Wednesday, December 30, 2015

link to tom's bike adventures

How is it that I've never added a permanent link to Tom H's blog? Well, I just fixed it; the link is over there on the right.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

cursing: sign of bigger vocabulary

According to this article in the Washington Post, "fluency in 'taboo words' is correlated with having a larger vocabulary in general."

I don't care if it's %$#^%^ true; I'm stickin' to my *^$%# f-bombs.

Friday, December 25, 2015

a good christmas

It's been a good Christmas. Last night, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went to see her side of the family at the Excellent Parents-In-Law; they're both still alive and able to complain about their condition, which, given their ages, is pretty good. It was a late night for me, and I think I got out with only upsetting one person, which is good, for me. We do the whole Polish Wigilia thing, with rituals I can't pronounce, let alone spell, and the singing of Kolędy (Polish carols; my in-laws love to hear their Anglo son-in-law hammer his way through tunes they're familiar with) and the no-meat feast. We do presents, and then TEW and I come home for a quiet Christmas Day, which is really more my speed.

This morning, we got up and did our presents. My mom bought TEW this excellent Doonesbury compendium:

It's bigger than the old Sears catalog that, come to think of it, many of you probably don't remember.

Mom got me this Mad Magazine anthology. My tween and teen years were difficult, and Mad Magazine was one of my regular companions.

Not to be outdone, TEW got me two excellent books. The first is The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a somewhat-true graphic novel retelling of a partnership that built one of the first computing machines.

The other is The Wake, a novel written from the point of view of those whom William the Conqueror... well... conquered, I guess. It's written in a language that's kind of a best guess at how the folks then might have spoken (and written, if any of 'em had been literate). A quick look reminds me of Hoban's Riddley Walker, which I first read umpteen years ago.

Also under the tree, among the socks and shirts and stuff, was the Oxo crank peppermill. I make popcorn for snack, and to avoid the blood-pressure spike that would ensue from from weighting it down wit the amount of salt I'd like, I use fresh-ground pepper instead. I use enough, though, that using a regular peppermill might lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, or some such. I've used the crank today, and it's great.

The only vaguely bike-related gift is this Bell & Howell waterproof camera that I'm going to take on rides. I saw Tom H had one, and I cast the eye of lust upon it.

After the opening of the gifts, we took a walk (in the drizzle) around Johnson Park, then to breakfast at the diner. The fellow in  the other booth, eating alone, looked like he'd lost his only friend, so we secretly popped for his breakfast just before making our escape. Then home, for naps, stupid internet, and meatloaf for dinner.

Hope your Christmas went as well. How did you do? Any news or stories?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

50-plus miles and some thoughts

Do you read Red Kite Prayer? One of their weekly features is called "Friday Group Ride", in which one of the regular contributors waxes thoughtful about something at least vaguely bike-related, and then asks a question for readers to respond to in the comments.

This post is kind of like that. Yesterday was a bit of a lost day: I got a couple of new tires put on the car and went from there to CostCo, and then came home and did mostly stupid internet. We went to see the new Macbeth movie, but the quick-cut-handheld-camera technique (that seems so popular now) nauseates The Excellent Wife (TEW), so we came home after about fifteen minutes... an I spent the rest of the day eating junk and doing stupid internet (Imgur, mostly, if you must know).

There was no ride today with my club that I really wanted to do... so I was glad to get an email from Snakehead about doing a ride. I had heard from Winter Larry in Friday and invited him, but I don't think he's gotten into the habit of checking his email on weekends (despite is new smartphone).

This ride really was just the ticket to blow out the doldrums from yesterday. It was demanding enough that I had to push a bit, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed. And I got the usual head-clearing-out that I can count on from a long-enough, decent ride. (We avoided the real busy roads - having a plethora of traffic coming up behind can ruin the soul-pacifying that a good ride can elicit.)

Not many pictures: here's Ed digging out some cough syrup at a stop:

It was a nice clear day.

We stopped at the Brick Market in Hopewell; here's Snakehead's LB013 and the Krakow Monster out front.

Inside the market.

What makes a good ride? What takes some of the quality away? What does a ride do for you, and how do you know when you really need one? Or am I being stupid, and nobody really needs one;riding is something we do for fun, but we should just shoulder our goldurn responsibilities and shut up wit the complaints, already?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

more war on christmas

I love this stuff. It's even more pleasing to me that it might upset somebody. Is your god so weak that he can't abide a little mockery?

From today's Oddman, of course.

We had the work holiday lunch yesterday, and the scale scolded me today. Back to the eating discipline, I guess. Hope you're doing better than I.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I make no secret of the fact that I am a person in recovery from substance-use disorders, or that I suffer from anxiety (and, more recently, depression). Recently, The Excellent Wife (TEW) has been suggesting that I return to my practice of meditation, which I've adhered to and fallen away from for decades.

It's apparently a source of chagrin to some of my acquaintances that I am stringent in my definition of meditation: there are things that are meditation, and things that look like meditation but aren't. I've been using the techniques from Lawrence LeShan's* How to Meditate, one of which I've modified for my own use (he has you focus your vision; instead, I focus on a piece of music: usually either Sheep May Safely Graze at a much slower speed than it's usually performed, or an endlessly-repeating tune of my own devising).

*(LeShan is a bit of a woo-woo on the topic of the paranormal, but he's right on it with this stuff, and he's a leader in cancer support.)

I know from my own experience over the years that there's no use in starting meditation if the anxiety is already on me; meditation at that point only makes the anxiety worse (I don't have the strength of will to keep returning to the practice when other thoughts come up). But if I'm in the practice of meditation, the anxiety isn't as bad when it comes.

I seem to be in a state of mind today where things are reasonably stable (as I have not recently been), so I started to take TEW's advice (she'll be skeptical when she reads THAT, I'm sure), and I started this morning. I have morning time to meditate and a place to do it.

I don't know how long I'll stick to it, but it's a practice that has worked, so it's worth a try.

(Part of the reason I put it out here is that if I make it public, perhaps I'll stick to the commitment. That's also worth a try.)

Here's hoping your minds are friendlier places than mine has been, recently.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

unseasonably warm hill slug ride, and the monster is fine the way he is

Those of you who only see this blog when I post a link on Facebook won't have seen it, but last month, I ran a post about getting a smaller big ring for the Yellow Maserati, my road bike. I figured if I was gonna do it for that bike, I might wanna do something similar for the Krakow Monster, my modified-cyclocross-and-do-everything-else bike. But before I did anything drastic, I wanted to take the Monster out on a road ride and see if it needed modification.

Laura OLPH posted about her plan for today's ride that "We'll take a circuitous route to one of our local haunts." No more info than that. I figured that this one would be a good one to try out the Monster: not too tough, but tough enough to see what it would do.

I met Laura at her house for the usual extra miles, and then Pete rolled in, and we headed to Pennington where we picked up John K and a friend of his, Marty:

We did this route. You'll note shorts and knickers in the pics. I had on tights and two layers, and after the first fifteen miles or so on the hills, I was sweating furiously and wishing I hadn't worn my beat-up shorts (that are not fit to be shown in public) under my tights... but the morning clouded up a bit after that, and I survived the heat. Who would have thought I'd be sweating so much in mid-December? Below, at a couple of getting-caught-up-and-wardrobe-adjustment stops:

(Laura also wanted a picture of the "Hillbilly Hall" sign for a friend. We pass that place every so often, and it's just jarring to see a reference to hillbillies in New Jersey.)

This was a new route for Laura, and we rode a road neither she nor I had ever been on.

I'm trying to persuade myself that I have some ancestral claim to the property.

We stopped at the Sergeantsville store, where we picked up Kevin, who has ridden with many of us before; he continued with us a short way thereafter.

Above, Laura trying to look dangerous with her new black hill bike, called Miss Piggy.

On the way back, I finally remembered to get a picture of this sign, which I've missed several times before:

The letters on the top tube say "Mechanic Hideaway". It's not at my house.

On the other side of the driveway is this "M" with the BMX wheel.

Woooo. Mysterious. Some crypto-bike-shop in the Sourlands.

In any case, the Monster performed admirably on this ride; it doesn't need any mechanical modifications for me (although I may put on a set of fenders I've got hanging around). So I'll only need one 46-tooth chainring.

Hope you're managing during this unseasonable warmth. I'm thinkin' of puttin' in tomatoes.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

new rear wheel, quick ride

So I had a rear hub from a wheel build that didn't work out the way I'd hoped. And, although I always use butted spokes (usually Sapim Race; get 'em at that link and Brandon will definitely hook you up), I know Michael Johnson, award-winning wheelbuilder at Wheelfine Imports, says that straight-gauge spokes are his preference. I decided to build a wheel with straight-gauge spokes to see if I could tell the difference.

Oy. What a time I had with this build. First of all, the rim delivered was black, but I like silver (scratch a black rim, and the metal underneath shows through; scratch silver and it shows silver). Then, when I laced it up, I made every mistake in the book. Then the nipples that came with the order were aluminum alloy rather than plated brass; the aluminum is lighter, but more brittle.

The brittleness of the nipples became a problem, see, because I didn't measure the rim myself, but depended on the advertised measurement. Now, every time I've measured a rim, I've come up with a smaller diameter than the advertised diameter. Sure enough, when I started to build the wheel with the spoke sizes I got using the WheelPro spoke calculator, the drive-side spokes were far too long (there had been something smoky about the results, anyway); enough so that I began breaking nipples trying to tighten them up. I actually had to cut a couple of spokes out using bolt cutters.

So I ordered the shorter drive-side spokes and brass nipples, and wouldn't you know, the wheel built up just the way it was supposed to do. I put on a cassette (almost forgetting to include a spacer that comes with the cassette; I tell you, these wheels are hexed), and put 'em on the Yellow Maserati.

I took it out for a quick ride today (quick, because I didn't have much time before the sun went down, and quick because I averaged 18.4mph over the 14 miles), and I don't think I can tell the difference between these spokes and butted spokes. I probably don't have the power in my legs.

But I think I have a new project. I resuscitated the front hub from the wheel that died in my crash. I've never built a wheel with bladed spokes. It's a front with rim-braking, so the spokes will be the same on both sides. I doubt I'll see any improvement with the bladed spokes, but I'll have the experience of working with 'em. (You'll probably be able to hear the swearing in Burlington County.)

Hope youse have a good week. Check in and let me know how youse are doing.

on bs

I came across this article about detecting bullshit in my internet stumblings, and emailed it to Laura OLPH for her input, as, of all the people I know, she's one of the least likely to be taken in by impressed with pseudo-depth. She mentioned that she'd seen the original article, which, it turned out, was linked in the article I'd seen.

I doubt most of you are going to read all of either one, so here's some TL:DR: There is a subset of the population that is likely to find deep meaning in randomly-generated phrases that are designed to sound like they have deeper meanings.

From the article:

Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.

It made me smile to see that the second subhead of the main article - the second subhead- was titled, "Pseudo-profound bullshit".  THIS is the kind of thing that I'm glad to see research money spent on. I didn't see a disclaimer about funding sources in the article, but I hope they got some money from the NSF.

Edit Dec 7 2015: Two of my science-y friends point out that text in the original article says, "Funding for this study was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada." Sounds legit to me.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

early december ride to califon.

On one hand, it was not my best day; I'm a little crazier today than most days. On the other hand, with this ride, I've hit my goal of riding in every calendar month in 2015 (some years I haven't hit it, when there's been a run of bad weather through the winter).

Eight of us did this route from Hillsborough to Califon: Laura and I (of course; it was her ride, and I wouldn't be posting if I hadn't gone), Chris C, Jack H, Winter Larry, Snakehead Ed, Peter, and sometime-Hill Slug Robert. Few pics: I forgot to take many - I was too busy battling my inner demons.

I have no idea where these were taken.

Below, at the Califon General Store. I wish all our stops were like this place.

Chris was wearing two layers of tights today. Don't you wish you could see the other ones, too?

I'll tell you what, though: the craziness would have been a lot worse WITHOUT the ride.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

tony 10 speed

He bills himself as "Bicyclist's Best Resource". He doesn't seem to have any problem with excess humility, but the site does have good information on a number of bike topics, including videos (many are his own) and illustrated how-to's. You'll want to check out Tony 10 Speed.

I'm putting a link over there on the right.

He's in NJ and rides with the Morris Area Freewheelers. How have I not seen this before?