This Space for Rent

Apr 30, 2009

YAFYE picture of the day


A Yellow Menace Eng! pops out from behind a tree on the SPYellow Menace viaduct in lower Oregon City.

Amusing travel statistics

So far this year, the best has driven the car about 1000 miles (she’s guessing 40 miles a week; I’m guessing 80.) And so far this year, I’ve ridden my bicycle 2600 miles (in many many tiny chunks; despite my best intentions of going up to R200-length rides, I’ve only managed to get a 100+km loop five times this year.)

And, yes, three of those 100+km loops included a trip to the grocery store, because, after all, it is an xtracycle and it would be a shame to waste the trip if I’m going to be going by the big big store on my way back home. So I’ll split the milage; 1300 miles for “grocery shopping”, 1300 miles for rambling and blood pressure medication.

Apr 27, 2009

New Code!

Discount has been rolled up to version 1.3.6 with a slight tweak to the way I handle raw html blocks. When I first wrote the code, I didn’t spend much effort thinking about how to handle them and just hacked out a quick and dirty pattern matcher that passed the official test suite, but which would fall over and not find the end of the block on html sections like

Gosh, I'm in a div block!

I knew in the back of my head that my q&d parser wasn’t perfect, but as long as the only things that tripped up on it were my synthetic test cases there wasn’t anything that made it urgent (the text I work with is all pretty much pure markdown, with some html inserts (hit counters, videos, the occasional bikely map) that weren’t oddly formed enough to utterly confuse discount.

But then people started to use discount, and in the past couple of months I’ve gotten two bug reports of people being tripped up by the q&d parser. So I sat (for the “ride my bicycle out to Sandy” definition of “sat”) around and thought about a solution, prototyped it, tested it, and finally shoved it into version control and published it today.

It doesn’t change memory allocation at all, it doesn’t do any new code manipulation (except for scanning,) and the only data structures it adds are read-only. So it should be a defect-free upgrade. But it is New Code!, and my usage of it (this weblog & my website) may not be the same as the ruby, lua, and other users that have grabbed copies of discount and are now shoving them into websites and weblog software in places I don’t even know about. So if it causes mutations, please let me know so I can demutate my code.

Apr 26, 2009

Not quite good enough for a picture of the day


I heard the whistle soon enough to get to a good viewpoint. I got the bicycle kickstand down, got my purse out, got the camera out of my purse, turned on, set to a good f-stop, and got a few pictures of the northbound Coast Starlight.

Unfortunately I’m blind enough so that I didn’t notice that it wasn’t in focus until after the first twinkie had shot into the frame. Ooops.

Apr 24, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Sleeping cat, stuffed dust mite

It’s either a very large dust mite or a very small cat.

Cute baby picture of the day

Russell & Silas play in the park

Bears in the woods.

New Code!

Postoffice has been pushed up to version 1.5.0 with the addition of the new configuration option mxpool, which better supports domains with multiple mail exchangers.

The traditional behavior of postoffice is to deliver mail locally if the current machine is an mx for the destination domain. This is all fine and good if you’ve only got one mail server, but if you’re running secondary mail servers to grab the mail when the primary dies (an important configuration these days now that most of the big commerical network providers have ridiculously short delivery timeouts) it doesn’t work very well (I’ve tried setting up virtual domains and relaying that way, but that’s not a particularly clean way of doing things.) 1.5.0 and mxpool changes that behavior; if mxpool is enabled, mail will not be delivered locally unless the local machine is the highest priority mail exchanger for the offending domain; if the machine is a lower priority mail exchanger, it will accept the mail as if it was local, but it will then forward that mail off to the highest priority mail exchanger it can reach.

This is New Code!, and has not been heavily tested; I am running it on several domains with paired primary/secondary mail exchangers, and the secondary exchangers appear to be forwarding the mail off to the primary without any fuss or muss or bother, but I’m just one system administrator and, worse yet, I’m the developer of this thing. For other people the traditional New Code! caveats apply, up to and including the recommendations that you test it only in a sealed decontamination chamber, but if it doesn’t spontaneously cause mutations it’s a useful feature for a mail server to have.

Apr 23, 2009

Out on the line


The Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat retrieves a load of spoil from the east side Big Pipe project’s river terminal.

Apr 22, 2009

Mysterious structures found along the Springwater Trail


Someone built (what I guess is) an earth day sculpture along the Springwater Trail. It wasn’t there on Sunday morning when I was heading out for donuts, and given the traffic along the trail it has probably not been there more than a day.

Apr 21, 2009

Out on the line

A familiar Eng! in a different city

A P&W freight scurries southwards through Canby this afternoon, passing in front of EPT802 (the New Working Eng! of posts past,) which was moved down to the Molalla & Western a year or so ago. I was paused at approximately the halfway point of a 95km loop to take pictures of the 802 when I heard a train blowing for crossings north of the M&W junction, and since I had just missed a southbound Amtrak train (I was three blocks east of 99e when I heard the distinctive Amtrak whistle, and by the time I made it to a street that was perpendicular to 99e and the Yellow Menace mainline the crossing gates were just lifting. And Amtrak moves through Canby, so by the time I’d ridden the three blocks over to the crossing there was nothing to be seen but a cloud of dust) I was certainly going to wait to see what showed up, even if it was going to be nothing but a Yellow Menace freight.

Happily, it wasn’t, and aside from the picture of it scooting in front of EPT802, I also got a more conventional RR+scenery picture of the oncoming train:

Engs! and volcanos

Eng!s aside, this was a fairly slow trip. Oregon City is built in traditional river town fashion, where it’s got a thin strip along the river and then it’s built up the side of the bluff. I was intending to ride down to Oregon City, cross over to the west side of the Willamette, then ride down to Willamette Falls and scale Pete’s Mountain via Pete’s Mountain Road and the 2km of 1 in 10 grade, but the Oregon City bridge was closed for some sort of water works project, so I instead turned east and rode up through Oregon City to OR213 (and then south until I saw a sign saying “CANBY→”) and was unpleasantly surprised by the continual upping and upping of the road (including some stretches that felt far more enthusiastic than a 1 in 10 grade) until it reached the end of that lobe of the Boring lava field and dropped enthusiastically down to Mulino, where I found the “CANBY→” sign of my dreams (thus missing the M&W enginehouse at Liberal, which was only 2-3 miles down the road. Oh well, it’ll be something for another day.) And because of all of that upping and upping, I only had enough puff to hoist myself up the side of the bluff at the north terminal of the Canby Ferry, which made the next 10km and 180m climb up Pete’s Mountain really slow (and it took me about 5km to realize that the reason I was slow was that I’d burned through all of the fud I’d eaten before I left home. The emergency application of a cookie bar made the second 5km of Pete’s Mountain a lot faster, and kept me moving forward until I could reach my snap-decision control at the Gladstone Burgerville (after I sweettalked myself across the Oregon City bridge even though it was closed; West Linn has a Burgerville which I could have used, but that would have meant I would need to loop through downtown Portland, which would have meant that I wouldn’t have gotten home until after the annoyed family hour. And I do not wish to get home after the annoyed family hour,) where I could shotgun a fish sandwich to get me home.)

If I don’t count the time spent taking pictures of trains, waiting to take pictures of trains, chatting with other people, eating, and dropping off clothes at Goodwill (it’s an Xtracycle, after all, and I wanted to get the bag of goodwill clothes out of the front hall,) I averaged something on the order of 22 km/h. If I do count that time, it drops down to a just-barely-fast-enough-for-randonneuring 16 km/h, which is slothful even for me. Perhaps this will be the incentive I need to find a better way of attaching a front rack to my bike so I can have camera + junkfood easily available when I’m in transit.

Apr 20, 2009

Out on the line


I went out for an east side ramble yesterday afternoon, without much thought as to exactly what I was going to do except that I wanted to do at least a 100km loop to make up for the previous attempt, which was cut short by sunset (at 93km. *pout*) So I wandered out along the Springwater Trail without much plan except maybe to go to the end of the (paved) line at Rugg Road. I’ve gotten fairly fast (for me) so it didn’t take me much longer than a hour to get out there, and then I looked at the gravel, looked at the fat tires on my bike (28mm still seems pretty fat compared to the 23mm and 25mm tires I used to use on the Trek,) then said “oh, why not?” and slowly ground up the line towards Boring (all of the people I encountered on this section were riding mountain bikes with huge wide nobbly tires, but (a) I’d ridden the gravel path several times on my 25mm tires (when I was still > 200 pounds) and just two days previous I was turning around when a roadie on his Orbea carbon bike with 18mm tires went riding up the gravel trail – I know it didn’t kill his bicycle, because he caught up with me 10 miles down the line towards Portland and, obviously, his tires were still intact. But I digress.)

At Boring, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but Boring is only about 6 miles away from Sandy, which means it’s only about 6 miles away from donuts, and it would be a mortal sin to get so close and not take advantage of the opportunity.

And, anyway, if I went out to Sandy that would guarantee a 80km loop, and I’m sure I could find a way to make my trip unoptimal enough to push it over 100km:

Boring-Sandy-Carver ramble avec des beignets

I knew if I took OR212 east I would eventually run into the Sandy River gorge (and before that I’d run into Bluff Road,) and when I rode east I did eventually run into Bluff Road, but not before having to make a jog north after OR212 turned into a chipsealed county road and then into a T-intersection with 352nd Ave. Bluff Road, of course, dumped me onto OR26 just downhill from Joe’s Donuts, where I took a leisurely break to inhale a couple of donuts and a sugar-laden smoothie, then strapped a dozen donuts to the back of my bike (it is an xtracycle after all, so there’s no problem in taking your donuts for a nice long ride in the country before tossing them to the savage donut-eating bears) and headed off more or less in the direction of home.

But I suspected that the route out to Sandy wouldn’t be long enough to push me over 100km even with the diversion to Boring, so I would come back via a route that was recommended to me by a friend – Dodge Park Blvd, which, as far as I knew, followed more or less the route of the Mount Hood Railway down to Dodge Park. Dodge Park Blvd dumps into Lusted Ave, so if I dodged over to Lusted Ave from Bluff Road (via a short screaming descent down Hudson Road – it’s not much compared to the Lusted Ave descent down to the Sandy River, but it’s pretty damn steep and cliffsidy nevertheless) I could drag myself up the bluff via Dodge Park Blvd while trying to see signs of the 80-year-gone interurban line.

So down I went, then along Lusted, then turning onto Dodge Park Blvd and up towards the bluff all the while looking for signs of railroad ROW. I didn’t see any relics, but eventually I realized that I had climbed halfway out of the gorge and I wasn’t down under an 80" gear. So, lesse, a nice wide road (with shoulders! In Clackamas County!) with a nice easy grade and gentle sweeping curves…. Oh. I guess I found the railroad ROW.

Well, shoot, that was easy. The only thing disappointing about Dodge Park Blvd is that there’s a hideous “executive estate” on the east side of Orient, with lots of huge ugly houses scattered around what used to be productive fields.

(At Orient I decided that the thing to do would be to ride down to Boring, then take OR212 west to Deep Creek Ave, OR224, the Carver Bridge, and Clackamas Drive into Oregon City, which would put me a fast 10km or so away from Portland, the Big Big Store, and home. The only difficult part of that plan is that Boring Road (aka 282nd Ave) goes up and down fairly enthusiastically between Orient and Boring as it climbs up the back side of the bluffs that fall off so impressively at the south end of Deep Creek Ave.

I like Deep Creek Ave. It goes up and down a couple of times, but the last down is an impressively steep 120(?) meter drop in a little under 1300 meters. My bicycle weighs a ton, so it doesn’t climb very well, but if I tuck and can avoid stomping on the brakes on the steep part, everything blueshifts in a very satisfactory fashion.

The rest of the loop isn’t nearly as exciting. Carver is a lot farther away from Deep Creek Ave than I always remember, and then Oregon City is a lot closer to Carver than I aways remember, but after that, and zipping (for “I’ve ridden 90km already, so I’ll be moving at a somewhat more leisurely rate now” values of “zipping”) up River Road to Portland, I’d gotten 106.5km in by the time I got home.

And I wasn’t paralyzed with exhaustion, either, at least not until I’d sat down and relaxed for a while, and my legs had realized that I wasn’t moving and they could go on strike.

Maybe I’ll do it again tomorrow. Those randonneuring death marches won’t ride themselves, after all.

Cute baby pictures of the day

MotherAndChild<- ->GeeseFleet

Not bears, but baby dinosaurs caught at the height of cuteness.

Apr 17, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


And that’s what it is, the Dust Mite Anti-Vacuuming Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the calendar.

1 comment

Another trip punctuated by Eng!s

ATK90253_20090417 ATK469_xtracycle_20090417

When I left the Big Big Big Store (and why did I go there instead of to the one in Sellwood? Oh, that’s easy; the Sellwood store is 1.5km away while Seven Corners is closer to 5) this evening, I heard what I thought was a train whistle blowing. I didn’t know if it was a train coming or going, but I was planning on returning home via the Springwater Trail, so I wasn’t going to be going out of my way to proceed more or less along the railroad ROW down to almost the waterfront. By the time I’d reached Milwaukie/11th/12th, I was pretty certain that the train was coming because I was hearing repeated whistling noises of the sort I’d expect to hear if a passenger train was going over multiple grade crossings, and by the time I’d reached 9th & Division the whistlings were loud and urgent, as if the train had cleared the downtown grade crossing swamp and was picking up speed to GTFOOD with all due haste.

So I stopped the bike, hopped off, and took a few dozen pictures as the train came screaming by at line speed. And then got back on the bike and finished my trip back home (carrying dinner as well as the legally mandated six pack of Fat Tire) so I could cook up a tasty (and unappreciated) meal for the bears.

Apr 16, 2009

railroad picture(s) of the day

Due to several things (not just my natural laziness) I’d not gone on any longish bicycle rides for several weeks, and I’d decided that the next time the bears went down to visit their grandparents I’d try to go out and do a 100km or so loop. Well, today they were picked up by their grandparents (Russell has been sick most of the week, so he didn’t get out of my clutches until about 1:15pm,) so I bolted out of the house with the plans of running out to the end of the paved part of the Portland Traction trail two or three times.

The plan didn’t last past the Southern PacificYellow Menace mainline, because when I reached it the southbound signals were flashing caution. And it was about 2:45, so that meant that it might be the southbound Coast Starlight. So I stopped and waited. And waited. And waited. And eventually, just before I was about to give up and head east, the headlights of the Coast Starlight popped into view under the Tacoma Street bridge, followed quickly by the rest of the Coast Starlight (led by a pair of Twinkies and a ex-F40PH sled:


It was almost 3pm by the time I’d finished watching it vanish to the south and loaded up my bicycle, but I proceeded east anyway out to the end of the (paved) line, turned around, and came back into town for a brief stop at the Big Big Store. I got to the Big Big Store at 5pm, and by the time I’d picked out a snack, paid, and wedged the sugar-laden snacks down the hatch it was getting on towards 5:15, with the return of the bears due at about 7:30. But that didn’t stop me, so I headed back east to see how far I could get (at a somewhat slower speed than the first loop, funnily enough) and that ended up being Gresham Main Park, which I reached at 6:10, then – after pausing to rest my weary feet for a few minutes – departed for points west soon thereafter.

And I would have made it all the way home without stopping, except that when I reached the bridge over the Yellow Menace mainline the southbound signal was clear and I could see (a) a stopped Yellow Menace freight and (b) rapidly becoming less distant headlights. Now, about the only thing that stops a Yellow Menace freight these days is a passenger train, so those headlights were certain to be a passenger train. Which meant I had to stop again, pull out the camera, and wait to see what came down the line:


So instead of a 100+km loop, I only rode 93.5km. But I did get to see a couple of passenger trains (plus a pair of Yellow Menace freights, but I didn’t bother to try and get pictures of those) to make up for it. Maybe I’ll try for a longer loop on Saturday, if those pesky Eng!s don’t get in the way.

Apr 13, 2009

Picture of the day


The setting sun breaks through a hole in the clouds down at the Big Big Store.


Apr 12, 2009

Cute baby pictures of the day

Russell2009easter Silas2009easter

The bears scurry about the yard recovering the eggs that the secular Easter Bunny left for them this morning.

Apr 11, 2009

Trolley picture of the day


A Gresham-bound train zips through the rain a couple of weeks ago while we were on our way back from Ikea after getting a couple of replacement chest of drawers for the bears.

Oh, and before I forget…

this horrible weblog has been running for five years now.

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas was given an aerial tramway kit (“Fun Ride” is the trade name) for his birthday, and I set it up between two trees in our backyard on Thursday. It’s only about 30 feet between the trees, and it’s fairly low, but he seems to enjoy it nevertheless.

Apr 10, 2009

New Code!

Ignacio Burgueño discovered an annoying bug in discount 1.3.0pre4, where if you did an implicit class block (>%class-name% instead of >%class:class-name%) on a machine with a suitably paranoid memory allocator, discount would obligingly dump core on the spot because I wasn’t allocating enough memory for the class tag I wanted to generate. So I fired up the dark satanic coding mills and cranked out some New Code! to fix this feature.

And while I was at it I added support for installers; if you discount to install into {destination}, you can do make DESTDIR={sandbox} install to place it into {sandbox}{destination}, but still have it think that it’s all pointing to {destination}. Then you can cd to {sandbox}, tar up the directory tree, and you’ll have an installable tarball to place into {destination} at your convenience.

So two changes, neither very spectacular, but still worthy of being called New Code! If you install it and it sets your computer on fire, please let me know so I can either fix the bug or weaponize it.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Leo and Dust Mite sit on the sofa and gaze balefully out at the world.

Apr 08, 2009

Trolley picture of the day


An airport bound train leaves Gateway Transit Center at ~noon today.

Apr 06, 2009

YAFYE picture of the day


A train beat me to the Clinton/11th/12th crossing when I was returning home from the Big Big Big Store, so I had to stop and wait for it. Why waste the opportunity to take a picture while I was waiting, particularly since the lead SW1500 was obligingly running cab-forward?

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas turned 7 today, and a grand celebration was had by all.

Apr 04, 2009

Railroad picture of the day


Union Station and a Cascades train, both waiting for another train to arrive from points south.

If you can read this your DNS is slow

… because they did a re-ip at my colo yesterday, and by unhappy coincidence one of my nameservers had been taken offline (without anyone actually bothering to TELL me about it, thankyouverymuch) leaving only the nameserver in the old IP block active. So when that block went offline, guess what happened to the nameserver?

And since I’m in the old .us geographic domain, it’s all volunteer work and none of my domain update requests will be processed until monday (if I’m lucky.) the domain went back online not more than 20 hours after the dns started going to hell. Yayy for the relics of the old non-commercial .us domain; it’s a small world, but it’s a small world where the administrators pay much more attention to it than the big commercial domain owners do.

So this means that pell is off the network for at least a week the day. And guess what happens to mail in these brave new days of internet connectivity? If it doesn’t get delivered in 4 hours, it bounces.

Goddamn it. So I’m sitting here at home on a bright and sunny day trying to figure out how to set up a machine to fax a netblock routing request to the new ISP at the colo so my private netblock can be routed through them and I can get my dns back for long enough to push the nameservers elsewhere.

I hate computers. I really do.

Apr 03, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

The usual collection of household vermin

Dust Mite hangs out with a friend (who promises that it is not a Rock Monster.)

Apr 02, 2009

YAFYE picture of the day


Three Eng!s (2 GP38s sandwiching a GP39) pull a transfer freight under the Fremont bridge and towards Union Station this morning, fortunately after I crossed over to the other side of the railroad and could continue my trip to REI uninterrupted by anything other than the obligatory stop for trainspotting.

Apr 01, 2009

NOM NOM NOM (*barf*)

Oh, gross


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir