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Month: September 2010

Red Bat

Here, have a photo of a furry bat that Mark found while we were doing trail work at River Bends on Phase II of the new single track. Since it was clinging to something that we wanted to cut I carefully removed the branch then re-hung it from another tree a ways off the trail all while the bat kept still.

Here is a photo of its back showing how furry it is. I originally thought that this was a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifigus), but I’ve since been corrected. It is actually a Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis).

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Big, Heavy Rock

In the grass at the end of the driveway leading to my condo is a rock. It sits on the dirt and grass along side the pavement as a negative deterrence designed to keep people from cutting the corner and driving on the lawn. Whenever this rock isn’t moved back people will cut the corner, driving on the grass and killing it.

Some time between noon and 5pm today someone didn’t pay enough attention to where they were putting their car, cut the corner, and dragged the rock to the next driveway before pushing it out of the road. Due to the intensity of the scratches on the road surface I suspect it was stuck under the car, likely somewhere along the rear end as people tend to cut the corner sharply and hit the grass with their rear right side tire.

Hopefully next time they’ll pay more attention to where they are putting their car when leaving the driveway. I’ll put it back in place later this evening when I take out the trash.

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Phase II of River Bends is In Progress

Phase II of the multi-use single track trail at River Bends that I’ve been facilitating the construction of is moving along nicely. Since completing Phase I back in June I’d written up this proposal (PDF, page 3 contains a map) for two more phaes of trail, gotten it approved by the township, and gone to work so that it can be completed by winter.

All of the Existing Segment of Phase II was trimmed back (it was quite overgrown) to a nicely rideable / hikeable state at the beginning of September, and throughout the past week I’ve begun work on the New Segment. In River Bends I’ve found that when getting started I like to clear deadfall and rake in the route. (Another photographic example.) After this then a line trimmer can be brought in to remove any small plant growth and scour the ground, and then bench cutting can be done as-needed on off-camber sections of land to provide a flat place to ride. All but ~1000′ of this new segment of trail is now raked, so I’m quite happy with how things are going. Plans are in place to do more work tomorrow starting at 3pm, so with any luck there’s only another week or two until this whole segment is ready to ride.

It was quite satisfying to be taking a break today, standing on freshly raked ground, and seeing trail rolling across the hills as far as the terrain allowed me to see. I think I’m liking this trail building thing. Not only do I get to build something fun but it costs nothing save for labor, supports another interest of mine, and being on public land it benefits anyone in the area who chooses to use it. It’s almost like open source taken to public works.

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Mechanix Wear’s The Original┬« Vent Glove for Mountain Biking

Having lost my Giro Rivet gloves by leaving them on the rack while leaving Addison Oaks I’ve been trying to find some replacement gloves. Today I tried out some Mechanix Wear’s The Original┬« Vent Glove while on a ~19 mile ride around trails and pavement in Shelby Township, and they seem like they’ll be good.

As I like they have no padding and a smooth, seamless palm that’s got perforations for venting and a mesh back. The closure is on the inside of the wrist, up on a cuff that is sufficiently tall to hold on to the hand without feeling tight. The rubber flap closure also has a very fine hook and loop fastener which is not unlike that found on vegetable packing straps; something fine enough to feel smooth and not stick to clothing. It’ll be interesting to see how it lasts.

The venting is not as thorough as the aforementioned Giro Rivet gloves (which basically have mesh sides), but seemed more than sufficient for tonight’s mid-70s ride. Spreading my fingers or turning the backs of the gloves perpendicular to the wind quickly cooled my hands, but I didn’t notice the gloves while on trails, so the venting must be good enough. I suspect that as the gloves wear they’ll become even more airy as the mesh begins to wear. Having no silkscreen logo on the back would help with airflow, but being Mechanix signature logo there’s nothing that I can do about that.

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Bent Derailleur Hanger

Last Wednesday evening while riding a night-time backwards lap of The Pines at Stony Creek I clipped a tree and fell over. This normally wouldn’t be notable, except someone was following me so closely that as I fell he ran into me, then ran over and fell on my bike. Everything initially looked fine on my bike and neither of us were hurt, but upon later inspection I found the derailleur freshly scratched and it appeared that the derailleur hanger was bent inward, causing a bit of extra drivetrain noise and weirdness.

Tonight I pulled things apart and checked the derailleur hanger, and as shown above it’s bent. Thankfully I had picked up a spare earlier in the year (#82 from DerailleurHanger.com) so I was able to fit it and get things back to normal. Bent derailleur hangers can cause all sorts of strange issues, because once bent the derailleur (which moves and tensions the chain) is no longer working on the same plane as the cogs, so it exerts twisting forces on the chain as it transits between the cassette and jockey wheels. This usually causes frustratingly erratic shifting that’s impossible to adjust away.

Park Tool sells the DAG-2 for aligning derailleurs to wheels (and thus cassettes), but for thick, single bolt derailleurs (such as mine) it’s generally difficult to impossible to properly straighten one. Replacement is really the best option.

For reference, the new, unbent derailleur hanger can be seen with the straightedge (as above) here.

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Evaporated Filament

Today I replaced the headlights in my 2006 Honda Civic EX. As one had burned out I figured it was best to replace them both to ensure matching color. I hadn’t had to replace a headlight bulb yet in this car, and it turns out that to do so one must turn the front wheel and pull back some of the plastic flashing inside the wheel well. This required removing five plastic trim clips, but was otherwise quite easy. It was easier than the headlight assembly removal that I’ve had to do on both Danielle’s car and my old Pontiac Grand Am, with the biggest downside being dirty hands and having to turn the front wheels between sides.

The burnt out 9006 bulb that prompted this work can be seen above. At the bottom of the image the glass bulb housing is clouded with evaporated filament. This part of the bulb is at the top when installed, so when the bulb burnt out the gaseous metal from the gap in the filament condensed on this part of the glass, clouding it in a manner not unlike how mirrored sunglasses are made.

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Trail Caster

The things that one finds in the woods never cease to amuse me.

Another ~3 hours in at River Bends, and the existing Phase I trail is clear of deadfall, heavy concentrations of leaves, and impeding downed trees. A few corners were even slightly reworked for better flow. Even with rain falling the trail was in great shape, so now to find time to keep going on the new segment of trail…

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Autumn Is Here

While trying out the new chainring and tires at Addison Oaks it was pretty apparent that autumn is now here. I looked past the cool evenings and snuggling under a heavy blanket while sleeping with the windows open, but the new-since-last-weekend red and yellow leaves scattered along the trail cinch it.

For the first time riding Addison on a single speed I was quite happy with how things went. Save for a periodic rear brake chirp which I need to work out the bike worked great, and I had little difficulty with any hills. This really is one of my favorite trails; fast, swoopy, enough technical bits to be fun but smooth enough to enjoy rolling along. Next time I’ll schedule a better single speed ride and also head through Bald Mountain. Perhaps Sunday.

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Network Captures and Windows 7 Firewall

Windows 7 has a rather capable stateful firewall built into the OS. When troubleshooting network connectivity issues one often needs to determine if the client firewall (or something else) is blocking traffic. Quite commonly this involves acquiring a network capture to see what data is going to the client and comparing that with what is logged by the firewall.

I’ve just confirmed that network captures taken by Microsoft Network Monitor v3.4, WinPcap (used by Wireshark and WinDump), and netsh all capture data before the Windows Firewall has its way with it. Thus, packets which are dropped by the firewall are seen in a network capture. Confirmation of this was made by sending test TCP and UDP data with the firewall on and off, observing a local app set to receive the data (netcat), seeing which traffic hit the port via an external tap, what was captured locally, and what drops were logged by the firewall. In each case all TCP and UDP data seen by the external tap was also captured locally, even when it was dropped by the Windows Firewall. ICMP (and other IP protocols) were not tested.

This is a Very Good Thing from a network troubleshooting perspective.

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Eating Alone

By lunch time today I was having an off day and not feeling so well, so I wanted a good lunch. I headed over to Kruse and Muer in the Village, one of the restaurants founded (in part) by the late Chuck Muer. I’d never been to this location, but knowing as the restaurants are known for their mid-priced high quality food I figured that I couldn’t go wrong. I ended up having some very tasty coconut encrusted flounder with a sweet corn and dried cherry couscous, prefixed with a wonderful gazpacho and fresh poppy seed covered bread. I’d originally entertained the idea of dessert, but found myself a bit too full and passed on that idea.

As per my quite-frequent desire of having time to sit and think (and relax) I ate alone, enjoying the food and occasionally reading a few blogs via my phone. Unlike some people I have very little problem eating alone, particularly if I’m wanting to disconnect from work and other mentally taxing tasks. There are few things I find as refreshing as spending some time alone doing something enjoyable (like eating and reading), completely forgetting about responsibilities for a while. If I’m able to disconnect and relax for a few minutes I can jump back into work and find it fresh and exciting.

Not long after getting back to work I came across this Metafilter post that simply links to this Tumblr blog, table for one, a photo blog comprised solely of surreptitiously acquired photos of people eating alone.

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