Monday, February 23, 2009

My commute from hell

I cycled to work today. It was all of 3 miles - probably less. That much, and only that, was on my side. Arrayed against me were my naivety regarding the weather, poorly set-up front brakes, and a sorry lack of fitness of any sort whatsoever, of which I was only dimly aware of the latter.

So the weather was 33 degrees when I set out this morning, but the wind - nay, gale - that I found myself cycling into must have come straight from the Canadian hinterland. Within 30 seconds of pulling out onto the main road, I lost the feeling in my windward parts. By the time I was at work, despite the 'windproof' gloves I was wearing, I had chillblains in the tips of my thumbs and fingers, and in the darker moments of utter exhaustion and pain (I'm really unfit, okay) I honestly wondered whether it was possible to get frostbite while cycling...

My front brake cable was set too tight. Although I did check over all my equipment yesterday (and even pumped up my tyres this morning) I hadn't done a thorough job with the brakes. All I did was balance out the tension of the springs - whereas I really needed to slacken off the cable. I found this out by cycling to and from work with the front brake 'on' the whole way there and the whole way back. Into a headwind, with the brakes on, and no fitness whatsoever... not the best way to get back into cycling.

My fitness was so bad, and the conditions so inclement, that my legs started to burn while I was going downhill. By the time I got to the junction of Benfield, Veterans and the bridge over the I-97, I had nothing left - they were agonising apendages with all the resistance and tone of gruel. I was utterly spent, demoralized by the cold, frustrated by my ineptitude with my brakes. Thankfully, when I made it to work, the wind (now behind me) took me the length of the parking lot (faster than I was cycling the other way) which allowed me enough time to recover the ability to stand upright.

I think I'll do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things I've learnt this weekend

New Hampshire is really, really far away from Maryland.

A nine hour drive according to the sat-nav is more like eleven when you take into account breaks for food, coffee and gas.

An eleven hour drive quickly lengthens when your infant son develops a tummy-bug on the day of the journey.

Vomit runs off Ikea painting bibs like water off a duck's back. This is good in a rest stop (it just falls to the floor); this is not good in the car (it pools in the car seat).

Dunkin Donuts make pretty good donuts but terrible coffee.

Terrible coffee is still coffee on a twelve hour drive in a car with a puking infant.

A tummy bug is over, not when the vomit stops coming out, but when the nappies return to normal.

When your son vomits over your shoes, it is a good thing to have washable shoes, like Crocs. Except when your Crocs are the ones with holes in them, because then the vomit pools in your shoes.

The place you absolutely do not want your son to vomit on is the pile of clothes you have just washed yesterday's vomit off.

When he smiles and calls you 'gagga' none of the above matters one jot.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Adjusting to the lashings of 'Mac-goodness' that abound on the study desk in the form of a new unibody MacBook Pro. The Wife agreed (for work purposes) that we could buy a new laptop, and so I've been adjusting to the new machine for the last week.

Most adjusting has been positive: it's quicker than any machine I've ever used; runs much cooler than the previous laptop (which is reasonably important when you consider Apple laptops are essentially blobs of aluminium with a portable computer secreted wonderfully inside of them; the old G4 Powerbook ran really hot); the screen is crisp, brighter and turns on instantly; the keyboard and trackpad have a much better feel than I anticipated.

Some adjusting has been a pain: the wi-fi 'just does not work', perhaps due to issues with our Verizon router (Actiontec MI424WR) and only a day of frustrating fiddling around with the settings (by using WPA instead of default WEP, and by increasing the TKIP group key interval, we've maintained a steady connection for now).

Other adjusting has been fun and unexpected: the keyboard has square black keys on an aluminium background, so creates an optical illusion of black dots at the corners of the keys.

And a small amount of adjusting has been harder than expected: apparently putting new Macs into old laptop bags work about as well as putting new wine in old wineskins. So the Wife and I embarked on an unexpected review of our household's fiscal policies with regards to the differing husbandly/uxorial stances on what exactly constitutes a 'necessity'. And while there were no harsh exchanges during that review and it ultimately came to a good conclusion (both parties satisfied with the new policy, and still favourably inclined to working together in the future), it was a reminder that we do have to work at our relationship, even on a Saturday afternoon when we were both trying to relax and have some downtime.