Spice up your pictures with zoom.it

8/5/2010 10:10:37 PM

One of my favorite features of Silverlight is Deep Zoom, which gives online images depth like you haven’t seen before. Zoom in and out of massive, hi-resolution imagery in a bandwidth efficient manner with just the scroll wheel of your mouse… it’s great stuff. (See some examples of Deep Zoom in action at deepzoomstudio.com.)

The only problem has been utilizing it. Deep Zoom requires preprocessing of images to create different levels of tiles in order to pull of its magic, and until now that’s been a client-side chore with a tool like Deep Zoom Composer. This is fairly lame for your average Joe, who just wants to upload a photo and have it “just work”.

Enter zoom.it from Microsoft’s Live Labs.

zoom.it

Point zoom.it at a web page or photo and it does all the work for you to “zoom it”. You can then host it on your own blog, like so.

The image above is from the Point Montana Lighthouse Hostel, where I stayed a night during my bike adventure from Portland to San Diego last year. (A trip I started a year ago today, coincidentally. :) I would have loved to have something like this available during my trip.

When posting a photo, normally you have to make a decision about the size. Should you post a larger photo so people can make out details better, or should you keep it smaller and conserve bandwidth and screen real estate? With Deep Zoom you get the best of both worlds – viewers only eat up as much bandwidth as what they look at, and if they want to dig into a photo, they can zoom in and even go full screen if they want for the greatest in detail.

Besides Silverlight, Zoom.it includes Seadragon AJAX support so even people without Silverlight installed can still enjoy your images. There are many other cool features I haven’t mentioned here, and it’s free for you to use – check it out!

 

From Micro to Mighty: A Startup is Born

2/11/2010 6:01:28 AM

Three months ago I was laid off. Believe it or not, I had seen it coming. (The night before I was given notice, presenting for the Portland Data Visualization group, I gave hint of what was to come during my demo by way of the URL.) I had thought for quite some time about what I’d do post-Microsoft… now it was time to set the gears in motion.

The response I received after the announcement just in the first 24 hours alone was incredible. I had a couple job offers right off the bat, several more promising leads, and made the news. One person even offered to work for me if I was in need of a developer. All of this was unsolicited. I still haven’t made it through all the messages of support I received. A huge thank you all for the concern, compassion, and recognition – it more than makes up for the doldrums of the last year or three at my previous job.

So what have I been up to these past few months? I’ve been staying pretty hush-hush until now… so without further ado, allow me to introduce to you my new business venture.

 

mclogo640

 

(Oh yes I did just do that.)

Mighty Code focuses on three areas:

Training on a variety of topics, mostly technical (ASP.NET MVC, Windows Azure, etc). One particular area of interest is to help developers tame the beast of concurrency by incorporating more declarative and functional programming into their toolbox.

Our first training course is a joint effort with Dawn Foster and the Oregon Training Network on getting organizations up to speed with online communities, social media, and all that jazz.

Consulting to get projects back on track, completed on time, and exceeding expectations.

I actually started my first contract gig a week after leaving Microsoft and am still on it today. I’m serving as team lead and architect for a web site rebuild project at a prominent local firm. ASP.NET MVC 2, VS2010, the works – it’s been going well so far. (I love the smell of production code in the morning!)

Development because that’s what we do. We’re not just a services shop; we’re a startup out to build apps and online services, fill some niches, and have fun doing it. We’re aiming for the end of March to announce our first project (at Boise Code Camp), so stay tuned.

For a long time I’ve considered my real promotion at Microsoft to be departing the company and starting something on my own. Here it is, and I couldn’t be more excited. (Or busy. :)

What’s in a Name?
I’ve had the mightycode.com domain for several years, waiting in the wings for when the time came to set out on my own. At one point I was contacted by someone from Borland interested in buying the domain when they were selling off their developer division. I decided to keep it; the offer was just validation of the name for me. (They ended up going with CodeGear instead.)

Community
For my fellow geeks who may have wondered if I’d disappear on them since I no longer have Evangelist on my business card, rest assured I will continue to be active in the tech community. I’ve since presented at the Corvallis .NET User Group and Fullerton Code Camp, and have several talks planned for upcoming events through the next several months. I’m involved with planning for this year’s Portland Code Camp/BarCamp/SQL Saturday conglomerate, and am continuing to participate with the SAO Dev Forum, the Legion of Tech, and 30 Hour Day. In addition, Mighty Code is sponsoring Ignite Portland 8 and hopefully some other upcoming events as well.

Joining the Team
I’m proud to announce that two weeks ago I hired my first employee, Beth Murray, to serve as our Director of Consulting. Beth has already started working to expand our consulting practice so we can bring on more talent and pursue some of those crazy project ideas I have.

Speaking of which, if you are in the Portland area, are a development badass, and like the idea of getting in on the ground floor, email me. I know from experience that being pigeonholed can get boring fast. We offer plenty of variety in the work available to keep skills fresh, interest levels high, and people hopefully sticking around for the long term. This is a developer’s dev shop, and I intend to milk it for all it’s worth.

Keep an eye out for the latest from MIghty Code at mightycode.com or on Twitter as @mightycode. Game on!

 

No Good Jones Art Auction for 30 Hour Day

12/23/2009 10:53:03 AM

The inaugural 30 Hour Day may have come and gone, but we’re not quite done with the fundraising just yet.

No Good Jones closed out the variety show with a half-hour set, joined by four local artists who created their respective artworks while we were playing. That’s right -- these works of art were created live, on stage, under assault from approximately 5 billion decibels -- and in the span of 30 minutes. And now they can be yours, with all proceeds going to the American Diabetes Association.

(click an image to view the auction for that artwork)

Owl by Rai Villanueva

Owl by Rai Villanueva

    

Universal Mind by Jamie Edwards

Universal Mind by Jamie Edwards

 

Guitarist by Laura Spitze

Guitarist by Laura Spitze 

 

Whale by Gary Herd

Whale by Gary Herd

Now if getting a nice piece of art and donating to a worthy cause wasn’t enough, Scott Hanselman has offered to match all contributions, which means 2x proceeds will be going to the ADA. The auction runs until the 30th… bid now!

 

No Good Jones and the 30 Hour Day artist troupe

more pictures from the gig at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/nogoodjones
photos by Aaron Hockley and Igal Koshevoy

 

30 Hour Day – please join in!

12/16/2009 11:11:48 PM

Hello world. It’s been over a month since I posted about being laid off from work. Don’t worry about me, I’m doing well – I’ve been quiet because I’ve been so busy with my new business. (My first client wanted me to start ASAP, so I ended up having only a week off.) I’ll tell you all about it in a bit, but that can wait. This can’t.

http://30hourday.org/

This Friday and Saturday, a unique event is taking place here in Portland and online around the world called 30 Hour Day. It’s essentially an online telethon; 30 continuous hours of live streamed content to raise money for worthy causes. The really innovative part is that the content is being made available through a Creative Commons license, and people around the world are encouraged to use it to raise donations for their own local charities. It’s the first worldwide (yet locally relevant) online telethon, and it’s happening this weekend.

30hourday_nogoodjones I’m excited and honored to be a part as my band No Good Jones is closing out the variety show on Saturday from 5:20pm to 6pm PST. If you only have an hour to spare this weekend, be sure to check out the feed at http://30hourday.org/ during that time. :)

Click here to RSVP our gig on Facebook.

We’ll be playing a set that is mostly instrumental, and we figured watching us stand there playing wouldn’t be all that interesting to watch on the online broadcast. So we’ve commissioned some artists who will be doing their thing alongside us while we play live. They’ll be under the gun to complete their works of art in the half hour of our set, which should be entertaining in of itself. At the end of the set we’ll auction off their artwork to raise more money for charity.

The artists collaborating in our cacophony include:

Jamie Edwards, Weiden+Kennedy

Gary Herd, Cry of the Wolf

Laura Spitze, Solution Film

Rai Villanueva

No Good Jones will be making their contributions to the American Diabetes Association and their Stop Diabetes initiative. Diabetes affects friends and family including our band mate Jeffrey’s son Reese, who was diagnosed with diabetes in June. Let’s do something about it.

For whatever cause matters to you, please take some time Friday or Saturday to participate. Enjoy the entertainment, pledge a few bucks, bid on an auction item… take a load off, get cozy with your computer, and make a difference. I’ll crank the amp to 11 just for you.

 

Moving On

11/5/2009 5:26:43 AM

Yesterday I was notified of my job being eliminated along with 799 of my colleagues, including my teammate and friend Woody Pewitt in San Diego.

I find it fitting that I make my way out in what looks to be the last wave of layoffs, the only one of such scale in Microsoft’s history. When I joined in June of 2001, I was part of the last wave of hiring before the dot-com bubble bursting took the wind out of technology’s sails for a while.  Bookends pretty nicely for me.

(Side note: My hire date was the day when Microsoft’s stock hit it’s absolute highest… not the day you want the strike price set on your stock options. :)

Why me? Reallocation of resources to better align business priorities is what I’ve been told. My team (Developer & Platform Evangelism) has been increasing their focus on the Bay area in particular, and has been moving headcount there from other areas in the West. For example, two teammates in Phoenix (one of them my friend Rob Bagby) are leaving Microsoft on their own; both their spots have already been shifted to northern California. Portland (where I’m at) and San Diego (where Woody is) are not as much on their radar… I assume if our headcount still exists after the layoffs that it would be allocated in a similar fashion. Or the jobs might just be gone, I just don’t know at this point. (I do know they’re not hiring for these positions in the places where people have left.)

Being at Microsoft for the past 8 1/2 years has been a great experience for me and I’ve learned a lot, both as a development consultant but particularly in my later role as a developer evangelist. The position has felt to me like an entrepreneur in training; I had my own part of the business I was responsible for, and it was largely up to me how to accomplish my goals… but at the same time it’s not like the whole company would be going down the drain if I screwed up. :) My career, which had been purely technical up until that point, was now focused on people, relationships, and the challenges of engaging a very intelligent community that at times could be less than friendly (for good reason in some cases). I loved it.

So what’s next for me? I’m taking off the training wheels and going into business on my own. I will be providing training and contract dev work, plus nurturing a few crazy ideas on the side. I’ll announce more as soon as the dust settles. I was reluctant to do something like this in the past, but now I feel ready for the challenge. And thanks to the severance package I received, I can actually afford to do so!

In closing, I’d like to thank Microsoft for the best job I’ve had, and for enough runway to hopefully get the next one off the ground. They have been good to me and I wish my teammates and coworkers the best. They were always my favorite part about the job… do stay in touch, you know who you are. :)

me@jasonmauer.com

 

Windows 7 Launches in the Pacific Northwest

10/7/2009 12:02:48 PM

Next week Microsoft is holding launch events for Windows 7 in Portland and Seattle. Both events are fully booked, but I just happen to have some extra registration codes to sneak a few more people in. These will go fast with every attendee getting a free copy of Windows 7… if you aren’t registered already, sign up now!

Seattle: Monday, October 12
AMC Pacific Place 11
600 Pine Street

Portland: Wednesday, October 14
Regal Division Street 13
16603 SE Division Street

Hope to see you there.

 

Media Center recordings on your Zune HD

10/2/2009 4:49:06 PM

I recently acquired a Zune HD, which I am very much enjoying. I’ll write more about it after I’ve spent more time with the device, but I wanted to share a tip I’d learned about using it with Windows Media Center and recorded TV.

Recorded TV File Formats 101
Media Center in XP and Vista (pre-TV Pack 2008) records to a DVR-MS file format. In TV Pack 2008-enhanced Vista and in Windows 7 a new format called Windows TV (with the WTV file extension) is used for recording.

Why the change in format? The new Windows TV format supports dynamic format changes, such as video resolution, audio compression type, etc. If you think of watching a HD station on TV, some shows on a particular channel may be full HD (1080i) resolution, but other shows (or often the commercials within the HD show) may be of a lower resolution. The WTV format can encode these parts differently to optimize the recording, saving space and bandwidth.

It also enables cool features like multiple camera angles and language-specific audio tracks, the sorts of features you’d see on a well made DVD. There’s also enhanced metadata, better recording and recovery, and various other improvements. Most of this comes with version 2 of the Stream Buffer Engine in Windows 7.

That’s all techno-gweege though. The Zune software and devices have supported both formats for quite some time, unless they use Dolby Digital AC3 audio. That turns out to be a big gotcha, since that’s the audio format used for just about every digital video broadcast in the US and most other countries. This applies to both ATSC (over-the-air HD) and Clear QAM (from your cable connection).

Here in Portland where Comcast has already made the switch to 100% digital for their cable broadcasting, it means anything I record with Media Center can’t be transferred to the Zune. Herein lies the suckage.

Beating Your Recordings Into Shape
So the format isn’t supported, but we can transcode the files to a different format that is. Expression Encoder 3 can do this for us no problem, and even has profiles for targeting Zune and Zune HD devices out of the box. There is a free version available for download if you don’t have Encoder already.

Not so fast though… currently Expression Encoder 3 has a bug with AC3 audio in WTV files. On my desktop machine Encoder would crash outright when trying to import a WTV file; on my laptop it would report an error about not being able to find some audio codec identified only by GUID. In short, it no worky.

There are two options to work around this bug:

  1. Convert the WTV file to the older DVR-MS format. To do so in Windows 7 is easy; just right-click it in Explorer and select “Convert to .dvr-ms Format” in the context menu. It will create a copy of the original video in the older format.
  2. Install a third-party AC3 decoder. A free option with 32- and 64-bit support is available at http://ac3filter.net/.

(Hopefully they’ll have this bug fixed in an updated version of Encoder.)

Once you’ve done one of the two workarounds, you should be able to proceed with Encoder and transcode your video file for use on your Zune.

For output formats you have four choices: H.264 (MP4) or VC-1 (WMV) formats, and profiles for Zune HD or Zune HD (AV Dock Playback) for each respective format. The AV Dock Playback profiles encode 5.1 channel surround sound and a video resolution of 1280x720, which is going to eat up a lot more disk space than the standard Zune HD profile (stereo audio, 480x272). Since I can just watch my HD content via Media Center when I’m at home, I encode my files using the smaller Zune HD profile sized just right for its screen.

I’ve tried both workarounds and have had success with each. There does seem to be a minor issue when choosing H.264 (MP4) for the output format though; some metadata about the broadcast seems to be lost, resulting in the file not showing up in the TV section of your Zune video library. WMV handles this fine however. If you’re encoding your videos to be used on more devices than just the Zune, using MP4 may be more important than the categorization glitch.

I’m hoping to get a script or simple app going to automate this process, but this should get you going in the mean time.

 

PDX to San Diego, Day 22: The Finish Line

9/23/2009 1:06:53 AM

Miles travelled: 39 (1355 total) Average speed: 14.2 MPH
Time on bike: 2:45 Top speed: 38.8 MPH

Got up early; definitely excited for the last day’s ride. Today I loaded my bike not with food and camping gear, but the clothes/etc I’d be using for the next three days during the work offsite. (Yes, I’ve been commuting to work this whole time… I have to work today!) I was out the door a bit before 8:30am, which should give me plenty of time to get to the Hard Rock by noon. The meeting starts at 1pm and I’m supposed to be there by noon, and I can’t be late.

I had tweeted about my last day and was getting a fair amount of attention that morning from people who’d been following the trip online. I saw Bryan Miller had mentioned on Facebook that I needed to stop at this Mexican place in Solana Beach called Roberto’s and try a carne asada taco… don’t have to tell me twice.

IMG_2152

 the taco was excellent, well worth the stop. on the left you can see some Spandex weenies that I destroyed on my way up the hill [mwa ha ha!]

Alright, enough dilly dallying… time to get back on the road. I proceeded on, tackling the one hill heading into La Jolla (I thought I was done with hills!) and towards UCSD. Here is where despite the shorter ride today, I managed to screw up the directions. Naturally this was on the one section of road that I actually was familiar with; I’d been to USCD for more than one SoCal Code Camp. I turned off when I shouldn’t have, and ended up riding down a street that was parallel with the one I was supposed to be on. I figured I’d ride it out and look for a cross street to get back since I was going downhill and didn’t want to double back. Fast forward a couple of minutes and I’m on the shoulder of I-5 dodging car parts and debris.

I was on the interstate for about a quarter mile, getting off at the next exit (which was another highway). I figured out how to get back on track using the map on my phone. My reward for the mistake was another hill to climb… oh well. Clock is ticking. What started out as a leisurely ride now was a race against the clock to get back on course and make it to work on time.

I found a street that would take me back over I-5 and in the general direction of where I should have been in the first place. There I found a bike path that got me back on the straight and narrow. From that point forward I was pretty much home free, cruising past Harbor Park and towards downtown.

IMG_2157

downtown San Diego, straight ahead

At noon on the dot I rode up to the Hard Rock Hotel, my three weeks of riding to work a success. I had stopped at Seaport Village to get an ice cream and stall for time a few blocks short of the goal so I’d pull up right at noon. One of my coworkers who I will not mention was supposed to be there capturing my ride in, but he was too busy eating lunch at the time. (Sorry Tim, no champagne. :) I had a random passerby snag a couple pictures to capture the final moments of my ride.

finish

from Portland to San Diego in three weeks… right on time.

I don’t know if it was the helmet-formed double fauxhawk, the imposing stance of the Hulk bike beside me, or my abundance of sweat, but for whatever reason the person at the Hard Rock front desk offered me an early check-in. Why yes, a shower and change before resuming work would be nice. I popped into lunch with my coworkers to scarf down some calories before ditching the jersey for the last time and resuming life as a civilian. In one hour’s time I was back to work (in body at least).

The meeting kicked off, and I was surprised to see my face up on the projector as my trip was one of the first things mentioned. (I was also surprised there wasn’t a betting pool if I would survive the journey or not… at least I didn’t hear about it.) Someone during the first break came up and said, “wow, you rode a motorcycle from Portland to here?” Uh, no… it was a bicycle. “Wha-wha-WHAT?!?” :) It was definitely the main topic of discussion for me while I was down there, both in person and online.

Most Exciting Moment
Pretty much the whole ride was a highlight. The Dos Equis party at the hotel that evening took the cake for scenery though. (Free beer too!)

Roadkill Report

  • Nothing!

Postscript
The rest of the work week was spent at the team offsite… they tend to pack the schedules in pretty good at these things. Friday afternoon Woody helped me drop off the Hulk bike at the San Diego Bike Shop for boxing and shipping. (A tough moment, saying goodbye to my steed for a while.) He then gave me a lift back to my aunt’s place in Carlsbad, as I would be staying for the weekend to spend some time with family here. This would really be my only “time off” of my whole vacation. :) I ended up partying downtown (blocks from the Hard Rock) with my two college-age cousins and some friends of theirs from England, all of them girls and apparently built with superhuman livers. Not easy keeping up with them especially after three weeks of sobriety, but it was fun trying.

Sunday evening I was back in Portland to be reunited with my son Zach, who I’d missed the most. (Now I just missed the Hulk bike.) Monday was back to the grind; I had an MSDN event in two days’ time to present on my own. Cram time. The next couple weeks were a blur of trying to catch up after a month off, dealing with a slew of events, and spending time with Z. (Last week I had six events over seven days, two on the same day, five where I was presenting.) This is why I haven’t posted these final updates until now.

I’ll have another update or two to close out the chronicles of my journey, but I do want to take this opportunity to say thanks again to everyone who helped support me through my journey, whether it was a place to stay, a lift to town, a riding partner, or an encouraging word to keep the pedals turning. I look forward to rooting you on in your own adventures.

 

PDX to San Diego, Day 21: Carlsbad

9/22/2009 11:28:29 PM

Miles travelled: 76 (1316 total) Average speed: 14.7 MPH
Time on bike: 5:10 Top speed: 35.6 MPH

Today is my last long ride (over 60 miles) of the trip. I enjoyed the Westin’s Heavenly Shower as I took my time to get ready for the day.

I departed the hotel around 10am and stopped shortly thereafter to get my weekly dose of McDonalds for breakfast. After breakfast I proceeded south down the Pacific Coast Highway to make my way out of the LA area.

As I was making my way out of Long Beach, I rode past a skateboarder who caught up with me at a stoplight at the top of a hill. I paced him down the hill; the dude got up over 25mph on his skateboard! Pretty incredible. (And people think I’m crazy!)

The first hour of riding I was focused on one thing – speed. I was riding with only one pannier (a.k.a. bike bag) as my cousin had picked up the other three the night before, so my bike was about 40 pounds lighter than usual. One of my cycling buddies on the East Coast, Peter Laudati, had messaged me about averaging 15.5mph over 40 miles the day prior, which I took as a challenge. For the first hour I averaged over 16mph, but slowed it down a bit after that as I hopped on the bike path in Huntington Beach. (Taking the pack off the mule doesn’t make him a thoroughbred, it turns out. :)

The sky was clear today, the weather in the mid to high 80s throughout. I stopped in Newport Beach for a break and to hydrate with a chocolate Coke and a black cherry vanilla malt, which I guess was my lunch for the day. (I was still full from the double sausage and egg McMuffin breakfast.)

There were rolling hills through the course of the route, particularly in Laguna Beach. San Clemente had me following a bike path through residential streets up and down little hills. Nothing too strenuous… just kept my pace and proceeded onward.

IMG_2134

a memorial to John Cuchessi

Past San Clemente, I followed a bike path that led to (and through) a state park/beach, where I was caught by two older ladies flying on their road bikes. We started talking and they eased up their pace a bit (slowing to 18mph :) so I could keep up. I told them of my trip as we headed south to the edge of Camp Pendleton, where their ride ended for the day.

The ride through Camp Pendleton was pretty straightforward. I heard various conflicting reports about what it would take to get through the base; turns out all I had to do was show my drivers license to get past the guard station. I had asked the guard what model of helicopters were flying past us… he hadn’t a clue. [sigh]

tank

tankity tankity

It was around 4:30pm or so when I was approaching the road out of the base, a long line of cars slowly trickling out that I zoomed past. Reunited with the PCH, I rode through Oceanside on my way to Carlsbad to my aunt’s house, my destination for the evening. It was pretty intense riding up Tamarack, remembering the streets from visiting in years past, but here I was riding them on my bike. Wild.

I arrived at my aunt’s house at 5pm on the dot (I seem to be making a habit of that) and was joyously reunited with the box I’d shipped down before I left, which contained normal clothes, my shaver and beard trimmer, and other personal effects. I spent the evening catching up with my aunt and grandma, enjoying the nighttime weather on the back patio.

One more day!

Most Exciting Moment
Crossing a bridge in Camp Pendleton, I had a car honk as it cut by me. It was an old 70s-era metal monstrosity that gave me the closest call of the trip. It actually wasn’t too bad; were it not for the honk I wouldn’t have thought much of it, but the honk freaked me out for a second there.

Besides that, the whole ride through the base with the tanks, helicopters, grunts doing basic training, etc was a lot of fun. Different scenery than the rest of the trip for sure. :)

Roadkill Report

  • two birds
  • a rat
  • a possum
  • a rabbit
  • unrecognizable mush
  • a cell phone keypad
 

PDX to San Diego, Day 20: I Love LA!

8/25/2009 9:28:14 AM

Miles travelled: 62 (1240 total) Average speed: 13.3 MPH
Time on bike: 4:40 Top speed: 39.3 MPH

Okay, let me first state for the record that I hate Los Angeles with a passion. Exhibit A for car culture run amok, filled with smog and smug, all the celebrity crap… I could go on. It was too nice a place on Earth at some point and too many people wrecked it. I hate going there, I hate being there, I wish it would slip into the ocean already. (Are you getting the picture yet?)

Now that you know how I feel, you may be as surprised as I was at how truly enjoyable today’s ride through the LA area actually was. Most of it was cruising miles of bike paths by the beach, which were sparsely populated thanks to overcast skies and it being Monday.

IMG_2102

my last campsite of the trip… I made an extra big breakfast this morning with the stove

This day on the route had stood out in my head like a ride through Hades. In the morning I opted for my green and white 360 jersey since my other one was orange, and I didn’t want anyone mistaking it for red and busting a cap in my ass when I rode through Compton or Watts or who knows where the bike path would be taking me. (I hope there aren’t gang wars over game consoles.) One guy in camp that morning talked about the route like I would need the Popemobile in order to survive. The cycling guide itself describes the route as harrowing and extremely challenging, riding without shoulders, etc.

Bah I say! It was fun.

I was in Malibu by 10am, rolling over a couple of small hills and wondering if the thick fog would be sticking around all day. I met two other guys touring at this point who were riding with guitars; they had been on tour for the past couple of months all the way down from Seattle.

IMG_2105

the group’s name is Bramble… couldn’t track down a link. They did a century the day before – impressive!

As I got up towards Santa Monica I was flying by literally miles of backed up cars; turns out they had closed off the PCH for what looked like a fallen tree branch that had hit a power line. I made it onto the start of the Los Angeles Bike Path right before the traffic detour and was cruising along the beach.

I stopped in Venice Beach for a disappointing chili dog (there should be a law as to what constitutes a hot dog, and what chili is) and to refill my Gatorade bottle. I went through Gatorade like crazy today for some reason.

I reached a point where the bike path headed away from the beach and started having to consult the directions in my camera again. I passed two girls on bikes, followed some path I was told to take, and then saw the two girls ahead of me again sometime later. Figuring they knew where they were going much better than I did, I rode with them for the next few miles until Manhattan Beach or so, where I made a pit stop. I passed them again in Hermosa as I cruised along at a decent pace.

IMG_2117

oil tankers offshore as I cruise the path

In Redondo Beach I reached a section where I had to walk my bike and lo and behold they have dipped ice cream cones, I’m not passing that up. I grabbed a dipped cone and a churro for more nutrients before the bike path was about to end and I’d be back on the PCH battling it out with the cars.

When I went to throw away my churro wrapper, I heard some guy say “HEY WHITEY, YOU BEST BE EATIN’ THAT, THAT ONE’S FOR YOU!” I looked up thinking he might be talking to me (and wondering how this was going to turn out) and saw an I’m-guessing-homeless couple feeding a flock of pigeons, with one white seagull in the middle of them. I laughed and started to talk with them, the conversation naturally ending up about my trip. The guy said “one time I rode my bike from here to San Diego – it took me eight days to get there. I got to that base down there and they wouldn’t let me ride through since I’m an ex-felon, so I had to go around.” I had a newfound appreciation for my clean rap sheet and was soon on my way.

The ride onto the Pacific Coast Highway and through Torrance was not as scenic as the bike path by the beach was, but it wasn’t a bad ride. It was around 4pm and traffic was good, and for the most part I had a whole lane to myself. I talked with some kids on the side of the road at a stoplight who were digging the bike, and had some other people wave and give me the thumbs up as I rode by… some bike supporters even down here as well. Not a single car honk, gunshot, or grenade the whole time as I rode towards Long Beach.

I made it to my hotel at 5pm and astonished the front desk staff with having ridden my bike here from Portland. I brought the bike in so they could check it out, but they were more interested in checking out my legs. [sigh]

After a shower (Westin heavenly shower with the dual shower heads… ahhhh) and some online time I met up with my SoCal buds Mark Rosenberg and Daniel Egan, who treated me to dinner at Gladstone’s down by the water a few blocks away. My cousin Vannessa swung by on her way up to Hollywood and she picked up most of my gear; she’d be at my aunt’s house when I get there tomorrow, and I don’t need my hammock, pots & pans, etc anymore. Tomorrow I will be like a rocket on the newly svelte Hulk bike as I escape from LA and make my way to Carlsbad.

Most Exciting Moment
Girls in bikinis playing beach volleyball. When I get home I’m going to have some elaborate letterhead made with the gold leaf and calligraphy and the heavy paper stock and all that, and write a fancy letter thanking the guy who invented it. Now I can see why people would put up with all the other crap in LA in order to live here.

Roadkill Report

  • A gardening nozzle for a water hose
  • snake
  • grey glove
  • bird