Jzoe Blog

July 7, 2012

New blog!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:42 pm

Hey, I’ve started a new blog at http://totallyshould.com!

I’m not sure how often I’ll update this blog since I have that one, but this blog is interesting to me since it stretches back to 2003, so I’ll keep it around. Maybe I’ll be back, who knows!

April 16, 2012

Soccer chair for sale sold!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:19 pm

When we traveled to France for the world cup, we brought two full soccer chairs. One was fully functional, and the second had all of the same major components, but wasn’t adjusted quite right to be Kendra’s game chair. During the week of training ahead of the cup, we broke bearings and battery wires, and we had a couple of other parts break during competition. Some of the things that broke were definitely in the category of “Wow, I’ve never seen that break!”.

For example, the main battery cable suffered a melt-down. These are rated for 50 amps of continuous duty, and 160 amps for around two seconds- that’s a lot of juice! You rarely see that kind of power moving through these cables for several reasons. First, during hard pushing- the kind that slows the chair down significantly- the current limit on the motor output causes less power to be drawn from the batteries. When the chair isn’t moving very fast, even with 80 amps going to each motor the controller only pulls 60 to 80 coming out of the batteries. It’s only during the burst of speed when the motors are pushing hard but moving through that zone of 3 to 4 mph that the peak power of 160 amps comes out of the batteries and has the chance to heat up the wiring. Most people don’t drive the chair hard enough for that to add up- only the most aggressive players do.

I just sold the one I had. If anybody is interested in having me rebuild another chair for them, you can email me at jzoe(at)jzoe.com, and we can talk about prices.

March 26, 2012

My fluffy nature

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:03 pm

It’s neat to look inside my body and see the tiny hard pieces below the flesh. All of my living material fades to translucency as we shift from visible light to photons in the visible spectrum to more energetic photons. The light we can see with our eyes is made up of particles (or waves) with an energy expressed as 1 to 4 electron-volts. The photons shooting through my arm were about 100,000 times as energetic, and you can barely see the fluff of skin, muscle, and fat around the bone.

I don’t mean to be too serious or macabre with this, so I will close the post by showing a picture of the cloud of hair that I have been cultivating on my face. It’s a new appendage, it starts conversations, and shapes opinions, and it’s fluffy.

March 25, 2012

Meantime

Filed under: Beer and Wine, goings-on — admin @ 12:43 pm

I certainly didn’t set out to make this site, or section of my site, into a beer blog- but since I’ve been sampling more brews lately I thought I’d keep sharing in the “beer and wine” section. I have an interesting beer to write up today, but first I’ll give some background.

Since I broke my arm seventeen days ago I spent just thirteen days in a splint. The first six days I had a non-removable splint, and the rest of the time I was allowed to use a removable splint. Apparently the way I broke the bone led to a very fast healing process. When I fell off my bike I landed on my stomach with my arm under me. This awkward position broke through the Radius less than an inch from the head of the bone, and shifted it across the face of the break by about a millimeter. The doctor didn’t have to set it, and I was surprised when he said that I could be out of the splint in just two weeks from the break.

After we took the splint off and got X-rays, I was surprised at how much the pain increased. After the first day or two after the break, most of the pain was gone as long as I left the arm in a relaxed position. I’ve never had a splint or a cast before, so I didn’t realize that the immobility quickly causes the muscles and connective tissue to tighten up, and it has a hard time moving over the new geometry of the bone. On the first day if I started with my palm facing the ground I could rotate my palm toward the ceiling to a little less than 90 degrees before serious pain and tightness stopped me. That’s wild! I’m glad I didn’t need surgery, and didn’t have a more severe break that would require more than two weeks of immobilization. I have sympathy for anyone who’s had that!

So, on to the beer! Last night it was raining, but I was fortunate enough to be hanging out with a friend with a car. We stopped by Beer Revolution to pick up a couple of bottles to go, and on a recommendation I picked up the Meantime India Pale Ale

So, what’s so interesting about this beer? Although IPAs have gone through a major round of re-imaginings and oneupsmanship on the content of hops and alcohol, this beer was brewed in the original style of the Pale Ales that were exported from England to India. This is supposed to be closer to the beer that started the style.

I drank it out of the bottle so I can’t comment on the head or the pour, but it was sweet and malty. It was light, and bubbles were tiny and smooth. It has far less hops flavor than the modern take on EXTREME hop flavor with all of the sharp bitterness and strong aromas. The Meantime IPA is more subdued, and was definitely tasty and enjoyable.

As good as it was, I like where other brewers have been taking the style- such as Bear Republic’s Racer 5 and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder.

March 12, 2012

Broke my elbow!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:27 pm

So this is a piece of news- it’s a bit hard to type in detail, but I just had a low speed bike crash and fractured my right elbow at the radius head. It’s usually not very painful, but it’s definitely inconvenient. I guess I’ll bike more carefully in the future! I think that the things I will miss the most in the next few weeks will be typing, juggling, and photography.

On a positive note, I got a Logitech M570 trackball to help me mouse normally. This is a big help for CAD, but does nothing for typing.

March 1, 2012

Negra Modelo

Filed under: Beer and Wine — admin @ 6:46 pm

Keeping up with the beer posts, here’s a fairly pedestrian brew:

Negra Modelo

I had one of these in a bottle last night with some pretzels and a zombie movie. It was an OK beer- I can see why I thought it was a big deal back when I could occasionally find it for $0.50 per bottle back in Troy in 2003/2004.

As far as “dark” beers go, this is a lightweight. It has more flavor than your typical lager, but not much body or bitterness. It probably wouldn’t be objectionable to somebody who’s not into weird beer, it’s not too bitter.

February 29, 2012

Back in Black IPA

Filed under: Beer and Wine — admin @ 3:54 pm

Keeping up with the beer posts, I’ll talk a little bit about this lovely can that I picked up at Trader Joe’s:

Back in Black IPA

As far as beers from Trader Joe’s go, it’s quite pricey- I think it was $8 for a six pack. I had a strong recommendation from my friend Gabe on this one, so I decided to give it a try.

There were a couple of unique things about this beer. First, it’s a very dark color for an IPA. One could certainly argue that it’s wrong to call this an “India Pale Ale” for that reason alone. Second, it’s in a can. I’m used to thinking of most 12 oz canned beers as being low on flavor, and unsophisticated. There are canned beers that break that trend- but I think they tend to come in 16 oz cans.

So, what’s it like? It has kind of a rich “dark” flavor with some sweetness that reminds me of a porter, but not quite so sweet or thick, and with that distinctive bitter hoppiness that you get from a typical IPA. I’d love to try pairing it with a steak- I think it would overpower a lot of foods, but the bitterness ought to have a good contrast with a flavorful cut of beef and some buttery potatoes.

Being the classy guy that I am, I’ve just been drinking it out of the can so I can’t really comment on how it pours or what kind of head it would have.

February 27, 2012

New bike (part 2)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 4:05 pm

When I started shopping for a new bike, my main priorities were that it would be at least as nice to ride as what I had, and that it would be durable. Life is too short to spend it stuck on the side of the road, and the bike is way better than walking. They say that riding a bike is about three times more efficient, biomechanically, than walking. I can comfortably cruise at least four times faster on a bike than I can walk, and so it makes the world a lot smaller. It’s not such a production to take a quick trip to the store, and I can go visit people or do useful things over a lunch break. An unreliable bike just adds stress, so I wanted something that would hold up to my abuse.

My first impulse was to go for a steel frame (which should be stronger and more easily repaired), and a riding geometry more like a road bike. I wanted to be able to do longer distances, and I wanted to care less about biking into the wind. I wanted disc brakes so that I could feel more confidence when stopping hard on a rainy day while descending the hill I live on. I wanted a bike that was designed to carry stuff, but was still geared toward efficiency. I decided that a Surly Long Haul Trucker with disc brakes was my dream bike. I could use reasonably wide tires on it, and it could accept fenders for the rain, as well as carriers for the front and rear. It was light enough to carry up the stairs, and it should last a very long time. The problem is that it costs around $1,700 without any upgrades, and I really didn’t save up for this or plan on having such an expense. Add this to some other unplanned and involuntary expenses that are happening right now, and it just didn’t seem like it was in the cards.

I went to a bike store in the city to check out a Torker Interurban, a fairly affordable bike that’s been advertised as a good commuter. Torker may have gotten their start making BMX bikes, and it may very well be built with enough strength and high enough quality components to stand up to some serious use- but my first impression was “I’m going to break this.”

Next up, I went to the local bike shop in Dublin, and on recommendation of one of the guys there I tried out his Torker Graduate. It was outfitted for groceries, and was actually fairly comfortable to ride. I was suprised that the 5 speed internal gear hub really seemed to cover the range that I’d want. I was able to get close to 22 mph (fast for me) on a section of straight and level path, and the low gear was quite decent for hill climbing. It wasn’t a terribly heavy bike, and I could have been OK carrying it up some stairs. It’s a lot more affordable than the Surly, too, starting out around $600. The main reason I didn’t pick it was that I didn’t like the hub mounted drum brakes. They’re supposed to be durable and good in wet weather, but I really didn’t feel like they had as much stopping power as even the rim brakes I’m used to. I ride in places where cars sometimes pull out unexpectedly, or car doors open into my path, so good brakes feel really important.

I asked the guy, David, “Do you have any cheap mountain bikes with disc brakes?”. I abandoned the idea that steel was a better choice than aluminum. My reasoning was that if the bike manufacturer was going to advertise the bike as being capable of jumping off of rocks and tree roots at moderate speed, they probably built it strong enough for me to go bumping over potholes without too much worry. David showed me a Giant Revel 1, and they had one in stock that was the right size- only $500 before I added a grocery rack and better tires. I had him prep it so that I could ride it home that night, and the Dublin Cyclery earned yet another five star Yelp review.

So far I’m really enjoying the bike. I’ve never had one with front suspension before, so I’m getting used to that. I haven’t attached my speedometer yet, but it feels like I can move quickly without too much effort. It feels very good to be back on a bike that’s mechanically sound and tuned up.

Another thing that I like about the bike is that the smaller 26 inch wheels should be stronger than the larger 700mm wheels I used on the last bike. Hopefully this means I’ll be less likely to break spokes!

There it is- my new ride.

February 26, 2012

New bike

Filed under: goings-on — admin @ 3:24 pm

Back in 2006 I bought my first bike as an adult, and I used it for commuting to BART every day. I got a big backpack and started doing a lot of grocery shopping with the bike, and eventually got a rack and side bags and did all of my groceries that way. I broke and replaced both wheels, wore out a few sets of tires, broke and replaced the pedals, the lights, the handlebar grips, and a few other things that are escaping my memory right now. I estimate that I put about 10,000 city miles on the bike. Most people can get at least twice that out of a bicycle, but I ride fairly fast, don’t care much about bumps, potholes, or curbs, and my weight is generally around 220 pounds before I add a heavy backpack and half a week’s groceries.

What finally killed this bike seems to be fatigue in the aluminum. Here’s a picture- click on it if the crack is hard to see.

Aluminum has no fatigue limit- it’s in a class of metals that will inevitably crack and break if you flex it enough times, even if it’s a very small force. Steel and titanium are different- they have a limit that if you don’t exceed a certain stress, they can go through an infinite number of cycles without cracking. This crack goes more than 3/4 of the way around the seat tube, and the seat post extending through it like a splint is the main reason I didn’t fall and get hurt.

The second thing that went wrong within a week was a broken hub- I’ve had the rear wheel for over a year, and for some reason the metal web that holds the spokes gave way, and a chunk was lost and two spokes came free. When I saw that I was going to have to replace the frame and the rear hub, I knew it was time for a new bike. I will still try for a warranty replacement on the frame, but I needed something new a lot faster.

I did get something else- and I will post about it soon!

February 23, 2012

De Ranke Noir

Filed under: Beer and Wine — admin @ 3:14 pm

Last night I stopped by The Trappist, a local tavern specializing in (surprise, surprise), Belgian beers. They have some reasonably foodie-friendly bar food, an atmosphere that’s quiet enough for good conversation, and a clean bathroom. It’s a little pricey if you plan on doing much drinking, but it’s a great place to take a friend who hasn’t experienced it or to enjoy a classy brew.

I had the De Ranke Noire, a 25 cl pour from the tap, and it was pretty good. The flavor was sweet and nutty, not as bitter or hoppy as the IPAs I’ve been drinking lately. It was miles away from the cheap canned lagers that we had in college, but I don’t think it was too weird or over the top for most people to enjoy. It wasn’t quite as sweet as some of the belgian beers I’ve tried in the past.

You can read more about the Trappist style beers here at the wikipedia article on trappist beer.

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