Saturday, December 29, 2007

Snow Biking

I explored the trails at Holmberg Park this morning. What a workout. The paths had compressed snow from hikers and were 6-12 inches wide which meant I swerved into the deep snow quite often. I rode back and forth on the trails for an hour. There are some trails that are quite steep. I avoided them but I may go back in the summer when it's much more navigable. The studded tires performed well. Going uphill was a challenge because the rear wheel would spin out. I found I could power out of that situation most of the time, hence the great workout. I kept the bike in 2nd gear the entire time. I found that gear with a 90-120 cadence kept me in motion well enough and allowed me to really hammer the pedals when I needed to.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

An excerpt from the Department of Homeland Security web site:

"While there continues to be no credible information at this time warning of an imminent threat to the homeland, the department's strategic threat perspective is that we are in a period of increased risk. All Americans should continue to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings, and report suspicious items or activities to local authorities immediately."

Our National Threat Advisory has been elevated since its inception and has only bumped up from Elevated (yellow) to High (orange) once or twice. We have a separate and higher threat advisory for just domestic and international flights. And all while there continues to be no credible information. How are we supposed to deal with that besides remaining incredibly frightened?

About once every 100 million years an asteroid hits Earth and wipes everything out. The last one hit about 60 million years ago. Holy shit! Do you realize our Death from Unknown Masses, Bodies, Asteroids and Spherical Structures threat advisory is elevated? Please join me in getting a hard hat and binoculars and vigilantly watching the skies for suspicious signs of big frickin' asteroids headed our way. Then we call the local authorities. And if they call us "dumbass", we'll be comforted in knowing that they know exactly what we're talking about.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I am never surprised, but continually amazed, at religion's claim to hold dominion over what I call The Way Things Came To Be. (I'm referring specifically to Christianity, but others apply as well.) You'd think that what we've learned about our physical universe would have resulted in a very enlightened mankind, but even today we have people who believe the world is only five or six thousand years old. Science perseveres despite the "truth" found in the Bible and other religious texts and stories, yet it still takes a beating even today. I think the greatest disservice religion does to itself is promoting ignorance by putting faith over fact. And that's why I'm not surprised. Scientific discoveries diminish religion's significance by providing solid evidence over a text of myths, legends and history. Religion puts up an awesome fight. Why? Because we think our intelligence makes us special. So it follows that we were specially made by something so special we can't comprehend it like we can everything else. How ironic that the very thing that makes us special holds us back. Nice move, evolution!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kids Say the Funniest Things (The hazards of surfing)

A couple days ago Stephanie and I were sitting on the couch channel surfing. Of course, there's rarely anything good on television and I only get the limited basic cable service anyway but sometimes we get lucky on one of the PBS channels. Anyway, I stopped on the AMC channel because it was a movie I didn't recognize. We were just in time to see the character played by Steve Martin get startled by someone and say, "Fuck, man, you scared the shit out of me." Hmmm, not age appropriate for Steph so I continue surfing. Steph gives me this look and says in a mischievous sing-song voice, "I can tell Mom I learned a new word today." It was a great belly laugh for both of us.

'Tis The season

Here it is Christmas morning culminating another season of buying more stuff. How difficult we find it as a consumerist society to question exactly what we do every day, but especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, beginning back in September, I decided to remind myself every day that the purpose of Christmas was to buy stuff. While we had the occasional feel-good human interest story in the paper or on the news, the stories I noticed more often were the ones about smart shopping, how stores were doing, safe shopping, protecting the stuff you bought while shopping, and how sales were compared to this time last year. Combined with seeing the crowds in the stores--I'm just as guilty as the next consumer--made the whole idea more and more repulsive. Even at Christmas Eve Mass, our priest talked of the importance of Christ and then reminded the children about presents. Remembering way back, as a child I knew the importance of Christmas. Getting presents. This year I got a dose of reality that I feel powerless against. What'd you get?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Homemade Studded Bike Tires

Using directions I found on an Edmonton bike club site a few years ago, I made my own studded tires using sheet metal screws and a couple of old tires. They look pretty wicked. I used an old tube as a liner to protect the tube with the air from the screw heads. If you use a tube that contains the goo for sealing flats you have a pretty disgusting mess to clean up.

Since we have enough snow I thought I give 'em a spin. They worked pretty good. Got a great workout just going down to the store to get a gallon of milk--surprisingly more in the upper body than I expected. You're not getting anywhere quickly and you have to go easy on the front brake. The tires hold very well on ice and fresh snow, especially fresh snow on grass. The biggest challenge was loose, crushed snow. The front tire moved side to side from irregularly displaced snow. The back tire spun every once in a while. Overall, it was pretty manageable and very enjoyable. I hope to get a longer ride in tomorrow.