Category Archives: Uncategorized

From a Friend

Time for some politics!

My friend, Dale Getto, has asked me to reach out to you.  She’s asking for our help.  If you don’t know Dale, throughout her lifetime she has been active in causes related to social justice.  For example, she worked to ensure that human rights for the LGBT community were legitimized and protected.  Dale has also been on the ground electing people to office sympathetic to her values, often contrary to the “majority.”  On Tuesday, September 9th, she is running as a Judicial Delegate in this year’s Democratic Primary.

Judicial Delegates?  From here:

Judicial Delegates are elected during the same time as other political positions.  Unlike the other political positions, each political party elects judicial delegates.  The main responsibility of judicial delegates is to attend a convention where they elect individuals to the New York State Supreme Court.  This is an unpaid job, but requires little time, and is a great public service opportunity.  It also gives newcomers the opportunity to learn more about petitioning and the political process.  Judicial Delegates are unpaid elected officials who serve a two year term.

Did you know that delegates are typically handpicked by party leaders to vote for the party chair’s candidate of choice?  Dale is running, along with a slate of other citizens against this status quo, because she believes that voters should have a voice in choosing our next Supreme Court Judge and because she believes, as do I, that the people we elect to serve our communities should be more representative of those communities.  She is also running because of the glaring lack of diversity in our Judicial District – all of our three sitting Supreme Court trial judges are white men.

There are currently no women or persons of color serving  as Supreme Court justices in our 3rd Judicial district.  That’s because the white male leadership in our Albany County Democratic Party has only once nominated a woman for Supreme Court – one time in the history of our courts – and that was in 2001!  You and I have a chance to change that in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, September 9th.

It is 2014, and there were many opportunities for the party to make sure the bench reflects the citizenry of Albany County.  To that end, when Dale, along with the slate of delegates listed below win their seat, they will be supporting the candidacy of Judge Margaret Walsh.

Judge Walsh has the experience and qualifications to be an effective Supreme Court Judge.  She has been an Albany County Family Court Judge for almost 10 years and for more than five years has been an acting Supreme Court Justice: the court system has deemed her fit to handle Supreme Court cases.  Why shouldn’t we?

I hope you will agree that we deserve a choice in who serves us on the Supreme Court and that you will join me in supporting Dale Getto and the rest of the slate of delegates who think, as I do, that Judge Walsh is very well qualified to hold this important position.

If you live in the 109th Assembly District (represented by Patricia Fahey) please vote for Dale Getto and the other delegates appearing on the slate with her on Tuesday, September 9th.  If you live in either the 108th or the 110th Assembly Districts you’ll be voting for delegates from another slate committed to voting for Judge Walsh.  A list of delegates committed to voting for Judge Walsh is here.  Take a picture with your phone of the list of your delegates and bring it to the poll.

If you want help even further, please consider forwarding this post to your family, friends and social media contacts, along with your words of support.  Together we can make a difference!

Thank you.

Two

An argument against polishing chainrings.

An argument for letting wild onions grow.  At the same time an argument for turning my phone when I make videos, since teaming bees are not visible in the sliver of window I’ve shared.  Maybe click on the video to go to youtube to watch it bigger?  Maybe not worth it.  Trust me.  It was fun to watch and I so wanted to share it.

If the person who named these tires didn’t get a bonus…gt

With those, I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Someday

This makes me feel better.

As usual, I found it on Urban Velo.

This makes me feel better too.bov

This makes me feel the best.fws

Hope you are smiling, too!

p.s.  Please buy this before I do.

Small Bite

I have tortillas on my mind and my wanderings around the corner of the web reserved for them brought me to this.

I so wish I needed a tortilla making machine.

Las Dos Cosas

Yesterday the three of us went camping at Thompson’s Lake.  A fine day!t

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It is a high density campground.  If you’re louder than your neighbors, you’ll probably have fun (provided you don’t get kicked out for being too loud, too late).  If you are quieter than your neighbors, you may notice them a little too much.  We had couples arguing (next door), parents yelling at kids nonstop (across the way) and a very loud singer (we could follow the words even though she was a dozen campsites distant).  We made the best of it until we’d had enough.  Even so, we got to make camp, enjoy a fire, cook and eat some food, drink a couple of beers, walk to the water, nap in the sun and read.  I’ll call it a win, but hope the roulette wheel lands on a different number for our next visit.

Today I made my first scratch made corn tortilla!  Just the one (but more tomorrow).  I bought cal from the Mexican grocery (also known as slaked lime, a mysterious white powder that becomes less mysterious with a little reading) and had on hand organic dried yellow field corn.  The corn was briefly cooked in the water and cal slurry and is now soaking on the counter.  n

Once soaked and washed, the corn is called nixtamal.  The dough made from adding a little water to the ground nixtamal is called masa.  Whether the masa is suitable for tortillas or tamales depends on how you cook, soak and grind the corn.  The magic, though, is in the nixtamalization.  Google it if you are unfamiliar with the process.  Amazing stuff.

Making tortillas from dried corn requires time and patience.  I generally have plenty, but not this once.  I was instructed to let the corn soak in the water and cal slurry overnight, but I washed an individual kernel after 15 minutes of soaking and ground it in my krok hin.  Not the typical tool for grinding corn for masa, but it worked.  I added one or two drops of water, hand formed the world’s smaller tortilla (smaller than a penny!) and cooked it up.  Not good.  I had last ground star anise in the krok hin and the residue darkened the dough and gave it an odd taste.

I washed my krok hin.  After 30 minutes of soaking I made the second one kernel tortilla.  Wonderful!  After 45 minutes I did it again.  Just having fun, you know.  This time I pressed the pea sized ball of dough in my new tortilla press. So cute!

Time for a bigger test.  After an hour of soaking I repeated the process with a quarter cup of kernels.  I washed, dried and ground the corn, added less than a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt.  The dough was to rest for 30 minutes.  It got five minutes while I under heated the cast iron griddle.  No patience required for testing small batches!  I pressed the ball of dough into a tortilla and cooked it up.  I was to let the tortilla steam in a towel for 15 minutes to finish cooking and soften.  It got five.  Despite my numerous shortcuts, the tortilla impressed me (for what that is worth–my experience set is limited).  Big gains in flavors and texture.  Definitely something to be said for doing it all at home.  ft

I doubt I’ve had many fresh tortillas made with corn nixtamalized at home.  If I have, they were most likely made by my friend Michelle.  She’s very talented and modest.  She wouldn’t have said anything unless asked (and I didn’t know to ask).  I still remember, though, one magic meal she made for us.  She had been cooking for two days.  A real stunner.  Haven’t had the likes of it since.

Tortillas numbers two through infinity are bound to be even better.  I’ll let the corn soak overnight.  I’ll grind it in my mill for a smoother texture (the hand ground corn was really amazing, but it would be a pain to grind a pound or more this way).  I’ll let the dough rest for 30 minutes.  I’ll let the griddle get hot.  Looking forward to it.

Time to go.  Hope you had a great weekend!

Something Better

That last post… I don’t know.  This one?  It’s the real thing.  Plucked from eBay, Oregon State, don’t you know, a vintage ball peen hammer.bph

I didn’t until recently know for what these were made.  They’re made to, among other things, form heads on rivets.  I didn’t have any one sided rivets, but I did have a nail.  First try, one minute tops.  fr

Color me impressed (with this tool).

Have a great weekend.

Mixed

All Over Albany shared a proposal to add to Madison Avenue a protected bicycle lane.  AOA is great blog deserving of its large readership, so big thanks, but lots of readers means lots of comments.  Comments are often wipeouts that spoil an otherwise pleasant day in the surf.  Happily, not so bad this time.  The comments on this post in large part make me proud of my neighbors (even as my comment reminds me to proofread more carefully).  Onward.

No offense to the good folks advocating for protected bike lanes, but I kinda sorta don’t want them.  The benefits are obvious, I’ll give you those, but they’ll be hard to see in shadows cast by billowing clouds of downsides.  Don’t see the clouds?  I always do.  I remember my mom calling me a worrier.  As in I worry too much.  She’s right, but I won’t stop.  I was born this way.  Worries keep me safe.  Here are my worries.  Maybe they’ll keep you safe.

Crazy pedalers.  Protected bike lanes encourage new pedalers to get out there.  Pedaling without instruction as to how to pedal in traffic, in protected lanes in particular, is crazy.  Crazy pedalers are a risk only to themselves, pedestrians, dogs, squirrels and paint jobs, and they go slower than cars.  Maybe they know this and it’s why they feel ok ignoring inconvenient laws.  Stop it!  You make us look bad.  I know motorists break as many laws and risks are higher with higher speeds, sizes and weights,  but for you and me, it is guilt by association.  You’re on my team and I expect more from you.  That, and I don’t want any of you, pedestrians, dogs, squirrels or paint jobs to get hurt.

Crazy pedalers may do fine in a protected lane, perhaps better than outside of one, but intersections and driveways are where most accidents happen and protected lanes don’t help in these dangerous zones–they make things worse.  If there are two way bike lanes on one side, pedalers traveling against the flow of auto traffic will be harder to see.  Also, traveling behind the parked cars that provide the protection further decrease your visibility.  Visibility is a peddler’s guardian angle and I’m leery of anything that reduces it.

From memory, the biggest risk faced by cyclists is the left hook (left turning motorist hits a pedaler going straight).   The second is the right hook (right turning motorist hits a pedaler going straight).  Collisions while being overtaken, the collisions that protected lanes may help reduce, are way down the list.

Look at a diagram of a protected bike lane and ask yourself how you will react at intersections, whether going straight through them or turning.  What crazy things do you think motorists and other pedalers will do?  And never forget the door zone.  You pedal four feet from parked cars to reduce the risk presented by opening doors, right?   In a protected lane as proposed, passenger doors will be the ones swinging into your path.  Maybe that’s not so bad as most car trips are taken alone (no passenger), but it only takes one.  Before you pedal take a bike safety class from a League of American Bicyclists approved instructor.  Please!

Crazy Motorists.  Even if new pedalers take bike safety classes, motorists won’t.  That’s crazy!  How will you ever learn that I am stopped in the left lane, your lane, signaling a left turn, because I am turning left (you know who you are, you Kia SUV owner who honked at me thirty minutes ago)?  Crazy motorists will find themselves on a road with new markings with nothing but guesses as to what they mean.   They’ll misinterpret the markings six different ways.  Much like they misinterpret sharrows.  They’ll “wing it.”  Winging it for crazy drivers means looking ahead and maintaing speed.  Maybe even gunning it (to get through the confusing bits more quickly).  They’ve been driving for years and the worst thing that’ll happen to them is a little scratched paint.  They know because papers tell them it takes a lot more than killing a cyclist to get as much as a ticket.

Even the most compassionate and well informed motorists may not see a bicyclist when turning.  Attention, vision and interpretation are imperfect at best.  Add a two way protected lane on one side of the road and now fast moving pedalers are coming from two directions when a motorist is trying to turn left or right across the path of the two way bike lane.  Even one way protected lanes have the left and right hook problems.  How’s that going to work?  Crazy motorists can’t figure out how to share nicely on our 101 level roads.  Protected bike lanes are master’s level set ups and I do not want to pedal through the learning curve.

[The news just said "the bar served him three double gin and tonics in an hour."  I wasn't otherwise listening, but my guess is the man with a big thirst for G&Ts got in a car and killed someone.  Six drinks in an hour?  Drinker:  If you must, that's home style drinking.  As in keep it in your home.  Bartender:  Be more careful when dispensing strong medicine!  Pedalers:  That's who we are pedaling amongst.]

A brief aside.  How’s a pedaler to keep safe, protected lane or not?  Don’t trust any motorist to see you.  Your safety is entirely your obligation.  Twice I have said to myself “they see me” and both times I have been hit.  Once on a motorbike and once on a bicycle.  Learn from my mistakes.  Don’t pass cars on the right at intersections and take the lane, whether traffic is stopped or moving.  Act like a car.  Wait in line and you’ll be more visible.  The risks of left and right hooks will be reduced.  An added benefit–motorists only have to pass you once.  Think about it–if you pass motorists on the right at red lights and stop signs, they have to pass you multiple times on a single stretch of road.  I feel ok expecting my neighbors to pass me safely once, and in return I don’t make them do it again.

Experienced Pedalers.  Like I said, we am safer when seen.  I love my helmet mirror.  It helps me more easily scoot out into traffic where the road is too narrow to share side by side, where I’ll be seen.  Motorists are forced to wait behind or change lanes to pass.  Scoot to the right as soon as you safely can.  Or sooner if you see in your mirror motorists are misbehaving.  Protected bike lanes will force pedalers to the very edge of the road, traveling behind parked vehicles (think like a pessimist and picture panel vans and tall trucks).  Pedalers will be way less visible.  It will be doubly important for pedalers to pause if not stop at intersections, despite a green light.  Motorists will need to do the same.  I will.  Will you?  What if your riding partner doesn’t?  The increased risk means more slowing, even stopping, so a harder ride.  Accelerating is tough!  That’s why Idaho lets pedalers roll trough stop signs if it is clear.  Pedalers, both new and old, will be less likely to ride if they have to stop every block.  I ride on Madison instead of back streets because it is a through street giving me green lights through many intersections and a second lane for cars to easily pass me.  Protected bike lanes will slow me down.  Others may go faster, or as fast, but that’s a mistake.  We’ll see.

My Hang Ups.  More personal, but maybe more important because it would come up on a daily basis.  Give me a facility and I form an expectation.  I’ll get grumpy when my expectation isn’t satisfied.  Build a protected lane and people will park on it.  Potholes, debris and snow plowed to the side will make it unpassable.  I won’t curse the snow (truth be told I probably won’t be pedaling much in it), but I will curse wrongly parked vehicles and poor maintenance.  It’s like the nifty new stop signs in front of our local park.  As soon as they put them up, my blood boiled as 95% of motorists roll through the signs.  Some without braking.  The nerve!

Universal Balance.  You win some, you lose some.  Add a protected bike lane and a counterweight will appear.   Something bad.  Cars will be parked on the protected bike lane.  You’ll get angry.  You leave the lane to avoid the parked car.  Then a car hollers at you to get in the protected lane.  Maybe an officer gives you a ticket for pedaling outside of the lane.  Angrier still.  Sad.

Isolation.  Even if you like protected lanes, one protected lane blows.  Even if the protected lane is consider a success, don’t hold your breath waiting for a second lane.  We just got our second painted bike lane in Albany.  How many years since our first on Clinton Avenue?  How many times is a new biker going to have a trip starting and finishing on the segment of Madison Avenue with the lane?  When new pedalers leave the lane to go to the co-op or the Spectrum Theater, how’s it going to go?  It makes me really nervous.

Enough with the worrying.  Just my thoughts.  If most want the protected lanes, and most probably do, have at it.  But please get educated, slow down and get a mirror.

One thousand five hundred eighty-eight words.  Time to go!