headaches of a different color

Ugh. Five strong beers at Goose Island last night and I am not happy with the shape of my brain today.

Which is great, b/c I'm about to spend 7 hours driving to Saint Ignace tomorrow for a funeral. So I'm practicing sitting around feeling like crap so I'm used to it by the time I can come home Tuesday night.

But home might be different soon. We're closing in on getting a contract done on a condo we're crazy about. The thought alone of buying a place and getting ready to move is driving my stomach even crazier than trying to hold down an Italian sandwich today after all the beer last night. It's been a good news/bad news situation all weekend.

Current beer-scale: 1.3


Thank you to whatever power out there decided not to drop an extra 5-9 inches of snow on us last night. I was nearly despairing but awoke this morning to the sun struggling and succeeding to break through the clouds and a ride that was incident and ice-free. I appreciated it.

Current beer-scale: Friday 9.1


It's not fair. If we get 5 more inches of snow tonite I think I'll lose my mind. Thunder & lightning during some hail I can handle, multiple inches of new snow I cannot. The snowiest Feb in 115 years of recorded Chicago weather history? I'd rather not be around for that, thank you.
Via wgn.tv

I can even handle gas hitting $5 a gallon, not that I give a shit. But another week of snow getting packed on un-shoveled sidewalks and alleys and intersections will have me drinking copiously. Dammit, this week started with so much potential. I hate February.

Current beer-scale: 9.3


Back to it

Holy crap that was rough. Maybe it was just getting back after the extra day off, maybe it was the fresh snow, maybe it was the tensioned chain, but that was a tough commute this morning.

More likely it was a combo of all three, but man was that extra day off sweet. After a nap the chain tensioner went on frankenbike easy. It screwed into the derailleur hanger behind the drop out and there's a spring running the inside length of the tensioner arm that keeps it taunt against the chain. It was that simple; screw it in and fit the pulley arm to the chain line. I was slightly dubious but maybe things will work well enough to squeeze some extra life out of the bike.

I was still dubious riding in this morning; between the taunt chain and crappy snow I felt wiped out before I even got to Lincoln. I was panting like a dog almost the entire way in. At least the snow is stopping by now. Conditions were not in my favor this AM.

The dog enjoyed it though; after yesterday she kept giving me looks like she was wondering what we were going to do today. Unfortunately it was back to the routine for everyone, not just me.

Current beer-scale: 3.2


Home for a day

I hit the point at work last month were I can finally take vacation, so I'm spending an extra day home this weekend. Good timing too, since there's a Supernatural marathon on, I have some bike maintenance to do, and we're going out with the realtor tonite.

Going out tonite meant getting the dog good and tired. Like any good day off that meant heading to the beach in the morning. It was completely hellish, or at least it was for me. Windy, wet, cloudy, still icy but loud as the waves tried to wash it away. She had a blast and is now sleeping like a log on the couch.

Thankfully I ordered the bike part for the maintenance I want to do early enough that it got here before today since there's no mail service. But I wanted to add a cheap chain tensioner so hopefully frankenbike makes it through the rest of the crappy weather. A new chain and better gear ratio would go a long way towards long way towards a longer-term solution but would also cost more than $20 and require a lot more work. A tensioner means screwing something on and putting the chain on. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

As one last shot, here's the dog during dinner last night. Yes that is a drool bubble she's blowing. Nice.

Current beer-scale: 4.2 and lazy


A 50 degree morning meant no winter gear, and also got me curious as to the shape that the lakefront path is in. Thinking that it was an easy way to avoid the greater number of bikers out due to the great weather, I indulged my curiosity and headed straight to the path this morning.

Oops. That might not have been the brightest idea. Beyond having to navigate police saw horses, there were huge chunks of asphalt gone with big drops to concrete underneath. Those lines on the path to the right in the pic aren't patches, those are huge craters. Past that, the beach had attempted to swallow the path where it was still whole, making the entire area flush with sand. So conditions were shit, but there wasn't that much ice out even though the path didn't seem to be in one piece. There was even a single-file area by the oak street beach s-curve that you could bike on. It was right under LSD and I swear I was getting road splash dripped on me, but it was passable.

Even in those shit conditions it was worth riding. Thankfully the Chicago underpass stairs were relatively snow-free. As I was moving the police barrier blocking those stairs, it did strike me that there were more bikers on the path than I expected. And they were probably out there all winter while I was taking a shorter route through the neighborhood. And by horning in on their space in the nicer weather, I had become just the sort of extra biker I can't stand while I take side streets and extra people start to show up.

That made me laugh. Which is good, b/c once I got to the office the day turned to complete shit. But that's what I signed up for, and everyone has a right to freak out every once in a while.

Current beer-scale: 9.4


Wow what a difference a weekend makes. It hit 50 degrees yesterday, and was in the high thirties this morning as I left. Who cares if wind made that feel closer to 25. That was a wet, warm ride in conditions that were a lot better than they have been for a while. Keep that snow melting.

Of course people commuting in cars feel the same joy, and their exuberance spills into the bike lane with little to no warning. When you know this ahead of time it's not difficult to keep an extra eye out for it, as well as all the extra bikers out.

My favorite guy this morning went to pull into the bike lane to skip a line of traffic at one of the stop signs on Wells and take a right. I braked but he saw me just as he was heading out so he stayed in his lane for a minute. Didn't use a turn signal, didn't look before he made his move, but at least he stayed in the lane until I passed. The whole thing took about 2 seconds, but it was worth noting b/c after I braked he gave me the "c'mon, let's go" hand circles that I give people that have annoyed me in traffic. If he had spent that energy putting on a blinker instead I don't think we would have had any kind of issue. Whatever. It was warm enough for me to laugh about it this morning.

Current beer-scale: 4.2


And that's how I plan on spending my friday night. Fantastic.

Current beer-scale: 8.8

There should always be time for lube.

Unfortunately, I'm sometimes a little more lax than I should be about maintenance. Especially during the winter, which is stupid b/c that's when you need it the most. Otherwise:

Yeah, that's not a good shade of rust orange for your chain to be. But I ran out of teflon spray a few weeks ago and it's been too snowy and cold to bother with an extra trip to get new supplies. What the hell, the bike is already junk but it's riding alright. It hasn't felt like it was going to fall apart out from under me in a long time.

But a new Running Away shop opened on Clybourn after the blizzard, and the wife convinced me to stop in there the other night while we were out picking up dinner. They're not bike-centric but they at least had some lube so I could do some basic work last night. Hence:

That's a slightly healthier color for a chain. Slightly. I'd still like to think I could keep an eye out for a cheap ride in better shape at the winter cycle swap at the end of the month, but looking for a house and looking for a bike seem to be at odds. At least I can still buy whiskey when I want to.

Current beer-scale: 8.9


At least I remembered to double-sock

WGN had the temp even lower when I left this morning, but however far below zero it was I was still in less actual pain on my bike than I was on the train yesterday. Between stuffing my flat feet into uncomfortable boots and jamming onto a train with no room to move, every time I take the train pain starts radiating up from my feet until I can stumble out at my stop.

No such drama on the bike, at least not after I was able to get the door unfrozen. Last winter the deadbolt froze in place and I had to jump out the window and kick the door in after taking the hinges off. That actually collapses the inside doorknob a bit but the lock still worked. Until this morning, when I went to take the dog out before I left and couldn't unlock the door at all. Eventually I got it open with some pliers to turn the bolt, but I doubt we'll be locking the door at all for the next few days. Hopefully since the wife is home sick again I can get inside at the end of the day.

Even better, I have delicious rye whiskeys to drink when the day is over. As long as I can make it to that point, everything should be gravy. Good times.

Current beer-scale: a frigid 8.2


More arctic air just hit the city and drove temps below zero. I'm staying late at work tonite for an open house and have taken the train for my last two days' worth of commutes. We put a list-price bid on a short-sale only to hear back that the seller had just signed off on a bid that was $15K less than our offer. It's been a shitty couple of days.

Thankfully, I bought more rye on my way home last night and immediately took a shot once I was inside. Took another one after hearing about the short-sale, took a nyquil & went to bed. Can't wait to do the same tonite after figuring out what to do for dinner.

Current beer-scale: 6.1


So don’t tell the wife, but I had a bit of a run in w/a cab on the way home tonite. And by run in, I mean getting rubbed into a parked car as the cabbie tried to turn Clybourn into a two-lane street w/his eyes closed. Thanks to all the snow on the street my braking became a skid, and I ended up jammed against the parked car and the cab. There was actually more damage to the parked suv than me; frankenbike took the brunt of the collision as it got wedged between the two cars. Somehow none of me got wedged between the bike or either car. I was so surprised I wasn't hurt I barely managed to tell the cabbie to be more careful in the future. Whew! With more snow in the forecast and below zero temps coming, I think this might be a good time to take a break from the bike commute for a couple of days.

Current beer-scale: a shaken 8.9


What was I rooting for last night?

Overtime and Aaron Rodgers getting concussed. OT b/c Papa Johns was giving away free large pizzas to everyone signed up for their rewards program if the game went into extra time, and the concussion b/c I'm a poor sport and can't stand Green Bay.

Oh well. You can't win 'em all.

At least I won traffic this morning; left late, still made it in by 8:20. Even with fresh snow out, not too shabby.

Current beer-scale: 2.1



Yeah it still sucks out there.

Worse, I feel like I sprained my knee last night out with the dog and it's killing me right now. Riding to work probably didn't help but christ almighty is it sore.

The best part of the morning (other than calling 311 to get that fucking abandoned car towed when I finally got to work) was seeing someone else yelling at a car in the bike lane going down Wells and giving her a "well said" as I went by. That was fun, but I still can't wait to call it a week and have some drinks while I collapse on the couch with a compression bandage and some ice. Fantastic.

Current beer-scale: 5.3


Dug out, at least a little

Snow days are even more fun as an adult.
Had a chance to sleep in, managed to dig our way out of our snowed-in walkway to take the dog out, had enough food to make it through the day and have awesome steaks for dinner plus drinks--I'll take an adult snow day over a kid's snow day anytime.

That was what the alley behind our place looked like yesterday morning. Snow past my knees but after digging through a four-foot drift in our walkway that seemed like a piece of cake. The dog loved it.

If it weren't for the dog I don't think we would have even left the house at all yesterday. We even took a pretty fantastic nap around 3:30. Sounds like the perfect day to wrap up with some steaks.
I hate this time of year but if I could spend a few more days like that I'd be much happier with February. Today it's back to business, expect for the idiot who left a car abandoned in the middle of our street for the past 36 hours.Yes it's not plowed and the car couldn't go anywhere anyway, but it's not going to get better with a car in the middle of the street either. The snow isn't going to magically disappear, especially when it's below zero now. The alley actually looks better than the street at this point; people realized some ass had left a car out and with everyone shoveling out their garage, it's actually easier to drive up the alley than Greenview. That was how I carried the bike up to Fullerton this morning.

And yeah, I was back on the bike b/c the train sucks balls and I'm not the brightest. It wasn't too bad, except Wells and Division were slushier than I expected and it was damn cold. Still better than the train though.

Current beer-scale: 1.1


The nerds know what I'm talking about

Yeah, that sucked.

The blizzard hit about an hour early, and when the office closed I wasted two bucks trying to take the train home. I lasted three trains worth but by that point I knew I was screwed. There were more people on the platform after the third train left than before the first train I couldn't fit onto got to the station, with more and more people continuing to stream in.

I'm impatient with the CTA under best case scenarios, and a blizzard freaking everyone out is far from that. So I headed upstairs to walk home. It wasn't that bad, other than the fact that about halfway home, I looked up into whiteout conditions and with the furry hood on my snorkel jacket felt like I was looking out at the ice planet Hoth. This pic is from early on, before the wind started to kick up more.

Slogging along for an hour didn't help either. Nor did the fact that my phone was iced over after answering a call and trying to take a few more pictures to the point of literally freezing up and being useless. That made me unhappy. But ultimately the fact that I made the 4+ mile walk in almost exactly an hour isn't too shabby. I even had the energy to stop and pick up a pizza, beer, and ice cream. You know, emergency supplies. Some people buy shovels, I buy pies.

Once home, the dog didn't care I had just spent an hour walking home. She just wanted to head out into the mess. That lasted about two blocks, and then she was covered in snow and looking for the quickest way home. Ah, the storm of the century. Good times.

Please just let me inside Daddy, you can take the picture on the couch

If my phone thaws by tomorrow morning we'll see what kind of pictures a night of constant snowfall gets us. 10 foot drifts, a few inches an hour, should be interesting.

Current beer-scale: 8.1 & nothing but time


Holy crap. I was listening to Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 this morning and Mark Giangreco came on joking about today's blizzard forecast and the superbowl of meteorology. His line about WGN's venerable Tom Skilling:

"Skilling's so excited he's pointing to Canada without his hands!"

Wow. A boner joke about Tom Skilling on mid-day radio. Out-fucking-standing. That made all the crap we're about to go through totally worth it.

Current beer-scale: 7.1