Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

The Weekly World News. I miss it.

We had a 'Harvest Festival' here yesterday. It's the namby-pamby version of Halloween backed by some of the churches. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the eve of All Saints Day? I have to wonder how much of the opposition to Halloween is based on the presumed 'satanic' influence of kids dressed up as Batman or a pirate, and how much is simply anti-Catholic bias.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coffee: The wonder drug

Ive given up on drinking coffee the old fashioned way, diluted down with copious amounts of hot water. I've stopped grinding it to powder and snorting the stuff. In short, I've been mainlining for a while now.

This is a close up of my works. It's an Aeropress fitted with a large veterinary needle in order to pass the occasional grains or silt that gets by the filter. In operation, it's exactly like making regular coffee in the Aeropress. Install a new filter, add ground coffee and water, wait about 30 seconds, and then find a suitable vein for injection.

Next thing you know, I'll be shuffling around outside the local coffee shop, hoping to score another bag of Guatemala-Antigua for my habit.

(Seriously, I'd never consider injecting anything into my body, particularly anything that could be depended upon to shorten my life. But you have to admit that the Aeropress looks remarkably like an over-sized syringe.)

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mister Kibbles

Audrey slammed the front door so hard that it rattled the pictures hanging on the wall. She quickly locked it, then sagged against the solid piece of oak for support. Her leg muscles burned and she gasped for breath, her lungs heaving from the long run home. Her purse was out on the street somewhere along with the bag of groceries from the FoodMart. When that horrid man grabbed at her, she'd lost everything trying to get away.

He stumbled out of a doorway. At first, she thought he was just another drunk. It wasn't the best neighborhood but it was mostly safe during the day. But then he'd lunged at her, narrowly missing as he tried to grab her arm. His fingernails raked along her skin, though, and his hands were filthy. She dropped the bag and the purse and simply ran.

At home, she double checked to see that the doors and windows were locked. Then she took a shower and plastered the cut with antiseptic, topping it was a bandage. It was almost dinner time and Don would be home soon. He'd know what to do. She sat on the bed and tried calling 911 but it just rang and rang. She gave up, rose to lock the bedroom door, and then retreated back to the bed.

She felt awfully tired. Mister Kibbles, Audrey's tabby cat, purred and meowed. He wanted attention. But when she stretched out on the bed, he was content to snuggle up against her for a nap. She dozed off quickly.

Audrey woke up hungry, terribly hungry, her belly gnawing in a way she'd never experienced before. The emptiness demanded to be filled.

Mister Kibbles hissed at her. He backed away slowly, then bolted. There was no escape. The door was still closed and locked.

She tried to talk to him, but only an odd, low moan escaped her lips. The cat was in a frenzy, running in circles and throwing himself at the glass in the window. Part of her wanted to calm him, but another, stronger part just wanted to...bite. Finally, he scrambled under the bureau and hid there growling. She knelt down and reached for him. He scratched her twice, then bit deeply into her thumb, his teeth crunching on bone. Oddly, this didn't hurt. She grabbed him with her other hand and dragged him out. His claws slashed her arm again and again.

That small, rational part of her mind contracted, gibbering in horror at what was happening. But she was powerless to stop it. The hunger over-ruled all. She lifted Mister Kibbles toward her mouth. His razor like claws left deep furrows in her face and cut through her left eye. She brought him to her mouth and then....and then....

The little voice in her head said, "But I'm a vegetarian, dammit! This can't be happening!"

When it was over, only a few bones remained of Mister Kibbles. His crushed skull and some tufts of fur lay on the floor at her feet. He didn't have enough meat to satisfy the hunger, but Don would be home for dinner.
Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Le Chateau CycleDog

What you are about to read is actually true, except for those parts that were simply made up. Names, places, and facts have been changed just for the hell of it.

Steve over on DFW P2P opined that perhaps I was re-locating Chateau CycleDog further south, like south of the Red River into Texican territory. I'm sorry if any of you were confused by that scurrilous rumor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Given the CycleDog clan's long and storied history here in Oklahoma, we would be loathe to leave the ancestral lands and journey to new ones, especially in Texas.

This is the familial manse originally erected by Clan CycleDog in the early days, just after we'd arrived here in the New World about 900 years ago. Oh, you thought it was Columbus who discovered America! Wrong. It was us. We traveled here from parts of northern and eastern Europe in an effort to escape the marauding Huns and Vikings. It was only partly successful. The bloody Vikings followed us here as can be seen from the rune stones they left behind.

Rune stone near Heavener, Oklahoma. Really.

It was tough in the early days, but my ancestors adapted to the harsh life by inventing hot tubs and air condidtioning. Almost immediately afterward, they discovered iced alcoholic beverages with chunks of fruit and little umbrellas on top. Their's was a hard scrabble existence.

But then all these other people showed up. First, Native Americans arrived, followed by waves of palefaces, including Yankees, refugees from Arkansas, and the odd alien from outer space, though in all honesty, the latter are more greenish than pale.

Naturally enough, like all conquerers they wanted to change the names of everything. Rustic but original place names, like Rocky Flat or Dead Horse Creek, gave way to frou-frou names as the invaders plunked down endless expanses of subdivisions. Prairie Village became Stonebridge Mansions. Buckingham Limited grew atop the old Cow Flop Flats. Stinky Creek became Nouveau Esprit. The list gets longer, more pretentious, and more depressing every year. I can't wait to see what they do next to the Superfund site up by Collinsville. That'll take some imagination.

Still, it can be fun to mess with these new names and the kind of people who like them. I was walking down the street a few days ago when a woman in a car stopped and asked, "Excuse me, sir, but how do I get to Nottingham Woods?"

"Oh, that's easy," I replied. "You just stay on this road until you reach Ye Olde Sexe Shoppe, and then turn right. But if you reach the Marquis de Sade Book Store and Smut Emporium, you've gone too far...or maybe not." I grinned.

Her jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide. Tires squealed as she did a u-turn and headed out of town at double the speed limit.

Damn foreigners.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

More dusty old cameras

I found a Sears KS500 at a garage sale on Saturday. This is a re-badged Ricoh KS5, an all manual 35mm SLR very similar to the Pentax K1000. I think this one is a polycarbonate body because it weighs far less than the Ricoh XR-1 I used way back when. That XR-1 was brass, if I recall right. You could beat someone to death with it and then take a photo of the body. Everything on this KS500 works with the exception of the self timer, but I never take photos of myself anyway.

This one came with two lenses, both Ricohs. There's a normal 50mm f2.0 and a 135mm f2.8. The 50mm lens works, but the 135 mm unit has oil on the aperture blades. See those gazillion ball bearings? I had visions of spilling them all over the table, but fortunately the whole mount comes off as a unit. This is totally unlike disassembling a freewheel from a bike! I found a bent operating arm on the aperture assembly, but since it was stuck wide open, I didn't find the oil until I managed to get the blades moving again. Of course, I don't have any solvent here to free them up, nor do I have any graphite to use on the linkage. I'll get some tomorrow.

There are some interesting (and wrong) ways to re-assemble this lens. I found some of them today and I'll undoubtedly find more tomorrow.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jacques and the beanstalk revisited (Fiction)

My Lanterne Rouge column from the Red Dirt Pedalers newsletter "Wheel Issues" is over on the Examiner. I needed a change from writing news and advocacy pieces, and doing something that's more in line with humor is just that kind of refreshing change.

As is often the case, this one grew out of something in real life. We learned this week that our company is hiring yet another in an endless string of consultants - people who want to tell us how to do what we already know how to do.

In all honesty, though, I have to admit that I'd like to be a consultant when I grow up, even though it doesn't bring the high social standing of being, say, a pimp or a drug dealer.

Ask Doctor Wally: tight black shorts

Dear Walter,

This weekend, my sister Edna and I were driving out to the Broken Elbow Mall for some early Christmas shopping when we came up behind a big group of bicyclists. They were climbing a hill and we were blockaded behind them. These were grown men out in public wearing tight black shorts that revealed almost everything! They were standing up and pedaling vigorously while their bottoms swayed to and fro, tight muscles rippling under those shorts with an almost hypnotic intensity. Edna nearly swooned! She said it reminded her of that Chippendales show we attended in Vegas after we retired from teaching, and we agreed to never talk about that again.

Could you tell us where these bicyclists will be riding next weekend?

Sally in Salacious City

Dear Sally

You and Edna were my teachers in grade school! And now you're asking about men's butts? You should be ashamed of yourselves! When you caught me trying to find dirty words in the dictionary, I had to write a report and dust erasers for two weeks. And now you want to ogle a bunch of men! Are you out of your mind? I will not be a party to that. A man has to have some standards, after all, and this is a line I simply will not cross.

Dr. Wally

Next time: Zombie cyclists invade West Mifflin, Pennsylvania!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Busy Saturday

I was supposed to be up at 4:30 this morning to see my daughter off to her volunteer work in Tulsa. But I snoozed too long, and by the time I woke up at 5:40, she was gone. So I loaded up the camera bag and went out for a wander around town.

First, though, I stopped at Panera for a coffee. This next bit has me genuinely puzzled. There were no more than 6 customers in the shop, 3 of them drinking frou-frou coffees, yet the dark roast urn was already empty! I had to make do with a medium roast.

Bands of showers moved through like this all day. It was chilly and wet with a steady south wind.

Owasso was having its annual Harvest Festival complete with a chili competition, actually the International Chili Society Oklahoma Championship. Honestly, I wonder how 'international' it really is since I didn't hear any language other than English.

But I managed some photos.

Owasso is a largely suburban community, so I was fascinated to see this hulking 4WD diesel tractor on display. It really took me back. When I lived in farm country in Pennsylvania, the big event at the local fair was the tractor pull. We had two competing dealerships, a Ford and a John Deere. People watched intently when they squared off. It wasn't just bragging rights. There was big money tied up in those tractors because when harvest time arrived, they ran 24/7 until the crops were safely stored. If they pulled more weight, they could stay in the fields longer. I remember driving home from work and seeing them all lit up in a corn field, looking like a UFO invasion.

I was on my feet for 7 or 8 hours. In the afternoon, Mary wanted to go down to a bookstore in Tulsa. I drove her there, and then fell asleep in the car out in the parking lot. Somebody in the car kept snoring and startling me awake! Imagine that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This is awful!

Yesterday, I received the results of last week's blood test from my annual physical. Let's see, the triglycerides were elevated. My bad cholesterol was too much and my good cholesterol too little. Actually, they've been about the same for the last ten years, but my doctor wasn't so concerned that he'd put me on medication. He recommended that perennial favorite - diet and exercise! It must be one of the first things they teach in doctor school. Too fat? Diet and exercise. Too tired? Diet and exercise. Flat feet? You get the idea.

Seriously, one of my biggest concerns was the occasional dizzy spell from the blood pressure meds I've been taking. He said my BP is fine, and actually a bit low, so he reduced the dosage and switched to one that doesn't have a diuretic. Dang! There's goes my second career as a fireman!

But wait. He did tell me to exercise, didn't he? So this afternoon I dragged the dusty Centurion out of the garage, pumped up the tires, and took off for a short ride with cobwebs fluttering from the spokes. And believe me, it was a short ride.

There's a flattish loop just up the hill. It's maybe a mile and a quarter around. I managed it once, just once, and cruised on home. That means I traveled less than 2 miles and I was hurting. Oh, the knee is fine. My quads were burning and I was breathing hard. I'm really out of shape!

Also, there was some....interference....between my butt and the Brooks saddle, partly due to wearing boxer shorts and partly due to my advanced case of monkey butt. But for every problem there's a solution, and in this case it's Anti-Monkey-Butt Powder. I've gotta get me some of that stuff, if only to leave it in plain sight on my toolbox.

Before plunging into regular bike commuting again, I'm going to work up some fitness by doing laps near the house. That way, if I do have problems, I'll be within limping distance of home.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tulsa Bike Bashers

These are Tulsa's Bike Bashers about to leave on a hare-and-hound ride through downtown on Sunday. I'm enjoying this kind of casual street photography. This jpeg, however, doesn't look as good as the tiff version. I tried to upload that here, but Blogger won't take it.

The Bike Bashers are an offshoot of the Tulsa Hashers. The Hash House Harriers started in Britain as a hare and hounds running event, or as they like to put it, they're a drinking club with a running problem. Most cities have a kennel.

This looks like fun!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Should I read this book?

...or will it just get me pissed-off all over again? A friend who knows little about cycling saw it on a remaindered table and thought, "I'll bet Ed would like that!" He was genuinely happy to give it to me, and I took it graciously.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oklahoma news

We had an earthquake this morning. The epicenter was out near Norman and Oklahoma City, about a hundred miles southwest of here. It was a 4.5 I'm told. Some co-workers said they felt the movement. My daughter said that office chair were rolling around in her building. (Later - news reports are saying that a dorm at Oklahoma University has been evacuated due to damages.)

I pretty much missed it. I'm so accustomed to occasional dizzy spells that the odd motion went unnoticed. More on that in a moment.

This is the second earthquake I've experienced. The first was a non-event too as it just sounded like a heavy truck going by in the street outside. Sometimes I'd like to have a bit more excitement in life, but not the kind that involves buildings collapsing.

Now about those dizzy spells. I had my annual physical yesterday. The doctor said that I'm doing well, but my blood pressure is a little bit too low. He reduced the dosage on my blood pressure meds and said the new prescription wouldn't have a diuretic in it, and that I shouldn't experience any dizziness. That's good news! It means I can go back to riding my bike again! I've ridden when dizzy previously - too much vodka, you know - and it was neither pleasant nor safe.

Even She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was pleased. This means I'll be able to climb a ladder with less chance of falling, so the living room painting can proceed, probably this weekend. Aren't I lucky?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

League of American Bicyclists reform candidates

(Full disclosure: I'm working with LAB Reform in an effort to put some reform-minded candidates onto the League's board of directors. We're asking LAB members to sign the petition to put John Brooking, Eli Damon, and Khal Spencer on the upcoming ballot.)

The League board changed their bylaws in July this year. The change permits 7 of 15 board members to be appointed rather than elected by the membership. This weakens the members influence.

LAB Reform, a loose coalition of like-minded bicycling advocates, believes this is unacceptable in a membership organization. They're working to support John Brooking, Eli Damon, and Khal Spencer as candidates for the board. Their goal is to make all board positions elective and responsive to the members. They believe that LAB has been ineffective in supporting cyclist's rights and representing members interests.

Hans van Naerssen, Chair of the League Board, wrote that the increase in board members is intended to "encourage a greater diversity of opinion, skills and perspectives." While this sounds nice, it doesn't help make the board more accountable to the members or responsive to their needs. LAB needs more transparency and that doesn't come from unelected board positions.

Currently, the board determines who may be on the ballot. They've accepted only one reform candidate, Bill Hoffman, who is currently serving. John Brooking, Eli Damon and Khal Spencer must collect over 1000 petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Please sign the ballot petition. You can find it at:

If you want more information and especially if you would like to help collect signatures, please see

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Monday, October 11, 2010

City of Owasso photo contest

Photo contests are common ways to drum up interest in a small town. And in fairness, they're a fun way to take a creative look at those things we see everyday, hopefully putting them in a new light as we try to photograph them.

But here's the deal killer:

By submitting an image to the City of Owasso Photo Contest, the entrant grants the City of Owasso and the Owasso Chamber of Commerce a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, publish, prepare derivative works of, and display their entries in any and all media now known or hereafter developed (including, without limitation, print, broadcast, and internet), for all legitimate business purposes including advertising and promotional activities, including, but not limited to, connection to this contest. When possible, the City will make every effort to credit the photographer.

Essentially the photographer gives up all rights to his photo, but the city will make every effort to see the photographer's name is appended. Oh, the joy.

I don't make any money from photography. For that matter, I don't make any money from CycleDog either. But I'm not about to relinquish my rights to anything I've written or photographed. Making such a demand is petty and wrong-headed. The city gains a stock of good, usable images to be used in any way they see fit, without the expense of hiring a professional to do the work. That's a good deal - for them.

The Examiner had a similar contest last year. I declined to enter it as well for the very same reasons.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A bit of fun

The Polaroin site converts dull, uninspired photos into dull, uninspired pseudo-Polaroids. It even adds vignetting like those cheap Polaroids did! The only thing missing is the smell of the chemicals used to fix the image. You received a tube with a wiper with each pack of film. After the image developed and you peeled off the paper (obviously, this was prior to the SX70) you wiped this stuff across the image to keep it from fading. Inhaling it was probably as healthful as sniffing glue.

That's downtown Tulsa last weekend, taken with a Pentax ME and a Phoenix 19-35mm zoom lens on Kodak 400 black and white film. The Phoenix is a craptastic lens by comparison to any name-brand wide angle, but it's still a lot of fun.

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More old cameras

I purchased some old cameras from a woman in Sand Springs yesterday. There's a Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm f1.4 lens, a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm F1.7 lens, a Nishika 3-D camera, an old Kodak folder for 120 film, and a Minolta 110 SLR with a (broken) zoom lens.

The Spotmatic is one of the early versions of this camera, and in fact, this is the same model I used to learn the basics of 35mm photography way back when. These were built like the proverbial brick sh*t house. I dropped mine off the back of a motorcycle once with no ill effects. The one I bought yesterday works well but shows considerable wear and the frame counter mechanism is missing above the wind lever. I may be looking for another donor camera to repair this one eventually.

The Spotmatic takes screw-mount lenses. I've been looking for a usable camera body for these lenses as I'm curious about some of these older lenses. This one has fungus as you can see from the photo. It will still take decent photos, but the fungus causes a loss of contrast and a softer image. These is a way to remove it, but that involves disassembling the lens, soaking the elements in solvent to break down the cement that bonds the elements together, and then cleaning and re-cementing the lens. That's beyond me for now.

The Pentax ME Super has the mirror locked in the up position. But it came with a nice 50mm F1.7 lens that I can use on other cameras. If I recall right, the ME required a battery for all operations, so I tried fresh batteries, but the mirror remains locked up. This one will take some careful disassembly and research.

This is a Graflex Graphic 35, probably from the 1950s. It seems to work OK, though I had to figure out how the double exposure prevention works as the winder and shutter are not coupled. I think the film has to be advanced and then the shutter has to be cocked manually. At first, I thought there was a shutter problem, but it's more likely my unfamiliarity caused problems. Like many cameras from that period, there are no lugs on the body for a strap. That made the leather case a necessity since the strap attach to it.

The shutter release is that silver lever to the left of the lens assembly. It operates a complicated mechanism that emerges from the body and engages that little device that appears to be a spring on the left side of the lens, and that trips the shutter. The cocking lever isn't visible, but it's on the top side of the lens.

This is the Minolta 110 SLR with a broken zoom lens. It's an interesting camera and I'll probably try to repair it just for the experience. Too bad that 110 film is obsolete, or I'd run a roll through it just to see the results. I was never impressed with 110. It's still available though pricey, and getting it processed would be the tough part.

I took this just to show the relative sizes of the ME Super, the Spotmatic, and the Konica Auto S2 which is turning into my workhorse 35mm camera. As my friend Wade said, the Spotmatic and Konica are guy-sized cameras, big bodies that fit well in big hands with fat fingers. And they're heavy.

All these cameras need a careful, thorough cleaning. I didn't really bother to examine the seals, assuming that they'd all need to be replaced anyway.

The Graflex came in a camera case labeled as a Tiara. Our family princess accompanied me to Sand Springs and was intrigued - as princesses often are - by the prospect of another tiara, so I gave her the case.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

B-17 Flying Fortress visits Tulsa

There's a post over on the Examiner about the B-17, including a slide show. But there are even more photos posted on my Flickr account. This photo was taken just after dawn with a Konica Auto S2 on Fuji Superia 400. The film photos look better than the digital ones, or at least they look better to my old eyes.

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What a find!

I wandered through the thieves market yesterday because I hadn't been there for awhile. And yes, that Konica Auto S2 that I 'insulted' the vendor about was still hanging on the rack accumulating dust. I didn't feel like insulting him again. Maybe next time.

But on one table I found this lovely 'Canon' with the highly prized Optical Lens. My heart was all a flutter at discovering such a rare and valuable camera at the thieves market! Alas, I could not screw up enough courage to ask the seller the price of such an apparently priceless camera. I walked away dejected, and the depression lasted....well....a few milliseconds, at least.

Seriously, there are people who buy these things and use them. They don't expect good results, and in fact, they kind of celebrate the crappy images, light leaks, and chromatic distortions. I'm not that bored. The Lomography site offers similar cameras, but why pay their prices when you can shop the local thieves market?

Right, that's a Canon, and I'm really a professional bicycle racer writing under a pen name.


Here's what appears to be an identical camera from the ShopGoodwill website:

Much as I like playing with old cameras, I won't buy one of these because I will not give money to crooks - not the Goodwill people, of course - but the pinheads who take a cheap POS and try to pass it off as something more.

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