January 4, 2018: Exercise, Eating, Birds, Resolutions

January 4, 2018: Exercise, Eating, Birds, Resolutions

Androp is a model for consistency when it comes to exercise.  He went to the gym the EXACT same number of days in 2017 as in 2016.

Androp Gerard is a model for exercise consistency.  What he should look like (left) versus what he does look like (right).

The number of recoded bike rides was almost identical as well.  Nonetheless, the amount of weight gained increased year over year.  Food possesses devastating allure, based on evolutionary mandates (e.g. fats, sweets, and salts were in short supply for early hominoids).  Sedentary activities dominate work and leisure time, and basal metabolic rates have been conclusively observed to decline with age.  None of this helps an aging individual maintain their ‘ideal’ weight.

The evolutionarily-mandated allure of food and sedentary activities, plus reductions in basal metabolic rate with age (upper left inset), conspire to cause weight gain in humans.


Days of sub-freezing temperatures resulted in frenetic activity at the feeder and backyard bird sauna (heated bird bath).  Visitors from the west were taken with the beauty of the Northern Cardinals which are common at the feeder.  At least one Red-breasted Nuthatch, fairly rarely seen in past years, has been a regular visitor to the suet feeder.  Barnabas the Barred Owl was seen swooping in and taking a White-throated Sparrow.  The latter seem to be seen as fun-sized, savory chunks of meat by the backyard predators.

A Barred Owl was seen ambusing a White-throated Sparrow (bottom left).  Northern Cardinals are regular at the feeder, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch has been coming to the suet.

If a human only has so much will-power, it should be saved for emergency use. Examples may include repeatedly going blind to the antics of he who must not be named in order to avoid a heart attack, or not laughing or calling someone a ‘moron’ in a professional meeting.  For this reason, Androp has never been into New Year’s resolutions: they represent an unnecessary squandering of will power.  However, in a technical break with the ‘no resolution is a good resolution’ tradition, Androp has resolved: “do better” in 2018.  Slide4Note that no reference point is given (e.g. ‘than in 2016’ is implied but not stated, so this could mean do better than in 1972, or 1983, which are distant enough to be essentially unmeasurable).  Also, no actual ‘better at what’ is stated.  Hence, this resolution should not result in a waste of will power.


May 16, 2017: Floods, Fun, and Birds

 May 16, 2017: Floods, Fun, and Birds

The bike trail runs through the underpass on the left, then out through the lake behind the girl.  It was not passable in this photo.

Androp has been busy and happy about it, so this blog has suffered.  A flood that was widespread across the Midwest and Southeastern USA impacted bicycle riding in a negative way.  The local rails-to-trails bike path was flooded and washed out.

Bike falls from loose gravel can result in broken wrists (illustrated on left).

Within 10 days, County workers had the trail passable, though still a little dangerous due to loose gravel.

A trip to Texas resulted in some scribbling on a dry erase board, and more important, viewing of a Red-cockaded Woodpecker during one afternoon field trip.  The bird is rare and endangered.

The doodles are the result of a day’s meeting in Texas.  A Red-cockaded Woodpecker was seen during an afternoon field trip.

The doodles are not uncommon.

Fun on the cul-de-sac has been rampant with the temperatures pleasant and bugs not too numerous.  The grandchildren and youngest child displayed themselves on a Nissan Sentra while they at push-pops.

Photodocumentation of ideal use of a Nissan Sentra on a nice spring afternoon.

The volume of push-pops that can be consumed by children while they play outside is startling.  Numbers range from several to a crap load, with a bunch being average.

Finally, the Spring Migratory Bird Count resulted in 78 species seen or heard on a 6 mile slow walk over 5.5 hours, plus 14 miles in an auto.

Two of 78 species seen during the Spring Migratory Bird Count.

The counts are done in a systematic way by block.  Otherwise, more birds would have been seen, because wetlands would have been visited.  The route taken had no wetlands.  Nobody is too gawddamned bitter about it though, just because they were not given a good block whereas other people were.

April 13, 2017: New Bikes, Meditation, Spring Birds and Amphibians, Teeth Cleaning

April 13, 2017: New Bikes, Meditation, Spring Birds and Amphibians, Teeth Cleaning

New bicycle longing (lust) was a topic of concern over the late winter and spring.

Cul de sac fun with a new bike.

The desire was finally incompletely satisfied via purchase of a bicycle for the middle grandchild.  Extensive research (exhaustive, in fact) on children’s bikes was done earlier (see January 26 post), but was completely disregarded in favor of purchasing “whatever bike they were selling that fit” at the local bike shop.  Results have been so far acceptable, although a trip to the bike trail resulted in failure (too scary).

The current bike is fairly new

A new bike for Androp seemed, in the end, unreasonable, and the idea of buying on was scrubbed, because:

  1. There is no place to store an extra bike in the garage (the ‘tipping point’ issue)
  2. The current bike is fairly new
  3. New components, including a chain and highly puncture resistant tires, were added to the current bike last fall
  4. One human can ride only one bicycle at a time, normally
  5. Different purposes may call for different bikes, but Androp rides almost exclusively on the bike trail, for pleasure, fitness, and mental health

    One human can ride only one bike at a time, as illustrated above.

To elaborate on the mental health benefits of bicycle riding consider this: fairly often, when riding alone, Androp “wakes up” to find he does not know where he is, exactly, on a familiar bike path.  Probably this is due to many parts of his brain having temporarily shut down while pedaling along.  This represents the essence of meditation (see Dec. 22, 2016 post).

Spring is in full swing, with migrating and returning birds too numerous to list.

The Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula are two nesting warblers speices back for the summer.

Two of the more striking species include the Prothonotary Warbler and Northern Parula (also a warbler), both heard but not seen on bike trail rides.  Moderate flooding filled swamps along the big river and woodland ponds.

Amphibians were singing in abundance. Clockwise (not to scale) American Toad, Western Chorus Frog, Bullfrog, Southern Leopard Frog.

During an overcast, warm afternoon, four amphibian species where heard in a wooded swamp: American Toad, Western Chorus Frog, Bullfrog, and Southern Leopard Frog, the latter in abundance.

Finally, a teeth cleaning appointment was reluctantly kept.  These are characterized by:

  1.  Anxiety about pain that will be inflicted and endured. This slowly builds for about 4 days before the appointment, and becomes virtually incapacitating within 2 to 4 hours of the appointment.
  2.  Pain being endured. Usually this is inflicted in unpredictable, sharp, excruciating waves across time (sweaty palms, chants to an internal voice: I am not here. I am not here. I am not here. I am not here).
  3. Relief when it is over, with internal admonitions, “I am never coming back here. This is stupid.”

The US Center for Disease Control, in their Oral Health section, mentions two things: (1) fluoridation (it is good), and (2) tooth sealant (also good).  Nowhere do they mention teeth cleaning.   All articles on this subject retrieved via a Google search were written by dentists.  Readers of a certain age will recall the dentist from the movie, Little Shop of Horrors.  Google that, and take a look at the YouTube clips.

March 20, 2017: Cold Bike Ride; Signs of Spring; Kid Soccer; Brussels Sprouts; Androp’s Famous Sauce; Forming Society

March 20, 2017: Cold Bike Ride; Signs of Spring; Kid Soccer; Brussels Sprouts; Androp’s Famous Sauce; Forming Society

Frost-nipped cheeks resulted from cold riding.  Henbit (top) and a cave with an Eastern Phoebe (bottom) were signs of spring.

Androp ventured on a bike ride on a bright, sunny morning with the temperature at 44 F and a 12 mph wind.  Feet went numb and cheeks felt mild frost bike.  Pedaling was slow.  Hint: bright sunshine will not very much counteract the impact of cold air temperatures.

Signs of spring: Western Chorus Frogs were singing, despite the cold, from a shallow pond along the bike trail.

Western Chorus frogs make a big sound for a small animal.  Eastern Phoebe’s arrive early in the spring.  Henbit (a mint) is among the first annuals to bloom in abundance.

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) was abundant in last year’s soybean fields.  And an Eastern Phoebe was seen and heard defending a nesting site in the mouth of a cave.

In culinary notes, brussels sprouts and chicken quarters were cooked on the gas grill for one meal.  The sprouts were almost good. Almost.  Steak, potatoes, baked pears, corn on the cob, and steamed asparagus were made for Sunday.  Androp’s famous white sauce was made to couple with asparagus:

These brussels sprouts were made edible by halving, buttering, and cooking on the grill.  The chicken was delicious.

-1/3rd cup each of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise,

-one tsp each of dill and paprika,

-two tsp of lemon juice,

-1/4th tsp salt

This simple white sauce goes well with fish, asparagus, and really, pretty much anything.  It is so often requested that it is called “Androp’s famous sauce” around the house.

The youngest grandchild was taken to “organized” soccer practice.  This is how that goes, with 2 and 3 year old kids:

Young children do not much benefit from coaching.  Squashing the ball (left) and scoring (right).

Coach, “This class is adult-help.”

Adults, to selves “Oh.  Holy Crap. Buck up.  Strap in.”

Coach, “Take your little rings.  Sit in your rings.”

Team, Pick up rings, toss, use as hoola hoop, hit other kids in head.

Coach, “Where are you ears?  Touch your listening ears.”

Team, No Reaction. Continue to play with ring.

Coach, “Where are your soccer feet? Touch your soccer feet.”

Team, No Reaction.  Continue to play with ring.  Fidget.  Struggle against adults who are frantically restraining movement.

Androp, to self, “Geezus. This is senseless.  These kids do not know the coach exists on earth.  Just let them run……Please…. open revolt is possible…Just. Let. Them. Run!”

Mercifully, the Coach said,  “Okay. Run (a “toward something” was stated by Coach, but that part was inconsequential).”  This was the highlight of practice for every child.

Finally, Androp has pondered how humans, a species of small troupe primate, have been able to form societies with millions of members.  Foremost is the recognition that humans  are smart buggers: they can learn, and can pass on knowledge, so they have been able to find ways to ensure the growth of a large, essentially pan-earth population (7 billion, and counting).  Stream of thought includes:

Among humans, in-groups and out-groups can be defined by color.  Not so much for sheep, apparently.
  1. Cooperation at some level is an advantage; the individual needs the troupe
  2. Selfishness and the attainment of high social status may have been an evolutionary advantage at times: the sultan/king has a lot of off-spring out of that harem/stable of concubines. Never mind Joseph Smith and Brigham Young: light weights.
  3. Populations of both in-groups and out-groups have increased: small troupes cannot compete in a pastoral, agricultural, or industrial age.
  4. Large in-groups have to maintain internal order or break apart, leaving themselves susceptible to attack by larger out-groups. This is manifest in the establishment of governments and institutions.
  5. He who must not be named in the USA has explicitly re-defined a limited in-group (that does not include all humans in the USA) and made them frightened of both internal (other USA citizens) and external out-groups. This will tend to destabilize and fragment the original in-group (the USA as a whole).



March 7, 2017: Dangerous Cats, Biking in Wind, Broken Glass, Muffin Bread, Spring, Carrion

March 7, 2017:  Dangerous Cats, Biking in Wind, Broken Glass, Muffin Bread, Spring, Carrion

Cats are a danger to humans: tripping and diseases are hazards.

Cats serve humans as surrogate non-needy friends, or as substitute children.  Setting aside the disagreeable task of cleaning their litter boxes, they do pose significant actual dangers to humans.  They get underfoot and can trip the unsuspecting and cause broken wrists, broken hips, and brain-threatening concussions.  Even when falling is avoided, they trigger emotional distress when humans step on them and make them yowl.

“Gawdamit!  Sorry, cat!  I did not mean to step on you.  Stoopid cat.  Get out from under my frisking feet.”

Some seconds later, when panic begins to fade, to self, muttering, “Geezus I hope I did not break that cat’s leg.  Crimony.  Not my fault.  Fricking cat.”

Most concerning are the cat-born diseases.  Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted by felines and is a parasite that may negatively impact risk assessment.  No human needs to be worse at risk assessment: their skill level is horrible in the modern world.  Infection rates among adult humans in the USA are about 18%.to 19%.  Look it up.  Approximately 60 million adults in the USA are/have been infected with Toxoplasmosis.  This figure roughly corresponds with the number of humans who voted for he who must not be named.  Coincidence?

Wind is the biker’s enemy

Androp went biking in winds that hovered near 12 mph on an overcast, 50 F morning.  Riding out into the wind was brutal.  Riding back was a breeze (pun intended).  Hint: ride out into the wind, and back with the wind.  Pay attention.  Also, when a rider reaches 8 to 10 mph on a bike, nearly all of the riding resistance comes from wind.  The weight of the bike matters little: given a human weighting 200 lbs, pedaling a bike that weights 35 lbs versus 25 lbs only add 4.4% to the load.  Riding resistance is impacted even less.  Likewise, tire tread and tire circumference add little riding resistance.  Google Sheldon Brown (insert biking subject) for more information.

Puddles of crushed glass are hard in bicycle tires.  Garbage trucks have been leaking.

Speaking of biking and broken glass: the wife successfully sleuthed the source of puddles of broken glass that appear on the street in our cul-de-sac: garbage trucks.  This is bad news for biking, especially for non-puncture-resistant youth bike tires.  Bummer.

The culinary notes are sparse: Androp made pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, green beans, and fresh English muffin bread this week for the family Sunday meal.  Pulled pork and coleslaw on buns is yummy.  Cook the pork slowly for tenderness: in the oven at about 310 for 4 hours.  Use a fatty roast, such as “butt roast” or “Boston Butt” or “shoulder roast.”  These are all from the shoulder area.  Pork loin sucks for pulled pork: too lean.  English muffin bread (also called toasting bread) is probably the easiest yeast loaf to make for the first-time baker.  No kneading, no stand or hand mixer needed, and only one rise required.  The loaves are firm and can be sliced thin for toasting.  All recipes for this loaf are similar.  Pleasing, bigger loaves will result if the baker adds about 25% to all ingredients from most recipes.

English muffin bread (one loaf partially consumed, above) is easy for first-time bakers.  Pulled pork requires a fatty roast, slow cooked.


Signs of spring are abundant in Androp’s home town: decorative magnolia trees and Bradford pears are in bloom.  Generally, this means one more freeze on the year.

Finally, Androp has a friend who feeds carrion to Turkey Vultures in his back year.  They need to eat, too.  An interesting note: no wintering Turkey Vultures were recorded in Androp’s home town during the Christmas bird counts until the 1990’s.  More than a dozen were observed along Missouri River bluffs during Saturday’s bike ride.  The reason is unknown, but the appearance of vultures does correspond with the building of sewage ponds, and of wildlife conservation ponds, in the area.  Could dead ducks have attracted the wintering vultures?  The curious await a better explanation.

Photodocumentation of carrion being fed to a Turkey Vulture in a suburban back yard.  All birds have to eat.  Vultures were going to get this dead animal anyway.


February 12, 2017: Pancakes; Biking; Owls and Woodpeckers; Conspiracy Theories

February 12, 2017:  Pancakes; Biking; Owls and Woodpeckers; Conspiracy Theories

The culinary news involves pancakes.  The wife’s grandmother left a buttermilk pancake recipe that has been used, presumably, for more than 60 years.  Results from this formulation are always exceptional: perfect fluff, browning, and taste.  The recipe is remarkable because a full batch calls for 12 cups of flour. Most modern recipes call for 2 cups of flour.

Go big or go home on pancakes: use buttermilk; eat real butter and real maple syrup. Dab maple syrup drops onto the cooking pancakes if you want (lower left).  The pancakes on the cutting board will be frozen and fed to children later.

Hints on pancakes: (1) a person can place drips of real maple syrup in them before they are turned and successfully feed them to small children later (even after freezing), (2) use real butter on them if consuming hot; do not be timid, (3) use real maple syrup if maple flavor is desired – go big or go home.  Pancakes can be successfully cooked in a cast iron pan, but this is one case where a large, electric cooking surface may prove useful, if many people are to be served at once.  For the record: Androp Gerard does not have an electric cooking surface, and would pay hundreds of dollars to avoid owning one.  He is a minimalist.

Many were out enjoying a 70 F degree day over the week-end.

In biking and nature, the weather allowed a pleasant trail ride.  A Great Horned Owl was seen from the trail.  This species is more often heard than seen, and not that often heard.  This was a rather uncommon and exciting observation.  Two Bald Eagle nests were also spotted.  One clearly had a mature eagle on the nest.  Interestingly, these two nests are less than 3 km apart, which seems a bit close.  Finally, a Pileated Woodpecker was seen slide4in the yard.  Sightings occur less frequently than one per year, in general, so this was another exciting wildlife observation.

Androp has been considering the origin of conspiracy theories. Belief in conspiracy theories, superstitions, and religions seem to be in the same family of human behaviors. These spring, basically, from the need to explain patterns, past events, and future possibilities – all to reduce anxiety.  To the extent that conspiracy theories are different from religious beliefs, the following observations apply:

Conspiracy theorists enjoy few benefits.
  1. Conspiracy theorists are by most definitions in the minority within a society, although they may often be members of a majority religion.  This may tend to diminish the direct social benefits of belief.Few conspiracy theorists gather regularly to perform rituals: (songs, chants, responses to prompts).  These types of activities offer benefits similar to meditation, as well as enhancing social bonding.
  2. Belief in conspiracy theories does not effectively sooth anxiety, even though these beliefs spring from anxiety. Religious adherents (who are not at the same time conspiracy theorists) are generally soothed via belief.
  3. Conspiracy theorists see those in control of events as malevolent. No reward is offered for belief.  Religious believers see their god(s) as loving, and adherents are rewarded for belief.
  4. Conspiracy theorists generally lack trust in many or most institutions and their representatives. Believers in majority religions make up the institutions and their members.

The most prominent conspiracy theorist in the world today is Donald J. Trump.

Feburary 9, 2017: Jiffy Pop; Breakfast Tacos; Cortisone Shots

Feburary 8, 2017: Jiffy Pop; Breakfast Tacos; Cortisone Shots

Jiffy Pop: As much fun to make as it is to eat!

In culinary news, the grandchildren made Jiffy Pop.  Androp Gerard remembers when that was a new thing: “As much fun to make as it is to eat!”  None was ever popped at the boyhood home.  This was a first for both for the papa and the grandchildren.  For that reason, approximately a third of the kernels did not get popped.

In things you do when you are semi-awake when you should be totally asleep: in the wee hours Androp failed to properly identify which grandchild was talking, and therefore needed tending.  Since nobody was talking when he got up to check, he just went back to bed.  “That one talks in her sleep.”   Later:

Child, “Hello!  Bye bye!”

The wife gets up.  Me, “(Names a child) is talking in her sleep.”

The wife, “No. It is not that child.  There is a cat locked in the other kid’s room.”

Thump thump thump.  Meow. Upon extraction of the cat, the child apparently went back to sleep fairly quickly.  Not so much for Androp and the wife.

Breakfast tacos require modest culinary skill but require massive clean-up.

Breakfast tacos were made and consumed for brunch the next day.  These require a surprising number of bowls and prep time: eggs, bacon, refried beans, tomatoes, raw onions, cubed potatoes, salsa, cheese, plain yogurt, hot peppers, and tortillas.  Those containers plus plates added up to more than 20 dishes and two pans.  Probably more than 30 serving spoons and forks were used.  Buy stock in dishwasher makers.  When someone says breakfast tacos are simple, that means anyone can make them.  Prep time and clean-up can be somewhat daunting: they are hard in some regards.  One culinary hint: whip the eggs with a whisk and then salt them 15 minutes before they are cooked.  Add one tbs of cold butter for each 2 eggs when scrambling.  Do not over-cook: they should be a bit gooey when removed from the pan.

Trail use is amazingly high, even on cold days.  Four bike shops serve a town of only 120,000.

The weather was good enough to bike, although the wind in the face was stinging more than invigorating.  The Bald Eagles (one of them anyway) are supervising their nest site, although none was seen on the nest.  A surprising number of humans were out walking near trail heads, including many couples and families.  In Androp’s city of 120,000, four bike shops that carry four different flagship major bike maker brands occur.  A medical school and three major hospitals also occur.  So anyone who has a bike accident will likely be seen by a passing Doc.

Androp’s initial cortisone injection was given by a person who was later disqualified from cramming long needs deep into other people’s flesh.

Androp got a cortisone shot in the shoulder for adhesive capsulitis.  Recall that he had a terrifying experience the first time he got one (see December 8, 2016, journal entry).  This time, the Attend Physician (teacher who was supervising the Fellow or Resident Doc for the earlier injection) was in charge.  The procedure was fast and mostly painless.

Me, “That was fantastic, Doc.  You were supervising someone else, a Fellow or Resident Doc maybe, when I got my first injection.  That did not go so well.”

Her, “Really?”

The radiology waiting room was not very inviting.

Me, “Ya. (I provided some horrifying quotes similar to the ones I gave in the December 8 post).”

Her, “Oh I am sorry.  I usually try to be more discrete with the patient in the room.  Was it (insert description of Fellow or Resident student Doc).”

Me, “That was her.”

Her, “She never did get it.  I stopped letting her give injections.”

Me, to self, “Oh just gawdamned fine.  I was given an injection by a trainee who failed the course.   A proven failure at giving injections crammed a needle 6 inches into my body.  Possibly, her failure was in large part due to how much she screwed up on me.  There are two witnesses standing here.  Get their names.”

Hint: ask for the Attending Physician, not a Fellow or a Resident.

This dog will spook from nothing.

In nature news, coyotes were heard yipping from Androp’s cul du sac dog walking route.  The little dog was spooked.  But then, the little dog spooks from a leaf blowing across the sidewalk.  And often, she jumps due to nothing visible in the external environment (e.g. brain worms).  To anyone who has not heard coyotes: they make a lot of noise, but it is not howling, it is yipping and barking.  Probably at least two were yipping on Sunday evening.  The number is impossible to tell, since they can make a lot of noise.

Politics remain pretty much the same.  Those who think he is trying to discredit the press are incorrect: he has already successfully discredited the press.

January 30: 2017: Baking and Roasting; Birds and Bikes

January 30: 2017: Baking and Roasting; Birds and Bikes

American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were seen dining in the neighborhood flowering crabapple tree in significant numbers.

In nature news, the American Robins and Cedar Waxwings have been stuffing themselves on the tiny apples of a flowering crabapple tree in our neighborhood.  Large numbers, sometimes with these two spcies mixed, were seen this past week-end.  The apples have been on the tree for a long time, but are just now being consumed.  Are they a little fermented and therefore easier to digest?  Or are hungry birds just here in greater numbers?


The Sunday meal was filed under extreme cooking and large-meal dining.  We consumed mass quantities of herb and garlic roasted chicken, fresh cinnamon swirl bread, whipped potatoes, and baked pears with brown sugar and cinnamon. Lemon iced lemon donuts were for desert.  The youngest grandchild helped both by consuming and obtaining food through conspicuous, determined shopping.

Determined shopping resulted in food acquisition.

The only culinary hint included here: cook the chicken slow (so the white and dark meat both get done at about the same time), and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing..  In a convection oven, that might mean 2.5 hours or more in a 325 degree oven.  The skin will brown in a convection oven at that temperature, but otherwise start the foul at 500 and immediately turn the oven down so the skin will brown (of course, you need to rub the skin with oil or butter to get it to brown).  When the meat has pulled away from the end of the drumstick, and the drumstick is loose on pushing up and down, the bird is done.   Androp Gerard cannot generally stick an instant read thermometer into the thigh (the slowest part to cook).  A chicken’s thigh is surprising difficult to locate.  A thermometer is an unneeded and often misleading tool for this kind of work. slide3

Under notes for first-time adult bike riders, I would provide the following.

  1. Sheldon Brown’s web site is the best source of unbiased information, even though he passed in 2008. Google “Sheldon Brown bikes” or “Sheldon Brown (insert bike subject).”  Colleagues of his have kept the site reasonably up to date.  His writing was exceptionally clear and his knowledge of bikes was legendary.
  2. Don’t buy a bike at a big-box store. Buy one from a local bike shop (LBS).  Big box stores carry lower quality bikes.
  3. A new bike worth owning will cost about $500. In this price range, the wheel set, tire puncture resistance, and shifters will all be significantly improved over entry-level models that start around $370. Those improvements are well worth the cost.  The $370 bike is going to leave you broken down within 200 miles: a flat or a bent wheel or a shifter that will not work, etc.
  4. Beyond about $550 up to close to $1000, up-grades may relate to the frame (slightly better aluminum, why?), fork (slightly lighter or more rigid carbon forks), brakes (disc brakes are not needed), grips (those are mainly for looks), seats (a nose-less seat should be purchased and installed; seat up-grades are therefore useless), and the shifters (mainly, these go from 21 or 24 to 27 gears, and they get lighter – who cares?). Bells and whistles might also be added like carrying brackets or light sets or fenders.  For some riders, these might be worth the cost.  Not, generally, for first-time buyers.
  5. Each bike maker now has a confusing array of bikes called by different names. The concepts associated with names (e.g. “urban” or “recreation” or “dual sport”) among bike markers don’t entirely overlap in meaning.  The LBS will help.  A few styles far out-sell other types, for good reason.

    Modern bikes come in a confusing array of styles.  The Local Bike Shop can generally help.
  6. Don’t go into the LBS with strong biases. Let them steer you after you let them know how and where you will be riding. Listen.
  7. A few well-earned biases of Androp Gerard:
    1. Bike shorts and gloves improve riding comfort a great deal.
    2. Wear a helmet. Yes, Androp Gerard has fallen on a bike path twice in approximately the past 3000 miles.  Once, his helmet hit hard.
    3. Bike shoes also improve comfort a good deal, especially on longer rides. They are recommended but not essential at first.
    4. Old-fashioned nylon toe clips keep feet from slipping off the pedals when things get damp. This is an important safety feature, but not essential.
    5. Front fork and seat suspension components improve the ride maybe a tad, but they also add weight. Most bike path riders decide they do not want or need the suspension.
    6. An upright riding position appears easier and more comfortable that a ‘leaned forward’ position, but the opposite can just as easily be true.  A rider that is too upright will have a butt that is hurting: all the weight is on the cheeks and none on the arms, shoulders, and wrists.  Pedaling can also be significantly more difficult if the riding position is too upright.  That might not matter for 10 minute rides, but it will for 30 minute rides.
  8. If you like to buy used cars, go ahead and get a used bike. At the LBS, to me, they seem too pricey – at least half but approaching two-thirds the cost of the bike when it was new.  If you are buying a used bike, similar to a used car, take along someone with at least a little bit of experience.
  9. Many LBS’s have at least a couple of styles of bikes for rent. This allows you to try out the style you think you want.  Hint: the styles they rent are the ones that sell, and probably you want one of those styles.

Politics are just too absurd to comment on.  What country on earth would want to emulate American Ideals at this point?


January 26: Ready to Eat Again: The Strike is Over

January 26: Ready to Eat Again: The Strike is Over

Androp Gerard is ending his hunger/non-blogging strike that began in protest to the election of he who must not be named.  To blog followers: sorry for not announcing the beginning of the strike.  But this is the end of it.  Resistance will continue.  Life goes on.

The child does not care who is POTUS.  She wants more chocolate though.

The older child went on a cruise and the wife and Androp had three grandchildren and two extra dogs for 10 days.  The grandchildren were delightful.  The dogs were as much fun as a visit to the dentist.  (Androp despises dentists).

Here’s an interesting note: these grandchildren are all younger than 7.  Yet, they understood that they were to stay with us for an extended period.  Consequently, their behavior around the house as longer-term guests was immediately strikingly different versus their behavior during frequent visits.  Even young humans can be remarkably smart and perceptive.  Startling.slide2

Recall that the goat sacrifice worked, and days continue to lengthen.  In anticipation of warmer weather, serious research on youth bikes has ensued.  The two older grandchildren need bike up-grades: both learned to ride last fall.  They need lighter, youth-specific bikes:

Adult Weight (me):                     215 lbs

My Bike:                                   28 lbs

Percentage                               13.0%


Kid Weight (7 YO)                           55 lbs

Kid Bike (mainstream maker)      28 lbs

Percentage                                           50.9%


Woom and Islabikes are the two youth-specific bike makers that seem best based on review of web sites.  Spawn has mainly boys bikes.  Cleary will not publish the weight of their bikes.  Trek may have one model worth looking at, but Jamis, Specialized, Giant, Diamondback, Schwinn, and Kona have no reasonable youth bikes.slide3

In nature news, four white-tailed deer were attracted to a pile of corn the neighbors put out during a cold spell.  During a snap of colder weather, bird activity at the feeders and bird bath increased.  Eastern Bluebirds are seldom seen unless all water in the area is frozen, save what is in our bird hot tub.  The most abundant species this year has been Goldfinches; White-throated Sparrows seem down from last year.  A presumed nesting pair of Barred Owls have been heard hooting back and forth on several occasions these past 10 days.slide1

Finally, in politics: this blog will attempt to address this subject only on the rare occasion in the future.  Androp Gerard needs to practice better coping mechanisms to maintain personal resilience.  Avoidance of news is one strategy.  The most striking recent revelation seems to be increasing paranoia in he who must not be named.

“You’d be paranoid too, if everyone was out to get you.”  –  Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

Frank Burns: POTUS


January 3, 2017: Sickness, Hallucinations, Stand Mixers, Cats, Bike Rides, Northern Cardinals

January 3, 2017: Sickness, Hallucinations, Stand Mixers, Cats, Bike Rides, Northern Cardinals

Sleep disruptions from sickness can cause hallucinations.

Androp Gerard contracted a virus that caused a limited-time burst of gastrointestinal symptoms between Christmas and New Year’s.  Many members of the immediate family also had the illness, which probably was Norovirus.  Since about 2009, children have been vaccinated against Rotavirus, and all three (vaccinated) grandchildren were sick.

Interesting, spatially-dissociative hallucinations were one symptom of the illness.  These happened just as Androp was falling asleep (on the couch).  They were incongruously pleasant.  They involved a feeling of being suspended beneath large, heavy objects which were floating above.  Thoughts ran along the lines, “That is weird.  I am obviously dreaming.”  Possibly, this is how some drugs impact some people.  Being a redhead, drugs really do not impact Androp very much.  Possibly more details later.

slide4Androp got a book on the science of food, a wine glass labeled ‘Pa Pa’s Sippy Cup,’ a new stand mixer, and bike shorts for Christmas, among other things.  A book review will follow later.  Recall that the old stand mixer was wounded when the wife and daughter used it for making a volume of cream cheese frosting normally prepared only in commercial kitchens.

Me, looking at the new mixer as I unwrapped it, somewhat dazed, “So.  The motor really was burned out on the old one, then.”

Her, “Well, no.  It is fine.  But the beaters keep coming out of their little holes.”

Me, “Oh. Right. **pause** Of course.  That is annoying.”  Confession: the beaters had never come loose on me.

Two birthdays were celebrated. Prune cake with brown sugar frosting was consumed in high volumes after some initial skepticism.

Birthdays for one child and one grandchild occurred between Christmas and New Year’s.  Grandma’s prune cake with brown sugar candy frosting was requested.  The cake recipe was executed via use of the new stand mixer.  Prune cake was viewed with skepticism by uninitiated neophytes among the dinner guests.  Squeamishness was overcome by flavor, and a large volume was consumed during the first sitting.

The New Year’s Day bike ride was cold.  Cats do not believe in regular exercise.

The weather allowed for a traditional New Year’s Day bike ride, this year with new bike shorts (worn basically over pantyhose, but for men these are called “base layers”).  Some cold-ish exercise resulted.  In contrast, cats for whom a ‘jungle gym’ was purchased just lounged.  Felines do not believe in exercise, so in that regard they are like Donald Trump.

Finally, in signs of spring, one Northern Cardinal was heard and observed singing a territorial song for the first time since last summer.  Recall that the sacrifice of the unblemished goat worked to ensure days are getting long.  Maybe the Cardinals have noticed.

Under New Year’s resolutions: Androp Gerard notes that change is constant, and will come at different rates across time.  No need to make sweeping, dramatic decrees on any given date.

A Northern Cardinal was heard signing an on-territory song for the first time since last summer.