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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Horn = Middle Finger - It really is rude to honk your horn. It's like giving the finger to someone. Horn honking should only occur in an emergency situation. Many people use it because they are jerks and want you to know it. While it's not wise, I've taken to giving the finger to anyone who honks at me for no good reason, such as when I'm in a crosswalk and they don't feel like stopping, or when I'm riding along the side of the road, minding my own business and someone honks. I don't have a horn, so you get the finger. It's childish, but I often can't help myself. [For what it's worth, someone just stopped at the top of the drive and honked, then drove away. They must have been looking over my shoulder.]

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Lansing Trip - Back from a short trip to Lansing, Michigan. We had a burial ceremony for Dad, who passed away in Florida back in April. My brother Dick gave an excellent eulogy after the formal eulogy given by my cousin Bob who is a paster in Texas. It was good to see relatives and friends and get reaquainted after a few years.

Stopped by a local bike shop, Denny's Cycling & Fitness. It's a great little shop, very well organized and well stocked. Talked for a while to the owner, Denny, who was planning to ride in DALMAC, the group ride from Lansing to Mackinaw that I rode once back in 1976, my first multi-day tour.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004
Bikes Against Bush - The Bikes Against Bush Web site will allow users to send an email message to a cyclist with a chalk message machine trailing behind that can print the message in chalk on the streets of Manhattan during the Republican Convention.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
A Thousand Reasons - Here are a thousand reasons to vote in November. Reasons are grouped by category, chronologically, and alphabetically. I'm sure the environmental reasons are similar to those documented in the The Bush Record, mentioned previously.

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Bike Virginia 2004 - Finally finished writing up our trip report from Bike Virginia. This year I packed along my Dell Axim X5 PDA along with a keyboard for taking notes. Each evening I would write a few comments about the day's trip, supplemented from notes taken during the day using my small “Rite in the Rain” notebook. It was a good trip, with unusually cool June weather and little rain.

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Monday, August 23, 2004
RNC and Kerry - Kottke points out that the Republican National Committee website is mostly devoted to slamming Kerry. There are more pictures of Kerry on the home page than of Bush, and the one of Bush in the lower left is pretty goofy looking. But then it's hard to find one that isn't.

I may have pointed to this before, but the Electoral Vote Predictor site shows Kerry currently leading Bush 286 to 233.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Handlebar sizes - I never realized there were so many handlebar sizes. Leave it to Sheldon Brown to sort it all out.

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The Recumbent Wave - If you've ever ridden a recumbent, you know about the wave. It really should be called the “What we have in common wave”. Not only do we wave, but we smile too, as we're having so much fun. I've seen it in other situations, such as when riding cross country and you would see one of the few cyclists riding in the other direction, and they would nearly always wave. About the only exception was when we were in El Paso and passed a line of racing wannabes who were too cool to wave.

We used to wave or nod on the W&OD trail in the early years, when there were just a few of us brave souls out on the gravel-covered trail. Now it's just us recumbent riders and a few “interesting” characters who wave. There aren't that many recumbents out there, but I sense that were are nearing the peak of the wave. As more and more people purchase bents, especially the road bike people who buy the lightweight high-pressure tire recumbents, fewer and fewer people will wave.

As with most entries I post, at some point I'll do a Google search to see if others on the Web have written about the topic. I did find one reference to the secret recumbent society wave at this recumbent site, in the 2003-08-10 entry. [Note: After looking at some of the entries on the site, it was interesting to note that the owner of the blog is from Northern Virginia and rides the same sections of the W&OD trail as I do. Maybe the bent wave is a local phenomenon].

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Monday, August 16, 2004
The Bush Environmental Record - Thinking that someone should compile a record of all of the damaging environmental abuses perpretated by the Bush administration, I conducted a quick Google search and found the Natural Resources Defense Councit site, The Bush Record. I don't think the environment can take another four years of abuse like this.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004
Park Tool Bike Repair and Maintenance - The site contains some great bicycle repair technical information. Of course it being a Park Tool site, the instructions require the use of every conceivable Park tool made. Even so, the illustrations and written info are excellent.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Margins and reading comprehension - Who would have thought that having margins on text that is read online would have an effect on reading comprehension. Examples are provided.

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Whistler in Paris - Visited the Freer Gallery of Art yesterday, riding the Rans V-Rex. Don't usually ride one of the more expensive bikes downtown, but security is pretty tight around “Tourist Washington”, the area along the Mall, so I decided to take the chance. I usually pack two locks for downtown, the Kryptonite U-lock and another one for extra measure.

One of the exhibitions at the Freer is Whistler in Paris which is a typically small print show that the Freer often displays in the basement along a long hallway. The show contained mostly lithographs which were well done, although I enjoy Whistler's etchings more. Seeing his work inspired me to execute a small drawing of the Reston Town Center.

As I walked through the National Gallery gift shop, I stopped by the bargin bin that often contains some treasures. There was a copy of Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice for under $10 that I snapped up. I'm trying to tame my book habit but it's difficult.

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Monday, August 09, 2004
The human cost of sprawl - Today the Post contains an excellent article on sprawl in DC, Washington's Road to Outward Growth: Far-Off Houses Are Cheap, but Drive Carries Costs: Time, Traffic and Pollution. I especially like the comment of the mayor of Hillsboro, the small town through which commuters living in these far flung communities must pass as they drive on two-lane Route 9, when asked why she was fighting the widening of the road.
Do I demolish a historical town for your commute? You have a choice to live anywhere you want. If this is what you chose, this traffic in Hillsboro is what you'll encounter.

If home buyers would consider the true cost of commuting when they purchase their “inexpensive” homes in the country, they could make a wiser choice. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives has a commuter calculator (using Candian dollarsthat shows the difference between a 100 km commute in an SUV (costs $5244per year and results in yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 8525 kg) vs. a 10 km SUV commuter ($1311 per year, (CO2) emissions of 853 kg) vs. a 10 km bike commute ($76 per year and results in no net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions). For me the choice is rather obvious. [Note: the calculator uses Canadian dollars that I've converted to U.S. dollars using a factor of .76. The price of gas is just over $2/gallon).

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How not to buy happiness - Robert H. Frank has written what looks to be a good article on the effect that having more income has on the happiness quotient.
Considerable evidence suggests that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods–such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job–then the evidence paints a very different picture.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Permalinks - I've added them to my entries. I've always had a permanent id for each entry, but never included the reference in the footer. It's there now as the # sign at the end of each post.

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ImageMagick - Lately I've been using GIMP for most of my image processing tasks. While there is a scripting capability, I haven't yet learned it. When I resize images, I do it manually. As I began to compile photos from our recent Bike Virginia trip, I had a need to resize several images. I downloaded ImageMagick, another Open Source image processing program which has a good batch processing capability. The mogrify command is used for many task, one of which is to resize images in a directory. Since it overwrites the original, I copied the images to another directory and used:
mogrify -thumbnail 200x150 -bordercolor black -border 1x1 aut*.jpg
To stitch together several photos in a panorama I used the command montage:
montage -adjoin -geometry 200x150x0x0 *.jpg pan.jpg
This worked, but due to the differences in the photos at the edges, it wasn't a good soultion, so used GIMP to create a blank image 1000x150, then pasted each image into this one and cropped the result.

ImageMagick also has a good image viewer that will display thumbnails of all images in a directory.

I'll post some of the results once the Bike Virginia report is ready.

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Politics and Homeland Security - According to the NY Times article on the latest terrorism threat, Tom Ridge is quoted as saying “We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security”. I wonder how Ridge would classify this comment from his statment announcing the new threat level on Sunday:
But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Shortwave noise/music - Today's Post has a good article on Akin Fernandez's obsession with shortwave radio sounds. He turned this obsession into The Conet Project, a musical compilation of these sounds, a sample of which was later included in Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot CD. Fernandez sued and won an out-of-court settlement.

Among the many bizarre sounds heard by Fernandez were numbers spoken by various people in several languages. These "Number Stations" turned out to contain coded messages for intelligence agents around the world.

While the Post mentioned that the recordings can be downloaded from the Conet site, I couldn't find the link. Google helped me find this site where the four disc Conet Project is available for download.

It appears that many of the Irdial.com discs are available for download , including this otherworldly recording, Islets in Pink Polypropylene by Anthony Manning.

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Jeff Tweedy interview in Rolling Stone - Back in May this interview with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco appeared in Rolling Stone. While not very uplifting, this quote sums up a log of what many people feel today
I think it's a really dismaying and disheartening period of time to live in America, to be honest. I find myself really struggling with having so much stuff out of my control that I can't change. I feel so powerless over so many things that you wish you could fix and just inundated with deception and lies and this horrible feeling about our future.

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Classical Computer Science Texts - A collection of computer science texts online, including Knuth's Computer Programming as an Art and Math for the Layman.

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Obesity and the “Tasty Taste” - A few weeks ago the Post published an excellent article on obesity that gives one an idea of the challenges faced in this country to fight the epidemic. One of the people profiled talks about the strong urge to eat food with the “Tasty Taste”; fried chicken, barbecue ribs, biscuits and gravy, etc.

These are some anti-obesity tips (for the non-obese person):

  • Never buy clothes in a size larger than what you currently own. Squeeze into those tight pants; you'll certainly feel full after a large meal.

  • Live in a two-story house and walk the stairs many times a day.

  • Walk every day for at least 20 minutes. Don't make a special effort to take time to walk; simply incorporate walking into you're daily routine: park a little further from the store entrance; walk stairs instead of taking the elevator; walk to the mailbox, walk around the building at lunch, etc.

  • Weigh yourself every day. That way 10 pounds don't suddenly appear. When you're a couple of pounds overweight, eat less until you've lost those few pounds.

  • Bike to work and to run short errands.

  • Eat a salad every day before the main course. It will provide fiber and fill some of the void in your belly.

  • When you are at or just under you're ideal weight, pamper yourself with a treat such as a candy bar or ice cream. Moderation in all things.

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Monday, August 02, 2004
Bicycle Mechanic site - Happened across Jim Langley's Bicycle Aficionado site, maintained by a former bicycle mechanic who is now a journalist. The Wrench page contains lots of tips for maintaining your bicycle.

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Cycling Skyline Drive - Drove to Front Royal today to ride my Rans V-Rex recumbent along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. I usually park just outside the Park and ride about 2 miles to the entrance. The entry fee for bikes is $5, and a year pass is $20. It's a difficult ride, especially on a recumbent. The first six miles are a continuous climb. There's a short downhill section, then a climb for another seven or eight miles. I rode about 16 miles within the park and turned around for the mostly downhill ride back to the car. It took over 2 ½ hours for the first part, and about an hour for the return trip.

On one of the long climbs I saw this rather large rattlesnake. It was about 2-3 feet long with a girth about the size of my wrist. Even though there were flies on it and it smelled bad, I still felt like he could have turned and struck at any moment.

I noticed that the weeds along the drive were getting out of control. I assume it's because of the lack of funds for needed maintenance in our national parks, thanks to our fearless leader Bush cutting taxes and spending billions in Iraq. Thanks George.

Rattlesnake on side of roadWeeds along Skyline Drive

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Nader accepts money and help from Republicans - According to this New York Times article on Nader, he still doesn't seem to think there was anything wrong with his ill-fated campaign for president in 2000, and he hopes to have the same effect this year:
To Ralph Nader, the Democratic convention in Boston was a hollow charade that made Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, seem more like President Bush than ever. He said it gave him no reason to drop out of the race, even if he costs Mr. Kerry the election in November, as many believe he cost Al Gore in 2000.

You would think he would at least have enough pride to reject funding and help from Republicans, who certainly want him on as many ballots as possible. Guess not.

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Sunday, August 01, 2004
Ron Reagan on Bush - I'm looking forward to reading Ron Reagan's tirade against Bush in Esquire magazine. I understand it is a good summary of what not to like about the Bush administration.

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