• A Wedding

    Yesterday was the big day for our friends Scott & Kellyn — who, as we told everyone, met at our party. They had a beautiful wedding (officiated by Donna F) and an awesome party afterward. Congratulations to the happy couple, and thanks for letting us be a part of your celebration!

  • More Ball Bearing Woes

    Posted on by Don

    Morning weigh-in: 175.5#, 11.5% BF

    I took my road bike over to the CAT office yesterday and took apart my freehub. What a mess! There are a whole lot of very small ball bearings in there, and the bearing cage basically fell apart — sound familiar? The slop in the freehub was basically caused by missing BB’s but the entire inside was trashed anyway. Maybe it can be serviced, but I think it’ll be better to just get a new one, if I can find something compatible with that wheel. I will also be replacing the cassette, the chain and the front rings, so maybe I should just get a new wheel as well.

    One good thing: while I was at CAT, Scott was able to get my pedals off, so now I can replace them.

    Today we had to run a bunch of errands, and when we got home we were hungry and tired and crabby. So, we hopped on the mountain bikes and rode to Freemansburg, maybe four miles away on the towpath. We got takeout at a place called Cherry’s Caribbean Palace (curried goat, mac & cheese, rice and plantains) and ate at picnic tables by the restored Mule Barn. It totally changed the afternoon’s vibe. I’ve been meaning to check that place out (it’s on my amenities map), and I saw online that they just got recognition as one of the best Caribbean food places around, so this was a pretty good opportunity to do some food exploring. Two thumbs up.

  • It Better Rain

    Posted on by Don

    Morning weigh-in: 174.5#, 15% BF

    Rest day today. The rest of the week is supposed to be rainy, so I did towpath rides yesterday and the day before, and in the heat they took a bit more out of me than usual. It’s so nice out right now, despite the heat (and the rainy forecast), that I’m starting to rethink my decision…

    We were scheduled to go camping in the Finger Lakes this week, and canceled because of the weather forecast: rain and more rain. I just checked the current forecast, and it looks like staying indoors will be a good idea hereabouts — we even have a flash flood warning for this afternoon — but the Ithaca forecast is starting to look much less severe. Oh well.

    UPDATE: We got some rain, and I expect we’ll get some more in an hour or so. Meantime, enjoy this view of LANTA’s routes and stops, suitable for framing on refrigerators everywhere. The routes are blue lines, the stops are green dots, and the municipalities are color-coded white to red based on how many routes and stops are within their borders. I did this to just see which municipalities are not served by permanent routes. Some, like outlying farmland, make sense, but there are other municipalities, centrally located and with sizeable populations, with no bus service. Huh. (LANTA does run a shuttle service in some of these areas, but it’s available by appointment only, and has no permanent routes or stops.)

    LANTA bus routes
    LANTA Bus Routes in the Lehigh Valley

  • New Phones

    Posted on by Don

    Morning weigh-in: 175.5#, 15% BF

    Anne and I just replaced our phones, and in the nick of time too: they were ancient, and falling apart (literally my power button just fell off), and the network they worked on was about to be sunsetted…

    We both got the new Samsung Galaxy A52, which is not top of the line but it still blows our old phones away, thank you very much, and it costs about half of what the top models go for. We bought them online, unlocked, and got new SIM chips from our phone company, and then we transferred our numbers and data to the new phones. Easy enough process, and everything seems to be working OK, now all we have to do is get used to them.

    Rain Comes At You Fast: We had plans to head up to the Finger Lakes for the 4th of July, Ben and Candace (and their new dog) and us, camping and cycling from tomorrow through the 5th. But the forecast has been getting more and more dire as our trip approached, and so we got together in a Zoom chat last night and changed our plans: they’ll be coming to visit us for part of the weekend, and we’ll do a hike if the weather allows.

    I got in another sweltering towpath ride this afternoon, super hot even though I was moseying, but it was beautiful out there. Still, I had the trail mostly to myself, except for a few kids at the swimming holes.

  • Back In The Game. Back In A Lot Of Games.

    Posted on by Don

    Morning weigh-in: 176#, 12% BF

    I’ve been trying to lose weight again lately, and to clean up my diet in general, trying to bring down my cholesterol, triglycerides etc. Nothing major, but I cut back — not stopped, just cut back — on meat, cheese, certain fatty foods, and beer, and now I’m starting to notice a difference. My weight has dropped some more, and I seem to have a bit more energy. I thought the beer would be harder to give up, but that was easy compared to, say, cheese.

    I’ve also been putting a lot of road miles lately, which I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying. (I’m also surprised at my surprise, if you know what I mean — I love riding the road.) That has also helped with the weight loss, and the hill rides especially have noticeably improved my fitness. The extra road miles have also revealed a whole slew of mechanical issues I’ll have to deal with: one of my pedals needs replacing but can’t be removed from the crank, the chain/drivetrain is starting to feel worn, and while I was trying to track down some other problem I discovered that the entire cassette/hub is loose, like “wobbling like a loose tooth” loose, and that’s bad — I might have to replace the wheel. Oy.

    Both of the other bikes are also showing signs that they’ll need more love before they get much more use: I had to tighten the Iguana’s headset (which I replaced just a year or so ago) , and I’m trying to track down yet another squeak near the bottom bracket on the Santa Cruz. The bike work area could also use some love, or at least a good straightening so I can find my tools…

    I got in a nice towpath ride this morning, before the day became too hot.

    Speaking of towpaths… I’m back volunteering at the Canal Museum again, currently working through their fleet of rental bikes and making sure they’re seaworthy. Nothing major, the majority just need a few minor adjustments and a little air. There’s probably plenty of other work waiting after the bikes get done.

    And finally, I’m playing music with others again. I played with Donna H this afternoon, and we’ve been getting together for duets for a few weeks now. The quartet (minus our viola, at least until until she gets back from England) has been playing a bit as well. There’s even been some recent talk of getting the cello/oboe ensemble back together.

    My days are getting full.

  • The Wheat From The Chaff

    Posted on by Don

    I’m not sure if this is going to rise to the level of “new GIS project,” but I have been playing around a lot lately with the local transportation authority’s GTFS feed — where GTFS stands for “General Transit Feed Specification,” a standard for publishing public transit information on the Internet.

    These feeds are like a cross between spreadsheets and database tables, and by a judicious massaging of the data you can extract bus stop and route information. Unfortunately, that massaging is a real necessity: the specification is built to convey a lot of information, and to cover a lot of different transit situations, so there’s no simple route-and-stop information — it’s buried in cross-references and spread across multiple tables. All this extraction and data crunching is fairly straightforward though, and there are even tools to automate the process (I use a QGIS plugin).

    Or the process would be straightforward, if we were not dealing with LANTA. These feeds are updated periodically, and about a year ago the new LANTA feeds sort of devolved into chaos, with extra routes showing up that had no real world connection, odd use of abbreviations for bus stop names (abbreviations are sort of frowned upon, for what ought to be obvious reasons), and their cross-referencing system becoming unnecessarily complex. It was hard to figure out what was going on — I thought at first that it was my analysis software mangling the data, but no it was them.

    Well, they’ve been working through a huge revamp of their entire bus route network, so maybe that was the source of some of the bogus data. The new routes and schedules went into effect on June 21, and an updated feed followed soon after; I downloaded the new one and crunched the data — and the garbage was all still there! But, I noticed that in among the old chaos was a new and much cleaner set of data, valid starting on the 21st, showing the new bus routes and the correctly-named bus stops. So now I do a double extraction, first massaging the feed into a useful form, then extracting from that the new, valid and cleaned-up route data. Voilá!

    I have some vague plan to add these bus routes to OpenStreetMap, but that’s a big undertaking, and I would prefer to rely on eyewitness ground-truthing (ie riding the bus) than a data set — which means even more work. For now I’m content with just having got the damn data.

  • Brood X

    I finally got to see the cicadas this week. I’d been on several rides recently looking for them (including one ride up to Blue Ponds in Jim Thorpe — strangely early even for the mountain laurel), but no dice. Then on Wednesday I did a road ride in the hills south of town, and they were everywhere. They were loud enough while I was riding that you’d have to shout to be heard over them, and I stopped once or twice just to watch them fly around.

    Anne and I did another hill ride yesterday with a few friends in the same general area. Again, they were everywhere and maybe more numerous than the other day, even landing on us when we stopped for ice cream.

    So that’s one thing off this summer’s bucket list, though I do expect to check them out a few more times before they are gone.

  • COVID Memories II

    Posted on by Don

    Some more things:

    • It was early March, just as things were starting to look bad, and my mom needed a procedure done, so I thought I’d go down to help out for a few days. My dad and I hung out in the hospital waiting room, half-watching whatever 24-hour news station they had on, which seemed like updates from Armageddon.
    • Masking wasn’t a big thing early on, but hand sanitizing sure was. There was no longer any sanitizer to be found in the stores of course, but my mom had already scored some for all of us.
    • The Great Toilet Paper Shortage: we usually buy in bulk, and purely by coincidence we had a pretty good supply on hand when things went crazy. That was the weirdest panic…
    • For about a week or so before the lock-down, people were basically on their own in terms of guidance for business closures, going to work, etc, and there seemed to be a great deal of confusion and anxiety about it until the lock-down made the rules easy — easy to know at least.
    • In the very last days before the lock-down, we went down to Philly for a socially-distant visit with Ben and Candace. We brought bikes, and rode things like Kelly Drive and MLK Boulevard, and out through Manayunk, which was hopping. That was my first hint that not everyone was going to take the pandemic seriously.
    • When masking became a thing, there were not a lot of N95 masks to go around at first, and crafters and sewers came up with a lot of DIY mask projects to fill the gap. Anne made a ton of these for family and friends.

  • Moving Forward

    Posted on by Don

    We’re late this year, but I’ve been doing some planting in the garden the past few days. I got in some radishes, beets and various lettuce-like things (mustard, arugula) yesterday, and also planted several cuttings from a currant bush a friend gave us.This morning I put in a bunch of potatoes. I expect to be planting a few more things this week, and some warmer-weather stuff like tomatoes and peppers soon. Meantime, our new tree out front continues to thrive. I planted pansies around the base, and I water the lot of them, tree and flowers, every day.

    This afternoon I got back onto Project Creaky Bike: I removed the crank, then removed the bottom bracket bearing housings (they were in fact loose), cleaned and lubed everything and confirmed that the bearings themselves were OK, then put it all back together, nice and snug. I’ll find out soon enough if that solved my creak — hopefully success won’t conjure up a new one…

    I won’t be going riding tomorrow though, because we’re expecting the appliance service guy some time during the day — oven is on the fritz and probably needs a new thermostat or something. Since Tuesday is now also “cello duets day” with my friend Donna H, we’ll probably be playing here tomorrow instead of in her garden, so I can stay close to home. The expected rain held off today, but tomorrow and Wednesday are supposed to be wet. Maybe a ride Thursday?