I love how it matches my Sykes fenders :) Since my bike is pretty narrow, we request ours to be a bit shorter to accomodate our narrow hallway - mine is 10 inches instead of the regular 12.
Unfortunately the first time I fixed it to the wall with plugs. My walls are ancient and crumbly, and it fell out, leaving a nasty gash in the front. Ow! Re-affixing it with dynabolts and all is well.
I found an abandoned bike in the park near my house. It was an old Repco RT Sport. Back in the 80's, when Repco's still made decent bikes (at least according to my granddad) I had a Repco 'Tracer'. It was an awesome bike. But it got stolen one day, and police later reported the corpse had been found in a bush by the lake in my neighborhood. These thoughts immediately returned to me upon finding this deserted soul. Had it been stolen? Vines growing through the wheels suggested this had been laying in the bushes for months. In fact, I think the owners of the adjoining property had just tossed the unwanted bike over the fence. I'm pretty sure that qualifies as bike cruelty. I decided to take it in, and give it a new life. Well, I have been on the lookout for a beater... but the frame is too large for me, so I decided to rebuild it for a family member.
Unloved and deserted
I took it into my awesome local bike store - Bikeforce in Richmond - who through many previous visits and repairs have proven themselves knowledgeable and professional without being elitist, and above all friendly and helpful (despite numerous tire-kicking visits by me). And my dog is always welcome there. They helped me flesh out a plan for re-fitting out the RT Sport as an urban commuter. We decided repainting the bike would lose some of its appeal.
Some goals for the rebuild:
Steve of Bikeforce Richmond presents the finished rebuild
When the bike was ready for pickup, I was pleased with the result. Fitting it out with predominantly black components allows the faded blue frame and decals to make more of a statement. It definitely retains some charm, and is understated but handsome. I'm glad we decided against repainting the frame. I love the old decals.
The ride is fabulous. The bike rides nicely, and having the Alfine with bar end shifter makes it a breeze to take a relaxed cruise around, or really put your back into it. It feels very efficient, and somehow I'd say a little 'classier' feeling than a derailleur. Great fun!
Here you can see the rather understanded Tubus Fly rack. The black Alfine eight speed seems to be a little more covert at hiding it's bulk than it's silver counterpart.
JTek Engineering's bar-end shifter for the Alfine eight speed hub... brilliant!
How could you repaint over this? Gorgeous!
Fixie nerdlery meets commuter nerdlery
Maiden voyage... the Repco lives on!
Thanks to Steve, Leight and Alistair of Bikeforce for their help!
Since moving to Melbourne, with it's unpredictable skies and generally mucky streets, cycling without mudguards has become an unviable mode of transport. Despite the resulting wet ass situation, it's not nice for the bike, and sends a clear message that, "hey, I don't love my bike!" Like Agro Vation used to say, "keep it clean, team!"
So I went on the lookout for some mud guards for my Dahon Hammerhead 7.0. There is not a lot of choice for a 20" wheel size, and the SKS Dahon special mudguards (although very good) don't visually fit the slim lines of the Hammerhead. When researching our Dahon Cargo Bike options, I came across Sykes Wooden Bicycle Fenders, claiming to be strong, lightweight, flexible and darn good lookin'! Just the ticket. Finishing my fit-out with a new rear Kinetix Pro wheel, I think the results speak for themselves. You be the judge.
full flickr set
It's a well known fact that dogs love going for trips. They're always wanting to go for a walk somewhere new, they'll leap at the chance to go for a drive in the car, hell, the internet is full of videos of skateboarding and surfing dogs!
This little project started with our desire to take our little doggie with us when we head out on our bikes. The original idea was to get a front basket on the bike. You can't really carry much more than 5kg on your handlebars, and the choices are more limited if you have a long handlebar stem like most folders. Klickfix has some good options, and the new Dahon luggage truss is genius in it's simplicity.
We decided instead to go for a rear-mounted system. Again the choices are a bit more limited for a 20" wheel bike (especially in Australia) and the range is not great to begin with. After seeing some poorly made and some ugly choices, we ended up getting an antique wooden crate, and went about investigating how to mount that on the rear of a Dahon. My conclusions were:
With the lack of stuff in Australia, I hunted around online and ended up ordering from the kind fellows at bike-x-perts.com. Europe has all the goods for commuting type gear, and Germany in particular. I purchased:
...and then began the waiting for my delivery to arrive. In the mean time, even my doggie seemed to get impatient to go for a pedal. We discovered together, that my Chrome Metropolis messenger bag is A-OK for doggie portage.
Anyway, yesterday, my exciting package finally arrived from Germany, time to get to work...
You will need a bike tool, or hex keys, and probably a hacksaw depending on your bike.
This is the Mu P8, with the Rackime FoldIt Fix 20" rack attached. As you can see, it's a handsome rack!
Foldability is not affected. It adds a bit of bulk over the wheel (as expected) but gives you a nice handle.
You will probably need to hacksaw the front stays to the appropriate length for your frame. The bolts for the front stays are hard to tighten, since they face the middle. My installation guide shows regular bolts, but mine were not. A right angle hex-key will be easiest (like you get with Ikea furniture) otherwise you might have to get them in place, take it apart and then tighten.
This is a SnapIt adapter clicked into the rack.
The adapter comes with a set of screws and large washers which could be used to affix a basket or bag very easily. The base of my box is 20mm thick, so I needed to get longer screws. It didn't seem as secure to run through the wood fixing into the base, so I instead pulled out these little rubber lugs, screwed through the mounting into the box. Not sure if this is the intended installation, but definitely stronger.
From here, I can now snap on my box for an instant Dahon cargo bike!
The rack plays nice with panniers, and I think you could tour just fine with them. You may need to mount the bags as far back as possible to get heel clearance.
Post-edit: The ClampIt would work well as a human-sized mouse trap. Getting it on is easy, getting it off... expect some very sore fingers!
So I'm about six weeks in to a six month jaunt around the globe. We had a short overnight stay in Vancouver, and whilst there, I got my fill of some good vegan cravings at OrganicLives restaurant.
The food is among the best, if not the best, live cuisine I've had the pleasure to eat (up there with Live in Toronto.) We had the lasagna, and a special of zucchini spaghetti. The lasagna was accompanied by a delicious 'ceasar' salad, and the spaghetti sauce was incredibly rich and dense, and as hearty as I remember any bolognese sauce being, quite incredible, and most satisfying.
But to top it off, was a ecstatically tasty coconut cream pie. So good, it may just knock off Candle 79's chocolate-peanut butter bliss as my favourite desert.
I hope to return one day!
How did I end up at this place? A keyboard snob? An elitist? In the early 90s my Mum gave me her IBM Model M keyboard from a previous job. A mechanical marvel, an engineered masterpiece. I couldn't fully appreciate it at the time, perhaps I was young, but more likely we just had no idea how crappy keyboards would become over the next two decades. I spilled orange juice into the Model M, and although a little sad, I moved on.
Years later, despite getting mild RSI at work I persevered with crappy bottom of the line HP keyboards in the office. My Mac Pro was delivered with the horrendous A1048 keyboard. I replaced this with the 'funky' aluminum mac keyboard - hey did I just pay good money to give my Mac Pro a laptop keyboard?
DSI Mac Mechanical Modular Keyboard
Finally I lost the plot. From Fentek Industries I bought a snappy DSI Mac Mechanical Modular keyboard. The idea is that it is expandable in various ways, but I was happy to get a tenkeyless keyboard and save on desktop space. I also wanted a mac-specific keyboard layout, and there really aren't any alternatives. The DSI Mac Modular has the option and command keys in the mac positions, and no context-menu key. Additionally, the Mac Modular supports volume up, down and mute, and has an eject key. This is all well and good, but I would love to have seen support for pause/play/next track for iTunes - really more useful. My only other minor quibble with the keyboard is that the compact layout is a little dense. Using a Windows layout at work day to day, I get a little disoriented with cursor keys, page up/down etc jutting right up to the regular keys.
The typing action on this keyboard is great. I have the one blessed with brown Cherry switches, blue are also available. Despite using the 'quieter' brown Cherry switches, you will get a very distinct mechanical keyboard noise from this keyboard. Drives the wife a little crazy. Doesn't matter, I'm in my own world churning out wpm on this baby.
My keyboard seems to have a weird issue with USB - it just stops working after some period of rest. Not sure if it's the keyboard or my computer, but I will contact DSI about it.
I would definitely recommend this keyboard for any Mac user desiring a quality keyboard with a Mac specific layout.
Realforce 87U Keyboard
Now, the real new darling in my life is the Topre Corporation's Realforce 87U keyboard. The typing experience on this really is fantastic. The keyboard's reputation of being the best you can get is well deserved. Topre's capacitive switch technology is really unique. It doesn't feel like any mechanical switch I've used. The keys do not bottom out in a hard, clunky manner. Instead they seem to offer some gentle deceleration before they hit the end of their travel. They are also quiet. The sound is satisfying, but not clacky like regular mechanical switches. The layout is great - a standard Windows layout with everything in the expected location, perfect for programming. The tenkeyless layout keeps the mouse close to my right hand. It's appearance is totally ninja with black text on black keys, which looks cooler than blank keys and also lets non-typists hunt and peck, should you allow them to touch your keyboard.
Kapow! I decided to power up from the regular understated black escape key to the red one.
The Realforce keyboards are also customizable. I have switched my left [ctrl] and [caps] keys, putting the left control key closer to my pinky. You can also deactivate the Windows key and the Numlock key.
Beautiful blue glow...
To support this, you get alternative sets of [capslock] and [ctrl] keys. You also get an additional red [esc] key (as pictured) and some pretty funky blue WASD keys - for gamers I guess?
Scouring the web, you'll no doubt encounter many personal dilemmas about shelling out so much money for just a keyboard... wait... just a keyboard? I use a keyboard every day of my life. I use a keyboard to earn my living. Would you expect a carpenter to use a rusty old band saw? Would you risk your well being with poorly fitting shoes? It is utterly worth it. If I lost this keyboard, I'd absolutely buy a replacement without hesitation. Once you lay your hands on one of these, you'll know exactly why you bought it.
So again, winter is upon us, and the challenge is to find vegan wares to meet the cold.
When I was up in Montreal, I picked up this 'Delahaye' sweater for the office.
I also picked up this jacket, from 2 Die For. Not sure about the name, but I guess it's good enough for a vegan coat :)
The lining has added awesome words of awesomeness, such as 'dare your survival' and 'one in a million'. Apparently it's also edition 235 of 500, so not sure if that is a contradiction or not. http://2diefor.it
I also picked up the white 100% cotton Ralph Lauren sweater at Paragon sports in NYC. I'm not sure why, but couldn't for the life of me find it in an actual Ralph Lauren store (is the cotton one too cheap for the high profile stores?)
You don't need to say it. I know I am sexy.
I've recently become a Jonathan Safran Foer addict. His writing is exhilarating, personal and touching. Although I had seen the film of Everything Is Illuminated, I think he really came to my attention in NY Mag by bagging conceited dipshit Anthony Bourdain. His latest book, Eating Animals is one of the most incredible books I've read. As a vegan, it's always hard not to be a crank spouting facts at meat eating friends, which usually is only helpful in starting religious wars. But when one of our times' great story-tellers approaches the difficult subject of modern day animal agriculture from anew with an open and honest investigation, the result is a much more enjoyable read, yet an astonishingly important and comprehensive work. A must read for everyone.
Foer opens the book with 'Storytelling' - a binding and familiar tale about his Grandmother's cooking. The way we eat is such a large part of our culture, our family traditions and habits, our identity, that it overshadows what may normally be easy, clear-cut decisions. After years of coyly courting vegetarianism, Foer is jolted by the vastly more significant responsibility of making decisions for his soon-to-arrive son.
So rather than cranky veganism or environmentatlism is instead the story of Foer's conflicted but philosophical journey. A journey which sees him sneaking into a factory farm, visiting family farmers striving to provide "ethically raised" meat products, including a vegetarian rancher (not to mention the vegan slaughterhouse architect), talking with the employees of factory farming operations and slaughterhouses, and not least of all distilling the ocean of data and statistics to provide us with frightening glimpses of the scale of it all.
Given the gravity of the topic, most reviews easily forget to mention the brilliance of Foer's penmanship. The book resonates so deeply and is so successful because of Foer's storytelling ability, relating us all through our common experiences with food and tradition, and the decisions, queries and self-doubt we've all encountered. Foer is not here to beat you up, instead he wants to discuss the difficult topics, get past the convenient excuses, look into our traditions, look at the discrepancies between what we believe and what's real, our ethics and our actions, what is visible and what is hidden.
Eating Animals is one the most utterly important conversations we need to have right now, you need to take part. Read this book.
A useful video interview with Foer is here on Amazon.
I spent last week at Burning Man, which was totally WOW. It was also my first time. Since Burning Man is held in the desert, there is no water supply, and no water drainage, so you must literally take everything in and take everything out with you, including your water. It is forbidden to dump grey water anywhere - it would be damaging to the environment, and not to mention quite muddy and gross if people did so!
I was camping in a tent, so I needed a way to take food in, that wouldn't require a lot of water to wash up, since I really had no way to take the waste water out with me.
To the rescue comes Lipsmackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' by Christine and Tim Conners. This cookbook has lots of dehydrated recipes for the trail, including a lot of freezer bag meals. For the uninitiated, FBC (Freezer Bag CookingTM) involves putting a cup of boiling water into a freezer bag of prepared food, squishing it up to mix and waiting a little while for it to 'cook', and then consuming it straight from the bag! Excellent! Now I have a simple, efficient way of cooking with no cleanup, and minor waste to take out with me.
Some of my favourites:
I take particular exception to bottled water in general (please see the film Flow), and I shudder to think about the waste produced by the regular 'burner' in terms of plastic bottles. I took in my lovely Sigg bottle, a hydration pack, and about 9 gallons of water in trusty, collapsible Reliance Fold-A-Carriers. (BPA free!)
While I was there, I also caught up with some of the crew from the Vegan Camp, which was good fun.
Again, some of the bog standard (and some fairly ugly) faux leather shoes. Meh. Some cool Bourgeois Boheme casuals, and some funky Macbeths, but nothing that quite fit the bill, at least not in my size.
From the top shelf, some Ethletic sneakers had been peering at me the whole time. They are designed very much in the classic Chuck Taylor high-top style, save for some noticeable differences:
Oops... and I just figured out Converse is owned by the sweatshop-troubled Nike empire... It will definitely be Ethletics from here on in!
I normally breeze past the 'Food/Openings' section of NY mag, but somehow this week I looked, and the words 'Japanese' and 'vegetarian' caught my eye. Woah... what was that? "In the Shojin, or Japanese vegetarian kaiseki tradition, devised centuries ago by Buddhist monks..." By this point I had stopped reading and was running around in circles looking for my phone.
I immediately made a booking for the missus and I, and a couple of friends. Friend #1 is Japanese, from Kyoto, and if you've ever been to Kyoto, you'll know the best food on the planet is to be found here. Delectable, refined, pure and infused with artisanship. Friend #2 is a reject from a torturous vegetarian upbringing. When I've dragged him to vegetarian restaurants before, he will stand in the doorway smelling the air, seeking out the 'health food odor' he so detests (yes you know the one) deciding whether or not he dare venture further. Two greater critics could not have been chosen to attend the opening of this new fine dining establishment!
The restaurant is beautifully decorated in minimal Japanese style, with heavyset tables and a counter made from solid blocks of zelkova wood, offering a gentle, soothing fragrance. The walls are treated with what seems to be a combination of sands, clays and other organic matters, apparently changing in color as it matures. The staff were calm, friendly and courteous. Already the stresses of my week had been politely asked to wait outside.
The menu offers two set courses, and reading through it only serves to tantalize you as to what is yet to come. Naturally a selection of fine sakes and wines offers accompaniment for your meal.
The meal itself? A taste sensation. No, in fact, it was the full sensory journey that only the Japanese can execute so flawlessly. The fragrances and smells invite you towards each bite, delicate, complex and intriguing. The presentation, exquisite. Each course a display of pure craftsmanship, expertly packaged and assembled to guide you through the meal at a pace guaranteed to maximize your enjoyment. The textures all expertly combined with the flavors to produce a seemingly limitless palette of tastes in this masterpiece. The only time I have eaten this well was in a particularly expensive Kyoto ryokan. This is the real deal!
I was in vegan heaven the whole time. Emitting uncontrollable 'mm-mm's as my eyes rolled about in ecstasy. All of us, shaking our heads not quite able to believe what our tongues were telling us. By the time I got to the roasted artichoke with grated apple and celery root in the third course I was purring like a cat. The zaru soba (made fresh in house daily) was unadulterated joy. And as I bit into the most sublime piece of tempura cauliflower in the fifth course, I shed a tear - I kid you not. Particular interest points in the menu include the grilled nama-fu, yuba in wasabi soy, burdock root and miso paste grilled onto a cedar paddle. Joy, total and complete.
The service was superb, polite and informative. Attentive yet non-invasive, and most importantly, no clearling of plates until all guests were done - an annoyingly rude trait all too common in New York restaurants and over-eager busboys. An overall refined dining experience.
Candle 79, Hangawi and Blossom are now accompanied by a new high-end vegan eatery in New York city. Kajitsu has raised the bar to a new high, again showing that vegan food is far from bland. Critics #1 and #2 enjoyed it beyond measure. I'm glad. I plan to go often.
Kajitsu - 414 E9th St (near 1st Ave) 212 228 4873
I work in the financial district in New York, which is a desolate place when you're a vegan. I usually take leftovers for lunch, but on the off days I rotate between Chipotle, salad or curry. Kind of sick of them all. A colleague told me of a vegan health food restaurant on Broadway nearby. Hurray! It's a quirky little place in the basement of 120 Broadway called Little Lad's Basket. Take away is measured by the pound, or if you eat in, a plate and bowl (stack to your heart's content!) is under 6 bucks! The first time I went I had to grab take away and run back to the office. Today I wanted to avoid the landfill, so decided to eat in. Unfortunately, this entails Styrofoam plates and bowls, and plastic cutlery. Negative points there, Little Lad!
The food however, is pretty good. It's very home-style, old-school, health food kind of vegetarian. But I think it's predominantly organic, and it tastes better than it looks :) Simple, homely, comfort food. And filling. I think it may be run by the church over the road (or maybe another nearby church), it has a nice air, and all the staff are very friendly and very much into what they are doing. I get a kick out of it when other religions also promote compassion for our furry/scaly/other brethren.
Propaganda informational videos and pamphlets also promise to rid you of cancer if you eat a vegan diet. Solid!
Today was frikkin' weird though. I'm sitting there chowing down in a vegan restaurant, and a woman sits down next to me... in a FUR COAT! WHAT - THE - FUCK!? Full length, and broad enough to house a full-bodied woman. Or a fat, heartless wench, take your pick. Very strange. Perhaps if I should tell her fur coats cause cancer and she'd get rid of it. No idea what the hell is up with rancid fur this season.
While walking around this evening, I saw an ad for some vegan fair from Fresh Direct, using the good ol' seitan/satan pun. Nice one!
I also made chocolate pudding tonight. I adapted from the Vegan With a Vengeance recipe, using agave syrup instead of sugar. I also used Green & Blacks cocoa powder, which maybe a little strong. Regular sugar probably would've offset the bitterness of the cocoa better than agave.
It wasn't particularly sweet. Which at first was a little disappointing. But I enjoyed it more the more I ate it - I can't eat much of sweet stuff. So all in all, not a bad first attempt. But I really need to figure out how Candle Cafe make their orgasmic chocolate mouse! :oP~~
I should have presented it a little better but I was hungry!
I'm too time-poor (okay disorganized) to make seitan the traditional way, so I followed the shortcut steps to make seitan from Vegan With A Vengeance using wheat gluten. One you have your seitan at hand, Candle Cafe's recipe for Seitan Piccata is actually very straightforward and quick to make, and easily one of the most delish things you can make. If you don't live in NY, and thus can't visit Candle 79 at a whim, get these books!
Last year (oh so long ago!) I bought one of my friends the Veganomicon cookbook as a gift. I don't have it myself, but I do have the excellent Vegan With a Vengeance also by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. My friend gave me directions on how to cook one of her favourite recipes from Veganomicon - Chickpea Cutlets.
I've always been keen to try making seitan myself, but haven't committed to it since the recipe I have is completely from scratch, and quite time consuming. This recipe uses pre-packaged vital wheat gluten and is a quick recipe to make - probably 15 minutes prep before cooking.
I thought I'd try it out for my first breakfast of 2009. Yum! Delicious, especially with some jalapeño ketchup! The texture is nice and chewy, and makes for a hearty meal. A little drier and firmer than regular seitan, either that's by design, or I was a little heavy-handed with the chickpeas. An easy recipe that will impress your friends!
[Updates about some problems with the light at the end]
I thought I'd write a quick entry about my trusty Planet Bike lights, since they saved my ass twice tonight. Although bike lights are vitally important, they often seem rather ineffective. Car lights are much brighter, and in the city, there is a lot of ambient lighting, some of it flashing, meaning bike lights sometimes don't register with motorists and pedestrians until just before the moment of tragedy.
The Planet Bike Superflash tail light was the first product of theirs I bought. Bloody brilliant. This light is impossible to miss. It has two bright LEDs that flash rapidly, and then an astoundingly bright LED that flashes less frequently, making for a dazzling discotheque, proudly asserting your presence on the road. I bought this with the CatEye Opticube - a respectable (and slim) head light.
Chuffed as I was with my lighting rig, riding home one night I encountered a solar flare approaching me from the other direction. Holy shit, is that a motorcyclist on the path? A stray comet!? No! It was a cyclist with a bike light! I saw him the following night again. That light! So obnoxious, so brilliantly bright! I headed into Sid's bikes on 19th and asked about this super bloody bright bike light I had seen. They kindly directed me to the Planet Bike Blaze, and the Blaze 1W (one Watt!!).
Holy cow... is that mother bright! Like the Superflash, it has a rapidly pulsing bright light before blasting your eyes out the back of your head with a laser beam every fourth flash or so. You can also just turn it on. Bright. Unbelievably bright. And that's only on the half setting, click the button again, and you have thermonuclear bright. According to the manufacturer, you can see it a mile away, but I'd be pretty surprised if you couldn't see it from the moon, possibly even from the dark side. Trust me, if you haven't seen one of these, your bike light is like riding around with a candle compared to this thing. At the time, my Opticube was about the brightest thing I'd seen, but I can look into this thing without causing eye damage... the Blaze? Even on half setting, you'll be seeing colors for a minute if you stare into it. In defense, it is possible my Opticube's batteries are running down... [brief interlude] yes a little, but even after swapping the batteries around, I have a big purple blob in the middle of my field of vision from looking into the Blaze. There is something about the reflector and lens in this thing that is so effective.
While I was recently back in Oz visiting family, I took my bike lights with me for night cycling. I clip the Superflash onto my Chrome bag, so no problems there. The Blaze, however, has an absolutely brilliant mounting system. Very quick to adjust, easily removed, and consequently very easy to transfer to any other bike. There is a snap-style adjustment for course tightening, and then the clasp allows you to screw in to tighten it right up. The clasp then clicks in beautifully to marry your Blaze to your handlebars with no possibility of divorce. You don't even need any tools - possibly a key to help if you need to loosen the snappy bit, but you probably won't need to. The design of this thing is head and shoulders above any light I've seen. I love it. Especially compared to the finger bleeding procedure involved in getting the fucking Opticube onboard. Arsehole thing.
Borrowing my brothers rather cool Giant XTC, I noticed he had some pissweak Guppy lights, or something similar. In the interests of keeping him alive, I donated my Blaze and Superflash to him. So on returning home, I bought another Blaze, and the Superflash Stealth. Wow, possibly even cooler than the regular Superflash! Maybe even brighter!
I keep the Opticube, since it's by no means a slouch, and use it in conjunction with the Blaze, setting one to 'on' and the other to flashing. I feel this is the best of both worlds. So anyway, riding home tonight, in the cold, dark winter evening, some impatient dickface driver was about to swerve around a slower vehicle before BLAMMO! Take some of that Blaze in your faze, sucker! Later, riding down 18th, a bus, blocked by a cab, was about to pull out in front of me when it slammed on the brakes. The Blaze had saved my ass again, as the bus driver quite obviously saw me and my truck light coming, or possibly went into seizure, and slumped over the wheel. Doesn't matter... drivers can see me now, I'm no longer drowned out by bright car lights and ambient city lighting noise.
Oh yeah, and remember Planet Bike donate 25% of their profits to bike advocacy... that gets my vote!
[update Jan 2010] - As much as I do like the light, I have to concede that I have had issues with the mount. The clip that holds the light into the bracket is not secure. The light sits unbalanced on the bracket, and hitting rough patches (say cobblestones) can rattle the light out of the bracket. Mine has ejected itself numerous times, causing some impact damage to the light, and eventually cracking the plastic base that holds it into the bracket, making it worse and even more likely to jump out. It is now held together by electrical tape. Hopefully Planet Bike will redesign the mount. If you are on smooth roads, it's a great light, if you hit rough patches, this light is not for you.
In the mean time, I have ordered a pretty kick ass looking Cygolite MiliOn USB - bright, light, and USB rechargeable! ...Still awaiting delivery.
I've been meaning to post this for ages... but between visiting relatives, mortal MTB injuries, and general crazy shit happening in my life, it hasn't happened.
So a couple of months back, as fall was approaching, I decided to actually get a fall coat, since I only really have bulky winter coats. A trip to Barney's Co-op revealed many nice coats, but naturally many are made with wool.
Surface to Air had some pretty cool jackets, including this bomber made from a waxed canvas.
The coat I settled on however was a rather smashing Chinook cotton moleskin coat.
You can see some of their other coats here.
It's vegan mofo... no, before you get all uppity about my language, this isn't about some film starring Samuel L. Jackson as some animal rights vigilante bad-ass, it's vegan MOnth of FOod! Orright? Anyway, I haven't written anything! Something quick, something easy... Pizza! Is there anyone who doesn't love it? No! Put delicious thingies on a hot bready base, and... mmmmmmm. Vegan pizzas usually raise an eyebrow or two, naturally, since pizzas these days seem to be all about cheese. Anyway, you can use soy/rice/liquefied tire cheese if you want to... but I like my pizzas without.
So today, I write about my "Vegan Mo'Fo' Pizza"... you read that right, suckers, mofo does not mean month of food this time.
When I was a kid, my favourite pizza was pepperoni pizza. With extra pepperoni. And extra onion. And double anchovies. Yep, I'd smell for a good 24 hours after one of those, slowly excreting fishy, salty, onion-flavoured sausage juice from my pores. Yech. But to me pizza is all about FLAVOR COUNTRY. My better half likes minimal pizzas, where the ingredients make their own statement. Not me - pile it on, I say! Less is more? No... MORE IS MORE! If you would like to visit flavor country too, I recommend at least one, or preferably ALL of the following:
Here's the story in pictures.
Pita bread. Add tomato paste.
Basil paste! The secret foundation of the flavor country landscape. Make sure you get basil paste, and not pesto, which often contains cheese.
Red onion, peppers (capsicum!), jalapeños.
Portabello mushroom, eggplant (aubergine!), diced zucchini (courgette!), or whatever's in the fridge...
Now for the good stuff!
Then GOOD olive oil. How much? You can never have too much olive oil!
Cook for twenty minutes, then gobble to your greedy little heart's content! Okay, so my pizza wouldn't have won any beauty awards - it's not meant to - it's a taste MONSTER! And yes, piling this much stuff on without cementing it in place with cheese inevitably results in some fallout. To me, it's part of the challenge. It wouldn't be as fun any other way. Pizza is an easy way to use up the decaying vegetable matter in your fridge, without needing any strict ingredients to make a recipe.
Cripes... those jalapeños where hot! Better chase it down with some Turtle Mountain coconut milk ice-cream.
The following week, when left home alone, I was excited to make a much better pizza, since I now had some Tofurky Italian Style Sausage in the fridge... Yummy! I made the pizza and was halfway cooking the thing when I realized I totally forgot to put the damn sausage on!
No worries, i chopped some up, bunged it on the stove for a bit....
Flavor. Country. Mm, with asparagus!
Mofurky. Bloody yum-bo.
Vegans are a minority group, and as such, are a target for ridicule and insults (funny, unjustified, or otherwise). I get it a lot at work. I'm not a witty person, nor funny, and have very little in way of zinging powers. One of my favourite Seinfeld episodes is "The Comeback", where George Constanza burns up because he is ridiculed at work when stuffing his face: "Hey George, the ocean called; they're running out of shrimp." There is nothing worse than, like George, coming back with a real zinger hours after being insulted, when it's too late! I thought it would be handy to have a little bag of quips. If you have some better than my lame efforts, please share!
"Don't hate me because I'm better than you."
"Hey, I'm just trying to save the world for your fat, lazy kids."
"Wait, so now it's cool to hate the environment!? Why didn't someone tell me sooner!?"
"I suppose you hate Jews and gays too?"
If all else fails, fall back on Kramer's line:
"Yeah? Well, I had sex with your wife!"
Once upon a time, way back in the 90's, I had a pair of Dr Marten's 10 hole steel cap boots. And what marvelous boots they were. They saw me through thick and thin. I wore them to uni, wore them out, and wore them through my career stocking supermarket shelves through the night. They looked the biz, and I loved 'em. After probably a good eight abuse-filled years of faithful service, they finally got retired to the back yard as flowerpots. Having an upcoming vacation to London, I thought there could be no better place to buy my replacement bovver boots. I bought a new pair - 10 holes, steel caps - same size as my old pair. But I noticed they were now 'fashion' boots according to the label, no longer meeting the ANSI standards guaranteeing that you could safely stand in 500 degree steaming hydrochloric acid while a truck drives back and forth repeatedly over your caps. Sadly, this was era where Dr Marten's had outsourced their shoe making to remain competitive, no longer made in England, which also saw the discontinuation of their vegetarian shoe line. These boots were uncomfortable, the sole split numerous times... these were nothing of my old boots. Boo hoo....
So you could say I've been searching for a decent replacement ever since. Earlier this year, I went and tried on some of the Palladium 'Baggy' boots. Not bad, they where okay, but lacked of attitude. Perhaps I'll get them when I need some boots to match my pyjamas...
My search ironically came about after the death of another pair of shoes - my Adidas 'Chile's - which I used to commute to and from work in. A suitable vegan replacement was heralded in the Adbusters Blackspot sneaker. Ironically, this was all happening around the time my girlfriend's brother was trying to get us to buy some Nike Air Jordan six rings, or something. As you probably know, some poor exploited villager subsists on a couple of bucks a week for slaving away in a toxic Nike factory while fat-ass CEO's get fatter and Tiger Woods gets paid a jillion dollars for poncing about in a fucking Nike hat.... FUCK THAT SHIT!! Nike have been cited numerous times for turning a blind eye to deplorable human rights issues, and continue to do so!
Deep breath... okay.. where were we? Shoes... so they stock 'em at Moo Shoes. Ripper! So off I pedal. The sneakers were out of stock, but on the shelf, right next to them, the V2 'Unswooshers' sneer at me with a suitable amount of punky angst. Trying them on reveals that finally, I have found a vegan boot worthy of being worn, worn with pride, and worn with some kick yo ass attitude! Fuk yeh...
The boots sport the anti-logo, and the hand-painted red sweet spot, for kicking corporate brand sluts square in the coit. Completely vegan, bio-degradable, made in a union-shop, and designed by bootmeister extraordinaire - John Fluevog!
Buying a pair of Blackspots sees you with a shareholder certificate, designed to let you participate in future Blackspot enterprises. There is also a little booklet detailing just how we lost our community generated culture to the new culture spoon fed to us by the controllers behind the mega brands. The Blackspot 'brand' is open-source - meaning anyone is free to participate and contribute. Make your own Blackspots by blotting out the logo on them, and paint the red spot if you like!
If you plan to buy online, I found the size generous enough. I about an 8.5 U.S. with my shoes ranging from size 8 to 9. The size 8 unswooshers fit me pretty well.
So it's become apparent to me, that two types of people use toilets - shitters and sitters.
It's amazing how often I walk into a dead quiet bathroom, have no option but to use the cubicle next to someone else (don't you hate that?), go about my biz, and leave, with nary a sound, nor movement, coming from the dude next door... Is he awake? Is he even alive? It's hard to tell. I know not everyone is a goodie goodie vegan, but holy shit, eat some damned fibre Mr. Poopie-a-no-go!
Several weeks back, when in Miami Beach, tropical storm Fay left little to do outside. Lo and behold, we ended up in Barney's Co-op, where I got another Loomstate organic cotton t-shirt. Of course, when trying on shirts, you need to see how they look with some funky new jeans. That's probably how I also ended up leaving with the Rogan "Puck" grey classic-fit, straight-leg jeans. I learn now, Rogan is one half of the Loomstate visionaries.
You can stay in the loop with Loomstate and Rogan through their ¡ActNatural! blog.
The Ride. If you ride a bike, get yourself a copy of this.
Why The Ride is cool:
So get your grubby, greasy hands on one!
Well, David Byrne's fabulous Playing the Building exhibit has now closed. Here's a vid I snapped of the installation.
The exhibit uses an old pipe organ rigged up to the old Maritime Building (next to the Staten Island Ferry) to 'play' it. Metal pipes act as giant flutes, radiators and columns are struck with solenoids like a giant, mutant metalophone, and old window motors growl like some awkward contrabassoon.
Anyway, I grabbed one of the cool posters detailing the exhibit. The front of the poster has a great photo of the installation, and the rear of the poster details the workings of the piece, with an interview with David Byrne. Now, how on earth am I meant to frame this and be able to enjoy the rear when I want to? I need a double sided picture frame!
You can buy some double sided frames off the shelf, but not for the size of this poster (36" x 26"). So I had to get all Martha Stewart and build my own. Given the musique concrète nature of the piece, I thought it only fitting to go low tech, a little industrial - if you call it shabby chic I'll poke you in the eye.
Anyway, to bust out your frame, go to your local art store, or even Home Depot. Get:
I was going to cut my plexi-glass exactly to size, but given the gap of only an inch or so, I thought bollocks to that, especially since I know I would've cracked it anyway. The plexi-glass I got was about 1/10" thick, because I wanted to keep it light (and it was cheaper), but going thicker would provide a much sturdier result.
I don't need to explain it much, but...
Easy, eh? I also looped in some picture wire beneath the outermost washers so it could be hung, and flipped around. After realizing I don't have a ladder, and no way of hanging the bastard high enough, my superiorly intelligent girlfriend said "Why don't you just drill a hole to hang it?" After thirty seconds of making argumentative ape noises, I finally understood what she meant. So option two for hanging it is to drill hole dead center in the top. Brill-o.
Here's some piccos.
Metal bracket screwed into plexi-glass sandwich, and super-fancy finishing washer
The rear, with hi-tec hanging wire technology.
Ta-da... finished product
The backside. Or I can say "fanny" since I live in America now...
Voilà! Perfect studio artwork.
Although not a new release, I only recently acquired this album from Psy-Harmonics. As the popularity of ambient musics ebbs and flows as it reinvents itself from time to time, this release, along with White Noise Carousel's brilliant Iaminthedirectory, clearly marks its latest reincarnation. A beautiful and inspiring journey, I thought I'd include my discogs review here.
Art Imitating Life represents more than just sublime listening enjoyment, it is an involving sensory journey. Perhaps reminiscent of certain points in your life - a warm embrace from your mother as a child, a cool summer night on the beach with the waves lapping at your feet, or maybe just the first time you dropped acid - the personal and somewhat vulnerable content of the lyrics and spoken word feel like those few moments where you were able to relinquish everything, and just feel wonder at all the world around you. Add to this an element of the surreal, self-aware nature of a Charlie Kaufman script (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and you start to wonder if you're part of the production yourself.
The music is suitably engulfing - pads and pianos drenched in velvet reverbs as deep as the ocean, slippy, down-tempo, Gabrielesqe rhythms - the divine ambiance created in this masterpiece liberates your mind as you follow Steve Kilbey's hypnotic voice, never rushing you forward or holding you back.
A distinctive and unique release, it's apparent Art Imitating Life was created with the utmost care and love to define a beautiful and awe inspiring musical soundscape.
If you don't have it, you need to add this darling to your collection now.
Trentemøller, maestrø of electrø... his gracing this planet is like the secønd cøming øf Buddha! I pay hømage by crøssing all my 'øh's. In fact, frøm nøw øn, I want yøu tø call me Trøy, ør Hardcøder. Shit, løøk at all thøse zerøz øn my backgrøund I need tø change... Anyway, enjøy this interview:
Bløødy legend, he even uses RØDE mics tøø (with a real with Ø, I didn't have tø add that øne in...) it's a K2 in the interview!
I often find it a little saddening the way the homeless are considered. People will walk by a guy sitting on the pavement in raggedy clothes, probably has missing teeth, asking them for some change. We sneer, we turn our nose up. We could never be like that! I would go get cleaned up and get a job! Oh really? It's that easy? Next time ask yourself this - if I were born to his parents, if I was brought up as he was, if I had his level of education, and his lack of health care, would I really just go get a job? Could I really just pick myself up like that?
People think the I they identify with is their true self. It's not. It's part of the movie show that you are watching. It's just that you have only ever seen one movie. Lucky for you if it's the one with a nice family, good school and rewarding job, and not the one with abusive parents or a broken home or no money for school. The fact is, if you walk by, with your health, with your wealth, and your smarts, and can't do a thing for him, how on Earth can he help himself with none of those things? If you were him, maybe you'd have less teeth! Maybe you'd be even more drunk!
Today a guy asked me for money for a drink. I generally avoid giving money, since I don't want it to go to waste on fueling a drug addiction, or even a terrible, malnourished McMeal of some sort! So I said I'd buy him a drink. He leveled with me and said he was actually trying to get some food. So I told him my treat, lunch is on me (it's 4 pm). So I walked down the street with him, shooting the breeze, and you know what I really like about the homeless? They have fucking manners! "Thank you very much for buying me lunch." And he really meant it. True sincerity. Most of the other entitled assholes in this city are upset if you don't clear the sidewalk for them. Anyway, we get to a decent looking diner. The guys protests - "it's too expensive, I think there's a McDonald's around the corner". And they're humble! Poor guy is so shot down he is not worthy of a five dollar sandwich? He deserves better than McDonalds, that's for damn sure! The diner doesn't do take out, so we go inside, and I ask for a table for my friend, order his food and ask to pay for him. You can see the level of discomfort on the staff faces, standing around like malfunctioning dinerdroids on the fritz. Like the world will fall apart? Maintaining appearances is more important than helping a person in need? Just so you know, he wasn't particularly disheveled, he was clean, not smelly or abusive, he just wasn't like us - just a poor man who wants a sandwich and a drink, with no idea when he'll be able to eat next. But they seated him, I went to pay. I gave the waitress a generous tip, and asked her to look after my friend. With a big smile, I looked at her genuinely, no pride, no shame, no pretension, no judgment, one human spirit to another. She stopped for a breif moment, understood, relaxed, and then smiled back. Again genuinely, perhaps even buoyantly.
In our 'me' driven society, we always forget about compassion. Remember compassion, and remember what you really are, and what you aren't. There is very little difference between you and the homeless guy. You just rented a better movie! Perhaps you can even write your own movie, and write yourself in as the hero! Can you?
People talk about social change, so, change society. It can be simple, it can be small, you don't necessarily have to start up a soup kitchen (but good on you if you do!) Just give a beggar a break!
I just bought a new blender to replace my old one, which quite literally, blew up. Anyway, I'm not here to blog about kitchenwares, but cycling home with my blender proved to be a nice illustrative review of my messenger bag - the Chrome 'Metropolis'.
It took a while for me to see the advantage of a messenger bag over a back pack, but they really come into their own when ferrying large loads. A work colleague has the Chrome 'Kremlin' bag, and I decided to get one after trying it out. I tried to figure out what size would suit me and finally settled on the Metropolis. It fits about two large shopping bags worth of groceries in it. As for the blender, well it fit, just!
[for the curious, box dimensions = 23 x 32 x 39cm or 9 x 12.5 x 15.5"]
I guess I looked a bit like an ant carrying a sugar cube, but at least this ant was able to get his sugar cube back home! I'm glad I didn't go any smaller than the Metropolis and would certainly recommend it, or indeed the Kremlin. My work colleague has transported his Mac G4 in his Kremlin!
Overall the bag is excellent. Superior build quality, reflective straps, zip pockets, stabilizer strap plus lots of bike hipster bonus points. My only complaint is that the shoulder padding doesn't extend beneath the seatbelt buckle! This seems crazy - possibly validating my local bike store's assertion that all Californians are stoners - but when carrying heavy loads, the buckle can press a little uncomfortably into my bony chest.
Hurray big bags!
Pamela Anderson has touched down in Australia, and following the success of Peta's work with KFC Canada has approached KFC in Australia to take similar actions. She certainly caused quite a stir at the local KFC where she delivered her petition to change work practices, hopefully bringing a lot of positive attention to the matter.
To put the shoe on the other foot from the last post, there are indeed times you want to step out in style wearing stylish and more traditional footwear. For instance, even Chuck Taylor's perhaps wouldn't cut it for a wedding :) There are considerably more good looking, high-end vegan shoes for women. The options for men are pretty lacking. Add to that, trying to find a shoe that avoids using vinyls, or other nasty materials.
Last weekend, my girlfriend was looking at some new shoes also - the té casan collection by Natalie Portman range from cute to sexy! Plus I have to say the service at té casan was great - polite and attentive, yet not in your face, plus free champagne! Afterwards, we went to have a look at Stella McCartney where we got rude and snooty service! Poo poo to you, Stella! Hurray for Natalie!
Part of a resident office vegan's duties includes making subtle political statements. Take for instance, the matter of shoes. Since the most common office shoe is the standard black, leather variety, many vegies probably opt for the faux leather shoes that are available. Many are cheap, many are certainly ugly, but beyond this, if I'm a vegan, why would I want to look like a
murderer meat eater/leather fetishist? I personally go for a lot of canvas shoes, including my 'office shoes' - my black Converse Chuck Taylors - timeless, classic, cool. And much more comfortable.
Could the Tenth Doctor (obviously a compassionate vegan) be my secret inspiration?
Also see KFC Canada Gives In - PETA
My bestest pal Sheldon, back in Toronto, just sent me this link... I am totally blown away!
During the time I lived in Canada, PETA had a pretty fierce campaign against KFC for its abhorrent treatment of factory chickens. I remember having stickers declaring the URL http://kentuckyfriedcruelty.com if I remember correctly. (Yep, the URL still exists, but now aimed at the U.S. market)
Anyway, I can't claim to be a KFC sympathizer, not just for crimes against animals, but crimes against gastronomy. I remember the period before my girlfriend became veg:
Her: I want some KFC!
Me: I don't think so. You know what happened last time.
Her: But I want, I want, I WAAANT!!!
10 minutes later....
Her: *moannnnn* my stomach!
Me: Told you so!
It's a drug, and a bad drug! Thankfully it all ended - with a nightmare she had about our little Jack Russel terrier being roasted like a rotisserie chicken!
Anyway, can this move by KFC be truly altruistic? Is it just a mitigating move against cranky vegan assholes? Is it a lagging step into the 21st century by offering token veggie options? (Think rancid McVeggie burgers...) Is peak oil just proving too expensive for chook transport? Ranting aside, at least this is another positive step providing greater exposure to the vegetarian cause, and perhaps lowering the bar to the 'veg curious'.
This is a huge win for the great work and tireless efforts of PETA, saving the inhumane slaughter of god knows how many thousands of chickens every year, and pushing vegetarianism further into the public realm. Sign the petition at http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/canada_kfc_victory until KFC in your country adopts these practices.
Once my gf finds out about this new KFVC, I hope I don't have to watch her suffer through any Kentucky Fried gastrointestinal distress!
Alright, finally down to business... a post about bikes!
An inconspicuous but valuable part of the Dahon MU SL set up is the little magnet that keeps the frame folded when being carried. However thanks to the fast but firm ride offered by the high pressure Schwalbe tires and lightweight Kinetix Pro rims, that little magnet can rattle a bit on rougher terrain. This can rankle a little or a lot, but the worst case is when you are cruising by impressed onlookers, showing off your sweet ride, only to hit a rough patch and sound like a dissident shopping trolley in a gravel patch. It must be silenced!
So first off, nick one of the missus' hair bands (or your own...)
Then push the magnet in, against the spring, lift up the washer on the reverse side, and slip the hair band beneath it.
Release the magnet, and pull the washer up on the magnet side, beneath the spring. Loop the hairband under this washer.
And now you're done! No doubt a more professional (and probably permanent!) solution would be to use rubber washers... but eh.
Now jump back on yer bike, and zoom past those slack-jawed tourists as they witness a slick, silver blur purr sexily past them.
So the other week, I bought myself a new Loomstate shirt from Barney's. Apart from the fact it's organic cotton, the coolest thing about it is it says 'Haul Ass'. Well 'Holas'.
I also just washed my Loomstate jeans as directed on the tag by cleaning them "with a little shampoo while wearing them in the shower" (!) It worked a treat, they look a little snappier, kept good colour, and most importantly, feel cleaner :) The result is better than dry cleaning (from past experience) and again is more environmentally friendly! :)
Skeptical of my little output experiment, today as we spent a rainy New York Sunday lunching at one of our favorite restaurants (Penang Chinatown, NYC), my girlfriend semi-sarcastically asked me "so are you going to blog output this place?".
"No," I replied, "it's not vegan."
True enough, but apart from having the best Malaysian food this side of Taiping, one thing we love about this place is no disposable chopsticks! Brilliant! In our wasteful, modern existence, this is like a breathe of fresh, bamboo-filtered air. I know I don't have to bring my own chopsticks to this place.
It also baffles me why disposable chopsticks are still so prevalent. You wouldn't accept disposable cutlery at even a semi-decent western style restaurant, yet we do at even moderately high-end Asian eateries? Maybe this is just par for the course in a city where you are given a plastic bag for your damp umbrella, so that the water (giver of life) can't melt your skin off... or something like that.
So, remember to BYOS (bring ya own sticks!) or give your local a hard time if they give you disposable cutlery. Failing that, head down to Penang Chinatown, get the Sayor Lodeh, Vegetarian Duck (tofu skin) and an absolutely divine Pulut Hitam, and before waddling home, give 'em a thumbs up for (chop) sticking up for the environment!
Sincere apologies for terrible puns! :[
Jaime is my friend, but also a bastard. After telling him one day that I don't read blogs, he replied "So you hate knowledge?" Oh hardy har... bastard. Not reading blogs means I hate knowledge? No! It means I hate bullshit!!
Admittedly, my aversion to blogs is a knee jerk reaction of my experiences growing up with the web in the 90s, and all the retarded web pages with animated gifs, favourite links and basically HEY LOOK AT ME MUM I'M ON TELLY kind of amazement that I'm broadcasting to millions and millions of viewers. But Jaime also lent me a book - Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. I'm still reading it, but it's very interesting, very very interesting in fact. The book is about how modern communication technologies are revolutionizing human social interaction - how people can now form their own social revolutions without operational overheads, how people can share ideas with like-minded individuals, how the internet affects publishing of media in today's age. Anyway, I'm still reading it and I'm doing a shit job of describing it, so I will quote:
...Who would want to be a publisher with only a dozen readers? It's also easy to see why the audience for most most user-generated content is so small, filled as it is with narrow, spelling-challenged observations about going to the mall and picking out clothes for Dixon. And it's easy to deride this sort of thing as self-absorbed publishing - why would anyone put such drivel ou in public?
It's simple. They're not talking to you.
Well, indeed! So needless to say, this book is changing my opinions about blogging and information sharing. I'm admittedly "old fashioned" (i.e. young 30s) and think things like facebook and myspace are stupid and believe in 'real' encounters with people (yes I'm on facebook *sigh*). But maybe Mr Shirky has a point. Maybe somebody does want to read my drivel. And if not, I'm not talking to you, and I will force feed my drivel/knowledge to Jaime in this most heinous of experiments - the output of my brain.
About me? I am an Australian (what that means I don't know) living in New York City working in IT. This is definitely boring and most certainly drivel. However I cycle to work almost everyday on a folding Dahon MU SL, am actively vegan, try to have some spiritual aspect to my life and love fucked up electronic music. So perhaps some of this is potentially less drivelsome, and maybe even of interest to possibly three or four people! Maybe the experience of me purchasing a pair of vegan shoes will be of benefit to somebody else! Although I highly doubt it. Hence begins the experiment.
The spelling challenged nature of this blog is due course for an Australian having lived in Canada and the U.S. not really knowing which form of 'English' he speaketh anymore.
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