The last ride of the Lazy Randonneur…

26 06 2013
Adios Amigos...

Adios Amigos…

This blog has run out of space and I’ve sold my rando bike so I can use the $$ to buy a new 650B MTB and so I can focus my bikey energies on mountain biking & dirt touring. It seemed like an appropriate time to let the Lazy Randonneur ride off into the sunset.

Unless WordPress gets mean this blog should continue to exist as a reference for you and me. You can still access my old Lazy Rando Blog over at Blogger if you want to go way back to 2006.

I figure 7yrs and ~2500 posts of the Lazy Randonneur has been a great run. Thanks for reading! :)

Bye!

Bye!

I’ve got some other feeds that are still rolling along, but at a slower speed. The links are below. Don’t expect regular updates though – they’ll happen sporadically.

Where did the trail go?

Where did the trail go?

One practical note – I’m going to keep updating the links on this blog. It’s got a ton of good ones and I don’t see any reason to move them to a new site.





New Look…

26 02 2013
Gratuitous LHT porn...

Gratuitous LHT porn…

Update: looks like the old theme Freshly is working again so back we go.

The old blog theme on WordPress went all wonky on me so I grabbed a new one. I’m not sure this one will stick, but it’s working for now. My main complaint is that posts containing just a Vimeo or Youtube video don’t show any visual preview on the main page of the blog. So you have to click through to the post to see them – not ideal.

If anyone has any cunning ideas how to fix that let me know. I like the rest of the Oxygen Theme. :)





Canadian Cartel…

18 11 2012

Click to jump to the CDN Cartel site…

I joined Canadian Cartel recently. They have rotating clearance sales of outdoor gear that last 3-4 days each – mostly focused on mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and surfing. The deals are 50% off or better. So far Sharon and I have bought some clothing during a Blur sale and the process was easy and we rec’d our items as advertized. They had a couple really sweet sales of bike gear that I was tempted by, but I have to save my $$$ so I resisted. The prices were competitive with the best deals I’ve seen for similar gear at other online retailers.

The current sale is on Icebreaker Merino wool clothing.

You have to join Canadian Cartel to see the deals. Joining is free and there is no obligation to buy anything. You will get ~2 emails a week letting you know when a new sale starts and what sort of stuff is being sold.

So far I’ve been interested in about 50% of the sales they have posted and the deals have been really good. I’m using the site to stock up on stuff I can use, but don’t need ASAP. For example I bought a pair of shorts that were selling for $70 at MEC and were discounted to $35 on Canadian Cartel. I could live without them at full MSRP, but at 50% off they were a worthy addition to my closet.

Disclaimer – if you join CC from the links on this post I’ll get a $10 credit.





Monitor-pocalypse!

19 10 2012

Size matters…

Three years ago I spent the unholy sum of $2K on a giant 32″ monitor. For someone who works on their computer I can say without a doubt it was the best upgrade ever. I can have 3 full documents open and work on them simultaneously which is amazing. Life was good until recently when the monitor failed outside of warranty and I just couldn’t afford $2K on a replacement. I had to go back to a spare 17″ monitor I have. To picture that in the image above just imagine two monitors the size of my laptop screen instead of a mega monitor and the laptop.

You don’t truly appreciate the glory of computer monitor real estate heaven until you have it and lose it!  :) :(

Left to my own devices I would have recycled the big screen and got on with my life. Luckily my friend Kurt owns two of the same large monitors [yes his workstation is EPIC!] and both failed in the same way mine did. He researched the problem – which it turns out is common for this brand/model and discovered if you pull out the motherboard and heat it carefully the solder on the connections melts and the monitor is healed.

Of course it’s easy to damage the motherboard and monitor as you conduct this repair so it’s not risk free, but given that the beast was broken I was all for trying to fix it. Kurt managed to get her working for me. Which is so awesome! :) Not only was the monitor saved from becoming e-waste my Lazy Rando Command Centre is back to full power! ;) Best of all it was free – although I will make sure Kurt is rewarded with beer and burgers at our favourite pub.

Thanks Kurt!





Linkage…

13 08 2012

Look to the right of the screen for some nice links…

One of the features of this blog I love and hate is the long list of links over at the right side of your web browser. I love them because I use them myself to archive and retrieve useful sites. By having a public list of links I not only share what I think is cool with you, but I also get access to them myself anywhere in the world that has web access even if I’m not at my own computer. That’s handy!

What I don’t like so much is that a massive list of links needs continual attention or they go stale. Sites change URLs and others simply cease to exist with alarming regularity. Blogs are especially bad for changing from high quality regular updates to dead with no warning. It seems simple to visit each site regularly and fix any that have changed/died, but when you have 400 links that gets old fast.

Well I was getting embarrassed with the state of my blog’s links lately so I spent a few hours going through all the links and fixing them. They should be all good as of a week ago so click away!

BTW – if you ever find a link with a problem shoot me an email or comment on any post and let me know. I’ll fix it ASAP. Also if you have a link you want to share send it my way and I’ll post it in the appropriate section.





Why I do [don't] read your blog?

8 05 2012

Where are the pictures????

I’m pretty picky when it comes to the blogs I read. There are a ton of bad ones out there, but also quite a decent number of good ones. I won’t name any in particular since I don’t want ninjas attacking me in my sleep!

Here is what I like in a blog:

  • topics I am interested in
  • minimum of a photo with every post ideally lots of photos
  • high quality photos
  • decent writing
  • reasonable spelling [I'm not perfect - you don't have to be, but quick isn't spelled kwik!!]
  • blog template/layout/colours that are comprehensible and easily readable
  • regular updates [less than once a week and I lose interest]
  • on going stories/topics I can follow

Here is what turns me off:

  • no photos = no reading on my part
  • few and/poor photos = less reading and maybe I’ll stop visiting
  • terrible spelling and poor writing = I’ll give up trying to understand what you are on about
  • post your heart rate/power meter data frequently and my eyes glaze over
  • post endlessly about trips and bike builds you are planning, but never complete either and I lose interest
  • post less than 1/week and I stop coming by
  • post erroneous info regularly

The key thing for me in a blog is that I get what I expect to get from it. I can accept infrequent updates if you are on a tour in a remote area. I can accept mediocre photos from a someone on a great tour who is able to write well. What I can’t deal with is randomly posted content that is never what I expect to see when I expect to see it.

As a blog author it’s very important to set the reader’s expectations to match what you are going to deliver.

Let me leave you with one tip to make your blog better [something that I learned the hard way] – post about things you have done – not things you hope to do. Especially if looking back you aren’t scoring about 90% on achieving your goals/projects. We have all read blogs that go on endlessly for months about gear selection, route planning, etc… for some major bike expedition that fails after the first week because they didn’t train or prepare well in real life – despite spending so much time on the blog. It’s lame, but not as lame as when the same person starts blogging about racing the GDR next year and spends a year going on about that only to fail to start or fail after day 3.





FAQ..

5 04 2012

See new tab at top of blog...

I’ve added an “About” page at the top of this blog. It also says FAQ since in explaining what this blog is about I tackled some of the often asked questions. If you can think of more Q’s that should be answered in the FAQ let me know.





I’m back in Viktoria…

17 01 2012

Need I say more?





Spider Porn…

31 12 2011

The action outside my door...

Lunch...

Spider's version of a ziplock bag...

 





Sharon’s Canadian Now!

21 10 2011

Sharon getting her Canadian Citizenship...

Sharon became a Canadian yesterday. She’s been in The Great White North for quite a few years, but started the process of becoming one of the team in 2010. A lot of paperwork and an exam later she’s a Cannuck…=-) Good job – just in time for our local mayoral election that has a pro-cycling candidate running!





I am not moving…

17 10 2011




US Road Trip Gas Pump Tip…

13 10 2011

Tired of having to go inside to pay with a Canadian credit card in the US?

I road trip in the US a lot. One thing that bugged me was having to go inside to pay for my gas with my Canadian VISA card because the pay at the pump machine wanted my US 5 digit zipcode – which I don’t have. Not only is it a hassle to walk inside to pay and then come back out to pump the gas you have to give them a fixed amount you want to pump. Not easy when your goal is to fill up your tank so inevitably you have to walk back in and stand in line a second time to get a refund.

Well there is a solution:

  • my VISA card’s billing addy has the following Canadian postal code – V8Z3S3
  • I swipe my card at a US pump and it asks for a 5 digit zip code
  • I enter 83300 and it starts pumping
  • Just use the 3 digits in your Canadian postal code and pad with 2 zeros at the end
  • Works everytime




And now for something completely different…

5 10 2011

After 15yrs in the UXO clearance industry it's time for something new...

For over 15yrs I’ve made my living in the UXO clearance industry, primarily as a consultant for one of the leading clearance companies. Due to tough economic times in a tiny niche industry with the Department of National Defense as the only client I’ve decided it’s time to move on to something new. What will I do now you might ask? I’m not 100% sure. I was an army captain for 10yrs and then worked in UXO clearance for 15yrs – both periods of my life were long enough that I was fully satisfied with accomplishing what I needed to do before moving on. I’d like a to pursue work that offers fresh challenges and that allows me to develop my skills further.

The three areas of expertise I have are:

  1. Project Management
  2. Quality Management
  3. Change Management
All three are management roles which I enjoy because I am leader and I thrive on planning work, motivating people to help me implement the plan and successfully achieving our goals. I especially like change management and quality management projects because they are particularly challenging for most organizations to complete successfully, but they offer the biggest rewards in terms of money saved, new capabilities realized and customer satisfaction.

Here is a little about my background:

    • I joined the Canadian Army in 1987
    • I received a B.Eng [Computer Engineering] from The Royal Canadian Military College in 1991
    • I served as a Canadian Military Engineering Officer [Captain] until 1997
    • I pursued extensive graduate studies in GPS engineering and project management at University of Calgary 1997-1999
    • worked as a technical consultant in the UXO clearance industry 1997 – present
    • I hold 2 patents for a technical UXO safety process I developed
    • I am a Professional Engineer [P.Eng] and a certified Project Management Professional [PMP]
    • I am studying for my Certified Quality Engineer qualification through ASQ

I have been working remotely from my clients with visits to their offices and project sites as needed. I would prefer to remain on Vancouver Island and travel from here as required, but I would entertain moving for the right opportunity. I am happy to work on a contract basis full-time or part-time as required. Working part-time for a few clients is ideal as it allows me to flexibly schedule my work, work on a variety of interesting projects and allows my clients to leverage my skills for their priority tasks at a lower cost.

Since most people are unfamiliar with the UXO clearance industry here are the main activities I have been involved with the last 15yrs:

      • planning and executing projects
      • developing communications plans and engaging stakeholders
      • developing and implementing quality systems and project quality plans
      • risk analysis and mitigation
      • leading strategic planning initiatives and the change management projects that resulted from planning sessions
      • led field teams in challenging environments to complete project tasks
      • acted as a corporate trouble shooter to resolve critical problems and implement time sensitive process improvement projects
      • developed and negotiated contracts
      • led dispute resolution efforts to resolve contractual disagreements
      • project estimating and bid preparation
      • technical report writing
      • development of new processes and equipment for particularly challenging project conditions [ie. under water UXO detection surveys]

I’m not set on any specific industry that I would like to work in. In a perfect world my work and passions would combine, but I’m not sure the bicycle or kitesurfing/surfing industries are the right fit for me. Although I am totally open to exploring them as options. All my previous jobs and contracts have ended up being longterm and I like forming productive relationships with people I work with. Given that I am ending a 15yr run in UXO clearance I’d enjoy gaining experience in a wide variety of industries before I specialize in one field.

Here are a few more pertinent details:

      • I hold Canadian and Swiss citizenships
      • I can work in the European Union, Switzerland and Canada without any issues
      • I can get US work permits/visas fairly easily and will deal with this for any US clients
      • I am fluent in English, functional in French and understand spoken German

So why am I posting all this on my blog? Well I have never applied for a job or pursued a consulting contract the normal way. One opportunity has just led to another and since I am very good at adding value to organizations I work with they tend to want me to tackle other projects. So I work with the same people again and again. That’s been fabulous, but it does mean I’m not highly skilled at marketing myself – especially when I want to start fresh in industries I haven’t been involved in before. So I figured why not start the process by putting the word out on my blog? If you know of any opportunities that seem like a reasonable fit for my skills and experience please let me know or forward this post to the appropriate folks. I will provide a comprehensive resume upon request.

You can contact me by leaving a comment on this post or emailing me at vik.marbach “at” gmail “dot” com.




Seattle

27 09 2011

Sharon at REI...

Sharon and I took the ferry over to Seattle this weekend to celebrate her 40th birthday. We didn’t bring bikes and I didn’t mention it on the blog because I wanted to give Sharon as much time to do what she wanted while we were there. We stayed at a hotel downtown and walked around the center of town…as far as Volunteer Park. The weather cooperated for the most part and we enjoyed the wide variety of things to do/see downtown. Sharon said she was going to REI for me, but since she came out with a big bag of clothes and I didn’t buy anything I may have been duped…=-)

We were a little worried our stay in Seattle would be extended an extra day due to a big storm that was coming in as our ferry was due to depart, but we made it home just in time before the worst of the storm hit.

Inside outside at REI...

All in all it was a fun trip and a good way to celebrate. Sharon’s already talking about going back for a full on shopping weekend with a girlfriend – thankfully I am being spared that ordeal…=-)





Cat Stop!

21 09 2011

Ultrasonic Cat Deterrent...

I like cats. I have a cat. My cat shits in a litter box and I clean that up regularly. My cat stays indoors. So my yard should be free of poo shouldn’t it?

Sadly my backyard was becoming a favourite poo spot for neighborhood cats – not good…=-( When I had a dog I used to hate having to walk carefully around my backyard to avoid piles of dog shit. So my tolerance for having to watch out for crap is low when I don’t have an outside pet.

I tried mothballs which worked for a month and then the local cats got used it and resumed Operation Poop! I couldn’t scare them away myself because they came at all hours of the day/night. I wasn’t prepared to get/borrow a dog since it resulted in the same issues as the cats – just in larger quantities. I was resigned to fencing in any areas of my yard that cats could enter, but when I looked at how much effort and $$$ that would take I balked.

What to do?

Well I asked Google for a solution and it suggested the Cat Stop motion detecting ultrasonic cat deterrent. Normally I wouldn’t trust such a gadget and assume it was a gimmick, but I was desperate so I bought one.

To my surprise it has worked. No more cat poo where I place the Cat Stop. Cats still come into my backyard – which I don’t mind. Heck I can tell they are still shitting in my yard, but now they are staying off the grass and doing it in the tree line/brush which doesn’t bother me as I don’t walk there.

I suppose I could get a couple more Cat Stops to keep cats out completely, but now that my grass is safe for walking, playing frisbee and drying out my kites I’m satisfied. I get several months per battery and the unit has survived our wet climate just fine.

If you have a cat poo problem I can recommend the Cat Stop.





In case I’m ignoring you…

13 09 2011

I've been busy!

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. If you emailed me or left a comment in need of a response and I haven’t replied I’m not ignoring you. I probably lost your message in the shuffle so please resend and I’ll get on it.





My superpower…

13 09 2011

Got poison ivy?

The job site I just came back from was packed with poison ivy and many of my co-workers were affected. The ones that didn’t have any problems were very careful about what they touched and kept their gloves away from their faces and other sensitive regions. I was a bit worried at first, but after I while I just stopped taking all precautions and despite tromping all over the site to the tune of 40kms+ of walking I didn’t have any issues. I may be immune to poison ivy! I would prefer to be able to turn invisible, have x-ray vision or be able to fly, but heck I’d rather have any superpower than none at all…=-)





Ghetto Ergonomics…

8 09 2011
Doing the best I can…

I seem to be cursed when it comes to hotels on my travels for work. Poor internet connections, noisy rooms, overactive heat or AC, etc… On this trip I’ve been moved 3 times in less than 2 weeks. My lastest room has no desk so I had to push aside the coffee maker on a low table and try and setup something I could work on for a few hours at a time. It’s primitive, but it’s good enough to carry me through to the weekend. I should be home on Monday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it….=-)!





Long Way Round Trailers…

4 09 2011

I dug around and watched these trailers for Long Way Round and I can see how the TV show format would be a lot more entertaining than the book I reviewed.





Andy Warhol was right…

4 09 2011

The usual...

Along with the normal stuff I do on most projects this time around we’ve got a TV camera crew on site documenting things for an upcoming show. I’m not allowed to say too much yet, but when I give up blogging to become a reality TV superstar don’t be surprised!

Lights, camera , action~!

I’ve been trying to sell them on the idea of a bike blogger sitcom, but so far they can’t wrap their heads’ around the concept. They also laugh when I suggest Will Smith play me on the show. I’ll keep trying…=-)





Hi Ho Off To Work I Go!

25 08 2011

More of this...

I’m off to Ontario for a month of fieldwork starting this weekend. I’m not sure how much free time I’ll have or what the internet access will be like so my blogging will likely be spotty and brief. On the bright side it will be time to hit the waves when I get back and become [I hope!] a real surfer this winter…not just a kook messing about in the ocean…=-)





Lazy Update…

2 08 2011

Up up and away...

It’s been such a busy summer that I feel like I have fallen behind on my blogging. I’ve got lots of stuff I want to post about, but the nice weather is keeping me from spending my time posting. I haven’t even been reading my usual blogs and forums regularly….*gasp*!…=-) With August now here there is only a few more weeks of summer madness before we settle into Fall’s more relaxed pace.

What’s been going on?

  • Our weekend’s have been all about kiteboarding for us. Sharon has worked hard to get up and riding so she wants to get as much time on the water as she can before the season ends in early September and she takes a break until she can get to Baja this winter.
  • Weekdays have been frequently spent mountain biking at Hartland MTB Park.
  • I’m busy studying for my quality engineer certification and getting ready for various work projects.
  • We’ve had Kurt’s brother Sean staying with us for a few weeks which means lots of hanging out and BBQing in the evenings.
  • We’ve done a bunch of tandem riding including last Friday’s Victoria Critical Mass Ride/Swim.

What’s up next?

  • I’m going to finish up the 26″ wheeled LHT build this week.
  • We are getting Sharon a new Surly Cross Check fork.
  • We have friends from Calgary visiting this weekend so we have a casual ride around town planned for Saturday and a drive out to Port Renfrew to picnic on the books for Saturday.
  • We are going to install some NSI clear grip traction material on Sharon’s longboard since surfing season starts as soon as kiteboarding season stops.
  • And of course more kiteboarding and mountain biking as long as the good weather lasts!




I love pulling that cart!

25 06 2011

....okay not really, but it pays for all the bike bling...=-)





So true…

25 06 2011

My GF wishes this was just a joke...=-)





My cat is in charge…!

21 06 2011

The brains behind this operation...=-)

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. After being away all last week in SoCal for a full moon gathering in the desert I came home and had to leave the next day for a project. I’ve been working non-stop with breaks only to eat and sleep so I haven’t had time to do anything with my blog. I left Midnight [my cat] in charge back home, but she’s even lazier than I am!!!

I should be home this weekend and be back to posting next week.





1000+ Photos!

9 06 2011

I'm camera crazy...=-)

In less than 3yrs I filled WordPress’ 3GB of free memory allotment. I’m guessing that’s a bit over 1000 images. I could have fit a lot more photos in that space if I had resized each one to best fit the blog, but I also upload my pics to Flickr and I like having the highest resolution for that site. I’m a big believer in lots of photos for a blog. I have a hard time reading blogs that are mostly text.

I paid for another 5GB of hard drive space so I should be good for another 3-4yrs…=-)





The Lazy Rando Review Policy…

19 05 2011

Testing stuff the hard way...

I figured it was about time I published a review policy I could point people to should the topic be of interest to them. I buy about 90% of the products reviewed on this site. Companies give me the other 10% of the product to review [ie. the Donkey Boxx or Scruzol].

Why don’t I buy 100% of the stuff I review?

Well partly because I have a limited budget to spend on gear and partly because I may well already have something that fills the roll of the product in question. The best reviews are those that contrast and compare similar products. For example I own a Berthoud rando bar bag which cost me $300 [ouch!].  I’d love to try out 3 or 4 more rando bags from various companies [Velo Orange, Swift Industries, etc..], but paying $200-$300 a pop with a decaleur for something I already own is not likely to happen. However, if the companies with similar products want to send me something to test it makes some great reviews possible. You get a review that wouldn’t otherwise happen, they get some PR for their product and I get to retire before I’m 90! Sounds like a win-win-win to me…=-)

Can you trust a review based on free product?

First off I’d say don’t trust any review from anyone 100% without critically thinking about it. Evaluate their expertise in the field, their motivation to mislead you and their track record. The more a reviewer/site is sponsored and has advertisers to answer to the less the reader’s needs will be at the forefront of their thoughts. Does the site have anything negative to say about products or is everything they touch AWESOME!! ? Do they have a tendency to always slam products that don’t fit their narrow definition of good? Personally I find it pretty easy to spot the lame reviews that are on the net. Looking at the Donkey Boxx I got recently the value of the product is ~$30. I’ll end up spending around 20hrs of my life writing a couple of reviews, photographing the box and talking to folks about it afterwards. That doesn’t include all the time Sharon spends using it, but we’ll ignore that for now. So I get about $1.50/hr value out of the deal. If I was doing it for the money I’d be better off working at 7-11. More expensive products tend to be more complex and I invest more time in the review process so my dollar/hr value doesn’t sky-rocket for say a $120 bike light. So far nobody has paid me to do a review and I’m not interested in getting advertisers for this blog.

Does that make me objective?

No. I don’t pretend to be objective. I have my own biases. I know people in the bike & kiteboard industries by their first names. Heck I know some of their kid’s first names. On the other hand I’ve been blogging almost daily for 6yrs now and my content sees over a million views a year [thanks for reading BTW!...=-)] so I’ve got a track record for generating useful content and a reputation to protect. How valuable/applicable a particular review is to your situation is something you have to determine.

Stuff I buy:

  • if I buy it I’m going to review it and post the review without any contact with the company who made/sold it. That’s not because I’m a jerk, but I already spend a lot of my free time on this blog and engaging every company whose product I review would add significantly to my workload.
  • I don’t moderate my blog’s comments [other than for SPAM and nastiness] so a vendor is always welcome to leave a comment in response to my review.
  • in fact anyone who wants to say something about a review can leave a comment. Whether you agree or disagree I want to hear it and your comment will help other folks evaluate my review.
  • if I reviewed a product you sell and you find my review objectionable you can also email me off the blog and I’ll talk to you about your concerns. I’m totally open to amending a review with new material if the discussion leads me to believe I made a mistake or if there is more to the story.
  • Internet reviews can linger on Google for a long long time so I want to be fair to everyone and report things accurately.
  • if you don’t like a review of your product and don’t have a sensible rebuttal I’m sorry, but that’s too bad I won’t edit a review to make you happy. You should just be happy I bought your product!

Stuff I get for free:
  • If you want to send me something and I’m pretty sure I’ll hate it I’ll tell you upfront and suggest we skip the review. If you insist I’ll do the review, but don’t get mad at me if it turns out badly.
  • If I do a review of a free item and there is a significant problem I’ll talk to the vendor and incorporate their feedback before the review is published. To be clear that doesn’t mean I won’t talk about the negative issue, but it does mean they’ll get their chance to give their side of the story right in the review. I figure that’s fair.
  • I don’t return review items. The cost of doing the review in terms of my time is already significant. Pulling the product from a bike, packaging it and shipping it back to a vendor adds significantly to the cost of a review. Assuming my time is only worth $20/hr [I'm a professional engineer and professional project manager so hopefully you'll agree I'm being conservative] and a review takes 20hrs – that’s $400 of my time spent on the review. I’m not eager to add more time to that total. Keep in mind this blog earns me $0/yr in advertising or other payments. A vendor gets a considerable amount of exposure for their product in exchange for the wholesale cost of the item. Again I think that’s fair.
Review Period

I try to review stuff for a minimum of 12 months so that I can get a comprehensive impression of it and report my short, medium and longer term observations. Where possible I’ll just keep using and reporting on products. It’s hard to find quality longterm reviews online and let’s be honest – it’s way easier to be stoked by something on Day 1 than it is on Day 1000. I’d like to think this is one way I can really add value for people that find my reviews.

A Note to Vendors

If you are thinking about sending me something to review and trying to decide if it’s worth it I’d suggest you evaluate the situation critically just like I think a reader of this blog should evaluate a review. My content sees about 1 million views/year targeted at bike tourists, bike commuters, randonneurs, kiteboarders/surfers. Many of my reviews come up on the first page of related Google searches. Consider the wholesale cost of your item + shipping cost vs. the potential benefits of having content featuring your product in front of this particular audience. I can’t promise you a positive review, but I can promise you a fair & comprehensive review. I can also offer longterm feedback on your product which can be useful for product upgrades/development. I’m always open to discussing a potential review so feel free to drop me a line and chat.




Mac Power!

2 05 2011

2 Macbook Pros and a Mac Air...

This blog is created and published exclusively on Apple computers. At home I use a 15″ Macbook Pro hooked up to the monster monitor in the middle. On the road I use my 1st generation Mac Air portable laptop as well as my iPhone 3GS to approve and respond to comments. I retired the 5yr old 17″ Macbook Pro on the left, but it’s still in good shape so Sharon adopted it for checking email and web surfing. I use an old Dell XPS for running a few older software packages that are PC only, but I won’t be replacing that beast. When it dies I’ll just load Windows up on my Mac in Parallels Desktop.

I know they cost a bit more than their PC counterparts, but since I use my computers a lot the more attractive physical form factor and easier to use interface makes it well worth the extra $$. I also don’t miss having all those compatibility problems that I did in my PC days nor having to reinstall the OS and all the drivers on a frequent basis to keep things running smoothly.

I have my criticisms of Apple as a company and how they do somethings [ie. the horror that is the App Store], but my next computer will be an Apple that’s for sure…





Working it!

16 03 2011

Super busy at work - not much time for blogging!...=-(





2011

29 11 2010

I must have been thinking ahead to 2011!

Every year I have at least one project bike and try out some new gear that’s been on my mind.  My main focus for 2011 will be to upgrade and improve my existing rides.  Here is what I am thinking of for 2011:

  • I’m going to put some energy into learning to unicycle.  Paul lent me a couple unis to try out.  I haven’t got to the point where I’m for sure going to take this up, but I should know by the end of 2010.  If I do I’ll score a uni for myself.
  • Sharon has realized that although her cruiser/city bike is nice to look at she needs a more efficient ride if she is to cover a lot of kms riding to work and for errands.  So I’m going to build her a Surly Cross Check [in Robin's Egg Blue] using the main parts from her cruiser.  The more aggressive riding position and option to go with drops should be useful while still ending up with a nice looking ride.  Assuming she loves it I’m thinking of adding a dynohub wheel and headlight in the fall of 2011 for her birthday as her commutes to work start getting darker.
  • We’ll save Sharon’s city bike frame and any parts we don’t swap over to build up a SS Burning Man bike for 2012 when we head to the playa again.
  • My trusty Surly LHT is going to get a dynohub and dyno headlight for 24/7 light action.  I’ve really enjoyed the dyno setup on my Bike Friday NWT and it’s time to give my LHT the same treatment.  I’ll use a Shimano dynohub, but haven’t settled on a headlight yet.  My LHT will also get some smooth fast rolling Grand Bois Cypres tires.  I’ve been waiting until the existing Marathon  XRs wear out, but that is taking forever so I’ll pull them and save them for when I need a heavier tire on a tour.  If I get really into it I’d like a bigger/longer mudflap on my LHT, but that would be a luxury…the existing one is adequate.
  • My Surly Big Dummy will get a dynohub [a 26" Shimano dynohub wheel I used on my Thorn Nomad] as well as a dyno headlight. Not sure about the headlight yet.  I’m thinking I’ll probably get an uber nice one for the LHT and a nice, but reasonably priced one for the Dummy. I can always swap them if I need a killer light on the Dummy.  I’ll probably swap the Jones Loop H-bar into the Dummy to test it out.
  • My CETMA cargo bike will get a hydraulic disc brake on the front wheel to address the spongy brake action caused the long convoluted cable run. I still haven’t mounted fenders so that has to happen and I think, given the short rides I do with it, I’ll mount a less expensive SDG saddle and save the Selle Anatomica for a rig that sees bigger distances.  I’m considering pulling the Rohloff hub from the CETMA and replacing it with a cheaper Nuvinci IGH.  I feel like the Rohloff is kind of wasted in that bike and I’ve been interested in the Nuvinci so this would be a good opporttunity to try one out in an application where the smaller gear range and higher weight isn’t an issue.
  • My Bike Friday NWT will get some full coverage Planet Bike Fenders and some fresh white bar tape. If Solidlights is still doing the XB2 light upgrade I may send my Solidlights dyno light back to the UK to get the upgrade from brighter LEDs and a focused optic.
  • My Pugsley needs a saddle [I stole the Selle Anatomica for the CETMA from my Pug].  Rather than put the SA back on I’ll replace it with SDG plastic saddle unless I take it on tour where the SA would be appreciated.  I’d also like to swap in some MTB riser bars from my spare parts bin for the Titec H-bars to get a better relationship between the brake levers and the shifter/grips.  Right now I can’t have my hand on the grips fully while braking which is a problem in technical terrain.  I have a set of Surly Larry knobby 4″ tires I will be installing on the Pugsely in 2011 to improve traction in the wet.
  • My Bike Friday 8spd Tikit has a new stem riser waiting on installation.  The new one piece unit replaces the previous separate stem and steering riser combo.  I’ve got to replace the whole drivetrain on this bike since it hasn’t seen any love since new.  It also needs a new set of Greenspeed Scorcher TRs.
  • I’d like to get a tour of Vancouver Island in this spring…from Port Hardy back down to Victoria.
  • I’d like to fit in more mountain biking.  Kiteboarding dominates my summer weekends, but I can fit more mountain bike rides in during the week.

There is also some stuff that I’m less certain about that is bouncing around my brain.  These items may not happen, but who knows?

  • Getting a tandem.  I’m continuing to do research and will hopefully get some test rides in over the next few months to confirm our interest in riding on the same bike. I’ve got a few possibilities on paper right now, but nothing that is so compelling I’d rule out other options.
  • Alfine 11 – I’d like to try one out, but I haven’t got a solid idea of where I might use one.
  • Carbon belt – I’d like to try out a carbon belt drive at some point.  I’m not 100% sold on them, but without trying one it’s hard to speak about the benefits vs. a chain.
  • Trying out a BQ approved 650B rando style bike.  I’m curious if I’ll come to the same conclusions as Jan Heine and the only way to know is to try one. I’m not ready to spend top of the line custom $$ on one so I’d be looking at something that’s in production like the Boulder Cycles Randonneur.
  • I’m contemplating riding some more brevets this year…if I do it will be just the shorter ones [100K, 200K and 300K].  I’ve got to find my love of long solo training road rides.   I’ve also done all my previous brevets on a recumbent.  I don’t own a bent and I don’t see one in my immediate future so I’d probably press my Surly LHT or BBC 24 into service.
  • I’m considering building a bike storage area in my yard to free up garage space.  It would be a concrete pad with eye bolts sunken into the pad for locking points.  It would have a roof, but not be fully enclosed.  I’d lock up my more sturdy bikes there [like my Surly Big Dummy] giving me more room in the garage and also making getting rolling on these bikes faster.
  • I may get rid of one of my two fixed gear bikes to free up some space.  I love the fixed gear experience, but one bike would meet all my needs.