Sunday, December 30, 2012

Because This Time of Year Pleases Me Not

I title this work, "Because It's Cold and Rainy, and This Time of Year Pleases Me Not"

The above is an image of limom's new printer, printed out on his new printer, photographed and posted on his blog, printed out on my new printer, photographed, and posted on my blog. That's what it is. But what does it signify, what does it represent? Is it just and only that it's cold and rainy and I am feeling non-motivated to go for a ride? Or something in addition, a reference to his photography via his blog via my photography via my blog? Not sure, still not ready to go for a cold wet night ride yet, so print that one, pose it on printer, photograph it, post it on blog:

I title this work, "Self-portrait with non-riding blogger No.7"

Ready to ride yet? No, so, photograph this blog post, add that photo to this blog post:

I title this work, "Photos of Posts Not Yet Posted Related to Photos Related to Not Riding No. 9"

With that, I imagine it's time to go for a quick night ride, before I go and print that one, photograph it, FedEx it to limom, and ask him to make a ceramic pot out of it.


"Unbroken (No. 12), for Emma (inkjet printer photograph with cold wet bicyclist symbol)"

Not rain, or cold, or genes, or demons, or time of year, or indifferent universe, or health, or fate, or traffic, or misfortune broke me, and tonight I rode.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 was a Good Year for Bicycle Commuting

Finishing off the year with twine and shellac. Next bars, I will use hemp twine rather than sisal.

I sold my car at the beginning of this year, and never looked back. In 2012, the total number of times I commuted to work by car was zero. This spanned another Phoenix summer, some serious haboob dust storms and monsoons, and the like, but in practice, it was all feasible and enjoyable. I believe that makes it at least two full years since I drove a car to work. 
Through chatting cell phone drivers and breakdowns, I Just Ride

My interior cycling obsessions continue their tectonic shift toward the Grant Petersen Rivendell Jan Heine Bicycle Quarterly Velo Orange Lovely Bicycle Harris Cyclery corners of the bicycle world, perhaps pushed over the border line by my visit to the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel. On the other hand, I probably did not get in enough art rides in 2012, or enough rides in general--can one ever have enough of either, is a valid, and for me unanswered, question.

Looking ahead to more excellent canal paths with great public art

Although I enjoy the ineffable or semi-effable effects of cycling, I find it to be an inexpensive and effective means of transportation, particularly as we all try to figure out what personal adjustments we need to make to thrive in the new-normal economy of constant sky-high oil prices, neverending wars, job insecurity, wild market and price swings, and shifting sands of social and financial support systems. 

Between the first Canal Convergence ride, and the incredible fortune of hearing both Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Grant Petersen speak at length about bicycles at Pedal Craft Vol. 2 (which had an amazing turn-out), I witnessed an increasing enthusiasm and participation in real-life cycling which encourages me to keep on riding, too. On the other hand, I also attended the Not One More Foundation Ride of Honor, which, in a year which included several tragic and unnecessary cycling deaths, also highlights the pressing need to redouble efforts to increase cycling safety.

That's it, I think, the year in review for me. Ride more and ride happy, are my goals for 2013. And, of course, another year of 100% bicycle commuting. Peace, bicycle people. Keep on smiling and waving in 2013.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Detour

Legally, I believe I have to head up that zig-zaggy mountain pass pronto

 At the end of a year, there's a natural impulse to look back. When I look back at the older posts on this blog, I come across many things I would write differently now, or would edit out. I try different things, and they don't always work out. Once and a while they seem to, though, so I'll give myself permission to continue to try different things and stumble once in a while in the process.

Happily, when I look back at the first post I wrote, Nov 5, 2009, it still resonates with me, and I'm content with those words. The words were triggered by a specific moment on a specific night ride. The wingbeats of that owl, the panicked racing flight of the rabbit it was chasing, the way he darted into the mesquite and stayed alive for another night, are still vivid in my memory, as if they just happened. I'm still not entirely sure why, but that moment, the rabbit darting, the owl veering so close to me that I felt like its wings were right there, the night unfolding down that specific path, was pivotal. It would be accurate, though not complete or that insightful, to say that the moment inspired me to ride my bicycle a lot more than I ever have, and in a mindful and attentive manner. And to sometimes write about it, in an attempt to capture and enjoy it, I think.

This looking back is for the purpose of preparing to try to understand, to appreciate, to embrace, what unfolds next. What is currently unfolding. After the owl veers off his pursuit, what's next? When the rabbit darts into the mesquite in successful escape, what does he make of fate's last-minute stay? For that, and to spend focused time with my family, and to read and reflect, blogging operations will be on pause for the holidays. Which I am still more less seeing in the way I mentioned recently

Patience, kindness, tolerance, understanding, compassion, those things we have far too little of, I wish, I suppose even pray, more for all of us. Go, ride, veer off into the night when the rabbit escapes, run into the mesquite if you sense the owl's talons. That's what I'm thinking about during this detour through the holidays. I'm looking forward to rejoining the main road on the other side of that mountain.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marking the Path for the Path

Once the surveyors put down stakes, stuff gets real

Photos along the Arizona canal where the new MUP segment will go, before the keep out fences start keeping me out for a few months. Once they pave this section, it should stop getting goupy when it rains. Not that I have always minded.

10 Path F/G CO18 195 ST LT. Pardon me, do you speak stake?

What's it like to ride the Arizona canal hard as you can on December night when it's muddy? Glad you asked. Here's a video I took a while ago, still one of my favorites. Please watch. Makes me want to get back out there one more time while there's still the possibility of mud. Which is a contradiction, but I'm OK with that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Arizona Canal Multi-Use Path Project Starting in Scottsdale

So it begins...

During the Canal Convergence ride, I learned that this path improvement project would be starting soon, and that it would include some public art. By reading the text from the City Council meeting where the winning bid was selected, I learned some more (here quoted in detail, since I find that government web sites often have a document persistence of about six weeks):

"This project is part of the designated 11-mile Papago Trail system that follows the Arizona Canal along the Indian School Road alignment in Scottsdale and connects with the neighboring communities of Tempe and Phoenix. The portion of the Crosscut Canal from McDowell Road to Thomas Road was improved in 2007 and in 2010 the Crosscut Canal muitiuse path was completed to Indian School Road. This project connects numerous neighborhoods within the southern portion of Scottsdale and provides an improved linkage to adjacent communities. The proposed construction along this section of the Arizona Canal will include paved walkways, multi-use paths, landscaping, public art and area lighting. The scope also includes improved access and landscaping at Lafayette Park north of the Arizona Canal at 68th Street and minor pedestrian improvements at 64th Street and Thomas Road and 64th Street and Osborn Road."*

In other words, it will link up the Crosscut path with this Goldwater Tunnel. Which will be a good thing. Not sure how long it's going to take to complete. City of Scottsdale site currently says "Fall 2015" which seems a bit padded to me. The OSG Project Management Office is gathering more data before weighing in with a well-informed BBECD (bike blogger estimated completion date).  The OSG Art Critic Lab (OSGACL) is eagerly looking for more information regarding the public art elements, either online, or sketches, or shapes scratched in the dirt. Stay tuned.

OSGACL determined this sign was run over by a truck, as a form of conceptual art, a combined urge for striving linked with the blue of the sky and a potent urging away from attachment, calling into question the whole notion of "progress"

*While copying and pasting this text, which included embedded CR/LF characters, it occurred to me after all these years that if you want to get rid of embedded CR/LF so that you can let the lines wrap dynamically, and you aren't using vi in which case it's a quick single command away, you start at the bottom and delete going up to avoid the additional END key press after each line. A small thing, perhaps, but a joy nonetheless. Until that day when I get a smarter copy-paste.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Crossed Wires: Grouped, Dehumanized, Depersonalized Transport

Time for transformation, time to connect on a different level
"Drivers should...."
"All cyclists are...."
"Cars always..."
"Bicycles just don't..."

You hear these all the time. Probably say them. I'm sure I do. But these ways of speaking and thinking dehumanize, depersonalize, and group humans into objectified buckets that are more easily dismissed, more easily hurt, easing their quick diversion into angry little pigeonholes of ire and rage.

The familiar recipe follows: rapidly bucket everyone not in your car (or on your bike) into an outgroup with detestable habits, name them with a cold collective noun related to their means of transport (for example), and depersonalize whatever remains by ignoring individuality and any positive traits while hyping the negative into caricatured micro-actions which ignore any greater context, history, culture, or tradition. You may want to disavow any personal responsibility while you're at it.

I tried to watch the BBC "War on Britain's Roads" as research for this,  but found it so upsetting and discouraging that I couldn't last more than a few minutes. It was like the BBC collected ten years of sensational cop and reality shows, trimmed out anything even remotely nice, distilled them into their vile essence (l'eau de l'enfer), and poured this essence onto bicycles, and onto speeding cars and trucks aimed at bicycles. While, simultaneously, performing surreptitious conscience-ectomies, or humanity excisions, on everyone portrayed.

mindful mule got me thinking further about it, too. He's onto something, and I've experienced something similar to what he found by sticking a reflector on his helmet. Once you can be identified as a "person-shaped, with head and body" rather than merely "dark shape moving through the night," people in cars do seem to be more aware of you. 

But, carrying this to an extreme actually illustrated the problem more deeply for me. I imagined some sort of face display which would cause a human face (or faces) to light up in the area of my head, clearly visible to people driving cars at night. This variation on a "heads-up display," the FACE-UP DISPLAY, would very clearly identify me as a human being who just happens to be riding home in the night. This could be done on the sides and back such that my vision was not impaired. In front, perhaps the Face-Up Display could be projected above, or below, my actual face. Maybe with my name below the face: JOHN. Or even better, HUMAN. 

Think about that, though. Other than being technically cool, and possibly working for the first few of us who did it, eventually, once cyclists and pedestrians all sported Face-Up Displays at night, we'd be back at square one. Or two. In any case, there's plenty of face-to-face, up close and personal, violence and anger every day, already. At least in terms of purposeful, intentional, directed acts of anger (PIDAA). The Face-Up Displays might decrease nighttime collisions related of the SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You) flavor, but clearly PIDAA start inside.

So, here's the work to be done. With equal protection under the law required, let's do away with the outgrouping step. Combined with the Duty of care, anyway, we'd all be further along already. Let's start thinking and talking about people and humans on the road, rather than cyclists, motorists, drivers, or even cars and bicycles ("that car tried to hit me!"). Then, let's seek out the personal and specific facts relevant to a given act or event, before we project motive or intent that we have no actual basis for assuming. Often there is actually a reasonable explanation. Innocent until proven guilty. 

Finally, purge all stereotypes from thought. One "driver" does not bear the sins of the sum total of evil acts done by all people who have ever driven cars, for all of car history. Obviously. Yet, if you parse out some of the things people say, it sounds like they think they do.

But this is notably all superficial. Similar in effectiveness to all us night riders lighting up our FACE-UP DISPLAYS. After all, it's really the PIDAA, the purposeful, intentional, directed acts of anger, that are not so readily diagnosed and dealt with. PIDAA are human, all too human, right? 

But there may be something in the anger-response sequence that we could profit from if we understood it better. We are so wired with fight-or-flight, self-defense reflexes, amygdala, and dumps of hormones and enzymes that resisting them directly seems futile and somewhat self-defeating. Furthermore, those quick responses just might be life-saving at a critical moment. 

But what about when Bubba in the 4x4 truck cuts me off on my bicycle in a near-miss, what then? The sequence: physical, quickened heart rate, sweat, adrenaline, cortisol, glucose, dumped in all at once, sure. Then the initial raw anger rising. It's there, let's acknowledge it, but now slow down just for a moment to observe this sequence coming up next. What I notice is, just about now is when the consciousness kicks in and starts to catch up with all the news and information coming in from all sources, all the data, all the noise and fury all piled up. Now, take a step back. There's only one chance to do so, it's all going to come down in the next tick. This instant is what interests me, the moment of opportunity for consciousness to turn in observation of consciousness itself along with the rest of the organism to ask, with one clear loud voice like a pure bell, the question: What is it that I would will myself to do in the next moment, if I could carefully consider the facts of the matter, and with that information to guide my decision, do right?

This is the time-stopping instant: in the face of it, how do we do right? It's hard, with so many wires so crossed up.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

44 Balls Help the Pedals Go Round

Adjustable cone, requires 3/8" finger spanner, or something else...

First thing when I looked inside the Specialized Touring pedals from the 1980s, I noticed the old-looking grease, which would have to come out and be replaced with fresh. Second thing, I took a closer look at the adjustable cone, and wasn't sure what type of tool, if any, was meant to be nestled into those notches to hold it in place while tightening the lock nut and washer on top of it. In practice, I found that the lock nut plus washer transferred little enough torque to the cone that I didn't really need a spanner (of some sort) to hold it.  I'd be obliged if someone knows what the correct tool would be, though, since I was unable to identify the exact one online with various searches.

Once again, though, I found that some soft jaws in a vise holding the pedal axle really would have made the job easier. That, or having three hands. I may acquire the pedal vise jaws, and (if I can identify it) the square pronged pedal cone spanner, to make the job that much easier when I have to service these again in 2015.

Job just getting started

These pedals use 11 x 5/32" bearings at each end, x 2 pedals, equals 44 balls. They all came out, got degreased and de-degreasered, dried, and then bedded down in a pretty new cushion of fresh blue grease.

Yes, ironically that's a pretty old tube of PPL-1.

Nesting the 44 balls, 11 at a time, back into place, then slipping the lightly greased axle back into the pedal body, I didn't knock any balls out of place, or drop any on the floor. One or two did try to roll off the work area a few times, so I kept them in bowls while I was working. Also, I only did one pedal at a time. Although I don't think any of these parts (except axles) were specific to one side or the other, you never know with pedals, and I didn't want to find out the hard way.

Nice shiny axle, although the threads haven't been cleaned yet

Pedals and hubs with adjustable cones are something I enjoy working on. It took a pretty light touch to get the cones adjusted just right on these. I would estimate the difference between too loose and just tight enough at about 5 degrees of rotation of the cone. Which those square notches came in handy for keeping track of. I just visually lined them up with a reference, loosened the lock nut, used a tweezers to nudge the cone one way or the other, then tightened the lock nut back down, just far enough that the knock was gone. The result was 44 balls helping the pedal go round quite smoothly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Are Golden in the Night: Pedal Reflectors

As I ride more and more into the darkness...

As I ride more and more into the darkness in these near-to-Solstice evenings, I become more and more aware of my visibility, as well as that of other cyclists (or lack of). Every reflective bit catches my attention, every dark lurking ninja rider my silent well-wishing for brighter equipment. In that theme, I have gone ahead and deployed the pedal reflectors, thus joining those who ride golden in the night.

These came off some forgotten set of pedals and out of the reflective / light-up parts box. Yes, there is one of those. I tried to use the "Drooping Marlo" Park MT-1 to tighten the nuts on the back. Alas! The Drooping Marlo has too many protruding bits to fit into the tight space inside the pedal cage to tighten the nuts, which meant I was forced to use a plain old wrench.

I like pedal reflectors because their opposing dancing motion suggests feet pushing pedals so clearly that they read "bike" to almost everyone. Viewed directly from the front or rear and assuming no pedal movement about the pedal axle, and circular chain rings, this appears as a simple harmonic motion on each side, 180 degrees out of phase, A cos omega T where A=length of the crank arm, ignoring that I have Biopace chainrings. Since my crank arms themselves don't change length, the result may be close enough to A cos omega T for blog work. Let's just say constant velocity um-kay? The motion is sinusoidal in time and demonstrates a single resonant frequency. If it reminds you of two weights hanging on springs moving in coordinated but exactly opposite phase, you're exactly right. And you could view the graph of that sine wave in space if you followed the motion of the pedal as a point from the side. Hopefully your body is not making a visible side-to-side sine wave as you ride, though.

But enough math
Or, I'll pause in considering the simple harmonic motion of the dancing golden pedals and look at the sunset for a moment. I would think I made that up, if I wasn't there and took a photo. Perhaps I did imagine it, some sort of golden harmonic motion hallucination.

Anyway, back to business. Who else is with me on the pedal reflectors? Who else appreciates the reflective golden harmonic motion dancing in the night? For greater visible harmony!


Equation for the period of a harmonic oscillator mass-spring system. Noticing that the period of a spring and mass does not depend on the displacement could lead us down a discussion of trying to match the stiffness of the springs of a front fork to the effective mass such that it has the same period as the observed motion of the pedal reflectors, but that's just crazy talk. Although I would enjoy a nice bike ride in the countryside with Robert Hooke to discuss it. Making sure we deployed pedal reflectors in case we were out after dark.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Zero One Infinity: Christmas Needs

Tunnel bed

Riding through this tunnel along the Arizona Canal, I saw the coroplast campaign sign tucked in against the wall of blotted-out graffiti, and it caught my attention. I powered on past, enjoying the glorious Sunday afternoon weather, but kept thinking about it. Why was that sign there? Windblown, or purposely placed? If purposely, for what purpose?

Then I remembered the multistory car park (parking garage) in Blackpool. Back in my student days, hiking and bumming rides and otherwise getting around England as cheaply as possible, one November night in Blackpool, Plan A fell through, we missed the last bus back to our hostel in another town, and I found myself wandering around a closed-down town on a cold rainy night with my traveling companions. All low on money, and lower on sleeping bags or warm/dry clothing, we began to get pretty argumentative regarding our next move. Not that we had many choices. It was close to or after closing time for pubs, which back then was pretty early, and our desire to save some money for food for the next few days was overwhelming (for the moment) our chilly discomfort and fatigue. So we decided to try sleeping on the ground in a multistory car park, which would at least get us out of the wind and rain.

But sleeping on the pavement is even colder. The cement seemed to suck the heat right through our wet clothes. None of us had anything like a ground cloth or tarp in our bags, since we hadn't planned to spend the night in Blackpool anyway. We scouted around the area, and found some large cardboard boxes, which when put down in layers helped to insulate quite a bit, and was slightly softer than sleeping on the cold bare pavement. Or trying to sleep. After failing to do anything but shiver and get colder, we reluctantly decided to go back to a small hotel we had passed, and beg for a cheap room. The innkeeper turned out to be a friendly, motherly type, who took us in, gave us hot drinks and some food, and gave us a warm room for cheap.

So the memory of Blackpool clarified for me that the campaign sign is someone's bed. And I started to think, as the holiday season churns into full gear, I don't really need anything for Christmas. I asked myself, what do you really need? Some would say a bowl for food and a roof over your head is really all you need. I have quite a bit more than that, I suppose. And I'm not ready to start downsizing down to a bowl, a roof, and a coroplast bedroll, but I am certain that I don't need more stuff for Christmas this year.

It's dry down here, but cold air tends to settle in the lower areas at night

I think I will tell people to give me no-thing this year. Not "nothing," no-thing. I'm looking for empty boxes to unwrap, empty except for notes pledging to be kind in 2013, to practice tolerance, understanding, patience, amplify compassion, care for those in need, something along those lines. Donations to charities rather than gifts that aren't needed makes sense to me., Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, a local homeless shelter or food bank, local bicycle cooperative, these all sound like more worthy outlets for material wealth than a cyclist who doesn't currently need anything more. I get that part of the season is the giving part, so give me a note that says NO-THING on it, and feel good.

It could be that giving stuff is easier than giving no-thing. Is it easier to click the BUY button on an e-commerce site than to leave me a no-thing comment promising to try to be kind in 2013? Would my kids rather buy me a new tie than swear to try to be more patient and tolerant in 2013? Maybe. If so, perhaps I'll take them for a bike ride along the Arizona Canal, and show them the coroplast campaign sign bed. 

Christmas Eve, looking at the lighted candles, I'm going to be thinking about cardboard spread out on the cold pavement. And hoping for a inbox full of no-thing notes.

Sleeping rough, with down cushions for insulation, beats coroplast

Too far out? Unrealistic, not sustainable, not enough impact? I'm not going to Scrooge out on my family, either, they'll get stuff under the tree, this is a personal choice for myself. The title comes from the Zero One Infinity rule, which is supposed to apply to computer software, as in, you can have zero, one, or infinity of anything, just don't impose some crazy limit like "The maximum number of menu entries is 15." 15? Why not 12? Or 22? No one will ever need a date past 1999. No one will ever need more than 4,294,967,296 (232) IP addresses on the Internet. That sort of thing. In this case, I was thinking of it in answer to the question, what's the limit on how much more stuff I really need? Zero, one, or infinity? This Christmas, anyway, I'm looking at zero, the no-thing approach. We'll see how it turns out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Food Truck Friday Ride: The Advantages of Indecisiveness

Can't decide? GREAT!!

Friday, late morning, hungry, couldn't decide what to eat for lunch. Rooted around the kitchen, nothing. Rummaged through the refrigerator, also nada. Thought through the nearby options, nothing sounded good. Getting hungrier. Considered riding down to Food Truck Friday. Checked time. It was around 11:30, and I believed (accurately, it turned out) that FTF ends at 1:30. Couldn't decide. Getting hungrier.

Fooled around with bike and associated tools for a while. Arranged tools. Restocked my commute bag. Checked the time. Really had to get going if I was going to make it. Checked refrigerator again. Looked in cupboards in case anything had changed since the last time (it hadn't). Getting hungrier. Reviewed local options again. Nope, nothing rang up as WOW.

That did it. Checked time. Would have to ride fast. But, I figured that being in an indecisive mood meant that FTF would be PERFECT for me, since I would have so many options to choose from. 

By the time I got there, only about 15 minutes officially remained, and several trucks were indeed making closing-up motions. I made a really hungry beeline for BURGERS AMORE! and without hesitation got a bacon cheeseburger with curly fries. The burger was great, the fixings bar terrific with dark green lettuce, fresh tomatoes and red onions, and plenty of jalapenos, too. Did not love the curly fries, not actually sure why I went with them anyway, they're not something I normally order, but they sounded good after the ten mile bike ride to the FTF. There were even some better-sounding choices like truffle fries or those old standbys, cheese fries. Surely must have been the hunger talking. Next visit I will go with something non-curly.

Micro chocolate-based burger facsimile for desert! Cute idea, too minty for my taste, being a dark chocolate man.

There was still a crowd eating when I got there, but the trucks truly were closing up shop as I ate my bacon cheeseburger. Oh, and it had this thick-cut roundish burger designer bacon on it or something similar, I'm not really sure because it disappeared so fast.

The streets in Phoenix between Oak and Fillmore seem to be getting pretty bad, very cracked up and bumpy for long stretches. The drivers, on the other hand, were great. No honks, no cut-offs, no noticeable impatience, everyone saw my hand signals and it all worked fine, even on a busy Friday lunch time ride. I saw a significant number of other cyclists out and about, particularly in the area of the market. 

It just happened that I got to several lights as they turned red, so I got to test out the triggering sensors, and they all seemed to detect my bicycle at least as well as the ones I hit every day on my commute, which is good. I also noticed that several of the bike lanes inside right turn lanes had special bike-specific detection wires installed, which is awesome. They are obvious when you know what they are, but I was thinking that some cyclists may not recognize them, and would be helped with some pavement marking and signage to show you where to put your wheels:


So many choices...

Sentrock mural at Phoenix Public Market. No more coffee, food and/or wine at this time, though.

Should I head down to FTF again next Friday, and try the truffle fries? Or how about the Filipino food truck instead? I can't decide.