Category Archives: How-to

Honor System Yard Sale: Can You Trust Your Neighbors?

How honest are your neighbors? Jen and I were forced into relying on their integrity, and we were pleasantly surprised.

On July 4, we’d advertised a yard sale on Craigslist to get ready for our move to D.C. I was stationed conspicuously in a lawn chair, still in a hard cast and quite immobile. I was the best person for the job both because I couldn’t actually do anything besides collect money and also because I elicited a lot of sympathy purchases.

Then, Jen cut her right knee very deeply while trying to move a huge mirror downstairs to the sale table. (In a lapse of reason, we both thought it was a dreadfully bad idea that she was trying to move a 30 pound mirror that was nearly as tall as she was, yet didn’t vocalize it.)

We had to make a dash for the emergency clinic for stitches. At the same time, we had to get rid of our yard sale items one way or another. Jen wrote out a sign on a large piece of cardboard:

Clothes and Books 50 cents Each. All other items $1. Leave money in mailbox.

Jen surveys the Yard Sale Progress

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Travel like a gimp

Of all the things I’ve tried to do in the last several weeks, airport travel was one of the most difficult.  As mobile as I’ve become, I generally overestimate my ability to cover ground. It doesn’t sound like a long distance from the parking lot to check-in to the gate, and it didn’t even occur to me that I should check my bag.

Luckily, Andrew G. had more sense than me and dropped me off at the counter.

On the way home, I McGyver’ed a towing system and attached it to my belt. Ugly, but I got a ton of laughs as well as compliments on my ingenuity.

Pimp my crutches

Dropped by Atlanta Cycling today to visit the guys. The store was slammed and Mike, Matt, and Dave had their hands full. Nonetheless, I took a little time to custom tune my stock crutches.

Dave Campbell wrenching 
Trials rider extraordinaire Dave Campbell 

Trek Batcage, Hello Kitty Edition

Ding, ding. On your left.
Crucial bell. On your left…

Be seen at night. Red blinky.

Defeating retail price gougers

I’m dying to edit this video I shot over the weekend, but my new laptop doesn’t have a firewire port. I figured they might be expensive at ‘big box electronic store’ (name witheld to protect their good — actually best — name) but it was on the way home so I gave it a shot. I spoke to their ‘nerd squad’ person who was actually quite helpful and knowledgeable. He came back with a generic PC card that would’ve worked, but I would’ve also needed to buy a new cable because my camera has a different cable interface. Of course, they had a cable. The total: $60 for the card and $30 for the cable.

I knew the sales guy was knowledgeable when he clearly felt bad about telling me the total cost. But he’d been trained in retail; don’t solve the problem the best way, solve it with what you have on the shelf, and hopefully push accessories.

I might have bought that card for $30, because everyone and their mom manufactures pc components now. Good cards go for $60, and this wasn’t a good card, but at least their attempt was a little legit. But $30 for a cable? I’ve seen and owned a wide assortment of cables in my lifetime, and I can tell you that unless a cable is more than 50 feet long or is tethering an astronaut to the space shuttle, it isn’t worth 30 bucks.

When did every retail store on the planet start marking up all accessories 400%?  Most stores don’t even order small replacement parts, like light bulbs, springs, etc. Go to a watch store and they’ll tell you to buy a new watch band because they don’t want to sell you a 5 cent spring. Or, they’ll tell you they can only install the spring themselves for $7 because of “liability”. Stores don’t want to sell you small parts, they don’t want to stock them, and they don’t want to order them. And they do this in the name of better service.

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Day 2: On my own with a broken ankle

I thought I’d be fine on my own, once both Jen and my parents had left. I’m managing, but I grossly underestimated how hard it would be to take care of myself. I’m learning how difficult it must be for individuals with permanent disabilities to perform the same tasks we all take for granted. This world is really not designed with them in mind, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like in other countries that don’t ADA.

My parents and Jen did their best to help anticipate a lot of of the big recurring obstacles. I’m pretty much relegated to the couch, and to carry something back with me, I either have to hop/crutch and give up one hand, or throw the thing at the couch. The “throw” method works great with pillows or books and not so great with hot tea. My parents found some wheeled tables at the goodwill, and Jen tied a rope to it. I can push/drag stuff from one room to another with this.

My cart for transporting stuff from one room to another. 

The bathing dilemma I’d solved myself. I have a garbage bag over my cast, with a towel wrapped right under the opening and a band of surgical tubing to tie it shut.

Still, there’s a bunch of small tasks you never think about. I’m learning the basics — hopping, carrying stuff, balancing, — and my right leg is getting really strong. I’m actually a whiz with the crutches. I got the technique quickly, but now even my muscles have adapted. I use mostly core muscles — chest, lats, back — rather than arms, and I don’t fatigue easily.

It took me 40 minutes to prep the kitchen and make a salad yesterday. Next time I fill the cat’s water bowl, I’ll bring the water to the dish rather than hop with a full bowl. Cleaning up cat barf is another unpredictable event, and she’s not always considerate with her choice of locations.

All in all, yesterday was tough, and I was really grouchy. I cursed loudly and repeatedly and will be embarrassed when I next see the neighbors.

This past week, I was really bad about myself. I’m mostly confined indoors, I can only get up for short periods of time, and I’ve had people waiting on me hand and foot. I’m going to be like this for 2 more months, and I can’t (I thought at the time) even take care of myself.

What I’m learning is that I can take care of myself. Everything takes much, much longer, and you really have to learn to do everything all over again. But I’m getting much faster now that I have the basic learning curve. And it’s really, really satisfying now that I’m making some progress. So I can take care of myself, which is making me feel independent again.

The tough part continues to be restraining myself from doing too much and letting my leg heal.