Sunday, August 03, 2014

Lost Dog

Hey there, internet.  It's been a while since I wrote at you, but I need your help.  On our way back from a weekend of camping, our dog Murray decided to pull a Houdini.  We stopped in Alexandria (MN) for gas and a bite to eat.  We left both our dogs in the camper while we went in to Wendy's.  When we came out, the door was still closed but only one dog was in the camper.  We looked for an hour plus before realizing he could be anywhere and we probably wouldn't find him.  So we left our contact info with the local authorities, and are hoping for the best. 

Murray is a 6 year old, neutered male husky, lab, Dane, who know what else.  He's about 120 pounds, has been a house dog all his life and while normally extremely friendly he is probably scared out of his wits.  Last seen near the Wal-mart at the intersection of I-94 and highway 29 in Alec.  If anybody has contacts in the Alexandria area and hears anything, please let me know.

Monday, May 19, 2014

1/4 and 2/3

On stage, Peter Frampton uses a synthesized voice to create the illusion that his guitar "talks" while playing. 
Jimbo: Man, that guy's guitar is talking. 
Otto: Hey, my shoes are talking too! 
Left Shoe: Don't worry. We won't hurt you.
Right Shoe: We only want to have some fun. -- "Homerpalooza"

My friend Joel ended up with two copies of Frampton Comes Alive and very thoughtfully offered one copy to me.  I pulled it out of the sleeve tonight to give it a spin on the old Astrosonic.  The first record I grabbed was sides 2 and sides 3.  The other was side 1 and side 4.  Those of you in an older generation may know where this is headed, but I will clue in the younger readers.

Why in the world would one disc not be side 1/2, and the other be sides 3/4?  It all comes down to stackable multi-disc record players.  Which the Astrosonic happens to be.  So, what you do is put the first disc on the stack, Side 1 up.  Follow that with disc 2, Side 2.  See where this is headed?  Side 1 will drop, play, and then the autochanger function will drop Side 2.  Once this is complete flip both discs over and you are automatically set up for Side 3 and Side 4, respectively. A full double album played with only one flip needed.  Genius!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Cave in

When we bought our house nearly 10 years ago, the shed that came with the house was in poor repair.  It is one of those cheap metal ones.  The doors didn't open properly, and it is quite rusty.  But, it has done its job for us for 10 years, even though all of its shortcomings have become more pronounced over our 10 years of ownership.  We have discussed replacing it, but it seems like there is always some project more interesting or more pressing.

This winter of hell has finally killed the shed. I was driving home one evening and noticed something looked off. On closer inspection, the roof collapsed. I spent a beautiful March afternoon pulling as much snow from the collapsed roof as I could, and cleaned off the mower and other shed-dwellers before tying a tarp over the whole mess. I'm hoping the tarp will get us through the last of winter before we can formally begin a whole scale replacement.  Good times.

The poor mower, buried.  You can't see in this photo, but there are strings of duct tape hanging down that presumably were used to seal old leaks in the roof.

A view of what remains of the roof.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Pouring at the Loppet

I signed up to pour beer for Surly Brewing at the City of Lakes Loppet today.  Our crew assembled at 9:15 this morning, and I spent the first half of the day pouring beer in an outdoor tent, mainly for Kubb players.  

These guys were traveling with their own portable meat and cheese tray, sans tray.  They were offering bites of sausage and cheese (no knife, gnaw a hunk off style) to all takers.  The sausage was delicious.

Since I was signed up for a double shift, at 2:00 I moved up to the big tent.  The big tent was heated, so it was quite an improvement.  Temps started out mild, close to 20 degrees F, but the wind picked up as the day went on.

In the big tent, I met a bulldog named Surly.  The Loppet is a dog friendly event.

Our pouring crew.  Turns out Nick, the tall fellow in front, works for QBP.

And I managed to squeeze in a visit to Team Surly's snow sculpture.  

Beer, helping out with a great event, and hanging out with some pretty cool people.  All in all, a pretty great day.

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, 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 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.