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|Monday, October 24th, 2011|
|Monday, July 4th, 2011|
|Off the beaten path
I have been dreaming for months about cycling off the main roads. There are so many roads in Oregon(and elsewhere up/down the coast) that extend beyond civilization.
Today we finally did it. I had to build up a cross bike for wife and rebuild mine, but after months of preparation we finally set off on an epic trip to the beach...and got lost and didn't make it :)
It was hot and the map didn't correspond to reality(ie some roads were on map, but not IRL, etc). Apparently logging roads don't like to stay in sync with maps :)
Luckily with biking, the process of getting somewhere IS the point, the destination matters somewhat less.
|Sunday, January 9th, 2011|
I like making software for the feeling of making something out of very little. For the past few weeks I've been trying to branch out into real life. Made(+blew up) a basic power supply circuit, converted some battery-powered lights to be usb-powered, etc.
Today I had some time, decided to investigate oogoo
. Finally, a non-evil-food-ingredient/terrible-fuel-a
dditive use for corn-starch! I made a small batch and mostly used it to plug some holes in my house :) My main objective was to reinforce a barely-alive audio cable. Looks like I succeeded there! It's ugly because it's the first thing I made out of oogoo and I didn't smooth it out once it set a little. Next time will be better.
I had some oogoo leftover, so I used the remainder to make a cell-phone stand. It came out a bit unbalanced and unable to hold the phone...nothing a few sewing pins couldn't fix :)
So far the resulting substance feels like hard rubber. It's not quite strong enough to build a bike phone mount out of :( Seems like it will work great for making waterproof battery/light housing bits. Will also be nice to use this to "rubberize" metal bits instead of cutting tubes.
|Sunday, November 21st, 2010|
|Armored trains and other incorent thoughts
While in Ukraine a purchased a book on Makhno
(world's first[and only?] successful anarchist). Man, never underestimate WWI. The end of WWI coincided with massive regime change that resulted in Soviet union. Reading about what was going on *JUST* on the territory of Ukraine makes head spin. There were Frenchies, Hungarians, British, Tatars, Germans, Austrians, Russians, Ukrainians, Poles(This list is missing another dozen of nationalities) constantly changing alliances(backstabbing each other). Since the book is about Makhno it mostly focuses on the anarchists. Even anarchists have to be broken up on a 2D scale extreme-to-moderate on one axis and ethnic background(Jewish, Russian, Ukrainian) on another. I still can't keep track of all of the various Ukraines(ie competing governments) that existed.
What kind of a sick world does one have to live in to not be able to tell "us" apart from "them"! No wonder that many of the parties involved still bitterly dispute as to wtf went on.
It's especially painful to read about various anarchist movements. Seeing people move from believing into "individualism" into organizing into anarchist political movements is like a bad joke. Could these people not see that anarchism(by definition) doesn't scale beyond small groups? As soon as any movement got successful people immediately bitched about it not being anarchist enough...
This book also makes me feel sad for 20th century bystanders who got to beta-test various political theories. A predictable shitty regime beats any supposed benefits of rapid regime changes :(
If the political situation wasn't enough of a farce I learned of a new weapon: armored trains... As far as I can tell, the might of any particular army in the conflict was proportional to the number of armored trains in possession. The name is kind of a misnomer, they are basically massive railroad tanks. I guess prior to batteships, armored trains were the most whoop-ass filled weapon available. They looked cool too(unlike other tech of the era).
More pics here
I have no idea why these things were effective. If I were a pissed off peasant partisan, I'd fuckup all nearby railroads to get some peace and quiet.
Anyway, I'm still less than halfway through the book. It has way too many references to things I never heard of before. Makes me wish that there was a well-illustrated/mapped book of WWI+civil war Ukraine-ish territory + various forces acting on it, but I have a feeling that people are still figuring out wtf was going on. Feels like the first decade and a half of the 20th century is the only way to come close to understanding the rest of it.
On an unrelated note: WTF with all of the ebookreader-hype out there. With a deadtree book I'm free to read any book I want. Most books I want to read are not on any of the major platforms...And If I wanted to read a popular book, it's cheaper to get a used copy since the world is flooded with them. As to authors who can't afford to deadtree-publish, I'm happy enough to read their blogs. Alternatives to text(ie podcasts) are a lot more interesting than ever-fancier successors of clay-tablets.
|Monday, November 1st, 2010|
|Flighing on Halloween: The flight wreaked of decaying flesh
I arrived at the airport on time despite accidentally taking the wrong subway for a few stops(twice!). I kinda expected that I'd get confused in a new metropolis, so I allowed plenty of time for mistakes, no problem.Tech
I picked a Delta flight this time because my coworkers have been raving about using wifi on the plane and how it makes flights basically like surfing the net at home. Indeed, GOGO internet was fast enough to stream pandora and was a pleasant experience(thank you GOGO for giving my phone a free trial). The flight also had satellite TV, so I watched 30min of a program about Tea party, followed by turning off the tv to avoid 4 hours worth of "best political team" + dumbest possible coverage of cholera haiti outbreak. It's always surprising to me how much 24hour news channels suck. It was also cool to see the dmesg boot log of inflight entertainment systems(they were rebooted 4 times). So overall, the technology part of the plane rocked.Geriatric Nightmare
The plane was an hour late at getting out of JFK...which apparently is a common problem. This meant that I missed last MAX train home by the time I landed(why is it that the airline can be late without any penalties, but the customers cant?).
As usual, I got an isle seat to get a bit of shoulder/leg room. I didn't realize this at the time of booking, but turns out Sunday night NYC->PDX flights are a geriatric-special(Additionally, normal young people elect to party on Halloween). Throughout the duration of the flight, the smell of old people got progressively more overpowering.
As soon as the plane took off, drinks/snacks were served... followed by an continuous mass-exodus to/from the bathroom, which lasted the whole flight. Apparently everybody on the plane had pea-sized bladders.
Turns out people only get wider as they age and their coordination goes to shit... So every motherfucking old person had to whack me on the shoulder with their giant ass enroute to/from bathroom. How much worse can it get, right?
I contorted myself into my chair and tried to relax..but no the horror continued. Every time I'd try to relax, my seat felt it was being repeatedly kicked by a baby(I've had this happen before, and babies are excused due being incompetent-by-definition). Turned out i was experiencing the downside to seatback-mounted touchscreens: demented old people. The near-corpse behind me must've thought using a touchscreen is similar to gouging eyes out of pets, no idea why she had to muster that much force.
Given that I only got ~6hours of shitty sleep the night before and remarkably stupid reclining mechanism (Delta's reasoning:if you are reclining you obviously don't need that "excessive" legroom) this was the most claustrophobic+horrific flight yet.
|Friday, October 15th, 2010|
|Equal rights: Sexual discrimination in Ukraine
Ellen was worried about being unfairly discriminated against for being a woman in Ukraine... Well we haven't run into that problem yet, but my gradma racked up pretty good Taraspoints while shopping for groceries:
(conversation with a checkout clerk at the grocery store)
'ma: "Oh look, a man is selling me groceries!"
"How long have you been working here"
dude: "A while..."
'ma: "So how much does a man such as yourself make here?"
dude: "$10 a day"
(at this point grandma asked me to describe how much he'd make in Canada)
The woman has a gift with words.
|Monday, September 6th, 2010|
This was the best labour day weekend ever. (sorry for the mix of units below)Friday
I took a day off this Friday hoping that my last vacation day will be put to good use. It was, we did a puny 15mile bike ride to a hardware store in blistering heat. The ride beat the crap out of my recovering-from-a-cold self. But it was sunny, felt good to be doing stuff outdoors knowing that normally I'd be stuck at home working.Saturday
On Saturday me and David embarked on a completely unplanned ride of epic proportions. We ended up doing about 70km, half of it on fast flats, another half on my favourite local climbs: Chahelam
mountain and Bald Peak.
My original goal was to go to Bald Peak, but I could not remember the proper way to get there, so I gave up and we went to do the hill on the way to Newberg. Fortunately on top of that hill we saw a sign pointing towards Bald Peak park, so we took a 5km gravel Mountain Rd. to get there. I'm pretty sure I'm the only fool to have ever ridden a carbon tubular on that road. As ex-mountain bikers we slipped and skidded our way over(with me on 21mm tubs). I was surprised at how well tubulars handled on gravel(I'm not completely sure why), David had a much worse time on clinchers. I managed to get up to 20mph on non-washboard bits of the road.
Eventually we got to Bald peak and I found my way down to the single most awesome descent ever! The descent features near-perfect visibility of the road ahead, is almost completely straight and drops one down ~1400vertical feet. I rode my brakes at 40mph due to being thrown around by the sidewinds. David got up to 75km/h.
Oh and heh, Slayer was having a concert a few blocks down from my house, so I went over for the ending. The 6ft fence was pretty much designed to not hinder my view, the distance from stage was about right to not get deafened by the speakers. Oh and I brought my dSLR to get a better view at the onstage action =D(god bless telephoto lens).
It doesn't get much better than doing an awesome bike ride and then finishing the day off with live Slayer!Sunday
Lately my Sundays have consistently rated as the best day of the week. Almost every day I'd go to the gym, then have breakfast at the Farmer's market, next to Ellen's cart
. Can't beat a combination of crepes bursting with local fruit and protein-rich gyros from the neighbouring Greek cart. *drool*
This Sunday's routine was disturbed by a personnel change at the Greek foodcard and I skipped gym to entertain Canadians. Much excitement followed culminating in devising a plan to Tetris a giant compressor, TWO kitchen sinks + 3 bikes + 4 people into a hatchback. Good times. Paul also decided to hit up bald peak on Sunday and a claims an awesome 85km/h top speed on the descent. Supposedly he'll be sporting more aero wheels and an aero helmet next time.Monday
Wtf, it's still the weekend? Today was a day off from taking so much time off =D. Spent a bunch of time doing dishes, etc to cleanup the house. Bloody excellent weekend.
|Saturday, August 28th, 2010|
|When a shopping trip goes wrong...
So we got a ton of yummy groceries. I had the foresight to get 12L of pickles.
Unfortunately I don't go shopping as often as I used to, so when I encountered a familiar foe:
Things didn't go as planned. Usually I keep as much momentum as possible and have one of the trike wheels hover over the gap while momentum carries me safely over the stupid 90deg turn. This time I had too much weight in the trike so the wheel dropped like a rock and hit the curb headon.
See the far side of the rim, brake surface isn't supposed to be like that :) I also pinch-flatted(grrr).
On the other side of the bike the wheel tacoed to the point where i wasn't able to spin it anymore.
Both rims show significant stress at the weld joint(ie dislocated). The Salsa rim fared far worse than the walmart rim. For those considering purchasing a Salsa Delgado rim: don't. Buy a walmart bike and use the rims from there(costs the same =D).
Since the walmart rim was bent to the point of not being able to spin around, extreme measures had to be taken.
We took the wheel out(barely) and used my favourite pickles to support the cargo in the trike while I fixed the wheel. By fix I meant that I set it on the ground and stepped on the rim till it was more or less straight :) I'm such a pro at wheel maintenance!
I also took the tire off the salsa rim since I didn't want to chew it up on the way back. The rim might be trashed, so riding back was a bit exciting.
ps. I got off lightly. I bailed onto the grass and got a few scratches on my foot.
|Saturday, August 21st, 2010|
|Puncturing a tubular the right way
Today I managed to get a pretty significant hole in a tubular(this gets me up to 3 since I started riding them this summer)...Except this time after much angry sealant-fuming it sealed successfully. It must've been a decent-sized hole since it took about a minute to seal. The key was to keep riding and not stop...So I ended up riding about 20/50miles at ~40psi(drop from 140psi) because I didn't bring my good pump with me and didn't even bother using my crap pump. Luckily with tubulars 40psi isn't *that* bad. It just feels a slower, corners funny and the tire tends to bottom out on uneven surfaces. I still managed to get up to 30mph on the downhills :) Can't do that on a clincher.
I'm kinda shocked at the number of punctures I'm getting since switching from my gp4k clinchers(used to flatting once or less per year). I suspect tufo and cheap continentals use crappier rubber than gp4k. Guess I'll try gp4k and/or gatorskin tubs next.
|Thursday, July 29th, 2010|
Had a busy week and it's not even over yet :)
Sat - Hot as hell club ride. It was going to be a century but ended up around 80miles, it was too hot, we decided to cut the end off instead of suffering.
Spent Sun-Mon drilling walls, crawling around under the house laying my 4th(!!) ethernet cable in the living room. It is supposed to be used as a inwall usb cable for the soundcard for the TV computer. Unfortunately my passive usb2ethernet dongle didnt work with that particular computer and that particular cable run. Going to try with an active usb thingy next. This is frustrating because other computers work fine in that situation as do other cables. Still, had more fun than I expected laying down this cable. I spent a few weeks planning this. Was amazing to see everything go according to plan, especially given how hot it was while I was working.Carbon Tub
On Tuesday my spokes arrived =D. I love danscomp
. I spent Tue-Wed building up my carbon
wheel. Contrary to internet wisdom, building up the carbon wheel was the easiest wheel-build ever. The rim just did not fight me with funny kinks and unevenness like a typical aluminum rim.
I wanted a strong wheel, since no factory wheels fit my budget + fatass-surviving requirements(without being some sluggish Ultegra/OpenPro combo). I chose to lace the 50mm rim to a duraace hub(for some reason there was a shitstorm of cheap duraace hubs last month, price dropped from $200 to $60). I was amused that I beat shimano at their game. My rear wheel cost <$250 has 8more spokes and weighs 10g less than the equivalent Shimano wheel
(note the price difference).Thursday
Today I'm kinda burned out. Hot weather means I'm not sleeping as long as I would like. The biggest event of the day was that I got a second tubular flat of my life while riding to the dentist. I didn't put in enough sealant :(. Once I got home I put in 7ml of Stans's sealant and the tire fixed itself :) Spent the rest of the day with fun activities ranging from swapping cassettes on various bikes to laying down initial tubular glue layers on the cf tub.
I'm gonna take it easy tommorrow. I think on Saturday I'll do a ride across town to restock my supplies of salo
|Sunday, July 11th, 2010|
|A Short History Of Tractors in Ukraine
Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian
is an OK book. An Economist blog recommended it and it seemed sufficiently funny from description.
The story is captivating enough. It reads like author had a creative explosion near the beginning of the story... until the reality of having to finish the damned story set in.
Unfortunately, being Ukrainian took a lot of the shock value out of it. Immigrants do some silly stuff. I also doubt the book would be as highly rated if it didn't make fun of immigrants.
I'm also a little puzzled at the Ukrainianness of it given how most of the characters have Russian names.
In the end, I think the Economist is right. It's a good novel for understanding some of the silly things originating in that country.
|Friday, June 25th, 2010|
Surprisingly, the ~6 other wheels that I built up without tension-tool wank are still going strong and taking abuse well. I'm guessing that's beginner's luck. Although, one of the wheels with a $12 shimano hub is playing striptease. The locknuts managed to get themselves loose, so i can't put that wheel back into the bike until I get some conewrenches to fix it. Atleast the spokes are ok :)
Finally used my park tension meter for the first time today. The tool's execution totally sucks. I hate the idea of a $40 tool giving one a number that requires one to look stuff up in a table. This reminds me too much of pre-calculator days of calculating logarithms that I heard about in ancestral stories. I would much rather use a sexy modern tool like this fsa thing
Even with the neanderthal-worthy park tool I was able to grant my tubs the gift of even tension. It was so much easier than guessing. Given that I'm tone-def and lack ability exactly to gauge spoke tension with my fingers, this tool seems like the only way for me to tune wheels well.
Unfortunately, I still got a ping-type noise every revolution of the front dace wheel(but only under load). Now that the spokes are even, it suggests that there may be a single shot bearing in the front hub. Either that or I fudged the gluing job and the tire is somehow facilitating noise.
Cherries grow like weeds around here. So many wild cherry trees around offering delicious, fresh cherry goodness. Cherries make this one of the most delicious times of year to walk around the neighborhood.
|Sunday, June 13th, 2010|
Stock wheels seem to die under me. The bearings die, spokes detention, rims compress precariously, etc. It's not too surprising given that most fast wheels are designed for 130lb scaled down imitations of humans. I could get cyclocross rims + fancy hubs to avoid this. I already built up a wheelset like this for my travel bike, cyclocross rims + durable hubs = slow wheels. So I decided to try a compromise.
Bought a deep carbon china-rim + 28sp taiwan hub. That should get me a light strong wheel for the price of a decent cheap wheel. Turns out carbon rims work best with tubulars, so I had to go tubular for this experiment. I should have this wheel built up before the end of June, still need to order spokes. I went for a Taiwan hub because they are affordable and I could not afford a new dura-ace hub. Figured if this one doesn't last, current-model dura ace hubs should come down in price by the time the hub dies.Meanwhile...
All of my wheels wore out and the bike was a bit painful to ride. Creaky, bumpy and unresponsive wheels made for an unfun ride. So I lent my wheels to an ultra-light friend so they can live out their life a little longer(they roll much nicer under less weight). In meantime I borrowed a 20spoke rear + a 16spoke front. Seemed like they should tide me over till I build up my replacement set...not so. After 2 weeks they started showing their anger, first while climbing out of saddle, then during normal riding :(
So I snagged some 32h durace tubulars off craigslist for $175 to tide me over. I already had all of the tubular bits in preparation for the cf build. Turned out the hubs were in mint condition. Dude bought hubset 10 years ago and built em up into a cyclocross wheelset. He's nice and light so the cross races didnt do much to the hubs(rims got a few scratches). So now I have a cheap set of wheels that don't bitch and moan under me =D Not only that, they are also atleast 0.5kg lighter than my lightest previous set.Dace Interim Wheelset
Got somewhere > 100miles on these wheels in the two weeks I had em. Best impulse-buy I ever did. I changed out the wheels and went riding with a faster group than I usually do... It was great I could finally not fail on hills.
So this week I swapped out for 180mm cranks too, now I'm the fastest fatass on climbs =D. These wheels are so good I somewhat regret buying the cf rim/hub. There just isn't much that can be improved(other than aerodynamics).
Turned out tubulars work great for me too. 23mm clinchers feel marginal under me. 21mm are too sketchy to bother with. I really need a 24-25mm clincher to avoid bottoming out on potholes.
With tubulars there is no worry of pinchflats, the tufo 21mm hi-carbon tubs ride so gently. Tufos also do an awesome job at evening out road-buzz, it's like the difference between a crappy carbon bike and a fancy cervello....by just swapping clinchers for tubulars. I can only imagine how good these would ride on a highend cf bike.
So as far as I'm concerned tubulars are a win for fatass riders.Now I can get highspoke light rims(that make up for weight of spokes) + light tires that are more robust in some scenarios. I can also run skinnier tubs than clinchers and they ride better. Seems like a great way level the playing field with scaled-down of human-imitations that bikes are usually made for.
I used to hate drawn-out slow ascent climbs, now they are barely noticeable =D I can also accelerate much faster now. Been having way too much fun with tubs.
The only open question concerns flats. I usually get 1 flat or less per year(gp4k conti clinchers). So if I can keep that up with tubulars I'll be happy. I also got some stan's sealant to fight small punctures which are the most common non-pinch flat.
As far as gluing the tubulars goes, I don't mind it. It certainly beats installing tires on uncooperative rims and having that damage tubes.
I came into this tubular wank with low expectations. So far tubular wheels are the most impressive upgrade I've done to my bike.
|Monday, June 7th, 2010|
|Battle for the headset
This has been a busy spring in terms of fixing up busted/crappy stuff on bikes. My touring bike made it through New Zealand fine, but a couple of components did not survive the return trip. In particular my sealed bearings came unsealed(they been coming unsealed for the past year), but I guess the humidity of Fiji finally got the bearings. Turning felt like I was using sand in my headset. So my bike laid there beheaded for a month waiting for me to fix it.
I looked around, turns out it's a fairly annoying thing to fix a headset. I think modern sealed bearing headsets only break in weird cases like mine(ie i pull the fork out + transport it off the bike 6-8times a year). As a result the replacement market is barely there. I found some replacement bearings on ebay, but turned out the Chinese manufacturer must've used a Chinese millimeters to measure em, cos drop-in bearings they were not. After checking that I got the right item, I tried to press em in by tightening the starnut. Turns out starnuts suck and mine snapped in half after getting the bearing 90% in(it was slightly oversize so I figured I could coax it in).
Today I finally got my starnut replacement, it worked well, but the bearing wouldn't budge. So I hammered the bearings in(something morally wrong with that approach). Normally I would object to ill-specced components, but this time the Chinesyness of it played in my favour. I'm hoping that since the bearing is such a tight fit, it wont fall out as much as the normal drop-in bearings did...and hopefully not come unsealed.
And yes oldschool bearings might've been cheaper to replace... My previous headset was of that style, it fell apart on my second trip. Not sure if I even used it for 2 months.
|Sunday, June 6th, 2010|
Today was fun. This was the wettest morning of the year, it was pouring as hard it gets in this area. This was the first day of Ellen's crepe cart
. Even though the market is a few blocks away, I was not looking forward to walking through the wall of rain to get there. Luckily I got a ride, since something was forgotten at the house.
Once there we suffered a few more hours of rain that'd make the bible proud. My primary role was crepe QA(which by the way I excel at). Ellen made excellent crepes(as usual), lots of customers walked away happy.
I got to ride the trike back. Miserable as it is to ride in pissing rain, it was downhill. Even in crap weather, I love cruising around on the trike.
|Tuesday, May 11th, 2010|
It pains me to think of the value added value proposition of SOME BRAND. It's supposed to convey a feeling of quality (or in practice lack of thereof). Brands are a product of of bureaucracy(aka marketing) in the supposedly efficient capitalist markets. Such is the cost of specialization. Those that do stuff can focus on doing stuff while marketing people do their thing so sales people can sell the stuff. In the end one ends up paying less for the process of making stuff and more for noticing it. Feels wrong.
I got Ellen a custom painted china-frameset (with a single middleman between us and the factory). I didn't have enough wits/bravery/tools to install the crown race onto the [wanky] fork
's tapered steerer. So I sent Ellen on a quest to get a bike shop to do it. Turned out most Portland bikeshops did not posses the advanced technology needed. After calling around Ellen accomplished her quest at the 3rd bike shop of the day. The best part was that she did not have an answer for "What brand is it?" that every puzzled mechanic asked. Poor bike mechanics have never seen a logo-less cf fork.
|Monday, April 19th, 2010|
|Soviet kids were more hardcore
Apparently after a number of deaths in 2008, the ukrainian government had to relax the Physical Education requirements. Kids these days eat too much junkfood and don't get enough exercise to keep up, leading to unfortunate accidents.
On a completely unrelated note, Saturday was amazing. Me and Mike suffered through 4000feet of Portland's finest hills. The weather was mostly awesome(except when we got soaked in a spring-shower). This ride leaves one with an awesome feeling like no other.
In other news it has been shorts+t-shirt weather for over a week. WinCo is full of fresh-tasting vegetables and fruit(no idea where they are from). It's sad to know that in another month we'll be done with all of the best rides of the year and will have to wait till next year.
On the bright side, we are planning a Hillsboro midnight bike ride. 'burb kids should have fun too,
|Monday, April 12th, 2010|
|Friday, April 9th, 2010|
|speedy jive-talking scammers?
Just had these girls
drop by. At first I thought it was funny that she spoke jive too fast for me to keep up. Now I'm kinda scared, cos she did ask some weird questions like whether i rent/own, etc. Perhaps they were bussed in from another state to scope out houses :(