Archive for the ‘ordinary’ Category
A couple of firsts today: the first real, rainy test of my fenders reveals that they do indeed keep the water off of you, as advertised. They do not, however, appear to magically ward off flats, resulting in my first flat as a Bicycle Commuter. The aforementioned tire event occurred in the middle of the fucking woods, but at least now I live in a place with public transportation, unlike that time in Indiana with the big rusty nail.
Things worked out okay in the end. I made home in no time, thanks to the apathy of the West Hyattsville Metro station employees who, mercifully, didn’t say anything as I slunk through the turnstiles a full hour into the evening rush hour bike-free block. City Bikes, where I went to get a tube and fix my flat (having forgotten my pump at home), was playing an all-The Mountain Goats playlist, and to my immense delight I discovered that there is a Safeway right across the street.
There I purchased the makings of mac ‘n cheese, which I am now eating (yes,right now) accompanied by delicious, delicious Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, which cost fully four dollars less than I anticipated at D’vines. So, all in all, not a bad end to the day.
I think that now, dear reader, you may have some idea of how thoroughly domestic my life has become. I apologize for once again dropping off the face of the blogo-earth, but I suspect that there is a limit to how many times one can be entertained by descriptions of someone else’s bikes, food, and beer du jour. Alas for you, these (along with Important People In My Life and some Big Things that I’m not quite ready to blather on about in so public a forum) are the things that occupy me lately, so that’s what you’re going to get, at least until I man up and talk about science or grad school or stuff.
Oh, one more thing: GHOSTFACE BUDDHA IS ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY READING.
Yesterday I bought a PlanetBike rear blinky-light. I bought it on a whim—a sort of “huh the sun sure is setting early” whim—and didn’t really do any research beforehand, so I don’t have much of a basis for comparing this particular blinky with other assuredly excellent blinkies.
But. This thing is really friggin bright, and I completely love it. More on the blinky, and Bikestation DC…
Two notable things happened today. The first is that I finally ordered an electric kettle on Amazon, so that very soon I will be able to make truly ridiculous quantities of coffee with my lovely 8-cup french press and burr grinder combo. Since my current water heating solution is a tiny, ancient microwave that boils a cup of water in a blazing six minutes, the gigantic french press has been sadly underutilized.
The second is that I stole the Ark’s truing stand and am now in the process of truing my wheels, which I laced last weekend. They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen (except you, Ruth). This is very, very exciting, and hopefully the big fixie project will get wrapped up soon. Hopefully. I’ve got a nice series of photos of the whole process that I’ll put up sometime soon when I can justify procrastinating some more.
I stumbled across this gleaming jewel of the interwebs, Very Small Array, after a post-olympics-coverage aimless browsing binge, and it kept me up far past my bedtime. There is a mix of romantic whimsy and high-on-the-autism-spectrum (read: nerdy) obsession with data that reminds me of XKCD, but with a little bit of a New York hipster twist. Follow along as Dorothy, our intrepid author, traverses the world by boat and train, plumbs the statistical depths of America’s top 10 orchestras, charts the demographic details of her social life, puts a face on every single Schedule C Tax Code, finds out what google thinks about things, and generally makes scads and scads of wonderful infographics. Looks like she draws a webcomic, too, and will draw you an explanation of how she spends any money you send her.
I am particularly charmed by her data sets, which, as far as I can tell, are not just sucked directly from the tubes but are lovingly handcrafted. Take, for instance, a recent series of maps based on the Missed Connections postings from Craigslist, postings where people rhapsodize about all the people at the gym or on the bus that they did not have the gumption to exchange numbers or strike up a conversation with. A natural question to ask is Where do people tend to Miss Connections? Dorothy answers this by sorting locations where Connections were Missed into categories—like “The Road”, “The Great Outdoors”, and “Bar/Club”—that are not explicitly present in the raw data from Craigslist, and plotting the distribution of these categories, by state, on a series of lovely maps. The map above is another version of this same data set.
I love the aesthetic sensibility that underlies these exercises in chart- and map-making, where beauty is found in data properly embedded in spatial, visual context. Because, after all, who doesn’t love a good dataset?
- 1 cup of coffee
- 1 “bagel ‘n schmear”
- 1 GRE vocabulary book
- 1 package Nestle Toll House Semi-sweet Morsels
- 0.56 pounds green beans
- 1 seedless watermelon
I consider the watermelon my great triumph of the day, despite the fact that, as it turns out, watermelons are quite heavy and do not fit easily into small backpacks.
A life update is on the way soon, I promise!
This week is really starting to look up, after a great game of ultimate (“Dooooooooom”) and a wonderful care package from Ruth. The latter contained this season’s version of the Williams Rape and Sexual Assault Network’s “Ask” t-shirt (in brown, which is turning out to be this season’s color, as well) and a Montana Envirothon t-shirt from a thrift store somewhere in Montana (Red Lodge, maybe?), not to mention a mug from the Bad Ass Coffee Company (in Dillon, Montana, no less).
Ultimate tonight was just what I needed, too. I played well, we had fun, we won (for the first game that I’ve played in), and to top it all off I bonded with some other nerdy math and linguistics folks. So, for a week that started off with me in kind of a funk, things are going well.
Except for that Tibetan paper due in a week and a half…oops!
In reverse chronological order, no less! Tonight I watched the Red Sox finish getting swept by the Angels, over a pint of beer that was not an IPA that I actually really really liked. Earlier I got a call from Bob inviting me out for a sail, which was just the thing to lift me out of some doldrums and clear my head after a morning of unfulfilling Sunday Times reading and interview transcribing (also, my farmer’s tan is now about twenty times more awesome). Friday and Saturday were kind of a black hole. Thursday night I went to a concert by the Festival Orchestra of the IU Summer Music Festival. It was absolutely, breath-taking-ly wonderful. They played Don Juan by Strauss, a delightful Divertimento by Stravinsky (from The Fairy’s Kiss), and Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the most-played and probably most-reliably-tear-jerking classical piece in my iTunes library. That was really the highlight of the week, and probably one of the highlights of my summer. I have a somewhat unfortunate tendency to lapse into forgetfulness when it comes to things (like the towering giants of classical music) that feed my soul, the upside being, of course, the joyful reunions this allows. I know I had more to say about this concert, maybe something about the bizarre contradiction of being thrilled to the point of public, possibly embarrassing expressions of joy by something that whose etiquette discourages the same. But for the sake of finishing this tonight and getting some closure on the week I’ll wrap this up now.
Oh, I also attended a thesis defense (scariest. thing. ever.) and was lent a book about dynamic systems approaches to development (i.e. growing up) including a cool chapter on language acquisition that pretty much convinced me that language is probably the coolest most interesting thing ever. So there. I also continue to be completely in love with my bike, whose brakes now work flawlessly but whose seat has come loose.