Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another new record!

Statement as of 4:30 am CST on February 21, 2008

... Record low temperature at Madison...

At 318 am CST... the temperature at Madison Truax Airport fell to 15
degrees below zero. This ties the record of -15 previously set in

Since sunrise is at 647 am CST this morning... the temperature may
become even colder over the next two hours. If a new record of -16
or colder is reached... another record report will be sent out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finally, a recreational bike ride!!

It warmed up to about 10 degrees today and it was sunny and not too windy. Also, I got some new windproof biking tights in the mail (thanks punkin!). Finally, my friend Amy had some pictures of the bike trail from a ride shed taken yesterday (it was part of her daily commute). The conditions were good (not like my normal commuting bike path) so I decided to go for a ride. So I rode for about 13.5 miles on the singlespeed Raleigh with studded tires. There were definitely spots on the the ride where the studded tire saved me. While the southwest commuter trail itself was great (I'd say "groomed" would be the best description, and it was groomed nice and tight, so there was maybe 1/4 inch of packed snow. There were only a few places where there was shiny ice, and those were out past the beltline highway. Once I got out to the Capitol City Trail, I took a left and rode out to the Seminole Highway before turning around. I saw a fox on the trail where it goes through the forest near the marsh.
On the way back I went by the stadium, and followed the path along the lake, which is my normal commuting route. The lakeshore path was horrible!! Much of it was shiny ice, cast in the shape of footprints and bike tracks. The effect was as if they tried to make a hockey rink, but put in uneven mounds the size of golf balls and baseballs. It was pretty hairy. My bike bounced dangerously along the path, the tires sliding into ruts and struggling for traction. But the studs dug in and found their way and I stayed upright the whole way. The ride was 13.6 miles and was pretty enjoyable apart from the rough quarter mile or so.
My pricey gloves worked well, and my fingers stayed nice and toasty. The new tights did an admirable job. I'm pretty sure they weren't designed for riding when it is 10 degrees. I'm pretty confident they'll keep me warm when it is 40. I could still use better face protection and a better jacket, though. Tonight is supposed to be -14, so I won't be riding in the morning.
Thanks to Amy for the pictures!

The Brits are taking steps to make people active again

This story from the BBC details ways to encourage people to be more active in their daily lives--essentially undoing all of the "progress" made since the 1950s. I am a big fan of this. Encourage people to walk or bike instead of driving, and they'll help their own health, and benefit the environment and use fewer natural resources.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Drive? Bike? Crash? Fall? Ice.

The roads today are the worst that I've ever seen them here. The rain and snow that fell on the weekend have frozen solid, and the city didn't act fast enough to get the stuff off of the roads, so it is like an ice rink on most the roads, even the big ones. A section I drove on this morning was actually like driving on Disney's Autopia on ice. I would have slid to the kerb if the big rail of ice between the wheels had not been keeping me headed in the right direction. There was ice in the ruts and everywhere else. People were sliding all over the place, and I had trouble directing the car in the right direction on several occasions (this should be figuring into car selection, I know). In the end I made it home without incident, but decided that I didn't want to deal with the conditions and traffic on the way home, so I decided to bike into the office.
It was around zero degrees as I headed in this morning, and conditions were better suited for crampons than biking. Ice was forzen in the shape of footprints and tire treads betweeen a trace and up to one inch thick on the roads and paths. In most places the ice had some snow, which gave it a bit of grip and texture. On one stretch of road the snow was like heavy sand, and a bit greasy-feeling, making riding in a straight line difficult. The ride in was not too bad, overall.
The ride home was a different story. In many places the ice had been heated by the sun, melting the surface and eliminating the texture that had been there in the morning. There were many more places with smooth, slippery ice, and it was a much more nervous ride on the way home. It will be several days before the roads are better. It will be Thursday or Friday before the temperature rises above the magical 15-degree mark where salt will be able to melt the ice and make the roads grippier. The normal high temperature for today is 32 degrees. Today we reached 6.
No crashes or falls took place for me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

OMG The Weather!!!!!

The Weather: Wow, we've had (we're having) a heckuva winter. This season keeps on giving and doesn't look like it is getting stingy with the good stuff any time soon. Although the "weather event" over the weekend didn't give us as much snow as advertised, it made up for it with rain, freezing rain and slush. But it was plenty cloudy, the whole town shut down, and there is snow in the forecast more often than not. Today it is tough to find a road that is not ice-covered. And we're heading back below zero tonight.
With that said, I am actually enjoying this witer much more than those I have spent here before. At least when it is cold, we have snow. (we have it nearly daily). But the snow makes each trip an adventure of sorts, as you don't know what sort of idiot driver you'll be stuck behind next. The same Camry drivers who can't find the gas pedal when conditions are dry treat the accellerator like an on-off switch in the ice. They spin endlessly to try to gain the grip to go. I've so far only seen two slide right through intersections.
But I like biking in the snow and I like that I get to practice my E-brake turns.

The car search: So here is what I'm looking for: Sporty, fun to drive, roomy on the inside, and it sould get great mileage. I'd like something like a diesel TT Quattro, or a comfortable Subaru WRX that was comfortable to drive (yeah, I said it twice) and that hadn't been driven like a rented mule. It should be small outside and not cheapy-looking. Maybe an A3 Quattro Diesel? Maybe a used Mini? I hear they are popular in the family. Oh yeah, it should be cheap and reliable, too. (too bad the USA can't get the 3-door)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New car research

So, since we're having freezing rain and another 6-12 inches of snow today, we won't be going out anywhere to run errands. They've cancelled almost everything in town today, including bus service and even the casinos are closed. Each storm system seems to be worse than the one before it.
So, some stats on cars I've been researching:
(I looked primarily at model year 2000 cars, just to get an even comparison)

Year, Make, Model, HP, EPA Economy, Agerage cost
2000 Mazda Miata (base),140HP , 25/29mpg $6715
2000 Mazda Miata (LS),140HP , 25/29 mpg, $8034
2000 Mazda Miata (Special Ed.),140HP ,25/29 $9234

2000 Honda S2000 240HP, 20/26MPG $13,693

2000 Audi TT FWD, 180HP, 22/31 $9550
2000 Audi TT Quattro, 180 HP, 20/29, $10,375

2000 Porsche Boxster Base, 217 HP, 19/27MPG, $15,200
1997 Porsche Boxster Base, 201 HP, 19/26MPG, $11,818

1996 Honda Civic Del Sol S, 106 HP, 30/39MPG, $3518
1996 Honda Civic Del Sol Si, 125 HP, 30/36MPG, $4008
1996 Honda Civic Del Sol VTec, 160HP, 26/30MPG, $4369

2000 Toyota MR2, 138HP, 25/30MPG, $8874

What am I forgetting?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New car?

So we're thinking of getting something new, and I have been told (thankfully) that I'm the one in charge and we can pretty much get whatever I feel is best. We need a city car--something for running errands, commuting the few miles to work. Said vehicle would have to be fuel efficient and cost efficient to purchase and operate.
I'd been thinking about about maybe a car with all-wheel drive, but don't need something at big as the Volvo (we'd hang onto the Volvo and get rid of her Honda).
So I was thinking of maybe an A3 Quattro. But those are pricey and don't get great mileage. Then I thought of maybe a Subaru Impreza, but the seats in Subarus are really uncomfortable, and they are not really that nice inside.
So last night I started thinking on a new path. What about getting something that would be easy to drive around town, cheap to operate, but also really fun to drive? What about an older Mazda Miata or Honda S2000?
The Miata can be found relatively cheaply, and there are plenty of them around. I bike/drive by one regularly, and the driver has winter tires on some decent looking rims. I think that would be fun, but I'm concerned about fitting in the car. I know that I have tried to sit in these cars before and been sad that my legs are too long. But I think I could either move the seat back (and the tracks it is mounted on), or replace the seat with an aftermarket seat.
Costlier options for a fun car like this would be the Audi TT or Prosche Boxster. There are some of those that are getting old enough that they may be coming into the right price range. But It definitely would be cheaper to go with something like at Miata or (here it comes) an old Saab convertible. I don't think it would be worth going back to anything from BMW, as I think the mileage wouldn't be where my target is.
I dunno, what to you think? Will my long legs let me fit into one of these cars?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New car sighting

In a place where cool car sightings are few and far between, I saw something pretty new today: a smart cabrio.
It was red, and I was behind it in traffic. It was interesting to note that it had what looked like backup sensors. You'd think that in a car that small you'd be able to reach out the back of the car with your hand to see if you can touch the car behind you. Of course, since it was only 18 degrees, the top was up...

Monday, February 11, 2008

New web toys

Well, I was looking last week at the site and visitor statistics and looking at where people were visiting from. Well, looking at people's random blogs today, I found a company that lets me see where all of my visitors are on a daily basis. I think it lets you look also. I've included the map in this posting, but its permanent location on the blog will be on the left side, below the links to other blogs.

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

Ethanol is a sham

A recent story on has blown the lid off all of those lies about the greatness of ethanol.
Wanna cut down on greenhouse gasses? Take public transport or ride a bike! (That will leave less of you on the road to get in the way of my Volvo.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BRR cold...

It dropped from 30 degrees yesterday to -8 this morning. I can't bear to go outside, so I've spent much of the day on the internet. I'm looking for the perfect songs to play at the wedding (everything has to be perfect for the wedding, including the songs) but I've also been looking at this and that, much of the eRandomness that abound on the internet.

I came across Sacramento's Velocab. The drivers are independent contractors. They rent the cab and the company cell phone for $5.00 and then hits the street. Fares are $2.00 for the first block and then $0.50 for each block afterwards. All fares go to the driver. (I think the cab owners make their money thru advertising). So the question is, how much money do you think a cabbie earns in an average day? They're only in operation from 10am-6pm, so they can't really cash in on the happy hour or late night crowd.
I wonder how it would go in the snow.
Speaking of snow, more is on the way!!!

New Cycling links added

So Kevin L. sent me a link to a VeloNews story about a cyclist in Milwakuee who almost got hit by a plow while riding. The guy had some video cameras on his bike and took them to various agencies in town to at least get some sort of apology. The video is pretty scary, but not any more so than almost being hit by any vehicle while cycling, which happens far too often. People just don't leave enough room. I'm lucky that my bike commute (when I bike) is only about two miles, and is mostly on paths instead of roads, but on the longer rides we take when Wisconsin finally warms up, people just don't leave enough room.

I've included a link (on the right of the page) to a couple of bike-specific links, and a few more may becoming. Jeff's bike page also has some good links to other Wisconsin riders. They all appear far more motivated to ride in the winter, as it seems they have been taking longer rides all winter! And Jeff is even riding on a Cannondale not much newer/older than Ol'Red.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Analytical Site Statistics

So a while back I signed up for Google Analytics, a program designed to track usage on the site. I thought it would be interesting to see how many visitors see my ramblings about bikes, Swedish cars, and the weather in Wisconsin. The results are presented with big colorful graphs and maps.Over the last month I've had 286 visits from 39 countries! I've had 191, 15, 11 and 8 visitors from the USA, Canada, the UK and Germany respectively. Mostly domestic, but the rest of the world is starting to catch on. So how do they get to my site?
About 90-95% are referred from Google. referred 25%, google (organic) referred another 16%, and referred all 11 of my Canadian visitors (3.85%). sixteen percent of people type in the address directly, and another nine percent are directed to the page from another site. Minimal referrals come from,, and The rest come from worldwide google sites.

So what keywords are people searching for that land them on the site? Various combinations of "Madison," "earthquake," and "icequake" make up 12 of the first 30. Fields Auto Group comes in at number three though, so don't think that my ranting and raving has not been heard! Most of the rest are various combinations of "Volvo," Tailgate struts," "running costs" or "madison snow." Only a couple about bikes.

So what does this all tell me? Well, not too much, but it does tell me that although not too many people see these pages, a few people from all around the world do see the site. It also tells me that since most google hits came from, having pictures in the blog is the way to draw more traffic. Pretty soon, I'll be an internet superstar!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Now that we've had the snow, it is time to get cold again!!
Statement as of 8:41 PM CST on February 07, 2008
... More Arctic air on the way for Saturday afternoon into Sunday... A strong Arctic cold front currently over western Canada isexpected to blast into the Dakotas Friday night and acrossWisconsin Saturday. Temperatures will plunge below zero Saturday night and Sunday morning as a result. ...Winds gusting 35-45 mph will generate blowing snow and wind chill readings will be 20-30 below zero.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Record snows in Madison

We've received approx. 13" of snow today (It has actually been snowing since yesterday), and that makes it the biggest snow event for this part of Wisconsin for 18+ years! In addition, we're about 3.5 inches away from the all time record 0f 76" for a season. The university closed down this afternoon, and the city pulled all of the busses off of the road. I was glad I rode my bike as I saw cars skidding all over the place and creeping slowly down the poorly plowed main streets. It took me a few minutes longer to get home tonight, but it was no longer than if I had driven. Snow is in the forecast for most of the next 10 days! When will it end!??
From the forecast for tonight: Snow , Definite Snow , Definite Blowing Snow

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Update: Up to a foot of snow coming

That's right! Up to another foot of snow. And we still have 6 weeks of winter left!

Snow depths are now at 60.3", only 16" away from the all-time seasonal record of 76.1" set in the winter of 1978-79.

At least I'll be able to say I was in Madison for the snowiest winter on record!