Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Domino effect

I could have had lunch with the guys, today. Instead, I'm sitting here waiting for my darling wife to pick me up for lunch she may never show.

You see, while I was away in Santa Maria last week, I got a call at 11 PM one evening. I startled awake in a strange place, stumbled out of bed searching for my ringing cell phone in the dark running into every piece of furniture in the room. When I finally laid hands on the cell phone, tethered by its charger cord, I pulled the lamp off onto the floor and missed the call.

When I was finally able to focus my eyes, the cell phone display read, Missed call from Jenny.

So, I called back and got Christopher. He was in Pullman.

Dad, I borrowed April's car to drive to Pullman, he dove right in, and on the way out of town I stopped to get a coffee. (This must be significant.) "At the stop light, my foot slipped off the brake and I bumped into the back of a Mercedes.

"Now, their insurance company is calling and they want me or you to call them back."

(This conversation did wonders for my ability to obtain a good night's sleep.)

I told Chris I'd call him the following day. And I did!

At 7:00 AM, sharp, I returned the favor and rolled him out of bed with a cell phone call. I told him not to contact the other driver's insurance agent, but, rather, to call our agent, give him the details, and let him handle it.

What, you ask, does this story have to do with the fact that I'm sitting here waiting for Jenny?

We had a lunch date. She called me shortly before noon to tell me she had to take April's car downtown to have pictures taken and would stop by the office on her way home so we could get some lunch. Three minutes later, I got an invite to go to lunch with the guys.

I called Jenny right back to release myself from our failing lunch date. I got Christopher. In Pullman. Again.

Seems he got himself in some financial difficulties at the end of last semester and hasn't yet earned enough money to pay off his cell phone bill. After months nay, years of pleading, the kids all have cell phones, why can't I have one? I got Jenny her very own cell phone. And to what end? It goes to which ever baby bear can't make their own payments and I still can't ever get in touch with my wife.

Just think, if it hadn't been for that damn cup of coffee Chris had to have last week, I'd be having lunch with Jenny or the guys at least not sitting here writing this and you wouldn't be wasting time reading it. Talk about a domino effect…

Disclaimer: The facts in this article should not be considered facts. They should be considered hearsay and stirred with poetic license. They should not be considered suitable for admission as evidence, should, say, a claim of injury resulting from described bump into Mercedes be made. Which it has. Apparently. …another domino falls.

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Assault Charges

Last night on the way home from work, a car load of punks passed screaming insults and throwing coins or beer caps something metal bounced off my left hip and went ringing down the pavement.

Jenny was right behind me in the car. She and I had spent the evening riding on the Centennial Trail. I had ridden up the hill to the office to retrieve my pack. She met me there, took my pack, and was headed home.

While in the left turn lane from south-bound Pines to east-bound Broadway, I heard shouts somewhere behind me. The shouts got louder when I turned my head to my right to see if someone in the car to my immediate right was trying to speak to me. I never did hear what they said, but Jenny had her windows down and heard the work bike. So, she was already in defensive mode.

Just after the turn, the punks passed, threw some projectile, quite accurately, but with no ill effects, and headed down Broadway. Jenny pulled along side and I told here to get their license plate number.

She caught up with them right away and took down their number. I almost caught them at the next light, McDonald; it turned green just as I arrived.

I did catch them at the following light, Evergreen.

The young punk in the passengers seat got a bit wide eyed when I pulled along side. I'm sure he didn't expect to be caught by a old fat guy on a bicycle.

Words were exchanged, the light turned green, and, as they pulled away, another coin or bottle cap was hurled my way a miss.

Having a license plate number, descriptions of the car and passenger, I called Crime Check as soon as I got home. The operator informed me she would need to send an officer to take the report in person since the incident would be considered an assault.

A report was filed. Now, we'll see what comes of it. The officer who took the report was completely humorless. If I said he was rude, I might be mistaken, but not by much. Perhaps it is the required demeanor of law enforcement I don't know. His parting words were less than encouraging, though:

This will go the the detectives. They might follow up on it.


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Santa Maria

I spent last week at a client's site in Santa Maria. The bike went with me. Several years ago, I made a similar trip with the bike and had some great evening rides. It was long enough ago that I couldn't remember the routes I had taken.

Monday, just before closing, I stopped by Main Street Cycles where I found a very friendly and helpful young man tending the store. He provided me with some route advice and one of the best cycling maps I've ever seen. The map is available free of charge. A description and details are available online: Bicycling in Santa Barbara County.

I was able to get in three evening rides:

  • Betteravia Road east to Telephone Road, south to Clark, then back through town to the Santa Maria Inn where I stayed.
  • West on 166 to the beach, and back.
  • Southwest on Black almost to the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base and back.

The weather was great! Spokane was experiencing near record highs while I was away, so highs in the upper seventies were very welcomed.

Santa Maria has plenty of bike lanes and I was quite comfortable riding there. The bike lanes were much, much cleaner than here in the Spokane Valley where I reside not free of debris, by any means, but ridable.

However, I only saw two other cyclists in my 70 miles of riding there. And I was warned by a few non-cyclists that the area isn't very bicycle friendly despite the bike lanes and maps. Fortunately, I didn't have any negative experiences to validate their assertions. I look forward to my next trip to Santa Maria.

The one truly frustrating experience on the trip was getting the bike checked as baggage. First, it cost $100, round trip. The extra charge for transporting a bicycle is outrageous, but that's a dead horse issue I won't beat.

The real problem is new heightened security. I have an Iron Case for packing my bike for travel. I take a lot of care when packing the bike to ensure nothing gets broken, bent, scratched, etc. I pack the bike, tools, grease and chain lube and a few rags.

Coming and going, the TSA had to open and inspect contents of the bike case. I was allowed to stand by and answer questions, but I was not allowed to touch. So, the contents were shuffled and repacked far less optimally than I liked. Fortunately, no damage resulted, but it was a concern.

In Spokane, on the way out, they confiscated my chain lube, perhaps 1/2 ounce of White Lightning. The bottle says flammable, so it is obviously an inherent danger to the passengers. Of course, I'll bet it is no more flammable than those mini bottles of booze they store in the galley. But why argue. The TSA agents just follow the rules as illogical as they are.

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