This Space for Rent

Dec 31, 2009

Tried and liked/didn’t like (2009 edition)

I walked into the year with my xtracycle set up pretty much the way I wanted it to be, so this was a fairly conservative year for bikey things. Except for the midlifecrisismobile, which gave me a couple of new things to try out.

The first thing – 650b wheels – didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. I’d read enough recommendations for 650b that I though it could kill several of the birds that annoy me about the xtracycle (toe overlap, rattle on chipseal, slow climbing, and being slower than I wanted for brevets.) After I built up the mlcm, I ran it on a dozen or so shortish loops equipped with Rivendell/Panaracer Nifty Swifty tires, and seemed to get everything except for much more speed (I was getting about ¼th mph faster than the xtracycle, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but isn’t great.) And then I took it out on the UGB 200 with spectacularly bad results – the bicycle ran so slowly that I reached the top of the Boring lava with less than a hour to get across to Canby (14 miles out, which is doable, but I’d have to push like mad to get there, and that would leave me with no spare time to get across to Gaston), and after abandoning and going home, I woke up the next morning feeling like I’d gone through a peppermill. I commented bitterly about this, but relented when Michael Wolfe reminded me that Nifty Swifties are horrible tires and I’d get better results if I used Col de la Vie tires instead.

I had a couple of Col de la Vies as spares at home, so it was worthwhile to test them out instead of pulling the plug, so I ripped the Nifty Slothies off and put the CdlVs on instead. They rode better, which was good, and they weren’t any slower, which was also good, but within 200 miles I’d picked up two flats and my patience was worn down to nothingness (the second flat was 5 miles out from home on a cold and windy evening, so I was fairly unhappy with the whole idea by the time I’d pulled the nail out of the tire and replaced the tube.) So the next morning the first thing I did was to fit my old Trek wheels with a pair of el-cheapo Chen Shen 700c×25 tires, fit those wheels onto the mlcm instead of the 650b wheels. and then run the exact same loop so I could compare timings.

The 700c version of the mlcm turned out to be ¾ths of a mph faster, and ran about 2mph faster before the wind than the 650b'ed version did. And I repeated this performance the following day.

So, yes, wide tires are smoother (and if I was going to use wide tires I’d need to use 650b because there is almost no toe clearance on the mlcm when I’ve got 700c×25 tires and fenders) but if I’m going to consistantly give up speed for smoothness I’d be better off sticking with the xtracycle, because it’s a nice lively frame that descends like an anvil. So, no, I don’t think I’ll do anything more with the 650b experiment (I’m aware that I could go out and spend ~$100/pair for Grand Bois tires, but I can go a /long/ way riding cheaper fast 700c tires.)

The other new thing with the mlcm has not turned out to be a disappointment. One of the things that’s been problematic with the xtracycle is that all of the storage on it is in panniers, so if I want to take a picture I need to stop, get off the bicycle, pull the camera out of the pannier, and take the picture. This proved to be so annoying that I stopped taking pictures (even after buying cheapie point and shoot cameras that I could tuck into my pocket.) So the plan for the mlcm was to set up with a porteur rack and a rack bag to carry all my camera/rando crap in (and have a platform to carry groceries on if I wanted to stop in at New Seasons on the way back from a R600) and, as a short term solution, to use the Nitto F15 handlebar rack and a home-made handlebar bag to put everything up front.

This has been a huge win on two fronts. First, the camera is right there so I can grab it at will when I’m on the bike without needing to do anything more than stopping, and secondly if I put my cellphone into the front bag I can actually hear it when it rings (when I had it in a pocket or a xtracycle pannier, it would ring and I’d not even hear it. This had repeated unfortunate side effects.) I’ve got a high trail fork, so a handlebar rack has the unfortunate side effect of making the front wheel very floppy when I’m going slowly and/or uphill (so I’ll need to eventually sell a bunch of stuff on ebay so I can either (a) buy a cyclocross fork and rerake the devil out of it or (b) hire a framebuilder to build me a custom low trail fork) but it’s an an annoyance I can live with.

There are a couple of other small things that I’ve tried and liked, too (Nitto Randonneur bars, which have the drops flared out far enough so I can ride in the drops and not have my wrists bumping into the tops, and the Shimano Tiagra brake levers that I’ve got on both bicycles – they are both very very comfortable to hold onto when I’m riding) but they aren’t nearly as nice as having a frontloading bicycle to experiment with.

State of the art, such as it is


The midlifecrisismobile seems to be getting moderately close to being dialed in, now that I’ve pulled the 650b wheels, stuffed in the old trek wheelset & 700c×25 tires, and lowered the handlebars just a little bit more (they’re now 2¾ths inch lower than the seat.)

The current component list consists of

  • 58cm Soma Speedster frame/fork (used)
  • Nitto B135 handlebars (new)
  • Dimension 17° stem, anodized black for extra ugliness (LBS)
  • Problem Solvers stem clamp (so I can adjust the handlebars without drama) (LBS)
  • a couple of headset spacers (5mm, 10mm) (new)
  • a Incredibell duet bell kitbashed onto a Incredibell headset bell mount (LBS)
  • an el-cheapo aluminum seatpost(LBS)
  • an el-cheapo SRAM 8-speed cassette (11/12/14/16/18/21/26/32) (REI)
  • a Biopace 48-tooth chainring, bolted to a shiny! red Origin-8 crankset (ebay)
  • a Shimano UN54 bottom bracket (LBS)
  • el-cheapo SRAM mountain derailer (REI)
  • el-cheapo 8-speed chain (LBS)
  • some ancient friction shifter (ebay)
  • Tektro R556 brakes (ebay), and
  • Shimano brake levers (used)
  • MKS pedals (used), cheapy Delta toeclips and straps (also used)
  • Chris King headset (pure vanity, but also used)
  • SKS P45 fenders (didn’t need to be adjusted when I pulled the 650B wheels and replaced them with 700c) with home-made mudflaps (new)
  • Nitto F15 handlebar bag holder (new)
  • the prototype#2 handlebar bag (which is not nearly as waterproof as I want it to be; prototype#3 is going to need to have the map case sealed)
  • an old seatpost bag (with a plastic bag wedged in above it to keep the seat dry during the rain
  • a couple of Dimension bottleholders (new)
  • the essential Brooks Professional saddle (new)
  • I’m not sure where the handlebar tape is from, but it’s tan. I’ve got another roll of it sitting around (and some hemp twine & shellac) in case I decide that I want to go for the full Riv look on my decidedly non-Riv bicycle
  • I’ve got a bunch of lights; a Niterider MiNewt headlight, a couple of Trek-branded handlebar end taillights, and a Nashbar brakelight wired to the rear brake (LBS,LBS,new)
  • and some shiny! red brake cable housing

The sad thing is that it fits better than my Trek; the extra inch fore and aft stretches the wheelbase out far enough so that a 700c×25 tire + fender can just barely fit without toe overlap, and the combination of the longer frame and stem pushes the handlebars out two comfortable inches, so I can more easily ride in the drops, even with the handlebars lower than they are on the Trek. I suppose I could always try to get a 1" threadless fork for the Trek (and rake it out to 60-70mm) and put a really long stem onto it to stretch the driver’s cab to to the size of the mlcm.

Staggering over the finish line


It took going out for a 12 mile loop in the rain, but I managed to push my recorded milage on the bike up over 8000 miles today; 8002½ gps recorded miles for the year (and somewhere in the ballpark of 8400 miles when you include the various out of power/accidentally turned off/forgot to turn on/didn’t carry trips I took.)

November & December were not exactly the most ridey months of the year; aside from the Verboort Flat Tire Extravaganza! and my attempt to ride the UGB 200k on the midlifecrisismobile (DNFed because I was running too slowly and needed to get home to go out to dinner with my family for my father’s birthday) none of my rides were over 40 miles. I still finished out the year having ridden 7 100+ mile loops (and another 25 100+ kilometer loops.)

Given any luck I’ll have dialed in the midlifecrisismobile by the time the days get long enough to run R300s without spending too much time paddling about in the dark.


Dec 30, 2009

New Code (“coding from my sickbed” edition)

Discount has been shoved up to version 1.5.8 with the eradication of a couple of bugs and the addition of a tiny new feature.

The newly squashed bugs (reported by Matthew Kennard) had to do with table handling; - the one he reported was that a line with |’s in it, if followed by a blank line, would be treated as a table, and - the other one, which I discovered when correcting this first one, was that a table that contained nothing but headers would be silently dropped.

This meant that input like


 new para

would make discount silently eat the A|B|C and generate

<p>new para</p>

(The first bug treated A|B|C as a table, and the second bug meant that it wouldn’t display because it didn’t have any data associated with it.)

The feature (requested by Val Schmidt at UNH) was to allow image sizes of the form “=xH” (to set the height of an image) and “=Wx” (to set the width.) This allows someone to scale an image to fit a particular height or width without having to hand-compute the other dimension.

None of these features introduce any new data structures, so they should be fairly safe. Heh heh heh.

Dec 29, 2009

Picture of the day (26 hours later)


When I went out on my bicycle yesterday afternoon, it was cold and windy, but the sun was out and it looked like just any other fall day. But 2pm today, the clouds had socked in an the white death started to fall from the sky. And it’s fallen and fallen, to the tune of two or so inches of soon-to-be-melted water.

It’s pretty, as long as I don’t have to go out in it any longer than I need for shovelling my front walk.

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Picture of the day


Looking east along the Springwater Trail from the SPYellow Menace overpass; if you look closely (or cheat and look at the embiggened image) you’ll see a couple of bicyclists approaching along the trail as a fire truck zooms overhead.

Dec 28, 2009

All hardware sucks


When I was on the way home from a trivially short loop this afternoon, I ran over some debris on the street, which got sucked up by the front wheel and wedged between it and the fender. Now, the fenders that I have are a set of SKS P45 fenders, which come with a pair of cheap plastic quick-release clips that the fender struts fit into, so that when some debris is sucked up by the wheel the “Secu-Clip security stay [will unclip] automatically when a foreign objects lodges against the tire and fender.”

Well, a foreign object did lodge against the tire and fender. But did the Secu-Clips™ unclip automatically? Oh hahaha, no. The Secu-Clips (replacement cost: US$1.50) remained firmly clipped together, but the metal bolts that fasten the stays to the fender (replacement cost: US$15) stripped right on off the stays, flung themselves onto the street, and were lost forever.


Dec 27, 2009


Two days ago, I rode out to Gresham and back (against a 30mph headwind, which made the trip out really fun) and averaged about 16.6mph for the 5 mile stretch from Jenne & Foster to 84th St (where I hit a nail and had my sprint for home rudely interrupted.)

Yesterday, I rode out to Gresham and back (against a 30mph headwind. Again.) and averaged about 18.5 mph for the 5 mile stretch from Jenne & Foster to 84th St.

When I rode back in two days ago, I was pushing as fast as I could go to make up for the glacially slow creep out (and to keep myself warm, because it was cold out there.) Yesterday, I was taking it a little bit more sedately because I was more interested in feeling how a pair of 1" 700c tires rode compared to the unsettlingly smooth ride of the Col de la Vies that are on the 650b wheels that were on the mlcm until yesterday morning.

Now, I’d not even start to pretend that my cheap spare tires have anywhere near the ride quality of the CdlVs, even if I didn’t inflate them up to nearly the 120psi that the tires are rated for (~95 to 100 psi; I’d inflated them to 100 psi, but my experience is that I lose 5-10psi when I’m pulling the ridiculously difficult to detach Planet Bike pump head (which is allegedly Presta & Schraeder, but only blows through the presta attachment) from the valve.) But 18.5mph vs. 16.6? When I wasn’t pushing myself as fast as I could go (I was feeling really tired yesterday afternoon, due, I suspect, to this cold that I’m coming down with)?

That’s, um, quite a difference in average speed (the compensated (for the time before the 2 day ago flat) trip speeds were 13.5mph (650b) vs 14.2mph (700c)) for two riding days where the weather was equally crappy.




A map, thanks to gps visualizer and Stephen Skory’s GTCMashup, showing all the places (overlaid on satellite photos here) I rode my bicycle during the last 2/3rds of the year (yes, there are still four days left in the year, but (a) it’s cold out, (b) it’s windy out, (c) rain is threatened, and (d) I’ve got a cold, so it’s not likely I’m going to do any great explorations before the clock runs out.)

~4900 miles (out of ~8300 total) ridden.

Next year will probably look much the same as this, unless I do something insane like an unsupported R1200 to Glacier Park (and really unsupported ferry ride to get back from there) and some as-yet-nonexistant 300/400/600 km brevetspermanents to build up to it. But a loop from Sellwood to Maupin and back would make a nice R400 (or a modified Three Capes that started in the middle of Portland like G-d himeself intended, instead of inconveniently out in Forest Grove.)

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Dec 25, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite and one of its distant relatives celebrate a fashionably late Saturnalia.

Cute baby picture of the day


The bears discuss the contents of their stockings.

Trolley picture of the day


Green/Red stopped at 11th & Cooch to pick up passengers while I stood inside the children’s section at Powell’s Books, so I had to pull out the camera and take a few pictures before it left.

I begin to suspect that 650b isn’t for me.

After a somewhat less than successful test of Riv/Panaracer Nifty Swifty tires (complete with a piece of glass poking through the rear tire and puncturing the tube [to the tune of ~30 minutes to repair]) I was planning to dump the 650b wheels I’ve got in favor of 700c. This plan was stopped when Michael Wolfe pointed out that Nifty Swifties are crap, and I might be able to get better results if I used Panaracer Col de la Vie tires instead. I had a pair of Col de la Vies set aside as 650b spare tires, so I was able to rotate them in without any difficulty, and discovered that they seemed to ride faster and smoother than the higher priced spread.

So far, so good. Except that not more than 250 miles later I was returning from a late afternoon Saturnalia ride when I ran over a nail, which rammed through the tire, tube, and down almost to the other side of the tube.


The advantage of 650b wheels is that they’re big enough so I could pump the tire up to about 10 psi and get home at >12mph. The disadvantage, so far, seems to be that they’re wide enough so that they become massive nail & glass magnets. Two urban flats in under 500 miles (on two different tires) does not fill me with confidence that I’ll be able to take the midlifecrisismobile out on longer rural brevets with any degree of success.

At least I’ve got the old wheelset from the Trek sitting down in the basement. This way I’ll be able to see how the mlcm works with 700c wheels before coming to a decision.

Dec 23, 2009

If the electricity ever gives out, I’m a dead man

the handlebar bag that ate my life

Despite officially marking my prototype 2 bag down as a failure, I’ve been loading it up and taking it out on the line so I can figure out all the things that are wrong with it for the next iteration of the handlebar bag (and the subsequent iteration of a bag to sit on the (not yet assembled, even though I’ve got a bunch of steel pipe sitting in the basement waiting for me to learn how to braze it) porteur rack.) And because I’ve been using it, I had to finish sewing it up, and most of this sewing was done by hand.

The top of the bag, showing the prototype map case

Ye gods, it takes forever to sew things by hand. I machine-sewed the lining (with two pockets) in about a minute, but it then took about 9 hours to sew the lining into the carcass, and another couple of hours to sew the map case onto the top of the thing.

But even though it’s missing some important features (external pockets for cellphone & first aid kit, loops for my bike lock) and a few other features need to be fixed ((1) if I’m going to use velcro to hold the lid down, I need to put both pieces of the velcro on flaps so I can just squeeze the flaps together to latch it closed, because the way it is now I tend to fold the back of the bag forward every time I latch it shut, and (2) the velcro tab that hooks over the back of the Nitto F15 rack needs to be replaced with D rings or something similar) it’s still very useful. Not so much for holding clothing (though it does that quite well, up to the point where it starts bulging open) but to hold things like my cell phone (I can’t hear it if I carry it in a pocket, but the annoying raspy ring is very noticable when I’ve stuffed the cellphone up front,) my camera (not having to get off the bicycle and root through the xtracycle panniers is a complete win, as I may have mentioned a dozen or so times before), and cue sheets & brevet cards (I need to run a R200 in the pouring rain sometime to see how much water comes into the map case when I’m moving. I should do the UGB 200k again for this, because I’ve memorized most of the route already and it won’t matter so much if the cuesheet becomes a sodden mass of pulp) when I’m using the midlifecrisismobile for its intended purposes.

The mlcm with the handlebar bag installed -- wide-angle view

It doesn’t look completely good (it comes slightly pre-crumpled for the illusion that I’m an actual hardcore cyclist,) but it’s not as if the midlifecrisismobile pretends to be some hideously expensive bespoke randonneuring bicycle either (I think I spent about US$900 on the mlcm – at least that’s what my ebay sales receipts say I sold over the fall, and that’s how I financed the thing – and a custom made rando bike would cost an order of magnitude more than that without giving me the chance to pick my own components and assemble the bicycle myself.)

Next project is the seatpost bag, which is going to be sewn almost completely by machine (I’m going to have to hand-hem the strapping, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to use the machine to sew the lining into the bag, but I’m not going to hand-sew anything else) and then, after a thousand miles of break-in, I’m going to go back and machine-sew the prototype 3 handlebar bag.

But if the electricity gives up, I’ll “sew” it together with epoxy.

Dec 18, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite sneaks across the floor in the late evening, completely unaware that surveillance cameras are watching every move.

Out on the line

circle ave bridge

Some time before I started obsessively bikeriding, the Springwater Trail’s Circle Ave Bridge was damaged by flooding and taken out of service. It spent most of last year and this year sitting there forlornly (as well as being unofficially used by various trail users who didn’t want to take the Circle Ave detour) and was finally demolished in july. And now, almost exactly 5 months later, the new bridge has finally been put into place (you can see the boom of the crane that was used to set the new span into place on the left side of the picture) as part of the mad rush to get it done before the last minutes of 2009 drain away.

(photo taken with my 55mm Super-Tak & Autostitch – I took about 35 pictures of various bits of the bridge, then let autostitch try to paste them all together. The big version of the photo is huuuuuuuuuuge, and no doubt contains enough stitch artifacts to provide hours of amusement.)

Dec 17, 2009

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Leo crouches suspiciously on the mantel while I take pictures of him (amusingly, even though the Macintosh iPhoto program has a “red eye reduction” feature, it appears to only work on actual redeye, and not on blue or greeneye.)

(a better solution would have been to use an external flash and bounce the light off the ceiling, but the cat wasn’t going to wait for me to bolt into the other room to get that flash. So what I had was the cheapie built-in flash on the *istDS, and that flashhead only points one direction (for optimal redeye creation, of course!))

Dec 14, 2009

New Code!

To join the New Code! fun, Discount has been pushed up to version 1.5.7 to correct one tiny little bug that would cause a core dump.

It turns out that a document consisting of a html block with a malformed ending tag would cause bad things to happen. If someone passed discount the following code:


the first pass parser would greedily suck up all of the text into the html block, then attempt to return one line past the end of the file back to the upper level for further parsing. Weeeeeeeell, since we were past the end of the file, there was not only no next line but no pointer to the next line. And when I tried to dereference that nonexistent pointer much hilarity (in the guise of a core dump) would ensue (thanks to Matthew Kennard for reporting this defect!)

This New Code! fixes that, and if you use discount you should consider upgrading to it.

New Code! (not dead yet edition)

There haven’t been any updates to Postoffice for a while. Not because I’m not using it, of course – Pell continues to be a 100% postoffice joint – but because it’s just been working without fuss, muss, or bother.

But this last weekend found me putting a few tweaks into the code to get around some pesky spam issues, and another tweak to make the nightly cleanup scripts on some of my freebsd quieter (my macos boxes, despite being mutant freebsd, don’t do mail if they can help it, so they don’t really care about having postfix ripped out and replaced with a proper mail server.)

The new features (in version 1.5.1) are:

  • Support the -q command line option for mailq. No, it doesn’t actually do anything yet, but mailq now knows about the flag and silently eats it.
  • better support for smtpauth blacklists; change the diagnostic messages for a blacklisted address so it simply says the system is busy, but doesn’t add a “try again in {some} seconds” postscript to it.
  • Add the new feature of being able to smtpauth blacklist on MAIL FROM: addresses. This last one is pretty useful, because if you’re getting spammed from a round-robin MX where if the spam doesn’t get in through one MX it will simply rotate around to the next you don’t want to have to play whack-a-mx and add all of them into your greylist database. Now you can simply blacklist the MAIL FROM: address and it won’t matter where the spam tries to originate.

    It’s not very subtle, but neither am I. And that’s why I’ve, after an interval of eight months, released this New Code! for your compiling fun.

Dec 12, 2009

WMDs (2009 edition)


Another holiday season rises over the horizon, and that means that it’s time to pull out the Moosewood Dessert Cookbook and start cranking out fruitcakes. These are the Moosewood Italian fruitcakes – I made two of them tonight because a friend offered to trade a rum cake (yar!) for one of them.

Each of these cakes is about 15000 calories. Perhaps I’ll bake one and carry it along the next time I ride an R300.

Dec 11, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Not only isn’t the saddle broken in, it’s too big for a Dust Mite to properly sit on.

Life on the river


The tugboat Norton Bay pushes a barge into the Ross Island lagoon this afternoon, just before sunset (and demonstrates that a round-nosed tugboat can push barges just as if it was a square-nosed boat.)

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Railroad picture of the day


The 700 is up in Vancouver, so the Holiday Express is stuck with a GS-4 for the weekend.

Dec 09, 2009

Cute baby picture of the day


Silas shows off his latest creation (which is apparently a pirate ship, a sled, and a bucket.)

Trolley picture of the day


Red/Green sits in the south yard at the downtown trolley carbarn early yesterday afternoon.

Dec 06, 2009

Domestic vermin picture of the day


Mavis investigates the little playhouse that Silas and Russell made up this afternoon.

Railroad picture of the day


The 700 works its way up the ramp from Oaks Park to the Spokane St crossing, where it stopped and then pushed the train all the way down to OMSI for the 3pm run of the Holiday Express this afternoon. This was the only weekend that they are going to use the 700 as motive power on the Holiday Express trains (it’s going to be up in Vancouver next weekend for a BN Santa train) so I went out of my way to go by and take pictures every day it was operating.


And today, after taking these pictures, I hopped back on the midlifecrisismobile and raced ahead of the train up to OMSI, where I had to turn around and proceed back into Brooklyn to get ahead of the train for the second railroad picture of the day. A band of clouds had moved in since the first picture, so it had become a darker and colder day while I sat around and waited for the train to return.

Dec 05, 2009

Out on the line


The rest of the Arlo Guthrie bike path (from Flavel St. down to Clackamas Towne Center) was opened a month or so ago, but I’d not yet ridden any part of it except from Flavel St north to the Springwater Trail. Today I decided to correct that horrible deficiency. It’s not a very well designed path – it keeps the traditional i205 path design of having segments of the path just sort of dead end at the side of a major street, and then you have to deduce where the path is going to resume by following along the trolley line looking for where it rematerializes – but it does get you from east Portland down to Sunnyside Road without having to spend even a minute on 82nd Ave (I did one Boring loop this summer where I came back in along Sunnyside and 82nd, and the ride along 82nd was, um, not particularly pleasant.)

But I’m not going to complain (much); it rides alongside a trolley line, and that means I get to see the big interurban cars whooshing north and south on moderately close headways while I go creeping alongside the line. And if I’m riding the midlifecrisismobile, that means I get to take the Pentax and have it right at hand when something interesting shows up.

Railroad picture of the day


It has been cold enough over the last few days so that it takes me until 2-3 in the afternoon to drag myself out of the house and out on the bicycle (it doesn’t help much that “the bicycle” is the midlifecrisismobile, which is still in the throes of being adjusted to fit) for my daily ramble around southeast Portland (or as much as I can fit before my fingers and toes freeze out from under me.) Today I didn’t get out until sometime after 2pm, which turned out to be convenient because I heard an Amtrak train whistling for the crossings at 11th and 12th (about 2 miles north of home) as I turned onto Bybee from 17th.

There are many things to be said against the Yellow Menace, but one good thing they’ve done is improve the ex-SP line through east Portland so that trains can run 40mph if they want to. And Amtrak wants to; I live about 1200 feet from the Bybee Ave bridge over 99e and the Yellow Menace mainline, but by the time I got down to the bridge the Coast Starlight had just reached the south end of what used to be Brooklyn Yard (it’s been converted to a TOFC reload facility) and was accelerating up to line speed on the line towards California. It was close, but I barely had time to lie the mlcm up against the railing of the bridge, pull out the mighty Pentax, and scamper across to the north side of the bridge for a picture or twenty as the train came zipping south towards me.

Dec 04, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™



(external combustion) railroad picture of the day


SP&S 700 creeps towards the bridge that connects the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge path to the Springwater Trail. The speed limit for locomotives along here is 15mph, and the 700 was running a little slower than this (I was chasing it on the midlifecrisismobile, and at 16-18mph I was passing it and getting comfortably ahead for my repeated photo stops.) But even at the sluglike speed it was going it’s still a pretty impressive object when it comes rolling by.

(internal combustion) railroad picture of the day


The new replacement working Eng! has been temporarily relocated up to East Portland while this weekend’s Holiday Express runs up and down the line. I was chasing the first train out (fortunately they only run the poor 700 at about 15mph, so I was able to (a) catch up with when I got down to Oaks Park just in time to see it disappearing into the distance, then (b) overtake it several times so I could stop and take pictures of the scene of the crime) but I had to take a slight detour when I saw the 1202 sitting in the yard throat just south of the SPYellow Menace mainline.

Dec 02, 2009

New Code!

Discount has gone up to version 1.5.6 because of a bug report, an discrepancy against the reference implementation, and some documentation fixes (contributed by Josh Wood).

  • The bug report was that bzero() doesn’t exist on ms-dos(mingw) systems. And wasn’t catching it because it didn’t look for it. So I’ve added a test for bzero() or memset(), which I then don’t even use because I rewrote the part of the code that uses bzero() to use memset() instead.
  • The discrepancy was how I handled paragraphs that contained words like <foo; the reference implementation will either expand <foo to &lt;foo (no trailing >) or will treat everything between the leading < and the next > as an html tag. I was taking a leading <foo as the start of a tag even if there wasn’t a closing >, and, worse yet I was protecting the output by quoting special characters inside the tag instead of just dumping them out out as the reference implementation does.
  • And the documentation fixes fix the documentation for some of the prototypes in markdown.3

It’s pretty trivial, but it fixes some bugs and bizarre conditions. So it’s the New Code! that you want, if petty things like correctness are of interest to you.

Dec 01, 2009

YAFYE picture of the day


I was taking the midlifecrisismobile out for a short loop before picking the bears up from school, and I reached the three bridges (Johnson Creek, 99e, SPYellow Menace) just as a Yellow Menace stack train came around the curve in Milwaukie and started coasting down the ramp towards Brooklyn Yard.

It was very easy to get the camera out this time around, and so you’re stuck with YAFYE picture of the day.

I’ve seen motorcycles with skinnier tires than this


The midlifecrisismobile sits at Llewellyn School while the bears romp on the other side of the playground. I was warned about the Nifty Swifty tires earlier, so I pulled them off the bicycle and replaced them with the Col de la Vie spare tires (1.5" or so wide; they make the tires on the xtracycle seem downright spindly) to see if it’s the tires instead of the wheelsize that’s making the bicycle so slow; no matter what it is I can run without spare tires for a week or so until I’ve put enough miles on it to get some idea of how well it will run over long distances.

(Note, also, the two prototype bags on the thing; the prototype 2 handlebar bag, still bristling with pins, is being used as a camera/snack/cellphone/ipod bag, and I’ve got a prototype 0 seatbag that’s got the toolkit and a rolled up raincoat in it. The next iteration ofthe handlebar bag will look much like this prototype – at 250mm × 150mm × 200mm, it holds almost as much rando junk as I carry on the xtracycle – but the next iteration of the seatbag will look more like a Rivendell Nigel Smythe bag (except it will be packcloth instead of tweed, and I’m going to arrange it so it snuggles up tightly against the seatrails instead of dangling down to rock back and forth as I pedal down the line.))

Note that the fender line sucks dead bunnies through a straw, and that the handlebar bag extends far forward of the front wheel centerline. I probably need to buy a nice lugged cyclocross fork (they come in about 20mm longer than this fork) and rerake it into oblivion to push the centerline forward of that bag, but that has to wait until after I sell off a lot more stuff on ebay.


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir