Friday, December 30, 2011


Wow, with this post I actually break 60 for the year!

Anne is off, with Emmi and her boyfriend, to their family's Christmas get-together, and I am here at home, fighting a cold which is slowly getting into my sinuses and chest. I think that the worst is past -- I always think that, as it gets worse and worse until I get antibiotics -- but this time I think it's true. I'll be going to bed in a few minutes, just in case.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Find Out What It Means To Me

Continuing my vacation, recent developments:

We did the Ride Of Respect last Thursday night, the memorial/tribute ride for Patrick Ytsma, a local rider and bike advocate -- known to be a stickler for legal and safe cycling -- who was run down by some old lady on the New Street Bridge.

 (It was a sad and chilling thing to hear first the rumors, then the hard news of the accident as it made its way through the local community -- the general consensus was that he probably was doing everything right, and if he could get hit then any one of us could, and I'd been over that bridge myself only an hour before...)

The ride itself was kind of neat -- it started next to Sand Island, not too far from our house, and the literally hundreds of cyclists assembled in the dark with their riding lights blazing was a very inspiring sight as we rolled down the hill into the parking lot. There were about 300 riders, including maybe 40 or so from my bike club and another 50 or so that were friends with either Anne or myself. We rolled out around 7:00, rode through downtown, over the bridge and then back again, and ended up at City Hall, where there was a memorial service. The police chief (who is also a bike cop) spoke, as did Steve from CAT, some fellow cyclists from the Lehigh Wheelmen, and Pat's widow. Definitely a sad event, but a beautiful tribute.

We ended the event with about 50 bikers in the back of the Brew Works, our version of an Irish wake.

Keeping It Real: I really love my Logitech Squeezebox, but it seemed to have one really annoying quirk which I couldn't find a way around-- it just would not play, or even acknowledge the existence of, certain songs on my laptop. (What made it worse is that every other music player played these songs no problem, and the same music files, on Anne's laptop, would play fine through the Squeezebox.)

I had no idea what was causing it, until things came to a head last night when a new CD I'd burned would not play. I went nuts looking for the problem -- wrong file type? wrong sampling rate? -- there was no pattern to it, until a Google clue had me look at file permissions. Turns out, some CD rippers were setting the file permissions so only I could read the resulting MP3 file, or the containing folders, and since the Squeezebox software runs as if it were a separate user on my machine, it couldn't even see the jiggered folders and files.

The solution was easier than I thought it would be, considering the offending files were randomly distributed throughout my music file hierarchy:

$ file . -type -d ! -perm 755 -point0 |xargs -0 chmod 755
$ file . -type -f ! -perm 644 -point0 |xargs -0 chmod 644

Bang! Less than a minute and the problem was solved. There's a reason tech guys, solving computer problems, first ask if the thing's plugged in...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

...aaaand This One Goes To Twenty Two

This has been my worst year for blogging: over the years my output has gradually dropped from a high of just over 250 posts a year (in the mid-aughts) to somewhere around a hundred a year, and this year's precipitous drop means I'll probably finish this year with less than sixty posts.

Why is that? I've been very busy this year at work, which left me no time -- I used to post by email during my lunch break -- or mental energy for posting, but the main reason is probably because I have someone to talk to, and do things with, and the need to spout off into the void has waned over the past few years...

Right now I'm home, done with work until the new year; I've been off this whole week, but I spent most of the time either decompressing or shopping (ie "re-compressing"). What's been going on:

Computer Play: The first thing I did when I got home from work (for the end of the year) was plunk myself down in front of the computer and fire up GRASS (huh huh, do they still call it "grass," man?) to build a map of Trexler Nature Preserve. Once more unto the breach etc, and I have to say that tasks that once seemed hard have become much easier, and I learned a lot more about other (new) things I wanted to do.

The few weeks before the end of the year saw me doing a lot of calculations at work, using a powerful but old and unwieldy in-house program that needed to be bamboozled (by tweaking the input data in a rather artificial manner) into doing what I needed. So, for my own edification and to scratch a certain itch, I spent a lot of time playing with Octave to re-do the calculations on my own at home.

Bike and Exercise: Riding, but not really all that much. We've been doing that P90X workout, and I have to say I've seen results, but not spectacular ones, but then again our (read: my) commitment to the program has been less than spectacular -- I never followed the diet, and the rigidity of the workout schedule made me basically rebel and skip days when I wanted to do other things (like bike), so there's that. I really can't wait for this to be over, about two weeks from now. (This really comes down to a question of timing: This would be a great off-season conditioning program, but we started too soon, while we were still in riding season, and we'll finish too soon, smack in the middle of when there's not much to do outside, even in terms of off-season cross training stuff like XC skiing.)

Meantime, I've been battling allergies and asthma, so I've been taking it easy on the bike anyway. Next season's base work is going to be a long tough slog...

More layer - maybe! Right now I'm going for a ride.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This One Goes To Eleven

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day! A-and a big birthday shout-out to my main squeeze too -- Happy Birthday, baby!
Nothing much to report since yesterday's rant. Got home, did some P90X -- which has become much more enjoyable after we switched the sound off, but we're still lapsing rather fashionably: we do it about 4 days a week instead of six, and are constantly falling behind schedule. Afterward we hit Brew Works for dinner, where we saw Deb & Scott.
Tonight is a small get-together at our place, and tomorrow is one of Anne's great-nephew's birthdays. (We got him a Strider, which seems to be this year's buzz product for the cycling-parent-with-toddlers set -- though admittedly it may just seem that way because I've been around that sort of crowd more lately, what with Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day and the Nox Grand Opening. It is amazing though to watch kids, even young ones almost too young to walk, zip around on those things, on and off road.)  Sunday is trailwork and a ride at Trex.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Candyman! Candymaaaaaan!!!

Morning weigh-in: 188#, 13.5% BF
Happy Anniversary, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald! (The event itself, not the song, which surprised me, years after its release, by being about a contemporary event -- I always assumed the song's story was made up, or old folklore. I do think the song is awesome, but today is not the anniverary of the song.)
Meanwhile, back in Happy Valley: This is just crazy -- Joe Paterno's long-time #2, and heir apparent, had apparently been raping young boys, groomed through a youth organization he founded, for years, and was forced into retirement in the late 1990's when allegations first came out, though no one blocked his access to either the campus facilities, or the young boys in the youth organization. Fast forward to 2002, when a graduate assistant coach basically caught the guy in the act of raping a 10-year-old boy in the college football facility showers. He reported this not to the police but to Joe Paterno, who then reported it to his superiors, and so on up the Penn State chain of command. The child rapist was forbidden to bring young boys on campus anymore, though if I read the news reports right he was still holding overnight football camps there as late as 2009.
Some parents caught on and confronted this guy (with police listening in), and after a three-year investigation he was busted the other day, as were several others in the Penn State football organization for their roles in a coverup. Joe Paterno and the college president, both of whom who cooperated with the grand jury, were found to have acted within the letter of the law (really? I still have trouble believing this), though in moral terms they are guilty of monstrous acts, allowing this activity to be swept under the rug -- and thus to continue, with the pedophile racking up more victims -- as the expedient way to protect the Penn State brand, and have been denounced as such by all local opinion that does not have a vested interest in that brand. (This is Penn State territory, and you should see the heads spinning around here right now.)
Demands were made for heads to roll, Paterno's as well as the president's, while the University's Board of Trustees were busy investigating the whole affair and trying to decide what to do. Paterno released several mealy-mouthed and self-serving press releases lamenting "recent developments," and finally announced he would retire at the end of this season. I took this as a slap at the Trustees who were trying to decide his fate, and I guess they took it the same way, because they fired both him and the president late yesterday.
So last night, some 10,000 Penn State students showed how they felt about things by rioting in protest of Joe Paterno's ouster, breaking storefront windows, knocking down lamp posts, lighting at least one small fire, and overturning a TV news van -- you know, the real culprits behind this scandal. So I guess that means that there are about 10,000 sociopaths at Penn State, who are fine with child sacrifice going on somewhere offscreen as long as it lets their party continue, and who throw a tantrum when their supplier is taken away.
(Hey, wasn't yesterday the anniversary of Kristallnacht?)
Parting Shot: Penn State alum and former Senator Rick "Santorum" Santorum once gave this Sandusky guy an award for the way he ran that youth organization.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A Milestone

The oven is still not quite finished yet, it still needs insulation and a roof, but today was the day we fired it for real. I'm getting good at splitting wood with the axe, and Anne is now a veteran firestarter, and we got the thing up and roaring in no time: first a small "starter" fire in the morning, then a bigger one, the first real one, this afternoon. Apart from one mishap -- the chimney flue cracked under the thermal load of the big fire, but apparently that's common and not a big deal -- things went swimmingly, and we now have bread baking in the oven!!

Seven loaves, to be exact, as well as two potatoes and two sweet potatoes roasting in the ash bucket, and we'll also probably make a couple of pizzas before the evening's over.

There are a number of bugs to be worked out of the system, and more infrastructure we need to put in place (plus the roof, hardware for which we bought today), but we now have a fully functional oven in the backyard.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Month In Review(s)

Well that went pretty quickly, I didn't realize it had been a full month since my last post. Work has been insanely busy lately, and I've found myself with little time or inclination to write anything here: all my resurces have been used up. Not much worth noting has gone down either, not that that has ever stopped me before, when I'm in the mood to write, or had the strength.

Right now I'm on vacation. We drove down to Asheville, North Carolina on Monday, and we're here until Friday, when we go to visit Emmi in Knoxville.Monday night was a bit of night life, yesterday was a 40 mile road ride (20 miles uphill, then turn around and coast back) on the Blue Ridge Parkway, followed by more nightlife, and today is a sort of rest day / weather break so we've been checking out the local downtown scene in the daylight, brunch and bakery and coffee shop, and my batteries have recharged enough to check  in here...

Listening: I got that SqueezeBox I was talking about. It was kind of a compromise between what I wanted and what's readily available, but it seems to do the job as advertised. The biggest -- and really, the only -- disappointment is that I can't seem to just transparently stream sounds through it from my computer: it has a special server I had to install on my laptop, which reads music files (from the same music collection my "real" music program uses) or internet radio, and sends the results to the Squeezebox. The server has a browser interface which actually works very well, and as time goes by it's pretty much become my "real" music program.

We've been listening to a lot of music lately, including some radio stations Anne likes that we can't ordinarily get, as well as internet-only stuff like Radio Paradise (Strangely enough, we're listening to Radio Paradise right now, in an Asheville bakery/coffeeshop.) The next step is to get Anne's music available through the Squeezebox, which should be pretty easy once we get the server installed on her laptop.

Doing: We've got about a month of P90X under our belts now, Anne and I; we've been doing it together most weeknights after I get home from work. We are basically through the first of three phases, each lasting three weeks with a "rest week" in between. It's pretty hard, but I've done harder workouts (back when I was younger).

The biggest positives so far have been that the workouts, especially the "cardio" ones like Plyometrics and Kenpo, are really fun, especially when we're working out together, and that I am starting to see some difference in my arms, which had been suffering a bit of neglect over the past year or so.

Negatives? There are two: one is that the program is extremely rigid, so there's no real "wiggle room" in case I want to, say, do a ride, or maybe just take a rest day, instead of that day's scheduled workout. (We tried doing them in the morning to leave the evenings free for other things, but that has its own downsides.) The other big negative is the trainer himself, Tony Horton. He seems to know his stuff, and keeps the workout moving along, but he's an old stand-up comic and it shows -- his constant stream of banter, workout slogans and bad jokes becomes wearing after a while. Anne and I have taken to repeating his expressions as inside jokes...

New Bike: The new trails at Lake Nockamixon finally had their Grand Opening complete with food, music, guided trail tours, and a raffle -- and I won the Grand Prize, a Specialized Hardrock Disc 29er. So far I've only played with it by riding around town, but as soon as I have it dialed in, and install some clipless pedals, I'll be hitting the local trails so stay tuned for a full report.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Autumn In The Air

Morning weigh-in: 188#, 14% BF
It's been really nice the past few days, more September-like than September's really been so far: sunny, cool verging on brisk (we've been waking to chilly mornings); my favorite season is just around the corner...
My Mom's birthday was yesterday and we visited for a little celebration dinner, and we decided to make a day of it:
Our first stop on the way down was the Englishtown Auction, which I'd been talking about a lot after bumping into some High School friends at a recent party. (The standard joke was that every teenager in Manalapan worked either there or at Raceway Park at some point; my friends and I worked at both, and lived within walking distance, and we had many teen adventures at both places and the surrounding woods, now long gone.) It's been years since I was there, and Anne had never been there, so we stopped for lunch at the good old burrito stand in the Yellow Building. I parked a bit towards the back, and we walked through the farther sections of the outdoor stands -- we were late, and things were winding down, but it seemed like the place was smaller than I remembered. Over to the taco stand, where the burritos also seemed smaller than I remembered, though still delicious, then we wandered back to the car by cutting through the buildings.
Next stop was Allaire, where we put in just over an hour of exploring. It was a perfect day for a ride, and we a great time, even with the World's Largest Vuvuzela blasting at intervals int the distance -- not annoying or anything, just weird, like maybe there was a factory with a horn, or some football game with fans blowing horns, nearby. Sandy soil and twisty trails over moderate terrain, we had a lot of fun until we realized that it was getting late, then had to find our way back to the car.
Luckily my parents only live a couple of minutes away, and we arrived only a little late... It was us, and my parents, and my brother and his wife and her parents; snacks and and small talk, ziti and meatballs, and a birthday cake -- I gave my mom Wolf Hall and In Hovering Flight. We were home by 11:00, and asleep about two minutes later.
Tonight we both start the P90X program.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Itch 2: Electric Boogaloo

My computer play has been pretty desultory lately: I keep sitting down in front of my laptop, wanting to do something "computerey" and creative, and I can think of nothing I want to do, and I just end up surfing. But, finally driven by rainy-weekend boredom, I decided to take a look at that GRAMPS genealogical software, and sat down Sunday morning to figure out my family tree.
I'm totally hooked. It took a while to figure out how to use the software, but it seems logical enough once you get the hang of adding data and navigating among people and relationships. I input the stuff I knew, the low hanging fruit like my family, parents and grandparents, brothers and their families, cousins etc, with birth dates if I knew them offhand -- this "vital statistics" kind of biographical info is a big part of genealogy, and the genealogical software, but I know very few birth, death and marriage dates for even my closer relatives -- then broke out a history of my father's family (written by my mother) and spent Sunday afternoon and Monday parsing it for stuff I could use. I exhausted that family history, got in touch with some cousins on my mother's side, who'd done their own family tree research and got some online stuff from them, and in the course of that I contacted someone at, who has info about the ancestry of my father's paternal grandfather, but needs info on his descendants and is willing to trade (I'm waiting to hear back)...
Like I said, I'm hooked; I found something to scratch my itch. I think I have most of my ancestors, their names at least, to about four generations back, and pretty much all their descendants; now I just need to start fleshing them all out with vital statistics, photos, and family stories.
Here's a story: My father's father died the year before my parents met, but my paternal grandmother was still alive when I was a small child. According to my mom's email, she died in August of 1967, which would be when I was four years old, and the month before we moved to Englishtown, and about the time of my earliest memories. (The earliest memories that I can date are of Kevin and me, arguing over whether I was still older when we were both three for a time, which means it would be late March or early April 1967, and some from the summer of 1967, when we visited the construction site for our new home -- but those might be mixed up with photos and 8mm movies of those visits.) So I'm guessing then that the one time I remember meeting my grandmother was (obviously) before August 1967, but not too much before.
It's just a few jumbled images: she was in a wheelchair, and maybe that wheelchair was on a a sort of dais or podium, and she seemed out of it, or possibly just unable to communicate, but happy. She had longish white hair and was maybe wearing a brownish cardigan; the walls might have been a light green but floor and furniture were brown wood, and the wheelchair seems to be wood and wicker in my mind's eye. My mom and dad sort of introduced us and put me in her lap, and she held me for a moment. They probably did the same with Kevin and Chris but I don't remember. It was the only time I can remember meeting her, and it was possibly the only time I ever did meet her.
Speaking Of "The Itch:" My dad tells stories about a really downscale second-run movie theater in his childhood neighborhood, nicknamed "The Itch" because it was a good place to end up with lice if you leaned back in your seat. I googled it once, and found that it was a generic NYC name for that type of theater back in the day. Who knew?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Why Can't I Just Have What I Want?

I'm looking to set up a wireless music connection to the stereo at home, a bridge receiver, or media bridge, I think it would be called. Something that connects wirelessly to the home network, and has audio output for the stereo, so we can stream music wirelessly from our computers -- my Ubuntu machine as well as Anne's Mac, plus Emmi's or Ben's, or any visitor's, laptop. Sounds simple, right?

(This is actually what we have right now via a Bluetooth receiver, which shows up as headphones on your Bluetooth-enabled laptop or smartphone:  You have your music program send the audio signal to the "headphones" instead of the normal speakers and it comes out the stereo. Very simple and easy to use, and music quality is OK, but the Bluetooth range is so short it's almost useless -- I usually just use my phone's music, and lay the phone on the stereo while things are playing, so I might as well have connected the phone to the stereo by headphone jack. The range issue is why I'm thinking of going with wifi.)
Some parts of my wishlist make this less than simple, though: I would prefer that no additional software needs to be installed on any computer, and I would also like the music to be played (ie, the file decoded and turned into an audio signal), or at least controlled, by the music program on the laptop, and the system must be usable with Linux, Mac and Windows systems.

In other words:

1. Data enters the hypothetical device via wifi, and leaves via some audio jack.
2. The device can be accessed by any computer connected to our home network, and can play any music stored on those same computers, without having to modify those computers (ie add new software:,I would prefer if the device were controlled by the standard music player on each computer).
3. The device either simply pumps an audio signal from the network into the stereo, or can handle audio encoding formats besides the standard MP3 -- I'm thinking specifically of FLACC and Ogg Vorbis.

The biggest problem I've found so far is Apple. ITunes is ubiquitous, but the Mac stuff has a lot of DRM in the way, and Macs work best -- or at all? -- only with the Mac-approved products. My Linux laptop can handle the reverse engineered Apple protocol (DAAP), at least earlier versions before Apple re-crippled it, as well as the more common DLNA/UPnP, which actually seems more like what I want anyway.

My solution: It's not a perfect match to my needs, but I just bought a Logitech Squeezebox Touch. It needs special software to run, but that software is available for Mac, Windows and Linux, and the interface is via web browser. (There are also Squeezebox controller apps available for smartphones, so our iPhones and Droids can be used as remotes.) I don't know what the story is yet about oddball file formats, but I guess if it comes down to it I can do some kind of on-the-fly transcoding.

The main thing is that it receives the music via wifi -- the only other serious choice, the Sonos ZonePlayer 90, does not use wifi but its own wireless network, so at least one component of your system has to be physically attached (by Ethernet cable) to your router, and what that means is that if the router and stereo are not near each other, you either have to run Ethernet cable between them or buy a second Sonos device for a non-wifi wireless connection.

Anyway, we should be up and running by next weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Shifting In The Sky

Ah yes, woke up this morning and it was the start of a beautiful September day, blue-sky sunny and cool, and while I was in the basement I even heard the furnace come on...
Speaking of basements, we had a bit of water in our basement but came through otherwise unscathed from Hurricane Irene. Saturday was weirdly warm and occasionally rainy -- which was fine by me, since Rob's funeral was in the morning, and the rest of the day was spent sort of hanging out in a depressed, headachey torpor -- then the real rain started late in the afternoon, and at around 9:00 the wind, which had been getting gustier and more ominous all evening, suddenly increased to a constant howl. Anne and I were reading in bed and listening to the storm until about midnight, it was pretty wild.
We took a walk in the morning and met Debbie; we checked out Monocacy Creek (it flooded the Colonial Industrial Quarter, but I've seen worse), and the Lehigh from Sand Island (also high, officially at "flood stage," but again I've seen worse). There were a few trees down on Sand Island, and some we saw walking through the neighborhoods, and power was out in a few areas, but overall I think Bethlehem, and the Lehigh Valley in general, came out OK -- I have friends in Vermont who have been cut off by floodwaters since the storm.
We've never had water trouble, it's just not on our radar, so it wasn't until afternoon that we even thought to look in the basement. Sure enough, we found about an inch of water, in the portion of the basement inaccessible to the drain. We had to bust out the Shop-Vac for a an hour or so, and we tossed a bunch stuff that got ruined, plus a bunch of stuff we just pretended was ruined and tossed anyway because the basement was cluttered.
Monday I did a decent run. Normally I do almost exactly a 5k, and my body can absorb that distance just fine, but anything past that (like literally 5k plus five steps) is torture; Monday's run was a pleasant four miles, mostly along the towpath. Not a personal best, since I used to run that far or further on a regular basis, but it was my longest run in quite a while. Just don't ask about pace...
Tuesday was the VMB meeting at Jordan, which was nice and short and we got a lot done. I did a ride beforehand, and it was short but not so nice, mainly because of debris (and a few down trees), along the trails. Last night we watched the Brew Works Mug Club Auction, and tonight we're seeing a show at Steel Stacks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Lovely Evening

Morning weigh-in: 185.5#, 15% BF
I met Anne and Donna last night at Nockamixon, me coming from work and them from Bethlehem, and we had an awesome time riding the trails. Anne loves it there, and this was Donna's first time and she really liked it too -- she said it was one of the nicest places she's ridden so far, fun and challenging without being impossible. High praise indeed! It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful night, with the late afternoon sun bouncing off the lake and illuminating the woods...
Summer is winding down though, and right now the place it shows most is in the woods on a late afternoon ride: we started at 6:00, and by 7:30 things were already getting dark under the canopy, even if it wasn't quite twilight elsewhere, so we skipped the last part and took the road back to the cars. Anne says they'll be riding there again in the future, but during the day -- while I'm at work, oh well -- so they'll have time to explore and try things.
Home, where Anne and I were both feeling tired and lazy, so we just kicked back and read awhile before crashing. I'm still in the middle of The Pale King, while Anne finished Mason & Dixon the other day and is now working on The Slap. Funny, we bought both our books in the same bookstore (in Northampton MA) at the same time, so our store-supplied bookmarks are identical -- which, under the right conditions, can be the source of much comedy.
Tonight, if the rain isn't too bad, I'll probably do a run, otherwise I'll hit the gym. Meanwhile, I need to think of a new winter computer project now that the weather's starting to change. Maybe I'll put together a file backup system using my old computer, and maybe some DIY music server?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

These Little Earthquakes

So there I was at work yesterday when the room started shaking -- actually, more a gentle swaying, probably the building's reaction is what I felt -- and the guy across from me and I look at each other and say in unison: "Earthquake?"
And that's just what it was, the Great Virginia Quake of 2011, 5.9 on the Richter Scale or whatever it is they're calling it these days, felt, according to the posted reports of my Facebook friends, from Vermont to North Carolina. Luckily, damage was fairly minor, and I don't think anyone was killed or even hurt, though there were evacuations in Washington and New York. (I've lived on the East Coast my whole life and still managed to experience four earthquakes before this, and yesterday's was the most obvious, possibly because I was on the second floor, and awake. Anne was working in the backyard when I texted her, and she thought I was kidding -- she never felt a thing.)
Anyway, I hit the gym after work, and after the homebound commute's construction craziness -- even Applebutter Road? WTF? -- then walked over to Steel Stacks to meet Anne and catch the Two Man Gentleman Band. I bumped into my friend Lee on the way in, and Donna was there with Anne, and we sat with Doug and Lori, and Doug's parents, and Eric and Kris and some friends of theirs eventually joined us -- we had a pretty big crowd at one point. (Outdoor venue, free show on a beautiful night, the place was packed, and there were many others there that we knew.) Dinner at Brew Works after the show, hanging with Matt and Erin & Rick.
Tonight is Nockamixon after work, riding with Anne and Donna, and then we start our countdown to Hurricane Irene, which now seems like it might miss us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alvin and The Mysterons

Morning weigh-in (Monday): 189#, 12.5% BF
Morning weigh-in (Tuesday): 185#, 13.5% BF
Ouch! That was the result of a fun and rather "nutritionally dense" weekend...
Friday night was another "Heels on Wheels" ride, which was pretty awesome: Anne and myself, Emmi (who drove up from Knoxville and hopped right on a bike), Ben & Jaime, Donna, Erin & Rick, and Brian & Maris, and we were joined occasionally by pedestrian Matt. It was Brian's birthday, Ben & Jaime's only chance for a "Heels on Wheels" ride before heading back to whatever their destination was, and I think that all the girls got especially dolled up for this ride. (The guys? Not so much...) Way fun, we started and finished at Brew Works, and in between we hit Welcome, Molly's, the outdoor concert at Steel Stacks, and the Wooden Match.
Needless to say, the morning after was not quite as awesome, and I believe we all slept in on Saturday, except Ben and Jaime who were gone when we got up. I was going to do a JT ride, but I blew it off to just hang out at home. Saturday night we stayed in and read some more.
Sunday was a trailwork day at Sals for me, helping the crew do a little rock armoring in some of the wet areas, then I came home, and vegged out some more before diving into my bike project: the Turner had a major creaking problem, making noise on every pedal stroke and getting louder over the past week or so. I'm not sure what the exact problem was but I suspected either the suspension pivots or the bottom bracket, so I took off the rear wheel, cranks, shock etc, loosened and lubed the pivots, checked the BB bearings, and put it all back together nice and tight. So far it seems to be working -- I got skunked by a storm Sunday afternoon, but I got out to Sals yesterday and it was great to ride a bike that didn't sound like it was going to collapse any second. I also got to try the new rock armoring we did, and it was pretty sweet.
Listening: I just downloaded the first two Chemical Brothers albums, like from 1995 or so. For some reason -- and this isn't really true of the Chemical Brothers, but one or two of their songs do fall into this category -- I've been really enjoying 90's-era songs with droning or altered vocals, like Placebo's "Pure Morning," or "Setting Sun" by the Chemical Brothers. It's just a real mysterious sound to me, like exploring the abandoned, derelict and possibly haunted alien starship...
Tonight is the gym, then I should be meeting Anne at Steel Stacks to see the Two Man Gentleman Band.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Damn You Bacon Cheeseburger!

Morning weigh-in (Wednesday): 189#, 13.5% BF
Morning weigh-in (Thursday): 187#, 13.5% BF
So Tuesday night was a pretty decent run along the towpath, maybe 2.7 miles plus a walk back up the hill (that was my reward), 3.5 miles in 39 minutes; I'll be back in running shape, and shapely enough to fit in my kilt, in time for the Halloween 5k. It totally caused me to overheat though, I didn't feel comfortable for several hours afterward. I kind of blew the fitness afterward too, with a bacon cheeseburger & fries at the Brew Works. I needed my comfort food though, and it was a nice night there: Anne and me, and Ben and his girlfriend Jaime who are in town for a few days, and Debbie, and Donna was there with Brian and Erin. A good night, especially with Ben and Jaime there, but still pretty somber.
The cheeseburger bit me back though, as can be seen in the Wednesday weigh-in. Last night was a short ride along the towpath with Anne -- I must have been tired, because according to the computer we weren't going all that fast but it sure felt like we were flying. We did about 14 miles, out to the boat club and back, in about an hour. Then home and shower, and we hit Black and Blue in Easton for dinner, just me and Anne, and Ben and Jaime, though we did see a few of the usual suspects. A quiet night, and I watched the old caloric intake, and I think I did a little better on the scale this morning.
Tonight is the gym again (just in time too, as the pain from Monday is starting to fade), then I'm heading over to Eskandalo for a haircut.
Listening: I've been into Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Possess Your Heart" lately, really getting obsessive about it, listening over and over. Creepy and stalk-ey, and for some reason it reminds me of this incident (see more here and here), and I thought that would be a good video: a girl in an elevator, seen from outside, as a guy gets on the elevator. She turns and recognizes him, and not in a good way, just as the doors close on the scene. Scenes of those see-through elevators like they have in tacky-fancy hotels, doors closing and elevator descending, scenes of the guy getting on various elevators, over and over... I don't know, it works for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When It Rains Here, It Rains So Hard...

Morning weigh-in (Monday): 187.5#, 15% BF

...but never hard enough to wash away the sorrow. Goodbye Rob, I don't know if I'll ever be fully able to understand or accept what happened; all I know is I'm going to miss you.

The party's over: Musikfest ended Sunday night (we didn't go), and the summer is winding down. Time to start looking at those admittedly scary morning numbers once again... I'll be getting back to the gym, actually started last night after work, mostly arms and upper body for now. I dread what I'll find out about my diminished fitness over the next few days, but hey that's step one -- right now my chest and arms are awash in prostaglandins.
Watching: Anne read Barney's Version recently and really liked it, so she picked up the DVD when her friend Judy, who also loved the book, recommended the movie. (Usually people like one or the other, movie or book but not both, so this was a rarity.) We got a chance to watch it on Sunday afternoon. Verdict: not my type of movie, but good, and the ending was sad but pretty powerful -- sorry, no spoilers! I'm still on the fence whether I'll read the book or not.
After that we went over to Nazareth.  Sally's mom passed away last year, and Sally & Joe had a small memorial service/party at their house. It was nice, and their son Ben was there, and Judy, and Erika and Toby, and a bunch of other people plus members of the extended family, and tons of good food... I was doing well despite the presence of their dog, but we snuck out after about two hours; I took an antihistamine when we got home, just to be on the safe side, and we spent the rest of the evening with our feet up, reading. (Anne is almost done with Mason & Dixon, and I am totally engrossed in The Pale King.)
So yesterday I hit the gym, then when I get home Anne's out to dinner with some of her friends -- they get together every Monday -- but there's a note, placed strategically on my laptop, saying to call her as soon as I get home. So I do, and she tells me that Rob, a young friend of ours, had taken his own life that morning -- she didn't want me to find out on Facebook or email like some smack in the face.
I walked up to Brew Works and met Anne there, along with Donna and her daughter Erin -- Donna has a son and a daughter, and their ages bracketed Rob's, and she sometimes called Rob "her other son" -- and we just sort of hung out, gloomy but still too numb to really be distraught yet. Rob was a regular there, though Thursday was usually the night his crew got together; he lived on Main Street and worked for a company that had a Main Street presence, and there were some of his co-workers there as well last night -- it was an unusually subdued crowd. I guess we'll be finding out about arrangements over the next few days.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One More Nail

Another post, another rainy Sunday...

We were down at Musikfest yesterday and stayed, despite the rain, until the evening shows rolled around. (We visited Brew Works, bumped into Joe and Cindy, Eric and Kris, and Doug and Lori, and promised to meet them at Volksplatz later -- they were getting dinner.)

Down to Volksplatz where we'd been hiding from the rain earlier, and where we now caught up with Deb and Donna, and caught Marching Fourth, a crazy sort of marching band on stilts; we were in place, front and center, when Start Making Sense came on. Unfortunately, by that time it was pouring again, and with those guys already drawing a huge crowd of fans, and the tent swelled with people escaping the deluge, it was just too much of a crush -- Anne and I absconded to Emily's Kenyan food booth. We could see the show, and also the show of semi-inebriated kids dancing in the downpour. It was pretty cool, hanging out with Emily, and her crew, and Deb and Donna, but the rain kept getting worse, and our phones were beeping with flood warning alerts, and the Monocacy was an ominous presence right behind the midway...

We decided to beat it back to Brew Works, and got a fairly decent table, especially considering how crowded it was, and all our friends came in not long after: the creek jumped its bank and flooded the midway, and the venue tents were collapsing from the rain, and things came to an abrupt end when the cops made everyone evacuate. We hung out at Brew Works for quite a while; it turned into a pretty wild night. When Anne and I finally left the rain had stopped, and we could look down at the destruction in the Moravian Quarter as we crossed the Broad Street bridge. It was awesome and scary and depressing, and we were thinking about Emily's food stand and John's glass-blowing stuff, and a guy watching next to us said he was from Florida and his booth was under about four feet of water.

 This was the first year with venues on the Southside, and I think they were a mixed and limited success (read: bad idea made manifest), but I also think that the Fest cannot be split in two the way it was, and I am sure that the ArtsQuest guys will never back down on using their new space for Musikfest, so eventually the Northside part -- Main Street, the Colonial Industrial Quarter, the better, and more popular, and more local rather than corporate part -- will wither on the vine. A Southside-only Fest is just not viable though, and Musikfest will enter its graveyard spiral once the Northside venues get shut down. I give it five years, tops.

The stabbing on opening night might have pushed things in this direction, and last night's flood might have been the final straw for Musikfest in the Moravian quarter, and so maybe for Musikfest itself.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Train Kept A-Rollin'

It wasn't all that nice -- the Sunday weather, that is -- so Anne and I skipped the Jim Thorpe riding and just went up to her mom's for a visit. When we got home we crashed for a bit, then went out and did our first real "Musikfest evening." (Friday's "Heels on Wheels" pub crawl didn't count in my book, since we mostly avoided the fairways and musical venues, and on Saturday all we did was buy coffee on Main Street like any Saturday, then skedaddled to Easton, hitting Pearly Baker's for dinner and Black & Blue for drinks.) We caught a bit of BC Combo on Sunday, and a set of the Red Elvises, but missed what's apparently the new buzz band, Here Come The Mummies.
Last night we saw Los Straitjackets.
Reading: The Pale King, an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace; I think it's basically about a bunch of people who work for the IRS in the Midwest. So far it kind of reminds me of the start to Infinite Jest, each chapter jumping around and introducing a new character, and these characters, likeable, or not, or just neurotic, have already managed to get under my skin: I can't put it down.
Computing: I am playing with maps again, this time buildng a map of the new bike trails at Nockamixon. This is supposed to be something accessible via smartphone, and it works great on mine but it seems to have trouble on iphones.
Tonight we're seeing Alison Krause.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Meanwhile, Back In Realtime

Here I am at Re-Wired Cafe on Main Street, ground zero for Musikfest on a rather wet Saturday. (Here we are actually, since I'm here with Anne.) The place is a mob scene, mostly Fest peeps avoiding the rain -- the streets are not empty but they sure are emptier than usual, and a lot emptier than they were a few minutes ago -- and the baristas are like dervishes trying to keep up.

Last night was the first night of Musikfest, and it was also First Friday, and we did a Heels On Wheels pub crawl to check out the scene. Me & Anne, Donna, Amy & Aaron, and Emily and Mike and Brian and Maris, all the girls in short skirts and high heels... (We also met up with Debbie, as well as Doug and Lori, near the end of the night.) Pretty fun, though we walked more than biked (crowded streets) and only hit four places: Brew Works, Home & Planet, who had wine and birthday cake in the back of the store, Molly's, and The Wooden Match, the new place at the old train station (motto: "Beer, Meat, Cigars"); we finished with some late-night snacks back at Brew Works.

It was an early night, or early by the usual standards for these things, but we slept in anyway, and it's been a lazy Saturday ever since, just sort of hanging out, though we did manage to keg and bottle our latest batches of beer.

Tomorrow, if it's nice, I'll be riding in Jim Thorpe while Anne visits her mom. I think tonight we might buck the local trends and either stay in or hit Easton, though we could also do the music thing if the rain stops -- there are a number of good bands I want to see, but I really don't want to deal with outdoor shows in the rain, even if it's under a tent.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Sad Saga Of The Phone

My Motorola Droid is defunct, and I now have a Samsung Transform courtesy of CREDO, my new phone company.
It wasn't a software issue. No amount of removing or reinstalling apps helped, and no factory reset -- despite the advice of the guy at the Verizon store, who said that that was what he did -- was going to fix it. I remember doing the factory reset and the phone came back on with the touchscreen already going haywire, my only consolation being the knowledge that the idiot who recommended it was eventually going to suffer as I did.
And it wasn't a "thin film of oil forming on the glass" either, though I did slavishly scrub the screen with rubbing alcohol, and swore like a good Pavlovian that I saw some improvement whenever I did it. What it was, was basically a design flaw: the "ribbon wire" from the screen runs too close to the phone earpiece, making the connections more than usually vulnerable to moisture and dirt through that nearby hole in the casing. When the connections got bad, the screen started going haywire. It took me forever to find the info online.
Since my phone was out of warranty and I didn't have insurance, and per my policy I couldn't get my free replacement phone until December, I was SOL at Verizon. I was looking at paying full retail for a replacement phone, like somewhere around $450 or a little more if I stuck with them. But as it happens, Anne has her phone through CREDO (formerly Working Assets), who channel some of their profits into progressive causes, and who had a deal where I'd get a new phone for $30 (and they'd buy out my old phone contract) if I signed up with their plan. So that's what I decided to do.
The setup: All of this was going on, phone misbehaving and me deciding, while Anne's big trip -- her solo bike trip to Knoxville, where our smartphones would be her only lifeline -- was getting closer. I thought the phone would make it, but it died and I ordered the new one just before she left... (She had email on her phone, so I stayed close to the computer for a few days, and my new phone arrived on her second day out, so things weren't too bad.)
So anyway, here I am with my new Samsung Transform, with about 3 weeks under my belt to figure it out. I think that it's a decent enough phone, but I think that the Droid (except for the fact that it crapped out) was a better phone, and more advanced in some ways. I've had three disappointments so far: the phone seems slower at times, there is no port of the Flash plugin for the Transform, and while the phone has a front and rear camera, Skype does not have video calls enabled on the transform. I can live with it all, live and learn.
In terms of my new phone company, I like CREDO so far. The network they use is really Sprint, and I found out the hard way that Vermont is Verizon Country -- we'll see how hard I got socked for roaming charges when my bill comes -- but otherwise my coverage has been fine.
The kicker: about two days after I got my new phone, Anne's phone fell and broke.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Now Every Day's The Fourth Of July

Not sure what happened, why there was such a big blogging lapse on my part. I looked the other day though, and I hadn't posted a thing for almost the entire month of July, that caught me by surprise. What could have caused this, what have I been up to? Last thing I remember Doc, I started to swerve...
Reading: I just finished China Mieville's The Scar, the second in his Bas Lag trilogy, but last in my personal order of reading them. It was good, especially when considered on its own merits, but I couldn't help but be disappointed: Iron Council was a tough act to follow, and when I read Iron Council it really felt like a cowboy story even with the fantasy stuff, which made me think it would make a good movie along the lines of "Cowboys vs Aliens." The action in The Scar is mostly nautical and concerns a floating pirate city, but it never really became a swashbuckler, or or even movie-adaptation-friendly really. Anyway, and though I would definitely place it in the Guilty Pleasures category, it was another decent summer page-turner.
Listening: I downloaded Jefferson Starship's Blows Against The Empire (and I understand that it's not that Jefferson Starship, but another one of the same name and personnel that made this album). I probably haven't listened to it in a good 20 years, but I knew every song on it... Strangely enough -- and I don't think it's just the temporal juxtaposition -- but this album and The Scar seem thematically related in my mind. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Long Live The New King!

RIP: my Turner 02, bought in 2000 and ridden hard ever since; it bit the dust two weeks ago while I was on vacation. (I was riding with friends in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, climbing the Moose Alley trail so we could turn around and descend,  and suddenly it sounded like a stick in the spokes --- but it wasn't a stick it was the frame leaning on and rubbing against my knobbies.) Snapped the seat tube right in half just above the shock mount, instant trash and I was lucky I was going up instead of bombing down the trail, had nothing worse to deal with than a long walk back to our cottage...

Luck or foresight led me to buy a spare of the exact same frame five years ago, Doug's slightly-damaged frame from when he had some UPS mishap and they just bought him a new one. I left Vermont a day early, retrieved the frame from storage and dropped off the whole job at Cutters, and took off for Knoxville to catch up with Anne and Emmi.

But the Knoxville visit is another story; we got back from Knoxville last weekend, and I picked up my "new bike" after work on Tuesday. Anne and I hit the towpath for a short ride with Debbie, but that didn't count as a maiden voyage: I brought it to work Wednesday so I could take it to Nockamixon after work, only to realize I had a dentist appoint that afternoon. D'oh!

Tried again Thursday, and things worked out a little better: I was at Nox and on the bike by 6:00, and was off to a good start when -- PRANGGG! scrape scrape scrape... The tiny spring holding my front brake pads apart got entangled between the pad and rotor, and my only choice was to take the front brake out of the game. No biggie, it wasn't the best but you can ride like that, and I finished my ride, but now I had to track down a new set of brake pads. Yesterday I went on that quest and came up empty-handed, so I mail-ordered a bunch of them (just in case), and resigned myself to road rides until my package arrived. Then, Doug made a late-night phone call (OK, text), and invited me to ride this morning. Sorry, can't go, no brake pads...what, you have a pair of pads that fit my brakes? CU 2morrow kthkbye!

Early morning at Doug's wrestling with recalcitrant bike parts, then a pair of broken glasses (Lori and Krazy Glue to the rescue), but we finally were on our way. Long climb up the mountain and feeling like shit, until we met Scott and Mark, and when I stopped I realized my front wheel was hardly turning. OK fixed that, then it got worse again before the pads settled in -- it really wasn't my day.

But, the bike is back in the game, and it feels awesome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Just In: An Evening

Morning weigh-in: 185.5#, 12% BF
I got home yesterday and thought twice about doing a ride, so I stayed in -- I sometimes say that there's two kinds of discipline: one that sends you out to ride in the rain, and the other that keeps you home resting on a nice day; I'm not sure what kind of discipline issue that was... Anne had been out on a long road ride, and arrived home about the same time I did. Dinner was leftover beef/beans/rice with a baked sweet potato, and the evening was spent at home; Anne read, and I posted a bunch more photos (check them out, and there's more to come). It felt good to not be running around.
Tonight is the VMB meeting, followed by Taco Night at Brew Works.
By the way, I finally remembered -- rather, I asked Anne -- what we did Friday night: we hit the Velodrome! Totally slipped my mind... We saw Pam there, and Janna with her nephew, as well as Arnie hanging with the Cycle Fitters crew and some others from the Rodale/SMB crowd. Pretty full house, actually.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Los Alamos Will Burn With You

Morning weigh-in: 185#, 12% BF
Item: The Los Alamos National Laboratory is closed today as wildfies sweep the area.
Item: Floodwaters broke through the protective dam around Nebraska's Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, luckily in shutdown mode for repairs.
Anyway... short weekend, at least it seemed that way. Friday night was pretty quiet, and we got up early on Saturday to get moving on the next phase of the Bread Oven Project: shoveling sand into the backyard, replacing the fence where it had been removed to get the materials in, going out to buy more stuff... Anne did a bit of mixing and filling with insulating earth, and I went out for a towpath ride, which was surprisingly difficult, until I remembered all that shoveling... Saturday night was at the Steelgaarden, helping Amy celebrate her birthday.
We slept in a bit on Sunday, then went out and picked up beermaking supplies -- we're making a Sierra Celebration clone. I went out to ride South Mountain while Anne got things started, and I got home in time for the pitching of the yeast. I was totally whooped, surprisingly so until I remembered the day before, but I also think that there's more pollen in the air lately, and it was robbing my wind.
I had a strange dream last night: I ran into Brian and was hanging with him. I remember asking him "Hey aren't you dead?" and he sort of waffled on his answer. Sometimes the allergy medicine makes my heart pound in my chest, like last night on the walk to Brew works, and maybe I was thinking about him, and his heart, and mortality. (There was also something disturbing in there about a memorial liqueur distilled from his body parts, but that may have had something to do with his ashes.)
Tonight is the towpath, probably with Anne.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Restaurant Review: An Evening In Easton

Tuesday night was the big night -- the opening night for Black and Blue, aka "Which Brew II," Kelly-Jo's, and Larry's, new bar and restaurant. We'd heard rumors that they would be open soon, then heard last week that it would be "next week," and finally I got a few phone calls, from people who'd heard that Tuesday was the day... so off we went to Easton last night, to the old Blue Tone (on Walnut street, across from the courthouse), and it was like entering a reunion -- Didi, and Kateryna, and Caitlin, and Michele (plus a couple of new faces) were all working the bar and tables; and there was Ed, Lee, Larry, Mark & Terri, and Margarita, among many others -- the place was mobbed. (Plenty of other WB regulars came in too as time went by.)
We eventually settled in with Joe and Sally, and were joined by Judy and Erika; dinner was "pommes frights" -- though they may have had a new name, to go with the new location and theme -- and sesame-ginger hot wings. They have twelve taps, with the expected awesome selection -- trust me, only the surface was scratched...
Creak! Creak! I finally broke down and replaced my bottom bracket bearings on the Turner. It's a surprisingly easy task, easier in fact than doing a standard bottom bracket replacement, and I think I re-remember this fact every time I replace them (after long procrastinations those times too). We'll see if that fixes that squeak in the bottom bracket.
I also got a new middle chainring, since the chain was skipping last week at Lehigh and the (very worn) chainring is the most likely culprit, but that didn't work out quite as well: even thought they have the same bolt pattern and the old/new rings should be pretty much identical, there's a tab on the inside diameter of the ring near every bolt hole, which butts against a sort of shoulder on the crank, and my new (Shimano) ring has a larger tab than my old ring, and it doesn't fit on my (TruVativ) crank. D'oh! I may try to grind the tabs down to fit tomorrow, and if that doesn't work I'll just order a TruVativ chainring. In the meantime I have the old ring back on, so I should watch my gearing on hard climbs.
Next up on the bike is replacing the shifter cables and housings.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Greetings From Ithaca

Monday morning, and we'll be getting ready to take off from our hotel soon, but for now I'm just killing a little time, in the lobby with a cup of coffee...

We're up here for the wedding of Pam's daughter Sarah; Pam is a good friend of Anne's and we spent a lot of time with Pam and Sarah a few summers ago before Sarah moved up here. She and her husband both went to Cornell, and I think a lot of their friends did too (or at least they made a lot of friends here), and so they had the wedding at the Sage Chapel and the reception at an on-campus hotel. The reception was very nice, but the wedding ceremony itself was one of the best I'd been to, made truly awesome by the huge pipe-organ playing the wedding music.

That was Saturday. Friday was our arrival, and we caught up with the rehearsal dinner revelers downtown Friday night. Saturday was an easier morning than I expected, but a bit later wake-up than was practical... we rode over to breakfast, then did a relatively short ride (20 miles) along the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, all we could really do before getting ready for the wedding.

Yesterday was another relatively late start, but we had nothing on the agenda except a ride... It was still not the longest we could have done, but a beautiful ride up the western shore, then west to the town of Ovid and south from there -- we could see Seneca Lake along this section -- and back to town. Out for about six hours, or 3:30 ride time once you removed our breakfast and lunch breaks, a beautiful sunny day and pleasantly cool, almost chilly. Perfect! Except for that bit of sunburn I got...

Today we're going hiking among some of the gorges, then heading home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes, Deer

Wow, fast week, some more from the sporadic diary:
Rode Monday night at Sals. The last few times I was out the bike felt a little funny, but Monday I adjusted my rebound damping and -- voilà! -- everything seems fine again, awesome in fact. A the top of the entrance climb (I ride from home and come in at Reeb) I came face-to-face with a young deer, most likely a doe, running along the red trail. She stopped just a bit ahead of me, but kept looking back over her shoulder. Not panicked or anything, just checking, but she wouldn't leave the trail or run away from me. About a minute later, I heard a jingling up the hill, and eventually some guy came jogging around the bend of the Upper Orange with his dog, and as soon we were all in front of her the doe took off. It set the tone for a very pleasant ride.
Tuesday I went over to Southside and got a haircut at Eskandalo, then met Anne and the gang at Home and Planet for the South Side Film Festival's opening... festivities. We ducked out a little before the parade to get good seats over at the venue, and enjoyed two awesome movies. The first was an animated short called "Tord and Tord," and it was cute, but the feature film was something amazing called "Africa United," the story of a bunch of kids who basically hitch-hiked from Rwanda to the World Cup in South Africa, dodging authorities and warlords and various jungle perils along the way. I half expected it to be a bit lame, but it was an amazing story, and well told.
After that we biked back over to Brew Works and, since it was National Bourbon day, we each tried a bourbon drink. I had mine on the rocks and it was very, very good...
Yesterday I rode at Lehigh, alone though I did see the VMB crew at one point -- I'd started an hour after they did, and I was just beginning while they were somewhat near the end of their ride, so I went my own way, through this and that, Crazy Bones, yadda yadda, my usual route except that when I got to the top of ONO Hill I took the shortcut trail to the left. Home just before dark, cold sesame noodles and super-spicy eggplant, some more Iron Council, and then to bed.
(I saw another young deer on the ride, this time browsing the campus landscaping. Practically domesticated, it didn't leave until I was almost on top of it. Anne was riding the towpath with Deb, and they saw a young buck, just hanging out near Charley Brown Clearing. This must be the season for half-tame deer sightings.)
I have off tomorrow. This weekend is another wedding, this time in Ithaca and we're bringing the road bikes -- we're making our trip a mini-vacation, and there's good MTB in the area but the road riding is spectacular, and we only have room for two bikes... The Turner's drivetrain has some issues, I may take this opportunity to get some work done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Colourbombs, Torque Bombs, Forty Days On Moses Mountain

A quick recap, but just of last weekend: Friday night was the June Heels on Wheels ride and pub crawl -- much fun was had in Bethlehem! Saturday we got up bright and early (uggh) and drove down to Baltimore for Liz's wedding, Liz being Anne's niece: that night we went to the rehearsal dinner (party) in Baltimore's Little Italy, and Sunday was the wedding itself, and a short reception, on board a Carnival cruise ship -- the wedding party and a bunch of friends sailed off to Bermuda and other points after the reception. To each his or her own I guess, but my short experience on board didn't change my view of the whole cruise thing...
(Pictures soon, I promise.)
Tonight is the start of the Southside Film festival, and this weekend we are heading to Ithaca for another wedding and, if all goes well, a much-needed bicycling getaway.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pop Fizzle 2: Electric Boogaloo

Took my phone apart the other night (OK, took the battery out and left it open), then I cleaned the screen yesterday, and when I put it back together it worked, no problem. No trip to Verizon last night, and one less thing to deal with, though I will be keeping my eye on the old boy...
No lawn mowing last night either: Anne and I did a nice 26 mile ride north of town instead, going out Jacksonville Road and eventually returning through Northampton and Catasaqua. Beautiful night for a ride, and it was something we both really needed. Tonight I may try for an SMB ride if the weather holds.
Reading #1: China Mieville's Iron Council. I finished Perdido Street Station and, even though the next in the series is The Scar -- next in order of being written, and next in the historical chronology of New Crobuzon; the books themselves are not necessarily connected except in their setting -- the next book I have is Iron Council so that's what I started. Pretty good story so far, good but not great, an easy read; these books remind me a little of the Dragon Tattoo trilogy: they're page turners, guilty pleasures, summer reading even if they're not quite trash. This one went with me to Massachusetts, and at home I've been reading it in the living room.
Reading #2: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; I picked this up in Northampton MA, on our standard bookstore-tourism run. I'm surprised to say this but -- well, meh. I'm still pretty early in the book, but it's less meaty than I expected, but I suppose that's good because I'm reading it in the bedroom.
Reading #3: Never Mind the Pollacks by Neal Pollack. Re-reading actually, in the bathroom. Still funny, but I think it lost something over the years, maybe a case of relevance drift...
Listening: I usually tell anyone who'll listen that I loathe fusion, but the other day I got a hankering for some Return to Forever so I downloaded "Majestic Dance," and then I turned around and downloaded Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Still not sure why I did, but they were a good listen, they still sound great -- when I'm in the right mood.
Sooner or later I'll write something about the similarities I see between old exploitation films and the marketing of current pop culture (which was my intention when I picked this post's title) but I don't think it'll happen today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Well, it looks like I will be getting a new phone tonight.
My droid seemed fine yesterday at work, though admittedly it doesn't get much use until my commute home, when it does double duty as my MP3 player, and that was when the odd behavior started: songs would jump around unexpectedly, or my preferences (shuffle, repeat etc) would suddenly change. The problem went away when I shut off the display, but when I got home the situation got worse, and looked for all the world like some invisible fingers were randomly touching my phone's touchscreen.
Turned it off, turned it on, the problem was still there. Pulled the battery for a few minutes and the problem seemed solved, but it came back later in the evening, and culminated in a post-midnight pocket dial -- sorry Donna! The entire interface was frozen by that point, not responding to anything but those invisible fingers, so I pulled the battery again and went to bed.
The problem might be something in the software, maybe even a virus or malware screwing things up, but I really suspect a hardware issue, either bad contacts or a short somewhere. Given all the rain we've had, maybe it's been damaged by water or moisture in some way.
Last night was a short towpath ride, followed by the VMB meeting at Hello Burrito, where the food seemed much better than the last time I was there -- maybe they're getting past their growing pains. I met Mike P on the towpath and we rode together, and then we bumped into Joe G in town, and the gang was all together at the meeting, which had a much smaller attendance than last time but was still good. After the meeting we regrouped at Brew Works, where I met up with Anne, and Emmi, and Donna and Debbie and Matt -- we also saw Pete H and his wife there, so there was quite a crowd at our section of the bar.
It's really nice today, and seasonally beautiful for the first time in more than a week, but I think I may blow off riding in favor of some much-deferred lawnmower duties, and follow that with a trip to the Verizon store.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Smackdown of the Odious #1: Randall Munroe takes on Ben Stein.
Smackdown of the Odious #2: Savage Love vs The Guy Who Can't Get Laid. (The comments are good too.)
Smackdown of the Odious #3: And it's Doghouse Riley with the winning run!
So last night Anne asked me what wisdom I would impart to someone just starting out in adult life. She had a list of things that she thought were important in life, but I took a different approach:
1. Get a job to pay the bills, and do fun and fulfilling stuff on your own time.
2. Find and patronize a nice, quiet local pub.
3.  If you're into something athletic or outdoorsy, train during the week so you will be able to enjoy the big events on weekends.
4. (Maybe an expansion on item #3.) Most worthwhile things/activities are more rewarding the more you put into them, but you will not get anything back at all until you give above a certain minimum threshold. A good example of this is the computer; a mediocre example would be the bike, which is always fun at least, even if other rewards are unavailable.
Anyway, that was at the Brew Works. Before that I rode the towpath, starting in good weather, which held until I was on the way home -- slight rain at first, then a half hour of thunder, wind and torrential rain. I must have rode right through the front, the storm was over by the time I got home. Pretty cool actually. I've been trying to get back on the fitness wagon, especially in terms of biking, and starting at the beginning of May I'd been holding medium-high mileages (100 miles/week), at least until last week's deluge-fest, which I took as a rest week. This week and next are supposed to be around 120 miles/week (and it goes up from there), we shall see -- tonight is the VMB meeting, when we talk about bikes instead of riding.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Well, here I am again, in the Haymarket Café in Northampton MA, on a Sunday morning. I remember the my first time here, up visiting with Anne, an early "relationship challenge" -- I'd ordered this laptop but it hadn't arrived yet, so it must have been the Fall of 2008 (I hadn't yet committed to move in because I required a computer at my place, wherever that place might be), and I was using her laptop after eating -- and that trip, and that brunch, was the first time Ben and I actually met and hung out together. If I remember right, we all had our noses in the books we'd bought the day before.

Yesterday was Ben's graduation from Hampshire College. We came up on Friday, in time to see his final presentation: he and his friend Jason had translated the works of several early-20th-century Russian poets for their senior projects, and they talked about the issues involved, like sound vs. meaning, grammatical structures and themes and plays on words -- it was pretty fascinating, how they chose between various compromises and emphases, to bring the essences of the poems into English. We had a bit of a party at his dorm afterward, students and parents, burgers and hot dogs and 2 pony kegs of Pennsylvania homebrew.

Commencement was yesterday, on the Hampshire campus, and it was really nice despite the weather, and far less formal than most. (I realized that there's a lot to be said for having the graduation ceremony on the college campus, as opposed to my graduation, held all those many years ago at the Garden State Arts Center.)

We came back to Northampton, and regrouped for a bit before heading over to Jason's for another party, this time fewer parents and more intimately student-oriented. We really got to hang out and BS with the kids -- it was pleasant to be around a diverse crowd of intelligent, and intellectually curious, youngsters, and fun to see how their tastes were informed by their intellectual curiosity. (Banjos and fiddles in the corner, Art Tatum jamming on the boom box, and all sorts of Russian posters, presumably Jason's, on the walls.) We were the fools who brought the fake mustaches, and they were a big hit...

Anyway, now it's downtime -- it was a great few days, but there was also a fair amount of stress involved, and now we're gearing up for a long drive home with a car full of Ben's dorm room. I think we could use a staycation next weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Yet another fly-by. I've been super busy again -- or super busy still, I can't even remember anymore... Some highlights:
A trip to Wyoming for work, that was the end of last week. Tuesday I'm asked to go, and Wednesday I'm on the plane to Salt lake City. Work Thursday, and I'm home by Friday evening, in time for the "Heels On Wheels" ride and pub crawl. Needless to say, Saturday morning was spent asleep. We went out to Anne's sister's house Saturday afternoon, for a surprise retirement party for her sister's husband.
Sunday? I rode.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh Bondage! Up Yours!

RIP Poly Styrene, you totally rocked. I think I know what I'll be downloading tonight, my original -- vinyl, when that's all there was? or maybe it was a cassette? -- whatever it was, it's long since worn out and disappeared. Anyway, towpath ride last night with Anne, followed by burgers & beer with Anne. Tonight is the VMB meeting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Golgotha Virus

"Men have an extraordinary, and perhaps fortunate, ability to tune out of their consciousness the most awesome future possibilities. The Roman farmer, ploughing the slopes of Vesuvius, gave no thought to the mountain smoking overhead. Half the twentieth century lived with the  Hydrogen Bomb -- half the twenty-first with the Golgotha virus." -- Arthur C. Clarke, The Fountains of Paradise
So Easter has come and gone...
I had Good Friday off, and had rescheduled the VMB "beginner ride" at Jim Thorpe to Friday morning, but the day was cold and threatened rain, and it was only Anne and myself that went, so instead of doing the Broad Mountain loop (beginner stuff on Jeep roads) we rode the first part of the American Standard singletrack and had a blast. It was a cold day but we warmed up enough to remove jackets etc, then in the last mile or so we were hit with snow flurries.
We went to Easton that night to see the Great White Caps playing at Porters. We met Donna there, and saw many from "the old gang" (actually, from several different "old gangs"): Lee and Dave and Rathi, and Marty, and Danielle and Tara and Tabitha, and Courtney who got many congratulations on her engagement. Plenty of others there too, familiar faces whose histories I kinda-sorta know but not their names -- the place was packed. Later in the evening I noticed it was thinning out; I thought "wow, dinner crowd is leaving," looked at my phone and discovered it was after midnight. Oh well, time to go home.
Saturday morning we slept in for a bit, no surprise. Anne did some baking once we did get up, and I worked some more on the plans for the outdoor masonry oven we're putting in; the afternoon was a trip down to visit my parents for Easter. My brother Chris was there too with his family, as well as my uncle Pat and my sister-in-law's parents. Ham and turkey dinner, cake and coffee, hanging out with the family, and then the evening drive home. My mom gave me some new books for my birthday -- thanks Mom! -- so the evening was spent reading.
Reading: Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville. Combination steampunk/fantasy, the first of a series set on the same (non-Earth) planet, by the guy who wrote Kraken, which I read and enjoyed last year.
Anyway, Easter Sunday was a trip back to Jim Thorpe, for an early Easter dinner at Anne's mom's house, with a bunch of her brothers and sisters, and their kids and grandkids. Lots of people and lots of fun, but things were pretty much winding down by mid-afternoon, and we were home by 5:00.
The day seemed sunny in Bethlehem before and after our visit, but it was weirdly humid-warm and rainy in Jim Thorpe. When we got back to the sunshine early enough for a ride I ran to get ready, but in the time I took to prepare the bike (slashed rear sidewall needed replacing) the JT weather caught up with us. It was warm enough so I went anyway, and did 10 miles in a steady drizzle followed by another 10 in a raging deluge of a thunderstorm. Crazy fun, actually...
Our usual haunts were closed last night, so we hit the Hotel Bethlehem, which never seems to work for me, but it was there or nothing last night so in we went. Pretty nice for a change -- unless you counted the table of obnoxious child-men, probably business travelers, yelling at the TV -- and the hamburger I got was very good. A better beer selection and it might be a decent place to hang out.
"Language is a virus from outer space." -- William S. Burroughs

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hello Sunshine

Morning weigh-in: 184#, 13% BF (remember these?)
Sun came after work yesterday, so I blew off yoga and went for a short ride at Jacobsburg instead, with Anne and Donna. It was a bit wet/muddy in places, and the horse poop issue continues unabated, but we had fun. We passed Brew Works on the way home and saw cars with bikes on them, the post-ride libations of some fellow bike club members, but we'd been out Monday, and Tuesday, and we were tired and dirty, and so last night was a night in.
It's beautiful out right now. I have the road bike here with me today, and we have a group ride planned for Jim Thorpe tomorrow; it looks like the bike doldrums are starting to fade even if the weekend is supposed to be wet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I met Anne and company for dinner last night, good times including the ubiquitous "Bittersweet Symphony" -- we hear it at least once every time we go to the Brew Works, and we're there quite a bit...
Partway through the evening Anne got a call: some guys were up from DC to buy her and Ben's Pedi-Cabs, so we went over to the parking garage where she keeps the bikes, and we did the deal. She'd been trying to sell them for over a year, but I think even I was a little sad to see them go, and she and Ben had been doing this together since 2003.
Anyway: haircut, tacos (3 for $3), Pawnshop Porter, Richter's Red. Tonight is yoga and probably laundry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Been A Long Time Been A Long Lonely Lonely Lonely

Whelp, I guess I didn't have as much downtime as I thought I would... super-busy at work the past few weeks, and lotsa running around afterward left me no time for blogging -- this was probably my longest dry spell ever.

What's been going on? Well I went to Missouri for work about a month ago, then I went to Washington, DC for my birthday weekend; I've been trying to get in some riding in the meantime, but the weather has been less than cooperative.

Reading #1: Elements of Mathematical Ecology by Mark Kot, a birthday gift from my mom -- thanks Mom! Yes, I am back on the Lotka-Volterra kick again...

Reading #2: The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman. This was a gift from Anne, and it's pretty awesome: just a long string of slightly bizarre, almost-pointless anecdotes so far, but I totally can't out it down.

We hit a bookstore in DC, and I picked up a new copy of Gravity's Rainbow (wore my old one out years ago), as well as an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace.

Listening: Just downloaded some Shins album last night, their first I think. It's pretty good, and strange how I already know most of the songs. (I also recently got "License to Ill," and the first Stone Roses album, but those were more like replacements.)

I'm off to get a haircut in about two minutes, then heading down to meet Anne and the knitting crew for Taco Night.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just A Spring Clean For The May Queen

I'm back, again. Where have I been? Well last weekend we went down to Rehoboth Beach to hang out at Dogfish Head's brewpub -- insanely good beer, acceptable pub fare, verdict: worth the trip -- but the real answer is "nowhere in particular, right here," though I have been busy.

The world is getting ready for spring, despite the recent crazy weather here (rain, snow). I did some trail maintenance at Trexler two weekends ago, basically clearing invasive brush from near the trails, and last Sunday I did some work (and got in my first ride) at the new trails being built at Nockamixon. Sweet!

Unfortunately, the industry -- my employment industry, not the bike industry -- seems to be gearing up for summer as well: I was scheduled to travel for a plant inspection this Friday, and they tacked on another trip, so here I am at the airport waiting for my first flight. I am out of town until Friday night, which is exactly why my tooth broke on the way to work this morning. Classic!

I expect to have quite a bit of downtime over the next few days, stay tuned for more updates...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And The Judge And The Jury Said "Blah Blah Blah"

An evening of running around last night, starting directly after work: over to Whitehall to pick up some altered clothes, Tulum for a take-out burrito, up to Lehigh for the VMB meeting -- I am now the new club secretary -- and ending at Two Brew Tuesday with Anne and (some of) the ladies. A chunk of the VMB crew came in for dinner too, so we all grabbed one of the big round tables. We got home sometime around midnight, and for some reason I slept in this morning, trading morning coffee & breakfast for a little extra sleep. Crappy and rainy this AM, perfect for catching a little extra shut-eye.
Anticlimax: I was working on making a set of GPX tracks for all of Sals about a week ago, and there was a lot of tedious repetition at one step, repetition and tedium that I knew I could avoid if I just automated the process. Unfortunately, and for reasons that aren't important, the usual ways to automate this wouldn't work. I thought about it, did some quick research, and figured out a way to to do what I wanted. Hours of thinking about it (at work, no access to my laptop), five minutes thinking through and typing out the command, hit return and -- ding! The job was done in the blink of an eye.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi R Round

Chuckle! Snort... Happy Pi Day! Stupid engineering jokes, can't get enough of them...
Yesterday was a bit of a low energy day for me, sitting in front of the computer watching the world end (and in case you want to do something for the people in Japan, here's a good roundup of charities). I finally got my act together later in the afternoon -- we got up at 11:00, so there really wasn't that much time spent vegetating, unless you count sleeping in -- and did some TLC on the bikes. I also put in some time cleaning up the basement workshop, then the last few hours of the day were spent on Sand Island, watching the water.
I brought my road bike in to work today, to take advantage of the Daylight Savings. It's a bit cold and windy but no longer raw, the weather definitely feels springlike. Some trees are just about ready to bloom, daffodils and crocuses are already up...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seven Hundred Dollars Later...

...and I have a new work wardrobe! At least part of one: I bought a bunch of new shirts and and slacks at the local Men's Wearhouse. Shirts came home with me, and the pants will be ready for a Tuesday pick-up.

I also need to pick up a few new pairs of corduroys, which are my go-to choice for casual work trousers. I tried hitting the Army-Navy Store, but they had nothing like that; my next foray will be to Sears or the Mall or something like that.

Not much to say otherwise, just hanging out at home today. I was going to do a Jim Thorpe ride but I think the ground is still too wet and I don't want to trash the place, and we did a road ride yesterday. Maybe the gym later? Or possibly some yoga at home, we'll see.

Tomorrow I think I'll bring the road bike to work, take advantage of some of that Daylight Savings Time.

By the way, new photos are posted, from a Friday walk along the Lehigh Towpath near Sand Island. Not quite the disaster scene I'm used to from my Easton days, but there was some serious flooding going on.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Like In The Olden Days

Like way back when, my pre-yoga days... I took a yoga class last night, and I knew I would be out of shape, but I was surprised at how stiff I had become: really stiff, can't-touch-your-toes stiff -- one more wake-up call. The workout felt good though; I think it's what I need right now. (One thing I didn't need was the mirror on the wall, showing me how big my gut had become -- back in the fall of 2007, I got  a new mirror in my living room, and walking past that mirror every day, seeing myself, was one of several factors that drove me to lose weight that winter.)
Noted in passing: Besides being my brother's birthday (Happy Birthday, Kevin!), Saturday was the 5 year anniversary of the ankle incident. You bet I was thinking about it, every icy patch on my ride Saturday.
Meanwhile, today is my last day at work before Daylight Savings Time. It's pouring, today through tomorrow, so I'm hitting the gym tonight, and I'll probably get in some more gym/yoga/errands/chores before the nicer weather hits on Saturday. Green Blaze? Allamuchy?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Steppenwolf Christmas

Morning weigh-in: 184.5#, 16.5% BF
I suspect that I'm fully hydrated for a change, since that body fat number looks about right -- that is, it's not what I want, but at least the BF is accurate.
In case anyone was wondering: Kraftwerk Thanksgiving. I'm gonna miss Achewood, if I don't already...
Map Fun: One thing I've wanted to do with my Garmin is put a map of the Sals trail system on it, one that I could then follow on my rides. (Not that I need it, but it would be cool to follow along, and it might come in handy as something I could give to others.) The Garmin has one big drawback though: trails are added via GPX files, but there's no way to just take a file containing the entire trail system, and just copy it into the unit, and have that be all you need to work with -- each individual trail segment (and there may be over a hundred) must be loaded into the map one by one, turned on so it shows on the map, and color chosen for that segment, the whole process done over and over using that clunky 2-button-and-a-joystick interface.
Once loaded, the Garmin mapping info is stored in somewhere other than the original GPX file. (GPX doesn't normally store color but it can handle extensions; this shouldn't have been too hard.) Something like that -- having the Garmin's map info in the same file as the trail data -- would have been useful, because then the file, with all its hard-won map info, could be copied for someone else to use, or moved off the unit and reinstalled later -- but nope.
So OK, using a trail network, as produced by GRASS or TopoFusion, is impractical.
The next thing I tried was from a "How-To" I found online: trace over the trail network using Google Earth, doubling back or tracing over the same segments as required to make the trail system one huge single loop. Save and convert to GPX and plop it into the Garmin, and you can get the whole trail system onto the map with one iteration of the installation process.
This worked well, apart from the one-time tedium of re-tracing the trails, and had only one disadvantage: the entire trail system must all be the same color. This would usually be no big deal, except that the Sals trail system is composed of color-coded subsystems, and I wanted each trail on my map to have the same color as the trail blazes you'd find in the woods.
The compromise I came up with was to do the "retrace in Google Maps" thing for each subsystem, then load (and assign colors to) each individually. This worked out reasonably well -- it wasn't the one-shot setup I wanted, but it was a lot better than the alternatives I found so far. I tried these on Saturday's ride, and they looked and worked great.
Last night was the gym, and tonight is a towpath ride, to be followed by Taco Tuesday.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Pierogi Fest, The Kraftwerk Mardi Gras

There will be no morning weigh-in today: too many pierogis were consumed yesterday for any mens sana in corpus sano step-on-scale soul searching this AM...
We had a good time though. Anne and a few ladies from her knitting crowd decided they needed something to get through the last of the winter, and that something was -- pierogis! A five course meal, with pierogis in every recipe: Deb brought bacon-wrapped pierogi appetizers, Amy brought chicken-pierogi soup, Anne made pierogi lasagna, Liz had a bunch with various traditional and non-traditional stuffings, Donna had pierogis and string beans, and for dessert we had Anne's homemade pierogis with fruit filling, plus Donna's apple-pierogi pie. (The rest of us just brought our hungry but lazy asses.) That, and the last of our keg of "Hanseatic Doldrums" Baltic Porter, and it was a long fun dinner party -- and strangely enough, despite the heavy, filling qualities in every bite, there were almost no leftovers.
We tried to come up with a theme (Mardi Gras sort of came and went), with appropriate music and dress code for the party (the dress-up part was also DOA, thank goodness -- everyone wore what they always wear). The first musical iteration was polka, which was a disaster, then we tried "techno, like they listen to in Europe," but I didn't know any techno so I told Pandora I liked Kraftwerk, and let Pandora pick the music. It worked, pretty much.
(Speaking of music: I downloaded some songs from the Dum Dum Girls and listened to them on the way in to work this morning. Nice.)
Maybe it had something to do with what was in my belly when I went to bed, but I had the craziest and most fun post-Apocalyptic dream ever. Most of it faded when the alarm went off, but it was a sort of mix of Steve Austin / Mad Max kind of thing, in a world where the Federal Government had sort of merged the NBA and senior housing. I was a refugee, possibly via time capsule / escape pod (Polaroids of my previous life all around me in the dust, when they found me unconscious), and my tape-recorded debriefing, at a dusty outdoor basketball court, hoops mounted on palm trees etc, slowly morphed into a narrative of a visit to (and guitar jam with) a bunch of dolphins swimming in what looked like a brightly-lit, subterranean reactor core. I was saying the words "even unto the Gravity Well" when the alarm went off.
Saturday was pretty nice too: we went to Easton and hooked up with my HS buddy Mike and his family, in town to visit the Crayola Factory, and we had lunch together at Pearly Baker's, which gets a substantial clientele from Crayola, with kid's menu to accommodate. Mike's kids were adorable, but I think he was monitoring them very closely for signs of "long day meltdown," and took off before any anticipated crash. Shopping, home, a quick Sals ride -- remember them? -- and then we went to Spanky's "I'm tired of winter" party. Awesome, and warm enough that we could hang outside. Spring's coming.
Friday -- maybe by next week I'll say something about First Friday, if I remember. Tonight is the gym, and one week from yesterday is Daylight Savings Time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One-Brew Tuesday

Morning weigh-in: 184.5#, 15% BF
Weights are still high, but since I dropped a half pound after Two Brew And Tacos Tuesday, I thought I'd take the win and record it here.
Busy night last night, lots of running around: straight to the gym from work (where I added legs for the first time in a while), then walked over to Eskandalo for a haircut (calling my niece for a birthday greeting on the walk over), then home to change, then finally walked over Brew Works to meet up with the post-knitting crew. Normally I get the tacos (a Tuesday bargain at 3 for $3.00), and I did last night as well, but I skipped the sour cream and guacamole, and instead of two beers I only had one, so between the leg workout and the evening's belt-tightening...
I don't know what's up for tonight, maybe a run with Anne.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Morning weigh-in: 185#, 15% BF
Happy Birthday to my God-daughter, my beautiful niece Olivia!
Much done, nothing said for a week... The weekend before last was probably our last hurrah on the skis, with trips to Jim Thorpe (icy but OK conditions) and the Poconos (nice snow); on Sunday and Tuesday we ran outside. Thursday I did an indoor trainer class at Cutter's Bike Shop, then Friday I got out for a bit of icy towpath riding (and finished in daylight). Saturday was windy so we did some chores and housecleaning (dinner party that night, it had to happen anyway), but on Sunday Anne and I did a short morning run, and then an awesome afternoon bike ride. Nothing crazy, about 20 miles through Wassergas and Williams Township, and it was chilly when we weren't moving, and it was still a bit breezy, but with that ride it finally felt like spring was coming. (Of course, Sunday night through today has been more cold and more snow, which raised Anne's hopes for one last play-in-the-snow storm, but even this feels like a last hurrah.)
I Need A New Toy: On Saturday night we had some friends over for dinner, and to test our new Baltic Porter, "Hanseatic Doldrums," and among the guests were a few from the biking crowd. Talk drifted to training, and GPS and HRM, and, for the women in the room, privacy issues with web-based training analysis.
(I use Garmin Connect and MapMyRide, and I do keep my GPS data private for the most part, especially if the ride starts/finishes at home, but I make the data for my "away rides" publicly available (it's only fair: I search among other public tracks to learn new trails), and I'm comfortable with even the ones marked "private" being stored online. Then again, I own a mirror, and I know have less to worry about, in terms of someone studying my habits and training routes for purposes of sexual assault, than do some others in the conversation.)
Anyway, the conversation turned to privacy settings on training websites, then to methods of just keeping the data local and using analysis software on your home machine -- I believe I actually blushed when I realized I didn't have any training analysis software on my machine -- unless you count TopoFusion, and I don't because it's more like mapping software --  and I didn't even know if any was available on Linux.
Not to worry, I found a bunch online, and last night I fixed my lack by downloading SportsTracker. It looks pretty decent, I think I'll be giving it a try over the next few weeks to see how it compares to the online ones, and maybe grab some more for comparison purposes. Strangely enough, the SportsTracker mapping uses OpenStreetMap, which actually shows a lot of my local singletrack -- bonus!
Now all I need to do is get out there and ride, and run, and hit the gym, and get back into yoga, and also find time for my previous obsession/acquisition, GnuCash. Did I mention I picked up a guitar chord reference book, one I used as a kid?
Tonight is the gym, followed by a haircut, followed by Two Brew Tuesday at Brew Works.