Monday, December 31, 2007

Now Public

I'm tinkering with the Now Public configuration. It's supposed to add a link to posts here on CycleDog, and I think it's supposed to be capable of posting simultaneously both here and over there. So if things look a little odd, it's just me going through the learning process.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Top Ten for 2007

(Image from

Yes, I know, we get inundated with lists of the best and the worst at this time of year. Who am I to pass up a cheesy bit of easy writing?

But before we get into that, I have to tell you that I just started reading Patrick McManus' "The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor". If you haven't read any of his stuff, stop right now, go find one of his books, and read it. I'll wait.

There now, doesn't that feel better? If I could be half as funny as McManus, I'd be one happy guy.

(Image from

The other book I've started is "A Matter of Honor" by William C. Hammond. This one is a Revolutionary War sea story much in the manner of C.S. Forester's Hornblower tales, but of course, in this book the Brits are the bad guys. Forester is one of my favorites, too.

As an aside, are there any British books that portray the Revolutionary era Americans as the bad guys?

OK, now that's done so let's go on to the top 10 list.

Number 10. The Tour de France - because it's a spectacle year after year. By the way, who won? I know it wasn't a Frenchman and I suspect the winners will be systematically disqualified until a Frenchman stands atop the podium.

Number 9. Brooks saddles. I love Brooks saddles, or more specifically, my butt does.

Number 8. My kid's Toshiba laptops. They haven't managed to break them yet. They don't crash. They don't pop up the blue screen of death. They're solid, dependable machines, exactly unlike this Compaq I use.

(This is really boring, so let's skip a couple.)

Number 3. Dave Moulton's Bike Blog for being informative and entertaining. I've learned much from reading Dave's blog. His insight into bicycling history and technology is priceless.

Number 2. Fritz and Cycle-licious. Fritz is a pal. He's inquisitive and reads widely in order to provide content. If I have questions, he and Dave are the go-to guys.

Number 1. The Tulsa area LAB bicycling instructors and advocacy group. These are the people who try to make this city a better place for all cyclists, and they take a lot of criticism for standing up in public for their principles.

Finally, as 2007 comes to a close, I want to thank all of you who read CycleDog. I try to provoke a few laughs, just as Patrick McManus has done, and I try to inject some serious content as well. Balance is a critical issue for any cyclist, just as it's a critical issue here on CycleDog. It's been a wonderful year of ups and downs, good moments and bad. Thanks for coming along on the ride!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

We can shoot journalists, can't we? (UPDATE)

In response to the utterly appalling piece in the Times OnLine, there's this letter from a woman whose son rode his bicycle into a piece of piano wire stretched across his path. "Irresponsible journalism" doesn't begin to describe Parris' piece. "Reprehensible" is better.

December 28, 2007 (LINK)

Piano wire menace

Decapitating cyclists is not a helpful suggestion

Sir, Matthew Parris (My Week, Dec 27 ) is no doubt intending humorous exaggeration in calling for piano wire to be strung across country lanes in order to decapitate cyclists.

Forgive me if I fail to see the joke. My son is an enthusiastic cyclist, and is also very responsible and courteous. Last year while cycling on a cycle path he struck piano wire that had been deliberately stretched across the path at head height.

Only the fact that he hit the wire with his helmet prevented his injuries being more serious. Had he been riding in a more upright position he could well have been severely injured.

There is enough random violence in society today without someone like Mr Parris making sickening and grossly irresponsible suggestions.

Malley Terry

Droitwich, Worcs

Another idea for advocacy...

I signed up with NowPublic during the ice storm. It's a news/social networking site. This is fun because it combines the functions of a web forum with easily accessed links to news articles. Naturally, since I'm deeply involved in bicycling advocacy I want to see if NowPublic offers another venue for cycling advocacy and education.

One thing they offer is an automatic posting mechanism, where a post to NowPublic is automatically posted to a member's blog. For now, I won't enable that, so CycleDog will remain focused on cycling. That may change sometime in the future, but I'll let you know if I decide to go that route.

There's a search box that includes members names, so if you're interested in following what I've posted over there, just do a search for CycleDog. Yeah, I know, it's not very imaginative but at least it's consistent.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We can shoot journalists, can't we?

The first paragraph says quite enough. I'm sure his editor will say that it's all in fun. He doesn't really mean it, so don't take it so seriously. My response is this - perhaps if I advocated that this guy be gut shot and left to die on a lonely country road as his bowels and bladder emptied into his trousers and he coughed up blood and stomach contents as slow internal bleeding eventually lead to unconsciousness and death after a couple of extremely painful hours - maybe I'd be 'just kidding' too.

And here I was thinking our stateside conservatives totally owned the 'barking mad' title. Silly me.

What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?

A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists. It’s not just the Lycra, though Heaven knows this atrocity alone should be a capital offence; nor the helmets, though these ludicrous items of headgear are designed to protect the only part of a cyclist that is not usefully employed; nor the self-righteousness, though a small band of sports cyclists on winter’s morning emits more of that than a cathedral at evensong; nor even the brutish disregard for all other road users, though the lynching of a cyclist by a mob of mothers with pushchairs would be a joy to witness.

(Link to the rest of his bullshit)


Monday, December 24, 2007

And a wonderful Christmas for all of you!

(Image from

I know, I know. Most everyone is on the road somewhere or stuck in a security line at the airport, hoping (sometimes in vain) to get on a flight.

The CycleDog clan is right here at home. Son and daughter both have to work today, but they'll be home by late afternoon. Mary and I will make a grocery store run for last minute goodies, and I'll probably (no, no, not probably, substitute definitely) stop at the liquor store for another bottle of rum. When it's cold, a hot buttered rum helps fight off the chill. Two hot buttered rums are even better.

(Number One Son is preparing to go to work by playing Guitar Hero over and over. I swear the demented people who came up with that game did it in an attempt to push me over the edge. My only consolation is that once I'm a grandfather, I'll buy things like that for his kids!)

Most years at Christmas, I'm stressed out from worrying about money, travel, and the myriad things that go into 'celebrating' the holiday. This time, we're not planning on any travel. I had the forethought to get most of my shopping done weeks ago. I'm broke again, but that's not unusual. Oddly, I've been sitting here watching the birds arrive at the feeder outside the kitchen window, and my thoughts have been revolving around Christmases past. I'm looking forward to this evening, hopefully a quiet one spent with family here at home.

And of course, tonight Santa arrives. Actually, she's already here, still in her pajamas and sleeping late just down the hall. It's a wonder that Guitar Hero hasn't jolted her awake.

I'm rambling a bit so I'll end this. The very best part of Christmas is spending it with those we love, so my Christmas wish is that all of you be with your loved ones this holiday. Everything else is secondary. It's the people who are special.

Life is good.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa Tracker

(Image from Radar avoidance equipment mounted on Santa's sleigh.)

When I was a kid, a local television station aired a warning of an unidentified object coming over the pole on Christmas eve. It was detected by NORAD long-distance radars and seemed to be descending toward the continental United States. Throughout the afternoon there were updates on this mysterious object. Of course, we kids were savvy enough to know it was just more Christmas hype.

Then my dad got home from work.

When the station broadcast the next update, dad panicked. "Virginia! Get the kids and go down to the basement! Load up all the canned goods!"

Mom had no idea what he was talking about. "You want me to what? I'm making dinner!" My sisters and I giggled.

It dawned on him that this was only an innocent bit of fun on the part of the television station. I'm sure he felt a little bit foolish.

We reminded him of the story every Christmas, of course. He got his revenge by playing Jim Reeve's "Dear Senor Santa Claus" over and over until we were ready to scream.

Dad's been gone for almost ten years, now, but the story still brings a smile to my face.

Since the season reminded me, I went looking for a good on-line Santa Tracker, and I found two that I liked. Granted, they're far better than the cheesy special effects cooked up by our local television station, but if you have small children in the house, they'll probably do just fine.

This one shows a polar view, and I assume that it will show Santa's movements tomorrow.

This is nice! It shows the gray line and includes scrolling text from mission control.

You can count on this - tomorrow I'll have one or both of these running all day. Maybe Santa will bring me a new bike! I've been good. Honest. I hope he doesn't talk to Mary, 'cause she lies, ya know.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday far

(Image from

It's been fun. Wade and I met for coffee, as usual, then went over to IHOP to have breakfast with my daughter before she went to work. We sat in a booth waiting for Lyndsay to arrive. She was only 10 minutes late, timely for her.

The waitress came to take our orders.

"I'll have the Belgian waffle," I said. She dutifully wrote it down. "Is that made with real Belgians?" I managed that with a straight face.

Her eyes flew open wide. Her mouth dropped. She didn't say a word!

I cracked up. "I'm sorry. I just couldn't pass it up."

She took the rest of the orders, then wandered off muttering to herself.

It got better.

When I returned home, Jordan and his friend Zack were just waking up after a long night playing video games. Jordan wanted pancakes.

"You know how to make pancakes," I said.

"No, I don't! You always make them and your's are better."

I let this pass. He's made pancaked before, but a parent has to pick his battles carefully. I walked out to the kitchen with the boys trailing along.

"He's gonna make us pancakes!" Jordan crowed.

Zack said, "I don't think so, dude. He's just gonna give you a cookbook."

Instead, I got a box of Bisquik from the cupboard and handed it to Jordan. "Read the directions."

I supervised as he puttered around, finding the mixing bowl, measuring cups, and all the ingredients. That was tough: milk, an egg, and Bisquik. It was rocket science as far as Jordan was concerned.

He flipped the third pancake. "I have this down!" The kid does not lack for confidence.

They each had a stack of pancakes. I came out to the living room to write this while they ate. I'll post it, and then go look at the devastation they've done to the kitchen.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cycling in Hell

(Image from Wikimedia)

Those of you who read CycleDog regularly know that I'm not afraid to rub a cat's fur the wrong way. So it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm not a fan of the Copenhagen style bike lane plans, or their foaming-at-the-mouth, overly ardent admirers. If you want such facilities, move to Copenhagen, but don't make the mistake of believing that similar projects are possible here. There are simply too many differences between our cultures.

First, taxes in Europe are exorbitant by our standards. Sure, they get a lot of public services in return, but if Americans were taxed at similar levels we'd overthrow the government.

Second, fuel costs are staggering. A gallon of gasoline costs roughly the equivalent of eight dollars. Is it any wonder they drive tiny, fuel-efficient cars? Is it any wonder they use bicycles for short trips?

Third, the oldest parts of European cities are laid out on a pedestrian scale. Streets can be narrow, sidewalks almost non-existent, and parking is often some distance away. Some cities have had the dubious benefit of rebuilding their cores after seeing them flattened in two world wars. I don't know of any sane people who'd advocate total destruction as an urban redevelopment option.

Finally, they enjoy extremely high population density, getting to live cheek-by-jowl with the neighbors. "Hey honey! CycleDog is having sauerkraut tonight! Let's get out of here!"

Now, the admirers of the Copenhagen plan would have us believe it's a cycling utopia, and if only we'd build similar facilities here, we'd find our paths strewn with flowers by tall, tastefully dressed Nordic women in stylish footwear.

So imagine my dismay at seeing the following:

In a measure to protect their cyclists, the Danish city of Grenå is funding a large-scale project called “See Mi” that will make navigating the city’s busiest streets easier for both cyclists and drivers. The initiative will see the installation of battery-powered RFIDs in the steering columns of 300 bikes as well as receivers at seven of the city’s most dangerous intersections. The RFID from the resident’s bicycle will send a signal to the traffic light when approaching the intersection; in turn, the traffic signal will automatically flash a ‘cyclist’ sign to warn drivers that they should keep an eye out for cyclists before making a right turn.


RFIDs are usually passive and do not require battery power. But that's a minor point. A much bigger one it this - MOTORISTS DO NOT LOOK FOR CYCLISTS ON THEIR RIGHT, EVEN IN UTOPIA. And a bike lane system merely reinforces this behavior. Cyclists are 'safely' segregated, out of sight and out of mind.

So in order to make this supposedly Utopian system work as it should, another modification, another layer of bureaucracy, another layer of control, and another equally pointless layer of gold leaf has to be applied to Copenhagen's turd of a bike system.

Tell you what - put the cyclist and the driver in the same lane and treat both of them as responsible vehicle operators, and this problem will go away without resorting to another Band-Aid approach. No one questions the underlying assumptions of these segregated bikeways, that cyclists are incapable of learning to ride in traffic, or that it's even possible to ride safely on a city street, because there's too much money and prestige tied up in building more and more facilities. Thunderhead Alliance, Bikes Belong, and a host of advocacy organizations including my favorite, the League of American Bicyclists, turn away from any serious discussion of this.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

News of Landis Appeal...

I know, I know. Some of you are sick to death of cycling and doping, so I'll keep this very short. If you remember the hearing Floyd Landis had last summer, you'll recall that despite the shortcomings of the French testing lab, they still found Floyd guilty. Then the panel went on to say that if these sloppy procedures weren't corrected, someday, somehow, someone would have to be presumed innocent.

Well, it's happened. USADA had its first ever loss before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a case involving sloppy lab work. Sound familiar? It's the same argument that Landis is making.

Now, I promised to keep this short, so if you're interested just follow the link...


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

I love this!

(Image from the Mahatma X Files - formerly The Left End of the Dial)

When I was a sophomore in high school, I read most of H.P. Lovecraft's work. This brought on some sleepless nights, believe me.

These days I don't read the horrors very often. But with the network writers on strike and the television programming execs shoving more and more 'reality' shows on the box, the public library is definitely a better alternative.

I picked up 3 novels yesterday after dropping off Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." I'll write about his novel later, but for now let's just say that a post-apocalypse story like this is a little disturbing on several levels.

Anyway, I have "The Rake" by William F. Buckley Jr., a blend of suspense and satire (according to the jacket, anyway) based on a story about politics. Then there's Joe Haldeman's "The Accidental Time Machine" that I started last night. Finally, there's "Dizzy City" a story of a WW1 deserter turned con man by Nicholas Griffin.

Why so many books? As I said above, television really has become a vast wasteland, but besides that, I work only 3 days this week, then I'm off on vacation until after New Years.

Maybe if I had another concussion, I could spend the vacation watching daytime television. No highs, no lows, just 'the zone'.


Dear Santa...

(It's time once again for a heartwarming letter from a child writing to Santa Claus. Enjoy!)

Dear Santa,

I have only one request this year, unlike previous years when I've asked for a bewildering list of goodies that would have loaded your sleigh down so heavily all the reindeer would have hernias. I can understand your reluctance to deliver all that stuff what with the potential liability and all those worker's comp claims. OK, I get it, though you have to admit that having my very own Playboy mansion fully stocked, and, um, 'staffed' with a dizzying array of young women would have made me the envy of all the other kids in the neighborhood. Give the idea some further consideration this year, though I recognize it's not a priority, remember that you'll have a suite permanently reserved. I hear the North Pole gets cold, but you'll have a place to stay that includes hot tubs and babes in bikinis. Think about it as Plan B.

So what I have to write may hit you as a shock. Sit down and take a deep breath. What I really, really want this Christmas is a new bike. That's a new bike, mind you, not another hand-me-down from my cousin Greg, even if it has a new coat of paint. I mean, c'mon, who did you think you were fooling with a paint job so fresh it was still tacky on Christmas morning? Greg watched as I unwrapped it and he giggled uncontrollably. After dinner, I took him out to the garage and beat him senseless. Honestly, I don't think he was expecting a black eye and a split lip. And I've always heard it was better to give than receive. Now I know that it's true.

As compensation for my disappointment at receiving his old bike, Greg gave me his new DVD player. At subsequent family gatherings throughout the year, he gave me his wristwatch and iPod, but what I found most intriguing and instructional was his collection of DVDs, particularly “The Godfather”, “Goodfellas”, “Casino”, and “The Sopranos”. Greg offered these as gifts as a way of avoiding further misunderstandings. Most of the time, the bruises didn't even show.

But getting back to that bike, Santa, I'd like something special, a bike that would make all my friends envious. So a discount store bike is out of the question. Even a run-of-the-mill Trek or Cannondale wouldn't have the style I'm seeking. Something hand-made by a craftsman steeped in the traditions of decades of bicycling might be more suitable. I'd like a bike that's both aesthetically pleasing and brutally functional, art and speed combined in one purpose built machine.

I know that's asking a lot, Santa, and it may be difficult to come up with such a bike on short notice. If it's not possible to find one, please consider falling back on Plan B. I know you wouldn't want me to be disappointed.



PS – Tell the elves their contributions this month were a little short. We'll have a meeting about that after the first of the year.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Ice Storm Update 5 - final post this subject

All the people working to restore our lives to normal deserve a most humble, grateful thank you. Police, fire, and ambulance crews answered calls almost continuously. The Owasso Fire Department answered a record 65 calls in a 24 hour period. Police officers were equally harried.

But this event involved more than emergency services, of course. Public Works employees struggled to clear streets of fallen trees and get traffic lights working again once power returned. Amazingly, city workers did this and maintained regular trash pickups. For that matter, the Post Office delivered our mail every day too, a note of normalcy in a world otherwise gone awry.

The linemen who worked outside in nasty conditions deserve our special thanks. They have a dangerous job in the best of times, and that danger is compounded by cold, fatigue, and the pressure to get the job done. Quite literally, restoring power saves lives.

Finally, I know there are others I haven't listed both in government and the private sector, people who worked and continue to work at mitigating the effects of this disaster. Truly, you've earned our heartfelt thanks.


Owasso Ice Storm Update 4 (Revised)

(There will be one more post on this subject, probably later today, and then I'll return to the usual drivel, whining, snarky comments, and wild innuendo that is normally found here. That is, unless I manage to remove some body parts with the chainsaw later today. The final post will be a thank-you for all the people who are working so hard to return our lives to normal.)

Our power came back on at about 3PM CST. I originally intended to do regular updates throughout the day, but that plan went south when we lost electricity. For some reason, these here computers and things don't work well without it.

But before this laptop died completely - because some big dummy who looks a lot like me forgot to pack the power supply - I made a very rough list of notes that I'll expand upon in the next day or two. It may take some time because there's much to do here at home. I cleared branches from the yard and tried - unsuccessfully - to get the chainsaw started.

That's just outside. Here in the house, there's laundry and dishes piled up. The carpet in the bathroom is damp from the ice incursion. There's much to do.

So, until later, here's my rough list. I was reduced to writing (gasp!) in a notebook with a pencil, an analog form of communication rarely used these days except for grocery lists. It will take some time to transpose/translate all that into an electronic form.

One or two last thoughts. Our house came through undamaged. We've lost several trees, including Mary's beloved redbud. But the mature oak and pine are probably going to be OK.

I'll flesh this out later............Ed

Icde storm update 4

we stil don't have power as of 5AM Wednsday

As I went to work, I was hopeful that power would be restored sometime during the day. Street lights were on and the traffic signals on the arterials were working again. But the west side of town was still dark.

hose cold and dark. Gasl og helps

The house was indeed cold and dark. We lit candles and carried flashlights. The big Maglites kept disappearing, though. You'd think that a 3 D cell flashlight would be easy to find, but they had a pesky habit of turning up in some unusual places. I keep a smaller one in my pocket for work. It was used so frequently that the batteries died. Mostly, I used it to go looking for the big flashlights.

Wade installed a gas log in our fireplace a few years ago. I'm grateful to have it in these conditions. It's not very efficient, but once it heats the fireplace bricks, it radiates heat throughout the living room and kitchen. And it throws enough light to see by in the living room. Still, I'd like to have a reading light, maybe another Aladdin lamp. They're common in Amish country, les common around here. (FIND PHOTO OF ALADDIN LAMP AND LINK)

panera lst night very crowded people waiting for tables. Wi fi very slow due to connec

Panera's Wi-Fi was very slow, almost like dial-up because so many people were connected. I've never seen that many people in there! A line formed from the counter, snaked around in the dining room, and reached the front door. People hovered over tables, hoping the occupants would leave. Some of them were obviously settled in for the evening and wouldn't budge. Two guys were waiting for our table as it was apparent that we were leaving. I could see that some folks were torn between trying to snag a table or keeping their place in the serving line. No wonder tempers are frayed in other areas, but more on that in a moment.

many areas getting pwr restored today. Trafficsignal working ok

Co-workers reported seeing caravans of power company trucks moving along area roadways, many of them from out of state. I'd love to have some photos of them. (Later) The Tulsa World has a photo of a fleet of trucks parked at the county fairgrounds. If possible, I'll go down there early some morning for some photos.

most businesses open

As I write this early on Thursday morning, I can say that most Owasso area businesses are open, though the restaurants over in Smith Farms were still closed when I went by there last night. It looked like they had power restored, so I imagine they'll be open today.

area to our east has power but we did not

We drove through the neighborhood after dinner on Tuesday, traveling from east to west and encountering normally lit houses. But the dividing line couldn't have been more distinct. One block was lit, but the next one was dark. Mary had been getting her hopes up, imagining that the power company had repaired our lines while we were away. But it was not to be.

'govt shoud have prevented this' acc to one conspiracy guy

It's easy to second-guess in any situation like this, and of course our shop has a resident pessimist/conspiracy theory fan who said that the storm's impact was greater because our government agencies were unprepared. There's little point in arguing with people like this because they're happiest when a mysterious cabal is engaging in Machiavellian plots against them. Regardless, our local government was on top of the situation from the beginning, and we owe our thanks to those people in law enforcement, the fire department, ambulance services, public works, and all the other departments who did much to mitigate the effects of this disaster. And our special thanks to the linemen and utility workers who restored our power and communications. This will be the subject of a separate post.

another bitches incesantly about schools having power while he does not. Shoul dpen shelter in school.

There ain't no pleasin' some people.

Many limbs down, roads blocked, most trees in yard damaged, may lose oak, redbud, others

(GET PHOTO OF 66TH STREET NORTH) While our trees are damaged, they're not as bad as some others. My neighbor's maple and willow trees are completely destroyed. Our mature pine and oak were damaged, but they'll likely survive. The redbud isn't down, but its trunk is cracked. A pine in the back yard is snapped in half. Lots of chainsaw work in the immediate future.

pecan grove destroyed

The pecan grove along Mingo Road is heavily damaged. The crop wasn't good this year. It will be worse next year.

forgot power supply for laptop today. Forgot VHF/UHF scanner radio also

I left the power supply and my radio sitting on the kitchen table, right out in the open where I wouldn't forget them. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I have a serial brain early in the day.

(From notebook)

road to anarchy? Descent to anarchy?

I'm wondering if the descent to anarchy starts this way, with a disastrous event that overwhelms local government and services. Most people would wait patiently for improving conditions, but the events unfolding around them would slowly deteriorate until they found themselves in an end-of-the-world scenario.

Example of how to write?

If anyone is wondering...yes...this is how I lay out a post for CycleDog. It begins as a list of ideas. Then I flesh out those ideas and add to them, stringing them together is some logical form. It ain't pretty.

Near-universal greeting “do you hav e poser yet?”

And in keeping with the above...this is an example of my atrocious spelling! This it the near-universal greeting around here. “Hi, Ed. Do you have power yet?” I'm thinking it really should relate to one of those fantasy combat games like World of Warcraft. “Why yes, I've gained the power of the infernal Belch of Byzantium! Stand back, fool!”

fistfights over gasoline and batteries

There were reports of fistfights over gasoline and batteries. I can imagine that since the battery rack at Atwoods was bare last night.

generators sold out within minutes – some reports of price gouging

The Oklahoma Attorney General's office had some reports of price gouging involving hotel rooms, generators, and other scarce commodities. There was a local report of a store selling generators and adding a 'shipping charge' of $50 to each unit since they had to truck them in from out of state. When you think about it, the regular price should cover shipping.

warm front in bathroom meets cold front from hallway in our bedroom, it rains.

This takes some 'splainin'. Our bathroom is on the north end of the house and the gas log is on the south end. The bathroom was definitely chilly. But I needed a shower, so I turned up the hot water and got in and out as quickly as possible. When I finished, the bathroom was fogged in. Honest, this wasn't a light mist or a little condensation on the mirror. It was a thick fog that obscured the other side of the room. I joked with Mary that I was afraid to open the door because the warm front from the bathroom could meet the cold front from the hallway, and it would rain in our bedroom. “What about tornadoes?” she asked. It's been a long time since we had a tornado in our bedroom and I offered to assist her in looking for one. “It's too cold!” she said.

worst disaster to hit tulsa.

This is the worst disaster in Tulsa's history. As I finish writing this on Friday morning, there are still over 150,000 people without power. My employer's response? Get back to work.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice storm update 3

It's just after 6AM as I write this. The power went out at my house about 12 hours ago. This time, it's out all over Owasso except for those businesses with generators. There are 2 shopping areas to our west and south. With the low-hanging clouds, their lights reflected off the cloud layer and gave the neighborhood a dim glow. Outside, it was nearly as bright as a full moon. Enough dim light filtered in through the windows so that we could move around without bumping into things. A light fog settled in making it difficult to see at ground level, but the eerie glow coming from above was welcome.

At mid-afternoon yesterday, Jordan called Panera and offered to work if they needed him. They did. The restaurant had their highest grossing day ever! When I arrived to take Jordan home, Martin, the store manager, said they were down to one kind of soup and they had only 3 or 4 bagels left. No bread, no sandwiches, no salads, no panini. I've never seen that place looking so bare.

Driving was odd too, because there were no streetlights or traffic lights. Owasso Public Works put out temporary 4-way stop signs at all the signalized intersections, but crossing them was still a crap shoot. Many people didn't see the signs in the fog or they simply ignored them.


At noon today, the temperature was 33F. Radar shows ice to our north and west, with rain in the Tulsa area. That could change to ice. Let's hope it doesn't. There's a steady stream of showers moving from southwest to northeast directly over us. A slight change in temperature could be disastrous.

Rumors abound as they always do in situations like this. One co-worker told me the power wouldn't be on until this time next week. Another said it better be on in his neighborhood when he gets home or “there will be hell to pay.” I guess those businesses with generators have some unfair advantage as far as he's concerned.

I'm writing this during lunch. The maintenance base has it's own generators so we have lights and heat. I was told the 400 Hz aircraft power has been on and off, but I don't use it, so I can't confirm that.

Owasso Public Works just said that the power is on along 76th Street, so they're removing the temporary stop signs because the signals are operating. I haven't heard anything about my neighborhood yet, but I'm hoping Mary will call soon to tell be the lights work again. She was worried that we'd lose everything in the freezer. Jordan would have to force himself to eat nearly a half-gallon of ice cream, but he'd throw himself on that grenade for the greater good of the family. What can I say? The kid is selfless.

(Later still)

It's just before 5PM. Our power is still out. I took a quick shower when I got home from work. Afterward, the warm front from the bathroom met the cold front coming down the hallway, and Mary wondered if we'd get tornadoes in the bedroom.

Several trees in our yard are damaged to the point that they'll have to be removed, including the large oak out front. I'll miss that tree.

Of course, I'll write more about this, but for now, just know that we're OK. The house may be a little bit chilly and dark, but it's still habitable. You don;t want to know what it's like to shave by candlelight. I'm not too sure I want to know, either.

I'm posting this from Panera via their wi-fi.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Ice Storm Update 2

Owasso PD is experiencing electrical problems. They're concerned that central dispatching and 911 service may be disrupted. The dispatchers control fire, police, and ambulance communications.

They're apparently running on battery power.

(from KOTV)
Red Cross has set up shelters at the following locations:

  • First Baptist Church, 3rd & Cincinnati in Tulsa
  • Tulsa Day Center, 102 North Denver in Tulsa
  • First Baptist Church, 1301 W. Main in Collinsville
  • Community Center, 420 Plaza Court in Sand Springs
  • Freedom Baptist at 96st Street N. & 177th East Ave. in Owasso
  • 1st Christian Church at 86th Street N. & 122nd East Ave. in Owasso
  • St. John's Episcopal, 522 W. Canadian in Vinita
  • The Masonic Lodge in Mannford
  • First Baptist Church, 200 S. Elm in Sapulpa
  • Assembly of God, 1815 Steve Owens Blvd. in Miami
  • 1st Methodist Church, 1615 N Highway 88 in Claremore
  • Nowata Fire Department, 400 South Locust in Nowata

For more information, contact your local police department or the American Red Cross at 918-831-1100.

I was unable to find any information on Salvation Army efforts, and unfortunately, my VHF scanner is out of service.


Ice Storm update

I'm trying to get this finished quickly so it may be a little rough. I can hear thunder in the distance. Radar shows another line of freezing rain coming toward us. Trees are still crashing to the ground and the extra ice may put our power out again. So very quickly, here are some photos. Go look at flickr for the full set.

It's getting dark rapidly. Since we lost power for hours yesterday, I don't expect it will remain on for long today. We pretty much used up all the candles we had. I'll look for more at the grocery today, but it's probably hopeless.

Our redbud tree next to the kitchen began to sag toward teh window. I'm sitting next to it. I ran outside with a pruner and cut the branches back. Now I'm soaked and shivering. I'll post this and go chanfge.


Local News: Ice Storm Owasso

Heard on the Owasso Police Department radio:

A Collinsville church located at 13th and Main is offering shelter to area residents displaced by the ice storm.

Freedom Church located at 96th and 177th is offering meals to area residents.
(Update 10:30 AM CST - the American Red Cross will be staffing Freedom Church and will be supplying cots and blankets.)

Police, fire, and ambulance crews have been responding to traffic crashes, downed power lines, and fires due to shorted power lines, as well as their regular calls. These good people are working their butts off and they deserve our heart-felt thanks.

I'll be posting some photos as soon as I can get organized. The full set will be on my Cycledog page in Flickr, but I'll put some here as well.

More later....


Friday, December 07, 2007

Just for Fritz!

(Image of Hello Kitty urinal target from Hello Kitty Hell)

Fritz said, "People keep pointing me to this this Hello Kitty Tire. Enough already!" I wouldn't dream of piling on.

I found these relatively easily, some Hello Kitty haiku!

From What Would Phoebe Do:

"Seagulls may swoop low,
But I only hear the wind.
Kitty in motion!"

"With a splash we leap
and plunge beneath the surface!
oops- I lost my bow!"

"Entranced by the koi
I did not hear you approach
won't you walk with me?"

And my own contribution:

My tires spin around
Happy tread prints follow the path

"On your left" Fritz yells.

Think of it as a kind of early Christmas gift. No, no. There's no need to thank me.

(Why, yes, I do have a twisted sense of humor.)

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My son: Superhero

(Image from Tutto Bene!)

Some of you may recognize that movie poster, more commonly known as The Bicycle Thief here in the US. And of course it's related to the story I have for you today.

Yesterday afternoon, Jordan was hanging around with some of his buds, "my peeps" as he calls them, when a kid from another neighborhood ran up on a nearby porch and stole a bicycle! The kid took off down the hill before any of the onlookers could react. They yelled at him, but of course he didn't stop. The boys went over to the house to tell an adult that the bike was gone. Jordan knows the boy who owns the bike. His mother called the police.

Meanwhile, the thief decided to do something really, really stupid. He circled the block so he could taunt the kids who yelled. Jordan saw him coming down the hill and ran to intercept.

Now, our 'perp' was westbound toward a T intersection. The route north was uphill, so he would have to turn south as he did in his original getaway.

Jordan cut the corner, running southwest across a vacant lot and hit the thief, knocking him from the bike. The kid got up and ran. Jordan picked up the bike and returned it to the owner's mother.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How many bicycling advocates can dance on the head of a pin?

(Rube Goldberg image from

On the LCI email list, someone posted the following regarding lane positioning:

2. Safety

* Do not ride where you are subject to poor road conditions constant hazards
* Give yourself ample room to your right to maneuver in an emergency
* Ride in the right third of the lane if there is not sufficient room for lane sharing

The discussion has revolved around whether it's best to ride in that right-hand third and realize there's a potential for motorists to attempt to 'squeeze by' in the same lane, or move further to the left and force them to pass only when safe.

My advice is to ride with two thirds of the lane to your left and one third of it to your right. Assuming the typical Oklahoma lane width of 12 feet, this puts 8 feet to your left and 4 feet to the right, pretty much squarely in the right hand tire track.

But bike advocates being bike advocates....

The discussion quickly devolved to a comparison of the minutiae of individual teaching points and personal beliefs.

So, here's my unvarnished, fully detailed description of lane positioning, taking into account prevailing traffic, lane width (in millimeters), the solunar tables, wind direction, time of day, sun angle, local religious and sexual practices, previous experience with lane use in that particular area with special attention to the historic record of indigenous nomadic people who may have used that roadway and their archaeological artifacts, sales records of American automobiles, trends in NRA memberships, tall, blond women of Scandinavian ancestry and their shoes, tire pressure, the Dow Jones average....and what the hell were we talking about?


Monday, December 03, 2007


(Image from

This article appears in the latest Bicycling magazine. It's long and detailed, and may provoke some frustration and anger. The following are my thoughts on it Please feel free - as always - to add your own thoughts in comments..........Ed

Broken.......Bicycling Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008 issue

by David Darlington

Every time we take to the open road, we entrust our lives to a safety net of legal protection and basic human decency. That system has failed.”

Darlington highlights several horrendous crashes involving cyclists and motor vehicles, and pays special attention to the aftermath. These were not 'accidents' which would imply they were unavoidable acts of God. Crashes have causation, a chain of events that, if any link were broken, would prevent the incident. Sadly, too many people die as a result of other's bad choices, whether they're impaired by alcohol or drugs, or they're distracted by something that takes their attention away from the road ahead. In writing this piece, I'm going to use 'impaired' as a catch-all covering alcohol, drugs, or anything that diverts a motorists attention from safe driving.

...It was just an accident...hit by uninsured driver...pickup struck and killed...SUV struck her...SUV struck and killed him...died on a four-person ride when a log truck attempted to pass her single-file group on a tight turn...a freeway in Santa Cruz had a left exit and you had to cross three lines of traffic...SUV struck...just miles from their home...hit from behind in over by an elderly man with macular degeneration...victim of a hit-and-run...driver attempting an illegal pass...”

Normally, I'd expect an article like this to follow a problem/solution format. And while there are some conclusions to be drawn, there's very little in the way of suggestions to prevent similar injuries and fatalities. Since this is a cycling magazine, the viewpoint predictably is that of cyclists. No mention is made of those cyclists who are killed or injured due to their own actions, yet this is something we should not ignore. There's something to learn from every crash. In my industry, commercial aviation, crashes are analyzed in depth to determine the cause in order to avoid a similar crash in the future. Human error is responsible for 85% of aviation accidents, and by examining these “human factors” we can gain insight into prevention. There is no doubt this approach saves lives. I believe we should investigate all transportation-related crashes with similar intensity. I've included a brief list of human factors at the end of this article along with their relationship to bicycling crashes. There's also a link to further information from the FAA.

The argument here doesn't revolve around facilities or the lack of them. Indeed, three of these people were injured or killed while riding in a bike lane or on a road shoulder, presumably safe places for cycling. Adding more bike lanes, or cycling-friendly laws like the 3 feet minimum passing clearance would have no effect on similar crashes because the motorists were distracted, drunk, or possibly drugged. The magic paint line denoting a bike lane would not have prevented these deaths, yet one of the knee-jerk reactions is a call for more facilities in order to make cyclists 'safe' rather than targeting dangerous behavior. We already have laws regarding driving under the influence, and some states have laws designed to reduce the danger associated with distracted driving. Typically, these prohibit cell phone use unless it's a hands-free unit. Yet, we're still seeing traffic deaths totaling over 40,000 per year. It seems that existing law has little effect on preventing injuries and deaths. We need another approach. We need to change behavior and expectations long before someone gets behind the wheel of a car.

I'm very tempted to propose draconian penalties for drunk, drugged, or otherwise impaired drivers. For instance, prohibit anyone convicted of a drunk driving offense from owning a vehicle – ever. Require that DMV maintain a database of offenders and compare it with motor vehicle records whenever a license is renewed or a new license plate is requested. Prohibit them from having a driver's license ever again. And back it up with asset seizure if necessary.

But while such harsh penalties have a feel-good aspect to them, I seriously doubt they'll have any immediate effect. Too many people who've had their licenses revoked simply continue driving. The chances of being caught are relatively small.

So I think we have to change perceptions and get people to value their driver's licenses more, perhaps by making them more difficult and more expensive to obtain in the first place.

Naturally, Bicycling has their own recommendations.

Take Action

Find local friends

Connect with other cyclists and your local advocacy group.

Learn from the leaders

Avery Stonich, marketing and communications manager for the bike Belong Coalition, suggests taking cues from other successful bike advacacy groups” like LAB, TA, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

Set goals

Know the law in your area as well as community needs. Establish both short-term and long-term goals, like changing a particular law or creating a bicycling master plan.


Know the local politicians and bureaucrats. Know who pulls the strings.

Be specific.

Have a narrowly defined goal in mind when speaking with the pols and bureaucrats.

Is it getting unequivocal yes and no.

Since 1995, the total number of cyclists (according to NSGA figures) has declined from 56 million to 43 million in 2005. Yet rate of cycling deaths increased from 1 per 10,800 to 1 per 7,100 over that same period. The inverse relationship between the numbers of cyclists on the roads and the number of deaths and injuries seems to indicate that as more people ride bicycles it becomes a safer activity.

One really good, really simple idea,

This is the 3-feet minimum clearance passing law that's gaining favor across the nation. It supplements the usual language about the responsibliity of an overtaking drivers to pass safely. But would it have prevented these crashes? Probably not. The problem isn't the law, whether it a 3 feet minimum pass. The problem is impaired driving, not cyclists behavior.


Several European nations...have slashed their annual traffic-fatality figures over the past few decades, largely through “traffic calming” measures that forcibly reduce the speeds of motor vehicles.” Great Britain reduced fatalities by over a third when use of CCTV became wide spread and motorists realized their chances of being penalized for traffic infractions had greatly increased. CCTV is the big stick.

(We must) “acknowledge the fact that being inattentive at the wheel of a car is criminal”...we need to change the language we use to describe the consequences. “call them crashes,” she says. “Not accidents.”

If the public thinks it's just those crazy people who were killed, they don't have any reason to get involved...We had to show that a bicyclist isn't just something in your way – it's somebody's dad, or dentist, or doctor.”

We have numerous laws intended to reduce traffic fatalities – the stick – but we need to change the culture for motorists – the carrot. As I said up above, one approach may be to make getting a driver's license harder and more expensive. Maybe then drivers will place a higher value on keeping their licenses. But if we can add a monetary incentive as well, the prospect of having a little more cash in their pockets could be even more effective. I'll admit that I don't have a wealth of ideas on this, but as I've said before, there's no one as smart as all of us put together. So feel free to add your ideas in comments.

Human Factors

This list was developed from the Human Factors course information in use at my place of employment. A link to the FAA's HF page is provided below.


Distraction is thought to be responsible for 15% of all aviation accidents and incidents. The following items on this list often aren't single issues when it comes to air crashes. They tend to overlap.

Lack of Teamwork is a failure to share goals. In cycling terms, this could be something as simple as not informing everyone on a group ride of the intended route.

Fatigue. Mental or physical exhaustion that may have a slow onset, so subtle the individual is unaware. Fatigue impacts our judgment and reaction times in much the same way as alcohol.

Lack of Resources. In aviation, this is meant to address the absence of technical support, tooling, shelter, etc, that can effect how a job is performed. For a cyclist, this may mean performing a job without the proper tools, leading to substandard quality and reliability.

Lack of Assertiveness. Be assertive when you see an unsafe condition or practice. Don't confuse being assertive with being aggressive. How many of us see another cyclist do something we know is unsafe, yet we keep quiet about it.

Stress. The acute manifestation of stress is road rage. It's more common in motorists than cyclists, but we're not immune. Fortunately, the easiest solution to stress is to simply pedal faster.

Lack of Awareness. This is not the same as lack of knowledge. Lack of awareness implies a failure to anticipate possible outcomes or consequences.

Norms are unwritten rules or behaviors, often reflected by a majority of the group. The group riding practice of yelling, “Clear!” as the whole pack rides through an intersection is an example of a norm.

Lack of Communication. As I said above, there's significant overlap in all these factors, and lack of communication is significant in almost all of them.

Complacency results from constant repetition. “We've always done it that way!” Another description for a cyclist would be habit formation. “I always run that stop sign!”

Lack of Knowledge is the failure to have the training, information, or ability necessary to complete a task.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

A winter jersey idea...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd like a winter cycling jersey that makes me look like this guy. All that foam would be plenty warm, but it would probably need some ventilation. Maybe a vertical row of surgical sutures down the front?

(Image from Seattlest)

There's ample precedent for such a jersey, of course. Just remember Super Mario at the prologue for the Giro. Cippolini was fined for wearing this skin suit and he didn't do well in the time trial, but more importantly he got his photo and his sponsor's logos on the front pages. Wearing this in Oklahoma might get me arrested.

(Image from The Daily Peleton)

Now, Mario had the actual musculature to complement the skin suit. I'm not exactly quite as buffed. In fact, I better resemble Patrick O'Grady's Old Guy Who Gets Fat In Winter.

(Image from with links to O'Grady's book)

I was thinking about writing something about the holiday eating season, but in truth, I've been slowly gaining weight all summer, fifteen pounds in total. It's tempting to blame it all on others, especially She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and her understudy, Number One Daughter, but when I'm being honest I have to admit it's my own lack of will power. Instead of eating what I need, I eat what I want, and that's a bad habit. It's also a tough habit to break.

So don't think I'm being anti-social when I turn down the double-fudge, ultra chocolate brownies your wife made just for our shop dinner. It's one on my rare exhibitions of will power.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Pardon me while I have a strange interlude."

Mrs. Rittenhouse: Captain, this leaves me speechless.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, see that you remain that way.

That quotation in the title up above is from the classic Marx brothers comedy, "Animal Crackers." It's very appropriate considering the morning I've had.

As usual, Wade and I were solving the world's problems over coffee and bagels from our regular table at Panera. I used their free Wi-Fi service to check my email on this laptop. Wade pulled out his 'do-everything' phone to check his messages. That reminded me to turn on my own phone. I checked voice mail too.

In the middle of all this, a woman and her young daughter sat down at the next table.

Wade and I talked for a little longer, then decided to go by Lowes. He needed a few items and I needed to find a replacement light switch for the kid's bathroom. First, though, he wanted to stop at Kohls to get a gift for his girlfriend.

I wandered up the main aisle at Kohls while he got the gift. The woman from the coffee shop walked up behind me and said, "You frightened my daughter! You were taking photos of us!"

At first, I thought she was talking to another guy in the aisle, so I turned away. "You! You were taking pictures!" That's when I realized she was talking to me.

"I didn't take any pictures, mam." A denial was useless because she went right on, saying how distraught she and her daughter were. Wade walked up and offered to let her look through the images on his camera phone, but she left in a huff.

Now, I'm fairly thick-skinned when it comes to riding a bicycle on the street and meeting the odd moron or two, but this is the first time I've been accosted like this inside a store. The encounter and her obvious anger were entirely unexpected. I fought down the impulse to escalate with a heart-felt.....ah....string of creative, yet highly insulting profanities.

As Wade and I walked out of the store, I reviewed what I know about taking photos in public. As far as I know, we can have no expectation of privacy in a public place. People can take photographs for private use and we may object, but there's nothing illegal about the practice. However, if a recognizable image is used for advertising purposes, a model release is required. If a photo is used for an editorial purpose such as illustrating a news item, permissions or releases are not required.

It may be rude and more than a little creepy to take candid photos of unknowing subjects, but I don't do that. It's certainly rude and more than a little creepy to be shouted at inside a store early in the morning.

Merry f***in' Christmas.