Sunday, February 28, 2010

Everyone likes a bargain

Olympus XA2

While I was out and about today, I stopped at our local Goodwill store and found this on a shelf in the back. This is an Olympus XA2, very similar to the XA I wrote about last week. The lens is one stop slower and it uses zone focusing rather than a rangefinder, not that it's a big deal with a 35mm lens. It has good depth of field.

The camera was inoperative when I picked it up. No shutter operation. The film wind didn't work, and a flick of the battery check switch revealed a dead battery. The XA series simply will not work without a battery, so when I got home a fresh pair went into the camera. Whaddaya know! It works! Of course the seals are shot and the self timer doesn't work, but other than that it's OK.

I haven't checked the A11 flash unit yet, though I did manage to get the battery cover off. It uses a single AA battery, and this one was slightly corroded. I'll clean that up before trying another battery. One thing I've discovered it that while vinegar is excellent at removing corrosion from leaky batteries, there's another chemical called Cramolin that protects the metal after the corrosion is removed. Better still, it facilitates conductivity.

Don't hate me, Steve. Here's the other good part.

Yep, it set me back the whopping sum of two dollars.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Breaking news...

The new refrigerator looks somewhat like this.

The venerable refrigerator here in Chateau CycleDog just went to that big appliance store in the sky. This constitutes a family emergency. Lowe's is now $1700 richer - as in nice carbon fiber bike richer - and in a few hours we will once again have the modern convenience of refrigeration....and an ice maker...a water dispenser...and another bill to pay.

Later - I was astonished at what a new refrigerator costs. The last one was in the $800 range, if I recall right, and that was almost exactly 22 years ago. In fact, it will be 22 years in June. But I can't complain much. We had good service from the old one. Let's hope the new one outlasts me.

I was hoping to get a new netbook with some of the overtime money, but it's going to cover the new fridge. I've been working alternating 8 and 12 hour shifts, so that totals 20 hours of OT every week. Some co-workers are doing six 12 hour days. That's too much for me. I'm drag-assed tired all the time as it is.

We had to remove the refrigerator from its box, and remove both the storm door and security door from the front of the house. We wrestled the beast inside only to discover that it won't fit under the cabinet! I need to take a saber saw to it tomorrow and cut off about half an inch of wood.

I really don't need this kind of excitement on a Saturday night, especially when I was just looking forward to coming home for a relaxing evening.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympus XA 35mm pocket camera

How do you like that? I took a macro photo with flash and had that lovely little reflection where it says 'OLYMPUS' with a ghost image. Dunno how it happened.

I bought this XA on Ebay a few days ago. The seller, furniturefire, said it had a stuck f-stop lever and that he didn't check it out other than that. He wanted $15 for it and $6 for shipping. I've always liked the XA, and since I'm trying to learn more about cameras, this was an excellent opportunity to learn.

I received an email saying the camera had been shipped. Shortly afterward, another arrived telling me that my money had been refunded! I contacted Dylan (furniturefire) about it. He replied that when he was boxing the camera, he realized there was a name inscribed on the back, and since the camera wasn't precisely as he'd described it, he couldn't take my money in good conscience.

He's a man of honesty and integrity. I really like that.

The camera arrived this afternoon. I think he took packaging lessons from my late mother-in-law. Her mission was to see that the good people at 3M worked lots of overtime and she did so by using their packing tape in large quantities. I couldn't help but smile, remembering her as I opened this box. Dylan filled it with styrofoam peanuts and he placed the camera in bubble wrap. Inside the bubble wrap was a layer of paper. Inside the paper, a plastic bag contained the XA. Each layer had its own tape holding it closed. Marvelous! Mom would have been proud of him.

The camera shows the usual problems for one of this vintage. The seals need to be replaced. The rangefinder needs to be cleaned. And that f-stop lever is definitely stuck. Fortunately, I have the Olympus XA maintenance manual and I'm hoping it's a straightforward job. I scrounged a couple of batteries too, finding that the meter, exposure system, and shutter release work. This camera uses an electromagnetic shutter release, so absent a battery, the camera is inoperable.

As for the name inscribed on the camera back, some judicious sanding and a coat of aircraft flat black should take care of it.

I'm looking forward to this project, though there's another camera in the queue ahead of it. I'm replacing the seals in a Canon AE-1 Program for a friend. It needs a bit of lubrication too, but that's a job for a shop with far more experience than me.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Photo details

Steve noticed an odd lens flare in this photo taken before dawn along the street in front of my house. There's a curving light path near the streetlight, and there's an odd little reflection near that car - just above 'dog' in the text.

Here's the streetlamp magnified. I increased the contrast to make the arc more visible.

This is the small reflection. I haven't the slightest idea as to the origin of these. It could be internal reflections in the Yashica lens. It could be a raindrop on the front of the lens. It could be a reflection from a shiny spot inside the lens barrel. I'll experiment with other cameras and lenses.

The Electro GT is back together and usable again. I locked down the rangefinder adjustment screws with spots of clear nail polish, and I gingerly cleaned all the surfaces in the rangefinder itself. It's possible to remove the coating from a front-surface mirror even in cleaning it, so I was understandably nervous. I dipped a cotton swab in lens cleaner and oh-so-gently wiped down the surfaces. Afterward, the rangefinder window was astonishingly different! Brightness and contrast were very noticeably improved. I'm a happy camper.

Sadly, I missed out on a Yashica Lynx 14, another old rangefinder with a 45mm f 1.4 lens. It was not to be. I'll have to prowl the flea markets and garage sales come spring.

I'm not so sure

Apparently there's a beauty contest coming up in Amsterdam. The two winners will be the podium girls at the end of the first stage of the Giro this year. OK, that's all well and good so far. But several entrants are gay men, bringing up the possibility of podium guys kissing the winner. Amsterdam has a large gay population as it is a very tolerant city, and the Green Left party is fully supportive of the idea of podium guys.

Me? Not so much. I'm a retro-grouch. Podium girls should be, well, girls. Bike frames should be steel. Saddles should be leather.

I'm not looking forward to telling Wally about this, either.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Devastation in Ronam, Texas

(The following does not reflect in any manner on the city of Manor, Texas, and its bicycle ban. Huh-uh. No. Not ever.)

This is a transcript from the ten o'clock news broadcast.

The city of Ronam, Texas disappeared overnight, seemingly swallowed up by the earth itself in a cataclysm of Biblical proportions.

Billy Bob Ignatowski, Ronam city manager, was fortunate to survive the devastation through an accident of timing. He was out of town for a church convention in Dallas when news of the disaster reached him. He has this to say for local television:

I was astonished and horrified to see that story about Ronam on the TV. I was sittin' at the bar in Big Willie's Exotic Dance Studio, studyin' sin up close when the news report came out. The bartender started yellin' about the disaster and he turned the TV way up. The dancers stopped and we all watched the news coverage. It was awful. It was like the hand of God smote Ronam and smashed it flat, just like them stories in the Old Testament or one of them Japanese Godzilla movies. It'll ruin property values. How'd I get this talcum powder all over my lap?

Image "Eve and the Snake" from Fabiogis50 on Flickr.

Cletus Ignatowski, Ronam's chief of police, was equally lucky to escape the destruction. He was performing his duty at a traffic stop with some errant bicyclists from nearby Nitsua when the ground beneath his feet trembled.

It sounded like a big truck rumblin' by. Then the ground started rolling around. Houses collapsed into their foundations and I could hear people screaming. It all lasted a minute or so, and then everything was quiet. That's when the snakes started crawlin' up out them cracks in the ground! Thousands of 'em! They was slithering and crawling everywhere, but then the clouds of locusts came up out of them same cracks! They flew around for a minute or two, then settled onto the ruined houses. They ate everything! Kitchen appliances, laptops, color televisions, even remote controls. I dove into my car! They tried to eat that too, but the weird thing was they left them damn bicyclists alone! That's when I knew they was in league or something. They're a bunch of godless hummasexule librals, dammit! So it makes sense. They're keepin' good people from goin' to church on time. Why, the collection plate last week was off about five percent. People are afraid to leave their houses! They're Eee-ville-ah! If they were good, Christian people rather than dirty communist hippies, they'd be going to church too, drivin' cars like normal people! But they're Eee-ville-ah!

Dr. Walter Crankset, resident Armageddonologist and head of the Apocalypse Studies department at the University of Northeastern Oklahoma extension campus in Broken Elbow, rushed to Ronam to inspect the damage.

Ronam sits atop a notoriously unstable soil that was deposited in the late Sebaceous Period, roughly ten thousand years ago. That coincided with the disappearance of the Piltdown Man, the Simplex Man, and the early tribes of the Good Humor Man. As everyone knows, those early Good Humor tribes were fond of practical jokes. As the glaciers retreated, they managed to sell Kansas to the other tribes, telling them that it was the land of milk, honey, and low, low, discount prices. Many went to Kansas where they took positions on the school boards...

When reporters asked about the sudden appearance of snakes all over the ruins of Ronam, Dr. Crankset has this to say:

That really is an oddity. All the ones I've seen are Northern Texas Low Brow snakes, and they're widely believed to be an endangered species. I've never seen this many in one place before. The Offstage Indians have a legend that the god Bono-bono dug a huge pit and lead all the stupid people into it. They transformed into Northern Texas Low Brow Snakes and crawled back up out of the pit. Forever afterward, if someone was believed to be abysmally stupid, one of these snakes was invariably found nearby. They seem to be attracted to stupid. But like I said, I've never seen this many before, though there are a good many in Kansas too.

Our reporters will remain live on the scene in Ronam as this story develops. Stay tuned for more news right after this....


Friday, February 19, 2010

A bit of fun for Friday!

These were all taken with the Yashica Electro 35 GT on Kodak B&W 400. I got the rangefinder sorted out, discovering in the process several interesting ways to get it wrong. It's close to being calibrated properly, and I only have to do some minor touch up on it. The big problem was that the rangefinder images coincided before the lens reached infinity, then diverged again as the lens hit the infinity stop. The adjusting cam didn't have enough range, so I ended up moving the 45 degree mirror - and that lead to the discovery that turning the wrong adjusting screw sent the images out of kilter in the vertical plane too. It's all back together and everything seems OK, except for the big, greasy fingerprint inside the front glass! Now, who could have done that?

Anyway, that first shot above was taken at oh-dark-thirty with my elbows braced atop the car. The lens was wide open and the exposure was probably in the one-eighth to one-quarter second range.

Here's Number One Daughter making a cake for Valentine's Day. This was taken by available light in our kitchen. Again, the lens was probably wide open. Not bad for a hand-held shot.

Do you see the cyclist up ahead? The guy in the pickup clearly did. He moved over into the adjacent lane to pass. This section is slightly uphill and the speed limit changes from 45 to 35 as the road goes into Owasso.

Here's a cropped and magnified version of the above shot. I tried making it bigger, but it went grainy. It also went very grainy if I tried to sharpen it. Still, it's a good example of the capability of these old cameras. Next time, I'm going to ask the photo processor if they can deliver RAW files rather than these jpegs. I'm tinkering a little with Raw Therapee, a free RAW editor, but you can play with RAW files in the latest version of Picasa too.

One disadvantage of RAW files is their sheer size as they're literally the data that comes from the image sensor. But I noticed in one of those night shots from the Canon A590IS that the RAW images contained much more noise than jpegs - until after they were processed. Then they appeared to contain much less. I'm not an expert on this. I'm just learning. Still, it's fun to tinker with it.

One last thing - and it's not about photos or cameras!

I posted a straight news piece about the bicycle ban in Manor, Texas over on the Examiner. In all honesty, I've been having trouble writing because I just couldn't find the energy. The drive was gone. But after my phone conversation, anger gradually ratcheted up within me. I seldom get mad and have it keep building like that, but it was a real trigger for writing. I can't say I like it, but it is what it is.

The Examiner piece is straight forward reporting, but I still needed to vent that anger, and what better way than by engaging in some straight forward sarcasm. Imagine it. That will turn up here shortly, and surprisingly enough, Dr. Wally Crankset figures prominently in it.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Floyd Landis....hacker?

The story is available on hundreds of sites by now. A French judge issued an arrest warrant - apparently only valid in France - for one Floyd Landis. Pierre Bordry, president of the French anti-doping agency, said Landis is wanted for illegally hacking into the files of an anti-doping laboratory while preparing for his defense on doping charges.

All this happened in 2007. They're just getting around to bringing charges now? Why is there a whiff of over-ripe cheese about this?

Landis was found guilty of doping. He appealed and lost. He cannot find a spot on a professional team despite having served his suspension. The French really seem to be vindictive over this whole affair since the basis for the warrant was a trace to the IP address of Landis' former coach, Arnie Baker. Unless there's much more they're not revealing, the information connecting this to Landis is sketchy.

But here's a thought - somewhere in France there's undoubtedly been some computer hacking during the Tour. And that pesky American, Lance Armstrong, has been in the country when it happened. It's very possible that Armstrong, as a secret member of an American cabal out to discredit French cycling, culture, haute cuisine, and their execrable cars, hacked into all those computers while hiding in plain sight within the pro peleton. It's only a little more far-fetched than the charges against Landis.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Deer in the headlights

Steve's Frankenbike

I commented on Steve A's DFW Point-to-Point about this photo. The last storm from the left coast dove south of us and pasted Dallas.

I noticed the reflectors on his rear wheel. Mine is similar, but not as colorful. I applied white reflective tape along the inner circumference of the wheel, thinking the movement would be noticeable to overtaking motorists. There's some solid reasoning behind this idea.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and learned to drive there. I also learned to keep a sharp eye out for deer at night. There are about 50,000 killed on the roads every year. A deer may not be visible in the headlights until you're very close, but the reflection from their eyes shows up farther than your headlights seem to reach.

Crossing a mountain near Breezewood one night, I spotted dozens of their eyes about a quarter of a mile ahead. They lifted their heads and looked toward the car, looking much like a string of blue-green Christmas lights across the road. I was on the brakes and slowing well before I reached them.

Winding two lane roads didn't offer those long sight lines, of course, so I kept my speed down at night. Nearly everyone I knew had hit one or two deer, and I did not want to join the club. At the first glimpse of their eyes, I hit the brakes.

US62 is a winding, two lane highway between Sandy Lake and Franklin. Halfway between, it drops down into a valley and passes through Polk, a small town named for the only United States President from Pennsylvania, James Polk. The road follows the valley floor. It's flat, but seldom straight for more than short distances. Also, it's lined with mature forest, not the best deer habitat, but it offers excellent concealment.

My friend Bert and I drove that road often. He worked in the state hospital at Polk, so he was on it every night. On weekends, we sometimes visited bars over in Franklin and there was a theater over there too.

Just west of Polk one night, I was driving when we rounded a curve and directly ahead there were two blue-green reflections right alongside the road. I braked hard and Bert started laughing! Someone had nailed two small reflectors to a tree next to the road.

Bert thought it was hilarious. "I know who did that," he said, "and it got me earlier in the week too." The funny thing, though, was despite knowing that the reflectors were there, we each reacted the same way every time we drove through that turn. Other drivers did it too. The speed limit signs may not have meant much, but those two little reflectors clearly did.

Now, for cyclists, there are two take aways here. First, there's the issue of awareness. Drivers who are looking for deer - or cyclists for that matter - will perceive them earlier than drivers who are not expecting them on the roadway. How many news stories about bicycle/automobile crashes have the semi-obligatory "Honest, officer, I never saw him. He came out of nowhere!"

The second lesson is directly related to the first. As I've said many, many, many times before - by riding the same routes at the same time of day we see the same drivers. They come to expect a commuting bicyclist every morning and afternoon. We are not a big surprise and they understand what that tiny blinking light is up ahead well before they overtake. Motorists do learn how to drive around cyclists after they've had some experience. It's not a big deal. We're just another worker drone off to the daily grind.

In many ways, that's what I want to see on our roads. Cyclists aren't a big deal. We don't need special lanes, special laws, or special treatment. We're just a normal part of everyday traffic.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grumble, grumble

I've changed the rights information for my Flickr photos. The photos were under a creative commons license, so it was OK for others to use them with attribution. But the ones I found didn't even have that.

And that's just plain lazy.

So, for the immediate future, all my photos will have an "all rights reserved" stamp. There are a couple of ways to do this. Flickr offers an editing service, and obviously, it can be done with Photoshop also. I'm using a free program called FastStone Photo Resizer that enables users to "convert, rename, resize, crop, rotate, change color depth, add text and watermarks to images in a quick and easy batch mode." It's free for home use. The joy is that it does all the editing in one go, so it's definitely quick and easy. Also, since the Examiner will not accept photos above a given size, it's an easy way to meet those limits.

Canon Canonet - exposure unrecorded.

Here's an example. I don't think the text detracts much from the image. It's a boring view of Mingo Road just south of 76th Street after that snowstorm last week. Somehow, a hair or a piece of fiber was in the upper left hand corner. I have no idea how it got there or where it came from. I don't think it was on the lens hood, but there's no way to know for certain. It appears as if by magic in a couple of shots, then just as magically disappeared.

Also, after five very long, very frustrating days at work, I finally had a good day. The computer I was working on had 65 separate failures out of about 750 tests. But I narrowed the majority down to two memory chips, replaced both of them, and it failed only 35 times thereafter! That's progress of a sort. Those 35 failures came from a voltage reference that went bad. I replaced it and the unit ran clean! Yippee! And I'd only spent about 7 hours troubleshooting and soldering under the microscope. I celebrated with a bottle of Sam Adams Honey Porter when I arrived at home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FreeWheel: Get the bike ready!

Previously: Video of route presentation available here.

Upcoming: FreeWheel training rides begin March 13 at 10AM in Mohawk Park. The initial ride will be 5 miles.

Tom Brown, owner of Tom's Bicycles, presented last night's seminar on bike repair and maintenance, most of it aimed at inexperienced riders. He highly recommended a road bike for the tour, though people do complete it on mountain bikes. Road bikes offer more hand positions and therefore greater comfort on a long day's ride. Proper bike fit is essential.

Tom covered the ABC Quick Check.
A - Air. Tires should be rock hard. Check wheels and hubs too. Feel for any sideplay in the hubs and inspect the tires, looking for bulges, cuts, or debris.
B - Brakes. When applied, there should be a thumbs width of clearance between the lever and handlebar. This is a good way to see that your brake quick release is closed.
C - Crank and Chain. Check for sideplay. With your hand, turn the pedals backward. Look and listen for any damaged or tight chain links. Pay special attention to any that may have a side plate popping off.
Quick releases - note that there's an open/closed lable on the lever. Get in the habit of putting the quick release levers in the same position all the time so you can see at a glance that they are closed.
Twist handlebars to see that they're tight in the fork.

Tom demonstrated how to fix a flat, except for the essential part about re-filling the tire with air. He forgot to bring a pump! The assembled group found this highly amusing. He noted that three bike shops drive the route, so if anyone needs assistance it will be somewhere nearby.

With a bike in his repair stand, Tom demonstrated how bicycle gearing works and described the basic concepts of cadence. He also covered the differences between traditonal pedals and clipless pedals, highlighting the advantages of clipless units.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Quick photo

Number One Daughter in shopping heaven - the makeup counter at Belk's!
Canon Canonet, exposure not recorded.

Also, I attended the FreeWheel meeting tonight (Monday) so there will be a post about that tomorrow.

Friday, February 05, 2010

I live in a cat house

I live in a cat house. No, no, not THAT kind of cat house! Mine simply has too many cats in it. They sharpen their claws on the furniture. Their greedy little eyes watch my ham sandwich at lunchtime. They trip me in the pre-dawn darkness as I get ready for work. The cute little fur balls are trying to kill me.

It wasn't always like this. Somehow, that lovely woman I married turned into a crazy cat lady. First we took in a couple of strays. Then a feral cat dropped a litter of kittens in our garage. The next thing I knew, I could hardly take a step without setting off some screeching feline. Even that was OK. But I crossed the line when I began questioning the expenses involved in all the food, litter, and vet bills. I pointed out that the cats cost far more than any of my bicycles. That's when the fur balls started plotting my demise.

They're sneaky and secretive about it, of course, because they're cats. Rather than being overtly physical they prefer stealthy psychological attacks. They steal my pencil when I'm trying to write. They attack the cursor on the computer screen. The kittens are inordinately fond of sinking sharp claws into unprotected feet. But the one thing that makes me absolutely insane is waking up to a loud purr at 3AM, only to discover a pair of large, yellow eyes peering at me from inches away. It's entirely possible to go from sound asleep to stark raving mad in about ten milliseconds.

One of them took a liking to my cycling shoes. She sleeps atop them in my closet. Worse, she also sleeps in the small hamper with my used cycling jerseys, shorts, and socks. When she's feeling affectionate, it's like having a purring sweat sock climb in my lap. As part of their nefarious plot, she usually does this right before dinner. My appetite is much reduced.

So I'm not getting enough sleep and I'm not eating right. After the last 3AM session, I told the offending cat, “If you do this again, you're off to the vet's office to be neutered. Mess with me, buddy, and see what happens!” Actually, he was already scheduled, something which Mary had tried to explain to him without success. She's a crazy cat lady for good reason.

She gave me that level stare, the one that all husbands know and dread. In an icy, malice-tinged voice, she said, “Mess with my cats, buddy boy, and see what happens.”

I was awake for the rest of the night, my legs carefully crossed. Cats pranced gleefully in the hallway, danced along the kitchen counter tops, and snorted long lines of finely-ground catnip. The racket faded as the sun came up. I crept down the hall to find cats snoring raucously on the couch, the end tables, the kitchen table, and even on top of my computer. They'd won. I'd moved down at least one rung on the household pecking order.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Updated page coming soon

I'm getting tired of this boring old page, so in the next couple of weeks I'll be looking to change it. But I'm pressed for time just now as we're still working overtime on the weekends. Sure, my butt is dragging, but the backlog is down by 50% since the beginning of the year. Management wants to reduce the backlog drastically before summer arrives. Than means OT straight through the spring. I'm not sure I can do this every week for months on end.

Ask Dr. Wally

Dear Dr. Wally

My auto mechanic filled my tires with 100% nitrogen, claiming that the tires lose pressure more slowly and that gives better mileage. Should I do the same with my bicycle tires?

Curious in Coweta

Dear Curious

Do not fill your tires with nitrogen! Straight, 100% nitrogen is a poison! Instead, go to your local bike shop and ask for imported air. The hipsters are using Fiji air, but that's merely a fad. Better products are available from France and Italy, where fresh air is collected from some of the famous mountain stages in the Tour de France and the Giro. This makes your bike more than 10% faster, so bike shops employees often want to keep it for their own use. Go to your local shop and insist on imported air.

Don't let them bait-and-switch you into accepting any of those cheap CO2 cartridges, either. They're full of stale CO2 from New Jersey and they often infect your tires with Vittoria beetles.

Dr. Wally

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

An open letter to US Representative John Sullivan

This post is only tangentially related to transportation as it touches on the subject of aviation safety. I make my living working for a major airline. Yes, I'm one of those aircraft technicians that USAToday castigated yesterday. Those of us who watched the aftermath of the ValuJet crash know that safety is always paramount. Yet we all know that horror stories sell newspapers. We know that fear is a powerful motivator whether it's being used to drum up support for bike lanes or as a means of pushing national policy.

When people try to manipulate me by using fear, I get angry.

Congressman Sullivan sent out a postcard with the following questions. Each could be answered with yes, no, or unsure. Since graduating from high school, I've found that life doesn't always offers such clear cut answers. More nuance and subtlety is required. So I've taken the liberty of answering the congressman's questions at greater length, and as always, the answers inevitably lead to more questions. Such is life.

Constituent Survey - Tell Me What You Think!

1. Do you think enemy combatants should be tried on US soil?

The Bush administration coined the term 'enemy combatants' as a way to avoid giving prisoners any legal status. Captured enemy soldiers are treated under international law as prisoners of war. Ordinary criminals are afforded legal protection under our constitution. Yet no laws apply to enemy combatants. They are in legal limbo. I do not believe they should be tried in military courts because soldiers, even captured enemy soldiers, are presumed to have served their country honorably. Terrorism cannot be equated with that honorable service. Terrorists are no more than common criminals and should be treated as such.

We pride ourselves on our belief in the rule of law. In fact, it is the very basis democracy. There have been periods when we've turned our backs on the rule of law, to our subsequent shame. Examples include the persecution of those with German surnames during WW1, the internment of Japanese civilians during WW2, and the long struggle for civil rights. Insisting that 'enemy combatants' be tried outside our existing legal system is against our very nature as Americans. We're better than that, Congressman. We've seen that the legal system works in previous terrorism trials, and we will not turn our backs on the rule of law in a misguided attempt at revenge. We truly are better than that, Congressman.

2. Do you think Congress is doing enough to secure our borders?

Which points of entry need to be reinforced? People enter our country illegally through airports and harbors. They can simply walk across from Mexico or Canada. Yet the most contentious issue seems to be all those brown-skinned people crossing from the south. The Bush administration proposed a border wall to keep them out, apparently blind to the irony of Ronald Regan's "tear down this wall" speech, or the uniformly negative reaction to Israel's border wall.

On a purely practical standpoint, how are we to pay for increased border security when our government is already trillions of dollars in debt from putting two wars on a credit card? Would you take the money away from education, highways, or defense? Sorry, Congressman, but it really sounds like empty rhetoric.

We know that most illegal immigrants come here seeking work. They're trying to escape poverty, yet rather than treat poverty as the root cause of illegal immigration, we try to prevent their movement northward, locking them in as a permanent underclass. Attack poverty in central and south America, Congressman, and you'll do much to stem illegal immigration.

If you insist on taking punitive measures, I suggest you go after those who knowingly employ undocumented workers, including those employers who turn a blind eye to the actions of so-called independent contractors.

3. Do you believe the Administration is doing enough to ensure the safety of American travelers?

Put another way, Congressman, do you believe our Administration would deliberately ignore the safety of Americans? Does the Obama administration take that lightly, or is this question merely an attempt to portray Democrats as somehow not as committed to the security of the traveling public as the Republicans are? Frankly, congressman, the question is more than a little offensive since it implies that the executive branch and our commander in chief are unwilling or unable to ensure the safety of the American people. There's a phrase in the oath of office about defending our country from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Perhaps you should review that and consider whether the oath is a statement of personal morality and integrity, or merely empty words.

4. Do you support the Administration's efforts to close our detention facility located in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?

The American people should demand the closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Imprisoning people without charges for years on end is the very antithesis of our beliefs. We claim to be a people who believe in fairness and justice, yet the existence of that prison shows our claim is a lie. As for the prisoners there, you say, "I have concerns that a public trial...could risk disclosure of classified information, potentially damaging our national security or foreign relations." Congressman, by imprisoning people without trial or legal recourse, we do actual - not potential - damage to our national security and foreign relations. How would you react if a similar number of Americans were imprisoned under such conditions?

Abraham Lincoln said that you can fool some of the people all the time, but Congressman, that number is dwindling, even in Oklahoma. We sent you to Washington to represent the people of Oklahoma - all the people of Oklahoma - not only the Republicans. It's past time you started doing what is right, Congressman, not merely what will help you keep your job. It's only temporary, after all. Our country needs statesmen, not partisans.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Oops!" followed by a thud

Saturday afternoon, I came home from work - ten hours of overtime - and I was very tired. Mary had been cooped up in the house for a couple of days and she wanted to get out. I can't hold that against her. So I took her shopping.

We left the house and I put my Canon Canonet in her lap. When we pulled up in front of that famous French store, Target, she'd forgotten about the camera and simply got out of the car. That was the "Oops!" on my part. She just said, "What was that?"

Nothing was obviously broken. Not even a dent or a scratch. But when I looked through the view finder, the f-stop scale was missing.

The meter movement is in the center of the above photo with the f-stop scale re-glued in place. I was lucky. The scale was rattling about in the top cover. It didn't slip down inside the camera body.

Internally, the Canon is more densely packed than the Yashica Electro. Maybe that's why I like the Electro more for now. It's just easier to find things.

The viewfinder is loose too, but it's been loose since I bought it. I have to tack the cover back down atop the rangefinder mechanism - those diagonal mirrors over on the left side - so I need a suitable adhesive for that. I used a super glue gel on the f-stop scale, but I want something with less bond strength for the rangefinder cover in case I have to remove it again.

Heigh-ho, we're off to the hardware store!


Monday, February 01, 2010

Stolen bike alert - Tulsa

OK Velo Sport lost two bikes to a break-in last week. They are:

52cm Complete Surly Long Haul Trucker, Blue in box as from QBP.

50cm Complete Surly Long Haul Trucker, Truckacccino in box as from QBP.

If these bikes are found, please contact:

Chuck Davis
OK Velo Sales (
Tulsa, OK
918-587-0574 (Shoppe TP/FX)
918-895-0733 (MJ Message TPN)

Layoffs at CycleDog

I deeply regret being forced to make this announcement, but given the downturn in the economy and the cutbacks we all have to endure, I'll have to let some of you go. Layoffs are always painful. There's no way around it. The family budget simply will not permit the current state to continue indefinitely. Shrinking revenues lead to shrinking groceries. We have to cut the fat, so the very first layoff will involve my own adipose tissues.

I'm well aware of your years of service, providing buoyancy in rough waters, an insulating layer against the cold, and the potential to see us through lean times. Unfortunately, those lean times are upon us as we've cut back on both groceries and restaurant food. You've served well and it's my fondest hope you find another position soon. Wally says that several of his ex-wives have posteriors which could readily accommodate all of you.

In a way, this situation is a two-edged sword. Budget cuts have also forced the reduction of alcohol consumption in the CycleDog homestead. Normally, this would be cause for celebration as it's well known that brain cells and booze do not co-exist well. Booze is the ultimate winner in any contest involving the two. In this instance, however, both alcohol and brain cells will be cut back. Obviously, the budget forces the booze reduction. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed insists that the majority of my brain cells are unused anyway, and She could use the storage space.

So far, the muscles are not facing imminent furlough. They're needed for shoveling snow, lifting sacks of groceries, and once spring arrives, pushing the lawn mower to and fro. For the moment, the distal muscles, particularly those that operate the remote control, are essential to further operations. In all honesty, due to the reduction in brain cells and the booze budget, those muscles working the remote control are likely to retain regular employment. Still, since the reduced number of brain cells might lead to increased consumption of daytime television and prime time 'reality' shows, the cutbacks in the alcohol budget may need to be reconsidered.

Thank you for your years of service, and good luck in the future.