My First Full Week of Bicyclomuting

I present my observations and impressions about bicycle commuting in the south hills of Pittsburgh PA.

I commuted from my house to my office and back including three side trips to various stores using my 1980’s Cannondale for a full week.  I was lucky enough to miss all the heavy rain though I biked in some drizzle.  Bicycling around the South Hills of Pittsburgh isn’t the easiest commute.  The hills really are something to contend with.  I found I either was in my lowest or highest gear almost all the time.  Literally only about 25% of the trip could remotely be considered level.  Here are my observations:

  1. The laws of physics simply do not apply:
    1. Despite what scientists have told us, it is possible to ride uphill in both directions.
    2. You become invisible to most motorists.  Drivers can be looking right at you when you have the right of way.  You can make direct eye contact and enter the intersection.  They will then begin to turn directly into you.  Only then do you become visible again.  At that point they will have an involuntary reaction of depressing their horn.  For a really long time.
    3. Humans in Pittsburgh that are somehow able to see you will find you irresistibly annoying.  Many people will yell, point at you as if they have never seen a bicycle and then display their middle finger to you.  You do not need to actually be doing anything to elicit this response.  Your mere existence seems to elicit hate hormones.
  2. It is possible to avoid almost every major road if you are willing to ride longer and climb more.  That was a tradeoff I was happy to make.  My drive to work is 1.2 miles but my bicycle commute is 2.2.  Even so, my normal commute is 17 minutes and cycling added only 5 minutes onto the time.
  3. Fenders are mandatory and not an option.  On the day of drizzle I was lucky enough to be wearing a rain slicker and that absorbed the worst of the road spray.

I must admit that the experience was an overall positive even despite the caveats above.  Most drivers are beyond courteous.  They gave me a wide berth and they cheerfully waved me by, even when they didn’t have to.  I felt like I saw things I usually miss on the way.  I felt more awake both before and after work.  I became more mindful of my activities before and after work.  I had to plan my trips and minimize unnecessary trips.

Project 333 JUN-AUG 2018

In this blog post I describe my participation with Project 333, a method of creating a small wardrobe that is coordinated, season and activity-appropriate and that changes every 90 days.

An article in the Daily Mail said

When taking into consideration the averages revealed by the respondents, as well as the fact that a woman’s adult lifetime is, on average, 62 years from the age of 18, it appears that women own on average, in a lifetime, 1,116 tops, 620 dresses, 310 skirts, 372 cardigans/ jumpers, 558 trousers or jeans, 248 coats or jackets and 434 pairs of shoes.

Daily Mail Article

When I first got interested in Minimalism I reduced my wardrobe in three large increments.  The first reduction involved taking everything I owned and throwing it on the bed and then trying all clothing on and getting rid of items that were too large or that were out of style or moth-eaten or damaged.  I estimate that I got rid of 200 items filling at least 6 large trash bags.  Then about a year later I repeated this process but this time I got rid of items that were both too small and too big.  I also got rid of dozens of shirts from running races.  And, applying a stricter criterion of what is a quality garment, I purged an additional 3-5 large trash bags and I’d estimate another 150 items.  Still, I have clothing that I hardly ever wear and some items that are essentially duplicates.  I’ve vacillated between feeling like I should donate all of these and having a sentimental attachment to items or an irrational desire to hold onto them for other reasons.  Examples include that the items are practically new, or that I might want to wear them someday or they are only slightly snug and I will fit into them soon.

What I always yearned for was a wardrobe that looked coordinated, had what I needed but without excess that would only take time to winnow down, was in good condition and that I felt comfortable in.  Enter Project 333.  Website for Project 333  I’ve tried to do this before but got sidetracked when I tried to simultaneously limit exercise kit, socks and underwear.  In this iteration, I stayed closer to the original intent, as I understood it, to develop a work/leisure wardrobe.

I’ve chosen my favorite 33 items to wear for the summer. This includes all shoes, belts, ties, jackets, a sweater, and even the cap. It excludes running and biking kit, shop/gardening kit, sleep ware, and socks/underwear.

I plan to purchase a merino tee and a sun blocking hiking shirt at Patagonia and then I’ll swap out two items

I look forward to adding jumpers and cardigans in the fall

The kit was designed to include what I will need at the office, at home and also for my hiking trip to Wyoming in AUGUST.

I’ve never honed it down this far but hope this will give me the courage to let go of the seasonal items I don’t wear in September.

Unlike the original Project 333 I don’t count my watch or wallet or sunglasses etc.  Project 333 is more of a concept versus a set of rigid rules.  I hope that by having my highest quality or favorite items I will feel better about my wardrobe and spend less time thinking about what to wear and have less “decision fatigue.”

Ode to Doc Emrick

I occasionally listen to old sports broadcasts by Howard Cosell, Red Barber, Vin Skully, or Keith Jackson and when I do I’m nostalgic for the voices of my youth. The voices that held the essence of summer or fall.

This is how I feel when I listen to Doc Emrick.

Although I’ve got a soft spot for Mike Lang (Lord Stanley Lord Stanley Pass me the brandy) because I watch the Penguins and Gary Thorne because I’m a Maine Black Bear, I recognize Emrick’s genius.

Part cornball, part all-seeing hockey eye, Emrick makes even the mundane exciting

My dream is to have him announce my out of office message. “Bruce isn’t in the office now and OH YOU CAN LEAVE A MESSAGE IF YOU WANT TO!!!!

It’s one thing to remember greatness but quite another to hear it unfold in front of you.

Removing Coffee Stains in Ceramic Mugs with Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser

Bar Keepers Friend cleanser can remove old coffee stains from ceramic mugs

I have some mugs that are 25 years old. I took it for granted that the coffee stains were permanent. Then I tried scrubbing the bottom with dish soap with no improvement. Next was toothpaste. I hoped the mild abrasive would help. If it can restore headlights I hoped it could restore mugs. Still, no improvement. Finally I tried Bar Keepers Friend. This has a very fine abrasive. It worked well. Here are two pictures taken before and two after cleaning.

I would also have used Bon Ami. I’m not sure I would use Ajax or Comet but please comment if you had success. Finally I would not scour the outside because I think it would remove the decoration.