Monday, May 31, 2010

WTF Syndrome - It's Getting Hot

As many of you know, I suffer from Word To Form (WTF) syndrome. Just search WTF on this blog for examples and explanations. Anyway, I was over at Rat Trap Press and was struck with a peculiar case of it, a case in which I thought I saw a bicycle seducing two other bicycles.

Perhaps it was the post's title "It's Getting Hot" that made me think such things, I don't know. If I knew, I wouldn't suffer from my special malady or produce things like this:

I would like to apologize to RTP in advance for putting such a sordid spin on an otherwise lovely and normal blog post. Sadly, I can no more deny my WTF than I can control my customizer. Forgive me, him, and all those who are ruled by decidedly unruly impulses, for though we know what we do, we can not seem to stop doing it.

I've got to go give Mrs. Rantwick some goonie eyes of love now. She's more real than steel, man, and that's the truth.



Hey, it's late Sunday night as I write this. Another Monday is just hours away and has caught me unprepared. I know I'm getting to be a broken record, sorry. Thankfully I keep a bunch of lame ideas for blog posts in the hopper for these increasingly frequent difficult blogging times. I just type a title and a snippet of a thought and save it in the Drafts folder, hoping I'll think of something better and never have to use it.

Tonight I brought up the drafts folder, closed my eyes and stabbed a finger at the screen, and this is how you ended up reading even more dubious content from Rantwick. I will improve someday soon, I hope, but no promises.

Anyway, the fantastic idea for this post is to collect peoples's less-than-deep questions in the hopes that qualified answers will show up in the comments. I mean, everybody loves sitting around pondering the mysteries that feed the soul and give one a reason for living, but that's what religion and/or drugs are for.

Sometimes questions just pop up, shallow questions. Please post your decidedly-less-than-philosophical questions in the comments, and if you can answer any of the questions with COMPLETE confidence, do that too. I will update the body of the post with both new questions and new answers. I guess it's kind of like a reverse wikipedia that starts with questions. It's Jeopar-rantwiki-dy!

That part about being sure of your answers is important. We're all smart and can make good guesses about these things. I can provide any number of good guesses about my lame questions all by myself. I don't want guesses. I want answers you are certain of. I am not going to play fact-checker, so if I post an answer with your name on it you had better be certain it is right.

Speaking of fact-checking, please don't do any research to find the answers to these questions. I mean, any of us could do that. Let's see how we do with our own brains. Now, if one of the questions makes you crack a textbook from some course you took eons ago because you knew you knew the answer but wanted confirmation, that's different. You knew it in the first place, right?

My original post that was sitting in the drafts folder had three questions ready and waiting in it. I am going to post just one, the one that will best set the tone for online learning, enlightenment and mutual understanding:

Q1, from Rantwick: When you're taking muscle relaxants (for your back or whatever), how come you don't poop your pants?

Q2, from John Romeo Alpha: What is the actual, practical benefit of still having Daylight Savings Time?

Q3, from Kokorozashi: Is Wikipedia a bastion of the great democratization of knowledge, a harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it, or both?

A3, from Rantwick: The first thing you said. Or whatever you think, since it is, I'm afraid, a matter of opinion. I personally go with bastion.

Yer Pal,


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spandex, Singing Fruit, Loaded, Leather, Moonroof

I discovered (or remembered) some stuff on youtube that I wanted to share. It all started with my last post. The youtube video for that one was entitled Spandex Commuter VS Electric Bike. Well, you know how youtube links to "related" videos you can look at after the one you chose to see? Well thanks to "Spandex" being in my title, I looked at "Mr Scruff - Spandex Man" after playing my video:

OK, not a lot to that one, I know. But after playing it, there was a link to this other "Mr Scruff" related item that I liked very much:

There were tons of "Mr Scruff" videos, from all kinds of different "authors". Turns out Mr Scruff is a prolific British DJ and artist. The singing fruit Mr Scruff video made me think about youtube and how much I like music at the same time, which resulted in my looking for some video of Don Ross, a mind-blowing guitarist that I had the great pleasure of seeing live about 5 months ago. The following will hold almost no interest for some of my readers. For those who play the guitar, however, it has the same kind of effect on them as that Danny MacAskill video has on cyclists.

It is insane that the only guitar you are hearing in that piece is his. Just one. Gah. Don Ross doesn't look like that any more, by the way. Most of that hair is gone. On stage he said young youtube commenters were telling him he looked like Hagrid from Harry Potter, so he thought it was time for a new look.

Anyway, I thought I would share, because this blog is at least in part a method of sharing stuff that most of my everyday local friends may not find interesting. There's always a like-minded freak who'll agree with me on the good old Internet. Not that you are a freak. I mean all the other freaks that come here. Not that everybody who comes here is a freak... I love that people come here to read my stuff. Even those freaks, the ones that aren't you.

Keep it Freaky,


PS - In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I did watch that other spandex video of the woman in the green jump suit, and the one with the bobsledder splitting her spandex pants. Sometimes youtube is like a car crash... I know I shouldn't look, but I cannot tear my eyes away. We shall not speak of these things again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Encounters With Rantwick, episode eleven: I Pass Something Annoying

It's wasn't a kidney stone, but oh, the pain!

I don't know about you, but when I pass another cyclist, I make a point of dropping them pretty quickly if I can. I do this because I hate it when somebody deems it necessary to pass me only to slow down and block my progress once they have done so. Sometimes when I'm kind of pumped up in the middle of a ride, I'll pass somebody going almost as fast as me. That is the worst, because then I feel obligated to kill myself rather than take a breather and allow them to pass me back. I get more exercise, but I always feel a bit stupid for caring whether I get overtaken by them. I mean, who cares, really?

This espisode of Encounters With Rantwick is all about a pass gone horribly wrong...

Any 2 wheels trump 4. Always, near as I can figure.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Are You #%^&1n' Kiddin' Me #1

I am starting yet another series, this one aimed at stuff I see on TV that I simply cannot accept. This time it is an offering that prevents us from contacting the germs on our soap. Stuff like this just makes me want to scream.

Are we really so frightened of germs that we must kill the ones on our soap pumps, the ones that only have seconds to live anyway because we are washing our hands with antibacterial soap? I pity the fearful people who are willing to buy this kind of thing. If you are one of them, sorry, but Are You #%^&1n' Kiddin' Me? I pity you too.

Hopefully Still Yer Pal,

Monday, Monday

Sorry, no post worth mentioning today because I'm studying for an exam I'm taking Monday afternoon. I hate to write posts like these with no content... but the only content I have handy is questionable at best. It comes as yet another picture of My Customizer. It would seem he is starting to relax a bit.

I originally used an uncensored picture, but when I previewed this post it made me feel like I was somehow betraying my customizer's trust.

I wish I could feel as loose, but I'm pretty nervous about this test. Wish me luck!


Friday, May 14, 2010

A Quick Question Plus Something Bound to Fail

I've read that the more expensive helmets are better ventilated. I currently wear an almost as cheap as they come model from Canadian Tire. I don't want to spend twice the money or more to have a marginally cooler head. I'll spend the dough, but only for a markedly cooler head. Discuss, and thank you.

One other thing: I have invented a diet! I'm on it right now and have a "book" I'm writing based on it. It is typical RANTWICK style nonsense, but it may also actually work for me. If it doesn't, you'll not hear of it again. If it does, you'll be the first to know.
Yer Pal,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Trek 520 Build - Part Three - Powdered, Dusted and Sprinkled

Mmmm. Donuts. I love donuts. And recently blasted bike frames. If you showed up here because you love donuts too, I am afraid I am about to disappoint you. Take comfort in the fact that my regular visitors come here ready to be disappointed ahead of time, and maybe get yourself a donut at your local deep fried dough establishment. That should make you feel better.

This is Part Three of an ongoing series of posts documenting my painfully slow progress in building a light loaded touring bike. If you care to read the whole thing so far, use the "Post Series" link to the right.

So, to continue: I took my newly blasted bike frame to H&G Powder Painters here in London. I didn't know if it was strictly necessary, but I only handled the frame while wearing some thin disposable plastic gloves and when the H&G people saw that, they thought it was probably better that I had done so and complimented me on the care I took. It is entirely possible that they just thought I was a big freak and were lying to me, but even if that was true they certainly got the message that I wanted proper care taken with this frame.

The big question was, of course, what colour I wanted the bike to be. In completely boring but practical fashion, I went with a glossy black. There were two main reasons for my choice, the first being that I quite like "plain" bicycles in black, white or silver. The second was that H&G does "runs" of black all the time, often for industrial applications. If I had wanted something more interesting, I would have had to wait longer and possibly pay more. Decision made.
I consulted with a young man named Jason from H&G who was enthusiastic and showed very quickly that he understood what needed to be masked off and why. I got the feeling he was looking forward to doing something a little more sporty than screen doors or gardening equipment or whatever. Anyway, the frame got done and I'm really pleased with the results:

Those pictures show pretty well that the black powder looks good and stops in all the right spots (no threads or inner surfaces for me to clean out) and that my front lawn really sucks. Ah well. I like making bikes, not caring for grass. Sue me.

So that covers the "powdered" part of this post's title, but what about the rest? When I first brought the frame home I left the frame and fork on top of a wood pile on our porch. There is a ton of construction going on in my neighbourhood, which is raising lots and lots of dust. When I took it down to take some photos for this little article, it looked like this:

Now that wasn't gonna do for a "hey look at my pretty bike frame" picture, now was it? I had to rinse off the frame and give it a wipe before taking the nicer photos from earlier. Despite the little annoyances like this that the road work produces, you will never, ever hear me complain about it, because I love smooth pavement. The frame now resides in my basement tool room, where most of the dust is kept down by sweet, cool basement-y humidity and an abundance of cobwebs. So that's the "dusted" part. Now for the sprinkles!

The day after my bike was done, the aforementioned Jason gave me a call. He said he wanted to discuss how my job went. I was naturally a little concerned and went over to H&G at the first opportunity. Jason wasn't happy with how my frame coating had gone. It had sprinkles:

You may need to click on the above image for a bigger version to see the sprinkles.

For reasons Jason wasn't exactly clear on, some particles from some other job or item being treated ended up part of my powder job. Jason told me that he takes great pride in his work and that didn't want me to see these sprinkles later and come back unhappy. I had to take the frame out in the sunlight to see them at all, and overall they looked kind of like a sparse metallic fleck to me. I asked if there was any chance that the durability of the coating would have been affected, and he said absolutely not. He offered to try re-coating the frame or knock $30 off the original $80 we had agreed on. I took the $30 without a second thought. I had thought the $80 sounded like a pretty damn good price in the first place.

I would like to thank H&G for their friendly service and Jason in particular for presenting me with what may be the first ever occurrence of a price being reduced by adding sprinkles. Just try asking for that at an ice cream place and see how it goes over. I dare you.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know enough about the powder coating process to have caught this "problem" on my own. I would have paid my $80 quite happily. But they were honest and I really appreciate that. I wonder if my carrying the frame into their place while wearing silly little plastic gloves has anything to do with it? Perhaps, but I would rather think that this is just a case of a business doing the right thing in the hopes of gaining one more happy customer. They have.

Before I go, there is one more picture that I want to share with you for no good reason other than that I think it looks kind of cool:

Thanks for reading Part Three. The next parts will be about components, of course. I have 'em all picked out, but don't know when I'll be able to buy them. There's also a Police auction coming up that may yield some cheap bikes laden with good parts, but I am skeptical. Short version, don't hold your breath for the next part. Everything comes in its own time, even stuff you don't necessarily care about or want.

I have promised to keep good records of the costs involved with this build; I am beginning to regret that because the final, true cost of my bike building is going to shock me and Mrs. Rantwick, I think. A promise, however, is a promise:

Build $ Tally:

Used Frame + some parts I will re-use: $80.00

Used Wheelset: $100.00

Blasting of frame: $50.00

Powder Coating of frame: $50.00 (super deal)

TOTAL to date: $280.00

Yer Pal,


PS - Upon re-reading this post, it looks like I'm promoting H&G. I suppose I am, but only because I'm a happy customer. Neither have I have received any monetary consideration for what I have written, nor do they even know that I have written it.
Click here to continue to Part Four - Have Parts, Will Dawdle

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Go Ahead, Swamp My Contest

There are some very nice comments already for the Obstructionist Art contest, for which I thank all who have submitted something. I wanted to let everybody know that since the contest will remain open until July 1, multiple entries are not only allowed, but encouraged!

If you really want that Canadian Tire money (and who wouldn't?) please feel free to out-do yourself and everybody else with as many comments as you like.

Yer Pal,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bicycle Restoration

I'm still pretty slammed with work and life right now, but it is Monday and I wanted to post something.

My buddy and I played at a Stag n' Doe on Saturday night, doing our acoustic duo thing. It was a really fun night. I don't know what your experience of such events is like, but in my world these are usually pretty boozie affairs. I didn't go crazy or anything because I was playing, but I drank enough that leaving my car there overnight was the wisest course of action.

I awoke fairly early on Sunday morning, feeling a little bit hung over. It was cool and raining lightly. I got into some cycling clothes and rode out to the Stag n' Doe location to get my car. I have long been a believer in the restorative powers of a bike ride when you're feeling a little worse for wear. This ride was just over seven miles, so no big deal. The rain got heavier. I made no attempt to stay dry, instead allowing the cool rain to wake me up.

If you don't list riding your bike among your favourite hangover cures, I strongly recommend giving it a try, and arrange for some cool rain to fall if you can. Rain makes it even better.
Be Good,