Sunday, July 25, 2010


I bought a Canon ELPH LT for Mary some years ago. She used it a few times, but eventually it ended up on a bookshelf gathering dust. I was impressed with the camera's performance back then, but as a sufficiently experienced husband, I knew better than to take her camera and use it. I only look dumb.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find this blue ELPH sitting in the local Goodwill store. I bought it for one entire dollar and the battery is still good! The other camera is my Canon A590IS. The ELPH is smaller.

Finding APS film is a little harder, though. A local drugstore carries it, but they were temporarily out of stock. One of the personnel said they did have the special negative carrier for APS, so there's one other worry gone. APS is a smaller format than 35mm, roughly 2/3 the size, and the film offers three different aspect ratios including panoramas. The Canon has a 23mm lens that focuses via an infrared range finder, and it will focus as close as 2 feet.

I'll post some photos when I get some film through this camera.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Klutz update: The continued saga of my Konica Auto S2

Last month - really, it was last month - I wrote about dropping my newly acquired Konica S2, breaking the wind lever off, and attempting to purchase another S2 for parts. It didn't go well. The seller at a local flea market claimed I'd "insulted" him with a $5 offer for his inoperative camera, and he left in a huff.

OK, we're up to speed.

Yesterday, I went back to the flea market and located that same camera. It was lying on the floor at the base of the camera display, a jumble of dirty, dented, and broken cameras and accessories, with a few gems here and there. And of course, it was still broken.

I picked it up and carried it up front. "What do you want for this?" I asked.

The seller looked it over and couldn't find a price tag. "Sixty five dollars" he said finally.

"I'll give you ten."

"You insult me!" He quickly grabbed the camera and turned away.

"No," I said. "It's not an insult. It's a reasonable offer for a broken camera."

"The lens alone is worth that."

"Only if you can figure out how to remove it. The camera's a unit and you have to disassemble it to do that."

He was gone.

I shrugged my shoulders and turned to find a woman standing there, rolling her eyes as only a woman can. She looked sidelong toward the vendor and shook her head, a wry smile on her lips.

Yeah, I have to wonder how the guy stays in business too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time? Time for what?

It's been a hectic week here at Chateau CycleDog.


Work has been steady, not demanding, and it seems like the days fly by.


At home, it's been different. The normal level of insanity


has been interrupted by an annoying appliance. Our dryer


which is in the utility closet right outside my bedroom door,


developed a kind of squealing sound over the last couple of months.


It sounded remarkably like a puppy yelping over and over and over


until my own loosely held sanity nearly evaporated. We called an


appliance repair guy who said that if we'd called him earlier, he could


have fixed it, but the dryer was too far gone. Sure, he could still fix it, but


the parts and labor would be about $300, and I can buy a new dryer


for that. Did I mention how difficult it is to concentrate and


write when it sounds like someone is torturing puppies on the other side


of the bedroom door? This thing was loud enough that I could hear


it on the street outside. On Monday, Mary and I bought a new dryer.


Last night, I wrestled it into the utility closet, connected the vent, and attached the electrical cord. My reward for this is blessed silence. I don't have to set the television audio to 747 levels anymore. It no longer sounds like some industrial techno-pop band is rehearsing in the hallway. My sanity - or a reasonable facsimile thereof - has been restored.

Of course, when I got out of bed this morning, the parts that are supposed to bend, like knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows, didn't really want to do that. My back felt as if it were trying to bend enough to allow my head to rest on my belt buckle, while at the same time both shoulders tried to meet somewhere a few feet ahead of me.

Breakfast consisted of a large, very hot coffee and a couple of ibuprofen.

Silence was worth it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Jersey idea

It's just a quick-and-dirty mockup using PhotoShop and my favorite font for sarcasm - Comic Sans.

Lemmiwinks pointed out in comments that it could offend a motorist, who could buzz by too close in order to "teach you a lesson." And although he's right, he's also assuming that motorists are capable of (1) reading at speed and (2) comprehending what they've just read and (3) deciding to act on in in the second or two it takes to pass a cyclist. I'm thinking it's far more likely they'll be 50 yards past the cyclist before the brain kicks in and says, "What?"

Of course, it's still way better than this:

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July seventh

I spotted this van earlier today from across the parking lot. All the stickers and the taped on sign made me curious, so I had to get closer to read them.

There was news about some new provisions to the 3 feet passing law in Illinois today. Apparently they'd added language to penalize motorists who harass cyclists. Ok, all well and good, but like most of the 3 feet passing laws, there's a problematic aspect to enforcement. Unless a police officer actually witnesses the act, it's unlikely a motorist would be penalized. Time will tell.

I thought about those "3 Feet - It's the law!" jerseys that are being offered for sale, and in all seriousness, they strike me as saying "Please don't hit me!" Maybe we should be selling jerseys that say "Too slow? Too bad. Get over it."

Maybe I'll have time for some quick sketches tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The fifth of July

This morning, my friend Wade and I had coffee in a local shop. It's a regular weekend ritual so we can catch up on family news. Wade does heating and air conditioning as a sideline, so he agreed to look at our inoperative AC unit.

It was slightly low on freon, something that allowed Mary a coveted "I told you so" yesterday. The outside unit was clogged with cotton from the ubiquitous cotton wood trees around here. But the A-coil wasn't frozen. It was clogged with cat hair and candle soot. Honestly, when he opened it, the coil looked like a piece of black cardboard. Wade carefully cleaned it with various brushes and a chemical cleaner. Air actually flows through the thing now! Yeehaw!

Lesson learned: replace the existing cut-to-fit filter with a pleated paper one. Sure, the cut-to-fit ones are nice because they can be washed, but unless the AC unit sucks up a cat, the filter won't stop cat hair. And candle soot goes right through.

When we finished, Wade and I cut some big slices from the layer cake Lyndsay made yesterday. He deserved it more than I, because my technical input consisted of holding the flashlight so he could see.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fourth of July

As is the tradition here in the lovely Chateau CycleDog, where we have either an illness, injury, or plumbing disaster on major holidays, today we had something similar to a plumbing disaster when we discovered that the air conditioner quit. The fan was on constantly, but very little air came out of the ducts. It was only about nine hundred and forty degrees outside with a relative humidity that allowed fish to roost in our oak tree out front. No problem.

Naturally, Number One Daughter thought this would be a good time to do some baking. She made a layer cake, and it's yummy! She may be insane, but she sure can bake.

At mid-afternoon, we opened all the windows because it was actually cooler outside than it was inside. I called a friend in the heating and air conditioning business. He said the freon in the air conditioner was probably low, and that allowed the A-unit above the heater to freeze solid with ice. It would take overnight to thaw, so leaving the air conditioner off was the only solution. Tomorrow he's coming by to check the unit.

I'm sitting here in front of a fan wearing only my shorts - and no, not merely my boxers. A man has to have some dignity, even me. I've been drinking water almost constantly. If I don't move around much this isn't bad, but the laptop is kinda warm. I'm glad the AC didn't fail later in the summer when it's really hot.

(Photo "Dante's Gates of Hell" from Stuck in Customs on Flickr. I saw many that were similar, but the red in this one really sets it aside from the rest.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

This is depressing

I drove through Tulsa this morning just after daybreak. I've taken a couple of vacation days, and due to the closing of the Bird Creek Bridge overnight, I offered to take my daughter to work this morning so I could show her the 'other' back road route into town.

Now, that's all prologue. Driving through Tulsa, I saw lots of cyclists! All of them - except one - riding on the sidewalk. The lone exception was on the road riding the wrong way against traffic.

I seldom have a chance to observe commuters since I'm usually at work well before dawn. And those bike commuters I do see are always on the right side of the road, at least, even if they have only a nodding acquaintance with stopping at red lights.

Later in the morning, I saw a group of three riding together, two on the road and another on the sidewalk next to them. The sidewalk rider zoomed through a pedestrian crosswalk just in front of a car that was about to turn right. I'm sure the motorist never saw the guy on a bike, and the bike guy probably cursed at the clueless motorist.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reed Bates update

Reed Bates sent an email describing and clarifying the events that lead up to his 18 days in the Ellis County jail in Waxahachie. As noted by Serge in comments to a previous Examiner post, Bates' was held on a $5000 bail for failure to appear at the Ellis County Court on May 7th. The bail was not for charges on his bicycling offenses.

At the end of April, Bates moved from Ennis, Texas, to Dallas where he found work and a new place to live. He admits to screwing up by not informing the Ellis County Court of his address change.

May 7th was his trial date, and the district attorney offered a plea deal prior to that. Bates did not receive any notice of that, of course, but neither did his attorney, Mr. Jones. However, according to Bates, Jones was not listed as his attorney on this particular charge, so Bates takes full responsibility for missing the May 7th hearing.

Ellis County issued a warrant for his arrest on May 7th, and he was subsequently taken into custody in Rockwall on June 8th. He was held in the Rockwall County jail on a $5,000 bond. He couldn't raise the bail money.

On June 21st, he was transferred to the Ellis County jail. Two days later, his second attorney, Mrs. Summers, attended a hearing to sort out the various charges against him. There were several issues. First, who would represent Bates? Next, what were the charges against him, an appeal to the Ennis City convictions, or the Ellis County reckless driving charge? Finally, some consideration was given to reducing the bail.

Mrs. Summers told him of the plea bargain offer from the Ellis County district attorney. If Bates would plead guilty and pay a fine of $200 and court costs, he would be free to go. Bates refused, saying that he would not plead guilty when he hadn't committed an offense. Summers said that Bates would probably have to remain in jail until the trial.

On Friday, June 25th, Mr. Jones arrived to represent Bates. Mrs. Summers deferred to Bates' selection of Jones as his sole attorney. The judge wanted to know how much time Jones would need to present his case, and further, asked if the charge and the appeal could be presented the same day. Jones said he'd need two hours, and the judge set a trial date of July 29th to hear the reckless driving charge, a procedural question about the appeal, and (possibly) an impeding traffic charge.

The district attorney offered a new plea deal: time served plus court costs and three months probation. Bates declined.

On Saturday, June 26th, bail was reduced to $300 and with a friend's help, Bates was released.

Reed Bates insists that he did nothing illegal and therefore he will not plead guilty. How many of us could do the same? It would be easier to simply accept the deal, plead guilty and pay the fines, and then put the matter behind us. At the very heart of all this is Bates' simple assertion of his rights as a bicyclist. He was under no legal obligation to ride on the shoulder of the road. No law requires it of any cyclist in Texas, yet when the authorities couldn't charge him with breaking a non-existent law, they brought other far more specious charges.

The League of American Bicyclists and the Texas Bicycle Coalition remain silent on this issue. The League - which claims it exists to protect cyclist's rights - apparently doesn't believe the rights of this cyclist are worth protecting.

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