Sunday, August 06, 2006

D and I the morning of our engagement. This picture was taken on top of Caddillac Mtn. in Acadia National Park, ME at ~5am.  Posted by Picasa
Long time since last post! Lot's to talk about...

First of all, I am happy to Announce that D and I are officially engaged! The picture shown above was taken July 5th, 2006 at ~5am on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, ME.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a wonderful week-long vacation in Acadia, and it was topped off with a wonderful engagement. D was totally in the dark about the whole thing, she hadn't seen the ring, nor did she suspect anything until the last possible second! (She thought I was tying my shoe when I got down on one knee!).

Right now we are in the midst of wedding planning, which is a pretty big project in its own right! It's an exciting time, and I look forward to a long and happy marriage!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Finally, a glamour shot of D's new rig. It awaits it's destiny in the mud! Posted by Picasa

D's new rig next to my steed. Note the nice disk brakes, and the sweeet paintjob!  Posted by Picasa

Another photo showing the reinforcing structure of the main beam. Posted by Picasa

The overall structure of the 'Bike Garage' can be seen here. It is a pretty nice area to work in, with a decent amount of room. The large hook is barely visible closest to the lamp on the left. Posted by Picasa
Long Time since last post Dr. Jones...

Recent Project: Garage bike shop.

The pictures that follow show what I was up to this weekend... This is a bike rack/workstand that I built in the garage of our apartment. The garage itself appears to be made of something resembling stale french bread, and any attempt to screw anything into it results in a lot of dust and no secure attachment. In order to make this stand, I started with the only solid elements in the entire garage: the two steel support columns. I decided to try and 'pinch' these with two 2"X6"X8' planks, and then build from there. I cantilevered another plank off of these initial two to create the workstand part of the rack. This plank supports a large hook, from which I can hang the bike that needs work. In the end this whole project worked out much better than I expected, and the whole structure is solid and easy to work from. I happily spent the afternoon rebuilding the front portion of the drivetrain of my bike (as it had a suspension pivot that kept coming loose) hopefully in time for some sunny weather early this week!

Also pictured is D's new bike, which she got for her birthday. She has been very happy with it so far, but I think we'll need to find a different seatpost for it soon, as the fit is not yet perfect. I am slowly aclimating her to her new bike with short rides on the bike path, but I think it will be some time before we are out on the trails together.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Vacation: Day 2

After waking up in our Xterra we decided that we had to make getting coffee a priority. No one else seemed to be awake, and we thought it'd be safe to run to town and get some coffee... Well, on the way to town we passed several folks who were obviously on their way into the park to camp. After hearing the park ranger at the gate say "Oh, you might want to hurry back, this is our busiest weekend of the year" we pushed on to the coffee shop. When we found it closed we decided to turn around and run back to the campground to secure a campsite!

We hunted around, and started asking folks when they were leaving (in as-nice a way as we could). Eventually we found a great campsite, and headed back into town for coffee and groceries. We ended up finding a great breakfast place called the 'Country Kitchen' and getting some bacon and eggs!

After breakfast and some grocery getting, we made our way back to the campsite to try and head out for some climbing at Real Hidden Valley. When we setup camp in the morning the skies were clear, but the skies clouded up as we arrived in R.H.V., but we thought we'd have enough time to climb.

We first tried Sail Away, but it was busy, so we made our way to the base of the 'Thin Wall'. Right as we were about to start climbing (harnesses and all) when the skies opened up. We packed up quickly and started to walk very quickly back to the car (luckily a short walk!) as the wind and rain picked up. It was already a bit chilly, so the rain made it downright cold! I also remembered that the tent was open so we made it back to camp double-time to close everytihing up and dry the tent.

After all the drama of getting a campsite, a poor night of sleep, shopping, breakfast, and a busy bunch of stuff to get out to the climb, we were exausted. With the weather turning nasty, we decided the best plan was beers and a nap in the tent... We crashed out quickly and slept for a few hours as the rain poured down outside.

After our wonderful little nap, we awoke to a beautiful dynamic sky and a stiff breeze. We drove around a bit and saw the most beautiful, sunset (see picture of Darcy below on the road below, and the vertical picture too).

Finally after this long day of errands and running around we tried to have a campfire, which turned into a blowtorch as the winds picked up! After the sun when down it felt like a tornado moved in! I think we had wind gusts up to 50mph all over the park that night, AND it was COLD! We didn't sleep too well as the wind kept rippin on by and waking us up!

Anyway, overall a productive, if borind day...


We have just arrived home after a nice 10-day vacation out West, and I thought I would share how things went:

April 13th: Travel Day

We left Boston at 11:am after a fairly relaxing limo trip to the airport. I have discovered that a limo-rental service (those using towncars, not actual 'limos') is the best thing for air travel since sliced bread! Cheaper than parking (by half!), easy and cleaner than a taxi, and a much better ride! So anyway, traveled from Boston to Minniapolis (SP?) for a 3 hour layover. We found a great mexican place in the Airport called _Tequileria_ that served excellent Marnegritas and pretty darn good mexican fair (for an airport!). After eating we wandered the airport for a few hours and then caught our flight to LA.

Upon arriving in LA after a LONG flight (crying baby's need their own plane!) we made our way to the Hertz bus, which brought us to our rental car, a Nissan XTerra. It was the new Xterra, which is bigger in every way than the old Xterra (the chassis is based on the full-size Titan pickup truck). We made it to the truck and headed towards our first stop, the new REI in Santa Monica, CA.

Turns out I should have kept reading about the Grand Opening, because it isn't scheduled to happen until May 5th! We found the construction site that WILL be REI, but no store... so we turned around and got back on Rt. 10 and headed east towards Joshua Tree. The drive from LA to J-tree takes about 2 hours, and it was already late when we made our unfortunate REI discovery, so we tried to make good time to J-tree.

Driving in LA is an interesting proposition, especially in a truck that drives like its always on sand. No sudden movements or it will heave and sway all over the place! Anyway, after a LONG ride to J-tree, we rolled into the park, only to find a "campgrounds full" sign on the entrance! Well, I wasn't going to be turned away after all this traveling, so we drove into the park, and went directly to my most reliable campground, Ryan Campground. We didn't find any sites, but we did find a place to park the truck. After all our traveling, I was too tired to try and do anything else but sleep, so we set up our sleeping bags in the back and went right to sleep.

We dreamt of good climbs and of large women.


On our final day in Joshua Tree I led this climb called Sail Away (5.8-) which was a LOT of fun, but harder than I remembered. I had a hard time finding a stance to place gear near the top, but otherwise it was a great climb. Here is D lowering after she seconded this climb (despite being very cold). Posted by Picasa

Here is D, chilling (literally), near Skull Rock after sunset. The sky was SO dynamic, and the wind was howling pretty hard. It was cold, but we managed to do a few hikes that day. Posted by Picasa

An image from the top of the Joshua Tree mesa in Joshua Tree, CA. This was just after sunset near Jumbo Rocks campground. Posted by Picasa

A picture from our Ryan Campground in Joshua Tree, CA. This was after a very windy day, and the clouds had wrapped themselves into an elaborate ribbon which refracted the sunlight into a beautiful rainbow. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sick Day... March 27th, 2006

Despite my religous consumption of multivitamins, and my determined hand sanitization routine, I have contracted someones creeping crud... I'm not sure who, but I think it was from Mike B at work, who's entire family was stricken with this illness. It is characterized by a wicked sore throat, a mild headache, general upper-respiratory funk, and a mild fever. I think I am fighting it off well, and I imagine I will be back at work tomorrow... hopefully.

As for today, I get to spend a day with my wonderful girlfriend who is very kind, and is currently making me some breakfast. I imagine it will be two eggs, toast with some alfredo sauce (from last nights dinner, and homemade BTW!) on the egss. VERY tasty. Yeah, she's awesome.

I spent yesterday holed up in the house as well, and I am determined NOT to spend today in front of the TV (though the computer seems fine, huh, go figure). I thought I would update my blog since it's been a while.

Let's see, I have a few projects I am currently working on:

-Mudflaps for the MINI.
--I have been trying for a few weeks to make my own mud flaps to protect the doors of the MINI from flying debris off the tires. It's quite challenging, since the mudflaps have work work, AND look good (something I have never been good at).

-Autonomous Helicopter ME Support
--I am helping a friend who is building an Autonomous Helicopter. It's in the early stages right now, so there's not much to report.

-Reviving the Big Hovercraft Project.
--I have been planning this for a while, and I think it will happen this summer... The goal here is a hovercraft big enough to carry 50lbs effectively. This will be a big challenge, not because it's hard to LIFT 50lbs, it's because it's hard to control that much momentum. Creating an impulse large enough to move 50lbs is quite challenging... stay tuned.

Some trips I am planning:
-Joshua Tree, CA / Red Rocks, NV
--Climbing Trip with D.

-Acadia National Park, ME
--Our annual 4th of July climbing trip.

-Salt Lake City, UT
--A mountainbiking trip to my favorite mountainbiking mecca in Utah. I plan on revisiting the best mountainbike trail IN THE WORLD... the Virgin River Rim Trail in Cedar Breaks, UT.
<> Probably late fall of '06

So anyway, that's what's keeping me busy these days... Lots and lots of little projects...

Anyway, I am feeling less-good, so that's all for this entry.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Another view from the side... Posted by Picasa

A good picture of my new wheels and tires after detailing my car for six hours! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The drama of new wheels... So I have been saving up for a new set of wheels and tires for the MINI for about a year now. I searched high and low for just the right set of rims.. I looked at hundreds of photos, perhaps thousands, and I finally found what I was looking for in the Team Dynmics Pro Race 1's. My goal for the MINI is to bring it closer in style to the original Mini and to bring a little bit of Rally Car style to it.

Now, fast-forward almost a year later, and I finally have the cash together to buy my rims and tires. I found a dealer for these rims at and placed my order. My tires came from and those were easy to get. I knew the size I wanted, and I knew I was on a budget, so that pretty much eliminated many of the candidate tires. I was happy to find the BFGoodrich G-Force sports for a mere $79.00/each... the alternatives were closer to $150.00 each!

The tires arrived quickly (the tire rack rocks) and even I was surprised as to how wide they were. By the numbers, these tires are only 20mm wider than my current summer-sport tires, but the look MUCH wider. I was excitied though, as they looked good, and the look like what I wanted.

So, days pass, and my wheels haven't arrived yet, and I am getting paranoid... I kept bugging Aaron from about this, and he was patient with my emails. Right on time (actually a day late!) the wheels arrived... and I giddy with excitement. I rushed home from work, and tore into the packing boxes to look at them. They looked sweet until got to the last box... it looked like I got the bottom of a stack that was packed in a warehouse. This box was pretty much destroyed and was wet on the bottom. Luckily the wheel was only slightly scratched, and it was on the back side of the rim. I was pissed, but I wasn't about to try and send them back for a couple scuffs..

In my giddy state, I failed to read the boxes that had arrived, and, unbeknownst to me I had different wheels that what I thought I had ordered. The picture above illustrates a automototive wheel characteristic known as 'offset'. It descibes the difference between the centerline of the wheel, and the plane of attachement. The wheels I had in hand had to aggresive and offset (30mm instead of 45mm, which is what I thought I ordered) and so they would stick out further from the center of the car.

BUT... I didn't know this at the time. So, I ran as fast as I could to Sullivan Tire to have my new tires mounted on my new rims. Had I noticed the difference in offset, I might have sent the wheels back, but, I didn't... and once you have tires mounted on ANY set of rims, they are yours. No chance for return.

But I was happy, and so I ran home with my new wheels and tires, and installed them right away on my MINI. The pictures are shown below after I spent another 6 hours cleaning and detailing my car to try and clean off some of the winter grime.

So that is my story, and now I have the rims that I wanted (sort of) and the look really is quite dramatic. My car looks awesome, and it certainly doesn't look like anyone else's MINI!


This is a closeup of my new rims... they are Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2's in 15"X7". They weigh 13.2lbs each and are pretty bitchin'... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"I'm ahn a mission from Gahd!"
-Elwood Blues

So yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from my mother:

"Yo ma! What's up" I said
"Hey Mr. Roboto, you're brother is in the city at a job interview right now, and he has a flat tire." she said
"Does he have AAA?"
"He DID... but it lapsed."
"So can you go help him out?"
"Sure. I can be there by 4."
"Thanks Mr. Roboto, I love you."
"Love you too."

And so the mission begins... it's 20 degress outside, VERY windy, and I have to go change a spare tire for my brother, or at least sort something out for him.... hmmmm. What to do.

As I saw it, these were the options:

-Call a tow truck for him, and let him deal with it from there.
--He is short on cash so this may not be the best idea...

-Go to where he is, and use MY AAA membership to get him towed somewhere.
--I really don't want to spend all night dealing with this, and getting towed always takes hours.

-Go there and fix the damn tire myself...
--It's cold. Ah hell, its always cold, so I'll just do it.

Now, I work about 30 minutes away from where my brother is (even with all the shortcuts I know) and I am still at work without the tools from my house. So, here begins the race at rush hour on a Friday afternoon! Yay! I run back to my house, unload my AWESOME new race tires that were delivered to work (more on those later). I grab my hydraulic lift, and my work gloves, and a couple flashlights (just in case), my 12V compressor, and some extra gloves (cause my brother surely doesn't have any!).

So I hit the road, and scream downtown to where my brother is, all the while fearing that he is parked on some insanely busy street where we will be in constant danger of getting run over. Once I arrive to the street where he is parked, I realize it's almost an ideal location. Very little traffic (despite it being rush hour), and the flat tire is on the curb side, and my brother has done a remarkably good job of getting out the Touareg's emergeny supplies...

Now I am going to take a moment here to revel in this little moment in time. My brother drives what could be the most capable off-road vehicle in our VERY LARGE extended family. It has four wheel drive with a rear locking differential. It has pneumatic suspension capable of lifting and lowering the ride height by more than 8 inches and 240hp V6!

I.. drive a MINI Cooper S.... it has none of these things. And here I am... putting the proverbial Flinesones Bandaid on this Goliath of a car. I find the irony of this VERY entertaining.

Now I should add that IF my brother was out in the middle of nowhere, I have full confidence that he would be able to do this, but it would probably take him 4 hours.

So, back to the Mission: Once I get there, dave already has the space saver spare out of the car, ready to go (though not yet inflated), he has the Touareg's built in compressor out and hooked up to the battery terminals under the hood (as a side note, the Touaregs battery is under the driver's seat, so only electrical access is a couple of terminals under the hood, near the drivers side windshield wiper.

We bust out my $50 Costco hydraulic floor jack, and it 1 minute we have the Touareg up of the pavement (Best money I EVER spent BTW ). Once it's off the ground, my brother get's the tire off in no time (there was a wheel lock that had him baffled, but we found the key eventually). The tire came off pretty easily (with a few swift kicks to break it free) and then we had to inflate the space saver spare... which was interesting to say the least.

IF you have never inflated one of these tires, let me say, it looks ALL WRONG until the last second, when it kind of springs into the right shape. It looks pretty terrifying until that point though.

Anyway, back on the Ranch, er, street, we have the old tire off (and it shows signs of a clean nail/screw punch). We slap on the newly inflated spare, crank down the lug nuts, and drop the Touareg. It looks good.

So, we pack up the remaining tools and prepare ourselves to battle rush hour traffic back out of the city. It actually isn't that bad, the Big Dig seems to be living up to some of its promise...

Mission Complete.