Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's All Downhill From Here

Thanks to the fine obsessive-compulsive cyclists at BikeJournal.com, we now have this near-exhaustive list of bicycle quotes. Feel free to take and use whatever you'd like:

"It never gets easier, you just go faster." -- Greg Lemond


"Hills make you stronger, head wind makes you mean." -- Unknown

"Pain is weakness leaving the body." -- Every coach in America

"Pain is donuts leaving the body." -- Unknown

"We find in biking the fullfilment of an antique instinct: vagabondage" -- Maurice Barres (translated from French)

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race." -- H.G. Wells

"
Cats don't like riding on a bicycle......no matter how much duct tape you use." -- Unknown

"Do these shorts make my butt look fast?" -- Unknown

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving" -- Albert Einstein

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live." -- Mark Twain

"My witness is the empty sky." -- Jack Kerouac

"Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There's something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym." -- Bill Nye, the Science Guy

"This is not Disneyland, or Hollywood. I'll give you an example: I've read that I flew up the hills and mountains of France. But you don't fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top ahead of everybody else." -- Lance Armstrong


"To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain....at cycling's core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn't matter if you're sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks." -- Scott Martin

"The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon." -- Bill Strickland

"
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." -- Ernest Hemingway

"Ride to eat, eat to live, live to ride." -- Unknown

"Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle." -- Helen Keller

"I'm a cyclist not simply in the sense that I ride a bike, but in the sense that some people are socialists or Christian fundamentalists or ethical realists - that is, cycling is my ideology, a system of thought based on purity and economy of motion, kindness to the environment and drop handlebars, and I want to convert others." -- Journalist Robert Hanks

And finally...

Cyclists are the biggest liars, sandbaggers and secret trainers around. They'll say anything to soften you up for the kill. Don't let this happen to you. Study this handy rider's phrase book to find out what your riding buddies really mean when they say:

"I'm out of shape."
Translation: "I ride 400 miles a week and haven't missed a day since the Ford administration. I replace my 11-tooth cog more often than you wash your shorts. My body fat percentage is lower than your mortgage rate."

"I'm not into competition. I'm just riding to stay in shape."
Translation: "I will attack until you collapse in the gutter, babbling and whimpering. I will win the sprint if I have to force you into a pine tree. I will crest this hill first if I have to grab your seat post, and spray energy drink in your eyes."

"I'm on my beater bike."
Translation: "I had this baby custom-made in Tuscany using Titanium blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a fart and costs more than a divorce."

"It's not that hilly."
Translation: "This climb lasts longer than a presidential campaign. Be careful on the steep sections or you'll fall over -- backward. You're lowest gear is 22x30? Here's the name of my knee surgeon."

"This is a no-drop, fun and flowy trail."
Translation: "I'll need an article of your clothing for the search-and-rescue dogs."

"It's not that far."
Translation: "Bring your passport."

"Its all downhill from here."
Translation: "There are still several hills so steep and long that Lance Armstrong himself would blow up and beg for mercy. The ONLY way to get back to the start is to go over those hills."

Real Estate Bubbles: Evidence & Speculation

Two days ago, Howard's best girl sent him this link from Money Magazine and CNN that Fort Collins, Colorado is one of the Top 10 places in America right now to buy property. Then she sent him a follow-up link stating that in Greeley and Denver -- both cities less than an hour away from Fort Collins and on the Money/CNN Top 10 list of Foreclosure Markets -- houses there are not selling at all, sending homeowners into bankruptcy. Greeley is #1 worst in the nation, with Denver at #6. Not a good Top 10 list to be on.

But does this contrasting news from neighboring economies sound strange? We're not done yet.

Then this morning, Second Son sent his dad a nice chart showing that futures traders are betting that Denver's real estate market will continue to drop, though not as badly as some other cities.

He writes, "The Chicago Merc. trades housing futures for these different areas of the nation and Denver's one of them. Basically the stock market people are trying to make money off the housing collapse by betting on the overall trend of the housing prices. Anyhow, this shows that Denver will likely go down the least over the next 10 or so months."

So Money/CNN says that Fort Collins is one of the best places in the nation to buy property right now, while an hour down the highway, Greeley and Denver property isn't selling fast enough to keep them off the Top 10 list of foreclosures.

And Money/CNN says Denver's foreclosure rate is sixth worse in the country, while the futures traders in Chicago think Denver's not going to do as badly as, say, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York.

Except for the hard data on foreclosures, Howard thinks they're all guessing. In any case, it appears that everyone is thinking hard about a bursting real estate bubble. And that can't be good.

Faster Than the Speed of Meme

Howard's doing this for purely scientific purposes.

This guy's tracking the speed with which memes criss-cross the internets. Either that or he's exceptionally marketing-savvy. Either way, Howard complies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Three Weeks to Go

Howard visited the construction site again today to meet with the contractor, the construction superintendent, and the finish carpenter to answer a bunch of questions.

Some of the questions were about mirror frames and their dimensions, some of the questions were about ceramic tiles in bathrooms and dog rooms, and some of the questions were about a built-in entertainment center, which is to be installed to the left of the fireplace in the family room, pictured at top.

The fireplace will be covered with stone, but not before all questions about the built-in have been decided. Those questions were all answered today.

The painter hustled last Tuesday to finish painting the kitchen so the tile guys could install the porcelain tile on Wednesday. The tile wasn't even started on Wednesday, so Howard felt bad for the painter, who could have been finishing up painting the exterior of the house since the weather was so great then. Now the weather has turned nasty, so the painter is forced to finish up inside with the family room, the study, and the away room/dining room.

The kitchen, pictured above, is still waiting for granite countertops. For some reason, this has been delayed and won't be done for probably another week. The cabinets to the left of the window are also awaiting the granite since an appliance garage between the base cabinets and the wall cabinets will sit on top of the granite, with the wall cabinets on top of that.

The most recent addition to the house these past few days involved the finish carpenter's fabrication and installation of the mudroom lockers and bench near the back door entry of the walk-out basement.

When Howard puts together a Top Ten List of his favorite things about the million-dollar house, the mudroom lockers and bench will surely be on that list.

All of the interior pictures are darker than usual because the light conditions were so murky, requiring Howard to use his camera's flash. Not a good camera, and the flash is the worst feature of the camera.

The contractor said he's trying to get the electrician to install the light fixtures next Monday. But the electrician says two other contractors have already spoken up for Monday. Wow, Monday's must be really bad days for electricians.

Finally, Howard includes two more pictures of the exterior -- just because Howard likes to see how it changes in varying daylight conditions.

Today's daylight was filtered through dark and stormy clouds filled with snow. You can see a new buckrail fence being constructed by the landscapers to enclose an area for the family dogs. They are large dogs, but could still easily escape should they choose to do so. Wonder what else the landscape designer has planned as he only briefly consulted with Howard about the sidewalk layout, stamped pattern, and color. Everything else will be a surprise for Howard.

Since Howard rode his bike 13 miles to the job site in 36 degree temps and 15 mph winds (you can see his bike in the picture above of the front of the house), he was concerned that the ride home might get much worse. Snow was forecast for the day.

Fortunately, Howard made it home with only minor frostbite before the snow began to fall.

Update: 6" of new stuff on the ground Tuesday morning, though it wasn't enough to close the schools.

World's Most Dangerous Bike Ride

Thanks to Gene Bisbee at BikingBis.com, we now know the world's most dangerous bike ride -- the Unduavi-Yolosa Highway in the mountains near La Paz, Bolivia.

Tour groups arrange bike rides on the road which feature exciting drops of 3,000 feet. The road is only a couple meters wide in spots, has streams cutting through it, buses filled with people drive on it and occasionally plunge over the edge, and up to 200 people die on this road every year.

The only guardrails are the road-side crosses put up by grieving families of dead cyclists!

You really gotta check out the link.

In the meantime, which bike ride near you is considered the most dangerous and why?

For Howard, it has to be County Road 23 heading south towards Dixon Canyon Dam at Horsetooth Reservoir. The road is a half-mile straight shot down a constant 8% grade without guardrails and a killer sharp (literally) blind left turn as you approach the dam. You can't bomb down the road because of the sharp turn. Which means that your life depends entirely upon the integrity of your tiny rarely-inspected $10 brakepads. You DID buy the $10 pads instead of the cheapie $5 pads, didn't you?

Carbon Emissions Show Sharp Rise

Updates below...

From the BBC News...
The rise in humanity's emissions of carbon dioxide has accelerated sharply, according to a new analysis.

The Global Carbon Project says that emissions were rising by less than 1% annually up to the year 2000, but are now rising at 2.5% per year...

If you saw the documentary An Inconvenient Truth featuring Al Gore, then you have some idea how alarming this latest discovery is.

Some scientists have speculated that the "tipping point" -- the point of no return when nothing we do will prevent the world's ecosystem from overheating past the point of disaster -- is approaching fast, if we haven't already passed it. This latest report only adds to the general gloom and doom index.

Also noteworthy, the United States, with 4% of the world's population, produces 25% of the world's excess carbon dioxide, but has done next to nothing to slow its production for fear of cutting into profits and non-negotiable lifestyles.

In the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the fate of carbon dioxide and the EPA's role in limiting it. Court hearings began on Tuesday, November 28th. Their ruling won't be announced until 2007 sometime.

Update: In a related development, union representatives of over 10,000 EPA scientists and specialists signed and presented a petition calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming. The petition also calls for an end to censorship of scientists by the current administration on topics of climate change and air pollution. No word yet from the White House, as no word is expected other than possibly a dismissive or threatening slam on Public Employee unions.

Another Update: After the first days' hearings, it appears to come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy to decide whether the states have standing to press the EPA to assert its authority in regulating CO2 emissions. Here is a link to the story.

Monday, November 27, 2006

November Millennium

Howard rode 31.1 miles today on his Fuji Touring Beater to put himself over 1,000 outdoor miles in Colorado for the month of November -- a November millennium to remember. The temperatures outside were a crisp 29 degrees with a slight breeze. Howard's bottle of Fierce Grape Gatorade froze and the vanilla-flavored Accel Gel was gummy rather than goopy. He barely made it back alive.

Howard had to finish the millennium today because the weather forecast for the next few days looks much worse. Much much much worse. He'll probably run instead of ride the next few days.

While on his ride today, he saw only three other cyclists on the road, which has to be a new record low for middle-of-the-day rides in Our Town.

Many seriously serious cyclists like to try for a 1,000-mile month during the summer months. But because Colorado has over 300 sunny days a year, and because Howard was able to bike at least 25 days of each month through the winter months last year, Howard decided to give it a try. Success!

Old joke, but... where's that Advil?

Another Clue

Photo

Way back in June, Howard and his best girl spent time in Pagosa Springs during the Ride the Rockies bike tour. He then wrote about what a miserable place Pagosa Springs was (you can find it on the Day 2 writeup.) Here comes another piece of evidence...

A Pagosa Springs Colorado homeowners association is demanding that past HOA president Lisa Jensen remove a Christmas wreath that includes a peace sign. Some homeowners say it is an anti-Iraq war protest or even a promotion of Satan. If she doesn't remove it, they will fine her up to $25 a day until she does.

Told you so...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fort-2-Fort Century

Howard went and did it again -- exhausted himself, wasted a perfectly good Saturday, and added 100 miles to his tally of miles bicycled in Year 2006.

He's now just about 50 miles short of 7,000 for the year. And that's as of today, which only has a few scant minutes remaining, by the way. "Tomorrow's another day," as the sage from GWtW reminds us with every repeat on TBS.

Click on the image above to go to a map of the route taken by Howard on Gmaps Pedometer, an interactive site which will allow you to zoom, pan about, and examine the elevation changes climbed throughout the 100-mile route from his hometown of Fort Collins (darn it! he gave it away!) to Fort Morgan via Highway 14 and New Raymer.

The ride took five hours, four minutes, and forty seconds in actual ride time, which works out to just a fuzz -- a negligible fuzz if you ask Howard -- below 20 mph. Yes, Howard was flying, and not usually wind-aided, I might add. Though the wind was out of the north-northeast, and Howard's route was pretty emphatically east, the wind was still a factor. It always is on bikes.

At mile 30, the road took a turn for the worst -- directly into the wind -- and it also decided to turn upwards for two annoying miles. This convinced Howard to change course -- instead of riding east continuously to Sterling, he would turn right after New Raymer and head south to Fort Morgan with the wind as an ally rather than a nemesis.

Fifty miles after making the momentous decision, Howard turned right. And it worked. But before he could reap the benefit of his genius, he first had to ride those 50 miles with the wind off his left shoulder.

And before that, he had to stop at Mile 50 and pull about 30 stickers and thorns out of his front and rear tires -- both very flat tires. Seems he struck the motherlode of penetrating prickers. Fortunately, he brought two (2) extra tire tubes with him, so did not have to try and patch all those penetrations.

Meeting Mrs. Howard in Fort Morgan, they feasted on Subway Italian BMTs before heading back to Fort Collins via automotive transport.

The ride back took about 90 minutes.

I tell ya, bicycling can be fun and healthful, but if you need to get home fast in an attempt to save something of a weekend evening, nothing beats a hydrocarbon-spewing global-climate-changing smog monster.

Just don't ever remind me that I said that!

Cheaters!

Howard can't wait to pass one of these on the road.

Friday, November 17, 2006

An Ordinary Day in the Life of an Architect

Howard and his best girl hopped on their bikes today and rode 16 miles across town to take a look at the progress on the million-dollar house that Howard designed.

The first photo shows a built-in dresser and a box window seat with a hinged top for storing kids toys. They were recently built, though they haven't been stained and finished yet.

While looking at these, Howard's wife kept using the word, "Sweet", until she realized that her own home doesn't have any of that sweetness.

The rest of the afternoon didn't go so well for Howard.

The next photo is of the entrance foyer and colonnade with darker stained accent wedges at the capitals. If you've been reading this blog, you've seen versions of this picture from various angles and degrees of completion for a while now. In this one, nearly everything is done except for the floors, the unpainted walls, and the kitchen peninsula to the extreme left.

The photo that follows is similar, except you are now standing near the front door looking back through the house at a recently completed bookcase to the right with the kitchen entry and peninsula beyond. There are still no light fixtures anywhere in the house, so some photos like this one appear a bit dark, particularly with Howard's lousy camera [Christmas gift suggestion???]

To the extreme left is the entrance to the study, then the stairway, and finally the beginnings of the family room down the colonnade.

If you squint very tightly, you might see some of the exposed ceiling joists over the family room which were also visible in an earlier kitchen photo.

The door at the end of the colonnade leads to the large back deck with views of the entire universe.

The next photo is one of Howard's favorite aspects of the house so far -- showing the built-in eating nook, mostly finished, though still needing some plastic laminate on the table top.

Below that is the first photo of the kitchen to grace this blog. Howard's made you wait long enough, though he really would have preferred that you wait some more because the granite countertops and porcelain tile floor haven't been installed yet.

The thought is that if you see it now, you'll appreciate later on how much the countertops and floor tile will add.

Some of the wall cabinets to the left of the window haven't been installed yet, and those that are in have been masked to protect them from overspray when the exposed ceiling joists and panelling will be stained soon. The large cabinet to the right will contain the oven and microwave.

The next photo is also of the kitchen while sitting in the ergonomically-perfect eating booth. The sink will be in front of the windows, of course. You can also see the island in the center of the kitchen which will hold the gas stove.

The stove won't have a range hood overhead, but will have an exhaust baffle which will pop up out of the countertop behind the stove when it is in use, drawing all fumes away from the stovetop and down through the island and then exhausted out the side of the house through the floor.

The final photo shows the back patio at the walk-out basement entry.

To the right of the door you should be able to see a dog door leading to a dog room containing all kinds of dog pleasantries.

The stamped concrete sidewalks and patios were recently poured (and stamped), although they haven't been stained yet. A covered breezeway hasn't been constructed yet which will lead one to and from the garage, beyond.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Does Reality Match the Concept?

Nearly all architects draw the buildings they design using CAD software -- computer-aided design -- these days. And by far, the most popular CAD platform is AutoCAD.

Howard is and has been an AutoCAD wiz for decades. He's been drawing using AutoCAD since the mid-1980's, and he still designs with it today.

Here are three exterior elevation drawings of the million-dollar house that Howard drew a year-and-a-half ago.

Unfortunately, Howard doesn't possess the software to create nice crisp photos or jpg's of his AutoCAD drawings that are small enough -- bytes-wise -- to post to blogger, or he would have done so.

Still, you CAN click on any of these drawings to see larger versions, but they will remain a bit fuzzy.

By the way, most AutoCAD users see drawings in this same graphic format -- with colored lines on a black background. There are plenty of other formats that do it different, but this format with AutoCAD hurts the eyes the least.

Check out the drawings and compare them to the photos to see if the contractor built everything properly.

The front door was changed between the completion of the drawings and the start of construction.

Also, the roof was changed from standing-seam metal roof to a taper-sawn cedar shingle roof.

There's one thing that didn't come out right. Look at the small single window on the front right facade of the house. That's a bathroom window. Notice how far above the stone base it is on the drawing compared to the photo?

Look carefully. The top of the stone base around the house was supposed to be about three inches higher than was actually built.

Unfortunately, the stone masons started at the back of the house, and by the time they got around to the front, where the mistake became evident to Howard's eyes, it was too late. Maybe not a big deal to you, but...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Proof, Baby!


This won't make sense to some of my regular readers. But to my new best friends at BikeJournal.com, this is evidence of Howard's victory in the week-long mad scramble to be the 666th poster to a very strange thread -- fleeting though the victory was. Visual freakin' proof, baby! Click on the screenshot image above and then check the post number in the lower lefthand corner -- #666. Oh yeahhhhhh. Baby.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Photos, We Have Photos!

New photos in today!

Just to quickly let you know what you're looking at -- or what you SHOULD be looking at -- here goes:

The walk-out basement floors are all concrete, stained and sealed, with large control joints spaced six-feet on-center. Remember, radiant floor heating has been installed throughout the house, including the basement.

The concrete stain is "Weathered Bronze", although it came out quite a bit darker than anyone expected.

Still, they are quite beautiful and look like marble, as intended and hoped. If the floors were clean -- as a photo of the Guest Bedroom here shows a substantial layer of construction dustiness -- you would surely agree with Howard.

The stairs are now complete, although the first floor still needs paint on the walls, stain on the trim and beams, and... bamboo floors!

Still, this photo shows the two tones of stain used throughout the house -- a lighter one to match the natural cherry finish and Shaker style of the kitchen cabinets, which we have yet to show you, and a darker one to match the mahogany front door, in more of a Mission style.

This photo shows the two stains in conjunction... or in contrast.

The stair treads, the accent panels of the newel posts, and the accent wedges at the tops of the colonnade are all stained with the darker stain.

The breakfast eating nook (or "booth", as everyone likes booths in restaurants, right?) is now under construction. By my "test" this morning, the ergonomics of the seats and table are perfect.

Incidently, you can see a small sliver of one of the kitchen cabinets to the left of the photo, this one containing the oven and microwave oven. Sorry, but I don't want to show you any more until the granite counters are installed within the next week.

I met with the finish carpenter this morning to answer his final detail questions before the granite is to be installed.

The ceramic tile surrounding the shower in the kids' bathroom is being installed this week.

The pattern shown, with the two bands of accent color, was chosen to wrap around a glass block window to the right of the photo, plus the lower band was to run under a shelf to the right of the far corner in the shower for kids to place shampoo bottles, loofas, whatever. For some reason, the framers didn't notice the shelf on my floor plans, so they didn't build it. And I didn't notice until it was too late!

I can't help but wonder where that extra four inches of floor plan space ended up?

The slate in the master bath shower is now in place, though the grout has yet to be installed.

Should be a great place to take a shower every morning.

And Howard would know. He's a connoisseur of long, languorous showers, as they are one of his few indulgences.

Last, the painter has FINALLY moved back outside to take advantage of the terrific November weather we've been having.

As you can see here, he masked off all the windows and trim, and is spray painting the Hardi-board lap siding.

Yup, that's him right there! Heck of a guy, too, though I've yet to see him wear any protection from fumes or overspray. I would guess it's because he's a smoker and figures "what's the point?"

Friday, November 03, 2006

Howard's Suffering Revealed

Way back in July, Howard rode 352 miles and climbed 25,422 vertical feet in the Tour de Wyoming. While the experience left him deeply scarred, he still wrote extensively about it here.

Howard told you his camera stopped working after taking just one photo, and that story still stands. However, his buddy, Glenn from Gillette, snapped a few pics of their ride, and Howard just came across one that he can share with his readers... completely unretouched and unedited!

It was taken on the fifth and final day of the tour when Glenn, who is a machine at climbing, had taken a lead ahead of Howard and decided to pull over and snap a shot of his suffering.

This picture shows Howard (in red) grinding up a 7% grade of the Big Horn Mountains on his Fuji Touring Beater, looking for and praying for the next aid station.

Hey, you don't suppose The Machine used taking the picture as an excuse to take a break, do you?! That bastard! Now why didn't Howard think of it first? Probably lack of oxygen to the brain.

So Many Tidbits, So Little Time

These are all clues...
  • Howard won't be going to Tucson on November 18th for El Tour de Tucson after all. Instead, He will ride a century in and around his hometown on that day, if the weather cooperates.
  • A client decided to cancel his addition/renovation project just as Howard completed construction documents. Since he cancelled before construction began, the client apparently determined that he shouldn't have to pay his architect for 2 1/2 months of work. It took the "ex"-client 2 1/2 more months to realize that he was woefully wrong, and so he finally paid Howard a few days ago. That was the fastest cashed check in the history of cashed checks. Cleared too!
  • Howard conceived the brilliant idea that He would let his bike computer's thermometer tell Him how far He should ride that day. Wednesday at 2 p.m. -- 30 degrees, thus 30 miles. Thursday at noon -- 42 degrees, thus 42 miles. Friday Forecast: High of 58 degrees. Maybe this idea isn't so brilliant after all. Howard's knees concure. Update: Friday's temp at ride time -- 46 degrees, but only 36 miles of ride. Perhaps Howard will only attempt it a few times a week...
  • Kohler no longer sells the shower enclosure with the nice fritted glass as specified by Howard. So the contractor asked Him to go to a particular glass place in town that sells shower enclosures to select an acceptable substitution. Honest to God, Howard couldn't find the place [it was way around back of an industrial park where the chain link grew especially tall and rusty]. So Howard suggested to the contractor that he or his project superintendant select something themselves since they are familiar with Howard's house design and aesthetic intentions. The contractor agreed waaaay too readily. We should all be curious to see what the contractor selects. Photos forthcoming.
  • Howard's cycling mileage for the year is currently a bit over 6,300 miles. If He hopes to break 8,000 before the year is through, He'll need to ride 200 miles a week for just over eight weeks. Maybe 58 degrees/miles isn't so far after all...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Abstinence ├╝ber alles

Don't you do it.

(at least until you're 30, at which point you're free to rut like bunnies since it's no fun anymore.)