Wed, 20 Aug 2003

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Although I haven't recorded a blog entry for every ride and every experience, I decided to jot down a few one-liners that summarize many of them.

The good:

  • The Canadian Geese we see flying low along the Spokane River while we ride the Centennial Trail.
  • The box turtle we saw crossing the trail.
  • The car load of teens that gave me huge smiles and thumbs up, amazed that I was able to keep pace with them for over a mile.
  • The other cyclists we met on the road that saved our day by loaning us the use of a chain tool.
  • Incredibly gorgeous sunsets at the end of some long rides.
  • Miles of road, often all to ourselves, with great sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Passing a long string of cyclists on road bikes and looking back to see that Jenny is still tucked into my draft on her mountain bike.
  • Topping the 1.35 mile climb up Highway 27, out of breath, heart pounding, in record time.
  • Finding a 6-inch crescent wrench on the road, invisible to the automobile traffic.
  • 20 MPH tail winds.
  • Finally getting fit enough to wake up the day after a long bike ride with no soreness.
  • Long rides with Jenny. (She look much better in Lycra than my other cycling companions. <g>)

The bad:

  • Getting a flat on the hottest day of the year.
  • Glass and debris in the bike lane.
  • Getting a flat in the rain because the glass in the bike lane is invisible when wet.
  • Pinching a hole in the spare tube while fixing a flat at the side of the trail.
  • Seeing Jenny almost go down when her front wheel overlapped my back wheel. (Although, it was amazing to see how masterfully she handled the bike, avoiding a crash.)
  • Having Jenny take a spill and learning later it was because I hadn't kept up on the maintenance of her bike.
  • 20 MPH head winds.

The ugly:

  • Motorists that shout insults.
  • Motorists that take their share of the lane even when I'm in it.
  • A car load of thugs that threw things at me. (Although, seeing the surprised looks on their faces when I caught up to them a mile down the road was fun!)

[/cycling] [link]

As the wheel turns…

I've been doing a lot of riding, reading about riding, thinking about riding, but very little writing about riding.

Jenny has been my constant riding companion this year. It's been a lot of fun. The guys at the office surely don't read my weblog. If they do, my admission that I'm still as much in love with my wife as I was the day we were married will shatter the image I've created. But it's true. There's nobody I'd rather ride with.

Last Saturday, Jenny took a spill. Her first ever as far as I know. We were leaving the Centennial Trail at the Flora Road access. There is a short but very steep climb from the trail to the road. I charged up the short rise. Behind me, I heard what sounded like a cleat coming out of a pedal, only much louder. Looking back, I didn't see Jenny's green helmet coming into view as I expected, so I spun around and charged back.

There she was, standing on the trail, bike in hand, seat pointing sideways, with fire in her eyes. She was furious with her bike and herself. The chain had jammed then come off at the steepest part of the short rise. She immediately rolled backwards and went down, unable to disengage her feet from the pedals quickly enough.

Back on the bike, she did a Lance Armstrong: she surged ahead so fast I thought I wouldn't see her again until I finally made it home.

Sunday, we discovered the real problem. A pin had worked its way loose and was occasionally getting jammed between the chain rings. We made a 35 mile ride to Rockford and back. Just a few miles into the return trip, Jenny's chain jammed hard. Examining it at the side of the road I finally realized what had caused her fall on Saturday.

We were stuck. I didn't have a chain tool and we were many long miles from home.

With my head down, I didn't even see the cyclists approaching from the other direction. When the pair of riders was directly across the road from us, one of them shouted, Do you need any help? Her unexpected call startled me.

You wouldn't happen to have a chain tool, would you? I replied.

I just bought this neat tool kit, she said. "I don't know what's in it."

They circled around to our side of the road and pulled up behind us. She handed me her tool kit, which did, indeed, have a chain tool. Two minutes later, with barely an interruption in our ride, we were back in business and headed home.

To our fellow cyclists, whose names we failed to ask, THANK YOU!

[/cycling] [link]

Sobig.F Worm Attack

Yesterday, I had an extremely frustrating experience with the W32.Sobig.F worm. Even though, as a Linux user, I was not susceptible to an infection, this ugly worm inflicted quite a bit of pain.

Between 7:27 AM an 12:05 PM, I received 125 e-mail messages addressed to my forwarding address, each containing the worm.

All the messages came from the same, infected machine at a university in Sweden. If the messages had been sent directly to my personal e-mail address, hosted on a system I manage, it would have been trivial to stop the attack I could have simply blocked all traffic from the offending IP address at the firewall, or added it to the RBL I use to block known spammers and mail abusers.

But this attack was hitting my address. is a forwarding service, so all the worm laden messages were coming from's mail server. Blocking that address would have blocked all legitimate messages sent to my address as well as those containing the worm.

Worse, has a daily message limit. I'm a paid subscriber, which entitles me to 150 messages per day. Even with the amount of spam I receive, that limit has always been more than adequate to handle my needs. Had the Sobig.F attack continued much longer, however, I might have had my mail account temporarily suspended due to the volume. I was expecting a very important e-mail message and having it delayed or lost would have been painful. has an emergency help desk address. I fired off a message with attached headers from one of the worm laden e-mails and asked them to please block the offending address.

I tracked the offending, originating IP address to a Swedish university and sent a message with appropriate details to their abuse address.

I did receive a reply from the university. Bigfoot never responded. At 12:05 PM, 4 hours and 38 minutes after the attack began, 1 hour and 39 minutes after I contacted the university, the worm storm stopped.

In addition to the messages with worm payloads, I received several undeliverable messages. Sobig.F forges from addresses from the same pool of addresses it targets. I also received some automated replies from auto-responder addresses that had been targeted by the worm and where my address had been forged as the source address.

I narrowly escaped exceeding my daily message limit at and, thankfully, I got the important e-mail message I was expecting.

Without any feedback from, and with only the acknowledgement that my message had been received and was being investigated at the university in Sweden, I don't know where to give credit for stopping the attack. It is, of course, possible that neither was directly responsible. The user of the infected machine may have found and fixed the problem.

In any case, the Sobig.F attack demonstrated that worms can have devastating effects even to systems that are properly protected and not vulnerable to direct infections.

[/internet] [link]

About this weblog

This site is the personal weblog of Marc Mims. You can contact Marc by sending e-mail to:

Marc writes here about cycling, programming, Linux, and other items of personal interest.

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