Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Gasp SARATS Entry!

Hey there! Long time no write! How have you been? I sure have missed you these last 9 days... I have no good excuse. Just got busy again. Somebody else who got busy was Darin from Duluth, Minnesota. He submitted a picture for SARATS at 9:01 PM (Eastern) on December 15, bringing the total number of entries to a whopping 18! There were 12 entries in the Smackdown's first year. Now, does that translate to 150% growth or 50% growth? I've always been a little slow on growth percentages. In any case, it is awesome. Thanks again to all who entered.

Here's Darin's email:

Hi Rantwick,

I guess I've procrastinated as long as I could, so here is my entry into the smackdown.
These two beautiful maples are in my back yard in Duluth, Minnesota. Not only are they the perfect distance apart to hang a hammock, the squirrels and chipmunks who frequent them keep my dog, Loki, entertained and out of my hair for hours on end. 
Thanks for putting on the contest, and despite what Loki may think, I find reading your blog much more entertaining than watching squirrels and chipmunks.


Pretty damn good entry if you ask me.
I consider Darin an excellent new acquaintance for several reasons. First and foremost, he appears to be pretty crazy about bikes and has a number of them that I envy and/or covet quite badly. This leads to a second reason; one of said bikes gets ridden in Winter in Duluth, Minnesota.
Look at those fat tires. So cool. The last reason I'm pleased to have "met" this dude is that Duluth Minnesota and the pictures from his blog remind me very much of my birthplace and childhood home of Thunder Bay, Ontario, which I openly pine for sometimes on these pages.
Look at this map:
Hell, we're practically brothers! Darin, please don't be alarmed. I won't be showing up at your house or anything. I may, however, be sending you some syrup; only the voting will tell.
Speaking of the voting, it may have to wait until the new year, meaning a SARATS winner may not be declared until later in January. Sorry for the delay, but I've been kind of swamped lately.
I probably won't be writing again until after Christmas. I want to wish all of you a truly peaceful and loving holiday. Whatever you think the real point of Christmas is, cling to it as best you can and try to just dump all the rest.
Yer Pal,

PS - I take issue with Darin enjoying reading my blog more than watching squirrels. Squirrels should win that one hands down. Darin, you're not my new best friend anymore, you anti-squirrel watching jerk. So there. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

A SuperMutant, Boeshield T-9, and a Tree

I have sad news. Mutant Winter is no more. When I got around to trying to clean her up for this winter season, I found that the disc brakes had deteriorated into rusty clumps of unfixable goo. I didn't want to buy new ones. Other things were also pretty bad, so I stole the studded tires, the second best tub in town, pedals and a few other components and slapped 'em on an old SuperCycle mountain bike. SuperCycle is a house brand for Canadian Tire bikes. At the lowest end they are about the same as NEXT or any of the other cheaper department store bikes. The Gary Fisher Bitter that Mutant Winter was based on was nice, but while I wait for the time and resources required for my next sweet winter bike build, I figure this will suffice. One nice thing is that by combining parts from Mutant Winter and this SuperCycle, I have created a SuperMutant!

SuperMutant, sans Tub

I guess it doesn't really look like a mutant at all yet. I'll get there, I promise.

The Deore derailleur from MW wouldn't work on this frame since it required a derailleur hanger, so I bought a new, cheap ($15) Shimano "Tourney" from Village Cycle in my neighbourhood. Looking at it, I knew its screws and other silver bits would begin to rust immediately in the salty road conditions here. That's where the Boeshield comes in.

Boeshield T-9 is really great stuff. I originally bought it to treat the insides of my steel Trek touring frame. I also sprayed it on a heavy chain that I use to lock up bikes on my porch. That chain has been sitting outside in the snow and and mist (although not direct rain) for about 15 months and it still looks pretty good...


I only treated it with Boeshield that one time over a year ago, so I'm pretty impressed. A steel chain left outdoors would normally get rusty pretty quick, I think. Anyway, I hosed down that derailleur and many other parts of the bike with Boeshield and I bet it'll help considerably. When I get around to building a new winter bike, I will use Boeshield from the get-go on everything (especially spokes, nipples and rim eyelets: I've had nipples break due to salty brutality) and every few months in the hopes of keeping it nice despite the salty crud it will face.

If you are thinking of commenting about how I should give the bike a rinse after riding in salty slush, I know, I know. I also know myself and that I'm too lazy or hurried or both most of the time to do what I should and Boeshield or something like it may be my only hope.

Where was I? Ah, yes, a tree! There is another SARATS entry. It is a Steve A find from a blog post he read. It is, however, being entered by the owner, Durango, who shot it in Fort Worth, Texas with Steve's encouragement.

Love that dome shape, man. Thanks for the tree and good luck in my contest! 

Yer Pal,

Monday, December 5, 2011

The End of SARATS?

It is entirely possible that the two entries I show you today are the last I will receive before the deadline of December 15. Whether I get any more entries or not, I would like to say that I am more than pleased with the response, especially considering that I've been less active on the blog this year. Thanks very much to everyone who has entered so far!

This one was from Bob in California, who responded to the post about PaddyAnne's #13 entry with this email:

Yo Ranty,

I don't have a story as grand as PaddyAnne's, just trying to show some love from the West Coast (of the U.S.) and break your 13.

I'm in San Juan Capistrano, California. The tree in front of our house is a bit stubborn and only a few leaves have turned, but luckily one cul-de-sac over is this beauty. Unfortunately all I have is a phone camera at the moment, so the quality ain't so great. And yes, you can see that pretty much everything besides this tree is still Granny Smith green. And yeah it was 77 degrees here today. Sorry haha.

Have a great one,
Bob, I'll happily get reports of perfect weather from anybody, any time, because I'm sick enough to enjoy "bad" weather most of the time anyway. Thanks for the tree pic! Because I'll be displaying them to voters on a laptop, pictures of lower quality will display pretty much as well as super high res ones, so no worries.
Next came a more mysterious entry from what my gmail calls ".w..brwn." . No worries .w..brwn., I've got your real email address as well but wouldn't post it here. If you win, you'll get email for sure. If you see this, leave a comment to tell me where your tree is located (country, city, state).
Here's .w..brwn.'s brief message:
Hello Rantwick,

Thought I might send an entry for the SARAT competition that you are running.

This particular tree is located in park that I pass though frequently. It was in fine colour this year, however recent change in weather and winter temperatures alas is now taking its toll.

Ah, such is the nature of Autumn glory... the fleeting quality of a tree's fall foliage is part of it's beauty for me; thanks for your entry!

Trees! Woo Woo! R A N T W I C K

Sunday, December 4, 2011

SARATS Entry #14

Steve A, and then two more others, quickly responded to my desire to have more SARATS entries than an odious 13. I'll be posting the other entries shortly.

Steve resides in Texas, which makes a foliage competition a little more daunting than it would be for, say, someone like me in London Ontario, or most people even a little further north.

I find it quite gratifying that Steve had trees on the brain over the last couple of months, evidence of which can be found in this post on his blog, DFW Point-to-Point.

In the end, Steve went with this indoor specimen found in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah:

From Steve's email: Make sure you tell the voters that the Mormons will send missionaries to convert them if they don't vote for my entry! 

You have been duly notified. How do you feel about people who come around to your house or stop you on the street to talk religion? I like 'em. I admire their conviction and thoroughly enjoy talking with them. I'm afraid they often find me rather stubborn in my "many many answers" or "whatever floats your ark" religious approaches, but every chat I've had has been polite and kind and generally nice. I haven't been converted from my kind of half-assed brand of Catholicism yet... but who knows, maybe the next missionary I meet will blow my mind wide open! I don't think it very likely, but never say never, man.

For now I think I'll stick to worshipping at the Church of the Mighty (Extra Light Canada No. 1) Maple, and I would be most pleased if you would join me.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Please Pardon My Absence: I Was Busy Preparing to Fail

I have been very stressed out and busy preparing for an Exam that I wrote yesterday. I bombed. Like really bombed. I will be extraordinarily lucky if I get the 60% required to pass. The crummy part is, I studied harder than I ever have for just about anything. I prepared  a wide variety of answers for the essay questions that may come. None of the questions I prepared for were on the test. NONE. I am totally sad and upset now, because I have never failed at something I actually put reasonable effort into. There are options for failures like me to re-do the exam, thank God, but man, will that ever suck.

Hey, what if the marker of my exam happens to be a Rantwick reader?  I mean, at least a couple dozen people in my great province read this blog... Hey, remote Exam marker person: You rock. Like, really. Please mark my exam like somebody really nice and/or stupid would rather than how I would or how you normally would. Thanks! 

Ah, well. What's done is done and all I can do is await my fate. I was provided with a study package that may have well as been one page that read "study everything"... but at least it had its lighter moments in the final point of the "exam tip ands tricks" section:

That's all for now, because I really am kinda whipped from 3 days of rather intensive, perfectly useless study on top of work. You should know, though, that I currently have 3 more SARATS entries to tell you about! Leaves! Trees! Salt Lake City, Utah! San Juan Capistrano, California! Unknown location! Aren't you just busting with anticipation? I'm not, because I've seen them. But they're coming to this space soon, I promise. I'm thinking Monday, but maybe sooner... I dunno.

Yer Pal, R A N T W I C K