Saturday, February 28, 2009

What a crazy end to February!

My chain's been skipping a bit on The Goat. Friday morning, I found out why. It wasn't my cassette like I thought. It was the chain. Kinky.

There's a shard of metal in the link, no amount of chain flex is working the kink out. I'll have to cut the chain. Fortunately, I kept some of the excess links, so I can keep it the current length. I know you're not supposed to cross-chain, but The Goat's gearing is set up so I can if I want to. It comes in handy in snow and mud... but the chain has to be the perfect length.

I am the go-to-guy at work for pretty much anything even remotely technology related. One of my co-workers brought me a camera that her kid dropped. It looked fine except the lens wouldn't retract because something broke inside. This caused an error with the camera and it would turn off without allowing pictures to be taken. I told her I'd look at it over one of my breaks. It looked like this for a while:

I got it all put back together, but there's physical damage that requires a new part... a part I'm pretty sure Kodak doesn't just sell to the masses... it's the silver lens barrel in the center of the photo above.

While I'm talking about fixing things... let me introduce to you my new Mavic Aksium Race.

Aero spokes aren't usually my style, but thanks to the hook-up from a very good friend and reader I got a great deal on it, complete with Mavic's MP3 protection plan. No questions asked, Mavic fixes or replaces this thing if I damage it. I'm not big on "protection plans" but I've heard how this one works and I think we can all agree that if there's one guy who can break a bike wheel, it's me. As you can tell from the photo, I already had it stealthed out before I put the tire on. No gawdy rim stickers for me.

The ratchet pawls are firm and crispy. The rim is laser-true from the factory. When I fired it up and looked down at the rim straight-on, I couldn't even tell the wheel was moving. I'm not sure why Mavic went with blade spokes on their entry-level wheel, but I'm not complaining. Although my front wheel is okay (it could use new bearings but otherwise it's solid) I'll be saving up for the matching front wheel soon.

I haven't ridden The Twelve in months. I don't get caught up on looks, but even with the mismatched spokes, the wheels don't look too off. Black rims and spokes. They're close enough for me for now. I'll just be happy to get some full commutes and group rides in as the weather gets nicer! I also needed a chain and cassette to get The Twelve up and running. Those are present as well.

Unfortunately, the weather did this to us today. 5" of snow, and it was 70 degrees a few days ago!

I really hope it clears up in time for Monday's commute.

My wife and I went to Sakura again. Here's a motion-blur photo of the train rumbling towards us.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This morning: 50 Degrees, light rain. Shorts weather!

Photo: the D bus pulling up to the bus stop this morning.

I had lunch at Jimmy John's with Lorin. He's in frame somewhere... Temps well in the 60s, Balmy. Light breeze. Pleasant.

Temps plummeted, sharply crossing the dew point and leaving a thick residue on everything. The pavement was sweating and my bike was dripping when I got out of work this evening.

Once I got out into the street, I was confronted with a baleful, stubborn west wind gusting up to 25 MPH. The cold front has arrived! Right now, it's already in the 20's and still dropping. The 70 degree huzzah was just Mother Nature teasing us again. We could even be in for a light dusting of snow this weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February Weather?

Crazy weather. It's 70 degrees this afternoon. I really, really miss The Twelve. Friday is payday, and repairs shall be done.

This is a weather telemetry tower thing. I'm a weather nerd. I believe the device shown below is a computerized rain gauge that simply senses how much precip passes between the sensors.

This is what happens when you walk next to a mirror-glass building with bright sun almost directly behind you. The taper of the shadow makes me look like the Michelin Man. Okay, maybe it's not only due to the shadow... :(

There were lots of folks out on bikes today. No surprise, as nice as it is. This is really February still?!

Oh, I tried Safari 4 Beta. It's still b0rk. It's okay, I have some geeky/security plugins for Firefox that I really like to keep around anyway.

Random Tunage:
Rachel Starr - Till There Was You
Prodigy - Narayan

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm still here. Kinda.

I suppose after a few e-mails asking if I've somehow fallen off the face of the earth, I should probably update.

Life's been crazy and exciting the past week or so. A few things from the highlight reel:

  • My wife finally found her biological mother! This is huge for a number of reasons:
  1. The woman that "raised" my wife (if you can call it that) has never gotten along with my wife too well. Let's just say "it's kinda complicated."
  2. My wife now has some knowledge of her genetic medical history.
  3. After so much searching, this gives my wife some happiness and she's found a REAL MOTHER that cares for her and loves her. No "awkward moment of silence" or "mixed feelings" on either side.
  • I am helping some friends build a huge 10'x12' Labyrinth that will be controlled by a Nintendo Wii balance board. You can read more about it here. My part will be the computer that ties the different elements of this project together. While I'm not getting my hands dirty (or cut up) in the construction process, I will hopefully come up with a reliable and easy-to-use "appliance" style computer that can be powered on and off at will by the Science City staff without any elaborate startup or shutdown procedure.
  • Cowtown Computer Congress has its grand opening ceremonies next week. As well as being on the build-out team that is preparing the local Technology Co-Op's "hackerspace" for use, I am also giving at least two presentations. Each of those presentations requires study, collaboration, and rehearsal. If you're an entrepeneur, geek, artist, crafter, builder, tinkerer or hacker in the Kansas City area, you should check out CCCKC. "Computer" is in the name, but it's more a collective of technical minds from physical, digital and mechanical standpoints.
  • I will probably have The Twelve fixed up soon! That means more full commutes, more photos, and hopefully more recreational riding. The Mountain Goat isn't meant for this, but it's all I've got right now.
Other than that, it's just bike/bus commuting, and nothing interesting happens when you ride the same 6 miles every single day.

Random Tunage:
Hybrid - Sinequanon
Way Out West - Melt

Thursday, February 19, 2009


With the nice weather we'd been having, I took the liberty of removing the full beard I'd allowed to invade my face. Perhaps that was a mistake. This morning, 15°F. *shiver*

To make matters worse, there was a huge water main break this morning right outside my building.

2 seconds after photographing this self-proclaimed "LFTWING", the driver tossed a bunch of trash out the driver's side window. Lots of typical Democrat flair on this car, including World Wildlife Fund and Obama/Biden. Way to lead by example.

Taken yesterday on my way home. Mt. Dew is yummy! No, I didn't recycle the can (there's no convenient way in my apartment complex) but at least I put it in a garbage bin and not in the road.

In other news, if you ride your bike on the Kansas Side, you should probably check out the 5-County Regional Transportation Study. The Johnson County meeting will be at MANU's Cook Center Tuesday, February 24 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Random Tunage:
Way Out West - Apollo
Human League - Human

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Straps On!

No, really:

Apparently, some company is devoted to providing... erm... "strap-on" hardware that can affix signage to posts.

So, aside from NOT being able to make stuff like this up, I'd have never seen it from inside a car.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ah, what a nice long weekend!

Interesting stuff I saw between getting off work Thursday, and this moment in time right now:

I helped some friends hack an old payphone so we can use it as a normal (not-pay) phone. It still needs a little more work. Yes, it's legitimate and we have all the keys for it.

My wife and I saw the Wall of Infomercial Hell: Snuggies and Shamwows galore!

Five Orchids in an avant-garde arrangement for Valentine's day, because roses are cliche.

A WTF-Mobile. 90s Ford Fiesta meets Hacksaw, flat black paint, $10 fog-lights from wal-mart and some tarp material.

My camera phone makes this shot of LaCygne power plant look like it's from the 60s or something. This is the biggest plant in the region; When it's running at full tilt, it pumps out nearly 1.6 Gigawatts. Great Scott!

My wife and I had one last huzzah* at Sakura, a sushi bar and Japanese steakhouse. If you sit at the sushi bar, you can watch the chefs prepare everything, and then they load the sushi plates onto flatcars on a G-Scale electric model train. The waitstaff simply counts up how many trays you've pulled off the train to calculate your tab. It's actually a pretty affordable place as far as sushi goes, and quite tasty.

I put a new chain on The Goat on Saturday, so it's back to the grind in 10 hours or so.

* Enough fancy meals for this paycheck. Time to make a dang quesadilla!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Chain of Command

This morning, out of the blue, my chain started skipping. It felt like my rear derailleur was way out of adjustment, so I didn't think much of it. I was just riding to the bus stop at The Maul.

As I approached 95th street from Quivira, my left turn light lit up. Usually, I have to camp out at this intersection. This was A Good Thing, as I was running a bit behind schedule. I hammered it to make the light and the skipping got worse. Then I completely lost my power.

I figured the chain slid off the tall chainring, so I just coasted through the intersection which to my fortune was still green. I downshifted to the small ring, which usually brings the chain back into place, but it didn't. I looked down, and there was no chain (There was only Zuul)

I looked behind me and saw the bus approaching, too. Decision time:

  1. Stop, walk back to where I dropped my chain, break out the chain tool and fix my bike then wait half an hour for the next bus?
  2. Coast as far as I can (95th is a downhill to the Maul Parking Lot), walk the bike the last hundred yards or so, and catch the bus?
The chain has survived a winter of salt, grime, and abuse. I've kept it well lubricated, but you can only do so much. It's probably time for a replacement anyway.

As I write this, I'm on the Dreaded bus, heading home. The bus stops at a stansfer station for a good 15 minutes. This is why I can beat the bus home on my bicycle, when it's running properly.

I snapped these while walking to meet with an information security colleague of mine over lunch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A day off, and a funky schedule

Tuesday night, I used my Jornada to scan for wireless networks on the way home.

The hospital's not even 3 miles from our apartment, so you can imagine my surprise to find more than 300 wireless networks along the way.

I took the day off yesterday, as it'd been my wife's third day in the hospital. I was pretty sure they'd discharge her, too. I wanted to be there with her, and not leave her hanging for hours waiting for me to come pick her up if she was released.

While there, I saw the parking lot "courtesy car" - a driver will take you out to your car if you're disabled, lazy, or parked in the bowels of hell. This is a slow, 100% electric car. Too bad that means that aside from Wolf Creek and Callaway (which I once photographed from afar on a road trip) the biggest power plants in the region are all coal-burning. For all intents and purposes, this is a coal-powered car plagued by the combined inefficiencies in power generation, transport, conversion to-and-from direct current, heat losses during battery recharging and probably some other fun stuff I'm forgetting. Go Green!

Playing with Fennec (Mozilla browser for mobile platforms) on my Mac while enjoying the remaining afternoon after bringing my wife home. Does anyone want a 32-hole Tiagra rear hub (shown below) without many miles on it? I'll sell it cheap!

Always on the lookout for irony, the below showed up in my google reader last night. It's a link to a (not work-safe language) video from The Onion (a satire site) about the latest Sony device that doesn't work. The fun begins when Google places a Sony ad at the bottom of the story.

This morning? Cold and rainy. As you may know, Rain and temperatures below 50 are pretty much the only weather I really hate riding in, but I do it anyway. One more day, and I'm off until next Tuesday! The weather doesn't look too promising this weekend, though.

Random Tunage:
Vengaboys - We Like To Party
Binary Finary - 1999

Monday, February 09, 2009

Crazy Weak-End, Eerie Moon

Friday Night (8pm), some friends and I showed up at Pizza Man for some supper. They were closed. How does a pizza place stay afloat with crappy business hours like this?

Might be layoffs in this economy, hard telling. We took our business to Stonewall Inn next door. They have good pizza, too.

Over the weekend, I subscribed to Freecycle. Their "application process" made me laugh, so I had fun with my answers to their silly questions.

Weak-end work at the office early Sunday morning. I left the lights off. I wish it was this dark in my office all the time. It would be much easier on my eyes.

Wife's back in the hospital. That Roadmaster that's laying down isn't locked. Still, I'd be willing to bet if a bike thief came along, my cable lock would be cut, my bike would be gone, and that damn roadmaster would still be there. There's a window overlooking it and a security camera right there as well.

My friend hevnsnt wrote "Inside programmable road signs" and then people started "hacking" road signs everywhere. This made front page news on, cnn and several others. Friday night, I saw it on my phone's web browser start page. Fame.

Folding laundry last night. My "helpers" fail. Warm Clothes = sleepy kitties.

I couldn't believe how incredibly beautiful it was this morning, save for the wind. I was in short sleeves. The moon was hiding in the fast-moving clouds.

Here's an up-close shot. I had to either get the detail in the moon and kill off the clouds, or wash the moon out and show how eerie the sky was. The clouds were moving way too fast for HDR.

Friday, February 06, 2009


That's exactly what this week has been.

Tuesday, I went to the CCCKC Underground Lab to determine what the space needs.  Tuesday night and Wednesday, I worked in Google Sketchup to draw out a floor plan for what I see the space looking like to meet the group's needs. I like Sketchup. 

Last night, I went to the group meeting (Weekly, every Thursday) and presented my floor plan to them. If you're interested, I created a virtual walk-through with Sketchup Screen shots. This morning, Lorin said "It's basically a MAN-CAVE, right?"  Not quite.  A Hackerspace is simply a physical location where hackers, tinkerers, programmers, entrepreneurs and scientists can go to collaborate or work on their projects.  It's very similar to a bicycle co-op except with electronics, computers, robotics and security stuff.

To make things even better, the CCCKC Underground Lab is actually quite easy to access by bicycle, and it's pretty much right along my bicycle commute route. Dude, I mean it's in a freaking CAVE! How cool is that?!

Several members are also cyclists. We joked last night about installing a bike rack in the carpeted hallway outside our door, but in reality we'll probably just wheel our bikes into the meeting room when it's not being used for presentations.

Lunch yesterday. These heating instructions made me laugh.

Riding to Cosentino's (the new/only grocery store downtown) is a good 5x faster than walking there. I was out there and back in a flash. I think the Trek 820 next to my bike belongs to someone who works at Cosentino's. It's locked there every single day, but parked differently each time.

This morning: Felt like I got hit by a truck when I woke up, but enjoyed riding in short sleeves. Mid-40s this morning, and predicted by some to maybe get into the 70s this afternoon.  

Tonight: The first Friday meeting at The Maul with some of my friends.  Like I said, this week's been a blur. 

Random Tunage:
Katharine McPhee - Over It
K's Choice - Not an Addict

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Slept in, got to work early

I think I can get used to that on occasion. I didn't even have to drive my car. I opted to catch an extra half hour of sleep, since I've been working on a few projects and I knew I'd be tired this morning. I just took a later bus and tweaked my morning schedule today.

Coffee slurry brewing in my French Press

The ladies in my office finally took down the snowflake ornaments from our ceiling yesterday. Wait... WHAT?! Aww, jeez.

Random Tunage:
Orbital - Chime
The Pharcyde - Passing Me By

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