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.

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