SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Ha ha done

Wow that was stupid incredible. I am awesome. Fifty thousand words in nine days. That kicks ass.

I am sweaty'n'spent but it was so worthwhile. What a wreck. I could barely write at the end. This is taking me a while. Need to rest the fingers.

Regular bloggin' will resume on the morrow.

Welcome to the home stretch

NaNoWriMo novelists, it is do or die time. Unless like me a year ago you finished after the first two weeks of November, then you are even done with the celebration and moving on to the next big thing. If you are me this year, then you still have about 10,000 words to go, but that's okay. All you have to do is keep on typing at the same pace you have for the past seven or eight days and you will be fine.

With the victory of another soon-to-be-successfully completed novel in the air, not even the slicky snowy weather can get me down! It was staying rainy and not freezing last night so I stayed late at the bike shop with John (we were the only two volunteers who showed up) and tricked out a lowriding cruiser bike. We fit chunky new BMX pedals and I switched out the 20" back wheel for a 24" coaster brake wheel with the fattest tire I could find. I had to deflate the tube to fit it in and still it barely fit. I was trying to find a ridiculously skinny 20" wheel and tire to go on front, but then it really was getting late so I just adjusted the seat and took it for a few laps up and down the length of the shop.

We got some photos on the disposable camera so I'll try to wrap up that roll and get it developed soon for you lucky readers. I chugged home in the rain and it was still not too cold, so I got home sweaty and hot. It was a great night and it got me amped about the future. I'm done with living in the past. Let's move forward and take what we can get. Are you with me?

Lola would like to remind everyone to stop and smell the flowers. Be thankful that winter only lasts another six or seven months! That is cause for celebration. Thank you friends.

Novel progress? 3/5 of the way thru and busting out a new toque too; Sui Generis is a multi-tasking FOOL.

arrrr, ARG

My fingers burn my brain hurts my carpals tunnel!! Stumbled down drunk on words and slurring incoherence. Arise, eyes!--cry mutiny and release the shackles of electronic screens, transcend to spotlight incandescence. And lo; This is what I was made for.

all I have to show for it: 20,017 words

A word of explanation

Something's been holding me back from writing fiction for a long time and so I didn't count on doing the NaNoWriMo this year. But after Monday's post, the dam broke. As of last night I had written over 11,000 words and going strong, so why not, I'm gonna write this mofo after all. 50,000 words in 10 days? It's possible. Think of it as a handicap after last year's stellar rookie performance.

Time to buckle down again. Victory awaits.


Can't talk, writing novel. See you December 1.

Time will change your heart

I'm still here, barely. The weekend went by in a glycerine fog. I'm feeling sick of everything and claiming this week for doing nothing that I normally do and breaking away from my stupid routines. Taking action at last with big guns and big ambitions and tackling a to-do list a kilometer long. I get anxious seeing time go by without accomplishing what I need to do in life. I guess it's because to me it's so precious.

(hmm. bit of a departure from my last post, eh? hint of SAD creeping in? maybe)

Do something

I've long believed that the keys to a successful personal blog are to:

  1. lead an interesting life, and
  2. write about it in an interesting way.

I frequently fail on the first point, for my life is not terribly exciting. So I do my best to excel at the second. Hopefully, the fact that I have very few readers does not indicate that I often fail on that count as well. In any case, here's what I've been up to lately in case you're keeping track.

I'm wrapping up my third week at a temp job in Minneapolis, which is going fine. It's in a location where I can stand by a window in the early evening and watch freight trains eclipse the Minneapolis skyline with a sunset backdrop. That makes me happy. I take the bus, so I have been reading lots of books but biking hardly ever. I'm okay with that tradeoff. I went to a knitting party last weekend and later we had friends visit from Wisconsin and shared good drinks and warm companionship. Meanwhile we're buttoning down and nesting for the sudden winter onset looking forward to long nights of hot chocolate undercover cuddling. It may not be an exciting life, but it's a good one.

Office archaeology

I'm learning much about the previous dwellers of this cubicle by examining the artifacts they have left behind. Although expert opinion maintains that the most recent inhabitant was male, my studies strongly suggest a female occupant in the not-too-distant past. The first, and most persuasive piece of evidence, is the pair of Playtex Gentle Glide tampons (unused) discovered in my desk drawer.

Additional exhibits include a notepad that had written in it the following:

  • URL and street address for Nu Look Consignment
  • URL for the Smitten Kitten
  • draft of cover letter, including salary requirement of $15-17 per hour, signed "Kelly"
And also these items, found in cabinet drawers:
  • one copy of City Pages, dated 10/12/05, open to Music section
  • takeout menus for local chain restaurants including Eddington's, Chipotle, Bruegger's, and Davanni's
  • instruction manual for whimsical person-shaped digital clock
  • two toothpicks (individually wrapped)
  • two packets soy sauce (Good Chef brand)
  • one plastic knife
  • pile of napkins
  • small, round, yellow "Welcome to Australia" sticker

Live, Intranasal Influenza Vaccine Spray

or, Huffing the Flu Virus. One of the perks of temping for a hospital is that I got a free flu vaccine today. I hate getting shots; for some reason my ability to withstand hours of tattooing does not extend to a love of all needles. So I was pleased to learn that we had a choice between the standard injection and a nasal spray. Apparently they just began giving these out in 2003, and they are becoming more common now.

A nurse took out a tiny syringe (sans needle) full of attenuated influenza virus and squirted half of it in each of my nostrils. Some of the liquid dripped down the back of my throat. It tasted sweet. I wiped up the drips, and that was it! She commanded me to breathe normally and not to blow my nose for the next fifteen minutes or so. Easy? Man, if it helped me avoid getting the flu, I'd go through this process every day all winter long.

Marital disaster averted!

I dropped my wife's wedding ring into the bathroom sink this morning. Not on purpose! In fact, I was cleaning up for the sake of some friends who are coming tonight, when I wiped the ring off the sink's edge into the pipe. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. I wonder what her ring was doing so close to the rim? Courting disaster, tempting fate; I think secretly it wanted to jump down into that narrow abyss of plumbing and end it all--but it was not to be! Charging into duty as the awesome husband, I manfully removed the curved pipe underneath the sink and dumped out the ring from where it had caught, along with a couple handfuls of warm scummy water. More excitement than I usually like to have before 7 AM, but at least it gave me something to blog about.

Site notes

I categorized most of my my posts from the past year and added links in the upper-right-hand corner of this page so that you should be able to sort through them. It doesn't work. At the end of each post, I've planted the category name with a link to Blogger's search tool using that name and the URL of this site. I thought this would do the trick, but it's pulling down far fewer posts on each topic than there really are. Are there any Blogger wizards reading this who can help me out?

Also, this site got slammed on Tuesday by over a hundred visitors (which is a lot, for me--normally I get around 30 per day). My stat counter, unfortunately, has chosen this particular time to crap out on me and withhold the data on where all these people suddenly came from. Traffic has dropped back down to pre-Tuesday levels now, but on the off chance that you came here for the first time on Tuesday, could you please tell me from whence you came? I'd like to know!

Responsibility, what's that?

Big news for me: after listing it as a line on my resume for the past month, tonight I was officially elected Treasurer for the MN Bicycle-Pedestrian Alliance (MBPA), which is the fancy name for the nonprofit group that runs the Sibley Bike Depot in downtown St. Paul. Now that I've been working there and selling bikes for them and whatnot, it's good to be an actual, recognized part of the board. This means additional volunteer responsibilities for me, but I'm up to the task. I'm really excited about the team we're creating to move this organization forward, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Booze news: I returned the survey from last week's alcohol study and got paid in cash for my participation. Of course, by the time I picked it up, the money had already been spent on--what else?--wine! It's satisfying to have a full cellar again (and by cellar, I mean the cardboard wine case I've got turned on its side in the cabinet next to our refrigerator).

I've got a couple trusty old standbys waiting, but mostly new wines that I've never tried. It's exciting to have all those unknowns packed together, begging to be uncorked, not knowing exactly what to expect. The MBPA board is sort of like that right now. Some veteran members are still around, but there's also a lot of new blood coming into the group with tons of bottled-up potential. I can't wait until the pressure is released--this cork is gonna pop.

Categories: bicycles, wine

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Even though I had Mr. Ishiguro's Remains of the Day on my TBR list for years, I never got round to reading it. I had heard that his writing was great, and it seemed like something I'd enjoy, but I just couldn't get enthused about the subject matter. A psychological study of a repressed English butler, oh fascinating, zzzzzz. I kept reading fresher recommendations and Remains of the Day got pushed further back into the dusty corner, as it were, of my Amazon wishlist.

I had no such qualms about his new novel (SPOILER ALERT!! It is about clones), and I was not disappointed by the quality of his prose. Now, I like wacky scifi--Phillip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors--and science fiction by definition can be about some really out-there stuff and still be believable within the confines of the story. That's what's fun about it. But when I'm reading scifi there's also always, in the back of my mind, the nagging reminder that this is all fake.

What Ishiguro does is to take a classic scifi staple (human cloning) and ground it so firmly in reality that there is no such disconnect. The events in the book do not seem fantastical or futuristic or out there; they are simply the way things are. I could accept the premise of the novel as simply as the characters accepted it, without question. I love how he does this. And he does it skillfully by making the story not about the technology and science, but entirely about the characters and their relationships.

And once again, that's starting to seem a bit dull, isn't it? It isn't, though. The book is short, and paced well, and when I got to the end I was satisfied. I wasn't left feeling like the story had gone on too long or that the characters weren't developed enough: it was perfect. A rare thing indeed.

Dime novels and chopper bicycles

I work as a volunteer at the Sibley Bike Depot on Monday nights, and when I showed up yesterday I found two boxes full of books on a table by the door. I couldn't resist looking through them, and when I found out they were being sold for ten cents apiece, I couldn't very well help myself from buying two quarters' worth. I resisted copies of Cat's Cradle and Animal Farm.

The shop was more cluttered with donated bikes than it has been for a few weeks. That's a good thing! We had a good small team there to work for a couple of hours. First, we fine-tuned a pile of new kids' bikes that had been assembled by another group. It was mostly just tightening up seatposts and reflectors, adjusting brakes, and they were good to go. Then we started in on the used bikes. Seeing the variety of bicycles that come into the shop is one of my favorite parts of the job. John pointed out one modified ride with huge apehanger handlebars and a dangerously dangling rear brake line. With a bit of adornment, it would make an awesome parade bike. I wanted to fix that one up and take it home for myself!

Before I left, I had to find a way to carry my books back home on the singlespeed. I secured two small books in each side pocket of my jacket and tucked Vineland into my shirt. I rode back that way with no problem, and my wife didn't even notice the extra bulkiness when I got home!

Categories: bicycles, books

Yesterday's fire to this morning's ashes

I took an overnight trip up to my parents' lake home with J and Lola this weekend. To ward off boredom, I packed all manner of diversions and entertainments that I knew would keep us busy. But once we were up there and the sun was starting to set, the only thing I wanted to do was to build a fire. On a cool autumn evening, there's nothing more pleasant than sitting around a good hot campfire. We toasted some obligatory marshmallows, but mostly I kept the fire going and stayed happy and warm for hours. I could have stayed out there all night poking at it. Sorry, PS2. You just can't compete with that.

Categories: life

Rivendell Bicycle Works free stuff

Rivendell bicycle works is a very cool and unique company producing beautiful, sensible, lugged steel bicycles and bike accessories. If you're into bikes at all, you've probably heard of them. It wasn't long after I got into the bike forums before I saw reverent mentions of Rivendell and its founder, Grant Peterson. The bikes are incredible, they are not cheap; I may never buy one, but I like looking at them, and I like their philosophy, and it's fun to spread the word about something that is done really well.

You can get a good taste of what they're about on their website, but if you want something you can hold in your hands then do yourself a favor and dial them up. Just call (925) 933-7304 for a free copy of their catalog and a sample of the Rivendell Reader magazine. I reqested mine about a week ago and got it just a few days later (they also threw in a brochure about the new Atlantis frame). It's great reading that gets my imagination going and my soul burning to get on a bicycle. I can't wait for spring to come so I can start bike camping!

Categories: bicycles

Tap the free beer study

Last night I almost didn't attend an alcohol study because I lingered too long at a liquor store and traffic/roads were way worse than I expected. The study was scheduled to start at six, although we were supposed to be there fifteen minutes before that to check in. When it was 6:00 and I'd gotten myself totally lost trying to bypass a closed freeway entrance ramp, I was ready to turn around and go home. As luck would have it, the first road I recognized was one that brought me the rest of the way to Fieldwork Mpls and free beer. I was a half hour late, but they'd just started the session.

There were twenty other men participating in the study and we sat in rows in what reminded me of a college classroom (except with one-way glass along the front wall). We were instructed not to talk to each other in order to preserve our unbiased opinions of the samples. We filled out some bubble sheets and then the first beers were brought in. We were to drink our sample and answer a few pages of questions about it. They involved rating the beer on things like taste, body, malt, smoothness, and overall impressions. The most funny category was (agree or disagree:) "is a chick beer." I had to strongly disagree with "tastes premium or upscale"--Chimay has ruined me on regular beers.

We returned our (mostly) empty cups and repeated the process with a second sample. The whole process took about an hour. Then came the fun part. Along with extra paperwork, we each got a grocery bag packed with two six-packs to take home! Not only do I have twelve bottles of free beer sitting in my fridge (well, eleven now), but if I complete that survey and return it next week, they will pay me $65! Awesome. I would have signed up if it was just the free beer!

Can we ever understand another human heart?

I have got so much to say, I don't know where to start.

50,000 words in 30 days: the NaNoWriMo challenge

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as we call it around here) starts today! Are you Wri-ing a No this Mo?

I am (maybe). Now some people whinge about not having enough time because they're in college (you will probably never have more free time in your life ever) or work a full time job. I am not trying to make excuses for myself, but my full time at one job plus part time at another job plus looking for a new job plus my volunteer and marriage commitments may not leave a lot of spare minutes left for writing. Of course, it can still be done; you can always make time for something if you want it badly enough. I just have to want it more. And I'm not sure if I can do that this year.

Today, I'll start writing something and see what happens. I already know what can be done. This could be just the kick I need to break out of my writing rut.

Categories: writing