Friday, April 28, 2006

First Article on the Illinois Valley Voice

The first article is up on the Illinois Valley Voice blog! Don't worry. The Tullio's Blog won't become the advertising arm of the Voice. I'm just a bit excited about getting it off the ground. The first story is about a group of peace activists who hold a weekly vigil in front of the Bureau County Courthouse. Another story is in the works about funding problems for Starved Rock State Park, Illinois' most popular state park. That should be up soon. The Tullio's Blog will be back to bikes and personal rants, I promise.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

Things have been hopping. In addition to selling some Herons and parts, I've been at work on the Illinois Valley Voice. I should have the first real article up on that within the next day or two. I'm also working on some changes at Heron and some new products for Tullio's. We are starting to run short of some Nitto and Carradice items, and reorder time offers plenty of interesting opportunities! Keep tuned for more.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another Blog

I am working with a friend, Julia Messina, on a new blog called the Illinois Valley Voice. This blog will offer news, features, and commentary about our area, the Illinois Valley, encompassing LaSalle, Bureau, and Putnam Counties. We will both write, and we are encouraging others to write as well. So far, the only thing on the blog is a nifty quote from Hunter S. Thompson, but we expect to have full-length articles soon. If you have any ideas or comments, please drop us a line!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Much Ado About Headsets

I’ve noticed a lot of discussion lately on several bicycle forums about headsets. Questions are often raised about whether a particular headset is good enough or worth the money. Personally, I believe that the headset is one of the least important components on a bicycle. If properly adjusted, the cheapies generally do the job well enough.

I can hear the protests already, “Oh, I bought a cheapie once and it wore out right away,” or “Cheap headsets require too much maintenance.” These statements might be true, but they do not mean that cheap headsets won’t do the job well enough. A headset that feels pitted or dimpled when you turn it by hand will, most often, feel just fine while riding. Unless a headset is seriously out of adjustment, it’s hard to notice a bad one just by riding it.

In practice, headsets turn very little. Initiating a turn on the bike requires a very small movement at the headset. A worn headset will still do the job just fine. In fact, a loose headset will still do the job just fine. You might be able to feel some play when braking or riding out of the saddle, but that generally won’t affect how you steer. As the headset wears further and the play becomes more noticeable, the annoyance factor might increase, but you should still be able to turn the bike without much drama.

Of course, that’s not to say that the headset can’t degrade to the point where it does affect performance. However, that point is far beyond where most cyclists believe it is.

I don’t mean to imply by all this that cheap headsets will wear out faster than fancy ones. Yes, a $130 Chris King headset might last longer than a $10 Tange but not 13 times as long. That $10 Tange is probably the best available in the bang-for-the-buck category, and the King might be the worst. That doesn’t mean that buying the King is inherently a bad idea. They are US-made by an environmentally-sensitive company. Plus, to many folks, they are plain neat. There are plenty of reasons to buy a King (or a Campy or a Stronglight or an FSA . . .). Buy whatever makes you happy, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Most headsets do the job that they need to do reasonably well. In fact, I happen to sell a few of them myself right here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More Best of Tullio's, Again

Best Bob Dylan Song - "Hurricane"Best Heavy Metal Band - Motorhead
Best Van Halen Front Man - David Lee Roth (OK, he might be a jerk, but still . . .)
Best Proposed Wisconsin License Plate Slogan - "Eat Cheese or Die"
Best Place in the US to Ride Your Bicycle - Wisconsin
Best Recycling of Aristotle's Syllogism to Make a Career in Academia - Stephen Toulmin
Best Chicago Hot Dog Joint - Superdawg Drive-In

Friday, April 21, 2006

More Health Stats

I've been looking around the World Health Organization (WHO) website and found some more interesting statistics.

28 countries have a lower maternal mortality rate than the US: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the United Kingdom.

33 countries have a lower neonatal mortality rate: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

36 countries have a lower child (under 5) mortality rate: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

As I said in my reply to an earlier comment, many factors will affect these figures besides the quality of our health care system. However, given the wealth of the US, it does make one pause to wonder why the US fares so poorly in these data.

Source, 2005 World Health Report, World Health Organization (WHO)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

World's Best Health Care?

I learned an interesting tidbit today. There are 27 countries that have a higher life expectancy than the US: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The US is tied for 27th place with Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba (!), Denmark, Kuwait, Portugal, and Slovenia.

Source: The World Health Report 2005, World Health Organization (WHO)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Rivendell Reader Sneak Peak

*Simple, Practical, and Proven Grunts and Gestures*

Og been thinking. Maybe walking upright too efficient. What big hurry anyway? No see ground. How going to find good bugs? Lately Og walk with knuckle on ground. See things better. No hurt leg. Make arm strong good for swinging club. Me like knuckle on ground.

Inside This Issue:
Opposable Thumb - Pros and Cons
MUSA Pelts for Keep Warm
I Invented Fire - by Gary Fisher
Bronze Age: Was It Necessary?
Ooh-Ooh, Aaahh, Errrr, Ooh!

and Our Regular Tech Feature: I'm Right and Your Wrong - by Jobst Brandt

Sneak Peak of Future Rivendell Reader

A Quarterly for Folks Who Know That "Two Bits" is a Quarter

Apologies for the delay in shipment of our latest Rivendell Reader. As you might have heard, we have decided to forgo computers and other modern print technology (apologies to technophiles). We have decided that the experience of writing should not be diluted by such instruments.

So, all of our writing shall now be by quill and ink (apologies to birds and squids). If that should prove to be unsatisfactory, we are prepared to "publish" the Reader on various cave walls using local clays for paint. In a similar fashion, we have chosen to have copies of the Reader printed not by modern copiers or presses but by Franciscan monks (apologies to Johannes Gutenberg).

Also, all illustrations in the Reader are now done by JoJo, a chimpanzee in the Oakland Zoo who flings her poop at a blank canvas.

In This Issue:
Our New Draisienne Frame
Install Your Chris King Headset with a Rock - We Show You How!
Woods Valves: A Detailed History - by Sheldon Brown
Our New Woods Valve Tubes - The "Lickety Spit" by Panaracer
Moogie Ock Ock Brrrrinnnngg Look At Me Look At Me! - by Joe Starck
More New Products Excreted by Insects
Riding Across South America on a Draisienne with Only One Shoe - by Lon Haldeman
The Safe Way to Install Fenders Using Twigs and Chewing Gum
How I Invented the Time-Space Continuum - by Gary Fisher
Grant Flies to Japan to Interview Nitto's Janitor
Short on Cash: We're Stumped!
Tech Feature: You're Wrong! - by Jobst Brandt

More Best of Tullio's

Best Old School Rap Song - "Bust a Move" by Young MC
Best Electric Guitar - Fender Telecaster (especially Broadcaster and Nocaster variants)
Best Neil Young Song - (tie) "Powderfinger" and "Cowgirl in the Sand"
Best Disco Song - "Rubberband Man" by the Spinners
Best Living Female Vocalist - k.d. lang
Best Electric Organ - Hammond B3 with Leslie Speakers (was there any doubt?)
Best Guit-Steel Player - Junior Brown (Junior is THE man!)
Best Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical - Jesus Christ Superstar

Chinese President Visits US

Chinese President Hu Jintao is currently visiting the US and has commented that America has nothing to fear from China. Of course, China finances our government and has a virtual monopoly on the production of the carbon fiber that our aerospace and military industries are completely dependent upon. And they make all the cheap crap we buy at WalMart. So, no need to worry. Hu assures us that they will be benevolent overlords.