I went on my usual bike ride today and as usual I put my music on shuffle. Just as I get to the part of my ride that enters a wooded area, my phone plays the theme to “Into the Woods.” I smirk to myself because it all felt serendipitous. I continue on my usual route, which leads me past a very historic battlefield. And guess what song comes on. “Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks. I smirk some more. Then, when I make my way back home (I turn around at some point…it varies every day, depending on my mood and the weather), as I’m leaving the wooded area, my phone plays “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift. Just kind of funny how some thing just happen.
So I was outside today, basking in the warm spring air when I realized that I haven’t posted in like a week. I’ve been spending a lot of my time outside biking. My siblings surprised me a couple weeks ago by getting me this amazing new road bike which has been so amazing. My old bike was a mountain bike I bought when I was thirteen after saving money up from my paper route. But that bike was so worn out; it would squeak, click, clang, make any sound that a bike shouldn’t make. And I really realized it when I was test riding bikes because the new bikes were just so amazing (by the way, if you want to kill some time, you should totally go to REI and test ride bikes…it’s so much fun, but you may end up leaving with a rather expensive bike).
I got this new bike about two weeks ago, and the ride was as smooth as butter. I was in heaven. The first week in, the pedal breaks. Now, the road bikes tend not to come with pedals. A total scam, but it kind of makes sense…people who tend to ride those intense bikes have their preference in pedals…although why they can’t throw in a choice of pedal for the ridiculous asking price for the bike, I don’t know. Anyway, the lady who helped us at the store told me I could just put on the pedals from my old mountain bike. A solid theory, except the bike is like ten years old with ten year old pedals that are just as worn out as the bike…so naturally, one breaks from age and use. So, I go back to the bike shop to buy pedals. Another week passes, and now my fancy, beautiful road bike has started squawking at me. I’ve treated this bike that it was my baby: I bathed it, I dried it, I kept it in a very safe spot out of harms way. It should not be squawking at me.
So I attended a bike maintenance class a REI, and I learned a lot about taking care of my chain and tires. The guy who taught the class even said “if you’re bike is squawking at you, it means you need to clean and lubricate your chain.” So I buy the special degreaser and lube (notice how they have me going back to buy more stuff), and I clean my chain just like he taught me to. It still squawks. I’m at the point where I seriously don’t think I can have nice things.
On a whim, I googled this problem. I mean, this is a ridiculously expensive bike, it should not be making irritating sounds, especially since it’s brand spanking new. I find a bike forum where another rider is experiencing a similar problem. He explains how his gears seemed to be making a clanking/clicking sound (like mine) and how he was told by the manufacturer to take the bike’s gears a part and degrease and lube them up. So he did all that, like I did, and still the bike would click.
So, I’m scrolling through these posts and I find the solution to my answers (I think). Someone made a very simple post that basically said that squeaks or clicks from bikes have to come from somewhere, and the sound is usually produced when something isn’t tightly secured. In particular, the pedals and the metal arms that the pedals screw into tend to make irritating clicking sounds when not properly tightened. This person was suggesting to go back and tighten up the pedals.
Now, let’s go back and think of what changed between the time when the bike was perfect and riding like butter and then when it started squeaking. Yup, I changed the pedals. So I went to my bike, I unscrewed the pedal and took my time putting it back in. I made sure it was fastened tightly, and I took a little test spin around the block. No squeak, no squawk, no click, no clang. I mean, I have to take it out for a real ride to see if I fixed the problem, but it turns you can have nice things…you just have to slow down and fix the problem one step at a time.
The problem I have with Throwback Thursdays (#tbt) is that I can never think of anything on Thursday to share. My mind goes blank. Then, on Friday, I’m walking down memory lane and have a bajillion stories and pictures to share. But, you can’t have a Throwback Thursday on Friday, it wouldn’t make sense (although, you could try to do a “Flashback Friday,” but that’s not a thing, is it?).
But, today I finally thought of a story, and there are two and a half hours left of this Thursday, so technically I can squeeze it in.
So, I used to work for this place where at the end of the semester we would have a “reading party,” where we would come together and each read something to the group. We all were into reading and writing, so this wasn’t as boring as it might sound. Usually people read a poem, story, songs lyrics, or anything that meant something to them or inspired them as writers. It was a great notion of coming together and enjoying good writing.
At the last reading party I attended, we had a wide variety of things read. Someone read How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the party happened to be the week before Christmas), another person read an original story they wrote, another read a short story a teacher wrote about his students’ bad grammar, etc. So we’re going around, and it was one of my friends’ turn to go. She opens her book, looks flustered, and blushes. She had intended to bring an old book of poetry her grandparents gave her and read her favorite poem, but somehow she grabbed an identical-looking book that did not have poems in it. Instead, it was a technical manual on sailing. So, she opened the book to Chapter Fifteen, and spent ten minutes reading random nautical terms and techniques. I’m telling you, it was the most hysterical thing to witness. There we were trying to not laugh as she struggled through reading this jargon none of us understood. This may not be funny to you, but I like the fact that instead of just skipping her turn (which was a totally viable thing to do), she continued to read utter nonsense. It was great.
I think one of the hardest things to do is to show someone the contents of your iTunes library. Music is so personal and intimate that it’s really like showing a stranger the contents of your heart. I get nervous anytime someone wants to see my phone to see what music I have on it because I don’t want someone to judge me or be like “ew, you listen to that person?” I’m tired of people making assumptions about me because of the music I listen to.
I’ve been having a problem with my iTunes syncing with my phone recently, so I scheduled a genius bar appointment for tomorrow and I’m a bit nervous. I mean, I’ve done it before, and the people at the Apple Store are generally friendly. I just don’t like people scrolling through my iTunes. Which is really odd because I tweet, write, and blog about my music taste all the time. Like, I don’t mind trending #PhillipsSongOfTheDay and creating Spotify playlists for random people around the world to listen to, but I can’t deal with a Apple genius accessing my iTunes to help me. In all probability they’re too busy to actually judge my music preference. Even if they did, the chances I’ll ever run into them again or them remembering me are so slim.
But I think this emphasizes this change the Internet has put on my generation: we’re more aware and self-conscious about our interactions in person, but when we’re online we pull out all the stops. It’s a blessing and a curse, really. For me, I’ve been able to open up about my musical taste and share my knowledge online because I don’t get to see my reader’s reactions. I sort of did when I had the comments activated, but some people were rather ruthless. Just because I didn’t know the person, they felt no shame in writing rather horrible things about me for what I objectively wrote about. It’s odd that the Internet can do such a thing as opening us up as a society and connecting us, but yet making us anonymous enough to tear each other down. It’s like the Internet is a big window blind, and while sunlight my peak through and permeate the room, we’re shielded from ever truly experiencing the physical nature of a person.
I guess what I need to do the next time someone wants to make fun of me for liking the music I do is to remember the fact I have a musical preference. I know who I am and I know what I like. And I will never apologize for who I am.
A couple of weeks ago or so, I wrote about watching Ellen Degeneres’ 90s sitcom Ellen and how it’s hilarious. There’s an episode I saw where they’re filming a movie in the bookstore that Ellen owns and manages. Because she’s the owner, they let Ellen be in the scene as an extra. They’re like “just sit at the counter and act natural.” And this is what she does on her first take:
I thought this episode was hysterical because it takes them a ton of takes to shoot the scene (I believe it ends up they don’t finish the scene because of Ellen), and in each one Ellen tries to be “natural” but she ends up screwing the scene up somehow. It goes to her staring awkwardly at the people talking, to knocking over a bookshelf (by accident), sneezing, slamming a door (again, by accident), and other crazy things.
The reason why I find this so hilarious is that it reminds me of a project I had to do when I was junior in high school. As part of our English class, we were required to take the play “Macbeth” and adapt it into a short film. My group decided to make a 24-themed Macbeth, much to my displeasure; I had never seen the show, but I got out voted.
I just remember we were shooting the opening seen of a secret agent walking into a “secure” location with a briefcase, and the kid who was playing Macbeth kept telling me he’d just walk by the agent in the background as an extra. I was like “you can’t do that! You’re Macbeth!” He proceeded to take his glasses off and tell me no one would notice.
Well, we didn’t win Best Picture (it went to a Santa Claus-themed Macbeth I believe, which was actually ridiculously funny; Santa McClaus’ best line was “Is that a candy cane I see before me?”). I guess life is just full of people who have good intentions making mistakes that, in the end, we should just laugh at.
I may be a little behind on the eight ball, but if you have Siri, there’s a cool trick I figured out. If you’re listening to a song and you want to know what the name of the song is or the artist, ask Siri “name the song,” and she will say something like “listening,” and she’ll listen to the song and tell you what song it is!
I may have spent the last ten minutes playing around with it, and I couldn’t stump Siri!
This also happened, and it took me a second to realize Siri actually told a joke!:
On our last day in San Francisco, we originally planned on waking up early and riding a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf…we had noticed that the line for the cable cars run long, so we thought we could beat the traffic. However, since our evening outing to the Golden Gate Park the night before didn’t go as planned (everything was closed), we decided to head back there. The Japanese Tea Garden had a sign saying that their “free” hours were 9-10 a.m. on Friday, which was perfect for us.
After my time on the Wharf and the Bay, I took the F streetcar back to Market Street, where the driver just stopped and was like “this is my last stop, so everyone off.” It was a beautiful day, so I decided to spend some time wandering around San Francisco. If you ever get the opportunity to travel to an unknown city, I would suggest spending at least an hour and just walk around the city. While taking a bus, cable car, or street car is easier and faster than walking, you miss so much the city can offer.
After my time in the Aquarium of the Bay, I decided to walk around the Wharf and saw that you could take a ferry ride around the bay, getting the chance to float under the Golden Gate Bridge and get up close to Alcatraz, which is great especially if you can’t get tickets to Alcatraz (like me). I read in my travel book that you should buy your tickets to Alcatraz a week ahead of time, which I tried to do last week, but they were completely sold out!
I started out my second day in San Francisco taking the “historic” F line around Fisherman’s Wharf to the apparently famous Pier 39. Here I made my way to the Aquarium of the Bay, which is a non-profit aquarium set up to educate people about the marine life of San Francisco Bay and the effects of pollution. The main reason I wanted to make this stop is the fact they have these tunnels that you can walk through and see fish and sharks swimming around. It’s supposed to simulate what it’s like to walk through the Bay…you know, if that was possible. It was actually quite an interesting experience, as I got to see a wide array of marine life. As I was walking through the shark tunnel, which looked like I was walking into the Shark Tank, I was talking with my guide about the set up of the tanks. Somewhat hopefully, I asked “Do the sharks ever eat the other fish?” Which really wasn’t a dumb question, given the fact that they have all these little fish just swimming next to the sharks. “Oh no,” she said, “we feed all the animals twice a day so they don’t ever have to find their own food. Yeah, it would be kind of awkward if we had them hunt each other…the tank would get rather bloody.” A huge shark then swam above us and as I ducked my head away (obviously forgetting I was in a safe, protective environment), the guide continued “That’s our biggest shark…her name is Debbie.” And as she said that, another shark swam past Debbie, opened his mouth, and swallowed another fish whole! “Huh,” the guide said, “That usually doesn’t happen.”