Thursday, December 4, 2008
Not to be confused with grilled cheese, chilled grease is the topic of this blog entry. Feel free to anticipate a less-than-inspiring read here, but I’m presenting a semi-scientific inquiry in an attempt to explain why I find bicycle-pedaling more strenuous in cold weather than in warm weather. My hypothesis (harrumph) is that when grease, or some other lubricants used on mechanical parts, are subject to changes in temperature. I think they must stiffen up, even if ever-so-slightly, in cold conditions and become more fluid in summer-like conditions. (Gee, that’s like cheese, isn’t it?) Thus, when it stiffens up, say, in my crank, the pedaling becomes more difficult than when it’s warm. The higher the quality of the lubricant, I assume, the more resistant it would be to thickening and thinning due to the temperature. I believe that’s called “viscosity,” or whatever. The only other explanation I can come up with for the increased difficulty I find in pedaling when it’s cold outside is that my muscles, not my bike lubricants, stiffen in cold weather and loosen up when it’s warm. Maybe it’s both. In any event, as with any scientific hypothesis, I’m open for rebuttal ... which is a nice way of saying “Feel free to tell me I have no idea what the h*ll I’m talking about.” You’re even welcome to toss in a “... you, butthead,” or any other epithet of your choice. As far as grilled cheese, however, you’ll never convince me those sandwiches are not better with bacon and tomato. Now I'm getting hungry. Class dismissed.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
You can’t believe everything you hear on the news, but a few weeks ago WBZ 1030-AM radio reported that CEOs from the “Big Three” automakers showed up in Washington, D.C., to make their plea for bailout bucks, and that they hadn’t gained much sympathy from lawmakers because they’d each used private jets to make the trip. After having been publically scolded for that extravagance by one Congressman, the trio made another trip to the nation’s capitol earlier this week. This time, it was reported, they each arrived after having made the 520-mile Detroit-to-D.C. trip in hybrid cars. I’m no Congressman, but I’m still not impressed. I’d have been mildly impressed if they’d carpooled, but here’s what my dream scenario would have been: I wish the three CEOs (who I’ve come to refer to collectively as “Ghidorah,” an allusion to the 1964 Japanese film about a three-headed monster by that name) had bicycled to Washington, D.C. And I wish their most recent restructuring plan, to justify a bailout with taxpayer dollars, included a complete retooling of their assembly lines to start making nothing but bicycles, while admitting that cars powered by internal-combustion engines are a blight on the planet. Then I’d like to see any leftover bailout bucks given to automobile owners in the form of coupons to redeem for two bicycles for every car they turn in. OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here ... but I still like the idea of the 520-mile bike ride. In the meantime, I wonder if Congress would bail out America’s Big Three bike-makers -- Trek, Cannondale and Specialized -- if they face bankruptcy someday.