a mile short: two of us did a circuit of the park to be sure our odometers showed the full 100 miles.

The second is somewhat larger. The Pumpkin Patch Pedal is known for two, non-ride-related items: pie at the last rest stop, and the long-sleeved t-shirt given to participants who pre-pay. The pie was in place, and good, as I expected (although with 80 miles under my belt at the time of the third rest stop, I might not have been the most discerning of judges). The t-shirt, though...

I heard it described as a rider giving birth to a pumpkin, and I suppose that's one interpretation. I must admit that my thought was that it was a depiction of an activity engaged in earlier in the reproductive process. In either case, the careful eye will note that there are no spokes in the way on the lower part of the wheel which might interfere with access between the cyclist on one side of the wheel, and the pumpkin on the other:

Photo credit: Our Lady of Perpetual Headwinds.

Edit 10/24/11: It's only now that I realized that I left out an important part of the day. Part of the reason our time was so good was that we got to chasing some riders who dropped a smaller group of us, and, as a result, we dropped two riders, for one of whom the day probably had special meaning. That sucked. I'm not doing that again. Edit 10/25: No, that was the McBride Ride. See the "Out of the Loop" post from 9/14.