Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Knight and His Steed

Today I discovered yet another reason why Mayor Ford needs to stop his “war on bikes.” I know he feels the car is under attack, but I have to say cyclists are nicer than drivers. At least Chris, my new hero, is.

As I sped home tonight, I, King of the flat tire, got yet another, you guessed it, flat tire. I was at Queen’s Quay and Bathurst, much too far to walk home and unappealing distant from my usual flat tire repair destination, Mountain Equipment Co-op. After a few texts with IronMan, it was determined that Duke’s was also an option.

Either I hoofed it North and West or North and East but neither was eagerly anticipated. But move I must, so I started up Bathurst. I hadn’t gone 50 meters when someone asked what size I needed.

Clearly, this flat tire had thrown me off my game as I couldn’t think of one decent comeback to such an obvious volley. The young lanky blond lad asked if my tire was a 32 / 320 (or some such thing) and I had no idea what he was talking about. He set aside he bike and started to rummage in his backpack.

I then remembered that I did have a spare tube in my pannier sack. I had purchased it a few flats back with the idea that I would take a course, or at least watch a youtube video, on how to change a tire. Bike maintenance courses are offered for FREE at a couple places in the city and you’d think I would have done something by now. But you would be wrong.

Mother, you would be proud, I finally learned! Chris, my new hero, said today was the day I was going to learn something new. I was hoping for a more exciting rendezvous, but at least I know how to change a flat now. Flip went the bike, off came the wheel and out came the little plastic wedge thing you need to remove the tire.

He had me check the rim for glass, a nail or whatever (dodging what looked like a patch of dog poop) had caused the ‘pop’. He offered handy tips like partially inflating the tube before putting it on the rim but emphasized the importance of letting the air back out before putting the tire back in place. One wants to avoid a pinch. He didn’t actually say “one”, it just sounds better in my story.

I was on my way in less than 10 minutes, smiling all the way home. Scarlett was right after all, you can depend on the kindness of strangers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let me give you a hand

I have now given IronMan yet another reason to be leery asking the “what are we doing this weekend?” question. The answer of “stick your hand in this bucket of goo and don’t move it for 8 minutes” resulted in a doubtful, quizzical look. But as it wasn’t preceded by “do you mind?” he did as he was told and has now been immortalized in plaster! At least his hand has.

After reading about the joys of alginate powder, surprisingly hard to find in Toronto, I was overly excited to start make molds and castings of various body parts. Minds out of the gutter people ~ it is Halloween after all. The good people at Michael’s (the arts and crafts experts) didn’t even know what alginate was but were good enough to sell me a tub of plaster powder. And with my 40% off coupon, happily went on my way.

Sculpture Supply Canada, on the appropriately named Munster Ave, was discovered by IronMan with a few flicks and clicks of his iPhone and we were off to our next destination. Not only did I get the powder I needed, but if I ever want to make rubber masks of my friends (or enemies, less the straws up the nose for breathing) I know where to go.

If I may, I would like to share a couple tips. First, try not to curl your fingers back too much. If you do, put some slightly more watery plaster in the mold first and give it a good shake about. Otherwise you’ll get air pockets and could get the ends of your fingers cut off, and who wants that?

Tip two, if you plan on reusing the mold; keep your fingers relatively straight and closer together. That way, the mold will slip off the cast and you won’t have to cut it into so many pieces it will only be good for a single use.

Finally, for maximum casting size, put your hand, foot etc, deep into the alginate and just touch the bottom then retreat about half and inch.

A sanding of the base here, a bit of sandpaper there and a light coat of grey paint for added pallor and I will have 3 left hands and two right, what fun! I do recommend it as an activity for all.