Monday, April 27, 2009

Do cyclists impede traffic?

It appears that my 'serious' posts will be on the Examiner, and the lighter fare will be over here. As evidence, I give you "Do cyclists impede traffic?"

I'm going to plead with She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed for a copy of Mionske's book.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Did I write about this?

I had to go look because I couldn't remember. Then it occured to me that I'd sent something to George about it. I sent this:

Last weekend, our relatively new but high mileage washing machine broke down. The Maytag repairman stopped by to check it out. By the way, he doesn't look anything like the commercials. No spiffy, spotlessly clean uniform. No hat. Just greasy jeans and a t-shirt. And I have no reference of comparison for 'plumber's crack' since they don't show that on TV.

Mary chose a new washer up at Home Depot. It's supposed to be delivered sometime this morning. So in preparation for that, Jordan and I took the old one out last night. It hung up on the carpet. I pulled hard to free it, but when it popped up, I lost my grip and dropped it on my big toe. Expletive! Expletive! Expletive! Jordan wanted to take me to the hospital. I declined somewhat forcefully. It's not broken, but it really hurt. This morning, it's still hurting and it's black and blue, but it's not swollen like a sausage.

That was yesterday. I was tempted to post a photo in order to elicit more sympathy, but I'll spare you. Let's just say that it's improving but it looks awful. The worst part is that I need the big toe for balance, and it's surprising to discover just how often I bang my foot against something. I've been walking with a cane to help with stability. It slows me down too, so I'm less inclined to roll my foot.

The washer landed just ahead of the main joint. There's a noticeable line across it. The pain has spread well up into the foot at times, and even my leg muscles are stiff and sore from the change in my gait. My biggest fear is that I'll get night cramps in that foot. The pain would be extreme.

Yes, I'm such a whiner! George, however, was gracious. He's in more pain that me.

Riding a bike is impossible, of course. I was hoping to ride to work this week if my schedule gets back to normal. Driving isn't one of my favorite things, but if it makes the difference between getting up at 4AM rather than 3AM, I'll drive, thank you.

Now, if you've managed to stay with me through all that, I have a favor to ask. Since my laptop shuffled off its mortal coil two weeks ago, I lost all my address information. I need to rebuild it. Just click on the email link on my profile page (and don't worry about it going to Wally. We keep in touch.) your address will appear almost magically in my in-box! Imagine that.

When I thought about it, I began to wonder if the washing machine and laptop had formed some kind of murder/suicide pact, and their spirits are now off living in sin in some machine Utopia.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Photos from Bartlesville Traffic Skills 101

This is just a simple photo dump from my Flickr account. The text is posted on the Examiner. Above, Brian instructs the group before we leave for the parking lot drills.

Post lunch discussion of the on-road session and what we would be looking for in the group.

Mmmm. Food, glorious food!

'Arty' shot. Next time I'll get down low so I can see the viewfinder!

The ever patient instructor compiling grades.


A response to Bernie Moonie's bicycle menace

I just posted a response to Bernie Moonie's "bicycle menace" piece on the Examiner. And yes, it's snarky!


Also, I have a piece ready for the Bartlesville Road1 class we presented on Saturday. But first, I have to clean out the garage in preparation for delivery of a new washing machine on Friday. Yep, first my laptop went, then the washing machine. Ours isn't more than 3 years old, but it's very high mileage. Trust me, clean underwear is a necessity, not a luxury.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Musette

Ah, the rare Sunday musette! I have a couple of short pieces for you today.

Bartlesville Road1

Yes, we had a Road1 course in Bartlesville yesterday. Forgive me, but despite LAB's name change, I still think of it as Road1, not Traffic Skills 101. But then I still use the occasional "League of American Wheelmen" moniker from time to time. It must have something to do with my age.

I'll have a longer post with some photos soon. But I have to say this now - yesterday's class was the best we've had so far. The group consisted of cyclists with varying levels of experience, as almost every class does. This one was articulate, attentive, and appreciative. Brian, Gary, and I had a fun time teaching. And as I've said repeatedly, bike riding is supposed to be fun, so learning about it should be fun as well.

Laptop news

I should have a replacement laptop later today. Yes, I'm still using my daughter's and I think she'll be relieved to see me using my own machine. The sign in screen on this one lists the number of unread mail messages for each user. My number is very high. This bothers her because she's Miss Neatness and insists that everything be tidy.

Once I have the laptop, I'll post those photos from Bartlesville.

The Crazy Cat Lady

Mary is a far better wife than I deserve. She's soft-hearted when it comes to animals, considerably less so when it comes to me. We've adopted numerous strays, taken in orphans, and tamed down some feral kittens.

The source of most feral kittens in our neighborhood has been Emma, a female about 3 or 4 years old. She was pregnant again through the winter. Mary coaxed her into the house about three weeks ago where she quickly learned the mysteries of the kitchen and the feeding schedule. Since she was pregnant, we fed her chicken livers twice a day, good nutrition for a momma cat. On Easter, she had 4 fat kittens.

At 3AM Thursday morning, Mary woke me and put a small, sopping wet kitten in my hands. She thought one of the other cats had tried to kill it, but a quick count showed 4 kittens still huddled up next to Emma. Where did the fifth one come from?

In a few minutes, we realized that another very young cat, hardly more than a kitten herself, was the momma. Angel (a misnomer of the first order) is only about 8 months old. She's one of the feral cats we took in at Christmas. We knew she was fat, but the cat eats constantly. She's a feline garbage disposal. No one realized she was pregnant.

I'll have photos of the kittens up soon, too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday update

(In the absence of a laptop computer, I composed this in my Moleskine. It appears much as it was written, warts and all.)

April 15th - Tax Day! And I finished early this year! Well, Monday.

My Compaq laptop died Sunday afternoon right after Paris-Roubaix. It has all of CycleDog, Lanterne Rouge, and the Examiner files trapped on its hard drive. I'll recover them, but it will be some time before that happens.

Last night was the bike build event for the Tulsa Tough Kid's Challenge. I thought it was tonight! Oops. I wanted to get some photos and write about it. Big screw up on my part.

I'm suffering from a lack of ideas and being cut off from my idea folders doesn't help. Even if I'm having a bad day I can find something to write in those folders. It's annoying to have to re-build them, though I can go back and re-purpose some of the CycleDog material for the Examiner. Luckily, I sent this month's Lanterne Rouge to Susan already. I was well ahead of the deadline. Imagine that.

My writing is suffering too. The usual process is to toss new ideas into a text file and save them. In the morning, I open one and leave it on my desktop through the day, adding ideas as they occur to me, and ultimately using that list as the basis of an outline. The outline gets fleshed out with more sentences and rough paragraphs. It often gets re-roganized in the process. Using a computer simplifies it, of course.

But right now I'm writing in a Moleskine notebook - with a pencil. Granted, it's a nice mechanical pencil with a 0.9 mm lead, but it doesn't do any spelling correction. Maybe the next generation of pencils will include that feature.

I write best early in the day. Maybe it's the confluence of caffeine and ideas. Maybe I'm just more creative before I'm fully aswake. I write a lot just after lunch, too, so maybe it has something to do with food. But I can't write well in the evenings - too many interruptions.

The typical Wally Crankset story starts with an initial idea and the ending comes next. The fun part is trying to connect the dots in between. That's why I use the list and outline. Some really funny ideas don't make the cut so everything gets saved for re-use later.

So the take away is this - being without my laptop is like trying to write left handed. I can do it, but I can't do it well. For the time being, my daughter is sharing her laptop very generously. But it's still difficult. I'm looking forward to returning to my routine. That probably won't happen until next week.

(Thursday. As I left work last night, a friend who knew of my predicament offered me one of his laptops, a Toshiba identical to the one I bought for Jordan on his birthday. I will gladly take it! Also, by a happy accident, I found a USB flash drive with most of the CycleDog and Lanterne Rouge files. The Examiner stuff is too recent, unfortunately. Regardless, I should be back up to speed over the weekend!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Major malfunction

My two-year-old Compaq laptop died without warning yesterday. All my drafts for CycleDog, the Examiner, and Wheel Issues are on its hard drive. The tech at our local computer repair said the laptop is toast because the power supply is on the main board and replacing it costs almost as much as another laptop.

Oh joy.

I'll scavenge the drive and the RAM out of it and most likely recover all the data. But it may take a week or so. I think there's a portable hard drive case out in the garage, but finding it will be another nightmare.

Stay tuned.

For the time being, I'm using Number One Daughter's laptop, an almost bullet-proof Toshiba. My email may be slow.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A quick note...

Just in case it comes up in casual conversation, "Auto-erotic asphyxiation" does NOT mean you get pleasurably choked up over cars. You don't want to know how I learned about that.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Examiner alternative transportation writer...

I have a new gig, writing about bicycling as alternative transportation at the Oklahoma City Examiner!

Here's the beginning of my self-introduction:

Where am I ? How did I get here? There are real writers at the Examiner, people who know about past participles, the pluperfect tense, epostulatory corpuscles and the like. I was that kid in English class who kept his head down in the vain hope that the teacher would never call on him.

But how did I get here? This writing journey began about 20 years ago when the editor of an amateur radio newsletter asked if I could contribute some articles. I'm a professional electronics technician, so I was interested in the tech side, but the pieces quickly devolved into comedy. I found a character, earnest but not overly bright, who may not be far removed from my own. It's been a merry downhill run ever since.

That character, of course, is Dr. Wally Crankset. I'm not sure the Examiner is ready for him, but it's awfully hard to keep him out of my posts. Time will tell.

The Examiner offers a chance at a larger audience - not that there's anything wrong with those of you reading CycleDog regularly. The obvious satire and occasional rant would probably go better here, but I haven't read enough of the Examiner pieces to get a feel for their limits yet.

So, I'm not saying goodbye. Not by a long shot. But like any conscientious cyclist, I signal before a change in direction.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

OT: It's prom weekend in Owasso

The Owasso High School prom is tomorrow night. That dapper young man getting fitted for a tuxedo is none other than my son Jordan. He looks good in a tux - just like his old man. We were pressed for time because he finished school for the day at 2:30 and was supposed to be at work by 3:00. We passed one of the tux rental shops and it was mobbed. Jordan hoped that the Men's Wearhouse wouldn't be crowded, and luckily, it wasn't. He ordered this about a week ago.

Like I said, he looks good! He wasn't aware that I was taking these photos, and in all honesty, they have a little bit of blur in the full size shots. This was handheld with long telephoto under florescent light.

We also met Arthur, King of the Britons, and exchanged the requisite courtesies befitting a monarch. Actually, this is Zack Anderson. You didn't really think it was Arturius, did you? Zack is studying a section on Arthur in his English class and received extra credit for showing up in costume. When I was in school, everyone dressed like this, but admittedly that was a long time ago.

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