Monday, November 08, 2021

So we're getting near the end of the year, and I've yet to post anything at all. The lack of posting is in part due to covid. Covid is boring and not worth writing about. The lack of posting is also due in part to a "site not secure" warning that has been appearing every time I typed into a browser for the last two years. You see, when I first started this website, I was young and the internet was easier. At one point, I was using our desktop PC as a server. Whenever somebody happened upon my site, the hard drive would wake up and spin. I don't remember how I learned to do this or why I bothered going to the trouble of doing it. But time moved on, things got more complicated, and I could not figure out how to get that site not secure warning to go away without paying somebody far more than my site is worth for an SSL certificate. Fortunately, this kind person who must be much younger than me and have a whole lot more time on her hands and was apparently in the exact same situation as me (free blog courtesy of google/blogspot with a paid domain name/domain name forwarder hosted by godaddy) wrote a step by step guide that was simple enough for an old guy like me to figure out. So welcome back everybody. Please enjoy some secure browsing. For my next trick, I'm going to go through all the dead images that were at one point hosted by imageshack and now are nothing and replace them with good links.  


Wednesday, December 02, 2020

First Quad Tandem Tour

Loaded for touring
A little before the toursists came back, we woke up early packed up the bike and set off for Kaanapali. In our prime, this would have been a very easy tandem ride, but with a few years, a couple of kids, a super heavy bicycle, and 30 pounds of gear, I was a little concerned. Note to self: I will never honk my horn through that tunnel again.  
The Pali
View from room

If you're looking for somewhere to stay with your 13+ foot long bicycle. I'd recommend the Marriott Maui Ocean Club. They have a covered surfboard rack that they offered to us (which I assume is usually available) or an indoor locked hallway (that's probably used for luggage storage when there are actual tourists on the island). The reception desk clerk also upgraded us by about 5 room categories. 

Close to nothing was open in Kaanapali, so we rode into Lahaina two or three times to eat.
Breaking the law

The ride home was considerably worse than the ride there. The late morning crosswind/headwind didn't help. We were so exhausted that we had to stop 2 miles from home to rest. 

Shave ice stop

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz on your 5 grand stereo

Way back in high school, I used to have a job selling speakers. Most of the speakers I sold weren’t exactly great, but after a year or two in the business, I had put together a pretty decent sound system (particularly for a teenager). The speakers and aging components made several cross-country (and at least one international) move(s) with me, but were eventually replaced with a 5.1 home theater in a box. Technology had advanced and I must have decided that both the space and financial commitments would have been too much to upgrade to a modern AV setup that actually sounded good.

The perspective is a little off. The sub is
about the size of three Dingos.

An unexpected and unfortunate side effect of the cheap 5.1 system was that my music routine changed significantly. Specifically, I mostly stopped listening because everything sounded unpleasant. Even more unfortunate, I did not notice this had happened until 10 or 15 years later when I made a somewhat extravagant coronavirus lockdown purchase. I won't bore everyone with the details, but this subwoofer would have gotten me kicked out of any apartment in which I used to reside. 

And on to one of the numerous problems the 2020s have presented: My music collection was previously contained in a 300 disc changer, which replaced an older 100 disc changer that kept getting stuck every time disc 67 came up (if memory serves, it was a Red Hot Chili Peppers album). This was high-tech in 1998, but stopped working sometime around 2016. I had made a couple of half hearted attempts at ripping everything, but never got very far. Although I have used Pandora as background music for years, paying for streaming music seemed almost obscene. I went through several free Spotify trials, one of which caused me to lose a free Hulu subscription. I tried Tidal, because what's not to like about master recordings? [I used to collect Mobile Fidelity records of music I didn’t even like because they were supposed to sound better.] But the Tidal interface is terrible and their highest quality recordings will not play through my receiver without a lot of extra equipment. I'm currently on Amazon Music. Overall it seems to work, and my nine year old can play Taylor Swift in her room without disturbing what’s happening in the rest of the house. 

I'm now on month five with the new setup. I would say it's been almost life changing. Definitely life altering. We’ve had music going in the family room fairly non-stop. The music of my youth; music my parents listened to; music my grandparents might have enjoyed; and quite a bit of music that I never would have bothered listening to, but figured would sound good on this stereo. Which finally brings me to the reason I started writing this post: Tim Quirk’s Five Star Songs. He was the front man for one of my favorite bands in high school and college. Nico and I once drove from Indianapolis to Chicago and back, possibly on a week night to see them at the Empty Bottle. I passed up a $200 offer for an out of print record while I was a starving student because I figured I would never find another copy. And come to think of it, I stole the name of this blog from one of their songs. Tim Quirk must have started posting about his favorite songs 4 or 5 years ago. I paid occasional attention, usually thinking "I should listen to more Pavement" or "How have I never heard of a band called Ted Leo and the Pharmacists?" I rarely played a song when it came up in my feed as I would usually be at work and never have headphones on my person. Anyway, the search for new tunes made me think an Amazon playlist of Tim's songs would be a worthwhile expenditure of my time.

Let me now spend a few sentences complaining about the Amazon Music app: It might be better than Tidal's, but it's still horrible. If you're looking for obscure music (as much of this playlist is), it's either not there, or very difficult to find. A single mistyped letter results in nothing returned (I can't tell you how many times I accidentally wrote Camper Can Beethoven or Camper Van Beerthoven). Compilation Albums (which is much of the soul I was able to find) are almost invariably attributed to "Various Artists". After a few hundred songs, I would cheer when I was able to find a song on the first try without googling anything or reversing the title and the artist or searching for the artist and then scrolling through 200 songs. I almost cried when Amazon matched "Shed" up to Henry Wallace Shead, Sr. (AKA Shed). I found myself going to greater lengths to find hard to locate songs if the descriptions made it sound warranted. I spent a solid 20 minutes on Padraic Morrell because my family had a similar experience in an Irish pub a couple of years ago (or maybe pubs is more accurate). 

I seriously doubt I would have attempted creating this playlist had I realized how long it takes to add 1200 songs on Amazon (I only found 989 of them). If you've read this far, you deserve this link.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

15 more minutes

Photo courtesy of ex-girlfriend who must have
been a recipient of one of my father’s 30 copies.
When I was in the third grade, I learned to solve the Rubik’s cube in a little under a minute. Don’t be too impressed, I was in a couple of competitions and my old nemesis won in under 20 seconds. But my father, who was hoping I’d be smarter than I am, was impressed and called up some reporter he knew at the local paper to write about me. That night, we drove all around Monrovia buying up every available copy. I’m using the term “buying” loosely, as we went to every machine, put in a quarter (or whatever the paper cost in 1980) and took all the remaining copies. Years later I started thinking this approach was exactly wrong. If you want the public to know how great you are, you can’t take all the evidence out of circulation.

Our quad tandem was built by Rodriguez Bicycles in Seattle.
Anyway, a few decades later and I have once again become newsworthy. Which reminds me, have I failed to mention that we now have a really, really long bicycle? For those happening on this page that might be interested: It has 15 S&S couplers (which enables the quad to be converted to a triplet or a regular tandem and also to fit into 3 airline standard cases), a Rohloff Speedhub, a bar end shifter controlled rear disc, and two child stoker kits. The rest of the bike is pretty standard.

They spelled our name wrong and mixed up
Jancie and Zooey, but we were powering by
so quickly that I suppose the errors are
I made sure to tell my children that if we went out to buy multiple copies, we would be paying for each one. But when I saw that the Maui News sells for a whopping $1, I started to reconsider. Fortunately, my ethics were not put to the test because the machine at the hospital only had one paper left. Nico went out to buy another 10. I'm going to assume she paid full price.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Dear friends, family, and coworkers:

It is with much excitement that I tender my resignation immediately. I have enjoyed my career as a pharmacist immensely, but recent world events have taught me at least one important lesson: most of the four thousand something unique pharmaceutical entities available in this country are not that effective for their intended uses. 

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, there’s been some evidence that a previously unknown, untreatable virus has been slowly making its way to our island paradise. As a former pharmacist, there is nothing worse than an untreatable disease. And of course, this virus could not have arrived at a worse time for Nico, who had recently settled into a new position teaching Maui’s youth. How will she cope with being cooped up with her own misbehaving children instead of everyone else’s? The same way she copes with everything else: By sewing and fulfilling an important community need.

And so I announce our new business venture: The Lasko Covid-19 Personal Protective Mask and Gown. Unlike cheaper imitations, which if you’re lucky might contain flower petals and mint, the Lasko Covid-19 mask is infused with pharmaceutical grade hydroxychloroquine, ground into a pharmaceutically elegant powder guaranteed to provide the exact prophylactic dose needed to protect the wearer from SARS-CoV-2 and/or possibly many other viruses.    

Please get your orders in quickly. Due to extreme demand, we are anticipating material and medication shortages in the near future.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

10 Things I've accomplished in the last 10 years.

Facebook reminded me that I wrote this post exactly 10 years ago, so today seemed like a good time for an update.

1) Moved across an ocean (and then moved halfway back).

2) Held a baby for the first time. Yeah, that's right I hadn't held a baby before.

3) Became a citizen of New Zealand.

4) Had a few photographs published. I didn't get paid for them, or anything, but at least three people thought they were good enough to bother asking if they could use them. One of them is on this website.

5) Visited seven countries (though only four of them were new).

6) Qualified for the Boston Marathon (unfortunately I was a little too slow to be able to register that year and I'll probably never be that fast again).

7) Learned how to perform maintenance and a whole lot of repairs on an old Jeep.

8) Held down shockingly steady employment (especially compared to the last decade).

9) Taught two little girls how to bicycle.

10) Stayed married another 10 years.

Monday, December 02, 2019

After an hour of rigging this RS Feva is ready to go. 
It's been a long time since I've posted about sailing and not just because I haven't posted in a long time. I also haven't sailed in a long time. To rectify, I finally got around to joining the yacht club, and while they heavily promote the availability of their Olsen 30, I appear to be the only person interested in sailing their robust fleet of small boats (which are primarily used for youth sailing classes in the summer).

After proving myself on the water and taking an online boating safety course, which is actually only required in Hawaii for boats with motors, but it was free and only took me six hours, I've been asked to submit a sailing resume. Keep in mind, this is a yacht club that requires sponsorship letters to be on real paper (bar napkins are insufficient), so Nico thought I should write a real resume and not just a letter listing my experience.

Some of the dates are my best guess.

With those three things out of the way, I need to take a written test at the yacht club and post a $1000 damage deposit and then I am hoping to get the keys to the boat shed, which contains a bunch of Open BICs (which are way too small for me), a fleet of ancient Lasers (which I'll probably have to bring my own rigging to sail), and some beautifully kept RS FEVAs.

Of note, I am less bendy than I was the last time I was in a dingy. Two days later and walking is still painful
The author circa 2003

Sunday, October 27, 2019

This post may be inappropriate for viewing at work.

Alternative title: When a Mommy Honu and a Daddy Honu love each other very much...

I didn’t know it was turtle season (and I kind of assumed this was a land base activity).

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Beach Day 312

 It's not particularly funny, but whenever I have to replace something I hadn't thought I would need to purchase a second time, I think of that second bottle of Tabasco. And after four-plus years on Maui, we had to move onto our second beach umbrella. If you spend any time on a Maui Beach, you'll notice a whole lot of Tommy Bahama umbrellas. That's because Costco sells them so cheaply that many tourists stop off to buy one after their flight and them on the beach at the end of their vacation. [Aside: I bought mine on Amazon during a rare Costco umbrella dry spell.] These Costco umbrellas are not very well made and it does not take a very strong wind to let you know it's time to leave the beach. So when the four-plus years of rinsing the pole in the ocean caused a horrible dangerous shattering of rusted aluminum, I was sort of happy to be able to upgrade. The new umbrella is bulky, heavy, and difficult to set up, but it's supposed to withstand 42 MPH winds. Review to follow.

I've been trying to get Jancie snorkeling. She's fine with goggles. She's fine with fins. She's fine with the snorkel on land, but as soon as she gets in the water, there's some problem that begins with screaming and ends with her wanting to get out of the water. I lured her back in with the mask only after promising she could take some underwater photos. [Note: all under water photos taken by Jancie today are of her hands, so they will not be posted here.]

In case you hadn't noticed, I've quit Facebook. Or I guess I haven't actually quit, but I've dropped off for the present and near future. Sharon Kim, if you still read my blog, it was your hotel with a harp in the lobby. First I thought: I want to go to a hotel with a harp. Then I thought: why does Sharon get to go to a hotel with a harp? Then I thought: Everyone must be having similar reactions to every single one of my posts. I realize this blog might have the same effect, but I figure anyone bothering to make it to my page either came here on purpose, they wanted to know the caffeine content of a decaf nespresso pod, or perhaps they heard this is the place to find nude photos of Nico (apologies, if there ever were naked photos of Nico on this blog, they were hosted on imageshack; I didn't realize imageshack was still in business, but even during 1.0, they were not terribly reliable).

If you haven't seen enough fish yet, here's a short video with a special guest green sea turtle.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Kahekili Highway In Reverse

Actually, the title of this post should be Kahekili Highway counter-clockwise, though there was a fair amount of reversing. For those of you unfamiliar with Maui, the Kahekili Highway is a fun little windy road that you might find yourself on, should you decide to take a "shortcut" from the Ritz to the Airport. Apparently, some of the rental car companies on the island tell you not to drive on it or your contract will be voided. As the road is completely paved (and beautifully smooth), I doubt you'll really void your contract. But if you drive over the edge and end up dead, I suppose it doesn't really matter. Anyway, proceed at your own risk. 

I've driven the road a dozen or so times in the clockwise direction. That way is pretty easy because 1) you're on the mountain side of the road for most of the turns and 2) most tourists drive clockwise so there isn't a lot of traffic coming at you. 

And now I know: counter-clockwise is much, much harder. For starters, if you get t-boned going around a turn, you're likely to get pushed over the edge. I only felt like that was going to happen once, but on review of the video, it didn't look at all close (I don't believe it made the final cut). And secondly, the worst stretch of road on the whole loop is a downhill when going counter-clockwise (which caused me to spend 3 minutes attempting to back up without driving off the edge [successful] or hitting the mountain [unsuccessful]. Skip ahead to 5:45 if you would like to see the one lane traffic jam. 

Also of interest (all times approximate): 
2 min: rocks on the road
4 min: Kahakuloa
5:20 min: Kahakuloa Church