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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting Ready for the Big One-Four

On Saturday, I gave Mo her choice of outings to celebrate her birthday, and to my astonishment she chose Moon Marble.

Actually, her first choice was to stay home and have a whole day of full-immersion YouTube action, but I don't count that as 'doing' something.

Plus, I would have been guilty of just as narrow a pursuit. I rode my bike to get eggs and various needful things. It was a beautiful day to ride, a little chilly in the morning but it warmed as the day went.

I got to the farm, not quite seven miles from my house, where I get my eggs and called to say I was there. I heard, 'Are you on a bicycle?'

Yes, there was snow on the ground. Yes, there was ice on Gardner Lake. But the roads were dry and the sun was out. It's not as if I walked barefoot over broken glass.

From there I went to Wal-Mart, where I once again found myself sharing a bike rack with a couple other commuters. Before you get the idea that cycling for transportation is becoming a mainstream movement here in Gardner, I think they were missionaries. Possibly Mormon but as easily Jehovah's Witnesses. They were young men in suits, which is something you see even less of than bicycles around here. Even our captains of industry wear jeans unless they're trying to impress investors from out of town.

Of course, transportational cycling in Johnson County should be more common. I don't mean that in a preachy, tree-humping, whale-fondling, save-the-earth-so-we-have-some-place-to-boogie way. Johnson County has wider streets, in better repair, and with more miles of bike lane than any other part of the metro area. And pretty much everyone in Johnson County has a bicycle (often a very expensive one) somewhere in their home.

But that's another blog post entirely, I think. This is about getting ready for Mo's fourteenth birthday. Which, coupled with being hungry, led to a bit of over-consumptive shopping once I was at Wal-Mart. The bike is a good tool to counter the tendency* to keep remembering things you're almost out of or that would come in handy.

If I have to get it on the bike or leave it behind, it's easier to not put it in the shopping cart.

I had to get creative, actually, to get everything home. Some of that had to do with having a half-pannier load of cold weather gear I didn't need to wear in addition to a coat that fills a whole pannier by itself. But a hundred bucks worth of stuff is still a lot of stuff, even if that was skewed by a couple of non-grocery purchases.

I didn't sip from the Big Mug of World Suck, though, until I was halfway home, when I managed to drop my chain between my worn-out and soon to be replaced cassette and the frame. This is aggravating by itself because it's hard to get the right angle to yank the sucker out and that's before a rack. And a heavy load of groceries makes the bike harder to stabilize so you can try to reach in.

All in all, I got just under 19 miles ridden, the shopping done, some fun pics, but I'd eaten a lot of clock.

We got to Moon Marble after the last demonstration, though Mo seemed happy to browse the novelties. As Bruce sometimes asks, 'Did you find everything you didn't need?'

I told her I'd buy her one thing as part of her birthday, and she surprised me by not going for a rubber chicken. She got a little yellow guy with a cartoon smiley face I named Smiles Davis. He didn't live a lot longer than a rubber chicken does in her custody, but he was a fourth the price.

Rather than tiling out the banner for Mo's birthday, I got smart and ordered one. I got even smarter and omitted the age so I can use it every year.

Of course, next year, it won't coordinate with her birthday card, wrapping paper and cake. That'd be boring doing the same card every year.

*Wal-Mart promotes itself with something straight out of 'How to Lie with Statistics:' they claim they save American families $2500 a year. Which would be true if those families didn't turn around and buy $10,000 worth of cheap plastic shit they don't need before they escape the place.

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