This Space for Rent

Oct 31, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Is it a tricky treat, or a treaty trick?

Oct 30, 2008

It’s that time of year again.


Only one halloween pumpkin this year, so we chose a big one and carved it with supervision from the bears.

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears pause to consider their next move on the trip home from school.


Oct 29, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


An airport-bound train spins around in circles after leaving Gateway Transit center. The 55mm super-tak kept me from showing the full majesty of the maneuver; I’ll try to drag the Zenitar lens with me the next time I go out on the line, and even then the fisheye effect will tend to reduce the bizarrity of the trackwork out there.

Oct 28, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A Bombardier type 1 car leads a Gresham-bound train out of Gateway Transit Center at around 10:15 today. For a variation, I took this picture without the artistic chain-link fence in the way.

Pretty flower picture of the day


The last three times I took a ramble out along Marine Drive, I would ride past a clump of pretty flowers, and think “Oh, I don’t want to stop now, but maybe I should take a picture of them before they fade,” but then completely forget about them until the next time. This morning, I’d forgotten, as usual, but when I saw the clump I stepped on the brakes (for values of “stepped on” that apply to handbrakes,) skidded to a stop, clambered off the bicycle, and took a stack of photos.

And then I got on the bicycle again, rode for about 5km, and had my ride rudely punctuated by a shattered bottle that jabbed itself into my front wheel (and by the time I’d gotten the torn tube out (5 minutes), patched it (30 seconds), waited for the patch to dry (5-6 minutes), and reassembled the wheel (10 minutes; I’m not sure how the people at the LBS can pull apart and put together tires as quickly as they do, but it’s a skill that I need to develop PARTICULARLY if I ever start doing brevets and put myself into situations where I need to fix a wheel at midnight in the pouring rain 20km away from the nearest sign of civilization) any hope of getting another 75km had vanished with the morning’s dew.)

At least the strip of rubber I left by the flower on Marine Drive isn’t one of those things that’s likely to fatally compromise a tire.


Oct 27, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A pair of city-bound trams come off the airport way ramp onto the i205 median strip, carefully ducking down low enough so that they hide behind the chainlink fence separating the bicycle path from the freeway.

Oct 26, 2008

Pretty flower picture of the day


I stopped to snap the flowers on my (short; only 43km) bikeride this afternoon, and I couldn’t resist putting my shadow into the picture.

Oct 25, 2008

So, just what do I have to do to get 75km out of an east Portland loop?


When I strike the 233rd/Fairview cliff shortcut, I start getting into a reasonable distance for a saturday “morning” (I didn’t even get out of the house until 10am, so it was 12:30 before I reached the Portland Traction trail and coasted leisurely on home) outing. Taking the trail home is nice in that I know exactly how far I have to go (from Rugg Road the sections are Brickworks/Gresham City Park/Gresham west/Powell detour/Powell Butte/Lents/82nd/Ramp/Springwater/Home; each one roughly 7 minutes unless I’m feeling energetic,) but it’s not nice in that I know exactly how far I have to go, and there’s not very much new to see, so there’s not much to do except mentally tick down the minutes to home.

It must be fall, because there weren’t that many cyclists out along the river despite it being sunny and in the high fifties (and there was absolutely nobody when I dropped south along 257th to reach the end of the paved part of the trail; after that, the walkers and cyclists were thick upon the ground, so I couldn’t have gone fast even if I’d wanted to.) The next time around (tomorrow? I suppose I could always ride out to Sandy and then loop back through Boring and onto Foster) I’ll have to try to avoid the trail if I want to avoid any time and distance-saving shortcuts.

But today was 72.5km/45 miles, with one 20 minute stop at the old railroad station in Troutdale to take pictures of YAFYEs, and averaging a somewhat more sprighty 14¼ mph. And, even without the 233rd/Fairview shortcut, this was not exactly the level ride that I foolishly expect from East Portland:


The novelty factor is still pretty high here; I’ve removed the cycle computer from the Trek so I have no way of telling speed/max speed/distance until I get home and can download the waypoints from the dinky headless gps receiver I carry with me. I suspect that not having the cycle computer slows me down at the start of my trip, because I don’t have the small scowling display saying “YOU’RE NOT GOING 22 MPH, SLACKER!” but that’s made up for by still having some energy at the end of the trip, so I can still move along at non-glacial rates on the last stretch towards home.

Perhaps I’ll work up to a 100km loop next weekend.

YAFYE picture of the day


Four Yellow Menace locomotives lead a westbound container train across the Sandy River at Troutdale just before noon today, just as the scattered overcast pulled back for my return to Portland (for values of “return” that include “go south to the end of the paved part of the Portland Traction trail, then pick my way home around the walkers and other bicyclists”)

I’d tossed a couple of (unused; once again the only parts of me that got cold cold were my toes and my ears) t-shirts into my rack bag, so I was able to bring the 55mm/f1.8 Super-Tak without worrying so much about it disintegrating on me, so this picture was taken with it (1/250th second exposure @f8.) Everything is manual focus, as usual, which puts me somewhat outside the mainstream for people who use digital cameras.

Oct 24, 2008

Project of the weekend

Pentax Bag

There are a couple of problems that keep me from reliably lugging my *istDS around when I go rambling around east Portland on my bike; first, when I put it into the rack bag I carry supplies in on these short trips, it gets jounced around and anything that’s not tightly screwed in may become unscrewed (like the barrel front of the K50/1.2 lens which is now sitting forlornly in the “to be repaired when I can afford to pay for it or replace it when repairing it myself destroys it” cabinet), and secondly, when it’s on the rack the process of taking a picture involves not just stopping the bicycle, but twisting around to unzip and unstow the camera, and then doing the same thing in reverse when I’m done with the picture taking.

The means that unless it’s a trolley or something spectacular like a flight of Ivory-Billed woodpeckers, I’m likely to just keep chugging down the line instead of documenting my trip. (And this is not likely to change when I finish radicalising (a job that is almost done, now that I’ve ordered the 135mm wheelset + new cassette + new chain [the people at the LBS pointed out that the Suntour shifter I’ve got now will have to be run in friction mode to work with anything else, but my patience for indexed shifting is running low as the old gears and chain wear to the point where they start to require en-route adjustments to give me anything outside of (13,16,18)-(52,48) on my hypothetically 14-speed bicycle,] but I’ll deal with that problem if the new back end decides to become a single-speed transmission) the Trek, because dumping the camera into one of the Freeloaders would put it further back and down lower than the already inconvenient arrangement I’ve got now.

Fortunately, I’ve got a sewing machine, a workshop, and a huge stack of fabric from SCRAP and Trillium Artisans, and I’ve done enough sewing so that I have a fighting chance of being able to cut and piece a bag that actually looks baglike. Thus this little bag; it’s not finished yet (I need to form a wire harness that loops over the top of the handlebars and velcroes (via another SCRAP find) to the stem, then bolt that to the plastic backplate and sew the rest of the assemblage together,) but it’s just the right size to fit my *istDS, a spare lens, my keys, the little gps thing I use for distance and velocity recording, and a cookie bar or two.

And it’s home-made, so it’s free™ and if I end up hating the idea of a handlebar bag marring the pristine beauty of my battle-scarred decades-old bicycle, I can get rid of it without dropping US$90 for the privilege of doing so.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Still life with Dust Mite and handpainted dumpster-dive prize.

Oct 23, 2008

I don’t think I’ll be taking that shortcut again


I went out for another early morning ride today (slightly later than yesterday, so I ended up missing the brief bit of morning sunlight and instead got to ride the entire trip under cold damp cloudy skies) and managed to mispack (“mispack” is a polite way to say “didn’t pack”) my map packet. As a result, I had to make my best guess about where to turn back, and, remembering the wierd tangle of roads up by downtown Troutdale and the Sandy river, cut across to the Portland Traction trail on Fairview Ave/233rd. I knew that the Portland Traction line had climbed quite a bit by the time it reached Gresham, but what I didn’t realize was that 233rd climbed up to that level by the simple expedient of going vertically up the side of a bluff.


That’s quite a surprise for halfway in on a loop, and it was even more surprising to get home and realize that I’d managed to shortcut my way to less than 60km for the morning trip. I’d like to go out tomorrow morning and correct that deficiency, but, alas, tomorrow is not a school day and the bears are going to be at home, and I get the sneaky suspicion that, like Calvin, they won’t be at all keen on the idea of bundling up and doing the Petite Tour of East Portland.

At least this means I’ll be able to go out to a LBS and see how much a new wheel for the Free Radical will cost. I’ll just have to do a longer ride on Saturday.

Trolley picture of the day


A Beaverton-bound Airport train approaches the north end of Maywood Park. The chain link fence in the foreground separates the i205 bike trail from the freeway, so the artsy patterning is supplied for free

Oct 22, 2008

Bicycle lust, magpie-style

It's PINK, damnit!

Even after riding it for about 20 years now, I’m still happy with my Trek 1000; when I bought it, the people at the (now demised) OutSpoken bike shop helped me select the right size, so I can get on the thing and ride it until I get too tired to continue without mangling my arms, my legs, or my butt (I’m someone who has resisted wearing the standard bicyclist pull-up-diaper style pants, so being able to put 40-50 miles on this bicycle and still be able to stand is a good thing,) so I haven’t been paying much attention to the whole custom-built bicycle market despite Portland having so many custom builders that you couldn’t fit all of them into a two-car interurban train, but would have to add a second section to get them back to the warehouse where all of their stolen bicycles were found.

Possibly it’s because none of them paint their bicycles pink.

Or, at least most of them don’t paint their bicycles pink. Sweetpea Bicycles, which appears to be the custom bicycle maker of choice for quite a few of the bicycling weblogs I read, builds bicycles pretty much exclusively for women, and had the exquisite good taste to paint one of their prototypes pink.

It looks like a really nice bike, with about the same frame geometry that my Trek 1000 has, but with better laid out cableways and a wider rear triangle. I’m lusting pretty severely after this bike. But if it wasn’t pink, I wouldn’t have taken the second look, and gotten to the “but it’s soooo pretty” stage.

This is perhaps a good reason to start thinking about looking for another job.

Trolley picture of the day


Two trains – both in the new Tri-Met colo(u)r scheme – cross at Gateway Transit center. Picture taken on the return leg of my 50km ramble this morning (Industar 50-2, 1/45th second @ ~f10) because I couldn’t resist taking the camera on a new route through East Portland.

Branching out


This morning, I decided that I would try out the new windbreaker (Showers Pass, bright blue but with an embarrassingly bikey name) and the nice (Ibex) woolen undershirt I picked up when I got the surgically altered free radical back from Clever Cycles) by starting out nice and early in the morning when it was officially Too Cold for me (5°C, with a good strong wind from the northeast) and riding as far as I could before I either (a) froze or (b) had to turn around and return home so I could meet my parents for lunch.

For paranoia’s sake, I rolled up a fleece vest and wedged it into a bag.

I didn’t freeze or need the fleece vest. I barely even got cold (and that only when I stopped to take pictures of streetcars) and when I got home I discovered that not only was I warm, but that the wool undershirt was dripping with sweat. It’s pretty nice to return from a 50km ramble and to feel, except for cold toes, warm as a toastlike object.

It’s too bad that I had to come back; I wasn’t even slightly tired and I think I could have easily ridden another 25k in the wide-open flatlands of east Portland.

~50km @ ~21.5 km/h (31 miles @ 13.4 mph); it will be interesting to see how much this changes when I attach the Free Radical to the trek (the “one last thing” list has grown to include “new rear wheel” because the existing rear wheel is < 120mm wide, and I’d rather have a wider hub to take full advantage of the 135mm spacing of the xtracycle dropouts instead of having 15+ mm of shim on the existing hub , and “new chain” because the existing chain skipped a couple of times when I was climbing up towards the (for lack of a better word) summit of the i205 trail in Maywood Park, and one of the signs of a worn-out chain is apparently skipping under load, so those two things will need to be corrected before I sit down and re-extend the frame.)

Oct 21, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas walks across the Llewellyn schoolyard to look at a wasp nest that lies forlornly on the pavement after being bug-zapped and torn out of a light fixture by the maintenance crew.

Oct 20, 2008

Getting there


After a little bit of surgery, I now have a properly fitting free radical for my Trek. There are a few tiny things that need to be tweaked (I need to grab a cantilever brake for the rear wheel, it’s possible I need to have the axle pulled and replaced with one that’s a little bit longer, and I need to sit down and whittle a tiny aluminum wedge to shim between the top cringingly named attachment plate and the now-truncated attachment tongue on the free radical (the chainstays tilt down towards the crankset, but the ntat does not, so if I bolt it all together as tightly as the instructions say, that might be a little bit more high tension than I want it to have,) but there’s a lot more there there than there was when I first walked into Clever Cycles and asked to be xtracized.

I probably won’t get the conversion done tomorrow, but perhaps wednesday, and then I can see how the thing feels during a 40 mile (~3 hours, which is about all I can fit in while the bears are off at school) ramble around East Portland.

Oct 19, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo reminds us that it’s time to change the placemats at the dinner table.

The gateway drug


As the picture says, I’ve still not gotten the free radical attached to this bicycle (it’s down at the LBS having the warranty hacksawed off so I can wedge the tongue into the short short short chainstays.)

What the picture does not say, however, is how bicycling appears to have eaten my brain. It was probably a bad idea to decide that riding my bicycle was the best way to bring down my out of control blood pressure (and it did, just as long as I put 20+ miles a day in on the thing) just as I completely burned out on programming and politics, because this freed up a large block of free time that I could then fill with getting on the Trek and GTFOODing for a few hours.

The pictures of the day have become a lot more homey because I stopped lugging the *istDS around on the bike not very long after the day when my 50/f1.2 prime vibrated itself into two pieces (I’m using a 55/1.8 Super Tak (US$25), a Tamron 28/2.8 (US$20), and an equally ancient Soviet MIR-1 (US$1) [which needs to be adjusted so that infinity is further than 6 meters away] as new workaround lenses, so it’s not as if I’d be out US$350 if any of them failed, but I still don’t want to add more lenses to the pile of broken “I’ll have this fixed when I recover sufficiently to look for a (shudder) computer job” items) and the only time I have to take pictures are when I’m (a) picking the bears up from school or (b) wandering around the house in the evening trying to find something to take a picture of so I won’t miss the picture-a-day routine.

It doesn’t help that the *istDS seems really big and clumsy when I’m wrestling it out of a pannier so I can get a picture of something, or when I’m trying to wedge it back in so it won’t fall out and become a multi-hundred dollar pile of broken plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, and optical glass (and it’s not easy to replace, because as far as I’ve been able to tell the last Pentax cameras that have pentaprisms and support actual TTL flash metering are the *istDSes. The new tiny K-m/K2000 is a pentamirror and doesn’t do TTL flash, which makes it much less useful for my style of “everything manual except for flash metering” photography. If I did have a computer job, a VoigtländerEpson RD1 would make a nice replacement (so, yeah, it’s a rangefinder, and I’d have to buy a used version because Epson decided to stop selling them. But I believe it would be the smallest and lightest digital camera I could find with an optical finder and a non-ridiculous crop factor) but I don’t so the large and relatively fragile *istDS stays home while I take my almost-daily ride out to Gresham and back.

And, anyway, all the free time I’ve got at home these days is filled up with reading about those mad bicyclists who regularly do 200+km rambles, and thinking that it would be really really fun to load up the trekracycle with supplies for a day trip, then ride it to Astoria, Tillamook, or up to Seattle so I could spend a day watching the trolleybusses go by (I’m not exactly sure how I would fit this in between dropping them off at school at 8:05 and picking them up at 14:15, but if I could arrange it I would be one of the healthiest inmates at the asylum.)

So no time for pictures. Or code. Must pedal. (actually, “must get windbreaker because it’s too damn cold in the morning to pedal unless something gets in the way of that nasty wind,” but it’s the thought that counts.)

Oct 18, 2008

Picture of the day


Looking down Bybee after the sun went down, which was the only time I went out of the house with my Pentax today.

Oct 17, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


We got a new catnip mouse into the house tonight, and, after Leo and Mavis had had their turns attacking it, licking it, and collapsing into a drugged stupor Dorrie snuck out and started taking her turn. Leo did not like this one bit, and he attempted to attack Dorrie, at which point I plunked myself down between them and reminded Leo (repeatedly) that *I* was the alpha cat at this point in time.

So Leo spent the next 20 minutes sculking around trying to figure out a way to sneak past me and get revenge on the cute but stupid black and white cat who was getting stoned with his weed.

He didn’t succeed, and eventually Dorrie staggered off with the munchies so I could retrieve the sodden and disgusting catnip mouse and deposit it at his feet.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


The carpenter’s friend

Oct 16, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


A cushion with ears, a tail, and a raspy little tongue.

Cute baby pictures of the (yester)day

ArborealRussell<- ->ArborealSilas

Russell and Silas climbing trees at Llewellyn School yesterday afternoon.

(about the time I was falling asleep last night, I remembered that I’d not yet posted a picture of the day, but couldn’t be bothered to climb out of my warm bed and ftp the offending pictures over to tsfr. Ah, well, so it goes.)


Oct 14, 2008

Picture of the day


A tree helpfully blocks the harsh rays of the sun.

Oct 13, 2008

Picture of the day


One of the engines from station 20 (just down Bybee from our house) heads west at 17th & Bybee.

Oct 12, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo the gargoyle-cat.

Oct 11, 2008

It’s like our own little community theatre production of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Our prius decided this afternoon that it would be a wonderful 7th birthday present to have the check engine light come on when we tried to start it up to go out for dinner. If I had a job, it would be a severe pain in the ass, but since I don’t have a job it falls into the realm of “I wonder if it’s more important to have a car or to have health insurance?”

I guess it’s time to start thinking about what sort of job I can find (one that doesn’t have a single goddamn thing to do with computers, I hope) so that I can go back to treading water in this goddamn house until the day I fall over dead and don’t have to worry about it any more.


The pause that refreshes


A Northern Flicker takes a break from the ant buffet to make sure that my Pentax isn’t about to leap out and attack.


Railroad picture of the day


A newly painted WAMX switcher, tied in behind the engines on a southbound Yellow Menace freight just north of the Portland Traction trail bridge.

Oct 10, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite vs. woven sheep patterns.

Oct 09, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


The student.

Oct 08, 2008

The curse of the bicycle


Several decades ago, I took (most of my) paycheck and trotted down to the local bicycle shop (the now-demised OutSpoken, on Belmont in Chicago) and bought myself as much bicycle as I could get for US$1000. The (newly released at that time?) all-aluminum (except for the fork, I think) Trek 1000 they recommended turned out to be a pretty good bicycle; I used it a bit in Chicago, including a couple of trips where I crated it up and took it on holiday to Hawaii (but, thanks to some ill-timed monsoons, never got to do the once around Oahu trip I wanted to do,) and eventually ended up using it as my bicycle up here in Oregon. As a go-out-on-the-line-and-pedal-really-fast bike, it’s pretty good, but as a go-to-the-grocery-store-and-bring-back-food bike, it, um, needs work.

So, after waffling about it for at least two years, I finally decided that I would buy an Xtracycle Free Radical and stretch this puppy out into a longer, but still gratifyingly light, dual-purpose vehicle. Seems like a fairly simple procedure; buy a free radical kit, then spend a day tearing down the bicycle, stretching it out, then getting used to riding a 25% longer vehicle.

But first, to avoid confusion, it would be good to actually measure the thing, right? It’s just a regular old touring bike, so it shouldn’t be any problem, or so I’d think. But, no, there is one critical measurement that gets in the way; the free radical has a tongue that fits in between the chainstays (it bolts into the back dropouts, then is anchored to the very front of the chainstays by a couple of hefty plates and a big old bolt) that’s approximately 40.5cm long, and the Trek 1000 chainstays are appoximately 40.6cm long.

And the seatpost is raked back 15%, so that 40.6 cm becomes < 40.5cm approximately 1/3rd of the height of the tongue above the chainstay. So the Xtracycle assembly instructions that say “clamp a couple of” (the cringingly badly-named) “FAPs around the chainstays and rest the tongue of the free radical ON TOP OF THEM” runs headlong into the teeny problem that I’d have to cut a big old hole in (and, needless to say, COMPLETELY DESTROY the structural integrity of) the seatpost.

So, damn, that’s just not going to work.

I could go out and hunt around in the used bicycle racks for a nice donorcycle, and use it as the front end for a (second) chore-only xtracycle, but one of my combined chore-and-exercise (for I am fond of my heart, and if I am to keep the damned thing pressurising my blood at ~120/70 instead of the much more cardiacally exciting ~160/100 that it was running before I quit work this spring, I pretty much need to ride at least 120 miles a week) routines is “ride 30 miles, then pop in at the store and pick up supplies before going home,” and that won’t tend to work so well if it becomes ‘ride 30 miles, go home, change bicycles, then ride down to the shop" because my native indolence tends to put a full stop after the “go home” portion of the itinerary, and I worry that a cheap used bicycle is likely to be some hugely heavy mass of steel that would be adverse to being driven at reasonable speeds.

Perhaps there’s some custom bicycle builder in town that could build me a custom cringingly named attachment plate so I could cuddle the free radical tongue down between the chainstays, or I could spend the US$500, then hire some metalworker to cut down the tongue to 38cm, or I could sell more camera gear (not that I’ve got much left I want to sell, alas; I sold much of my camera gear so I could buy this Macbook Air I’m typing on right now) and buy a new aluminum bike just like the cursed Trek (except with 43cm chainstays.)

The problem is that I don’t really want to sell the cursed Trek, and I really don’t want to end up with a garage full of bicycles when all I need is one of them.

Sigh. I will consult the Oregon Lottery oracle and see what the stars have to say about it.


Oct 07, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Sooty, the Llewellyn school cat, poses for an unofficial school portrait.

Oct 06, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo, taking a break from watching the squirrels outside.

Oct 05, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Russell and Silas hang out on the sofa.

Oct 04, 2008

New Code! (teeny discount patches)

Discount has been rolled up to version 1.3.0pre4 with a couple of bugfixes for things that did not work in pre3; I’d managed to outclever myself with 1.3.0pre3 and made ishdr successfully not work with single-character headers, plus I discovered that the canonical dumb header (##) wasn’t working (the reference implementation converts ## to <h1>#</h1> and discount was simply producing <p>##</p>)

I also cleaned up the xhtml output from mkd_xhtmlpage(MMIOT*,int,FILE*) so that the W3C’s xml validator is happy with the output, and I wrote a makepage demo program that takes markdown input and translates it to a valid (subject to the format of user-supplied html, of course) xhtml output page.

There’s still no (or woefully little) documentation describing any of these new features, but I’m working on that for the actual 1.3.0 release – If I don’t get any bug reports or notice anything horrid in the way this code works, the documentation should be finished and the release should be done sometime towards the end of next week. So, if you want to test, this is the New Code! that you want to test with.

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Dorrie, at very close range (Pentax *istDS, Industar 50, 1/180th sec @ ~f5.6 with bounce light from my AF280 flash)

Oct 03, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


The Empire has a new secret weapon, so clones and rebels beware!

Oct 02, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas investigates an interesting hole in the hedge around the Llewellyn schoolyard.

Yes, I think I’ll let jiffies overflow on pell. What could possibly go wrong?


So I’ll mark this down as “Linux 2.0.28 does not deal well with a jiffy overflow” and put it on my list of things to fix when I try to wedge UDMA, SATA (the wide scsi disks in pell are only about a decade old, and I’m sure they’re waiting for the perfect day to physically disassemble themselves over the inside of the case,) and USB support into the kernel. In, of course, my copious free time (which reminds me that I should probably convert the kernel time counter into an int*8 field, because my copious free time should be freeing up around the time the epoch rolls over.


Oct 01, 2008

The birthday present

It was the best’s birthday today, so we got her a present. We needed to wrap it, and we didn’t want to have to carry a lot of wrapping materials around, so we used an appropriate box:


And what would make the ideal present for a member of the magpie family, you might ask?


Happy birthday, best!

Picture of the day


A glass of absinthe, illuminated by candlelight and photographed with my *istDS.