Who are we? We are our stories.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


My heart is still beating fast as I write this. I was sitting in my high back comfy chair, feet up, working on a cheap Malbec, switching between the Twins/Seattle game and re-runs of Two and a Half Men (the game isn't going too well). Outside, behind me I heard the clunking and scraping of critters getting into the bird feeders. I flicked on the outside lights and saw a couple of fat raccoons set on getting even fatter at my expensive. I'm a little hesitant to sic the pug on two raccoons. They're big and he ain't too bright. The coons and I have met in past years and we all know the drill. The deck is 8' or 10' above the ground so there is a sturdy railing around it that the raccoons can't get through. They hang on the feeders and ignore me as long as possible, then drop down to the deck and make a jailbreak for the steps. Tonight I managed to cut them off and get one big furry humper isolated on the narrow 12' long section that leads off the main deck to the bedroom door. He ran the length of it, realized there wasn't an exit and turned back ... back on me! In panic speed he came directly at me. He was trapped and scared, but so was I. There was no place for me to get out of the way. In half panic I side-stepped and flail kicked at him as he went by me. I felt a satisfying 'whump!'. I actually made solid contact with him! My Birkenstock hit him square, and he kind of rolled by me, regained his footing and clawed his way down the steps. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Scared him too, but he'll be back tomorrow. If not later tonight when I'm trying to sleep.

"I Guess I’ve Had It. George."

The Price Equation, developed by George R. Price, is a mathematical description of evolution and natural selection. If you're interested in such things you can Google it and enjoy a couple of hours wading in the primordial muck. From the American Scholar:

"In 1970, he converted from being a fiercely outspoken atheist to an evangelical Christian on unusual grounds. He felt that there were just too many coincidences in his life to be mathematically possible. They had to have been intended by God, who must have chosen him not only to convert others but also to continue with his research. How did he square his scientific views about evolution with the creation story in Genesis? Providentially, perhaps, he had concluded that God had commanded him not to sign on to belief in that story.

A second conversion experience led him to feel that God wanted him to express his love for others without concern for his own well-being. In a vision, Jesus whispered to him that he should give to all who asked of him and never ask those who took anything from him to return it. He sought out alcoholics and homeless persons, sharing what money and possessions he had, inviting some to share his living quarters. His health deteriorating, hungry and emaciated, sometimes homeless himself, he came to despair of knowing what God meant for him to do or be. In January 1975 he cut a gash in his throat and bled to death on the floor of a desolate squat. Among the notes he left, one read:  “To Whom It May Concern:  I guess I’ve had it. George.”

(If you tire of trying to deal with the Price Equation you can take a run at Fisher's Fundamental Theorem.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The %$&*! Beatles?

I read stuff. Dumb stuff. I try to make it a point of not passing it on. I often fail. Sometimes stupid just pushes me over the edge. This was from a piece from 3quarkdaily.
arE OUR WRITERS AS LOUSY AS OUR BANKERS? by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

"Urban Intellectual Fodder.

Neither original nor path-breaking, this art is derivative hommage; postmodern commentary around the edges of art.
It is art born of attitude, not passion. It is art that postures but doesn't grip. It is art created by those who are more passionate about a career in art than about art itself.
It encompasses:
1. The indie rock spawned in urban art ghettoes.
2. The visual art spelonked in Williamsburg.
3. The movies sputtered by independents hoping to get into Sundance.
4. The novels spritzed by creative writing majors from Iowa University and other environs."
"This art is superior to the cascading pile of blockbuster kitsch-dreck-crap that passes for pop culture, but only superior by a few pips.
This art sure ain't Picasso, or Joyce, or Rossellini, or the Beatles, or even Sondheim. It's more Woody Allen than Ingmar Bergman, more Joyce Carol Oates than James Joyce, more Jeff Koons than Duchamp, more Arcade Fire than the Beatles."

The Beatles? Using the Beatles as a musical standard for music? Bergman, Joyce, Duchamp, and THE BEATLES! Cilliers has completely blown his uppity, know it all, intellectual cover. The Beatles were the most popular song and dance men of their era, nothing more, nothing less. And God forbid, certainly not the best. Thank you all. I feel better now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

White's Woods

White's Woods is about 500 acres of mixed woodlands on a long twisting esker on the south shore of Lower Twin Lake about 5 miles south of our house. It overlooks half a dozen nice ponds and marshes, some fairly large. There is a lot of varied habitat so it's a good place to see wildlife, particularly birds. It's a place where we can let Bud run free without endangering either him or wildlife. When we had the two pugs they would venture far ahead and have to be called back occasionally. With his failing eyesight Bud isn't quite so adventuresome. Lucky, because calling him now would be futile anyway. We had a long enough hike to tire all three of us. As usual on a weekday we didn't see any other hikers -  completely to ourselves.

Prairie grass blending into a large cattail marsh.

Add and Bud taking a weedseed removal break.
Gunnar and Bud discussing the planned route.

Pretty little hidden pond.
Bud and Gunnar taking a break.
Bud waiting for orders.

School of skyfish. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

L'Eroica 2010 Additional Reading

"L'Eroica is an event for big old boys on big old bikes, in medium-sized old jerseys."

I am intensely interested in the L'Eroica ride through Tuscany. I suspect this will be an perennial "someday" for me. The Flamme Rouge' is the red flag, the indicator of one kilometer to the finish. I hope I'm not one kilometer from my finish, but we all need these things in our bucket that are just out of our grasp, to keep our heads down, hammering to the finish. This Flamme Rouge account from 2005 captures it quite well. Since then the 600 has grown to 3000, but the spirit is the same. We can only hope that it doesn't become a contest of 'what young man is faster' rather than 'what old man can finish'.

"The L'Eroica is Italy's equivalent of Paris-Roubaix.  Instead of cobbles you race over the strade-bianchi, the "white roads".  An intrepid band of people are fighting to keep them from being covered in tarmac.  This event helps raise their profile and keep them on the map.  I thought the strade-bianchi would be like our railway walk, smooth, shale covered roads.  In fact, Jersey's equivalent would be El Tico's car park.  Deep ruts, pot holes and industrial sized gravel.  Just acceptable for a car park but a little daunting for a public highway.

L'Eroica 2010

Over 3000 people will be riding the white gravel up and down roads of the L'Eroica vintage bicycle race through Tuscany this coming weekend. One of them is going to be our Masini. Video was stolen from Masini, who stole it from someone else.

Look close at this. What's with the left-hand drive bicycle?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sally, two doors down...

...took this photo of the one-way gravel lane that encircles Oakwood along the lakeshore.

Still Floodin'

Willie and his son Lukas. Hang in there for a while with this. It gets better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Five Feet and Rising

We had 6 1/2" of rain last night and it's still raining a little and blowing hard. The lake level is rising fast. These are a couple of boats that loosened their shackles and went on an adventure before hitting the downwind shore. It'll go down in a few days, it's just coming in faster than it can get out. Oakwood sits on a gravel knoll so we're fine. Albert Lea may have few wet basements, but it could be worse, there was 10" in New Richland to the north. The towns to the north and east that are on rivers and streams are getting pretty wet, setting records for flood water height. 

Platypus SEAL Team

Mimbres Man posted this on Facebook. It was drawn by one of his younger students. Normally I avoid cross posting (yeah, right) but this one is too good. Not only is there a lot going on, the whole concept of a platypus SEAL team is really pretty hard to beat. No adult could come up with it without ingesting hallucinogens. And yes, that is an Automatic Kalashnikov Model 1947 below the 'chute. And I'm guessing the 'pus on bridge is manning John Browning's Model 2 .50 caliber, as is the chopper nose-gunner. The lad certainly knowns his weaponry, and his monotremes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where the Lonely Go

For 40+ years I've been a hat guy, panamas in summer, Stetson's in the cooler temperatures, a 3-Forks, a couple of Wind Rivers, a black Sovereign dress hat, and an Adams, which is older than I am. I feel naked without them, but I have to say, I ain't a cool hombre in a hat. I lean more toward the goofy old man look. Somehow, wearing the same thing on his head, Haggard looks cool. That man can REALLY wear a hat.

I realize that some of these guys have drinking for hours, but "Eehah!" in the middle of this introspective, heartfelt song is damned disrespectful. I do like the Willie Nelson licks Merle throws in at the end of his break.

Rollin with the flow 
Going where the lonely go 
Anywhere the lights are low 
Going where the lonely go

Making up things to do
Not running in all directions 
Trying to find you 
I'm rollin with the flow 
Going where the lonely go 
I've got to keep rollin 
I can't lay down

Sleep won't hardly come 
When theres loneliness all around 
I've got to keep goin 
Travling down this lonesome road 
I'm rollin with the flow 
Goin where the lonely go

We Are a Little Haggard Today

This song approaches perfection.

Go Twins

The woman I live with is easier to be around when the boys do well,  when the game goes her way. The Minnesota Twins are 44 and 18 since the break; they bought the American League Central last night - magic number is zero. They are within a game of home field advantage. 
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bringing Excitement To a Dull Game

From Chris Anderson, who thought it was a "strange format".

My response to him:

"Strikes me as similar to the golf/football melding that was popular for a time a few years ago, trying to put some manly contact into the rather effete game of golf. This one is certainly upping that ante. Instead of 'Fore!', I suppose it will be 'Pull!'.

Kevlar camo golfing vests anyone?"

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Old Possum

I married the girl next door, so I knew her family pretty well. Lorna's parents were two of the finest people I have ever known. I loved them more than I loved my own parents. Her mother Florence died from breast cancer about the time we were married and for a few years Bob continued on his journey alone. He had a bad heart. One evening we returned from a walk around the neighborhood to find Bob face down on our living room floor, dead. I know George Jones released this song shortly before Bob died because when the family gathered at our house after the funeral I heard  it on the radio or record player in the background. 

I started thinking about George Jones because of our discussion of what 'soul' is in music, then because of his 'Old Possum' nickname. He has the finest voice to ever sing country music. Period. I really don't care for most of the songs he sings, nor the over produced strings, pedal steel and background singers. At 80 he may have lost range and the sweet honey in the low range is rougher, but the voice is still there. George did our county fair this year, at 80 years of age he can still sing. 

For me this is Bob's song and it still tears my heart out. Rip it out twice. One with the original George and one with the old George, as he is today.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Opossum

... was on schedule again last night. Bud actually saw it this time and he took the opportunity to vigorously bark at it.  It seemed to be a generally more satisfying experience than their previous encounter. For Bud, if not for the possum.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jack Taylor on Ebay

I posted pictures of Phil Van Valkenberg's 1964 Jack Taylor previously and now he's listed it for sale on Ebay. It's a nice example with restored paint with box lining, a Sturmey Archer S5 5-speed rear hub, a rare Campagnolo chain tensioner which allows for the two front chainrings to be shifted by a Huret lever shifter. 

I have a friend seriously contemplating bidding on it.  I hope he does. For a number of reasons it would fit really well into his stable.  And besides, I'd really like to see it up close, even though it's far too small for me to actually ride it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cha-a-a-a-a-se

Bud's an old pug. He is the surviving member of the famous pug comedy duo, Bud and Sam. Samanatha was a sweet dog, playing straight to Bud's manic antics. She died a few years ago and now Bud is getting a little old himself. He is in charge of Oakwood security and critter control, which he interrupts as boofing at passing vehicles, pedestrians and animals, rather then actually chasing or attacking anything. His muzzle is quite grizzled, his obsidian black eyes have become gray-clouded with cataracts and he's almost as deaf as a stone. I can't call him anymore, but if he is close I can still reach him with my shrill, high-pitched whistle. He still operates well within his home range, enjoying going out and smelling 'interesting' things. With his pushed in face, his olfactory system was never world class and I assume his sense of smell has deteriorated along with his other senses. 

We have half a dozen birdfeeders hanging around our back deck. Calling them 'birdfeeders' isn't completely accurate. In addition to the birds, we feed squirrels, chipmunks and crows. I don't count crows as birds, they're too smart and they act like a gang of feathered punks who can eat ten pounds of suet at a sitting. When the sun goes down the night clean-up crew comes on duty, mostly raccoons and possums. The raccoons present some challenges because they're clever, hungry criminals with hands and a mechanical aptitude. They have skills like lock picking, breaking and entering, and feeder smashing.  The suet and seed feeders are all caged and hung from sturdy chains with springloaded hasps. Sometimes they win. All the wooden feeders are gone years ago. The opossums are easier to deal with. They are dull, slow moving creatures that just waddle around cleaning up the dropped seed and small pieces of suet. But they are kind of creepy looking, like giant rats with ugly, toothy smiles.

Last night there was some scuffling outside and Lorna flicked on the outside light. "It's a possum. What should I do?"  "I dunno, let Bud out."  What followed was the slowest chase in the history of dogdom. Bud knew something was there or had been there. He "had wind of it" as the dogs say. Head down snuffling, concentrating hard, he was on the trail, tracking the possum's winding path around the deck. The fat old possum seemed to sense Bud wasn't a serious threat and he just kind of slowly moseyed away with Bud about fifteen feet behind. I think Bud was gaining, but the possum dropped over the edge of the deck into the darkness below before Bud had a chance to nab him. When we let Bud back in he seemed proud, a little extra kick in his step, his knot-curled tail snapping back and forth. He had done his job. He had sent the interloper on his way and saved the pack one more time. "Good dog, Bud!"

Sleepy La Beef

I sleep with a sophisticated woman. Listening to Junior Brown she said she could hear a little Sleepy LaBeef in it. Now anybody says Sleepy LaBeef ain't got no soul, we're gonna have to go out in the parking lot and discuss it.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Junior Brown: No Constraints

First, turn up the volume. Loud. Really loud.

Junior is almost stridently anti-cool. I admire that. It exhibits true cool, confident inner cool. I know for a fact, THIS MAN HAS NEVER SUFFERED, and it shows.

Sittin On Top of the World

Jimmy Martin, also featuring Vassar and the much hated Bela Anton Leos Fleck.

Emergency Bluegrass Intervention? Go to the true Church.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hillbilly Jazz

Vassar Clements died in 2005. He could really play the fiddle, particularly bluegrass and what he dubbed 'hillbilly jazz', improvised string music based on bluegrass, what bluegrass should have became. IMHO. On the first piece off an LP he was probably at his strongest. His health was failing on the live bluesy jam and his energy was slipping, but it's still pretty good stuff.

"Hey old man, put down your fiddle and bow, strap on this electric mandolin and show us some soul."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marlene Bibeau

I met Mark and Jane Stonich through my daughter. When she was in college, Addy worked in a home for ladies who needed just a little help dealing with their life. Mark and Jane Stonich  live next door to the home and occasionally stop by their neighbors just to make certain everything is going okay. Last month one of the ladies died. I am taking the liberty of posting the following edited from an email from Mark to Addy and myself, to celebrate Marlene's life and to thank Mark and Jane, and all the other wonderful people who give of their time and energy to help their friends and neighbors. 

"Marlene was healthy, by her standards, until about a week before she passed away. When born she had a typical life expectancy of 20 years. She managed 71.

At the viewing they had a monitor running a loop of still photos of her. Always smiling, even as a baby. It was clear from the photos that her family was very active and included her in everything. Pictures of her on toboggans and in boats etc. Even recently she had a niece who would pick her up and bring her to soccer games.

However until she got her first powered chair, about 25 years ago, she had zero independence. This is why she would get pissed off when new aides thought they needed to accompany her on her excursions. She loved to go wherever people were working, especially tree trimmers. If I were stuck in her chair, seeing these strong, agile men working high off the ground would have depressed the hell out of me. Maybe she did those things in her dreams.

There is a woman who lives a block north of us and owns a landscaping company that does a lot of work in the neighborhood. When I asked if she knew Marlene, she said, "She must be the one my guys call "The Supervisor"."

Marlene loved critters, any kind of critter. When our Raleigh was a kitten he would climb all over Marlene and her chair, which bugged the hell out of Toby. Most of the time I didn't have a camera handy but she always laughed like it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen.

Mary Jo handled it pretty well but JoAnne was a wreck for a while. They kept Toby. With only two women there the gov't won't pay for 24 hour staffing. So until they find a 3rd resident Ted and some of the others are sometimes there, off the clock. They have arranged it so that Mary Jo and JoAnne are both gone for a good chunk of the day. So they are rarely home alone and MJ has all the neighbors on speed dial."
Mark Stonich
Addendum!!!!!  This is Mark's next email. Mark, you are a beautiful thing. You make me feel good.

"Ted is a 24/7 saint. When he finishes work, at wages that are 1/3 of what they would be in a just universe, he goes home to care for his longtime partner. An 80 year old man in a wheelchair who is always on oxygen. To honor Marlene's memory the two of them made it all they way up to the funeral in White Bear Lake. There they sat solemnly in the church of "Hide the Pedophile" and Proposition 8 while a priest, who didn't seem to know Marlene, went on and on about how great his church and it's version of God are.

If there is a God and he/she/it decides who hits the afterlife jackpot, I don't think where a person goes on Sunday morning or who they love are going to be much of a factor.

Marlene was a terrible driver. Fearless and with lousy coordination. One day she lost control in front of our house and headed towards the street at an angle that meant she would surely tip over when she went over the curb. But while we almost never parked in front, that day Jane's Taurus was there. So like a NASCAR driver safely sliding to a stop along the wall at Darlington, she went nearly the length of the car. Her chair gouging the bodywork & scraping so much white paint off the Taurus that Marlene looked like she'd been in a Hollywood version of a snowstorm. She was mortified at creating so much damage. Until she found out that the reason the car was there, to keep her from a bad crash, was that Jane's new car had taken it's place in the garage. The Taurus was waiting to be donated to a school where students would use it to learn body work. So maybe there is a God.

When Jane informed a man on our block of Marlene's passing he said, "Probably for the best, I'd rather be dead than stuck in one of those chairs." We have known him for 35 years yet neither of us can remember him ever expressing any sort of happiness. Perhaps he deserves the pity we once, mistakenly, had for Marlene. He spends his days drinking and smoking and tending his flowers. (Beautiful flowers, showing that very few people are a complete waste of oxygen)."
Mark Stonich

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Put the Brakes On!

Apis said...
"You're going for an end-of-life bike and aren't considering Paul's® Racers? Embarrassing."


I have considered Paul Racers. I even put them post mounted on my wife's end-of-life-bike (married 41 years a today :o).  They work great, are easy to adjust and pull as smooth as silk. They are also kind of blocky looking to my eye (ugly as hell) and cost about $250. The Suntour cantilevers are maybe a little pedestrian, but they cost me $32.79. If they don't work out, I can pitch'em.

Z-Man Report No.14

"Just finished up a little project. Total cost: $1.50 in over priced bolts. Lucked out with a buddy that runs a small African djembe (sp?) drum shop. Limited resources, but still got the job done. Pretty stout rack. Holds my 145#, 50# box should be no problem. The work is picking up, still make a shit wage, but I'm on the bike for 8 hours a day. Oh, the bike is my work bike. Kona Huma I think. Pretty sturdy and just ugly enough to ride every day in Manhattan. $100, can't beat it. This hipster special is being sold. I don't care what anyone says, that is a fun ass bike to ride. Picked up a new wheel for the Kona. Nice wheel, running a 15t fix and a 23t freewheel for polo. Bizarre that I found a 120 spaced 26" wheel on craigs, hurt the team to spend 90bux on a wheel for a $100 Kona but I am pretty happy with it...Surly hub laced to a burly WTB rim, new. Anyway, just got the India visa. Motorcycles to start but may just have to revert back to the bicycle...we'll see. Anyway, good to see ya the other day. Thanks for allowing me to ride the Mclean, don't worry, I won't tell anyone. Keep me posted on your latest...like the idea of a gentleman sleeper."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pearls Cut and Pasted

The following caught my eye because when I was in high school and still had a somewhat quirky sense of humor, I circulated a Moosylvania annexation petition, which came in a Cheerios box, around the school. The petition ultimately failed, but not due to a lack of effort on my part. For you folks under 40, welcome to the olden days, where cartoons weren't 3D, weren't selling anything, and only the mouths moved. They had to be verbally funny because they couldn't afford special effects.

"According to the storyline "Moosylvania" was the "wettest, soggiest, dreariest place on Earth (you forgot useless). Situated directly between the United States and Canada 75 miles from International falls, Moosylvania had the distinction of being constantly fought over by both countries. The United States insisted it was a part of Canada, and Canada insisted it was a part of the United States." Moosylvania was the vacation spot of Bullwinkle the Moose and his friend Rocky, the flying squirrel. Bullwinkle was governor of Moosylvania. It's official sport is Farkling. Once, Rocky asked Bullwinkle why he always vacationed in Moosylvania? He responded "After two weeks in Moosylvania, any place else in the world seems like heaven." When Boris Badenov, a nefarious Pottsylvanian spy learned he had an assignment in Mooseylvania, he begged his Fearless Leader to reconsider. "Send me to Siberia, Wilkes-Barre but NOT Moosylvania!" Moosylvania was featured in the four episodes, "Moosylvania" in which Boris runs a contest and Bullwinkle wins a set of Encyclopedia Badenov, rigged to explode when opened to "Moosylvania"; and the four episodes, "Moosylvania Saved" when the stolen treasury of Pottsylvania surfaces in Moosylvania, and spy Boris Badenov turns it into the world's most popular disaster area. Jay Ward, the creator of the Rocky & Bullwinkle characters, bought a real island on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota and named it Moosylvania. Then, in an attempt to have his island adopted for statehood, Jay Ward and friend, Howard Brandy drove across the country in a Ford Econoline van equipped with circus Calliope music. They visited over fifty cities and gathered signatures from fans in support of his project. Unfortunately, their idea for statehood was soon scuttled upon their arrival in Washington, D.C. For you see, as they jokingly approached the gates of the White House to gain support for their statehood idea, they were unaware that they had arrived on the same day as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Oh well, the best laid plans of Moose and Men."


This is only a partial report. I learned so much I haven't been able to process it all yet.

I arrived at Chris Kvale Cycles early Thursday afternoon, with my McLean bicycle, a t-shirt for Chris from Jon Guinea (Chris says thanks), and a folded 8 1/2 x 11" piece of paper. I tend to forget things and the paper was a record of my thoughts for a bicycle - a sketch on one side and scribbled notes on the back. We talked for quite awhile, a little about bicycles, more about the Michigan U.P., his family, but mostly about his knees. He has worn them out with a lifetime of riding and he had another appointment in the morning with specialists discussing his options. They are not good. The surgeon can replace or repair his knees, with bone or man-made materials, and give him good mobility for walking or even casual riding. Unfortunately they really can't give him the range of motion he requires to ride a bicycle as hard as he does. He has more hope after he talking to a cartilage specialist.

I partially disassembled my McLean and Chris clamped it to a flat table and we spent quite a lot of time measuring it as a baseline for a new frame. I felt I wanted a slightly larger frame. He was hesitant because he felt the McLean "looked right" with the present seat and bar setup, and when bikes look right they usually are. The McLean is 59.5 cm center of BB to top of top tube. The two things he is most concerned with on his bikes is the bottom bracket height and the fork rake and offset - trail - far too complicated to discuss here. He maintains that straightness and very small tweaks of these, more than anything, determine how sweet a bike will ride. Eventually he decided he wanted to drop the  BB .5 cm and would add 1.5 cm to the tube length which will give me 2 cm less seat tube showing. He was also suspicious that the fork trail was a few millimeters too long. As he said, because the total distance is so small, a few millimeters is a large percentage and can really jack things around.

He said we had had enough shop theater and it was time for some road theater. We went out for a ride to critique my riding position. Two blocks from his shop we turned left on the Greenway bike path and took it east to a right on the West River Road  bike path. He continually asked questions and critiqued the hell out of me. Basically, I look pretty comfortable, ride pretty well for a big fat ol' boy, I'm a masher and my left knee kicks out with every stroke (a skiing 'mishap'). We switched bikes for a while and then returned after about 5 miles of riding, just enough to get me sweating pretty good.

Back at the shop he measured me, -  height, weight, wingspan, inseam, foot size, verified both legs are the same length, because my left shoulder is lower than the right. An interesting aside, I am 6' 3/4". I have lost over 2" of height since I was young, which means I'm even more overweight than I thought I was. I left fatter than when I arrived. Chris had a medical phone call so I slipped down the hall to Peacock Groove, where Eric Noren regaled me with his tales. He's really cranked up, loud talking a mile a minute, turning the music up, turning it down, back up again, jumping from bike to bike pointing out features. With his tattoos and big personality, he's the antithesis of Chris, but Chris assures me he's a great guy. Eric builds nice bikes, more in the hipster fashion, but he has a suck website.  He showed me a little 12 pound steel fixed gear bike he built. Take that you carbon sons a bitches! Ha! Of course everything hanging on it is carbon. 12 pounds- not the frame, the whole damned bike!

Old French chainguard. It just needs a little TLC and it will look new. The lug set is the Richard Sachs Rene Singer set. The double plate fork crown is a new one from Kirk Pacenti - very traditional.The lugs are just a starting point. For instance on the seat lug, he cuts the top off and welds on his own thin extension and then cuts new flared points from it. He cuts off the threaded clamp extension on the back and welds on his own simple threaded cylinder.  I asked him why he does it?  "Just because I think it looks better."  And, it does.

New dropouts from Keith Anderson with stainless inserts. Mine would be similar except are vertical. Chris is pretty excited about these. They free him from nickel plating the dropouts, and mostly, because they're just better.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Transporting Our Vices

This started with Jack Gabus building up a bicycle with the sole intent of safely transporting wine bottles. There have since been exchanges concerning transporting beer and liquor, and bicycle mounted cigar holders. If you are ready to acquire the seat mount opener, it's 40 bucks. That would buy a lot of Hamm's tab-top cans.

The boxes are Miller High Life. Obviously they were out of Hamm's.

On a bike I'm pretty much a water drinker. The Ahearne flask holder is pretty cool though. In the photo to the right is my flask and a funnel. A disclaimer, the flask was intended for a very portable watercolor painting set-up and the funnel was with my old backpacking stove. The funnel is cool because:

A. Along with my stove, it belonged to my grandfather.
B. It was made by a man, now deceased, from Grand Marias, Mn.
C. I made it myself with scrap brass.
D. It was WWI military issue.

Answer: C.    Kudos for correct guesses. If any.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Marcella Detroit

...has pipes. I first noticed her in the 70's singing with Eric Clapton. Margadant fell hard for the bluesy Marcella in a previous posting. All music is personal. I like her voice in the high ranges because I hear my daughter, who can sing so high only dogs can hear it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Return of the Pinot Express!

Jack Gabus built up this bike for his wife. It was refinished with an unacceptable paint job and then languished, first at the painter, and then in the Gabus garage. Mr.Gabus eventually found time in his busy schedule to get it built up. This is an unusual McLean in that it has cantilever brakes. When he purchased it it had the headset, BB, crankset and the dérailleurs. The Mafac brakes were picked up on Ebay. The painter built the neat little custom rear rack.

Dicky Betts


Iowa, an innocent looking state - flat and square. A really big cornfield. A couple of thoughts. When Taylor Zimmerman was over the other day we were talking about RAGBRAI. The Z-Man has ridden back and forth between Minnesota and Colorado a few times. He said climbing over the the Rockies on his recent cross country jaunt was hard, but once you get to the top of a mountain you ride down into a valley for the rest of the day. He thinks western Iowa is worse, a real bitch. The hills are really steep and it's up and down, up and down, all day. In the past, Mr.Gabus has brought friends from California to ride RAGBRAI. He said they think it'll be easy because Iowa's is flat. By day two they are real quiet. The organizers like to spread the ride route around and it'll quite likely be across the southern portion next year. You know, across the wrinkly part, although it is possible the loess hills aren't as steep down there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Me and the Devil

For those you don't know Gil Scott-Heron, he burst onto the scene in the 70's with spoken word, blues, jazz, funk, whatever he chose to do. His life spiraled down due to crack cocaine use, and eventually prison. The last I heard he might be coming out of his reclusive life and getting a handle on his love affair with drugs. Normally I think that any cover of Robert Johnson is pointless, but Gil Scott-Heron pushes genius and this is worth a good hard listen. Ominous, spooky - a great arrangement and a painfully emotional voice.

Jack's Thought for the Day

Missing Clothes

Forwarded by Chris Anderson from Found Magazine

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hellhound on My Trail

This posting was triggered by Jackson Gabus comparing the Allman Brothers to Blind Willie McTell. ??! Good or bad, them's apples and oranges - Willie being the apple. So okay, we have Robert Johnson. He wrote all these, "I'm sinning as fast as I can and the devil's gonna come and get me" songs. He loved the sinning part, but was terrified of the consequences. He also played subtle two part guitar behind his vocals. Just wonderful. The other day I was listening to this one on YouTube as I surfed Ebay. I noticed a commenter fight. Some fellow had said something to the effect that the Johnson version sucked and the good version was by the Children of Bodom. He was under attack. These two are officially, Apples and Oranges!