We got the wedding pictures from the photographer a week or so ago, and we’re really pleased. I’ve uploaded a handful below.
The wedding was an absolute blast, everything we could have hoped for and more. The entire weekend was filled with the people we love. Thank you all so much for coming, or for being with us in spirit. It wouldn’t have been the same without all of our wonderful family and friends.
So I’ve spent the last couple weeks making some adjustments to my bike. I’m pretty sure I’m done, at least until summer. You can see the original build here. After taking those pictures, I replaced the pedals with a set of MKS GR9s, which are decent, inexpensive platform pedals that accept toe clips. They’re great with street shoes, and the profile is a little bit narrower than my original pedals. I also added a set of half-clips from Velo Orange.
This spring I replaced the stock stem with a shorter one, also from Velo Orange. Along with the shorter stem, I fine-tuned my fit, shortening my reach. The result is much more comfortable. I also replaced my 16t rear cog with a 17t Rennen cog, as my original gearing was a little too tall for the stop-and-go traffic on my usual commute.
I ditched the steel fork in favor of a cheap carbon/aluminum cross fork that I scrounged up last year. A lot of people would argue that a carbon fork on a heavy steel bike is silly, but mostly I was interested in the disc brake tabs. Snow-clogged cantilevers are no fun in the winter, and I think I’ll add a front disc break next year. Dropping a pound of dead weight off the front isn’t a bad thing either, and I can’t discern any difference in the geometry with the new fork.
Most recently, I stitched some leftover leather onto the toe clips and added pair of VO alloy fenders. It looks like Albany is pretty wet in the spring, and commuting in the rain without fenders is a special sort of hell.
Finally, I scraped off the gaudy Surly logos. Personally, I think the end result is gorgeous. Here are some pictures, although the color balance is pretty crummy. I’ll try to get some outdoor shots tomorrow.
We had some nasty freezing rain last night, followed by snow this morning. Made for a real mess, but the ice was pretty, especially when the sun came out.
Erin and I have just moved into a very small apartment. It’s only for a few months, and we only moved the essentials, but it’s still quite cramped. Fortunately, I have experience storing bikes in kitchens. Some may remember my original DIY bike rack. That post got a lot of traffic, and many people complained about the crude construction.
Personally, I thought the original had a nice “beta-testing” feel to it. But after looking at the pictures again, I’ll concede that it was probably an alpha release.
For the whiners who are into sandpaper and staining, I proudly present Bike Rack 0.2:
Construction is the same. A 2×4 upright is held against a 2×4 plate, using a lag screw for tension. Slip-on stud hooks are used to hold the bikes. It’s still in beta, but I’ve added the following improvements:
- unsightly “STUD” stamps have been sanded off
- all pieces have been stained
This added nearly 15 minutes of labor, so in an emergency bicycle rack situation it may not be advisable.
While I was in Korea, I saved up a bit of money for a new bike. I haven’t had a new new bike since 5th grade, so the whole thing has been pretty exciting. I bought it in October from the Outpost of Manistee. Kyle is a good friend and working with him is always a pleasure.
I looked at a number of options before going with a Surly Cross-Check. I added lighting, a rack, and a good lock. After a few months of riding, tweaking the fit, and swapping out a few parts, I’ve got a bike that I really enjoy. Here are some pictures from our ride today:
The stock cyclocross tires have been swapped with a cheap pair of 28c tires from my LBS. I replaced the saddle with a Brooks B17 Narrow, and stitched on some elk-hide bar covers from Velo Orange. The brake levers have been swapped out with Cane Creek SCR-5s. These are actually almost identical to the Tektro levers that came with the bike, but I wanted something brown to (sort of) match the bars. They’re slightly narrower than the Tektro levers and much more comfortable for my hands.
Finally, I’ve added a computer and a bell. I’ve never been a fan of bells, but it’s handy on sidewalks and bike trails. Yelling “on the left” as I zip past always seems sort of rude.
For me, this is the perfect commuter. It’s fast enough, handles well, and the steel frame is a blast to ride. It’s nice, but not obscenely expensive. And I love the way it looks.
Since Erin and I are both back in East Lansing this winter, it’s time for another round of pond pictures.
For those that don’t know the story, this is a pond that Erin and I discovered while living in the university apartments. These were older buildings, next to the express-way and the train tracks. There was a surprising amount of swampy, wooded land near-by, and it made for fun exploring when we were bored.
The pond itself is shaped like two perfect rectangles; I’m assuming it was a borrow pit left from the construction of the express-way. If you’re curious, you can see it on Google Maps.
This was our first trip this year. It was a beautiful day for a walk, and I wanted to check the ice conditions. I looks like there’s enough ice for skating, but the surface is pretty rough. We’ll need to get a patch cleared off and see if it smooths out.
Here are some pictures:
Here are two galleries of photos from Bangladesh. I’ll do a longer write-up later, but I’ve got lessons to plan right now. Enjoy!
There’s been a lot happening lately. To summarize quickly:
- Regular classes ended the middle of July. After that, I taught two weeks of half-day “camps”. The first week was for students. The second was for general (non-English) teachers and people from the community. Both weeks were much easier than I’d expected.
- The first week of August, Erin and I taught classes at a teacher-certification course in Gangneung. Our topic was “Listening and Speaking Activities”. We didn’t really know what that mean, and neither did our students. It went alright, but was surprisingly stressful. We were well-paid, however. The extra money from this week completely paid for our trip to Bangladesh
- We went to Bangladesh! This was a hell of a trip. We were only there for nine days, to attend a friend’s wedding. It was quite an experience. I won’t go into details now, but look for a longer update (with pictures) tomorrow.
Our time here is winding down quickly, and we’ve got lots to do. Packages must get shipped home, paperwork must be filled out, the apartment needs to be cleaned, and eventually we’ll have packing to do. We’ve also got one more week of teaching, and some additional grad school work to accomplish before we leave.
We’re both pretty excited for the next step.
This weekend we took an amazing hike up Mureung Valley, near Donghae (about 45 minutes south of Gangneung).
Hiking is pretty popular in Korea, especially in Gangwondo. Every weekend, the parks fill up with people, and quite often a “hike” is actually filing up a big stone staircase in a line with hundreds of other people. Not exactly my idea of a good time.
If you get off the official path a bit, things are completely different. After walking up the path for about 20 minutes, we dropped down onto the river bed and rock-hopped upstream. There were a few people sunning themselves or having picnics, but we walked a few minutes upstream and had the whole river to ourselves.
We spent the day swimming in the river and lounging on the rocks. In the evening, a few more people showed up, and we set up camp. We pitched tents, cooked some food, and drank some beer. We hiked back down on Sunday, after more swimming and lunch.
I wish I’d known about the valley sooner, but I’ll definitely return before we leave.
Here are some photos. Also, I’m looking for feedback on the new photo system. I’ve wanted a Lightbox script of some sort to overlay my photos and display captions. Some of them run really slowly on my server, but I think I’ve found one that works. I’m still tweaking things, but let me know what you think.
CrunchBang Linux is awesome!
I don’t typically blog about the day-to-day geekiness involved in maintaining our small fleet of computers, but I have to recommend this distribution. It’s been on my laptop for about 36 hours, and I absolutely love it.
Our current network consists of:
- My Asus EeePC 901. It’s running Ubuntu 8.04. We use it for Skype, occasional browsing/productivity, and as a portable machine.
- Erin’s Dell E6400. This is her primary machine, and it’s running Ubuntu 9.04. It usually lives in the bedroom, but has been known to move around the apartment.
- Erin’s ancient Dell 600m. It’s connected to the TV. It has no working screen, wireless card, battery, PC slot, or USB ports, so it’s not good for much else. It’s running Windows XP, as the S-Video out doesn’t work under Linux.
- My Dell E1505. This is my primary machine, and it lives on the desk, connected to a couple external drives. It’s on pretty much 24/7, and gets used for just about everything. It serves files to all the other machines and functions as a desktop. This is the computer that’s now running CrunchBang.
I recently installed Ubuntu 9.04 on my Dell, but I just wasn’t pleased. It felt bloated and slow. To be fair, this machine runs an FTP server, a Samba file server and a DAAP server in addition to the usual desktop apps including Firefox, Skype, and a busy bittorrent client. It’s about 4 years old, and it was feeling sluggish. I’ve been meaning to set up an internet jukebox of some sort, maybe Jinzora, but that means adding a webserver and database to the mix. It was time for a lighter-weight OS.
Enter Crunchbang Linux. It’s built from a minimal Ubuntu installation, but without all of the bulk of full-fledged Ubuntu. You still get apt for package management and the very robust Gnome network tools. It uses the Openbox window manager, which is amazingly fast and configurable. The rest of the installed applications are an excellent compromise between features and speed.
Installation was a breeze, and I haven’t had a single problem. Lately I’ve felt that Ubuntu is focusing more and more on eyecandy and flashy new features, and I’m just not that interested. I’m tired of spending hours trimming the fat from the distro. So far, crunchbang performs impressively. Memory and CPU usage are lower, and everything feels snappier.
This isn’t a distribution for everyone. It requires some comfort with the terminal and configuration files, but it’s surprisingly easy. If you’re looking for a lightweight alternative to Ubuntu, I highly recommend it.
And just to prove that lightweight doesn’t mean ugly, check out a couple screenshots: