Archive for January, 2008

Watching the radar

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Today we’re under a heavy snow warning — although, as usual, the line dividing snow from ice/sleet/random freezing crap from the sky passes right through Cape Girardeau, meaning that there’s no real way of knowing what we’re going to get.  It’s a safe bet, though, that the drive home is going to be an adventure.

And I’m betting that the public schools will be out tomorrow, so Robin won’t be working.  Ironically, she’s home sick, so this is likely to be wasted.  The university hardly ever closes, but you’re supposed to use your judgment about whether it’s safe to come in.

Oh, and I didn’t ride my bike today because I’m not as crazy as I look.

Local Bike Shop lives up to its reputation

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

As predicted, my local bike shop (Cape Bicycle and Fitness) came through with flying colors.  Walt drove me over at lunch time, and Patrick exchanged the broken pump even for a new (cheaper, but actually more appropriate) pump, along with a small emergency CO2 pump.  This solved the “lack of emergency backup” problem.   Derek fixed the flat, and threw in a little brake adjustment and minor wheel truing.  And since he didn’t like the looks of the old tire, he gave me a new one on warranty.

I rode home without incident.  Yay!

Why you should always have a backup

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

This morning I got all my gear on (I do mean ALL — it was 16 degrees when I left the house [that's -8 C for you furriners]) and proceeded to ride merrily away.  8 miles into the ride (That’s about 12.8 km, foreign devils) I noticed that the bike wasn’t steering normally, and I pulled over to find that my front tire was going flat.  Not a big surprise, really.  We had gale-force winds yesterday afternoon when a big cold front went through, and there was debris all over the roads.

No big deal, right?  I have a spare tube, and a pump, etc.  So I get out my tire pump.  The handle is stuck, so I pull on it a little harder– and it pops right out of the pump.  It’s busted.   Perhaps not actually designed for these temperatures.

At this point, I stop to mentally kick myself a few times.

I have, at home on another bike, a CO2 pump that would have solved the whole problem.  It doesn’t weigh much, it would be easy to carry it in the panniers, and I’m an idiot for leaving it home.

I have an emergency backup of EVERYTHING.  Else.   I have pepper spray for dogs, and also an ultrasonic “dog remote.”  I have a 9-volt battery in case the battery pack for my headlight runs out.  I have extra batteries for the front and rear flashers.  I have an extra taillight that I don’t turn on normally.  I’ve got flashing lights on my helmet in case other lights run out.  I have a spare pair of gloves.  I have a patch kit in case the spare tube gets a hole.  I have a multi-tool in case I lose my screwdriver.  I have three pairs of glasses.  No, four, plus three sets of interchangeable lenses for the bike glasses.   I have an extra balaclava, in case –God knows what– happens to the one I’m wearing.  Why don’t I have a spare pump?

Okay, got that over with.  Next I pulled out my cell phone and looked at it stupidly for about 10 seconds.  Should I call Robin?  Nah.  A) She’d be late to class if she came and got me and B) I’d never hear the end of it.  Who do I know who both has a pickup truck and is likely to be awake at 6:40 AM?  I called Walt, who came and got me — he was already at work, as usual.

So later today I’m going to the bike shop to return the broken pump and get something a bit more substantial.  I know this won’t be a problem, as it’s a Serfas pump, and Serfas exchanges or refunds no questions asked.  And my local bike shop is great anyway.  Meanwhile, I guess I’ll go teach genetics.


Monday, January 28th, 2008

First of all, there’s a total eclipse of the moon coming up Feb 20. For those of us in the US, it happens at a fairly convenient time — 9:01 to 9:51 PM CST, but if you want to stay up till 3AM on the 21st, you can see it in Britain too.

The real excitement, though, comes in a mere 9 years — there will be a total eclipse of the sun visible from my own home on August 21, 2017. I’ve never seen one before. But wait! That’s not all! Only 7 years later, on April 8, 2024, there will be another total eclipse of the sun, also visible from my own home. Check it out:

This map shows all the total solar eclipses that will be visible from North America from 2000-2050. The paths of totality for the 2017 and 2024 eclipses cross right over SE Missouri and Southern Illinois. I downloaded google earth maps of these, and highlighted the intersection:


It’s actually not that common for the same place to get two total eclipses within 10 years of each other.   At least, not a place where people live; it’s a bit more likely up in northern Canada, for instance.   Now I’m just hoping for clear skies.

I have to quit reading Speak Out

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This one doesn’t even pertain directly to me, but it’s just so amazingly stupid:

Courteous walking

WALKERS HAVE the right-of-way at marked crosswalks, but not over drivers. I looked it up. You still have to use caution when you’re crossing. Drivers still have the first right-of-way to the road, even in a crosswalk. I drive through Southeast Missouri State University’s campus often throughout every day because of my job. I’m amazed at the behavior of the kids crossing the street. If you want to talk about the rights of walkers, what about the behavior of the walkers and their interference with the rights of drivers? They stop in the street to talk or wait for someone else. As a common courtesy, I always let students cross. I’ve stopped for them and waved them across. Maybe once a week do I have anybody acknowledge me. College students can whine about their rights to cross the street, but there’s also a certain amount of responsibility on their part to be courteous pedestrians.

You “looked it up,” eh? Not in the Missouri Revised Statutes, section 300.375, “Pedestrian’s right of way in crosswalks,” I’m guessing.

My reply made Speak Out!

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I emailed in a response to Speak Out Jerk‘s comment from this week, and my reply made it into Friday’s paper. I know, Speak Out is no place for irony. Couldn’t resist, sorry.

Upgrade and weirdness

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I just upgraded to the most recent version of WordPress, and at least on my computer, this means that most old posts have weird As with hats after each period.  Aargh.

Freezing fog

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

All part of the ever-changing kaleidoscope of stuff that comes out of the sky in Southeast Missouri.

Another view of freezing fog

Freezing fog

Most groovier-than-thou meal ever

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m trying to give up meat from animals raised inhumanely. I’d already been buying eggs from Family Friendly Farms, aka my colleague Matt Fasnacht in the Chemistry department. I’d heard he also sold chickens to eat, and I finally got around to asking him about this. Turns out that they not only sell chickens, but also pork.  So today I rode my bike over to the farm (about 28 miles round trip) and bought a chicken (4.something pounds at $2.60/lb), some boneless pork chops ($4.50 a pound) and a pound of bacon. Expensive, I’ll grant, which is why we’re just not eating as much meat now.
Family Friendly Farm

This is the farm, and the chickens you see here are the ones that lay the eggs.  I found myself wanting to yell “Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!”, although really I’m unlikely to eat these particular ones — too old.  I am eating their potential children, though. In fact I had two this morning, with toast.

I’m now thawing the (young) chicken that I bought today, which I intend to roast tomorrow.  I was thinking about this, and I think that this chicken will be the first meat (other than fish) that I’ve ever eaten that has never been transported anywhere using fossil fuels.  I should ask Matt — maybe they buy chicks that have been transported from somewhere, although I kind of doubt it.

Cold weather cycling part dos

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

This morning it was 15 degrees when I left the house. I decided that 20 wasn’t that bad, so why not give 15 a shot? I was pretty comfortable. Of course, Speak Out Jerk probably wasn’t comfortable with having me there — the same guy called again about what a danger I am.

Considering I’ve changed my route so that I’m only on W road for about 2 miles now, this guy must just have the worst luck in the world. I’m thinking that I should just write another letter and ask him to put this sign on his car:


Then when I see him in my mirror, I can just pull over and stand on the shoulder to let him go by. I don’t want him to go to any trouble to accommodate me.

Meanwhile, last night was the first rehearsal for Choral Union. Turnout was light, but it looks like interesting music. We’re doing Dove’s “Koethener Messe” (in Latin) and Beethoven’s “Hallelujah from Christ on the Mount of Olives.”  The music hasn’t come in yet for the Dove piece, but we rehearsed the Beethoven, which has some interestingly weird chords, etc. Should be fun.Â