Wednesday, July 25, 2007


My bike helmet had fallen to bits. Not the outside, silly, that's hard foam covered by a chocolately plastic shell. Mmm. It was the inside that was falling apart. The stuff that's supposed to be the soft cushion between my head and the actual hard helmet part. Yes, countless sweat-inducing rides had finally broken down the cushiony stuff, and what was left had become rags and bits of black soot that managed to stick to my forehead when I took the helmet off. And the velcro was now digging into my head, and that wasn't the comfy ride I was looking for.

The hard portion of the helmet seemed fine. And the rule of thumb is that you get one good wreck where you bonk your noggin against the ground, a car, whatever, then it's time to toss the helmet in the trash and buy a new one. But because I hadn't had the one good wreck yet, I figured I might just be able to buy the cushiony inside stuff.

So I went to my nearest bike shop, looked around, didn't find any, then went to the dude at the register and asked if they carried such a thing. "No, we don't sell that. How long have you had your helmet?" I said "I dunno, like four years maybe?"
"Four years, huh?" he said and I knew the sales pitch was coming. Register guy continued, "You might be able to find that inner stuff from your helmet manufacturer, but they're probably gonna say 'Four years, huh? It's time to buy a new helmet.'"

Not to be deterred by his sales pitch, I came back with "Why's that?"
Register guy told me "The elements, you know, they break the helmet down. UV rays, stuff like that."

UV rays indeed. They break down plastic covering hard foam to the point where my helmet might not work after four years of being in the sun a lot less than I am. I better get some stronger sunscreen if that's the case. Well I figured I was either gonna live with black particles and chafing velcro on my forehead every ride or I was gonna buy a new helmet. So I walked over to the helmet area and tried a few on.

This one was too weird looking, that one was too feminine. That other one was way too expensive. One of the bike shop employees saw me trying on helmets and came over and said in some Euro voice "Why don't you try dis one?" and pointed to the more expensive end of the helmet wall. I tried it on and it looked weird. He had me try on 5 more helmets before we found one that fit both my style and price range. He told me he wasn't a salesman, but a mechanic, and he walked over to the register to see if this one was on clearance. I followed him and stood, next in line.

The bike mechanic disappeared. I waited. The guy standing on my side of the register was buying the entire store and trying to figure out what else he needed. It was taking forever, and I really didn't want to buy a helmet that day anyway, so I left the helmet at the counter and walked out the door.

The next day I went to REI and bought a great helmet at 1/3 of the price and used my REI dividend to reduce the price even further. Good times. I tossed my old helmet in the trash. Wouldn't want anybody to mistakenly try to use it after all those UV rays might have secretly broken down the helmets innards.

I rode home wearing my new helmet and I could immediately feel the difference. Not only was there no sense of velcro chafe-age, there was actually more wind flow cooling my noggin! Amazing.

The next day I set out for work with my new helmet on. About 2/3 of the way there, as I turned to leave the Santa Monica beach bike path, my front tire slipped out on a swath of sand. I went to the ground so fast I can't remember it happening. Smacked my right shoulder on the pavement. I can't remember if I knocked my helmet or not. Yep, not even 24 hours after buying my new helmet, I wreck. Funny how that works.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Man Who Sold The World

I sold my laptop computer - a 2004 iBook G4 800 mHz 40GB HD 640MB RAM AirPort Wireless - last week on eBay. It's the first item I've ever sold on eBay. It's quite the exciting experience, let me tell ya. You get to see how many watchers are watching your item. See how much people are bidding. Or how much they're pushing the bid up to anyway.

When it was all said and done, the laptop went for $430 plus $20 shipping. Not too shabby when you consider how much mileage I got out of it.

Bought it for $1099
minus $430 (eBay sale)
equals $669

Had it for 41 months
equals $16.31 a month

divided by approximately 30 days a month
equals about 54 cents a day

Not too shabby.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

All About the Benjamins

The Washington Mutual Bank at 5th & Arizona in Santa Monica is a real mess. It's the most convenient bank for me to go to, but when I get there it's the most inconvenient place to be. There's always a really long line for the teller windows, and if I want to speak to a bank representative then I've got some sitting around to do.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks it's a mess. While waiting in the teller line at the bank recently, a bank representative from the desks asked "Does anyone have a straight deposit, no cash?"

The 2nd and 5th individuals in line turned toward the bank rep and raised their hands. The 5th guy immediately walked over and sat down. The woman who was 2nd in line threw her arms up in the air and muttered something to the 3rd person in line. She turned toward the 5th guy and shouted "I was next, but you can go ahead!" She shook her head and muttered something that sounded like a blast of tourettes to the 3rd person.

Then the doors to the left of the line swung open where a man with crutches stood, trying to hold the doors open. Everybody in line turned at once to look. He yelled "Whoever's working on the ATMs, ya can't shut 'em all down at once." I turned away, as if to avoid seeing what might come next. The bald bank manager in a teller window looked up. The man yelled again "NOW TURN ON THE GODDAMN MACHINES!"

The guy behind me let out a chuckle. The bank manager quietly said "We'll get right on it, sir". The man on crutches hobbled out of his door predicament. I felt good knowing that I was about to contribute to my child's college education.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Song to the Siren

It's hot. Not unbearably hot, but summer in SoCal hot. Hot enough that sleeping at night is a bit of a challenge. Hot enough that when I go in to check on the sleeping boy, his hair is moist. Hot enough that even in loud-ville, the windows have to be left open.

Lily and I were lying in bed Tuesday night, discussing whether or not to close the windows, when we heard horrible off-key singing outside. I was convinced it was our apartment manager, because I had seen her bringing her easel and paints to the patio. Lily was convinced it was somebody else. It wasn't somebody else, and it really didn't matter much who it was, we wanted it to stop.

The choice to close Judah's window was a tough one: Close the window so he doesn't wake up from a shrill note tickling his eardrum, but potentially making his room too warm? Or leave the window open so a breeze will come through with the shrill notes? I decided to close the window but leave his door open so some air flow would get in.

We heard our manager singing the same song over and over. Same chorus again and again. I looked out the window to make sure it was her, and it was, and she had headphones on and she was snapping her fingers. Now how one can paint and snap fingers at the same time is beyond my comprehension, but she was managing it.

After our laughter had worn out and the joke wasn't funny anymore, we decided to close the window closest to the singing. I drifted off to sleep shortly thereafter, only to awake about 30 minutes later to hear the same chorus. Firework/gunshot sounds were a welcome tune the following night.