My Favorite Albums Released in 2007

List appears in no particular order

  • The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
  • Fennesz – Endless Summer
  • Brother Kite – Waiting for the time to be right
  • Rouge Wave – Asleep at Heaven’s Gate
  • Trembling Blue Stars – The Last Holy Writer
  • Film School – Hideout
  • The Sea and Cake – Everybody
  • Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • Pelican – City Of Echoes
  • The National – Boxer
  • Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends
  • Editors – An End Has A Start
  • Dragons – Here are the Roses
  • The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are Dark Horses
  • Air – Pocket Symphony
  • LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

Sheldon Brown Rest In Peace

Sheldon Brown – July 14, 1944 – February 3, 2008

sheldon2.jpgBicycle enthusiast and expert mechanic Sheldon Brown died of a heart attack on Sunday, February 3rd. Though I never met Sheldon Brown I’ve often consulted his website and articles for technical advice. Especially in terms of fixed-gear bikes. Sheldon was one of the most knowledgeable and well known bike mechanics out there.

>> Read Article on Bike Snob NYC

>> Sheldon Brown on Wikipedia

>> Sheldon at Harris Cyclery

First Dusting of Snow In Aurora

first snow in Aurora

Winter is here! Today I looked out my window and saw it was snowing. It’s just a dusting but enough to get me excited for the possibility of a decent winter. Last year I only go out on skis once due to a bum knee. I am hoping to do quite a bit more this year.

Winter Bike Training with rollers

For staying fit through winter, conditioning myself for ski season, and keeping stress down through excercise I use training rollers. Rollers are a great way to improve endurance and balance. Usually they cost anywhere between $100 to $400. I got these parabolic rollers from Performance Bicycle as a gift for my birthday a few years back. Usually I’ll try to ride 6 to 8 miles on the rollers every morning at an average speed between 18 and 20 miles per hour.

Rollers are tough to get used to. There is no coasting, once you stop pedaling the rollers stop and you’ll lose balance. there is enough resistance with the set of rollers that I have that I get a better workout per mile on rollers than on street riding. For the first year I used rollers I had to position them in between a doorway so I could hold myself up and keep my balance. Now I’ve gotten used to them and don’t need them in a doorway.

If your interested in trying rollers and your a mountain biker you’ll need to start by getting a set of slick tires. Knobby tires wont work with the rollers and even with slicks on, they are still pretty loud. I use my rollers upstairs in my spare bedroom with a dampening mat underneath them. I had to put a board on top of the mat because otherwise the rollers would rub on the carpet. I’d also recommend using platform pedals as opposed to clipless. I’ve used clipless with rollers and It can be a bit scary. It’ll be a bit difficult too with a suspension fork. I find rollers much easier on my track bike than on my front suspension mountain bike. I wouldn’t even attempt to ride them on my full suspension. skiing game

Here’s a pretty cool online skiing game to waste time on.

> Play Trysil Twintip Skiing Game | digg story.

I’ve managed to waste quite a bit of time playing this game and getting stoked for the upcoming ski season. Hopefully we’ll have a good ski season and I’ll be able to get out more. Skiing and Cycling are my two favorite things, and last ski season, with a knee injury from biking and a shortage of funds, I was only able to get out once. This year I am hoping to rack up more days on skis.

Ardastra Gardens Zoo // Nassau, Bahamas

While we were vacationing in the Bahamas this summer, we experienced quite a bit of rain and weather that was not ideal for going to the beach. We decided that rather than sit on the boat all day or go to resorts and lose money to the slot machines, we’d go for a walk in the rain. The rain actually slowed down quite a bit and once outside of the port, our walk became quite interesting. The Bahamas isn’t as nice as you see in commercials, most of it is pretty run down, the public beaches have more trash on them than the Lake Michigan beaches in Chicago.

After walking for sometime we saw a sign for the Ardastra Gardens Zoo. We decided to check it out. It was actually the best zoo experience I’ve ever had. There were no crowds. Several of the animals including a pot-bellied pig and lots of flamingos were not even caged and free to walk throughout the zoo. Here are some pictures I shot on my Canon G7.

an angry parrot

tiger behind bars

curious george


a pink flamingo


midget goat

Here is a brief Description of the zoo from their website:

Ardastra Gardens was first opened to the public in 1937. It was the brain child of Hedley Vivian Edwards, a Jamaican horticulturalist, who wanted to create a luscious garden here in the heart of Nassau. This was not an easy task as the area in those days was more of a marshland than a lush garden. He named it the Ardastra Gardens after the Jamaican defense force motto, Ardastra, which came from the latin, Ardua astrum, literally meaning “Striving for the stars”.

In the 1950’s flamingos in the Bahamas were nearly hunted to the point of extinction. The Government at that time brought flamingos to Ardastra Gardens as an experiment to try breeding them in captivity. The breeding was not very successful but the flamingos certainly became quite an attraction in the gardens. Mr. Edwards then decided to begin training the flamingos to do a march for his guests and they have been marching ever since. The flamingos were featured in the National Geographic magazine in the October 1957 issue as nobody had trained flamingos to be comfortable around people before and so people could come closer to the flamingos in Ardastra compared to anywhere else in the world.

Oro Grande to Tenderfoot

satelite view courtesy of Google Earth

This is a good intermediate ride. I’d say intermediate because of the elevation changes. If you are from the Midwest like me some of the climbs may be a bit more difficult to tackle. Start by heading up Landfill Road right across from Keystone Resort. Be watch out for big trucks heading up and down this road. Once at the top, go through the gates on the left and take the singletrack switchback that heads further up the mountain. This trail will eventually lead into the Oro Grande Trail.

The Oro Grande is a double track wide trail, smooth in some parts and rocky and jagged in others, with not much of an elevation change. From the Oro Grande you can get some great views of Lake Dillon. I believe if you stay on The Oro Grande Trail, it will join up with a few other trails and you can go as far as the Eisenhower Tunnel. It will also Branch off towards Silverthorne if you want to take the paved path back to Keystone.

After awhile on the Oro Grande, You’ll see a trailhead for the Tenderfoot Trail on the right side which switchbacks all the way up tenderfoot mountain. I am not sure if this trail is open to bikes or not. There are no signs posted which prohibit bikes and after doing some research I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer. But when I was there I headed up the trail. My Map image of the Tenderfoot Trail May not be very accurate but it gives a general idea of the trail. This trail weaves in and out of the woods as it switchbacks up Tenderfoot Mountain. It’s a pretty steep trail and can be difficult. I heard some loud thunder and didn’t want to get stuck out there in the rain so I headed back. The Downhill part was really sweet. Next time I’m out there I am going to try and make it further up Tenderfoot Mountain, as well as explore some of the trails that branch off Oro Grande.

Keystone to Breck

satelite view courtesy of Google Earth

This summer my brother and I found a good bike route from Keystone to Breckenridge. What was planned as a quick warm up ended up being a pretty exhausting long ride. Us Midwesterners are not used to the Colorado climbs.

Our ride started up Keystone Gulch road right outside the condo. After about 3.5 miles of a slow but steady incline, somewhere right around the base of the Outback, we switched over to the West Ridge. The West Ridge is an uphill battle on an old logging road. It switches back and forth and the elevation change is pretty rapid…

We had intended on taking the West Ridge Loop back around into Keystone Gulch Road and taking that back down to the base of the mountain but somehow we ended up on the Colorado Trail…

It was a great ride down but once we got to the bottom…

We realized we’d ended up in Breckenridge. We were to tired to backtrack uphill and head back that way so we decided to head out towards Frisco. By the time we reached Frisco it started raining so we took the Summit Stage back to the Condo at Keystone. Next year I am bringing a GPS for sure.

Keystone Bike Park

Images courtesy of keystone resort

This summer me and my brother had the opportunity to ride the lifts at Keystone Mountain and experience some of their trails. It’s great to be able to take the chair up to the top of the mountain. Most of the trails cut across the mountain and run a decent length. On average it took us about a half hour to get down to the bottom. by the end of the day our arms and the palms of our hands were sore from the vibration of absorbing the terrain while going downhill, even with suspension and gloves. It is a bit intimidating riding at keystone because everyone is dressed in full-face helmets, body armor and their bikes look more like motorcycles without the motor. We avoided most of the freeride terrain and stuck to riding the xc trails which were crazy enough.

Here’s a few pics of from the lift and a few of us riding.

I made a new friend yesterday

Yesterday when I was Bike riding along the Illinois Prairie Path I met up with this guy near west chicago. This is probably the third big turtle I’ve seen on the path in the past year. These guys like to come right out in the middle of the path and just bake in the sun. This one seemed friendly enough for a few photos.

Turtle on the IPP

Turtle on the IPP

Recycling around the Office

I’ve made an attempt to start a recycling program at work. At my last job I was pretty much put in charge of getting people to recycle and my duties consisted of supplying everyone with a cardboard bin for their paper and extra bins in the lunch room for their recyclables. At Weblinx, so far we have one main box up front in which we store our plastic and paper. I keep a cardboard box under my desk to put used paper in. Rather than putting this paper in the recycling bin, I am hoping to re-use it as scrap paper or to print my project reports on. Recycling paper can cost money and energy. If I am able to reuse it again before recycling it then that is ultimatly better. It’s better to use less than to just figure “oh well I am recycling so it doesn’t matter how much I use” We should be creating less waste, whether it is recyclable waste or non-recyclable.

Commuting to Work

Image courtesy of google eartrh

I’ve been commuting to work by bicycle in an effort to stay fit for mountain biking. I’ve got a pretty good 10 mile home-to-work route figured out. I am blessed because about 8 of the 10 miles is on paved bike paths. I live about 2 miles from the Virgil Gilman Trail in Aurora. From the Gilman Trail, I meet up with the Fox River trail and take that all the way into downtown Oswego where I work. I try to ride as much as I can. Most weeks I am able to commute every day unless I have meetings outside of the office.

Some Essential Gear for Commuting:

Strong Non-knobby Tires
tiresBoth my bikes are mountain bikes so purchasing a set of street tires was important. I managed to pick up a pair of slick tires from Performance pretty cheap when I bought my rollers for winter training. I was able to use those although they aren’t quite strong enough to handle some of the terrain. Although my commute is primarily on paved bike paths, there are sections of the path which can be torn up or covered by fallen branches, or broken glass. It’s good to have a thicker tire to avoid punctures, however, a traditional mountain bike tire has too much rolling resistance. I have a pair of Michelin Dry XC tires that aren’t too knobby, however after riding everyday they can wear down pretty quick. I’d prefer a tire like the Continental Town and Country as soon as I can find a pair of them on sale. Although next year I might pickup a cheap beater road bike for commuting.

A Bell
bike bellThat’s right, your friends will laugh at you but who cares. When I ride the paths in the morning through Aurora I pass plenty of people who don’t speak much English, or others who just don’t understand the meaning of “On your Left!” With a bell I am able to announce that I am coming without speaking.

Platform Pedals
bike bellTypically when I ride I prefer clipless pedals, however I hate wearing my bike shoes at work all day and there isn’t enough room in my messenger bag for an extra pair of shoes. I was able to get a decent pair of platform pedals pretty cheap from Blue Sky Cycling and they’ve been great.

Messenger Bag
a few years back for my birthday, my girlfriend bought me a Timbuk2 messenger bag. This has been a commuting must have for me. Timbuk2 bags are great because they also have a support strap which goes across your chest as opposed to just the shoulder strap. I can clip on a reflector light and I have enough room inside the bag to fit a folder with my work papers, my breakfast and lunch for the day, and a dry shirt and pants for changing into once I get to work.

This is another necessity. If you are going to be riding to work you have to take others into account. I work up a pretty good sweat when I ride whether it’s 90 degrees of 40 degrees, and my co-workers shouldn’t have to deal with my sweat. I always keep deodorant at work.

Bike tools, Pump, spare tube or patches
When you ride every day, your bound to get a flat every once-in-awhile. It’s important to have the right tools to make a repair or fix a flat quickly so you’re not late for work.

When I ride singletrack I am a purist and the sound of my tires on the dirt and that of the trees in the wind is enough for me. However when I am riding to work, I find I can ride faster with tunes. I always keep the volume low so I am able to hear cars and people over the sound of the music. I have a wired remote which I can clip to my shirt near my neck so I can change song or volume level on my ipod without digging it out of my back pocket.

Weblinx Website Redesign

We recently updated our company website for the summer 2007 season. I had quite a bit to do with the graphics and flash animation for our new site. As before, the site has both a daytime version and a night time version (the night time version appears after 7pm). We also decided to continue to do a hybrid flash/html site. Since we rely heavily on Search Engines marketing, we thought this would be best. I am hoping to submit this site for awards as soon as we have everything fully functional.

>> Check out our new Weblinx Site.

Fonetica – Basso Continuo Download

I’m posting a free download of the Album “Basso Continuo” that I recorded with Alex Karwatowicz back in 1997. This album was originally released under futura records but since it’s 10 years old I’ve decided to post it as a free download. Both Alex and I have come along way musically since then. Also the software and hardware we were using was very primitive compared to today’s equipment and software. Most of the sequencing was done using midi outboard gear and analog equipment. Feel free to share this album with friends and post your thoughts on this thread.

>> Download Album (90mb) (right click and select “save as”)

My prints for sale on ImageKind

I recently put some artwork up for sale on I’ve been looking for a way to print larger scale one-offs of some of the digital artwork I’ve been creating. This seems to be the solution. Image kind offers a variety of paper types, frames, you can even print to canvas. I haven’t yet purchased a print so I don’t know how the good the quality is, but You can upload really high res artwork, and setup an artist profile for free. Imagekind even offers marketing tools such as the flash banner to the right. Once I order some prints I’ll be sure and post how they turned out.

>> Click here to view my gallery on imagekind.