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Month: May 2012

Don’t Let Your Silverware Nestle

If you’ve ever pulled out a spoon out of the dishwasher that just didn’t seem like it got as clean as everything else there’s a good chance it had nested with an adjacent spoon, blocking the dirty part from being directly sprayed with water / cleaning solution.

When placing silverware in the basket in a dish washer, set pieces so they alternate back and forth in the tray and they will be highly resistant to nestling together when jostled around by water. The result? Cleaner silverware!

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100 Miles, Turtle Rescue, and Rain

In preparation for Lumberjack 100, the training plan that I’d been following dictated an 8 hour ride today. Erik also had to ride today (but only for seven hours), and we ended up planning to meet at the Clarkston Road crossing of the Paint Creek Trail at 6am. This got pushed to 6:20am as I had to run back home and pick up a forgotten bottle and my shoes (two separate return trips), but eventually we were on our way.

The ride involved laps of Bald Mountain, Addison Oaks, and the Four Corners (Indian Lake, Barr, Drahner, and Lake George), which worked out well and tended to put us back in Addison Oaks right around the times that we were due to mix up more drink stuff. Due to a bit of slacking (and frequent pee breaks) and talking with Shari at Addison we ended up with almost two hours of downtime during the ride, so it was good that we started out so early.

Just after the 7 hour (moving time) mark we were near the cabins at Bald Mountain and Erik headed back towards his car while I started thinking about what I wanted to do for the next hour. With my computer saying I’d already ridden ~82 miles, I got an itch to try and go for a full 100 miles (often referred to as a century). I finished up the lap of Bald Mountain then rode back over to Addison Oaks, as mental calculations told me this should put things at just past the goal.

Despite angry looking clouds and a beautiful front passing over us this morning, we missed getting rained on. Half-way through this final lap of Addison Oaks the skies once again darkened, but this time I wasn’t so fortunate. Heavy winds gave way to drips, and by the time I got back to Bald Mountain a solid rain was falling. This lasted throughout the rest of the trail and for most of my ride back, but ended just as I reached the parking lot, which was fortunate as it made putting things away and changing much easier.

All said, this was a really good ride. I ticked off just over 100 miles, for the first time ever. While tired I still could have ridden more, as my legs were (and still are) feeling pretty good and not too much of me is sore. Reviewing the post-ride data I think I should probably have kept my heart rate a little higher to conform to the training plan requirements, but hopefully things will be fine in a couple weeks.

One odd thing from today’s ride: we kept encountering turtles, some of whom needed a bit of help. Two of them were on roads (and bound to get hit), with one having clearly fallen down a dirt embankment which it wouldn’t been been able to climb. These were relocated off into the brush in the direction they had been going. Three more were found on trails where bikes could easily hit them, but only two of these were moved as one was a basketball-sized snapping turtle (seen above). Finally — and unfortunately — there was a sixth turtle on Indian Lake Road which had already been hit.

Now that I’m home and having finished a large meal from Khom Fai I think it’s time to consider a shower and then bed. I’ve been up since ~4:05am and sleep is sounding good.

Here is the GPS plot and stats for today’s ride: link.

Here’s some photos from today’s ride:

· Erik and the snapping turtle found along the two track at Addison Oaks.
· Detail of the snapping turtle found along the two track at Addison Oaks.
· Another view of Erik and the snapping turtle sitting along the side of the two track at Addison Oaks.
· 101 miles in 08:46:10 of moving time, shown on the Garmin Edge 500. My longest ride to date.
· Gang Gai (red curry) from Khom Fai, a nice post-bike-ride meal.

If you’re interested here’s a few more photos taken during yesterday’s ride on the dunes southeast of Sleeper State Park. This was a fun ride, but I found that I couldn’t keep going in sand over ~4″ deep:

·The Mukluk on some dunes just southeast of Sleeper State Park.
·Sand along the power lines just south of Sleeper State Park. This was too loose for me to ride.
·The Mukluk leaned against an old barbed wire fence somewhere southeast of Sleeper State Park.
·Somewhere along the way I picked up a stick.
·Closer view of the large stick in the frame. It was easy to remove and basically fell out.

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Down the OpenStreetMap Rabbit Hole

I’ve been interested in making mountain bike trail maps for a while now, resulting in my drawing the official River Bends and Addison Oaks maps. Stony Creek Metropark has some great trails as well, but it’s MTB trail map is unfortunately lacking. It is missing some segments used during races, has some one-way markings that don’t match what’s actually signed on the trail, and isn’t geographically accurate enough to be used for trail planning.

My original intention was to record all of the trail segments at Stony Creek myself using a GPS then draw a map similar to the ones for Addison Oaks and River Bends, but after looking on OpenStreetMap (OSM) I found that most of the trails at Stony Creek were already mapped. Thus if I am willing to license my map in an appropriately open manner I can use this data, saving myself a bunch of time.

Since a few small connectors that I wished to include were missing I headed out to Stony Creek this evening and recorded GPS data for only the missing segments. Most of these were connectors used primarily during races, but as they are passable throughout most of the year I wanted to include them. I then brought the GPX into JOSM, edited the map, and submitted the changes. This is a pretty easy task if one is familiar with basic CAD tools.

While the changes aren’t yet reflected in the main online map, the changes have been submitted and it does show when new data is manually downloaded, so I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it’s visible to the public. I will then use this OSM to make my MTB-specific map, complete with markers for things such as log piles, rock gardens, etc.

I suspect that this ease of editing is going to change my mapping workflow in the future. There’s a very good chance that any new maps which I do will first go into OSM, then this data will be pulled out to generate the actual map. Barring any license constraints, of course.

Looking further it appears that River Bends’ trails aren’t yet on OSM. Looks like I’ve got some work to do there as well…

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PLRA Is Finally Enjoyable To Me

This afternoon after work I finally headed out to Pontiac Lake Recreation Area to ride the trails by myself. While I’ve been there a few times before with people showing me around, something about the trails there had yet to click with me and I wasn’t sure if I liked them or not. After riding two laps today I was finally recognizing most of the route, and I even had a feel for what was coming up after some parts. With a bit more experience there I’ll be able to do a better job carrying momentum into more climbs and then it’ll likely end up being even more fun.

Today I ended up riding two laps without stepping off the bike, with a parking lot to parking lot time of 1:49:22. This includes all of the optional Hard segments that I know of: the switchbacks about half-way in and the tight / rooty area near the end. Even though I didn’t really feel warmed up until after the triple puke climb on lap two, this ride was really enjoyable. The weather was absolutely perfect, everyone I encountered on the trail was friendly, and it fit in nicely as a good after work ride. I need to head out there more often.

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Gulden Draak 9000 and Brewery Vivant’s Triomphe


Here are two tasty beers that I’ve had recently: Gulden Draak 9000 Quadruple and Brewery Vivant’s Triomphe Belgian Style India Pale Ale. I’d also recently had Farmhand (also canned) and Big Red Coq (on draft at Clubhouse BFD), but I don’t have photos of those.

Each of these beers is quite excellent, but I particularly like Brewery Vivant’s canning. It works out very well, and getting a full pint in each serving (as opposed to a typical 12 oz. bottle) is a nice change of pace. The only part I don’t care for is the plastic can holder. It’s got quite a bit of plastic in it, and it’s fairly difficult to remove from the cans themselves.

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Group Ride at River Bends and CRPT

Two weeks ago while out for a quick lunchtime ride at River Bends I started thinking about how it’d be nice to have a group ride there connecting it and the Clinton River Park Trails. So, later that evening I set up a ride for the 10th. Rains forced me to postpone this a week, with today being the day for the ride.

We had a much better turnout than I expected, with a total of 17 people showing up for the ride. A couple people dropped off here and there to head home or because they’d gotten enough riding in, but most of the group stuck together until the end, returning to the River Bends parking lot just as the sun was going down.

Coupled with riding up and back from home and an early lap I ended up getting 36.52 miles in, and just a smidgen over three hours moving time. All of this and the beautiful weather made for a great evening.

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Poopy Creek

This is one of my least favorite parts of riding outdoors: unexpected encounters with dog poop. Not only is it feces, but being dog stuff it’s greasy and difficult to clean off. I must have picked this up somewhere at Stony Creek last night while riding. After getting in the car I thought it smelled suspiciously unclean in there, but I’d just written it off as sweaty clothes or my nose playing tricks on me.

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Black and White Lane Markings on M-59

A couple of days ago while driving on M-59 between M-53 and I-75 I noticed that the white dashed highway lines had been augmented with black rectangles on the distant (furthest away from you) side. I had a few theories about what these may be for, but the reality turned out to be a bit more mundane yet effective: additional marking to increase contrast on areas where sun glare is a problem, particularly on light-colored road surfaces.

This section of road was recently replaced with the new surface being all concrete, so it has a fairly light colored surface. When wet and/or with a bit of glare the markings practically disappear, as the embedded contraflective additives don’t really work, or reflect the same amount of light as the road surface.

I’d originally thought (and somewhat hoped) that these were augmenting existing markings to facilitate machine vision used by autonomous vehicles. Others suggested to me that they may be IR reflective to make markings more visible to night vision equipment. There was also the chance that it was a boondoggle to adjust the lane marker length to some standard.

This question was posed to Ask Metafilter and Facebook, email was sent to MDOT to ask, and I started doing some research. The most conclusive answer I could find was the augmentation of colored (white, in this case) markings to increase their visibility. Specifically, section 3A.05 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009 Edition, Revision 2 states:

Black may be used in combination with the colors mentioned in the first sentence of Paragraph 1 where a light-colored pavement does not provide sufficient contrast with the markings.


When used in combination with other colors, black is not considered a marking color, but only a contrast-enhancing system for the markings.

I also eventually received a reply from MDOT stating:

The markings are part of a pilot project aimed at helping motorists see pavement markings during certain times of day when the suns glare/reflection is strong. The black outlines the white making the markings more prominent.


As I understand we will be putting more out on MDOT’s road in the next few years in locations where visibility by the sun is diminished.

So, that answers it. These markings are simply to increase contrast and improve visibility against the light colored concrete surface.

UPDATE: A photo of these lane markings can be see in this post.

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Moving CiviCRM on Joomla to WordPress

With recent work done on the MMBA website I’ve had to move the CiviCRM instance from an older copy hosted on Joomla to a new one hosted on WordPress. The general suggestion for doing this is to export and import the data, but this is both a bit frustrating to do (because of a need to specify which columns contain which fields) and PHP kept running out of memory when exporting, even after I moved it up to 256MB per process.

This copy of CiviCRM wasn’t really used, but it did have a lengthy set of contacts that I could not afford to lose. Thus, I looked into what was necessary to move the tables themselves instead of just exporting/importing the data.

I ended up using these steps to get the contact data moved over and it seemed to work well for me. This may not be the best way to do it, and it may introduce some problems down the line, but this did work for me and seems fine thus far, so I wanted to document the steps here:

1) Install WordPress and the CiviCRM plugin with the new installation of CiviCRM going to a different database or table prefix than the current.

2) Ensure that the WordPress CiviCRM plugin works, only going as far as the first screen which prompts to set up an organization name, email addresses, etc.

3) Using phpMyAdmin export all CiviCRM tables to a .sql file except for:


With the option: Add DROP TABLE / VIEW / PROCEDURE / FUNCTION / EVENT statement.

4) To avoid issues with Foreign Key Constraints add this line to the top of the .sql file:

SET foreign_key_checks = 0;

And this to the bottom:

SET foreign_key_checks = 1;

5) If the new set of tables has a different prefix than the old, search/replace in the .sql to change each table name to the prefix used by the WordPress-based CiviCRM instance.

6) Import the .sql into the WordPress-based CiviCRM database using the MySQL command line utility:

mysql -u username -p databasename < civicrm_export.sql

7) Enter the CiviCRM plugin in WordPress and confirm that all the contacts have been moved over.

These steps were performed on the following configuration:

- Apache/2.2.22 (FreeBSD) mod_ssl/2.2.22 OpenSSL/0.9.8q mod_fastcgi/2.4.6
- MySQL 5.5.22 (from FreeBSD Ports)
- WordPress 3.3.2 w/ CiviCRM 4.1.0
- Joomla 1.5.24 w/ CiviCRM 3.4.7