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December 25, 2008

adversity

I finally had my bike fixed and was able to ride to work yesterday.

After being crabby for a week it was great to have something real to gripe about - something that could take all the bitching I could throw with delightful passivity. The weather, the roads, the wind, and the random cars on the road really couldn't care less. It was exhilarating to be fighting against the wind again, to notice my frozen toes when I still had three more miles to go (about half-way).

And when I was all grumped out I began to notice all the beauty - the delicious sent of cold - the snow covering a group of rocks, the weak sun making what few colors around so much more vibrant, the frozen river, the pattern of slush on the road. There was/is no end to beauty when out in the world unprotected with no bubble of heat, glass, and metal around me, with no radio to distract me. And when I am traveling at 8 to 10 miles per hour I tend to notice more.

I need to bike more in the winter to stay sane - riding brings much needed adversity and struggle to my life.

December 18, 2008

fix-it

I've been struggling with transportation. I've got two winter bikes both of which need work and a car, which also needs work. However, thanks to my ignorance, curiosity, and can-do attitude, I discovered what is wrong with my car.

For a month now people have been telling me that something is wrong with the oxygen sensor or something of that sort because, as I put it, my four-wheeled-motorized-vehicle is "idly challenged". Not all the time, but irregularly when in neutral it sounded like I was trying to race some one. My rpm meter would oscillate anywhere between a few millimeters and whole inch depending on lord only knows what. There were a few other weird symptoms that really made me want to call "car talk". Maybe I should still call them just to see if they can figure it out:
Occasionally revving engine (only when in neutral)
My heater would stop working
The engine temperature would go up
When in gear sometimes the car would act jerky - as if I didn't know how to drive a stick (which I swear I do).

Upon recommendation I threw some fuel-injector cleaner in the tank but that didn't do much (that I know of).

Have you diagnosed the problem yet?

Well, to give you a hint, I am a really bad car owner.
For example, I meant to change the oil this summer but never got around to it.

Nor have I checked any fluid levels.
Before taking it to any mechanics I decided to check the fluids and add some oil (it burns a bit - but just a bit!).

I totally needed windshield wiper fluid.
Power steering fluid was bit low but not dying.
Brake and transmission levels were fine - I didn't even know what those reservoirs were before this!
I had to add about a half a quart of oil (I told you it doesn't burn much).

But

The bigger winner was coolant/radiator fluid. It was at the bottom of the reservoir. I added this and drove home. The car acted the same but this morning when I climbed in and went to work I was surprised to notice that the heat worked fine, no jerky action, and best of all - no demon taking over my gas pedal making me appear like a much more obnoxious driver than I really am (I swear! Though my nerves did get a bit worn listing to that rev all the time...).

I could hardly believe it! My car was fixed with a ten dollar bottle of coolant (and only partially used at that).

Unfortunately a car-intelligent friend (who also misdiagnosed the problem!) said that a car almost never loses coolant so there must be a leak somewhere. So alas, the problem is only diagosed properly - not fixed. However, I am thrilled that while identifying the root cause (the leak) at least the symptoms shouldn't be plaguing me so much.

Then, just to add some cream on top - I fixed my windshield wiper blade too (just had to adjust it a bit - the ice knocked it out of whack). My luck seemed to run out when I tried to fix my holiday lights though...

Oh well - if I manage to get my bikes on track so I can actually get out and enjoy this weather I'll be happy as a a guinea pig with a green pepper.

December 14, 2008

animals

I've never really "done" pets. Yet years ago, after a bad break up, combined with post-college and post-traveling woes, I decided to commit to trying out having a guinea pig. Mani stuck and now I can't tell how much I am anthropomorphizing and how much she really is "a super special and super smart" rug rat.

My latest acquisition into the animal kingdom has a different sort of motivation - more in line with my general values and based on my lackacompostaphobia - a word I created that reflects my fear not being able to compost.

I got worms.

I named them Harry.

At first, as with all new pet owners, I was super worried about accidentally killing Harry. Oddly (or predictably) enough, since they are worms this was combined with some squeamishness as well. Actually the day I got Harry in the mail I've never felt so excited and repulsed at the same time. After living with Mani for three years I can say with authority that I am a guinea pig person (and she is a person guinea pig). I don't see this happening with Harry - I am not a worm person.

Nonetheless, I felt a certain amount of pride (combined with the usual dose of repulsion and squeamishness) when I dug into the Harry's box yesterday to drop off the latest round of vegetable scraps and I stumbled upon a nest of little tiny baby red wigglers.

I am so thrilled Harry is reproducing. Not only is this a sign that death is not on my worms' doorsteps but it falls in with my plans of growing enough worms that I can give some away.

Who wouldn't love a bundle of red wigglers for their birthday?