Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Musette

This is weird.

I met the deadline for that long piece and now I'm actually missing doing the work. I feel curiously unfocused because that process of interviewing, making notes, doing transcripts, reading tons of background material, and finally sitting down to write the beast totally consumed my time and attention for a few weeks. I hated it and I miss it. I don't like deadlines and writing 'serious' stuff requires enormous amounts of time and preparation. It really doesn't pay well if you consider it on an hourly basis. Comedy is so much easier because I can simply make things up. That's not an original thought. Patrick McManus wrote it.

A few minutes ago, my crew chief announced that we will not be working overtime this Saturday. Hooray! I've been in the shop every Saturday since the Fourth of July and it's getting old. Sure, the money is nice, but having some time off is nice too. I'm thinking about going downtown Saturday morning in order to photograph some Art Deco since Tulsa has a wealth of it. And of course, since it's right nearby, I'll look for some Route 66 photo opportunities too.

Meanwhile, there's a piece to finish for the Red Dirt Pedalers and a whole lot of catching up to do on the Examiner. The admittedly modest income from the latter is my slush fund for camera purchases, so the catching up is important. I've spent too much on Ebay recently.

Jay Cronley did his annual "bicycling is scary" piece in the Tulsa World today. This time it didn't totally suck. Wait. I went back and re-read it, and now that I've done so I must revise my opinion. It sucked. I really don't mind if someone is completely ignorant of simple ways to make riding on the street easier or even pleasant. Ignorance is what it is, and changing it can be difficult. But this guy is supposedly a writer and, to my mind at least, he should have an inquiring mind. He doesn't. Instead, he's content to write an annual piece bitching about motorists and how frightening it is to ride around them instead of looking into learning how to ride on the street safely. That learning process is another opportunity to find some column fodder and actually inform readers. But I guess if I can piss and moan about writing 'serious' stuff and the time it takes, I should give him a pass for taking the easy way out too.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Konica Auto S2 update

Things have been busy here in Chateau CycleDog. I'm facing deadlines for three pieces, and I'm more than a little anxious about the biggest of them. It's been quite a lot of work. That's detracted from both CycleDog and the Examiner column, so if anyone's wondering, that's where I've been. Once the big project is finished and accepted, I'll paste some links. All writers are egotists, after all.

But not all has been glum. I snagged a replacement Konica Auto S2, a parts camera that will be used to fix the one I fumbled earlier this summer. This one has a very badly dented lens that - while it still works - is probably beyond repair. I'll post photos of it soon.

The real find in this one was the original owners manual with these outstanding illustrations. They are perhaps a bit overdone unless you're deliberately trying to attract 14 year old boys.

And what's with the little guy and his tiny little camera? Is he some kind of up-skirt perv?

Regardless, this too is on the back burner.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mmmmm! Coffee!

How to make coffee at 5 AM.

There's nothing quite as nice as fresh, hot coffee on an early morning commute. Here's how it's made.

First, locate the kitchen. It's a large room equipped with a refrigerator, stove, sink, microwave, and a whole lot of gadgets that serve no known function. Somewhere in that room there should be a lightswitch. Turn it on.

Locate the tea kettle, a large closed vessel meant for boiling water. Put fresh water inside it from the sink, then place the tea kettle atop the stove. Turn on the burner, being careful to see that it's really burning and not merely filling the room with natural gas. Ignoring this step can lead to a powerful explosion or slow asphyxiation. If something smells funny and it's not you, double check to see that the burner is truly on.

While the water heats, get an insulated water bottle from the cupboard. Place it on the countertop next to the stove. Be sure the open end of the bottle is facing up.

Find the Melitta one-cup drip coffee maker. It may be in the cupboard next to the coffee cups or it may be in the dishwasher. Place it on top of the water bottle which should still be sitting on the countertop with the open end facing up.

Find the No.2 coffee filters in the cupboard next to the stove. It says No.2 on the box. There are some No.4 filters in there too, but they're reserved for an advanced lesson in coffee making.

Put the filter in the drip coffee maker.

Find the coffee. It may be beans or it may already be ground. If it's ground, add 2 teaspoons to the filter. That's 2 teaspoons of coffee, not 2 teaspoons from the drawer.

If only coffee beans are available, add about 3 teaspoons to the coffee grinder. They'll be more compact once they've been ground. Turn the grinder on and after the beans are finished, put the coffee in the Melitta filter.

When the water is almost boiling, pour it over the coffee in the filter. Be sure the Melitta device is still sitting atop the water bottle and that the water bottle has its open end facing up. Add just a little bit of water at first in order to settle the grounds. Once they're saturated, add the rest of the water.

This is sometimes a tricky judgment call. If you add too much water, the bottle overfills and it slops over the side onto the counter top. One way to prevent a mess is to put a saucer under the bottle. If you add too little water, however, the coffee will be very strong and roughly the same viscosity as used motor oil.

After the water finishes dripping through the Melitta device, remove the coffee maker from atop the water bottle. Dump the filter and grounds into the trash and place the coffee maker in the sink.

Add sugar and creamer to taste - in the coffee - not in the sink. Place the bottle into its holder on the bike and prepare to leave the house. One on the street, promptly fumble the bottle, spilling the very hot contents down onto your jersey and legs. Stop and use some colorful language to express your dismay before turning around for a change of clothing.

At this point, you should be fully awake.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Canon ELPH update

This is the corner of 86th and Main in Owasso looking north along Main Street. It's just a snap shot through the windshield. That mini-van is about to turn right at the stop light, but wait! Who's over on the corner pushing the pedestrian crossing button? Why, it's the ubiquitous sidewalk cyclist!

Actually, he stood there waiting while the light cycled. The van turned right, and when the pedestrian signal said 'walk' the kid walked his bike across the intersection! Brilliant! He was a pedestrian with that oh-so-chic bicycle accessory.

Snark aside, what the kid did was both smart and legal. That's a busy intersection at rush hour.

The photo was taken with the Canon ELPH LT that I found in the local Goodwill store for a whole dollar. The film is Kodak APS 200. The upper image is the full frame, reduced to fit here as the original is over 3K pixels wide. The lower image was taken from the original and it's about 400 pixels wide.

I think, however, that I'll carry the Olympus XA2 instead of this Canon when I need a small, unobtrusive camera. While the Canon is clearly more sophisticated since it has an infrared rangefinder, a flash, and 3 different formats, I prefer the simplicity and lower film cost of the 35mm Olympus. Still, despite all that, I've been carrying and using the Yashica Electro 35 GT all summer because it has an outstanding lens. Sure, it's bulky and heavy, but so am I!

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