Friday, June 27, 2008

Flush the Toilet

I was listening to an interesting podcast this morning. One of the hosts said that the acid test to see if someone can really speak a language that they claim to speak is to ask them if they know how to say "flush the toilet" in that language.

Apparently each language has its own idiomatic way to express this. In French you would say "pull the chain." In Spanish you would say "tirar de la cadena." I didn't know that until right now so I can't claim to be able to speak Spanish.

I wonder, however, about languages such as Zulu. Do they really have an idiomatic way to express something that is so new to the culture/language? Please could all the Zulu speakers who read this respond with a comment...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Size of Head

My wife sometimes tells me that I have a big head. This evening I had cause to measure it and discovered that it's 57cm which lead me to looking up my head size and I discovered that in fact I have a medium sized head which is defined as:

57-58cm or 22 3/8 - 22 3/4 inches and a hat size of 7 1/8 - 7 1/4.

Do you know your hat size?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wii Fit

We've just bought a Wii Fit and I'm very impressed. I've been wondering how the Balance Board would help and now I think I know how.

When you're setting up the Wii Fit it records your height (you need to input that) and weight (it measures that).

If you're doing something like a lunge you're supposed to put a certain percent (I'm guessing 50%) of your weight on your front leg. Because this leg is on the Balance Board the Wii Fit can measure the percent of your weight on that leg and provides a marker on the screen showing you if you need to put more or less weight there.

I've now used it twice in two days. I'm sure I'm going to post more about this soon...

Triple Digits at Midnight

I'm guessing that we finally hit triple digits at midnight last night. I was watching telly and noticed at 11:35pm that it was 102 but forgot to check again at midnight. I keep an eye on Rob's Blog to let me know the first triple digit midnight of the year and he mentioned a few days ago that he thought it was close.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mongoose XR-Comp

A couple of months ago I bought a Mongoose XR-Comp mountain bike. Over the last 2 months I've covered about 380 miles on it, mostly over desert terrain. I really like this bike, however, I had to return it to Wal-Mart because of the quality of the inner tubes and unavailability of aftermarket alternatives to the inner tubes that Pacific Cycles provide with the bike.

During the two months that I had the bike both the front and back tire inner tubes split. I am guessing that this happened for one or both of the following reasons: (1) The inner tube supplied is 1/4 inch smaller in diameter than the wheel diameter and/or (2) they are very low quality.

Usually this wouldn't be a concern because you can buy high quality replacements from companies like Bell. However, because of the design of the wheels these inner tubes require an extra long valve stem and even though I live in the 6th largest city in the US no one carries stock of this type of inner tube. Even if they did it's inconvenient having to replace one a month.

The only way that I managed to replace the inner tubes was by calling Pacific Cycle on the East Coast and having them shipped which means that I have to pay for postage as well as the new inner tubes.

When I read the reviews about this bike there was one person who marked the bike as "not recommended" for the sole reason of the inability to buy an inner tube. I'm not sure why that didn't concern me at the time but it should have. If Pacific Cycle stop making or supplying those inner tubes then the wheels on this bike become useless and your have to spend several hundred dollars replacing the wheels.

It's a real pity because it's a great mountain bike.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dead Roadrunner

I decided that I'd had enough of the roadrunner so on Wednesday evening I went out and bought a shotgun. One of the great things about living in the United States is that all you need to buy a gun is some sort of ID (I borrowed a friends library card) and hard cash.

It was 12-gauge, double barrel and with a hacksaw from Ace Hardware I reduced the barrels to a manageable length.

So I was cruising down the path this morning with the shotgun taped to the handlebars like a rotating tail gunner from a Lancaster Bomber when I saw the little bastard at the usually spot. It froze as if staring down the barrel of a gun. I grabbed the stock with my left hand and squeezed both triggers in its direction but hit the desert scrub to its left and raised a cloud of dust that I had to cough through.

Now remember that I haven't even slowed down at this point. I reloaded by holding the stock between my legs and shoving 2 more AAA's into the barrel. By now the roadrunner had taken off but was still in front of me unable to leave the path because of a high wall and line of trees.

This time it was easier to aim because it was holding a steady height above the ground and not quivering. I decided to let rip with one barrel at a time. The wide spread passed just below it to the right knocking him slightly up and left. The choke barrel caught it up the tail and it exploded into a cloud of feathers.

I swallowed a fist full of feathers as I sailed through the aftermath and set a new record cycling to work.

Of course I ditched the shotgun behind a bush before I got to work because we're not allowed to guns at our desks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Double Roadrunners

There were two of them waiting for me this morning. By the time I saw them they were already running at full speed along the path. I tried to work out which one was the regular one I'd been racing against but couldn't tell - they looked identical.

I couldn't help wondering if they were a husband/wife team taking me on or Roadrunner Olympic Contestants. I'd like to think the latter.

They'd obviously planned this. We arrived at a fork in the path and they split. My regular fork at that point is slightly uphill so I selected the easier route. I think this took them by surprise as I quickly caught my single competitor and forced it into the bushes.

Again I am victorious!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reach 11 Bobcat

Yesterday (9 June 2008) evening I was cycling back home through Reach 11 and came across a bobcat on the track. My first thought was "wow, a bobcat on the track." My second thought was "is this the roadrunner's doing?"

For those that know Reach 11 I saw the bobcat in the section between Tatum and 56th on the paved path just north of the perennial pond. As soon as it saw me it dashed back into the undergrowth on the north side of the pond.

This morning there was no sign of the roadrunner. I'm sure it's plotting something...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tricked Roadrunner

I was cruising down the path this morning keeping a beady eye out for the roadrunner. Around a corner I came across it but it ran right past me in the wrong direction. I slowed down and looked back to see it standing in the path, that look of bewilderment hanging off its beak.

My guess is that the roadrunner doesn't understand the concept of weekends and thought that because it hadn't seen me on the Saturday or Sunday that I'd given up and wasn't coming back to the races.

How very wrong it was and how very easily I beat it today.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sneaky Roadrunner

The roadrunner made an unexpectedly early appearance this morning. I was still mulling over this morning's race strategies when it (gender neutral) appeared in the path.

Usually it starts to run as soon as we lock eyes on each other but this morning it just stood there. I started pushing hard on the pedals expecting it to take off running at any minute.

As I drew up to where it was standing a Gambel's Quail with 5 tiny chicks came running out of the bush right across the path. I slammed on brakes and came to a skidding sideways stop just managing not to wreck.

After the dust had settled there were no witnesses left except myself. The roadrunner had disappeared into the bushes with its accomplices. I disqualified the roadrunner and declared myself the winner.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Roadrunner cheats

I was cycling to work today as usually and the roadrunner appears again except this time a little earlier along the ride than before and at the beginning of a decline for me. This gave me a distinct advantage. I changed into a higher gear and pedalled hard. The roadrunner increased his (it must be a male because it's so bloody competitive) speed and I increased mine.

For the first time I drew up parallel to him and knew I was going to overtake him. That's when the bastard cheated and took off and started to fly and rose up to eye level with me. I stared him straight in the eye and he returned my glare and then I decided that if he was cheating so was I. As we approached a tree I took a quick swerve to the right and tried to head-butt him. Lucky for him he swerved out the way but had to go around the tree.

When he appeared again on the line of the path, still flying, he was a few yards behind me and I saw him land and give up. He just stood there in the path with a bewildered look on his face.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Racing Roadrunner

On my cycle to work I come across many small desert animals as part of my ride is along the Central Arizona Project canal. Desert cottontails, gophers, squirrels etc.

The last 2 days I've encountered a roadrunner. I'm not sure if it's the same one - I'm guessing yes. Like the Racing Lizard this roadrunner has been racing me.

Roadrunners can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) and generally prefer sprinting to flying. I cycle along that part of the desert at around 12 MPH. The roadrunner keeps a steady pace ahead of me and when I push a bit faster he (or she) picks up the pace to keep the same distance. When we get to the end of the path the roadrunner turns off and disappears into the bushes.

Did the roadrunner win or did I? I think it was yours truly because the roadrunner gave up and I continued.