23 December 2011

Winter Bright Day

It was bright, too; clear and crisp and sunny.  But only modestly chilly, even with the wind, and not much like winter.

05 December 2011


Aoife's generally fairly tough to photograph, since she's a Stealth Cat.
Getting a shot of this pose -- her typical paw-over-nose-sleeping-on-the-top-of-her-head sleeping posture -- is especially tough because if she hears the camera, she wakes up and uncurls enough to look at me.  Clicky noises might mean something interesting, after all.

So I'm kinda pleased about this one, white balance issues and all.

01 December 2011


It's the sort of scene that makes me want a longer lens and a tripod and more time, instantly and all together, but it could have come out a lot worse.

26 November 2011

One or two ducks

Spot the killdeer:

A late egret:
The lake is down, most leaves have fallen, but it was 12 C today and there are still a few wild flowers blooming.  Quite a nice day; nothing spectacular, but the White-throated sparrow, Northern Pintail, and both of the above were all notable in the season.

The ducks, well, winter has come; the long-tailed ducks are back on the lake in the distribution that makes it seems as though long-tailed ducks may well continue to the ends of the world, where there are not rafts of scaup.

13 November 2011

there was some fall colour

Not a whole lot—much too spread about by the temperature and the day length being out of customary alignment—but there was some.

01 November 2011


It doesn't work.
The focus is off, just for starters -- just too far back, so that front leaf is a bit out of focus and that really doesn't help -- and there isn't any kind of real isolating angle (one can only do so much with DOF, and I'm lawful enough to Stay On The Path) and the camera can't really see like eyes, so while the purple isn't, surprisingly enough to me, all that far off, there's not enough wide for the whole sudden disjunction of the strange purple forb between the yet-green and the already-entirely leafless bits of bushy plants, there's no way to get the whole "whups, Faƫrie" sense of the thing out of the screen.

Which is a great pity; despite labouring under the disadvantages of manicured lawns, far too much paving, an appalling excess of dogs, and very traditional formal gardens, High Park retains some memory of the oak savanna and the edges of Lake Iroquois, and such moments are, if not easy to come by, not shocking for their existence.

Her majesty the kitten

Taken when she was on the very top of the bookshelf; that background is mostly plaster ceiling in the Italianate swoopy/swirly style.  Also taken about three weeks ago, so her winter coat was still coming in.  She's back to being all sleekit now, and there is rather less demanding of brushings about the head.

10 October 2011

Autumn rose

The DA*55 is supposed to be a portrait lens; a direct APS-C replacement for the traditional 85/1.4 portrait lenses of yore.  It certainly has the suitable lovely bokeh.  What it doesn't have is any notion of mercy, producing extremely sharp images.  I suppose the Pentax engineers could have concluded that it's easy enough to blur it in post, and still rather harder to un-blur it in post, but the lens still feels a bit like it really wanted to grow up and be a macro lens, or even the first lens able to take direct images of sin.
In someone's (admittedly south-facing) yard on the eighth of October.  And yes, Toronto is the warm south, for Canadian values of the warm south, but still.  I am finding myself haunted by considerations of the transition rates of buffered systems when they finally do change state.

Ride 48km and what do you get?

Proof that bicycle components are lamentably fragile, that's what.

 Brand new SRAM Rival crankset; failed at kilometer 48 of its first ride.  Given that the Apex crankset has 1380 km on it, I'm going to suppose that this particular chain ring made it out of QC and should not have.
I don't think it's spalling, as such, since it looks like some kind of ductile failure making the teeth smaller, but it's certainly not good.

And I was nearly stopped, too, with one foot down and turning to get out of going down an unhelpful bit of bike path in a park.  Not a high stress situation.

09 October 2011

Swapping components

Partially because I want to be able to run 12-36 cassettes, and if I'm going to do that—which implies a "mountain", in this case X9, rear derailleur—I thought I might as well move the rest of the drive train up the food chain one notch to SRAM's Rival, instead of Apex, components.  Probably not a huge improvement in quality but that little bit tougher can be a good thing.

SRAM Apex bottom bracket; it has not quite 1400 km on it.  I was somewhat trepidatious about pulling it, but that all went fine.
I believe that's some sort of small bug, wedged into the unused hole for attaching the bottom-of-the-bottom-bracket-shell cable guide.  Also, sand and other guck.  It's pretty much harmless, because the bottom bracket is sealed and the titanium frame is not at much risk of corrosion.  Having what amounts to a drain hole is probably a good thing, if only so moving the seat post isn't like trying to compress the air in the frame.
The bottom bracket shell, post a good swabbing and prior to having the Rival bottom bracket installed.
Apex crankset; I was initially appalled by the variable tooth heights until I looked at the new one and realized that SRAM does that on purpose.  (Various $BRAND-glide technologies.)  The grease is Connex spray-on chain grease; it's film-forming, and insanely stubborn. (as in, it does not come off when you wash the chain in hot water and hand cleaner.  Though fortunately the road grit did.)

26 September 2011

Road Work

Once the work on the water mains gets finished, the City of Toronto has been coming back through and resurfacing the street and replacing stretches of sidewalk.  (Something this section of Dundas probably needed before the water main work.)

So there have been these strangely mobile piles of signs and new manhole covers and such, and this is from the day the pile drifted up to my usual morning streetcar stop.

25 September 2011

It's the end of the summer

But I'm not sure the natural world is entirely convinced.

No pictures of birds, despite having a good day on the TOC Durham waterfront bird walk.  Much nicer weather than the forecast, and an opportunity for the trip leader to tell the Solitary Sandpiper joke. ("Can't be a Solitary; there are three of them.")

06 September 2011

Juvenile bluebird

At least, I believe so, in the canal-side park in Port Colborne:

the whole thing
all the bird-pixels, one for one.

I am pleased about this not because I could identify it at the time, but because something prompted me to take the picture on the basis of "that's not a starling". My hind brain may be slowly getting the hang of this.

05 September 2011

Learn by doing

I have been wondering if the gearing—straight up SRAM Apex, 50/32, 11/34, which gives, with 180mm cranks, gain ratios between 8.6 and 2.0—on the Experiment is really suitable for loaded touring.  It's obviously suitable for axial-bag-only riding about, but it wasn't at all clear I'd want to go anywhere the least bit hilly with panniers.  Since there are a number of nice multi-day touristy sorts of rides up near Peterborough and in diverse other places in Ontario where, lo, there are hills, I though this would be a good question to resolve.

Since the question didn't appear to be especially amenable to theory, I figured that since I needed to take some panniers with me on the Niagara weekend with the long-suffering zingerella, (since, however long-suffering, putting up with me in the same cycling clothes for four days would be Rather Much) I might as well err on the side of stuff and resolve the question.

So on Thursday morning, when I weighed the bags, I got:

4.71trunktools and spares
6.28XM45walking-around clothes
7.40Bugcomputer, power bricks, cables
6.98GT18Pentax DSLR and lenses
6.42GT18cycling clothes, rain gear, more food

The Experiment, with racks, lights, and GPS, is 17.04 kg; three full water bottles at 0.87 kg each would be another 2.61 kg if I counted them as full, but let's count that as 1.05 as an average value, giving me 56 kg total non-me rolling mass. (123.45 lbs.) This is half my body weight, near as makes no never-mind.

And it turns out I can do that, somewhat to my surprise.

Day 1 was Burlington GO to Port Colborne, via the truly excellent, bike-friendly Pan Cafe in St. Catharines; Day 4 was Port Colborne to the St. Catharine's train station, to pick up the end-of-the-summer GO bike train back to Toronto.  Days 2 and 3 were indolent, with minor sidelines in traipsing about Port Colborne but mostly taking advantage of the glorious hospitality of the Talwood Manor B&B to revel in the knowledge that no one at work had the slightest idea where I was.

Day 1 was 110.45 km, counting the ~4.6 km riding to the Exhibition GO station along with the ride from Burlington to Port Colborne; Day 2 was 103.3 km.  (No in-Toronto distance; I took the subway home from Union Station, as rain and pitch dark and tired were adjudged a bad combination.)

So, things I have learned:

  1. The Escarpment notwithstanding, the Niagara peninsula really is pretty much flat, but it has a peculiar wind field where, no matter your heading nor how frequent your changes of heading, there will be a headwind.
  2. I can do loaded touring with Apex gearing when it's flat; the Lock 5/Lock 7 part of the Welland Canal trail is a pretty good indication that I ought not to do any loaded touring with Apex gearing where it's not flat, even if there are no people attempting to teach their tiny dog to sit in the middle of the trail at the peak of the hill road crossing.
  3. Seat height is everything; the difference between 110 km on a loaded bike with some tiredness but no real pain and the screaming leg cramps starting right around 60km is about 1cm of seat height.  The current replacement seat post clamp might be as close as a quarter turn to snapping the bolt; it's certainly not less than 1 turn from that point.  It is, however, holding. (Al seatpost, Ti seat tube, anti-seize compound not optional; result is a seat post that wants to creep down.  Thompson seat post clamps on order (1 to use, 1 to carry spare) and apparently unknown to ever go ping!, per the LBS. I shall see.)
  4. there's a lot of wobble in a crosswind on a loaded bike below about 15 kph; after awhile, my hands really notice this.
  5. lowrider panniers interfere with curbs readily; the reflexive foot-on-curb thing becomes a Bad Plan.
  6. The regular GO train is a much better way to convey one's bicycle than the GO bicycle excursion train; you get to sit with the bike and don't have to unload it.  Must fill out survey.

30 August 2011

Well, that's a 1000 km down

It's actually 1055.87; I passed a 1,000 km for the Experiment very early in this ride.  But I really didn't want, for what are purely superstitious reasons, to tackle this weekend's ride-round-Niagara with its couple of 100 km days (though thankfully not adjacent 100 km days) without getting past 1,000 km on the summer first and there were mailing list posts about interesting birds in Rattray Marsh, which is really not all that far away.

I think of the Lake Ontario shoreline as being basically east-west, but that isn't true past Toronto; it's narrowing down to western end, where Hamilton is, and then it goes in a curve to the Niagara River.  (not shown; I certainly didn't get that far today!)  Which means I should take reports of south-west winds more seriously when I'm thinking about heading west along the lake; what's an annoying crosswind/wind on the bow along the Toronto waterfront is an outright headwind once one hits Mississauga.

So it was basically 30km of horrible headwind, and another 30km of my, this is a nice set of trails along here, and while my legs have bad things to say about my basic good sense for riding into that head wind for that long, nothing has (avert!) gone and collapsed into the Bad Leg Cramps, which I am now sure are a product of having the seat creep down a bit.  (as in, it looks like under 1cm drop is enough to throw everything off, happy-legs vs unhappy legs wise.)

A better seat post clamp is on order; in the meantime I'm tightening this one (a replacement for the original, the pinch bolt of which made the ping! noise) as far as I dare.  (and have a spare in the tools bag.  Because of all the five dollar parts to have cripple one's ability to ride, I think I'd find the seat post clamp particularly hard to take.)

Taking to the end of August to get past 1,000 km feels awfully slack, but, well, job that I can't cycle-commute to, horrible sinus thing, two weeks of no front wheel courtesy of that car at the start of June, and July weather inconducive to both exercising outside and not dying at the same time.  So it could be better, but it doesn't actually suck, or at least not suck rocks.

The Experiment continues to be a delight and an indescribable improvement on any previous bicycle.  I am going to see just how well I deal with the Niagara Escarpment this weekend before seriously contemplating drive train changes for loaded touring, but I'm at least somewhat hopeful I won't collapse in an expended heap in a ditch anywhere.  (I've been zooming about with a front bag and a trunk bag, but not panniers on the whole.  I suspect the panniers will make a difference...)

27 August 2011


Toronto Police Pipes & Drums, at the head of Jack Layton's funeral procession where it started by Osgoode Hall.

Taken from a streetcar that almost made it around its diversion off King St. and along Queen, but not quite.

There were an awful lot of people in the vicinity of that funeral, even knowing they wouldn't be able to get into Roy Thompson Hall.  (They don't stop the streetcars for much; scheduled parades pass them through, frex.)

Everybody remember to do a Thing.

25 August 2011

Working on it

Looking north from the lighthouse hill at the eastern edge of Tommy Thompson park, where they're still adding fill.

It was a really lovely night for a bike ride.

18 August 2011

Spider Thistle

I find myself hoping I have a long and productive interaction with the DFA100WR.  (Not to be confused with the DFA100.)

15 August 2011

Happy as a bee in clover

Absent some surrounding foliage:
 1:1 crop

14 August 2011

So far, no cramping

Avoiding the bad leg cramps[1] might be as simple as an average speed under 5 m/s, which makes me feel like an utter slug but a slug who must acknowledge that the cycling isn't happening as much as once a week, never mind more than once a week. (Curse you, combination of deadlines and determined work ethic!)

This was not a planned loop; this was a "let's go down to the Martin Goodman and see if I can make it back to the Cherry Beach Chip Truck if I go out Tommy Thompson" sort of thing, and then I went up the Don instead of straight back home because I am very bored of the parts along Queen's Quay where there isn't a bike path or bike lane and one must play "what will we have to dodge today, Brain?" with extra bonus "crush, concuss, or contuse?" rapid prioritization skills testing.

 It amuses me that the altitude change never comes out to zero, despite starting and stopping in the same—to sub-metre resolution—place.

Tommy Thompson Park is an artificial breakwater/harbour extension thing, made out of excavation fill and building wreckage (there are place in the still-being-added parts where you can find yourself riding over ten metres of broken tiles, pounded roughly flat by being run over by a bulldozer; as tyre tests go a fairly convincing one) and it has been, historically, almost completely left to its down devices to turn into whatever sort of urban wilderness it wants.

I remember when this view was a blasted heath of broken bricks and a certain sparse quantity of struggling forb; it doesn't take the prying roots all that long to turn bricks back into mud.

The lighthouse at the tip of the park; if you go and build something 5km out into the lake, it's presumably polite to provide encouragements to the shipping to avoid running into it.
His Noodly Appendage; there's a fair bit of free-form sculpture attempts on the still-being-filled margins of Tommy Thompson, and sometimes it's people and sometimes it's the lake.  The great big ball-of-yarn rebar free-form stuff is, I am nearly certain, the lake.  The various inuksuit are, I am nearly certain, humans.  This one may be a collaboration.

[1] There were leg cramps, and they started right about 55km this time, too, though in response to an attempt to go quickly because I really wanted to get home before the thunderstorm happened.  They were nothing like as bad, and have been nothing like as bad since I got off the bicycle; pre-emptive ibuprofen and taking the lunch vitamins when I got home seem to have helped, he says, making the sign against evil.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

I don't normally see these guys in the summer, or so low in a tree—this one wasn't all that much above eye level—so I was very pleased to get a whole-bird shot.  Even if the branches behind are running into limits-of-bokeh issues.

13 August 2011

About as lost as it is possible to get

At least if you're a winter hat.

I like to think the owner will see it and rescue it from where someone, following the custom, has stuck it over something visible and too high to let the hat be lost back into the snow, but, well.  August.  It's been there a good long time now.

07 August 2011

Maritime innovation

Due to the kindness of a friend and colleague, I wound up spending five hours on a sailboat on Saturday, the prototype of one of these.

"These" being a 25 foot, cat-boat rigged, not-necessarily-provided-with-booms, flat-bottomed sail boat that had what were to my mostly inexperienced view really remarkably good sailing characteristics.  I wouldn't want to take one across the broad Atlantic, but I would not be surprised to discover that someone had, sort of thing.  (Also, Yves, the captain?  Made sailing backwards for one leg of the triangle around swimmers (who had been, and would be again, passengers) look trivial.  So my impression may not have the boat/skill ratio quite right.)

Heading East

Shot through the abjectly filthy plastic-and-polyester-canvas sheet that gets strapped over the rear of the last car,  presumptively to discourage any addled passengers from walking straight out the back of the train.  Which is probably a good idea, much as I should have preferred that it wasn't there for photographic purposes.

31 July 2011


So July -- counting yesterday -- looks to be a 140km month.  (Bleck.)  Some of that is a sinus isssue, thankfully responding to treatment; some of that is a couple weeks where exercise outside would have been a "do you want to die?" issue (Humidex of 48 C. Gah.) and some of it is this whole count-the-commute-and-it's-a-50-hour-week thing, which leads to getting home falling over tired when it's hot enough that sleep tends to be fragmented.  (I am starting to think that in another 25 years, people will still cycle 3 seasons in Toronto, but the season they don't cycle in will be the summer.)

So, anyway, yesterday.  55.86 km per the GPS; throw in the round-the-block seat height test and the crawl up to the streetcar stop and it's somewhere a bit ove 56 km.

And it was, so far as I can tell, a really good ride up to the point I blew up; a hot but relatively dry day, nice breeze, having noticed the seat post crawling down I had the seat post back where it should be and everything worked every so much better (except the shoe cleat I'd adjusted *before* noticing the post was down, on the theory that the cleat had crept; I will presumably get it back to the right place eventually...) and no one even tried to squash me.  (A member of a gaggle of Japanese students tried to use me as a way to kill himself in Ashbridges Bay Park, but I'm sensible enough to ride that path at ~15kph with both hands on their respective brake levers, and he failed.)  So, anyway, hit 55 km, legs went from "this is sometimes work" to "I shall scream", and I had (what I thought was) a fit of sense and took the streetcar home from there. (Obviously auspicious; I got on a streetcar that never had more than 12 people total on it, which isn't actually miraculous on a Saturday afternoon but certainly felt that way.)

Get home, eat dinner (had ~20 g maple hard candy, ~150g mixed nuts and dried cranberries, ~300g fries on ride, reheated beef and tortilla chips as dinner once home), drink lots (1.2 L water, ~2 L Nuun electrolyte replacement, .5 L iced tea on ride, .5 L lime-and-ribenna + .5 L water around dinner), regular vitamins (taken at breakfast and "lunch") include ~330 mg potassium supplements, ~1.4 g CA/.7 g Mg, go lie down for a bit.  Get up an hour later and both legs cramped badly enough that I made noises that distressed the cat and dry-swallowed ibuprofen, which fortunately mostly worked.

This is becoming a consistent pattern; really bad muscle cramping from rides that don't feel like I'm pushing anything at the time.  (For example, this morning, my left knee, victimized by the cleat misalignment, was mildly sore; from the way it felt yesterday, as I kept stopping and fidling with the cleat alignment, I could expect that.  Same with the sore-if-I-think-about-it stomach muscles; that felt like progress at the time, that I was starting to get ride effort getting up into core muscles.)

Nothing about the actual effort of pedaling felt like it was execessive or enough or "yeah, that's it" until about 55 km, where I (thought I was being) sensible and got on a streetcar in response to strongly twingy pre-cramp sorts of feelings. (and I was being sensible, becuase the cramps would only have been worse if I'd kept going.)

This was not a hard ride; rolling average of 17.2 kph, 607/651 metres elevation gain/loss, total time 277 minutes, 194 minutes moving.  (many stoplights, several pauses.)

But I'm clearly doing something wrong.   Too much distance after a week off?  Not enough carbs?  Some kind of electrolyte balance issue?

17 July 2011

Hanging basket

From early in July, before all the flowers wilted. (There are any number of very tall tiger lilies out there crisping inward from the petal edges.)
No idea what they are; the hanging basket is on my walk home from the subway station.

Not bad for a point-and-shoot.

Partial recovery from torpor

It's been wretchedly hot, and work has been alternating between "sooner than now!" and "twiddle, twiddle, wait for specification" and my general supply of neurons to rub together has been somewhat sub-optimal. So it has taken me awhile to get various things both on the bike and photographed.

Here we have the Experiment being held up by a combination of set brakes (those little dark lines around the brake levers are elastics) and a Click Stand.

Front end showing new front rack extensions; fitting a decaleur seemed somewhere between impractical, hopeless, and not helpful enough to be worth the expected effort, so I went for the Nitto rack extension for the Rivendell M1 rack.  The only thing I really mind is needing to offset the headlight; the centre hold is an attachment point for the extension on the to the M1 rack, and the bolt size is larger than that used by the headlight mount.
The now-usual luggage; front rando bag, courtesy of David Parsons, and the Arkel Tail Rider, which is being used as a tool-and-spares bag.
Demonstrating that I can still use the front low-rider rack, despite having half an octopus worth of stays holding the front platform rack on.
Now if only the humidex would dip below 30 for any length of time in daylight....

07 July 2011

Today's discovery

The small-centre-hole cap on a bottle of goo-be-gone is not sufficient to prevent gouting from the bottle if the bottle is squeezed.

I do not believe I have ever, or would ever, plan on having a navel full of de-greaser, but at least no portion of my anatomy appears to have dissolved.

03 July 2011

Narrative Subsumption

At the present moment, there's a bunch of lengthy discussions going on in various places over how Rebecca Watson noted very publicly that being propositioned in an elevator at 04h00 was an indication of the kind of behavior that discourages women from showing up at atheist conferences, and these discussions are full of the usual total gibbering failure of communication one might expect.

What occurs to me is that much of the process failure, the thing that keeps communication from happening, is that most of those involved are presenting the events as narrative, but by no means the same narrative.  It's a contest to see whose narrative wins, what becomes the accepted story describing the events, and, well, this has a bunch of drawbacks.

First off, events don't form narratives; brains form narratives, and the process must be thought of as lossy compression, because every time someone studies it, they find it's plenty lossy.  ("this is an instance of common pattern, isn't it?  Oh look, there go the inconvenient details..." saith the narrativizing brain.)

Secondly, narrative implies moral judgement; you can't even get to a utilitarian metric, you get to a sort of "what kind of story is this, that such an event would be found therein?" filter, and the discussion, rather than being about events, or even the kind of pattern represented by the events, starts being about the kind of perception appropriate to the kind of story that is said to contain and describe the events, and things have promptly gone too meta to have an actual conversation about. (At least not without a very large common body of terminology already being established.)

Thirdly, and I think most importantly, narrative subsumption is a way to construct hierarchy.  It's a conflict over whose reality map, whose pattern of perception, is considered right, and inescapably about how everyone else's, or every other story, is wrong.  This can be effective (he says, pointing to five thousand years of kings and emperors establishing political legitimacy through connection with official, god-sanctioned narratives describing ideals for society, human behavior, and individual persons) if the goal is to produce conformance to a fixed pattern of authority, but it is an active, ongoing barrier to co-operating in groups, especially flexible groups with situational organization.  (That is, you don't expect a fixed hierarchy to produce people who can handle all the problems; you grant authority relative to skill and past results at solving similar kinds of problem/doing this presently relevant kind of work.)

So, really, actually co-operating in groups—collaborative effort to solve problems—requires something other than a fixed hierarchy. (Just for starters, you probably don't know what the problem really is when you start.  You're going to have to change the people (which people, or what the know how to do) involved in order to actually succeed.)  But narrative subsumption—you must agree with me that this is the right way to tell the story—will only give you a hierarchy, so it won't solve the problem.

So, generally, don't do that.

27 June 2011


Just shy of 570 km and the molding bead down the centre has worn flush with the tyre surface.  It wasn't quite flush—is still not everywhere flush—with that surface at 500km.

I hope this may bode well for the expected lifetime of the tyre.  (Schwalbe Marathon Plus; they have a remarkable reputation, but Toronto has some rather nasty streets.  So I've been finding the reputation cheering.)

The angle, well, with the Experiment in the stand, the front wheel never hangs quite straight.  I could presumably haul out a plumb bob and alight everything so it did, but that would inevitably move the clamp away from its present pleasant "matches the seat post for hoisting purposes" position, and it doesn't seem worth it.

26 June 2011

A Win for Discretion

So instead of going birding or grabbing a camera, I went for a bike ride this morning. (I dread the probable consequences of trying to stick to my end-of-summer trip plans if I don't manage to get into much better shape first.)  The route, well, the route had some issues, especially around getting back from the Birchmont Ave end, but the rolling average stayed above 5m/s and I went a bit further (64, as distinct from the intended 60, km), so I need not be ashamed.
Also, Gerard and Harbord streets early on a Sunday morning, for decadent cosmopolitan "before 10 AM" values of early, are remarkably empty.  This is something to remember for next time.

Just before this picture was taken—I even had the camera out already, I was taking pictures of the fountain, but I didn't notice what was going on until it had more or less happened—the dog, I presume some sort of border collie, waded into the pond at Woodbine Park and attempted to ask a pair of trumpeter swans [1] if they would like to play.  The (presumed) cob swan adopted a particular head posture that I would expect went with a hiss, and whether due to some deeply buried bit of mammalian evolution that still puts in the "that noise? theropod!" association when brains get constructed, or some level of "hey, wait, I am up to my neck in water" discretion, the collie decided that it would be best if it got out of the pond and went back to its people Right Now.
It's not often you seen a collie have quite that much sense.

[1] Squee! in a park! in actual Toronto, not the waterfront urban-wilderness-fringe, even if it was a park just barely inside my idiosyncratic emotional borders for "actual Toronto".  And yes, completely sure; I have some pictures from much smaller distances, and the red bill lining shows in one of them, never mind the long, all black, wedge-shaped bill.

25 June 2011

OFO—Happy Valley

That's not too far off, colour-wise, when the clouds thinned a little and there was a softening of the morning rain.  (By afternoon it was a case of being a bright sky, occasionally intimating that it had not forgotten how to rain.  But for most of the morning it just plain rained, with varying degrees of haste and thoroughness.)  Happy Valley is billed as old-growth; it's not, it's not even particularly close to it, but they're trying, and going the right way.  In another three centuries it will, if undisturbed, start to resemble wildwood.  (Though to really do that they're going to need hundreds of contiguous square kilometers, enough for a stable population of apex predators on the big leaf-munching ungulates.  Given current Canadian demographic trends with regard to urbanization, such may yet come to pass.)

There were birds; surprisingly plentiful birds for the end of June, never mind "for the end of June in the rain".  Some of them—the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the indigo bunting—took on a quality in the scattered, refractive, fluid surrounding of diffuse light a seeming that in clear daylight only in bluebirds and great egrets have, the character of a creature that burns through from some other, more vivid reality, to shine in ours with a fey outline of presumptive solidity that reduce those things behind and around it to the drabber status of backdrop.

19 June 2011

A modest lapse in forethought and planning

I managed to lose a Tubus rack stay through the floor some time ago (rolled under the skirting board, and instead of a minor bit of ragged edge in the flooring and then solid subfloor, there was a hole. I'm still moderately appalled about that hole). So I ordered a replacement via MBS Tandems, who are the local-for-at-least-Ontario values of local Tubus dealer, and can make good on Tubus' policy of making every single part for every rack they sell individually available.
So I thought I should try to cycle up there when the part came in; it was supposed to be the Saturday after the Niagara trip, so it would be a good "keep going at least moderate distances" ride.  Then the Niagara trip didn't happen due to getting hit by a car, and then I didn't get on the bike again for two weeks due to lead times for rim replacement, wheel building, the inescapable interference of work, and necessary maintenance.  ("What is with this nigh-subliminal new-front-wheel wobble? not fender scrub, not the brakes, it's square in the dropouts, not... *ping* goes the front skewer when I elect to see if a bit of tightening will help.  Entirely the sort of thing that is infinitely better to discover on a repair stand than when riding, and I was highly reassured because when I rode the Experiment with rebuilt front wheel back from the LBS something hadn't sounded quite right, and now I had found it.  But there's a certain inescapable delay if one does not stock skewers in the parts kit, which I had not been.  I'm pretty sure the car was the last straw for the skewer; there was a little bit of kink and it didn't go where the nut was.  The SON28 hub continues working without complaint, so I am now officially impressed by their toughness and durability.)

Google said it was about 75km; I thought I about it and figured, that will hurt a bit, but I can do that, and Zingerella was willing to come along, so if I did wind up lying in a ditch somewhere in a state of collapse, there would be someone available to call 911.

Only it turned out to be about not quite 98 km due to routing issues (a combination of "never been there before", "Waterfront Trail signage requires arcane knowledge", and "bicycle relevant traffic stats are hard to come by; perhaps we should go another way, here?").  On what was, I must acknowledge, a really nice day; sunny, usefully (meaning "cooling" and "not actually a headwind") breezy, and relatively low traffic.  (Turns out I drink water at 60ml/km on a nice sunny day, something to keep in mind for the future.)

The Experiment leaning on a tree in Suncor Park, where I elected to stop for a bit and see if lying on the nice cool shady grass would induce my left leg to stop cramping.  (It eventually mostly did, though coming back happened at a much slower rate of advance that going to had done.)

It wasn't Niagara; the time/speed graph looks like seismograph output, courtesy of numerous stop signs, stop lights, and etc.  But it does reassure me that 100km days are doable, and as new-front-wheel tests go, it seems reasonably definitive.

I may need an under-helmet cap of some kind to keep the sun off; my scalp is feeling just a bit scorched this morning.  And the Specialized gloves aren't as sunblocky as I should best prefer, either, but everything else seems to work just fine.  (Though I am going to have to find a way to make something that's quick-energy food (the lead time on the pickup from the mixed nuts seems to be about an hour, which presents timing challenges) and remember to take some, next time I go for that kind of length.)  Zingerella (who has a touring weekend coming up well before I do) managed 16 additional km, what with starting rather distant from my domicile, and both she and the TPB held up better than I did.

15 June 2011

Live View

The zebra enclosure is such that taking pictures through the fence is kinda challenging; the traditional solution is to  hold the camera over the fence and use live view focusing on the rear LCD.  I am pleased to report that the K5 (unlike the K20D) seems to manage this pretty well.  Have to try attaching it to a telescope next.

And yes, it really is that green; lots of rain and several warm weeks have encouraged the vegetable kingdom.