Snow biking

Snow bike by Dave Kleinschmidt

Last night I went snow-biking. I finally got my hands on the requisite tools to crack open the bottom bracket on my fixie and get it cleaned out, repacked, and beautifully adjusted. I was anxious to take it out for a spin, and was feeling undeterred by the late hour and the two feet of snow on the roads. Hard-packed snow—courtesy of the lack of plowing and stubborn DC drivers—is actually pretty good riding—not too slippery, no slushy sliding around, not too rough when it’s fresh—and riding a fixie in the snow is quite nice, since you can feel exactly how much traction you have at any given moment, and adjust your speed intuitively.

I cruised down Georgia Ave/7th St NW, soaking up the snowed-in-Saturday-night Chinatown scene, and then rolled down to the mall to gawk at the empty streets, snowy trees, and impressive obelisks. By the time I made it to the Lincoln Memorial I was pretty cold and my mittens had actually frozen, being still wet from the afternoon’s shoveling extravaganza. On the way home I got stuck behind a convoy of snow plows (one usually does the trick, guys), got stuck in too-much-snow on Vermont Ave, and got stuck behind homeward bound revelers on U St. All in all, an absolutely fantastic night.

Biking today was slightly less pleasant but still awesome. A little bit of sun, a little bit of traffic, and a lot of salt produced a bumpy, slushy, slippery mess on Georgia Ave, but I was out of coffee and determined to make it to Qualia. A couple of cops in an SUV asked me if I had snow tires “on that thing” after seeing me plowing through a pile of slushy snow. Had I been thinking a little more quickly I might have made a crack about only having one-wheel-drive, which I guess is all you really need.

(Link: photo from flickr)

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Washington, Washington

Washington, washington by Dave Kleinschmidt

This isn’t about Washington, per se. What it is is a non-exhaustive list of things that I love that I’ve discovered or re-discovered (etc.) since moving here. Consider it a sort of belated New Year’s retrospective/thank-you.

  • Learning. In particular, language, sounds, and computers. Also, brains.
  • Bikes, especially my fixie, now that I am finally strong enough to ride it.
  • Biking. Note that loving biking is actually different from loving your bike, although they are of course related. Being able to hop on my bike and get to work, or get coffee, or go to the store, or go anywhere, really, is quite exciting.
  • Public transit. Because, let’s face it, sometimes the weather is shitty, and sometimes there is awesome people-watching to be done on the 90/92.
  • Ruth.
  • A good, sharp knife.
  • Beer, wine, coffee, food.
  • Having more than one place to go for all of the above.
  • Having people to do all of these things with.
  • Live music.
  • A medium-sized city. At least this one, anyway. Especially when they have both Civil War-era row-houses and all of the, you know, things that come with being the national capitol.

That is to say, I’m having a great time in DC, and this whole “being a Real Person” thing has worked out a lot better and a lot more easily than I could have hoped.

(Link: photo from flickr)

Blue Bike and Rain

A couple of firsts today: the first real, rainy test of my fenders reveals that they do indeed keep the water off of you, as advertised.  They do not, however, appear to magically ward off flats, resulting in my first flat as a Bicycle Commuter.  The aforementioned tire event occurred in the middle of the fucking woods, but at least now I live in a place with public transportation, unlike that time in Indiana with the big rusty nail.

Things worked out okay in the end.  I made home in no time, thanks to the apathy of the West Hyattsville Metro station employees who, mercifully, didn’t say anything as I slunk through the turnstiles a full hour into the evening rush hour bike-free block.  City Bikes, where I went to get a tube and fix my flat (having forgotten my pump at home), was playing an all-The Mountain Goats playlist, and to my immense delight I discovered that there is a Safeway right across the street.

There I purchased the makings of mac ‘n cheese, which I am now eating (yes,right now) accompanied by delicious, delicious Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, which cost fully four dollars less than I anticipated at D’vines. So, all in all, not a bad end to the day.

I think that now, dear reader, you may have some idea of how thoroughly domestic my life has become. I apologize for once again dropping off the face of the blogo-earth, but I suspect that there is a limit to how many times one can be entertained by descriptions of someone else’s bikes, food, and beer du jour. Alas for you, these (along with Important People In My Life and some Big Things that I’m not quite ready to blather on about in so public a forum) are the things that occupy me lately, so that’s what you’re going to get, at least until I man up and talk about science or grad school or stuff.

Oh, one more thing: GHOSTFACE BUDDHA IS ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY READING.

(Link to photo, by The Gelman Library on flickr)

From this morning’s Post, a delightfully breathless story about how cold it was this weekend:

Many Washingtonians exulted in a sunny Saturday, but their delight came on a day that could also be described as the coldest since March.

But about eight hours earlier, the mercury had dipped to 35 degrees. It had not fallen so low since March 25, when it was 34. The 35-degree reading was seven degrees below normal and eight degrees above the record for the date, 27 degrees, which was set in 1930.

While I do enjoy a good chilly New England fall day as much as anyone, I also enjoy that reasonably temperate (aka bikeable) weather like this lasts until the middle of November, and I’m especially stoked for spring, which from what I’ve heard is actually a Real Season here, not some godforsaken mud/snow/rain event that happens sometime between April and June.

There are more concrete benefits, too.  The combination of temperate weather and our row house apartment which has all of two dozen feet of walls exposed to the outside air also means that we haven’t had the heat or AC on for a couple of months and are basically paying nothing in utilities.  Win all around.

The downside, of course, of the mercury never dipping below freezing for fully half of the year, is that there will be very little real, snowy winter weather. You can’t have everything weather-wise, I suppose, so I’ll just have to wait until the holidays to get a dose of Maine winter.

Dal

This is mostly for my darling sister, but these are so delicious that everyone should try them.  The recipe is from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, which is full of delicious, delicious Delhi-area food that can be made with stuff readily available in the supermarket (for the most part).  My favorite part of the book is the section on Dals, where there are a million variations on spiced legumes.  The basic pattern is always the same though, and the recipes fall into three parts: cook the dal with some seasonings until its tender, then add the delicate stuff, and finally “give a tarka” of whole spices (or onions or ginger or anything, really) toasted briefly in hot oil.

This recipe (for brown lentils like you buy at the supermarket) has you first cook the lentils with cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, then add lemon for a little bit, and finally add the tarka of whole cumin seeds. See the full recipe after the jump.

This dispatch comes to you in the midst of the ceremonial first procrastination of the new academic year, since I am responsible for presenting a paper at tomorrow morning’s lab meeting and have put off making slides for about as long as possible. Even though the slides aren’t done yet, I did bake some de-abso-fucking-lutely-licious sweet and savory cookies (thanks, Mark Bittman!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine 2 c flour, 1 t baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1 t minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 t dried), and 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper in a bowl.
  3. Cream 1/2 c sugar together with one stick of softened butter with a fork, and beat until nice and fluffy.
  4. Add half the dry ingredients to the sugar and butter mixture, and beat for about a minute.
  5. Add 1/4 c red wine, and beat for about 10 seconds (just long enough to combine).
  6. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, and stir, only as much as necessary to make a soft dough that holds together reasonably well (you may need to add a bit more wine to get it wet enough).
  7. Bake for 10-ish minutes, until just starting to brown. Let ’em cool for about 2 minutes on the sheet, and then move them to a cooling rack and dust with confectioners sugar.

Let me tell you: these things are delicious. They are, as advertised, both sweet and savory, and now I’m not even upset that there is no chocolate in my apartment and it is way too late to go to the store.

Me and my blinky

BlinkyYesterday I bought a PlanetBike rear blinky-light. I bought it on a whim—a sort of “huh the sun sure is setting early” whim—and didn’t really do any research beforehand, so I don’t have much of a basis for comparing this particular blinky with other assuredly excellent blinkies.

But. This thing is really friggin bright, and I completely love it. More on the blinky, and Bikestation DC…

Fojol Bros. of Merlindia

As recently alluded to, I recently moved from my Little Ancestral Village in the Provinces to The Big City.

Short version: It has taken some getting used to, but maybe not quite as much as I expected, and I am really loving it. (Long version after the break)

Hanging out by the pool by Dave 'Coconuts' Kleinschmidt

Not exactly breaking news, but I finished my bike. It’s now immortalized in the Great Shrine of the Fixed-Gear Bicycle, FGG (number 10,280).  This thing makes getting around the city much, much more fun.

(Link: photo from flickr)

qualiacoffee

Qualia Coffee in Petworth. Qualia. Coffee. It all depends on whether or not their coffee is good enough to justify the trek, I guess. But they are a micro-roastery (yes I know that’s not a real word), so that’s encouraging, as is the excerpt from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Qualia on their website.

(Found via their ad on Prince of Petworth)

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