Making friends on the bus (but mostly pissing off the drivers)

So…yeah it’s been a while since I updated ye olde blogge. At this point I don’t even know when I last updated.

Long story short, things are going OK, I’m eating much more healthy lately in an attempt to yet again lose weight, I’m exercising regularly (except for the past week and a half, I’ve tweaked my back a little) and I found out last night I have to get a new clutch in my car so I started taking the bus to work today.

So this morning I woke up a little before 6, showered and dressed and realized that I would have time to drive (carefully) to the nearby supermarket to get to the cash machine, since I didn’t have enough money to get on the bus. Parked up in front of the house and had to grind the gears to get into reverse so I can parallel park on the narrow road…so that’s the last time it’s being driven until the new year, then.

Walked to the bus stop a few minutes away and the first person I annoyed was a random bus driver that stopped because I was right next to the curb (kerb) and looking at my watch as he came up. I tried to wave him off but he was stopping and opening the door anyway, but eventually he closed the door and drove off.

I only had to make one change, in the town centre of the town near my work, so I paid my fare and got on. Noticed there was a fare special if you buy 10 trips at once, alrighty, sounds like a deal, I just paid £2.30 for one trip and I can get 10 trips for £14, that’s £1.40 each, saving 90p each time. Score. I waited until the bus was stopped and asked the driver if I could buy the 10-trip ticket on the bus, he said sure and started printing up the ticket as he was driving. At the next stoplight I gave him a £20 note and he said, ‘I don’t have change, mate, I just started.’

OK, slight hiccup, so I found £4 in coins and handed him £24, expecting he’d at least have 2 £5 notes or a single £10 note…’I just started, I don’t have a ten-pound note mate.’

This is where I started to think he wasn’t really thinking of me as a mate, and using ‘mate’ in this instance would be akin to a west coast Dude-type saying, ‘man’ or a New Yorker saying, ‘you asshole’.

Well. What to do.

He was stuck because he didn’t have the cash to give me change, and said he’d take the £20 note and I take the ticket and hope for other people that get on and pay with coins, otherwise I could get my change at the depot. I said that’s fine and sat down.

The possibility of getting change from other passengers wasn’t looking likely, and proved correct as no one else got on until the village bus station, and those who did get on just flashed bus passes. The poor bus driver was already counting off change as I approached his window, and I told him I’d be happy to go there, but there were the angrily-counted-off coins, £6 (I think, I didn’t count it) and he was huffing, ‘You don’t need to go to the bus station, I just won’t have change for other passengers.’

Now this is where I think he went a bit wrong. I *did* offer to take up his suggestion of going to the bus depot, which would almost certainly be closed by the time I got there at about 6 in the evening. Or maybe writing up a receipt and explaining the situation to his route manager (or whatever they’re called in the bus trade) would be more hassle than dealing with the possibility of not having enough change for passengers in the short term.

Anyway, it was a mildly interesting first day commuting by bus.

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Bus vs car commuting cost analysis…just for kicks

If it weren’t for the fact it takes more than twice as long to take the bus as it does to drive, I would seriously consider it as the main way to get to work. I use up about half a tank of fuel per week getting to and from work by car, which is about £30-35.

For bus travel, the daily prices are £4.60 round trip for the first bus from Derby to Burton, and another £4.60 for the local bus from Burton to the town I work in, but weekly prices are about £20 for the first bus (I think) and £14 for the second, which roughly equals the spend for car fuel. I’d have to check out what monthly fares work out to, if they’re available.

The ultimate solution is to move closer to work so I can bike in regularly. I’d do it more often now but 16 miles one way is sometimes a bit too much, but the bus takes about as long and I’d get even more exercise on the bike.

Favorite memories, pt 1

staying up the first night I met my girlfriend, talking about everything and anything

driving back from mountain biking with my friend Robert, with our bikes in the back of his Isuzu P’up, rocking out to White Zombie on a crap stereo system

playing Quake for hours every night with my friend James and his son Steve, then watching Seinfeld reruns at 10:30 after the nightly news

sleeping under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park, watching stars and satellites pass overhead

seeing my car in the parking lot at the start/finish point of my first overnight backpacking trip

31 things every guy should own…

from Esquire (loaded with ads, full list below)

full list:
Cast-Iron Skillet – yep
Valid Passport – yep
Multipurpose Tool – yep
Waiter’s Corkscrew/Bottle Opener/Knife – yep
Ax – yep
WD-40 – yep
Cordless Drill – yep
Weekend Shoulder Bag – yep
Giant Wool Blanket Never Removed from the Trunk of the Car – yep
Chain Saw – no…maybe I have to work on this one
Work Gloves – yep
Carpenter’s Level – yep
Boots for the Shop
Boots for Everywhere Else – yep
Jack – yep
Claw Hammer – yep
Lantern – yep
Chef’s Knife – yep
Flying Disc – yep
(U.S.) Road Atlas – yep
Air Pump – yep
Jumper Cables – yep
Charcoal Grill – yep
Card Holder – yep
Pocket Knife – yep
Grease – yep
Lucky Charm – yep
$1,000 Hidden in Your House – ha!
LED Flashlight – yep
Money Clip – I gotta wallet
Joy of Cooking – yep

29 out of 31 ain’t bad

Happy New Year

Wassup folks, Happy New Year!

I hope everyone reading this had a liesurely holiday time doing stuff they enjoyed. Me, I:

  • read a lot (finished I think 4 books plus a graphic novel (V for Vendetta)),
  • played a lot on the Nintendo DS (mostly Age of Empires),
  • watched several DVDs (including Wall-E, Dara O’Briain, Shawn Lock, Curb Your Enthusiasm season 7 and a few others),
  • went to an animal park in the Lake District (saw baby rhinos, bears from Peru, tigers from Sumatra and Russia, lions, loads of screeching lemurs, various little monkeys, wallabies, penguins, emus and more),
  • and I can’t remember what else, really – it was a terrifically long time away from work! 🙂

Now, of course, though, starts the annual migration to gyms and jogging tracks around the Western world, and it’s no different with me. I’ll be starting up an exercise program this week with a big of free weights and jogging/cycling to get started on losing weight.

…I know, I know! I’ve said all this before, however last year when the weather was good and I was cycling to work a couple of times a week I lost about 8-10 pounds in a couple of months, which is damned good! And that without really controlling my eating portions. A couple of years previous, when I was strict about my portion sizes but I wasn’t exercising, I lost about the same amount of weight. If I can control both the amount of food I eat AND my exercise, I’ll be well on my way to losing all the weight I want to lose (7.3kg or 17 lbs) in the time I want to (end of June).

I chose the halfway point of the year as my time goal instead of the end of the year because a goal 12 months away is too easy to lose focus on. I may even change it up and make my time goal the end of March (and adjust the weight loss goal accordingly) just to make it that much easier to focus.

In fact, I think I will – end of March, down to 210 lbs. So instead of losing 17 lbs in 6 months my goal is to lose 7 lbs in 3 months. This should be relatively easy, and sets me up for the harder bit of losing 10 lbs over the following 3 months. If all goes to plan then I’ll try to maintain the weight for the rest of the year.

Our super-massive black hole

So it’s been confirmed that there’s a gigantic black hole in the center of the Milky Way.

This has been speculated for years, so it’s not really a surprise, but scientists have confirmed it now.

Radio 4 (sort of an NPR equivalent in Britain) was broadcasting this bit of news as I was driving in to work, and I thought it pretty funny that the reporter felt the need to stress that we weren’t under any danger from the black hole, and our solar system is a bajillion miles away from the center of the galaxy…

I mean, this is Radio 4. Stupid people don’t listen to Radio 4. In general, smart, worldly people listen to Radio 4. Politicians and newsmakers do appearances on Radio 4, not vapid, worthless celebrities and morons. You don’t have to pretend that Radio 4 listeners think that people actually ride in drilling machines into the center of the Earth, or that aliens will be imminently invading from Mars, or that black holes roam the galaxy searching for intelligent life to suck up and deposit who knows where.

I just just thought it was an extraordinarily patronizing and stupid thing to say, that’s all.

Got myself a sewing machine!

…now, people who know me might wonder what the hell I’d do with a sewing machine! This is understandable.

Well, instead of throwing clothes out (or rather, giving them to charity) or just suffering with ill-fitting clothes, I’ve been wanting to alter a few clothes and customize other bits instead of killing my fingers hand-sewing stuff. Plus I have a couple of ideas that might do well selling on sites like etsy.

I just need to sort out a few things like a spool holder before I can give it a whirl! …or rather, a ‘whirrrr’

A 12-year old McDonald’s burger

From the Best of Mother Earth

This is a hamburger from McDonalds that I purchased in 1996.

That was 12 years ago.

Note that it looks exactly like it did the very day I bought it.

…People always ask me – what did you do to preserve it ?

Nothing – it preserved itself.

Ladies, Gentleman, and children alike – this is a chemical food. There is absolutely no nutrition here.

Not one ounce of food value.

…Do you find this horrifying?

McDonalds fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food.

It is not a treat.

I marvel at how McDonalds has infiltrated our entire world. A hamburger here tastes exactly the same in China or some around the world place.

It’s cloned.

Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Do me a favor and share this.

Indeed.

bleah…sick

I’m pretty sure my housemate gave me this cold I’ve got…what sucks is that I first noticed it on Thursday or Friday, just in time for a weekend spent with my girlfriend. Awesome. It’s not that bad, it’s just annoying.

Normally when I wake up with a cold I just want to stay in bed, but I can’t really take any more sick time from work for a while. So this morning I hit the snooze button a few times but then forced myself to get in the shower and dress. I took some Day Nurse (basically just like Dayquil) as early as I could and I’ve been functional all day, thankfully.

I haven’t been able to commute on my bike to work the past couple of weeks because I’ve been out of town or just really tired, so I’m hoping to get on one of my bikes this evening. I’ve scored some weight plates off Freecycle so I’m going to pick those up, then see if I feel well enough to cycle around. I don’t want to do a proper ride of like 2 hours or so because that’ll just suck energy away from getting better, but I’ve been gaining weight steadily while I haven’t been cycling.

Just have to see how it goes this week…but I’m re-starting the 100 push-up program today regardless. I don’t have to go anywhere to do it and it takes about 5 minutes.

Going to repaint my car

My car (the White Lightning Mark II, a ’95 Saab 900 S) has some pretty knackered bumpers, several rust bubbles and well-worn paint, and I was thinking today while I was hand-polishing it that I should sand down the bumpers, repair the rust bubbles and repaint the car.

I did a test case with the rear spoiler, which had gotten badly scratched up with my bike when I would drive it halfway to work to cycle in, so last week I got some wet/dry sandpaper, primer and satin black paint to give the spoiler a makeover. It came out reasonably well (needs one more coat to finish) so I’m going to do the same with the bumpers, which have their share of plastic filler and horrible paintwork. Basically I’ll sand them down by hand, shoot some white primer and then choose an easily-found white spray paint at the local auto parts store. It’s a big chain but they don’t have any Saab colors other than black, so I’ll pick a color, from, say, Ford or Vauxhall (General Motors Europe basically) and get a few cans.

Exact color matches from spray cans are really hard to get anyway, so as I fix the rust bubbles panel-by-panel I’ll be stripping the paint back, cutting away the rust, repairing the hole, shooting primer then shooting white. Some rubbing compound and maybe some lacquer and I’ll be set, I hope.

Some inspiration was found at the site of the guy who did the $50 paint job, but I’m not exactly able to keep the car off the road for a week while I repaint it, so I’m going to do one panel at a time while the weather is nice and sunny, and see how things go.