Monday, January 28, 2013

Almost done with add-ons for Big Blue!

"Big Blue", the cow-catcher, and me.
You read right, folks!  I recently added a massive Wald 157 front basket to Big Blue.  It's been awesome on one hand and kind of a burden (no pun intended) on the other.  Starting from a dead stop can be a pain in the ass and having to slow down to a crawl on campus avoiding people vacuously gawping at their iDoohickey is a major hassle since I start to lose balance and front wheel goes all wobbly.  Riding home from the grocery store with a full load (front and back) on Nacogdoches' crappy sidewalks isn't terrible (except for the tools who pull out too far forward in drive ways with their giant gas guzzlers).  My bike has gotten significantly heavier as well, which I don't mind too terribly truth be told.  I also have to figure out where to put my front light, since the handlebars are no longer a viable option.  If I try to rig it to the basket I can't get the correct angle to illuminate the road, if I have it on the handlebars the light gets dispersed by the basket itself.  I've seen some DIY LED tire lights which seem kind of cool but I'm not sure I want ground effects on Big Blue (Not really my style).

On the plus side, having this much cargo space allows me to haul a lot of groceries or whatever junk I need.  The added weight makes the bike ride like a tank.  I feel like I get a smoother cruise and if I'm zipping down Mound St (at a breakneck 15mph, lookout!) I get no front shimmy or vibrations.  Sure I have to take wider turns but I'm used to that already.  Oddly enough the added weight has made me a little bit more comfortable with biking in traffic, not much but a little.

I only have a few more items to buy for the bike but the big stuff is out of the way.  I found a cool upright bell and some cork grips (the foam grips I have get disgusting with sweat, I can't imagine how foul they will be come August).  I permanently mounted my back light a few weeks ago (I felt pretty proud of myself even though it was fairly simple).  Found a pretty awesome Two-Tone checkered helmet.  Also came across a company that makes bike decals so I might get some made up.  Went to the doctor today (nothing serious, just getting more pills) and I've lost almost ten pounds (I had to laugh and say, "Where?" It's the first time I've been below 200lb in years) and my blood pressure is getting significantly lower than the "How are you not dead?!?" stage.  I am also proud to admit that I've barely been using first gear, except for one or two of the hills around campus.  I mainly keep it in third and use second for some inclines.  Damn it, am I getting in shape?

So give me a wave (or don't hit me with your car or honk at me) if you see me out and about.  I might look angry but that's my concentrating face (unless some troglodyte in a motor vehicle agitates me because they don't know how to commit to a turn or use turn signals or are texting while eating a bowl of cereal and fixing their hair or honk at me when I'm stopped at an intersection, in that case I'm probably angry).  Ride safe and be well.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Amarr delenda est.

The Ghost Town is dead!  Long live Ghost Town II!

Yesterday was kind of an insane day on EVE for me.  I put in an epic eighteen hour game marathon.  Granted most of that time was spent in transit as I traversed all over the core systems doing inventory control, resource consolidation, and hearing elevator music in my head as I schlepped across the void.  Most of my time was uneventful and I think I might have gotten over my fears of some parts of lowsec.  Lowsec is like a bad neighborhood, as long as you move with purpose and don't attract any attention to yourself then you should okay.  I made a decent amount of profit and mapped out some skills to work on over the next few months.

I also made one of my biggest EVE-fails in my career.  I flew into Amarr highsec with a terrible rating, that is I have such a low security rating with the Amarr that the fuckers have a "shoot on sight" order for me.  Should have been something I had thought of considering how much enmity I feel towards those laser slinging shit-heel slavers.  But no, I was bopping along, ready to take care of an easy storyline mission.  Get to the mission site and there are a bunch of Amarr Navy ships, including two battleships.  I was instantly gang-banged.  Unfortunately I was flying my favorite ship, the Ishtar Ghost Town.  Yes, my favorite ships are named after songs by The Specials (and Big Trouble in Little China). As a Gallente drone boat I often have trouble with Amarr high level ships - primarily because they use a large amount of capacitor neutralizers and generally are a pain in the ass.  So Ghost Town went pop, fortunately NPCs don't podkill, and in a rookie ship I was able to snake most of my cargo and and remaining mods from the wreck.  It amuses me that the last time I lost a ship (over a year ago) it was an Ishtar to the Amarr Navy.

On the upside I was smart enough to have insurance (thank god) and since I've been making solid bank I had a pair of similarly fit Ishtars back at home base.  I've been attempting to set up my regularly visited stations with ships I regularly use so I don't have to fly there and back again just to pick up stuff.  It's an arduous, expensive, endeavor but has made life a little easier so far.  One thing I want to do is have a slew of  specialty combat fit ships available to just hop into instead of swapping gear out every time.

Amusing aside:  I was wrapping up stuff for the night and I decided to pick up one last mission.  As I was in transit to the AO I got that feeling:

Frost: Man, I'm telling you, I got a bad feeling about this drop. 
Crowe: You always say that, Frost. You always say, "I got a bad feeling about this drop." 
Frost: Okay, okay. When we get back without you, I'll call your folks. 
Share this quote

Now friends, in EVE when I get that feeling, I'm 95% right.  Something bad is gonna happen.  But, like the horror movie moron who walks into a dark room to investigate a noise I decided to check out the mission and then bop to the closest station.  I fly in, align to station because there's a nest of drones making angry noises at me, and I'm gonna bug out and deal with it later aaaaaannnnndddd Windows decides that's the best time to update and reset.  I sounded my barbaric FUCK across the rooftops of the world.  Oh, and I was flying Ghost Town II.  That's right, my new Ishtar was left alone.  Five minutes later, I'm sweating bullets and talking to my Ishtar, telling her I'm on my way, just hold together, trying to sweet talk Lady Luck, and I'm back in.  She was at half shields but holding strong.  I realigned to station and put the pedal to the metal.  Swear to God I might have actually cried if I lost a ship like that after the day I'd had.  "NEVER GET OFF THE GODDAMN BOAT, MAN!"

In other EVE news:

Capsuleer Stranglelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Mining.  The Venture is one of my favorite ships in EVE and I've been able to make some decent money just by piddling around cleaning up rocks in mission areas or mining while hanging out with people.  I wouldn't make a career out of it but it gives me something easy to do.  It also gives me some time so actually look at some of the environments, which are easy to miss when you're just out kicking ass.

*cue Muzak version of "Girl From Ipanema"*

Hope all of you are well and in good spirits.

In closing here's one of my favorite pictures of Ghost Town and Amarr delenda est.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Bicycle madness! Planning for DIY madness!

Yeah, I've bike madness again.  For the last few days I've been skulking around bike sites, torturing myself with Brooks gear, Republic Bikes, and the WorkCycles Monark Truck.  However I don't have a couple of thousand bucks to spend so I'm also poking around and a couple of other DIY places.  I checked out Donkey Boxx but they look kind of cheap.  So I'm on the hunt for something that rings my bell (which reminds me I should buy a bell for my bike...fuck).

Currently jerry-rigged on my 2011 Simple 3 rear rack are a pair of Wald 582 Folding Baskets but frankly they kind of annoy me for some weird reason.  They seem big enough but when I go to the grocery store they don't hold all that much and they look kind of crappy.  Granted the ones I bought were gathering dust in the back of The Bike Shop (awesome staff, super helpful) and they put them on my bike.  Functional but not exactly stylin' and profilin'.  Granted ain't nobody gonna steal them either (plus the guy at the shop used spoke wire to secure the baskets).

So what's the plan, Stan?

Welp, after finding some instructables about DIY'ing Army/Navy surplus bags into panniers I figure that might be an interesting way to expand carrying capability as well as giving my ride some style.  I was digging around on Uncle Sam's Army/Navy Outfitters and found a number of possibilities.  I'm definitely going to pick up one of these:

Only $28 - which compared to other stuff is cheeeeeeeap.
I was given a bike multi-tool (thanks AmazonButterfly!) for Christmas and with my lights and a couple of other odds and ends I normally carry in my messenger bag it'd be nice to have a place to stash that crap.  I also found some massive (15"x15"-5") Musette Bags I could use as new panniers with minimal DIY involved.

Upon returning home today, I rummaged around in a closet and found my old green mechanics bag which I think could be monkeyed with to make a trunk bag.  I was thinking of getting a saddle bag but with my seat where it is I doubt that's an option.  I figure I could put some grommets in the bottom of the bag and secure it  with some bungee cords.

I'm also looking at taking one of my wooden wine boxes and mounting it on the front of Big Blue.

Yay!  Stock model Big Blue!  Man, I put some damage on my paint job...

I found a decent article about rigging a crate to a bike on ridingpretty.  The thing is I'm considering getting another Wald basket for the front (if not a Wald then a Basil) if only to: A) not have to piss about with removing my rear baskets and B) keep a uniform look to my bike.  Plus DIY is much easier if you actually have the right tools.

In any case the Giant Simple 3 is a great bike for just tootling around town a couple of miles a day (4-5).  I've noticed a few problems as a rider though.  It's just a wee bit big for me (I'm 5'6" in my big boy shoes) and the top bar hits my jimmy and my feet barely touch the ground when I'm waiting for a stoplight.  In Nacogdoches there are a lot of hills and while I've gotten used to most of them I wish I had gone for a seven speed to help power up some of the inclines (fuck you West College St).  I suppose it's one of those cases of getting into something as a n00b and a couple of months in you realize that you should have spent the extra money for what you really wanted from the get-go.  C'est la vie.

That being said, if you're thinking about getting back on a bike, want something reliable (not some cheap piece of shit from Walmart), fuckin' sturdy (Big Blue is a freaking tank even after my crash and banging into stuff), and fun to ride (yeah, so I make airplane noises sometimes when I'm cruising down hills) then I whole-heartedly recommend this bike.

Ride safe my friends and keep the fun between your legs.

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