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Mom's old bike

Something I decided to do today was to find and take a look at mom's old bike.

When we came over here in 2002, mom bought us both matching bikes. Well, almost. Hers was the girly version. They were chunky bikes, "mountain bike" style, with fifteen gears (three at the pedal, and five at the wheel), although high gear rear in low gear front and low gear rear in high gear front weren't really to be used due to the more extreme angle of the chain, so say thirteen gears in reality.

When we first came out, we rode around a lot. We did a fairly long distance journey (for us) up into town, through the forest, towards a different route, through the forest again along a different road, and back via a very hilly road. It was 20 kilometres and took us maybe three or so hours. Upon mom telling a penfriend about this, his reply (it turns out he was a hardcore cyclist) was basically "wimp, I could do that in half an hour". Asshole.

Given that mom was hitting retirement age at the time, I guess she figured "why am I busting myself doing this?". That's not to say that older people can't or shouldn't ride, but, you know, if you aren't enjoying it...
So, well, we did a long journey, it wore us both out, and I think that might have been the last bike ride we took together.
Certainly, I rode a lot less as of around 2006 or so when I found that it really started to hurt a certain part of my anatomy. No, not that bit, the other bit. Then, after becoming employed in 2008, I pretty much neither had time nor energy.
For me, it became a lot of taking the bin up and bringing it back.

Sometime in 2020 during one of the bin trips (that I didn't do in Felicity), one of the spokes on my back wheel broke. Maybe you can buy replacement spokes? I don't know. I just thought that if one goes, the rest ought to be considered "worn".

Mom's bike, therefore, had lain unused in the shed for at least a decade and a half. Not directly exposed to the elements, but not particularly sheltered from them either.

Having found the bike, I brought it around front.

Mom's bicycle
Mom's bicycle.

Clearly, it has seen better days.

Just a spot of rust
Just a spot of rust.

The first thing I did was wash the bike with a hose and an old cloth. Get off all the spider's webs, gunge, and that green slime that turns up on damp things.

In order to keep the cats quiet, I offered them some food. Some food that was 97% salmon, trout, and duck. That'll be why the two squares of food cost as much as a larger sized box of Felix.

A few minutes of silence
A few minutes of silence.

I turned the bike upside down and got two pairs of pliers and went and bent every part of the chain back and forth until it moved more freely. Some of the chain sections were rusted solid, so this took a while.
Similar TLC was given to the cables for the gear selections.

God, or whatever, decided to help out and chucked down some rain for about three minutes. I noticed that the cats, who make their displeasure known should any spray from watering the garden venture in their general direction, didn't budge away from the food.

A bit of turning the pedal by hand, it seemed like the chain was able to go through the mechanism alright. So I turned it back the right way around and tried riding it.

The chain was a little bit jumpy, as if it was slipping every so often, but it pretty much worked.

Riding the bike
Riding the bike.

When I came back, I noticed that the cats had switched plates. Grass is greener, eh, guys?

I did a bit more testing and while Wawa cringed and hid every time the bike passed, Anna was chasing me like a demented puppy whilst giving a non-stop running commentary. So, up and down the front I went. Give that noisy little pile of fur some exercise.

Oh... wow... Okay. I'm sitting inside with the tablet and keyboard on the little blue table. I'm by the door and the door is open to let the fresh air (and a ton of bugs :-/) in. A tiny little wren just flew in, sat on the top of the tablet, looked at me, realised "oh crap it's a human" and bolted back out the door.

Back to the scheduled story. As I was exercising the puppy cat, I swerved off and headed across the field (Western Wildness) towards their stable. Oh, that got Wawa's attention.
Back in their stable, a little extra treat.

Lemme at it!
Wawa doesn't have the hang of food sticks at all and just sort of messily slurps the thing. She'd swallow it whole if I let her. Instead, I wait until she closes her mouth around a piece before bending it back against the chicken wire to snap a piece off.
Anna, on the other hand, grips it with her paw and shoves it into the side of her mouth. A bite and a yank and she's swallowed a chunk. Interestingly, she frequently changes sides as if wanting to use both sides of her mouth. Either that or she's showing off doing something Wawa just can't grok.

I have put the bike back around where I keep Caoimhe. I think I'll give it a couple of days to dry off, and then go around the chain and gears with lube. Basically, anything that turns should see some oil.


Spare Aixam drive belt

Something equally useful turned up along the way. I found the spare drive belt that I bought for Felicity. Apparently this wasn't a good drive belt, only managing to get the car up to around 35kph tops (unless they were lying to me?), however it'll be useful to pop in the boot because if my drive belt should break and it's a choice of going at thirty-something or not going at all, I know which would be more useful.
It's not the correct belt, it was supposed to be for an Aixam 400 (not a GTO) and it's missing the groove in the middle. However, if it fits and will allow some measure of locomotion, it will suffice until I can get a proper belt fitted.
Aixam drive belt
Aixam drive belt.
It is drying, I washed all the dust and crap off.



Now for a little question, if anybody has the knowledge and doesn't mind emailing me (probably best by email, not a comment below!).

The question is - how does one make sarin?

Let's get one thing straight right away - I am not interested in actually making the stuff. Nor do I need step by step instructions, simply an overview of the process.

The reason why is for a story that I am writing. A character (who is reasonably well acquainted with a high school or college chemistry lab and its equipment) is going to kill a group of people using sarin in the ventilation system of a room. I won't go into too much detail (spoilers!), but this is the basic premise.

I had thought of using anthrax as I have a reasonable idea of how that is made. I read a book a few years ago. I forget who by, but the undesired outcome was this nutter was going to load up a fire truck with anthrax spores, and then pump them into the air conditioning of a federal building, where they would go everywhere. There was a lot of detail, bordering on being a "how to" manual, so the author had clearly done their homework. Thus, I'm leaning towards somebody like Crichton or Clancy here.
The problem, anthrax isn't particularly fast acting. Hence the idea of using sarin. But, clearly, searching for the process is probably not the smartest of ideas in this day and age.

As I said, I am not looking for the exact process. Simply enough to provide some details without making it look like I plucked random things out of my ass. For instance, should there be nitrogen cannisters (it requires cold) or empty butane bottles (it requires heat)? Is it organic? If so, maybe a box of green potatoes on a window sill (for extracting the solanine, though maybe growing nightshade would be simpler?). If it is inorganic, perhaps a big bag of bottles of Head and Shoulders for extracting the Selenium? (okay, that one taken from the movie Evolution, and it's worth noting that it's 1% selenium sulfide - the alien probably blew up from having 99% other stuff pumped up its butt).

So, if you can help, please drop me a line.
And, again, I have no interest in actually making the stuff. I have no interest in acts of terror. A person involving a bunch of random strangers in retaliation of their problems is a real dick move, because in one fashion or another, we all have problems. Some worse than others, sure. But I don't fancy having my life endangered because some asshole wants to demonstrate their grievances.



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Rick, 26th July 2021, 21:43
It's been pointed out that sarin is actually really difficult to make (certainly not something that could be knocked up in anything akin to a standard chemistry lab), so it was suggested that I look into some of the nasty concoctions that were devised during The Great War. 
I mean, the simplest is to just mix a strong alcaline with a strong acid (your basic mustard gas). Is mustard gas able to knock out a room *before* anybody makes it to the door? I think further research will be needed here. But, this and some other ideas look to be on the right track... 

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