Thursday, January 28, 2010

riche moguls

And now for some good news about our townhouse. We have a tenant, paying actual money. Hooray for us! During the brief spell between tenants, we decided to get the place painted and to have new carpeting installed. At $2.50ish per square foot, the carpet was a sizable cash outlay given the massive dimensions of our 3 story abode and given the temporary lack of rental income.

We didn't (don't) want to be real estate moguls, but there are benefits. The best part will be subsidized trips to NM thanks to the tax write-offs. We just need to get out there (seriously, we hope to take a trip sooner rather than later). It's also nice to own a piece of land (albeit a rather small, very dry piece), even if we don't get to touch it so often. As Delmar says, 'A man's not a man if he aint got land.'

Check out my bench-scale reverse osmosis system (the stainless steel stuff on the right). Also note the rust dripping down the wall from the scary metal trap door (maybe it was a coal shoot?). Our building has seen much, from making coke during WWII to studying coal mine tailings to now studying water treatment.
Other moguls are in our very near future.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The big freeze may be over, but we've entered the soggy zone. We've got melting snow, drizzle, fog, clouds, streams, ponds, and steam. Has anyone seen the sun?

But did I mention it's warmer now? In fact, it was so warm that we took Clara on a chariot ride through the cornfields. Below, you can see some snow, fog, and the wet road.
Clara was all snuggled up while sleeping in the chariot. The only time she got upset was when I was stopped to fix a flat tire.
Hard to believe, but this was Jill's first ride out on the farm roads since we moved here. All told, we probably rode 20 miles, a good start to our new family adventure riding. When we could see the scenery, Jill's reminisced on the rides of yore, like when she witnessed the slowest car-bike collision ever that led to a frivolous lawsuit against the young driver in which Jill was the key witness whose testimony was probably ignored though we never heard the outcome.
Great-Grandpa and -Grandma sent Clara some Christmas money, so she bought this multi-colored, striped sweater.
Finally, to get into our groove this morning, we tuned in to the Barry Manilow station on Pandora. The first 3 songs: Copa Cabana (Manilow), Hello (Lionel Richie), All out of love (Air Supply). Corn-syrupy sweet!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

bright lights in a small town

The final gifts that Santa brought us this year were new headlights for the bikes. We have generators located inside the front hub (Shimano DN-72, for those in the know) and had been using halogen headlights for the past several years. The halogen lights work quite well.

Photos of the beam patterns are poor because it was about 10 degrees and only mostly dark (I would have taken photos on an unlit road, but I feared dropping the camera en route.), and possibly icy when I took them. Anyway, here's the halogen beam on the wet/icy, somewhat lit road.
And here's the beam pattern from the new lights. Much brighter.
The new LED headlights (Lumotec IQ Cyo N) are just awesome. Not only are they way brighter, they have a standlight powered by a capacitor so that light still shines at stop lights.

In baby news, Clara just keeps getting cuter. She is interacting much more with us as well as some toys. And she can now do (make? bubble? blurb?) raspberries. On the other hand, she doesn't always sleep through the night lately, screaming for milk after about 4-6 hours of sleep.
With a face like that, we can't get too upset, can we?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

frozen wits

I don't think that the temperature exceeded 20 degrees at any point during the past week and a half. During times such as these, we may lack inspiration to bundle up and fight the cold outdoors. However, one must be careful after surrendering to indoor warmth. Another battle quickly ensues, the battle to maintain one's wits while trapped indoors.

Clara passed the 4 month mark without blog fanfare, I'm sorry to say. Sorry, Clara! Despite her advanced age, she's still a little thin on top. So we tried out a toupe, borrowing some hair from mommie. Nice, yes?
We rarely watch late night tv, but somehow we managed to catch a performance by Lady Gaga some time back. Internalizing her 'style' took some time, but I discovered my look if I ever see her in concert. Let's call it the 'punctual pirate'.
Let's also rejoice that the weather is getting nicer for the rest of the week.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

big snow, can ride

For my first 22 years, snow was a vacation event only. Since departing the Pacific coast, snow sometimes lands on my house, as 8" of the fluffy whiteness did this week.

While we were away, friends Rich and Nina shoveled our driveway and made a snowman family for us. This time, Jill flexed her strengthened-by-baby-carrying muscles and shoveled the whole thing herself.
We've seen lots of sunshine lately which warms the spirit despite temps rarely reaching 15 degrees. Bundled up between my coat and Jill's warm body, Clara doesn't mind the cold but does miss the sunshine.
Santa wasn't sure what to get me this year, so he let me order some toys for riding in the cold. These include studded tires (though the front wheel/tire in the photo was from Moscaline a couple years ago), ski helmet, goggles, and a couple items to be highlighted soon. Not the coolest look, but I'm warm and happy and not crashing.
I initially set up the Bianchi as a single speed with a 42-16 gear ratio, which gives the correct chainlength for the vertical dropout frame. After struggling through the snow, I changed to a 34 tooth chainring and added a rear derailer as a chain tensioner. Much better!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

y feliz new year

An advantage of not living in a middle-of-nowhere, paradise location is that family is not too far away. Towards the end of our Christmas vacation, the five remaining Smith family members visited MI for some more family fun.

The biggest excitement was playing Wii rock band. I avoided singing (no secret that I can't sing), but did play guitar and drums. Jill did it all. Drums were easily the hardest 'instrument' (no secret that I aint got rhythm). I didn't fail the medium level on guitar. Good fun!
We paid a visit to one of Jill's good friends from the olden days. Carrie's children were born a good number of years before Clara showed up. We had fun comparing our situations.
After returning the Urbana, we adjusted the jumpy chair to small person height and dropped Clara in. She thought it was okay.
Happy new year!