Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drawing a Bead

Actually, more like pushing one.
Well, you can push or you can pull, either way I guess it's still drawing a bead.
Today, we got into some oxy-acetalyne stuff.
The students have already learned to used the cutting torch, instead of dicing something up, now they have to learn to put stuff together again.
I don't have much experience on the oxy-acetalyne torch.
Well, actually I learned how to cut sort of okay.
I mean you can't just light her up and go, you sort of have to look at the gauge of steel and adjust your heat or you produce way too much slag.
Slag being the melted stuff, you don't want to create too much to make a clean cut.
Anyways, today we switched off and put on a welding tip.
This is the hard part.
Making a pool and making a nice bead.
You've seen what a nice bead looks like, it's that welding mark on your bicycles that join all the tubes together.
Well, unless your frame is like brazed or lugged.
Or if your frame is made out of carbon goodness.
The oxy-acetalyne torch is used for the brazing part, not so much the welding.
Most aluminum or steel bikes are TIG welded, which stands for tungsten inert gas.
More on that later.
The welding I did was mostly MIG, which is metal inert gas, which is so easy even a caveman could do it.
Anyways, back to gas welding:

Here's the instructor pushing a bead using some filler rod.
You don't really need the filler to weld two pieces of steel together, but it helps to fill in the weld and you can dress it later.
This is sort of what brazing looks like, except brazing is not as hot and brass or silver is used as a solder.
One of the students trying not burn the building down:

I gotta say, oxy-acetalyne welding sort of scares me cause the acetalyne is like super volatile.
So volatile in fact that there was some talk of phasing it out and using an acetalyne mix, but I think folks complained that the mix wasn't hot enough.
Oxy-acetalyne burns together at about 5,500 degrees, so it's pretty darn hot.
The thing about gas welding is that if you can master it, using the torch and filler rod, you shouldn't have any problems moving over to the TIG machine, which is a GAGALLION volts of power sent through a pencil lead to weld the metal.
I'll try to get more images once the kids start to actually make something.
Anyways, I really wanted to show these off:

That's right fabrication fans!
A mill and a lathe!
Oh Boy!
When I first got into the shop, I drew a bead straight to them machines.
Visions of aluminum billet and curly strings of cut metal went dancing in my head along with dreams of little sprinkles of shiny dust falling to the ground.
I already looked up a Columbus tubing set and need to look for some drop outs, head tube and bottom bracket.
I can mitre the tubes on the mill and put the whole thing together with the TIG.
Unfortunately, none of the present instructors knows how to use them.
The mill and the lathe I mean.
I sense some kind of Flat Tire intervention here.
Overall, I'm really impressed with the shop.
In many ways, it's equipped better than the shop we had at university type school; they got more welding machines and they are in nicer condition.
I gotta hit up the Man Store and get me some steel stock so that I can try some of the stuff out!
Some aluminium billet would be nice too.
I just need to learn to draw a bead.

Monday, August 29, 2011


That's the sound I usually make when I'm thinking of something.
Okay, not really.
That's the letters I usually think of when I'm thinking of something.
I don't really make a sound when I'm thinking.
Well, not unless you count the sound of potato chips being consumed.
Before, thinking would be accompanied by a slurping sound and a lot of burping and aluminum being crushed in addition to potato chips being consumed, but that was in another life.
There's two C words!
Can and chips.
This post is about neither.
It's about the elements.
Or one element to be exact, one of the most common elements around and one that's a building block of life as we know it.
No, it's not hydrogen.
That begins with the letter H.
It's carbon silly.
A common building block of bicycles as we know it.
Oh yes, the carbon goodness.
Can't live with it, can't live without it.
Oh wait.
That's something totally different.
Anyways, I've been thinking, in a Hmmmm sort of way, about carbon bicycles.
Seems like everybody's got one, why can't we?
Have a carbon bike I mean.
The first time I ever heard of carbon fibre as a structural component, or as the French pronounce it, carbone feebray, was back when I used to subscribe to Autoweek and followed F1 racing.
Oh the days of the thousand horsepower turbo rocket sled and Senna and Prost and Ferrari and McLaren and Lotus and Williams and carbon fibre.
In those days, Cosworth Ford was still keeping up with Honda, though I doubt that's the case now.
The cars got lighter and more powerful until finally, the FIA had to set minimums in weight and horsepower.
Sort of like what the UCI has to do with bicycles now.
Which is what makes carbon bicycles so appealing.
Cutting edge and all that.
Trickle down technology.
Of course you don't see F1 technology trickle down like bicycles, not really unless you count the Lotus Super 7.
This was of course before someone decided automobiles should be safe.
Anyways, I've been thinking of a carbon bicycle cause it's like what all the racers use and if carbon components are cool then a whole bicycle made outta carbon must be cooler.
I mean a car made out of carbon is like beyond cool:

So it follows that a carbon bicycle is just as if not more cooler.
Okay, the prancing horse thingy helps, and is like a GAGILLION times cooler than any bicycle logo.
Except maybe Bianchi.
Italian goodness don't you know.
There's a problem though.
A GAGILLION problems as that's how many carbon bicycle are out there.
Some made in the Far East no less.
Thank goodness for Dedacciai.
Which in Italian means something like "accept no substitutes" or maybe "anything less is inferior" or "bragging rights" or something like that.
The thing is, I sort of like the traditional frame, the horizontal top tube.
In my eyeballs, it just looks like what a bicycle should look like.
This is sort of strange for when I first started riding, I thought the slopey, curvy, swoopy carbon bikes were the bee's knees.
Maybe I been looking at too many old photos or something cause them newfangled bikes just don't float my (recum)boat no more.
Okay, maybe a couple of them do, but they are like astronomically priced and my feet unfortunately are planted firmly on terra firma.
Well, while on my Quest For Carbon, I came across something that derailed my search.
Captured my fancy.
Made me take notice.
Pulled the eyeballs outta my head.
So to speak.
Yes, bicicletta fans!
Another quest!
The Quest for the C(QFTC)!
Let me just say that C doesn't just stand for carbon.
Not even Cannondale.
Well, it does stand for Ciocc, but I already got one of those.
No, this is a whole different C, see?
Don't bother staying tuned for this one.
It may take a while.
I mean this is the stuff dreams are made of.
If you know what I mean.


The Flat Tire Staff

Kailua - A new type of watercraft may be on the horizon.
Today, testing began by two island entrepeneurs on what they hope will change boating in the islands.
Fred Beardly and Lowell Rider demonstated their new design.
"We've talked to many boaters and the consensus is that boating while standing or sitting upright is very fatiguing," Beardly said.
"What we've done is to create a cockpit where the captain of the boat is actually reclining, sort of like an F1 or Indy car driver," Rider explained. "So far, the low hull design works well in calm, flat waters."
"We've not yet tested in large swells," added Beardly. "And so far all we have is a scale model."
Asked what they call their new craft, both responded in unison: "The Recumboat."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Final

It was a lovely day out!
Okay, not really.
More on that later.
Still, everyone it seems, was out for a ride.
I saw lot o'bicyclists out there, going this way and a that way, out enjoying the day.
I mean everyone was out, even other two wheeled folks saw reason to hit the road:

What them motorbikers were doing there, I got no clew.
I mean there were about five of em sitting down in the shade and no sign of the others.
There isn't even a watering hole around there, unless you count the supermarket across the street.
Maybe the rest of the fellers were on a cold beverage run.
Anyways, you know it's fall cause football is on the TV.
I don't really watch pro football, though I used to.
Watch it on TV I mean.
A lot.
Like an all day marathon.
Now it's sort of lost it's glamour, I mean playing the for money and all, so I'd rather watch college football.
Which for us folks around these parts, starts next Saturday.
For these folks though, it started a couple of weeks ago:

Every Sunday morning these little guys strap it on and go head to head on the gridiron.
I gotta admit, they are fun to watch even though there's like no passing game.
The quarterback dude, he takes the snap and about five seconds later hands it off to some other dude.
No really.
Five seconds he stands there, trying to decide who gets the ball next.
I think he does it to like fool the defense cause it usually works.
All the kids sort of stand around until finally someone else gets the ball and they all chase him down.
Playing for the love of the game, baby.
They don't get paid.
At least I don't think they do.
Maybe mom and dad line some pockets if they score a touchdown.
So anyways, it started of as a pretty nice day, I was motoring along putting the hurt on myself and taking in the sights.
Then the goofy weather started.
Little drops turned into big drops and I spent most of my ride trying to avoid the rain.
Seems it was always in front of me; I was always riding into it or just missing it.
If you've been following along at home you, the reader know that I make a couple of loops around Kailua and it seems like today the rain was making the loops with me.
Well, not really with me, for I'd see it up ahead but by the time I got there it would be over and when I turned around and headed back, there it was again and by the time I got to where I was going, the sun was back out.
Part of my ride was dry, then part of it was wet, then it was dry again, and then wet again.
By the time I got home, I was all dry, but my bicycle was like all dirty and muddy.
Just like me.
I was dirty and muddy I mean:

Something told me to wear my red jersey today, but at the last moment I changed my mind and went with the white one.
Boy them spots aren't exactly good for the image don't you know.
Riding on wet roads is worser than riding around in the rain for the dirt just sort of sticks to you and dries out.
At least in the rain it's sort of like taking a shower.
If you know what I mean.
Come to think about it, maybe that's what them biker folks were doing, waiting for the streets to dry up.
It's gotta be some kind of pain to clean all that chrome.
Me, I just hosed my bicycle down.
I think it's time to take a look at those clip on fender thingys.
For when the sky can't decide whether it's rain off or rain on.
Today at least, I sort of wished it was mostly on.

Sunday Early Edition

I have reached cycling zen.
Well okay, almost.
I mean there's still a ways to go, but I'm a bit closer.
That makes it not quite.
Complete I mean.
So I guess I lied.
Sort of.
I mean there's still this whole dream bicycle issue that I haven't quite settled in my head.
If there is such a thing as a dream bicycle.
Oh I dream of bicycles of course.
Many, many, bicycles.
Bicycles in all sorts of colors and paint schemes.
All adorned in alloy Italian blingness.
With Super Unobtainable Lightness of Roundness.
Mix in some carbon goodness, and you got some wildness of dreamness.
At least for me.
More on this later.
In the mail the other day, came part two of the Ultimate Training Guide to Bicycling Zen(UTGTBZ):

To pass part one of course, you must have an actual bicycle.
Italian steel is preferred, but not necessary.
Once you have a bicycle, part two will take show you how, step by step, to appreciate and realize your bicycle potential.
First, you have to learn Italian.
Okay, you don't have to be fluent, just learn words like Cinelli, Campagnolo, spaghetti, pasta, Dedacciai, and of course Cinzano.
I'm not quite finished with part two so I don't exactly know what a Cinzano is but I think it's some sort of defensive bicycling maneuver.
Oh, and don't forget your Campagnolo cycing cap.
This is very important for say it with me: image is everything.

Actually I'm not sure what Campagnolo means either, but it must mean "forged by the gods" or "really exclusive" or something cause not too many folks have it.
I'm sure I'll figure it out later.
Or maybe sooner.
So for now, I just have to learn some Italian opera songs and get myself a Masi and I'll be all set.
Well, I still have to check and see if down tube shifters and aero levers are a prerequisite.
I sure hope not.
So anyways, I'll be watching part two and paying careful attention to all the details so that one day I may achieve some kind of bicycling zen.
Taking notes and all don't you know.
Hopefully then I'll be able to hit like 50mph using the small ring.
Or learn how to rebuild those one piece cranks.
I also didn't know that to ride clipless all you really needed to do was tape your shoes to the pedals.
I'm sure there will be some kind of test later.
Out there, on the road.
There's one thing I learned for sure.
Be wary of folks wielding frame pumps.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It Blowed Up!

An understatement.
I mean a supernova is not exactly your normal type of explosion.
Nothing on Earth compares.
No really.
Well, these astronomer folks, who spend a lot of time looking at nothing which could turn out to be something, found something.
Well it was always there, not just blowing up.
A supernova has been detected in M101, otherwise known as NCG5457, otherwise known as the Pinwheel Galaxy.
Read about it here.
Sometimes staring out into space pays off.
Supernovas are a big thing, in the Big Picture.
I mean most of the building blocks of life spread out all over the universe when these suckers go off.
I wouldn't want to be around one to see the flash, if you know what I mean.
I don't know if this one has a chance of being nekkid eyeball seeing, but there have been a couple of them that have.
Been visible to the nekkid eyeball I mean.
None in our life times though.
Read about them here.
Okay, so just where exactly is this thing?
Fortunately, it's in the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major for you astronomer types.
Unfortunately, Ursa Major is way low on the horizon right now, and sets early.
First find someplace really dark.
Here's a chart:

This is what the sky should look like looking north.
The Big Dipper/Ursa Major is low and to the middle left, right above the horizon.
Right there!
Okay, now it may be higher up or lower down depending on where you are.
If you can't find it there, use your internets skilz and go someplace like here.
Now get some binoculars or something.
Here's a chart of Ursa Major:

Now Ursa Major is oriented slightly counter clockwise, but this should do.
Look where the Flat Tire Digital Pointing Device(FTDPD) is well, pointing.
Here it is again:

That yellow ellipse thingy that's marked M101 is what you're looking for.
Found it?
If you squint your eyeballs, you should see this:

Okay, not really.
The Pinwheel Galaxy is like a magnitude 8.4, which I think puts it right at the edge of binocular viewing.
Meaning it's really hard to see.
Normally it would look like a small fuzzy ball, but since an explosion greater than anyone can imagine is happening right now, all you might see is something that looks like another star.
Burn this image onto your hard drive, for if you keep looking, after a few days you may notice that the star in question is increasing in brightness, or magnitude if you want to get technical.
In fact, if you can get a camera on that spot, you may be able to document the event photographically and see the changes in brightness.
This is all pretty big stuff, for I don't think astronomers have gotten a gander at a supernova going off so close to Earth.
Close in relationship to the rest of the universe I mean.
Maybe this thing gets really bright and we get so see something that may not happen again in another life time.
A visual treat for us.
Not so good for anyone living in or around the Pinwheel Galaxy.
If you know what I mean.
Then again, maybe a GAGILLION years from now, when some new worlds have formed, some folks there will be watching our Sun blow up.
Of course I won't be here.
At least I don't think so.
Okay, not even a Maybe on that one.

P.S. Andrew Cooper of A Darker View fame says(in comments below) they used a 24" scope to view it the other day.
What that means to us non astronomer types is that it probably won't be visible in binoculars yet. AC says to give it a few days to brighten up.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lesson in Futility

Is there such a thing?
When making a futile effort, does one really learn a lesson?
I mean it doesn't seem to keep me from going there and trying again.
No matter how bad it was.
Like my ride today I mean.
I knew I was in trouble when I had to stop to check the rear wheel.
No really.
I mean I joke about checking my wheel to see if something is rubbing back there, but today it was for real.
I stopped on the side of the road about a mile out to see if it was spinning free.
Boy was I disappointed when I found it was.
That means it was me.
If you've been following along at home you, the reader know that I've been pushing a larger gear on my rides; an attempt to get faster and stronger.
If that's even possible cause I'm really fast don't you know.
Well what felt pretty good the other day felt pretty bad today.
I just couldn't' get it going.
The clickity creak clickity came back too.
I'm pretty sure it's the chain, so I'll be looking to change that out soon.
Anyways back to my ride.
It was one of those days when I just couldn't find a nice position, my body felt all goofy and my legs although still turning the pedals over were flying all over the place.
My bars were too close and my seat was too low and my bicycle felt like it was made out of solid lead.
That's Pb for you chemistry types.
Solid Pb.
If you know what I mean.
Well I checked my top tube and it was still hollow, I just wanted to make sure some kind of alchemy miracle didn't happen like over night while I was sleeping.
Like maybe the Pb Fairy came by and sprinkled Pb pixie dust all over my bicycle.
Or something.
Usually on this kind of day, my legs come back around mile ten or so and everything is okay after that.
Not today, oh no.
Today it just got worse.
I felt like I was going like 18 mph or so but when I looked down, it was only like 14.
So I pedaled harder and managed to get it up to 14.5.
That made me sort of depressed.
Maybe today was one of those days when I should have left the computer in my back pocket.
Or maybe even at home.
Hell I should have left my bicycle at home.
I should have stayed home!
Law & Order was on.
Well okay, it wasn't a complete futile effort.
I mean I did get some miles in and I did get my cream soda.
My ride was fairly noise free for the first five miles or so until my bicycle got the hiccups.
The 15 mph average still eludes me though, like sand in my open hand.
I can hold it, but only for so long.
I guess the main thing was that I was out there, not sucking down potato chips and laying on the couch.
I'll be doing that later.
Both sucking down potato chips and laying on the couch I mean.
Still it's hard to feel good about a day like this.
It sort of makes me want to get back out.
Like right now!
Right now!
Get myself another lesson in futility.
Or maybe teach futility a lesson.
If you know what I mean.

If you squint your eyeballs, you can see me in that video.
Okay, not really.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feeling the Breeze

As most of you folks know, it's been rather warm lately.
Not only where you are, but where I am too.
So hot that I got one of them Vornado fan thingys blowing all night long and The Dog parks himself in front of it hogging all the windness.
The school I work at is not air conditioned.
Hardly any schools here are, but they are designed a bit differently than on the Continent schools, with separate buildings and open walkways, and large windows, stuff that is supposed to take advantage of the tropical trade winds.
When the trade winds blow that is.
For lunch, I like to venture off campus, partly to preserve some sanity and partly to get out into the open to feel the breeze:

I usually get to hang out by the canal there for twenty minutes or so, feeling the wind come down from the valley to the north.
Honolulu harbor is right there, about a half mile away:

If you squint your eyeballs you can see one of them interisland barges there, between the trees.
So anyways, the wind was a blowing and a cooling me down and I started to think about getting a new helmet.
The helmet I got is a couple of years old now, but still holding my head together
I haven't crashed it, but I've dropped it a couple of times, though that isn't really an issue.
It more about the breeze.
How much air my noggin is getting.
Not the other side, which I wrote about here.
I was thinking about this the other day, the air my head gets, and standing there by the canal sort of reminded me of what I was thinking about.
The other day I mean.
I was riding, I mean blazing along, drying up the roads and I was wondering just how much air was hitting my head.
At the time it didn't seem like a lot for industrial strength perspiration was dripping down my head, burning my eyeballs but luckily I was going so fast my tears were just evaporating from my face.
I got this helmet way back when I first started to bicycle, back when image wasn't really everything, everything was mostly hoping I could make it back home.
It also isn't the most expensive helmet, in fact it's sort of on the cheap side seeing as how I just got it for the color.
Okay, I was thinking of image way back then too:

Black and nasty of course.
It also happens to be a MTB helmet for back then that's what I rode.
Now, I'm kinda getting the hint that maybe I should graduate to a roadie type helmet, you know, without the visor thingy.
I scoffed.
Hell, I like the visor thingy!
This heat though, and my baking head has sort of got me thinking.
Thinking of more vents.
On the top of my head.
If you know what I mean.
Okay, so I look at possible replacements and I gotta say, them helmets with the lot o'vents ain't cheap!
Seems like you pay more for a lot less.
I mean more ventilation means less helmet right?
Which is a good thing, the less helmet for it means more breeze.
I think.
The thing is my helmet is still perfectly functioning, as a helmet goes, and I'm having a hard time forking over a large chunk of change for less helmet as long as the present helmet still works.
Seems like a waste of a good helmet.
The present helmet I mean.
Then I got like a brand new helmet, in white, the same model and everything, sitting in a box, unused and pristine.
Now if I get a new helmet, just what am I supposed to do with that helmet?
Can't just hang it up and let it flap in the breeze.
On the other hand, I wish I had more breeze on my head and less helmet.
Or maybe I need less hair.
Or something.
Well anyways, I was standing there, next to the canal, the breeze blowing across my unsheltered head, and I got an idea.
Helmet modification!

You know, three or four strategically placed two inch holes to increase air flow and all that.
Okay, not really.
Don't want to mess with the structural integrity of the foam.
Or that shock absorbing material.
So then I'm back to thinking about a new helmet.
Spending more money on something I don't really need.
Or maybe I'll just endure it, I mean how long can this heat thing last?
I mean so what if my head is baking and some brain cells are dying, it's not making my any goofier.
I think.
Actually that hole saw is looking pretty good right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You Win

Not you.
Not even me.
Someone though, wins.
This is sort of a State of the Blog(SOTB) report, but it's kinda early for I don't usually do a State of the Blog thing until the after the new year.
First of all the blog is doing well.
I have invested all profits into newfangled things to make the blog more interesting so that you, the reader, are kept up to date in the latest and greatest everything.
Sort of.
We've also increased the staff here to one and half, up from one, so that we can much better cover breaking news and industry developments.
News will now come to you one and half times faster than before.
We've also increased our coverage, though we haven't been able to make any gains in the North and Mid Western states.
I don't think they got interwebz access there, so I guess it doesn't really count.
We are also looking into budgeting for a new photography machine, though the budget is tight, a new photography machine will enable us to continue to bring to you, the reader, high resolution images such as this:

That, is no longer there, but it has been captured forever on the pages of this blog.
Whatever it is.
I think.
What I really wanted to talk about, or write about, depending on where you are, is what happened the other day.
A couple of days ago, The Flat Tire hit a milestone of sorts.
Now usually, we get about 25 hits a day.
Of those twenty five hits, maybe 40 page views.
Most of these page views come from folks apparently looking for images of Jill Hennessy, Alex O'Loughlin, or flaming giraffes.
No really.
I'll take this time to note that I prefer Scott Caan as Danno, flaming giraffes are sort of odd, and Jill Hennessy has a twin sister.
Now that's something to ponder.
That Jill Hennessy has a twin sister I mean.
Then there are you folks, my regular readers, all eleven of you, who pop in, read the post of the day, and pop back out.
Let me just say right now how much I appreciate you all taking time out of your busy day to come and visit and read what I well, wrote.
I'll be the first to admit that what I write is not always entertaining, or even worth reading, but you come anyways, and sometimes leave me nice comments.
Did I say how much I appreciate this?
Well, maybe not anymore.
Someone, it wasn't any of you regulars, torched this blog for 90 freakin page views.
All in one visit.
Thank you Googlio Analylitico.
Yes, Flat Tire Brother is watching.
Anyways, that was a superhuman endeavour.
Hell, I can't stand to read more than three or four pages myself and I wrote this stuff!
I mean I haven't gone back to read anything lately, but I bet after oh, ten or so pages this starts to get a bit repetitive.
I try not to make it repetitive, but since I crank this blog out by the day, it gets sort of difficult to not talk about the same stuff over and over.
And over.
That, my friends, is one of the rare times you'll ever see me start a line with the word and.
Just thought I'd toss in something new.
Since someone out there took the time to sit down and read 90 freakin pages, I sort of owe that person something different.
Not that I don't owe you regular folks something too.
I do.
But you'll get yours later.
That's a rare instance too, because I never start a line with the word but.
Make a note, cause this ain't ever happening again.
Notice how I had to actually work that one in.
Boy, I'm good.
Anyways, this person with the 90 freakin page views has set a new standard for the Flat Tire reader.
In the time it took you, the new reader, to go through 90 freakin Flat Tire pages, I rode like twenty five miles on my bicycle!
I also had time to stop for a cream soda.
Cream soda just hits the spot don't you know.
Previous to this, the high page count was like maybe six pages in one visit.
I thought that was great.
Now, six pages is like bantha fodder!
If you come here and read six or ten pages, you aren't trying hard enough!
Get your favorite cold beverage and get ready for a Flat Tire Marathon(FTM) cause if you want to impress, man it's going to take like 100 page views now!
I still can't believe it.
Folks, the bar is set.
You, the regular readers, all eleven of you, have been bested by a newbie.
I still love you though.
Sort of.
You, the person who came here and read 90 freakin pages in one visit, you win.
What do you win?
Drop me a line and you'll find out.
Actually you deserve a plaque or maybe The Flat Tire Congressional Medal of Honor(FTCMOH).
Or a room in the Rubber Room Hotel.
Or something.
At least a t-shirt.
Send me an email at the address on the right, identify yourself and city from which you hail, and I'll put something in a Flat Tire Rate box and send it your way.
You deserve it.
Actually you deserve more but it is all I got.
I'll think of something to commemorate this historic event.
Of course if you wish to remain Annie Nonamous, that is up to you.
90 freakin Flat Tire page views is not something I'd want other folks talking about.
If you know what I mean.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Learning to Crawl

On all fours.
Actually, I sort of know how to crawl, the thing is that I don't crawl enough so I'm way out of practice.
Practice makes perfect don't you know.
Deposited on my door step today, my load of goods from Amazoniadotcom.
I like that place, even though I've never been there, it's just seems like someplace I'd like to visit.
Images of a humgasoid warehouse chocked full of all kinds of goodies comes to mind, and boy, do I enjoy my goodies!
In fact, the more goodies the better!
Can't have enough goodies!
So anyways, my stuff came in today, my learning to crawl stuff, and I'm sort of embarrassed to share cause you know, I have like an impecable image and all.
Still an image needs polishing once in a while, even if it means getting on your knees to wax on, wax off.

I'll admit that I've forgotten more about drawing than I ever learned so I figured I needed some help.
Yup, that sounds about right, I've forgotten everything I've ever learned about drawing and more.
My fada always said, "if you like learn fo do someting, read da book!"
So here we go.
Actually, there's not much to drawing, as a medium I mean, all you need is some paper and something to draw with.
The something to draw with becomes a bit complicated for there are likes all kinds of stuff you can use to draw.
More on that later.
Basically, it's all about training your eyeballs to see, training your extremeties to follow what your brain tells them to do, and training yourself to practice, practice, practice.
Oh, and you have to practice.
A lot.
Especially if you are like me, someone with minimal drawing skills.
That's about to change.
Gonna learn to crawl, then to walk.
I mean I walk pretty good, just not walking while drawing.
The walking part didn't come easy let me tell you, there was a whole lot o'reading before the walking:

Seeing as how I do a pretty good ceramic walk, I figure it's time to learn to do a drawing walk, even if it's a all wobbly and goofy walk.
At least I'll up on two feet.
If you know what I mean.
So besides the instruction manuals, you need some drawing crap, and fortunately, I got a whole box of drawing crap that I've forgotten how to use.
Boy, it's been so long, it's seems like it was in another life, but actually it was in this one.
Life I mean.
So anyways, I'm all charged up and ready to rock and rool!
I mean rock and roll.
I got my drawing crap, my learning to crawl books and fairly good hand eyeball coordination:

I'm like ready to go!
Right after Hawaii Five-O.
Or maybe after the news.
After Letterman?
Practice, practice, practice!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Final

Bleh and oh wow!
That sort of sums up today.
We got a tropical storm that was to the south of the islands and I think it's bringing in some bleh weather.
Today started off overcast and it's pretty much still overcast with some light rains.
Did this stop me from making my appointed rounds?
Hell no!
So off I went!
I was thinking about what I wrote earlier and decided I would try to just ride blind.
So to speak.
I gotta say, it's really hard not looking at the Prevaricating Garmin all the time and even when I'm not looking at it, I'm still thinking about it.
The Flat Tire Quest for Cycling Zen may take a while.
So anyways, I'm riding around and what do I see?
Lookee here.
Right there!
On the ground!

It's a kickstand!
So I park the bike against a pole and walk up to it.
Doesn't have a name on it.
I take a look around.
No one seems to be looking for it.
I take another look around.
Then I wrap it up in a paper towel and stash in the Flat Tire Things Found on the Ride Bag(FTTFOTRB).
More on this later.
Like I was saying it was a bleh day all around:

Didn't stop some other folks from making their appointed rounds either.
A guy and his kids making their way out to the surf break:

Well while I was watching them, I noticed that way out there, far off in the distance, it was starting to rain.
Over there!
Way, way, over there!

Okay, not really.
I mean it's only around 2.5 miles away, but that's part of my ride and now I'm thinking maybe it's not such a great idea to head on out over there.
Then I think okay, I'll just turn on the afterburners and dry that rain right up!
So off I go!
I was going so fast the rain turned tail and went in the other direction!
It was me versus the rain and I won!
Okay, not really.
Actually I slowed down cause I was getting a face full of road water and even though I like water, I figured I didn't want to indulge in too much of a good thing.
If you know what I mean.
I was going to cut my ride short, but apparently my blistering speed did dry up the roads some so I was able to do my full route.
So anyways, I get home and inspect my treasure:

It's like a full complete kickstand.
Mounting plates and all.
Now it's a mystery how it got on to that sidewalk, it sure didn't fall off of someones bicycle.
Everything works on it, the return spring and all, but it's not going to fit on the Bike With The Funny Name for the mounting plate is bit strange and the BWTFN has no bracket for a kickstand:

I need to make me a new top mounting plate, one that will clamp on to the top of the stays.
Fortunately, I'm in a metal shop class so maybe I can do some minor fabrication while I'm there.
More on this later.
Scoring that kickstand sort of made slogging around today worth it.
I minimized my computer watching and actually found myself in a way larger gear, a gear I wouldn't normally use.
I guess that's a good thing.
Maybe today wasn't such a bleh kind of day after all.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sunday Early Edition

Two bicycles.
For a couple of months now I've had the privilege of being able to ride two different bicycles.
Well, not so different in that they are of the same type, road bikes, although they differ in size.
In this case size matters, but not how you may think, both bicycles are set up similarly, as close as I could make them.
One has a compact crank, the other a regular, one has 170mm arms, the other 172.5.
Rear cassettes are the same, 12-25s, and the while the wheels are close, one set is definitely lighter.
What does all this mean?
Nothing much, yet at the same time it adds up to a lot.
I mean there are so many variables in what makes a bicycle, I've decided that trying to compare these two are near impossible.
Oh, there are differences in the way they ride.
Don't get me wrong.
It's just that trying to figure out what makes these differences apparent is pretty darn near impossible.
I could be this, it could be that, it could be this and that or even possibly that other thing.
If you know what I mean.
So I figure I'll just ride them and take all these differences at face value.
One bike rides light, the other heavy despite having very similar weights.
Both handle well while one tends to oversteer a bit more, a trait I sort of like.
I have to admit though, I haven't really gotten to the point of liking one bicycle over the other.
I also don't have any problem choosing which bicycle I'm going to ride.
I don't think I take one out more than the other, not consciously anyways.
Which brings me to the unconscious part.
The intangibles.
What exactly makes me select one bicycle over the other?
It's not really the "feel" of the bicycles, I mean I know how they feel.
Sort of a sense memory thing don't you know.
One bicycle doesn't feel better than the other.
Well okay, I sort of like one bicycle a little better but not enough to discourage me from riding the other.
I just sort of get bicycled up, choose one and roll on out the door.
I think it's because I'm still an inexperienced road cyclist.
I don't know enough about what I'm doing to really make an educated decision about what works and what doesn't.
This worries me.
Sort of.
I mean I'm still learning, and that's important.
It's not like I'm going out oblivious to the subtle differences between these two bicycles, I know what they are and try to see and feel how they affect me.
Sometimes it's difficult, for sensing these things is not very intuitive for me.
Especially after seeing how counter intuitive changes(like moving the seat back) can lead to positive results.
I never would have believed it if I hadn't tried it out myself.
Fortunately/unfortunately I am not afraid to try new things but trying new things does get a bit much.
Still, you never know until you try and the rewards are the surprises you get from things you never thought possible.
So I am going to try the impossible.
I have decided that once a week, I am going to go out on one of my bicycles and not think about all of the above and just ride.
I'm going to flip that Prevaricating Garmin under my bars and not worry about cadence, speed or heart rate.
Of course I'll look at the stats when I get back home; just can't go cold turkey don't you know.
The idea here is to not pay attention to the ride, but to what I'm riding.
I mean I know my route pretty well, to the tenth of a mile even, so the computer is not really needed.
I just want to feel my bicycles and try and discover what they mean to me.
So much of my ride is spent worrying about keeping up a certain speed or cadence to tell you the truth I sometimes forget about the machine under me.
Half the time I'm so worried about my heart exploding that I forget to enjoy my ride.
My ride being the bicycle.
I mean I should enjoy my bicycle, non?
If the bicycle wasn't part of the experience, then wouldn't just any bicycle do?
I should be just as satisfied a huffing and a puffing on a Denali just as I would on any other bike if the bicycle wasn't part of it.
So off I go!
On a Flat Tire Quest for Bicycling Zen(FTQFCZ).
To find my bicycle(s).
Totally not related to the Flat Tire Quest for Cycling Zen and Cleat Placement(FTQFCZACP).
Maybe related to the Flat Tire Quest for Cycling Zen and Okole Comfort(FTQFCZAOC).
If you know what I mean.

The Dremelization of the Shoe Shield

If you've been following along at home you, the reader, know that a while back I switched over from SPDs to Eggbeaters.
The thing about Eggbeaters, and to some extent SPDs too, is that the cleats are sort of hard on the soles of your shoes.
Especially if those soles are made out of carbon goodness.
Part of the reason for the switch was that the outer protective coating was starting to wear out on my soles, using SPDs, and well, the Eggbeaters look kinda cool.
In an omelet making sort of way.
Anyways, Crank Bros. has these things called Shoe Shields, which fit under the cleat to protect your precious carbon sole goodness.
The problem I was having was that they didn't fit into the plastic molded area under the cleat hole thingys preventing me from moving my cleats all the way back, which is my preferred position:

The Shoe Shields are sort of jammed up against that molded section of the sole.
I only have a few millimeters of rear adjustment left, but hey! a few millimeters is a few millimeters and it's like feet when it comes to your well, feet.
If you know what I mean.
So I marked off the area I needed to remove, eyeballing it best I could, and broke out the ole Dremelizer.
Don't try this at home unless you got your extra pair of Shoe Shields!

Especially if you are anything like me and have the uncanny ability to make an easy job difficult or worse, impossible.
They don't let me in to the Flat Tire Research and Development Labs(FTRDL).
Anyways, I thought it would be a bit difficult for those things are made outta stainless steel, but the cut off wheel did a great job of nipping those ends off:

The other side took a little more work as I had to go back and grind more material off.
Again, the Dremelizer made short work of the well, work.
Now my two feets can be happy together:

Since switching over, I've always felt like my feets were a bit behind the pedal axis, I hope this is enough to fix it.
As you all know, sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference.
Even if it's only a couple of millimeters off of the corner.
The Flat Tire Quest For Cycling Zen(FTQFCZ), one small tweak at a time.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Today was kind of a funny day.
I mean I was looking out the windows of the Flat Tire Command Center(FTCC) and the weather looked spectacular!
Then I got my bicycling self together and when I went outside, well, I looked to the left:

Dark low clouds were floating in.
Then I looked to the right:

The skies were all clear and blue!
What to do?
Well since I was all bicycled up, off I went!
Of course, I caught the rain about a mile out.
The weather doesn't bother me so much though, see I'm so fast the unbelievable friction I create heats the air in front of me and dries out the roads.
Path in front:

Path behind:

Yes, folks like it when I blaze on by!
It cleared up pretty fast, them clouds.
It went like four miles out and four miles back and everything was normal again:

I'm about to crush their tourist souls.
The dark clouds though had already done and gone over them mountains:

The wind did pick up some, but I powered on through like it wasn't even there.
In fact, I think I was going so hard, I made the wind change direction!
That's right!
Don't mess with me when I'm on The Big Ring.
I also saw my second kolea of the season:

I wrote about them here.
This guy must be just back from Alaska as his plumage looks a little different from the guy I saw in April.
Them Golden Plovers fly out and fly back in for the winter.
Once I dried up all the streets in Kailua, I headed on home.
I had something else to take care of.
Sneaky camouflaged round green thingys:

There's a bunch of them hiding in my tree.
They think they're fooling me, but I can spot them pretty good:

You can't really see them, but they're in there all right.
Time for me to do something about it.
Time for the Flat Tire Super Avocado Extractor(FTSAE):

Time to change into some camo fatigues and go after them.
Okay, not really.
About the camo fatigues I mean.
Now, I need to learn how to make guacamole.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blueness and Hellness

So I was just thinking that it's about time I start naming these posts like how they are supposed to be named and I should use those label thingys the way they are supposed to be labeled.
I mean I was searching for an older post and for the life of me I could not find it.
I know I wrote it, I just don't remember when and due to the Top Secret Flat Tire Cryptography Department(TSFTCD), I just have no clue where it went.
Or maybe I didn't write and it was all in my imagination, in that case I have Post Post Writing Imaginary Blogger Syndrome(PPWIBS).
Or something.
Anyways, some blueness came in the mail today, to replace some black and nastiness.
The shim thingy on my stem was kind of a goner, it was all tweaked and was missing a part so I got me a new one.
Small blue Cinelli goodness:

These inserts are found on Cinelli XA stems and I really don't even know why they are there.
I mean they sort of don't serve any function but I felt compelled to change it out anyways:

Is it to keep out dust and dirt?
Does it act as a shim to prevent over tightening?
A clever marketing ploy by Cinelli go squeeze more money out of folks like me?
Whatever it is, I just had to change it out and get me a blue one.
The old one was black and since I had a choice, well I had to get me the blue.
I gotta say I felt pretty darn silly for you can't even see it unless you look real hard and it's pretty ridiculous to pay for a little piece of plastic.
Still, it was keeping my up at night and now I feel a lot better.
If you know what I mean.
Speaking of keeping you up at night, I got this new book and I can imagine some of the sleepless nights this thing has caused:

That's right self torture fans!
Paris-Roubaix, A Journey Through Hell.
A nice coffee table book by Phillipe Bouvet, Pierre Callewaert, Jean-Luc Gatellier, and Serge Laget, it pretty much tells the story of the bicycle race.
I haven't gotten into actually reading it yet because the photos are just awesomely spectacular.
No really.
It's even better than watching it on TV I swear!
In fact, don't even buy it to read, just get it for the pictures!

Boy, I hope I don't get in trouble for using that image, but I that's what I'm talking about.
All the drama and stuff you don't see, it's right here in this book.
Flat Tire highly recommended.
If you're into that kind of stuff.
It was only like fourteen bucks from a used book seller on Amazon and I swear it's the best fourteen bucks I ever spent!
I mean I gave up a burrito to get this book!
Maybe two burritos.
Seriously if you get this book and don't like it, let me know and I'll buy it from you so that I can have two of em.
One for the coffee table and one to carry around with me while I ride.
For inspiration don't you know.
So anyways, that's what I'm doing tonight, reading up on the Hell of the North.
Maybe I'll have an awesome dream of me a huffing and a puffing and destroying the peloton and making gravel of them cobbles and flying through the dust and the mud and entering the velodrome with my arms raised and...
Okay, maybe not.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Cactus Update!

Time to check in on the ole Cactus Army!
After sustaining some early casualties, the brigade seems to have recovered and is doing quite nicely.
First the Saguaro one year ago:

That's the Saguaro on the left and the neobuxbaumia on the right.
More on the neobux later.
The Saguaro today.
Well okay, a couple of days ago:

That's some eulychina breviflora on top and the Saguaro on the bottom.
Now the Saguaro may look like they've progressed a lot, but let's compare them to the neobuxbaumi:

Okay, that one is something of mutant, for the others are in the back.
I'm not sure why only one of them has seemed to have taken to the skies.
Maybe it's been doing some intervals while I'm not looking.
Here's the agave:

That survived a leaf attack a while back.
I'm getting my still ready.
I didn't say that.
The much anticipated opuntia:

This one popped out a couple of months ago after the first batch was eaten during a rodent attack.
I may put a cage around this one.
It's starting to look plump and delicious.
The opuntia it seems, are seasonal, like they sprout only after winter or something.
I've read of folks freezing the seeds to simultate those conditions, then planting them later.
Very strange.
Actually not so strange as all these cactuses and succulents seem to grow during the winter months.
I mean it's not like we have winter months here, but I noticed more growth during that time.
I guess it makes sense, the plants slow down growth activity during the summer, when water would be scarce, and hit the gas during the winter when there is less sunshine and moisture can be used for growth rather than survival.
This is all very new and untropical like for me.
It's interesting to see nature in action and how even plants evolve to survive in a particular climate.
I mean even when relocated to a much different place, the growth pattern remains the same.
Except for that mutant one.
The X-Cactus.
I'm a little frightened by that one.
Anyways, I don't think I would have noticed this in grown plants; seeing them grown them from seeds is pretty interesting.
In a watching paint dry kind of way.