Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grandma Wigs

Whenever I see this sign at the corner of Park Boulevard and F Street, I wonder "who would want a grandma wig?" Of course, that's not what it says, but it never fails that I read it that way.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meet the Frenchman

I finished the Peugeot project last week, and have been learning its ways the last few days. The down tube shifters are new to me, and it has been a while since I rode anything with more than three speeds, but I've been surprised how quickly I adjusted. The bike is quick, responsive, and comfortable, and I didn't even have my usual spate of first-ride problems.

All of my riding so far has been around town, so I haven't had a chance to really open it up yet, or test it on any serious climbs. My first impressions, however, are entirely favorable. I'm beginning to realize just how heavy and clunky my old three speeds really are. Of course, I still love them, though. In fact, I picked up a pizza last night on my trusty old grocery bike and it was kind of comforting to get off the thoroughbred-like Peugeot and back onto my old work horse.

The Frenchman is going to be a regular fixture on this blog now, since I think he's quite a looker and I'll probably end up taking a lot of San Diego photos with him lurking somewhere in the shot.

Friday, October 22, 2010


One of the strangest things about San Diego is the still-functioning quarry right smack dab in the middle of one of the heaviest areas of development in Mission Valley. The development of the area happened fast, a lot of people remember Mission Valley still being full of dairy farms. Today it's full of malls, auto dealers, chain restaurants, big box stores, hotels, corporate headquarters, condo developments, and enormous parking lots. The quarry, which has been in operation for 60 years, is a fascinating holdover, especially juxtaposed with all of the surrounding development. I took the photo of the quarry above from the cliffs on the south side of Mission Valley. I was playing with the zoom on our new camera, and although the photo turned out pretty blurry, the editing created a nice effect.

Apparently even the quarry is going to be developed, however. I'm not sure what phase the development is in now, so I wasn't sure if I was looking at construction or destruction equipment, but this looks like quarry equipment to me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's Palm Nut Season (Watch Out!)

Actually, it has been palm nut season for a while, but now they're starting to lose their distinctive "safety orange" color, and there's a lot more of them. If you don't live in Southern California (or anywhere else there are palm nuts), let me explain why these things suck: they are a hard little nut wrapped in a slippery, slimy hull. While this can be entertaining as one's bike tire glances off them at just the right angle and whips them into car door panels, in places where they are thick, it's a little like trying to ride through a field of ball bearings covered in Vaseline. Now that they are decomposing a bit, they start to look like innocuous road debris or even just dirt, and it can be a nasty shock to find yourself skittering and sliding all over the road when you hit a patch of them. If there was ever a reason for the City of San Diego to employ street sweepers, I'd say this is it, but as you can see, this street has gone unswept.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Early 20th c. Military Bicycle

{click for big}

Although labelled "Camp Evans" I believe this photo postcard was taken at the site of what would become Camp Lewis, later Fort Lewis, in Tacoma, Washington. Two interesting things to note: this probably does not represent a racially integrated military unit, but it does seem to show black and white soldiers socializing in camp; and, of course, there's a bicycle.

Another scan sent from work by my lovely wife, who always sends me cool stuff to completely derail my own workday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Assembling the Pieces

The Peugeot project is finally advancing to a stage that I can almost ride it. The first stage of the project has been replacing the old plastic saddle with a Brooks B-17, and I put on some Velo-Orange Belleville handlebars. I'm now just waiting on the Tektro inverse brake levers before it will be ready to ride, which will hopefully be next week. I'll be taping the bars with orange tape and shellacking the tape for a nice amber brown finished color. Long term, I'll be adding fenders and racks, too. This has been in the works for months, so I'm pretty excited to get it nearly road-ready.

Oh, and the photo is terrible on purpose so that the finished product will still be a bit of a surprise (yeah, right).

Now Read This

I'm currently reading the second volume of the set, American Fantastic Tales, ed. Peter Straub (Library of America, 2009) after my wife's hearty recommendation. I'm not far enough in to give a review or to list my favorites, but I already like everything I've read. The first volume goes from "Poe to the Pulps", and the volume I'm reading picks up in 1940 and ends with the present. I don't know if the first volume is as good, but it looks like people on the Interwebs like it. Especially good reading for chilly October nights as Halloween approaches. If you have a functioning fireplace, build yourself a fire, make a stiff drink, and settle in for some good readin' (if you don't have a fireplace, it's probably not a good idea to build a fire).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Give Me That Old-Time Fun!

For the upcoming San Diego Bike Union Fall Haul-In and Picnic, I used two old 27" bicycle rims to make an old-time hoop rolling game. I wrapped the rims in colored electrical tape to hide the stubborn rust and to make them a bit more festive.

The idea is to use the stick to keep the hoop rolling in a straight line. I think we'll make a two person race out of it. I haven't had a chance to take a hoop and stick out to the park and try it yet, but I assume I'll be terrible at it.

Apparently hoop rolling is also called hoop trundling, and has diverse origins. There's a pretty interesting entry for it at Wikipedia, where the photo above comes from.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's About to Get All Local Up in Here

I did not start this blog with the intention of writing or posting much about San Diego, but this is where I live, so posts tagged "San Diego" do filter through occasionally (in fact, as of this writing, there are twenty-two).
But starting now-ish, I'd like to write more about San Diego. There probably won't be a noticeable change in content, but I will start sneaking more local stuff in, including more photos, reviews, and observations about life here.
It's a weird, frustrating, and wonderful place, and although it has taken me more than three years to really appreciate its nuances, I think I've finally arrived at a good enough relationship with this city to write something intelligent about living here.

Images: Top: Alcazar Garden, Balboa Park; Center: Under the Cabrillo Bridge near Hwy 163; Bottom: An abandoned house in the City Heights neighborhood.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shifty Keychain

In keeping with the shifty theme of late, I thought I'd share a photo of my new keychain, which was repurposed from an old and very worn-out stem shifter taken off an equally old and substantially more worn-out bicycle. I was inspired by this much fancier one, posted by Mister Jalopy at the Coco's Variety Store blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Rode down to San Diego's best neighborhood event last night, the quarterly South Park Walkabout, and took a few practice shots with our new camera.
Pantone mugs @ Progress
Chain link tumblers? vases? candleholders? @ Progress
The Tail Draggers playing bluegrass in Grant's grocery/deli.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Browsing through my bike-related miscellanea, I found this photo from a local Craigslist ad from a while back. First time I've seen a rat-rod-style shifter on a road bike. Pretty funky!