Monday, October 31, 2011

It can't be Halloween. Where's the snow?

A couple of creatures sporting big, toothy grins
It seems as though Mother Nature's timing was off by a few days this year. The final bits of snow from last week's storm had withered away by this afternoon. Historically, it seems more likely than not that the weather around here is foul and cold with the occasional blizzard, just in time for trick or treating. However, this year the weather couldn't have been finer.
Joan Jett loves rock and roll. And Smarties.
In our gluttonous cruise around the neighborhood, we collected far more candy than we need. In fact, it's far more than any mortal human needs. So, we're leaving the excess out for the candy fairy. The candy fairy, for those who may not be aware, brings gifts to good little girls and boys in exchange for candy on Halloween night. I'm grateful for the candy fairy for reducing the presence of sugar, an uncontrolled but potentially dangerous substance when in high concentration in the bloodstream of young humans.
Slimy pumpkin guts
Happy Halloween! Oh, and don't forget to brush.

Monday, October 24, 2011

183rd riding day for 2011

I don't keep track of many personal statistics regarding bike use, such as miles ridden and the like. It's just not that practical for me, as only one of my many bikes has a cycle computer. However, I was curious to examine my riding habits in some quantitative manner, so late last year I decided to record every day that I use a bike to make at least one trip that might have otherwise been made by car.

This past week I logged my 183rd day of riding a bike to displace car use during 2011. The number 183 is significant, because it passes the 50% threshold of the number of days in the year. So, regardless of how many more days I ride between now and the end of the year, I have already ridden a bike to replace a car trip for at least half the days of 2011.

Looking at the chart above, it's noticeable that riding days in January and February are fairly low. What can I say; it was cold. I will note that I did ride on several exceedingly cold days during that period. May was also lower than expected, during which I had a nasty case of bronchitis. July has a dip too, as I was hiking in the mountains for a week. I'll chalk up the lower numbers in September and October to work on my dissertation, during which I've rarely left my house. I expect that October will grow a bit during its final week. I'll likely have an update at the end of the year.

Seeing the chart made me think about the days that I didn't replace car trips with bike trips. Sure, some of those days I drove somewhere or for whatever reason did not have a bike available. However, maybe a third of those days I didn't go anywhere. Perhaps I'll devise more data categories for next year to capture some of these items.

In any case, it's been an interesting exercise, for me at least. If you are interested, you can log your own bicycling days by using my bicycling days counter template at Google Docs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My new-fangled phone-thing has a camera

A nice fall evening ride.
I'll be the first to admit to being a bit of a human oddity. For one thing, I have all 32 of my teeth, including wisdom teeth, in place and functioning as intended. Perhaps more shocking, I avoided cell phone ownership until 2008.

I succumbed to a rudimentary model out of the necessity of being able to be contacted, and because I have no office phone. My cell phone was the simplest offered, but it seemed like even that modest model aspired to be something other than a phone. It was packed with stuff, like a calculator, games and other things I never bothered to explore. As a means of verbal communication it was adequate. Other functions were less so. I cringed if anyone ever sent me a text message, as it was an ordeal to reply with the numerical keypad. The phone technically had a camera, although the photos it took were low resolution, fuzzy and apparently impossible to extract from the device.

In recent months, my cell phone, at three years old and practically an antique, had decided to decline in function. The clarity of audio was not unlike that of C.B. radios I remember in the late 1970s. It dropped calls with wanton abandon. After much domestic prodding, I finally agreed to an upgrade to a slightly fancier model. After all, the upgrade was "free," never mind the two year commitment.
Box for new phone accompanied by old phone luxuriating on a statistics book. Photo taken by new phone, not pictured for obvious reasons.
My new phone-thing is not an iPhone. It's not an Android phone or a Blackberry or even a Windows 7 Phone, or whatever they call that thing. It is, however, much nicer than my old phone. The audio clarity is considerably better, and it has a slide out mini keyboard to contend with the odd text message that I receive. I'm sure it also has all sorts of software and features that I'll never figure out how to use. However, it does have a camera that not only functions adequately, but generates retrievable photo files. I'll never take a Pulitzer prize winning photo with it, but it does mean that I won't have to haul around my trusty 9 year-old Canon Elph camera for incidental photo opportunities as much any more.
A 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp with original Deore II components and non-original fat 2.4 tires stuffed between the stays.
I often spot bikes or other interesting things while out and sometimes take photos. The bike above was the first of such opportunistic captures with my new phone. I enjoy seeing bikes like this that are obviously regularly used and have many of their original parts, with some thoughtful additions. It doesn't hurt that this Rockhopper was made in the pinnacle year of non-suspended mountain bikes and Shimano's component manufacture in terms of quality, serviceability and value. Yeah, bike nerd to the core.

I've also found the new camera to be useful when I don't want to hunt down a nicer camera for a spur of the moment shot. Such an event occurred tonight when she read and appreciated a comic on her own for the first time. She's been fascinated by Calvin and Hobbes books for a couple of years and has spent long periods looking through them. However, this evening she giggled out loud at the strip below, after having read the dialogue. It was a great moment.
She not only read it, but she identified with the sentiment. It doesn't hurt that Calvin is a fellow six year-old similarly adorned with untamed hair.
Actively delaying bed time and getting away with it.
I'm still quite a Luddite when it comes to personal communication devices, but I'm warming to the new phone.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fun run

Ready to hustle!
Today was our school's annual fun run. It delivered as promised. She did great and turned in a solid performance. Her pace was certainly a bit quicker than when I run, which is not very often anymore.
At the starting line.
Enjoying an orange after the run.
She started out on her own, but I caught up to her so we could run together. We held hands across the finish line, sprinting to pass a boy and his dad. I was a little surprised and very impressed that she passed a number of kids along the way and kept her determination. I'll credit her competitive streak to her mother. The school did a great job running the event, and the turnout of parents and siblings was impressive.
One of the other dads was riding around this very nice vintage Redline BMX.
As usual, my ride was considerably larger.