And no, I still can't write a journal entry within a week of time.
Saturday was a gaming day. It's my Burning Wheel campaign, but the idea has always been to vary it up with other games that expand the overall world. So we started off with three sessions of Microscope over a few years time before getting into the regular Burning Wheel groove for almost ten sessions.
Then, this Saturday, I decided that I didn't want the stress of story prep intruding onto the holiday weekend, so I offered up the first of my interludes, a game of Kingdom. We learned about the Alchemist Guild deep in the past of Eligium. It went well. The roleplaying was more intense than usual, which caused some tension, and we were all pretty tired by the end. But it was an interesting game, and we definitely learned more about our history.
Sunday was a hiking day.
It began with my usual inability to find a sandwich in south Berkeley. I had found a sandwich-making place I hadn't found before called Tivoli Caffe. So I visited there to pick up a sandwich before I walked up the hill. But, they were closed for the whole Memorial Day weekend. So was Cheese & Stuff. IB Hoagies was closed and not opening until noon. Top Dog was closed. I finally ended up at Taco Bell again. Ah well.
Afterward I walked up Panoramic Hill to the fire trails, then up to the top of the hill. It was chilly and overcast, and I was literally walking up into the clouds. By the time I got to the top of the hills, I was in then.
I took a break at a bench on the Bay Area Ridgeline Trail, just over the top of the hill. It's got a beautiful view of the Siesta Valley Recreation Area, down to the teeny super-rich community of snobs in Wilder. I stopped there to write for a while, but that was about when the sun came out, and it soon became too bright to really read my computer. So I walked down through the EBMUD trails until I got to Orinda.
I'm always shocked by how short that walk is, from Berkeley to Orinda. About an hour and a half up the hill and about an hour and a half down the hill. I always think about walking the St. Stephens Trail on to Lafayette afterward, but Google Maps inevitably shows it as another hour, and I inevitably decide it's getting late and I get on the BART in Orinda instead.
So it was on Sunday.
Monday was hanging-out-with-Kimberly day.
Unfortunately, the Labor Day Salsa "block" party on the next block, which attracts huge crowds of people from Oakland to Richmond, and which results in hours of loud music shaking our house, has spread like a disease to also be a Memorial Day Salsa "block" party. So, we were definitely desirous of fleeing the house, but K. is too tired currently to want to go with far.
So, we waited until about noon and then headed out to grab some lunch (Taco Bell again!) and take it to campus.
Once there we ate, then read-aloud from Fool's Assassin, then did our own things for a while. (I had my computer, full of work, as usual.) Eventually some hellacious almost-inaudible buzzing noise settled onto the entire southeast side of campus, and we moved on.
There was then yogurt and drug stores and a haircut for me. Unfortunately, we still had a few hours of Salsa when we got home. K. and I both went to our offices to hide, but my office turned out to be not protected. It has windows on three sides of the house, and though the Salsa party was on the opposite side of the house from my office and windows, it still boomed through the room like a panel truck with its roll-up door flapping all around.
Monday was also the day we said farewell to our exercise bike.
Pretty much, Schwinn sucks. They manufacture crap.
More precisely, we got it a few years ago. It didn't work when we got it: the wheel had no resistance. So a repairman came out and fixed it and it worked. briefly.
Unfortunately for the next year, K. didn't really use it because she wasn't doing well and I didn't really use it because my doctor was keeping me off bikes.
So some 10 months or so after the repair, one of us sat down ... and found the wheel had no resistance.
Though the parts warranty hadn't expired, the labor warranty had, and Schwinn told us this was clearly labor, and so we were on our own.
But, it was an easy repair, they said, taking only a phillips screwdriver. The kind Schwinn liar even told us what pages in the manual to use to repair things.
So Sunday night we finally sat down to look at the instructions, which had been sitting around for a few months. And, they were horrible, and they had little to do with the bike we actually had. I fooled around with it for about an hour and came to the conclusion that a pedal wrench was actually needed to get things open.
We'd already decided that the bike's poor quality control meant that it wasn't worth bringing to Hawaii. Rather than having a non-functional bike in the house for a few years, we opted to drag it out on the street Monday afternoon with a free sign (and a clear statement of its condition and all the supposed "instructions" attached). Our theory was that we could at least benefit from the annoying Salsa party because there'd be people leaving and heading to their cars and one of them might pick up the non-functional bike and take it home.
Mark that as our last purchase ever from Schwinn, once a sign of quality, now a sign of horrible manufacture and poor customer service.
That wasn't our only experience with crappy companies over the weekend. The other was Jack Richeson & Co., Inc. K. bought a very nice easel from them, and we tried to set that up on Sunday night after our failure with the exercise bike.
The instructions were atrocious. Worse than 10 IKEA books. There were no illustrations of many of the parts and very minimal explanations of what to do.
But, we figured it out and did fine until we got to the last part ... which required a bolt that they had not included.
So K. sent them mail and requested our '2 1/4" bolt'. They sent back the requirement that we fill our a four-page warranty form and send it back along with a receipt and a declaration of where we'd purchased it, in order to get our $2 bolt.
I did so, but I wasn't very happy about it, and I very politely told them their ridiculous bureacratia made me think poorly of the company.
So the next day, one of the owners mailed me back and apologized, but also explained why it was really wonderful that they had a system where I had to fill out and scan four pages in order to get a 2 1/4" bolt. Nonetheless, I was mollified, especially when they said they were sending the bolt priority mail, to arrive on Friday, along with some nice paint brushes for K. as way of apology.
It's Friday. No bolt. No paint brushes.
Don't even get me started on the self-righteous asshats at Spamcop, who darkened my door late in the week.
Suffice to say: I've learned that they're now buying dead domains and reusing previously valid email addresses as spam traps. Which is all kinds of morally and possibly legally wrong. Their excuse is that the domains are really old, but if they think data on the internet has expiry dates, they're fools.
So, if you're not a spammer, and you ever find the need to sue Spamcop for defamation and/or prior restraint of trade, I'm your man. I now know where the bodies are buried because an arrogant Spamcop engineer explained to me what they're doing as he tried to bludgeon me into believing he was right and I was wrong.
(And this complaint will just have to serve as a substitute for exposé that I want to write but don't want to get involved with.)
My goal in any holiday weekend is to revitalize myself for the wear, tear, and work of everyday life. I quickly discovered that I failed, because my Tuesday or Wednesday I was at wit's end about a variety of problems.
But that was due to the problems (and the ongoing stressors in our life currently) as much as anything.
Maybe this weekend.
I just plotted out a really cool hike.