getting on my bicycle to visit the nearest ATM so i can get some cash, my ass still hurts from my ride into boston yesterday. i've been meaning to replace that hard bike seat for the longest time. i finally ordered one a few days ago, the schwinn pillow top cruiser bicycle seat. i like a seat with a big cushion. it comes with a weather-resistant lycra cover: i hope that means it's waterproof, because i don't want to be one of those guys who needs put a plastic bag over his seat so it doesn't it soaked in water whenever it rains.
the main branch of the cambridge public library (CPL) re-opened to the public this past sunday. it'd been closed since march 2005, relocated to a temporary space at the longfellow school a few blocks down the street. the longfellow library itself closed back in march of this year, in preparation for the transition to back to the newly renovated space. i hadn't been to the main library in years. in fact, i didn't even know it was closed until i went back to the library for the first time in ages last year.
as a kid, i used to be a library junkie. once i'd basically checked out every single book that interested me from the belmont public library, i moved on to the nearby suburbs, like lexington, arlington, and waltham. they were all under the minuteman system so i could just used my regular library card to take out books (you could also order books from different libraries for free, a service i used a few times as well). my insatiable appetite for books eventually led me to the cambridge library. back then, cambridge was under the boston public library system, which was different from minuteman. i still managed to check out books anyway because my father had a cambridge library card. the CPL was in this old stone building that felt like a dungeon. the aisles between stacks were cramped, the lighting was terrible, and i seem to recall the floors were metal platforms that you could look through and see the people below and above you.
the new cambridge public library is nothing like the old cambridge public library. it's bigger, it's modern, and the glass walls allow the maximum amount of sunlight to shine through. they still kept the old building though (it's historical anyway, so they couldn't just tear it down even if they wanted to), turned it into a reading room and a special library for teenagers (more on that later). the new library is awe-inspiring in its open-space architecture. i wanted to take some photos but decided against it, instead just letting it all soak in. the first first floor were banks of computers and desks, along with the new books aisle. i picked out a few books, and made by way to the 2nd floor, passing an intermediate A/V floor with a large collection of CD's and DVD's. the next floor was the general stacks, just aisles and aisles of books of all subject matters. the top floor was the children section, which i bypassed. i went back down to the first floor and walked into the newly renovated old space. there were long tables for studying and more computers with free internet access to anyone with a library card. here was also the teenage library, which seemed out of place, all lit-up like a futuristic fluorescent hair salon. there was also a basement i didn't realize which housed the fiction collection. there was self-service book checkouts, but i decided to go with a human instead.
the 2 books i took out were the book of swords by hank reinhardt, and the invisible kingdom by idan ben-barak. the sword book (non-fiction, although the title suggested some fantasy novel) has an absolutely ridiculous cover art showing the author in serious contemplation pose holding a sword in one hand and a phantom image of knights fighting in the background. that wasn't what sold me on the book however: it was actually chapter 4, "wounds and effects of the swords" that made me decide to give this book a serious look. the other book i got was about microbes.
are you like me? do you seem to attract weirdos wherever you go? i had another encounter while leaving the library. seemingly to come out from behind a bush, a large man wearing a fur hunting hat and wielding a heavy cane started talking to me. he was yammering away how the cambridge rindge & latin high school used to be the cambridge latin school before it merged with the rindge school 30 years ago. the old school - which used to be nearby - was torn down. i wasn't quite sure what he was telling me or why, and the fact that i seemed confused made him a little angry as he waved his cane around. i could also see the specks of spit flying out of his house, and i kept telling myself, "please don't spit on me, i don't want to catch hepatitis."
there's a lot of bicycle parking posts outside the library, and i was admiring some of the other milk crate baskets. that's my new obsession. i think i'm going to go around the neighborhood tomorrow and look for creative uses of milk crates. i never noticed it before, but bicyclists actually do a lot of customization to their bikes. most of it is practical, like adding lights or storage. even how people choose to lock their rides is interesting, from the different lock choices, to the various locking methods. i catch myself gawking at other people's bikes and i feel self-conscious because i don't want people thinking i'm trying to steal them.
coming back on oxford street, i swung by my community garden to clean up my plot: prune the raspberries, throw away the dead tomato stems, stack my vegetable cages, and re-attach my wire mesh trellis. will pulling out some vines, i got a bunch of very tiny splinters in my hands. i think they came from a wild cucumber plant. they were pretty painful and i only managed to remove most of them, with a few still embedded in my hands.
back at home (1:00), i had a tea egg for lunch before going out again. i visited park sales bike shop to get some degreaser. the clerk recommended a can of simple green bike cleaner/degreaser ($9.99). i liked the fact that it was non-toxic, biodegradable, non-corrosive, and non-flammable. it also wasn't a citrus-based degreaser (i've had just enough of that orange smell after all those coats of citristrip). my final stop was at market basket, where i picked up a few grocery items.
i brought my bicycle into the backyard to work on it. i sprayed it with the degreaser, which immediately foamed up, but then reduced back to a liquid after a few minutes. the direction said a simple scouring pad would take the grease off, but i ended up using a brass brush since my problem was a combination of grease and rust. i managed to bring the shine back out of my cassette, but the sprocket still looked beat. if i have time tomorrow i may want to remove the wheels completely to get better cleaning access at the bicycle parts. having worked on restoring those old mortise door locks, i want to bring a little of that restoration magic to the bicycle. i also really like to give my chains a good cleaning, but to remove them i'll need some equipment i don't currently have.
i watched pandorum (2009) tonight (download), starring dennis quaid and ben foster, about a pair of crew members prematurely awaken from hyperspace on a starship traveling to a colonize a new earth after the old earth is destroyed. "pandorum" refers to a deep sleep space sickness that involves paranoia, hallucinations and homicidal tendencies. they soon discover that the previous crew had been murdered and that there are creatures onboard the ship (hate. it. when. that. happens.). the premise sounds like your typical low-budget scifi flick but there's actually some very high production value in this movie (i even watched the cool ending credits). the creature angle is a bit played, but the eventual explanation is at least plausible. the ending was also a surprise (on an unusually hopeful note for a movie that takes place so much in darkness). dennis quaid is no stranger to genre, starring in a series of 80's scifi movies (dreamscape, enemy mine, inner space). i find ben foster to be an odd actor. his searing intensity is offset by his light-bulb shaped head. i like to see him in a movie where he doesn't look pained. watching the movie reminded me of playing doom 3, that sensation of wandering around corridors until you come across some monsters. i don't think it's a movie for everyone, but diehard scifi fans like myself will like it.
i had some french bread pizza for dinner while watching flashfoward and fringe.