Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Retrospective 1.9

Earth Say Cleanup At Sals
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
In between Moab and North Carolina was Earth Day, when Doug organized a trash cleanup at Walking Purchase Park (aka "Sals"), which is unfortunately a prime spot for illegal dumpers. This photo was from the start of the day; by the end of the day we were considerably less fresh but we'd pulled two full dumpsters of trash, and about 100 tires out of the woods.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nice Day!

Right now I'm sitting in the Dimmick Library in downtown Jim Thorpe. Anne and I came up here this morning and did a hike up Glen Onoko, then grabbed lunch and came over here -- she's doing research for her latest writing project, and I'm goofing off on Teh Internets...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Recent Events

Just hanging out right now, waiting for the vet to open...

Went out last night to Anne's brother's house in Belle Mead for her family's Christmas gathering. I was the new guy there, though I did know a few of her relatives from Thanksgiving: plenty of brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins playing Guitar Hero in the basement etc, it was a pretty cool evening. Diner was Thai meatballs plus lots of other stuff, and dessert was cake and cookies. Coffee, Pictionary, a gift exchange, much fun but by about 8:00 we all were pretty glassy-eyed (though the kids were still all going strong), and things started to break up. We hit Brew Works for a nightcap after getting back to Bethlehem.

This morning we heard some rustling, like the dog was messing with something. Anne got up and I heard all sorts of commotion: Langston had found a giant Hershey's Kiss and ate it, about 10 oz of milk chocolate -- not enough to kill him but he probably had poisoned himself, and he sure looked very pleased with himself too, which only made the whole thing even more exasperating...

Some Googling of "dog" and "chocolate," a talk with the emergency vet, and a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (which didn't work), and now we're just waiting to take him to the regular vet, who actually has hours on Sunday. Not sure what the story will be: symptoms of chocolate poisoning include over-excitability, but he's sleeping under the table right now...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Retrospective #2: North Carolina

Originally uploaded by donXfive.
This was from the second road trip of the year, down to Western North Carolina (just below Asheville), with a bunch of the VMB trailwork regulars in late April. Me, Doug & Eric, Rich, Bob, Dave and Greg, a rented house down the street from the National Forest, and lotsa beer. Good times!

Retrospective #1: Moab

Looking back at 2008... This was from my first vacation this year, Moab and Fruita with Rich (left), Brian (middle) and John C who took the picture. It seems like years ago now, but it was only 8 months (and 10 pounds) in the past.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

A Christmas Scene
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Well here it is -- at last, or already? -- Christmas Eve. I'm sitting here at Wired, fooling with the laptop and enjoying some coffee. All, or almost all, of my shopping is done, there is snow on the ground though it's currently raining, and we're just easing into the day after Anne's holiday party last night.

Said party was a total blast: a few of my friends, a few of hers, some friends of her son and daughter, Corsendonk and Delerium Tremens and Weyerbacher (and homemade ginger ale and hard cider), and acres and acres of food... The theme was "Fabulous Shoes," but the real theme was probably "comfort food:" I made chili, Anne made chicken and mac & cheese, and Emmi & Ben made sushi and bread, and everyone brought all sorts of stuff. The party itself, aside from the food, was awesome, lotsa good times.

There have been other parties as well: the photo is from the Chain Gang Christmas Party, held at Joe & Dawn's and also awesome. I forgot how much fun my friends can be...

Anyway, now we're just hanging out. It's just past Bottom Dead Center for the year, and we're going to check out a holiday/solstice pageant tonight, Quaker kids singing followed by a potluck dinner.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Right Here In Christmas City!

Monocacy Creek
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
That's a shot I took today, while walking from Anne's house over to Main Street to meet her at Wired Cafe. The Monocacy (and the original Moravian settlement, aka the "Colonial Industrial Area") divides her neighborhood from that part of town. It was a beautiful snowy day, so I brought the camera along...

Later, I walked over to Southside for an Eskandalo haircut, but the snow had turned to rain and that wasn't so beautiful. Still, the ground is now white and it definitely that "Christmas In Merrie Olde England" look that Bethlehem can get.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Time Flies

Anne and I were walking the other day and for some reason Mike Kucher came up, some story or other, and I was trying to figure out how long it was since he'd passed away. Well here's the old blog to the rescue, because I wrote about it back when it happened, or rather just afterward. Hard to believe, but it's been 5 years. (More about Mike here and here.)

I mentioned Mike's "Cancer-Free For 5 Years" party in that December 2003 post, saying it was two years earlier; that would make the party seven years ago, or the summer of 2001 -- the same summer we (the Chain Gang) went to Downieville, which seems like a long time ago, but nowhere near as long ago as that party...

That party was at Danny M's house, and was probably the last time I saw him and his family, whom I hadn't seen for probably five years before that -- they had four kids including a teenager, and before that I remember her mostly as an infant... I wonder how they're doing now, he was a seriously loyal GM engineer for as long as I've kept in touch.

An Amusing Incident At A Long-Ago Party: At Danny's party for Mike, some totally unfamiliar young woman walks up and, pointing her very pregnant belly at me, says "Hi! Remember me?" Gaaaa!

Turns out it was Steve S's younger sister (name escapes me once again, though I remember older sister Elena), married for a year or two, and expecting their first child, and looking very different from the last time I saw her.

By the way, this is what I wrote around this time in 2004, ditto 2005, and 2006, and 2007. A retrospective, haven't done one of those in a while.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Well It's A Start

The winter's tale
Originally uploaded by ChickadeeD (Carole).
We got a little more snow last night, nothing to speak of though -- the grass is white but that's about it. I posted a picture of the falling snow, but this photo isn't it, just something interesting I saw...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Vacation!

Well, I'm done with work for the rest of this year, not going back until January 5th. Sweet1 I don't really have any plans, maybe ride Sals on the singlespeed tomorrow morning then play on the computer, set the pattern for the rest of the week... Anne's working, so I don't feel like, say, making travel plans anyway

The Turner is in the bike shop, getting the front brakes worked on, I've got octave up and running (and playing nicely with emacs & gnuplot) and my next task -- upgrading the home computer -- is on schedule. Things are pretty mellow right now, and except for Christmas shopping, I really have nothing to do...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tokamak A-Knock You Out, Jackalope Knock You Out

Morning weigh-in: 174#, 10% BF
Imagine: RIP John Lennon, killed on this date in 1980.
Amazingly beautiful sunrise on the way in this morning, all pink solar towers and such, and the undersides of the clouds -- the sky mostly had a roof of cloud, except just over where the sun was coming up -- were lit up with orange and pink. The show did not last long though, when the sun got as high as the clouds the day went gray. But it was good while it lasted.
Oh Noes! This is the kind of reporting that hits you right in the, ah...
Medical Taylorism: Sure it will save lives, but how will it be received?
Yesterday was mostly hanging out and playing with the computer (though I also managed to replace the rear brake pads on the Turner and also find I need new parts for the front brakes): I managed to find and install qCAD, which looks enough like AutoCAD to make it worth trying out I hope, and I also installed Gnuplot and a few other things that make octave work better. Tonight is yoga.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Did a lot of chores and errands yesterday, including some house cleanup and some clothes buying, but that wasn't the dramatic part of the day...

We were down on Main Street at Wired Cafe yesterday afternoon when we noticed sirens and commotion outside. A few minutes later a wave of people came into the (already crowded) cafe, with the news that the Bethlehem Brew Works, where they'd been eating, was on fire and they had all just been evacuated. Anne bumped into a friend, one of the bartenders; she said that it was a kitchen fire, and that no one was hurt or anything, probably just smoke damage. The jinx has struck again, one of our favorite places will probably be closed for a while, hopefully they (and the other businesses in their building) won't be out of commission for too long.

Our plan was to go from Wired to Easton, to meet up with Sally & Joe, and with Judy, who were all at the various art openings going on. We went to the Colonial for dinner, but first we had to get from Bethlehem to Easton in the first real snowfall of the year: lots of slipping and sliding, crashes; we couldn't take US22 because of some huge accident so it was all back roads but we made it.

Dinner at the Colonial was filling but that's about it, supposedly they're under new ownership but the menu (and recipes, and limited beer selection) are the same -- a decidedly mediocre experience thought the place is nice enough.

We got one more blast of drama though, when a domestic dispute erupted at a nearby table: father, mother, adult daughter, the father started dropping some f-bombs, trying (and failing) to keep himself under control; he then vowed to kick some guy's ass and stormed out. Uncomfortable silence, then the mother/daughter left. We saw them through the window saying goodbye; after the daughter walked off the father, still in "berate" mode, came from nowhere to join the mother and they walked off in another direction, tension between them visible from 50 yards away.

After dinner we went to the bar downstairs, where we met Judy and Ed and a bunch of Easton's art people, and Joe & Sally came down from dinner at Porters. There was a band, but the band was about the same level of quality as everything else there and we left.

Anne houseguests last night, as her sister and brother-in-law were trapped in Bethlehem by the snow -- they sell stuff at Christkindlemarkt but live in Tamaqua and couldn't make it home.

So that was a very full Saturday!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Good Old Days

Originally uploaded by which_brew.
Believe it or not, this is me. That was my costume for the 2003 Halloween party at Which Brew, my personal best effort and not a bad job if I do say so myself, even if Doug did the makeup for me...

I saw some of the old Which Brew crew last night, Kirk had a party and quite a few people I know showed up -- we travel in at least two of the same circles (roughly, pubs/nightlife and yoga/bike/organic), so there were several groups of people that I knew there.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Linux Voyager: Leaving A Landmark

I have the day off, so I'm sitting in the Caffeine Cafe typing away... Actually, I'm now at Anne's house, got my car inspected in Bethlehem and just picked it up.

One of the reasons I got the laptop was so I could have a computer of my own when I was over here, instead of always using hers. Then I got this, with Ubuntu installed like a good little ideologue, and I found I couldn't connect to her wireless network, and in fact couldn't connect to any encrypted network. D'oh!

Luckily, there were plenty of open wireless access points, and I spent time researching the problem -- it turns out that "WEP Passphrase" is not supported by the Network Manager applet, because passphrases are not supported by the underlying program (iwconfig).

For various coffeehouses the password is their phone number, so instead of putting that into the default "WEP Passphrase" dialogue box -- and why does Network Manager even have such a dialog box, if the option is unsupported? -- I put that into the hex key option dialog box and it worked fine. Tried it at Anne's and it worked there too. Voila!

I ran into a lot of information about wireless driver issues etc, which seemed to be problems from a few months/years ago, and which didn't really help me. I thought I'd write this in case someone has a similar problem (really, just a misunderstanding on my part how this stuff works), this might come up in a google search and save them some time.

Anyway: I hit the gym last night, then then went to Porter's to meet Anne and Judy; I also saw Lou and some other people from the McSorley's trip, and also Mike (the Lafayette network guy from Which Brew), who earned his first mug last night. Tonight is a towpath ride, followed by a "reggae party" at Kirk's house. Tomorrow is the yoga/coffee/gym-and-maybe-bike thing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Do You See What I See?

Just kicking back, eating some turkey soup...
Really interesting skies the last few days: this morning was an incredible sunset while driving in (and also a rainbow), while yesterday's drive home was just after sunset -- with a perfectly clear, beautiful evening sky, with crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter all prominently on display -- this has been the early-evening show all week, but last night was especially good. It's raining now, but the weekend, which starts tonight, should be fine.
(Almost) All Caught Up: I still have to give them titles, but I uploaded my photos from the Thanksgiving Day ride, which means I am now caught up on all my recent photos. Go check them out!
Tonight is the gym, and I am back to full workouts after going easy for a few weeks. Last night was a monster yoga class, followed by a hamburger at the Brew Works.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Family Folklore

Morning weigh-in (Monday): 174#, 11% BF
A Thanksgiving Interlude: We were at Anne's mom's house for Thanksgiving, and over dessert conversation one of her teenage nephews was admonished by his mother, who thought he was about to say a bad word -- she wouldn't say what bad word was about to be uttered, so we tried to guess, using hints:
Guesser #1: Hmmmm... Starts with "B?"
Guesser #2: Hmmmm... And rhymes with "witch?"
Then five-year-old Brian, who was learning about rhymes in kindergarten, put two and two together and announced into a lull in the conversation: "Bitch!"
He had no idea what it meant or even if it was a word, it was just a lucky guess...
The room exploded variously into either laughter or consternation, upsetting Brian, and he ran from the room -- he was fine again in a minute, and will no doubt be repeating his discovery today on the playground, but I'm also sure he'll be hearing about this Thanksgiving well into middle age.
"The Itch:" We visited my parents Sunday, and somehow the conversation came around to the unusual nicknames endemic to my dad's childhood. (He, as the younger brother of "Shorty," was cursed with the moniker "Little Shorty.") My dad ran off a few names ("Ole Salty" Murphy, etc), and then brought up Teddy Bentbelly, the long-suffering usher at the ancient, and decidedly downscale, local movie theater in his old neighborhood -- it had a real name, but the local kids called it "The Itch" because it was so dirty that if you leaned your head back onto the chair you'd get lice or scabies or something. I remember hearing stories about "The Itch" when I was a kid... my dad told one Sunday about the ticket lady, who also doubled as a sort of babysitter for the youngest kids: instead of taking them to the bathroom, she would pass a sort of chamber pot along the aisle for all the kids to use.
A Quote From My Hero: "Invention is the mother of necessity." -- Thorstein Veblen, courtesy of Google's Quote of the Day.
Yesterday was yoga, then dinner at Anne's followed by more playing with the laptop, my new toy, er, I mean, necessity. Still fiddling with the "WEP Passphrase" issue, but I also uploaded the rest of our New England vacation photos. Check them out, yo.
Tonight is the gym, followed by a trip to Porter's.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Little Willy Won't Go Home!

Morning weigh-in (Saturday, unofficial): 172.5#, 10.5% BF

Lotsa stuff to talk about, but I don't really have the time... Thanksgiving in Jim Thorpe with Anne's family, then Friday we went back to see more of her family visiting (she has a big family), preceded by a ride on Pisgah Mountain to get the appetite running again. Yesterday was yoga/errands/coffee shop/gym, then Porter's for dinner, a big chunk of the old "supper club" crew. Today we're just hanging out waiting for some baking to be done; we're leaving to visit the folks in a little while.

Listening: While we're waiting, we're listening to a mix some grade school friend of Anne's gave her at a reunion -- we just heard "Little Willy!" I remember playing that in the backyard with my brothers -- us as a band, not the radio or anything, and long before we actually learned to play instruments -- when we were kids. (Thinking about the backyard and being kids kinds of reminds me of this.) We were talking about those kinds of songs back then, and I mentioned Bruce Lee, and "The Night Chicago Died," and the way the 5th-grade girls would all do "The Locomotion" at lunchtime, like a total spontaneous dance craze.

Hansel & Gretel, Bloody Mary, "Hark the herald angels sing/ Mrs. Simpson's pinched our King," children's folklore tapping into some more primal, tribal self... I think I'll start a rumor that the kid in H.R. Pufnstuff is Jack White's dad.

Meantime, many photos got uploaded recently. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Ocean Refuses No River

Morning weigh-in: 174#, 9.5% BF
You Can't Fight City Hall! Instead of going to work yesterday afternoon, I decided to blow it off in favor of a haircut, and some quality time with my laptop. Off to Eskandalo in Southside Bethlehem, where I had to use metered parking but the meter was broken -- I only found this out after putting in two quarters. I said "screw it," and went in for my haircut (which was lovely), and sure enough, when I got back to the car there was a parking ticket waiting for me on the windshield. D'oh! I called the number and complained, and got a phone call that the Bethlehem Parking Authority had verified my claim of a broken meter, and I was off the hook.
So I went off to Wired Cafe with the laptop after all that, parking in a metered space once again, over by the Brew Works. Did a few things (including posting more photos, check them out), came out, and found another ticket. I had a good run but I guess my Parking Karma had caught up to me: this one was legitimate.
(By the way, the laptop is still not 100% un-cranky. Still working on it.)
Listening: I told a friend I liked some of her music, and she got me a copy; turns out that it's the soundtrack to a prenatal yoga class. I guess my belly has been getting bigger lately, but still... (The title to this post is from one of the songs. In case you were wondering.)
Now I'm Somebody! Check out this article, especially the photos -- like, who took them.
"...the unimaginable Pacific... the hole left by the Moon's tearing-free and monument to her exile; you could not hear or even smell this but it was there, something tidal began to reach feelers in past eyes and eardrums..." -- Thomas Pynchon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Missions Accomplished!

I took off this morning to get my dryer repaired (done: it was a burned-out wire, not the heater element), then called a trash hauler and had the other one removed (done), and finally I made an appointment to have my car inspected (still to do, but I have the appointment). I am now doing laundry -- and drying it! -- uploading some pictures, and then I'll be heading back into work for the day. Excelsior!

(Anne and Judy just stopped by. They were at Rachel's dad's funeral, which was held at the place around the block from here, and were on their way to Doylestown -- they were carpooling so Anne dropped her car off here rather than leave it at the funeral home.)

Meantime, on the SS Linux: I managed to totally lock up the laptop, still not sure how but it's OK now, and updated over 1000 programs (but the wireless connection is still funky when it comes to WEP encryption) plus added a few others. My next task is to use it to upload pictures -- my new photo program comes with a feature to do this automatically, so I want to give it a try. More missions getting accomplished there every day.

Anyway, last night was yoga, where I felt stiff and unwieldy, I've been away so long, and tonight is the gym which will no doubt also hurt. Dinner tonight will probably be making pasta & tuna with wilted greens.

Whelp, back to work.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bike? What's That?

Pretty good weekend, finally did something I haven'tbeen able to do in a while: I biked!

I rode the towpath Friday night with Larry (below-freezing cold and windy), then yesterday Anne and I went up to Jacobsburg at the end of the afternoon, a fun ride with Spanky Greg, Robin (whom I don't know well, she's just starting out riding), and Rob L. (We also saw Joe G but didn't get to talk.)

Early this morning I went up to Sals by myself, though I did run into Greg, Eric B, and Joe & Cindy, then Anne and I did a road ride over to Emmaus for some coffee and breakfast. I guess I'm back in the saddle.

By the way, that's me, a photo I took through my laptop's webcam.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Killed -- To Make A Roman Holiday!

Here's a photo of my mom, yukkng it up with some kind of centurion or gladiator or something in Rome, where they're apparently not as stuffy as those British guards, no matter how much Beefeaters you try to give them...

This is from their cruise through Europe (the water part) and the Mediterranean. I saw a lot of the pictures already in album form, but Mom passed along a few of them along with the article she wrote up for her local newspaper. Pretty cool!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Drama Continues, Abated

Morning weigh-in: 173#, 11% BF (that's what happens when you don't eat for 24 hours)
Whelp, back at work and feeling better, even if I'm not fully 100% yet. I basically slept from around 1:00 PM yesterday through to this morning, with a short wake-up (where I made some long-overdue uploads to flickr, answered email and in general played with the "old computer"). Tomorrow is a day off, and I think I'll be taking it easy tonight after the gym. Tomorrow's nightlife will hopefully be a different story, Brujos is playing at Pearly Baker's...
Take The Train: Two recent stories about rail transportation, here and here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Morning weigh-in: 177.5#, no idea what the BF is because I jumped off the scale...
Hopefully I'll be able to turn over a new leaf, because that number is pretty scary. But... I haven't been to the gym in like two weeks, or yoga or bike or anything else -- one day of riding and one hike while on vacation, and that's pretty much it since the McSorley's trip, and there wasn't too much going on before that either. (Meantime, I've been eating out almost every night for months.) Tonight is the Chain Gang monthly meeting, no real chance to do anything beforehand, but I guess tomorrow I'll have to start getting my act together.
Anyway, here is a little something about my new laptop. Pretty sweet! I was up pretty late with that thing last night, or rather late compared to my more recent bedtimes, and am now paying the price but it was worth it.

UPDATE: I wrote all that at lunchtime today, but "the price" I was paying was not really related to the late night or whatever -- I got pretty sick and took the afternoon off. Spent the day sleeping, no appetite, headache, stomache ache, body aches...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Even More Mobility

Well, here I am in Porter's, wirelessly connected and typing away on my new laptop... had dinner here with Anne and her friend Donna, who are doing the knitting thing. Major hassle with Fed Ex picking it up today, but I do have my new toy: it's a Dell something or other, 15" screen, seems pretty fast, and it runs Ubuntu so I'm still kinda-sorta a Linux purist. More on all this later, gotta run and drink beer.

By the way, the end of last week's vacation was all rainy, so the pattern was: breakfast in a coffee shop (wireless and Anne's laptop), browsing the college town bookstores mid-day, and ending the day at the local brewpub. Life was good, and it still is...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Trip So Far

Well, here we are in Greenfield MA, at a coffee shop called the Koko Cafe. Our trip so far:

New Paltz: We hit town around 9:00 and went to the Gilded Otter Brewpub for dinner. Pretty nice, though I thought the beer was better than the food: my roast beef sandwich fell far short of the "Christian Springs Hotel roast beef standards" to which I had become accustomed, though Anne did like her meal. We asked about lodging, and ended up at some interstate motel, where a teenager asked me to rent him and his friends a room. Sorry, Bub... I was polite about it, but the last thing I needed was our sleep disturbed by a bunch of kids trashing the hotel on my credit card. They took off, and the rest of the evening was uneventful.

In the morning we got biking advice and breakfast at a crunchy coffee shop in town, then went over to Lake Winnemaska to ride the carriage roads. I hadn't been there in years but it was the same as ever: still scenic, still reasonably easy/aerobic riding. Cold and breezy but beautiful, we got in about 12 miles over maybe 3 hours, then took off for Vermont via the Champlain Bridge.

Burlington: This was Anne's birthday, and we hit the Vermont Brew Pub to celebrate but it was a fairly early night. Motel outside of town, breakfast next day in town, and then we headed up to Stowe for some hiking -- snow was already on the ground, and when we got up to higher elevations it got to be 4"-6" deep, then icy, and so we turned around, and got pizza in Stowe. We didn't get as far as we wanted, but we were out for a good chunk of the day -- it was beautiful up there.

Back in Burlington, dinner was a nap but then we went out to catch some night life. We went to Ri Ra for a few pints and Irish atmosphere, then caught a good blues band at Red Square. (I'd heard a few years ago that they were going out of business, but they seemed to be going strong that night.) Rain started to fall, mostly just drizzle, and hasn't stopped since... 

Yesterday was browsing Burlington, then we traveled here with a dinner stop: friends of Anne live near a brewpub outside Springfield VT, and we met them there. Tonight were meeting her son in Northampton.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Leaf Mold And A Head Cold

The leaf mold finally got to me. It's worst year I can remember, and I've been suffering after every time out in the woods -- even worse than the May "tree pollen rides." It was really bad the other day, and must have opened a door for some germ because I am now colonized: sinuses, chest congestion, the usual.

It hasn't slowed me down (yet): we went to McSorley's in Manhattan yesterday, with dinner at Carmine's afterward, and both were awesome, as was the other little bar we stopped in (for a break from the McSorley's scene). It was the 3rd annual Which Brew / Porters bus trip into the city, the usual suspects but with a more Porter's-oriented crowd.

Today I'm on vacation for real, and in about four hours (after laundry & housecleaning) I'm picking up Anne and we're heading North. No real plans, but we'll probably be stopping near New Paltz tonight, hiking the Gunks tomorrow, and then heading for Burlington; the eventual goal is to visit her son Ben, going to school near Amherst, later in the week. Lots of hiking, biking, reading, coffee & beer in the meantime...

To get ready we went to that semi-new (me) sporting goods store, Cabella's. What a nightmare, a total big-box store dedicated to mostly hunting -- they even had a furniture section, the kid of stuff that would go well with the elk on the wall... I got a couple of pairs of hiking pants, she got boots, and then we got the hell out of Dodge.

Anyway, that's it for a couple of days. Stay tuned for pictures -- I have about a hundred from yesterday, plus a bunch of earlier ones, various events, that I still didn't get to. But, later...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Our first Muslim Socialist President!
I went to Brew Works last night after a bit of housework, to watch the election returns. The Obama Campaign victory party was there as well, but the bar at least was still open to the public, and the place was packed. (You could still get into the party-controlled dining room or downstairs to the Steel Gaarden, if you wanted to check out the big-screen TV's and the excitement, but if anything it was even more crowded than out front: the bar was fine.) Anne got there around 10:00 or so, after being at the polls from 6:30 AM on. Some burgers, and beer, and some nail-biting (the networks seemed to drag things out, to make it less lopsided & more interesting), and then at 11:03 or so, almost immediately after the West Coast polls closed, they called California for Obama and that was all she wrote. The place erupted in cheers, people were hugging and shaking hands, wiping tears from their eyes...
We stuck around for McCain's concession speech (well done and well received) and Obama's awesome acceptance speech, and then went home around 1:00. What a night! Whatever comes next -- and the real hard part isn't even on the horizon yet -- last night we were a part of history.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote Early, Vote Often

Morning weigh-in: 173.5#, 10.5% BF
So I voted this morning before coming in to work. I arrived at exactly 7:00 when the polls opened, and there was already a line; it took me about a half hour to vote, and the line was the same length when I left as when I got there... I don't always vote early, so this may be more common than I think in the morning, but that was the longest I ever had to wait to vote. I was joking with the woman behind me, that the situation was like before a snowstorm when everyone stocks up on the bread and milk that they don't even need: we all heard about possible long lines so we went early, and created our own. All in all the process went rather smoothly, even if I was a bit late for work.
I think people are expecting trouble though. A cop car cruised by once, people had their ID ready (normally it's not necessary to show ID), and the ACORN vs voter suppression shenanigans has people kind of hopped up. Anne is volunteering in Allentown today, to help protect the rights of voters who might get challenged.
Tonight I'll be skipping the gym to do chores at home (mostly laundry-type stuff), then I'm joining Anne somewhere for the post-election nail-biting.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Oil Fields At First Light

No morning weigh-in, but last I looked I was 172#.
On the ride in this morning I finally spotted the pattern: every Monday at about 7:30 AM, they play U2's "Beautiful Day" on the local station. The song really puts me in a good mood, and presumably does it for the rest of the Monday morning commuter demographic as well. It usually is a beautiful ride in too, in that "advanced nature appreciation" way you have to do it, gleaning what beauty you can, from the sky and the Interstate... Filled the tank on the way in, prices really have dropped.
Yesterday I went for breakfast with Anne, walking over to Southside to Blue Sky with her and her dog. Langston had a banner day, which started with him tearing into the garbage (he's on anti-seizure medication, which makes him hungry) and strewing it around the kitchen -- Anne said he looked quite pleased with himself. He was pretty agitated, tied outside Blue Sky, and he got into a fight with another dog, he was wound up for most of the rest of the day... Anyway, we also went for a mountain bike ride at Jordan later on. That was pretty nice, and I think a few things clicked into place for her there. If the learning curve is a wave, like body surfing at the beach, Jordan's easy enough that she was able to catch the wave and move forward . Kind of fun to watch, actually.
Saturday was an Allamuchy ride, with the usual Gang: Bob & Karen leading the ride, plus Doug, Eric B, Eric R, Greg, Butch & Mindy, and Nelson, but also Joe & Jon G, Keith, and Claude in a slightly faster group out front. We got in about 13 miles, maybe 2 hours ride time between 10:30 and 2:30 -- hard to believe we stood around for two hours, but there were a lot of blown-down trees & branches that we cleared as we came upon them. Leaf mold or something, had allergy problems which persisted through the rest of the day and into Judy's party.
The party was nice though, almost an Obama campaign meeting or something, except for the occasional Halloween costume (I was Franken-pimp, whatever that might be, while Anne was Joe The Plumber, complete with gigantic fake butt crack showing above her pants).
Friday night started with Frank P's daughter hosting an "urban fun ride" through Bethlehem, in costume for Halloween of course (except for me, d'oh), and after that we all went to Greg H's for a Halloween party -- I wore a mullet wig and that fake butt. Riding there through the Bethlehem trick-or-treaters with my butt hanging out was a total hoot, a moving wave of gut-busting laughter followed us as we rode up the street.
Tonight is yoga, followed by chores/laundry, and tomorrow is the election; we'll probably watch the returns at a friend's house. (I remember watching the 2000 returns at Weyerbacher -- it seems so long ago now! -- and the 2004 returns at Democratic Party headquarters in Bethlehem.)


Saturday, November 01, 2008

And Another One

Leopard Suits You
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
This photo, my third-most popular one based on views -- wonder why? -- just passed the 300-view mark. This was from last year's Halloween party at Which Brew. This year was the first time in five years that there was no a Which Brew Halloween party. Sigh, but I went to Greg's party last night (we rode there, after I rode the CAT Halloween Fun Ride), and we're hitting Judy's party tonight. Yo later.

Another Milestone

My Shiny New Toy
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
This photo is my most popular one, based on number of views, and it just hit the 600-view mark this week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


(Sorry, no weigh-ins lately, but the weight's been hovering around 174 pounds.)
Well last night we did the unthinkable: Anne and I went for a night ride at Sals. Really, we just rode from her house, rolling out almost as soon as I got there and crossing the Hill to Hill Bridge, and we did a very short loop, out on the Orange trail and back on the Red, but we were out in the woods, and we needed our lights before it was over. Here we are on real trails, she's riding offroad for maybe the 6th time, and she complains about her technique when riding over logs -- she'll be better than me in another month or so.
We hit a nice little Mexican place for dinner after that, up the street from the Brew Works, our last stop for the evening where we caught game one of the Series.
A Sign at Porters:
We were at Porters on Tuesday, where the Brew Knits (a new crew of knitting, beer drinking ladies) were assembled, and where I expect signs to be posted, similar to their other one:
Yes, amidst all the levity and cheer, one errant scarf (Courtney's) managed to find a candle and get scorched. Stinky like burnt hair, and we couldn't stop laughing.
Long story short: I've been spending a lot of time with Anne lately, like most of my free time (and that's the way I like it), and since I've been busy here at work I suspect that blogging will be sparse for a while.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The City of God

Morning weigh-in (Tuesday): 170.5#, 9.5% BF
Morning weigh-in (Wednesday):172.5#, 10.5% BF
Morning weigh-in (Thursday): 174.5#, 10.5% BF

I've got a few minutes downtime -- I'm just back from yoga & breakfast, and I'm heading out to Weyerbacher when they open around noon, to buy a case of their new stuff -- and I thought I'd update a few computer things, ie posting here, as well as adding a few photos from the Sals trail maintenance last month.

It's been a fairly rough week, mainly because of two pieces of news that came my way.

Bad News The First: At the Chain Gang meeting this week (that was Wednesday night) we were discussing where to have our annual Christmas party, and someone mentioned the Christian's Spring Hotel, especially since we had such a good time in their barn at the weekend party -- maybe we could rent the barn for our own party. Rich called them up while we moved on to other business, then came back with the news that CSH is closing and that Saturday (ie today) would be their last day. Aaaargh!

Bad News The Second: This one is a little more serious. My friend Dan sat a few of us down at work the other day, and told us he'd been talking to Vito: his wife had been getting dizzy again (this was probably just after I visited), and passed out in the bathroom the other night. They went to the hospital, where they found out she'd had a stroke: she still has powers of speech, but her right side has lost some mobility. (She's been in rehab at Sloan-Kettering ever since, learning to use a walker and trying to get as much of her mobility back as possible.) Doctors say it was caused by her tumor, which means that the tumor is active again -- and the tumor is inoperable, and she can't have any more chemo or radiation, and so what this really means is that Di is now basically into her endgame. She'll be home in a few days; Vito's probably a wreck right now. This is so sad.

Both of these (of course) put me in a fairly bad mood for the end of the week, though I've been trying to be philosophical about them. Which Brew is gone, and now Christian's Spring Hotel is gone, but Anne and I met at WB and first started hanging out at CSH, so maybe they had accomplished something, like the booster stages of a rocket, or maybe the Roman Empire before it fell.

Di is a little harder to take. She and Vito have led exemplary lives, and I'm glad that she can take some
comfort in her faith and in the expectation of a better world, but that doesn't really leave me with much.

Meantime, I can't make lemonade out of those weights either...

Anyway, Tuesday night was Porters after the gym, where the girls had taken over one corner and were experimenting with a new scene: the "Brew Knits" is what they called themselves, and that's exactly what they were doing -- sipping brews and knitting.

Wednesday was the Chain Gang meeting, Thursday was the gym followed by a visit to Christian Springs -- the usual "Thursday night supper club" (me, Anne, Lee, Judy, and Sally & Joe) though there was no food, and last night was a towpath ride with Larry (Happy Birthday!) and dinner was a pot roast at Anne's. Not sure what tonight will be, but I'll be riding with Anne and a few others at Jacobsburg later in the afternoon.

Those photos are posted (go check them out) and I'm all caught up, so I'm outta here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Night Quarterbacking

Morning weigh-in: 171#, 10.5% BF

Doop de doo, just catching up on my bills, internet addictions etc, thought I'd post a little something...

Anne bought a mountain bike on Friday, a used Cannondale F600 to be specific, off a fellow VMB member. It had some minor issues so we did some work on it, then took it up to Jacobsburg -- we rode just about 15 miles total, pretty cool. (One very valid point she made though: she doesn't have to drive anywhere to ride her road bikes. But, she lives right around the corner from Sals, ditto Lehigh; once her skills/confidence are up to the challenges she'll have all the out-the-front-door, local riding she'd want.)

We saw Religulous that night with a bunch of people. Verdict: it was OK, but not much better than OK. I thought that they cherry-picked their religious spokesmen, who seemed a bit stupid, and were flummoxed by fairly standard anti-religious arguments -- ones that any decent theologian should have at least some answer to by now, even if it wasn't an answer I'd agree with. Dinner was at Pacifico, and was also just so-so.

Saturday we (Anne and I) did a road ride, a metric century over Little Gap and back through Wind Gap. The evening's entertainment was at Christian's Spring Hotel, where they had an Octoberfest party: German food, beer specials and three great bands out in their barn. These bands were not what I was expecting (punkish/rockabilly garage stuff, maybe?) but instead were more bluegrass than anything else -- one was actually a bow ties and straw hats, banjos and kazoos kind of novelty act. Great stuff. Tons of people there too, including a big chunk of Chain Gang peeps and pieces of the Which Brew diaspora, as well as the usual CSH regulars.

Sunday was mellow by comparison, did a little hiking -- walking, really -- in and near Bethlehem. Tonight after laundry & bills I'll be zipping around for a while downtown on the singlespeed. Dinner already happened and was Brazilian black beans. Tomorrow I'll be eating at Porters.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Goddamn You, Pointy-Headed Arithmetic!

Morning weigh-in: 172# 9.5% BF
By the way, the weekend:
Friday night was dinner with Anne in Bethlehem, after the usual towpath ride (just Kirk and myself this time). I suggested J.P. McGrady's as a nice change of pace, but when we got there it was jam-packed full of Lehigh students, standing room only, so we went back to Brew Works.
Saturday was busy, an ultra-mega-Selfish Day: yoga in the morning, drycleaning, banking, then over to Coffee Exchange to meet Anne before we hit the Garlic Fest. (Her home-brewing buddy Josh had a booth & was pushing garlic beer, but we were too chicken to try it.) Saw a few peeps while walking around, then we drove over to Weyerbacher and split a case of their special Harvest Ale, made (in very limited quantities) with fresh hops from Dan Weierbach's garden.
We then went up to Jacobsburg. That's where we met Lenny, and also Butch & Mindy: Butch was looking to sell Anne his old F600, and this was the test ride. Verdict: it's a go! We rode for about two hours, maybe 10 miles, ran into Joe G while riding but he was in high-speed mode...
Saturday Night: Lenny was down so I could show him Pearly Baker's so that's where we went next; after dinner he took off for home, while Anne & I grabbed dessert and coffee around the block, then returned for the Time Code show. Saw the crew (Bill & Danielle, Tara, Michele, etc) and the show was good but my day was long, and I went home early and slept the sleep of the dead.
On Sunday I took a trip out toward Scranton, carpooling with Eric and fellow biker Bernie, to the grand opening of a new trail system. This was a bigger deal than I realized; there were probably about 100 bikers there (including the Hubbard Bike Club crew, plus Rich B and Joe G), as well as a similar number of hikers, some police and Game Lands officials, and the local news crews. Plenty of speeches, snacks, ribbon cutting, and then finally we rode. Mucho recommendo, these were some killer trails and you could see they put a lot of thought and work into making them. We only rode 10 miles or so, but in our group there were several flats, one busted derailleur/hanger (Eric), and a broken frame -- I also got lost at one point. Tough trails!
More Fun with Pointers: I've been fooling with that program some more, and was still getting fairly random results out of the computer. Until last night, when... well, imagine you need to store data of a certain size, so you tell the computer to allocate some memory to store that data -- except you tell the computer, in a very subtle and hard-to-detect (for a neophyte) way, to allocate less memory than you need? Then when the time comes to store that data, and you go to put the tenth pound of shit in your five pound bag: the data pours out all over the place, corrupting other memory, results become unpredictable and then your program crashes... I found the problem and fixed it last night, now my test program runs flawlessly. I don't know if I'm a genius or a moron.
Last night was the gym (mini-workout) and laundry, plus dinner at Porters with Anne, the debate on TV and a couple of odd/interesting bar mates. Tonight is yoga, with symposium to follow.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Porn Emergency

Morning weigh-in: 171#, 10.5% BF
Went to yoga last night, then hit Porters for dinner and some Monday Night Football. Pretty cool, though the place wasn't too busy. I saw Lucas there, young guy who sort of disappeared after he broke his bike, and also saw Randi, who was the old bartender at Jabberwocky (or Curve or whatever).
She's now a bartender and a "dancer" somewhere, except she recently sprained her ankle and it's cut into her ability to work -- she was ranting about certain mutual friend who shall remain nameless (Joe) who owes her money she could really use right now... Meantime, she and her friend were out to pick up the latest issue of some exotic dancer trade weekly, but the local adult novelty store was closed, handwritten "closed for family emergency" sign in the window. So they came to Porters...
A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar, and the bartender says "What is this, a joke?"

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hail Hail

Morning weigh-in: 171.5#, 10% BF
Gym last night, then over to CSH for dinner. Nice surprise, some of the old Which Brew gals -- specifically Michele, Margarita and Carrie, whom I hadn't seen in forever -- were there, along with the usual crew (Anne, Judy and Lee). We hung out for a while & chatted, then the girls absconded and we listened to part of the VP debate on the radio. Static, volume issues; we lost interest and conversation returned to the usual subjects.
C For Success: Well, almost. I changed a few things on that program I'm writing, and all of a sudden it works, for reasons I don't really understand.
Tonight I'm riding the towpath. Tomorrow is going to be a very busy version of "selfish day."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Golden Sunrise Mountain

Morning weigh-in: 170.5#, 10.5% BF (sigh)
Beautiful ride in to work today, fog/clouds over Jugtown Mountain, itself silhouetted by the early morning sun. I was also listening to Gang of Four's "Tattoo," the perfect song for driving in heavy traffic at high speeds...
Linux Voyager, Heavy C's: I decided to write a small program, something semi-work-related,  that would take a bunch of individual pieces ("cut lengths") of tubing, and and organize them into ordered lengths -- ie "sticks," or pieces of tube, around 40 feet long, that are meant to be cut into several of the smaller cut lengths -- for optimum bundling and shipping. This is a laborious process, something I can't stand and I've been doing a lot of it lately, but recently I came up with a clever method that organizes the pieces rather well, and can also be automated -- bonus!
The trick involves ordering the cut lengths by length, then divvying up the cut lengths according to a certain pattern. This looked to me like the ideal place to use something like a linked list, and decided to try my hand at doing this in C. I used to be pretty good at C programming, but that was like 20 years ago, and I found that I was pretty damn rusty, at least at first. I'm getting the hang of it again, and the code I need to write is surprisingly small for what I'm trying to do, so things should move along pretty quickly now -- all I need is a couple of rainy days.
Speaking of rainy days, last weekend was a wash. I didn't go to Vermont because it was pouring there, and I didn't ride locally because it was pouring here too, especially Sunday. I spent most of the weekend reading, or watching movies (saw Juno at Anne's on Sunday, gotta love a girl with Netflix), or surfing the web... we walked over to Brew Works, Sunday afternoon after the movie, and looking down from the Broad Street Bridge we saw that the Monocacy had gone over its banks, which in turn caused them to close Celtic Fest.
Tonight I'll be riding the towpath if it doesn't rain (otherwise I'm hitting the gym), then it's off to Porter's while the laundry dries. Last night was yoga, tomorrow night will be more yoga, and Thursday is back to the gym.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quick News Tidbits

Morning weigh-in (Friday) 169#, 11# BF

More photos are now posted, my Saturday shots from the BASH. Enjoy! Stay tuned for more, some BASH Sunday photos plus a bunch of trailwork shots I took last weekend.

Meantime, the rain (here and in Vermont) has caused those of us going to race to cancel our trip to the Vermont 50.

Tonight I'll probably see Brujos at Pearly Baker's, and tomorrow will probably be a Lehigh ride.

That is all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"M" Is For "Methane"

 This can't be good.
"You think the end of the world's comin'?"
"Preacher man says it's the end of time; he says America's rivers are running dry. The interest is up, the stock market's down... You boys better be careful hanging around here this late at night, this -- no ma'am, I'm sorry we don't -- this is the perfect place to get jumped!"
"But do you think the end of the world's comin'?"
"Naw... So says the preacher man, but I don't go by what he says."
-- Godspeed You Black Emperor
Klondike Barbie Watch: Yup, witchcraft-free since 2005! Too bad the long-running affair with her husband's business partner just came to light...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Personal Best!

Morning weigh-in: 170.5#, 10.5% BF
Oh well, not quite.
Back when I lived on Southside, my best time ever for a towpath ride out to Sand Island and back (distance: 25.4 miles), was 1:28, which gives an average speed of 17.13 mph. Riding that out-and-back from where I live now cuts that distance down to 22 miles, so an equivalent "best time" would be 1:16 at that same average speed. I rode the towpath last night, and was on target for beating that number so I really made the effort -- going fast didn't seem that hard -- and got home at 1:14:48. Woo Hoo! Then I noticed that my distance was only 20 miles, so somehow my cycle computer didn't record two miles of my ride  (nor, presumably, the time spent riding those two miles) and it wasn't a "personal best" after all, though at the very least it was likely my unofficial best time this year. Which means I am right on target to choke Sunday...
After that was more laundry and a trip to get it dried, and dinner was at Porter's with Anne, a good time which really flew like it had wings -- saw a few peeps, earned my 4th mug, and next thing you know it's after midnight. Morning came a little too early... (By the way, my new Tevas came yesterday, and I wore them last night, though it suddenly seems late in the season for that.) Tonight is yoga, then dinner with Anne again; she's cooking up some Ethiopian food, after a restaurant visit on that DC trip piqued her interest.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Are They Doing At The Horlacher House?

Morning weigh-in: 170#, 11.5% BF
I never drank Horlacher Beer, but as a kid I collected beer cans, along with my brothers, and those old Horlacher cans were among the prizes in our collections. We'd usually find them (and all kinds of very old, collectible beer cans) in or near the ruins of old houses, like in their personal garbage dumps or inside the walls -- part of the house's life cycle, the construction workers threw them in there, and we'd tear the lath or drywall off looking for them. Old rotting houses in the late-autumn woods after school, very Blair Witch. One house we ripped apart was such a gold mine we dubbed it the "Horlacher House," and returned to it several times. It's no wonder witches hate little kids: after what we did to that place, gingerbread-chompin' Hansel & Gretel had nothing on us...
Anyway, I've been on a tea tree oil kick lately, putting it on various skin problems and my one "ugly old-man TMI toenail," since it supposedly has good antiseptic/antifungal properties. The stuff is aromatic and rather pleasant, with a strong turpentine-like smell, but with overtones of rotting wood. The other day I realized why I kept thinking about the Horlacher House, the tea tree oil smell just like the insides of those rotting houses.
Anyway, last night was yoga, followed by the last of that leftover chili while I did laundry & uploaded a bunch of "Bash" pictures -- you know what to do -- and tonight is a towpath ride, followed by dinner at Porters while the laundry dries.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye To Selfish Day

Morning weigh-in: 167.5#, 12% BF (surprisingly enough, I'm happy with those numbers)
Friday night was the semi-usual towpath ride, and a trip out to Christian's Spring Hotel but I left relatively early, because early Saturday morning I'd be digging in the dirt at Allamuchy. Trailwork day, we put in a new singletrack bypass to one of the ancient and eroded roads that cut through the park. Record attendance by the way, about 20 people were there. We worked for maybe three hours and then did a ride.
I bailed early on the ride though, and borrowed some shower-and-rooming time at nearby Joe & Dawn's: my next stop was to Parsippany to visit my old friend Vito and his wife -- they were the ones who had the big 70th birthday surprise party that I missed because of Moab. The visit was pretty nice, I haven't seen him in a few years and we did quite a bit of catching up. (He had a knee replaced recently, took about a year for the pain to subside but he's getting there. His wife just got through a bout with lung cancer, which metastasized into her brain. They're hoping she's out of the woods now, but you never know with that kind of thing.) His daughter stopped by, and also a friend from the neighborhood, and they made homemade pizza for dinner. There was also a calzone, and cannoli's and beer and coffee...
I got a phone call on the way home, Pocono Joe asking me to stop by Allamuchy Joe's house to pick up the bike wheel he left at the ride, with prisoner exchange up near Saylorsburg on the ride home. I got a call from Anne too, home from Washington but I was too tired to go out. 
Meanwhile, What They Said: Yeah, and yeah, and oh yes definitely that too. Just sayin'...
Yesterday was more trailwork, this time at Sals: again about 20 people, we spent about four hours and came close to finishing John's old trail. Lotsa rock and dirt moving, followed by the obligatory group ride. Met Anne for lunch afterward, and used her computer to buy new shoes...

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Are They Doing At The Hyacinth House?

Dinner last night at the Hawthorne House, a place in Bethlehem I'd heard about but never visited -- Anne knew it because she used to go there occasionally. Pretty decent: bar food and $2.50/bottle microbrews. Smaller inside than the building looked from the outside. Leechboy was playing, the games were on the TV's, and we were just BS'ing over burgers & beer...
Anne's out of town this weekend, down in Washington DC at least until late Saturday night. It's a "girl's weekend," and she's checking out the monuments & museums with Judy, Erica and Emmy. I'll be doing trail maintenance at Allamuchy tomorrow, followed (most likely) by a ride, then a visit to my old friend and retired co-worker Vito in Parsippany. Sunday will be more trailwork & riding, this time at Sals.
Meantime, I'll be riding the towpath tonight with Larry, then going to Christian's Spring Hotel, where I should run into a bunch of Virtual Pubbers, looks like some kind of smart mob scene a-building. (We were supposed to go there last night, but there was a problem with the water in Nazareth & Easton yesterday, and CSH had no food service -- I sure hope one day makes enough of a difference in the food situation because I'll probably be starving.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Under The Water Carry The Water

Morning weigh-in: 169#, 11.5% BF
Saw David Byrne play Tuesday night at Zoellner, first show of his new tour and it was awesome. Me & Anne, Doug & Lori; our seats were amazing, like third row center -- he was standing literally less than 10 feet away from us, front and center on stage with his guitar, and with the rest of the band a little bit in the background. He and the whole band (drummer, bassist, bongo player, three backup singers, and three dancers) were all in white, a strange look but it actually worked well.
The show itself was great, very high energy, and he did a bunch of 80's hits as well as newer or more obscure stuff. He got several standing ovations too, especially on the older songs, and people were standing/dancing by the end. (Just a by-the-way: David Byrne is a very good singer, which we all knew, but he is also a very good guitarist.) Lotsa older people there, and watching them dance reminded me of 80's fratboys-become-yuppies jamming to Springsteen's "Born in the USA," and that whole Subversive Artists vs Their Fans Who Don't Get It thing... That got me thinking about my own mondegreens and misunderstandings from that era; lots of resonances in those songs.
Speaking of dance: the dancers were a nice touch. Two girls and a guy, doing very modern-looking (to me) stuff, made me wish I had a bit more of a dance vocabulary.  It reminded me at times of African dance, or of hoedowns, or cheerleader moves a la "Hey Mickey;" then there were other parts that were more like Meredith Monk, and even times I picked up a porn-stars-from-Naked-Lunch vibe, when the dancers seemed somewhat older and tireder than at first glance...
Anyway, before that I got a post-work haircut at Eskandalo, where Alison said she'd be DJ'ing at Christian's Spring Hotel that night -- oh well, you can't be everywhere -- followed by a pre-show dinner at Tulum. Last night was the Chain Gang meeting at Bob & Karen's. Tonight is the gym, followed by dinner out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My, What An Eventful Weekend!

Morning weigh-in: 169.5#, 10% BF
Jeez, you go away for a few days...
RIP David Foster Wallace: Dead by his own hand at the age of 46. So sad. Infinite Jest was one of my favorite books, a postmodern classic and the funniest book about depression I ever read.
Swirling the Bowl: So Big Shitpile strikes again --  Lehman is going bankrupt, and Merrill Lynch got bought, and AIG is teetering on the edge -- if they go down, does that mean I am no longer an insured driver? I guess I'll have to revise my "America Descends Into Civil War and Cannibalism" countdown, move things up by a few years.
Wasn't That A Mighty Storm? Hurricane Ike was bad enough, but most people heeded warnings and it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Our Houston office is closed though.
On Thursday I visited my friend Gary in the hospital after work. We used to ride and race together: me, Joe G, Gary and his girlfriend Gina, their friend Gerry, and a few others, the old Round valley crowd. Now they (Gary & Gina) have two kids and don't get out as much, but recently he's been getting back into road racing and triathlon. He was out training with a few friends on Monday, and a woman failed to yield at a nasty intersection (I know it well, I drive through it every day, and there have been a lot of bicycle and motorcycle fatalities there over the years) -- he hit her grille, smashed her windshield with his shoulder, then flew over and landed behind her SUV, breaking his femur, ankle, and wrist (and dislocating his shoulder) at various points in the process. Helicopter ride, femur surgery, aches and bruises and a couple of casts, but no head or organ damage -- and strangely enough, no road rash either. He seemed in good spirits, all things considered, and was scheduled to go home Friday.
I met Joe at the hospital. We were supposed to ride Sals after the visit, but he drove into the parking garage and managed to wreck his bike (which was on his roof rack) on the low ceiling. Broken fork, broken seatpost, damage to the rack and his car's roof, he was not happy...
Thursday night was dinner with Anne at Brew Works.
The rest of the weekend was the Rattling Creek Single Trackers "Bash;" I drove down Friday afternoon and arrived in the worst of the rain. More on all this as the week progresses -- and stay tuned for over 100 photos -- but suffice to say that it was an awesome time despite the early bad weather: the Friday night "Disco Party" was a huge success, making Saturday morning less successful, and the Saturday night dinner/concert was fun but a bit more subdued, and in between it all we rode and rode.
Last night was chores and laundry; tonight is errands, and dinner with Anne.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine Eleven

Morning weigh-in (Wednesday): 170.5#, 10.5% BF
Morning weigh-in (Thursday): 169.5#, 7% BF
It's strange, I actually feel a lot stronger with the extra weight (even if it's obviously settling in my gut instead of say going to build muscles), though that might be a little rationalization, some whistling in the dark. But...
I rode the towpath last night, and early on I got a "fuck you" pass from some guy on a Jamis: he whipped past me as I went under the 25th St Bridge, having (unbeknownst to me) dropped down the paved hill from the orphanage -- I thought he'd been riding the sewer line right-of-way singletrack like I was, and blew past me on sheer strength. Either way, Game On!
I dropped in behind and drafted (unbeknownst to him) as he hammered away at 20+ mph. He slowed down after a mile or so, and was very surprised to see me pull up next to him... Fun little game, and we both got a chuckle out of it; we rode together until we got to the old boat launch, where he peeled off to go up Hope Road.
I was sort of racing daylight and already in fast mode -- funny how my legs actually feel stronger the day after a gym workout -- so I did a little hammering of my own out to Sand Island, really fast pace, at least until the path started to get crowded. Cruised though the turnaround, and who should I see but my new friend, who decided to give chase but never caught up, heh heh. We rode back together, total "cruise and schmooze" mode until we split up again at the old boat launch. I got home just as darkness fell.
Meantime, I got an email that my old friend and riding/racing buddy Gary was hit by a car while riding Tuesday night; he's in St Luke's Hospital with a broken ankle, a broken femur (yikes!) and a dislocated shoulder. Tonight I'm riding Sals (aka "behind St Luke's") with Joe, then we're going to pay him a visit. Tomorrow morning I'm off to the Bash.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Betty Lou Still Ain't Got No New Shoes

Morning weigh-in: 168.5#, 11% BF
Don't know what's up with that high body fat percentage, though I did eat a handful of Pringles (strictly so I could toss the empty can in the garbage), and a glass of water -- hydration, plus some salt to hold it there until morning...
Ran last night around 10:00, my standard 2 mile route. I was going to ride either the road or the towpath, but I left my riding glasses at Anne's after the recumbent ride -- since the 2000 crash I've been pretty paranoid about riding with regular glasses -- so instead I did some chores, errands, etc. Laundry, drycleaning, and I also made a trip out to the nearby Dick's Sporting Goods, a new pair of Teva Hurricane III's for to get, but alas they had none. I love my Tevas, but they are starting to fall apart -- they're like 11 years old -- and the situation has now become urgent. Stay tuned...
Tonight is Christian's Spring Hotel after the gym, tomorrow is yoga or possibly biking. The Bash is this weekend, so I have to get ready for that too.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Daily Grind

Morning weigh-in: 169.5#, 9.5% BF
Well that's not so bad, considering I ate a bowl of chili at midnight... tonight will be more chili by the way, and I'll probably make even more, my BASH chili contest entry, on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Hmmm, what else is going on in the world... prions are jumping species barriers -- oh noes! I think I'll skip the venison chili.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Donny Recumbent!
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Today was a much nicer day than yesterday, so Anne convinced me to do a recumbent ride with her -- I joked that this was "payback" for dragging her into the woods last weekend, but really it was a lot of fun.

Anne has two recumbents: one's a standard "short wheelbase" design, and the other is a sort of trike, very low to the ground. (The trike is what I rode today. I tried the other one afterward and it's pretty squirrely, something I'll have to master I guess.) She had been exchanging emails with some guy who'd been in the paper for riding a recumbent, and they put together an impromptu group ride, just a jaunt out to Emmaus and back. Lotsa fun, and though I don't think I'll be getting one any time soon, I could probably be persuaded to go out again...

Anyway, dinner was at the Brew Works. Tomorrow is probably a road ride, one more good day before the weather goes south again.

Happy 60th Birthday, Pappy Spanky!

The Birthday Boy Himself
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Hurricane Hanna's aftermath put a damper on Saturday's festivities, but the show had to go on:

I blew off the Saturday morning "birthday ride" to avoid the deluge (which actually came a bit later in the day), instead helping Anne brew beer, something I never did. (Pretty cool, and it actually seemed easy, but there was a lot of waiting for various liquids to boil or cool down.) We caught up with the crew later at Rich's, where the party was in full swing under some tents he put up in the backyard. Stoves, grills, plenty of food including alligato & rattlesnake -- his brother was in town from Florida -- and of course plenty of beer. Good times...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Memento: Chili Tonight, Hot Tamale

Morning weigh in (Tuesday): 169.5#, 8.5% BF
Morning weigh in (Wednesday): 170#, 8% BF
Morning weigh in (Thursday): 167.5#, 11.5% BF
Yeah so the numbers really are trending up, I think I'll be trying to avoid eating out too much for a while... I made chili yesterday, a slightly different recipe (different beer base,  which came out rather nice I must say. Anne came over after her meeting, and we had some with bread and a salad. (She also brought more tomatoes -- oh no! -- and some hot peppers from her garden. I might make more chili later in the week, to bring to the BASH chili contest.) Before dinner I hit yoga.
Tuesday was a rest day: I prepped the chili, ran some errands and did chores; dinner was a salad and some leftover moussaka.
Continuing to work my way backwards...
Labor Day Monday: Anne and I went up to Jim Thorpe (which is actually her hometown) to do some riding. She rented a mountain bike downtown and we did the Broad Mountain Loop, maybe 12 miles of mostly jeep roads (about 2 miles were on the Deer Path singletrack, and some was a hike down to Glen Onoko Falls). We also hung out for a while at the two overlooks, so we were out for quite a while. She doesn't have much offroad experience, but she's got some pretty solid skills from years of commuting, touring etc, and rode rather well -- we actually made good time, on what was once considered (by peeps with more experience than she has now) a major adventure. I'm thinking she liked it. (We had dinner later at Porter's, with Judy again.)
Sunday: I rode with Rudy at R.B. Winter State Park, the "Cowbell Hollow Trail" as described in Griz's PA MTB guidebook. This was a posted VMB ride (one I posted like a month ago), and it was a beautiful day, but we were the only ones on the ride. As above, so below: the park seemed kind of remote and the trails underutilized, kind of sad for such a nice place though I'm glad it wasn't crowded. We rode about 28 miles, but rather than following the guidebook's route we bailed at mile 20 to take the road (rather than the singletrack) back to the cars. Despite a late night and an early morning, I felt really good.
Saturday started as a typical (but yoga-free) "selfish day," but the evening started with a birthday party for Judy at Sette Luna. Me, Anne, Judy, Erica & Toby (Judy's daughter & future son-in-law) and Adam, dining al fresco on pizza and appetizers, really nice. After that we went to Spanky's for the big VMB party: Greg did some major work on his yard (pond, fire pit) and this was it's baptism. also very nice, but just a bit wilder than Sette Luna...
Friday I had off. I got my oil changed plus a bunch of other car stuff done, blah blah various errands. The evening turned drizzly but Brian, Larry and I did our Friday ride anyway. (We actually tried some of the almost-completed Delaware towpath. We got in about 10 miles, but the thing still needs work.)
Anyway, back to the future: tonight I'm hitting the gym, and Judy has decided to throw an impromptu party, since Christian's Spring Hotel is closed this week and the "Thursday night supper club" has nowhere to go.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ob La Di Ob La Da

Morning weigh-in: 167#, 9.5% BF
So I go to yoga last night, only to find the place closed for renovations, with a carpenter cutting new floorboards out in the street -- that's when I remembered them making the announcement last week. Doh!
Oh well, that meant I was early to Christian's Spring Hotel. Dinner with the usual crew: Anne, Judy, Lee, and Joe & Sally, just back from Florida and South Carolina and there with their son Ben, who's leaving for college this weekend. Anne brought her dog to give to Judy, because Judy would be watching him for a few days while Anne takes her Ben to college, and she also brought another bag of heirloom tomatoes (plus basil) for me. Meanwhile, there was a stewing rabbit waiting for her in the kitchen fridge, a gift from the bar owner's uncle. It was a strange day for handoffs at the CSH...
Tonight is the gym right after work, then probably turkey sandwiches with tomatoes. I'll probably hit Porters later for the open-mic night, but I have a ton of things I want to get done tomorrow (Friday off, but I still have to deal with that oil change, and also a few bike projects, shopping blah blah), a little clearing of the decks, so it'll be an early night but still, four day weekend here I come!
By the way, I've been putting my Allamuchy photos up on flickr, piece by piece but I'm almost done.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Frappe Le Sac

Morning weigh-in: 167#, 8% BF

Not sure what was going on with Blogger, looks like my Friday post might not have appeared until today, but anyway...

I'm back from Allamuchy. Twenty-four hours, eight laps, 10-20 bowls of cereal and one trashed rear hub, it was a great weekend. The weather was perfect the entire time, the course was classic "old school Allamuchy," fast and fun, and I basically followed my plan (two laps and rest, two laps and eat, two night laps, sleep until daylight and race until noon), which would have given me nine laps, but I scratched the last one because of the hub problems. It wasn't worth trying to fix on the trail, and in fact I think I need a new bearing, which isn't really a quick-trailside-fix kind of problem.

I was lallygagging anyway: eating at the cafeteria, napping when I felt like it... Some of my friends, Joe G and Kevin M in particular, went at it pretty seriously, and they did rather well, each with 13 laps and a place on the podium. There were others at my campsite -- actually I was staying at their campsite, we're talking course designers Bob & Karen and their JORBA crew -- and they were there for the laughs and camping, and the occasional adventure of a lap around the course. I think I was a happy medium between the two (ie going hard and going easy), but I'm pretty sure we all had a good time.

I'll probably have more to say on this as the week progresses, but I also went out last night, to Porters for a "victory dinner" with Anne and Brian, so tonight is a second try at an early bedtime. (Also, stay tuned for pictures because I took about 40 shots during the race, but that'll have to wait. By the way, all my shots taken with the new camera up until the race are now posted on flickr.) Good night!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Quick Post

Morning weigh-in: 167#, 7.5% BF
Allamuchy Here I Come! I prepped the bike last night, and also loaded my camping & bike repair gear in the car; tonight is food shopping and clothes packing, with a trip to the Velodrome in between -- last race of the season, I'm meeting Anne & some friends to check out the action.

Anyway, that's my story until Monday. See ya...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Morning weigh-in (Wednesday): 166.5#, 8.5% BF (little bit o' suppression)
Morning weigh-in (Thursday): 167#, 10.5% BF (I worked out, ate right & this is the thanks I get)
The ride in to work Tuesday was a bit slow and congested, not too bad but you could tell there were a lot of idiots on the road. On the way home it was worse -- I kept thinking "Hmmm, full moon? Nope. Weather? Not that either..." as I dealt with all sorts of slowpokes in the left lane, aggressive yahoos in heavy traffic etc, but it all calmed down after crossing the river. Until...
I got through Cemetery Curve no problem, but then traffic came to a dead stop about 200 yards from my exit: there was an accident in the left lane, multiple cars right at the exit, and everyone had to get over. I got through eventually, took back roads to the supermarket, and as I passed US22 again I saw that it was closed, this time in the Westbound direction. I though "wow, crazy day" but thought no more about it.
This is what that accident was all about, and in a way I suppose it was probably the cause of the accident at the 13th Street Exit as well. Two people dead, one in the hospital, all for a vacuum cleaner... (I'm guessing I came through that area about 5 minutes after he did, a few different choices and it could have been me that met him head on.) Classic psychopath, some people are questioning how the appropriateness of the police response, but it doesn't really sound like an irresponsible (on the part of the police) high speed chase: this guy fled the cop who pulled him over, hopped on the highway going the wrong way, and ruined a whole bunch of lives, all in a matter of moments.
Anyway, did a quick towpath lap, then went out to Sette Luna for dinner with Anne. We're meeting again tonight for dinner at Christian's Spring Hotel, but she brought me some string beans and tomatoes from her garden Tuesday, and I had them with a baked ham last night (I have leftover ham). No lie, probably the best tomatoes, and best string beans, I ever ate.
Summer's in deceleration, there's only a month left. The weather has been very nice the past few days, very 911 you might say, hope it stays that way through the weekend since I'll be camping/racing at Allamuchy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Camera: First Photo!

New Camera: First Photo!
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Surprisingly enough, this is a Linux post: cameras put extra data into the photo file, things like what type of camera took the picture, when (and, if your camera has GPS, where) the photo was taken, etc. Exif metadata is an example of this kind of thing.

My original photos are big files, with a lot more detail than is necessary for web viewing -- and the new camera produces even larger, more detailed photos -- so what I do is shrink them down before trying to upload them over my slow dialup connection. I would do this with a small program I wrote, that used standard file conversion utilities to decompress the JPEG-format file, re-scale the decompressed version and then re-compress it. Voila, a smaller file, but this method basically throws out any metadata; none of it ends up in the new file.

I really didn't worry about the metadata before, but now I want to keep the "photo taken on this date" information (as well as camera info) with the photo, since I will no longer be putting a visible date stamp on my photos. (Flickr shows this info to the right of the photo on the individual photo's display page.)

My solution is to do pretty much what flickr does when it process a photo: I used a small utility program called mogrify, part of the ImageMagick suite, which can do all these conversions while preserving the metadata. I tried it with this shot, and you can click on the photo to follow the link back flickr and see the metadata off to the right. Mission accomplished! My next task is to automate the process with a script and install it in Nautilus.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Got A New Toy

Morning weigh-in: 167#, 9.5% BF (not great, but less scary than yesterday)
OK, so I'm back on the "better eat better" kick, since I've been on a downward nutritional spiral lately. Clean up my act, cook/eat at home, etc. Luckily, Porters is closed for renovations... Nothing scary, they're not pulling a Which Brew or anything, just a little downtime -- and they'll be smoke-free when they reopen Friday. Bonus!
Eating: Dinner last night was beans; breakfast was scrambled eggs plus two small apples.
Listening: I was jamming to Neko Case this morning, "Deep Red Bells" to be specific, though "jamming" may not be the right term to use here. Forget haunting, that song is just plain spooky.
Gadget Watch: I was listening to music on the computer this morning, since I still don't have an iPod or portable mp3 player. But, I do have a new camera now: I picked up an Olympus Stylus 850 SW last night at Dan's Camera City. Waterproof down to 10 feet, shock resistant (within reason), better and faster and more megapixels than my old camera, thought the one feature I really wanted -- instant image processing, so the picture you get is what you see the instant you press the shutter -- is only available with the DSLR cameras. Meantime, DSLR is only available on those cameras with the separate detachable lenses, like professional cameras and such, and that's definitely not what I wanted. Oh well, my new one does have a "burst mode," which is a good second choice, and I can now make underwater videos if uh, I ever want to...
If the weather holds I'll probably do a ride tonight, then some shopping and bike prep. Tomorrow will be yoga.