Written 2024-04-06

Yesterday I:

  • Bought a bicycle
  • Attended a fairy tale discussion
  • Went to an iDKHOW concert

Each of these deserves its permanent record so I'm writing it right here.

Bicycle Deal


In March I was tempted to buy a bicycle. Reasons:

  • My 373 project is related to cycling
  • I'm bored of walking all the time
  • Cycling is an excuse of not going to the gym

I tried my roommate's bicycle earlier; it was rusty and the tires were flat. Honestly I have no idea how strong his legs are if he actually managed to propel this megatron of a bike. I asked him where he got it, and he said craigslist. He met the seller outside Panda Express, north campus, and paid $85.

There were three bikes on craigslist I was interested in: a mountain bike, a road bike, and a cruiser. The road bike is slightly cheaper, but the wheels seem too narrow to handle any adverse weather.

I reached out to Ed (W8EMV) on fedi for advice. He recommended mountain bikes and told me about a bike repair co-op.

So on 2024-03-20, I shot an email to the seller of the mountain bike. It was a Schwinn listed at $95. He responded the next day.

(Shoutout to craigslist for not requiring an account. The entire conversation was done via email.)

I told him I don't have a car so I prefer to meet somewhere walkable from me. We agreed on Kroger. We originally had planned to meet at the weekend (2024-03-30 and -31) but my landlord decided the immediate Monday (2024-04-01) was a good time to rip off the carpet and install some kind of vinyl floor. Besides, I bought a U-lock on ebay and it's not here till Monday.

We postponed the trade to 2024-04-05.

The trade

I showed up 20 minutes too early, so I entered Kroger to buy a small amount of groceries. The seller, Chris, arrived at 09:15 and brought me to his car, from which he unmounted the bike.

Chris drove here from Grand Rapids, and is on his way to Detroit to see something related to the Detroit Tigers. I told him I was going to Detroit the same evening as well, to St. Andrew's Hall.

He bought the bike for his son originally, but he never really rode it. "Bad for him, good for me," I said.

I heard dogs barking. He explained that it was his two dogs in carriers.

I asked him if he trusted me to give the bike a test ride around the parking lot. He said yes, so that's what I did. He just sat back in his car.

The bike was like the smoothest thing I've ever rode. The brakes work perfectly. The tires were full, there was almost no defect, functional or cosmetic. Say no more, I'm taking this baby.

I opened my wallet and counted 90 dollars. He stopped me right there. He said, "It's good. Go buy yourself something to eat."

And that is how I got an almost new bike for $90.

The lock

After I got the bike, the plan was:

  • Ride directly to north campus
  • Lock bike to campus bike rack
  • Attend lab
  • Ride home and lock to apartment bike rack

But the lock was delayed. It was in Detroit; then somehow it went to Alabama. I had to ride home and carry it to my bedroom, before walking to the lab.

Fairy tale discussion

The topic was Romanticism. I wasn't a fan of this topic because it's not super relatable.

Romanticism was born as a critical response to the Enlightenment, or the age of reason. Contrary to the science and rationality of Enlightenment, Romanticism focused on the spiritual: human emotions, especially the negative ones, called the "Nachtseite" (night side).

We discussed the Byronic hero, who is sick of the rational and feels wanderlust, melancholy, misanthropy, and alienation.

We were asked to come up with examples in popular media. Mine was Jesus of Suburbia, the protagonist of Green Day's American Idiot (2004) who escapes the suburbs to seek a new life in the city. Eventually, he finds nothing and comes back home. Notable examples of Romantic emotion:

  • "American Idiot": misanthropy. He is disgusted by a society "controlled by the media". Also the word "alienation" is literally in the chorus.
  • "Jesus of Suburbia": wanderlust. The whole song the titular character curses society for its faults, which builds up to his final decision to leave home to find what he believes.
  • "Are We the Waiting" and "Whatsername": melancholy. Just… listen to it.

My professor, Laura Okkema, relates to the Byronic hero, from her experience of being alienated in American family gatherings. When I heard it I just treated it as a light-hearted story. Big mistake; read on.



  • 15:50 - I board the D2A2 bus at Blake Transit Center, Ann Arbor
  • 16:00 - The bus departs
  • 16:10 - I saw some cows
  • 16:50 - The bus arrives at Grand Circus Park, Detroit
  • 17:15 - I queue up in a parking lot behind St. Andrew's Hall*
  • 19:20 - I finally get into the venue
  • 20:00 - The opening act Farhall performs
  • 21:00 - iDKHOW performs
  • 22:30 - Show ends
  • 22:55 - I board the bus back to AA
  • 23:05 - The bus departs
  • 23:55 - The bus arrives at BTC
  • 00:?? - I board the Bursley-Baits bus from CCTC to Bursley
  • 00:30 - I come home

* Note: the venue is technically The Shelter, part of SAH

Waiting outside

From 17:15 to 19:20, I waited outside. There were 20 or so people in the line. A bunch of Detroit Tigers fans were vibing in a big tent nearby, in a parking lot. The DJ put on some really loud hip hop.

I like hip hop. But the TR-808 was nonstop, and the synth bass was indistinguishable from seismic waves. If you know me, I like dynamics, and loud music for two hours is not dynamic. I hope they're having fun because I sure am not.

I scanned the crowd. There were around 100 people, and probably one third of them wore some sort of merch. A handful had VIP badges, and stood in a different lane. I'm cool with that.

At one random moment Dallon (iDKHOW's only permanent member rn) walked out of nowhere and the crowd cheered.

A guy stood behind me. His name is Andy and is from MSU, a graduate student in physics, doing nucleus stuff. He discovered the band in the pandemic and just randomly found out they were touring last month, so he bought a ticket. I wish I could afford resale tickets that's like 5x the face value.

He's totally chill, just having a casual Friday evening. He's not like other fans. He did not know what the band's prior album is called. And that's ok; I hate gatekeeping.

I forgot to have my ticket ready at the entrance, so I wasted five minutes and ~20 people got ahead of me. As a consequence, I lost Andy and was forced to spend the rest of the show alone.

Waiting inside

Inside the venue a merch stall sold overpriced T-shirts and jackets. I didn't bust my wallet. I headed to the restroom. The urinator was a wide tub of ice (?) and apparently you can piss in it???

So anyway I joined the pit. It was dim af but there was something worse.


Music was blasting through all the loudspeakers. It was again nonstop, crossfading into one another. I absolutely hate the vibes. The worst part is the song that sampled a revolver. It goes like:

barrel roll bang bang bang
barrel roll bang bang bang

On the other hand, one could argue that the song is, quite literally, fire.

If I made music, the worst thing you could do with it is play it before a show. I've never heard of it. It's not live. I did not consent to it. Good songs become mediocre and average songs become shit.

I put on my earplugs.


The Benches, who were supposed to open for iDKHOW, were sick so Farhall came last minute. Their voice is beautiful but unfortunately I was unable to make out the lyrics. Genre-wise, it's indie pop.


After another forty minutes of miserable waiting, iDKHOW's touring members came up stage followed by Dallon. They opened with a rather interesting choice: "SPKOTHDVL" (speak of the devil), not a lead single. The first line is "Your front page boy is finally here". Yeah Dallon sure you are.

The new record is titled GLOOM DIVISION and there were explicit songs, topic or lyrics. It was the first time he sang "fuck" and "bitch", and one song was literally about sex. About three times at the show he advised the audience below 25 to "cover your ears". lmao I'm wearing earplugs.

Little by little I pulled out the earplugs because I can't hear the crowd and it blocked high frequencies. I removed them during my favorite songs, and put them halfway back in during others.

My favorite song played live is "A Letter", written before iDKHOW's formation, when Dallon was in the band The Brobecks. He said it was the band's "least popular song" if you look at the numbers. But he added it was the best. I agree.

He split the crowd in half and instructed both sides to harmonize. He said it was like church. It was indeed majestic.

In the middle of "Visitation of the Ghost", also a Brobecks song, he split an aisle and walked down the middle while the crowd repeated the line "oh my lord, lord lord lord". I'm an atheist so the one I was referring to was actually the New Zealand singer.

Generally, the crowd knew the lyrics to older songs better, and I'm guilty of that.

Dallon casually admitted to sampling a car horn in the ending track, "iDIOTS OF Oz". We have achieved peak xkcd #780.

Over the duration of the show, Dallon threw two picks, but neither was in my range.

The cringeworthy story of my PCBs

Warning: this story is cringe. If we ever meet in person, even if we're friends, you are not allowed to bring up this story.

You have been warned

Last month I trained myself to use the Bantam CNC. I milled 9 iDKHOW logos on a PCB and announced on Reddit that I would be happy to give them out.

Only one person replied they would be coming. I told them my clothing and location, but they were late. So I just stood there surrounded by strangers, snatching the ziploc in my hand, hoping someone asks me what they are.

Do you identify my fatal mistake? Yes — PCBs are a novel souvenir and I am not socially competent enough to just hand them out to strangers. My nerd brain had assumed that everyone would be dazzled by the beauty of copper, but everyone was just minding their own business.

The problem was the fucking hip hop DJ. If there were no loud music, I could have made a conversation in a break of silence. But in retrospect, there is no evidence that I could pull that off.

The real issue is they came in pairs, even groups, and they're constantly talking. I could not join their clique, or it wouldn't be a clique.

I tried Andy, who also came alone. He wasn't interested, and it would be offensive to force anyone to take it. So I put them back in my pocket. I was like sure, why not hand it out inside? It should be quiet there.


I tried a guy next to me. I said "hey man, may I interest you with some souvenir?" And he was like "no I'm good".

At this very moment I have fucked up. I sounded like a shady tour guide. There is no convenient way in the English language to express a lack of profit incentive, without building implicit trust with the person. That takes time and conversation, but again the loud music forbids it. So fuck you, music-through-the-loudspeaker-blaster.

After the opening act was done, a dad who was the guardian for his daughter approached me to ask me whether I enjoyed it. I was compelled to say yes. And as if it wasn't awkward enough, I offered my PCB.

I said, "Oh that reminds me, you can have one of these. I made them myself."

He declined without even looking at them. And that was the correct choice.

I was a stranger. And the default option, when meeting a stranger, is to not accept anything.

Hey, can you bring back the revolver song? Because I want to die.

All I wanted, at that point in time, is to get rid of the ziploc. Even flushing it in the toilet would bring me relief. But copper and fiberglass do not belong in residential sewage.

Basically I tried to drag myself as far away from the two people I talked to as possible, but it was so crowded I could hardly move. So I was pinned in this awkward location the entire show.

It was distilled alienation.

I admitted defeat and carried the ziploc back home. Every time I lay my eyes on it, it incites violent thoughts.

It's the Nachtseite.

The Nachtseite

On my way home, I sent this email to my professor.

Hi Laura,

I'm back from the Detroit show. This is the first live music event I ever attended outside campus. The one and a half hour where they actually performed was fire, so you can be assured I'm ok.

But the four hours of waiting was traumatic. I was one of the few who came alone. I had imagined music would "bring us all together", but they had their own cliques and there was no humanly possible way to tap into a conversation without coming off as cringe. I feel alienated.

The venue tortured my ears with music. Not bad, just unnecessarily loud. At one point I wished I could trace back to the studio to physically slash the drumhead. I feel misanthropy.

At first I pretended to have a good time, but soon I stopped bothering. Bored (the irony is that their closing track is called "Boring") and wishing to teleport somewhere else. I feel melancholy and wanderlust.

Clearly I've felt the Nachtseite (again ironically, they played a song called "Sunnyside"). It seems like I'm the Byronic romanticist hero, but as the show began, I returned to rationality because I know what is going on. Emotionally I'm not attached to the band and their early songs, and it feels like I'm the Clara in the room.

Perhaps whether someone is a romanticist or enlightenment-ist can change depending on circumstance? Or, one could be both, at the same moment?

also I'm having tinnitus.

Yours, Frederick Yin

Note: Clara is a character in ETA Hoffmann's "The Sandman". She is always rational in the story.

This email was composed partly on the bus, and partly at home.

Trip back home

The hip hop was still on when my show ended. I took a detour on Broadway but still made it on time. At Grand Circus Park, an old man asked me if I knew any ATMs nearby as he didn't have a phone. I was cautious of my possessions as I took out my phone to look at the maps. So that's what it's like to be approached by a stranger. I fully realized the cringe of my actions earlier, and I understand why they reacted this way.

I told him there's a PNC ATM at Broadway + John R.

Once everyone was on the bus, the bus driver warned us not to use the bathroom, despite his best effort to disinfect it. I do not wish to see what's inside.

The dream

At home I took a shower and went to bed.

I dreamed of riding my new bicycle all around the town. I shifted gears at will. It was… surprisingly real, although I seemed to have remembered the numbers backwards. There was an uphill road where I had to get off and push the bike. But for the rest of my aimless journey, I rode as fast as the wind.

I woke up as though I had rode perhaps 10 kilometers. But in reality, I've rode less than two. Is this wanderlust?


  • Thanks Chris for the trust and saving me 5 dollars
  • Fuck you USPS for sending my lock to Alabama
  • Can't believe how long I waited
  • Constant loud music is torture
  • Please stop playing songs with gunshots
  • Waiting for a show alone is peak alienation
  • Thanks Andy for making this slightly better
  • Sorry Laura I know what it feels like to be the Byronic hero now
  • Don't devote time on things nobody asked for
  • Earplugs are useful
  • I've crossed out another one of my life goals, despite great pains
  • I will probably never go to an iDKHOW show ever again
  • I hope you found the ATM, random person
  • I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike
  • I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride it where I like
  • Oh the lock is here?