Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mixed meals

I was trying a Trader Joe's Indian dish--Punjab-something--Spicy, with Chickpeas and other stuff. I put it over rice, and it was pretty good, but needed a little extra. Wife was having a pork chop, so I diced a bit and tossed it in--Excellent, although I have to admit not particularly authentic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gun Control (for Death Wore a Feathered Mullet readers)

This is the continuation of a discussion from Death Wore a Feathered Mullet. Since he wasn't interested in continuing, I don't think it would be polite to use his blog

I may be wrong on the fight with a sibling--I was under the impression that a physical fight with any household member was automatically domestic violence, but after a bit of research the definition appears to be slightly narrower.

A 250 pound psycho who wants to beat or kill his ex should be assured his ex can't defend herself? Protective orders just help with the aftermath, they do almost nothing to protect the victim.

Most gun people would be fine with gun laws equivilant to car laws--you need a license to take one out in public, but you can have as many as you want unlicensed on private property. Gun Education as a high-school class? I'm not sure about 16 year olds being allowed to carry...

You can cut hair without a license, you only need the license to do it professionally for money.

I'm libertarian rather than conservative, so I can't speak for them. My view: Police should have the tools to deal with criminals decisively, but policies that prevent those tools from being abused against the law-abiding.

Scarlet Hip: We already have the
National Instant Check System for background checks. This is a telephone system every gun dealer is required to use. It generally takes about 5 minutes. Some states have waiting periods in addition to the NICS check. I don't have a problem with the background checks themselves, as long as they don't wind up being used for other purposes.

Waiting periods mean I have to make a second trip to the gun shop. Not too bad if it is nearby, but I've bought guns while visiting halfway across the state. I'm also immature enough to want to play with my new toy right away. If there's a good reason I could deal without too much grumbling, but I don't think "cooling off" periods beyond what is needed for a background check do anything but add yet another layer of inconvenience.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Went to two different thanksgivings, and managed to not stuff myself to the point of pain at either of them. That is really hard for me at Mom's, she makes too many different delicious things.

My daughter's kitten, and Brother's Golden Retriever were visiting. The kitten is extraordinarily patient, and my nephew is extraordinarily good with cats for a 2 year old-They sat together for 20 minutes at a time. The Golden was interested in the cat, but frightened. She would sniff, then bark. When the Golden barked, Mom and Dad's small Pekingese mix would come running from the other room barking, to see what the excitement was about. The cat ignored all of it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Honest Deception

I was going to do a rant on some of the deliberate flaws in Excel--I've got it half done, but I can't manage to make it interesting, so there it sits.

This morning, I opened my mail to find an "Item Expiration notice" from Godaddy. A vague product descripton about "Complete Email Renewal", with no mention of the domain name this is attached to, then dire boilerplate warnings about losing your domain. The "item" in this case is webmail for a domain I bought my daughter as a gift a few years ago, but it would be difficult to know from the mail they sent.

Excel has a bunch of "flaws" that make it difficult to work with .csv files. .csv stands for Comma Separated Variable, a simple way of storing tables in a text file The one I deal with the most is that you have to jump through hoops to get it to retain leading zeros in numbers. Most of Microsoft Office makes it difficult to use the file formats of older versions. One of the versions of Word (2000, I think) would let you "save as" Word 97 format, but you had to do that every single time-It would not save in the original format without being told, and it would give an error "This file already exists, do you want to replace?"

Sony's minidisk players were amazing in their day--When MP3 players had limited and expensive memory, their minidisks were a fraction of the cost of flash. However, they had a major flaw--They used a proprietary format. Eventually they came out with a player that said "MP3" in big letters on the packaging. When you got to the fine print, there was software to convert MP3 to the Sony format--Very buggy, and when it did work, it was extraordinarily complicated.

I'm convinced that this sort of thing is deliberately designed to be confusing. In Microsoft's case, it makes it difficult to use older versions of files, therefore difficult to avoid upgrading to newer versions of their software. Godaddy could easily explain exactly exactly what you are about to lose, but instead you have scary messages--Better to just pay the $10 rather than risk losing the domain. Sony shows the conflict of buying hardware from a music company--The hardware side knows consumers want MP3 hardware, but the music label side hates the MP3 format.

These companies are being honest without being ethical.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Money Management

This has more to do with gathering thoughts than a real-live post. Someone has asked me how to manage money--Not sure why they pick me as a mentor in this particular subject, but I'll do what I can. The particular case is about barely over minimum wage management, not day trading or house flipping.

The concepts of managing money aren't complicated--Pay close attention to income and spending, manage risks and prioritize.

Spending priorities:

1. Keeping your job.
2. Generic food--NOT restaurant food. not convenience food.
3. Shelter.
4. Limited clothing
5. Emergency reserve

Circumstances may shuffle these a little. If you can't afford these, there's a good chance it is because you didn't prioritize properly earlier.

Tasty food, entertainment, cool clothing is all way down on the list, although with imagination you can afford at least some of each.


You're buying money with your time, you use the money to buy other stuff--Mostly the products of other people's time. Get to work a bit early, so if something delays you, you get there on time anyhow. I show up for work. I think I average less than a day per year missed. I don't push limits at work. This means that I survive staff reductions, and if I do screw up badly, I'm liable to get more leeway.

Auctions, garage sales and thrift stores are good ways to get stuff cheap--Clothing, small appliances, and household goods. Be creative--Do you need a stove, or can you make do with a hotplate and a toaster oven for a while?

Learn to fix stuff. I'm not entirely sure how far others can take this advice--I don't know if I've got a talent so I fix stuff, or if I've gained the talent by fixing stuff. I suspect both. If you're going to throw it away because it is broken, you might as well try to figure out what is wrong with it--Even if you fail, chances are you will learn something that will make it easier to fix the next thing.

A crock pot is a nearly essential tool for cheap cooking--Most good, cheap food takes a long time to cook. Learn to like stuff made with dry beans--Cheap, easy and nutritious. Ham and beans, chili, 15 bean soup. Cut the meat to a minimal amount--consider it a flavoring, rather than a main ingredient. You would have to try hard to not get enough protein in the US. In general, ready to eat foods are the most expensive, completely from scratch the cheapest.

Take care of your stuff. Keep a set of clothing when you might get greasy or dirty, not your work clothes. Don't leave your bike in the rain, keep it oiled.

Figure out what it really costs to have a car--You may need one for a better job, but you might also be better off taking less pay within walking or bicycle distance.

A bicycle is real transportation.

Don't smoke.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My wife with our dogs, from the front page of the local newspaper:

Bella's second appearance on the front page, Angie's first.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Non-elitest guide to bigger bikes

In the 70's, there wasn't all that much difference between a department store bike and a low-end bike shop bike. Same basic components-Usually Ashtabula cranks, on American made bikes, cottered steel cranks on low-end imports. Chrome-plated steel rims. Brakes would be decent alloy side-pull on 3 speeds and some 10 speeds. Center-pull brakes were considered a step up on 10 speeds. Both were OK on the relatively narrow wheels used, neither would work well in the rain with the chrome rims. The bike store bike might have thicker metal in the bearing cups and other slightly more durable parts. It would be assembled and adjusted better--a bigger improvement than you'd think, and responsible for much of the apparent quality difference.

In the late 80's and 90's, Ashtabula cranks and then steel rims faded away in adult bike store bikes, replaced by cotterless cranks and aluminum rims. Meanwhile, department store bikes got worse, at least at the low end. Mountain bikes became fashionable. This led to much wider tires and rims, not suitable for the sidepull caliper brakes that were still used. To compound the problem, the calipers got cheaper and flimsier becoming stamped steel rather than cast aluminum. Other parts had many of the same problems--The gauge of metal used in bearings got thinner and weaker, more plastic in inappropriate places, and general cost cutting. Some of these bikes are still sold.

Lately, however the better department store bikes have been improving drastically. Pacific Cycle has been largely responsible for this trend. While bike snobs will (correctly) complain that the Schwinn and Mongoose bikes that they now sell at Walmart aren't as good as before the brands were bought by Pacific, it is also true that they are considerably better than the best you used to find outside a specialty shop. You can get aluminum rims and cantilever or direct pull brakes, both making braking a lot better, especially in the rain, especially with fat tires. Shifting is usually 21 speed index, and far more aluminum parts are used.

In a previous post, I talked about the first bike I bought myself in the 70's, a basic 10 speed as cheap as I could find. I just bought a low-end adult bike as a gift (because I couldn't find a decent used bike in time) and it cost less, and had better features than that mid 70's 10 speed.

If you are close to average men's or woman's size, you can get a fairly decent bike at a mass market store. It will not be assembled as well as a bike from a specialty shop, but most of that is easily corrected with basic tools and a bit of knowledge. These aren't suitable for off-road or high-performance use, but will do fine for basic transportation and recreation within their limits. The biggest problem is fit--If you are the size of an average woman, you will be stuck with a woman's style frame--an engineering compromise resulting in a heavier, weaker frame to allow riding with a dress. If you are a large man, you won't find a bike big enough. If you don't match the stock sizes, you will have to compromise significantly.

A modern bike with hand brakes should have aluminum rims. There used to be well-made steel rims, some with patterned sides to give better rain performance. Since the 1980s, steel rims are just cheap. Aluminum is stronger, lighter and brakes better especially in the rain.

Brakes should be cantilever or direct-pull except for the thinnest road tires. There are now very few department store bikes with wheels and tires narrow enough for side pull brakes.

An adult bike used for more than riding on flat ground should have gears. It is better if it is index (clicks into gear), although that is nearly universal on new bikes now.

Ashtabula cranks are still used. They are much heavier, but work fine. I'm enough of a snob to insist on cotterless for my bikes, but I've also got several bikes already. More important is the right crank length. 170mm is standard, and is unfortunately used even on cheaper bikes meant for smaller people, where a 160 or 165mm would be more appropriate.

Most people would do better with far less tread if their riding is limited to pavement . Because of the long oval contact patch and relatively low speeds, even on wet pavement bicycle tire tread is unnecessary and adds rolling resistance--tread is necessary with a car's rectangular contact patch, wider width and higher speeds.  Putting slick or semi-slick tires on a mountain bike with knobby tires is likely the best bang for the buck upgrade. Be cautious of sizes--a 26x1.75 tire is not the same as a 26x1-3/4. You can usually replace a tire with a wider or narrower version, as long as the replacement is the same (decimal or fraction) as the original.

The more aluminum parts, the better. Frame materials are largely irrelevant. Most mid-grade frames are now aluminum, but steel is still used at both ends of the price scale. Slant-parallelogram derailers are better than straight, (although this example is of an older top of the line derailer) but not by a huge amount. A derailer mounted to the frame rather than held on by a claw is better. Quick release wheels are nice, especially front.

Adult bikes typically come in road (what most people would consier a racing bike, the traditional "ten speed" type) mountain and Hybrid.  Hybrids are the most useful for most people-more comfortable than a road bike, but easier to pedal than a mountain bike.

Suspension in a department store bike is almost entirely for looks, increases weight, adds reliability problems, and does not improve performance. It is unfortunate that bike makers will often add suspension before they go to aluminum wheels--I wound up buying from Target rather than Walmart because of this.

What did I wind up buying? A Magna from Target. 15 speeds, aluminum rims with bolt-on hubs, a quick-release seat, an almost nothing else. Paint had problems--I found the one with the least scrapes. The rear derailer had the limit screw adjusted wrong so it woudn't shift right into low gear, and the front derailer was crooked. Only took a few minutes to re-adjust if you know what to look for, but it is stuff you wouldn't have to deal with on a bike store bike.

Later: The Magna has some other issues--A shifter screw came loose, the rear bearing cone came loose, and the freewheel snapped a couple teeth. The freewheel was possibly abuse, the rest is poor quality. Don't know that I'd recommend one, but I don't know what in the price range would be better

If you want a road bike there are fantastic bargains available at garage sales and thrift stores, generally priced less than a newer but lower-quality department store bike. I mean a bike that was originally $500+, still in good condition for $25 or less.

No-fuss two-wheeler training

The easiest, no fuss way to teach a child (or actually anyone) to ride a two wheeler. This assumes they can pedal a bike or trike:

  1. Start with a bike small enough that the seat can be set to allow feet flat or nearly flat on the ground while seated.
  2. Remove the pedals and training wheels. (One pedal will be reverse-threaded, turning backwards)
  3. Let them ride until they are balancing. For a kid in the summer, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. They will probably start with very little coasting between foot pushes. Eventually there will be long periods of coasting between pushes, this means they are ready.
  4. Put the pedals back, or move to the bigger bike.

That's all there is to it! This is easiest when a child is fairly young, and won't feel silly without pedals. An excellent time to do this is when a child has outgrown their current bike and is ready for the next size--both my kids did this when outgrowing the smallest size sidewalk bike.
Both my kids did this when they went from 12 inch wheels to 16 inch.
If you aren't going to be using the outgrown bike again, it will be slightly easier for the kid if you remove the crank and chain as well as the pedals.

Non-elitest guide to department store bikes: Sidewalk bikes

The most important features are

  1. Proper fit. The child should be able to (barely) reach the ground with their toes. If they can stand nearly flat-footed while on the seat, the seat is too low. If the seat cannot be adjusted higher and they are still on training wheels, that is a good time to use the painless two-wheeler training method. They must be able to stand over the frame.
  2. Bearings in the headset (fork bearings) rather than bushings. Bushings stick, and make it far harder to balance. If you don't plan to transition to a two-wheeler on this bike, bushings are less of a problem, but with the painless two-wheeler method, even a child who can only manage the smallest sidewalk bike can learn to ride two wheels nearly effortlessly.
  3. Brakes. A few bikes have no ability to coast and no brakes. These can be easily recognized--Most will say "no brakes" on them, and when you pedal backwards, the back wheel goes backwards. Skip these.

Nice but not essential:

  1. Bearings in the crank and wheels: These will last longer and pedal easier, but won't interfere with learning to ride.
  2. Auxiliary handbrake: Hand brakes should not be the only brakes on a sidewalk bike, but can be useful for the transition to a two-wheeler, especially if there are hills in the training area.
  3. Air tires: Easier to pedal and faster, but can get flats. Foam tires don't go flat, but ride rougher and slower.

Silly stuff:

  1. Suspension. Looks neat, but should be counted the same as paint, or "motorcycle" look plastic. May cause extra mechanical problems, and makes the bike taller and less suited for a smaller child.

Luckily, bushings seem to have gone away in sidewalk bikes, or at least the ones with brakes. To tell if a bike has bushings in the headset: Look at a bigger department store bike, and look at the area where the handlebar stem connects--That is what a proper inexpensive headset should look like. The stem should go into a large nut that holds the fork to the frame. If the stem and handlebar are one piece, and a set screw holds them in, it probably has bushings. (I tried to find pictures of a good department store headset, but Google only had high-end bikes in the first few pages)

Cranks with bushings will generally have a roll pin instead of nuts holding them to the frame.

Cheaper bikes will have thick welded spokes, instead of standard thin tensioned spokes.


I remember buying my first 10 speed. I was in grade school, and it was with my own money. The Sunday newspaper had a Gold Circle ad with a Sunn 10 speed for around $60--I could afford it! Dad took me to the nearest Gold Circle, and we found that they were in a different district, and that bike wasn't on sale there yet. I don't remember if we waited, or if Dad took me to Dayton, but eventually I wound up with the bike--Unassembled. I did a lousy job, and Dad took it to a student who was into cycling who tuned it up and replaced the derailleur with a better one. I had a dented rim, which meant the back wheel would lock and skid in the same spot every time, quickly wearing a hole. I don't remember what happened to it, but eventually I bought a used Schwinn Sports-Touring from the same guy.

The Sports-Touring was a fantastic bike for the time. It was built on the "handmade" department at Schwinn. Fillet Brazed of straight-gauge chrome-moly steel with reinforcing sleeves at the joints, using very good Japanese alloy components. Mine was aftermarket nickle-plated, with Suntour bar-con shifters at the end of the handlebars and toe clips. Extremely cool for a Junior High kid, when racing bikes were the style. Mine was a 21" frame--Just a bit smaller than the standard adult men's bike, suitable for my junior high size. Typical of Schwinn marketing at the time, there was little explanation of the superiority when compared to the standard heavy Schwinn frame used by Continentals and Varsities.

I remember having to look carefully at sidewalk bikes for my kids, to find ones with actual bearings instead of bushings. Bearings in the headset ("handlebar bearings") are essential for learning balance--A bushing will make it a lot harder to balance. Crank bearings are mostly a durability issue, and not as important. One of my daughter's small bikes had spatter paint over the bearing cups, inside the bearings--The paint immediately flaked off and mixed with the grease. Even with that flaw, it was the best for the price.

I've recently bought two new department store bikes as gifts--The first two I've bought since my kid's sidewalk bikes. I'm fairly surprised at what is available now. Lots of crap, but there are actually some bikes that meet my standards, at prices less than I paid in the 70's.

To come: Non-elitist guide to department store bikes

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Series review: The Chanur books by Cherryh

This is one of my favorites. The main character for the first 4 books is Pyanfar Chanur, of the species Hani. She is the captain of a private trading ship, "The Pride of Chanur" (usually shortened to "the Pride") in Compact Space.

There are a handful of species in Compact space, which doesn't include humans. The 3 methane breathing species have the most technologically advanced ships and share space stations, but communication is nearly impossible--Only one will communicate understandably to oxygen breathers, and they somewhat translate for the others.

The oxygen breathers are diverse. The Hani are feline, with a social structure similar to a pack of lions. Males are the head of clans, with leadership determined by physical prowess. Hani are the most recent species in space, and their society has not yet adapted. A clan leader will have several wives. Many adult males will not survive, and males are not considered stable enough to do useful work. As a result, only the Hani women are in space.

The Mahendo'sat are primates, and are responsible for bringing Hani to space.

Stsho are non-violent to the point of hiring guards from other species. When threatened they will "phase"--Their personality will fragment and they will become a different person, without the memories of their previous personality. They are essentially the economic leaders of the Compact.

The Kif society is based on competition, without the concept of loyalty. A Kif leader who finds himself losing will often be killed by his crew who will then join the winning side. This is considered proper in Kif society. They prey on other species when possible.

The first book (The Pride of Chanur) is a stand-alone story. Tully, the first human in Compact space escapes from the Kif and takes refuge in The Pride. Pyanfar refuses to give him back. This sets off a war with a faction of the Kif, who destroy several uninvolved Hani ships and set The Pride running and manipulating, trying to save both clan and species interests.

The second (Chanur's Venture), third (The Kif Strike Back) and fourth (Chanur's Homecoming) books are a single story-Don't start one unless you've got all three. The Pride is trying to recover from incidents in the first book. At the end of the first book, Pyanfar's husband was defeated and chased off his estate. Pyanfar brings him to space, the first male Hani. Tully returns --This time making contact with the Mahendo'sat who secretly turn him over to Pyanfar. Kif threaten the Hani homeworld, and Pyanfar is the only one able to deal with this threat.

The fifth book is a standalone, some time after the first 4. Pyanfar has become one of the Compact's most important people. Her niece Hilfy is now the clan leader, and has her own ship, "Chanur's Legacy". Male Hani are starting to venture into space. The Legacy picks up a male Hani that has been abandoned by its crew, and take a very complex contract to deliver a Stsho artifact, without fully understanding the contract written in Stsho. The terms wind up sending The Legacy on a wild goose chase with a Stsho passenger. One of the things I like is that this book doesn't try to be even more intense and important than the previous ones. The first 4 books had the potential of wiping out the entire Hani species if things went wrong. The fifth book is primarily around the survival of the Legacy and the Chanur clan--Still intense and fast paced, but not artificially enhanced.

Complaints: Humans and Stsho need to be drugged to deal with hyperspace. Hani who have never met humans have compatible drugs available in appropriate dosages, without experimentation.

The scale doesn't feel interplanetary. Space stations hold a couple hundred ships at most. The shops have a feel of bazaar or flea market. The feeling is that there are a few thousand sentients in space. With this scale, space transport would be limited to luxury goods, but they mention carrying bulk food as well.

The fifth book was obviously written after the author became aware of computer viruses and trojans, and avoiding these is a minor and distracting plot point.

The final complaint is the organization of the omnibus editions of the book. It contains the first three novels of the series instead of the more logical arrangement that would contain the second story complete.

A good thing is that you can use the first book as a sample-If you are like me, a book has to be really bad before I'll abandon it before the end. Here you can get a good sample of the style in one book. If it doesn't suit, you can stop after the first.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I had a great-aunt who was in almost all ways a sweet and kind person. When she was in her 80's, she talked about going to visit the old people in the nursing home nearby.

She was also a racist.

When my uncle came back from WWII, he started a candy store in Chicago. It did well, and he ran it until the late 70's. They lived over the store, originally in a middle class white neighborhood. Like much of the inner city, the neighborhood deteriorated. The mostly middle class whites moved out, and poor, mostly blacks moved in. They started having problems with bums and panhandlers, and the store was robbed at gunpoint several times. They still had a good business, mostly selling to the families that had lived there in the 50's and 60's who would come back for their traditional Christmas and Easter candy. Finally, they decided to sell the business and retire to the suburbs. The best offer they had for the business including the building and the fixtures was less than they made from it in a year.

My aunt rarely (if ever) met middle-class blacks. From her point of view, the blacks moved in, chased the whites out and everything went to hell. I tried once to explain to her that the problems were economic and not racial--The blacks I knew from my small town were pretty average. Some of them decent, some of them nasty, but in about the same proportions as whites. She was polite about that, but not convinced.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Classic Politics

I can get along with most views described as 'classically conservative'. Fred Thompson isn't perfect, but I think he'd make a better president than we've had for quite a long time--This from someone who's never voted republican for president.

'Classically liberal' is often used to describe libertarianism, which matches my views closer than any other one-sentence description.

Somehow "classically liberal" and "classically conservative" are closer to each other than they are to "liberal" or "conservative".

What happened to modern politics?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Book (series) review-Honor Harrington

Short review--A really good space opera in desperate need of an editor.

Yes, it is a space opera. Entertaining, with no deep meaning and little subtlety. The basic story: Honor Harrington is an officer in the Manticorian space navy with amazing ability in almost everything but romance. Manticore is a constitutional monarchy with an extremely productive economy and very high standard of living. The enemy is the People's republic of Haven, a multi-planetary government where the "doleists" are the majority of the population--Unproductive, stupid and mostly useless, but the government feels that they need to be kept satisfied with an increasing "basic living stipend". They can't support this without continually taking over new star systems. We start after they have taken over all the easy ones, and have set their sites on Manticore.

While the Peep system is evil, many of the individual officers are honorable and decent people. Even the "head peep" is to some extent trapped by circumstance, and believes the evil things he does are justified, in order to get real reforms.

A secondary plot line is the modernization of the planet Grayson. When we are first introduced to Grayson, they are a fairly recently rediscovered religious colony. For an initially unknown reason, there are several times more women than men born. The planet is contaminated by heavy metals, and requires massive effort to survive, but women aren't a meaningful part of the workforce until Honor comes in and shakes things up.

It feels to me that Grayson wasn't initially intended to be a major part of the story. Their progress both militarily and especially socially is unrealistically rapid, giving the impression that once it was realized their role was increased they needed to be transformed from backwards fanatics to something more easily sympathized with.

The most annoying issue is exposition. Lots of speeches that start "I know most of us already know all about...but explain it again from the beginning for those who don't". The explanation will be more detailed than necessary to advance the plot. Space battles are described in a way that feels like the author is saying 'go ahead and check--All these maneuvers and positions are actually possible'. At a scene change the viewpoint sometimes switches to mid battle, only to find it is a simulation. Characters will have long internal monologues, and situations will be dire, oh so dire, could it get any worse...Yes it can, I don't know if I can handle any more, but duty requires that I continue, have I mentioned that this is a dire, nearly hopeless situation... There is also heavy-handed political commentary that too obviously pokes at real-world liberal views.

Some of my complaints may be because I've got the series on my PDA, and have re-read it more often than I would if it were traditional paper books of similar quality. Despite my complaints, it is a series worth reading, at least the first time. Available as a legal free E-book.

Adult trikes

My wife is borrowing her mom's adult trike, to make it easier to walk the dogs with her bad ankle. It looks strange, but it works--She takes the dogs through the alley to the bike path while riding the trike, from there to the river where they can go off leash.

The trike is a Walmart special, a Worksman Trifecta. I'm not impressed. It started grinding, and when I investigated, I found that one of the bearings has chewed itself, because the rear axle shifted. There's nothing to center the axle except the chain and side loading of the cheap bearings--If I remember right, this type of bearing isn't designed to handle side loads.

I was able to swap the chewed bearing with the one in the drive wheel, which is used as a bushing instead of a bearing. Don't know what I can do to prevent this from happening again. also sells a Schwinn adult trike for a few dollars more. I haven't seen it in person. Schwinn is nowhere near the brand it was even 10 years ago, but I'd get it over the Worksman just based on the internet pictures.

Adult trikes are surprisingly hard to get used to for someone who rides a bicycle. When you steer a bike (or motorcycle) you countersteer--First steer away from the direction you want to go. This doesn't work on a trike. To make matters worse, the trikes at work have one drive wheel in the back, and the coaster brake is on the drive wheel. The first time I rode one was at work--I wound up crashing into an electric flatbed truck.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Strange stuff at the dog park

I had the day off, and we decided to take the dogs to the dog park. Stranger than usual people there.

First was a very unconvincing and slightly drunk transvestite. She wasn't Halloween-costume bad, but "WTF?" from 15 yards. Bad makeup--Lips were purple-red with a slightly uneven black outline. Horrible auburn wig that didn't match her dark eyebrows, in addition to the large adam's apple. Dressed in a skirt suit, with high heels, completely inappropriate to the dog park, which is 95% steep hill. The suit didn't match the pierced tongue, either. Oralia said "Gross" about our dog Bella chewing on a muddy tennis ball. The transvestite said "Are you talking about my dog's poop? Because it has been runny. I don't know why it's runny, I feed him...." On and on, not listening at all when Oralia said no, that's not what she was talking about. Several other inappropriate remarks, then she left. She was drinking something from a travel cup and a straw. I'm not sure if the cup or her breath was heavily alcohol laden, but I could smell it from 8 feet away.

After the transvestite left, one of the regulars said 'Oh, shit, there's the crazy lady'. Older woman with a cane and a boxer. Woman couldn't control the boxer to the point where it was biting at her, and she was whacking it with her cane. This increased the dog's aggressive behavior. Not the first time according to the regulars. Several were discussing camera phones and video, to get the dog taken from her. The dog was fine with everyone else. Lots of people trying to give her advice. I hope she gets real help, because otherwise that dog will wind up mauling her and will have to be put to sleep.