Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spooky Morning Ride

It was unusually foggy here on Friday morning.  I stopped to take this photo on Cornwallis Rd in RTP when I saw the spooky lights in the sky ahead (click to enlarge).  It wasn't daybreak.  It was just light pollution from a small parking lot.

Now I say that I stopped to snap a photo...

...but the goosebumps also subsided.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Burroughs Wellcome Headquarters Tour

I ride past the former Burroughs Wellcome pharmecutical research & development campus every day on my bike commute.  The headquarters building, finished in 1971, was the architectural highlight of the then-new Research Triangle Park.  Architectural aficionados have always loved this futuristic building.  (Click left photo to enlarge.)

The building was so futuristic, that many scenes in the 1983 science fiction movie 'Brainstorm' were filmed inside and outside the campus (wikipedia) (trailer)  And one of the characters in the film commuted to work on a Ryan Recumbents Avatar (backstory).   In homage to the film and to the recumbent, I posed my bike in front of the main entrance (Click the photo at right to enlarge).

Fast forward to 2012, and the campus has been empty for ten years due to corporate acquisitions.  The campus has recently been bought by yet-another company, who graciously allowed the local Triangle Modernist Houses society to sponsor a tour today before major renovations begin.

We went on the tour.  We walked through several floors inside the headquarters building and roamed the grounds.  It was very neat.

Enjoy two photo albums:
Outside of the building:  the futuristic exterior and lush grounds
Inside the building:   the lobby, auditorium, executive suites, conference rooms, roof decks, cafeteria, etc.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Another good reason to bike-commute...

Traffic was crawling on I-40 westbound this afternoon as far as the eye could see, in both directions. I effortlessly glided over I-40 on an overpass.

PS: You can see my shadow in the bottom left, holding out the panda camera.  Yes, I stopped riding to take the photo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RUSA Permanent Locations Map

It was just over two years ago that I got the idea to create a Google Map showing the starting locations of all RUSA permanents.  My original goal was to make it easy to find permanents when I went travelling on business trips.  But I found it even more useful to discover new perms which had been created in my own back yard.

The RUSA permanent program has been incredibly successful.  The number of perms has more than doubled since I started the map.  As of last night, there were 1690 active perms in existence.

But a side effect of this success is that the data being plotted on the map grew to where it far exceeded the limitations of the mapping engine being used.  As a result, the map intermittently appeared very erratic, sometimes hiding the perms in cities, sometimes sending users off to the Atlantic Ocean near Africa (where latitude and longitude are both zero).

Users noticed.  As the number of problem reports increased this past summer, I started looking into alternative mapping engines.  Thanks to a suggestion from the RUSA webmaster (actually one of his many excellent suggestions), I decided to convert everything over to use the map engine in Google's Fusion Tables.  Google says there are huge capacity limits in this service, so I am hoping it will last for a good while longer.  As part of the change, the map is now maximized full-screen, the left-hand column is gone, the list of perms in each pop-up is now columnized, and each list of perms is now sorted by distance.  All that, and it seems to run a bit faster for me too.

And it hasn't sent anyone into the ocean yet.

Click on the photo at left to acccess the new map.  And let me know if you see any problems.

PS: Smart web programmers can make wonderful map presentations using data from Google Fusion Tables.  Let me know if you'd like to create fancier or more useful maps to share with RUSA members.  You are welcome to access the data.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Meet Merino"

I spotted this sign at The Limited clothing store in a local mall.  I immediately wondered if they were selling winter bicycling clothes.

Umm, no.

But lady cyclists might get some useful gear cheap at their 'end of winter season' sales...  ...in December!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Halloween Preparations on the Tar Heel 200K

Jayjay and I rode the RUSA Tar Heel 200K in eastern North Carolina yesterday.  Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but already we saw a dozen houses decked out in full.  They looked really great in the dark before sunrise.  The house in the photo had what looked like a real casket in their yard (click to enlarge).  Another house had a huge inflatable black cat towering over their front lawn.  At the end of our ride, we passed a family decorating their yard and I yelled out a compliment.  In response, their attack dog charged us.  Ha.

In the 'kindness of strangers' category, as we approached a guy on a riding mower blowing a cloud of dirt and debris into our path, I yelled a warning to Jayjay to hold her breath and close one eye when we passed.  Instead, the guy saw us coming and stopped his mower.  How nice!

Enjoy a few assorted photos:  here

A great day on the bikes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Snaps of the commute

On my ride home today, I first came upon this crane installing a fancy new sign (click left photo to enlarge).  Two workers were up in a bucket with the sign, bolting it into place.  Very neat.

Then I laughed as I watched a clueless motorist stop in line behind the white trailer, intending to make a right turn.  It took him about ten seconds to grasp the situation and pull around the big rigs.

A mile or so later, I passed these huge valves being swapped (right photo).    The new ones have been sitting on the ground for a few days, and the blue paint is incredibly bright.  It absolutely glows in the sun every afternoon.  My camera doesn't do it justice.