Friday, February 29, 2008

Bears and clarification of the exact

I don't remember exactly where I was at 7:21. Sometimes I don't write it down, or I'm drunk and I forget or something. I try to fill it in later, and write like it's in the present tense, but sometimes I really don't know. Sometimes, like now, I fake it - but if I'm fudging, I speak in general terms of time - if I say it's exact, then it is. At 7:21 or whatever time on 2/29: I'm talking to Davi while half ignoring a bum who's trying to change the subject to philanthropy and cigarettes. This is outside the CVS where I was about to go in and buy some bears. I call beers bears, because bears is better, and Keith was yelling 'bear' instead of beer once. That was the day before he left for the army. That was before 9/11. Now it's later, and I'm still saying bears, and that's why. Davi and the other Brasil guys are leaving this month. The dates are staggered, but the destination is home. I got light bears. They weren't worth a damn.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bicycle fix-it w/ Chris

Nobody is teaching these guys how to fix bikes - which sucks, because they want to learn. Dave and Bill work in the rental department, and they both want a good bike. Dave and Bill and I each have a bike in the stand. Each is a separate project that needs attention. I'm spending too much time working on my bike, but I'm still making perpetual rounds helping with all three projects at once.

Bill has a road bike project. The frame is a lugged steel Bianchi of less than incredible quality. It's getting built up from the frame. Before tonight we've installed a sealed bottom bracket, and the original Sugino cranks. It has a new too-nice Shimano 105 headset, and some way-too-race-y wheels that Bill might have to spend too much for. But moving on: we're setting up the brakes. The calipers are the new super-long reach Tektros that can put a pad on a braking surface 73mm below the brake bolt - and they're dual pivot calipers at that. A new and exciting concept only recently available, and very reasonably priced! Well, the reach is maybe too long for this bike. The pads sit on the braking surface, but they're clumsily jacked all the way to the very top of the slots on the calipers. The Shimano aero levers are nice and pretty though, and the combination will work well. I show Bill how to measure and cut the housing, and how to run the cables, seat the housing, and set up the brakes. Then tape the housing to the groove on the inside of the bars. That's where we left it.

Dave has a goofy Kona frame with track ends, made for intensely fat tires and single speed. There's a braze-on (TIG weld-on) for a coaster brake arm to be bolted. Dave has one gear, and he could really use at least three. Eaton Bikes has a goofup-ordered 26" Zac19 rimmed Shimano Nexus 3spd coaster brake hubbed wheel. Perfect. We installed the new wheel, which required springing out the stays by about two millimeters. Somehow this made the right crank touch the chain stay. I swear we only spread it a miniscule amount. But the crank was close. It's a 113 width bottom bracket with a road-ish crank arm that does not stick out enough to clear the stays, which appear to be designed to clear tires at least a foot or two wide. So I showed Dave how to pull the cranks and bottom bracket, and install a wider BB - then how to put the chainring on the inside of the spider - then how to remove all that stuff again to put a couple little spacers on the right hand side of the BB so the chainring doesn't touch the stay. The spacers were Dave's idea. Genius which should have come from my mind first. I forgot about BB spacers.

My City Bike is in the stand getting those damn drop bars off. It's a good bike, but it doesn't work for me at all with those handlebars. It feels like I'm riding a tiny frame, even with the bars jacked way up on the Technomic stem. Clearly a bad idea in hindsight, but I'm happy to have tried and failed, just to get that out of my system. I'm putting the Tall Cool stem back on with some alloy northroad handlebars made by J&B (Sunlite). The clamp diameter works, and the bars are very similar to the ones from the Raleigh Sports that I used in the first place. For good measure - and to always be changing stuff - I'm installing some Avid single digit 5 v-brakes, and some similar matching Avid brake levers. I put on the alloy seat post I was looking at, and finished it all off with some very handsome khaki colored OURY grips that look fantastic with the frame. I'm not the first person to fawn over aesthetics, but the City Bike is looking like an attractive simple machine. I think an overhaul of the original cup and cone bottom bracket is kinda in order though... geez, self. I overhauled it once, but it's been a long time and now it's been cared for by criminals. Time for some new grease.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pouring wine

Did you know you can get a bottle of wine for $3.60 after tax at CVS? I have one in my hand right now.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Song in head... Talking Heads

I'm walking past Michael's Restaurant on Margaret. It's after work, and I'm headed toward the van. I have a song in my head - just a part of a song - and I know I should know who it is. Immediately. And a second after immediately, I remember. It's a piece of a Talking Heads track.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Phosflourescent jellyfish

I'm leaning over the railing on the White Street pier looking at a group of about five jellyfish with a little phosflourescent bug dancing around inside of each one. It looks like how I imagine a glowing electron bouncing around in a big jelly nucleus.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rehab the snabbed cycle

I'm at Eaton bikes after hours. I want to swap around parts on my Diamondback and my Diamond Back. The Diamondback (compound word) is the younger bicycle of the two, and the bike that I call my City Bike even though it does everything. It's a cheaper super-beefy hi-ten frame, but I love it more. I'm here at the shop after work so I can clog up two work stands and the entire workbench with no interruptions. Steve came over, so we're each drinking two tall Budweisers and listening to music from my iPod while I work on my bike. Silver Sun Pickups, My Morning Jacket, Nirvana, Iron and Wine, other artists.. I'm experimenting in the spirit of trying out everything possible, and goofing with bikes. I'm putting drop bars on my Diamondback - reclaiming my recovered City Bike. I have a Technomic quill stem by Nitto with a shorter than average extension. This stem is paired to some cheap anatomically bent black drop bars by Dimension with some new Shimano aero levers. I'm using the original cantilever brakes - cheap as hell, work good. City Bike is getting new wheels. I'm using the double-walled eyeletted Zac19 Weinmann rimmed, stainless steel 2.0 gauge straight spoked, Shimano RM60 cassette hubbed wheels that were intended as my temporary wheels for the Diamond Back. The City Bike's original rear wheel was thoroughly goosed for weeks before it was stolen. I hit a curb pretty hard when I first got to Key West - by the Home Depot. That was when I was still sleeping in Truck House. I kept riding on that wheel in the spirit of riding whatever still works. Now I'm upgrading. Previous to theft, I installed a J&B 'Tall Cool' (their name) stem. It does not mate properly with the Raleigh Sports-born northroad bars I was using - requiring beer can shimming. This worked worse than mediocre. This situation was going to be amended before it was stolen, but then theft got in the way. Now I can finally address the handlebar setup. Additionally, I'm installing a rear rack by Delta: tubular aluminum, black, rated to 60lbs, holds a u-lock perfectly. This rack replaces the uniquely substantial steel rack made by who-knows-who. The steel rack has no bolted or movable hardware - the struts that attach to the seat stays are a welded integral part of the rack. It just so happened that mated to the City Bike it leaned back to the precise angle necessary to allow for a hose-clamped milk crate to clear the back of the saddle. But now I'm changing it for this Delta rack. Dunno... just am. I also have my eye on a new alloy seatpost to replace the obviously functional steel beast-post. Dunno... just do. So we'll see if this bicycle is acceptable with drop bars. Of course it will work, but will it be fun and comfortable for me? That's the name of the game. That's the purpose of this evening. As Dave from West Chester said: "So, I guess you're all wondering why I've called you here this evening." I got a kick out of him saying that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tropic Cinema short films

I'm watching the Oscar nominated short films at a special showing at the Tropic Cinema. My mood: quite good. Reason: I just got my original Diamondback* bike back! (Stolen Jan. 8 - see Feb. 6 for weepy reminiscence). I was walking to the movies after work, and there it was outside Fausto's Grocery store on Flemming St. It had a lock, but it wasn't secured to anything. I didn't want to have a conversation with anybody about whose bike it was, so I hopped on and rode it away. Somebody clearly treated it like junk for the past couple months. I like short films. I'm happy to be sitting here in the theater. Tom Savage had an extra ticket. I bumped into him on my way in, and he gave me his extra - ostensibly because this is my lucky day. BOOF BOOF**!

*the original Diamondback is spelled as a compound word - sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I can't remember whether the compound word bikes came first or second, but I recall that Sheldon Brown mentioned this on his page about Japanese bicycles. Rest in peace Sheldon.

**celebratory exclamation

Friday, February 22, 2008

Drunk, smoking, shopping

I'm smoking weed, and I'm about to go shopping at Albertsons. I'm already done drinking, and I'm fully aware that it's fairly early to be this enlightened.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

blunts and bike-speak

I'm rolling past Truman on Windsor with Dave smoking a floppy blunt of blueberry. Just got out of work where I spent an hour off the clock rehabbing a bike for Gustavo to borrow. When he goes back to Brasil he'll return it to me so I can sell it. A customer left this bike for Eaton to do as it pleases. It's a basic Raleigh 21spd mountain bike. TIG welded steel, no suspension, medium frame. I took the tall-ass Key West handlebars off, swapping them for some flat bars that were taken off a Bianchi Milano. I removed all the shifter-stuff that was attached to the Alivio brake lever/shifters, and used some reel cheap friction thumb shifters in its stead. The J&B catalog has friction shifters marked as 'Pyramid' listed for sale. I've witnessed, used, and detested those plastic bodied shifters - but I ordered a pair for lack of a better immediate alternative. What arrived to fill the order is a pair of aluminum bodied shifters with a nice ratcheting feel labeled as "Xundah." These are a sure classic, and I've put three pairs into action so far. For grips I used khaki colored 'Oury' brand. The cables had been recently replaced. Since I was removing a considerable amount of housing due to the handlebar exchange, I was able to cut off the clamped cable sections and reinstall the same cables just like new product. Mega thrifty! The cables that came with the Xunda shifters were replaced with stainless. They don't supply Xundahs with cables that would make your momma proud. The original cantilever brakes and the derailers were all fine and remain on the bike. The chain was deemed toast and replaced with a SRAM PC-830 "reasonable price/quality" model. In short: without going apeshit, I rehabbed this bike pretty good, and I did it fast on the cheap. I like that. [ed note: after riding this bike for a longer distance, I've decided that the wheels are too heavy, especially with the big cheap tires. Oh well.]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My new watch

I splurged on a new watch, and this was the first time it's beeped for me at 7:21. It's very similar to my previous watch. The face is the same size and style and all of the setting procedures are exactly the same. They're watch cousins. It took a long time for me to finally break down and get the new watch. I don't like buying stuff that's likely to show up at some point for free. The previous watch was a castoff from Shelly. The velcro part of the band eventually just fell off, and I started the policy of tucking the extra strap in behind the remaining band to kinda hold it on. Worked for awhile, but eventually started to not-work. Plus, since it was at least a few years old, the display was getting dim. I almost threw down on one of those calculator watches, but I have unusually slender wrists rendering such a choice silly on two levels. I stayed a penny inside my 10 dollar preferred budget - excluding watchtax - and have no regrets about this fine wristwatch.

Monday, February 18, 2008

BBQ @ Bubba's

I'm at the laundromat / beer / internet place. I'm drinking beer. The BBQ deal is $13/plate and as much beer as you can drink. I'm at about 75 cups, so I'm winning by a little bit. I'm also doing laundry. I'm washing my clothes, and also the slip cover for the chair in my van. My parents are coming to visit tomorrow, and the slip cover was looking nearly as dirty as I actually am most of the time. I don't want to look like a bum, so I'm washing the slip cover for the chair that's in my van. This amuses me. So does the beer, and the fact that I'm doing laundry here. I was also just reading a book by Lisa Scottoline. Dreamane is here doing some laundry. Steve just showed up, and a guy-in-charge pretty much said he could play a song. There's some live music involved in the BBQ, and it's between acts right now. He doesn't end up playing a song. Maybe next time, maybe never. Would have been good to see though.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Getting drunk

I'm drinking whiskey and coke out of my brown plastic camping cup. Dreamane drove my van up here, and now we're just sitting in my favorite spot talking. My Duck Avenue parking spot where my van will remain for the night. I'm drinking from my mug, still sitting shotgun. She's goofing around on her laptop.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Just saw a ghost ride

I'm standing over my bike after a short post-work ride with Dave. He ghost-rode a bike to his friend's house near Georgia. Street. He rode a big shitty long chopper bike, and held the handlebar of his bike to bring it alongside. The chopper is for his friend who can't drive his dad's truck now that it has become apparent that he doesn't know how to act proper with that responsibility. The kid has been relegated to the realm of the shitty chopper.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Going up some steps

I'm lifting my Diamond Back up the stairs at Steve's. I'm almost to the top. I'm liking this bike a lot better, and my comfort level is rising daily. Dreamane can cook like crazy for cheap. She'll be here in a minute.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lighters needed

I'm riding bikes with Dave. We just got out of work. It was my day off, but I was called in to cover the last four hours. Easy money, so sure. But somehow I wasn't happy. My situation here in paradise is unparalleled. When described, it could make a jealous man from one who was previously content. So why the long face, Chris? Maybe I'm homesick. Maybe I need to experience something new. Maybe I got used to enjoying more alone time. But 7:21pm is a snapshot of happiness. We're passing the cemetary and headed toward that gas station at Truman and White. The one with Dion's. Dave needs a lighter - now. This reminds me: I need one too. My Coleman stove doesn't light itself. Some stoves do - but mine doesn't.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Real close to Dion's

I'm walking out of Dion's at Truman and White. That's not the name of the gas station. Dion's is the name of the fried chicken joint housed inside - where I'll probably be visiting later in a less sober state of mind. [ed note: that's for damn sure...] Dreamane is here, and we just put ten bucks in her tank. Or we might as well have, because that's what we spent on gasoline. Next we're stopping by the place where she was staying to get her shit outta there and into the place where she's staying next. Steve's.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eddie's w/ Dreamane

I'm sitting in Eddie's back yard with Eddie and Dreamane. It's been raining on and off, and Eddie has constructed a little tent out of cloth and a big stick tied to a couch with some rope. We're under that. I'm here to deliver Eddie's bike back to him. I checked it over at work earlier. I didn't do much to help it. I put some grease in the rear hub, and tightened the cones to get rid of the play. It's a reasonable old Trek mountain bike with the (very) high rise handlebars you see everywhere in Key West. The paint is beat to hell, but I like the frame 'cause it has super-fat chunky lugs and somehow I respect it for that. This decent old bike would really shine, figuratively, with a new bottom bracket, cassette, chain, and brakes. It would shine, literally, with a new powdercoated paint job. But for now, let's remain serious.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hanging out with Dave

I'm hanging out with Dave from the rental department of Eaton Bikes. We're riding to his friend's house so I can meet who he hangs out with. We're stopping for some Yuenglings at the gas station at White and Truman.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sharing silences

I'm back in my life-is-easy chair in the nearly official, but still unofficial, van parking spot pseudo catty corner to the White Street Pier. Dreamane brought salad, laughing cow cheese, and pita bread. She appeared in Key West unannounced and baffled my mind a few days ago when she came through the gate at Steve's while I was picking my nose on his porch, and spitting and staring at the trash in the little no man's land over the edge. Now she's fully reclined on the bed area of my van, and Steve is back there playing on her iPhone trying not to let his feet make contact with mine. Dinner was good, and we've moved to the intermittent silence phase.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Talking about respect

I'm standing over my bike outside of Bubba's with my feet on the ground and my forearms draped all over the grips. Steve is a big distorted mirror image facing me. I'm telling him that we will absolutely respect Eddie's wishes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Walking in a white shirt

I'm wearing a white shirt. I found this shirt on a trash can or some such situation. I can't remember exactly. I think it's an undershirt. It has short sleeves - shorter than typical, but not sleeveless or anything. That describes an undershirt, right? It's a tight fit, and it's made by Calvin Klein, so says the tag. My mood is difficult to explain. Vague, bland, aloof, spaced out, mediocre. None of that really captures it. I'm wearing this white shirt with the same intentions I always have in a white shirt. Gettin' dirty. I'm walking away from work. Bike mechanic people get pretty greasy in the hand and shirt area. I always fail at getting properly dirty. I end up a little dusty, but no big greasy stains to show I'm a working man. I'm just a man who can't figure out laundry. It's hot out, and I'm feeling a little greasy and salty on the skin. I'm walking in the roundabout direction of the shower at Steve's. I don't necessarily feel like hanging out tonight, but the shower is there and I'm planning to use it. Part of me wants the shower, and part of me just doesn't know where else to walk at this moment.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

At the marina, Steve found $300

Me and Steve just came from Eddie's boat. We planned to scrub bird shit off of it, but didn't get really far with that before dark. We parked the dinghy and we're standing on shore. Steve went to chuck out a couple empties in the dumpster, and came back with a look on his face.
Steve: "What do you think I have in my hand right now?" (awed, beaming)
Me: "weed. Dude - you found a fucking bag of weed there?"
// Then he showed me the money. $300 in hundreds. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Diamond Back on Duval

I'm cruising down Duval after visiting the Truman Annex to visit my former favorite parking spot by the cruise ships. I'm on the phone with Steve. I'm riding my new Diamond Back. This bike is a good machine. It's a replacement for my recently stolen (and very much loved) Diamond Back city bike. Maybe this one doesn't give me the same feeling of bicycle love. The old one was a kinda green metalic hi-ten(sile) steel frame with bulky too-fat tubing. I bought it for $20 when I was running my basement based bike business in Philly. I changed the cables and housing, took off the front derailer, put on some northroad handlebars from a Raleigh 3 speed, put on a big yellow milk crate on a super bulky old steel rack, and called that bike mine. I locked it outside and rode it everywhere. I had better bikes, but liked this one best. When Nat's bike got stolen in Montreal on our way north, I almost wanted to get my city bike shipped up there and give Nat my bike. I rode the city bike 120 miles from Kennett Square to Lewes, DE along bicycle route 1. Now it is gone: stolen.

I'm riding my new Diamond Back now. This is the new puppy. My old trusted labrador has passed on. This is a great bike, but maybe nothing can replace what I had. This is a Diamond Back too. It's an old mountain bike of approximately the same vintage. This one is taller: a 23 inch frame because maybe the other one was small. This one has a chromoly frame and fork because that is an upgrade to the hi-ten fatty tubes of the city bike. This bicycle started from an eBay purchased frame. The parts had to be bought: a mix of basic Tektro stuff, and J&B flotsam and Eaton Bikes jetsam. The city bike's parts were logistically easy. I rode it how it was and upgraded nothing. I built it for cheap utility. With this new Diamond Back I've already sunk money into parts for an old less-than-beautiful frame. I question myself on gear selection. I go between wanting less and wanting more. Free, garbage, swap meet parts, or Paul Components? I've met this bike, respected it, spaced the frame. We've met, but we're not partners. I'm planning to ride this machine for months across the country or thousands of miles somewhere. We'll be acquainted. I think we'll become friends. First we have to get to know each other. It needs to be housebroken.

I'm cruising down Duval, talking on the phone. My bike has pink grips and a pink "I [heart] my bike" bell. It has J&B brand "Origin 8" handlebars in a matte black finish bent slightly like northroad handlebars. It has no front derailer, but a triple crank. Shift with a foot or a finger. It has a white basket on front. It has a dent in the top tube. It's pretty big.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Showing off my xo laptop

I'm at Bubba's and everyone is checking out my new xo laptop. I like
this spot very much. I'm sitting outside, and it's warm and breezy.
Steve is here and we're drinking a pitcher. We're about to get
another pitcher for free just for lifting a new keg into place.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Stopping by at Eddie's

I'm at Eddie's. Eddie has a boat that he lived on, but he's not living on it now. He said I could and should stay on it for awhile. I'm here right now mentioning Steve Klopp to make sure it's ok if he stays out on the boat too.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ordering food with Steve

I'm sitting across from Steve at Two Friends on Front Street, and the
waitress is about to take our order of the Captain's Catch, conch
fritters, jalapeno poppers, and a house salad - all to split. Steve
is putting this and drinks on his credit card which he has no
intention of paying off.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fat Tuesday, looking at muted TV

I'm sitting on a bar stool at Fat Tuesday holding a frozen drink with
a tube of a shot suspended in it. This drink was bought on the
recommendation of Andrew who teaches sailing. I met up with him here.
As I sit here, my attention is fixed to the TV screen showing the
Spike TV show broadcasting something to the effect of World's Most F'd
Bullshittery. I shouldn't be hanging out in some bar - but I did want
to meet up with Andrew. Here I am.

Friday, February 1, 2008

New spices, wondering

I'm at the same spot. This is a nice daytime spot, but only available
between 7am and 10pm. I've eaten. I have an increased cooking
repertoire. CVS has a deal on 88 cent spices. I stocked up on a
cayenne pepper and a garlic powder. Add that to my chili powder and I
have a solution for anything men (mankind) ever cooked. So I've eaten
my noodles and well spiced sauce. When the watch beeps, my left
floppy hand is curled flaccid against my left temple on the left side
of my headbone. I'm remembering approximately three months ago when
Truck House was parked in the driveway at my parents's house. I'm
remembering how I still spent a strong majority of my nights sleeping
in the upstairs bedroom. Was that more appealing to me? What's more
appealing now? If I was in Kennett Square at this moment, after being
in Key West for two months (to the day), what would be more appealing?
Would it be my van? The van that I affectionately refer to as "my
house?" Or might I again get more comfortable sneaking weed and
watching Law and Order?