Early May, LONGEST BLAHG EVER, will never be this long again: James Baldwin, Turkeys, taking pictures, derailers, lotsa links, and a killer charity drive. Give it half an hour.


 

Turkeys are so common now, probably in all states. Nothing small gets them, and they can fly away from big mammals. Everybody sees how near-to-people they come and infer that they're stupid because of it. If  people--like you and other city people SHOT turkeys, they'd adapt quickly. Turkeys that live in the woods and get hunted are famously difficult to get near. So letting you get close just means they've learned you're harmless. You wouldn't assume a human who let you get within 20 feet was an idiot, would you?  

Vegan alert: When I was a 11, 12, and 13 I used to hunt ducks, geese, quail, and doves in the  hills behind my house, but there were zero turkeys. Now they're everywhere. So are geese. Wednesday on the way to work I had to take a corner tight to not hit one (of two) standing in the middle of the road, which ran between condos and a business park. We're in a corrugated metal, 20-unit industrial building, we have six of the units, each 24 x 40 feet, and the rest are car places. the street we're on is the main street in town, so main it's North Main, and the next closes street is Broadway, and you don't get to be named Broadway if you're a minor street. STILL, the turkey comes. It walked right over the car. Two more turkey pix, and then we get on with it:

 

 

OK, turkeys in urban areas aren't that unusual, but this Blahg IS free, and I never get this close to them in the wildish hills. Close, but not 20 feet. 

 

I don't want to start naming my photo, but if I did, this would be

The Futile Grunt, because he didn't make it.

It's an example of how good a technically lousy out of focus blurry black and white photographs can look. Shot digitally, it would take a ton of artificial manipulation to get it to look like this. With film, it just comes out automatically crappy-in-a-good-way.

Dan has a gray vest on and a light  patterned shirt, and that'll look good in most photos. All black ruins photos, no detail, shapes get lost. High contrast plaids and stripes and prints are the best.

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Here's below's a photo of Vaughn, one-handedly with a fully manual SLR (OM-1 with a 28mm lens), and I think I had it on 1/60th second shutter with about f11 aperture (both guesses, the meter didn't work) and I knew it'd be close. You can see the camera shake and trail blur. Technically lousy, but as long as the tones are there and the composition is decent AND I LIKE the subject rider, I figured I'd like the photos.  

 

The scene is non-awesome, and would be boring in digital sharpness and technicolor. It looks better in blurry black and white because it has a fantastic range of tones from pure white shirt to pure black hat and all the tones in between. And the blur adds to it. It's not an example of skill, it's just shows how black and white and imperfections can combine to be something better than you expect.

I used to think white shirts were horrible for photos, and they can be, but lately Will and Sergio and James have been shooting white-shirted riders, and they look great, so I'm off my anti-white shirt kick. 

Here's a Will photo of Sofia.

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For bike riding photos, for me (I'm not declaring for the world) all that matters is subject, composition, and exposure.

Sharpness usually doesn't matter, like 99 percent of the time. So you don't need good lenses. If you have a camera that lets you control exposure, shoot at 1/30 or 1/60th of a second. If you shoot at high shutter speeds for no blur, the rider looks like a statue.

 

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Here's one of my favorite photos ever, shot by John with his Holga cheapy:

 John got this shot with his $40 Holga cheap plastic camera with a famously lousy plastic lens. It's impossible to look at this photo for two seconds and think OK, I get it.  The mural must be really neat, but the photo of it has to be as good. It didn't take as much time, but it gets it out there to a few hundred people (you guys) and the trash-&-recycling tubs look better than they do in real life and are handy for scale. We all know how big tubs are, right? John is getting a lot out of that camera. A good example of subject (interesting), composition, and exposure being all that matters. Some people shoot ONLY with cheap plastic cameras. Sharpness is fine for still lifes, but a Holga limits the sharpness, and it probbly looks better for it.

Here's a good place to get a Holga. It's in Portland, and this place deals only in film cameras and...manual typewriters. 

And here's the biggest no-brainer cheap-easy camera of all time:

https://www.ilfordphoto.com/harman-reusable-camera-and-kentmere-film

Here's another groovy place, and they also sell Holgas:

https://www.freestylephoto.biz/category/30-Cameras-and-Accessories/Holgas

 AND, if you want to get your film developed and scanned and there's no local place, try these guys:

thedarkroom.com

They charge $12 to have them develop and scan your film. 

There are tons of black and white films, but Ilford HP-5 is never a crappy choice. Ilford doesn't even make color film, so you know they're going to be good at their speciality, right? 

One more camera-photography thing. Maybe you've seen this. It's worth a look.

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Pencil

Canada story about a guy who builds cold-weather shelters for homeless people:

This is a happy story.

 National Parks, a case for giving them back to the Native Americans.

This is a sad one, but super interesting.

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I'm not sure whether this next image is properly "between the pencils" or not, but here she goes:

This is my favorite all-time coffee can. The coffee came from Ethiopia, and that guy is what seems to be a light-skinned Ethiopian. I like ye olde "Red Can Brand" right there in front. Hills Bros. got in trouble for having this guy on the can. I always thought he was cool, but what do I know? I still like the can. I'm going to pad the inside and use it for storing a camera lens. 

Speaking of coffee:

This one is about Jackie Robinson and "Chock full-o' Nuts," at one time the leading coffee of New York City. The thing is, I don't drink coffee but I grew up making frisbees out of coffee can lids, and I have fond memories of the metal coffee cans. You have to scroll down the timeline to 1957.

 I want to comment on the expression, "chock full-o' nuts." Even when I was seven I thought it was cheesy, and I still do, but in a coffee context and with Jackie Robinson, I am sooo all for it that I ordered some just to get the cans. I drank coffee as a kid, heavily milked and sugared and mainly for dunking cookies into. I don't know what my parents were thinking, but whatever. I've always loved the smell of coffee, and I like coffee ice cream (used to...sigh). I just never got in the adult coffee habit.

Coffee report: Out of respect for Jackie Robinson and Chock full o' Nuts, I drank my first coffee in half a century. It was excellent, but I'm not going to get addicted. I'll finish off the Chock full o'Nuts and be done with it. I have nothing against coffee. I like it's history, the story, I've read more books about coffee (one) than most of you have...I love the smell. 

This is one of my favorite things in the world...to eat:

https://www.juniorscheesecake.com/cheesecake-samplers/sugar-free-sampler

All the flavors are good, but there's a coffee one. They don't seem to sell a whole coffee low-carby cheesecake; only in this sampler. 

Chuck Schumer was on Colbert a while back and mentioned Junior's cheesecake. I found out about it when somebody sent Mark one for his birthday, and he shared it. Out of this world AND they have the xylitol option. Xylitol is not chemical. It's good. I think I raved about it in Eat Bacon, Don't Jog. Forgive the link, but it is a decent book.

Did you know that the "Owners Manual" we supply with our complete bikes is this one, the best of all time?  If you don't have it, buy it. If you didn't get one, either you got your bike too early or we were out. It's not something we use to sell the bikes, as bait. It's a freebie as long as we're able to do it. We are not obliged to, but we really like this book and consider it to be essential reading for any bike rider. It will absolutely change your riding and your thinking about bikes, and your attitude around them in a super positive way. 

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VIdeo about bikes in Africa

It will make you want to send at least ten bikes there, and it'll make you appreciate your bike more than you do already.  sent by Susan J.

Read this only if you like art or history, otherwise it will be a real drag. It's a story about Black artists in the south who weren't famous when they were alive, but holy cow. I wish I could write 1/10th this well.

Pencil

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The toll extracted/price one pays/the price I think I have paid and continue to pay for owning a small business in a small niche of a medium-sized industry and not intentionally going against the trends, but philosophically being unable to embrace so many of them, is that survival requires a certain amount of loudmouthing just to get through, and loudmouthing tends to make one come off like a d*ck. 

The loudmouthing wins enemies and makes people who don't know me dislike me because I don't like something they do, or I like something they don't. Or I am FOR reparations and they aren't, or I'm spending time and a little money trying to develop a new Rapid-Rise style rear derailer, and they can't think of anything stupider.  Or I think eBikes are underpowered motorcycles that are so underpowered that they avoid motor vehicle laws.

So I get emails that I don't dare show my wife. I think I'm going to change my email address. That will create a lot of confusion and hassles. It will inconvenience me and probably about a hundred others, but it will also reduce the spam and mean ones I get. If you want to get in touch with me by email, send it to the general account or to somebody else, who will intercept the bad ones unread and not tell me about them.

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Derailer and brake news.

For those of you late to this doomed insane party, we're developing a rapid-rise rear derailer and the world's theoretically most excellent V-brakes and cantilevers. Our design, but we're having the smartest bike guy cad guy technical guy that I know do the details, and it includes making springs.

Here is his latest correspondence regarding the derailer. Keep in mind that it is not, strictly speaking, my paying job to entertain you, and you are here only because you've read all of the great works of literature and science already...so you will be hard-put to justify snickering or fuming, and grasping at cliches about reinventing wheels or following the market. <--That is "experience-based defensiveness," sorry.

The rear derailer, cantilever brake, and V-brake are all long shots, but they're not draining us in any way. Not much, anyway. 

Grant, 
As soon as I get the bars mentioned in the earlier email, I'll turn and heat treat the springs and the derailer is yours....yeah...I redesigned and  printed up the v.2 pulley arms and I'll pack them in the same shipment. I also made a second cantilever arm spring, just in case, as I've had a couple springs fail after heat treat. I think I solved the heat treat issue by adding a digital thermometer on the little toaster oven I'm using.

 When I measured   the temp with the new thermometer, the oven was about 50 degrees hotter than it was set to. The oven is brand new, but since its so small, and I was setting it at 450F...I found it would  overshoot 450F to 500F plus...so much for accuracy on a $60 toaster oven. Anyway, I watched the oven pretty closely when I was heat treating the extra spring I'm sending you.  With the digital thermometer in place, I was able to manually adjust and hold the correct heat treating temp.

The biggest issue on the derailer will be determining the cantilever am swing distances. I left extra stop material on the arms to adjust by remove a bit as needed.

On brakes : I was able to get a bunch of cad work done on both the v and cantilever brakes the last two weeks. It became very apparent that there was going to be a lot of part commonality between the two so I came up with a novel way to speed up the project.

What I did was to virtually in cad  insert a left arm v brake and the right arm canti onto the virtual seat stay fixtue. So as I am making changes to a part common on either, I've previous linked those common parts in the  cad file...so as I edit one or the parts on either brake, like the canti braze on bushing or clearances between the two parts, and I can see how it affects the other brake...and make the minute adjusts to both brakes  arms in real time....this is in lieu of having two separate projects in cad and basically jumping  back and forth between project files, checking fit, etc.

After I get the v and canti designs where I want them, then I split them into two projects, mirror the existing parts to the missing side and detail the cable attachment areas...wish I had thought of this process earlier...after you approve the cad model, I'll print them up...and once we are good to go on the printed models, I'll cnc the parts. 

The current design issue on the brakes I need to settle is the final design of the arm angle micro adjuster. This part of the design has been the most difficult...and I'm trying to use the same design and parts for both brakes. I've had a few failures in direction, but it's just the process of working thru the design process...having a good eraser for the initial sketches helps alot.

Cheers 
Dan 
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Try this song on for size  It's one of the most bizarre songs I've heard in the last 58 years (I started listening to music at 8). I like it and I don't understand it. It will not become an earworm.

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Pencil

 I found this doing research. I had no idea that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was the No. 1 poorest in the country. Is it OK to help some? You've heard of Sitting Bull? The Little Big Horn? Ye olde Wounded Knee? 

Who is the the page-flip video guy? Find him! Watch this, it's short and good.  I've seen it 10x by now. Somebody just emailed, and I found out who he is. Apparently he's famous--so much for my unveiling. Well, I don't like the flip-page thing he did any less for that. He seems to be good and quick with words, and...here's his home page. 

Learn about the most needy children on the poorest Indian Reservation in the country, and then let's givem money. Here's a short page and a super short video.

Let's raise $10,000, OK? Here's how we do it. There are so many needs, but let's focus on one--or not--here's how to donate. It's to help the most unfortunate children on the reservation, victims of various kinds of abuse. It's a lean program. A foundation contributes not enough to pay salaries and care for the kids, so they need help. Your dollars will do tremendous good. I spoke with the director for 25 minutes or so, and we'll have more info later, but for now...

Donate $20 to $200 between now and July 1, and we'll credit your account for half that. If you're really rich and feel like donating $1,000, that's great, but we're topping out, creditwise, at $100. Send proof of your donation (a screenshot of your receipt or something) to 

                        info@rivbike.com

Don't send it to me. I'll see them all, but James gets these and he's more organized than I am. In the subject, put

PINE    and then YOUR NAME

Like:  PINE    Lenny Kingsford 

Please send the screenshot from the email address you use to shop with us - or tell us which email you use. You must have an account to get credit.

These are the Native Americans that were slaughtered in 1890 at the battle at Wounded Knee—on their reservation. We have already dontated $2,200 donated as a company, but we'll match half of your donations, too. It's not that complicated, it'll go like this:

You give $20 and email us the proof with PINE YOUR NAME.

We credit you $10...but give us till June 15 to do that. We won't lose track.

We'll ALSO send the reservation $10 if you give $20, OR $25 if you give $50. But shoot for $20.

So your $20 donation will give the reservation $30, and you get $10 Rivcredit.

If history can predict the future, I'll get at least three emails saying YOU never PERSONALLY hurt a Native American, so why should you? Or recommending some other group we should be supporting instead. Please no, we're just plugging away, trying not to hurt anybody. 

WE HAVE NOT BEEN DIVERTED OR DILUTED. WE ARE DIVERSIFYING. 

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Speaking of which...

This conservative guy is all for reparations.

It's a column in the Washington Post. 

 PENCIL

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Kent P. sends me  interesting stuff, like this link. The comments are entertaining, too. Hoo boy. It makes me wonder what's coming up. It reminds me of the C.O.N.I. manual (cyclingsomething officialesomething nationalesomething italiasomething), a book/guide to the right way to ride a bike according to Italian cycling coaches for the national race team in the early '70s. That's by memory. I remember it when it was at its peak influence in the use. 

I think it was there that I read that the ideal weight distribution on a bike is 45front wheel / 55backwheel. Maybe it was just for racing, but things "just for racing" have always cast too wide-a net, and my friends and I and presumably thousands of others under the CONI spell would get on our bikes with front and rear wheels on separate scales and check.

Imagine the fretting and the set-up and position changes trying to achieve that. And what possible benefit? A sudden Hulk-like transformation of strength or speed or efficiency..never came. There are so many holes and exceptions in that 45/55 idea. 

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It is interesting to get older as I ride. I try not to use the word "interesting" when there is a more specific way to say what I am trying to say, but I can't do that without tons of many more many more words.

It takes me an hour to warm up. An easy uphill slope, not even a "climb," but even a 100 yard elevation gain of ten feet feels hard when I'm cold. I mean, unnervingly hard, shocking and embarrassing (if it weren't private) hard. I can describe it as hard, but it's harder than I'm saying.

Once I'm warm, I can almost pedal without tiring. When things are good, I feel as though I can go as hard as I could at 28, 38 years ago. The next sentence doesn't follow, but I wanted to get that one out. A few times a year I ride with new much younger riders--not like a group, but individuals. Friends, son-in-law, etc. Usually they assume they're going to "hold me back." I used to get that a lot, so maybe I'm assuming something that's not true, but I'm locked into my old-younger self that way. Obviously you can see where this is going. I gasp to keep up. I don't ride miserably, I just go harder than I'd go alone and faster than I ride with my normal pals.

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My attitude about bike parts has changed during ye olde pandemic, it's changed with the shortages, the shortages that don't leave room for certain kinds of high horses and aesthetic snobberies. It doesn't ramshackly my deep-core historic preferences, but it's liberating to now be not just 90 percent OK with-for-example, black derailers, but 100 percent, and maybe even 102 percent--which pushes them into ye olde preference realm. My personal bikes haven't been exemplary for twenty-five years, ever since my concerns shifted from how's my bike look to others? to dang, can this business survive?and I just want a bike that works. I like parts packages that look intentional, not pre-selected by a SRAMANO rep, and I don't like inyourface cache parts. I like to use parts that I know inside and out, the history of, like Silver shifters, Monach pedals, the NITTO struff, Tosco bars, things we've developed. To me it's like building a house and then living in it, as opposed to building it and not.

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 Clothing news: We will soon (three months?) have KNICKERS again. They've been our worst-selling items of MUSA clothing ever, but my personal favorite cycling thing ever. We've modified the design, so if you love your current ones, you'll naturally be bummed about these, which are less like Hammerpants. They're basically like the MUSA pants, the current version, but are 5-inches shorter in the legs, and have a velcro-'lastics cinch at the bottom, and a different belt arrangement, and will come in two colors and fabrics. One, the same semistretchy gray as the current pants; the other, brown---a rare color, I think we can all agree, for cycling wear...although as usual, our bike clothes don't look like bike clothes.

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Pencil

I am finishing Notes of a Native Son, by James Baldwin. I'm going to show three consecutive pages of it, in which he writes about his dad's funeral, in Harlem. His dad wasn't a nice man--he told James, as a kid, that he was the ugliest child he'd ever seen, that he looked like a frog. But anyway, the writing is spectacular. Skip over if you aren't into it, and no harm no nothing. Ignore my highlights--I do that to books and I did it for me, not you. OK:

 

 

Pencil

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No more mailboxes. I'll put them in the next BLAHG. The regular mailbox thing was over a month ago, and the next was supposed to be only mailbox posts/supports. But ... got a lot of more mailboxes. I"ll put 'em up, but give me time.

OK!

G

 

p.s.

Here are four more magnificent pages from Notes From a Native Son, James Baldwin. Some amazing passages, worth fifty dollars each. The scene is...and it's autobiographical: He is 24 years old, he went to Europe with $40 in his pocket to write his first book, Go Tell It on the Mountain. He's in France most of the time, but he has a friend who has a relative who lives in Switzerland, and thru that connexion he goes to a village there, and is likely the first Black person ever to go there. The top third of the second page is the most amazing writing I've read, but there's a lot of good in here. I won't make this a habit. The most  important thing in this BLAHG is the donation page, for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Don'd forget about that, OK? Now here's this, and then that's it.

 

 

 Here's the donation page again: 

here's how to donate.