Oh, hi

ted | beer,bike,chicago,computer,driving,food,HAMLOG,house,junk,travel | Monday, December 8th, 2008

Yeah, it’s been a while. So what’s new?

  • Turns out the bike/car wreck was my fault, according to the eyewitnesses. Whoops. Needless to say, it has been handed over to my insurance company for them to deal with. I’m 99% physically healed but my ego is still bruised… as big of a stickler as I am for Same Road Same Rules Same Rights, I caused a wreck. Damn. I am making everything right on the car repair side and turning my mangled Raleigh Grand Prix into a parts bike for a road frame Charlie gave me years ago.
  • My Senator got elected to be the next POTUS which delights me greatly.
  • It’s cold here. And snowy. Just in time, too – I like seasonal weather.
  • We had Fakesgiving III/Bullshit Thanksgiving 2008 at the home of Pete & Miz Royal. Fried a turkey in the chilly 15°F weather, had a couple Manhattans courtesy of Mr. Scott Action (Anton LaVey Jr.) and a great time was had by all.
  • I’m keeping track of what I eat again. And losing weight again. I need to do this, badly. I’ve got two data points from this year. One where I signed up for fitday last year and one where I got weighed for a weight-loss contest at work in August. I’m back down near my August weight but have about 20 pounds to go until I’ve erased 2008’s ravages from my body.
  • Out of homebrew. For now. Apple juice should start getting really, really cheap soon which means it’s about time to make another keg of hard cider.
  • Work’s keeping me busy. One of my projects entails modifying some of our equipment, including getting the die set out of one of our presses, and nobody there has had it out before – fun, challenging and downright scary at times. You go elbows-deep in an 80 ton press and tell me it ain’t scary.
  • My buddy Markh is comin’ up this weekend with his special lady in tow, which excites me. I haven’t seen Mark much since I moved 700+ miles away. Funny, that.

In short, first I:

But now:

And soon I shall again be:


ted | bike,chicago,driving | Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I had to triple-check my spelling, lest I had swapped the D & R (link definitely NSFW). Honestly, no idea what’s going on with that as of yet, I was busy having a plain ol’ collision yesterday. Got hit by a Chevy HHR on the way home. Yes, I was on my bicycle. Aside from fresh road rash and some serious bruising, I think I’m OK.

I don’t recall what happened at all – I was riding down Kedzie Avenue, going down the hill in front of the Nabisco bakery and the next thing I know, I’m in an ambulance, signing the waiver so I can go home directly.

The cops on the scene were nice enough to give me a ride home (and they apologized for the uncomfortable hard plastic back seat) and I went straight on to the shower where I spent a good long while brushing asphalt out of my wounds. So far I think I’m OK, just some abrasions and a busted-up bicycle, but should any problems begin to appear I’ll be heading directly to the ER to get checked out.


Everybody in a car, please look twice. I’m tired of this happening.

Ride report, mid-July 2008

ted | bike,chicago | Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

I’ve been riding my bicycle to work. It’s fun, good exercise, cheaper than driving, better for me & better for the environment. So far I’ve found a few things out that I wouldn’t have otherwise:

  1. Even the “big roads” can be a better ride than the small ones. I initially avoided going down Southwest Highway & Cicero Avenue because they were “big”. Turns out taking that route is not only shorter but allows me to ride faster. They both have lots of lanes, too, which makes the cars behind me happier and my ride easier. That route is also over a mile shorter than the other route I was taking.
  2. A water bottle is a necessity. I almost puked my guts out coming home on Monday, as it was easily the warmest & sunniest day yet. Today’s gonna be hotter and tomorrow even moreso. My 1976 Austrian-built Raleigh Grand Prix was not outfitted with water bottle braze-ons, so my secondary Local Bike Shop sold me a handlebar-mount water bottle cage. I will be following up with my primary LBS, the fine gents at Beverly Bike & Ski, to acquire one that will clamp to the frame as well.
  3. Having access to a shower at work sure is nice. I should have a locker assigned to me today and tomorrow I will be able to reap the benefits of not being still glistening with sweat when I arrive at my desk.
  4. This is the first time I’ve ever bicycled all the way to work and home. Back when I lived in Atlanta, I would take my bicycle on MARTA to work with a bit of a ride to the station from home and from the station to work, but no more than 2 miles total. I would then ride all the way home, a distance of some 12 miles or so. Now I’m riding 9 miles to work and 9 miles home. 18 miles a day is pretty good.
  5. I really need a rear rack & panniers. As much as I love my bigass Timbuk2 bag, I need the bike to carry the weight, not my back. Also will assist in me being less sweaty upon my arrival. Unfortunately the rear eyelets on my Raleigh have wallowed-out threads. Right now I’ve got an M5 bolt with a nylock washer on the back holding the fender stays in place, but this prevents me from using my smallest cog. I really need to braze or weld up the eyelets, then drill & tap for a proper M5 thread. This will allow me to use the rack I already own and the fenders I already equipped the bike with, and later add panniers.
  6. Full-finger gloves are nicer than half-finger gloves. I dunno, I just like them more.
  7. Dear everyone in a car forever: there are more lanes to my left. If you’d like to go faster than me, please use one of them and be on your way. Despite your almost Neanderthal-like insistence on using your horn, the sound waves impacting my back do not appreciably make me go faster, nor do they alert me to your presence – I saw you long before you saw me. So please, lay off the horn, pass me on my left, have a Coke, a smile & leave me the fuck alone. I’m trying to do something nice for the two of us, jerks.
  8. I really enjoy riding my bicycle. There’s something almost poetic about being able to get to work in 40 minutes under your own power when it takes up to 30 minutes when driving. The best I ever did on my way to work was 22 minutes and that was full-on Stig mode. I’m less than twice that time under my own power, carrying my breakfast, lunch, snack, work clothes, wallet, keys, pocketknife, sunglasses, deodorant, phone, bandanas, belt, an assortment of bike tools, heavy U-lock, spare innertube, patch kit, air pump & a fistful of change in a bag slung across my back.
  9. Bicycles don’t tear streets up. If the roads were paved nice and smoothly just once and it was a bicycle-only route, it would almost never need repaving.

So far, so good. My new employer has been nice about this, what with helping me find a good, secure, indoor spot for locking up my bicycle, giving me access to a locker & having a shower. My dear wife has been getting in on the act as well and rode her bicycle to work on Monday. I can only hope with the rising fuel prices that others will start to take a look around and say, “Hey, if that fat guy can ride to work, so can I” and actually give it a try.

We just watched a terrible, terrible movie that had an interesting bit of dialogue in it. While I can’t ever recommend anyone see “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” as it’s simply fearmongering, muckraking and completely devoid of any real content whatsoever (note to Gelpke & McCormack: a bunch of opinions do not a documentary make, it might help if you cited some “facts”), one line sort of reverberated with me. The gist of it was that if you tell Americans, “OK here’s your hydrogen powered car that will solve your part of the energy crisis” they will buy it and go on with their lives like they currently do. But instead if you said, “OK here’s your bicycle” and expect them to radically change the way they get around it’s going to be mass hysteria and chaos.

Don’t be an ugly duhmerikan. Help create order from chaos – ride a bicycle.

Cotton kills

ted | bike | Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Everyone who’s ever been camping when it’s less than 10°C knows that you shouldn’t wear cotton, since it absorbs moisture and when you stop hiking/hauling wood/drinking liquor by the fire, your sweat-soaked clothes then keep you cold. Then you get hypothermia, death or just have a bad time. That’s why you wear wool, silk or polypropylene next to your skin. I have camped in the cold and I did not die, instead I had a great time.

Anyone who’s ever spent any time being active in hot weather knows that a cotton/polyester blend offers superior breathability and wicking than just straight cotton. I’m no stranger to being active in hot weather.

While plain cotton t-shirts (vee neck, extra large tall) are a staple of my wardrobe because they’re cheap, easy to clean and look nice – which is why I think I put one on this morning instead of the myriad of 50/50 poly/cotton shirts I own. Why I didn’t realize I would be arriving at work with a heavy, sweat-soaked, non-breathing plain white cotton shirt is beyond me.

I need some cotton/poly XLT vee neck white t-shirts.

And to ride my bike to work more often. It’s nice. You get to ponder the mysteries of life, the beauty and elegance of your human-powered two wheel machine, spend time thinking about the condition of the road & blissfully ignore the assholes behind you honking. Seriously, guys, go read this and this and this and this. Or let me just spell it out for you:

625 ILCS 5/11-1502– Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles
Sec. 11-1502.Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

Same road, same rights, same rules. But you can get away with wearing a plain t-shirt in a car in the summer.

New jorb update, 2008 July

ted | bike,chicago,driving,HAMLOG | Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Basically the new place absolutely rocks. We got hell of labs and equipment and new computers and good software and I’m learning a whole lot of new stuff. Interesting stuff. Challenging stuff. I leave home at the same time as I did with the old place but I get home 1.5 hours earlier – read that again – I have an extra 1.5 hours AT HOME that I otherwise spent in the car or rotting away in my cube. Fuel economy for this first tank is down from 44ish MPG to about 40 MPG, but I only need to fill up about every 25 days instead of every 7 – 10.

But that ain’t really why I want to talk about.

I rode my bicycle to work today. Left home about half an hour early and had plenty of time to cool off a bit, change and be at my desk at my allotted start time. I felt great – awake, energetic and not really hungry at all. It was only after my big mess o’ black beans & brown rice for lunch that I got The Hunger. Fended that off until it was quittin’ time at Tara, whereupon I changed back and rode home. Took about 45 minutes to get to work and 40 on the way home. It’s nice to be able to ride to work again – or hell, for the first time ever. I used to only ride home from GE, 12 miles through Atlanta rush hour traffic. Now I’m going to be riding the full 18 miles to/from work a couple times a week, weather permitting.

This is more than just saving diesel. This is about getting back into shape by integrating exercise into my work day. This is about arriving at work fully awake and energetic. Getting the new job was just step one in my five year plan. Riding to work at minimum several times a week during that time of year when it won’t kill me is back to my roots and back to how I want to spend my time.

And like my homeboy President Carter from Plains GA said,

Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense — I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

Back in the saddle again

ted | bike | Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

It’s been TOO FUCKING LONG – quite literally months – since I have ridden a bicycle. The problem with my previous bike ride/carpool action was 1. it got really cold and the folder is not equipped with studded tires; 2. the Damn Ryan has been reconfigured such that there isn’t a good good/convienent/nearby spot for us to meet; and 3. K- has been working earlier/later hours due to a different project he’s on.

But last Friday night, I rode my singlespeed up to the Beat Kitchen to see Mexican Cheerleader play their last show in a while. In a thunderstorm. At night.

Went down turning from Archer onto Damen – took the turn too fast and the no-name Performance Bike 26 x 1.5″ city tires slipped out on a manhole cover (thunderstorm, remember?). But as per usual, I got up, brushed the gravel out of my calf & arm, walked it off for half a block and rode the rest of the way. Nice.

I was a bit sore Sunday at Scott & Leighanne’s for Fawn’s baby un-shower, but a bracingly cold lake, lots of beer and gin & tonics took care of that.

Today, I went to a seminar that Autodesk put on downtown, just over 10 miles from home. Rode the same bike leisurely, took just over an hour what with all the stops and dodging CTA buses and whatnot.


Well, that was horrible

ted | bike | Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Normally I ride approximatley 3-3/4 miles due east in the morning over to the Dan Ryan (the part of I-90/94 south of the Circle, north of the junction with I-57 and isn’t the Skyway) where I meet my buddy Kevin, fold up my Dahon Boardwalk 1, put it in the trunk of his Honda and we have a lively rappaport the rest of the way to work.

In the evening, he drops me off about half a mile south of the pick-up point, due to onramp closures, and I ride just over 4 miles home, most of it due west.

If I ever take Metra, I have to ride over to the 63rd street station. Being on the southeast side of Chicago is weird, since many of these streets don’t exist on the northside. Crazy lake curvature. Going to that station is pretty much 6 miles exactly, perhaps a little more.

I rode/carpooled in like normal the other day, but K had a dentist appointment, so I got a ride to the end of the Metra line and rode that up to Chicago, got off at 63rd street and bundled up for the six miles and change home, all of it due west.

I was not entirely prepared for the wind.

It wasn’t that cold – 26°F (-3°C), balmy for this part of the year – but a 21 mph headwind gusting to 31 mph made my progress slow and very labored. I was bundled up fairly well, but the bandana I was using as a facemask made my glasses fog up regularly and my nose run almost continuously. It did a fine job of protecting my delicate facial tissues from the biting wind as well as warming and humidifying the air I was gasping in, but needless to say it got soaked very quickly.

Even though the fierce headwind nearly stopped my forward progress at times, I worked through it and kept pedaling. And pedaling. And pedaling. Exhausted, soaked with sweat, I finally made it home after nearly an hour of the most hellish riding I can ever remember.

My “good ride” metric was also fulfilled: I did not get passed by a bus. Hell yeah. I was suprisingly sore this cold morning. Nice, for a change.

rule two of bicycle commuting

ted | bike | Monday, December 11th, 2006

Diagnose and repair any issues ASAP.

I had a slight creak from my bottom bracket. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just open it up and regrease the bearings one day. I’ve got the tools, grease & know-how. No big deal.

I finally got around to cleaning my bike of the asphalt tack coat I stupidly rode through. It was then I noticed I had at least 1/4″ of play on the right side of my bottom bracket. Rut roh. That ain’t good.

So I sat down on a white plastic bucket in my unheated garage, and with my cheapo tool kit and by the light of a CF bulb in a lightweight clamp-on fixture, I took the bottom bracket apart. First the pedals then the spindle dust caps then the retaining nuts then the crank puller then the bottom bracket bearing races and HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY BEARINGS, BUBBLES?

bearings gone bad

I know that picture sucks, but you get the idea. Notice the nice flat spot on the lower leftmost bearing and the one next to it. Oh and those metal chips. And how the ball retainer is more mangled than a 12 year old’s braces. These are the worst-looking bearings I’ve ever seen.

Fortunately the races were fine. Even more fortunate, the bottom bracket shell was set up for a standard 68mm wide sealed cartridge bottom bracket – I checked the length, diameter, spindle length and even the thread pitch, so off I went to my LBS and purchased a replacement. $24 for their finest generic sealed unit. Hopefully this will be a lot more durable, as it appears they used the absolute cheapest-assed bearings they had in China.

Finally got it all back together yesterday and it rode great on my way in today, except the part where I decided to ride partially through some slush (which was actually solid ice) and almost ate the curb. I guess that should be rule three: always ride around stuff. Fortunately a couple years of mountainbiking and motorcycling has taught me how to correct wobbles, at least somewhat.

But even if you’re riding through doggy doodoo and frozen vomit slush next to a bass blasting lowrider full of homies brandishing Tec-9s, keep an ear out for any new squeaks, creaks or clunks, and fix them as soon as possible, you lazy jerk.

Always into the wind. Always.

ted | bike | Friday, November 10th, 2006

Started out this morning with a shitty commute.

No, really. I stepped in a big wet steaming pile of dog crap this morning and didn’t notice until two pedal revolutions down the road, as I had smashed most of it into the pedal on my bike. Not only is there disgusting smelly sticky dog shit on my shoe, but it’s smashed into all the crevices of the pedal as well. Each revolution of the pedals only forced it in further.

Dog doodoo is slick, too. Makes it easy for your shoe to slip off the pedal. The shoe and pedal that are practically covered in canine excrement.

Toss in a 20 mph headwind and having too many smokes the night before with it being 20°F colder than the day before and it makes for a bad start to the day.

But all was not lost. I still made it to my rezendevous point in 20 minutes flat. Found a newspaper to clean up what I could on the pedal and then wrap it in so as not to transfer said effluvent to Kevin’s trunk. My commuting shoes are plastic, so it was trivial to walk off most of what was still smashed onto my shoe in the clover next to the sidewalk.

And best of all – while waiting for Kevin’s Honda to round the corner, I made a friend.
my morning commute friend

rule one point five of bicycle commuting

ted | bike | Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Dress for the weather, both for on the bike and off the bike.

I got up at quarter after five, rode 5.5 miles in just under half an hour in the 40 degree weather to take the train to work. My usual ride had a dentist appointment, so I went to Plan B.

One really nice thing about getting up and being on the bike before 0600 is that it’s truly King of the Road time. Very few cars. Almost no pedestrians, which means no jerkasses yellin shit. Only one bus, which I caught up to three times and finally passed – yeah, a big guy on a little bike passed your bus.

The problem with such a thing is that it’s really goddamn early. Too early. Stupid early. I don’t like early, especially if early comes immediately after late. On the plus side, my lady’s new 250G drive is up and running and there were some clean clothes for me to wear this morning. On the downside, I only got 4 hours of sleep. That turns out to be not enough sleep.

It’s also fairly chilly and completely dark out at 0600 in Chicago in mid-Octember. 40°F (4.4°C) this morning. The USNO says civil twilight was at 0639 and sunrise at 0709 today. I was standing on the platform waiting for my train at 0630.

So yeah, clothes. I was a bit chilly at first, mostly for want of an earwarmer and a windproof glove shell. I was wearing some stylish black work pants (Dickies double knee, thank you kindly), some generic long sleeve cotton shirt (I’m an engineer, I try to stick to plaid shirts, since that’s the standard engineer’s uniform) and a cheapassed cotton/poly light jacket. So yeah, some earwarmers and glove shells would’ve been nice. By the time I got to the station, I had worked up a light sweat and was feeling nice and warm. Yet while waiting 25 minutes for my train, it dawned on me that the very same 15 mph NW wind that I had enjoyed on the way over was very well chilling me rapidly. I should’ve put a wind shell in my bag for such an occasion, but I did not.

So remember, on the bike, you’re gonna start off cold and get warmer, but you’re also making your own wind chill. Also keep in mind you’re gonna work up a lil sweat. You need base layers that wick and outer layers that block wind in the front but can vent to the back. You definitely need windproof gloves and something for your head.

Most of all you need a decent night’s sleep.

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