COVID-19: The New Face of Bicycling

Eastbound on the Walkway Over the Hudson, which asks everyone to mask up:

The New Face of Bicycling - Ed masked - 2020-05-21
The New Face of Bicycling – Ed masked – 2020-05-21

Homebrew cloth masks mostly protect you, not me, but they’re still a reasonable way to tamp down the infection rate.

You’d (well, I’d) like to know the population infection rate, but we don’t have enough random testing to justify a number. Current testing remains biased toward those most likely to be infected, so the 15% cumulative rate (total positive / total tested) is certainly a gross overestimate and the 4% daily rate (new positive today / tested today) is still biased upward..

We figure the real population rate is well under 4%, which means we don’t encounter many infected folks out there.

But even 4% means staying isolated is the only way to prevent another wave of infection and another 23,000 deaths (in NY). The Mid-Hudson region has yet to meet all the state criteria for “restarting”, although Dutchess County has recently become ready, so we’ll be continuing all our usual at-home activities.

A number of state are now “opening up” without worrying about the details. Because exponential growth starts very slowly and the dying begins three weeks after the infections, the CNN charts (near the bottom of the page) will be revealing; we’ll witness several large-scale epidemiology experiments in real time over the next few months.

We have enough data to know anybody in and beyond our age bracket has plenty to worry about.

I think if any single action other than a virus killed 100,000 US citizens in three months, there wouldn’t be nearly as much discussion about the correct response. On the other paw, COVID-19 still runs a little under the rate for heart disease, so it seems we can get used to dying, even in bulk, when we do it long enough.

Nissan Fog Lamp: Salvage & Lens Clearing

The debris field from a recent high-energy collision with a utility pole just north of Red Oaks Mill included another attractive hunk of jewelry:

Nissan Fog Lamp - as found
Nissan Fog Lamp – as found

I asked the guy who runs the towing service across the intersection if this was a “high-performance car / low-performance driver” situation. He said “Nah, the car was a piece of crap.” It apparently collided with the pole after pulling out of the adjacent gas station with entirely too much foot on the throttle; the young driver was last seen having considerable difficulty with a field sobriety test.

Anyhow, the labeling suggests it’s the right-side fog light from a Nissan car.

After removing various shattered plastic mounts and scrubbing off the obvious dirt, the lens didn’t look much better:

Nissan Fog Lamp - as-found lens
Nissan Fog Lamp – as-found lens

The bright triangle is one facet of the hood over the 55 W halogen bulb. The lens seems to be covered with a scattershot coat of gray spray paint or primer, rather than ordinary road grime, applied with surprising uniformity over the entire surface.

A quick wet-sand operation with 400 through 3000 grit paper, then some Simichrome, cleaned it up pretty well:

Nissan Fog Lamp - semi-cleared lens
Nissan Fog Lamp – semi-cleared lens

Repeating the whole process, this time with a vigorous circular motion:

Nissan Fog Lamp - cleared lens
Nissan Fog Lamp – cleared lens

It’s definitely got a used-car finish: nice polish over deep gouges.

Look closely to see 400 grit diagonal scratches headed upward to the right; I must use 600 or 800 grit paper between the 400 and 1000. I don’t care about optical clarity, just knocking back the worst of the damage will suffice.

Methinks it would look pretty with internal RGB LED lighting, although the optics are obviously set up for a halogen filament just under the edge of the internal hood. If I get it just right, the thing could project a beam across the room …

Tour Easy: Baofeng Radio PTT Cable Glitch

The signal from the Baofeng UV-5R HT tucked behind the seat of my Tour Easy became exceedingly choppy on recent rides. Here’s an earlier version to give you an idea of the situation:

Radio in seat wedge pack in bottle holder
Radio in seat wedge pack in bottle holder

Of course, it worked perfectly in the garage and only failed while on a ride. The clue turned out to be having it fail more on rough roads and crappy scab patches (courtesy of NSYDOT) than on relatively smooth asphalt.

That led me to wiggle of All The Cables while crouched beside the bike in the garage, listening to another HT, and watching the transmit LED. After about five minutes of this, I found wiggling the 3.5 mm connector between the cable from the PTT button on the handlebar and the radio blinked the transmit LED: ah-HA!

The connector had worked itself loose from the straps holding the radio pack in place, pulled some slack in the cable, and was bouncing around in mid-air. A wrap of duct tape now holds the connector halves together, the upper loop passes around the Velco-ish strap, and the lower loop (from the PTT button) goes through the bottom of the repurposed bottle holder:

Tour Easy - Baofeng PTT cable connection
Tour Easy – Baofeng PTT cable connection

No trouble on the next two rides, so we’ll call it fixed.

Protip: it’s always the connector.

Monthly Image: Albino Squirrel

We’re riding home with groceries when a small white shape scampered across a yard and jumped onto a stump:

Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 - 680 crop
Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 – 680 crop

If you’ve ever seen a gray squirrel, you’ll recognize the shape, even in this gritty enlargement:

Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 - 680 - detail crop
Albino Squirrel 2020-03-03 – 680 – detail crop

Wikipedia says this one is likely a leucistic white squirrel, rather than a true albino squirrel. There is, of course, a website. tracking “white squirrel” sightings.

The relevant coordinates, for science:

41°41'39.9"N 73°52'56.6"W
41.694410, -73.882374

Can’t say if this one had black or pink eyes, but it was pure white!

Batmax NP-BX1 Batteries

Having recently lost one of the year-old DOT-01 batteries, a quartet of Batmax NP-BX1 batteries for the Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera just arrived:

Batmax DOT-01 Wasabi NP-BX1 - 2020-04
Batmax DOT-01 Wasabi NP-BX1 – 2020-04

The orange curve is the last surviving (“least dead”) Wasabi battery from the 2017-08 batch and the dark green curve just above it is another DOT-01 from 2019-02. The problem is not so much their reduced capacity, but their grossly reduced voltage-under-load that triggers a premature camera shutdown.

The Batmax batteries measure better than the craptastic Wasabi batteries, worse than the STK batteries, and should survive the next year of riding. As before, I have zero belief that Amazon would send me a “genuine” Sony NP-BX1 battery, even at six times the nominal price, nor that it would perform six times better.

Batmax is one of many randomly named Amazon Marketplace sellers offering seemingly identical NP-BX1 batteries: Newmowa, Miady, Powerextra, Pickle Power, LP, Enegon, and so forth. Mysteriously, it’s always cheaper to get a handful of batteries and a charger, rather than just the batteries, so I now have a two-socket USB charger:

Batmax NP-BX1 - USB dual charger
Batmax NP-BX1 – USB dual charger

Despite the “5 V 2 A – 10 W” and “4.2 V 0.6 A – 5 W” label on the back, charging a pair of batteries after a ride started at 700 mA from a USB 3.0 port. The charger makes no claims about USB 3 compliance, so I’d expect it to top out around 1 A from a generously specified port.

Losing the Battery Bag

Because the cheap batteries I use in the Sony HDR-AS30V camera provide just slightly less runtime than our longest usual ride after a year of use, I carry a spare battery in a small red felt bag. The bag also holds a USB card reader helping to make the MicroSD card somewhat less lose-able on its trips betwixt bike & desk.

Here I am, swapping batteries in Adam’s Fairacre parking lot before starting the trip home:

Losing the Red Bag - setup - 2019-02-25
Losing the Red Bag – setup – 2019-02-25

You can see it coming, right?

Eight minutes later, we’re turning onto the Dutchess County Rail Trail:

Losing the Battery Bag - flight - 2019-02-25
Losing the Battery Bag – flight – 2019-02-25

And then it’s gone:

Losing the Battery Bag - gone - 2019-02-25
Losing the Battery Bag – gone – 2019-02-25

Mary drove past there on her way to a distant meeting, but the little red bag was not to be found anywhere. Maybe it’ll reappear on a fence post or taped to the bulletin board; I’ve tried to return things I’ve found that way.

I expect somebody got a nice present and, if naught else, it’s good to drop happiness into the world.

There’s another reader and a quartet of batteries on their way.