(With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

After a long winter’s idleness, I decided that the time of exercise has finally come. To be honest, that time came several months ago. But what has come was a refund check sizeable enough to buy a bicycle.

As much as I prefer to do business with locally-owned shops, there is no way I could afford the prices at the local bike shops. This isn’t so much a reflection on their prices as my own penury. So after researching local prices, I decided to look at Walmart’s offerings.

I found The Perfect Bike on Walmart’s web site. It was a price I could afford, and so I chose the option of having it delivered to my local store, thus saving shipping costs.

The Nightmare Begins

I was notified the next morning that my order had arrived. Stacey kindly drove me to the store so I could pick it up.

I signed in to the system and was quickly approached by a clerk (what Walmart so magnanimously call a “Sales Associate”), who located my order and brought it out to me…still in the shipping carton…and then left. Didn’t offer to carry it out to my car, so Stacey and I managed to wrestle it into a grocery cart, haul it out to her SUV, and load it inside.

When we arrived back at my place and opened the carton, We discovered that the bike was only partially assembled. Examining the assembly manual, we discovered that we could have taken it to a Walmart cashier and had it assembled for free.

Because of Stacey’s schedule, it was a few days before we were able to take the bike back to the store to have it assembled.

Yeah, right.

We Don’t Service What We Sell

When I took the bike to customer service, we were told that they didn’t have anyone who could assemble it. Instead, they contract with an outside company to do that—and nobody knew whether it was once a week or once a month. They did, however, make an attempt to find out which it was.

Finally, after 20 minutes of waiting and discovering that no one in the store knew the schedule, I decided to return the bike and look at the ones they had in the store.

Partial Success!

I didn’t find anything I liked, but I did get a helmet, a lighting system, and a bike lock. Oh, yeah: Stacey fell in love with a bike. Unasked, I offered to buy it for her. After checking the tire pressure, Stacey inflated the tires to the recommended PSI (206 kilo pascals for you metric fans), I paid for the bike, and we were done for the day.

Or so I thought.

Stacey reminded me that there was another Walmart that we sometimes shopped at, so off we went to see what they had in stock.

There, in the bike section, was my Perfect Bike™!

my bike

So we located a sales associate who kindly offered to adjust the seat and handlebar heights, and to inflate the tires to the proper PSI. We paid for the bike, loaded it into Stacey’s SUV, and headed home.

Stacey dropped me off, and I was ready for My First Big Adventure! I even knew what that would be: I had a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days, and my bike could get me there in just a few minutes (it was only a half-mile ride).

Disaster!

Okay, it was my fault. I should have double-checked everything before my first ride. Turns out the handlebars hadn’t been tightened securely, so they kept rotating down to the point the bike was unrideable. In addition, the seat hadn’t been tightened properly, either.

So after trying for 3 blocks to ride the damn thing, I finally gave up and walked it the rest of the way to the doctor’s office.

After my appointment, I texted Stacey what had happened. She kindly came and picked me and the bike up and drove us home.

Mikey To The Rescue!

As the bike and I were sitting in the back yard, my friend Mikey came by for a visit. When I told him The Tale of the Purple Bike of Sumatra, he showed me exactly how to fix all my woes, and adjust the bike properly. Thank you, Mikey!

Epilogue

So now the bike is sitting—locked, of course—in the shed, awaiting my test ride (it’s too rainy today). I’m going to stick to riding up and down our street until I get readjusted to bike riding. After all, it’s been nearly 20 years!


Monday afternoon found Constant Reader checking in to the Emergency Department (ED) at Strong Memorial Hospital. I’d been feeling poorly for the past couple of weeks, and I was finally sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. After several tests—including an ultrasound—it turned out that I had a urinary tract infection (UTI). Not just any UTI, mind you. Oh, no: I never do things half way.

Urosepsis. In other words, the infection had spread throughout my entire system. Time for intravenous doses of strong broad-spectrum antibiotics. Three days of that and I was on the mend.

But here’s the thing: although I was admitted Monday night, it wasn’t until Thursday morning at 2 a.m. that they were able to find a bed for me on the medical ward. Until then, I was stuck on an examination table in the ED.

But they let me go this afternoon (with a bottle of antibiotics), and I’m going to spend the next few days catching up on my sleep.

Analog vs. Digital

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Rants
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Remember the analog world? Back when clocks had hands? When you had to have a modem in order to talk to another computer? You remember modems, right? A device that converted the digital signal your computer produced so it could be sent along analog telephone lines?

How about vinyl records? Do you remember how superior the sound was to CDs? That’s because the analog signal from the record was a continuous wave, while digital CDs are a series of discrete chunks of sound…no room for the in-betweens of a record.

What Brought This On?

Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, my connection to the Internet was via a landline. My connection was always reliable and strong. Right from my computer to the Internet.

Today my connection is wireless via a cable modem. Basically, that means my signals go from my computer to the wireless router, but from there, they compete with every other Internet user in my area.Think of it as a water main: when you’re the only customer in your neighborhood, your water pressure is excellent. But as more and more people move in and attach to the same water main, your pressure drops with each new customer.

And if the main breaks or gets clogged somewhere, the entire neighborhood is without water. And that’s the situation in my neighborhood right now. In more technical terms, the Internet is down.

Technology Isn’t Perfect

Nor are the people who create and implement new technologies. Want an example? We put a man on the moon in 1969—and then it took us another 20 years to figure out how to put wheels on suitcases. Houston was able to talk to Neil Armstrong and his crew, but I was lucky to telephone my grandmother in the Bronx from where I was living in Juneau, Alaska.

Success!

Well, it looks as if the ‘Net is back up just in time for me to finish this rant and post it. Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Robyn Jane

Meet Charbon

Posted: May 26, 2017 in death, Pets, Sadness
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“Charbon” is French for coal. He came into my life last August when I moved into my rented room in August of last year.

He was the cuddliest cat I’ve ever known. Many is the afternoon when I lay down for a nap, only to fall asleep with his purring in my ears. He was a lover, and I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t like him.

charbon1

Charbon died Wednesday night. I will miss him.

The Statue of Liberty

Posted: May 5, 2017 in Depression

Liberty Face 2

Unpacking the face of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess. It was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States.

When I look at Liberty’s face, the first thing I see is compassion. That’s what first struck me as a child, and that impression has stayed with me ever since.

Losing Liberties in the Name of Freedom

But over the past decade or so, our liberties have been curtailed in the names of “freedom” and “safety.” The so-called “War on Terror” has whittled away at our personal freedoms, and to what avail? One idiot tries to blow up a plane with a bomb in his shoe, and now we all have to take our shoes off to fly. How many more school shootings have to happen before we institute meaningful gun control?

“But it’s in the Constitution!” Yes it is. But so is freedom of speech and public assembly, both of which have been restricted. My right to vote was never before predicated on whether I had a driver’s license. And what kind of country allows its elected representatives of the people to exempt themselves from the laws they pass to control the people who elected them in the first place? Am I the only one who thinks about these things, and thinks they’re wrong? Am I crazy?

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms." – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Jefferson is also reputed to have said that every generation needs its own revolution. Is it time, do you think, for our revolution against the lawmakers who no longer represent the interests of the voters but instead are nothing more than whores for the rich and the multinational corporations?

I say let the people decide.