Unintentional poetry

ted | chicago,food | Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Posted above a cantilevered glass shelf in a window overlooking the kitchen at one of the nearby Taquerias, El Gallo de Oro:

DON’T LEAN ON THE COUNTER

IT’LL BREAK!

DON’T TALK TO THE CHEF

WHILE MAKING YOUR ORDER

HE’LL MAKE A MISTAKE.

Ride report, mid-July 2008

ted | bike,chicago | Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

I’ve been riding my bicycle to work. It’s fun, good exercise, cheaper than driving, better for me & better for the environment. So far I’ve found a few things out that I wouldn’t have otherwise:

  1. Even the “big roads” can be a better ride than the small ones. I initially avoided going down Southwest Highway & Cicero Avenue because they were “big”. Turns out taking that route is not only shorter but allows me to ride faster. They both have lots of lanes, too, which makes the cars behind me happier and my ride easier. That route is also over a mile shorter than the other route I was taking.
  2. A water bottle is a necessity. I almost puked my guts out coming home on Monday, as it was easily the warmest & sunniest day yet. Today’s gonna be hotter and tomorrow even moreso. My 1976 Austrian-built Raleigh Grand Prix was not outfitted with water bottle braze-ons, so my secondary Local Bike Shop sold me a handlebar-mount water bottle cage. I will be following up with my primary LBS, the fine gents at Beverly Bike & Ski, to acquire one that will clamp to the frame as well.
  3. Having access to a shower at work sure is nice. I should have a locker assigned to me today and tomorrow I will be able to reap the benefits of not being still glistening with sweat when I arrive at my desk.
  4. This is the first time I’ve ever bicycled all the way to work and home. Back when I lived in Atlanta, I would take my bicycle on MARTA to work with a bit of a ride to the station from home and from the station to work, but no more than 2 miles total. I would then ride all the way home, a distance of some 12 miles or so. Now I’m riding 9 miles to work and 9 miles home. 18 miles a day is pretty good.
  5. I really need a rear rack & panniers. As much as I love my bigass Timbuk2 bag, I need the bike to carry the weight, not my back. Also will assist in me being less sweaty upon my arrival. Unfortunately the rear eyelets on my Raleigh have wallowed-out threads. Right now I’ve got an M5 bolt with a nylock washer on the back holding the fender stays in place, but this prevents me from using my smallest cog. I really need to braze or weld up the eyelets, then drill & tap for a proper M5 thread. This will allow me to use the rack I already own and the fenders I already equipped the bike with, and later add panniers.
  6. Full-finger gloves are nicer than half-finger gloves. I dunno, I just like them more.
  7. Dear everyone in a car forever: there are more lanes to my left. If you’d like to go faster than me, please use one of them and be on your way. Despite your almost Neanderthal-like insistence on using your horn, the sound waves impacting my back do not appreciably make me go faster, nor do they alert me to your presence – I saw you long before you saw me. So please, lay off the horn, pass me on my left, have a Coke, a smile & leave me the fuck alone. I’m trying to do something nice for the two of us, jerks.
  8. I really enjoy riding my bicycle. There’s something almost poetic about being able to get to work in 40 minutes under your own power when it takes up to 30 minutes when driving. The best I ever did on my way to work was 22 minutes and that was full-on Stig mode. I’m less than twice that time under my own power, carrying my breakfast, lunch, snack, work clothes, wallet, keys, pocketknife, sunglasses, deodorant, phone, bandanas, belt, an assortment of bike tools, heavy U-lock, spare innertube, patch kit, air pump & a fistful of change in a bag slung across my back.
  9. Bicycles don’t tear streets up. If the roads were paved nice and smoothly just once and it was a bicycle-only route, it would almost never need repaving.

So far, so good. My new employer has been nice about this, what with helping me find a good, secure, indoor spot for locking up my bicycle, giving me access to a locker & having a shower. My dear wife has been getting in on the act as well and rode her bicycle to work on Monday. I can only hope with the rising fuel prices that others will start to take a look around and say, “Hey, if that fat guy can ride to work, so can I” and actually give it a try.

We just watched a terrible, terrible movie that had an interesting bit of dialogue in it. While I can’t ever recommend anyone see “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash” as it’s simply fearmongering, muckraking and completely devoid of any real content whatsoever (note to Gelpke & McCormack: a bunch of opinions do not a documentary make, it might help if you cited some “facts”), one line sort of reverberated with me. The gist of it was that if you tell Americans, “OK here’s your hydrogen powered car that will solve your part of the energy crisis” they will buy it and go on with their lives like they currently do. But instead if you said, “OK here’s your bicycle” and expect them to radically change the way they get around it’s going to be mass hysteria and chaos.

Don’t be an ugly duhmerikan. Help create order from chaos – ride a bicycle.

Cotton kills

ted | bike | Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Everyone who’s ever been camping when it’s less than 10°C knows that you shouldn’t wear cotton, since it absorbs moisture and when you stop hiking/hauling wood/drinking liquor by the fire, your sweat-soaked clothes then keep you cold. Then you get hypothermia, death or just have a bad time. That’s why you wear wool, silk or polypropylene next to your skin. I have camped in the cold and I did not die, instead I had a great time.

Anyone who’s ever spent any time being active in hot weather knows that a cotton/polyester blend offers superior breathability and wicking than just straight cotton. I’m no stranger to being active in hot weather.

While plain cotton t-shirts (vee neck, extra large tall) are a staple of my wardrobe because they’re cheap, easy to clean and look nice – which is why I think I put one on this morning instead of the myriad of 50/50 poly/cotton shirts I own. Why I didn’t realize I would be arriving at work with a heavy, sweat-soaked, non-breathing plain white cotton shirt is beyond me.

I need some cotton/poly XLT vee neck white t-shirts.

And to ride my bike to work more often. It’s nice. You get to ponder the mysteries of life, the beauty and elegance of your human-powered two wheel machine, spend time thinking about the condition of the road & blissfully ignore the assholes behind you honking. Seriously, guys, go read this and this and this and this. Or let me just spell it out for you:

625 ILCS 5/11-1502– Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles
Sec. 11-1502.Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

Same road, same rights, same rules. But you can get away with wearing a plain t-shirt in a car in the summer.

Reading comprehension ain’t your strong suit, James

ted | driving,travel | Monday, July 7th, 2008

All comments on here go to a moderation purgatory before I get around to deleting all the ones that are ads for boner pills, real fake watches, official Windows 98SE floppies & noodie pix, I often find one or two from a real person. I’m still amazed anyone reads this, honestly, much less that they comment on anything. Turns out I may have struck a nerve with someone when I posted about how I wasn’t happy how two guys in a company truck were driving very dangerously and when informed of this, their employer made the decision to terminate them. Instead of letting his/her/its comment stay buried in obscurity at the end of that post that’s over a year old now, here they are for your reading enjoyment.

The first comment, posted at 12:49 AM on 2008-July-02:

I read your blog and feel that you should be proud of yourself. By your whining and bitching you got 2 people that work hard for their money fired. Yes they came to close to your bumper because you, the dick, decided to drive the speed limit. You should share your story with others that are not in your eco friendly circle. The rest of us trying to get home at 5:30 and we live way far away from where we are at 5:30 can truely apreciate the likes of you. I hope you get a DUI after having your white whine spritzer. F you you prick. Pat yourself on the back and think about the the mortgage and kids welbeing shots and all the other shit that didnt’t get paid because someone came to close to your Jetta that got 47 mpg because it went rediculaously slow on a major expressway. FUCK YOU, YOU PRICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the follow-up comment, posted 3 minutes later at 12:52 AM on 2008-July-02:

IF you didn’t get it before, you are and asshole. If you were going below the speed limit on a major road at 5:30 the you should be flipped off, called names, etc. You are a prick that may have gotten 2 people fired for waiting for some prick to drive the speed limit. I hope some one makes you late for something very important to you. Take the side streets if you care so much. F U

Both comments came from “James”, who gave his email address as may431@att.net and posted from 99.142.32.126. I can tell this is actually adsl-99-142-32-126.dsl.emhril.sbcglobal.net which means it’s someone in the vicinity of Elmhurst IL redback and on AT&T/SBC/Ameritech/IL Bell/AT&T network. So, “James” please permit me to refute your points. I won’t even begin to ridicule your terrible grammar, sentence structure or your obvious failure to read and comprehend. In rough order:

  • You claim I got two people fired. Not so. Their employer pulled the records from the truck’s built-in GPS recorder and based on that data, they (the employer) opted to terminate their employees. It’s true I was the catalyst for this investigation, but it’s entirely plausible that after a periodic review of the GPS recorder’s data, they would have then been terminated anyway.
  • You also claim they worked hard for their money, which is pure conjecture.
  • I have been categorized as “whining and bitching”, which is a matter of opinion. I feel I framed my email in the most professional matter possible. Driving like they did was extremely unprofessional, a fact corroborated by their employer.
  • Fortunately, we are both in agreement that they did come close to my bumper. Why they did so was not because I decided to drive the speed limit (I was actually going 10 mph over the limit) – I have no idea why. I was in the far right lane with an open lane to the left of me. They were welcome to pass me at any point.
  • I was trying to get home as well, safely. At the time I worked 32 miles away from home. You are assuming (again) they had a long distance to drive.
  • You aren’t the first person who’s wished harm or injury on me, but I think you are the first to wish me a DUI after having a “white whine spritzer”. I can’t tell if that is a humorous double-entendre or just your bad spelling at work again, but I don’t drink much white wine and never a spritzers. I also take pains to drive when I’m legal to do so. So, it’s doubtful. But I’ll keep you updated.
  • The drivers’ “mortgage and kids welbeing [SIC] shots” weren’t my concern before this happened and they aren’t my concern after it happened. It is again conjecture on your part that they had mortgages, children & imminent vaccinations.
  • I drive a Golf, not a Jetta.
  • IL-394 isn’t a major expressway and I wasn’t going “rediculaously [SIC] slow”. IL-394 is a standard two-lane divided state highway, not a limited-access interstate highway. As I stated before, I was already going 10 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone with a $375 minimum fine and points assessed.
  • I did get it before, thanks.
  • Apparently you weren’t. I wasn’t going below the speed limit on a major road at 5:30. I was going over the speed limit on a major road in the rightmost lane and still being tailgated badly. I did get flipped off and I’m sure I got called names, too.
  • I’d like to point out (again) that I may have been the catalyst for the GPS data review, but it was the employer that terminated their employee’s employment. Blame the Production Director if you want to blame anyone for the actual firing. Or blame the employees who were willfully and repeatedly tailgating, speeding, driving recklessly and doing so IN THE COMPANY TRUCK.
  • I’m late to plenty of things on my own volition, or due to trains, school busses, traffic jams, bad drivers causing accidents, etc…
  • The side streets don’t get me where I need to go. Were they an option, I might take ‘em.

So, “James”, who might be may431@att.net, from 99.142.32.126, I can appreciate the fact that you think I’m an asshole. I’ve never considered myself otherwise. But honestly, you missed the point here. I’m guessing you’re one of the guys in the truck or a friend of a friend or something. Maybe a guy who has to drive a company truck all day, tired of us slowpokes in your way all the time. Any way you slice it, the guy driving the truck should be responsible for his actions at all times, especially when driving a company truck. Everyone is free to tailgate and drive like a moron in their own vehicle, but when you do so in a work vehicle, your employer’s name is on the line, not yours. What they choose to do with you is not my concern.

I guess I should also point out that it was in a construction zone. 21 highway construction workers died while on the job last year. While 2007 data isn’t available yet, the DOT says in 2006 there were 6,317 commercial vehicle crashes in Illinois.

And please, if I’m driving the speed limit in the far right-hand lane, for fuck’s sake, pass me on the left, be on your way, have a Coke, a smile and leave me alone.

At the Drive-In

ted | chicago,driving | Monday, July 7th, 2008

Not the excellent band that later formed The Mars Volta and Sparta, but a real, honest-to-dog movie where one drives in your car in front of a screen and watches a movie or two.

It’d been a long time since we’ve had an Us Night, so we made the executive decision to go to a movie. We’ve been hating on movie theaters for a while now – way overpriced, crowded, annoying jerkwads in the theater always talking on their cell phones, can’t bring in your own beverages, bad sound – so we opted to go to the Melody Drive-In. Yes, it’s in darkest Indiana, a solid 90 minute drive from Our Fair City. The drive-in gives you the freedom to have a much more pleasant moviegoing experience. To wit:

  • It’s cheap. $6 per person for two movies is a bargain, only second to Brew ‘n View at the Vic.
  • You can bring in whatever food you want. We stopped to get a pizza on the way there and had 4 sodas and 4 tallboys of OE “800″ with us.
  • Cell phones and uncomfortable, sticky seats aren’t a problem since you can bring blankets, lawn chairs, milk crates or whatever you want to sit on. Some folks just sit in their cars. Some have recliners in the bed of their truck. You’re spread out enough that people in the next row or even right next to you talking on their cell phones aren’t a problem.
  • Distributed sound is better than monolithic sound. True, you don’t get Dolby Digital 47.23089 AC9 buzzword-laden sound, but you can either listen to the given speakers (classic!) or use any FM radio to make your sound as loud as you want.

We had a great time. Wall-E was surprisingly good and The Incredible Hulk was the usual yawnfest “we were able to cram some plot in cracks in the CGI” summer action movie and we had a thoroughly decent time of it all.

I remember, as a kid, riding past a drive-in theater that was projecting a movie and being amazed at the size of the screen. This had to be easily 20 years ago and the North end of Carrollton has sprawled along US27 at an alarming rate so I know the screen’s no longer there, much less the projectors or lot. Never got a chance to go to drive-in until last year and I think they’re great. Given the choice betwixt a standard theater and a drive-in, I’ll pick the one that lets me drink beer, eat cheap pizza and have a nice time the way I want – it’ll be the drive-in every time.

New jorb update, 2008 July

ted | bike,chicago,driving,HAMLOG | Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Basically the new place absolutely rocks. We got hell of labs and equipment and new computers and good software and I’m learning a whole lot of new stuff. Interesting stuff. Challenging stuff. I leave home at the same time as I did with the old place but I get home 1.5 hours earlier – read that again – I have an extra 1.5 hours AT HOME that I otherwise spent in the car or rotting away in my cube. Fuel economy for this first tank is down from 44ish MPG to about 40 MPG, but I only need to fill up about every 25 days instead of every 7 – 10.

But that ain’t really why I want to talk about.

I rode my bicycle to work today. Left home about half an hour early and had plenty of time to cool off a bit, change and be at my desk at my allotted start time. I felt great – awake, energetic and not really hungry at all. It was only after my big mess o’ black beans & brown rice for lunch that I got The Hunger. Fended that off until it was quittin’ time at Tara, whereupon I changed back and rode home. Took about 45 minutes to get to work and 40 on the way home. It’s nice to be able to ride to work again – or hell, for the first time ever. I used to only ride home from GE, 12 miles through Atlanta rush hour traffic. Now I’m going to be riding the full 18 miles to/from work a couple times a week, weather permitting.

This is more than just saving diesel. This is about getting back into shape by integrating exercise into my work day. This is about arriving at work fully awake and energetic. Getting the new job was just step one in my five year plan. Riding to work at minimum several times a week during that time of year when it won’t kill me is back to my roots and back to how I want to spend my time.

And like my homeboy President Carter from Plains GA said,

Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense — I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

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