Saturday, September 18, 2021

Just A Little Off The Top

The neighbour's tree was getting a little shaggy and overhanging my yard more than I like again, so after a fair bit of procrastination I finally got around to trimming it back.

As you can see it was a bit shaggy.

As is quite common for trees that have been previously butchered by pollarding.

It was also hanging over my yard.

Which I don't fancy as it lets rats onto my roof, shades out my solar panels, and generally makes that side of the yard a bit gloomy.

But after a bit of a haircut things are looking subtly nicer.

And there's much less leaning over the fence.

Although once again I was not able to reach the highest branch in the back, which has become my nemesis.

That's plenty enough trimming for one day.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Caloric Containment

Last week I decided to make myself some rice to go along with my usual Thursday lunch of instant ramen (I like it, it's a once-a-week thing). I cooked the rice as normal in my rice cooker, spooned it out onto a plate, spread it out a little and sprinkled it with soy sauce and a little fresh ground pepper.

By the time I ate it, it was pretty much cold. Rice doesn't have a lot of thermal mass, and spreading it out on a plate really increases its surface area. This is not ideal.

So, I took a hint from the masters of rice consumption: the Japanese. I got a set of bowls appropriately sized for rice, and not coincidentally also appropriately sized for instant ramen (regular cereal bowls are a bit too small, which is not a good situation when trying to contain a liquid such as soup).

I'm pretty happy with how things turned out.

In case you're wondering, the stuff on top of the rice in the background is assorted pickled vegetables, aka giardiniera, which isn't very Japanese, but is very tasty. Also some kalamata olives, which also aren't terribly Japanese, and also are very tasty.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Looking at it from a different angle

So I've gone through a few iterations of mounting my Garmin to Crimson Ghost. The standard method of mounting that Garmin provides is a little plastic doohickey that straps to the bars or the stem with some rubber o-rings. This works well enough, but it's not an entirely positive retention method, and on other bikes I would often find myself messing with the unit to get/keep it OCD-aligned.

Crimson Ghost added another confounding element to the puzzle: the stem is too short to fit the doohickey onto, and I didn't fancy the idea of strapping it to the bars off-center.

Thus, I embarked on the adventure of finding a better mount. K-Edge manufactures a variety of mounts, and I had good luck with an out-front mount on The Red Devil / Phoenix Down / Dirty Dozen, my CAAD road bike, but I felt like using the out-front mount on a mountain bike wouldn't be the best idea: if I went over the bars, the computer sticking out the front would likely get fucking beefed when the bike hit the ground.

Granted, going over the bars has other negative consequences, but I'm not really keen on the idea of adding more potential damage to that equation.

So the first attempt was with a rigid over-the-stem adapter that basically functioned as an extra headset spacer. This worked ok, but due to the fact that it was flat, it interfered with the top of the stem and meant I had to run a bunch of spacers between the mount and the stem, thus lowering the bar height. This wasn't the end of the world, but neither was it elegant.

So, I swapped the rigid adapter over to BlackBirb, and got a mount with an adjustable angle.

This was a much more elegant solution from a purely mechanical point of view, but it also introduced a new issue: the Garmin screen was now pointing more towards my groin than my face.

Ok, maybe the angle wasn't all that extreme, but it still made the display much harder to read than it needed to be.

So, let's see if third time is lucky, this time with a top cap mount.

Still elegant, and a bit more compact, and most importantly the screen is at a more agreeable angle once more.

However, the unit now overhangs the back of the stem, which makes me slightly concerned that it might at some point come in violent contact with my knee.

I suppose I'll just have to see how things go.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Do Not Expose To Sunlight

Clearly nobody could have foreseen that someone would mistreat a SOLAR PANEL by leaving it out in direct sunlight for an extended period of time.

This use case is clearly well outside of its intended design parameters.

The interesting thing is that this has been getting most of its sunlight filtered through a car windshield, which should actually block most of the incoming UV (around 95%), which makes me wonder how fast the mounting brackets would have disintegrated if I had left it out in actual direct sunlight.

I also forgot that the frame used to be anodized black (or maybe dark brown, it's hard to tell). It had faded so gradually towards the bronze color that it completely didn't register in my mind.

The good news, however, is that these brackets aren't actually critical to my application, and in fact I wasn't even using them at all.

I will not miss them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Putting A Stop To It

So SRAM brakes have, in the past, had a little issue with the master cylinder pistons swelling over time, often when heated (such as when you leave your bike out in the sun). The only fix for this is to replace the pistons with the newer revisions that have more clearance between the piston and the master cylinder bore.

It turns out that this process is a bit tricky, as the piston is retained in the master cylinder by a snap ring, but it's too deep to reach with standard snap ring pliers, which I only discovered after buying the wrong ones. Luckily the right ones aren't too expensive, and the obstacle was soon surmounted.

I also decided to make a video of the adventure, which you can watch here.


Laboring in the Mines

Took a wee ride on Crimson Ghost on a fine Labor Day Monday.

The Guadalupe Reservoir isn't sucking mud just yet, but it's certainly low. Technically my house is in this picture, on the far side of a few of those hills.

I wanted to do a little exploring through Almaden Quicksilver, named for the old mercury mines that used to operate in the area (the remains of which are still rusting away).

Normally I'd use BlackBirb for this type of ride, but I just rebuilt the brakes on Crimson Ghost so I wanted to give it a shakedown ride to make sure everything was in good working order.

Mission accomplished.

Your Mother Was A Hamster

So I suppose this is what elderberry flowers look like. At least, this variety of elderberries.

As with the previous flower post, I used my fancy new reflector to improve the lighting here. I also tried the gold side for these flowers but I think it ended up making the wall behind them look a bit grimy and reduced the contrast a little.

A bit too sepia toned.

While I was out there I decided to get a glam shot of the butterfly bush, a plant I'm still not particularly fond of.

This is with the gold reflector providing fill light, and direct sunlight providing the main illumination. The elderberries, in contrast, are sort of in the shade.

The Future's So Bright

So it was about time I upgraded my shades.

My cycling sunglasses were doing well, but the rubberized pads on the arms had swelled a bit over time and were starting to split at the ends. Since they've lasted quite well I decided to go with the same brand for the new ones.

New ones in the front, old ones in the back. I don't recall the model of the old ones, but the new ones are the Tifosi Slice.

For my day-to-day sunglasses I had been wearing a pair of nearly identical Fila branded shades. They served me fairly well, but more recently they started getting sticky-plastic-syndrome and the paint started flaking off the frames. It was time to take them out behind the woodshed.

The new shades are Suncloud Airways, and with any luck they should last me as long as the previous ones.

As you can see, those old ones are done.

As to why I have different sunglasses for daily and cycling purposes, the reason is simple: I like a light shade photochromic lens for my cycling so that I can wear the same pair day or night, and I prefer a darker shade for the regular sunglasses.