How To Change the Hydraulic Brake Pads on Your Bicycle (and properly bleed the lines)

This procedure is pretty generic and should work with most hydraulic brakes. One of the goals of this post was to use as few photos as possible.

It’s important that you don’t skip any steps here.  Skipping a step or not following the directions exactly may result in spilling hydraulic fluid, dropping the hydraulic reservoir by accident and splashing it on your friend’s shoes, or worse, getting hydraulic fluid on your pads.

There are two reasons you might want to change your pads:

  1. They got contaminated with oil of some type. You will know they got contaminated because they will make a very loud SQUAWK when you use them
  2. They are worn out.  You will know they are beginning to be too thin because they will start to make an unpleasant sound when you brake or may begin to vibrate. New pads are 8-12 mm thick. You’ll want to check with the manufacturer to see when you should replace them.

What you need:

  1. Either a really robust set of Allen and Torx wrenches, or one of the kits they sell for bikes.  These will usually have everything you need
  2. A small glass or a large shot glass, something you can place the reservoir into and is a tight enough fit to keep it from falling over.
  3. Some sort of container, like a shampoo bottle or something (cleaned) that you can use to dispose the fluid.  If you don’t have a clumsy friend around to accidentally spill your fluid on the ground, here is a discussion of several interesting methods of disposal/recycling. I prefer the recycling approach.
  4. A SPRAY bottle of 95% Isopropyl alcohol – they sell them at Walgreens in the first aid area.
  5. A roll of paper towels
  6. A small pair of flat ended pliers. A set like this will serve you well for many years.


  1. Remove both wheels and support the bike somehow. I used a large plastic bin and a friend to support the front fork and keep the bike from falling on my head.  We supported the bike at the center with an old paint can. The plastic bin also makes a convenient bench.  Find the smallest chair you can, or a log, or maybe your spouse’s favorite footstool, so you have something to sit on.
  2. Make certain you read through this procedure ENTIRELY and check as you read that you have a tool that will fit each bolt head.
  3. Buy one of these.  It comes with more than enough oil for the job for two brakes, even if you accidentally spill the entire reservoir on your friend because you have butter fingers.
  4. To avoid contaminating the brake pads, first we are going to completely drain the fluid from the system.
    1. The brake assembly down by the disk, located usually on the left side of the fork a the center of the wheel, is called the “caliper” and it comes apart into two pieces.  Observe how the hydraulic line from the lever housing goes into only one side of the caliper. This will be the “inside” caliper.  I will call the other one the “outside caliper.”
    2. On the bottom of the outside brake caliper, locate a small, plastic cap.  Pop the cap off, holding it securely.  There should be a little ring holding it to the bleed valve nipple, but they do break sometimes.  You don’t want to lose this because dirt can get compacted in the nipple and, if you perform this procedure in the future after having lost that cap, you will surely clog your lines.
    3. In the kit you bought, locate the flat, elliptical tool that has notches in both ends. The tool is a flat piece of plastic, shaped roughly like an American football. Clip it to the end of the clear tube. One of the notches may fit your nipple better than the other. Use the end that fits most snugly.
    4. Test that you can seat it all the way down onto the nipple. This is super important. It must be ALL THE WAY SEATED. Just leave it there like that. It should stay, all on its own.  If it doesn’t, you screwed up.  Try again with the other side or get some help because you might not have the chops to do this.
    5. Using your pinky and thumb, attach one of the knobby things with the flanged nipples to the syringe.  It’s plastic, so be careful not to cross thread! The rule of thumb with plastic parts is don’t go past pinky tight!

  1. Fully depress the syringe plunger
    1. Attach the syringe to the tube. 
    2. On the outside caliper, above the nipple, is a screw.  Loosen it two or three turns
    3. On the brake lever housing you will see a circular, flat, screw head. It receives one of the smaller Allen wrenches. Completely remove it and put it in a bowl that you borrow from your wife’s pantry without telling her.
    4. Pull the plunger, drawing all of the fluid into it.  If there is no fluid and it is hard to pull, then the valve didn’t open.  Maybe you turned the wrong screw.
    5. Once you have successfully drawn out all the fluid, tighten the valve screw and, while pulling gently on the plunger, remove the hose from the nipple and dispose of the fluid into the shampoo bottle. Thoroughly clean the syringe and hose using the isopropyl alcohol. Place the tip of the spray bottle of isopropyl directly up to the end of the hose and flush the tube.

Congrats! You have successfully drained the system for the front brakes.

Replacing the brake pads

What you will need:

  1. You need to have first drained the system. If you skipped the first half of this checklist, go back and do it. Seriously. It is important that you drain the system or you will almost certainly contaminate the pads and make a fucking mess.
  2. A pair of helping hands OR some rubber bands

The Procedure

  1. The pads are held in by the geometry of the calipers and also a cotter pin, or maybe a regular bolt. Remove the cotter pin (or the single bolt). If it is a cotter pin, bend the end straight with a mini pair of flat nosed pliers.
  2. The caliper is held together by two bolts.  They will likely be Torx. Remove them both and place them in the bowl. The assembly should fall apart in your hand. Note that hydraulic fluid does not leak out all over the place. This is because you were smart, and drained it all.
  3. There may be some small tiny amount of leakage. wipe down the area, as follows: Spray a towel with isopropyl alcohol and clean the entire area thoroughly.  If the pads were contaminated, take a family member’s toothbrush (clean it thoroughly with hot water and then alcohol) and spray the pads and get them nice and soaked.  Brush them vigorously with the brush. Wipe with the towel.  Do this until the towel comes away clean.
  4. Place the new pads into the caliper in such a way as to match the geometry therein. The metal clip AND the two calipers should be securable with the cotter pin.  
  5. Have a friend hold the caliper together while you insert the pin. Once the pin is in, and through all three parts (the two pads and the metal brace), screw them together.
  6. There is a flat, plastic, thin block. This is a spacer that is slightly thicker than the disk. Insert it between the pads.Use a rubber band to hold it in place if needed.
  7. Attach the reservoir to the hydraulic chamber on the top of the brake lever body. Thread it carefully, pinky tight. Ensure the stopper is inserted.
  8. Fill the reservoir as high as you can. 
  9. Insert the tip of the syringe into the reservoir and draw as much fluid into it as you can
  10. Connect the hose to the nipple on the outside caliper, ensuring a snug fit.
  11. Connect the other end to the syringe.
  12. Open the bleed valve a couple turns.
  13. Ask your friend to pour just a quarter inch or a centimeter or so of hydraulic fluid into the reservoir.  This will keep it from sputtering and spraying in his face when you press the syringe in the next steps. It will also allow him to redeem himself in the event he dropped it on you before.
  14. Have your friend remove the stopper and place it in the bowl.
  15. Depress the plunger, holding it higher than the caliper and pointing toward the ground
  16. Have your friend tell you when it stops bubbling. 
  17. Repeat the drawing and pushing of all of the fluid, without ever fully emptying the reservoir, two or three times or until all air is out of the tube between the syringe and the caliper, and there are no more bubbles. Go slowly! Wait a few moments between draws to give bubbles a chance to work their way out. The pulling and drawing of the plunger should work to purge the air completely.
  18. When completed, reinsert the stopper.
  19. Close the bleed valve tightly. 
  20. Remove the reservoir, dumping the excess into the recycling. It may have little bits in it from the system, so don’t reuse it. Place the reservoir into the shot or juice glass to hold it because you will need to use it again to do the rear brakes.
  21. Insert and tighten the brake lever housing hydraulic cap screw
  22. Remove the yellow spacer
  23. Repeat the entire procedure on the rear brakes. They will be very similar.
  24. Ensure the brake disks are clean – use the alcohol and towels to ensure their cleanliness.
  25. Reattach your wheels. Brake check by walking the bike and depressing the brake lever. Next, test by riding slowly.  If you hear a squawk, stop and immediately remove the wheel.
  26. Spray the pads with the alcohol. Using a folded paper towel, gently drag it through the opening until you are sure it is clean. 
  27. If you still hear squawking, repeat the entire process.  Practice makes perfect!

You are awesome! You have successfully replaced your brake pads and bled your brake lines! 

The New Bird Collective

This is the officially unofficial naming convention for bird collectives, hereby and forthwith known as “The New Bird Collective” and is wholly different and intended as a replacement for the old, archaic, “Old Bird Collective” which is as seeped in mystery as it is of shrouded (possibly questionable) origin. Some old bird collective nouns will occasionally appear here because, let’s face it, some of them aren’t so bad.

We (this is the royal “we,” as we are related to the Royal House of Orange and are therefor so entitled) do hereby declare that the unofficial designations of collective names be wholly owned by members of the Facebook Bird Misidentification Page 

The first term listed is the generic term that can be used for any collective in any state: perched, flying, floating, sinking, served as a dish, floating, diving, swimming, etc.  You can, however, truly show off your mastery of this list by knowing the list more thoroughly and knowing the most applicable term for any situation.

The New Bird Collective:

Boogey of birds

swarm, reaction of bee-eaters

taste of bitterns

  • truth of bitterns

bakery of blackbirds

  • pie of blackbirds (exactly four and twenty)
  • pies of blackbirds (some exact multiple of four and twenty blackbirds)
  • piefull of blackbirds (far too many blackbirds to count, like during full migration)
  • montrose attack of red-winged blackbirds
  • r2d2 of bobolinks

happiness, mountain of bluebirds

A golf course of bobolinks

bouquet of bulbuls

bazaar of buzzards

  • buffet of buzzards
  • waiting of buzzards (because wait! a buzzard is not really a species…)

barrel of bobolinks

A frederick’s of boobies

  • pageant of boobies
  • Cleavage of boobies (in flight)
  • bra, brassiere of boobies (nesting boobies)
  • nice rack of boobies (perched on mile marker buoy outside of The Dry Tortugas)
  • nice setof boobies (a nice set of boobies)

presentation of bowerbirds

renegade of rule breakers

  • page of birb misidentifiers

mound, infield, sacrifice of Buntings

  • Rib of buntings (perched on a branch)
  • flake of snow buntings (in flight)

Blizzard of buzzards

Deck, conclave, college of cardinals

  • pope of cardinals (a single cardinal, by itself, clearly pontificating to the other cardinals, clearly the leader of the conclave
  • church of cardinals (a group of cardinals, gathered around anther cardinal who is the pope
  • communion of cardinals (more than one cardinal, on a feeder
  • atheism ofcardinals (a group of cardinals at a feeder, with pyrrhuloxia mixed in)
  • pedal of cardinals

clouder, caboodle of catbirds

  • cacaphony of catbirds (perched)
  • catastrophe of catbirds (in flight)

Plateful, winner winner of chickens

  • KFC ofchickens
  • a bucket of chickens
  • throw of chickens (in flight)
  • barbeque of chickens (a cookout in your backyard, where chicken is served)

Syrup of choughs

  • drop of choughs

Bar full of chicks

island of conies

Nursing home of coots

  • convalescence of coots
  • Cuteness of coots ( swimming, diving, sharing a meal together)

glut of cormorants

  • thread of cormorants (in flight, all in a row)

corral, stampede,herd of cowbirds

Bogey, Kellog, truck, case of Crakes

of cranes

  • wrecking of cranes (in flight)
  • ball of cranes (nesting)
  • hoisting of cranes

Clever of crows

ratchet of cuckoos

  • apocalypse of [channel-billed] cuckoos (perched, and presumably keeping David Kirshner awake)
  • delirium of cuckoos (perched)
  • asylum of cuckoos (a wall of clocks)

Salon, iron, perm of curlews

dickhead of dickcissels

dollop, buffet of dove

  • Sound of doves ( when the doves fly )
  • dundering of doves
  • procession of mourning doves
  • funeralof mourning doves
  • dirge of mourning doves

coven of dowitchers

Dazzling, or Parade of ducks

Henley of eagles

Lifetime of egrets

  • egress of egrets (in flight)

emulsion of emus

  • embarrassment of emus

enigma of empids

sallyrand of fantails

Abercrombie of finches

  • frown of finches (hanging upside down
  • smile of finches (perched right side up)
  • pinch of finches (in flight)

flamboyance of flamingos

guillotine of flycatchers (AKA kingbirds)

  • infield of flycatchers (perched)
  • hawking of flycatchers ( in flight, catching insects )
  • fiskar of scissor-tailed flycatchers

wetting of gannets

gorge of geese

  • graffiti of geese (flying)
  • prosper of geese (flying in a ‘V’)
  • ryan of goslings
  • gluttony of greater white-fronted geese ( e.g. “after years of near-misses and as a nemesis bird, we had a gluttony of GWFs” )

comedy of godwits

glimmering of goldfinches

  • gossamer of goldfinches (in flight)
  • midas of goldfinches (perched)

of goslings

Annoyance, snap and pop of grackles

  • cackle of grackles (in flight)
  • armada of boat-tailed grackles

grumble of grouse

Amar Ayyash of gulls

  • frolic of gulls (more than 1000 gulls, in flight)
  • gallows of gulls (floating or sitting on ice)
  • flock of sea gulls

romance of harlequin ducks

Coming, watch, spuh of hawks

  • Smithy of coopers
  • Readiness of Red-tailed
  • Circus of harriers

house, bordello of hens

junky, hunk of herons

brothel of hoary redpolls

hula of hoopoes

Chorus of hummingbirds

  • hymnal of hummingbirds
  • forgot-the-danged-lyrics of hummingbirds (in flight)

Mob of jays

  • blunt of jays (heckling something, harassing another bird or animal or just saying rude things to you)
  • bunt of jays (in flight)
  • sky of blue jays
  • constellation of stellar jays

yard of Juncos

Crown, kingdom of kinglets

castle of kingbirds

Locker of killdeeers

lovefest, embrace of kiskadees

tangle of knots

cackle of kooka

waterbowl of lapwings

lick, lark of larks

  • riddle of larks (on the ground)
  • rodeo of horned larks

bin of loons

bakery of magpies

  • muffin ofmagpies (feasting on a carcass)

malarkey of mallards

submersion of mergansers

shaft of mynas

florence of nightingales

mighty, nutcase of nuthatches

  • crack of nuthatches (in flight)

lasting of orioles

  • nabisco of orioles

government, whom, holler of owls

  • Flurry of snowy owls (less than ten flying)
  • blizzard of snowy owls (more than ten flying
  • snowball of snowy owls (two or more, sleeping)
  • Hootenanny of owls (mixed species)
  • Flurry, blizzard of Snowy owls
  • Conspiracy of burrowing owls
  • keebler of elf owls

parrot of parrots

  • polygamy of parrots (hundreds, feeding in a tree)
  • scoundrel of parakeets

family of partridges

  • pear treeof partridges (perched)

appeasing of peacocks

  • argus of peacocks (waddling around)

platoon of pelicans

  • Formation of pelicans (flying a tight V)
  • squad, attack of pelicans ( large mass of 30 +, coming right at you )
  • mess of pelicans ( eating and dabbling )

tuxedo of penguins

  • slip of penguins (swimming and diving and being penguins)
  • tailor shop of penguins (in a zoo))
  • march of penguins (marching)
  • priesthood of penguins (a large huddle of males, sitting on eggs)
  • pod of penguins (a collection of penguins on an ice float.  AKA an Orca snack)

thundercloud of petrels

  • litre of petrels (swimming)

Fiefdom of pheasants

  • Nook ofpheasants (on the ground)
  • banquet ofpheasants (when flushed)
  • phantasm of pheasants (in flight)

poopage of pigeons

pleading of plovers

  • dojo of mountain plovers

ptooey of ptarmigans

  • silence of ptarmigens (because the p is silent)
  • correlation of ptarmigans (in flight)

cushion of puffins

Stairing, case, bogie, truck of rails

  • flight of rails (in flight)

Nevermore of ravens

  • quoth of ravens

Twist of Red Knots

  • in-flight a darning of Knots
  • on a mudflat: tangle of knots

dire of rheas

wiley of roadrunners

  • cartoon of roadrunners
  • marathon of roadrunners

bat cave of robins

  • nightwing of robins

rockslide of rockhoppers

king of rooks

  • checkmate of rooks

rabble of roosters

pool of secretary birbs

pitcher of shearwaters

snip of snipes

  • sniffle of snipes (in flight)

jack, spartan, chaos of sparrows

  • chaos of sparrows (in flight)
  • muddle of sparrows (muddling about on the ground)
  • plague of grasshopper sparrows

constellation, galaxy of starlings

  • clarice of starlings ( i admit, i don’t understand this one )
  • spittle starlings ( on the ground, puttering around )
  • standing of starlings ( when they are all just standing there, looking at you, terrifying you )

nursery of storks

swig, mouthful of swallows

  • throat-full of swallows

Swindling of swans

  • Fool of Trumpeter Swans
  • casino of Trumpeter swans (swimming)
  • swath of swans (flying)

of swans (flying in a ‘V’)

fleet of swifts

  • laden of swifts (in flight)
  • unladen of swifts (perched)
  • meeting of swifts
  • lost viginity of swifts
  • taylor of swifts

brace of tits

  • brook of wrentits
  • bra-full of titmice
  • handful of tits

squeal of teals

  • sprinkling of cinnamon teal

tuple of terns

  • nacht of black terns
  • tomtom of terns
  • intersection of terns

combine of thrashers

pardon of turkeys

  • Tug of turkeys (immature)
  • Tumbler of (wild) Turkeys
  • Tuttle of turkeys (crossing a road)
  • Cincinnati, splatter, falling, of turkeys (in flight)
  • feast of turkeys (thanksgiving day dinner)

tastiness of turtledoves

a tangle of turkey vultures

a virtue of vireos

  • carillion of Bell’s Vireoe

velocity of vultures

  • mortuary of vultures (on the ground, feeding
  • crematory of vultures (in flight)
  • kettle of vultures (mixed species, in flight, wheeling about)
  • whistling-teapot of vultures (projectile vomiting, in flight, directly overhead.

kennel of wagtails

whinney of Warblers

  • wobbling of warblers (in flight)
  • dècor of Kirtland’s warblers
  • apology of canada warblers
  • thicket of common yellowthroats
  • ikea, roasting of ovenbirds

shedding of waterfowl (on the water, mixed species)

  • pooping of waterfowl (on land)
  • wind of watererfowl (in air)

pigeon of wigeon

happenstance of wildfowl

Weinstein of woodcocks

  • hard-on of woodcocks
  • erection of woodcocks
  • condom  woodcocks

percussion, orgy, of woodpeckers

  • drumming of woodpeckers
  • awkward splinter ofwoodpeckers (nesting)
  • drawing of sapsuckers
  • booger of flickers

Dribble of wood peewees

houseful of wrens

  • papyrus of sedge wrens

Of cranks and origins and things

Questions to ask your kids:

1. What is a “dial tone”?
2. What is a “busy signal”?
3. In cars, why do we say “crank the car window down”? why do we use the word “crank”? maybe you use the word “roll?”
4. What does it mean to “tape” something, as in, a video?
5. When you “turn the heat up” it means to make it hotter, but when we say, “turn the AC down,” what does it mean? (hint: different things to different people)
7. What if we say “crank the AC up?” Does that mean, “make it colder?”
8. Why do we say “turn down” the TV? does anyone have a TV that has anything on it that turns?, it’s regional)
I wonder how many questions my dad could ask me like this, that I wouldn’t know the answer to…

I Ate my Pedometer

by scorellis

For telling bold lies
About late night rides
With savage, fast paces
Under blackened skies,

For midnight train chases,
And closing gate races
With swift tailed birds
And their feathery embraces:

For the sprayed up muck,
And a well pointed buck,
And for making me wear it,
even when I fuck

For racing trains,
Through wooded lanes,
Crosswalk diving
And making me take Main

And for all my mirth,
(for what it’s worth)
That extra mile to Kenilworth:

And for the perpetual ringing
And distant singing
of the crashing gate bell,
And its drifting dinging,

And for tricking me
Into accidentally killing
A 13 striped ground squirrel,
And a toad:

For making me dance,
For every missed chance,
And going knee to knee
In a standing stance,

For each walking meeting,
And cold trick-or-treating,
For each meter I cursed
And this poem, so over-versed:

For angry skunks,
a chattering chipmunk,
And that girl on the path
Lugging her bright red trunk

Through 40 miles of tight knit land;
For every blasting grain of sand
In November’s cutting gusts,
And wintery cold demand,

Strung with slow dismember,
so far I won’t remember
To watch for stray car doors,
Or the fallen, stray timber:

And lastly (finally)
For white retrievers off leashes,
And sand blasting beaches
And elevator races to
Manadnock’s stairway reaches,

For two twisting winds
Dressed like big leafy twins
Bullies, they knocked
Me down for my sins,

And finally (really this time)
For every kilometer
That I wore my bike seat
Like an angry thermometer.

The Explorers

The hazy morning sunlight filtered through the rip in the cheap hotel curtains. It stared at the vanity, reflecting from the mirror to the lamp across the room. The sun was always low in this winter sky and as the beam of light slowly traced a reflective path across the mirror, a misshapen mass of lumps and bumps under the covers rolled over and snored loudly.

Outside, hover-jet taxis whisked past, tearing up the virgin plains, whipping around new construction sites. Workers vibrated their many antennae at the taxis and continued to turn and shape the minerals of the ground in the way the Explorers had taught them. The beam of light gained intensity as the sun rose higher.

Living above ground was more comfortable, more cost efficient, more convenient, taught the Explorers. Better to cultivate, propagate, invigorate the land. “They break our way of life like they break fast: Without a thought,” leading Yibishar complained.

The beam of light reflected across the room to the television (an ancient device, but one which would whet the Yibisharistis appetites) before working its way across the plain white adobe wall, really a textured, virtually unbreakable ceramic derived from minerals present in the indigenous soils.

The phone began to ring and the sunbeam worked its way across the width of the bed. The lump in the bed groaned, rolled over and reached for the phone. He opened up his eyes and groaned as the light hit them. Momentarily blinded, he knocked the phone off its rest and yowled. He looked around. His vision was blurry, but he knew this hotel room. He didn’t quite recall how he’d arrived in it, but he knew it. He shook his head. He had a vague recollection of how he’d ended the previous evening: gambling, drinking, and spending most of his credits. And then the Explorers had come over to his table and started buying him drinks . . . Aury groaned and immediately threw the covers off the bed and checked himself to make sure none of his parts were missing: feet, hands, arms, legs, eyes, ears, teeth, noses, hair, . . .wait! he stopped and began to groan . . . there was something not quite right here . . .eyes?! He’d only had one eye when he’d gone to bed last night!

Quickly he jumped up and ran across the room to the vanity mirror. There it was. Set right there off to one side of his face. His other eye had shifted over too, and his vision—usually double in the morning anyway—blurred in and out of focus.

A knock sounded on the door.

“Room service!”

“Go away! I’m sleeping!” Aury grunted and looked over at the phone by the bed. He looked in the mirror again. I do hope I’m just imagining this. Maybe I’ll just wake up and this will not have happened. His antennae twitched at him. He turned and walked back over to the bed, sat down and picked up the phone off the floor.

He was beginning to get accustomed to the implanted eye but, nonetheless, it took him six tries to get the number right. He held the phone and as he waited for an answer he picked up a glass with one hand, a pitcher with another, turned on the water with a third and scratched his secondary thorax with a fourth.

“You’ve reached the Exploration Command Center phone menu! Please enter the extension number if you know it or hold for more options . . .Press One for Base Operations, press two for Base Operations Orderly room, press three for Base Operations Commander, press four for Base Operations Vice Commander, Press five for . . . . . press seven-hundred fifty seven for Aboriginal Assimilations Research and Alterations Developmental Division — Thank you, your call is very important to us and will be answered in the order received by the next available operator.”

“Dum dum de dum dee ddeee diddle dee dum . . . ” Aury hummed along with the music on the phone. He was familiar with it from his previous contacts with the base.

He leaned back on the bed, setting the phone down next to his ear. On the night stand was an interesting book called Gideon. He picked it up and began to look for good parts. Soon he was asleep, and dreaming.

A long hall stretched before him, and as he walked it turned and twisted this way and that. Each time a turn presented itself, another turn appeared in the other direction, beckoning him. He never took the other turns–he tried to stay to the right, less three hundred and sixty degrees. He knew he wasn’t going in circles. As he passed each turn, billions of tiny men would jump into him, hitting him and pulling at him and he watched how, as he progressed through the maze, parts of his body would be transformed.

“AARADD, can I help you?”

“Sxxxxgjkkkzzzzzzz” Aury snored into the receiver.



“Well, ok then. It’s been my pleasure. Click”

“Snxx–Huh? What? Oh crud. They hung up.” Aury looked at his watch and noticed how incredibly late for work he was. Then, as a piece of the previous evening clicked into his jigsaw memory. its puzzled edges clicking firmly into flashback status, he remembered the reason for the previous evening’s binge.


Migration season had passed, and the Zibishari prides had returned to their respective den-hives with much ceremony and celebration.

Aury requested through the retirement formality a leave of absence, was granted one, and settled into his den for deep chrysalis. He would emerge refreshed, having shed his exoskeloten. He emerged bearing an even deeper, more regal, shade of burgundy coloring than he had hoped for, and departed his den to present himself to the queen.

Approaching the hive from a distance, one could almost mistake the forested palisades for natural formations. Upon closer examination, one notices the uniformity of the cliff faces, the regularity of the tiered forestry, and then, as one nears even closer, the teeming activity at all levels at the many entrances to the hive. The first thing Aury noticed as he approached his base Hive was the absence of the usual activity. He checked the sky and noted by the relative position of the moons that he was not early—in fact, he was several days late.

The main entrance to the hive, usually rippling with activity, was nearly deserted. Aury paused at the collonaded entrance and approached a Zibishar who seemed to be standing around doing nothing. He presented himself in the traditional manner, a defensive posture followed by an untenable one. The other Yibishar ignored him and walked away. Aury’s antennae ruffled and twitched. He was amazed. The traditional greeting was never ignored. To do so was to bring tragedy to your entire family for seventy-seven generations. Aury continued on, passing only two other Yibishar as he progressed deeper into the hive. A frightening noise sounded from behind him and quickly he hid behind one of the many pillars lining the Great Hall. An object, whirring and screaming, broke the silence and whizzed past. A strange creature appeared to be trapped within it.

Aury continued on to Central Registration. The area was devoid of life. Aury signed his name in the book, and continued on to his office in the Queen’s Security Council Center only one level removed from the Queen’s chambers. Here, in the Center, he would spend the remainder of the year until the Great Migration would take them to the warmer climates which would induce Yibishar to breed. He was, officially, one of many official consorts to the Queen. In actuality, he was more of a security analyst and spent most of his time purveying security reports.

Footsteps echoed in the halls. Warily, Aury turned quickly; a hideous, pithy looking creature loomed over him. Aury began to ululate the Yibisharisti Fighting Chant and reared up into a defensive posture. His talons wrenched forth from their protected sheathings and lunged toward the foul beast. Aury fully intended to rend the intruder limbless and headless without even saying hello. It was quite frightening looking. Two eyes, two legs, two arms. The simple repetition of the number two so many times was reason enough for Aury to want to destroy it, but then their was that hollow, rancorous noise it was making at him. Like an incentive saying “go aheaad, tear me to pieces!” Aury lept at him. And bounced right off. One of the creatures appendages must have snaked out at him with lightening speed and countered his attack. Aury lept again and again he was repelled. The creature continued to make that grating noise.

“Ok,” the creature said after Aury had bounced off of it several times.

“You speak, beast.”

“Of course I do. I’m a highly civilized creature. May I help you up?” he asked as he extended a hand. Aury rolled up into a ball. When he unfurled an hour later, the creature still stood their. It looked to be on fire.

“You are burning.”

“Nono, I’m smoking a cigar,” it explained and then began making that insidious noise again.

“It smells foul. Why are you making that horrible noise at me?”

“There was nothing else to do while you went fetal on me,” he explained as he stubbed out the cigar underfoot. “That noise is called laughter. It has to do with an emotion called ‘happiness’. But listen, before I scare you again, I was sent down here to gather your security files.”

“Who are you?” asked Aury.

“You really don’t know? Geez. You must be the last person on the planet to be notified. Let me think . . . ” the Explorer tilted his silly looking head to one side and pondered carefully. “Here’s the schtick: I’m an Explorer. I come from a distant galaxy, far far away.” He lit another cigar and tilted part of his head to one side. “We come here in peace, to show the Yibishar a more convenient and self reliant lifestyle—we’re like, I dunno, like gods I guess. But we’re not. We just have a lot of scientific advances that may make us seem godlike. It’s tough, and the Yibishar don’t possess the technology, but I can be attacked and destroyed. Eventually the Yibishar will be technologically progressed and gathered into the Explorer Way, and will join us in searching the Galaxy for intelligent life,” he finished. He took off part of his head, much to Aury’s disconcertment, and waved it toward the ceiling. The Explorer noticed his trepidation and explained. “It’s a hat. A garment, something you wear. See?” He handed him the large brimmed object which Aury then turned over several times in his hands before giving it back.

“Where do I fit in?” asked Aury.

“Ummmm . . . I need those files?” Aury nodded his head succinctly, turned to his office door. and then slid back a series of levers that, when thrown in the proper sequence, unlatched the door.

“There they are.” He directed the Explorer to a row of file tablets against the wall. The Explorer then pointed an object at the files and Aury watched as they disintegrated.

“That was my life’s work! You destroyed it!”

“Nono, just gated it to Howard Space Port. We’ll probably be needing your help over the next few weeks to answer any questions we may have. Here’s my card. You can catch a cab to the Howard Shantytown and stay there until we call for you. If you have any questions, dial the number on the card and connect to Alien Security Control. It’s all on the card in Yibi and in Galactic. Have a nice day!” The creature turned and walked away. Aury stood their looking at the card. He hadn’t comprehended half of what the creature had said to him, but he was beginning to assume that much had happened in the time he had slept.



Getting dressed was a bit of a chore: his eye glass didn’t fit him anymore and everything looked fatter than it had before. He banged his head on a few things but after he managed to find his way around he began to suspect that the additional eye was indeed a blessing. His peripheral vision improved, depth perception heightened, and he imagined that he would actually be able to see further than before.

After checking out of the hotel, Aury paged a cab and waited patiently until one drifted down from the sky. The door wooshed open. As he reached for the door to pull it closed after him he entertained the sickening observation that as he reached for the door the arm he tried to use to reach for it simply wasn’t there.

“Yiyiyiyiyiyiyiiyiy—” he started to chatter in his native tongue the death chatter he had been taught as a child in hatchling school. His whole body felt like it crawled with insects one instant and numb the next. Other Yibis waiting at the platform looked at him as if he had lost his mind so he stopped, regained some composure and used one of his remaining four arms to pull down the door.

“Problem, buddy?” asked the Yibishar pilot.

“Nono. Just a small matter of growing and losing body parts.”

“Well, as long as it ain’t nothing serious. I knew a guy once who got pinched like a pimple by some heavy machinery. The sad thing was that he was alive, and they knew he would stay alive until they separated the machinery that had him all caught up, ya see? So they done brought his woman by to say goodbye, and his kids and his mawmaw and all. Damn near had a family reunion—”

“Thank-you for sharing, a lovely story, really, but I don’t think I need to hear anymore. Just take me to Howard Space Port please.”

“Ah, you’re a zonie, are ya? Should have known by them two eyes you got. You almost pass for a Zibi, you know. Why, if your shell was just a shade darker…And I can tell them antennae ain’t real . . .if you ask me they ought hire a guy like me to check over what they do over there in alien research and development—You know what them crazy space aliens are doing over there now, don’t you?”

“Please, tell me,” inquired a skeptical Aury.

“Well, I ain’t suppose to tell no one, but seeing as how we’ll all know sooner than later, I guess there be no harm in tellin you,” he confided in a near whisper. “I heard from a couple of explorers that the latest invention the Explorers are going to let us have are robots.

“Robots? What are those?”

“They’re like little, mechanical Yibishar who will do all our work for us. I heard they can even perform surgery, cutting us open and the like to fix what’s gone wrong. I bet they could have saved that pinched guy.”

“Yes. I’m sure they could have.” Little Yibishar . . .little men? Aury felt like chattering again. He began to scratch at his skin. Skin?

“Well, here we are. That’ll be twenty, Galactic.”

“Twenty, Galactic!!!!!?” What do you take me for, a damn zonie? Do I look like some kinda Space Bopper to you?!” he demanded. The Yibishari in the front seat turned around and looked him up and down.

“Well, you sure look like an Explorer, but I don’t know, you speak Yibi better than any Explorer I done heard. A bit stuck up, like you might be one of them Nouveau rich politicians I read about, maybe you been getting some of that surgery or something. That’ll be twenty, Galactic.”

“—oh, nevermind,” Aury handed him the twenty and got out of the cab. He paused as he exited the cab and viewed the Space port sprawled before him. A series of well planned out architectural buildings lined both sides of the street. A gatehouse stood to one side of the avenue and an arch spanned the road bearing the name “Howard SPB” in large, metallic letters. Aury took a step towards the gate and as he fell forward and his face rapidly approached the pavement, he noticed that he was missing a pair of legs and that his second thorax had completely disappeared. In fact, he surmised as he lay there, his exoskeleton was feeling rather mushy and soft as well. Aury looked to the gate and remembered the trees and rolling hills which had once been here. Now they had been hacked back to a safe distance, the jungle kept at bay by stasis field pods set all along the perimeter. In the distance a space shuttle launched vertically into the sky. A twinkle and it was gone. Overhead a flight of hover-craft thundered past.

Aury stood up, brushed himself off, adjusted his now loosely fitting clothing and suddenly wondered at another appendage he seemed to have sprouted in the area where his two walking appendages met his…waist. Oh no, not one of those, too, my oh my. What is happening to me? What have they done?

He took a few hesitant steps and realized that walking wasn’t really so tough. He could even manage a little sway of his arms—he only had two left now—just like the Explorers did. Why am I coming here? he wondered to himself. It’s not like they’ll help me . . . I’m sure this is part of some plan they have to destroy our culture and takeover. They’ll just somehow transform all Zibis into bipods.

He neared the gate. As he approached, a uniformed officer stepped out of the booth. Smiling, the man stepped up to him and extended a hand. “Well, Major O’Donnel,” said the uniform. “I’m glad to see you made it back. We certainly didn’t expect you so soon. Your implants notified us of your approach. I have a car waiting.” He held out an open palm to one side and indicated a waiting car.

“Thank-you,” replied Aury. “It’s been a rough mission. I’ve obtained the information . . . Is this car secure?”

“Of course,” replied the officer. “Central Alien Investigations Office, please. And be snappy,” he directed to the driver. “This man has just come back from intensive transmogrification.” He turned to Aury. “I imagine you are tired, and a little disoriented, and would like to unload the pico-lattices as soon as possible.”

“You bet. Up until I saw you at the gatehouse I had no idea I was really a human, transmogrified into an alien transmogrifying back into a human. I really believed I was a Zippy.”

“Hehehe. How quaint,” remarked the officer politely.

“You know, they actually are amazed by miniature robots? Imagine what they would think of pico-lattice technology. Billions of subatomic energy lattices linked, working together to alter the very pattern that binds us to what we perceive as reality, changing Plankett structure of any object. What next, hehe. Right?”

“Right. What next?” the officer laughed quietly under his gloved hand.

Aury leaned back in the seat, ran his fingers through his hair, and let out a sigh. Wait a minute . . .he ran his fingers through hair again and felt the small, nubby stumps where the antennae had once sprouted. Quaint?


Looe Key Reef Resort – Florida Keys on Ramrod Key, Florida – Review

Last year, in early June of 2014, my son (12 at the time) and I took a birding expedition to Florida.  We started in Jacksonville, and worked our way all the way down to the Dry Tortugas over a period of 13 days.  One lodging location stood out, beneath all the rest.

After over a year of submitting my initial review to Expedia, I received the notification from them that it was finally published.  I went to the site to see it, but it wasn’t there.  Here is my unabashed, honest review of possibly the shittiest roadside roadhouse roach motel at which I’ve ever been misfortunate enough to be tricked into staying.

In short: Filter flies, ants, a frog and a loud tiki bar outside my door, people screaming obscenities until well after midnight

I will spare you the narrative and just make a list of all the problems of this “resort.” Make no mistake – this is a motel. It is not a resort by any stretch of the imagination. It is not “modest” – it is a hole in the ground. These items are listed in no particular order:

1. Filter flies in the bathroom
2. We actually woke up one morning to a giant tree frog in the toilet
3. No 24 hr reception
4. ants in the room (the real little ones)
5. bare bulb fixtures
6. Weak security (mechanical key, doorknob based with door swinging outward (hinges on the outside and an easy-pry latch)
7. The “tikki” bar is less than 100 feet from the rooms at the one end of the motel, and it is LOUD.
8. 80 – 99 Db noise from bar until 11:15 PM on the weekends, 10 pM weeknights.
9. If you come in at the wrong time, parking is non-existent because this is a local bar hangout. So you have sit and wait for someone to leave. The only other option is to park illegally on the highway.
10. The bathroom sink had a very, very slow drain,
11. The shower floor had not been cleaned prior to our use of the room. It was slippery, and had a nice big wad of hair in the drain.

The Food:

We didn’t try the food. That seemed like a bad idea.

The overall hotel ambiance:

This hotel is disgusting. It is a pit, and it is NOT a place for children. The band plays music with “F* you” in the lyrics and they play it loud, and repeatedly, and long, and the bar-goers scream it at the top of their lungs, right along with the band. Here is the really frightening part: These guys have a SCUBA shop attached to their motel, and offer “resort” dives. If this is how they take care of their rooms, how well do you think they are taking care of their dive equipment?

The room looked nice on the Internet. The Internet is a liar.

The Solution:

The problems I found here could easily be repaired by a few big yellow bulldozers, new ownership and management, and a new building.

Key West is not too far away. The Yankee ferry ride out to the Dry Tortugas was great, and yielded the most awesome snorkeling you could want.

Shit Doctors say when giving a prostate exam

Here are the top ten worst things men hear when they get a prostrate exam:

  1. Drop ’em and bend over the table; we’re gonna do this frat boy style.
  2. We’re just gonna poke the crinkly brown monster right in the eye…
  3. Take off your pants and underwear, lie on your side, lift one leg…no, the other leg…no, your third leg…
  4. This will take just a second, you won’t feel a thing.
  5. I’ll be finished when I’m finished! (annoyed)
  6. Not on the first date…haha..(First time at a new Dr, patient asks if he needs an exam):
  7. Two is a party, three’s a crowd
  8. Open up! Here comes the choo-choo!!
  9. If it hurts, it’s either because you’ve had diarrhea, or because I’m doing it right…
  10. Oh, God, I’m coming! Jk!

How to fix a noisy, rattling, laptop fan

If you have a laptop, and it begins to make a horrible, rattling, clacking sound, and if you are certain it is the fan, forget canned air. Your laptop has an intake and an exhaust port for air. Today I learned that blowing air into them is nearly useless. All it does is make the sound change. Here’s how I ended up fixing it:

1: Disconnect your laptop from everything, including the battery, and pick it up in your hands.
2: With laptop powered down COMPLETELY, press and hold the power button for a complete minute.
3: Proceed at YOUR OWN RISK.
4: Setup a light so that it shines across the openings
5: Swallow and get your mouth as dry as possible. Take a deep breath, place mouth on exhaust, and BLOW.
6: repeat process, alternating between intake and exhaust vents, until such time as you or your cohorts see no dust appearing in a fantastical plume whenever you blow.

That’s it. It should fix the sound (it did on mine). If you think your laptop runs too hot all the time, you should just do this anyway. Do not overuse this procedure – you could probably also make a seal around each vent, with your hand and a small shop vaccuum set on exhaust, and get the same (probably better) result.

Again, if you electrocute yourself doing this, don’t blame me. If you use a shop vac, you want to use the exhaust so that you can see when the air blows clean as you alternate between vents. Short bursts are best – a long burst may just wedge dust deeper into the laptop fan parts and stall the fan completely. My preference is to do this with the fan running, so that you can hear and so that the rotation assists with the cleaning. Again, at your OWN risk.

How to transmit passwords, securely

Put it in a text document, zip it with encryption, print out the binary data, send it via morse code, type it into a raw file and saved as a zip, then repeat the same procedure (with a new password) to get the password to the zip file.  now you have two zip files, and the second zip file has, in it, the password to the first zip file.  Keep doing this for all eternity, until the universe contracts to a single point.  Continue until arriving at the first password you entered.  Now, reverse time and, with the password in possession, travel backward through the beginning of time, through to the end of the previous universe, all the way back to when the first password was sent to you.  The password you have in hand should open the file.

I have commenced construction of a box that will do this, but it might take me five or six universal cycles to completely debug.

Now, the complexities of time travel aside, why wouldn’t this procedure work?

How to be [mostly] Secure

I often wonder about security. Recent news, where people are saying things about breaches like “it can’t be prevented”, “you will be hacked” and “If you want to be connected, you need to be protected” makes me really ponder whether or not certain devaluation tactics might not be the best thing to do.  After all, if having knowledge of what you are about to do is enough to destroy you, then you might be in the wrong line of work.  Clearly, then, these tactics won’t work for those whose lives are founded upon cowardice and sneakiness.

  1. Dismantle your email systems.  Use Jabber or some other point-to-point secure chat for all communications. Smash your phone.
  2. Use a secure file drop to securely draft and share documents.  Let security be their problem.
  3. Publish all previous emails from everyone in your company.
  4. Publish all salaries.  Be truthful.  If you lie, eventually someone will talk.
  5. Refresh your computer every hour.  Do not store ANY data locally.
  6. reset your password at the beginning of every hour. Heck, write a code that will refresh it every 10 minutes.  You don’t need to know it, you are resetting everything in an hour.
  7. Change operating systems every day.
  8. Perform any sensitive work at the beginning of the hour, right after a refresh and password reset.
  9. Publish all of your financial information.
  10. Post your credit report online.
  11. Any computer that is not in use for more than 15 minutes should power down and auto-air gap (lest the hackers hack WOLAN).
  12. Make multiple videos of yourself in compromising situations and post them online.  Better yet, get a distant friend to do it for you – someone who nobody can connect to you (I happily volunteer myself for this).
  13. Expose your desktop.  Broadcast a live feed of your desktop.  Let everyone see what you are doing.
  14. Expose your self and publish on the internet.  This will of course only work if EVERYONE does it.  Let’s face it, if every hollywood actress posted nudes on the internet, nobody would care anymore.

Does all of this seem ridiculous?  What if everyone did this?  What would there be left to litigate, I wonder…it should be obvious I am being somewhat tongue in cheek.  There are of course things I do online that I don’t want anyone to know.  But if the world did find out, frankly I doubt they would mind.

If I ever start my own company, I may try this out.  I may keep all systems completely public and all conversations would be mandatory public, even salary negotiations.


Bonus materials

When I wrote the line about smashing your phone, it reminded me of this.  Here is a fun little email exchange I had once with someone about phones:

To: several coworkers:

Subject: I understand that you all look to me for leisurership in these technical matters, so here it goes…


I apologize for the confubulation earlier when we were chattering  by the waker upperer maker.  Allow me to clarsify. The thinga majobber doodad on the squawk box is connected to the whirly curly doodad, which attaches to the bobble doohicky, on which there is a dipswitch thingamajigger.  This attaches to the ringer thinger dinger.  You push the little numerified bicker tickers on the thinga majobber doodad to yackify a whatsit to some whosit on their blinking squawk box. Once you are yackified to the whosit, you yack into the ringer thinger dinger or get yacked at, depending on whether you are a dooz-its or a says-its.


Thanks you,


Whatsit Architect