Upgrading Campy Synchro II to Ergopower

In 1990, I spent a year or so putting together what my wife would later refer to as my Italian mistress – a roadbike based on a Pinarello SL frame that I fell in love with and mostly Campagnolo C Record parts. (The exceptions were the brakes, which were Chorus, because I didn’t like the Delta brakes, and the seatpost, which was Super Record, because I liked the look better than the C Record post.) The drivetrain was a Regina chain and 7-speed, 12-24 freewheel (not a cassette).

pinarello roadbike

Miss Pinarello, my Italian mistress

Continue Reading »

In which I buy (North) American again

I finally bought another American car. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that what I’ve driven over the past several years has been dictated more by circumstances than by choice.

Red 2012 Dodge Challenger

My Challenger

My first car was American—a 1973 Ford Pinto Squire wagon, complete with fake wood side paneling, in a color Harrison Ford’s character from American Graffiti described as “a cross between piss yellow and barf green.” Continue Reading »

Sony TC 530 Motor Cap Replacement

One problem I had with my TC 530 was that after about 10 minutes of running, the motor would slow down. A quick search of Google indicated that the likely culprit was the motor run capacitor. And another quick search of eBay yielded seller “tableterner”, who was selling a replacement. Hurray! I ordered said capacitor on the spot, and three days later, it arrived on my doorstep.

Continue Reading »

Analog Audio

A few years ago, a friend gave me a reel-to-reel (RTR) tape deck, a Sony TC 530. I don’t quite remember the circumstances, but I do recall liking the design; it was a heavy beast, around 40lbs., and had two speakers built in to the cabinet as well as two detachable, outboard speakers that could be positioned remotely. It was only a dual head design, but seemed capable enough.

Sony TC 530 closed up

Closed TC 530, external speakers showing

Continue Reading »

Meet Mathilda

Let me start by saying that I am not usually the sort to name objects. In our household, only my wife’s beloved BMW Z3, “Zippy”, has a name. However, sometimes you have to make exceptions.

It all started when I inherited my Grandmother’s 5-quart Kitchenaid mixer. It was pretty and new(ish), and I looked at my old, beater Kitchenaid and decided it was time for a kitchen facelift. There was nothing really wrong with the old one, other than I had tried to give it a hot rod paint job once, and it was pretty badly chipped by now. It was one of the old ones, made by Hobart, and built like a tank. Surely the new ones were even better! Out the old one went to the great giveaway pile in the sky.

Continue Reading »

When is a flying lesson not a flying lesson?

I decided a few weeks ago that it was time to try another flying lesson. My instructor, Rich, had given me a syllabus during our first lesson, but my first two lessons were really “see if I can even handle being in a plane” sessions. Rich had said that for our next session, we’d cover pre-flighting the aircraft in-depth. So after a six-month hiatus, I sent Rich an email and asked if he was ready to give me the pre-flight lesson. He was!

Continue Reading »

A 5×7 film back

A few months ago, I got the bug to try large format photography again. Don’t ask why—just see the title of this blog. I had played around with 4×5 for quite a while in college and beyond, but ended up selling all my equipment. Big mistake! It just leads to buying more later. Anyway, for whatever reason, it struck me that 5×7 would be a fun format to try. Perhaps it was the lack of availability of film and accessories, the near extinction of film as a popular medium, or just being ornery about everybody doing digital now.

Continue Reading »

Marionette Project

This month, my daughters and I tackled making a marionette. This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. Of course, there’s a bit of back-story.

Early in December, I took our girls to the San Jose Dance Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts (CPA). Both girls had seen a few highlights at school, and despite not really being dance enthusiasts, decided they really wanted to see the whole thing. It happened that the Girl Scouts had arranged a special backstage tour and workshop, so they donned their Scout vests and we had a field trip.

The girls loved the backstage tour, and then we went down to the CPA’s basement for the Girl Scout workshop. We didn’t really know what to expect. What they had were a bunch of activities related to theater and The Nutcracker. There were costumes to look at and try on, a finger puppet building activity, and a display table full of marionettes.

Now, I grew up with a couple of marionettes in the house. Dad had a Talent Products marionette named (I am not making this up) Jambo the Jiver. Dad was pretty good at making him walk, dance, and generally be entertaining. He says my grandpa had an even bigger marionette, and was very good with it. (I had a smaller clown marionette, long since gone.) I thought they were great toys.

Jambo the Jiver Continue Reading »

Second flight!

Today I had my second flying lesson! I wanted to have at least one more, because the first one was such a new and overwhelming experience (given my nerves about flying, etc.). I thought that in order to do justice to the experience, I owed it to myself to find out what it was like when I wasn’t worried about what was coming next.

Continue Reading »

First flight!

For about 40 years now, I’ve wanted to fly a plane. I grew up directly under the flight path of Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, and loved to watch the P-3 Orions, F-104 Starfighters, U-2 “atmospheric research” planes, and still more Orions. An avid airplane buff, I’ve always liked hanging out near a runway watching the planes take off and land. I’ve read every book I could get my hands on on the subject, and “flown” every version of Flight Simulator since Bruce Artwick wrote it for the Apple II and TRS-80.

About the only thing I haven’t done is been in the pilot seat. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m afraid of flying. Talk about irony! I had a few bad experiences in airliners, but I really don’t like turbulence and the sense of not having control over my destiny. I always wondered if being the one doing the flying would help, but I haven’t ever gotten brave enough to find out. Last week, I decided that had to change, and today, I took my first flying lesson.

Continue Reading »