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Archive for January, 2011

Well, the wintry winds are still roaring through Philly and we are again piled under 11 inches of snow.  No snow days from work, unfortunately.  And no plow down our street until today (4 days after the storm….)  Which means no bikes until the roads clear up a bit.  I saw some fools riding around the past few days, one dude was even trying to ride around during the storm on his fixed-gear (no brakes and track tires…)  Darwin Awards, anyone?  We’ll see how things look tomorrow after work and then maybe I’ll try it on Tuesday.  I must admit that my last spill knocked some more caution into me.  Big tree fall hard!

In the meantime I decided to do some work on the ole steed, something Pat and I like to call Bike Garage.  The last time I bought a new tube the bike shop mechanic suggested that I get new tires too since mine were pretty worn.  So Pat got some flat-fixing practice in and put on my new tires for me.  They are pretty beastly– I bought them because they have a Kevlar lining.  Hardcore!!!  Now I am safe from bits of glass AND bullets!

I think Captain Obvious drew these instructional pictures

Go ahead, shoot a bullet at my tire, see what happens (not really, please don't shoot at me)

They guy who sold them to me said he had his on for 4 years before he replaced them.  I think that’s getting a little carried away but they’ll at least wear better than my old ones.  Plus check out that reflective stripe!  I’m hoping that will help prevent cars from t-boning me.

What tread?

I also replaced all the brake pads on my bike, swapping in some that are better for winter and wet weather.  I really recommend getting a brake pad with a replaceable insert, that way you don’t have to fool around as much when they need to be replaced.  I would say you just slide the new brake pad in and voila!  but they were kind of hard to get in all the way so the lock pin would work.  Pat had to use his manly muscles.

Sporting our official Mechanic uniform-- PJ's

Just to be thorough (and because I was a little bored) I also cleaned up my frame, cleaned and greased my chain, adjusted my seat and tightened the brakes.  Now for some warmer weather so I can take it for a test run!  I am still not allowed to ride my bike in the house. 😦  Rules!

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Hot cocoa, campfires, flannel sheets, a sauna, cinnamon gummy bears… Oh!  Those pajamas that have the feets and zip up to your neck…  The list goes on and on in my mind as I try to find a warmth-evoking distraction from the cold, cold, cold that somehow manages to slip in and chill me to the bone.  Two pairs of pants, tights, wool socks, cammie, t-shirt, long sleeve, thermal hoodie and a jacket are still no match for this morning’s weather.  MSNBC (obviously having a slow news day) quotes a fellow East-coaster as calling this kind of cold “snot-freezing.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Human warmth burrito

Patrick and I were discussing the usual chain of events that make up our measly 3-mile commute to work.  It starts out with our eyes uncontrollably streaming tears from the shock of cold (or sadness from being out of our warm bed, I’m not sure), followed by a slight tingle in the thighs.  From here it can go one of two ways.  If it’s not too cold and we’re feeling ambitious our muscles start to warm up and by the time we get to work we’re actually quite warm.  Or, as the case has been the past few weeks, that tingle turns into a chilly numbness that seems to linger for the rest of the day no matter how many hot teas you consume.  Either way we arrive at work, snot dripping at an alarming rate, to de-thaw at our desk/espresso machine.

Us in winter 2010 with our new bikes

Today a coworker, seeing me bundle up and wheel my bike out to the elevator, quipped, “boy, Liz… you sure are hardcore!”  But it wasn’t really a compliment.  It was more like “boy, Liz… you sure are one masochistic, cold-loving Mid-westerner!”  It also reminded me of the anecdote my dad likes to tell about a winter camping trip he took to Canada.  Whenever he told a native Canadian what he was up to their response was “…that’s brave.”  Reading between the lines he soon realized that, in Canada, “brave” is equal to “pretty damn crazy/stupid”.   Since the PECO building’s digital thermometer informed me that it was a mere 9 degrees this morning I’m going to have to go with the Canadians on this one… aren’t I brave?!

Though the forecast doesn’t seem much better for the rest of the week I will persevere!  After all Lance Armstrong, a man who kind of defines the word “hardcore” (in ALL of its connotations, mind you) once said “Pain is temporary.  Quitting lasts forever.”  Rock on, Lance!  Rock on, Liz!  Rock on, snot-dripping!

West Philly

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6,000 Calorie Diet

Pledging yourself to a new diet this year?  Try the Kelley 6,000, it’s guaranteed to drastically alter your figure… though maybe the alteration I’m talking about will probably result in you buying larger pants.

Now it's cheerfully clogging my arteries

Anyway, to follow the diet plan don’t do anything out of the ordinary EXCEPT eat an entire plate of what you see above as often as possible.  Yes, you read that right.  A “bananas, white chocolate and peanut butter egg roll with side of fried bananas” diet.  It’s pretty awesome.

Don't forget the powdered sugar! It's 500 of the calories!

In all honesty I feel like I should probably eat salad for the next 3 weeks to make up for that delicious little feast.  It was pretty indulgent…  Instead we took a long walk yesterday and rode into the city today.  I’m calling it good. 🙂

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Uhhhgh I do not like the sound of this forecast: 100% chance of heavy rain/freezing rain during tomorrow’s a.m. commute.  Looks like I may be joining the rest of West Philly on the trolley. 

Snow, beautiful snow! Blah.

I know it’s only January but I’m ready for spring!!  I miss riding out into the “country” with Pat on the weekends.  Spending time exploring Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill drive… hurry up, spring!  I can’t wait to get back into biking shape soon.  But not in a wintry mix, no thanks.

Penn Museum windows

My parents gave us a telephoto lens for Christmas!  I took it on a visit to the Penn Museum which was fun but probably a bit overkill.  Next weekend Pat and I may take a city ride to get some more practice with it.

Chinese crystal ball

Sneaky out-the-window photo

I think reading about Tara and Tyler from “Going Slowly” is giving me spring fever, too.  Laying on a Cambodian beach all day, sipping coconut shakes and eating mango is right up my alley.  Last night I had a dream that we decided to spend extra time cycling Spain on our trip.  My dream-world Spain was warm, spicy and really, really sunny.  Who knows where our pedals will take us!

Hopefully there's no snow...

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Good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution about writing in my blog regularly…  Ah well, life is too short to regret not posting to your online journal often enough.  Nay?

ghost tree

Check out some night photography Pat and I did the other day.  It did not turn out the way we expected, but it isn’t bad either.  We didn’t use a flash so the tripod Pat gave me for Christmas really came in handy. 

Christmas is OVER already!

This is from a walk through University of Penn’s campus.  They must run on steam for heat or electricity (or both) because they have these vents all over the place.  My college had them too but they were disguised as kiosks for hanging posters on.  I stood on this one for a few minutes, hoping Pat would get a cool picture, but then it got too sweaty and gross. 

steamy

Beam me up, Chem Lab!

My husband truly loves art

In other news, my parents, Pat and I ate at PYT in Northern Liberties today.  They have some crazy burgers there!  I selected one with a fried egg and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin, very odd but okay.  I think my dad’s was the best– burger topped with cheese steak, Wiz and onions on a soft pretzel bun.  NOM NOM NOM!

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Philadelphia… city of Brotherly Love, pretzels, Michael Vick (unfortunately, in my opinion) and….. MUMMERS:

Real pirates wear feathers

Getting ready to strut

 

Fancy animals

By this point you’re probably asking yourself, “What they hey is this all about?!”  Trust me, I asked myself the same thing when we first moved here.  And also trust me when I say I still do not completely understand it.  Every New Year’s Day the city’s main north/south street, Broad Street, is shut down and brigades of fancifully dressed men and woman parade from “Two Street” to City Hall.  Paraders stop every few blocks to put on a little show– setting up mobile sets, dancing and playing their instruments for the crowds lining the route.  They are judged at City Hall and prizes are handed out at the end of the day for “Best Of” in every category imaginable.  There is also a lot of alcohol involved in this event… a lot of alcohol.  Other teams have “floats”:

Bee floats

Clubs of mummers work year-round to prepare for the event.  They spend thousands of hours (and dollars) making their elaborate costumes, creating sets and, of course, perfecting the “strut”.  The history of the parade is pretty long-winded, confusing and I have not been able to find two stories that are exactly the same.  It seems to have come from Druids wanting to frighten evil new-year spirits, parades for guilds of butchers/bakers/candlestick makers, Italian carnivals, ancient Roman celebrations of the god Saturn, drunken Swedes shooting guns to celebrate the new year and probably a little bit of New Orleans Mardi gras thrown in there for good measure.  It’s boisterous, flamboyant and very serious for most of the people involved.  Whatever you do, don’t diss a mummer.

Mobile sets

I spent several hours walking up and down Broad street, taking in all the amazing costumes and enjoying some hilarious people-watching.  Too bad I had to work the next day, I hear these guys party hard on Two Street afterwards.

Happy New Year!

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