Friday, July 31, 2015

when you block a bike lane in brazil

Snakehead sent me this video. Here's what can happen if you block a bike lane in Brazil:


because i could

No breakfast.

No break.

60 years old.


Not doing the event tomorrow because I'm volunteering at a stop.

I decided to (mostly) reprise my birthday ride, but at a pace I set, without having to keep a group together.

42 miles, 17.2mph, and the only stops were for lights and traffic.

There's life in the old dog yet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

surprised by friends

I'm looking for work, and leads have come up from the most unexpected places; most recently from friends who don't work in my field, but who thought, "Maybe Jim could find something here,", and who have sent links.

I'm looking both inside and outside my field (I have administrative and other experience that could transfer to other kinds of positions), and almost ever single site I've been sent has resulted in my sending in an application and résumé.

But the real point is that I'm getting support from the most unexpected people. Many of them are friends, but I had no thought that they would have these useful ideas. Others are people I had not even thought of as friends, but who have come through and provided support.

I have sent out over twenty job-seeking submissions, almost all based on good ideas that other people (including TEW; especially TEW) have had. The last two times I looked for work, nine and ten years ago, I counted on contacts I had made in the field in which I work. The whole process of seeking work has changed since that time; I'm a complete tyro at this. I'm grateful for all the help.

But mostly I'm grateful for the friends and supporters I have, both the ones I've known about, and the surprises.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

princeton freewheelers member focus article

A couple of months ago, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I were informed that we would be the subject of the monthly "Member Focus" in the Princeton Freewheeler Club newsletter. I'm pretty good at maintaining confidentiality, so I haven't let on until now... but since the mailing has gone out, I'm including the text we came up with below:

Jim said, "I bought a motorcycle, years ago, as a response to a midlife crisis, and loved it. I was taken with the various motorcycle cultures and did much of my own maintenance. But after walking away from my second motorcycle accident in fifteen months, my wife and I decided that the motorcycle was not for me.

"As a consolation, I bought a bicycle, the first I'd had in decades (a coworker was into cycling, and it sounded like a good idea). I didn't take to it right away, until a few years later, when my doctor noticed my weight and general condition, and started making a number of impertinent remarks about blood pressure and pre-diabetes. I got the bike back out, and this time, I just took to it.

"That was about six or seven years ago. Since that time, I've been taken over by bicycles. Except for racing (about which I don't give a hoot), I'm fascinated by bicycles, by the culture, the history, the mechanics and materials. I'm fairly handy, and I've gone from doing some of my own maintenance, to doing pretty much all of my own maintenance, to building my two road bikes from parts (including building the wheels from hubs, rims, nipples and spokes). I tried volunteering at the Trenton Bike Exchange, but I live at the northern reaches of the Princeton Freewheeler territory, and I was spending more time traveling than I was turning wrenches. But now there's a fledgling Bike Exchange in New Brunswick, and I'm a regular there. I've been a mechanic at a bike maintenance station at the past several New Brunswick Ciclovia's, and, in my neighborhood, the kids all know to bring their bikes to me to fix their dropped chains and pump up their tires. And friends who've gotten bikes in boxes for assembly have been known to call on me - I usually get a free dinner out of the deal.

"I'm not one for the latest-and-greatest technologies. I like the almost steampunk feel of a geared road bike, with the levers and cables. I like that you can see all of the mechanics. Leonardo could have looked at it, and figured it all out.

"Some of you will know my blog, Seeming Verb. It's mostly bike-related stuff (my rides, nifty bikes or gear, bike-related stories or news), although I also put up anything else that takes my fancy, especially if there is a good picture. When I go to Freewheeler events, I like to get pictures, and I link them on the blog, as well.

'I ride a lot, mostly (but not always) with the Freewheelers. I don't lead rides; on a number of rides, either officially or not, I sweep - partly because I'm geographically-challenged; I can get lost in a bathroom, and following a leader gives me a place to go. A couple years ago, The Excellent Wife (see below) and I went on the Freewheeler trip to Martha's Vineyard; that was cool. A good day for me is about 45 miles at a fairly stiff pace, or 55-60 miles at a slower pace (although I like to knock out a century every now and then, if only to remind myself that I don't want to do them more frequently)."

Regina said, "I bought a hybrid, a clunky, Giant Cypress nine years ago with the idea of running the occasional chore while minimizing my carbon footprint. Eventually, I integrated five-mile rides into my exercise routine.

"By 2012, I had become a bike widow, as Jim had gotten the bike bug. My goal became to ride with Freewheelers so as to increase my shot at seeing my husband during daylight hours. I gradually increased the length of my rides, hitting 20 miles that fall. The next year I started group rides with the Freewheelers, the first out on Martha’s Vineyard. At the end of that summer, I invested in a Cannondale road bike. I knew I was going to stick with it.

"I ride C groups these days, as well as solo, meditative rides along the D&R canal. Sometimes, I even ride with Jim!  I enjoy the camaraderie and support of other Freewheelers.  I remain grateful to those experienced riders who led D/D+ rides, allowing me to gain confidence riding in groups. Next on the agenda: a better hybrid for canal towpath rides."

Since the article was written, TEW has bought a newer, better hybrid (and who would have thought she'd ever have TWO bikes?). She had a sense that my firing was coming, and figured she'd feel too guilty to buy it after (sensible woman!). Someday soon, I'll have a post about her new bike.

Monday, July 27, 2015

happy anniversary

The Excellent Wife (TEW) keeps telling me that we've been together for 21 years, which I know can't be true, because, while I'm certainly old enough to have that happen, I have no ability to be in a stable relationship that long. In rebuttal, she points out that we first started dating just after we got out of grad school in 1994 (an allegation I have been unable to rebut) and that there is a marriage certificate on the dining room wall from 1997*. Which there is, but just as I can't have been steady with her for 21 years, I can't have been married for eighteen; I have too much egotism and emotional instability.

*Quakers do weddings better than anyone else I've ever heard of; they sit in silence until someone is moved to speak, and, at weddings, many people are often moved, to speak about joys, hopes, memories, sillinesses, and so on. Bring handkerchiefs. At the end, all present sign the wedding certificate, indicating that the whole community will be around to help support the marriage. I've said often that the wedding certificate is a far better reminder of the marriage than the ring: if this thing falls apart, I'm going to have to deal with all those people who signed the certificate. It's easier just to stay married.

IN any case, to celebrate this undoubtedly fraudulent occasion of the 21st anniversary of our first date, we bought tickets some time ago (prior to the recent unpleasantness) to the American Shakespeare Center productions for Saturday, July 25. The American Shakespeare Center is located in Staunton, Virginia; they've built a reproduction of the Blackfriars "theater", an indoor space where some of the plays were produced.

Each year, they hire a repertory company to act a selection of the plays (they usually choose a theme, and sometimes throw in a play by someone else that fits the theme). We've gone a number of times, and the productions are always at least good, sometimes great. The funny comedies are actually funny (not all of Shakespeare's comedies are comedies in the modern sense), and we've noticed that they make a point of including scenes often cut from other productions.

We got up to get going at some stupid hour on Saturday morning to do the six-plus-hour-drive to Staunton, which was uneventful (I didn't even need to make up another verse to my song), and got to town early enough to find the motel, and then get to the theater. We saw The Winter's Tale:

... a story of jealousy and false accusation, which was particularly touching to me in view of my recent difficulties (there are some speeches I need to go look up again). It's a "comedy" in that it ends with marriages and reconciliations, and not with deaths, but don't bring the frat boys.

After that matinee, we potted around Staunton for a bit, and had dinner and excellent gelato (TEW loved the logo of this place, and thought some of our cow-friendly friends would like it, too),and then returned to the theater for A Midsummer Night's Dream:

This is a wonderfully silly play, and they did it masterfully. I was taken especially, though, by the actor who played Oberon, king of the fairies, who projected the dignity, and power and magic of the part.

And then to the hotel. The next day we got up for breakfast, and staying at the hotel were some of the members of the Tar Heel Mini Club, a group of Mini Cooper owners, who were doing an ice-cream run up to Michigan, where they hoped to join owners from all over the country, to set a record for the most cars involved in some event or other. (An ice-cream run, I was told by one of the members, means you're supposed to stop at least twice a day for ice cream. Now THERE's a crisis.)

And then we drove home, on which trip I STILL didn't make up another verse to my song. Maybe the problem is I just hate driving in New Jersey.

Friday, July 24, 2015

light from the darkness

In my last post, I was pretty dark about how I was feeling after the termination. But I've had outreaches from many of my excellent friends and (ex-)coworkers, and I have a couple of leads on jobs... and I'm getting some rides in.

I don't post all my rides; I've added a link over there on the right to my RideWithGPS rides page. If you want to see what I've been doing (and either feel superior, if you're faster than I, or feel sorry for yourself if you're not), feel free to click on the link. (I put very little up on the Garmin page nowadays. I had a good reason for that at the time, but it's not like I can remember what it is.)

And in case I haven't made it adequately clear, staying married to TEW was the best decision I ever made. (As for getting married, it's not clear which of us initially made that decision. It's kind of complicated.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I've either alluded to the fact that I was having work problems, or said it outright, several times in the past couple of months. I was terminated yesterday,

I've decided that if I allow myself to fall into a slough of depression, the enemy wins. If I don't complete the day's task I've set for myself to find a new job, the enemy wins. If I miss a day of exercise, the enemy wins. If I pig out on junk food, or don't shower and shave, of don't do household chores for the day, the enemy wins.

For today anyway, I am not going to let this beat me.

Those of you who are friends, I need you now.

I've worked in social services (mostly, but not exclusively addictions) for the past thirty years. I'm looking at work in that field, but I;m also looking at other jobs where my experience might be brought to bear.

If you have any ideas, I'm open to hear them.

(FWIW, The Excellent Wife (TEW) is better than I've ever let youse-all know.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

weekend rides, july 17, 18, 19

 wanted to be sure that the post for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange ride was the last post on the blog until we left this morning, so I didn't post about the weekend's rides. But here they are now, three of 'em:

Friday Night Trio with The Excellent Wife (TEW) & Sue M

TEW has been agitating t do the occasional evening ride on a Friday, and this week (July 17) we finally got it together to do it. We found that Sue Moser leads a ride from Mercer Park East at 6pm on Fridays, when she gets a companion or two (which is, evidently, not all the time; we had to email confirmation that we were going). We left North Brunswick before 5pm, because we were both SURE that Friday evening rush-hour traffic would be HORRENDOUS... and were at the park before 5:30.

Shortly thereafter, Sue rode up...

... and, since tere weren't any others about whom she knew who were coming, we left.

We did this route. It was a nice ride, a good time, not least because TEW had such a good time: Sue picked a route that was into the wind on the way out, which meant we had tailwinds on the way back. Part of the route was wooded, which cut the wind, but much of it was through open fields, where the winds had space to get their momentum up!

TEW did the ride at a mid-C+ pace, of which she is so proud (and, to be honest, so am I). She's spent the days since telling me how C+ riders do things. I'm learning a lot about the C+ lifestyle.

Another good thing is that we passed (although we did not stop at) the new Roy's Deli, near 524 & Imlaystown Road. It's only a few miles from the Ptomaine Ptower in Clarksburg, and if anybody ever thinks of going back to Ptomaine Ptower, I'm going to plug for Roy's!

In which Jim is a Jonah on the Major Taylors Saturday ride

Jonah (noun):
3) A person who is believed to bring bad luck.

As I've said before, Vern H has been inviting me to ride with the  Major Taylors for so long, and wit such frequency, that I could no longer put off going. I got a text that the usual ride was scheduled to leave from the usual spot at the Main St Cafe in Kingston. Despite the threat of rain (including TEW's direst predictions), I got to the start at about 7:45. A few minutes later, Vern rolled up, and after that, a few of his regulars. Below, from left to right: Andre, Vern, Wendell, and (I think) Roland:

Soon thereafter, Benny, from Kim's Bikes, appeared, and, just as quickly, dispappeared:

The four Taylors and I got rolling. I think I remember that we had the intention of trying to see the Iron Man competition at Mercer Park... but the rain started, maybe even before we were all the way across Route 1. Vern lives near there, and invited us into his house to drip, watch highlights of the Tour de France, and wait out the rain. Here's my waterlogged-camera pic of Roland & Wendell taking shelter:

I think I was the bad luck charm on this ride. When the rain stopped, we started riding again. The Taylors have a system where each person rides at whatever pace he or she likes (and these folks can be fast) to the next turn or stop, and they go when everybody's caught up. But Vern caught a flat (wheel hit something hard; it was way out of true), and I waited with him ('cause ya dance with him what brung ya), and Andre went off the front, and it was getting late... so we had a meeting when te rest of us got together:

We decided to go home. Wendell and I were going sort of the same way, and, on the way back, he got a slow leak. He wanted to try to ride it back, but, along New Road before 27, he used my phone to call for a ride, and sent me along.

Overall, I did this route... and I'm only glad I didn't bring more bad luck in my seatbag!

NBBX Social Ride

Today was the social ride for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange. I do these about once per month (weather permitting). I advertise these as "no attitudes, lots of stops, nobody dropped; if you can keep the bike upright, you can do this ride."  It's supposed to generate interest in the Bike Exchange, but I get few people, and many of those never come to the Exchange. But I see the offering of slow, social rides as a community service.

That said, the rides are short and not very challenging, so I got out early for my morning bagels and a few extra miles. I decided to do the Old Georgetown descent, and when I got to Coppermine, who did I see, but a number of the Kim's gang collecting their wind; they'd obviously just come up Coppermine:

I told 'em they'd be famous.

On to the start of the ride. Freewheelers Laura OLPH and former board member John S appeared, as did TEW, and Francis (who's actually volunteered at the Bike Exchange!) and his consort Kelly:

We did the Canal Road at a stately pace; there was not much traffic on the way to Kingston:

That's some rig John is draggin', huh?

The gang at Rockingham:

At Kingston:

I saw randonneur Eoghan B there (didn't get a picture...); he's prepping and packing for Paris-Brest-Paris.  I'm impressed.

I saw this happy-looking family across the street. That girl in the back isn't half suspicious, though:

At Kingston, John & Laura went their separate ways; TEW and I rode back with Francis & Kelly. They live in Maine, but are also refurbishing an old Victorian in Plainfield (which sounds cool). There was more traffic on the way back, and, with the heat, it was a tough day. I'm glad of the air conditioning.

Also, TEW has a new bike... but that will make another post; this one's long enough.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

nbbx ride july 19

Let's try again for that ride for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange on Sunday July 19. We'll be starting at the Blackwells Mills/Six Mile run lot; this link shows a map (the lot is the loop to the right of Canal Road, just below where Blackwells Mills crosses).

Start at 10; we'll go to the Main St Cafe... then, since I'm leading and get lost all the time, we'll turn around and go back the way we came.

This is a New Brunswick Bike Exchange social ride. No attitudes, lots of stops, nobody dropped. Helmets are required. We'll go at the pace of the group; if you can keep the bike upright for the distance (about 16 miles, all road), you can do this ride.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

quick bike tire patch: vaporware?

Vaporware (n): a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually manufactured nor officially cancelled.

 I don't know if it's vaporware or not, but I came across this announcement of a device that can place a permanent patch on a bicycle tire, in seconds, without the need to remove the tire from the wheel.

From the linked article:

Patchnride is a small handheld tool that you can use to quickly patch punctures on your bicycle tires.  And by quickly, they're not kidding.  You don't even need to remove the tire from the bike.  Instead, you just patch it in place using a process that can take as short as 60 seconds.
Instead of a messy and laborious 12-step process like traditional tire repair work, the device lets you fix a tire in just a few steps. You simply have to locate the puncture with the bundled leak detector, clean any debris from the area, insert the tool into the tire, press the release button, and remove the tool.  Done.  Just pump air back in and get back on the road.
 Great idea... but it was supposed to be out "next fall", and the original article is dated June 2014. A quick search doesn't elicit any availability, and the product web page still shows a "Pre-order Now" link.

But it would be a great idea, if only to get all those helpful people out of the way when you're trying to fix your flat.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

missed the major taylors ride

Vern H, of the Major Taylors club, has been inviting me to ride with them for years (and he's been inviting Laura OLPH as well). It's been going on so long that to continue not to show up would be rude, or worse, so this weekend, Laura and I decided to go and see if we could keep up with 'em. We've gotten on the texting list, and saw that they planned to go out from the Main St Cafe on both Saturday and Sunday, so today Laura and I met at the cafe.

No club members appeared though; we later learned they had changed today's start to the CVS in Plainsboro. Before we learned that, though, we figured that we had time to get to Cranbury to ride with Jeff on the Back-by-Lunch ride that starts at 9. On the way, we stopped at Bagel Street in Plainsboro, where Laura got a refill on her water bottle, and where I got pics of our bikes:

...and of this nifty cruiser ridden in by a woman I got to chatting with. It was her son's bike, and when he hit his teens, they took the fenders off to give it a bit of a cooler look. I think it's great.

We got to Cranbury in plenty of time:

Jeff has a knack for leading; while some of the roads he picked were a bit busy, he kept an eye on people, and we had a good time. We went to a Wawa in (HAH! Like I would know where?):

I didn't really know where we were at all until we got to Applegarth, on what Laura calls the "macho mile", where many of the Cranbury riders know their way back, and show off how fast they can go; often the ride completely breaks up. Before we had a chance to do that, though, Gordon had a flat, and he and Jeff mostly fixed it (I think the reason the fix went so quickly was that only two of them put their noses into it!)

I get lost all the time, so there I was in Cranbury, having to get back to home, on the other side of route 1. The safest way I know is to retrace the route we took from the Main St Cafe to Cranbury, so Laura and I did that (and thank you for the company, Laura). We restored ourselves with sugar and tea, and went ourr separate ways home.

This ride link shows my ride from home, to the Cafe (with a side trip to near Rocky Hill to enjoy a Porta-Potty I know of there), to Cranbury, then the ride from Cranbury, then back to the Cafe, then back to near my home. Nearly an 80-mile day.

I'm sorry I missed the Taylors... but it was a great day.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

high point hunterdon with tom h

Tom H is leading rides to the highest points of all the counties in New Jersey this year (well, that's the plan, anyway), and today he scheduled the one to go up to the highest point of Hunterdon County... which is in the midst of ah uphill, because the highest point in Hunterdon is on the way to a crest which is in Morris, I think. So the pics Tom got of the highest point, are actually NOT IN Hunterdon. Oh, well.

Anyway, ten of us (most of whom I knew; one newbie-to-me, Bill), left Raritan Valley Community College:

to do this route. We had a range of abilities on the ride (about which, more below), and just after the halfway point, my average was about 13.2. But it was a great day for a hilly ride.

I didn't know I'd pass a hippo statue on the route:

... or that there would be this prettiness in (name of small town I don't remember).

At the bottom of the next hill, Jack popped a spoke (he's had more trouble with wheels!). A few of us pitched in and got his wheel true enough, and his brake open enough, that he could finish the ride. (Meatball work. Jack, please get that wheel fixed before anybody sees what shoddy stuff I can do!)

And here we are at the high point in not-Hunterdon County:

From there, we went to the store at Schooley's Mountain. It has a small convenience store and a smaller post office, and has been there long enough that the Packerd thermometer on the porch may be original:

There didn't appear to be toilet facilities, so from there we went to a local park, where I got to hear Cheryl complain about having to ride across the grass. Now I feel like it's the real Cheryl, and not some alien clone.

Now I need to rant for a minute. We expect a lot from our ride leaders: that they pick a route, keep the group together, lead safely, and so on. It's happened before with others, but it happened on this ride that there was a rider who was really struggling.

I had written a long rant about this, and decided that was not really what I wanted to have in this post. Yes, there was a person who was probably over his head. Ride leaders probably hate to have to point this out to a person on the ride (and probably hate even worse to have to ask the person to leave the ride). I wish there was a graceful way to do it, but I doubt there is. I suggest riders read both the Princeton Freewheeler Ride Guidelines, and the Ride Leader Guidelines, and each come to a decision about which rides are within their abilities, to be safe and enjoyable.

And when it comes to me, to be the one who has to think hard about which rides I'm ready to do, and whether my strength has fallen off, I hope I can be sensible and graceful about it.