For Those About to Rock

One of the major lifestye changes that I’m going through is that I no longer have a buspass.  It’s the first time since high school that I rely solely on a bicycle for means of transportation, excluding the time I spent in Korea.  The ride to work might be just 15 minutes, but my workplace is on the eastern border of downtown.  The real shopping is deeper into the center of downtown, while Chinatown, the St-Denis area, and the Old Montreal area, where I spend a fair amount of time, is more to the west end, putting the travel time at about 30 minutes.   It adds up, and I always need some extra calories in the tank to get through my day.

Although I save about 70$ per month not needing to pay for a buspass, I’m sure I’m spending more than 70$ on additional food per month.  It’s kinda changed my physiology too, I suppose in  a good way.  Know how I was complaining before that too much of my exercise was weekend weighted, with Numac on Fridays and RsM on Saturdays?  Well, with cycling being a daily thing now, my diet and activity is much more regular.  I’ve gained some weight, which I thought wasn’t really possible– my median weight is now about 158lbs, with a flux of +/- 2 pounds.  It’s still all mostly lean weight, but it’s taking some getting used to to feeling this heavy on a regular basis.

I was almost seriously injured a couple of days ago when I was westbound on ReneLevesque.  It was pouring rain, so visibility was poor, but I think mostly what happened was that the car was relying too much on seeing car headlights rather than checking for a cyclist with a headlamp.  He was in opposite flowing traffic to me, and had come to a full stop.  Then suddenly he decided to turn left to beat the rest of the yellowlight buzzer beaters who were some distance behind me in lane who were going straight.  Unfortunately he didn’t see me at all and if I’d continued at my pedaling speed, he would have t-boned me on my bike and I’m sure I would’ve been a dead man, if not because of the impact, but beacuse after I’d be thrown onto the street I’d probably get hit by somebody else.

I jammed on my brakes by reflex and things just worked out for me.  I ride a fixie, that is to say, a road bike with a fixed gear.  That means, only one gear.  I have a reverse-pedal brake (no handbrakes) so when I want to slow down, I have to backpedal.  Sufficient force locks the back wheel entirely.  Well, I did exactly that– locked the back wheel and to my horror, I started waterskiing throught he intersection for several meters.  It was crazy because at first, my rear wheel fishtailed to the right, with my front wheel still spinning, but thankfully it corrected itself since I kept my heading straight. I fishtailed left, and I strained to heek my wheel aimed forward.

The thing is, from personal experience, trying to turn is probably one of the worst things that you can do while on a road.  If you turn too quickly, you’ll take a dive.  In my current situation, even managing a turn under those road conditions, a turn to my right would have put him directly in front of him and make me a target no less significant a target because my line would still intersect his, and a turn to the left might put me in the path of cars behind me trying to burn the yellow, which I had no idea how close they were.

My only good option, which wasn’t a good option at all, was to slow down straight, and brace for impact.  I have rear lights on me (no headlights) so hopefully if I t-boned the car or flew over his trunk, a driver behind me would notice that my lights were suddenly flying through the air or something.

It just so happened that I managed to slow just enough to miss his trunk, and the moments I was clear, I started pedaling like a madman to make sure I didn’t get rearended.

The thing is, as I was saying… this kind of situation doesn’t really scare me anymore. I mean, it does. But like… it’s not nearly as big as it probably should be.  About the only thing I got from it is another story to talk about over dinner.  No epiphanies, except that I should invest in some bright headlight.

I don’t know if it’s because of hospital work, or just biking the way I do all the time, but the whole situation probably has me a lot more blase than I probably should be.  I got over the whole situation pretty fast.

I read once that “a man without fear is a man with nothing to lose,” or that “fear is not something we want to eliminate, because the second we do, we can die.” 

Where do I stand in all that?  I’m afraid to die old, incapacitated and slowly… but that doesn’t mean I want to die young.  I don’t need much to live, but does that mean I have nothing to live for? 

I went home yesterday to visit my parents and overal, I had a really good time.  It’s strange in one way that was highlighted during my visit today– visiting my parents is now ‘an event’ and not just a regular occurence– and it’s definitely something I have to get used to after living at home for so many years, or living so far that I could never actually visit them, and just taking it for granted.  We had a barbecue out back, which is one of those things that my mom likes to do.  It’s always been a specialty of hers that, try as I might, I can never get the right ratios of spices going to really make a steak, porkchop or chickenwing taste as good as hers.

It’s kinda tough to get to LaSalle from NDG via road bike. I’ve tried two routes and both of them have really shitty roads that are hard to navigate with my tires, and I wouldn’t want to even try them at night in low visibility.  The potholes in St-Jacques are inches deep, and on the highway to cross over the train tracks to Angirnon, there’s tons of loose gravel.  I’m going to try a different route next time I go.

When I got to my place, my mom was on MSN having a video chat with my sister in Toronto.  Turns out that my sis got a job that she wanted in Montreal, so she’s going to be coming back at the end of the month.  My parents are pretty excited about this and, understandably, they’re doing everything in their power to bring their daughter home.

I’m not sure yet what’s the total impact of me leaving home, but so far it looks like my parents have mellowed out a lot and are finding a lot more time for their own hobbies. At the same time I also find that they’re taking a renewed interest in my life.  They’re trying to stay connected I guess, and I like that feeling I suppose.  They’ve never really been interested in the things I do except insofar as I might volunteer the tidbits of information.  The first tihng that happened when I got home though was that my dad took my bike into the garage and decided that we’d do a little inspection and tune up, since I don’t have a garage nor tools at my new apartment.

All the recent rain in Montreal and the dirt on the Maisoneuve underpass which I frequent almost daily has really washed out all the grease and gunked up my chain.  I flipped my bike upside down, and he held it steady as, link by link, I dabbed a bit of oil in.  He handed me a cloth.  “You don’t need to be cheap, just use as much as you need and wipe off the excess.”

“When you drive one, you start noticing that everyone’s got one,” said Nick, from Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.

Not that I have kids, but I can’t help but  notice children all around me nowadays, especially since part of my commute to work goes through Westmount Park.  I see a kid, I judge their age, I evaluate if they’re in good health, I notice if their parents are in a mode of smiley lovey or IAMSOTIRED mode.

I see a kid, 4 years old wearing a shapeless fishing hat and barely able to stand up on her feet, being curiously appraised by a ragtag trio of two seaguls and a pigeon.  I’m not sure who wanted to eat who more, but it looked like quite the standoff.

The weather in Montreal has been crazy lately– bouncing between torrential thunderstorms to blazing suns, sometimes in the span of a few hours.  I like to see that when the rain comes down, everyone dissapears, and only moments after it ebbs away, people are back on the streets, doing their thing– nothing stops a Montrealer on their day off, they’ll rock on rain or shine, and I salute them.

Recent Media:

Push (Hollywood, I don’t know any of the actors except for Dakota Fanning): I really liked this movie.  Although while in Korea it was advertised as a ‘superhero’ sort of movie, it turned feeling more like oldschool sci-fi.  It was much better than Jumper.
Practical Magic (Hollywood, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman): Decent “90s Movie,” the kinda movie that you watch when you’ve got nothign better to do.  It doesn’t dissapoint.
Office Space (Hollywood?): It wasn’t all that great overal but it is a staple for anyone who works in an office.  I loved the scene where they go to town mafia style on the fax machine out back.
P.T.U. / Police Tactical Unit (Hong Kong): Man, for a movie that’s got like 2 or 3 sequels, this movie REALLY sucked balls.  Don’t even bother.  It’s got a fair number of big name actors in it, but the movie was overdramatic, had poor action, and a shitty storyline with an overbearing soundtrack.  This movie was just painful to watch.
L.O.V.E 2009 (Mandarin):  I do love a good romance flick, but LOVE is a bit beyond my tolerance.  It’s actually a bunch of several short stories which I suppose are all clever, but watching them leaves you hurting inside afterwards because it’s all a bit too realistic for my tastes.
Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (Hollywood): I really liked this, mostly because all the characters are really believable.  Characters are awkward, annoying, frustrating, racist, etc in ways that your own friends might be, and the movie has this sense of aimlessness dialectic with purpose that I find runs parallel to real life.  This is the best movie I’ve seen in the past few weeks, along with Push (but for different reasons.)
Wushu / The Next Geneartion (Mandarin, with Sammo Hung): I don’t like how Sammo is filling in all these old-man-washout roles nowadays, and this movie is no different.  I guess he’s not the main actor but it’s pedaled as one of his movies.  I think I have a bias though– if I was ten years younger and just starting out martial arts, I would’ve loved thsi movie the way that I unfairly have an unreasonable devotion to Once Upon a Time In China movies because it’s basically a martial arts bildungsroman.  However, even as far as wuxia style movies go, this one isn’t as polished as I’d like to see in a movie with heavy hitters like Sammo Hung– the young actors might be able to do the moves, but they’re unable to convince me that the hits have any weight to them.
Red Cliff 2 (Mandarin): Another heavy hitter movie– I feel that this movie should be an FMV to Dynasty Warriors and not a movie on it’s own.  It definately has it’s share of big name actors, but it really feels more like a simplified picture book that you’d use to teach the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story to children in a simplified way than the spic film that it’s pumped up to be.  I think John Woo should stick to pistols.
The Proposal (Hollywood): This movie was simply great and has some of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a movie in a long time.  They could have done more with some areas, but overal, it’s still a movie that’s going to be above your expectations.