*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Κυνόσαργες

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Crossover: CRV or Forester

Tried the Outback: too fucking big for the city.  It's down to the CRV or Forester now.  In short, the Honda's more reliable, but the Forester comes with better options at the price.  Also everyone has a CRV, and I do not like its few colour choices.

Here's what I'm comparing.

CRV LX $27678
- red or one in the greyscale
- cargo cover not included
- rack not included

Forester Convenience Automatic $27731
- multiple colours
- heated mirrors
- rack included
- automatic lights
- fog lights included
- power front seat
- hill descent
- cargo cover
- more mats included
- 17" better wheels

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

NDP response about refugees: Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Thanks for writing in. I could not agree more with your assessment of the appropriate role for Canada in dealing with this crisis. I believe Canada to be a nation built on principles of compassion, and increasing and expediting refugee resettlement while also providing increased relief on the ground is a fundamental expression of those principles.

Below, please find the party's outlined proposals for expanding our refugee resettlement program and increasing aid to agencies in the region. If you have any further questions or would like additional details, please don't hesitate to let me know and I'll do my best to answer your question.

Thanks again for writing in and lending your voice in support of the refugees. 


The challenge:
·         The crisis in Syria has generated more than 4 million refugees and displaced more than 7.6 million Syrians within the country.[i]
·         This is the largest single refugee crisis in more than a quarter century.[ii]
·         According to the UNHCR, more than 2,500 people have died this summer crossing the Mediterranean, trying to reach Europe.[iii]
·         The UNHCR is aiming to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Canada has resettled 2,374 to date, with a commitment to take an additional 8,926 by the end of 2017.[iv]
·         François Crépeau, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, has called for the West to resettle 1 million Syrian refugees over the next five years.[v]
·         Canada’s share of the global total, according to Crépeau, would be 9,000 Syrian refugees per year.[vi]

The NDP Plan:
1.      RESETTLE 10,000 REFUGEES BY END OF YEAR, PLUS 9,000 A YEAR FOR NEXT 4 YEARS
·         Appoint a Syrian Refugee Coordinator to coordinate the resources of government departments to oversee processing, travel to Canada, and resettlement; and,
·         Bring in 10,000 refugees by end of 2015 and 9,000 a year between 2016 and 2019, making it a priority to keep families together.

2.    ACCELERATE ARRIVAL OF REFUGEES IN CANADA
·         Increase the number of immigration officials on the ground; and,
·         Work with provinces, territories, municipalities, and others to resettle refugees. 

3.    REMOVE BUREAUCRATIC OBSTACLES TO SETTLEMENT
    • Work with Turkey and other affected countries to streamline exit requirements; and,
    • Treat all refugees equally by ending Canada’s policy of discrimination on the basis of religion. 

4.      INCREASE CANADA’S HUMANITARIAN CONTRIBUTION
    • Match Canadians’ humanitarian donations;
    • Increase aid to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees; and,
    • Help coordinate the response of the international community. 

5.    IMPROVE REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT
·         Fast-track private sponsorships, with no cap; and,
·         Provide temporary resident permits for Syrians who wish to come and stay temporarily with family.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Canadian Federal Election: refugee resettlement to Canada‏



Sent to the Green, NDP, Liberal and Conservative candidates for my riding in the October Canadian Federal Election.

I am a voter in your riding, and will vote in the October federal election. I am asking for a clear statement of each candidate's position on increasing and expediting refugee resettlement in Canada, as well as aiding displaced persons abroad. 
Most Canadian citizens and residents have displaced persons in their family history. When I was a child over thirty years ago, the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Parties agreed to accept tens of thousands of Vietnamese and other Indo-Chinese refugees. It was a proud moment for Canada, and does honour to each party. I have now worked with the children of these refugees, and my children are in school with their grandchildren. My Vietnamese-Canadian friends and colleagues are some of the most grateful Canadians I have ever known. 
Canada should regain it's status as the most generous country in the world to displaced persons. According to the UN we are now fourteenth. Fewer than ten-percent of immigrants are refugees. We could double this number. Despite a recession, we are one of the richest countries in the world. We are one of the most multi-ethnic, and peaceful. If not us, whom? Let it be us. 
I hope I have permission to post your response on my Facebook page and other social media. 
Thank you.

I hope to have responses to add.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Alas, Honda CRV?

Of all models I have listed before, as bland as Honda are, they are the right choice.  Not to mention, I had an eight year Civic a decade back which gave me no troubles, ever.  I believe in rewarding quality.  Getting a test drive soon.

Aiming for a city and highway AWD vehicle, my 'process of elimination':
- I found the Subaru Outback larger than I want in the city, and a wee squirrelly at highway passing speeds
- Subaru Boxer engines are... not dependable
- the Forester has a more basic interior than the CRV
- the Mazda CX5 is the anti-Tardis
- Ford is the only N American maker I would consider, but they have no cash deals... as N Americans love mortgaging their future
- wife won't buy Korean, nor do I think they are cheaper enough to do so
- Nissan Rogue is a bit cheaper, a bit less reliable, and will get me a bit less at resale, so no
- Mitsubishi Outlander isn't cheaper enough to go with a fringe model
- Volkswagen Sportwagen is smaller, not dependable, not AWD, and nearly as much
- fuck Toyota , which are not good value besides
- the CRV is nearly the biggest inside, has the best power:weight ratio, has nearly everything I want in the base AWD model, and is among the most fuel efficient

Never mind the Thai branding.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

As there's no Legacy Wagon anymore

Seriously, fuck North Americans and their bloated dumbassed lifestyles.  I was born here, but have lived in Montréal*, Tokyo, don't eat like them, drive like them, commute like them, vote like them, drink like them, dress as poorly as them, fuck like them!


I have been trying to find a new car.  There are hatchbacks, there are buses, and there are SUVs never taken to gravel, so much as 'off-road'.  Almost nobody's selling mid-size wagons; I want a wagon damnit**, and am unwilling to spend for an Audi or Volvo, thank you very much.  Nor will I buy a North American shit-box, nor Korean yet, nor Toyota for its lies.  Making the list short.  I do not even want to buy a car, and wouldn't have to in Tokyo, but North America fucking sucks, and sucks even harder without a car.

I am left with these options, too many of them 'CUVs', just two letters away from what a Brit would yell.  Why no CUV/SUV?  Well, I know how to fucking drive, unlike the locals, and know something about the difference between a truck meant for hauling crap, with a high centre of balance, and a vehicle that's some pleasure to drive, and safer.

Volkswagon Golf Sportwagon Trendline, $29K
- just a bit small, no AWD, and as expensive as the rest, so... no.

Nissan Rogue S AWD, $29K

Toyota RAV4 AWD LE, $31K 

Honda CRV LX, $32K

Mitsubishi Outlander ES AWC, $33K

Subaru Outback 2.5i, $35.5
- this is the closest even if overbuilt to the cancelled Legacy Wagon, but $5K over the others?
- what's the point of the Forester?  Little cheaper, narrower and shorter,  but a higher centre of balance.

I am unhappy with all of these.  WTF?

*Technically in North America, but not entirely so...
**With AWD, because we are a Nordic country, and nobody else can fecking drive.  Not to mention a CUV/SUV without AWD/4WD is like a codpiece hiding an orchiectomy.

Orwell, Toronto and Apostacy

I had an Orwellian moment today, not of the '1984' variety.  I've forgotten if it is in 'Burmese Days', 'Shooting an Elephant' or some other, but he describes two young British men on a night train during the Raj feeling-out each other's politics before finally secure enough to rage about their place in the injustices of Imperialism.  My heart is not that heavy, but I have had that experience in Catholic schools, 'International Schools' in Tokyo, and as a resident of Toronto.  Funny, the dogmatism of the latter is the strongest.

Good god how I hate Toronto!  A Torontonian who's not lived anywhere else will not hear of it.  "Toronto is 'World Class'".  'Jesus wept...'

I was at the Royal Ontario Museum with my son today, feeding and watering him in the café, and a French woman sat beside me with a daughter about the same age as my son: they introduced themselves to each other as they do, so we adults followed.  Within a few minutes we both moved from our conversation about bilingual education of our children to the parochialism of Toronto.  So refreshing, and confirms what I told my wife about coming back: "We will only make foreign friends, or Torontonians who've lived abroad."

Monday, 10 August 2015

Fuck the crossovers

Still doing research on cars, for two adults and two in child seats, and will last until the oldest is maybe thirteen.  Crossovers and SUVs are the N American default, ergo bloated and vulgar.  Thing is, that sells, so modest wagons do not.  There are very few under $30K CAD.  What few there are, are often too close to hatchbacks.

Nissan Versa Note SV $19K

Hyundai Elantra GT $21K cash

Ford Focus SE Hatch $22K

KIA Soul LX $22K

KIA Forte 5 LX+ $22.5K

Scion XB 4A $23K

Mazda3 GX $25K

KIA Rondo LX Value AT $25.5K

Subaru Impreza 2.0i 5-door AWD $25.5K

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback SE - $26K

Scion iM?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

More boring crossovers: two rows, not three

Still staying under $35K CAD, paying in cash.  What I need is room for two adults and two children, for the next eight to ten years, reliable and good build quality for the price, and drives more like a car than a boat.  AWD for our winters, cruise-control and a few other options.  Have to get a fucking automatic for the wife.  Here're the 'crossovers' cash prices, all with AWD otherwise what's the point, automatic because the wife.  Almost all the same price.

Nissan Rogue S AWD
- AWD
- best mileage
- CVT transmission (feh)
- excellent safety features
- $29000

Honda CRV LX
- decent engine power
- CVT transmission (feh)
- $32500

Mitsubishi Outlander ES AWC
- AWD
- decent mileage
- best transmission (6-speed auto)
- decent engine power
- $33200

Kia Sorrento LX turbo AWD
- third row seats option
- AWD
- decent mileage
- best transmission (6-speed auto)
- best engine (hp/torque)
- $34500

Subaru Forester 2.5i Convenience Package
- AWD
- decent mileage
- CVT transmission (feh)
- excellent safety features
- $35000

I really want the Subaru Outback 2.5i, despite engine problems and its girth.
- middling engine power
- CVT transmission (feh)
- $35500


Mazda CX5 GS AWD
- good engine

- $36700

FORD EDGE SE AWD
- good engine

$37500 cash, and no value for paying up front, because N American financing scam

Toyota Venza AWD
- well, Toyota lies about flaws as much as GM and Chrysler...
- and still carries the Toyota price premium...
- $38300

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Perfect Randonneur - All-Roads Bike

I've got my sweet steel road bike, and an overbuilt touring bike used for kid-hauling.  I even have a fixed-gear commuter, but 'n+1' and all.

It's not going to happen very soon, but I am wanting to build another bike better for the type of riding I do, and better for when I start brevets: a low-trail 700c light-tubed steel frame that takes fenders and 35mm tires, though I'll more often run 32mm.

- lets me carry a front rack bag without affecting handling much
- light tubes and wider tire soak up road noise

The first issue is that I'll have to build it up on my own, because although the All City Space Horse is close, heavier tubing than I need, bigger chainrings and not low-trail.

I'd have to go with a Rawland Nordavingen if available again, or spend more for the TIG version of a Boulder Brevet.  VO Polyvalent's interesting, but too heavily built.  Not picky about the type of brakes, so long as they work: no low-profile cantis on the fork.
Definitely go with Retroshifts.  Easier shfting than bar-cons, with all the reliability.

Sugino OX801d compact+ crank: 30/46, paired to a 10-speed 11-30 cassette.

Minimal front and rear stainless racks, whether VO or Nitto.

One of the new weatherproof Brooks, if long-term reviews play out, otherwise another Swallow.

Most of the rest will be Shimano and other Japanese components, as I travel there often enough and can get the parts for half the price there than Canada.  Shimano derailleurs: Tiagra'd be good enough, Ultegra'd be sweet, so 105 is the compromise.  Panasonic tires with gumwalls?

Fenders VO or Japanese, and front bag from there also.

King Iris cages only!

This would never use panniers, but I may want to carry things on the top of a minimal rear rack occasionally, as well as more often in the front bag.  For a bit more luggage, I'd hope to add another boss lower on the downtube, to lower the bottle cage and fit a frame bag.  I'd probably not add bosses under the downtube, as bottles get mucked-up there even with the longest of fenders.

I really like the idea of the Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage (better than Salsa's original) but can't see where it would work on this bike.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Joining Automotive Society with a boring 'crossover' - three rows small

Never imagine Toronto's anyting but a Midwestern city: a family needs a car to do anything at all.  So... I'll be joining the bastards, but with ONE car only.  I am buying a new car, in cash.  Yes, I can buy someone else' problems cheaper, but I just don't want to.  I am staying under $35K CAD, paying in cash.

What I need is room for two adults and two children, for the next eight to ten years, reliable and good build quality for the price, and drives more like a car than a boat.  What I want is a third-row seat no matter how small, sliding rear doors, AWD for our winters, cruise-control and a few other options.  Have to get a fucking automatic for the wife.

Here're the 'crossovers' prices*, all with AWD otherwise what's the point, best to worst value:


Kia Sorrento LX turbo AWD
- third row seats option
- AWD
- decent mileage
- best transmission (6-speed auto)
- best engine (hp/torque)
- $32500
Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWC
- third row seats option
- AWD
- decent mileage
- best transmission (6-speed auto)
- best engine (hp/torque)
- $32000/37000**
Nissan Rogue SV AWD
- third row seats option
- AWD
- best mileage
- CVT transmission (feh)
- excellent safety features
- $31500
Here're the 'small minivan' prices, best to worst value:
Kia Rondo LX AT 7-seat
- third row seats 
- no sliding rear doors
- no AWD option
- not CVT transmission (yeah!)
- $22300 
Mazda 5
- third row seats 
- sliding rear doors
- no AWD option
- CVT transmission (feh)
- mediocre safety features
- $26300
For 'crossoers; it is between the Outlander and the Rogue, as I just cannot yet sign on with Korean cars at the same price, much less convince the J-wife.  However, if we cheap out, too bad about losing the sliding doors, but the Rondo's much better value than the Mazda5!

*AWD/third-row option included if noted.  Prices right off Canadian websites, taxes, fees and rebates included.  Mileage may vary.
**$32K for 2015, $37 for 2016

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

'The Beast': breeder-touring/monster-cross bicycle


It lives! My Franken-bike creation: breeder-touring/monster-cross. AKA, 'The Beast'.  The final iteration?  Proves the truth of evolution: 'survival of the most adequate'.  That's a Blackburn Co-Pilot Limo child seat.  The recline's nice, as the young tend to pass out in motion.  Previous write-up follows.

A new build up from new and old parts.  It's my take on the 'gravel mutt' idea: build a wide-tired rough roads bike as reasonably as possible from your parts bin.  Between the three bikes I have, I've now rebuilt almost every section of a bike, a few times.

The bike's been useful, if heavy.  My wife gave me the money for it as a present in return for her engagement ring: Japanese custom is to give half-back gifts, yeah!  It's been a fixed/free, singlespeed and a 1x5.  I learned enough from it about fixed/free to buy and build a lighter fixed/fixed, and that singlespeed is pointless.  As I have a paved- 'road bike'; this will be my unpaved road, and winter conditions bike.

It's not as economical as 'off the peg', but it is more economical than letting what I had go to waste, besides I wanted to keep the bike my wife bought for me, in some identifiable form.  A friend told me a Canadian Air Force story: you can crash and destroy every part of a plane but it's identification plate, and there's money in the budget to rebuild it, but there's no money in the budget to buy a new plane, even if that comes cheaper.

Since all that is left original is the following, it's a 'tour-mutt':
- touring frame and fork
- Brooks B17N saddle, seatpost and clamp
- headset and stem
- Tektro brake levers and rear low-profile cantilever brake
- Shimano pedals, one side clipless and one flats
- budget racks

I repurposed:
- the triple crank from my Lemond Croix de Fer, and its 26t chainring
- its Shimano 105 triple derailleur (used now as wide-range double)
- a 44t chainring from my fixed/fixed
- 37mm Schwalbe Silento tires from my wife's bike (gave her better rolling ones for pavement)
- parts to make a Shimano 105, 10-speed, 12-27 cassette
- downtube cable-stops
- Arundel Stainless bottle cages

I bought for it... too much:
- Nitto Noodle Bar
- tektro cross bar-top levers
- a high-profile cantilever brake for better stopping power, front
- Dia-Compe bar-cons
- Tiagra rear derailleur (without indexed shifting you can mix 9 speed rear and 10 speed front derailleurs)
- 10-speed Shimano 105 chain
- Mavic A319 rim, Deore hub wheelset
- SKS P50, 700x54mm 'chromoplastic' fenders
- cables and housing as needed
- orange cotton bar-tape, shellacked
- a 50t cross chainring guard

The build was epic in its delayed pace, back-tracking, reverse-engineering, and international sourcing (Canada, Japan and the US).  I could nearly start a business in bikes, if only there were any living in aught but schilling carbon 'dentist bikes'.

It will see use on local unpaved roads, and winter conditions, and I hope further afield.  Maybe even to pull kids in a trailer, as the cross brake levers begin to make it safer to do so.  There's room in that fork of 55mm: I could run 47mm tires for very poor road, so long as I push the fenders higher.

But bike wants are "n+1 , where n is the number of bikes currently owned."  +1 is a 29+ semi-fat, like the Surly Krampus, or 'Ops' version.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Smart Products Aren't



Having trouble with an LG Smart TV: cannot update the built in browser to cooperate as it used to with Google Drive.

Short version: 'Smart' products are not built by or for operating systems like Windows, Android or Apple.  They have limited functionality out of the box, and are far harder to optimize than a phone, tablet or computer, or they are impossible to, and the interfaces blow.  Better you run your online media from the appropriate device by cable/Wifi-dongle to a dumb TV.  This is the experience with my TV, and I have read it similar for cars and other consumer products.

LG customer service has been useless, as all corporations' are.  In short, I have discovered we can't load any browsers or apps of our own choice, nor update the ones we have.  Who knows if any update automatically?

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Mazda RX7, because Japan

I was so excited to see this on my friend's street the other day.  More excited his (married) friend knew what it was.  Why didn't I know girls like that a couple decades back?*



This is a cool thing that'll make sense to anyone with a passing knowledge of Japanese shaken/road-tax byzantine rules: the Wankel engine was to get higher power while paying only for a lower displacement.  Do you think engineers were allowed to use something as mental, and self-destructive, as a Wankel engine for a better reason?



Behold the spinning Dorito.

*Earlier in the evening I not only discovered she was another Montréal Anglo refugee, and was bored to death in Toronto, but when I asked the room what the typical Toronto date question was that showed how boring and materialistic people are, she knew: "What do you do?"

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Circuses


Young lady, I'm afraid you forgot your knickers.  And the hue of your cervix...  That can't be healthy.

This link in case you are unaware of the 'perverted golf-club' of Tokyo's Olympic bid.

I consider myself a native or two cities, Toronto and Tokyo, although the pur laine of the latter wouldn't, and I have neither pride in nor love of Toronto.  I have spent not less than five years in each, which was more than enough in the Middle Ages to be a citizen!  Funny, I spent about four years in total in Montréal, which I prefer to the other two, though neither I nor franco-montréalais would consider me a citizen.  The ethnolingual parsing of these some other time.

We are in the middle of the Pan-American Games in Toronto!  I care no more than you do!   Torontonians care little more than I do.  This is a good thing!  A great deal of money's been wasted, but a great deal less than for the Olympics (1:4 compared to London), which the usual suspects (developers-politicians-criminals) have been after getting for years.  It's been so unpopular, now they won't!

Poor Tokyo.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Fuck Toronto

In case you didn't know, there is an epidemic of assholes in Toronto. Never go. It is a boring city of assholes, paying Manhattan prices to live in a Hoboken.

For all the good it will do, I sent this to Mississauga transit, with the driver's ID.

"Your driver went past the XXXXXXX Stop, even though the 'Stop Requested' light was on, and then refused to stop at any point before XXXXXXXX Station, because, he said, "I'm not allowed." He did this out of spite, even though I asked him politely the first time. Half of your drivers are jackasses like this one, and/or bad drivers. Since no transit in the GTA is to the standard of a civilized European or East Asian city of my experience, put in cameras to monitor them. I suppose nobody cares in the GTA though, only the poor use transit is the attitude. Fuck your town."

Didn't bother me much. Asshat works all summer; tomorrow is my last day until September.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

"Are there no true Scotsmen in the house?"

Those there English gerrunts are tramplin' all over my God-given rights! They've used me and my pals most direly. And we are in need of a wee bit of assistance!


Fuck the South.
I'm no Scot, and barely English,* but I do loathe conservatives and the cattle, strivers and rentiers** who hand them the till.  Should any British wish to understand what has happened, I suggest they study Québec provincial politics to understand Scottish national.
History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Labour/Liberal, Conservative in either country?  "A pox on both."


*Half West Yorkshire, once-removed
**AKA their voters in the 90th, 9th and 1st percentiles.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Unlovable Toronto; Misanthrope Marathon

Nobody loves this place, unless in ignorance.  The reasons are legion, but I'll give an example to elucidate the whole.


I want to do this race in October, but I cannot easily get to it, and I live on a subway station!  What the everlasting fuck?!  The everlasting fuck in Toronto: fuck you if you don't have a car.

Here's the deal:
- all athletic events like this start early on Sundays*
- the trains do not start until nine in Toronto on Sundays!
- you can take buses before then, infrequently, and tardily
- but these will be diverted off the major streets, their normal routes
- instead of forty minutes to get there, over ninety
- I could cycle there far faster, which is probably something I don't want to do the day I'm going to run 42km
- did I mention one has to pick up the bib the day before the race at every running event in Canada (not so in Japan, but their mail works) and the location is far from any subway station?
- and nearly $100 CAD

There are no end of solutions. which can only not occur to an entire organization that has cars on the mind.  Fuck Toronto.

I may just do my Misanthrope Marathon: run on my own between two subways stations, at my convenience.


*I just missed one today, because it would take as long to get to it on a Sunday morning as it would take to get from Tokyo station to Nagoya.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

My Facebook: equal friend to blocked ratio

Mine's nearly equal.  Hmm...  If I were to look at it as an extrovert and optimist, I'd think I had a problem.  I am neither of those things.




Since this is Easter, and speaking of how much humanity sucks, let me retell the story.  There was a guy who came and said "be excellent to each other", so they killed him, and some self-hating Jew* with serious issues with women reworked the story to turn the guy's movement into a plutocratic death cult of pederasts, but without Saul of Tarsus we'd have never heard of the guy.  Fuck people.

*The Jewish part I'm fine with.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gravel Bikes (modern touring) Under $2K

I built up my own gravel mutt from parts I had around, but it's too much the touring bike for long gravel road rides or modern unpaved touring: camping gear is now lighter, so too should be the bike.

Selection rationals:
- Off-the-peg, because one's own build is too spendy.
- Canti brakes are derided, but they are still easier to maintain, allow you to run a more compliant fork and allow plenty of tire clearance.
- Disks are the fashion now, but there isn't the need if you set up your cantis right, and use wide-profile like the CR720.    I will not suggest hydraulic brakes for use far afield.
- Steel frame for best value by pricepoint.
- Shimano Tiagra quality grouppo, or better.
- Geometry more slack than road, but less than touring.
- Bar-end shifters or brifters?  There's an argument for both.  Certainly not on the down-tube.  Gevenalle Retro-Shifters might be best, but never come standard.


Here's my list of the bikes.

Cantilever Brakes

All City Space Horse is the closest to a one-bike to rule them all, but 2015 Tiagra chainrings are ugly!

Surly Cross Check is nearly the same thing, but has a bottom-bracket higher than ideal.

Disc Brakes

Raleigh Clubman Disc: not a real gravel-bike, but works in a pinch and a hell of a price-point.  Best all-around bike with discs?  That ugly chainring again!

Raleigh Tamland 1


Salsa Vaya 2

MEC CÔTE

Kona Rove

Sunday, 22 March 2015

$1000 steel road bikes

That's the cheapest you can go for a geared bike that rides decently.  Any aluminum or carbon frames or forks at this price point are as heavy as steel, and ride more poorly.  As do disk brakes, so none are included here.  No triple-ring cranks here either: unergonomic.  These make a great starter and winter road bike: commuting, light touring, the lot.

Raleigh Grand Sport
- has lots of room for tires and fenders
- won't require parts-swapping

Bianch Lupo
- a bit more rugged than the Grand Sport, and maybe heavier
- more room for tires and fenders
- you'll want to switch for wider-profile canti-brakes

Kona Honky Tonk
- 28mm tires and fenders will only just fit
- a few better bits in the drive-train


Monday, 16 March 2015

Real road bikes

Friend of mine has killed his old touring bike, though hasn't yet come to terms with it.  He's looking at a cost of switching out the worn parts that approaches replacement value, and he never much liked the bike he has.  This post is to convince him to go new.

He's not racing, and wants a bike to commute on and do long days, to multiple days, which means baggage.  I am trying to convince him he no longer needs a bulked out touring bike, as camping gear now weighs much less, and he's liable to use hotels more than he did in his youth.  So, for his benefit and any readers looking for an all-purpose road bike for any road conditions, here's my suggestions to him.  There's a lot of steel here, Tiagra Grouppo, because this is where he's going to get his money's worth. My recommendations.

Note that all of the double-ring cranks need adjustment of the gearing: IRD Triplizer or Shimano's new middle-rings on road-triples; triple-rings have a q-factor too wide.

I'd go for the Raleigh Record Ace with long-reach calipers, but really want the Grand Prix with the Ritchey frame for under $2K.  Outstanding.






Surly Cross Check
Does everything a touring bike can do, has been used as a versatile bike for over a decade with much success by many.  Lots of room for bigger tires and fenders, braze-ons and the like.  30-118", 2x10, bar-cons, cantis, 32 spoke wheels.  BB a bit high for touring.

Surly Straggler
Disc-brake version of the above, with brifters.

Surly Long Haul Trucker and Disc Trucker
As above, overbuilt for today's touring, more cumbersome and slack-angled, triple-ringed, better BB drop.

All City Space Horse
Slightly better frame than the Cross Check, and with brifters, but otherwise similar, but a lower BB.  All City Macho Man and disc version have the usual cyclocross issue for touring: high BB.

Trek 520 and disc version
Rather a lot like the Long Haul Truckers.

MEC CÔTEThis is a neat choice, if you are looking at a lot of gravel roads.

Raleigh Clubman Disc
Best value disc option here, I think.  Not my thing, but he wants them.  This is also the cheapest bike here!  $1000 USD.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Damn, Raleigh: the Grand Prix is my new n+1/s-1*

They give us the Grand Prix.
Where were you when I bought my steel road bike?
- That's a Ritchey Breakaway frame!**  Only $350 over the otherwise similar Record Ace, but a Ritchey steel frame is otherwise a $1750 upgrade.  This bike has everything for $2100.
- Campy Veloce grouppo corresponds to Shimano 105: anything more spendy is wanking.
- The geometry (note the slight, but not touring frame, space between the seat-tube and wheel; also the curved fork with lesser trail) is about right for randonneuring and light touring.  More importantly, it is a steel bike that can take you short of anything but racing, when you wouldn't want steel anyway, but not so heavy as to encourage you to bulk your kit.
- Long reach brakes and room for 28mm tires with fenders (more on the larger sizes I'd put money on).

Not sure what I think about the wheels, which is something I am under-informed on, but 32 spokes might have been a better way to go.

The compact-double is the common mistake of over-gearing bikes with gear-inches Eddie Merckx didn't need to win. There are three ways around that which may work, one expensive and two cheap:
- the expensive is replace the crankset with a Sugino OX801D, so long as the rest of the drivetrain works with it
- the cheaper way is an IRD Triplizer with a 24t inner cog, perhaps small enough not to need any change to the bottom bracket
- even cheaper is use one of the new Shimano middle road rings which work the same way (bonus points for making Campy fanatics grumble).
Any of these will work with levers, ideally these.

I just hope they have this in a year or two when I start to think of PBP...


*n+1/s-1:
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
I only wish they'd used wide-profile cantis, but that's not a popular choice.

**I know of no other major player using one.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ceci n'est pas un macchiato.


My wife and I had to use a Starbucks, because our end of town sucks.  She had coupons, including one for a macchiato.  So I ordered a double-macchiato.
Sir, you can't have a macchiato with that (coupon).  You have to have one of the Starbucks machiattos [sic.] like a 'caramel-latte-machiatto'.
There are only three coffees: black, espresso, or espresso with very little milk-foam, none mixed in by the barista. If you want a fucking milkshake, knock yourself out, but don't call it coffee.
...  Just get me a tall dark. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

EQAO standardized testing: the observer-expectancy effect, "damn lies and 'statistics'"

As most of my few readers are not from Ontario, I'll give a potted history on the EQAO testing done to grades three and six in elementary schools.  It was brought in for spring of 2001 by a right-wing government hostile to all public servants.  This happened to be my first year of teaching, so I only stayed in teaching as they got soon voted out.*  Proof it was a tool by a hostile government is how difficult it was  made the first year in order to insinuate the entire teaching profession hadn't been earning their keep, and how much easier the test was the second year so they could harp on how they'd overhauled the education system in a single year...  That it still exists is because the succeeding governments have been craven, just not hostile.*

Teachers have a limited effect on student's overall learning in the aggregate, as anyone with any class consciousness knows.






The education of mothers is as important, but you can see it tracks the same way as income and student outcomes.  A good teacher is humble enough to know they can help, but are not the deciding factor: that's Hollywood bullshit.  A decent society floats all boats on the tide, but that's not ours any longer.

If a government were interested in student learning, they'd be interested in all social outcomes: they'd be interested in income equality.  [Ruefully laughing my ass off.]












The test isn't even an accurate test of the failures of our society.  The books get cooked.

Put aside the schools which've had their wrists slapped for changing students' test booklets, and the others who supplied students the answers, because that's an inevitable flaw of all standardized testing: all part of the 'Observer-Expectancy Effect', and why none of them are very good.  Did I mention that the students' classroom teachers present the test to their own classroom?  Their administration is ridden hard by the superintendents for results that have little to do with socioeconomic realities in the school?  Or that the government marks the test themselves?  Cannot see how there'd be any conflicts there.  We INTJs are not subject to the 'Dunning-Kruger Effect', unlike the majority of the other personality archetypes.  Humans are a fucking trial.


An anecdote: a  decade ago, the staff laughed aloud at our principal, due to the 'Lake Wobegon Effect'.  She said, "We expect all the students to be above average."  OK, I did start the laughter.  Another: my school board, which cries poor over class sizes, technology, facilities, staff-benefits and work conditions and much more, has found it in their budget to have EQAO 'tutoring'.

You must understand, as I make my students and their parents understand, the test has no outcomes negative or positive to an individual student, or even teacher for the moment (though the hostile government would have made that happen, and I would now be abroad or in another career**).  It's a, deeply flawed, tool to see how the province, schools, and socioeconomic groups are doing.  Why are we teaching kids to do artificially well at this?

Jesus wept.

*Succeeding governments have less improved conditions than made them no worse.
**The day of the election that had the neo-cons voted out of the province, I announced aloud in the staff-room that if they retained the government I wouldn't be back the next year.  It'd only get worse so fuck it.  I was young enough to start over, with only two years invested.  I was right, but fucked if I know what I would've done.  I'm a teacher.  International schools in Japan would've been the best choice for me, but I knew nothing about them in 2001.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

I want my Dick Tracy watch, damnit!


So much nonsense about smartwatches lately, most of which are shitty accessories to smartphones.  Each of them is ugly as, and needs a charge every day.  That is to say, they are not as reliable as a watch, do not look as good as a decent watch, nor do much more and naught more without a phone nearby.  Do anything off such a small interface?

Why has only Pebble figured out the obvious: e-ink screen for battery life, and plastic is shit? 

Almost interested: why's the bezel wasting so much viewable space?  Someone needs to make the band also screen, but the bracelet form is a non-starter for men.  Homage must be paid to the classic form of the watch if it's going to be worn for anything but during exercise or sci-fi movies.

I realize the purpose of capitalism is to sell value-added products to idiots for a premium; nevertheless, what I want to buy is a replacement to my phone, not an augmentation to it of dubious usefulness.  The next frontier is make the watch central, and larger display devices the peripheral. I've had to run with my smartphone. It'd be nice to leave it behind, but maintain connectivity.  This company's trying, but until a big player does...

In summary, make me a watch:
- with long battery life
- is the phone
- has a large screen extended to the band
- looks appropriate for an adult to wear
- links easily to touchscreens for a larger interface
- has an ergonomic solution to calls in public

This is why I am not an 'early adopter' or the target market.  A smartwatch that replaced a smartphone would be at cross-purposes to selling more tat, in the minds of sellers.  It's a stupid way to think for Android and Windows phones*, but makes sense for the marketing company pretending to be a computer company - Apple.  My phone is Samsung, my TV is LG as is my wife's phone, my wife's tablet is some Docomo D-Tab Chinese POS, my laptop is HP and my wife's Dell, and I had a Kindle once:  Android users are not loyal.  Apple can pull this shit, but Android makers have to make their device a better replacement than everyone else's, such as a watch that replaces a phone in an effective way.

*As I've never seen a Windows phone in the wild, I don't believe they exist; just as I believe Blackberry is extinct.