Saturday, May 21, 2011

Earning My Keep

This week I was afforded the opportunity to do some manual labor, or what I refer to as "oh yeah, now I remember why I went to college".  At work we volunteered to break down some old furniture and move it to a warehouse to save the government money by precluding the use of contractors (I can feel the gratitude oozing from you, my fellow tax-payer).  This would have been much easier had two issues not arisen.  1. Almost all of the furniture was made of sheet metal.  Apparently composites made of plastic and wood had not been invented in the 80s when this particular set of rooms was furnished, which would have conveniently made the pieces we were hauling weigh less than 40 pounds each.  2. The numerous volunteers that we were promised would show up to help with the project did not, in fact, show up.  Had this ocurred, rather than the lion's share being accomplished by me and 3 other people, the work would have been much faster and my back wouldn't hate me right now.

Apparently a glutton for punishment, after finishing this project I went to a friend's house todayto help him move rocks.  Yes, you heard right.  Although this sounds like an activity that only prisoners would be force to undergo, I voluntarily chose to help my buddy with his home landscaping project.  I must say, I am all for dooing things oneself both to save money and for personal pride, but in the case of xeroscaping, it could be argued this activity should never be undertaken with a set of shovels and a wheelbarrow, but instead should be accomplished by professionals with a bobcat and big burly guys, or possibly a posse of foreign nationals eager to perform manual (or is it "Manuel"?) labor for a farthing.  Of course since this particualar individual spent hours helping me put hardwood floors in my house (and by "helping" I mean he did the majority of the work and I assisted by measuring and cutting boards) I felt I owed what little muscle power I could provide.

I must say that while shoveling, separating, and carting loads of rocks is a particularly enjoyable way to spend one's weekend, the highlight of my day came when my friend's junior high daughter felt it necessary to point out that she is now taller than me.  I let her know that being taller than me is not much to get excited over, sort of like being pumped that you just beat Steven Hawkings in a pickup game of basketball.  But we all have to have our little victories I guess.  At least I could carry more rocks than her.  Probably.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Good Old Days

Today I decided to share some old poetry with you. My mom recently reminded me of this gem, which I wrote when I was a teenager in the Army in 10 minutes between Russian classes.  Like so many poems it just came to me and I jotted it down.  Apparently my mom still has the original, but here it is for you to enjoy.  It is titled Ode to the Womb, and speaks of better times.

Ode to the Womb
Oh to be in the womb again
Life it was so simple then
Just sleeping and eating and sleeping again
Amniotic fluid was my best friend

The umbilical cord was another friend
Always had food which he would lend
And what's more each and every day
He carried all my waste away

The night was dark, and so was day
It was a nice, warm place to stay
I could go for a swim or just hang around
Because that life-sustaining fluid did abound

But as time went by and as I grew
The time would come, and soon, I knew
When I would have to relocate
And this was no cause to celebrate

Then came the day and I did fight
To keep my home, with all my might
But it's hard to win when you're not too stout
And your landlady just wants to get you out

And since that day I have not found
No matter how much I look around
A place with half as good a room
As my safe and cozy rent-free womb!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

Recently I noticed that it was a bit diffiecult to shift gears on my motorcycle, so I took her in to the shop.  At my last visit a couple of months ago for my semi-annual oil change, they notified me that my rear brakes were completely gone, and I had warped my rotors because they were braking metal on metal.  In addition to changing the oil they gave me some new brake pads, and I quickly appreciated the stark difference in stopping ability.

This time, although they could find nothing wrong with the shifter, they informed me I needed new front pads and a rear tire.  The tire was no surprise, as they advised me of my need for a new tire the last time I was in.  I was a bit sceptical, as there was still tread along the sides (and isn't that where it's most important, for hugging the curves?).  The middle of the tire was perfectly smooth, but I assumed motorcycle tires are made that way, similar to racing bicycles that don't have any visible grooves for tread, but rely instead upon the rubber compound to grip the road.

Imagine my surprise when I got my bike back with the new rear tire (I decided to go ahead and follow their advice this time) and it was covered in tread all over!  Huh, guess that other tire was really bald.  I also noticed that I don't have to squeeze the right brake lever very hard to engage the brakes, whereas before I had to squeeze it all the way to the hand grip.

So needless to say I feel really fortunate to have not had an accident while riding a bike with limited braking capability and a rear tire probably on the verge of blowing out.  On the bright side, Bessy stops much quicker now.  I'm glad my mechanic is smarter than I am.  I knew there was a reason I paid him so much.