Sneaking in a bicycle

Post Memorial Day crash my wife has posited this equation: a new bike = divorce court. She’s serious, no more cycling for me. Even as my best biking buddies try to work her over, she’s holding firm.

So what do I do? I drop $189 on a top of the line helmet (having lost my last one to the crash). Can’t cycle without a helmet, so, I have snuck in the first piece of new equipment, a Discovery Channel themed Giro Atmos, the top, top-of-the-line skid lid. Here’s to hoping I never have to use it again.

On Sunday morning my buddy is swinging through town on the second leg of the annual Pan-Mass Challenge ride across the state to Provincetown. Last year I accompanied him on the second leg, and may ride with him from Cotuit to the route on my faithful fixed gear, the SnotRocket. This will happen at 6 in the morning, when my wife will hopefully still be asleep.

Speech writing

I have to give a speech on Saturday night before 200 people. It’s a happy occasion, a friendly audience, half of whom I know very well. The occasion is auspicious and I’m one of several speakers.

My mission: to speak for three to five minutes, find some material guaranteed not to be worked over by the other speakers, make em laugh, make em think. Powerpoint is not an option. I’d like to show some photos in a slideshow, but that probably won’t happen.
I used to wing my speeches off of a couple index cards, being more comfortable when I’m extemporaneous, but this one is so short that it feels like a haiku more than a full-blown presentation. Do I memorize it? Do I bullet the key points and memorize the best one-liners?

Someone, I believe it was Lincoln, said the hardest speech he had to write was the shortest — perhaps in reference to the Gettysburg Address. The myth is that he wrote that two to three minute masterpiece of oration on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg when in fact there are five known drafts which he shared with his closest advisors.

I’ll post the draft after I finish it. Right now it is 1,300 words. Lincoln delivered fewer than 300 at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery.

Ugly hot

Now it’s the east coast’s turn. 95 here on the Cape. Blackouts happening in the next town (where my blog is hosted). Airconditioning cutting out in the old house every fifteen minutes and the dogs have tongues a foot long.

Too hot to move. I think I shorted out my Treo by sweating into it. The harbor is full of nasty jellyfish, so swimming is out of the question. Maybe a movie — pack the family into an airconditioned dark room for a couple hours.

Hardware Hacking — knocking some sense into a ThinkPad

It never ceases to amaze me how creative people can get with a mundane piece of technology. In recent weeks a number of hacks built atop the ThinkPad “accelerometer”, the technology that Lenovo builds into its notebooks to protect the harddisk from a catastrophic crash in the event of a fall — known as Active Protection — are nothing short of amazing. A utility that was designed to sense a dramatic motion and park the harddrive arm so it won’t bang into the platters can now be modified to fly through maps, change songs, and draw pictures.
some curious coders have built apps that will allow you to skip to the next MP3 track by rapping on the screen, “fly” through Google Maps and Google Earth by tilting the machine, and switch from one screen to another by knocking on the box.

I want to figure out the Google Earth hack. I know Lenovo has a game where one can “steer” a penguin down a ski slope. The first time I tried it I felt like an utter idiot trying to drive the bird using the arrow keys or the W-A-S-D combo. Finally I picked the machine up, tilted it, and for five minutes looked the biggest loser in business class somewhere over the Atlantic.

Now, take that utility and morph it into “knock code.” Here are some pointers:

  1. Google Maps controls
  2. Smackpad
  3. Etch-a-Sketch
  4. Light Saber

Judge finds fault with fixies

BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Judge finds fault with fixies

Faithful readers know about my love for fixed-gear cycling — these are super-simple bikes that have no gears and don’t coast. When the wheel turns the pedals turn. sort of like a big Big Wheel. Well, Uncle Fester was kind enough to send in this link to a recent court decision that fixies must have brakes. I do have a front brake, but the real hardcore riders like urban messengers, use their leg muscles to slow down or lock up their rear wheels into a controlled skid. Now the judge is saying a brake is a brake and locking the rear wheel does not a brake make. This will spawn some serious protests among the fixie crowd who are among the most militant in the burgeoning urban bike kulture.

“Yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse the law came down against fixed gear bicycles.On June 1, 2006 Portland bike messenger Ayla Holland was given a ticket for allegedly violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 815.280(2)(a) which states,

A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid tire.”

Singing the lost wallet blues …

Sunday, while shopping like a dervish for a dinner party, I left my wallet in the kiddie seat of my shopping cart, abandoned it in the parking lot, drove off, remembered — duh — turned around, found the cart. Wallet was gone.

Bummer.

Called Amex, availed myself of the services of that stupid card registry I paid for but never used and to my amazement, got off of the phone within five minutes with all cards cancelled, new ones ordered, new drivers license ordered, new social security card ordered …. all of it replaced except for the cash and the billfold. Sweet.

That meant that I couldn’t travel to Raleigh this week, which put me into a classic case of Protestant Work Ethic Guilt and Angst, which in turn drove me to heights of work-at-home productivity. Oh well. Worst things could happen than having to sit out this heat wave on Cape Cod.

This week also marks the first true feeling of being recovered from the Memorial Day bike accident. I don’t ache as badly, the migraines are under control, I am exercising, and don’t feel unsure on my feet any more. Yay. But I have no bike. Wife says a new bike = divorce court. This affair d’Landis has me totally devastated. I predict, as Floyd does, that the B sample will come in positive, he will be stripped of the yellow jersey, and yet … yet … I’ll continue to watch the pharmaceutical spectacle obsessively.

So — at home this week. Vacation next. Into the dog days of August and life is fine.

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