Thursday, July 27, 2006

Street Repair Examples

In a recent post I said I've found a difference in the quality of street repairs between Minneapolis and St. Paul. I took some decent photos today as examples using the Creep Cam. I realize my experiences are merely anecdotal. I am not sure why there seems to be a difference. I'm not sure anyone else cares. But here they are:

St. Paul manhole cover repair on Raymond Ave.

Minneapolis manhole cover on 42nd Street (thanks Ray)

Both of these repairs are at least a year old. The Minneapolis one was in this condition before summer. I like the Minneapolis repair, because the asphalt has flowed over one of the manhole covers. It's like they used black gummy bears to fill in the hole. They get an A for creativity. The St. Paul repair doesn't compare with regard to creativity. It's very square and even. I usually avoid manhole covers regardless of how smooth they are, but I ride over the middle of this one in St. Paul and don't even feel it. Where's the fun in that? I'd get some air off of the Minneapolis one, but it's located at a stop sign and I'd have to run it to get enough speed to catch air.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Longfellow's Statue

I ride by this statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow every few days. It's located in the upper part of Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. That's the part of the park built on a bridge over Highway 55.

I shouldn't really know where the statue is located, but I'm a cheater and I ride my bike on the trail that is clearly posted "NO BIKES." It's for pedestrians only. Too bad. It's the best way, other than riding on the road, to get through the jumble of trails and street crossings the city built in that area. They missed a great chance to route the bike path through the flower garden and under the bridge. It would have provided a carless crossing through the area for bicyclists and a bicycle-less crossing for auto drivers.

If you are interested in history and geography, check out the Wikipedia page for Minnehaha Park. I'm going to explore the park with my kids this weekend and try to find all the statues. I'll make it a photo scavenger hunt.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Street Repair Followup

I took some photos of street repairs with the Creepy Cam, but the quality of the photos is too poor to clearly illustrate the differences between Minneapolis and St. Paul street repairs. I'll try again with a better camera.

I think the photo below shows a street repair guy tamping the remains of a bicyclist into the hole as filler. They'll pave over the unlucky rider and we'll never know the difference as we roll over the pretty repair.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Quality of Street Repairs

Recently I've noticed a difference in quality between St. Paul and Minneapolis street repairs. My route to work includes many man-hole covers* sunken below the surface of the street. I think they put a new road surface over an old one and left the man-hole covers as they were.

Regardless of how they got that way, I try to avoid riding through them. In St. Paul, they've been replacing them with street-level covers. After the repair, the new asphalt perfectly matches the level of the old asphalt. The new asphalt is smooth and even. It's really impressive. Except for the color difference of the fresh black to the old gray asphalt, there is no way to detect the difference. If I were blind, I could ride over one of the St. Paul covers and never know it. That reminds me of another subject, riding with your eyes closed. I'll save that for another time.

In Minneapolis, the street repairs are pretty messy. The edges of the new asphalt and the old are not even. The new asphalt is often unlevel, lumpy, and uneven. I've been riding my bike to work in the Twin Cities for 12 years and this is a standout difference between the two cities. Maybe some photos are in order showing the differences.

* Man-hole covers: I think they're called something else now, but I can't recall what that term is. Using the new term would distract readers just as I've done by calling attention to it. I lose either way. Let me know if you have the correct term.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Things Found on the Road

I've found a few things while riding lately. Last week, I found a magnetic, yellow ribbon. I brought it in and stuck it to a coworkers file cabinet. He threw it at me. I stuck it to another guy's desk, he threw it at me. Those things hurt more than you think.

I also found a 12mm socket. It's really nice and doesn't have the roadside grind marks that most tools get when they lay in the traffic. If I keep my head down, I'll probably find an entire tool kit and maybe run into a parked car.

I displayed this flower, because I like it.

I Like Dogs Behind Fences

Hey all you runners, cyclists, and pedestrians what do you think when you see a dog like this running at you? Because of my latest obsession with the Creepy Cam, all I could think about doing was getting my camera out of my pocket fast enough to capture a photo of the dog. I missed the decisive moment, but it still reminds me of the fear I feel when a large, potentially menancing dog runs out. This dog was harmless after he got in few warning barks. The angle at which I took the photo makes it look like he's closer than he really was. He was in the act of backing off as I snapped the camera.

Saturday's Hiawatha Cyclery Ride

On my way to the Hiawatha Cyclery Saturday ride, I took a Creepy Cam photo of the the Lake Nokomis swimming area. Although it's difficult to see in the little photo, the beach across the lake was setup for the Life Time Fitness triathalon. I enjoyed riding around and watching the preparations.

I took some photos of the Brooks saddle display at Hiawatha. I doubt there are many shops with a better stock of Brooks saddles.

Here we are on the ride crossing the scenic Mendota Bridge.

Here's the same shot converted to black and white. Which do you like? Maybe neither.

Friday, July 14, 2006


A few of the latest pencam photos from my ride home two days ago.

A yellow curb: this photo proves the streets are ugly.

A guy "picking off" a recreational bicyclist: "Hey, buddy! Can't ya even return a hello?"

A gal riding her bike and avoiding eye contact with the creepy guy taking photos while he's riding his bike (that's me).

Pencam Fun

Sophzilla recently noted no pencams exist that use a memory card. I found one. It's the Aiptek SD 1.3. If you jump to their site, you'll have to navigate to pencams and then to that model. Anyway, it takes SD and MMC cards. There it is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not about the Scroll Wheel

I promise not to mention the scroll wheel in this post.

I dug out the pencams as promised in my last post. I was wrong. I have a Kodak, an Aiptek and a Cool I-Cam. The Kodak is unusable, because I can't get my PC to recognize it in any way. I worked for a while and gave up. Junk.

The Aiptek is a on the heavy side. I've carried it a couple of times in my jersey pocket, but it feels like I have the weight of a small apple hanging in there, for comparison sake.

The Cool I-Cam works. I can access its photos with my PC and they are spendidly poor. As a hero of mine once said, "deliciously awful."

Here are a couple of the Cool I-Cam shots for your disapproval.

A flower of some sort in our garden

Some kids on a swing set

A little kid soccer game

The sidelines of the soccer game (The color on this one is nice compared to the others.)

It's too bad the Kodak doesn't work. I bought it back when I had Windows 98 and it worked. The photos were much better than the Cool I-Cam. But Windows XP doesn't want anything to do with it. I downloaded the newest drivers from Kodak, but that didn't help. Perhaps I'll shop a bit for something with more quality than the Aiptek. Money is no object as long as it's less than $20. Big spender I am. My dad calls me Dusty Wallet.

My Scroll Wheel is Dry

I returned Monday morning to work and found my mouse thoroughly dry. My scroll wheel is working like a champ again. Yea for our team!

I recently found a group of cyclists who document their rides with pen cams, or spy cams. Some of you are familiar with these types of cameras. I did a little searching on pen cams and found I already own three of them: one tiny Kodak and two Aipteks.

As I looked through the cyclists photos, I was impressed by what I saw. I usually consider these cameras junky. I've used them and know their limitations. But when used with those limitations in mind, I think they can be useful.

I've noticed the number of photos I've taken recently has gone down dramatically since I bought my digital SLR. It takes great photos, but it's so big I don't carry it many places.

Tonight, I'll dig out the pen cams, load some fresh batteries, and see which one works best. Then I'll carry it on most bike rides, I promise. You may see the results here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

More on the Scroll Wheel

I just remembered something I forgot to mention in my previous post about killing my mouse. I thought I could dry it out by taking it apart. No luck. There are no screws like on the old ones. I remember when you could open up a mouse and clean all the dirty fuzz and bits out of there. It worked like new after a thorough cleaning. Although after cleaning the ickies out of there, I felt dirty, because I knew most of those fuzzies were mine.

During this recent mouse-wetting incident, I noticed lots of ugly stuff packed into the recesses of the mouse. I cleaned them out with the edge of a business card. I felt as if I were cleaning my ears with my car keys. Pretty disgusting to most people.

Do you clip your fingernails at work? How about your toenails?

Scroll Wheels are Cool

I just spilled water on my mouse. It's behaving very strangly now. The
scroll wheel is not responding anymore. It's quite frustrating. I can't believe how much I rely on the scroll wheel. I remember when I first started using it and I thought I'd never count on such a gimic.

When the water dries, I'm sure it will work correctly again. I once spilled Mountain Dew on my keyboard. The keys were sticking within a few minutes. That was at previous employer's place and I had to submit a help-desk ticket to find out I had to submit a hardware request that needed to be approved by my boss. I finally swapped keyboards with the machine sitting in the unused contractor cube. I'm so naughty.

The fact that I miss the scroll wheel got me thinking. I used to think it was a gimic and now I'm frustrated without it. I wonder what other gimics I'm overlooking. Cell phones? MP3 players? Man-boob implants?

Denver is Similar to Twin Cities

While in Denver last week I realized the Twin Cities and Denver share many similarities. I wouldn't mind living in either city. (That's a funny way to compliment something.)

Denver has a really nice, clean, busy downtown. It has a mall-style street like Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. But Denver has free buses traveling on the mall instead of Minneapolis' non-free, loud, stinky busses. The Denver buses run on some sort of hybrid power that is pretty quiet and didn't emit the plumes of black exhaust I see from the Minneapolis busses.

We found lots of nice restaurants in downtown Denver. We went to Six Flags (on the edge of downtown Denver). We attended a Rockies baseball game at Coors field. All the Denver sports stadiums are downtown or at least on the edge of downtown.

The day we got back home, my daughter setup a play area underneath her drawing easel and she put a bunch of toys under it. But I didn't see a theme to her play area. It's usually obvious what she's playing: Polly Pockets, Ponies, etc. But not this time. When I asked her what she was playing, she told me she was homeless. She played homeless for about an hour. I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Summer Vacation

We just returned from a vacation. I had a few chances to ride with some friends. They live in Steamboat Springs, CO and it was great.

I loved riding in the mountains. I rode a friend's mountain bike and rode myself into the ground. Then I rented a road bike and rode myself into the pavement. I love the hills and mountains. I'm a lousy descender, but the uphills are what it's all about. I need to ride somewhere like that more often. I hope I'm not too disappointed with my little ride to work tomorrow.

While riding down a mountain road, I encountered speed wobble. I've run into it before and it's really frightening. I locked my knees onto the top tube and slowed down. I've been able to induce it on most of my road bikes in the past. I think I'm made to create speed wobble. When it happened the other day, my confidence was shot on the downhills.

If you've got a speed wobble story, let me know.

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