Category Archives: Uncategorized

Taking Requests

IMG_3901Garden.  Some wins.  Some losses.  Greens, beets, cukes and tomatoes are all headed in the right direction.  The shelling peas went nowhere.  Maybe ten pods, then dried up.  I pulled them out today.  The frisee went to seed really quickly this year.  Last year it produced all summer without getting bitter.  The bok choy went to seed well before the heads matured.  Now I have eight or so ratty looking heads of bok choy to prepare.  Bok choy anyone?  I have already made a saucy Chinese bok choy dish and a stir fried Chinese bok choy dish.  Today it was Korean–gochujang noodles with tofu and bok choy adapted from here.   So good!

I had bought and have been dying to use some fancy gochujang, so this dish was ticking at least a couple of boxes.  Here’s the recipe with my tweaks.




4 ounces dried noodles


2 Tbs Gochujang (recipe called for 4 Tbs—too spicy)
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
2 Tbs Sesame Oil
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1/2 Tbs Sugar


1 Pound Tofu cubed
1 Napa Cabbage quartered and chopped


Scallion and Peanuts chopped


Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package instructions. Strain the noodles and rinse well. Drain and set aside.

Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Fry tofu in wok with oil.  Remove from wok.  Fry veg in wok.  When done, add in noodles, tofu and sauce.  Stir well.

Top with scallion and peanuts.

Also made a quick cucumber kimchi with the first three cucumbers from the garden.  Recipe in this post.  For this I was able to use for the first time this fancy gochugaru.

This summer I’ve bicycled no further than the garden, library and store.  I want and need to get out for some longer rides, but I have a handful of excuses getting in the way.  Here’s hoping I can put aside the excuses and enjoy the amazing weather we’ve been having here.  CDTA isn’t breaking records addressing my close passing concerns.  Thought I had some momentum, but it isn’t looking good.  I’ll ping them tomorrow.

Frida is doing great.  She is still walking at 1 mph, but she covers ground–typically one to two miles.  Sorry to say she’s becoming an increasingly picky eater.  Normal for an old dog, but we’ve never seen it (our only other dog died suddenly at 10 years of age).  Frida is showing us what old dogs can do!  It is not uncommon for her to skip a meal here and there.  As a result, she’s dropped three pounds.  We ran into our vet on a walk and she said Frida shouldn’t lose more weight, so we are getting creative when putting together Frida’s meals.  Things that have helped include dog biscuits from Berben & Wolff’s, Daiya block cheese, Miyoko’s aged cheddar (that I made), low sodium beef broth and a gravy I made by mixing equal parts peanut butter and water.  One or more of these add ons, plus more often than not hand feeding, have encouraged Frida to keep the kibble and meat heading down her hole.  It’s been tough.  A meal finished is a triumph but a meal rejected or half eaten is heartbreaking.

I’ve recently completed two decidedly not epic adventures.

First, I read all of Haruki Murakami’s 14 novels in the first six months of 2016.  I’m starting his four short story collections next.  I am obsessed with his work.

Second, I ate every sandwich on the menu at Berben & Wolff’s.  I am obsessed with their work.  I’ve enjoyed ten delicious sandwiches.  Not in one sitting, but over roughly six weeks.  I’ve had a few requests for guidance.  I’m not really into ranking things (Buddhists work hard to avoid dualistic thinking–for example any this is better than that sort of thing), so I propose you read the short menu and order the sandwich that matches your mood.  Now that I’m done working through the menu, I’ll let the weather be my guide.  Hot but still need to eat?  Tempeh chickpea salad or TLT.  Cold and really hungry?  Philly, reuben or sunflower burger.  In the mood for analogs?  Cubano, wing burger, breakfast sandwich (Lacey likes that this is served with fruit rather than chips) or BBQ jackfruit.  Not in the mood for analogs?  Mushroom po’ boy is wonderful.  I think that covers it.  Oh–desserts and sides are not to be missed.

It’s the 4th of July.  Keep your dogs inside and put on their ThunderShirts.  Close the windows.  Play music.  Comfort them.  It will be over soon enough.

Take care.


I’ve Seen the World

Enough of it for today, anyway.  Walked Frida 1.2 miles.  IMG_3552

Mowed the lawn.  Pedaled to the garden to water, to The Orchard for lunch, and finally to the library to pick up the last two Haruki Murakami novels that I’ve yet to read.  IMG_3574

All the biking went well.  Everyone shared nicely.

Had a close pass by a CDTA bus yesterday, though.  Saw them coming in my mirror and decided to stay fully to the right for a change.  Didn’t work.  They snuggled right up.  About as close as I’ve ever been passed.  Two feet of space between their mirror and my shoulder max.  Really spooky.  No room to move left or right.  I was forced to play blue angel stunt pilot with a bus driver I’ve never met.  It was bus number 4093 on route 10.  I mention the number only because I’ve called that one in at least once before.  I remember the number!  I wonder if operators drive the same bus day after day?  No matter.  I called it in again.  The call center operator was super nice.  Supervisor is supposed to call.

The other CDTA rep that I’ve been working with hasn’t responded to my suggested text for the close passing memo.  The delay and spotty communication together suggest he isn’t as committed to fixing this as he seemed when we met face to face.

Time to try other things.  Here is my first letter to the editor of the Times Union.

It’s great that we’re spending a lot of money, federal, state and local, to make Albany a better place to bicycle.  Still, no matter how many bicycle lanes and trails are built, we still need to share lanes with motor vehicles when we are between cycling facilities.  This needn’t be a problem if all road users knew all the relevant laws, or were even consistently safe and courteous.  So many motorists do a great job of safely sharing the road with bicyclists, but too many don’t.  It is rare that I bicycle more than a mile without a close pass.  This needs to stop.

Close passes are scary, dangerous and illegal.  The current law in New York State was enacted after a bicyclist was crushed by a passing city bus in NYC.  The law and legislative history, together, require motorists to leave a minimum of three feet when passing a cyclist.  The CDTA operators manual recommends that busses leave a minimum of five feet and slow to pass.

It is important to know that the safe passing buffer doesn’t include exceptions.  No matter where the cyclist is in a lane, you need to leave three feet when passing.  Cyclists can legally leave the right hand side of the lane when there are obstructions in their path (i.e. parked cars, glass, grates and potholes), when they need to turn left and when the lane is too narrow to share side by side.  These exceptions to the stay right rule nearly swallow the rule as our gutters are pot holed and many of our lanes in town are very narrow.  Even the widest lanes are too narrow for large vehicles and bicyclists to share side by side once you factor in the safe passing buffer.

Since it is nearly impossible for a motorist to accurately gauge the distance between a bicycle and the outside of their mirror, and since bicyclists have the right to leave the right hand side of the road when necessary to be safe, the best practice for a passing motorist is to fully leave the cyclist’s lane when passing.  Motorists are allowed to cross double yellows to do so (provided there is no oncoming traffic).  If you can’t fully leave the lane because of other traffic, wait to pass.  You won’t need to wait more than 10 seconds before you can pass safely.  If the lives of your neighbors who chose to bicycle aren’t worth a 10 second delay, let us know now so we can stop building bicycle infrastructure that most bicyclists will be too scared to use.

I also dropped a note to the mayor to see if she’ll discuss the topic on her radio show (Saturday at 7:30 a.m. on 101.5 fm).  Mark my word–little by little I am going to get the word out.  We are going to share nicely!

Happy Friday to you all.  Be safe and sweet.

Why’s It Gotta Be So Hard?

How’s it go in the hifi world?  Something like this–I want to hear in my living room the best possible reproduction of the sound produced in the recording studio or the concert hall.  Just once I sat in a music room and listened to a system that brought tears to my eyes.  Happy tears.  It was gosh darned magic.  I don’t cry when I hear my system.  No happy tears, but at least no sad tears either.  Good enough sound that when I listen to a good recording, my ears aren’t fatigued trying to make sense of what is being presented.  Claps sound like claps.  A bass drum sounds like a bass drum and so on.  Sadly, my system is also good enough to make bad recordings or bad pressings sound truly awful.

Same thing in the beer world.  When I open a beer at home, I want to taste what the brewer tasted on the day they packaged the offering.  Best shot I have at that is to drink fresh beer.  Hoppy beers with average alcohol should be stored cold and consumed as fast as possible.  I mean as soon as possible.  Never longer than 90 days.  Although a three month old hoppy beer has a chance at tasting like beer, the delicate oils from the hops will have given up the ghost.  Sure, big booze offerings can be stored for longer periods, but it is summer and I want nothing to do with big beers in hot weather.

With delicate beers, bottling dates matter.  Ideally a bottler will write on the outside of the case and on each bottle and can a bottled on date in plain English.  Something like “bottled on 06.01.16.”  Julian codes might be deciphered if the numbers are arranged in a logical way.  But too many are screwed around into an undecipherable jumble.  That’s why I used to rely on  They did their best to post a decoder ring for each and every brewer, that is until the site was recently closed. Big loss.  Sounds like it was a matter of cash flow.  It may be an Android app now, but I am playing on, being played by, the other team.  So now when a brewer has a strange code, I have to check the brewer’s site.  Some give a decoder ring in a FAQ page, but few do.  I’ll write to them if I have the energy, but I often don’t.  Even when I do, some won’t bother writing back.

Whatever.  The folks at Oliver’s are there to help.  Name the style you want and ask which beers of that style just arrived.  Today I brought home Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin.  They got it in this Tuesday.  If I am interpreting the julian code correctly, it was bottled on April 29, 2016.  Already roughly a month old.  Good enough for me, but I will drink one a day for a week rather than leave it sit in the fridge for months more.

By the way, have you started tipping employees when they fill your growlers?  $2 for a growler and $1 for a howler?  I’ve read this is a pretty typical expression of gratitude.  Besides, name a service provider for whom you are more thankful.  Seriously–beer!  

Speaking of which, I’m late for a double  date with Lacey, Frida and a growler of Bear Republic Racer 5.  Stop by in the next 30 minutes and I will be happy to pour you one.  Cheers!

Say There!

Frida at 15 on 06.01.16Frida turned 15 yesterday!  Lacey and I both quietly sang happy birthday to her at different times.  I like to picture Lacey singing breathily, like Marilyn Monroe to JFK, but I doubt it went down that way.  I also made Frida some biscuits, which she enjoyed.Frida's Birthday Biscuits 06.01.16

She ate three yesterday.  Seems like a lot, but I’m happy to give her as many as she wants.  She has been slow to eat her meals.  Still gets roughly 1.5 meals down the hatch each day, but that sometimes involves letting her food sit for hours until we feed her by hand.  I’m not terribly worried.  She weighs 43 pounds (a couple less than last year) and still has enough energy to walk (usually 1.2 miles a day and two miles today).  Frida walking 06.01.16

Although the timing was unfortunate, I took her to the ophthalmologist on her birthday.  Just a check up.   All went well.  She is producing tears at just under normal rates and has no corneal ulcers.

The doctor visit excepted, it was a perfect Frida birthday.  Quite and predictable, just the way she likes to spend her days.

Both literally and figuratively, I now have six of ten Berben & Wolff menu items under my belt.  All terrific!  The place was packed at lunch today.  They’ve made something that Albany understands and appreciates.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings to these fine folks.  And to the customers!

Both gardens are looking great.  I’ve already harvested herbs from the home garden (cilantro and African basil), and can start to bring home from the community garden lettuce, mustard greens and Napa cabbage as soon as I have recipes in mind.  Feels good to be back at it.

I’m not happy to say that today I witnessed a friend’s Ghisallo wooden bicycle rim explode.  Three blocks from his home, we had pulled over to check out some lawn art.   As we sat, the rim split it two, cracking along the spoke holes and letting go of the air in the tube all at once.  Like a gunshot.  Our hearts missed a beat, then saw the tire had come off the rim.  As we gathered our wits we saw the split in the rim and the spokes hanging loose.  The bike couldn’t be rolled.  He had to shoulder it three blocks to home.  Sad.  Such a pretty wheel.  The owner may have added a few too many pounds of air.  Looks like the maker recommends for this rim 4.5 bar (65 psi).  Seem as though my friend is not the only one to experience a pressure related failure.  They now  make rims with carbon fiber tire beds to permit higher pressures.  “Ultimate Optional.”  I guess if I wanted to enjoy wood rims I would consider those.  No one would have to know I was running carbon, with it neatly hidden from sight.

Meditation has been nice.  If you want thirty minutes to seem like an hour, just sit there.  Do it enough and you’ll feel you’ve doubled your life span!

Still reading Haruki Murakami–just now half way through his memoir about running.  Almost makes me want to run.  Almost.  Running was a pain as a teenager, so I can only imagine the misery I would experience today.  I’ll stick to biking.

The CDTA hadn’t been in touch about the close passing memo to operators, so I dropped a note.  They said the manager of safety is retiring and the replacement in transitioning into the post.  Said they should have a memo to share in a couple of weeks.  I saw an opportunity to steer the outcome, so I proposed the following:

Busses and bicycles can’t safely share a single lane side by side.  When passing a cyclist, fully leave the cyclist’s lane before starting the pass and don’t return to their lane until you’ve cleared the cyclist.  If you can’t fully change lanes, wait a safe distance behind the cyclist until you can.  This should apply to all passes, regardless of the number of lanes.

Sound good?  Should have also reminded drivers to slow when passing, but I don’t see that happening.  If they fully changed lanes, I’d be in heaven.

I hope you are well and enjoying summer!

Lazy Morning

Thanks to Lacey we’ve enjoyed six days of meditation first thing in the morning.  First time on the cushion in ten years!  Lacey doesn’t enjoy the Japanese aloeswood incense I have on hand (too smoky) so a box of Japanese smokeless is on the way.  Smokeless incense?   Who knew?Lilac

Friends invited us to join them at a soft opening for Berben and Wollf’s vegan delicatessen last evening.  Forever in their debt!

It’s great to again have a vegan restaurant in town.  Looks like this one is going to be the best yet.  Read my review here.  I think the joint is opening to the public this Tuesday, but check their Facebook page to be sure.  Oh–says they’ll be making puppy treats, too!  I’m wiring to them all my money now.  You’ll know where to find me for the foreseeable future!

I’m not on Facebook but have made my way there to check out Berben and Wolff’s feed.  Maybe it’s good that I’m not on FB.  Check out this comment about the excellent bread they are using.


I wish HM could have resisted sharing his views on veganism.  He looks old enough to know better than to expect perfection.  Veganism for me is about love.  Rock Hill deserves praise for their work to date and encouragement to keep up the progress.

Frida has walked one point two miles each day for four days in a row!  She is a miracle wrapped in the cutest fur coat you’ve ever hoped to snuggle.

I’m halfway through Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart–the ninth Murakami novel I’ve read in 2016!  Guess what?  Love it!

It’s Saturday.  Work party at the community garden in three hours and a Frida to walk before then.

Hope you have a terrific day!

Goings On

Lacey asked me yesterday to meditate with her this morning.  She says she thinks it will be good for her, but I think she also believes it will be good for me.  She’s right.  Why haven’t I been on the cushion for a decade?zafu and zabuton 05.10.16

Then Frida walked 1.2 miles.  Her cart was at hand but unused.  This weekend she was closing her left eye.  We flushed it and added four times the normal number of comfort drops.  By Monday it was back to normal.  Wind, pollen, leaf pod casings–I don’t care so long so she is feeling at ease.

Frida 05.10.16

Jack, the caretaker of our local pond, aka the Mayor of Dogville, asked me to reach out to the city to protest the relocation of Carl (spelling guess)–his coworker and best pal–to the Corning Preserve.  I wrote to the city using the AlbanyWorks4You app.  Please consider doing the same (or you can add your support at this link).  Mom and Dad–You remember Jack and Carl, right?  While doing a bang up job keeping our pond looking perfect, Jack feeds biscuits to the dogs and Carl feeds the cardinal that still comes by daily for peanuts.  Yesterday the cardinal landed on Frida’s cart’s handle!

Next up I pedaled to the garden to water sprouts and seedlings.  I was the only one there, unlimited sunshine and perfect temperature together conspired to keep me there.  I should have given in, but I have a deal to close in an hour and a dog that sleeps better when she knows I am nearby.  Cabbage 05.10.16

Consider this ride.

Cycle the Sam 05.22.16

Cycle the Sam is a collaboration between Troy Bike Rescue and Capital Roots.   They will ride the length of the Uncle Sam trail, then some  will double back while others continue through Waterford, Cohoes, and Green Island.  The ride will be moderately paced and family-friendly.  It is in my calendar but I doubt I will go.  Too many hours away from my dearest Frida (and I’m not strong enough to pull her all that way).  If you can’t go, at least spread the word.  Doesn’t it sound fun?

I fixed my tube amp!  A bridge rectifier failed.  I had a spare on hand and soldered it in.  I was nervous as hell, but it worked out well.  My four puddles of solder are to the right of the screwdriver.  Tidy!

Bridge Rectifier Solder 05.08.16

This was my first soldering job on a board.  The bridge rectifier retails for $1.50, but I bought a multimeter, a new soldering iron tip and some soldering wick.  Would have been much cheaper to have my hifi guy do the work, but it isn’t fun lugging the amp there and back.  It’s heavy!  Probably next time, though.  It really is a job for a pro.

A friend reminded me to take care when inside as large capacitors can retain lethal charges for weeks after the amp is turned off.  The amp had been off for a month, but I used my multimeter to confirm that all of the capacitors had fully drained.  Next time I will make a device to safely drain the caps as soon as I open the enclosure.  I also read that this amp has resistors in the circuit whose job it is to quickly drain the caps when the amp is powered off.  Still have to check and best to manually drain and check each time.

A CDTA rep called yesterday about my most recent close pass.  Not the person with whom I normally speak.  She said she had spoken to the driver to explain their mistake and assured me this driver will not make it again.  She apologized and said it must be scary.  I agreed.  It is terribly so.  She said the drivers should know better, but not all do.  She said they have a lot of new drivers this year and was happy to hear that another in the CDTA is putting together a memo to all drivers requiring them to fully change lanes to pass cyclists.  She invited me to call if it happens again.  What a great call.  Things are going to get better.  I can feel it.  It’s probably the vitamin D talking, burt I don’t care why I am optimistic.  It is just where I want to be.

My parents’ dog is still missing.  Three weeks or a month, even.  Poor Annie.  Poor parents.  I hope they are reunited soon.

I need to go.  Take care.


Yesterday I met with the CDTA to discuss close passes by busses.  It went well.

We started by reviewing a video of the most recent close pass I reported.  While he pulled up the video, I asked about the cameras.  Eight on each bus all taping at the same time.  Eight?  Some inside.  I remembered the bus fight that recently went down.  He said he was the first person at CDTA to respond to this–was in the office for 8 hours the next Saturday morning.  Ugh.  That was a tough situation.

We watched the video of the pass together.  I kept a poker face and the CDTA rep concluded it was a safe pass.  I was hoping to agree so I could relax in the face of what I believed to be close passes.  Unfortunately, the pass was clearly not safe.

Having made a bunch of careful measurements and calculations, I know a bus that is two arm lengths from me is three feet away.  That’s assuming bus mirrors extend nine inches (something I haven’t measured but I will at the first opportunity).  I brought a tape measure to the meeting but didn’t get to measure–we spent enough time talking–but the reality is every mirror will be a different height and extend out a different amount (they are adjustable).  And all cyclists are different heights.  Too much to calculate on the fly so the only way a driver can be safe is to assume the mirror could contact the cyclist and use the outside of the mirror as the place from which to measure the three foot safe pass.

The math from there is simple–24″ from my body to the tip of my fingers, less 3″ gained in width if my arm were down (the outside of my shoulder when my arm is down is 3″further out than my body when my arm is extended), plus 24″ when my arm length is doubled, less the assumed nine inches for the mirror gets you to 24-3+24-9=36 (3 feet).  Two arm lengths for the three feet safe pass.  Three arm lengths for the five feet safe pass recommended in the CDTA manual.

The bus in the video was 1.5 arm lengths from me.  I knew because I brought a pair of architectural dividers and used them to measure the distances on the screen.  Set them at 1 arm length (my arm was extended in the video).  Yup.  The bus was never more than 1.5 arm lengths away from my right shoulder.  To be precise, it was 24-3+12-9=24″.

The pass was within two feet.  Illegal and scary to watch on a computer in an office, but not nearly as scary as it was to experience it on the road.  The size, noise and heat, together with the proximity, make for a terrifying experience and I told the CDTA rep so.

He was understanding and sympathetic, but pointed out that the bus was within a foot from the centerline of the second lane.  The bus had almost fully left the lane I was in.  I was in the middle of the lane when the bus passed.  The rep suggested only one fix–I could get closer to the curb.

I reminded him of the exception to the stay right law.  When a lane is too narrow for a bike and a second user to share side by side, the bike can leave the curb.  The cyclist “takes the lane” to communicate to the other user that they need to pass in another lane.  I was on a part of Western where all four traffic lanes are narrow.  Headed west just after Allen.  The lanes are narrow for just two blocks to Manning, after which the outside lanes become wide enough for a bike and a car, but not a bike and a bus.

The safe passing zone is a moving zone of three feet.  Not three feet from a theoretical cyclist pedaling near the right hand curb.  Three feet from the cyclist’s left shoulder no matter where they are in a lane.  Imagine a yardstick extending from the cyclists left shoulder.  Something I’ve done as an experiment and am tempted to do more often, but know better.  In the video, I was in the middle of the outside lane.  If the bus couldn’t pass with a minimum of three feet, they must (a) cross the double yellow when there is no oncoming traffic or (b) wait a safe distance behind me to pass.

Wait to pass!  This hadn’t occurred to the rep, but it is the solution required by law.  No exceptions.  Hard for some motorists to grasp that they aren’t entitled to unimpeded flow at five to ten over.  They slow and stop for other motor vehicles but to do so for a cyclist is for some too much to ask.  I call them bullies.  Get out of my way, they think.  Sorry, I think.  And I am sorry.  But I can’t just now.  Will soon, though.  Give me 10 seconds.

The rep asked what would happen if I never got over.  I asked if he was concerned that I would stay on Western, taking the lane all the way to California with the bus stuck behind me, but added in all seriousness that he needn’t worry–I always get over as soon as it is safe for me to do so.  I reminded him that busses slow and stop for lights, cars and passengers and that they must slow and stop for cyclists, too.  This I didn’t say, but could have–If a cyclist never gets over, call the police.  The cyclist may be breaking the law.  Will calling the police help get a cyclist to move right?  Just as well as calling the police to get busses to pass safely!

I told him that I always move right and wave cars and busses by when I can see I am holding people up for more than 10 seconds.  That’s not a law, but it is my rule.  It is as long as I am comfortable being in the way.  I told him that I wouldn’t take the lane, that I would stay right, if I could tell in my mirror that an approaching bus was fully changing lanes.  I said I move or stay left when an approaching bus appears to want to snuggle up.  Staying in the lane creates a buffer zone allowing me to move right if the bus snuggles even closer before they finish the pass (this happens).  I said I have to trust my spider senses.  He understood that I was a reasonable person, that my concerns are valid, that I knew the law and how to be safe.  This was all very good.

I pushed on.  I gave him a packet of my talking points with the back up diagrams, laws and statistics.  We had already discussed most of it on the phone and by email, but I asked him to turn to the page with the death stats from Vision Zero–car hits ped at 20 mph killing one in ten/car hits ped at 30 mph killing five in ten/car hits ped at 40 mph killing nine in ten.  I reminded him that his operators routinely exceed the 30 mph city wide speed limit.  I know because I get tailgated and passed by busses when I drive my car (and I always go 30 mph).  I also know because I watch the speed indicators in school zones as I walk Frida.  Leaving the meeting I watched a bus go 30 mph in a 20 mph school zone.  Happens all the time.  I asked him if he can remotely monitor bus speed.  He said he can’t on all busses, but he was as surprised by the death stats as I continue to be.  He really is a good and caring guy.  I wasn’t wasting my breath.  I was getting through.

Now here is the best part.  He said at the opening of the meeting he was working with his safety coordinator to require drivers to fully leave a cyclists lane when passing on four lane roads.  Something I’d mentioned on our last call and the one thing I hoped to get out of the meeting.  I thanked him but suggested the rule is as necessary on two lane roads.  I think by the end of the meeting he understood.  We’ll see.

I ended the meeting after 30 minutes by saying I could talk all day but knew he was busy.  He said he’d send me the safe passing memo to drivers and that I should continue to contact him directly when I experience close passes.  I said I wouldn’t expect perfect compliance on day one but was encouraged to know that he was on the case.

Here is the packet I presented.  This is my first iCloud share so I have no idea if you’ll be able to grab the document using the link.  If you can’t get it and want it, be in touch.