Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monderosa Ride

A group from Bethel Church rode to the Monderosa Bar & Grill located about 5 miles this side of Nenana for lunch. They have some of the best burgers in the state plus, it just seemed like a great idea. There was just a touch of drizzle on the way back but other than that the weather cooperated. It was a good opportunity to meet others from the church. Kind of funny to have a "church activity" with the destination being a bar but why not. The burgers were great. The RT handled great and for the first time, I had it over 55 mph since most of the secondary roads I normally ride on have speed limits of 50 or less. Once over 60, you can actually use 5th gear. I've also never ridden as part of a group before so that took a little bit to get used to. It was easy for me to leave plenty of distance to the person in front of me but I don't have any control over the person behind me. You pretty much need to pick a side of the lane and kind of stick to it. Normally, I tend to use most of the lane in the curves so this was different and I always had to think about it. The speed out averaged about 60 but someone else led on the way back and the speed seemed quite a bit faster. The speedometer on the bike is optimistic compared to the gps. The placement of the unit worked well. I don't feel at all tempted to try and push the buttons or even look at the screen for much more than speed. There is a screen which shows a map, speed and direction and that seems to be perfect for me. This is a snapshot of the group getting ready to leave the Monderosa and, as you can tell, it wasn't a clear sunny day. At this point, about a third of the group needed to head into Nenana for gas and, I was surprised to learn, some of the cruisers have very small gas tanks and need to fill up every 100 miles or so. I guess I shouldn't complain about having to fill up every 240 miles. It was a pretty cool trip and I'm glad someone organized it. They even had t-shirts made up!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Bike Maintenance

I did a little work on the bike this afternoon before going on a short ride. I put on a RAM mount bracket to hold my portable GPS unit. Brad from Barrow had ordered several extra parts and pieces so I bought the necessary bits from him. He has the same unit, Garmin GPSMAP 60Csx, which is a great unit. It has street maps for North America as well as a built in compass to show direction even when you are standing still and a barometric altimeter. I think that this is the first accessory (aka farkle)I've put on the bike. I checked the fit of a rear rack just to convince myself that the stock side carriers don't work. I will start looking for the correct Reynolds parts on Ebay. No rush. I ordered some rear shocks to replace the really worn out units. I've read that the stock units rarely lasted this long anyway. The problem I may have is that if it raises the ride height of the bike by much, it will be difficult for me to reach the ground at stops. Hopefully it won't be not be much of a problem.

After I got it all back together, I took a short ride and ended up needing to fill up the tank. It wasn't quite empty but there is a bike ride to the Monderosa scheduled right after church tomorrow. I missed the ride last year since I was in Barrow. I am a bit nervous since I have never rode as part of a group before. I'm still not real confident in the corners so I will probably be the slowest one out there.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Earthquake

We just had a small earthquake about 12 miles SW of Fairbanks. According to the Geophysical Institute, it was magnitude 3.49. Honestly, it felt a bit larger than that possibly because it was so close. It went on for about 15 seconds and you could hear the house creaking. According to their site, there have been a bunch of earthquakes today.

Update - According to the local paper, the magnitude has been upped to 3.72.

Saturday morning - Two more earthquakes early this morning. 3.18 magnitude at 6:16 am and 2.93 magnitude at 7:30 am. All with epicenter about 10 miles SW of town. Interesting the way I wake up maybe 20 seconds before the earthquakes hit.

"Only" 10 More Miles

Just ten more miles and I will beat last February for the most miles. How many times in the last year have I used that phrase to get me to walk a little bit more? I have to admit that it seems to work for me. This afternoon, I went for a short walk on the UAF ski trails behind West Ridge. I would've gone a lot further than the 4 miles if it didn't start raining but other than a little drizzle, no complaints at all. Some parts of the trail were kind of wet but not swampy. I opted not to go all the way around the T-Field since the southern end is almost always wet even near the end of the summer. The Baseline trail was pretty wet so I didn't go to lower campus along that route and just took the Skarland Trail like I had earlier in the week. The mosquitos were starting to come out with the high humidity but nothing like it was earlier in the Spring. I think the little cold snap killed a lot of the larvae. There were only a couple of other walkers and runners out on the ski trails today probably due to the threatening weather.

More Mini9 Misadventures

Since the Dell came with bluetooth, I thought about trying it out with the Apple Mighty Mouse so I went into the BIOS and enabled bluetooth and disabled "legacy USB support" as suggested in the Dell Mini forums and it worked like a charm. Easy to pair. The only problem was that there was no way within the OS to turn off bluetooth. Normally, there is an option to turn off bluetooth in the task bar. As you all know, if you fly with bluetooth on, you may inadvertently take over the control of the jet. Why else would they want you to disable such a low power radio. Anyway, the option was missing. Looking at the forums some more, there was a posting of how someone did it on 10.5.5 so I thought that I would give it a try. The last step was to delete a file that pointed back to the configuration file. I'm not sure how the file was supposed to get recreated but after deletion, the Dell would no longer boot. I killed it. Safe mode didn't work either. In fact, in the middle of the boot process, it would decide that it had had enough and just power itself down. I guess that's pretty safe though not the desired behavior. So the logical thing to do was to was to reinstall off of my Time Machine backup then reinstall the boot code. The reinstall would never complete. It would stop at some point with just the spinning beachball (the Mac equivalent of the Windows hourglass) and just sit there. I tried several times and even tried a new install but kept getting the same thing. Then I noticed something that I had never had to use before. The USB external optical drive had 2 USB cables coming off of it. Apparently, if it couldn't get enough power off of a single port, you would just plug it into a second port. I tried this (fortunately the Dell had 3 ports) and everything worked just like it's supposed to. I restored from the backup that was done just before my bluetooth experiment, reinstalled the boot code and it now works just as before. I am using to type this post. i did turn on two finger scrolling again and since I figured out what was confusing the software. I just need to have my fingers nest to each other oriented horizontally. If they are at an angle, the software gets confused.

I've convinced my middle son to get the Dell Mini 10v since he had managed to destroy his last laptop hauling it around in his backpack all of the time. I think that it should sturdier than a normal laptop mostly because of the lower weight. The Mini 10v doesn't have the benefit of the SSD but for him, I think it should be a good fit. He mostly needs the computer for listening to music and the Internet. No game play, and he already has a dvd player so for the price of a bargain laptop, he now has a Dell netbook on order complete with all the options such as speakers, mouse, protective pouch, etc. He even ordered the Product (Red) version but mostly for the color rather than the donation to fight Aids in Africa. It isn't going to ship for about 3 weeks but he's fine with that which kind of surprised me. I think the red colored ones get manufactured less often. It took quite a while for mine to get shipped as well. This one will probably be left on Windows XP and not try the whole hackintosh thing since his is a more "production" application than my experiment.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

2000 miles on the Nike+ Gadget

Today, I made my Nike+ mileage goal! No t-shirt option like there was for 1000 miles maybe because they figured that they wouldn't sell very many of them. According to the site, there are only 2,451 others who stuck around long enough to upload 2000 miles. This compares to the 364,885 that have logged 100 miles. I think people try the gadget out and for them it doesn't hold their interest. For someone like me, the geek factor holds my interest and I really do enjoy walking. The next milestone of 3000 miles only has 700 individuals in it. In case you are motivated to go for more, the 10000 mile club only has 15 people in it. It'll take me years to get there. Now, at least, I won't be so fixated on getting in miles walking. I still need to get ready for the Midnight Sun Run in a couple of weeks but for the last couple of days, I have been out walking just about every afternoon whether I felt like it or not. I still have my other goal to work, the 25000 calorie in 4 weeks (that's walking off not eating) and I am still ahead of schedule and 80% of the way there so it shouldn't be a problem making it. I have already met the Win For Alaska goal in their Get the Point program to get an iPod or GPS. No more walking goals for a while. I'll probably still walk at lunch time but I won't be so obsessive about it.

Now it's time for a bike ride...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Bike Maintenance

I was looking at the rear suspension of my RT last night and it looked like the rear end was sagging a bit. I measured the length of the rear shock, eyelet to eyelet and it was a bit under 12". A post to the BMWMOA forum site gave a quick answer. The nominal length should be something like 13 to 13½" so I probably need to replace the rear shocks which also function as the springs. Unfortunately, like many other parts, they are expensive since I can't just pick them up at a local auto parts store. The after market parts seemed expensive but they pale to the price for the OEM parts. So, I guess, I should be glad that there are after market parts available. On my ride last Monday, it seemed like the rear end would bottom out all the time and I would get bounced up off of the seat. This was most noticeable going down Goldstream Road with all of it's frost heaves. Also, this would explain why it is so difficult getting the bike up on the center stand. After all, you have to lift the whole bike up an additional 1½". Here all this time I was thinking that there must have been some special technique that I couldn't figure out. I guess worn out parts should be expected for a 26 year old motorcycle.

I am only 10¼ miles from my 2000 mile mark on the Nike+ website and I made my 2009 goal of 1000 miles. One more goal that I set is 25000 Calories burned in 4 weeks. I am a bit over halfway there and about halfway through the 4 weeks. Isn't it amazing what some of us do for entertainment. I am still managing to stay in front of many of the other challenges that I've entered except for some of the really weird ones such as run around the moon. For just about all of them that I am entered in, I'm managing to stay in the top 5. I suspect that will change as it did last summer when I started slacking off. I don't think I entered any data between the Equinox in September through the following January.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ride to Chatanika

This morning seemed too nice to just sit at home so I took the RT out for a ride. I initially headed to the University (out of habit) and realized that I wasn't wearing boots so back home to get them. Headed out towards Ester then back towards town on the Old Nenana Hwy. I turned on Goldsteam Road towards Fox then up the Steese Highway to Chatanika. After a brief stop at the roadhouse (picture found on the Internet), I headed back towards Fairbanks. I stopped briefly at the Felix Pedro Monument before heading back home. I briefly thought about heading up Chena Hot Springs Road but figured an hour was about right for a "short ride". Plus there were things I wanted to do on the bike and I didn't bring a camera.

This afternoon, after the bike cooled down, I checked the valve clearance. One exhaust was at 0.012" and the other at 0.009" so I reset them both to 0.008" as specified in the manual. There is a lot of discussion on the Internet on the correct clearance and think I set them loose last year. I'm glad to see that they weren't getting tighter which would have suggested problems with the valve seats. Replaced the brake fluid while I was at it then washed the bike (for the first time since I got it) since there was quite a bit of mud from riding during breakup. I messed up the left valve cover pretty bad from my spill a couple of weeks ago so I should probably look for a replacement. Or maybe just sand it down and add a little paint. Hmmm, a project.

So far, no issues at all with the Dell Mini9. I'm getting used to the keyboard with the exception of the apostrophe key. It really is in a strange location. I used a shareware program called Xslimmer to shrink down all of the applications by removing other architectures and language options. When I installed OS X, I used the customize option to remove all of the print drivers except for HP and all of the languages except English. That reduced the installation to about 8 GB. The installation of 10.5.7 added about 1 GB and running Xslimmer removed about 1 GB, Last night, I added some drivers for the touchpad which enabled some of the multitouch functions but it made the touchpad a bit less responsive so I disabled the multitouch and enabled vertical scrolling using the left edge of the touchpad. Works pretty well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dell Mini9 Netbook

My netbook came in yesterday just after lunch and I have been playing with it for the last 24 hours. I have to say that it is pretty nice to use. Absolutely no noise since it doesn't have a fan nor a hard drive. There are a lot of other things that are missing as well such as no optical drive and a weird keyboard. But it only weighs 2¼ pounds and has everything I need on a daily basis such as email, wireless access, three USB ports, LED backlit screen and about 4 hours of battery life. The SSD drive is only 32 GB so probably no MS Office applications for now. Plus, I do like the shiny, red color.

Oh yeah, I installed Mac OS X on it just to see how well it works. I followed the directions on the Gizmodo site which seemed pretty straightforward and it worked like a charm. It is now running 10.5.7 (most recent update) and everything seems to work just fine. It came with Ubuntu installed and I played with it for a while and they seem to have done a good job. A lot of applications usually needed were there. But I was looking for something more familiar since I have been using OS X ever since it came out. From everything I've heard, it would probably work pretty well. So far, I like it a lot. It syncs with my iPhone just fine which is a whole lot more than I can say about my Windows PC which always wants to reformat everything rather than simply work with what's there. This really is a reasonable travel option for me since I can sync and reload my phone if it gets all messed up. I also installed a bunch of music from my laptop iTunes collection and will probably install some sort of productivity. Maybe Openoffice. The only real negative is the keyboard has one key in an unexpected location. The apostrophe key is on the bottom row with the space bar and the Windows key (now an option key). The smaller size has been pretty easy for me to get used to especially since I don't type very well anyway. I'm typing this post on the Dell trying to run down the battery. I think it is going to last about 3½ hours. And this is with the wireless running the entire time watching some online videos, cleaning out my iTunes library, and general surfing. I think that this is a great "second" computer since the built in drive is too small to be your primary machine.

On another note, this afternoon, I walked to a some friends home where they were having a graduation party, Things have really greened up around here. I think it was about 70°F this afternoon and felt almost too hot to walk anymore. I guess I'm just getting spoiled.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It was a nice afternoon for a walk down to lower campus. This is along the Skarland trail which winds from West Ridge behind the museum and the Reichardt Building towards the intersection with Farmers Loop Rd. I then wound my way back to lower campus before retracing my steps. I haven't done any walking for the last four days and I really felt like I needed to get out and about. Fortunately, I have the flexibility to come in early and leave late and take a couple of hours in the middle of the day for a long walk. Last night, when I flew back into town, it was almost ready to rain. Quite a change from the horizon to horizon blue skies up north. But, it turned out to be a nice day and felt pretty warm walking around.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's another beautiful afternoon here in Barrow. This is a whale skull that is just north of the main Ilisagvik College building that is shared with BASC I believe that I got just about everything I had planned on done. There is a problem with the VoIP system and I replaced a PRI card on the gateway but it turns out to be a problem with the pairs from the telephone company to the BARC facility. The telephone techs looked into it right away and figured out what the problem was. Should be fixed some time tomorrow.

As usual, I feel really drained now that I'm getting ready to leave. I think that it is the long days and the rush to get everything done. Plus the buildings are very warm with the 24 hour sunshine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back in Barrow

This morning, I went to the Bowhead geocache located on the NARL campus and logged my visit. I thought about leaving the Travel Bug there but thought that maybe the KBRW cache would be a better location. Just before dinner, we drove out to the KBRW tower and looked for the cache and didn't find it. One of the maintainers of the cache was there so he theoretically knew exactly where it should have been. We decided that we needed to wait until the snow melts. Geocaching must be a summer activity, especially here in Barrow where the snow really blows around. After dinner, just on a whim, we went out towards the point to look for another cache but there was 8 feet of snow piled up all around the end of the road right about where the cache was supposed to be located. Oh well. It was a really sunny day and the office I was working in was pretty warm even with the windows open. No walking at all.

I have NetReg turned on on all but one of the subnets and I think we have things worked out enough to get it turned on tomorrow afternoon. Another activity is to try and get the APC UPS off of the pallet and moved down the hall to the server room to get ready for the installation in June. The other activity was to test the NetReg system to see if we can authenticate to a Windows Active Directory. This would allow you to use your domain credentials to register your machine on the network. This was also successful but we aimed it back to a Radius server until the scripts to automate account creation could be completed and tested. So far, this has been a very successful trip.

I mentioned yesterday that they had me in the NARL Hotel. Today, I was moved to hut 171. Not a bad place but still, there are 6 people in this small house. Pretty crowded. I brought one of the 700 mHz black boxes so I can continue to work in a more comfortable environment from the very warm office. Not real high bandwidth but more than adequate. Plus, the DSL connection was removed last week as a cost savings measure so others in the hut were happy to see the box there.

Wednesday Evening - I went back to the Bowhead geocache this afternoon to drop off Uncle Fred's Ring travel bug and I noticed that there was a lot of stuff in this particular cache. There was another travel bug there that needed to visit as many states as possible. It had been sitting in Barrow for quite a while so I went ahead and picked it up. At a minimum, I'll move it to another cache in Fairbanks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Geocaching in Barrow

It is in the middle of breakup around Barrow and it is very muddy. One of the things I wanted to do while I was here was drop off a travel bug (TB) that my wife and I picked up while geocaching last week. One of the goals of the travel bug was to make it to Burr's virtual cache which is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial located near the Barrow airport. We stopped so I could take a couple of pictures to post onto the geocaching web site. Since whomever started this travel bug wanted a picture also taken at the actual crash site, which is about 9 miles SW of the town of Barrow, I'll deposit the TB in another cache up here in Barrow. The trip would me much easier once things either dry up or re-freezes.

Here is a closeup of the airplane in the middle of the monument with the TB. I had posted this picture to show that the TB made it to Barrow. Plus, it is a pretty nice monument. I'm told that the one at the actual crash site is pretty trashed.

The actual reason for this trip is to make a bunch of changes to the NetReg system that I had set up somewhere near the end of March beginning of April. It is important to be able to actually test the changes as they are made to avoid breaking things. I suspect that I won't get any walking done while I'm up here but after pushing myself this past weekend, I could use a short rest. They put me up in the NARL Hotel again this time. Pretty luxurious compared to the huts I've used all winter. I'm not really sure of the reason but I'm not complaining. Even with the shared bathrooms down the hall, they are still in much better shape than some of the huts.

Close up of the TB.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Beautiful Fairbanks Day

It was another beautiful day. I took a long walk after church today. Up Ballaine Rd to Red Fox, to Pearl Creek then back home via Eton Blvd. I really like this loop since there are a lot of hills and except for Ballaine, traffic is pretty minimal. The new shoes feel pretty good though like any other new pair, I feel a little sore near the bottom of my shins. By the end of the walk, it felt much better. Over the 11 miles, I averaged over 4 mph. I'm happy with that pace especially considering all of the hills. This evening, I went for a motorbike ride since I still needed to get some gas. I didn't wear the riding pants and I really felt exposed. Not doing that again. They announced a ride on the 31st today at church. I missed the group ride last year since I was in Barrow. I'm headed up tomorrow and again the second week of June so I'll definitely be here.

Only 60 more miles to 2000 miles on the Nike+ site.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fairbanks Heart Walk

This morning was the Fairbanks Heart Walk. There was entertainment, a silent auction and kid activities. The actual walk started around 10:00 and ran for what they said was three miles. My iPod Nike+ indicated that it was closer to 2½ miles. I walked around before the event started and met others from UA for a team photo. We were a pretty low key team as we didn't have matching t-shirts or hats like many of the others. Lunch was served after the short walk and the Fort Wainwright band provided entertainment. This is the first time I've ever participated but I suspect that it won't be the last. Someone mentioned that the Midnight Sun Run registration was going on. I may sign up if I'm going to be in town. Update - signed up. Now I need to decide if I want to try running or simply walk...

The next activity was to look for a framed print at a couple of the local art galleries. I've been employed at the university for 25 years and I was asked to look for a piece of art that I liked. I found a nice Bryan Birdsall print of Denali that I liked and it was within the specified budget. In addition, I had to write a short biography and get my picture taken. Also stopped at the Fairbanks Farmers Market in their new location on College Road. Too early for produce but there was a nice selection of healthy breads and snacks. We then went to a plant sale at the Botanical Gardens at the University but it was pretty well picked over by the time we got there. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cool, Sunny Morning

28°F this morning, but sunny and clear. The view of the Alaska Range about a hundred miles south of town was great. Unfortunately, every picture I take never really comes out very good. Maybe I need to get a better camera than simply my phone. Rode in on the scenic route again and now need to fill up the bike. In other words, I didn't ride my bicycle in today even though it's "Ride to Work Day", but then again, I saw very few bicycles on my ride in. I did pass by several other motorcycles including another old "airhead" around the same vintage as mine though it looked to be in immaculate shape. Yesterday, my bike was a little difficult to start and I'm wondering if the valves need adjusting again. I last adjusted them last summer and if they need adjusting again, I may have the valve recession problem that I've read about on some of the BMW forums. The problem typically shows up around 50k miles and mine has 59k. I hope not since it is kind of an expensive repair that I can't do myself. Hopefully, it can wait until the end of the summer if I do have the problem.

Before noon today, I walked to lower campus and took the scenic route. I then continued on to College Rd for lunch. On the way down, I noticed that I forgot my medicine in my office so I took the extra long route back to my office to try and compensate. The ski trails are just about completely dried out and it was a very nice walk. My bg level is completely normal which makes me think that maybe I need to take a long walk every afternoon. Since I'm at the university over 10 hours each working day, I have plenty of time to take long walks. I used to take walks several times per day when I first started walking more. It was much easier for me to take a number of short walks instead of the real long ones. Now, I tend to prefer walks ranging from 5 to 10 miles. If it is shorter, I don't feel like I've worked hard enough. Of course, I could run but that brings a whole slew of other issues. I picked up a new pair of walking shoes yesterday evening so this was the first walk with them. Overall, they feel great with enough cushioning when walking on pavement. They have a lot of ventilation so maybe I should keep my old shoes for trips to Barrow or cold days (like today).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cold Steel in the Music Room

A diversion this evening. My wife plays with this group called Cold Steel, a steel drum band (in Fairbanks). They had a potluck and a practice session to learn a new song. At times, it is a pretty large group. No walking or shoe shopping tonight. I briefly considered walking back home but until I get new shoes, I thought that I should cool it a bit with the walking. I already made my May goal of 80 miles.

Stevia

Last night, I picked up a product called NuStevia in the natural foods section of Fred Meyer. It is a natural, zero calorie sweetener packaged in small packets. I heard about stevia from nomeswalker.blogspot.com and I figured that it was worth a try. I generally use aspartame in my coffee and using a natural option just seems like a good idea. I have never had any sort of reaction to the artificial product in all the years I've been consuming it as many others have had. I'm trying it out in my coffee right now and it tastes great. Way better than Splenda and it sweetens about as much as Nutrasweet which seems sweeter than straight sugar. So far, I like it. I've read on the Internet (after all, everything you read on the Internet is true!) that stevia has a bitter aftertaste but I'm not tasting anything like that. Maybe too many years on the artificial stuff...

On another note, this morning was bright and sunny like yesterday and was above freezing (just barely) so I took the scenic route through the Goldstream Valley into the university. It adds only about 12 miles to the trip but it was a wonderful ride. I was warned about a couple of moose hanging around the end of our road but there was none to be seen. There was very little traffic this morning and when I pulled into the U, the place looked deserted.

Wednesday afternoon - Went for a walk at lunchtime through the ski trails to & from lower campus with a side trip to a Chinese restaurant just off campus. It isn't sunny anymore and there was a cool breeze blowing. Still it was another 4½ miles towards my 2000 mile t-shirt. I finally got some information on this Saturday's Heart Walk (click to donate) and it is only about 2½ miles. It is for a good cause and I'll look for just about any opportunity to walk somewhere. One thing that I really need to do is replace my shoes. They have well in excess of 1500 miles on them. Many web sites say to replace shoes much more often than that. Plus, my left heel is a bit sore after this noontime walk. Even though the distance isn't that significant. Maybe tonight...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chilly Morning

Today, at around 11:30, the Alaska Fire Service was doing a smoke jumping demonstration just west of the building. I believe that there were six jumpers total aiming for a small area just north of the Botanical Gardens where a bunch of elementary kids were assembled to watch.

The skies were clear and sunny this morning but the thermometer said 32°F. I hoped that there wasn't much water left on the road from yesterday's rain. Most of the roads this morning were nice and dry until I turned into the back entrance to the university. It was very wet with a slight glaze visible and had little if any of the morning sun. I poked my way through campus on my bike and even looked for a little bit of gravel for traction. In reality, the road surface was probably above freezing even if the air temperature was floating around 32°. It was still a nice ride in though, sometimes, I wish the commute was a little bit longer. It feels like as soon as I get going, my turn into the university comes up. Last summer, I used to take a long, circuitous route into the university but that seems a little irresponsible even though I get almost 50 mpg on the old bike. From reading some of the posts on the BMWMOA forums, I shouldn't be taking these little short rides since there isn't enough time for the battery to recharge. I'm thinking that maybe the charging system on the bike had already been upgraded by one of the previous owners. After all, everything else seems to be in pretty good shape.

Yesterday, it was raining during the ride in as well as the trip home. There is still a lot of gravel on some of the roads and I have to admit that I go through those areas very carefully now. One of the worst ones is at the bottom of our road. It isn't any problem if there isn't any other traffic since I can sort of cut the corner so that I'm going straight through the gravely section. Yesterday afternoon, there were several cars waiting to turn so I had to modify my approach to try and minimize any side loads on the tires. It makes me think which is good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

It was pretty quiet around here today. We went looking for geocaches this afternoon and found all five of the ones we selected from the geocaching website. Most were pretty easy to find but it is a great way to get yourself out walking around. Most of them seem to be a modest walk from parking lots so didn't get very many miles in but that is probably just fine. My feet are still sore from very worn out shoes (probably close to 1500 miles) and a lot of walking on pavement. Walking or running on snow seems to be much kinder on your body. All in all, a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Came home and made burgers on the grill built into the new range. This was the first time we used the grille since I finally got the downdraft exhaust blower ducted outside yesterday afternoon. It took a while since the floor duct was 6" and the blower outlet was 5" and the location of the floor outlet was less than optimal. Plus, you are working underneath the range. Pretty cramped. At least it's done now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Dreary Day

Last weekend, Spring really sprung. The leaves started to come out on the trees and just about all of the snow melted. Yesterday and today are a reminder that it is only Spring and not Summer. This morning, it was right around freezing and I chose not to take the scenic route in as I had done many times last Summer. Not that I was really cold but my visor kept fogging up and there is still a lot of gravel on the road. The University is in the process of doing a lot of cleanup of the grassy areas and they throw all of the gravel and dead grass on the road so there are some roads that are curb to curb gravel. You can't even see the pavement. It is only temporary since they clean it up but you never really know where they are working.

Got a little more walking in and signed up for the Heart Walk on May 16th. If you feel like donating here is the LINK. There is very little information on the actual walk, e.g. no maps or routes, just a mention to meet at Veterans Park (wherever that is) at 9:00. I think that is the one across the street from the old JC Penneys store on Cushman. May 11th-16th is Alaska Bike to Work week and May 15th is Bike to Work Day. It is kind of interesting that Fairbanks doesn't have anything planned or at least it isn't mentioned on the website. Anchorage and Juneau both have community support and activities planned. I don't think they mean motorbike so I will probably ride my bicycle at least on the 15th.

Later - I got another fairly long walk in over lunch today. Had a small lunch on lower campus then came back via the ski/walking trails. Most of them are still pretty wet and swampy but it was still a nice walk up. I guess in reality, just about any walk is a nice one. I am still motivated to walk just about any time that I can get away with it.

Friday Afternoon - Went for a nice walk at lunchtime down to the intersection of Geist and University Ave. There was a lot of activity in the Hutch parking lot with cars racing their engines. Maybe the seniors showing off their cars (lots of red cars). Kind of overcast and cool but still a nice walk. I'm at 852.84 miles for the year on the Nike+ gadget but I noticed that I'm starting to slow down as far as accumulating mileage. There has been a steady decrease in mileage every month since peaking in February. Not taking the bus has trimmed off over 60 miles per month. Now I have to almost go out of my way to walk somewhere. This afternoon, it would have been so simple to just ride the bike down to the restaurant instead of hoofing it but since I came in extra early for an audio conference, I figured that I had the time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SSD Drive (Part II)

The encryption of the hard drive completed about 7:00pm last night. There is now a pause during the boot process when it asks for an encryption pass phrase. After entering it, the rest of the boot process takes about 6 seconds before it is ready to log in. Before, with the old drive, you got to watch the "spinning beach ball" for about 15 seconds after logging in while all the little bits and pieces started up but now it is ready to use in only a couple of seconds. This is a great upgrade as it now feels like a new, faster machine. The PGP WDE (Whole Disk Encryption) doesn't seem to slow things down much and Time Machine still works. In case you aren't aware of it, Time Machine is the continuous, incremental backup that comes with Apple OS 10.5 and it works with an external drive. Getting it to work properly with encryption was one of the goals of this upgrade. If you use Apple's encrypted home directory, Time Machine functionality is crippled as it would only generate a backup of your home directory when you logged out. Since I don't log out very often, that didn't work out very well. Also, each backup of your home directory was just that, a full backup, instead of an incremental. The downside is that the backup on your Time Machine volume is unencrypted. Not really a problem for me since that drive just sits in my office. The intent of an encrypted volume on your laptop is in case it gets stolen, none of your data is compromised. So far so good. The Time Machine restore on the new drive went really slick.

On another geeky note, I downloaded and installed the 64-bit version of the Microsoft Windows 7 final release candidate on a virtual machine on my Macbook Pro. It runs a little bit slower than the beta version released last December presumably because they added more bits and pieces. Hopefully, they don't add much more. It doesn't feel as bloated as Vista and I have it running on a 1 GB virtual machine under Vamware. I guess to really compare it, I should use Parallels and an unecrypted host. Something else to play with in my free time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

SSD Drive in a Macbook Pro

This morning, I came in early to swap out the hard drive in my Macbook Pro to one of the new Solid State Drives (SSD). After Googling (that's now a word isn't it?) how to open up the case and replace the drive, I sat down with my 00 phillips and T6 torx and started removing screws. Twenty one tiny screws later, I had the top off. Only a couple more screws and a few cables to go. Success, and better yet, the laptop still runs! Right now, I am doing a system install on the new drive from my Time Machine backup. My hope is that the new drive will be a bit faster and a whole lot sturdier. Another plus is that it is about 50% larger than the old drive. I still want to try out the PGP whole disk encryption that never seemed to work with the old drive. The new drive is a Super Talent Ultra SATA 256GB SSD supposedly with write speeds of 160 MB/s and read speeds of 200 MB/s. We'll see...

Tuesday Afternoon - The installation is finished and the machine boots really fast. Easily twice as fast. Similar speed increases for starting up applications so the laptop feels much faster. I'd say this was a good upgrade plus I now have almost 155 GB free. I won't know if there is any power savings but from everything I've read online, probably not. Just to mess things up more, I'm running PGP whole disk encryption. So far it is 10% completed and shows another 4 ½ hours to go. With the original hard drive, this program always hung at 1% completed so this is looking good. Not that I have anything super secret on my laptop but it is a good practice. I wanted to try it myself before recommending it to anyone else.

I walked down to University and College for lunch and came back on the scenic route with a stop at Ballaine Lake and the Geophysical Institute. So I'm still plugging away with the walking though I'm starting to feel really run down again. I rode the bike in this morning and it was a bit chilly. I think that it was only a little above freezing. With a little push, I may be able to make my walking goal this month. Though I'm tempted to ride anywhere I go.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Last night, I resisted the urge to ride the bike and walked to our cell group meeting. I tried to take the trail to the Musk Ox Farm but it was still pretty wet. After uploading all my walks to the Nike+ site, I'm now at 805 miles since Jan 1st. Only about 200 miles to my 2000 mile t-shirt. I figure that the sensor is probably going to die so I ordered another one from the Apple store today. Supposedly, they last for about 1000 miles but this is the first time it's even approaching that distance. The first thousand miles took 3 sensors but the time might be about right. I.e. about 6 months for each sensor. The current one was replaced in January and the one before that was replaced in September. I didn't use the Nike+ device much last Fall after the Equinox but it was still attached to my shoe.

I did ride the bike in today and it really felt nice to get out on the road again. I really want to take a trip somewhere. My throttle hand still gets a little numb while riding so I'm not sure how well I'll do on longer rides.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

First Ride of the Year

Finally, went on my first ride of the year after doing some maintenance on the bike. Changed the oil and the filter after going on a short ride to warm up the engine. Changing the filter turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be and it took much of the afternoon. It is buried on the lower side of the engine behind the fairing and the exhaust. I managed to get it replaced without removing all of that but it was a pain. Luckily, it is probably only a once a year job. I had to look on the Internet several times as there has been a lot of discussion on this particular oil filter. It seems that the package comes with extra small pieces and you need to have the right pieces in the right order or you can kiss your engine goodbye. Articles titled "$2000 o-ring" get my attention. I actually ended up pulling the filter cover since I had the o-ring and a shim out of sequence.

This evening, I took a long ride through Goldstream Valley then came up the ridge to Summit Drive. There was a lot of gravel in one of the corners near the very top of the hill and I ended up "low siding" the bike. I was going pretty slow in the middle of the turn and the rear wheel started to slide on the gravel (actually the front wheel felt like was sliding as well). The bike went down slowly and I ended up sitting on the road with the bike about 10 feet away. No injury to me (ATGATT) but the left valve cover shows some definite grinding and my riding pants definitely shows some scrapes. No other obvious damage and I continued riding for another 30 miles or so. Time to start looking for a valve cover on Ebay. I had been looking for some cylinder guards for quite a while but I haven't found any at a reasonable price i.e. cheap. I also need to watch for gravel on the road especially in the corners.