23 March 2007

Laptop of Death

aka : Fuj you, Fujitsu.

One month after the 3-year warranty expired on my Fujitsu laptop, the LCD light on the screen intermittently died. The computer functioned, but you had to shine a really bright light at the screen to see what was going on there.

Did some research on the 'net and found a DIY page for replacing the LCD inverter : which controls the light, etc. Sometimes, the light works, but the LCD inverter is fouled up and causes the light to not work. That's the case with mine. Intermittent failure of the light = good function / bad connection.

Did some research on the 'net and found that $75 is the cost for a new laptop cover/LCD screen with functioning light --- on eBay.

Kiss that $269 repair estimate good bye.


21 March 2007

Water is Life

Killer Wilder Ride Today

Rode Monday, rained Tuesday, rode Wilder Ranch again Wednesday in perfect clarity -- in sharp contrast to Monday's ride which included the gradually obscured views brought by a rolling fog bank from the North. 4505 acres of park. Get lost!

Theme of the day : Gratitude.

Took Engelsmann high road, left onto to Wild Boar, to Old Cabin, left onto Eucalyptus Loop, left onto Bobcat trail, left up to the Bronze Medallion overlook for a moment to view Monterey Bay, then back down and to the left, across Wilder Ridge trail for a spin around Enchanted Loop, then return on Wilder Ridge going south to turn right onto Zane Gray and connect naturally to Old Dairy trail back to Wilder Ridge and return to the corral and stables.

On the downhill section of Wilder Ridge past the pond, I stopped to watch a bobcat, perched in front of a hole in the field, about 200 feet away. I was downwind, so the cat never smelled me and maybe never heard me as I partook in the aromatherapy. A few minutes later, the bobcat had crept across 40 feet and perched at another hole. Seemingly, this cat was waiting for a mouse, squirrel, rabbit to emerge.

Suddenly, the cat leapt and seized something and brought it back the 40 feet to the original spot and ate it. After, the remains were covered using the front paws, as normal. Tempted to see the remains, I resisted and continued to the beach trail across Hwy One. It's a wildlife preserve that is best left alone.

almost Black Sabbath at the SJ pavilion APR_24

The Heaven and Hell tour, revisited.

Where's Bill Ward?

November 26, 2006

Bill Ward not participating in Heaven & Hell

Bill Ward today announced that he will not be recording new tracks for the "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" CD or playing drums on the "Heaven & Hell" tour arriving in San Jose the 24th of April with Megadeth and Machine Head.

"I realize there has been some speculation as to whether or not I am participating in the Heaven & Hell project," said Ward. "I want to confirm that I will not be involved in either the recordings for the upcoming CD or the subsequent tour. I want to wish the guys ­ Tony, Geezer, Ronnie, and Vinny - much success for the coming year."

Tahrs, Part III

Who's First?

Will the new glass-bottomed U-turn of a vista point overlooking the Grand Canyon become the launching platform first for BASE jumper with a parachute, or for a suicide leap? 4,000 feet is tempting to both groups of people.
Construction of the Skywalk, at top/center

Skywalk artist's rendering

The tempered, laminated Skywalk glass, which is more than two inches thick, was manufactured at a plant in Cologne, Germany. It contains less iron oxide than regular glass, increasing clarity. It's capable of withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and winds of 100 miles per hour.

Hualapai Tribe leaders make a ceremonial walk Tuesday afternoon.
The tempered, laminated Skywalk glass, which is more than two inches thick, was manufactured at a plant in Cologne, Germany. It contains less iron oxide than regular glass, increasing clarity. It's capable of withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and winds of 100 miles per hour.

Height comparison to famous towers of the world

Official site here.

20 March 2007

Nature in the Air

The Devil, Himself Created Inflation

"Inflation’s my name and greed is my game. I deal in dollars and unfortunately for me, I’m still in sad shape. However, the FED, led by Mr. Greenspan decided that nothing less than 17 troubling injections of interest-rate increases could raise the value of the dollar; making it sexier to foreign lenders and more expensive to you. The operating ploy was to claim that it was necessary in order to destroy me or keep me in check. They misled. In reality the increases were like shots of penicillin for me.

"The FED now charges 5 times more for their main product: dollars; and it’s included in everything you buy on credit -- and even for cash. No one worried about me when the United States was running a surplus and all who wanted to work, worked. Things were humming along. I was doomed by the velocity of money, but I am about to have my day. Movement is already coming to a halt and I thrive on adversity.

"Those I love most are the lenders who have re-written and abandoned the old rules defining 'usury.' Of course, she is my best friend and we are happy that she has been let loose. We have had a really lecherous affair since Jimmy was in power -- that is, until Bob nailed me.

"Right now, I’m on the rise, although I’m apprehensive about the inevitable, the day the FED lowers interest rates. But in the meantime, the mortgage lenders and credit card companies are inflating my bubble and you all better beware. I’m on the prowl."



19 March 2007

How Much Can One Man Take?

No, it's not a question of popping pills or listening to rap music against your will.

It's about work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, and more work.

Would that work for you?

16 March 2007

Wilder Ranch - Santa Cruz Mtn Biking

If you begin at the Hwy1 parking just north of SANTA CRUZ, go over the cattle grates, pass the farm and the bridge and climb up Engelsmann. There are two Engelsmann trails at a Y with great signage and mileage. The trail to the left will connect you with Wild Boar to continue up to your next connection. The Engelsmann to the right is an easier grade. It's a sweeping bow to the right, uphill, around the more direct route on the left (which is a slightly steeper grade).

Either way, you arrive at the intersection to take Old Cabin Trail. This is sweet singletrack of pine needles and speed. It's not marked one-way, but it should be ridden one-way. After a shallow descent in the forest and a quick & shallow climb, a fleeting moment of perfect, flowy singletrack carries the cyclist... and the trail dips across the creek and up -continually- until you emerge from the forest, and will make a T-intersection with a fireroad called Eucalyptus Loop.
Turn right and climb up to the benches at the Euc Grove. Gaze over the treetops at the infinity edge pool that is the Pacific Ocean.

With the ocean on your left shoulder, continue the same direction on Euc Loop on a gravel over a fireroad downhill at 25+ in the ///loose gravel/// and at the bottom, shoot straight into the bushes on the Enchanted Loop trail. The final option from the fireroad before it merges with an old asphalt road and goes uphill, is a singletrack that Ys off to the right, straight into a clearing in the brush. It's safe.

With low sunlight, amber lenses are recommended here.
This trail soon emerges into the ///bright open/// on a chalky-rocky-dirty continuation of Enchanted Loop toward the Pacific, then a singletrack veers right, straight into the brush again. Amber lenses are recommended here. This trail and Old Cabin are the best legal parts of Wilder. Not as flowy here, more stairsteps and some technical with a climb out into the ///bright open/// after the stream crossing. Challenging climb in mud.

Next T or Y intersection, stay left and downhill.
(There's a brass medallion geological marker on a bluff if you climb right and uphill.) So, left and slightly DH, take the southern link of Wilder Ridge trail to Zane Grey to Old Dairy trail: a sandy hardpack section of a singletrack that develops into a killer 18" wide sandy pinball channel of ///loose sand/// and takes you to a hardpack fire road sometimes puddles, sometimes grass patches, called Wilder Ridge Loop where you cycle toward the coast and sweep left downhill, then make a right hand u-turn at the horse stables that you'll now recognize.

15 March 2007

When do you reward your people for less production?

I was negotiating a pay raise with my supervisor today and he actually said that he is paying one of my peers -- who works outside of the office -- a pay rate that is 7.5% higher than mine because he would be doing only 5 transactions per year. (that 5 number is pretty low for our industry)
I told him that I would accept that program. "I'll work less to earn a higher commission."

Those terms weren't cemented. We agreed on something else.

If he had agreed to that even higher raise for doing only 5 transactions for the rest of the year, it would have been my exit strategy to do them in two months and move on.

Bikini Mud Wrestling w/o the Mud

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

A video is worth sharing and replaying.

Ahhhhh, Spring is in the Air

Ahhhhh, Spring is in the Air... And the college kids on the beaches are drunk and under the influence of raging hormones + peer pressure to excel as this annual event marks the beginning of mating season.

How do you make a hormone? Don't pay her.

14 March 2007

Technical Clothing at Real World Prices

Most of the Ski/Snowboard/Mtn Bike clothing that I'm buying lately is truly discounted. Sure, I can buy the 2007 styles and pay full retail to select precisely what I want from the current offerings. The key word is "want". What I need is 2006 or 2005 versions at huge discounts. That's normally what I'm buying.

On yesterday's killer ride, I wore one of the four same Fox Base Shorts that I've been wearing for two "seasons" now. Picked them up on eBay for $9.00 a pair, with shipping about the same, so I got "smart" and started buying two at a time. Normally, about $35-40. A lot of bike shorts sell for $65 - 125 for Oakley and other inflated brands.

Also wore --for the first time-- one of two identical Fox Base Jerseys bought over the winter online at www.steepandcheap.com for $12 each. Normally, about $35-40. A lot of bike jerseys begin at $65 online. And there's nothing really to the polyester spins they sell. Three pockets in the back of the jersey. Big effing deal. If this was wool, I could see the price justification.

I want to buy the $10-12 socks made for mountain biking. Typically, darker colors (not white) low rise, wool blends. I buy the $5 factory seconds at the local bike chain called Performance. Picked up a great pair of Salomon shoes with a BOA type lacing system for $65 at The Sports Basement (former Fry's location in Sunnyvale). Easily $100 at full retail.

OK. quasiRant over.

13 March 2007

Fremont Older Ranger Recon Ride

The downlow on the P.O. and the PoPo at F.O. - March 13th

Ride on, Toyon! It was Seventh Springs Heaven + all the other localized cliches. Today, we had really just excellent riding conditions. A few laps and loops and I'm outta there.

I stop on the tight n twisty to let 2 joggers pass and ask them,
"Have you seen any Rangers today?" None.

Bombing down to the eucalyptus creek crossing and I see two youngsters of 67 years, hiking my way. I make a complete stop and then perch on the downside of the trail to allow their pass.
She says to he, "Oh, look, he screeched to a stop for us."
I smile as they walk past, "It's the right thing to do."

Passing two lovebirds staring off toward Mt. Hamilton and (quite clearly today all points in between), the guy asks me "Do you have the time?" I smile "I really don't". And it's true. a) I haven't seen my bike computer in five weeks. b) I don't wear a watch in the wild. c) and, hey pal : go forget yourself for bringing TIME into my consciousness out here. Don't do that to people. Make a freakin' sundial.

On the final exit, I pass a cyclist and givim my standard "What's up, man?"
He volunteered : "There's a Ranger up ahead."
"Thannnk you!"

I rode slowly until I said hello to Ms. Ranger.
She heard me coming around the switchbacks -- near the Restoration Area sign -- riding on those noisyass Chris Kings and she was nearly in a defensive stance when my surprisingly slow speed relaxed her out of that pouncy profile.

5'4", about a buck ten, sandy blondy to the collar. Nice woman.
She was armed with a backpack full of Ranger tickets and Radar guns, I'm sure. OK, I'm not sure of that, but she had a backpack!! and could have.. been... a terrorist in disguise!! but I'm thinking she was definitely there for enforcement.
She says to me: "Couldn't ask for anything more". She was sooo right.

Thanks, again, Ranger warning cyclist dude on the trail today.

Fade out to, the Bud Light song "Real American Heroes"...

This was a couple minutes before 3pm.
How I know you say? I couldn't get TIME out of my head and had to ask somebody in the parking lot.

Somebody asked me online here how the P.O. was today, so I told him I'd post it:

Poison Oak is sprouting in all the usual spots this season : shady areas facing Moffett Field on Seven Springs, dark side of Ridge Trail, a few meters of Garrod and the other killer trails like Horse Puckey, Oyster Moisture, Turtle Snot or whatever people are calling them now. I can't remember them all. Nice thing is that it's pretty much cut back from the edges of the trails right now. Usually doesn't start encroaching until after May. We've had such a La Nina winter that things aren't overgrown; Might not even happen for '07.

What kinda tahrs are those?

View looking up the street where I be livin'.

The local weather has settled from snow on the East hills of Mt. Hamilton, to a consistent 75F in three weeks. Welcome to Silicon Valley. Lube your chain.

Here's the tread pix, monolog below.

Only the tire is blurry. Everything else is in focus.

Found myself on the losing end of a risk against nature and the laws of gravity and friction let me down. Literally, I slid off the edge of the easiest trail in Los Gatos and left some skin. Checked the rubber on the MTB and found my tried and trusty rear tire had enough mileage to warrant replacement by now...

I was happy to finally have a reason (and the right weather conditions) to mount and test the Panaracer Rampage 2.35 folding tire at about 730 grams. 120 grams more with a tube TYVM. Not running that tubeless goop and buying an air compressor. Not having any flats lately, either. If I find myself clearing goat head thorns, I'll go tubeless then.

Results: Nicely ramped center knobs for low rolling resistance. Siping that looks like x and + for additional traction. Wide casing for strength and an aramid / kevlar bead for weight savings over the optional steel bead. Great contact patch. Fairly predictable ride characteristics and finally down from $47 to a decent price of $32.


11 March 2007

Time Warp, Part II

Our seasonal time warp has arrived!

Change the clocks!

View the video!

You'll Never See it Coming

See it now.

You won't have this perspective when the Abomb detonates near you.


06 March 2007

Tube of the Month

Been running some 2.3 tires on the front. Averaging a 2.1 in the rear for lower weight and faster spinning. Bought a grip of these tubes pictured for four fifty each. The shop guy weighed them and said 105g. Check back for a My-Eye weigh session. Bontrager racelite tubes in the sizes of 2.3, 2.2, 2.1 were sold out.

Keeping Warm With a Flashlight

I had this super bright, hot rodded Mini Maglight set up at 7volts in a nylon belt case in my pocket one rainy night outside last week.
I never smelled anything burning. There was no warning.
With one "rabbit ear" I could see the light burnt through my cargo pocket seam threads. Then, I noticed the hole in the nylon case it had to burn through first!!
- that was close!!
A custom $1.50 glass lens instead of the stock plastic lens is what saved it from some kinda meltdown. And me.

Aluminum shiny reflector cone instead of the chromed plastic stocker.
It's all set up to run bright and flawless -- and it does.
You just can't accidentally turn it on.

It's Been a Lonnng Cool Winter

I was checking out this tray and chocolate

the morning after some people stopped by.

Curiously placed half-remaining Hershey's Milk Chocolate.