Archive for July, 2007

Scooter mileage report

Posing on the Fly

So, my Fly is T.’s favorite color. No, no, he didn’t go riding on it — I’m a bit too risk averse for that sort of thing.

And, with that, it’s that time again — time for the scooter MPG report. And this time I’ve got good news; gas consumption is down. My mileage isn’t as good as what this guy claims he’s getting, but I’m happy to see it getting better nonetheless. Possible reasons for the up-tick? I did some long rides that weren’t commutes — less stop-and-go traffic equals better mileage, I assume. And, of course, I’m getting further into the break-in period for the engine.

The gritty details: My odometer read 232 when I pulled up to the pump, and I’d gone 78 miles since my last fill-up. I put in 1.53 gallons of gas at $3.619/gallon at the Valencia 76. That means I got a whopping 50.98 miles per gallon, up from 44.74 last fill-up. It also means I’m spending about $.07 a mile for gas.

That economy is good, because scooters do cost money. Today I paid $400 for the extended warranty (from 1 to 3 years), and K. and I have both signed up for the California motorcycle safety class at $235 each. And, of course, there’s the helmet, and the jackets, and the gloves … Still, all of this stuff together plus the scooter still hasn’t cost more than I got from the insurance company for my Volvo (R.I.P.).

A special Austinite visits

Pit stop: Swenson’s

This weekend, T., my LIttle Brother from Austin, came up and spent the weekend with us. We had 12-year-old energy carrying us through the weekend, and it was a hoot to see the city from his eyes. He took this picture himself; it’s a self-portrait with Swenson’s ice cream. He’s pretty good with a camera, and he took a lot of pictures! I just dropped him off at the airport a bit ago. I decided to take the afternoon off today, and it’s a good thing, too, because I could really use a nap!

On the couch

So, I’m feeling a little shy about this, but I’m also somehow compelled to post it. A friend passed along our wedding story to another friend who is a journalist, and K. and I have ended up in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday magazine, in a feature called “On the Couch.” It’s a series of pieces on the love stories of normal folks like us. Click here to see it. See, the dogs aren’t the only ones who can get some press.

Now I have to go out and buy 10 copies of the paper.

Scooter MPG update

I know my subscribers out there (and, yes, there are subscribers) have been waiting breathlessly for my next scooter MPG update. Well, wait no longer, because I filled up yesterday.

At my last fill-up, my odometer was at 80; this time, I’m up to 154, so I went 74 miles between fill-ups. I put 1.654 gallons in the tank, so this time around I got 44.74 miles per gallon. It’s consistent, basically, with the gas mileage I got last time around.

The price of gas at the Valencia 76 station was $3.619 per gallon, and I spent a total of $5.99. At this MPG, I’m spending about eight cents a mile.

I do expect to get better and better gas mileage as the engine breaks in; the break-in period is, I believe 600 to 700 miles. I am optimistic! I just read an article about this here.

Nobody likes a flood

Above is a picture of Bartlesville, OK, on taken on Monday, July 2 (not mine, borrowed via Flickr). I arrived for my cousin’s wedding there on Thursday, July 5, and by Friday most of the water in town had receded. We parked in the parking lot right by the antique store you see in the picture on Friday night to go to the Solo Club. No visible water then, but it was very, very stinky. Really stinky. Floods suck. (But the wedding went off without a hitch!)

Yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated. I took off from work a teeny bit early and K. and I met at Osento for some relaxing hot-tubbing and massage, and then went out for a fabulous dinner at Kokkari. It was awesome. Incidentally, it was January the 11th when we arrived San Francisco. Time to change the blog name again — we’ve been here for six months now.

And, now for something completely different. Today I went to the post office to mail something. I went directly to the fancy postage vending machine where you can weigh your packages and pay with a credit card. And as I’m standing there, using this enormous stamp machine, which is located inside a post office, a hipster-type guy walks up to me and says, “Excuse me, do you know where the nearest post office is? I need to buy some stamps.”

The pups get press

So, I’m a San Francisco Chronicle subscriber — yeah, really. And today, I grabbed the Thursday edition to read on the plane. Between Oakland and Phoenix I read an article about how great it was to watch fireworks on the Fourth from the top of Bernal Hill in our ‘hood; something we’d considered but then wimped out on, since I had to pack and we were tired and not ready to be cold. Then, toward the end of the story, I saw that even if we didn’t make it, our dogs did, with Michelle, who comes by and walks them on Wednesdays and Fridays:

Michelle Shields was walking three dogs, who answered to Tex, Haylee and Xochi when they chose to answer, which wasn’t often. She said dogs are wonderful — better than presidents, even.

“I think dogs ought to run the country,” she said. “This country is in a real mess and I don’t think things are going to change until men learn to love and embrace each other. Dogs can help. They understand love.”

At the moment, what Tex seemed to understand best was a hot dog a passer-by was eating. He waited with big eyes, hoping for the best.

LOL; I can tell they were well behaved as always. You can find the whole story here.

The Rocket’s Red Glare

No Parking during the parade

We spent the Fourth of July in Half Moon Bay, mostly; we spent the night before at the San Benito House, to which I’m sure we’ll return. We got up the next morning and strolled around town, watched the parade, and had a lovely lunch at Pasta Moon — great salads there. Then we walked to the beach and enjoyed the ocean … with a lot of other people. It was packed, and quite festive! In the afternoon we headed back to town via Oakland afternoon where we stopped and enjoyed a backyard barbecue, then went home at a reaasonable hour so I could pack for my trip to Oklahoma tonight.

We could see the fireworks at Pier 39 from our back deck — we could also see lots of fireworks everywhere, people shooting them of in the streets and off roofs. Big Roman candles and that sort of thing. The explosions continued well after midnight, consistently. Luckily, our Sound Soother allowed me to sleep through it with no problems.

Happy Birthday to me!

Lanikai LCD-C Concert Uke

July is my birthday month, and the first day of my birthday month seemed like as good a day as any to buy myself a present, so now I’ve got a Lanikai custom series LCD-C concert-size ukulele. Of course, I took a bunch of pictures.

I mentioned that I was attempting to learn the uke a few posts ago, and it’s not like I’ve become a great player or anything between then and now, but I decided it was time to upgrade from my $30 uke because I was having some pain in my thumb, I think from having to press so hard on the uke’s neck to play chords without buzzing.

So, since a friend of K.’s has loaned us her car while she’s out of town, and K. is out of town too, I drove out to the East Bay this afternoon and test drove ukuleles. I had heard lots of good things about the Flukes and Fleas and I thought maybe that was the way I wanted to go, but it turns out I didn’t really like the way they sounded all that much. I also tried a K-Wave Les Paul style uke, but I wasn’t impressed with the sound enough to get me past the fact that it weighed a ton, more than other ukes with pickups I tried. I even played a Lanikai 6-string tenor uke, which had a nice deep tone, and was very neat sounding, but not exactly what I was looking for right now.

There were two serious finalists: The Kiwaya KS-5, which I played at the 5th String (a very nice place even though I didn’t buy there), and the Lanikai, which I found at The Thin Man. I was pushed over the edge by the price (the Lanikai was at the top of my price range, and the Kiwaya was a little bit above the top) and the prettiness of the LCD-C. I’m also interested in trying the concert size, just to mix things up.

I actually was very intrigued by a vintage 30s-Era Royal Hawaiian Hotel-branded soprano uke at The Thin Man; it had an awesome loud sound, but I felt like it might be too fragile for my ungraceful paws.

So, now I have the lovely Lanikai uke, which sounds great when I play “Amazing Grace” on it, my least hesitant number. I also got a bargain on a hard-sided case for it, and I optimistically bought a book on fingerpicking, thinking perhaps I’ll try to move past simply strumming.

Don’t get me wrong — I won’t toss my little cheapo uke. It will be a fine traveler, and it sounds pretty good especially since I put good strings on it. Yeah, I still have the distressed uke I found on the street, and new strings helped it too … but maybe not enough.

So, that’s my first birthday present. I’m also buying myself a nice new yellow motorcycle helmet, although I think maybe I’ll lump that in with scooter-related necessities in my budget and not call it a birthday present. Although it’s pretty neat, too.

My uke skills aren’t quite ready for prime time yet, so I’ve got no recordings to share. But if you want to see what’s cool about the ukulele to me, here’s a pretty entertaining example: