Bike Accident

I got into a bike accident last week. No serious damage to myself, but the same can’t be said for the bike.

totalled-bike
Taco wheels make me hungry for Mexican food.

Someone left a shopping cart in the bike path. I was biking along on my way home from the lab and was thinking in my own head. I didn’t see the shopping cart until it was too late so I slammed into it.

The effect on my bike is quite obvious. Front wheel is wrecked.

I skinned my palms, skinned my knee, got a hole in the knee of my pants, sprained my left wrist, and got a few bruises. Nothing that didn’t fix itself in a few days.

There were some people walking on the bike path that asked if I was alright and helped me pick up my things (my keys had fallen out of my pocket and my shoe had flown off).

One of the bystanders offered to give me and the bike a ride to my house in his truck. I declined, not wanting to inconvenience him and thinking that walking my bike home would be easy enough.

This turned out to be the wrong decision for two reasons.

First, allowing him to help probably would’ve made his day better. Most people enjoy helping others and he wouldn’t have offered if it was going to severely inconvenience him.

Second, my bike turned out to be a little more messed up than it looked at first.

I’d intended to pick up the front of the bike and easily wheel it home on the back wheel. Turns out the back wheel was also screwed up and wouldn’t turn.

I ended up walking half a mile with the bike hoisted up on my shoulders.

I took the bike to the repair shop. The front wheel is obviously not salvageable, but the back will most likely be delicately coaxed back into shape.

And while my physical injuries will heal my dignity will be forever scarred.

-GoCorral

A Typical Day on the Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: Mackinac Island

I’ve described what’s on and around Bois Blanc Island, but what do we actually do there?

A typical day starts with my wife and I waking up in the Pines Cottage at 8:30. We sleep that late partially due to a three hour jet lag, but mostly because vacations are created for sleeping in.

In the morning we turn on the space heater in the living room (I’m bad at lighting fires in the fireplace) before doing some activities in no particular order.

We shower, eat breakfast, work on a 1000 piece puzzle of a dragon on a cliff, read, write, and play on my wife’s iPhone with limited internet access.

We finished! One piece was missing. Probably stolen by our cat before we brought the puzzle to Bois Blanc.
We finished! One piece was missing. Probably stolen by our cat before we brought the puzzle to Bois Blanc.

At the end of the morning we eat lunch before calling my relatives on the West End to figure out dinner plans.

My wife is a vegetarian. If meat is in the main dish we have to make sure she has something else to eat.

After calling ahead we pack up what we need for the day and go over to the West End.

When we arrive at the West End we put away any food we brought that requires refrigeration before starting another group of activities in no particular order.

We read, write, wade in the water, kayak, watch my cousin and his friend from Montana windsurf, go on a walk, bike, work on a 500 piece puzzle of a pile of beach glass, eat snacks, play board and card games, and chat with my relatives.

This kayak is FILLED with invisible spiders.
This kayak is FILLED with invisible spiders.
Bois Blanc has butterflies too! Take that Butterfly House!
Bois Blanc has butterflies too! Take that Butterfly House!
Two missing pieces that we found later on.
There were two missing pieces that we found later on.

We don’t do all those things in one day, but we managed to do them all in the week we were on Bois Blanc Island.

Around 5 or 5:30 we go over to the New Cottage for drinks with my grandparents, drinks being anything from vodka to diet soda.

We talk with them or they talk around us about people all my aunts know but I’ve never met.

Half an hour later dinner is served and we gather around a big table or two tables if one isn’t enough.

We eat dinner and dessert if there is any.

After dinner we do a few more of the afternoon activities with the additional options of watching the sunset over Round Island at 9:15, or starting a fire in the fireplace or on the beach.

First time messing with my wife's panorama option on her iPhone.
First time messing with my wife’s panorama option on her iPhone.
I made the fire with my uncle's help. Maybe I can eventually make a fire without help.
I made the fire with my uncle’s help. Maybe I can eventually make a fire without help.

Then we pack up our stuff and dodge deer on the drive back to the Pines Cottage.

At the Pines we read, write, work on the dragon puzzle, and eat a few snacks before going to bed around 11.

Then we do it all again!

-Mister Ed

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: Food on the Island

Solar Freaking Roadways

My wife showed me this cool new technology called Solar Roadways this morning.

She showed me with a Youtube video you can look at here.

The technology is a new type of pavement made out of solar panels.

The video describes it quite well in a funny way (Solar Freaking Roadways!).

Solar panels cover the road. On top of the panels are a few LED lights and then a strong shield of glass.

The glass can support up to 250,000 pound (113,000kg) trucks. The inventor of Solar Roadways, Scott Brusaw, chose that researched weight because the transportation of oil refinery equipment is done at weights of around 230,000 pounds (104,000kg).

The LEDs are used to create lane lines or for other necessary road paint (Pedestrian Xing, Slow Down, etc.).

If every paved surface in the USA were covered with these panels they would generate three times the current energy consumption of the USA.

Other energy sources would still be needed as solar panels don’t operate at night.

The panels can also heat themselves to melt snow and prevent dangerous driving conditions in colder states.

Two underground channels are planned to run along side the Roadway. One will hold water runoff. The other will hold electrical wires.

The wires carry the electricity off the solar panels to consumers.

The channel could also hold telephone lines, fiberoptic internet cables, etc. By placing them underground, storms are less likely to cause outages.

Mr. Brusaw, pictured above in a tractor on the prototype driveway of Solar Roadways, seemed particularly proud of the traction of Solar Roadways.

Some people worry that cars won’t be able to stop on glass, but Solar Roadways glass panels are textured in a way that cars going 80mph (130kph) on a wet panel could stop just as fast as on wet asphalt.

My worry upon seeing the giant textured panels was that bikes would not be able to go on them.

Fortunately, Mr. Brusaw has an answer for that too. Another variety of the panels has a smoother texture that bikes can ride over comfortably.

The smoother texture allows cars to stop in times similar to wet asphalt at speeds of only 40mph (65kph) though. You can’t have everything.

It would be easy enough to build a bike lane out of the smoother panels next to a road made of the textured panels to accommodate both types of vehicles.

If you’re interested in learning more about Solar Roadways you can check out their website or fund them using Indiegogo. The fundraiser is until June 20th 2014.

-Mister Ed

Taking the Bus

The college-run bus stop a few blocks from my house.
The college-run bus stop a few blocks from my house.

Because my bike was effectively unusable for the past three weeks I have been taking the bus.

I’ve never really taken the bus before. When I was in elementary school I lived a block from my school, so I just walked.

I was homeschooled for the second half of elementary school and I biked to my middle school and high school.

At college I’ve always biked or walked to class. The bus was for rare occasions when I had a poster board too big to carry on my bike.

I rarely took public transportation anywhere else besides school either. I’d bike, drive, or walk. I do this because I don’t like waiting for the bus. When I transport myself then I can go wherever I want, when I want, and I can leave in the same fashion.

I did take the train every day to summer school one year, but that is the extent of my knowledge of public transportation.

From what other people have told me, public transportation is not a pleasant experience. There are crazy people on the bus or train that yell at you. There are thieves and creepy people who seem like they’ll jump you when you get off at your stop.

There’s also the fact that someone has probably peed in your seat at some point before you sat in it. Sure, it’s been cleaned by the bus janitor, but how well did they clean it? Did they use sanitizer or did they just wipe it off with a pee sponge that has never been replaced?

Do you talk with the person next to you on the bus? My wife’s experience with this is if you do then it’s rarely a good conversation.

When I took the train for that one summer I talked with the person next to me and often had good conversations. That’s probably just coincidence though.

Taking the bus was an adjustment for me. I noticed a couple things.

I am a large man, so people don’t want to sit next to me. If I sat in a seat, it was typically one of the last few to receive another passenger.

Nobody talks on the bus except friends who got on together. There aren’t any crazies on the bus route I rode, but there aren’t any “friendlies” either.

I spent most of my time on the bus playing Candy Crush, writing notes on my iPad, looking out the window, or reading from my pocket copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

My sister says she takes the bus because its like an extra twenty minutes of time each day while someone else drives you to work. I guess that’s true, but I still prefer freedom from the bus schedule on my bike.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Bike Tire Problems

My old bike tire is behind the new one.
My old bike tire is behind the new one.

I finally figured out why my bike was getting flat tires so often. There was a hole in the tire itself instead of the tubes I put in them.

I grew up in a town where bikes were used all the time to get places. I then went to college in a town that encourages bikes to the point that the town logo is a bike. There’s even a bike museum downtown.

My point is, maybe everyone is not as aware of how bikes work as I am.

Bike wheels have three basic parts, the wheel, the tire, and the tube.

The wheel is the metal part with all the spokes on it that attaches to the bike frame at the center. If there’s something wrong with my bike wheel, I take it to my dad to fix it. Every other Saturday my dad repairs bikes for a charity, The Silicon Valley Bike Exchange.

The tire is the rubber wall that incases the tube. The tire is the part of your bike that actually touches the ground.

The tube sits between the tire and the wheel. It’s also made of much thinner rubber than the tire.

The tube inflates and presses against the tire wall, giving it a firm shape that still yields to bumps and debris in the road. This allows a bike to ride over the various cracks in the road without giving the rider awful saddle sores.

When you get a flat it is usually because of a hole in the tube. The tube is essentially a balloon, so it can pop if treated to roughly. Thorns are a good way to rupture a tube. I have a road bike, so hopping curbs will also cause problems for me.

Over the past three weeks or so I have replaced my bike’s front tube four or five times. One of them popped while it was just sitting outside my house. Another as I was replacing it. Another popped on the first ride I took it on.

I eventually decided to sit down, inflate a tire, and then watch it to see what caused it to pop spontaneously.

As I waited I noticed the tube beginning to swell out of a hole in the side wall of the tire. A one centimeter bubble formed on the outside of the tire and then popped.

So now I knew what the problem was! My old tire had rubber for the section that contacts the ground, but the sidewalls were made from interlaced thread instead.

These threads had slowly come undone until a hole formed that was big enough for the tube to blow out through. Without the tire keeping pressure on the tube, it exploded like an overinflated balloon.

You can see the frayed threads around the hole in the picture above.

Finally realizing what the problem was, I got a new tire and replaced that along with the burst tube.

My bike is all fine now and I’m taking it to work instead of the bus.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Good and Bad

I had a strange amount of ups and downs today.

I started off by trying to install some child locks on our bathroom cabinets. Our new cat has been trying to sneak in and we think it’d be best if she doesn’t have access to all the toilet paper at once or all the chemicals that could hurt her under the sink.

Child locks come in two parts, the part you have to push to open it and the part the pushy part inserts into to keep the door locks. I’d glued the holdy part onto the cabinets on Monday.

I checked the glue today and was a bit rough in handling one of the holdy parts. It popped off in my hand. I sighed and reglued it on.

I glued on the pushy part and found it was very difficult to align it correctly with the holdy part. Fearing that I did it wrong, I only glued in one of the pushy parts today to see how it looks tomorrow.

After that frustration I went out to fix the flat in my bike. The flat had happened on Friday and I got new tubes on Monday.

I put the first tube in and it immediately popped. Figuring they can occasionally be duds, I pulled it out and put a second one in. It seemed fine and I biked off to work. It popped just before I got onto campus. I sighed and walked the rest of the way to my job.

I figured I was too pissed off to immediately get to work at lab, so I decided to make a quick appointment with an optometrist in town.

The optometrist informed me that I needed to know the exact amount of coverage my health insurance gave me for vision before I could get an appointment. On to calling the health insurance company then!

I called my health insurance and was put on hold (typical). I waited and zoned out not listening to the recorded message. Then the message said, “Goodbye,” and it hung up. I have no clue what led up to it saying goodbye, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the usual hold music.

I called again and avoided the previous menu options that had resulted in the robot disconnecting me. I ended up waiting an hour on hold before I got to talk to a human person.

The whole time it faked me out by switching up which robot voices were telling me about the health insurance website. Each time the voice changed I thought I had finally reached a real person only to have my hopes destroyed.

I eventually got the health insurance and the optometrist appointment set up.

After that my day improved. I stained some worms to see if they turn blue over the next two days. I checked some injected worms to see if the DNA I injected into them had successfully integrated into their genomes. IT HAD! WOOHOO!

I called my wife to come pick up my bike during the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to walk it home. She came by and put it in the car and reminded me why I love her.

At the end of the day my wife came home with two cupcakes for me.

A good day in the end despite the rocky start! 🙂

-Mister Ed

Little Presents

A love note that my wife left on my bike while I was working.
A love note that my wife left on my bike while I was working.

My wife does sweet things for me all the time. This was a note she left for me on my bike while I was inside my lab working. She taped it around the crossbar. It had been raining a little bit, so when I went to my bike to go home the note had tiny wet spots on it. It was the best part of my day.

Last week we played a game. We went into the closet where it was super dark and made acrostic poems for each other with a flashlight. Acrostics are those poems where the first letter of each line spells something out.
Big
Old
Aged
Tugger
Would be BOAT for example.

My wife and I have a thing for Tim Allen’s TV show, Last Man Standing. One of the most recent episodes focused on Tim Allen’s character’s non-observance of Valentine’s. His character feels like Valentine’s is a holiday invented by FTD florists and chocolate companies, and thus not worth actually celebrating. I’ve heard that same thing from a few of my friends before as well. “Why do I need a special day to show my love for my partner?”

The special day is nice because my wife and I try even harder to please each other with gifts, attention, and time spent together. We still do special things for each other every day.

Like, a month or two ago I made a scavenger hunt for my wife. I put little riddles all around the house. The solved riddle lead to the next riddle. The final riddle said that I had her prize, a new set of headphones for her.

Just wanted to remind you all that Valentine’s isn’t the only day for love, but there’s no good reason it shouldn’t be one of the more memorable ones.

That’s all!

-Mister Ed