Electric Bike Completed 2010

This summer I finished converting my bicycle (Faster and faster, a Bonelli Ultima) into an electric bike with a new nickname.

The bike meets all the minimum requirements for an E-bike in ontario as of August 10th 2010, and is a breeze to pilot even with the 10 kilogram pack on the rear rack. Since the assembly was finished I've tested it on the escarpment, near the lakes, and in tight city driving. The only rough ride I've encountered in August was in Welland, where Fitch St. meets First Ave. because of the abrupt hill combined with high traffic and bad pavement.

The Motor and controller came from Conhis Motors, the battery came from Coddpower. Canadian options in the DIY e-bike area are few and far between and often feature lacklustre options, but I'd buy another Bonelli bike which is Canadian.

I've investigated the idea of swapping the kint to a trike for cargo - again the hardware is difficult to find at prices matching my transportation budget. No worries, most incremental upgrades fare better in the long run anyway.

The Air Conditioning Issue

It has taken some time for me to publish anything about the summer heat - mostly because I have been enjoying it. That warm and humid feeling is not a bad thing, it is natural and I am really surprised at who has the most trouble with it. Unlike in previous posts where I highlight the difficulties that different generations have with technology the air conditioning craze is more economic. It is the comfortable middle class that has the most difficulty without it.

Wealthy Canadians seem to have dealt with the heat in more constructie ways, by using their money wisely - investing in summer properties near the water or farther north, and the Canadians hardest hit by the recession have switched off non-essentials (If you feel as though your debt load has peaked and you're still shivering, turn it off now.). It is the comfortable middle zone that engages in the most unidirectional consumption, dishing out billions of dollars on energy to power their cooling systems. That money is never coming back, it is not making them healthier, and the noise pollution can be as bad as vuvuzela competitions. Aside from all that, I believe this luxury is deserved to all those that can afford air conditinoing but can't afford to get away from urban and suburban heat.

There are some solutions that we need to look at to make urban spaces more acceptable for all people. It may be time to bring back the trees alongside the warmest roads, to provide natural heat blocking. Aside from my disbelief regarding A/C I also believe the best sunscreen is none - wear appropriate attire and visit safe locations on high UV days. More tree cover and pavillions would expand this realm and promote the outdoor spaces in your city (which can help bring new customers into small and medium businesses.

Public fountains - both the grand picturesque and the small drinking varieties can aid urban spaces by keeping people and the spaces they are in naturally cool. Wait, before you accuse me of wasting space with a grand fountain you should know why. In most old cities where fountains have remained a part of the local tradition it was a place to stop for a drink (new water spouts only), wash your feet and hands after a long voyage, or natual cooling zone. The city of Welland recently installed what they are calling a fountain into the 'gazing pond' in front of city hall. It is flawed. It recycles the water for show only, with no drinking zone. It is off limits to everyone, due to the fact that they recycle the water - liabilities remain. The fountain is unshaded on the Southern side of the plaza - meaning that the water will pick up heat and produce humid moisture rather than cooling the area. To fix Wellands fountain - cycle water from the canal, allow access for wading (but ban soap and additives), provide a drinking fountain with a downward facing spout for bottle carriers.

It's not difficult to beat the heat, but it is difficult to make changes and everyone has to ask their neighbours, city, and nation to support them in their effort to be cool.

Get it...

Paris Tokyo Bistro Review (Welland)

Paris Tokyo BistroOpened in late June 2010 the Paris Tokyo Bistro is the first sushi place I have seen in the city. Welland is a tough market for exotic cuisine. Luckily for Paris Tokyo Bistro it has the opportunity to capitalize on its french menu to offer something for nearly everyone.

Note: This Article Features images lost during the April-Aug23rd2010 Server Failure. They may or may not be replaced.


The "Welland" Maki Roll

This is worth the visit, a spicy roll with very safe and palatable ingredients. For sushi newcomers the Eel (Eil) may be a dealbreaker but rest assured that if you like chicken then this spicy morsel of meat will satisfy. I tried my first "Welland" Maki after a bowl of their Miso Soup, which is also recommended.

Comfortable Setting

All of the comforts of a luxury restaurant are there, without the rigid rules. An outdoor patio adjacent to the rear parking lot is available fo more pleasant days. The lighting is serene, and efforts can be seen hinting at gradual improvement on the theme of the restaurant.

Abundant and Adjacent Seating

Looking to bring in a larger group of your friends - there is room for them. The small foyer in the front hides the depth of the restaurant. Much like Palazzo Salon up the street there are many services availble by request that are not advertised very well.


No Fusion or Mix Combos

Back of Paris Tokyo BistroNo fusion cuisine or meal combos which is fine but misleading. The menu is simple with individual items. Also, most of the French Cuisine lacks the detail about ingredients that the Japanese menu has. I'd love to see sushi and a slice of sugar pie, OR roasted duck with baguette beside tempura - which could be possible** by putting the blocks together separately.

** Note: There wasn't Duck or Sugar Pie on the menu, but those are some seriously delicious foods I associate with the French/Quebecois in my family..

Time Consuming Meal

The restaurant is new, so waiting was to be expected while the new staff and owners settle in. Best just to seat yourself if nobody is present out front - although if you want to use the patio, it would be a good choice to announce your presence the the Maitre D' if you want to see the menu. I wouldn't mind seeing this place be a great place to stop by while out for a walk along the canal - grab a confection and a beverage to go OR plan a picnicbut you would probably have to plan well in advance.

Menu Issues

The menu is presented on unbound sheets of paper with no distinct charachteristics separating French and Japanese other than some side annotations. Though robust and intriguing there were very few specialized options - Kids, Vegetarian, Also, there is no drinks menu

I will revisit the Paris Tokyo Bistro soon and see if the dining experience has been made more transparent, consistent, and timely. Repeat: Looking to know what I can order, that I can order it any reasonable time, and that it'll be presented in the right order and time.

Go there.

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Public Service Radio w/RSS

An amazing amount of data is sent across the internet on a regular basis - and for most users discovering something new and relevant is a highlight. The reality is that many Internet users are repeat visitors to the same set of websites - this is something I have accepted and had made going over the daily local, national, and global events much faster. It could be even more efficient, and I will steal a page from the Kindle to outline what else I think is possible. Build a system that will do the following:

  • Report User Selections for Syndicated Content
    Simple Yes/No, to determine what the broadcast list should be for that zone.
  • Receive Transmissions from one of two bands
    Local section of bandwidth for rich content, deliver local promotions and public addresses
    Greater Regional band for mainstream/popular content to offset use of the local band
  • Minimize power use by standardizing the transmission schedule
    Morning news, Evening News, Special Events
  • Share in one of two ways - Locally and by Recommendation
    Local share allows you to bounce a copy of a given article, video, or radio program to someone facce to face
    Recommendations bounce your media to an established peer on the next given cycle, if they opt-in
  • Library Access and Resoure Centres
    Current events are fine, but any of these tools will need a deeper research function to be considered a serious device.
    The combined 100+ years of publication of National Geographic, New York Times, or any other historical works can be put into a system the size of a suitcase with Libraries that pay for the content offering an AYCE media experience.

This would be deconstructing RSS feeds, Podcasts, and Television into a manageable communications standard. Aside from reducing power consumption it would also aid in actve dissemination by allowing users to share content that they might not have originally discovered. LARC systems allow for media to be safe from corruption, destruction, or augmentation and they may aid in separating commerce from academia if the system is implemented properly. (Note: Advertisers typically benefit most from new publications, allowing for an advertisment free archive)

This device could be your computer as it is with some modifications - the important part is that a decentralized information network would allow stronger local communities to develop. Also, send less money to large corporations that have not actively improved services like DSL or Cable Internet services in your community. NIMBY to reduce Cable/DSL subscription numbers and "Think of the children" to support liberated information.

Shortwave Radio for your Car/Stereo

As a HAM/SWL you may eventually come to the point when you ask "Why are there no Shortwave Radios in Cars?", aside from the small market for such specialized equipment you may discover that the best radio is the one you already have. Rather than messing around with a crummy in dash Shortwave radio, of which you probably only use three or four stations get a short range FM transmitter and build a dock for your portable shortwave unit.

Understandably you are going to have to do your own math and work to get a proper dock, antenna, and FM transmitter for your vehicle. It can be easier than trying to rewire the proprietary connectors in your vehicle, and much more affordable if done right. On the odd occasion I choose to listen while on the road I use a FM Transmitter from DealExtreme - a respectable vendor from Hong Kong. One antena configuration was in a triangle wire antenna between the front seats to the two clothes hooks in the back - it was too complicated and unweildy. A modified active loop antenna strapped to the top of the radio solved the problem.

Find the radio for you and take it with you.

ATSC DB8 Antenna Reception Boost

In 2009 I made a rookie mistake - after owning a couple of yagi style integrated antennas I tried a DB8 and it failed to impress, I discovered why and how to fix it. The problem was that the old antennas had an amplifier built into the rotor and the new one did not. By adding the pre-amplifier signal quality jumped, I used an inexpensive one from Antra Antennas but I've now seen people using ones from The Source and other online vendors.

American Channels are usually foolproof due to signal strength, so when I failed to get a lock on any station it was clear there was a problem. The Pre-amplifier solution provided valuable information about the true quality of the DB8. I still find that my Yagi is better at getting SunTV (66) and Global (41) from Toronto for now. I will probably swap back to the DB8 in August 2011 and add a single VHF wire specially tuned for Channel 3 from Barrie.

Don't make the rookie mistake of forgetting your pre-amplifier when you install your outdoor antenna.

This problem supposedly exists on both sides of the border when people receive affordable antennas from overseas lacking information about signal dissipation. If you plan on running without a pre-amp you may have to swap from unbalanced 75ohm coaxial lines to balanced 300 ohm twin-lead. This was the type of wire you used to see on the back of television receivers connected with two screws.

Feel free to use my search box for more information about yagi, db8, and other antenna gear or take a peek at the antenna array that I use now. Here: http://www.kurtismccartney.com/antenna

The Ultimate Media Computer (That Doesn't Exist Yet)

I like the computers and media devices that I get to enjoy in Canadian society, there are some immediate shortcomings with regard to integration. If I was to seek out each of these modules (hardware) and try to configure software for ease of use I may run out of both time and money in the pursuit. So here goes the idea:

A Portable Computer with:

  1. Mini Projector Display that flips into a Head-Mounted Display
  2. Open-Standard Docking Station for Antennas/Sound/Home Theatre
  3. AM/FM Recorder (DVR Style) with Weeklong Program Listings
  4. ATSC Television DVR with Weeklong Program Listings
  5. Solar Charge with Second Hot-Swappable Battery (24hr Battery, 6hr Solar Charge)

Of course some of this ultimate computer would also require the ultimate workshop.

NPARC Charity Radiothon 2010

Each year around Canada Day the Niagara Peninsula Amateur Radio Club (NPARC) and some of its members contribute their time and some money to the Radiothon Charity - with dollars going to one of two charities of your choice - the CNIB or the St.Catharines Hospitals.

I'll be collecting pledges for the CNIB to help support quality of life programs for the visually impaired. These programs can provide opportunities for visually impaired persons to communicate, built job skills, and reach out to a greater community that includes both visually impaired and non-impaired persons.

This year the event will be held ON Canada Day, a Thursday. I will have a link to pledge online added to this post ASAP, until then feel free to contribute to my donation pool in person.

Quit Now, Save Money

I believe in Globalization as a powerful force for positive change, but it is important to remember your community and become more involved locally. Since I started KurtisMcCartney.com many things have changed - mostly stepping away from entities that consumed my time and my money.

Social Networks - I know who my friends are, and I know which people think they are my friends, and I know who is trying to sell me something by pretending to be my friend. These relationships are persistent across all people - we've become slightly better at categorizing and documenting them which is only partially good. The downfall is when points of information are missing, or when automated systems change friends into fans or acquaintances into very close friends (which they are not).

I quit social networking to spend more time getting to know the people I have real relationships with.

Cable/Satellite Television - These major corporations have been fueling the explosion of televised media and without them all of the actors and studio workers would be out of business right? Wrong. Since ditching the bills I've also enjoyed local events, cinema, music, and food (yes, food is a form of entertainment in my world). I haven't given up on television completely - the Super Bowl, Local Weather, and PBS Weekends are still good and are all accessible with my antenna.

I quit cable TV to keep my money to spend locally, get out with family and friends, and save on electricity by watching less television.

Hoarding Processed Food - You probably know one of those people that tries to live their life in bulk, and I cannot endorse changing them - you can only change yourself. This change works well even at discount supermarkets in southern Ontario,

  • Choose fresh produce, breads, and meat
  • Visit your local grocer regularily
  • Vote with your dollars, if that fails bargain with the produce manager
  • Embrace a DIY mentality at any level

I quit the box rush as much as possible to enjoy food, find new experiences, support extremely local business, live healthier, and save money.

No Ads, No Problem

There are no paid advertisements on KurtisMcCartney.com or any of the other Zen Alliance sites that I actively contribute to. This is because all of this information is sponsored by the authors, and in the case of this site it is yours truly.

I will make recommendations and those are out of a genuine satisfaction with quality, price, or some other factor that is typically mentioned. Off the top of my head I remember mentioning the following companies:

Antra Antennas (Ontario) or Motrak Antennas (Quebec)
These companies made it easy to save money and support local television. That is not their mission, it is mine, and their equipment was just right. Affordable, quality, cold-safe. I swapped over to Antra because they are speedy shippers and do business closer to Niagara.

Started off buying Nintendo DS parts, fixed some iPhone screens with parts from here, and have found numerous meaningful gifts and tools here. Easy to "lose" a lot of money here, as my gadget loving ways are overwhelmed.

Hands down one of the most rewarding experiences is growing right now in my family garden. Rather than dealing with the same six foods that every other gardener has in high supply RareSeeds.com allowed us to experiment with different colours, flavours, and more durable plants. In 2010 there is a "White" theme in the garden, with white tomatoes, white cucumber, and white flesh watermelon. Even though you had seed shipped in it is still local food, and that fresh off the vine taste is hard to duplicate.

REMEMBER: None of these vendors pay me, I pay them for products and occasionally for services. Usually with PayPal. So these are not what I would call advertisements as much as they are recommendations - which is also why they are in the "Recommended Menu" for at nearly a year after I purchase equipment. If their name isn't on there it is either because something has gone wrong or I have not needed to shop there. The goal is always to live with knowledge rather than products or money - but until that utopia arrives these are my go-to favourites.


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