Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jesus Take the Wheel Day

Be careful on the roads this Easter (Sunday, March 31).  Some radical Christians are planning to take their hands off the wheel while driving.

There's a Facebook event with around 8,500 participants and the description reads:

"On March 31, 2013, Christians all over the world will take to the streets in their automobiles. Relying only on the divine protection of Jesus Christ, they will prove that the Savior of Man will not abandon them when they remove their hands from the steering wheels of their cars for a total of 5 minutes. They will not be at a red light, or a stop sign, they will be on the highways. This is TRUE FAITH. Jesus Christ does not abandon his children, and with the current state of the world, it's time to show Jesus that we have not abandoned him. Do not come to this page telling us that we are crazy and that we are going to die. Jesus is our Shepherd, and he will tend to his flock. Please join us and show that you are NOT AFRAID to place your life in the hands of Jesus Christ."

From my perspective, this is a reckless test of people's faith.  I'm pretty sure that Jesus himself wouldn't take his hands off the wheel.  He would certainly be upset if someone doing this hurt or killed another human being.

Monday, March 25, 2013

iPhone Problems

So, my next phone is going to be a Samsung Galaxy S4.  Business Insider wrote an article called 10 reasons why the Galaxy S4 is better than the iPhone5.

I would like to add another reason why iPhones are lacking in function:  they don't use Swype technology.  I've been using Swype ever since I got my HTC Evo 4g and it changed my life.  Well, it lets my type faster on my phone...  I downloaded SwiftKey (which ships with the Galaxy S4) today which is a variation on the swype technology.  It has much better word prediction and autocorrect.  SwiftKey states that Apple will not allow users to install the SwiftKey app even though SwiftKey is compatible with the hardware and software because they do not allow third parties to change the appearance of the keyboard.  This is a case of Apple trying to micromanage their users' experience by locking out certain features.  This really frustrated me when I was trying to back up my girlfriend's pictures.

Let me add another reason iPhones aren't as good as Android devices, but I'll let you disagree with this one. iPhones use a proprietary charger/data transfer cord.  Micro USB has become the de facto standard on other phones and is compatible with many other devices such as bicycle head/tail lights.  That being said, there is a definite speed and double-sidedness advantage to the Lightning cable.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Be the Match: I'm Special

I got something in the mail from Be The Match bone marrow donor registry which told me that I have a rather rare human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type.  Matching HLA is the best selector of a donor for a patient.  It says that for some patients, I may be the only one on the registry who can save their life.  The idea is that it is unlikely that I will be called upon to be a donor, but following through and actually donating is critical in the case that I do.

Bone marrow transplants are used to treat people with blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.  Apparently umbilical cord blood is also very valuable.  I do not know how that works, but you can donate your (child's) umbilical cord here.

On a less "I'm special" note, the letter fails to mention that it may be very difficult for me to find a donor should I need a bone marrow transplant.  I guess they want to avoid scaring people about things like that, but I feel like that should be mentioned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good News

On a personal note, lots of great things have happened in the past week.

1. I got a job at Penn State starting in the fall semester.
2. I got another job for the time between when I graduate and when I leave Tallahassee...I'll be driving a bicycle pedicab.
3. I successfully defended my dissertation.
4. I (ok, more like Erin) found a place to live when we move to State College, PA.
5. I'm getting a custom messenger bag/pannier (saddle bag) made for me that's going to be awesome sauce.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Next Bike?

A few years ago, I thought that I would buy a triathlon bike when I got a "real job."  Then I grew out of that and decided that I can put that off for a while, but it would be nice to have a tri bike before doing another iron-distance race.  Recently, I was offered a great deal on this bike:

It's made by Old Field Cycles in Tallahassee.  The thing is, I don't want to get rid of one of my other bikes.  The black bike is my oldest and crappiest, but has a lot of sentimental value.  My road bike is the closest to this bike, but still a lot different.  My 29er is going to become my snow bike, and the fixie is an experience all its own.

I've wanted a custom commuter/touring bike from Old Field for a while now and this bike is most of what I'm looking for.  There are a few things I would do differently if designing from the ground up, but I think I can live with those discrepancies because I'd get such a good price on this thing.  I'm thinking that I could turn this into a fast commuter because I'm planning on getting a saddle bag/messenger bag that I wouldn't have to wear on my back.  I could put a custom rack on this thing and make everything work out.

Bike nerds, read on for cool stuff:
1. generator front hub, cassette rear hub, both with drum brakes
2. wire for front light and cable housing for front brake routed through the fork
3. Shimano 8 speed rear cassette (Deore XTR derailers) with Campy 10x2 speed shifters
4. 29er rims (& I think DT Swiss 2.0 spokes) = strong
5. sweet water bottle holder adjusts to different size bottles
6. ya, that's a Brooks saddle, but I'm not going to get that if I buy it.
7. slightly curved seat stays look pretty
8. cables routed on starboard side of top tube for comfortable portage
9. cloth bar wrap

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tea of the Past, Tea of the Future

I started drinking guayusa tea a little while ago when I saw the Runa brand carried at Bread and Roses.  Almost all guayusa trees are located in Ecuador.  Runa's focal area is the Napo region of the Amazon.  I was in the Napo region back in 2005, but I did not drink tea back then.  It's funny to think that I could have had this tea years ago if I had been a tea drinker.

The guayusa is grown in the middle of the forest in a biodiverse setting.  The trees do not perform well in monoculture.  Hopefully, the value created by producing this tea will help incentivize conservation of the rain forest in the areas where the tree grows.  I was disheartened to see that parts of the Napo region were being deforested in order to extract some of the oil from the region.  The indigenous people do not have much of a say when it comes to the invasion of their area for extraction of those resources.  The indigenous people do, however, benefit from the guayusa farming.  They know when to pick the leaves for optimal tea and how to best cultivate the trees.

Guayusa has been consumed for a very long time by the people who live in the Napo region (they have a use for just about every plant that grows in the forest).  I really like the tea.  It has a mild flavor and makes me feel pretty good.  It has about 90mg of caffeine per serving, which is about 2-3 sodas' worth...I've replaced soda consumption with tea consumption and that's been very good for me.  90mg is less than a typical cup of coffee but not by too much.  I encourage you to try some guayusa tea.  Everyone I know who's tried it has liked it.  It could be the tea of the future.

Here are some pictures of the area I visited:
my fancy cabin for gringos 

a bit of the river (a small tributary)

our social gathering place for meals, etc.

the village home of natives

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bicycle Pedicabs Come to Tallahassee

Capital City Pedicabs is a new business in Tallahassee.  I've filled out an application and might try to drive part time for them over the summer.  It's cool that we're getting pedicabs.  As a passenger, I've always found the prices they ask are a bit steep.  I would be willing to work for those rates for sure.  I met the owner and his right hand man while at Damn Good Bikes the other day.

Bicycle pedicabs are a great alternative to gas powered taxis.  They're usually used for shorter trips and will be a fun and novel means of transportation for people at events in Tally.  Check 'em out.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bladeless Ceiling Fan

Exhale fans provide full room air circulation from a ceiling fan without blades for the low price of $500-600.

These fans use a different design than the Dyson air multiplier floor fans.  Both of them are pretty awesome and I'll definitely buy multiples of each if I win the lottery.