Birthday ride 2014

18, Aug, 2014

Every May my wife and kids get out of school for the summer. Their work is over but mine is gearing up. They need me to spend time with them and entertain them. Yes, they find stuff do (quite a bit actually) but still need my time too. School starts in August and then my birthday comes right after. I take the day off work and celebrate getting some of my time back.

This year I decided to take the day riding east. I was thinking mostly Arkansas but was open to some Missouri if I ended up that direction. I started out heading up to Spavinaw, Summerfield Road, etc. then east on highway 20 out of Jay. I turned south and east through farm country until I got to Rogers. I missed the turn to highway 12 (which is a nice sweeping drive over the lake and through the trees) and ended up stuck going south through Rogers which turned into Springdale (later the edge of Fayetteville). I worked my way east and south until caught up to highway 16. I decided to take 16 to the Pig Trail (Highway 23) and get to the Oark cafe for lunch.

It’s a Monday morning so traffic is really light so you can get in a rhythm through the curves and enjoy. I wasn’t in a hurry so I rolled off the throttle when I caught up to a pickup on a curve with double yellows. I figured there’s a passing zone in a bit and I’ll go around then. He pulls to the edge of the road, sticks arm out the window and waves me around. I can see it’s clear and roll back on the throttle.

I turn south on to highway 23. After a little while, there’s a white car following me. He’s keeping up but staying back. We get half way through the mountain stretch and close up behind a semi. The semi immediately dives onto a gravel turn out and lets us pass. The pavement is built up so the trailer bounced pretty good when it dropped off the pavement. Good thing it was empty (or mostly). I’m thinking: “He didn’t really need to do that” but gave him a wave when I went on by. The turns got tighter and the white car was getting closer so I pulled over on the shoulder and let him go by. I’m still a bit rusty and this is the first serious trip on this bike since I put knobbies on it. I’m almost to my turn off anyway.

Turn east down highway 215 to Oark. Another beautiful ride along the Mulberry river and the clouds were keeping the heat away.
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Special of the day: BLT with cucumber and tomato salad. Wash it down with an iced tea. It’s much quieter than the weekend. You can tell most of these are regulars.
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I’ve been to the Oark Cafe 5 or 6 times and finally saved enough room for their world famous buttermilk pie. Mmmmm. I was halfway through before I remembered to take a picture (close call).
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There was a couple from England riding coast to coast on dirt roads on TAT (Trans American Trail) when I went outside. They asked if I was local because they had a couple questions. I explained that I was out on a day trip but have been through the area several times. I tried to point them in the right direction. We talked for half and hour then it was time for everyone to get back on the road.
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This guy was riding the TAT using some updated GPS routes. There’s a surveyor that’s helping Sam (TAT creator) update the outdated parts of the route (especially the western parts). He’s testing the updated route out. He’s been riding off and on with the couple from England.
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I headed south just outside of Oark on highway 103. It’s a fun road that drops down into the valley. Any road that says “Steep and crooked road for next 9 miles” has to be fun. I stopped at the top of the biggest drop in elevation on the route and took a picture. I took the same shot with my SV650 the first time I rode 103.
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I rode by a lake road sign and turned back to explore the road. About 1/4 mile later, I was at a small lake and the road halfway around the lake. It was a nice day so I parked and relaxed for a bit. It was nice feeling the wind, hearing the birds and faintly in the distance was Steve Perry singing. Steve Perry? Someone really must have been a big Journey fan to have it cranked up enough for me to hear it upwind with them far enough into the trees to not be seen.

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I saw a gravel road heading back into the forest and headed down. I passed some houses (one of these probably was playing the music) and the trees got heavier. A fawn deer that had mostly lost its spots saw me coming and scrambled farther into the trees. I followed this road a little longer past some fields, more trees and some houses (some lived in and some abandoned) until it dumped me right back on to the middle highway 103.

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I didn’t want to backtrack across the highways I just rode down. I was thinking about how to get across at some other road when I realized that I was heading at a 10mph cautionary switchback at 40mph. I grabbed the brakes and brought the bike to a stop in the opposite lane part way through the turn. I decided a little backtracking wasn’t so bad and got settled down in the next couple miles. I figured I could head south at highway 23 to the interstate if I wasn’t feeling it.

The rest of highway 103 was feeling good and I turned west to go back down highway 215 west of Oark. Halfway down 215, there’s a fawn with spots running down road in front of me. I roll off the gas and watch it try the rock wall before scrambling under the guard rail toward the river. A little farther down the road, run into the mowing crew that was taking lunch when I came through a couple hours earlier. Get past the mowers and run into some gravel in the middle of the road. I dodge it until there’s some more across the while I’m leaned over in a turn. The front wheel skids, I hang off the bike more to stand the bike up a bit more and keep rolling without letting off the gas.

The intersection of highway 23: South to the interstate or north back into the mountains/forest after all these issues? NORTH, no doubts. I’ve shaken the rust off, am focused on the ride and loving it. Best riding of the day from here until highway 412 (which was fine for a straight road heading home).

It tried to sprinkle a bit in Fayetteville but didn’t actually get rained on. I saw some damp pavement and puddles beside the road on highway 16 and highway 412 in Oklahoma. My wife asked me how much it rained on me today and was shocked when I said I didn’t get rained on at all because it poured for a while at home.

Moved from Wordpress to Flatpress

9, Jul, 2014

My website has gone through several iterations over the years (static, Blosxom, Seredipity, Wordpress).

There’s an old post detailing some of it: Install a weblog

I’m not sure how I missed posting about the change from Seredipity to Wordpress later but I’ve been running Wordpress for a few years now. I got tired of fighting with Wordpress and thought about changing for a while now. Every so often a plugin would screw up, throw blank pages and then starts the troubleshooting session. Then there’s the hammering of the server with bruteforce login attempts and cleaning up after hackers exploited the built-in theme editor (why is it even there?). It’s definitely been quite the love/hate relationship with Wordpress for me. I just wanted something simpler for this site, I still think Wordpress can be a great solution if you’re willing to work with it.

I went back to look at Blosxom (along variations like PyBlosxom, etc.). I saw several options like Octopress out there for people that were tired of dealing with the Wordpress (and other kitchen sink solutions) and the overhead in databases, security issues, etc. While the overwhelming number of themes and plugins of Wordpress were nice, they were also part of its issues.

I found Flatpress and loved how streamlined it was. There’s no database to worry about since it’s all stored in text files. It’s lean while still having all the basics needed. I familiarized myself with it and found a theme I liked (just added my header from the old site). I started copying and pasting posts from the Wordpress site. I had all the posts over in short time (there’s only a couple dozen posts to move). There’s some examples of scripts going in either direction out there. I couldn’t really tell you how well they worked. I’d probably have tried them if I had hundreds (or more) posts to convert.

I just needed to tweak the picture sizes to fit the theme width to be done. I was so happy with the results, I went ahead and made it the live site. I just needed to move a couple things over that were outside the Wordpress install and create a symlink to keep from breaking the picture path. I went back and edited out the wp-content out the path on the posts to move forward. I’m looking at doing some 301 redirects for the search engines to find the moves but am not seeing too many 404 on pages so I might just leave it alone.

I think it’s going to work great but I’ll just run it on my personal site for now to tweak and geek around for a while. I’ll consider moving the family site later if nothing else pops up with Flatpress. I doubt it will since it’s already doing everything I need. There might be a couple things to try (Twitter post integration, gallery integration, etc.) with the new site but no deal breakers since I’m happy with it the way it is at the moment.

Yes, I realize there’s a couple posts from ‘07 with broken pictures. They’ve actually been broken for 4 or 5 years when I combined strog.org and dale.shrauger.com. I wish you’d told me about it back then when I still had backups from then and could have restored it. Now I’ll just have to recreate them or just let it be.

*edit*
Fixed the pictures. Well, figured out one, found a close one and copied the FreeBSD screenshot which was almost identical.

*edit again*
Put Redirect 301 (permanent moved) from the old URLs to the new URLs by hand (again, not *too bad* with a handful of posts) so the webcrawlers/bots can find the posts since they are my largest audience (hah).

  • Posted by dale in in Geek

Vostok Amphibian 110SE

25, Oct, 2013

Vostok designed the Amphibia in 1967 for the Soviet defense department. Their job was to create an original design a reliable 200 meter dive watch. They hit a home run and still make several versions of the watch still today.

The official distributor announced that they were making some special edition versions of the Amphibia in 5 of the case designs. They had a couple clean dials, a couple stainless steel bezels (classic bezels were chromed brass) and the classic paddle hands.

All the options look good but I like the black bezel and dial with the date window. The biggest choice left was which case style to choose. My first choice was the 100 style case (fairly trim but not as small as the round 420 case). My 2nd choice was the 110 case. It’s a little bigger than the 100 and same profile as my Seiko Kinetic.

The people on the watch forum complained that only a few watches show up on the website and sell out in a few minutes. I went ahead and setup an account in case the model I want is in stock.  I see people posting about watches being in stock and then out before I can look at it. Then I see a 110 model with the dial and bezel I want so I order it. Now we play the waiting game.

The downside of ordering something from Russia is that the postal service takes a while to get to me. After all, the civilian Vostok watch I got off eBay 3 weeks earlier hasn’t shown up yet (it arrived a couple days later). I did see a 100 case watch in stock briefly a couple days later (tempting) but haven’t seen any more a month later so I’m glad I went ahead and got this one now. I’ve also thought about buying a spare 100 case and transplanting everything to it. I’d be too tempted to get another watch movement, dial and custom bezel and turn the 110 back into a complete watch again.

It took 18 days from order to delivered to my house (other watch took 22 days). The package was sitting on my desk when I got home and Ellen asked: “What’s in the package?”  I told her that there’s Russian writing on the package. “Ahh, it’s a watch. You and your watches”

We were going out with the kids so I put the watch on, threw on a flannel shirt and went out the door. Ellen said the watch looked nice and she liked the whole outfit.

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I ordered this strap thinking the orange would go with the second hand and the black with white stitching would match the dial.  It also is softer than the one that came with the since that one is pretty stiff. Ellen said she liked the other strap and I’ve switched back and forth a couple times. I like both will probably keep swapping as the mood strikes.

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Vostok Civilian Watch

11, Oct, 2013

I’ve been looking at Russian watches on the watch forums and eBay. You can get a nice mechanical watch for a really good price. Most people go for the military Russian watches so they are the best documented and go for a little more money. I found a clean, nice looking civilian Vostok on eBay. It was cheap ($15 buynow) and I figured that I could hardly go wrong for that price even if shipping was as much as the watch. It uses the same hand-wind 2414a movement as their popular Komandirskie military watches so a replacement movement should be easy to come by if worse comes to worse.

I threw a Nato strap on it at the post office parking lot:

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With a leather strap (current setup):

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I set it on the counter while I took a shower and it fogged up. Now I just leave it on my desk until I’m ready to put it on for the day.

It’s gaining a minute every 12 hours so I need to get a case opener tool and slow it down a bit. Part of the fun of mechanical watches is getting it dialed in. It doesn’t have to be too accurate to be good enough but it needs to be better than it is currently.

Nato Strap on the Seiko 5

8, Oct, 2013

I have a vintage Vostok civilian watch coming from Russia that I picked up cheap on ebay. I figured that the black leather band on the Seiko 5 watch would look better on the Vostok so I ordered a couple striped Nato straps for the Seiko.  Here’s the orange/black strap on it while I’m heading out to lunch today. I also have a black and gray stripe that I’ll swap out when the mood strikes. I figured the orange and black would be good since it’s the school colors for my wife and kids. I’ll let my son wear this once I get my other watch.

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