Archive for June 2009

It’s Only Eighty Two!

June 29, 2009

Not unusual for four in the morning, but it’s four in the afternoon, so that temp is about twenty degrees below what it’s been for the last week. Gotta love Shreveport in the summer time.

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Cyclists Who Don’t Like To Ride Their Bikes?

June 28, 2009

I’m a cyclist who doesn’t like to drive his car. Nine of ten rides I do, I do from my house. In fact, of all the rides I’ve done this year, I can think of three for which I put my bike in my rack and drove to the ride, and two of those were mountain bike rides. Apparently, though, my attitude is a very minority position.

There’s several of us who have this same idea about riding. Every weekend we meet together at the UpTown shopping center and either ride south to meet everyone else at the main starting area, or we head north of town to do our own thing. Ditto Sundays. We always post these rides on the local club and racing forums. Yet we almost never have double digits.

For whatever reason – I think it was the chance to see all the sunflowers in bloom – we had an unusually high number today, twenty five at one point. The really odd part, though, was that most of these folks live within two miles of our normal weekend ride start at UpTown. I’ve seen all these folks on the group rides south of town, yet they never join our rides at UpTown. Rather than roll from their own driveways, they get in their cars and drive ten miles to unpack and start from Ellerbe Road Baptist Church or some other out of town starting point.

There’s plenty of reasons for this. Could be they can’t stand our little group and don’t want to ride with us. But they did today, and they all talk to us when we see them on the other rides. It could also be inertia, but that doesn’t explain the decision to drive-to-ride in the first place. The stated reason, when you ask why they don’t ever ride from home is usually “I don’t like to ride through town.”

To each his own, but I wish more riders would rethink that reasoning.

The big fear behind it is traffic. And if you road out of town on Line Avenue at eight in the morning it might be valid. If you know the town and the back roads, though, the traffic is, if anything, better than what you’ll find out in the country. We can ride right through the middle of town at seven on weekday mornings side by side talking the whole way, with hardly a car passing us. You just have to know the routes.

There’s also a little fear of some of the “areas” a ride from town might cross. We do not ride through any bad areas, but even if we did I have no fear of ghetto riding. I’ve explain why not here, but essentially it’s because I’ve done it enough to feel safe anywhere and also because even if my chances of getting shot go up, my chances of getting hit by a latte drinking, text sending, make-up fixing SUV driver go down.

The last objection is too many miles, or too much time and energy in the wrong places. In other words, the thinking goes, why spend time riding through town when you could spend it riding in the “nice” areas. My first response is that driving to the start normally does not save a lot of time. For me, and by extension anyone else in southeast Shreveport, to get to the typical ride start at ERBC on time you have to load up and leave your house a half hour before the start. Know when I have to leave if I ride? Forty minutes prior to the start.

My second response brings me to the title of the post: I thought time on the bike was the whole point. Given the choice between time on the bike in a supposedly less nice place to ride or time in a car, I know what decision I’m making. It’s a corollary of the bad-day-fishing-beats-a-good-day-at-work principle. Even if the trip through town is nothing but something to endure on the way to the real ride, I’d still rather do that than spend that time in the car.

I don’t think that time is wasted, either. For one, most of the routes through town go through interesting areas. The scenery is not bad. The roads are generally in good shape. It’s a nice warm up before the ride and then a nice cool down afterwards. You get extra miles. Most importantly, it’s a great time to b.s. with other riders. Once you hit the open roads, everyone is too concerned with going fast to do much talking. Meandering through town, though? Perfect time to talk about whatever. So I don’t think the time riding to the ride is wasted time. I just wish more people would figure that out.

The Leak, Part II And III

June 26, 2009

Like I said, we had water leaking from our bathroom ceiling, which I thought I had fixed by straightening out the vent stack.

Well, next day I noticed water dripping again, but from the other side of the ceiling. My first thought was “WTF!?” Then I crawled back into the attic and checked the stack. Wasn’t it. Then I checked a duct that ran over the leaky spot. That, I thought, was it: Condensation on the outside. I found a small tear in the insulation, fixed it and thought that was it.

Nope. Later that day I went back upstairs to check it and although it was fine the stack was filled with water again. Now I was really confused. The only way for water to get in there is from rain and it hasn’t done that in two weeks. I had no idea where the water came from.

I looked around some more and noticed the pan under the a/c had an inch of water in it. I didn’t think that was normal so I called my step brother – who works in a/c repair – and he said my drain probably had a clog. Because the a/c produces water, there’s a drain from the unit to let it out. Where the drain goes is the key: To the stack. Somewhere below where the a/c drain joins the stack, a clog developed, backing the water up the stack and the a/c drain. That was the problem.

Of course, we still had to fix it. My step brother used his freon bottle to blow air through the drain. We thought that did it, but the next day the water stopped again. We blew it out a second time. We also cleaned out the inside of the unit to prevent more gunk from flowing down. Then I got on the roof and poured a bottle of industrial strength drain cleaner down the stack. After letting it sit for fifteen minutes I flushed it with the garden hose. That, so far, has done it. It’s been a day and the water is still flowing freely through the drain.

Now it’s time to wait for the next problem.

True And True

June 25, 2009

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This Really Is Getting Old

June 24, 2009

Yet another conservative opponent of gay marriage cheats on his wife.

Around here, there’s a strange correlation between a person’s ideas about gay marriage and that person’s own success in life. It seems like among people I know the ones who have the most divorces, kids out of wedlock, felonies and job problems are also the most vocal opponents of gay marriage. It’s like they’re trying to make themselves feel better: “My life may be bad, but at least I ain’t one them gays.” I’m speculating in pop psychology, but maybe some part of this extends to the national level, too.

Home Improvement v. Home Repair

June 23, 2009

I’ve done home improvement all summer. These are jobs that aren’t really necessary, but that make the house a lot nicer. For instance, last week I repainted our main bathroom. It was a pain in the butt, requiring wallpaper removal and taking the hardware off twenty two cabinet doors and then remounting all of them after painting. Tedious. Yet fun, too, because the room is about one hundred per cent nicer now then when I started.

I’ve also had to do some home repairs. For instance, in the same exact bathroom I finished last Thursday, water started dripping from the ceiling yesterday. That ceiling now looks like this:

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I’m not going to bother speculating about why the hell the water had to wait to leak until AFTER I’d already finished painting the damn room. Probably bad karma for laughing at too many episodes of Renovation Realities. I don’t know. I’m not thinking about it, though, because it’ll only hack me off.

I can explain, however, why the hole is there: Because I could not figure out why the water was dripping.

The last rain was two weeks ago, so it wasn’t a leak from the roof. The water lines are under the house. I examined the attic, even digging in the insulation, looking for wet spots and found none. In other rooms, when the a/c has been running for a while, I’ve had problems with condensation on the vents. This drip wasn’t from an a/c vent, it was from the combo heater-vent-light fixture. Still, out of other ideas, I thought maybe somehow the air from the a/c was causing some condensation.

I took it apart and found puddles of water on top of the sheetrock around the fixture. O.K., back to the attic. Still nothing up there. Well, I thought, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. So I kept cutting small pieces until I figured out where it had started. Hence, the hole.

The cutting eventually led me to another part of the attic where I found the culprit:

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That’s the vent. Shouldn’t even have water in it. But out of that ninety degree angle was a steady dripping. What happened, I guess, is that the vent was angled ever so slightly down towards that joint, instead of the other way towards the sewer line. Hence, rain water entered at the roof and then sat at the joint rather than continuing to flow down to the sewer. To fix it I just put a couple of boards under the joint and checked with my level to make sure it went down from there. That stopped the drip. Now I just have to add some glue to make sure it’s sealed.

Now that all sounds sort of simple, but it sucked. About half way through the job, I had trash all over the floor, a big hole in my new ceiling, insulation all over me, the vent in twenty pieces on the counter, and no idea how to find the problem never mind fix it. At that point I alternated between wanting to throw a hammer through the wall or just sit down and cry. That’s why I hate home repair. It makes me feel like my house is a dump and I’m incompetent.

Of course, simply identifying the problem went a long way towards making me feel better. I still have to fix the hole and put the vent together again, a process that will no doubt cause me to lose what little religion I have. Then I’ll need to repaint the ceiling. But I fixed the problem. From that point on the chaos gets reduced with each step, rather than the other way around. It’s like reaching the half way point on a long ride, each stroke brings you closer home.

The other thing I hate about home repairs is all the effort is just to keep the status quo. People who saw the bathroom before I painted it and after will comment on how much nicer it is. No one will comment on my fixed leak unless I do a crappy job on the drywall repair. The only one who’ll appreciate it is me.

Maybe that isn’t too bad, though. Even if no one knows or cares, there’s something very energizing about fixing problems on your own. I’m not a man with a whole lot of “fix it” skills. So when I do manage to solve a problem, I have to enjoy it, even if no one else will.

This Is Going To Be A Really Happy Father’s Day

June 21, 2009

Best. Present. Ever.

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Too bad it’s not even lunch time yet. Still, it’s got to be five o’clock somewhere, right?