5 simple chemistry facts that everyone should understand before talking about science

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Even with only first year Chemistry.

The Logic of Science

One of the most ludicrous things about the anti-science movement is the enormous number of arguments that are based on a lack of knowledge about high school level chemistry. These chemistry facts are so elementary and fundamental to science that the anti-scientists’ positions can only be described as willful ignorance, and these arguments once again demonstrate that despite all of the claims of being “informed free-thinkers,” anti-scientists are nothing more than uninformed (or misinformed) science deniers. Therefore, in this post I am going to explain five rudimentary facts about chemistry that you must grasp before you are even remotely qualified to make an informed decision about medicines, vaccines, food, etc.

1). Everything is made of chemicals

This seems like a simple concept, but many people seem to struggle greatly with it, so let’s get this straight: all matter is made of chemicals (excluding subatomic particles). You consist entirely of chemicals…

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Broke another rear wheel, found a wheelset

True

I like my wheels true. I built two 27″ wheels under the tutelage of Dr Charles Coin in 1988 for my old tourer with DT Swiss double-butted spokes. The spokes were probably worth more than the rest of the wheel. The 2-cross front wheel has been trued once. The 3-cross rear wheel held together after a nasty slide into a gutter and was laced onto a new rim. I only retired that wheel when the cluster freewheel seized and it refused to unscrew from the hub.

Wobble

My Trek Domane 4.5 came with Bontrager Race TLR wheels. Asymmetric rear  wheel suggests strength and quality. Sadly, there was a manufacturing defect that machined the rim too thin. The result was all 12 drive-side spokes pulled through to some extent. I rode home gently, took the wheel to Bike Culture and received a warranty replacement, no fuss.

Last Sunday I noticed a slight wobble in the rear wheel. I trued it up a little and took a 100km ride. Friday morning I took the wheel in for a proper truing. Immediately the mechanic noticed a crack in the rim around a spoke nipple. (He found 2 more later.)

IMG_1945
A pulled spoke, yesterday. And 2 years ago.

I was looking for a new wheel anyway, knowing that a warranty replacement would not be ready for a Saturday ride, but I did expect a warranty. Just before lunch my LBS called to say that the wheels was more than 2 years old and was therefore not covered by warranty. As nearly as I can tell, the last wheel failed on 26 July 2014 and was replaced about a week later… so it was just 2 years. In any case, how does this happen to a wheel if not for a manufacturing defect?

Sure, I am 195cm tall and 110kg heavy; however, I don’t ride aggressively or race. What forces can pull spokes through the rim, especially on an asymmetric rear wheel?

A bit desperate

Lunchtime Friday I rang a number of LBS looking for Mavic Ksyrium Elite or something from the Super Clydesdale website list. Nothing in stock.

Late afternoon I contacted Ride365, who suggested Campagnolo Khamsin as a quick replacement. But when I arrived, Paul suggested a wheelset that he had built for a cycling team. H Plus Son Archetype rims with Novatech hubs and QR skewers. About 1600g and probably $750 a set.

Then something remarkable happened. Paul took the wheels off a bike and offered them to me as a loan!  He fitted the cassette from my old wheel, took my details and wished me well. What a gent!

What a ride!

I only managed a short ride on Saturday after a 1 hour indoor session. It was very windy and cold (2c) and I had to stop under a service station awning for 15 minutes during a rainstorm.  The 4 PRs I set were probably down to the 40km/h tailwind.

Sunday’s ride was much longer. Almost immediately I noticed that the wheels felt smoother and more comfortable. None of the occasional dead feeling over bumps.(My rear wheel may have been dead for months.)

Faster? I didn’t think that 100g would make a difference, but it seemed to.

I will gladly build them myself, though maybe with 32 spokes at the back to be safe.

Throwing objects at vehicles now a criminal offence in ACT

Now here’s an interesting thing in light of my recent experience… on Friday 9 June 2016 the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the Justice and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, and one of the amendments was to specifically target that act. The explanatory statement 5 May 2016 (PDF) reads,

The Bill introduces a specific offence in the Crimes Act 1900 to clarify that the practice of throwing or directing objects at vehicles (including riders of bicycles) is criminal conduct.

and further…

There is no specific offence presently prohibiting this conduct in ACT legislation, either in the Crimes Act or road transport legislation. Prosecution of this behaviour using existing offences (such as assault) is possible but problematic.

I doubt that it would have made much difference in my particular case as the ‘assailant’ was motivated to admit to the incident. However, like the 1 metre rule sets a standard that can be reasonably adjudged, so too that act of throwing or directing and object at any vehicle can’t be argued down under the ‘no harm, no foul’ schoolyard rule.

NBN backup battery can be recharged

My NBN backup battery was beeping; calling for its replacement.The alarm silence button didn’t seem to silence the beeping for long. As my installation was 3 years old, the battery was no longer covered by warranty.

Surely it is just a battery. However, the guide suggests that the battery is very particular, such as an emphasis on unusually-sized terminals.

As luck would have it, I had a spare battery from a 13 year-old alarm system with similar specs: same 12 volts, same 7.2Ah capacity, slightly smaller terminals. The battery had run two sirens and a strobe for over 10 minutes, so it was capable if just a little bit flat.

Before I swapped them over, I put both through a full recharge from my spiffy CTEK MXS 5.0. This charger will work down to 1.2 Ah on its motorcycle mode.

Charging the NBN battery worked a treat. I refitted the battery and the battery warning alarm has been silent since.

Charging the alarm battery failed; the charger would not progress from the first of its 7 phases so the battery was a brick.

The irony of all of this is that the backup battery does nothing to keep my VOIP online.

Egg, a scramble, and a happy ending (to come)

The steep and empty streets of the new Moncrieff  development are great for hill intervals. It will take a few months before house construction makes the streets a bit too busy and dirty. But now, it is good for maximum efforts at up to 10% grade.

After a gut-busting (I hope) series of intervals I took a moderate ride home; apart from a blast up Heritage Park Pinch (Forde) for a PR.

Egg

I was only 200m from home when I was hit on the back of the arm by an egg! I wobbled a bit, noticed the egg on the handlebars and the shells on the road and found the car.

My trusty #Fly6 camera was recording.  Top Tip: When an incident occurs, immediately read the number plate out aloud “for the benefit of the tape”.

I decided to ride to the Police Station to make a report immediately; repeating the number to help remember it.

Scramble

But then I saw the car straight ahead at the end of the road. I was heading in that direction and though they had a 500m head start I picked up my pace. As luck would have it the car was stopped at traffic lights opposite the Police station! I sprinted to the car, banged on the driver’s window, exchanged some choice words, showed them the camera and calmly walked across the road to make a report. (I wonder what the two cars waiting behind made of it.)

My MaxHR on the hill intervals was 180-185. My MaxHR at the traffic lights was 192!

I read the W on the plate as an M, but the officer was able to match the car. The officer took my details and a few photos of my eggy handlebars and eggy arm and asked for the video; on CD (!) if possible. I went home to clean up.

After failed attempts at editing 15 minutes of video down to the 30 seconds required without a massive drop in video quality and then not being able to burn a DVD, I took the memory card and laptop to the station.

Happy ending…

‘I’ve had a busy night’ said the constable upon my return. As luck (and a sudden burst of good sense) would have it, the driver had visited the station to make a statement (‘it wasn’t me, it was him’) and soon afterwards the assailant walked in with his parents to make a full admission.

The constable told me that he had made the danger and stupidity of the act quite clear; what could happen if a cyclist falls in traffic! Apparently the parents were livid… and the kid wants to be a policeman when he grows up.

to come…

Because of his full admission I have elected to have ‘restorative justice’, as I think that it will make a greater impression than a Court or a caution. This is an arbitrated process where we will meet in a controlled atmosphere and I can ask for ‘restoration’. It must be reasonable. For example if a window was broken, restoration might be payment for the window. Or it might be a spot of gardening.

I wondered if volunteering at a Pedal Power event might be suitable, but it might be a bit hard to explain. “No, Brian isn’t a cyclist.He threw an egg at me so now he has to mix gerry cans of sports drink.”

At the moment I am tending towards just an apology. And perhaps 500 words on the subject “why a metre matters.” (This post is about 600 words.)

And most importantly, because of his full admission I will NOT be posting the video.

Kyoto Marathon 2016 – Spectator report

It’s a bit tricky to watch a marathon; 42.195 km around a closed track would be good for spectators, but would be hell for the 16,000 participants.  By the way, 16,000 starters took up 3/4 of two regulation running tracks shoulder to shoulder, so a track event is out of the question.  Incredibly, all 16,000 passed the start line in less than 15 minutes.

Why does Kyoto have a marathon?

As we’ve seen, Japan has an obsessive love of running that might not be as obvious as its love of karaoke, extraordinary food or pop idols, but it is every bit as powerful.  Of the top 100 male marathon runners, about 94 are African and 6 are Japanese.  Of the top 100 female marathon runners, about 85 are African and about 12 are Japanese. [The Way of the Runner]

Don’t take this the wrong way, but the Kyoto Marathon is mostly about giving runners a beautiful view of a beautiful city.  The narrow roads and dirt riverside paths don’t lend themselves to a serious race.  However, the sights, the extensive menu of of energy snacks and the regular and enthusiastic cheer squads give it a special character.

And as with most things, there are important concepts that must also be combined.

Great Eastern Earthquake commemoration

The first Kyoto Marathon was held on 11 March 2012. A number of runners from the affected areas can run for free, and they wore purple ribbons to signify their presence. The starting ceremony included a moment’s silence.

Do you Kyoto?

Environmental issues are also emphasised. The Kyoto Protocol took effect on 16 February 2005.  Tap water was supplied, not 20000 2L bottles, 21 February was declared “Car free day”, the event was carbon-neutral and printing was minimised. Nice.

Following the action – my secret weapon

My secret weapon was a Micro Suspension scooter.  It’s big 200mm wheels and suspension would run over cobbles and coarse asphalt, I hoped.  The test in Tokyo showed that it worked well.

The course headed West after exiting the stadium.  I hoped to go North to intercept at about the 10km mark and at the top of a hill.  The maps provided were vague and only showed a selection of major roads.  I headed North… I reckoned.

Guide No. 1

Fortunately I found a guide; a woman running North at about 4:00/km!  She was looking at an annotated map of the course that seemed to show where to meet someone who was running.  I asked if the road was the best road to the marathon course.  She said that she was going there too, so we ran and rolled together.

She told me that her boyfriend was in group G (from A to K, not including I).  I asked why she wasn’t running as she seemed very fast.

I reached the top of Ichijō-dōri and Route 162 to find the B to D runners running past.  Despite waiting until the support vehicles, I didn’t see Chikako in the crowd of runners.  But I could see that she had passed the 10km mark some time before, and at a good steady pace, so I moved to the next rendezvous.

Following the course was not an option; the roads would not reopen for a while and the narrow footpaths would be clogged with spectators.  I had to go back down the hill (testing the limits of the brake) and ride east.

Guide No.2

I managed to get to a main road Nishijō-dōri with my inadequate map.  I stumbled across some Australians staying in Kyoto for 2 months but who live in Norway; they helped confirm my path.  I can’t believe I couldn’t remember “Mange takk, tusan takk” to thank them.

I reached Imadegawa-dōri and turned East.  I found a new guide.

Guide No.3

My third guide was easy to spot.  Just like the first guide, she was in running shoes, compression socks, carrying a small backpack and was fast. Unlike my first guide, she was wearing a cow-print onesie!

Again, she agreed to help me find the course.  She ran even faster; slowing down at bus stops, but not much else.  At one point she hurdled the front wheel of a motorbike who didn’t stop in time.

Guide Nos. 4 & 5

My third guide turned off to visit a shrine, but I quickly found a couple on their 50’s running in the same direction.  We ran and rolled past the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens; me ringing my bell to get clear path and them running behind, and not much slower than the previous two.

I reached the river; again about 30 minutes ahead of ETA.

The waiting, the weather, the wind

My original plan had included scoping the course beforehand so I could estimate the time it would take to get around.  I’d hoped to stop along the way to warm up and recharge at a cafe with Wi-Fi.  Unfortunately any rehearsal was spoiled by the atrocious weather.  I couldn’t quite work out where the 30km mark was.  However, I discovered an official photographer further up the river and I could stand on the bridge and get a good view.  A few minutes later guides 4 & 5 sat nearby. After they cheered their friend they ran over the bridge; the woman gave me two energy sweets.  How nice!

Chikako had just passed the 25km mark, so I knew that she would be here soon.  Except… both my compact camera and my iPhone decided that it was too cold to operate.  The camera refused to open, the iPhone displayed 1% battery.  I put them in my vest pockets to warm them up in the hope that they would return to life.

I saw Chikako and shouted to her from the bridge.  It will be a great photo.  She looked to be in good condition, given that this was the furthest she had run in one go!

Next rendezvous – 37km

Warm up the iPhone and find 65% of battery.  Enough for 7 seconds of bliss.

Finish line

Let’s leave that until the athlete interview.

Kyoto Marathon features a World Champion, of sorts

The race included the Nobel-Prize-winning stem-cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka who ran 3:44:42.

IMG_2827 (2)
Shinya Yamanaka: Nobel Prize, runs a sub-4 Hour marathon, one of Beat Takeshi’s heroes.

Kyoto Marathon – Runner’s Expo

When a rest day involves 30,000 steps…!  We had a few places to visit in Kyoto and racked up about 4km of walking before heading back towards our starting point and the Miyako Messe.

As expected, the level of organisation at the “Kyoto Marathon Okoshiyasu Welcome Square” was extraordinary.  The simple ID check was followed by enthusiastic volunteers handing out the runners’ kit.

Then entry into the sponsors’ zone for a photo and an opportunity to buy more gear from CW-X Wacoal, as worn by Ichiro Suzuki.

Toyota as a major sponsor showed off their Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (review later).  Lots of supplement and sports companies handed out sample bags (with samples of brochures, mostly) before we got off the first floor.

It continued on 3F with more sponsors.  Asahi were handing out 0.00% Super Dry (review later), bus and train tickets to the start were for sale and yet more sporting goods.  Only the Japan Post display was subdued and silent.

Stalls from the Tohoku region sold arts, crafts and foods from the areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  (Runners from those areas can enter the marathon for free.)  I bought some things and a pack of persimmons from Fukushima that were dried on the tree to intensify the flavour.

Finally, I picked up a  t-shirt at the official goods store.  There’s a map on the back, you see.

Sengaku-ji and the 47 Ronin – Conveniently located

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Ukiyo-e depicting the assault of Asano Naganori on Kira Yishinakain the Matsu no Ōrōka of Edo Castle (wikipedia)

Ever had one of those days when you are walking down a street you’ve walked many times before and you come across a site of major historical significance? (Actually, it could happen all of the time in Australia, because we are rubbish at acknowledging and signifying history.) I’ve walked past the Sengaku-ji temple a dozen times without realising that it is a memorial to the 47 Ronin lead by Oishi Kuranosuke to avenge the wrongful death sentence given to their Daimyo Asano Naganori (Takumi no kami), the Feudal Lord of Ako.

(This week my posts were going to be about Chikako’s journey to her first marathon, but I’ve strayed somewhat.)

I’ve been t0 Ako in Hyōgō Prefecture (we have friends there too) and have walked where Lord Asano’s castle was.  Statues of the 47 Ronin line an path and I assumed that their remains were buried there.

The story of the 47 Ronin is epic and I won’t do it justice by telling it. Even the retired French spy in Ronin could do a better job. So here’s wikipedia for a starter.

Madman sell the 1962 Japanese film version, which is well worth watching.  Avoid the Keanu Reeves film and the Stan Sakai manga.

Kyoto Marathon-Day 1

 

Mt Fuji, winter morning
Beautiful view of Mt Fuji from Shinagawa – winter morning

Overnight stay in Tokyo started with an amazing view of Mt Fuji.  Winter is often dry and hazy and a clear look across 95km to see it like this is unusual.  We saw Fuji-san only once on our previous trip on a clear day after the heavy snow in 2014.

Lovely day for a run after a day sitting down.  (Does it count as altitude training?). Today’s plan for Chikako included 6km and intervals.  The ideal place for the run was a lap of the Imperial Palace, and the 5km walk to there would be a good, gradual warm-up.  There were some intervals along the way; beating the crossing lights is a real motivator.

It is a popular 5km loop, and can be packed with runners in training for the Tokyo Marathon on 28 February, as it was when we were here two years ago.

There’s about 50m of elevation between the Route 301 Uchibori-dori in the East and near Route 20 in the West.  (Don’t believe the trace that drops to 64m below sea level at Kokyo-Gaien; it is flat and close to sea level.)

Imperial Palace - anti-clockwise lap
Imperial Palace – anti-clockwise lap

There weren’t hundred of runners this time – maybe next week – but a few teams of university and high school runners; coaches in long coats waited near neat piles of towels and tracksuits.

The popular route includes inspirational and informational signs.

All the while I kept watch on my Micro Suspension scooter.  I walked much of the way to the palace to be a nice footpath user

Total walking/moving for the day was about 25km; not including trains.  That’s a typical Tokyo day for us.  Really.