Sunday, December 25, 2016

Adrian's Year In Review: The Best Blogs of 2016

That's right kids.  It's that time of year again.  It's time for my, "Best of Blogs" for the year 2016. 


This year I wrote 54 blogs including this one.  I have once again made my goal of averaging writing a blog once a week. 

For my "Best Of," I make two "Top 5" lists.  One is for the most viewed.  Although I realize this is unfair since the blogs written in January had more time to be viewed than the blogs in December.  That is the nature of the beast though.

My other "Top 5" list is for my personal favorites.  Despite how many views they actually had, I pick the blogs that I think are my best work for the year. 

First up, the Top 5 most viewed blogs.

5.  Bad Luck Windshield, And The Best Way To Ruin A Saturday.  33 views.

I'm not sure why a post complaining about how I destroyed my car's back windshield made the list, but it somehow did.  I think I only posted it once.  Since I tend to write at night I post a blog a few times on Facebook so that people have a chance to see it.  I guess my bad luck resonated with a lot of folks.

4.  The Whitest Girl Coffee You Know.  35 views.

I have to say, sometimes Adrian humor sometimes doesn't quite make the mark.  However, this time it did.  When great writing meets funny pictures, that's when hilarious blogs happen.

3.  What We Pass Down.  41 views.
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/12/what-we-pass-down.html

I really didn't expect this blog post to make the list.  I've only had it posted for four days.  However, a lot of my relatives viewed it due to what I had to say about my Grandmother in it.  I also think it had a lot of views due to the blog that preceded it.  That post happened to be next on this list.

2.  A "Little Talk," For My Grandmother.  48 views.
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-little-talk-for-my-grandmother.html

This blog post was passed around and seen by many of my relatives.  Many of them couldn't make my Grandmother's funeral service so I posted what occurred at the service, as well as the speech I gave.  I thought this would have a lot of views, but 48 is quite a lot for being posted just nine days.

1.  New Pedal Board Day:  Homestyle Edition:  Part 1.  55 views.
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/07/new-pedal-board-day-homestyle-edition.html

I understand why this blog post had so many views.  It's because there are a lot of musicians looking for a do-it-yourself/ make-it-yourself guitar pedal board.  Not only did I tell them where to go, but I also told them the part number.  Then I posted lots of pictures, and gave step by step details on not only how to make it, but how to make it right. 

I'd like to think that lots of musicians were able to take my advice.  I even had a friend who considered doing exactly what I did.  He found a deal on a regular metal pedal board, but he was glad that I posted this. 

Now we go onto my personal favorite blogs of 2016. 

5.  Hey Mama, Don't Rock Me.  Don't Rock Me One Bit.
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/07/hey-mama-dont-rock-me-dont-rock-me-one.html

Adrian finds out he's not the only one who thinks "Wagon Wheel" is overplayed.  There's a whole Wikipedia page about it. 

4.  Scareboarders:  This Year's Bad April Fools' Day Gag
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/04/scareboarders-this-years-bad-april-days.html

Every year Adrian pulls a pretty awesome April Fools' Day gag.  If people were fish, Adrian would have hooked a bunch. 

3.  Full Service Luthier
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/03/full-service-luthier.html

I was thinking of doing another guitar repair blog when I thought, "Eh, that's boring.  Let's do something fun."  So I showed just how much of a full service luthier I am.  This one had lots of funny pictures in it too.

2.  The Whitest Girl Coffee You Know, Part 2
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-whitest-girl-coffee-you-know-part-2.html

Part 1 was pretty awesome, however, Part 2 "went there."  I finally made Dad laugh after two days of him being depressed. 

1.  A "Little Talk," For My Grandmother
http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-little-talk-for-my-grandmother.html

Not only do I think this is the best blog of 2016, it might be the most important blog I have ever written.  Admittedly, I had been thinking about my speech for a long time.  So when I wrote it I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to talk about.  So that made this blog pretty easy. 

I just posted what happened at the funeral service for my Grandmother, and I posted my speech.  However, it was what I said that made this post so important.  That, and the fact it was able to be shared with those who weren't able to hear it in it's original form.  Again, I think it's more important than it is good. 


So that wraps up another year.  It's hard to believe that I started writing in the spring of 2008.  My sister told me I should be blogging way before then.  She said that due to my natural storytelling ability and my love of writing, blogging might be something that I liked. 

Here is it almost eight years since I started, and this will be my 566th post.  I've posted stories, how to guides, instrument reviews, silly pictures, adventures, and so much more.  I hope I am lucky enough to keep writing.  I also hope I continue to become a better writer. 

I look at my early blogs, and see how they were just long posts like I would post on Myspace.  (Remember Myspace?)  That's where my blog got its start.  My posts were just quick thoughts and nothing more.  Once I had moved to Blogger I started to develop my thoughts a bit more. 

My early, erratic posts were funny in their own way, but a lot of the time they weren't that good.  Once I took writing a little more seriously I developed into a much better writer.  I hope to continue that trend. 

So here is a goodbye to 2016.  Overall, it's been an up year for me.  It hasn't been good for all the celebrities that it's killed off, but I have had a personal, profound change this year.  There was good, bad, and straight through indifferent, but overall I had more good than bad.  And despite the bad, I also grew as a person.  I think that may be the biggest, more important lesson that I will take from 2016. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Welcome Bob A. Fish To The Fish Tank

I was aiming to post this a little while back, but as you can see down my blog feed my Grandmother passed away.  So this post had to be put on hold for a while. 

A few weeks ago I dropped by Pet City to see about adding some more fish to my fish tank.  I had five angelfish already so I wasn't looking to add anymore.  I was checking the price on certain tetras or other fish that would get along with angelfish.

But that's when I saw him.  Bob.  Bob Angel Fish.  He was so tiny, but had some amazing markings.  So he had to come home with me.  This is Bob.


You can see just how tiny he is for an angelfish.  I was worried he might be picked at by the larger fish.  However, I have not had any trouble with these angelfish.  Honestly, I've had more trouble with mollies.  That's right.  Those "community fish," that are supposed to get along with each other?  I had one molly flat out kill another many years ago.  I have had no trouble at all with these angels.

I have to say the five angelfish I bought a couple of months back have been some of the smartest fish I've had.  They know who feeds them.  I can sit in my chair, and they will stare at me or at least come over to check on me.  Yes, I've had fish do that before, but none learned to do that within three days. 

Here's a picture of Bob with some of the older angels.


Here's one of the bigger angels in what is one of my better pictures.


It's funny in that, they were so tiny just a couple of months ago.  I remember commenting on how their bodies (not counting the fins) were no bigger than a quarter.  Now, they are much, much bigger.  Bob is no bigger than a black tetra at this moment.  But I think he will get some size on him in no time.  Much like his tank mates.

So maybe I will get a few more fish in the tank.  I do have the room.  I think some black neon tetras would get along well with everyone.  I've had great luck with them before.  But we'll see.  If I do, you can be sure that I will write a blog post about it. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What We Pass Down

After my Grandmother had passed away, now comes the morbid and confusing part.  What do we do with all her possessions.  When my Grandmother was alive she told me to take anything I wanted.  She even kept trying to give me a few things.  I don't really have the room to take anything. 

Grandma had a lot of vintage and depression glass, but I'm not a glass collector.  In fact, I bought her a piece of Fenton glass for her birthday a few years back.  I even wrote a blog about it back then.  Here it is:

http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2011/08/adrian-always-has-place-at-grandmas.html

Even though I don't collect glass I thought that Grandma would want me to have that little Fenton vase that I gave to her five years ago.  Everyone was in agreement, so it came home with me.



That was pretty much all I wanted.  I was helping Dad find his possessions from his Air Force days when I came across a knife.  Grandpa loved collecting knives.  In fact, when he passed away in 2006, I inherited a few of his knives.  However, this knife was different in that, it was a bayonet type knife.



I had my computer with me, and looked it up on the internet by it's markings.  It seems it's an USM4 bayonet that fits on the end of an M1 rifle.  I looked at the different makes, and it seems that this is the second generation of the knife.  This means it was issued for use in the Korean War and the early part of the Vietnam conflict. 

This website helped me out tremendously.

http://worldbayonets.com/Bayonet_Identification_Guide/United_States__Post-War_/us_post_war_2.html

Go down to where it says, "M4, Second Generation." 

This website confirmed that it was in the correct time period due to it being made by Camillus out of Camillus, N.Y. 

http://www.quanonline.com/military/military_reference/fighting_knives/m4history.php

Dad had a theory that this knife might have belonged to my Uncle "Bug," who is my Grandmother's brother.  He served in Korea.  However, Grandpa was into trading knives, and might have traded or bought it from a veteran he knew. 

This model of knife was made from 1954 to the late 1960's so there are a lot of them out there.  So with both Grandma and Grandpa passed away I have no idea how this knife ended up in their possession.  All I know is that Grandpa had a lot of knives he collected.  90% of them were the nice little folding pocketknives that only had a single or double blade. 

There was one giveaway that my Grandfather had handled this knife.  It was still in good condition, and it was dangerously sharp.  Grandpa liked to sharpen his knives until you could shave with them.  I could also see on this knife where the blade had been "dinged," and someone (my Grandfather) had sharpened and smoothed out the ding. 

So I will keep it with my possessions.  I will take care of it.  And it will make a nice little memory.  It seems that twice now my Grandfather has left a knife for me. 

Here's a nice picture of my Grandfather.  Small animals and children loved him.



Saturday, December 17, 2016

A "Little Talk," For My Grandmother

Earlier today my family held my Grandmother's funeral service.  Afterwards we buried her at Franklin Cemetery in Branchland, W.V.  There is a lot going through my head, but I want to preserve what happened for those who weren't able to make the service.

A lot of friends and family weren't able to make the service due to health reasons.  Many of them are older, and have serious medical conditions.  They aren't able to drive very far, and the trip to West Virginia is pretty far for a lot of them.  For Dad and myself, the trip is 900 miles up and 900 miles back. 

Not to mention the temperatures have been dropping to below freezing, and not everyone can handle such extreme temperature drops.  Due to the weather West Virginia is experiencing this time of year, the roads can have rain, sleet, snow, and ice on them.  The roads are better than they used to be years ago, but the twists and turns around the mountains can be very tricky to maneuver.   

Even the people who couldn't or wouldn't drive can't book a flight this time of year.  Think about it.  It's the holiday season, and flights are booked solid until after the new year.  So let's be honest, there is never a good time to pass away, but there were so many factors that made it very difficult to attend my Grandmother's funeral service during this time of year. 

I know many friends and relatives wanted to attend, and couldn't.  Believe me, no one is upset that they couldn't attend due to so many conditions.  When I think of the people I would expect to be there, I have to remember that so many have passed away.  It is a blessing and a curse.  My Grandmother lived to 87 years of age, but she outlived so many of her friends and family.

The service was begun with an opening prayer by Pastor Lenny Romans.  My Grandmother's obituary was then read.  I was then asked to give my little talk.  My cousin Crystal followed with a speech of her own.  My cousin Melody then sang the full rendition of "Amazing Grace."  Then Lonnie "Tommy to his friends" Scraggs gave a speech.  Melody sang another song.  To close out the service, Pastor Lenny Romans gave his speech.  Overall, the service lasted about an hour and a half.

At Franklin Cemetery we gathered around where my Grandmother's casket would be buried.  Pastor Lenny Romans gave a small speech.  Afterwards, we were each able to take a rose from the arrangement that was placed on her coffin.

I wanted to have my speech/ eulogy/ little talk posted for those who weren't able to attend.  That way, they can know what was said, and how I feel about my Grandmother.  The following is what I spoke.

Hello.  My name is Adrian Ray Long.  Grandma Betty was simply, "Maw-maw" to me. 

Back in 2011 my gall bladder tried to kill me.  I had to have major surgery that left a hole in my stomach.  As a result I ended up being off of work for four months.  Once I had recovered enough that my stomach was healed, my Sister Melanie and I headed up to spend some vacation time in West Virginia with my Grandmother.


We had lots of fun.  Grandma, Melanie, and myself drove around took care of a lot of little things, visited a few people, and ate at Grandma’s second favorite restaurant, Bob Evans.  It was there that my Grandmother took on a real serious tone and told me, “When the time comes, I want you to speak.”  I have to admit, I was taken aback a little.  My Grandmother had never said something so serious and heavy to me before. 


I thought about that for a few days.  It was then a few days later that again, the three of us were eating in a restaurant like Bob Evans, that I had the courage to ask her.  I said, “Grandma, this is pretty heavy.  Speaking at your funeral?  What I am supposed to say?”  She told me that I could talk about anything I wanted.  I could speak about eating at the restaurant.  It didn’t matter as long as I spoke. 


And while I have spoken about the restaurant, I do want to say something that would be worthy of the woman that she was.  What I want to speak about today is defining moments.  There are many here that can speak of their memories of my Grandmother from the nineteen thirties to the present day.  I want to speak about the Grandmother I knew.  And I can’t speak about my Grandmother without speaking of my wonderful Grandfather Ray. 


I have many memories of my Grandfather.  But there is one memory of him that defines him to me.  He was holding a two week old kitten in the palm of his hand.  The kitten was very small.  If you’ve ever had to deal with the semi-feral cats in West Virginia, you know they aren’t that trusting of people.  Yet, this little kitten was on it back, in my Grandfather’s palm, letting my Grandfather pet its belly while it meowed happily.  That sums up the kind of man my Grandfather was.  Even the smallest and feeblest of creatures trusted and loved him.


The defining memory of my Grandmother is from when I was six.  It was my first time in the hospital, and I was getting my tonsils removed, adenoids taken out, and tubes put in my ears all at the same time.  It was rough.  But my Grandmother came down to Florida to help my Father out.  He told her, “I need help,” and she was there that day. 


When I woke up from surgery I couldn’t so much as talk, it was more like making a croaking sound.  I would try to talk to my Grandmother, and I couldn’t even understand myself.  You all know that she was deaf in one ear, but she still managed to understand me, even when I couldn’t understand myself.  In the toughest moment of my life up to that point, she was there beside me.  That was the best gift that a scared six year old could get.  


The wonderful thing about defining memories is that each of us has a different defining moment of another person.  Your defining moments of my Grandparents may have taken place before I was born.  I want you to share those memories.  Because they are gifts to be treasured, but also shared. 


My Grandparents had a lot of the same interests, but they were also very different.  However, I think their relationship could be described by the Ancient Chinese Philosophy of the Yin and the Yang.  It means that forces that are opposite or contrary can actually be complimentary to each other. 


Let me explain.  My Grandfather was a man of few words, but that’s okay because my Grandmother talked enough for both of them.  My Grandfather liked working in the garden, and my Grandmother liked telling him what to do in the garden.  Anything my Grandfather brought in from the garden, my Grandmother would cook and spice up.  As long as that spice was either salt, pepper, or sugar.  Sometimes vinegar.   My Grandfather very calm, cool, and collected.  He’s the one who had to keep my Grandmother from knocking someone’s head in during their younger days. 


It’s no secret that after the war my Grandfather had what they called a “lost weekend.”  That “lost weekend,” ended up lasting three years.  However, my Grandmother had a strength within her that helped my Grandfather get his life on track.  And as such, together, they were able to get their lives moving forward. 


My Grandmother tended to speak in absolutes.  As in, “This was the best sandwich, or that was the worst pain that’s ever been.”  So I know she won’t mind when I say she was the best Grandma that ever was.  And how could I disagree? 


I was able to have pie.  Lots of pie.  As a child she would listen to me when a lot of other adults would brush off a child.  She never forgot to send a birthday card.  She always told me, “Maw-maw loves you.”  She also let me win at playing cards when I was kid.  I know Dad is thinking, “She never did that for me.”


One absolute I can say is that, she never said a mean thing to me.  Never.  Not once.  That’s not to say we didn’t disagree about some things, but she was never mean, rude, or insulting.


Looking back at that day in Bob Evans, my Grandmother knew I was going to be giving this speech one day.  While I am sad, I am not angry.  My Grandmother had a heart attack about a year before I was born, and she lived.  She had another one, and she lived.  She’s had I think, 15 stints in her arteries as well as an oblation, and she lived.  She had cancer in her kidney.  They took her kidney out, and she lived.


She had a heart blockage on Thanksgiving a few years ago.  Dad held her in the back seat of my Ford Focus as I drove to the emergency room.  I have to admit, I was scared and ran a red light to turn into the ER when no one was coming.  I talked to her the whole way as my Boy Scout First Aid, Emergency Preparedness, and Lifesaving training had taught me so long ago.  Later on she told me she could hear every word I said, even if she couldn’t respond.  And I want you to think about that.  She could hear every word I said. 


I think back to that time I spent in the hospital as a kid, and how she was there for me.  In the toughest of times, I was glad I could be there to help her out just like she did for me.


I am not angry.  I am sad, but I am not angry.  There was a chance that I was never going to be able to have her in my life.  I feel fortunate that she has been in my life as long as she has. 


When my Grandfather passed away my Grandmother was at the edge of his coffin and said, “We were married over 50 years, but it just wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t enough time.”  I am reminded of John Mellencamp’s Grandmother who told him, “I have lived to 100 years old, but life is short, even in its longest days.” 


As I close out I ask you to talk to each other.  Keep the lines of communication open.  Do away with old grievances.  Tell each other you love one another.  And please, share your defining moment of my Grandmother with one another.  Share it with me.  Even if that defining moment is something as simple as eating lunch at a Bob Evans restaurant.  Thank you everyone.
I have to say, my speech was well received.  I had about forty people compliment me on my speech.  Someone very close to me said, "It was powerful."  I know my Grandmother would want me to "knock it out of the park."  She would want me to succeed.  And knowing the way my dear Grandmother spoke she would want me to, "Give the greatest speech that was ever told." 

The truth is I wanted to give her the best.  I wanted to do right by her.  After all that she and my Grandfather have done for me, it was the least I could do.  As I said in my speech, my Grandmother told me she wanted me to speak at her funeral back in 2011.  I'll admit, I have thought many times about what I would say, and how I could get it right.  My speech clocked in around ten minutes.  Believe it or not, I actually, "cut the fat."  I trimmed it down to best parts of what I had written.  I honestly could have spoken for half an hour. 

As I finish up this blog I will repeat what I said in my speech.  I am sad, but I am not angry.  I feel lucky to have had my Grandmother in my life as long as I had.  In contrast, I am reminded about what my Grandmother said about being married to my Grandfather.  It just wasn't enough time.  When I digest this all through my head I can only think, "I am sad, and there just wasn't enough time to spend with my Grandmother."


Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Whitest Girl Coffee You Know, Part 2

You know, I have to admit it.  I love having fun with Starbucks baristas.  I've done it before, and I did it again.  To know what I am talking about, check out my first post about my Starbucks misadventures.

http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-whitest-girl-coffee-you-know.html

The day started out kind of mixed.  You see, it was day two of my Dad and I heading to West Virginia to attend my Grandmother's (his Mother) funeral service.  We had just crossed into West Virginia when Dad admitted he needed some coffee to keep the yawns and sleepiness at bay. 

We stopped into the Princeton travel plaza that had a Starbucks.  Dad just wanted plain black coffee.  I thought about what I wanted and that's when it came to me.  I didn't need coffee.  I needed "White Girl" coffee. 

I walk up to the barista, and I told her, "Imagine I was the whitest girl you knew.  My name would be Rebecca, (and this next part I said in my best Valley Girl) but all my friends call me Becky!  What drink would I order?"

So basically imagine that I would look like this.



Oh let's be honest, I would "totally" look like Amanda Seyfried.


Anyway, she thinks for about it for five seconds and says, "White mocha or pink ..."

"That's it!!!!"  I exclaimed!  "I want the white mocha on ice!"

She asked, "What size do you want?"

"I want the big one!  I don't know the name of it since I don't speak Italian, but I want the big one!"

To which she said, "Well, at least you knew it was Italian.  I had one woman who thought it was French." 

So she sets about making me the perfect white girl coffee.  She was very meticulous and careful about measuring every unit perfectly.  I think she was drawn to my spirit and as such, she wanted to make the most perfect white girl coffee that had ever been made.

She then asked, "Do you want whip cream on it?"

I responded with an enthusiastic, "Oh yes!  And if you have a cherry you can put it on top as well."

She looked me straight in the eye, and said, "I don't have cherries, ... but I do have strawberries."

My gaze met her gaze, and I said, "That's even better."

She told me in a matter of fact voice, "I didn't think you could make that coffee any more "white girl," but you did." 

I nodded in the fact that we were both on the same page.  We had only just met, but we knew each other so intimately, and it was all due to white girl coffee.

She handed me the wonderfully magical cup, and said, "Thank you sir."

I looked her in the eye and said, "Call me Becky."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Water Fountain Dilemma

I have written a few blogs about learning the HVAC/R trade at Erwin Technical College.  It has really opened my eyes as to what needs refrigeration and cooling.  I have also had to learn not only the refrigerant cycle, chemistry, electrical, and piping, but also how to put them all together. 

Our class had something interesting happen that really made me think about using all our skills and putting them to use on one project.  Case in point.  We were told to come over to the dental tech's office to look at a water fountain.  You know, just a standard water fountain. 

We were told that the water was shooting too far, and it wasn't cooling.  When it came to the water shooting too far, all it needed was for the cap to be cleaned out.  You know, the little piece where the water exits from?  It was clogged up with lime.  So that was an easy fix.

The cooling part?  Not so much.  See, this is where it gets tricky.  We need to remove the parts that cool the water.  But to do that we needed to shut down electricity to the water fountain.  Legally speaking it takes a friendly electrician to do that. 



Here's the catch 22.  Yes, you are allowed to flip the power breaker switch.  Yes, you are also allowed to flip it back on.  But if something was repaired it needs to be repaired by an electrician.  So "technically/legally" the water fountain at the school needs to be shut down by the electrician. 

(Sidenote:  This also depends on your city/county/state ordinances.  Things can very greatly depending upon where you are.)

Now, the internal parts of the water fountain were ready to be removed.  Well, not quite.  You see, the piping that fed the water to the water fountain is coming from the City of Tampa.  That means that is City of Tampa water, and if you want to mess with that you need to be a certified plumber.  So call in your friendly plumber.


Now the plumber has the authority to shut off the water.  He also has the training to work on the piping, but so does the HVAC technician.  Either way, we now come to the friendly HVAC tech.


Now our class could get busy repairing the unit.  It needed a good cleaning out, some refrigerant, and elbow grease.  Now we do everything in reverse.

We installed the parts back into the water fountain.  Then the plumber turned the water back on.  And finally, the electrician turned the electricity back on.  We let the unit run a bit, and it was running good as new. 

So, remember when you see a water fountain, ask yourself, "Just how many people did it take to get that thing running?" 

The answer is, "A lot."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm A Bike Guy Now

So I'm a bike guy now.  That right.  I bought a bike.  I'm going to go down the road with the wind in my oh so beautiful black hair. 

Of course, some of you may think I would look like this.


Of course, I have put on a few pounds over the years.  Some of you might think I look more like this.


I know some hot chicks will ask, "So you have a bike?  What kind is it?  Is it a Harley Dyna?"


"Is it the Honda Shadow Aero you always wanted?"


"Or did you get one of the new Triumph Bonneville's?" 


The truth is, I didn't buy a motorbike.  I bought a bicycle.  A Roadmaster Quarry Ridge 29.


To which the hot chick would reply, "What are you eight years old?"

Let me expound on this.  I have only had one bike in my life.  I let my sister's boyfriend borrow it when he lost his driver's license.  One day when he was returning home, it got a flat tire.  He "hid" it in the woods and planned to come back later and retrieve it.  By the time he did make it back it was already gone.  "Finder's keepers, Adrian's weepers."  Why he just didn't walk with it home, I'll never know.  He never told me.  My sister had to tell me after they broke up. 

So I wanted a bike.  I looked around but noticed a few problems.  Most men's mountain bikes had 24 or 26 inch tires.  A lot of the reviews said they were good for 14 year old boys, but not fully grown men.  I looked around some more, but realized I needed more information.  After all, I haven't had to look at bikes for over 15 years. 

I went to University Bike Shop.  I know they had been around a while.  I didn't realize it was since 1972.  I told the salesman named Rick that I didn't know anything about bikes, and he would have to talk to me like an eight year old.  His shop specialized in higher end bikes.  He had a lot of touring and really fast bikes. 

He asked me what my price point was.  I told him I had a bit of sticker shock in that, that bike over there cost more than my Ford Focus's blue book value.  After showing me the lowest priced new bikes, he asked if I was interested in a used bike.  I told him that since I was sure to crash into a few mailboxes, I would prefer a used bike. 

We went to a few places in the store.  He showed me a rack in the back, and there it was.  The bike that was just right.  It was a used Wal-Mart special.  A Roadmaster Quarry Ridge 29 men's mountain bike.  This one was big enough to handle my weight.  It also had 29 inch really wide tires.  That was important to me as this bike wouldn't turn on it's side when I rode it.  This one, unlike the bikes my friends had when we were kids, actually had front shocks on it. 

Admittedly, I paid a little more than I should have for this particular used bike, but there was a reason.  They set this bike up.  If I bought a bike, I would have needed it set-up, and that would cost $50.  So it was well worth it to me that they already had it properly set-up by guys who knew what they were doing. 

So look at it this way.  If I bought a bike on Craigslist for $40, I would have needed a $50 set-up.  Then I most likely would have needed to buy a few parts to replace any broken or worn parts on the bike.  That would have ended up costing me more than I spent on the bike.  Also, the bikes I looked at weren't as big as the Roadmaster. 

I mean, look at the size of that tire.  It's big and wide. 

 
Also, the bike has 18 gears.  That's 15 more gears than I need.  I was used to a bike with three gears.  I asked Rick if he had any bikes with just three gears.  He said, they don't make mountain bikes with just three gears.  Seriously, look at all these gears.


Also, look at the actual gears.


That's a lot of frickin' gears.  Rick told me to put it in third gear on the one side, and use gears, 4,5, and 6 on the other.  In other words, I'll use three gears.  Once I got home I took it for a ride.  And you know what?  I did exactly like Rick said, and it worked out just fine. 

I'll admit, I hadn't been on a bike in 15 years, and hadn't exercised in .... okay it's been a bit.  So a trip around the neighborhood was more than a little bit interesting.  The good news is that I didn't run into any mailboxes or parked cars.  I did have to yell at a squirrel to get out of my way.  He waited until the last moment to do so.  Furry rat.

My back is paying the price.  It's been giving me trouble for the last few years, so the bumps on the trail felt like giant speed bumps.  But I will hop back on the bike.  The first day is always the roughest.  Unless, the second day is.  In which case I will take it easy, and then work hard on the third day. 

I'm glad I have a bike and all, but unlike those motorcycle guys, I will never have biker chicks fawning over me.  That is my only regret.  That, and all those carbs.