Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Successful first bike commute of the year! Sort of...

I know, I know, I'm late to the ball game. It's been spring for a few weeks at *least*. Kind of. It can't seem to make up its mind here in the great Pacific Northwest.

Last year, frustrated with how little riding I was able to get in during the evenings, plus the gas prices (and we thought they were bad then...), I made up my mind to try riding to work. It's 12.5 miles each way, which isn't really at the extreme end of bike commuting, but still nothing to sneeze at. I scoped it out in the car for weeks, then rode it on the weekend, and finally figured out a route that is almost entirely wide shoulders, bike lanes, and bike paths. There's one small bridge where I have to merge into traffic, and two left-hand turns that also pretty much require joining the big scary cars. Other than that, it's pretty stress-free.

I'd not ridden yet this year, partly because of our changeable weather and partly because I'd had a nice long winter in which to build up my phobias again. I'm scared of riding on the road. But then, I'm scared of merging on the interstate, too, especially at night. If I do it often enough, I at least get to the stage where I figure I'm more likely to make it than to die. That's about the best I can do. ;-) Same goes for the bike commute.

Yesterday at work, one of the other gals in the office, who knew that I rode in last year, came to talk about her determination to ride in today and the sorts of obstacles she anticipated. I got all wistful and decided I *had* to ride in today - this despite the fact that I'd not even been on the bike this calendar year. Yes, I am a slug.

But I'm a very stubborn slug. That's in my favor, at least!

It was a grey, cool morning - actually very nice weather for biking, IMO. No glaring sun or confusing shadows. After a mile, I thought about giving up and going back. My legs were already burning. Then, the first of the mishaps occurred. I got my shoelace looped on a pedal - something that *never* happened last year. In about two pedal strokes, my foot was completely stuck, twisted sideways, and I was unable to control the bike or free my foot. So I did what I had to do - dumped myself into the grass at the side of the road. There I was, sitting in a dip with one foot sticking up, one foot glued to the bike, and cars slowing down to watch. Yeah. Lovely. As a co-worker said, they probably figured I'm one of those folks who are starting to bike because of the gas prices, but who haven't been on a bike since about second grade. Heh... I had to take off my shoe to get my lace loose, but nothing was broken, on the shoe, the bike, or me. And it made me mad enough to go on instead of going back.

The rest of the commute was equally imperfect. I took a left turn too soon and had someone slam on their brakes and honk at me (they made it into a much bigger deal than it was, but I was at fault, for sure - again, something I didn't do alll last season. Ungh...) I ran over broken glass, which fortunately didn't cause any flats, but sure made me nervous.

But I made it. And I also had the chance to remember how much of the riding experience I'd missed - in the car, you miss the sounds of the world going on around you; the smell of flowers or cut grass or wood (or sewers) as you go past; smiling and waving at pedestrians and other cyclists; the joy of cresting a steep hill under your own power, even if you slowed to a near-walk for the final third; the rush of the wind - sometimes friend, sometimes foe....

It's good to be back again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I think I need NAA (Notebook Addicts Anonymous)...

I think I officially have too many notebooks going at once right now. Currently:

1. A large Moleskine that is my current journal. I like these - they lay absolutely flat when open (no writing up to and away from a hump), the covers are stiff enough to allow for writing without a table nearby, the pocket is handy for interesting receipts and ticket stubs and whatever other little souvenirs I care to put in there, the elastic keeps everything tidy, and the ribbon means I don't have to hunt for my last entry. Downsides: they're ridiculously expensive, for one! I have a batch right now that I got from someone on a message board, and therefore didn't pay all that much for 'em...when those are gone, we'll see if I keep using them. Other downside is that the paper isn't altogether fountain pen friendly. There's bleed-through using anything but a fine pen, and even with a fine pen some inks don't work. And feathering occurs pretty much no matter what.

2. The large Rhodia A4 sized notebook I just started for story writing. I <3 Rhodia paper. Loooove. It's a tiny bit thinner and maybe not quite so slick as the other gold standard for fountain pens: Clairefontaine. I've used both, and I'm not sure I have a definite preference, but the Rhodia pads are cheaper and more readily available, and are easier to find in graph format, which I like...

3. An Ampad Gold Fibre notepad at work, used for meeting notes, tracking my time, taking notes on tasks and procedures so I can remember 'em, etc. It's my memory. Can't function without it.

4. A logbook I've been keeping in addition to the journal. It just has a brief rundown for each day, to help me remember when I did stuff: "Ordered still more Rhodia paper from Swisher Pens. Made stuffed peppers for dinner - not as good as recipe A. Started reading Jane Eyre again." That sort of stuff. It's a good quick reference. My journal has a lot more thoughts and complaints and other fluff...

5. The mini Moleskine I keep in my purse or coat pocket, and use for story ideas for future stories, current-story brainstorming, current-story notes for easy reference (things like time lines, minor character names, scenes-to-be-written).

6. A mini memopad for reminders, grocery lists, to-do lists for home. I used to use sticky notes, but this is tidier, and I can refer back to earlier lists more easily.

7. A mini Rhodia pad for pocket-carry - for poems, mostly.

8. A tiny Japanese notebook I got when visiting my brother in San Francisco, used for fountain pen ink scribbles and comparisons, so I can remember what a particular one looked like with a particular pen or in comparison with similar colors.

I *think* that's about it. It's a lot. I could probably combine 5 & 7, I suppose, but they do all serve their purposes. Legion though they be, they get used. It makes me feel a *tiny* bit less guilty about all the additional notebooks waiting in the wings. I'm a compulsive paper buyer. I can't help myself. I love papery goodness...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Playing the building

This is mondo cool.

I don't really care much for the Talking Heads. In fact, they're one of the few artists / groups my favorite radio station plays that make me start groping for the dial the instant I hear one of their lead-ins. (The exception to the rule is "Psycho Killer," which I crank and sing along with...not sure what that says about me...) I like David Byrne's solo efforts even less.

But this is very, very cool. You remember how, as a little kid, you'd wander around tapping various household items with a pencil or drumstick to see what tone you got from it? Everybody did that, right? This takes that to a whole new level. As Neo would say, "Whoa!"