Sunday, January 31, 2016

feelin' slow

Laura OLPH says it was because I was on a 30-lb. bike with a pannier. I'm hoping it was because of a brake rub that I think I found, and fixed. Bottom line is, I was feelin' slow today.

I didn't do a ride yesterday; the Excellent In-Laws are poorly, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went up there to see 'em. While there, I fixed a toilet, got supplies to fix a sink, and did our taxes. (I do 'em online at both Taxact and HR Block; on both sites you can see who's getting you the better refund/lesser assessment before you actually spend any money. Ours are simple enough that I can do both sites in less than two hours. Taxact is almost always the better, but last year HR Block took the prize.)

While there, Laura sent out an email asking about extra miles, to which I agreed, so I met her in Plainsboro ...

...and we did an extended route to Cranbury for Winter Larry's ride, where we met Marco, Peter F, and Rick.

We took off over to the park in Jamesburg, where we did a loop up the hill, and got separated from Laura, and had to strategize a bit to get back together, but get back together we did.

Larry put the stop at Clarksburg (Alas! Less than three miles from the excellent Roy's!), but long before that, I was noticing that I just didn't have the zip I expected. On Iron Ore Road, I noticed my speed dropping and dropping, far more than I usually do on a hill. I was able to keep up, but at far more effort than I expect to put in on a ride of this pace (and my average was only 14.8). At Clarksburg, I adjusted the brake a bit more open and I felt a bit better, but I don't know if that was from the rest and Gatorade.

In that lower pic, that's Laura's bike Beaker Gonzo with the blue tires. She's put race-y wheels on that tank of a bike, and says she can really feel the difference.

Along with the ride, Laura gave me a present from her husband, Professor Jack... but that deserves its own post.

Friday, January 29, 2016

already great

This friend speaks my mind. I am so done with these clowns who want to bring back the magical Reagan era, and who think America needs to be made great again.

As for the day when America becomes "majority minority"? I can hardly wait.

Original from Imgur.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

snowy saturday thoughts

It's wicked snowy out there; we've already been out to get some of the snow off the cars (the Excellent Wife [TEW] has gone back out for another go-round, but I'm letting my back rest a bit; I don't have the mobility of a person her age, as well as having picked a parent who used a back brace, on and off, for the last four decades of his life). No bike ride this weekend. I'd ordered a new 46-tooth chainring to mount on Il Maserati Giallo, but the USPS site says it's stuck in Salt Lake City (despite the promise of delivery yesterday), so there's not much bike maintenance can go on, either (besides, the garage is 42°F).

I mentioned at work this week that I make myself 24 oz. of coffee every day in a percolator, and my coworker (a smidge more than half my age) asked what a percolator was; he'd heard of one in a song about coffee. Sheesh.

We also have a selection of cast-iron cookware; I figure by summer we'll be having historical tours in our kitchen. "See? That's the way they used to do it. And see that frypan? Just like the one in that Fried Green Tomatoes movie, right?"

Anyway, I plan to get out again to do some more shoveling in a couple hours. What are youse-all doing on this hunkering-down day?

Monday, January 18, 2016

cold, snow flurries ride

It's a fairly sure sign that I don't now what to put in a ride-report post when Laura OLPH gets hers up before I do (although she has hot news about a very nifty Colnago frame, with fluted tubings and filigree in the bottom bracket). Her ride was supposed to go on Saturday, but rain threatened, so she moved to to Sunday, and the worst thing we had to deal with was 34°F (pretty much all day; I don't think the temp moved from there).

As she usually does, she offered extra miles from her house, and as I usually do, I met her there, as did Snakehead and Peter. The four of us rolled over to the official start at the Pennington Admin Building, where we saw...

...well, nobody.

So off we rolled. Laura bent our ears about how she wants to build up the new Colnago, and there was an ongoing theme of snot jokes, as we did this route. Demanding climbs around Harbourton and up Lindbergh (yes, I miss Peacock's, and yes, once again I missed the Lindbergh mansion).

There WAS this balloon, but I haven't got the hang of the camera (or maybe the camera's just not good with distance); see Laura's blog for a good picture.

Snakehead had lent me a pannier bag to see how I liked it (the Krakow Monster now sports the fenders I took off the old hybrid; with the rack and the pannier, I think it's becoming the bike equivalent of a Volvo station wagon). When we stopped at the Brick Farm Market in Hopewell, he loaded it up with supplies (cheeses, and I think a baguette). And now I'm finally ready to admit that weight can slow me down on an uphill... but it takes pounds, not grams. Still, the pannier is marvellously useful and not intrusive when I'm not takin' home the groceries; Snakehead let me take it home for a while, and I wouldn't be surprised if I invested in one.

I'm stickin' to my earlier statement; if I could only have one bike, it would be the monster; it does pretty much everything. (I've also put new pedals on; they're SPD on one side and flat with traction spikes on the other. I really like 'em.)

The bikes at the Brick Farm Market:

What, nobody else rode in?

Laura saved a bit of annoyance on Province Line Road for the end, just 'cause she could; we were cold, but not cold enough to cut the route short. And I could have sworn I saw snowflakes, a suspicion that was confirmed when we had flurries for most of the last several miles.

I'm glad I went. I'm not interested in going out today, when the high is supposed to be about 27°F, thanks; I'll find something else to do today... probably indoor stuff. How 'bout you?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


One of the webcomics I'm newly following. The original is here, but go check out Maximumble.

And no, it doesn't apply to you. I only wear the unplugged headphones to avoid those other people.


Sunday, January 10, 2016


Even though it means I'll have to use the rack when I want to carry it in the car, after learning my lesson yesterday, I put the fenders on the Krakow Monster bike. It's still filthy; I'll post a pic sometime when it's cleaned up. (If I could only have one bike, it would be the Monster; it does pretty much everything, especially now.)

For now, that pic will have to do.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

got rained on in january ride

After a flurry of emails with Snakehead and some of his professor pals (mostly about how they don't get on bikes in months with the letter "R" in them, or something), we agreed to meetup on the Saturday morning ride from Kim's Bikes; Snakehead and a couple others would pick up the ride on the usual route as we went through Johnson Park in Piscataway.

So after my morning bagel, I rode up to Kim's and me Francisco and two others (they told me Fray, a mountain of a guy, has lost 60 lbs.! Good for him! I hope to be able to tell him myself, soon.)

We took the usual route over towards Johnson Park, but instead of a couple others, there were eight! So we were a dozen, many of 'em fast young guys (hey, almost everybody's younger than I am), and Snakehead and me.

We took the usual turns through Bound Brook, then through Colonial Park, and took a break on the other side of the park.

That fellow in the white Volga jersey. above, is Zach; he's back from four years in Belgium, were he rode with a team. He's more often a runner, but there's not much wrong with the way he handles a bike. We got to talking a bit.

Snakehead and I decided not to go back up Route 27 with the guys; we were debating whether we were going to climb Coppermine with 'em or not. At the stop at Six Mile, the discussion spread from us to some of the others.

It must have been contagious, because at the top of Coppermine, instead of heading back up 27, we pretty much all went down Old Georgetown (WHEE!); some went on to Princeton, some went back up Canal towards Kim's. Ed and I repaired to the Main St Cafe for coffee and empty calories, and when we got back out, the occasional drizzle had turned into a steady drizzle. Ed pointed out one of his favorite church signs, the Korean Love Life Presbyterian Church in Kingston (in teh second picture below, you can barely see the "Feed Truck" sign on the truck, which we thought was a happy juxtaposition with the "Love Life" church sign).

By then, the drizzle had turned to rain; instead of pondering more peregrinations, we headed for home. I enjoyed a long shower and am now a few minutes away from a post-ride nap.

Route page on RideWithGPS.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Several rides ago, Robert N, a sometime Hill Slug, and I got to talking about exercise, and I mentioned I take the curse off by listening to podcasts. In an email, he asked what I listen to, and I responded, and I just realized it makes a blog post. So, with some minor edits, herewith, starting with my weekly routine. In each case, the show title is a link to the web page; where possible, I've included the link for your RSS reader below it.

Mondays: 99% Invisible, a show about design done by an architect:

... and Planet Money, a show from NPR about finances (for not-finance-people, whihc includes me):

Tuesdays: Geekspeak, a show about science and tech, done by a rotating cast of young programmers in California:

Wednesdays: Right now I'm doing Mystery Show (of which there are only a few episodes at this writing). A woman solves "mysteries" having to do with such things as, "Where did that business suddenly disappear to?" and "What could that vanity plate mean?":

My other Wednesday choice right now is 7th Avenue Project. A modern Renaissance Man, Robert Pollie, talks to artists, scientists, authors, and various other kinds of movers and shakers. I'm embarrassed that Pollie can sound so smart in so many disciplines.

Thursdays:  This American Life (I'm sure you've heard of it).

(This American Life only has the .mp3 of the most recent show for download. You can stream earlier shows, but you can't save them. Not to be denied, I've been getting and saving them most weeks for years; I probably have seven or eight years on my hard drives.)

Fridays: From the CBC, DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera; it's now an interview-and-story show. Each week, the host, Sook Yin Lee, takes on a topic and has people opine and hold forth; some are experts and some not.)


From Maximum Fun, Judge John Hodgman. John Hodgman (as you probably know) was the "PC" in the old "I'm a PC, and I'm a Mac" commercials. He has a breadth of knowledge and a droll wit, and he and "bailiff" Jesse Thorne weigh in on topics that listeners send in, asking for "adjudications". Topics have included whether to send the kids to nerd camp or regular summer camp, how much to tell about a movie before it becomes a spoiler (and how old a movie has to be before you can say what you want without it being considered a spoiler), and other such topics of earth-shattering import.

(Maximum Fun has a number of other shows I haven't pursued for lack of time; the site is definitely worth a look.)

NPR Ask Me Another: If I weren't afraid of sounding dull, I'd call this a hip quiz show, but I know nobody says "hip" anymore (except me). I don't know most of the quiz questions (many are pop culture and too recent for me), but the attitude and presentation are fun.

When all else fails, I have episodes of Car Talk I haven't listened to, from when both the car guys were still alive (Tom Magliozzi died in 2014).

 Have you heard anything else cool?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

today i learned

Today I learned that there is a Wikipedia article on toilet paper orientation.

It's long, with (at this writing) 133 notes and a comparable number of references.

I'm delighted.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

more than i shoulda ride

When the weather is predicted clear with temps up to the mid-40's F in January, I feel like I gotta do a ride, and Jeff H was leading the "Back by Lunch" from Cranbury today... it was to be a fairly flat 45-miles-or-so at a pace in the 15-16mph range, so I thought it would be just the thing.

It turns out I was a bit tired; I could really have done with it at about 35 miles... but, of course, that's not the way things go on a group ride, generally.

Other than Jeff, I was acquainted with Rick and John, and there were two others, The Other Jeff and Steve, who I met (I got the impression they ride together). The Other Jeff and I got talking about the Hill Slug rides; he lives out in that area and doesn't like driving so far to ride starts. The Slugs, with their "amicitia quam celeritate" philosophy, might be a good fit for him.

We did this route, over some roads that were new to me and which I liked; Jeff's come a long way with his routing. It was pretty much straight down to New Egypt and back. I was actually glad, on the way back, that on or two of the guys seemed to be tired, too: I could slow to keep at their pace and look like I was being friendly when I was just being tired myself.

Some pics, at the start and at the Wawa in New Egypt. There's some fogginess on the left of some of the pics that I'll have to investigate (it may just be something getting in the way of the lens).

In other news, that's over 100 miles by the third day of the year (I did a short ride on Jan 1). It's an auspicious start.

Here's wishing good days to you. Hope to see youse on the road (or anywhere else, come to think of it).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

early january fifty-something

The Excellent Father-In-Law's health is a bit dodgy (he's 91, and has a number of health problems; sometimes it seems like he's just about to go, and sometimes it seems like a three-year magazine subscription might not be a bad idea); I had a misunderstanding (I hope that's all it is) with an acquaintance, to which I'm probably reacting all out-of-proportion; and my usual anxiety and its new friend, depression, haven't finished with their holiday festivities yet.

I needed this ride. It isn't all I need, but it was a good start.

Laura OLPH is recently back from abroad; she had a ride in the schedule for today, and she promised "something in the 40 mile neighborhood". Even though the thermometers were just about at freezing at the start time, it sounded like a good idea to me (and it did warm up to about 40°F by the end of the ride; much of the conversation was about winter gear and keeping warm). It sounded like a good idea to about a half-dozen other folks, too.

(Maybe they're as crazy as I am, and they just hide it better than I do.)

Laura allows a few of us to start at her house, which makes it about 50+ miles today (this route). We picked up a few more in Pennington:

John K, above and below, is sporting his new all-white diabetes/Novo Nordisk kit. It sure is visible, until the snow flies.

New waterproof camera; I don't think I've got the hang of it yet.

The route was mostly the usual roads, with the exception of Poor Farm, which I may have successfully avoided for all of 2015. I remember calling down an imprecation, in Latin, on Laura when she called for the right turn. (If I learned nothing else from the Harry Potter movies, I learned that magic words gotta have Latin roots). While I was trying to find my breath at the top of Poor Farm, I got a few pictures of my compatriots doing the same.

We potted around past Wheelfine Imports, and then up to Mt Airy. Laura and I got pictures of a cow eating the center out of a hay bale.

Then to Rojo's, which has become the usual stop. Snakehead now keeps a pannier on his bike (a good idea; one I'm thinking of stealing for the Krakow Monster, which has become my cold-weather bike), and brought home a couple pounds of coffee (one might have been Laura's). Outside:

Then back. Nothing special about the route or the day (although we did discuss alternate theories about the "Mechanic Haven" on Snydertown Road, one of which might be true. The owner has locked a bike pump to his mailbox. Isn't that a friendly thing to do?).

I needed this ride. As I said, it's not all I need, but I did need it. But I'm also getting roundly sick and tired of feeling this fragile. It's not that I'm not taking care of my responsibilities (at least, The Excellent Wife is certainly not complaining). It's more that I feel like everything's just difficult and fraught with meaning and importance, even when it's probably not. I wish I could wear my life more loosely.

Thanks to my friends for letting me rant. Hope your insides are less dramatic than mine (hey, youse-all certainly look good from here!)

three from today's oddman

I'm just mopey enough that these helped my mood this insomniac morning:

I think "...moremi-mgadigadi-savuti...." is a nearly-perfect transliteration of the babble of half-overheard chatter.

"Cardbordeaux"! I nearly snorted coffee out my nose. And, even though I'm 60, the one below describes my inner experience as it occurs more frequently than you would think, although the specifics vary wildly:

All from today's Oddman, of course.