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Month: February 2010

Multi-wood Coasters

After some friends headed to Belize a few weeks ago for some sailing and general relaxing they brought me back this really, really cool set of coasters. With each being made out of four strips of different woods (mahogany, black poison, red wood, and billy webb, as illustrated in this photo) they are quite neat looking. I just added four rubber feet to each and now they re in the living room ready for use. They look particularly great on the tables in there.

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Cross-Country (XC) Skis!

After trying out cross-country skiing a coupletimes I decided it’d be good to get my own set of skis and supporting equipment. Thanks to end of season clearance sales at REI I was able to get everything seen above for US$243.40, after tax, plus another $16 for the REI shop to mount the bindings and give the tips and tails of the skis an initial hot wax.

I had one problem with REI, as when I went to pick up the skis this afternoon I noticed that the bindings weren’t sitting flat against the ski, and there appeared to be a bit of flashing around the screw. The person I was working with immediately agreed that was wrong and looked into it. It turns out that the skis are pre-drilled for NNN bindings and the person doing the installation of my SNS bindings simply screwed them into those holes. Apparently that doesn’t work quite right and also put the binding at the wrong point for the skis to be properly balanced. While this was immediately rectified, had I not noticed this I would have ended up with improperly set up skis.

Tomorrow I’m meeting some friends at Stony Creek at 11am for skiing. Hopefully the conditions will continue to be good and I’ll do well with the new equipment. I’d spent almost an hour weighing out the UK11.5 vs. UK12 boot size, but I’m pretty sure that the final choice of UK12 was the appropriate way to go. The skis are sized based on weight, and the poles are the same as I’d last used at Stony Creek and felt comfortable with, so they should be fine.

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Bubble Tea: Meh

This is my first attempt at making bubble tea. I made some black tea with milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and some boiled boba balls. It’s decent and drinkable, but I think in the future I’ll have to boil the boba in sugar and water and add more milk to the mixture. The boba is a bit bland, and the tea is far too British tea-like and lacking the sweet rich treat flavor that I’ve come to associate with bubble tea.

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Snow Day II

Here’s the view from my office as Winter Green II, our landscaping company, cleared the parking lot around my condo. There is now an 8′ pile of snow at the end of each parking spot, and a small strip next to Danielle’s car which I’ll have to shovel off. I believe that we’ve received 4″ – 5″ of snow thus far today.

Good thing my network connection is staying up solidly, as working from home is a much better option than a couple hours of driving through slushy, icy crap.

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XC Skiing and Swell Hats!

Today Erik, Kristi, Jon, Jeff (who is in town for a long weekend) and I headed out to Stony Creek for some cross country skiing. It was an absolutely wonderful day for and I finally got a good feel for the motions involved. Now I really want to get some equipment of my own so I can head out without needing to locate a rental first.

Everything went really well today, except for two equipment failures. Both Jon and Jeff’s left shoes, which use the older Nordic Norm bindings, had their soles partially let go. Jeff’s was bad enough that he couldn’t lift or turn his ski. The point where his failure occurred was particularly bad, as we were right in The Pines, a particularly twisty mountain bike trail. Thankfully my belt was of a style that allowed his shoe to be lashed back together near the binding (photo) and he was able to continue out the day happily (photo of a happy and warm Jeff with a lashed up shoe).

Just before the ride, right when getting to the parking lot, Kristi gave me the incredibly nifty hat seen above. Beyond just warm and water-shedding wool, being hand-knitted by her, and include nifty random binary it’s also large enough to fit on my head and cover my ears. It’s great! I immediately donned it and wore it for the ski instead of my boring, not-great stretchy stocking hat and was very comfortable the whole time. This is now my go-to winter hat. Here is another photo of it laying flat, but the image above (or here) shows its structure and design much better. And yes, I am eating a pancake in that photo.

Here’s a KML of today’s ski if you want it, and here’s a photo showing my belt frozen into a D after Jeff removed it from his foot. Now the belt is hanging in the bathroom to dry so I may wear it tomorrow.

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Giant Mousepad

Today at work I was going through some old cabinets doing a bit of cleanup. One of the things I found was this wonderful, gigantic mousepad. It’s great!

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Off The Rails

Danielle’s driver side window ended up coming out of the track at the front, so she wasn’t able to roll it up without holding it. By unbolting the front rail I was able to get it all aligned, but it seems her window has some wear in front of the lift mechanism. This causes the window to settle into place slightly ajar, requiring a gentle nudge to get it into place. If it was easier to get inside the door I’d look at disassembling the mechanism and fixing the bushing (or whatever), but for now I’ve left the window semi-operational.

On request the handle has been left off of the door panel (and set inside one of the map compartments) so she won’t roll the window down without remembering the slight effort required to fully re-seat it. Properly reinstalling the handle will just require clipping it back in place, but I won’t do so yet.

I suspect that this issue happened when the car was iced over and an attempt to roll down the window was made. The window was probably stuck in place and the force of pulling down on it deformed a bushing or some other part in the front of the mechanism, allowing it to wobble the current 1cm or so.


Snowy Laundry Day

Working from home on a snow day let me constantly cycle laundry while taking brief breaks from reading and writing documentation. For most of the day from my first 7:30am meeting through now the washer and dryer have been doing their thing, removing skin oil and flakes, bits of food, and other debris from my clothes. I’d been a bit remiss in laundry-doing lately, so I had to do loads for socks, underwear, work clothes, towels/robe, t-shirts, jeans, bike clothes, sheets, rags, and a few other things. The final load, towels/robe, is only now drying. This evening I also decided to donate a some clothes that I haven’t worn in years to the Salvation Army, so I had a full load of those to wash, as few years worth of dust on the clothes likely wouldn’t be appreciated.

The result is this nice, clean closet with everything folded and put away. Socks, bike clothes, and various other bits are in drawers. Now to get some sleep and get back to working in the office tomorrow. This will be nice as I’m not terribly fond of working from home, particularly when the weather dictates the preceding and following evenings also involve sitting at home. I do like my house, but work is a very nice change of venue.

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Dragon GAP Winter Race

Yesterday was the third annual Lake Orion High School Guided Activities Program winter race. The sunny, cold weather was perfect for riding in the woods with all of the riding going well, except for the first extremely steep hill.

The first time I went down said hill I went a bit too fast, overshot the trail, and ended up running perpendicular into a ditch. This bottomed out my fork, dropped the chain to the outside of the cranks, twisted the bar a bit to the right, and rotated my left Ergon grip down a good ways. Somehow I didn’t get hurt, so I was able to continue riding after getting some tools out and straightening the bar. My shoulder is very minorly sore this morning, but that could also be from sleeping oddly.

Being a few minutes behind everyone else I now had a quiet, uneventful, ride alone through the woods, save for occasionally passing some of the kids slower folks. I don’t think I came in last, though, as two thirds of the way through the second of my two laps I passed someone who I believe was in my same category. That likely puts me at second to last.

The video of the race above is made by a local guy named Matt (mattmtb1 on YouTube) who is known for filming local races and events then doing an outstanding job putting together short, entertaining videos of them. I actually made it in at 2:00, where I’m shown turning up a steep corner with my studded rear wheel scraping audibly at the ice.

There’s also this photo of the four of us from Trail’s Edge Racing who participated: Bob Costello, (Me) Steve Vigneau, Bill Edgerton, Joe Siedl. Marty took this photo and posted it to Facebook, but due to the sillyness involved in linking directly to Facebook content I rehosted it.

Danielle came to watch and brought Roxie along with her. Both kids and adults loved having her there, and she loved being the center of attention. A number of people, including the Cannondale Midwest Racing folks, were taking photos and/or video of her, so hopefully those will surface online soon.

UPDATE: Here is another video of the race from YouTube.

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Danielle’s Masala Dabba

This is Danielle’s new masala dabba, which is an spice holder used when cooking south Asian food. Hers holds garam masala, mustard seed, ground chilis / chili powder, cumin seeds, cumin powder, turmeric, and coriander powder.

At first the lid fit extremely snugly, so much so that it’d be difficult to open without spilling the spices. A bit of bending around the rim with an adjustable wrench made everything fit much better, though. Now to find something to cook… Mmm!

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