Friday, April 27, 2012

Help the Creator of the Grumbear

I am a selfish person. Here's the deal: Rantwick Jr., creator of the world-famous Grumbear, is raising money for the Heart and Stroke foundation in a school-based initiative called "Jump Rope for Heart". He skips, you pay. The selfish part is that normally I would take his pledge form into work and make the rounds and try to raise some dough on his behalf. The problem is, there are so many things circulating at my work asking for cash right now that I just don't wanna be one more. So here we are, with me flogging his charity on my blog. My problems become your problems.

Selfish. Selfish because I know everybody knows somebody who has some kid raising money for some sort of crap at any given time. Ah well, my blog isn't entitled "Decent Guy With High Moral Standards Who Likes Riding Bicycles". I'll do whatever I want, including wasting your time and making you hate me by asking for money. Freedom rocks.

Nevermind the unfair nature of this plea, though. Jump Rope for Heart is a good idea. Plus, Rantwick Jr. is a real character, the kind adults want to hang out with even though he's 10:

my fine young gentleman.

I'm a bad person and will probably get in trouble with Mrs. Rantwick for that one... I confess (although to the photoshoppie among you, it is obvious) to tampering with the photo below to get the one above.

Rantwick Jr. was born with a heart featuring a minor hole between the filling chambers of the atria, or Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). We were assured that he would grow and the hole would close, and we were assured correctly. He is fine and all traces of the hole are gone. To the parents of a new baby, however, this was pretty scary stuff. When "Skip Rope For Heart" rolls around each year, I am reminded of it. Did any research back in the day make Rantwick's Jr's heart thing more understandable and treatable if necessary? Likely so.

Hearts, to the best of my knowledge, are pretty important to most of the worlds creatures, at least those that have one. One creature that has no heart is the Grumbear. He'll just lay his wool and construction paper fury on you for absolutely no reason. He don't care 'bout nuthin'. He just ANGRY.

Unless you want this badass haunting your dreams for the next month, you better click here and donate something. I'm not kidding. He'll invade your mind, I swear.

Yer Pal,

What? You didn't click Rantwick Jr's donation page link? After that baby-with-a-heart-hole story? What the hell is wrong with you?

Seriously, though, thanks to all who give something, and thanks to those who wish they could but can't. I totally get that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just Ride Your Bike

Hey, don't let things like this get you down!

When something bugs me, there are two answers that work for me 99% of the time. 1) Take a shower. 2) Just Ride My Bike. I'm gonna play the odds with my readers a little now:

Hey, Just Ride Your Bike.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How To Bicycle On A Roundabout

On rare occasion, I find that I want to write seriously about something that may prove useful to others. I know, it freaks me out too. Anyway, here we go:

London Ontario built its first roundabout a while ago, at the intersection of Hale and Trafalgar. I think it has quite handily dealt with the railway crossing and traffic tie-ups that used to characterize that spot. Here's a picture!

source: Google Maps

I recently saw a cyclist (sorry, no video) riding to the right of traffic in this circle. They got through OK, but I sure don't want to see it again. As I see it, roundabouts are characterized by one main thing: everybody keeps moving. For the cyclist to the right of traffic, this means that they are, in effect, intentionally riding in a right hook machine.

The cars in the circle are under constant pressure from behind to keep moving and exit to the right as soon as possible.

When you commit to really taking the lane, roundabouts work great!

One thing about roundabouts is that they're super if you're in or on a vehicle. They are not much fun for pedestrians. If you are uncomfortable taking the lane on your bike, I get that. Get off and walk it for roundabouts. I'm thinking, though, that a busy roundabout is more stressful that way than my way. If you can make an exception and at least take the lane in roundabouts, that would rock. You might even start thinking about other places or situations where doing it makes things better for everyone.

One last thing: Most of the time I can take or leave sharrows unless of course they are of the pirate variety:

In the case of roundabouts, however, a bunch of normal sharrows smack in the lane would be a great cue telling cyclists where they ought to be. I might even ask the City to do it, which would be quite out of character for me; I am typically a rather lame excuse for an invested citizen.  

Yer Pal,

PS - Did you know that "Although the term roundabout is sometimes used for a traffic circle even in the United States, U.S. traffic engineers now make the distinction that in a roundabout entering traffic must always yield to traffic already in the circle, whereas in a traffic circle entering traffic is controlled by Stop signs, or is not formally controlled, although some states are exceptions, notably New York, which follows the "yield" rule although naming them Traffic Circles."? (source, wikipedia) I didn't!

Mighk was good enough to let me know in the very first comment and I have corrected the post accordingly, taking out most mentions of "traffic circles". Thanks Mighk! When I give out bad information I want it to be intentional, dammit!

Friday, April 20, 2012

If You Were Riding the Bicycle #6 - Handling The Oblivious

First off, let me once again apologize for my relative absence on the blog lately. I have a new and if I may say so, rather novel excuse. Believe it or not, I've been spending my non-working hours developing a Toy Idea. It's true. When my top secret invention has been adopted by a huge toy company and I'm all set to collect my millions in royalties, you can bet I'll flog the product on these pages. Until then, the best idea anyone ever had will have to remain a mystery and this blog will suffer a little. Now, to bicycle business:

Sometimes you need to overtake somebody who is completely oblivious to your presence...

I have no interest in ridiculing the young man who didn't know I was there. I was young once, and in hindsight I know that I often acted like a bit of an idiot. Sometimes, a full-on idiot. At other times, a completely annoying ****head. I like to think I'm a good guy, so it wouldn't be fair to get all cranky about this kid now, after I have learned a great many lessons largely by being stupid. I guess my point, if I must come to one, is that there will always be people who appear to be oblivious to their surroundings including me (and you too, I bet) sometimes.

The question, my friends, is what you would have done (really have done), if you were riding the bicycle. Hindsight, as previously mentioned, can be pretty handy. Next time I think I'll swing wide on the grass. Trouble is, you don't know somebody is clueless until you're slow and close enough to find out, so the grass becomes a minor pain on a skinny tired fixed gear. Oh, the dilemmas faced by a blessed man. How completely awful they are. I really don't know how I bear it all.

Tune Out the Bad,

PS - Can I tell you how much I like the new youtube upload interface? It is, in my opinion, WAY better now. Because I know you really wanted to know what I thought about that. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. Right? Right?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Things People Say Fridays #3 On Saturday - The Law

The reason this post is showing up late Saturday night is that I've been trying, without success, to make the youtube vid show up like it does on my desktop. It won't. After a dozen infuriating tries, including some right from scratch, it still goes wrong in the bits about me and London cops. I know things flash too fast and you don't have enough time to read some captions. I've been screwing around with it for two days. I'm done. F(%k It. Now to the originally scheduled post:

I recently posted some pics of myself that included my geeky helmet cam. Cafiend, one of my oldest returning visitors, said "The helmet cam front view looks like a bike cop. If you want a less conspicuous camera, get a Contour. They're more tubular".

Turns out Cafiend, as often happens, was right on the money:

Have Great Weekends, Please.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Spoke!

"The bicycle spoke may be one of the handiest non-tools ever". I am writing this post because I had that thought once again last night after using a spoke to fish things out of our bathroom sink's drain. There were cotton swabs, a toothpick and other stuff, all efficiently removed using a bicycle spoke, which saved me from having to drain and possibly take apart the trap. I have posted some less-than-appetizing pictures on this blog, but not even I would inflict a picture of what I found on my readers.

I will, however, post a picture of the mighty bicycle spoke; let it be praised with full voice!

I took this picture myself and so hold (or held) the copyright for it. In this age of rampant online image stealing I often wish for completely baggage-free images. Creative Commons designations are awesome, but I did a little research and went a little further. You can read my non-copyright statement if you view the picture full-size, but here it is for your immediate easy-reading:

Hey, wait a minute... that's an image too. Should I put my non-copyright notice on my non-copyright notice?

No "by" designation, no conditions of any kind. This is a FREE image! As in free to wander the globe and appear in any form for any reason (including commercial) with no strings of copyright holding it back, ever. Ahhhh.

Be Free,

PS - Hey, I went off on my copyright tangent and forgot to ask you to please submit any and all excellent uses you have found for bicycle spokes. I think that might actually be educational, so please comment!

Monday, April 2, 2012

SARATS - Last Post

Well, JAT's maple syrup has finally been produced and is ready for shipping, hopefully today. I had placed a pre-order for his bottle, and when Jakeman's called me and I went to pick it up, I asked the lady working there why Extra Light was so hard to find.

I thought it was only a difference in processing of the sap... I was wrong. Apparently in order to make Extra Light the temperatures had to be cold enough (which hasn't happened much this Spring) and the lines (tubes down which the sap flows) had to be clean, as in free of heavier sap that may have run previously in warmer temps. In any case, Jakeman's came through for me:

When I was a kid I used to buy books for my brothers for Christmas and read them first, being super careful not to crack the paperback spine. If I could have snuck a teaspoon of JAT's syrup without cracking the cap ring thing, I probably would have. What can I say, I am morally bankrupt when it comes to gift (or prize) giving. Still, some say say the best gift is often something you want to keep for yourself...

I stuck it in the window so you could see how light in colour it is. This ain't no run of the maple maple syrup. Because I know everyone is fascinated by maple syrup and the differences between its various grades, I thought I would include this:

There are 5 different grades of maple syrup.

•Canada # 1 Extra Light maple syrup (sometimes known as AA)

•Canada # 1 Light maple syrup (A)

•Canada # 1 Medium maple syrup (B)

•Canada # 2 Amber maple syrup (C)

•Canada # 3 Dark maple syrup ( D)

The very finest of maple syrup, # 1 Extra light, is very light in colour subtle in flavour and delicate in taste and most often used to make maple syrup sugar candy as it can be concentrated and still maintain the light taste and colour. The # 1 Light is most often used in our Italian glass bottles to capture the rich gold colour while remaining translucent on the shelf. # 1 Medium is the most preferred table grade, with a distinct maple taste, great with your morning cereal, baste pork or poultry, ice cream, pancakes, fruit, yogurt, toast, waffles, tea, coffee or your favorite liquor. # 2 Amber is preferred for cooking, food flavouring and places you wish to impart lots of maple taste. # 3 Dark is restricted for use in commercial flavourings where the heavy bitter taste goes a long way.

I've boxed up the prize:

Please don't interpret that photo as some sort of environmental or other type of Cisco bashing... I use Cisco gear for lots of things at my work and I therefore happened to have this great box for syrup shipping. Now all I have to do is affix 43 stamps in a fun random pattern all over the box (maybe I can make more trees!) and I'm sure it will find him. I mean, everybody knows JAT, right? 

Yer Pal,

PS - I am something of a cynic, and when I look at this post critically I fear people could think I have some sort of sordid sappy monetary relationship with Jakeman's (or Cisco). Please rest assured neither of these corporate titans know what I'm up to, and I have not received (nor will I receive) one thin dime from either one of them.