Thursday, July 28, 2011

Instructions and translations

We've all seen them... instructions that were clearly translated from another language, phrased in such a way as to cause confusion and sometimes mirth.  Well, today I ran across a good one...

A new Canon multi-function printer... in the setup manual, in the very first step, where they tell you to remove the various bits of tape and packing material, complete with illustrations.  There's a little note that says: "The tape and protective materials may differ in shape and position from what they actually are."

Huh??????????? Now there's a metaphysical mystery... how can something differ from what it actually is?  Hmmmmm...

Now I know they MEANT to say that the pictures of the packing material might be different from the actual items, but...

We all got a good chuckle out of that one.

But nothing will ever beat the gooseneck flashlight instructions I once read... it had a rotary switch on the lens, marked with an arrow in the direction you were to turn the switch... and the instructions read:

"Turn as an arrow, again and again, but not to conversely."

Sounds like some kind of Zen thing, doesn't it?

Now I wonder... did that flashlight differ from what it actually was???

A good morning's ride

Yesterday I got out for a morning ride for the first time in a week or two.  Our weather here has been pretty miserable... hazy, hot and humid.  Temperatures near 100° and a heat index between 105° and 110°.  Blech!  But Wednesday dawned clear and cooler... while I wouldn't call it "cool", it's all relative, and it was much nicer than it's been, so off I went.  LOTS of folks out on the trail, enjoying this break in the heat.  And I had a chance to ride for a short way with one of my regular customers... a very nice fellow who rides a couple of older road bikes, mostly for transportation. I've seen him now and then out there, but we've been going opposite directions. Yesterday we actually rode side by side for a while, which was fun.

This time the remarkable wildlife sighting was a sad one... a little bluebird, dead on the pavement.  I don't seeing wildlife killed any time, but bluebirds seem so precious and rare, it seemed somehow sadder than seeing a sparrow.  Of course, that's really kind of a strange value judgement, isn't it? And it calls to mind both the old Simon and Garfunkel song "Sparrow", and the passage in the Bible about God knowing when a sparrow falls.

The crepe myrtles are still in bloom, but beginning to fade I think. Still lovely though.

Trek 530 (cherry tomatoes behind!)
Today's bike was my 1978 Trek 530, the "racier" of my old steel Treks. Set up with mostly original parts, from the Shimano 600 "Arabesque" group. A very nice riding bike, and a very smooth shifting drivetrain. And I'm constantly amazed at how well Trek's paint jobs from that era hold up. They (and many other US builders) used a DuPont paint called Imron, that's very durable and pretty.  And unfortunately very toxic to work with, if I recall correctly!

Monday, July 25, 2011

HOT here in DC

As anybody in the area knows, we've been stuck with a heat wave here, with temperatures right around 100 degrees, with a "heat index" of 105 to 110 some days. Add to that some lousy air quality, and it really hasn't been great riding weather.

But that doesn't stop everyone. Folks are still getting out there on their bikes... some by riding in the wee hours of the morning. One customer told me the other day he had plans to go riding at 3 in the morning! I can't say I've ever resorted to that for weather reasons, but I have been on my bike at all hours.

Customer trying out M6R Brompton
One pleasant surprise has been the number of people coming and test riding bikes and trikes at our shop during this spell. We take pains to make sure folks don't overdo it, and we ply them liberally with water, and off they go, trying bike after bike. Granted, I think fewer of them are taking LONG test rides, but they are at least getting enough of a ride to help decide.

On my own part, yesterday my girlfriend and I took a 30 mile round trip ride into DC. Why, you might ask? Well, there's an exhibit at the National Geographic about the 1911 expeditions to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott... and what better way to spend a few hours on a blazingly hot day than to learn about the struggles of polar explorers? Seriously though, it's a riveting tale, and told very well by the exhibit. If you don't really know much about the "Race to the End of the Earth" as they call it, I highly recommend checking out the exhibit, if you're in the area. If you can't make it, there's also a book published by the curator of the exhibit that looks likely to be excellent: Race to The End: Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Great 4th of July Ride!

It was nothing spectacular, and it almost didn't come off at all, but my girlfriend and I had a great ride on the 4th. She lives over in suburban Maryland, so we took a route down through Rock Creek Park into the city, to Georgetown, and came back via the Capital Crescent and Georgetown Branch trails, passing back through Rock Creek Park near the end.

The weather wasn't terribly inspirational... grey overcast and a hefty amount of moisture in the air. We ultimately decided to get out on our bikes and do the "Georgetown Loop" as we call it. And we were both really glad we did. A very nice ride, not as hot as we'd feared, and the trails and roads weren't terribly crowded.

Unicyclist in parade
An interesting twist at the start... we ended up at the tail end of Takoma Park's 4th of July parade. We didn't really see much... just a group that to be centered around the "9/11 Truth" movement (we'll leave that discussion for some other forum). The highlight of that particular demonstration was the rather skilled unicycle rider who did tricks while the parade went by.

Downed trees on Capital Crescent trail
Also, during the ride we encountered the after-effects of a recent thunderstorm. The Capital Crescent trail (and C&O Canal, which parallels the CC for a ways) was blocked by a number of fallen trees across the path. They were all passable, but required lifting our bikes over the fallen trees, and diverting to the Canal for a short stretch. Apparently it's even worse further west along the canal, with a lot of fallen trees blocking the path near White's Ferry. Even more upsetting, there was apparently a fatality from a falling tree up in that area on Sunday!

But we didn't know any of that as we rode along, and despite the minor obstacle course, were back on our bikes and rolling along again pretty quickly.

Our Bridgestone bikes, parked at a rest stop in Bethesda, MD

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Morning Ride

Well, it was very humid this morning, and it started to sprinkle just a little as I was headed home, but I still had a nice morning ride.

One highlight...  The blackberries are starting to ripen! Ever since I was a kid, playing in the woods and fields around home, I've loved that aspect of summer... the dark, sweet berries, so delicious... all the more so for the nicks and cuts gotten picking them. As I understand it, blackberries are a "boundary plant", meaning they thrive where woods and open spaces meet... which means bike paths are an ideal location for them! Sure enough, the W&OD has quite a few brambles along the trail, and I had my first taste of ripe, wild blackberries for this season.  Yum!

Another bright spot in today's otherwise overcast ride as sighting a few goldfinches zooming and darting through the air along the way. Such gorgeous birds! So graceful, agile and bright. Too quick to get a picture of, but still nice to see.