Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ridin' Fixy

I'll let the song speak for itself. I'm more white and nerdy myself, likes my gears.

This from Bike Snob NYC, a good daily read.

Pretty bicycle

I just wanted to post this pic I found surfing Specialized's site. I am partial to the silvery bicycles. I have a fantasy about "bicycle touring" but I am very leery of highways. Doesn't mean I couldn't enjoy one. I'd just need to get a THIRD or FOURTH job. Why does this thing cost 4x what my mtn bike did? Does it go 4x as fast? Hey where's the pedals?! :o

Hold the line

In 1989 Specialized Bicycle Components' new Hardrock Sport had a list price of $330. I think I paid about the same thing for mine in 1998. They don't cost much more than that today, at least as far as street prices go, and adjusted for inflation. The official 2008 list price is $420.

Bike shop bitchin'

Can I find at least one decent bike shop in this godforsaken dump of a town? I am still counting the ways the last one (rhymes with "about broken") dicked me over. I ordered a partial overhaul (including new cassette) and and they chipped a piece out of my GripShift. Also, the front brakes were so loose they did not stop at all. I had to get the guy to redo 'em. The bill was over $100. Then I went to another shop to replace the front chainring. They did a good job but after I got home it lost its ability to shift into the top ring. I had to tighten it up myself with my meager collection of multitools, kinking and fraying the wire.

I can never go into a store and just relax and look at all the stuff. The help are always asking a bunch of questions or ogling you like you've got sticky fingers. Dude. I don't know what I want. I just want to look to see what I might need. I might want to admire the bikes, see the next best things down the line. Respect my need for space!

Unfortunately I need bike shops in my life as the bike mechanix can get complicated. I avoid them though. At least there is one halfway decent one around there. Buying on eBay is odd too; they probably have their friends bidding stuff up and maybe it's junk to begin with. If I get it on the Bay, it better be a steal. Wait, maybe it is stolen. Online retailers like have been pretty good, but pricey. There is no one perfect solution.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little flags

How about that Stayjit Live Traffic Map? There was a time when it was just me writing for myself. Now look at all the little flags on the map, mostly from the US. I guess people look here after I comment on their blogs to see what kind of wierdo I am. Anyway, little flags of the world, I salute you!

A talking head for the NY bike scene

No I'm not talking about the famous Bike Snob NYC. This from today's Wall Street Journal:
And what led to Mr. Byrne's "How New Yorkers Ride Bikes" [a kind of variety show at Town Hall]? He has been riding a bicycle that can be folded for easy storage ever since he moved to New York in the mid-1970s. The Town Hall show was motivated in part by his observation that cycling around New York was becoming more accessible and more people were doing it. "It's part of a general cultural change that comes along with people becoming foodies and valuing the quality of life over the quantity of life," he said.
---Johnson, Martin, "Byrne Is More Than a Former Talking Head," Wall Street Journal, p. D9.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something different yet familiar

I did something different today. I went for a bike ride that had no utilitarian aim. And I went on a regular mountain bike, sans electric assist. This is something that I used to do all the time. However, in the past year I had gotten into a more car-reliant lifestyle, as least as far as my free time was concerned, since my tennis events and whatnot were generally not really pedalable. And there was no time or energy left over for biking for fun. When I did ride, I was on a mission, and I used the e-bike.

At 23", My non-powered bike is a lot taller than the 18" frame that I put the motor on. It feels stiff and spindly. I was very surprised at how fast it wanted to roll, being nearly nude without all the cargo racks, batteries and whatnot. I was also surprised by how easy pedaling was, although some inclines made me feel like I wasn't really making much progress at times. I was also surprised by how refreshed I felt after pedaling around the neighborhood, getting a feel for things. (I couldn't resist a stop at the nearby Krispy Kreme.)

The river was beautiful. I brought some hot tea and biscuits (ok, crackers) because I thought it was a civilized thing to do. With a fleece jacket, wool quarter-zip sweater, and cotton turtleneck, I felt slightly underdressed for walking around outside but it started to get a little warm after some exertion. High was in the low 50s 'F. I had wool socks and some ventilated mesh clogs that worked fine, warm and breathable. I used to wear thick woolen socks with sandals. :

Looking at my bike by the river, I realized I had had it for an amazing ten years. It's a 1998 Specialized Hardrock FS (front suspension). It's hardly the most expensive thing out there, but it's been my entry into the world of real bikes. It's tall and ungainly and slow, like me, but it's tough. Ten years! It's gotten me around rattlesnakes, over ice and snow, I even rode it on the beach when I first got it. It's been from Sullivan's Island (SC) to Emigration Canyon (UT). What an emotional trip it's been.

Since I work at home, I don't have much of a commute. This was my commute with nature. This is how I used to live, and how I will be living now. This is I.

Morning mocha

Mocha was my gateway drug into the world of coffee. I have been drinking java regularly for about 12 years now. I hardly ever buy mocha lattes any more. My concoction this morning is some Carnation Instant Breakfast with a leftover shot of espresso and some cinnamon on top. It should keep me going for an hour or two.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pugsley sighting

I saw my first real life Pugsley live an in person. What was it doing here? An area that has not had snow since 1864. The guy had SC tags; maybe he was from the Upstate. Swans migrate this far south, maybe so do snow bikers.

Mycelium update

I decided to pull the plug on my mycelium culturing in the spent ale grains project. The stuff in the glass jar and the clear plastic container was not really doing anything. When I pulled it out there seemed to be a layer of black mold on it, and the odor of fermentation.

However, when I opened up the stuff from the steel cans, that mycelium seemed to be growing really, really fast. Maybe it was just a white mold. I packaged this after freezing and drying out the old ale grains again, maybe it got more sterilized, or perhaps the lack of light had something to do with it. So maybe it is possible to grow the shiitake in the spent grains.

Shiitake spawn definitely seems to like the potting mix, so I am putting most of it in that. I repacked one of the steel cans with the old grains; I probably contaminated it though.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Callous remark adds six years

Woman makes light of drunken handiwork, gets more hard time to think about it:
When you think about all the drivers out there like this, it makes you mad, and maybe a little extra careful.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Catching up with the Aerogarden

Well I had to fire up the Aerogarden on Christmas Day. Here is what has happened since then.
The basils were the first to peek out of the sponge, after just a couple of days (large picture). Then leaves appeared and up came the chives and thyme .

After a week pretty much every thing was up except a parsley. It's still the runt of the lot.
We tried piggybacking an avocado seed on the thing. I didn't plug in the mint cylinder due to the abundance of mint outside.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dude I made cheese

Following a tip from a "local foods" blog, I got a cheesemaking kit and put it to work tonight. I actually made mozarella, and a little ricotta as a by-product. I also made a mess: it looks like Little Miss Muffet sneezed her bowl of famous eats across my countertop. It all took about an hour.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two words: ski bike

How's this for a breath of fresh air:
Those things look like fun, but what about brakes?

More mushroom

The mushroom jar projects haven't really done much after a couple of days. The mycelium does seem to be spreading, but it's only into the layer of potting soil so far. The good news is, there doesn't seem to be any mold. I have been keeping them under fluorescent light.

I put some of the other mushroom log chunks in the kitchen sink. I figured it would get some second hand moisture there. It worked! I have a decent looking mushroom coming up. I am careful not to get any direct hits on it with very hot water. There does not seem to be too much of a mold problem either.

Planting something next to the flow of water transformed my sink into a riverbed, my plumbing a source of life. I think this is an extraordinary concept. And hey, free mushroom.

Aerogarden hack #1

You know the deal about buying herbs at the supermarket. You spend $2.50 for a packet of each herb you're using. You use half of it and put the rest in the fridge to slowly rot.

That was the situation with myself and some cilantro. Until I decided. . . to. . . stuff the whole lot in one of the Aerogarden slots! You see, I had set aside the mint module that came with my herb kit as I already have tons of mint growing outside.

The handful of cut herbs filled the hole nicely. I put a little plastic container over them to keep them from drying out under the brilliant grow bulbs. If they actually take root in that nutrient soup---I will be a genius. This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for the garden appliance.

In effect what I am trying to do, is use this device as a substitute for the refrigerator in this instance. With the added bonus of growing more of the herb. It will be great if this works, as Aerogarden doesn't include cilantro in the kits any more as it is too hard to grow from seed.

I also want to see if I can get some lemon or lime seeds started. I don't know if supermarket varieties would be a practical choice for a domestic situation, however.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mushroom madness

I have been busy moving, hence the lack of agricultural updates. Last night I did the next step in my attempt to salvage the remnants of my mushroom log.

I packed some of the cleaner looking bits in the spent grains I got from my friendly local home brewer. Before I did, I sampled one of the grains. It was very sweet. Before I did this, I let them bake at about 150' for at least 24 hours. They were frozen solid when I put them in the oven but a day later, when I opened them up, they were gently steamy inside.

I didn't sterilize my jar but it was clean. Hopefully the steam from the grains kept the mold away while not penetrating the mycelium. That's just one of my theories.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Politics of (oil) consumption

In the New York Times today, Guns, Germs, & Steel author Jared Diamond offers this pithy quote:
Much American consumption is wasteful and contributes little or nothing to quality of life. For example, per capita oil consumption in Western Europe is about half of ours, yet Western Europe’s standard of living is higher by any reasonable criterion, including life expectancy, health, infant mortality, access to medical care, financial security after retirement, vacation time, quality of public schools and support for the arts. Ask yourself whether Americans’ wasteful use of gasoline contributes positively to any of those measures.