Archive for the ‘Gadget lust’ Category

All is well

November 24, 2021

It’s nearly kickoff time for the 2021 Cavalcade of Consumerism, so grab yourself a sammich and a frosty beverage and settle into the La-Z-Boy for the Big Game.

The NPD Group advises us that 30 percent of respondents to a recent survey yearn for the door-busting, clerk-trampling, no-holds-barred combat of Black Friday, in which sleep-deprived, half-frozen fatties who spent Thanksgiving night camped outside a Lubbock Best Buy do it hand to hand over dubious bargains on giant TVs that will watch them like famished zopilotes and suggest other must-have items based upon their observed activity, if any.

“Damn, another ad for Weight Watchers. And Planet Fitness. Who has the time? Pass the Fritos and bean dip.”

NPD doesn’t explain their survey methodology, but you know they didn’t ask for my thoughts, because 100 percent of me would rather stuff an angry ferret down his bibs than head for the trough on Black Friday to see what the Waltons are serving to the sneezers and wheezers (there’s still a plague going on, you may recall). Let ’em make their bacon out of the NPD’s dummies.

We plan a muted Thanksgiving here at El Rancho Pendejo. Herself will collect her mom from The Facility and we will do a late lunch —  cider-braised turkey thighs with taters and apples, stir-fried succotash with edamame, some class of a green salad, and Herself’s famous lemon bars. The ladies will enjoy a dram or two of wine, while I make do with a bottle of fake beer.

I bought the fixins on Monday to avoid the rush. There were just two cashiers at Sprouts and the queued natives were restless. If we get through the weekend without gunplay it will be a holiday miracle.

Another bite of the Apple

September 13, 2018

The iPhone 5. Sure, it’s old. So am I.

It’s that time of year again. Another golden delicious has fallen from the tree in Cupertino. Several of them, actually.

There’s the latest iteration of the Apple Watch, of course. Apple is always Watching lately. I have a Timex Ironman that’s so old I don’t recall exactly how or when I acquired it, and we get along fine. It doesn’t inform on me to the State or the Medical-Industrial Complex, and I don’t reset it with a hammer.

The Timex Ironman takes a licking and … yeah, yeah, awright, OK, I toldja I was old.

And then there are the new iPhones. Once the size of a wallet, they’re now as big as a purse, and the rubes will empty both to buy even the cheapest of them.

That would be the iPhone Xr, which goes for the low low price of $749 for the 64GB model. I imagine the 128GB model will be more popular, so tack on another fiddy for the additional selfie storage.

OK, lessee now, what can I get for my 2012 iPhone 5?

Apple GiveBack chirps: “Based on what you’ve told us, you’ve got $25 in trade-in value. We’ll happily turn it into a refund once we verify the condition of your device.” This is mildly insulting — not just the low-ball offer, but the language, which implies I’m trying to screw Apple instead of the other way around. But as a trillion-dollar company Apple doesn’t really need me and this dry peck on the cheek is all the foreplay a mutt like me is gonna get.

Hmm. Based on what I’ve told them, I have an iPhone 5 that turns on, with an enclosure and screen in good shape, and buttons that work. So I think I’ll keep using it until a critical number of those things are no longer true. How d’ye like them apples, Apple?

Office spaced

December 29, 2016
Hemingway sent cables; I just hook 'em up.

Hemingway sent cables; I just hook ’em up.

Now and again I am reminded that shit doesn’t just happen.

I was grumbling the other day that the iCrap-crazed Cloudniks at Apple no longer give a damn about modular, upgradeable desktop systems and the power users who love them, probably because I have spent far too much time staring at a desk that is topped by a veritable clusterfuck of computer hardware — a 15-inch mid-2014 MacBook Pro cabled to an OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock and thence to a Dell 27-inch monitor, a RAID array plus a couple other storage drives, an Apple SuperDrive and a cheap set of Logitech speakers that really need to go because they have all the sonic excellence of a 1965 GE P-1810A transistor radio.

Then I read this, and this, and I think I’m finally starting to get a feel for why Tim Cook is all like: “Fuck those bitches and their desktops. Whatsisname down in the basement is tasked with that project and if we have to we’ll trot him out and show the world what people who give a shit about desktop computers look like. Dude makes the stapler guy from ‘Office Space’ look like Michael Fassbender.”

O, wholly night

December 26, 2015
My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

A neighbor couple had invited us to join them for a full-moon Christmas ride on the Sandia foothills trails (.pdf), and while the field was halved by start time last night — his wife was recovering from a cold, and mine thought her headlight gravely underpowered — Phil and I soldiered on.

Alas, the moon likewise declined to participate, and my lighting system also proved less than illuminating (an elderly, AAA-powered trinity of Cateye Opticube HL-EL450, Princeton Tec EOS, and Princeton Tec Remix). Happily, Phil was content to lead the way with his new Cygolite, so we got around and about without issue.

My "lighting system." Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

My “lighting system.” Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

I was reminded how much fun it is to do something different, and how good this can be for the bike industry, because you discover how woefully clapped out your equipment is.

There was the lighting issue, for starters. Also, my old Pearl Izumi winter gloves seem to have gone walkabout in the move, I have no clear lenses for my prescription Rudy Project Rb-3 cycling glasses, and my decrepit Kucharik toe covers no longer cover all 10 toes.

And which bike to ride? I ride these trails on a cyclo-cross bike in the daylight, but that seemed unwise in the dark, with old snow and ice likely to be lurking in any north-facing bits. The old DBR Axis TT mountain bike seemed an ideal choice, until I found a big hop in the rear tire that no amount of inflation, deflation, removal, replacement, and yanking this way and that could resolve.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff? That would have been fun, but I didn’t fancy fixing a rear-wheel flat in the freezing dark (the Rohloff hub and Gates belt drive complicate that chore a bit, and I was out of practice).

Thus, the Jones. It’s the perfect bike for this sort of outing. Big-ass Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 tires, a Shimano XT drivetrain with a low end of 19.3 gear inches for creeping through icy rockpiles in the inky blackness, and Avid BB7 discs with 200/180mm rotors for knocking down the MPH as necessary. Plus you could hang 12 headlights on that H-bar, if you had ’em, which I did not.

Speaking of which, I’m taking recommendations for a reasonably priced headlight. Sound off in comments if you feel so inclined. And a happy Boxing Day to one and all.


Albuquerque, we have a problem

April 27, 2015
Herself and I finally got around to organizing the garage so I can actually park a car inside. A neighbor took one look and nearly took an infarction along with it.

Herself and I finally got around to organizing the garage so I can actually park a car inside. A neighbor took one look and nearly took an infarction along with it. Not pictured: Herself’s three bikes, which are on the other side of the garage.

Hoarder? Me? Y’think? Naw. Y’think?

Black Friday or Blue Christmas?

November 29, 2013

rfd-logo-2-xsYes, it’s another edition of Radio Free Dogpatch!

Hallelujah, I’m a bum

November 10, 2013
The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo comes ready to ride, with racks, fenders and pedals.

The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo comes ready to ride, with racks, fenders and pedals.

The first review bike of the new year landed at Chez Dog on Friday.

It’s a Cinelli Bootleg Hobo, and the little bugger sorta snuck up on us as Adventure Cyclist editor Mike Deme and I prowled Interbike earlier this fall.

This Colombus Cromor bike is a nifty bit of marketing. The color is dubbed “Railway” and the Hobo motif is extended throughout, including bar tape that sports some of the coded symbols the ’bos used to communicate with each other back in the day. And the spec’ is strictly hit-the-road basic — nine-speed Shimano triple with Microshift bar-ends, Tektro cantilevers, Alex rims, and 700×35 Vittoria Randonneur Trail clinchers.

There are some nifty extras, though. The Hobo comes with bosses for three bottle cages, Tubus racks and fenders, and a pair of Wellgo pedals. When was the last time you bought an $1,850 touring bike that came with all those goodies? You could ride the sonofabitch home from the shop, is what. Check that — you could ride it away from home, which is even better.

I anticipate a steep drop in unauthorized rail traffic as soon as the hobos find out what a steal this thing is.

Interbike 2013: Shopping list

September 26, 2013
The Klatch is an all-day endurance machine, made of Reynolds 853 but with a carbon ENVE disc fork.

The Klatch is an all-day endurance machine, made of Reynolds 853 but with a carbon ENVE disc fork.

BIBLEBURG, Colo. (MDM) — Selling shit is what Las Vegas is all about.

There are no drinking fountains, just $6 bottles of water, and the only chairs to be found sit in front of slot machines and gaming tables, or in bars and restaurants, where thunderous “music” discourages unproductive conversation while encouraging speedy consumption and departure, thus clearing a space for the next sucker … er, customer. What stays in Vegas is mostly your money.

If you’re not spending, Sin City has no use for you. Move along, move along.

My room at the Luxor was unexceptional, though I will say that unlike Mike Creed’s squat at the Excalibur it lacked burglars. It also lacked HBO (“Quit watching “Breaking Bad” and buy a ticket to Carrot Top!”) and wireless Internet (“Quit downloading porn and rent a hooker!”).

As befits a shopping-mall food court, the eats were overpriced and underwhelming, and I never got out of Starbutt’s for less than 12 smacks. (that’s the tab for a grande Americano, a fruit cup and a tip, in case you’re wondering). A short chat with Scot Nicol of Ibis Cycles added value to one of those purchases. For me, anyway. I’m never sure how the other side of a chat with me dollars up on the hoof.

But bitching about Vegas is pointless. Anyone stupid enough to bunk in a casino hotel deserves everything he gets and then some, as I learned back in 2006 while rooming at the Riviera on Bicycle Retailer‘s dime. That pushed me over the edge, and I skipped the show for the next four years.

The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo just jumped out at me on the last day of the show. If the price is right, we should all buy at least two of them.

The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo just jumped out at me on the last day of the show. If the price is right, we should all buy at least two of them.

I’ve enjoyed myself more since returning to Interbike under the aegis of the Adventure Cycling Association, mostly because I no longer have to help produce BRAIN’s Show Daily. Instead of cranking out the word count in some windowless concrete cell I get to wander the show floor, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the toys and asking may I play with same, please.

And with that longwinded introduction, allow me to present my top three bikes from Interbike 2013: the Co-Motion Klatch (mentioned previously); the Cinelli Bootleg Hobo; and the Chris King Cielo Tanner Goods Edition.

Of my top three, the Klatch may be the bike best suited to the type of riding I do here in Dog Country. It’s a gravel grinder — or as we oldsters might call it, a “bicycle” — with a Shimano drivetrain. The Reynolds 853 frameset is capable of running 40mm rubber, and Co-Motion’s jet-black show model was nicely spec’d; among the goodies was TRP’s dual-piston Spyre mechanical disc brake, a stopper I have yet to try but have heard nothing but good things about, if you happen to like disc brakes, which I don’t, much. Expect to pay $2,195 for frame and fork, $4,460 for a Shimano 105-equipped bike, and $4,995 for an Ultegra machine. Co-Motion is taking orders now, and lead time is six to seven weeks.

The Chris King Cielo Tanner Goods Edition is a lovely bit of bicycle. Total eye candy.

The Chris King Cielo Tanner Goods Edition is a lovely bit of bicycle. Total eye candy.

The Bootleg Hobo, meanwhile, looks like just the ticket for the adventure-cycling crowd. You’ve got to love PR copy that draws a pair of Jacks — Kerouac and London — when pitching a product. Columbus Cromor tubes, triple crankset, bar-end shifters, bosses for three bottle cages. Tubus racks, fenders, clearance for 45mm rubber, spare-spokes holder, and (gasp!) cantilever brakes! What’s not to like? Santa Fe’s Bicycle Technologies International (BTI) has ordered the Hobo in limited quantities, and I expect it will be an insanely popular piece of machinery with the go-anywhere, do-anything crowd, if only because of the price: $1,850 complete. Yeah, I don’t believe it either. But that’s what the man said. …

Finally, the Chris King Cielo Tanner Goods Edition (man, is that ever a mouthful) is a beautiful commuter-slash-bikepacker, with Tanner Goods saddlebag, handlebar bag and frame bag, the last of which doubles as a shoulder bag. The $2,895 price includes frame, fork, bags and Honjo fenders; the show bike was tricked out with Chris King headset and hubs (duh), Thomson seatpost and stem, and Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring canti’ brakes. It’s a goddamn work of American art on wheels, is what.

Other bikes worth a look:

The Tern Eclipse S18 looks to be just the thing for the person who wants to hop a plane to someplace nifty and then explore it by bicycle.

The Tern Eclipse S18 looks to be just the thing for the person who wants to hop a plane to someplace nifty and then explore it by bicycle.

• Tern Eclipse S18

• Norco Indie Drop

• Surly Straggler

• Redline Metro Classic

• Raleigh Tamland 2

• Jamis Bosanova

Bikes, bikes and more bikes

April 4, 2013
Jeff Jones bikes

The Jones Steel Diamond in its road and off-road configurations. Photo courtesy Jeff Jones

Lately I’ve been enjoying an interlude between bike reviews, which has been nice, as it gave me a chance to get reacquainted with my own fleet of two-wheelers.

In the past week I’ve ridden my trusty Voodoo Nakisi drop-bar 29er, one of my two venerable Steelman Eurocrosses, and the only truly custom bike in the Mad Dog garage, a nifty Nobilette that’s something of an all-rounder, a cyclo-cross-slash-touring bike that’ll take a rear rack and fenders.

This weekend, all that ends with an invasion from Oregon.

Review bikes are en route from Co-Motion (a Divide Rohloff), Jeff Jones Bicycles (Steel Diamond) and Bike Friday (Silk Road Alfine).

I’ve ridden a Bike Friday before — you can read my review of the New World Tourist Select in the archives at Adventure Cyclist — but the Silk Road Alfine is something of a step up, with Shimano’s Alfine hub, Gates belt drive and Avid BB7 disc brakes. Should be a giggle.

The Co-Motion is likewise a belt-drive bike, but with big wheels and the Rohloff hub, which I’ve ridden before on the Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff (yes, I reviewed that one too). I’ll get to spend a bit more time with the Co-Motion than I did with the Van Nicholas, and I’m very much looking forward to it, as the Co-Motion seems (on the Innertubes, anyway) more or less ideal for the sort of riding I do around Bibleburg.

The Jeff Jones bike, meanwhile, looks like the sort of machinery we all could use come the Apocalypse. That’s it up there at the top of the post, the red bike next to the otherworldly black beast with the tractor tires. I’ll confess to a mild yearning for a fatbike — as in, if somebody gave me one, I’d ride it — but until some product manager loses his or her mind, the Jones bike looks to be about as close as I’m gonna get to that little fantasy.

What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?

February 27, 2013

One of the downsides of spending 22 years working solo in a home office, besides not being able to get a gig at Yahoo!, is that one tends to take on attributes of those lost tribes National Geographic is forever un-losing, or the Japanese soldiers jungled up on various Pacific islands who never got the word about the emperor’s surrender.

Outsiders are suspicious characters, their fabulous tales not to be given credence. And should they drag you from your village or spider hole toward what they deem “civilization,” you may expect to contract smallpox, TB or the clap. Better to make pincushions of the foreigners with blowgun darts and shrink their heads, or fillet them with a katana and get back about your business.

Boo Glissando

The Boo Glissando is a concept townie that marries a bamboo laminate with titanium.

Which is the long way around to saying, yes, I was compelled to attend the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, where I was put on display by the white devils, and all I came away with was a massive tab for docking my Subaru Outrigger and a medium-heavy case of Snotlocker Surprise.

In all fairness, I wasn’t exactly dragged. Having missed last year’s NAHBS, I was determined to take in the Denver edition, if only because I wouldn’t have to depend on United Airlines to get me there.

But I was planning to attend mostly for kicks. I didn’t count on being shanghaied into helping judge the 2013 NAHBS Awards, filling in for the absent Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer. This was not unlike inviting a Jivaro headhunter to stand in for Len Goodman on “Dancing With the Stars.”

So I had to get there way too early for a daylong refresher course on how little I know about the velocipede, and if you were one of the losers who came away empty-handed, award-wise, well, I can only say that it wasn’t my fault. It was those other guys. My judicial pronouncements were limited to the usual half-witticisms, like “I’d ride the shit out of that one if someone gave it to me,” “That belongs on a wall with a frame around it,” or “I can see taking that thing into your average shop for a tuneup and finding out afterward that the mechanics all hanged themselves.”

Being simpleminded, I gravitated toward simplicity, as exemplified by the Level keirin bike, the Boo Glissando and the English Cycles time-trial bike, which we named best in show shortly after noon on Saturday.

This last really has to be seen up close to be believed, as photos don’t do it justice. Rob English is a time trialist, a two-time winner of the Oregon state championship, and his considerable talent and ingenuity were clearly focused by his love for the discipline.

Once we’d wrapped up the awards, I took another refresher course, this one in bullshitting. It’s easy to bullshit over the Innertubes or in a magazine column, but improvising chin music on the fly takes practice, which I was out of. So I spent the rest of the show chatting up a number of old friends and colleagues, and that’s probably how I contracted the Snotlocker Surprise.

Damn the white man anyway.