Monthly Archives: January 2009

Razzberry from Pan

I was puttering around out in the backyard two weeks ago when I heard Pan call to me from our bedroom – she wanted to come outside, too! I told her to hold her horses and this is how she responded! (You’ll want to click the pic to see her expression 😉

Needless to say, I put on her necklace and brought her outside to supervise my work efforts.

Some people’s kids (and cats)!

COMPLETED: Waiter, there’s a zoo in my dining room!

As some of you know, Joanne is the head judge for the California Carvers Guild (CCG). A few weeks ago she received a phone call from a gentleman whose wood-carving father-in-law had passed away some time ago. His family had just located his will and discovered that it included instructions to donate his carvings to the CCG for display in their museums or local clubs or to sell as they saw fit and donate the proceeds to CCG.

Joanne and the son-in-law arranged a drop-off time at our house and as of today they’re bunched up in our dining room 🙂 (As usual, mine are record-keeping pics rather than art, so… sorry for the “drive-by shooting” of such fine work. I’ll upload all over the next few days and mark the subject line “Complete” so you’ll know when they’re ready.)

Enjoy! (Remember to click the pic to see the BIG PICTURE!)

The complete menagerie.

Nice horse carving.

I believe this is an Ibis.

The entire flock is here.

Very nice rams head bookends.

Back side of the bookends.

A few more rams heads…


Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon II

(I suggest you click on the Komodo pics to see and appreciate the great detail the artist used in this piece – very, very cool!)

Pandora and Alf helping me work 🙂

Apparently Pan didn’t like the italics typestyle I was using and was trying to straighten out my typing 😉

Seriously – who knew cats could be such Luvs? What a character and Luv Queen Pandora is.

Dear Rupert: You’re Fired

Yep.

Last week I put a bullet through my lifelong relationship with Denny’s and this morning when I fetched my wafer-thin copy of today’s Wall Street Journal, I figured it was time to put an end to my 23 year relationship with the Journal, too.

Being a professional sales-type, I must say I was impressed with your staff’s effort to “keep me on board”, asking why I wanted to cancel, asking me what – specifically – I was unhappy with to the point that I’d ask to have the balance of my subscription fee returned to me.

“Content.

There’s not enough of it and of what there is, the information / viewpoint is not unique enough from the other sources of news that I consume (say, NY Times, MSNBC, The Economist, etc).And, oh btw, I hate seeing the left half of the front page content replaced by bullet-summaries of the content of that issue – I read the complete issue without reading the bullets, that’s why I subscribe. Also, I don’t care much for how the Journal is being loaded up with USA Today-style color graphics, pics and art work – I really DO want thoughtful business / financial analysis / content.

Seriously, if I wanted the fluff you’re putting up these days, AOL or Yahoo would be my home page.“

As much as I enjoy the physical relationship I have with my early morning coffee and newspapers, after all these years of reading and subscribing to the Journal, I say good luck to you and the WSJ in figuring out your new business model / paradigm, Rupert… I’m outta here and will be watching your progress via WSJ.com.

My Bridgestone RB-T gets upgraded…

Back in ’92 (a year before I turned 40), I thought it would be neat to buy a nice bike and do a bit of recreational riding to keep my body parts working as they should.

So I made a list of local bike stores and visited a number of them over the course of a few weekends. It turned out that Palo Alto Bicycles had a pretty good selection of better-than-beater bicycles, from racing to touring (and tandeming)… and their salespeople were bike-techies, too, so they would be able to educate me on the things I needed to know about.

They put me on a racing-style bike and sent me off for a test ride. Nope, not for me – the wheelbase was too short so the damn thing was too skittish for me to handle.

They put me on a cruiser-style (think: Schwinn of the late 60’s – mid-70’s) but the balloon tires and laid back posture I couldn’t see working for me in my desire to commute 22 miles (roundtrip) to work.

Ah, how ’bout a nice touring bike from Bridgestone?

Wheelbase was a little longer, so road bumps and thumps were flattened out; the shifters were at the end of the drop-bars so I didn’t have to bend completely over to reach them and at 26 pounds, it was relatively light.

Oh yeah, bay-beee, that’s just right – a Clydesdale-type rider like me could handle it just fine: I’ll take it.


$700 lighter, me and my Bridgestone RB-T headed home.

Over the years I put 12,000+ miles on that bike. Rode it to work many, many times. Rode it up the Santa Cruz mountains many times. Rode it on the Los Gatos Creek Trail hundreds – if not thousands – of times. Pre-dawn, early morning, near-freezing rain to 100+ degree summer weather, my RBT and I were all over the place.

That is, until one morning about 5 years ago when I was cruising down the Trail at a fairly good clip when an old lady – skinny as a twig with a full head of blue hair – did a U-turn in front of me without looking back to see if somebody might be coming up behind her. Uh-Oh.

I ran through my options in about 1/2 second:

* Hit the old lady and probably kill her. Seriously, I don’t think she would have survived the impact.

* Head off the trail to the left at a 45 degree angle. The problem with that was due to the very long and steep decline, vegetation and tree trunks, and – finally – the deep creek at the bottom, I wasn’t sure **I** would survive. (seriously)

* Head off the trail to the right and – if I missed the trunks and boulders – end up in the pond and maybe drown.

No option looked appealing so I cranked on the front and rear brakes as hard as I could.

And this is where physics comes in.

Since I had the front wheel turned ever so slightly to the left, when I cranked on the front brakes, it accelerated and deepened the turn to the left until the front wheel was perpendicular to the road (and me). Oh man, this isn’t looking good.

The combination of my speed, weight and the wheel angle actually caused me AND THE BIKE to do 1/2 somersault IN THE AIR and land on the pavement on my side. Still strapped in to my bike pedals… basically welded to the bike.

Ouch.

I lay there for a minute or two while a small group of people asked if I was ok… and the old lady chewed me out for not yelling “On Your Left” as I approached her. (No mention about using the eyes God gave her to look to see if anyone was coming, naturally.)

I limped home and over the next few days checked out the bike for damage. It looked pretty good except it was slightly dimpled / bent in one spot. Dang… that ain’t gonna buff out. After I’d recovered from the thumping the pavement gave me (coupla weeks), I took the bike to a bike shop I trusted to have it rebuilt… rear gears, front chain rings, etc.

When I stopped by a few days later, a mechanic younger than Owen says, “Man, this thing’s bent, I don’t think it’s safe to ride.” I asked him a few questions and each time the answer was basically, “I don’t think it’s safe to ride” (why don’t you just buy a new bike?)

So I took the RB-T home and eventually bought a recumbent bike. But the truth is, the recumbent and I never really settled in. It could be that my ass-to-power ratio is out of whack and a recumbent hurts your knees in that situation… or it could be that it never really fit what I was looking for in a bike.

About this time last year, I started thinking about getting another road bike… whatever today’s generation of RB-T kinda bike was. So I googled RB-T and darned if I didn’t learn that RB-T’s are thought to be some of the best mass-produced touring bikes ever made. In fact, it’s not unusual to find them going for 50% more NOW than when they were originally sold – 15 years later.

Dayaaaam, suddenly that almost-rusting frame with the original junk back in my whitetrash storage area was looking a bit prettier – a LOT prettier.

So I put google to work and discovered a couple of things:

* There was an internet forum dedicated to Bridgestone Bicycles. It’s called “BOB” for “Bridgestone Owners Bunch” (you can learn more about it at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/whatthehellisabob.html)

and

* The guy (Grant Petersen) that headed marketing for Bridgestone in the US (and wrote the brochures that resonated so strongly with me) had started his own custom-frame bicycle company over in Walnut Creek called Rivendell Bikes (www.rivbike.com).

Visiting riv’s website and reading what Grant had written (this time around), I got sucked into thinking about bicycling just like I did back in ’92 – a low-key, environmentally sound and healthy means of getting exercise and taking the time to breath in my day-to-day life. Except this time, there was a slight change in his tone – or maybe it was just my perception of what he was saying – this time, he emphasized a “back to cycling basics” approach.

Wearing “regular” clothes – pants / trousers / shorts, sandals / regular shoes, standard t-shirt, etc – just get on your bike and go for a ride. Forget lycra. Forget polyester. Forget $400 worth of special shoes and pedals – just get a “regular” / non-racing bike and go for a ride.

What a concept: Get on a bike a just go for a ride… don’t need to race. don’t need to sweat buckets. don’t need to ride in a tight peloton with 1/2″ between the bike in front of you and your bike.

Just get on a bike and go for a ride. Maybe take some pictures. Maybe chat with other people. Heck, maybe ride alongside your wife and chat with her on her bike instead of a mile ahead waiting for her to catch up.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll try that.

Now, I don’t know about you, but over the last few years I’d reached the point where I began to think, “Hey, I’ve got enough STUFF cluttering up my life, maybe I should stop buying NEW STUFF and just use some of what I’ve got a bit more.” so when I began thinking about buying a new bright’n’shiny bicycle, I thought to myself, “Apparently I’ve got a pretty good bike in the RB-T, maybe I’ll just refurbish and upgrade that bike and ride it ’til I drop.”

My old-guy bike. Yeah, that’s the ticket. No carbon-fiber, 27-speed electric shift, twitchy thing… just me and my RB-T – back together again.

So I began reading up on what I’d need to do to bring it back to life and usable for my purposes. Turns out the project would be non-trivial, but when I was done, I’d have a classic bike in brand new condition and ready to take me wherever my Clydesdale body could pedal – and since I’d done all the work myself, I’d know the bike top-to-bottom, front-to-back, bolt-by-bolt.

I’m on it.

So last Spring I began thinking through what I’d want the bike to serve me for the years ahead and came up with this short list:

* Use original parts whenever possible.

* Add only parts that made the bike more comfortable for my type of riding – around-town “ambling” or long-distance touring – comfort was a key issue for me.

Because I have a slight issue in my upper spine vertebrae, the more upright I was positioned, the more comfortable I was likely to be as I rode.

I wanted to be able to ride wherever I wanted to ride in my standard “uniform of the day”: shorts, t-shirt and sandals / regular shoes.

Following Grant’s line of thinking, I went from 28MM tires (basically, racing and rock-hard to minimize rolling-resistance) to 35MM tires (mid-pressure / softer and broader tires) which gave me a much more comfortable ride. (I skipped the balloon tires with white walls 😉

* All-weather enabled: Fenders to minimize water / dirt splashing on both the bike and me.

* Pleasing appearance.

Not such a big list, eh?

Then I visited local bike shops to see what they had to make my dream a reality. Big disappointment: They had “off-the-shelf” stuff that you’d see on either big-company bikes or racing bikes. Very little – if any -for my purposes. I bought what I could from local suppliers (Cupertino Bicycles / Vance) for the new headset (steering bearing) / bottom bracket (pedal / crank bearing), rear gear cassettes and from a shop in Sunnyvale, an extendable / variable pitch handlebar stem to accomodate my upper-vertabrae issue.

Next, I located a good powder-coating shop over in Livermore to re-paint the RB-T and then I returned to Riv and began ordering what I needed:

Moustache handlebars.
Brooks leather saddle.
Nitto steel rear rack.
King pedals.
Brass bell.

And because I wanted a certain look and feel, I also ordered leather bar wrap from Velo Orange on the East Coast. (Their web site is at http://www.velo-orange.com) I also ordered Honjo hammered fenders and Plesher double kickstand from Velo.

And finally, I ordered an Air Zound airhorn from http://www.deltacycle.com/product.php?g=1 to clear the lactating herds off the trail in the mornings and an iHome iPod http://www.ihomeaudio.com/products.asp?product_id=10186&dept_id=1007 for music.

And just about the time I got my newly-painted frame back from Maas Brothers in Livermore, I became ill enough that I couldn’t ride and couldn’t even work on the bike.

Sigh.

About a month after my surgery, I was feeling well enough, so I began re-assembling my new-bike-to-be.

And then Dee became ill and we lost her quickly. I couldn’t breathe for weeks after her death. Staying focused and working on something as intricate as the bike… well, I wasn’t up to it for awhile. But with everyone’s gentle (and not-so-gentle) nudges to get on with my life, combined with Pan’s shop assistant support, I got on with my life and began re-assembling in earnest.

I disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, polished and re-installed the original parts that I’d ridden on for years. I followed directions written in a wonderful book on the how-to for the things I didn’t already know (and there were many). I called Incline Mike, Springfield Al, Velo Orange, Rivendell and Vance of Cupertino Bikes when I hit a wall… and each time, they acted as if no call was trivial or gave me an “how come you don’t know that already?” attitude.

Nope, to a person, every one was very supportive and eventually, the bike came to life and now we’re both back on the road every day… not really counting the miles or the time, but really enjoying the sights and sounds.

So below are a few photos I took about 10 days ago… some of them are slightly fuzzy – sorry about that, I had the setting on “macro” and didn’t realize it, so I’ll need to re-shoot when the weather clears.

As you can see, it’s a pretty good looking bike and, I am pleased to say it rides like a dream… it’s wonderful! (As you can imagine, I could have gotten a new bike for much less but I would have missed the journey this wonderful project has taken me on.)

Enjoy the photos and don’t forget to get out and ride – it’s a great way to see your area and get some exercise. (WARNING: YOU REALLY DO WANT TO CLICK THE PICS TO SEE THE FULL IMAGES – some of the work is really exquisite.)

My dedicated shop-assistant, Queen Pan.

Brooks saddle. Still made in the UK on the same machines they were made > 100 years ago.

Ah, French-style Honjo hammered fenders, Plescher double kickstand (no wobbling), King pedals (they’re like riding on waffles, they’re so big can comfy)

My RB-T in nearly-full Bike-Geek complement.

Leather-wrapped, Moustache bars with Brass bell… Now who wouldn’t want these?

Little bit ‘o Artsy-Fartsy shadowing going on here.

Only thing missing is multi-colored streamers coming out of the handlebars and a card clothes-pinned to the spokes and I’d be a kid again, eh? 😉

Thanks to Incline Mike, Springfield Al, Velo Orange, Grant Petersen of Rivendell and Vance of Cupertino Bikes for their patience and guidance.

Special thanks to Joanne for her special support in bringing the Bridgestone back to such a beautiful state 🙂

Ride on, House-dude.

(Oh, and… wait ’til you see what I’m doing with our ’93 Ibis Cousin It (upright) Tandem!

No, I haven’t forgotten to post the rest of Delilah’s pictures

Yesterday marked the three month anniversary since Dee passed away. I expected to have all of her photos and videos posted by this point in time but, to tell you the truth, while it’s sooooooo wonderful to see and hear her while I’m doing it, going through all the pics and videos is still just too emotionally draining for me.

On one hand, I wish it weren’t so.

On the other, Delilah was such a wonderful and close companion, friend and family member that “letting her go” shouldn’t be easy – and it’s not – so we’ll just have to let time and nature have their way.

Thx for understanding 🙂

Cotton Candy Clouds

While on her way to work one morning about ten days ago, Joanne called me and said, “You’ve gotta go outside and take some pictures of the sky and the clouds – they’re great!”.

So like an obedient house-dude, I grabbed my handy-dandy Canon, headed outside and shot these just for you (and her 😉

Enjoy. (Remember to click the pic to see the BIG PICTURE)








Dear Denny’s: You’re Fired

Dear Denny’s,

I’m an old-school guy. I buy, maintain and drive my cars / motorcycles / boats until the wheels / go-fast parts fall off. I’m brand-loyal to a fault in that once I find a brand that works well for me (say, GMC trucks, Honda motorcycles and cars, Boston Whaler boats, Shell Oil gas, Bridgestone & IBIS bicycles, Denny’s breakfasts, etc) I stay with them until it’s clear we’re no longer meant to be together.

Which brings me to this “Farewell to Denny’s” note.

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the NAMM Conference in Los Angeles… had a great time, met and saw lots of extraordinary musicians – heck, I even had a chance to visit our son and his family for a few days. Then with a busy week behind me, on Saturday morning at 4:55AM I began driving from LA back home to the Silicon Valley. (Remember: Old school here, so I like to hit the road early before traffic gums things up).

A couple hours out of LA I decided to stop for a quick Slam breakfast at a Denny’s I’m familiar with at a small coastal town. (Town begins with the letter “P”). When I travel, I usually pack my camera case filled with (not inexpensive) cameras and lenses so I like to park where I can watch my car from inside the restaurant; to do this, I need to have line-of-sight to my car from inside the restaurant. Since this particular restaurant’s parking is on the side-only, when I entered the restaurant I asked to be seated in the (empty) section nearest my car since the open section where he started to seat me had no line-of-sight to my car.

As he was seating me, another waiter came to me and said loudly, “I’d like people to be seated in the open area, out front.”

Before the person who was seating me could respond, I said to the speaker, “I asked him to seat me here so I could keep an eye on my car – I don’t want it to get broken in to and I’d like to keep an eye on it while I eat.”

New waiter-guy says to me, “It won’t get broken in to, what would you like to drink?”

Me: “Nothing, thanks, I’ll take my business elsewhere. Thank you.”

New waiter-guy, “Have a nice day.” (Well, I guess he really showed me!)

I don’t remember seeing “Lip Service” on the menu and it certainly wasn’t what I was planning on ordering but it’s obviously what was being dished out.

Being a salesguy and mildly successful manager of growing businesses in my past life, and since I’m never going to eat at a Denny’s again – in my lifetime – I can’t help but do the math on what that guy’s “Won’t get broken in to” (he forgot to include, “and if it does, our signs say we’re not responsible for it”, “Have a nice day” Lip Service cost Denny’s.

My meal: $7.99.
Probably not a lot of profit in a 5.99 Slam meal and a cup of coffee, so the one-off is not so bad.
Loss of $1.50 tip… just $1.50, not so bad, I guess.

But what if this happens only 1x per day at each Denny’s location on the planet. Heck, let’s do the math together:

1,541 franchise and company-owned stores.
x
$7.99
——-
$12,312 fewer sales each day
$ 2,311 fewer tips to Denny’s employees each day
Some would say, “not so bad”.

But what happens when we run those numbers over a year’s period of time:

$12,312 fewer sales each day
x
365 days of the year
——-
$4,493,880 fewer sales per year. Some would say this is REAL MONEY.Judging by the financials Denny’s reported to Wall Street, I bet even Denny’s would think this is Real Money.

AND let’s not forget the direct, in-the-pocket hit the employees take

$ 2,311 fewer tips to Denny’s employees each day
x
365 days of the year
——-
$843,697 fewer tips to Denny’s employees each day. I’ve never met a group of employees who would say they’d take $850K less in pay each year. Never-ever, Not Once, Not no-how.

You might want to do yourselves a favor and pass on to your employee’s your company values regarding dealing with customers in these types of situations.

(By the way, I drove to Paso Robles and had breakfast at Margies Cafe. It cost more, had waaaay too much food on the plate, but I could keep an eye on my car and they were polite to me. What a concept.)

Have a Nice Day!

Continued improvement for Incline Milo

A quick note to send e-hugs and e-Cheerios to our ailing feline friend, Incline Milo.

We join Incline Mike and Mimi in their relief that Milo is recovering from his recent bout of “Dang, I’m not feeling so good – get me to a Vet” 🙂

Milo’s a great guy and we look forward to watching episodes of “Bite The Kitty” starring Milo & Claire in the near future.

Fresh goodies and a BBQ in December…

A quick note to mention Joanne’s recent birthday / December BBQ (my usual ribs, mom’s potato salad and bbq / regular Bush’s beans). It was nice having our closest friends join in for a get together in Joanne’s honor… lots of yakking and catching up going on.

Also wanted to mention that Joanne made 3 1/2 cases of pomegranate jelly (last of the pom juice) yesterday and as I write she’s making a case of spiced peach jam / preserves / um, fruitney? These are the last of Mr. Carrier’s peaches, “doctored up” with cranberries, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon… it’s pretty impressive stuff (guess who gets to lick the spoon? yup – the house-dude 🙂

I should have a set of pics to post tomorrow of my “old guy ride” – I’ve completed the restoration / refurbishment, tuned the fenders and now am just waiting for the right light to take a few photos.

Film at 11… or so.