Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CS 1005

Did you know Johnny Mathis did a cover of The Beatles' "Something"?  Me either.  This is from my parents' record collection.  I don't think this is his best work, but Johnny did have a heck of a voice.  And he's a handsome devil.

Good advice from your friends at Columbia Records:

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Runner 10154

It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.  - Jimmy Dugan

Let's get this on record:  I am not a runner.

That said, I suppose it's time to officially let this cat out of its bag.  This morning I completed my last Marathon Training Run. I am registered for and am planning to attempt the Twin Cities Marathon this Sunday, October 6.

I don't plan to be fast.  I don't plan to look like I'm having fun, and in truth I'm not really even planning to have fun doing it.  And I'm not even 100% sure I'll finish.  But that's my goal:  Finish the event within the 6 hour time limit.  No style points will be awarded.

I've been very closed mouthed about these plans for the last several months because truthfully I never thought I would get to this point.  And I figured if at first you don't succeed, hide any evidence that you tried.  There's been setbacks along the way, but they have been mostly overcome.  I'm still dealing with a foot issue that my non-medically confirmed diagnosis is extensor tendonitis.  It just flared up after my last long run.  After taking a week off, it's been manageable enough on my last few short runs to make me think I can make it through.  And if not, I'll be a DNF.  Which is always better than a DNS.

If you are the curious type who can't look away from an auto accident, there are a couple of ways you can follow my progress on Sunday.
Avtex Athlete Tracker will send you a text message at certain points in the race.  I'm not sure when.
Mtrack is a nice online near real time tracker that will show you where I am on a map of the course.

And if you're the type who will actually be out on the course spectating, I plan to wear my brightest yellow shirt.  High fives appreciated.  

Monday, August 05, 2013


Astute followers of this blog will remember that I picked up a Magnavox record player this spring. I have cleaned up the controls and gotten a new needle. And through the wonder of decades old technology, it now plays music in a close approximation of what was originally intended.  I offer the following link as living proof:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bearded Lady

My two wheeled adventure took me to NE Mpls this weekend for The Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show.  I rode there with the Heck's Angels Scooter Club.  Watching people's reaction on the parkway when 30+ scooters go rolling by is nothing short of amusing.  First, they look confused.  Then, you usually get a big smile and a wave.  We even got a horn honk from a dude in a huge dump truck towing a flatbed trailer with an earthmover on it.

This poorly composed shot shows my Elite (the blue one in the center) lined up with all the other scoots.  We got a rousing welcome from the BLMFS crowd as we rolled in.  

We saw loads of bikes.

There were a few cool cars lurking about.  Somebody said there was a wagon somewhere, but I missed it.

And some scooters that came on their own.
I have a soft spot for these old Honda Trails.  This one was amazingly clean.  Could have rolled out of the dealer's door yesterday.

This Elite 250 (with the super rare crash bars) made me regret not calling on a similar scoot that was for sale on Craigslist last week.

This guy, from crankshaftmusic.com, was tearing it up.  His percussion kit was built around a 5 gallon homer bucket from Home Depot.
This might have been the most unique of the show.  Basically, an adult sized big wheel that is electric powered.

And when I was looking at this cool bike with the sidecar, I saw the bearded lady herself along with her escort.

About a 60 mile day on the scoot, and loads of fun.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Yesterday my company had Bill Andre, one of the Commuter Connection guys, standing outside our building for 2 hours zapping bikes.   This will make sense in a minute.  Anyway, since we have strict requirements about who can be at our building we were asked to send a bikey-type representative to hang out with Bill and make sure he didn't get up to any nefarious doings (he didn't).

Bill came on this yellow trike with bags full of bits and bobs, the purpose of which he explained to just about every cyclist who entered our building between 6:30 and 8:30 AM.  You can see Bill's back to the far right as he talks Zapping to a cyclist.  I didn't think to actually take a decent picture of him.

This is Bill's seat cover, as it was threatening rain all morning.  It's nice because it will actually keep his seat dry and also advertises his cause.  He gave me an identical one for being such a good helper.  Lucky!

So if you haven't hear of ZAPTwinCities.org it's a new bike tracking program.  Not designed to track you a la PRISM, but designed to track how many bikes are out and about.  They attach a little plastic device to your front wheel as seen below:
 And there are dozens of Zap Stations around town.  Whenever your front wheel (and hopefully the rest of your bike and you) passes by one of these stations, there's some electronic magic and it records that you were there.  I checked the map to see which ones were near my commuting route and rode by a few just to see what happened.  For such a small sensor, the range is pretty impressive.  There's an audible "ping" when your zap thing is read, and I heard it from out in the bike lane on Portland and I also heard it from the Greenway (there's a reader by the Freewheel shop).  I slowed down a bit just because I wasn't sure it would work, but I think it would probably read you at speed.

The folks at Commuter Connection want to use all the data they collect to augment the manual bike counts and really get some every day hard data.  They plan to use this data to help build their business case in grant writing, helping cyclists get reimbursement from their HMO for activity and a bunch of other stuff that's good for cyclists.

Coming in the next few weeks they are going to integrate the Bike Sharing system into their zapping.  So every time you take a bike share bike you can have a zap recorded as well.  They have rewards for how many zaps you get.  If you're a Type A person, you an online dashboard so you can see how you compare to other registered cyclists (competition!).  And you are also eligible to win prizes based on the number of zaps you get.

At this point, you're probably wondering how you can get zapped yourself.  If you're reading this in a timely manner, it's currently Bike to Work week in the Twin Cities.  Bill is going to have a tent at the downtown Minneapolis commuter celebration tomorrow (Thursday, June 16, 2013) for the Bike to Work Day celebration at Government Plaza and he'll be zapping bikes.  He also said he hangs out on Nicollet Mall every Thursday looking for folks to zap.  And you can always call the Commuter Connection place and set up a time.  They'll come down to street level and take care of it.  Takes about 2 minutes.  St. Paulites, I didn't get the full story but I am assuming that they can help you out as well.

My one daughter had swim lessons last night, and the other daughter had her weekly Summer Orchestra rehearsal.  My wife took the swimmer, and we carpooled with another orchestra kid, which left me with a couple hours of alone time.  So, since it was a beautiful night and I'd already had my bike ride for the day I pulled out the scooter and just cruised around for an hour or so.  I found some fun twisty roads and learned that Dodd Road will take you right into St Paul.  I also visited the Pilot Knob Open Space, because I hadn't been there before.

I added this bit of whimsy to the access panel on the scooter.  However, I don't believe that the scooter will make it to 88mph unless I can lay my hands on some plutonium...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stereophonic High Fidelity

I'd been pestering the Mrs. about getting one of those old-fangled console stereos for a while now.  I've got a bunch of vinyl in the basement that probably hasn't been played since I was in high school, since that's the last time I can recall having a functional turntable.  And I thought a console would fit well in our 1951 house with its mid-century modern thing going on.  She was not nearly as excited about this idea as you might expect.

Last week when taking daughter to her violin lesson I noticed a house with a Sold sign and various pieces of furniture on the lawn.  I gave it a quick gander (old habits from Moorhead fix up/clean up week die hard) but didn't notice anything special.  After the lesson, I took a closer look and then told daughter "We're going back."  Mixed in among the end tables and whatnot was this beauty of a Magnavox.

Daughter and I wrestled it into the back of the Roadmaster (Estate Wagon for the win!) and drove it home.  There it sat for nearly a week, as we were making a road trip to see Willie Nelson and I didn't have time to monkey with it.  Last night we wheeled it in to the location seen above.

It has a record player and an AM/FM radio.  And it actually works.  Sort of.  I believe I can fix it.  The pots are really scratchy, and the needle is shot.  But the turntable does work and I was able to eke out a little volume from the vinyl.  
It even had the owners manual! The records are some of mine, just for show.
 The contents of the envelope:
Yes, those are punch cards.  Kids, ask your parents if you don't understand.

Close ups:
Assuming I haven't out kicked my coverage and can actually get it working, this is going to be sweet.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Life on two wheels?

So far this year, it's been more about "Life on two feet".  I signed up for the Get Lucky again this year, and spent January through March running to get ready.  Most of my runs were indoor at the community center's track (11 laps = 1 mile) due to the prolonged and miserable spring weather we have had here in Minnesota.  Side note:  there's actually snow in the forecast for later this week.  In May, people.  But enough of that.

I'm still running and last week unofficially started my marathon training program.  Not that I have committed to doing a marathon, mind you.  But the wench signed up for the TC Marathon on the day of the Boston bombings, and I'll admit it's more than crossed my mind to do the same.  The only problem is that the longest I've ever run in my life is the 7k of Get Lucky.  So for now I'm following the plan and contemplating my options.

My two wheeling life has taken a bit of a turn.  Exhibit A:
It's a 1985 Honda Elite 150 I picked up in December.  It's an ugly little spud, but it's also super fun.  I haven't had a chance to do a lot of riding on it yet (see above crappy spring weather reference), but what I have done has been a hoot.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Beer Nirvana?

OK, maybe not nirvana.  But we've got it good up here, make no mistake.  I was just reading about this new restaurant called "Red Cow" and heard it had a great beer list.  So I checked it out:

36 taps, and 18 of them are MN beers.  And I looked at the list and said, "Meh.  I've seen better beer lists."  18 locally brewed beers and 36 choices, and that's just average?  Crazy talk.

When we were in San Antonio, Texas a week ago, the beer list at nearly every restaurant/bar was: Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, and Shiner Bock.  You could throw in one or two variables (MGD Golden Draft Light!), but this was pretty close to what we consistently saw.  

If you like beer, this is a pretty great place to live.  Just had to get this off my chest.

How's your winter going?