Friday, November 25, 2016

Red Hot Chili Peppers – "Bicycle Song" (2006)

How could I forget to mention
The bicycle is a good invention

Instead of waking up in the middle of the night so I can get to the mall early for Black Friday, I sleep in on the day after Thanksgiving and then ride my bike to my office.

This year’s ride didn’t get off to a good start.  My almost-new bike computer – it’s really just a glorified speedometer/odometer – has had intermittent issues since I bought it.  When I saddled up and started pedaling this morning, the computer was dead.

Fortunately, I had parked at a Metro station that’s very close to the store where I bought my bike, so I took it there for a quick look-see.  It was only the THIRD time I had taken the bike in so they could fix the computer. 

The technician looked it over, did his thing, and told me everything was working.  And everything was working – for a couple of hours.  The computer functioned perfectly all the way to the McDonald’s where I traditionally stop for a mid-ride repast.  

This meal was certainly a big moment for me
But after finished I chowing down and got back on my bike, the computer was dead once more.  I called the bike store and gave them what for.  

I would tell you which bike store it was, but the reach and influence of 2 or 3 lines is yuge, and a negative review from me would result in the store’s losing most its business and being forced into  bankruptcy.  

I don’t want to be responsible for the store’s employees losing their jobs – especially not at this time of year – even though they are a bunch of clueless louts who can’t get my effing computer to work!

Speaking of McDonald’s, I saw something very odd there while I was filling the tank with a double cheeseburger.

At a nearby table, a well-dressed, normal-looking femme d’un certain age was assembling a very special lunch.  It appeared that she had bought a McChicken sandwich, a small side salad, and a couple of orders of Chicken McNuggets.  I think the Chicken McNuggets ended up on the sandwich’s whole-wheat bun, as did several lettuce leaves from the salad.  (She placed those lettuce leaves on the sandwich with infinite care – it took her forever to get her customized sandwich shipshape.)  

Plus she had a small bag of Utz potato chips, which I assume she brought from home.  (McDonald’s doesn’t sell potato chips.)

I figure she spent about $15 for that chicken sandwich.  Hey . . . it don’t make no never mind to me, right?

Here’s a picture of the lady:

I hope she enjoyed her lunch
I wanted to get a closer look at her lunch, but I thought would have been pushing it:

If you think that woman was crazy, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.

My last rest stop on my post-Thanksgiving ride is always in a park in Georgetown that fronts the Potomac River.  There’s a nice view of the river and Key Bridge, and it’s good place for hitting the water bottle one final time.

A view of the Potomac and Key Bridge
As I coasted to a stop, I noticed a thirty-something woman bent over at the edge of some shrubbery. She was holding a little girl in a very odd way: she had her hands under the thighs of the child, who was sitting up with her feet dangling above the ground.  It looked almost like the child was sitting on the seat of a playground swing, except that her mother’s arms were functioning as the swing’s seat.

I thought that maybe they were playing a game, or that the mother and child were doing some kind of odd exercise or gymnastic move.  Did you ever sit on the floor back-to-back with a friend and stand up by pushing hard against the friend’s back while the friend pushed back?  This mother and child didn’t look like they were doing that, but they could have been doing some other kind of trick.

After a second or two, I realized why the mother was holding her daughter in that fashion:

The mystery is solved
I don’t know what in the hell this mother was thinking.  We were in an exposed area of the park, with plenty of foot and bicycle traffic, and she and her little girl couldn’t have been more exposed – it wasn’t like they were crouching behind some greenery so that you couldn’t really see them.

I immediately averted my gaze, and found myself peering at an of scientific machinery, which turned out to be a “bubbler system” gauge used to monitor the height of the Potomac River.

Here’s the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) explanation of how a bubbler gauge works:

In a bubbler system, an orifice is attached securely below the water surface and connected to a pressure-sensing device by a length of plastic tubing.  Pressurized gas (usually nitrogen or air) is forced through the tubing and out the orifice.  Because the pressure in the tubing is a function of the depth of water above the orifice, a change in the water level of a stream or lake produces a corresponding change in the pressure in the tubing.  Pressure sensors, such as mechanical manometers or electronic pressure transducers, convert the pressure in the tubing into height of water above a set datum level referred to as gage height.  Graphic recorders, digital punch-tape recorders, or electronic data loggers record the gage height either continuously or at preset time intervals, usually 15 minutes.  Solar-recharged batteries power the electrical equipment. . . .

Gaging-station operation changed significantly in 1982 with the introduction of data-collection platforms (DCP's).  The DCP collects gage-height data and transmits it to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) that relays the data to a ground station and then to USGS offices for dissemination. 

A schematic diagram of a bubbler gauge
(Does the USGS really think that “gauge” is spelled g-a-g-e?)

It all seemed like an awfully complicated way of doing something very simple.  

A sign on the kiosk had instructions for anyone who wanted to know just how high the Potomac was.  Having some kind of digital readout that made that information instantly available to passers-by would have been too simple.  Instead, you were instructed to send a text to a government e-mail address along with an eight-digit code that identified your particular location.

I sent a text – don’t ask me why – and never got a response.  Why am I not surprised?

And why couldn’t the government have saved a lot of your money by installing something like this instead:

If it ain't broke, etc.
A simple stick with some numbers painted on it would work just fine, although it doesn’t come equipped with a satellite transmitter.

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“Bicycle Song” was a previously unreleased track that was added to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 2002 By the Way album when that album was made available for download from iTunes and other online retailers in 2006. 

Here’s “Bicycle Song”:

Click below to order the song from Amazon: 

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