Monday, July 31, 2017

It's Starting To Be Fun Again

It has been over 20 years since I last rode a bicycle and it has been about 3 years since the husband and I planned to get bicycles. For our 8th year wedding anniversary, instead of getting the traditional present made out of bronze or pottery, I thought the wheels of the bicycle could easily represent the number 8 but we wanted super low maintenance bicycles. We found two bicycle companies: Dynamic Bicycles based in the UK which uses a drive shaft system and Priority Bicycles based in New York City which uses a Gates Carbon Drive belt system and the NuVinci Infinity Shift Gear Hub, which is perfect for the hilly terrain of Colorado Springs. We were leaning towards Dynamic Bicycles but when we sent an email inquiry to both companies, Priority Bicycles responded within 2 hours (at that time, it was after their normal office hours) and when I replied back, they responded within 2 minutes. Let us just say that I was delighted with the customer service. So I looked up reviews and YouTube videos and it looks like it was easy to assemble the bicycle, practically zero maintenance on it and if the belt skips or the brakes need to be adjusted, it was pretty easy to fix/adjust them yourself and doesn't require a lot of time or expertise either and the bicycle ships with all the tools you will need. It took me awhile to decide between the Priority Coast in pink (of course) and the Priority Glide. The Glide won because of the NuVinci Infinity Shift Gear Hub, so I ordered that and I received it on June 12, 2017. I assembled it myself in about 50 minutes. My husband's Priority Continuum Onyx bicycle was on back order (that's how popular it is). 

The next day, I rode it around my neighborhood and fell onto the sidewalk and skinned my knees. My knees were bruised and swollen and it hurt, a lot. Two weeks later, I rode my bike again on June 30 and fell onto the sidewalk again and my knees were skinned, bruised and swollen again. I obviously need to re-learn how to balance, ride properly and brake properly. 

On July 3, my husband and his aunt helped me overcome my increasing nervousness around cycling and his aunt coached me on what I need to practice and work on. His aunt's husband gave us a really good suggestion to have me practice riding my bike at a baseball field that has a dirt in-field so it would be softer to land on then gradually move on to the asphalt vacant parking lot. That next weekend, my husband took me to his elementary school to practice. My husband also lowered the seat and handlebar to fit my size/reach better. The seat is a tad lower than normal but I haven't fallen off my bike since then so now it's starting to be fun again. I can't wait to get more strength in my legs so my husband and I can run errands riding our bicycles instead of driving our cars especially if the store is around our neighborhood like the grocery store. 

On July 24, my husband's Priority Continuum Onyx bicycle finally arrived after UPS botched the delivery (this is the 3rd time UPS botched various deliveries to our house) and we assembled it in about an hour and 10 minutes because of the extra front light and cable, front fender and rear light and it fits him just fine. We were worried about the inseam measurements for the bike as the bike's measurements was higher by 0.25 inches and we were worried it might be too tall for my husband but it turned out fine. I have to say, the Onyx looks gorgeous! But I love the fact that my Glide came with the water bottle cage. Wished the Onyx came with the water bottle cage too.

My Priority Glide Bicycle
image copyright by Priority Bicycles

My Husband's Priority Continuum Onyx Bicycle
image copyright by Priority Bicycles

On the writing side of things, I've finally finished chapter 5 of Helena and the Dragon, the third book in the Helena Meets Magic series at 20k+ words. I do need to kick it up a notch and write faster if I want to finish this book by October 2017. 

In the world of crochet, I unfortunately ran out of yarn for my Patons Kroy Socks Toe Up Socks and I think its a little too tight when I tried it on so I'm going to reach out to the resident sock expert at the Sock It To Me Ravelry forum to see if the tightness is normal or do I need to frog it. Wish me luck!

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 
  • Destroyer of Worlds (ARKANE, #8) by J.F. Penn

Currently Writing

  • Chapter 6 of Helena and the Dragon - my computer screen aversion for writing drafts seems to have dissipated (for now). But I still have that notepad and pencil on hand in the event that I feel the urge to write with pencil and paper rather than type on a keyboard. I'm going to free write and brain dump using pencil and paper then switch to my MacBook Air to continue writing the first draft and see how that technique goes as I do want to be as efficient as possible when it comes to completing the first draft. 

Currently Crocheting

  • Patons Kroy Socks Toe Up Socks - Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn for the heel part. I finally tried it on but it doesn't seem to fit. It's too tight and only half of my foot could fit into the sock. I did manage to fit my foot all the way in but found that I need to frog it and work additional rows because the heel opening was quite off. Lesson learned, no matter what the pattern says, always try it on for size. I will get this eventually.

Product Reviews


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

[Book Review] Growth And Change Are Highly Overrated by Tom Starita

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Paperback Edition, 279 pages
Genre: Fiction, Humor & Satire

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated is a classic coming-of-age story that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear—having to grow up and abandon our dreams.

For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancee Jackie for years until she finally decides she's had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, "That Store." How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility?

He casually steals…

In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, 'Victor the Dictator'? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is "growing up" just another way of saying "selling out?"

Part 2: Recommendation

The narrative is written in a 1st person POV from Lucas James' perspective who is very self-centered, narcissistic, a liar and a jerk. I honestly don't like him but I agreed to read and review this book when the author Tom Starita submitted a book review request because the description did say, it's a coming-of-age story and other reviews said it's hilarious.

Sad to say, for me at least, the only hilarious scene throughout this entire book was the scene where a 75-lb rolling island unit was being hauled up to the 3rd floor by Lucas James on p.11. That was it. The only scene I found hilarious and real life laughed out loud.

The line, "First you write the hit song, then you die. Never reversed" on p. 13 reminded me of Chester Bennington, Linkin Park's lead singer committing suicide on 7/20/2017.

The line, "There is nothing more maddening than losing potentially great lines to the ethers of your mind" on p. 15 does ring a bell and has some truth to it. 

Lucas James is big on procrastination when he said, "Any task, any goal, any dream you wish to accomplish but failed to do so today, has the opportunity for redemption the next time the sun rises. My faith in tomorrow was ultimately not shared by Jackie" on p. 16 made me cringe because what if there is no tomorrow for you? Then you would've wasted today doing nothing when you could've easily done something towards accomplishing your task/goal/dream, etc. I agree with Jackie on this one.

Just no to the scene where Lucas takes his 5-year-old nephew to a strip club for lunch and no to the scene where he pretended to have gotten hit by a teacher. No matter how "immature" or "irresponsible" or "rebellious" a person is, these two scenes should never have happened. 

And the line, “Never propose at a dive bar” on p. 153 really?! It's more like never use a ring you stole to propose to your girlfriend. Ever.

The line where he admits to being a dick, “If you are a dick you have jerk tendencies, plain and simple. You are selfish and don't take the feelings of others into consideration when you do whatever it is you want to do. At the same time, people still like you. You're most likely funny and/or attractive, which dulls a person’s animosity towards you. People enjoy being around you because they think you're interesting or quirky. They also try to live vicariously through you, because you are the person who says what they are thinking. When a dick walks into the room you can feel the energy shift. People feel better, smiles appear on faces, and all is right with the world. When the dick leaves the room, the collective mood deflates, and depression is normally the end result” on p. 176 is the exact opposite for me. I don't get fooled by the charm. I feel super relieved when said dick leaves the room.

I hate this line on p.179 “Punch in, do as little work as possible, punch out.” I've worked with people with this kind of work ethic and it's stressful. So I'm really not liking Lucas James at all, nor do I find his antics funny. I also did not appreciate the lack of any legal consequences to Lucas James' stealing. An innocent person gets the hit for it, which is not fair and definitely sends out the wrong message. I believe that books should teach the readers important life lessons and this book failed miserably on this point.

Finally, something I can agree with: “So live the life you want to live. Take chances and accept the likelihood of failure. Because whether you succeed or fail… your name and all you did or did not do will disappear into the sands of time.”

Overall, the paper quality is good and the formatting and writing style is very good. I know that this book was independently published and each page costs something to print but how I wished that this book did not start abruptly on Chapter 1. What I mean was, the lack of a copyright page and maybe a list of other books the author wrote in the front matter section and an author bio in the back matter section after the acknowledgments. It would be nice to have those two things as I do read those sections as well. 

As for the plot and pacing of the story… it reads like a memoir and relatively paced. There's nothing exciting (for me at least) to entice the reader to keep reading. I had to put the book down several times and debate whether to file it under my DNF (Did-Not-Finish) shelf or continue reading. Every time I put the book down because I was getting annoyed at Lucas James, I had to take deep breaths and remind myself that the sooner I finish reading this book the sooner I can get back to my other, more favorable books in my Currently-Reading shelf. I also had to remind myself that this is a coming-of-age story so that means, Lucas James learns something, changes or grows up from his experience by the end of the book. I have to say that I was mad when I reached the end because Lucas James did not learn anything at all. He did not grow as a person/character. He did not become a better person. He was the same old piece of shit that he started with. Not cool to claim this book as a coming-of-age story without the character developing into a better person. 

A better coming-of-age story would be Jackie's story. At least she learned something and she got out of a financially and emotionally abusive relationship and now, she's with a better person who appreciates her and will always put her first. Now, who do I recommend this book for? If you are a very responsible person who gets emotional, skip this book because Lucas James will incite every negative emotion you have. If you like reading books that makes you feel negative emotions, or has unlikeable characters or you get a kick by reading about lazy, self-centered, narcissistic characters, then by all means, pick up a copy.