Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Bicycle Collection

There's my "main" bike, the one I ride the most. It's a Giant Acapulco. I bought it from a friend in about 1997 for $50. I'm just a recreational rider so it means a lot that I've put thousands of miles on that bike. It's a little too small for me I think, but I'm pretty comfortable on it for the distances I am likely to ride. Usually not more than a couple hours at a time.

I've got it pretty customized to my preferences. There's the dashboard to the right. That old Vetta trip computer has been on several of my bikes and was new in the early 90's. Hard to believe it has lasted that long. Combination bell and compass for directionality and warning pedestrians. Bright headlight. The suspension stem, a cheap find on ebay, is a great improvement in comfort. Completely takes the jarring out of your arms and is simpler, cheaper and lighter than a suspension fork. You can see where I repaired the right shifter with J-B Weld.

I also have the rack on the back and great bag to go on the rack. Cheap suspension seatpost does some to keep the jarring and vibration from traveling from frame to seat to butt. Sturdy lock (not like someone would really want to steal this bike.) Tire pump with built in gauge. It has 18 speeds with simple index shifting for the rear deraileur and friction shifter for the front one. It doesn't have a really low gear so I have to break my cadence on really steep hills. It's made out of steel and weighs 39 lbs with all that stuff on it. Taking off the lock and bag gets it down to 33 lbs.

Here's the next bike, the Schwinn High Sierra. Looking at this reference page it looks like the Bronze color was only available in 1986. I think I got this one day when the Goodwill was overstocked on bikes and made them all $5. It is in quite good condition for it's age.

It is really a little too big for me. I can straddle the bar on flat feet, but riding on a trail, you sometimes need a bit more space than that. It is a good thing I wasn't riding this bike on this trail ride. It has some really wide handlebars, and I guess the larger frame gives it a longer wheelbase. It really feels quite different to maneuver than my other bikes. It has some unique features that I suppose were very state of the art for their time. The roller-cam brakes seen below on the left and the biopace chainrings on the right for instance. The chainrings are not round, they are sort of elliptical but not exactly. They look round standing still, but when they are turning you can see the eccentricity of them. The idea behind them is that as you crank them around with your leg muscles, they provide different effective gear ratios for different segments of the stroke. I don't think that idea ever really took off for some reason. It seems like a really good and clever idea to me. I think it makes it easier to pedal both at high speeds and low gear hill climbing. This bike is also steel and weighs 32 lbs. It has 18 speeds and no index shifting at all. I don't like that.

Next on the list is the LL Bean Bike:

This one I got out of the trash. Really what I wanted from it was the rack that was on the back, which I have since removed. Then I noticed it was pretty light and made out of aluminum. A little more poking and research and I found it was made by Cannondale. Someone told me it was from the mid 90's. I had to replace the chain and all the cables, but now it rolls pretty good. Still needs some handgrips and then it's pretty much ready. It's only 15 speeds but the low gear is pretty low. No index shifting again. I actually tried to convert the rear deraileur to index shifter, but that apparently doesn't work unless all the components involved in shifting are set up to do that. My lightest bike at 28 lbs, but it doesn't even have a kickstand on it. Me, I like kickstand. This bike feels feels very quick and maneuverable to ride. Maybe it's the light rigid frame or the geometry?

The Trek Navigator is my newest bike:

It's kind of a cruiser/comfort type bike. It's got totally modern components on it like V-brakes and trigger shifter for the 7 speed rear deraileur. The front deraileur has a grip shifter. I actually got 2 of these from a Freecycler. They are almost exactly the same but the other one has some damage from some sort of traumatic incident with the chain going where it wasn't supposed to. This one has a quality suspension seatpost and a stem with adjustable angle so that you can sit very upright if you like. The frame is quite small though, and I can't get the seat high enough for even me to be ergonomic. It has *really* low gears. Check out the giant "megadrive" sprocket on the rear. It is so much larger than the next sprocket. Kinda hard to believe the chain will jump over onto that thing. But it does, and then you put it on the small front sprocket and it feels like you could ride up a tree with ease. This bike has 21 speeds and is 31 lbs of aluminum including no kickstand.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WZBC Radio from the late 1980s

I have loved radio for a long time. I remember my Mom taking me to a local radio station when I was about 13 years old because I wanted to be a DJ. We just walked in and she said I wanted to find out about being on the radio and somebody there told me all about it. I lost interest in producing radio but have remained a discerning radio consumer.

There have been times that I have loved a radio program so much that I had to save it. In the mid to late 1980s I lived in Boston where there is a lot of interesting college radio. I found several programs on WZBC, the radio station from Boston College which I loved. I have 6 tapes from WZBC in 1987 and 1988, most are 90 minutes. They had a program called "No Commercial Potential" on in the evenings. It could be quite variable based on who was doing the show that night. Sometimes it would veer into really discordant experimental stuff that I couldn't take. Other times it was beautifully assembled sets of songs that I had never heard but was now in love with. I didn't remember this until I started digitizing these tapes but it turns out most of the NCP programs I taped were a show called The Widows Walk done by a DJ named Mike Cronin.

Also enjoying Mike's show a few towns over was Steven Howard. He was inspired to begin a career in radio around that time. Steven did an excellent radio show called Mental Notes on the Asheville low power FM station WPVM, which had a great list of music programs by talented local DJs. It actually reminded me of being in Boston and having access to all those independent and diverse college radio shows, but all on one station just different times and days. Unfortunately, the license-holder of WPVM destroyed what I loved about the station. Dark radio times ensued for a while but Steven and many of the other talented local DJs have created, an internet radio station. You can catch Steven's Mental Notes on Sunday Mornings from 9-12. Looks like they may even have previous shows archived now so you can listen to the last show at your convenience.

Below are links to WZBC in the 1980s. Each mp3 file is one side of one tape. They are about 30-45MB each. Click one of those links and you should be prompted to download the file to your computer where you can play it. Some of these 22 year old tapes have some sort of distortion in the form of random blip-blip sounds. Let me know if these links don't work.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Old Cameras

I always look for interesting cameras at thrift stores. Occasionally I'll find one at a reasonable price that I can't pass up.

Most recently I found the Olympus 35RD in the foreground for $5 with the cute little Vivitar 50 flash on it. The flash appears to take some weird battery so I'll probably never use it. The camera is very clean and judging by the film compartment was used very little. It has a nice looking 40mm f/1.7 lens. That is very fast for a rangefinder camera like this. The Konica C35 in the background is f/2.8. The Olympus has adjustable aperture and shutter speeds and also seems to have a shutter priority automatic mode. Problem is, it has a serious shutter problem. Occasionally, it works correctly though I don't know if the timing is accurate. The rest of the time the shutter doesn't open or opens but doesn't close. I bought a new battery for it hoping that might help, but no. The meter also doesn't seem to work even with the good battery.

In the background is the Konica C35 that I think I got for $3 some time ago. It has automatic exposure and a clever thing for shooting with flash. In the old days of fixed output flashes, you had to adjust the aperture based on the distance to the subject. This camera has a setting that links the focus ring to the aperture setting. You set this based on the guide number of the flash you are using. It then changes the aperture to match the distance you are focused on. It even prevents you from focusing on things too close for the camera to expose properly when using more powerful flash units. Very clever. I have never seen this on a camera before. The problem with this camera is that it takes an obsolete 1.3 volt mercury battery that is no longer available. At least not easily available. I found several sources that said a 1.4 volt hearing aid battery will work. So I got some of those and it still didn't work. Oh well. I may at least take the bottom off and see if there is an issue with the battery contacts. They seem a little loose. I wish I knew more about camera repair so I could fix these.

Update: Oooooh, look at this!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Morning Rain Fall

A soft gentle spring rain falling making everything so green this morning. Driving Nell home across the smoky park bridge and there are a lot of police cars in the right lane. Traffic slowing way too much and I always worry about being hit from behind when that happens. Cops are looking through a little white economy car with gloves on, passenger door open. That part of the bridge is high above the land and road below. I hope somebody didn't jump. I change the subject in my mind and in conversation.

On the way home my mind returns to what might have happened. I decide to take the scenic route home on the road below the bridge. I often do this when going in that direction for some reason. It's a more pleasant drive than the expressway, there is much more to see and the slower pace is relaxing. To the right is a nice photo of the railroad bridge you pass under on this route. The photo is by one of my talented Flickr friends Mogmismo (aka Michael Tracey). I wonder if I really want to go this way today but knew they would have the road closed if someone had jumped.

Straight ahead, two police cars block the road going under the bridge. Shaken. Now typing and looking out on the fresh green leaves of Spring and the blooming dogwoods. Raindrops fall from so high and make the leaves twitch and bounce. It's so beautiful. We've got to stick around for the beauty. I know for some there is no beauty and nothing to live for. It makes me sad.

I always play these things out... what might have happened. It was just a matter of random timing that we passed when we did. I'm glad I didn't see someone jump, though an image of that event is in my mind anyway. Passing sooner maybe we could have done something. I guess that is a kind of normal thought. Nell might actually have been able to help someone since she works in the psychiatric treatment field. Witnesses told police the woman who jumped didn't hesitate at all so I guess her mind was made up.

Tragedy seems bountiful lately. Friends and parents of friends coming to unfortunate ends and having serious medical problems. Even old buildings I like seem to just collapse under their own weight. It's wearing on me in this beautiful Springtime.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Weekend Mishaps

I've taken a little bit ill, and that can make my brain not work so well. I noted that to myself, "self, be extra careful, your brain is not working top notch right now, you are susceptible to making mistakes." I only partly listened though.

It was a beautiful Saturday and I couldn't resist playing outside despite not feeling well. I worked on the luvwagen, fixing the parking brake even further than it was fixed before and played with the ignition timing a little bit. I poked around the yard. Neighbor elizabeth, a talented jewelry artist, gave me some tasty meatloaf that was a good lunch. A free-cycler had goat poo to give away, and I was interested in getting some of that good poo. That meant many opportunities for dangerous mistakes. Getting the little trailer ready to travel public roads, hooking it to the car, driving it on public roads, loading it, driving it back home when it is heavy, getting it into the driveway and then the yard near the garden. I'm sure there are other opportunities for disaster in there. Almost all of that went fine. The goat man was really nice and helped me load up the trailer. They have 85 goats in a dairy operation. The milk goes to cheese makers. I could have stayed there and learned about their goat operation all day, but didn't want to take up any more of his time. I made it all the way home safely. Decided not to put the trailer in the yard right then because I was tired.

I unhooked the trailer, now heavily laden with poo. Decided to air up the tires on the trailer since they were a little low. Right, I decide to do this *after* I drive the trailer full of poo across West Asheville. The little air compressor cord was not quite long enough so I went to roll the car back a foot or two. Foot on brake, release parking brake, rolling back... press brake to stop... nothing happens... bang! Foot not on brake. Foot on clutch. I wasn't really all the way in the car, just had my right foot in, so that's how I confused the pedals. It felt like quite a whack and I was worried about having messed up the car. Due to the wonders of the modern automobile with its plastic bumpers, just a scratch or two.

Nell and I had a quiet evening, both of us being sickly and watching NCAA basketball. Sunday was also a beautiful day and I again couldn't resist going out to play. I decided to put the trailer in the yard by the garden. I still had some of last year's manure in a small pile. It is so nicely decomposed and full of worms. I scooped it over in a pile. I found quite a few grubs in there, which is not a good thing in the garden. I chopped up a few, then started saving them. I put them on the sidewalk by the bird feeder. They were gone in about 10 minutes.

Next I set about hooking the trailer back up to the car and moving it to the yard. I angled a little off and the trailer went down a steep transitional area between the driveway and yard. The car bottomed out and was sitting on the cusp of that transition. Unhooked the trailer. Car no go, wheel spinny. I've been here before, or someplace like here. There was a famous incident when I got my parts van stuck in a tree. It actually was just on the grass in the yard, and it had bad tires and no traction. I kept inching forward to try to go backward and eventually ended up with the nose against a tree. In this situation I get another vehicle to use as an anchor and use a come-a-long to pull the stuck vehicle free. So I put the luvwagen in position and got my come-a-longs and chain collection. Due to the wonders of the modern automobile with its plastic bumpers, there is nothing to attach the chain to on the front of the car. There is a provision for this necessity though. You pop out a little cover on the bumper and there is a threaded hole into which you thread an eye. I got the special eye out of the trunk but couldn't get it to thread in. It has never been used before, so I thought the hole was all gunked up with undercoating and dead bugs. Did some cleaning and finally looked at the eye and saw that it had left hand threads. OK. That's odd. It's probably so people can't thread some cheap ass WalMart eye in there and get hurt. That conundrum solved I went to snatching the car out of its mire. The tension on the come-a-long seemed like quite a lot. I thought that I better be careful since I was sick and prone to mistakes. Checked and re-checked things frequently and thought about the modes of failure. I put blocks under the car wheels and moved them forward every few inches of pulling so that if something broke, the car would not lurch. I tried to stay out of the line of whippage that the cable might take, though that is hard to predict. I thought I had the car pretty far up onto the driveway so I decided to try driving it forward a bit. Nope, still spinny wheels. I wanted to re-extend the cable on the come-a-long, so I put the car in gear and set the parking brake. I loosened the cable and pulled it out and started pulling again. It got really tight and then the luvwagen started dragging its tires across the driveway at an angle. Oops, forgot the car was still in gear and parking brake on. That resolved, it pulled the rest of the way onto the driveway pretty easily.

All of that made me tired and so I came in to relax and write this instead of doing my taxes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Righteous Epic Wave Ride

What a perfect day for playing in the Pacific Ocean. It was unusually hot, about 90 degrees. With brilliant sunshine and almost complete absence of the usual chilly seabreeze. I don't remember the wind ever being that calm in the afternoon here. Brother Larry and I got in the water which I think was in the mid 60's of Fahrenheit temperature. Once in it, the water didn't feel cold at all.

I've always loved being in those big blue-green Pacific Ocean waves. Being lifted up off the sand by them as a swell passes by. Watching the distant horizon disappear and then return. In recent years the swirling salty ocean has always felt like it cleansed me of the sadness of seeing mom's decline, and let me just enjoy the time with her. As we began to wade out to the breaking waves, we were constantly being pushed toward Seattle by a strong current. So much that I wanted to get out on the shore and walk back to where we had parked our towels and stuff. Each time we would ride a wave in, we waded back out toward Mexico to counteract this drifting. Wading against this current and back out against the incoming waves was difficult. It reminded me of seeing Mom trying to complete simple movements like combing her hair or taking a few steps. The waves and powerful currents slowing her down and constantly buffeting her are a disease in her nervous system.

We rode the waves on boogie boards. It's like a little surfboard that you sort of lay on with your legs hanging off the back. You can raise up on your elbows for a different view, and you can steer by leaning left or right. That's about the extent of my expertise. I see boogie boarders who are far advanced and ride along the face of the wave like on a real surfboard. On this day I saw a couple of them manage to ride under the curl of the breaking wave and pop out on the face of the wave like you see surfers do in movies. I like to get as far out as I can where the waves are breaking but I can still touch the bottom. As a wave comes in and starts to fall over its own feet, the water in front of it rushes back and it gets suddenly much shallower. This is when I like to crouch down and then spring forward to ride on the white froth in front of the wave.

After a while, Larry decided to take a nap on the sand. I continued riding and increased my focus on the moment. I felt a part of that beautiful rhythmic ocean and waves and sun and air and the sounds of the water and feeling my legs push me through it and feeling it push my legs. I didn't have my glasses on, so the visual experience was impressionistic. The close-up view was sharp. There were these sparkly sand particles swirling in the water, glinting in the sunlight. They gave away the secret movements of the water. There was all manner of white foam on top of the water, appearing and disappearing and moving in lines and streaks and blobs. At one point I stood there looking down at a pattern of lines of foam moving toward me and out to sea. Faster and faster as the water moving past my feet accelerated and dug my feet into the sand. It was my whole field of view and the sensation of movement made me want to fall down.

Sometimes the wave ride takes me to the knee deep water and I just walk back out to catch another. On one of the rides I enjoy looking at the frothy breaking wave right next to me. The froth and I are cruising along at the same speed. It's a perspective I've never had before. I'm one with the boiling froth. I caught a series of long rides that went right up to the shore. The boogie board eventually grinds to a stop on the sand when the water is a few inches deep. I roll off in the sandy water and laugh. I'm smiling and laughing and happy in a childhood moment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Solana Beach Sunset

After the sunset with surfers at Solana Beach was Panang Curried Duck at Spice and Rice Thai Kitchen in La Jolla, one of my favorite restaurants in the world.