Commuting by Bicycle: A New Year and a New You!

I’ve been struggling for motivation to commute to work by bicycle this winter, and by good fortune I came across a blog dedicated to the bicycle commuter called Commute by Bike. I posted a comment asking how others motivate themselves to get on their bikes during the colder, wetter, and darker months of the year and they were kind enough to start a discussion about it.

There were lots of really great responses. A couple of my favorites were:

“Simple. I have no car. My choices are ride a bike or walk to work. It’s 4.2 miles. Staying home isn’t an option. I’m simply too busy at work and if I stop showing up I’ll get fired and I’ll lose my house and I’ll have to sleep under the bridge and will have to not just ride my bike in cold, wet weather but LIVE in cold wet weather. So my < 20 minutes each way ride really isn’t so bad.” – John

And…

“I have made a very public goal of riding to work for 500 work days in a row. I am currently at 351.
People at work (and elsewhere) often ask me how many days I have under my belt, and I don’t want to have to admit I opted out.
So, two days of riding with the flu, last week…not pleasant, but doable. Driving the car…not an option.” – Jon Grinder

Browsing elsewhere online, I also stumbled upon stories of people commuting to work on their studded tires through snow storms in well below freezing temperatures. Wow, if they’re doing it, there’s no excuse for me not to ride in.

And plus, look at the view along the way to work:

Brew, Bottle, and Taste

Finally…after over a month of patiently waiting, our first batch of beer, Pluto’s Not a Planet Amber Ale, was ready for tasting. It tasted surprisingly like…beer. The carbonation was just right and it had a pretty good flavor. Maybe my expectations were low since this was our first batch and I just recently watched Palin’s first debate, but it exceeded the expectations I had set.

It was a busy night as we also bottled the Federal Bailout IPA and began brewing Hard Time Belgium Ale. It’s looking like some good brews from here on out.


Thomas pouring the first bottle of Pluto’s Not a Planet.


Federal Bailout in the carboy awaiting bottling.


Bottling Federal Bailout.


Boiling the barley for Hard Times.

Delightful Adult Beverage

I admit it. These past few weeks have been filled with a higher beer drinking to cycling ratio. It’s inevitable. I love cycling and I love beer, but it’s hard to juggle two loves at once.

If there is any redemption to this post, it’s that I have been devoting my time to beer for a purpose: the worthy cause of the pursuit of knowledge.

While cycling by Lagunitas a couple of months ago, a few friends of mine and I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to get into home brewing. And this past weekend, we finally brewed our first batch of wort en route to an amber ale.

Here are a few highlights leading up to our first brew night:

A free Monday night home brew seminar with Griz the brewmaster.

San Francisco Brewcraft, located in the Inner Richmond in San Francisco offers a free introduction to home brewing class on Monday nights at 6 p.m. Griz covers the basics of brew technique as well as the “mojo” that makes the whole process, and your finished product, more enjoyable. He gives you “muy importante” tips and tricks that he’s gathered from his years of experience as well as an anecdotes and jokes (with an occasional disclaimer for sensitive ears). The seminar lasted about two and a half hours and I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to pick up another hobby. Griz also mentioned that most weeks he’ll serve up a home brew to his students. They ask that you call to reserver a spot before 4 p.m. at 415-751-9338.

A tour of one of our largest breweries.


(Stolen from Flickr.)

On the complete other end of the spectrum, while stuck in traffic on the way out to Vacaville, my girlfriend and I decided to stop off at the Budweiser tour in Fairfield, CA. I’ve actually done this tour once before while in college. Not being a huge fan of Budweiser, there’s not too much to praise about this tour. They run tours Monday through Saturday, although bottling is only done M-F. I did like the feeling of being in a How it’s Made t.v. show and free beer never hurts.

The big night.

A handful of friends and I brewed five gallons of amber ale this past Friday. We spend about four hours boiling, cooling, and adding ingredients at different intervals. At each step, we sampled our concoction noticing how sweet it was. According to my friend who housed the event, our batch already began “burping” a couple days later, which is a sign that the yeast is beginning to turn the sugars into alcohol and subsequently releasing carbon dioxide (they grow up so fast). The beer will go through a couple more steps before being bottled and becoming a delightful adult beverage. The final product should be done in a few weeks. Can’t wait.

Blog2.0

It seems all the talk these days is about web interoperability. Interoper-who? Basically, interoperability is the ability of a program or service to work across different platforms. Think about a program like Firefox that works on Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux. Not so easy to do. Now add a dash of web platform. Imagine a web application that runs on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more.

Side step.

Over the years, I have been collecting online identities. Four years ago, I signed up for a Blogger account. Three years ago, a MySpace account. Two years ago, a Facebook account. And recently, a Twitter account.

With a pile of web applications on my hands, it soon becomes a burden to update my information. Post a blog twice? Change my status four or five times? Sorry. Not my style.

Recently, I found http://ping.fm. Ping.fm allows you to update your status and add a blog post to multiple sites at once. I had tried to do that using Bloggers API on my old website, but honestly, it turned out to be more work that it was worth.

Ping is currently is in beta and requires you send them your email address and request an invitation code. It takes a day or so to receive, but if you can’t wait, the most recent beta code is itsaboutping. Not sure how long that will work for, but give it a shot.

My initial feedback.

Most social applications are supported in Ping. And if you have your own WordPress blog (I just upgraded today), there’s a wordpress plugin. The thing I like about this best is that I don’t have to give up my old Blogger account in order to use WordPress. With ping, I can post to them simultaneously.

Gripes.

I know it’s only in beta, but if there was something I could suggest, it would an improved interface. For updating my status, it’s perfect. Text area, that’s it. But when writing a full blog post, a small text area with a scroll bar makes it pretty tough to visualize what you’re writing. I’m doing it now and can’t see more than a sentence or so at a time.

So if you’re out there blogging (which I hope you are), sign up for ping.fm. And since you can post to multiple sites simultaneously, get a Blogger and WordPress account! And a Facebook account. And a MySpace account. And a LinkedIn account. And a Twitter account. Soon you’ll need a bigger virtual wallet to carry all those online identities.