Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Part of Our Pack

Our doggy daughter, Chaka…so dainty, like a doggy swan :)
 Half asleep or half awake? Chaka MHD (Mongolian Herding Dog) :)
Mr. Shaggy, PHD (Professional Herding Dog)

Have a Happy Weekend!

Paz :)

PS. Chaka is a Chow Chow and Shaggy is an Old English Sheepdog

Berry Good!

I am not embarrassed to admit that I don't have a clue as to what these berries or the flower in the next picture are, but I think they just look awesome.
Apparently, some of the flowers have dried out, but in my humble opinion, they add pizzazz to this picture as well.
"You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing.
I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.
I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things,
but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about,
such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here . . . I don't have to know an answer.
I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose,
which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me."
Richard Feynman

Paz :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Atlanta's own Cycling Magazine

Click on the image to read more about this exciting magazine. I am quite stoked!

Peace :)

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

This recipe is an adaptation from ones we have read on the net.
My wife did an exceptional job of making this mouth-watering dish for me.



Ingredients
3 cups light tasting vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
1/2 cup chopped roasted green chiles- mild or hot, to taste
1 14-oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 15-oz. can chick peas, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon Thai Kitchen curry paste (red or green), or to taste
A pinch cinnamon and cumin
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint
1 cup packed baby greens
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste, if desired

Method:
Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your make and model and personal time frame.

Or if you're in a more hands-on mood, do it the old fashioned way. Throw everything in a pot and cook, covered, over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about thirty minutes.

Stir in the cilantro or mint, baby greens and hot red pepper flakes. Heat through briefly until the greens soften, and serve.


Serves 4.

Bon appétit' :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Backyard Visitors

Right after we moved to Georgia, earlier this year, we got an awesome bird feeder from Arundel Products, Inc. The feeder is squirrel proof and I hung it from the deck, by making my own bird feeder hanger - an old steel pipe, slightly bent to keep the feeder a couple of feet away from the deck. I a drilled hole in the pipe,  and inserted a key ring into the hole, in order to attach the bird feeder to it.

The photos in this post were shot last week.

Starting with the one below, which shows the frost on the bird feeder and a glimpse of our lovely backyard.
I was so happy to find these incredibly beautiful crystalline formations.
It was still before 9 AM in the morning and that's when I noticed the first visitor to our backyard.
And, then the second. The bird feeder in the photo below is low to the ground and is not squirrel proof. But, we have a dog that does not fancy squirrels and so they stay away, for the most part :)
Here is a little fella with a sunflower seed in the beak. Glad I can provide y'all some food.
This one had a little black patch on the head; only visible from this angle.
Further research taught me that this little fella is a Tufted Titmouse. Adorable!

Another view of the Tufted Titmouse.
Closeup of the Titmouse.
And then, I saw this Brownish bird as well. But, I am not sure what kind he/she is. Also, I noticed that the brown bird at not only from the feeder, but was also rummaging through the leaves below and picking out some food.
Here is the brown bird eating from the feeder.
I notice the brown bird has a pointy beak. Could it be a Brown Nuthatch? I wonder.
Just before I wrapped-up for the day, I saw this beautiful Cardinal (female) at a distance. With my limited experience and lenses, I could only create this photo. This is a beautiful girl!
So, that's all folks. I am just getting back into photographing and I always welcome good tips from y'all. So, please drop a comment and let me know what you think.

Paz :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

(Chrysanthe) mum is the word

We bought a Chrysanthemum plant for our porch last month.
The temperatures have not been too terrible, all the time, here in Atlanta and so; the plant stayed potted in the special flower pot.
Here, again, is a closeup of the beautiful flower.
Yet another closeup. I think these flowers are gorgeous.
In the last 3 weeks or so, we have had overnight lows in the low 20s, here in 'South'. So, yesterday, we took the Chrysanthemum plant out of its beautiful pot and planted it in the ground.

Hopefully, the deer won't eat it. Mum is the word :)

Paz :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

The hand that rocked the camera

In a recent post, I mentioned my concerns about my hand shaking and asked for your suggestions. I got some good feedback from John Lee of Sindbad and I. Thank you, John. I took your advise and used a tripod for the photographs in this post.

I believe these are winter pansies. We have these in little pots, hanging from a wooden beam, on our front porch. No shake - check!

No shake in this shot either. Now, why didn't I use my trusted tripod before? I wonder...

And, my trusted tripod is...
I love this Gitzo G2220 tripod. It weighs as much as I want it to weigh and it is rock solid. Less shaky than this photographer's hands :)

Paz :)

Peanuts? Not really...

I haven't posted anything in a while, mainly because of not cooking much. My lovely wife has been kind enough to help out in that department, while I take care of the exterior of our 'mansion' and 'grounds'. Leaves are a plenty, here in the great metropolis of Atlanta and that actually keeps me pretty busy. Lots of leaves to blow. Luckily, the back our home is wooded and I simply blow all the leaves in there. No bagging of the leaves required.
I recently learned that Dry Roasted Peanuts may not be vegetarian. I was surprised to find out that many manufacturers of Dry Roasted Peanuts spray the nuts with Gelatin (an animal byproduct, if memory serves me right), for whatever the motive be. Whoda thunked? This is something I would not have suspected. Now, we are back to buying only Peanuts that list all the ingredients clearly on the label.

Trader Joe's Blister Peanuts is still our 'good list'. Hopefully, we can find a few more to add to the list.

Hope all is well with you.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Bon appetit' :)

Schlumpf Innovations + Haberstock-Mobility = Great Customer Service

In my last post, I mentioned that one of the Torx screws on the Schlumpf Speed Drive stripped and that I was going to contact Schlumpf Innovations to get a few spare Torx screws.

I contacted Schlumpf Innovations on 11/30/2013 and I did not have to wait long at all for a response. May be a few hours? Boy did Schlumpf Innovations respond at lightning speed!

Lo and behold, the inventor of the Schlumpf, Florian Schlumpf himself, personally answered my email and assured me that I will get some spare Torx screws. Below is an excerpt from Florian's email:


Good morning Chandra,
thank you for your kind message.
We will be glad to send you a few of the Torx screws. Please forward us your shipping address.
You will get it from Haberstock-Mobility in Germany, who are producing our gearing systems now.
Thanks also for your comments on Facebook and your interesting blog!

With best wishes from snowy Switzerland,


Florian


Florian Schlumpf

schlumpf innovations gmbh
Dorfstr. 10
CH-7324 Vilters / Switzerland
Phone +41 81 723 80 09
Fax +41 81 723 83 64
www.schlumpf.ch
 Visit us at BaselWorld March/27 till April/03 2014: Hall 2.0 Booth H39
Franz,
auf dem Link http://ibrompton.blogspot.com/2013/11/fine-tuning-schlumpf-speed-drive.html siehst du die fehlende Schraube des s-d 08. Könnt ihr der Dame zwei, drei Schräubchen zusenden?
Danke und Gruss
Florian


Florian also informed me that I will be hearing from Haberstock-Mobility, who produce the Schlumpf gearing systems. I did hear from Franz at Haberstock-Mobility, in a matter of minutes, from Florian's email.


Hi Chandra,

im Franz from haberstock mobility. I learnt the gearing system from Florian.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.

I will send you today the lost screw.

Have a good time and best regards

from cold Germany
Franz

Beste Grüße aus Lauchringen/ Best Regards


i.A. Franz Furmaniak

- Techn.Leitung Schlumpf Getriebe -

2011-03-14 Logo.wmf


Kadelburgerstrasse 10

D-79787 Lauchringen

T: +49 77 41 67 28 29

F: +49 77 41 67 28 30
E: franz.furmaniak@haberstock-mobility.com
P: www.haberstock-mobility.com


Kennen Sie schon unseren "Advanced Belt Drive" ?


Drive mit ABD



I am very pleased with the really great Customer Service from both Schlumpf Innovations and Haberstock-Mobility. It is very pleasing to know that there are some people who will stand behind their products, both pre and post sales. In this case, the product was not directly sold to me by either Schlumpf Innovations or Haberstock-Mobility. In fact, I got the Schlumpf drive installed by Foldabikes. Schlumpf Innovations and Haberstock-Mobility could have told me to simply go through Foldabikes and get the issue resolved. However, they did not pass the buck!

Schlumpf Innovations and Haberstock-Mobility chose to exemplify great customer support by acting as role models.Awesome job, Schlumpf Innovations and Haberstock-Mobility. Thank you!


This is how all manufacturers should behave - stand behind their products. Alas, in this day and age of mass produced, cheaply manufactured goods, made by companies who seem to be in it for the sake of Profit Maximization only, not only is the quality of many a product questionable, but the very idea of Customer Service has become an oxymoron!

I am looking forward to receiving the Torx screws in the mail soon and replacing the stripped Torx screw on my Speed Drive. And, riding many a hill, made easy by my Schlumpf!

Paz :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fine-tuning the Schlumpf Speed Drive

Many of my readers may remember that I have a Schlumpf Speed Drive on Brompton, Brahma. Since I got this very advanced gearing system installed, I never had to even think about it. It always worked like a charm.

Recently, in the last month or so, I noticed that when I climb the two big (big for me) hills near my home, which measure about 18% or more on my Garmin, at the very top of the hill, as I am struggling to make it up the hill, the Schlumpf would slip. The combination of gears that got me up these hills is the lowest in the Schlumpf, SA BWR 3-speed and the lowest gear in the 2 external gears on Brahma. Brahma was built as a 6-speed (in the rear) Brompton P-Type with the Schlumpf Speed Drive in the front.

Knowing Schlumpf's reputation for bullet-proof engineering, I didn't worry about this much, but it was nevertheless bothersome, especially given I could lose my balance and crash, because of the instability brought about by the slipping of the Schlumpf.

So, it was time to dig out the Schlumpf manual and read-up.

The first thing that I noticed was that it was a good time to lube my Schlumpf. The picture below gives instructions for the same.
My Schlumpf Speed Drive is the version 08, for which one would need the instructions in H.2.3 in the picture above.

So, I hurried up and used my torx head to remove one of the 10 Torx screws on my Schlumpf.
Next, I rotated the Schlumpf crank arms, such that I could align the Torx screw slot with the Schlumpf drive's oil port.
That was relatively easy. I only tightened the Torx screw slightly when I put it back. Schlumpf has specific recommendations on how much torque to put on the screw, in Newton Meter units. I am planning to buy a Torx driver set soon, just so I can have one handy. 

Unfortunately, lubing the Schlumpf did not solve my problem. The Schlumpf still slipped, under load, every time I climbed the two big hills.

This afternoon, I decided it is time to get to the bottom of things. So, I started my 3 stage troubleshooting process. My plan was as follows:

  1. Check the SA hub to make sure it is adjusted properly
  2. Check the Chain for tension and wear
  3. Check the Schlumpf for any play and rectify without making any major adjustments
Item # 3 in the list above is a very important step. Schlumpf recommend that you do not adjust the settings too much, especially if you do not understand how the Schlumpf works thoroughly. I don't claim to understand the inner workings of the Schlumpf in its entirety. 

I did check the SA hub and it didn't need any adjustments.

Next was the chain on Brahma, which I replaced roughly a year ago, when I was in Dallas. I wrote about my experiences here and here.

When I checked the chain on Brahma, I was surprised to find that it had at least 75% wear on it. I checked the wear on a few links, before deciding it might be time to change it. However, I didn't think this was the problem, but I wanted to get a second opinion from a professional bike mechanic.
So, I called the bike shop at Perimeter REI. I talked to a newer tech, by the name of Ben, who sounded very confident and logical (both are very important in my book). He too thought that chain-wear may not alleviate the problem.

Anyways, I got in the Chevy and headed over to REI. Shortly, I met Ben. When we examined the Schlumpf together, Ben pointed out to me that there was some side-play in the Schlumpf, which was easy to adjust. Ben simply followed the instructions in the Schlumpf manual got it done**. Once the side-play was eliminated, I requested Ben to change the chain also. Luckily, REI had a 7/8 SRAM chain, which Ben assured me was equivalent to the 3/32 chain that was on Brahma. So, Brahma got a new chain as well.

**The adjustment needed to remove the side-play was the tightening of the part next to the bottom bracket on the non-drive side; this part is called a lock-out mechanism.
After the installation of the chain and the adjustments need to remove the side-play, Ben test rode Brahma and gave it a clean bill of health. I drove back home, after perusing the merchandise at REI. I even bought myself a little holiday gift, which I posted about here.

After I got home, I took Brahma for a test ride. I rode a short bit on a fairly flat road and then rode downhill to the bottom of the hill at Martins Road. From there, I rode up the hill, twice, in the same gear combination which would make the Schlumpf slip. Thank Goodness, no slippage. Phew!

I am hoping that the problem has been solved or as Clouseau would say, "Sol-ved" :)

I am very happy that I went to see a trusty professional mechanic.

Paz :)

PS. All along this process, Channell Wasson at Foldabikes, has been very helpful, by providing tips on troubleshooting. Thanks, Channell!

PPS. I found one of the Torx screws in the Schlumpf stripped. I know I did not strip the screw, by over tightening it, accidentally. The screw I removed to add lube, was not the one holding the trouser-guard in place. It must have happened, quite possibly when the unit was put together. I have found a temporary fix; replaced the stripped Torx screw with one from REI. The replacement does not match the color of the original and it is not of the same length; so, I have used a few washers to make it work for now. I plan to contact Foldabikes and Schlumpf Innovations and see if I can get a replacement. Hopefully, I can get a replacement from Schlumpf or Foldabikes.

Ornament

I was at REI this afternoon, where I came across something very unique inside this package.
Inside the package was a handmade, pewter, bicycle Christmas ornament.

The ornament is well made and made in the US of A!

It is not every year that we put up a Christmas tree. For instance, we may not have a Christmas tree this year. But, I figure I will save it for a future tree.

Until then, this beauty will serve as a decoration on my wall. Why not?

I am in a particularly happy mood to celebrate the holidays this year, more so than in the recent past. I hope you are too.

Peace :)

Brompton turns 25

Brompton celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday.
To read more about this event, please click on the picture above.

Paz :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bee careful

Bee careful. This would have been a great piece of advice to give everyone who visited the Butterfly Garden at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. There were plenty of bees there. I went with the primary intent of photographing the flowers and the butterflies.
But then, bees are fun too, if you are a cautious and patient photographer. Wouldn't you agree? :)

Paz :)

Scary Blog Statistics

It appears I posted the most in 2010 - 160 posts. Not bad 2011 either. But, in 2012 and 2013, I didn't post much at all.

Blog Archive

2012 was a very challenging year for me, given I had to deal with some not-very-nice people. I am glad I came out unscathed.

2013 was a different story. I was traveling a bunch for job interviews and then there was the big move to Atlanta. However, I think I have posted more often in my iBrompton blog than here.

Do I see a trend? Heck yeah!
Perhaps, time to consolidate the blogs? I don't know yet.

Something to ponder about…

Peace :)

Feeling Dirty

There was a price to pay in taking the shortcut during construction around the MUP.
Brahma was dirty. Needed a bath and I gave him one and lubed the chain, cables, etc. Clean as a whistle.

Temps have dropped in Atlanta. Nighttime temps are in the 20-30s. Daytime highs are only in the 40s this week, with the exception of one day - tomorrow. However, there is rain in the forecast, tomorrow and the day after.

Now, whoever said, you wash your car, it rains…Brahma is my car…well, you get the idea :)

I won't be commuting to work this week. It is a short week and I will be working from home when I need to.

Hope all is well.

Paz :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Schlumpf website has a 'New DO'

I have not been back to the Schlumpf website in a long time, since I bought Brahma, but I did yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised to see some changes.
They have an updated website and some information on some changes. Worth a read, if you have the product or if you are just a the curious kind, like many of us.

Paz :)

PS. Image above courtesy of Schlumpf Innovations.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Colors around my commute

I did not get to venture out too much to post a lot of pictures of Fall foliage. But, I did see these two, in Dunwoody, that caught my eye.
Both these are, obviously, in parking lots of office buildings, near the Medical Center Marta Station, in Dunwoody, GA.
Hope your are enjoying your Fall.

Paz :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Busy worker

I think have seen more bees since moving to Georgia. I think I saw a fair number in Missouri, but I can't say I saw a whole lot of them in Texas.
Shown in this post is a Busy Bee, working to collect food for the family or just hanging out (doubt that).

Georgia has the Yellow Jackets. I can't say I am ready to photograph them yet.

Location: Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC)

Paz :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lavende

Another lovely scene from the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I have several photos of this gorgeous place, which I plan to post, one per post, for the next week or so.

When we got to this particular spot, the lovely mix of colors, particularly the lavender color, caught our attention.
I am slowly getting back into photography. I hope to post pictures from different places as and when I can.

Paz :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Blue, Green and Yellow

Photo from early Fall at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC).
I simply love this place. It is very serene and the staff are awesome.

Paz :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pretty Purple

I have been having some issues with camera shake. I suppose it is part of growing younger :(
Any suggestions? I am starting to use a tripod where I can, more often than before.
Saw these beauties at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, when I went there earlier in Fall. Such intense coloration. Love it.

Paz :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shortcut cut short

In a recent post, I wrote about how my wife found a new shortcut to get home. However, there is construction (seawall installation) going on at Martins Lake has put an abrupt end to the shortcut. For the past few weeks, I was at least able to walk parts of this shortcut and ride parts of it, to get to the bus stop.
However, the livelihood of the shortcut has been cut short by more construction on the path along the lake. 
Now, they have dug up the Multi-User Path (MUP) completely. So, until the construction is complete, I will be taking the long way. I can't wait for the construction to be completed.

Paz :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Not news, but some very nice nuggets of information

Many of us may know that roads were not built for cars. I recently came across a very nice website, with lots of information on this topic.

Click on the image below to go to this website.

Peace :)