Friday, December 23, 2011

The hunt continues

I usually use Blogo to build my blog posts, on those rare occasions when I actually do post something. But today I notice that there's an error reported now. Following up on that, I learned that Blogo won't run under Lion, the next upgrade to Mac OSX.

So it has to go.

Now I'd like to have $40 to spend on MarsEdit, but earlier this year I tried it and for some reason, ended up with Blogo instead. I tried to try it out again, but MarsEdit remembers that I tried it already and won't let me have a second attempt.

I won't put out $40 so easily, so now I'm trying Ecto. Pardon me if there's silly images posted; IIRC, ease of image posting is why I went with Blogo in the first place.

So here's a pointless image, for testing purposes:


OK, that wasn't too hard.

Thanks for watching...

Flies like...

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

Real Life interfered with posting, as happens even to the unemployed.
First was the trip to Roseburg to lend aid to my sister. Then Thanksgiving. Then cold weather. And December seems to have happened, too. No bike rides in all that time.
And no plausible excuse in sight. Oh, sure, it was cold, but not cold-cold! If I can ride at 50°, I should be able to ride at 45°, right?
Yes, the bronchitis (now on its fifth week) could, in theory, have made riding the bike unpleasant, but I didn't try it so I don't know.

Instead, I set myself a "100 things" challenge. Not the one from the book and the web pages; my own version. I won't be reducing my personal items until they number a mere 100. Instead, I am starting easy and making a list of 100 things I can get rid of.
Just as when I gave up all my unpainted wargame figures, I feel as though I'm being given back time I'd felt should be allocated to those hobbies.

So far I've sent away all the polymer clay: supplies, tools, oven, and pasta roller. That felt pretty good.
I have a slide projector and a few carousels to part with, as well as some art that I will never hang on my limited wall space. (more on that later)
I'm ready to part with the Delta bench planer, the vacuum system, and a band saw. Add the Japanese mortise chisels, the skew chisels, and a few wood planes, and I'm doing well.
But the biggest step so far has been the dismantling of my model railroad. If you count the building kits, the engine, the cars, the scenery, the wiring and controls, and the entire 5' by 9' layout, it's a huge step. And I now have 16' feet of wall space to hang art!

I will also part with the nice Trek mountain bike, the binoculars, a few camera bags, and a pile of railroad books and magazines.

I feel so much better!
Now if I could just kick this cough, maybe I could get out on the road bike before it snows...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Reflexes Rule

It's all about the reflex action on a bicycle.
I crashed today because my first action was mental rather than physical.
I was pedaling the mountain bike up a gravelly alley when there was a "thunk" and the pedals spun free.
Here's where the wrong reflex cost me. I looked down to see what happened.
In the time it took to look down and think "oh, damn, the chain has gone," I had come to a stop and was falling sideways. It was too late to get unclipped and I rolled into the gravel.

Looking back, it would have better to unclip as soon as there was a problem (the reflex) and THEN look to see what it was.
I wasn't hurt; I'd already stopped. It was less a "crash" than it was a Laugh-In tip over.
And of course, being a guy, the first thing I did was jump to my feet and look around to see if anyone saw me fall.
No one did, so I was safe.
I walked back and picked up the chain, wrapping it around the seat post for the long walk home. Three miles in mountain bike shoes. <sigh>

And before you ask, yes I had a chain tool in the tool kit. But without my glasses, there was no way I could see well enough to work on the chain on a cloudy day. And therein lies a second flaw in my preparation for bike rides: there's not much point having the tools with you if you can't see to use them.

So work on those reflexes. Unclip first, automatically. Then look around.
Look before you leap. Or crash, as the case may be.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finished the 50-miler!

I wrote before about superstitions. This time, the word is "luck".
I was packing for the Tour de Whidbey and remembered the blown tube I had yesterday. I don't usually carry a tube on the road, but I had bought two of them, so I figured "why not?".
I'd finished the first big climb and the rear tube blew. The pry-bars I'd packed (at the last minute) don't work with my road tires. I didn't know that, obviously, but I do now. I eventually got the thing changed, inflated, and reassembled.
Even with the tire trouble, I finished the ride in 4 hours, faster than I had planned. I am afraid that I succumbed, on occasion, to pushing harder than normal if there was a rider in sight in front of me, but I finished and that's what counts.

Here's a pic or two:

Early start, long shadows.

First rest stop, Langley, WA.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Not superstitious

It's a good thing I'm not the superstitious type.
I went out this morning for a light "loosen up" ride. I intended to just cruise for an hour or so to keep my legs limber for the 50 miler tomorrow.
I had hardly begun when I noticed that the cadence transmitter wasn't working. No problem, I have spare batteries in the box at home; I can just swap it out when I get back.
On a fast downhill at about mile 5, I hit a rock. I never saw it, but I felt and heard it. I was doing about 25mph. At the bottom of the hill, I was going to turn around and climb back up. As I angled across the road to make the u-turn, I nearly crashed.
The front tire was flat.
I walked the bike a way along until I could find a comfortable place to sit and work on the tire.
I got it all apart and put the air cartridge into the nozzle, squirting some air into the tube. Bad news. The leak was under a patch from a couple of hundred miles ago. No way to fix it.
I have a cell phone but no one to call today, so I had to hoof it back home, a little under 3 miles walking the bike. It's a good thing I still have my mountain bike shoes with the thick rubber tread.

Along the way, I spotted a crow feather in the weeds. I like crows (sorry Cousin Tony) and thought I'd add the feather to my collection.
Instead of turning around, I just walked backward a bike length. That was the plan.
When you walk a bike backwards, the pedals turn. The pedal caught my ankle, I jumped, lost my balance, and the bike and I went down.
Nice feather, though.

Now I have a nice new tube in the front and a spare in the under-seat bag. Plus TWO air cartridges.

Tomorrow is the ride. Heading up the island at 7am, hope to be on the bike by 8am and done with the 50 miles before 1pm.

Check back this weekend to see if I made it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3 Days to Go

Saturday is the big day, though it seems less big now than a month ago. The "Tour de Whidbey" is on 9/24 and I'm signed up for the 50 mile southern loop.

I told my pen pal that I was no longer as fired-up as I was about the ride. She suggested I was preparing myself to fail by lessening the importance of the ride.
For once, I think it's something else entirely.

In fact, I don't anticipate any difficulties at all.
I learned that the articles are correct: riding every day is better than every other day. If I don't go out, I put the bike on the trainer and pedal up a sweat.
I went out today and rode for 2.5 hours and though I drank both bottles of water (it was warm out, 64F according to the handlebar computer), I still was 1.5 lbs lighter when I got home.

I tested out a handlebar mount for my iPod, thinking to lighten the load on my helmet (the alternative mount). A brief test revealed that the audio is totally trashed on the bar mount. I suspect it's the styrene foam I used as padding in the mount. I think it's squeaking as the vibration moves the case against the cheap foam.

For the Saturday ride, I'll put it back on my helmet. I like the shock absorbing power of my own neck better than the bar mount, and the iPod only weighs an ounce or two. And I can turn and look at the scenery which has to improve the video a bit.

Not that I expect anyone to see it, but I'd like to learn a bit more about video editing.
Wish me luck, folks!

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Review of Kodak P570 Personal Photo Scanner, 5 x 7 inch Photos, 600dpi Resolution, USB 2.0

Originally submitted at Adorama

Kodak P570 Personal Photo Scanner, 5 x 7 inch Photos, 600dpi Resolution, USB 2.0

Scan that shoebox of photos...

By Old Mike from Langley, WA on 9/5/2011


4out of 5

Pros: SD memory card, Easy to use, Great color

Cons: Can't if card is full

Best Uses: Getting old pix scanned

Describe Yourself: Casual User

Primary use: Personal

Computer Platform: Mac

I sit on the floor with a box of photos on one side, the scanner on the other. When the box is scanned, I pop the SD card (a 2Gb card holds about 2,000 pix) into the computer, rename the scans, and put them in their own folder.
Erase the card.
Repeat. Ad infinitum.
Do use the protective sleeves provided. It keeps the dirt and "stickum" from photo albums out of the mechanism.
I've only had a couple of mis-scans in 2500 photos, issues with the software mistaking the edge of the photo.
In all, excellent value for the money.
Take it on the road visiting grandparents, get those old pix into the digital age. You don't even need the computer with you, just a stack of 1GB SD cards.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gearing-up for Tour de Whidbey

I know you're excited about this. I sure am.
Three weeks until the Tour de Whidbey!
I've never ridden a 1/2-century before. I'm looking forward to it.

Sure, once a long time ago these two young coworkers invited Jim and I to "go for a bike ride" with them. We drove up to Mission San Jose and unloaded our bikes. I had been riding 5-8 mile flat pieces, just enough to recapture the youthful feel of freedom on two wheels one enjoys before getting a driving license.
We rode through Niles Canyon then lit South to climb over the hills into the backside of Milpitas.
The two young guys rode away from us in a heartbeat. Jim and I walked our bikes for a couple of miles uphill. On the downhill, we hooked up with them again just as they were finishing their hamburgers at the golf course. We kept up with them into Milpitas, but they got ahead as we turned north.
We didn't see them again until one of them had a puncture. Of course, neither of them had spares, tools, patches, etc.
We did.
We repaired the tire, they rode off, we never saw them again.

Past history.
My recent riding history is nearly as dismal. In 2000, I rode a fair amount. Some mountain bike, some road bike. Mostly before work, 10-15 mile dashes.
In 2010, I rode a couple of times, logging perhaps 40 miles total.
This year? Ah, I'm so proud of this year. I rode 44 miles this MORNING. I rode Langley - Bayview - Greenbank Farms - Freeland - Langley. It took 3hrs 15 minutes, so not too slow. 2200 calories.
Thursday I put in 32 miles.
That's almost 400 miles since mid-TourDeFrance when I got my bike out.
Six weeks of riding.
Three more to go. I'm pretty sure I can do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3rd day in a row

I'm not sure I've ever ridden a "real" bike ride three days in a row. But I suspect I've reached that weird (and fabled) point where riding is the high point of my day.
It used to be cooking dinner.
I'm sure dinner will return to priority as soon as the weather turns cold.

I rode my regular loop. That's how I feel about it now. It's 25 miles and covers the Scatchet Head, Ewing, and Bayview climbs.
I pushed a bit harder than usual and I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I covered the route in 100 minutes, down from 135 for the last round!

My back aches a bit, probably because I used arms and back on a couple of stretches to get more power to my legs.

My doctor this morning tells me I am still anemic, possibly a bone marrow thing. I don't care. My LDL is dropping, the HDL climbing very quickly. Good, but I don't much care about that, either.

I care that my bike got all muddy, that I got some mocha Clif-shot on the handlebars
I gotta figure out how to keep riding when the rain returns.
Is that wrong?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What part of the brain?

What part of the brain makes your legs stop pedaling when you most need them to keep going?

Yesterday I did not feel like riding the bike, but it'd been two days off already, so I got on, vowing to take an easy ride. My back hurt and my quads were complaining.
I rode easily through Langley (avoiding the traffic from the Island County Fair) and got as far as Bayview and Half-Link Bikes (closed Sundays).
I got off and sat down. Pooped. I thought I'd maybe ride out the flat part of Bayview toward Sunlight Beach. As I crossed Highway 525, I hit a tiny tiny tiny uphill and my legs just stopped turning! "Why?" I yelled in my mind. A few more turns and I was onto the flat.
Why do my legs stop like that? I assume some part of my brain has leaped down the path that includes thoughts like "This is stupid. Why do this? It hurts. Stop pedaling. Walk." and just short-circuits straight to the "stop pedaling" command.
I can always override it, but how do I get into control of that reflex? How do I skip right to the "keep pedaling" bit?

Anyway, I felt better motoring out Bayview, so I took the little uphill, thinking I'd see what Ewing Road looks like from the other side. It wasn't too hard. I hit Maxwelton, figured I take the single hill there and almost be home.
Then I remembered that Campbell Road connects to Cultus Bay Road, even closer to home. I've never even driven Campbell, so feeling good, I hung a right.
And came face to face with a very nasty climb! Cadence dropped to about 50rpm in Granny Gear, HRM telling me I was at 90% of maximum, the point where breath is raging in and out of the mouth at a very high rate.
And it just kept climbing. My excuse is that I didn't know how bad it was going to be. My point of pride is that I haven't had to walk a hill yet this year.

I got home at last and read a mere 800 calories burned for 18 miles. That seems unfair somehow.

Today I went out again, determined to ride an easy day. So with a sense of fair play, I rode Campbell the other direction. I might have gone down more quickly, but the road was covered with leaves (rain is due and the wind was blowing), so I kept on the brakes a bit more than usual. Visions of Tour de France crashes over the guard rail were playing behind my eyeballs.
Speaking of which, I'm currently fired-up about making a video of some of these rides! I watched a video showing how to make your own (cheap) camera mount for the handlebars; then I read that Cisco has dropped the Flip Video camera line. They can still be had cheaply (about $80). Cisco claims business went flat with the popularity of smart phones; maybe so, but I'm not hooking an iPhone to the handlebars.
How can you beat 2 hours of HD video for $80?

Anyway, my ride today was 18 miles, 900 calories.

But I'd sure like to shut off that "stop pedaling" pathway in my mind.
Any ideas?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saratoga Road Ride

We've lived on Whidbey for more than 8 years now, and the one road that has always seemed like a "killer" road for cycling is Saratoga Road between Langley and Freeland along the east side of Whidbey Island.

I guess it was inevitable that I try it.

I cycled into Langley this morning and headed out toward the Chocolate Farm and the little park. The first couple of hills served to get me well warmed-up, the HRM showing I was running about 152 beats per minutes. For my age, the 100% level is 160.

The climbs (two major ones) weren't as bad as I had feared, helped by being content to just keep the pedals turning. In my lowest gear (29 gear-inches), I could only make about 50rpm.
I'd say the only negative part of the climb is that the shoulder is almost non-existant. The line at lane's edge is in some places only a few inches from the weeds.

I took a break in Freeland at the park, stretched and ate, and came back over Goss Lake road. This, too, seems to be getting easier. Lone Lake, Andreason, Bayview, Langley, and home. Twenty-nine miles.

I've marked the route in two-tone red, the stronger colors marking the uphill.
It's a good ride, not as scary as I'd feared.
You can't ask for more than that. And I hit 44mph on the downhill!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Riding uphill

Every year, I watch the Tour de France. I would hear about climbs of 6%, 8%, etc. That means, of course, a slope of X feet per hundred. I thought that a climb of 6 feet in 100 was not so steep.

I was wrong.

The first hill I'm showing here climbs 180' in 3000'. That's 6%.
Here it is, the Scatchet Head road seen from Bailey Road (on Whidbey Island, WA):

I know that slopes are hard to show on a photo, but trust me on this: it's steep.
Happily, it's only 1 kilometer long. The TdF guys ride this slope for as much as 18km, and they finish at 9,000' elevation: very thin air!

I also tackle this climb, up Goss Lake road. Similar slope.

Why do I do this? I sometimes wonder.
The Tour de Whidbey is September 24. These two hills part of 50-mile southern loop I hope to ride. There are about four hills like this on that part of the tour.
I've ridden the entire loop piecemeal, saving the full 50 miles as a target "on the day"

I just thought you might like to know.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bicycling on Whidbey Island

If you've ever even driven around Whidbey Island, you know that there are precious few flat stretches of road. Certainly not as in Silicon Valley where I first began to ride a bike seriously.
Well, I say seriously, but I mean that there I sometimes commuted to work from Campbell to Palo Alto, a humble 17 miles. I could do that in under an hour.
That was 10 years ago now.

Up here on Whidbey, I rode a couple of times last year (after 8 years without riding) and was pooped after an 8-mile loop.
This year, during the Tour de France, I took my old Trek into the local bike shop (LBS), a nice place called "Half-Link Bicycles" in Bayview. My old Shimano RSX shifters had packed up after years of sitting idle.

Now, though, they are almost back to normal. Last Friday I rode 37 miles, including major climbs over Scatchet Head, Lancaster Road, and Goss Lake. A hard ride, right at 3 hours.
I took Saturday for the Coupeville Art/Craft show, Sunday to nap, and yesterday took a short recovery ride from Langley down to the Clinton Ferry dock, back up the hill, into Langley and home. Just 12 miles and one climb.

Today, though, I broke the trend and rode a second day in a row. It turns out I'm getting grumpy on days I don't ride.
So I rode out Cultus Bay, over French, up Bailey, and over Scatchet Head. This time, instead of going up Maxwelton to Ewing, I took a chance on Sills Road. It's a long steady climb but not a killer. Back to Bayview, where I tried to catch two older guys (older than I, if you can imagine), but they were in better shape and I lost them on the Brooks Hill climb. I just could not spin that fast on the grade.
I guess I need more training still.
Good thing I like to ride!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weather Synchronization

Sometimes a person may feel out of sync with the weather. No one talks about that. All we hear is "Spring Fever", "Winter Blahs", "Summertime Fun".
Is there any sympathy for those who feel the opposite of the norm for the weather? Where is the support for people who are depressed by sunshine or invigorated by rain?

Today I feel like one of those people. Of course, I neither look for nor expect sympathy; I'm a little too grown up, a little too familiar with the way the world works to waste any time on those foolish desires.
I had to go for a walk while the sun was out. It's a rare thing and not to be wasted merely because I'd rather be sitting on the deck in a funk.
I can't say that the walk helped, but now my legs are tired so that's something.
I guess.
Frankly, I'd rather walk in the rain than in the sun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Old photo

Once upon a time, a cousin of mine (Luigi Tassano) ran a "dry goods" store in San Francisco. Opened in 1914, the store was eventually run by Luigi's son Romeo. It was still going in 1980 according to Herb Caen.
I ran across this photo of the place, with the employees posed in front. It must have been taken in the 1920s, or maybe a bit later.

I eventually tracked down the actual address and went there. Here's what it looked like in 2001.

I took the old photo to the woman in the May Lee Laundry, and through hand gestures and smiles, managed to indicate that the photo was of the same place.
I'm not sure why I feel it necessary to post this here, today. Maybe the rain is making me nostalgic, a dangerous (or at least wasteful) thing in anyone.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My grandmother's enterprise

I fear I've never been too aggressive when it came to making money.
I LIKE money, and always wanted more, but somehow it never came to the top of the list of things I needed to do.
I ran across an old photo of my grandmother and one of her enterprises:

There are some days when I'd settle for a seasonal profit of any size. But it's always work, isn't it? Just look at the faces of these two kids. Are those expressions of Joy? Do they look like the faces of people having fun?

Increasingly, I find I must remind myself that it's not money I'm here for.
If it was, surely I'd have more of it?

As an hour-by-hour thing, I ask myself if I'd rather be doing something else.
The answer is almost always "no".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

General photoshop play

OK, I have an ego. In my defense, I suspect that everyone has one.

I just play around with mine a bit. No harm in that, right? A bit of Photoshop work melding a face from the Mac's built-in camera, and there you go.

I decided that as long as I'm interested in late 19th century history, I should have an image of myself that is appropriate for the age.
Of course, I couldn't stop there. How about a cowboy picture, in the style of the 1950's western movies?

Here, same process but a screen grab from a Hulu western:

Marginal Success

Not the best kind of success, but acceptable.

For some reason, Qumana gave me an error last night, but this morning, the post is on the site. That does not give me what is technically referred to as a "Warm Fuzzy".

Is that target too high?Tags: ,

Powered by Qumana

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trying Qumana

Well, Blogo seems to work, but it's $25. I was mistaken in the previous post. That's OK, no one sees this anyway...

This is Qumana. A bit weird in the UI area, but we'll see.

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Yet Another Blog tool: Blogo

Fed up with trying to get MarsEdit to log in, I'm moving on to other apps.
Blogo. Free.

Fighting new software

I like the idea of MarsEdit to let me post an entry with images I can preview here. But it's fighting me.
I hate that. Why does it want both access password and HTTP password?
Not clear, but if it's because this is an evaluation copy, I'll be angry they don't make it clear.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

another thing

Another of the thousand great things must be cheap wine in large bottles.
Oh, sure, there was a time when I believed that "life is too short to drink cheap wine", but it turns out that life lasts a little longer than I thought. It certainly lasts longer than my budget for wine, so do I get 1 glass a day of good wine, or 1/2 liter of cheap wine?
No one is here to criticize, so I'm going for the jug from the grocery store.
Easily one of the 1000 good things.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My own 1,000 things

I just watched the Awesome presentation on;
The speaker is the man who put up "1,000 awesome things" blog site. It's a good talk. I'm going to try to put his Attitude/Awareness/Authenticity into practice. And at least for a while, I'm going to try to find my own 1,000 things that make me happy.

First that comes to mind is heat: I have electric heat, gas heat, and wood heat. I don't have to be cold if I don't want to be. The temperature is below freezing and there's snow on the ground. I am warm.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm trying something new, a bioblog. I'll try a sort of one-page advertisement for myself as a demonstration and summary of what I think I can provide in the way of document creation.
For me, it's more than just technical writing. Providing a customer with "documentation" includes an understanding of what the customer needs from the software; it may also include document design: templates, font selection, and some skill in designing a document that can be served as PDF, as HTML, DocBook, or context-sensitive help.
And one should not forget that selection and manipulation of images, screen shots, and other illustrations is part of the full package.
It's a LOT more than just writing.

Of course, since I am skilled at all of these things, I have a clear bias. I think I am the one to do all of this for a customer. I don't say I'm the _only_ one, of course.
That would be egotistical.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I am not alone

Among all the myriad other reasons I believe I'm part of a large crowd, I find myself at the start of another year vowing to post more often. So does everyone else.
I am normally not given to "New Year Resolutions", preferring instead to spend January 1 just doing what I wish to do more of in the coming year, and avoiding what I want less of from it.
I try to read and wargame and cook, but skip cleaning the gutters and vacuuming the house.
I would, however, really like to post more entries online, especially as I am keeping the wargame table assembled full-time now.
In a follow-up to what I see was my last post, I once again failed to complete the NaNoWriMo effort in November to write a complete novel in a month. That time, I got to about 16,000 words before I lost interest. And if it doesn't interest me while I write it, no one else will care about it either.
Nuff said.