Friday, January 30, 2009

The Bolivian Shepard makes a statement

Nothing to see here. I'm cool with this stylish Elizabethan cone thing you guys have me wearing.

No, as a matter of fact I DON'T KNOW how this thing came apart! Maybe you should have made it sturdier you silly man!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

more about those bike balls

This is from that clever Bike-snob in Brooklyn:

....and I was delighted to read that the XTR hub will actually "cradle the balls":If you've been looking for an excuse to upgrade, here it is. The XTR hub is a huge step up from the XT model, which merely cups the balls, and a significant upgrade from the LX hub, which kind of mushes them. I don't even want to say what a Deore hub does to the balls, but suffice to say unless you want to replace your balls on a regular basis you're better off walking. Actually, you might as well put the balls in a vise. On the other hand, if you want to experience pure bliss, try adding the Shimano's Yumeya aftermarket kit. Suki desu ka? Hai, suki desu! The balls will say domo arigato gozaimasu.

In these crazy times it's nice knowing he is there to brighten my day with his humorous pessimism.

Sorry I'm not writing anything myself but life has not been ueber-good these past two weeks and who wants to read about that shite, ken?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bike Maintenance:rear wheel

Authors note: I got spammed, so you are now going to have to jump through some hoops to post comments. Blame the bored, bloted teenagers with no lives and a fear of the world outside the grasp of their keyboard who waste society's time with spam and other things we could all do without: Britney, boy-bands, pants that sag, facebook/ myspace/ etc...

A friend of mine is replacing his rear wheel and asked about removing the cassette and free wheel from the old wheel to place on the new one. I've given him some advice and it may help you if you are in the same situation.

He has purchased a chainwhip and reported that it is too big. He also had an issue with bike nomenclature: "anyway, I took the long stick thing out and the old ball bearings are falling out. It's ucky in there."

Here is my response:

Don't worry about the chainwhip being too big: that's how they are made so that they fit every application: use black tape to hold back some of the links to make it small enough to work.

If you do go with the big bolt method all you need is a pair of vice grips and a # 7 iclono-wrench (IW): use the IW to hold the bolt and then take the vice grip to the IW and it's pretty easy from there.

It's kind of counter intuitive, but you need to store those bearings that fell out in salt water: they are not metal and without the original grease that they were packed they will actually expand if not kept in salt water (it's a weird bike thing, just do it!).

You should try to scrape out as much of the original grease as possible and save it because new grease will severely shorten the lifespan of the wheel.

I know one guy that used all new grease and because his bearings were allowed to sit out in the air for a couple weeks he had to cram them back in (I don't know how) and this caused the wheel to seize going down a hill and he lost his left leg when he slammed into a guardrail!

Of course you know me pretty well and I could be totally full of poo.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

kitty porn

Come hither:

Ladies he's got it going on:

Our cat gets really upset when we leave him alone for a few days, no matter how much love is doted on him by neighbors or relatives, he freaks out without his mama. Then he starts to pull out his hair in a form of protest.
It's definitely stress related, it might be allergies. At one point he was treated with hormones and HE started to lactate, (sorry no video available).
He has decided that no form of antihistamine is going in his body any more (the only thing that has helped so far). We are up to three different forms and no luck yet. Apparently cherry flavor is to cats as rancid flesh is to humans.
The Mrs. says it's getting better, I'm not so sure. Time will tell.
So what do you do when you have to keep your dog from licking a wound and she is flexible enough to get around the standard plastic head cone:

That's right: make it longer! She is not amused. She hated the original cone so much it became dubbed the cone of shame. She's one lucky puppy.
Hopefully she'll be healed enough by next week that she won't have to wear this contraption any more.

Monday, January 12, 2009

last post of the trip

I was starting to get tired on day three, but I rebounded on days four and five and was "in the zone."

Here is a mounty keeping track of the traffic:

This is after day four:

We made it as far as Weyburn tonight before forward progress was halted by snow.

Today went really well and while the original plan was to get to Minot tonight, this works out a little better to use up the rest of our Canada money.

Depending on what kind of weather we get tomorrow in Dakota and Minnesota will determine when we get home. I'm pretty sure we can get through as much snow as we had today, it just might be a long day (the roads were much worse the next day due to drifting, but once we crossed the border it was smooth sailing).

If we get good roads it will be a 12 hour day (turned into 14 hours).

This is on the last day at the alleged geographical center of North America. It was so cold (the windchill finally got us that day) that it was hard to smile. I think I frost burned my teeth:

The last day took longer because we couldn't go diagonal across ND on 52 or straight south to Bismark and then over, but instead went east on 2 to Grand Forks and then south because of snow.
I got to show the Mrs. around the old stomping grounds although I don't recognize much of it anymore.
Here is after the last day:
We just got home. Today was a long one, but it's nice to be back. We drove through some pretty good snow drifts right before the Canadian border this morning, but the Saturn chugged right through.
At one point we had to share the one clear lane of the two lane road with oncoming traffic.
The parking lot wasn't plowed this morning at the motel, so we got stuck and I pushed us out onto the road after some effort. Lot's of people took the time to watch our struggles, but ironically no one stopped to help until we were already on the road.
I was happy to not have to use the tire chains this trip.
I was not happy being down 3 quarts of oil when we pulled into Devils Lake ND today. Sounds like it was caused by the extreme temps. because it's been holding oil since then.
We ended the journey by chipping out our garage door which had become frozen to the cement in our absence.
The next day:
We are starting to get used to me not having to scramble to get things done before rushing back to Anchorage. We are all unpacked and now it is on with the task of finding me a job.
The road trip went by quickly. I wish more of it had been during the day to take in the great scenery the first three days.
Here is a pix that shows all the stuff I had in my car:

The car is running great and we spent a little over $600 on the whole trip, so I'm glad I didn't sell it in Anchorage.

more from the big drive

So we did 3200+ miles in 5 days (we had to add some travel distance/ time to get around snow in North Dakota).

Check out those Buffalo that hung out near the road:

That is much of what we saw on days two and three because we didn't get much time driving in the day.

Here is the capital building in Edmonton:
Some stuff I wrote after Day 2 was done:

We made it to Fort Nelson. The car started just fine after a night at -33C. No problems today as the temp didn't get below -35C (that I know of).
Right now it is -33C and the overnight low is supposed to be -42C. It feels strange when you get out of the car somewhere and -10F doesn't feel that bad.
We saw a bunch of moose today, a heard of elk and had a wolf run along side our car for about 30 yards!
The mountain roads from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson were challenging (I have never longed for boring prairie driving as much as I did tonight).
It was dark and there was flurries the whole way so I couldn't use the brights very much. The speed limit is around 60MPH but we could only go 40-50 MPH for the most part.
That's it for now. Time for bed and then off to Edmonton tomorrow.
Here is a guy (I think his middle name is HARDCORE) biking at about -20F:

Here is the impressive border sign between provinces:

Here is what I said after the 3rd day driving:
We made it to Edmonton. It was not without challenge today: snow and black ice were the challenges of the plains, but we still got to travel faster which made us "feel" better.
We did go slow on the black ice so as to not join the 5-6 cars in the ditch lying on their sides and up-side-down.
One thing I did not account for: we've lost 2 hours in three days because of time changes. We keep trying to get up early to squeeze every bit of daylight out that we can, but we are working against the sun and will lose another hour tomorrow.
Not sure where we'll wind up tomorrow: original plan was Minot, but may stop short of there depending on how we are doing.
The time thing was really challenging. Basically we stopped for about 10 hours each night and about 30-45 minutes for one meal a day (except day two where we didn't have a place to stop for dinner).
The dinner stop was always at night so we didn't burn up daylight. But we were basically on a constant time challenge from the start and wound up simply driving later each day to make it to the next big town.
We could have spent less time driving each day, but we were trying to make it on a budget and lodging was our biggest expense...or was it gas?

Leaving Alaska

Well it's actually happened: the Mrs. and I have packed up my Saturn and drove from Anchorage back to Minnesota.

The weekend that we left was celebrating Alaska's 50th anniversary as a state. The fireworks were great, but it was hard to feel celebratory.

We got to listen to a couple of mediocre and one horrid bands, but one was really good: Bearfoot. They do blue grass the way it should be done.

It was so cold the shutter froze on this one:

So that was Saturday and we held off Sunday to start driving to avoid some snow (which it turned out was UN-avoidable.

Here are some Caribou along the ALCAN that Sara didn't shoot yet:

Here is a demon moose (you'll see it in her eyes if you click on it to make it big):

This is from the first day: Just got into Whitehorse (15 hours in the car) and staying at a backpackers hostel.

Drive was good, the frost heaves made it slow going at times. Had some snow and fog past Haines Junction but no big deal.

Got a little concerned when the clutch got stiff and sluggish but I guess that's what you get when you drive through -40 for a few hours (and colder it turned out). It's worked itself out.

I'm having to add heat to the gas because the gas tank door isn't keeping the snow out and some is getting past the cap into the tank..On to Fort Nelson tomorrow.

Much later in the trip this was the sign that I thought would impress my friend Allen:

Here are some of the splendid mountains we saw so much of the first three days (when it wasn't dark from 4PM to 10AM):