Wednesday, May 30, 2012

memorial day all-paces ride

This one will be short due to internet/computer problems, but I wanted to get up the route for the Memorial Day route Winter Larry led for the All-Paces ride. I didn't think the route would be long enough, so I rode in to the start location at Mercer Park from Bagel Street in Plainsboro, then rode around the park for a while... and wound up with 70 miles for the day. Whew!

And I did get in a bit of sprinting with Ron, Dave H, Jackie, et alia just prior to the break, so some of my "need for speed" has been satisfied. And me sweep services were also in order: four people got left behind at the stop, and another had an altercation with a bee on the way back.

Some don't like the All-Paces rides; the groups are big and unwieldy. I like 'em, though; I get to meet folks... and if EVER sweep services are needed, they are on these rides.

Monday, May 28, 2012

on the roof's the only place i know...

bike club has a velodrome in the roof

The excellent Dave C has sent me this link to an article about this bicycle club planned in China, with a velodrome on the roof.

From the article:
Asked to come up with a design for a bicycle club to be built in a large resort somewhere in Southern China, NL Architects have arguably gone one better, proposing to site a fully functional velodrome on the roof. Sitting on top of a bike rental shop and a cafe, if built it will be perfectly possible for people to hire a bicycle and ride it for a few hours without ever leaving the building.

The Netherlands-based designers compare their concept with a traditional pagoda, with the steeply banked bends of the bicycle track forming upward-curving eaves from the point of view of outside observers. NL Architects also claims the high, protruding roof could be "very welcome" in South China's tropical climes, presumably for the shade casts in the immediate exterior.

I think it's a great idea.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

rain, a date, a short ride

Rain kept me in from a group ride today (although Laura OLPH went on the ride I had planned; they were 31 miles along when the rain started, and they got back to Etra six soggy miles later), so I went with The Excellent Wife (TEW) to Quaker Meeting, and then to see Pirates: Band of Misfits, which was intelligent, silly, and genuinely funny. TEW was delighted not to be a bike widow for a day (which I had threatened; sometime over the summer we are going away to Florida for over a week, with no riding, and I was exceptionally cranky upon seeing the precipitation this morning), and to be going on a genuine date! Even in my cranky state, I could barely keep from glowing over her gladness to be around me. I undoubtedly married well; I'm not sure she can say the same.

After we got back, we called my mother, who is newly moved into a senior residence near my sister (in Buffalo, NY). Mother appears to be making the best of it; I feel like she's putting a brave face on widowhood and separation from all her friends and the life she loved in Asheville, NC. But she was scared to death of all the responsibility that fell on her when my father died, and this may be the best way for her. My sister has been seeing her every weekend, and sister and her husband have been helping mother to get settled. I am undoubtedly grateful that they have taken that responsibility. I'm sure that mother chose to move to Buffalo rather than around here, knowing that my sister would be more welcoming than I. How sharper than a serpent's tooth, Bill Shakespeare has Lear say, is an ungrateful child, but it is nonetheless true that my patience would have worn thin even before this.

Took the commuter bike out for a short ten miles (I was going to say a quick ten miles, but quickness is not the commuter's virtue). I was dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and Reeboks, and in the mugginess of the afternoon it was too much clothing. Still, I'm getting to like riding the commuter bike more. Partly, it's that it's a bike I can ride in civilian clothes, and partly it's the non-indexed bar-end shifters; I don't shift as frequently as I do on the Yellow Maserati, and also the shifting on the commuter bike takes some skill that I'm barely developing. It may be that the indexed shifting with which I'm familiar also takes skill, which I've already developed to the point I don't notice it.

I don't have a good car metaphor to describe my current feelings for the commuter bike the way the phrase "Yellow Maserati" describes the Yellow Maserati. The commuter bike is part Model T, in that it's old technology with the bar-end shifters; part hot rod, in that it's partly made of the cheap hybrid that I started with. But it also has that elegant Nitto handlebar. The Yellow Maserati is jealous, and has been clamoring for a Nitto Noodle, or perhaps that Grand Cru Course Bar I alluded to a few posts ago. And there's a certain "minivan aspect" to the commuter bike, with the fenders, suspension fork and seatpost, and rear rack; these make it more utile, but detract from the amount of jazz, pizazz, and razz-ma-tazz it delivers. And I could sure use some of that; I'm as white-bread as they come. (The suspended seatpost is better in the abstract than in the concrete; it settles after it's been sat on for a while, meaning the saddle-to-pedal distance gets shorter. Pedalling isn't as efficient.)

Tomorrow is the Princeton Freewheelers' Memorial Day All-Paces ride. It will undoubtedly be shorter than I want, so I'll probalby find a place to ride in from (the ride starts a Mercer County Park East; maybe I'll get a quick bite at Bagel Street Grill and ride in from there.

Here's hoping for decent weather. Maybe I'll see you... or, if you're reading this later, maybe I already did.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

star-spangled sourlands ride

After a night of not much sleep (got up before 3am when it was clear that I was just getting more and more irritated about not being able to sleep), I went out today with eight others on Cheryl M's Star-Spangled Sourlands Ride. We were a group of varying abilities (and attitudes), and Cheryl threatened 50 miles with about 3000 feet of climb, but said that we'd have an opportunity to cut it to about 40 miles if we chose. There was a debate about whether we woudl go with the majority choice, or whether a minority with a pressing inability to complete the full ride might carry the day...

... so off we went. We went up Poor Farm ( a hill of some reputation) and turned onto Harbouton-Woodsville Road, with a terrible road surface; the places where the new surface had not stuck at all were actually a relief, and I, for one, rode the brakes on all the downhills on that road. I was glad to get off it when we turned*. Most of the roads after that had better surfaces (including Pennington-Rocky Hill, at the end, which I remember as up until a few weeks ago having a two-foot-wide rough spot for miles; it's newly-done now, though). Harbourton-Woodsville was also closed on the other side of 579, but the 20-feet-or-so of missing pavement, and the not-quite-waist-high barrier fence didn't keep us from getting through.

Humid day, and got hot later (although it was a visually beautiful ride). Some were saying the humidity was lower later in the day, but it didn't feel that way to me, perhaps because I was tired. Along the way, another rider appeared to have gotten something into his eye, which he couldn't get out. I stopped with him for a while, and when he was ready to go, the rest of our number were not to be found; we didn't catch them until the rest stop at Sergeantsville.

Also at Sergeantsville were perhaps a dozen-or-so riders training for the Anchor House ride, including Glen, who's come out with the Hill Slugs. I got the impression it was to be his first Anchor House ride, and I suggested he meet people and connect, which I did not do on my first one last summer. That lack, I think, made the experience less fun than it might have been.

Shortly after mile 30, Cheryl called for the delegation to consider the case of the shorter or longer ride, and we opted for the longer. It turned out we were mostly in better shape for the long ride than we had feared (although that one rider did have another eye problem later), and it turned out that the route was more like 45 miles than 50 -- but I didn't hear any complaints; I think we were ready to see the starting point when we got there. When we did, Cheryl brought out water which she'd left on ice in her care... and watermelon pieces! What a treat! I ate more watermelon than I have eaten any kind of fruit in years; Cheryl, my hat is off to you - watermelon was just the thing today!

Here's hoping for a better sleep tonight than I had. I'm hoping ot go on a ride tomorrow where I can push the pace a bit and show off what I can do. That way, I'll be in the mood to sweep at the All-Paces ride on Monday, if I'm called to do that.

*I seem to remember being told that the poor condition of Harbouton-Woodsville Road was due to the newly-placed surface being washed away during Hurricane Irene last summer, but some in the group thought the problem was newer than that.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

wrench your bike

I think you should wrench on your bike.

I don't think you need to rebuild it, or work on touchy settings like derailleur limit screws (unless you think you're up to that). In fact, you may not want to work on it at all.

(I DO want to work on it. I built the Yellow Maserati from parts, I upgrade parts from time to time, I do all my own maintenance [except when I can't, like when the Anchor House ride demanded a mechanic's statement], and I break it down to parts once a year, and lube and rebuild everything. But nobody has to go that far; I imagine few people with whom I ride do anything like that much.)

I'm no engineer; I have a liberal arts degree from a college-seminary that's out of business, and a Masters Degree in Counseling. I shouldn't know which end of a wrench is the handle. But it's my contention that if you can learn to cook for yourself, or wire up your own entertainment center, you can wrench on your bike.

Back when most frames were metal, I would have said that removing and replacing your seat tube was the most basic exercise. But in these days of carbon frames, bolt torques (how tight to twist the wrench) are unforgiving. Nonetheless. this is still a good exercise for a newbie wrench, if you've got a metal frame & seatpost:

  • Wrap masking tape (or any kind of tape you have that you'll be able to remove later) around your seatpost just above where it goes into the seat tube on the frame; this way you'll know the height later.
  • Loosen the bolt that holds the seatpost in. It's probably an Allen bolt, one with a hexagonal hole in the top into which a hexagonal wrench is inserted. It's usually an M5 (5mm) Allen wrench, and there's sure to be one on that multi-tool you almost certainly got as part of the "new rider package" that went along with your first bike (you know: the one with the pump, the ugly jersey, and the water bottle from the bike shop).
  • Pull out the seatpost, with the saddle attached (the saddle adjustment is touchy; frequently it adjusts in all three dimensions on a single bolt from underneath - often also an M5 bolt. Don't mess with that bolt for now. Unless you want to.). The seatpost will probably have a thin layer of grease or other slithery compound on it. If it doesn't (and you have a metal frame and seatpost), your bike builder didn't love you; find a new one.  (If you have a carbon frame, or a carbon seatpost, or both, the tube may even have a layer of sticky something-or-other on it. Carbon fiber needs help that mere tighten-the-bolt physics can't supply without risking cracking the matrix - the plastic-y stuff that the carbon fibers are held in.)
  • If you have a metal frame/metal seatpost, you can replace the grease on the seatpost (if there wasn't any, put some on; even some hand cream will work in a pinch).
  • Put the seatpost back in the seat tube of the frame. Hold it at the level of the tape you put on before, and make sure the saddle is straight towards the handlebars (unless you know that you like it adjusted to one side or the other; I like 4° left). Tighten up the bolt.

There. You've just done some wrenching on your bike. You can do a lot of good work with not much more than that multi-tool and a pair of pliers.

A quick word on the direction of tightening bolts: Almost everywhere on Earth, the rule for tightening a bolt is "righty tighty, left loosey"; twist to the right to tighten, to the left to loosen. Two caveats:

  • If you're reaching around the bottom of something, so you can't see the bolt, and it's facing up and in towards you... which way do you turn it? In this instance, I like to use a different rule: Clockwise brings the nut or bolt away from you. It may be tighter or looser: it doesn't matter. For most wrenches, clockwise = away...
  • ...except for a small number of specialty items: old fittings on gas grills used to be one (now largely replaced). But two of the specialty items are on your bike. One is the left pedal, where it goes into the crank - that thread is backwards, so turning the wrench clockwise loosens the pedal. For both pedals, the rule is: Loosen towards the BACK of the bike.
  • The other specialty item on your bike is the bottom bracket, to which the cranks are attached. In this case, usually, the RIGHT (drive) side is backwards-threaded, except when it's not. So, most of the time, the rule for the bottom bracket is: Loosen towards the FRONT of the bike.

But don't worry about that until you're ready to change your pedals or cranks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fahraddi Farfalla FFX beauty shot

Dave C forwarded this to me. No, it's not a car...

Farfalla open

... it's a quad-cycle, for side-by-side pedalers. See the article from Gizmag.

I think it's also a sign that you have too much money (like we used to say about cocaine).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

i want a project

I want a bike-related project. I'm thinking of wrapping the bars with white cork tape, then wrapping the ends with twine, and shellacking the whole thing, like some restorers of older bikes do (see this page from Rivendell Bikes, or the pictures on this page).

Or this guy, who mixes bike maintenance with cocktails. Not a good choice for me, but I can see where it would have its attractions:

But I'm not sold on that. The problem is that the Yellow Maserati is about where I want it, mechanically, so anything I'd do would be cosmetic... and I just did the cables in October, so re-doing the whole handlebar (like with the Velo Orange Grand Cru Course Bar) would be a bit of a waste, until the fall.

Any ideas?

Monday, May 21, 2012

one thing i don't like about sweeping on group rides

... is that some riders think I'm riding in the back because I can't do any better.

Another thing is that most of the folks I sweep aren't exactly thrilled to see me, probably because my presence is a reminder that they're at the back of the group.

So it goes. I don't sweep rides for the sake of the other riders, anyway; I do it for myself - to quiet my own demons. But hearing the folks who were riding off the front apologizing for pushing the pace on me, when I could easily have kept up with 'em, does rankle. Some.

bicycle weekend stuff

Almost 110 miles this weekend! And I am, as one of my Brit-born co-riders would put it, knackered.

Saturday, Laura OLPH celebrated her birthday with a 50 48 44 43-mile ride on the flats, starting from her house and headin' mostly west. Prior to the ride, she had coffee and bagels (and if I'd known, I would have gotten there earlier and made more of a pre-ride pig of myself than I did... although my weight's been creepin' up, and I'm going to have to adjust my food plan again). Sixteen of us; most planned to stay for the post-ride birthday cookout. We sixteen were a motley crew who have never all ridden together, and there was a bit of disorder and a variety of riding styles, which caused some consternation, but it appeared that we were all on speakin' terms again by the time we were packing up the bikes and either heading home or heading for the appetizers.

We learned on the ride that the DOT website does not have up-to-the-minute info on Turnpike crossing closings. We tried to cross at Perrineville road, and passed at least two "Road Closed" signs, but, since it wasn't on the website as closed (and since we can cross on bikes places where the cars might not go), we soldiered on in the hope that we'd get over. But the crossing looked constructed upon, and when John D went up to investigate, he came back saying, "Two words... Evel Knievel." So we went back around and crossed the Turnpike on Old York Rd (and weren't we a big crowd to be rippin' down Old York on bicycles!). Then the long way to Woody's in Allentown for a break... but there was so much good stuff waitin' back at Laura's that I wasn't really interested in Woody's.

So back to Laura's by about the quickest way (and crossing Route 1 at Franklin Corner is only slightly terrifying; much less so than most of the crossing further up), where a few of the riders went right home, and missed great food, loud & silly talk, and a friendly end to a great ride on a pretty day.

Sunday, Joe M took us on a ride from Hightstown to Belmar. Another pretty day. A bit of a headwind on the way out to let us know we were earning our way! My first ride to Belmar was a century with Don S, so I was surprised to discover how short the direct ride was. The same eleven finished that started, although the group split toward the end, with two of the faster riders going off the front (I stayed among the riders in the cheap seats to make sure there waere no crises). The route back was different from the route out; I thought I might recognize some of the roads on the way back, and was mildly concerned when I didn't (is my road-dyslexia really that bad?), so I was glad to see on the map that we didn't go back the same way.

Belmar appears to be one of the less "Jersey Shore" destinations on the Jersey Shore (not as strong in the flavor as Seaside Heights, although moreso that Point Pleasant, IMHO), but there was enough of the shore theater to make it worth the stop: colorful motorcycles and their (possibly more colorful) riders; beachgoers showing perhaps more skin that the coolish beach day would suggest; young folks trying to look bored and uninterested while at the same time trying to see who noticed them; and bicycles and riders: the eleven of us in lycra, as well as beach cruisers, BMXers, mountain bikes, hybrids, and the wonderful motley mixes that seem to spring fully-fashioned, rust and all, out of the backyards of shore houses.

66 miles. That made it a 109-mile weekend for me; a lot of riding for this early in the season. It made getting on the rowing machine this morning feel like stepping into an iron maiden. Oh, well. Back to work today. Rain is expected all week; I'm glad I got the rides in that I did this weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2012

to the bat-cycle

The Bat-Cycle!

bicycle with motorcycle fairing

My favorite part is that the so-called "b-tch seat" looks like it's actually been used.

From Oddman.Ca, of course.

other opinions on the el capitain ride

They're worthy of a separate post. Go check out Laura "OLPH's" ride report and Tom Hammell's epic retelling of the Saturday, ridiculously hilly, who-would-ever-want-to-do-this El Capitan ride.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

mother's day ride

The Excellent Wife (TEW) has been riding a bit, so we agreed to do one together this morning before heading off to the in-laws for Mother's Day. I dusted off the city bike (slide down to the bottom of the post to see it), got out the mirror and the helmet, and otherwise went in my civilian clothes; TEW was in bike garb, which she finds more comfortable than civvies (and apparently not silly enough to avoid!). We did almost 14 miles in a bit over an hour, at a pace that she set, stopping when she wanted to. The most important thing, for me, about this ride, was that she appeared to have fun, and makes noises like she wants to do it again; one of my pet fears was that I'd allow my inner pain-in-the-@&& ride coach to come out and scare her off biking with me forever. And that ride was just about as much as I wanted to do today after beatin' myself up on the "El Capitain" yesterday.

On the way back, she was struggling up a hill; we talked about shifting down to an easier gear, and she tried it. Her chain fell off the inner chainring, and, although we got it back on, it was clear her bike needed some adjustment. She thinks she brought the bike back to the shop for the initial set-in adjustment; if she did, I'm not impressed: the front-derailleur low-gear limit screw was way off, as was the height and orientation of the front derailleur and the rear derailleur tension (it would not shift onto the granny gear at all). It's working now, after some attention with two pliers, a screwdriver, a #5 Allen wrench, and a hammer (don't ask).

After that, we called my mother, who apparently is fitting in at the senior residence to which she's moved; she's found some friends and is getting the gossip on who's who and what's what, and she's turned down the volume on the nagging that we come up and visit. Soon, we'll be off to the in-laws for turkey (and who else do you know who roasts a turkey in May? God bless my mother-in-law) and discussion about the absent relatives, and food to take home for a few days. Here's hoping for decent weather on Wednesday so I can ride with the Old Guys.

Life, as I seem to remember saying before, is good.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

el capitain ride with tom h

From Tom's initial blog post about this ride:
Every time I talk to Chris about hills he tells me if you want to do some real hills you have to do my El Camino ride. I hear this for years so to try and shut Chris up (yea, I know, not going to happen) I decided to do the ride and see how hilly it really is.
At last week's ride, Tom asked if I'd be interested in this: he promised about 50 miles, with about 5,000 feet of climb.Well, the "about 50 miles" thing was OK; we came in at 51.9. The elevation seems to be a matter of some dispute. John D said his GPS showed 5072 feet; Jane C said hers showed about 4800; my Garmin page for the ride shows 4354 feet of climb (but the Garmin page always seems low to me), and the RideWithGPS page shows 6719 feet (and RideWithGPS is always the highest reporter; I suspect they may overdo the heights, although some riders swear they are the most accurate). I'm willing to go with 5000 feet.

It's a lot of climbing in 50 miles. If you look at the elevations, you'll see that the only sustained flat is about six miles near the end, when we were going through the Great Swamp. The sheer amount of hills affected our perceptions; we'd be pedaling in fairly tall gears on grades that would be substantial on Hill Slug rides (and grades that would be terrifying on rides out of Cranbury or Etra), because we kept finding ourselves on 13-15% grades. On the last hill, between about miles 48.5-49.5, John D said his inclinometer registered about a 21% grade. I'm willing to believe him; I had to lean forward to try to keep my front wheel on the road; it kept rising with each pedal stroke.

Tom had promised hills, but not like these:
According to my map the tougher ones are in the 7 to 8 percent grade range which only a little worst than Lindbergh in the Sourlands. Of course these climbs are a little longer than the ones in the Sourlands and this ride will not have many flat spots...
Yeah, well, he got those last parts right!

Wicked uphills suggest wicked downhills, and there were those, too. I didn't break 40mph on this ride, but came close with my top speed of 37.3. And while two of the downhills were "let 'er rip", on the others I had to ride the brake, either because of traffic, road surface, poor visibility, or other reasons. My front brake pads are noticeably more worn than they were last night, and I had to adjust the tightness to get the "grab" I like.

Hills, on a beautiful day like today, also suggest great vistas. I didn't do pictures, but Tom & Laura did, and I'll steal theirs link to theirs when I see them. (You'll also want to read their posts: Laura and the rest of us were making up lyrics to the Wheels on the Bus song, and Tom, no doubt, will want to write some words in his defense about this demanding ride! I'll provide links when I get 'em.)

Seven of us went: Tom (of course), John D and Jane C, Ron S, Laura OLPH, Chris (to make sure we did it right - and he added a hill, with a switchback, that turned out to be fun), and your correspondent.

Tomorrow, I plan to do about 14 miles with The Excellent Wife, at a pace she will set. As I write this, I'm so worn out, I'm afraid I might not be able to keep up!

Addendum 5/13/12: Laura OLPH has her post up, and it's way better than this one, complete with pictures, profanity, and lyrics. Go check it out (new tab, of course).

Friday, May 11, 2012

book review: just ride

Grant Petersen is the guiding light behind Rivendell Bikes. The term “retro-grouch", for a rider who only likes old bicycle technology, was probably coined for him. His book, Just Ride, has just been published.

Petersen makes the argument (one that has to be made), that most bikes sold today aren't suited to the kind(s) of riding most people do. He says that most bikes sold today are either racers or are modified from racers, and that the bikes, and their related equipment, are keeping more people from riding more often.

He says in the introduction:
In real life, I'm not as mean (or judgmental) as I sound in this book…
… and then goes on to sound as judgmental (if not as mean) as he says he's not.

Petersen wants bikes with upright postures, with carrying capacity, and with fenders, and he spends a lot of ink explaining why other bikes are just bad. He implies that a single bike can do everything, but I have two arguments about this: first, the bikes from Rivendell are not cheap, and I suspect that most of them are sold to people who also have other bikes. Second, he himself has written (in Rivendell Reader 42, p. 6 [Rivendell Reader is/was a publication about matters bicyclistic sent out by Rivendell on an unpredictable basis; many of the chapters of the book apparently first saw light as articles in the Reader]) that he expects many riders will have several bikes:
How many bikes?
seven is good. a beater, a bomber, a single-speed, a touring bike, a lightish road bike, a do-all racked and bagged bike, a mixte, a loaner, and a work in progress. seven? Make it nine.
Petersen also comes down hard on helmets, charity rides, special riding clothing (especially shoe/pedal systems, although the research he quotes appears to be 40 years old), and he espouses what must be minority opinions (although he may be right) on lights, nutrition, and riding safety topics, including Critical Mass Rides.

Nonetheless, this is a good read for the non-competitive rider. Once you get past the notion that Petersen seems to think that everybody should ride the way he wants to, you can see that part of what he's arguing for is less competitive riding, and more fun riding (and no Hill Slug could argue with that!). He comes out in favor of short rides (even a few minutes), bike camping (one of his particular joys is the “sub-24-hour-overnighter", or s24o), and allowing riders who have no interest in improving technique to be allowed not to worry about technique.

In his writing, both in the book and online, he seems to argue that riders who ride for speed or distance are wrong, and that we should give that up and ride for fun at low speeds. I suspect, though, that the real effect of this book (if it has one) will be to help riders of one type to accept riders of all the other types, and maybe even for us to try other rides and bikes. I, for example, have never ridden trail, and have little interest, and I don't ride my city bike enough. I also have been a bit overbearing on The Excellent Wife's technique, and have had to give that up. Perhaps this book will spread a bit of velo-tolerance: I, for one, could use it.

Good book, cheap. Quick read. After you're done with it, you might change your riding style, or you may know even better what you like about the way you ride. I suggest you check it out.

new ride start checklist mnemonic

Pilots use checklists to make sure that everything is ready for the plane to take off. Some time ago, after having a number of troubles on rides for which I wasn't adequately prepared, I set up a mnemonic checklist for my ride starts: WASABI - Water, Air, Speedo (for the computer), Axles (for the quick-releases), Brakes (so I remember to replace the brake release when I put the front wheel on), ID, (to remember to put on my Road ID).

On a recent ride, I lost my CO2 kit because I hadn't closed my saddlebag. I'm working on a new mnemonic. I don't like it, but the best I can come up with so far is A3, B3, C1:
Air: in the tires;
Ankle: for the Road ID, on an ankle band;
Axles: for the quick-releases;
Bag: for the saddlebag;
Bottles: for water;
Brakes: for the brake quick-release;

I know it seems unnecessarily complicated, but it's less trouble than being 30 miles into a hot ride with no water, or not having a front brake because I didn't close the release.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the arc of the moral universe

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

I had to find this:

Are you a Republican that hates gays and taxes?

(from Imgur.Com)

... before I could post this:

Wrong side of history image

(Also from Imgur.Com)

In time - and sooner than we think - these anti-gay laws will be the shame of our time, the way the Jim Crow laws were the shame of an earlier time. And they will have their wacko adherents, as the Jim Crow laws still have their wacko adherents.

One more thing: for years, we have been donating to both the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. If you think this is wrong, don't just email me or comment - send money. Organize. Do something. Because these enemies are afraid, and they will never rest.

weekend plans

On Saturday, I am doing Tom's "El Capitain" ride.

If I survive, on Sunday, The Excellent Wife and I are planning to do a short ride from home up to Millstone. I'm delighted she's feeling up to doing such a ride! After that, we'll be off to the parents-in-law for the celebration of Mother's Day, and the birthday of my brother-in-law and me, complete with eatin' too much and bringin' home yonks of food.

I should be a right mess by Monday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OK. I exercise every morning, and daily exercise is deadly boring. I do it because if I don't, stuff either hurts, doesn't work right, or both (besides, if I keep my weight down, I can go whippin' up those hills a smidge faster). To alleviate the boredom, I have a selection of podcasts to which I listen while I'm yankin' on the oars of the rowing machine and doin' the pushups and the crunches and such.

One of the podcasts I listen to is Geekspeak, from KUSP radio.

GeekSpeak.Org logo

It's about technology, computers, and such, but it's also about science and math, and influences on politics, ethcs, and culture. On this week's show, they did a bit about a cool search engine,

Millionshort Logo

The cool thing about this search engine is that it strips off the first million results from anything you search for. I've just given it two quick tries this morning, and I was surprised with what I came up with. I've gotta play with it some more; I want to see if I know as much as I think I do.

Play with it, and let me know what you come up with.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Yeah, I had a birthday yesterday. So when I got to work today, a co-worker (about my age), who didn't know I had a birthday, asked if I was making retirement plans.

HAH! And here I was thinkin' I was lookin' so good for a guy who's pushin' 60!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

happy birthday to me

Today's my birthday, and I've been counting my blessings. It's been easy to do so today; it started with this ride led by Gary Wotton. His wife wasn't there, so I swept in her absence. I rode in to Etra from Cranbury, and then forgot to turn to computer back on for the first part of the ride (not the first time I've done that!), but Gary's part was about 40-something miles, and I figure I did a little better than 50, including the rides from Cranbury and back. We started with twelve, including two women who decided they didn't like our pace and dropped off (although they pulled into Clarksburg minutes after we did, and then pulled right out again - and why do we so frequently stop at that filthy, depressing place, anyway? Tradition?). Two others were riding a bit slow (not much) for the pace of the rest; they didn't look like they were suffering, but rather that the had decided on a manageable pace, and were going to stick to it, thanks. I don't have the presence of mind to do that in a similar situation; I'll ride myself ragged to try to keep up, and be all cranky and upset when I can't. My hat goes off to 'em.

Then off to the Stage Left Restaurant in New Brunswick, where my wife took me (partly on a gift card). We had a delightful dinner, and a delightful time (The Excellent Wife is an entertaining dinner companion; gossip and slander fly apace when we're out enjoyin' ourselves & feelin' superior). We're just back, where I've been getting all the birthday well-wishing phone messages, and counting up the loot, whcih includes a not-insubstantial amount in Barnes and Noble gift cards to buy books for my First Edition Nook, and a Unicomp 'Clicky' keyboard to replace the one that I killed. I'm typing on it now, and yes, it really is that much better than that $10 modified dustpan that comes with most computers. (I'm old, and I have my crotchets and my preferences. I wear a watch, I tuck in my shirts, I like my land line better than my cell phone, and I want a keyboard with positive feedback.)

I also primed the garage door between yesterday and today; I'll plan to put a coat of paint on it this week. The kitchen is complete, the chores are done; tomorrow, back to work and routine. Life is good.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

foggy covered bridges ride

excellent foggy-day pic of the Delaware

In a rare, but not unwelcome turn of events, not only has Laura OLPH published her post before I had a chance to get mine up, she wrote a more excellent writeup than I could have done. Although it was a foggy day (and consequently, no great views, and some wet roads), it was a great ride, The picture above is just one of the highlights; go check out her post, I'll wait (as usual, opens in a new tab).

Here's the route. And let me brag for a quick minute. I set two riding goals for this year: the first is 4000 miles by bedtime on New Year's Eve, and the second is that I would improve my downhill skills, and my measure of that would be my breaking 40mph (yeah, I know plenty of guys have done over 50, but I'm not likely to be one of 'em). Tom told us his route would include coming down Federal Twist, and bragged he'd gotten up to 50mph on it.So despite fog (which was clearing by that time) and the risk of wet roads, I decided to go for a personal best. I got out in front so I wouldn't be afraid of running into anybody (far enough so I couldn't see 'em in my mirror, so I wasn't afraid of 'em running into me); switched the GPS to map mode, so I wouldn't be able to see how fast I was going; and let fly, pedaling until I wasn't getting any feedback from the pedals in my fastest gear. I wound up with a top speed, according to Mr. Garmin, of 44.7, which is fast enough for me.

I still don't like speeding down hills where I can't see the route (because of turns, for example), or where I'm among other riders. But this was plenty fast for me, and I'm keeping it as meeting one of my goals for the year. I'm putting my kite-only certificate back in storage (oh, go look it up, already!).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

on money making you happy

OK, admittedly I got this from Oursignal, which is hardly the most credible source, but the .pdf is hosted at Harvard, and it's apparently also available at ScienceDirect.Com. The title of the article is "If money doesn't make you happy, then you probably aren't spending it right", and I had to check it out.

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but the abstract is as follows:
The relationship between money and happiness is surprisingly weak, which may stem in part from the way people spend it. Drawing on empirical research, we propose eight principles designed to help consumers get more happiness for their money. Specifically, we suggest that consumers should (1) buy more experiences and fewer material goods; (2) use their money to benefit others rather than themselves; (3) buy many small pleasures rather than fewer large ones; (4) eschew extended warranties and other forms of overpriced insurance; (5) delay consumption; (6) consider how peripheral features of their purchases may affect their day-to-day lives; (7) beware of comparison shopping; and (8) pay close attention to the happiness of others.
I gotta check this out. Some of those things sound good, some sound true, and at least one sounds too good to be true. If you read it, let me know what you think.

another chopper bicycle

Well, okay... but I can't even imagine trying to pedal that thing up a driveway ramp, much less a hill, And I'm not sure the front disk brake is necessary.

It is cool-lookin', though. From Oddman.Ca, of course

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

red kite prayer: cool cycling site

I'm stuck at home this morning, while the contractor-fella installs the last of the floor in the bathroom/laundry/kitchen, and after cleaning and polishing the Yellow Maserati, I was kicking around the internet and was brought back to the Red Kite Prayer site. Most cycling sites that are not either manufacturers, vendors, or "style sites" are packed with more cycling sporting news than I care about (sorry, Dave; it's just not my thing).

Red Kite Prayer certainly has that, but it also pays attention to the other stuff, the stuff I like to read about. The site is set up like a blog, and the posts are divided into three sections: Body, with information about competitions, but also about fitness, ride stories, and such; Machine, with gear reviews and impressions; and Mind... which is hard to describe: there are some articles about competitive riders, but they aren't just about riding competitively, and other articles are about the heart and philosophy of riding, if you will.

I've bookmarked it, and I'll probably be checking it out. Don't be surprised if you see links from Red Kite Prayer.

(Why "Red Kite Prayer"? Read this.)

edit pdf's

I use this tool rarely, and every time I do, I need to find it again, so this post is really about being able to find PDFescape:

PDFescape logo

With PDFEscape, you can insert text or images (like signature files) into .pdf documents, and "white out" existing text. You can then save to your hard drive and print. Paid users can save online, and there are probably other features, but I'm not interested in those.

These features are available in Adobe Acrobat Reader 10, but that's not yet available for Linux, and the Windows box I have at home is a netbook that doesn't have the resources, even for this browser-based tool (it runs platform-independent, in any browser that supports Java).

I used it most recently to insert the specific ride text and my digitial signature into the Freewheeler ride sheet for the ride I convened over the weekend. Now I'll know where to find it again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

yes. yes i am.

In view of my upcoming birthday, I thought it was à propos to re-post this:

Of course it's too small; go see the original here. And yes, I am running on obsolete hardware; I have frequent memory faults, and some of the peripherals aren't responding properly.

(Diesel Sweeties is one of my perma-linked comics; see the links on the right. Left? Over there ==>.)