Fri, 29 Aug 2003

6:50.3

I rode by myself last night from the office to Freeman then home. I tackled the hill on Highway 27 and shaved a few seconds off my prior record.

I failed to get properly prepared to time the climb, so instead of timing from the first reflector post at the bottom of the hill, I used the 2nd post. To compensate, I went one post farther at the top. The vertical distance should nearly exactly the same. The over the road distance turned out to be slightly farther, 1.36 instead of 1.35 miles.

Jenny started some Pilates classes this week and needed a day off the bike. All the riding plus the workouts at the gym were just too much.

[/cycling] [link]

Tue, 26 Aug 2003

Panic

Another ride on the Centennial Trial yesterday evening.

Jenny forgot her cell phone and her water bottles. So, I wasn't able to reach her by phone to tell her I would be 10 minutes late. And when I arrived, hoping for a short easy ride, she said, "We'll have to ride to Post Falls so I can get some Gatorade."

I gave her one of my water bottles, and we would have been okay to just refill them at the state line rest stop, but Jenny doesn't just drink water she needs her Gatorade.

So, we set off into a slight headwind. (Unusual we normally have a tail wind going and a head wind on the return trip.)

It was an uneventful but challenging ride to Post Falls and back. We each got a cold sports drink and I refilled the water bottles before we made the trip back. With the tail wind, we made good time coming home.

I had ridden 57 miles the day before. Not only had I made an evening ride to the state line rest stop and back with Jenny; earlier in the day, I made 3 loops up the hill in Highway 27, back down Dishman-Mica road, around the Painted Hills Golf Course and University High School. It took a lot of concentration to keep the effort up and a steady tempo.

We arrived back at the car with just enough time before sunset, it appeared, for me to make the ride up to the office to retrieve my pack, meet Jenny in the parking lot there to let her hall the pack home, and ride the 4 miles from there to home. So, as usual, I left Jenny to change her shoes and load her bike and I headed off to climb the short hill on Pines Road to the office.

Normally, I have enough time to get to the office and retrieve my pack before Jenny arrives. Invariably, she pulls up at the back door while I'm setting the alarm and locking up.

It was a quick ride to the office I managed to get short red lights and made good time on the road. But retrieving my pack took longer than usual. I dropped my keys in the pack by mistake and went back looking for them thinking I may have left them on my desk. And, I had to make a trip down stairs to retrieve the sweatshirt I had worn on the morning ride to work and would likely need the following morning.

So, I was surprised when Jenny was not at the back door when I was finally ready to go.

I put the pack on my back and decided to meet her at the intersection on Pines Road. She was no where in sight. I watched until there was no traffic either direction between Broadway and Mission and set out to find Jenny.

All sorts of scenarios went through my mind as I raced faster and faster back to where I had last seen her.

I checked each intersection for an accident my worst fear. I looked closely at each gas station perhaps she was critically low on fuel. I watched the side of the road perhaps she had car trouble.

When I was within sight of the last stop light, I knew she must still be at the trail head. Perhaps she locked her keys in the car, I thought. Maybe the car wouldn't start. That's what I hoped for something simple. But there was panic just under the surface. What if the car is gone? Or, what if the car is there, but Jenny isn't? I was pedalling as fast as I could go afraid of what I could find.

In the distance I could make out the car (a Honda station wagon). The back hatch was open, and I could see Jenny standing behind it. Car trouble, I thought. Good at least she's safe.

I nearly skidded to a stop and the sweat immediately began pouring down my face. Jenny was chatting away with another cyclist. He had seen her sitting in the back of the station wagon putting on her cycling shoes when he left on his ride. There she was when he returned, in the same place, doing, it appeared, the same thing. So he struck up a conversation to see why she'd seemingly been right there for the past two hours.

So, no need for panic. It was par usual. Jenny loves to chat and it was no different than 10 minute trips to the store that take an hour and a half, or when she's 40 minutes late for lunch because she stopped to talk to the neighbor across the street when she went out to get in the car.

I was just happy to discover she was safe and there was no problem to solve before heading home. It was, finally, getting too late to ride. Jenny followed me home, riding shot gun. And I got an incredible workout: 40 miles instead of the 20 I had expected, two climbs up from the river instead of one.

The reward was a new low weight , 185.5, this morning.

Perhaps I won't be so quick to panic next time.

[/cycling] [link]

Wildlife

I've written before about the wildlife we've seen on our bike rides: Canadian Geese, rabbits, chipmunks, quail, hawks, deer, a box turtle, ground hogs, a crane, etc. Last year, I saw a coyote. The year before, on a ride up Dishman-Mica Road, I saw a sad, but incredible site a deer, probably hit by a car, running on three legs, the left hind leg broken and flopping, and a coyote in hot pursuit. They crossed the road just ahead of me and the coyote shot me a quick glance but remained undeterred.

Sunday, Jenny added a new creature to the list.

We were making our usual ride on the Centennial Trail to the I-90 rest stop on the Washington/Idaho border and back. About ¼mile before reaching the rest stop, I passed a couple with a baby stroller. I warned, On your left, as I approached, but they did not move from the center of the trail. So, I passed on the left with less clearance than I'm comfortable with, but went safely by, nonetheless.

As I passed, I turned and shouted, One more coming!

We had a great tail wind. I had pulled away from Jenny on a gentle incline a couple miles back and gone on my own to the rest stop at a good clip. Jenny was just less than a minute behind me.

Between the time I passed the couple and Jenny reached them, the guy decided to relieve himself. So, when Jenny came around the corner, much faster that he would ever have expected, I suppose, there he was exposed to the world.

Jenny was fussing and fuming when she got to the rest stop. Not only was she disgusted, but the couple left her even less room to get by than they left me.

Anyway, it was a first. Add trouser snake to the list of wildlife we've spotted.

[/cycling] [link]

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

Worse, Bigfoot.com 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.

Bigfoot.com 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 Bigfoot.com and, thankfully, I got the important e-mail message I was expecting.

Without any feedback from Bigfoot.com, 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]

Fri, 15 Aug 2003

My Blaster theory gains strength

This morning, the first HTTP exploit attempt in 5 days showed up in the logs. It confirms that nothing has changed in my ability to detect and log these exploits, confirming that there has indeed been a complete absence of these attacks on my system for days.

I think this adds strength to the theory I proposed yesterday the Blaster Worm seems to have taken down virtually all of the systems previously infected with Nimba, Code Red, and other worms that propagate through HTTP exploits.

I'm still waiting to see a news article offer the same or similar theory.

[/internet] [link]

Thu, 14 Aug 2003

Two new records

Today I reached a new, low weight since starting my diet in April. I've lost exactly 35 pounds, now.

After work, I tackled the hill on Highway 27. I completed the 1.35 mile climb in 6:56.7. That's more than 2 minutes faster than the first climb I timed this year and an improvement of more than 30 seconds on my prior best time this year.

[/cycling] [link]

Is W32/Blaster cleaning up the Internet?

For the past few days, I've been scratching my head trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, I don't see any HTTP exploit attempts in my logs. I usually see 4-10 exploit attempts a mixture of cmd.exe and default.ida attempts. However, Sunday, 8/10 was the last time I saw any such attempts in the logs.

It seems statistically improbable that this is just a normal lull in activity.

There is a possible explanation. Perhaps the W32/Blaster Worm (aka, LovSan) is responsible.

I assume the vast majority of exploit attempts come from Windows systems that have been compromised by worms like Nimba and Code Red. They are attempting to propagate themselves through HTTP exploits. If these same systems where taken down by W32/Blaster, then they aren't able to spread the other worms they host.

Because Blaster causes infected machines to crash, they will get the attention of their owners. Some will just remove W32/Blaster, leaving other worms intact. However, I expect most infected systems will get a more thorough cleaning, virus detection software installed, etc.

A side effect of W32/Blaster could be a much cleaner Internet.

I haven't verified this or seen this theory posted elsewhere, yet. I'll be hunting for verification.

[/internet] [link]

Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Domino effect

I could have had lunch with the guys, today. Instead, I'm sitting here waiting for my darling wife to pick me up for lunch she may never show.

You see, while I was away in Santa Maria last week, I got a call at 11 PM one evening. I startled awake in a strange place, stumbled out of bed searching for my ringing cell phone in the dark running into every piece of furniture in the room. When I finally laid hands on the cell phone, tethered by its charger cord, I pulled the lamp off onto the floor and missed the call.

When I was finally able to focus my eyes, the cell phone display read, Missed call from Jenny.

So, I called back and got Christopher. He was in Pullman.

Dad, I borrowed April's car to drive to Pullman, he dove right in, and on the way out of town I stopped to get a coffee. (This must be significant.) "At the stop light, my foot slipped off the brake and I bumped into the back of a Mercedes.

"Now, their insurance company is calling and they want me or you to call them back."

(This conversation did wonders for my ability to obtain a good night's sleep.)

I told Chris I'd call him the following day. And I did!

At 7:00 AM, sharp, I returned the favor and rolled him out of bed with a cell phone call. I told him not to contact the other driver's insurance agent, but, rather, to call our agent, give him the details, and let him handle it.

What, you ask, does this story have to do with the fact that I'm sitting here waiting for Jenny?

We had a lunch date. She called me shortly before noon to tell me she had to take April's car downtown to have pictures taken and would stop by the office on her way home so we could get some lunch. Three minutes later, I got an invite to go to lunch with the guys.

I called Jenny right back to release myself from our failing lunch date. I got Christopher. In Pullman. Again.

Seems he got himself in some financial difficulties at the end of last semester and hasn't yet earned enough money to pay off his cell phone bill. After months nay, years of pleading, the kids all have cell phones, why can't I have one? I got Jenny her very own cell phone. And to what end? It goes to which ever baby bear can't make their own payments and I still can't ever get in touch with my wife.

Just think, if it hadn't been for that damn cup of coffee Chris had to have last week, I'd be having lunch with Jenny or the guys at least not sitting here writing this and you wouldn't be wasting time reading it. Talk about a domino effect…

Disclaimer: The facts in this article should not be considered facts. They should be considered hearsay and stirred with poetic license. They should not be considered suitable for admission as evidence, should, say, a claim of injury resulting from described bump into Mercedes be made. Which it has. Apparently. …another domino falls.

[/personal] [link]

Assault Charges

Last night on the way home from work, a car load of punks passed screaming insults and throwing coins or beer caps something metal bounced off my left hip and went ringing down the pavement.

Jenny was right behind me in the car. She and I had spent the evening riding on the Centennial Trail. I had ridden up the hill to the office to retrieve my pack. She met me there, took my pack, and was headed home.

While in the left turn lane from south-bound Pines to east-bound Broadway, I heard shouts somewhere behind me. The shouts got louder when I turned my head to my right to see if someone in the car to my immediate right was trying to speak to me. I never did hear what they said, but Jenny had her windows down and heard the work bike. So, she was already in defensive mode.

Just after the turn, the punks passed, threw some projectile, quite accurately, but with no ill effects, and headed down Broadway. Jenny pulled along side and I told here to get their license plate number.

She caught up with them right away and took down their number. I almost caught them at the next light, McDonald; it turned green just as I arrived.

I did catch them at the following light, Evergreen.

The young punk in the passengers seat got a bit wide eyed when I pulled along side. I'm sure he didn't expect to be caught by a old fat guy on a bicycle.

Words were exchanged, the light turned green, and, as they pulled away, another coin or bottle cap was hurled my way a miss.

Having a license plate number, descriptions of the car and passenger, I called Crime Check as soon as I got home. The operator informed me she would need to send an officer to take the report in person since the incident would be considered an assault.

A report was filed. Now, we'll see what comes of it. The officer who took the report was completely humorless. If I said he was rude, I might be mistaken, but not by much. Perhaps it is the required demeanor of law enforcement I don't know. His parting words were less than encouraging, though:

This will go the the detectives. They might follow up on it.

Might?

[/cycling] [link]

Santa Maria

I spent last week at a client's site in Santa Maria. The bike went with me. Several years ago, I made a similar trip with the bike and had some great evening rides. It was long enough ago that I couldn't remember the routes I had taken.

Monday, just before closing, I stopped by Main Street Cycles where I found a very friendly and helpful young man tending the store. He provided me with some route advice and one of the best cycling maps I've ever seen. The map is available free of charge. A description and details are available online: Bicycling in Santa Barbara County.

I was able to get in three evening rides:

  • Betteravia Road east to Telephone Road, south to Clark, then back through town to the Santa Maria Inn where I stayed.
  • West on 166 to the beach, and back.
  • Southwest on Black almost to the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base and back.

The weather was great! Spokane was experiencing near record highs while I was away, so highs in the upper seventies were very welcomed.

Santa Maria has plenty of bike lanes and I was quite comfortable riding there. The bike lanes were much, much cleaner than here in the Spokane Valley where I reside not free of debris, by any means, but ridable.

However, I only saw two other cyclists in my 70 miles of riding there. And I was warned by a few non-cyclists that the area isn't very bicycle friendly despite the bike lanes and maps. Fortunately, I didn't have any negative experiences to validate their assertions. I look forward to my next trip to Santa Maria.

The one truly frustrating experience on the trip was getting the bike checked as baggage. First, it cost $100, round trip. The extra charge for transporting a bicycle is outrageous, but that's a dead horse issue I won't beat.

The real problem is new heightened security. I have an Iron Case for packing my bike for travel. I take a lot of care when packing the bike to ensure nothing gets broken, bent, scratched, etc. I pack the bike, tools, grease and chain lube and a few rags.

Coming and going, the TSA had to open and inspect contents of the bike case. I was allowed to stand by and answer questions, but I was not allowed to touch. So, the contents were shuffled and repacked far less optimally than I liked. Fortunately, no damage resulted, but it was a concern.

In Spokane, on the way out, they confiscated my chain lube, perhaps 1/2 ounce of White Lightning. The bottle says flammable, so it is obviously an inherent danger to the passengers. Of course, I'll bet it is no more flammable than those mini bottles of booze they store in the galley. But why argue. The TSA agents just follow the rules as illogical as they are.

[/cycling] [link]

About this weblog

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

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

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