Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year briefly in review

I said at the beginning of the year I would try to keep better track of my biking milage. This never happened. II put more miles onto more bikes in this year than any year before, but I know I didn't break 3k, I figure something just over 2k. Whatever, I had fun.

In the early summer I bought a Surly Instigator off of craigslist and rode it for a month getting ready for our trip to Montana where we were going to and did ride our bikes in the Gravely mountain range. Flirting with 10,000 feet the riding was more strenuous than I expected but we had a great time. When we got back to Butte, our tent tried to fly away while we were aiiring it out (it rained on us while we camped in the mountaiins) but obsessive staking saved the day.

We saw a lot of family on the trip to and from Montana, and I am glad we went. 

When we got back to Minnesota I kept riding the instigator and eventually needed new tires. Forsaking the mountain tread for Shwalbe Big Apples. A kickass tire I say. not much good in snow though. 

Except for a few rides I really haven't been riding Frenchie at all this year. The instigator and the wiinter beater ride better on the city streets with the pot holes and cracked road surface. I like having a faster bike around, but I am really liking the feeling in my hands.

Shannon was sent overseas for work and I went to visit her there. and that was an awesome trip too. We went to Hong Kong, hung out in Manila, ate some fantastic foods for half a pittance. When we went to Hong Kong the first night we ordered small beers and they returned with gigantic beers to our figuring. 

After I got home I went to plays and movies and camping with my friends. I look back and see all the things that didn't go well in 2009; the car accidents, and lost loved ones and I think: this was a pretty good year.

If we can't look at what goes right in a year I don't know what to do. Here's to a pretty good year and many to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

coil on plug

Apparently the VW 1.8T engine has a bit of a design flaw.

as we have been having problems with rough idles and stalling.  Having checked the engine over with diagnostic equipment and listening to the motor the coils on cylinders 1 and 3 were found to be the culprits. two coils replaced and everything is peachy.

cars are annoying.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

All you haters...

I have managed to sell the Murray. Slightly below asking, but not so I was hurting.

You'll notice that like all my bikes, I expect the instigator to carry its weight in luggage.

Today I discovered the importance of deflation.  I rode home with the tires partially deflated and though there was increased drag, when I got going I didn't feel the bumps.

Last fall at work we got an engraving machine. basically if I can connect two points on an object it can be engraved.  So my "new" bash guard tells haters what they can do in their free time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

a recap of recent happenings

So the last post was about replacing the oil breather hose on our 2001 VW jetta 1.8T.  The very next morning after fixing this hose I had the car in the shop for 1. oil change 2. tires.  My brother had been over seas studyign and having just returned home to the states I was going to take him out to lunch.  So we piled into the Jetta and I took him into the city.  

In the middle lane on Marion on a sunny day at 11:30am, an early 2000s silverado pickup heading the opposite direction cut in front of us to enter I94 East bound.  Thus clipping the corner of the jetta, and continuing onto the Highway.

So the police come by and we fill out a report, and we tried to match the plate I read to the truck that hit us.  Not so much luck.

So we took the car to Superior Collision in Eagan and they did a great job replacing the fender, the hood, bumper, and rehanging the passenger door. The paint is perfect.

And then AAA sent the check to the wrong address. dammit.

Memorial day weekend was a blast, as we went out to Maryland to see the new nephew and my sister's other kids (and obviously my sister and her husband), and some old friends that live outside Charlotte who drove all the way up so we could hang out. 

We went to Annapolis, we went into DC, we drank in a micro brewery.  We had an awesome time. pictures to follow.

Then this past Saturday we went to see Gogol Bordello at the Cabooze.  Which was awesome.  And then we played Settlers of Catan till 1am. And when we got home finally, I hopped onto Craigslist.  And some guy was listing his Surly Instigator for less than the cost of buying the frame. 

So, after sleeping on it, today I bought another bike.

Anyone want to buy a Murray three speed?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Which is why you never fix two things in a weekend

So my super awesome plan for the weekend was to fix the oil breather hose on the car.  Hoses are pretty low key as repairs go.

The car had been have some weird idle issues but no error code, so something was wrong someplace without a sensor.  But that hardly narrows the field.  But Chester found a hole in the oil breather hose last weekend.  

The dealerships wanted 73-88 dollars for the hose, Metric Auto Parts on Smith Ave in St Paul had the best price and with tax the hose ran 71.xx.  

Then this morning I had scheduled an oil change and to get two tires put on the car because the Sam's Club specials that it had were quickly balding (I didn't buy the tires). So the car has a new hose, fresh oil, and brand spankign new tires,

Heading North on Marion have just left Kellog in St Paul, were in the middle lane And this guy heading South on Marion wanting to enter I94 East cuts in front of us.

Busted the headlight, crimped the hood something awful, busted the bumper, and caved in the fender. The Passenger front door doesn't open now because the fender is pressing against it.

pictures to follow.

Monday, May 4, 2009

crowd serfing

it was a nice weekend though.

We went to see Flight of the Conchords and it was an awesome show.

somebody pulled the fire alarm just as the last people were filing in to find their seats, so everyone had to evacuate the building.  but of course, since it was just before the concert the "be-yooup" sound was largely mistaken for part of the opening act.  further delaying the evacuation.

The stage performance was even better than the tv show, and they heckled the hecklers. he he he madam.

today I picked up tickets to see Gogol Bordello at the Cabooze.  I'm excited for some wild crowd surfing.

Last night we were talking about the amazing capital that parking garages are.  and how owning rights to bands and the venue and the parking lot across the street would make for some wicked bank roll.

epic failure

So I tried to make hashbrowns this morning.

boy did it go wrong. I didn't use enough oil or heat, and then I worried them to death.

What I did produce was something crispy on the outside, resembling library paste on the inside. Which since breakfast has turned my stomach like a cement mixer.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lunds screwed the pooch

if you send a pooch grocery shopping that is.

We were on our way home from the Big Bang Bookclub and decided to pick up some stuff to  make lunches.

One jar of Sunbutter (Sungold foods) $4.79
Two russet potatoes (99c/#) $1.40
One loaf of "a toast to bread" wheat sandwich bread $5.99

We spent $12.18 on four things.  And there was more expensive bread.

Every single one of these items is available cheaper at the co-op, and loaves from a toast to bread were $6 for three last summer at the farmer's market.

where is a salve my ass hurts

Monday, April 27, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

Netflix just suggested I get Last Chance Harvey.  Not an awful movie, but awfully predictable.  The tone was similar to Rachel Getting Married, where a family member is on a different wavelength. I think Last Chance Harvey was better than RGM but I still didn't really enjoy seeing either. I thought Dustin Hoffman was much better in I (heart) Huckabee's, and other than that I can't say anything, because I am one of the only people I know who liked that movie.

I don't get what is up with these redemption movies.  It reminds me of the morality movies like Days of Wine and Roses without the consequences.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


the neighbors are fighting again. 


"Don't you dare throw plates at me!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let them eat pie

Guy Woodhouse, my single speed mountain bike, has been taken apart for a few weeks now.  And this next two weeks will involve repainting and reassembling the little demon.

I'm gathering the new components and tidying up the old ones I'll carry over.  Some of the parts were pretty rugged when I bought the bike.  

I've been on the lookout for Phil Wood hubs for about a year.  Every morning running the familiar search on Craigslist.  I even asked how much a new one would cost. I already have mentioned the one I found.  And Shannon is going to lace a new wheel around that. So today we stopped by the shop to get a rim and spokes. And Jim had just put a slice of delicious looking pizza on a paper plate.

Which brings us to the equation for retail business:

if you buy a pizza business will come in the door, preventing you from eating the pizza.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

the dirty old man

The oldest bike we own is also the most belligerent.

A couple weeks ago I changed the tires on Frenchie. Since Sir Walter died this spring the SBR has been swollen with new components.  Not that most the parts were brand new, it's that the parts were new to the reserve.  Including a pair of brand new Panaracer tires, I've been putting the same Continental Ultra Sports on the bike since 1999 (a tire I don't think they even make anymore...) and have worn quite thin.

So I put the new tires on, and they are awesome, except that they are slightly wider than the continentals.  So I rode home from work the first day with a millimeter of fender clearance. It was like riding with a break on every time I needed to push it.  When I got home, two seconds with a vise grip  fixed a problem I have been too lazy to fix for three years.  

Then last Monday we went to Redwing and biked to Cannon Falls. 

reviewing the list of original parts on the 1972 Peugeot UO8 I ride:
-threaded headset
-quill stem
-bottom bracket cups
-seat post
-brake cable guide
-seat post bolt and nut

I still have the original rear wheel, but in storage.  Nothing too impressive and I don't much care for the wavy lines.

The seat post bolt is breaking I think.  I could not get the seat to stay. Every mile or so it would sink about a quarter inch. But I had already used my spare seat bolt on another bike, and had not replaced the one I keep ziptied to my rack! damn and blast!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

For Your Consideration, Kill!

Sword of Doom has more plok points, but this is an entertaining movie for different reasons.
The netflix synopsis was clearly written by someone who never watched the movie.  I think the tone and character are closer to The Big Sleep than the Seven Samurai.  The movie was so noir Bogart or Robinson should have shown up.

The treatment of evil is better than Pulp Fiction.  The premise of Jules' argument was a fallacy and it has always grated on my nerves.  The message here was similar but much more successful.  The multiple narratives and perspectives on purpose is a theme I like though. Shorter and faster paced than most of Kurosawa's movies, Okamoto's movie Kill! has a nice variety of dialogue and violence.

Given the choice between watching For your Consideration and stabbing myself in the arm with a fork though; tines aren't that painful, I suggest a salad fork. Best In Show and A Mighty Wind were better, and they weren't great. The trailer had been so promising but the actual film was so tedious we almost turned it off half-way through.  I don't think I have a single nice thing to say about it.

Friday, April 3, 2009


pounding on the headset with a hammer during lunch I finally got the bike dismantled.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The sneaky plan part 1

A while back I bought an early ninties Miyata mountain bike and almost immediately put studded tires on it.  I bought it second hand and slightly rusty.  I wanted a single speed bike for the winter becasue I didn't want any messy mechanical snafu on my commutes home.

So now the weather is getting springier, so it is time to give Guy Woodhouse a makeover.

trouble is, getting the rusty bits to budge.

It took 45 minutes just to knock the cranks off and remove one cup from the bottom bracket.

tomorrow morning: drive side cup, and everything else

Monday, March 30, 2009

in no particular order here are some of the pictures that did not appear in the previous post.

this post is broken

So on sunday we took to the streets and started biking for Minnehaha Park.  The falls were going great guns but the Army Corps of Engineers had everything blocked off. So we took pictures through the trees.  We met up with our friends Chester and April, and April's brother David.  And we rode out from there to The Triple Rock for breakfast.  I had french toast and we split an order of the diced potatoes with the cheese ad such.  

When we were leaving I noticed a cool looking rack.

We went back to the river but continued north to Gold Medal Park, stopping to snap a picture of the museum. I was taking it into the sun so it in general sucked.

April and David wouldn't ride to the top of the hill, but Shannon and Chester did.  The weather was so nice and clear, we could see downtown. 

From Gold Medal we went the little bit further to the Stone Arch Bridge.  

The water wasn't actually this green but playing with curves in Photoshop gave it such a color I couldn't help but save it.

St Anthony falls made Minnehaha look like a drippy faucet

From there we headed up to an eccentric island with chickens and purple houses and almost took this trail.

there is an old bridge with no cautionary signs, or railings (ha ha), so we walked out on it. 

The gaps were just the right size for a bike wheel.

or a bike.

by the time we were at Boom Island we were gettin
g silly and rode in the river a bit.

I decided that before I strip Guy down I should get a picture of the Offenders 2.0.

We took the west bank back to Gold medal park, discussing the lack of cedar lake trail on the kiosk sign when the blaze was not thirty feet away.  We met a nice prancing  New Foundland 
about the same. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I heard a disturbing sound!

My boss has been in a weird mood far the last week or so.  

We've all done our best to keep our heads low and stay out of trouble, but eventually we found out what the anxiety was about.  Our insurance, Health and Dental, was going up by 18% for the third consecutive year.  



So we've been driving with a valet key.  You buy a used car you buy other people's problems ya ya ya. We finally bit the bullet and took the car in for a second key.

and because, you see, car manufacturers in their infinite wisdom have decided that keys aren't good enough: they need computer chips!  So you have to buy the fucking key from the dealership for 50 dollars, and then it needs to be programmed so that the car will start for 60 dollars plus taxes.

But when you bring a car to the dealership and say "I have an appointment to have a key made for my '01 Jetta," service department man says "That's funny, your appointment doesn't seem to be in the computer." And then after fifteen minutes of tedious data entry, we stroll around the car counting the tires. And then instead of making the key as per our request they take the god damned wheels off. 

I know the car has mismatched tires in the back.  This pains me but I deal with it.  Not a word.  The prognosis is that the Timing belt is 15,000 miles past scheduled replacement, my spark plugs need replacement same with a tie rod and both tie rod ends.

But dammit the car has brand spanking new iridium plugs in it already. And our belts were checked by our regular mechanic just 1,000 miles ago. And 400 dollars for tie rod ends seemed a lot excessive. And we should replace the perfectly functional waterpump.

This is not the kicker though.

Matters of money service man spoke to me, mentions of safety to my wife.  We stopped going to Eriks because of shit like that, why would it be tolerated now. Finally after an hour and a half Schmelz Volkswagen returned our car to us and asked for some money in exchange for the now two keys. What a waste of an otherwise nice morning. 

On a more positive note: we drove 150 miles on a quarter tank of gas during the weekend.


I think I might have tried to poison myself.

It's okay, I got rid of it.  But this is the second time something like this has happened.

This time I made oatmeal and put it in a travel mug and didn't clean it out for a "while." 

Last time I left coffee and grounds in a percolator for three months.

Both times it was ol' weazy my gas mask that saved me. [pictures to follow, damn battery died]

I really need to be more careful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Phil the gap

A while back my boss had a new wheelchair made with Phil Wood hubs.  And they are amazing.  I've never seen him so happy with a set of wheels.

And I was poking around on craigslist, and found a tandem hub from Phil Wood for 45 dollars...

So now I have a hub without a bike.  I'm not even sure if this counts as strategic reserve since it has no rim...  to say this was bought half cocked is only the beginning.  Who the hell puts drum brakes on bike anyway?  I don't even need another hub right now, I've already got a spare wheel running around that doesn't fit any tire I own let alone a bike.  

What I am currently lusting after is the 48 hole tandem rear hub with a disk brake attachment.  I think the combination of drum and disk is sufficiently bizarre. Then again the hub did not come with the brake, so I might not pursue the drum.  It might just be too weird.

I need to learn how to lace wheels.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The enchiladas I was eating that Jim mentioned were fantastic, but too little too late.

I am pretty sure I hit a wall because 1. I was underdressed for the weather 2. caloric intake was completely eclipsed by hours on the trail.

Breakfast was 1 1/2 scrambled eggs with 1/2 oz feta cheese melted into it, a small muffin and 4 shots of espresso with 4 oz soy milk.  

What I wore was the medium weight long underwear and a pair of knee high smartwool socks, a wicking shirt a long sleeve wicking shirt and a rain coat.  for gloves I wore a pair of synthetic gloves I got from Team Ortho.

I should have worn the heavier long underwear.  I should have had a larger breakfast or mid morning snack before heading out.  I should have worn the wool shirt and mittens I was carrying in the pannier sooner. 

We had a great ride though.  I think Jim liked that I had a map of Scandinavia, and I liked that his phone told us where we were.

I think I need to work on taking longer rides.  Depending on the weather I might ride Frenchie next Monday and try to pull another 44 miles.

This post is particularly whiny.  I blame it on The Biggest Loser.  They rode a stationary bike tonight and keep bitching about how hard the seat is etc.

Monday, February 23, 2009

not quite enough for a century

Today I got in my longest single day of riding of the year.  Jim and I left from HC and tried to make it to Carver.  It was my whimpy legs that made us turn around.  The trail got less and less plowed the further we went and my excuse is the single speed lacked the gear ratio necessary for the slipping.

So my legs cramped at mile thirty or so, and by mile 40 I was aching, by the time we got to Humboldt I needed to sit down.

A damn fine ride though.

Shannon got to be the knight in shining Jetta and save my sorry ass at Uncommon Grounds.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The things they left behind

So I hadn't thought to much of the stuff in the shoulder bag.  Dirty lunch carton, old newspaper, etc.

There was also this water bottle.

For all the rooting around, the person missed a pair of Grobet pliers I had in the bag that cost me a small fortune.  Also a 9 dollar three sided ruler.  But, I am glad to still have these things.

I imagine the person standing at the Jetta finding an Eagan police water bottle and leaving.  I imagine the person power walking away.  

I was helping a repeat customer the other day and her Cannondale had been stolen.  The suburban police had made an honest effort trying to track the ten year old bike down, but some things are hard to find.

Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll bike to the Depot in Hopkins, and I'll use the new chains to secure my ride home.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

getting busy

So work has gotten franticly busy.  More and more of our competition is closing their doors, so their customers become our customers.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

is this rain, sleet or snow?

The correct answer is D. all of the above.

The ride home was quite pleasant.  I wasn't over or under dressed, the trails were clear of rutted ice.

time riding home: 40 minutes.

I mentioned before that I can't really go faster.  The bike is geared pretty low so I can get up to around 20, but faster than 16 is uncomfortable.  Where I improve is in improving the average speed by not going as slowly on the climbs.  I'll keep piling on weight to keep my time around 45 minutes though.  I am thinking it might be fun to try some of these local races, and I think of this as casual training.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Linked together

Since the car was broken into I've been thinking about things being stolen. And since Menards was selling their Kryptonite chains for next to nothing (apparently they weren't good sellers???) I have two of them now.

The added 16 pounds of chain didn't slow me down too much though. I made it home in 57 minutes compared to 45 minutes from the night before.

My co-workers think I'm crazy and that I have perpetrated an act of major overkill, but I like my bikes dammit.

Also, the added weight improved traction and momentum riding. Braking suffered on downhills, but when rolling the tires cut right through rotten ice.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The golf club

So I've been having a recurring dream since Saturday.

It has me riding my bike south along the River road towards Lock and Dam #1, which is weird because I work in the southern suburbs, and I see the person bust out our window.  Suddenly I have a golf club in my hand and bellow "pedestrian polo!"  the phrase "now I'm gonna take $250 out of your body" creeps in as I break the hand that busted the window.

a disturbing dream made worse by putting it in text...

What irks me is that we had better plans for that money which is now going to replace our window.  The glass is on order, I expected to hear from the Volkswagen dealer that it came in today, but predicting shipping apparently sucks in more than one industry.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Because I am the angel of death when it comes to cars.

Saturday I biked most of the way home from work.  But I knew the better half was also out biking so I went through Minnehaha Park to see if I could catch up.  I was about t get onto Ford when I saw our Jetta parked at Lock and Damn 1.  And some people staring at it.

Well this actually:

The ass hole who busted out the window didn't have the courtesy to steal anything.  They pulled my messenger bag out of the trunk and rooted through it...


So now we have to replace the window.  GAAAAAH!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

pub crawl

SO we went on the HC pub crawl.  And there was a high degree of awesome.

not a high degree of warm, but people were interesting and the food and drink were excellent.

I strongly suggest the tulburg.  Some wicked awseome dutch beer.

more as I am sober

Monday, January 19, 2009

shod in shoes for shlumping through the shnow

So I "accidentally" didn't use all of my vacation time last year (I had reasons for saving a day but that's another story), and took a Saturday off to balance the time out.

Saturday Chester and I went to bike around Lake Harriet.  And I went to the wrong lake.  There wasn't too much confusion since we were car pooling, but we did lunch at Isles Buns and Coffee.  The wind was wicked on the south end of the lake.  And the snow drifts on the lake made it almost completely impassable.  We walked much of the way across.

The folks at Isles make wicked good espresso.  I place the Mocha between Brewberry's and Black Dog.  

Saturday night we went to Let the Right One In.  I don't remember the last movie we liked enough to see 4 times in the theatre.  This one was totally worth seeing four times.

Yesterday we biked to the Town Hall Brewery.

And today we went snowshoeing in Eagan.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breaking Point

To whom it may concern:
In the Gold Buick Century LEGxxx, White Toyota Highlander UAVxxx, and the White Jeep Liberty and all the other folks out there to kill me recently, I'm done putting up with your shit.

From this point on every attempted vehicular manslaughter will be reported directly to the police.

You have been warned.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Even Murdoch's minions cannot deny it

So a friend posted an article from the other New York paper.  

Seems basic accounting is coming in vogue again.  Buckets with holes in the bottom are bad vessels.  Having spent an unholy amount of money on cars this past year I strongly agree: cars are a drain on resources.

Honestly.  As durable goods go, cars suck.  In a year we've dealt with a transmission, bearings, brakes and head gaskets.  We had one car die and another have a heart attack.  

If only it were easier to get across the river.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I've never been hugely into resolutions.  I've never worried too much about my weight.  I've never been too heavy into vices.  So my resolution is to keep better track.

Track of what?


Today we did a shake down ride on Shannon's winter bike.  Seems the rear brake needs "adjustment."  or a whole new unit.  The left caliper has no springiness.  So far this year my milage on the bike: > 1 mile.

Unofficial Goal: 2,009 miles