Today was another one of those awesome days that makes me want to go out on the balcony and scream “It’s a wonderful life!” However, I don’t think my neighbors would agree with me, so I do my best to restrain myself.
So today, like every other week day, I run down to the bus stop. You have to run to make sure you catch the bus. I’ve seen them go by the stop as much as six minutes early. My suspicion is that the drivers get to take a break if they get to the metro station early. I didn’t run too hard today, but I got at the stop just as the bus was coming up to the previous stop. Yes, you can see one bus stop from the next. It’s apparently a state law that you have to have a bus stop every block. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is what I saw while I was on the bus.
I took advantage of the lovely predicted 60 degree weather today to ride my bicycle to the grocery store. Of course, the weather was more semi-lovely and 52 degrees, but nothing a third shirt couldn’t handle. While I was there a lady was all bent out of shape because they wanted her to pay 5 cents for each grocery bag.
Actually it’s three experiments.
The first experiment is a failed experiment. Sort of. Maybe more like a learning experiment. Last week I spent the whole week trying to code data about my life. It was a lot harder than I thought. It’s not that actually coding the data is very hard. The systems I have in place make that very easy. What’s hard is to remember to code the data. I was constantly getting somewhere and realizing I’d forgotten to log the trip, or zoning out on what I was doing and not noticing when the cat got off my lap, or forgetting something else I wanted to record. I don’t think this is really a death knell to the concept of quantifying myself, but it’s definitely going to require a rethink. The first rethink is that I should break it down into pieces (log the commute, log other travel, log evening activities, log mood, and so on). Then do them one at a time in the simple habit method. That will build me up until I’m recording everything. Given my other plans for habit formation, this means putting things off for a year or two. But hey, I’ve got another 38 left (or 108 if these guys are right).
As I may have mentioned, over the past two or three years I have gotten rid of 85% to 90% of the stuff I own. Why? I didn’t need it. It was bogging me down. It was getting in the way of things I wanted to do with my life. In the Habit Course I am taking, some people have started a habit of de-cluttering, and I have been sharing my experiences with getting rid of stuff to help them out.
A while back I was talking to some people at work about bicycling to work. I said there was no good way to do it for me, but one lady said you could get on one of the Rock Creek Park trails in Rockville. That leads to the Capital Crescent Trail which goes right behind our office building.
Earlier this week I finally got around to looking into it. I found a way to a south bound trail in Rock Creek Park from Shady Grove Road. Getting to Shady Grove Road from my place is a problem, though. You have to go down Oakmont, which has bad or no shoulders, no sidewalks, and lots of cars during rush hour.
But I figured I might as well give it a try. So I got on my bike and rode to Rock Creek Park. Oakmont was not fun. The should looks a lot worse from my bicycle than it does from the bus I ride in the morning. There were cars, driving slowly behind me or zipping by rather close, but only a few. It would be nerve wracking to have that going on the whole way down Oakmont every morning and every night (in the dark, no less). I did have some false starts along the way. I misread Needwood Road twice: once from Google Maps so I was looking for Needlewood Road, and once when I rode past what I thought was Norwood road. Then I rode past the entrance to Rock Creek Park thinking it was part of the Needwood Golf Club.
The killer was the trail itself. Hilly, which I can deal with, but with big chunky gravel that my bike can’t. My bike is a city bike. It’s not a racer, but neither is it a mountain bike. I was nervous going down that hill, and I don’t want to think about trying to get up it late at night without knobby tires. I am certainly not up to commuting on a path like that. I had to go east a ways to get to the trail itself, so I still had at least 15 miles to go.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. I got to do the first test of my Log Life application. The GPS is sucking, giving me 1,275 meter accuracy, but that’s not Log Life’s fault. I also screwed up starting it both times. I didn’t start it going to Rock Creek Park until I was halfway down Shady Grove Road, and I didn’t start it from Rock Creek Park until I was back on Needwood Road. Still, I did log 58 minutes of bicycling with it. Which is another killer. If it takes a half hour to get to the trail, I don’t want to think how long the rest of the commute is going to be.
As for the data, I keep thinking of things I could log. I think I will continue with just logging the movement and ideas for the next week or so. As I think of other things to log I will set them up in the application. Then when I am ready to move forward I can wipe the log and start fresh.
I bought 20 Powerball tickets yesterday at a convenience store I didn’t even get the name of. That took some effort. When I bought the Megamillions tickets I just walked in and bought them with no hesitation. This time, even though I was looking for a place to by lottery tickets, I saw the sign in the store and walked half a block past it. I had to force myself to turn around and go in the store to buy the tickets.
Today I bought $20 worth of scratchers at the grocery store, this time with no hesitation. Unfortunately, when I got home I only had $19 worth of scratchers. One must have come out of the pannier while I was riding my bicycle back from the grocery store. I wonder if anyone will find that lottery ticket, and what it’s worth. It might be worth quite a bit. I’m beginning to think this is all a scam. Okay, I’m beginning to think it is more of a scam than it appears to be. Out of $59 of lottery tickets, I have won nothing, nada, zip. Having a passing familiarity with probability, I was able to calculate the chance of not winning anything on that combination of lottery tickets: 5.4%. Pretty close to statistical significance, not that it means anything. I guess that ticket I lost was the one I was going to win with.
In any case, I am going to end this exercise. Not because I’m wasting money. That was, after all, the point. I am going to end it because I am not feeling the same emotional frisson that I get when I spend a significant amount of money on myself. I’m not sure if it is because $59 isn’t enough to trigger those feelings, or if it isn’t the money. Maybe it’s just the things I’m getting that are disturbing me.
So how do I explain the hesitation at one place but not the other two? I suspect it is a familiarity problem unrelated to the lottery tickets. The place where I got the first set of tickets I’ve been walking past five times a week for seven years. I used to go in there frequently because sometimes their soda prices are lower than anything I can get in the building where I work. (These days I buy my soda on a weekly basis from a Safeway ten minutes walk from where I work. Much cheaper.) Likewise, the grocery store I got the scratchers at I’ve been going to ever since I moved to my current residence. But I’d never been in the convenience store I went in yesterday. I have a well known aversion to new situations, and this fits the pattern.
Today was a much better day than yesterday. Even if I did waste it blogging, I felt like I got something done. Oy, this will be the sixth blog post of the day. I did want to at least do the pencils on my remake of the Peace T-Shirt, but I blew that off. After blowing it off I realized it isn’t really a train/bus project, so it will have to be evenings or weekends if it’s going to get done. And I want to get it done, because I’ve been holding off on doing some other t-shirts through Cafe Press until I get that one done (because it will be the hardest). I also completely spaced on doing my budget tracking for next month. Maybe it’s good to hold off on that, since I will need to do some significant work on the Python program I wrote last month to switch over to double entry bookkeeping.
I did make my first bicycle ride to the grocery store it not nice weather today. It was cold (mid 40s) and wet (but not raining). The watch cap worked well, or rather the helmet adjusted easily to account for it. I didn’t wear gloves, but I think if it gets any colder than tonight I will probably want to. The wet roads and sidewalks weren’t a problem, but the brakes didn’t like it, which confirms to me that I shouldn’t do this in real rain. I wore my black jeans because they are heavier and warmer, but then realized that black jeans with my black army jacket is not the best biking outfit. I don’t have anything besides the army jacket for cold weather, but next time wear one of the pairs of khaki jeans if I’m riding at night. I did remember the lights, and the panniers Kirk got me have reflective strips, so I don’t think I was in terrible danger.
While at the grocery store I finally remembered to look for lactaid, especially after having to pass on a smoothie on the way back from Charlottesville with Andrew and Liz. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any. I also tried to get some cash from the ATM, but I think I used the wrong pin.
Why cash from the ATM? It’s part of my plan for my 20th anniversary of quitting drugs at the end of the month. I saved $1,100 to get myself something special as a present. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything special. I am going to get a few odds and ends for myself, and I enrolled in an online habit formation course. One thing that is worrying me is that I can’t enjoy spending money. Since getting rid of most of my stuff, and in the process becoming much more frugal, I have not been able to enjoy anything I spend a significant amount of money on. I fell like I’m becoming a miserly tight wad like my Dad. That’s the last thing I want to be. So I decided to take the rest of the money I saved up and waste it. My only idea so far is lottery tickets. Maybe I’ll also rent a sports car like Mom did, and drive it around the beltway.
Well, time to pack in another day, so I can be well rested for a week that has the potential to be a real pain.