Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Alien Plant Life in Iowa

While visiting in Iowa, I discovered this exotic plant growing in the front yard of one of my father's neighbors.  I searched Google Images to identify the plant and came up empty.  Therefore, my working hypothesis is that the plant is of extra-terrestrial origin.  Keep an eye on the Iowa news just in case some kind of "invasion of the body snatchers" mischief is afoot.

Herbert Hoover History

On the way back from my visit to Iowa, I stopped by West Branch to visit the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.  I toured Hoover's birthplace and a reconstruction of his father's blacksmith shop.

Hoover was born in a small cottage roughly the size of a one-car garage with a small shed and a little porch attached in back.  The "shed" portion housed some pantry shelves and a small cook-stove.  The cottage proper was divided into a parlor and a bedroom.

The parlor was cozy but primitive -- no flat screen television or recliner.

I walked down the street to where "Bert" Hoover's father Jesse had his blacksmith shop.

A historical-recreation actor (who is also a competent general blacksmith trained at the Amana Colonies school) answered my questions about smithing in the late 1800s.  He is shown pulling on a lever to work the six-foot-long bellows.  His forge burns coal.

I highly recommend visiting the site.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Counting Blessings While in Motion

This is a day for counting blessings.  I rode my new 3-speed bicycle downtown this morning and met with my younger son for scones, cappacino (for him), and iced chai tea (for me).  The weather for cycling was perfect -- sunshine, temperature in the high 60s, and no wind.

Afterwards, as a rode home from downtown, I had leisure to reflect on my many blessings: good health, adequate wealth, friends, continued employment, a supportive church congregation, and many others.

I find I can do serious thinking while riding a bike and do so nearly as well as when hiking.  I don't think as deeply whatsoever when driving in the city.  At first blush it seems that depth of thought is inversely proportional to velocity of travel.  On the other hand, while driving in the wide open spaces on I-80 in Nebraska and Iowa, I have come upon some substantial insights. So perhaps depth of thought is inversely proportional to the attention one needs to pay to the traveling.  If so, the advent of self-driving cars should enable deeper thought in the populace.  (This may be overly optimistic.)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Great Bicycle Build Completes

My younger son and I finished building my 3-speed road bike this afternoon.

We rewrapped the handlebar that I had botched earlier.  Then we added a half link to the chain, which had been too tight before.  With the addition of the half link, the chain is now slightly loose but workable.  If I find that the chain pops off when I hit a bump, I may need to add a chain tensioner.

Then we ran the shift cable back to the shift mechanism for the Nexus gear hub.  As the final build step, we put on the pedals.

I took a test ride around the neighborhood and the 3-speed rode marvelously.  The proportions of the bike put me in a comfortable riding posture.  The shifting was precise and immediate.

I am very grateful for the entire build process, which has progressed in fits and starts since October last year.  Working with my son is always a pleasure and the end result is a bicycle I should enjoy riding for years.

Here are the glamour shots.