Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mutant Winter III Mutated into Mutant Winter IV!

Congratulate me, the father of a new mutant! Some might think you get used to spawning a new mutant after the first few, but let me tell you, they are so wrong! Every mutation is special in its own way. Some may recall that I put together yet another bike for this winter, Mutant Winter III.

When I wrote that post, this weird thing happened where somebody commented and I responded; it was cool:

Well, John's concerns about "the balance" proved to be more than warranted on this bike. Like I said in my reply, I thought it would be OK, but I was wrong. I don't know if it was related to frame being much lighter (alu instead of steel) or frame geometry or 700c wheels or what, but where the tub used to only lightly affect balance before, on this bike it made the ass end totally whippy and weird. Whippy and weird is not cool when you're riding on ice and snow. The 2nd best tub in town (sniff) had to go.

I got a rear rack for the bike and am using my Ortliebs with it. The rack I bought had no "deck", so I had to come up with a way to avoid the dreaded dirty stripe up the backside. Normal fenders are prone to snow and ice buildup between the tire and the fender, which I hate. The wacked out fender/rack setup I ended up with (zip ties, back duct tape and junkpile fender piece) leaves loads of room for gunk to fly or fall away:

And it shall be called the "rafender"!

I have ridden in lots of slushy snowy goop in the last little while, and the fender stays nice and clear while blocking spray very well. I was surprised that the panniers did not collect any appreciable amount of spooge either. This bike is really working out well so far.

I hope to get a little snow riding video processed soon. It'll be boring, but pretty. Like me.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pick 3

OK everybody, the time has come to determine who has won the Third Annual Rantwick Autumn Tree Smackdown.

I really liked how it went down last year, so I'm just gonna do it that way again. For those of you who have forgotten or are new to the contest, the entrants voted for each other. Last year I allowed each entrant to vote for 2 trees other than their own. This year, since there are so many great entries, I'm increasing it to 3. I then create a stupid video about the voting, the trees and the winner. Here's last year's video:

Whether your tree kicks ass, lands in the esteemed "Hall of Zeroes" or falls somewhere in between, believe me when I say that I (and many others, I bet) really enjoyed getting a look at it. Thanks!

If you are one of the justifiably proud participants in this contest, please review all of the entries by visiting the web album they're in by clicking here. Then, Pick 3 faves and send me an email saying what they are.

When I've heard from those who actually read this blog anymore (considering my absences recently), I'll bug the other entrants directly for votes via email. At that point I'll also set a deadline for votes so things don't drag on forever.

Good luck everybody, and oh yeah, belated Merry Christmas! I'm hoping to post again before the new year about something other than trees.

Woo Hoo! It's voting time!

PS - Hey, are you wishing you could vote, but didn't enter a tree? Well, I've come up with something for you too:

Take a crappy picture with your stupid phone next year and enter my contest. You can vote then, even if your tree sucks! Sorry if you were hoping for more, that's all I got.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Xmas Time Suckage = TARATS Tardiness

Christmas is sucking up TIME! I mean, it is 11:55 PM Sunday night as I write this, and it is the first opportunity I've had to post something all weekend! I used to dislike Christmas quite a lot. I worked in shopping mall retail for a good stretch many years ago now and I swear it sucked whatever goodwill I had left from my already jaded and cynical heart. Then I had kids and Christmas was reborn as a time of joy and sharing and excitement. Whew. Way to go kids! Still, the running around is beginning to get to me.

Anyway, I must once again apologize for not being around to post the last of the TARATS entries until now. I received these days before Saturday night's entry deadline.
First up is Steve A, longtime sufferer of this web space's random whining and opining and stupefying. He already entered one tree from Seattle, but now his Texas (home state) entries are ready too. Email, with tree pics inserted at appropriate moments:

Well, it's time to throw the glove down.

Author's Note: Holy Crap!


Picture 1 was my intended Texas entry. This tree is the largest Texas Red Oak in the United States. Unfortunately, it didn't turn color evenly. Picture 2 shows the girth of this tree's trunk. This tree would TRULY be a contender, had it turned color evenly. But it didn't.

Texastree3 was another candidate. It was in a park in Forth Worth, as was Texastree5. Of the two, I think #5 is most worthy of entry,though it is the smaller of the two.

However, in the final analysis, I think "Texastree6" is the best of the lot. Conveniently, it is also a block from my house, in Colleyville Texas. I'll go with it, over the big Texas "bad boy" and the two "park spectaculars."


I hope to find out if either #5 or #6 beat the Seattle tree. Encourage your readers!

-Steve A
Seattle Tree

I will be happy to encourage my readers, Steve!

Dear Reader,

You should know that although it doesn't always feel like it, you are doing great. Remember that Christmas really can be a time to feel blissed out. You just have to dump all that feels like bullshit from your mind and fill it instead with any and all good stuff available to you right now. I bet you'll find it is a fair bit of stuff when you start thinking about it.

Steve, I know that wasn't what you were looking for, but I feel OK about being a smartass, because I've done this:

I present for your votifying amusement The First Ever Steve Needs To Know Seattle vs. Fort Worth vs. Colleyville Tree Smackdown! (FESNTKSVFWVCTS!)

Which of the above trees Rocks Autumn the Hardest?

I have entered tree5 (B) and tree6 (C) in the contest. Please note that a vote above has zero impact on the real TARATS contest, for which I have not yet determined my voting methodology. I'm leaning towards last year's method, where the entrants vote for each other. Seems kind of nice to me. Christmas-y almost. Sharing of goodwill and all that.
I've got one more entry, from JAT, last year's winner! Email:
Great entries this year. As far afield as I've been looking for trees - I have a new job with a new commute, and by the time I got around to passing last years winner it was completely bare - then one day in the car on my way for a major grocery buying trip I stumbled across this one two blocks form my house in West Seattle.

JAT in Seattle
Thanks JAT, you have ended this year's round of entries with a Bang. I never would have imagined that so many people would send so many trees... it is awesome, thank you all. I'll be back soon with more info on voting and stuff. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Trevor Traveller's Triple Tops Total TARATS Tree Tally!

Trevor, the world-famous PurpleTraveller, has submitted three trees from across the sea!

Hi....Greetings from the South Coast of the UK....

Running a bit close to the wire with my entry this year.....When I found that the security had been increased at the country estate where last years entry was photographed I knew that I would need a replacement tree for this year...

I decided to set myself the task of finding a tree in my local Bournemouth area....checking out the local streets and parks on foot....not even using my bike....I mean at the speed of light that I ride I would be travelling too fast to see any trees....

Anyway....three trees here and captured whilst on foot....


Trevor (purpletraveller)

Tree 1 / Photo taken two streets from home....

Tree 2 /  Photo taken in Lower Gardens Bournemouth and my Main Entry:-

Tree 3 / Taken in Centre Gardens Bournemouth....submitted because I like the range of colours of the leaves....going from Black through Reds and Browns and of course Greens...

Thanks, Trevor! I dig those trees, man.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Need Some Time, Dammit!

Still no time to be a proper blogulator, so I have to be brief, but I have more TARATS entries that I don't want to let get too stale.
First RCT is back for more...
Hello again Rantwick,

Well it seems in my opinion that I captured my best foliage freak out on my first search this year. I can no longer rest on my laurels *pun!* and I think it's time to unveil this years winner. This first pic which I believe I sent you earlier as a preview is nice because it shows my bike. We love bikes!
Following will be a close up "under the canopy" shot for your inspection and lastly my official submission which I dub "Great Ball of Fire"
Yours Most Truly,


RCT #5 - "Great Ball of Fire"
RCT sure is bringing his A game!
The deadline for tree entries approaches, 11:59 PM Eastern time, Dec 15. I've got another one to post from the Purple Traveller in the UK, but that will have to wait until next time. Did you read that? The UK! Other side of the Ocean! Yeee Haaaw!
Be Good,

Monday, December 3, 2012

El Paso

Jen from El Paso makes it 19 people (and 29 trees!) in my contest. Normally I would ramble on about how great this is because it means the contest is still growing in its third year, but I have no time, dammit!
Here's Jen's email and tree:
Howdy howdy! Here's a tree doing its autumn thing on one of the community college campuses in El Paso Texas. It's mostly cactus and other pointy plants here in the desert, so a red tree like this is quite eye-catching when you come across one.



Thank you very much, Jen! Eye-catching indeed!
With any luck I will have an opportunity to write about something else and even interesting soon. Until then I remain yer pal,