This Space for Rent

Dec 31, 2011

The bicycling year in review (executive summary)

  • ~9500 miles ridden (and ~60 miles climbed,) including
  • 6 loops > 150 miles,
  • 16 loops > 100 miles, and
  • 13 loops > 60 miles.
  • 3-4 chains worn to destruction,
  • as well as one cassette, and
  • 1 tire.

The mlcm went from a 1×8 drivetrain to a 2×9, and it also grew a front rack and was converted from downtube shifters to brifters. The trek was also converted to brifters, and went briefly to 2×9 (using a pair of castoff 9-speed chains and the worn 9-speed cassette from the mlcm) and then went down to 2×8 (via a shiftmate) when the worn 9-speed drivetrain became unusably worn.

I tried out a pair of Challenge Parigi-Roubaix tires, which aren’t any faster than my traditional Nashbar tires, but which roll forever compared to them. Alas, the price I paid for this was lots of flats (3 of them in under 400 miles) so I’ve pulled them from the bicycle and stored them away for summertime.

Both bicycles got wired rear lights, so now I don’t need to mess around with battery lights at all when I’m riding at night (except that I do keep one battery light on the trek so I can have a flashy light as well as my regular steady taillight) and I mounted a dummy axle to the rear of the trek so I can haul other bicycles in an amazingly shimmy-inducing fashion.

The list of things that didn’t work is very small.

  1. The battery in the Garmin 205 I use as a cycle computer wore down to the point where it wouldn’t hold a charge longer than 10 hours, so I ripped it out and replaced it with an ebayed cellphone battery. Which gives me 13 hours :-(
  2. I put 175mm cranks onto the mlcm to see how they would work, but had to pull them off within 500 miles because my legs felt like they wanted to die if I did loops longer than > 30 miles (I did an R300+R200 in a three day period, and just didn’t want to even think of riding the bike after that. Ripping off the new cranks and moving the compact double crankrings to my old mystery low-tread Sugino crankset fixed that wagon.)
  3. The pedal thread in the NDS crank on that Sugino crankset stripped out, and I had to replace that crank with the one that used to be on the Trek before I xtracycled it.
  4. I found a few design problems with my prototype Big Rando Bag so I had to pull it from the bicycle for repairs in November (replaced by a bigger Porteur-Randonneur bag for the time being.)

Perhaps next year will work out as well as this year did. Maybe I’ll even find a way to get my yearly milage up over 10k miles?

Microsoft. Doing it right.

I get a small trickle of spam from various Microsoft subsidiaries, and, as I do for most of the big mail hosts (yahoo, google, etc) I bounce the spam back to their abuse desk with a tinned “this is spam from one of your machines, please deal with it.”

When I bounce spam back to google, I get a magnificent page of doublespeak that boils down to “if you don’t report it on our special webform, we don’t care about it”. When I bounce spam back to yahoo, I get, if I’m lucky, a magnificent page of doublespeam that boils down to “we’ve developed a fancy mime type for spam reports and we won’t even look at anything else!”, and if I’m not lucky (which is most of the time,) I get a tinned “this message didn’t come from yahoo” even though the very first Received: line on the spam that I bounce shows that it comes from a yahoo machine.

But when I bounce spam back to microsoft, this is what I get:

  • I have closed the accounts and that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).
  • I have closed the account that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct.
  • I have closed the account ( that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).
  • We have taken appropriate action on the account ( and that you reported in compliance with the Code of Conduct (COC).
  • I have closed the account that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).
  • I have closed the account ( that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).
  • I have closed the account ( that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).
  • I have closed the account that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (COC).
  • I have closed the account { } that you reported, in accordance with our Code of Conduct (CoC).

Now that’s the sort of response to spam I like to see. Not the outright lying that yahoo does, not the sort of snooty “we’re the phone company. We don’t care” response that google barfs out at me, but a simple presentation of a spammer’s now-dead maildrop.

Microsoft, you’re doing it right.

Dec 30, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & pizza

Pizza for me? Yum!

Dec 28, 2011


Ancient klunky steel hub

The hub that used to be on the old front wheel of the Murray Baja Experience! – I did some more basement cleaning this afternoon, and when I was dismantling the wheel for recycling I put this aside so I could clean it up and save it for, um, something or another.

Maybe I’ll build up another wheel.

Circumnavigating Highland Butte

Butte Road heads east towards the summit of Highland Butte

A bunch of people are planning on riding my Volcano(e)s vs. Farmlands loop on January 2nd, so I needed to go out and verify that the two info controls were still good. The first info control is in Oregon City, which is a “if you have 80 minutes you can hop on down and check it out”, but the second one is up by Highland Butte, which is a somewhat more substantial distance. And the second one really needed to be checked, because when I did the preride with Ed we forgot to actually stop at the designated control point and set up a control. (whoops!)

I was planning on riding up there the 26th, but I came down with a bit of a cold on the 25th. However, it didn’t appear to be a fairly serious cold, and I found myself feeling more-or-less human on the 27th, so I decided that I might as well leap at the chance to do the loop before the rain came in (a storm system is rolling through the area this week, and it’s scheduled to dump a metric bucketload of rain in the highlands before it rolls on out this weekend.)

So, at the crack of noon I loaded up the mlcm and headed south into a cloudy, but dry, winter afternoon. I made pretty good speed down to Oregon City (it’s a ridiculously familiar route by now, and I don’t even particularly notice the one steep ramp just south of downtown Milwaukie unless something goes wrong with the bike) except that I discovered that something in the drivetrain is worn and when I switch to my alpine (34t) ring I can’t use any of the gears higher than the 32t dump gear for climbing, because if I’m in one of those other gears and I attempt to crank up a hill the chain skips horribly. So I had to either chug upgrade in the 50×28 gear or drop alllll the way down to 34×32 and creep, sluglike, up any substantial ramps.

So as a result of this it meant that after a (moderately) speedy run down to Oregon City, a stop to note a new info question there, and another moderately speedy run up to Fischers Mill, my average speed immediately dropped like a stone when I reached the first ramp on Ridge Road.

But at least it’s a scenic way to creep up the side of a volcano. Most of Ridge Road is fully equipped with hobby farms, and most of them come with a llama or ten. And I know about the ramps these days, so they aren’t the sort of unwelcome surprise that they were the first couple of times I ran the trek up the hill. And once you’ve climbed past the lower plateau, the Impassable Wilderness that separates the lower and upper plateaus, then past the two Highland Roads, you’re right up there by the long-extinct vents of this massive shield volcano.

So I stopped, took a few pictures, set a few info questions, and continued on my way. But I wasn’t going to get this far and then turn back, oh, no, because if I continued to the end of Ridge Road I run into Butte Road, which goes either west (down to Beavercreek Road) or east, which takes you up right alongside the tree-covered butte that contains the multitude of vents that grew this volcano. (There’s a jeep road that goes up to the top of one of the vents, but I decided that I wouldn’t try it because

  1. it’s very steep,
  2. it’s been trenched to stop people from driving up it,
  3. it’s dirt, which becomes mud when it rains,
  4. and it was raining (there was no rain for most of the way up the volcano, but it started spitting rain when I crossed Upper Highland, and this turned into real rain just as I turned east on Butte Road)

So I just went east, climbing all the way, on Butte Road, which dumped me onto Beeson Road which continued to climb up to ~1400 feet before plateauing, then dumping me onto Upper Highland Road for the descent back down off the volcano.

One of the loops I did this year – the Piled Higher & Steeper variant of my Hills to the Yeah! 200k permanent – goes down Upper Highland Road to Highland, then down Lower Highland to Fellows Road, which drops you down into Viola before climbing back up to Springwater Road and onward to more climbing up into the Sandy River basin. I was certainly not going to do any of the climbing in this loop (it was 15:30 by the time I reached Fellows Road) but there’s a little country road called Mattoon Road that’s a water-level connection between Viola and Fischer’s Mill, so if I dropped down the (terrifyingly steep and twisty) Fellow Road ramp I would be rewarded by a nice level run down into Fischers Mill and then a fairly moderate climb up to Springwater Road.

And I wasn’t going to let a bit of rain get in the way, as long as it wasn’t enough rain to compromise my brakes. This is important, because Fellows Road follows a ridgeline away from Highland Butte, dropping steeply but evenly most of the way, until it reaches the end of that ridge and becomes a terrifically steep and twisty rollercoaster down to the bottom of the valley that Clear Creek runs in (you fall off the end of the ridge down a twisty, but managably steep, ramp, and just as you start getting used to it it straightens out, becomes steeper, then rolls into a ridiculously steep and tight hairpin, which dumps you into a straight steep ramp that has a sharp left turn at the bottom.)

And then if you don’t die it’s a nice level ride back into Portland. I didn’t die, so I shot back towards home, arriving at the OR224 mess in Oregon City at about the same time that night came crashing in, and then zipping back home in the dark along River Road, which comes with a nice wide bike lane that is almost never used as a parking lane.

And now I’ve got the info questions, so all I need to do is fill in some brevet cards and take them (and the cuesheets) down to the copyshop to make enough for all of the riders on the 2nd. And someday it will stop raining so I can do this loop again.

Dec 26, 2011

I’ll get right back to you on that

I contacted you by this means due to a financial transaction that involves a deposit of $17.3 in my bank in China. As a senior manager and the account officer of the deceased depositor, Detailed information about this transaction will be sent to you once I receive your response. Best regards, Jan Yiun Email:<>

Dec 24, 2011

Before the deluge

Before the deluge

A somewhat less crowded tree, but it’s all nicely and tidily decorated before the 25th thunders down the pike to mess everything up.

Dec 23, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Trimming the tree

Time to decorate the tree!

Dec 21, 2011


Low-light android test photo

My mother has a little android cellphone that she’s not using because she finds the battery life to be terrible, so she’s loaned it to me to test it out.

On the plus side, it takes better low-light pictures than the Samsung I’ve got, but that’s about all that I can say in favor of it. On the negative side it’s got a traditional Unix/Linux style GUI, which you will not be surprised to know that I think is terrible, and, to make matters worse, it’s close to impossible to do file transfer across wireless (it has bluetooth, but I can’t browse it from other machines without, apparently, writing or purchasing a bluetooth server app, and it’s got wifi, but no ftp or ssh server.) I was trying to figure out about how to do bluetooth browsing and checked online, only to find literally hundreds of links to various fora where people were saying “heeeeeellllp! I can’t browse/download/upload from this thing!” with no useful advise in reply except the occasional “well, you should purchase \ and that might fix your problem”

One recommendation for file transfer is that you pull the SD card out of the machine and physically carry that over to the host computer. Oy. Now that’s a simple practical solution that I would have applauded back in the days when I was running SLS on a 0.99 kernel, but now that the Linux world has accreted, Katamari Damacy-style, layers and layers of Open Source®©™ cruft I expect to see a user interface that’s at least as good as the clunky horrible one that comes on my Samsung phone (In my dreams I’d expect to see one like MacOS, but consistant user interfaces don’t gather nearly as much whuffie as redesigning entire subsystems from scratch because the previous one had two pixels out of place.)

Maybe I could root the thing and replace the gui with a curses-based one that emulates UCSD Pascal. At least then it would be more usable, instead of the current click, swipe, swipe, click that’s needed to get to the telephone screen or photo program (or the click, swipe, swipe, click, click, swipe, click×N, click, and thumbtwiddling that’s needed to get photos off the stupid thing.)

Dec 17, 2011

airplane picture of the day

A commuter plane approaches PDX

A commuter flight zips overhead just before dusk comes crashing down upon us.

A lovely place to ride to, if you can ignore the gale-force winds

The Vista House under sunny skies

It was very windy up at Crown Point this afternoon.

Dec 16, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite considers doing some wheelbuilding

Dust Mite does some research.

Dec 13, 2011

Take a closer look (2)

Tweaking an 8-speed cassette to fit onto a 7-speed freehub

I had a 7-speed hub and an old Alex rim lying around, so I built a wheel this morning. When I had the wheel finished, trued, and dished (I use the old gaspipe frame to center the wheel,) I was sitting there looking at the short freehub when I realized that it would be simple to pull an old Sram PG-850 apart (I have one of them sitting around as a leftover from when I converted the mlcm to a 9-speed, and I already knew (from one of them disassembling during a brevet) that they were easy to take apart) and see how well it would fit.

To make a short story short, if I take an 11-32 cassette and pull off the 32t cog + spacer, it’s almost exactly the same width as a 7-speed cassette. It’s a little narrower, but the 7-speed freehub I’ve got (a Shimano R050) is narrow enough so I can tighten up the lockring without it bottoming out on the hub. I lose the little bolt that fastens the cassette together, but I’ve a hundred miles or so of brevet that tell me that it works even if the lockring is loose enough so that the cassette jingles like Santa’s sleigh.

Dec 12, 2011

Take a closer look

There are 21 patches on this inner tube

I’ve gotten good value for money out of this inner tube: 21 patches and counting.

Dec 10, 2011

The other steam locomotive

The 4449 shoves the Holiday Express towards downtown

All I had was my cellphone, so this picture of the 4449 is not the finest thing to ever come down the tracks.

Dec 09, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite inspects the forks

Dust Mite takes inventory of my spare fork collection.

Dec 04, 2011

Railroad picture of the day

The 700 at (slow) speed

SP&S 700 runs up the ramp from Oaks Park to Spokane St.

Dec 03, 2011

Picture of the day

Under the east approaches of the St John's bridge

Looking west under the St. Johns Bridge at dusk, just before I looped up to the top so I could ride across it and back towards home.

Dec 02, 2011

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Vice-Grip(tm) and Dust Mite

Dust Mite sneaks up on an unsuspecting Vice-Grip™.

It’s that time of year again

The 700, in holiday train colo(u)rs

It’s Holiday Express time again!