Sunday, December 28, 2008

More trailer adventures

I had to build a new cargo box for the small trailer. This, by the way, is a modified Chariot kids trailer, which replaced my dead homebuilt one. It was donated to re-Cycles with the fabric in bad shape - stained and ripped. I did not need the support arms that went overhead to provide a canopy, so they were bent down and other mods done. The box I'd installed was a Rubbermaid container, previously scavenged from a ravine, and it was literally cracking from the workload of the previous winter. The box could also not hold my synth keyboard (the one used for the Propeller Dance classes) properly.

I wanted the new box to be long enough for the snyth, and strong enough to hold the amplifier, which is a fair bit heavier that the one I used last year. So I used plywood for the bottom, but good old coroplast for the sides and top. The pieces were "sewn" together with zipties, a technique I also used on the tailbox for my old recumbent bike.

Here's the trailer, with box removed (in foreground) and plywood bottom in for test-fitting.

Note that I had to notch the wood to fit the two vertical posts.

Test-fitting of the snyth:

Nice red coroplast pieces (again from a scavenging job)...

...stitched together.

And bolted to plywood floor.

And duct tape to cover and strengthen the joints. Instead of heating and bending the 'plast as I did with the tailbox I simply slit it halfway through and then folded it. Still plenty strong.

The inner upright posts are anchored to the outer horizontal ones through the 'plast.

The front frame tube drops, and the plywood was perhaps not going to hold all the weight at the front without bending and cracking, so a support was needed.

Since the wheel axle support bolts poke up through the frame rails I leveled things off a bit with some blue foam.

Loaded for the winter Community Day gig for the dance class. I added some of the same yellow reflecto stuff I used on the sides of the trike's cargo box.

The box works well, and it's nice to finally have a proper cover instead of always using a tarp. The only drawback to using coroplast for the box is that it won't take a lot of abuse in terms of having awkward / ill-fitting items stuffed inside, but of course doing that sort of thing (like transporting the ski-bike) is what cracked the Rubbermaid bin...

The single-sided wheel mounting makes for easy tube and tire change (a plus in the winter), and a few days later I swapped out the crappy no-name tires for a pair of Schwalbe Big Apples that had done five years duty on the cargo trike (now a little too worn for that heavy use, but still perfectly good for a trailer). The great thing about these tires is that you can run them at low psi (for passive suspension) but the sidewalls do not deform and they still roll well.

2009 update: a winter of towing the heavier amplifier has made me realize that it's just a bit too much for some of the hills I have to climb for the dance group gig. So I went back to the lighter, lesser-powered amp and it's fine. Since it's also smaller this allowed me to lop off about four inches of height from the box, which has the added benefit of making it much easier to get the trailer through my basement door. Yay for various small victories...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In the news

For the past while I've been musing about quitting the music business, at least in terms of music being my primary source of income. And by December I'd made up my mind, as the Xmas gigs just did not come through for me this year, and have been dwindling steadily over the past decade. And not getting a New Year's Eve. gig for the third year in a row cinched it. (More on all of this at a later date.)

On Wed. the 17th I had a noon-hour gig at the Clarica Centre downtown, and I was looking at it as my last pro gig. And on the morning of I got a phone call from Kate Porter, the Arts reporter with the CBC. She had been referred to me by another CBC employee, Emily Chung, who I know from the HPVOoO cycling gang. Kate was conveniently doing a story on how Xmas gigs for local musicans have been dropping off, and we arranged for her to interview me after the gig. Emily also showed up, and took a photo of me playing in Tom's trio, and that ended up on the CBC website with the story.

Kate also called over a cameraman (the CBC building is across the street from the Clarica Centre) as she wanted to get a video of me loading my drums onto my trailer and cycling off. The guy hustled over and seemed a bit unimpressed that this was "news", but the footage ended up on the TV news that night, though I did not see it. Kate's story ran on the "All in a Day" radio show, though it was only 2 minutes long (I need to learn to talk in soundbites - the poor woman probably spent far too long trying to find a snippet out of our rambling 20-minute chat).

The highlight for me was just after the story, as News Producer Laurence Wall (whom I'd met earlier in the year when he was MC for an IJO performance) chatted with host Adrian Harewood, and described my bike and trailer and how dedicated I was. :) Thanks Laurence!

And Emily just informed me that a photo Kate took of me using Emily's camera ended up in a CBC photo gallery: (photo #23)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

where I work (continuing series)

I haven't posted regarding this series in a while, where I like to show the different places a musician might be asked to perform. Sometimes you get a nice big stage and an attentive audience, and many times you're stuck in a corner and folks are hardly paying any attention.

Last Thursday I performed with the IJO at Dominion-Chalmers church, a beautiful building with lively acoustics, and a pipe organ console right in the middle of the "stage". I took some photos of the empty hall before everyone arrived for soundcheck and the show.
And one photo of the gig, courtesy of photographer Brett Delmage (more at the IJO website).

To get to this gig I used my cargo trike, which got pressed into service even though I had technically put it away for the winter (once salt gets put on the roads). This is because the large trailer, made for a friend who lets me borrow it back in the winter, could not hold this drum kit due to the large sizes of the drums themselves. I may have been able to pile it all in and bungee it up so it looked like the Grinch's sleigh all loaded with Whoville toys, but the roads were mostly bare and dry (meaning no wet slush) and I only had to go about nine blocks, so the trike made sense. I won't get into how it took me 20 minutes to go those nine blocks because of snarled traffic due to a bridge closure...

The next night I played a jazz quartet gig for the local Thai community at a hall off Riverside Drive. It was the 81st birthday of the King of Thailand, and he happens to be a jazz fan (I recall references to him in jazz books when I was younger). We played four of his personal compositions, then some standards. Also on the bill were some traditional Thai dancers, and throughout the hall various samples of food and drink were to be had.

Thai women can be distractingly pretty. ;)
At evening's end they all gathered to sing some birthday wishes to their King, led by the Thai ambassador (who was at the lectern at right):

Young drummers, pay attention to this handy tip: it's always good to set at least one drum level so it can hold food:

The following Sunday was Community Day for Propeller Dance, of which I do accompaniment for their Monday class. It was in a basic rec. hall that had the acoustics of a gymnasium, but fortunately the music did not have to be too loud and did not bounce all over the place. I simply set up near a corner, and then go hunting for a chair or two or table for the keyboard (since I'm traveling via pedal power I like to keep the weight down, so I don't bring a stool or stand with me).

(I should've taken the photo from further away to show perspective with the room, but oh well.)

I have a fourth entry, but it also involved a new way of getting to the gig, so that will get its own post.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Real Hobbitts?

I've always had an interest in anthropology, and a few years ago things were shaken up by the discovery of some controversial bones on a small Indonesian island. They seemed to be of little people that may not have been Homo Sapiens, and they existed up until recent times.

See more at:


A review of the above program:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

IJO Benny Goodman tribute

This Thursday the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra will once again take the stage at Dominion-Chalmers Church, this time to present our tribute to the famous 1938 Benny Goodman Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall.

The original concert was the first time "Jazz" was presented in a concert hall, and it was a roaring success. The concert was also recorded, though this fact was forgotten until Goodman found the discs in his house during a move around 1950 or so. The recording was subsequently released and went on to be one of the biggest selling jazz albums of all time.

I discovered this music when I was five years old and leafing through my parents record collection. After I heard Gene Krupa on drums my focus intensified (I had already been banging on pot and pans) and I just about wore that album out. I'm sure my family got sick of hearing it after a while, but not enough so that they didn't get me my first drumset when I was six! :) My drumming really started with this album, so it's quite thrill to be playing this music 40+ yars later with the IJO.

Technical notes: for this music I had to decide as to how authentic I wanted to get in its reproduction. Drum sets in the 1930s didn't have Ride cymbals (the largest of the cymbal family in diameter) for that typical"ding dinga ding" sound one most often hears in jazz. Time was mainly kept using press rolls on the snare drum (coming from that drum's military origins) and a steady 4/4 on the bass drum. The hi-hat did exist and was used, mainly as contrast to the rolls, with a closed dry sound for quiet sections, and a sloshy open sound when the music started to shout.

When I was growing up I saw clips of Gene Krupa (and others) on TV playing these old songs, but of course they kept with modern times and used the ride cymbal. But I also knew the music did not sound quite the same, and it took a while to figure out why. When I later found out the correct style I noted it but still used the ride like everyone else did whenever I played Sing Sing Sing. But when IJO dirctor Adrian Cho told me we'd be recreating much of the 1938 concert I decided to use the correct playing style.

The main issue for me has been to keep the press roll style swinging but also QUIET. It's a fairly busy noise going on, and quite fun to do, but it's really easy to let the volume build, and so I'm trying to behave. ;) If one listens to the original recordings one can hear Krupa snapping off rim shots and other little sticking tricks, which would interrupt the flow if one was playing a ride or the hi-hat, but since one is already grooving on the drum one can add comments to the sound without disturbing the rhythmic flow.

I'm also using thin 7A sticks, the kind I'd normally only use for quiet, small-group jazz gigs, as back in those days that was about the largest available. And that size helps keep the volume down and also reduces mass in the hands for the various sticking tricks. I guess if I wanted total authenticity I'd also use calf heads, but umm, no thanks. They are expensive, and like any natural product they are subject to humidity and temperature fluctuations, and the drums can go out of tune during a show as the room's moisture content changes. Instead I'm using Remo's Fiberskyn heads, which do a pretty good job at emulating calf. (I've used these on my 1966 Rogers kit for all my IJO large-group gigs.)

Probably the main highlight for me on this show is that we will be playing the FULL version of Sing Sing Sing, which means also the Part 2 that is on the recording but not in published sheet music (just about every version you hear of this song by any band will only do Part 1). Part 2 was a Head arrangement, meaning it was put together by the band at rehearals and on gigs without being written down at first. So while I've played this song many times this will be the first with the full version!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toy Parade

This past Saturday HPVOoO took part in the annual Toy Parade. In past years we've even won a few awards with our float ideas, but so far we've not been notified about anything for this year. ;)

As in the other parades, our modus operandi is to use Richard's Greenspeed tandem trike pulling the large trailer with some sort of theme on it. The rest of us circle around this rig on our bikes, which are usually also decorated. This makes the riding a lot more fun than just moving forward at the usual parade crawl, and helps us keep warm!

This year Alex supplied a large inflatable snowman, so that was put on the back end, then a tree was added, and room was left at the front for various members' kids to sit and wave. Our staging area was on the Laurier Bridge. It was a cold, windy day, and being on the bridge made us feel very bit of the chill. Below, the trailer prep begins (earlier in the week folks had gathered at Richard's to test-fit everything together so that assembly time would be quick).

Alex's bike even had reinder on it.

I rode the tiny trike. It's fun to ride, and I'd like to build one my size some day.

Charles is either doing a robot dance, or this should be captioned "Invisible Broom".

Snowman and tree and kids are all ready to go! (Though some are being silly and pretending to nap in the -10C windchill)

One does not see horses all that often in an urban environment:

I put my camera away once the parade started. Charles has some photos, and Richard's will be up whenever he sorts his server issues out. The parade was fun, and as always the route was packed with adults and kids. Afterwards we rode (still in parade mode) over to the Royal Oak by Pretoria Bridge for lunch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

bike light

I arrived at the re-Cycles shop near closing time tonight and one of the guys says "hey Mark, someone dropped this off for you".

A curious looking thing, with an obvious seatpost clamp at one end. But what exactly IS it?

Those bumps on the thicker section look to be battery compartments:

Oh, it opens up...

To reveal a truly geeky thing:

And it lights up!!!
(It takes eight AA batteries, and a few of mine need recharging)

This thing is retro-geeky beyond words. I don't know if I actually want to fit it to any of my bikes, and most of you know I'm not at all shy when it comes to weird bikey things. Hmm...

Thanks (I think) to William Watt for dropping this off.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween costume

I had a few Halloween events this year, and thought it would be fun to make a costume. I bought some outlandish hats (who, moi?) at Value Village, but instead of using any of them I opted for a rather sinister look in dressing as a medieval plague doctor.

Here's what I came up with, using an old trenchcoat, my elderly "Indiana Jones" model fedora (didn't have a black hat), and the mask was made from a generic plastic mask from Wallack's Art Supply, to which I fastened a beak made from cardboard, tape, and some black fleece fabric. I'd like to make a better mask next time, preferably out of leather like the original ones. But this did the trick:

(thanks to RealGrouchy for the photo).

Yes, I know it also looks like Black Spy from Mad Magazine...

I wore this first for a Halloween party of the Monday dance class for which I do music accompaniment, then for a 'Ween night ride with HPVOoO friends, then later on to a party at my neighbour's place. It seemed to creep people out, so it had the desired effect. But it was NOT a good thing to wear while riding a bike...

The plague doctor wore what could be called the first hazmat gear. It was thought that the plague was spread through the air, and so he was covered from had to toe. The hat was what all doctors wore in the day (an identifier, much like a chef's hat), and the clothing was coated with wax to keep anything from sticking to it.

The beak of the mask was stuffed with herbs and camphor to act as a sort of gas mask, and while it of course did nothing to stop non-existent plague vapours it probably at least helped cover up the smell of dying and dead people. The creepy look also served as a warning to people, per a comment I found: "The Plague Doctor's appearance was actually meant to strike fear into the populace. There was no mass communication at the time and his appearance sent the message - 'Stay in your homes - plague is here. You may be dead within days.' It was a form of crowd control, basically."

X-rays from sticky tape

This is rather interesting:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bugs Bunny faves

Reliving my childhood...

As a kid that actually liked some classical music I thought these Bugs Bunny episodes were (and still are) absolutely brilliant:

Long Haired Hare

Rabbit of Seville

Saturday, November 01, 2008

May you live in interesting times - pt. 6

"Decades of extraordinary growth have catapulted China to the top of the world's economic charts, earning the admiration of much of the rest of the world. Indeed, China's continued economic rise has been one of the few certainties of the 21st century. Increasingly, however, the China story is not one of economic miracle but of environmental disaster."

Full article:

May you live in interesting times - pt. 5

The God That Failed - The 30-Year Lie of the Market Cult

"Beginning with Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979, government after government -- and party after party -- fell to the onslaught of an extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the "Chicago School." Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an unregulated market would always "correct" itself, because its workings are based on entirely rational and quantifiable principles."

Read the rest here:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Interesting gig

This coming Sunday afternoon I get to provide music for a dance event with Propeller Dance and collective gulp. While I'm use to coming up with ideas for the 1.5 hour Propeller classes this event is for 3 hours. So the various synths, loop pedal, and acoustic instruments will be getting a good workout!

Here's the blurb:

Contact improvisation JAM

Join Propeller Dance and collective (gulp) dance projects for an introductory contact improvisation workshop and JAM. Live music by Mark Rehder. Contact improvisation is a dance form exploring the physics of two (or more) bodies in motion. It can fly high and fast, or be subtle, slow and soft. It’s about connection, gravity, and fun.

When: Sunday, October 26th, 2008; 1:30 to 4:30 PM
Where: Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street, 2nd floor.
Cost: Sliding scale $5-10

This workshop is geared to dancers with some experience in dance and are comfortable with touch and contact between dancers. LIMITED SUPPORT will be available.

Wear clothing you can move in. No jewelry or scents, please.
Questions? Contact: collectivegulp AT or phone: 613-794-1102

Monday, October 20, 2008

An odd yet cool little trike

I've come across this rather odd little tricycle. It was donated to re-Cycles, and when it came in we stared at the rusty frame and noticed the missing parts and went "what the heck are we going to do with this?". So I took it home to assess what was needed, and decided it could be revived.

It's a bit of a mystery as to who actually made this thing, but more on that later. For now we look at photos!

Here's how it looked when it was donated:

Nice, eh? The interesting thing about this little beastie is that the front half of the frame tilts! The pivot for the tilting mechanism (situated on the axis of the two rear wheel axles) was quite seized up, and the rear drum brake was also stuck.

Here's the back end:

Oil was applied to the tilter in a few doses, and after a few days and some wrestling it eventually broke free.

The 16" drum brake wheel was replaced with an identical unit, as through a stroke of goofy luck I'd had one lying around for a few years. It had come from a similar trike whose owner had left its parts at re-Cycles while he took the frame home to repaint, and never came back (one reason re-Cycles had to adopt a policy against bikes or parts being left overnight) .

Yes, that is a Shimano 3-speed hub with extra-long axle. Both chains had to come off for a good scrubbing.

Close-up of rear underside, showing pivot. The rubber sleeve encloses the U-joint the connects the central front chain to the right-side drive chain:

Here it is all apart, ready for some sanding and painting:

Since I was only painting with a spray can, I was not going to be anal retentive about making the finish perfect. I got most of the rust off, and the downtube is still a bit bumpy under the paint. I decided to go wit two strong colours, and settled on a dark green frame, with yellow fenders and chainguard. Of course I realize when I'm about to paint that those are also the factory colours for John Deere tractors...

So here is everything painted and awaiting reassembly:

The only original paint showing its robin's egg blue is the steerer tube, and a bit underneath the U-joint area.

And here's the assembled little beastie:

Yes, the entire front end tilts!

Halloween pumpkin and groceries fit nicely in the big Wald basket (it was missing its original one):

Now, back to the mystery. The head badge said "Sears" (of course the trike was not actually made by them), while the front fender flap says "Miyata". But there are no photos of a Miyata leaning trike to be found on the Net, outside of a few photos taken by my friend Richard of another local one here in Ottawa:

Note the design of the rear basket, as we'll refer to it later.

There IS a similar trike called the Bridgestone Picnica Wagon (and a newer Picnica that is a 2-wheel folding bike), and its rear frame, fenders and chainguard look to be identical to this Miyata / Sears. But the drivetrain is different, and from what I can tell this one does not tilt.

Here are two photos, one from eBay, and the other from random surfing (they look like twins, don't they? Maybe it's even the exact same trike in two different places.)

Now, recall the basket on the blue Miyata. It looks identical to the one on the above trikes! And so the plot thickens and I'm still going to presume that Miyata made my trike. Of course maybe Bridgestone made this trike for Miyata (not uncommon in the bike biz), but that does not explain the differences in the frame and drivetrain.

Mike Plummer and Kundstadt Sports recently confirmed for me that this was inded built by Miyata in the mid to late 1970's, as they sold a few of them back then. Since there's no info on the Net about a Miyata trike I'll perhaps become the main web resource for this little thing, just as my website seems to have the only info on the Auto-Mini folding bike (Google it and you'll see!). :)

I'd like to keep this trike for oddity's sake if nothing else, but it's way too small to ride comfortably. Its design really doesn't make much sense to me, but someone (or a design committee) put a lot of thought into it, and it got corporate approval to be manufactured. The tilting feature is cool, so it doesn't act like a regular trike and one can go around corners with ease, but then you also lose the stability while stopped that a conventional trike offers (because of course the frame will flop to either side if you're not paying attention). So all I can figure is that one gets the cornering of a 2-wheel bike, with the ability to carry a small load out back, and that's about it.

Oh, and just to make life interesting, Bridgestone makes a trike called the Minna, with two wheels in front!