April in Review

Since the weather today is very rainy, I know I’m not going anywhere. Figured I’d take a look at April.

Odometer reading: 36978, which means I drove 256 miles for the month. According to my calendar, the car came out of the garage 14 days. I’m quite pleased with that. April is also 30 Days of Biking and I successfully rode every day in April. I remember doing one long ride of around 23 miles, but for the most part my rides were just going to work, which is six miles each way. My total for the month was 281 miles, bringing my total for the year to 607 miles. That’s all really good.

Financially speaking, I did really well. I had the weird opportunity to have my house used for a tv show. It ended up not happening, but since I signed a contract I was paid. So that was a nice extra chunk of money. I’ve already saved it to help cover the cost of any hotels I get this summer and to build back up my emergency fund.

Health-wise, things are ok. The knee feels pretty good and I’m pretty sure that all the biking is helping. I’ve slacked off a bit on the stretching since I’m no longer going to therapy and I need to get back into that. But I’ve been doing tons of woodworking and other projects where I’m standing and moving around a lot, so I know it’s much, much better. I should have gone to therapy months ago, but better late than never. I think next month will be when I start jogging again. The weather should (hopefully) be a little warmer and I can ease my way into it. Though, I want to continue to bike a lot because it just makes me happy.

I’ve started reading a book (Cinder) with Abby on FaceTime and it’s pretty good. I’ve been reading more overall, which is making me happy. My basement is a mess of wood, but I’m pleased because I’m making progress on some different projects. I’ve been watching tons of youtube videos of woodworking channels and have lots of ideas. Now I just need to start trying things to improve my skills. I’m also getting very good at completely disconnecting from work. When I close up my laptop to leave, I’ve been turning off my mail program and not turning it back on until I return the next day. This causes me to have a little anxiety on Sunday nights when I don’t know what kind of mess I’ll be walking into on Monday. But aside from that, it’s good. I want to start thinking of my life outside of work and all the other things that I want to do.

I recently read a great blog post from Derek Sivers about possible futures. I love the idea of doing research on ideas that come into your head and keeping them on my computer. I may never do anything with them, but since they’re something I think about it’s good to write them down. Think I’m going to start doing that.

First Long Ride

The weather today is BEAUTIFUL! After going through the lousy weather of late, a day like today is glorious. I couldn’t wait to get outside and go for a bike ride. My plan was to ride up to Barnes and Noble to get some books for a project. The store was is just over six miles from my house and I left about an hour before it opened, figuring I’d ride around. I was enjoying the ride so much that I just decided to head up to the north side. I texted my cousin Janet and ended up riding to her house in Logan Square. I hung out with her a for a while and then head over to the bookstore. At about the 19 mile mark, I stopped at a grocery store and got some milk and donuts, which I took to Ping Tom Park (my favorite park in the city) and had a little picnic. Then, I rode home. Total ride time: 2 hours and 18 minutes. Total distance: 23.22 miles. Me: totally happy.

Playing around with Mapbox

Link to my ride

Citizen by Louise W. Knight

I just finished the book Citizen by Louise W. Knight. The subtitle is “Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy”. It’s basically a biography of Jane Addams. Honestly, I didn’t really know much about her, except that she founded Hull House and that there’s a grade school near where I grew up that was named after her. I knew Hull House was a settlement house, but didn’t really know what a settlement house was. The book was good in that it detailed the start of the settlement house and her life up to around 1899. The weird part was that Jane Addams died in 1935 or so. The years from the end of the book until she died were where she had become quite well-known and influential. I thought it weird that the author would end in the middle of her life. But I think she was trying to show how she went from wealthy little girl to one of the best-known social crusaders. I’ll have to find another biography about her to get the rest of the story.

Since I grew up just outside Chicago, I had heard of many of the people and places in the book. I’ve been by Hull House many times, just never knew what really happened there. One of these days I’ll have to go in. I’d also heard of George Pullman. In fact, I visited the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago over the summer. It was very interesting to hear the story of the strike and the different opinions that people had. The weirdest connection I found in the book was that Jane Addams father was a close associate of Luther Guiteau. Luther Guiteau was the father of Charles Julius Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield. I’m pretty sure that this was touched on in Sarah Vowell’s book Assassination Vacation, that I read years ago. John Addams (Jane’s father) took in the Guiteau family after the assassination to basically shield them from the press. It was an interesting connection to read about. Another was that Jane Addams and John Dewey were pretty good friends. This connection makes sense, as I can see that they were both interested in many of the same things. The book was full of interesting characters who were very involved in trying to make democracy work in Chicago.

The book was quite enjoyable, but I would have liked it better if it had covered her whole life. I think the next thing to read would be some of Jane Addams’ own writings, like 20 Years at Hull House and maybe some of her other speeches. And I really should visit Hull House itself one of these days.

My First Attempt

I’ve wanted to volunteer somewhere for a while and decided to give Working Bikes a try. One of their volunteer nights is Tuesday night, and I’m trying to go there every Tuesday. Tonight was my third time. It starts at 5 and I got there at maybe 5:15 or so and was basically the only volunteer for a while. This was great because Andrew (the guy in charge) asked me if I could try working on a bike solo. I think he had some things he wanted to do, so working with me was low on his list. Thus, after giving me a quick refresher on how to put the bike in the stand, I got to work by myself.

They ask everyone volunteering now to work on kids bikes because there’s a big giveaway coming up where they need to have a few hundred bikes fixed up to give away. This is good because I don’t really have the skills to work on adult bikes with gears and fancy brakes yet. When you work on a bike, you grab a checklist and just work through all the items. You have to check and grease the headset, front bracket, rear bracket, front hub, rear hub, brakes, trueness of wheels and chain.

Today, I took apart the rear hub and got to see all the parts of a coaster brake. On my first attempt to reassemble it, I put a couple parts in backwards. Fortunately, Andrew stopped by to show me the correct orientation. My biggest issue was with the headset, which kept slipping. After showing it to Andrew, he told me I needed to get a new quill, which is the big, long screw that holds the handlebars to the fork. After switching it, things seemed to work better.

So here is a picture I took of the bike that I spent a little over two hours working on. I hope that the real mechanics who check it think that I did a good job. And I hope that someday a little kid enjoys riding it.


March Roundup

Pretty uneventful March. I didn’t spend a lot of money, which is good. So I had plenty to save after I paid my bills. The odometer on my car read 36,722 which means I drove 1150 miles in the month. That’s a lot more than I should have. And in looking at my calendar, I know that I drove my car far too much and biked much too little.

The good news is that I no longer need to go to therapy for my knee. It’s definitely gotten better. I’m not going to say it’s great, but it’s much better than it was a couple of months ago. My therapist asked me what my goal was and I told her a 5K. She said I should sign up for one and take my time working up to it. I also know that I need to keep up the stretching because that definitely helped things. Sadly, now that I don’t have to check in with a therapist, it’s much easier for me to skip the stretching routine.

I’m still eating crap, which is not good. At some point, I keep thinking that I’ll get back in the swing of making healthier food and eating that. Sadly, I’m not there yet.

Today, starts April which means 30 Days of Biking starts. This makes me happy as I know I’ll bike every day. I started today with a great ride to work. The ride home was a little less pleasant, as it was raining really hard. And to top it off, I left my keys at work. So I had to sit outside, wet and cold, until my wonderful brother came by to let me in the house. I just got back from driving to work to pick up my keys and I’m sitting under two blankets to try to warm up. I’m hoping to knock the stupid off of me, so that April turns out to be a great month.