Posted November 26, 2008, 6:23 pm.

"Anti-materialist Thanksgiving."

Via Boing Boing.

Posted November 23, 2008, 11:56 pm.

Spending Time.

Working two jobs six days a week, I can lose track of the days. One day at Pullins, one day at Paul’s, another day at Pullins, two more days at Paul’s, then Pullins again. Is it Sunday yet? When the weekend finally does roll around, it’s so tempting curl up tighter under the covers and seek sleep, but I’ve been finding myself much happier to spend my time in motion.

Woke up a little before seven to a txt from Q; plans had been made to gather bright and early for breakfast at Brad’s before taking off for a day of riding. It was bitterly cold this morning, almost like it’s November or something. I made a note to myself: need more pants, more thick socks, more wool anything, check salvation army soon.

Breakfast of eggs, buttered toast, grapefruit, a piece of bacon surreptitiously placed on my plate, and a bite of heavy chocolate cake, a breakfast of champions. We finally started rolling a little before ten and headed North out of town with Vina as our destination.

Heading across the valley the Coastal range was in front of us with the tail-end of the Sierra Nevadas visible behind. Northern California is a gorgeous and flat land.

(Photo from Q.)

This was my first time putting any significant amount of miles on my new Doublecross, and it was a very pleasing ride. 700x35c Panaracers roll so smooth. It’s a great all ‘rounder steel wonder-beast, and I will ride it across the continent. A little bit of trouble from my knee, but I think that was due to having my seatpost a few millimeters too low. Another note to self: taller seatpost, maybe something with a setback.

Lunch at the Monastary

We took lunch at the New Clairvaux Vineyard and Monastery; we’d brought tomatoes, jalapeƱo cheese, zuccini, and guacamole sandwiched in focaccia, along with oranges and sprouted beans. This was followed by ice-cream and candy from the nearby cornershop. The twenty-six miles home felt a little longer on a full stomach, but we made it back before five.

After a shower and change into fresh clothes, we reconvened at Brad’s again, this time for dinner; fluffy mashed potatoes, steaming buttered broccoli, thick hearty soup, and more chocolate death. My legs were tired, my stomach filled, and my heart warmed. Another Sunday well spent.

Posted November 18, 2008, 10:52 pm.

Hear Myself Think.

Today at work I was reminded of one of the stories from Richard Feynman’s “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”. With an interest in understanding his sense of the passage of time, Feynman began a series of simple experiments that involved counting in his head. He found that it would regularly take him about 48 seconds to count to 60. He attempted to change this result by several means, including running up and down a flight of stairs to raise his body’s temperature. This had no effect other than confusing his colleagues.

Feynman also found that reading didn’t interfere with his ability to count in his head, whereas talking out loud did. One of his roommates claimed the opposite, that they could say anything they wanted without interrupting their mental count, but that reading would throw them off. The explanation Feynman came up with was that while he imagined hearing numbers spoken in his head when counting, his friend counted by visualizing the numbers.

Working for Paul I perform a number of different jobs, some of which are very repetitive. For example, assembling 50 pairs of brakes. Each pair of brakes consists of two arms, and each arm takes six or seven steps to assemble.

With some tasks I can my hands take over my mind is free to wander, and it takes large steps. Other times counting is required and my mind remains tethered to the task at hand. When I count, I often move my mouth without making any sounds, and in my head I can “hear” my voice saying the numbers. It seems like I count in my head in the same way that Feynman described his counting.

In his story, Feynman suggests that with practice one could to teach themselves to count in different methods, by imaging the numbers passing visually instead of aurally, or even by the imagined sensation of touch.

At work I tried to count in my head by visualizing numbers, increasing the value each time I finished performing the repeated task. Although I “saw” the number in my head, I found it difficult to stop myself from “hearing” it too. The only way I could do so was by actually saying something else out loud, or by imagining I was hearing something else in my head. “Hum hum hum” worked well, spoken out loud or just imagined.

Following this train of thought, I find myself more often than not engaged in an internal monologue that is explicative and explanatory. It feels as if I’m almost constantly trying to find most elegant way of describing a concept, experience, or situation to an outsider. If it is possible to train myself to count in my head by visualizing increasing numbers, could I also compose narrative thoughts by visualizing the words as text?

On a related note, the vlog Stuck in Vermont has an episode about renowned comix artist James Kochalka. In it he talks about his experience drawing American Elf, the daily journal comic he’s kept for the past decade. In the video, he mentions that he is constantly imagining the current situation in terms of how it would look as a comic. Perhaps this is a similar condition.

Posted November 18, 2008, 9:45 pm.

"The Small Planets".

I can’t remember how much Gumby I watched when I was little, but I know that the way he passes through solid objects bothered me. My mom had rubber figurines of both Gumby and Polky that she let me play with. They were the kind of rubber toys that had thin armature wire embedded under telltale pairs of tiny holes, which allowed for posing.

Posted November 17, 2008, 10:26 pm.

Alligator Jerky, Sunday Ride.

Went for a great ride yesterday. Met with Quinn and Lisa at Has Beans Coffee and headed South-East out of town a little before noon. The plan was to climb Table Mountain and enjoy a picnic at the top.

I secured small pouch to the back of my saddle with binda straps, in which I packed a handful of fruits and vegetables. Combined with the bell, full fenders, and Sakae “RANDNNER” handlebars, my Atala is starting to look more like a Randoneurring bike and less like a minimalist racer. (I think it needs more bags. Currently lusting after some Lemolo panniers, but due to the lack of rack eyelets I’ll probably just make my own larger saddlebag.)


Riding along the shoulder of the highway we passed a man selling alligator jerky out of his truck. “Five dollars a bag!” he yelled as we passed, and I responded “On the way back!”

Lisa split early and Quinn and I made it to the top after a relatively uneventful climb. We had a picnic, a good view of the valley, and not enough wind for kite flying. Apples and tangerines and pears and crackers and cheese and avocado and water and lemon tart and spicy noodles and hummus and chocolate are some of my favorite snacks.

The top of Table Mountain is supremely flat. The Edges drop away suddenly and spill out into the valley below. As such, most of the roads up or down include more than a few twists and turns. I took the descent very slowly, with handfuls of brake. We didn’t buy any jerky, and made it back into town just as the last sunlight was leaving the sky.

Posted November 14, 2008, 12:06 am.

Glowing Eyes.

Why? is fast becoming one of my favorite bands, and the video for A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under is nice. I love me some low budgets and glowing eyes.

Posted November 9, 2008, 11:08 pm.

Up the Hills.

I rode up some hills today. Heading East out of town and up from the valley floor toward Paradise. Climbing the switchbacks of Honey Run Road I realized that I have the lungs of an eight-year-old and the wits to match.

Near the top of the climb I came to the corner where I crashed and first injured my knee some thirty two weeks ago. In the meantime, kindly unknown vandals have marked the treacherous tarmac with a memorial and a wildly swerving blue line tracing my tragic trajectory.

It took me forty five minutes to reach Skyway from the covered bridge, that’s the new time to beat. The descent down Neal Road was great. A few headwinds to contest with, but I got the clearest view of the Sacramento River Valley I’ve ever seen.

When I got home the sun was making it’s way past the horizon, and the evening quickly laid itself across the sky. A long warm shower, music with Diana, and dinner at Brad & Amber’s house around their fire pit made a great end to the week.

Posted November 9, 2008, 12:24 am.

Morning Loop.

I got a copy of the Rouleur 2007 Photo Annual yesterday, a collection of the year’s best photos from six of Rouleur’s regular photographers. A few hundred gorgeous color and black & white shots of races and events from the last year serve to illustrate the blood, dirt, sweat, and perverse appeal of professional cycling. Not to say that this book inspired to me ride more, but it certainly reminded me, as I sat in a big soft chair, how much more I could be riding.

So this morning I woke up early and returned to the rolling routine. Shoes, socks, leg warmers, shorts, pants, t-shirt, jacket, cap, helmet. Tires, brakes, bottle, pump. Keys. I look like a dork when I leave my house for morning rides.

At first my legs felt terrible, but they just needed to warm up. By the time I was in the park they stopped complaining and settled into a comfortable rhythm. I wasn’t really pushing myself, and even felt a bit sluggish when I tried to.

Twenty three minutes had passes when I made it to the halfway point. I had been riding a little faster than I thought, and I wondered if I could make it home in even less time. Pushing a little larger gear I start doing some simple arithmetic in my head. Ten miles in forty five minutes is three and a third miles in fifteen minutes, and that’s thirteen and a third miles per hour average. Ten in forty is fifteen miles per hour. Ten in thirty five is seventeen and something, but I knew there was no way I could push thirty odd miles per hour on my way home to make that average.

I got home, stripped and showered, and forgot to check the clock. Two fried eggs, a bowl of granola, glass of OJ, and a pear were my reward this morning, and I decided that I could safely estimate that the ride lasted forty six minutes, which is better than the hour it used to take me. I had seen two deer, handful of blue birds, and over a dozen quail.

Getting ready to leave for work I swapped the clip-less pedals from my bike for some shoe-friendly platforms with straps, packed my lunch and bike lights into my bag, and turned off all the lights in my apartment before realizing that the fixed cup of my bottom bracket was loose. The whole crank set could knock back and forth about a centimeter or so, and I could hear the poor bearings inside being knocked about helplessly.

For the life of me I couldn’t image what myriad of tangential forces could have conspired to loosen these threads, and gave up the problem as a mystery never to be solved. I pulled the cranks off and tightened down the bearing cup as much as I could by hand and decided I would need to add a 32mm wrench to my home toolbox. The crank went back on the spindle, the chain on the teeth, the grease on my fingers was wiped on my black denim pants, and I was out the door.

Posted November 6, 2008, 6:13 pm.

After The Sale.

Barack Obama is the President-Elect of the United States, fuck yes mother fucker.

President-Elect Barack Obama

Now that the emotional wave of yes we did is starting to subside a little, we should all remember that he’s still a politician. He still managed to convince something like 90 million people to vote for him instead of someone else, and that’s an awesome feat.

Here’s a quote from Richard Feynman’s second anecdotal collection, “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”

The only way to have real success in science, the field I’m familiar with, is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be. If you have a theory, you must try to explain what’s good and what’s bad about it equally. In Science, you learn a kind of standard integrity and honesty.

In other fields, such as business, it’s different. For example, almost every advertisement you see is obviously designed, in some way or another, to fool the customer: the print that they don’t want you to read is small; the the statements are written in an obscure way. It is obvious to anybody that the product is not being presented in a scientific and balanced way. Therefore, in the selling business, there’s a lack of integrity.

My father had the spirit and integrity of a scientist, but he was a salesman. I remember asking his the question “How can a man of integrity be a salesman?”

He said to me, “Frankly, many salesmen in the business are not straightforward—they think it’s a better way to sell. But I’ve tried being straightforward, and I find it has its advantages. In fact, I wouldn’t do it any other way. If the customer thinks at all, he’ll realize he has had some bad experiences with another salesman, but hasn’t had that kind of experience with you. So in the end, several customers will stay with your for a long time and appreciate it.”

When I see a congressman giving his opinion on something, I always wonder if it represents his real opinion or if it represents an opinion that he’s designed in order to be elected. It seems to be a central problem for politicians. So I often wonder: what is the relation of integrity to working in the government?

Also, the presidential administration-to-be has a rather nice site to check out, The president-elect has a blog. And to think, we almost elected a president who didn’t know how to use a computer!

Posted November 6, 2008, 4:02 pm.

"1958", Future Past.

Via Jezebel

Posted November 6, 2008, 3:32 pm.

"IBM Glass Engine."

“The IBM Glass Engine enables deep navigation of the music of Philip Glass. Personal interests, associations, and impulses guide the listener through an expanding selection of over sixty Glass works.”

Via Alicia.

Posted November 3, 2008, 9:45 pm.

It Pours.

It was hardly drizzling rain this morning when I rode to work, and it was an outright deluge as I rode home. I just picked up a free pair of rain pants, so now all I need are some longer fenders and rain-boots to complete my bicycle scuba suit. With the right kit, riding in the rain can be perversely fun.

Steve and I were the only ones at the shop today, and I left early when it became apparent that there was nothing worth doing. I think we might have had a dozen customers come in, and less than half of them bought anything or left bikes to repair. We killed a few hours between us polishing and repacking some Campy hubs from the 1970’s to be built up with some old stock Rigida clincher rims Steve picked up.

As always, I learned a few things. For example, though the modern standard of nine 1/4” ball bearings will fit in a Campagnolo rear hub, they’re supposed to be packed with ten 7/32” bearings, preferably the original ones that came matched to the hub. I tore up the inner bearing surface on one of my own vintage Campy hubs earlier this year, and it dawns on me now that I probably packed it wrong. This was also before I learned to adjust loose-bearing hubs slightly loose, in order to avoid undue pressure when the quick-release skewer is closed. Combine both of these human errors with some heavy Portland rain and you’ve got one dead hub. Only need to make that mistake once.

Tomorrow, after voting the hell out of some poor machine, I’m going to start working part time for Paul again. Very excited to play with big noisy machines. I’m also looking forward to putting some variety into my work week, switching every other day or so between Pullins and Paul’s shop.

Bikety bike bike bike bike bike. BIKE.

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