Monday, December 28, 2009

Pnwd!



Here's to Haywood! (Click the image to enlarge)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bicycle handling clinic



 It snowed last night here in Minneapolis and the streets have taken on the consistency of Bisquick -- the combination of sand and churned, compacted snow create a treacherous riding surface.  I've shod the mountain bike with the Nokians, but studs aren't really all that helpful in this greasy semi-powder.  It's tiring, tricky riding and bouncing from one rut to another is quite a test for one's ability to keep upright and moving forward.  What a long, slow trip it's been...

Santa, baby, it may be difficult to stuff down a chimney, what with the giant tires, put please stuff one of these in my sock this year:



Friday, December 04, 2009

Solstice bike



My brother-in-law got married a couple of weeks ago and the wonderful person he married decorated her own wedding.  One of the elements she used was some battery-powered Christmas lights wrapped in a gauzy material.  While helping take down the decorations, I asked if she was going to use all of them thar lights and she happily let me have them.

The DumVee is now sporting them for in celebration of the long nights and a desire for the days to return...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Something I Learned Today...

...Black and White is always Gray...

No, wait.

The Shimano Alfine hub does allow a convenient tire change, once you figure out how to get get the hub loose from the cable. To simplify removal, set the gear to the lowest value (switching to "1" in my case). There is a lock ring that loosens once you twist it in the opposite from the arrow and then it disconnects from the gearing completely. Remove the wheel and change the tire/tube as needed and make sure that the wheel is back in place and any chain tensionser is correctly connected before reassembling the connector to the Alfine hub. Align the red dots and make sure that the housing fits snugly and then attach the lock ring and align the yellow dots. Twist the lockring clockwise and until it stops and then make sure that the hub is securely attached.

This is more for my benefit than yours. As I grow older, I need more reminders as you have probably not spent the best part of your your youth subjecting your brain to gross amounts of violence and alcohol as I have. If so, perhaps this may help...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A dream

I remember a dream I had. Now, a premonition of another dream comes.

If you're there, look for a fat guy with a big red beard and a curly mustache and say the magic word "fatboybiking" and win a free drink.

Come and see the madness that I feel is coming...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Rugged Toughness

Yup, that's you, tough ruggedness. I see you in there on that rich leather throne with your toughness ruggedly showing. Standing above traffic like the rugged cowboy tough-guy that you are, drink holders and GPS at the ready. Ruggedly staring into the brunt of traffic, the scowl of Ram-Tough on your lips. I see you astride your massive $60,000 throne to tough that you have, whilst I, lowly little pussy fag biker guy passes you in the rain.

The ads say you're a tough rugged toughie with a Ford Tough truck, all manly with its DVD player and digital stereo and remote starter (cuz only tough guys sit in already-warmed rugged trucks) and in-seat heating. Little faggy pussy biker fags like me ride in the rain and the cold. Rugged Chevy men ride with their heaters and radio blasting like six-guns in the parking lot you call a road.

Wimpy puss fags like me only bike, but you're probably on your way to a tough work out -- maybe even a spinning class. You scowl at the temerity I have to actually befoul the tough traffic you ruggedly sit in, to actually pass you. You'd show me if only the light would change, you'd let me know just how ruggedly toughly rugged and manly you are.

Maybe next time, Marlboro Man.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Footwear question

It's been cool and rainy here and I have my clothing pretty much dialed in except for the footwear. Currently I'm using Merrill hiking shoes which are water-resistentish and wool socks. They soak through fairly quickly, but it's not a big deal with the socks, at least above 40F (4C). Now it's below that and my feet are getting cold.

What to y'all use to cover your feet in this weather?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hike a Bike

My normal route has been cut off by a fallen bridge, but not to worry, this one was brought down on purpose. By a badly worded sign and an invalid assumption on my part, I was forced to detour. There is a walkway over the highway that required me to push my bike up the steps and keep hold of it on the way down.

"No big deal." you say, "cross racers do it all the time."

With a fully loaded Big Dummy? I happened to be carrying breakfasts and lunches for the week and my bag in the back. Wrestling 70 plus pounds of ponderous [searches in vain for words to continue the alliteration], uh, bike isn't really the way I like to start my morning. Pushing it up is one thing, but the trip down was the tricky part. A bike this heavily laden tends to take even the smallest suggestion from gravity and run with it...

Anyway, put on yer woolens and ride (or push) yer damn bike -- this is the best time of the year to ride.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time flies...

...and so does the snow. It's already November here in Minnesota with the attending wet snow and damp cold.

Excuse me.

... What? ... It's not? ... Still October, huh? ... I haven't been temporally shifted to Greenland, right? ... Lighten up, I'm kidding. ... Yeah, yeah, whatever. Still October? ... Tell my tomatoes, pally. ... Okay.

I've been corrected. It's still October. I thought I missed Halloween. I mean sometimes I miss it, but I was there. I can't remember, but I can remember why I can't remember. I'll have to put the turkey back now.

Winter looks like it's gonna come early and probably leave late. Eat before you ride and wear your woolens, folks. I just hope there's snow. Winter is fine with snow, you can go out and play in snow. Frozen grass isn't much fun to snowshoe on, trust me and -20F (-29C) and no snow just feels wrong. This year I plan to fish out my Cross Country skis and start doing that again, so it damn well better snow.

Time for my hot cereal...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Well, it's cold and rainy...

...but it's windy. Bleah.

If you're still out in this, Costco has Merino wool sweaters for sale at $19.99. I've picked up a couple and they'll be my base layer (underwear for you normal folks) for the next 5-6 months. They also have wool socks that are just like Smartwool's for $10 for 4 pair.

Steel is real, but wool is realer...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autumn has arrived...

...on mighty winds from the Northwest. A wind like this will separate the true commuter from the rest. 30mph (48 kph) wind gusts and 50F (10C) temps should start clearing out the bike lanes Really Soon Now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A post where I squeal like a little girl

I got to shake Brian Eno's hand and he complemented me on my beard.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sticky

All in all, it has been a pretty cool and dry summer. I couldn't have ordered a better one, but the past couple of days have just been heavy -- thick, wet air is just awful to bike in.

Also, I can feel that I'm starting to grow gills...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Another reason to bike

I had a checkup last week and my weight was down, my cholesterol level was in the normal range (without drugs!) and my triglycerides were cut in half.

Eat your oatmeal and ride yer damn bike. Take this from a fat guy...

New blog

I've added a new blog to my links should anyone care. I plan to add recipes and more thoughts about cooking, food and drink to my latest vanity project. If you are in the biz (Lanny, hello!) or are a dedicated foodie and are interested in joining me, I'd love to have you post there with thoughts, reviews or recipes.

Comment if interested, thanks

[Added: Ray, you, of course, are welcome to join me. But, if any of your suggestions come from here, I'll have to ask you to leave. Don't argue, I have some serious Bouncer-Fu...]

Monday, August 31, 2009

Subversive...






...or so it feels.

Why does canning my own tomato sauce feel like an act of rebellion? Can I not just buy canned tomato sauce (or paste, or diced, or whole or whatever) more quickly and cheaply than spending hours cutting and peeling and standing over boiling water? Why in the world would I want to do this?

That's a good question...

Why do I fix my own bikes? Why do I cook my own meals? Make my own computers? Grow my own vegetables? Ride my bike in all weather?

Why do I want to live my life? Do for myself? Continue learning -- and by learning, I mean learning by doing and not learning by watching TV and "learning" about some subject. I want to do for myself. To fail as I did when I first started canning these tomatoes -- I forgot the lemon juice. I had to pour all the jars back into the cooking pot, add the lemon juice and start all over again after cleaning out the jars. Do I need the lemon juice? Intellectually, I think I don't, but I've never canned tomatoes before, so I follow the directions, pour out the canned tomatoes and start again. I don't know. Maybe next year I'll know, but right now I don't. I follow the directions, I learn the basics and subsume my ego, myself. I try to find Beginner's Mind.

I learn, I listen (or read) from those who know. I've never canned. I have ideas, but I've never canned and My Ideas Don't Count.

I learn. I fail. I succeed.

I have 7 quarts of tomato sauce. At what cost? I could have purchased tomato sauce for much less than the canning jars, tomatoes, lids, water, gas and pots needed. I would still be ignorant, I wouldn't have failed. I wouldn't have forgotten the lemon juice. I wouldn't have spent the time feeling the tomatoes, cutting the stems and bad bits away, smelling the scent as they collapse in the pan, sweated over the boiling tomatoes and jars. I wouldn't have forgotten the lemon juice. I would just have cans of tomatoes. An ingredient, nothing more.

I wouldn't have learned anything.

Now I know about lemon juice and hot jars and stirring and smells and sweat and I appreciate my sauce. It now has more meaning than just something that you pour over noodles. Something in which meatballs swim -- there's a lesson, some life's meaning.

Easy doesn't mean much, you don't learn, you never care, you don't remember.

Tomato sauce, jams and pickles and mustards. Living life with what is vibrant now and capturing it and the smells and sights while still vital and fresh.

Biking.

Not the safe, comfortable, easy way.

Living.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Processing

Me darlin' Mrs and I have been experimenting with canning as of the past couple of months and we've met with the usual combination of failure and success that comes with new ventures. For the past couple of years, we've gathered fresh things from the Farmer's Market and blanch, peel and freeze them for the year. We then added a vacuum bagger to seal things better in the freezer; typically we'll find a good deal on fresh fish in bulk and we'll separate it into single serving sizes for the freezer or bag up sauerkraut or Kim Chi.

Now we are expanding our preservation activities to include canning. We've met with success in canning pickles and beets and we've had mixed results with making jam. There are a large number of variables that can dictate the outcome of your preserves and getting them all under control is something that only comes with either being taught by someone who has done it for a while or, alternatively, through your own failures and introspection. As I am of the generation whose family didn't can (why? we have grocery stores...), we are learning from trial and error and from whatever books we can find on the subject.

Canning is a fairly specific form of cooking that doesn't lend itself to improvisation as the amounts of sugar, acid and (possibly) pectin are to be followed along with cooking times to ensure that you are able to meet with success. Even if you follow the recipe, you are not guaranteed that success as we've found out last night. We were in Door County, Wisconsin last weekend and we found an orchard that had pick-your-own cherries. Mrs and I easily picked two buckets that weighed in about twelve or thirteen pounds total. We immediately froze half of them upon returning home (quick aside -- freezing berries consists of putting them in a single layer in the freezer and then bagging them when frozen), while we waited to process the remaining fresh ones. We probably waited too long as one of the cardinal rules of canning is to use the absolute freshest fruit, possibly even a little under ripe. We now have jars of lovely sour cherry sauce instead of the jams we had hoped to give as holiday gifts.

As I say, we are learning the hard way.

But we have made jam from strawberries and the batch me darlin' Mrs. made was the best I've ever had. We duplicated the recipe from less ripe fruit and we ended up with a batch didn't set (turn into jam). Blueberries jammed well as did the raspberries.

But not all canning was jams, other experiments are different recipes for pickles. Mrs Yam likes the vinegary dill and I like the Kosher sours without vinegar. I've found a great book on fermenting that has a pickle I really like: Sandor Katz's cookbook entitled Wild Fermentation. I had first heard of this book last year at a demonstration of Sauerkraut preparation in Wisconsin. We have been making things from the book ever since.

As tomatoes are coming into season (as an aside, mine are finally ripening), we will be canning them into sauces and different preparations of plain ol' tomatoes: diced, chopped, whole, etc. I'll be making salsa and storing it as I've gotten kinda tired of paying 5 bucks for it and I can make better stuff anyway. I'll also be doing roasted peppers (both Poblanos and Sweet Red Bells) and various onion recipes like Chow Chow and Sweet Onion jam. Since the summer was so cool and that slowed the ripening of my tomatoes, I can expect that come late September there will be a lot of green tomatoes to turn into relish. Ah, well, no rest for the wicked...

We'll eventually be expanding our repertoire to include meat sauces and other low acid food preserving, but that will have to come when we feel confident enough to get a pressure canner. In the mean time, I will happily content my self by standing over large pots of boiling water and fruits during the August heat and humidity with my sweetie and dream of cooler days when this will a welcome reminder of summer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Little Pony

Road find:



I found it while bikin' to da bar Wednesday. Dumvee the pony is now safely secured to the stem as my mascot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A bee in my bonnet

I think I need to rethink this whole wearing a helmet thing. A stinging insect became caught in my bucket and did what stinging insects to best. Not really a recommended way to start your day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

After the Fall

Went mountain biking Friday with Man-Cub and my perfect record still stands: I've been knocked from my bike each time I've been out. This time we were at Salem Hills in Inver Grove Heights and I didn't make it 20 meters into the trail when I biffed it on a berm during a turn. Sent me straight on my back and knocked the wind out of me.

Not having the sense God gave gravel, I perched my aching posterior back on the bike and continued through without incident. This is a beautiful trail and the mix of woods and prairie are really pretty.

I just hope I can get good enough at this that I don't have to stare at the trail the whole damn time...

Two days after and the pain is greater than either of the two previous days, but this isn't unexpected -- it should be better from here on out. It's hard to sleep, stand or sit, but I still look forward to going out again. Perhaps the river bottoms are next.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One car anniversary

I was going to write an entry on the first anniversary of my venture into one-carredness over the coming weekend, but when I looked at the entry, I actually sold the car at the beginning of July, not the beginning of August as I had thought. Well, happy belated freedom to me...

What have I learned over the last year?

  • biking isn't the easiest way to get around - let's be honest
  • biking can be the fastest way to get around
  • I'm less fat when I bike regularly
  • motivation is still a problem (see Snak's post), especially in the winter
  • I've saved a bunch of money
  • I'm buoyed by a sense of self-righteousness (or, I could be less fat and in better shape)
  • a bus, or a bike/bus multimodal method of movement is a good way to get around in an urban area
  • I don't regret purchasing the Big Dummy one bit. An Xtracycle is really a useful option if you want to go carless or less-car.
  • a Big Dummy doesn't fit on a bus' bike rack

    The biggest gains have been in my overall conditioning, big surprise that, and the money we've saved with only one car. Mrs. Yam has been without steady employment for many months now, so the loss of the extra expense of a second car has been a welcome relief from the financial pressure on the Yam household. Licenses, fuel, insurance and general upkeep are, or were, an unnoticed though steady drain of cash and the loss of the second car gained us some badly needed breathing room. Between the bikes and the rechargeable bus card, there are few places I can't go if I haven't access to a car.

    Summer is here and this one has been quite a bit cooler than our normal summers and this is quite a relief to your humble narrator. I'm still a winter guy, but with days reaching into the mid 80's and nights pleasantly cool, I can live -- and bike -- with this. I just fear that the other shoe will drop and that shoe will be very cold indeed. I have a winter bike and I've been able to get the clothing mostly right, so our second winter with a single car will be possible.

    So, now into my second year of single cardom, what do I expect to see? Hopefully more of the same and perhaps even more time on the bike during the deepest, darkest days of winter. Motivation is difficult to attain when you're biking in the dark most of the time, temps that freeze the water out of the air or snow so thick that walking is faster, but wrapped in my blanket of self-righteousness and donning my cone of smugness, I hope to survive the winter.

    Don't consider this an exhortation to drop a car, but see this missive as an example that you can (possibly) get by better than you think and the benefits, though initially well hidden, are there. I'm not anti-car, I still have one after all, but cutting down is completely possible and you may even improve your life a little without the vehicle.
  • Friday, July 17, 2009

    Empty (in a good way)

    Part of my employment requires me to be On Call -- at the ready should something happen. I have to wear a pager and respond to whatever notifications I receive. That little pager is the heaviest four ounces anyone could ever carry. I swapped on-call shifts with a coworker the week prior to July 4th and that week was similar to the several previous on call weeks I've had (one weekend was destroyed by a non-stop 17 hour shift when one of our data center's power outages borked a sensitive network device) in that again, I was paged on a data center failure. These shifts tend to become a bit nerve-wracking but there was an added annoyance in that our group was short-handed besides.

    All whining aside, dropping of the pager on Friday, July 3 was one of the most glorious feelings of relief I've felt in years. My friends from Chicago were on their way to visit for the weekend and then there was the promise of a week off, all of it spent in Northern Minnesota. My friends arrived, we delved into the the sights and flavors of Saint Paul (they had never seen it), we drank good beer and wine, we cooked and laughed and argued and had a marvelous time.

    Seeing our friends off on Sunday with home made scones (I still can make 'em), we then packed the car and headed up to Cohasset for a short stay with my in-laws in a lake cabin. We played with nieces and nephews, we shared fine meals and cocktails, and generally enjoyed their company.

    But I was still anxious. I was still under my obligations to others. I wanted MY vacation to start.

    Tuesday, we finally made our escape. Mrs Yam and I headed north to hike, camp, do some 'cacheing and generally be away from phones and noise and, most of all, people. I am a people person -- sort of. I was a waiter and bartender, generally difficult employment for the terminally shy and reclusive, so I can handle crowds. But there are times when I need my quiet time. The goal was to hide from everyone at Franz Jevne State Park. It was as advertised, "secluded and peaceful."

    No one was there, save The Intern. The DNR hired a student to live in a trailer there to look after the park and to help with jobs in the area, so he was away most of the time. He was like a roommate that lived with his girlfriend, leaving the place to yourself. We camped in a spot that was next to the sault (where water flows over rocks, a rapids) and the only sound was that set of rapids and the birds. It was precisely what I had hoped it would be.

    We set up camp, fixed dinner and an exhausted Mrs. Yam curled up in the tent and dropped off in no time, leaving me with the fireflies, the river and the eternally setting sun. "Don't just do something, sit there!" was my mantra and I stared out at the water, I stared up at the sky, I followed the flies. I emptied my head and rinsed it in the rushing waters of the Rainy River. This is one evening will be one that will stay with me for a long, long time. I was At Peace.

    It's funny how you can feel tension leave, the way it slowly, almost imperceptively starts like the sands in an hourglass, only to finally rush away down the bottom, leaving nothing.

    I felt the quiet and peace soak into me. I had found A Happy Place.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    A marvelous weekend

    Me Darlin' Mrs and I spent the weekend camping in Beaver Creek Valley State Park. This is an absolutely gorgeous park in the very Southeastern corner of Minnesota. It is geologically different from most of the other parks as it was formed not by glaciers, but indirectly by their meltwater runoff. It is a valley about 100 feet below the surface of the surrounding rolling farmlands and the park's creek is fed by a spring that flows from the rocks that form the eastern side.

    There is a single road that runs the length of the valley and sit on either side along it. This is an advantage that you don't normally get in state park campgrounds; you aren't crowded together with neighbors mere meters from you in all directions. BCV campsites are spread apart and afford you some quiet and solitude, something I dearly needed after the previous nasty week at work. I don't need to go into the details, but when you receive and email stating "No service interruptions are expected," this doesn't necessarily mean good things will happen...

    As we have already hiked all the Hiking Club trails, we have now taken up the Geocache Challenge the parks are hosting. So we are on our second go around in visiting all the parks and we'll be looking for the little ammo boxes via GPS (thanks again, Matilda!) Our typical State Park venture consists of getting to a park, setting up camp and then hiking or geocaching before dinner, eat, sleep, get up and either break camp for another park or run off to nearby park or parks to participate in whatever activity we're currently up for and to scratch them off the list. A lot of driving around, no time spent looking into the parks, just a quick run through and collect the stamp, thank you.

    This weekend was different. We stayed put and just hung out, moved slow, took naps and walked around the beautiful scenery enjoying the fine summer weather. I took my technologically beaten soul and wrapped it in ash leaves and soaked it in the cool, clear spring water of the park. This is one of my favorite parks and it is highly recommended. I'm much better now, thank you.

    Just in time as I'm on call again this weekend and I just received another email that has the line "No service interruptions are expected."

    Oh Goody...

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    Today is a good day to die...

    ...burger.

    The best line from a totally fascinating post from a Thai restaurant owner.

    I've changed the way I eat, and I've lost weight because of it. The real change isn't from the reduction in calorie consumption, but from the way I look at what I eat. That Crapplebee's monstrosity doesn't look the least bit enticing -- to me it is as appetizing as three day old road kill on a plate.

    (h/t Norwegianity)

    Sunday, June 07, 2009

    Gah

    So a server died on reboot while patching and the Mrs. had the car. I biked in the misty rain (for which I and the garden are duly grateful) to the remote data center to fix flaky server. Not the way I wanted to spend my Saturday night, but I liked the bike ride since it burned off all the grumpiness before I got to the server room and I was able to calmly work on the machine and slowly ride back in the rain.

    I like biking in the rain at night. The streets are abandoned after 23:00 in Richfield so I can use as much of the road as I like. I just wish there was a decent place to get a beer around here after an emergency run like this. You know, something to take the chill off...

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    Murphy was mean to me...

    ...but I sorta deserved it.

    I took the new (old) mountain bike I bought from KM out to Murphy-Hanrehan's MTB trails with a co-worker of mine on Thursday evening. Now, I've never done single-track before, and my trail riding really consisted of fire roads and very little of that.

    All right, I'm really a freakin' newbie MTB'er, happy?

    Anyway, I went and hit the Beginner and Intermediate trails whilst following Jeff. I was lucky in that Jeff is experienced enough to know how to treat a rookie (but forgetting to bring his shoes with cleats helped a bit too). Riding a MTB on single-track is a quite a different experience after riding rigid commuters and straight, paved streets (no, duh!). The Boingy Factor is something that I needed to take into account when attempting to apply power to the bike while climbing, for example. A fat guy on a sprung bike loses power when he stands up to pedal and the front shock absorbs most of the energy, though of course standing up in a fully wooded single-track isn't such a great idea in the first place and your humble narrator figured that out in rather short order...

    I wanted to start this sport to improve my bicycle handling in general and I can see that I was correct in my assumption -- now I need to apply this in practice. Quick downhills to right angle turns to short, steep climbs while avoiding roots and rocks and the increasingly encroaching trees does make one pay close attention to what one is doing. I was able to follow through the first round without incident and that brought my demeanor from cautious and alert to straight up cocky. After completing the first lap of the Beginner/Intermediate, I was ready for a second go.

    Only emotionally -- mentally I was tired (patching this week has meant some late nights) and physically I was balancing on the onset of bonk as my lunch was long gone and the aforementioned lack of sleep, but I didn't notice. Endorphins and adrenaline is heady cocktail for the tyro, and I was set for another go. I wasn't so stupid to think that I could take on the advanced, but I wasn't afraid of what I knew (or thought I knew).

    The second time through was going well, but I was going faster and I was slipping through turns that I hadn't missed before. Cockiness and bonk is a toxic mix indeed and I knew that I should slow down, but I didn't care -- I was doing just freaking fine! Hell, I was ready to pass Jeff! We made to the halfway point where the Intermediate meets the Advanced and we stopped for a breather and I believed that I was doing better than Jeff in that I wasn't nearly as tired (cue ominous music). We started out again and I started noticing the pit in my stomach wasn't necessarily just excitement. Since we're only a mile and a half from the entrance, I didn't care and I would push through regardless.

    This is when thing got stupid (things, of course, meaning me). I pushed too hard on downslope and started losing it on a turn, panicked a bit on the recovery and then fogged on brake/shift move and clipped a tree with a handlebar, which gently sent me into the woods.

    Ow.

    I picked myself up and grabbed the bike, both being serviceable and continued on. My (over)confidence now rightly shattered, my bonk started to force me too far in the other direction and I became too cautious. I was more worried about the condition of my shifting when I missed a turn, overcompensated and then had another tree snagged the other handlebar, sending me sprawling once again.

    Ow.

    This time the rear brake was a bit wonky, but we were close enough to the finish to not be too concerned and I limped, figuratively and literally, to the parking lot and back to Jeff's truck where he I was gently schooled about bonking and trail riding. Lesson learned, my friend, as I have the scrapes (nothing horrible) to prove it and the endorphins from the ride to ignore any pain. Crikey, it's like other stupid things I've done (hockey and rugby), I can't wait to go again...

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    Wow



    Jet Cyclist Hits 73 MPH and Lives to Tell the Tale

    Motor madman Bob Maddox is back with a twin-engine jet bike that makes the raucous rocket he rode last year look tame.

    He recently bolted a dual-exhaust pulse jet engine to the side of an ordinary bicycle, donned a leather jacket and helmet and then held on tight as he peeled off a 73-mph run down a deserted back road. And we thought he was crazy when he hit 50 mph on one of his single-engine contraptions last year.

    “When you get up to 60 or so, you’re thinking ‘I really don’t want to know how fast it will go,’” he told Wired.com.


    I could strap the jets to the Dumvee...

    Please Look When Turning

    I just might be biking by...

    Jeeze Louise people, pay attention. Damn near bit it three times this morning.

    Monday, June 01, 2009

    Matilda's castoff

    Matilda contacted me about a trade after hearing of my little buddy's demise. She offered to trade a GPS that lie unused for a ride to pick up a bike. "That sounds fair," thinks I and then I look at what they are picking up and my curiosity gets the best of me. I'd never seen a recumbent tandem bike before and happily took up her offer.

    We meet at their house early Saturday morning and get to Calhoun Cycle to pick up their new baby. Wow, what a neat bike. Now what I know about 'bents you could put in the back seat of the thing and still have room for my prodigious posterior, but that's a funky set o'wheels. Matilda's sweetie is the captain and they roll the bike out the back for the test drive -- the rear brake is spongy. They notice that the housing is not in the braze-on in the back so the cable is re-run. Still, no go so the verdict is to stay until 11:00 when the mechanic comes in to do a tune-up.

    So we pass the time looking at the "weird" bikes; 'bents of all types and sizes, Big Dummys, Hammertrucks (a sorta hybrid 'bent with a Longtail) and folders from Dahon and Brompton. We oohed and aahed over the salesman's Pugsley. I even test rode a 'bent trike. Coffee was drunk and bike routes ridden and wished were discussed until the wrench had tuned the bike and they were ready to go.

    Matilda's sweetie had never ridden one and took his first wobbly pedal strokes to get the feel of the thing (pictures are on Matilda's site), then both were loaded on to get the feel and the grin on Matilda's face after the initial ride around the block had me seriously considering getting one of these fer the Mrs and me...

    I wished them luck and sped off on their way; I later received an email saying they made it and there were no scrapes and that they were still speaking. I'm sure that they were elated: the weather was perfect, the trails good and they've a new bike.

    What could be better?

    Thanks again, Matilda. Thank you for the GPS, the coffee and a chance to watch you two grinnin' fools and your new toy. I'm sure you'll smoke the Tour de Tonka now.

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Kevin's Kastoff

    becomes another addition to my stable...

    Kevin was selling a mountain bike at HCHQ for a reasonable amount. Since I don't have one and have wanted to start trail riding, I thought that this could be a nice way to enter into the sport. I was also a good boy and donated a bunch of bikes and frames to Mr. Michael in an attempt to clear up the veloclutter that had become unmanageable. The combination of clearing of the clutter, the low price and my incessant whining convinced the ever-loving, patient and beautiful Mrs. Yam to allow me to purchase the bike.

    Of course now I need a new helmet, shoes, cleats, pedals, wardrobe, SUV, plane tickets to Moab, etc...

    Maybe I'll just pop down to SD and visit Snakebite's project when that comes to fruition instead.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Disaster averted

    And by disaster, I mean my camping trip being called off.

    Me darlin' Mrs. made with the phone earlier last week and found someone to work for her on Saturday night thus freeing up our weekend. A free weekend consists of grabbing dog, gear and growlers and going away to sleep in the Great Outdoors somewhere. This time somewhere was up on the North Shore -- the northest of the North Shore, the last three parks before you run out of America and are hip deep in the Great White North.

    We packed the car Friday and started out early Saturday morning, rolling away with the promise of a beautiful weekend. Of course, most of the Twin Cities was doing as we were and 35 North was pretty busy. Seeing the rush of humanity as we sped north, it was decided to stop in Rush City to gas up and avoid the stupidity and traffic of Hinckley. Pull over, gas up and a "Hey, Hon. How about you pull over to the hose and I'll top off the tires." 35 pounds, need a little. 22 pounds, stupid alloy rims, can't hold air. 40 pounds, 4 lug nuts, good to see it holding air...

    4 LUG NUTS! Oh, crap. One of the studs was stripped and the nut was missing.

    "We're goin' back," I announce with a sick stomach. My trip was ruined. That's all I needed, the thought of watching the rear wheel bouncing into the ditch was enough to make me spit nails, but canceling my camping trip was the thing that really soured me. I don't know how long it had been missing as I don't drive, but I have checked the air in last couple of weeks, so it may have been fairly recent. Nonetheless, a full car and a wobbly wheel doesn't make for a Happy Driving.

    I console myself and Mrs. Yam with thoughts of BBQ's and bike trips. I tell her I'm glad I saw this before she had an accident on the way to work. I'm attempting to call White Bear Subaru to see if they can get us in today (yeah, good luck with that) and save the weekend. I'm fussing and fuming in the passenger seat when me Mrs. says, "I wonder if they're open?" pointing at a joint called TNT Repair that has the doors open and a guy in the bay working on something. We pull in and we describe what's happened and he squats down and says, "Yup, I can fix that." The Mrs has a cooler head and better eye than I do when I get steamed up...

    An hour and $95 dollars later, we're back on the road and we're as giggly as school girls with elation. We make it to Duluth and Fitger's to replenish supplies (Witchtree and the Berry/Cherry Pale Ale, both excellent) and out up 61 to a State Park that would have us, which turned out to be Cascade River near Grand Marais (the lack of spot was not surprising, it being a holiday weekend and all). We managed to get one of the last spots and it was across the path from some guy who ran his generator all evening. I guess "getting away from it all" means "watching TV somewhere else." We started a fire, cooked up dinner and watched the sky darken and the stars come out all to the tune of sputtering Honda. Luckily, at 9:30 his show ended and they went to bed and the sounds changed to a giggly group of guitarists and the birds.

    Sunday was visiting the two northerly parks (Judge C. R. Magney and Grand Portgage and a stop at the Grand Portgage National Monument. If you've been there, but not recently, you'll probably be as surprised as we were to see the new Visitor's Center. It's really gorgeous. Hikes, but nothing strenuous as we have an aging dog and my knees are still healing from gardening on my week off (more later).

    Stopped at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais for some lunch and something to wash the dust from our mouths when we ran into the owners, Jeff and Susan. We're regulars, or, at least, as regular as someone who lives 250 miles away can be and we've chatted with them whenever we're up there. They'll come down to the Cities for shows and when they come to The Cedar, Mrs Yam will comp them tickets and a couple of beers. They're good folks. They were just stopping by when we were there and they invited us to their place for some wine on the deck. I'm glad our paths crossed as they have a lovely place and they are marvelous company on a beautiful evening.

    We went back, barely making the 10:00 PM campground time limit and decided that a campfire was more effort that we were able to dredge up and we just went to bed. Leaving Monday morning is always sad, but we found that if we drive sensibly (take our time) and avoid freeways, the good feelings from a weekend away stay with you much longer. It's funny how driving back down 35 can sap your vital essence, so we took highway 23 from Duluth to 61 and stayed away from the madness. Really recommended.

    All in all, this was one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend and we had a loverly one to boot. We also purchased another of the State Park Passport club packets, so we're off to see all the parks again. This time, as we've already done the Hiking Club, we're going to to the Geocaching they have in all the parks now. Unfortunately, my trusty Garmin seems to have given up the ghost after going from coast to coast and across Canada. Six years and thousands of miles it has been my companion; on my hip while hiking, on my bike or in the car, it has never failed me. But the years and the falls, water and getting stepped on have all taken their toll and my little buddy isn't feeling well. So, no geocaching at the parks until I replace it -- and other purchases await (e.g., gutters, windows, etc.)

    That's okay, I'll come back. I always do.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    About time

    Read the good news:
    The Obama administration today plans to propose tough standards for tailpipe emissions from new automobiles, establishing the first nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases.

    It will also raise fuel efficiency targets to 35.5 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles and light trucks by 2016, four years earlier than required under the 2007 energy bill, sources close to the administration said.

    The measures are significant steps forward for the administration's energy agenda by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change and by easing U.S. dependence on oil, most of which is imported.


    As Jim notes, "Oil will only be cheap when we can't afford it." This will go a long way in helping the country prepare for when the economy becomes upright and oil starts its inevitable upward spiral. Perhaps, just perhaps, we'll be a bit more ready.

    I find it interesting that the auto companies have given up the fight against the fleet-wide standards; I guess that coming to D.C. with cap in hand and a change in management was just the thing needed to break the logjam.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Another post vaguely related to my tagline...

    A sad story

    Buffalo boy struck, killed by vehicle passing cars on shoulder
    Associated Press
    Updated: 05/12/2009 08:47:18 AM CDT

    A 3-year-old boy is dead after authorities say he was struck by a vehicle passing cars on the right shoulder in north-central Minnesota.


    A little boy is dead because someone just couldn't wait for them to cross the road. If the driver is found guilty, I hope that there's some substantial jail time.

    Friday, May 08, 2009

    No Bike to Work Week for me

    I'm off from work next week and I'll be gardening. But y'all don't need me -- get on yer damn bike and ride.

    And not just fer a week, neither...

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    A post vaguely related to my tagline...

    Speed kills:

    We don't know the details yet. But I imagine Doug Georgianni as another struggling, underpaid guy trying to find that illusive Arizona dream. Now he's dead, a young 51. Three months ago he took a job servicing the speed cameras on Phoenix freeways. Sunday night, while parked on the Loop 101 near 7th Ave. in a marked Department of Public Safety photo enforcement van, Georgianni was shot multiple times. The suspect, since arrested, is a white male (of course) driving a Chevy Suburban (of course).

    I never completely understood the loud controversy over speed and red-light cameras. Metro Phoenix has a horrendous problem of major traffic violators, fatal and often spectacular wrecks and pedestrian killings, many hit-and-runs. Meanwhile, the religion of tax cuts and Arizona's unwillingness to fund its public sector to keep up with population growth mean there aren't enough traffic officers. The problem is made worse, of course, by sprawl, huge freeways and eight-lane "city streets," plus a population driving giant vehicles they can't really control on streets with increasing numbers of pedestrians. Even the former Catholic bishop came to grief this way, and in his character-revealing response of driving away from the victim like so many other 'Zonies had done.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Scones

    I continued my foray into baking by stepping into the world of scones yesterday. Scones are nothing more than really rich biscuits with the addition of eggs and cream to the dough. It makes the dough harder to handle because it's sticky and I didn't want to get them too "floury" by covering everything with flour as I did with the biscuits.

    I added a cup of frozen blueberries to the dough (2c flour, 5 tbsp butter, 4 tsp baking powder, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp sugar, 3/4 cup half and half, 1 tsp salt) after cutting the butter into the flour. This added to the tackiness of the dough since nothing was warm, but I managed to get the thing out of the bowl and onto the counter. Kneading the dough was difficult and I eventually got it somewhat dome-shaped. I then cut six wedges and got them (not without a struggle, mind you) onto a baking sheet and into a hot (450°F) oven. They were initially baked for 8 minutes, but they weren't quite done in the center, I suspect due to the frozen blueberries releasing their moisture, so I put them back in for another 3-4 minutes.

    Surprisingly ugly, but really, really tasty. Me darlin' Mrs. was quite enthused with the results and later in the day, had all manner of other additions for future scones that I needed to bake for her. All in due time, sweetie...

    We finished them off today -- they keep well. They weren't warm, but they were just as moist as when I pulled them from the oven yesterday. I'll make these again, but with all of the high-fat items, maybe not too often. I do understand why scones are priced why they are now, though. With practice, I'm sure I'll become more adept at handling the dough, but they really can be labor intensive.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Bliss

    After a winter of studs, salt, rime and the general test that is winter commuting, the past three rides are utter and complete bliss. The Red Menace is still down for the count as the rusty chain overshadowed the other ailments hidden in the oxide-ridden drivetrain, e.g., the broken bearings. The DumVee's chain is a corroded mess even after what I though was careful maintenance; clean thoroughly and lube it up before storing it in the garage for the winter. But, alas, I must have missed something, so no Dumvee yet. So, after catching a ride from me darlin' Mrs for a couple of weeks, I decided that since the roads are now clear, I'll dust off the Bleriot and take that to work.

    Oh wow.

    From cranking on creaky bearings and a semi-solid chain with studs of the winter beater to the smooth as Macallan 25 of the Bleriot is a shock to say the least. The weather is wonderfully mild (even though I like winter a lot) and a welcome change from the long bitter season that is rapidly waning. 45 and sunny? Yeah, I could get used to that...

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Success!

    I finally made a bread and didn't mess it up.

    Lemme back up. I used to cook for a living, back in another life. Cook, not bake. The pastry chefs I worked with were, in my eyes anyway, gods. I would finish my prep work and watch them mix or proof or make loaves or whatever with utter envy as I could not bake. Hell, I'd screw up pancake better 'bout half the time. So, flour and I agreed on a truce where I would be allowed to make gravy and pancake batter, but nothing else. It was as if I had some substance on my skin that reacted with flour to make failure.

    I even messed up the no knead recipe that Jim posted. Twice. Both attempts came out more like barely leavened hard tack.

    I can't bake. I take it personally because I like to consider myself capable in the kitchen; I know techniques and recipes by heart and I can pretty much make anything. Except bread and that hurts. I'm incomplete and I want to scratch that last itch -- breads, pie crusts and quick breads.

    I've decided that I will bake a loaf of bread consistently, create a pie crust from scratch (hell, I even rendered my own lard) and make biscuits. This isn't only not impossible, but it happens every day. I can do this.

    Today, I decided that I would try to make biscuits for breakfast. Using the information from this article which strips away the mythology, the folklore and gives a straight up account of what biscuits need. An engineer's view, sorta. I understand (mostly) the chemistry and what is happening when food is prepared (if you want to know more, Harold McGee's book is a great read.) Avoiding the "my Gramma does it this-a-way" articles and getting to the basics was just what I needed. I followed the ideas presented and with flip and a flash -- I had a dough I could actually handle. The only variations were that I didn't bother to cut them out with a glass or a cutter, I just made six square buscuits and that I put flour on everything; my hands, the counter, the rolling pin, the dog, etc.

    That may have been the trick.

    I used lard, so the Mrs. wasn't too keen on them (she really dislikes all manner of pork), but I'm going to try again tonight with butter to see the difference. I'm just thrilled that I finally got it right. I've purchased the Tassajara Bread Book and I'll work on his recipe until I get that right, too. I'm heartened enough now to be disappointed again later.

    Update

    The biscuits also worked with butter. I made sure to use cold butter and I put the shortened flour mixture back in the fridge for ten minutes before handling the dough. With bicuits down, here come the scones! WooHoo!

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

    Cranky Red Menace

    The Red Menace has been up on blocks as of late. It's my winter beater, and I beat it like a rented mule this winter. Got up to go to work last week and found that I needed to do some maintenance on the poor critter -- the chain had pretty much rusted solid.

    D'oh!

    I finally got around to stopping by HCHQ and getting another chain (and some Wide Loaders for the DumVee), then sat around until I thought that the chain was just that special level of unserviceablility that I needed to reach. Using some WD-40 and a lot of torque to convince a pin to come out, I managed to separate the chain. The links popped apart with a groan and...

    ... the chain didn't move. Suspended by its inability to move, it just hung there bound up by the rust. I literally had to force the chain to move before it would leave the bike. I need to time my maintenance cycles a little better, it seems.

    After replacing the chain, I gave the pedals a turn to see how she runs now, and she runs like a three-legged dog. Seems that the rusty chain covered up for other, lurking maladies; a sticky pedal and, worse yet, the bottom bracket feels like there's a broken bearing in it and it sticks about three quarters of a turn whilst pedaling. I hope I can scrounge up a part for it (I think it's using a cartridge) from another bike as I don't want to put any money into this critter. But after all the abuse I've given it, I suppose a nice new bottom bracket wouldn't be out of the question, after all.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Blogspot eated my posts

    Let's see if anyone notices...

    ...and they're back.

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Weird Dream

    Last night I dreamt that I was in a big room with swirling lights and there were tall dancers, a stumbling ballerina and Dutch girls with plastic hair were dancing with fish bowls. A 50's housewife with a Hula Hoop took off her clothes and gorilla was walking around and someone was singing opera. During all of this, there was this crazy fast "ooonka-ooonka-ooonka" music played by a big band and every member was wearing a strange hat...

    Wait, that wasn't a dream at all. That was last night's show at the Cedar Cultural Center with The Brass Messengers.

    I walzed with a woman on stilts. I can check that one off the list of things to do before I die...

    Friday, February 06, 2009

    Scribbler's Circle entry #2

    ghettoisation of riders:

    for the mtb'ers trail centres, the perfect answer to all weather all year riding or the macdonalds of off roading?

    for our road/commuters:

    dedicated bike lanes protecting you from cagers or traeting cyclist as 2nd class road users?


    I'm not a MTB'er (though I hope to pick it up this summer -- just gotta get a bike [that should thrill the Mrs.]), so I can't speak to the bit about trail centres. But I have all sorts of thoughts about about bike lanes, yes I indeedely-do. Most of them bad...

    I commute year round (mostly) by bike and there are millions of miles of bike paths, you just call them something different in your tongue: city streets. I'm pretty happy to take the street a block or two off of the main street -- less traffic, less hatred and you usually stumble upon something you'd never seen before. These benefits aside, trails are nice if you are converting old rail beds to make areas more accessible (like the Munger Trail here in Minnesota), but shunting me off to the side is something up with which I will not put!

    Cagers need to see bikers on the road. Bikers need to see bikers on the road. Potential bikers really need to see bikers on the road. The idea the cars are the only things allowed on the streets is something that has to be put to a quick death and as politely and painlessly as possible. Drivers will have to become aware that they are not the sole users of this infrastructure, planners will need to become more aware of this also. But allow me stress what I believe most strongly; bicyclists need to understand this more than anyone.

    Allowing ourselves to be shuffled to paths that lead nowhere, travel in unnecessarily meandering directions and separated from the traffic at large seem to me to enforce the idea that a bicycle is not a mode of transportation, not a useful member of the infrastructure, but a toy, a weekend conveyance to be used only on the nicest of days and to get a fresh air and some exercise when you have a little time to kill. This thinking is wrong and if this idea is to be put down, integrating traffic must be done.

    Obviously, drivers need to be aware of bikers, but bikers need to become more aware of cars and to get your "combat riding" skills sharpened -- taking the lane, following the traffic direction (lights, signs, etc.) when with other vehicles, crossing the street when it's your turn and so on. If you are shuffled off to some crumbling strip of ancient asphalt and expected to be out of sight, you will also be out of mind and that is the opposite of safety.

    I'm not against safe areas at intersections, areas the alert drivers to the presence of bikers and give bikers some shelter from the dreaded "right hook," but I do not believe that a stand-alone strip of tar away from driver and intersections helps anyone. A driver at an intersection is busy enough trying to just keep all vehicles in all directions at that specific crossing in view and another intersection, typically poorly marked is just 5 meters away where bikers are supposed to be. After making a turn, drivers are just not going to continue to keep looking in the direction they with to turn in order to see yet another intersection.

    I believe that the comingling of various types of traffic is good -- it keeps people (generally) paying more attention, moving more slowly and carefully and it helps make everyone more honest about following traffic direction from lights, signs and road paint. There is no room nor money to create another completely separate infrastructure for bikes, another for walkers and possibly a third for trains/trolleys in most cities. Mutual respect and acknowledgement is the only way that we can safely travel together on streets in an urban environment.

    This is not to say that I don't believe that there shouldn't be trails, no, far from that. I would love to see an eventual linking of old rail beds into a bike trail system that crosses the country, a way that bikers can travel from coast to coast, Canada to Mexico. But this is different from regular road traffic as is pretty obvious.

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Scribbler's Circle entry #1

    Solo rides - roll out with your buddies or destroy those miles alone....

    [Big Al, aka Fatlad, has collected a scruffy group of cyclist/bloggers that will post something about a topic he alone dreamed up for that week. The following is my poo flung onto blogspot.com's wall.]

    As a commuter, I typically ride alone unless I'm lucky enough to find someone going the same direction or I may ride home with a co-worker, but generally solo rides during the day. I'll head out the Mrs. for errands or a ride after work, but the majority of time on my bike is spent alone. I'm not really keen on riding alone and I don't look to ride that way on purpose, but that is usually how it goes.

    Riding alone does have its benefits: time to uncompress or wake up or contemplate or empty your mind and just be. On my rides to work, I just want to slap the fuzzies out of my head and have some blood moving by the time I really need my brain. From work, I just need to digest the day or not think about it or get away. Times when conversation, listening or talking, is too taxing and uncomfortable. Time inside your own head is time well spent and those that are unable to be there comfortably don't make for very good bikers.

    Riding with someone else makes the miles pass much more pleasantly. You can push and be pushed, if that's the sort of group you're with. You can lazily spin and chat or just enjoy the company and enjoy shared moments and views. Me Darlin' Mrs and I rode a long trip last year and that was exactly how we spent it. Touring by bike is one of the finest pleasures I've known and I like to have someone there to share the scenery, a laugh, a beer or the sheer joy of quiet interrupted only by the whir of the chain and your tires on the road.

    Fat Lad perhaps posed this as an OR type of question, but I like to think of it as more of an AND. Biking is best done alone AND with others.

    Biking is best done.

    Biaku

    Rusty chain still spins

    Ground down studs grip icy streets

    Winter biking joy

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Goodbye, Melon Man

    A tear-streaked Mrs. Yam woke me last night to tell me, "Tim the melon guy died!" You see, Tim was a marvelously generous man, a consummate salesman, a caring farmer and a really decent guy. We learned much from him about gardening over the years and we've been absolutely spoiled by his melons.

    These were not the hard, tasteless balls of water you get at a grocery store, but a collection of melons from around the world; varying in color, shape, texture, smell and taste in ways unimaginable before we crossed paths. Each variety so vastly different from the other that they almost seemed to be completely different fruits. A fruit so enticing and refreshing that it was nearly the only thing that keeps the Darlin' Mrs and me going throughout August's sweltering days.

    We've purchased tomato and pepper plants and were thoroughly lectured on how to plant them and when to trim the leaves. His business in Belle Plaine seemed really busy on the days we'd load up the car with flats of everything from cuckes to "3 Pot" peppers. Running around those busy weekends, he still always had time to stuff a couple of new peppers onto our cart and, with a wink, say how much we'll love these.

    The Farmers' Market won't be the same without you, Melon Man. My love and sympathy to Lori and kids. I hope you can keep it together...

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Neat!



    Kent could change his to an odometer, Scott could have a pounds lost and George's could be a "number of doughnuts made."

    More info here

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Kimchi

    Me darlin' Mrs and I have been trying our hands at preserving food by canning, freezing and vacuum packaging for last couple of months. We've made pickles from beets and carrots (both successes and perhaps the Mrs will post the recipes) and we've preserved cruciferae by making sauerkraut and kimchi. Both are bog simple and something that you really want to be eating now that we're in the cold and flu season because they're bursting with all manner of nutritional goodness (lactobacteria and vitamin C for starters).

    Kimchi is nice because you can mix up a bowl of it and then let it set for just a day or two before the, uh, aroma completely takes over the house. The ingredients are easily obtained and the preparation isn't complicated or lengthy. You can also make this as authentic as you want by trying to obtain the ingredients, but I would just start with the simple stuff.

    Remember, kimchi is the food of the everyman, so don't get fussy and don't expect a specific recipe. You're basically adding salt and flavorings to cabbage and letting it sit for a couple of days, so don't stress out about not having the right stuff. You only really need chinese cabbage (bok choy or pak choy), salt, garlic, ginger and chili powder or paste. You can add daikon radish, carrots, fish sauce and green onions if you need more authenticity.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 kg head cabbage
    • 3 tbsp kosher salt
    • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
    • Korean chili powder or chili paste to taste (2 tbsp or more for a big cabbage)

    Quarter and core the cabbage and then chop into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide pieces. Put the cabbage in a large container and sprinkle with half of the salt. Toss the cabbage with your hands for about two minutes, working the salt into the leaves. Add the rest of the salt and repeat. Let stand about an hour. You should have a bowl of slightly withered cabbage with liquid on bottom. If you want a more juicy kimchi leave it, otherwise pour out most of it. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine and cover the container with plastic wrap. Leave the container in a cool place for 1-4 days (depending on how, uh, pungent you like your kimchee). Put in sterilized containers and keep in the fridge indefinitely.

    You can add some of the optional ingredients from above (1+ cup shredded carrot, 1+ cup shredded daikon radish, sugar (to taste),fish sauce (to taste - start with 2 tsp) and even dried shrimp if you want) for a more authentic flavor. I have to say, considering the price and the ease of creation, I'll probably never buy kimchi again.

    The kimchi will become more lively with age, so if it gets a bit much for an appetizer, consider making kimchi jigae or kimchi stew.

    That is, if your sensitive Minnesotan sensibilities can handle it...

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Dear Mr. Soucheray

    [I did not link to the article that I am rebutting as I do not wish to give him any more traffic. It seems that a favorite trick of "journalists" is to write some screed against bicyclists and let the "Yeah, I hate 'em too" crowd spew the same arguments that were just written and send we bikers into a frenzy. You can find it easily enough if you need to read it.]

    I won't even pretend that what I say will reach you, you a man that measures manliness by the number of cylinders you own, whose own radio show is called "Garage Logic." Your column is yet another small-minded attack on those who ride their bikes in the winter, complete with the tight pants and jersey insult that seems to be mandatory in columns such as yours. A column that purports to compare our "work ethic" with "rural mail carriers, cowboys and Alaskan fishermen in small boats" and then goes on to call us morons, struggling to "try to keep the machine upright in the worst of all possible conditions." He then passes on a conversation with another news personality about how Reusse would run over a biker if they fell down in front of him and "squash them like a bug."

    Mr. Soucheray, your and Reusse's thinking isn't out of the norm, it's something I deal with. You see, I'm one of those "morons" in a "snowmobile suit" riding in "all possible conditions." I hear the hatred you and your fellow motorists have for us expressed often, hatred that seems based on nothing more than brightly colored jerseys and the fact that we are on the roads "in all possible conditions." Why do you hate bicyclists? You claim that you've made peace with two-wheelers, but I doubt that. Your column betrays your prejudice by its very tone and fact that your "peace" still allows you call names.

    Why the hatred? Do you believe that you as a motorist have the right to smooth and happy motoring without the unpleasantness of delay. It seems that you and others believe that once in your car, you should have a clear path to your destination and anything that deters that causes you and yours to become peevish and angry. Is your anger more than just with bicyclists and the fact that ANYTHING that stops your forward progress (e.g., bikes, pedestrians, construction, even other drivers) should be taken from in front of you?

    Why the hatred? Because you are stopped from using roads by bicyclists whose numbers are diminished? We've gone from innumerable hordes to just enough to keep you from the streets? Or is it because you've been inconvenienced by someone on a bike, someone who has the temerity to actually use the same road as you, AT THE SAME TIME! Someone who has made you drive slowly when you should have the freedom to go anywhere, at any time, at any speed that you wish. To have unimpeded access to every road. They DARE to be in front of you? They're slow and THEY'RE IN FRONT OF YOU! This is the crime?

    A crime punishable by death, it appears.

    You and Reusse think that you can be judge, jury and executioner because someone rode their bike slowly in front of you. Your only duty is notify the garbageman to come and get the body. Is that it?

    Mr Soucheray, people already act like you -- the only difference is that they are slightly more cowardly in that they just leave dead or maimed bicyclists by the side of the road and drive off without the benefit of a phone call to the clean-up detail. You see, bicyclists have been killed by motorists quite often as of late, and they didn't even fall off in front of the car. Four bicyclists were killed this past summer, by drivers as inconvenienced as you and Reusse.

    Again I ask, why the hatred? Is it really because someone is on your road and they're not going fast enough? Are you in that much of a hurry or do you just feel that you're entitled to clear roads all of the time? Are bikes some toy that should be discarded when one gets a driver's license? Or is it like the preacher or Senator that rails for anti-gay legislation because they hate what they are deep down? Do you want to ride your bike?

    I don't understand you, either. I don't judge my toughness by how much gasoline I use. I don't think that nature is better from the back of some noisy, stinking petrol-powered monstrosity. I can get around on my own, without the help of climate-controlled comfort. My organs work well enough to get me where I want without assistance and I am able to stand biking not only in worst of all possible conditions, but when it's nice too. Do you see us out there and wish you could do that?

    You can, you know.

    You sadden me. I expect someone with your bully pulpit to be more thoughtful, but then again, I don't measure my manliness by my cylinder count (4 - one car) or the size of my garage. I wonder how many bicyclists have kept you off the roads or if it is really just a notion that you've been sold, the notion of Happy Motoring. There is no such thing and it's not because of the bicyclists.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Arts & Crafts time...

    The most expensive implement of my winter riding apparel is my pair of Mukluks. For those who are not of Northern Minnesota/North America, Mukluks are insulated high-top moccasins originated by our aboriginal folks. Mine are a pair of moose hide with wool felt liners made by Mrs (ex) Steeger from Ely, Minnesota. These are windproof, waterproof (when treated) and really, really warm.

    I've had mine for about a decade and I've replaced the sole of them once already a couple of years ago. This year, I've noticed that they aren't as insulating from the ground as they had been, so it's time to re-sole them. Since recycling is the new Black, I'm taking some old wool sweaters and felting them to be re-used as insulation for other things. One of those things is this...

    Felting wool consists of disregarding the instructions on the tag and cooking wool things in hot water and drying them in hot air. Sure, you can't wear the sweater anymore, but now the dwarf-wrap is a tightly bound thick piece of material to be used in our arts and crafts project. Washing a non-washable 100% wool sweater in hot water and drying it at high heat will shrink the daylights out of it and give you something unwearable, but something infinitely craftable. Me darlin' Mrs shrunk down a coupla old sweaters that were full of holes and my first project is to re-sole my mukluks.

    Take a piece of felted wool, and measure your insert by tracing around it with a sharp knife. Finish the cuts with a pair of scissors and stuff that piece into your old boots, voilà, new soles. Wasn't that easy kids? If you learn to sew, you can make whole new inserts for your snowmobile boots or mukluks from old sweaters.

    I'm learning to sew again. No, it's not girly, it's constructing things, you dink. Deal with it.

    Soon, (when I learn how) I'll teach you how to make a great winter cycling hat from old sweaters. But we'll have to learn how to sew, won't we? Things that need insulation when biking are best insulated with wool, right? Why not take cheap wool and make new fabric from it and make fabulous things with it, yes?

    Yes.

    Empty tank again.

    I'm back to riding to work full time. I've decided that waiting for this cold to go away is pointless and I'll freeze the li'l bugger into submission since being nice hasn't worked.

    It was 9°F (-12°C) and a slightly magical dusting of snow was falling as I left home. The color of the blue-gray sky combined with the twinkling snow and the muffling effect snowfall has made the environment that much pleasant to bike. For those who hang the wheels when the leaves begin to change, you are missing the best time of year to ride. The colors, the temperature, the sounds are something you don't see, feel or hear any other time. It even tastes differently -- the road salts used leave a wicked metallic taste in my mouth. The cold leaves me streaming liquids and suffering from hot and cold at the same time.

    It's all part of riding.

    The one problem I have is that when I get up in the morning, I'm not hungry so I don't eat breakfast until I get to work. This lack of fuel nails me about three-quarters of the way into work when my tank goes below E, as it were. I really have to push it to finish and when I arrive at the office, I'm not hungry for a half hour or so. Funny that. I try to eat, but I'm not interested. I know I'll pay for it on the way in to work, but I just can't do it. I don't have ready what would spark my appetite: a hot, savory breakfast (e.g., a bagel with egg and cheese or black pudding and eggs or eggs on a biscuit). Cold oatmeal or fruit isn't something that warms the body and soul before heading out into the hoary streets of Richfield, it seems.

    Perhaps I could modify my morning routine and add a cup of tea with milk and sugar, but that assumes co-operation with the animals and I don't think that's going to happen without a lot of barking, hissing and complaining from all parties. We'll see how it goes.

    Anyway, git on yer damn bike and ride. Wool is good and is your friend.