This Space for Rent

Jul 31, 2009

And it’s just in time for my midlife crisis!


An extraordinarily generous birthday gift from my parents, sneakily provided in a form that means I have to spend it on bicycle parts. So, if, hypothetically, I wanted to build a nice ~20 pound 1x8 porteur-style bike as an alternative to 40-50 pounds of xtracycle, this would give me enough money to build up most of the drivetrain, get a headset, a stem, and maybe enough for brakes & levers, and then I’d have to figure out whether it would be better to build it with 650B (fat, possibly slow, but certainly better on the 15 miles of chipsealed hell that is Springwater Road south of Barton Ferry Road) or 700C wheels like I’ve got on the Trek right now.

Oh well, time to sit down with the QBP catalog and start gram-counting. I wonder if they sell any low-trail forks?

New Code!

Discount has been rolled up to version 1.5 with the addition of one new feature; I woke up early this morning and could either go out for a bike ride or could write some code, and I decided what better way to celebrate my birthday than to add PHP Markdown Extra-style table support?

So I did. And it’s gross and horrible, but it works and it doesn’t appear to have any memory leaks in it. And now you can do

     a   |    b

and have it produce

a b
hello sailor

like the other more cpu-intensive scripting language versions do.

Is it tested? Weeeeeeeel, maybe. It works here (see above), I’ve written a test suite, and it doesn’t cause my memory leak detector to start screaming. But that’s all the testing I’ve done so far, and I’m so confident that it works that I haven’t even published it on the discount web page yet.

So, take it, compile it, use it, report bugs back (please?) It’s the New Code! that people have been asking for, and now they’ve got it!

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


This Chompo Bar is not too large for a Dust Mite.

Railroad picture of the day

ATK170 flyby

I rode up to the big big big store today, and I reached the Yellow Menace railroad crossing at 12th & Clinton just as the southbound Coast Starlight whipped around the curve at OMSI. I was back to my 55mm prime, which was just barely wide-angly enough to fit part of the lead twinkie as it reached 12th Ave.

Jul 30, 2009



I was planning on replacing this chain soon, and I may have unconsciously routed myself close to REI in the first place, but when I was returning home (from stopping by Kobos to pick up some tea) I was two blocks away from REI when I accelerated away from a stop and had the chain disintegrate out from under me. I thought that it had simply derailed itself off the front chainrings, but when I pulled over to the side of the road I saw the tail of the chain dragging along in the dirt and grime in the gutter.

I didn’t even try to stick the chain back together; I just pulled it off the bicycle, tossed it into a pannier, and coasted down to 14th & Johnson to buy more chain (3x SRAM PG 850 == 2 xtracycle-length chains, and it costs about as much as a tank of gas) and put it onto the bicycle.

All in all, it was a pretty cheap lesson in “deferred maintenance is not a good plan”, and it’s a reminder that I should replace the OTHER parts of the bicycle that are wearing down (the front tire, which has just today worn through to the puncture-resistance layer, and the bottom bracket, which hasn’t been looked at for at least 10,000 km, and which probably needs to have the bearings looked at and probably repacked) before they go *sproing* in a less-convenient location.


Jul 29, 2009

New Code!

Discount has been pushed up to version 1.4.5 with the addition of some documentation changes courtesy of Josh Wood, and with a few tweaks to the way list items are parsed so that funny indents will be captured properly and multi-paragraph items will be properly wrapped in <p> tags.

It’s not very big release, but it’s been in the >100°F ballpark out here for the last few days, so this New Code! is really about all I’m capable of doing right now. (If someone bribes me with an air conditioner, I could probably do more!)

Jul 28, 2009

Those lazy days of summer


(At least they’d be lazy if we weren’t frantically scurrying around trying to find a way to keep from melting in the heat.)

Jul 27, 2009

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas reads an advertising sign at Burgerville.

Jul 26, 2009

Web browser question of the day…

When did the people writing the firefox decide that the whole business of small and fast was bad and large and bloated was good? If Firefox is just sitting there doing nothing, it eats 10% of the CPU on my macbook, and the latest and greatest version of the horrid thing apparently can’t even change the cursor to a busy cursor when you attempt to hop from one website to another.

If Safari or Camino had functional adblocking, I’d be leaping on them in a flash. Sure, they probably suck, but they’re not Open Source™®© flagships and thus actually need to work, which is more than I can say for the pile of bodges firefox appears to be becoming.


Maybe I should replace my weblog with one that’s completely database driven. After all, databases never fail…

jtablesession::Store Failed
DB function failed with error number 1194
Table ‘jos_session’ is marked as crashed and should be repaired SQL=INSERT INTO `jos_session` ( `session_id`,`time`,`username`,`gid`,`guest`,`client_id` ) VALUES (‘0eb025f4839fcddf3a5af540c031c974’,‘1248672592’,‘’,‘0’,‘1’,‘0’ )

I don’t know about you, but static files seem like a much more cozy way to minimize the number of ways a hacker can come charging in and mess with your online journal. Of course it means that you won’t be hip and with it like all of the q00l A-list weblogs, but at least people might be able to see your commentary.

1 comment

Jul 25, 2009

More Bee Pictures!


A bumblebee works a flowerpatch out at the end of the paved part of the Springwater Trail at Rugg Road.

Jul 24, 2009

Submitted without comment


A billboard across Sandy from the Fish/Bird bridge trolley stop on i205.

I’m going to have to get more lights…

… because the days are getting shorter, and I’m having a devil of a time getting out and onto the road before a good chunk of the day is gone.


Today I rolled out the door at 11:40, didn’t even spend more than about a hour and a half off the bike at checkpoints, but still only got 106 miles of riding in (and made the discovery that cold lemonade can de-fry me in under 15 minutes; I’d set up home as the 94 mile checkpoint so I could drop off donuts, and when I carried the bicycle into the house I didn’t know if it was feasable to continue. two tall glasses of lovely cold lemonade and I was ready to head on out and roll the odometer over the magic 100 mark) before the sun plunged like a stone behind Tualatin Mountain and left me scampering quickly home on Woodstock before it got totally dark.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite inspects the donuts after their long trip back from Sandy.

Railroad picture of the day


When I was going out to Sandy to get donuts today (on a spectacularly inefficient route) I reached the BNSF/Yellow Menace bridge over the Columbia at the exact same time as the southbound Coast Starlight departed Vancouver station (which is just the other side of the bridge.) I had to take pictures, of course; I grabbed my bicycle and hauled it off to the side of the road, pulled out the camera, and started taking pictures as soon as the lead Eng! became visible.

This picture doesn’t have nearly the bridge clutter as most of the rest do.

Jul 23, 2009

Life on the river


Portland Fire & Rescue #6R (the David Campbell) sails under the Hawthorne Bridge around 3pm today.

Another day, another 100 mile loop


Despite having ridden somewhere in the ballpark of 5000 miles this year, I’d not yet taken the loop out to the big pile of waterfalls on the Columbia River Highway. And given that I’d just climbed Larch Mountain, it seemed only appropriate that I should turn around and visit the base of said mountain. So thisWednesday morning, I got up bright and early, packed a lunch (two peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, 6-7 oreos, and three slices of cheddite) in the keep-it-cool bag, tossed a handful of cookie bars into the panniers, tightened the seat bolt (there were two mysterious sounds coming from the bicycle, and tightening the seat bolt killed one of them. The other mysterious sound is either the chain being worn out after being ridden 1100 miles in the last month and a half or it’s the bottom bracket’s way of reminding me that I need to pull it out and repack the bearings), and, after doing some housework to keep the chaos down to a dull roar, rolled out the door at the bright and early hour of 12:30.

Oh well.

My usual route to the east (17th to the Springwater Trail, then east until I get to a good jumping point) has been critically damaged by the upcoming opening of the Clackamas trolley line, which means that every time I go east I jump off the trail at Flavel St, go across to the Flavel St. station to see if a train is about to appear. Today was no exception, but, alas, nothing showed up in 15 minutes, so I jumped back onto the Springwater Trail and rolled out to Gresham, where I jumped off the trail and made my way to Stark Street, and followed it east to the Sandy River (and the Columbia River Highway), and then up and up onto the flanks of Larch Mountain at least as far as Crown Point, where the Columbia River Highway and I started plunging back down to water level.

The Columbia River Highway is marvellously twisty on the way down from Crown Point; the first couple of miles is hairpin turn after hairpin turn, so if you’re following a car or van, you can simply plant yourself in the middle of the lane and follow them down without worrying about blocking traffic, because they won’t be going any faster than 20mph anyways. And after the twisty section ends, pop, you’re in the land of waterfalls, with more waterfalls and other car-trapping tourist stops that you can shake a stick at, so the poor cars that are trapped behind you aren’t likely to be trapped behind you for very long before they’re lured away by scenic beauty™.

Multnomah Falls @ lunchtime

The big waterfall is, of course, Multnomah Falls, which, conveniently, comes fully equipped with the multnomah falls lodge, which means that a wandering bicyclist can pull up, lock their bicycle to the convenient bicycle rack, buy a fruit smoothie, then sit down at an outside table to eat their previously prepared pb&j sandwiches. And after I finished that, and after a couple of hopeful looks at the Yellow Menace mainline just the other side of the highway (no trains :-(), I got back on my bicycle and headed east towards the east side of Ainsworth State Park (which is where the Columbia River Highway merges onto i84, and which is where I turned around and headed back.

Going up the Columbia River Highway to Crown Point is nowhere near as swoopy as coming back down. A serious biker with a nice light bicycle could, no doubt, make pretty short work of it, but as of today I’m 186 pounds, plus the xtracycle and supplies makes it pretty damn close to 250, so I dropped into my dump gear (35") and crawled very very slowly up to the very top, where I pulled off into the Portland Women’s Forum and refilled my water bottles which had mysteriously all gone empty whilst I crawled up the cliff face. And then it was quick work to descend down to the Sandy River, then north to Troutdale and Marine Drive.

Did I mention that it was windy yesterday, and the wind was coming out of the northwest? Well, it was, and that convinced me that I should proceed all the way to Kelley Point Park (20 miles?) because if I could make it there, then the rest of the trip home would have a nice tailwind and there’s nothing finer than finishing a long loop by being blown down the line at >20mph. But Marine Drive is a pretty grim way to get my reward; it’s a busy truck corridor, so along with the wicked wind blowing in my face trucks were constantly blowing by just the other side of me. Most of them swerved to give me 3-4' of clearance, but it’s not a very soothing ride along the waterfront nevertheless.

But I plugged along, and eventually (at 19:30) reached Kelley Point Park and took the obligatory “slightly deranged” photo of my bicycle:


… at which point the sun looked at me, said “ah hah!”, and commenced the nightly plummet from the sky. So, with the wind at my back, I bolted south down Lombard, then down Lombard, then Willamette, Greeley, and Interstate, and only had to stop to attach all my running lights just before I reached the Eastbank Esplanade and stepped off the public roads for most of the last 8 miles to home.

I only had one collision scare, too: I was on the Esplanade, creeping south and ringing my bell pretty much constantly, when some fellow on a fixed-gear bicycle came whipping around a corner just as I was veering around a group of pedestrians. We both cried “OH SHIT!”, stomped on our brakes, and skidded almost to a stop before our bicycles did a headon collision and bounced off each other. I did have to pry my hands off the brake levers after determining that neither of us was actually hurt (we were going slowly enough so that neither of us fell over, but just bounced our rear wheels off the ground), and, after kicking my headlight a couple of times to get it to light up again (there’s a loose wire inside and when I hit a bump it turns itself off. I’m going to have to pry the casing apart, re-solder all the connections inside, and put a proper pushbutton switch on it) headed back south into the deepening gloom.

The grand totals are:

  • 164 kilometers
  • 1453 meters ascent (2050 if you believe the GPS’s lies)
  • 7h22 minutes riding (22.2 km/h)
  • 8h25 minutes total loop time (19.5 km/h)
  • 2 bicycle pictures, 6 waterfall pictures, 10 locomotive pictures
  • the pleasant discovery that the forest in the Columbia Gorge smells much like the forests around my grandparent’s summer camp in Maine used to smell like.

I don’t know why, but this was one of the most effortlessly pleasant bike rides I’ve been on, and I was pretty unhappy when the sun set. At no point during this trip, and this includes crawling up towards Vista Point from either direction, did I feel so exhausted that I didn’t think I could finish the whole ridiculous loop. Maybe it’s because I brought sammiches, and didn’t have to resort to cookie bars or on-the-trail junkfood?

Jul 21, 2009

Railroad picture of the day


I ride by the switching leads along Marine Drive all the time, but I’ve never seen anything in operation on them until this afternoon. I was almost to my turnaround point at Kelley Point Park when I saw the familiar 70s-style BN logo at a distance, so I pulled the Trek to a stop, grabbed my camera, and trotted across Marine Drive to get pictures.

Switching auto carriers is really boring, because (in this case) they are filled with autos, which don’t take well to being slammed around with gay abandon. So the 3015 was gingerly pulling the carriers forward, then gingerly pushing them back to assemble the train, and I eventually tired of taking pictures and continued on into the howling arctic blasts of Kelley Point Park.

Snow in July?


I rode up to Kelley Point Park this afternoon, and the cottonwood trees there are shovelling cotton into the air with gay abandon. Except for the pointy end of the park (where the wind coming up the Columbia blows the cotton away) pretty much all of Kelley Point Park looks like this.

Jul 20, 2009

Trolley picture of the day

Tri-Met 411 @ Flavel St

A SD-70 pulls away from the station at Flavel St & i205.

Out on the line

Larch Mountain from Chanticleer Point

The hill in the background is Larch Mountain, which is an old shield volcano that stands about 1200 meters high. It’s 40 miles away from home, and it’s been taunting me all year. I abandoned an attempt to climb it a couple of days ago, but I had no prior engagements this afternoon, so I took another shot at it:


It took me 2 and a half hours to climb from the Stark Street bridge up to the parking lot at the summit of Larch Mountain, and I spent a ridiculously large percent of that time stomping away in the lowest gear my bicycle has available. It’s not so bad going from the Stark Street bridge up to the Women’s Forum, but Larch Mountain Road appears to vary between two states (slight ascent and oh no not again!) each of which requires an amazing amount of energy to shove 55 pounds of xtracycle, food, and water up.

I was moving so slowly that by the time I reached the parking lot at the summit I was the de facto drum major of a little parade of bees, all attracted to my nice yellow helmet and the cloud of evaporating sweat that trailed after me. The park at the summit is a pay park, which kept me from sticking around, but it didn’t help that as soon as I parked the bicycle I was immediately surrounded by all of these bees, who took the opportunity to practice touch-and-gos on my ears, nose, and forehead.

Coming down the mountain wasn’t quite so slow. I only used my brakes twice on Larch Mountain Road (a 15mph corner after a steep descent at the summit, and a 20mph corner a little further down) and I believe I averaged 30mph for the first 10 miles of the descent. The Trek is a little too small for me to properly tuck down behind the handlebars, so I never got above 46mph, but it certainly felt like the trees were blueshifting on some of the steeper straightaways down off that hill.

Alas, I had to cut the loop short at 86 miles, because by the time I got into town (and made an emergency stop at a fast food joint for a fish sandwich and a ridiculously large soda (32 ounces is now “medium”? I’m so glad to see that the agribusiness subsidies are working out so well) the sun was plummeting from the sky and I had to do the last 10 miles to home (including a bunch of miles on the newly reopened Caruthers->Foster section of the i205 bicycle trail) with all of my blinky and flashy “please don’t kill me” lights on.

Maybe I’ll visit Multnomah Falls next time. There’s nowhere near as much climbing needed to get there from here.

1 comment

Jul 19, 2009



When I was looking the bicycle over this afternoon before going out to do some errands I noticed that the back tire had gone past just ‘worn’ and had instead reached the coveted ‘dead’ state. I bought this tire last October (I think) and it’s had about 9,000 kilometers of wear since then.

And only three punctures (1 safety pin, 1 nail, 1 staple) in the process.

Fortunately I bought a couple of spare tires, so I didn’t have to revert to the old flimsy Trek tires I bought at the LBS last summer (and retired abruptly when they picked up their fifth puncture in 1600 kilometers.)

Railroad picture of the day


I had a little bit of time before dinner tonight, so I went down to 11th/Clinton/12th to photograph the 18:15 Cascades.

It turns out that the Yellow Menace doesn’t even bother to turn signals on until the train is almost at the block; when I reached 11th/Clinton/12th, the signals were dark and I was worried that I’d missed the train until I heard it going tooooooooot in the near distance.

Jul 18, 2009

Almost ready for service

The trolley station at SE Flavel & i205

The Tri-Met station at Flavel & i205, waiting for the line to open and passengers to appear.

Now that’s something you don’t see every day!


I was coming back from an attempted trainspotting expedition (Tri-Met has started running test trains on the new i205/Clackamas line, and I spotted two trains when riding out to Rugg Road this morning. Alas, by the time I went back to trainspot they’d stopped for the day) and was rolling down Flavel towards 39th when I rolled past this electric car sitting quietly in a driveway. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one in the flesh (there were only 3500 made, and the last one rolled out from the works in 1923) but I have seen one or two offered for sale on various “EV for sale” websites, and I recognised it quickly enough to put the bicycle into a skid when I stopped to take this picture.

It’s an American made EV from 1921 (and made by a company that was purchased by GM, which means that the EV-1 was at least the second EV design that was killed by that horrible company.) I wonder if it’s still street-legal?

1 comment

Jul 17, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite hangs around with his space robo-owl friend Gort.

More Bee Pictures!

A honeybee swoops in ->HoverBee2

The mint is in full bloom now, and the bees are going crazy over it. I spent about 5 minutes sitting on the porch today (it was ~38°C in the middle of the afternoon, which was too hot to do anything except bike riding) and got about 70 pictures of honeybees and their tiny monochrome relatives working the mint like there was no tomorrow. Consider youself lucky that I only decided to publish two of those pictures.

Will wonders never cease?


The Circle Avenue bridge on the Springwater Trail has been out of service for over a year, so you can understand my astonishment when I came around the curve at 156th Ave and saw this big new sign on the barracade. Amazingly, it looks like the City of Portland has finally decided that it might be a good plan to actually fix the bridge instead of engaging in a running battle with the trail users who have gotten fed up with the lack of repairs and were just using (and removing the barracades as part of “just using”) the bridge instead of looping around to the north on Circle Ave.

It will be nice when the bridge is replaced and I can check off that last 300 or so meters of the Portland Traction line that I’ve not ridden yet.

One of the really bizarre things about this bridge being out is that traffic was routed north along Circle Ave, which puts you onto Jenne Road north of the trail (which means you need to zig across Jenne Road to regain the trail instead of just crossing. Fortunately most of the automobile traffic is familiar with this ongoing train wreck and treats bicycles coming out of Jenne Road as if they were on the path already) instead of south across a decommissioned but still open bridge, then cross 10 meters of field back to the trail. It would have made it far more pleasant for pedestrians and bicyclists who don’t wish to play with traffic any more than they had to. Maybe there’s a colony of drop bears down there.

Jul 16, 2009

The mysterious cat


Mavis found something soothing in the shopping bag, so she stuffed her head in there and just lay there quietly for a while.

Jul 15, 2009

Out on the line


I forgot to take a picture when I paused at the Portland Women’s Forum, so I dropped down to the Vista House for a picture. I was planning on climbing Larch Mountain, but this was about as far as I got (I actually climbed a couple hundred feet higher on Larch Mountain Road, but decided that it was too warm and I was too tired to successfully make it up there and back (and as it stood the return home (via Troutdale, Marine Drive, the i205 path/102nd Ave/82nd/Clinton and the Springwater Trail) took a loooong time because it got to the point where I was pretty much forcing myself to continue when I wanted to fall face-down into the grass at the side of the road.)

Portland has a bunch of Benson Bubblers, but they’re all downtown, and the 9 miles between the temporary fire station 1 bubblers and the point where I ran out of water was a very long and thirsty pedal.

Maybe I’ll carry an umbrella the next time I go out on a long loop. Or maybe I should get a lighter bicycle for these hot sunny days out on the line.

Jul 14, 2009

Out on the line


I had to run a couple of errands on the west side of Portland today, but, as usual, I looped through downtown Portland via the Springwater Trail to get there (it would be faster to just jump across the Sellwood Bridge, but where’s the sport in that?) Normally, the Springwater Trail is a pretty fast run to downtown – it’s ~6km, sheltered from most of the wind, and generally downhill from Tacoma street to the end of the line by OMSI – but it wasn’t today, because as I transited the Portland Traction embankment east of Oaks Park, I spotted this juvenile Osprey sitting at the edge of its nest. It was peeping up a storm, sounding very distressed, and another osprey was poking about in the nest, so I stopped the bicycle, pulled out my Pentax and started taking pictures.

Terrified Osprey

I didn’t see the other osprey any longer, but the peeping sounds were getting louder and, funnily, were now also coming from the other side of the trail. I moved a little bit ahead, looked over to the other side, and saw that the other osprey must have just taken its first solo flight out of the nest and was now clinging to a branch in absolute terror, and peeping as if it was a 1000 horsepower sparrow.

Peeping Osprey

This went on for quite some time, but, eventually it realized that this branch was just like the nest back on the other side, so it stopped cringing, adjusted its feathers, and finally lifted off and flew back to the nest, where it collapsed into a quivering jelly (I presume it collapsed into a quivering jelly because once it got back to the nest I didn’t see anything except for an occasional wingtip.) And, needless to say, my hopes for a quick run through downtown had vanished several hundred pictures ago.


Jul 13, 2009

Picture of the day

fremont bridge

The Fremont bridge, photographed from the wrong side in the late afternoon.

Jul 12, 2009

Out on the line


It was distressingly cloudy today, and the weather forecast was oscillating between “thunderstorm” and “showers”, so I didn’t want to ride very far away from home and risk getting soaked to the skin on a hour+ retreat to Sellwood. So I changed my travel plans into a 20-odd mile loop through East Portland (Springwater Trail to 82nd, then Luther, Clatsop, and Flavel back to 39th/41st, then north to Clinton, then back home on the Springwater Trail. This plan didn’t survive intact, because Portland is tiny, so I added a Hawthorne-Mount Tabor appendix to push my loop up to a not-totally-embarrassing 23 miles) and slowly rode around the city with my eyes peeled for rain.

I didn’t get rained on, but I had to chop off a second proposed addition when it started to rain in West Portland as I headed west on Clinton St. But I did manage to get up to the top of Mount Tabor (which, oddly, seems a lot steeper in a car than it does when I’m creeping up the hill in my 66" gear) and then back down via, in part, some gravel paths that went to 1 in 2 grades when I didn’t expect to see them. I am pleased to report that I can successfully steer the xtracycle when the rear wheel is skidding on loose gravel (I wasn’t using very much of the front brake because on those 1 in 2 grades it just made the front wheel skid, and I consider it a matter of pride to not dump the trek and roll down the hill like Jack and mecha-Jill) at 25mph.

I’d updated some of the bicycle on friday – I’d replaced the old dia-compe brake levers with a pair of riv-approved shimano levers – and it’s amazing how much better the bicycle tries to stop when it’s dealing with components that don’t have the wear that the poor old dia-compe levers had. The thing that provoked me to change out the levers is that I smashed my right thumb a couple of weeks ago (thanks to a speed bump which was steep enough to tear the handlebar out of my right hand on the up, then crunch it down on my thumb on the down) and the new “please don’t hurt me” position of my right hand was causing the hood to pull forward and wrap sideways around the lever, so it was a completely delightful surprise when I took the bike out for a test run and managed to lift the rear wheel when I did a quick stop at the end of a downgrade. Regrettably, and despite having the Park Tool page on “how to wrap your handlebar” up on the computer as well as having the back of the bar tape box sitting right there showing me which direction to wrap, I managed to wrap both bars counterclockwise. Again.

Trolley picture of the day

tri-met 312 interstate

A single SD-600 grinds up the hill next to Albina yard at ~6pm Saturday.

Jul 11, 2009

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears sit in the shade and enjoy a cool drink after going on a berry-picking frenzy.

It’s like a roll-your-own-adventure where every choice is bad

stinging horrors

These paper wasps were quietly tending their nest on a fencepost at West Union Gardens this afternoon, ignoring all the people streaming by right next to it. Alas, it still counted as 70 different flavo(u)rs of bad so we reported it to the people who owned the farm (with, I presume, a fairly unfortunate result for this particular wasp colony.)

Picture of the day

white-crowned sparrow

A White-Crowned Sparrow sits on a blackberry bush at West Union Gardens and gives me the evil eye for interrupting its dinner.


Jul 10, 2009

Out on the line


A zoomy picture of the Sandy River from the top of the bluff in Sandy. Taken when I was crawling back from Joe’s Donuts this afternoon (on what seemed like the longest bike ride in history; I ran out of power about 20 miles out, but there was no way that I was going to go almost to Sandy and miss out on the donuts. So I ended up crawling up the hill, then down the hill – a nice stiff north wind made the downhill run amazingly slow – and back home in an incredibly slothful 4h30.) It rained in Portland, too, but this time the downpour happened before I rolled into town.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Every bicycle needs a Dust Mite mounting bracket!

Jul 06, 2009

More Bee Pictures!


When I was watering some of the yard today (I ripped out a section of the driveway a month ago, and I’ve been religiously watering the new grass I seeded there) I managed to score a direct hit on this poor bumblebee, who I found a hour later clinging to a clover flower trying to dry off (on a fairly cold cloudy day.)

So I had to drag out the pentax and take some pictures of the poor forlorn little stinging insect.

Jul 05, 2009

More Bee Pictures!


The high season for the flowers at Linnemann Junction has come and gone already, but there are still a few honeysuckle and unknown pink flowers left, so there is still some food for particularly stubborn bees. The pink flowers are very slippery, so the honeybees end up sliding around the flower stalks while trying to get to the nectar in the flowers. I spent a couple of minutes trying to get pictures with autofocus on, but the bees moved faster than the glacially slow Pentax autofocus could adjust, so I flipped back to manual focus and was able to get a couple of in-focus pictures of honeybees hanging on for dear life as they scrounged for some bee fud.

Jul 04, 2009

Hummingbird at play

Hummingbird Feeds<- ->Hummingbird

Two pictures of a hummingbird that was zipping around my parent’s porch tonight.

Jul 03, 2009

Looking for a handout

->GullInFlight<- ->DisgruntledGull

When we were down at the beach on Wednesday evening, the seagulls took a particular interest in us, but were woefully disappointed when we departed for our hotel without leaving even a single scrap for them to eat. This juvenile gull was particularly irked when it swooped down for a landing, only to discover that the potential larder was completely bare and was not going to be refilled by these particular members of the dominant primate species.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Still Life with Flowers & Dust Mite

Jul 02, 2009

And, finally, a trolley or two


A better picture of the brand new United Streetcar Astra (built under license from either Skoda or Inekon; I’m not sure which of them owns the Astra design) that I took while on the way to REI this afternoon.


Every time we go south to Newport along highway 101, we pass this old Portland car that’s been converted into a novelty shop just south of Lincoln City. Apparently there used to be 4-5 carbodies, but there’s only been the one since we moved up here and started visiting places along the coast.

One good railroad picture deserves another


When I was going out for errands this afternoon, I found myself at the north end of Union Station at the exact time that the northbound Coast Starlight was departing for Seattle. I was waiting at the stoplight at 9th & Naito when the train departed, but the stupid lights there (there’s a turn signal light which, surprise, doesn’t activate for bicycles) didn’t let me through until the train was well underway, so I dumped my bicycle by the side of the road, yanked out the camera, and bolted up to get a few pictures as it came across 9th.

I didn’t realize until I reached the tracks that the 4449 was sitting in the station getting ready to depart for the midwest with the millionaire boys club tour train, so all you get to see of that eng! is a little bit of the pilot and snoot in the background. (Since I live in Portland twinkies are more exotic engines than GS-4s; when the ORHF builds their new enginehouse down by OMSI, I’ll be seeing the 4449 almost every day, but I need to carefully time my rambles to catch a twinkie in action. The amusing thing is that if it wasn’t for the longterm lease to the P&W/ W&P, the last operational SDP40 would be less exotic than the GE units. In any case, the 4449 will no doubt still exist when the last of the twinkies have been converted to razor blades or tucked away in museums.)

Excuse me, but do you have a permit for that structure?


A tiny hermit crab on the beach in Newport (discovered by the bears and photographed by yours truly)

Cute baby picture of the day


Russell and Silas on the beach at Newport, Oregon.

Railroad picture of the day


The SP Newsprint switcher pulls a train of newsprint across highway 99W in Newberg at around 11:30 this morning. The best and I were on our way back from depositing the bears with their grandparents for a couple of days at Newport, and we crossed the SP Newsprint lead just as the 3529 came off the Red Electric mainline and headed down Blaine Street towards the mill. A quick 270° loop around the block and we were able to park and watch the train come rolling by before continuing on towards home.

Jul 01, 2009

Bitten by Apple quality

Just before I quit my last horrible computer job and took up babyherding, I went out and spent a stack of money replacing my broken macbook with a nice new macbook air. Which was fine (the macbook air is, by and large, a lovely machine) except that two months into its life the hard disk started going “tick tick” “tick tick” “tick tick” in a manner that sounded very much like a disk going bad. So I backed up the system, plunged through the wall of flame that is Apple online support, and eventually got them to give the ok for me to take it into the local Apple store and deal with their so-called genius bar, which ran a bad-blocks scan, mapped the offending blocks in the bad blocks table, and gave me back the machine.

I was happy to have my workstation back, so I didn’t pester them for how they mapped the bad blocks. More fool me, because just this afternoon I fired up the machine and listened with dismay as the (now out of warranty) hard disk started going “tick tick” “tick tick” “tick tick” again.

Now that’s a quality hard disk. Excellent quality control, Apple – I’ve always wanted to spend US$1800 on something that only lasts about a year before parts start flying off.

More Bee Pictures!


A tiny little bee (quickly) works some of the new mint flowers in front of the house. Unlike the regular honeybees, these ones come roaring it, grab a morsel, then go roaring out, so if I don’t get the picture right the first time they’ll be gone before the Pentax can refocus for a second try.


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir