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Bad Bicycling Luck

Last weekend, my feet hurt (long story, but running down the stairs at 1:00AM because your dog is having a seizure can cause your plantar fasciitis to flare up. Who knew) so instead of a grueling mountain bike ride, I took a nice easy loop around Marshall-Cottle park.

Bad idea.

My tires were like pin-cushins. So many goat-head thorns were picked up that I was stuck with two flat tires. Poopies.

I counted at least 8 in my front tire, and 3 in my rear (I guess the front tire cleared the path so my rear didn’t get hammered.

Today I replaced both tubes, and put in Mr. Tuffy strips (something I should have done before the first ride), and I expect to not be bothered by this again.

I should be thankful that 6 weekends of riding without any protection were blissfully trouble free. But I was cursing the shrubs that drop those bastards the entire walk home…

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Music Embarrassment – King Crimson

I have been on a nostalgic twist in music lately, reliving my early days of prog rock fandom, and reminiscing about all the vinyl I used to have and got rid of in my flurry of moves in the 1990's. Ah good times indeed.

There is one classic prog rock staple that I am embarrassed to admit that I have never owned any of their albums, but have followed many of the band members' later careers. I speak of King Crimson. Greg Lake, Robert Fripp, Pete Sinfield (who was credited with writing in the ELP realm), are among the many illustrious artists who were instrumental with the rise of Prog Rock.

So I am adding King Crimson to my collection, and kicking myself for not doing so earlier. Now listening: In the Court of the Crimson King. Very very tasty.

California Living

For those new to this channel, I relocated back to California after a 11 year detour through Arizona. Having been back now for almost 6 months, I have some observations as a new outsider.

California in general, and Silicon Valley in particular is like no where else in the world. Great climate, diversity of cultures, high tech and ghetto all blended together.

Some thoughts:

  • Apartment dwellers with nice cars – I have little choice but to park my car (a Honda S2000) in the parking lot at our temporary apartment. But walking through the lot, there are plenty of BMW 5 series and 7 series cars, as well as Mercedes. These are people living in crappy, 40 year old, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartments, that are decidedly budget for the area. I guess the adage car rich, house poor applies.

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Bicycling Magazine – what are they smoking?

Since I renewed my Performance club membership (hey, 10% back is totally worth it), I get a “free” subscription to Bicycling Magazine. As with the last time I got this for free, I am seriously questioning their priorities.

I understand that it is tough to publish a relevant print magazine these days. Attention spans are infinitesimal, and the value of advertising is low enough that you need to just cram your rag with ads to break even. Add to that crappy editing, and little spend for quality articles, and you get a schlocky publication.

The highlights for this issue, December 2014:

  • Safely signal turns – Really, in a magazine you have an article on hand signals? For f*ck’s sake, I learnt this by the first grade, and again in driver’s ed. But after riding in Arizona for almost 11 years, clearly it is no longer taught to kids.Turn Signals

Mac versus PC – Longevity, Lifetime

I live a schizophrenic life. For work I am coerced into a PC world. Windows, AD Domains, MS Exchange, and all that lot. But for my home and personal work, I am a devotee of the cult of the Mac. My wife and I both are Mac users, and here are some observations from a long time use perspective.

Work – HP Elitebook 2560P

My work laptop was issued to me when I joined in 2012. It is an HP small form-factor laptop. It has a 160gb Intel SSD, it came with 4G ram (which I upgraded to 16 at my own expense), it is not an ultrabook (it is as heavy as my 15″ Macbook Pro).

It came with Windows 7 enterprise, 64bit. It has a lowish performance core i5 processor. Of course it has all the work mandated items on it that hinder its usability. Full disk encryption, and a bunch of startup macros that really make this thing a slug.

As the laptop is now near 2.5 years old (it is a 3 year leased system) it is beginning to show its age. The graphics chip “blacks out” for a few seconds occasionally. The boot time is now approaching the speed of a spinning disk (I have about 140G of programs and data on it, so free space is running low. And, no, I don’t have any music on the system).

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Apartment Living – Discarded Drug Paraphernalia and Unauthorized Laundry Room Use

In this episode, expanding upon the use of Swisher Sweets as wrappers for cannabis, we examine a couple of other items of detritus, and abuse of the provided facilities

Item 1 – used hypodermic syringe

While walking our dogs the other day, my wife stumbled across a discarded hypodermic syringe in the bushes at the edge of the apartment compound. Of course it could have been a diabetic’s insulin syringe that just got carelessly tossed. But I doubt it.

Yep, IV drug use in the complex. Not too surprising given our location, the gang activity, and the borderline poverty that surrounds us (wild to think that in a neighborhood where you can’t touch a single family home for less than $650K, you have to deal with this crap)

The new near-homeless

A continuation of a series on our (hopefully) temporary apartment living experience. This episode is around the increasing number of people who are living in their vehicles.

Not quite the overt homeless living rough, these are people with enough resources for a camper, or a van large enough to sleep in.

Walking the neighborhood with our dogs, we see cars that are being lived in. A couple of campers/small motorhomes (those built on a van chassis), and at least one full size van and an SUV. They park late afternoon, and have heavy curtains up. They are in a different location every night, but there is a repeating pattern.

They try to be as innocuous as possible. No noise, the curtains keep the interiors blocked from sight.

In the morning they move and are gone, to return later to a different location.

Life on the edge of poverty in Silicon Valley is indeed tough.

Cycling: Road vs. Mountain

Today, since I didn’t want to deal with the muck on the trails, I dragged the road bike out of the closet, dusted it off, and headed out for a ride.

It has been only a month or so since I last rode it, in the interim focusing on the mountain bike and offroad riding. Slinging a leg over the ol’ Lemond was a bit of a rude awakening.

First the good. 700C tyres and 120psi means that you have a lot less rolling resistance. You almost feel super human in the speeds you can attain, and cruise at with little extra effort. Of course the first 1/3 I had the wind at my back, and that of course adds to the superman effect.

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Drugs Inc. – An at times brutal view of the drug trade

Life with Netflix Streaming is never dull. As they increase their library, and more importantly, improve their algorithms for matching what I would like, I get some great recommendations. One such recommendations is a show on the National Geographic Channel called Drugs Inc.

Netflix is missing the first season, but I practically binged on the two seasons that are available. In a nutshell, it is a behind the scenes view of the narcotics trade from production, transportation, trafficking, and a look on the users and communities that are the end users.

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Music Appreciation – Keith Emerson

When two progressive rock (prog rock) fans get together, there is really only one question that matters. Wakeman or Emerson.

If neither of these names rings a bell with you, then you might as well navigate away now.

The question is who do you prefer, Rick Wakemen (keyboard player from Yes, and who has had a prolific solo career with probably 100 albums), and Keith Emerson, master of the modular Moog. Two different styles, yet inextricably linked to the genesis of the Progressive Rock phenomenon of the 1970’s.

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