If you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth…

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Saddle Up, Pardners!

Old Mill gravel road

Coming back from four and a half months of forced inactivity is decidedly *not fun*. And I know from not fun.

Back on October 2nd of last year, I rode the first of this year’s Dirty Dozen group training rides. Then my mother got sick, and I had to go to Maine to care for her. Over the following 19 weeks I only managed one trivial ride, while my previous peak strength and fitness plummeted. I only resumed training on February 14th, about a week and a half ago.

Fortunately, my homecoming corresponded with Pittsburgh’s warmest February ever, with a record nine days in the 60s, and a couple well into the 70s.

After jonesing for the bike all winter, last week’s weather allowed me to ride five days consecutively, and in those five days I rode more often than I had in the previous five mont »more


Alpha-Bits cereal

Do you remember eating Post Alpha-Bits cereal when you were a kid? I certainly do.

One thing I distinctly remember was taking a ‘D’ or an ‘M’ or a ‘P’ and nibbling the serifs off. Mind you, this was a good quarter-century before I learned what a serif was. I must have been a typographer prodigy!

Oddly, some Alpha-Bits letters come with serifs, and others do not. So is the cereal really a serif set or a sans serif? It’s unclear; or perhaps I’m expecting too much precision from Cold War era corn slurry extruding machinery.

One would hope that technological improvements over the past sixty years would allow greater precision in cereal production. We can send a man to the moon, land a probe on a comet, and ride around in automobiles that drive themselves and don’t consume gasoline; so wh »more

Past Perfect

Pittsburgh skyline

When I moved from Boston to Pittsburgh, one of my friends was interested in how the two cities differed. After living here for a year, I now feel like I can make some somewhat informed contrasts.

Here’s my list of the top twenty differences between Boston and Pittsburgh.

  • Time is a little bit different. Pittsburgh is a little further south than Boston, so its days are a little longer in the winter and shorter in the summer. But more importantly, Boston is at the eastern edge of the time zone, while Pittsburgh is at the western end; so the sun rises and sets about 30-45 minutes later.
  • Pittsburgh doesn’t get Boston’s cold onshore sea breezes in the spring. On the other hand, Boston doesn’t get Pittsburgh’s periodic light lake effect snow.
  • There aren’t many evergreens in western Penns »more

A Rosie By Any Other Name

Girly cheerleader

As a man who tries to be sensitive to gender issues, I want to address one way that I think women and men both unconsciously perpetuate marginalization of women.

You might not think one’s given name could be the source of judgement and marginalization… but you’d be wrong.

It might sound like an incredibly minor nit, but what could be more core to one’s identity than the very name you use to refer to yourself, and the names you use for others?

Consider the difference in how you respond to a man who calls himself “Robert”, versus if he introduced himself as “Robbie”. Even if you’re looking at the same individual, most of us will have a meaningfully different initial impression of someone depending on whether he is introduced to us as “Billy” or “Willie” or “William”.

The underlying ca »more

The Life that Isn't

I kilt my television

Now let me make sure I understand this properly.

You pay over $1500 a year to have a cord strung between your house and a huge advertising company. Which connects to a huge, expensive electronic display that you paid hundreds of dollars for.

You spend all your free time passively staring at this device while it beams messages at you.

Messages which you admittedly know are designed to control your behavior, written by people whose entire careers are devoted to mastering how to subconsciously influence you for the benefit of huge mega-corporations.

And you have organized your entire living space around this device, so that is the focus of your attention and the center of your life.

You have become so fully brainwashed by this device that you are compelled to devote more of your preci »more

Mr. Clean

US electricity generation chart

With so many environmentally-conscious people replacing fossil fuels for electric power for their cars and household gadgets, it’s time for a bit of a sanity check.

While your modern electric vehicle does have lower emissions than older cars, you’re forgetting to take into account the pollution caused by generating the electricity it needs. As you can see in the US Energy Information Administration Electricity Generation chart at right, two-thirds of our electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels to boil water and power steam turbines. And another 20 percent comes from nuclear power. Bottom line: only 10 percent of the electricity you use comes from a clean, renewable source.

The pollutants, greenhouse gases, and waste heat produced by individual petroleum-powered vehicles have »more

We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Batman? Sox fan.

So let me make sure I’ve got this right:

When this country was founded, New Englanders called themselves Yankees, and our greatest enemies were people who wore Red Coats.

Today, our heroes wear Red Sox, and our greatest enemy is the Yankees.

Huh. Plus ça change.

Week of WTF

WTF to Blog About

As an active blogger, I write about a lot of things. Usually, when I get an idea for a post, I work it until it’s polished and accurately represents my views before I post it for you to see.

But sometimes the words come out all wrong, and it doesn’t really fulfil the vision I had for the article. Maybe it’s impolitic, maybe it’s oversharing, maybe it’s just a marginal idea to begin with, or just too offbeat to put my name to.

When that happens, I’ll set the post aside for a while. I might revisit it in a week, a month, or a year… or maybe not at all. After fifteen years of blogging, I’ve collected quite a pile of these dubious articles that were never posted.

Over the next week, I’m going to publish a few of them. Partly to share a few of my less-polished thoughts; partly to clean ou »more

Information Curation Evolution

Annual Ride Calendar webpage

I toatally forgot to mention an important development in my 2016 season summary post! The evolution of my annual rides list!

Every winter, when there’s lots of desire to ride but little-to-no riding happening, one of the things that helps me cope is planning—or is it fantasizing?—about the season ahead: where I’ll ride, how far I’ll ride, and—most importantly—which major events I’ll participate in.

Major events like charity rides and centuries are an easy way to set goals for the year, and to structure your training plan.

Knowing which events you’ll commit to also lets you plan the logistics of making them happen. You not only want to set those dates aside on your calendar, but you might need to reserve transportation or a hotel room, or plan your charity fundraising effort.

Natural »more

Sweet '16

Hibernal Augusta

I suppose an end-of-year update is in order, since I haven’t posted to my main blog since last August.

It’s ironic that my last post covered Inna’s and my summertime trip to Maine, visiting my mother as well as my brother, who had made his annual trip from his west coast home on Vancouver Island.

Ironic because for more than three months now I’ve been back in Maine, caretaking my mother, who has repeatedly bounced back and forth between hospital and nursing home. After several weeks managing it alone, my brother joined me here, so we’re both dealing with another unwanted Maine winter. The only person missing from making this a full repeat of our summer visit is Inna, whom I’ve barely seen at all since last September.

So no Inna, no biking, no Begemot, no job hunt, no Thanksgiving, no »more

PITy Year

Ornoth"s MS Ride

As you would expect, my first year riding in Pittsburgh was eventful and full of new experiences. Judging by the size of this 2016 year-in-review post, I consider it a pretty successful year overall.

Here I’ll review my original goals for the year, plow through a list of other noteworthy developments, show you a few informative charts, and then close by looking forward to 2017. All accompanied by a handful of related photos.

Original 2016 Goals

When I moved to Pittsburgh at the end of last year, I set four explicit goals for myself, plus two implicit ones. How did we do?

First goal was to buy a new indoor trainer. It didn’t happen because nice weather allowed me to ride outdoors throughout last winter, and I wanted to conserve cash. Although I never got that new trai »more

BRUTALesque EPICosity

EPIC Insurance Solutions

Back in September, I closed out one of my posts by saying that

These days, the descriptor “epic” gets thrown around pretty casually, but “epic” is a very fitting word for the ride that demands everything a cyclist has got.

Six weeks later, cycling newscasters GCN got in on the act by releasing a video entitled “How To Make Every Ride EPIC”. Their clip begins by also observing that “‘Epic’ is one of the most overused words in cycling.”

That got me curious about my own use of the term. After all, I’ve been sharing my cycling exploits for fifteen years and written 375 blogposts. And we all know I’m a devilishly wordy sonofabitch.

So here’s a quick summary of my use of the term EPIC:

For my first seven years of writing (2003-2009), I never used the term at all. Yay!

Its first ap »more

Is It In You?

Gatorade Pro formula

It’s been five years, so it’s probably safe to tell the long-suppressed tale of my Gatorade Escapade.

Prior to 2012, I could walk to some shop like GNC and find two-pound tubs of Gatorade’s special Pro Endurance Formula powder/mix in my preferred flavor (orange). It worked out nicely, because one of those tubs would last nearly one full season/year.

Then GNC stopped carrying it. It was kinda a specialized thing, and I couldn’t find it stocked anywhere. So I did what any normal bitnaut would do: I went directly to Gatorade’s online store.

Figuring I’d save on shipping costs, I ordered a two-year supply: two of those two-pound packs. That’d be perfect, right?

However, someone in Gatorade’s fulfillment department didn’t look at the “quantity” field when picking and packing my order, so »more

Dirty DNS

2016 Dirty Dozen jersey

For cyclists, the acronym DNS stands for “Did Not Start”. That’s the result they publish if you are registered for an event but unable to participate. And for me, that’s how my 2016 season ended.

On October 2 I participated in the first of seven group training rides leading up to Pittsburgh’s Dirty Dozen race. I had already crawled up eleven of those infamous thirteen hills for a total of twenty ascents, and I was planning on seven more weeks of hard, focused training followed by a memorable event.

Four days after that first training ride, I flew to Maine to care for my 90 year-old mother, who had been hospitalized. With one very short exception, that’s where I’ve been ever since, and where I’ll remain for the immediate future.

I’ve only managed one easy ride in the past six weeks, a »more

Site News: PIT Cycling Calendar

Added links to my calendar of annual cycling events in Pittsburgh. Look for it under the Cycling nav drop-down, on my main cycling page, and in the cycling section footer.

Site news:

Site News: PIT Cycling Calendar
Added links to my calendar of annual cycling events in Pittsburgh. Look for it under the Cycling nav drop-down, on my main cycling page, and in the cycling section footer.
Posted Sat Nov 12th 2016