Monday, October 27

Batteries Are Not Simple Anymore

Poorly Designed Cateye Light Breaks if You Try to Use Rechargeable Batteries!

Many LED bicycle lights, such as the Cateye HL-EL520 pictured above, use "AA" size batteries. It is also the size that my Fujifilm camera takes. Over time, I've come to discover that AA batteries come in different sizes and power outputs. SOME will make your camera or bike light perform less well than others, and what's good for one may not be best for the other. As I discovered, SOME will physically break your bike light. Here's the rundown.

Alkaline Batteries - These are the garden variety battery that most devices are designed around. They work fine, but are not rechargeable and don't last long in my camera. It'd also be nice to not have to stock up on batteries for a bright headlight. That started me on a search for better. Highly relevant to this story is that Duracell AA Alkaline batteries, when fresh, are rated at 1.5 V and have about 2500 mAh capacity. As you can see from the Duracell service life graph, when voltage gets down much below 1.2 V, the batteries are on their last legs.

Alkaline Battery Next to NiMH Rechargeable

Duracell Voltage Drop Over Time - FROM Duracell Site
NiMH Batteries - The current standard for rechargeable AA lights are NiMH. These are pretty much a direct substitute for alkalines in many applications. HOWEVER, a AA NiMH does not have the same nominal voltage as an alkaline battery. They start at 1.2 V and drop from there. What this means is that if you have a camera that takes AA batteries, it won't take very many pictures or flashes before it poops out. There's ANOTHER problem with NiMH batteries. While it is difficult to see in the photo above, NiMH batteries are a little bigger than their alkaline cousins. In the case of my Cateye light, I put a set of NiMH batteries in and it broke. Yup, that light lasted all of two minutes. Using a micrometer, the NiMH batteries scope out at 0.565 inches compared to 0.550 inches for the alkalines. Luckily, my bike shop was still open and they exchanged it. The clerk broke it worse so he simply shook his head. Now I ONLY use alkaline batteries in that light. Their bigger light, the 530, CAN accept NiMH batteries and the LED stays pretty bright for many hours. Then I recharge.
NiZn Rechargeable is Superior for Camera Usage and Not Bad for Bike Lights
NiZn Batteries - NiZn are a fairly new type of rechargeable. While they don't fit into my Cateye much better than the NiMH, (they are about 0.558 inches diameter) they drop right into my camera. What's more, while the NiMH start out at 1.2 V, the NiZn start out at 1.7 V. What this means is that they last in my camera much better than either NiMH or disposable alkalines. They also work well in bike lights that can accept them. They're a bit "hotter" than an alkaline, but not by much.
Other Rechargeables - There are two other main types of rechargeable batteries that you might want to use in your bike light, and one that you DO NOT. The first of these are NiCd batteries. They were what people used before NiMH came along. They don't last as long, have toxic cadmium, and have memory effect problems. NiCds are on the way out. The second are rechargeable alkaline batteries. I don't have any experience with them, but looking at Wikipedia, they don't look like they'd work well as camera or as bike light batteries. One that you do NOT want to use is the lithium rechargeable battery. The problem with them is they put out 3.6 V. That'd fry your camera, and might also fry a bike light.
Last Words - In summary, I'm quite happy with my NiZn batteries in my Fujifilm camera. I use the NiMH batteries in my Cateye HL-EL530, where they make a snug, but acceptable fit and last quite well. I AVOID using anything but old-fashioned alkalines in the HL-EL520 since NiMH will break it and the NiZn are tight enough that I'm reluctant to try. One wonders why Cateye did not provide even a smidge of clearance on that light. As a back-up light, it works OK. Alkalines will last for years when you rarely use them. One more thing. Disposable lithium batteries are now available. According to Wikipedia, it looks like they will probably last about 50% longer than disposable alkalines, but are a LOT more expensive.

Friday, October 24

Progress Toward Bike League Policy

Bike League Progress
In my previous post on Bike League need to establish a formal and public policy towards the periodic and continuing persecution of cyclists and their encounters with the law, HERE, I noted that the League had been silent on the subject of Cherokee Schill in Kentucky. Well, that silence has changed, with a promise that there is more to come.

HERE, a League cyclist recounts his ride with Schill. For my loyal reader, be sure to read the many comments. There are some troll comments and some from people that look to see the worst in the law, or the league. After seeing this post, I knew it was time to update my own.

More recently, the League presented a post on its view of the legal situation, HERE. This newer post, made yesterday, also has a fair number of comments, and, what's more, there is less extremism in most of these. In this second post, there's a promise for "what's next." I haven't seen that one yet. I hope it includes some proper statement about League policy/procedure in addition to what the League intends to do in the Schill case. We shall see. At a minimum, this represents a qualitative improvement over its response in the Reed Bates case, recounted HERE. Perhaps we ARE moving forward.

For those particularly interested in the situation, there's an extensive analysis of Cherokee's dilemma, made by expert cyclists HERE. As might be expected, this last link also has a lot of interesting and mostly well-thought-out comments.

For the typical newspaper story, with typical newspaper story comments, go HERE.

Sunday, October 19

Two Fairs

No Big Tex Fire this Year
This year, I was fortunate enough to go to two different state fairs. First, we went to the “Washington State Fair.” In past years, this fair was officially known as the “Western Washington State Fair,” but most often people called it the Puyallup Fair. I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to change the name, but they did. More recently I went to the much larger “State Fair of Texas.” Both fairs are big shindigs, but they differ in many ways as well. Notable for the Texas fair is the presence of “Big Tex.” Despite the clothing logos on his outfit, Big Tex is somewhat a relic of a less commercial and elaborate past of the fair. I think that is part of his appeal. The fair itself seems to largely revolve around the large number of fried food vendors, commercial outlets, and major sponsors. As it turns out, Chevrolet is the official car of this year’s fair and Bud Light is the official beer. This is combined with elaborate show halls that date back to the depression era. Art deco is all around you.

Beer Sponsor at a Family Park in Dallas?
Typical Vendors in a Big Hall

Statue Watches from the Dallas Animal Hall
Still, there ARE other things that harken back to an earlier era. There were cultural dances, such as the Irish dancing my daughter participated in. In addition, if you looked long and hard enough, there were arts and crafts and animal exhibits. I never got the feeling that these were a major fair focus anymore, but they’re there.

Irish Dancers Outside the "Hall of State" at State Fair of Texas
Proof there are Arts and Crafts at the Texas State Fair

Texas Farm Humor at State Fair of Texas
The Washington fair, while it’s also gotten FAR more commercial over the years, has a lot more exhibits and displays that are clearly homegrown. I don’t think you’d find a hand-painted poster at the Texas fair warning about danger to your dog’s feet from hot asphalt. Nor would you find the Puyallup Mineral Club talking to passersby about their hobby.
Of Course, 87F Would be a Good Mid Morning Temperature around DFW, but THIS Sign was in Puyallup

These Guys Loved Answering Questions and Even Smiled for the Camera
While I think I prefer the smaller Washington Fair over its slicker and far larger Texas cousin. It may well be that we’ll get to go to the Gray’s Harbor County Fair and get to see the organic produce display that was grown by the “Hoquiam High School Grizzlies.”

Cow Milking at the Puyallup Fair (NOT a Competitive Sport!)

Lighthouse Collection on Display in Puyallup. I Saw NO Lighthouses in Dallas

Friday, October 17

Daily Uncommon Courage

Ebola Virus, from Wikipedia
Pretty much everywhere on the news lately is that Ebola has emerged in the DFW Metroplex. Somewhat lost amongst all the coverage are the stories of courage. That courage comes from the nurses who are the ones on the very front of things. Nurses are on the front line, every day. It's always been that way. If you live, thank a nurse.
Nurses are the ones who form the first and most visible caregivers for anybody who has to receive any sort of serious healthcare. Less well known is that nurses also seem to become the first “people to blame” when things get out of hand. In the case of the Ebola case in Dallas, the first thing we heard was a “breach of protocol” when we heard that a “hospital worker” (AKA nurse) contracted the disease. It was MUCH later when it leaked out that there really was no effective protocol in place, and that there was no effective equipment in place for several days after an active Ebola patient came for care. The nurses and other staff were constantly exposed to fluids from the patient, for at least a couple of days. Confirmation that this was the case came when the CDC approved air travel for a nurse that had been exposed. Now, even the hospital claims that CDC protocol changed quite a few times. Well, duh. A month later, we're finally actually GETTING a protocol in place.
There is a lot of hysteria going about now. Schools with no real danger are closing. Politicians are pontificating. The airline is disinfecting a plane. News programs are feeding the frenzy - panic, as always, feeds journalism. In the meantime, nurses continue to do their jobs and, really, mostly go beyond the call of duty. Daily uncommon courage. The two nurses that cared for the Ebola patient and now have Ebola KNEW they were in serious danger before they cared for the patient. They KNEW they didn’t have all equipment that might have reduced their risk. However, they had a patient in need and they cared for him anyway. It’s what nurses do. I’d be proud to be half as brave. If we are lucky, they’ll be the only two infected. However, I’m totally sure that many other nurses went into harm’s way as well. Mostly, we’ll never know their names unless they contract Ebola. Let's pray that few more are taken.
Let's keep things straight:
  • NO nurse violated any established patient care protocol that anybody has documented
  • NO nurse traveled in violation of what the CDC approved
  • NO nurse spoke as a member of hospital, government, or other sort of management
  • NO nurse union was present at any of the actual events that we're now hearing about in news reports
  • NO member of management, nurse union, or government has gotten infected
  • Nobody that urged the public not to overreact has gotten infected, not even "Judge" Jenkins
  • Hysteria and groundless fear don't help anyone
Full disclosure: my wife is a RN that used to be in critical/intensive care, and was later in hospice care. She got left exposed by two hospitals, and we were fortunate she never got blamed or dead due to those actions. Her experience is no exception. It is a common situation, since hospital management would prefer that the blame not fall on themselves, nor the doctors that drive their tenure. As I stated, amongst nurses, courage is common daily. Keep that in mind if you ever get sick. Salutations are in order…
The Nurse Speaking had her PPE AFTER the Caregivers that Contracted Ebola Showed Symptoms. What about THOSE Who Cared for the First Patient?

Saturday, October 11

Oddities in Ocean Shores

Dinosaurian Cyclist!
First off, I've adapted a hat I originally got for skiing for cycling. It works quite well. It may not be quite as stylish as a black balaclava, but it IS a higher visibility item for those dark mornings that have crept up upon us once again.

Secondly, not ALL of the oddities are due to yours truly. Seen in the local "wild" acreage was the "hut" shown below. I have no idea who put it up, or why, but it seemed pretty cool all the same...

Perhaps Indians Have Moved Back into Ocean Shores? Or Might the Yeti be Moving In?