Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Bike

I have a new bike. (Put air quotes around the word new.)

My step father found it for me and I couldn't turn down his thoughtfulness even though I'm not really interested in this type of bike. I'll make it rideable and have fun at it.

I picked it up during my trip to the homeland for Christmas. It's in pieces now and will remain that way until I get some motivation. I'm thinking of painting it or having it powder coated. I think a front basket would make it very useful.

Tell me if you have any ideas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Example of Time Wasting on the Web

Here’s a personal example of how the web can suck a reader into a bottomless pit. I’m sure you all have your own versions.

I receive a daily email newsletter related to my job – information security. The newsletter mentioned a new documentary on Court TV called “Tiger Team.” I searched for the Court TV schedule and clicked the link to open their site. I quickly found the section on specials that included the show I wanted to watch. The show is about a team of security specialists who are hired to find flaws in company’s security systems. They are sometimes referred to as penetration testers.

The description of the show provided by Court TV’s website used the the term “vérité.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up on the Merriam Webster website. The definition told me it’s a film technique that attempts to show things as candidly as possible. That wasn't enough for me, because I wondered if this included shows like "The Office."

I then performed a Google search for the term and came up with a Wikipedia entry for “cinéma vérité.” I read the entry (it wasn’t too long). The entry started off with the disclaimer saying the article is in dispute. So I read the entries on the page containing the disputed items. Because I read all the disputed items, I don’t know what “cinéma vérité” means. The film experts disagree on the term. They can’t even agree on which films exhibit the cinéma vérité stlye.

The question remains, what is it? But more importantly, has access to all this information helped me?

I feel more confused now then when I opened the newsletter. What was all this about?


I still want to know how to pronounce the term. Once I know how to pronounce it correctly, I can mockingly mispronounce the term.


With the Num Lock on, type Alt-130 on the numeric pad to get "é."

Consistent Weather is Good

Riding this week has been great. One of the reasons is that the weather has been consistent from day to day. Because of this, I know how to dress for the temperature.

Here's a photo of the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. This is at Bloomington Avenue where I've been entering the trail. For those of you who don't know this trail, it's a converted railway that runs East and West through Minneapolis. It leads to lots of other trails and is well traveled by cyclists.

After the Midtown Greenway Overpass (the bridge over Hiawatha Ave.) was built, it made sense for me to include this as a segment of my ride to work.

Does anyone know how many people ride this trail? I've heard of studies someone conducted recently and so I think this information is out there.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday HC Ride

The HC ride had a nice turn out this morning. We started with eight stalwart lads. I heard someone discuss the temperature -- they either said 68 degrees or 2, I couldn't quite hear them clearly, because my baklava blocked my hearing.

We stopped at a coffee shop in St. Paul. I had my first cup of coffee in a month. Wow! It was delicious.

Creative parking solutions

This is Lake Nokomis. The little black box on the lake is an ice fishing house. That looks fun. Do you sense sarcasm?

When winter is over, this bike will need some serious maintenance. Notice rust around the lugs and bottom bracket shell.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Celebrity Photo

The snow tongue was zero after this morning's ride. The streets and trails are in great shape.

While walking my kids home from school yesterday, I ran into a local cycling celebrity.

The camera flash shows he may have a reflective stripe tire on the rear. Is that a studded front, unstudded rear setup?

That sounds like a less burdensome setup than studs on both tires. Does anyone have an opinion on that?

SPAM Email Subject Lines

I just read an informative article about the source of spam email on the BBC website. I've read a few articles about bots, but I imagined a larger-scale system. The article shows how spamming is also a cottage industry. That sounds nice doesn't it?

The article tracks spam to it's source, at least in one case.

Of course, I receive spam email and some of the subject lines catch my eye. Here are a few of them and they are not safe for work.


"Hey cat dick!"
"Set your lassie on fire with your giant new rod!"

Insert your own Rodney Dangerfield-style comebacks to these, for extra fun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Terminology

The bike trails were plowed very nicely today. I rode in with a slight tail wind and I felt great. I had that feeling like a little kid zooming around.

I've always been fascinated by the little overhang of snow that forms on the front of front fender. I've posted photos of it before and they received as many comments as my rhododendron photos (not many).

Too bad! Here's another photo and I claim a new term: snow tongue. The snow tongue in the photo is about 5mm and indicates the trails were plowed really well. Last week, the snow tongue was so long (about 15mm) it fell off under its own weight, but quickly built up again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Promised Lego League Video

This is the video of the Lego League Tournament I took last weekend.

I found a way to reduce the file size. I opened the original file in Windows Movie maker and saved it in WMV format. That reduced the file size from 98 MB to about 2 MB. The quality is reduced also, but what do you want for nothin'?

Saturday HC Ride

I have no photos from today's HC ride. With all the shivering going on, I didn't think about digging out the camera. The temperature was about 0 degrees F. Seven riders made it and we had fun.

CRC Coffee Shop was closed so we went a block or so north to the Beanery or something like that. It's a nice place. They have plenty of room and good stuff to eat and drink.

Here's a photo of our gingerbread house project. My son had a birthday party last night (11 years old) and this is what he wanted to do. We built these and went sledding. None of the birthday guests wanted to leave the sled hill even though each one of them had at least one frozen body part. I think most of them got hurt once or twice also. But they always shake it off and sled again.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lego League Tourney

My son participates in Lego League. It's a tournament consisting of several events: performance, presentation, technical judging, and head-to-head lego bouts with other teams.

The performance events consist of the team running their lego robot through known missions while being timed. The missions are run on a table about the size of a ping pong table. Within 2 and half minutes, they try to complete as many missions on the table as possible. Each mission is worth some points. The point values vary with the mission. Some are more difficult than others.

The kids design and build the robots themselves to accomplish the missions. It's interesting to see the wildly varying styles the kids come up with.

The robots are based on Lego Mindstorm kits. The heart of it all is a programmable controller. The kids build the robot around the controller. They program the robot to move around the table and complete the missions. They program it while the controller is connected to a PC, then disconnect it and then run the mission.

Another part of the competition is the technical judging event in which they have to explain how they designed the robot and how they worked together as a team. I have the feeling the judges are watching this closely to get a feel for how much involvement the adults had. The judges ask lots of questions. This makes some of the kids pretty nervous.

Each year the tournament has a theme. This year it was alternative energy sources. Each team researches the theme, picks a specific topic within the theme, and gives a group presentation that is judged (scored). It's about 15 minutes long. Lots of nerves here too.

They also have head-to-head duels which are single-elimination matches.
The team completing the most missions in each duel advances to the next round. This is the most exciting part of the day. Here's a photo of the brackets shown on the overhead projector.

I recorded a 2 1/2 minute video showing a head-to-head match from start to end. The AVI file was 100 MB and it took about 30 minutes to upload. I don't know if it will appear here or not. After waiting 2 days to post this entry, the blogger editor still says "Uploading video ..."

If it appears, I'll repost a link to it, just in case anyone wants to see the video. And if someone has suggestions to improve my video posting abilities, let me know.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Miscelleanous Items

  • Everytime I look in the medicine cabinet I see this:

  • I installed platform pedals on my commuter bike the other day, because the bike shoes weren't warm enough. The boots shown below came with a label that said they were rated for -10 degrees F. Of course I didn't expect them to keep my feet warm to that temperature while cycling. However, I wish they worked at 10 degrees F above zero. My feet have been cold near the end of my ride to work over the past two days even with the boots, but not miserably so. I'm going to try and find some very thick wool socks. My current ones are medium thickness. Maybe I could use a complete sheep on each foot.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mendota Bridge

This is the Mendota bridge. It's the last bridge on the Minnesota River before it meets the Mississippi River. According to Wikipedia, Mendota means "meeting of the waters."

I like riding over it. It leads me to places that don't feel like city. Sometimes I need a break from city riding. City riding contains constant interruptions. When I ride this route, at least at this point and on the East side of the bridge, there are few interruptions.

I need to make sure I get in at least one of these rides a week.

Saturday Offroad Ride

I rode the trail at Theodore Wirth Park on Saturday afternoon. It was really lonely. I saw one other rider. The neighboring golf course was even deserted.

The trail maintainers added a section of obstacles. The park is built on a dump from very long ago. They used some of the old asphalt chunks from a road to build the obstacles. I rode this new section once and avoided it on later laps.

I didn't ride the obstacles again, because I kept thinking of crashing on an asphalt chunk. The last time I fell on asphalt my body hurt so badly that I can still feel it. I was showing my son that I could bunny hop a razor scooter. I launched a couple little jumps and then fell down.

It didn't look like much, but it hurt like much. I might have said a bad word that day.

Anyway, I took these photos to show the long shadows of late afternoon in the fall (via CreepyCam).

I bought a new CreepyCam and I'll take some underwhelming shots with it on this afternoon's ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

My daughter made this turkey hat for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lung Cookie Festival

I was sick last week and didn't ride. For some reason, blogging and riding go together for me. That's why I didn't blog last week. The antibiotics are working and I rode to work today. It was a festival of expectorant. You could probably track me from my house to work if you followed the trail of lung cookies and boogers. I think it's part of the healing process.

I brought a camera and decided to take dark time photos of the Midtown Greenway Bridge (over Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis). I took some daylight photos two weeks ago and I've posted those too. To top it all off, I took a video while riding over the bridge. All you people from out of town can see what it's like to ride over a $5,000,000 bicycle/pedestrian bridge. I'm not knocking the price of the bridge. In the big scheme of road construction, that's probably a small project.

I like blurry night photos.

That's not the moon.

Here's the video. As Leonard Pinth-Garnell would say, "Perfectly awful!"

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Hiawatha Bridge

I altered my route home yesterday to take in the new bridge over Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis. I planned to cross it during the grand opening ceremony that I heard was from 4 to 6 p.m.

That's the bridge in the distance. The CreepyCam is pathetic in a good way.

I arrived about 5 p.m. and couldn't cross, because the official ceremony was in progress.

I'll remember from now on that opening ceremony means "find another route."

I'll try again on my way home today.

This morning I brought a camera, but it was too dark to get any photos. So I tried anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Late Halloween Photos

Here are a few of my Halloween photos.

A friend who dresses convincingly as a witch.

Too much beer?

My son loves to decorate. You might have seen last year's vomitting pumpkin.

The gorilla and Mr. Hyde.

The gorilla with flash.

Miscelleanous Items

  • My bike shimmies with the new laptop bag, but at least it doesn't do the death wobble.
  • It's really nice to get on the bike and ride away in the mornings without hooking up the battery. The battery for my light sat in the main triangle and limited access to my water bottle and my front shift lever. Those annoyances are gone now that I have the dynamo hub. Are any of you Frank Zappa fans?
  • Riding in the fall is fantastic. Getting back to standard time is pretty good too for people who get up early.

Friday, November 02, 2007


This bike is loaded less than what it looks like. The orange pannier contains a well padded laptop and is very flat against he bike. The bag on top holds my work clothes (a loin cloth and a dagger). The right side of the bike is empty.

I have a brief case/pannier that broke yesterday afternoon. I may be able to fix it, but the point is that it held the laptop horizontally and the orange one holds it vertically -- meaning the orange one puts the weight lower on the bike. This should make the bike more stable right? At least that's what the touring know-it-alls say, "Weight mounted lower is more stable."

It's not true in this case, because I felt shimmies all the way to work this morning. They felt like they were coming from the rear end of the bike and traveling through the frame to my handlebars. I realize it was a magnification of my imperfect pedaling style.

Despite that it was a fun ride in. The temperature was about 8 degrees warmer than yesterday, making it just right.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Daughter Said ...

My eight-year-old daughter saw one of our women friends at a Halloween party the other night. The woman was dressed as a hillbilly. She wore overalls, blacked out a few of her teeth, and had her hair in pig tails.

My daughter looked up at her and asked if her nose hairs were part of her costume too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shimano DH3N70 Generator Hub Installation

I purchased a Shimano DH3N70 generator hub (correction: it's a DH3D71). It's a pre-built wheel from Hiawatha Cyclery. The price was good enough that it wasn't worth seeking a hub, rim, and spokes, then building the wheel myself. I bought it Saturday afternoon, strapped it to my bike, and rode home.

The hub is replacing the battery pack shown here. My current headlight, an Inoled, works with either power source. I will not have to plug the battery in for recharging ever again. I won't have to forget it ever again. The battery pack blocked access to my bottle cage too. No more of that.

Here's a photo of the wheel installed, but no wires are in place yet.

This shows the holes for the wires. At first, I was a little bit lost as to how the get the wires in there.

I found a PDF of the instructions for hooking up the light in a Google search. This looks like a lost Lego part, doesn't it? To remove it from the hub, you just pull it off. It only took a little strength.

It's a two-piece affair. I popped the two pieces apart by pressing a tiny screw driver into a slot on the back of this piece (the slot is not shown in the photo) and prying them apart with my fingernails.

Separated at last.

Then I fed the stripped wire ends into the holes and bent them over into the little channels shown here. At the point this photo was taken, I had only bent over one of the wires. After bending the wires, I snapped the black cap back onto it and plugged it into the fitting on the hub.

I rode it around in the daylight. From what I've read, some people claim that they notice the increased drag. Others say there is no noticeable difference. I couldn't tell during my quickie test ride.

I'll compare its brightness to that of the battery pack tomorrow morning. It'll be an easy comparison, because I can change the power source from the hub to the battery by plugging in the other wire.

Just for fun, I recorded a video showing the drag created by the generator hub. I compare it informally to a conventional hub. I'm not worried about the drag, but I thought it would be nice to show it, because the topic always comes up in conversations about generator hubs.

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