Friday, December 31, 2010

FARATS Fixer Found! Feeble Foliage Freak Forgiven.

My mystery visitor left an anonymous comment confirming that they had loaded the votes for RTP's Charlie Brown tree. For those of you who may not remember that entry, here it is:

Here is what Anonymous had to say in answer to my query as to whether they had voted many many times for this tree:

"I did and i feel bad. i just liked the little tree.sorry i wont do it anymore if you want to start over."

The feeble foliage on RTP's small tree was bound to evoke feelings like this in somebody. I thought from the start that it might win thanks to its "Charlie Brown" qualities. How can I not forgive somebody who feels remorse and "just really liked the little tree"? Didn't we all? Don't feel too bad mystery visitor, because I've got a decent solution that does not involve starting over.

For submitting an entry that moved somebody to vote like crazy, RTP will receive one of the prizes. The entry that receives the next highest number of votes will receive the same prize, as will one more entrant selected at random. This bumps the prize count from 2 to 3, but when you start with really small and cheap prizes, it's not so bad.

the prize: 100 mL (3.4 fl. oz.) of pure joy joy tree juice

I admonish anyone reading this or interested in this contest not to engage in any more crazy voting - one vote per reader, please!

Oh, yeah, Happy New Year! Can I do that now, or am I guilty of premature congratulation?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Coming Thru

Hey all, just a quick note to put you onto what I think is a pretty damn good bike blog (magazine) that I have never seen before called Coming Thru. It is very nicely designed, has no ads and a really wide variety of well written stuff. Check out this straightforward post about why commuting by bike is good:

The site was started by a Belgian and a Finn, so the perspectives are a little refreshing for North Americans too, or at least I think so.

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Statcounter and My Mystery Visitor

You know what? When I look at my recent stats, somebody from London Ontario was visiting the hell out of my site over the past few days in an almost "automated" fashion. In addition, they are using some platform that statcounter (a popular online tool I use to keep web stats) can't figure out. Here's a sample:

Date: Dec 28 20:35:02
Browser: Default Browser 0
OS: unknown
Resolution: unknown
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
ISP: Rogers Cable

Most often they were linking from a google search page but sometimes with no referring link. Rogers Cable is a very popular residential ISP here in London. I left out the IP address of my mystery visitor, because, well, I don't know why but I didn't want to post that kind of info.

Around the same time they were showing up a lot, votes for RTP's Charlie Brown Tree went through the roof. If voting is controlled by a cookie rather than IP address, it could be that the platform they are using can vote as much as it wants... I'm not especially savvy in such things. For the record, I don't think for a second that RTP has anything at all to do with this and I'm not even certain that my mystery visitor is indeed responsible for his tree's outstanding performance anyway.

Hey, mystery visitor, if you read this, tell me if you have been voting many many times for RTP's Charlie Brown tree somehow. I have nothing at all against RTP winning this, but I am becoming curious...

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hey, Spread the News

If you've got a spare minute over the holidays, please take it to send an email encouraging people to come and vote for FARATS trees. I've been doing what I can, but I would like to see more votes determining who wins if possible.

The link for the voting page is

Shameless self promotion if you are an entrant is permitted and expected, but don't be surprised if your friends arrive and are won over by somebody else's tree. Hey, it wouldn't be the first time... it happens, you know?

Speaking of votes, I would like to thank the readers of who are responding to my thread reply over there... you are helping already.

Signing Off Once More and Wishing You a Merry Christmas and Stellar New Year, I remain Yer Pal,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Cycling - What Cold Looks Like

When you dress for commuting by bike in temps below freezing, you account for the fact for the fact that your body will be working and generating heat. I mean, if you dressed for standing waiting at a bus stop, you would overheat badly.

If you find yourself slightly under dressed or cold while riding, you can usually change your gearing and/or cadence and warm yourself up. That's why this is what cold looks like:

I've read forum/comment stuff that says when it comes to winter clothing, "cotton kills"!  In a retaining moisture / sweat and freezing you to death while trekking through the mountains sense, that is absolutely true. In a Rantwick riding with cotton jammies (yes, the same ones I slept in) under rain pants in the middle of a comfy city sense, cotton and a general belief that you will be moving constantly makes you cold when a stupid slow train gets in your way.

I was never in danger of freezing to death. If things had gotten really bad, I could have just turned around and ridden my bike in circles or around blocks to stay warm. I chose to sit there with the cars and get cold. For the winter commuting cyclist, trains (or other lengthy stoppages) are what cold looks like. In any case, I'm not going to be so lazy with my clothing choices any more... I have lots of good moisture wicking stuff I should have been wearing.

I'm gonna cool it with the blog thing over the next couple of weeks I think. Vote for your FARATS tree and have a phenomenal new year, everybody! I'll be back then to make a big fuss about mailing maple syrup an so on.

Good vibes to all, and to all a good night!

Yer Pal,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cast Your Vote in the First Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown!

First off, if you have no idea what FARATS is, click here. Then, if you want to read every single stupid post written about it, click here, and be prepared to see most recent posts first. I don't like that, but can't seem to change it either.

Now, for the 30 or so people who know what I'm talking about already:

OK, sorry I'm late. I've been messing around with online voting code. Believe it or not, it is hard to find stuff that will handle the Twelve FARATS entries we've got! I think 12, an even dozen, is pretty good, don't you?

I have determined that rather than fussing about any more, I'm gonna put the poll in the sidebar where it is easiest and will remain visible, so after reviewing the entries in this post, vote for your favourite over there >>>

I said earlier that I wasn't going to name the entrants, but now I think that just takes some of the fun out of it, so I've done a 180 on that and the poll will have their names right in it. Anyway, here are your FARATS entries! In an effort to present them in "random" order, they are alphabetical by submitter. Linked names go to their blog if they have one. Remember to click on the images for bigger versions!

Big Oak's, from Auburn, Indiana:

Chandra's, from the Campion Trail in Irving, Texas:

John Romeo Alpha's, from Phoenix, Arizona:

Keri's, from Florida:

Kokorosashi's, from New Albany, Indiana:

PaddyAnne's, "The Empress", from Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York:

Pattie's, from London Ontario:

Rantwick's "King of Autumn" from London, Ontario:

Rat Trap Press' "Charlie Brown" tree from Fort Worth, Texas:

Steve A's, from "a secret, maple-free location in North Texas":

Tracy Wilkins', from Springfield, Missouri:

Sir "Willie Bean" Wallace's "Lady Guinevere", from Lord Stanley's Park (Stanley Park), Vancouver,BC:

Study these images well and don't vote before you are sure of your favourite! The poll shouldn't allow multiple votes.

Thanks to Everyone Who Participated! The tree receiving the most votes and one other lucky entrant chosen at random will receive a fantastic maple-y prize!

PS - I just had a terrible thought... if you submitted something and I have missed you somehow, email me ASAP!

Thank You for Your Patience

It is finally FARATS voting day but I'm not ready yet. I'm hoping to scrape together a little time at lunch to get it ready. Worst case will be a voting page posted this evening. Sadly, I have been running hard on everything but this blog lately.

Attention entrants: I am not going to associate trees with their "owners" in the interest of more fair voting, but I would like to post their locations.

Please comment on this post and give me the locale your tree pic is from. Even if you think I should know where you're from by now, it will simplify things for me if you comment and not all of your trees are from your home towns anyway.

Thanks to all who submitted a tree!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baptism In Snow

Well, the worst of that snow storm appears to be over and London Ontario continues to dig out. Last week's rides to and from work on Thursday and Friday were some of the most technically demanding I have ever experienced. I tried riding in on Wednesday, got a few blocks from home, decided it was too dangerous and went back home and grabbed the car. Things were made worse by the fact that I didn't get a chance to ease in to snowy riding, going from bare pavement to kookoo town just days after I started riding Mutant Winter again.

Thanks to the sheer volume of snow and cars mashing through it, the always treacherous "lightly trafficked" kind of snow often had strange hard snow/ice islands and ridges hiding underneath it. I walked my bike more than I ever have. "Giving Up" and walking it sometimes actually made the rides much less stressful, if a little tough on my ego.

This morning dawned much colder (approx -13 C / 10 F) than other recent ones. Warm wet snow yesterday and recent plowing made many of the backstreets into skating rinks. That is OK with me because the studded tires do fine on hard ice and I made much better time than in the shifting snow.

Just the same, it would have been OK to have one of these today...
pic source

I'm gonna be busy busy for a while, so I likely won't be posting again until Thursday when the FARATS voting begins. Try to behave while I'm out. Remember, Santa is watching and will punish you without hesitation because he is a very angry dude what with the melting of the icepack and everything.

Yer Pal,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Last Plea: Foliage Me.

As the deadline for FARATS (First Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown) entries approached, I figured I had received all the entries I was gonna get. Then I got this email and entry from Sir Wallace, aka a-dude-I-won't-use-the-full-name-of-just-in-case-he-wouldn't-like-that. Here it is:

Sir Wallace sez: The name of my tree is Lady Guinevere, as she was (apparently) the only one standing after all of all of the knights of the round table perished. This was the ONLY tree left with colour when I went out to take pics.

Anyone who is reading about this for the first time might think Sir Wallace a little odd with all this "Knights and Ladies" stuff, but I started it with naming my tree the King of Autumn and inviting pretenders to the throne, usurpers, etc.

I was super pleased to get this late entry... it made the December deadline kind of worth it. Now those of you who haven't entered but were thinking about it have one last chance to make it EVEN MORE worth it!


The "y'all" is dedicated to the twisted Texans who choose to read this blog despite its decidedly Canadian (maple-y) flavour. I love you guys and gals, especially when you make worthwhile attempts at getting good fall tree pictures despite being at a distinct disadvantage in terms of foliagity. Yes, "foliagity" is now a word, because I used it and at least one person (you, I bet) understood my meaning. I feel like a God. I Make Words.

If you are reading this, have a tree pic suited to my contest and don't get it in before (or on) Wednesday, December 15, 2010, you will likely regret it for the rest of your life. Or for several really glum seconds. Depends on the person, you know?

Thursday December 16, the post featuring all entries and a method of voting for them will go up. Voting will end at 12:01 AM January 4, 2011. I chose that date because it gives people a chance to recover from new year's hangovers, return to work and start wasting time online again. Some people, you see, stop goofing off on the Internet and enjoy their families and stuff over the holidays. Other people, like me, will be riveted by the voting action on FARATS and pay attention to their loved ones when it is more convenient.

Can you feel the Holiday JoyJoys Yet? Try harder. I mean it. Get Happy, Now! But No Pressure, Really. Except from those you care for. Pressure from them.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moose Me!

Very cool. A friend sent me this link to some video of a most excellent bike path meeting:

link to moose video on facebook

Sorry, no time to blather on like usual.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big Snow

Remember how I was celebrating the arrival of winter on Monday? Well here in London Ontario winter just kept arriving, dumping a record amount of snow on my city. There was so much of it I didn't ride my bike yesterday or today. I treat each winter as a personal challenge to ride every day come hell or high snow, but even I had to give over this time. My kids are getting 3 snow days (schools are closed) out of this. I am jealous.

I hope to ride my bike in to work tomorrow. I would post a little video if it weren't for the fact that my crappy bike-mount camera was finished off by a big pothole the other day and I can no longer attach it to the bike.

I have plans to locate another cheap camera for this purpose. This would never have happened in a smooth pavement Utopia.

Most parts of the city had received a metre or more of snow by Tuesday afternoon, which is 100cm, or 3' 3" for you 'mericans. In many places it drifted to much greater depths. That is about half the snowfall London usually receives all winter. This town is almost completely shut down. Here are some pics:

a house down the street


wind sculpture

the menace from above

Rantwick daughter missing school

Rantwick son also devastated

I've kind of got my hands full at work and at home thanks to all this snow. I'll post something again soon I hope. In the meantime, stay cool.

Yer Pal,


Monday, December 6, 2010

Random Acts of Lego Kindness and Other Good Things

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've had a case of the holiday blues lately. I know, I know, cry me a river. I have no right to feel down about anything because I am truly blessed in all of the most important things. I'm writing about feeling low, though, because I am feeling decidedly better now. Yesterday was a really great day for lots of reasons:

Winter Arrived in London Ontario:

My bikes shared a brief moment together as they passed the torch and commiserated over carrying my big butt to work and back every day. Summer has been safely stored in the shed, and Mutant Winter has taken her spot in the porch lockup. Highway (the Trek 520 build), on the other hand, is living in the basement like some weird freeloading aunt who is hoping for some attention over the winter months. We shall see.

Mrs. Rantwick and I went out to do some top secret Christmas stuff yesterday morning. When we arrived home,we found this awaiting us in our bedroom:

It almost made me cry.

Please note that I will not tolerate any suggestion that this message is some kind of self-serving effort to curry favour during this time of intense focus on children's desires. This was the creation of Rantwick Jr., the same kid that created the Grumbear.

I saw a Grumbear on a family hike once.

He is a giving and genuinely loving person who, at least right now, simply doesn't think that way. Suggest any different in the comments and I will send the Grumbear your way, and believe me, you don't want to mess with him:

Later we went to a kids Christmas party at my work, where I was once again reminded of how good people can be. Tons of people volunteer to make it a truly great thing for the kids, with free food, carnival games, a bouncy castle and a really great Santa Claus (you rock, Larry) sporting a real great white beard among other nice things. People from work (some of whom one would never suspect) do all kinds of work to make it happen and I just show up, have a great time with my kids and go home happy. If any of you are reading this, thanks so very much. You put on what must be the best kids Christmas party in town, bar none, and I really appreciate it.

By the time you read this, I am hoping to have enjoyed a fully blissed-out MUP ride through powder (London doesn't plow most of the paths) coming in to work. If so, expect more good vibes from this direction soon.

Yer Decidedly "Up" Pal,

PS - If you're new here and were expecting a rant, sorry. I chose my name only to discover I don't often fit it very well. I do get a little ticked sometimes, but in general I'm more on the positive side. I still like my name though, so, tough.

Friday, December 3, 2010

If You Were Riding the Bicycle #4 - Sidewalk Temptations

99.7% of the time, I don't ride on the sidewalk. I've got a couple of video clips, one from the summer and one from last week sometime...

When I review those clips, I find myself a little confused. Why am content to wait with the rest of the vehicles in one instance and not in another? I think the main reason is that in the first case I would have had to commit to staying on the sidewalk for quite a while because traffic was backed up, while in the second case it was more of a quick "ride around that garbage truck" kind of thing. In the first clip I was headed home from work near the end of my ride, but in the second I was going to work and near the beginning of it, so maybe the potential for lateness played a part too.

I don't believe that taking to the sidewalk is the right choice at any time, yet once in a long while I will do it anyway. When, if ever, does the temptation to ride on the sidewalk overcome you? Would you hit the sidewalk in order to overtake slow or stopped traffic?

What would you do if you were riding the bicycle?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Most High Tech Shoe Drying System Ever

I am fortunate in that I work with technology and have access to the latest in wet cycling shoe drying systems.

Among several choices I have most recently been favouring the HP 10642 G2 rack with dual HP Proliant DL380 G5 servers, although pretty much any servers will do since they all make heat and include good fans to move it away. In terms of heat generation, the more servers in the rack the better. These particular servers take up 2 rack units (or one shoe width) and the cable management cages at the back can be converted into to the optional shoe drying compartment very easily. Let's look at some pictures of this super efficient shoe drying marvel!

Here's the front view:

As is often the case, the real magic happens behind the scenes. Here's a view of the rack from the back:

My apologies... "cable management cage things" should read "Ambidextrous snap-on cable management arm and quick release levers". Sorry. Anyway, here's how it works:

See? I get to work with some pretty advanced shoe-drying equipment.
I do not recommend infiltrating the computer rooms at your workplace and doing something like this on your own. Somebody will probably flip out on you. Ask somebody who is allowed access and is familiar with how it all works, however, and they may well be happy to help you out. Server racks are also ideal for drying wet clothing, but I have always found soaked shoes to be the bigger challenge.

Yer Pal, R A N T W I C K

PS - If you are thinking, "Holy Nerd!" at this moment, might I direct you to the source of my footprint graphic, a web site from a local Comp Sci professor named Stephen M. Watt from the University of Western Ontario?

I have no doubt whatsoever that this dude operates on an intellectual level well above, um, mine. I can also state with some confidence that he is a bigger nerd than I am. A bigger, more successful, smarter nerd that I envy, but a bigger nerd nonetheless.

PPS - I did not take Comp Sci at any time during my academic endeavours and I discovered this local guy's page while simply searching for images of footprints. Go and figger!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blogger's Automatic Spam Detection For Comments

I hate spam comments and the idea that my readers will have to read any because they were nice enough to subscribe to the comments on any of my posts. As such, I make every effort to delete the little suckers the moment I am aware of their presence. Another thing people using the blogger platform (and others, I suspect) can do is turn on moderation for comments on posts more than x days old. Cafiend of Citizen Rider put me on to this, for which I thank him. To do this in blogger (as it looks right now, November 2010), follow this handy diagram and save your changes:

This prevents people who subscribed to comments on one of your posts from receiving email thanks to spam comments made weeks or months later. Good stuff. But what about the time period before your posts become moderated? That's where a fairly new feature in blogger, "Automatic Spam Detection for Comments" comes in. I saw it mentioned on the dashboard for my blog, but didn't give it much thought until recently, when I received this irksome bit of mail in my inbox:

Its nice Blog.affiliate marketing is a web-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts.

I bet I garnered this flattering "Its nice Blog" comment because I was foolish enough to put "Affiliate Marketing" in the post title. Oh crap, I just used those keywords again! I am less concerned about that today than yesterday. Here's why: I rushed to my blog to destroy the offending comment, only to find that it wasn't there! What? Where was it? Given the title of this post, you know what happened, but it took me a little while to clue in and check the Comments tab in blogger...

This is the first spam comment I have received since the automatic detection was introduced. It would seem that at least in this case, it worked just fine! Thank you, blogger!

Now if they could just add a "dashboard" link for when I'm signed in but viewing the blog, I'll be really happy. I keep clicking "design" just to get to the screens where I can select "dashboard"... not that I'm really complaining. I mean, it's free, for Pete's sake! What have I got to complain about?

Don't Stop Riding Your Bike! Hang on just a little longer...