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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My first instructable

Instructables.com is a site I like to visit, usually through make blog, that has all kinds of, well, instructables on all kinds of topics - how-tos if you will. Some are super cool, some are lame, and some are just amazing, though well above my financial or know-how to do. I've wanted to make one for a while... and I just did.

I set up a bell system at school to go off during the day for block beginnings, endings and warnings, etc using spare parts and a spare laptop running linux. Read it all there:

Simple distributed scheduled bell system

Check it out, I think it's a fun read... leave some comments (there or here).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Vicks Vapo Rub

So, NFL player Michael Vick has finally plead guilty to being an asshole. Ooops, I guess just to killing dogs that he had set up to kill each other. Wooopeeee... right?

Why is this here? I hate football. I loath professional sports, for the most part... pampered, over-paid social leeches... kinda like Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton.

No, I'm posting because he states that he "has found jesus". Argh!!! Do Christians actually buy this shit? Oh, wait... yes, they do. I know some who personally will likely hate him for the evils he did against animals raised to be murderous sport fodder, but they will sure find a place in their hearts for him since he found jesus(R)(tm).

So, my message to Vick, and anyone else like him expecting that they are above the laws and above general morality, and then declaring they found religion (I guess he was atypical in that he didn't find Allah, as is apparently more common for many blacks in prison... but I'm guessing more poor black men, as Christianity is the capitalist's religion) , is that I hope a baddass, abused battle dog named "jesus" is set to rip you apart. Let it be a lesson. I'm not a PETA freak [I in fact despise PETA], but in this culture dogs are off limits for game killing. I hate dogs - I'm a cat person - but I'm getting tired of the current culture, often pushed by hip hop, of obsessive immorality while also claiming jesus... yar, and yes, glamorizing vicious-bred dogs!

All that said, Vick isn't the only shithead involved in all of this. If his partners are getting off and all the people who were betting and attending and letting it happen are just as guilty. Plea deals or not, there should be justice. I'm tired of seeing celebs getting away with murder, especially in a case where that is literal.

Oh, Lindsey... you're trash.

Don't think I'm attacking Vick because he's a black man. Trust me, if you know me, you know that couldn't be the case... I hate celebs equally. ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bike Beautiful Expensive Orange

So, the majority of the bike repaint is done. As of yesterday all but the lower cowl/scoop has been painted with the orange and color shifting paint and polishe. The scoop is being a bitch with the fiberglass repair, so I'm not freaking about it. I rode for a couple months in the spring without it at all... so woop dee doo, for now. I also still need to do the airbrushing of the "extras", but I've not decided anything other than what's going on the tank and I'm still trying to figure out what the best masking method will be. I'm going to freehand as little as possible.

The ride after this picture, with the wife on the back was plagued though. We were going to ride to the bike shop (Land Air... I'd link to them, but I'll explain why not in a moment). About 1.5 miles away the bike started revving like a mutha. I sorta freaked, but knew Karen was freaking worse, not the least by the sudden death grip on my waist. This happened after a red light. I couldn't shift down and didn't know what to do, so I thankfully had a shoulder I could pull over into after cutting off the engine. I pulled over and shut her down. We got off. There was smoke coming from somewhere below. I figured, let's let it cool off a bit and try again.

A few minutes later I restarted and it immediately revved to redline. I cut it off right after. Nervous, I called said shop asking for advice. Eventually it was clear I'd need to bring it in. (I have brought my bike to them since I got it 5 years ago or so) I ended up getting a tow sent by AAA, though I don't have RV coverage, so I was going to have to pay for it myself. I figured $45. That sucks, but so would pushing the bike 1.5 miles through some of the more busy traffic in the area.

Tow guy was nice. We got the bike to the shop... fucking $75!!!! I was robbed. It made me sick and I wanted to throttle someone. So, if you are in the Burlington area, you likely already know this, but fuck Handy's. Plain and simple. I've always hated them with a passion, but dude, $75 to tow a bike 1.5 miles. I pushed the bike onto the lift, held it steady and helped get it strapped in. How on earth... whatever!

The guys in the shop were able to get it in within about 10 minutes or so. After a little bit they came out to say they got it started (oh, I forgot to mention that the battery had mysteriously died while I tried to start it while on the phone with the shop to let them hear what was happening - the bike didn't start, obviously). The revved up on him and he didn't know why. He looked and noticed the choke was on. Well, yeah, it was on because I was trying to get the bike started again... thinking there was a fuel issue. He slid the choke off and it ran normally. He came out and reported the find. In hind sight, I think when I FIRST started the bike up, I left the choke on a little to let it warm up some more and forgot to shut it off. Stupid... stupid stupid stupid!!! Anyway all had a good laugh. They noticed the battery could use a charge and test. So they did that. When all was done we waited for the brass tacks. I figured maybe $30 or summat. No, the fuckers charged me $70... a full hour of labor. Um, they started a bike, turned off the choke and stuck the battery on a charger. Wait time for a charging battery is not labor. And for that matter I could have bought a new battery for half that, on the spot. So, someone screwed me over by not mentioning they were gonna rip me off. I've trusted that place for 5 years and even planned on buying my first NEW bike there. I'm not having serious second thoughts. I'll note that the service guys who were there last year wouldn't have done this. They've never screwed me over like that. I'd right a letter to them, but in case I change my mind, I'd rather not be "that guy"... might be hard to get a good deal on a bike. So, after the easily $250+ to paint the bike (paint, paint gun, sandpapers and other stuff), I paid $145 to find out that I left the choke on a little bit. Yeah, I'm pissed.

On the bright side, I did my commute to work this morning. The only bad thing to happen was that the bike needed to go into reserve about 30 miles from where I was going... but it didn't just suck up the fuel. I switched it after a couple kicks from the engine and it slowly died. I pulled over, threw open the choke and got it started, but it was a scary moment. Yar! I love this bike, but I really really really want a newer more modern bike. I passed 32222 miles on my way home. 33K is just around the corner.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fitquest 8/20/07

Fitquest is sorta coming to a close. The real plan was to loose about 20 pounds over the summer. Where that 20 pounds started from, I don't recall. Fact is, I sorta meant for it from my max weight, pushing 199 around April or May. that would mean being down to 179 by summer's end. As of this morning, I'm at 180. Yup, 180 pounds. Pretty close. I start work tomorrow, but I guess one could say that summer is still going on. I know I'll have a hard time keeping up with such a good running routine, since running in the morning is better for me, but needing to leave for work by 6:30 or so makes it a little difficult. I suppose I need to find a way to get in at least 30 minutes when I get home. Only half the time, but hey... one great thing that appears to have happened is that my metabolism has returned to some extent and I've started eating less. So, worst case is that I think I can maintain the weight until I get into something more rigorous.

The true end result is getting into pole vaulting shape, meaning preferably in the 165 pound ranger and building up my upper body strength again.

Let's just hope the stress of the job doesn't cause weight gain again. That would just suck, and likely kill my willpower.

So, this morning I ran northbound on the bike path. I didn't stop at the turning point, just kept going. It ended up being the 4 mile mark (it's not MY 4 mile mark, just a mark on the path marking 4 miles north of Oakledge Park). I'd guess this trip is about 6-5 miles, so not too bad. I took it a little easier. Oh, but I actually ran it all... including the uphill of Battery Park, so heya, it really made up for the couple minutes I took to stop at my friend John's to return a thumb drive.

So, I'm not saying fitquest is over, but I might not be posting about it as frequently as I did this summer. It all really depends. Though now that I think about it, if I have at least one student interested in doing the martial arts afternoon activity, I could work on making it more physical and get a good workout from that as well... he (the one I'm thinking about) could certainly use it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Some Weeks of Busy

So, long time no post. Last week we were in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, hiking from AMC hut to AMC hut. From the main road (I forget which road it was) we took the Valley Way trail to Madison Springs Hut. Pretty easy hike, but my hiking companion/brother-in-law kept getting sick. He began his kicking the smoking habit a couple days before, so I'm sure the withdrawals were hitting him. His father caught up (he was hiking with my wife) and he stayed with him while Karen and I finished up the hike. Slower than I like... much slower, but we made it together, which would be the last hiking bit we did together during the trip. Trust me, it works out much better that way.
Anyway, The next morning we (myself and two other guys that go on the trip as well, Colin and Lloyd) left in the rain and wind and fog to hike mostly ridge to Mount Washington. Whew, it was amazing. The wind was great. We were warned to not hike the peaks, but I wanted to. We didn't. I think we summited one though. We did go to Mt. Washington. There was about 20' of visibility. Who cared. We were completely soaked and just looking forward to a hot treat to eat. I had a turkey rice soup. It was pretty good. As I was hanging out near my wet bag, my mom showed up behind me. I knew there was a chance of her showing up, but didn't expect it, since the weather sucked so bad. She and dad took the Cog Railway up... couldn't get a refund or reschedule. The Cog is a scam man... super expensive. In any event, it was great seeing them up there so randomly. They live in Vermont also, so popping over to Mt. Washington isn't just a joy ride. There wasn't much time to visit, as they only had 20 minutes before the train left. Mom got a shot us dad and I (look right). (They drove up the next day, with nice weather)
After spending some time at the summit, the boys and I headed the 1.5 miles back down, to Lakes of the Clouds hut. Even though we spent a good deal of time at the summit, we were still the first of the Madison crew to get there.
The next morning we took off for Mizpah Springs Hut. We went over every peak along the way. It was nice weather pretty much the whole way. However, my solar USB charger didn't appear to build any charge in my MP3 player [more on that another time perhaps?]. We even took a few good long breaks, leap frogging a couple groups twice.
Getting to the hut as soon as we did gave me ample time to get some great reading in on Last Child in the Woods, a book I'm reading for a grad course I'm finishing up over the semester. I actually finished it that night and was able to start in on the second book I brought with me that's been sitting waiting for a read (and another on my summer reading list), The Children of H├║rin by J.R.R. Tolkien, posthumously or course. [I'm still reading it, slowly. It's a quick read, but I'm a slow reader. It's a dark tale so far.]
Ahhh... we're not done yet. The next morning was the trooper of the mornings. The boys and I slacked getting out... actually Colin slacked, it appeared, and I was waiting for Karen to pack up for some reason. She's always among the last to make up her bed in the morning... not last in the group... last of all, hehehe. We got going down the Crawford Path toward Crawford Notch, where the boys would take off early for home and a tennis match. Within an hour of being at the cars, the rest showed up. Karen and company planned on driving around to the Zealand parking lot instead of finishing up the hike, which was another 5 miles or so, I think. I had no intention of driving around. Blasphemy!! So I hiked it alone to Zealand Falls Hut. I actually took the side path to Mt. Tom Spur, which added another mile to the hike. I do not know how I did it, but I had a quick hike of it, still whipping even those who drove over, except for a couple of them who were dropped off first.
The next morning I was happy to get going and get to the car... I drove to a store to get drinks to be ready for the rest when they finished. They were all filing in at the end of the trail when I got back to the lot - good timing. We went for lunch. Oh, and if you don't know the area... nothing is close to anything. We had to drive around to pick up cars that were strategically posted in multiple places and then join up for Pizza. All of this took nearly two more hours.

After a day or two of recovery at home, I finally got back to working on the bike repaint project, which I started the prep for over a week before we left for hiking. The repairs just took forever, and frankly, as of today, they are still being worked on. Most parts are painted, cleared and cut/polished. Niiiiiice. (Pix later). But dammit, I chose to re-repair the tank dents and the bondo mix was torturing me. Not curing fast enough. And the lower scoop/cowl has a huge crack I fixed before, but accidentally sanded right through and the fiberglass repair kit's epoxy mix sucks. I'd mix it and it takes days to cure instead of the hour or so it should take. So, tomorrow I might try to finish the last two parts, but it'll have to all go just right. Thankfully the paint gun and compressor are working out well enough. A little loud, but my downstairs neighbor hasn't been around when I'm working on it.

All this in a quick rush to finish up projects for school, starting work next week and more. A book report, a project plan, I need to lesson plan for one more class and a few more things. I'm excited to get back to school (now listed as a Special Educator in the books... and I just sent in the stupid fee for my provisional license/endorsement) but I'm not happy about my break ending.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Solar USB charger... whatever

So I know I'm a newb with working with electronics, but still. I want a solar powered USB charger to bring on the hiking trip, but I refuse to pay the ridiculous prices for commercial ones. Last year I saw this: Build a solar iPod charger and only last week ordered the listed parts to build it, including getting a soldering iron, my first.

As you can see, it's not a hard project, relatively straight forward.
However, it doesn't work. I must have done something wrong, but frankly, I have no one I can ask for advice. The author didn't list any contact methods.

So, I've sent out a panicky email to the friend who suggested it and hopefully he'll have some clues for me. Since the hike is 5 nights long, I'm pretty much screwed in having some tunes to listen to while I read at night - which I need to drown out the snoring of other hikers in the huts.

Fitquest 8/4/07

Riding. I'm so glad I got my bike fixed this spring. I'm saving my knees for the hiking trip next week, so riding the bike helps a little. If I ride hard it hurts my knees, but I put just enough to not hurt. About an hour ride yesterday and just over an hour today.

The bike seat is killing my ass though. Whew. I'll suck it up, as a new seat that'll likely feel better is looking like around $50+ and it's just not that important.

Fitquest 8/4/07

Riding. I'm so glad I got my bike fixed this spring. I'm saving my knees for the hiking trip next week, so riding the bike helps a little. If I ride hard it hurts my knees, but I put just enough to not hurt. About an hour ride yesterday and just over an hour today.

The bike seat is killing my ass though. Whew. I'll suck it up, as a new seat that'll likely feel better is looking like around $50+ and it's just not that important.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

WTF - spam blogger???

What the hell is wrong with the world when my lame ass blog gets bot selected by the system as being a "spam blog". I know I don't add much to the world in general... I mean, who really cares about my Fitquest, and certainly no one is commenting on anything... but still.

Anyway, I'm sure since I submitted the "dude, I'm real" request to get the verification process taken off, I'll be a normal blogtard again, but for now, sheesh, insult to injury.

Fitquest 8/2/07

Yar... missed yesterday, err... Tuesday. Tuesday and today I just did Hip Hop Abs. Yesterday I had a team meeting at school, so I didn't do a morning workout, and frankly, didn't do anything later either. ;)

Today's Hip Hop Abs was doing the Total Body Sculpt workout, which is a single ~45 minute workout. Not too bad. It mega humid today, so I was sweating pretty good.