Monday, February 03, 2014

It's winter out there -- a lot..

I didn't watch the Superb Owl shit show consume-a-thon yesterday.  I rode my bike with some friends on a beautiful, if not a bit brisk, day.

The Ice Beard cometh...

Adding the Pugsley to the mix made winter fun again (well, it always was for me).  Get out and ride.  As the Finns say: There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

Bundle up and pedal on.

Friday, September 06, 2013


In 1975 I got a paper route and I've had a job ever since. That streak was broken today as I said goodbye to a job that I've had for over 16 years. I bid my co-workers farewell with tears in my eyes because I was so lucky to work with really great people and I will miss them dearly.

I quit my job and I'm not going to another company. Why? Burn out is a real thing. I had a very difficult time working -- I'd feel almost physically ill some days. Sunday nights were dampened with a dread that I had to go to work again Monday. Slowly that dread would creep in earlier and earlier into the weekend until Saturday nights were now deadened with pain of returning to the office.

Not only did I feel dread, but I was slowly turning into a creature that my wife barely recognized. Sour, depressed, angry at everything. I felt that there was nothing worth doing, no activity would bring me joy, no happiness was possible. I would drift into dark mental places that scared me.

I had to leave.

I started saving my money and paying off any debts I had outstanding so that when the time came, I could count on the ability to live on Mrs Yam's salary. When a surprise windfall showed up, I was able to pay off our car, the last of the debts except for the mortgage. With that out of the way, I started the long, dark trek of convincing myself it was possible to leave.

It's odd what a hold a job or career has on a person. Our culture is all about work; the question "What do you do?" is not about hobbies, but your job. We define people by their occupations, how much someone earns, their title and position. I have always worked and to convince myself that it isn't necessary to always work was depressingly difficult.

What would I do if I quit? Would I be able to live the life to which I'd become accustomed? Perhaps that lifestyle and its attendent costs chained me to a job I was no longer willing to do? What if I changed how I lived? Could I live differently and be happier? I intend to find out. I'll not be working, but I'll be busy. I have bikes to ride, camping to do, cooking and baking to perfect, gardens to put to bed and a house to clean. After all of that, there's a couple of Robin Hood bikes that need renovating, sewing to learn, and volunteering to do.

I'll eventually get back to working for money, but there's no guarantee that I'll be back in IT. I'll put my resume out there, but I'm not going to look real hard. Maybe I'll get my computer mojo back and maybe I won't. Not sure what will happen, but I want to wander and see where life leads me. I feel good about this, and I'm scared and excited to see what the future holds.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Silly geek things

I've purchased an ASUS RT-N66R wireless router for my house. At nearly $200, it's probably more than your average Net-using citizen requires, but I'm not a typical user. It runs a Linux kernel (handy!), it has three antennae and can easily light up any device in a standard house. E.g., my little phone can get a strong enough signal at the opposite end of the house to run Netflix. Of course watching movies on a tiny screen is straining for these old eyes, but if I need to watch Doctor Who while lying in bed, I have the bandwidth to pull it off.

Yay me.

Anyway, the stock OS load is decent and if you have no need to mess with computers and their parts, you'll be fine. I'm not fine, though. Tinkering is my game and this gadget is a tinkerer's jewel. I'm contemplating changing to an new version of Tomato or DD-WRT, but until then I needed a couple of network tools that weren't available on the stock ROM. To fix that, you'll need to do a couple of things, essentially, enable the download tools, add a drive and install the software packages you need.

To do that on an ASUS RT-N66U, you need to insert a USB thumb drive into the back of the router and then dismount it by using a browser to go to the router's address and logging in. On the left hand side, select the "Network Map" icon, then select the drive icon that shows up center bottom section (the USB icon). From there, click on the "Safely Remove disk: Remove" button. This will di/smount the newly inserted USB stick.

Now you'll need to telnet to the router and format the drive that you've just installed.

dmesg at the command prompt will tell you where the USB ended up (bottom slot is probably /dev/sdb and the top USB slot is /dev/sdc).  In my case it was /dev/sdc

Check the partitions by issuing

admin@RT-N66U:/# fdisk -l /dev/sdc

Disk /dev/sdc: 8004 MB, 8004304896 bytes
35 heads, 21 sectors/track, 21269 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 735 * 512 = 376320 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks  Id System
/dev/sdc1               1       21270     7816688   b Win95 FAT32

 you'll probably see one partition, so let's delete it.  

admin@RT-N66U:/# fdisk /dev/sdc

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 21269.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
   (e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Command (m for help): d 1
Selected partition 1

Create a new disklabel:

Command (m for help): o
Building a new DOS disklabel. Changes will remain in memory only,
until you decide to write them. After that the previous content
won't be recoverable.

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 21269.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
   (e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Now create new partition:

Command (m for help): n
Command action
   e   extended
   p   primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-21269, default 1): Using default value 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-21269, default 21269): Using default value 21269

Now check your work:

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sdc: 8004 MB, 8004304896 bytes
35 heads, 21 sectors/track, 21269 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 735 * 512 = 376320 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks  Id System
/dev/sdc1               1       21269     7816347  83 Linux

Write your changes to the stick:

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table

Now format the stick:

admin@RT-N66U:/# mke2fs -b 1024 /dev/sdc1
mke2fs 1.38 (30-Jun-2005)
Filesystem label=
OS type: Linux
Block size=1024 (log=0)
Fragment size=1024 (log=0)
977920 inodes, 7816344 blocks
390817 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user
First data block=1
955 block groups
8192 blocks per group, 8192 fragments per group
1024 inodes per group
Superblock backups stored on blocks:
        8193, 24577, 40961, 57345, 73729, 204801, 221185, 401409, 663553,
        1024001, 1990657, 2809857, 5120001, 5971969

Writing inode tables: done                       
Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done
This filesystem will be automatically checked every 28 mounts or
180 days, whichever comes first.  Use tune2fs -c or -i to override.


You're done.  Now you need to enable the Download Master software by going to the router's web page and clicking on USB applications and selecting the install option.  Optware has been installed.  You can now use the ipkg application like any other package manager and get useful tools for your router.  I installed openssh, openssh-sftp-server, nmap and tcpdump by using the following command:

ipkg install ckagename>

You can get a list of packages by using

ipkg list

and looking for what you need.  

Monday, September 03, 2012

Back in time...

I have been reminded that I haven't been posting much and that I've not been putting much music, either (thanks, Beany).  I hope remedy both with this post.

I have been wandering back into time in my musical tastes of late; alternative radio and I started haunting college campuses about the same time. Until I left for school, I was a typical mid-western metal-head with the tastes of the times: Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, etc. with a strange fascination for Rhythm and Blues that I picked up after seeing the Blues Brothers movie. Punk was barely on my radar, but I liked some of the stuff that I'd heard and the music scene in Minneapolis at the time was phenomenal. More on this later.

I had a roommate that came into our room one night and declared, "You gotta hear this!" He set down a 6-pack of beer and the new R.E.M. album, Murmur. Fascinated by the sound, we just played the album (real vinyl, kids!) over and over, flipping from one side to the other and back again, marveling in a sound we'd never heard before.

There are few albums that have grabbed me like this has and it still has a pull on me 30 years later. I've been wandering through collections and I've been listening to all the old R.E.M. that I have and thought I'd let you hear what's grabbed my ear as of late:

This TV appearance on the Letterman has crappy sound, but it truly captures the energy of the Hibtone recording of this song. It's a lean, muscular punk version that is nothing like the shoe-staring, dreamy version recorded later for the album.

 The other YouTube video from the same Letterman show - South Central Rain, but it didn't have a title at that time. It's funny now, but this song sounds so much like Modern English's I Melt With You:

The last video was a song included on their first compilation album, Dead Letter Office. Ages of You is a sweet little pop song that R.E.M. has apparently tired of, but this song is one that scratches my brain in a happy spot and I include the song in this live video (it's the first of three songs) because it again shows the energy of a young band and their sound at a less placid tempo.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Trucker is Dead. Long live the Trucker.

I have been destabilizing my stable, as it were. I started out this year with:
  • A K2 mountain bikecycle (as Stevil would say)
  • A Brompton (S6L)
  • A Schwinn something-or-other as a winter bike
  • A Pugsley
  • A Big Dummy
  • A 58cm 700c Long Haul Trucker
I have sold the K2 and the LHT to purchase the LHT shown above.  This one is a 56cm 26" wheeled Disk Trucker.  The reason for the swap was to find a better fit; the 58cm was a nice-riding bike, but it was too tall for my stumpy legs and would cause me too much grief when it had loaded panniers on it.  This one seems to fit me better and I hope to load it up and go away for a while with it.  It certainly calls to me...

Jim at Hiawatha Cyclery was kind enough to bird dog one before the next shipment was to arrive at the middle or end of September.  His eagle eyes and cat-like reflexes snagged this beauty when two mysteriously appeared at QBP.  The bike arrived and was lovingly assembled by Mongo and then Tubus racks were applied.  This is a change for me as I'm quite a fan of the Surly Nice Rack.  Well, the rear racks anyway.  The front rack seems to be over-engineered and is a real test to install.  It was probably for the better, as I'd heard that the front rack wouldn't fit over disk brakes on the Truckers.

Before the arrival of the DT, there was a point where I had a non-functioning K2, the LHT was being ridden by a potential purchaser, the Brompton had developed a mystery skip in the rear cog, the winter bike was disassembled and the Pugsley was giving me fits with the brakes after changing the tires.  A velostential crisis was looming: I was running out of bikes!  My trusty Dummy was still ridable, but really, I was starting to panic (a little).

Then it seemed as if the clouds parted and all was right again in my personal velosphere: the mystery was solved on the Brompton (loose hub), the brakes were righted with a another set of hub maintenance and brake tightenings, I discovered the weirdness on the K2 and fixed that (a middle chainring that was a collection of dolphin fins and shark's teeth -- repaired by replacing it) and the potential buyers both committed to purchasing the LHT and the K2, thus garnering the funds to purchase the new Disk Trucker.

As an aside, the problems with the Pugsley began after I replaced the standard Larry/Endomorph combination with a set of Black Floyds.  Boy howdy.  These things really change the character of the bike and turn it into a real street-rod.  I'm loving them muchly and if you find yerself riding less demanding terrain, these will make your fat bike roll easier by an order of magnitude.  Sweet new tennie-runners for the Pug.

I can't honestly think of any more bikes that I need, but I wouldn't pass up a chance to get a set of his-and-hers gaspipe Raleighs.  Or a Salsa Fargo, I like the Fargo.  And a beach cruiser.  Or maybe a...


Sorry.  Got a little carried away.  Number of bikes you have plus one and all that, you know. 


Yeah. Well, anyway, it seems my crisis has been averted and all is well again in Veloland.

Keep the rubber side down, and we'll see ya out there.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beer time!

We're meeting at Harriet Brewing (one block south of Lake on Minnehaha) on Thursday, August 2nd. The taproom opens at 16:00. It's a great place; the beers are good and the food truck on site will be Anchor Fish and Chips.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Presidential candidate insults both long-time ally and local blogger:


Sure, they're no Dressage horses, but we like 'em.