Jun 27, 2008

It's All Over But the Shouting

Today and only today we had a garage sale. Not much sold and we did not get much traffic. We think it is due to the sketchy weather and a general decrease in consumer confidence. We did manage to move some crap out of the house but are left with a folding ladder, a tall, table and my duck blind (surprisingly, no one wants a portable duck blind in late June).

I also placed my Wound-Up carbon fiber fork with a kid name Max who wrenches at Eric's and sold a food dehydrator to his friend. One or two Bike Lovers stopped by as well, which was nice.

Here are Molly and her buddy Helen de-mobilizing the garage sale. They did almost all of the work; I was the cheerleader and ran the hot lunch program. My security services were not required, but I was prepared just in case.

On a more annoying note, my Pugsley peed hydraulic fluid all over my garage. I think this probably happened because I looked it a little too hard or something. That bike is a little bit of a money pit; it is by far the most trouble per mile of any of my rides, but hopefully this is the final issue and it will be trouble free from here on out. Here is the evidence of the release for your viewing pleasure:

Thanks to my Sun Dance at about 10:00 this morning, it's now sunny, HOT and brutally STEAMY. That's the last time I do something like that without professional supervision. Hopefully we will get a rain shower to blow this out of here later today.

That's the news from the big sale. Ride safe and have a great weekend.

Jun 25, 2008

Expend the Effort

I have been on the prowl for a small, older Trek road bike or frame to move my fixed gear wheels and other bits over to and dump the Schwinn World. So I have been watching Craig's List, trolling for an upgrade.

I think I have probably lost out on a nice robins-egg blue bike in New Richmond, WI, but undaunted, I peeked again tonight, finding this gem:

"This is an old Schwinn Sprint. I acquired this bike about 2 years ago I've done lots of tune ups to it. It rides great as is I rode it to work a few times (8 miles one way). I've since bought a Mountian Bike and no longer need it. $85.00 O.B.O."

So. I look at this thing, to see if it could possibly, remotely, maybe meet my "needs" and I have to ask myself what the fuck does this photo tell me?

  • It has two wheels
  • It has reflectors on those wheels, too.
  • It's probably a 50 - 53 cm frame (good news for runty little me)
  • It probably has not been ridden in about 15 years
  • The guy posting this is too lazy to take the bike down from the rafters for the photo shoot
  • The guy has probably not ridden his mountain bike to work much since he bought it
  • There is another bike behind this one that might be more interesting
  • This guy is not really interested in selling this bike
  • There is a gasoline can that might have leaked a reportable spill to the left of the bike
People - if you are going to post something on CL, at least put up a decent picture. We might not want to buy the bike, but we all like to look at bikes. Good photos sell bikes. Check this out:

This was posted on either CL or EBay (I forget which). It was a refinished Masi. A nice bike, but not something I NEED. However, the way the photo was set up, I HAVE TO HAVE THIS BIKE. It doesn't even fit me, but that does not matter. I HAVE TO HAVE THIS BIKE. This photo creates demand (recall econ 101?). The CL photo above does NOT.

Bikesmith posted a most excellent "how-to" piece on shooting bike porn. If you are thinking about posting a photo of you bike on CL or someplace else read this!

Like everything today, it's about presentation over substance and raising expectations to an unrealistic level. Come on, you Craig's Listers!! This kind of photo is an embarrassment to all of you. Expend the effort and post some good bike porn for a change!

Jun 22, 2008


Here is a quick post on renewables to follow up on my gasoline post because I got a comment or two of that. The EIA's latest report on renewables can be found here but the image pretty much tells the story of where we are today. I will do some more on this later, but the upshot is that currently, 7% of our energy comes from "renewable" sources compared to 85% fossil fuels. Nuclear makes up 6%, but I bet it will increase to over 10% within 5 years or so.

I'll do some more on this later, but I've got to run...

If you are interested, check out the new link added for the Energy Information Administration.

Jun 21, 2008

A Shameless Plug for Bikes Belong

Bikes Belong has recently re-issued their booklet "Bicycling - Moving America Forward". The update expands on safe routes to schools, "complete streets" (a sore spot with me at the moment), bikes for basic transportation, and bike sharing (IMHO a nice idea that will ultimately be foiled by human nature - I must be getting conservative).

Per their site, Bikes Belong works to put more people on bicycles more often. From helping create safe places to ride to promoting bicycling, they carefully select projects and partnerships that have the capacity to make a difference.

They concentrate our efforts in four areas:

  • Federal Policy and Funding
  • National Partnerships
  • Community Grants
  • Promoting Bicycling
You can sign on to their mailing list here or watch the RLS feed in the right-hand column for updates if you are so inclined. If you have now drank the kool-aid, you can support them here. One thing I like about Bikes Belong is that they are not simply bike-zealots (not that there is anything wrong with that). They are generally pro-business and see the economic benefits of the bicycle industry, as well as bike tourism, and work that into their messaging as well.

That's it. Be safe and have fun!

Jun 20, 2008

Search Me

I just realized that Blogger now has a search function in the upper left corner of the screen. I never noticed that before, but it's handy. I get a lot of hits for the gear inch calculator and more than I would have thought for the Pugsley photos and links. If you came looking for that, or anything else specifically, use the search button. It's pretty good - it found the only reference to Iggy Pop on this site in less than a second.

Jun 19, 2008

A Big Day

It was a big day all-around. I got up early for a charter flight to Tok, AK for an event marking the opening of the Denali Pipeline Field Office. The event was very well attended; 500 lunches were served to residents and visiting officials and there was much excitement about the project. Most of the major media outlets in Anchorage covered the event and I and several others were interviewed by KTUU, KSKA and the Anchorage Daily News. I also got a chance to meet folks from the Native Villages of Tanacross and Tetlin and answer questions from the public about the project. It was a very productive trip and a lot of fun as well.

If you look carefully, you can clearly see me (or at least a small part of the back of my head) standing below the third group of balloons (Snak Shak trivia - I am the same height as Tom Cruise, although Tom fibs a bit and says he is 5'7".).

On a side note, gas prices are significantly affecting tourism in Alaska - for those that don't know it, Tok is one of the most popular rest stops on the Alaska Highway. In summer it is typically overrun with RV's coming up the highway looking for a place to stop and refuel and refresh. RV traffic is noticably decreased in Alaska this summer due to the high cost of gasoline. The good news is that the Denali field crews are occupying hotel rooms so the local establishments are not suffering as much as would be expected due to the light traffic.

Here is a link to a whiny article from the Fairbanks News-Miner about the event. I continue to hate the media; how can filling empty hotel rooms during the make-or-break tourist season "probably be helping the economy"?? Answer: Because they don't like the story. Best quote: "Whatever the reason, Denali is starting strong, with crews considering soils, water, wetlands, wildlife habitat and archaeological resources along the proposed route." Hurray for good field study planning!

Closer to home, Molly and her buddy Hellen did a Big Ride today. They were animals - they hit the trail in friendly South MPLS and then set sail for points west, pausing to refresh themselves at The Depot before returning to home base via the senic lake route. They cranked out a respectable 25 miles and probably looked good doing it, too.

Tomorrow: flight home to MPLS and then two weeks off for R&R. Looking forward to some time to ride my bike and build up my wheels (more on that when I finish them).

Jun 16, 2008

North Slope Gas, Gasoline and What You Can Do (or Not)

Safe arrival in Anchorage today about noon. Lots cooking with north slope gas at the moment. Between this news, the 2008 field season and 2009 planning, there is plenty to do up here. Meetings in town Tuesday and Wednesday, then on Thursday I will likely be in Tok, Alaska for the grand opening of the field office, which will be an interesting (and potentially historic) event that I am looking forward to as well.

Summer is slowing coming to Anchorage. Summer up here is fantastic; the weather is great (mostly 7o's and sunny and only 10 inches of rain per year). Day light is a trip - sunrise is something like 4:30 AM and sunset is probably about 11:30 PM or so at this point. It's an unbelievable opportunity to work up here and worth anyone's time to travel to Alaska for a visit.
Now the sobering news:

Last month, the U.S. decreased oil consumption by 3%. It did not make a difference. I paid $4.45 per gallon to fill up the rental car in Seattle yesterday. Why? The United States is no longer the demand leader for oil - that title now goes to China and India. So, despite changing use patterns, prices continued to rise.

While I am generally a believer in technology and not a doom-sayer, but we cannot control oil prices by changing behaviour in the U.S. anymore. It astonishes me how little the general population understands crude oil and the relationship to gasoline prices. I sat with a woman on the plane today who wanted to know how the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline would affect "gas" prices. I told her it would not affect gas prices, and that in my opinion, we would not likely see gasoline below $3.80 ever. It was clear from the discussion that she viewed cheap gasoline as an entitlement and felt the government owed her cheap gas. She must have missed Econ 101. Here is a good backgrounder for those that want more information.

That's it. Take care and ride your bike or take public transit if you can.

Jun 15, 2008


Molly and I spent the weekend in Seattle; I had an all-day meeting on Friday out here for Alaska Gas planning and she got frequent flyer ticket to tag along. We had a big trip. Yesterday was a trip up the coast to Bellingham. Today was spent in Seattle, with a trip to the top of the Space Needle, a ride on the monorail and trolley, visit to Pike's Market and all other touristy stuff one does here. The weather was fabulous but the camera is out juice, so trouble with photos, I fear. Tomorrow is an early flight to Anchorage for me and a ride home for Molly.

The photo that at right is of the Space Needle. I copped this from a Flickr site because the batteries were dead in my camera, but it was a beautiful day and it really looked just like this. I promise!!

Jun 11, 2008

Blog Roulette

I was a winner on Blog roulette* this evening!! Motown nuns, slutty cheerleaders, and no explanation at all that I could understand. Tonight the Next Blog portal took me to

XV Przegląd Twórczości Artystycznej Dzieci i Młodzieży Rejonu Augustowskiego

Blog roulette can be like a binary trip through the looking glass, but stranger. Whatever this event was, it actually looks kind of fun.

Now, on to the news.

Gasoline is now over $4.00 in Minneapolis and I am noticing more bike commuters on the roads. At a work event a few weeks ago, one of our younger employees asked me about biking to work. She told me that she wanted to try it and would aim to ride in to the office at least once a week. She lives near me, and I offered to accompany her at some point to help her learn the route, find out where to park, and generally get over over the first-time jitters. She took me up on the offer this week, and we rode in today.

The ride in was great - we had to leave early so we had little traffic and it was overcast but dry. The ride was easy and we went slow, so it was no problem for her and I think she enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it began raining and kept it up all day, but she was trooper and up for the ride home. It was warm, so it was not bad, but I was proud of her for not wimping out. We made it safe and sound and I think I showed her the ropes a little, so I feel like I did a good deed.

I posted something about this on MBL and I am honored that it got "stickied" (I am now immortal). This idea has been tried before and it never has worked because there are more volunteers than newbies, but as Jim points out, maybe $4 gas will be the motivation needed to get more people on bikes.

If I had been thinking, I would have brought my camera, but it turns out that I don't think much early in the morning, so you have to make do with the nun photo for this post.

That's it. Be safe, have fun.

* Blog roulette: click the "NEXT BLOG" link at the top of this page and see where Blogger flings you. It's not random, but not predictable, either. Usually it's a new blog, and often it's foreign.

Jun 10, 2008

DO u LIKE THIs..................?

A truly disturbing blog for an Asian restaurant of some sort or a fan of troubling food. I need to find out where this is so I don't accidentally go there at some point.

U-look for yourself and see if you agree.

Here are some glowing albino shrimp things for your viewing pleasure courtesy of U-Look:

Jun 8, 2008


It seems like the need to be connected through technology began in earnest in the late 1980's with the fax machine and cell phone. We had one fax at the company I was working for and it was at headquarters; getting a fax was a big deal and reserved for only very urgent and important business. Cell phones were brick-sized status symbols for people that were so important they had to be available all the time. That was followed closely by the advent of email, which has largely replaced the fax, and virtually everyone over 12 years old now owns a cell phone. Most recently, hyperconnectivity has been cemented in place by the advent of instant messages and text messaging.

Increasingly, people seem to be more interested in being connected to others at all times and locations. One of the latest developments that just has me shaking my head is Twitter. I have seen several folks on internet forums lately urging us to all "Follow me on Twitter!".

Twitter is pitched as "a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

Why in the hell would anyone subject themselves to potentially relentless inquiries on what they are doing at any given moment? It's hard enough to sit down and focus on a task already. Twitter maintains that these kinds of updates are meaningful to family, friends and colleagues, especially when they are timely... (note the guilt trip if you don't disengage from whoever you are currently with or whatever you are currently doing in order to respond?).

At work, I probably receive somewhere between 70 and 100 emails on an average day. I get copied on a lot of stuff and don't necessarily have to do much about those messages other then absorb them and know that things are going on so I can coordinate the whole mess, but still it's a lot to keep up with. On top of that, I have home email, get private messages occasionally on a few boards, and my cell phone is on all the time. That's plenty connected for me.

I used to have a client and good friend in Anchorage that would call me up to touch base or give me some work direction, and he would often start the conversation with the Twitter Question (Hey - what are you doing?). I would laugh and tell him that I was saving his bacon, translating ancient Chinese poetry, working for his competitors on a sure-fire plot that would inevitably lead to world domination, or some other goofy answer
. We would laugh about it, chat about whatever insanity was going on in the city or corporate America, and then get down to business. That kind of reparte takes a little social acumen compared to texting, but it's warm and personal, and I think it's good for mental health, too.

I don't see a Twitter link happening on this site anytime soon. I also think there is a lot to be said for not being available for comment at times. All that said, I promise not to moralize about the continued rending of our social fabric as technology becomes a surrogate for random human interaction and a catalyst for fracturing our social networks into homogenous special interest groups like Twin Cities bicycle riders, heavy metal fans, you "friends" on Facebook, born-again Christians, etc., etc., facilitating disengagement from our local communities and erosion of tolerance for diverse cultures and opinions.

That's it. Be here now, everyone.

And go have coffee with the next person that sends you a text message.

Jun 3, 2008

Baseball Time

I was lucky enough to get myself invited to a Twin's game tonight with some colleagues from another company that we have worked with on and off for several years. The seats were in the very first row right next to the Twin's bull pen in left field. It was not real close to home plate, but it was fun to watch the bull pen guys hang out and scramble when the phone rang for a relief pitcher.

I dangled my crummy cell phone camera around the little shelter thing that the pitchers sat under and shot this:

I am told that one of them is Neshak who is really good but out for the season and the others are people whose name I have heard before but can't recall.

Here's my other photo. I am proud of this because it's an "action shot" (I admit you can't see shit in this photo, but I choose to think that makes it edgy). I think that is Joe Nathan, but with the quality of that photo, it could be anybody, I suppose.

Jun 2, 2008

MPLS Bicycle Master Plan Open House

I received the following announcement from the City of Minneapolis today in my email:

Bicycling Update Subscribers,

The City of Minneapolis is hosting an open house to solicit public input for a new Bicycle Master Plan. Unlike the last bicycle plan (which was approved in 2001), the 2008 plan will include goals, policies, and design guidance in addition to a map of future facilities. The plan will focus on the 6 E’s required to make a city bicycle friendly: Education, Enforcement, Engineering, Encouragement, Evaluation, and Equity. The plan will also include a prioritized list of projects and initiatives.

Bicycle Master Plan Public Open House:

Wednesday June 18, 2008

4:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Room 319 City Hall

Public ideas and suggestions will be solicited at this event. A brief presentation will be given at 5PM, 6PM, and 7PM. Members of the City of Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee will be present to answer questions.

If you have any questions please contact:

Donald Pflaum, P.E., P.T.O.E.

Transportation Planner

309 2nd Avenue South – Room 300

Minneapolis, MN 55401-2268



Happy Riding,

City of Minneapolis Bicycle Program


I have not seen the Master Plan - I suspect it is not yet drafted and this open house is one of the early stakeholder consultations that will help to inform the plan. A copy of the outline is available on-line and I am encouraged that it recognizes that education will be a component of the Master Plan. According to the outline, they are also only two months off schedule, which is not bad. I plan to go to the open house and give them my $0.02 and see what this is all about. If you ride a bike in MPLS, I would encourage you to do the same.

FYI, you can sign up to receive your own email notices from the City on bicycle and other issues right here.

Jun 1, 2008

Warm and Sunny

After pea-sized hail last night at dinner time, we finally got a nice day in MPLS. Here is a paparazzi candid of Little Cat trying to catch some Z's in her secret spot in the cedars in our backyard retaining wall.

Meet BOB

Finally got photos of the Bob trailer and realized the cable for the camera was at my office, so we rode to breakfast and then downtown this morning to see the I-35W bridge construction progress and pick up the cable (interestingly, if you click the link you will see that Google Maps has finally realized that the I-35W bridge ceased to exist last August). With that done, I can post a few pics...

The Bob trailer is an interesting combination of ancient mechanical technologies. It is essentially a travois with a wheel added to it (a slamming good idea - makes you wonder what the Travoismiths were thinking). Toss in a quick release skewer and you've got a BOB.

This is the BOB mounted on my Cross Check. The Cross Check is also sporting the new Conti Contacts, which make it look extra snarky.

As you can see from the rear shot, the BOB is quite narrow and only has one wheel, so it tracks very well and does not need much space compared to a Burley or other kid-hauler (they actually market these to mountain bikers because it can handle single-track trails with no problem). You also get a nice view of my recycling bins and trash can here as well.

A closer look at the trailer:

Another view:

There are couple more photos in the Flickr link in the right column. I've used this a few times and I am really pleased with how well it handles and how easy it is to get on and off the bike. I fit a bunch of groceries in it today with plenty of room to spare, but loaded and attached to the bike, it is a little awkard. Once rolling it's not much of a problem at all. It's also got a large yellow dry bag to protect groceries/gear but I left that out for the photo shoot.

[EDIT] - I hosted the photos in this post from the Flickr site, more as an experiment than anything. I am just not happy with the quality of these - they seem grainy and bad. The images on Fickr are better, so if you really care about this or want more detail on photos, go to this link.