Friday, September 18, 2009

The Underappreciated Huffy Strider

Here we have the Huffy Strider S2000 10 speed road bike. And although we are talking about a Huffy bicycle, don't let the name fool you. This is not a Wal-Mart bike. In fact, this is a really cool bike, the latest in the bikes I have been trying to sell from home. This bike has a solid steel frame that can withstand a train wreck, and 26x1 3/8 wheels that roll it along like a Cadillac. This bike is not the lightest bicycle around (probably weighs more than 25 pounds) but once you get it going it almost rides on it's own perpetual motion. Handles great against headwinds, even better than my Raleigh Sport. This bike is definitely not a climber, though. The handlebars are to small to for upper body support and you will most likely be doing most of the work with your legs, hunched over and trying to balance yourself. It is a king on flat roads and park trails, but watch out with the brakes! A bike this old definitely needs new brakes installed, especially if you are doing any fast, serious riding. Like the handlebars, the brakes need to get caught up with the times. Overall I am happy with this buy. So if you are getting your legs underneath you, browse around for a bike like this. It is a good investment and usually you can find one at a reasonable price (cheaper than buying a new road bike, I guarantee you.)

January 4th 2012: When I wrote this article I was just getting my feet wet at the wonderful world of vintage bike resale. Looking back I can see how much I have matured in my observations of bicycles. This bike probably did not come from Wal-Mart, but most likely came from another department store. This article was written from an unbiased, bicycle newbie point of view. The huffy strider is a great bike that can take a beating. It performs as advertised, except that it doesn't have an advantage over my Raleigh Sport in headwinds. That was rider technique and not bicycle design. Huffy bikes had decently made bicycles in the 80's and 90's. The US cycling national team actually raced some Serotta made Huffy road bikes back in the 80's.-Johnny.

This rack holds a lot!

Try the Blackburn EX-1 rack for your vintage bike. See the link below to find one at a sports retailer near you.
Blackburn EX-1

Monday, September 14, 2009

College Students: Listen up.

How To make an A in Class

Making an A can be a challenge for anyone who is not the teacher’s pet and naturally would not want to be considered a teachers pet. You do not want your teacher to assume you’re stupid, but you do not want others to assume that you’re a dork. There is a way, however, one can succeed in the classroom environment without putting one’s dignity on the line. The following instruction outline will show how to be a not only a good student, but also how to make an A in the class.

To Begin with, there are a number of steps that one would need to follow in order to be successful in any class at any given situation. The steps are as follows.

Sit in the front of the class. From the first day of class, look for the available seat that will bring you the closest to the professor or instructor. The teacher will as a result direct his attention more to you and you will not lose focus on what he is saying. Warning, sitting in the back of the class will result in you dosing off or not paying attention. Students who sit in the back are often not noticed; therefore as a result you may even be counted absent from class.

Focus. Like Peter Elbow’s essay for desperation writing, “You must first admit your condition: Because of some mood or event or whatever, your mind is incapable of anything that can be called thought.”(Elbow 448). A lot of times one may get a teacher that is incurably boring or obnoxious. If you focus on the material and not the person who’s giving it, you will actually learn more in that situation. Warning, failure to not focus may result in you failing the class.

Ask questions. Teachers, especially the long winded charismatic ones, love it when you ask them questions. By asking questions, you give incentive for them to expound on their endless knowledge of a given subject and thus reducing their time in class to assign homework. This is an effective method many students take, but it is especially important if you are not familiar with the subject or have missed a day of class. Warning, not asking questions will make the teacher assume you know it all and he will make the test even harder.

Take notes. Taking notes is important in classes were there are long lectures involved. Usually the instructor will highlight key answers to an exam or test during these lectures and you want to make sure you jot them down on a piece of paper so as to have a study guide. Warning, not taking notes will make you fall asleep during lectures and then people will think you’re a loser.
Tear up your textbook. Does not mean ripping the book in half, you can do that after the semester is over. Rather, it requires reading through it and absorbing it like a dry sponge. Like Mortimer Adler’s essay, you do not want to be a passive collector of schoolbooks, rather a good student that succeeds in the class (Adler 428). Having your textbook in mint condition will not enable you to pass a class, especially if the teacher is a football coach that teaches history. You’ll learn nothing in that class besides making fire and reinventing the wheel all over again. So read, read, and read. Warning, failure not to do this will result in a nice looking textbook, but a horrible GPA.

Take an interest in the given material. The only way you’ll learn anything in school is if you strive to apply the knowledge you acquire. Make note cards, do reports, current events and presentations on the subject. Read ahead in your textbook even if it isn’t the assigned chapter. Do any extra credit the teacher assigns you to do. It may seem pointless to do all this extra work, but believe me, not only will you get an A in class but you’ll also have an edge over your peers later in life. Warning: not taking an active interest in class will result in poor study habits, carelessness, and even dropping out of high school.

These are the necessary procedures to get an A on your next report card. A legislator from the Texas House of Representatives once blamed teen pregnancies, High school dropouts, and other ills students put themselves through on cheerleader’s warm up routines. You can tell HE never got an A in class, that among other things. “There are no factors that influence your success, he only factor is you” (Guzman p.3). You do not have to be a rocket scientist or a teacher’s pet to get an A in class. Take it from me, I make A’s and I am still a normal human being.

Park your car, save the environment and the conomy

If you Drive it, You Buy It
Review of environmental awareness as of 2005

In the U.S there are very few alternatives to owning a vehicle. Even with the alternatives that exist, such as public transportation, fuel efficient vehicles, alternative fuels; these are few and limited in supply. The American public is still grasping the concept of a more fuel efficient society, one that doesn’t line the freeways with SUVs and large pickup trucks. This is certainly true in the Red State, where SUVs and pickup trucks are interwoven with the way of life and define the Texan. In response to Schnurman, the energy efficiency model that the U.S uses is failing and weighing down Americans with a worsening economy as a result.

To the middle class American, this has meant budgeting expenses, consuming fewer goods and cutting off travel expenses wherever they see necessary in their daily lives. It is true that Americans have adjusted to rising oil prices. As gas prices continue to descend, it is uncertain whether that will be the case in the near future. There is too much of a draw for U.S consumers not to consume and fuel the gas powered machine that the U.S has created. The aim is to spend, and there are now more retail and service jobs in the U.S than manufacturing jobs, which have gone overseas to foreign markets. Due to efforts for corporate companies to expand their locations, even within the U.S people are now obligated to travel longer distances from home to their work places.
U.S consumers traditionally reject the bringing forth of more centrally located communities. Traditionally the average American desires a house, a plot of land and at least two or more vehicles. With the worsening economy, even this standard of living is becoming difficult to maintain. The result is both husband and wife, sometimes children, taking on one or more jobs to afford this standard of living. Can we truly attribute all these problems to a lack of regulation in oil prices? Let the facts speak for themselves. Exxon Mobil made more in this year’s quarterly profit than the Gross National Product of Portugal. According to research done by Schnurman quoting from David Dropsey; he states that the S&P 500 will have a 15.4 growth in the third quarter. Schnurman insists that “without energy players, that would fall to 9.1 percent”. Some would ask who would benefit most from that increase. The middle class American certainly isn’t; there is no sufficient proof that it is.

Schnurman also states that oil companies “tend to slow production and sell more of their existing supply, delaying the refining of the lower-priced crude.” This means that oil companies make less oil to increase demand and profits, and that is more of a common practice than a mere tendency. Having discussed some facts, it is necessary for consumers to maintain their composure even under falling gas prices. A decrease in costs does not mean a permanent decrease. The American public cannot become complacent to the temporary solutions that oil companies offer at their own will. In order to halt a declining economy, grass roots efforts must be implemented if no federal action is taken.
As consumers, the American people must restructure their outlook on their own society. The development of smaller metropolises all interconnected by mass transit is a model that Canada and some European countries have followed. As a result, some countries have been able to afford free healthcare or healthcare provided through the government with a low tax percentage. This same approach could work on a larger scale; more and more smaller communities, more manufacturing jobs, more public transit. Instead of breaking the Treasury in half trying to improve other nations through the development of military arms, how much more beneficial would it be to improve the public transportation system. Were spending is not needed, there shouldn’t be. Instead of purchasing a large SUV, opt of the car that gives higher gas mileage. Commute on bicycle or on foot whenever the occasion presents itself. To corporate readers; do not try to corner the market in small communities. To small business owners; support one another and do not try to buy each other out. If there are more small business owners in smaller communities, there are more jobs and small business can take out corporate monsters instead of the opposite. To every town there should be stores, entertainment centers and businesses all in close proximity of each other. There should be an elimination of the need to get on a freeway to go to work, of five o clock traffic and an empty wallet at the fuel station. This is not merely singling out one sector of the U.S economy, it is singling out the future of the U.S economy.

Sounds like yesterday's news? I wrote this article in 2005 for my English Instructor. He gave me an F, but nor he nor many people were not aware of the relevance it has today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting Away on Your bike

There is no better feeling in the world than riding your bike in the late afternoon, the breeze gently touching your face as the last rays of sunlight paint it with an orange glow. Riding your bike is not only relaxing, it is also healthy. I have been riding bikes since I was little. Whenever I needed to get away to that special place, whether it was a small pond or the other side of town, my bicycle was always there to take me. No gas or batteries required, just the power of your legs to get you there. You're not thinking about your unemployment or lack of money or anything else when you ride. In fact, you forget about everything else; you just ride. Nowadays I try to get out and about often on my bike. On Sunday mornings, when all the streets are empty, I can ride my bike 30 miles around the city, hearing nothing but the gears move as I rotate the pedals. This feeling has inspired to replace short trips to the gym or the grocery store with a bike instead of the car I usually drive. Like me, there are others who are starting to take this trend. In my neighborhood alone laws have been set to protect the cycle commuter. There are signs which say "Share the Road" as cars should share the road and yielding to the cyclist. I strongly advocate that anyone who can move toward the lifestyle of cycle commuting.