bicycle theft culture & technology
Monday, February 21 2022
Yesterday I'd run all my fecal output through a sieve. I'd poop into a low mesh tray in the upstairs bathroom and then use the blast from the bidet hose to break up the turds and wash away whatever particles would fit through the mesh, hoping to find the crown I'd thought I'd swallowed Friday night. At one point I thought I'd found it, but it was just a kernel of corn. The only corn in my diet came after I'd already noticed I'd lost the molar, starting with the mulligatawny soup I'd had Saturday morning and continuing with the chili on the Wizard Burger I'd later had for lunch. So this was probably all upstream from the molar itself, meaning it had somehow left my system undetected. Nevertheless, I continued going through my feces this morning. Since Gretchen was in the upstairs bedroom when nature called, and since sieving your feces is not something you want to do anywhere near anyone you ever want to see again, instead I went out and shat into the snow atop the bluff south of the house, poking through my excrement with a stick. Finding nothing, I gave up on ever finding the missing crown. From then on, I reverted to using the bathroom as I normally do (which still isn't conventional, at least in America, as I've become fond of the tidiness produced by that bidet hose).
Today was unseasonably warm, with temperatures up near 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It was too bad I felt I needed to stay at my workstation to teach myself about Docker.
This evening Powerful made dinner while I was in the bathtub having what he referred to (in talking to Gretchen) "tub time." (This time I'd been driven to the tub by Oscar the Cat leaping into my lap with wet spots of his putrid-smelling saliva on his fur; one of the benefits of being in water is that cats don't want to climb on me when I'm there.) The dinner was beans with carrots in a sort of gravy with a side of rice and a side of cooked cabbage. I put a mix of it in a flat bread to make a reasonably-good burrito.
Over dinner, I mentioned how I used to steal bicycles back in college, something that seemed to surprise Powerful (as well as Gretchen). He then opened up about all the bike stealing that used to happen in his neighborhood when he was a kid (and which he enthusiastically participated in). He said that he and his friends always stole bicycles from other neighborhoods (such as a place in Brooklyn along the Eastern Parkway he referred to as "Jewtown"). One time he and his friends were in Jewtown to steal bikes, and some nice Jewish man randomly gave them temporary jobs to help him move. Another time Powerful was chased by some irate bicycle theft victims and ended up hiding in an unlit basement for hours, not leaving until after dark.
As for my own bicycle theft career, Gretchen was initially upset that I might've stolen from the undeserving (such as our friend Kristen down in New Paltz, who once confronted someone at Oberlin who had stolen her bicycle). But when I told her that I'd only ever stolen expensive bikes, she decided it was okay (she gave me what you might call a "Robinhood pass"). I told her and Powerful all about the things I'd learned on my own about defeating bicycle lock technology. To unlock a bike locked with a Master combination padlock (the kind with a dial), just pop the dial off the spindle with a screwdriver and then use that screwdriver to dig around inside the body of the lock along the side of the spindle, which will cause it to quickly unlock. And those combination locks where you line up the digits on a stack of digit wheels are similarly easy to unlock. You can usually feel one or more of the correct digits by applying tension while rotating the wheels. After that, there might only be two digits left to determine, and that's just 36 combinations (there are only six positions per wheel), which can quickly be cycled through in a brute-force attack. Even U-locks aren't perfect impediments to theft. You can buy a diamond blade for a hacksaw that will allow you to cut through such a lock in about fifteen minutes.
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