Friday, March 14, 2008

Readin' Some Poetry, And Drinkin' Some Beer

Morning weigh-in: 165#, 9% BF
Ride Report: Hit the 'burg with Joe G last night. We started around 6:30 and rode until dark, then went back to the cars, put our lights on and went out for another hour or two -- we got in almost exactly 18 miles in total, with maybe two and a half hours total riding time. It was good to get out on real trails, even though they were a little beat up from the winter (we were also worried about mud, but it wasn't bad). The temperature was a little higher than our recent rides, and Joe's lungs were a little more thawed out -- and his technical skills neutralized any fitness advantage I may still have -- so I was huffing and puffing to keep up. Funny how I've been working on the indoor training, the strength, cross-training & cardio, the spinning and the road rides, and thought I was pretty awesome, but when the rubber finally hit the offroad for real, I saw how much work I still have to do.
Like I said, it was good to be out; that was probably my first real offroad ride of the season. Bike performed well too, except for a few minor and not-unexpected "brand new rear derailleur cable" issues.
Tavern Report: After that I went to dinner at the Christian's Spring Hotel. Pretty nice place, but I'll get my three negative observations out of the way first: they need more parking, Thursday night is "cigar night" in the bar room, and they only take cash -- other than that the place is awesome. There are other rooms in the place (pool room, library, and dining room -- the last two of which are non-smoking) if the cigars bother you, and I believe they are working on solving the other two. The food is very good, ditto the beer selection and the jukebox, and any bar with a library is going to get my seal of approval...
The basic setup is this: you walk in the front door, and you're in the (relatively small) bar, which is like a public room circa 1880 or so; off to the right is a hallway opening up to the dining room and, in the back, a pool room and a library. I sat at the bar and got a Vanilla Java Porter -- luckily I had the cash, because I asked "you take Visa?" only after my first sip... I finished my beer and hit a nearby ATM, then came back and got dinner, a roast beef sandwich. (The cook told me that he roasted the beef himself that day, from midnight until about 11:30 AM, and the potatoes came from Padula's potato farm, a place I've been driving past fro about two decades on the way to Jim Thorpe.)
I wandered around the rest of the place, library, pool room etc, while waiting for my food, but ate at the bar. (Good book selection, by the way; I sat and read some poetry while sipping my Anderson Valley Double White and waiting for dinner.) Had a good conversation with Lynne, the bartender/owner, about their place and their philosophy of what they're trying to achieve there, the renovations they did, and their future plans, and all the while while their jukebox played "Honky Tonk Blues," "Jambalaya," and "Blitzkrieg Bop." That place is just too cool for skool... It probably won't be on a Thursday, but I am definitely going back.
Tonight is Which Brew (St Patty's Day informal party with the Skulldiggers), after one, or maybe two towpath rides. Tomorrow is a busy day for me, since I want to get a haircut and new sneakers (both must happen in Bethlehem) besides all my other stuff.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What A Difference A Day Makes

Morning weigh-in: 165.5#, 8% BF
Bike: All is well. It took me all of five minutes to finish the adjustments, and now the front derailleur shifts just fine. I can't believe I lost sleep over that... I'll be giving it a real test tonight at Jacobsburg, sunset riding with Joe G -- we're bringing lights, but should get about an hour of daylight before we need them. Woo Hoo! Tomorrow is the towpath again, and I may do double-duty, riding early then meeting Larry later for the "real ride." This Daylight Saving Time is the shit.
More Reverb! Via founding member Roy's blog, I see that there's a Reverb Motherfuckers tribute at Sleazegrinder. That too is the shit.
By the way, while working on the bike on Tuesday evening I heard fire engines. City sounds,  I thought nothing of it until I realized that they were getting unusually loud, and I could also hear the diesel growl of the engines as they came to a stop... I ran into the front yard, and there I saw police cars blocking the street, and two fire engines plus a UGI truck out front. I turned around, got a quick glimpse of my unburnt apartment, then went back to watching the show: no biggie, there was just a gas leak across the street and they had to take the proper precautions while fixing it. I took my own precautions by returning to the bike work, figured I'd be safer with several buildings between me and and any exploding neighbor's house.
Reading: I'm just finishing up the first part of Male Fantasies: Women, Floods, Bodies, History, ie the "Women" part. Very tedious, but it helps to know that this first started out as a doctoral dissertation: there's been a lot of backing and filling, examining this blind alley and exhausting that possible interpretation; he's been laying the chess pieces out on the table and now he's finally making his moves -- in the section titled "Concluding Remarks" or "Preliminary Findings" or whatever. You know, back when I was a kid there used to be a thing called "the abstract," which could have made this process a little more palatable...
Back in the Eighties, my friend Steve had a party at his Keyport storefront apartment while his more mature roommate was away. A bunch of us were out his back window, on the roof of the store, and started jumping up and down on a pipe out there. The pipe broke and natural gas came pouring out, like a lot of it really fast. The party panicked, the street was evacuated -- firemen in the apartment forcing us outside, cops at the door making us leave our beers behind -- and I'm pretty sure we made the Keyport papers.
Anyway, last night was yoga, with that turkey sub for dinner afterward. Tonight I'll probably check out that Christian's Spring Hotel for dinner after the ride.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Morning weigh-in: 166.5, 8% BF
Well I got the stuff I needed yesterday, so I took a rest day and did some bike maintenance. New cassette in the back, new chain, new rear shifter cables, and new front derailleur. Everything went well except the derailleur... I expected a few problems; installing and adjusting a front derailleur is kind of a black art, and one I have not practiced lately since the old derailleur lasted seven years, but: I took it out of the box and it was the wrong type (it'll probably work anyway), it was missing a bolt and the bolt from the old one didn't fit (I found a spare in the shed), and finally I had problems getting it to shift correctly -- in other words I finally got to the Square One of Black Art that I expected. Loosen things up, make slight adjustment, tighten everything back down, test the shifting in the repair stand, try it while riding up and down the alley, say a few choice cuss words, repeat ad nauseum...
Didn't get it to work. I'll be messing with it again tonight, before and after yoga, but after about three hours last night I just decided to put it away, and was so frustrated I didn't want to cook anything healthy -- I wanted comfort food. Dinner was at Which Brew.
Won't You Be My Neighbor? I got there around 9:30, and got a burger and a beer. It was a bit crowded at first, last remnants of the true dinner crowd, but it thinned out fairly quickly after 10:00 or so. Hanging out with Christina on my left (I think that's her name, she was drawing something she called "sacred geometry"), Dave to my right (another engineer, he took off then came back to show off his new puppies to the cook -- all the girls there are total "dog people"), Kateryna tending bar, and her boyfriend hanging out to give her a lift home. It's a world I know, and there were good conversations on all sorts of subjects going on. I kind of realized it's more than just my neighborhood bar, that place is really my ... neighborhood.
Anyway, tonight is yoga, dinner will be a turkey sub, and I will most likely be riding up and down the alley, wrenching, and cussing under my breath deep into the night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Morning weigh-in: 166#, 10.5% BF
You Down With DST? Got home last night, or rather I should say yesterday afternoon, and was on the bike by 5:15 for a hot lap down the towpath, my operating term for the ride being civil twilight. I had one mishap, when a stick kicked up into my rear wheel and actually broke off the tire's valve stem -- boom! -- but even fixing the flat I made it down to Freemansburg and then back home before the sun went down.
Another Revelation: Not much talk about good old biomathematics lately, but I have started messing around again. Most of what I'm looking at is background, less numerical/modeling than analytical, blah de blah, " we see that stability is determined by the Jacobian at the equilibrium point, whose determinant is purely imaginary in this case. Returning to the phase plane we find..." -- c'mon, c'mon, get to the good stuff!
Anyway, I have been seeing a lot of information about predator-prey and interspecific competition models, their derivations from first principles, underlying assumptions etc, and sure enough, Lotka-Volterra is problematic: the underlying assumptions are, as I suspected, simplified to the point of being incomplete. Hmmmm, just as I suspected... I'm not sure I understand the rationale behind the improved model yet, though.
Linux Trainwreck: Don't know what I did wrong, I thought I solved this last year, but my computer does not believe that it's Daylight Saving Time yet. Easy enough to fix I'm sure, just replace some old file with the current one, or I can do some research and do it right... Funny how I have so much computer/math/science on my plate all of a sudden, now that winter hobbies must give way to summer ones.
Sol Invictus: Sun came up as I drove to work today; for a while I was driving straight into a solar tower. God's fist smashing through the bell jar like some KMFDM video, yeah...
Tonight I may take a rest day, and if things work out -- as in, my Fed-Ex package of bike stuff arrives -- I'll be working on the Turner, getting it ready for Moab. (Otherwise it's alterna-workout nite at the gym, as my legs are shot.) Dinner last night was black beans and a salad, and that's probably what tonight's will be as well.
By the way, yesterday's "Donny the Revelator" did not refer to me. Just sayin'...

Monday, March 10, 2008

In The Cathedral Of Saint Donny The Revelator

Morning weigh-in: 168#, 10% BF
Pretty good weekend, pretty good...
Friday night I hit the towpath despite the rain; I did a shortened out-and-back, turning around at the mud pit that is Freemansburg, but I did get in about 20 miles total. I was a drowned rat within minutes of starting but I had a great time -- right clothes, right gear, yadda yadda, my biggest issue was, as always, visibility. Conditions were actually better on the towpath (except at Freemansburg), than they were last week: the rain had flattened down all the freeze-thaw stuff, and the surface was actually hard and fast. I finished the ride by 7:00 or so, was showered and out the door again by 7:30.
Scooted over to Which Brew, where I met Joe & Cindy for a beer -- they were having dinner, but I was meeting my friend Greg at Porters, 8:30 dinner reservations so I couldn't stay long. The gossip is all about the double-secret training regimens we all may or may not be implementing, and as the winter winds down the intrigue is starting to get thick. Talked bikes with Joe, went across the street and talked more bikes with Greg, whisper whisper gossip gossip, we're like a bunch of old ladies but it's gonna be a fast, fast year... Excellent dinner, caught a bit of the band and then went back to WB but Joe & Cindy were gone. Jammed out to local drummer Ryan's band (Ryan: yet another biker) and then it was bedtime.
Saturday I overslept, but made it -- barely! -- to early morning yoga, a nice solid vinyasa class. (That is a great way to start the day.) Breakfast at the Coffee Exchange, hit the gym for my last "super-hard strength workout" before the start of the season.
I went out a bit early, maybe 6:00 and it was back down to Which Brew for dinner. There's a definite Saturday afternoon crowd there, and it was actually packed. I was there too early for the dinner specials so I just hung out and BS'ed, then ordered (and ate) an entire artichoke pizza -- I guess I should say we're not talking full-size pizzas here, maybe just a bit bigger than bar-pie size, but still.
Ticket To Heaven: The last time I ate a whole pie at Which Brew, I got involved in a conversation with a dude who's not quite a regular there, but everyone knows him. Fit guy, runs, and he's pretty OK but I think he's a little slow, and he has a tendency to monopolize your conversation, mostly talking about his running -- I ended up talking with him again Saturday for quite a while. The guy's harmless and I give him credit, he'll talk to anyone, which is good because it makes things easier if we all do our share of socializing instead of having one person trapped...
Before my friend Vito retired, he'd make me help him with the computer stuff at work, and when I' get exasperated he'd laugh and say that he was my ticket to heaven, in that I was stocking up on good deeds. That dude was talking to some girls next to me, and I think one of them was a bit uncomfortable so I used that phrase, and told her that her time with him was "her ticket to heaven." I think she was a little relieved to hear it, mainly because she was not trapped by herself with some crazy stranger...
(Actually there was a bit of crazy talk, which amounted to his version of "guy talk" to me, and which I won't repeat here but it was a real eye opener.)
But like I said, I give the guy credit, and I have to say he's paying attention: I once mentioned the name of my employer and he remembered it that Friday, and back on that Friday he mentioned a band he liked (Gov't Mule), and this Saturday he brought in a CD to loan me. I gave it a listen, not really my cup of tea (sort of corporate blues-rock) but there was one song I dug, "John the Revelator." It's an old song and a good one, but I have heard better versions.
Anyway, a lot of talk about a short night -- I was home by 9:00 or so.
Sunday was another early morning yoga class, ashtanga this time, and pretty strenuous. Brunch after that, then I met my friend Joe for another Sunday afternoon river ride. It was cool, maybe in the forties, and windy, but the sky was an awesome blue, like a big bell jar without the Sylvia Plath connotations, or maybe some giant cathedral. River Road was flooded in some areas, and in others it was iced over or torn up by the winter, so we had to go slow (the wind didn't help, except when it was at our backs). It was a long ride, maybe 40 miles, but not fast or strenuous at all; we even stopped to check out an old cemetery and found some pre-Revolutionary graves. He and his girlfriend were having a pot roast for dinner and he invited me to join them, but I actually had my own pot roast leftovers to finish -- besides, I didn't want to drive all the way to the Poconos, where they moved, just for dinner. I got home, inhaled my pot roast, and did the "laundry nap" thing for the rest of the afternoon.
I'd call that 2.5 days seized, and well seized.