New mew


I gotta new job and a new blog.

Job: Since, according to the guy that tested me, I'm the best truck driver ever tested, I decided to go for the big money and school while I wait for an architectural job to appear.
Technically, I'm still a truck driver sometimes, but it's intermodal. That means I'll be dealing with railroads and trucks and computers. It took a week of training just to learn the computer workflow.

Blah blah... Bottom line: I'm home every day / evening, make a lot more money and can be in bands / take classes. But the shifts are like 5am-5pm with no official holidays (trains don't stop for Jesus).

New blog: Try This, It's Awful
Remember Beer Frame? No? Good, then you won't think this is derivative. Actually, Lucas' pamphlets were much more design / product-ridiculous oriented than my Jackass version of Guilty Displeasures.

First subject: Scrapple.
Future subjects: picking up hitchhikers, green tea Kit Kats, back waxing...

My list is long, though your suggestions are welcome.

You are welcome.

Robots work there.

Chicago is kinda boring, btw. But that'll change.

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Not Fixed

On the new transporter:

This is possibly the most un-hip bike with limited availability, because:

This Varsity reissue is only available at, wait for it....

Wal Mart...
Their mass distribution makes it cost less than the custom steel forks stolen off my neighbor's un-braked fixie. ($200!) As penance for my Wal sins, all supporting purchases (lights, lock, helmet) were bought at local, snobless** bike shops.

** I just bought a spare tire, two tubes and a helmet at a working-class Philly bike shop for $38! Yes, the helmet is used, but it's sweet and I found zero brain chunks inside it.

It's decidedly not a fixie. Outside of certain flat urban areas and velodromes, having only one gear is just a fashion statement. This bike has already been ridden in five hilly cities and mountain states, something that would've been unpleasant on a more-expensive hippeddler with a single gear and no brakes. Also, Wal Mart sells fixies. How cool is that?

Schwinns are now vaguely OK with the neon sunglasses crew but only in original, impractical iterations. Mine weighs one third the mass of my original, has really good Shimano hardware, and cost less than a poorly-restored original.

Just by pointing these things out, I realize I have become the worst kind of snob: a snob snob.


Meta Hipster Grandpa and the girl who would call him that if she read this post:

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If any of you are on Instagram, I'm Leightonic. I don't really do FaceBook anymore. Maybe later, when I'm 25 again.

So, it's been a year since a "freakout" (as not seen on TV or the Interwebs), which I mark with the purchase of my Fiat 500.

Personality crisis: not biblical so I won't complain. Others may. Have fun. I know I did.

I'm happily moved into Chicago. Though I still technically have a house and an apartment in Ypsilanti, MI.

I was engaged and still am. We just have to set another date, on a non-crazy schedule this time. Don't say anything is easy.

The Fiat, oddly, has been a stable goto symbol. I probably shouldn't have bought a new car. But not having a marriage, consistent place to live, bands, and local friends makes having a reliable thing to get you around a comfort in a blender. And it's taken me everywhere nicely: New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago (40x).

I'm still a reluctant trucker, despite my trying for six months to find suitable otherwork with benefits and using my architectural degree. After applying to over 100 places, I'm now starting to get interviews.

Tragic: Yesterday, two jobs fell through and my bike got stolen (my trashed Schwinn, but it was MY trashed Schwinn). Today: my medical benefits got cut off at my current job. I've been more healthy than ever (yoga, biking, eating not Burger King), but this is not good.

Spent way too much money on travel all over the US and moving to Chicago, so I'm in debt, but I'm also in love. These are worth the expense and time to please another.

I'm not in any bands now for the first time in over 20 years, which is odd in that it isn't odd. Bands were recently a source of stress that I had to slough off or die. Trucking has become the last stress. When I get a new job, I will get a new band... maybe.

I'm thinking Pissed Jeans meets The Haunted.
  • Current Music
    Copper - Shellac

No Fried

On week three of no fried food. It'd be week four if those meddling kids didn't serve me the "sweet potato pieces" that were actually lightly breaded orange nibs.

This is no easy task for someone of British / Manx heritage.
On the road, drinking water is dipped in panko flakes and dunked in the boiling fat rendered from the bodies of previous Denny's patrons.
Fried food here is as ubiquitous as Michael McDonald's voice on every god damned song recorded before 1986.

Thank the Dark Lord for cheap McDonald's oatmeal... Not Michael's.

Crepes don't count as fried, right?

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Dog Sledding Ice Sledging

The Fiat somehow transported Kara, me, and two back seats full of cold weather gear 270 icy kilometers north of Toronto to the snow kennel. (On Summer tires!)

It was about 15F, but the seasoned, undercoated pooches were lounging outside their shelters. These dogs are Winter machines, but they love affection from us and each other...usually.

After about two hours of terminology, sled, and knot training, we harnessed six racing dogs to a wood sled. This is half of our guide's pro racing team. Kris races twelve dogs in Canada and the States for modest purses.

Six was a handful. We couldn't imagine twelve on these tight trails, much less the Iditarod standard of sixteen!

These dogs are strong! Mushing is a physical test, because it sometimes takes all your strength standing on the brake to even slow the dogs, ...stopping them takes more. On a downhill, forget it. Down a mountain, you have to verbally dominate the dogs to get them to stop or you're wiping out, hanging on to a careening, tipped over sled for dear life. This happened more than once to us. It's scary but really exhilarating.

Sorry, more later...

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Where the Dogs live

Here's a video (only tolerably unshaken by my shivering hands) of 400 sled dogs. This looks vaguely like a slum or dog ghetto, but the dogs are really well prepped for sub zero weather and fed better than most house pets ( by a good margin). This is heaven to a husky / hound mix with a deep undercoat.

Jinny is a the star of this vid.

A still of the area:

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Hey y'all.

"Easy. Whoa." I've lived six years in the last six months.

Toured every inch of the country in The Meatmen and Chapstik.

Separated / divorced amicably.

Took up (slowly) a violent form of yoga. And started religiously riding my bike in every state.

Entered into a passionate relationship that neither partner expected, pointedly after being platonic roommates in 1988.

Moved twice. (Currently, I am technically homeless. It's planned fun. )

Took a sabbatical from above mentioned bands. Sold a lot of extra gear ( still have enough to form two bands though).

Bought a new car, breaking every automotive rule I have. Don't buy new. Don't buy a new model. Don't buy an unreliable brand. But the Fiat has been amazing so far.

Planned a wedding, move to Chicago, and a career change back to design from truck driving. (among other things).

The finale was a four day dogsledding trip in remote Canada in sub-zero temps. Actually a dream of mine that my new life partner set up on a whim. Unforgettable. As is my partner, Kara.

Details about all the dog fun later.

Hope all is well with all who read this.

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Fiat Update #2

Fiatupdate #2

(hooked in Portage, IN)

With less than 200 miles on the odo, my Fiat Cinquecento (pronounced "cinquecento") was placed on the hotseat to accomplish one task: get me to Chicago, fast, and without exploding or making me look gay.

Only the smart car is smaller, so I didn't expect a GT experience over the 260 miles of 94. At one point, the 500 got darty, following every groove in the pavement. But this may have more to do with the fact that I was traveling closer to 100mph than I should. The thing is coffin (bad word?) quiet at speed with little wind noise to indicate velocity. Cruise control deployed-> dartyness gone --> jail time averted.

Big difference between the Fiat and an Aveo, Fiesta, or a Mazda 2 is not smaller size but an Italian interior. Some of the TWENTY buttons on the steering wheel get accidentally pushed or have alien cryptographs indicating possible invasion initiation purposes, but otherwise this is functional fashion.

Let me say I say a word about Satellite Radio: dumb.

This thing is small, but it has one advantage over my Fiero: four seats. A friend's wife was the willing first victim of the 500's back seat. She's of average height and said she was fine back there, but I doubt a third or fourth disciple would willingly road trip in this thing, outside of a Catholic Penance ritual.

Parking Cinquecento in the Second City is promiscuous. You're always finding a slot that others have to refuse due to size issues. But I refused to do what even Europeans think is a dick move: parking perpendicular to the curb. The electric steering out of Sport mode is liquid light. Pinky parking happened a couple times. Wait, that may have looked gay.

I must go back this weekend and regain my manhood. More...

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Fiatcch: My Experience So Far with the New Fiat 500

The Saga of the first Fiat sold in the US since the 80's and the first new car I have ever bought:

Fiat 500 "Fiat Cinquecento" 1.4 Multiair, 5 speed (2,300 lbs). Behind it, my Kenworth T-600 (up to 80,000 lbs when loaded)

First, I looked at buying a LOT of other cars, mostly used: GTI, Rabbit, TDI VW's of any kind, BMW 3 series wagon, HHR SS Panel. Honda Civic SI and Fit. But the used market is very thin and expensive. The Fiat cost about the same new as any of these used with 50k + on the odo.

"Why the Hell would you buy a new model made by an Italian company known for unreliability, when your employer has contracts with 'Merican auto makers?"

Generally, it's a bad idea to buy a car that is just introduced. Kinks used to be worked out by unsuspecting guinea pig buyers. But today, Fiat is a huge international car company that does the standard barrage of pre-production testing. I'd been seeing 500's testing up and down 94 in Michigan for over a year before they were sold. Also, the 500 has been sold in other countries since 2007. Though the US engine is new, its tech is proven. Bonus, this engine is bigger than in the EU models and it's made 20 miles from me in Dundee, MI (so parts will be relatively local). Fiat now owns controlling stock in Chrysler, my bank loan says I bought a Chrysler 500. Dumbasses.

"So what's it like driving a death pod?"

This car is the second smallest you can buy in the US (behind the smart). But it feels big inside and has a high seating position. The HHR and and my Fiero induce much more claustrophobia. The Fiat has 7 air bags, a space cage, and the ability to get out of the way of about anything.

Ironically, driving it is a LOT like driving a Kenworth: you have to drive it close to its limits almost all the time. I love to shift, and the Fiat loves to be shifted, which is good because I'm shifting quickly and often to squirt the thing around. You have to do almost the exact same thing to get the semi up to speed and not piss everyone off in traffic.

What really sold me on the car was the interior. I've only put 400 miles on the thing and am about to take it to Chicago, so that post review will come later.