DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

Weekend Hijinks...

I hauled the 3-speed down from the attic and rode it for the first time in almost a year. Half a mile into the ride I discovered that in that almost a year the shift cable had gotten out of alignment somehow. The first time I tried shifting into high the pedals just free-wheeled. I mean, it didn't just not go into high gear, but it did go out of middle gear, so there was no traction whatsoever. Huh.

Middle gear worked when I downshifted, so I continued along for a little way, flipping back and forth between gears, hoping it was just a little corrosion that could be shaken loose with a little motion of the cable, but no joy. Time to pull over. There's a little adjustment screw on the cable near the rear hub which I am usually loath to fiddle with for fear of really screwing things up, but it seemed like things were already pretty messed, so I started turning it in small increments, testing after each to see if high would catch. Nope. Not wanting to lose middle gear as well, I stopped fiddling with it and started riding again, making a mental note to haul it over to the bike shop next chance I got. It was fine for the flat stretches and going uphill, but the down grades were annoying as it kept taking several turns of the pedals before they caught up with the ratchet inside the hub to actual be able to accelerate a little.

At the end of the first lap I pulled in by the truck and started tinkering again. I started turning the adjustment screw a little more aggressively. I took it as far as it would go in one direction, and high still didn't catch. So I started turning it in the other direction and finally, I got it to catch. It still slipped a little, so I took it even further, and that seemed to do it.

Back on the path, it was nice to have three gears again. In fact, middle gear seemed a little firmer, too, and I suspect that my earlier adjustments may have lost me that gear, too. The second lap was a much better, although high still skip a couple of times when I stressed it. I will readjust before my next ride.

The ride took me past my previous best mileage for June, so that's something, and it comes on the heels of my best May ever, as well. The weird thing about this is that I haven't felt like I've been doing all that well. A lot of this is because I didn't ride at all early in the year because it was so cold, and then after getting off to a good start in March, the floods came, and then I got sick, which washed out much of April. So I'm still a little behind the last couple of years, but I seem to be gaining on them.

The air show was this weekend, but apart from the Thunderbirds, they didn't have much I wanted to see this year, and it was way to hot and humid to be wandering around on tarmac, so I decided early on to skip it yesterday in favor of hanging with the Buffistas and casperflea's family at the F2F. The plan was to meet at Roger Williams Park to go to the zoo. But when we got to the zoo, we discovered that it was closed this particular Saturday. Now we had never heard of a zoo being closed a Saturday before, so with tears in our eyes we headed off to find alternate entertainment.

Which we found just up the hill at the RI Natural History Museum. It's a small museum (I hadn't realized it even existed). It's a tiny little place, and the collection is pretty old for the most part, an odd grouping of taxidermy and rocket science. The was an exhibit of native American art which included nothing from any eastern tribes, much less the Narragansetts. Lots of Inuit artifacts, though.

There was one thing that I found hugely cool in the rocket science section. It was a simple demonstration of the spectral lines of various gases. You pushed a button, and a discharge tube containing a particular gas (hydrogen, helium, neon, argon, water vapor, or carbon dioxide) lit up. The cool part was that you looked at them through had what I originally thought were 3D glasses, which confused me no end, because I couldn't see why you'd need them. When I finally, you know, read the little placard next to the exhibit. In fact, the lenses in the glasses were diffraction gratings, so when you looked at the arcs through them you could see the sets of spectral lines for each of the gases. This is SO cool! I mean, when I took physics in college, we did the same thing as a lab experiment, but we had to use a damn prism to do it. Now it's a kids demonstration. We'd have killed for a pair of diffraction glasses back in the day.

(Casper, aged "almost seven", pointed out to me that the hydrogen spectrum wasn't a bright as the helium spectrum. I explained that helium only shows a few lines, so all the light is concentrated in those few, compared to hydrogen's more rainbow-like spectrum, where there are lots more lines to spread the brightness around in. She nodded and listened politely, then vacated the area as quickly as she could just in case I had ideas of elaborating further about quantum states and suchlike.)

Afterward we meandered over to the park carousel, where some folks rode, and everyone ate things like pie, and fried dough, and frozen lemonade. Good times. Later there was dinner at Paragon on Thayer. I had a grilled duck breast that was very good. Then I headed for home as everyone else went to see Waterfire. All in all, a very good day. I took some pictures, but most are either blurred or terribly underexposed. I really need to take more photos so that I can relearn the various settings on my camera.

I finally got around to setting up the big a/c after I rode this morning. It wasn't actually all that hot today (low eighties), but the humidity has been awful lately, so it was time. I blew off the air show again, too. Instead I spent some quality time in the basement doing laundry and finally cleaning up some of the leavings from the various projects I've worked on. When I got tired of that, I plopped myself at my desk and started entering old receipts into Gnucash. So exciting.
Tags: biking, buffistas, food, house, rhodianna, science

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