Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Forge Athena 17" bicycle

My husband enjoys cycling, and I wanted to be able to ride with him sometimes. The bike I had was a garage sale find, but the frame was too big for me. I considered a bicycle from a bike store, but I had trouble paying $325+ for a bike that I might not end up riding that much.* Since I am a new rider, I wanted a step-through frame. I also wanted to be able to put my feet flat. I also wanted multiple speeds, so that I could pull my child trailer. I decided on the Forge Athena based on price and features.

What I like:
  • aluminum frame
  • 21 speed
  • step-through frame
  • quick release wheels and seat
  • name brand components
  • looks stylish (the paint is 2 toned which I didn't realize when I bought it)
  • fits me well (I'm 5'8)
  • upright riding position
  • saddle is comfortable (so far, haven't taken it more than a few miles)
  • very comfortable ride
  • kickstand
What I don't like:
  • can't put feet flat (that's ok, I just lower the seat) and as I get better this isn't a big deal
  • isn't really anywhere to put a water bottle or basket due to shape of the frame and where the brakes sit. The seat post has a shock absorber, so that's out too. I'm going to look at it more closely and see if I can figure out a solution.
  • set up was a pain. I'd advise to plan on spending an extra $50 to get a tune-up from a bike shop. Actually putting the bike together wasn't hard, but getting the bike ridable took longer than I expected. The wheels were out of true (my husband could play "yankee doodle" on the spokes.) The chain was rubbing on the derailleur cage. The brakes were not working correctly at all. One of the pedals was loose. After 2 trips to bike store (stupid derailleurs) and my husband tweaking things, it seems to be working perfectly now.
  • doesn't fit across the back of my sienna, even with the front wheel off. I have to lay a seat down. (my husband's mountain bike and road bike fit there). It would probably fit if I took off the back wheel, but I don't want to go through trying to get the chain on and off.
  • because of the step-through frame, the bike won't fit on our bike rack. I've ordered a bar to fix this, so we'll see how it goes.
My husband's comments:
  • he rode it on one of his usual rides and averaged 13 mph (instead of usual 16-18), but the frame was small for him and he had a bad head wind.
  • he likes way it rides
  • not a speed bike
Would I recommend it? So far, yes. I've had a lot of problems and it's taken me a while to get to ride it, but most of that was initial set up. I'll update this after I've ridden it a little more.

*(Although looking at how much I spent on this bike, the bike store bike wouldn't have been that much more expensive. If you can get free shipping, it would be a better deal.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

ipod touch vs ipad vs laptop vs desktop, an analogy

I've been trying to decide whether I want an ipod touch. Some things about them started bothering me. It got me thinking about windows and doors. A window lets me look outside. I can see what is going on. With most windows, I can open it and let in some air or yell to a friend walking by, and in an emergency I can get out of my house. A door is to let me interact with the outside. It isn't usually as convenient as a window for looking outside.

Ipod Touches and Ipads are like windows. They let me take a look at what is going on on the internet, but they don't let me interact well with it. Text entry is more difficult than on a keyboard. Yes, I can yell out the window at my friend, but if I really want to talk to him or her, I have to open a door. But a lot of the time, I just want to look. I want to see what people have to say, not add my own content.

Netbooks are like french doors, I can see out, fairly well, but I can go outside as well. They aren't quite as convenient as windows.

Desktops are like doors. I can open the door and go outside, but I don't want to sit on my couch in front of an open door all day either. Desktops can't move and are less convenient for a quick glance of what is going on outside. But if I want to go for a walk, they're the way to go.

My silly analogy has allowed me to understand the limitations of an iphone or ipopd touch. They are windows, and I am fine with that.

How to make a stick horse

My daughter wanted a pink stick horse, so we made one. Here's what I did. I used this pattern and watched the video series here. I think it could easily be made in 3 hours. (It's hard for me to judge because I had plenty of "helpers") I used fleece, yarn, buttons, felt, ribbon, a dowel, matching thread, and some heavy duty thread.
Here's what to do in a nutshell
  1. cut stick down to size. Cut grooves for attaching head and padding. Paint stick and let dry.
  2. trace and cut head pattern out of fleece
  3. wrap yarn into a mane. Cut the yarn, then lay on horse's head
  4. sew head together, right sides together. Flip head right side out
  5. draw ear pattern. cut out of fleece. hand sew ears to head.
  6. attaching padding to dowel. (this is a little fabric circle with padding to soften the end of the dowel)
  7. stuff head, leaving room for the dowel end.
  8. sew on eyes.
  9. attach head to dowel
  10. sew on felt nostrils and ribbon bridle.
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