So. Memorial Day weekend. Up here it’s often hit or miss as far as weather. Sometimes it’s summery, sometimes not at all. Hell- it’s even snowed on Memorial Day up here. (Not recently- thank you global warming).
This weekend, the weather cooperates and was lovely. Low 80’s. Sunny. No humidity. Really, just about perfect other than some wind.
So I did a lot of biking.
I put about 115 miles on the new Cinelli with four rides (Friday-Monday). overall the bike is awesome. Light. Fast. Responsive. Comfortable. Although not as fast as the Merckx. Or maybe the colnago. But those both have drop bar setups.
Anyway- I think “Vigo” is sexy and a head turner foe sure. Here are some snaps from our sojourns this weekend:
I also went to the Eagle for drinking and frivolity. It was the Northstar softball tourney this past weekend- so hot gay sportos abounded.
So- not a bad weekend. A bit lonesome. A bit melancholy. Lots of sun and fresh air. It was a much needed 3 day break.
So, my newest bike went on its inaugural ride on Sunday. Initial results are very favorable and overall I am quite pleased with the build.
I ordered the new brake/handlebar/grips and they all arrived last week. So I took him to the Bike Spa (repair shop) to have the brake installed and the headset tightened, etc. He basically got a once over by techs before I rode it.
Oh! So yeah- I took him to the spa on Saturday morning. They said it might be next week before they finished. But lo and behold- I get a call 2 hours later and bam. He’s done. So I got him Saturday.
Sunday we rode.
First impressions? Light. Stiff. Great power transfer. Speedy acceleration. Easy handling- not twitchy at all. Very controlled. Comfortable to ride. Positioned and sized for me very well. And I had forgotten how much I loved riding a flat bar setup.
The surprise? Having just a front brake was actually ok. I was definitely worried about it, but stopping was never an issue.
The only minor irritant? The gear ratio is off. I’m used to riding 46/16. As I was riding I noticed that I was fast- but not as fast. Which is understandable since the rear freewheel is 18t not 16t. Even so, I still managed to spool up to 19.5-21.5 mph is spots.
Also? The Cinelli is pretty sexy, if I do say so myself.
So- I have ordered a rear sprocket change tool and I have a 16t freewheel in order. I also have some newer, lighter pedals on the way. I hope to get all of this stuff this week so by Memorial Day we can go for a longer trial.
I know everyone gets sick of my biking posts, but for me going on bike rides is therapeutic. Like yoga or meditation.
Because I just get on and pedal, I can finally turn off my overactive brain. All my focus is on pedaling and balance and breathing and watching for dangers, etc. There isn’t much room for the usual worries and ponderings which keep my brain going a mile a minute.
Plus it’s just nice to be out in nature, burning calories and not fossil fuels, and getting fresh air.
Plus, the occasional hot biker ass is a bonus.
Yesterday after work, even though it was coolish and breezy. Oh- and hazy from Canadian wildfires. I went for a quick 25 miles. And I mean quick.
I churned along at at average speed of 18.6 mph. Which is just about as fast as I can spool on a single speed bike with a 46/16 ratio. This also takes into account slowing down for pedestrians, crossings, slow bikers, etc.
I know I’m not the fastest biker out there, which is fine. I’m never going to compete with the hard core crit racers or tri guys. But I think I do pretty decently for a 50+ year old on a single speed, steel frame bike who only bikes 2-3 times a week. And I’m decently speedy wirh endurance. So when the occasional hot, 28 year old hipster bike messenger type is on the path- I can kinda keep up.
For medicinal purposes, you know.
PS? This weekend the new Cinelli goes to the bike spa to get checked and some work done. Then hopefully by Juneteenth I’ll be taking him on the first real ride.
And becoming “that guy”. Because I’m gay, I’m forced to stay young to a degree. But I’m also a total Gen X’er, and all that entails. And while I’m not at full Boomer “get off my lawn!” yet, I am at “what is it with kids these days?”
I like to joke about millennials and such as much as the next guy, and most of that is just to take the piss. But with Gen Z’ers? I’m not sure I’m really joking.
So- where I work we’ve been struggling to fill vacant roles in our quality department (my department). Labor market being what it is, we just haven’t had the applicants. But about 2 months ago- lo! A wonderful candidate. Good engagement in college (SWE and started a job placement program). Was on her high school robotics team. Fluent in Spanish. Studied abroad. Worked in Singapore for like 2 years. All sorts of good stuff.
So we even bumped up her starting salary and really worked to hire her. I was excited when she said yes.
But then she started.
Was never really on time- as she relied on her boyfriend to drive her to work. I figured it was a car share/money thing, but no. She just doesn’t have a drivers license. 🤔
Okaaaay, that’s a choice. And I get it when living in a city with excellent mass transit. Which is NOT Minneapolis. But whatever. There are plenty of folks who don’t drive.
But then it came to training and small projects. She was Not super motivated. And I had to basically spoon feed everything— like first do step A. Then step B…. I gave her resources to go to and people to ask for help. Which didn’t really happen.
After walking through our non-conforming product process several times, I put her in charge of dispositions in the material. And said, “If you don’t know what to do, ask myself or Brad and we’ll work with you.” She just never really took ownership and the area piled up with stuff waiting for disposition and scrap.
I also asked her to work with one of our engineers to set up a new gauge. Choose a good area, get it functioning and validated, get it in our computer calibration system. 30 -60 minutes of work, tops.
The gauge sat in a box for 3 weeks until I finally asked an engineer to help her. The other engineer set up the whole thing.
The last straw was her getting Covid. Covid happens, I get it. But I just approved two PTO days for her to go to New York for a long weekend. She ‘a pretty new and didn’t have much time accrued yet, but hey. Sure- go ahead and go. Have fun.
Then on Tuesday she doesn’t show up to work. And I hear from the other engineer (the one who set up the gauge) “Hey, did B— get in touch with you? I guess she has Covid.”
Um, no. No she did not get in touch with me. Nor with HR. Or anyone really.
So we had to reach out to her and ask what was going on. And at that time we reinforced that if she’s not going to be into work, that she needs to let me (her boss) or HR know
Evidently she couldn’t offer any evidence of a Covid test when HR asked— so HR asked for some dr note or administered test to show she wasn’t contagious. She said that would be fine and she’d be back Monday.
Side bar: I know Covid is no longer a health emergency, but with the mandatory absence from work and her lack of PTO accrual, and trust issues added some level of “what do we do” to all this.
Anyway- Monday rolls around… and no B—-. She doesn’t show up for work, and no test, email, phone call… nothing. Not to me or HR. I reach out and don’t hear anything. Tuesday morning comes— same deal.
So our HR team in Florida have a chat and bam. No more B——. She’s terminated.
Which makes me feel like a failure in some respects. Maybe she was unhappy? Or felt underutilized? Or didn’t like it here? Or didn’t like me? I don’t know. She would ask me things like “what do you have for me to do?” And I’d say “have you cleared the NC area? Or finished going through inspection plans?” (namely the other projects I had already given her).
The one part in this that irks me is that she didn’t even communicate to me that she was going g to be out or was still going to be out. That seems pretty Adulting 101 to me. Like who just doesn’t inform their boss when they’re sick and need to miss work??
The whole thing just felt like passive quitting… which, I guess happened. So….
Seeing as how it was Mother’s Day this past weekend, AND seeing as how I hadn’t been down to visit mom in 3 weeks, I went down to visit on Friday for a long weekend.
And yeah, it was kind of long.
I mowed her lawn which hadn’t been known in like two weeks. Grass up to the knees. I had to wedge it in quick between rainstorms, too. But it looks much better.
And as it was Mother’s Day, I got her flowers and made whatever meals she wanted. Hamburgers. Indian food. Scrambled eggs. Coffee cake. Homemade chocolate chip cookies. Yeah- I was a cooking fiend.
I also had to do a couple different grocery runs. She was out of a lot of supplies (food, poise pads, various cleaning and laundry supplies, etc).
As an added bonus, I also got her a new TV (a bigger one that is also smart technology and got it set up with better viewing for her. Her old TV was like 36” and the sound was buzzy, so it was time. It was a LOT of tech troubleshooting to get it down to just the Dish remote and working like her old setup. (Much googling and youtubing was done).
We also ordered some new underwear from Amazon to keep her in a good stick of underwear that fits. (She is fairly incontinent, so she goes through a couple pair a day).
I also cleaned out her fridge of expired items. And purged a couple cupboards in her kitchen that had become hoarding areas for plastic containers. . And moved a small chest of drawers to her laundry room for her “most used clothes items”. And moved a chair out of her living room. And reorganized the kitchen back to normal after moms helper people had it in shambles.
I also did a bit of general cleaning. And laundry. And various other things for mom while I was down there. you know— general chores to make her place better.
We caught up on Ted Lasso- she loves it and so do I- and we started Jury Duty which she also liked.
So all in all, a good weekend was had.
Update: had to do my first troubleshooting phone call to get her TV to work. We managed it, but I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures and creating a printed “how to” guide.
This past weekend was our final fancy band concert for the year. It went really well overall and I played what I would consider pretty decently… although not perfectly. There were a couple bobbles here and there.
I actually had to practice quite a bit for this concert, something which I’m sure my neighbors appreciated. The music level was more difficult than usual, and I was the only euphonium player this concert so I had to be spot on for everything. And there were some tricky passages as well as high, lyrical playing that was quite exposed.
Part of the musical difficulty arose due to the repertoire choices to highlight our featured artist. Usually for the spring concert we bring in a solo artist. This time it was saxophonist Preston Duncan who is pretty well known. He teaches master classes and plays in festivals around the world and crap. He was a Fulbright scholar and the list of of accomplishments goes on and on.
He was also kind of cute and ambiguously gay. 😉
It was actually pretty cool to hear him play. So technically perfect! So easy breezy! Just flew all over the place on the horn. And the pieces called for some interesting technique things like slap tonguing and alternate fingering enharmonic stuff and growling and pitch bending and … well, you get the idea.
So, in addition to our regular difficult music, we had to play these technical pieces which showed him off. So yeah. I had to WERK!
I really enjoyed playing the euph this year, but I’m also excited to be done. I could play the summer outdoor concert series. But (1) I don’t want to be giving up summer evening time and (2) I hate marches and general outdoor band repertoire.
So- I shall enjoy my well deserved break and look forward to the fall.
There were so many red flags with this bike purchase and then subsequent delivery issues that I’m amazed that it actually arrived (and basically as described).
Let’s start with the auction, shall we?
So, it was kind of a miracle that I just happened to search eBay for the Cinelli and actually found it. And I jumped on it fast. After my first offer was rejected, I put in a slightly higher offer (still below asking) and it was accepted. And that’s when things took an odd turn.
So- I used PayPal and paid for my auction. Then I got a message from the seller saying he had a small issue with shipping costs and wondered if we could chat by phone or some other method. He sent me his contact info. Now this seemed odd- one account was linked to a Mexican restaurant.
Seeing as how my alarms went off, I did online sleuthing for the seller (google… Facebook…). He was a legitimate person and evidently owns a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. But… still seemed weird. So I reached out via his Instagram (I didn’t want to give out my number yet— spoofing, other fears).
Anyway- so outside of eBay he tells me that shipping of the whole bike was like 3 times what eBay quoted in the auction. And between that and sellers fees, the auction isn’t great for him. So the solution proposed was to cancel eBay purchase, refund my money, then transact directly through PayPal. It would avoid sellers fees and he wouldn’t lose his shirt on shipping. And he could reduce the overall price of what eBay was charging by like 90 bucks.
This seemed really fishy. Heck- even typing it now with the bike in my possession it seems fishy. So I did more research on eBay seller scams. I didn’t find anything— just that eBay gets really chippy if you use the site but then transact outside of them. Probably because of lost revenue.
So before I pulled the trigger I agreed to FaceTime with him via phone. So we did. Seem d like a nice guy. Legit. Was able to show me the bike in the box waiting to be closed up and shipped. Also showed me his other bikes. I checked out his Facebook marketplace bike listings and did even more research.
And the (against better judgement) agreed to his cancellation of the eBay sale and go direct through PayPal plan. I waited for the cancellation notice and for the funds to be returned. And then he sent the PayPal request.
Only the PayPal request came from a different name.
So now there are MORE questions. Who’s this person that I’m sending money to? His sister whom he runs his eBay account with. Which brings me to more online sleuthing and reviewing of eBay auctions and seller history, etc.
I somehow managed to lie to myself that this was legit and ok, and I sent the money. Then there was the waiting game. I was convinced I’d been scammed and that he was going to evaporate into the ether with my money. But at least I paid through PayPal and not by some other service without fraud protection.
Aside: I’m firmly convinced the guy is a legit biker guy and restaurant owner in NYC, but is using work arounds and auctions and payments to his sister to hide/launder/shift money around. Probably as some legal tax dodge or because of financial troubles. Something nefarious, but not scamming or stealing from kind-hearted midwesterners.
I tried not to be a pest, but I checked in with him a couple times about shipping— when was it going? Could I get tracking details, etc. Finally later that afternoon he sends me a text thst the bike has been sent. Sends a pic of the receipt and the tracking info.
I immediately check, and I can’t get the tracking # to pull up in UPS.
Naturally I panic and text him. He sends me the tracking info in a link- and that works. Phew! It’s showing shipping via ups from BikeFlights and everything appears to be a go.
So then I wait some more and try not to check UPS too often. By Thursday last week UPS says bike is scheduled to arrive Saturday between 2-6pm. Woo Hoo!! So I plan my Saturday and motivate early so I can be home before 2.
And Saturday around 3 I check my email and see a message from UPS. Shipping delay. New delivery window is now 2-6 on Monday.
So I work with my condo front office and ask if they’ll sign for the package because a signature is required for delivery. I can’t electronically sign ahead- I checked. Front office says yes and UPS delivers all the time to us and they have door fobs so, it’s all good.
Only on Monday I get an email in the afternoon from UPS saying “sorry we missed you” we’ll try again Tuesday.
So I get on the UPS website, and pay an additional 15 bucks to get my delivery window moved to 4-6pm on Tuesday. And then I arrange to leave work early so I can be home before 4pm to take delivery.
Please note that I’m still paranoid about this entire auction. I’m convinced the bike is going to show up and be Barbie sized or some junket bike or something. So I am quite anxious to take delivery and confirm it’s the Cinelli.
I get home at 3:50 and there’s a note on my door from UPS. Sorry we missed you- we’ll reschedule for Wednesday. And there’s a corresponding email. They tried to deliver before 3:30pm.
OH NO YOU BETTER DON’T MOTHERFUCKERS!
So I got on the horn with UPS and had a polite- yet firm- chat about time windows and payment and that they needed to send the driver back. After 3 phone calls and a few hoops- I got dispatch to send the truck back. I told them I’d be waiting downstairs for them to make it easy.
So I head to the lobby to wait.
But then (and here’s where my karma points were cashed) I had a thought. “What if UPS wasn’t going through our lobby (like Amazon) and instead used the loading dock?” Panicked, I dash outside and around the building…
UPS truck was at the loading dock.
Or the truck was. Evidently the driver had already headed upstairs to deliver. BUT I WAS DOWN HERE! In my mind I could see an elevator comedy of errors missing each other in passing playing out. So I stood there in front of the UPS truck and waited.
About 5 minutes later a peeved UPS driver comes out of loading dock with my bike box on a dolly. I rush up and say “Is that the bike for chris because I’m him and here’s my email and tracking info and I’m sorry I was waiting down here and missed you and thank you so much for coming back to deliver I love you for that!”
Or some such.
After he confirmed who I was, I signed and he handed the box off to me. “You got it from here?” He asks.