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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Joe & Mike enjoying the gentle grades after climbing and descending Crother's road. Posted by Hello

Dick & Donna climbing Mt. Hamilton Posted by Hello

Joe enjoying the view after a brisk descent Posted by Hello

Springtime in the California desert Posted by Hello

Fields of yellow, lavendar and green on the backside of Mt. Hamilton Posted by Hello

Joe Gross enjoying the view just before the descent to Rest Stop #2 Posted by Hello

Western wheelers taking a break at rest stop #2 Posted by Hello

Mike fixing his second flat of the day Posted by Hello

The 3 of us at the end. I look worn out, Mike looks kinda funny, and Joe looks ready to do it again. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Back to waterbottles

I experimented for a bit with cycling with a camelbak. After 3 decently long rides with the camelbak, I'm going back to waterbottles. (Yes, they're heavier, no, I'm not getting rid of my Camelbak completely --- it's still a great solution for hiking)

  1. Balance. When cycling, the camelbak has a tendency to slip and then put all the weight on one shoulder or the other. This is extremely annoying, and at times painful. And all the contortions I go through to try to correct that while riding is dangerous.
  2. Comfort. Having something heavy on my back when it's hot is uncomfortable. Plus it puts pressure on my lower back, which already is the most vulnerable part of my muscle groups.
  3. Hygiene. I like having one bottle for Cytomax or other sports drinks, while having a second bottle for just plain water. If I put Cytomax in my camelbak, I'm stuck with Cytomax and no water, or I have to put a water bottle cage on my bike, in which case why not reduce back pain and have no camelbak? If I carry just water on my Camelbak, then I end up using Endurolytes or some other pill based stuff, which just isn't as effective as Cytomax (because I have to stop to take them). If the point of the Camelbak is aerodynamics of saving weight, then having to stop to take Endurolytes kinda defeats the point, doesn't it? On top of that, once you've put something like Cytomax in your Camelbak, it's impossible to clean it out completely, so you risk your Camelbak gunking up and becoming a nest of horrid biology experiments.
With that, I ended up putting water bottle cages on my Fuji, and also putting on a pump mount and mountin the pump on the frame. It's not a bad way to go, and it's proven its value for years and years and miles and miles.

By the way, the Camelbak is unbeatable for hiking. It lets you drink while walking, and it carries a lot more water than a few waterbottles. I frequently find that I drink a lot more than I normally do, just because it's so convenient.
Booty from the Cupertino Bikes Swap Meet

Shimano M520 pedals (new in box): $20
Solvang Century Socks 2 pairs: $5
Pedros Orange Peelz 16oz drip bottle: $2
Entrance fee: $2

Not bad at all!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Tripel Karmeliet, the Beer for non-beer drinks

I'm not a beer drinker. I don't like it, and never picked up the habit, except for a three week bike trip in Europe where I found that beer was cheaper than bottled water.

Then one day, Charlie Ayers at Google hosted a special dinner and served Tripel Karmeliet. It was a fantastic beer, and I went back for a couple more servings. Then I was stumped. How could I buy it? I found it at Beltramo's, but they had four small bottles for $14 or so. On top of that, there was a time when they lied to me, telling me they had it in stock and then when I showed up they didn't have it!

I was glad when a search on Google brought me Internet Wines and Spirits, which sold the 750ml bottles for $9 each (after the hefty shipping and handling charges), which was quite acceptable. The delivery was quick, and everything showed up unbroken.

I was worried that the beer wouldn't live up to my expectations after this time, but I shouldn't have been concerned. It's just as good as I remembered, and worth the extra effort of finding it online, especially since there wasn't any other beer that I enjoyed.
Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel about cloning and organ donation. It's also about the value of art. A true literary novel, it's got multiple layers at every level, making the novel rich. Unfortunately, the detached voice of the narrator (one who perhaps was raised to be detached about her body) makes everything quite distant for me.
Vanguard reduces hurdle for admiral shares

This is great news! The $250k limit used to be a massive barrier. Now, $100k isn't exactly chump change, but it does affect my investment strategy --- my goal now is to bring as many of my funds up to $100k as possible to enjoy lower costs.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Fuji, after all adjustments
Replaced the Fuji saddle with a Flite (both seats have Ti rails, so no weight difference), replaced the stem with the moto-ace 115 rise 110mm (100g weight increase).

Commute time on my 8 mile (slight downhill) commute: 18mph. (Including slowing down for stop lights, etc, etc.) A full 3mph faster than my Heron. Forget everything anyone ever told you about "weight doesn't matter." It does!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Totoro & Holy Cow conspire to push Hello Kitty off bed Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Me with my Fuji Team SL, Steve Prothero, and anotherWestern Wheeler Posted by Hello
Fantastic New Restaurant Scoop

Lisa & I found a fantastic new Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose. It's so new it's not even in either Google local or Yahoo local. Asia Moon Restaurant, 385 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128. Phone: 408-248-0018, Fax: 408-248-0019. Hours: Mon-Sun 10:30am-10:00pm.

We tried the vegetarian spring rolls (very good, it was truly vegetarian). I then had the filet mignon with garlic noodles while Lisa had the lemongrass string bean with garlic noodles. The garlic noodles were heavenly (the last place we found good garlic noodles was Thanh Long in San Francisco), and the filet mignon was delightful. (The Vietnamese know how to do beef!) The string bean was pretty good as well. Highly recommended. It wasn't crowded (yet), but it soon will be.

Remember: you heard it from me first.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Joining the SVBC as a life member.

There are not many organizations I'm willing to associate with for life, but the SVBC is one of them. They were responsible for many improvements in cyclists' lives in the Bay Area:
  • Accessbility to Foothill Expressways and other expressways in the area
  • Bikes on Caltrain
  • Dumbarton Bridge Bike Path
As someone who's used all those facilities, I've gotten more than $500 of value out of them already. (The savings of living for 7 years car-free in the Bay Area has more than made up for that!)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Lyra's Oxford

Set in the Oxford of His Dark Materials, after the events of that books have taken place. It's a little fluffy piece, but doesn't take too long to read, so it's not a waste of time.

"But it feels like it," Pan said. "It feels as if the whole city's looking after us. So what we feel is part of the meaning, isn't it?"
"Yes! It is. It must be. Not the whole of it, and there's a lot more we don't even know is there, probably... Like all those meanings in the alethiometer, he ones we have to go deep down to find. Things you never suspect. But that's part of it, no question."
The city, their city---
belonging was one of the meanings of that, and protection, and home.
Stress Test on the Fuji

Did a 51 mile ride today, about 35 of which was with the club. The wheels, which had been giving me so much trouble before, seem to have settled down and gave me no trouble despite the pounding I was giving them. I know Grant says there's not much difference between bikes and frames when it comes to weight, but let me tell you, the 10 pound difference between my Heron touring bike and my Fuji was the difference between me being able to hang on and accelerate with the fast club riders at 28-30mph, and being dropped on the first rolling hill we came across. Sure, I don't think a pound or two makes a difference, but 5 pounds makes a world of difference, and 10 pounds --- it's like having an extra couple of pounds of muscle!

On the climb I worked full bore (the bike is geared so high that I have no choice other than to work really really hard) and went up the hill at speeds between 6-9mph, a full 2-3mph faster than I was able to manage before. Half of this was due to the weight and the other half was due to the position Terry's given me: it's a position further back and lower and he's right about me being able to recruit more muscles when I need power --- I was spinning up the hill in a 36x27, and my cadence was a full 10-20rpm faster than the folks I passed, even the ones with lower gears. I am extremely pleased overall with the bike. It is light and everything I wanted a light bike to be.

I am not so pleased with the stock saddle. I think it's a bit too narrow, but more than that, the cloth fabric top grabs my bike shorts and causes a ton of chafing, which has rubbed my bottom a bit raw. That saddle will get replaced! And of course, the stem has to show up --- the low position is making my shoulders and neck sore.
Car Politics

My suspicions are true: evil people drive SUVs, and Republicans are evil.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Quote from Alan Moore

Excerpt from An Interview With Alan Moore

That seems to be something that people don't understand about super-heroes---there is no perfection, you know? You can't be Superman unless you want to.

Well I think being Superman---I mean to even be a superior being---it's not actually to do with having powers or to believe. You've already got powers. All of us have incredible abilities, talents, things that can achieve miraculous things. Most of us, yeah, we've got all of these superpowers and we never do anything: we sit down on the sofar and watch TV, and drink beer and zone out---and I suppose that if we had got telepahty or super-breath or the power of flight or invulnerability, we'd probably still sit on the sofar and watch TV and drink beer. It's like, most people, it wouldn't matter whether they did rescue a dying alien, jet rocketing here with babies from an exploding planet, or find the magic flying ring or whatever, it wouldn't matter, because it's not heroism or super-heroism or just simply being a decent person. It's nothing to do with gaining special powers to do this with.

If you are a fully aware and awake human being, you will see the quite marvelous powers that you, as an ordinary human being, already have at your disposal. And you'll see how you are using those powers or not using them. Now, I mean, there's plenty of people on this planet---I mean, in terms of what they could accomplish---how much below fictional Superman does say, Bill Gates rate? Bill Gates has this superpower of immense wealth. Now you've got that much money, am I right in thinking that you could pretty much do anything?


And Bill Gates is not the only sort of fantastically rich person on the face of the planet, so these are people who have superpowers. When have they saved the world, ended hunger, done magnificent, massive gestures---did they even save a snoopy girl reporter from falling out of a window? They didn't. We have people with super-powers on this planet and they're not necessarily superior people. On the other hand we have some people on this planet who would seem to be completely disadvantaged and not have anything going for them anmd yet they've accomplished fantastic acts.

I'd like people to actually think about, what does heroism mean? What is power? Does Stephen Hawking have a super-power? I mean, he would seem to me upon the available evidence to be much smarter than, say, Superman or Brainiac 5. Ands he's even iun a wheelchair, so he could join the X-men or the Doom Patrol, or any of those kind of differently-abled friendly super outfdits.

The super-powers don't really matter at the end of the day, it's the characters that are important. Just as it doesn't really matter whether me or you or the reader ever gains the ability to run faster than light and get a neat costume. That won't make any difference to us. If we're an asshole now, all we will be then is an asshole in a neat costume who can run faster than light. This is not going to really improve the universe any, you know? The important thing is that ordinary human beings are fanatastic. They are fantastic in what they can do and what they can be. They can do fantastic things to their world for good or ill. They don't need powers. They don't need outfits and chest insignia. With things like Watchmen and a lot of my subsequent work I've tried to sort of suggest that. That habing superpowers wouldn't necessarily make you a nice person and that ordinary human beings are what we've got to work with: we don't have any superheroes here.

Source: The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore, pg. 118

Post script in 2012: Bill Gates has indeed done amazing things with his money since.