with darkness arriving earlier each day, i have to get a head start if i want to do anything during the daylight. after a simple ham and mustard sandwich for lunch, i motorcycled to belmont to do some work.

hailey was home alone. i let her out in the backyard, where she assumed her usual position underneath the trees guarding the house from squirrels. i had the bad luck of stepping on a pile of dog poop and spent some time scuffing my shoe on the lawn to clean up the mess. my first project was to clean up the garden tools. i sprayed everything with some WD40 then scrubbed away with a steel brush. i washed off the rust, then continued polishing with some steel wool. some tools cleaned better than others. tools that'd been sitting outside for many years were too rusted to clean in one sitting.

the second project was to clean up the spare bicycle. it's a woman's metallic purple huffy bicycle, but there's no logo other than a small "huffy" on the frame near the kickstand mount. it has a mountain bike style, with fat wheels and MTB grips. it has 18 speed composed of 3 chainrings and 6 cassette cogs (3x6=18). the bike has shimano's indexed shifting (SIS) which i like better than the vague numberless shifting on my regular bike. the bike seat is an avocet saddle, which i always thought was a promotional freebie from some drug company. turns out avocet is actually a legitimate bicycle equipment manufacturer. the seat is great, made from some elastomeric gel material. the only bad thing is the covering isn't waterproof.

i tightened the caliper brakes, degreased the gears, and removed a tiny bit of rust with a brass brush. since it's never really been ridden before, the bike is in pretty good shape. the only thing missing is a rear cargo rack. i gave the bike a test ride up and down the street. the thing i noticed right away were the squeaky brakes. i took off one of the brake shoes and saw that the rubber had completely hardened.

i left my money at home but fortunately my sister was home so i borrowed some cash from her. i went down to the wheelworks in waverly square to buy some replacement parts. a clerk recommended the serfas BP-10 brake shoes ($6.99/pair). i asked about bike racks. i told the guy it was for a bike with 24" wheels. he looked me quizzically, like maybe i was riding the wrong bicycle size. "oh, it's not for me, it's for my mother." but judging from his reaction, it's like bike racks don't come in sizes for 24" wheels or something.

returning to belmont, i replaced the brake pads. the old pads used simple nuts but these new ones required an allen wrench to install (not a problem, i had the proper wrench ready). taking the bike for another test ride, the new brakes worked like a charm, dead stops with no squeaks whatsoever. i locked the bike to the metal bannister of the front steps before leaving. i also left a spare bike helmet and a blinking rear night light.

i stopped off at the cafe briefly to pick up some frozen chinese dumplings.

in the evening my latest order from amazon.com finally arrived. included was my new belkin 12 outlet surge protector. the one i have in my bedroom/home office is a curtis 8 outlet surge protector. that one works fine but my only complaint is i'm still always unplugging things because 8 outlets just isn't enough to drive two desktop computers, a laser printer, speakers, lights, ethernet hub1, and a host of other peripherals. i'd been eyeing the belkin for a while, until last week i noticed there was a temporary price drop to $20, so i finally bought one. the only problem is the wall outlet is behind a large bookcase in my bedroom, and in order to reach the outlet, i basically had to remove everything from the shelves. so now my bedroom looks like a hoarder's nest, with stacks of books and papers and discs. i'll organize everything tomorrow.

the great thing about the belkin power strip is the placement of the outlets. the 6 outer outlets are for big plugs, while the 6 inner outlets are for the more traditional smaller plugs. i've done a lot of research and this is probably one of the better designed surge protectors. it even comes with a flat wall plug, which is fortunate for me, because i wouldn't be able to plug it flush behind the bookcase otherwise.

i also bought a bungee cord cargo net. i originally got it for securing a second helmet onto my motorcycle, but it can be used for a bunch of other things. in my never-ending quest to find the best bicycle repair book, i got the bicycle repair manual from DK. it's only 160 pages but the it's chock full of details and the cutout diagrams of how various bike components work is something i haven't seen in other handbooks/guides/manuals. finally, there's the new bike seat: the schwinn pillow top cruiser bicycle seat. i didn't have time to put it on the bicycle but i can't wait to try it out. i thought it'd be softer (especially something called the "pillow top"). it's definitely a bigger seat than what i'm using now, so hopefully my ass will appreciate the difference the next time i ride.

i had some leftover meatballs from last night for dinner along with some rice i cooked up. i finished out the evening with some castle on ABC.

1 previously i'd been using a dedicated ethernet hub, but it was only 10base-t. i decided to convert a spare wireless router into an ethernet hub instead. i turned off the wireless function and the DHCP server on a belkin router, so now i have a faster (100base-t) hub.