Friday, May 30, 2014

Red Finch

While I am not a 100% certain, I am reasonably confident that we only have one Red Finch (House Finch) come to our backyard to eat the safflower seeds. I can't tell if it is a he or a she, but sure looks very cute.
In deep thoughts, I say.
 What should I do next? Should I fly up to a higher branch?
 I see some others who look like me around here, but they are a different color. They are golden or yellow.
 I am unique and I am beautiful. Even if the photographer cannot capture all my beauty and majesty.
 Say - are you looking at me?
Peace :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lantana - so pretty

Lantana in our front yard.
 So, tiny weeny, but so pretty
Close-up look, or
just all together in a group shot
So, pretty…

On Tuesday morning, just as I was getting out of bed, my dear son-cat, Rambo, combined a meow and a yawn; and, made the sound of a "meow-yawn". That made me smile and has put me in the right mood to tackle the rest of the week with the biggest positive boost. The joys of having pets.

Peace :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You just have to look

I was picking up all the fallen branches and twigs in our yard the other day. That's when I came across these very pretty leaves on our Japanese Maple tree.
It is not often that I stop and wonder about the intricacies of this tree, but you know something? I am so glad I paid attention.

Sometimes, you just have to be willing to look. Beauty is all around us. Often as a part of nature.

Peace :)


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Good Fences # 1.x

Well, I couldn't help posting this photo, under the Good Fences category;
especially, as my children, Shaggy and Chaka (the redhead), posed for the photo and given the playpen was built by their father :)

Shaggy is 13 and Chaka is 4.

More fences to come in the future...


Peace :)

PS. Good Fences # 1.x because I linked one of my old posts of the Ramble in Sanger, TX, as a Good Fences post; but, I didn't post the article as an official Good Fences 1.0 post!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Helmet Mirror - Loc-Line Tubing Stress Fracture

My famous helmet mirror is showing some signs of wear and tear - repeated motion injury, to be perfectly honest. Since moving to Atlanta and commuting using a bike, the bus and the train, I have been folding the Loc-Line portion of my helmet mirror, every time I pack my helmet, while on the train or the bus and I suppose I had done it, once too many times. Recently, I noticed that one of the Loc-Line segments breaks away easy.
It wasn't difficult to pop it back in. You can see the weakest link marked in black ink.
Well, this is a minor inconvenience and I have now come to the conclusion that I shouldn't fold and tuck away the Loc-Line tubing, when I stow the helmet.

Well, at least until I find a better solution or buy me some new Loc-Line tubing.

Peace :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A step in the right direction

Listen Up, Monsanto!

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in Monsanto’s boardroom this week?
Two Oregon counties—Jackson and Josephine—soundly defeated the Gene Giants on Tuesday, May 20. Voters there, led in Jackson County by a grassroots group called Our Family Farms Coalition, passed countywide bans on growing GMOs.

The wins send a clear signal to the biotech industry that their GMO crops are not wanted. And an equally clear signal to politicians that communities will take a stand to protect their democratic right to local home rule.
This time, Monsanto’s money and lies didn’t work. (Monsanto and the rest of the Gene Giants spent a cool $1 million—a new record for a county ballot measure in Oregon—in Jackson County alone).
This time, ordinary citizens and community rights prevailed over corporate and political corruption.
This time, we’re celebrating.
This week’s victories are all the more sweet, coming just weeks after Vermont signed into law this country’s first stand-alone bill requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs.
The grassroots anti-GMO movement, always a force to be reckoned with, is now a bigger-than-ever threat to corporations that have poisoned and polluted with impunity, for decades.
Thanks to you.


Source: Organic Consumers Association

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quandary

I have been pondering if I would haul less in my commute bag, if I had a smaller bag. Plus, in all fairness, the Brompton T-Bag does 'promote' carrying a lot of stuff, especially in people like me.

So, to mix it up a bit and also to assess if I will forego any of my 'regular items', I have been taking the Carradice Nelson Long Flap Camper (NLFC) on a few days. The Carradice NLFC is a great bag, but I sure wish it had a should strap, as my commute is multi-modal and I do take my bag off the Brompton, while I am on the train and the bus. During these times, I have to carry the bag by its strap, which you can see sticking above the saddle, in the picture below. It is okay to do this and that is the very purpose of the handle, but I lose one degree of freedom, so to speak. I don't have both my hands to hold on to poles or straps, to steady myself, on the train and the bus. The T-Bag has a very nice shoulder strap, which is very useful, while on the bus or the train. One more good thing about the T-Bag is that it has a strap in the front which can hold my helmet/hat - see this link for more details.
On the bright side, I do not carry some of the stuff I normally carry in the T-Bag. Such items would include extra cameras, extra clothing, etc. This makes my load lighter and I believe it makes climbing the 17% hill to get home somewhat easier. Fair Disclosure: The hills are less of an issue since the shortcut is my route of choice, especially on my way back from the bus/work.

One other nice feature in the T-Bag is the water bottle sleeve. The NLFC has a pocket for holding my water bottle, but having the bag behind the saddle makes it difficult to reach for the water bottle, while riding. No biggie, in the grand scheme of things, but I am working on finding a solution for this. I might even consider adding a water bottle cage to the Brompton. The evil twin wants to get a Brompton City Folder bag for the front, which is a bit smaller than the T-Bag and quite stylish, but I do believe it weighs a bit more than the T-Bag. Evil twin's argument - You don't have to carry all your junk in the new bag you know.

So, while I am not dealing with a real/life issue or something, I am dealing with a quandary. One that is created by me and quite possibly is one that will be 'solved' by me.

Peace :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Right of Way

Seen near my work within the last month or so.
As always, I stop for all pedestrians, irrespective of their Genus and Species :)

Peace :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kale-licious

A couple of days ago, I had a Kale, cabbage, Broccoli slaw and sprouted Mung beans salad for lunch. 

The Kale and Cabbage salad mix is available at many a grocer. It comes with chopped Kale, cabbage (red and green), broccoli slaw, and some nuts & dried cranberries.
I skip the dressing that comes on the package, as it is too sweet for me. Instead, I use either the Trader Joe's a Goddess Dressing or a home-made version of the same. 

I usually eat the whole bag of this salad and add some of the sprouted mung beans to it for adding some more wholesome goodness to the mix.

Many a time, Simple does it!

Bon appétit :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ant and the Peony Flower

You don't see him/her in this picture, but...
you see the little bugger here, nibbling (possibly) on the flower...
to make it open and be so pretty...
with that marvelous quality inside, when you look deep inside...
a beautiful Peony flower, you are!

A look deep within the Peony flower reveals such endless beauty.
Oh, how I wish it were true in all walks of life...

Peace :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shortcut - Almost finished

I first wrote about the shortcut to my home from the bus stop, back in OCT'13. You can read about it here.

I am eagerly awaiting the completion of the path around the lake near my house. When completed, it will save me roughly 15 minutes of intense climbing.

I have been checking on the progress, as this is both a good way to avoid speeding cars on Riverside road and a scenic alternative.
Well folks - I am happy to report that all that needs to be completed is less than 100 feet of concrete work. Plans are also to have the lake completely filled soon thereafter. It is going to be great.
As you can see in the picture above, you can almost see Riverside Road.

Now, this is really going to be awesome. I am keeping my fingers crossed that speed demons will keep away from this path and let the people with proper etiquette enjoy the path.

Peace :)




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Visitor in the Rhododendron plant

Before moving to Atlanta, I did not know what a Rhododendron was. We have a few of these beautiful flowering plants. As evergreens, they also make the dreary, grey days, look a little better.

Last weekend, I was tooling around in the yard and I stopped by to examine the Rhododendron in our front yard. It is then that I spotted our new visitor.
At first, I was a bit intimidated by his stinger and I thought he might want to give me a kiss with them things and so I didn't get too close to him.
But, I realized in a minute or two that he was unable to fly. I saw an ant biting him incessantly. Poor guy!
I wonder if he was drunk on the nectar. But, he just lay there for a bit, as though he wanted to sleep. Normally, if it was a moth or some such thing being attacked by ants, I would have picked the little fellow up and placed him elsewhere in the garden, where he/she might stand a fair chance of survival. But, with this guy with the stinger, I chose not to mess around and let nature do what's best for him/her. Or, like I said before, may be the little fellow just needed a break.
 And, here is a view of much of the plant. I used a Sigma wide-angle lens to take the photo below, but the ones above were taken using a Nikkor Macro lens.
Recently, I attended a seminar conducted by the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream folks, where I learned that coffee grounds (did I tell you I have a cup or two of espresso every day? :)) can be recycled as fertilizer for the Rhododendrons and Azaleas. I have read that one can trim these bushes, but I have to do a little more research before I venture into unknown territories.

Hope all is well with you.

Peace :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Matt-ers of Interest - A Little Post for Matt

I was recently asked a few questions by Matt, who is considering buying a Brompton for commuting around Atlanta. This post is created for the specific purpose of answering Matt's questions.


Q: How far is your typical commute and would you have considered commuting via Brompton if it were further?
I commute to the Perimeter from Roswell.
My commute is multi-modal; cycle about 3 miles to bus; bus ride to North Springs; and then, a short train ride to Medical Center, after which I ride about a mile to work. I repeat the same on the way back, although I tend to ride a bit more on the way back. Since the bus is not very dependable, as it is greatly affected by traffic, on somedays I get a ride to the bus from home.

Q: Per your experience with riding in Atlanta via Brompton, is there a threshold to driving versus riding?
About 3-5 miles per trip is what I would estimate my bicycle commute tolerance to be. There are two primary reasons why this is the case. 1) the hills of ATL are no joke, 2) there aren't any good roads to get to some of the shopping centers. Trips to Publix (grocery) and coffee shops, in Roswell, are an exception.


Q: Do you find riding a bike in Atlanta dangerous?
Perhaps a lot more crazy than Dallas, TX (my former hometown), but one has to take the necessary precautions. I consider driving in Atlanta equally dangerous. One may argue that given a cyclist is not inside of a metal cage, he/she is more prone to danger. I recommend taking all the necessary precautions. In some cases, you can walk; safely and faster. If that's the case, that's what I choose to do. I ride lawfully. No sidewalk riding or riding against traffic. I stop at all STOP signs and follow all rules of the road. This makes my life a bit easier, shall we say? I can't control what others are likely to do, but I can at least minimize craziness caused by me :)


Q: Did you purchase your Brompton here in Atlanta?
No, I bought it online, from Foldabikes.com. There were no local dealers in Dallas, where I lived, when I was looking to buy my Brompton; and, after researching my choices, I chose to buy from Foldabikes. There are two Brompton dealers in ATL. Of the two, my preference would be to go with Houndstooth Road in Decatur. I know the owner and I think they are a great outlet for European bikes in ATL. I called and spoke with the people at the other shop and I was terribly dissatisfied with their lack of promptness and lack of care for someone's time. Disclaimer: I do not profit from recommending any bike dealer.

Q: Besides the brakes above, has the Brompton name held true; where little to no maintenance is needed?
The Brompton is a phenomenal bicycle. The parts I have replaced are ones that are prone to wear and tear; such as cogs and chain. The replacement of the brake pads is normal wear and tear and it does not reflect on the quality of the Brompton, which is a exceptionally well-made machine and its utility far exceeds its price-tag. I have made a mistake or two in choosing the right chain for my Brompton, which you can read about here and here. Repairing a bike in the dark is something I don't recommend. You can drop a small spring in the dirt and never find it. You can read more about this sort of mistake here :)


Few things to note:
  1. Here is how my Brompton came about
  2. It takes a few miles to get used to the quick-responding Brompton handlebar
  3. I have my Brompton geared to scale a wall. I recommend getting the 3-speed BWR and the 2 speed derailleur, minimally; especially, for Atlanta; particularly, for those who are not mountain goats :)
  4. I suggest getting the dynamo hub and the lights to go with it, especially if you are considering riding in the dark
  5. I do not recommend parking your Honda Element or CRV or any vehicle that sits taller, at any MARTA parking facility. On March 21, 2014, my Catalytic converter was sawed off, during the middle of the day, from the North Springs MARTA parking facility, while I was away at the GA Adopt-a-Stream conference. Apparently, it is a common theft in ATL. I saw tons of CRVs and Elements at the Honda Dealer's repair shop!
  6. If you decide to go the Brompton route, take your time and get comfortable with folding the bike. This is an essential skill, which you will need to perform many times, especially if your commute is multi-modal. I like to practice where I am not pressured to perform :)
  7. My objective is to make time for commuting by bicycle, whenever possible. I do not try to race or  rush, for it is simply not my cup of tea
Matt- I hope this post helps. If you have any other questions, please just let me know via a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions.

I wish you the very best in your search for your bespoke Brompton bicycle.

Peace :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Worn out

No, I am not worn out. I am just fine.
But, the brake pads on the Brompton were, almost.
I noticed a little degradation in braking power last month.
That's when I checked the brake pads and found that the front pads were badly worn.

See pictured below, the rear brake pads. The front pads were worse.
Bromptons come equipped with Fibrax pads.
I am used to brake pads wearing out around 2.5K miles or a bit more.
But, the ones on the Brompton wore out, at a faster rate, especially since moving to Atlanta.
I suppose the hills and the rainy conditions contributed to the faster rate of wear.
And, there are other factors as well.

After mucha contemplación, I decided to replace the worn ones with Kool-Stop Cross Pads.
I have Kool-Stop pads on all my bikes, with the exception of my Thorn Nomad MKII, which have SwissStop blue pads.

Here is a close-up of the new Kool-Stop Cross Pads, appropriately set in my Almond/Peanut Butter jar lid spares holder.
With a magnet at the bottom :)
The installation was relatively easy, even for a novice mechanic like me. I did use my Park Tool Third-Hand Tool, during the installation, which helped a bunch. I might fine-tune the brakes after a month of riding or so.

I tested the new pads, before taking it on my commute rides. They work very well; and, as a matter of fact, I have ridden on a few rainy days since installation and they worked very well.

I am happy with the stopping power of the Kool-Stop brake pads.
Hopefully, I will get some good mileage out of them.

Have a Great Week!

Peace :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lemon Rasam

One of my all time favorite dishes is a Lemon Rasam, the rough western equivalent to which would be a "Thin Lentil Soup w/ Lemon". The key differences between the western soup and the eastern rasam, one might say, would be in the ingredients and the way in which it is prepared.

Here is my recipe.

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked dal (lentils)
1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp rasam powder

Preparation:
In a sauce pan, bring two cups of water to a boil
Add the cooked dal
Squeeze the lemon and add the juice to the dal
Add the rasam powder and the chili powder
Turn down the heat to medium or low

In a separate pan, heat up the ghee, add the mustard seeds, add a pinch of asafetida.
Turn off the heat and add the curry leaves to the hot ghee.
Add this mix to the rasam in the sauce pan
Garnish with chopped cilantro
Add salt to taste
Close-up of the yummy tasting Lemon Rasam!
Lemon Rasam is traditionally eaten with rice and veggies. Now-a-days, I take the rasam as a sipping soup (thanks to Shaheen for the phrasing) or with veggies. Mostly, just by itself, as I am trying to lay off white rice and bread.

With or without rice, Lemon Rasam is a great tasting dish.

Bon appétit :)