Archive for September 2011

Almost Shat Upon

After lunch today I took a few minutes to visit the bathroom, sitting down in a stall and playing a bit of Solitaire on my phone while going about my business. The man in the stall next to me seemed to be moving around a lot, his feet pointing all manner of directions, and generally having a difficult time and using a lot of paper, but I generally paid it little attention even when I heard him cough and start swearing. A couple minutes later, after there was much rustling from the next stall, I was finishing up the game and getting ready to file my requisite paperwork I glanced down and noticed that something was wrong. There was a growing pile of slimy yellow-brown toilet paper spilling under the stall wall (photo). This was not good.

With the filthy paper monstrosity growing I quickly finished my business, all while the man next door kept up his vigorous wiping. When I turned to flush I realized the gravity of the situation: I had almost been shat upon.

The floor of my stall, only inches from where I rested my feet, had been caught up in this man’s issue. Judging by what I saw (photo) it appears that while standing this person had continued to defecate liquid, doing so with enough force that it sprayed multiple feet away. Into the stall where I was. Almost hitting my boots and lowered jeans. I suspect that the exact moment of this was his cough and subsequent burst of profanity.

Just as I noticed this mess the man exited his stall, and being a bit in shock and not really knowing what to do I looked out the gap in the panels to see who it was and waited for him to leave. The smell was almost overpowering and required me to breath through my sleeve to avoid gagging, but no matter how much I wanted to leave the stall I was even less interested in interacting with the man who had nearly sprayed me with his bowel liquid. After he left the bathroom I quickly hurried out to a sink and scrubbed my hands clean, only to realize that he’d carried his inner smell along with him. Hopefully he was on his way home to burn his clothes and shower.

I’m still amazed at this. There’s been countless times where I’ve accidentally happened into a stall which has been ruined by someone’s imminent need to vacate, but I’ve never been around to experience it, much less be caught up in it. I can’t really fault the man because I doubt he intended to expel diarrhea all over himself and his surroundings, but I do wish he’d both done a somewhat better job at staying seated until the process was complete and refrained from dropping multiple pieces of filthy tissue on the floor.

And yes, I’ve checked my boots and jeans numerous times just to be sure. I was spared.

I will frequently play single-card-draw Klondike on my phone while using the toilet. Played correctly I can win almost any game in 3-4 minutes, almost exactly the amount of time it takes to do my business. This is enough of a mental distraction that I’m able to disconnect from whatever task I was doing and come back to it feeling refreshed once I’m done.

Kenda Slant Six

A few days back I got a good deal on a pair of 29″ x 2.2″ Kenda Slant Six tires. I’ve been interested in these since they came out over a year ago, and finally having a chance to try them I first put one on the rear of my single speed Salsa El Mariachi. Trying this out on a quick pre-rain ride at River Bends last night I found it to be a very nice rear tire; a bit grippier than the Small Block Eight that it replaced, but without any notable additional rolling resistance. Being much better in greasy corners than the SB8 and a nice compliment to the 2.4″ old-style Schwalbe Racing Ralph (now this tread pattern is called the Rapid Rob) I think I’ll leave it on there for a while. I might even fit one on the back of the Titus once I’ve got its rear wheel working correctly again. (It broke another spoke this past weekend and is desperately in need of a rebuild.)

The only downside I can see to this tire is that at 700-some grams it’s fairly heavy, although I’m not too concerned about weight and don’t notice this very much. It’s also got rather pitiful graphics and a 90s throwback .com branding, but this is forgivable as it works well.

(These are mounted on the Salsa Semi-based wheels that I built up in April. This nicely wide rim has worked out really well this summer.)

Rejuvenating Desiccant

In preparation for kegging a Final Absolution clone for Danielle’s birthday I am rejuvenating the desiccant used in the Kegged Beer Cooler by placing it in a 245°F for the proscribed 16 hours. I also put a smaller bag and the indicator card in there as well hoping that they too would change back to their original spec. This seems to be doing the trick as the indicator card is definitely returning to its original color, but I have slight concerns that the H2O produced by the gas flame in the oven might cause this process to not be as effective as it could be. Still, I’ll leave it overnight and seal up the pouches come morning. After baking all night they’ll definitely be drier than they were earlier today.

Lunch from Sushi Do

Today’s lunch was at Sushi Do over in Troy. I had two tamago nigiri, a spicy tofu roll, spicy tuna roll, asparagus roll, and a large pile of gari (ginger). I don’t care for wasabi so that sat uneaten.

(Note that the crap color is caused by my phone and the lighting. The food itself looked a bit more brilliant in person, but as I don’t edit moblog photos before posting them they are presented as they came from the camera.)

Microsoft Excel Date Munging: 1900 vs. 1904 Date System

While working on migrating data for the upcoming MMBA Chapter Transition one of my tasks was to export membership data, split it into chapters, then sent it off to IMBA for import into their membership system. After getting the information out of the database I used my Mac to create one large spreadsheet with all the requisite fields covering the entire state (including a chapter column) and sent it around to all interested parties for confirmation that it looked fine. The next step was to break it out into per-chapter data so this time I sat down at my PC, opened the file, filtered on each chapter, selected everything displayed, copied the data, created a new file, pasted the data, saved the now per-chapter data, and sent it off to IMBA.

A couple weeks later, once the files had been pulled into IMBA’s systems, I received a few notes questioning the data as some chapters listed only single-digit counts of active members whereas they were known to have exponentially more. Checking over my data I found that the per-chapter spreadsheets were wrong, and that the date columns had been decremented by a good deal rendering most active memberships expired. For example, on my personal row the expiration date of 6/29/2012 became 6/28/2008.

After a bit of investigation I learned about the toggle shown above to set Excel documents to use the 1904 Date System, and this turned out to be a big key to figuring out the problem. As documented here in Microsoft KB article 180162, when I’d first created the spreadsheet on Mac the file was set to use the Office for Mac default of 1904 Date System and the populated with the accurate data. Opening the file on PC retained this 1904 setting and displayed the data correctly, but when the new file was created with the PC default the 1900 Date System and data pasted into it became offset by roughly four years. I’d presumed that the copy/pasted data would be the same and with the first few columns in each sheet looking correct I didn’t check the rest, and files with incorrect expiration data were thus sent off to IMBA.

The real reason for this goes a bit deeper and involves how Excel stores dates. Specifically, dates are stored as a numerical offset (called a serial number in Excel) from a starting point in time (an epoch). Toggling between the 1900 Date System and 1904 Date System changes the epoch, but as date fields copied and pasted between sheets are copied as their serial number, if the epoch changes the displayed date will be different. The data behind the scenes doesn’t change, but the information presented to the user does. See Microsoft KB article 180162 for a more detailed explanation of why this occurs.

I understand all of the reasons why this works as it does (legacy compatibility with Mac vs. PC, the use of a serial number + epoch so that all international date formats are easily handled, etc) but in some edge cases (such as what I ran into) the result for the end user is maddening.

…NOT designed for stunting or off-road use.

As seen on the seat tube of a “mountain bike” at Target:

This bicycle is NOT designed for stunting or off-road use.

It’s also designed solely to meet a price point; not to be enjoyable to ride.


Here, have a photo of the newest addition to the trails at River Bends: a log pile. This has been in place for a few days, but this afternoon I finished it off by adding another log to the front to make it more approachable. I also added more glue dirt to help keep it all together. Another view of the logpile (from the direction which it is typically ridden) can be seen here. At River Bends when the parks people cut downed trees from the two track, they tend to leave nicely maneuverable ~4′ pieces sitting in the woods along the trail. Finding a few fresh, non-rotted ones of these is trivial and they can easily be used to build solid log piles. For anything else I can find other fallen, dead trees and cut them to length with a handsaw.

This afternoon’s trailwork also included tweaking a corner to increase its radius (photo) and adjusting another to flow more smoothly to cut down on people overshooting the corner and washing out. Damage to both the trail surface and edge made it obvious that this was a common problem on these corners. Here is a helmet cam video of me washing out on the pictured corner and falling. Whoops.

World’s Largest 555 Timer?

This traffic control device (which is essentially a timer) may just be the world’s largest 555 timer.

This was seen at the corner of 22 Mile and Shelby Roads while on a bike ride this evening. I headed from home, up to River Bends, out the back part of it, over through Clinton River Park Trails (which were rather muddy), and then wound through neighborhoods back towards home. Total of 22.3 miles in 1:44:27.

Doughnuts at Paint Creek Cider Mill

…just a quick photo from yesterday’s impromptu bike ride from when we stopped at Paint Creek Cider Mill and split a bag of cinnamon sugar doughnuts about 30 miles into riding. As Nick said, due to five people being present and a dozen doughnuts in the bag, a few of us had to “take one for the team” and eat three… Mmm…

Yesterday’s weather could have been a little nicer as sprinkling rain was a little was a little unpleasant at times, but otherwise it was a nice cool autumn day. I’m really looking forward to a couple months of this type of ideal riding weather.

River Bends Trailhead Kiosk: Complete

This morning, along with help from Jeremy Verbeke and Scott Retford (and Bob Costello last night in collecting the Lexan) the kiosk at the River Bends Trailhead was completed. This involved hanging the signs, covering it all with Lexan, and fitting some wooden strips that I cut and drilled last night (picture). Here is a photo of Scott and Jeremy standing next to the kiosk right after we completed the sign hanging.

This kiosk (along with much of the trail signage) was donated and build by Spencer Wood and Troop #242 as part of Spencer’s Eagle Scout project. It’s a nice improvement on the standard MMBA Kiosk Construction Plans, is extremely well built, and should last for years. This is one of the best constructed trailhead kiosks that I’ve seen.

The signage includes a trailhead-specific version of the map, a QR code allowing easy download of a PDF of the map to one’s smart phone, and some basic trail rules. The kiosk also features a sign from Aktion Club, a Kiwanis program for people with disabilities who helps with maintenance of the first mile of two track trail.

This completes the current River Bends trail system allowing us to move on to the next phase. I just recently received approval to expand the single track even further, so once the mosquitos start dying off and leaves start falling from trees construction on this next segment can begin.