Thursday, November 27, 2003
I am thankful for spending the holiday with friends and family who support my bicycle commuting, vegetarianism, and other "alternative" choices, though they may not always understand it, yet.
I am thankful for everyone who reads my blog posts, for the support it provides, and for the encouragement it gives me to keep riding and posting.
And finally, I am thankful I don't have to work the day after Thanksgiving. No bike ride today, but I'll be sure to take a nice long walk after dinner. Have a great holiday, and I'll be back next week. Peace.
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway ~
Thanksgiving comes again!
- Old Rhyme Author Unknown
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Anyway, I was on alert because all the traffic today seemed to be in a rush to work and then rush to celebrate the holiday spirit, then they can rush right through Thanksgiving dinner, and rush right back to work in the endless cycle of hurry. I had two honkers today for no reason whatsoever, the worst being this one lady who was impatient extraordinaire. She squeezed between two cars in the left lane to pass me, layed on the horn for a couple seconds as she passed (me in the right hand-lane and her in the left-hand lane the whole time, no obstruction going on), then whipped into the right lane in front of me when she finished passing so she could zoom ahead of the cars in the left lane. I waved and smiled on the outside.
The craziness was all over though. Cars on the turnpike were doing right lane passing then whipping violently back over into the left lane to let those folks KNOW that they had been passed, people squeezing between vehicles while going 70-80 just because they couldn't wait a mere 30 seconds or so for a safe pass. I think the speed limit should be reduced to 60 everywhere, and anyone doing 80 or 90 is just unsafe period.
Commute Song of the Day: Fallin' by Alicia Keys
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The differences at night are simply double touch rear red blinkie to set it to flash, and get out headlight, attach to handlebars quick release, and turn on. I used to forget some of these things in the process, but now after doing them so routinely I pretty much get it right every time. I say that now but I probably forgot something in my list here.
As another info bite, I did a car count today on the way home, except for Riverfront Park cause I didn't think about it till after that. But anyhow, I ended up at +33 cars, meaning I netted a total of 33 cars I passed on my way home, so I think my bike ride is defnitely quicker wouldn't you say? As a max I was up to somewhere around 60 cars at one point, but then going down Bridge St. after the I-83 interchange the traffic jams die out some and I lose some of my lead, but I still ended pretty well.
Commute Song of the Day: One Horse Town by The Thrills
Monday, November 24, 2003
I guess time will tell, but I think if I ever get another light, it would be small and helmet mounted, maybe I'll just keep using one of my headlamps for this purpose now.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Well, I think I am going to develop some little hand-outs, like 1/4 letter-size sheets, for these type purposes. Keep them in a little bag on my bike, I got one from my brother when he gave me the bike. The bag is longish and hangs underneath the main top bar of the frame. Anyway, I want to put my blog address, and a little explanation of bicycle commuting (benefits, etc), and maybe quote the state law code about bikes having the road rights too. It would be great to have when someone is interested in learning more like today, or for when I do catch up to that person who seems ignorant but may just need a kind word or two along their day.
Song of the Day: 100 Years by Five for Fighting
Thursday, November 20, 2003
I don't own an mp3 player, or a portable CD, though I do have an old cassette headphones set, but I haven't used it much recently. I used to when working out, or when laying in bed at night when I shared a dorm room for example years ago. But I won't wear it while commuting on my bike cause I couldn't imagine not being able to have all of my hearing available to me when out on the roads with cars and even on the walks with people. One thing I miss from my commutes is the radio, the tunes, the news, etc, but I could argue that the peace and the semblance of outside noises around me makes up for it (of course I often turned the radio off by choice). But you know what, with all the cars around me I can't hear much besides engines and exhaust, except for when I get to City Island and Riverfront Park. So what do I do? I have to entertain myself!
I love to belt out tunes, sometimes at the top of my lungs if in the mood, but I've always had a tune in my head and being on my bike commute it's no different. I get alot of motivation by listening to internet radio during the day when in my office, or from CD's I take in. My favorite station here is WXPN 88.1 FM in Harrisburg (good to have after losing WYEP when I moved from the Pittsburgh area, though you can catch them on-line too now), great singer/songwriters and lots of eclectic artists and a great mix with rock, bluegrass, americana, classic rock and more. You gotta check it out if you haven't (and its public supported to bat, from Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia).
So what do you listen to on your bike if anything, or what do you sing? Think I can make any extra money as a singing bicycle telegram boy? I'll be including a song of the day with my posts from now on if anything stands out, from what was in my head during the ride, and you can learn about Mi Tunes if you don't have the latest i-tunes.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
My four clothing issues right now are:
(1) gloves with some water-resistance, tighter fitting around the wrist, and lighter colored or with reflective cloth. My black fleece ones are none of the above (except for slightly water-resistant.
(2) a helmet cover to wear in cold rainy conditions. I have a balaclava that I will wear underneath when the temps warrant, but I'd like something plasticy, nylony to slap over my helmet to stop water from getting in when it is a heavy rain.
(3) Goggles, or some sort of safety glasses would be nice to prevent water from flying into my eyes during heavy windy rains too. I have some of these around I just have to find them. I think my old lab goggles are in my parent's basement; and I have an extra pair of safety glasses in one of my tool boxes.
(4) Waterproof shoe covers. Just because the wet cycles of soaking and drying my shoes are probably not the best for them.
As for all these items, I don't really mind riding in the rain or getting wet, so they are not essentials. It's only 4.5 - 5 miles depending, and only takes 17-20 minutes, so I can handle that. In fact it even reminds me of the great feeling from great trips of backpacking and camping in the rain.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
We often sit out front if there are no customers and I watch the long lines of traffic queing by the store, and picture myself, when ready to leave, simply cutting a few alleys and getting right to the intersection where I can get right in the flow. Today was the first day I can say it was really dark biking home. This was especially so since it was overcast unlike the rear-end days of last week; and because I left a little later from work. No worries though, I felt confident in my visibility and skills. My EL-300 Cateye that I ordered from E-bay hasn't arrived yet, so I am using a headlamp from my backpacking gear, but it works fine to be seen. And I have no problems seeing the road in the lesser light, as it is city and suburbs that are lit up well, and the ambient light from car headlights provides lots of illumination too.
I can't believe that I am still eating green tomatoes from my garden in mid-november, it's great. These are the last though, had a sandwich for lunch today, and will do the same tomorrow. Even though tomatoes produced by far the most bounty from our garden, it definitely wasn't too much. And if I would have had time and space I could have frozen more or canned some. A good investment of garden space for sure.
One determinate variety I planted two of is a little iffy in my book though. These varieties fruit all at one time and then the plant does not produce further. It wasn't worth it for taste, as they seemed relatively the same in that regard as the other varieties. Is there some other advantage to planting determinate vs. indeterminate that I don't know of, other than maybe being able to do two different crops in that space instead of only tomatoes?
Monday, November 17, 2003
I was crossing the Market St Bridge on my normal route, and I was on the sidewalk at this point, preparing to enter back onto the road to cross the intersection. As the crosswalk signal here seems to be inoperable as I have yet to see it change to walk during my times through this spot, and there is no push button to engage it, I simply proceed with the signal light for the traffic in the direction I am approaching from. So far so good. Well as I was crossing the light changes to yellow, still no big deal, as I will complete my crossing before the side traffic gets its green and moves forward.
However, one big ol' SUV decides to move up into the crosswalk area so they can prepare to make a right turn. People often do this here because the right turn lane can proceed on red in this way, but it helps to be forward some to better see the crossing traffic and to determine if it is safe on red to make the right. Not that this guy isn't sitting up high enough in this oversized vehicle, but hey, maybe his eyesight is as foggy as his head.
So he decides that he owns the crosswalk area and that he doesn't have to stop back at the white traffic control line (and I am guilty of doing this sometimes as anyone else is when driving), and since I am in "his" space gives me a big honk and a flash of his hand (this reaction is what was unnecessary!). Of course I saw him the whole way because I am aware of the traffic patterns here, but he certainly wasn't looking for me. And yes, I was visible, front and rear lights, tireflares, multiple reflectors and numerous strips of reflective tape and stickers.
Whole point being here, besides the hot-headed horn blower, is that vehicle drivers still have a long way to go in thier recognition of bicycles and pedestrians and thier legitimate rights to space. And what if I were a little old lady pedestrian crossing, not lit up for all to see, and couldn't react or move past as quickly as I could on a bike, well let's not think of it shall we?
Saturday, November 15, 2003
To put this in perspective, Ken Kifer's site has a breakdown of yearly auto costs via the American Automobile Manufactures Association, Inc. Total fixed costs (depreciation, insurance, license/registration, other charges) in 1997 was approximately $4,228; and variable costs (gas, oil, maintenance, tires) was about 10.8 cents per mile. So you can figure this out for what it may mean to you. Of course this would be for a new car, because a used car would not nearly incur as high of costs for depreciation or insurance. For a full analysis, visit Ken Kifer's article Auto Costs Versus Bike Costs.
For a change of pace, I also tabulated the value of the produce I harvested from my little garden (~ 65-70 square feet) this year. This doesn't include any bonus value from value added items such as the sun-dried tomatoes I made, nor does it include all organic prices (which our garden was of course) as I couldn't verify them at the time I was calculating this. And it doesn't include the value of items I may still harvest such as beets, carrots, and fall garlic. Finally, I have not figured costs for the year yet. A number were high costs that will be investment purchases such as wire for hoops and cover cloth for season extension/bug control. I'll try to figure these prices at a later date.
Here we go:
Salad Mix 4#5oz - $25.88; Cilantro 3.75 bunch - $2.81; Cucumber 35/23#10oz - $17.00; Beets 12/2#8oz - $2.15; Basil 7 and 1/2 cups - $10.00; Zucchini 4/5# - $5.00; Sweet Peppers 11/1# 11oz - $5.00; Cabbage 4/3# 8oz - $2.00; Tomato 72/52#10oz - $131.00; Soybeans 12oz - $2.99; Gourds 18/3#6oz - $9.00; Honeydew 1/2# - $1.99; Chili Pepper 41/8oz - $2.99.
For a total of $217.72, almost two full months value (we spend about $120 per month) worth of groceries for us.
Friday, November 14, 2003
So today I would guess that maybe only about a quarter of those cars ever passed me again for good. Sure I had more than that pass me, but I would pass them again too, as we played leap frog. So in addition to my normal healthy and fruitful bike investment returns, I can proudly say that I am way ahead of time for enjoying my weekend than all those folks sitting out there in traffic.
These winds have totally denuded the surface of my garden. One tiny broccoli plant that was struggling for survival, some mustard and turnip greens I planted as a cover, and all the leaf mulch that was on top are either withered to nothingness or blown away. The beds look like windswept desert battlefields. Thankfully the other refugees of this season (beets, carrots, and garlic) are all underground and will pass muster fittingly. But what a scene!
Thursday, November 13, 2003
The winds today were gusting up to 60 mph, rattling the windows at work and at home, and I wasn't alone as most of the midwest to east coast was experiencing this. Riding north along the river this morning in flat Riverfront park was like climbing a mountain in the Laurel Highlands; I turned off to get away from the waterfront and each street I went down became a wind tunnell funneling more force than the park space. The whitecaps from the "gentle" Susquehanna were bursting with spray aginst the stone pillars of the Market and Walnut St Bridges.
Biking across the bridges was a balancing act. I stopped halfway and got off and walked. Otherwise I was being pushed over towards the traffic lane, and if I would have toppeled, I may have fallen over the barrier into the lane. I felt like a circus performer while on the bike. What a ride! But to top it off, my Tire Flares cued on right when twilight was falling, not complete dark, just as I hoped they would. That's 1 point for!
For example, coming across the Rt 83 overpass from Lemoyne to New Cumberland, I ride the wide lane to the right and there is enough room to share. But the lane ahead breaks into three (a left turn, a straight in the middle, and a right turn) at a stop-lighted intersection. I need to go straight so I have to get into the middle lane, but this midle lane is often backed up for 1/4 mile or so, and if I move up along it on the right of the wide lane (where the cars can't) I feel bad by trying to merge or squeeze in at that point after having passed them all, instead of getting into the que of traffic a few blocks back. So what can I do, well, I went into the right turn lane, and flew across the perpendicular street into the fast-food restaurant parking lot on the corner, then popped out again back on the projectory I would normally be on by going straight through the light. "No throroughfare" arguments aside, I'll keep doing that and hopefully no car drivers will get P.O.'d, but I am not sitting in traffic on my bike, especially in the upcoming winter. Nuff said.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Then I went out on my first test ride and discovered that the little buggers don't exactly light up right off the bat when you move, you need to be going at least 5 mph or so it seems, but wait, was that just the front one, sue says the back one stayed lit more when I had her come take a look. So is it the batteries, or is it the light sensor that detects light for daytime shut off to save battery power? Are the sensors super sensitive and are they picking up street lamp and ambient light? The one last thing is that I can't really go fast enough except at super top speed to make the light show a continous circle of light like they advertised, probably only a car at 40-50 mph would achieve that effect, so will these non-blink lights get more or even as much attention in this case as a blinking set would? Lots of questions to answer, hopefully I come to a conclusion on it all over the next couple days.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Since I raved about the spring rolls, here is the simple process for making them.
For one package of roll wrappers (about 15 total), saute one pound tofu in 3 tablespoons sesame oil and 2 tablespoons soy sauce, add 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar just before pulling tofu off the heat. While sauteeing, shred 1 large cabbage, and 2 large carrots. Remove tofu from pan and sautee cabbage and carrots until faintly cooked (or to your preferenace). Mix everything together in large bowl and season to your preferance with salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, etc. Place a good amount on wrapper and roll-up front side over filling, then sides, then wet top and continue rolling closed. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown in peanut oil (or substitute general veg oil), and serve with duck sauce, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, or your favorite sauce. As a side, I recommend a helping of buckwheat noodles cooked and then sauteed with soy sauce, chili paste, and the remainder of the filling that you couldn't get into the wrappers. Enjoy.
Monday, November 10, 2003
I can adjust my speed to my needs in these situations. In cooler weather I can slow down but keep pedaling to keep my temp up, instead of getting to the stop and sitting still for a bit of time. In warmer weather I can decide to slow to actually settle down my speed and effort, this helps in the real hot humid conditions around here in Summer. Today, I left for work this morning with the temp around 26 degrees and I was layered up perfectly, however on the ride home I put everything back on, and it turns out I didn't need to (was around 50 degrees), so I was overheating a little on the ride. But fortunately, in this case, I wasn't hitting any of my signals on time, so I hit each red and had a sit-still for a minute or two, and this allowed me to cool down just enough. Perfect timing in this case.
Made up those lovely spring rolls with the two heads of cabbage I harvested from the garden this weekend. Added some shredded carrot, and tofu with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soy, and dipped in duck sauce, delicious. Made some buckwheat pasta on the side with some of the remaining spring roll mixture, and some extra soy, and I ate some great hot pepper relish along with (Sue passed on that though).
Sunday, November 09, 2003
So when I remove the bolt, the next thing I realize is that the replacement bolt supplied with the fenders is not the right size in diameter to fit in the hole, and I can't reuse the Torx bolt I took out cause it isn't long enough, so I am stalled again. This time it is too late to run anywhere, so I guess tomorrow or Tuesday will involve another trip to the store. (interrupt for kiss from Sue). The easiest jobs can sometimes run into the most snags don't ya know.
I also picked up some extra stick-on red reflectors, and I stuck one to my rear fender cause don't have a rear reflector besides my red LED blinky, and I thought a back-up and a little extra shine never hurts. I have some more of the sticker reflectors, and will probably put some on my helmet, and some other parts of my bike. I also bought a pair of Tireflares, more later on that.
Friday, November 07, 2003
The bicycle is naked to you all the time, when you are riding down the street you had better hope that the wobble isn't an issue, or you may end up on the road yourself, and the result seems so much more possibly immediate and threatening. My bottom bracket is shot it seems, as the metallic noises when I pedal in high gear are ever present these days. It is not I believe a major issue for my safety, but it will need addressed this winter, so as to ensure the long-term maintenance of my bike. And I can see the wobble in my chain as it rolls around the gears every time I pedal, there is no not seeing that every day. It needs a good cleaning and possibly link replacements, or replaced as it also is skipping gears these days, perhaps getting a little loose or elongated. I got some work to deal with ahead.
Saturdays garden project involves cleaning up the beds. The frost is almost a certainty tomorrow night with predictions down to 24 degrees. A few tomato plants in any case have started developed a fungus so I need to clean things up. Salvage the remaining peppers and clinatro and green tomatoes, and probably rake in some of the leaf litter that has been accumulating. I think I will save some and dry them to add to the paper making Sue and I are undertaking as we make my brother Michael's and his fiancee Bobbi Jo's wedding invitations, we'll see how the leaf addition works as I haven't tried it before.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Fresh cilantro and green peppers harvested today for dinner. Sue and I had nachos grande with kidney beans, TVP with soy/liquid smoke, onion, salsa, yellow sharp cheddar, sour cream and lettuce. It was excellent, I was so hungry for that, knowing I should use some of those items from the garden, and the aging sour cream from the fridge.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
I walked down to our front door this morning, ready to head out on my commute, grabbed my helmet and discovered that my Reflex brand helmet mirror had fallen off at some point overnight. The adhesive had loosened somehow, and it was laying on the floor in front of the door. I have been pleased with this product up to now, it is easily adjustable, it is a good size for my needs, and it can be easily removed from the adhasive base if not in use, but I never thought the adhesive would just come unstuck in the night. I hope this doesn't happen when I am riding or sometime when I don't notice, and it ends up lost. I reattached and it was fine for the rest of the day, so maybe I need to store it in a different place or at a different angle so the mirror is not hanging downward?
Found egg roll wrappers after having to go to a second grocery store. Why would a store not have them? The Giant in New Cumberland didn't! Had to get them at Karns in Lemoyne. Anyway, I am jonesing for spring rolls with the cabbage from my garden begging to be eaten. Can't wait to fry them up.
Monday, November 03, 2003
1) since it is external, theft and vandalism may be a problem.
2) drag will be greater since it is a physical contact of the dynamo to the wheel, but the barrell can be moved off the tire when not in use.
3) a few comments about the ineffectiveness of the dymotec in wet and especially snowy conditions have come across my desk. But is this just in extreme snow/wet conditions, or anytime it gets a little wet out?
4) all in all, for the extent I would be using it, I could always walk, slow down, use a back up LED/headlamp, if the light fails in certain conditions.
5) does the light retain a charge for when I come to a stop? (I think this is a given if buying the correct light, but I have to check to make certain)
So, I need to cover these questions before I decide, and of course, any other leads from readers on other lights would be appreciated!
My garlic is putting up shoots already, they are popping up through my straw mulch. Must be because of the mild weather, it is 76 degrees out today, in November! Check out the photo below to see the shoots.