Monday, February 6, 2017

When the Darkness Clears


Been riding my bike everyday for months now. It is now my primary mode of transportation. I used to be a very avid walker, I've written about it here, but now I ride more than I walk.

There are a lot of reasons for it. Mostly because I love to ride. I love the freedom of being outside, the freedom of the open road, being completely self-powered and self-contained, and not contributing any pollution. I hate being in confined spaces. And I absolutely hate riding the city bus. But I also love saving money, and walking is too slow. Therefore, a bicycle is the perfect fit for me.

For the first time in my life I am now a full-time bicycle commuter. I average about 50 miles a week. And that's not for recreation, that's entirely commuting to work and running errands. I ride my bike every single day of the year, rain or shine, daytime and nighttime, in temperatures below freezing and temperature way above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

I've been a cyclist all my life, but until recently it was mostly just for recreation, as I usually walked or took the bus to work and school, never road the bike more than maybe a few times for those purposes, but now I do it every day, and have no plans of stopping. Been doing it for six months now and so I've been putting a lot more wear and tear on my bike. Finally reached the 3000 mile mark on my odometer, which means 3000 miles on both my chain and tires, and so finally retired them. Got new ones, new chain, new tires, and installed them myself. It was the first time I ever replaced my own chain. Was quite the adventure, thank goodness for YouTube! Because I would have been lost otherwise.

Very happy with my bike. The original tires were Continental Top Touring 2000, only got one flat tire, and that wasn't until 2000 miles. Wonderful tires, but they stopped making that particular model, so this time after careful research went with the Schwalbe Marathon tires, which are supposed to be the best, virtually puncture proof, but got a flat tire the first 20 miles. Can you believe it? Well to be fair, it was a long screw, and the conditions were wet, and think it probably would have caused a flat tire no matter what kind of tire you were using. It was just bad luck, happened on the way to work too, so that sucked. But fortunately was only about a half a mile away, so just walked it, and fixed it after work. Nothing like fixing a flat tire in the dark on a cold rainy night, with a mini pump that I soon learned couldn't reach the high pressure my tires needed. Still it got me home, and I quickly ordered a new pump, a Topeak road morph with built in pressure gauge. Haven't had to use it yet for an actual new tube replacement, but tested it out, and is at least better than the other one. I also never leave home without two spare tubes, not just one, like I used to, because there's nothing worse than being stranded in the dark on a cold and rainy night miles away from home all because you forgot to pack a spare tube. How about fixing a flat tire, but getting another flat, but not having another spare? Not something I want to experience. That's why it pays to be prepared.

Oh yeah, I almost forget. Since I got new tires, which I installed around January 1st, I also replaced my cycling computer/odometer with an inexpensive Cat Eye one. My old one still worked, but the mounting hardware was falling apart, held together by Gorilla Tape, so I figured it would be fun to start out with a clean slate of zero miles for my new tires and chain.

Well guess what, everything was going smoothly until last night some piece of shit stole it off of my bike, by forcibly breaking it off. But see the computer is no good without the sensors, which they left on the bike, the only thing its good for without it is a clock. So it was completely a senseless act of destruction. Either the idiot didn't know that the computer was useless without the sensors, or it was not so much an act of theft, but an act of vandalism. Now I'm worried the piece of shit is targeting my bike, and is going to try to steal it too, so am now going to carry two u-locks, instead of just one.

I do lock my bike very well, use three locks, a cable for my rear rack and frame, a good u-lock for my frame and rear wheel, but only used a cable for my front tire, now I'm worried they may cut that to steal the front wheel, so like I said now I'm going to have to bring a second u-lock. My secondary u-lock isn't as good as my primary one, but it's better than the cable. But will plan on investing in a more expensive second lock within the next few weeks. I'm leaning towards a Kryptonite Mini Evolution to be used strictly as secondary security to lock the front wheel to frame. My bike isn't even that valuable, it's almost 15 years old now, but I've kept it in really good condition, and except for a few scratches, and sloppy touch-ups using blue nail polish that doesn't quite match, it looks almost like new. So people that don't know, such as the piece of shits that steal a cycling computer that they've made unusable by destroying the mount and not taking the sensors, may assume it's more valuable than it actually is.

Anyway, despite the minor setback, all is well. As in all things I've complained about and lamented about over the years, both here and elsewhere, I feel that all the hardships I've endured have only made me stronger. As they say, all life is a school, you learn just as much from the good times as you learn from the bad times, and sometimes it seems like the worst of times are actually the most educational, but no matter how bad things seem to get, if you get through it in one piece, things are bound to get better in time. If nothing else maybe you'll see that you've gained the perspective of what it means to feel tragedy and what it means to feel hope materialized into the reality of prosperity and peace, and you realize that no matter how bad things had been, and still can be, when the darkness clears you'll see that once again all is well.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust


Here lies two souls no longer among us in their physical form as we once new them. Here's my cat, at around 15 years old, approximately one month before he died, and about a month after my grandma died. And here's my grandma, 89 years old, her cremains in a box within the purple bag behind my cat.

My cat gravitated to that spot, don't know if he sensed her remains were there, or not, but they were good buddies, and he'd often sit beside her behind the sofa, her head behind him just like this in a similar position to the purple bag that contains her ashes.

I think her death, and the trauma of moving abruptly to unfamiliar surroundings, twice within a couple of weeks, helped to do him in. I thought he'd live to be 30, just as I thought my grandma would live to be 100, but it was not to be.

What did I learn from the whole ordeal? Well, I'm definitely still processing it. It wounded me to a significant extent, and it will probably be quite some time before I'm fully healed, if ever. It was definitely a life changing experience, and will most likely never be the same.

I learned a lot about the devastating effects of stroke, that some people don't get better, they get progressively worse,  and that when a person loses the ability to swallow, their not going to be around much longer.

I also learned that having high blood sugar and high blood pressure make you more likely to have a stroke. I learned to pay closer attention to the sodium content of foods. Like for instance, before when reading the nutrition labels of food, I focused mostly on calories and fat and sugar, and totally overlooked the sodium content.

I knew that canned foods, ramen noodles and microwave dinners are notorious for being high sodium, but I didn't realize that there are many foods that are high in sodium that I never would have suspected. For instance, two staples of my diet turned out to be sort of high sodium, which is burritos and pasta sauce. But at the same time, even though flour tortillas and pasta sauce are typically high sodium items, there is a big difference between brands, some being a couple hundred milligrams of sodium less than the other, so it pays to compare labels.

You've got to watch out for those hidden sources of sodium, because a lot of products advertise that they are low calorie, low fat, low sugar, but if you don't read the fine print you might miss the fact that the sodium content may be actually extremely high. Making it not as healthy of a choice than you originally may have been lead to believe.

I also learned that stress can be a major contributor to high blood pressure.

I saw and experienced first hand how being extremely stressed out, angry and upset, crying, worrying, raises blood pressure. I believe that was a significant factor in my grandmothers decline. And I could see that if I don't get a handle on managing my stress better I too will surely develop problems in spite of doing most everything else right. I could be extremely fit, living a very active lifestyle, eating healthfully, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, but if I'm stressed out more often than not, I too could have a stroke.

I learned something about what causes death, but I still am processing the meaning of death. The way I see it, death is the greatest mystery. I've seen it up close and personal this time, more personal than I've ever experienced it before, and I still don't understand it any better. If anything, the mystery is even more mysterious, to see someone I cared for immensely completely disappear off of the face of the earth. To be here one day, and then gone the next, and never to be seen again as long as I walk this earth.

Though I do believe in reincarnation, I am not absolutely certain I will see my grandmother again, or anyone I know in this present life once they or I die. I'm just trying to wrap my mind around it, the more I think about it it doesn't really make any sense, it's like an unsolvable cosmic riddle, and I suppose that is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tribal Mask Inspiration


I found this beetle walking around outside the front door of my new apartment in late June during the monsoon season. Haven't seen anything like it since, but it sure caught my eye. It still does.

The pattern on its body reminds me of some kind of tribal mask, from either Polynesia or Africa. I'm seeing a little bit of a Tiki head sculpture in it too. I'm thinking their tribal masks were probably inspired by something like this.

It's pretty cool. If you happen to know the name of this beetle please add it in the comments, I'd sure appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Update

It's the last day of the month, and it's been over two months since my last update. Things have been hard. I lost my grandmother and never fully realized just how much she meant to me until she was gone. I experienced extreme sadness and anger, went from crying nearly everyday, sometimes spontaneously out in public when I saw someone who reminded me of her, to completely disowning and wishing certain family members dead who I feel played a major role in her demise.

But life goes on, I lost my grandmother three months ago, and also my beautiful black cat of 15 years died last month, exactly two months and one day to the day after my grandma, and that was very sad as well, but after all the chaos and uncertainty, once again I have finally reached a period of stability in my life.

I am no longer crying, no longer feeling angry with my relatives, and am no longer facing homelessness. I found a good paying job. I have an apartment in my own name. It's true I don't have any substantial savings, but I'm making enough to fully support myself, and my long-term career prospects are looking good. The only thing is I don't yet have internet service at home, but hope to get that set up within the next couple of months, maybe in time for Halloween. So I won't have much of an opportunity to post here until then. But just wanted to give this update to let you all know that I'm still alive and still planning on blogging here and hope to resume posting regularly again just as soon as time permits.

That is all. Thank you for reading. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Life in Limbo

This is where I lived for two weeks, downtown with the wicked witch of the Southwest.




All three pictures were taken from the balcony, this was the view I saw everyday from the seventh floor. Those are government buildings. And the one in the back is the tallest building in the city, at I think 27 stories.



I thought I would be here longer, but as fate had it, it was not to be. Just as I was rushed out of my previous residence, being told one day that I had at least a month to clear everything out, and then finding out I only had five days, I thought I had two months with my aunt, but that two months turned into two weeks because "I was interfering with her creativity". Well, that's okay because during those two weeks all I heard was constant bragging of her own and her children's accomplishments, and nothing but criticism of my own, of my supposed lack of intelligence and insight, and worst of all my own lack of a clear plan, of not having a more substantial savings to see me through this type of emergency, something she was sure to make clear that her own children would never be guilty of.

I never realized what a snob my aunt was, and not just that but her almost pathological obsession with her own self-perceived superiority and that of her children, never before have I been witness to a person bragging so much, and how she appeared to take delight in assassinating people's characters, including my own and my parents and even my grandmother (her own mother) of pointing out every flaw, which is basically anything that doesn't match her own specific way of seeing and doing things, basically it's her way or the wrong way.

Yeah, pretty much I strongly suspect that my aunt may be a psychopath, possibly bipolar, maybe both, because she sure changed her mind quick, she'd say one thing one day, and the next completely contradict it. I pointed this out to her, that she should say what she means and mean what she says, and she completely destroyed that too, saying there just words, don't be so firm, they are not final, nothing was in writing, and the spoken word has no finality, a person has a right to change there mind.

Anyway, I did not enjoy my time downtown, would never want to live there, is just too noisy, too hectic and busy. Even though T-cson is not that large of a city - it's no Chicago, which is even crazier with it's dark menacing skyscrapers and overwhelming sense of being alone and forsaken amidst a sea of concrete and hoodlum thugs and criminals and street people and trash, as downtown's goes, even though on somewhat of a smaller scale, it definitely had that busy downtown flow going for it that I realize I don't much care for. Strangely enough I always considered myself more of a city person than a small towner, but after my brief experience living downtown I found that I actually missed that rural slow pace that I had living on the edge of town, and realized I would have to return to it.