Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, February 29, 2008

/ping Argentius bytes=32 time=864000000ms

Result [happy fucking leapyear]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No, I wasn't really trying to sulk. At least, not that much.

But, my internet access -- in my whole complex, so I couldn't use the leasing office's machines -- just took a dive for the better part of a week.

It was an interesting break from connected life.

Anyway, I'm back, and this will be replaced with something more interesting, probably in the morning. Right now, though, I should already be in bed...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pet Peeve of the Day: Peanuts.

Yeah, the regular old kind you eat. I mentioned an econonmics question about the things a while back, and now I'm just going to talk about these things as a food. I hate them. Most especially, I hate peanut butter,

Actually, I don't hate eating peanuts, and I don't really mind a peanut butter sandwich if someone hands it to me and there's nothing else around, though I can't actually recall the last time that has happened. I think they are middling unpleasant.

The thing I hate about peanut butter is that, in the United States, the stuff is EVERYYwhere. I mean, I can't turn my head without seeing something peanut butter. I get angry at any assortment pack of any packaged food item, which of course I'd avoid entirely except their portability makes them good cycling and road food. But any variety pack of, say, Clif bars, or granola bars, or any other snacktype item includes at least one, sometimes two, peanut or peanut butter varieties. Blah. Many American granola type mixes include peanuts.

Like, what the crap is that stupid stuff that people pass off as trail mix now? It's basically chocolate M&M-clones, peanuts, raisins, and maybe two or three almonds.

So, it's like this: I really like most tree nuts ("real" nuts, you know) and drupe seeds that are nuts in the culinary sense, like Almonds. I especially love hazelnuts, and in Europeland they seem to be all the rage: Hazelnut butter -- Nutella and clones -- are ubiquitous. Most chocolates and candies have hazelnuts as the standard variety. Many breakfast-cereals and muselis have hazelnuts in 'em. They're everywhere. Peanuts? Nowhere to be seen. I remember my sister desperately looking for a Taste of Home in France, and essentially being unable to find peanut butter, nearly at all, except one tiny jar of "peanut pate" at one little specialty grocer.

Now, Hazelnuts, or what we farm country Oregonians and other Cascadians often call "Filberts," are pretty common in this part of the world, so that's not any excuse. So, what gives? I know peanuts are cheaper by the pound, and THAT is because they are NOT a nut, and don't need a whole tree to grow, but still.

Tomorrow I'm going to tell you about my Muesli, and a funny story about Nutella.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Two Ways to Keep That Economy Rolling:

Cycling's a gearhead hobby, no way around it. Some of us, like yours truly, are pretty broke. But how to keep the wheels of the ol' economy greased? Didn't you learn about the multiplier effect? Nevermind that real-world data...

First off, this sweet idea: Competitive Cyclist's Saddle Demo Program It goes like this: Pay $75, and get a box of 11 of the most popular saddles at yer door, to batter around for a weel, and then return. Get $35 of that as a purchase credit. When you figure roundtrip shipping's included, I think they make like twenty bucks to process this whole deal.

Okay, wait, why do you want to do this? Crap, why do I want to do this?

Well, you tell me, champ. How'd you get to the saddle you ride right now? How'd you decide it was the right one? Ten minutes on a trainer dosn't mean squat, I'll tell you that.

I started out with a Fizik Pave, the oldschool-ish kind, because I had no idea what to get and the LBS wrenchbrain who built my bike said it seemed like as good a choice as any. It probably was. I tried a Selle Italia SLR on my next build, because those 135-gram beauties were all the rage with the weight-weenie geeks. Wow, how I hated that saddle. Then I tried a Selle San Marco Concour Lite, which fit like. Well, you know. A glove. Only, a saddle.

I am just going to stop this analogy before it gets any worse.

I scored the Concour Lite from Eben when he decided it destroyed his backside worse than any other saddle he'd ever tried, and he'd gotten it from someone else who'd said the same. I later put that saddle on my "other" bike, and got an Aspide, same brand, for my main road bike. That's a rather unfortunate name for a saddle if you ask me, but you didn't. Anyway I thought I'd try it out because I got it as a part of a trade, and, honestly, it looks a bit racier than the brick-with-a-spolier that is the Concour. It probably isn't as comfortable, but, what the heck, right?

So, I don't really know which is the right, or the best saddle for me. Sure, many bike shops will let you bring back a saddle that you don't like and exchange it, but you'd probably feel like a schmuck doing that a dozen times in a week, wouldn't you? Plus you'd hammer on their inventory for sale, instead of parts that are spec'd for this use. I'm also kind of surprised that some saddles go for over $200 these days, but, they do.

And, for that final bit of trivia, why in the world is it a saddle, anyway? What do you say when people ask you how you can sit on such "tiny seats?" In motorcycling, I learned this one: Sit on a seat, straddle a saddle. There ya have it.

Your Fixed Gear Connection: The other thing is that M.Wrench pointed out to me that the Local Peformance Bicycle Store had these fixed gear street bikes for like 200 bucks. Two hundred bucks? Really. With a clever combination of coupons and sales, you can make it even cheaper. People who are into fixies are all about the make-it-yourself kick, especially when something like a Specialized Langster will set you back about five pieces of valuable linen blend, or at least a credit card charge in that amount. Erm, okay, that was probably too cute.

What I'm trying to say is that major brand ready-to-roll fixies cost in the neighborhood of $500, and the bike at the flying P cost about $200. I checked it out last time I was in there hunting down a valve extender. It's pretty basic, of course, but the frame has real track ends, and aside from a cheapo crank that looks like a BMX knockoff, it's got flat bars, a basic road wheelset, and two brakes if you need 'em. I didn't actually look close enough to see whether a freewheel, fixed cog, or both were included, but it was at least one. None of the parts really had and branding on 'em, of course. But, shoot: even if you did it all yourself, building up a decent fixie is gonna cost more than that if you don't have a bin of parts to start with, and aren't just planning to suicide hub some old 10-speed you've got sitting around and hope the chainline works out.

Anyway if that was the kind of thing I were in the market for, I'd definitely look it up. Oh, yeah, I did have a look on their website, but nothing for it. I have no idea if this is a one-off, or what. I'll ask if I'm down there again, though I don't have the occasion to go very often.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Week Went Where? Snoozing into far off tales.

Has it really been a week (minus a day and a half, I suppose) since We Last Left Our Heroes?

Today, straight from the gun, I'm going to bring up a Pet Peeve that's been bothering me since probably forever: The Snooze button. Who invented this thing? Ten minutes is JUUUUSST enough time to begin to drift off to sleep, only to have it shattered again.

Now perhaps for some people this is encouragement to get their lazy butts out of bed, but for Yours Truly, it's some kind of twilight zone moment. There is this place between consciousness and sleep which I am convinced is the root cause of all terror and all creativity.

If I haven't woken up after the first time the sucker goes off, it's going to take five to ten. In that space of an hour or so, I will turn off the alarm half a dozen times without consciously realizing I'm doing so. Yes, I moved the alarm to the other side of the bedroom, but that's not good enough: I guess I can almost sleepwalk over to it. At least, sleep-lean.

This morning, I dreamt of an eerie night on a house in a quiet beachfront town. There had been a murder, and I knew something, but didn't want the police to find out. I tried to skulk about the town to track down some more information. I have no idea who my character was: I rarely play Yours Truly in the dreams that I can recall. Although we never got to the end, it felt like some sort of H.P. Lovecraft story. That's sort of cool, but has nothing to do with getting out of bed, which I did with a sharp intake of breath at 7:40 am.

Now, one could also say that you oughtn't need an alarm clock to get out of bed if you get enough sleep, blah blah blah, but let me assure you that if some days you must wake up for work at 3:00 in the morning, and others you do not get home until eleven thirty at night, it's not going to work like that.

I'd love to keep an effective dream journal of all this stuff, but part of the reason it inspires so much fear is how fleeting it all is. Is this what it feels like to go completely crazy? Searching in my own mind for answers contained therein but completely obscured by and rapidly sinking into some eldritch mental ooze is about the oddest thing I've experienced.

Some days, when awake, I feel a little chill, a twinge of what might offhandedly be called déjà vu, accompanied by a warping, tinny conversion of all the world's sounds. It's as if I'm listening to a faraway land on a old transistor radio, the frame rate of my eyes either seems to accelerate or drop dramatically, and the night (for this is always at night) feels absolutely strange.

Yes, really.

I just might be inclined to talk a little more about this, but I'll leave it by saying that, first of all, the more I train, the less strangeness interrupts my days. I suppose even my mind gets tired.

Finally, this is why my weblog is titled "Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn:" I began by attempting, usually with great futility, at typing out the strange days that posessed my life before I began training for bike racing.