*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Κυνόσαργες

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Tour-Mutt

A new build up from new and old parts.  It's my take on the 'gravel mutt' idea: build a wide-tired rough roads bike as reasonably as possible from your parts bin.  Between the three bikes I have, I've now rebuilt almost every section of a bike, a few times.


The bike's been useful, if heavy.  My wife gave me the money for it as a present in return for her engagement ring: Japanese custom is to give half-back gifts, yeah!  It's been a fixed/free, singlespeed and a 1x5.  I learned enough from it about fixed/free to buy and build a lighter fixed/fixed, and that singlespeed is pointless.  As I have a paved- 'road bike'; this will be my unpaved road, and winter conditions bike.

It's not as economical as 'off the peg', but it is more economical than letting what I had go to waste, besides I wanted to keep the bike my wife bought for me, in some identifiable form.  A friend told me a Canadian Air Force story: you can crash and destroy every part of a plane but it's identification plate, and there's money in the budget to rebuild it, but there's no money in the budget to buy a new plane, even if that comes cheaper.

Since all that is left original is the following, it's a 'tour-mutt':
- touring frame and fork
- Brooks B17N saddle, seatpost and clamp
- headset and stem
- Tektro brake levers and rear low-profile cantilever brake
- Shimano pedals, one side clipless and one flats
- budget racks

I repurposed:
- the triple crank from my Lemond Croix de Fer, and its 26t chainring
- its Shimano 105 triple derailleur (used now as wide-range double)
- a 44t chainring from my fixed/fixed
- 37mm Schwalbe Silento tires from my wife's bike (gave her better rolling ones for pavement)
- parts to make a Shimano 105, 10-speed, 12-27 cassette

I bought for it... too much:
- Nitto Noodle Bar
- tektro cross bar-top levers
- a high-profile cantilever brake for better stopping power, front
- Dia-Compe bar-cons
- Tiagra rear derailleur (without indexed shifting you can mix 9 speed rear and 10 speed front derailleurs)
- 10-speed Shimano 105 chain
- Mavic A319 rim, Deore hub wheelset
- downtube cable-stops
- Arundel Stainless bottle cages
- SKS P50, 700x54mm 'chromoplastic' fenders
- cables and housing as needed
- orange cotton bar-tape, shellacked
- a 50t cross chainring guard

The build was epic in its delayed pace, back-tracking, reverse-engineering, and international sourcing (Canada, Japan and the US).  I could nearly start a business in bikes, if only there were any living in aught but schilling carbon 'dentist bikes'.

It will see use on local unpaved roads, and winter conditions, and I hope further afield.  Maybe even to pull kids in a trailer, as the cross brake levers begin to make it safer to do so.  There's room in that fork of 55mm: I could run 47mm tires for very poor road, so long as I push the fenders higher.

But bike wants are "n+1 , where n is the number of bikes currently owned."  +1 is a 29+ semi-fat, like the Surly Krampus, or 'Ops' version.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Toronto GTA < Chiba

Chiba Prefecture:- population, 6 201 046
- area, 5156.15 km2
- density, 1202.65/km2
- seashore and low mountains
- core population in the north, scenic in its south
- hotsprings
- great fish, it's Japan
- dozens of train lines and a real international airport
- a half hour to an international city (Tokyo) by train or car


Toronto GTA (greater Toronto area):
- population, 6 054 191
- area, 7124.15 km2
- density, 850/km2
- a lakeshore you can't get to
- sprawl to the edges
- gas stations and Tim Horton's, and Tim Horton's in gas stations
- some of the worst Japanese food or fish you can get
- two and a half-subway lines unimproved for half a century
- a half-day to an international city (New York) by plane, if the Americans don't take you aside to assault you


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cutting the TV cable


Cable TV cord-cutters, anyone? Anyone done the HDTV antenna and/or Internet route?

Our new (Toronto) building only has Rogers, which we hate, and no sane Canadian will disagree.  Their cheapest package is $40 and gives us feck-all, and the next option worth considering costs double and adds precious little. We have Bell cellular already (and can add Internet but not Bell TV, because stupidity*).  I want to live long enough to see the cable business die, and Rogers go bankrupt.  Who has a land-line anymore?

If it were up to me, no TV, minimal online streaming.  That's how my English media rolled in Japan.  In Japan, reading I could not do without; TV shows just jerk you around to watch more commercials; I missed watching movies, but not enough to do much about it.  My J-wife watches too much TV, even though Japanese TV's about as pleasant as a root canal done by a vaginaless sex-bot with a dental drill voice, the dentist's office painted in bad trip on 'Tina'.  So of course she wants Japanese TV 'for the kids': NHK.

We can get one Japanese TV channel from Rogers or Bell for $20, on top of the cost of any other service: $40 for the most basic, which has only what we'll pick up free with an antenna from the unit we have high up, facing the right direction.  So, fuck cable from our last choice company: we're going with a 'smart tv', HD antenna, Netflix subscription**, and a 'Wavecast' box sending shows from her mother's for Japanese indoctrination: hooks into Japanese cable input, and Internet for output including cloud storage PVR.   I might buy our own PVR to store English shows, except why bother when I can watch from Netflix on my own schedule.

I'm going to be run out of this most conventional city for breaking the PB mold:
- no cable
- no car
- no diet of sugar
- no half-million-plus mortgage on next to no money down
- no willingness to line-up at 'happening' restaurants

*Not available in building, even though good Bell Internet is, and the speed is high enough to support Bell TV which comes via Internet.  Rogers bought off the builder?
**Of course I would never use a proxy to access the US' much better service...




Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Teachers in Ontario aren't given computers... 2014?


Anyone have experience with a Chromebook?  I need something dirt cheap for simple tasks to teach my class as my school board's so fucking stupid teachers don't get a computer of their own in... 2014!  

My principal actually repeated the same imbecility used when I started in 2000: 'computers are for the children, not the teachers'.  Funny they expect me to complete reports on them, check my board email, and more, yet stolen minutes in the computer lab when someone else's class is trying to find computers still working doesn't cut it. Principals must be attending the same administrator's seminar as the first moron who repeated something at me too stupid to ever exit my mouth in earnest.  It was stupid fourteen years ago, and the expansion of the web hasn't made it less so, you know?

Entering a new school, was it too early to give my principal my 'are you fucking stoned?' look?  Too bad.  Good impression gone, as if it would have lasted.

Advice on the cheapest tool to use web, Word and Excel, please. I refuse to put any real money in.  If it isn't stolen or broken, it's still too beyond belief it isn't standard staff equipment for me to pony-up much.  There's going to be no personal data on the thing, most items stored online (no children's surnames or other identifiers).  Thanks.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Utopia, The City


Turns out More's Utopia was Copenhagen.  Never been.

My perfect city could be made of a combination of others, and I'm wise enough to base it only on those I've been to:
- Vancouver's geography
- Toronto's seasons, tree cover, diversity and employment opportunity
- Montréal's je ne sais quoi and affordability
- London's museums and history
- Lisbon's architecture and people
- Bangkok's temples and river
- Singapore's food
- Hong Kong's ordered chaos
- Tokyo's transit, density, dining and drinking culture
- Osaka, because Osakans aren't Tokyoites
- York's and Québec's extant walls
- Xiamen's Gulangyu, a car-free ex-foreign concession island with lived-in pre-Pacific War poly-European architecture

No use for Washington's imperialism, Ottawa's tedium, Chicago's Mid-Western boredom (but maybe its waterfront), Taipei's legacy of deluded grandeur (apart from The National Palace Museum), a single thing from LA, or much from cities under a million.

Tokyo wins most, but the climate and the concrete hurt its standing badly.  Toronto nearly as many, but fuck it's uncool.