Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tank 341 - 30 January 2K13 (Delta Faucets Still Stink!)

This morning I stopped at the Fas Mart near my house and refilled the Mighty Corolla with 10.697 gallons of gasoline @$3.259 per gallon. The car has been driven 379.1 miles, so my fuel economy was 35.44 miles per gallon.

It had been fifteen (15) days since I had refueled last, so that's nice.

Plus, I noticed that the gas stations near my office were billing $3.299 per gallon, so I didn't spend about 40 cents because I refilled near home rather than near work. Except for the 7-11 right near my office which was also charging just $3.259 per gallon so that's a lie.

There are two things that are occupying my thoughts recently. First is that it's looking likely that people in my office will be furloughed one day a week for about five and a half months because of the dysfunctional government. On the bright side, it's not like a forced one month vacation without pay, just a half-year stretch with 80% pay. Which is fine, I guess, more time to ride my bike, you know?

But more importantly, I am starting to conclude new truths about Delta faucets. As you recall, I had a lenghtny hate relationship with the Delta Touch Faucet in my kitchen. It sucked. I strongly disliked it. But those turds at the Delta Faucet company wouldn't take it back, only give me credit towards another Delta faucet. And we eventually took them up on that offer, got a new Delta faucet, and sold the touch faucet for about $200 on Ebay (I like to remember $200 on Ebay, but I don't recall for sure the actual sale price. I'm about 65% confident it was near $200 though...)

So we have this regular Delta faucet now. I have realized that it wasn't just the crappy "touch" interface that sucked.

It's the entire Delts faucet lever mechanism. It's not well-engineered.

Most of my life, unbeknownst to me until now, I used kitchen faucets of the "Moen" type: the handle pulled straight up and down to control water flow, and swiveled side to side to control hot/cold. In this manner, assuming each water input was at the same pressure (which is possible by adjusting the shutoff valves under the sink), one can turn the faucet on to the desired pressure and then swivel the handle left and right to adjust the hotness of the water.

Delta faucets don't operate like that. The flow/adjust lever mechanism is like an inverted triangle of "infinite adjustableness," except it doesn't work smoothly. Fine adjustments that are effortless in the Moen-style are treacerous with the Delta, as the lever does not, will not, and can not move smoothly in small fine increments. So I get stuck with good temperature at too little flow, or way too hot at acceptable flow, or way too cold at too much flow.

And what's concerning me even more is that there are probably millions of people who think this is normal and fine and acceptable, because they know no better!

So now I have announced to the family that this faucet is no longer acceptable and I'm going to replace it with a Moen in the near future.

And. They. Can't. Stop. Me.

Because if it comes down to it, I'll wait until a furlough day when everyone else is at work or at school and I'll zip on over to the hardware store and buy a Moen and swap it out and put the Crappy Delta faucet on the Ebay and I will be victorious!

So, in a way, I can thank the ineptitude of the government for freeing me up to fix this horrible faucet situation!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well, I'm On Strava. Expecting to Accidentally Die Soon.

I bought a cheap GPS bike computer so I can upload my bike rides to Strava, this internet site where other people with GPS bike computers can upload their bike rides and in such was all rides can be compared on certain designated stretches of road to see how we each stack up to others who have ridden that stretch of road before.

A guy in California (I think) got himself killed because he rode his bike too fast down a hill and ran through a red light or something and ran into moving cars and died. His parents are suing Strava because he apparently was trying to get the speed record for that little section of road at the time.

While I find it interesting to finally be able to compare my rides with other guys who ride bikes, I don't think I'll get that worked up over it, right?

Maybe not.

Yesterday I went out on my first GPS-tracked ride. Before I went out, I looked around on the Strava for a segment that I could ride on to see where I rank in the standings. Turned out the bike path by the library is a segment, and about ten people have times on that stretch. SO I went out there to see how fast I could go on that 1.1 mile stretch.

I tried almost my absolute best (I think, at least, because I was breathing heavy and sucking wind when I was done) on that stretch and when I got home I saw I had the second fastest time, behind a guy named Justin who did it 12 seconds faster and ahead of #3 who was 10 seconds slower than me.

So I'm wondering, did I really try my best? Can I go faster? Does it even matter?

I'm happy that this stretch of bike path is away from car traffic. Indeed, one segment crosses US Route 1 at a point that I know is traffic-light-controlled, so that would mess up any timing if the red light stopped the ride.

I'm happy that my probably best effort is second on that part of the bike path. But I'll probably also try to beat my time and see if I can get to first place in the future.

Meanwhile, I see another piece of road nearby is also a segment with many rider times logged. So I'll probably go over there and see how I stack up.

Maybe this can be the thing I do this year- get as many second place Strava segments as I can.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tank 340 - 15 January 2K13 (I got it at the Wawa!)

I refilled my gas tank while at work just this morning. 10.983 gallons after going 388.7 miles, for a mileage of 35.39 mpg. It had been 13 days between tanks.

Turns out I'm taking this Friday off, so it won't be until the end of January that I'll have a five-day workweek again. I don't think I've gone to the office for five consecutive days since before Thanksgiving.

Well, I ordered a bicycle GPS unit, the cheapest Garmin Edge they sell. Still, at $130 it's not cheap. But as I was talking about it with my lovely wife, she foolishly let down her guard and said "you might as well go ahead and buy it since we know you're gonna buy it eventually!" So I did.

I have acquired other things in this manner as well. About 5 years ago, when I was recuperating from my back surgery and wasn't allowed to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time, Nintendo Wiis were the big popular game system and they seemed to never be in stock anywhere. And since my commute was 45 minutes, I just had to take a rest stop on my way home from those "difficult" half-days at the office.

I had started announcing to the family that I was stopping at Target on my way home and was going to buy a Wii if there was one there. The news at that time reported Wii shortages and out of stock reports everywhere, and my wife knew there was none anywhere, so she didn't onject to my announcement.

Well, one of those days I took my break at the Target and there was a Wii there and I bought it, plus the Wii Sports game that had the second controller, and the nunchuck attachments, too. And I got home and carried the Wii in to the house and the kids went nuts with happiness!

My wife was surprised at this expensive purchase (over $300 for sure!). She asked me why I bought it, and I responded that I had told everyone I was going to buy one if one was there, and since she didn't tell me not to, I went ahead and bought it!

Good times.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013: A Goal-less Year

Here we are, two weeks into the new year. The recent weather's been depressing: foggy, damp, cloudy and grey. I've managed just two bike rides so far this year, and one of them ended in a flat tire.

Just before the flat tire, I was riding an healthy wellness ride at work, and was considering the new year as I reflected upon the last. Last year, every bike ride was important; every ride had meaning. Each minute on the car balanced out a minute I had spent commuting to or from work in my car.

Likewise, I documented each and every trip to and from work in the car. These timekeeping efforts were important as I had made the goal to ride for more time than I commuted. I had a spreadsheet filled with data. I kept pie charts. And it all worked out that my bicycling efforts indeed ended up how I thought it would: I spent more time riding my bike than I spent commuting to and from work in my car.

I had noticed during the year that my new office, being about 15 miles closer to home, really added a predictive quality to my commuting trips. Whereas at the old building, every commute was an adventure. Some mornings I got there in 35 minutes, other times it took over an hour. Going home was the same. Some days were 40 minutes, most were closer to 50, and some were more like two hours.

But here in the new building, since September, my commutes to the office have been very consistent at 26-31 minutes, and my trips home, even during Christmastime, have been between 32-38 minutes (except for one day that took over an hour, but that was I think the one exception). Commutes have been so consistent that I have stopped tracking my trips this year.

So I have no real data. What was a large part of my life last year is now over. It's practically meaningless. And my lack of bike riding has prevented me from enjoying the fun of riding.

Yes, the weather will improve. Yes, my flat tire is fixed. Yes, I'll go on more bike rides. But it appears that I won't need to make any new comparison between riding and bicycling this year. Making a goal of "just have fun" won't cut it because as we all know, every ride is fun for some reason.

And with each day that passes without a ride, I can feel myself sliding back into the complacent world of laziness.

But, if this is the worst of my problems, that means everything else must be pretty good, so I best not complain...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tank 339 - 2 January 2K13 (Starting Off Right)

I put 11.394 gallons of gas in the Mighty Corolla on Wednesday, after driving it 398.9 miles, so my mileage was a measley 35.01 mpg. The gas was acquired at the Sheetz near the Wegman's near my home.

It had been 21 days since I had last put in gas. That's almost three weeks, and was the second longest stretch of time between tanks ever in the more than eight years of owning this car.

This will be an interesting yesr for the Corolla. It will be an entire year with the new shorter commute, so I expect my total miles driven to plummet, relatively speaking. Also, because historically my jobs didn't encourage taking vacations, I have been a "leave hoarder" and never really taken much time off. I've also job-hopped almost regularly and thus never really stockpiled bunches of time off. But now I have a nice job working for the Man, and I don't plan on leaving it, and in the past years I am now in the proper spot where I sit on a pile of vacation time and most all additional time off that I accumulate this year is of the "use it or lose it" variety.

I do not intend on losing it.

So there's probably going to be at least two complete weeks off, and more than a few long weekends. That means even fewer days going to work. SO fewer miles driven, so less gas used... However, my mileage apparently is now no longer special on account of how my normal commute is now on twisty country roads, which are fun to drive on but not that good for fuel economy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Final: Bike by 57 Minutes.

Taking out the 45 minute spin class, I still met the goal.

Taking a sick day today. Data review will have to wait...