Archive for the ‘gadgets’ Category

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Chopping, boiling and surfing (and smelling funny)

August 22, 2007

We’ve been here, what, 5 months now? We’ve been living in a succession of furnished houses, without anything resembling a stock pot or a sharp knife in that time. Thankfully, now, our two most missed kitchen items have arrived from home (cheaper than buying them here anew!) so now we can boil pasta, make tasty stock aplenty, and actually cut things, rather than saw through them with a blunt object, once again!

The other thing that we missed was our Apple Airport wireless internet thingy, which arrived, with our old cable modem, so now we can both be online at once, rather than impatiently taking turns, and from comfortable locations, rather than tied to the desk with a cable. One small problem occurred, though. The modem, which we weren’t, luckily, planning to use, was lurking in the bottom of the stockpot under its colander bit. It successfully lurked unnoticed – result: modem flavoured chicken stock. Oh well, the next batch will be better.

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Those for whom cycling means nothing, read on. It’s not all bad.

May 8, 2007

Finally! The Rourkie, pictured here for those of you you may have forgotten, is finally really on the road.

It came with Look pedals, and I had my old trusty Carnac shoes shipped over, thank you Danya, in the hope that I could actualise the theoretical capability of said shoes to convert from SPD cleats to the more roadie Look ones. I mentioned this conversion process to my Dutch colleague Kamilla Bak who said “don’t you just put your feet on the pedals and push down?” No wonder the Dutch have such a terrible Tour de France record (especially compared to their Luxembourger and Belgian neighbours).

So the conversion process remained theoretical, and I opted for the cheaper and quicker process of getting old SPD pedals on eBay, quickly accomplished in an afternoon at work for about £6.

Getting the old pedals off turned out to be the challenge – the bike had for some time lived by the Welsh seaside, and the pedals were heavily oxidised in the thread. It was delivered into the hands of the men of Putney Cycles, which luckily held large spanners dedicated to the task of removing recalcitrant pedals. While I was there I had the good fortune to meet one of the locals, who seemed to know a thing or two about bikes: “You don’t want to use those pedals – they’re rubbish! – you want to get some toe-clips. Just look at my bike out there! And you want to get some paint onto that bike…” I interjected that I would indeed get a respray done as soon as my budget allowed, but “…you don’t want to wait that long! just get some <insert brand name I’ve forgotten, but sounded dangerously like hammertone – you know, the stuff that looks suspiciously like hammered metal, in a really cheesy way> just look at my bike out there, just get a half-inch brush and slap it on (with sound effects and gestures)…” I got the impression that my interjection was wasted, then “…you don’t want to be riding on those tyres, what you want is…” you get the picture.

The mechanic with the large spanner (still trying to unbond the pedals from the cranks) said “he’s one of our more eccentric customers.” I said something to the effect of “you don’t say!” with a mildly ironic intonation. At last the pedals came off, the new pedals went on, I got extended unsolicited advice about the correct mudguards to purchase and/or construct from objects frequently found in the houses of the eccentric, with invitations to inspect the bike on which said objects were appropriately installed, and £4 poorer, left the shop. For the pedal removal alone I would have paid the £4, but the vast amount of advice offered was priceless.

What really made my day, though was the stream of shop staff coming to ogle the majesty of the vintage hand-built frame.

I’ve only taken it out a couple of times on public roads now, but it feels light and nimble. I have to adjust the gear-shifting a little, I’ve moved the seat

Brooks Professional

(thank you Richard! I had that shipped over as well as shoes and helmet – it seemed a bit weird importing a Brooks saddle into England) around a couple of times, replaced the brake-pads and generally wiped, cleaned and lubed, and it’s starting to feel like mine.

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Flickr for soundies

May 1, 2007

How did I just find out about this?! I really want a nice little recording device – the phone camera has lost its appeal…