Thursday, November 29, 2007


All I have are excuses. I want to post, but school is currently destroying me. Only a couple more weeks until the end of the semester and a couple months worth of work to do. So I stay up late, don't see my family and live a fairly miserable existence for two more weeks until the semester is over. Hopefully it was worth it, I think this semester took a year off my doctoral program (not credit wise, but because all of my classes this semester are only offered once a year).

So here's what keeps me sane:
First off, my wife who takes care of EVERYTHING for me, except for my schoolwork. She's amazing!!
Second, my bike ride. Getting outside, breathing fresh air and relaxing everyday surrounded by the silence of nature has kept me sane.

Today, I want to write about my bike ride home last night. I was riding along the same road that I take every day. It parallels the railroad tracks and it's pretty dark, except some faint city lights coming through the train (and my incredible new headlight, but it doesn't point toward the sides). So I'm riding along and I see this little wave of shadows that seems to be following me, just off to the side. I put it off as the dancing shadows from the train that I often see. Then there was a truck approaching from the other direction with his headlights on and it changed the shadows a little so that I looked over and could see the silhouettes of about eight deer that were bounding along side me. At first I was thinking how cool it was that I was riding with the deer. Then I though about the oncoming truck and the fact that they could be started and turn right in front of me. That wouldn't be good, so I came to a stop, and luckily so did the truck. The eight deer passed between me and the truck and bounced off into a field.

That is why I ride my bike, because I get to ride with the deer rather than being afraid of what the deer will do to my car when I hit a it. I get to experience my commute instead of being a passive observer of an outside world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I'm going to start with a story and then I have a couple of questions about parenting.

Today at Church was that day that the children did the presentations. They had musical numbers and little talks prepared, it was really cute. The Mugwump was the star of the show, he sang louder than the rest of the kids combined (or at that point do you call it screaming?). Anyway, he was into the music, he would sing and if he ran into a note that he liked where he knew the words (OK, it rarely lasted more than one word), he would stick with it for a while and make sure everyone knew that word. Sure, the rest of the choir moved on, but really that didn't matter because the only person you could hear was my son belting out the words he knew at the top of his lungs. Well, that's not completely true, because he belted out the notes if he didn't know the words. You know what I'm talking about, you do the same thing while you are singing along to the radio and you don't know the words, you start da da da-ing along. So did the Mugwump. At the top of his lungs. It was really cute.

The best part was that when the Mugwump got all excited with the singing, Six-pence would hear him and make sure that everyone knew that was his brother. Then we had our kids, the Mugwump belting out a song in the primary chorus and Six-pence chanting his name from the front row of the congregation. You would have thought it was a rock concert had we not been in the church. I was proud of both of them. I like that they aren't reserved and that they are happy to sing out in the front of a large group.

So I've got a couple of parenting questions. I'll start easy and get progressively more difficult. The last one should really be a blog of its own, but I'll put it out there and see if I get any comments first.

First question... How do you get a four year old to wipe for himself? He's potty trained (during the day anyway) and he rarely has accidents, but after he poops, he sits on the toilet yelling, "I need to be wiped!" We've talked to him about this and suggested that it would be far easier if he were to just do it on his own, but he says he's not going to until he's 5. I know I can just put up with another 6 months of wiping for him (and that's probably how things will end up anyway), but I was wondering if there were any other suggestions out there.

Second question... How do you teach a four year old to spit? He's doing well with brushing his teeth, but when it comes time to spit, he sort of does a congested elephant thing that takes a whole lot of effort, and very little comes out of his mouth (except noise, there's plenty of noise). This is actually a step of progress, he used to just swallow it and refuse to spit, but then we threatened to make him brush with baking soda if he didn't spit. He didn't spit and he got the baking soda. Talk about good spitting, that kid was able to get every bit of the baking soda out of his mouth with good productive spits, but when we use toothpaste, he's back to the elephant thing. Any suggestions?

Third Question... So I came home the other day and the Mugwump ran out to meet me with a spaghetti server and a chop stick and showed me his "bow and arrow". "Such a creative little boy", I thought. Little did I realize that this kid could actually shoot the chopstick with the spaghetti server. So I'm watching him use this thing and he puts the chopstick through the hole in the spaghetti server and then pulls on the chopstick a little creating some pretty good bend in the spaghetti server. When he lets go, the chopstick shoots through the air, right at whatever he was aiming at. So if that didn't make sense, I just ran downstairs and took a picture of the setup in case people didn't believe me, you can see that below. So here's the question... We aren't big fans of weapons in our home, and normally I would discourage the use of a bow and arrow, but this setup is so ingenious, I have a hard time discouraging his little creative mind. So what do you do, encourage the creation of highly accurate weapons, or discourage a creative developing mind?

OK, final question... This is the one that I could do an entire blog about. I probably should put it off and give it its own air time, but I have time tonight so I'm going to do it now to add to the world's longest post that only two people will actually read the entirety of (Thanks Mom). So my wife is doing a home-school thing with the Mugwump. He loves learning and it's going well.

Last week the lesson was safety, so my wife got some DVDs from the library about child safety. We previewed them and were sort of split on the talking to strangers issue. On the one hand, you want your child to be safe and there are some bad people out there, so prohibiting your children from talking to strangers is a good way to help assure that your child doesn't get abducted. On the other hand, in watching the DVDs, it seems like they aim to make the children scared of adults they don't know or who aren't on their "safe list". Not all adults are bad. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the vast majority of adults would not harm a child, even if they were alone with the child and nobody would ever know what happened between them. There are only a relative few wackos in the world that would actually harm a vulnerable child. In teaching children to fear or distrust all adults, are we creating a society of distrust? Would our communities be safer if we knew everyone on our street and had relationships with them so that we recognize when there's someone around that doesn't belong? Wouldn't teaching my kid to trust better accomplish the goal of building community than teaching him to distrust all adults?

Sure there's a middle ground, but I still think the point is valid. I like it when my kids approach the people walking by our house and start a conversation with them. I think it's friendly. I also think that it's safe while my wife or I are sitting there watching them. I think it is a way of building community, which is desperately needed in the world. Of course my children are taught not to get into a car with a stranger or to take candy from someone they don't know, but I think that we need to learn to trust and to be friends. I think the key is to teach kids to think and make good decisions for themselves (and then supervise them until they are old enough to make those decisions).

I may come back to that point sometime, but for now I'm going to conclude my longest ever blog entry.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The light...

Don't tell Mr. Potasky about these photos. I did take photography class in high school. I really liked the class and did quite well in it, but I will introduce you to some mistakes today. Someone has asked about my light and hub. This will be my last post about it because my next post needs to be about parenting, I have lots of questions.

So the hub is the top of the line Shimano dynamo. It's got a name made up of nothing but random numbers and letters so that nobody will ever remember it. It's a step above the Nexus (I think that is what the lower quality model is, but I also think of shampoo when I see that word). The SON hub is a step above the Shimano that I got, but I was unwilling to pay a lot of extra money for a little better performance. In reality, I can hardly tell that there's more resistance, but I like to blame my slowness on the drag of the new wheel, I know I was faster before the new hub... although it still takes about 45 minutes to get to school every day.

The light I got was a D-lumatec, or something like that. I had a few criteria that I needed 1) I wanted an LED, 2) It needed to be bright enough to see the road and 3) it needed to have a capacitor so that when I came to a stop sign my lights wouldn't go out. This light has all three things and I"m extremely pleased with it. I can finally see the road! I took some pictures to show how bright it is, they didn't turn out that great, but I"m posting them anyway.

Above is the inside of our back door illuminated by my old light.
Above is the inside of the back door with the new light. You will notice that the door handle is all blurry like it was a long exposure with a moving camera. It was. You see, in order to "turn on" the new light, you have to spin the wheel. In order to spin the wheel you have to pick up the front end of the bike. So it took two people to take this picture and still my "tripod" was not stationary (that was my wife's fault, I'm sure).Did you know that there was a feature somewhere so that you can turn pictures sideways... I should try it sometime. Anyway, you can see the old light on the handlebars and the new light is mounted behind the front brake caliper. Neither of the lights are on, but if you take a picture using flash into a reflective material it creates a bad picture, as you see above.
I really wanted to show what it looks like to be riding with the new vs. old lights on the road. This was my first attempt at taking a picture while riding (remember that to stop would mean that the light goes out except for the standby light which is not as bright). Well, somehow in taking the camera out of my pocket I pushed some buttons so that when I took the picture I saw in the viewfinder the camera was counting down from 10. So I aimed up the road, but by the time it got to 3, I noticed a car was coming... that was sort of awkward. Oh, and the flash was on. So this is what you see with flash photography with the new light and an oncoming car. It really isn't a good representation of what you really see.

So, I turned the counter thing off and the flash off so I could really get a good picture while riding with the new light. I should have waited for the passing car to get further ahead of me, but you can see the glow of the light in front of me, that's the new light with like a 30 second exposure, handheld on my handlebars while riding down the street. Riding with it, it seems a lot brighter than that. I'm not going to try any more to get a picture to compare the two lights, I am admitting defeat and leaving it alone.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Let there be light

Last night I finished truing the wheel and I got it all set up so I could use it on my ride in this morning. For the first time in the year and a half I've been commuting, I could see the road while i was riding at night. Now I can share some of the stories that I was afraid would upset my mother and grandmother because the problem has been cured.

For example, there's an area on my commute where I ride through a sort of swamp land next to the railroad tracks. It's on a road, but there is no development around so it's pretty dark. There also aren't any trees, except for a section about 400 meters long where there's a canopy of trees over the road. So on my commute I can sort of see on the open road (at least distinguish road from not road), and I usually ride right on the yellow line because that's the only part of the road that isn't black. The section that goes through the trees has no yellow line and the shadows from the trees make it so I can't tell road from not road. Luckily, there are a couple of street lights at the other end of the trees so I have something to aim for. So you go under the trees and it's like riding through a pitch black tunnel, you just shoot for the light at the end (and that was with my old headlight on). Today, for the first time in the dark, I was able to see the road I was riding on. I think this will be a good change

The other part of the ride where I have been a little nervous at night is at an intersection in the country with no lights around. Like I said before, I generally just follow the yellow line, because I can see it. At the intersection, the yellow line goes away, I have to turn left and hope to find the yellow line for the other road without riding into the ditch that I can't distinguish from road. Luckily I was batting a thousand and had never ended up in the ditch, but this morning I could actually see the road as I went through the corner. Oddly enough, i think i was able to take that corner faster today that I have previously. I'll write more about the new light when I have a bit more time, but as a preview, I love it!

On a completely different note, The Mugwump made a funny comment last night. He was sort of being a pill, and he wanted Mom to come in to the playroom while he got his things out of the dryer. She was busy, so I went in to help. He looked at me and said, "Dad, I love you, but I want someone pretty in the room, that's why I need Mom." They're so cute at that age.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The hub is in.

I got my hub yesterday. really I should be studying or writing a paper, but I'm excited to build a wheel. Anyway, someone commented that s/he wanted to know about the setup I would be running. I'll get some pictures when I get it set up, but until then I want to get some facts straight.
1) Sheldon Brown knows almost everything there is to know about bikes and has an incredibly informational site.
2) Peter White knows almost everything there is to know about bike lights and has the best site on the web for bike lights.

So while there are some rumors out there about generator hubs blowing up lights, I really don't think that is the case any more. technology has come a long ways and I think the new lighting systems are pretty good. I'll post more about what I got when I get it up and going.

I still feel like a complete traitor to the racing scene. I hold in my hands a really heavy hub that doesn't spin very well at all and I'm excited to put it on my bike. I feel like I should be making fun of the guy who bought it... Except that would be me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

What to write?

First off, I have had good intentions of blogging more frequently than weekly, unfortunately 14-18 hours a day at school have made it so I neglect the blog a little. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I'll be back to a more frequent schedule.

I had all sorts of wonderful ideas for a blog this week, but then my wife went and gave me no choice but to blog about her. So here I was, I had a HUGE test on Tuesday that I spent a little time studying for. I had a 12-15 page paper due on Friday in my first ever Civil Engineering class and I was running a little behind in my progress. I finished the test on Tuesday morning and stayed on campus until late Tuesday night. Wednesday is my light day at school, so I knew I had to put in some solid hours on my paper so that I had time to get it done. I went to my classes in the morning and was sitting down, getting started on the paper when I got a call from my wife. She needed me to come home. Why?

Really this should be a long story of what happened, instead it's going to be short, because not much happened. My wife was coming down the stairs. She didn't fall, she didn't trip, she just stepped wrong and heard a loud POP and felt a lot of pain in her foot. Then she hopped around and screamed until she got the chance to call me.
This is a photo of my wife's foot. Notice the bruising. She really got some nice color. It was pretty. So I offered to drive her to the OR, but no, she wanted to wait and see. I did some tests prescribed by the athletic trainers at school which suggested there could be a break and an x-ray was needed. Apparently, part of the peroneal tertious tendon pulled a small piece of bone off. My wife got a boot and that's about it. Final diagnosis: Fractured foot.

I had a racquetball student this year do the same thing. She broke her ankle going down the stairs. When she told me she actually made up a bunch of stuff involving being chased by a dog to make the story sound better. We need to come up with something better.
So I came home and spent the afternoon with the family instead of writing a paper.

The paper turned out fine and I enjoyed the time with my family, but it sure made Thursday sort of rough.

On Friday my dad and step-mom came to visit. We had a great time and enjoyed their visit. Six-pence is going to turn two next month, so we decided to have an impromptu birthday party for him. He liked that. He insisted on wearing his Halloween costume to open presents, and we insisted that he remove the costume to eat dessert. Here are some photos.