Wed, 26 Mar 2008

The HMSDB Order of the Flaming Meatball

After dawdling and dinking with it for over a year, I finally got the last part [1] needed to make the Flaming Meatball ridable, if just slightly not complete. So after work today I put the seatpost and saddle on, and took it out to the parking lot of the apartment for a little bit of a spin.

Holy Jebus, what fun. Also, there are certainly muscles in my legs that haven't been used since last fall. I think a good goal for next winter is to do some riding at least — living in the Midtown neighborhood will mean that I can take less traveled side streets and be safe, instead of having to maneuver down Golfside and Clark and environs, making that a much easier goal. Anywho, nothing seemed to fall off, which was enheartening, since I'm totally faking knowing what I'm doing here. I could feel the rear cog slipping a bit, which is to be expected (my body mass pedling can certainly torque it more than I could with a cog-wrench); I'll need to remember to tighten down the lockring. Also, I really need to get some break cable, at least for the front break. I should also put the clip pedals on the Zephyr (which has been missing pedals since last fall) and put flats on — I'm not sure mastering clips and riding a fixie are the best goals to combine. Some work still needs to be done, and I need to get a rattle-can of clear paint to cover over a few chips in the paint, but it's mostly done.

[1]: Apparently, 25.0 mm seat posts (not 25.4, not 26 and above) is something of a rarity. At least, it is on eBay [2]. Oh, there's a lot of old Campy ones there, but apparently they're all coated with the blood of Tulio Himself and rabid monkeys like to drop more on them than I do.

[2]: Don't worry, the Local Bike Shops get plenty of business from me. In fact, this weekend one of them is going to sell me a decent floor pump with a gauge on it, since the crufty thing I'm using is showing its age, has no gauge, and with Presta valves I can't go steal the pressure gauge out of the car (which goes up high enough for what I put in the three-speeds' tires, but not in this thing).

Posted at: 22:05 | category: /bicycle/2008/03 | Link

Sat, 15 Mar 2008

The Ides of March, 2008

Today was a glorious day, at least by the standards of the weather we've been having around here lately. Mid-40s and sunny, warm enough to wander about town wearing a long-sleeved shirt and vest. Which is exactly what I decided to do after noon after decided that the weather was to nice to stay inside and clean.

I started with my favorite fair-weather activity, wandering around Riverside Park and taking pictures. After an hour or so of doing that, I meandered over to Depot Town, and happened to take a fortuitus duck into one of the antique stores there because I saw some books. After wandering about a bit, I picked up a couple of books about Ypsilanti (the first volume of the book published by the Depot Town Association back in 1999, and a copy of the 1973 Ypsilanti city charter). The lady who ran the store was chatting with a friend of hers, and was joined buy the guy who runs the store next door. When she saw my books, she pointed me at two other books in a part of the store I had only glanced at, which had a 1920's history of Ypsilanti and some early photographs of town. This lead to a fifteen minute chat with the three of them, in which I picked up little historical tidbits and had the Ypsilanti Historical Society recommended to me.

Being a nice day outside still, and the Ypsilanti Historical Society being just around the corner up on South Huron, I wandered on up. I had always wanted to stop in but never did, and today was as good of day as any. Two nice ladies showed me, and a couple with a young child from Novi that showed up a few minutes after me, the lovely Dow House that the YHS is housed in. It's really a treasure trove, and I will certainly be back there. The highlight was the beautiful Tiffany stained glass window that was originally in the Starkweather Library just down the street. There's also down in the basement a wonderful archive which anyone can come down and ask for help in finding materials, which I certainly will be using in the future. Perhaps I can finally find out what is up with the apparent editing of the statue of Demtrius Ypsilanti that I talked about in issue 0 of Late Night Thinking.

After I wandered through I talked briefly to one of the ladies who was there, who suggested that I show up sometime to do docent training and volunteer as a docent. I think I'll take that up sometime, as it sounds like something fascinating.

Finally I made it to my traditional ending point, the Ugly Mug, for some coffee and wireless. Photos I took today will appear here as soon as they filter up through the toobes.

Posted at: 18:04 | category: /ypsi | Link

Mon, 10 Mar 2008

Ypsilanti Downtown Blueprint 2008

I went to the Riverside Arts Center to hear the presentation by Doyle Palma of HyettPalma of their study for downtown Ypsilanti. I took a bunch of notes, which I'll pretty much leave out of here because hopefully soon the actual report will be online.

I will say I'm filled with cautious but strong optimism. The presentation and the presenter seemed on the level — I'm normally very skeptical of things like this, so I dial up the BS detector's sensativity, but I didn't get much from this. With a limited history with the area I can't judge on much of the historical trends, but what was said made sense and seemed to fit in with what has been happening. I'm very much in love with Ypsilanti, I think it is an excellent community and there is an amazing amount of cool and interesting stuff going on here. I'll likely be moving soon to Ypsi proper, closer to downtown, probably in the Midtown neighborhood, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Posted at: 21:27 | category: /ypsi | Link

Espresso Madness

Two of the baristas (Otter and Miro) from the Ugly Mug (my local Coffee Shop of Record) are competing in the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition this upcoming weekend. I volunteered to serve as one of the judges for a test run they did this evening.

It was an interesting process, and a lot of fun. Through my co-worker Charles (who also volunteered) I got the judges guide, and had read through it a couple times before we started. There were various things to judge on — as a sensory judge I was tasting all the drinks, but there were also ratings on things like color and temperature of the drinks, or details like did each place have a napkin, water glass, demitasse spoon and sugar, and did all the drinks arrive at the same time. There were three drinks each: a espresso, a cappuccino (in the traditional sense, 1/3 each espresso, milk and foam) and a "signature drink", basically a drink invented by the barista.

Having never done anything like judging, I didn't say all that much until near the end of us talking with Otter, but seemed to get more into the flow of things when judging Miro's stuff. A lot of the competition seems to be in communicating — the scoring has parts for how knowledgable and passionate you are about coffee, and also in explaining your signature drink or what blend of beans you used for your espresso — and since I've been told I do public speaking well I seemed to concentrate on that more near the end.

All in all, a ton of fun. I think I'm really fortunate to live so close to a very high quality coffee shop, and it was cool to be invited to help out with this, a bit behind the scenes so to speak (which I always like doing). Of course, for various reasons it started later than 9:30 pm as was originally planned, and having the equivalent of six shots of espresso starting at about midnight means I probably won't sleep well (or at all) tonight, but still, very much worth it.

Good luck to Otter and Miro this weekend.

Posted at: 02:07 | category: /caffeine | Link

Fri, 07 Mar 2008

Pyremctl 0.4

Obviously, a few updates have happened to pyremctl. Version 0.3 introduced the “complex” interface to remctl, which is useful mostly for sending commands to the remote server that involve null bytes, or want to send more than one command per connection. 0.4 fixed a couple lingering bugs in the “simple” interface — making sure I didn't free a null pointer if a malloc failed, and not calling DECREF on an object I don't need to.

The code can be found here.

Posted at: 20:24 | category: /computers/python | Link