11 March 2014


Today was an absolutely beautiful warm and sunny, (but not hot), day.

I got off of work at noon, biked to Coast Guard Island to drop off a couple uniforms to get new patches sewn on to reflect my status as a certified search and rescue boat crew member and the promotion I should be getting some time soon.

This past weekend I caught up on all the little tasks I had to do around the apartment building (where I am superintendent in exchange for almost free rent), so I had most of a day free.

I had $1500 sitting in my safe in cash, failing to earn any interest, so I decided to make the most of the weather and deposit the cash as an excuse for a nice long skate.  See, I live in Oakland, and my Credit Union is in Richmond (about 14 miles away)

While I was at it, I used the opportunity to finally test out the replacement 18650 LiIon cells for the battery pack I made for my boombox (2 five-cell packs in parallel, attached directly to the outside of the stereo, plugged into the regular 120v port so it keeps the ipod charged at the same time)

By the time I got to Lake Merrit I started getting terrible shin splints.  This happened last time I was skating, but I thought (rationalized?) it was because of a detour over an unpaved road.  Guess I just get weak really fast in any muscle group I'm not using more or less constantly, and running, hiking, jump rope, just don't hit the tibialis anterior the way skating does.  I'm hoping the pain will fade into the background, like every time I run long distance, but it doesn't get any better, and I bail at MacArthur BART.

In the mean time though - man, you know, I always get the occasional stares, smiles, points, laughs, thumbs-up, and honks when I'm skating (often shirtless, often singing) with headphones on.  Typically at least one of those on any one long trip, sometimes a couple.
But when its a boombox, and not just headphones, and every one else can hear what I'm rockin, well, then the stares, smiles, points, laughs, thumbs-up, and honks are more like one every couple of blocks!
Plus, people start spontaneously dancing along as I pass.  I tried to move over to let a car pass, until I realized they weren't going slow trying to get around me, they were going slow because the passenger was taking a picture!


 So anyway, dressed, flat feet again, music silenced, on the train. 
Fast asleep, until the person next to me had to get off.  Hadn't even realized I was drifting off until I woke from a dream.  Well, I did start work this morning at 5:50am.  Two more stops, need to stay awake.  Uh oh, I'm waking up again.  I must have fallen asleep again.  Wonder how far we got - ah... that was the stop I wanted to get off at.  Oh well.  The next stop is probably closer anyway.  The train conductor repeats a speech about how the next stop is the last, and he's going to the yard next, so wake up, get off, don't leave anything behind, about 3 times.  I get up, go to wake someone who slept through the speech, the conductor comes out of his driving compartment, says to everyone that someone left something, I look and its my blinky light, fell off of my stereo.  Nice, would have lost it forever.

Richmond station is only 1/2 mile from my bank.
The security guard is amused. "So, that orange truck isn't the only way you get around"
"Its a nice day, I figured I'd get some exercise."
"Don't you not live around here?"
"You never fail to amaze me"

The teller can tell my bundle is $1500 just from looking at it.  She splits it into 3 equal piles to count, and is off by only one bill.  75 Jacksons leave my pocket, and fatten the number on my balance statement.

After my nap my shins feel totally normal, so I decide to see how far I can get heading back under my own power. 

The people on this end are just as amused as the people in Oakland.

But there is a loose wire somewhere in my battery pack, and the stereo keeps randomly shutting off.  Can't stand it anymore. 
Stop at a bus stop in Albany to see if I can find and fix it.  This is why I almost always have a swiss army knife on me.  You can't predict all the times you're gonna need it.

The break and/or short is alluding me.  Every connection seems fine.  But the stupid box won't turn on at all now.  I am getting increasingly frustrated.  I feel like physically I could go the whole way home, but I'll never make it without tunes for motivation.

Just then...
(and this is what inspired me to write this adventure in the first place)
Some random guy is walking by, pushing a shopping cart.  I wasn't really paying attention, but if I had, I'd probably have assumed he was homeless.  On closer inspection, it looked like maybe some  of what was in the cart was groceries, but it definitely looked like there was a blanket in there too.  Hard to say, it all happened so fast...
I'm looking at the wires
I'm aware that he is slowing down as he passes me, out of my peripheral vision that something is moving toward me
I'm glancing up, he is extending an arm, there is something in his hand

He hands me a juice box and a snack size bag of chips.
He never fully stops walking, he just slows down.
Doesn't say a word.
After I take them he goes back to his regular walking pace.

At first my expression was (I'm sure) pure confusion.  In a half second or two I realize its a gift, and I nod and smile.  My brain is too slow to speak, it takes another full second before I begin to say "Thank you", but he is already walking away, with no real sign of acknowledgement, and I don't know if I actually said the words out loud or not, and if I did, I have no idea if he heard me.

I was actually pretty thirsty, from all the skating on a nice sunny day.  The box juice was delicious.  The chips were sunchips, (which just happen to be my favorite kind of chips).  I should have eaten them first, because they were salty, but it was a treat none the less.

And then I discovered, accidentally, that the problem wasn't in the battery pack or the wires at all, it was in the end plug.  All I had to do was fold it at just the right angle, and it didn't turn off again for the entire rest of my trip.  I'll replace it soon.

When I got back to Lake Merrit, and around it, I felt so good I did an extra full loop around.  Coming the other way was a woman on quad skates, dancing to whatever was in her headphones.  I give her the two finger point, and she returns the gesture.  A special moment shared as we roll by in opposite directions, about 2 seconds and we are off on our own paths.
About halfway around a bicyclist started following me so he could hear the music more - 2 man bike party. 
And then I came to my street and turned off, couple more miles home.

23 and a half miles total, a little less than 4 hours all together.

I used to do stuff like this when I was 14.
20 years ago. 
In some ways I'm a lot more mature.  I drive safely, I am self-aware in emotional matters and am patient with other people's, I invest extra money, and I haven't quit a job in 8 years.
But at core I have never changed much. 
I most sincerely hope I'm still doing this in another 20 years.
If there is still such a thing as the internet then, I'll try to check in then and tell yall


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