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Nov. 29, 2005

I have no idea.

Photo taken: Nov. 26, 2005


Nov. 24, 2005

"You're wearing shorts today."

"It's not so bad in the sun."

And such is my winter strategy: Denial. It's like Bush's Iraq strategy or the baseball union's steroid strategy or an alcoholic's gin strategy: Deny enough times that a problem exists and it will cease to exist. (And it's just as effective.)

I once had a dormmate whose favorite movie was "Top Gun." Midway through each viewing, right before the scene [SPOILER ALERT] where Mother Goose dies, he'd clasp his hands, rock back and forth and say, "This time Goose won't die ... This time Goose won't die ..."

"This time winter won't come ... This time winter won't come ..."

Photo taken: Nov. 24, 2005


Nov. 21, 2005

Three recent moments:



I keep a spare CTA card and $20 in a Ziploc bag that I take when I'm cycling. When I can't find my wallet I use this baggie to go downtown to see if maybe, just maybe I have left it on my desk.

The wallet's not there, so I return home on the train, resigned to having lost it. I'm feeling sorry for myself and calculating the expenses and hassles I'll have to bear. They are not many, relative to the grand scheme of things, but still I'm not in the mood for the deaf panhandler who walks up the aisle, and neither is the mentally retarded man in front of me who angrily points to the "No panhandling" sign.

Likewise, I'm not in the mood for the sick boy across the aisle who is throwing up into his grandmother's lap, but there's no "No vomiting on Grandma" sign for me to angrily point to.



A few hours later there's a message from Visa's fraud-prevention department. I call and talk to a woman who says it was suspicious that my debit card was used to buy gas on the South Side that morning.

That's right: Buying gas is so out of character for me that it sets off klaxons at Visa. As if there were ever doubt, I think this cements my all-important bike cred.

"How did you know I hate cars?" I ask.

I'm strangely relieved to know that my wallet is now stolen and not just hiding under laundry -- if ever I am blessed enough to have a say in the matter, I'd choose to be the shlemazel over the shlemiel -- but it is somewhat alarming how well Visa knows my patterns. Will I get similar calls if I start buying low-fat milk instead of skim or start buying clothes anywhere other than Sears? If I attempt to buy dinner for two, will it go through?



My roommate's wallet is on the dining room table. I look at it with the nostalgia of a pensioner. "I remember when I had a wallet ..."


Nov. 20, 2005

The contents of my wallet as of 3:30 a.m., which is when I believe it fell out of my pocket somewhere on my ride up Clark Street after work:

  • $114
  • Two blank checks
  • Two credit cards
  • ATM card
  • Illinois driver's license
  • California driver's license (expired)
  • Jewel loyalty card
  • Metropolis Coffee loyalty card (one purchase from free pound of coffee)
  • Work gym pass
  • Cheetah Gym 10-workout card (two workouts remaining)
  • Blood donor card
  • USCF racing license
  • CBF membership card
  • CTA card (magnetic)
  • CTA card (Chicago Card)
  • Business card for Tony Becker (professional)
  • Business card for Tony Becker (novelty)
  • Business card for guy at the lighting store who in September received the fluorescent fixture I brought for repair, but who never called me back and with whom I never followed up
  • Baby photo of nephew

Nov. 18, 2005

A recent moment:



"I was thinking about what color my umbrella is ..."


"... and I realized, 'Hey, where did my umbrella go?'"

"Don't you mean parachute? 'What Color is Your Parachute?'?"

"I'm supposed to have a parachute? I'm worse off than I thought."


Nov. 13, 2005

Lincoln Square Lanes.

No black lights or lasers, no computerized scoring, and at the bar, no cosmos, just domestic bottles and a half-dozen barflies smoking and watching the Bears game.

Photo taken: Nov. 13, 2005


Nov. 11, 2005

When in February I noted my interest in fixed-gear bikes, I said I was unlikely to get one of my own because I would be a pretender, buying into a niche for the sake of being bad-ass and sexy.

But then I learned about how many roadies use fixies in the winter to improve form and maintain high cadence, and I was keen for a winter ride that would be more fun and faster than the beater mountain bike I've used in winters past.

With those practicalities in mind -- plus, I confess, aspirations for the bad-ass and the sexy; I need all the help I can get, and at 30 I'm beyond caring whether anyone thinks I'm a poser -- I headed to the local fixed specialist.

The shop's owner is a hero when it comes to promoting cycling and servicing fixies and track bikes, and he's generous with his time, knowledge and discounts. But a salesman he's not. In one respect this is refreshing, the indifference I sensed when I announced my intent to buy. Then there were delays in finding the frame I was interested in and getting it built up. In Judaism there is a tradition that when someone seeks to convert, a rabbi refuses them three times to test their commitment. Perhaps that's what was going on. Only on my fourth trip to the shop did I finally sense blessings to own this bike, and that it was OK to convert.

Her name is Marcella. She's a Surly Steamroller, but I'm not a components slut so I can't say much about the rest of her, other than, yes, Mom, there's a brake.

Riding fixed is like learning to ride all over again. I haven't fallen over yet, but I often forget that there is no freewheel and thus no coasting, and when I dismount my legs are bowed and wobbly. Once it becomes second-nature, the fun starts. That's the $900 wager, at any rate.

My bikes are named after whoever enabled their purchase. Charity was a gift. The Colonel was financed by selling my employer's stock. Marcella is named after my friend Marcel, who got me the moonlighting gig that paid for her.

This is different from my computers, for which my naming convention is to choose a virtuous woman from whatever book I'm reading ahead of the purchase. Going back to my college laptop, then, the computers I've known: Phoebe ("Catcher in the Rye"), The Rachel ("Moby Dick"), Madame Psychosis ("Infinite Jest"), Eliza ("Quicksilver") and Petra Cotes ("One Hundred Years of Solitude").

It's true: I may not objectify females, but I feminize my objects.

Photo taken: Nov. 11, 2005


Nov. 6, 2005

Two recent moments:



Enough people ask whether I'm growing a beard that I begin to think the answer is, "Apparently not."



I have a new wide-spectrum lamp. It's supposed to improve my disposition, especially during winter, and I could use that. I could use more light, more happy, a wider spectrum.

Mostly I use the lamp to read. This week I read "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Foer and find it extremey sad and incredibly heartbreaking. It fills me with longing -- insofar as one can be filled with emptiness -- which pretty much negates any benefit of the lamp and puts me right back where I started. It's like putting on a raincoat to stay dry and then jumping into a swimming pool.


Nov. 1, 2005

Levi has all the ingredients for a pleasant fall day: Patch of sun ... check. Fruit jar of Strongbow ...check. Fighter pilot/reading cap ... check.

Commence laziness.

(I think he's reading a book about polar exploration. He'd already read the Libby indictment a dozen times -- a half-dozen of them out loud -- and was now waiting for the Rove and Cheney sequel: "Lying, Cheating Motherfuckers II: The Reckoning.")

Photo taken: Oct. 30, 2005