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Month: May 2008

Lost, Lonely Fawn

Along the Paint Creek Trail I noticed a small fawn at the edge of path. When I stopped it came out and sniffed me and my bike. It seemed very scared and lost / alone.

Having to deposit a check, after eating some breakfast I hopped on my bike and rode up to the bank, but brought along enough water and food (Clif bars) to go on a longer ride, which I did. I ended up heading down 22 Mile to VanDyke to 23 Mile to Dequindre, to the east end of the Clinton River Trail, through Rochester, then along the Paint Creek Trail, turning back when I was seeing signs indicating that Lake Orion was only five miles away. By the time I got back home I’d gone (per the computer) 36.5 miles. It wasn’t logged because the rechargable AAs for my GPS are dead. Oh well.

The riding itself was pretty unremarkable, but I saw a couple rather nifty things. My wheels seem to be failing (spoke popping noises developing towards the end and a constant slight wobble on both), but nothing went wrong, and my head was protected from more weird sunburn by a recently acquired white CoolMax® Headsweats. The trails were relatively empty and people who were out there were generally friendly and knew how to share the trail.

Now, the interesting things: First, while heading home along the Paint Creek Trail I noticed a small dog-sized animal with very spindly legs start to slowly walk into the brush. Stopping to see what it was I saw a fawn, no more than 18″ tall, standing between the path and the creek, shaking. While standing there, just after getting my phone out, it came over to me and sniffed my leg, then my bike, then just stood there for a few minutes before going back into hiding along the path. I hadn’t realized that wee deer have such cold, wet noses, but this one did. Unfortunately the path at this point is bounded by swamp (with standing water) and river on each side, and there were no other big deer around. I’m afraid that it’s mother may have been hit by a car or the two were somehow horribly separated.

A few people had stopped to see what I was looking at, and they were wondering out loud if there was someone who could be called to take care of the deer and be sure that it’s all right, but I imagine that the DNR or Humane Soceity or whatnot wouldn’t do much, since baby animals getting separated from their parents and dying is a (rather unhappy) part of nature. When I rode away the fawn was standing in some brush between the path and river, shaking and shivering, but otherwise perfectly still.

There were also some guys in a small inflatable yellow raft slowly making their way down the Paint Creek right in downtown Rochester along the River Walk. They were going particularly slowly and were occasionally getting stuck on the rocks, but it looked fun and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Here’s the photos I grabbed today with my phone:

· An SBC can spilling wires along the north side of 23 Mile, just east of Dequindre.
· The Soccer City dome on 23 Mile has been deflated.
· A fawn sniffing my bike after sniffing my leg.
· Another photo of the fawn, poorly framed.
· Two guys in a yellow raft heading down the Paint Creek.
· The same two guys on the Paint Creek as they are going over some of the more rocky areas.

Yes, I know the quality on them is pretty bad. I’m seriously considering picking up one of these Olympus shock / waterproof pocket cameras to take on bike rides or when wandering places too risky for my DSLR, but I haven’t felt like spending the $230 or so yet.

Now it’s time to shower, scan some photos and edit them a bit, do a bit of layout, then head out to IPM. I should probably eat somewhere in there too.

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Dead Bird

A dead bird found in the lawn when taking pictures of the sunset on the evening of 26-May-2008.

Last night while just after taking the photo used in this post I noticed a dead bird in the lawn. I’m not sure why it died, and poking around online last night showed me that testing for Avian Flu isn’t really being done anymore on a federal level, and Michigan delegates it to the counties. Macomb County, where I live isn’t testing either, so I guess I’ll just have to leave the bird there.

Also, here is a close up of the dead bird’s head.

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Cancer Sucks

Sunset on the evening of 26-May-2008, as seen looking westward from near my condo.

This weekend didn’t really end up as hoped. To summarize, as said to me, Cancer Sucks.

Before we get to that, a bit of background. My absolutely wonderful girlfriend Danielle’s mom (Linda) managed to get through a bout with breast cancer back in 2004, but last summer it came back in her legs. Since then the cancer has been managed with a combination of surgery, chemo, and radiation therapy, but last Wednesday she was admitted to Henry Ford Hospital because the pain in her legs was overwhelming her.

She had been in the hospital since then, with Danielle and various family members staying with her, and on Sunday Danielle and I went for a visit. Danielle’s mom’s oxygen was a bit low (SaO2 of 86), and she was acting really confused, and her mouth didn’t seem to move properly when she was talking. Additionally, she was making a bunch of gurgling sounds when breathing, so it was ordered that she get an MRI and a chest x-ray to figure out why both problems were occurring. Danielle and I headed off to a BBQ at my aunt and uncle’s place and everything was okay for a little while.

Right as we were thinking of leaving, Danielle received a call from her dad saying that “it spread to her brain”, and that she should get to the hospital as soon as possible. We got right in the car and headed down there as quickly as safely possible.

Once at the hospital we found that Danielle’s mom had been moved to the ICU, as the x-ray found that she has pneumonia, and the MRI found a number of tumors in her brain. All of the tumors were under 1cm, except for one 13mm tumor in her brain stem. I imagine that this, coupled with the hypoxia (and all the morphine) is what was causing her confusion.

We ended up staying at the hospital until sometime after 3am, and throughout most of that time there were at least 10 family members there, including Danielle, her dad, her grandma (Linda’s mom), her brother, Linda’s brothers and sisters, and lots of cousins and friends. Throughout the night while people were visiting her blood pressure and O2 levels were very low, but she was able to talk to everyone and tell them goodbye. As the evening moved on she made everyone leave except Danielle’s dad, who spent the night awake next to her.

Today we returned sometime in the afternoon with a couple bags of food for everyone who was at the hospital, which I would estimate at around 25 people, some of whom flew in from across the country. The food was very useful, taking care of a problem yesterday where we were all eating things out of the vending machine and from the Little Caesars in the lobby, which was open until 3am.

Early on in the day a priest from the parish Danielle’s aunt attends arrived and performed an Annointing of the Sick, or Last Rights while everyone Linda knew was in the ICU room. People had more time to visit Linda, and at one point she told me to be good, and I was able to tell her that I’ll be sure to take care of Danielle.

This afternoon Linda was moved out of the ICU and back to a private room, and tomorrow she’ll be transported home whereafter she’ll be under hospice care until she dies.

Oh, and that picture up there? I’m not trying to be overly cheesy, but I was noticing the building beautiful sunset and clouds while in the way home, so I went outside to take some pictures. If you’d like to see the other photo which I considered using to top this post, look here, at a photo taken out the window of Linda’s hospital room, just before we left so that she could go in for the MRI. And yes, I know this post is a bit scattered. Sorry. Lots has happened recently.

One final thing, before I forget, the staff at Henry Ford seemed to be some of the nicest folks I’ve ever delt with at a hospital. From the security folks, orderlies, and other people who I’d just asked for help to the nurses in the ICU and people working in the cafeteria, everyone seemed just great. That really, really helped.

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41 Miles and a Spotted Head

My head, with sunburn spots on it, from wearing a helmet while riding ~41 miles on 24-May-2008.

Today Brian () and I met up at Dodge Park to ride over to Metro Beach. We ended up riding to Metro Beach and back, then Brian headed back home and I rode into the Dodge Park, did an end to end ride of that, then back to my car for a drive home. I was fairly comfortable throughout most of the ride, but I did end up with a bit of sunburn on my arms and a head spotted with slight tan / burn from the vents in the helmet.

The final result, per my bike’s computer, is 41.29 Miles. This ride really wasn’t very difficult. The wind and gradual hills weren’t the most fun, and crossing Gratiot and Schoenherr feel risky, but it was quite nice overall. It’s also a completely different feeling from mountain biking, which seems to be more about huge bursts of output followed by nice rolling breaks as opposed to a few hours of relatively consistent pace.

Here is the KMZ: 24-May-2008_partial.kmz. Unfortunately the batteries in the GPS gave out about 1/4 of the way back from Metro Beach, so it’s only a partial plot. It still illustrates the route between the parks, though. The batteries had reflected 3/4 charge when I left the house, but clearly that didn’t represent how long they would last.

Next time I do this route I think I’ll just leave from home and go to Metro Beach and back. That should push it to a 50 mile ride.

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Bike Tire Bead Lube

Two new Continental TravelContact 26 x 1.75&quote; fires and matching Novara (REI) tubes.

I’m scheduled to go for a ride on paved trails today around 2pm, so yesterday I spent some time putting the Continental TravelContact 26 x 1.75″ tires back on my bike. While this isn’t normally too difficult, the combination of the steel wire in the bead, the rubber, and the anodized aluminum sometimes makes it a bit difficult to do. I’ve also run into problems with getting certain tires seated properly in the bead during inflation, which I’d normally solve by inflating the tire near the max, and rolling it with my hands or going for a short ride to work it into place.

Normally I was just able to muscle the tire over the rim or finesse it into the bead, but I wanted something easier. I’d read that applying things like soapy water or Schwable Easy Fit to the rim and tire make everything slide into place more easily, but I didn’t want to worry about mixing the soapy water correctly (and having to wash it off) or finding another product.

In the Seating the Tire portion of Sheldon Brown’s article on Flat Tires he mentions that he uses spray window cleaner for lubricating the bead. I grabbed my old bottle of Target’s blue glass cleaner, spritzed a bit in between the rim and the bead, and started inflating the tire. At around 25 psi I looked at the bead and noticed that part of the bead wasn’t in the rim properly. I kept inflating, and just below 55 psi (these tires are recommended for 55 psi with a maximum of 85 psi) I felt a little thump in the tire and it’d wholly seated itself, no manual coaxing required.

I also tried using some window / glass cleaner when fitting the tire over the rim and although the extra slipperyness was a bit of a hassle at times, it helped. Then after the wheel was put back together I just grabbed a cloth and wiped off the extra cleaner, using it to clean up the rim.

I’d definitely suggest that others give this a try if they need a bit of help seating a tire. Also, if you have an interest in bikes and haven’t given them a read yet, check out Sheldon Brown’s articles on tires and flat tires.

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Flowers for 2008

One planter of Castle Scarlet Celosia.

Since the weather is finally consistently nice, while out shipping Ivan’s P3 back to him Danielle and I stopped off at Deneweth’s and I picked up some celosia, coleus, and three kinds of chilis. These have been planted out front along with last year’s rosemary plant, which was kept indoors during the winter.

Instead of salvia, as I’ve normally placed in the rectangular concrete boxes along the edge of the porch, I put some nice, furry red celosia. The area around the tree has two colors of coleus in it, and the skinny plastic box along the edge of the porch has three different kinds of chilis, all of which I hope to eventually add to the garlic / chili / salt fermented concoction that I’ve had living in the pantry.

I then washed the chairs and table on the porch and rinsed the dust / poop / seeds / whatever off the porch, so it’s nice and clean and ready for summer.

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Unexpected Sand

Damage to my knee and shin after falling and sliding a bit at the bottom of a hill at River Bends. There was dirt covered sand where I didn't expect it. Whoops.

This is what happens when there is a thin layer of trail colored dirt covering the bottom of a downhill area, right in the area I need to turn at. Oops!

I was heading down a slight, maybe 20′ hill, which has a 90 degree right turn at the bottom, then immediately crosses a partially buried corrugated metal drain pipe. The center of the pipe is nicely covered and smooth to ride over, so I aim for this area. I’ve ridden down this a number of times in the past, but this time a portion of the bottom of the hill was very sandy, with a slight covering of dirt over it. As I was starting my turn on this the bike slid a bit, and I instead pointed at the mud just beyond the wholly exposed end of the drain pipe.

When the front wheel hit the mud it too slid, and I went falling / sliding on some mixed dirt and gravel. Thankfully I didn’t hit the drainpipe like the edge of my seat did, otherwise I might have a bit more than a skinned knee / shin. Thankfully it didn’t hurt at the time, and now it’s only a mild (but widespread) sting caused by a whole bunch of parallel scratches. And yes, that large clump at the top is a blood / dirt clot.

I’d also fallen two other times today causing other mild scratches, but these were because I was being dumb and trying to climb over ~5″ logs while going way too slow.

All in all, it was a nice ride today. and I headed off from my house, down 22 Mile to River Bends Park, back through the normal trail and a bunch of the (very narrow) single track, then up to Ryan, back to Shelby Road, down 21 Mile, through a subdivision, then back down 22 Mile to my house. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a bunch more riding in, and then maybe a Dodge Park to Metro Beach and back ride on Saturday morning.

UPDATE: If you happen to want it, today’s KMZ is here: 22-May-2008.kmz. Unfortunately something somehow glitched and made it look as if one of the points on my route was at 19 Mile and Ryan, quite a ways from where I really was.
Oh, and the damage to the seat helps answer the possibly-selling-the-bike question. I think I’ll keep the bike and do what I can to work with it. My torso is longer than normal for someone with 30″ legs (I’m made weird, or something), and pedal reach is just fine, so I think (hope) that just a bit of tweaking will help things out. Maybe something like On-One’s Mary could help as well.

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Bike To Sell?

After doing a bunch of riding at Stony Creek with a group of seven others last night, I’m really thinking that my bike is a bit too big. Looking at the posture of others and feeling quite stretched out at times, I’m thinking that what I have just isn’t right for me.

So, what to do? I don’t think I can move the seat up much more and the stem is already pretty short (38.1mm), and one can’t really shorten a frame.

I’m thinking that I should probably sell the bike and either buy or build another one with a more appropriately sized frame. Seeing as I paid $797 for the bike after tax and it only has 400 miles on it and is well cared for, I’m thinking that $700 would be a fair price. I wonder if I could get that amount for it, and how it would / should be sold?

That also brings up the question of a replacement. I’m not sure if I’d want to get another built up bike, and if so where I should go? Seeing as the person at Fraser Bicycle and Fitness had fitted me to a 21″ frame, I’m not sure if I’d want to go back there either.

Looking at parts makes me think that something like a Surly Karate Monkey frame, fork with lockout, Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, and some Shimano Deore XT drivetrain parts would be nice. Wheels / tires could be sorted out a bit later, but might be a bit strange to work out being as the frame is designed for 29″ stuff.

I just don’t know what to do.

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Ivan’s P3 is Finally Done

Screenshot of MIDI-OX displaying sync data from Ivan's P3 sent via the SYNC port.

That right there is a screenshot of MIDI-OX displaying data coming into a MIDI port, including a START and STOP message. This wouldn’t be anything too special, except for that it’s coming out of the SYNC port of Ivan’s P3, which means that the MIDI Sync issue which I’d previously mentioned is now resolved.

It turns out the problem was related to some changes which Colin had made in order to eliminate unintended triggering of the PICs inputs. It appears that this new code was mostly a backport of the firmware for the v1.6 boards (these are v1.5) which included the function for DIN SYNC passthrough, but doesn’t seem to default to having MIDI sync on.

The solution is to boot the P3 while holding down the 1 key. It will then tell the PIC to flip into MIDI mode, the PIC will write 00 to the first byte of its EEPROM (so it always goes into MIDI mode in the future), and then as soon as it first receives a RUN command it’ll start spraying out the clock / start / stop commands seen above.

I guess if I had been better (or more thorough) at reading disassembled PIC code I could have seen it doing all of this, but I’m not really that familiar with it yet, and I didn’t want to spend six hours looking up opcodes I didn’t understand and what each register written to was. Ah well, at least it’s working and I know what happened. Now I just have to pack it up and get it back to Ivan.

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Bike Frame Size

So, I have a 21″ bike frame. After trying out ‘s 19″ briefly around the parking lot here, I can’t help but think that my frame is a bit too large for me. It seems to fit and it’s not bad, but I almost think that it could be better.

Then again, I’m shaped kinda weird. I have relatively short legs for my long torso. Pants that I buy typically have a 30″ inseam (and they hang a bit), but I’m about 5’9″ – 5’10”.

Maybe my next bike should just be custom fitted / have a custom frame.

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