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Diary
By lm (Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 09:05:16 AM EST) (all tags)
In which lm relates much ado about a life of nothing.

Spoiler alert: there is no Whedon or Shakespeare or Seinfeld content.



A couple of years ago, I caught The Expendables on the telly. I was pleasantly surprised. Ensemble movies usually end up sucking canal water. But in The Expendables, Mickey Rourke put in a couple scenes that were really fantastic acting wise and the non-stop action was really fun.

So I was looking forward to the day when Expendables 2 hit Netflix streaming. I was disappointed. It lacked all of the fun of the first one. I think the 2 in the title is less because it's a sequel and more because there are only 2 scenes in the entire movie worth watching, both of which involve cameo performances rather than anything related to the plot.

If they make another sequel, I hope they reduce the cast to just Jason Statham and Jet Li. At least then the fight scenes will be worth watching.

:: :: :: :: ::

My youngest daughter has been in Nepal for two weeks. The only communication we've had with her in that time has been a brief voice mail that she left when she arrived in Kathmandu and the two short posts she left on the message board of the project she's with. The first of these show some penetrating insight that is unusual for a sixteen year old.

If someone had asked me last night what my first impression of Nepal was, I would have no doubt replied that it was the colors. The constant lush green, the rainbow of clothing, and the boldly painted buildings create a brilliant backdrop to the colorful culture of Nepal.

Now however, it would take me longer to reply. The vibrancy of the color in Nepal was definitely my first impression in a strictly visual sense. But because in the past day and a half I have been introduced to so many intricacies of the culture here, it is hard to even decide when I can properly have an accurate impression, let alone express it.
 [Colors]

The second has a humorous bit about her host family's reaction to me.

Some of the highlights include when I got to show my baa a photo of my dad, who he now strongly believes is a true gentleman (from only seeing the picture), all of the times I had to coax one of my new goat friends off of the stairs going up to my room, which was conveniently located above my family’s water buffalo, and conquering my fear of leeches.
[Midpoint]

She has another two weeks to go. I'm suspecting that she'll have a strong case of culture shock when she gets back home. Last summer she spent half the time on a Blackfoot reservation in Montana to help build a stage for their Sun Dance festival. When I picked her up at the airport at 4am, the hustle and bustle of the sleeping city was spooking her after being acclimated to the silence of the night in the backcountry. It took her a while to readjust. I'm thinking that this readjustment is going to be harder.

:: :: :: ::

Speaking of readjustments, my eldest daughter is back home for the summer between her sophomore and junior years at college. It's hard for both of us to get used to living with the other. As an RA this past year, she's had quite a bit of responsibility, and a single unit to herself. Now she has to share the apartment with her family and her room with her sister. There's a whole different dynamic at play being part of a group of folks sharing space over being alone.

She found a summer job more quickly than I had anticipated. She interviewed at a Italian restaurant located in the same complex as our apartment building. She went in for an interview and they told her that they don't hire summer workers. She came home kind of bummed out. The next day they called back saying that they had fired someone for being drunk on the job and could she please start right away.

Sometimes, it's all about the timing.

:: :: ::

For the past month I've been riding my new (to me) bike to work everyday. It's good fun riding a vintage single speed through the city and down the bike path wearing a shirt and tie with a bowler atop my head with my attache strapped to the back rack. The first time most people see me, they can't help but smile. Sometimes I get comments. At a stoplight yesterday, a middle aged man walking with a young woman turned to her and said, `Oh, look, here is the most stylingest man in Bethesda.' But more often, it's just a smile or a chuckle.

Just in case you missed it in the hole, here is a pic of me on my bike.

The surprising thing to me is that when on the bike trail, sometimes I overtake other cyclists. It's not because I'm especially fast. It's probably because I'm just riding to get home and pedaling non-stop. That, and when the grade is downhill, the weight of the bike combined with my 205 pounds, gives me an edge at the speed thing compared to someone riding something half the weight of mine.

I have had to do some minor work on it. Aside from installing a rack, the chain broke one morning. Fortunately, I was less than a mile away from the friendly neighborhood bike shop where they put on a new chain for me in less than ten minutes. Then there was also the way the handlebars kept drifting.

A photo of a bicycle as an analogy for modern day US politics where everyone thinks we`re either headed straight down the middle or even turning to the left but we are, in fact, turning to the right.

That situation took longer to fix than I had hoped. After twisting the handlebars back into position,  I tightened the bolt on the stem as tightly as I could. After a couple of days, they started to drift again. So I straightened them out and tightened the bolt again. They drifted again. Repeat and et cetera. So finally I just started keeping a 1/2" wrench in my pocket and every morning, I'd tighten the bolt. After about a week of this, it seemed like the bolt finally decided to stick tight.

Now that I've been riding for about a month, I think it's time for a couple of upgrades. It definitely needs a tuneup. I need to get a spoke wrench because most of the spokes are loose. I also need new tires. I think the current ones are the original that came with the bike. The tread is quite smooth and I slip around quite a bit when it rains and parts of the bike path to work turn to mud. The existing tires are also pretty fat. I'm thinking thinner ones might be an improvement. I also need to get the crankset broken down and rebuilt. There is enough play in it, that I think some of the bearings are shot. I'm hoping that I can get longer crank arms to replace the existing ones. Aside from giving me a bit more power, the ones I have feel a bit small. As a teenager, I had a cheapo Huffy road bike with 27" wheels at a time when everyone I knew was riding bikes with 26" wheels. For whatever reason, the crank arms on that Huffy were longer than any other bike I've ridden and now I always feel like I'm riding a toy when I ride other bikes.

The best part about the experience is that I get to work far more relaxed than when taking the bus. Despite missing the half hour nap that my morning commute usually consists of, I feel less tired during the workday and I'm in far better spirits. That additional energy only lasts so long, though. By the end of the day, I'm falling asleep a couple of hours earlier.

:: ::

Work's been interesting. Between pushing some of my responsibilities off onto other people and some other people pushing their responsibilities off onto other people more technically proficient so that I no longer have to make myself available to assist, I've had more time to pursue some of the long term projects that I've been wanting to do for some time. So for the past couple of weeks, I've taught myself a good deal about Microsoft's Powershell.

I have to say. I'm pretty impressed. Microsoft finally did something very, very right. It's really a shame that they didn't ship something like this with DOS/Windows from the get-go. They may have killed Unix off long before Linux got around to committing that dirty deed. Aside from finally bringing a first class scripting language to Windows, Powershell gives full access to the Dot Net runtime so scripts can call anything from System.Windows.Forms and System.Windows.Data. It's pretty slick.

On the other hand, a client of ours acquired a couple of new servers running Windows Server 2012 so I've gotten my first taste of the Windows 8 interface. Seriously? Microsoft? Seriously?

::

For the second half of the nineties, I was in a black hole culture wise. I started that section of my life working fifty hour weeks, working my associate's degree part time, and commuting an hour to work each way. I then graduated to working graveyard shift and commuting an hour in the other direction before ending the 90s by driving even further for my first 8-5 job in years. It was a happy day when we moved to be close to my work and once again, I had enough time to get more than four or five hours of sleep a night.

One of the cultural sensations that I completely missed out on was the Xena, Warrior Princess. Up until this past week, I've never seen an episode. I figured that I owed it to posterity to at least watch the first season.

Thus far, it reminds me of Star Trek more than anything else, with bits of Wild Wild West thrown in. The pseudo-historical milieu that the series takes place in is not unlike the pseudo-futuristic milieu home to Kirk and Spock and company. And, much like Star Trek, most of the episodes are morality plays of one sort or the other. The action sequences, however, are much closer in style to Wild Wild West. The choreography in Xena's fight scenes makes the fakey fight scenes in Star Trek look positively realistic.

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A diary, a diary, for fun, it's the best of toys | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Gravity does not work that way! by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:05:30 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Gravity? No. by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 02:43:24 PM EST
Momentum, yes.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
By observing Newton's second law: by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 04:36:16 PM EST
You and the other riders are subject to the same gravitational force while accelerating downhill (assuming the masses of you, the other cyclist and your bicycles remain constant). Ergo, any additional force generated, in order to explain why you are accelerating faster than the other rider in this inertial reference frame, must come from energy you have added to the frame -- e.g. pedaling faster than the other cyclist. Or perhaps your bicycle has a lower coefficient of friction. In any case, your mass is not a factor in your gravitational acceleration.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Mass by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #4 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 05:17:10 PM EST
Assuming equal density, mass goes up faster than the 2d area presented to the wind.  This means that more massive objects will present more force per square meter against the wind, assuming similar shape and density.

(Of course, if density is increased, the effect is even more pronounced.  That's why putting a lead weight in your toy racecar will make it go faster.)

If you are not in a vacuum, mass does have an effect because you are pushing against air, which itself has mass.  The effect this has (ignoring differences in shape) is dependent on the ratio of your mass t the air's mass.  Since the air's mass is constant, the higher your mass, the faster you will go.  The more streamlined you are, the weaker this effect will be. 

Time dropping an empty cardboard box ten stories.  Fill it with concrete and do it again.  It will fall much faster despite only changing mass.  (Assuming you don't do it in a vacuum.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I should have stated bike & rider's coeffi by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 10:53:08 PM EST
cient of friction in tandem, with rolling resistance and air resistance combined. I stand by my explanation.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Shame you're wrong by Herring (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 05:04:51 PM EST
My son climbs quicker than me* because his power/mass is better (he's much lighter than me). I descend much quicker than him because my air resistance/mass is better.

Watch pro cycling and you'll see that the best time trialists tend to be bigger guys whereas the best climbers tend to be small guys. In a descent, gravity is pushing you forward. At 20mph, 95% of what's slowing you down is air resistance. Why else the disk wheels, aero frames, pointy hats etc?

*I am better at long climbs because I have a better mass/power/bloody-mindedness coefficient.


christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Incidentally by Herring (2.00 / 0) #16 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 05:06:47 PM EST
If you watch the Tour, you'll often see when a light guy (climber) comes over the top of a climb, a team helper will hand them a couple of bidons full of water to give extra mass on the descent. They used to give ones full of lead shot until the authorities rumbled this.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
And finally by Herring (2.00 / 0) #17 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 05:34:54 PM EST
I am the club's current downhill freewheeling champion and I was the heaviest rider in the comp. OK, part of that is having the nerve not to brake on the corners but I got far further than lighter riders with better bike handling skills.

(Competition format: cranks are zip-tied to the frame so no pedalling, rider is let go at the start point, rider who travels the furthest wins.)

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Mass is not the issue here. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 11:14:13 PM EST
A folded sail from a ship, weighing hundreds of pounds and being a constant mass, will fall much faster than the same sail falling as an opened parachute. The frontal mass is the key to this calculation. LM's FA, however, is not going to be so much larger than his neighbor as to make a significant speed difference in a short "fall."

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Mass is precisely the issue here by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 07:58:19 AM EST
Acceleration due to gravity is uniform. The force of gravity is not. It is precisely because gravity acts with greater force on an object of greater mass that acceleration due to gravity is identical for all object regardless of mass. Think about it, all other things being equal, it requires more force to move a more massive object with the same amount of acceleration.

The greater the force involved, the more difficult it is to impede the movement. Consequently, a heavier a cyclist will have a greater terminal velocity from coasting downhill compared to a lighter cyclist. The lighter cyclist will lose more speed when hitting bumps and rocks. The lighter cyclist will be more greatly affected by friction. The lighter cyclist will impeded to a greater extent by air resistance. The reason for all of this is that gravity acts with a greater force on the heavier cyclist and the reason that gravity acts with a greater force is that the heavier cyclist has a larger mass.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
You did not reach terminal velocity. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 01:18:07 PM EST
The effective difference between your mass and his was negligible. The difference in speed was due to your pedaling.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Are you sure about that? by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 01:34:10 PM EST
I've already linked to a page that has the formulas where you can do the math. Feel free to prove me wrong.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Termial velocity > you by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 09:07:19 PM EST
By orders of magnitude.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
One of these days, it is going to dawn upon you by lm (2.00 / 0) #19 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 10:11:59 PM EST
... that my terminal velocity doesn't really matter in the equation except inasmuch as it exceeds the terminal velocity of the people on the trail that I pass by.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
What is "frontal mass"? (nt) by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 03:11:16 PM EST

---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Mine is huge by lm (4.00 / 5) #14 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 04:44:45 PM EST
IYKWIM

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
What ucblockhead said by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Jul 13, 2013 at 06:10:57 PM EST
Some would put it like this:
Thus, the terminal velocity is roughly proportional to the square root of the ratio of M/A. Scaling reveals that larger cyclists have a greater ratio of mass to frontal area. They therefore descend hills faster as a consequence of purely physical, not physiological, laws. Since the larger cyclist has a greater mass, gravity acts on him or her with a greater force than it does on a smaller cyclist. (Note: A common misconception is to note the equal acceleration of two different sized objects in free fall in a vacuum, and assume that the force of gravity on both is equal. The force on the more massive object is greater, being exactly proportional to mass, which is why the more massive object is accelerated at the same rate as the less massive one.) While the larger cyclist also has a greater absolute frontal area than the smaller cyclist, the difference is not as great as that for their masses. Thus, the larger cyclist will attain a greater s3 before a balance of forces results in terminal velocity.

[CYCLING: Uphill and Downhill, my emphasis]

That article has the formulas if you would like to work them out for yourself.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I think of it in terms of potential energy by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:48:13 AM EST
I think you are right to say that heavier riders are faster downhill not because of gravity, but because of pedaling effort.  The key is that that pedaling effort comes on the uphill side, not the downhill.  I weigh ~240lbs right now and I murder most groups on short climbs/descents or rollers because I can use the short uphills as a way of storing a vast amount of pedaling energy (without doing it on the flats, where it would a) cause potentially unsafe speeds and b) just be lost to parasitic drag anyway) and then releasing it on the downhill, where, as it has been noted, my greater mass-to-frontal-area ratio gives me an advantage in overcoming drag at the high speeds that downhills tend to produce.

[ Parent ]
Sometimes, it's all about the timing by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 12:10:05 AM EST
yeah, that's how I got my last job.

You know you can bike from DC to downtown Pittsburgh now.  I see a lone railroad with a train every 2 days and I think "man can they abandon the line and make it a bike trail.

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock

Yeah, unfortunately, it's not an option for me by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 07:51:45 AM EST
I'm not certain that a few hundred miles on bicycle is something that I would want to do. It could be fun. I may start planning some longer rides on the weekend. The DC area is chock full of some great trails.

But with a disable wife for who I am the primary caregiver, any trip that involved me being away from home by myself overnight isn't going to happen.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Pity people keep driving their cars by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 08:55:35 AM EST
on the trails.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
That's just a VA thing by lm (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:02:27 AM EST
We don't let drivers from Florida into Maryland so I think I'm safe.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
This is the first time I've seen by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:11:48 AM EST
somebody claim that MD drivers were safe.

Wumpus

PS. Be very, very, afraid on roads in these parts. MD drivers show no apparent clue that there are others on the road. VA drivers are aware of just how much traffic is out there and are determine to get ahead of every single one of them.

[ Parent ]
I didn't claim that MD drivers were safe by lm (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:57:15 AM EST
... only that they don't drive down bike trails.

But, FWIW, I'll take the drivers around here over the drivers from any city in Ohio any day of the week.

And twice a day over Pittsburgh drivers.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
A diary, a diary, for fun, it's the best of toys | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback