Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arc Flashlight: The Best Tool I Own


Goes with me everywhere. Always works. Made in Arizona.

On my recent "what tools I carry" post, I left this out in order to save the best for last. This is an Arc AAA Premium flashlight. It runs on one AAA battery, has lived on my key chain for about seven years, and always works. The design criteria stated on the ARC web site sum it up nicely (here summarized even further): small, sufficient run time, uses a common battery, at least as durable as the person carrying it.

For bicycle usages, I have found it most useful for looking for things in the dark, and for performing repairs in dark locations. It could, in a pinch, with no alternatives, be used as an adequate "be seen" light, but that's not its strong point. I also carry a backup light better suited to seeing than this, when I ride. The strong point of the Arc AAA are that it achieves exactly the stated design goals above.

Some background. Way back when I taught in China, frequent power outages left me stumbling through dark and unfamiliar buildings on a regular basis. A flashlight is a logical solution, but on analysis, what I really needed is one which met the design criteria stated above. One which I would have with me when I needed it. This really hit home one time I was trying to negotiate my way down a pitch black stairway, and found my foot hanging over empty space instead of the next step. It turned out that the construction crew had ceased stair construction in mid-flight. It was fortunate that I was being extremely cautious. It was a looooong way to reliable medical care from there.

So to describe its brightness as accurately as I can, it is the ideal brightness for negotiating a pitch black staircase in a building under construction in China. 

Since then, I have also had countless needs to look around inside dark computer cases, dark drawers, closets, and so on. The Arc AAA-P is perfect for all of these applications. It does not solve all lighting needs, nor was it intended to do so. Rather, it was designed to solve a specific, important set of problems, which it does well. Small, durable, common battery, good run time (including a current regulator), sufficient brightness for its tasks.
 

Always works, has never let me down. Knurled and anodized, rounded to fit in pocket, key chain attachment.

Since this flashlight is built in Phoenix, it also has local appeal for me, in addition to being made in the USA like the multi-tools in the previous post. When I bought this, I actually drove over to the shop to pick it up. If I ever had a problem with it, or needed spare parts, I am confident, based on the lifetime guarantee as well as the seller's reputation, that I could go back there again and receive fair treatment. The maker is also the seller. This paragraph alone is a strong motivation for me to purchase this product. 

If you go to the web site I linked above, you may think that these are expensive. I understand that response, particularly since there are now many other flashlight choices available to address a wide variety of needs. But from a cost perspective, I figure this has cost me about 2 cents a day to carry, and has worked every single time I needed it. I also reckon the cost of failure into my buying decisions, and weight it heavily. In my flashlight usage history, I have had many, many cheap lights totally fail to function for reasons other than dead batteries, some in annoying or even potentially dangerous situations. A tool that fails when you need it is a complete waste of money. A tool that works when you need it offers a value that ought to be considered in the purchase decision. I use this light a lot more often than I would expect, and it has never let me down. Here's a very thorough review: Flashlight Reviews Arc AAA


I bought this myself. See my notice if you have any questions.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Often I carry these


Handy multi-tools with many bicycle applications

Often I carry one or both of these while riding. That's in addition to a bicycle-specific multi-tool with a chain breaker, a 15mm wrench for axle nuts, along with a mult-torx folding tool just in case.

From fixing eyeglasses to opening cans to getting hold of something that needs a little extra torque, to cutting things, these have both performed essential and helpful jobs on many rides. On more than one occasion, I've used the pliers to extract cactus spines from a human, and also a dog.

Too much? Unnecessary weight? Be prepared, I say. Ready for whatever comes. But as I look at the minimalist loads carried by other cyclists, I start to wonder if I am all alone out there, in terms of carrying stuff like this. Anyone else carry something along like this, just in case? Or should I start counting grams, perhaps cut down to a minimal bike tool and titanium axle wrench? 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Brighter Sense of Here


Order, disorder, structure, chaos. Function or dis. The thin line there between. Chaos IMBL.

Slow and stop. Pause and stare. Consider this: a fixture which worked for a long time, performed its function well and reliably, sturdily made, overengineered by some standards, a design evolved since Roman times, yet recognizable by one of Caesar's subjects as to its intended usage. All our works endeth thus. Broken, shattered, upturned, broken chunks scattered in the sunlight across the road, grinding down to dust beneath the wheels of the madding crowd.


No rant. Just more data about here, the place, and its people.

I stop and slow on my bicycle. Look and listen: to the passing cars, the birds, the crunch of toilet chunks beneath my tires, to gain a brighter sense of here. Mostly we are dim about here. Mostly, we cruise through this here, onto the next here, and the next. But what about this one. What's unique about it? Who passes by? What's interesting? Where am I? I'm in the bike lane, in the place of the shattered toilet. Marked. Here. Onto the next, but mindful.
 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bugs in My Bike Lane


Palo Verde beetle, Derobrachus geminatus, in my bike lane. Not a close-up photo.

We have some interesting creatures here in the desert, and here is one of my personal favorites, the Palo Verde beetle. They aren't that common, mainly I think because they are somewhat hard on trees as their grubs gnaw away slowly at the roots, so urban tree cultivators and aborists tend to hold a grudge against these beauties. These are comically huge bugs, there's no way around it. I once caught one and tried to hold him in a small margarine container, and he wouldn't quite fit. If you got hit in the face with one in flight (and they do fly, a bit) while you were moving at any speed, it would be ugly at best.

The first time I saw one, I thought it was some sort of toy, you know, until it started crawling. The wiki article linked in the caption says they can grow up to six to eight inches long, which would only be if you include the antenna, which by the way in their longest form is what makes them look so strange, to me. The pair in the photo are small in comparison to some of the chunky, elongated head gear I've seen. Body usually closer to three inches, I would say. Definitely shorter than a typical handlebar grip, a little.

This particular one was having a fight for his short aboveground life with a curve billed thrasher in my bike lane. The bird, which is not small, looked outmatched by the beetle, as its beak didn't quite seem up to the task of dealing with it. I think the palo verde beetle might have poked the thrasher in the eye with an antenna. In any case, the thrasher gave up and dropped the beetle, which sort of ruffled its wings and headed off toward the nearest tree.

To be honest, I did yell at the bird to drop the beetle. I can't take credit for saving the little monster, but I may have startled the bird slightly. Not that I begrudge a curve billed thrasher a delicious brunch, but I happen to take the side of the beetle in this case. I would find it much harder to chose if it was between, say, a Colorado River toad and one of these, since I also am a defender of toads. I don't remember seeing a toad in my bike lane, though, so possibly I will never face that difficult choice.

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Get After It


40°C and heading up!

My photographic chemicals thermometer, being of no further use to me as far as taking the temperature of liquids for developing and fixing film or prints in this digital world, serves a new purpose as an accurate and visual representation of riding conditions. The mercury, or whatever the blue-tinged liquid in there is, should top the 110°F mark later this week. Excellent commuting weather with proper prep and planning.

But this post is only tangentially related to the summer heat of Phoenix. Instead, it's about a simple phrase that I find very useful lately: get after it. It's a phrase of action, not words or thought. It motivates to go out and do it, rather than over-planning, or considering, or worrying about it. A certain amount of planning is prudent, depending on what "it" is, so get after it, too! Plan the plan, do the prep, then get after it. Be careful out there. But get out there.

I hear a lot of not-getting-after-it masquerading as planning which is really not planning, but, frankly, nonconstructive self-dialogue. People talking themselves out of it. People thinking about it but not getting after it. People worrying about it so much that they never get around to it. People finding excuses to not get after it. Reasons. Doubts. Concerns. Friction. Fiction. Resistance. Oh just stop. Drink plenty of water. Stay cool. Seek shade. Be careful. Get after it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hurry Up Sundown, We Depend on Ourselves


Pond, summer, desert, blazing sunshine

As I hopped on the fixed-gear flatland commuter bike and began to wander eastward, I was struck with an impulse to ride a modified Tri-City Tour (Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix), concentrating on the multi-use paths and avoiding the streets. I think it was the heat of the day and the blazing sunshine working on my brain, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Flatland commuter fixed-gear pausing next to the art on the freeway wall down by Tempe Town Lake

You can judge by the shadows directly beneath the bike that I was out at a challenging time of day in Phoenix in the summer. But I felt like riding, and needed the open air, sunshine, and exercise, so I just kept riding, and hydrating, and riding more.


The water coming out of the drinking fountain was sadly hot.

Since it was around mid-day, about halfway out, I started feeling hungry, really hungry, like looking around for a hotdog stand hungry. One did not present itself, however, so I broke open the emergency supply of sport beans (mixed flavors) and calmed my growling stomach with those. 


Egret in the shallows below the bridge and dam at Tempe Town Lake

Usually I enjoy the heat, and sunshine, that we have in so much abundance here, but this year I haven't quite got my summer groove on yet. I've been applying more sunscreen this year, so maybe it's a twisted vitamin D thing or something, a biochemical reaction that in previous years has acclimated me to the heat and sun faster through more UV hitting my skin sooner. It still felt pretty good riding out there, don't get me wrong, but a good indicator is that I have been giving serious consideration to longer night rides to beat the heat, a consideration that doesn't usually kick in until later in the summer.

Miles from home, sitting in the shade next to my bicycle, munching the sport beans and staring out at the water, I was thinking, hurry up, sundown, we depend on ourselves. For what? To power our own way back home. To think clearly and react quickly, with equanimity. To treat one another kindly, with respect. To make the future we want.

 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Leather U-lock Rack Mount


New use for old belts!

Thanks to inspiration from the Velo Orange blog*.  I implemented this quick and easy mount for holding my mini u-lock on my rack. A little cutting on the leather, plus a short length of Velcro One Wrap to limit rattles, and it's done.

This initial version uses cable ties. Oh cable tie, is there nothing you can't do? In looking at it, though, v.2 may involve usage of the leather punch. Pipe clamps also came to mind. Are black pipe clamps available?

Why go this way? Because the supplied mount rattles, and I can't have that. Also, the position I had it mounted never seemed quite right anyway.

Still: I think there should be a way to mount the lock a bit lower so that it would not impede a trunk bag so much. I did eyeball a few different positions, but this initial configuration seemed most secure. I noted that a third cable tie in the middle would appear to support lock/unlock mounting, insert the unlocked shackle through the two openings and then lock it, which might be a workable solution for a larger u-lock, too.

Trials and refinements in process. So far I prefer it in simplicity and frugality to a more involved leather pouch solution. We'll see what the road miles have to say about that, however.


*I struggle with striking the correct balance between sounding pretentious and mispronunciation when pronouncing that name. French?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bracketing and Calibrating to Human Ranges


I calibrate my emotional expectation to a bracketed range around civility and kindness

Hot Friday commute ride home, waves of infrared shimmering off the asphalt, spinning a smooth medium pace down the bike lane. Very low traffic. A gray luxury car approaches from behind, slows, and paces me. A little longer than chance, and with no turn nearby. I keep pedaling, but pivot my head to look to the left as he's matching my speed exactly. He looks at me, makes a funny face and a sort of Speed Racer, slight rocking motion with the steering wheel, as in, OH IT IS ON! IT IS SO ON. I smiled broadly and nodded affirmation. We're all just humans here on this street, on this Friday, with places to go and lives to live.

Our view of the other is not always so. Often, our IFF (identification friend or foe) is stuck on "foe". Like a stereotypical stone-faced subway rider, or permanently pissed off taxi driver, the stuck-on-foe calibrator sees enemies everywhere and danger all around. Have a look at what hypervigilance can lead to.

In contrast, I try to have a flexible, human-centered expectation of people, centered around optimal, civil, kind. I know there are foes out there. I'm vigilant, aware, alert, or try to be. But, I lead with the expectations bracketed around my flexible, optimal model of a human being, calibrated to the situation, and adjusted appropriately as more information comes in.

Sure, I smiled at the gray luxury car driver because his momentary goofiness struck me as funny in that situation. But beyond that, I also felt a momentary connection with him: he also calibrates for the human range, was willing and open to seeing a bicycle commuter spinning down a hot street on the way home as another human being, and made a small gesture that actually seems immensely complex and heavy with ideas the more I unpack it, but which I take to say primarily this: have a good ride, don't take it all to seriously. Well calibrated sir, well calibrated.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Found in Street: Clevis Hook


That's a beefy hook. The clevis is the u-shaped end, which accepts a chain, held by a clevis pin

I don't have an immediate use for a 3/8 clevis hook, nor can I think of one related to a bicycle. But, when I saw this one laying in the bike lane, I thought of at least two: subject for photograph, topic for blog post. I wonder how much it can hold. Grade 70: transport.


Working Load Limit? We Love Life? Weigh Less Lbs? We Like Luminum?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweep the Sky


Sky brooms

It's summer, so there are fires in Arizona. According to the air quality boffins, the current haze and smokey smell in Phoenix is due to the POCO fire in Gila County. Desert fires burning up mesquite, dry brush, and creosote tend to create acrid smoke that can still be smelled by a bicycle commuter even hundreds of miles away. Just another way that one person's actions, dropping a lit cigarette, failing to put out a campfire, or any of the other dozens of ways these fires get started, can affect other people both near and far. I'm not sure that these neatly coiffed palm trees can actually sweep the sky. But they sort of look like they could.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adventure Rocks (and Waterfalls)


There was some adventure

Three days of hiking and swimming in Havasu Canyon, no cars down there, just rocky trails and stunning waterfalls to swim under. I feel fortunate to live in Arizona, where this experience is just a few hours of driving and hiking away. More photos.



Entering Supai Village

Gila Monster / rock



Navajo Falls

Thursday, June 14, 2012

There Should Be Adventure


This path swoops around the corner to the right, around the pillars, and along the canal

Wake up, eat, work, sleep. Wake up, eat, work, sleep. Repeat. When it starts to feel like that is the featured agenda for the week, or the month, it may be time for some sort of adventure to shake things up a bit. Pack up. Head out. Seek the unexpected. 

Sometimes, adventure starts on a path like this: hey, wonder where that goes...other times, it starts off a bit more structured, a bit more orderly, but then putting yourself in a strange place, outside the same old routine, maybe to try to accomplish something new or challenging, it happens. I'm working on a little something outside the normal wake up, eat, work, sleep, repeat schedule. Not sure it will come together, not sure if bicycles will be involved at all, but there should be adventure. And photos. Lots of photos. I'll let you know if any adventure turns up in the process. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Colors for Going Places in Summertime


Three bikes on a bus, including a Linus Dutchi

The colors in this composition grabbed my attention. Also, the patterns on the pavement under the bus, although you can't see them too well. I'll have to ride over there and take some close-up shots to illustrate. The pavement in this area in Scottsdale is all curvy and patterned, colored and swoopy. And that cheery green bus just makes me want to ride it, even though I have my bike. Just try it out, you know, to go places, do things, see people. Or go bike shopping. Mmmm, city bike.
 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

By the Frights of Their Eyes


The delicate art of the turn / merge / cross is not without countervailing complications


Often when turning onto, merging in, or crossing busier streets on my bicycle, I find myself steering toward the spot where the car won't be when I get there. Often, the car is in the spot when I start the turn / merge / cross, but due to its forward motion, I'm confident it will no longer be in that spot by the time my bike gets to it. I find this approach necessary for crossing, merging, and turning on to busy streets, because otherwise it seems like I may have a very long wait for a simple, clear opening in traffic.

By the nature of the maneuver, though, a driver of the vehicle in question who happens to look at me when I'm starting this maneuver with confidence may think for an instance that I am actually trying to steer into them, rather than behind them. I don't think I could if I tried, but in any case, I have seen more than one example where my steering toward the to-be empty spot has caused momentary fright, alarm, consternation, concern in the eyes of a driver. It all happens pretty fast, so it's not like I have time to reassure them, or always make some motion to indicate what I'm doing, although sometimes it is possible to point behind them to show them where I'm going. 

However, I've also found that drivers who are paying enough attention that they will be able to see and understand my hand signal are seldom the ones who are alarmed by my steering toward the spot where they're not going to be when I get there. The ones who seem most alarmed are the drivers who are distracted by something else. Yesterday, a woman who was texting while waiting for the stoplight, and I don't mean a brief "LOL" I mean intense, focused, lengthy thumb dancing, looked up and saw me waiting for the light in the lane next to her, and looked like she was going to jump out of seat.

So I guess I'm saying, it's never my goal to scare the crap out of drivers with my riding, but if a driver is so distracted that they are startled by a cyclist at a stop light while both are sitting completely still, I don't feel that much concern about having a similar effect while in motion in traffic, except that it causes me to increase my Plan B bail out priority in case the distracted driver doesn't happen to see me at all and changes lanes toward me, thereby putting their vehicle where I intended to travel to get to where they were not going to be.
   

Monday, June 11, 2012

Leather and Steel


My favorite, well-used foot attachment mechanisms, resting on my favorite black leather jacket

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Tale of Two Vehicles


Vehicle the First

The owner shines up his vehicle, tunes it himself, ensures it's in top working order, adjusts it to suit his transportation needs and self-image, then parks it in a prominent location, for all to see. 


Sleek, simple lines, shiny finish, heart of steel, power transmission incarnated

Is there a certain degree of pride of ownership of such a pure, straightforward expression of the transmission of power from source to ground? Yes. Does the owner use it for trips around town, too, not just as a show piece, an ego prop, a garage ornament? Yes, both of vehicles shown in this post were seen parked in mall parking lots, at a busy time of day. 


One has no brakes, fixed gear with no pedal clips or straps AFAICT

Both are bastard children of the streets--out of place, intended for other uses than trips to the mall, somewhat impractical for the task, at least in their original essential forms, yet adapted to the task by their owner with care and thought.


Another way to take the kids to a movie at the mall

The second is surely about physics and greed. Please share if you think otherwise. Consider the application of the categorical imperative in this case: what if all vehicles on the road were this truck? In their thousands, a rush hour stampede down the freeway of growling wheels, roaring exhausts, and enhanced body lean and rocking through every dip and turn. Would the parking lots all need to be redone, or would we just settle for all the wasted half-spaces that would result, since these don't fit in one normal space?

Is there a particular reason either vehicle was chosen for its purpose by its owner? Is there a particular message being sent, a particular impression that is intended to be made? Do you feel different reactions yourself, when you see them out on the road, or parked at the mall? I know I do. One makes me smile, stop and look closer, while my kids chide me for taking pictures of it. The other, I just shake my head, and walk away.
  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Rules of the Road: Physics and Greed


Gimme fuel gimme mass gimme speed gimme space
Everything that happens on the road in traffic is all down to physics, or greed, true?

Physics: speed, mass, momentum, the largest, fastest-moving object is King of the Hill, yes? Newton's laws. One rock hurtling through the vastness of space, smashing into another rock randomly. The inexorable action of gravity, bending the fabric of space-time coalescing all that is, was, or ever will be. A planet gliding before the face of the sun every century or so. The Second Law of Thermodynamics. Heat death. A multi-billion year slide into ultimate silence and darkness. Horsepower, without the horse.

Greed: aggression, anger, base human motivations, the mindless hunger for more at any cost, deception, dishonor, deceit. All thoughts directed only three seconds or less ahead in the future, distracted by shiny, jangly baubles. Cut off the other guy, arrive first, tailgate, wail on horn, swerve violently, rev engine, flip off, get through the light, got places to go and things to do. Ascribe to other drivers only this: that they are operating according to base and common motivations related to greed.

Consider the bicycle commuter, riding in traffic, in Phoenix, at rush hour, in summer. Observed behavior: smiling, waving, following the rules, being courteous. Whistling. Tell me that there's more to it than physics and greed. Just tell me.


Photons. Property values. Oṃ śānti śānti śānti.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bicycle Gloves: The least necessary accessory?


You like-a the gel? I like-a the gel.

In his recent excellent book, Just Ride, Grant Petersen has a chapter called "Gloves: the least necessary accessory." Now, he truly knows more in his little toe about bicycles and riding than I do in my whole body, but sometimes I like riding with gloves. Sometimes they do not seem like a needless affectation to me, a spurious accessory foisted on an unsuspecting bicycling public by corporate-funded bike racers. So I reflected on the facts of my usage of them, and, as always, will try to let them speak for themselves.

What are gloves (allegedly) good for?
cold weather, accident protection, comfort, sweat drip removal

Do they actually accomplish these?

Cold weather: check, but I don't experience that very often
Accident protection? A couple times when I crashed, they performed very well in protecting my hands and palms, particularly in a mountain bike crash on gravel, when many other parts of me fared much worse.

Do I use ever them:
for commuting? No, never
for grocery-getting? No, never
coffeeneuring? No, never
city road rides? Usually, for the longer ones, anyway, I think the ride is more comfortable
mountain biking? Always

Do I wash them? Once in a while, yes. Usually when the salt and grime becomes visible.


Are there other less necessary bicycle accessories? Surely!
What about: spoke cards? handlebar tassels? pie plates? lawyer lips?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Feel of the Bars


Hook me up to some simple, classic, approximately parallel drop bars

Next to saddles, handlebars must be next item on bicycles which are most susceptible to individual preference, whim, and the obsessive search for comfort and utility. I've tried different shapes and configurations, from straight mountain bars, though trekking bars, to drop bars--in fact I have bikes mounted with all of those currently, with three different sets of drop bars: a newer set of ergo drop bars, which I like, an older, smaller, narrower set of drop bars from the early 70s on the fixie which are perfect for it, and these, my Nitto B-115 bars mounted on a single speed.



The B-115 bars just feel right to me. In different hand positions, my hands just sit right, and don't seem to get fatigued or numb at all. Fingers wrapped around the bar, the ride feels solid but not harsh. The bars don't seem to bend or flex much. And the drops are just in the right place, not to far away, not too close, with just the right amount of flare.




I know the bars are just the interface to the rest of the bike, and to the road, so we're talking about a combined effect here, which includes variables like trail, head tube angle, frame material, and so on. I have to think the fork plays a big part in the way the bars feel. The bar tape plays a role. Tire size and pressure probably has a huge effect on how your hands feel, since they have such a big effect on handling road bumps.But the bars get the credit. Is that right, is it fair? Tires want fair consideration! Well, I did have different, no-name, track bars on this same bike, with the same tires, same stem set up the same way, and I more or less hated them. Too much drop, too much slippery slope up top, even too short in the drops, all around not good. So, tires, stem, fork, frame, et. al., you get some credit, but in terms of sweet buttery hand rests, bars get all the credit. The Nitto B-115 bars just work for me.
 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oh, Oh, O.H.S.O.!


O.H.S.O., Right off the Arizona Canal path, 4900 E. Indian School: Bike Friendly! Friendly dog patio!!


Copious bike parking, right off the path! Is it dog friendly, or friendly dog?

I think I shall have a cold one, and some ride fuel appetizer, on the patio, to think it over.

Between this, and the prominent bicycle rack at NoRTH reSTaRanT, and the one at Kitchen 56 (which was giving discounts for a while just for showing up on a bike), I'm beginning to think there's a bicycle-friendly theme picking up steam in this city. Or a least, picking up take-out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Garden On Deck: The Giving Garden at Scottsdale Civic Center


Artichokes with fountain

The first time I noticed the Giving Garden at the Scottsdale Civic Center, it was with my nose. Cruising past on a hot day, its deep and delicious fragrance reached out and grabbed me, such that I slammed on my brakes and spun around to take a closer look at what could possibly smell so good.


Of fresh organic food, grown in a public garden, I Singh!

Scottsdale's deck park is a beautiful place with art, fountains, and a garden. PHX went a different direction....

The Giving Garden smells like something I want to jump into with a knife, fork, spritzer of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a salt/pepper shaker, and a big appetite. It smells like, I don't even really know, a herbaceous, fennel, green leafy alive salad bowl from heaven or something. From clicking around the webz, it seems to be planted and maintained by Singh Farms, with the produce produced going to either the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, or donated, depending on time of year. 

And look at that soil. I think I could grow in that stuff.
 
The Robert Indiana LOVE statue overlooks the garden, which is more or less perfect

A people-sized park, with art, and an excellent library, and good restaurants nearby. With this Giving Garden right in the middle. That smells like a celestial salad. Sweet. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Good Fortune, Secured With Good Tape


The square, two-holed rubber spacer in question

I wrote about how much I like my Cygolite Expilion light for commuting. One of the reasons is that it is easy to take off the handlebar, and easy to put back on, yet very secure when attached. Some time a few weeks ago, though, I lost the small rubber two-holed square that sits inside the mount at the top, and without it, it's just not as secure. Sure, I can twist down the clamp farther and it holds, but the other spacers are much harder plastic, and they just don't perform as well as they do with the piece of rubber in place.

So what? Well, I didn't really realize that I had lost the little piece of rubber. I noticed the light wasn't clamping very well, but didn't miss the runaway spacer consciously. I had lost something, but didn't know it. A few days later, at the bike rack, though, I looked down at the ground, and saw a small square piece of rubber with two holes in it on the ground. Not something that would normally grab my attention, but the sight of it triggered something in my brain, some subconscious message, some instantaneous correlation: pick it up. Pick up the square, said my brain. You need that. So I picked it up, stuck it into my pickup pocket, and moved on. As I stuck it away, I even had a notion it belonged with the light, but didn't think about it much.


The double-sided, heavy duty tape in question

Next time I took the light out, though, I remembered. As I charged up the light, I checked my pickup pocket, and retrieved the piece of rubber. Yep, it fit inside the light mount, right over the two holes, and I could see how the adhesive that had held it was insufficient to the task. I considered different gluey substances to repair it, and settled on my old standby: heavy duty double-sided tape.

I cut two pieces to go on either side of the holes, stuck them on, then clamped the light onto the handlebar to squish it altogether, to let the adhesive cure, in what has to be one of the best clamp-up clamps in the history of double-sided tape clamping. If I was heavy duty double-sided tape being clamped up thusly, I would be all like, ooooooh, yeaaaaaa, that's what I'm talking about, clamp it dowwwwwwwwwwn.

We'll see how it works. My sense is that the little square piece of rubber is going to outlive the light mount itself now. Time, and fortuna, will tell. Ohhhh, yeaaaa, clamp me like that.
  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Go Wherever You Grow


Where to go next? Gutter daisy has some advice.

Where to go next, and how to go? In a land of choice and opportunity, where the sky's the limit, what's the right choice? When you are at point A, how do you choose the best point B, to make the next move? And how should you get there?

These were the questions on my mind when I came across this rather remarkable little cluster of daisies growing in a rather remarkable little niche, a crack in the pavement next to a drain. On a side note, there aren't many street drains in the Phoenix area, some streets that are flood-prone, or part of a flash flood drainage scheme have them, but they are less common than in places where it rains more often.



Growth in an provisional place, reminded me of those bristlecone pines that live 5000 years on mountaintops

Between the yards and the street, in a crack next to a storm drain, would not seem like a popular location, kind of in the same zone where cyclists often ride by the way, but this plant seems to have done just fine here. Drinking up sunshine, feeding bees, spreading and gathering pollen, converting sunshine water and CO2 into plant food.

Where to do next? This plant gave me one answer: go wherever you grow. Just know that, when you first look at the place, it may not appear to be a growth location, its potential may not be easily recognized, but that may just make it such a good choice. Passed over by many others, overlooked by those seeking the obvious, the next place for growth may just be that thin, risky zone of hidden potential. 

How do you find it, and how do you know? You have to be looking, you have to be seeking, you have to be open to seeing it.

And how to get there? Since what I just described is an open, seeking journey that might take some time, it should be a method of travel which makes you happy, one which is not aggravating, expensive, isolating, and causes you to whoosh past opportunities without offering the opportunity to pause and consider them. Hmmm, some possible transport suggestions come to mind...

My eyes and mind are open for new places, new opportunities for learning and growth, perhaps ones which have been overlooked, or are too provisional, for those just looking for obvious, broad green fields to ploop down on to slurp up food, to take it easy. Thank you, gutter daisy, for a bit of perspective on that.