Friday, April 15, 2005

Thought of the [undefined period of time] #5

There is a fine line between loving your country and fucking it.

[Previous undefined period of time: 10 days, 20 hours]

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How to fix a sweat (diary)

Today, I think the only thing I broke was a sweat.

It wasn't on account of the weather, or of me being overdressed. It was cool and I wasn't wearing too many layers.

I was coming home along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on my bike (Southbound) tonight at about 10:30 or so, with my bright lights on and all sorts of gear on me, when I saw another cyclist ahead of me. This was at about Third avenue, and he was about a block ahead of me, with his dinky red rear LED flashing behind him.

I was trying to decide if I should cut across Fifth avenue to the other end of Queen Elizabeth Driveway. This would enable me to determine whether this was actually faster than taking Queen Elizabeth for longer, but with fewer (actually no) stops. I would just have to see where he was once I got to the other end.

I decided against it because I had a good speed going, and had no idea whether I would see him on the other side anyway, or if I would recognize him. So I followed him, and eventually caught up with him by Landsdowne park. But I had a trick up my sleeve: instead of following the road and going up the hill like he was planning on doing, I chose to duck down onto the pathway, which was near the canal, and therefore fairly level.

I turned on both my 10W and 5W front headlights, in case there was anyone else on there, and I kept my speed at about 30kph. Nobody else was on there, as I expected at that time of night.

I also kept in my mind that I would eventually see him at the other side, and wanted to make sure that he was behind me when I did. I emerged at the Bronson Avenue bridge and crossed the road diagonally, as there were no cars to obstruct me. I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw him a hundred metres or so behind me. His front light was as dinky as his rear one was!

I kept up the pace, and noticed that it was slightly uphill towards the Dow's lake Pavillion. I noticed this because my legs were getting tired.

As I came to the lights at Preston, I noticed the green light was a bit stale, but the white 'walk' symbol was still illuminated. I ended up passing the intersection before the amber hand started flashing, despite my hope that a red light would cut the other guy off and I could rest.

So on I started up the Prince of Wales hill, my legs already beginning to ache from keeping the other guy behind me. When we passed the intersection at the John Carling building, I noticed that he had closed in on me quite a bit--maybe 20-30 metres between us.

I didn't want him to pass me, so I stood on the pedals and started to crunch. A tip I read in Bicycling magazine is to alternate crunching a high gear while standing, and pedalling a low gear while sitting, in order to rest different muscles at different times, and increase your endurance. This I did, and it seemed to have paid off.

Coming down the other side of the hill, I saw he was much further behind me than before. His dinky little front light looked like a keychain ornament at this point. I planned ahead and got on the path at the last possible point--so I wouldn't have to worry about those poorly-built crossings that aren't quite level. This would take me straight through on a dirt path towards where I was going.

He had the same idea. I don't know if he was just following me, or if he did this too. Anyway, I didn't see him anymore once I turned onto the dirt path. I continued towards home, with no red lights to stop me. I slowed my pace so that I could calm down a bit, and pulled into the driveway.

I put my bike in front of the shed, and took off my pannier. I headed towards the front door to get the key to the shed from inside. On my way, I saw him pass by a cross street.

I tried to think of something to say, but not too derisive. I eventually shouted, "Thanks for the adrenaline!" although I think he was too far to hear me at that point.

Anyway, I had fun on this trip. When I finally came inside, my heart was still going fast, and I had to take a couple of puffs for my asthma. I peeled off my jacket, because I had broken a sweat. And I felt good, because that was the only thing I broke today.

- RG>

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bow down to Über-FrankenStereo (diary)

I am in a good mood. After a while of toiling and a few bucks on connectors and cables, I have finally created the awesomest stereo system known to man. Very cheap man. Unlike Cockeyed.com, I will not actually describe in detail what the end product is until the end. Scroll down if you like.

I started with the following, which I took with me when I moved out of my dad's house:
- A turntable (late 1980s?)
- A stereo with CD, Radio, Cassette, RCA Aux input, and speakers (non-RCA) (1990s)
- Another stereo with a turntable, Radio, RCA Aux input, and 8-TRACK PLAYER!!! (1975)

There were the following problems:
- the belt from the drive motor to the turntable (1980s) seemed to be loose, as it would slow and speed up.
- the turntable did not have a pre-amp, so I had to turn the stereo (1990s) volume up very loud to listen to records, and it sucked.
- the turntable on the stereo (1975) was not working properly and I could not repair it (especially after I took it apart and had extra pieces left over after I put it back together!)
- I didn't have RCA-to-RCA cables to hook my stereo (1975) into the aux input of my other stereo (1990s)

I eventually noticed that I could remove the turntable from the stereo (1975), and that the two were connected with a power deelie and two RCA adaptors.

I went to an audio store (mom-and-pop type with lots of old phones in the window) to see if I could get a replacement belt. He said he couldn't find one of a similar size, and that I should bring in the turntable to make sure that this was the problem, because the cables cost $10 each (yikes!). I also picked up a 3ft RCA-to-RCA cable ($4.99) and an RCA-to-1/8" stereo cable ($5.99, more on that later).

A couple days later, I took another look at the turntable (1980s) and put a strip of electrical tape around the drum to tighten the belt. It seems to have worked. I also took the other turntable off the stereo (1975) to plug the turntable (1980s) into the jacks. Unfortunately, both were male ends. I would need connectors.

I also looked at the 8-track player. Like the 1990s turntable, there was a drive motor connected to a larger rotating drum with a cable. This cable was stuck to the two thingies, and broke when I peeled it off. I fashioned my own cable out of old bicycle tire and some #10 staples. The 8-track player was now turning.

To test the sound, I plugged the stereo into my laptop's microphone jack using the RCA-to-1/8" cable. After a bit of figuring out what plugs into where, and turning my microphone volume on (important step), I was able to listen to 8-track cassettes for the first time. The three cassettes that were in the box of the stereo are all variations on "best disco hits" (I can at least attest to them being disco...). There was a bit of wackiness on account of the cable being held together with staples. Oh well.

The sound on this, though, was absolute shit. 25 years of corrosion didn't want to come off easily. I went to the nearby audio shop and picked up some RCA connectors (a pack of 4 for $2.99), some isopropyl alcohol spray ($5.99), and some electrical tape (didn't actually use this, so I won't count the price). At the counter, I bought some chocolate-covered almonds to support child rape or something like that ($2). The guy said that there was a student discount, but on looking at the receipt, it looks like he didn't give it to me. Fuckhead.

I connected the turntable to the stereo and found that it did have a built-in pre-amp, as I suspected. I plugged the thing into my laptop and started playing music, and had a bite to eat (This is where the chocolate-covered almonds came in). However, after a while, I noticed a loud humming. I played around with the output plugs, but eventually it wouldn't give up.

Figuring I should try plugging it into the stereo (1990s) aux input to see if this would help it, I did so. I regretted getting only the 3' cable and not the 6' cable because my stereo (1975) was on my bed and my stereo (1990s) was on its stand in the middle of my room. No room to walk. Anyway, the loud noise kept coming back.

I seem to remember eating at this point. Maybe I had supper at this time, or maybe I just ate twice. I tend to eat a lot, despite my slender profile.

When I came back, I said fuck it and listened to a cassette in my stereo (1990s). I realized that the volume was really loud, then noticed that the volume knob on my stereo (1975) wasn't all the way up. When I put it up and adjusted the knob on my stereo (1990s), the sound was much more manageable.

I put the other two RCA connectors on the end of the 1/8"-RCA cable so that I could plug the cable from the stereo (1975) right into it (and have a longer cable). This would enable me to record from turntable and from 8-track. Très cool.

So here's the cost:
Laptop (already had)
Stereos and turntable ('stole' from parents)
RCA cables: $10.98 + tax
RCA connectors: $2.99 + tax
Spray cleaner: $5.99 + tax
Parts for 8-track belt: negligible
Chocolate-covered almonds: $2
Total cost of project: $24.95

With this, I will be able to copy all of my (and my friends') records into digital format (once I figure out how I'm going to do this. I am hell bent against buying software).

Yay.

- RG>

Monday, April 04, 2005

Thought of the [undefined period of time] #4

The first--and only--mistake a man can make is to try to figure women out.

[Previous undefined period of time: 5 months, give or take]

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fools Inbox

It might be that I woke up earlier in the morning and checked my email, but I could swear that on today, April Fool's Day, that I have fewer spam in my inbox.

A pleasant surprise, that's for sure!

- RG>