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I haven't had a chance to ride to or from work in ages, due a combination to meeting schedules, weather, and evening conflicts.

Jocelyn has a new circus class on Sunday mornings in Somerville, and needs to be driven there, because there's no train. So, this week I had the plan, drive her to Somerville, continue on to work, and then bicycle home! It was eerie at work -- I was the only car in the parking structure (thus scoring a parking place closest to the gym entrance), and there wasn't anyone in the building (I stopped in to use the restroom and put my lunch for Monday in the fridge).

It was cold and clammy at the start of the ride; wearing my fleece turned this into hot and muggy. Bleah. This may have contributed to my lame performance.

Today I rode in after an early morning meeting. (I'm kind of getting tired of all these morning meetings with Europe and Asia... Oh well. Gotta finish this before sleeping for tomorrow's early morning meeting!) More ordinary performance. I had a bit of a problem after a pit stop -- something I did in locking or unlocking the bike or moving it into or out of the bike rack disengaged the chain from the rear derailleur in a weird way that was really hard to disentangle. I was concerned at first that I'd completely broken the bike and would need to call for rescue, but I managed.

I added up my previous week's exercise mileage (with increasing size of error bar, since I hadn't recorded it, and had to just remember), and it got me to a hundred! Yay! Haven't had one of those in a while either. I'd wait and get accurate mileage for later, except we're getting a visit by the remnants of Jose and it'll rain all week.

Tuesday: 7 RT to bank
Wednesday: 13.8 RT to new yoga location
Thursday: 5.8 short exercise loop
Friday: 9.81 RT to other bank and store
Saturday: 14.48 RT to Mansfield library
Sunday: 25.64 in 2:28 for an average of 10.3
Sunday: 0.75 dorking around after adjusting front derailleur
Monday: 25.82 in 2:23 for an average of 10.8
Total: 103.1
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Perry does not like mint. Perry needs those little flosser things to get between his teeth, he's not competent with a length of floss.

Stores have only mint flossers. Ten different types of bags of flossers and ALL MINT. Several different flavors of mint, but, ALL MINT. Feh.

I bought them online before, and I had to do it again. This will no doubt happen again next year. Fortunately Amazon remembered which brand I bought so I didn't have to go through the searching again...

Next up: Canisters. We bought many klik-klak canisters 20 years ago and I love them. But, they have aged, kids left them by the stove and they melted a little, some are cracked, etc., and they are no longer air-tight. So we bought a couple of small klik-klak canisters to replace and augment the stash.

Uh oh. They changed the design! The old design had a little lip that the lid fit into, and it was just wide enough to get your thumb under, so you could pick up the canister with one hand. No more! Now instead the sides are completely smooth, and there's no place to stick your thumb. So, it needs two hands. This is less convenient! Especially since mine are on a lower shelf in the cabinet. Now I have to bend over twice! Feh.

I haven't done the web or visiting stores research to look for a new brand yet. So my sugar is a solid lump and my flour is kind of damp. At least so far the flour has not attracted bugs. When that happens I'll be forced into action.
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A couple of years ago, the church had a kids activity that involved carving Ivory soap into shapes. This generated soap shiffles. When I picked up the kids, one of the organizers lamented that she was going to throw out all this soap. So I volunteered to take the bag.

Years pass. A few weeks ago, it was raining and we were bored, and I said, "I know! We can play with the soap shiffles!"

My idea was to put a little water with them, stir, and make into soap cakes. Well, it turned out to be soap cupcakes! I put a weight on one of them to compact it more, thinking that would make it work better.

Jocelyn decided to try heating hers in the microwave in hopes she could glue it together. This also worked, and she made a couple of balls. One time she left it in the microwave a few extra seconds, and it began expanding wildly. So, we tried more microwave experiments. One tiny chunk of soap turned into a HUGE confection. Which, naturally, weighed hardly anything.

So far we've tried the compacted cupcake and the largest melted ball. Both of them get our hands clean...

Pictures of the results, while we waited for them to dry out. I left them for a few days before trying any. Someone thought the cupcakes warranted an addendum...

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The day after the eclipse, we planned to go to Crater Lake. I had gotten tickets on the boat at 3:45.

The Crater Lake web site is really stupid; it implies there are boats when there really aren't. They say there's a 3:30 boat too -- which there is, on weekends. But not Tuesdays. This caused us confusion at the start, because I checked for 3:30. Also, you can't just click on "get tickets" like a normal web site, instead you click on "request reservation", and a day later it tells you there aren't any tickets. Indeed, I only clicked on 3:45 as a lark after 3:30 said it was sold out, and was surprised to get tickets then. The schedule is seemingly also stupid: the previous boats are at 1:30 and 1:45 (but probably there's no 1:30 boat either on weekdays). I'd been thinking that might be too early for us since it's a 2+ hour drive from Bend.

We planned to leave Bend around 11, drive to the visitor center, poke around, take in the view from the rim, and then get to our boat.


The Crater Lake website gives dire warnings about how difficult the trail down to the boat is, and had scared me into thinking I needed both hiking boots and a hiking pole to make the trek. So, first we discovered that I'd left my hiking boots at home, and so I only had the sandals I'd traveled in. Crap. Fortunately that was early in the morning, so we had time to find a sporting goods store. I decided in the end to buy sneakers -- my regular sneakers at home had recently become less functional, so I was in the market for new sneakers anyway, and there was a pair I liked. We had some other shopping needs, and managed to get on the road just about 10:45 as originally planned.

Google Traffic was telling us about a few slowdowns on the road south, and said it would take 2.5 hours to get to the visitor center. We hit the first traffic jam after about 30 minutes of driving. We asked Google about it, which said it was an "8 minute delay". We got an update on the time to the visitor center: 2.5 hours. Hm. Traffic cleared up, we drove fast briefly, and hit another slowdown. Google again said "8 minute delay" -- and again 2.5 hours estimated to the visitor center. This pattern continued, with some of the delays clearly being much longer than 8 minutes. Our theory became that it always said 8 minutes, it was just that several of them were contiguous! At some point we gave up on the visitor center and put in the boat trailhead, which was closer (fortunately). We finally made it to the trailhead at 2:45, which the website said was the last minute to check in before hiking down.

In fact, the hike, while it is indeed a mile, is a very well-graded wide trail at about a constant 10% grade. Nothing like what they were warning us about. I'd been thinking I'd be scrambling over rocks and nearly breaking my neck or having trouble with my wonky knees. We made it in well less than the hour predicted.

Jocelyn went swimming! It wasn't nearly as cold as I had expected, at least not right by the shore.

The disappointing thing about our particular trip to Crater Lake was all the local wildfires had made the air so smoky that it was impossible to see across the lake. From the rim, you could barely make out waves on the water. We would have been very disappointed at the visitor center, and if we hadn't had the boat ride. I was kind of disappointed anyway, because I'd remembered the jewel of the lake surrounded by the cliffs being so pretty, when I was there in my teens.

The boat goes around the lake near the shore, and the guide gives a narration of the formation of the lake, the local Native American legends that demonstrate people were living in the area at the time of various explosions, descriptions of certain rock formations that we're passing and how they formed, how old they are, etc. It was pretty cool, and pretty informative, and probably repeated anything we'd have learned at the visitor center.

Wizard Island was less interesting looking than I had expected -- it's pretty new rock and so it isn't covered by plants yet. It has some trees, but not a lot. The Phantom Ship rock formation was pretty neat up close.

On the drive back north to Bend, we saw more poor slobs going south in what looked like worse traffic than we'd experienced. So while there wasn't much traffic apocalypse getting TO the eclipse, there was plenty getting home! We were also glad to get back north of the wildfire smoke, which had been pretty thick while driving as well.

nosrednayduj: pink hair (Default)
Yesterday some friends of ours were having their annual summer BBQ. Valerie and I planned to go, and I decided to bicycle there and get a ride home. It's 41 miles, which is a bit much (especially after a week of not biking), and part of it is through the city, so I decided to do it in three parts: Bike to Forest Hills, take the T, and bike from Wonderland. That gave me a 16 mile segment at the start and a 12 mile segment at the end. It could have been 10 miles, but I let Google detour me onto bike routes along the north shore coast. Then I got lost in Salem by getting disoriented about which corner I was on and took a wrong road, so it was 13.

28.71 in 2:41 for an average of 10.6. There was a lot of stopping and checking maps and phone, plus for the shoreline parts I had my choice of being run down by cars or sharing the wide boardwalk with pedestrians and other cyclists. The latter is safer, but slower. It was 11.6, I think, at the end of the first leg.
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I started to make it a whole travelogue of the trip, but then decided that I'd just post what I had and worry about Crater Lake (about which I have much to say) later. So this is just the eclipse part. Which is the coolest bit, of course. No pics of totality, I tried to get one but it turned out strange. I shouldn't have bothered, there wasn't enough time at totality as it was!
nosrednayduj: pink hair (Default)
I'm really scared about the traffic and really feeling stupid about my carefully laid plans. Gang oft aglay!

But, one can still have fun with a partial because little copies of the crescent sun will be in amongst the shadows of trees. You can make your own little shadow generator (really, pinhole camera), by simply crossing your hands at the fingers with little gaps, and letting the sun shine behind you. Look at the ground and there will be four little crescent suns in the shadow of your hands!

Maybe people will think it's a gang sign -- you can be in the gang Eclipse Nerds.

nosrednayduj: pink hair (Default)
The Sharon Triathlon was today. We watched people bike and run past our house for a while. When it seemed like it had been a while since the last bike, I hopped on mine and rode the course. I usually do this a little later, today I had to dodge runners so my start was a little slow. Then I sped up and rode as fast as I could -- well sometimes I noticed I was slipping, and had to remember I wasn't to coast downhill, but shift up and pedal. Anyway, 12.34 miles in 53:01 for an amazing (for me) average of 13.9.

This puts me about 420th in a field of 450. And I didn't start by swimming half a mile, or need to save energy for running 4 miles. In "Women 55-59" I'm in between #9 and #10 (of 10.)

Oh well. Never mind. I'll just stick to distance, and be happy I can ride 20 miles, which most people can't...
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I'm posting this from my kindle, testing it as a computing platform, thinking not to bring a real computer. It's better than the phone because it is larger, but the O/S stinks. I read on the net about hacking your kindle to be regular android, but somehow I doubt I'm going to bother.

Chaos is erupting; we learned that the town of Madras, where we thought to view the eclipse, is expecting 100,000 visitors. We think maybe we should not be part of that. Unfortunately, we made a tactical error in choosing a nice rental house an hours drive from centerline, outside of totality, rather than a crummy motel inside totality. If we were anywhere inside, we could give up on centerline and just walk. However, we will have to drive, somewhere. We are thinking to go a little further east and then go as far north as traffic will allow, and in any case, to get up way early to do it. Cross our fingers that it will work!

Better bike

Aug. 3rd, 2017 10:15 pm
nosrednayduj: pink hair (Default)
Tire held air all night. I rode in to get the car I'd sent north, and it held air the whole ride, too. Yay. Went a different way than usual (the "inside 128" route) because of known construction on the "outside 128" route, but it turns out to this destination, that route is longer. Either that or I don't know the efficient thing to do at the end. Anyway, 24.60 in 2:15:50 for an average of 10.8.

This brings me to the first 100 miles in 7 days in a long time!

Friday 11.7
Saturday 23.50
Sunday 3.77
Monday 26.25
Tuesday 14.2
Wednesday 0, because the tire was still flat
Thursday 24.60

Total 104! I didn't even need the little Sunday blorp.

Circus, too

Aug. 2nd, 2017 11:08 pm
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Tonight we went to The Cirque Us, who were performing in Somerville (at the same place Jocelyn performed three days prior!) They are really great. Technically skilled in all the arts, and they are very silly. A lot of "breaking the 4th wall". They totally look like they are having a BLAST while they're doing their tricks in the air or flips on the ground, where many other circuses the artists look like they're concentrating very hard. These guys make it look easy and fun. Anyway, I recommend taking a look at them when they come back next year, or if you happen to be in one of their tour locations (they were stumping for western mass this weekend at the end of the show).
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I drove the car in Monday and biked home. Unfortunately, I got a flat about halfway home, ran over some shrapnel. I managed to change the tube for a spare and get back on the road after only 1/2 hour delay, and had left enough time that it didn't get dark before I got home.

Tuesday morning I had scheduled an 8am meeting (on the phone from home), and a 12:30 meeting (in person in the office). This left about 4 hours for the ride in. No problem, since it takes less than 3 most of the time.

However, when I got to my bike at 8:30, the tire was flat again. Crap. So, I get out another spare tube. No problem, I think, I have a whole hour for this job. But, I was not sufficiently careful with the tire irons, and I sliced the new tube. Crap! Now I have three tubes with holes. Patch kit time! I find the problem with the 1st spare tube, which is that it had a slow leak around a previous patch. Slow enough that it got me 12 miles of riding the previous day, but not an overnight. I'm not sure I can patch that, but I threw a patch on it anyway. The slice in the other tube was obvious. I put a patch on it. Stick that tube in the tire on the wheel, inflate, seems to hold. Put the wheel back on the bike and get going. It's just after 9:30. If nothing goes wrong, I can bike to work and get a shower and make the meeting.

But, you guessed it, something goes wrong. After about 8 miles, I hear a squeak every wheel revolution for a few revolutions and then a hiss. WTF??? Yeah, flat. I don't have time to do the whole pop-the-tire-off and replace the tube -- and besides I'm pretty suspicious of the tube I patched the patch of. So I try just inflating it again, and it seems to be holding some air. I ride a mile and check. MAYBE it's lost a little? I can't tell. I put some more air in. I call home, and get the kids. Great, Valerie's out for a bike ride! Well, I'll go another couple miles. Still holding. But I'm getting pretty nervous about it, and all this fussing is costing me time; I think I'm not going to make it to work on time even if the tire holds.

Eventually I reach Valerie after another iteration and a couple more miles, and she agrees to rescue me. There's traffic on the way to pick me up, so that takes a while. At least I had my book. Then there's a little traffic on the way to work. I make the meeting, but only barely!

Today I spent more time on the tires. Fixing bikes when you're in a hurry just isn't a good idea. The original flat was a simple hole from the shrapnel that I got around to looking for and I patched it. The 2nd flat was the patch on the sliced hole failing, I think I didn't do the "rub it with the sandpaper" thing before sticking on the glue, and that really is important. I peeled it off and replaced it.

I let the tire sit with the new tube in it for many hours. Looks like it's holding. And I get another chance to try again tomorrow... Same schedule only shifted. 9am meeting at home, 1:30 meeting at work... Hopefully it'll work out better than Tuesday. (Also, I'm not going quite all the way, the car will be about 3 miles closer in the usual Waltham location.)

Monday: 26.25 in 2:31:46 for an average of 10.3 (slow because I was tired after the flat fixing, I think)
Tuesday: 14.2 in many little spurts, surprisingly the average was 11.7. But I think that's cuz I got to skip all the uphill at the end, and the uppy-downy bits in Newton, being rescued in Dedham.
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Yesterday, Jocelyn performed in Esh Circus Arts Student Showcase after her 3-week program. She had to be there in the early afternoon but the show wasn't til 8. So I drove her there, and bicycled home, so we'd have a car with a good parking place! Then we ended up driving in a second car, because she wanted to attend the cast party, which entailed an adult killing a couple of hours after the show and driving her home -- so we needed the second car. But there was parking anyway.

The bike home wasn't any great shakes average-wise, because it was urban riding for a good bit.

23.50 in 2:11:28 for an average of 10.7

Esh shows are very artsy. So there was more theater than acrobatic tricks -- though there were plenty of great tricks to go around.

Then, today, we went to the Circus Smirkus tour show in Waltham. This was not artsy, but much more acrobatic and clowny. Those kids are great. Jocelyn's great too, but she's applied twice and not gotten in. I think she needs more floor acro skills. The whole-group acts have a lot of acrobatics in them, people casually doing flips and cartwheels as they dance around the stage. Well, seemingly casually!
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We hope it's fixed, anyway. We called them about the overtemp alarm and they could take it yesterday, and they were able to fix it by today! So, I went and got it. Unfortunately while they were hooking it up to the van, apparently the mechanism didn't catch around the hitch ball, and so when I drove out of the driveway and there was a little bump entering the road, it DETACHED from the van! There was some yanking and noise and I could see it skewing around wildly behind the van. I pulled over immediately and went out to investigate and sure enough, no longer attached. First time those safety chains have been invoked!

I ran back to get someone to help, because although probably I could have lifted the trailer while I was running on adrenaline, I didn't want to do it alone in case I slipped or something. I also kind of wanted to show them their screwup... Three guys came over to help and they quadruple checked that it was connected before I went on my way.

No damage to boat or trailer, minor damage to the bumper of the van -- which I'd slammed into with the Leaf two years prior so it's not like it was any great loss. I decided not to make a claim against their insurance -- it was their fault, because they are the ones who actually did the hookup. Maybe it was also my fault for not checking that it was hooked, but I figured they do this every day. I've had the mechanism not catch before, and I could always tell it wasn't working so I would try to re-seat it until it was solid. But, like, the van's 11 years old and I don't care what it looks like. Cosmetic damage is great: it keeps thieves away.

It's still in the driveway because we're being cheap and waiting til the boat ramp police go home at 7 so we can launch for free.
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Today I did many things. Most of them were interruptions for another thing I was in the middle of. "Let's see, I'll just do this and ..." "Squirrel!" "Well, guess THAT didn't happen!" Or, "3 hours later...." I think I popped the stack enough times. But there were things I wished to get done that did not happen.

The boat is fixed! Housemates went and got it yesterday, and we launched it, but it was really windy and boat-wake-y, and the waterskiing was pretty random yesterday afternoon (plus I was really tired from my bike ride). This morning we tried again, though it was hard to get people interested. Unfortunately it was slightly windy then too, and there were some boats, I guess 10am isn't early enough. The wind dropped during the day, and I noticed a few times that there happened not to be a bunch of boats churning it up, but no doubt by the time I interested enough people it would have become churny again.

Unfortunately the boat may have yet another problem, because we got an overtemp warning, so maybe the water pump is flaky or the water system is clogged. We checked the intake, and it was clean, so we don't know. If it happens again we have another thing to try.
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There was a rally about climate change in Providence today, outside the convention center, where there was a Governor's meeting going on. It was small, only about 150-200 by my quick estimate. There were some speakers, and some chanting ("No more pipelines! No more fracking! Send the oil barons packing!"); the whole thing lasted about an hour.

Valerie and I went down on the train (seems wrong to drive to a rally about climate change...), and I brought my bicycle! I had printed a set of maps and directions, plus I had my phone. It was hard to get settled onto the route, though, the roads never seem to match the map and directions. So there was a lot of stopping and pushing the "find me" button on the phone. Plus a stop at dunkin' donuts for lunch. All in all it took about 3 hours elapsed (I didn't look exactly when I left the rally). I picked up some speed at the end, when I'd gotten back into familiar territory and there wasn't so much stopping.

26.45 in 2:23 for an average of 11.0, which isn't too bad. Not much in the way of hills except at the very beginning, and even those were mild. And don't forget the 2.2 mile jaunt to the train station at the start!

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We keep our house warmer than average in the summer. Partly this is because our downstairs A/C broke last year and we chose not to fix it. But mostly it's because we're green.

Unfortunately, we learned the first year we had fish that "tropical" doesn't mean "82" and there was a huge fish die-off during a heat wave. The next year we kept an eye on the temp and changed out water sometimes when it was getting too warm, and then we stuck a small fan on top of the tank to evaporate water and cool it that way, but it was a pain to get it in position. This year we have upgraded that solution. Ken took three small fans from a computer, and wired them up with a 3-way switch so we can have any amount of cooling we need, and screwed it to the lid so it was aimed in the right place all the time.

nosrednayduj: pink hair (Default)
Nothing was on the calendar for today! So, Ken and I went bicycling. We went up Blue Hill. 10 miles to get there, one mile straight up, one mile back down, 10 miles back home. Before the ascent my average was 12.6. After it was 10.5. Strangely, it was 10.6 when I returned home. I thought the base of the hill was the same elevation as home, so my average should have improved a little, I'd think. But, the down is not really very fast because it is littered with potholes, parents, kids, dogs, horses, horse poop, other bicycles... And there was some dorking around because we stopped at the hardware store on the way home and the parking lot is large and slow. So, that's my excuse.

Turns out we actually had plans, because some of our many guests from last weekend are stopping back here after a camping expedition and before their airplane tomorrow, so we need to feed them. So I made vast food for dinner (which now just needs to bake for an hour), and also plan to make vast food for dessert because tomorrow there's a square dance and I want to bring some snacks. So I need to have decoy snacks by making a double batch or there won't be any for tomorrow.

Food and bicycling, my default hobbies :-)
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I drove it a bunch this weekend, towing many children on a tube, who all had a good time, and the elder of whom kept asking for "faster", but there wasn't any faster to be had. I tried to waterski, got up on two but not one, and when I thought about dropping the 2nd ski, seemed like I was kind of sinking a lot and might not have stayed up. Jocelyn got up on one, but said that the ride was more work because she was plowing through the water so much.

The shop had said it was fine to drive it in this "running rough and not giving all power" state, even said it might be good for it, blow out crap that was in the carbs. But, no go. I ran through about 8 gallons of gas, I'd say. Put in the gas conditioner they'd given me last time, even. Hope they're done by the 23rd! I told him about the party and he seemed to think there would be no problem having it ready.
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