• Milestone

    So I’ve been messing with that Lehigh Valley bike commuter routing program again, and I have made some important strides:

    • I found a way to update the recommend routes easy/advanced, etc, by maintaining separate tables of these routes as linestrings (which I can add and subtract, draw and redraw), then updating the relevant field in the main table using a spatial join. The update process is now automated simply by running SQL files, one for each type of route.
    • I sat down with the workflow for updating the main map table, and managed to automate much of it — everything but the SAGA tasks, though I think I can automate them too, eventually. I also managed to streamline one of the more time-consuming tasks: Generating the ascent/descent tables used to take upwards of 12 hours when I first did it (using Python within QGIS), and my next iteration (using PostGIS) took about 20 minutes, but my latest method got it down to about 57 seconds. Fifty-seven seconds! All of these are now also stored as SQL files or functions, so they are available almost at the push of a button. (My goal is a shell script putting all of this together.)

    These were both pretty big deals, since they were the only things keeping the project from being truly functional. Before this, keeping the database up-to-date was like pulling teeth. Unfortunately, I decided to add some front-end functionality, testing to see if selected points are within the Lehigh Valley, and that’s been a bit of a struggle, but if I can find a host for the project I think I can go live really soon.


  • Donnie Getchyer Annie

    So the Big Stick Cleanup got started yesterday, but did not get finished: I got a call from Anne just before 2:00; she said she was somewhere in Connecticut riding alone, she was cold and wet, it was raining, and was done. I packed up what I was doing, got home and ready to go, and was on the road by 2:05 after getting her exact location by email. It was about four hours away, but the drive was pretty easy, and with an hour for dinner we were home by 11:00 or so, and totally crashed not long after. I guess we’ll have that pot roast tonight.

  • Infrastructure WEEKEND? Oh Noes!

    Infrastructure Week continues today with some yardwork, only it’s yardwork at Anne’s office: there is a huge mulberry tree in the neighbor’s yard, whose branches were damaging her roof. The roof guy cut a bunch of them off but now those are lying in a heap behind her office, and if the weather holds I plan to go chop and bag them. I suspect I may have to get access via the downstairs tenant’s office, so I’ve been waiting for the weekend, like everybody else.

    On my other projects:

    Phone: The new battery works great, and it’s like the phone has a new lease on life. The charger port cover seems fine too.

    Garmin: This was a bit scary since I had to mess with real electronic parts, but the battery change went off without a hitch. The new battery only holds 1000 mWh, as opposed to 1100 mWh for the original when it was new, but I charged the unit up and then let it run in the backyard, with GPS and the display on, for 5 hours and it went down to 60% charge. That means I can probably go for more than 12 hours on a charge now, as opposed to about 4 hours with my tired old original battery, so I am way ahead of the game. I read online that the new battery tends to rattle in the case, but I shook it and heard nothing. A real ride might let me know more.

    The Clock: It’s ticking away in the kitchen right now. I got it at Akroyd’s Hardware, where the guy was apologetic that it was the only one he had, but I was cool — it was exactly what I was looking for.

    Light bulbs: What do I want, a cookie?

    Anyway, I madeĀ tuna & wilted greens in garlic sauce over spaghetti last night, and also got tonight’s round roast going in the crock pot. I brushed my teeth and hit the road with Donna and John, ending up at The Mint where we were joined by Doug & Lori. Much pleasantry and merriment ensued…

  • Infrastructure Week Continues

    I got the new Garmin battery today, the last of my purchase items from Amazon, and I will be installing it today if I can find the instructional video online; the battery came with tools and an instructional DVD, but my laptop’s DVD player has decided it no longer works, so it’s either YouTube today, or I have to email the battery company to get a link to where they keep the video online. There will be some delay I’m sure, but we’re always moving forward…

    Several light bulbs burned out this week. I don’t know why, but they do seem to die in clusters, even these newfangled fluorescent/LED ones (some of these actually were fluorescent bulbs, which probably means they’re years old by now). I got all but one replaced, an outdoor one for the back porch light. So, off to the hardware store I go. I’ll be skipping Lowe’s because I am still looking for a kitchen clock and they didn’t have them; if whatever hardware store I hit is similarly lacking I’ll just go to Amazon again.

    Also up: food shopping. I’ve been eating like a king the past week, steaks with roasted veggies, ham & beans, etc until yesterday, when it was time for dinner and I realized I had no food. Since I was totally absorbed in that routing program — I’m trying to add a feature, but it seems to be putting up a struggle — I just sat home dinnerless, pissing the hours away until I went out to get some late-night nachos at Brew Works. Oops! So, food shopping.

    What’s not on the list? Cycling. I keep hoping that my toe will feel better day by day, good enough soon that I can put anything other than sandals on (I actually wore sneakers last night), but the truth is I have a broken toe and it takes 6 weeks to heal, so I’d better man up and get used to light duty for a while. Maybe in a few more days…

  • Housebound and Alone

    Well not really, but Anne is now into the second week of her bike adventure, and my stubbed toe — can you believe it? — along with the weather, kind of keeps me from wanting to be very active. So, what have I been up to?

    Well, for one thing, I’ve been trying to stay ahead of domestic disaster, here on my own. The Trail Summit kept me busy for a few days, then I went on a round of house cleaning: I straightened, dusted and vacuumed upstairs one day, then did the same downstairs another day, and in between I did some food shopping and ran errands. I also had a bit of an “infrastructure incident:” the support at the wall for one of the clothes hanger rods broke in my closet — I hung up some suits from the drycleaner the day before — so one errand was to Lowes, where I got the support but no other thing I needed. (We need a new kitchen clock, among other things.) This came on the heels of a completely wasted trip to a new phone repair place, which claims in their advertising, and in the “grand opening” article in the local paper, that they can fix just about anything. I show up, looking for a new battery and a replacement dust cover for the charging port — “we can’t fix that.” Yeah I was doing a slow burn after those trips…

    Anyway, I’m continuing with some minor repairs here, changing light bulbs, keeping busy, trying to stay on top of things. I got the phone parts, as well as a new Garmin battery, from Amazon, so when they show up I can do a little DIY repair. There are also a few things at Anne’s office that need doing, which I’ll probably tackle in the next few days. Keeping busy.

    The big thing I’ve been doing has been putting some finishing touches on my Lehigh Valley Commuter Bike Routing Project. I need to update the big database of streets (a daunting task), but I developed a way to quickly get streets that are a part of preferred routes, routes to be avoided, etc identified and updated. This has been a stumbling block, because I’ve had unused logic on the code, to prefer or avoid roads based on which preferred routes layers were visible, and I had no realistic “preferred routes” developed. With this new trick (short scripts to do the updating, based on spatial joins), I drew up a bunch of easy routes, more advanced routes, legal but inappropriate roads, and dirt paths, and added them to the database. Son of a bitch, it all worked!

    I also did a little site cleanup, making things work and look nicer; its close enough to done that I may show it to someone soon — it still has to live on my laptop, since I still have not found a free host that can/will handle pgRouting.


  • Trail Summit

    So Sunday (last Sunday, not yesterday) was a recreational day for the Eastern PA Trail Summit, and I had an invite — a free pass really, courtesy of the D&L — to the whole event, so I rode to Easton to check out the Canal Boat ride and the industrial history tour. Both were awesome despite my stubbed toe…

    (Both events were informative, but while anyone can get a picture of canal boat life from what’s currently on display, and it’s common knowledge that there were once many factories along the canal, it was truly eye-opening to have someone point and say, “right there was a giant textile mill, and in that empty field there was once a blast furnace, in fact that boulder is what’s left of its foundation.”)

    Very cool, and here are some photos from Sunday:

    Scott S was also at the park that day, doing a kid’s bike ride with the Easton Police. That was pretty cool, and nice to see some cycling friends there with their kids.

    The Trail Summit proper was Monday and Tuesday. I had no real idea of what to expect — I actually had to look up what a “breakout session” was, and what the difference was between “keynote” and “plenary” speakers — but they were two awesome, informative and inspiring days.

    I learned a new term – “inland port,” sigh — from Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure, who spoke of it as one of several competing visions for the Lehigh Valley (as opposed to “nice place with trails,” I suppose), and the keynote speaker, a woman who thru-hiked the AT and spoke of it as a life-changing experience, made me realize that the Lehigh Towpath changed my life as well. There were morning sessions on redesigning roads to accommodate trail sections, and afternoon sessions on marketing your town to trail users, and a cyclist, the speaker for Tuesday’s lunch, said we need more amenities and signage. Amen brother!

    There was a dinner Monday night at the National Museum of Industrial History, so of course we all toured the museum. Here are a few photos:

    Not everyone was an awesome speaker, even if their ideas were good, and not every session was informative — there were a few I actually disagreed with — but all in all, it was an awesome conference.

  • Start The Day Right

    Got up this morning, and pretty much the first thing I did was stub my toe on some furniture. It was the toe next to my left pinkie-toe, and it didn’t hurt too much at first, but walking was tough, and when I put my boots on it was torture. I tried other shoes, the only things I could wear were my sandals. Today is the start of the Trail Summit too, and today’s schedule included biking to Easton in my sandals, riding the canal boat — something I’ve never done, until today — then going on a two mile walking history tour before the return ride. It wasn’t too bad, but I think my toe is broken, and I think I’m going to take a nap.

  • Ham & Eggs

    That’s what’s for breakfast — Anne is out of town for a bit, on an epic bike-touring ride down the East Coast with two other women. They met yesterday at the start point (a two-day drive for Anne) and they are leaving either tomorrow or, if they move up their schedule, today. Meantime, I’m holding down the fort and doing my own cooking… I normally have oatmeal for breakfast, but hey it’s the weekend.

    Got in some mapping yesterday, moving some recent OpenStreetmap changes (ones that I’d made) over to my PostGIS/QGIS towpath project, as well as adding more stuff to OSM; I also worked through a bunch of yardwork and laundry. The car was in the shop for an oil change, inspection and (surprise) a new pair of rear tires, so I was sort of hanging around the house, awaiting developments.

    Later in the afternoon I went over to Southside. I got a haircut at Eskandalo and went to Bonn Place for a pre-dinner beer, which is where I ran into old Brew Works compatriot Brian. Haven’t seen him in years and we did a little catching-up, and then I walked over to El Jefe’s Taqueteria to meet Scott S for dinner. Nice place, I’ll be going back.

    After dinner I caught up with John & Donna at Molly’s, which was a fun change of pace, at least until the DJ started in with the club music. At that point we left, walked back over the river and through the last of Celtic Fest, and called it a night.

    Today is house work and (more) yard work and laundry — make hay while the sun shines — then I may do a towpath ride.

  • Rainy Day

    It’s another rainy day, in fact it came pouring down in buckets this morning, and I spent the morning doing some more OpenStreetMap mapping. There’s a new development in Bethlehem Township, mixed apartment buildings and single-family homes, with its own shopping center, swim club, bike paths and retention ponds, and I rode over there yesterday to gather information. GPS, geotagged photos, and now I’m just trying to put it all together. I think I need another trip over to get more street data, so for now I’m focusing on the stores in the shopping center — I did some last night, and a bit more today, and will probably finish the stores a little later this week. Meantime, here’s a photo from the yard:

    bee on flower
    Bumblebee on a Mexican sunflower.

    I took this a few days ago, playing with the “selective focus” on my camera phone since it doesn’t actually have a “macro” function… The summer is winding down, but the yellow and reddish-orange flowers are still doing great; the bumblebees are really enjoying the Mexican sunflowers right now, and there are usually dozens on each plant every time we walk by.

  • Bike Week!

    Bike Week — that was what last week became. The first four days I helped Scott S with the Road Scholar cycling program (that he helps run out of the Shawnee Inn), Friday was a ride with Anne, Shari and Julie to that great coffee shop in Northampton, and Saturday I did a mapping expedition down the Delaware Canal to Riegelsville. (Sunday was a trip to Philly, for brunch with Ben and Candace.)

    The four Road Scholar rides were: Bethlehem to Easton via towpath, Allamuchy (in the rain!), Cherry Valley Road near Delaware Water Gap, and White Haven to Jim Thorpe via the D&L trail. Here is a video one of the guides made of our rides: