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20080316 Sunday March 16, 2008

Buell Ulysses 1,000 Mile Service and Suspension

Yikes ... I brought the bike into Zylstra H-D/Buell last week, $328. I don't remember what the Sportster's first service was, but I don't think it was quite that much.

Another important lesson: I'd been lazy and never taken the time to setup the suspension according to the guidelines in the owner's manual. I finally did today, and WOW, what a difference. It feels like a completely different, and even more incredible bike. I'd never really seen what a dramatic difference suspension could make in a vehicle's handling.

Two annoyances: I cannot get used to having to shut off the blinkers manually. Also, the throttle feels like its very soon, 1/8" - 1/4" inch of looseness. I asked the dealer to look at it during the service, and they said it was properly adjusted. I can't believe that's correct, and I forgot to check the Buells that they had sitting on the floor to see how their throttles were adjusted.

Posted by rich ( Mar 16 2008, 09:45:42 PM CDT ) Permalink

20080106 Sunday January 06, 2008

First Ride of 2008

Starting Ulysses mileage: 863 (barely getting started)

Went for a nice, 42 mile ride around Des Moines today, this afternoon the temperature was around 44 or so, so it really wasn't too bad. I wasn't planning on it, really, until I went to get groceries this afternoon and saw another motorcycle out and figured, why not?

First picture is from Gray's Lake, still frozen over, but they're flying the red flag indicating that it isn't safe to walk out on.

These are the penguins from the Jolly Holiday Lights display in Water Works Park.

I still need to fix the bent bits on the bike from when it was backed into, right after they showed up the temperature here dropped and I've done nothing out in the garage since mid-November.

Posted by rich ( Jan 06 2008, 04:10:28 PM CST ) Permalink

Struts Sprout - Annotation-Powered Simplicity for Struts

Some time ago, I was looking for a way to simplify the build process for a Java application I've been working on for quite some time. It started out using XDoclet 1.2 to generate the EJB and Struts configuration files. As the years have gone by, that version of XDoclet hasn't aged very well, and even the improvements made in Java 5 proved problematic for it. Eventually, some folks released an updated xjavadoc for use with it, but it never worked quite correctly (support for some syntax changes were incomplete).

Some time ago, I made the changes needed to move to EJB 3, and eliminated XDoclet from that portion of the build, but I was still using it to generate the struts-config.xml. I always meant to do something about that, but ended up just dragging my feet on it. I'd stumbled across Sprout a long time ago, it seemed interesting, but I never did anything with it at the time.

Finally, in December of last year, XDoclet had annoyed me enough so I went back to looking at Sprout. Its support for configuring Struts wasn't complete enough to cover what I needed it to be able to do so I dropped the author, Seth Fitzsimmons a note asking if he'd done anything with Sprout beyond the version posted to his web site. Unfortunately here's what I received back: "I haven't touched Sprout (or Struts, for that matter) for about 3 years now, but it's been waiting all that time for someone like you to find it useful. You're welcome to either continue to use my svn repo as you change things or move it elsewhere."

So we chatted a bit by email, and I decided to set it up as a Google Code project: Struts Sprout and add the features to it that I needed. Finally, today, I got around to adding some of the code that I wrote back in December to the public site. Once I have a chance to make the classpath scanning a little more robust, and write some examples using the new annotations, I'll post a download with a new version number, but until that time, at least the changes are available in Subversion.

Posted by rich ( Jan 06 2008, 12:49:50 PM CST ) Permalink

20071104 Sunday November 04, 2007

Less Than 1 Month Later...

I was having a late lunch at Bakers Square, and a woman driving a minivan backed into the Ulysses in the parking lot.

The rear left blinker was scuffed up as well, but it didn't show up well in the photograph. The damage to her minivan actually appeared quite a bit worse than the bike's damage, a number of scratches, and it was dented in. At least the bike fought back a bit.

Posted by rich ( Nov 04 2007, 06:11:08 PM CST ) Permalink

20071026 Friday October 26, 2007

Improving Navigation

In today's podcast, we mention that we've added menus to the site to improve navigation. Below you'll find a couple examples of these. The online store's most popular categories are now always within reach on the main site, and even Anime Today has one to make jumping to the episodes easier.

 

Posted by rich ( Oct 26 2007, 11:10:01 AM CDT ) Permalink

20071025 Thursday October 25, 2007

Continuing the Sneak Peak

We're actually going to be talking briefly about some of the features of the new web site in the episode of Anime Today that will be posted tomorrow. One of the sections that we're all extremely happy with is the new Nozomi Entertainment area. The latest releases are featured on the front page of their section, and all the series sites are in a detailed index so that you can quickly see which ones have wallpapers, avatars, screenshots, and all the other extras that we love to pack into these sites.

All the trailers that we've posted have been encoded at a higher quality than we've posted them at before, and they look stunning. The trailer feed also works great with iTunes, and we've tested it with iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs (and in HD they look even more stunning).

 

Right now, its looking like the new site will be officially launched on Tuesday (if everything goes as planned).

Posted by rich ( Oct 25 2007, 07:01:47 PM CDT ) Permalink

Death to Blue!

After having a dark blue web site since the Spring of 2001, we decided that its really time for a change. Here's a small preview:

(Now if I could just find time to make this blog look a tad better.)

Posted by rich ( Oct 25 2007, 09:15:17 AM CDT ) Permalink

20071019 Friday October 19, 2007

"Your headlight is burned out."

When I was considering buying the Ulysses, I ran across a discussion board thread where someone wrote:

"I'm constantly being told I have a headlight burnt out and personally think it would look better with both lit all the time."

When I was in Ames last night picking up the bike, about 5 minutes after I left the dealership I ended up stuck at a traffic light that was having difficulties due to the storm. While waiting, a helpful person headed the other direction stopped their truck next to be and politely told me one of my headlights was burned out. I laughed to myself, and thanked them. It'll be interesting to see how frequently that happens in the future.

Posted by rich ( Oct 19 2007, 08:43:04 PM CDT ) Permalink

20071018 Thursday October 18, 2007

2008 Buell Ulysses

Even since Buell announced the Ulysses, its been a bike that's really caught my eye. When I was much, much younger, I rode a Suzuki DS80 dirt bike. The idea of having something that would be at home on highways, but wasn't afraid of getting dirty, sounded fun.

Several weeks back, a friend in Ames gave me a gift certificate to Zylstra Harley-Davidson/Buell in Ames for my birthday, and when I stopped by there to use it, I noticed that they had a 2006 Ulysses sitting on their floor. I sat on it, started at it, and went on my way.

The following week, I stopped back - this time, with my helmet in the car, and talked to another sales guy and asked if I could take it our for a test ride. They agreed, I was thrilled, and afterwards, the willpower to resist buying one was nearly gone. After leaving the dealer, I stopped at a local Des Moines Suzuki/etc. dealer, and tried out several other dirt bikes, dual sports, and such. No other brand I tried out felt as good as the Ulysses did when I took it out on the interstate. A few days later, I called the sales guy back, and told them to order a 2008, in barricade orange. Projected delivery date: January at the best. I was seriously disappointed.

Well, the second sales guy left the dealer in the meantime, and the third one, Mike, called me last week to let me know that not only did Buell have the bike I wanted, it would be on a truck and delivered this week! Their Thursday delivery rolled in, and this afternoon I received a call that it was ready for me to pick up. During what's been one of the rainest weeks of this year. This month, 5.26 inches, today, just under half an inch.

Despite the bad weather, a friend and I headed up to Ames, I had my rain gear and waterproof gloves (that I just bought a couple weeks ago), and picked up the bike. It poured on the way back, but I was relatively dry, and thanks to the heated grips, my hands were extremely warm.

And here's the new addition to the garage (along with me, extremely wet):

I can't wait to get it out on a nice fall day. Even in the pouring rain, with brand new (slick) tires, the bike handed incredibly well.

Posted by rich ( Oct 18 2007, 09:15:18 PM CDT ) Permalink

20070717 Tuesday July 17, 2007

The Journey Home

Headed out Monday morning at about 8 AM for home. I didn't really plan on stopping anywhere along the way, but we passed through a few places worth noting.

The first was Blackduck, Minnesota - we were fishing in that area when I was very young. They have three large ducks around town, here's one of them:

We stopped in Bemidji, Minnesota for a quick pictures with Paul Bunyan and Babe:

We stopped in Itasca State Park, and I really want to know when the Mississippi headwaters became a huge tourist attraction:

When I was a kid, we visited it them, and there was no gift shop that I can remember, no crowds, nothing. Just a pile of rocks, and a log for crossing the river:

It was difficult to find a nice, quiet picture spot to get a picture of the lake:

And me standing in the river, just downstream from the headwaters:

And that's it. There was a lot of bad weather coming back through southern Minnesota and Iowa, so I didn't get home until about 10 PM. The fish I brought back stayed frozen though, and I'm looking forward to cooking them soon.

Posted by rich ( Jul 17 2007, 10:59:34 AM CDT ) Permalink

Fishing Day 3

For day 3, Tim was our guide, on boat #3. In addition to my dad and myself, there were 4 other guests on the boat. We spent the entire day downrigging, something Tim said they do not normally do. It was a lot different than yesterday though - Larry did all the work of setting the poles and maintaining everything. Today, Tim let us do everything ourselves. After a quick lesson on the equipment, we were doing everything and it was a lot of work. For the entire day, we brought in 1 fish shy of our limit. The morning was slow, but the afternoon was incredible.

The water was like glass the entire day:

Here's the final pile of fish that were left after lunch (we did the short lunch again, so a few disappeared):

Couple more pictures from the boat on the way back:

Here's the boat we went out on:

And here's the end of the day picture of my dad and I, along with Tim:

(The fish were primarily from our boat, with a few from a second boat.)

The sunset that evening was really something to see:

One last picture of the three boats we went out on during this trip:

For all the complaining people do about mosquitos in Minnesota, the trip really wasn't the bad. In fact, the only one I saw on me the whole trip was this little guy that landed on my big toe in the cabin:

Posted by rich ( Jul 17 2007, 10:47:32 AM CDT ) Permalink

Fishing Day 2

Larry was out guide for the day, we were on boat #2 with three other guests (a father and his two sons, one just out of high school, the other just finishing up his military service). This day started out far better than the first day:

And here's a look back at the main building at the resort:

Here's the boat we went out on, felt a little smaller than the first days, but with only a total of 6 people, it wasn't bad:

I caught three walleyes in the morning. In the afternoon, we were downrigging, and caught a lot of walleyes and a few saugers.

Lunch was interesting. The first day, we had sandwiches on the boat, and that was it. This day, we did a shore lunch. Four of the boats from Ballards pulled up on Garden Island to a beach with picnic tables. Everything else was carried on the boats - grills, food, etc. The first from the morning were cleaned, and grilled. Being mostly a non-fish eating person, I was really not looking forward to this - but after trying a couple pieces of the freshly grilled fish, I don't think I've ever had a meal that good.

Here's the four boats that participated:

Here's a look back at the area where we ate lunch:

Me with the guide, and a walleye I caught:

The fish at the end of the day:

This is part of the Ballards group of boats headed back to the resort at the end of the day:

Another picture from the back of the boat, and one of the downriggers we used:

The ride to and from the area we were fishing in was rather long, a little over an hour each way.

Wild rice growing along the river, on the Canadian side:

And that was pretty much it for day 2.

Posted by rich ( Jul 17 2007, 10:32:18 AM CDT ) Permalink

Fishing Day 1

Scott was our guide, my dad and I were on boat# 1 with 4 other guys. Unfortunately, one of them was extremely hung over from the night before and spent the day either puking over the side of the boat, or sleeping down below. Not many pictures, it was raining off and on much of the day.

I caught three sturgeon that all needed to go back. Minimum size of 44", and you need to have a sturgeon stamp in advance of catching them. Not really a good day. There were a few other fish brought in by others, including my dad catching some flat fish that the guide didn't even recognize.

Picture of Scott holding one of my sturgeon, with my dad:

The boat we were on:

Scott was a good guide, but the day just didn't go well.

Posted by rich ( Jul 17 2007, 09:50:34 AM CDT ) Permalink

From International Falls to Ballards

We stopped by Smokey Bear Park for a quick picture with the giant bear. There's a picture of me by him when I was a little kid, so this will go nicely with that.

Here's a couple pictures of Rapid River:

And a frog that was watching me while taking the pictures:

Dinner on Thursday evening was here:

Willie the Walleye in Baudette:

And here's the room at Ballards Resort. It was really nice, the view from the windows was towards the river:

After getting checked in, and getting the Jeep unloaded, we took a drive up to Canada. Here's the view from Canada back towards the bridge that returns to the US.

Maple leafs everywhere. This is a picture of the floating dock I walked out on:

Found these guys out in a marsh:

Me with a giant beaver, holding Kassi, the younger of the two dogs my parents have:

And that was it for the day. We returned to the US, and started to get ready for three days of fishing.

Posted by rich ( Jul 17 2007, 09:32:37 AM CDT ) Permalink

20070711 Wednesday July 11, 2007

Minnesota's Iron Range

Today was spent wandering Minnesota's Iron Range.

The first stop was the World's Largest Authentic Hockey Stick in Eveleth (that's me in front of it):

Sadly, Honk The Moose will have to wait for another time.

I stopped at the Iron Ore Miner Statue in Chisholm:

And from there, we headed off to the Hibbing Taconite Company, for a tour of their open pit mining. I really felt like I was in a Discovery Channel special, it was great actually seeing the giant trucks they use in person.

Here's a shovel loading a truck:

The scale of all the equipment is just unreal. The shovels are electrically powered, the yellow poles are used to hold the cables supplying power up in the air so that the trucks and other equipment will not damage them. Mining occurs 24x7, Wednesdays are a maintenance day, when things slow down a little bit. The only weather that holds up operations is fog, snow barely effects it. As the guide pointed out, two feet of snow to those trucks is like 2 inches of snow to your car.

I really like this photo of two trucks passing:

After loading, they dump their load into the crushers, a nine story rock crusher that reduces it to 10-inch rocks:

Here is the result:

From there, its pulverized in these machines (the picture just doesn't due justice to the huge scale of all of this):

And is reduced to a fine powder that is then run through magnetic seprators to remove the iron (60% pure):

The resulting iron sludge is scraped off:

And put into more piles:

From there, its made into balls, 1 ton of iron for every 18 lbs. of clay:

There's 12 of those giant drums. Here you can see in the end of one of the drums, and see the balls coming out:

They're then separated by size:

And sent down conveyors to storage silos, where they'll then be shipped out by train:

We stopped after lunch at the Minnesota Museum of Mining. It was raining heavily and hailing, so no pictures. Lunch was at The Rock Bar and Grill. I assume the name came from the movie, The Rock - a poster for the movie was on the wall in the bar.

Tonight's hotel in International Falls:

And tonight's dinner, the Chocolate Moose Restaurant Company:

Tomorrow, we continue on to Baudette, and then Ballards Resort.

Posted by rich ( Jul 11 2007, 09:15:27 PM CDT ) Permalink

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