Friday, February 29, 2008

February Weaksauce

Work Days: 16
Bike Commutes: 16
Bike-Only Commutes: 1 (Round trip both ways, today, and what a great day for a full bike commute!)
Miles: 128.2

Not much I can say other than this was a seriously brutal February.

Quoth the CommuterDude: "March cometh"

The head 'dude said it first. March is basically here. And with a crisp and tasty 37°F morning just outside my front door, who am I to say "no" to a great ride?

I spent about half an hour tuning up The Goat last night. A quick wipe-down, a bunch of drivetrain work, and polishing the hardened plaque of road grime and brake pad off of the rims. Even though I was nurturing the mountain bike just hours before, I could feel the Twelve calling me this morning.

I opened the massive container of bikey stuff that I've hoarded away and dug out some old goodies. The reflecto-vest-o-doom, the panniers, and the laptop cell. I dug most of the things I needed out of my backpack, loaded up my clothes, and strapped it down to the rack. The tires needed about 5 pumps of air each to sharpen them up. Ah, the wonderful burst of 110-PSI blowoff as I unhook the floor pump. I miss that sound. That means it's time to ride. That sound affects me now the same way the wailing, screeching klaxon of a 28.8kbps modem affected me more than a decade ago. Pulse quickens. Eyes widen. Senses sharpen. Good grief, I'm a nerd. And a cyclist. And it feels good!

The old feeling of carrying a commute-loaded bike down the stairs this morning made The Goat Of Steel seem like a Madone. I use my old lighting routine, somehow still fresh in memory: Click, double-click, click, double-click as I power up my rear rack light, my helmet blinky, my NiteRider and my DiNotte in sequence. Then I hit the road. The long, quick road. The road I've missed so much, save for a few "just because" full commutes on a few freaky-nice days this winter.

Now, I just need to do something about this average speed of 13.9 MPH. That isn't going to fly with me for very long. I'm really out of shape, but it was a nice ride nonetheless. I saw one other bike commuter, a fixie rider in the crossroads district.

I joined JR and Lorin for the Mocha this morning. Lorin inquired, "Did you take the D(readed) bus?"

"No bus. Too nice."

Here's to some serious light at the end of the brumal tunnel.

Random Tunage:
Prodigy - Narayan
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tricks of the trade: geeky transit schedules

About half (probably more) of my commute trips over the course of a year are bus-assisted in some way.  Sometimes I only wish to ride half the distance in the evening.  This is true on hot summer days (oh how I miss thee!)  Occasionally, I need to swing by the bike shop, bank, grocery store or hardware depot on the way home.  Sometimes I'm sick and just want to be dropped off within a quarter mile of my apartment.  Other times, I want to get home as early as humanly possible.  You get the idea.  On the days I use the bus, it's not always the same old grind.  The following was originally posted on Commute By Bike:

Bikes, Buses and Trains, oh my! My multi-mode commute can get confusing at times. I don't have one set bus route. There are 3 different bus routes and probably a dozen different stops I will use depending on errands I plan on running, the time I get out of work (road congestion taken into consideration) and distance I feel like riding from the bus to get home.

Anyone who relies on public transportation is at the mercy of someone else's schedule. I used to make frequent visits to the site containing bus route maps and schedules and I even thought about printing some of the schedules out to keep at home and at the office. A few months ago, a thought crossed my mind: With the latest PDAs, mobile phones, and trendy personal media players having the ability to display pictures, it's easy to store the schedules on them. I quickly took screen shots of my three most-used bus schedules and stored them on my mobile phone. Not only did I save paper and expensive ink, I now have the schedules with me virtually everywhere I go.

While I know there are quite a few tech-savvy writers and readers here, this tip isn't for everyone. It's easier than it sounds, though. After all, almost anyone can figure out how to use the camera on their phone, if they have one.

Method #1: Find the bus or train schedules online or in print somewhere, and take a close-up snapshot of your computer monitor or paper schedule with your camera-equipped phone. My LG Chocolate VX-8550 supports zooming in on images, so I can enlarge the image on my tiny screen to look at parts of the schedule in a readable fashion. If your camera phone doesn't support zooming, then get really close and take a few pictures that you can read as-is. Don't forget to re-name the files so you know what route they belong to!

Method #2: Find the schedule online, capture an image of it to your computer, then e-mail it or upload it to your device. This results in a much clearer image of the schedule to look at. If you have a Mac running OS X, you can hold Command-Shift-4 and draw a box around the schedule to save a screen shot to your desktop. If you're running Windows, I recommend AnalogX Capture, a free screen grabber. Of course, Linux/BSD/UNIX users get some love, too. The "import" utility that comes with the ImageMagick software package lets you save screenshots as well, almost exactly the same way as the OS X grab utility works. You will probably need to save the files in JPEG format for maximum compatibility with consumer electronics devices.

And yes, that's a Sun Type 5 keyboard and an IBM RS/6000 in the same photo. I don't want to hear about it. :P

Snarky Observations

  1. Have you ever watched someone turn into an OCP Roadie from scratch?  Several people I know (various mailing lists, work, etc.) have -- over the last year or so -- gone from non-cyclists to wannabe racer superheroes complete with snide remarks, battling more for points of money spent and intellectual blows delivered than the number of races they can win.  I'm not sure I'd call it evolution, but it's an interesting process to watch some of them interact with the others.  A quick little jab about age or experience or number of miles ridden or an average speed (on the rollers/trainer this time of year, of course).  It's kind of funny to watch the testosterone fly around in the wake of an inferiority complex.
  2. Yes, one or more of the people I am talking about might actually be reading this.  I don't hate you, I promise.  It provides me with entertainment.  If you're a CAT 3 or better, I'm not talking about you.
  3. No, I'm not jealous, other than I wish I was riding my bike today.
  4. It's really funny to listen to cow-orkers whine about the recent gas price increase while I sit here in my sphere of smug.  I love smugness.  And I didn't even need to buy a canvas sack at the grocery store that was made in a Chinese sweatshop to get my smug on.  Smugness sans rabid consumerism = Awesome.

Guess what?

It's a Dreaded bus™ day!

I missed out on the Shawnee Civic Center gig last night, mostly due to feeling it be unwise to intentionally put myself at a distance of more than 50 feet from a toilet.  Things still aren't quite right this morning, but they're better.  The Dreaded bus is in use though.  Something about sitting on a bike saddle just seems unappealing to me today.  Too much information?  Sorry.

Random Tunage:
Orbital - Halcyon + On + On
Libra - Anomaly

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sick Day

I spent the night writing around in abdominal pain with a 100.3 fever and cold sweats. At 4:00 this morning, I cried "uncle" and left voice mail for my boss and laid back down. I'm still not right, but the fever and chills are gone.

Tomorrow, I'm going to see if any of my peers had similar problems after their "Free" burrito. If not, I guess it's some kind of stomach flu.

Thanks to all who've wished me well so far.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The cost of a "free" burrito

I'll go ahead and put this one in the "worth every penny I paid for it" category. You see, "free" means that something is gratis and without cost. It's also a pretty vague word in and of itself.

Well, I didn't need my wallet to claim my "free" burrito from the freshly opened Chipotle restaurant in downtown KC, but it didn't come without some damage.

First, I totally mis-guessed Chipotle's address in my last post. It's actually at 14th and Walnut. I didn't ride too far out of my way to get there, but I did overshoot it a bit.

Then, when I arrived, I saw what appeared to be a line stretching about half a city block, then up some stairs and presumably into the dining establishment. A few hundred people, maybe. So, I chained my bike up and took my place in the queue.

When I got to the stairs I had seen -- half an hour after I began my wait, I noticed something. The line didn't go up the stairs and into the building. It went up the stairs, around a commons area, and then into Chipotle. I was only halfway through the line.

More than an hour after departure, I show back up to work, foil football in grip. I tote it to my cubicle, log in to see that my scripts are (obviously) done running, and get back to work while getting my grub on between keystrokes.

Nearing the end of my work day, I'm not feelin' too hot. I didn't feel all that great this morning, either, but this is something else. Something gnarly. On the bus ride home, I felt like I was getting car sick. Hoping some fresh air would help me out, I rode homeward (into the headwind this time) and stopped by the pet store for some supplies we needed.

It's now approaching 8:00 PM, some 7 hours after I ate. I have nausea. I have two layers of socks on, thermal underwear top and bottom, a hoodie, cargo pants, and I'm wrapped up in a camping sleeping bag. And I STILL have the chills. It's 68°F in here, which usually feels pretty good. My wife's asleep, and I don't want to wake her up by rooting through the master bathroom for a thermometer, but I think that "free" burrito is definitely getting its own money's worth out of me.

Now, I can't guarantee it was Chipotle. I was, in fact, feeling crappy before I ate. But still, I have to wonder. Trying to feed hundreds or maybe 1,000 hungry freeloading Kansas Citians, did they really, really make sure the meat was at 165° for a sustained period before scooping it into those tortillas?


Photo: My homebrew geeky weather screen saver running on FreeBSD.

Olathe - IXD is the closest weather station that the NWS has to my place. According to weather data this morning, wind of 29, gusting 37 MPH was at my back on the way to the bus this morning. It's kind of interesting when your personal best time for a 2 mile ride to the bus is on a mountain bike. My previous PB was a 23 MPH average on my road bike. I didn't drop below 18 even climbing the viaduct this morning, and got up to a sustained 35 MPH (almost spinning out) on Quivira for an average of 24.6 MPH to the bus this morning.

Ye gods.

2 side-notes today.

1) CHIPOTLE IS OPEN DOWNTOWN!!!!!! Today, they're offering a free burrito to all who show up. Tomorrow is their grand opening. It's in the P&L District near 17th and Grand (or so). There's a huge sign, and you can't miss it. You know where I'm going for lunch. Nom nom nom.

2) Tomorrow, Mark Thomas, Deb Ridgway, and some others will be in Shawnee (6:30 PM at the Civic Centre, 13817 Johnson Drive) giving a short seminar on how to get around by bike for commuting, errands, and whatnot. I'll likely be there as well (perhaps just to help answer questions, maybe to speak). More info at

Random Tunage:
Orbital - Satan
Way Out West - Intensify (Blind Faith remix)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Case of the Mon-daze?

I woke up more than half an hour late this morning, so my AM started in a frenzy.
My wife is fine for now and there's a really long story to it but it's not something for here. I'll just say that I hate emergency rooms and leave it at that. I forgot to mention how awesome the ride was to the hospital on Friday. As you can imagine, my mind was somewhere else at the time... I rode 103rd street from Antioch to Quivira. 103rd has been under construction for the better part of a year, if not longer. In fact, all the way from Metcalf, 103rd is torn up. Just ask Warren.

Between Antioch and Quivira, though, there's a lot of bridge construction. Right now it's a 35 MPH zone, one lane each eay, but it was originally 2 lanes each way and 45 MPH. People are still rolling through at 60+. With that, I enjoyed riding in the construction lanes. This was actually a blast. 1' - 3' drops, 12-18" hops to make to get back up onto the concrete, lots of snowy mud, some really slick glare ice, and just about the most fun I've had on The Goat since my last singletrack ride in November. It was all the stuff I wish I could find in the urban core, but never do. I know it's here, though. I just can't find much of it. I guess there's Barney Allis Plaza but the cops would probably kick me out.

There was a bunch of other madness this weekend, and as such I didn't get a chance to scrub down my bike. My drivetrain was trashed this morning. I lubed it up to limp it along, but I'm going to need another chain -- SOON. I'm about due for a new cassette too, and I'm still on the OEM chainrings that are nearly a decade old - the middle one is worn, and the big ring has some damage from bottoming out on limestone at Shawnee Mission Park. I think I'll limp my bike along until spring, and save up my cash for a new crankset, chain, cassette and front derailleur -- maybe a new RD, too.

This morning: 25° and balmy. The roads were mostly dry, amazing since Saturday brought with it a bunch of snow. We're supposedly in for a temporary warm spurt today followed by another wave of arctic air. This has been the chilliest February in a very long time, and I'm just about sick of it.

Random Tunage "WAKEY WAKEY!" Edition:
Braincell - Computer Controlled
DJ Hardleg - Rhythm
(Random tunage from my hardstyle trance playlist)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ugh. Yes, again...

My wife actually waited in the ER waiting room after triage for FIVE hours before we decided to forget about it and left. If she's not better by the time she gets off work, we'll go back (at 5:00AM). She didn't feel like going to the ER at first, but her cardiologist said to go there to get checked out.

By the way, I hate hospitals, and I especially hate the ER. If you call any doctor or ask for any medical advice and they can't see you right then and there, they just tell you to go to the ER. The ER rarely fixes anything. They just stabilize you and send you home with a $1000 medical bill unless they find something suspicious. I'm glad I have medical insurance now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Got Oversteer?

oversteer \O"ver*steer\ n. The situation that occurs in cornering when the rear of a vehicle tends to skid before the front.

First, let me mention that I love oversteer. When autocrossing my little Focus, just letting up off the gas while cornering lets the back end come around in this perfectly controlled manner that's so elegant it nearly boggles my mind. In powerful rear-wheel-drive vehicles, you can get oversteer by mashing the accellerator while cornering. On a bicycle, if conditions are right, as they were today, you can actually corner while feathering the rear brake and get the back end to come out from under you, and stay out from under you for a good while but without actually wiping out. Today, I got to do it at least three times.

Light snow covered with sleet and a layer of soft, fuzzy flurries on top is one set of conditions that make for great oversteer. As I came around through my apartment's parking lot, just a quick blip of the rear brake sent my back end out, and my bike settled into this beautiful drift. Two sets of tire tracks. One narrow and with the imprint of my tire tread. Another, further out from the apex of the curve, very wide and with only the outline of my tire shoulders leaving this spiral-looking groove in the snow.

It was so fun I went back just to practice a few times. It made my day.

Random Tunage:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (Acoustic)
Rock Kills Kid - Hide Away

(sn)Oh, Joy!

Last night, I took a detour from my usual route to meet my wife at the dentist. A strong headwind and temperatures still in the teens made ice form on my eye lashes. This trip only added about a mile to my usual route home, since I had to throw my bike in the back and run some errands with my wife.

I was up pretty late last night working on a rather mischievous project -- two of them, actually. I may disclose the nature of these projects later, but they're not cycling related at all. I just like tinkering. This morning, I intentionally woke up a bit late to make up for some lost sleep. It wasn't until right before I left that I checked the weather and saw light snow in the current conditions. Usually, this means frozen mist or transient flurries, but there was actually accumulation on the street -- less than 1/4" of it, but accumulation all the same. It didn't slow me down at all, but it was kind of fun to ride in.

The real sucky part happened while waiting for the bus. I was appropriately dressed for riding at 14°, but not for standing around for 20 minutes waiting for the bus. I could have hopped back on and rode laps in the parking lot to stay warm, but I was too lazy, plus my backpack was extra heavy with the next few days' worth of lunches topping it off. Mostly it was laziness, though.

As far as the snow goes, I love when it's just lightly dusting while I'm riding. The brilliance of the DiNotte's least-distracting strobe pattern catches snowflakes in its beam and lights them up. If you're not going too fast, you can actually see the shape of actual snowflakes, which I find fascinating. For some reason, the halogen beam on my NiteRider doesn't quite have the same effect. It probably has a lot to do with the signal the LED light gets from the controller.

Random Tunage:
Oasis - Wonderwall
Laguna Seca - The Flow

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beyond Chilly

Last night, I took apart my Ghetto Studded front wheel to use on The Goat. I moved the rest of the rolling stock from the taco wheel to this reasonably true wheel and got it put back on The Goat. This morning, I had to do a lot of tweaking to my brakes before I left. The wheel is in round, and it's true, but it's OFF CENTER (haha, dished?) by about 3/8".

9°F on my way to the bus, 7°F downtown. That's brisk, baby! I was pretty cold right out of the door, which meant I needed to pick up the pace to get warm. My gear worked well, but only because of the hammerfest on Quivira. I kept a sustained 25 MPH on The Goat for about a mile south of the viaduct; Here, I really wished I'd worn some goggles or glasses. All in all, though, it was a comfortable ride, but my usual lethargic pace would have probably resulted in a cold, cold ride. The cold temperatures did a number on my brake pads, too. They hardened up and started grinding as they picked up bits of rim material. Have I mentioned that I'm sick of the amount of extra work I have to put into my bike this time of year?

For those who want to know my gear choice:

Thermal pants under jeans, one layer of cotton socks (I should have worn wool) inside some nice, loose-fitting shoes, a tee shirt up top with my heavy ski coat. Heavy full-finger ski gloves kept my digits from freezing (I won't say kept them warm), and my thermax balaclava did the trick for my face and ears while allowing me to re-breathe some of my breath's natural moisture and warmth.

Ugh. Where's my coffee?

Random Tunage:
The Pharcyde - Passing Me By
Roni Size - Sorry For You

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So here's the deal...

Conditions determined that the proper place for me to be was on the sidewalk. Ballyhoo, chastise, berate or otherwise scold me if you will. I'd challenge any of you to ride this street daily without touching sidewalk. Any one of you between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 PM. Unfortunately, my home is on the north-west part of a two-highway junction and the crossroads of two of the gnarliest arterial roadways in the region. And somehow, almost any bus I take has to drop me off in such a place that I get to play frogger on a daily basis.

Anyway, I was approaching an apartment driveway when a guy pulled up to exit. At this point, the sidewalk was clear. He made eye contact with me -- and what with my DiNotte set to "DESTROY" and all, how could someone NOT notice me?

Then, the douche-canoe pulls up and blocks the sidewalk. There are cars coming up that will keep him off the road for a good while, so I don't know what he's thinking. Or rather, I do. He's being a prick. I slow down and he motions me past his front bumper. I proceed. But he's turned too far for me to ease back onto the sidewalk. No problem. bunny-hop the curb, shimmy back onto course, right?

Well, not really. The snow was hiding some really gooky mud. Front wheel wedged. I endoed.

Then, the guy pulls out really slowly, as I stand up. He gives me the "why the hell did you fall over?" look while shrugging his shoulders as if he's part of the Rock Racing SAG team or something. ****ing ***hole.

It was too late to lay the smack down on him, but I know where he lives.

****ing ***hole.

Do I smell mexican food?!

I have to get to the Bike Week meeting really quick, and then I guess I must pillage yet another front wheel from my big closet of parts, so I'll have more details for you later. I'll just say a ****ing moron in a Camry was involved. Anyone have some nice 26" XC rim brake wheels laying around?


I woke up today feeling better than I've felt in more than a week. To celebrate, I whipped up a fresh batch of French Pressed Black Lightning. Mmmmm! Just what I need to warm my soul on a brisk morning like today -- It was 12 degrees outside, and it actually felt pretty good.

There were a great many slick spots on the road. The snow followed torrential rain, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that there's quite a bit of ice left on the road, despite the crews' attempts to salt and plow it into oblivion.

The weather gurus are saying we're in for a little more snow later this week. Honestly, I'm about sick of it. I've had plenty of fun this winter in the snow, but the amount of work I have to put into The Goat just to keep it on the road is getting old very quickly.

Random Tunage:
Frankie Bones - The Way You Like It
MOS - Elektrify

Monday, February 18, 2008


Today was a federal holiday, Presidents' Day, to be exact. Those of us lucky enough to work in the financial industry (or other institutions that remains closed on these holidays) had the day off. Some of us even got paid for it.

So, there was no commute today. There also was no Monday night ride. I showed up to Tienda Casa Paloma to find Mark and Theresa nom-ing on some of the delightful Mexican cuisine. I grabbed a beer and some mini tacos and joined them.

Although there wasn't any riding done today, it was nice to talk to Mark about his goofy adventures on the snow this weekend, the state of bicycle commuting in various metro areas, suburban sprawl, and some of the upcoming events right here in KC.

The Bike Week planning meeting is tomorrow, and it's simply too late and too far from home for me to consider riding my bike there as a viable option. I plan on car-pooling. If anyone in central/northern JoCo wants to ride along, let me know and I'll see. I have an SUV that holds 5 if we need that many seats. Otherwise, I have a grocery getter.

Tomorrow begins a short work week. Oh, joy. Temps in the low teens should kick off the morning and give way to substantial warmth toward the evening. This is starting to resemble that bizarre time in fall where I'd find myself layered to hell in the morning and in shorts in the afternoon. With a high of 40 degrees, you won't catch me in shorts, but it's getting there.

Random Tunage:
Corona - Rhythm of the night
Rage Against The Machine - Bulls On Parade

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nom Nom Nom

"Nom nom nom" is the lolcatesque onomatopoeia used to describe the sound of chewing, usually with your mouth open. This photo is me about to nom nom nom on a huge Chipotle burrito. I swung by Chipotle on my way to the monthly KC PHP User's Group meeting. It was almost 50 degrees and overcast upon departure. Other errands-by-bike today included a couple miles to the pharmacy.

Unfortunately, while I was at my meeting, the temperatures not only dropped like a rock, but the sky opened up and started raining. Rain and near-freezing temperatures aren't quite my thing, and a friend offered to give me a ride home. Had home been less than the 7 miles away, or maybe had I been able to avoid riding on Quivira, one of the more treacherous arterials out here, I would have turned him down.

Oh well. 9 miles is better than zero, which is what most of my weekends have been like recently.

It's after midnight...

So I guess that means we have a winner!

Apertome guessed 13.6 pounds, 0.6 off from the actual weight of 14.2 pounds. Guesses ranged from a svelte 8.2 pounds to a gargantuan 28.3 pounds, so there was a heck of a spread. Way to take the "shotgun" approach, guys.

Thanks for playing! Apertome, check your inbox.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The fuel crisis is over!

Well, I guess the fuel crisis is over. We've found terrorists fuel on Saturn's moon, Titan.

Full story on Discovery news

P.S. I've actually just been looking for something witty to post that would allow me to use the strike-out text. I haven't made a post like that in at least a month. If you don't think it's funny, too bad.

That helped a bit...

I got about 10 hours of sleep total between when I got home and when I had to come to work. There was a bit of an awake-and-asleep volley until midnight, then it was a good five-hour solid block of slumber. I slept in our new recliner. Sleeping with my head elevated usually helps when I have a head cold so long as I'm cautious not to let post-nasal-drip turn into a chest cold or bronchitis. Of all the ailments that I loathe, bronchitis tops my list.

I awoke with clear sinuses and a bit of a frog in my throat. Somewhat expected but I'm still not 100%. With temperatures in the teens and wind chills closing in on zero, I wasn't going to risk a jaunt to The Maul. Instead, I took my bike with me on the Dreaded bus.

I happened upon Karen, who I guess took it upon herself to ride her bike both ways yesterday and got caught up in the cold front on her way home. She's sticking to the bus today -- A wise choice given the temperature. A few more weeks and I'll likely be able to start riding the full round-trip regularly again. Spring can't get here soon enough. The bus always lulls me to sleep both on the way to work and on my way home, making me groggy. Riding always seems to engage my senses and sharpen me up before work. It boosts my metabolism all day long and I seem to get better rest at night.

I did my usual cup o'Joe with JR this morning, with a tasty blueberry muffin. It didn't do much to hold off impending starvation, though. It's not even 10:00 and I'm famished.

I'm cautious to say I've fully conquered my cold virus for real this time since I still have a little bit of a tickle in my throat, but I feel a hundred times better today. The headache is gone, the nostrils are clear, my ears aren't ringing or in need of popping. Today is a good day. I'm still glad I didn't ride to The Maul, though. I'm not sure how I'll get home yet. It really depends on temperatures and how I feel. If I had to go right now, I'd go with the Dreaded Bus again. On the positive side, I might actually get a few miles in tomorrow.

Random Tunage:
Tilt - Places
Orbital - Science Friction

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mediocre Bus

If there's any bus that could possibly take longer than the Dreaded Bus to circumnavigate downtown KCMO to get to my little slice of suburbia, it's the Johnson County Transit's M (Mid-Day a.k.a. Mediocre) bus. The Dreaded Bus takes about an hour and 10 minutes to run. It picks me up a block away from work and can drop me off a few hundred feet from my apartment. The Mediocre Bus, as I shall christen it, takes about the same amount of time with the additional hassle of dropping me off at the Maul, 2 miles from my mayhem-plotting headquarters.

With all of my required weekly tasks complete, a head full of mucous, and a body that's feeling weaker by the minute, I decided to bail early and take my chances with the Mediocre Bus this once.

My plan is to get home, refuel, over-hydrate, then go to sleep for as long as I possibly can.

By the way, the contest is still on. The current person in first place is still more than half a pound off, so there's a whole pound's worth of guesses that will come closer than our current winner. Contest ends tomorrow right before midnight, so get your guesses in to win the Jersey! It's not yellow. It won't make you fast, but it is a Jersey that would normally retail for about $70 that you could get for free. It might also make Fritz laugh at you. No guarantees, though.

Random Tunage (Valentine's Day Luuuv Song Edition):
Peter Cetera - You're The Inspiration (new version) [Re-make? Cover? of the Chicago Song]
Steve Winwood - Higher Love


Just about the time I figure I've beaten this bug, it decides to prove its tenacity.

I'm not feeling that much worse, per-se, but I can't seem to fully shake whatever this stuff is, and it's driving me nuts. Ample fluids, plenty of sleep... Gah.

I probably should have called in sick today just to mend. There's not a thing on this planet that's been able to keep its hooks in me if I throw a good solid day or two of sleep at it. Unfortunately, I have a pretty serious meeting tomorrow that I can't miss, and I'm already here at work, pretty much stuck here. Looks like I might just have to ride this out for the rest of the week.

This is starting to suck.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Photo: quite literally millions of tiny condensation icicles graced the ceiling of the parking garage when I went down to hop on my bike and come home. I wish I could have gotten a better shot, as I've never quite seen anything like this before. Usually, the parking garage stays a little bit above freezing even when it gets down into the high-teens outside. The concrete roof is obviously above freezing, and condensation from car exhaust is making the ornate pattern you see here.

I left my wallet at home today, so had to basically social-engineer my way into my bank account for lunch money. Ugh. What a day!

February Bike Week Planning Meeting

I just for for the following from Deb Ridgway. This is the second in a series of meetings to solidify plans for Bike Week (May 11-17) in Kansas City. Please come and help us brainstorm or volunteer.

Tuesday, February 19th

6:30 - 8:00 PM

Tony Aguirre Community Center
2050 West Penway

Please bring your ideas for events and be prepared to be the leader to bring the idea to fruition. Attached are the roster and notes from the January meeting. It's not too late to share your ideas and resources for the best Bike Week ever in KC!

Agenda for Feb 19th Meeting:

  • Review event list from last meeting
  • Assign event leaders (person who will organize and lead event)
  • Update from event leaders
  • Establish meeting schedule, location and deadlines

Me:1. Virus: 0.

I'm pretty sure that's the last I'll be seeing of this particular round of whatever illness is plaguing my office. This is pretty much the same bug I was up against back in December, which also didn't get much further than forcing me to take the Dreaded bus before I shooed it away with massive amounts of vitamins, water, and a few homeopathic remedies I keep in my arsenal. Come to think of it, something was also sneaking up on me almost exactly a month ago but it, also, got the beatdown without throwing me off the bike. I've been fortunate to have not gotten truly sick in quite some time, my abscessed tooth notwithstanding.

Arguably, keeping myself physically active through the typically lethargic winter months has helped my immune system. In general, I try to practice what I preach when it comes to keeping the bugs at bay. I try not to over-train. I wear balaclavas to keep my EIA in check (it gets worse with cold and arid environments) and all that jazz.

Last night brought with it an earlier bed-time than normal and increased water intake -- and I usually drink ample amounts of water anyways. I prepared all my stuff (instead of goofing off) while my wife was getting ready for work, and pretty much showered (with a bit of Jala Neti thrown in for good measure) then crashed right as she walked out the door. Oddly enough, I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm went off because of this, netting me about 5 hours and 50 minutes of sleep. More than usual, and almost as much as I can really afford to get in a night with my current schedule.

I had a nice, easy ride to the bus this morning with no residual issues related to the bug I fought off. Go me!

Random Tunage:
Des'ree - Dreams Can Come True
Peter Cetera - Restless Heart

Monday, February 11, 2008

Guess what I got today?

No, not a head cold. It's the jersey that I'm giving away to one lucky reader thanks to!

It looks good enough for me to keep for myself, but rest assured I haven't tried it on. The OEM tag is tucked away neatly in the neck of the jersey for the photo.

After my torturous 3 hour round trip on the bus today, I feel better from a standpoint of my sinuses. With the temperatures hovering in the mid-teens, I decided to skip the Monday night ride as well, so I haven't put tread to pavement at all today. My goal of 300 miles for February is also shot. There's almost no way I'll make it up this month. I'm staying home from work on Wednesday to celebrate my wife's birthday and probably won't be doing any riding then, either.

In other news, I'm about to install the Mac OS X 10.5.2 update as soon as I'm done posting, and I'm stoked. "Leopard" as Apple calls their latest incarnation of OS X, has been giving me problems from the get-go. Some of them got better with the last update, and I'm hoping this exorcises the last of Leopard's demons.

Don't forget to guess the weight of my backpack to win a free jersey!

Random Tunage:
Cranberries - Zombie
The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar

D is for Dreaded

Well, I've felt like crap most of the weekend. Sounds like I'm not the only one.

Let's see... I had after-hours IT work to do during the wee hours of Sunday morning. That in and of itself was the final blow to my immune system. I didn't get to bed until close to 3:00 AM and I had to be up by 7:00. I got about 6 hours of sleep last night -- an hour more than usual but hardly what I'd call therapeutic.

With that, I decided shortly after waking up that I'd hoof it to the Dreaded Bus. I don't feel that sick right now, but with my sinuses partly clogged and a bit of a raw throat from breathing through my mouth all night long, I didn't feel that over-working my body, breathing in cold, dry air was a good idea. It's 12°F (-11°C) out with 56% relative humidity.

So, there you have it. My first non-bike commute of 2008. But at least I'm not driving.

Don't forget to guess the weight of my backpack to win a free jersey!

Random Tunage:
Peaches - Aa - Xxx
Alanis Morisette - Head Over Feet

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What I carry. Plus, a Give-Away Contest!

So, Fritz did a bag audit. And he carries a lot of stuff.

There's a contest related to all the stuff I carry, so pay attention and you might just win!

Since I switched over to winter mode, I really haven't taken everything out of my Kensington Contour Backpack at once. Until Now, that is. Edit: Actually, I forgot, I did this once before when I just switched over back in late October. It's interesting to see how things change (and what remains the same)

Enough banter though, on with the STUFF

Main Pocket
Specialized Deflect Gloves
Plastic Bags
The Black Book (mostly my obscure hand-written UNIX and programming notes)
Blackburn MTB pump
Burger King receipt
Red Dragon chinese receipt

Middle Pocket
MacBook Power Cord
Nintendo DS (Road Schwag!)
Spare DiNotte Batteries
NiteIze Reflector/Lights for backpack (Visible in action here)
SanDisk 12-in-1 Reader

Back Pocket
2x Blank CD-R
2x Photon MicroLight 2
Keys/USB Flash
Guaranteed Ride Home card
USB Cord for Camera/Card Reader
USB Cord for charging my LG Chocolate

Left Side Pen/Pencil
Bus Pass/Office Access Card/Lanyard
LG Chocolate
More plastic bags

Right Side Park Tool MTB-3 Multi-Tool
Master Lock Python Cable Lock (Easily hacked)

Now, for the Give-Away Details!
What's up for grabs? has offered up one Large sized Primal Wear cycling jersey to one of my lucky readers. Literally, thousands of people come back here for some reason. I can't figure it out, either.

If you wear another size... Well, Sorry. If you don't like Pink Floyd... well... what are you thinking?! No. I haven't worn it. Actually, I haven't even gotten it yet. But I will.

How do you win it?
Guess the weight of this backpack with all the stuff listed above. My scale is accurate to within .1 pound. E-mail your guess to focushacks (at) Make sure you include "Backpack Contest" in the subject line so it doesn't get lost in the mess that is my inbox.

First person (according to my e-mail server) that e-mails me the most accurate guess wins. Over or under the actual weight does not matter. I am not Bob Barker. This is not The Price Is Right.


  1. You have to e-mail me from an address I can reply to once and get in touch with you. That means no goofy anti-spam e-mail things or auto-responders.
  2. I will only ship it to a real address (no P.O. Boxes) within the 48 mainland United States Of America.
  3. One guess per person.
  4. Contest ends as soon as someone guesses the absolute correct weight.
  5. If the exact weight isn't answered by 11:59 PM Friday, Feb 15, 2008 Central Time (where I'm at), I'll pick the person who guessed the closest, the earliest.
Once the contest is over, I will reply to the e-mail from the person who won. You'll have until 11:59 PM Monday, February 18 to provide me with a mailing address. If I don't hear back from you, I'll move on to the next runner up every 24 hours until someone replies. But really, who doesn't want a MASSIVE PF:DSOTM Jersey?!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stupid Kids.

Well, two of the same kids from a few days ago were out again last night. Again, they yelled something at me. I think I'll chase them down and get pictures of them for you guys if they do it again this afternoon. It's about time I set aside my own personal Hall of Lame. I have to deal with a lot of lame things and people throughout the course of an average month. I'm sure I could make a weekly column out of it, in fact.

I was actually too busy tinkering with old CCTV cameras and messing with my DiNotte light last night to post. Aside from a run to Radio Shack adding some ticks to my odometer and resisting the urge to leave tire tracks on some punk kids' faces, yesterday and this morning were without event.

Random Tunage:
Green Day - Basket Case
Cut Copy - So Cosmic (Hour-long Mix-mash of Electro Tracks)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hi there, February. Nice to meet you!

For what seems to be the first time this month, we actually have temperatures that I expect for February. 13 degrees upon departure meant I got to experiment with layering a bit more. Sure, the snow was common for February, but temperatures hovering just under freezing seemed a little bit out of place for this time of year -- And that isn't counting the really freaky warm days in our past. Indeed, this is much more akin to what I think February should be in Kansas City.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still ready for spring and the massive increase in riding that comes with it. If it's going to be cold in February, though, it had better be cold for real.

Word of the day:
grind [grahynd]
Eight hours of lethargy interrupting an otherwise pleasant bicycle ride

Random Tunage:
Dr. DNA - Love Ball
Crash Test Dummies - Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

... and a faggot, too!

On the last leg of my commute, I ran over across three kids in their late teens with snow shovels. Apparently, I am a faggot as well. I've been called that a few more times than I can count. Way to be original, guys. Sadly, I'm taken by my wonderful wife. Sorry, boys. You ain't getting none of this.

To further amuse me, one of the impetuous youngsters had the chutzpah to ask me for a dollar. I can only assume that they were wandering around, offering to shovel driveways and parking lots for money. I gave them not word nor gesture in return, but if that's how they treat people they want money from, I'm thinking that their pool of beer money is going to remain scarce.

I've been called a lot of things...

however, "Alien" is a new one. Waiting for the bus, a guy's expression was "Dude, you look like an alien or sumthin'!"

Right on. I am an alien. This is my ship. That lighting and mirror in the background is part of the bus interior.

Random Tunage:
Kim Leoni - Again (Neo Cortex Radio Mix)
Alanis Morrisette - Uninvited

A Mess in the making

The rain turned into snow sometime around 8:00 last night. I wasn't paying attention between 7 and 9, but by 9 it had snowed enough to make things white.

I had to drop my wife off at work last night, and we saw cars slippin' and slidin' all over the place. It was kind of funny since none of them actually hit anything nor were in the path to hitting us. I'm sure there are at least 2 people who had to change their shorts when they got to their destination.

This morning, road crews had somewhat tamed the pavement, but snow was still coming down. I really should have worn the ski goggles but didn't think to. At 23 degrees, it was a bit too warm to be sealing my face off from the elements. Maybe my clear safety glasses would have been a better choice. Because of the snow, my two and a half mile ride this morning was done mostly squinting or blinking rapidly.

The bus was a bit late -- to be expected. I still had time to kick it with Lorin and JR over coffee. I practiced my sideways snow-throwing skid pulling into City Center Square. That's always a crowd-pleaser as long as I don't eat it while showing off.

Here are some weather-ish photos from the past couple of days:

Yesterday, while eating lunch before going to City Hall:

Last night (that's not a blurry photo, that's snow and fog):

This morning from my break room:

Random Tunage:
Aurora - Ordinary World (Condor Remix) [cover of Ordinary World by Duran Duran]
Cybersonik - Technarchy

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Where to begin?

Last night, I did the Monday night ride and picked up a few miles more than I would have. I revised my goals for February (I'll discuss this more at the end of this post) and I really have to step up the miles this month.

This morning was seriously blah. It was misty on the way to work, raining by the time I got downtown, and just cold enough to be in that temperature range that I absolutely loathe when it's raining.

I might as well cover my evening commute too. It's even cooler, still raining but it's toned down a bit. It's hard to call a bike commute "fun" when the weather is like this, but I'd take it over being in a car.

I spent my lunch hour at KCMO city hall making a somewhat futile attempt to stand up for better bicycle parking. By 11:45, the city hadn't even finished with the stuff on 10:00-11:00 docket. Then they took a break for lunch and to go into closed session for a while. I left my contact info with Deb Ridgway, KCMO's Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator. Several others were there that couldn't stick around until 1:00 or later, but according to Eric from, our appearance made a difference. There's still a long way to go, but this is a big step in the right direction for cyclists in the metro. A big thanks to all the others that showed up, including the President of the Johnson County Bike Club. Even though we don't live in Kansas City, we certainly ride there and this has an impact on us as well.

2008 Goals
I revamped my 2008 goals, and they may be further amended. The reason I'm doing this is because there's no way I could have logged 420 outdoor "real" riding miles in January. there's not much hope for me getting that many this month, either. To further complicate things, November and December of 2008 will also likely suffer. Meanwhile, I've proven that closing in on 700 miles in the warmer months is not a problem. I'm shooting for 300 miles for February. That's an average of 11+ miles per day until the 29th, or 15 miles per day if only riding 5x a week which is the norm for me. I'm banking on a few nice days and full round-trips this month.

Random Tunage:
Bangles - Manic Monday (Only Monday?! It's been a manic WEEK so far!)
Goo Goo Dolls - Listen

Collective Mourning

I already posted it on Blue Collar MTB, and I'm sure you've read it elsewhere. Sheldon Brown is no longer with us and will be missed. The entire bicycling blogosphere is mourning.

As an avid tinkerer and mechanical mad scientist myself, Sheldon's site was the first and most frequent source of bicycle technical information I ever used once I got back into bicycling. Just from watching him interact with people on BikeForums, I know that only a fraction of his bicycle knowledge was actually placed on his site. This week, we lost a genius, philanthropist, advocate, optimist and a friend all at the same time. His wisdom, words of encouragement and dry, sarcastic wit will be greatly missed.

I've got nothing else this morning.

Monday, February 04, 2008


This weekend seemed busy as hell; hence the quondam quiescence of this little corner of The Blogosphere. Reminiscing, however, I am having trouble drudging up all of the events. Maybe jotting about them will bring it back.

Let's see, I remember taking the A Express to get home on Friday, really hammering it through the side roads to get home. I had to pick up a friend who had to leave his Ford Focus at a shop over the weekend. Then we went to The Maul for our usual First-Friday meeting. A few of us talked about the possibilities of doing a monthly podcast. We ate Thai food. We parted ways.

I was literally up all Friday night hashing out a bunch of details for some other projects I'm working on -- writing for various blogs, working on some musical stuff, etc. I made a bike run to pick up lunch on Saturday for my wife and I. Then I had to go back there a second time because they messed up our order. Both trips combined added up to a whopping one mile.

Yesterday brought with it one of the strangest winter storms I've ever seen. Lightning, Thunder and Hail. That was it for about half an hour. No rain. Then it started sleeting, then more hail. The little town my parents live in got dumped on pretty hard. Without looking closely, it appeared to have snowed. Up close, you can see it was hail. Small, mostly harmless hail, but hail all the same.

Then there's today. I need to go to a shopping center out in Kansas City, Kansas to pick up some furniture. My Explorer isn't big enough to load it up, so Jon will probably help me get everything (including my bike) home. I loaded the Twelve up with panniers and a huge 15'x30' tarp in case I need to cover up my new furniture purchase as it might rain this evening. The tarp's not blue, though, so I'm definitely not a Mainer. On a side-note, I do think there are some Mainers transplanted to my parents' neighborhood, as there is an absolutely ginormous boat and trailer covered with what appears to be no less than 500 square feet of blue tarp made of several smaller (but huge in their own right) blue tarps held together with silver duct tape. I'll get pictures for the Crumudgeonator soon. I wasn't thinking about it when I passed by yesterday.

There were FOUR. Count them -- FOUR bicycle commuters at the coffee shop this morning. Joining myself, Lorin and JR was a guy on a Giant Rincon. He didn't precisely join us. He just showed up and had his coffee. But there were a bunch of bikes parked out there this morning. And why not? At nearly 50 degrees and humidity that made the fog look more like mist and the pavement sweat, this is hardly an early February morning to scoff at.

Random Tunage:
Regina Spektor - Fidelity
Bloc Party - I Still Remember

Friday, February 01, 2008

It kind of makes your heart ache...

I really don't like seeing people in discomfort, but it's pretty much a daily thing, especially this time of year. Kansas City's urban core has a sizable poverty problem. Try as the city government may to revitalize areas of blight and destitution, the fact remains that many homeless still dwell the streets. When I go to lunch, I see people sleeping in the alley behind my office. When I get my morning mocha, I see people huddling close to City Center Square. They wander in and out. Maybe they're rummaging the garbage bins for leftovers. Maybe they're changing clothes or trying to clean themselves a bit in the bathrooms. Maybe they're just trying to get out of the cold or out of the blistering summer heat. I'm not sure.

One thing is for certain though. Teetering on the brink of starving and freezing to death at the same time will take its toll on a person's sanity, and this morning, patrons of City Center Square got a heck of a show, probably due to this fact. Sitting there, sipping my morning Mocha with Lorin, we heard some noise from the corridors of the food court. Soon, there was a lot of clamoring, and people flocking into Starbucks or simply leaving the building. Someone was very, very unhappy. It was a man that I'd seen plenty of times before. I can assume he's under-privileged at the least if not homeless.

The screaming and shouting wasn't full of anger. It was full of desperation. The cries came not from his lungs, but from his very soul. To the un-trained ear, this is just another madman being dragged back out into the streets, kicking and screaming. To me, though, I hear something much more visceral -- a cry for survival. It was one of the most god-awful sounds I've heard. I'm not sure if the man had done anything more illegal than loitering. Sometimes, theft is a bit of a problem. During back-to-school season, people would come in off the streets and steal things out of the donation bins. Panhandling is also a problem downtown, but it seems a lot of people seem to just get kicked out of CCS for no reason other than loitering, though.

Regardless, I'm really torn on this subject. I've seen people pull themselves up by the bootstraps to overcome these kinds of situations to better themselves and their way of life without a lot of help from others. At the same time, I wish I were really able to help them a bit more than I do, but really helping without contributing to their complacency about their way of life.

Well, all I can say it was an interesting morning. And I really feel bad for that guy right now.

Random Tunage:
T.A.T.U. - All The Things She Said
Robert Miles - Children

Privacy Policy

This site is driven by software that uses third-party cookies from Google (Blogger, AdSense, Feedburner and their associates.) Cookies are small pieces of non-executable data stored by your web browser, often for the purpose of storing preferences or data from previous visits to a site. No individual user is directly tracked by this or any other means, but I do use the aggregate data for statistics purposes.

By leaving a link or e-mail address in my comments (including your blogger profile or website URL), you acknowledge that the published comment and associated links will be available to the public and that they will likely be clicked on.