Motobecane Cyclotouriste from the fifties

07 Feb 2021 18:53 | Geplaatst door Marcel

Last January this Motobecane Cyclotouriste M.T.H.C was for sale on the Dutch website Marktplaats. I already have enough bicycles and don’t want to become a collector, a bicycle should be used. But I liked it that much that I could not resist picking it up.

It was told that the bicycle was bought about 8 years ago at the fair in Reims in France, there it was told that the bicycle was from 1960. That could be, but it could just as well be from the fifties. The Huret read derailer with 2-bolt-connection to the chainstay was used in the fifties. The guidonnet brake levers made from a piece of aluminium were also used in the fifties by Motobecane, in the sixties they switched to forged guidonnet brake levers like those from Mafac and CLB.
The small nameplate at the stem is supposed to be from the French defense, so each soldier could find his own bicycle again.

I assumed this was a cheap bike when it was new, looking at the chrome rims and cottered cranks, but reading up on the internet it turned out to be an expensive bicycle in the fifties. In those days cars were not affordable by Joe Sixpack and if you wanted to go on holiday, you bought a cyclotouriste like this to explore the French countryside.

The saddle is probably original, a Unic saddle with a big M stamped in for Motobecane. Dynamo and head light (yellow light) are still functional, but there is so little light, there is no use to it.
The handle bar tape is not original, as usual for French randonneur bars from that era. There should be a piece of plastic around the bottom and top part of the drop bar with plastic “tape”, where the middle part stays bare metal. When that is gone there is no other solution that to use regular taped bar tape.
The chain protector is gone and cannot be fitted again without welding at the frame parts. Visually slightly disappointing, but functionally no problem, since these French chain protectors do little, and your trousers still get dirty from the chain.
Brake pads for the French cantilevers are still available through Ebay for not too much money. After the first wear (with lots of noise) they now work okayish, for what it’s worth with chrome rims.

It was nice to put a new chain on the bicycle, wonderfully enough it ran smooth on the old chain ring and sprockets. Chain ring might even be original with the panto from days gone by. Rear sprockets are aging as well, with a 4-speed freewheel with a bit of play on the bearings. Made to last :)

That Saturday it was lovely weather and after the sale in Leiden I biked to Rotterdam through the green heart of Zuid-Holland.

Last January this Motobecane Cyclotouriste M.T.H.C was for sale on the Dutch website Marktplaats. I already have enough bicycles and don’t want to become a collector, a bicycle should be used. But I liked it that much that I could…
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Review of Panasonic RP-HTX90 headphone

15 Dec 2020 13:35 | Geplaatst door Marcel

Judgement: Good set of headphones for not too much money.

Panasonic-RP-HTX90N

My use of headphones is mostly while traveling and I am not too happy to spend too much money on a set of headphones. I prefer to spare the better models of Sony a rough life. The price of this Panasonic HTX90 is still doable, and when sitting on top of them and they break down, the loss is manageable.
That is why the last decennium I lived with the cheaper Panasonic headsets of around 25 Euro with on-ear drivers. They offer a lively sound and the instruments get separated quite well, which I can enjoy a lot and also experience in my Denon amplifier with nice Elac speakers.
This time I wanted to start using active noise-cancelling.

What struck me the most is with drivers that are over-ear the passive noise-cancelling is already remarkably well. When I am sitting in the train and people next to me are talking loud, I don’t really need active NC.
I also notice that with the tightness of over-ear drivers, the audio quality is so much better than with on-ear drivers. In that context I experience the quality of Bluetooth already good enough for my use.
With both of these points I could have gone for the older model, the HTX80. The HTX90 has as extra features the active NC and the possibility to use a cable instead of only bluetooth.

The device has a nice way of using it. The Bluetooth button is on the front. Pairing my phone was easy, a Sony Xperia XA2 with Sailfish OS. An Apple iPhone SE (original SE) was easy to pair as well.
When connecting the cable it switches over to cable immediately and Bluetooth gets turned off.
The active NC can be enabled with a hardware switch at the back. It can be used when using a cable and when using Bluetooth, and also when no music is playing. That last point turned out to be pleasant, I don’t always have a need for music, but cancelling noise will still be a good usecase.

Biggest drawback of the headphones is that when active NC is enabled, the sound quality gets so much worse. In case Panasonic will release an update for the HTX90, this drawback is where the biggest improvement would be.
Personally I notice that passive NC is often good enough already.

There is also the option to turn up the bass. Panasonic doesn’t call this bass-boost nor loudness, but the effect is similar.
One thing that is slightly disappointing is that the bass doesn’t reach very low. With this price I would not want to complain about that any further.
In a review of the HTX80 I read that the mid-tones can sometimes be a bit sharp and irritating. With this HTX90 I don’t notice anything like that.
For the rest there are some buttons for higher/lower volume and next/previous song. I find this kind of small buttons an excercise in searching for the fingers and it’s not for me. I can imagine other people might appreciate these buttons.

I don’t often see headphones by Panasonic being reviewed and I think they are being under-valued, not just in this price-range, but also in the cheaper price-range around 25 Euro.

Plus:

  • Cable and bluetooth are both possible
  • Lively sound and good separation of instruments
  • Price/quality is fine
  • Nice retro design

Min:

  • Active NC decreases sound quality too much

Update april 2021:
I am still quite happy with this set of headphones. From the earlier text you can easily digest that I am already quite happy with the passive noise-cancelling that the big drivers give.
About the deep bass that I miss, I don’t experience that much now, especially when using a good quality DAC. With Bluetooth the internal DAC will be used and the bass does get distorted somewhat. At home I prefer using a cable, on the road the ease of use of Bluetooth is quite nice.

Judgement: Good set of headphones for not too much money. My use of headphones is mostly while traveling and I am not too happy to spend too much money on a set of headphones. I prefer to spare the better…
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WordPress theme Silverbird and updates (fork)

10 Dec 2020 20:38 | Geplaatst door Marcel

The WordPress theme Silverbird from WP3Layouts is in my opinion a nice, simple and rather clean theme. It was first released in 2018 and saw a few updates in the next few months. After that it dried up.
There is also a Pro version for sale, but I don’t really need features in a theme, that is what plugins are for.

I do use the theme myself, but saw that it didn’t work in WordPress 5.6 anymore, due to jQuery updates. It does work with PHP 8, which is quite nice.
I don’t expect any updates coming from the original author.
I forked the theme as Silverbird Lite, which is now available on GitLab. I don’t intend to do much with it, just keep it in working state. I did remove a few things, like Google Fonts, since I don’t like my visitors being tracked by Google.

The first changelog looks like this:

  • = 1.1.0 =
  • 2020-12-10
  • Rename to Silverbird Lite.
  • Tested on WP 5.6 and PHP 8.
  • Fix preloader and disable it by default.
  • Update Bootstrap.js from 3.3.6 to 3.4.1.
  • Remove old modernizr 2.6.2.
  • Remove Support tab in Customizer.
  • Remove Google Fonts, there are plugins for that.
  • Remove Google Plus from social media links.
  • Remove Swipebox, you might prefer your own image modal.
The WordPress theme Silverbird from WP3Layouts is in my opinion a nice, simple and rather clean theme. It was first released in 2018 and saw a few updates in the next few months. After that it dried up. There is…
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Playing with WordPress Core major updates in WP 5.6

10 Dec 2020 13:44 | Geplaatst door Marcel

This week WordPress 5.6 was released and contains automatic updates for major versions. For new installs this is enabled by default, for existing installs this can be manually enabled.

One thing that I would want is to not have these automatic updates on the first major release, like 5.7, but have it update a few weeks later, on the first minor release, like 5.7.1.

Luckily this is possible, and this plugin came out of it:
https://gitlab.com/toomanybicycles/auto-update-on-point-release

/Edit 21:00 o’clock
And ofcourse I just received the tip that there is already a plugin that does this and much more :) The plugin WP Auto Updater has different modes for Core updates. My plugin does the same as the ‘minor_only’ mode.

This week WordPress 5.6 was released and contains automatic updates for major versions. For new installs this is enabled by default, for existing installs this can be manually enabled. One thing that I would want is to not have these…
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Peugeot demi-course from the sixties (PL50 or PX50)

07 Oct 2020 12:32 | Geplaatst door Marcel

Again a Peugeot with guidonnet brake levers, this time with French cantilevers.

This Peugeot demi-course is probably from the early sixties. The rounded logo was used untill the mid sixties, after that the letters became more square. The fenders with extra details are from the fifties and sixties. In the fifties the luggage racks were higher and with a different shape.

Compared to my transparant-green demi-course from the late seventies the top-tube is 1cm shorter and the stem is 1cm shorter as well.

Almost everything about this bike is original, except the handlebar tape and the saddle. It probably had white handlebar tape in plastic. The current tires are Kenda with brown walls. When they are worn out, it will be time for Michelins with white walls.
And yes, the bike has lots of patina :) It will never ever become a collectors item.

Again a Peugeot with guidonnet brake levers, this time with French cantilevers. This Peugeot demi-course is probably from the early sixties. The rounded logo was used untill the mid sixties, after that the letters became more square. The fenders with…
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Biological levers

06 Jul 2020 13:33 | Geplaatst door Marcel

We all know the function of anti-psychotics, they are used to decrease psychotic symptoms. They can be very effective against these symptoms, even though the experiences and opinions vary. The cause of these psychotic symptoms is often not clear and they are not targeted directly by these medications.

From more recent research it seems that people who are suspectible to psychosis consist of genetically different groups. Personally I have heard so many stories that I am convinced there exists a whole complex of causes and that every person who is suspectible to psychosis has a personal story.

My acute psychosis has been over for years. Since 2013 I only need to take a low level of medication for maintenance (around 1 mg Orap). I have always had the wish to be able to stop taking medication completely, but never managed that. More recently I got interested in a more biological approach; there might just be a chemical inbalance or hormonal inbalance that is causing problems.

Omega fatty acids

In my network of people with the same background there is someone who has been happy for years now with Omega fatty acids. They are available in fatty fish and in some other food sources, while also being available as supplement over the counter. They have a strong effect on proper functioning of the brain.
She tells that mostly because of Omega fatty acids she could stop taking anti-psychotic medication. She does have to put more focus on avoiding stress and also accept the fact that she is more vulnerable without medication, but for years now she has been stable without medication.

Anti-inflammatories

In 2014 (if I have the year correct) Iris Sommer gave a presentation about anti-inflammatories at the yearly day of Anoiksis. People who recently had a psychosis seemed to be responding well to simvastatins, which besides decreasing cholesterol also have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Me myself ended up with glycine. This amino acid is a natural part of the protein collagen, which is part of skin and connective tissue. In our modern diet this has mostly disappeared (who still eats chicken skin and chicken bone?). A shortage of glycine can result in inflammation, also in the brain, which can lead to psychotic symptoms.
My experience with glycine is very positive. When I let a teaspoon of it dissolve in a glass of water and I drink that, the next part of the day I feel my head clear up a lot. For some years now I take this twice a week.

Antihistamines

Histamine is an organic compound that has several functions in our body. With people who are suspectible to psychosis, histamine is more often inbalanced than in the general population.
Me myself had some physical problems and my search on the labyrinth that is called the internet seemed to point towards allergic rhinitis. I had an allergy for citrus fruit, a light form of post-coïtal asthma, together with itching and bad sleep. These problems can happen when the level of histamine is too high. I started with antihistamines, which are sold as hay fever medication or anti-allergy, in my case Cetirizine. It made me very drowsy, and the evening was the right time to take them. My psychotic and allergic symptoms decreased a lot, more than I had dared to expect. I have been using this now for a month and my dosage of anti-psychotics is lowered to an amount that was never feasible before, and the last month symptoms have only further decreased.
There are some anti-psychotics that have an antihistamine effect, like Zyprexa (Olanzapine) and Seroquel (Quetiapine). The drowsiness that I experience from Cetirizine is very similar to the drowsiness of these medications.

Taurine

Just likes histamine it is possible that Taurine is inbalanced, especially with people who are suspectible to psychosis. I have no experience with it myself and I don’t know anybody who has. I do think it can be a good supplement to try out.

Selfinvestigation

I think that for people who are suspectible to psychosis, it can be good to investigate if there is something here that might be good for you. I can imagine that besides these approaches, there might be more possibilities. The body is a complex machine where things can get inbalanced easily. If you can find such an inbalance and know how to improve that, you might improve your health.

Update October 2020

It is now a few months later. The antihistamine pills have done their work well. Problem with them is that they block the receptors, but they do not decrease the release of histamine. In the last two months, and with that aim in mind, I started taking supplements that might have that effect. Currently I don’t use antihistamine pills anymore. Supplements that I am using:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, including olive oil
  • Calcium + Magnesium
  • Vitamin K
  • Zinc + Copper, in 8:1 combination
  • Manganese
  • Chromium
  • Melatonin (good for sleeping as well)

The melatonin I use daily, the other supplements only once or twice a week. When you have a reasonably varied diet you should only use supplements in a limited amount, I would think overdosing is unwanted.

I started taking Taurine, but I am not sure what the effects are :) It is somewhat similar as GABA, but I have the impression that I can tolerate it better.

I also started taking Tryptophan, which is a precursor to Serotonin. I was a bit worried about psychotic symptoms, but it turns out it is not causing them.

All together I am not in need of anti-psychotic medication anymore while also experiencing less psychotic symptoms. Profit :)

Update December 2020

Some things came together in an unfortunate way. With the supplements that should decrease histamine I moved to once a week instead of twice to lower the risk of overdosing it. In the course of a few weeks I did build up some psychotic symptoms. I think it was also caused by tryptophan/serotonin and melatonin, which can cause hallucinations. Back to twice a week and without tryptophan and melatonin things went back to normal again. In hindsight I did not notice and added value with tryptophan and melatonin, not in increasing them or after stopping them.

We all know the function of anti-psychotics, they are used to decrease psychotic symptoms. They can be very effective against these symptoms, even though the experiences and opinions vary. The cause of these psychotic symptoms is often not clear and…
Read more...