Rick Glos Life in Portland, Oregon.

Trip to Sisters Oregon

4. August 2009 06:49 by Rick Glos in

Heidi was visiting her friend Anne in Sisters Oregon this weekend so I tagged along to check out the mountain bike trails.  Sisters is near Bend Oregon which is home to a number of pro mtb and road racers.  There is alot of mtb trails in and around Bend.  I thought I would do as many as I could but in the end I focused on just one.  A fast smooth and swooping trail that starts right out of downtown Sisters and I could ride to the trailhead from out hotel room which made it convenient.

The country on the east side of the Cascade mountain range is high desert.  Elevation on the Garmin said 3500 feet.  The trail was very dusty and sandy the first day I rode it.  I weaves in and out of a sparsely populated forest of small trees, bushes and lava rocks all over the place.

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Reminded me abit of the trails in northern Wisconsin actually.  Levis Trow came to mind while I was riding.

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Huge rock formations and boulders were all over the place.  I assume these were formed from some kind of lava.

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There was over 28 miles of singletrack.  I got kind of lost on the first day but was able to figure out how to get back via the GPS on the Gamin.  The second day I climbed a small bit of that lava rock and here was the view.

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Can’t complain about that.  Time to celebrate with a Session from Hood River Oregon.

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A late afternoon storm rolled through and I got to see lightening and thunder which I haven’t seen in awhile so I camped out on the deck of the hotel and watched with Heidi.  Although it rains in Portland, it doesn’t get thunderstorms.  A nice rainbow tried to form during a colorful sunset.

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Rode the trail once more on Sunday and went home.

Other things to note.  It was hot in August, mid-90’s weather – almost 100.  Bring plenty of water or ride earlier in the day for cooler weather.  I drank 3+ liters in 3 hours of riding the first day.

Register for PDXLAN 14.5

17. July 2009 07:34 by Rick Glos in

Well as I get ready for a weekend of gaming at PDXLAN 14, they’ve opened registration for the next one.

I just now registered for PDXLAN 14.5.  I’m in seat L at table 8 if your interested in coming and want to hang out.

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Come on out and get your geek on.  I’ve now done 12.5, 13, and 14 alongside by friend Matt and we’ve had a blast.

Meals on two wheels

3. June 2009 16:58 by Rick Glos in

Monday (2009.06.01) was my first day delivering meals on my bicycle.  Here’s my commuter/utility bike all rigged up and with the bike trailer attached on one of my deliveries.

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The leadup

I’ve been considering donating for awhile.  Time or money?  I didn’t just want to give money.  Time I think is a little more important.  I’d thought of some kind of mentoring for kids or working with troubled youth but was concerned about the commitment.  Heck I don’t even have a dog cause I’m worried about that commitment.

My wife Heidi had mentioned this organization called Loaves & Fishes a few months ago.  They provide hot meals to senior citizens.  Their main program is called Meals-On-Wheels (wikipedia) where they deliver the food directly to the senior citizen living at home.  There was a meal center just 2 miles from my house in Multnomah Village.  I thought about it for awhile and put it on the back burner.  Seems like there’s always something else competing for your free time.

Then about a month ago they announced a program called Meals-On-Two-Wheels where you could support the program by sponsoring a route or volunteer to deliver the meals by bike.

I’m fortunate enough to have a good job working from home with a very flexible schedule.  I also feel pretty blessed to have a good life.  So I emailed to find out more.

The logistics

Being a programmer, I’m always curious about how stuff works.

I first pinged them by submitting a form through the website.  Jody Grant, the Southwest location manager, then emailed me saying they were starting up their first route by bicycle, what day it was on, and that if I chose do do it, I would be doing it twice a month or every other Monday.  Once that was out of the way then you had to fill out a form to sign up, including showing your drivers license and giving your social security number so they can run a criminal background check on you.  There are websites which will give them this information immediately.  In fact I watched Jody use the website.

So I showed up to meet her and see the location a week before my first real attempt.  She then gave me the route and stops along the way via Google Maps.  Pretty cool usage of technology.  Each waypoint was marked with the name of the person I would be visiting as well as their address.  Since I don’t seem to race anymore just pre-ride (haha),  I thought I’ll take a spin and see how hard it is.  Only 5 miles or so, part of it on a twisty hilly road with no bike lanes and the other half on the return leg was along busy road with a nice bike lane.  I was concerned about how hard the hills would be with a trailer and some of the stops were along either a steep incline or a gravel road.  How would the bike and trailer handle?

When I got back from my pre-ride, a guy was delivering the bike trailer so I got to check it out and talk to the guy a week before I actually had to use it.  I would be the first person to do this, bike delivery, at the Southwest location.  Other locations around Portland have been doing the bike delivery already.  What makes Southwest unique, for those of you not from Portland reading this, is the vast number of hills and roads that are not straight or grid-like.  Other parts of Portland (SE, NE, N) are very much like Milwaukee or Chicago and laid out in a grid pattern with flat roads.  Not SW Portland.

I also got a chance to see how the bike would attach to the trailer.  It’s modeled just like a vehicle.  You have a trailer hitch that you attach to your bike.  This is done by the back wheel.  You mount the hitch via the skewer  like so:

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So just like the diagram above – here’s it being mounted on my bike:

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Here’s what the hitch looks like mounted:

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Then you just hook up the tow bar to the hitch.  It has a strap you wrap around your frame in case the pin falls out (just like a normal car trailer uses a chain for that).

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The day of my delivery I showed up and there were other folks showing up as well.  First you sign and initial your name in a log book for the route you are going deliver.  I’d say there were a dozen routes.  Then you right your route name on a whiteboard in the kitchen area.  This is order the kitchen will then fill the orders.

You get 1 cooler for hot food and 1 cooler for cold food.  They put a hot water in an old plastic milk gallon and place it in the hot cooler to get it ready and warm for the hot food.  The cold food cooler already has it’s cold food in it.  So when you deliver the food, a lunch is the combination of 1 cold food and 1 hot food plus an option milk carton (1 pint).

So the cold food cooler looks like this (I took this shot at the end of my ride with 1 delivery left).  Not the a cold food item is a plastic wrapped container with a fruit, bun, and some other kinds of fruit.

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Here’s what the hot food cooler looked like:

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Couple of veggies in there and some kind of pasta.

Some folks have special diet needs on top of all this.  So in addition to giving them 2 food containers (1 hot/1 cold) you also need to give the right container.  Some are marked for diabetic and some are marked for vegetarian and some might even be marked up special.

So how do you know who gets what?

Well the last piece of information you get is a 3 ring binder with your route name (Ashcreek in my case) that has a nice bill of materials for who gets what.

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The trailer itself is built by Burley.  They are located right here in Eugene, OR.  In addition to all the child/pet carriers I’m sure you’ve seen around. They now make a flatbed trailer.  This is what we are using for our deliveries. 

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Since this is a volunteer organization, they took donations to buy the trailers and you can even sponsor a trailer or your business can.  I think it’s only $200 for the whole trailer.  They mount little billboards on the sides.  Already mentioned to them that they should have something on the back so that cars approaching me from behind can see that it’s a Meals-On-Two-Wheels rig because not many folks except walkers and cars at intersections will see the signs.

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The ride

You can see the rig in motion with this news story here.

I was concerned a little about how heavy the ride would be and did I need ‘trailer brakes’ – after all there’s hills!  Well the ride was smooth.  It barely felt like I had a trailer – it was built very sturdy.  I could only feel the extra weight.  Stopping or going downhill was the very easy as well.  I took it a little easy and didn’t brake hard.  My speed varied anywhere from 4 mph (up those steep inclines) to 26 mph going down hill and around corners without any issues.

I only had 4 stops and it took about 30 minutes of riding round trip, about 60 minutes including stopping and chatting with the people I was delivering to.  I’m not sure you would be any faster in a car.  And I would submit that speed really shouldn’t be your focus in life.

The people

Meeting the elderly people was very fulfilling emotionally.  I had some great conversations.  One woman I later learned was born in 1911!  She’s almost 100.  She even mentioned during our conversation that traffic was concerning her by her home and that she’s seen women with “buggies or whatever their called nowadays,” and was concerned for them.  We may call them strollers now but it was great hearing her talk.  She also informed me that she felt bicyclists should contribute to roadway maintenance and should be required by law to wear lights.  I figured I’d discuss those merits with her next time.    :)

Another woman was very happy I was delivering by bicycle and she told me her son was out for 6 hours on Sunday riding his bike.

I’m looking forward to future discussions.

Conclusion

I had a great time and I’m looking forward to the next one.  I’m hoping one day that Heidi might even be able to join me or if you are looking for something to do, ride along with me.

Also, I’d like to use the trailer a few more times but I think I might purchase one.  I’ve also been told that I may get a better deal through Loaves & Fishes through Burley than buying it directly.  I think it would make a great way to run larger errands like making runs to Target for toilet paper/paper towels, etc. 

Also for those of you with large families, now you can do your grocery shopping too.

Stepping Stone Cafe

1. June 2009 07:34 by Rick Glos in

Saw this place in Portland called Stepping Stone Cafe on an episode of Man V. Food. Their motto, “You Eat Here Because We Let You”. 

Built like a diner with a modern vibe atmosphere.  Breakfast was good and the pancakes large.   Eating them while Guns n roses played Welcome to the Jungle.  The rest of the menu looked promising.  Burgers and milk shakes for lunch, meat loaf and mac n cheese for dinner.  Going to have to make a return trip here to try the rest of the menu.

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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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