I have the most overfunctioning alarm clock in the whole world. It does all of the following things, none of which am I making up.
It uses the atomic clock radio signal to get the time. I guess there’s an atomic clock somewhere (Boulder, CO, right?) and — as a public service provided by someone who thinks it’s very, very important for us to all keep our timepieces synchronized — the to-the-nanosecond-accurate time is broadcast via radio. My alarm clock uses this radio signal to tell what time it is. It’s very confidence-inspiring.
It knows both the inside and outside temperature. My clock came with a remote thermometer that can broadcast back to the clock. I have this thermometer taped to a fence in the backyard.
It projects the time and outside temperature onto the ceiling. The reason I actually bought this clock is because I like to know what time it is when I wake up in the middle of the night, without having to squint my near-sighted eyes. This clock projects the (accurate to one nanosecond) time and (nowhere near as accurate but close enough to give you a decent idea) outside temperature in 8″-tall letters onto the ceiling right above my head, where I can see them, no matter how bleary and unfocused my eyes are in the middle of the night.
I do not tell you this because I want you to envy my clock or to laugh at my geekiness (though I’m perfectly OK with you doing either). I tell you this because I am long-winded and needed a way to eventually get to the fact that lately, the numbers on my ceiling tell me it is between 5 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit when I wake up in the morning.
No way am I going to ride my bike to work in that kind of cold. In fact, for the first time ever, when I was riding the rollers yesterday (I’d be riding them again right now but am sitting in the SLC airport waiting for my flight to Newark) in the garage, I had to stop, get off the bike, and go put on a long sleeve jersey.
I repeat, it’s cold enough outside that I had to wear a long sleeve jersey while riding in the garage.
I furthermore repeat that I am not going to ride my bike to work in that kind of cold.
And, preemptively, I would like to congratulate those of you who bike commute in weather every bit as cold as — nay, much, much colder than! — this, and who are about to admonish me with righteous (because I would never call you “smug”), derisive comments. I shall read your comments and advice with both alacrity and slack-jawed awe. Please do not forget to offer advice on how it’s not that bad if I’d just layer properly
But I still won’t bike to work in this kind of cold. Sorry.
That said, I can hardly wait ’til the weather warms up just a little bit — enough for me to bike to work again — because I’ve got a really cool new pack to carry all my stuff to work in.
Oh, don’t try to tell me that when you get something new you don’t get excited to try it out for the first time. Buncha cynics, all of you.
Oh, by the way, I’m now in a plane and it’s evidently safe for me to use my portable electronics. And since the idea of watching the in-flight movie (some documentary about a girls’ high school basketball tournament, which leads me to ask: is Delta so strapped for cash that it can now only afford documentaries for in-flight movies? What’s next? Old Masterpiece Theatre episodes?). And since I evidently don’t get WiFi as part of this flight, I’ll post this when I get to my sister’s house in Brooklyn.
You know what I’d rather watch than a basketball documentary? Well, practically anything. But what I’d rather watch specifically is the GPS, weather, and map info they’re currently showing on the screens (while they spool up the DVD, I assume). Hey, we’re over Flaming Gorge National Park right now! I have many fond memories of rafting the rapids in Flaming Gorge.
Only 1760 miles to go!
OK, I will now get to the main point of today’s entry. I’d better; I’m down to 1/2 a battery charge, and then I’ll have to amuse myself with watching Season 2 of Northern Exposure (I ripped the DVD onto my iPod).
Wow. I seem completely unable to stop myself from rambling today.
Focus, Fatty! Focus!
There are many, many good things about being the Fat Cyclist. (I’m tempted to list them here, since rambling tangents seem to be the order of the day. But I’m going to show some self restraint and try to stay on point, at least for a moment.) Of all these good things, though, getting cool free stuff is the only thing that makes me do a little dance of ebullience. This dance varies both in length and intensity, depending on how cool the free thing is. For example, a water bottle that also happens to be a gel flask will result in a barely perceptible dance.
An ultra-cool new backpack carefully and thoughtfully crafted to address a need I actually have however, will bring on a dance that lasts hours.
For all you know, I may be dancing right this very moment. It’s also possible that the Air Marshall on this flight has just given me a final warning to sit down and shut up. I may very well choose to comply with this request.
So here’s the backpack. It is cavernous. The outside is super-tough ballistic nylon. It’s bombproof to the extent that if you fall off your bike, you should make every reasonable effort to land on the backpack.
The inside liner is a heavy-duty, rubberized vinyl, held in with velcro. So if you spill stuff (say a Gu explodes) in the pack, cleaning it will be a simple matter of pulling out the liner and hosing it out.
You can also see a pocket with a velcro strap and a zippered pocket, both of which are big enough to hold your wallet, phone, keys, and any other stuff you might want to be able to get to without digging around.
Inside The Pack
Ok, now let’s take a look at how much space you’ve got in this pack. In the picture below, you can see I’ve got my work computer — a good-sized laptop with a 15.5″ screen, not a miniature jobby — and a complete change of clothes: jeans, shirt, socks. I’ve got room for plenty more stuff, but the pack doesn’t feel huge when you’re wearing it. That’s the beauty of the simple design with this pack: by not dividing it into a bunch of weird compartments, the pack is able to hold a lot more, and a lot more easily.
The way you close the pack is another example of the brilliant simplicity of its design. You roll the top closed like you would a paper bag in a sack lunch (The vinyl and nylon are pre-creased to make it roll naturally in the right way). Then snap a buckle over the roll, and snap the main flap over the whole works, giving you a very secure and weatherproof pack for commuting.
The Banjo Brothers did a nice job of helping you stay visible on the road, too. They put a two dapper, reflective stripes down the back, and a little strap for you to clip your flashing LED onto (it’s on the bottom right, though my picture doesn’t show it well).
Note that you’ve also got a good-sized side pocket. The Banjo Brothers designed it to hold a U-lock or your cable lock. Nice. (I won’t be using that pocket for a lock, though — I keep my bike in my office. My plan is to use that pocket to hold a couple water bottles, allowing me to commute with my fixie more often this summer.)
Straps and the Back
The part of the pack that goes against your back are a cushy mesh (probably not the technical term). I’m guessing these are to help wick away all the sweat from your back, though I wouldn’t know if these work because — as I believe I’ve mentioned — it is way too cold for me to go biking outside right now.
The pack fits very comfortably, and has long adjustable straps. I can imagine that this pack might be too large for someone smaller than 5′0″, but I can’t imagine it being too small to fit even a really big person. It fits me — 5′8″ — just fine.
The shoulder straps are comfortably wide and padded, and there’s a chest strap that holds them together, so even when you’re rowing your handlebars on a hard uphill, you won’t have to worry about the pack sliding off your shoulders. It’s got an (easily removable) waist strap, too, letting you go totally nuts with the “secure fit” thing.
This is a great pack on its own merits, but the price — $80 — makes it deal-a-rific. So, is this a positive review? Yeah, I guess you could say it’s a positive review.
Nice work, Banjo Brothers!
PS: How stoked do you think James — the winner of one of these very packs from last week’s contest – is now? I’m going to guess that he’s quite stoked indeed.