Monday, February 29, 2016

possibly pedantic distinction

I don't know who that is (probably an admission of my staggering ignorance), and I don't want to make a judgment of either his artistry or Beyoncé's. But can we make a distinction between artistry and virtuosity? Humans like to watch somebody who is good at something (that's part of the attraction of professional sports, for example). Sometimes it's entertainment, sometimes it's skilled work.

That's virtuosity. But mere virtuosity doesn't make art. There are better draftsmen than Miro (or Botticelli, one of my faves), and better pianists than Gershwin.  But those better draftsmen and pianists, like actors and athletes (and others) over the millennia, are forgotten, because for all their virtuosity, they did not create something that stood the test of time, that spoke to people on a level to make their works memorable.

(Great artists are often virtuosi, which, I think, is part of why we conflate the two.)

I have little use for modern art; the stuff that people like is not liked by critics (and vice versa), and I think there are artists who create for critics. I don't think the stuff that was created for critics will still be around in a couple centuries. But I still go back to look at Botticelli.

Pic from today's Oddman.

Edit March 1 2016: I've been told it's Geddy Lee, the technically proficient bassist from the band Rush. My distinction, however, still stands.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

motley crew

I was up at the ailing father-in-law's house yesterday scoring up good family karma, so I didn't go out with the folks on Ed C's towpath ride. But Laura OLPH sent out an email about a late-start hilly ride and that sounded just the thing, so I showed up with the steel, 30-lb. Krakow Monster for the usual extra miles, and rode with her and Peter G to Pennington, the "official" start of this unofficial ride.

When we got there, we found the rest who comprised the motley crew of the post title: Paul I, newly back to riding after a knee injury; Steve G T, one of the faster riders of the Cranbury crew and the weekday Alter Kockers; occasional slug John K; and Jerry F of the Bike-Walk coalitions.

We took the 40-mile round-trip route to Lambertville (which you can do one-way in about sixteen miles, but the direct route is never the Hill Slug way). Along the way, we went up Snydertown, where I got another picture of Mechanic's Haven:

... and through Mt Airy, where we got pictures of the farm and the girls:

(Ooof! Thumb in picture!)

And then to Lambertville, where we ran into at least two other groups of riders, and where six pictures didn't come out. (Drat!) But these at Rojo's did:

After Rojo's, Paul went home, and Peter led us over a route that Laura had never done. It included an exhilarating downhill, that Laura, with the glint of evil in her eye, said would make a demanding climb ("demanding" was not her word). Overall, it was this route (that includes some extra miles).

A couple of other pics:

I got through this one in good shape; I feel like I've either had bad luck or have managed myslef poorly on recent rides, but perhaps that streak has passed. In any case, with weather like today's (60°F in February?), it's probably time to clean up the titanium Yellow Maserati and get some real riding in for the season.

Friday, February 26, 2016

big worry, small relief

The Excellent Father-In-Law is failing; we are hiring a home health aide and talking seriously about hospice and palliative care.

On the other hand, the medical insurance cards showed up today.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

weekend rides (i barely survived)

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I wasn't riding because of a glitch in the medical insurance. Well, that got cleared up enough so that I was able to get out this weekend.

Laura had a ride scheduled for the Freewheelers for yesterday, and Tom H decided he wanted to do a ride, so they combined: Laura did the sheet and Tom did the route. Tom was planning about 45 miles from Mercer Park East area, and Laura was going to ride from home to bring it up to about 60. Normally, 60 miles is a good day for me, so I decided to do that.

Pete and Ed met us at Laura's.

...and we rolled over to Mercer East at a pretty good clip to pick up the rest of the gang:

(bad photography and klutzy deletions: this is the only one that came out).

We got rolling on this route, and it quickly became clear why our pace over was so quick: we soon turned to face a demanding headwind. It came and went with the turns on the route.

Tom had sent Laura the route, and then changed it when he found a bit of used-to-be-a-road (between miles 10-11 on the route), but evidently we mostly followed his route. We stopped at Roy's (Yay!).

I hope never to have to go back to that benighted pit in Clarksburg again.

But at about 45 miles, I began to flag, and then I tired quite quickly. I did fine on the flats with tail- or cross-winds, but with any resistance (hills or headwind), my energy and speed just dropped. I now think I didn't have enough calories on board (I've been trying to lose some winter pounds), but at the time I thought it would pass. It didn't. Further, I was riding the Krakow Monster, my do-everything bike that weighs over 30 lbs., and is now sporting a pannier, so I'm sure it has the aerodynamics of a brick parachute.

Refusing offers of food, I fell behind the group. My thoughts seemed mostly clear (well, as clear as my thinking ever is), so I didn't think it was a bonk... but I'm pretty sure now that it was. I came home, and wound up eating my weight in junk.

For today, though, Laura had made noises about a recovery ride, and we'd met Sean I. at the end of the ride, who hinted he might come out. He didn't; it turned out that this ride was just Laura and me. We did this route.

(Laura said that she was pretty sure that part of the problem from the previous ride was the heavy bike, so I prepped up the Yellow Maserati and took that today. I haven't been on it in months, and I forgot how much I like that bike, too.)

Laura had complained of a headset problem on one of her bikes, which I thought would be an easy fix, but because of the 1"-to-1 1/8" headset adapter, it turned out we didn't have the tools to fix. We made a plan to do the ride and end up at Hart's, which would open at noon. We dawdled along, and stopped for pictures.

On a whim, Laura decided to investigate a bridge on Province Line that's been out for years. We found it newly covered for pedestrian traffic (there's a sign to walk the bike across) and Laura resolve to plan some routing across it. It's pretty.

We went further up to where the old road is now only a power trail.

Then to Boro Bean for coffee.

We saw Andrew, who'd been on the ride the day before, so he stopped and chatted for a few.

Then over to Hart's, where Laura got the headset fixed, and back. Just enough miles, at a slow enough pace, that I'm about recovered from yesterday. I've thought I was pretty strong as a rider, and maybe I am, but I'm not invincible, and I obviously need to prepare and recover properly. It's probably about time I learned that.

Couple of extra pics:

As tough as it was, I'm glad I got 90 miles in. (90 miles in February, and over 350 since the first of the year. Not bad for a guy who doesn't bike-commute.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

tour de franklin: volunteer wrench

For the past few years, I've led a team on the Tour de Franklin. I won't be leading a team this year; instead, I'll be manning a maintenance and repair station there in support of the New Brunswick Bike Exchange.

I know for some of you this ride is a chore, but I hope some of you will come out anyway. It's for a good cause (the Franklin Twp Food Bank), and, even if you don't want me wrenchin' on your road bikes, if you've got a Wal*Mart toy bike that isn't runnin' right, I can usually whip those into shape, too.

And if you think it's hard working on a high-end bike, where all the parts are already supposed to work together, you should try adjusting those mis-matched agglomerations that the toy stores sell. Now THOSE are a CHALLENGE!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

ding, dong, the witch is dead

Antonin Scalia is dead at 79.

Good riddance. With the exception of net neutrality, he never made a decision that didn't support power and privilege over justice. (I suspect he only supported net neutrality so he could stream Netflix.)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

they must think we're idiots

The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I were sharing some refrigerated smoked salmon she had gotten somewhere-or-other, and the box (on the table as we were eating) caught my attention. I don't know where it was packaged, but it is Norwegian salmon smoked in Poland. In big letters on the outsid of the box, it says, "GLUTEN-FREE".

Oh, thank heaven; we know what a source of gluten salmon is.

The list of ingredients:

Farmed Atlantic Norwegian Salmon Salmon (Salmo salar) (98%), salt, and natural wood smoke.

Beneath that:

Contains fish.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

off the bike; too dangerous

Grump, grump, grump. We're going through a change in the medical insurance, from The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s coverage to mine,and we're not going to have cards, or even show as covered in the system, for two weeks (supposedly, and the coverage is supposed to be backdated once it's opened; I'll believe it when I see it). After my episode in April of last year, (pics here) I fear riding is too much of a risk without proof of medical insurance. So I'll be off the bike until the medical insurance situation gets cleared up.

I am EXCEPTIONALLY grumpy. You do NOT want to spend ANY time with me.

Monday, February 1, 2016

you could look it up

What I didn't tell youse-all in yesterday's post is that when I met Laura OLPH yesterday, she presented me with a pre-production copy of her husband's latest book. Professor Jack Lynch has published a book, entitled You Could Look It Up :The Reference Shelf From Babylon To Wikipedia, about everything you ever wanted to know about reference books and sources.

I've been waiting impatiently for him to finish it for years. Doesn't that sound great?

Well, it does to me, but apparently it doesn't to others; when I tell people about it, they give me the same look I would get if I said I was going for a fitting for a tin-foil hat.

Jack's inscription to me is a delight:
For Not-So-Plain Jim, Who may be just nerdy enough to enjoy this book.*

*No guarantees expressed or implied.
I'm foregoing all other literary pursuits in favor of this one.