Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biking decisions - looking for a beginning adult bike

So my husband loves to bike. Seeing him do it and hearing how much fun he has makes me want to try biking. I have visions of our family biking around. This means I need a bike. The problem: I never biked much as a child or youth and I'm terrified of falling over. (My balance isn't great.) So I'm trying to find a bike that I can get on and off easily and put both feet on the ground. I want to use it to ride around with my husband and kids and potentially pull a bike trailer with the younger ones in it.

Use the mountain bike I have
cost: $35
  • cheap, I already own it
  • It's a decent bike
  • not the right size
  • bad memories
  • saddle hurts
I got this bike at a yard sale a few years ago for $35. It needs a different saddle and the frame is a little too big for me. I've fallen over trying to get off this bike, so I'm a little worried about riding it again.

Get a cheap beach cruiser / hybrid
cost: $75 - 250
  • can get a step through frame to make getting on and off easier
  • If I don't end up liking riding a bike, I'm not out a lot of money
  • probably will be steel frame so heavy and rusts easily
  • you get what you pay for
  • A lot of beach cruisers are single speed
A hybrid or a beach cruiser seem like what I am looking for, the step through would make it easy for me to get off without falling over. The cheaper bikes (like at wal-mart) tend to be heavier because they are made of steel.

Get a nicer beach cruiser / hybrid
cost: $350 - 600
  • Step through makes it easy to get on and off
  • some have forward pedals that let me put my feet down on the ground without having to have the seat to low.
  • expensive, especially since I don't know if I'll use the bike

cost: $75 - 200 (depends)
  • very simple mechanically. if I got one from wal-mart there isn't much that could go wrong
  • towing is harder without multiple gears
cost: $100- 200
  • more gear choices
  • many have automatic shifters so that the chances of the chain coming off the derailers is slim. Also, I wouldn't have to be moving to change gears
  • more speeds make towing easier
(same as 3 except the shifters aren't internal)

cost: $175 - $600
  • best for towing
  • more complicated for me because gears make no sense
  • chance of chain slipping or jumping

  • stops, but not great for towing
hand breaks
  • stops the bike
Where to get the bike:
  • cheap
  • bikes assembled for you
  • easy returns
  • quality issues
  • better "bang for buck"
  • have to assemble it yourself
  • returns would be a pain
bike store
  • usually better customer service
  • knowledgeable customer service
  • can help you choose
  • more expensive prices (bikes start around $350)
  • can get a good deal
  • have to know enough about bikes to tell if the bike is in good shape
  • no returns

I think what I want is an inexpensive 3 speed bike with hand breaks and step through aluminum frame. I'll probably get it online or from wallmart. My husband is good at bikes and can help me assemble a bike. I want a bike that will need less twiddling, so a three speed would probably be a good match. Since I don't know what I like in bikes, an inexpensive one would let me discover everything I hated about it so when I bought a new, I would know what to look for. Also, I could ride my husband's old mountain bike if I needed more gears.

(update 9/22/10)
I ended up getting a 21 speed Forge Athena from Target.  It was a pain to get set up, but it seems to be a good bike.

Is the new hotmail creepy?

Recently hotmail updated its interface.  I'm still trying to decide if it is creepy or useful.  What it does is look through your email and show you updates from facebook and other social networking sites and also shipping notices.  It's actually very useful.  I'm just not sure I like being reminded that my email isn't private. 

iPod touch 4 review

My background: I wanted a new device to check email, play media and entertain children. My current device is a Nokia n800, but I've also owned a Dell axim and a Sony clie. This is the first apple product I've owned. I wanted to replace my n800 because it was slower and unable to play newer media content. I was also interested in something with a large developer base and wide support.

Why I chose an iPod touch 4th generation 32 gig:
-it wasn't a phone. I am quite happy with my prepaid phone.
-it has a large developer base and plenty of apps
-large amount of children's content, plus controls so nothing bad gets downloaded
-kindle books
-netflix streaming
-beautiful screen

Things I dislike:
-interface not totally intuitive. I could figure 80% on my own, but for the rest...thank goodness for google.
-blogger really doesn't work well
-some free kids apps have ads
-it's a pain to close apps (not as bad as the Dell axim though)
(note: this is how far I got typing on my ipod touch.  After this, the blogger web interface just wouldn't work correctly, so now I'm on a desk top.  I'll use email next time.)
- plugging the charger cable in is a little weird because of the beveling around the screen

Other thoughts:
-mis-touches aren't as common as I had worried
-wifi connects very quickly
-I'm glad I got 32 gig, 8 gig would have been way too small (5 gigs of music, plus a few videos and audio books and apps)
-kids love my ipod, I have to fight them for it
-no flash hasn't been a serious issue so far

Update 10/17/10: I still love my ipod touch.  Games are hard on the battery life, but just web browsing and reading ebooks, it seems to hold a charge for a day or two.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Baby basics

Here's the basics of what you need for a new baby.

for the baby:

1. onsies

2. sleep and plays

3. crib and set of sheets / somewhere for the baby to sleep

4. diapers (1 package size nb and the rest size 1) and wipes

5. bottle (you'll get formula in the diaper bag from the hospital)

6. rocking chair (I recommend a recliner so you can sleep in it too if you have to)

7. light receiving blankets

8. burp cloths

9. place to change the baby (can just be towel on the floor)

10. car seat (can't leave the hospital without one)

11. heavier blanket (for traveling to and from car)

12. front pack / baby bjorn / sling so you can carry the baby and still get stuff done

13. nail clippers

14. swing or baby bouncer so you can set the baby down during the day

15. hat (will probably get one from the hospital)

for you:

  1. (optional) breast pump in case the baby won't eat and you need some relief or so you have extra milk
  2. maxipads
  3. witch hazel pads
  4. iboprophen (sp?)
  5. fan / heater/ white noise generator so the baby isn't so loud when you are trying to sleep and someone else has him

that should cover you for a while