Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Things

This Halloween, there be scary things roundabout Exit 151. There be scary monsters...

Halloween monsters

... and sad solutions to Hurricane Sandy damage (the scary part is the damaged trees were finally removed only last week)...

Stumps

... and scary squabbles over land use.

Halloween cancelled

Even more scary, I'm going to do NaKniSweMo again.

NaKniSweMo badge

And gentle readers can watch or, better, knit along too.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Honolulu Century 2013

This weekend many fibery friends are away at Rhinebeck. No doubt they'll have thrilling tales to relate upon their return, so here's a narrative of my time away.Honolulu Century Ride flag Most was spent on family business, which was mostly serious and unbloggable. Although while in Honolulu I did take some time to participate in the Honolulu Century Ride. I had a grand time, particularly as I rode only a third of the 100-mile route at a leisurely, jet-lagged pace on a rental bike. (The bike's front brake kept failing (!!!), necessitating frequent stops to try to fix it, so no love to the rental place.) Even so, I managed to catch Rider No. 1, the governor's chief of staff Bruce Coppa, and his escort – my big achievement, apart from reaching my stretch goal, finishing, and not being sore the next day.

The century ride began at the crack o' dawn in Kapiolani Park, which is at the eastern end of Waikiki Beach in the shadow of Diamond Head. The day started clear, but became overcast, which was nice for bicyclists, more difficult for photographers. In Hawai'i it's imperative to respect the sun.

Sunrise over Diamond Head

Pretty as the sunrise over Waikiki is, I'm not a fan of getting up at the crack o' dawn. Neither is the photographer who took this picture of me (accidentally headless) in my cycling polo, skort, and colorful armcoolers, which wick perspiration and provide sun protection. Some very serious riders were wearing legcoolers too, which made the usual very serious bicyclist outfit look even weirder. Alas, as the very serious riders were hammering much faster than me, I don't have any pix of them and their legcoolers.

Accidentally headless me

The route climbed around Diamond Head Crater and past Diamond Head Lighthouse, the finishing line of the Transpacific Yacht Race. The concrete tower replicates an older structure made of coral stone. (Notice the size of its third-order Fresnel lens relative to the railings.)

Diamond Head Lighthouse

From the lookouts on Diamond Head, one could spot Koko Crater, aka Heartbreak Hill. My goal was Sandy Beach, on the far side of Koko Crater; my stretch goal was Makapu'u Beach.

View from Diamond Head

Thanks to Honolulu's finest, the ride was easy and fun until Heartbreak Hill. (I was perturbed to notice how few riders thanked the many HPD officers directing traffic and keeping everyone safe. Not enough aloha!) The topography around Casa Jersey Knitter includes hills of similar volcanic origin and steepness, so getting up and over seemed drearily familiar.

Heartbreak Hill

Once past Koko Crater, I arrived at Sandy Beach much faster than anticipated. The beach is beautiful, with good, accessible changing, shower, and restroom facilities. However, the surf is notoriously rough, the currents are difficult to read, and the undertow is dangerous, so watersports are best left to strong, experienced swimmers and bodyboarders.

Sandy Beach

After a breather and some delightfully welcome cool water and snacks of delicious local fruit at the rest stop, I continued on into the wind to Makapu'u. I hate headwinds. There was a long climb, too. It was the toughest part of the ride. DIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE.

Climb to Makapu'u Summit

The reward was the glorious views from the Makapu'u Summit lookout, which actually is perched on a saddle point. It's as high as the auto road goes, but the true summit is even higher.

Makapu'u Summit

(The paved trail out to the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse includes some of the best places to spot the humpback whales that quite sensibly spend the winter in Hawaiian waters. The lighthouse has a hyperradiant Fresnel lens, the largest in the U.S. – notice how huge it is in relation to the railing. In the days before GPS, this beacon was a major aid to navigation.)

Makapu'u Lighthouse

This photo is from a different outing, when the sky and ocean looked prettier.)

From the summit saddle down to Makapu'u Beach the road is steep, narrow, winding with precipitous dropoffs, and heavily trafficked by cars and busses. That last makes it especially not fun on a bicycle with a dodgy front brake. Once at the famed bodysurfing beach, my stretch goal, I thought about going further. I felt pretty good (and the next rest stop in Kailua had free shave ice (!)), but more prudent thoughts prevailed. So I took a picture of the lighthouse from the beach and turned back to Waikiki.

View from Makapu'u Beach

The ride back for me was uneventful. Meanwhile, back in Waikiki the finish line had deflated.

Deflated finish line

Such things happen, but they don't deter intrepid cyclists.

Not a problem

Overall, the ride was outstandingly well organized – the volunteers were knowledgeable and helpful, the route was well-marked and well-policed, the rest areas well-stocked with refreshments and had nice facilities. Kudos to the Hawai'i Bicycling League!

Hanauma Bay singleton

There wasn't a whole lot of knitting while I was away, nor now that I'm back and trying to catch up, but at least Hanauma Bay is now a singleton. And the white balance of the new digicam is better – the photo was taken on an cloudy day. So, progress!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NJ Special

Today is the Special General Election for the U.S. Senate in my fair state of New Jersey.  Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Find voter information here.

Vote today

Eep, this photo is from November 2006. Ima gonna have to update it.


Fellow New Jerseyans, be sure to exercise your right to vote.  There's a clear choice among candidates, and thanks to our governor we the taxpayers are paying for the specialness of the special elections – the special primary and the special general election – to the tune of an extra USD $24 million. So get out there and vote!

And don't forget to vote in the General Election come November 5.  There's a full slate of state offices and two public questions.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanks, Deer

For reasons that escape me, gentle readers and writers roundabout the U.S. blogosphere seem to be struggling more than usual with the name of today's holiday. This as increasing numbers don't get the day off work. Well, a holiday by any other name is still a good time to take stock of the vegetable patch. That was my plan – when I got home this afternoon there was an eight-point buck standing in the backyard devouring my pepper plants. In the spirit of Canadian Thanksgiving, I suppose I should be thankful he left the tomatoes alone.

Mid October tomatoes

It's a reasonably decent haul compared with some years past, and there's more coming along. If the weather remains mild long enough, they may ripen – who knows?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Snapshots

I'm back. Along with the usual backlog of stuff to deal with, other oddities have accumulated. For example, parts of the blog have been misbehaving. So annoying, will try to fix. Then there's the mess in Washington, more on this in a bit. That situation has me feeling rant-y, so if gentle readers prefer to avoid un-pleasantries, read down to the birdie, then skip to the (nonviolent) sock.

While I was away I acquired a new digicam, a Nikon, pictured with my old digicam, a Canon. It's 12 years and several generations more advanced, with faster electronics, more megapixels, and more zoom, all of which are very nice. I've never had strong feelings about Nikon versus Canon, but I can see why some people do. (Obviously, I fail at rampant consumerism.)

Old digicam, new digicam

Wait, if both digicams are in the photo, what's taking the picture???


One review indicates the new digicam excels at photos of birds and buildings in bright light. That would seem to be true. Here's a pic of a kolea, or Pacific golden plover. Gotta love the zoom. The bird is supposed to be a shorebird, but I've never seen any at the beach, only on lawns and driveways.

Kolea, or Pacific golden plover

And here's a pic of the entrance to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites (it says so on the blue sign in the middle distance), including the USS Arizona Memorial, which was closed due to the federal government shutdown. The last time the memorial was closed was because of terrorism. I can't begin to express how angry the Republican-manufactured fiscal crisis makes me. (Or, as Jon Stewart says to Republicans who pretend innocence, "Own it. Don't fart and point at the dog.") It's estimated the shutdown, which started October 1, costs USD $160 million per day, so the cumulative total is almost USD $2 billion as of today.

Federal shutdown

This Halloween there is nothing scarier than the prospect of continued Republican ignorance, intransigence, and complacency as the U.S. slides closer to default, a separate crisis from the shutdown. The first effects are already happening; the big shocks will start next week in anticipation of Default Day, October 17, and will worsen as the month goes on. What could happen if there's a default? I earnestly pray we don't find out. Thus endeth the rant.

Hanauma Bay Sock wip

Back to the digicam and Actual Knitting Content: In less than bright light, the new digicam tends to take pix that are very blue, as my sock in progress (the background is white, but looks blue). With all its fancy electronics, the camera oughta be able to compensate, but I haven't read that far in the manual yet.

Whilst I read the manual, head over to Heather's blog and sign up for her SHAWLoween Mystery KAL. I'm too much of a control freak to enjoy mystery KALs, but I'd never spoil others' fun – it looks to be a good one!