This Space for Rent

Dec 31, 2010

Out on the line

The MLCM at the trailhead in Boring

The MLCM basks in the freezing shade at the east end of the Springwater Trail this afternoon.

Stratovolcano picture of the day

Mount Hood from the Springwater Trail just east of Bellrose

Mount Hood looms over the Springwater Trail on a bitterly cold (by Portland standards) Friday afternoon.

Not raining, but the cold made up for it

A pair of SD70s approach Flavel Street Station

Last year, I rolled up to 8400 miles by riding out to Flavel St. in the pouring rain. This year I left 8400 miles behind a little before the 25th, but only managed to ride another 270 miles before the sun set on this, the last day of 2010. My grand total for this year was 8270.99 gps miles, with what seems to be an invariant 400 miles of missed/turned off/power lost/etc miles thrown in (this year included running out of power on the Three Capes R300, the Sellwood to Hood R300 checkride, the return from the Birkie, the return from the Skyline-Vernonia permanent, at least a dozen short 10-20 mile loops where the GPS had gotten unplugged the night before and surprised me by just not turning on, and the usual crop of missed miles where I stopped for one reason or another, turned off the GPS, but then forgot to turn it on until the average mph reading became so obviously wrong that I couldn’t help notice.)

Dec 30, 2010

Project of the week, now with accessories

huge rando bag prototype

There’s going to be a not-ridiculously-remote R200 this Saturday, and I was thinking that it might be a nice little loop through the countryside if the weather wasn’t too horrible. So I was in the throes of putting together what I’d need to ride if I’m able to drag myself out of bed and down to the closest trolley station at 5effing30 Saturday morning when I realized that my nice new front rack was missing something fairly important if I wanted to actually carry things on that brevet.


I’m not altogether certain that I’m weatherproof enough to sally out in -5°C weather and wander up and down the Willamette valley on a day when the high is supposed to be +5°C, but I’m certainly not weatherproof enough to do it without cargo capacity for additional pairs of socks, gloves, food, and chemical hand/feetwarmers. Lets see if I can successfully correct this deficiency by tomorrow afternoon.

(along with correcting the missing 70 miles I need to push myself over 8700 miles for the year. *twitch*)

Dec 28, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Silas at Russell Street BBQ

Julie reads a Percy Jackson book to Silas while we wait for our dinner to arrive at Russell St. BBQ tonight.

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Project of the week, now 95% assembled

95% finished front rack

I went up to the hardware store this afternoon to get a few last pieces for the rack (4 p-clamps, metric #4 bolts, and metric #4 nuts) but managed to come away with 3 #4 nuts and 1 #5 nut.


And the hardware store had closed by the time I realized this mistake.

So here it sits, fully assembled but not yet ready to be dragged out onto the line :-(

I’m using p-clamps right now because I want to be able to adjust the position of the struts. p-clamps aren’t the greatest solution to ever come down the pike, because (at least the ones I bought, which are sized for 1" tubes) they don’t fit around the oval blades of my fork as tightly as I’d like, and this means that they move back and forth when the rack deck is loaded. The longer term solution here will be to either get a different fork with mounting points for front racks (either a (custom?) low-trail fork or something like a touring fork) or to borrow a larger torch and braze a pair of nuts onto my existing fork (and this has the advantage that I could also braze wire guides to the drive-side blade while I was doing it.) The ultimate plan is to actually braze the struts onto the rack and have a completely rigid 3-point mount to the fork.

Some of the brazes are not exactly what I’d call professional (and by “some”, I mean “all”) but, despite some of them being laughably incompetent (two of them only had the brass flow to about ¾ths of the joint, and all of them had huge globs of extra brass that I had to file off) only one of them was actually bad enough to break when I was manhandling the rack during cleanup (so I scraped the flux off, went back outside, and rebrazed it properly) and my scheme of wrapping the frame around the back of the brake has the disadvantage that it makes it really hard to thread the brake bolt into the mounting hole. And it sits really low even compared to my design of having it sit really low; If I raise the fender as high as it will go under the fork, I end up with maybe 1/16th inch clearance between it and any load that might be sitting on the rack.

The weather has been pretty horrible these last couple of days (thus my working on the rack instead of going out on the line) but perhaps it will moderate in the next day or so and let me ride the mlcm up to Sandy for a donut test run?


Dec 27, 2010

Project of the week

Test fitting it onto the bicycle

After considerable delay (not helped by having net access and being able to readily see many cases where brazing and/or welding went horribly wrong) I finally sat down this afternoon, fired up my econo-torch, and started gluing a new front rack together for the mlcm (the Nitto F-15 I was using didn’t fit when I put mustache bars onto the thing, and by the time I’d replaced the mustache bars with gary bars I’d already test-fitted the porteur rack, found it to be too large, then turned around and bent some more tubing into shape for this one. And it would be a shame to not even try to finish the project once I started it – the porteur rack can go onto a different bicycle after I finish this one.)

The brazing isn’t the most sophisticated job ever done (I sat on the front porch, clamped the rack into a vice, then melted some of the bronze downhill into some of the joints while melting the rest uphill into the other joints, and while I was doing this the oxygen levels were gently increasing and making the flame hotter. So two of the melts had an excess of bronze, while the others were as tight as my wallet is after several months of unemployment) but it’s a lot easier than sewing up bike luggage is. I can fit most of my handlebar bags onto this thing, but there’s room enough to sew a new one that’s a little bit deeper front-to-back, so that’s what I’ll do.

This rack needs a crosspiece and a backstop to keep things from sliding back into the brake, plus (of course!) a pair of legs. And I’m going to have to put light hangers onto the legs so I can move my front light up and forward a bit.

Weaknesses to this design are that it sits very low on the fork, so I don’t think I could put anything bigger than a 700c×28mm tire under it (though 650b×42mm would be perfectly happy) and the back corners of the rack platform foul against the downtube shifter and the shifter mount on the other side if the front wheel is turned more than about 90°. I don’t think either of these are likely to be fatal, and they do have the advantages of

  1. getting the load about as low and as far back as you can get without going to front panniers,
  2. reducing the number of joints on the platform perimeter, and
  3. having a good solid connection to the brake bolt.

And I’ve also done the all-so-important donut box check, and I can hold a 18×11 donut box on the rack without excessive overhang.

Dec 26, 2010

Cake wreck

Two boxing day fruitcakes

I made a couple of italian fruitcakes this evening, but, alas, one of them was cooked in an old nonstick pan that had silently passed its expiration date. That one first burned during the cooking, and then to add insult to injury it stuck to the pan and peeled the nonstick layer off when I extracted it after cooling.

So that one is going to have the rind cut off and then be eaten at home while the other one gets cut into pieces and given away.

Dec 25, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Silas, with cardboard sword & shield

Silas demonstrates that the boxes presents come in can be every bit as useful as the presents themselves.

Stratovolcano picture of the day

Mount Hood (digital zoom)

The CBC goes to maximum digital zoom to collect this picture of a smoke or cloud plume blowing off the top of Mount Hood this afternoon.

Still life with yule tree, bicycle, and cat

The godless secular solstice holiday tree

A quick unscientific comparison between the Trek and the MLCM

Two days ago, we celebrated Russell’s 11th birthday (the public birthday party, which happened two days after his actual birthday) by inviting a bunch of his friends over to play computer games all afternoon. This meant that we had to clean up before they came over, so by the time they went home we were tired enough so that doing anything for dinner was too much.

So we ordered takeaway from Laughing Planet, and I rode the Trek up the hill to pick up the food. And then when I got back home, the best realized that the people at Laughing Planet had left part of our dinner out, so I had to turn around and ride up the hill again to get it. This time I took the MLCM, and thus got a quick unscientific comparison between the two bicycles.

The Trek took me 30.5 minutes to do a 5.7 mile loop. The MLCM, on the other hand, took me 24.5 minutes.

It’s not too far off from my relative speeds on various brevets, but it’s a nice back-to-back comparison.

Dec 24, 2010

Holiday decorations, Portland-style

Festive bicycle

Yes, this city is a little bit bicycle-crazy.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite sneaks up on the (still incomplete) Santa snack

We’ve developed a routine for the evening of the 24th of December; every year, just before heading upstairs and coaxing the bears into falling asleep, we prepare most of a snack for Santa Claus; we leave the cookies out, and a glass for the milk, but we do not actually add the milk to it for fear that the cats will try to stick their snoots into it and spill it all over the table.

The cats are not very smart, but they’re smart enough to not pay attention to an empty glass.

Dust Mites are not quite that smart; when I came down after putting the bears to bed I heard a mysterious rustle and found you-know-who wedged into the milk glass, trying to find any trace of something to drink.

Dec 21, 2010

Life near the river

South Waterfront at night

South Waterfront is starting to look like a populated part of the city when I ride by it late at night.

Dec 19, 2010

It looks so white and peaceful, but that’s just an artifact of the camera

White on white (there's a volcano in there if you look closely)

It was actually sunny this morning, so I decided it would be a good time to ride up to Sandy to see if there was any snow on the ground there (there wasn’t, but I did see pieces of snow on the ground on westbound highway 26, presumably from cars that had started their day up on the mountain.) But what there was, in unpleasantly high velocities, was wind coming out of the gorge/down the mountain, which meant that it took me approximately forever to ride the 25.5 miles from my door to where I turned around at Joe’s Donuts (which I did not stop at this time, alas; the rain was projected to come in at 4pm, and after battling headwinds for two hours and change (with only about 20 minutes of no headwind on the upper reaches of the Springwater Trail, Telford Road, and OR212 in downtown Boring) I didn’t have enough time for a stop :-( ) and had whited out Mount Hood in much the same way a 75 trillion gallon bucket of wite-out would have done.

There’s a mountain in there, really. Just look carefully and you might see it.

Dec 17, 2010

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Holiday treats

One can never have too many clementines during a dark & rainy December.

It’s not the same…

MLCM @ Llewellyn school

The mlcm just doesn’t look quite right without a front bag.

Dec 15, 2010

An easily recognisable bicycle

Coffeeshop Quickbeam

I was on my way up to Noah’s Bagels this afternoon, and when I crossed Woodstock I couldn’t help but notice this shiny! traction orange bicycle sitting locked up at the First Cup Coffeehouse. As I sailed by, the little sidebadges on the seat tube waved at me and said “hiya! I’m a Rivendell and you’re not!” so I had to pull a U-turn and loop back to verify it.

A 58 or 60cm(?) Quickbeam fully decked out in Rivendell fashion, up to and including the obligatory Wald basket zip-tied to a Nitto front rack, and looking like it had just come through the bicycle wash.

It’s very pretty. Too bad (or good, considering that I’ve been wanting to get a slightly larger bobtail frame than my 56cm Trek for my xtracycle) Riv doesn’t sell Quickbeams anymore :-(

trolley construction


Water Ave & SE 4th Ave have been closed off for much of the day for the past week or so, and, despite a clutter of cranes, I haven’t gotten close enough to confirm any activity. But today they were open, so when I was returning from getting bagels I got to see that the new trolley bridge over Water/4th, the Portland Traction interchange yard, the ex-SP mainline, and Division St has most ofthe beams up and ready to have a deck cast.

There’s a lot of vertical clearance over the ex-SP mainline; if ODOT ever wanted to electrify the passenger routes from Portland to Eugene, they certainly won’t have to worry about replacing this bridge.

railroad picture of the day

EPT100 panorama

EPT #100 sits out on the McBrod Ave lead at about 3pm this afternoon. It’s probably still sitting out there now, because when I went by the switch into the shop yard was dismantled in place, with a pile of new rail and a mini-backhoe sitting around waiting to do some repair work.

Dec 14, 2010

I suspect that looking at this photo will increase your cholesterol levels

File under "Cardiovascular doom, Feast of"

Bread & butter pudding from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, slightly modified by cutting the bread into very thin slices, soaking them in a pool of melted butter, then layering them with blackcurrants before pouring the custard over the top.

I am resisting the temptation to eat the whole thing right now until the best and the bears return from the library.

Life on the river

The tugboat Dana Cruz

Our tea coffers were running dry, so I went up to Kobos Coffee this morning to pick up another pound of Russian Caravan tea. I was riding along the river, and noticed that the “we’re opening the bridge now!‘ bells were going on the Burnside Bridge, so I stopped and looked around to see if anything interesting was waiting for the bridge to open.

This tugboat was it; a fairly short tugboat, but with a very tall mast. Too bad I wasn’t running a little bit faster, because if I was I could have seen both spans of the Steel Bridge being lifted to let this tall ship through.

Dec 13, 2010

New (beta) Code!

Discount has, once again, another beta release with the publication of version 2.0.4beta2, which keeps the markdown-extra style definition list support, but corrects pair of edge cases dealing with enumerated lists and blockquoted paragraphs.

First of all, it turns out that paragraphs inside a list item and a blockquote will absorb adjacent code blocks, so code like

  * This is a list item
            with code, eh?

will generate

<li>This is a list item
  with code, eh?</li>

instead of the traditional discount behavior of splitting off with code, eh? and plopping it into a <code> block.


Well, I want to maintain as close compatability to the standard™ as I can, so this means that I need to put in yet another horrible standards kludge to make nested text work differently from top-level text.

The other modification is possibly my misreading of the spec; When I was setting the indent for list items, I took the space indent, the width of the tag, then a space, even if that was > 4. This is not how it works according to the rest of the world, so I’ve had to add a boundary check to trim list item indent down to 4 spaces if it’s larger. This has the advantage that I can continue to ^D/^T (or tab if you’re one of those people who sets tabstops at 4 space headways) to line up indented code blocks correctly, and it doesn’t seem to break anything else (it actually fixed some old markdown that I’d written early on in the markdown era on tsfr.)

This is still beta code, so there is the traditional woeful lack of test cases and documentation, but why not live dangerously? After all, it’s only monday, so you’ve got all week to enjoy the spectacle of some nice New Code! while you’re waiting for that delayed meeting to finally start.

Dec 12, 2010

Domestic vermin picture of the day

Mavis & mlcm

Mavis guards the mlcm

So I lied

SP 4449 & EPT 100

The previous photo was not my last Holiday Express photo of the year.

Last Holiday Express picture of the year?

The 4449 sails by (backwards)

The 4449 shoves the ~3pm Holiday Express northwards towards the end of the Springwater Trail.

Dec 11, 2010

Another day, another encounter with a steam locomotive

If you’re not a trainspotter, it’s like watching the paint drying channel :-)

1 comment

Dec 10, 2010

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & Hat

Dust Mite and hat.

Flood season

Johnson Creek runneth over

It rained like the dickens yesterday, and, not surprisingly, all of that water did not fit neatly into any of the local streams and rivers. Johnson Creek is still overflowing its banks today, and it’s supposed to rain like the dickens again tomorrow.

Perhaps if I take the mlcm out tomorrow I’ll pick a somewhat more elevated route.

Bridge & anti-bridge

The Ross Island Bridge, reflected

The Willamette wasn’t completely still, but it was close enough for my tastes.

Dec 09, 2010

Now that’s a peculiar-looking christmas bonus

the 2010 ikea christmas bonus

It’s a christmas bonus for Ikea employees, so it’s probably uncharitable to comment on it, but that’s the weirdest-looking (non-tallbike) frame I think I’ve ever seen. It’s like the younger brother of a Trek Y-Foil, if said younger brother had been used as an office chair by a race of giants, then patched up by a surgical team that thought it was a full-suspension mountain bike.

And it looks like it’s got an Ashtabula crankset.

I wonder if any of the other components are any good? It loses some utility (at least for the Portland area) by not coming with fenders, and the brake cable routing makes my teeth ache, but if the wheels aren’t steel and the derailers work it could be a useful bike, either as is or modified to suit with a better saddle, mustache and/or drop handlebars, and a nice front rack. True, it wouldn’t have the classically odd looks of the Murray Baja Experience!, but I’d think it might make a good commute/parcels bike if the frame didn’t messily self-destruct the first time you rode down a potholed road.

New Code!

Discount has been pushed up to version 2.0.4beta1 with the addition of a yucky new compatability feature; PHP markdown extra-style definition list support, so (after you’ve configured the thing properly) text like

definition lists
: are pretty horrible no matter how you do them

will translate to

definition lists : are pretty horrible no matter how you do them

just like the traditional

=definition lists=
    are pretty horrible no matter how you do them


The new definition list style is defined when you run with the following settings:

--with-dl=both : enable both traditional and markdown extra-style definition lists --with-dl=discount : enable traditional definition lists only --with-dl=extra : enable markdown extra-style definition lists only.

(no, you can’t disable definition lists through the --with-dl flag, sorry.)

What this release doesn’t have is

  • documentation
  • test cases
  • any sort of exhaustive check for edge cases (but they may be covered because I use the same blocking engine for markdown extra syntax and my traditional syntax, and make test hasn’t fallen over dead in any of the existing edge cases.)

But it’s been tested by a couple of applications and it doesn’t create obviously wrong output in either of them, so it’s the New Code! of your dreams (if your dreams involve defusing small nuclear devices) and you should grab it and test it out now, then report the crashes and bizarre edge cases to me either as a comment or by mail.

Dec 07, 2010

Trolley picture of the day

OPR 802 sits dead in the shop yard

The remains of EPT # 802 are still sitting forlornly in the shop yard, only moving when it has to be shoved from one track to another so an active engine can be moved around.

Dec 05, 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

The Godless Secular Holiday Tree is all lit up and ready to go

Just in time for Saturnalia!

It was right there, so I had to film it

The City of Portland’s ex-SP GS-4 pulls a short train up the ramp from Oaks Park to Spokane St.

Dec 04, 2010

Delaying my shopping trip

4449 approaches Oaks Park Station

When I went down to the Big Big Big Store this afternon, I reached Oaks Park just as the 4449 reached the opposite end of the long fill across Oaks Bottom. So I had to stop and take a few pictures as it crept, shivering, up to Oaks Park Station.

Dec 03, 2010

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Stockings hung by the chimney with mites

Dust Mite takes advantage of the holiday spirit.

It’s that time of year again


They’re running the Holiday Express this weekend and next.

Railroad picture of the day

W&P 2314 switching

I rode up to St. Johns this afternoon, and since I did it early enough in the day that there was actually sunlight I got to see a whole bunch of railroad activity that I don’t usually get a chance to see, including this P&W GP39 switching a long cut of tank cars.

Dec 02, 2010

New Code!

Postoffice, after a period of testing to make certain that the revamped milter interface library was stable, has been pushed up to version 1.5.4 not so much because of the stability of the new library but because I found a security defect in the SMTP AUTH code where if a malicious client passed in a null user name that null would be passed down to the system library function getpwnam(), where a null username results in undefined behavior. And in the case of my mail server, “undefined behavior” == segmentation violations deep within the bowels of the bits of libc that getpwnam() calls.


Well, that defect is fixed, and now that I’ve been running the milter library for a while without it exploding on me (or the other site(s) that are running it) this means it’s time to shovel out some New Code! for all to marvel at.

If you don’t like core dumps, it might be a good idea to install this release.

Ho ho ho!

bewreathed xtracycle

Well, at least the trek is all ready for Saturnalia.

Dec 01, 2010

Cute baby picture of the day

Silas Peeks

Silas peeks over the edge of the table at me.

Tweaking the mlcm

Twine, red cloth tape, shellac

The positions the mustache bars didn’t give me – the flats and the ramps – turned out to be more important than I thought, and after 150 miles of short loops (12-30 miles) with my hands aching after every one I’d had enough. It’s possible that raising the bars would make the mustache bars work better (and that’s certainly what I’m going to try when I build up the gaspipe frame (into what, I’m not sure. A fixed-gear hub would be a hilarious experiment if I didn’t end up breaking half the bones in my body the first time I forgot the rule of you move == you pedal)) but I’ve got the steer tube on my fork cut down to just the right height for rando bars, so I’d need to buy a less tilted stem if I wanted to put the bars higher.

So I waved goodbye to the mustache bars and said hello to a pair of Origin-8 Gary bars, which I installed this afternoon. They’re nice and wide (so I don’t give up the tremendous leverage that the mustache bars have when I’m in the drops) but they’ve got flats and ramps that are actually sized to fit my hands.

Cloth handlebar tape over inner tube wrap

I decided to experiment a bit with the handlebar tape; I bought a couple of rolls of Velox cloth tape and wrapped the bars with it, but I first took an old inner tube, cut it into strips, and prewrapped the bars with them. And then I tied the velox tape down with twine and shellacked it into oblivion.

We’ll see how this one works.