Not Making Any Small Plans

Went up North. The first two days involved cold wet feet on iced, melting snow and snowshoe tracks. The next day we awoke colder to a fresh 8 inches and still falling. We ran in the snow on the roads. The following morning we ran again, faster and longer, on the icy shoulder. I Nordic skied in the sunny afternoon. Next we awoke early again and skied, it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the train south. It was good seeing friends.

Hudson River North

Hudson River North

Finally, a 3oz insulated espresso shot glass

Like many residents of this city an occasional stop at the “Starbucks Public Restroom Service” happens, but as I was waiting on line I found a set of Bodum 3oz Insulated Shot glasses with ounce increment markings for sale ($10.95).

As far as I can tell these do not exist on the internet and I think they are an older version of the Bodum Assam 2oz shot glass.  The glass I’d been searching for was from a specialty coffee distributor called Rattleware who make a 3oz mini shot pitcher, but these insulated Bodums (with a silicone pressure regulation seal at the bottom, no less) appear perfect for pulling up to 3oz shots and are certainly nicer to drink espresso out of.

Bodum Assam 2oz, the version I have has straight walls and 1 & 2oz interval markings, allowing up to 3oz total volume

Bodum Assam 2oz: the version I bought has parallel straight glass walls and two 1oz interval markings, allowing up to 3oz total volume

Rattleware 3oz Mini PItcher

Rattleware 3oz Mini Shot Pitcher

‘Gunks, Birdie Party and a short traverse

Bill L. and I took a trip up on Monday to the Shawangunks and the Trapps.  I can’t remember the first meandering “3 star” 5.8 we got on but it wasn’t particularly great.  The view from the top of the cliff line was though and the sun was out, so I couldn’t complain.  We hunted around the top until we found a rap anchor on a solid oak tree.  We walked down to the MAC wall with eight thousand other climbers and pet dogs running wild, tried to get on “Higher Stannard” but Bill took the line up “Something Interesting” instead.  It was longer than we anticipated and there was traffic at the top due to “The Route Formerly Known as Three Pines“, a solo-top roper and two other slow parties.

Thankfully all was not lost, Bill insisted we get on one last line up to the bolt anchors on “Birdie Party” just to the right about 15ft of “Higher Standard“.  He climbed up to the bolts and then did a wicked 20 foot almost no footed traverse to the 1st set of bolt anchors for “Mother’s Day Party“.  It was exciting to say the least.  Bill runs 1/2 ropes, the Petzl 8.2 Dragonflys, and when I unclipped from the 1st anchor he still had a cam and two slings around the pointed beginning of the hand traverse (rope #2) but from that point on it was, “just keep moving, nothing to see here”; don’t think about the swing.  The climbing on “Birdie Party” was the best face climbing we’d done all day and the hand traverse was icing on the cake.   The sun set as we rappelled off the 2nd bolt anchor and cold valley air permeated the crag; just another beautiful day climbing in the ‘Gunks.

V1 Octalink? 105 or Dura Ace, you choose!

I found this awesome quote in while looking for setup tips on the old Dura-Ace 7700  Bottom Bracket:

The Octalink crank attachment, its feet of clay, has no preload
between the facets of the square spline and therefore frets (tiny
motion] elastically, even if it has no actual backlash in torque.
Aluminum parts against steel are a classic of this syndrome because
the softer aluminum frets on the steel, and instead of developing
rouge as steel-on-steel does, it makes (hard) aluminum oxide whose
repeated fracture often makes a sharp click.

I haven’t heard your BB, but I have heard such clicks.  This may be
your problem and the reason why Shimano gave up on Octalink.  Elastic
backlash (absence of press fit) is a phenomenon that escapes
recognition in various mechanical devices and gets passed over in
time, even when the reason is not recognized.

Jobst Brandt
So there you have it from JB himself – Octalinks may develop clicking due to their design.  We’ll see.  I’m not sure if the weight savings and extra $30 are worth it for the DA BB-7700 vs the BB-5500 but I’m partial to designs that allow rebuild and proper setup/adjustment, so I think I just might go for it paired with a Sugino Cospea compact crankset.  In my heart of hearts I want a triple with that 12-21 cassette I’m running, something like a 28-38-48 perhaps.  The current 34/44 setup is fine considering I don’t often find myself needing much bigger of a gear than 28+ mph but on downhills it is lacking.  The other issue being crossover gears where I often find myself running 34 x 12-13-14 and realize I need something slightly bigger.

Sugino Cospea Cranks

Sugino Cospea Cranks

Gunks’ V4 – early bike rides & Bing!

Ryan and I went to the East Trapps yesterday to Boxcar and Andrew’s Boulder problem. I mananged to send the normal Andrew’s V4 problem by late in the afternoon. No luck on the Black Rock V5, and the V3 Baby Hole almost went, but we wanted to save a little skin and tendon strength for Andrew. The heel hook to toe catch seems to be crucial, there are some more challenging variations on it, including the roof, so I look forward to going back to it.

Went for a bike ride in Central Park at 06:30 with some co-workers. Seems crazy, but I feel good. Zoe informed me that Bing! is not finding my page yet, and I know there are quite a few optimizations I can make to get more hits of out of this thing. WordPress has gone to 2.8.1 so I probably should upgrade which might help. That’s about all I got. Lots of Gimme! fresh roasted Platinum Blonde blend these days, should’ve brought a samovar with me to the Gunks yesterday, I think it would’ve helped assist more sends.

Awesome awesomeness

So things have been busy but going pretty well, in comparison to the Winter at least.  I’m having another go at MythBuntu 8.04 LTS on the old PIII as the Myth Back-End.  I built our Front-End this afternon.  It’s a E5200 Core Duo chip, the motherboard is based on Intel’s 4100 chipset and is made by Gigabyte. I ended up with an MSI made Nvidia GeForce 9400 GT PCI-Express x16 v2.0 video card which should be able to offload my the processing needed for HDTV and h.264 1080p video playback, from what I’ve read anyhow VDPAU and Linux have come along nicely especially in the 9.04 release which is what I’ll run on the Front-End.  The MSI supports two digital heads simultaneously over HDMI and DVI.  Unfortunately the one Antec 120mm fan is quite noisy while the other Enermax 120mm is dead quiet.  Lesson learned.  I was going to buy two of those but I cheapened out.

The case itself is pretty solid, it’s an Antec Sonata III and it came with a nice EarthWatts 500w power supply and originally I was considering trying to find a different case and keep the PSU, but I think it’ll work out.  I would say that you shouldn’t stuff like four 3.5″ SATA HDDs in this case, it’d be too hot and noisy.  I may need to buy some sound deadening padding for the walls of the case and do a little dremmel cutting to open up some grating that seems to be blocking airflow.  I was considering doing this at the Pratt metal shop but the prospect of dragging this case all the way down there was too daunting and besides, who doesn’t need a rotary cutting tool?

So yeah.  A bit of the ‘ole bike commuting across the Williamsburg bridge.  The weather has stayed pretty friendly and I’ve been taking sailing classes which have been a lot of fun.  That’s all.  Lets hope the new builds workout here so Zoe can start recording more model TV shows.




My goodness, that’s good coffee!

I’ve been drinking the Stumptown Hairbender blend, usually as a “tall black” AKA an Americano (with nearly equal amounts espresso to water) at Sweet Leaf down the street.  It’s really good.  Basically, it trumps most all the other coffee I’ve had in this city, which until lately has been chock full of not very good coffee.  In the past I’ve enjoyed both Grumpy and Gimme’.  Don’t get me wrong, they were good.  And maybe I’ll do some sort of coffee round up and see how the shots these shops pull compare, but for right now, it’s insane.  The level has been elevated that much higher now that Stumptown is in town.  I’m glad for it.

I had a MySQL database failure (thanks Dreamhost) but fortunately I backup daily.  Unfortunately my backup was Latin1 and not UTF-8, because I started using WordPress like 4 years ago.  Anyhow, it’s all converted now to UTF-8 and looks like things are OK.  Aris pointed out that perhaps my CAPCHA plugin is doing something funky, I’ll look into it.

The new SiliconDust HD HomeRun Tuner came in the mail.  Zoe is excited about MythTV recording her shows for her.  I am very sad that Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles is ending this week, it’s like I’ve lost a child who’s going to war.  Only it’s a war in the future with evil robots.  And my son’s name is John.  John Connor.  Also I’m pretty stoked about JJ Abrams’ new Star Trek.  From the previews it appears ILM might’ve increased the SFX production values, though there probably won’t be any tribbles.  I love tribbles.  And Stumptown.

Metal Shop and Pop: Sheet Steel and You

So I went down to NC for a couple of days to build a welding table with my Dad.  It turned out pretty nicely all things considered.  We needed more practice on our MIG welds, but constructing a 4×4 foot table proved to be good exercise.  We added a small 26 inch long extension off one side that will be my Dad’s cutting area where he’ll slot in steel strap for cutting with his plasma cutter and or Oxy-Acetylene torch if he ever goes that route.  So that was a pretty solid few days of work.  At the metal shop in Brooklyn I’ll have a slightly different tack for building a base for our kitchen counter.  My plan there is to build metal brackets to go around the 3×3″ wooden legs and then finish the skirt with wood and hanging drawers.  Zoe’s aunt has a bed that will replace ours as I’ll be cutting up  the bed frame I build to use for the legs.

Finished. 1/4″ sheet is heavy

MIG – tucked in to prevent death from rotary cutting tools

Still Not Ice Climbing – but lets build a MythTV!

Sadly my Saturdays and Sundays have not been filled with ice climbing trips to hidden frozen waterfalls of the Northeast.  My hand feels better despite having a small gash where it hit the edge of the BMW car door. I imagine I’ll be able to go back to the MPHC climbing gym soon.  

I miss the outdoor rock.  Ryan, Josh and I went on a few climbing trips before it got cold and before weddings and Texas.  Ryan has photos of us climbing in the Gunks and Brewster, NY available here: these are just a sampling.


Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Peterskill - Mark, Josh

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan in Peterskill

Ryan, Ice Pond

Ryan, Ice Pond


Mark's hand Ice Pond

Mark's hand, Ice Pond















I spent most of yesterday reading about MythTV.  If you feel like setting up an open source home DVR (TiVo like) then Mythbuntu or KnoppMyth seem to be a couple good stable options for creating a home Linux TV recording solution.  Obviously this will only work if your signal is “free and clear”. Dish, DirecTV, ComCast, Time Warner and basically any cable or satellite provider, encrypts all premium content.  So on the one hand, local network channels and basic cable should be “free and clear” (over digital cable local channels are usually free using QAM) but with satellite it’s more likely you’ll need to rent the DVR from them.  The only reason I’ve been considering it is because I’ve needed some sort of iTunes server back-end (see my Firefly MT-DAAPD post) and it might as well DVR network HD shows we want to watch.  Also, our ATSC tuner is old (2nd or 3rd generation) and I think the latest 5th or 6th gen tuner chipset should allow us to get all the local HD broadcast channels without fussing with the antenna. 

There are three parts to most MythTV setups, which could all be integrated into one system or distributed into three smaller systems:

  • The back-end is your dedicated server which should have low power and processing requirements.  I’ve been looking at the MSI Wind ‘Nettop barebones PC (MSI’s product page) which sells on Newegg for like $139.99.  It uses an intel Atom 1.6GHz processor with minimal power draw, I think around 35 Watts max, but you could probably optimize it to use somewhat less than this.  Obviously, HDTV content takes up a fair amount of disk space, so for starters lets say a 1.0 Terrabyte hard disk drive.
  • The actual TV tuner (which now ‘a days will need to be digital ATSC HDTV compatible, unless you still have analog cable) could be as simple as a PCI card in the back-end but something even cooler is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun.  This product is two ATSC tuners in one.  It transfers HD broadcasts from over-the-air (or QAM) to your server via ethernet.  It requires DHCP to obtain an IP address, but otherwise it’s just a little box with one 10/100 ethernet jack and two antenna inputs; ATSC to IP as it were. Your back-end will recognize it as two tuners in the setup. You could watch one while the other records or both could record simultaneously.
  • The front-end will be how you actually watch the content you have archived. Say you ripped all your DVD’s and you’ve been time-shifting several seasons of Top Chef, the “front-end” is what will do the heavy lifting of playback depending on the bit rate and resolution of the video.  It should look just like any other media playback menu.  From my reading, MPEG-2 is the optimal format to save content to (thankfully DVD and ATSC signals are already MPEG-2 so no transcoding is required) and MPEG-4/h.264 require more horsepower on your machine to playback smoothly.  My MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.0 GHz would be a fine front-end however I’d need to plug it in to watch shows.  I’d be able to watch live TV wirelessly on the laptop anywhere in the house though. Note: the Elgato EyeTV is another option for Mac OS X HDTV time shifting however it doesn’t have the front-end/back-end model, your laptop has to be on and plugged into the tuner to record.
Yup.  So that’s where I’m at.  I’ve already wired the 1GigE cable to the bedroom.  I still need to do a cable run to the kitchen, but that’s not really a priority.  I think having a small machine like the Wind PC in a closet would be a nice way to have both an iTunes server and a DVR.  Apparently MythWeb allows you to easily setup recording from your web browser, so you just login and set the shows you want to watch for the week and let the back-end do its job.  There are ways to “Sling” content to yourself if you’re out of town or something, but personally I think I could wait until I’m home, and besides most of the content by the big networks is instantly available online now for free viewing.

Getting doored & handlebar shapes a New York rite of passage

So Zoe and I were having a lazy Saturday after having some Astoria coal fired thin crust pizza at a nice Italian place on Broadway and 29th called “Sac’s Pizza Place” (it was quite good) anyhow, we were biking back home down Broadway to Vernon Blvd. and there was a line of traffic probably heading to Cost Co. and just before making it to the light at the intersection WHAM! I was sprawled out on the ground, me and my ’72 Gitane. A nice older couple pulled over to offer assistance and add themselves as witnesses.  It was cold out and I was a bit worried about going into shock if I had broken anything.  

We weren’t riding very fast, and the guy in his BMW 528xi didn’t bother to check his mirror.  He clipped my right hand and handlebar and I managed to roll my left shoulder into the ground.  After the nice elderly couple gave me a piece of paper and pen, they gave me their name and number, I wrote down the BMW’s plate, went up to talk to him, asked him if he had insurance, he did.  Turns out he owned a Limo/Car Service place across the street.  He was just going to work.  I said, “Look it’s cold and I don’t think my hand is broken. I don’t want to file a police accident report here, I just want your name and number in case anything else is up. ”  So that was it.  Zoe and I walked halfway home, then rode a short section on 21st St.  We went to Lennox Hill Hospital to have the hand and wrist X-rayed.  Thankfully nothing appears to be broken.  I’ve iced it for the last few hours, kept it elevated and have a bandage on it.  Good times.  

Scotty, a guy who used to be messenger in the 80s and who I’ve worked on films with mentioned “getting doored” one day when he looked at my bike’s handlebars (which are chopped “preacher bars” like Soma Fab’s “Noah’s Arc Bar“) as they offer no hand protection.  He said that he always preferred drop bars on a track bike, as they offer some protection.  I thought about this, and figured that its better to have narrower bars than protection.  Well, after hitting the edge of a car door today with my right hand – I amend my position – I’d rather have handlebars that offer protection.  

Sadly, there just aren’t many that offer this.  European style Trekking bars are good, but quite wide (usually 57cm end-to-end) and they require a longer higher stem.  Also the fact is Trekking bars raise the dork quotient of your bike by about %1,000.  Scott Components used to make a mountain bike handlebar that fits the bill called the Scott AT-4 Pro, it was a continuously curved mountain bar.  Similarly, the shape I want is a curved flatbar (like my arc’ed preacher) that then curves back around the front in a U shape for each side, about 40 cm wide.  The Scott AT-3’s did this to some extent but I think it’s important for the curves to come pretty far in so that they don’t get caught objects while riding.  Anyhow, Rivendell and Velo-Orange don’t really sell bars for “aggressive urban” hand protection.  I’m taking a metal shop class at Pratt these next 8 weeks, so hopefully I’ll be able to make something to rectify this situation, otherwise I should probably throw on some drop handlebars.  


A Trekking Handle bar setup from Coweater on Flickr

Soma Fab's - Noah's Arc Bar

Arc, not so good for your hand on door

This sort of bar would protect your hands

This sort of bar would protect your hands

This one might get caught on stuff

This one might get caught on stuff

Special Day Photo Secrets

So, we’ve learned the hard way that when you’re about to get married you should reformat your camera’s memory card.  Reformat it three times, actually.  Wipe it clean, freshy frischmacher clean.  The Canon PowerShot SD800 IS had really never given us any major trouble, it’s been a good little point and shoot.  But as we found out the hard way (after losing I think about 40% of our wedding day photos to bad writes/corruption) you should alway reformat your flash memory cards after dumping the photos onto your computer.  I attribute a lot of it to the fact that we’d kept some photos on the card but deleted others, and I think it’s likely iPhoto was writing to the card somehow screwing with FAT16 system.  The moral is this: download all your photos then reformat your card “in camera” using the camera’s menu setup, each and every time.

Thankfully we had a friend shoot two rolls of film on an old fully manual Minolta SRT 101 35mm camera and a bunch of those came out, so it’s all good.  And we could always reshoot it once it’s not 10 degree outside and snowing.  Or we could do one month anniversary photos.  

The best software I found for free file/image recovery was Zero Assumption Recovery. The other software, that seems to be the best for the 2GB SanDisk SD card was Rescue Pro by LC Technology in the UK.  ZAR gave me similar results though.  I also tried PhotoRescue, however it did not recover as many photos as the other two.

Here are the best pics from two rolls of film: A Wedding on Film

And here are the best digital pictures we saved: Zoe & Mark Get Married

More gauzy flare


Kissing (in front of fountain)

Flowers and dress

The Radio

So there are a couple of stations local to NJ/NY that I really like. One is WKCR 89.9 FM Columbia University, and the other which I first stumbled upon when moving to New York is WFMU 91.1 & 90.1 FM. When I was driving my stuff up through Jersey four years ago they had this amazing set of music from the 60’s (and if I had known about their webpage I would’ve been able to get the playlist). Both these sites obviously have live streams online, but for better quality I’m going to buy an actual radio tuner. Hopefully something compact with digital sync.

Which leads me to the question, how is it that with a fresh installation of Windows XP SP3 Windows Media Player cannot instantly play .PLS playlist streams? Why do i have to upgrade to WMP 11? or 13? How is it, that 10 years ago Winamp could play streams but Microsoft chose not to add this ability natively. I’m sure there is a way to make it work in WMP 9 or 10 but how in the world did Microsoft not see this as being important? John C. Dvorak had a good article in PC Magazine (his Windows 7 “wishlist”) expressing amazment that something as simple as VLC Media Player can do everything WMP can and more without requiring an upgrade or a reboot or Vista. And he has a reasonable point when he mentioned code base improvements. When I installed Leopard on my Core Duo it actually ran faster than Tiger. That was one of the biggest reasons I was hesitant, but now that I know OS’s can actually improve in speed over time on the same system, really it must blow Microsoft’s collective mind. Also, as aside do you know what plays them just fine?  iTunes.  Do you suppose people running Window’s have installed iTunes on their machines due to WMP’s shortcomings? I’m just punting here.

Still talking about music, I watched the bio-pic Control about the band Joy Division.  It was good.  The movie’s sound quality and sound mix in general were fantastic.  It co-starred Alexandra Maria Lara who I had just seen in Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, she played the French-Belgian ‘zine writer that Ian Curtis had an affair and fell in love with while the band toured Europe.  She and Sam Riley (Ian Curtis) were pretty good as the hot young couple that complemented Curtis’ life outside of Manchester to his young wife Deborah (Samantha Morton) with their daughter.  I don’t know what the moral was, except that it was sad, he was young and that epilepsy treatment especially at that time was still hit or miss.  Now to find a decent used tuner.

Friday Night 3AM, Prostitutes on Clinton

I’ve spent what feels like the last two months working either splits or overnights. Last night was under the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan side, one of Olafur Eliasson’s waterfalls is fully visible, but at night the LEDs seem somewhat dim.

Riding up East Broadway to Clinton on my way to the W’burg Bridge I nearly ran over a hooker who had positioned herself in the bike lane presumably for callers in motorized transport. Granted, I am only speculating she was a woman of the night, but there was a man nearby who I believe was her pimp and he did holler some indecipherable at me as I passed.

As I climbed the bridge’s bikepath I had various thoughts, namely how many Johns actually solicit while riding their bicycles? Which led me to think about bearded potbellied men on recumbents, tandem recumbents more prcisely, trolling the LES and Chinatown late at night with an empty seat hoping to score. It’s a funny image I think. And surely a boon to the image of large bearded men on recumbents everywhere.

A final thought: riding my bicycle is faster than taking the subway. I supposed I knew this, and most nights my excuse has been that I was so tired, why would I want to ride home? But the best reply to this is twofold: 1) after a long night riding home is a good way to unwind 2) there is literally no traffic in NY city at 5am. Seriously, I had some beautiful rides home coming up through the damp verdant jungle that is the east side of Prospect Park Brooklyn, riding home from Church Ave. Also at 5am, if you are lucky, there will be passed out tight jeans fix’sters on the Williamsburg Bridge who just couldn’t quite make it home from a debaucherous night out in the LES.

So yes, commuting on bicycle has somehow renewed my faith in humanity, even if NY is still far too automobile-centric. My hope, and perhaps it’s closer than we realize is 1000$ per barrel oil and every road a bike lane.

Out of the way old man!

Maggie was in town briefly before heading to work at a clinic in Bolivia for a few weeks.  We were walking through Central Park near Umpire Rock and there is this a middle aged man time-trialing his Cervelo Carbon P3 with matching Zip 404 front and 808 disc (yes a disc! in Central Park!) wheels.  So of course he hits the corner with the intersection path that goes to Columbus Circle at top speed and expects everyone to get out of his way, because you know when you get to carriages and the smell of horse dung, that will really motivate him. He nearly ran over an old guy riding his huffy.  It was really an American Psycho moment.  I hope when he does race his triathlon that he is training for he gets run off the road by a pack of wild dogs.  That’s the least we can pray for really.

go zero

Somehow I miraculously got well today from the whooping cough on my day off, though I still slept in ’til 2pm and Zoe made soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I also drank some Coca-Cola Zero, which if you haven’t tried it, tastes significantly better than Diet Coke. If you’re into diet soda. Or soda at all. Apparently there is a new Cherry Coke Zero but I have not tried it yet. Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi used to be my favorite, but right now I think Coke Zero ‘is it’. What ‘isn’t it’? Working on overnight film shoots in the Winter outdoors of New York. That’s for fucking sure. Sunset Park Railroad Yard, Brooklyn Armory, Hoyt-Schemerhorn tunnel. Check. Done them. Never want to see these places again in my life. Teen thrillers? Just say no. Working in tunnels with broken glass and one inch of soot. Teenage suicide. Don’t do it.

The first two pics are of a place we thought about buying in Jackson Heights Queens. It’s nice and all, but the same money buys in Manhattan near an express stop less than a mile from Central Park and generally should see higher investment return. That’s the idea anyway. This whole process is going to take a little time. Back to the climbing gym with Josh et al tomorrow

New Ikea crap

Loads of space for stuff 900sqft

white fill bounce from underneath

Home from work at 7am