Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Smoking Popes are worth a damn

The Smoking Popes are one of my girlfriend's favorite bands for some reason. When I found out they were playing at the Northstar Bar in Philly - and I could get tickets - I knew I had something. I tossed my credit card numbers onto the internet, and the tickets were at will-call.

We arrived an hour before midnight, and I secured a spot for us in the front. The turnout was not huge, so staking out a spot proved unnecessary. We were up front, and we took the set list when they were finished with it. She thanked me several times, and I felt great for finally getting someone a present that was worth a damn.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Diner Breakfast, living life...

We had breakfast at the Creekside Diner in Kennett. Two weeks from now, I will rate this diner a 4-5 out of 10. I spent all of two days with Kristin, and it felt like time well spent.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calm and unresolved.

I don't know the future. Nothing was resolved, yet somehow I am calmed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading, eating wings, vacationing...

The book "Sweet Thursday" makes me romanticize drinking and being possession-less. I stay quiet and drift along. We got all-you-can-eat wings last night, and I tried to put the place out of business.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown(e).

We're in Williamsburg Virgina as a family. My folks got a nice timeshare rental with a switch-on fireplace. There are two bathrooms and two bedrooms. I happily take the couch.

Yorktown; Jamestown(e). At some point, they dropped the 'e.' Such things make me curious. Since when was "salad" ever spelled with a 't?' That's how it appeared on the menu in old(e) Williamsburg(e?). Maybe that was a put-on.

The day was full of gift shop(pe)s and low-budget educational films at various visitors centers.

Crochet. I'm whipping together items which include a can koozy and another top-tube pad for a bicycle. I have plenty of time for doing that and reading books.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Onward! A family vacation.

Let me make these updates brief, because the sweet parts are recorded in my notebook where sticky melted chocolate can adorn the margins. I woke up in a little bed with a person beside me, which I'm really quite fond of. I'm fond of everything involved.

It was the morning after Christmas in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It was a lovely morning on which I rose early to drink coffee and prepare for the road. My family - the original nuclear four - milled about briefly in preparation. We did this. We put stuff in the back of a minivan.

We got into the minivan, and set our course for Williamsburg, Virginia. A family vacation had just begun. We did stuff like stop for coffee. "How To Train Your Dragon" is a movie that we watched on the flip down DVD player. That's who we are, and that's how we do it. Refreshments were at hand in the back.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Practical gifts and a successful Christmas.

Christmas morning. I ate from the counter-top smorgasbord and scrambled together a last-minute gift presentation. We exchanged gifts, and it was nice and great. All of the gifts I received were practical, and everything fit inside a shoebox except for the Dremel and the shoes themselves. Stuff that fits my life or gets eaten. Ideal.

Oh, she sends me txt messages, and oh how I smile. It keeps getting better, and my Christmas gift was a painting. Not just any painting, but a painting of me, and oh how grand it is! I'm vain, and this version of me is pleasing indeed. And I'm riding a big tricycle. She got it just right.

I should have made the scarf 46 inches longer.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Loaded, Poised and Ready.

I worked. After today, the shop is closed until January. Christmas is tomorrow.

I had my van loaded, poised and ready. I set out for Kennett after work. Kristin visited me at my folks' and I gave her a long yellow scarf as we sat next to the remote-controlled fire with fake logs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How long to make your scarf.

We had black bean soup and we all talked. The soup needed salt. And more beans, or so she said. I was happy to be there, I felt like I should be there, and I talked a whole lot. I was happy and comfortable, so I went into yammer-mode right there at the kitchen table. I felt great.

I don't know enough about crochet to make anything shaped like a heart, but fringes are easy. I spent many hours crocheting a scarf for Kristin. I decided on a length: Long enough to show her I love her, and I'm not excessively lazy. That's exactly 46 inches, not including fringes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rearranged plans land me in Newark.

Cancelled dinner plans were really only an unexpected rearrangement. I'm flexible! I ended up at the last table. Some tables were pushed together at the Deer Park in Newark, and I didn't know anybody, including myself. They'll serve a guy a soda, but they'll pour it in a plastic cup. It's a circus with a straw, and I don't want any beer, but I'd love to throw one on the ground. The girl at the opposite corner is drinking a coffee, but I doubt she's thinking about the ceramic mug. So I don't talk much, but I'd like a goddamned pint glass, hide-me.

Rainbows and rainbows, but not too many rainbows! And I manage to talk enough to say when I feel strongly - maybe raise my voice a little and curse a little joke from my throat.

Time and complacency bred a calm indifference which gave way to a subtle near-enjoyment. It just takes some time. A change of venue to Homegrown didn't hurt either, for the love of crap. I smoked pot and soaked up some compliments as rain hit the windshield. Back to Philadelphia. I'm alive and satisfied, but I can't live up to the hype, and I'm not sure if I'm actually talking right now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pizza, Popes, general safety.

It's my mother's birthday, and I remembered to txt her and use copious exclamation points and "xo's"

Kristin arranged for a guy to bring pizza to the front door. We sat around eating pizza and being generally safe enough. I scored tickets for a Smoking Popes show on New Years, and that should get me some points since that's something like her favorite band.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A persistent mist remained.

My parents visited the city. I worked. We had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, Rembrandt's, and it was nice.

It rained all day, and a persistent mist remained when I was dropped off at my bicycle.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas shopping and public restrooms

Kristin helped me with Christmas shopping. I'm terrible at it. I have some issues with Christmas shopping which when examined I can recognize as being related to the obsessive compulsive tendencies that I would like to continue to dismantle and rid myself of. It's like pooping in a public restroom. Sometimes you just have to deal with it, and you'll be much happier when you do. I made progress, and I think next year will be easier.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Workin' on the Hoopty.

After work today, it was time. I got to work on the Hoopty. There were several tasks to attack, and as I rode away, I was more than pleased with the outcome.

1) I removed the vestigial shifter mounts from the brake levers. My cheap old Shimano Altus brake levers have nicer quality barrel adjusters than you see on any but the most expensive levers today. That's the main reason I like them. Also, they were free. They had a circular area next to the clamp which used to be where a trigger shifter was mounted. I had no interest in those stupid old shifters, so I detached and disposed of them, just leaving the good part. Today, I used a hacksaw to remove the extra material. Then I filed down the rough marks and colored it in black with a Sharpie to match the rest of the lever. Professional stuff, here.

2) I removed the Chris King headset and put the Tange one back in. It's a funny situation when a Tange headset that I got for $11 can outperform a Chris King. The Tange spins like a dream, and all the Chris King could do was complain that my hi-tensile Chinese headtube wasn't reamed and faced to a precise enough tolerance. Touché, Mr. King.

3) I removed my barend shifter setup - Suntour downtube shifters mounted to triathlon adapter pods - and installed some inexpensive Falcon friction thumb shifters. By inexpensive, I mean that they are literally the cheapest shifters you can buy. Any cheaper, and they're free. Retail cost is $12 per pair - including cables and housing. My cost: $5.47. These shifters work great, and nobody ever needs anything nicer. Get whatever you want, of course, but it blows my mind how a person can literally spend hundreds of dollars on fancy shifters trying to chase down something that works better. In this case, simpler and cheaper IS better. I concede that racers need - or at least feel entitled to - expensive equipment. They can keep it. Falcon shifters are a well kept secret. Cheap; weigh nothing; always work. And they're so simple, a crosseyed moose could change out a cable with one hoof.

4) Ran new cables and replaced beat-up housing.

Everything works great. Aside from being a heavy bastard to carry up a flight of steps, I still have the best bicycle ever. It gives me great joy to show respect to this humble machine.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chillin' with Dave.

I worked today, and stayed at the shop after we closed. I thought today would be a good day to straighten out some lingering bicycle issues. It didn't take. I wasn't in the mood to get started.

I went home and my buddy came over to sit around and not do much for awhile. I don't confide as much in the internet as I used to. I've been opting to spill my heart and brain into notebooks instead of computer screens. I can talk to Dave about that stuff too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Went to bars; didn't drink.

Went to bars; didn't drink. Nielle was a guest bartender at a place on Passyunk. Shelly took me and Stacy over there in a car. Hot pizza and soda for me, please! I'm a child and my mouth isn't burnt!

Mike is the first person you want to see. When you start scribbling together a list, he's usually right up there at the top. If you're using lined paper, there's a good chance his name is up in the margin. Mike was having a birthday thing at the bar Prohibition, so Shelly pointed her car at that place next.

I sat around and knocked knees with a good turnout of alcohol consumers. I drank water, played with straws and jawed around some with my amigos. Time goes, and so did we. I got back home a bit after midnight an opted for a pillow instead of the smoke I'd been thinking about.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sound the alarms.

I got some Wawa shirts at the Salvation Army in West Chester. Good finds. Appropriately, my mom got us some hoagies later. Wawa "classic" size hoagies are on sale. Sound the alarms. All of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yarn supplies

More yarn. Yeah, I got some more yarn. And a size 'G' crochet hook. I'm not learning new techniques very quickly, but I have a growing stockpile of cheap yearn. It's easier to buy yarn than to use it for anything.

Koozies. I can make some of those. I can make more bicycle tubing decorations. I can make a scarf. That's about all until I buckle down and get fancier and faster.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Hunting

I leave for Kennett around 4pm. I listen to This American Life followed by the Sleigh Bells album I've been loving. My life is good right now. I have a bounce in my step, and I don't feel the nagging notion that I'm alone or stagnant or killing myself slowly. 

I find myself wanting to plan another bicycle trip. I'd like to get out again for awhile. My mind drifts to Nemaska and how I never got all the way there.

I have the perfect bicycle. It's a blessing and a curse. It's great to reach the pinnacle, but it doesn't leave me with any satisfying voids to fill. Having an imperfect bicycle allows for constant tweaking, perpetual upgrades and an unending outward flow of cash. I miss that. Some people make it their life's work to chase the perfect setup, but I just rolled over and woke up next to it. 

I might not need anything. I logically can't make myself believe that there is a single bicycle component that will make me happier or make my bicycle run better. None of this makes me stop looking. I look at bicycle parts and daydream for hours. I don't need any of it, but I need to look at all of it. Technically, I'd like a new rear wheel. The one I'm using is a cheap loaner from the shop. The search begins. I check eBay for whole wheels, hubs, rims - all imaginable varieties and combinations. Then I start looking at everything from stems to bottom brackets. Don't need any of it. Then I re-check to make sure the price of a full custom titanium frame hasn't dropped below the fifty bucks or so I could afford right now. Nope: still in the thousands. I'll resume the hunt another time. In a way, it actually never ends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The model for an easy life:

I nap a lot of the day. I crochet some, and Kristin returns to my Philly apartment after working. I make tacos and espresso.

In the morning we take the trike out to get coffee. Then she stands on the back again as I take us to the Second Mile thrift shop to scope out t-shirts and knick-knacks.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


None of this bothers me much.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mac n' Cheese goes up.

Saturday night found me inside my home. Me time. I was happy to get mac n' cheese at the bodega. Shells and cheese - not the stuff with powdercheese. What do I look like here? I got the last box of the $2.89 stuff with the Spanish translations. It looks like they're switching to some $3.79 business. Tough times.

Bacteria, viruses - you name it. The sky is falling, and little pieces of it are coming through my telephone speaker and my computer display. I remain astonishingly stoic as I look to the palms of my hands for advice.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cafe Bustelo at home.

As my watch beeps, I'm pulling a brick of Cafe Bustelo out of my backpack. I'm sitting in my Philadelphia bedroom's golden easy chair, and I'm happy to be home. These are easy times.

I have an open brick of Cafe Bustelo spilling into a large ziplock bag. The yellow brick of espresso is inexpensive and Cuban as fuck. I have a one-shot espresso bubbler, and I am the king. I can make little espressos on my camp stove wherever I go. Boom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Riding nine bicycles to a Flyers game.

The bicycle shop employees and investors were all invited to a Flyers game. Free tickets were passed out to those who chose to attend. A group of us met at the bicycle shop and ate hot dogs and grilled squash. People who weren't me had a bit to drink too. Nine of us crowded to the sidewalk on our bicycles and set off in the form of a big crew.

The bicycles had personality. Nine unique bicycles were adapted to the needs of their riders. All of the bicycles were smart and capable. There was nothing stupid or fancy. It was fun to look at, and it was fun to ride along. Riding in a tight group of people who know how to navigate traffic was almost as fun as the Flyers game itself.

It was a great night.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

7:21pm? Ruby Tuesday.

My family all went to Ruby Tuesday. That's a typical place where we might end up. That or Perkins. Coupons are involved and the food is alright.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Money, dentists, trikes, vans.

I could kinda use some more money. Surely. I should be selling stuff, since I have stuff to sell. Instead, I don't. I don't work much, and I don't have a lot of money. Just enough. Rent is cheap and expenses are low, so I'm just kinda riding it out until some money grows on trees.

I'll tell you. That dentist work a few days ago didn't include any root canals, but it hurt like a bastard. They cut down my remaining tooth-parts to nubs and glued on a rectangle that's shaped like two teeth, but is actually one piece. It feels pretty stupid, and it's not quite as straight as I'd like it to be. I'm told this will be fixed on the final run.

I sold a bicycle. That's a start. Boom. I put those sleeves on my trike. I trike'd Kristin and myself out to get coffee. Then I drove to Kennett in my van. Boom.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crochet'd Tricycle Handlebar Sleeves

I enjoyed another night of hanging out in my beautiful Philadelphia lair. I crocheted all the way to the end of the second sleeve for my tricycle's handlebars. Looks boss:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Birthdays, grape leaves, and a beating heart.

Mike is my age now. The big two-niner. I went to a low-key birthday gathering at Barcade. It would have been socially easier if I was drinking booze and/or I enjoyed old school arcade games. But as usual, I was able to ease myself into having a good time.

After 7:21pm, Kristin and I exited toward the west. Fu-Wah deli doesn't have the small can of stuffed grape leaves. Tofu hoagies were fortunately unaffected.

We're in love. I said so; she said so. I typed it already, but now the words came out of my mouth. This is progress.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sitting and making stripes.

My friend and I sat in my room. There's not a lot to do in my room, but I like it here. I'd be up for going out, but without bars or similar tomfoolery, I can't concoct much of a plan. Instead, I sat on my bed and crocheted row after row to make a skinny rectangle. The rectangle has many colorful sections separated by lines of yarn the color of dark coffee. I am making two of these, and they will be sewn together to make sleeves for the tall hi-rise handlebars on my tricycle.

I have the book "Crochet For Dummies." It taught me how to switch yarn colors to make stripes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Standing about after work.

It was one of those days when there seemed to be enough to talk about. After I locked up the bicycle shop, I stood around talking to my buddy about various subjects. We almost stopped the conversation a few times, but it picked back up. I feel great. Physically and mentally I feel whole. I wish I thought it would last forever, but it doesn't bother me that I know it won't. I'm enjoying the present tense.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dec. 1 '11

Got some colorful yarns at Wal-Mart. Rented a DVD. Sat around in Kennett.