Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A romantic vacation for just the two of you...and eight of your closest friends.

The things people would yell: "She's not pedaling...and neither is she, or she, or she, or she..."

Word on the street: This bike is actually a few triplets coupled together.

Monday, September 29, 2008

That's Armageddon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dow down 778, worst point drop ever, after the House rejects the $700 billion bank bailout plan.

Strangely, since I have not looked at my 401k (and I won't be for a long, long time), I haven't really noticed.
May your year be filled with apples and honey.

.ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי העץ
Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha‑olam, bo're p'ri ha‑etz.
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

יהי רצון מלפניך, ה׳ א‑לוהינו וא‑לוהי אבותינו, שתחדש עלינו שנה טובה ומתוקה.‏
Y'hi ratzon mil'fanekha, Adonai Eloheinu velohei avoteinu, shet'hadesh aleinu shana tova um'tuka.
May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our ancestors, that you renew for us a good and sweet year."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Blogger Toys

None of you have signed up as frequent readers, and I know there are at least three of you.

I am very disappointed in all three of you. Do you have any idea how many hours it takes to come up with clever things to write here every day (or at least every week)? By contrast, I have never made an update to my facebook page (which I do not even remember registering for) and I have four friends.

Monday, September 22, 2008

LBS Blues

Took the tandem into the shop (50 miles from our house) for a tuneup on Friday. I do most work myself, but I had a few issues I could not fix--at least not without buying some expensive tools.

1) Cassette: 3 cogs are worn enough to make the chain skip. I had already bought a replacement (ebay "bargain"). I have a chain whip and a cassette remover, but the biggest wrench I own is an 8" Crescent. I could not get the thing to budge. I would have gone out to buy a long 1" wrench, but since the bike also needed #2 and #3 below...

2) Headset: Steering has been indexy for over a year. I took the headset apart a few months ago and re-greased everything...I saw no evidence of pitting. Things seemed better for a while, but that may have been because I had not tightened it enough. I replaced the bearings/retainers last week, at which point I noticed that the fork crown race had some pits; not having either a fork crown race remover or a replacement fork crown race made this seem like a good job for the shop.

3) Rear wheel: The spokes on one side of the wheel sound a little looser than the other. Both wheels appear to be true at this point. I do have a wheel truing stand, but I need to get some practice on cheaper wheels first. Also: I do not have a tension meter, and I have been asked more than once if I'm tone deaf. This also seemed like a good job for the bike shop.

Estimate on Friday for the tuneup (which included fixing all 3 problems above): $120
Estimated date of completion: Saturday (when I inquired via email); Tuesday (when we actually brought the bike to the store).

Call #1 came on Saturday: "Stoker's bottom bracket needs replacing"...I had forgotten about this; it felt very jerky with the cranks off, but with them on (without the chain), it was not noticeable. "The front is better, but could use replacement, as well". Estimate: $50 each (for Shimano 105). I am almost certain it's going to turn into $80 each.

I'm still waiting for call #2: "You need a new headset". I'm debating between going with another Tange ($40) or upgrading to a Chris King ($120).

So far, I'm up to $220 (which will really be $280 unless they give me a rocking good deal on the bottom brackets). Once again, I am reminded that this is not a sport for the light of wallet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Twitter? I just don't get it.

I can assure everyone that my mother does not care if I'm eating soup.

Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
Partying? Your friends may want to join you.

(Email sent to my coworkers)

As some of you may be aware, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Feel free to talk like a pirate in the breakroom and hallways; however, it is inappropriate to talk like a pirate with our patients.

But just in case any of the patients start speaking Pirate to you (or in case any real pirates call), here's a list of useful Pirate phrases.

I have also found this English-to-Pirate translator (I cannot seem to find a Pirate-to-English translator).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Olin Stephens dies at 100; yacht designer known for America's Cup winners

Stephens produced designs for more than 2,200 boats, including Dorade, which won the 1931 transatlantic race, and America's Cup defenders including Ranger, Columbia, Constellation, Intrepid, Courageous and Freedom.

Speaking of Olin Stephens, here's an "improved" version of an old, old, Shields. Yes, that's a cabin.

Sailors: the boats owner has a pretty interesting blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Since I only need one copy of the Big Lebowski, and many of you are probably wondering what to buy me for my birthday:

How about reserving an Aptera for me? Your gift will not only help the environment, it will also help me achieve my goal of looking like I come from the future, without having to shave my head. FYI: That's a Seinfeld reference, and is in no way meant to imply that any of my readers look they are from the future.

Important note: I have not fully decided, but I think I would prefer the plug-in electric hybrid. But if any generous gift givers think the all electric model is the better choice, I will certainly not complain.

Since many of you like the environment, but don't like me enough to spend $500 on a birthday gift for me, I have set up a "Buy Michael and Electric Car" fund. Your donation is fully refundable if I choose not to purchase an electric car--this is the same deal you will get from Aptera.

Things you can never find when you need one...

Alternative title #1 was: "Hot showers are highly underrated"
Alternative title #2 was: "How to tell when you need a new water heater"

Since I went with "things you can never find when you need one" here are a few things you can never find when you need one...#3 is actually something you can never find when you're angry.

1) A camera
2) A fire extinguisher
3) A horn

Sorry, back on topic:
After a cold shower on Thursday morning, I made a valiant attempt at water heater repair after work on Thursday. Water heater repair did not go well, and resulted in a small electrical fire.

The photograph above does not accurately capture how small the "closet" in which our extra short water heater is supposed to fit is. [Is that a sentence? I've been taking cold showers for two days, my brain is frozen.] Getting the old one out required digging up the patio and sawing part of the old heater off; getting the new one in required sawing off part of the house.

A big thank you to Newport's best handy man (apparently not actively seeking business, or else I am sure he would have a dedicated website promoting said handy man business).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The only living boy in New York

Each of my neighbors has at least 5 surfboards in his/her garage; I am the sole resident of Newport who does not own a surfboard (or know how to surf). Since it will be winter before we have any leadership that might be interested in redistributing the surfboard wealth in this country, now seemed like a good time to learn.

Campus recreation (my employer for job #2) runs these surfing classes...which are actually taught by a Laguna Beach surf shop...Laguna Beach surf shop employees tend to be more attractive than UCI staff. [Wow, that last line could be misinterpreted in so many ways. What I meant to say was: I believe the class is being taught by the cast of Blue Crush.]

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I am told I have a birthday coming up. You will not hear that from me, as I have made a concious effort at my last few jobs to convice everyone that I was born on December 25th. Nico usually ruins my fun.

Anyway, I do not need 10 copies of the 10th anniversary edition of the Big Lebowski. I just need one copy, so please coordinate with each other.

P.S. To any co-workers who might be reading: I also lied about my middle name (it is not really Bart).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Orange International Street Fair (I am now caught up)

After the weekend at the beach, we still had time to meet some friends for some impromptu beer drinking.

Here's Nico and mi amiga Kelly (who lives in a cool house within staggering distance of said fair).

We watched the American Wake (my new favorite Irish band) over on Irish street before heading over to Mexico street, where Nicole's boss was working a beer booth. Tom helped answer the question: "Is free Michelob Amber Bock better than $5 Bass Ale"? Thanks for the free beer, Tom!

And here is my very good friend Nam (who might be angry that I am posting this picture) and his niece/nephew inside Watson's Drug Store. We were trying to hit the pharmacist up for some free medical advice, but the pharmacy was closed.
Weekend at the beach (catching up on some old business)

Some might think it's crazy to pay to stay in a beach cottage when you only live four blocks from the beach. But they are really cheap, I was able to get a reservation for one, and I wanted to see the controversy first hand.

So off we set on the bicycle [the Friday before last--sorry I'm a little behind]; Nico thought we were going to San Diego, but must have been happy when we stopped after 7 miles in Crystal Cove State State Park.

We had one of the few rooms without a view, but here are a few shots from the (shared) balcony:

We spent a lot of time drinking expensive drinks at the Beachcomber, but managed to get out for a bike ride down to Dana Point. To mix things up, we biked out of Dana Point Marina the back way. Here's a picture taken from the top of what might be the steepest hill in Orange County:

Overall, I found the cottage to be a little on the uncomfortable side. The accomodations are about what you would expect in a State Park, I guess. If you are used to camping, it will feel luxurious...if you have our tastes, it will feel like camping.
All Aboard America

Our troubles with the tandem and Amtrak are well documented...or if they are not, they should be; so it was with some trepidation that we signed up for the Amtrak Century (it's a 100 mile bike ride from Irvine to San Diego, if you don't feel like clicking that link). [Actually, it seemed like a pretty safe bet since the ride is put on by the Orange County Wheelmen--they have their very own tandem division.]

After running into a tandem team we had met previously on a Santana tour of Europe (and a few of their friends on a tandem and a single), we opted for a 6AM start. The ride began with a 10 mile loop around Irvine, followed by a trip through San Juan Capistrano, before heading to the Coast. Most of the route followed our typical path to San Diego (as featured in Bicycling the Pacific Coast). The OC Wheelmen did not get permission for 1,100 bicycles to ride through Camp Pendleton, so the route sheet called for 8 miles of I-5...we did not follow directions, and went through the Marine Base (without a problem).

Team Lasko was in perfect 80 mile shape, which got us to the bottom of Torey Pines. At the rest stop at the top of the hill, we rested with extra cold Popsicles and made a few repairs...and didn't see our riding companions again until the end. A horrible headwind after La Jolla slowed us down to a crawl. We drafted behind a blue Trek tandem for a few miles (thank you blue Trek tandem), but they proved to be too fast for the wiped out Laskos. Only the Navy was enjoying the wind. [I believe this is the only picture Nico took during the ride; the boats appear to be Santana relation to the tandem bicycle company).

We arrived at the train station, loaded our bike onto the "tandems only" 48' truck, changed, and walked over to happy hour before the train ride home.

The ride home turned out to be on a rented MetroLink train. We had not packed well for the train (no cooler full of beer), and were in a relatively tame care (filled mostly with moderately loud drunks and people trying to feed us). Above us, someone had brought 12V blenders and enough margarita mix to feed a train. We heard stories of pole dancing in the other cars. I'm not quite sure what one had to do to get beads from this guy:

We saw 20+ tandems during the ride (and a few others who were not doing the century, including some friends from the San Juans). A few interesting bikes: One beautiful blue Erickson, one sparkly green Meridian, and a red Calfee. Tandems, tandems, everywhere.

Total mileage: 103.5 miles
Total pedaling time: 6:43
Total time: a little over 8 hours
Nabisco: Seriously, don't you have a team of people to say things like: "Maybe hiring the Mannings and the Williamses for this campaign might be a bad idea"? Hey, if you're looking for other marketing ideas, I seem to remember Alec Baldwin playing a priest on Saturday night live who loved to "spread the cookie open and lick the creamy center..."

It's the Double Stuf Racing League-a fierce competition to see who's fastest to twist, lick and dunk there Oreo cookie! The league has gained popularity thanks to sports luminary like Peyton & Eli Manning, and now Venus & Serena Williams.