27 Pictures: Hamden to New Haven, June 13, 2020

Black Lives Matter ride, from Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden to the New Haven Green.  I estimate that there were 300-500 riders.

More to come (I hope!)


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43 Pictures: Hamden, June 7,2020

You get what you need.

People have the power.

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Nothing’s Perfect: Zefal hPX FTW

It’s been over 8 years since I did one of these posts, but this morning I had an experience.

I was out for a quick ride–in the face of COVID-19, I’ve been trying to put in a short (5-10 mile ride) every morning–when I felt my bike’s rear end drop.  This was not good.

A quick inspection revealed a couple of things.  1.  My rear tire was flat as a pancake.  2.  I was two miles from home.  3.  I had everything I needed.

That everything consisted of…

(1) A hex wrench (set) so I could remove the rear wheel (I have anti-theft skewers, so no quick-release levers anymore.

(2) A tire lever to help me remove and replace the tire.

(3) A handkerchief (more on this in a moment).

(4) A spare tube.

(5) An absolutely perfect pump–the Zefal hPX:


Many companies make frame pumps.*  Silca, Topeak.  Park Tools.

IMO, none of these can hold a candle to a Zefal hPX.

Each has its particular problems.  I remember a Silca plastic pump that I bought because it color-matched my Bianchi frame.  First time I tried to use it, it exploded in a shower of plastic fragments.  Back to hPX’s!

I bought my first Zefal hP (an earlier model) back in the mid-70s, when I owned a Raleigh 10-speed.  I will never use anything else.  The hP was capable of easily pumping a tire to 100 PSI.  The hPX improves on it by providing a means to lock out the spring while you’re pumping, which makes filling a tire even easier.

Don’t be mislead–you need a good pump at home to regulate the pressure in your tires, but when you need to pump on the road, there is nothing as good as an hPX.  Zefal makes them in multiple sizes so that, no matter the size of your frame, you can put it under your top tube, along your seat tube, along a seat stay or (if you’re weird like me) between the rear fender and the seat tube.

So this is how I spent about 15 minutes of my morning (I used to do it in a much shorter time, but this was my first flat in over three years, so I’m rusty).

  1.  Use the hex wrench to unbolt the rear wheel.
  2. Drop out the rear wheel.
  3. Use the lever (plastic only, please) to remove the rear tire.
  4. Before completely removing the rear tire, pressurize the tube with the pump so that you can find the hole and map it back to the tire, because whatever killed the tube may still be embeded in the tire (often is) and you need to remove that before continuing.
  5. Run the handkerchief along the inside of the tire to find the sharp object that caused the problem (in my case, a tiny bit of brown glass that had been lubricated by the wet road).
  6. Remove the glass from the tire, and continue to sweep the inside to find any other problems.
  7. Pull the tire completely and remove the tube.
  8. Pump up the new tube just a little.
  9. Push it into the tire.
  10. Remount the tire–start by inserting the valve into the hole in the rim, then, carefully, push the tire onto the rim.  First one side by hand, the other, if necessary, with the plastic tire lever.  Be careful not to damage the tube with the lever.
  11. Pump it up just a little more.
  12. Go along the tire, first one side and then the other, checking to make sure that the tube isn’t caught between tire and rim.
  13. Pump some more, then make certain by spinning the wheel and sighting along it, that the tire is properly installed.
  14. Put the wheel back in the frame, make sure the chain is set correctly, and tighten the skewer.
  15. Pump the tire up the rest of the way.  For pressure, just do a squeeze test to make sure it feels about the same as the other tire.
  16. Put the pump back on the bike and the damaged tube in your pack, so you can patch it when you get home.

If you don’t have a Zefal hPX pump, you’re kidding yourself.  IMO.


*Don’t even get me started on mini-pumps and CO2 cartridges.


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The Best Lens I Ever Had



I’ve been getting into photography a lot lately.  I’ve even taken it so far as to get myself back to black and white (witness the photos above).  And that’s made me think about the other time that I was seriously into black and white, and  the best lens I ever had.

Going back to the early ’70s, I learned how to develop and print black and white film when I was in junior high school.  Shop class required it.  I thought it was an extremely cool thing to do, and then forgot about it for eight years or so.  But in the summer of 1981, I was thinking of it again.

My parents had, not long before, given me a Rollei 35, which I loved to death.  Imagine–a full 35mm camera the size of a cigarette pack, or a couple of decks of cards. And not just a full camera, but one that, with a little work, took excellent photographs.  Toward the end of the summer of ’81, I decided to try shooting like serious photographers, and loaded it up with black and white film.  I happened to get some excellent shots, but was disappointed by the results I got from photo labs, which barely did any business in black and white.  Almost all of their work was with the C-41 color process (it probably speaks to this that about this time, Ilford introduced a black and white film that used the C-41 process).


Very late that summer, just a week or so before I moved from Minneapolis to Chicago, my apartment was broken into and my typewriter, two boxes of cassette tapes, and my Rollei were all stolen.  Fortunately, I was insured under my family’s policy, and so the stolen items were replaced.  For the camera, I think I was given something like $300.

But being then a serious photographer, I did not replace the Rollei.  I bought an excellent single-lens reflex (SLR), a Nikon FM, together with a 50mm lens.  And headed off for Chicago.

In Chicago, I was living for my first year at the University’s International House.  One evening, scouting around the place, I discovered that it had a darkroom.  A disused darkroom, but a darkroom none the less.  Then a few days later, I happened to be in the university bookstore when I discovered that they were closing out their photo department.

I bought almost all of it.  Photographic paper, chemicals, trays, canisters, graduated cylinders, you name it.  It was all something like 90% off.  One of the items for sale, comparatively expensive at something like $10 or $15, was a Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 lens.  For a Nikon camera!


I was in love, and I bought it.  A fast lens that gave me a nice bit of compression and limited depth of field!  With just one problem.  You see that silver thing on the lower right?  All Nikon lens had them.  They were for an older light-metering system–one that my camera didn’t have.  Mine used a system called AI.

Fortunately, I am a tinkerer.  I compared the 100mm lens to the 50mm I already had, and figured out how the AI system worked.  It was ridiculously simple, and easy to implement, and so I broke the clip off a cheap pen, bought some SuperGlue (I think the first I ever had) and used it to turn the Vivitar lens into an AI-compatible lens.

Son of a bitch, it worked perfectly!

I kept that lens for the next, oh, about 20-odd years, and sold it with my camera around 2005, when I figured photography was over for me and it was snapshots all the way down.  I bought a cheap digital and that was that.

But it was the best lens.  Not much bigger than a 50mm, but with a magnificent ability to put me in the action.  Some of my very old shots elsewhere on this site were made with it.

Today, I find that I still like lenses that perform in the same territory.  My Fuji X10 has a zoom lens that’s just as fast as the old Vivitar and that extends from 28mm equivalent (I also bought a 28mm Vivitar, and did the same conversion to it, but that’s another story) to 112mm equivalent, close enough to 100.

Good lenses.  Good life.  I guess I should thank that thief and that bookstore.  You never know!


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There are advantages to getting up early.  On May 5th, this was one of them.


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April is the Cruelest Month

Still waiting on a solution for the COVID problem.  A friend and professor at the law school I went to came down with it; one of my best students has tested positive (in his non-student time, he worked at Yale New Haven Hospital, and told me that not everyone got decent PPE).

Anyway, I’ve been working from home and getting out to exercise as much as possible, and so I’ve been taking a lot of photographs.  Here’s a sample from April (so far).

This is a selection from among the more than 640 photographs I’ve taken since the month began.



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That’s how old I am today.  I’m afraid I can’t find much interesting to say about that number–no good songs seem to include it.  What I did find out:

  • 62 is the only number whose cube (238328) consists of 3 digits each occurring 2 times.
  • The great rhombicosidodecahedron (see below) has 62 sides.
  • Louis Pasteur developed the first rabies vaccination at age 62.

(All of these I learned here.)

This is a great rhombicosidodecaherdron, for your entertainment:


The only one of these things that I find truly fascinating is the notation about Louis Pasteur.  You may know him as the man who makes milk safe to drink; but when I was a child, one of the books that my brother and I shared was titled Great Men of Science (it may have been this one).

One of the chapters in that book that most struck me was the story of Pasteur as a boy, witnessing the attack of a mad (rabid) dog, and the subsequent sufferings of the infected.  He grew into the scientist who tested vaccines on himself and eventually came up with the cure for rabies.

If you read the Wikipedia entry, Pasteur does not come as well, does not come off in quite the same way, but my brother and I were given every encouragement to practice and revere science through books like Great Men. And we did.  Today, my brother is an anesthesiologist, and I, a reformed social scientist, still teach the underlying principles.

And we both still revere science.

And that is one of the reasons why, 62 years old now, I refuse to believe that the world is ending.  I think that Great Men and Great Women of Science will find a solution to COVID-19.  It will take time, but there will be a solution found by them.

And who knows?  One of them might even be my age:  LXII.

But at the same time, look at what COVID-19 hath wrought.  Look at the sky, breath the air, listen to the quiet.  This is the quietest birthday ever I have had, and that’s not entirely a bad thing.

62.  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s just a start.


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Knocking on Heaven’s Door

This is a Dylan song that was one of the very first things I learned to play, back in the late ’70s.  Still messing with it:


(It’s kind of a weird, no video sort of thing.


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No Particular Place To Go


Please take a look at my bike.  Notice that it is equipped.  It has fenders.  It has a headlight and a taillight.  In addition to the perpetual spare tube and tool kit under the seat, it is equipped with panniers and a handlebar bag (which I messily failed to close before taking this photo).

This is a bicycle that is intended to go somewhere.  It might be an overnight trip, it might be just a jaunt to the store for a sack of flour.  Today, there was nowhere particular to go.

With the rise of the corona virus, almost everything in my part of Connecticut is closed.  If you want coffee, you need to call ahead and pay by credit card.  I could go to a grocery store, but I did that the past few days (and I actually now have some flour–made some good cookies the other night).

But today, mid-March with temperatures in the mid-50s (F) it was too nice not to go outside…and there was no place to go.  A week or so ago, I might have ridden my bike to Legal Grounds, my favorite local coffee spot.  I would have sat curled up with a book.

But a week ago, I would not have had the afternoon off.  I would have been up to my elbows in preparing for next week’s cases–which are, by the way, no longer next week’s cases.  In addition to coffee shops, the schools are closed.  The universities are closed.  The churches are closed.  The courts are closed.

So I’m riding around/with no particular place to go.

This is hardly the worst part of the virus situation.  But for me, it’s an indicator.  Life has changed and it’s probably never going to be again quite what it was.


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Dear Mr. Fantasy


Do you ever imagine that you’re someone/somewhere other than who/where you are?  Do you ever put a coat of “fantasy opaque” paint over your drab everyday existence?

I did.  Sometimes I still do.

I think that it began when I found myself an outsider in elementary school.  At some point in third or fourth grade, our teacher would read to us from the White Mountains trilogy, and in those days I wore a wool headband out to the playground in winter.  That headband became my false cap, a gift from the vagrants to hide me from the Tripods.

Sometime around then I encountered Star Trek (the original series in its first run), and the shirts that my mother bought for me—almost but not quite turtlenecks with buttons running along the top of the left shoulder—quickly turned into Starfleet uniforms.

In junior high school, I went to a school that had an unusual design.  The main entrance was in the middle of a long  glass hallway.  To the right was a single-story circular building, the music wing.  To the left, the rest of the school.  In my mind, the circular building was the launch silo for a sleek black rocketship (which corresponded closely to an Estes-based model I had built), the school proper a launch control complex.  Most of my classes could be adapted to play some kind of role in the story—poring over maps in science class was locating landing sites, for example.  When my brother and I went to restaurants with my parents, I was experiencing the strange food of other planets.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes, the daily injections were to prepare for space flight.

At some point in high school, my interest in fantasy waned, even as I was consuming Dune and Lord of the Rings! I think it was a growing awareness of dating and courtship, and so for some time, I rested my fleet, and experienced the world as what I was.  But this didn’t last too long.

In my first years of college, uniforms brought science fiction back into my life.  If you’re my age (c. 62) then you’ll recall that in the late ‘70s, almost every college student—at least in a cold climate—owned two coats.  One of them was a “mountain parka” (much more about those here).  That was the spring and fall coat.  The other was a puffy down coat with a thin nylon shell, great for the cold of a Minnesota winter.  Each of these came in about three colors—tan (my choice), green, and red.  There were occasional yellow and blue variations, but not many.

The result was that the campus at the University of Minnesota looked, to the casual eye—and what other eye belongs to the fantasist?—covered with people in uniforms.  And given how cold it was and the distances to be traversed, it was easy to see the hooded figures as scurrying over an alien landscape.  That’s how I saw the world for my first couple of years.  Lectures were addressed to Starfleet cadets.  Driving to campus with my dad, wind-driven drifts of snow over the highway were evidence of Lunar seismic activity.

I think, though I cannot be certain, that fantasy was my way of dealing with not belonging.  I had groups I belonged to throughout school, but until I found my discipline—sociology—and with it the whole sphere of the social sciences, and the ability to speculate and theorize within a narrow field—until then, I could not truly say that I belonged, and so fantasy made the world a much more friendly place.  And thus it was that when I became a sociologist at some point in the late ‘70s, I stopped needing fantasy.  While I went to graduate school, met and married T, had kids, dropped out of sociology and went into software, and, ultimately, went to law school.  My real world had become sufficiently fulfilling.

It’s funny to think about that. Because over the past few years, sometimes, before I go to sleep, I am back in that fantasy world.  I am not sleeping in my bed, but in one of the hibernacules on the Discovery, en route to Saturn and points beyond.

Escape is not always a bad thing.



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