It's late September and I really should be back in school. I hope the last of the rambling random-type ones.

It's late September and I really should be back in school. I hope the last of the rambling random-type ones.

There's a Bob Dylan line that goes:

"Today on the countryside, it was hotter than a crotch,"

It's been hotter than a crotch here, for sure, and holy Moses...we aren't used to it. Dry heat and 96 to 104 degrees. Naturally, this kind of weather leads to thoughts of wool.

We got a ton of my favorite wool-color stuff in. It's a deep rich whatever mossy green, color-matched from a shirt a friend of mine bought at Target about eight years ago, a perfect color match. Long-sleeve zip turtlenecks, long-sleeve high-neck/mock t-necks, and sleeveless undershirts, a style our Australian manufacture calls a "muscle shirt," beanies, and short neck gaiters/sweatbands/ear warmers. Those you can wear under something like ye olde base layer, or like a vest,on top of everything else. 

ALL of these tops fit "British style," which means snug-4-the-stated-size. You know you, you know the fits you like, and buy accordingly. I wear a men's large button-down or T-shirt, and I go 2XL in these because I like loose. Most people buy up one size, that's good enough for them. It's hard to talk a MEDIUM guy into an XL, and it's not a good use of bandwidth, but I thought I'd mention.  Since these are not underwear, it's not illegal to take them back if you get the wrong size. Just try, though. 

These are the best knit-wool tops I've ever worn, and I've worn tons. They're all merino wool, midweight, interlock knit so they always look smooth and neat (I don't care). They tend to be long-in-body, and if you go UP two sizes, you can expect to wish they were about six inches shorter. You can cut them off (a rotary scissors is perfect, but a norma works fine). No need to stitch the raw edge--it'll roll a turn, but it won't fray.


We are out or nearly out of basquet nets, but I've been one of these guys lately, and let me tell you...I don't expect any awards for it, but it's pretty excellent. I put all the kits together myself b/c, everything is ready to go, and either these will last us a week or forever.


Here's an interesting column from the NYT Magazine. You can always scroll past it. Maybe there's ONE THING in this Blahg for you to like, and this may not be it, that's OK. It has 1,145 words, and a typical adult reads 250 words per minute, so count on six minutes, including 1:20 for snacks:

Ford’s Truck of the Future Looks Pretty Familiar

A compelling commercial to sell electric trucks leaves out planetary responsibility. Is this really good news?

By Peter C. Baker

Published Sept. 15, 2021Updated Sept. 17, 2021

A two-story house stands alone against a night sky. We’re watching from off in the distance, but the warm lights inside make it look cozy. Then a bolt of lightning shoots down from the sky. Thunder claps. The lights go out, plunging the home into darkness. Outside, a gray-haired man in a cowboy hat switches on a flashlight and stands next to his vintage pickup truck, surveying the property. Something is coming down the road. It’s another pickup truck. Close-up on the grille: It’s a Ford.

A firm, masculine voice starts narrating. “Take the familiar and make it revolutionary.” A woman gets out of the Ford, runs a cord from the darkened house, plugs it into the side of her truck and voilà: The lights come back on. “Take the truck our parents used to build this country and make it so it can power our homes.”

Cut to a bustling urban bakery, where a different woman takes orders behind the counter, then heads out to make deliveries in an electric Ford van. Cut again, to a mid-20th-century auto-design lab. A designer in a tweedy jacket — most likely a reference to McKinley Thompson Jr., Ford’s first Black hire in that department — inspects a prototype of what appears to be a Ford Mustang. “Take the original 0-to-60 head-turner” — we see a new, electric Mustang zooming down a desert highway. “Give it zero vehicle emissions.”

 This ad — titled “Make It Revolutionary” and directed by Chloé Zhao, of “Nomadland” fame — ends at the house where it began. Now the older man sits at a table with his wife, enjoying a meal with Electric Truck Woman and Bakery Woman (his daughters, it seems), plus a darling grandson. After dinner, he heads outside, where his daughter’s electric Ford is parked next to his classic model. We see them standing by the new truck, admiring its features. Old and new, gas and electric, male old-timer and female face of tomorrow stand comfortably side by side, the line of tradition running between them. “Take who we are and make it into where we’re going,” the narrator says. “Now there’s an idea.”

 After decades of dragging their feet, big players in the American automotive industry are beginning to imagine a move away from vehicles built around fossil-fuel combustion. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep have all announced plans to make 40 to 50 percent of their sales electric by 2030. This shift — currently a matter of nonbinding pledges — has many motivations: the plummeting price of batteries, increasing government subsidies, the anticipation of tighter emissions standards. As for ecological motivations, well, maybe; we can’t know what sense of planetary responsibility lurks in the relevant executives’ hearts. But automotive electrification is first and foremost a product of hard-nosed corporate interest in the bottom line.

 Carmakers already know what makes customers spend. If their future is to be an electric one, then their mission is to convince people that electric Fords are basically the Fords they already love, only newer. This explains the mix of nostalgia and futurism in “Make It Revolutionary,” which hawks the cars of tomorrow using images of the cars of the past (which were themselves once the cars of tomorrow), all the while stressing age-old American themes of hard work, self-reliance and family. The result is a pitch for electric cars that dwells barely at all on what was once supposed to be their great virtue: the potential to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Emissions-consciousness isn’t what drew people to Fords in the past, so why change what works? Climate change is never mentioned — though the power failure that requires the truck to double as a generator certainly feels like a gesture at some of its effects.

 In a news release announcing Zhao’s ad, Ford implied that she was hired in part because of her affinity for their product. (“She built a camper van out of a Ford Transit and often travels and works from it.”) But I can’t help thinking that “Nomadland,” Zhao’s film about Amazon warehouse employees and others on the margins of the economy, played a part too. In addition to winning dozens of awards, the film drew criticism for glossing over the working conditions in Amazon warehouses, taking a story of structural exploitation and turning it into a poignant veneration of hard work and gritty individualism.

 Advertisements have always told us that by buying one new product, we can improve our lives. Increasingly, though, they’re promising something different. Now they suggest we can buy our way to maintaining the lifestyle we already have, armed with products made from new materials (steel straws, hemp T-shirts) or redesigned so they don’t belch offensive exhaust (electric vehicles). The status quo, they promise, can stay — without so much ecological damage.

 “Make It Revolutionary” joins this tradition and helps us to see its blind spots. It’s no accident that Zhao gives more screen time to pickups than any other car, even though Ford’s first electric pickup doesn’t go on sale until next spring. In America, the company’s F-series pickups have outsold every other vehicle, of any type, for 39 years running; pickups constitute around half of Ford’s total sales, and probably an even higher percentage of its profits. They are what Ford customers want. But that doesn’t mean they’re what customers should have. Pickups are, by most accountings, a menace. Compared with sedans, they’re more likely to hit pedestrians and more likely to injure or kill those they hit. (Ditto for S.U.V.s.) Even when powered by batteries, they will use more energy than electric sedans (energy that may still come from fossil fuels), and their larger batteries will use more scarce minerals and generate more chemical waste. A recent ad for the forthcoming electric GMC Hummer “supertruck” seemed to celebrate this outsized impact, featuring C.G.I. footage of a Hummer falling from the sky and smashing onto a city street, creating a huge crater.

 Internal-combustion engines, like coal plants, single-use plastics and so much else, need to go away, on a timetable faster than any yet proposed by any American company. Increasingly, though, experts agree that this should just be the start — that any vision of an environmentally sustainable future will have to involve many fewer cars, and smaller cars, and a great deal less driving, period. Similar transformations can be expected across the economy, and in all our lives. Any future we can believe in will be desirable less for what it shares with the past and more for how it veers in new directions.

To get there, it will not be sufficient to simply replace our current purchases, and our current lives, with slightly more efficient ones. We will have to let many old habits slip away and replace them with new ones. This is, by definition, a revolutionary idea — just not one you’re likely to hear in a car commercial anytime soon.


 At the beach earlier this month. Also, best riding of my life, but no riding video. This one's a little more than a minute, but kind of neat visuals and sound. Everybody should be able to see this every day.


Here's an odd Holiday Flyer. For 2009 or something.


I got this box for Christmas in about 1961, when I was seven.

My dad said it was a strong box, like that was a kind of box, and it felt grown-up to get it. He said it was for my special things, and it came with two keys, and it could be private. Until now...

Made in N.E.W. York by ye olde Union Steel Chest Corp. I'm opening it up for the first time since 1972.


Some standard kid stuff—some spent .22 shells, a whistle (far right, you can see the end of it), a broken arrow shaft that I'd planned to sharpen and make a mini-bow for, but never did. I DID make mini-bows, though. A golf tee. I played golf a fair amount from the age of 8 to 11, on a 9-hole par 27 range with a long hole of 131 yards. We'd hike over the hills (me and two to three friends) with putters, a 5, a 9, and maybe a 3-4 driver between us. 


Ye olde key fobbe, never used, but I liked the leather. ON the right is a broken retainer, I'd gotten used to it, liked it, an I continued to wear it after the authorities told me I didn't have to. Kind of a Stockholm-syndrome thing.

A mallard's foot. My dad shot and ate the duck in the 1930s. You can tell it's a mallard because it's orange. 


Early signs that I've always liked Australia and its funny animals. This is a penny made into a pendant. Ye olde penny pendante.


A normal penny, my 6th grade picture, and a whistle I made. It still works, I tried it.


Hunting license from when I was nine. My dad started me early.


Back side of hunting license. You can see by the broken wire that Pac Bell worried more about the wires than the birds.


 This is the star of the box. I used to make these things.  You start with a branch of suitable width and straightness, carve it like this, then set it on the ground and hit the carved end with another stick The short stick flips up, and then you whack it with the long stick. It's called "Flip-Thwack," which I'd like to hear somebody say ten times fast in French.

Flip-Thwack is back in my life. I work on it in my backyard, and because I was better at it when I was ten than I am now, I'm refining the tools a little. It's a work in progress, but I hope to get good enough to post a short video.

NO DOUBT many of you, armed with more than a hatchet, could nail the shape so that it would always fly up high and vertical, not shoot backwards or forwards and out of swinging range. Please have at it and show me the results by video. We can compare notes. We can start with wood and let the Big Chinese Toy Company, working with tech giants, develop a skill-free version that pops up on voice command, glows and yelps when you hit it, and retrieves itself.



I suppose I should collect my books and get on back to school

Or steal my daddy's cue and make a living out of playing pool.

(If he didn't have a cue of his own, it's unlikely he'd be good enough to make a living playing pool.)

That's not from a Bob Dylan song, anyway. Rod Stewart, but I don't know if he wrote it.


This is a good use of eBikes. It's an article about food deliveries.


 Here's something by my personal favorite bicycle rider-writer. 


I didn't know, until I read Eben's Sept 15  column, that Shimano was discontinuing its mechanical Ultegra group. Funny to have to say "mechanical," but it's not the default anymore. 

Ask not what your bicycle can do for you; ask what you can do with your bicycle...or something like that. Riding a bike at its best is operating the mechanisms on it, mechanisms made of simple tools connected with one another, and for the most part, visible and obvious. Maudlin alert: It's making a difficult shift with skill and footwork. Shifting is always footwork. It's moving from bad shifter to decent shifter to good shifter. I could argue and have that indexed shifting is too easy to be beautiful, but these days I'm finding myself rooting for it, because electronic shifting is going to take over, and once it does, the bicycle becomes just another toy-tool-device in your burgeoning electronic quiver. <--this is not cultural appropriation.

The point is, it's more than pedaling and how many watts your devices prove that you're generating. It's not scores on an LED screen that can be downloaded onto a graph or compared with thousands of other riders...but that is where bicycling is going. Big companies can't not go along. It's easy for RIVENDELL to squawk about this stuff, but when TREK and SPECIALIZED and GIANT and CANNONDALE are battling it out for No. 1 thru 4, you know they want to be the first with most of anything electronic, electric, automobilish, and sleek.  Bicycles for them are UNITS. I know how the meetings go. Whenever "units" came up at Bridgestone I'd pipe up with "let's call them bikes, OK?" If you call a bike a unit, it's like calling chicken "product." At that point you're too removed from the THING you've forgotten how to love, so just....mooooove onnnnn.

The bicycle doesn't need me to glorify it, and I don't like to sound this way. It makes me feel ancient and out of step and didactic at the same time.

didactic | dīˈdaktik | adjective

intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive: a didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice. in the manner of a teacher, particularly so as to treat someone in a patronizing way: slow-paced, didactic lecturing.

That's pathetic and insulting. I don't know how to say it. Mechanical bicycles are as magical as they get. Listen--even the complication inside an indexed trigger shifter, if you do the dumb thing and take it apart as we have here--it's frigging super duper smart-mechanical genius crazy fantastic. I'd like it so much more if it were exposed, like sometimes you see on fancy watches. Cover it in clear plastic, let people see the gears at work. Don't play the olde "you don't need to know" card. I HATED indexing until I dissected a lever. I don't love it now, but I LIKE it and bow in shame and supplication to the now-retired (at best) Shimano engineers who developed it.

Mechanical watches attract fanatics, and it's the mechanism that does it. Watch fiends don't care about Casios or quartz watches (I wear a Mondaine $225 quartz-powered analog watch most of the time. If I were as rich as some of you probably think I am and my daughters' student loans weren't over $300K combined, I'd probably have a Mondaine mechanical, because the original Mondaine watch faces are the best. Otherwise, like if I were ultra rich, I'd order me up an

Ochs und Junior

Ochs und Junior (Ox and Son) are -- well, read about them. I think if I were going to die in a year I'd get one, but by the time I'm a year away from dying they either won't be around or I won't be able to afford one. They used to start at about $5,500. I like my Mondane. We used to sell them. 

Mondaine is a neat company with a great story, but lately they've been diluting their brand with non-iconic faces, with nomal numbers or no numbers. MOVADO for centuries had only no-numbered faces. They did the same thing, about 25 years ago--they moved away from their own signature look and added numbers. Here's my watch.


Cinelli and lots of the Italian brands have lost their way, usually it starts when they're bought by a billionaire who thinks the brand can be expanded by equity alone and not the look the iconic details that made them famous. That's the last time I'll say "iconic,"-- I'm sick of the word. But I'm taking about the original Italian decals, the Cinelli seat binder, the DeRosa flat fork crown, the Masi plate fork crown.


eLectric Bikes have the potential to do a lot of good, I world love to see cities jam-packed with them. But the world's eLectric Bike needs are being served by others, so we will stay all mechanical. That's a  prediction, not a promise. It's a promise as long as I am in charge, but if I retire (no plans yet, but Iyam 67), and let's say I sold it to somebody, a group of investors who owns a ton of other brands and likes the idea of a niche-boutiquey bike brand...well, you might expect the press release from the new owners to go something like this:

"Now we can do more good, now we can get more people on nice-looking, fitting, riding, comfortable steel bicycle. Be happy for us! Steel is real!"

But nobody would buy it with the idea of letting us continue on our level, increasingly niche-y path. They'd buy it with the idea of growing it, of combining "best of ye olde classique and modern technology." It won't be the same, and if "steel is real" came up in the negotiations, that would be the end of the negotiations. Steel isn't the olde materielle du nostagia.

 For the right price, watch me sell out and swallow the whole untruth hook line and sinker, or at least pretend to.

Not while I'm HERE, though. The more electronic they go, the deeper we're digging in with mechanical bikes. The electronic takeover of bikes is depressing. They always justify it by saying it's more people'll get more people on bikes...which will cool the planet. No. All it does is create dissatisfaction with mechanical bikes, make them seem archaic and difficult to operate. They're so simple. 

Have you seen our How to Shift thing?

It's the sixth image down from the top on THIS PAGE.

 And there are more  instructions on the right. But basically, that's it. It's ten quadrillion times easier than juggling two tennis balls or plaiying the guitar, piano, or harmonica. It's 5x easier than shifting a stick shift in a car. But iit takes practice, and people now generally want perfection without practice, which is why electronic shifting is winning ye olde battle.


 This is a prototype Charlie H. Gallop. Customer Jonathan really wanted it, so we sold it to him with protovelo decals (since, that's what it IS), and he likes it. He wrote:

Hi guys! I wanted to extend a huge thank you to both of you for all of the information, the cool head badge and for allowing me to purchase this great bike. I got it all together last week and is even better than I hoped.  Here’s a photo of it! That’s Ultradynamico Cava tires on it.  With the mini-V brakes there isn’t much clearance but it works and if I can always move over to standard V’s if I need to.  Anyway, thanks again!

No news on when the real final ones will come out, but they'll be good.



I'm not what you'd call "a cooking show guy," but this one is out of this world. Four one-hour episodes. After watching this, you won't be liking George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as much as you do now.



More perceived safety via Shimano Metrea front derailer


This is a pretty amazing poem written and recited live by Bob Dylan when he was 22. It was relevant to me when I heard it in 1973 and it still is, I still feel too old to young too smart and too dumb and all that other stuff. I yell to myself and throw down my hat, saying Christ, do I gotta be like that? I think we all do, I hope we alll do, because I don't want to feel alone in this. I've memorized it, it's not that hard. I can say the whole thing on cue no matter where I am. If asked, I might have to interrupt my thinking it to say it aloud. I wonder whether Bob has memorized it. He is reading is in the video, but he has an amazing memory, so it wouldn't surprise me. There are trick to memorizing. One is to hear it a lot, to read it a little, and to visualize images, especially in the transitions. Like the transition from

"..and Uncle Remus can't tell you, and neither can Santa Claus

and it ain't in the cream-puff hairdos or cotton candy clothes;

it ain't in the marshmallow noises and chocolate cake voices..."

when you hear "Santa Clause," picture him with the big puffy beard, which will prompt you for the next line with the cream-puff hairdos. 


"...who every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses"

it ain't in the fifty-start generals and flipped-out phonies..."

when you hear "sunglasses," picture Douglas MacArther in his Ray-Bans or whatever they were. That makes the military connection for the next line.

Anyway, that's how you do it. Eventually it all becomes one five-thousand syllable word that you can mumble aloud in public when you're really old.


 Everybody sees deer everwhere all the time, is my assumption. Last night at the start of a ride we saw these. Notice how antlers or the lack of them affect your fence actions.



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