Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Life update

I have some work I need to do here at home, but had a technical malfunction that is temporarily halting the process. I'm waiting for a fix that I hope will come through any minute, so thought I would kill a little time by telling you about some things that nobody could possibly care about.

1. Poker has been going great, though, unfortunately for the blog, without much good story material. August and September were two of my most profitable months in a long time. Which is nice, after having just made the biggest expenditure of my six years in Vegas....

2. I brought the new car home Friday and sold the old one Sunday. It was sad to say good-bye to the car that has taken me everywhere for the last 20 years, but overall I know that it's a change for the better. The new one doesn't have the speed or the handling of the old one--to say nothing of its character and memories--but it wins hands-down in economy, reliability, flexibility, and practicality. That's a trade that I finally not only became willing to make, but realized that I had to make.

Here it is, just before I drove it home from the dealership:

3. My bike rides have gradually been getting longer and more ambitious. Today, for instance, I went 13.3 miles, starting at--get this--7:29 a.m.! The old Honda could not carry a bicycle unless you first ran it through a metal shredder, but the new one accommodates it easily. This means that I will no longer be restricted to rides that start and end at my apartment building, which will allow me to branch out and explore more interesting rides than are accessible from downtown. This consideration was, in fact, one of the final things that pushed me off of a couple of years of teetering indecision and to the new-car purchase. I'm enjoying my rides, and don't want to be confined to what's immediately around where I live.

4. I found a great Android app for my phone: Velodroid. For $3.09 it elegantly handles GPS tracking of bicycle rides. With a couple of clicks, you can then upload the resulting data to the free RideWithGPS.com site, which spits out lovely, detailed graphic/numeric analyses like this:

That strip along the bottom doesn't need to look so cluttered; for this screen shot I had it overlay elevation, speed, and grade, which makes it too busy, but you can look at any one or two of those parameters at a time. Moreover, you can mouse along that strip and a blue dot retraces your route on the map while you get a read on the elevation, speed, and grade at that point. Very cool. Yes, there are free apps that do basically the same thing, but I tried a couple of them and found them unintuitive or maddening or unreliable or otherwise badly designed. Velodroid is easy to use. It does everything I want and basically has no extra complicating, cluttering features that I don't want. It's damn near perfect. 

5. I am a mechanical dunce. Nothing about the way things work comes easily to me. Nothing is obvious. I'm about as quick a study as you'll ever meet in nearly anything I put my mind to, but the workings of machines is a glaring exception. So when I tell you that I have now learned how to remove the wheels from my bike, remove and replace the tires, and get the wheels back on (including that tricky rear derailleur), you might think, "So what? Most 10-year-olds can manage that." But I'm telling you that for me this is a major accomplishment, which took way more hours and boneheaded mistakes and false starts than a supposedly smart person should require. I started with the most highly recommended guide book on bicycle maintenance and repair (this one), but found that even with its dumbed-down approach, it assumed more basic mechanical competence than I possessed. So I gritted my teeth at the insulting title and purchased this one, which has helped, though incredibly I still need some things spelled out in more painstaking detail than either book does. Sigh. It's hard being stupid. 

6. My friend PokerLawyer sent me a copy of Maus, which, I'm now embarrassed to say, I don't think I had ever heard of before. That's embarrassing because I have come to understand what an important piece of art/literature it is. I don't know how it escaped my attention all these years. Mine is a "complete" edition that P.L. bought while in Germany, and which does not appear to be available in the U.S., unless I'm overlooking something. I finished reading it night before last. It's terribly sad and painful, but at the same time amazing to see what horrors people can survive. The elder Spiegelman's resourcefulness is really astonishing. At various times, he only escaped being sent to the ovens because of being able to speak English, or translate between Polish and German, or mend shoes the way he had observed professional cobblers doing, or garner favors with police or guards, or because he had made previous social connections that he could exploit. It's a story that would be important to tell in any medium, but his son's choice of a graphic novel with the characters drawn as animals somehow makes it feel more universal, even though it's obviously a unique set of experiences. 

7. Remember this adorable little thing? It now hangs from the rear-view mirror of my new car. It's not like I really need googahs to make me think often of Cardgrrl, but it nevertheless gives me pleasure to have this tangible reminder of her affection in my field of vision.

8. I saw this license plate Sunday and liked it: 

9. For old times' sake, here a "Guess the Casino" picture for you from a session Saturday night: 

Well, the techno-fix I had hoped would come is not going to, so I'm throwing in the towel on any more work from home for the day. Off to the tables. I hope that I can bring home not only the mobneys, but a good tale or two to share. 


Dr. Hood said...

no cardgurl update?

NerveEnding said...

I read Maus in college. Very good read in a very unusual format. My understanding is that in the U.S. it was split into two parts because they wanted to get the first part out before the Feivel movies because they didn't want people to connect the two.

Sauza said...

I meant to turn you on to an app I found recently. It is MapMyRide+ on android. I have the free version to may motorcycle routes, but it is built for bicycle riders. Pretty neat app that includes your distance, calories burned and more.

I tested it the other day with a ride to work. I traveled 8.8 miles in 18:03 minutes, average speed 29.26mph, and burned 675 calories :)