Things Falling Apart

It drives me nuts – probably a lot more than it should – when stuff breaks. Well, sometimes I just take a “it happens” attitude, but if it’s something I really need to fix, then I resent needing to spend the time to fix or replace it. And when several things break in succession, well, that’s obviously worse.

A couple of weeks ago I had the classic moment when I realized I’d left my pedometer in my shorts – which were currently in the washing machine. Once it dried out it seemed to be working again, but in trying to get it all back together I lost one of the nuts which actually holds the battery compartment in place. I couldn’t figure out where it went (probably fell behind the bookcase), so I finally gave up and just ordered a new pedometer, as the old one was, well, getting pretty old anyway. On the bright side, the pedometer Debbi and I each use is down to $24 at

Several months ago, the zipper on the bag I take everywhere with my laptop and books and such broke. Well, the bag has, like, 12 pockets, so it was only one zipper – but it was the one for the laptop pocket. And, the zipper itself is fine, it’s actually just the handle which snapped in half. The fix? Take some ribbon and tie it through the remainder of the handle, and voila! New handle! Well, new handle until the remainder of the old handle decides to just fall off one day, taking the ribbon with it, and probably turning into a cat toy. So now I need to figure out a new way to get the ribbon on there, without it slipping through the gap the old handle likely slipped through (which I probably widened in my failed attempt to replace the old handle with a handle taken from a discarded suitcase).

And most recently, today I was biking in to work, and during my water break decided to raise my seat again. It keeps slipping down from the most comfortable position, so I’ve been raising it about once a week, which involves loosening the screws which keep it in place, and then tightening them again. This time, metal fatigue took it toll and the screw snapped in half, so the seat wouldn’t stay in place. Fortunately (?) I’d stopped in front of my friends Susan & Subrata‘s house, so I sent Susan a text message, and 30 seconds later I hear her yell, “Come on in!” So she gave me a lift home and I showered and started my day over again.

I’ll have to go buy a new screw for the bike, and I wonder if I should buy a new seat as well, in the hopes that a new one won’t keep slipping down. On the other hand, given that I seem to have one major failure in my bike every year, maybe I should just buy a new bike.


The upside is that S&S’s son Ajay took his first steps over the weekend, and I got to play and laugh with him while Susan was getting ready to drive me home. He’s a cute little guy.

Anyway, now that I’ve got all this out of my system, I can work on getting stuff repaired.


All-in-all, quite a productive weekend.

After a quiet morning at home on Saturday, Debbi and I went for a bike ride through the park and down the bike trail, stopping in the park for lunch at the lakeside cafe, and going over the new pedestrian bridge they finished a month or so ago. We cooled down with some yoga exercises on the Wii.

Then we headed to Palo Alto where I bought myself an iPhone 3GS, upgrading from my original model. While this is a tad frivolous, it is a much bigger upgrade over my phone than the 3G was: Faster processors, better camera, more memory, built-in compass – all useful items. Especially the speed and the camera. I ordered a new holster, the newer edition of the one I’ve been using for my old phone: A Marware Sidewinder Deluxe. I like the hard shell and screen protection when I’m not using the phone, while giving me full access to the screen when I am using it. Hopefully it’ll be just as good as the earlier version.

We went to Cafe Borrone in the evening as usual, and on the way home got caught on a summer rainshower that hit the mid-peninsula – very unusual in these parts in July. We often get a little shower in August, and I’ll be curious to see whether it arrived a month early, or if this was a bonus shower. Either way, it was nice.

Today we had an even quieter morning at home, with Debbi making scones and then us sitting on the porch reading the paper with our scones and coffee, enjoying the cool weather. Then we hit the farmer’s market.

In the afternoon I tackled the project of installing a new faucet in the sink of Debbi’s bathroom. This was a pain in the ass, partly because I’d never replaced a faucet before, and partly because the old tubing for the cold water lost its seal when I was trying to fix it all up, and we had to go out and buy a new tube. But I finally got it hooked up, including the drain control, and it works without any leaks. In retrospect I guess it wasn’t too bad, but messing around under the sink is not at all convenient.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my latest physical ailment: My hips have been getting sore at odd times, usually for days on end, making it difficult to switch between sitting and standing. It started the week before we left on vacation, so less than a month ago. For some reason working under the sink aggravated them badly, and I’ve been hobbling around for the rest of the afternoon. It’s really frustrating, especially since the pinched nerve in my neck seems to be almost better (it only bothered me a little while biking yesterday). Doing a couple of yoga poses seems to help work out the soreness, fortunately, but it’s not a panacea.

Anyway, I wrapped up the day with our book discussion group, dinner at Su Hong, and a few more yoga poses with the Wii. Tomorrow I plan to bike in to work, just in time for temperatures around here to clear 90. Ugh!

But I’m happy with what I got done this weekend. Now I need to go relax for the rest of the evening.

Back on the Bike

After a trial ride over the weekend, I got back on the bike today and rode into work. The newest reach of the Stevens Creek Trail opened a few weeks ago, and it makes my ride when I choose to take the trail a lot easier, since I can avoid one of the more complicated intersections on the route. Very nice! (I have two other routes I take to work, too, but it’s nice to ride on the trail when it’s convenient. Except for going over the bridge over Central Expressway whose wood-slats are slowly eroding and splintering, but that’s another issue.)

One unusual site was biking past a cul-de-sac road and seeing a large (German Shepherd-sized) dog lying on its back in the middle of the cul-de-sac. I hope it was just lying in the sun and rubbing its back on the pavement, and not that something bad had happened to it, but stopping to investigate didn’t seem advised.

As usual for the first ride of the year, my legs are wobbly and I’ve been ravenously hungry (and trying to resist doing things like gobbling down chocolate-dipped croissants). It’ll take a couple of weeks for my body to adjust to the shock of all this sudden exercise. 🙂

Feels good to get out again, though.

The Mother of Crappy Weeks

Okay, that might be an exaggeration. I mean, it’s not like I got into a car accident or had a death in the family or anything that bad. But this week has been just one thing after another.

  1. I mentioned on Sunday that one of my credit card numbers had apparently been stolen, so I closed down the account and had them send me a new card with a new account. The card was supposed to arrive on Tuesday, but it didn’t. So that was stressful. It did arrive on Wednesday, though, and I’ve used it, so that’s good. I still have to go update all my recurring bills with the new number though. Argh.
  2. Work this week has been a never-ending series of Stuff. About five different projects that popped up all at once needing immediate attention. Juggling those – and trying to actually get the coding done on them – has been quite an effort.
  3. I took the cats in for their annual check-up, and the vet recommended I switch them off of hairball control cat food, since apparently it contains a mild laxative in it, which might explain some of the bowel issues the cats have been having (for which he’s taking a round of antibiotics to help clean things out, too). Naturally we’d just bought two 20-pound bags of the stuff last weekend. I took one in and exchanged it, and we’ll use the other one to wean them onto the new food gradually.
  4. This morning the vet calls and tells me that both Newton and Jefferson have elevated thyroid levels. Newton’s is quite elevated, and not really unexpected. Jefferson’s is somewhat elevated, and is rather surprising since he’s a low-key kitty. So Newton gets to start on drugs to control his thyroid (a condition which might also explain his bowel issues, and his gradual weight loss over the last couple of years), and Jefferson is getting another test and might also get the drugs.

    Hopefully I can get them pilled without much trouble with the help of pill pockets. Otherwise it’s going to be a real pain in the ass, and/or expensive if I have to switch to a different method of drug delivery.

  5. This morning I noticed that my bike’s rear wheel was out of true. This afternoon I noticed that in fact it has popped a spoke. This is the wheel which was popping 1-2 spokes per year a few years ago, and which had its rim replaced a couple of months ago. This is really not cool. I may have a new bike in my future. And you can bet it won’t be a Bianchi, given how this one’s worked out.

    Sadly the repair shop is booked up for the next week and a half. Makes me wonder if I should locate a shop that can give me faster turn-around times.

  6. The really surreal thing is when I called the bike shop this afternoon: Whoever picked up sounded like they were about 5 years old. Our conversation went something like this:

    Me: Hello?

    Them: Hello.

    Me: Is this <name of store>?

    Them: Yes.

    Me: I’d like to make an appointment to bring my bike in.

    Them: Okay.

    Me: <weirded-out silence>

    Them: <starts babbling into the phone wordlessly>

    I just shook my head and hung up the phone. I decided to go to coffee and try again when I got back. This time I got a real person and made an appointment. I didn’t ask about the earlier call, though. I checked the number at the time and was sure it was the right number, but maybe it was a wrong number. I dunno.

  7. The house painting is still going on. I went out to water my plants – which are down on the patio rather than on the porch where they usually live – and tracked dirt into the house this morning. Gah. I’ll be really glad when the painting is done. I’m certainly done with it. Hopefully only one more week.

Speaking of one more week, on the bright side I have next week off for vacation. Which after this week I really, really need. As always I have plenty of stuff to do, even if my plans to go for some bike rides have been deep-sixed by the popped spoke.

It can’t be much worse than this week. And if it is, then I’ll really be unhappy.

Bicycling Update

Tuesday I took my bike in for its annual service. I have a Bianchi Eros (in “brilliant blue”, not in their signature “weird green”) which I bought back in 2002, and I have mixed feelings about it. Mostly I think I got a bad rear wheel when I bought it, which led to a couple of years of popped spokes and bent rims, although I think it also took me a little while to get used to taking care of it, such as not over-inflating the tires. I had them rebuild the wheel with new spokes a couple of years ago, and it’s been much better since.

Anyway, the bike’s been making lots of funny sounds recently, and the rear rim was clearly out of true, so I wanted it to get fixed up, since I’m biking in to work twice a week this year.

Well, it turns out the rim was not just bent, it was cracking. When I picked it up they showed me how two of the holes where the spokes attach to the rim were cracking across the rim, which was clobbering its structural integrity. So I had them rebuild the wheel with a new rim, and I biked in yesterday. And wow what an improvement: The bike is nearly silent, and the ride feels much smoother and easier. Combined with the other basic maintenance, such as turning the gears, it almost feels like a brand new bike!

The guy at the shop said I got my money’s worth out of the old rim, so I guess I can’t complain. Hopefully I can go a few years without any significant trouble from the bike, now. Because next time I start having major problems with it, I might just replace it.

Wussed Out

I’d originally planned to bike into work today, but I wussed out. It was cloudy and cold this morning, with a chance of rain in the forecast. I knew if I drove in then it would be nice and sunny out, but if I biked in then I’d get rained on going home.

Well, it was nice and sunny over lunch, but it’s glowering pretty good out there right now, so I may have made a good call.

Well, maybe later this week.

Through the Tunnel

This morning we got up and were joined by Mark and Yvette for a bike ride. We headed into Shoreline Park and had lunch there, and then headed down the Stevens Creek Trail to check out the new reach that opened yesterday, including a tunnel under El Camino Real!

For those not familiar with the area, El Camino Real is a major artery down the San Francisco peninsula and through Silicon Valley. In Mountain View, it’s a 6-lane road with plenty of traffic. I have to cross it somehow whenever I bike to work, and I usually cross at a traffic light at one of three intersections. But this underpass will help make it easy to avoid all that, especially once they build the next reach (hopefully by the end of the year) which could make my bike commute a lot easier. They built the underpass with surprisingly light impact on the road and it looks great, nice and clean and wide and with a skylight at the median of the street to let some natural light into the tunnel.

A few shots of the tunnel and trail’s end:

Entrance to the El Camino underpass

Interior of the El Camino underpass

The end of the trail (for now)

Additionally, we’re in the middle of a heat wave here, with highs in the mid-80s. Zoinks! It was breezy and it wasn’t too bad in the shade, but a lot of our ride was in the sun. At least it was dry out, too, so it was still fun. After three days of heat, it sounds like it will be back to normal tomorrow (highs in the high 60s). And now that frisbee is winding down I should consider starting to bike to work regularly.

For dinner I made my recently-mentioned “ex-girlfriend tacos” and we watched the Red Sox/Yankees game on ESPN, and the god damned games between these two teams go on forever, this one running about 4 hours. Fricking Yankees. Fortunately, the good guys won.

Puttering Around

I can’t say I’ve been getting a lot done on my week off. I’ve hit some used bookstores, bought and read this week’s comic books, eaten a bunch of good food (including trying the new burger restaurant, The Counter, which recently opened in Palo Alto; pretty good!), talked to friends and family on the phone, and done some reading.

Precious little writing, however – here or elsewhere.

Other than playing poker on Monday, my main accomplishment has been going for a bike ride every morning so far this week. Yesterday I went for a lengthy ride (meaning, about 15 miles – not lengthy for some, but lengthy for me) around some territory I’ve only biked once before, and along the way I discovered some new places to go walking. So tomorrow – now that Debbi’s off for the rest of the week – we might go for a walk in the morning rather than a ride.

It’s been cool and sometimes foggy for my morning rides, but by the end of the outing I’m pretty hot and sweaty, so I guess it’s not cold enough! Actually by 10 am it gets up well over 60, which is plenty warm for biking.

So, not the most productive week. But it’s not over yet! And if I regret anything, it’s that it’s flying by so quickly!

Morning Ride

I went for a 13-mile ride this morning, and took my camera so I could snap some shots of my route in the fall:


Creek at high tide. I once stopped on the bridge I took this picture from, looked down and saw a ray swimming up the creek. I don’t know where it was going, but I hope it got there.


Lovely red tree amidst all the greenery.


This trail is more scenic than it looks in this picture. I often see dogs and cats patrolling the space around it. The area to the right beyond the fence used to be a commercial nursery, but they left earlier this year. I think they’re going to build housing on the site.