Thursday, August 28, 2008

The river was angry and swollen

Another day biking to work. I ditched the Riverwalk this time in favor of a lesser used street.

The way in was otherwise routine but during lunch my bike showed further evidence of falling apart. The cover came off one of my tail lights and I ended up losing one of the AAA batteries (I need to secure them with a rubber band or something). On the way home my left Grip Shift somehow separated so that I only had the lowest gear up front.

It was amusing to think that I was down to one derailleur, and one brake. I had a skinnier wheel in the back from my mountain bike and the brake was too loose to grip it. Why the wheel swap? I just got the spoke repaired on the original one---$20 right there. Me and my redundant systems. If it got dark I would be relying on just a single tail light too.

The general feeling I got was of substandard readiness, if not pending collapse. I swapped the rear rack with the one on my other mountain bike, but even that doesn't seem heavy duty enough for the 30 pounds of lead-acid batteries. The newest thing on the bike is the seat, and it's not really all that comfortable. I'd like to redo everything so it is all aviation grade.

The river on the way home was brown and swollen from all the recent rain. It seemed kind of cranky.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

End of passive aquaponics experiment

I just shut down the passive aquaponics experiment I had on my porch. This was basically a cheap styrofoam cooler stocked with some guppies and some AeroGarden plants floating on top.

The main reason I took it in was the cooler, the kind you get when you buy steaks by mail order, was beginning to leak too much.

Amazingly, the little experiment worked pretty well. The fish survived a couple of months with no motorized filter even though it got to up to 111'F out there. I got a little bit of basil out of the deal and my chives even came back from the dead (both of these originally planted last Christmas).

The fish are now chilling in a small aquarium and most of the plants are back in the original AeroGarden.

I do believe the concept works on a small scale. If I were to do it again, I would get a real cooler with a drain on the bottom for waste purposes. I would have to figure out some way to put in the seed pods, probably just cut holes out of the top with a template. That should make a very efficient---and portable---little garden.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spider mites again :(

Spider mites have again proved the downfall of a promising AeroGarden. This time it was my cherry tomatoes. I did not get a single fruit off of them. They look like crap so I'm chucking em in the compost pile. I was unable to grow a single tomato this year by any method.

I suspect it's still getting too hot in my little side room, although I tried to keep the ceiling fan running. Maybe my squalid apartment is just infested, which wouldn't surprize me, as it's home to almost every other kind of bug.

I do have a few healthy plants like the pobablano and the squash... just not a lot of fruit action. One of my lemons is turning ripe though, after several months. I should get a half dozen in all.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm a real bike commuter now

It's hard to be a real bike commuter when you work at home. Now I've taken a real job a bikeable distance away: about three miles, part of it along a river walk.

There is a short but incredibly steep incline involved. I actually rode my bike to the job interview yesterday and arrived in reasonably presentable condition thanks to the electric drive. I carried a blazer in my back basket. Temperature was only in the mid-80s.

Of course, the lifestyle is not always a walk in the park. I have to ride next to a canal where an alligator is known to live. I am more concerned about maintenance issues right now. That broken spoke presents a thorny issue, one that may require the services of my local bike shop. In general, my electrified entry-level mountain bike is showing the strain of hard, fast riding under a heavy payload of lead-acid batteries.

On the plus side, I have some nice scenery in my daily life now. This will get me out of the house more. And the repair issues give me an excuse to have two bikes.

They noticed I rode a bike yesterday but didn't mention it until after they offered me the job. Apparently they don't hate bikes/bikers. Maybe it is the cool thing to do now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Late summer bikin'

It's hard to believe fall is just around the corner. It is so green down by the river. The green of Ireland or Hawaii. That's how green it is.

It's still been getting hot as heck lately, 98'F today. My patio plants are holding on though. I harvested some aquaponic herbs and a couple of little ornamental peppers lately. My remaining poblanos are looking good, but they'd be happier in bigger pots.

I have been biking more and even pedaled to a tennis tournament. After playing two hard matches it was quite a slog riding it back home. Fortunately I found two new pedestrian bridges near the university that cut out two busy street crossings. Still, the ol' e-bike has not been performing too well. I must have forgot to charge it because the low battery light was on when I left and it was completely dead on the way back.

I found part of the problem today: a broken spoke. This put the wheel out of true and made it rub against the breaks. These cheap bikes are high maintenance. I also had a staple in the tire, giving it a slow leak, which is the only reason I was even looking at it. I am also trying to bolster the lame rack in the back, but there is still a wobble.