Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comment moderation enabled

After struggling with Firefox while trying to remove comment spam, I've decided it's easier to simply enable comment moderation. From now on, all comments will have to be approved before they're posted. I apologize to those of you who post comments during the day. I cannot access the internet from work, so any moderation has to wait until I get home.

Again, my apologies for the delay, but I truly hate spammers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Job opening

Muse wanted at CycleDog

Thalia, the Muse of comedy, abruptly resigned from her unpaid intern assignment here at CycleDog, citing the lack of pay as a reason. Thalia is certainly sweet, but she's not the brightest Muse. Her resignation has created an opening for a qualified individual, gifted in humor and satire. The job requires some light sarcasm, typing, filing, and answering the telephone.

Some less than stellar Muses have applied for the position. Given the current economy and the high level of unemployment, competition for this opening has been unusually keen.

Phartra - the Muse of embarrassing bodily noises - was the first candidate. She was rejected for obvious reasons as this is a very small office.

Hurlotta - the Muse of drunken frat parties - was next on the list, but she showed up three and a half hours late with her clothing slightly askew and with eyes as red as stop lights.

Snap-On-Ica - the Muse of lost tools - managed to lose her pen, her purse, and even the job application, and did all this within ten feet of the front door.

Erotica - the Muse of porn - arrived wearing a trench coat and nothing else. Unfortunately, I was out at the time. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed gave Erotica the heave-ho.

Bellowica - the Muse of German opera - showed up but she gave me a headache. I have to admit, she was thorough and punctual, but she was very loud and the spear kept poking holes in the wallpaper.

Barrista and Cafe Latte both arrived at the same time, which was a little awkward. Barrista is the Muse of espresso, while Cafe Latte is the muse of skinny-decaf-no-foam-cappuccinos. They immediately traded verbal barbs that quickly devolved to fisticuffs in the alley out back. Personally, my money is on Espresso Girl as Cafe Latte doesn't look strong enough to defend herself.

Bubba Ignatowski, the Muse of the NFL draft and former Chippendale, is perfectly qualified according to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and I had to think deeply about getting rid of him. She was positively glowing. His rock-hard six pack compares unfavorably to my more buoyant one. I told him that Erotica and Hurlotta were down at Larry's Cafe drowning their sorrows and he was gone within seconds. She-Who-etc. lost the glow and shifted back to her usual glare leveled in my direction.

Wally offered to be a part-time Muse, but I declined his offer. He'd just drink all my beer and spend the rest of the time snoring on the couch. I can do that myself.

The interviews haven't turned up a suitable candidate, so if you know any out of work Muses, feel free to inform them of this available job.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mea culpa

Yes, I'm falling behind on posting photos. I've had a busy week that included both some much-needed family time and overtime at work, so between all that and my pernicious habit of falling asleep every night, writing and photography have suffered.

On Tuesday night, I went to the first FreeWheel seminar about this year's cross-state ride. It was standing room only! Amazing! The route is along the eastern part of the state, and is described as 'scenic'. That means hilly. But it also gives participants the opportunity to visit Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri in one week. Read the report over on the Examiner site.

Just because I haven't posted any photos doesn't mean I haven't taken any.

This is one of my co-workers - back when he had hair. The photo dates from the mid-70s. The car is, or was, green. This is what happens to old photos as the dyes degrade. The dyes are organic compounds that slowly change over time. I've tinkered with this image in an effort to restore some of the original colors, but it's beyond my ability for now.

This is a classic 'brick' camera, an Argus C3. Argus made these for about 20 years. This particular model was produced during WW2. My mom found it at a garage sale somewhere in Georgia or South Carolina.

Here's the interesting part of the C3, the case. There's a name inside: Ray W. Pratt from Bradenton, Florida. The address includes a zip code, so it was written probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I tried to locate a Ray Pratt in Bradenton without success.

Shiny objects! Here's a set of Craftsman ignition wrenches that I use at work, along with a Snap-On 1/8th inch wrench and an antique Blue Point wrench. Snap-On and Blue Point wrenches have tiny stamps that identify the year of manufacture. The Blue Point is from 1949, and the Snap-On is from 1980, if I recall right. Like many tools, I needed the 1/8th for just one job and nothing else fit properly. That single wrench cost more than the set of Craftsmans.

Also, there's news on the Yashica Electro 35 GT front. I suspected an intermittent connection at the negative battery terminal. The spring on the negative side goes right through the camera case and has two wires (if I recall right) soldered to it. The connection is buried under the rangefinder assembly, so to reach it, I removed the top case and the rangefinder, only to find perfectly good wiring. Hmmmm. What about the positive end? The camera chassis is neutral, that is, it's not connected to the electrical system, so it's not a consideration. The positive connection comes from a wave washer installed on the battery cover. It contacts a small ring set into the chassis. The ring is visible just under the bottom cover, and there are two red wires soldered to it.

On the GLN I gave to Wade, there's a small paper dot that indicates the positive end applied to the center of the battery cover. I carefully pried up the wave washer so it would definitely contact the ring. Viola! The camera worked....for a while. Then the connection went away again. The wave washer doesn't seem to have much spring to it, so maybe that little piece of paper provides just enough stand off for it to maintain a slight curve. I bent the washer again, but I don't want to make this a regular practice. It's bound to break eventually.

So I'll try a thin piece of paper or plastic in there tomorrow....after I recalibrate the rangefinder. Yep, all that handling put the adjustment off. It now focuses beyond infinity, much to the annoyance of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed as I wandered through the house shouting, "To infinity and beyond!" all evening. She just doesn't have my finely attuned sense of humor.

There are more photos, but they can wait until tomorrow.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Avatar: Threat or menace?

"I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. ".....Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal.

Numerous voices are united in criticism of James Cameron's Avatar. American neo-cons decry its seeming condemnation of capitalism and use of the military against an indigenous people. An anti-smoking group finds cigarette use in the movie highly offensive. The Vatican objects to the glowing portrayal of animism as a religious force, and even the Chinese pulled the film from theaters, thinking it's a polemic about their treatment of the Tibetans.

I have a serious ideological issue with Cameron's movie as well. It doesn't have a single bicycle in it.

Oh, sure, there are various transportation devices, all of them machines. And Pandora's natives, the Na'vi, have domesticated flying whatchamacallits. We all know the huge energy requirements of air and land machines, but any society with large animals devotes enormous resources to feeding and maintaining those animals. So even the big, green Na'vi aren't really so....green. They could do much better by adopting wiser land use policies, switching to Na'vi-powered locomotion, and giving up their oppressive domination of the flying whatevers.

There isn't a single mention of sharing the road, sustainable transportation, or vehicular cycling in the whole movie! Was this an oversight on Cameron's part or was it a deliberate slight? We may never learn the truth, but it's just another example of Hollywood's underhanded attempt to malign bicycle culture and promote machines and even subjugated animals in preference to our obviously superior transportation mode.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend posts

She's rapidly turning into my favorite model...mainly because she works almost for free.  This is my daughter the shopping maven.  We were out on Saturday at the Tulsa flea market, various thrift shops, and Gardner's Books, the latter a favorite of my kids since they were toddlers.  This shot was taken in the cafe using window light, and I think it turned out well.  She's giving me the oh-so-patient "Stupid Father Look" which will someday morph into the Stupid Husband Look.  I'm in no hurry to see that happen.  

All these shots were taken with a Yashica Electro 35 GLN, the same camera I purchased at last week's flea market.  I cleaned the exterior and the rangefinder assembly, installed new seals and a new battery, and exercised the shutter.  It works fine but may be underexposing a bit.  I gave this camera to a friend yesterday.  He's going to run more film through it, and if it's consistently underexposed I'll adjust the autoexposure diaphragm.  It's very possible to install a voltage regulator in one of these cameras - lots of space.  So I'll look into building a 5.6v regulator also.

Here she is in the stacks.  A few days ago, I did a similar shot of her mother.  Neither of them like to be photographed.  I like the way the rectangular pattern of her coat seems to be the same as the more of less rectangular patterns of the books.

I staked out the Dungeons and Dragons reference book rack, hoping that someone would pause long enough for a snapshot.  I was not disappointed.  It drew an eclectic group of people, but I never realized it was a spot that encouraged spontaneous worship.  Maybe there's more to this D&D stuff than I realized.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday and Friday

Canon Canonet.  Exposure unrecorded.  Kodak ISO400 film with an orange filter.

She-Wh0-Must-Be-Obeyed doesn't like to be photographed, so I have to be sneaky.  The Canonet is ideal for that.  The lens is a 40mm f1.7, so taking photos by available light works well.  This was inside our local library where Mary usually has an armful of books for me to carry out.  Yesterday was no exception.  She had 13 when we left!

 Canon A590IS, ISO200, f5.5, 1/10sec.

This is Mark, one of my co-workers.  He's wearing a pair of binocular magnifiers with 6 LEDs on the front that light up his work.  I've relied on the same type of magnifiers whenever I have to do close work, but mine do not have LEDs!  Oh the humanity!  

My daughter laughed as I worked on that camera a few nights ago because - according to her - I looked like a geek.  Well...yes...but I'm a professional electronics geek, not an ordinary idiot.

I gotta get me some of them lights.  Hmmm, both visible and ultraviolet would be nice...


Thursday, January 14, 2010


Sorry, no photos today because (gasp!) I was shooting film.  Yes, real Kodak black and white film.  It will be back from the processors tomorrow, so I'll post more photos then.  

I'm tired, but it's a good kind of tired.  I'm looking forward to the weekend.  Management didn't ask for overtime this weekend as I'd feared, so I get two entire days off.  Wonderful!

Still, I couldn't go without posting something.  Believe me, while there are some broad-minded people here in Oklahoma, they're not this broad-minded.  


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday photos

This is a long exposure, basically the idea I want to pursue with some of this nightime photography.  This was taken with the Canon A590IS with an ISO80, f2.8, for 15 seconds.  Yes, 15 seconds.  That red streak is my son driving by in the car.  I like the way the headlights lit the road.  And I also like the very low noise in this photo, so much unlike the one from earlier in the week.

This is much the same shot without the car going by.  Several of them drove up the hill, but their headlights overpowered the camera.  I want to try 'painting' a foreground object with a powerful flashlight too.  But it was getting cold, my batteries were about shot, and dinner was waiting.

This is interesting too.  It's a power supply board with a burnt-out thermistor and capacitor.  When this thing went, it shot tiny balls of molten metal onto an adjacent circuit board.  It looked almost like weld spatter.  The weird thing was the computer still worked.  I'm hoping the board isn't badly charred under the thermistor, or it's very possible the card will be scrap.  At about $12,000 a piece, I really hesitate to scrap them.  I've been trained to repair multi-layer boards like this, so it may be salvageable.  Still, board repair work is tedious and very time-consuming.

All in all, I've had a good day!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is it still only Tuesday?

Here's the source of much frustration.  This is the Yashica Electro 35 GT that has an intermittent electrical problem.  In looking at the schematic, I concluded that the only point in common with both problems (exposure and battery check circuits) was the negative battery terminal.  It's buried under the rangefinder assembly inside the top cover.  

Notice the cute little pigs on my bandana.  I'd prefer a solid color in case I dropped a small part.  It's easier to find that way.  But this was the only one I had on hand.  Also, notice the paint tray from Hobby Lobby.  These are very useful for holding and organizing small parts, but I can't use it at work because it's not safe in an electromagnetic discharge environment.    

This is the rangefinder assembly.  It's held in place by two small screws, one of them inside the assembly where you have to be careful about touching or scratching the parts.  It comes out as a unit, revealing the negative battery terminal in all it's pristine glory.  Yep, it appears to be just fine.  No corrosion.  No frayed wires.  And of course, I don't have a probe that will allow me to check it here at home.  Grrr.

Worse, I don't want to take it into work because the FAA is out and about this week.  I've never had problems with one of their inspectors (knock on wood) and I don't want to start now.

The Kodak has a high ISO setting that automatically chooses a very fast speed in low light conditions.  I haven't really played with it much, so before leaving for work I shot these two images.  And naturally, I forgot to disable the flash when I took the first one!   It's slightly creepy since the flash washed out all the color.

This one actually looks better reduced than it did in the full-size version.  The noise is very apparent in the bigger one.  I'll try this again with the tripod and a much lower ISO.  It would have been interesting to do that this morning, but first, I was in a hurry to get to work and second, we had freezing fog out there.  Honestly, it was just below freezing and a mist hung in the air.  The cold and damp seemed to go straight to my bones.  I've been chilled all day.

As I said yesterday, this would be another busy day.  Two of our cats were to go to the vets to be neutered this morning, so they were not allowed anything to eat or drink after midnight.  That meant Mary picked up all the food and water.  At 3AM, a crowd of hungry, thirsty cats stormed the bedroom door carrying torches and pitchforks.  OK, they really didn't do that.  They just sat in the hallway meowing.  Mittens - the geriatric female - sat out there and howled.  I was ready to kill all of them.  

At mid-morning, I came home to take the toms to the vets.  Mary doesn't drive, so it was my responsibility.  "Yeah, see what happens when you guys piss me off?  Snip, snip, snip!" I chortled.

Mary gave me a level stare.  "Just see what happens when you piss ME off!" she said.

I'm staying out of her way tonight. 

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Cyclists protest Facebook hate site

It's over on the Examiner.

And, yes, I do have some photos today, but I'll post them tomorrow. I've been berry, berry busy tonight. Let's see, we had another venture into the Mouth of Hell this afternoon and we got off easy. More on that tomorrow. And of course, since Mary and I were out and about, there was shopping to be done.

The photos are of the disassembled Yashica Electro 35 GT. It had an intermittent. It still has an intermittent. Grrrrr. My frustration threshold was exceeded. One positive note, though, and that's about the Electro GSN. I exercised the shutter, cleaned the battery contacts, and generally cleaned it up. It worked! The shutter worked perfectly without any odd noises.

I'm whupped. It's been a busy day and there will be another busy one tomorrow. It includes taking two male cats off to the vets to get snipped. I watched a vet do this once, and believe me, it made me want to keep my legs crossed at all times.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday's photo

Canon A590IS ISO80 f2.6 1sec

This is not a good photo.  It's a test of what I'd like to do.  I can convert the exposure information for a film camera.  The view is a shopping area just north and west of home.  In the foreground is a dimly lit road and sidewalk.  My flash went off, and when I compared this shot with a subsequent one without flash, I decided to include the flash photo here.  The road curves off to the left.  My plan is to set up a camera on a tripod and make an exposure as a car goes by.  The headlights should light up the sides of the road and the tail lights will leave long red streaks.  I'm planning to do this in with both color film and black and white.

When I took those shots this morning, it was 7F.  I did not want to spend much time out there, and handling the tripod was something I'd rather not contemplate.  It was butt-freezing cold!  Fortunately, the weather is moderating.  Our high today was just above freezing and tonight's low is supposed to be 27.  The next couple of days will be warmer, and I'm thankful for that.  Normally, a winter blast here lasts only two or three days.  This one has been around since Christmas Eve.    

Also, since two of our cable controllers seem to be faulty, I spent an exasperating amount of time wading through the voice menus for Cox Cable's tech services.  Let's just say it left me spittin' and swearin'....and it was unsuccessful so I have to do it again....tomorrow.  I'm not prepared for that level of frustration twice in one day.

Ford's twittering car

I just posted a bit of satire over on the Examiner about Ford's new line of internet-capable vehicles.  Just because you're driving doesn't have to mean you're not connected.  

Also, there will be a new photo post here later today.   

New Examiner piece

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Well, just to prove that I'm in league with the devil, here are a few shots of today's purchase.  Yep, it's another Yashica Electro 35.  This one is a GSN, one of the late production units.  Notice how that shiny chromed surface picks up all the reds in my Mickey Mouse bandana!

There's a kind of method in my madness.  You see, I'm planning to disassemble this black GT later today in order to reach the negative battery terminal.  It's buried directly under the rangefinder assembly.  The GT has an intermittent.  The camera's schematic shows two current paths, one for the battery test circuit, the other for the autoexposure mechanism.  Both are intermittent and the only common part of the circuit is that negative terminal.  This should be interesting.  If I really screw up, I can use the GSN as a model for reassembling the GT.  

Naturally, the GSN seems to have problems of its own.  Everything mechanical seems to work well.  The battery compartment is free of corrosion.  The rangefinder seems to be calibrated properly.  The only defect I've discovered is an odd noise when the shutter is depressed.  It's an electrical noise and sounds like a component burning out.  I wouldn't be surprised to find a failing capacitor or circuit board, but given that I'm a professional electronics geek, fixing it shouldn't be difficult.

I bought this at the flea market in Tulsa this morning.  The seller is going out of business.  He was intent on selling me a few more cameras, and while I admit I was tempted by a pair of Zenit SLRs, they were both dented, inoperative, and missing some parts.  No thanks.  For some odd reason, I've been fascinated by Russian Feds and Zorkis.  Perhaps this will pass.  Perhaps not.

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Friday, January 08, 2010


It's been a tough week here in the CycleDog ranchero.  I haven't had enough sleep, leaving me more than a little grouchy and irritable.  Naturally, the writing suffers.  I simply can't develop good ideas when I'm half asleep.  Oh, I have some ideas, but following through is the hard part. Also, I said I'd do a photo per day, and I'm trying to stick to that.  They may not be good photos, but we'll see how the project develops over time.


Look what I found buried in my toolbox!  That's a Campy head for a Silca frame pump.  As far as I know, it's never been used.  I wonder what else is in there?  


This is very likely the reason for the recent (and expensive) repair to the Kodak Z1285.  I like those wrist straps, but apparently the furry hooligans like them too.


Finally, this is the thermometer on our porch.  I took this just before leaving for work this morning while Duchess the Wonder Dog searched for that last blade of grass she hasn't peed on yet.  She searches much, much faster when it's this cold.

Steve A asked when I was planning to post more shots from the film cameras.  I have some ideas involving the ISO1600 test photos I did earlier.  I'm thinking of using the digital cameras to photograph area buildings at night, and then use the resulting images and camera settings to make film exposures.  In effect, this uses the digital camera as a glorified light meter.  I may be out doing that tomorrow morning, or, since I'm feeling halfways asleep already (and it's only 930PM) I may just sleep late tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tuesday photos

Canon A590IS

There are two photos today.  This first one is a snapshot taken as I walked out the front door this afternoon.  She's the reason we have tiny paw prints across the cars.  This cat is a stray we've named 'Baby.'  She's not feral as she's quite sociable.  In fact, she's something of an attention sponge.  Baby will gently bite my hand when she needs some affection.  She's also fond of grabbing my hand between her paws and drawing it over toward her head for some ear scratching.


Mary and I came across this in the grocery store last night.  Look carefully.  It's Pepsi made with REAL SUGAR not corn sweetener.  Some Mexican groceries carry imported sodas made with real sugar.  They charge premium prices for it and the stuff sells out rapidly.  This is the first time I've seen this product in the mainstream grocery.

I bought it as a special treat for Mary, but she'll have to be very careful of the sugar content.  Each can has 40 grams!  This will be for special occasions and she'll have to split the can with Lyndsay.  


Monday, January 04, 2010

Monday photo

Kodak Z1285

This was just outside the library this afternoon.  Our high temperature was only 25F, but the snow and ice on the roof were melting in the bright sunshine.  The melt water dripped off the eaves forming these icicles on the garden outside.  I like the colors and the backlight.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Here's an idea...

There's another Tulsa blogger who publishes one photo per day. Sadly, I can't remember where I ran across his site, but it did give me the idea to do much the same thing. This blog is branching out into other areas, most notably some photography, so it would push me to make a daily post. And since this would be a daily event, it would require that I use the digital cameras more than the older 35mm and 120 ones. For that matter, it could force me to learn more about photo editing software too.

Did you notice the use of 'push' and 'force' up above? That's another way of saying that I need a stimulus to get off my duff and get some writing and photography done. I tend to procrastinate. It's one of my talents. I'm even toying with the idea of purchasing the Write or Die application.

Also, I've been on vacation since the nineteenth, and being off work leads to an excess of sloth. I haven't been writing because I simply didn't feel like doing it. A nap on the couch was preferable. That all changes at 4AM tomorrow morning.

As for photos, well, I didn't take any on January first, so these will have to be the start:

Canon A590IS

Yes, those are my enormous feet encased in slightly disreputable slippers.  I was watching a horror movie on SyFy - Midnight Meat Train, if I recall right - wherein a street photographer takes photos of people late at night on the streets of (presumably) New York.  Honestly, the sound was off most of the time as the movie was fairly predictable.  But I started to wonder about the possibility of taking nighttime photos.  I set up the Canon A590IS at ISO1600 and took that photo.  In the full-size shot the noise is very apparent, but it's considerably less so in this smaller version.  Still, it gave me the idea to try some ISO1600 film in one of the faster cameras.

Canon A590IS

I awoke to find an inch or two of powder this morning, fluffy snowflakes that were more like goose down.  I swept it from the cars and while clearing the driveway, my push broom broke!  If I had any artistic ability, I would probably write some pretentious bullshit about the photo, but it just isn't in me.  Honest! The contrast just caught my attention.