Saturday, September 02, 2006

Free Transportation 3

...The story continues again
(see Free Transportation & Free Transportation 2)

A few years ago I was commuting to the UofU in Salt Lake City from Provo via UTA. The bus schedule was bad and I had to wait an hour after class to go home. I tried to run downtown once but barely missed the bus and had to wait for the next one in the cold wind after getting sweaty from the run. I thought of building an adult sized scooter to solve my problem, but never did it. Then about a year after that I saw a Xootr scooter at Lunar Design in Palo Alto, CA when I was on a college trip. I fell in love with it. It was perfect, but I wasn't commuting the same way any more. Xootr scooters are adult sized fold up scooters. They are the best built scooters you can buy. They are built in Scranton, Pennsylvania by people who ride them. Sounds like a plug, sorry, but I love these scooters.

I was walking down York Avenue today and passed by Nycewheels, a bike shop. But not just any bike shop, they specialize in urban transportation. Electric and fold up, bicycles and electric and kick adult sized scooters. If you think this is a plug, it is, they are awesome!

I love bike shops, always have, always will. Only the mom and pop kind are good, the big chains(cute wording) are awful. Big chains have a staff of people that only know mountain bikes, or at least pretend to. Their mantra is buy the expensive one, it is the best. That must give them a better commission. I have always liked to repair my bikes and keep them going for as long as I can. The big chains are no help with repairing, they only know new. I have also gotten into beach cruisers, again no help at the big chains. The mom and pop kind has a staff of people who ride and repair the product. They know their stuff. They help get you the product that meets your task and fits your body, not their paycheck. They also don't pressure you, they let you think about your money. They must live on a budget too. It think they make a profit by earning customers loyalty. These kind of sales people are also happy and laid back. Probably from riding bicycles to work. It makes for a great atmosphere. A place where people are cool. I love bike shops

Nycewheels is a perfect example of a small bike shop that beats the big store by having a staff of urban commuters that use the store's products. I had questions about several different products, bikes and scooters, and Bert knew everything. He even knew exactly how to turn my beach cruiser into an electric bicycle. He has done it several times. I love bike shops. You might think I am raving about something simple. I am not. The big bike stores are not a pleasant place to shop. And the sales staff are just that, sales staff. That is all they know, they could be put in the gap and their script wouldn't change. Bert at Nycewheels knows that his products sell themselves so he doesn't push. While I was there he even assisted someone who bought her bike from a big store and did not know how to use it, or knew if it was even the correct size for her. Bert showed here the correct fit and taught her how to remove the front wheel to put the bike in her car. She didn't know. The big box sent her out the door without making sure she know how to use the product. That single incident makes my point exactly.

I have to get to the title of this post. While talking to me about a Xootr scooter, Bert realized that I might possibly be the 20,000 customer. He checked his computer and yeah!!! Free scooter!!!!! It is even the new MG model as well. I can't believe it. I rode away laughing with glee and smiling like a 7 year old with a new pair of shoes, or a new scooter I guess. This story just keeps getting better. I am going to fly home for Christmas in my free jet. Bert, you are a good man.

Free Transportation 2

...The story continues
(see Free Transportation)

After enjoying the wonders of a free vehicle for a few months I decided it was time to register it. I had a big problem. The windshield had a big crack right in the drivers view. No way to fudge that one. I called a friend, Bryant Jones - no relation, for some recommendations for a mechanic to put in a used windshield I found at I also mentioned to him that I had found a cap at craigslist to go on the bed of the truck so I would be ready to move to NYC. I have been talking about moving for months now. I am a little scared so I have been dragging my feet. Anyway, back to the subject of this post. Bryant told me that he had a cap in his backyard that I could have if I came and got it. Sweet, more free stuff to add to the free truck!

The cap does not match, it is white. I am told it makes me look like an old man. I wish I had a picture to post. I will have to find a camera. It also doesn't fit exactly, but close enough, and hey it is free.

I checked for a new windshield and found that after installation costs for the old one a new one was only about $50 more. Maybe it isn't worth the hassle of driving out 20 miles and then figuring a way to carry the windshield and dispose of the old one. I made another phone call to check prices. The guy tried to scheduled me and when I told me I was just shopping he beat my best price by $5 dollars tax included. That made the difference from the used one to within $10, definitely going with the new one that won't have pit marks and comes with a warranty. The windshield is a pretty important safety part, I won't take the risk. They also found a time to install it that met my schedule, the next morning instead of a week. So when shopping on the phone tell them you can beat their price, they might move for you.

Thanks Bryant, you are also a good man.

Free Transportation

You gotta love free stuff. Who doesn't?

Back in December I was given a red 1996 Ford Ranger for free. Yes, free! The picture is a black truck imagine a red one.

A friend of mine, Jeff Talkington, had his college truck stolen and recovered. When it came back it had a broken side glass and the locking cylinder was broken so that it no longer required a key to operate. Jeff was planning on replacing this truck for his dream car, a Volvo Wagon now that he had good permanent employment as a patent attorney. Jeff called me and offered the truck to me for $200, I was interested and agreed on the deal without a test drive. How can you go wrong with a $200 truck that runs. The next day Jeff called and informed me that he could no longer sell the truck because the locking mechanism was so broken that it just spun and the truck did not do anything else. He did say that if I could get it started it was mine, for nothing. Worth a try.

I rode my bike down the next day with a few tools and got a manual from the library. I started by trying to disassemble the steering column and remove the locking cylinder only to discover that you have to have the lock in the "ON" position and then you push a pin and the cylinder slides right out. Well if I could turn the lock to "ON", then I wouldn't have a problem. So out came the big screwdriver and the hammer and I got to beating the lock to death. The picture is a similar cylinder. If you look at the tab on the far left, that is the part that interacts with the internal switches and parts to make your car turn on and start. When the lock is not in the on position this part is stuck inside the steering column and you can't get the lock out. After a few hundred whacks and wiggles this part broke. Probably from cyclical metal fatigue. The lock then popped right out.

I inserted a screwdriver turned it, the truck started immediately and I laughed with glee. Yippee, free truck! I went to the store to buy a steering wheel lock and on the way passed Pep Boys. I thought I might as well check on the price of a new locking cylinder instead of just using the "club". The cylinder cost $20 and was in stock. It slid right in easily.

I then went online to and located a side glass window for $75 shipped. Locking cylinder, window and some adhesive comes to a final cost to repair the truck at under $100.
Incidentally, is a cool website. It gives you hits from cataloged cars from wrecking yard across the country. Sort by cost, location, etc. The yard I got my window from disassembles every car, drains and correctly disposes of the fluids, tests and catalogs the parts. I loved it. You no longer have to climb around a bunch of cars precariously stacked 3 or 4 high.

I send a thousand happy wishes to Jeff Talkington an his new Volvo wagon. Thanks man, you are a good person.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Y

I just read another blog about hiking to the Y. "Y" Not?
I was leaving a long comment when I realized that I should just post in my own blog. I have a habit of making long comments this one I thought deserved my own posting.

I hate the Y on the mountain. There is nothing good about it, it is ugly. If some kid did the same thing in the city, it would be considered graffiti and they would be arrested for vandalism. Why are there so many letters on the mountains of the Wasatch front? There are big enough cities below so I don't think it is for letting people know that we are here. I love the mountains and feel it disgusting to see them marred by huge letters. When I go hiking I pick up any trash I see and pack it out. I also get after people for littering, cutting trails(causes erosion) and marking trees. I know I have done all of these things in the past when I was young and stupid. Just because you made mistakes in the past it does not preclude you from doing the right thing now. I don't understand how the forest service could allow such a destructive thing to be done on their land. Maybe it is BLM, they seem to be far too relaxed. Maybe there was money exchanged or it was back in a time of ignorance. I don't think building huge letters on the sides of mountains would be allowed today. At least I hope not.

I have vowed to never hike the Y again. When you get to the top all you do is look at the city down below. I find this to be the same for those who hike to the top of Mount Timpanogos. The valley at the top of Timp is stunning, I don't know why you want to stare at an ugly city. I am happy that I have hiked to the top of Timp a few times. It is a good challenge. Now when I go I stay in the valley with emerald lake, it is a much better view there. When I go hiking it is to get out of the city I don't want to stare back at it.

Caveat: I will hike to the Y again if I have a backpack full of dynamite. With full compliance with the law of course. I would love to get funding and buy the Y from BYU or whoever you would buy it from. I would remove it from the mountain and replace it with scrub oak and grass.

I was having this discussion with my neighbor once and she became very upset that I would go against the church seeing how they built it. I told her that BYU was not the church, and the church was not BYU. She was either more offended or just confused by that comment. When I had this discussion with one of my friends his mother overheard. She became angry with us and told us that she and her mother helped to construct the Y. It was a great time and it was their way of showing their love and support for the school. Well, I recognize her feelings to be good and genuine but the activity was still wrong. History just means that it happened it doesn't mean that it was good.

I think we have the responsibility to be good stewards of the magnificent gift which God has lent us. The Earth. It is wrong to abuse animals plants and geography, the environment. If you want to call me a tree hugger to try and dismiss my argument with name calling, please do. It will only show your ignorance, besides some trees are probably more inviting to hug than you anyway.

I must admit that I kinda like it when they put lights on the Y for special occasions. It seems they are having a lot of special occasions lately. I think they could just get a spotlight with a stencil and shine it on the Mountain. They could get creative and have all kinds of stencils. It would be a lot easier and it wouldn't create any permanent damage.

I recognize that we are going to make an impact. Every creature does. When we have the ability to make such a large impact we need to be careful that we only do that which is necessary. Tagging Mountains is ugly and not necessary.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Life Weeds

I like to pull weeds. Honestly, I like pulling weeds. I often weed the yards of friends when they are not looking. It is the quickest solution to a parasitic problem. I feel great doing it. Weeding is a great time to think. There isn't much else to do with your brain while weeding because weeding takes very little brain power. When you first start out gardening you have to be careful not to pull the desired plant along with the weeds. After practice the identification of weeds and desired plants becomes easy and automatic. You can also recognize younger and younger plants and get rid of them before they get bigger. (the only thing that makes a weed different from another plant is how welcome it is. A tomato is a weed if you don't want it growing in with the peonies.) My sisters tell me of a time when my father reluctantly helped my mother with the weeding. He was almost finished when my mother screamed that he had just pulled all of the onions. He thought they were grass. I think he just doesn't like to weed and didn't want to be asked to help again. He prefers to help in other ways.

In our lives we have things that like weeds are parasitic. I will call them life weeds. Our lives are cluttered full of way too much stuff. We have distractions, bad habits, addictions, laziness, procrastination, fear of failure, insistence on perfection which prevents completion and obligations that take our time and give nothing in return. Wow, I could do a post on each one of those. They keep us from harvesting those fruits of life we wish to harvest most. But unlike physical weeds, life weeds are not quickly dealt with. Some of them we are unaware of. So, maybe this is one of the reasons I like to do physical weeding. I can pick a patch of garden, assess the need, and have it clear of weeds in what seems to be just a few moments. It is simple. I am not as adept at weeding life weeds. I could identify many of them, probably down the the genus species if there were a taxonomy for life weeds. Ridding my life of them is another story.

I have learned that it is extremely important to quickly remove weeds, the literal and the symbolic one. Weeds when left to their own will grow in strength and become nearly impossible to deal with without causing harm to the desirable plants in a garden. When left alone weeds propagate and become a much bigger problem. Life weeds are similar to this behavior as well. In regards to religion I compare this to sins, a topic for a different blog. When a behavior is not corrected it becomes a habit and much more difficult to deal with. Bad habits lead to other bad habits. It can be a devastating cycle. How do I change behavior? How do I do some weeding in my life? It is hard. Often during introspection I wonder why I keep doing things that I hate and why I can't seem to fix them. Why do I resolve to correct the same thing week after week? I am sure this is not uncommon.

The irony in this blog called
In the Garden and this post called Life Weeds, is that sometimes I use the garden and weeding to avoid other more important needs. Instead of weeding my life I weed the garden. I am working hard and doing a good thing. That should be a good use of my time. I wonder if other people do good things to not feel bad about not doing the more important higher priority things? For me, weeding the garden can be a life weed.

Monday, June 06, 2005

First Post

I am embarking on a new thing. I have never blogged before. Why, would I, who would want to read what I have to say? I signded up with blogger to post comments on a friends blog( Now that I have the space, I guess I will use it.

more to come...