31 May 2014

It was nice while it lasted

The Hypothesis looks very blue in the Oakville GO Station
I gave up going west at Oakville, having realized I was going to have to ride on roads at rush hour, something devoutly to be avoided.

This is the last point in time I'm sure the 50t chainring wasn't bent.  It's not very bent now, after another ~60km, but it's got visible wobble.  Have to see how long it stays usable, and if Surly stainless rings work better.

UPDATE - I'm a turnip.  SO FAR, stress so far, the 50t chainring is fine.  The rear derailleur (I blame fixing the flat), on the other hand, was a bit out of wack and wiggling the chain line.  That I can manage to fix when I grow enough neurons to notice.

I learnt something

At the OFO "see shorebirds with help!" at Hillman Marsh on May 5, the shorebirds were not especially co-operative.  (Four species.)  There were, however, buckets of ducks and at least one interesting gull.

GO trains fine, freight trains and everybody flies 
If you're very bored, you could try aging all the herring gulls
Probable first cycle Lesser Black-backed gull (upper bird)
I am pleased to report that the field marks for that gull -- a first-cycle Lessser Black-backed -- seem to have stuck.  The mouth of Lower Highland Creek is erratic for gulls; it depends on what this year's sandbars look like.

This year, there's a couple of big washed-down trees, and lots of gulls.  Mostly ring-bills, an unusually high proportion of herring gulls (the immature have to hang out with the ring-bills during breeding season?), and, well -- white undertail, pink legs, black bill, very dark mantle with some actual black colouring, particularly around the eyes, and slightly smaller than a herring gull, all visible in this bird.  "Distinct tail band" not visible but I'm willing to go with Lesser Black-backed anyway.

30 May 2014

Missed the fishy

Ring-billed gull bobbing to the surface after plunge-diving
Not all the gulls were missing; a number flew by will small silvery fish and several other hopeful gulls in pursuit.  (It's apparently tricky to flip a fish around in your beak to achieve the proper head-first position for fish-devouring while you're flying, because some gulls do drop the fish; the pursuers are presumably hoping to encourage a flub and a dropped fish, because then it might be their fish.)

And they weren't too keen on trains, but that's a different picture.

29 May 2014

What Aoife actually looks like

Aoife perched over one of the office partition doorways
Or at least as close as I've ever managed to get a photograph to come.

Eef really likes that doorway; it grants a nicely elevated view of my desk, me, and any processes of typing as may be involved, and it's directly accessible from the top of the dresser where the crunchy food is provided.

First flat with Marathons

Bicycle tyre showing embedded foreign object
In this case, Marathon Supremes.  Still, first puncture since 2011 isn't especially terrible.

object extracted from bike tyre
No idea what it is; it's not ferrous, and under a ten power hand lens looks decidedly porous, like clinker slag or some kinds of volcanic glass.  This is the fresh face; I have to suppose I got really unlucky with how some road gravel fractured.

Changing the tyre was no problem; I've been carrying spare tubes and tyre levers since 2011, too.  Forgetting the old tube, all neatly rolled up and back in the bag, is embarrassing, and I'm going to start carrying a magnet because fishing half the master link out of the grass wasn't fun at all.  The incumbent pliers, on the other hand, managed the task of extracting the sharp object from the tyre nearly perfectly.

27 May 2014

The alleged utility of perserverance

40cm rack struts with a single 90° bend
Repurpose unsatisfactory bar tape to muffle the thumping
Dill Pickle bag on the rack
I still don't know that it will work, in the sense of no ping noise after a substantial rolling distance, but it might.

(The thumping needs muffling because it's a big bag with a plywood bottom stiffener, and one can never winch the straps tight enough to prevent all movement when one of the impressive array of road hazards manages to kick one's front tire good and hard.

Mid-fork front light mount
Didn't leave a way to attach this particular light to the Mark's Rack, at least not without a metal-fabrication exercise to produce some kind of stirrup mount for the (obscured by bar tape) front tab bolt hole.  I nigh-certainly need to mess with the light angle and wire restraint but this seems simpler all round.

Bending Fail

Lamentably mangled Nitto-style rack struts
The small tube bender bends in one orientation, and only one; it's very good at that, but compound angles are not available, no matter how clever one thinks one is being when constraining the rotation of the non-bending end of the stay.

25 May 2014

Not bad for a little pocket camera

Purple tulips
Someone's front yard tulips, in glorious sunshine on Saturday.  (Which appears to have been the last day of actual spring; we're in to summer temperatures.)

23 May 2014

Appropriating the scunge-floats

nesting Red-necked Grebe
This is off one of the subsidiary parks of Lakefront Promenade Park in Mississauga.  The loopy stuff is a floating barrier to prevent bad things in the run-off  from getting out into the lake.  (The grebe, sensible creature, is on the lake side, if only just.)

The pair at Colonel Sam never seems to have a success; I hope this pair does better.

22 May 2014

That lamentable ping noise

It's lovely out, so I went for a bike ride.
Was just stopping in Port Credit -- JC Saddington Park, specifically -- for lunch when the ping noise happened, so in that respect this was extremely fortunate.  Having it happen at speed would have been unfortunate.

Brittle failure
Yay for carrying lots of medium cable ties
Took the train mostly home; the front bag can be strapped to the rear rack, but the rear rack is not meant to have top cargo, it's narrow, and I didn't want to give the tension-in-place expediency avoidable opportunities to rattle loose.  Made it home in the absence of disaster or further destruction, so I'm going to call that a good decision.

I suspect the prior ride's outbreak of a single loose front rack stay, and consequent rattling, was no help at all (it did take me awhile to figure out that that noise was), but the fundamental problem remains the very long single support strut.  The rack takes four stays, I'm not using the rear ones (aside from one that's a hack of a light mount) and maybe I can do something sensible with P-nutsclamps, to the extent that one can ever do anything sensible with P-nutsclamps, instead of the centre mount point.

Learning to weld is getting much more tempting, I must say.

20 May 2014

Catching lunch

A mink, off the Centre Island offshore breakwater.

What most impressed me was not the efficiency with which it snagged three small fish, probably goby (and a good thing, too, because there's a surplus and goby are an invasive) but that the circling gulls didn't even dip down to look at fish one and fish two while fish three was being fetched.  It takes something to get seagulls to respect your claim to a small fish.

19 May 2014

Horse colour terminology warblers

Spring male Chestnut-sided warbler
Like the Bay-breasted, the Chestnut-sided's name refers to horse colour terminology.  I'm glad there isn't a roan warbler or a grey warbler, but can mostly handle these two.  And when they were named it wouldn't have been the least bit obscure, and at least the bird really is chestnut-sided.

Hundred percent crop, and the bokeh-ghosts of various other sticks give some indication why I'm pleased it's in focus at all.  Also from Trinity Bellwoods Park.

18 May 2014

Diligent contemplations

One never knows just what the cat is contemplating
Aoife responds to me leaving the apartment with irritation; often, when I get back, she'll be lurking under the coat rack to make a dash for the corridor.  (Given the position of the coat rack, the instant the door is open a cat-width, a cat under the coat rack can exploit the gap.)

Once there, there's a particular section where the texture of the concrete is ideal, or something, and there's a lot of rolling.  It might be a territorial assertion, it might be a claim that I'm not really necessary, it's not at all obvious from my limited simian perspective just how I ought to understand this.

I do know that there are sometimes complaining noises, and they won't stop until I offer to pet her nose.

17 May 2014

Karmic fallout

Today's TOC — Toronto Ornithological Club — bird walk was on the Toronto Islands.  It was nearly charmed; an enormous variety of warblers (two shy of the location checklist) accompanied by a plethora of tannangers and orioles and vireos, and the good vireos; Warbling vireo was well into "what, another?" by the end of the day, everybody got a good look at a Blue-headed vireo, and there was a pair of Yellow-throated Vireo, with the male more or less posing carefully to be sure both profiles could be properly appreciated.

This came with a side of flycatchers, egrets, ducks, and extremely co-operative cliff swallows, pausing on clear ground in excellent light to pick up dead road margin grass for nest linings.

So when a TOC compatriot very kindly asked me afterwards if I wanted to come along and try for the Connecticut Warbler being reported at Tommy Thompson Park, rather than go straight home and feed Eef[1] I said yes.

This has been a thoroughgoing nemesis bird for said compatriot; nine years, and not one, despite a commendable level of diligence.   So expectations were not high, especially since the directions lead into the Wet Woods in vague and hopeful tones, an area already if not devoid of landmarks than not suited to specificity.
Connecticut warbler, that notorious skulker
There are a lot more pictures, most of them with focus issues, because even the excellent autofocus in the Fuji F900 isn't having a good time with a small moving creature in a thicket.  The bird was in good view for half an hour, actively feeding for nearly all of that time.

It leaves me feeling like I just benefited from someone's accumulated nine years of missing birds snapping and becoming the good kind of bird luck.

Even if I did start today on effectively no sleep, neighbours whose party didn't manage to end until after 02h00, and having black water back up into my bathroom.

(Averages. There is something much more comfortable about averages, than the extremes that go into the averages.)

[1] gooshy food has been provided.  Things have been thrown.  Eef has ensconced herself behind the monitor, and all is well, even if I did go away for a solid twelve continuous hours.

16 May 2014

Didn't get the chimney swifts

Did get a Bay-breasted warbler, to my considerable astonishment, in Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

And a chestnut-sided and a yellow-rumped and a couple of catbirds and it was three in the afternoon.  Should try to get there just about dawn sometime soon.

(There were at least five chimney swifts, a way high up and fluttering in the diligent and focused way which suggests they have found bugs to eat.)

14 May 2014

Central Canada

There are a lot of places like this.  I don't really believe I'm still attached to the earth if I don't manage to see some of it every now and again, which makes me glad I get up to Carden. (And probably will again in June, for the point count.)

No idea

But there were a lot of these flowers blooming, and I like the colour.

12 May 2014

Book info update

The March North on Kobo
The March North is now available on Kobo (and by extension Chapters/Indigo), so for any of you who prefer that platform, there you go.  (My thanks to the diligent processing gnomes at Kobo who got whatever it was sorted out.)

The bad news is that there won't be a Kindle edition; Amazon only cuts cheques when the sales-per-territory goes over $100 USD, and that's not likely to happen.  (To get electronic funds transfer I need a bank account at a chartered bank, which is well over 100 CAD/annum.)  So it's not even vaguely economically rational for me to put the book up on Amazon.

The good news is that there is no DRM on either the Google or the Kobo versions, so you can download a usable instance of the book, and your kindle device ought to read EPUB just fine.

UPDATE:  while there is no DRM on the Kobo version, you can't download it.   You can download the Google version.