Upgrading and jump-starting

‘Twas quite a busy weekend, all told.  We kicked things off with a great “Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling” class on Saturday morning.  I’m looking forward to teaching the full course (classroom plus on-bike sessions “Train Your Bike” and “Tour of St. Louis”) in May.

Thirty minutes before the end of the [highly computer dependent due to animations and video] class, our laptop conked out.  Fortunately, Matthew quickly got the onsite computer up and running so we could finish the course.

Coincidentally enough, our preplanned post-teaching errands involved a stop to pick up the new laptop we ordered earlier in the week.  We knew we were on borrowed time with [what is now] our old laptop, but we didn’t think we were cutting it quite that close!

The old guy dates to about this time of year in 2004, and nine years old is very old for a laptop.  Matthew’s been nursing it along for the last few years, but the time had clearly arrived.

So, I’m blogging from our new computer, which has a few to many bells and whistles, including the Windows 8, “I’m pretending to be a tablet,” operating system, but I’m getting used to that, and I certainly don’t mind the increased speed and reliability.

I’m not sure that we bought the “greenest” machine out there, but if we can go another nine years before upgrading, that in itself will go a long way toward lessening our “electronic stuff” footprint.

Speaking of things conking out, on Monday morning, after wrangling Gabriel into his car seat for the drive to Baba’s, I turned the key in the ignition only to hear a sad little clicking sound.  I sat there frustrated, waiting for help to arrive, watching the precious minutes of my one day a week that I have to myself tick away, annoyed to be so beholden to a stupid car.

While I am thankful, I suppose, to have the option of a motor vehicle to use as needed, I don’t like feeling helpless and stranded when the littlest thing goes wrong.  The most regular use of the car for us these days is traveling to/from my in-laws’ in the suburbs, and, while I’m thankful they’re relatively close, how I wish they were walkable or bikeable.  Oh, how I wish!

Anyway, I called my MIL (Gabriel’s Baba) and arranged to switch driving directions.  Matthew pushed the car to a spot on the street where she would have room to pull up in front of us so we could attempt to jump-start the car.  After a brief internet tutorial in hooking up jumper cables (I’m glad I know how to do it now), we connected the cars, turned the key in our ignition, and, voila!  A running car!

Our car has stupidly designed, easy to accidentally bump and turn on, reading lights under the rear view mirror, and, as it turns out, one of them had been on since we returned from our errands on Saturday afternoon.  After over 36 hours sitting, our battery was, understandably, dead as a doornail.

Since Matthew was running late by that point, and we needed to run the engine for awhile anyway, I dropped him off at work.  He was torn on skipping what was probably the nicest biking weather all week, but, for this trip, driving IS faster than biking.  Anyway, not the best way to start the week, but I’m thankful it wasn’t a bigger issue, and that we can make many of our trips by bike or on foot!

MP3 player — to buy or not to buy?

That is the question that I’ve been pondering for months.  Months turned into years, and I do not own an MP3 player.  Since I made it through all this pondering time without one, I obviously don’t NEED one.

So why am I considering purchasing an unnecessary THING in the first place?

I have the special inability to do anything other than sit and stare straight ahead when I am in any kind of moving vehicle, be it a car, bus, train, or airplane — no reading, no crossword puzzles, no movie watching — I can carry on a conversation, but I won’t turn my head to look at you while doing so.   That’s correct, my motion sickness is so sensitive that I can’t even read on airplanes.

Fortunately, I don’t spend much time on airplanes (as flying is almost always the least green transportation choice), but a flight in my future always brings up the MP3 player subject.  Now I’m about to make a trans-Atlantic journey, the longest flight of my life, and while I hope to spend a good chunk of that time sleeping, some form of entertainment might be nice, not to mention possibly having a calming effect on my unmedicated self.  (I usually take Dramamine when I fly, which I won’t be using this time due to the pregnancy.)

So what do I have against MP3 players?

An MP3 player is just another THING, engineered, like most things these days, for planned obsolescence.  Most articles tell you not to worry about the non-replaceable battery wearing out, because the battery will last 2-3 years, and by then, you’ll “need” a new player anyway.  Strangely, this reasoning fails to comfort me 😦

Aside from lengthy trips (of which I don’t take many), I don’t know that I would use an MP3 player all that much, which makes it hard to justify the purchase, both in terms of environmental impact and the impact on my wallet.

Well, writing thoughts down can be a great way to take a new look at an issue and find new solutions.  Now I see that maybe “buy” or “don’t buy” aren’t my only options here.  Since I want to use an MP3 player for a specified, finite period, borrowing one would be ideal.

Do you have an MP3 player you want to lend me for a couple of weeks?