Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for November, 2006

Cold, Dark, and Muddy

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

I rode the North Tower Loop tonight. It was completely dark by the time I got there. I’ve been dying to get out and ride, and I’m glad I did, but the conditions were not great. It was cold, and it was a lot muddier than I expected. I hope the trails dry out somewhat in the next few days. There wasn’t much activity at Brown County tonight; I only saw one other guy biking, and just a few cars.

The jogging suit I bought at Wal-Mart worked really well. I was chilly before I started riding, but once I got going, I was actually a bit hot. I unzipped the jacket most of the way, but I still felt a little warmer than I would’ve liked. And when I was done, I was absolutely freezing.

I learned something interesting about my LED mini maglite tonight. When the batteries get low, it doesn’t get much dimmer — which would be great, except that instead, the thing just suddenly turns off completely. It was a bit inconvenient to have that happen while I was riding.

I’m hoping to get a lot of riding in over the holiday weekend. The forecast looks great! I’ve got Friday off, and might go to Versailles State Park that day.

So which card are you?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

I, Squub pointed me to this WFMU blog posting by about one of Bank of America’s employees singing a modified version of U2’s “One” at a corporate conference celebrating their merger with MBNA. (See the video on YouTube) The singer, bank manager and independent musician Ethan Chandler, modified the lyrics to fit the occassion — see the WFMU blog for examples.

Apparently, this has caused quite an uproar, McClung saying that “it shows the crassness of corporate culture,” the YouTube comments are mostly along the same lines, and Squub is disgusted as well, calling it “cringeworthy.” He quotes the following lines:

“And we’ll make lots of money. Forever I can sing about trusting in teamwork and doing the right thing. We’ll live out our core values while the competition crawls, ‘cause they want what we have got.”

I don’t find any of this even remotely offensive. What is the purpose of a corporation if not to make lots of money? Who cares if they want to sing a song while doing it? Squub points out that they’re talking about values, yet not demonstrating any values. That may be true, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with a merger, and they aren’t demonstrating a lack of values in any other way, either (Keep in mind that I know basically nothing about this merger aside from this). Besides, lots of people talk about values and never really follow through — in no way is that specific to corporations.

I view this in the same way I view a lot of corporate feel-goodery. I think it’s silly, and I wouldn’t be motivated by it, but I do find it extremely amusing. In fact, I think that Chandler’s adaptation of the song is in fact quite clever. Not to mention that the guy can sing!

At one point in my conversation with Squub, he asked, “Is this a political discussion?” It may not be directly political, but I do think politics have a lot to do with it. I happen to believe that wanting to make lots of money can be a good motivator. Some people find this focus on money revolting.

So, who’s right? Is this a harmless, silly corporate motivational song, or is this an example of disgusting corporate greed infringing upon art?

I’d ponder it some more, but I need to get back to making lots of money for my company.

Helmet-Mounted Biking Light On The Cheap

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

When I learned that a lot of mountain bikers like to ride at night, I thought they were insane. When I found out how much some lighting systems cost, I knew they were insane. Take, for instance, this HID light system, on sale for $400. Not all of them are that expensive, and that’s one badass lighting system at 12 watts, rechargeable battery, etc. However, many mountain bikers shell out $200 or more per light for their lighting systems, and many have two lights, one for their helmet, and one for their handlebars.

I could never justify spending that kind of money on a light. Hell, my whole bike cost about $500. Dave and I had used some cheapo flashlights he bought from K-Mart (a 3-pack for $10 or so), which we duct taped to our helmets, but those really didn’t cut it. Riding was possible, but extremely difficult. I knew there had to be a better way.

I already had a mini maglite, but I didn’t think it was bright enough. I bought a 3-watt LED mini maglite for a little over $20. I planned to duct tape it to my helmet, but Sarah came up with a brilliant idea. She bought some Velcro cable ties at Staples and used them to attach the light to my helmet, using the ventilation holes.

Helmet Light (top)
Zip ties attaching the mini maglite to my helmet.

It takes a little bit of messing around with it to get the angle right; in my case, I angle the light up as much as possible so I don’t have to hold my head too high when I’m riding. But, the Velcro zip ties hold very well, cost little, and don’t leave sticky residue on my helmet like duct tape would.

10.14.06 012
Front view of “headlight.”

I’ve been using my older, non-LED maglite on my handlebars, also attached with Velcro zip ties. It’s a little trickier getting that one aimed how I want it; I end up using the mounting bracket for my GPS, which I had to angle down a bit, but now it’s pretty good. Ultimately, I want to replace the handlebar flashlight with a brighter LED one — then I’ll be set!

I haven’t tried this setup on the road; the main concern on the road tends to be making sure that cars can see you; for that, I’d recommend lights that blink, a white one in the front and a red one in the back. Something like this might work to supplement the safety lights and improve your vision.

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