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Lightning Biking in Toronto

After our one and only movie today, followed by a late lunch, Scott and I returned to the hotel for a bike ride. Dan remained in Toronto for some shopping and to catch another movie. Scott and I actually headed back towards Toronto this time (a few days ago we went North, deep into Mississauga). Our target was a peninsula that we thought would give us a unique view of downtown Toronto, without actually going all the way to the Islands (which we considered doing yesterday, after finding that the CN tower was booked for the evening). At any rate, we made it where we wanted to go, but it turns out that the best vantage point was on the way there. It was also getting late, so we turned around and began hightailing it back in the fading light. Just as we started, I thought I noticed a flash of lightning off in the distance, where, of course, we were heading. Hooray, an adventure, thought I. Scott was less enthusiastic. At any rate, it was lightning, and we rode straight into a flashing, thundering rain storm. By this time all was dark, and the rain was coming down so hard with strong headwinds that we couldn’t keep our eyes open, so we took shelter under a nearby building until the rain died down a little. Soon after we took off again, we passed a huge group of about 30 bikers. At a fork two passed us; we decided to follow and ended up having to turn around after about a mile down a wrong road. Still, it wasn’t so bad, and the rain had stopped, so despite cold feet and many miles (kilometers?) to go, we retraced our steps and got onto the right road.

Like so many other places, Ontario has many good drivers and a few jerk-offs. On the four lane road we shared on about half the ride, a lot of drivers got out of our way and passed on in the left lane, an easy task as traffic was light. A few decided it would be better to honk at us and look at us with evil eyes while they (eventually) passed us in the left lane. Some of them got fingers. We made it back, wet but happy. Quite the ride; quite the adventure. This town is pretty nice.

Stuck In First

Last Saturday, after Frisbee, a few of the gang hopped into my car to head to Jamba Juice, a nearly weekly tradition. While the 1996 Saturn SL1 sedan I drive had been working fine on the way to frisbee, when leaving I quickly noticed that it was not shifting into second gear, a gear I use very frequently. It felt like something the shifter connected to had come loose — somewhat like the connection between a sink drain plug and the knob used to set it, had fallen off. The problem quickly grew worse — after Jamba Juice, the car would no longer shift into any of the gears that involved pulling the shifter down — namely second, fourth, and reverse. Needless to say, getting out of the UVilliage parking lot was difficult — thankfully, Ananth and Boby were both there to push. Nevertheless, I managed to persevere for the first half of the next week — I park on an upward incline and can therefore back out without reverse. At work and around town, I parked in a way that allowed me to exit by pulling forward. Nevertheless, things were still worsening. On Wednesday, I was beginning to have trouble shifting out of gears. Wednesday after work, I found that I could no longer shift out of first gear at all. So, it was definitely time to visit the shop. The drive to Saturn of Bellevue was a bit painful — I couldn’t shift out of first so the trip involved a lot of slow, high-rpm travel. On flat areas of the road, I would bring the engine up to about 5,000 rpm, which would bring the car up to about 35 miles per hour, then I would coast down to about 15 and repeat. Up hills, I just let the engine run at about 3,000 rpm and took the hit in speed. I finally made it — and even managed to park the car backwards into a stall by using gravity and a little bit of fancy footwork. My Dad picked me up and I ate dinner with the parents before heading into Seattle to pack for the trip to Toronto that I am currently on. On my way out of Cleveland to Toronto, I talked to my Dad and recieved the happy news that the repair cost only $65 — $60 for labor and $5 for the piece that had broken.

Meanwhile, to coincide with my trip, I took my mountain bike, a Giant DS2 ETX into Recycled Cycles for some more planned maintenance. The estimate came to a cool $265 for a new cassette (rear gears), a new middle gear on the front (the old one was bent), a new chain (the old one was stretched and worn), a new rear wheel and tire (both practically falling apart), and a new cable and cover for the rear derailleur (the old one had become frayed and kinked). The repairs will actually total more than I paid for the bike originally, just about a year ago. With the use its seen since then, I think this maintenance is well worth the price.

In Toronto

Dan, Scott and I arrived in Toronto today. We stopped at Niagara Falls briefly right after passing customs into Canada, and while very impressive, the falls would be a lot better in a nature preserve instead of overly commercialized as they currently are. Nevertheless, I’m still glad we went — it was pretty cool.

At the moment, we have only 15 of the 40 tickets we asked for; the balance we have in the form of vouchers that we have to find movies for. Thats crap; never come to the Toronto International Film Festival because they RAR you: as it currently stands, we paid about $50 per ticket for movies the bottom half of the list of movies that we wanted to see. Awesome.

At any rate, its nice to be in another country again, even it it is “just” our neighbors to the north. And we’ll make the most of it. Scott and I went on a run tongiht, and tomorrow we have two movies. Should be fun!

Remissing

Major recent events thats I would like not to forget:

  • Presented a poster about my CREE project at the UW’s Summer REU poster session at Mary Gates Hall on Thursday, September 16, 2007
  • My brother Ben and his wife Kaylee came to town last weekend. I got to play ultimate with Ben and eat dinner and watch Serenity with the whole family
  • I’ve been spending about one day a week testing Cochlear implant users with the Rubinstein lab at the Bloedel Hearing Research Center at the UW Medical Center. A lot of their stories are truly incredible — cochlear implants have had huge positive impacts on most of their lives. Its great to talk to the subjects between tests and learn about their stories
  • Today (Tuesday), was the final “required” CREE event, the third BRI lecture
  • Also today, I got to run a major software package at work that I built. After a little debugging, it is working well, and it is an incredibly fulfilling feeling to have it working so well at this point

Blue Angels at Seafair 2007

Because of the great success from last year, Kunlun, a roommate of his, and I hit up Coleman Park just south of I-90 to watch the Blue Angels. Most everyone else was lame and wanted to play frisbee or study or work, but we still had a good time: the roommate and Kunlun brought a grill and meat, I brought the buns and condiments, and we had some good hamburgers while watching the show.

Honestly, the show seemed a little toned down this year — Kunlun suggested that maybe this is because the Angels lost one of their own a few months ago? At any rate, the sky opened up to the sun just in time and it was hard to beat the view. Of course, having the jets roaring overhead always makes for a worthwhile activity.

Mariners win in 12

Dan invited me to attend the Mariner’s game with him and his dad today. Felix Hernandez was pitching against a division rival, so it seemed like a good bet. Jay was kind enough to buy the ticket for me — a very generous offering, since the tickets were very well situated only twenty rows back along the first base line.

I decided to bike to the game to avoid parking — I took Roosevelt across the bridge then followed Eastlake and kind of winged it after that, heading generally south and west until I made it to Safeco Field. I arrived a few minutes late, but I didn’t miss anything — The M’s picked it up soon after I arrived, however, with a three run second inning. The game continued to go well, with the only scare coming from Hernandez and Brousard colliding on a choper down the first base line. It went fine, that is, until the top of the ninth when the normally solid J.J. Putz showed some cracks and gave up three runs to tie the game at 7 a piece.

The next few innings were gut-wrenching, not only because we all knew that the M’s really should have already won the game, but also because there were many Angel base runners in those innings, including several cases of loaded base-itis. In the end, however, the Mariners got the bases loaded themselves with just one out, forcing the Angel infielders to creep in, making Betancourt’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th all-the-more likely.

So, it was a great relief, and a greatly entertaining game. I rode back the same way I came, winging it until I got back to Fairview, which I followed to Eastlake then back acorss the bridge (which was up) before making it back to the U-district. Not a bad way to end the day.

Movies and Such

Early this morning before sleep, I watched Fight Club. I thought the twist was better than the one in The Usual Suspects, and it was overall more interesting as well. I give it a 4.5/5 (A).

Before that, I caught the Simpsons with Jon and Joe & Company before heading to Applebee’s for happy hour appetizers. It was as advertised, a slightly longer, slightly more involved episode that might as well have been on TV during some special. Still, some laughs, but most of then were given away in the previews. I guess I’d give it a 2.5/5 or a C.

That brings me to today, where after a good ultimate game, we headed to Jamba Juice and then the Apple Store, where we started playing with some iPhones. Somehow, after figuring out that the iPhones were active, the four of us there got the idea to put our numbers into the phones under the name of “Steve Jobs.” We then left the store, waiting for someone else to start looking at the targeted phone, and called. It was much too hilarious to watch as a man and his wife were surprised to see that they were getting a call from Steve Jobs. When the man answered, I identified myself as Steve Jobs and asked if this was the Seattle Apple Store. He seemed surprised, but answered in the affirmative. I then asked if he could get an Apple employee on the line. He paused again, but then said, “Yes” and proceeded to look around the store for the nearest employee. At this point, I was laughing too hard to remain inconspicuous, so I had to hang up and walk away from the store. But oh my, was it fun.

All this was followed by an afternoon chilling with Dan on Alki beach and a dinner which got canceled (tear), but it was a pretty good day overall.