Last night I went snow-biking. I finally got my hands on the requisite tools to crack open the bottom bracket on my fixie and get it cleaned out, repacked, and beautifully adjusted. I was anxious to take it out for a spin, and was feeling undeterred by the late hour and the two feet of snow on the roads. Hard-packed snow—courtesy of the lack of plowing and stubborn DC drivers—is actually pretty good riding—not too slippery, no slushy sliding around, not too rough when it’s fresh—and riding a fixie in the snow is quite nice, since you can feel exactly how much traction you have at any given moment, and adjust your speed intuitively.
I cruised down Georgia Ave/7th St NW, soaking up the snowed-in-Saturday-night Chinatown scene, and then rolled down to the mall to gawk at the empty streets, snowy trees, and impressive obelisks. By the time I made it to the Lincoln Memorial I was pretty cold and my mittens had actually frozen, being still wet from the afternoon’s shoveling extravaganza. On the way home I got stuck behind a convoy of snow plows (one usually does the trick, guys), got stuck in too-much-snow on Vermont Ave, and got stuck behind homeward bound revelers on U St. All in all, an absolutely fantastic night.
Biking today was slightly less pleasant but still awesome. A little bit of sun, a little bit of traffic, and a lot of salt produced a bumpy, slushy, slippery mess on Georgia Ave, but I was out of coffee and determined to make it to Qualia. A couple of cops in an SUV asked me if I had snow tires “on that thing” after seeing me plowing through a pile of slushy snow. Had I been thinking a little more quickly I might have made a crack about only having one-wheel-drive, which I guess is all you really need.
This isn’t about Washington, per se. What it is is a non-exhaustive list of things that I love that I’ve discovered or re-discovered (etc.) since moving here. Consider it a sort of belated New Year’s retrospective/thank-you.
- Learning. In particular, language, sounds, and computers. Also, brains.
- Bikes, especially my fixie, now that I am finally strong enough to ride it.
- Biking. Note that loving biking is actually different from loving your bike, although they are of course related. Being able to hop on my bike and get to work, or get coffee, or go to the store, or go anywhere, really, is quite exciting.
- Public transit. Because, let’s face it, sometimes the weather is shitty, and sometimes there is awesome people-watching to be done on the 90/92.
- A good, sharp knife.
- Beer, wine, coffee, food.
- Having more than one place to go for all of the above.
- Having people to do all of these things with.
- Live music.
- A medium-sized city. At least this one, anyway. Especially when they have both Civil War-era row-houses and all of the, you know, things that come with being the national capitol.
That is to say, I’m having a great time in DC, and this whole “being a Real Person” thing has worked out a lot better and a lot more easily than I could have hoped.
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.
This is mostly for my darling sister, but these are so delicious that everyone should try them. The recipe is from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, which is full of delicious, delicious Delhi-area food that can be made with stuff readily available in the supermarket (for the most part). My favorite part of the book is the section on Dals, where there are a million variations on spiced legumes. The basic pattern is always the same though, and the recipes fall into three parts: cook the dal with some seasonings until its tender, then add the delicate stuff, and finally “give a tarka” of whole spices (or onions or ginger or anything, really) toasted briefly in hot oil.
This recipe (for brown lentils like you buy at the supermarket) has you first cook the lentils with cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, then add lemon for a little bit, and finally add the tarka of whole cumin seeds. See the full recipe after the jump.
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…
Qualia Coffee in Petworth. Qualia. Coffee. It all depends on whether or not their coffee is good enough to justify the trek, I guess. But they are a micro-roastery (yes I know that’s not a real word), so that’s encouraging, as is the excerpt from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Qualia on their website.
(Found via their ad on Prince of Petworth)