The spoke shadows bend and warp due to the way my phone's camera works. Instead of gathering data from all of the pixels at once, cheaper digital imagers grab one pixel or one line at a time. This happens pretty quickly, but when there's something in motion, you can see the psychedelic effect.
It's more pronounced in this one, where I tried photographing the Crown Center fountain park from a moving bus just as we passed a No Parking sign.
Waiting for a train to pass.
This is a pedestrian tunnel that goes under Santa Fe Drive near eighty-something-ish street in Overland Park. I had no real need to use it, but I wanted to go through anyway. It's near a school, so I guess it may have been intended to be used as a safe way to cross the street. It reeked of urine.
Seen at the entry to my grandmother's assisted living community. Break out the stereotypes now. She broke her wrist in a slip-and-fall a few weeks ago, and I was there to visit her. She seems to be doing a bit better now.
7-Eleven has gone completely off the deep-end with Domo-kun stuff. Here, a pile of more than 1,000 8-ounce coffee cups sit, all decorated like the beloved Japanese stop-motion character.
Last weekend, a few friends and I went to the Crossroads for First Friday. It's kind of a fusion of art, dining, bicycles (likely something to do with Critical Mass happening the same night), music and urban culture. From my point of view as a nerdy, fat, un-cultured, white, suburban thirty-year-old male, it appears to be a rather prosaic monthly hipster festival, replete with personal art galleries, fashion shows, street displays and sidewalk bands. In my own ignorance, I might go as far as to call it a very pretentious block party. The crowd emitted a distinct vibe that the whole First Friday thing is far more culturally emblematic than I can comprehend, though. I'm willing to concede.
We set up a projector with Tetris on an SNES and let people play it while talking about Cowtown Computer Congress. It was an interesting time and I met many people who are much cooler than I am.
I did, however, see this Lexus on my way home when I swung by Best Buy to pick up a new headset for my wife. I rang my bike's bell, but no one was around to notice.
Oh, yeah. September weather is finally here. It's about time.
Golan Globus - Blazer (2005 Radio Edit)
Alanis Morissette - Thank U
I'm not a fan of Sci-Fi. Not TV shows nor movies, and certainly not novels. I have a certain distaste for fiction novels in general. Having fiction incessantly forced down my gullet in school sealed the deal. "How utterly pointless," I'd ponder to myself: "this stuff has nothing real to offer. It's imaginary. It's trite and impractical." You'd find me poring over manuals to DOS or BASIC, poking through the Haynes repair guide that we got with our 1981 Accord, or with my nose stuck in one of several invention compendiums such as the original "The Way Things Work." Even in college, I opted to go for Technical Writing instead of the co-requisite of Intro. To Fiction. I was fine with that. I enjoy technical writing: the ability to create concise instructions in simple English.
Sure, I liked the Star Wars Trilogy - the originals. Phantom Menace and friends did little for me. I grew up watching old-school Star Trek:TOS and Buck Rogers re-runs with my dad. I remember watching the debut of Star Trek:TNG, too, But I never got sucked into any of it. I never played Light Saber with my flashlights, never imagined myself beamed to the surface of a mysterious planet or anything like that. My nerd friends would obsess over their comic books, anime flicks, and video games. All of them were tantamount to fiction to me.
C.J. Cherryh's Tripoint captivated me during a hot weekend camping trip in 1995. I devoured it in under 2 days -- likely fueled by the fact that it was a distraction from the heat. The summer after 7th grade was spent somewhat obsessed with Choose Your Own Adventure pulp. I have no excuse for that, other than the poor judgment that comes with being a stupid teenager. Otherwise, works of fiction have inspired me very little.
Every once in a while, I try again. I own the entire Chronicles of Narnia and several Tolkein books. I could never get through the first few chapters of any of them -- I can honestly say I don't understand how people get tied up in them or modern attempts at thematic parallels minus any shred of Christianity: things like the Golden Compass and Harry Potter. I tried a few books that my mother recommended, by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, chiefly). No dice. Some time ago, I gave Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon a go since it's supposedly his masterpiece. I love his writing style, but I couldn't stand the erratic story line or the book's arduous thousand-long page count. I was done by the time I hit chapter nine.
Last weekend, I gave Neal Stephenson another whirl. I was at Border's picking up some periodicals and saw Snow Crash sitting there on the shelf. It's a nerd cult classic. All of my geeky friends read it nearly two decades ago. I'd never touched it before. Curious, I picked it up and read the first page.
Let me say this: No tech reference, magazine, biography or industry whitepaper has ever compelled me the way that the first page of Snow Crash did. It called me to fork over the cash to make it my own. Had it gone any other way, I'd probably have set it back on the shelf then made a note to reserve it at the library. I'm 23 chapters deep, and I just broke out the lame "headwind" excuse this evening to take the bus so I can read more.
At any rate, if you haven't read Snow Crash yet, and you're a technophyle, I'd say you owe it to yourself to at least skim it a little. It still skips around, but not nearly as brutally as Cryptonomicon. It's also about half as thick, more interesting (to me) and dare I say almost prophetic about some things. Did Stephenson predict this stuff, or did he inspire it?!
Don't ask me how it happened, for I do not know. A motorcycle cop showed up just after I snapped this, so I wasn't going to interrupt and ask. It's a good thing, too. The discussion would have likely gone like this:
Me: "Pardon me."
Me: "What the f***, dude!?"
Guy: "Just driving along, and my trailer flipped over!"
and dusk. Cooler Weather. Autumn is officially here.
Despite being 55*F this morning, I saw a fellow bike commuter all
bundled up in (what I consider) winter gear -- balaclava, thick
gloves, heavy jacket. Whatever's comfortable, I suppose. I'm kind of
guessing the guy's a newbie who hasn't quite figured out how to
appropriately gear up for cooler temperatures. I was the same way when
I started, and quickly found myself sweating through my clothes.
Similarly, he could just need that kind of gear to be comfortable.
About this time last year when I was visiting San Francisco, I noticed
almost all cyclists wearing similar clothing in the high-40s. They're
just more comfy at warmer temperatures.
Nailing your cool weather attire is a trial-and-error experiment.
Everyone's different. What works for me at 55*F (shorts and a t-shirt)
won't always work for everyone. The best way to figure out what works
is to start logging the temperature in the morning, then figure out
what temperature you start getting uncomfortable in your current
get-up. Log the temperature, then try adding a layer of clothing.
If you're into technical, cycling specific clothing, this usually
means getting out the long sleeve jersey and perhaps some arm- or
leg-warmers. If you commute in street clothes, you might want to throw
on some long pants. If you commute in business casual attire, you'll
probably get cold a lot less easily, but when you do, it's probably
time to use a windbreaker and maybe some long johns. Keep logging
temperatures and re-evaluating how you feel. If your hands or ears get
uncomfortably cold at a certain temperature, cover them up. Layering
is important, and it's important to use wicking fabrics next to your
skin on longer commutes. This might mean a cozy wool jersey, or a
sport-performance base layer under your clothes. Wool is very
versatile and I personally think it doesn't pick up the "funk" that
you get with synthetic stuff, but it's expensive and some people find
it uncomfortable. One thing is true, though: It will keep you warmer
than cotton or lycra if it gets wet. Scientific fact. I plan on
picking up some more wool stuff as winter nears.
I say this every year, but you might want to consider changing your
route or altering your work schedule a little bit if you find yourself
riding into the sunlight at dusk or dawn. It doesn't matter how much
reflective gear or lighting you have, you will be very hard to see on
the road as motorists approach you from the rear, driving into the
sun. If you continue riding into the lesser-utilized part of cycling
season (cycling season last year round!) you'll want to make sure
you've got ample lighting for your adventures. If you stay on well-lit
roadways, you can stick with relatively-inexpensive attention-grabbing
devices like the Blackburn Flea headlight and Planet Bike Superflash
tail light that I use. Otherwise, you'll need to look at more
expensive lighting that can help you see the path ahead well enough to
safely navigate. I have a 15W halogen light for that, but LED tech is
advancing quickly and stuff at the $100-$150 price-point is getting
- The coffee RULES at this place!
- I love my mouse and 18-year-old keyboard and wish I had matching ones at work.
- KVM-over-IP does not work well over an RDP Session. Nerd alert!
- Boots can lay in my wife's office chair for nine hours straight.
Toward dusk, I walked to the grocery store (instead of riding, it was beautiful out!)
PSA: September means east/west glare is particularly loathsome at dawn and dusk. Be seen. Be Safe. Maybe modify your route or arrival/departure schedule a bit if you find yourself riding directly into the sun on busy roads.
Fantastic sunset - I can't give it justice.
The spot was barricaded by plants and rope. Park benches and games were set up for participants.
They had organic, veggies and snacks grown in urban community and container gardens, and a demo unit of an electric windmill.
A windmill of this size wouldn't do anything at all for home energy generation, though -- it was meant to be mounted on a boat. This company makes much larger models for home use. The representative on site noted that wind power is barely viable unless you're in a windy rural area.
PARK(ing) Day materials. The small flyers included recipes for snacks made using mostly veggies that one could grow in Kansas City's climate. I thought it was a nice touch.
Eric pulled up just as I was leaving.
Another subtle change I noticed lately is that all the crosswalks downtown are "WALK" by default when parallel traffic has a green light. I heard about it a while ago, just haven't been paying attention. Basically, the "push for walk" buttons are obsolete when there's traffic. I'd imagine that you'd still need to press it to let the system know you want to cross a busy street with no traffic in queue, though. Many intersections downtown are using motion-sensing cameras to trigger lights, as opposed to purely timer-based or underground hall-effect loop sensors. These won't likely sense pedestrians waiting to cross.
Tchaikovsky - Pas De Deux
Sarah Brightman - La Califfa
Into the darkness, Karen and I made our way downtown at a more relaxed pace than I've been pushing the past few days. I stopped at Truman and Main to try my hand at a panoramic shot with my phone. That didn't work too well, so I used my Canon, then stitched these together with Hugin.
On my way home, I noticed that someone loves parking meters.
Trio - Da Da Da
The Police - Every Breath You Take
Over lunch today, I had to head to the cave (round trip: 7.6 miles) to troubleshoot one of my personal servers that's residing there. I took my lunch with me and ate it there. Root beer, some left over pizza and a granola bar. Tasty. Despite my wretched diet, I'm losing a few pounds here and there once again.
This is the descent that wreaked havoc on the Un-Lenexa Midnight Cave Ride. There's no slippery mud on the slope, so it was a magnificent 85-foot drop into the limestone mines of days gone by. I still have no idea what the grade is, as my GPS doesn't work through 85 feet of rock and I suck at trigonometry. Not to mention that the 85 foot altitude change is just a guess from one of the folks in the leasing office.
The cool air outside near lunch time wasn't much warmer than the cave's internal temperature, so it actually felt warmer due to the increased humidity and lack of wind. The same humidity and lack of wind made this a genuine death slog on my way back to the office.
This was actually from the parking lot of the cave's upper entrance, as taken last Thursday.
The homeward ride was a little warmer than I'd have expected, but the winds are staying relatively calm -- not common for this time of year. I'm loving it, though. In the back alley across the street from my home, I saw these two delivery trucks deadlocked. I'm calling it "Mail Wars" - I wish I could have gotten my camera out quicker. This was taken after the UPS truck had backed up to allow the FedEx guy to pass through.
Say Anything - Baby Girl, I'm a Blur
Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disko
Anyhow, I got out a little early this morning, and saw a cyclist carrying a good pace up ahead of me. Being 5:30ish in the morning, I figured it had to be Grey. If that's the case, I probably wasn't going to catch up with him, but it didn't keep me from trying.
Sure enough, though, as I was pulling up to Johnson Drive on Merriam, I saw him bombing down the hill and turning in front of me. I'd closed in on him, but only because I took the easier route. I think he takes Quivira to 75th, then Nieman to Johnson Drive, whereas I take 67th east to get on Merriam Lane.
He was racing cyclocross yesterday, so was taking it easy this morning. Grey's version of "taking it easy" is somewhere toward the upper end of the speed I can maintain for the distance of my commute. Still, it was nice to run into him. I only see him a few times per year, and it's usually not for very long. In fact, this might be the only time I've actually commuted WITH him versus just seeing him in passing along the way. I bid him farewell as we turned onto Main, mostly because I just couldn't keep up the pace anymore. I took it easy up the hill into Downtown KCMO and used it as a bit of cool-down time.
Hen House Bike Parking
I've been in communication with a few different people from the company that runs the Hen House Market stores, and they've been a real pleasure to work with, asking for suggestions on where and how to mount their new bike rack. My suggestions were:
- Under the overhang, near the building
- Perpendicular to the wall so bikes can park on both sides of the rack
- Spaced far enough from the wall to make the closest spot usable.
Matt from Hen House also wanted me to let you know that they're now on Twitter, where they advertise some of their specials.
Sarah Mclachlan - Into The Fire
Chicane vs. Natasha Bedingfield - Bruised Water