Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rule of Thumb

Any product labeled as "unbreakable" should first be tested by young children.

I'm reminded of this every time I use our step stool, a product which carried that "unbreakable" label. One of the pads on the bottom of a leg is broken off, and a cross member is likewise broken. We've had this since we moved into the house, as as "we" are painting just now,, "we"...have cause to use the step stool once again.

The step stool was fine until the kids came along, then it developed these mysterious injuries. No one knows how they happened. It's quite possible that those pesky Libyan terrorists were responsible again. Like ninjas, they sneak in, do some damage and disappear.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Here's the final Wally Crankset piece for the Red Dirt Pedalers "Wheel Issues." I promise - Wally has not taken his last ride into the sunset!

And for added snark, it's in comic sans.


Dear Doctor Crankset:

I'm a security officer attached to a classified government program. Recently, we've had reports that you've been riding a bicycle along our perimeter fence and photographing our facilities, personnel, and equipment.

Dr. Crankset, you are in violation of federal law, specifically those provisions in the renewed Patriot Act that prohibit ordinary Americans like you from prying into the operations of high-value, protected federal sites. Our security personnel have contacted you repeatedly, asking that you cease your activities. You were given a final warning on 10JULY2011 at 0835AM according to our records. We have video and audio files confirming that fact.

Two days later, on 12JULY2011 you appeared on a bicycle at our main gate at 0712AM dressed as an Elvis impersonator, demanding to be allowed entry. Specifically, you told our personnel that you wanted to "re-enter" the facility, and claimed that you were the real Elvis Presley who had been living on the base in secret for many years. The sergeant on duty said there was a strong odor of tequila about you. When he tried to take you into custody, the sequined Elvis costume tore away and you ran off naked into the surrounding woods.

Dr. Crankset, federal authorities have issued a warrant for your arrest. You will be apprehended by a federal, state, or local law enforcement in the near future. But I strongly advise that you turn yourself in as a gesture of good faith. It will go easier on you in court.


Capt. George L. Tirebiter

Chief of Security

The letter was returned to Capt. Tirebiter with this hastily scrawled message along the top:

Doctor Crankset will not be available in the near future. He is on sabbatical at the Universidad de Guadalahara in Mexico....his secretary.

Wally doesn't have a secretary. Let's hope the Mexican authorities don't have any outstanding warrants on him.


Lanterne Rouge is no more!

The Red Dirt Pedalers newsletter, Wheel Issues, has ceased publication. Susan Walker was the editor and she has other projects, other irons in the fire that demand her attention. It's been a good, long run, but my column and the publication are gone.

CycleDog originally started as a place to try out ideas for the newsletter, but it evolved as time passed. These days, it's mostly about photos and local information, and I'll stick with much of that. But I need to get back to my roots and include far more cycling stuff here.

Here's the final Lanterne Rouge piece. Wally's last contribution to the newsletter will follow.


Maestro! A drum roll please!

Susan wants something special for this last Wheel Issues. While I have a couple of good ideas, I want to write on a subject more personal.

I want to thank Susan publicly for all she's done in putting Wheel Issues together every month, and more to the point, I thank her for putting up with my occasional erratic behavior, aversion to deadlines, and bouts of navel-gazing. She has a light touch as an editor, something that any writer greatly appreciates. When she makes a suggestion, it's always a good one. Writing for her is a pleasure.

Susan asked me to start a column years ago, just after we'd both finished our League cycling instructor training. I had been writing both serious stuff and comedy for an amateur radio newsletter, and cycling was a good fit. My personal blog, CycleDog, was a laboratory for ideas that eventually ended up here. It's probably no secret that I write both Lanterne Rouge and the Doctor Wally pieces. Wally had his start over on CycleDog, and I expect that like an ingrown toenail, he'll turn up there again. CycleDog has been more about old cameras and photography recently, but that will change soon.

I've told Susan that when the writing goes well, words almost flow from my fingertips into the keyboard. It's magical, and it keeps me coming back again and again, hoping the magic will strike just one more time. Writing and cycling have one thing in common - balance - and finding that balance between work, play, and family is essential.

Finally, I thank all of you for reading - not just my stuff - but all of Wheel Issues. Writers are nothing without readers. You are the other side of the scale, a critical part of the balancing act. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Save Our Shirts!

I'm thinking we need a new charity dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Hawaiian shirts, not that there's much, mind you, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless. Since we've passed Labor Day, the 'full Cleveland' look - which includes those lovely white shoes and belt coupled with a polyester leisure suit - has to be put back in the closet until next summer.

Seriously, I have never owned a leisure suit, white shoes (other than Converse All Stars) nor a white belt. If I ever appeared in public wearing such apparel, I would expect one of you to shoot me immediately to end the misery. I'd consider that merciful.

According to Wikipedia, Hawaiian shirts are considered business wear and are suitable for all but the most formal occasions in Hawaii. We need to promote that on the mainland, too, but if it catches on, I'll have to change my wardrobe.


Tuesday aphorism

Paraphrasing Ben Franklin on voter ID laws: Is the right to vote inherent in the man or that piece of paper in his hand?

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday aphorism

The fastest way to a man's heart is a 45 caliber hollow point through the sternum.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Labor day weekend

It's a holiday weekend, and true to form, we've had a disaster here at Chateau CycleDog. It's a family tradition to have an injury, sickness, or a minor emergency every holiday and this one is no exception.

I took a vacation day on Friday. Mary and I ran some errands in the afternoon. When we returned home, the air conditioning wasn't working. It was about 100F outside and felt hotter in the house. The house AC didn't work. Nor did the electricity in the kitchen. The dryer motor turned but the heater never came on.

I suspected a bad circuit breaker, so I went out to the garage and reset all the breakers. It didn't help, so I pulled the cover off the breaker box, and began checking the power on each line. Every other line was dead. Naturally, I discovered this after a trip to the hardware store and replacing several breakers on the presumably dead lines.

So I called Wade. He knows high voltage stuff - I don't. But I learned quickly.

He said one of the lines coming into the house was probably bad. There are two hot lines and one ground. If you lose one of the hots, whatever is connected to that side will not work - hence the voltage on every other breaker rather than all of them. Likewise, the dryer works off both sides. Lose one and the motor may work but the heater will not. He came over to check with a voltmeter since I was testing with a simple go/no go detector. Sure enough, one side was dead.

Mary and Lyndsay had left to go shopping...and escape into some air conditioning, no doubt. By the time Wade diagnosed the problem, it was 9PM. I called customer service at PSO, waded through the voice menu system only to be told my problem couldn't be resolved that way, so I'd have to speak with a real person. In short order, a tech was on the way to the house! I expected to be put off until the next day or even next week, but he was here in about 45 minutes.

In a few minutes, he determined that the outside box with the electric meter showed the same problem I'd described - one hot side was dead. He went to the backyard box and found it was good, so the fault lies somewhere in between. The line is broken. So he hooked up a transformer to feed power from the working line over to the dead one. All the lights flicker when the AC turns on, so there's a heavy current load on the transformer.

I am truly grateful that PSO responded so quickly. Mary has great difficulty handling the heat, so going without AC for a couple of days was going to be an ordeal.

My biggest fear was that our ancient and creaky air conditioner had finally given up, but if we're lucky it will see us through this season. It's time for a new one, however, since this one is over 25 years old!

At least this holiday didn't involve any knife wounds, blood all over the kitchen, or similar bodily harm. I'm thankful for the little things.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 03, 2011

When you absolutely must...

...tell the world that you drive like a complete jerk, fasten one of these to your front bumper!

Mary and I were running errands yesterday. We left the neighborhood and started north on the frontage road, a two lane with a 35 mph speed limit. Within half a mile, a guy in a small car was quite nearly in our trunk. He was close enough that I couldn't see his headlights in my rear view mirror. When I slowed to turn into a parking lot, he passed us in the dedicated left turn lane.

Motorists routinely complain about 'arrogant' cyclists taking the lane and how they must feel superior somehow. But when it comes to having a sense of entitlement, a God-given absolute right to drive as fast as they wanna whenever they wanna, it's hard to compare cyclists to motorists like this one.