Oct 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Two things that I find truly horrifying combined into one Halloween terror - stories of stolen bikes and videos of somebody's cute kid talking.

The horror....

We will have employee's kids trick-or-treating in the office today (never mind that I have a client meeting at 10:00) and we have been invited to a bonfire "kegger" in my neighbors front yard tonight (yee-hah!) so that will mix it up a bit for us.

Nice to back from ANC and in the Twin Towns again.

Oct 28, 2008

The Katmai

Tonight at dinner, a couple was sitting at the table next to me were getting caught up on each other's day. The woman had done some sight-seeing and shopping in Anchorage; her husband (or partner) had been participating in U.S. Coast Guard hearings at the Anchorage Hilton on the October 22, 2008 sinking of the 93-foot Katmai off the coast of Alaska last week.

ADN covered the first day of the hearings here. It is quite a story, and because it happened while I was in Anchorage, it was a Big News event, but tonight it got even more intense for me.

According to the guy at the next table, the testimony from the hearing was pretty straightforward but sobering; the weather was horrible - 80 knot winds and high waves. It sounds like Katmai developed a starboard list and could not correct it. Normally, taking on a little water is not a problem, but for whatever reason, they could not keep up with it. Katmai developed an increasing starboard list, and at one point they turned to port, hit a wave trough and augered-in, rolling the boat. Apparently the source of the leak could not be determined - the boat should have been battened down because it was full and heading to Dutch Harbor to unload, so hatches should have been closed and it should have been tight.

The hearings into this accident will likely go on for a few more days, and I suspect at some point some additional recommendations will be made on operating fishing boats off the coast of Alaska, but tonight it became more than a story on the second page of the newspaper for me.

Oct 27, 2008

Those Alaskans...

... and their Pugsleys.
The Anchorage Daily News ran an interesting article in the Sunday sports section about two guys from Anchorage who rode their Pugsleys and pack-rafted from Yakutat to Cordova. All told, this was about a 300 mile journey. The full write up and a few photos are available on the ADN site here.
One of the adventurers, Eric Parsons, probably wins the prize for most expensive component ever installed on a Pugsley. His chain ring bolts loosened and he accidentally ripped his chain ring apart, and his bike was paws-up without a replacement. No problem for Eric, however: he put a call (on a satellite phone) to Speedway Cycles in Anchorage and ordered a replacement chain ring, had it shipped to Yakutat, and then arranged for a bush plane to drop the parts off on the beach they were camping out on. I don't even want to know what that repair cost (without shop labor, no less).
More details can be found on their blog, which can be at viewed here (warning - if you click the link, you need to understand that "bomber" is Anchoragese for "really quite good"). It's worth going to the blog - they posted more photos of the ride and have other insights that ADN did not pick up, like gear reviews. Apparently they ran their Pugs as fixed gears, that's why the chain ring had to be replaced (no other chain ring to ride on). That's pretty hard core.
That's it. I am out of here on the Red Tail at 9:45 tomorrow morning, so with any luck I should be back in MPLS by dinner time.

Oct 25, 2008

Anchorage Mural and Chugach Mountains

Here is the view from the elevator lobby of our office in Anchorage. The mural of whales is by the famous artist who's name I forget and the mountains in the background are the Chugach range, immediately east of Anchorage.

Oct 24, 2008

Fatbacks at Speedway Cycles in ANC

Today after work I stopped in at Speedway Cycles in the heart of the colorful Spenard section of Anchorage. Speedway is the home of the Fatback bicycle. For those that do not know these machines, they are the Rolls Royce version of a Pugsley. Titanium frames, high end components, etc. Speedway was started about a year ago by the inventor/creator of the Fatback.

According to the website, a Fatback can be built out to about 23 pounds(!). They are not cheap - the price tag on the one I fondled was $3,999, but they are very nicely finished titanium dream machines.

Anchorage is much better off with Speedway in town. There was no LBS selling high end bikes off the floor in Anchorage prior to this. Yes, The Bicycle Shop had some high end Specialized and Trek's, and That Other Shop carried Giants, but Speedway has a few Moots, Parlee's and lots of Kona's on the floor and ready to go.

There is also some old (like 1980's) racing gear on display in the shop as well - I suspect the owner might have ridden the Coor's Classic and other U.S. circuits in the early '80's but I did not get a chance to talk to him.

So, with that, I leave you with a sunset over seedy and storied Spenard. Check the link for Speedway and stop in the shop if you get a chance. It's well worth the time.

Oct 22, 2008

Hello, I am Cheney Wolfhound Palin!

I shamlessly stole this link from Brother Yam's blog. You enter your name and it rebrands you as a Palin.... according to the interweb, if Sarah Palin were my mother, I would be named:

Cheney Wolfhound Palin

If that were the case, I would probably also not be posting this because I would have hung myself from a highway overpass (in broad daylight) long, long ago.

Be that as it may, thanks, Brother Yam, for posting the link - it cracked me up. Try it yourself and see what could have been...

Here's a photo from the last frontier to satisfy those of you that were searching for "Palin" and sadly blundered into this post.

Oct 21, 2008

I Can Spot a Waterford from 4,000 Miles Away

The conventional wisdom among my married friends is that the wife needs to essentially train the husband in order for things to work out in the long run.

Happily for me, some of my training has rubbed off on the wife, however.

Today, I was unexpectedly treated to photos of a Waterford she saw while in Maine last week. It's a fine, fine woman that keeps an eye peeled for a sweet bike, and then takes the time snap a picture, and email them over to me.

This is almost the color of purple I wanted to get my Waterford 1200 painted last winter; I was going for that rich purple 3Rensho used to paint some of their road bikes, but I locked in on a sweet metallic orange instead. No regrets, but it's nice to see what that purple looks like again.

Enjoy the bike porn!

Oct 19, 2008

Old Photos

Looking through old photos tonight, I came across this gem. Thank God I have avoided the male pattern baldness that stalks my family.

Oct 18, 2008

The End of the World

An animation piece that I like to watch now and then. There are naughty words, so NSFW, but funny nonetheless.

Speaking of the end of the world, many are getting pretty nervous about the economy and what's going to happen. I don't know what to think about it all, but the credit crunch is a worrisome thing and I am afraid we could be dragging an anchor for awhile.

I have been dragging an anchor myself the last couple of weeks. I think I am sampling the results of my steady diet of 1/3 stress, 1/3 anxiety and 1/3 routine.

The good news is I was able to do something about that and got on the Cross Check for a toodle around the sunny south side of MPLS. Stopped at the LBS for a little pick-me-up swag, ran some other errands to the grocery store and wine shop and generally took the long way. It was beautiful out - late fall breezy with plenty of sun.

And in case anyone is wondering, no I did NOT lose my cell phone today.

That's it. Now turn off the computer and go outside!


Molly is in Maine visiting her sister so I took advantage of the unsupervised nature of my life to get inked:

Get your own knuckles at the knuckle tattoo gun.

No, Mom - I am kidding.

Oct 15, 2008

North To Alaska!

On Sunday I return once again to Alaska to fight the good fight for energy security. To help get me psyched up for the trip, I am posting a photo of autumn in AK and a terrible video of "North to Alaska" (by the legendary Johnny Horton).

The cat and I are currently watching the last Presidential debate (thank God). It turns out my cat is a totalitarian. That explains a lot of the tension in our relationship, since I am more of a libertarian. She tends to be very demanding and wants things her way, and she has a great need for control and regulation in our lives. I, on the other hand, tend to take a more lassiez-faire approach to our relationship.

I think that was a little break-through.

Enjoy the lousy video!!

Oct 14, 2008


I finally got around to exploring Cyclopath tonight after work.  I first came across this on MBL but at the time I was swamped and did not want to take on another side project, but I came across it again tonight looking at another site developed by a contributor to Cyclopath.  

For those that do not know about this, here is a bit of background copped from the Cyclopath and MBL sites:

Cyclopath is  "geowiki" aimed at Twin Cities bicyclists. It is essentially an interactive map that you can enter information into and save for others to see it. You can also view information that others have added. The wiki will grow as people update/add to the data pile and eventually we should arrive at a good summary of the tribal knowledge of the users.  Cyclopath is currently in beta testing mode, but many riders are already using it.

I got on it tonight and fooled around with it. I added some points of interest near our house and rated my typical commute from home to work on the map.  The interface was easy to use and quite intuitive, and I will be curious to see how this develops.

I am going to add a link to Cyclopath to the "links" section of this page and plan to update it as I ride routes and watch it as it gets populated. Garbage in, garbage out, so if you have good knowledge of the local streets, I would encourage you to share it on the site.  The tool is very good, but for me the real test will be whether enough riders use this to make it comprehensive and whether it is useful for "reconning" routes that you have never ridden before.

That's it! Ride safe and stuff.

Oct 13, 2008

Richardson Nature Center

Molly and I headed out to Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington on Sunday to commune with Nature.  The birds were far and few between, and nothing to write home about, but the fall scenery was good and we found an excellent wasp nest conveniently located right in the parking lot.  

Years ago, I think I must have accidentally hooked a big wasp nest like this with the bike on the roof of my car.  A friend and I were driving down a fire road in Wisconsin with both of our bikes on the roof and did not see the wasp nest hanging over the road, but as we slowly negotiated the turn into the little parking lot where we were planning to leave the car, we noticed a lot of bugs flying around.  Being young and stupid, we did not think much of it and parked. When we opened the car door, we quickly figured out that something was seriously wrong and quickly got back in the car.  It was only then that I saw the nest laying on the ground at the parking lot entrance in my rear view mirror.  We ended up closing all the vents on the car and beating it out of there with only a few minor stings, but I now make a point of not getting too close to these things.

Oct 12, 2008

Monsters in the Basement

This was waiting for me when I went to move the laundry along tonight.  It was a battle, but I reclaimed my basement once again.

Get Well Soon, Reflector Collector!

Another Twin Cities cyclist was hit by a car recently.  His name is Ken and I have ridden with him a few times on Hiawatha Cyclery group rides, I think.  I don't know him well but I have some kinship and a lot of empathy for him nonetheless.  He is pretty banged up but hopefully will be on the road to recovery without complications.  Here is a link to his blog for the latest on his recovery.

Get well soon, Ken!

How to Harden the Fuck Up: A Public Service Message

For those that maybe not be entirely in the Harden The Fuck Up (HTFU) loop, there is a comedian in Australia named Ronnie Johns that has made this kind of a tag line (like Larry The Cable Guy's "Get 'er Done!).   Ronnie sells the wrist bands to the public at his swag site.  I had missed this cultural phenomenon until last summer, when Stuart O'Grady (an Aussie sprinter for the CSC cycling team) gave his team-mates wristbands before the start of the 2007 Tour de France (think Lance and "LIVESTRONG"). O'Grady's wristbands, however, were black and bore the message "Harden The Fuck Up". According to at least one CSC rider, they were helpful

I almost ordered one of these last year, but I failed to execute.  I have not stopped thinking about the concept, however.  Tonight I came across an "Ask Metafilter" thread on just how exactly one goes about hardening the fuck up.  That seems like advice we all could use at this point, so I am passing it on free of charge. because it's timely.  Here is the thread.  If you bother to actually read the link, you will see that it kind of flies in the face of the HTFU ethic - it's introspective and cerebral, but it might be useful to the people that need it most, so I am posting it as a public service.

With the economy falling down the stairs, a major election looming with no candidates that I actually want to vote for, and winter coming, I have decided that, at least for me, it is time to take Ronnie and Stu's advice and HTFU.  

Substation at Hoover Dam

An interesting photo from our trip to Las Vegas and side trip to Hoover Dam last January or February. 

Oct 9, 2008

SUGAR - Slick

Just a test post to the Snak Shak from You Tube. Enjoy!

Oct 8, 2008

Ginay Roadbike on CL

I get a fair number of hits from people looking for information on "Ginay" bicycles. I had an earlier post (e.g. rant) about illiterate Craig's List posts awhile back and the listing for the Ginay was the subject of my scorn.  Since then, a number of folks have bumped into this site looking for a Ginay or looking for information on Ginay's in general.  

Well... it's back.  This showed up on CL today:

vintage raceing bike 70/s tour de france /ginay updated - $600 (st paul mn)

Reply to: sale-871752461@craigslist.org [?]
Date: 2008-10-08, 5:03PM CDT

this is a early raceing bike from the 70/s all original needs pedals and seat has not been used for a very long time has been hanging in my basement since the late 80/s has original tires and components it is very light ps silver in color has deposse? components record rims. cranks, sun tour gears the frame is double butted has the name ginny on head tube .allso made in france ,tour de france ,ground to top tube is 31''stronglight cranks and chain rings with little or no wear. Lot of nice parts, rims are for sewn on tires, mafac center pull brakes and levers, scott mathouser brake pads hurel cable stays, the record rims have mm atom quick release sets forks are half chromed derailer is suntour v front changer is marked suntour spirit, neck is stamped bf on both sides, frame has a sticker that looks like it says reynolds 501
  • Location: st paul mn
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

So, if you are looking for a raceing bike, be sure to check this out. I note dear readers, that this is now a significant $200 less than the last posting - probably another sign of our impending economic doom.

After that earlier post, I did a little searching to find out what I could about Ginay.  Sheldon Brown says that they are a low-end French "bike boom" ride and the name is a sound-alike for Jeunet.  I was curious to go see this bike before I read Sheldon's description. That, plus the asking price was enough to keep me away.  I have been dabbling a bit into vintage bikes when I have the time and I am coming to believe that if little information can be found on the web, it's either exceptionally rare or it might be junk.  That said, there is little to be found via the interweb tubes on Ginay, so you make the call. 

Oct 7, 2008

My Political Compass Score

I saw a post on Planetary Gears about an on-line test to find out politically where you stand. I took the test tonight because I could not begin to tell you whether I am liberal or conservative - I have too many conflicting opinions to sort it out and I generally don't like either party for a variety of reasons.

So, here's where I stack up:

I guess I am a moderate libertarian??? I would not have guessed that I would have fallen here, but then, I just admitted that I had no idea where I would fit so I really should not be surprised.

Here is the link to the test in case any of you want to rate yourself.

Oct 3, 2008

How to Improve Presidential Debates

Like many people across the county, we watched the Vice Presidential debate last night. I felt that Biden generally "won" the debate, but Palin did much better than I was expecting her to do.

I had a great idea while watching the discourse, however. I noticed during the Beijing olympic fencing matches that the swordspeople had LED's in their face masks that lit up when they got stabbed. Fencing is so fast that it is very hard to keep up with, even on TV, and the LED's made keeping up with each match much easier.

My fellow Americans - I suggest that we put fencing masks on politicians during debates. If they answer a question well, then the judge(s) could light up a green light on the helmet. If they blow a question, then a red light would flash. Scores could be easily quantified and the footage could be endlessly looped on CNN and YouTube for our enterntainment.

On another note, the Twin Cities Marathon is this Sunday, and I have several employees running it again this year, so I will probably be standing around on the Parkway near the house much of Sunday morning with my camera in case anyone wants to roll by (in the probable rain).

That's it, take care and thanks for reading. Ride safe!

Oct 2, 2008

From the Bowels of CL

More disappointing posts from today's Craig's List

Number 1:
2003 Orbea Team Eusakdi/Euskaltel Team Replica Bike 
100% Campy parts - $1600 (U of M)

Reply to: sale-864305464@craigslist.org [?]

Date: 2008-10-02, 7:42PM CDT

This is an immaculate condition 2003 Orbea Starship bike. aluminum bike with Columbus 6000 tubing with Zeus carbon fiber fork. Weighs 18 lbs. Light and responsive enough that it will have you keep up with the carbon fiber bikes. Got 3rd in a Crit race. 


10 Speed Campy Centaur components. Double on the front. (20 speeds total) 2000 miles on all components. 

Campy Vento G3 rims. (makes the bike look much sexier than normal rims.) 

Brand new Bontranger Pro rear tire. 

Any more questions, let me know. Actual pics will be taken on request. Otherwise, here's an idea. 



Hate to see it go but I really need something more practical for campus and I don't race anymore. 

Keysearch: Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Bianchi, single speed, fixie, fixed, Scott, Lemond, carbon fiber, Madone, Surly,

Okay - this guy is trying to sell a 6-year old bike for $1,600 and can't post a picture or bother to say what size it is? Of course, it does have a new rear tire.  He's also got the team name wrong, too; it should be Euskatel/Esukadi. I suspect the poster is either selling his roommate's bike while he is away visiting his girlfriend at Stout (dude - your bike got swiped while you were gone).

Here's another gem that also ran tonight:

Very clean Centurion road bike - $325 (Uptown)

Reply to: sale-864068937@craigslist.org [?]

Date: 2008-10-02, 4:21PM CDT

It has good tires and very good gears. It rides very smooth for a bike. Email me for any questions or information. 

Location: Uptown

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 864068937

Sweet!! This one looks promising - it as "good tires and good gears", and best of all, it rides very smooth (for a bike, that is). No photos but again, premium pricing.

Now - off to the debates!!

Oct 1, 2008

Chapter 14, In Which The Author Becomes Embroiled in Neighborhood Politics

I received a call from my neighbor last night asking me to attend a meeting at a church very near our house.  She asked me if I had any concerns about the church, which was previously shared between a small Lutheran congregation and another small Baptist congregation, but now the Lutherans have pulled out and we have two groups of Baptists meeting there.

This is not the staid and sober Catholic church I am used to - there is loud preaching (can I get a witness? Can I get a witness??) with lots of singing and carrying on.  While I can hear them from my house, it's never really bothered me.  The only real aggravation I have had is parking (there is no parking lot, so the streets get a lot of parking and they sometimes block alleys, driveways, etc.) and decreased visibility at that intersection due to the parked cars.

My neighbor called to recruit me to come to a meeting neighborhood meeting at the church tonight. She is quite upset - she told me the noise is very disturbing (she is unable to take a nap because of the noise), the parking regularly blocks her driveway, they tried to grow grass after sidewalk repairs and the church-goers just trampled it even though it was roped off, and they litter.  When my neighbor asked them to not block her driveway/trample her grass/litter her lawn they told her to "fuck off" (not very Christian if that's all true).  To make matters worse, there was a noise complaint last weekend and when the police rolled up, they were apparently told by the preacher that we a simply an intolerant racist neighborhood.

This is shaping up to be a bad scene, I thought to myself...

I went to the meeting tonight to support my neighbor but made a point of keeping an open mind. I was a little skeptical because some of the arguements my neighbor used was that this is impacting our property values and emergency vehicles cannot access due to parking problems. These are text-book NIMBY arguments that I have heard a hundred times at work, so I plan to keep an open mind, meet some of the congregation and make up my own mind. 

Well, the meeting was held between members of the congregations and the neighborhood and it was actually a good dialogue.  My neighbor is very angry and I believe that she has been mistreated by some people at the church. However, it is also pretty clear that this has grown to a level where anything is unacceptable - the fact that she can hear people talking outside after services is an annoyance.

The congregation agreed to work on the liveability issues with the neighbors, which I appreciated, and they really listened (and heard) our concerns. I just hope that we the neighbors reciprocate with reasonable and realistic expectations.  

For what it's worth, I kind of liked the church people a little more than some of my neighbors (Shhhh - don't tell them I said that).