Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Crisis of the Treacherous Tap

It is recommended to drink eight glasses of water per day. And after physical exercise, there is nothing like a glass of water to quench the thirst. We just go to the faucet, put a glass under it, fill it up with tap water and swig it down. After that, we rub our stomach, grin and make a satisfied "ah" noise. Our needs have been met.

But last night, I was informed that my needs will not be so easily met in the coming days. While I was working, I received two text messages saying "Don't drink the water! It's contaminated" At first, I felt alarmed, I had been drinking water all day. But, then I got bits and pieces of information regarding the crisis and learned no one had gotten sick yet, just the levels of contamination in the city's reservoir were higher than acceptable.

So, those living in west side Portland (that's me) get to play "third world country" for the next few days. Gone are the days of going to the faucet when we want water.

I promptly went out and bought precisely 24 bottles of water. Now, hear me this, bottled water I have always felt is a waste of money. You can just enjoy tap water and it fundamentally the same thing. However, today it isn't the same thing. I paid $4 for my water. Water should be free, shouldn't it?

I hopped in my car and drove home. When I got home, I parked about a half a block away from home and lugged my water home. I struggled opening doors, but I finally made it home. And, I only carried the water a mere half block.

I've been in situations where the water was not safe to drink, but that was never at home. I'm used to living in my sanitized world with clean drinking water. So, this is a bit unusual. However, not having water really isn't that bad. It's even mildly exciting (obviously my definition of excitement is pretty tame).

On the matter of clean water, I have this to declare, I'm extremely thankful for it. But even more than that I am extremely thankful for convenient water that requires no transport.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Grievances in Bicycle Ownership

I had a moment in my life when I considered myself vaguely hipster. Yes, it was one of those moments when I found myself living in a cool vintage apartment with over painted white walls and hardwood floor. Sigh, those days are gone. But, during this time, in order to validate my hipness, I had a bike to ride about town on. A Peugeot. The name meant nothing to me, as I am an American and that brand is not well-known here. Nonetheless, I talked it up and bragged.

I rode about town on this old contraption and was quite content with it for some time. But, all good things must come to an end. And this thing wanted to bring itself to an end. The thing just started falling apart. And, eventually the gears broke and it was stuck in the most difficult gear. The chain was rusty and it became very uncomfortable to ride. The only way one could ride comfortably on it was at a frightening speed of 80 miles per hour, otherwise it was too much a trial to the quadriceps.

I had someone comment on how they had seen me riding through Tienanmen Square (not the real name of the square I was in) and the I was just zooming by. "I think it was you," they said. It was me, we talked about the day and time they saw me and I was, in fact there. They probably saw a flash or orange and recognized my orange coat. Well, I really had no choice but to ride fast and shout to the masses "Save yourselves!" My bike only rode fast and it was not preferable, even for me.

Anyways, one day, I went on an evening bike ride with Friend around the lake. We decided to stop and put more air in the tires. So, I let the air out of the tires and lo and behold, the pump Friend had didn't work with this thing called a "bike." So there I was with a crappy bike, that was as complicated as a Soviet Union microwave oven--circa 1967. So, what did I do? In another moment of frustration with this bike, I tied the bike to a post and left it there. I wanted to hurl it into the river as my way of saying "thanks for nothing!" As, it was a source for frustration and argument. But I didn't, I somehow had enough self-control. As I walked away from that post, I felt a great burden lifted from me. I jumped with joy and mused at my new found freedom. I was so glad to be rid of that bike! I've often wondered if the bike is still locked to that post.

Okay, enough of resurrecting old stories from the past. We're in the present now. But, I have a bike again. Yes, I am the proud owner of an old sturdily built bike.

I'm rather excited about embarking on a new life with this bike, it's a ruthless yet feminine bicycle. It has a cute basket where I can put a salad, some nickels or a teddy bear. It has a mirror, so, if you're behind me, well, I'm watching you but you can't tell because I don't have to turn my head...(I plan on using this bike in my detective career).

And it's blue. Blue is a color of power and serenity--a both powerful and serene bicycle. (I'm not mentioning the mod sheepskin cover on the seat, the retro rain guards or the kitschy kickstand).

The only drawback to the bike is that fact that it does not have a cup holder or seat warmers. But, I suppose I'll manage, I've been through more unsettling experiences with other bikes.

But, with ownership comes responsibility. Am I responsible enough for a bike? My previous bike ownership history points directly at "No!" When I'm frustrated will I just lock the bike to post and forget about it forever? I hope not. But we don't really know what we will do in certain situations until we are actually in the situation, now do we?

(Please enjoy the photo taken from my brother's album of his trip to Japan in 2007. This is an authentic Japaense bike and a proper Japanese dog).