Bike Safety 101: Riding the Roads

This morning I had planned on getting up at 4:30am as usual for my bike ride but because I went to bed at 11pm last night, I was still too groggy so I decided to sleep another hour.  I don’t have any place to be so why not right?  Darrin, thinking that I’m awake comes into my room at 4:45am to make me read an article in the newspaper about bicycle safety.

When I got up at 5:30 I read the article and thanked him for thinking of me.  Fortunately I already know everything that was in the article so I was already covered.  Luckily I don’t have to spend too much time on the road with cars to have to worry, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be reminded of the rules of the road every now and again.

I noticed that the article was written by the Chicago Tribune so I went online to find it and here it is.  Bike safety 101: Riding the roads – Chicago Tribune

That article has some good points but there are some things that they didn’t mention so I am here to add something to the list.

When you are riding with a helmet, and make sure you are, also buy a helmet mounted rear view mirror so you can see the cars and cyclists behind you.  This helps me see the cars behind me on the road and it also helps me see when there are a bunch of cyclists speeding towards me.  The article says that assume that there are drivers who are either drunk, texting or just not paying attention.  You can’t be looking behind you constantly so it’s a good thing to have that mirror.  And not handlebar mirrors because in some cases you can’t really look down, that would be too distracting.

Unfortunately, as with cars there are blind spots, even with helmet mounted mirrors.  This morning as I was coming home, I left the bike trail and got back on the street with traffic and there is a stretch of road that curves.  Well, in my mirror I can see behind me but there is a blind spot.  Unless I turn my head to look completely, I won’t see the cars that are driving directly behind me in the right lane, only the cars in the other lanes.

I had stopped because of all the traffic.  I usually go out into the left hand turning lane in the center of the road to get back into the neighborhoods and it’s usually safe in that spot but this morning after all the cars passed by I started to ride again and as I was picking up speed I noticed out of my peripheral vision a black SUV that swerved to stop before it hit me.  That was my fault because I shouldn’t just look in the mirror, especially when I stop like that.  I need to turn my head around so I can see to make sure there aren’t any cars still coming.  I was still looking in the mirror so that’s why it was puzzling that I didn’t see it.

As I was getting in the turning lane I looked over at him and waved saying “SORRY!” and he waved back at me as if to say “it’s ok”.  If I had gotten hit, it would’ve been my fault because I wasn’t paying attention to my blind spots.

So that is another tip to think about when you are riding in curved roads with cars.  Check your blind spots before going into the turning lane otherwise you might get killed.

The funny thing is, I was thinking about that article when that happened so my mind was elsewhere.  I was thinking about bicycle road safety when I was unsafe.  Oh sweet irony.

I learned a huge lesson today about safety.  I also learned that if I can’t leave the house as early as 5am then perhaps I need to just stay home because it’s much easier to get into that turning lane early in the morning when there are no cars on the road.  I would much rather be safe with no cars than get hit by a car because of a stupid blind spot.

Blow The Dust Out Of Your Computer (PSA)

I don’t know if many people are aware of this or not but if you have a computer that is at least a year old, it has dust inside of it.  Not just on top of the parts but inside of them as well.

It’s a good idea to buy a can of compressed air, that is unless you have an actual air compressor.  Either way, just unplug everything from the back of it and bring it outside.  Open the side door of it by unscrewing the 2 screws in the back then start blowing things.

You will be surprised when all of a sudden you see a dust cloud forming right in front of you as all of the dust starts shooting out of places you didn’t even know dust could exist.  This may not help your computer perform faster or efficiently but I’m sure it can’t be good for the fans or your CPU’s heat sink to be that dusty.

We don’t have an air compressor anymore so I went to Walgreen’s and bought a can of compressed air for $7.99 (WOW $8 for air!) and came home and opened both computers and just started blowing all the dust out.  I was shocked at how much dust came out of them.  The CPU’s heat sink had a lot of dust and so did the power supply fan and case fan.  I was actually shocked at how much dust was in the case fan compared to the rest of the computer.

The reason I did this is because Chips power supply died, he couldn’t even turn his computer on anymore and when I opened his computer up to take it out I could see all this dust in there.  I figured it was that time again but I was out of canned air so I figured now is as good as any to buy another can.

So that is my tip for the day.  You can buy a little car tire air compressor that plugs into your cars lighter socket for around $20 and it will work just as good as a $8 can of compressed air and it will last you a lot longer than the cans do.  It’s worth it knowing your computer isn’t going to have all that dust inside of it.  I blow the dust out of both computers at least 2 or 3 times a year and you should too.

Why I Stopped Writing My Book

I stopped writing my book for several reasons and here they are.

I started writing and I think I got 3 chapters written and edited and typed storylines for 3 or 4 other chapters then I quit. I stopped writing because I had to start working on finishing the Christmas stockings but I didn’t work on those all day long, only a few hours so really that is no excuse for why I stopped.

One other reason I stopped writing my book is because I started hearing these horror stories of other people’s childhoods (that’s what my book is based on) and I started thinking that my childhood was mild compared to these people. So I started to think that people may read my book and think that I had it good. Even though I had a rough childhood, other people had worse than I did so my story pales in comparison and it just made me feel really tiny in the scheme of things.

I saw the movie “Riding In Cars With Boys” with Drew Barrymore and she wrote a book about her life and she had to have her ex-husband sign a paper so she could publish the book. Well, there is no way I’m gonna get any of the people I am writing about to sign their name on a piece of paper agreeing to let me publish them because I say some horrible things about almost every family member who did something rotten to me. I just know that they would ask me what I wrote before signing and I know they would never give me permission when they hear what I wrote. Plus I don’t speak to my stepdad or sister anymore and I know those greedy bastards would do what Drews ex-husbands wife would do, they would make me give them money first.

So before I continue writing I’m thinking of changing it from an autobiography to fiction and just change a few things. Obviously I’m gonna have to change names, that way I won’t get sued and I’m probably going to have to change the way things happened so it doesn’t seem too familiar to people.

I am not a writer and I only have 5 years experience as a reader (of fiction) to sit down and start writing a book so that’s why I stopped. I think that I need to keep reading other books to give me more of an understanding about how books work before I start writing again. And who knows, maybe I might take an online course in writing to help.

We will see how it goes. I’m not giving up on it, just putting it on the back burner for now.

Bicycle Trailers

Last year I found an article on the Dvice blog about a guy who built his own bicycle trailer for going to “Burning Man”.  In that article was a link to another website which showed the same article but also another article for Roy the PVC Guy who was building his own trailer out of PVC.

I was looking at another article which has some links to other trailers people have made such as this trailer that doesn’t look exactly like a trailer to sleep in as much as it just looks like the kind of trailer you use for hauling your things.  Although if you keep watching as he directs his grandson to help him you will discover that it is indeed a trailer for sleeping in.  I was oohing and ahhing throughout the process which only took 12 minutes.

I can’t add that video in here for some odd reason but you can see it here.  Vic’s Journey to Manitoba.

But, as nice as that is you have to look at this video right here.  This is absolutely amazing.  And I know it’s not for bicycles, it’s for cars but if you are able to build this yourself it would make a very nice bicycle trailer.

It’s just a matter of lifting the top and putting it on the ground and the tent pops up all by itself.  It’s so easy.  If you build this for a bicycle you just use the same concept but with bicycle wheels.

I also like this idea because it allows for 2 people to share a space and tow their own trailer.

I don’t know if anyone has built this one but if they have I would love to see it in action.  In fact, if anyone has any videos please send them to me, I’d love to see them.

Is Bakersfield A Safe Place To Ride A Bicycle?

Is Bakersfield a safe place to ride a bicycle?

This article was in today’s Bakersfield Californian newspaper.

In my opinion it is only safe to ride a bicycle if you are a defensive rider.  If you are watching where you are going, looking both left and right, never crossing the street unless you have the green light (or in some cases walk signal).  Never riding on the wrong side of the road then crossing while a car is turning left (which happened to me).

This one time I was leaving the bike path and I was crossing the street and this pickup truck was pulling out in front of me while he was looking right at me.  He nearly ran me over.  This was about 10am in the morning too so it’s not like he was drinking and driving… that I know of at least.

I have a little mirror that is attached to my helmet and I’m constantly looking at it to see the traffic behind me so I know what is coming at me.

Now I cannot say that it is 100% safe to ride as early as I do because even at 4:30am there are probably still some drunk drivers out there but usually when I ride that early there are maybe 1 or 2 cars every 10 minutes so it’s pretty safe where and when I ride.

You also have to consider the fact that I’m not riding in the busy streets along with traffic.  I start out in a neighborhood and I’m pretty much only in neighborhoods until I get to the bike path so there is not that much danger of getting hit.  And I know a route that gets me to the mall and to Target where it’s through neighborhoods and I never have to drive with traffic.

So is Bakersfield a safe place to ride a bicycle?  I think it is during the morning or during the daytime IF you aren’t driving in traffic where there are no bike paths or where cars are parked right in the bike path.  If you try to ride through neighborhoods then you are safe.  But if you drive alongside cars then there is never a guarantee that you are ever safe.  Even if you are crossing the street you aren’t ever safe because there are always reports of people getting killed while crossing the street.  Is it safe for me to ride here?  Yes, because I am a defensive rider and I pick the best safest routes.

If you live in a city that you aren’t sure where the safest routes are, why not just go to your favorite map website, I go to google maps and I map out my route then I adjust the route so I am going through neighborhoods then I print it out and hold it while riding through that neighborhood so I learn it so the next time I have to go that way I will remember.  And if I don’t remember then I print it out again (if I threw the old map out that is).

Merlin on NBC

Tonight Merlin was on NBC.  There were 2 1 hour episodes and considering magic is one of my most favorite things to watch on TV I just had to watch it.  I was a little bit disappointed that the King banned magic or face death but I guess it will make it even more interesting to watch.

As I said there were 2 1 hour episodes.  I completely forgot it was going to be on so I almost missed it.  I IM’d a friend of mine who I know wanted to see it so I reminded her and she didn’t even know it was 2 hours either so she had to go into the program on her VCR to add the extra hour.  She records it then watches it the next day.  I on the other hand have to watch shows on their premiere night so I can turn around and come here and post my comments.

I liked it.  There, I said it.  Keep in mind that my kind of show is more of a modern day show with cars and computers and the use of telephones instead of horses, abacus and shouting at each other but it was good.

The actor who played Merlin looks very young like he’s 17 or 18 years old, he’s very skinny but he plays the role great.  I loved how at the beginning he didn’t have to say anything to cast spells, it just happened.  That was pretty cool.

Now next week he will be exposed and face death but you can’t believe he will because they just started the show, why would they throw the towel in after 3 episodes?  Now when I say exposed, I mean the King finds out he is a wizard, not that he dropped his towel in front of someone lol.  Come on people, get your mind out of the gutter.  Oh wait, that was my mind.

Anyway, hope everyone else enjoyed/enjoys Merlin Sunday’s on NBC.  Ding ding ding.

Too Cold To Ride

Well, it seems that Summer isn’t quite yet here.  I have been waking up nearly every morning at 4am to go out bike riding thinking that it would be in the 90’s or 100’s during the day so I’m basically trying to beat the heat.  Well, we had heat for maybe a week but then it was gone.

The last 3 days (including today) it has been too cold to ride.  Yeah I could’ve just gone out when the temperature was in the 70’s but I’ve gotten so used to riding when there are no cars when the sun isn’t up yet that I don’t want to go out during the day.

Friday I checked the weather channel application on my computer and it said that there were going to be thunderstorms so I didn’t go out.  Yesterday when I went outside to go bike riding it was raining, well more like sprinkling but you know how it goes.  It starts out with a sprinkle then next thing you know it’s raining hard.  So I just stayed in.  This morning it was so cold outside and I just decided to wait until when it was warmer and now it’s too warm even though it’s only 68 lol.  Well, the weather channel says 68 but it’s warmer than that outside.

Hopefully tomorrow it will be ok.  It’s supposed to be 85 during the day and it says that I should wear pants and a jacket at 7am for exercising because it will be 65 but that is a good temperature in the early morning to exercise for me.

I never thought I would say this but I wish the heat would come back lol.

Early Morning Bike Ride

Well, I did it.  I set the alarm clock for 4am and of course had to push the snooze and when it went off again in 10 minutes I decided ok, I need to do this, I need to wake up and get ready.  So I got up, went and got a bowl of raisin bran cereal.  I read my emails which weren’t that many since the last time I read them last night lol.

I like to eat then wait 30 minutes to go, so 4:45am came and I left the house and it was pitch black outside.  Thank goodness for bike lights.  Although I didn’t realize until I got there that the back light wasn’t working at all.  It wasn’t until the sun came out that I realized that it was because the wire snapped off.  UGH!  It’s easily repairable.

What I especially liked about riding that early is that there are absolutely no cars.  0 cars.  Well, there were a couple but none that I had to worry about.  Of course being that early I had to stop and push the walk button because certain lights just won’t turn green unless the sensors detect a car sitting there and they don’t detect bicycles.

While I was on the bike trail that early in the morning before the sun came up there were no other riders which isn’t odd for me not to see anyone because in the daytime there are barely any other riders.  So it really didn’t make much of a difference.  But when the sun did start coming up I did start to see a couple of riders.

Even coming home with the sun up at 6am there still weren’t any cars.  I finally got home at 6:22am so I was gone about an hour and half but my total time was 1 hour 5 min.  Hey, I have to take a break during my ride lol.

Now that my muscles are getting used to riding I’m gonna experiment with going out again tomorrow and then the day after that.  I want to go out every day, not just every other day.  I want to get as much exercise in as I can because the weight is coming off.  So, we will see tomorrow if I go out or not hehe.

Bubble On The Sun

Yesterday I was thrown into a total panic.  Just before Darrin went to work he told me about this story he saw on the news about this bubble that is on the sun and that by 2012 there will be a solar flare that will knock out all the satellites and will end all life as we know it.

Now, when you hear this what comes to mind?  I’ve watched the Nostradamus specials on the history channel and the discovery channel all telling that he stopped writing about what will happen in the future so they think that since there is nothing after November 2012 that it will be the end of the world.  Basically judgment day right?  Well, when Darrin told me that the sun will “end life as we know it” it put me into a total panic.

I was thinking all day that you know, there’s nothing we can do about it.  There is no way we can fill up a spaceship and board it with all the humans and animals and leave because we don’t have one yet.  Stargate SG-1 is just a TV show, not a reality.  The government can’t just start gathering people and animals and take them to Colorado and bring them to the Stargate and put them on another planet.  It’s not real.

The government might have some contacts with aliens from other worlds and contact them and ask for their assistance to find us a new planet and come beam us up Scotti and take us to our new planet.  But I highly doubt they know any aliens and if they did they’d probably want to eat us.

Darrin calls on his lunch break and by then my world is in complete chaos.  In my head people are running in the streets looting stores and turning over cars.  Digging underground bunkers which would do no good if the earth blew up.  I asked him what he was talking about.

He said that the ozone layer wouldn’t be enough to protect the satellites and they would basically turn off or be disrupted or something.  That the electrical grids would probably shut off too and we would be thrown back in time by 100 years, not literally but as far as our technology.  The earth is not doomed to destruction and Jesus is not coming to claim the souls lol.

WHEW!  Basically we wouldn’t have satellite TV or radio and they would have to find a way of repairing the satellites and/or replacing them and they would have to work on fixing the electric grids to turn our power back on.  We probably wouldn’t have cell communication or email or tv or whatever.  We would have to start reading again and the stores would have to use their brains to sell things instead of a cash register because no electricity and all…  And all the food would go bad because they need power to keep cold.

But, time will tell what will happen.  Perhaps they will have it all figured out by then and they will have Solar panels more in play than they do now for grocery stores and any other business.  People will be able to afford solar panels for their houses.  I need that because of my bipap machine.  If I have no electricity then I’m going to die because I have to sleep with a mask pushing air into my lungs, no air = no life.  I die.  So this isn’t good for me.  Unless I can lose 75lbs in the next 4 years I’m pretty much screwed.  That is if the fat is what is causing sleep apnea.  I don’t know that it is or it isn’t.

At any rate, now is a good time as any to start taking this diet seriously.  I mean, dead seriously if you know what I mean.  Maybe if I can lose all this weight then I won’t need the bipap machine anymore.  That’s 1 less dependant.

As far as my electronics are concerned.  I have a little solar charger that I can plug into my electronics to charge their batteries.  They also sell backpacks that have a solar charger on them so you can charge things so while I’m riding my bike I can be charging things like my mp3 player, PSP and Kindle (if I have one by then).  If the cell phones don’t work then it won’t matter if my cell phone is charged up or not.

If the TVs don’t let us see TV anymore then we can all start talking to each other again and read books and maybe the kids can go outside and play and get skinny again.  Perhaps this would be good for humanity to shed all these pounds of fat.  If the kids can’t play with their PlayStation 6 anymore because there is no electricity then they can go play Basketball 2.0.  I mean, that’s why people have back yards right?

Maybe the bike trails will be packed with people and they will have to turn it into a 4 lane bike trail instead of it’s 2 lane bike trail.  Who knows.

All I know is that 4 years isn’t too far off.  Yeah it might seem like it is to some people but I’m 38, going on 39 in a couple of months.  These last 4 decades have gone by too fast so 4 years is nothing to me.  4 years can come in the blink of an eye so be prepared for it.

KFC Dollar Menu

Talk about your false advertising.  I’ve been seeing these commercials on TV for the KFC dollar menu where these 2 guys are in the car and the driver is all “you have a dollar menu?” then he looks back to the people in their cars behind them yelling “They have a dollar menu” while the passenger is laughing.

Then there is the commercial with the “spy” asking if they have the secret recipe and asking how much and the guy inside says a dollar.

They show all these things as being a dollar.  Well, we were at the KFC today and their dollar menu had the following products.  KFC Snackers in many different flavors, original, crispy, honey BBQ and one other which I can’t remember.  Then they had 2 biscuits for $1 and 2 pies for $1 and 3 cookies for $1.  That’s it.

They had several other items for $1.49 and $2.49 but that’s hardly a dollar.  Why are things that are a buck and a half or two bucks and a half on the one buck menu?  That’s false advertising.

And speaking of false advertising.  We bought 4 KFC snackers, 2 original for Darrin and 2 crispy for me.  They were so tiny and we couldn’t tell which were original and which were crispy.  But they were so small, I said to Darrin we would’ve been better off going to McDonald’s getting the Chicken sandwiches from their dollar menu because they were twice as big as the KFC snackers.

My opinion, go to McDonald’s, you get more bang for your buck buck buck.  Pun intended.