Elephant Rock Century - NoMuse

Elephant Rock Century 2010, © Hunter Mooneyham

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Earlier this year, Justin asked whether I'd be interested in popping over to Denver to ride wingman on his first century. I was giddy to take my recently assembled travel bike on a trip and agreed. This particular ride has an excess of riders and plenty of climbing from the start — and interesting combination for the first twenty or so miles. The descents struck me as piddly until late in the ride when we hit a long, fast section of road headed back towards Castle Rock. It was a sufficiently fun ride that I imagine that we'll do it again next year.

One thing that struck me odd was the copyright details for purchased photos. I'm prone to buying digital copies of photos that don't emphasize my mid-life paunch for use in my digital scrapbook here and over at flickr. Given the default copyright, should I purchase a digital copy from the professional photographer's e-commerce site, I wasn't allowed to use it for much of anything — certain not here. After a couple rounds of emails, I got in touch with Hunter Mooneyham and explained my intended uses. He willingly extended my rights to the digital photo, which was trĂ©s cool from my perspective.

Much cooler would have been an e-commerce/copyright infrastructure that acknowledges the twenty-first century, blogs, photo sharing, social media, jet cars, etc. I doubt that any of this is Mr. Mooneyham's fault — he was very accommodating via email. It was, however, an email conversation that wouldn't have been necessary if the folks writing the small print spent any time considering how their customers would likely use a digital image, here, in the future, where we live now, rather than, y'know, copying and pasting Olan Mills circa 1932 boilerplate into their web forms.

15+ Albums for Erik - NoMuse


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My buddy, Erik, asked for a list of the first fifteen albums of which I could think in fifteen minutes, give or take. I hit twenty-six albums before I reigned myself in. Most of the albums hold some autobiographical importance.

When I pare my CD collection, these will definitely be among the keepers:

  1. Lloyd Cole, "The Negatives"
  2. The Psychedelic Furs, "Midnight to Midnight"
  3. Fountains of Wayne, "Welcome Interstate Buisness Managers"
  4. The Killers, "Hot Fuss"
  5. Huey Lewis and the News, "Picture This"
  6. Pink Floyd, "Momentary Lapse of Reason"
  7. Beulah, "The Coast Is Never Clear"
  8. Taylor Swift, "Fearless"
  9. Leona Naess, "I Tried To Rock You But You Only Roll"
  10. Dido, "No Angel"
  11. Deana Carter, "I'm Just A Girl"
  12. KT Tunstall, "Eye To Telescope"
  13. Liz Phair, "Liz Phair"
  14. The La's, "The La's"
  15. Rick Springfield, "Working Class Dog"

And the extras (most are keepers as well, a couple are too new to know):

  • Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, "1984-1989"
  • Crystal Method, "Vegas"
  • Moby, "Play"
  • Fountains of Wayne, "Traffic and Weather"
  • The Killers, "Sam's Town"
  • The National, "High Violet"
  • Bon Jovi, "Slippery When Wet"
  • Kylie Minogue, "Fever"
  • Orianthi, "Believe (II)"
  • Neon Trees, "Habits"
  • Lloyd Cole, "Broken Record"

Etymotic Rocks the House - NoMuse

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Etymotic E4R
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Six or seven years ago, I purchased a set of Etymotic E4R headphones for use with a series of amplifiers that I was building at the time. I sampled them during a Headroom road show that passed through Salt Lake City and I fell in love with the audio that they produced. I've used them constantly since their initial purchase and have taken good care of them.

Last month, one of the stems that extends from the driver enclosure and supports the foam or silicone ear fittings broke off. I contacted Etymotic, arranged an RMA, and shipped my E4Rs off for repair. A week later, my headphones were returned with new drivers. Etymotic neither charged me for the repair nor asked for proof-of-purchase. My E4Rs were an expensive purchase that I've enjoyed using. I love this kind of long-term customer service.

Lotoja 2009

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I ride my bicycle a bit — this isn't news for anyone who knows me. I'm working to make it my primary means of transportation. When I bought my TCR a few years ago, I sampled a number of saddles looking for something that wouldn't aggravate or numb my primary bicycle interface. My search ended when a buddy recommended the Specialized Toupe. The Toupe addressed all of my comfort issues save one — longer rides and/or consecutive commute days yielded chafing on my left inner thigh and saddle sores. I addressed the irritation with Chamois Butt'r, cortisone shots, and gritted teeth.

A short while back, I stopped in at my shop and asked Brady whether a narrower version of the Toupe might correct my issue. Brady strongly recommended a technical fit rather than a saddle that would "cut me in half." The pricing for the fitting was on par with the price of a new saddle. After considering my options overnight, I made an appointment.

A technical fitting is an intensive, one-on-one process with Taylor that can run as long as three hours. The fitting covers a range of data points from riding position and style to body flexibility and irregularities (different leg lengths, for instance) to the particulars of pedal stroke, all of which play into the specifics of adjusting the bicycle for something very close to optimal rider fit and alignment.

After my first session with Taylor, I took the TCR out for a longer weekend ride. My hope was to correct the irritation at the primary interface. Forty miles later, the primary interface was ready for more. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that pedaling was different — easier, more efficient, more like I was skimming along water like Dash from "The Incredibles." And, my tendency to shrug my shoulders while riding, which led to cramping and discomfort even on shorter rides, all but disappeared. Specialized advertises that one will "Ride faster, longer, and in greater comfort." I agree. Completely.

Taylor sent me home with a copy of the measurements of various relationships on the TCR. That sheet allows me to adjust a bicycle's components in very close to where they need to be. Of course, frame geometry is a factor, but a visit to the shop for fine tuning becomes short work and much less expensive. After all, I'm paying for much less of Taylor's time. The heavy lifting of the initial fit is done. So far, I've been in to have my commuter and travel bikes adjusted. When I get the drops installed on my Xtracycle, I'll have that fitted as well.

If you cannot tell from this drivel, I am incredibly pleased with the results of my fittings. They have made a massive difference in my ride quality. My chafing, saddle sores, and shoulder shrugging are in my past. I liked riding before. These days, I love riding so much that I'd consider marrying it — if I were still in third grade and weren't already married.

If you're one of my three (ir)regular readers, or if you've stumbled onto this post via the magic of the intertubes and are interested in having Bountiful Bicycle fit your bicycle(s), mention that you read about my fitting on and they'll knock $50 off the price of the technical fitting. It really will be the best $150 you spend on your bicycle. If you go in for a fitting, be prepared for a fair amount of saddle time — cycling shoes and clothing are definitely needed. A significant portion of the fitting is spent pedaling on the trainer.

For what it's worth, in addition to Taylor being a great guy, he's completed both the BG F.I.T. and Masters BG F.I.T. courses at Specialized's training facility in Morgan Hill, California. You can reach Taylor for a fitting appointment at 801-295-6711. More information about the BG Fit program is available via Specialized's BG Fit segment of the intertubes.

North Salt Lake City Repaves Orchard Right - NoMuse

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The city of North Salt Lake recently ripped up a section of my daily commute route that was in dire need of repair. The road was closed for about six weeks during which time the macadam was stripped, the underlayment was reworked, and silky smooth asphalt right out of Disney's "Cars" was laid. The city finally finished striping the road and I was giddy to find a proper bike lane -- a lane that includes directional arrows for those salmon-like cyclists who can't seem to figure out on which side of the street they should ride. Good on ya, NSL!

Soakin' Up The Sun - NoMuse

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Hobbes loves sleeping on his back. Hobbes does not love belly rubs, but who can resist rubbing his tummy? Not I.

The Third Time Is The Charm - NoMuse

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The front door to our house has been a problem since we purchased the place. The original door was hung so badly that during the winter Nat and her Mom together struggled to get the door to close. With one thing and another, the original door was rehung slightly better than than when we bought the house. Then it was replaced with a fancy-pants door. However, neither hanging worked in an ideally functional sense. One of my early summer vacation projects was rehanging the front door with a new wall section between vertical structural posts. I believe the wall from the my first rehanging was slightly askew. Anyway, out came the door and the wall. In went the new wall and our fancy-pants door. After a few minor adjustments, it works mostly correctly, which will have to be good enough.

Nat's Bear Lake 10k - NoMuse

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Nat ran her first 10k in Garden City, Ut. The original plan called for an overnight stay at a condo; but, a missing set of stairs to the upper floor necessitated a change of plan. Justin and I got up at o-dark-early and drove to Garden City. We arrived just in time to not see Nat leave on the bus to her starting point. We did manage to help LaRayne entertain Cole and Tate while we waited for Nat to wend her way back. I had fun, and I think that Cole and Tate had fun. Justin may have even enjoyed himself a little bit -- he did get to torment the children a bit.

the cat @ the hatt(aways') - NoMuse

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I went with Nat to pick up my birthday/anniversary/father's day/hogswatch gift from the airport. Nat found and purchased a five-month old Pixie-Bob for me. It is without doubt one of the coolest gifts I've ever been given. Our friends Channon and Joe had a Pixie-Bob and I found it's temperament to be the ideal mix of dog and cat. Of course, I hadn't wanted one badly enough to seriously look for one, or to purchase one, or to commit to a litter box. Nat handled the hard work and left the litter box to me. After several days of watching the cat torment Nat's beagle Suzy by pouncing at her out of nowhere, taking a couple of playful swipes, then chasing her out of the room, Hobbes seemed like the perfect choice of name.

the kindle 2 disaster - NoMuse

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The Amazon Kindle 2.

I've been reading about e-ink technology for several years. I really like the idea of a book-sized device that could contain my personal library and not require daily battery chargings. I have been reading e-books on various handheld devices since my Palm 3 days and my library has more than a few books. I was thrilled when the iPhone app store opened and made my library available to me on latest digital brain.

For one reason or another, I thought that a Kindle 2 would be a great way to read. I really want to like the Kindle 2. The internets are full of tech bloggers who tell me that the Kindle2 is the poo. I should really love the Kindle 2 -- I mean, I already love the idea of it.

Unfortunately, the current implementation is underwhelmingly suboptimal for a variety of reasons that break the deal for me.

Amazon advertises PDF compatibility. I used Google to locate a script that would convert my ereader books into Kindle compatible files. I thought that I might be able to have searchable access to a number of technical books as well as my electronic fiction library. In practice, PDF conversion is in an early developmental stage. If the document you want to move to the Kindle is very simple and contains no tabled information, the Kindle works adequately. The only PDF that meets this criteria that I could find in my collection was an article a liberal arts professor had written and distributed for one of my post-graduate dabblings.

Though the device appears OK, the buttons feel really cheap. Don't get me wrong, the design isn't stellar, or even Sony for that matter. The buttons don't even make the grade at OK. Worse, the button's action, particularly to advance the pages, has extremely low quale. The action feels as though the button pressed will break at any time, as though the button is just barely hanging on.

Along with poor button quality, one of the quirks of the e-ink technology is that the screen flashes in reverse pixels on every page turn. Every time you advance the page, the screen flashes black. Any benefit you might get from the more paper-like display strikes me as negated by the flashing action of the screen reseting. Another quirk is the length of time required to change a page. Amazon advertises that the page turn rate has improved by 20%. About all that I can say about the increase is that page turns are still too slow -- slow enough that I was able to capture the black flash of the screen in one of the photos that I took.

The contrast on the screen is sufficiently low that the display looks like the "Moonlighting" character Maddie Hayes -- in permanent soft focus. I sent the sample chapter of Haruki Murakami's "Sputnik Sweetheart" to my Kindle. The section breaks are defined with a half-contrast capital. These letters seem to fade to mush with the light gray color of the display. I suspect that the general contrast induced mushiness is compounded by the bright white bezel of the device itself. The screen looks dirty next to it. So long as you don't fiddle with the text size, the display is adequately sharp. I don't know what to tell you should you need a larger (or smaller) font.

Without wandering too far into form versus function territory, the Kindle keyboard is nearly unusable. The layout looks good in a regimented, symmetrical way; but, it is a long stretch from the grouped and staggered rows to which one might be accustomed if one had ever used a keyboard. Or a typewriter. A buddy of mine who runs a business focused on handhelds told me that his company had produced exactly one device with this keyboard and that the device had been rejected by even the most die-hard of their hunt-and-peck clients.

I would like to complain about the price of back catalog books; but, $10 didn't seem expensive for an older novel until I spent $360 on a reader. I bought a copy of "Sputnik Sweetheart" from a month or so ago for about $14 and didn't think twice about the price. At Amazon, I looked at back catalogs for Fleming, King, and Murakami among others. I found Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" for $6, but the balance of her available catalog was priced at $10 each. With the cost of the reader, $6 strikes me as a more appropriate price -- though, $14 for a book is OK when the reader is free. And, yes, I realize that I paid a premium for my iPhone; but, I didn't buy the phone as a reader. On some level, I understand that pricing has to cover the wireless access for the device's life. I suppose that I'd rather see some sort of graduated pricing: a little more for newer books, a little less for older books, and maybe a few free transfers over Amazon's WhisperNet before I had to pay some sort of fee for additional transfers.

I also purchased a Kindle copy of Harold McGee's "On Food And Cooking." I own a dead tree copy that I read when I'm between novels. Though the chapters appeared to be hyperlinked from the table of contents, I had no success in getting the electronic copy into the neighborhood of where I am in my dead tree copy.

The 3g cellular connectivity for over the air transmission of books and subscriptions was nice. If I hadn't experienced the same technology on my iPhone several months ago with the software, I might have been awed. The facility to browse the web over the included cellular network seemed like a good selling point -- until I realized the lack of support for tables and style sheets.

I eventually recalled that I keep a small computer in my pocket that also makes phone calls. So, I returned the Kindle to Amazon. Prior to shipping it back, I took some photos of the Kindle, which include the reversed screen, the very nice Amazon leather cover, and full resolution copies.