This Space for Rent

Dec 31, 2008

Last ride of the year


33 km out to Linnemann junction and back, with a brief pause to photograph the southbound Coast Starlight.

It may not be the most practical bicycle for randonneuring, but it will certainly do the job for me. And, as a side benefit, if I can get my average speed on this thing back up to the 24 urban kph I (briefly) was doing before I clamped on the heavy iron ball, it will make just about any bobtail bike seem like a screamingly light gofast vehicle (that is assuming that I ever want to get a second bicycle; I don’t have any objections to touring on a longtail, and when I’m paddling around the city there are some real advantages to riding a bicycle that can carry bucketloads of cargo.)

(My december plans of running at least one 100km loop every week were rudely interrupted by the fall snowstorm, but I still managed to get somewhere on the order of 3000km under the wheels of the thing before the year came crashing rudely to an end. Perhaps I will do better next year.)

Out on the line


A crow is silhouetted against the (cloudy) sky as it flees from me and my Pentax.

Railroad picture of the day


The southbound Coast Starlight approaches the Springwater Trail overpass at just past 14:30 today. I was planning on just riding, but when I reached the bridge and saw a green signal to the south, well, I just had to stop and wait to see what was on the menu for my trainspotting enjoyment.

(Pentax *istDS, 50 mm Super Takumar, f5.6@1/180th sec)

Dec 30, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


The working Eng! sits in the Goodwill siding at the Milwaukie industrial park.

Dec 29, 2008

Picture of the day


The sun(set) comes out to celebrate the disappearance of the 14 or so inches of snow that fell last week.

Feb 2009 opening of the Westside commuter rail line? Really?

It’s going to be fun doing it if the New! Shiny! DMUs aren’t ever going to be delivered:

ATTENTION: Effective December 23, 2008 Colorado Railcar Manufacturing ceased it’s business operations. Colorado Railcar Manufacturing has a major liquidity problem, and it’s lenders have a secured position in the assets of the company. The company is in the process of liquidation. The company has no employees effective December 31st, 2008.

If, however, Tri-Met could find a set of RDCs, like, oh, the ones that the State of Oregon bought from (the now-demised, thanks to the SoCred slash-and-burn “government” in BC) British Columbia Railway for the Lewis & Clark Explorer train, they could start hauling those passengers up to Beaverton without any fuss, muss, or bother. Sure, there might not be very much support from the vendor, but the New! Shiny! waddling buffalo DMUs from Rader Colorado Railcar Santa Claus’s Imaginary Railcar Company™ aren’t going to have the grandest level of support, either.

I can’t wait to see how Tri-Met’s PR department (motto: “I meant to do that!”) spins the evaporation of their railcar supplier after paying extra money to keep Colorado Railcar afloat (a uncharitable person would call this “blackmail”, but that would be wrong) and what, if any, will be the excuse for not using the (existing, and already legal for operation on freight railroads in the United States) older Buddliners. I’m sure it will be a barrel of laughs.

Dec 28, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo naps on the blanket we conveniently laid at the foot of the tree.

Dec 27, 2008

Blue frog picture picture of the day


I took this picture of a domestic blue poison dart frog a few years back, and, of course, published it on tsfr immediately thereafter. And that was the last that I thought about it until, earlier this year, the editors of the design magazine “Identity Matters” contacted me and asked if they could use that picture on the cover of the magazine.

It might not pay as well as computer programming, but that’s compensated by it not being computer programming. (Pentax *istDS, Quantaray/Cosina 70-300mm tele-macro, manual focus. If I can find the original photo, I’d be able to tell the exposure and f-stop (I’m guessing 1/250th second @ f5.6 with flash bounced off the wall so I could illuminate the little frog without blinding myself with the glare off the frogtank.) I’d suspect that I “processed” this picture in my normal fashion; saved on the camera as a high-quality jpg, cropped to a more pleasing shape and size, then saved onto the weblog.

(this is probably the incentive I should use to harvest some of my better photos so I can lease them to some micro-stock photo website. Perhaps after I finish redoing the front sidewalk.)


Dec 26, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite attempts to fetch the star from the top of our tree.

Dec 25, 2008

Ho ho ho and a bottle of nog


The living room after being invaded by chimney-using antiburglers.

Dec 24, 2008

Photo of the day


The roof-drain sculpture at the Big Big Big Big Store doesn’t work quite so well when the water in question is solid.

New Code!

Discount has been rolled up to version 1.3.1 with a slight tweak to the code that generates the url part of a []() link; I was previously just encoding everything except for alphanumerics, and this turned out to be incompatable with the standard. So I fixed it, making this one of the more trivial bits of New Code! I’ve written this year.

It’s such a tiny change so it probably won’t convert your machine into a pile of smouldering rubble, but you’ll never know unless you try it and see.

Dec 23, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A Hillsboro-bound interurban approaches MLK, as seen from the window of the mighty Prius.

Dec 22, 2008

Fun with bicycles and snow

Skinny tires are good for cutting through the snow down to the road hidden underneath, but they aren’t good enough for 10+ inches of snow.

I tried to take the bicycle down to the big big store this afternoon, but had to abandon the idea when I discovered that, even in 42:32, all the rear wheel would do is sit there and spin cheerfully in the not-quite-deep-enough slot it cut in the layers of packed snow on 17th Ave (and if I gave the bicycle a running start by starting on my shovelled front sidewalk, it would cheerfully charge ahead until I ran into unshovelled snow, at which point the wheels would lift off the pavement and hang, spinning frictionlessly, in the newfallen snow.

I’ve got rim brakes, so the zip-tie trick would only work if I wanted to completely abandon the idea of stopping, so the trekracycle ended up being returned to the living room while I walked down to 13th and Tacoma for the groceries de jour.

(I wonder if I could find one of those trainer frames and rework it so that the bicycle wheel drove a set of caterpillar treads and I could pretend I’m driving a Lombard log hauler in the deep woods of SE Portland. It would certainly be more amusing than mail-ordering a set of Nokian A10s, and would be (assuming that Portland winters have not suddenly become real winters) every bit as useful as studded tires are.)

(UPDATE: Looky here, someone else has Lombard-lust for their bicycle. I wonder how it would work on an Xtracycle?)

Picture of the day


Downtown Portland, with extra added snow, ice, and fog.

Dec 21, 2008

At least it’s not snowing


Freezing rain and sleet, yes, but not snow. That’s going to wait until (sigh) tomorrow15:30 today.

Dec 20, 2008

We need a holiday tree, but this one is a bit too large


Tonight, we went out into the howling blizzard to go to the corner tree lot for a tree. This tree (a solitary Douglas-Fir) is pretty, but it’s a little bit too big for our house and the neighborhood association would be very unhappy if we chopped it down and attempted to drag it away.

Okay, now this is starting to get kind of silly


Lets see if I remember this correctly: In Portland, it has snowed on Dec 14, Dec 15, Dec 16, Dec 17, Dec 18, Dec 19, and today. The weather forecasts claim that it’s going to snow on the 21st, the 22nd, 23rd, and possibly on the 25th (it’s only going to snow down to 1000ft on the 24th?)

And it’s not even officially winter until the 21st?



Dec 19, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

A large Dust Mite and a large Cat

Dust Mite disturbs the dignity and repose of the sleeping cat.

A feast of cardiovascular DOOM


The normal routine for making a Jamaician-style black cake is to cool it in the pan, then extract it for storage and/or consumption. Alas, this is not what happens in our household; I screwed up the recipe and used a cup of butter instead of ¾ths cup, so the best helpfully volunteered to taste it, and then I had to taste it as well.

It’s very good, in a “kiss your heart goodbye!” sort of way. I wonder if any of it will survive past the solstice?

UPDATE 19DEC2008 22:10PST: No, it won’t. *burp*

Dec 18, 2008

Objects in web browser are filthier than they appear


Do not listen to the camera’s lies; the Trek has accumulated a truly amazing amount of road grime after the approximately 45km of snow and slush riding it’s been on this week. Fortunately(?) it appears that winter will be backing off for a few days, so I may actually be able to take it out for a nice long ride without getting snow and ice packed into every conceivable nook and cranny within the first 10 kilometers.

Semicircular fenders are a particular source of snow&ice amusement here; the snow freezes against the metal rivets that attach the struts and crownbolt bracket, and that clot of ice keeps the rest of the snow from escaping, thus resulting in a nice long curved piece of convex black ice that rubs against the tire in a cheerful little “as soon as you stop for a picture or any sort of control analogue, I’m going to freeze to the tire and you won’t be riding any more today!” manner. In a somewhat more rich reality, I’d have already bought a torch and will have welded up a longtail frame that’s set up for 24 inch wheels with LOTS of clearance up to the fenders, which are conveniently arranged for easy debris removal. In this reality, I’ve already marked the “don’t ride any R200s if snowstorms are involved, because chipping the wheels loose in the middle of the night would not be fun At All” check item in the “things I want to do with this bicycle in 2009” list.

(But, aside from the amazing amount of snow that gets accumulated, 700C×25 wheels seem to do ok in the snow. I’m dreadfully slow (~15km/h on the flatflatflat Portland Traction trail) but the bicycle doesn’t show any desire to turn turtle on me, even when I throw caution to the winds and (briefly) accelerate up to the somewhat less sluggish rate of 20km/h. And this is good, because it’s kind of fun to paddle about in the snow and I can’t afford to buy a dedicated snowbike to do that.)

Out on the line


Lents Junction in the middle of a short-lived (it took me 45 minutes to get home from there – I ride a lot more carefully when my wheelwells are packed with snow and the clasp brakes have reverted to the traditional “yoo hoo! I’d like to stop now please!” winter braking routine – and by the time I’d gotten home all of this snow had melted and the sun had come out. Ahh, the joys of Portland weather) snowstorm during my morning creep out on the line.

(50mm Super-Tak @ f5.6, 1/500th second, ISO 200)

Dec 16, 2008

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas eats ice cream and plays the Star Wars®©™ Clue variant that he and Russell made up.

Dec 15, 2008

The “Merry Christmas!” version of the White Death


The christmas lights across the street, and the snowfall that brought the city to its knees today.

Dec 14, 2008

A lovely day to ride the bike


It’s not a day to ride the bike very far, but ~15km (home to 82nd ave, then back) was a pretty good short trip. (No pictures during the trip, because it was chilly enough so I wanted to keep moving to keep my appendages from freezing off.)

Dec 13, 2008

Railroad picture of the day


SP GS-4 4449 sneaks through the woods near Llewellyn School yesterday afternoon.

Dec 12, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite finds a cozy place to take a nap.

Dec 11, 2008



There are fierce creatures up around Mount Hood

Out on the line


Today, I decided it would be interesting to hop on the bicycle and see just how far east I could go before I had to turn around and race the setting sun back home. The Women’s Forum seemed like it would be a good goal if I couldn’t get out of the house early enough to reach Larch Mountain, and I was delayed long enough by doing essential yardwork so there was no way I could have reached Larch Mountain and gotten back during (even nominal) daylight.

The Women’s Forum actually ended up being a little too far; I was figuring on two hours out, two hours back, and the Women’s Forum ended up being 2h10 out (and approximately 3h30 back, thanks to an unfortunately located tire-eater on Marine Drive, a not-quite-good-enough tire repair, and about a dozen stops to pump additional air into the slowly-deflating rear tire.) Bontrager “RaceLite”s claim to be pretty durable, but in the 2000km since I replaced the so-ancient-the-sidewalls-were-wearing-off old tires, I’ve had each of these new tires eat something that went right through the allegedly puncture resistant tires and into the soft skin of the tubes. Admittedly, the market choices for 700C×25 (or thereabouts; I could probably wedge up to 33mm tires into the existing front fork) touring tires is kind of weak, but these tires are just not doing it. Sigh. Time to round up some more computer components and sell ‘em on ebay – if I can get US$86 out of them, that will be enough to at the least go out and order a pair of Ruffy Tuffys from Rivendell.

I’d forgotten that the Crown Point Highway started climbing basically as soon as if passed the Stark Street bridge – I spent about a kilometer mashing along and wondering why this bit of level windless road was acting so slow before I looked to my right and realized that I was already a looong way up from the Sandy River. At least it made coming back down a bit more interesting (though it would have been even more interesting, and not in a pleasant way, if there had been a lot of traffic on the road – the verges of the Crown Point Highway are fairly minimal, and the crosswinds were fairly enthusiastic) even though I don’t think I managed to break any speed limits on the way down.

Railroad picture of the (yester)day


People milling around near the Eng! after a Holiday Express run last sunday.

Dec 09, 2008

YAFYE picture of the day


A Yellow Menace freight train disturbs the dignity and repose of my trip out to Gresham by forcing me to stop and take pictures of it today around noon. This was worse than just seeing the train and stopping for pictures; I was about ¾ths mile away when I heard the train whistling for downtown Milwaukie, and so I had to turn around and sprint as fast as I could (which, to be honest, isn’t all that fast; when I sprint on the xtracycled Trek, it’s maybe 40 km/h, and that only for a matter of (a very few) minutes) to get back to where the Springwater trail crosses the SPYellow Menace mainline so I could take this picture.

(*istDS, 50mm Super-Tak @ f8, 1/125th second)

Dec 08, 2008

The free enterprise system at work!

My tax dollars gone to waste

It’s the majesty of the free market at work; all you need to do is get a reputation for reliable graft with enough congressmen, and if anything looks like it might threaten your collection of gold-filled swimming pools, all you need to do is snap your fingers and our capitalist government will whip open the taxpayer’s pocketbook and, in a truly bipartisan fashion, make sure that all of the poor CEOs will have their owies made all better.

But if you’re just a taxpayer, you can go pound sand. Hoi polloi are not welcome into the halls of government, because they don’t bribe the right people or throw the right parties. You voted, so shut up and let your betters ensure that the rich will never have to worry about the consequences of their incompetent behavior.

–image via bikelovejones

Picture of the day


Downtown Portland from OMSI, with extra trembly imaging courtesy of the rubber lens hood buckling halfway through the exposure.

Dec 07, 2008

It’s that time of year again.


It’s the first WMC of the year – yet another Moosewood italian fruitcake, ready to vanish down our gullets before it has time to cool down after cooking.

Dec 06, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A Gresham-bound interurban passes a downtown-bound Interstate train.

railroad picture of the day


The southbound Coast Starlight crosses the Willamette river on the lower level of the Steel Bridge while an eastbound bus crosses on the upper level.

Dec 05, 2008

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite demonstrates that not even a bicycle is safe from being infested with dust mites.

Dec 04, 2008

Domestic vermin picture of the day


a cat-shaped pillow on the homemade woolen pillows

Sure, I could ride directly to the big big store, but where’s the sport in that?

down 17th, Milwaukie, and 13th.  Almost a mile.

This is, more or less, my traditional route to the store. It’s almost a kilometer and a half, and it’s got approximately 2 meters of elevation gain. It’s short enough so I can hop on my bike, zip over, shop, and get back in half an hour if I stick to my shopping list.

But it’s really short, I’ve ridden it a bunch of times, and I need to cross Tacoma St (not as insanely trafficy now that it’s been reduced to a 2 lane street, but still quite busy) to get to it. So how do I avoid crossing Tacoma St on my way to the store?

If, instead, I turn right onto the Springwater trail, take it to the Steel Bridge, cross over and take I30 to the St. Johns bridge, then cross back over, proceed up to Marine Drive, ride east to Troutdale, then return on Halsey, the I84 bicycle path, the I205 bicycle path, the Springwater trail (again), and up 13th, I avoid having to cross Tacoma during a busy part of the day.

Sure, it did take 6 hours to ride that 100km (and the 25-40km winds out of the gorge for the 24 or so km from I5 out to Troutdale didn’t really help. There’s something about cold headwinds that redefines “exciting” in a particularly baleful manner,) but those are mere trivialities that aren’t even worth mentioning.


And, yes, of course I rode my xtracycled bike. I’m not sure if I’m ready to ride brevets, but the Trek certainly is. The panniers on the thing sit closely enough to the ground so they weren’t noticably blown sideways by the ridiculous winds out by Troutdale – I was the only object high enough in the air to act as a proper sail, and if I was in slightly better shape I could have kept the ridiculous thing moving faster than 15km/h on the long long long long long cold drag east from I5 (being blown west uphill along Halsey at ~45km/h was nice, but by that time my legs were unhappy enough with the whole idea that they just sort of noodled along for the trip back to the I205 path.) And being able to shovel a bike lock, my purse (with the Pentax and the 50mm Super-Tak,) spare clothes, and a fistful of cloth grocery bags on top of the packet of snacks and tools that I carry in case there’s a hardware or wetware crisis is pretty much an unqualified good thing (there is the issue of the 20pounds of extra weight, but if I can drop *my* weight to 165 pounds I’ll have made that up, won’t I?)

I need to work up some more hilly rides on this thing. I suppose I could go to the big big store via Skyline one of these days.

Trolley picture of the day


A pleasant rural terminus? Or could it be an illusion?

When I was taking the scenic route to the big big store today, I had to take a tiny detour over to the Expo Center trolley terminal to get a picture or two.

Dec 03, 2008

Is it just me, or are non-longtail bikes starting to look a little bit, um, truncated?


the yellow Schwinn 10-speed is very pretty, but it’s kind of short.

Even though my bicycle is the only xtracycled bike I see for days and days, I find myself having to force myself to remember that the shortened version is what safety bicycles are supposed to look like. And it’s not as if the Trek has the elegant stretched out look of the showroom models that Xtracycle and Surly offer, either; the short twitchy wheelbase on the Trek probably gives me a bicycle as short as the Kona Ute is.

The Trek has now been outfitted with an oh-so-important accessory for winter trips; during winter, a single water bottle is good for at least 100km, but the new yellow bottle cage is so I can fit an insulated thermos containing enough tea or coffee to jumpstart my central nervous system on these cold and bitingly damp autumn mornings. Now all I need to do is arrange some sort of scheme where I leave the thermos at a local coffeeshop where it will not be filled and handed to me in the morning unless I roll up on the bicycle, and then roll away immediately after paying for my dose of piping hot stimulants.

Dec 01, 2008

Trolley picture of the day


A westbound Hillsboro train approaches the curve leading from Burnside Ave to the short section of private ROW along i205.