Sunday, February 26, 2017

i needed this ride

I completely messed up the riding for yesterday. I took seriously the threats of rain, and just did this less-than-25-miler, missing entirely the 77°F temps later in the day, when it seems that EVERYBODY was out in their summer gear (in February!)

So I was delighted when I was included on an email from Laura OLPH:

After a hectic week and a day spent indoors, I need a ride. I'd rather not go to Cranbury. Are any of you up for a trip to Sergeantsville tomorrow?

Well, yes, MA'AM! So I suited up and headed for her place for the start, and met Snakehead there. (That's his bike; the picture of him came out just awful.)

We rode over to the usual start, and picked up Peter G. We thought John K was coming, but he didn't appear, and we were cold enough that we wanted to get going.

Laura had sort-of thoughts of going to Sergeantsville, but with trying to avoid the worst of the wind and improvising a route as we went, the next thing we knew we were visiting the girls in Mt Airy...

... and so we pretty much decided at that point...

... to head to Lambertville, which means we stopped at Rojo's, where we met John K, who was waiting for us.

John had planned to come with us, but was running late, and then he was running later, and then he just decided to try to meet us. Like me, he had overestimated the temps for today, but he was wearing far less for warmth than I, and was still cold after quite a time waiting at Rojo's; he briefly considered calling for a lift home, then decided to ride home on the comparatively wind-sheltered canal towpath.

The four of us continued up the Rocktown-Lambertville climb (we'd done Mine Road on the way out, and Laura decided that was enough wicked hill for the day). Somewhere along there, the anxiety kicked in; I got crazy (as I sometimes do) and had a hard time focusing on the ride; I fell back so the others wouldn't hear me arguing out loud with the demons (as I so frequently say, I'm not exactly a %$#&ing wellspring of mental health). My ruminations went on for miles; the only thing I can say is that if I HADN'T been on the ride, it probably would have been worse.

Then Laura stopped to get a picture...

...of this cow in the barn door:

...and by that time, some of the crazy had passed. (People who know me well would say it NEVER completely goes away.)

Y'wanna see the route?

In other news, keep Dave C in your thoughts. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I took a trip to Hart's on Saturday afternoon, and met Dave H there, who told us that Dave C's wheel had slipped out from under him. Dave C is in the hospital with a number of fractures; from there he goes to physical rehab, I understand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

revivifying the computer

A couple months ago, I went on a rant about keyboards. One of my good ones is attached to what Laura OLPH called the "Ultra Geeky Linux Computer".

I should have recognized the signs that the boot hard drive was dying (hard drives always do), but I didn't until the computer wouldn't boot anymore. I'd been backing up onto a second (and, in fact, a third) hard drive in that computer, but I hadn't in at least several days. So there was data that I would lose.

Most of my important stuff is in my Dropbox folder, so I knew I wouldn't lose that. There was a possibility of losing some emails I'd rather keep, but that wasn't a real problem (because most of my email accounts use the IMAP protocol, they'd sync up as soon as I logged in again anyway). The key thing was podcasts (I listen to 'em when I exercise), and there were two of them in particular.

The first is This American Life. You can get the .mp3 file of the weekly story for free IF you download it within the week; otherwise it's a 99¢ download at iTunes. I'm incredibly cheap about that kind of thing, and I HATE giving money to Apple, so I download them weekly (I have gigabytes of TAL stories on my backup drives). I hadn't backed up the last couple to the backup drives.

The other was Car Talk. When you sign up for the podcast, they only give you the last two. But I had them for years, and I was still listening to Car Talk episodes from 2013 or 2014. I wanted to get my old list back. I had been using Opera browser as my podcast feed, and I'd been saving my Opera profile through many updates. Could I get the files back?

So here's what I did:

  1. Buy the new hard drive.
  2. Download the latest Linux Mint live DVD image, burn it to disk, make sure it will boot up. It did.

  3. Try to see files on the old boot drive. Hooray! I can see the files! (So the problem must have been in the boot sector.) But because of the Linux copy permissions, I can't copy-and-paste them in the live CD session.
  4. OK. Disconnect all the hard drives (the DOA boot drive and the two backups), connect the new drive, install Linux Mint. 
  5. Sound doesn't work. Sound doesn't work? Research indicates it's a stupid choice of setting in alsamixer, which I don't initially understand, but I got it working.
  6. Hook up the DOA old boot drive. Yay! I can see it! AND I now have the permissions to do the copy-and-paste, which I do. I managed to salvage the "This American Life" files.
  7. Check the email program. Yay! Everything's there!
  8. Download Opera (not available through the Linux Mint repositories [their version of the "Google Play Store"], but it is available in the right format for Linux Mint). But wait. There's language on the site about how Opera now can do RSS, which is what I use for podcasts. I've been using it for years for that. What?
  9. Install and open Opera. Weep with disappointment. Opera has changed their format; they no longer open the old profiles. I've lost all my feeds.
  10. Take out the DOA drive, hook back in the other backup drives, and begin the hours-long process of tweaking the system to my liking (I'm still not done).
So I've got a couple of other podcast solutions going now (one is using the Firefox bookmark system, which works better for my purposes if I don't use the built-in Live Bookmark feature), and I've sworn off Car Talk. I'm more of a Judge John Hodgman kind of guy these days, anyway.

Edit Feb 22: A superficial bit of internet research unearthed the fact that the original Car Talk guys retired in 2012 (and Tom Magliozzi died in 2014); they had a number of shows "in the can", but recent shows are just amalgamations of calls and bits from their active period. So it's time to move on from Car Talk anyway.

too much, and not enough

It's been over 60°F both days this weekend. I'd been planning on that, and when I saw Laura OLPH was planning a 40-something for yesterday, I did not want to miss that...especially when I saw she was adding some extra miles from her home, bringing the total to almost 60.

I shouldn't have done the extra miles. I'll tell you now, I hit the wall at just about 50 miles; I had no power going up any kind of a hill, I was falling off the back, and I could feel the tremor. I didn't intend to be the Ride Canary for the day, but that's how it worked out. I'm grateful for Snakehead and Chris C, who had stayed back, and saw I got enough water and junk food to make it the rest of the way.

Perhaps I'll be more careful in the future when I'm getting back on a bike after several months, with an injury and a weeks-long illness-and-recovery in the interim.

But probably not.

It was a great ride anyway, and just the thing I needed after my enforced idleness. Eight of us went, many of whom I've ridden with for years, whom I consider friends, and others whom I wish I knew better. Peter and I met Laura at her house, and we rode into Pennington, where we met Ricky G, Snakehead, Chris C, and Andrew. Just as we were leaving, Celeste rode in.

We did this route. I found it hillier than advertised (Laura's route page showed the elevation as 2272, lower than the 3042 I wound up with), and there was moderately hairy direction (we went about twenty feet on 206 in the direction against traffic), but it was a great day, a great ride, and I'm delighted I had a chance to hang out with some bike-y people and ride again.

The nominal reason for the ride was another stop at thee Factory Fuel coffee shop in Flemington.

It's a wonderfully alt-left place; the baristas are decorated with tattoos, ear gauges, and good cheer; there was a young lady out front of the farm market next door collecting signatures against Trump, and the inside of the farm market held (in addition to the farm stands) an aging band and stands with various homemade wares for sale (there was a driving cap that caught my eye; I may be back). Most of us ate and drank coffee in the sun.

The coffee-drinkers tell me the coffee is good (I went with an orange Pellegrino instead), and I can tell from personal report that the junk food there is certainly worth the working-off of the empty calories.

In lieu of the obligatory bikes pic, here's another look at that rack they've installed out front. They need to move it away from the wall a bit.

It is, of course, similarly warm and sunny today, but I didn't have another long ride in me. Instead, I went for one of my usual 20-milers at a sensible pace. Then I came home and fell asleep on the recliner... it wasn't even noon yet.

Later this week: a post about bringing the Ultra Geeky Linux Computer back from the dead when the hard drive died, and how, even if you can salvage files from the hard drive (I did), it doesn't help if one of the programs on which you've come to depend has upgraded to the point that the old format is no longer recognized. Grrr...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

finally back on a bike

I got an email from Tom about a ride on the rail at Tyler Park today. I didn't think I was going, until The Excellent Wife (TEW) made it clear this morning that she thought I ought to. "It's on a trail," she said, "if you get lost or fall off the back, you can just turn around and go back." TEW's ideas of trails are based on the D&R canal towpath; the Tyler Park trails are more like a network, but I don't think that was the point; I think the real reason for the suggestion was that she thought I needed to see some of my bike-y friends. And a case could definitely be made; I've been in a much better mood this afternoon than recently. I've been able to completely avoid the topic of recent politics (until just now... D'OH!).

I barely got the bike onto the car and on my way in order to make it in time, I was that sure I wasn't doing anything today. After a bit of worried navigation, I figured I was in the right place when I saw Chris C's truck, and, next to it, Tom's Subaru.

And, right about start time, Laura OLPH pulled up.

The three of them were on mountain bikes, and I was riding the Krakow Monster with hybrid tires, so I took heed of a quick lesson from Chris on snow and ice surfaces. Most of the trail was cleared, though.

It was a wintry day.

I decided to walk the bike up the steep, muddy/icy/snowy hill to the covered bridge. I am learning my limits.

Did I mention it was a wintry day?

I was surprised by the number of people out walking the trail, many with excellent-looking dogs (I wonder if there's a attractiveness quotient for dogs allowed into the park of a Saturday). Perhaps a future blog post will feature good-looking canines.

I've been worrying about whether I'd be able to keep up after the ankle injury two months ago, and bronchitis over the past month. Two bits of good news, then: first, neither the ankle nor the lungs posed particular problems. There were a couple of climbs* that did me in, but I think that was mostly just being out of shape (which I definitely am). (*It was probably the same climb twice; we did part of the loop two times - see the ride page.) Second, I was able to keep up with Laura, Tom, and Chris.

More important, though, was that I got to see some friends I have not seen. I think I've made it clear in these posts that a large part of my social life is tied to the bike. Having missed almost all of that for two months, including Christmas and New Year's, has added to a smidge of depression, I think. I'm much brighter today. I'm looking forward to getting out more with other riders: people I know well, and people I don't.

Near the end of the ride we stopped at a park building to engage in some plumbing. The melt-and-refreeze off the eave onto a picnic table was picturesque.

Later, TEW and I will be going on an early Valentine's date, where I hope to provide more jollity than gloom. I've had gloom enough (do you need any?)

(I do not love the look of that rear derailleur on the Monster. I think I'm low-key in the market for a prettier one. That one works. I got it, though, to prove that a really cheap component [which that is; it's a Shimano Altus] can do the job, and it does, especially with the friction shifting. But it's not a thing I love.)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

just sayin'

Now, I'll admit that my loyalties are suspect; I LIKED Clinton because she wasn't "liberal nice".

That said, the most recent Republican presidents have been George W and Trump... and along the way, they threw in Sarah Palin.

Is this the best they can do?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Do you remember that post about the Lunar Baboon comic from a couple weeks ago?

He posted another one.

Do you suppose the hair on that monster is supposed to remind you of anybody?