Thursday, January 29, 2009

Note to self.

Dear Self,
It seems that you have lost your sense of appropriate clothing at certain temperatures. I am talking about your boisterous display of stupidity on your homeward commute this afternoon. Although 41°F sounds tantamount to a nice late-spring day, rest assured that it's not. Please remember, your hands and ears do not like being left out in the open at temps below 50°.

Noah D.
Executive Curmudgeonly Bastard
KC Bike Commuting

It looked so nice and sunny out. 41 did sound comfortable. My ears didn't think so, neither did my hands, especially when touching the metal brake levers.

Mail Call:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The most asinine quarter mile in Johnson County

Not to dog on Dave's Turf but seriously, what the hell are people thinking? Welcome to Edgewood Boulevard.

I am riding illegally in the oncoming lane in this photo. It's a separated boulevard, with barely one lane of width on each side of the island, but it's actually a pair of two-way roads separated by... an island? Meh. Whatever.


Rust and snow.



Jimmy John's.

Highway Abstractness.

Random Tunage
Lisa Loeb - I Do
Garbage - Stupid Girl

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ermine Case, Jr. Park

Even with the miracles of The Interwebs (thank you, Al Gore, for bringing them to us), I can't for the life of me figure out what Ermine Case, Jr. did to get a park named after him. I mean, how can you be important if you don't even have a Wikipedia page?

All kidding aside, this park (colloquially known only as "Case Park") sits at the top of the craggy limestone cliffs which tower some two hundred feet above the West Bottoms. Unfortunately, given the scenic nature of this spot, photos taken here are usually pretty cliché.

Overlooking the Charles B. Wheeler KC Municipal Airport (see, Chuck has a Wikipedia Page! He must be important!)

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, colloquially known as That Gold Dome Church Thingy. "Colloquially" has such a fun ring to it, but I'll try to not use it again this week.

Picking up stuff at River Market Cyclery.

The plant across the street from River Market Cyclery.

Following my own tracks back out of the River Market area. I saw and greeted William (The Shopping Cart guy) a few seconds before snapping this.

There wasn't quite 2" of snow -- it was more like 1/4" of snow this morning, but the light snow kept falling throughout the day and into the evening.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's not that I haven't had my share of adventures...

It's just that most of them aren't really the kind of stuff I think you would be interested in.

It's with great fervor, however, that I can say I've finally visited the new Cosentino's Market in Downtown KC. This is kind of a big deal, as over the past few years there's been a lot of gentrification downtown (urban planners call it revitalization. Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe) but NO GROCERY STORE. Bonus: they even have a few bike racks!

Not much happened on Friday. The weekend was full of mundane happenings. More target practice (shotguns this time) - I think I should probably try Clay Pigeons next time. Paper targets are kind of silly for shotguns. I'm not big on hunting, but I do like making things go boom.

Played MacGyver at church. I fixed the pedal of the bass drum by using only a paper hole punch as a pair of makeshift pliers. Hey, you make do with what you have on hand! I also played my Bass guitar while making an attempt to run the soundboard for the entire praise team. That's always interesting.

Oh, and we had more snow, but it melted. Side note: It's snowing again RIGHT NOW as I type this.

Some goofing off w/ tech stuff.

Anyhow, it's bed time, and I can't wait to see what the snow accumulation looks like in a few hours!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Faux Toes - Jan 21/22

Sorry the flash ruined this one. It pretty much sums up my thought on Girl Scout Cookies. They are tasty, but good grief they're expensive.

Some co-workers and I went to Flying Saucer for lunch yesterday. I'd never been there before. They use golf tees instead of toothpicks to hold sandwiches together. I'm sure wooden toothpicks are more biodegradable than painted golf tees, so the "sustainability" of this is called into question quickly. From a gimmicky marketing perspective, I think it's pretty clever.

Speaking of sustainability, the barista that served Lorin and I at Starbucks yesterday pointed at the bike helmet in my hand and asked if I'm carbon neutral yet. I chuckled. In retrospect, I wish I would have had enough cynical snarkiness at the time to say "no, but I'm carbon based." - Unfortunately, my snark engine is caffeine-fueled and I was on Empty...

A few days ago, my wife bought some cool erasable pens that use thermo-sensitive ink. The "eraser" is a hard plastic nub that generates heat through friction, which turns the ink transparent.

I experimented with that last night, as I'm always one to see what makes things tick. I found out that this ink is usable for "secret" messages. The erased ink re-appears when you put the paper in a freezer.

I guess if you correct your writing with one of these pens, make sure you don't leave the documents in your car on a cold winter day!

This morning, I tried heating the ink with the heat from my stovetop and the "invisible" message comes back much clearer than it does when you rub it away with the "eraser" -- In fact, it's almost as dark and crisp as before it was erased.

The thin crescent moon was eerily awesome this morning. I wish I could have captured it with more clarity, but I was rushed. On a side note: Barnes & Noble is nearing completion, and I'm somewhat excited about having a giant bookstore close to home, even if it caters primarily to the Oprah Mind Control Consumer-Zombie Sheeple.

Occasionally, something goes horribly wrong with a shot and I end up liking it anyway. This was one of those.

Random Tunage:
Stabbing Westward - Save Yourself
Steve Winwood - Back In the High Life Again

... Yep. Definitely Random this morning.

Irony what?

From Let's Go KC via Eric Rogers:

City Manager Wayne Cauthen’s proposed 2008-2009 KCMO budget cuts many servies to deal with declining revenue brought on by the current recession. One of the big cuts is to the city’s funding of the bus system. Cauthen is proposing a cut of $7 million, or 15% of the city’s transit funding. That translates to about 10% of the KC Area Transportation Authority’s total budget.
What a novel idea! One of the first places they're cutting funds will make it more difficult for Kansas Citians to easily get to places where they spend money that generates tax revenue. Brilliant. Read more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stop. Cookie Time.

I didn't know whether to make a crack about the girl scout content of my cookies, or whether to say they are secure SSL-Only cookies. They are cookies. Tasty cookies.

Then there was the whole issue of getting eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies home. I didn't have any room for the coffee flask, so I had to strap it down to the top of the panniers. They were loaded pretty well.

On my way home, I hit the LBS and picked up the last pair of brake pads they had that would fit The Goat. I'm kind of leery about the 3-in-one thing: there are actually three separate brake pads in each holder.

We'll see how they do. The old rear pads were worn paper thin, and lasted almost exactly a year. I was generally pleased with them. The fronts still have plenty of material left.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Long weak-end

Kind of a crazy long weekend, but not a lot of photos.

We finally took my mom out for her birthday lunch on Saturday... her B-Day was Jan 4th.

Dad and I went shooting on Sunday:

At ~10 yards. Yes, I need practice. Lots of practice.

More medical mysteries abounded this weekend. Indeed, Martin Luther King Jr. Day didn't feel much like a day off. I still went on my Monday night ride, though. There was a really small turn-out, but it was a nice evening for a ride. Later this week, some locals that frequent the Monday night ride are heading to Belgium for some Cyclocross racing. I'm not much for bike racing, but it would be cool to make it out to Belgium sometime.

I am sooo ready to grind up some Full Vengeance in the morning. I had to pick more coffee up this weekend and picked this up instead of my usual.

I've been using Roasterie Nitro for the last year. Full Vengeance is a bit more mellow but with more complex flavor. The Roasterie is a local roaster that has some truly awesome blends. Their dark roasts are some of my favorites, and Super Tuscan is great for espresso-based drinks. Danny (The Bean Baron) recently started blogging, too. He's only got a few posts up, but hopefully he keeps it up. I don't know Danny personally, but a few of my barista friends are friends of his.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Everyone else is doing it.

I've broken "Prime Directive 2009".

Not because I'm lazy (I am, kind of) or because it's cold (it is), or because we've already put a thousand miles on our vehicles since new years (we have done no such thing!), but I've just lost track of my miles, completely.

I haven't even bothered trying to figure out how many I've ridden this week. It hasn't been a ton, but I've run a bunch of errands both downtown and near home. I've taken some strange routes, too. I don't have a computer on The Goat. Back in the summer time when The Goat was a purely trail-use machine, I removed it and gave it to a co-worker who was getting into cycling. And you know what? I don't miss it.

Playing the numbers game was one way to keep myself motivated. Maybe I'll give it a shot next year, or maybe when I'm back to the Road Bike full time and actually have an odometer with me, I'll see if I can hold my own against the automobile miles.

For the time being, though, I really like not feeling pressured to fire up the spreadsheet and enter my miles, while on top of it trying to remember where I rode and guess how many miles each trip was.

I'll probably just stick to enjoying the ride.



A So-called "Danger Panda" - Standing on the pedals. No hands on the bars. No eyes on the road. 404: Brains Not Found. At least I won't fall prey to zombies. All kidding aside, this was a fun shot to take, and I took it coasting a nice, downhill quiet residential area with no driveways on my side of the road. Note the frost already taking over the Balaclava. This was actually taken a few evenings ago.

This car passed me last night and then got on the highway. I had to snap a picture of its improvised bumpers, made from thick iron pipes. It reminds me of my first car a little bit: an old '81 Accord.


The pond in my apartment complex is obviously frozen. Except for the edge (shown here) it's smooth as glass. This R/C car is a cheap one my sis gave me. Its "tires" are hard plastic and it's rear-wheel-drive only. I ran it around the pond a bit but got tired of losing control and doing nothing but skidding around aimlessly.

After dark, I took my nicer all-wheel-drive RC Car out on the ice. When it's not being raced or abused, it's dressed up as a nice C5 'Vette:

But for this, I threw on the R34 Skyline body, which has been destroyed, flipped, scuffed, cracked, or otherwise abused and humiliated. I wish I could have captured some good photos or a video of this thing on the ice. It screams like a banshee, and the soft, treaded rubber tires and all-wheel-drive gave it great acceleration, handling, and control on the ice. With about 3 acres of glass-smooth arena at my disposal, it might as well have been a scale model of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It only goes about 12 MPH, but it looks fast since it's a relatively small 1:20 scale R/C car. I didn't bother hooking up the headlights, but the green under-car lights made it look pretty cool on the ice, as well as helping me keep an eye on it.

I didn't expect snow this morning, but we got about an inch.

This one's for John in Calgary. You can clearly see that snow (and plenty of frigid air) sneaks in through the doorway on the bus.

Lorin, JR, and I warmed up over caffeinated goodness before heading into the office.

Random Tunage:
Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disko
Oebital - Walk Now...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sub Zero

We had our first sub-zero day of the winter season today, at least as far as Johnson County and Downtown KCMO are concerned. The bus we use has two doors -- one fore and one aft. This is a source of many air leaks. In the summer, it's hard to keep this bus cool. In the winter, ice sometimes forms by the back door. When it's below zero, you can see your breath on the bus, it's remarkably chilly.

I took this heart- leg-warming picture this morning on the way to work.

Fortunately, I was more prepared today than I was yesterday. Having ridden through -1°F air to get to the bus stop, I was quite comfy sitting among my chilly, under-dressed peers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm an idiot.

For those xkcd fans out there, I'm not that kind of idiot (although I have a funny story similar to it)

You know that climate roller coaster I mentioned yesterday? I didn't account for its wrath today.

No, I sat up in bed, and opened my phone's web-browser. I hit my "favorites" link and pulled up Local NOAA Current Weather Conditions. Almost 40°F in Olathe (the closest station to me)

I WAS STOKED! It looked like this:

With that, I put on my Specialized Deflect gloves (good down to about freezing), grabbed the light inner layer of my new coat, threw on some cargo pants and hit the road. I really should have cracked the laptop open this morning and checked Weather Underground's extended forecast for Lenexa or something -- anything -- to get a better picture than this too-good-to-be-true heat wave.

I knew something was amiss when I saw these notices come from Ed Roberts' Kansas City Weather Podcast Twitter account:

Now, as you can see, there's been a 21° drop in downtown KC. and it's only 10:00! It'll get even colder!

I'm woefully under-prepared for this. I really need to pay more attention to things in the morning.

Random Tunage:
Crystal Method - Blowout
Bloc Party - I Still Remember

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