Rick Glos Life in Portland, Oregon.

Portland May Day Parade

8. May 2009 08:08 by Rick Glos in

Last Friday, May 1st 2009, I took some shots of what’s called the May Day Parade here in Portland.

Check out the ‘tall’ bikes below and riding with your stereo in the bike trailer.

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Earlier in the day I got an email from work saying basically here is the parade route.  I naively thought, “oh cool a parade – with floats and marching bands!”  A little googling and it turns out it’s not a parade but a protest march.

Heidi and I usually have a standing date on Fridays where she comes downtown and we pick some bar for a couple happy hour drinks and food.  (Happy Hour here in Portland is quite the establishment for you out-of-towners).  So I warned her that the roads might be clogged.

She luckily got down right before the thing started.

Does your town have 8 bicycle cops ready to go in a moments notice?

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Horse butts.  They are magnificent animals and so calm and well trained.

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Interesting stuff.

Bear Springs Trap MTB Race 2009

1. May 2009 07:29 by Rick Glos in

So this past weekend I had plans to race the Bear Springs Trap MTB race on Sunday but instead I was sitting on the couch nursing my thrashed legs.

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I was totally unprepared and underestimated the weather.  The course is 70 miles away from Portland on the east side of Mt. Hood.  When I got there it was snowing!  36 degrees is what the temperature in the truck said.

I tried to take a shot of the falling snowflakes next to my truck.  The flash kind of causes some white out on the bike leaned up against the truck but I think you can see the snow fall.

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Luckily I had tossed some booties, tights, jacket and some gloves just in case of rain but I wasn’t expecting snow.

It took me about 2 hours to get there.  The cat 2 course was 18 miles so I thought I would pre-ride it to get an idea of the course.  This is a very common thing to do back in the Midwest.  Apparently not here and I was to find out why, 3 hours and 45 minutes later!

I’d say a good 1/3 of the course still had snow on it.  The first 4 miles was brutal because there were awesome sections of single track, with patches of snow mixed in here and there that you had to walk/run.  Within the first quarter mile the snow had caused the bottom of my booties to crack and so they would slide over the top of my shoe.  My feet were cold and soaked and throughout the ride I kept having to stop and pull the boot down over my toes for warmth.

When I left Portland it was 50 degrees.  It amazing that you can drive 1 hour and be in a totally different world.  The snow on the drive there should’ve been an indication of what to expect.  There were people driving the same direction to go skiing still!  Don’t they know it’s the end of April!

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I rode the first 4 miles in an hour.  Granted I was riding with a beginner and stopping to talk to him every so often but still that’s a long time for a measly 4 miles.

With a 2 hour ride back home (total of 4 hours in the truck), I felt I should at least checkout the rest of the course.

Luckily the back half of the course had no snow.  It was technical.  And beautiful.  Shale rocks.  Looping corners.  Stream crossings where you had to get off your bike and walk a 12 foot long log that was 4 inches wide, one slip and kaploosh – into the ice cold water.  Riding along the Camas trail which basically meant it was alongside this mountain stream/river rushing by was awesome.  At times you couldn’t see it but only hear the rush of the water.  About two hours in, the sun had come out through the trees.  There were these strange big flowers coming up right through the crystal clear water.  I kept thinking how lucky I was to be able to ride this.  I could tell that since the course was still being marked, I was the first person all year to be riding some of these sections of the course.  The pine cones were crunching under my tires and some parts of the single-track were hard to make out with the combination of rock gardens and leaves and pine cones.

I can only say that I must’ve been on some kind of mountain bike riding high.  The Garmin said 2 hours 30 minutes into it, and I thought to myself that perhaps I should stop and find my way back (the course was still being marked and at times I thought I might be dead if I get lost out here…) so I would be ok for tomorrow.

But I got to that point where I was like, ”I’m finishing this no matter what now!”  It was like a challenge.

My feet got hot and warmed up (to which my wife would later say, “um that means signs of hypothermia dummy“).  So the later part of the course was more bearable when it returned to having patches of snow.  Then there was a brutal switchback climb.  I had to walk most of it.

My mind started playing tricks.  I would hear trees creak in the wind and think, “Is that a mountain lion?  Did I just see bear scat?  Am I going to get eaten by a bear out here?”

I saw only 1 person on the later part of the course.  She had started riding it reverse.  She was a local and said it was really beautiful out there and that I should come back in June and July.  I had the course in the Garmin and you can bet your ass I was going to come back.

I was exhausted when I got back the truck.  3 hours and 45 minutes for an 18 mile ride.  I watched the final minutes of the short track race then drove to Government Camp for a beer and burger.  My legs were toast.

Sitting on the coach later that evening I made the decision not to come back the next day to ride the race.  In hindsight, I should’ve stayed at a hotel or camped nearby, packed better clothes, and set a limit on riding time not distance.

Honestly I have no regrets though.  I can’t think of better way to ride my first single-track of the season.

SSWUG – Attending a conference virtually

24. April 2009 10:45 by Rick Glos in

Over the last 3 days, I’ve been ‘attending’ the SSWUG conference from home.  SSWUG stands for Sql Server Worldwide User Group and they had 4 different ‘tracks’ during the conference – one focusing on .NET which is the one I was spending all my time in.  But that’s just to give you some context, what I really found interesting was how nice this turned out to be and how it changed some of my behaviors.

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From what I understand by watching the keynote, the idea for the conference being broadcast virtually was because last summer the price of gas had skyrocketed to over $4 a gallon.  So rather than have people get on planes, fly to the conference city, pickup rental cars, stay in hotels and eat out at restaurants, they decided to do the conference virtually.  So this was a 1st class experience, not a bolt-on experience like MIX09 or PDC where you could download or watch the sessions later and felt bad because you couldn’t be their live.

Basically, you cracked open your web browser, logged into the conference website and then watch video sessions streamed live to you over the course of 3 days for $80.  Pay a little extra and you can download the content later.

The video quality was excellent.  High def, 1280 x 720.  Audio was excellent.  So it made watching the session very nice.  If the presenter was showing code, then they used the now de facto standard of the having the presenter displayed in smaller window in the video.  The only way i could capture this is via an old school screen shot.

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I would say that this was just as good as being at the conference.  In fact in this case since the sessions had no audience, it was better because the presenter could concentrate on just presenting to you.

So what about interaction with other conference attendees?

That’s a very important aspect about attending conferences.  Networking with other folks, exchanging ideas or talking about something you just saw.

So while providing the streams, you could also idle in chat rooms (very irc-like)  specific to your session or a conference wide chat room and talk with other attendees during the session.  Afterwards, the presenter would hang around to answer questions in the chat room.

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I’m not a big twittering guy, but I also found that following the #sswugvc via TweetDeck was a great way to keep up on what was happening during the conference.  It definitely felt like ‘live’ event with all the benefits of being at home.  This was starting to make me a fan of Twitter.

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One additional thing I found myself doing is filling out the survey at the end of each session which I did not do at PDC.  At PDC, I was usually trying to figure out how to physically get from one room to the next to see the next session.  Now I had more time.  Time to read the comments, time to fill out a survey, time to download the slides during the presentation, and time to relax and enjoy the conference.

On top of all this, all the sessions are watchable on demand so you can see ones that were running at the same time you were watching another one.

This may sound like I’m trying to sell SSWUG.  I’m not.  I’m thinking that other conferences could be run in this manner with a far less impact on the environment and with decreased costs (huge order of magnitudes), far more people could attend.

Squirrel Nut Zippers

20. April 2009 19:54 by Rick Glos in

Checked out the Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Wonder Ballroom on Friday night.

One of my favorite songs was when they played a black and white cartoon on the back screen and played the music for it.  At the time I thought, “That is soo cool, he’s singing exactly the words that the characters are experiencing.”  Later I would find out that it was a video they had specially made.  Still cool though.

Afterwards it was my first stop at Montage.  A late night Portland eatery that has surprisingly really good food – seemed it had a slant towards the New Orleans cuisine.  The spicy chili mac would be my recommendation if you can handle heat.  Check out all the bikes parked out front at midnight.

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Grocery by bicycle

17. April 2009 18:08 by Rick Glos in

I was curious to know how much I had packed on this run.  34 pounds (15kg).

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Both bags were full and I weighed myself with and without the panniers (yes I’m a dork).

They say a majority of the errands you run are within a few miles of your house.  Are you using a bike?

Tesla

6. April 2009 07:38 by Rick Glos in

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I like new shit.  But I like the old shit too.  It’s cool when old shit makes new shit.

Here’s a band that never got the recognition they deserve.

I’ve seen Tesla quite a few times over the past years and I still say they are one of the best bands live you can see.  My number one pick for real bands playing real music to come out of what you might want to toss in the bucket of 80’s bands.  What you hear on the mp3/CD/record/8-track is what you hear live.  He’s got an incredible voice.  The guitarists are awesome as well and way underrated.  Many bands will tone down the guitar solo because they can’t play it live like they can in the studio when they get umpteen tries to get it right.  These guys play every lick right in front of you.

Seeing them at the Roseland in Portland reminded me of all times Ray and I would drive to Milwaukee instead of Chicago so we could see them in a small venue.

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Only this time, because it’s a school night and I’m not a young buck anymore, I didn’t chain drink beers and took a nap before I went.  I must admit part of the fun was watching all the drunks around us.

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Building a new home

6. March 2009 08:00 by Rick Glos in

I’ve been not keeping up with some of what we’ve been up to lately.  We’re building a new home.

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I know it sounds weird given the current economy but we started this process about a year ago before things starting tanking and once the plans were in motion, there really was no holding back.

We met with a builder about a year ago, then moved forward.  Why?  Well our current home was about 766 square feet.  No garage, no shed, no basement.  We told ourselves, “This will just keep us from acquiring things we don’t really need”, and mostly that worked.  It was the other inconveniences began to wear us down.  Like ...

  • Electrical issues – run the toaster oven and microwave at the same time and the fuse would blow
  • Water pressure – only one faucet at a time could run – so no taking showers and doing dishes or laundry at the same time etc
  • No HVAC – the old floorboard heaters were kaput so we were using electric room heaters
  • No insulation in the walls

Besides that it was a nice little love nest and it is incredibly close to the city with 6 different bus lines only two blocks away and right next to a little shopping area with groceries, wine shop, bakery, barber shop, etc.

So we love the location, just not the physical house itself.  We decided since the land was worth 2x as much as the house, we would demo the house and put up something we liked.

The journey has not been without frustration.

Getting permits to build with the city of Portland was an exercise in government ineptitude.  It’s also nothing short of legalized extortion in permit fees.

And dealing with the banks has been an interesting ride – as the process was going along over the summer, the rules kept changing and things were getting more difficult.  Almost to the point where we were ready to give up.

Anyway, papers were signed and construction was started at the end of November.  After a bit of snow that slowed them down, they have made some good progress.

First came the demolition – the old house was reduced to a pile of rubble in just 1 1/2 days.

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Next came excavation, it was definitely muddy.

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The solution to that was to try and cover ground to dry it up abit so they could start on the foundation.

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The weather dried up and they started moving really fast.  Next came the forms.

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Then footings were poured.

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Then more forms for foundation walls (or whatever it’s called as I really have no clue about this stuff).

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Next the framing began, first with the unfinished walk out basement.

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You can start to see the garage take shape on the right.

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Then the main floor.

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Followed by the second floor.

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When I stopped by earlier this week they were taking delivery of the trusses and said the roof would be going on end of the week.

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It’s amazing how fast they are moving.

More to come.

Bike Porn – Project Number 2

12. February 2009 23:21 by Rick Glos in

After having finished project number 1, it was time to look to project number 2, overhauling my grocery-getter-commuter-small-chain-ring bike.

Here’s what it looked like when I bought it back in June of 2007.  It’s a Cannondale Fat Boy.

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My two big complaints were the integrated front shock and lack of tire clearance.  I originally thought I’d would use the shock because of the round trip 40 mile commute I had from SW Portland to N Vancouver went through some fairly beat up streets.  Problem is the front shock needed to be filled with air every month and I never ended up using it but kept it locked out all the time anyway so it turned out to be a pain.

My tires of choice for commuting are these babies, Schwalbe Marathon Plus

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They are touring tires and I have yet to get a flat on them on any of my commuters and they didn’t fit on my frame so… goodbye and hello to this (you can see the white walls of the Schwalbes).

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All my components switched over to a Kona steel 29er frame.  Rigid, durable, plenty of clearance and able to load up my panniers (you can’t go wrong with Ortliebs) with groceries from gallons of milk to cartons of eggs.  I’ve not talked much about gear and setup for bicycle commuting on this blog – maybe someday – but what I can tell you is that you cannot go wrong with disc brakes for commuting/errand running.  Consistent braking power even in rain, plus no wear and tear on your rims from V-brakes and the black grime you get all over your hands and your bike from V-brake pads.  Never again.

Nice thing about Sellwood as they have my the old Cannondale frame on consignment so whatever it gets sold for I can use the cash for new chains, overhauls, etc…  I have to commend them on a nice job poaching all my old components and putting them on the new frame and they were more than happy to do it.

Which led to my project number 3…

She can be dramatic

4. February 2009 09:03 by Rick Glos in

Weather has been great.  Yesterdays ride proved how dramatic Mt. Hood can be on a nice day.

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Irony

30. January 2009 11:26 by Rick Glos in

I’m probably throwing a stone from my glass house but I couldn’t help but laugh today when I saw this sign in a parking lot out on my ride this morning.

“Good stewards of God’s Earth”

from a sign located in a small patch at the back of a parking lot

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Located in this parking lot… 

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I’m sure mother nature appreciates being paved over.