110913 – catch up

I think I have finally worked out some of the tech issues. Photobucket has totally changed how it works. Now it acts like a backup. I managed to link it to My Pictures, so it tried to upload over 3,700 pictures. Had to uninstall to stop it. Now uploading a more modest number.

Also the Kestrel Weather station logs even when it is turned off! I was wondering why we had data outside run times. That explains it, and also explains the odd patterns of pressure variation. Pressure is lower in a moving car and the course is higher than the motel.

To track back a bit, on the flight over, a young woman started waling. It turned out that her partner, directly behind me, had gone blue and appeared to have stopped breathing, with his eyes open. Fortunately it turned out he had just fainted.

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I’ve been having lots of computer probs. Unable to upload photos so far. Photobucket have changed their interface and I can’t make it work. Doh! Better got on with that now.

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080913 At Battle Mountain

I have been a bit remiss writing this up. On the 6th I flew to San Francisco. The journey was pretty good. I wasn’t able to select my preferred aisle seat from the check-in. I begged but go nowhere. However  I had a middle bulkhead seat, which meant I could get out easily. I was between 2 young men, both very pleasant. BA were rather generous with a rather good Tempranillo. I was tired but could not sleep. I tried the Oxazepam, 3 at half hour intervals. No obvious effect but I wasn’t panicking at the end of the flight. We got in at about 15:00 local. I had some time to spare as I had booked a motel near the airport. I found the airport has a left luggage facility, then got the BART downtown. Buying a ticket was really difficult, though BART isn’t a fraction as complicated as London Underground. You look up the price from a list. When you use a card, it gives you $20 as a base. If the price is less you have to use Dollar and Cent buttons to decrease. The trip to town was worth it. I had a bite to eat and a beer at the Embarcadero, then walked down towards Fisherman’s Wharf. Didn’t quite get there. I was going to get a cable car back but you have to have change. I didn’t, so had to walk. BART again, picked up my bag and took the transfer to pick up my car. The Avis guy was a bit odd. I had booked a Focus size car. Of course he wanted to sell me something bigger but somehow I ended up with a bright scarlet Fiesta. I always have trouble finding the cars. I ended up on the wrong floor, but I got there at last. My motel was called The Renaissance. Not sure what was reborn but it was a standard motel. I had my own sat nave, but fixing it wasn’r easy. After falling off several surfaces it ended up on the side window.

I consumed a fair bit of my duty free brandy and got up a bit late. Had a nice conversation with a Danish Harley riding lady. I missed breakfast but got off OK. I drove past Sacramento to Auburn, where I have stayed in the past. The Eidelweiss Diner is still there and provided sustenance in the form of a Ranch Breakfast, which is everything you can imagine scrambled together.  On the way I passed a sign for a workwear company. It seems they ‘cover every crack’. Have they seen a british builder?

I stopped once more for petrol and water, in Ferndale which is where the speed limit goes up and the traffic goes away. I was in at Battle Mountain just after 18:00 and met lost of the usual crowd. Wonderful. Some of us went off the Mexican restaurant which was as good as ever. Then a relatively early night. I didn’t sleep well. I could not find my long camera lense in the dark and kept worrying, which was daft. It was there this morning. Looks like I have not forgotten much at all.

No sign of the Obree team but I found out from the motel they are not booked in until today. 

This morning was a bit leisurely. I managed to miss the work team going out to the course ;-). I spent this morning meeting old friends and photographing machines. Burrows has asked me to submit the tech article early so I need to gather everything.

I also showed around my Kestrel 4000 weather tracker. Good reception. I was able to find the data to program the barometric pressure and have set up the units. The vane stand won’t be here 1st day, but we can record everything else.

This afternoon we have the main pre-race meeting, where I hope to meet my team.  

The car works very well and is economcal. If it had a manual shift and less soft suspension it would be very nice. There is the question of a name for it. It is small and red so I thought of The Zit, but it is quite nice. In the interests of good taste I avoided The Tit and The Clit. I came up with The Scarlet Pimple, but it could be Pimpernel. A tiny scarlet flower and also ‘They seek him here, they seek him there”

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I managed to find a couple of pics of my drive as it was.

Old drive 1Old drive 2

I wish it had looked like this. It is 2 photos, a view each way. You can see the Campanula I loved and want to re-establish. The Buddleias are back like this. Unkillable. You can see the gatepost on the right. It isn’t there anymore. The last narrowing before the gate has gone. Much easier to get the car in now.  You can see the old car my neighbor told me to replace because it looks bad on the new drive.

I did a couple of things tonight, which is unusual at present. I washed up and put all the recycling out, then I worked on a moss pole for climbing plants. The moss poles you can buy are not very good. Mine is a tube of steel mesh, which will be stuffed with sphagnum and water retaining gell. A couple of years ago I grew some seedlings from a dragonfruit. I gave some to a guy at work who used to sell plants for charity.  I killed mine. He grew his on, but the greenhouses he uses have lost water supply and are about to be demolished. I retreived 2 plants (with permission) which have perked up amazingly and are producing lots of aeriel roots. Dragon Fruit is really wierd. It is an epiphytic cactus. It grows up tropical trees. I have to look up the growing media, but I hope to have the plants installed where they can climb quite shortly.

Only about 4 weeks to go until Battle Mountain. Damjan is set to go. I gave him some sponsorship. His new bike looks even smaller than the last. Probably a nightmare in any crosswind, but very sleek. The back wheel must be smaller as it no longer protrudes above the shell. So many great machines this year.  http://www.recumbents.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5200&whichpage=2

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Time to start cranking up towards the main event.  I fly to SFO on the 6th for Battle Mountain 2013. Here are links to the sites. http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/whpsc2013/speedchallenge.htm 


I have been a bit more organised than usual. Everything booked including an overnight in SFO.

I’ve been having trouble with claustrophobia on long flights. I can do 8 hours, just, but after that my guts are churning. I can’t sleep and have to keep dashing to the loo. Alcohol is pretty scarce on flights these days so that way to get relaxed and sleep isn’t always available. My wonderful doctor Fiona Munroe Wilson (a Scot perhaps?) has given me a prescription for some ‘Valium’. I had some experience of this a few weeks ago when I had a gastroscopy. I have been taking drugs for acid reflux, which wasn’t full controlled. My skinny Dad had a hiatus hernia. Now I know I do too, but quite a small one. The surgeon told me to increase the drug dose and lose weight. There is surgery but not usually for milder cases. Doh! To bring the digression back, It was given IV Diazepam as a sedative. I told the surgeon I drink a fair bit. He said the dose would be a bit higher. They gave me 5mg and I was out like a light for a few hours. I woke feeling fine after the best sleep I’ve had for ages. If the Oxazepam tabs do the same on the flight I should be fine.

At least at first, I will be working with Graeme Obree and ‘The Beastie’. I’m not sure if we will be ‘Beastie Boys’ or ‘Wee sleekit cowering timorous beasties’. Usually when asked ‘man or mouse?’, I squeek when I’m squoken to. You can look up Graeme’s fantastic history. You may be familiar with the movie ‘The Flying Scotsman’. His prone bike is not very sophisticated aerodynamically, but it has a small frontal area and is small overall, which is a good start. At first attempt Graeme would like to be the fastest Brit. That record stands at about 67mph set by Rob English (no, really..)  in Dave Balfour’s Varna in Colorado. That seems like a reasonable aim.  

I contributed some money to help Damjan and the new ‘Eivie’ get to the event. There are quite a few competitors, including a new ‘stacked’ tandem. The top rider is fairly normally recombent. The other rider lies beneath him. The Toronto team have a bike called Bluenose after the famous schooner. The tandem might be call Brownnose. Excuse my bit of humour. It is a very good and fast machine which has a high chance  of setting record. This year will be really interesting, to me at least!

I bought a Kestrel 4000 portable weather station. About the size of a cell phone, it records wind speed, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.  It has a data logger with intervals that can be set and it downloads by bluetooth to my laptop. I will post the results here and/or the Battle Mountain website.  I hope it will give us more idea why one night is better than another. 

For me, the problem will be coming home. Battle Mountain is hard work, but enjoyable and satisfying. My usual life does not have much of the last 2. I do have a plan. I hope to adopt another cat. I gather black cats are hard to home, which is good for me as I wouldn’t have anything else. Black cats seem to be a bit different, in good ways. Maybe that is why the black cat is good/bad luck.

I had planned to get the house cleared up before adopting cat. I make some progress then fall back each time. I don’t suppose a messy house is a reason to deny adoption, but it would be nice to come home to a tidier house – so I will be busy!

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I don’t remember how much I said before. I planned just to get the drive of my house re-concreted. I talked to a neighbour who does these things and he persuaded me block paving would be better. The fence needed replacing too. It ended up being the drive, the wall at the end of the garden, the wall alongside the drive, drainage, removal of my (dead) flowering cherry and (live) laburnum. I used rather a lot of the money I had for these things.


Nevertheless, I am very pleased with it. Paul (the builder) suggested paving most of the garden. I resisted. The drive needed to be a bit wider at the entrance as it was hard to use with the parking around, but no more than that. I kept my little pond and came up with the radius to soften it and make entry easier. The old wall was made from blocks stood on their ends, with plants in the holes through them. The new has recesses and I hope to see a riot of campanula in them again, when they get over the shock.


I chose a herringbone pattern with bricks which should develop a more yellow colour, if the catalogue is to be believed. Paul suggested a grey cobble style set straight. I wanted something a bit more Victorian like the house The herringbone reduces the appearance of variations in width  The wall is an old red brick style.  My small pond is in the curve on the right – lots of iris Siberica. Some tadpoles despite the drastic winter.  


This is a view the other way. The drain strip is the lowest point. The ends are about level. The soakaway is below the near part.


Here are a couple of the recesses with Campanula behind and recovering.


I have pictures like this of the drive as it was, but they are on paper. I will have to find them and scan them. I hid the car when I took these. A neighbour suggested I needed a new car to go with the new drive. The price was comparable. the drive revealed that my old Polo was leaking oil. Turned out to be an oil breather problem. More money! 

Here are the rest of the pics http://s1127.photobucket.com/user/Protobikes/library/New%20Drive%202013

Now the house needs lots of work.

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Sorry not to have written for a while. I have let things slip a bit. I have not been doing the exercise I need to keep feeling well. Every now and then I have to go back to scratch and start again.

Some things have happened.

Richard Ballantine died. He had been sick for quite a while. His funeral was as bike-based as his life. Pedal powered hearse. We met at The Spaniards and a good crowd cycled down the hill to Golders Green. His son Shawn and daughter Kathy spoke. Here ares some pictures. http://s1127.photobucket.com/user/Protobikes/library/Richards%20Funeral

My drive is finished

I have cleaned through the living room

I went to se The Who at the O2.

I will fill ins some more details next time in.

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I spent last night replacing the keyboard on my laptop and trying to get Guitar Rig software going. I bought the laptop second hand almost a year ago to take to Battle Mountain. Before I left, the P key stuck down. I had to take an extra keyboard with me to make it work. I’ve done some investigation and the keyboard itself was faulty so I bought and fitted another. That part is fine. I had tried to install a copy of the guitar software on a laptop for Jemma Forey. I got as far as seeing input and output signals in the software, but not hearing anything. Same result on mine. Doh!

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Not written for a while. Not a lot to report really. I bumped into Jandira (not Jamdi) and Nello at the pub last Friday. Slept away a lot of Saturday. Did some boring practical things on Sunday. Now I’m back to the grind of another week. I must arrange to take a bit more time off soon.

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030513 Pigeon Sex

Pigeon Sex

On Friday evening I lounged in the garden for a while after work. I had noticed my new bird feeder was getting emptied very fast.  A magpie came down and showed me how.

Next were a pair of woodpigeons. The male (as I later surmised) went to the bird feeder and hoovered up all remaining food. He went back to sit on the fence with the female. She started snuggling up to him and he to her. They did a bit of a dance, bowing to each other, and then she was gentle pecking at his gorge and nape. The nape seemed expanded and more checked than usual. After a bit he started regurgitating food into her beak, like a parent feeding a chick. He did this five or six times, then she squatted and he mounted.

Doesn’t take long for pigeons. When he climbed off he seemed to lose interest. She carried on gently pecking at him for quite a while. They settled down and he started taking notice of other birds around. After a while they flew off.

I make no comment.

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