This weekend left me in tears

Not the sad kind, but the "Why in god's name does my back hurt so much" kind. One night in the 'burbs and my back hurts more than it did after our move.

I blame the dog. We went out to the in-laws Friday afternoon, and she came into the house at one point smelling like behind the scenes at one of the houses in the zoo. Pure stink, to the point we had to stop eating lunch and throw her back outside. People were literally gagging as she walked in happy as a clam. "Guess what I rolled in guys!" We never did figure out what it actually was. Fox urine seems a likely culprit, but it could've been anything.

One bath with normal shampoo only made her smell like someone had rolled a bar of soap through a pile of horse manure, so the wife made an emergency run to the pet store while I tried a mix of baking soda, dish soap, & vinegar a few times. That didn't really help, but it at least took some of the stink from the first wash off my hands. Good lord that was bad.

She ended up getting 6 baths in total, included a scrub with Nature's Miracle odor remover that we had to let dry on her and then rinse off. I think it was the two-plus hours I spent trying to get her to not run away from me & the hose that messed up my back. Ow. On the plus side, the dog did smell and feel great for the rest of the weekend.

Of course, I'm not smart enough to realize that a ride probably isn't the best thing when my back is in that kind of shape, so off we went Saturday morning on one of the trails around Wheaton. I have no idea where, but we ended up by a stable with some horses out. Even they smelled better than the dog had the day before.

All of this added up to me almost in tears last night when it was time to get off the couch and make dinner. God do I feel old. Several doses of advil later and a night back on my own bed and I feel a little better. Good enough to ride into work, but still grimacing at times. Again, at least the dog smells better. I'll take small victories where I can get them these days.

Current beer-scale: 7.8



I didn't realize how much I missed grilling until I started grilling again. If messing with the bike has taught me, or rather reinforced with me, that I'm no good mechanically. Once the Brinkman went out, as much as I cooked on it trying to replace a valve didn't really appeal to me. But now that we're in a smaller place, with no yard, it's back to the mini-weber and charcoal. And I really missed grilling chicken.
Of course, as good as the chicken turned out, the photo, no so much. Anyways, onward & upward. Oh joy.

Current beer-scale: 7.9


Hit the road

How best to take your mind off a job search? Take an extra day off, and instead of stewing, hit the the road for a few hours. 20 miles minimum. 30 is better. Bad weather could be a positive too, at least for a while.

So that's what I did today. Hoping for the break in rain that Conrad was talking about this morning on wgn to come through, I hit the lakefront trail around noon and headed south for about as long as I could handle.

I wasn't in a huge rush, but I did have an end point in mind and I wanted to see how long it would take to get there. The rain wasn't quite breaking when I hoped it would, but it wasn't terrible out. It was down to sprinkles by the time I was winding around the Shedd.

Considering I was out there to get my mind off things, it didn't really help that nearly all I could think about was "I'm getting my mind off the job search" for nearly the entire ride. Even in the rain, into the wind. Oh well. Considering I was biking by some of the places I'd like to find work at, and ending up at my number two choice right now, telling myself I was getting my mind off things was probably good enough. Long rides= good, poorly planned or not.

The sun did start to come out as I got to the south side, and after about 45 minutes it turned pretty nice out. For a while at least. There was some blue in the sky around the mid-2000's.

Eventually I got as far south as MSI at 5700 south. Thank god for the occasional street marking painted on the path too, b/c around the 3000's the blocks started to blend a little. The cool thing about going that far south though is that when you're far enough out of the city, everyone out there has respect for everyone else out there with them. I got more smiles and nods from people running or biking in the other direction on this one ride than I've gotten all year just in the neighborhood. It put me in a better mood.
The south side beaches helped with that as well. After getting down there, I took a minute to sit down at the 57th St. beach house. This was a big change from taking the dog to Montrose earlier in the morning, where in between sprinkles we were walking through goose turds and running after seagulls. Or at least she was; she loves goose turds.
Of course, turning around gave me a clearer picture of just how far south I was. Holy crap the city seemed far away, even back up in the 4000's. A fat man could get awfully skinny doing this 5 times a week. I was worried w/o a zoom this picture wouldn't look good, but it's a decent depiction of just how far south I was.
Eventually, I got back into more frequently traversed territory and the rest of the ride wrapped itself up pretty quickly. I was turning off lincoln and zooming down webster before I knew what happened.
It was a good ride but it had its share of nostalgic moments too. One positive I'm taking from the job search is the chance to maybe work downtown again or better yet, even further south. I miss the long rides downtown but there are parts I don't miss, especially around Navy Pier. The squeeze over the river was never fun, and the rain pouring off of upper LSD/Wacker didn't help on the way out. At least it was empty on the way back.
Of course, when you've got a dog like mine, you never know what you're coming home to. Today, it was this. A minor hiccup--she barely bothered to raise her head off the couch in acknowledgement when I asked her about this. I can't say that I blame her. She had a hard morning what with all the goose turds.
Current beer-scale: a mellow 6.1


Fog, sushi

Without the distraction of a cubs weekend (and that's probably a good thing, considering Kevin Gregg), the dreariness of a job search is starting to sink in a little. It's only been a week today, and so far even though the wife's been fantastic I'm starting to feel a little down. I'm not going to lie, I think it'll take some doing to pull myself out of this.

Of course, there are positives. I left as soon as possible yesterday and didn't feel a bit bad about it. I was early enough to see the fog still melting off the lakefront path in the afternoon after a day and a half of rain.

Even more rain was on the way though, which I walked to cyclesmithy through in the evening. You know what doesn't help with a bad attitude? Getting a flat on your way home.

Getting visible fog in the shot didn't really make up for the flat later.

This has nothing to do with either losing your job or getting flats, but the wife and I did try a new restaurant over the weekend and for the most part liked it. We went to Tsuki on Fullerton, which is honestly hard to be objective about b/c we're both satisfied with dominick's sushi, let alone dining out. But it was pretty good.I had a mango tuna platter, and she went with garden and tempura rolls. Those are my california rolls in the foreground as well.So what did we find out? That we're not sushi snobs, and sushi's not enough to pull me out of the funk I find myself falling into. Bummer. I think it's time to start drinking more. Always worth a shot.

Current beer-scale: 8.8


go cubs go

So what exactly could drive me to hammer down old style all day Friday other than a cubs game? And with great seats at that. Actually, the seats originally were merely "pretty good," but transitioned to "great" after the first inning when we made it down into the 100 level.
This was seen a lot on Friday.

I frown on scalpers, but after a liter of Strong Boch at Uberstein I was willing to negotiate a little walking around wrigley. Ended up with two 200-level seats for $100 right before first pitch. Made it in to see some parachuters landing before things got started.
Our original seats. Not bad by any stretch.

Eventually we made it down to the 100-level to watch the cubs absolutely creaming the pirates. 10 runs in the second and honestly the rest of the afternoon is kind of a blur. I admit, I feel a little like a douche considering while I was paying attention and appreciating exactly how much of a beatdown the cubs were delivering, I can't help but feel that as fuzzy as memories of the game seem I was "one of those" cubs fans on Friday.
Our new seats. I'm glad I at least have some photographic evidence that I saw this game.

Evidently I was able to text some people, one of which ended up with extra tickets to Saturday's game too so it was back for game two the next day. It was strictly a water day though, to watch a closer 3-1 cubs win. By the time Gregg closed the game I was wishing I was able to think about beer with out feeling queasy.

The bad news, in so far as my general health, was that inbetween games we had plans to go out which resulted in said coconut mojito and mad hatters. The mojito was fantastic, so much so I find myself craving one even as jets still roar by overhead. The drinking's going to settle down for a while though, as the job search becomes priority one.

I'm not sure how much time I've going to devote on the job search here...everyone knows they suck and I'm more interested in how to cope with the process vs. the blood and guts of the process itself. If anything, the bike rides will get longer as I have more anxiety to work off. So hopefully something interesting will happen out there.

Current beer-scale: 4.2



Not at my best this morning, after starting at 11 AM yesterday with a liter of strong boch and not stopping until around 1 AM this morning with mad hatter IPA's. Mix in some wrigley old styles and a coconut mojito w/dinner and it was a fun night, not a great morning. Oh well. I had some steam to blow off.

Current beer-scale: 0.01


Hurm. Found out this morning that my position "will no longer exist as the volunteer programs transitions this November 1st." Actually, my position will still exist, but two part-time people will be doing my job for less of a paycheck combined. Hooray job searching!

Current beer-scale: infinite

coincidence vs trending

Twice in three days, someone's come down a one-way street by the new place the wrong way. Two different people too, b/c they both had very different reactions to my slowing down on the bike to stare at them. One flicked me off and called me a douchebag, one kept driving like he didn't even see me. And he probably didn't. I've had a good run of city-cycling lately, while not really enjoying the shorter commute it's easy enough to stretch for longer rides. It never hurts to have a reminder that people are jerks though.

What's easier, going around the block or seeing a one-way and still turning the wrong way into it anyway? Which is easier, making three lefts or pulling a bitch in the middle of a busy intersection? Which is more important, you getting through a light when you're already late for the cubs game, or not running over pedestrians at the crosswalk? It shouldn't be that difficult to figure out.
Current beer-scale: 8.7


Saturday fun, part II

So with everything ready to go, the question remained: how exactly to hang this bastard somewhere paint wasn't going to get all over something important? I had a few ideas in mind; with the fork still on, I could have locked the stem to the fence and used the fork to prop the frame out from the fence, but that might get into the neighbor's yard. I could have tried newspapering the garage and working there, but the heat was making the trashcans in there smell unbearable. The backyard was the best option, and since I was already wrapping parts in grocery bags and masking tape, why not go all the way and just white-trash it up. Out came the dry-cleaner hangers and gaphers tape. One hanger in the fork's wheel-wells, another around a tree branch and plier-ed into shape. A little more tape, and voila: one bike hanger. Far enough away from the house and deck that I could spray with impunity. Itching to begin, I gave the primer a quick shake and away we went. Now was when I actually started to get nervous about the project. Cleaning Frankenbike, sanding, even hanging, all those things were important but if they hit a snag it was early enough in the project that I could probably think up a way around it to keep the bike ride-able. The paint going on was the point of no return.

Fortunately there was no need to worry. The sanding seemed to do it's job, and the primer held to the bike really well. The entire can ended up on the bike, but by the time it did the bike was pretty much unrecognizable.
First coat on!

I did get a little over-zealous at points, leading to some drippage, but all in all the bike looked really good at this point (I actually liked it better white than I did with the silver on at the end of the day). BTW, the dog loved this project to the point I was a little concerned for her. I couldn't go outside without her each time, and she'd tear ass around the yard, blissfully uncaring about the heat or the sun. She practically collapsed at the end of the day she was so tired. It was great, as long as she's recuperated today.

Primer was on a little heavy at spots.

A little sanding over the drip spots, and it was time to try the silver. All in all, the painting took a little over 2 & 1/2 hours. I waited around 20 minutes between each coat, sometimes longer if I was playing with the dog. 3 primer coats, 2 silver coats, 2 clear coats. A lot of painting.
One of the silver coats; the second I think.

By the end of the day things looked pretty good. I was glad everything seemed to work out, even though I did like the bike better just plain white vs the silver. But now that I know it works, nothing's stopping me from sanding back down and re-applying some white gloss. Things are a little rougher-feeling than I thought they would be with so much clear coat on, we'll see if it requires more clear coat for the paint to stay on the bike and not on my pants. It was probably a little too humid for this yesterday, but some things you just can't control. I can always hope for better weather if I try this again. The real test is an actual ride, out in the elements with clothes rubbing and salt spraying. Hopefully it's a good long time before I get to try that for real.
Paint definitely didn't make the welds look any less awful, but all in all not a bad touch-up.

For now Frankenbike is waiting for reassembly, possibly even a re-christening once everything's back on. We'll see. Suburb days always go longer than expected, so by the time we got back there was only time to get ready for work today and that was about it. Re-assembly is probably tonite, with a pic or two to come. For now, I'm happy basking in yet another hare-brained idea panning out relatively well.

Current beer-scale: 3.0

Saturday fun, part I

Yesterday was the day. Finally, after an absolutely horrific move and spending a week trying to get the place set up, I had a day to sand down Frankenbike and see if I could rattle-can it back to some semblance of inconspicuous winter usability. Off came the stickers, and with a lot of goo gone and a little time it was relatively clean. I didn't realize just how much crap I had on that bike until it was time to take it off. It looked better already at that point; I was sad to part with my surfside sticker though.
With everything cosmetic off, it was time to get down to the frame, or as close as I could get without bothering to get some crank pullers. I ended up leaving the fork on too with the old stem just so I wouldn't lose any parts when it was time to put everything back together. There was a new rattling noise coming from the rear wheel, and when I took a closer look I saw this:
Crap! Not a major problem, but one more thing to take care of before this bike is ready to go again. Teaching myself how to re-spoke a wheel wasn't really on my to do list for the end of summer, but I'll figure something out.

While researching how to best try this project, I read that aluminum, especially the kind used for cheap walmart piece of crap bikes, has a clear coating that makes it resistant to painting. The good news is, that b/c it's on a cheap piece of crap, it's not especially durable coating and sands off really easily. A few quick brushes with a 150 grain block and you're down to the duller-looking aluminum that holds paint fairly well.
And yes, if I was lazy enough to stop short of getting down to only the frame, I was also cheap enough to just wrap everything in grocery bags and masking tape and hope that was good enough. The seat post came out as well once I figured out how to hang the damn thing somewhere I wouldn't get spray paint all over the in-laws deck or house. More on that in the next post.

First, a quick tangent here on the city vs. the 'burbs. It's impossible to purchase any kind of spray paint in the city, or at least in the four shops in lincoln park and lakeview where I looked. Of course this is a graffiti deterrent and not something I'm going to get all worked up about. There really isn't anywhere too conducive to spray painting a project in my building anyway, so one way or another this project was heading to the burbs. It does make me wonder just how people do end up getting spray paint in the city though, especially when there seems to be more and more of it in my neighborhood. I was also wondering if anyone was desperate enough to buy my left-overs. If I hung out in an alley with a trench-coat filled with half-full spray paint cans, would it be better or worse than someone selling drugs? Would my paint be too lame for someone to graffiti with? Would someone be that selective? Just the things I wonder when I have to go the suburbs to buy something, and then still have to flash id. Anyway, here's what I ended up with:
A primer, silver metallic finish, and clear coat to top things off. I also researched the best paints to use, and though there wasn't consensus these seemed to be solid bets. Also, the most important tool of all, my beer. It was 90 degrees yesterday, of course I was drinking. It mixed with the paint fumes nicely.
Still to come: shots of the first primer coat, the metallic finish, and final thoughts on the project so far. Good times!


Coolest. shirt. ever.


Current beer-scale: 8.6