blk: (bike)
Dec bike log: 80 miles

A minimal month, but not at all bad considering we had our first real snowfall (that affected roads) and then I took the final two weeks off for vacation. On the upside, I commuted in <10F weather for a day or two and survived it just fine, although I did accept a ride home from the company xmas party from a coworker who had a bike rack.

Bike updates: because of the excessively cold mornings, I installed my BarMitts early (last year they didn't go on until January). I'll keep them there through spring, even though I don't really need them when it's above 40F. I remembered to grease my chain after riding in the snow, but my front wheel has picked up another annoying squeak or two. Part of it is related to my brake but I'm not sure that's all of it. And of course it comes and goes so it's harder to debug. I also received a new bike bell but it arrived after the Mitts were on, so I haven't actually installed it yet.

I'm on the lookout for new goggles for when it's super cold and/or actively snowing. I have a really cheap pair which would probably work fine if I had a lot of constant wind or less variable temps, but for what I use them for they fog badly every time, despite a variety of anti-fog attempts, so I'm giving up on them. I do have an actual ski mask which works fine, but it's bigger and less compact than my ideal thing would be.

I broke my bike fast with a lovely New Year's Day ride yesterday, but technically that should be in next month's post.
blk: (icicles)
Things I have learned about my body:

1. I run cold. I'm acclimatized to warm Florida weather, even as I've learned to deal with Pittsburgh's. I rarely get too hot. I frequently get too cold. (It doesn't help that I prefer less body hair on myself, which has a noticeable affect on heat retention) I'm the one wearing two bottom layers and three top layers in regular normal indoor temperature weather. I like a sheet plus two blankets plus a heated mattress pad plus a down comforter in our heated bedroom in order to go to sleep at night. I have heated gloves for my office where I get chilled.

2. I heat up quickly. Within 10 minutes of aerobic movement I'm too hot. I'm the one in yoga class sweating in shorts and a tank top while everybody else has leggings and long sleeves. I'm the one stripped down to a single layer a mile into a winter run (except for gloves; fingers are always cold). I end up sweating through a layer when I bike to work because I've been peddling for 20 minutes, even though I was cold in below freezing weather to start with.

3. I cool down quickly. Google says that average healthy person cools down with a decrease of 20 heart beats per minute after exertion; mine is about twice that, says the pulse counter on the treadmill at work. I can put on my winter clothes almost immediately after exercising and am comfortable. I can go from heavy exertion to feeling normal within a minute with some deep breathing.

Conclusion: Stopslights suck.

Apparently the biggest factor as to whether I can bike in winter cold weather is the number of stoplights on my route, as the length of a light cycle is just enough for me to go from warm to too cold, which freezes all my extremities. Whereby a long continual no-stop route is enough exertion for me to warm up to comfortable even in -10 windchill weather (as this morning was).

Also: If I'm not moving, pile on the blankets.
blk: (bike)
Nov bike log: 200

Nov was a month minus four work days of riding. I got in a few longer rides on some nice weather days, once up to Riverview Park, once wandering around Duck Hollow and then across to the trails and around, and once with Flock to downtown for Light Up Night, where I by chance caught up with a small Major Taylor contingent and rode with them for a bit.

Now that daylight saving has ended and half of my riding every day is in the dark, I'm getting a lot of use out of my wheel lights, and a lot of attention. On one hand, it's fun to get so many compliments yelled at me (counted up to a dozen on light up night); on the other hand, I wish more bikes lit up so that mine weren't so unique.

For new gear: I picked up a pair of Endura Strike II gloves, which are not only flexible, waterproof, cold weather gloves, but they fit me super well and are very comfortable. They seem to work for cold about as well as my other cold gloves, but are less bulky. My first ride with them I was disappointed, as it was supposedly 28F out and I still ended up at work with frozen fingers, but then I checked teh intarnets and it said windchill was more like 12F. The next day, also reading 28F, I was reasonably comfortable. So maybe they aren't awesome with wind, but they should work well under my BarMitts. I tried them out in rain yesterday, and although the gloves got wet (and felt damp externally 8 hours later) my hands definitely stayed dry. So that's good.
blk: (avatar)
The holiday week isn't over yet, as family is still in the house, but the food is basically front and center this year, so this is a post about food. Last year's food post helped me plan for this year. Maybe this one will help inspire for next year.

This year there was basically one day of food prep, and that's turned out to be lasting the whole time.

Thursday (all day) we had:
* baked ham
* roasted chicken
* roasted shredded brussels sprouts
* green beans with turkey bacon
* garlic mashed potatoes
* cranberries (can and sauce)
* biscuits (made by david)
* kale slaw
* veggies and hummus for snacking
* deviled eggs (made by my mom)
* pumpkin pie (made by my mom)
* nisu bread (made by jim)

It was all good, and since people in my family eat like birds there were leftovers of everything which we are slowly making progress on. I brined the chicken beforehand and I think it improved it. The brussels sprouts were my favorite. The kale slaw was good but didn't really fit in with other things, so now I have a huge amount of it leftover.

Then in the evening, Jim and I went over to another friend's house who does a big yearly friendsgiving party and stayed until very late, whenupon we got pressed into taking home a bunch of leftovers that couldn't be used by the host. So we ended up with
* another pumpkin pie
* indian pudding
* assorted olives
* cheese and crackers
* homemade bread slices
* buffalo and venison summer sausages
* a jar of homemade pate

We're working through all the perishable stuff; today/tomorrow's job will be to take the excess of that and freeze it. The rest will probably end up at various social events in the next week, and the meat will likely go into a variety of soups. Yum.
blk: (bike)
Oct bike log: 175 miles

Biked to work every day of work, with a couple days missing for travel and sick. The sick part also made me cancel out of a couple group rides, and another one because of rain. I made time for a couple fun rides around the South Side, though. One day of rain riding; a couple days of cold (30s) weather riding. Nothing extreme.

For bike upgrades, I decided that my helmet either needed new padding or needed to be replaced, so I went with the replace option. I visited the local Trek store because I liked one of their helmets that wasn't in the WSD category, and wanted to know if there was any difference in fit. No, the local employee said, it's just color scheme. I find that really annoying. But useful for my purposes, as I was able to get a blue and black helmet, completing the color scheme for the rest of my bike, instead of the purple/pink/turquoise ones in the WSD line. Sigh. I also redid my helmet braids with fresh yarn, as the old ones were getting kind of ratty. Then I added in a pair of cat ears I picked up recently from a LBS sale rack. I angsted briefly about spending a lot of money on bike accessories, then realized that a single maintenance visit for our car cost me more than my frivolous bike spending for the last ~6 months. And people say biking is a luxury hobby.



For Halloween I carved a very nice bike-o-lantern that I'm pretty proud of. I also managed to get in some minor maintenance during the slow trick-or-treating time, namely tightening up the fenders, replacing padding on the back fender so it stops rattling, and greasing the chain.

Only slightly biking related: Last week Xuth and I saw Pedal Punk (teaser video), a mostly-rolling-things-based circus show, that was really well done and enjoyable. We biked downtown for it, got dinner at Proper, and then had our server trick-or-treat at our house a week later and recognize us.
blk: (citd)
No particularly context for this except musing on the past.

There is very little that I would say I have an actual phobia for. The one thing that I feel I've been able to definitively identify, and what gives me my mental basis for using the term "phobia" is drowning. It's very minor - it took a few decades for me to define it as such, and it doesn't really affect much of anything I do except for where I take a lot of care watching videos where drowning is a real or hyped risk involved, because I can very quickly observe panic symptoms start setting in if I don't distract myself.

I have no idea what the "source" might be, although I have emotional memories that seem to reinforce it going back pretty far. Who knows whether one of them created it, or they just all helped to bring what already existed out into the light.

- There was a swimming lesson when I was very young where we were supposed to learn how to float on our backs, and I was having a lot of trouble. But I was told not to paddle, so I repeatedly tried to float by lying straight and still, and every time, I would slowly sink, sometimes not catching myself until my face went under and water got up my nose. Over a decade later I realized that how high humans float in water is directly related to their percentage of body fat, which I've always had very little of. I'm still frustrated that several swim teachers just told me I was moving too much instead of advising I try to take in more air first.

- There was a swimming test at summer camp where I had to tread water for some period of time wearing clothing, then take off a pair of jeans and inflate them to create a makeshift floatation device. Taking off wet jeans is really hard, and I got frustrated with trying to do that and also stay above water, and eventually, panicky. I remember ending the test sobbing and hyperventilating and feeling bitter than nobody else seemed to care how upset I was, except for giving me a paper bag to breathe into.

- There were, of course, multiple instances where I'm swimming with other kids or in waves and just as I come up to take a fresh breath, I get knocked back down (accidentally or intentionally) and either strain my lungs or swallow some water and have to cough it out. I still remember how furious I got, which was always shrugged off because the other kid couldn't understand why I was so upset.

- Most recently was when I took a scuba diving lesson, in my mid-20s. Because of my small-framed face, the smallest size adult mask they had available mostly, but not completely, sealed against my face. So when we went into deeper ocean water for the last lesson, as soon as I was down underwater for a few breaths, my mask would start to leak, cutting off vision and disorienting me. I ended up spending all of my mental energy on the sheer effort of not panicking while several feet underwater, and after several attempts, gave it up. I got my certification and never once used it.


It's of interest to note that I wasn't injured during any of these, just panicked. The times in water that I've actually been injured don't stand out anywhere near as much. The time I went waterskiing as a kid and (somehow) ended up with a long bloody gash on my shin? Eh. The many summers I cut my toes on barnacles or shells on the ocean floor or a jellyfish stung me? Painful, but not horrible. The time I fell on a sharp rock while whitewater rafting and spent the next two months with a bum knee relearning how to walk? Annoying, thrilling (when we were actually afloat) but not scary at all. (Although a year later when I had a runaway kayak carry me a short ways down the river while leaving me mostly unharmed, that was yet another panic moment).

Also of interest in that I'm not scared of water in general, of getting wet, of submerging myself, of swimming, or of anything that would make this phobia into a problem instead of just a minor detail. I'm fine with situations where I feel more or less in control. I'm a pretty good swimmer. I spent my Florida summers at swim parks and beaches. I can exhale partway and sit at the bottom of the pool and totally enjoy the peace and quiet. I'm starting to be OK with kayaking on calm waters.

In thinking about this as a phobia, I'm realizing that this is just a feature of me that I can accept. OK, I have strong reactions in particular circumstances where I feel endangered and if other people don't understand that, it's their failing, not mine. I know what a panic attack feels like, I know that I can stay fairly calm and coherent through one, and that the majority of things don't do that to me. I have sympathy for past me, and am sorry she wasn't comforted the way she needed, and I promise to myself that I'll do my best to take care of me in the future.
blk: (avatar)
I have too much food.

First: other people's leftovers. I went to a lovely party last weekend where the hosts had ordered catered food, and as I was present at the very end of the wind-down and willing to carry a bunch of food in my car, after the hosts took their cut, I claimed a bunch of the rest of what was going to be thrown away. This included, among other things, a 4+ lb tray of (what I believe is) seasoned seitan. It's delicious. So far I have added it to salad, to stir-fry, to sauteed greens, and eaten it straight. Fortunately, it should freeze quite well, so I packaged up almost 3 lbs of it to save for later, since I'm the only one in the house who will eat it. Now the question is, what else should I do with it? I'm not very familiar with how to use meat substitutes well. Maybe I'll try a stew with it sometime next week. Any suggestions?

Second: the garden. I don't put super amounts of effort into gardening, and intentionally grow stuff that mostly keeps. I have about a dozen small squash out there, which isn't a problem because it stores (as long as I remember to pull it in before it freezes and turns to mush), two chard plants which I am months behind on (but can probably use up before winter), and the things in my herb garden. The oregano and chives I ignore because it comes back next year. The rosemary I will probably just cut and dry, since it's predicted to be a very cold winter, so it will probably not survive. The basil I need to do something with before it freezes. I had a good amount of caprese over the summer, but about the only thing else I know to do with large amounts of basil is pesto. Which I freeze, and then discover hidden in my freezer the next year, when it's time to make the next batch. What else is basil good for?

Third: the farm share. Every season I go back and forth on whether getting a farm share is worth it. On one hand, it is great for inspiring me to make new dishes and introduces me to new foods. On the other hand, I'm the only person in the house who eats 90% of the stuff, and it's easy for it to get overwhelming. I've managed to have to throw out very little so far, partially through sheer stubbornness. Currently I have two cabbages, two small eggplants, and three medium beets. I know I theoretically like these foods, at least when cooked in certain ways, but I have not enough experience cooking them to know what ways. And I still have radishes and cucumbers to use up from last week (although I'm going to make more of this salad as soon as I get more onions, because I did it once and that shit was delish.

I foresee a lot of cooking in my future. Well, this weekend. Maybe I should have a party so I can feed people who will actually eat my foods.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for Sept: 150 miles

Not a whole lot happened this month, bike-wise. I biked to work almost every day i had work, except for the day I went directly to the airport. I went on one long ride (memorial/protest ride for Dennis Flanagan). I helped out with a bike/ped data collection count for CMU, which is a super boring job, but I appreciate that the numbers exist and someone has to do the tedious work of collecting it.

For bike parts, my taillight stopped working again, so I gave up fixing it and got a new one that will attach securely to my rack and won't run into my rack bag or my rear fender. And is a reasonable brightness, and USB rechargeable. I basically just walked into a LBS and said "give me something that works" for these requirements and walked out with a decent Serfas (UTL-60 I think). What I like best is that it has two lights that alternate, as I prefer some kind of moving lights (not just on/off blinking). Good basic lights plus the blue rim lights mean I think I'm about ready for nighttime/winter riding.
blk: (running)
In a moment of questionable decision-making, I ran the Great Race (10k) on Sunday.

I love this race; it's a favorite of mine, despite the crowds and the lack of corrals and other issues. It's got a place in my heart, and it's convenient and cheap, and well, I just want to keep running it. So I signed up back in Jan every year. This year, it was early enough that I figured my knee and toe problems would have plenty of time to get worked out.

Well, 3 specialist visits and quite a bit of money later, my toe issues have improved from "regularly minorly painful and specifically irritated by running (among other things)" to "occasionally minorly annoying, and mostly ok if I treat it carefully and wear insoles." So, while it's not as fixed as I would have wanted, the expensive orthotic insoles do seem to be helping. My current theory is that it's inter-metatarsal bursitis, which fits with the "bone and foot structure is fine" observations of the doctors and mostly fits the pain symptoms I do have, but is also a "be nice to it and hope it gradually improves" injury, which I hate because it means I expect this is basically something I just need to learn to live with.

My knee, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure is "just" a flare-up of that old patellofemoral pain, i.e. a form of "runner's knee," i.e. my kneecap doesn't track properly under load, and there are definitely exercises I can do to help it (once I figure out what they are). And proper foot alignment helps a lot.

These stupid joint problems meant that I didn't run at all for 9 months, waiting for pain to go away; and when it did, there wasn't time to get back my mileage. So I didn't plan to run. But then I failed to give away my registration, and [livejournal.com profile] xuth picked up my race bib and a shirt that actually fits me (this is the first year they have women's-cut race shirts) and he was going to run it anyways, and I decided if nothing else, I could walk it just fine, so.....

I taped1 things up and made a goal to finish in between 1:15 and 1:30. Basically, no faster than a slow jog, and no slower than a fast walk. I ended up running slowly for the first 4 miles whereupon I hit a big downhill and my knee complained really loudly. I ran/walked the rest of the way, coming in at 1:24:29, which is my slowest race pace ever, but considering conditions, marks success. My knee hurt a lot at the end, but no more than in the past, and was more or less fine as soon as I stopped running.

Of course, the rest of my body took the brunt of that whole unprepared for running thing, and every other muscle in my legs has been SUPER sore since then. Stairs and desk job do not make things easier at all. However, none of that is anything more than overworked muscle, that will be fine within a few days.

The important part is that my toe never felt any worse than mildly annoying, which I consider not only success for this race, but a sign that I can (slowly) start running again regularly (combined with appropriate knee exercises). So that's my new plan. Er, as soon as I finish recovering.


1 I totally thought that the kinesiology taping fad was a total crock, and then my google searches brought me to something called McConnell taping for PFPS, and it actually WORKS. By "works" I mean it greatly reduces pain when I go about my normal activities. It obviously doesn't fix the underlying issue, and various online sites seem to disagree about exactly WHY it works, but some of my dubiousness has been turned into curiosity. And it turns out that if I don't care about pretty colors or brand names, and only use it occasionally, it's quite cheap and easy to acquire.
blk: (avatar)
I had a lovely few days visiting [livejournal.com profile] ravens_prentice in San Diego. There was talking and relaxing and reading and eating tasty food and climbing and walking. All in all a fantastic vacation.

Thursday we visited Mesa Rim climbing gym, which was a very nice gym, and wore ourselves out pretty thoroughly. I did not tear my new climbing shorts nor leave any blood on the walls, and I successfully climbed a 5.11c, so I left pretty happy.

Friday we visited the San Diego Zoo, which was a very nice zoo, although having grown up around Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, I was probably not quite as amazingly impressed as I should have been. It was still lovely to walk around, particularly with someone else who appreciated the adorable killer giant kitties, until suddenly I decided I'd had Too Much Sun and was ready to be done, and we spent the rest of the day lazing around.

Saturday was an amazingly delicious breakfast at Great Maple, which had maple bacon donuts that might have made the entire trip worth it just for them, if there hadn't been so much other pleasant stuff already. While there, I used my cis privilege to ask a manager why their single-use bathrooms still had gender signifiers on them, and she said she would pass up my message to the owner. Then I left a compliment for our awesome waiter.

At the airport I first had good flight luck by picking a security line which had a metal detector, so I could skip my expected freedom grope. Then my luck extended by arriving at the gate just in time to hear an announcement asking for bump volunteers, so I did that which allowed a grateful kid to have a seat, and compensated me with more than the cost of my round-trip ticket, and a flight that arrived home only an hour later than originally scheduled. On the plane, my seat neighbor struck up a conversation with me, which ended up talking about SF Cons, and I told her about Arisia, which she seemed very excited about. We exchanged email addresses and I told her she could poke me if she ended up attending.

The only unfortunate part is that I somehow lost my laptop mouse somewhere along the way, and I also picked up a cold somewhere, possibly in the first flight, and therefore exposed a ton of other people already. I've been through the sore throat, the runny nose, the stuffy nose, and now I suspect I have a slight fever, sinus pressure, and general achyness. Fortunately, it's all been fairly mild, and today is a cool rainy Sunday with no plans, perfect for lazing around drinking tea all day. Unfortunately, I just finished my 5th book of the week and I'm rather bored with lazing around, but I also don't really have energy to do much else. Maybe I'll see what else I can clean around here. After more tea.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for August: 225 miles

August felt like a big bike month for me, so this is probably the high end of my regular mileage for a while. I commuted to work almost every weekday; I made it a point to run errands on bike when I could; I went on a few group rides, and I participated in a long ride for Pedal Pittsburgh and set a new PR for most miles in a day (48). I got some bike gear and did some minor bike improvements. Gave out three sets of bike lights.

Xuth helped me repair my wheel lights so I could ride to BikeFest, because they are made from cheap plastic parts and had attempted to self-destruct a while back, but now they are secured well and taped neatly around my rims, and I feel way more comfortable riding at night with them. The BikeFest party was somewhat anticlimactic compared to parties of the past, alas. The Try-a-Bike jamboree was a lot of fun as usual. I rode a tall bike for the first time and didn't fall off! Also a hoverboard. Maybe one of these years I'll eventually try a unicycle.

I bought new bike shoes which I felt oddly about, because my old bike shoes are still in fine condition, but the new ones have insoles I can replace with my new orthotics, which makes them feel really nice. The cleats are also just a tiny bit more recessed, so walking around is more comfortable with them.

I acquired a new bike lock, the Altor 560G. I was really excited for it as it promised to be less than half the weight of my current big U-lock AND allow for more flexible locking. Well, it is a nice lock but it is actually slightly more than 560g, and although the flexibility does allow for more configuring, the fact that it connects basically right at the joint with the same length of main arms means the triangle shape has less area than the U, and locking is actually slightly more difficult, rather than less. I'm additionally disappointed because I cannot lock it while it is fully compacted (for carrying) and also the locking head sticks at on a different plane than it folds up, so it can't lay flat - both things I hadn't thought about when ordering but realized I wanted once I put it into practice. Overall I still prefer it for the lighter weight, but I think it could have been nicer.

I started using a newer smartphone. The big effect here is the GPS in the newer phone is really quite good, and I can play with tracking apps. I've been using Strava for my daily rides, and the "segments" feature is pretty good motivation to practice my sprinting, although it's also demotivation if I look too closely at how I place compared to all other riders. It's not bad if I just look at the "today" stats. :-P

The good month was marred by the death of local cyclist Dennis Flanagan on a poorly designed roadway that encourages speeding and non-road sharing. That happened only a day before a PennDOT gave a presentation about a Forbes Ave redesign and "bettering" project. Unfortunately, it really didn't seem like PennDOT had given cyclist and pedestrian traffic much more than an afterthought, and there were 200 active community cyclists who showed up and objected to a lot of the proposed plans. I really hope something good came from that meeting other than reminding me that I really really don't like meetings that involve yelling, even when I totally empathize with the emotion behind it.

September is bringing nice weather already. Maybe I will try to get out on more actual leisurely rides (what are those again?)
blk: (bike)
Today I rode Pedal Pittsburgh's city tour. My goal was to ride the 100km (62mi) route for the first time ever. My second goal was to finish in time to hang out and get some beer at the finish line festival. My tertiary goal was to fail competently, with a smart bail plan. I succeeded at one of these!

I got up godawful early and started the route just after 7am with two friends who had promised to go slowly with me. The first 20 miles went without much incident, except that we dropped one of our three on the second big hill, because they weren't able to keep moving. Unfortunately, those first 20 miles took a good three hours, which put us on track to finish in... 9 hours. That length of a trip was not really in the plans, so we opted to skip the third big hill climb, and at 35 miles we ran back into our third (who had also skipped a big section) as well as a fourth who had been busy volunteering earlier. We set out to finish the 62, but within about 2 miles we collectively decided to switch over to the 25 mile route, which would save us about 10 miles on the rest of the route. Another ~7 miles and a hill later, it was getting late and we were all super tired and everything hurt, so we decided to ditch the rest of the planned route and just head straight to the finish line.

Total distance ended up being just about 48 miles. Alas, there was no free beer this year, and if I'm going to pay for beer, it has to be something that I actually like, and this wasn't it. But I failed at my goal very well! I didn't disappoint myself, I didn't try to push myself too hard, I didn't injure myself, I didn't get grumpy or cry, I didn't end up having to hop on a bus and take myself home, and I'm pretty satisfied at all of that. 48 miles is definitely further than I've ever biked in a day, and it included several thousand feet of climbing. I think I probably could do the full 62 if I was prepared in different ways: if I'd planned for a full day of riding (instead of a half day), if the weather wasn't quite so awfully hot and humid (it was above 90 by noon), and maybe a few other ifs. So maybe it can be a goal for next year.

I did a lot of things right on this one, though, including remembering to eat and drink regularly, even though I wasn't hungry, which is a very odd feeling for me, because I am constantly trying to stay in the habit of only eating when hungry (because overeating makes me feel physically not good). But I don't get hungry when I exercise, and while I can easily go for a 60 minute workout without any interim sustenance, that doesn't work for multi-hour workouts. I packed good snacks and made use of the rest stops and kept my energy up until the end. I wore clothes that were comfy, and sunscreened sufficiently such that the only places where I got burned were a little bit on the backs of my hands, because I forgot my gloves and didn't realize until I was about to start (I got a few weird blotchy red spots on my thighs, but I don't think those are sunburn).

Eventually I came home, had a wonderful shower, ate all the things, and got a beer. Now fall over.
blk: (smirk)
I've had this iPhone as my primary phone for a bit over 3 days now, which is about the right amount of time for me to acquire gripes.

OMFG I miss the Pre's Universal Search. Since probably almost nobody here knows what that is, with the Pre I could open up the keyboard (still miss the keyboard) and start typing anything, and it would search all kinds of things to give me options. For example, if I typed "cal" and then paused, it would offer up options to select which would include the Calculator and Calendar apps, my contact Calvin Klein and his phone number so I could call or text, a page from my browsing history where I visited calvinandhobbes.com, an email I got from someone named Caleb, and also an option to search my search engine of choice for the phrase "cal."

With the iPhone, I have to turn on the phone, navigate to the main menu, scroll through to find the app I want to look in, select the app, find the place in the app where I can search, possibly clear out whatever was in that field previously, wait for the virtual keyboard to pop up, type in my keywords, and find the search button. It takes FOREVER and it's WORK and I did not realize how often I used that feature (for basically anytime I wanted to text, call, or google search a thing, which I do a LOT) until I lost it. Or maybe I just haven't figured out how to use this phone properly. If someone can tell me how I'm doing this wrong, please do.

Other major complaints:

1. No external notification to show that I've missed a message. Yes I can turn on a bright annoying light that flashes from the back when I -receive- a message, but if I miss the receiving moment, I have to physically pick up my phone and turn it on to see if I got a message. With the Pre I could just glance at it sitting on my desk and observe if there was a subtle, low-powered, light on the front that would blink every 5 seconds or so and get my attention.

2. No basic, simple, works-well inductive charging. Why is this not a thing?? The touchstone charger was one of the greatest things about the Palm/HP devices. 6 years later and everybody has been trained to plug things in every day. I guess people who never had it don't know what they are missing.

Minor complaints:

1. All the apps work really well, and there's a wide, strong userbase, which means support for advertisements. Phooey. I was completely spoiled having a Pandora app that was too old to stream ads. :)

2. Different messaging systems are all their own app (with the exception of iMessage + SMS being combined). I suppose Pidgin has spoiled me for being able to put all my chat systems in one client, but now I have one app for texts, another app for hangouts, another app for FB messages (if I decided to install it), etc. So I have to remember WHERE i had a conversation with someone in order to go back and review it.

3. Cannot automatically save new contacts directly to Google, where all of my other contacts are already stored. In order to get new contacts there, I'd have to export my contact list and import it to google, a multi-step process that I'm sure is going to create more problems.

4. It's too big. I can use it with one hand, but it's pretty difficult.


On the other hand, the navigation is really nice.
blk: (avatar)
OK, I did it. I upgraded my phone.

I've been playing with my not-son's old iPhone 4S for a couple weeks, seeing what it does, how to configure it, etc, but not with an actual cell phone plan. I could just use it with WiFi for a while, right? But then Friday I bit the bullet and fully switched over.

Most of it was because my current Pre was starting to break down. The camera stopped working; the battery was too old - and I am taking this vacation and wanted to have a working phone camera with me and wanted it to last the entire day of wandering around. And my trial of iPhone stuff had shown that mostly everything I valued about my Pre was still available to me with a new phone, plus more, and it was either acquire a new Pre (and set it up) or switch to a different phone (and set it up). So here I am.

Things I like: It.... just kinda works. SSL certificate doesn't fail randomly. WiFi doesn't stop randomly. Facebook app works again. Camera works and is nice quality. New fun games available. Updates happen smoothly. Backups work really easily. Lots of new and interesting apps available. Syncs with my music easily. The battery lasts all day. Current web pages load properly.

Things I don't like: I really miss the physical keyboard. I miss being able to use my phone as a plain USB drive and transfer files directly. I miss facebook being more of a web interface (I already accidentally "shared" a link that I hadn't even read). I miss the smallness. I miss putting it on an inductive charging block with a generic micro plug and using it as a clock.

But mostly it's OK. I think I'll keep it.

RIP Pre.
blk: (flower)
It's only technically halfway through summer, but it feels like it's much further. I thought I wouldn't get tired of it until later in the month, but maybe the excess heat we've been getting is making it harder.

Raspberries lasted through about July 8, giving me multiple handfuls every other day for about three weeks straight. It was a tough job, but I managed to eat them all. Next year I supposed I should think about pie or something. The potato plants all fell over, which probably means they are ready to be dug up. I'll probably wait until fall, though. Cilantro all turned to coriander, and I pulled it up. Parsley is fully bolted but seeds haven't dropped yet. Last year's brussels sprouts have seeded and I'm hoping they'll give me some plants next year. This year's sprout plants really never took off.

I'm eating regularly from the kale, chard, and basil. The tomatoes are doing really poorly. Half of them are basically dead, and the other half have some green fruits which drop before they are ripe. I'm not sure if it's lack of regular water, not enough sun (backyard maple is shadowing the garden), too much tomato in that plot recently, critters, or bad luck. The only one I've gotten fruit from is the one cherry plant I let go. But not many fruit from there either. The mystery squash in the garden is growing quite happily over the tomato cages, but I haven't looked hard for fruit yet, so it's still a mystery. All the other places I planted squash plants never really took off, although most of them are still alive.

I gave in and mowed the lawn for the first time in about a month, although it was mostly just mowing weeds. The grass hasn't been growing that much, probably due to heat. I've loaded up two yard bags full of clippings, weeds, and dead stuff, and will probably get another before taking it to recycling.

The apple trees are dropping good-sized apples, but still green. I suspect I have about another month before I have to do something with them besides throw them in the compost. Still on my todo list: get an arborist back out here to trim them some more.

That's about it. I'm having a lazy summer.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for July: 125 miles.

I guess this is pretty minimal, representing a bike ride to work most (but not all) days, and basically no lunch or weekend trips. The only distinctive extra riding was one trip across the river to get custom orthotics made, which will hopefully help keep my foot from hurting with basically everything I do (except when it doesn't). Sigh.

I would like to bike more, but what I find myself wanting most often is just to take a slightly longer, more leisurely route on my way home. Except every single other route I can think of would involve more hills, more angry traffic, less quiet park, and definitely less leisurely. And then once I'm home I lose interest in going anywhere else. Hmph.

August I'm intending to at least make it to one of the bike parties, and hopefully to Bike Week, after I move the kid out.
blk: (avatar)
This past weekend xuth and I drove out to Philly for [livejournal.com profile] soong's wedding. This is great, except that the only road that goes from Pittsburgh to Philly and takes less than 5 hours is also one of the most expensive long toll roads in the nation, costing a whopping $32.90 in cash to travel this subsection one way. There's a significant (~30%) savings using E-ZPass, but we hadn't gotten around to getting a transponder yet because a) we don't travel on toll roads very regularly and b) we intended to wait and get it in MA because it's cheaper ($0/yr instead of $3/yr in PA). This trip was going to be expensive enough that I looked into getting one right beforehand, but didn't plan ahead enough, so that didn't work out, and we just resigned to paying lots of money.

We stopped at a service plaza a few exits in for lunch, and I saw a sign that said they sold E-ZPass there. Well, that would be convenient. So I went and inquired. Turns out although they activate the transponder at the time of purchase (and trade it for your current toll slip), it doesn't actually charge until the next time you enter a toll booth. Which means that if you acquire the transponder in the middle of a toll trip, that trip is free. Even with the yearly fee + "convenience fee", that definitely made it worthwhile!

The wedding itself was lovely and wonderful. The setting was beautiful; the people were pleasant and colorful; the food and drink was delicious; the weather mostly cooperated; the string band which played quiet background classical music rickrolled us during the cocktail hour; and overall it was a great party. The only downside is that while I wore fairly comfy shoes, they were not dancing shoes, and by the end of the evening of walking and dancing, I had worn fairly painful blisters on the balls of my feet. Oops. Fortunately a night of rest made them walkable again. I took just a few pictures and posted the good ones to the groom's FB wall (who made one his profile pic, yay!). I also braided a few people (surprise), got to see a few of my much-missed Boston-ish friends, convinced myself to get an undercut, and in general had a nice relaxing day.

The ride back was uneventful but annoying. I think 3.5 hours of driving is just about my limit of what I can do comfortably, so by 4.5 hours I'm antsy, tired, and impatient.
blk: (bike)
Bike log for June (first entry): 202 miles

In June I biked just over 200 miles (it might be 205, as I vaguely recall not setting my counter early enough in the day on June 1, but I don't remember clearly now, so I'll call it 202). This is my base for comparison, I guess. It didn't include much other than work commuting, a few trips downtown, and a couple appointments just across the river on the South Side. All of it in Pittsburgh, all on my bike.

No incidents, although I did watch a cop run a stop sign in front of me while he was talking on his cell phone (he slowed, but didn't give me my right of way). Plenty of deer, rabbits, and groundhogs spotted in Schenley Park.

Many compliments on my helmet, most of them while I was biking at Open Streets.

Got a minor brake tuneup from Kindred on a whim. Accidentally acquired the mechanic's greaserag in return. Oops? I suspect they don't need it back.

The hills on my now-regular commute route are no longer horrible (although they are still a good workout). In exchange, my growing thigh muscles are once again starting to stretch some of my pants. This is annoying. At least I started with super skinny legs, and so more muscular legs means they're only slightly more bulky than normal. I can still find clothes that fit; it's just a little harder. OTOH, I've started appreciating tights and skirts more.
blk: (avatar)
I have been diligently daily sweeping the raspberry bushes for the past week and making sure none of the ripe berries go to waste. It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it. If I had been gone for 5 days this past weekend I cringe to think how many would have gone unused.

These bushes are only 3 years old. Next year I may have to find Something to do with these berries other than snack on them. Maybe I could bribe out this job to a neighbor. Also next year maybe I will actually weigh them rather than simply have them go straight into my mouth. I'm pretty sure I've eaten several lbs so far, but that's just a guess.
blk: (avatar)
Well, another one, at least.

I like bodymods on other people, but not very many types of them feel like they belong on me. Possibly because I'm a very slow-to-change sort of person (heck, even cutting my hair from very-long to mostly-long was a pretty big decision) and possibly because my social culture is full of people who are mostly unadorned so it's not something I think about much. Heck, I don't even think I've had serious relationships with anybody who did decorative bodymods.

But while I haven't found any art I want on my skin, piercings appeal to me. I suspect in part because it's jewelry that I don't have to think about anymore, and the types that I get are generally ones that don't interfere with my regular active hobbies. I like the ones I have, and I've been pondering more for a while now, so today I treated myself to some nice pain to celebrate a birthday (and also graduating a kid successfully) and got another helix.

Some points of note, since it's been probably 15 years since my last ear piercing:

- Ear piercing technology has some great improvements! I like the options I have now. Specifically, readily available endless hoops without captive beads. I may switch out my existing ones for some of those. But even better, studs with flat backs that attach internally, so no more pointy bits to poke me or butterfly backings to get caught on things (the mechanism looks kinda like this). I ended up getting a stud since this place doesn't pierce with non-captive-bead-hoops and they were out of captive-bead-hoops, but since I don't have to deal with the huge pokey annoyance, this isn't a bad thing at all for now.
- A lot less pain than I remember. This could be because my pain tolerance has gone up in the last decade+ as I've had more exposure, or also because straight studs are significantly easier to get in than hoops, or probably some combination of both. But other than the initial pinch, it felt great. Hopefully I will remember not to bump it and it will continue to feel great.

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