Crap I love: the Selle SMP Strike saddle

I’ve spent the last four years riding a handful of different bikes a few thousand miles total and in that time I’ve learned a lot about how my body works, what kind of bike feels most comfortable, and areas where comfort can be improved.

It took quite a bit of trial and error to find the perfect seat for my road bike. It’s no secret that for both men and women cyclists, sitting on your junk for hundreds of hours a year can cause a lot of problems (increased ED in male cyclists is a definite something I don’t look forward to). After getting saddle sore on the seats that came with the last three bikes I rode, I tried using different models with more padding (made problems even worse) and less padding (better, as you try to sit just on the bones of your butt) and I got a proper bike fitting on my last two bikes (this helped immensely). Eventually I found a Selle San Marco model with a cutaway mid-section. That seat worked pretty well until rides went beyond an hour long — eventually I’d move around on the saddle and settle too far forward or too much in the middle and end a ride sore as usual.

Recently I picked up a Selle SMP Strike Pro saddle for my newest bike. It’s a pretty weird looking saddle, with the entire middle cut away and oddly dropped nose. It also starts around $200 at most shops, which is a drag. After using the San Marco model (with the mid-section cut away) for a year, I had a feeling that going to a more extreme saddle like the Strike Pro would be a good next step. There’s some science on their site claiming that it’ll relieve pressure in all the right places.

I’ll admit that I’ve only ridden this saddle for about 100 miles in the week or two that I’ve had it but I have to say it’s miles ahead of anything I’ve used before. In the short time I’ve had this seat on my bike I’ve realized it forces you into good form and positioning because there’s really nowhere to sit besides the two rails. Unlike other saddles I’ve used, my entire weight rests on the bones of my pelvis (as it should) and never moves to other parts over time. Even on my longer rides, I felt perfectly fine at the end of the ride, with no numbness or soreness anywhere which is pretty much a first.

The only drawbacks I’ve found is the steep price (unless your local shop carries a ton of them and will let you test them out, you’ll have to pony up $200+ just to give it a try) and if you’re a weight weenie that cares about grams the seat is a little on the heavy side for a pro-level saddle (they make lighter models with varying levels of padding). But if you’re looking for a little piece of mind and bit more comfort on your long bike rides, I can’t recommend this saddle highly enough.

Globalization is freaking awesome

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Chinese Hammer fucking rules, originally uploaded by mathowie.

I stumbled across Chinese Hammer tonight and fell in love with it for a thousand reasons. Just the thought of someone halfway around the world mimicking a video from 1989 in a move-for-move remake. Also, the mom on the couch crocheting, oblivious to the awesome dancing. Then I posted it to MetaFilter only to find there’s a such thing as YouTube Doubler to play them side by side.

I captured the best bits in a short movie here. About 30 seconds in, things start matching up and it just keeps staying awesome for another minute or so.

update: cool, the dude has a ton of other videos (Thriller, more MC Hammer, etc)

More fun than a pile of powdered sugar

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You might have seen a hilarious / bizarre / historical set of found photos someone picked up at a swap meet of a 70s cocaine party. It’s really oddball stuff.

Even more odd, Astro Zombie (and friends) from MetaFilter started recreating the photos with their own mirrors and powdered sugar and a ridiculous new flickr pool was born.

ReCAPTCHA’s quality is going down?

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Several months ago, we implemented ReCAPTCHA on MetaFilter contact forms, to thwart spammers. It’s a good cause and a great idea: the nonsensical text you decode ends up helping public domain book scanning projects.

But lately, we’ve been getting a steady stream of complaints that it is not working or is unsolvable. Last night I tried out the contact form and was surprised that in the first ten images presented to me (keep hitting the little refresh button, the top of the three buttons on the control), at least half were totally undecipherable.

Here’s an actual screenshot of one I saw this morning. The first word is impossible to decipher. My question is, has ReCAPTCHA had such success that all we’re left with is the really, really bad book scans?

Podcasts are officially better than radio, thanks to user experience

The other day I realized that although I was skeptical of podcasting going all the way back to 2004, I have to admit that now in 2008, I vastly prefer the experience of listening to a podcast, when compared to listening to the radio (say, NPR as I am comparing voice podcasts vs. talk radio).

In my early college years, I delivered pizza and drove around for hours a day in my car, listening to mostly talk radio (KFI in Southern California) to keep myself from being bored. When I had a long commute in college for a few years, I started listening to NPR. I would drift in and out of stories and reports as I dropped off a pizza or had to run to class from the parking lot and I never really got the hang of the broadcast schedules. I haven’t had to commute by car regularly for over five years so I don’t have 5-10 hours to kill every week in a car and I listen to NPR much less.

So the other day I was running errands around town like I usually do. This entails driving a couple miles to my bank, a couple more miles to a downtown shop, and a few more miles to the grocery store. It’s a series of stops and starts and I have to pick up my mail down the street from my house and sometimes I get hot chocolate or food in a drive-thru and I realized the user experience of radio sucks for this. There are nothing but interruptions as I go about my day. I know I’m spoiled by having the internet around for so long and having a TiVo for the past 8 years. Everything remotely entertaining and informative in my life is completely on-demand for me — I can watch, read, or listen to anything I want, whenever I want, wherever I want.

Except Radio. With radio, I can’t follow every episode and I can’t even remember when stuff is on. While I long wanted to have a “TiVo for radio” what I really wanted was a On Demand radio service with pause capability, and that’s pretty much what podcasting gives you.

I know it’s still a pain in the butt to download and run iTunes, then sync to a device like an iPod/iPhone, then it’s a whole can of worms to get it playing back in your car, but once you’ve done the legwork, it’s a pretty amazing thing. I find in my regular in-town driving for common errands I have about 2-4 hours a week to kill in the car listening to music or podcasts. Currently, this lets me dutifully follow every show that I’m a fan of, and I can hear every segment of every episode without missing a beat (thanks to the mighty pause button) and it doesn’t entail sitting in a parking lot for 15 minutes waiting for an amazing interview to conclude. Over the course of the past year, I’ve worked through almost the entire back catalog at MaximumFun.org and I follow a couple of NPR’s podcasted shows, listening a little each time when I’m out driving around.

My truck came with XM radio and I get several NPR stations where I live, but ever since I started listening to podcasts on my iPhone in the car, I noticed I really don’t turn on the radio anymore, and it’s not because of the program quality. It’s all about the user experience.