Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oh. Deer.

As I wound my way up a low-gear hill this morning, I looked up and saw a deer bounding across a green meadow. These guys don’t complain about staying outdoors on cold nights.

Turns out she was hopping across the meadow to make sure I wasn’t there to put any moves on the yearling further up the hill, who must have belonged to her.

I had no doubt she could put a hurt on me if she wanted to, but I had other business on that hill, so I kept going.

Mr. Foley

Does anyone ever listen to Harold Faltermayer anymore?

This end of the axle gets attached to the wheel (in this case, the wheel on the driver’s side of the car).

The bolts that stick out from the axle are used to attach the wheel.

This is the bearing race. As the axle spins (and the wheel on the car goes around and around), small round bearings in this groove roll around the axle so it doesn’t rub against the part of the car that holds it.

(Notice in this picture that the bearing race is pitted, which means things weren’t rolling as smoothly as they should.)

The splines at this end of the axle mesh with the gears in the differential, where the axle meets the drive shaft. The drive shaft comes down from the engine (at the front end of the car) and brings the torque that makes the wheels go around. As the drive shaft spins, the gear at the end of it makes the axle spin, and the car goes forward.

Friday, December 26, 2008

No Rain, Just Deer

No rein either, or reign for all that.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Smell of Eucalyptus Trees in the Rain

Uh, no . . . no, strike that. No, nothing about the rain. No, because if it were raining, that would mean that I was out riding my bike in the rain. No, no, no, no, no. Not gonna happen, to quote a former President.

Not gonna get a stripe of wet road muck up my back, not gonna feel the chill in my toes and shins and fingers, not gonna worry about whether I can see clearly through rain-spotted glasses. No, no, no. Not riding in the rain. That would mean I was getting my bike all mucky, throwing grit and wet into the chain that I’d have to clean up later. Wind, yeah—chill gusts blustering fallen leaves all over the road, pushing me back and forth across the asphalt on this light frame. But not rain.

No, definitely not raining, not as I ride. That’s not wind-whipped raindrops that feel like sharp sand against my skin. Eucalyptus trees smell just as good dry.

But if it had been raining, I would have noticed how the smell is different, just as pungent but more fresh, greener and less dusty, maybe with a foundation of wet clay in these brown adobe hills. Would have noticed. Didn’t notice. Because it wasn’t raining.

I wouldn’t be out there riding if it was going to rain on me. No, sir. No way.

Another County Heard From

Some people turn on their computers before they open gifts, and some after. Some wait and eat first, and others don’t want to see the screen before coffee. One more sister’s icon finally turned up as active, and we had a good chance to exchange holiday greetings, catching up also with the kids between frames: They were bowling with their new Wii.

I’m not sure what it costs to run the servers that make all this possible, but I have to think we’ve all burned a lot less gas to be together this way today.

Also I didn’t have to go anywhere where I’d have to put up with subzero temperatures. Brrr!

Merry Christmas to all!

Faraway, So Close

Say what you want about technology; it does let us all be closer together at the holidays. First this morning it was one sister and her family, puttering around the house opening gifts from me at the same time as I opened what she had handed me at Thanksgiving before I headed south.

We chatted for a couple of hours about current events, gifts, plans for dinner, and all the other usual stuff that might come up if you were sitting around the living room together.

Down here it was sunny when the conversation started, so I took the computer out in the back yard to show her how nice it was after the rain. Then it started raining again, and I took the computer out there again to show her that. Then it was sunny again, but she’d already seen that.

Eventually we said our Merry Christmases and hung up to go get the rest of the day started.

Then it was a brother in Vermont, who had put his son down for a nap and earned himself a free minute to call up and say hello for the holiday. This picture doesn’t show it, but his wife came on too, and we chatted about current events and who got what gift and why and plans for next year and who had what for dinner and the dog’s health. (The dog is just off camera here, although he got to share the spotlight for a few minutes too.)

This brother and I keep in touch also via Twitter, which can keep someone at your elbow during the day even when you’re not at your computer.

Eventually we hung up too (they had more gifts to open in the other room), but there was still coffee in the pot in the kitchen, and another distant sister not yet heard from.

Good moment to finally grab that shower and see if the ground outside is dry enough to go for a quick spin on a bicycle. Too much Christmas coffee leaves my legs restless and twitchy.

I can see from the trees tossing outside, though, that a mighty wind is blowing. We’ll see what happens.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Father Christmas

They said there’d be snow at Christmas.
They said there’d be peace on Earth.

—Greg Lake

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Honoring the magic that is the Christmas spirit is an exercise in taste and restraint.

Electric Avenue

Friday, December 12, 2008

Annals of Innovation

From the Good News, Maybe department comes this item about Apple’s arbiters of taste, who have found the intestinal fortitude to release an iPhone app called “Pull My Finger,” answering the question (according to the developer) “why must I always carry a phone, iPod, AND electric fart machine? Can’t something be done to converge these oft carried items?”

And that, my friends, is a shining example of the innovative spirit that will ever bring our nation’s economy roaring back from the abyss: “Vibrates for realism! Wow!”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Experimental Results

Hmm. Not bad. Pretty good, actually. Plus it's got all that vitamin A.

Speaking of Unnatural, the Pan Is Plastic

After 20 minutes @ 325F, it's not even sagging. Notice how the light shines through it.

Yam Brownies Just Seem Wrong

But I flipped through Deuteronomy and didn't see them mentioned anywhere, so I went ahead and turned on the oven.

The big theory...

I could turn on the heat in my place tonight, or...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Come Together

It’s occasionally nice to see pro writers connecting on the same images that touch me.

I could ramble on at length about what-ifs and possibilities, but it’s late, and Lance Armstrong’s return to pro cycling will tell its own story far better than any excited speculation from this quarter.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rice Hill to Central Valley

822.6 miles

13:48 moving, 6:01 stopped

Moving average: 59.5 mph

Overall average: 41.4 mph

Maximum: Who’s asking?

Friday, November 28, 2008


Satlóidh tú ar an leon is ar an nathair
Gabhfaidh tú de chosa sa leon óg is an dragan

779.8 miles

13:08 moving, 2:00 stopped

Moving average: 59.4 mph; overall average: 51.5 mph

Maximum speed: Who’s asking?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Turns out my mom was into this whole WWW thing before anyone, as this old shoe box shows.

And you thought people in Hush Puppies had trouble staying au courant.

(That’s the strangest looking wolverine I’ve ever seen, though.)

Friday, November 21, 2008


Man, I’m stuffed!