Installing the `pg` Ruby Gem with a installation

“Apple says it’s not planning a 27-inch iMac”

Beyond the Pavement: Lost Coast

Val, Ainsley, and I participated in Beyond the Pavement: Lost Coast, a tour of trails in the “Lost Coast” of Northern California, put on by Back Road Van Adventures and sponsored by Storyteller Overland.

We had a great time slinging our Storyteller van on roads that no delivery van has any business being on…unless it’s been modified like the vans we were touring with. We were captured in some of the Instagram outtakes below (we were van A6, the white Classic MODE4x4 with the “V” shaped thing on top of it).

For instance, we’re the van in the second shot in this sequence:

And # 5, 6, and 8 in this one:

Brompton Test Ride and First Impressions

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a bike to commute to work with, in combination with using the train. I dove down a YouTube rabbit hole when researching the folding Brompton bike, and found myself drawn to a C Line Explore (the sort of standard Brompton you might have seen) in either “black lacquer” (which looks kind of bronze with cool details around the welds on this steel bike) or “flame lacquer” (similar, but reddish-orange).


There are few decisions once you’ve narrowed it down to that point, but there is one important one: the handlebar. On this bike the long stem-like neck of the bike has different sizes that correspond to your handlebar choice, so you really want to get it right when you buy the bike, as changing it after the fact is hard. So, I wanted to test ride one of these things.

My local REI had some in stock, so I stopped by, did the waiver-and-identification dance, and found myself on a flame lacquer version of exactly what I was looking for, with the “M” (mid-rise) handlebar, which I expected to be what I’d probably like. (At six feet tall, my online research led me to believe that this would be upright, but sporty feeling.)

My first impression was that it was cramped. I come from a mountain biking background, so I’m used to being more upright than most road bikers are, but this reach really left me feeling like the bike was too small. There aren’t many options to extend the reach from what I can tell, so I should probably give it a longer test ride. Unfortunately, REI only had mid-rise bar models available to test.

I’d read that the shifting is weird, and I can confirm that: it has a rear hub that has three speeds, controlled by one shifter, and it has two cog-based speeds that are adjusted with another. This has the effect of seeming to have three speeds with a “slightly harder” and “slightly easier” variant of each, for six speeds total. What I was surprised by here was the cheap feeling of the shifters. Most of my bikes are admittedly pretty high-end, so I’m used to good shifters, but these really felt out of place on a $2,000 bike, especially when the rest of the bike felt like a high-quality machine. It didn’t help that the bike seemed to not be assembled super well, and the shifting was not great in any case.

Despite the bike being put in a stand and checked out before sending me on my test ride, the mechanic failed to check that the clamps that allow the bike to fold were secured. I discovered this oversight when I decided to see how the bike would feel under some load: As I rose out of the saddle to put some power down, the handlebars unceremoniously disappeared out from under me just as I leapt forward. Needless to say, I hit the deck instantly, much to my surprise.

Luckily I wasn’t hurt too badly, but the Brompton was a little the worse for the experience; the front fender was bent and rubbing on the tire. More embarrassed than angry, I took the bike in, told them what happened, and left to mentally process my test ride.

I think I’ll take the opportunity to test ride the other versions of the bike, and this time, I’ll head up to the San Francisco bike store that specializes in Brompton bikes. I assume they’ll have test bikes that are better-prepared, and will a variety of the models available. Still, even without the fall, it wasn’t a good first experience, so it definitely took some of the excitement out of shopping for a new bike.

“Nikon’s new ZF is a retro-styled full-frame camera aimed right at our nostalgic hearts”

“This Is a Reminder That You’re Probably Oversharing on Venmo”

Whirlwind Travel Ratings, Part Two

Whew! I spent a month traveling in Europe, flying every weekend, with two long international flights of more than sixteen hours each, so I watched a lot of the shows and movies on my backlog. I covered some of them earlier, so here are the rest:

Secret Invasion ★☆☆☆☆

This is the weakest Marvel show yet. It spends the whole season developing a story that just isn’t very interesting, and the pacing is all wrong—it is slow going until the last episode, which seems to hurry to wrap things up, which it ultimately fails to do; it just ends with everything up in the air. I guess it was setting up the upcoming Captain America and The Marvels? Really not good. Marvel has truly lost their way with this phase.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 ★★★★☆

There’s still one episode to go, but I’m ready to call it a success. It’s really been riffing in a way that could come across as incoherent, but it makes it all work. There’s a comedy-ish crossover with Lower Decks, followed by an exciting, dark episode about the Klingon war started in Discovery, and then back to a more lighthearted musical episode. The cast is great, and the chemistry between the characters gelled very quickly, making this my favorite Trek in a long time.

The Diplomat Season 1 ★★★☆☆

The acting and core characters are great in this opening season. It can veer a little too close to soap opera in moments, but stays shy of getting cringy. Mostly, it’s well-written and well-acted, and the relationships really develop well over the course of this season. I’m looking forward to season two.

Silo Season 1 ★★★☆☆

This is on the verge of being a ★★★★☆ series for me, but it ends with a little too much of the core story unresolved. It’s ultimately a mystery/detective show set in a (possibly?) post-apocalyptic setting. It manages to do quite a lot of world building and establishes a lot of strong characters and mysteries in a relatively short time, but it just doesn’t bring closure to enough of them before the season ends, making it feel like it just stops. Still, I’ll definitely be back for season two.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers ★★★★★

I’ve seen these multiple times before, although it’s been many years now. My daughter is now old enough to appreciate them, I think, and she was with me on one of the long flights, so we watched two of them. They both hold up well, although I’m reminded that they are both long movies that seem to go slow and fast at the same time: there’s so much condensed into a movie format, yet so much left unexplored. Now that we’ve seen Middle Earth in a premium streaming format (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon ★★★☆☆), I wish we had a version of these stories in the longer format, with more room to breathe. Still, Peter Jackson managed to do an overall amazing job making movies out of hard-to-translate source material, and I’m happy that my daughter has a good intro to Lord of the Rings.