Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fake languages

These are fake in the sense that the words don't exist, but the sounds should. I remember doing stuff like this as a kid.

Italian English

American Chinese Russian and more

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I wondered about all those new Harleys I used to see

For years, when Harley Davidson was booming I wondered "where is the money coming from to buy all these things?" They are very expensive discretionary items, and I doubted some of the "owners" could really afford > 20k to buy them. Looks like the HD bubble was a bit like, and related to, the housing bubble.

Details here http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/more-troubles-for-harley-davidson.aspx.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Get Rich Slowly

Great article here. Sure, it is mostly a piece promoting someone's new book, but I think it is sound advice nonetheless.

The only quibble I have with the Millionaire Next Door guys is that they treat becoming a millionaire as an exceptionally worthy goal in and of itself. Nothing wrong with gathering assets, I think everyone should. I don't think that living like an ascetic is worth it, if you can afford not too. Don't forget to stop and smell the roses etc.


Andrew Sullivan columns on S. Palin can be found here. In my opionion, he is doing this country a favor by digging into this stuff. She is an ambitious, charismatic lunatic. The more people that know about the lunatic part, the better.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Ballard Loop

In my continuing, but perhaps futile, quest to improve my hill climbing, I did my new Ballard coast loop this weekend. It has about 2,000 feet of elevation gain in around 25 miles. That's not a lot for some people, but quite a change for me.

Until last summer, I always avoided hills when I could. I'd detour a mile or more to miss them in LA. Now I turn toward them when I can - not to anything outrageous (I'm looking at you Counterbalance), but I don't mind moderate grades any more. I can slowly grind up all the routes I've tried so far, but I've been somewhat cautious. I spend a LOT of time in my smallest gear however.

I've noticed small, but continuous improvement in my uphill speed this year, so I guess this plan is working for me to some extent; my overall speed still hovers around 11 mph though. I need to keep it up, and hopefully I'll be ready for a SIR 200k next year. My goal for 2010 - finish a 200k with a "reasonable" cushion. Did I leave myself enough wiggle room?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Who makes the Subaru roof rack?

Is it these guys? Looks like it could be Mont Blanc, but I can't find any good info. Next question, how do I get my Thule accesories to work on my '10 Outback?

Monday, October 05, 2009

How to make a dinner plan

From Ben Casnocha's blog

When no party is willing to express a preference out of politeness or genuine deference to another party of the decision -- on what type of cuisine to eat for dinner, say -- the decision-making process often gets trapped in a death spiral of deferential indecision. Certain decision-making tricks are needed. One reader taught me the 3-2-1 rule for deciding where to eat. The first person person names three types of cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, and Indian). The next person picks two of those three (Indian and Japanese). The next person picks one of those two (Indian). Done!

See the whole post o' tips at http://ben.casnocha.com/2009/10/assorted-musings.html

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ketchup! We try Ketchup!

Some kids live on it, but not mine. This is a first.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

School supplies - 20 years later

I went shopping for school supplies today, this time for someone else.

I haven't made a shopping trip like this in over twenty years now, since I graduated from college. My last trip was all about divided spirals, pens and blue books, at least as far as I remember. In my earlier years, the school district published an official list - pencils, loose leaf binder paper, dividers, compass, pens and more. (why didn't anyone sell these things pre-assembled at an extra markup?) My son's school did the same, but since he will be a kindergartner soon, the collection was modest. Some pencils, paper and markers. Kleenex for the classroom, glue and erasers all helped fill our shopping basket.

Suddenly, for me the memories came flooding back. Shopping with my Mom at Eckerd's for Big Chief tablets, the lined paper tables with perforated tops and double spaced lines for us to practice our cursive. Big Mo pencils - huge green ones about as big around as one of my fingers. Paste (remember that smell?), pink erasers, Tiny Tot staplers. The atrocious compass and protractor sets, the bane of geometers everywhere.

We'll repeat this process every year I expect, and every year the requirements will grow with his capabilities. I look forward to it, though I'm momentarily focused on the past and recollections of my own schooldays.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Persistence matters

Link here. I have definitely found that the intangibles matter greatly for success. Persistence, playing well with others and more. Just wish I had more day to day grit.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Permission to push harder!

This article from the NYT talks about the brain's role in fatigue. I found it interesting because I've experienced something similar. After the SIR ride a few months ago, I found myself climbing better - and I think it is all because I found that when I pushed, my hillclimbing was better than I thought. It was as though I'd learned where my new limits were and my body now had permission to pedal harder. I thought it was all in my head, as it turns out, it is - but not in a bad way.

Things I learned from Slate. (today)

I really enjoy reading Slate, and often pick up a tip or two. Today, it was two.

1 - how to fix your passwords.

2 - I've always disliked warm soda, even after I put ice in it. Here comes the science. Scroll down to the bit about temperature and how the CO2 enters the head space in the can while warm. Also, I'm one of those who can taste the can, at least after the soda has been stored a while. For many reasons it is Mexican cane sugar coke in bottles FTW!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

STP wrap up

Overall, I had a pretty good ride. I'm not really sure what my average speed was, as I managed to reset my bike computer several times, but I think it was in the 14 mph range. Of course, I had lots of help doing this, as I spent quite a bit of time drafting other cyclists - but not too close! I tried to get on the end of packs/pacelines and let people slide in front of me if they wished, as I know that riders following my recumbent get very little benefit.

Physically I felt pretty good after the ride, but had some saddle sore type issues on Saturday. Egads, that's painful, and I really need to find a solution. I'm pretty sure it is just one pair of shorts that give me trouble, and only on long rides. I used quite a bit of chamois creme, and still had problems. My legs were sore and tired Monday/Tuesday, but only a bit tired on Wednesday - back, neck, arms and the rest all felt fine.

I was also very hungry from about Saturday lunch until Monday afternoon, though I just didn't feel I could eat enough at one sitting to make a dent in it. It is pretty common for me to feel like my stomach is the size of a shot glass when exercising, and that makes it quite a challenge to keep the calories coming, and to replenish them when done. I finally had a giant sandwich for lunch Monday that did the trick, though it took me almost an hour to polish it off.

My jersey choices were perfect. A light synthetic one for the heat on Saturday, and a wool Swobo on Sunday. The Swobo was particularly good in the cool wet conditions, and I never felt like I needed a jacket. Any temp above 60 or so, and I'm good to go even with a bit of rain.

I think I spent more time in the big ring this weekend than I have the entire time I've owned the bike. I was frequently riding over 16 mph with bursts up to 20, and I found it easiest to keep these speeds on the outer ring. This is really a big step for me, and a good indication of how much stronger I am now than I was last summer.

I was still slow up hills, but not as slow as I was. Still, it was disconcerting to pass dozens of riders, only to have them pass me right back on the next up hill. I did a bit better on Sunday, but almost everyone passed me. Road bikes, hybrids, and mountain bikes, but not recumbents.

I saw quite a few recumbents, mostly bikes similar to mine or LWB easy racer type machines. Also a few trikes, tandems, and a handcycle. Most of them were pretty slow, my guess is that the faster riders started earlier than I did and stayed way, way in front of me. I only saw one highracer, a RANS F5 ridden by someone who'd just broken his Lighting. He slowed down long enough to tell me how awesome it was, then cruised off into the distance on a climb, not to be seen until the next day.

If I'm to do the STP again, I think I need a group that's committed to training and riding together. I spent a lot of time alone, or drafting off strangers, and that's not such a great way to spend 200 miles. No matter what, I'd prefer to do the ride on another bike next year, and see how much better, if any I can do.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wine Descriptors


I really enjoy this blog. Great to check out if you are interested in food, but less interested in pretension.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things I learned on the SIR 100k

  • I need a better hydration setup for my Lightning. One water bottle cage won't cut it, as switching stuff from my bags is too time consuming while riding to a time limit. Ditto for food.
  • I need a place to put the cue sheet. Jersey pocket + recumbent = sweaty, inaccessible mess.
  • If I'm going to ride with SIR, I need to ride more hills, and/or get a better climbing bike (or just use the Salsa). I was spent after the 100k, but part of that was underhydration and lack of calories.
  • My stomach tolerated my gatorade/bread/luna bar diet quite well.
  • The Lightning is flexible, and slightly scary on bumpy downhills.
  • Need to accurately calibrate my cycle computer. Mismatch between my mileage and the cue sheet made navigation harder than it needed to be. I was off by about .3 miles a third of the way in, which made finding the turns harder than it had to be.

Well, I finished

Update - photographic evidence here (last manned control) and here (Loretta's dining al fresco). Lovely yellow helmet no?

Yesterday I rode my first rando event, the SIR "The Sound and the Fury - 100K" populaire. The course had some incredible views - Mt. Rainer, Tacoma Skyline, and lots and lots of water views. There were some killer hills, as advertised. I think I ended up walking three of them. I rode the first really steep hill in West Seattle, but it took so much out of me, that I thought I'd be better off hoofing the rest of them. Thankfully, all of the worst hills were over by about the 50k mark.

There was one other recumbent rider there, with a brand new Carbent - John (whose last name escapes me). He was new to recumbents, and his bike in particular, and I think he suffered a good bit on the hills. I saw him about 20 miles in, and he passed me, or I passed him, but either way I didn't see him again. Duncan was planning on riding the event, but life intervened and he had to miss it.

The ride started out at a pretty sedate pace in a good size pack. Everything blew apart by the first big hill. Suddenly we were many small packs, and I was toward the back, as expected. At the second hill, we fragmented even more, and I ended up in a pack of 1. Not much later, coming down Fauntleroy, I saw the biggest raccoon ever loping across the street, that thing looked a like a tiny bear.

A few minutes later, someone caught up to me and gave me a navigation/riding/suffering companion. Ryan was suffering a bit, as he'd replaced his front triple with a double after a mechanical mishap. Our paces were almost the same, and we stuck together through a quick 7-11 stop and some bio breaks.

Somewhere around mile 25 I checked the time against the cue sheet and control open/close times and realized we needed to step it up. It seemed to me Ryan was slowing a bit, and I needed to pass him, but I didn't quite have the oomph. At the manned control near Tacoma, Vincent helped us with water and snacks, then mentioned "Gentlemen,the control is closing, that means you have no time in the bank." At this point, Ryan and two other guys were chatting about who worked where at Microsoft, and I realized I needed to go. I said "point taken! I'm out of here", and none of the other riders seemed interested in departing. With that, I was off on my own for the rest of the ride.

The next few miles were quite favorable to my recumbent, and I averaged 17+ mph for quite a while and really made some time up. After turning north, up a longish climb, I had my first "maybe I could just quit now" thought, but I pushed on. I could see another rider a few hundred yards ahead of me, but couldn't close the gap uphill. At the top of the climb, we turned east with a descent (that I flew down) and some rollers, but I never saw him again.

I missed a turn not long after that as I couldn't see a street sign, and my odometer was out of sync with the cue sheet. That gave me a few bonus miles and a bit of extra climbing, though not many of either, as I realized my mistake pretty quickly.

At about mile 45, I think I started to run low on energy and had some bread and gatorade, but probably not enough. The terrain was mostly rolling the rest of the way in, and I struggled a bit on the uphills, and didn't even make particularly good time on the downhills. Nevertheless, I pulled into Loretta's with 7 minutes to spare, so I finished in time, and got my pin. I did go to the wrong door to check in, so I really could have finished a minute or so earlier without that minor mishap. I was so concerned about time at that point that I ran, pushing my bike down the sidewalk and through the parking lot to check in. I was pretty sure that would be faster than getting on the bike, riding and dismounting again.

All in all, it was a good, but tough ride. I shared a beer and burger with a few other riders, then headed home for some rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Climing getting less pathetic?

Today I managed over 10 mph up the hill on Dexter going Southbound. Not setting any records to be sure, but several mph faster than I could manage last summer. Of course, I was on the Salsa which helps a lot, but still.

Post STP, I plan to do quite a bit more hill climbing. Hopefully I can improve even more by next summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bike Diet?

This morning, when I had a few minutes to spare, I weighed each of my bikes. The Salsa Casseroll came in at 27 lbs with a Tubus rack and a pump. The Lightning Phantom was a whopping 39! That was with a rack, tail trunk and seat bag. Otherwise, both bikes have 1 waterbottle cage, computer, and fenders. (The Salsa also has a bell)

I think I may need to cut back somewhat on the amount of stuff I carry when I ride. I've been doing hillier rides recently, and I can really feel the extra heft of the recumbent. I'll probably start with removing the rear rack and tail pack, and see where that gets me.

I hope this doesn't mean I'm in for a case of Titaniumitis, or even worse - Carbon Fiber Flu.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

70 miles 70!

Saturday I took the Lightning out the Burke Gilman, to the Sammamish River Trail, then east into some hills near Redmond. I averaged a paltry 13.6 mph, but really spend most of my time over 14. The hills just killed my average speed. Although I think I'm a bit faster uphill now than I was earlier this spring, going from 3.5 mph to 5 isn't enough improvement.

Overall I felt great on the ride, except for my lower back. It was a bit tired and sore on the last two long rides I did (56 and 70 mi), but felt fine after getting off the bike for a few minutes and resting. I'm trying to do more ab and back exercises during the week to help with that, and I'm pretty confident I can make some improvement over the next five weeks.

I doubt I can improve my climbing much in that time period though, especially with my limited training schedule. Since the STP route is pretty flat, I'm not too concerned about it. I mostly want to get better on climbs so that I can enjoy more riding in this area and keep up with any groups I join. Once the STP is over, I think I'll start riding shorter, but more difficult routes in pursuit of this goal.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Salsa Casseroll again

I took the Salsa out for a quick ride south of downtown Seattle and back last night, and just loved it. I really enjoy my Lightning for longer rides and comfort, but the Casseroll has a sprightly feel that is completely lacking on my recumbent. (It is also 10 lbs or so lighter)

I ended up riding several hundred yards on a dirt/gravel path to get around a detour and the relatively fat tires ate it right up. Ditto for the many RR crossing and potholes I encountered in SoDo. I returned home up 4th to Dexter, then up the east side of QA. I'm far faster on moderate slopes than I was last summer, but still find myself looking for one more gear on the steep stuff. Honestly, I think my gearing is low enough, I just need to ride more hills.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nice weekend for a ride

After 6 weeks off the bike with a medical issue (think "plumbing"), I did about 54 miles this weekend on Saturday, a round trip out the Burke Gilman to the Sammamish River Trail and on to Marymoor.

Part way out I got mixed up in a Cascade ride that was supposed to keep 16 - 18 mph pace. In reality, we had several bursts up to 20, but good communication. The ride leader invited me along, but I politely declined. Their plan was to do 80 miles at that pace, and I'm pretty sure I'd have dropped off the back within an hour. Still I did manage to stay with them for a few miles, so that was encouraging.

Overall I averaged about 14 mph, and felt pretty good on Sunday. Monday I did 15 miles with a bit of climbing and felt fine. I think I'll finish the STP, but I won't be nearly as strong as I hoped. Nevertheless, I'll keep training as much as I can.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wet Loop of Washington

This past Saturday, Duncan and I lapped Lake Washington again. Though the company was pleasant, the weather was not. It rained, and rained, and rained, pretty much the entire time we were out. On top of that it was pretty chilly. At one point we stopped for a snack, then froze when we remounted. I only warmed back up after we sprinted up the west side of the airport and got our cores up to operating temperature again.

I rode the Phantom this week, as I had no mishaps on the way to Gasworks Park. I felt a bit slower uphill, but stronger overall, and far more comfortable. Last week my legs started hurting at about mile 20, this week they didn't really hurt at all. I felt fine on Sunday, and took the Salsa on a quick 15 mile ride around Magnolia and then back up Queen Anne. I also averaged over 14 mph, including climbs, for the first time in Seattle.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lake Washington Inaugural

I did my first lap of Lake Washington this past weekend with Duncan, and overall it was a great ride. Just over 50 miles with more climbing than we'll see on the STP. I finished the ride feeling better on my Salsa than I ever have on an upright before. I'm really, really excited about that. My legs were a bit more fatigued than expected, both during and after the ride, but nothing to do about that except train harder.

But before the ride started things weren't so rosy. My recumbent flew off the roof rack, not once but twice, and got a bit mangled in the process. Now I'll have to take it into the shop for some hopefully minor repairs. Then I had to head back home and get the Salsa, put it back on the car and head back to Gasworks Park to start the ride. Somewhere during that process, I forgot to bring my carefully packed tailpack, so I ended up leaving without many of my supplies (mostly extra clothes) I'd packed the night before. Since I didn't end up needing any of them, I guess I was a bit overpacked.

In any case, I started about 40 minutes late, then pushed it hard to get to the Eastside at a reasonable time. Juanita hill turned out to be less fearsome than I expected - I wasn't fast on it, but it didn't feel too bad either. One nice side effect of riding up Queen Anne frequently is that most other hills just don't worry me much now.

Duncan was kind enough to lead the rest of the way, which went pretty well, though I was a bit spent from getting to his side of town as quickly as I could. Still, it was a really nice ride overall, with some killer views to boot. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Saw this cool article yesterday. I wonder how much I've been contributing to the effort?

Iphone tips

Did you know you can look up people's email addresses, if you use your iphone with Exchange?

If emailing, press the plus to add names, then the groups button, to the left. now choose Directories. It probably says you@xyz.com. In the search box, put in a few letters of the address or name you are looking for, then hit search and there you go!

Also, to put a period after a sentence when typing, just hit space twice, and you'll get a period and two spaces without going to the punctuation screen. Neat.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Saturday Recumbent Riding

This past Saturday Duncan (and his brain)and I took our recumbents on a bit of a tour of Seattle's bike paths. What was planned as a leisurely out and back on the Burke Gilman turned into something else.

Only a few minutes into our ride, my wife called to inform me I'd locked her out of the garage and that she had to call a friend to pick her and my son up for an am birthday party. (In one of my brainier moves, I'd given a mechanic ALL her keys, not just the car keys.) There was some discussion of how they would get back from the party, but Duncan graciously agreed to ride back to my place and then help me ferry the car over to the birthday party (in Magnolia) before we continued our ride.

So we turned our trusty steeds westward and slogged up QA hill, only to discover that his bike wouldn't fit on my roof rack. That led to Duncan riding over to Magnolia solo, and waiting for me as I dropped off my car, unloaded my bike and headed back to our arranged meeting spot.

Finally, we could ride in earnest. We did a lap of Magnolia, then went down the path through Myrtle Edwards park toward downtown. Back uphill through downtown to the Dexter bike path, then parted ways as I headed up the hill and he down.

Overall it was a nice ride, with about 2,000 feet of climbing and 25 ish miles overall.

p.s. I got 2 extra copies of the garage key made yesterday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random thoughts

Why is there no garment like a sweater for your legs?

Monday, February 02, 2009

January Recap

Well, January was a pretty low mileage month. My guess is that I rode no more than 50 miles total, with 20 of that on Saturday. I commuted in a few times, and spent time test riding bikes to make up the rest of that. My goal is to follow the 2 day STP plan posted on the Cascade site, and I'm pretty sure that is doable, but I'll need to get a bit more focussed.

On the plus side, I did buy the Salsa Casseroll, which has been a very nice ride so far. I also took the rack off my Trek and transplanted it while I wait for the Tubus I ordered. The stem might need replacing, and my cleats adjusting, but otherwise the fit seems pretty good. Only time will tell.

If all goes according to plan, I'll ride around 150 miles in February.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Up (and up) Queen Anne

Yesterday I climbed the hill two times on my new Casseroll, once up the Olympic to 10th route, then up 3rd from SPU. That was the first time I'd ever climbed it twice in one day, though I was pretty sure that I could.

The first time was on the way home from work, and went pretty well. I rode downtown, then up the hill. I found myself pushing harder than normal, as the bike just feels like I should be racing around. I never really found myself wishing for a lower gear, but I spend plenty of time in my lowest.

After I got home, I decided to run a quick errand at SPU, so I hopped back on the bike. Descending was a bit scary - I don't feel like I have the control on braking power on the Salsa that I do on my other two bikes, but that may change as I get used to it. The climb back up was uneventful, but quick, though I got passed by someone doing repeats. I couldn't help but think I'd like to carry that kind of speed uphill, but that's why we train. My guess is I was 10 - 15% percent faster up the hill than normal, but I'd need to time it to be sure.

I'm still not totally comfortable on the bike, especially descending. I also need to learn what cogs/ring combinations work best for me and in what order, but no way to do that without riding! Hopefully I'll get some decent miles in this weekend.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Return of the wedgies!

A long time ago, in a city far far away....

I rode a "normal" bicycle, or really a few of them. A Free Spirit 10 speed (what happened to that thing?), followed by a Schwinn Varsity Deluxe (purchased in HS, stolen in college), replaced by a Trek 360 (ran the frame into a carport years later on a roof rack), then a Paramount frame that I gave away to someone for cutting my yard in about 2002. At some time around 1999, I just couldn't ride the things any more, due to significant discomfort, and finally threw in the towel. In 2001, I bought a Lightning recumbent and never looked back. Not that I could, due to the seating position, but still.

About 3 years ago, I picked up a Trek 7300 Hybrid to use around LA (stolen from the garage) then an identical replacement not much later. It saw dual duty as a kid hauler/commuter in workmanlike fashion. A few years of riding it around town made me wonder if I should reconsider whether I could be comfortable on an upright bicycle again.

After loads of internet research, and countless hours in bike shops, I decided that given the proper fit, I could probably make it work. My first step was to narrow the choices of LBS's down to those that focused on fit first. My early candidate list was Aaron's Bicycle Repair, R + E Cycles, and Montlake. Montlake turned out to only pay lip service to fitting, i.e. "yeah, you could do that if you want", and Aaron's was just too far/odd for me to deal with. R + E has some great stuff and nice folks, but the entry level price point was just too high for me. I wasn't sure this would work out (still not), and I wanted something not TOO expensive that would hold its resale value.

A stroke of (bad) luck led me to Counterbalance Cycles on the Burke Gilman. One day while out on the recumbent, I flatted out and stopped for air and a tube, and casual discussion with a mechanic lead to an off hand comment about their "fit guy". One thing led to another, and I started spending a bit of time there. Eventually I spent several afternoons trying various things out, but finally focussing on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and a Salsa Casseroll.

So yesterday, I picked up a Casseroll. Why add to my existing fleet? Well, I wanted something lighter, faster feeling, and better fit to me than my hybrid, while having better situational awareness than my recumbent. Also, my recumbent has a high crank position that can make urban cycling awkward.

I'm pretty excited about this bike, and I can't believe it is snowing outside (but birds are chirping!) after 2 weeks of pretty good weather. Hopefully things will clear up a bit later so I can really get out there and try it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Year End Wrap Up

Looks like I ended up with 314 on the odometer for the Lightning, and around 90 and the Trek, for a total of 25 miles in December, or less than a single good ride in November. If it hadn't been for the snowpocalypse, I'm sure the totals would have been higher, but there was the holiday travel and whatnot. January hasn't started well, I think I've ridden about 10 miles total, so I'd better get cracking.

Overall I'm pleased with the year though, as I barely rode at all in the previous 4. This year I intend to ride the STP, and that means training miles. Hopefully I'll do close to 4,000 this year, but we'll see. My fitness level is much better than when I arrived in Seattle, and so is my hillclimbing. Just getting back on the bike has been a victory of sorts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My first major Lego assembly as a dad

3 hours, 445 parts. The worst part was threading the string through the little holes though.

I'm sure there will be many more Christmas related assembly projects in my future.