Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keeping the Werewolves Out

I don't know if this post attempt is going to work from here. We'll see...

Instead of just hanging out alone at the house as pathetically as I did all day I came out for the sake of getting out. I'm at Panera Bread with a pecan twist resting comfortably in my gut and a chocolate pastry on its way to rejoining its old plate buddy. A cup of decaf's keeping me warm along with my winter coat that's still zipped, and I imagine that the fireplace about six feet away is helping too. It's COLD here in Pennsylvania.

A college girl with "MANDA" across the back of her sweat pants makes me yearn for that time in my own life, 30 years ago, when I'd have made some substantially different choices if I could have known then things that I know now. But Thomas Wolfe was right. You can't go home again. The best you can do some Saturday nights is to sit with a bunch of strangers all around you in a warm place that, if it were darker and served stout, warm ale, might have been one of those English inns of yore where the heavy oaken door was the only thing keeping the werewolves out on the moor.

I have to pee. Do I carry this iPod in with me? I don't want to pocket it and risk losing all that I've typed with my nose picking finger so far. And I need more coffee. Am I supposed to take the mug in with me too?

I'm back. I refilled before I hit the head and left the full cup on the table to keep my space. I slipped the iPod into my loose jacket pocket only long enough to use the urinal and wash my hands.

The place was hopping when I got here but it's emptying out. The conversations aren't really worth trying to latch onto. A woman a while ago was telling her friend firmly, "Stop being the mother!" She repeated to punctuate it. I hear myself often saying pretty much the opposite to somebody I love. Maybe I should just be more grateful that I got to be a daddy and never had to be a mother. Hopefully I'll never have to be the focus on some therapist's couch. Oh! Wait! I've already been that. Dear, God! Where my thoughts go when I type with one finger! This sure ain't the piece of writing that might have come out of me if I were back in my usual chair.

It's nearly an hour since I got here. I didn't write much because of the slow input pace but I like the different style of prose that came out of my fingertip. It's a stream of something, though not necessarily consciousness. I'm sending this and hoping it'll hit the blog as intended; if not I'll fix it at the PC later.

That's it. I'm out of here. Now I gotta fart and if I dare do it on this faux leather I fear I'll bounce like a jackhammer.

[I did have to fix the post when I got back to the house. All the text south of the picture was missing from the original post. Good thing I had the presence of mind to e-mail the whole post to myself. In addition, I can't seem to be able to justify the type now. Maybe if I try to edit the HTML... Yeah! That did it!]

[Oh! As for the picture. I took it with my phone, e-mailed it to the iPod, and then inserted it into the post. Any kludge in a storm, right?]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mini Thaw

It was only a few evenings ago when I visited the scooter under the deck. I thought it might be lonely out there in the dark and cold. I hadn't heard its voice in many weeks - not even a clearing of its throat to let me know it was still alive out there. I was already in my "long winter's cap" and other assorted things that I call pajamas though they're just sweats and flannels, but I came back into the house, got the key, unplugged the trickle charger and fired it up the BV. It roared to life and I let out the breath I hadn't realized I was holding till I felt it whooshing through my teeth. All was well! There wasn't much to photograph of the moment, so I snapped a shot of the illuminated headlight.

I let the engine idle for a while, revved it a few times, and then shut it all down to reattach the charger. I didn't think I'd get to ride for quite some time yet. There was still a bit of ice in the alley that separates the backyard from the street and the temperatures had been more or less around freezing and below since Christmas. To my delight, as I watched the forecasts this past week, there was some promise of highs in the low and mid 40s. I didn't let my hopes get too high, but in the back of my mind there dwelt the hope of possibly getting a ride in sometime soon. I got up this morning and it was still terribly cold. After my shower I jumped into the car and ran a few errands. (Okay, I got dressed, first, but you know what I mean!) It was while sitting in a sunbeam at a red light that it dawned on me that it was getting warmer as the sun moved higher in the sky. I raced home, intent on going riding for a while.

It had been way too long! In part I'd forgotten just how free I feel when I'm on that bike. I believe this was the longest I'd gone without a single ride since I started scootering in the spring of '07, and the longer I went without mounting the BV the less I felt like doing it using the early darkness and the spirit sapping cold as easy excuses for not even wanting to ride. When I got the scooter onto the street and opened up the throttle it all came back to me in a flash. I was on my way! I was going nowhere in particular and loving every turn of the wheels!

I had to get a photo or two to put here and to keep in the directory of scooter pictures which I use as a pictorial diary of when I did what. (I try to keep the date and time on my digital cameras exact so I can document my times and places accurately.) I took this shot in the back of a parking lot in a small municipality across the river. For as big as my mouth is, I surprise myself when I tend to look for back alleys and out of the way places to take pictures of myself rather than to set up a tripod in full view of traffic so as to encourage passersby to think, "Hey! Look at the dork on the scooter taking pictures of himself!"

On January 15th McDonalds' free Wifi went on tap and I was there to help inaugurate it at one of the Somerset locations!

Photo by Susan

Today's ride was my first chance to take the iPod Touch on the scooter! I visited some of the local McDonalds to see if their free Wifi was up and running. It is!

I'd called the local franchise owner a few days before McD's started serving it up free because I'd been hearing since the week after Christmas that the free Wifi was going to start being served up in "mid January" which was as specific a date as I could find anywhere online. I was delighted when she told me that it would be going live on the 15th when I'd be out of town because my opportunity to give it a whirl would conveniently coincide with my travel plans. The only disappointing news she gave me was that the large McDonalds near the Wyoming Vally Mall won't have it. I wonder if it's because they fear that too many of the mall rats would do nothing but gobble up the bandwidth but too little of the McFood with a huge Sonic right across the street.

I hope McD's started a revolution and that other places are going to feel enough of a pinch in their sales so that they'll bring out the fee free wireless as well. I wrote to the head of P.R. at Sheetz to encourage them to jump on the bandwagon, assuring them that I'm going to buy gas and food on the road nearer to McDonalds' locations because of the free Wifi. And I will!

I don't know when I'll get out on the scooter again. Temperatures are supposed to stay warm through Monday, but tomorrow I'll be visiting college daughter and it's supposed to rain through the start of the work week. After that, we'll be back in the 30s, but warmer, longer days are coming and I can't wait!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Solitude and Such

Only a few days after posting here about my love of sitting, I got this in my cookie at my favorite Chinese buffet...

It got a chuckle out of me, of course because I consider myself quite rich from sitting.  Oh, not rich in material wealth, but in the cerebral kind of satisfaction that I enjoy more than most other kinds. Seeking and sitting aren't mutually exclusive as my dessert would seem to suggest.  I've sought lots from the comfort of this very space, and I've found and discovered much.

I grew up in a home where one of the regular credos often proclaimed was, "I'd rather be an hour early than a minute late."  It was my mom's dad, my first hero, who typically spoke those words as if from on a soapbox or in a pulpit.  One of my uncles was once a few minutes late in taking gramps to church where he was the organist, and, as I'm told, that uncle was on the outs with him for months after that.  I get to school each morning nearly an hour before the kids come in for homeroom activities. My little Neon is often the first or second car in the lot, as it was this morning when I snapped this shot. 

I enjoy the still silence of our building early in the morning before it comes alive with the joyful sounds of kids' voices.  Not that I don't appreciate the animated life to which the kids bring our school when they arrive, but in the early, peaceful solitude I find a certain and unique satisfaction alone in its kind.  I could stay here at the house each morning instead of getting to school early.  I would be equally alone here and it would be just as quiet.  But there's something special about our school building that compels me to spend that time alone there each morning.  There's a kind of magic there, and I love it.

I was at a hockey game this evening, at the local arena, and imagine my thrill when I pulled out the iPod and discovered that there's free Wifi there!  It almost made me care if the Penguins would win.  They did, and so did I in tinkering on the internet instead of watching the Zambonis dance between periods.

Good night, all.  Tomorrow's thrill...  A haircut!  Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All Cozy and Connected

If you could see me much of the time, you'd find me right here in the trusty computer chair. For the past dozen or so years that I've been connected to the world via the internet I've been, for the most part, a chair (as opposed to couch) potato. Joe Scooter Rider is a relatively new persona of mine, and even the scooter riding comes right back to this very spot in which I sit at the moment because it wasn't long after I got my butt on the Fly50 that I started writing here about my scootering adventures which aren't, actually, very adventuresome except that my being on a two wheeled, motorized means of conveyance at all remains out of character for my overall personality.

On the rare and far between instances of network outages that I've experienced, I've felt horribly disassociated from the world. I'll bet the Germans have a word for that feeling. Those crafty wordsmiths seem to have a great word for everything, like "arschgeweih," which I learned recently from my daughter's German III college course, and "schadenfreude" which has been around for a while now. When I'm not able to get on the 'net for while I experience a withdrawal of sorts whether it's because of an ISP problem or simply that I'm a scooter ride away from a computer.

Those of you who've been here for a long time might recall two summers ago when I discovered the joy of writing an occasional blog entry from a public park while out scootering. There might be another German word for that too, but if there is, I don't know it. There's a sense of freedom about it. A sense of naughtiness too, somehow - maybe just from "borrowing" the bandwidth on somebody's WLAN. I was out of this chair, but I was still connected to the rest of the world, and I liked it! The trouble, though, was that I'm lazy, and packing up the laptop and then setting it up on a table in the park wasn't worth the hassle. The joy was short lived.

I'm off my tether again now, with the iPod Touch, and I've been having an absolute blast with it. I did a few e-mails from the toilet at work this morning and I enjoyed that unusual sense of freedom to the max. (Hmmmm. I might feel a new German word coming on... "Poopinmailen!") There are those folks who feel somehow insulted if you talk to them on your cell while you're pinching a loaf. Why? It's not like you're pushing the goop into your phone and extruding it into their ears. If there's anybody who's going to feel slighted if I write him an e-mail from the hopper, he'll just have to get over it. And for that matter, that goes just as well should I happen to tend to a mail between the shower and getting dressed.

Okay, I'm not going to write any major posts on the virtual keyboard; I know that already. I will, however, be able to check mails, get directions, keep an eye on the weather, and even peek in on my own webcam while I'm on the scooter this summer. I won't have to dismount, get the laptop out of the back pack, and go through all the rigmarole just to feel the connectedness that I can barely live without. On the occasion that I do feel like setting up the full shop on a picnic table to work on something more substantial, the iPod will serve as a handy wifi finder, and I won't be more than the nearest McDonald's away from all of you. Now doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

The internet! It's not just for your computer chair any more! I was going to write, "It's not just for when you're fully clothed any more," but I hear there are lots of folks who aren't necessarily dressed to the nines when they're web surfing as it is so I'll quit while I'm ahead - or at least think that I am.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oh! Yeah...

Happy 2010!  How'd I forget that two days ago?  Must have been 'cause I've been busy still putting the new toy through its paces.