Archive for January, 2014

The Midwinter Brochymena

January 21, 2014

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

What do I see today, perched on the bedroom window screen, basking in the greenhouse effect of a south exposure, but a brochymena! My favorite insect!


We see one now and again in the fall, but never before this late. I guess they don’t mind cold, down to and below freezing.


I removed the screen to get a couple of photos.


And then nudged it off into the great outdoors. It didn’t really want to go; I had to encourage it with a fingertip.


Even though you’re really a great little guy, I don’t think I want you as an indoor house guest. May you live long and prosper!

The California desert

January 5, 2014

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hoping to keep the knee happy, I hiked the outer periphery of trails at Arastradero. Sounds impressive, but Arastradero is a small preserve, and its trail circumference is only 5.7 miles, 700 vertical feet.


It is surely unprecedented to see sprinklers running in January, and not for some lush lawn of Kentucky bluegrass, but for the hardy drought-resistant California natives. The absence of rain this year is a real concern.

And the outback isn’t very interesting, either, dry and sleepy, holding its breath for rejuvenation.

Sunday, 5 January

Knee seems okay, so I tried a moderate bike ride, 36 miles, 1200 feet of climb. Lots of people out doing it, another nice day.

But I also went up to inspect the roof, just in case it might rain again someday. Went for some roof patch compound where there are some things I don’t like around the solar hot water panels, and caulked them.

Two flat tyres! in one day!

January 3, 2014

I have been mostly working from home for a while now, but it’s good to go into the office once in a while, especially on bagels day, and it’s an unimpeachable excuse to spend a couple hours on the bike.

But when I went out to the garage this morning, I discovered a flat tire. Finally, the first flat on the new bike that I gave myself as a birthday present, October 2012. That may or may not say anything about the durability of tires, the condition of the roads or my skill in avoiding debris; it is certainly related to the fact that I spend a lot more time hiking nowadays than in times past.

Never a whole lot of fun, a flat at home is about as good as it gets, with a warm, well-lighted environment to perform the repair. Even a bathroom sink, if I need to immerse the tube to find the leak, which I did. But it was a rear tire, and I have to pull the skewer completely out because of the carbon fiber frame and, and, and… long and not very interesting story.

The leak was near the valve stem, possibly just due to material fatigue. In any event, repairs near the stem are pretty much guaranteed to be useless, so I just swapped in a new tube. Experimented with the mini hand pump, which I have never used before. Interesting how hot the business end gets as the tire pressure mounts, but I finished the job with a floor pump, which has the added merit of a pressure gauge.

So I was a bit late getting to the office. They had not run out of bagels.

On the way home, another flat! Damn! It never rains but it pours! Again, the rear tire.

At least the day had warmed up and I had a sunny spot to work in. Several passing cyclists slowed to check that I was okay, a welcome display of benevolence that’s normal in this community. We help each other out.

This time, there was a gash in the carcass where I had run across what was most likely a sharp bit of glass. It had gone all the way through and punctured the tube. Not a problem… until I discovered that the tube of cement in my long-unused patch kit had dried up. And there was a dearth of passing cyclists at the time.

Not to worry; I just put in the spare tube I always carry. I’ll patch the old one when I get a new patch kit. Flats go with the territory, no fun, but we just deal with them.

A walk in the baylands

January 1, 2014

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year’s Day, sunny and cool. I continue to have knee trouble, so I walked the baylands instead of the hills, around 11 miles. The first sight of interest was the pair of raptors at the Palo Alto duck pond, studiously ignoring the crow who would have liked for them to move along. (Doris thinks they are black-shouldered kites. Thanks, Doris!)



Some distance further along, a black-crested night heron holds court amongst the ducks, while a great blue heron keeps an eye open for careless fish.



And the humans are out there, too. From a distance, it looks like a canoe, but we assume that it’s really some kind of platform, stable enough to stand on while he paddles.

After a secondary adventure, I came back through the town.