Sunday, February 26, 2012

Electronic Warfare

Been an interesting month for the occupants of Festung Ebar, our fortress of solitude in Little Italy.  Beautiful weather followed by shitty weather followed by beautiful weather and more shit. Yes, change of font.  I like this one better.  People would think that I would be taking advantage of the good weather.  And I have somewhat.  The winter that never happened yet never went away.

The weekends are a different story.  I tend to get my 100 miles between Monday and Friday and then slack on the next two days.  Such is life.  No love at all on the trail of dolls, no love lost.  February has been marred by shit weather on Saturdays.  The first weekend was BRR and it was started with some of the heaviest snow we experienced all winter.  But as quickly as it came it went away.  Yep, I stayed inside and only rode when I had to.  I made sure that I got my 100 miles in BEFORE the weekend.  I dropped out of BRR fearing that I would be stranded or have to ride 8 hours straight in wet cold conditions. 

The next couple of week ends have been much cooler or colder than their Monday through Friday counterparts.  If I don't need to ride then I don't.  But the week days have been great, mostly, a few hiccups now and then but some great temps and sunshine.  For this I am grateful.  These are the days that i get my miles.

Call it the blues.  But my life became even bluer last week.  Within 5 minutes of safely getting home Friday, my 'smart phone' went for a swim in my Diet Dew.  Cat like reflexes pulled the bastard out and removed the battery within nanoseconds but the damage was done.  I grabbed a bag of rice and let the phone dry out in there.  No joy.

Returning from the kitchen to my computer room I noticed that The Beast was on but the screen was blank except for a blinking cursor.  Hit reset.  Get the Pentium 4 screen, hear the fans turn and witness the blinking cursor again.  Unplug and reboot.  No joy.  Try to start in safe mode.  I forgot how to do that but brought up two different bios modes.  Still SOL.

Oh well, I still have the other pc.  Rebuilt and given to me by my buddy Sam.  Clean and empty on the HD I just use it for Panzer General and downloading music.  The Beast is almost completely full.  Time to call Sam Hildreth.  FUCK, dead phone.  Email.  Unfortunately, the remaining pc lacks anti viral software.  Do not let the children use it.  I am impressed that Dora listened to me and uses her siblings laptops.

Back to The Beast.  I think Sam built it for me 7 or 8 years ago.  A fast machine built for gaming.  Back then I flew virtual Focke Wulfs more than ride real bikes.  The Beast is a fast and hot computer that is past its prime.  Back in the day I flew in Fighter Ace I'd have to open the box to let it cool down.  Grab extra fans.  Give that bitch a blow job often to remove dust.  All fan cooled pcs are air cleaners and dust magnets.  But It is still a wonderful pc for music and videos and bike logs and photos.  All of lost, maybe.

So I have been scribbling down my mileage on a Christmas card until a day or two ago when I started a log on this puter.  This slow ass bitch but a stable and quiet machine.  I vaguely have a clue where I am for the year because I have been sharing the same bicycle computer between my 2 main winter bikes.  The other two bikes I have ridden lack computers but I have only a handful of miles on for them.

But what really makes me depressed is that my log from 1994 to present is on The Beast.  Sure, I can dig up the old paper logs that I stopped doing prior to 2007.  But that leaves a 5 year gap.  Should have sent the shit to the cloud.  If only I had emailed it to myself.  Oh well.  the HD can be saved or the files can be extracted.

The phone is another story.  It turns on.  It has a pull out keypad for those who have fat fingers and/or the fear of using the touch screen keys.  I always thought this was dead useless weight.  But now I learned how to text with it.  Just as long as it is in text mode it is a useful communication device.  If I get out of text mode i have to reboot the phone to text again.

One night this week it acted like a strobe light on my dresser.  I let it flash way until the battery died.  F it.  Thursday I charged it and discovered that it still works for texting despite having a dead touch screen  Took it to work Friday and AMEN the bastard works!!!

Still a bit buggy but fully functional until, Friday night, I plugged it in.  Touch screen FAIL.  Back to text only.

Friday was a fun ride to work.  Thursday it rained and later snowed.  I wore sandals on Thursday and got to work dry.  The commute home was wet but a light wet as the rain was soft.  Friday was a dry ride until I hit Park Ave.

As I have done all winter long, I looked at the falling snow and debated about putting the studded tires on.  I did not.  Jeri Ann Ritter said that the temps would not drop too much.  I gambled on that the snow would be rideable and with 50s for Sunday everything would clear up.  Once again it was true.

The layer of snow on the trail was crunchy and slowed the bike down somewhat.  It took an extra 10 minutes to get to work.  Absolutely zero slips or slides on the trail.  Park Ave was clear but wet.  Having taken the red bike I lacked the 520's mirror so I had to constantly look over my shoulder for cars before switching to the turn lane.

And then the one and only slip.  One last peak over my left shoulder.  And I am glad that I do this over my left because since busting my clavicle my head does not turn as far to the right as it does to the left.  The car is far enough behind where I can safely leave my lane and cross another to get to the safety of the turning lane.  Slight yank on the bars and OOPPSSS  ice or slick spot.  Just a small wobble but one probably visible to the car whose lane I am now occupying.  He or she is probably thinking, "WHAT STUPID FUCKTARD IS RIDING A BICYCLE ON THIS ROAD AFTER THE SNOWFALL??!!??"  But I recover instantaneously and reach the turn lane with plenty of time to spare.  That was it, no more slips.  No falls.  Nada.  No studded tires, just a worn set of Kenda Pro Cross tires, $19 at your friendly neighborhood bike shop.

56Th and Thornton offered a different terrain.  Frozen slush.  These roads are never plowed in the morning.  Sometimes they never plow them at all.  All the night's snow was still there but now rutted by vehicle traffic and refroze into an icy mess.  One climbs up a hill from Park Ave when turning onto SW 56th.   I pick a line of a smooth tire track.  Remian steady and true because if the bike wanders off that track the ice becomes bumpy and crusty and the chance of kissing the ice covered pavement becomes a reality.  The space between the track and the curb is virgin but a crusty surface like the bike trail.  Since the bald tire on the Red Phoenix is not losing traction I hold the line until my turn. 

Thornton is exactly the same.  The incline is less pronounced.  Pedalling must be maintained.  Occasionally, I am passed by cars on this road.  Today is no exception.  I hear them first and then in a theatrical way I turn my head to inform them that I am aware of their presence.  This is only necessary to let them know that they are dealing with a professional and they may safely pass and get the fuck out of my way.

This car is lingering.  Come on, I hate vehicles in my 7 o'clock.  Pass and be done!  Apparently, this black Lexis RX400 SUV was having traction issues of its own.  I am on a bicycle with a balding rear tire and am not experiencing any problems.  Perhaps it was afraid I'd fall down and slide into its path.   BLOGGER'S NOTE:  NOTICE THAT I REFER TO ALL VEHICLE DRIVERS AS "IT" NOT "HE" OR "SHE"??  IF THE SEX OF THE DRIVER IS UNKNOWN I CALL THEM "IT".  TRYING TO AVOID SEXIST REMARKS It eventually passes and I am officially done with cars for the morning.

My head lamp died last month.  I miss it for two reasons.  It provided another source of light to become visible to others and to illuminate the eyes of deer.  Eyes always give away the presence of deer.  And it also allowed me to read my bicycle computer in the absence of sunlight.  Now that it is gone I can only read the computer when I am underneath a street light.  After the SUV was gone I had a chance to check the computer.  37 mph!  WRONG!  Said I had gone almost 10 miles since I started.  Wrong again.  Another piece of electronics screwing up.  Usually i get false readings when the computer is in the presence of my home pc, work pcs, cellphones, door scanners ect.  I look around.  Nothing here.  Must be moisture.  Not cold enough for a temperature related fubar.  No time to fret about this, I am behind and my time to relax, eat a bowl of Fiber One and change clothes is running out.  One inside I looked at it again..  Instead of the 6.3 miles it recorded me at 10.1.  My top speed was 55 mph instead of the 20 I would have had on a good day turning into the parking lot.  My top speed was more like 12 mph.  Let it sit for 9 hours and hope it works right later.  Subtract 4 miles form the distance and add .2 miles to that for the true total IF it functions properly on my return commute. 

The rest of the ride is unremarkable.  At 61st I coast downhill to my turn into the PFG call center.  I need to watch my speed since SW 61st is never plowed.  The parking lot of the business just south of the call center has its snow dumped into the street which makes things worse.  And my brakes...are now covered in icy slush and snow thrown up from the road that the rear is not functioning at all.  I had to brake amost of the way down the hill.

For the first time ever the call center's lot is icy.  A1 Lawn Service did not pretreat the lot with the brine solution because this snow began with rain.  Many people commented that the worst part of their commute (cars) was the last 100 yards and the parking lot.  I noted the ice right away and rode accordingly.  Followed the salty bike tracks in the warehouse to my parking spot.

Yes, salty tracks.  When I worked downtown and parked at the rack at PFG's auditorium there were big white blothes on the concrete underneath the bikes of the 4 or 5 brave souls that rode everyday in winter.  Now that I get to park inside a building all the road slop belongs to me.  The 520 left a nice mess once.  I do park the bike on top of old carpet samples.  As the bike warms up salt, grit, sand and muck fall down to the ground as the snow and ice melt off the bike.  Just marking our territory.

I was amazed how much of the snow melted away.  Once again the sun came out and cleared and dried the trails and streets.  Sure, there was some water in places.  But what a diffence 9 hours can make!  And my brakes and computer were working too!

That night I took The Beast to sam's house.  I would have put it in the Burley and rode over there butriding 6 miles south from here is dangerous.  No trails.  Roads and sidewalks and it was cold and windy.  I had my buddy Keith pick me up and drive me home.  The three of us have ridden together.  Sam has done Ragbrai.  So has Keith, I think he rode the second one.  We drank homebrew and Templeton until nearly 230 am.  He said me files could be saved.  A nice way to end the work week.  Saturday's ride to the store was painful..  Disconbobulated and over fed on tacos.  Such is life.

No comments:

Post a Comment