• Category Archives day by day
  • This is the category closest to just being a plain diary. Places I go, things I do, people I see, what’s happening in my life.

  • Clean Bill of Health

    I got my colonoscopy today, a rite of passage I’d delayed for years. Fast and purge yesterday, then into the hospital for about two hours. I was pretty nervous, but the whole procedure was painless, even the “purge” part yesterday wasn’t as bad as people joke (though I wasn’t happy about the “fasting” part), and now I’m good for another 10 years.

    I just pounded down a turkey & cheese sub, and I think I’ll go take a nap.

  • Infrastructure Fun

    I got in a few rides these past few weeks, and some good cello time too, but my major focus has been on “infrastructure” projects:


    The Santa Cruz, after four years of that “new bike feeling,” is starting to show some signs of age. Nothing bad, just things like shifting problems in the highest gears, so I might need new cables and maybe housing, and some trouble with the tire valves: I’ve got a slow leak in the rear tire caused by a torn o-ring, and a gummed up valve up front.

    For the tires I got a “valve repair kit” from Saucon Valley Bikes. The tubeless tire valves are pretty easy to take apart and work with, so I was able to replace the rear o-ring — I can’t be sure if it worked perfectly, but it’s working enough for now — and have new valve innards on deck if the front tire becomes too annoying. The shifting seems sort of OK for the moment after I did some serious derailleur cleaning, but I can tell I’ll have to deal with those cables sooner rather than later.

    Meantime, I noticed a slight creak coming from the bottom bracket…


    For my website I’ve been using an SSL/TLS certificate from Let’s Encrypt, which I obtained using SSLForFree, since Let’s Encrypt is pretty difficult on its own. These certificates need to be renewed every 90 days, but when I went to do it the next-to-last time, I found that SSLForFree had been bought out by ZeroSSL, who use their own certificates and who intend to charge for anything beyond a limited number of free ones. I used them that time, but spent the next three months looking into a better option.

    The ZeroSSL certificate expired a few days ago, but I had already replaced it with one from Let’s Encrypt, using a rather laborious process on yet another website. It’s very doable, but I think I’ll continue looking for a better method.

    Towpath Amenities

    This is a bit of old news, but I’ve added the amenities and access points along the towpath between New Hope and Morrisville. I have about 10 miles left to add, the section from Morrisville to Bristol, and I have all access points and amenities I could find added to my database. All that’s left is to ground-truth some of the info, then I can update the map. This last addition will make the map complete, but that won’t make the job done — this job will never be done

    I started thinking about my method of routing the other day: the routine finds the point on the road network closest to my access point (the start) and the point on the network closest to my amenity (the endpoint), then finds the shortest path through the network between start and end points. But what if the start and end points on the network are not particularly close to their respective access or amenity points?

    I originally assumed that this would not be an issue: access points were basically intersections of the D&L with the road network, and almost all amenities should be very near some road or path that customers use to get there. Then I figured out a way to check…

    Most amenities were within about 25 yards of their route’s endpoint, the distance being mostly open space like a parking lot or driveway. I figured that this was acceptable, but I also found a few amenities that were more than that distance, between say 25 and 50 yards from their endpoints. Again they were on the far sides of parking lots and such from the ends of their routes, but these distances seemed a bit too large to leave be, so I added service lanes and driveways as necessary — I’m not sure why these weren’t already a part of the network, but they are there now; I updated the routes to the offending amenities and all was well.

    There was a third group of amenities that I found, and these were the ones I had been worrying about: the ones where the database has a route, but in real life the route’s endpoint is nowhere near the amenity, and maybe the amenity isn’t even accessible from the endpoint. (One example could be a store along a roadway I’d deliberately excluded from the route network, such as a fast food place along a highway. The routing program would find a path to the closest point still on the allowed roads, and leave the cyclist to connect the endpoint and the amenity “as the crow flies,” crossing freeways or God-know-what, and I’m back to square one.)

    Luckily, I only found a few of these, and they all were total outliers: places that were in the database, but were too distant and isolated to be considered “accessible.” For now I’m leaving them in the database, but I guess I’ll eventually have to remove them. I’ll have to look more carefully at the relationship between new amenities and the road network in the future if I add any more, to make sure they actually connect.

    Network (the other kind)

    One last piece of infrastructure activity: we are switching our internet provider, from DSL on Verizon to RCN cable. I bought a cable modem and a wifi router, and called RCN the other day; the cable installers should be here this afternoon.

    I got us the slowest package, 10 Mbps, which is about four times faster than what we have now and costs about $20/mo less, before even considering the cost of the landline we’ll be abandoning when we get rid of Verizon. (If we need it we can upgrade our package, but we’ve been making do with DSL for so long that 10 Mbps will probably seem blazing fast.)

  • I Ply The Fire With Kindling Now, And Pull The Blanket Up To My Chin

    Weatherman says it’ll heat up again in a few days, but it’s been trending much cooler this past week — comfortable days, nights in the low 50’s. Good sleeping weather, as the saying goes.

    We went to a friend’s house for a porch visit yesterday evening, and I was actually chilly once the sun went down, and when we got home we closed some windows and put the comforter back on the bed. The temperature dropped into the 40’s overnight. Summer is coming to an end.

  • More Photo Blogging: Round Valley

    These are from several weekends ago, when we met Joe and Laura for some kayaking at Round Valley. I have not been there in years, and I’d never been on the water — it was always bicycling. Awesome day, and I had fun trying to make correspondences between what I saw from the kayak and where I rode years ago. There were a lot of spotted lanternflies on the water though, which was an unpleasant surprise since we didn’t know they were already in New Jersey (or that they liked water).

    In other photo news, I’ve been doing some more curating of my Flickr photos, and finished uploading the last of them from 2017. Now I am only three years behind.

  • Low Energy Week

    Not much riidng this week (so far), it’s just been too rainy. The Delaware towpath is actually closed in many places due to flooding damage, and sections of the Lehigh towpath suffered damage as well. I slipped in a towpath ride (and some lawn work) on Monday when it turned out to be a nice day, but I’ve done nothing since. Tomorrow we’ll try for a long-ish ride west of the Valley, it looks like it’ll be a beautiful day

    In the meantime, there has been a lot of lounging around, reading. I am almost done with The Mirror and the Light, which I’ve been dragging my feet on, and I am re-reading The Rook, and I’ve perused some Python texts… Most of the time I’ve been just staring at the computer like it’s a TV or something.

    (Speaking of TV’s, we finally tossed our old one last week. It’s been sitting in our living room taking up space for years, we couldn’t remember the last time we watched anything on it and it’s now long obsolete — wrong format, not digital. Any TV we watch is on the computers, so Anne brought down her old office desktop with the giant screen to take the TV’s place, and we put the TV on the curb with a “FREE — it works” sign. It sat out through at least some of the rain so that’s probably no longer true, but someone took it — most likely the garbage man.)

    I did get my map updated with trail amenities down to New Hope, and I’ve also had some learning experiences with both Python and SQL. I also have been updating the genealogy stuff.

    We’re thinking that after COVID (which is starting to sound like “after I win the lottery”) we may put together a trip to Germany, possibly like the Ireland trip we did years ago. Anne has German ancestors on both sides of her family, and I have a few as well, so there should be some places we can visit (discoverable through some genealogical homework), that have connections with our ancestry.

    My uncle and cousin did a lot of research on that part of my family a few years ago, which I have but never really looked through until the other day. A lot of it is Ireland, but there is a bit about my mother’s father’s paternal grandparents, who had come to the US separately from different parts of Germany, and met and married in Manhattan’s “Little Hanover.” My great-great-grandfather Heinrich Barth was from Leese (near Hanover) and my great-great-grandmother Helene (Euchen) Barth was from Mehring (just outside Trier near the Luxembourg border).

    Well, bedtime. We’re getting up early for tomorrow’s ride.

  • Rain, Rain

    It looks like it’s mostly over for now, but we’ve had a ton of water come down overnight and this morning. We’ll probably get more (the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaias) as the week progresses.

    So yesterday we went on a ride, and a pretty big one: up to Delaware Water Gap via Cherry Valley Road, then back via National Park Road and the Plainfield Trail, for a total of about 80 miles. Our ride was about eight hours moving time, but we also stopped for (a disappointing) lunch in Delaware Water Gap, a visit to the cave on 611, a dip in the Slateford Creek waterfall, and several stops to say hi to people Scott knew — we went with Scott & Kellyn. Our total time was probably 11 hours, 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. What an awesome day! …and we seized it but good. Dinner was hoagies from Carl’s Corner, and bedtime was a bit early.

    In about an hour we’ll be leaving for our quartet meeting, minus our violist who is dealing with water in her basement. It is currently both drizzling and sunny out; it’ll probably be very muggy but beautiful at the barn where we play.

  • Hot Hot Hot

    We’re deep into the summer heat now. I got in a few rides in anyway last week, and as usual found myself more comfortable on the bike than off — for each one I was fine until I got home, then took a long cold shower and a nap…

    Yesterday was my “ground-truthing” trip down the Delaware Towpath from Tinicum Park to New Hope, to verify all the access points I could find. Just as with the section from Riegelsville to Tinicum, my “find access point candidates with GIS, load them as waypoints on the Garmin, and mark any differences as more waypoints” method worked great; there were only a few problematic locations, easily fixed. What did go wrong, or seemed to go wrong at first, was my drive to the start: I drove down the river, then pulled into “Tinicum Park,” and got the last parking place, but it turned out to be a different section (for access to Giving Pond), miles from my target destination and not particularly near a towpath access point either. Luckily, my own map found me an easy way to the towpath, some singletrack over to a side road… On the way there I passed a woman with her kids, who were also looking for the D&L — they were going to park at Frenchtown but “Frenchtown was a madhouse” — it was a beautiful summer Saturday, sunny and hot, and apparently so many kayakers and tubers and swimmers were out that all the parks and towns along the river were completely full, except the two parking places we found. So my mistake actually paid off!

    Like I said, I was comfortable riding, and there were plenty of others out who chose cycling too, but the Delaware was packed. There were so many boaters and tubers out, individually and in flotillas, that it looked like entire cities were afloat, the entire way down the river. New Hope was also crowded, but not unusually so. I did what I had to, rode back, and then went home to my shower and nap. About 37 miles, maybe 4 hours total riding.

    The riding and the heat are having their effect, I’m happy to say: I’ve been 178 lbs for most of this week. I’ve been flirting with “under 180” for a while now, reaching it and then backsliding, maybe this will be more permanent. I am currently eating diced ham and eggs with diced vegetables, so we’ll see where things go.

  • Chillin’

    Posted on by Don

    We did a “socially-distant bike check” with Scott on Sunday, down at Sand Island. (CAT has done this before, offering free tire pressure checks and air, maps and such like.) There were a lot of cyclists out, and we got a few takers, but not as many as previous weekends. Still, it was a nice, productive way to start the day.

    We finished just before 11, when Kellyn, Diana, and Rick & Shari joined us for a ride down to the rope swing outside Freemansburg. The rope swing was gone — the tree it was tied to had been cut down by the town — but as Anne said, the river was still there, so we parked our bikes and took a dip.

    It was sooooo cooooold! It took a while to get all the way under, but once we got used to it we were in heaven. Eventually John and Donna joined us with the boys, and we splashed about for a good two hours or so. We found a spring feeding into the river, which was even colder… Once again (like at Glen Onoko) we were cold enough to forget what hot even felt like. Anne remarked about having “goose bumps in July” at one point when the breeze picked up. We were reminded of the heat again when we rode home, but we stayed refreshed all the rest of the day.

    When we got home, Anne noticed that we had a dead bird stuck on the front of our car; we probably hit it on our way home from quartet practice on Saturday. I went out and removed it after I showered and changed. The bird itself was beautiful, patterned almost like a hawk though it wasn’t one. It had died a hard death: it got its head caught in our grille, and likely broke its neck when it got hit. It still had an insect in its mouth when I removed it from the grille. The whole thing was funny and sad, and beautiful and kind of gross all at the same time.

    Today was a bit of a low energy day for me at least (Anne was busy), just some laundry and cello practice. I finally got my Trail Amenities database back to where it was before the big OS upgrade dabacle, now I can start moving forward again with exploring the last parts of the trail. I have tto say — upgrade disasters aside — I am really liking this new system.

  • High Summer

    We went out picking blueberries today, a sure sign — assuming we find ripe blueberries — that we’re into the main part of summer. We did collect quite a bucketful, but the season hasn’t quite arrived. It was a bit funny, we went up “with” Donna, parked next to her car and texted with her every so often, but never saw her — she got there before us and was a bit further along the lake. Now that is how you do social distancing!

    We managed to see Ben and Candace this weekend; we met them on Broad Mountain and cycled in to the top of Glen Onoko Falls. We were a little ahead of the crowds and had the place mostly to ourselves for a bit, but eventually the top was inundated with hikers who had climbed up from the bottom. Still it was nice, picnicking and cooling our feet in the icy creek water. We rode from there to the nearest overlook and got caught in a heavy downpour, which we watched move through the gorge. Very dramatic sky and hills, and pleasant despite (or maybe because of) the cold rain, but hikers we saw earlier showed up and so we moved on. It was a shame to have to ride on those old trails, old favorites with a lot of history but now almost ruined by the heavy “ballast” stones the Game Commission put down. (We speculated that they did it to make the trails less enjoyable for bikers, but it’s probably something they had to do to armor them, after allowing motor vehicles on the trails.) Ben and Candace were not on mountain bikes, so the “improved” trails were especially stinky for them, but I think they still managed to have a good time. We grabbed some subs in town afterward, and ate them at the park up the street from where Anne grew up.

    Yesterday was a ride up the towpath with Anne’s friend Bernie, a local blogger and cyclist who is part of her legal crowd. We got up to Catasauqua but took the road from there — Bernie was pretty vehement that the unimproved trail sections were not his cup of tea. Coffee in Northampton, then we took the Nor-Bath Trail and local roads back to Bethlehem.

    It looks like it’ll be hot and rainy for the next few days, so hey! Rest day.