noideadog: (bike)
The non-baby-related excitement in my life is that I bought a new bike. It's a Novara Transfer, a "european-style" bike, the dude in the shop said, which I think means that it's the kind of bike you enjoy if you like trundling around the city on a nice sunny day and not if you like to weave in and out of traffic at forty miles an hour while wearing lycra. Since I'm firmly in the first camp, I think I'm going to love it. It's the kind of bike that should have a basket, and ideally the basket will have a baguette sticking out of it, but a bag of bagels and a travel mug of coffee probably works too.

It arrives next weekend. I can't wait.

Here's a review: http://open.salon.com/blog/familyonbikes/2011/05/08/rei_novara_transfer_a_review
noideadog: (bike)
Five observations from my commute today:

1) The city is in a great mood. I cut some dude off at the lights (completely by accident) and instead of being angry, he waved all "go ahead!" and friendly. I was singing popular hits from the musical Grease (I don't know; you can't help what gets stuck in your brain) and I passed another dude belting out Amy Winehouse and it was just like that for the whole way. Everyone's being all four-day-week-ish and cheerful.

2) Manhattan mini storage posters are getting even cheekier. Seriously, I hope to never have anything to store, but if I do, their posters have done their job. Today's was "You'll have more wiggle room than Herman Cain's morals". I nearly crashed my bike. More posters here: https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/107911091913902920172/albums/5686035676133975729

3) There are signs up warning of gridlock, but traffic is pretty light. Maybe that changes in the afternoon. Even when there are fewer cars, the big vehicles are still scary. I wish people didn't park in the bike lane (obviously), but I hate it most on Bowery because there are so many delivery trucks and other lumbering giants. You sure do feel invisible and squishy. In related news, I finally remembered to enroll at http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/donation/organ/

4) Travel mugs are better than disposable mugs for not splashing coffee all over the things in your stupid bike basket. Mmm, stale milk smell. (I love my stupid bike basket, not least because it means I don't have to choose between coffee and cycling first thing in the morning).

5) Cycling in winter is much nicer than cycling in summer (assuming no ice or precipitation), but the bike room is almost empty. What's going on with that?
noideadog: (meerkat)
This weekend I: drank margaritas in the beautiful beautiful air conditioning, cycled around Manhattan for my longest ever bike ride (47.5miles/76.4km), saw the final Harry Potter movie (surprisingly good), finished listening to the Rebecca audiobook (fantastic!), finally created a US Paypal account so my address can stop being "Brooklyn, NY, USA, Ireland", failed terribly at a NY Times Thursday crossword, watched most of season 1 of Arrested Development, and played a lot of games of Carcassonne. There's an Android app at last!
noideadog: (natural dancer)
My current project is stretching our kitchen's limited storage options by turning a coat closet into a pantry. Since this was the closet where we also kept all of the tools (neatly organised by the order in which they landed when we threw them on the floor), there were a lot of cascading dependencies: not many kitchen projects start with "read about washing machine efficiency". Slowly over the last few months we've replaced our enormous washer and drier with a single machine that does both, we've hung shelves and a pegboard in the newly available space, we've moved tools, camping gear, gardening junk and coats into various new homes, we've stripped out the coat-closet accoutrements, and we've spent far too much money in the Container Store. All that's left is a coat of paint and assembling some shelves (and repairing the crowbar hole, heh), and we'll have somewhere to keep our sugar and tea towels.

The project has started and stopped a lot of times, as I found and lost interest in hitting things with hammers at the weekend. It feels good to have an end in sight; the light at the end of the tunnel is renewing my enthusiasm. While at home, I tell myself that I'll maybe leave the office a bit early and get the work finished. The problem is that while I'm at work, I tell myself that maybe I'll stay late and work on an interesting project here that I don't have enough time for. I guess it's a good problem to have, having multiple interesting things competing for my attention, but I would enjoy it more if there were more hours in the day.

In between home projects and work projects, I'm doing the best thing ever and that is riding my bike in the sun. I was kind of half-hearted about bike commuting when I tried it last Autumn, but something has unlocked in my brain this time, and I love every minute of it. Part of the magic is that I realised the morning doesn't have to be a choice between coffee and cycling: travel mugs are the technology of the future, and my bike has a ridiculous basket that easily transports a latte. Another part is discovering podcasts and audiobooks. My favourite thing on the planet right now is to bike along at a lazy pace, listening to Science Friday or TED talks (one ear only; it's a sensible law!) and letting the sun get on me. My brain loves the sun. It's my favourite drug.
noideadog: (Default)
Life, in several sentences:

Our cat got lost during the week but I haven't had time to write about it. Short version: we found her again, but, despite concentrated efforts to reassure each other that cats get stuck in places sometimes and it's not a big deal, you just have to go get them, we were pretty anxious about cars/dogs/poison/voodoo/whatever. It meant we got to talk to our intimidatingly laconic Italian neighbour though, and he was helpful, if gruff.

The taxi commission lost property site didn't find my phone. Actually, they didn't even look; they automatically close your ticket without telling you unless you know the medallion number of the cab. Useful service. Their site lists a phone number for the police precinct that deals with taxi lost property, so I guess I go there next. In the meantime, The Company's phone people issued me a new sim in under a minute and I've got a borrowed G1. Tiarnan warned me that I'd have about two hours of being happy about knowing what time it was again, and then the old technology would start to be unbearable. He was wrong. It was more like an hour and a half.

I went for a run this morning and it was pretty cold and my legs just weren't into it. I need to either get better at warming up or get used to the idea of being in a gym all winter. Sometimes running is like "FUCK YEAH LIFE IS GOOD!" and sometimes it's like "I could be eating chips right now. Why would anyone do this ridiculous torturous thing?". Today was the latter, but worse.

Cycling home last night was pretty nice though. Manhattan's much easier on the way home because there's a bike lane and no construction. Brooklyn seems to have bike lanes and excellently marked paths in only one direction though, so coming home was a symphony of "What do I doooooooo?"s and "Am I supposed to be... oh shiiiiit!"s. Manhattan's the scary part though, so I'll swap being lost and confused in Brooklyn for a clear run across the city any time.

We're going to DC this evening for the Rally To Restore Sanity. We've watched a lot of West Wing recently (thanks for votes on my poll a while back by the way!) and so I have Expectations of what DC will be like. They're unlikely to be correct. The cat's locked in the house while we're away (this is a direct consequence of the aforementioned lost-ness) and she's already crabby about it.

Work has been unusually busy, and for the last three weeks everything I touched turned into three other things that were pretty broken and pretty urgent, but it's calming down now and I've left a good trail of fixed stuff behind me. Or a trail of hairless yaks, if you subscribe to the industry terminology.

I'm about half way into Gödel, Escher, Bach, the Ulysses of computer science (there's an argument that that's Knuth, but I know several people who have read all of Ulysses. Go on, fess up if you've read TAOCP.). It's astonishingly good, much more witty and linguistically delightful than I'd expected and of course as clever as a clever thing on a particularly clever day. It's brilliant fun actually. I find myself exclaiming and laughing out loud on the subway. Highly recommended if you like thinking about things.

It's 12:38 and I should go to school.
noideadog: (bike)
I rode my bike to work today. Bike! I was a bit nervous, but it was pretty good. The Brooklyn parts were actively lovely, as was the mile along the Hudson at the end, and the Brooklyn Bridge wasn't too busy so it was good too. The middle part, crossing Manhattan along Reade Street, was insane (and very stinky), but it was more "what do I do here?" insane, not the "I wonder if I'll die now" situations that I'd expected. Coming off the Brooklyn Bridge was the worst, but I think that's just because I didn't know what to do. It seems like it'd be fine if you were confident about what lane you should be in, where all the lights were, and where you were likely to be going once traffic started moving. It'll be better next time. I reminded myself "You are a car. You are not a pedestrian" six hundred times, and that helped me stay visible and suitably aggressive too.

It's slightly faster than the subway, though you do lose valuable reading time. You're less likely to catch a cold from a germ-riddled commuter. More likely to have some Mensan suddenly reverse into the bike lane in front of you. More likely to inhale enough car fumes to give you a headache. Less likely (probably, and this is the point of the bike) to spend Winter drowning in seasonal affective disorder. We shall see.

Overall it was a fairly good experience and I will do it again.

Mine is the only bike in the bike shed that has a basket. That means I'm cool, right?
noideadog: (bike)
Yesterday was shite. After spending most of the day being tired and stupid and writing code that wouldn't compile, I decided to salvage the day by staying late and doing one tiny thing that couldn't possibly fail. Around 10pm, after three hours of yelling at the compiler ("Sure it's defined! Look, it's right there, asshole!" *points*), I gave up on that too, and went home, feeling disproportionately sad about the whole thing. Code can do that. It's hard to explain.

Stomp, stomp, stomp home in rain and a vile mood, to discover that my bike had been stolen from the stupid place I knew I shouldn't have locked it. God. That was a really great bike. I've somehow never had one stolen before, and I didn't realise how rubbish it would feel: it's not really the cost (though it also absolutely is), but my bike and I have had some good adventures, and I liked it a lot. It was my bike, you know? Ugh. I should have not locked it to a railing in Brooklyn. I should have had a better lock. I should have I should have I should have, and I knew I should have, and I didn't because I'm usually lucky about things. Bastard reality. If I'm losing my one superpower[1], I'm going to have to go get actual life skills.

Also, it's goddamn dark, and cloudy, and pissing down outside. Joel used his excellent meteorological skills to observe: "It's not as sunny here as in Puerto Rico". This is demonstrably true.

[1] My superpower is that I have better than average luck. It's a good power, but it tends to make you complacent.
noideadog: (bike)
NYC first: I had a manicure. No, really.

I feel bad for the pristine and beautiful manicurist, sitting at her pristine and beautiful manicure station, near the end of the day, thinking pristine and beautiful manicurist thoughts, and suddenly she has to deal with grubby-hobo-me, smelling a little of beer and a little of three hours on a bicycle, strapping my bike helmet onto my rucksack, tracking mud over the floor and announcing that "I've never had a manicure. How does it work?". (I tipped well though, if that makes it ok.) It was an ok experience, but not especially interesting. I thought it'd be more fun than it was.

On a similar note, I biked across the Brooklyn Bridge today, and it was a bit of a let-down. Getting on to the bridge is tricky enough (it took three laps of the surrounding area, two sets of directions and hauling the bike up a flight of stairs), and once you're there it's just a bit steeper than you expect, and it has way too many people. There wasn't a lot of visibility today either, so it was mostly an exercise in cycling uphill, shouting "this is a bike path!" every ten seconds, and slowing down for groups of tourists looking through cameras at the city. (Of course it's not long at all since I was one of them, but still, get out of the way, tourists!) Coming back was much more pleasant, across the quiet and relatively flat Manhattan Bridge.

Life has been so lazy recently, so I evicted myself from the apartment this morning, with strict instructions not to come back until it was 6pm or I'd done three new things.

So I cycled on the bridges, and also saw two of the Waterfalls, a pretty cool art installation which is four 90-120 foot waterfalls set up around the east river. And I overheard a conversation that went like this:

"What are the waterfalls for?"
"Art"
"Oh."

And then I went for a knish and a Katz's Ale for late lunch, mostly to reward myself for remembering how to get to Katz's, and I sat at the table with the "This is where Harry met Sally" sign. A bit silly, but there you go.

And then I bought arugula at the union square farmers market, from a man who was shouting "Why get rained on when you can get rained on with salad!". I didn't need any arugula, but it was a good slogan, and that sort of thing should be rewarded.

And then I was a block away from home, and I passed a manicure shop, and I thought it'd be a thing to do.

And now it's 8pm, and I don't know what happens next, but I hope it's something fun.

Bike route.
noideadog: (bike)
This is one of the more strangely compelling sites I've seen in a while: it's a google maps application that lets you watch where wikipedia updates are coming from, displaying the changes in real time. It shouldn't be interesting, and yet I keep going back to watch a bit longer.http://www.lkozma.net/wpv/

This evening Joel and I went on a little jaunt to both sides of this island. We hit every single traffic light on the eastward trip, which was frustrating, but coming back with the sun setting all golden and melty over the Hudson was blissful and made it worthwhile. And then I blew some saxophone and now I'm going to finish varnishing a shelf, and after that I'm going to get noodles in the noodle place and then I'm going to have a beer and watch Spaced.
noideadog: (bike)
Today I learned that there is no bad mood that can't be cured by cycling through Central Park. I tested the hypothesis with a truly vile one too; it's been a mentally horrible weekend, with deluges of angst and despair and convincing myself that I'm in the wrong apartment, the wrong job, the wrong career, the wrong city, the wrong relationship, the wrong frame of mind, the wrong trousers for this heat. And of course the heat is all that's going on: heat leads to dehydration; dehydration leads to unhappiness; unhappiness leads to doubting everything that is normally self-evidently excellent. Life's actually very good. It's just a bit warm.

And I know that it isn't. High-eighty-something is only high-twenty-something, amplified by the 50% humidity, but it's more than this weak northern constitution can stand, and I'm dealing with it badly. "You should design a strategy to survive the summer", Joel said, the self-preservation centres of his brain registering that three months of Tanya in a horrible mood wasn't ideal. "Ok, we're moving", I declared. But no, he makes the annoyingly valid point that since he stayed in Dublin even when it was November, I can't give up this easily. And then he near fell off the bed with laughing at how I thought this was unpleasant weather, not when the whole muggy summer hasn't even started yet. So that's nice.

Going outside is an exercise in finding glands you didn't know you had. Ten seconds after stepping outside, my nose is slick with sweat, the soles of my feet are slippery, the backs of my knees make tiny squelching noises. And all the usual sweating parts defeat any amount of antiperspirant and become swamps. I'm on my third set of clothes for today.

Anyway, I took my bad mood and my ridiculously pale skin out on the bike this evening, planning to stay out for fifteen minutes to clear my head, and ending up ninety two blocks away; coming home through central park, finding parts of the park I didn't know about and being happy because a really tiny kid was rollerblading unsteadily and judging people on their dog choices and watching everyone live their Sunday evenings. And of course the sun shone and the birds sang and the wind blew and the trees rustled and my bad mood lifted and I realised that everything is very good indeed. It is really. It's just a bit warm.
noideadog: (bike)
We bought bicycles. I took several out for test rides, slowly realising that the main feature I was looking for was "be identical to my old bike". I really wish I'd just taken it here with me. However, the new one, a black and green Specialized Rockhopper is perfectly lovely, and the internet masses seem to say that it's better than my old Specialized Hardrock. I don't know whether that's true.

Joel got a bigger, bluer version of the same bike. We rode around the city a bit, and came home by the river as the sun was setting. It'll take some time before I can trust my instincts about which side of the road I should be on, but other than that I was very happy indeed.
noideadog: (bike)
Wind in hair, no helmet, no coat, no rain. Such joy. I missed my bike. It's been two whole months. I love my bike.

It's also a two months since I spoke to the dude in the latte shop. We swapped two months' worth of news. I nearly asked "You were having doubts about your girlfriend moving over here.. How did that work out?" when I realised he was holding hands behind the counter with a new barista-lady. I pick up on details, sure I do, sometimes even in time to avoid wearing my latte. Hurray!
noideadog: (bike)
Oy. Tonight I learned that, when it comes to the traffic lights on the dual carriageway, "stop if you can do so safely" means "stop unless you are being chased by a really big monster.". The lights turned yellow as I passed through them. I could have screeched to a bumpy halt, but instead I cycled very quickly and had the loud and swearing crap scared out of me when the lights changed before I was half way across. Wow, it's a long way across the dual carriageway. Wow, there's a surprising amount of traffic at 2am. Wow, I won't do that again no sirree.

When your heart is racing from exercise, that's good for you, right? When your heart is racing from scary, is that good? I've always wondered.
noideadog: (bike)

Me
Originally uploaded by xymb.
Rain. Wind. Hail. Potholes. Windier wind. Hailier hail. The gravitational pull of passing lorries. Did I mention the rain? And the hail? Hailstones so big they set off all the car alarms along the Navan road. You're glad of the bike helmet. Those things sting.

Losing contact with your feet and not minding because, when you can feel them, they hurt a lot. Shouts of cold coming out of your face without your brain's intervention. Swerving to avoid a congealed dead fox. Roundabout theory. Roundabout practice: you don't get better. Screaming "don't kill the cyclist please don't kill the cyclist" as you pass the turn-off for the motorway. Laughing like a maniac. Yelling out the road signs you can see. "100kmph.. you'd better slow down, Paul!" "Welcome to Meath!" "Woohooo!"

Big fat carvery lunch in Dunshaughlin. Thawing out your feet under the hand drier in the toilets. Buying dry gloves in the Vincent de Paul shop. Back onto the bike again.

Paul Gliceas and I chose today to cycle to Dunshaughlin (25 mile round trip) and we were pleased when Met Eireann predicted nothing worse than scattered showers. Scattered hail storms, maybe. Scattered liberally along the N3.

And somehow it was the best fun ever.
noideadog: (brain)
Glen's reading a magazine that says that a daily cyclist has a fitness level of someone ten years younger than them. The scientific term for this kind of science is "bullshit".

It also says (he says) that the fear of chickens is called alektorophobia. I didn't believe this was a real thing, but the Great AI confirms it. That said, I'm scared of rats although I know they won't hurt me, so you can't judge, can you? The Great AI is an expression from Nina or Drew or maybe DaveW. I like it a lot.

Men's Fitness is not a gay magazine, even though the pictures [in this edition] are all of hot, mostly naked men. Glen is reading it for the articles. This is clear? Good. (I'm not)

Did you know that in France they don't say "déjà vu"? They do say "flashback" though. As ob points out, this is not completely true, but it's true enough to be funny.

Ok, I'm going to bed now.
noideadog: (weirdofreak)
Two conversations from the hostel kitchen:

An Italian dude frying sausages in beer. "An experiment", he said. "Sausages are German. Beer is German.". And then he shrugged like "the rest is too obvious to explain.". "Good science", I agreed.

One of the guys working in the hostel had ancestors in Ireland. They weren't Irish, but they lived there and were big in politics. Had I heard of his father's father's father's brother, Eamonn de Valera? I.. uhh.. thought I could bring him to mind, yeah.

I had sangria and potato omelette for lunch. I rode a rattly old bike over bockety cobblestones[1]. I bought a ridiculous hat, so that the sun would lose at killing me. I had tapas with Kaarin, an Alaskan doing an architecture postgrad in Rome. Mostly I sat around. This is a great city for just sitting around.

[1] Boneshaker is a lovely word. So's haberdasher incidentally, though this isn't related to anything.
noideadog: (bike)
I've lost my key. Not the one for the apartment, thankfully, or the one for my ridiculous looking bike, but the outside one, the one to get entrance into the apartment complex. Of the three of them, it's the least annoying to lose, but it's still pretty annoying. A week of long waits and tailgating is ahead of me. Either that, or I get back here before 6 some evening and petition the admin office to replace mine. I suspect I left it in the door while manouevering my ridiculous bike up the steps. Maybe someone will have handed it in.

The bike. Is. Ridiculous. Did I mention? It's a loaner from The Company, and apparently it's what's called a Beach Cruiser, presumably because it was never meant to go on the road. It has a big fat saddle I keep sliding off, no gears, no handbrakes and handlebars that curve out so far you feel like you're riding a Harley. A light blue girl's-bike Harley, with flowers painted on it. This is my plan to get me to my 8am meeting. You pedal backwards to stop, you know. Combine this and cycling on the right[1] and I'm guaranteed to die tomorrow. So it goes. (I'll try to get a photograph before I die)


[1]..which for me is cycling on the wrong. Haha! ([livejournal.com profile] ob_v says english is the best language for making jokes in, and I agree. But then I only really speak English, apart from a bit of German. But I don't know any jokes in German. Hey, [livejournal.com profile] krabbe, tell us a joke in German would you?
noideadog: (bike)
Anyone know where in Dublin you can hire a bike for the day? I've got Friday off, and I'd like to show [livejournal.com profile] the_antichris the vertical landscape that is Dalkey :-)

PS: Sun, be sunnier!
noideadog: (bike)
Curse my weak Irish skin. Curse this country's climate for giving me no resistance to the sun. Curse my feeble intellect for not being able to remember about the first two things I'm already cursing before heading out for a day's cycling. With all we know about skin cancer, anybody who gets sunburned is a complete idiot. There are no exceptions. Ow.

Yesterday was lovely though. My bike got its first excursion as Gliceas and I wandered along the coast road and found out that Dalkey is entirely vertical. I did much better than I expected, but definitely not enough to get to the top without wheezing. We enthused at the crenellated embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, waved at rich people in convertibles, gaped at the beauty of the bay, locked the bikes and climbed up Killiney hill, conquered rocks, pretended we were on holidays. In Dun Laoghaire, we were hugged by a guy in a bear costume. I ate pancakes and icecream. Wonderful day out.

Great social weekend all told. Canal-sitting with Simon on Friday, exchanging stories, throwing dice and wishing someone would come by with warm coffee. Cycling with gliceas on Saturday, and then dinner with [livejournal.com profile] rbpixies, and a beer with [livejournal.com profile] rockpaperaxe, though I was uncomfortable and discontented and not interested in beer and not sure why. Later, I lay on my bed being a zombie and not feeling happy, and Glen cleverly diagnosed dehydration and poured a couple of pints of water down my throat and I was instantly and magically better. Complete idiot. No exceptions.

Today was barbeque-stuff-shopping and social commentary with [livejournal.com profile] gothwalk, and now Victoria and I are heading out knacker drinking. I have an odd hankering to sit at the river and drink wine, which she's kindly indulging. It's been a fine weekend. I hope it's as good for everyone else.
noideadog: (bike)
My bike has its first ever puncture :-( Such was my faith in its Wolverinity that I don't own a puncture repair kit or a pump. Know where I can get one on a Sunday? Failing that, anyone living near me want to lend me one please?

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