Jonathan Maus over at Bikeportland.org had some interesting things to say about the Electra Amsterdam that I blogged about a few months back. His review is here, and it's rather interesting. I'm torn between the lighter weight of the sport model and the lighting and functionality of the classic.. a dilemma I hope to have in real life if I win his raffle. Who knows? I've only won one so far in my lifetime, but this would be an awesome time for #2! ;)
Ok, I was convinced that most Christians were wrong, that their support for GWB (this of course being a generalization) and his policies in Iraq were going to damn them all to their own hell, and then I read this . Now I know it's not all Christians who are fooled by the big "W". I'd given up on Christianity completely, but then I realized that some Christians see through the lies of those who claim the same faith. There is hope. Bicycles and bicycling as a form of worship? Sweet! Those of you who observe Lent, please read the article!
This article over at bicycle fixation got me mad mad mad. I thought I'd post one of my own jack-ass driver deterents; though I'm certainly not the only one who's got one (though I rarely see them on other people's bikes for some strange reason.) These are a valuable way of making your presence known to those who would endanger your life. I use the bell for other bicyclists and peds, and the loud-as-a-truck-horn (well, it's that loud) for cars/trucks/SUV's. I even mounted a Minoura Besso Mount on my Albatross bars so that I could get the trigger button underneath my thumb without having to take my hand off the grips... makes it easier to "act like a car", just like all the bicycle advocates tell me to do. >8P±
Seriously, everything you CAN do to make yourself safer out there, do it. This guy was an experienced cyclist. Maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe his attention lapsed for a second, but that's all it takes when you ride on the street; the motor vehicle drivers prove over and over that they just don't care. Really, it only takes only one car to turn you into a statistic and leave nothing behind but sad angry people. Tragic, and a huge loss, especially for those who knew and loved him. RIP Mike Wilberding .
Someone told me about this a few days ago, and by pure happenstance, I ran into it HERE. This is perhaps the craziest crash I've seen. The speed at which this guy is going is beyond belief (just under 107 mph... ON A BICYCLE!). The fastest I've ever ridden a bicycle off road is 47mph, and it felt like Mach 1 to me. I was on a trail, not a wide open cinder cone, but even given the terrain, this kind of speed sounds like suicide. Frankly, I'm amazed the guy lived through the crash. I don't speak enough Japanese to know what the heck they're saying, but I'm sure the words "insane" and "crazy" got in there somewhere.
Thanks to Merritt for getting me all fired up about this.
Man, some people love to kill the joy of others, take this GUY for instance. Google Guy Farmer and it becomes immediately and painfully clear that he's an ultra conservative, which instantly puts my hackles up. As usual, this neo-con's arguments are full of hypocrisy. He claims that the previous Governor was a good one, yet the previous Governor had more important things to do than try to ban Burning Man (did he write letters to him asking him to ban Burning Man?). He refers to Burning Man as the "Burning Man naked drug festival", which is clearly a direct insult (hence my returning of the favor in this entry). As an 8 year Burning Man participant, I can honestly say that I see just as many people (if not more) in Reno who are visibly inebriated and oftentimes violent at "Hot August Nights" than at Burning Man. Worst of all, if Guy has ever had a glass of wine, a shot of whisky, a Valium, an aspirin, or ANY other drug, he has no right to say anything. Drugs are drugs period. If you've ever taken drugs, you have NO right to tell anyone else what they can or cannot do (assuming they are a consenting adult), otherwise you're just a hypocrite. Look up this article and tell me it's not the "just say no" days all over again. Particularly egregious are Guy's assertions that weed causes car accidents; in nearly all cases, the people charged were also drunk on ALCOHOL. I'm not advocating that people EVER drive when inebriated with ANY substance, I'm just pointing out that using people's poor judgement doesn't help build a case against marijuana. We tried banning alcohol, and look where that got us. Amsterdam has less marijuana usage than the U.S does, and it's legal there. Hmm.... Also, the idea that Marijuana is a "gateway" drug has long since been proven false. Also, what's so bad about being naked? Guy Farmer is naked under his clothes too!
The part that gets me most heated, enraged actually, is the claim that;
"... drugs aren't the worst of it because young children are present as naked "free spirits" cavort on the desert playa in what looks like child abuse."
I have a 2.5 year old son, and I would bring him to Black Rock city in a heartbeat if I thought he could handle the living conditions (heat, dust, dust storms, very low humidity, pervasive lack of silence within city proper). What I'm NOT worried about is him seeing naked people. Hell, the kid hardly wants to wear clothes himself. Protecting him from inappropriate sexual situations is important and my duty as a parent, which is of course why Burning Man doesn't allow people under the age of 18 to attend unless they are emancipated minors or are accompanied by an adult. In the old days of the event, this wasn't enforced, but with the current regulations placed on Burning Man by the State and Federal government w/ regards to oversight, the number of "illegal minors" is minimal. I've seen young people be turned away from bars repeatedly in BRC and even gently turned away from child inappropriate events. Burning Man is far more of a community that Carson City could ever claim to be these days. I've never once walked through Carson City and had a local resident even greet me, much less offer me cookies, milk, water, juice, beer, hugs or even hardly a smile. Black Rock City is the nicest, friendliest, generally happiest city I've ever been to, which is 50% of why I can't stop going back every year. Guy's assertions that BRC has no "family values" couldn't be farther from the mark, further reinforcing my assertion that Guy has never been to Black Rock City.
"I don't think this is what Congress had in mind when it designated the Black Rock Desert as a National Conservation Area."
Burning Man was taking place in the Black Rock Desert for 9 years before the area was designated a National Conservation Area. Burning Man is the LARGEST Leave-No-Trace event in the world, and it's continued license to operate is largely contingent on the event not adversely effecting the BRD. Burning Man 's cleanup effort is unparalleled within the event industry, leaving the area cleaner each year. Burning Man has also brought increased prosperity to the residents of Gerlach, Empire, Nixon, Wadsworth, Reno and Winnemucca. The influx of nearly 40,000 people creates it's own set of problems, yet it also brings in large amounts of capital for the state of Nevada. Burning Man participants have raised money for local schools and charities, further increasing their contribution to the communities it effects by it's presence.
Most blatantly offensive to me is that Guy claims to be a semi-retired "journalist". My idea of "journalism" doesn't include adding your own opinion to your reporting. That's what "blogging" was created for; opinions have no place in mainstream journalism. Granted, his "open letter" appears in the Nevada Appeal OPINIONS section, but I wonder if his reputation as a "journalist" influenced the opinions editor into publishing it.... would my complete obscurity be a factor if I submitted a condensed version of this blog entry as a rebuttal? Probably, but that's what blogging is for, it's here for all to see.
CURRENT MUSIC: Rush, A Show of Hands, Closer to the Heart; punctuated throughout w/ the sweet sounds of our chop saw and dust collector...
Well, one of my favorite obscure dictionary sites is apparently down for the count: phrontistery.info was taken down by the provider, much to the dismay of the owner. You can read some of the continuing saga here. Good web resources are awesome to find and painful to lose; the phrontistery is one of my favorites and I look forward to it's rebirth!
Today's entry at Kent Peterson's Blog alerted me to an interesting and pertinent book called "Lives Per Gallon" and it's author. He's speaking at Book Passage in Corte Madera on the 20th, and I'm keen to attend. Wanna meet me there? If I can get my shit together and rebuild the Novato SUB, I'll ride that there, though someone else is going to have to watch Kai, as 2 year olds aren't fond of listening to book authors speak for an hour *smirk*.
My friend Ken Walden sent me an email a couple of days ago informing me about a screening of "Before the Music Dies". He's in the film, so for me, that's reason enough to see it. I've known Ken for most of my life, and if there's one thing Ken knows a LOT about, it's music. When he says "See this film, it's important", I listen. I listen because Ken isn't one to overhype something; when he says it's good you can pretty much take that to the bank.
I too have worked in the music industry either in a volunteer or paid position for nearly half my life, and I know that a lot has changed, even in my lifetime. The "change" I'm talking about is the commodification and marginalization of real musicians and their music, while the music "industry" has become bloated and top heavy. This trend has infected radio as well, and that is the avenue that this film has chosen to focus on.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was surprised, amused, entertained and enlightened. A lot of the information I already know from personal experiences working in and around the music biz, but this was a really great way of summing it up and underlining it. There are a lot of great moments, but several moments come immediately to mind: Billy Preston performing with Ray Charles and dancing AND singing his ass off: I said out loud to the friend I attended with "Brittney Spears ain't got NUTHIN' on Billy".
The other memorable (though somewhat chilling) moment for me was the interview with the teen girls fresh out of a Brittney Spears/Christina Aguilera/insert-name-of-MTV-pop-star-here concert. One of the questions asked was if they were inspired by the music to do anything "No". Did they know who Bob Dylan was "No". The interviewer mentioned that his music used to inspire people to drive to Washington and protest: Blank looks. It made me sad: even though I was born in the 70's, I got enough of a dose of this 60's music history and inspiration to realize the power that music has held, and still has the potential to wield. Case in point, Immortal Technique's album "Revolutionary 2" inspired me to stop watching TV and start blogging.
On a side note, I've tried my best so far to expose my son (who's only 2.5 years old) to as much diversity in music as I can. I feel that it's one of the better gifts that I can give him: I know that I really appreciate the amount of music I was exposed to as a child, and I know it's a part of the reason I love music so much and the reason I appreciate it's breadth.
There are many phenomenal artists that I'd never heard of before in this movie, and I hope to obtain recordings of their music. These include the North Mississippi Allstars, Doyle Bramhall (who garnered thunderous praise from legendary musician Eric Clapton), Guy Forsythe (playing some of the meanest, bad-ass harmonica I've ever heard) and Calexico . Each one of their performances in the film had me scrambling for my PDA to write down their names. Incredible stuff: check it out! Also, check out the movie; it's manages to educate without being overly preachy and it's highly entertaining.
Bring Your Own: August 2006
Found this link b/c she was a poster on my most read Yahoo group, Roots Radicals. I like this blog, and it's got good ideas and info about reducing our plastics waste, which as some of you might know, is an epidemic that threatens to bury us (literally).
THESE guys are running across the african continent to raise money and awareness of the lack of clean water available in many african countries. Some might say "why don't they just move?" Easy to say from a first world perspective where most people have access to cars or public transportation, running water, indoor toilets, electricity, etc. Try moving 50-500 miles to the closest reliable water source under your own locomotive power carrying all your stuff and your family on your back... and it gets a little harder. Remember that word EMPATHY?
The feat of endurance these guys are doing is nothing short of amazing.
BTW, if it means anything to you, Matt Damon has signed on to lend his name to the cause (one.org). I'm always leery of celebrity pet causes, but I think this is a good one. I am a member of one.org as well, and hell, I'm no celebrity.
I found THIS video at the Rubber Side Down blog, found through the Oil is for Sissies blog, found through the Pleasant Revolution (Xtracycle) Blog: WHEW! Not that we got the chain of links done with, check out the video. I'm so f*cking impressed. This woman is amazing.
I get a regular notification from NASA when there's a new feature article up. THIS one made me think of SkyNet (ala the Terminator movies). Of course, the same parallel could be drawn with the Matrix movies, but that's a little different. When the machines take over, it'll be from the sky. In the meantime, know that Terra and Aqua (amongst others) are watching you whenever you're outside. Fortunately, they're really looking for things that change, i.e floods, melting polar ice, volcanic eruptions, etc.
More ammo: Kent Peterson posted THIS, which details why most of the time it's safe to ride your bicycle, assuming you take the proper safety precautions. It was written by a friend of his named David Smith. I've had a lot of people tell me that it's dangerous to ride my bicycle at night... though the ones who say this never take into account what I wear and how I set myself up. At the bare minimum, My helmet is covered in retroreflective shapes with a headlamp pointing forward, a red blinky on the back of my helmet, I wear a retroreflective vest and also a retroreflective yield sign around my waist.
In addition to this (depending on the bicycle), I have 2-3 other rear blinkers, a handlebar mounted headlight, Down-Low-Glow (or my own version) on the frame, Elwire stranding on the frame, Hokey Spokes in the wheels, TireFlys on the wheel valve stems, and front and rear reflectors. Most people spot me well before they spot the cars around me. That's the way you have to behave if you want to be SURE that NO ONE is going to hit you because they couldn't/didn't see you. Riding predictably (LIKE A CAR) is the second most important thing you can do to keep yourself safe. Last is wearing a helmet. I put it last because a helmet only protects your head, and if you are struck by a car, there's a good chance that the fatal injuries encompass more than your skull. Don't get me wrong, I wear a helmet almost every time I ride, but I know my safety has more to do with how I behave on the road (following the rules of the road, riding predictably) than the helmet on my head.
Don't be afraid to ride at night: it's one of the most beautiful and fun times of the day to ride! I've been doing it nearly every night here in Hawaii, and it's glorius to be in the warm air and look up and see millions of stars away from the light pollution.
I was reading through Todd's blog, flipped over to Kent's blog and found this great article about Critical Mass, Seattle and their burgeoning bike culture, and Portland Envy. I was rather inspired by Seattle's attempts. Currently, my home county of Marin is trying to implement changes to our own transportation problems. The most hotly contested is of course Measure R which seeks to bring rail service back to Marin and Sonoma counties with the SMART train. It's detractors have several points that I agree with, but I think that the problems could be solved if we had the backbone to do what REALLY had to be done to make the train a better option to driving. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) has put their own weight behind measure R, as part of it's stipulation is to put an accompanying bicycle trail next to the train line. I am all for a low percentage grade trail that would go from Cloverdale to Sausalito, but the fine print says that the multi-use pathway wouldn't travel the full length of the rail. *sigh* I haven't talked to any of the folks at the MCBC about this yet, but I'm not sure why they've put so much energy behind the passing of the SMART train, since not all the problems with it seem to have been worked out, which has led many people I know (who are definitely bicycle friendly ) to cast their votes against the measure. The street crossing issue is a problem, as is the lack of a usefull train schedule. It needs to run at least twice an hour both directions in order for it to be a usefull alternative for most people. As the plans stands currently, that's not the case. I'm ALL for a train system, but it needs to be fully realized before it's brought to the voters.
On a more personal note, I'm currently spending a little over a week on Maui in celebration of my mother's 60th birthday. I rented a bicycle several days ago and have been taking Kai on rides every day. I brought along the BoBike Maxi which has again proved itself to be a superior child seat: rock solid, though the seat on the bicycle itself leaves a bit to be desired, though I'm hardly surprised b/c it's a RENTAL.I've also been rather dismayed on my past few trips to see the ever increasing number of automobiles on Maui. When I first started coming to Maui in the mid 1980's, traffic was a fraction of what it is now. Maui had an amazing opportunity to make mass transit a priority, but it has opted for the air-clogging option of more hotels, more cars, more traffic, more hassle. The thought of riding my bicycle along along Maui's 311 highway between Kahalui and Kihei is a little daunting when you have a 2.5 yr old strapped on the back. I ride regularly with Kai, and not much phases me, but 311 is a fairly narrow road, it's lined with closely spaced trees, and the shoulder isn't very wide. I'm informed that there is a new bus system in Maui, but as of this writing, I know no details. The roads have become a lot less friendly in general as well: frustrated people seem to abound, myself included. Maui remains a beautiful place to ride a bicycle, but the roads are becoming more and more congested . Perhaps Maui should take the hint from Seattle and Portland?
I found this several links away from Kent Peterson's bike blog, and I'm not sure how long I can stand to listen to it for... I'm currently at 363 residents and counting down as I write this and the other comments I've read could be right.. it may haunt my dreams tonight. If I were to ride a brevet (which I'm in no way in shape for right now), this might be a mantra to keep yourself going, though you could definitely be totally wacko by the time you reached the finish line.
I also found this open letter from crazy girl on a bike. Check out her blog: she's got a lot of thought provoking stuff posted, and there's a lot of people responding.
My own observations about bicyclists refusing to yield right-of-way and riding unsafely: Harrison St. between 13th and 19th (part of my usual route) in San Francisco has the highest concentration I've ever seen of bicyclists regularly disregarding the stop signs. I'm sure there are other places where this behavior is MORE prevalent, but I haven't seen them yet. There is only 1 stoplight (at 16th and Harrison) and I've seen bicyclists ignore this as well. My commute is approximately 28 miles each way (by motorcycle), so I don't ride my bicycle in SF that often, but the blatant disregard for traffic laws when it comes to stop signs never ceases to annoy and sometimes astonish me. I've seen non-helmeted riders blow stop signs when there were already cars in the intersection, without even turning their heads to look, narrowly miss being struck and not even react.. just keep riding. I was blown away. The more I ride, the more I'm inclined to be completed anal about obeying the law. That way, it'll always be the drivers fault if the sh*t goes down.
Keep the rubber side down
CURRENT MUSIC: Strawberry Pancakes (Population: 330)
I found out what this bike is from Sheldon Brown's blog entry about Interbike:
"The Calfee booth showed a cool bike, appears to have a bamboo frame, wooden rims and genuine cowhorn handlebars!". So the answer is that it's a Calfee... a company I hadn't heard of before. Here's a link to their bamboo bicycle.
As I've long suspected, helmet's don't protect you from a lot of crashes. In fact, most people have a tendency (probably from years of having it drilled into their heads) that they should protect their head and face in a crash. I'm not advocating that people not wear helmets, especially those who are somewhat inexperienced cyclists. All I'm saying is, don't think a helmet will save your life. Being alert and in full possesion of your faculties is perhaps the single best thing you can do to protect yourself on a bicycle.
Please read THIS or click on the title for a cycling fatality story and the top 10 things the News gets wrong about bicycle crashes. It's a good one.
Thanks to Todd and his Elsewhere posting
THIS is just so exciting, I don't know what to say. The idea that a company that makes bikes as nice as Surly does is making a dedicated Xtracycle frame is making me crazy! I may have to dump my rig in favor of one these... oy vey!
Also, Electra is putting out a bike called an Amsterdam which looks like an ultimate city bike: if the price is right, it may become the new shop bike of ZOMADIC! Stay tuned for more updates in this arena. The scarcity of posts lately has been mainly due to my increased time at my new business, so my apologies to my scarce readership...
Well, it's been a LONG time since I've posted, and for that I am sorry. The video above is one I shot of the Dancing Dragon at Burning Man this year. It was a cool project though we came nowhere near the worlds record (nearly 2 miles long). According to Jim Bowers (clueless leader), we were 1247 ft long, which made us the longest piece of mobile art ever done at Burning Man, so we set at least one record. It was quite a challenge to get nearly 500 people working in lockstep; sections kept breaking due to hasty construction. All in all a success and I was glad to be part of it.
You can check out more of my Burning Man 2006 Photos HERE
Thought I'd check my own favorite blogs, and made another inter-jump to the Oil is for Sissies blog. Scroll down to the August 11th posting, or just click HERE. Got a good LOL out of this one, though I had to stifle it to avoid waking the wife and child. It's my sentiments exactly.
CURRENT MUSIC: Peter Gabriel, Hit, Blood of Eden (Radio Edit)
After a failed attempt to send Kai to school (he looked like he was sick, but was in a fine mood) and some failed attempts at a park visit (he wouldn't let me change into appropriate clothes, and then there was the dirt-in-the-eye fiasco while playing with his trucks), we ended up cleaning out my wife's car. It was the last thing I felt like getting done today, but it was absolutely necessary, as the car stunk of something rotting (diaper? food?). While O.C vacuuming the car, I found a little something that I lost months ago and have been lamenting ever since. I FOUND the "D" scrabble tile that Stevie's parents gave me at Burning Man 2005.
Here is something I wrote about my experiences in meeting Stevie's parents at Burning Man 2005. I wrote this in an email and ended up copying it to several friends, so if you've read this before, please bear with me a moment:
Partial Email, c. October 2005
Burning Man was incredible as always. I performed a total of 9 marriages (I got ordained a few months ago so I could marry Merritt and Nikki in BRC) and served 2 3-hour shifts as Head Guardian Angel (aka "The Voice of the Temple") for the Temple of Dreams. I had an amazing time as Temple Guardian. Most memorable would have to be my meeting with Stevie's parents. Stevie's was a woman who worked for the BRC DPW (Black Rock City Department of Public Works), who was killed shortly after the event last year. She was 22. I never did meet her, but our paths seem to have crossed at least once. She had befriended one of my burning man friends by the name of Blue (Paul). I remember meeting up with him during last years event and we talked about this and that. He mentioned her and how awesome he thought she was. I found out from him later that she'd been killed in a freak car accident not too many miles away from the event. She had stayed several weeks after the event had ended to assist with clean-up. In fact, she was one of the last people off the playa. Her truck and trailer jacknifed from a freak wind and rolled 5 times. In talking to her parents, I came to learn that when her body was returned to them, there wasn't a scratch on her. Trippy. Going back to meeting her parents: 2 hours into my second shift and I was talking to my friend Judy (also my roomate at BM). She had come out to the temple with me at the beginning of my shift to write in her journal and work through some things. I felt a tap on my shoulder and this man and woman asked me if I was Sparky, the Voice. "I am". "We're Stevie's parents. I'm Paula and this is Tim". My mouth dropped open. Literally. That NEVER happens to me... it takes a lot to take me completely by surprise. Then the tears came... like a rain squall in Hana. It was immediate, and I couldn't stop it. The both embraced me immediately and we were all crying within seconds. Now mind you, I had just performed Merritt and Nikki's wedding not 3 hours before (which was a real tear jerker), so I was walking the rougher edges of my emotions. Never-the-less, what I felt for them was totally honest, totally real. It was surreal to be having this connection to these people I'd never met. I should explain though, that ever since I'd learned about Stevie, I'd felt like I'd lost a sister or best friend from a former life. It was weird that I'd never met her. When they told me who they were, my brain put it all together at once, kind of like a switch opening and the tears and emotions were like the electricity flowing through the conduit.
I talked with Paula and Tim for nearly an hour... they are amazing people and I was so honored that they had come and found me. I found out (much to my own chagrin) that my favorite piece of the temple was actually a shrine to Stevie. On one side was a beautiful carved dragonfly and on the other was a phoenix. Paula and Tim were trying to find all the guardian angels and thank them for protecting Stevie's shrine/effigy. They gave me two gifts that I've been carrying with me at all times ever since. The first was a ceramic or femo (not sure which) dragonfly pendant. The second was a scrabble tile with "Miss Stevious" and a tiny Burning Man on the back. More on those in a moment. I learned much more about Stevie that night. She was a bit like Neo in the Matrix movies in that nearly everyone she came in contact with was changed by her; somehow she had this unearthly charisma that just sucked you in. Nearly everyone I've ever talked to that knew her well said that she was like a force of nature. Shortly before Burning Man, she had gone to South Carolina to learn to work with tigers... I guess it turned out that the place was a CULT and they wanted the girls to sleep in the cages with the tigers. Stevie stuck it out for almost 3 days before she said "I'm outta here..." Such a tenacious one. Anyways... they told me all these trippy stories about dragonflies; They were Stevie's favorite creature. I guess one came and sat on Paula's shoulder during Stevie's memorial for nearly 2 hours. Another one came to sit in Stevie's grandmother's chair (right next to paula) at the wake when she got up to go in the kitchen. Also, they had been seeing dragonflies all over the playa... and the next morning I had two buzz RIGHT past me when I was sitting in the shade talking about my experiences with Paula and Tim the night before; it tripped ME out. So the dragonfly pendant has become far more significant to me; I see it as a connection to those gone and a good luck charm. The other gift they gave me was the scrabble tile. "D" is the letter on it... worth 2 points in scrabble. In talking to Paula and Tim, they told me how she was the best scrabble player they'd ever seen. She had like 4 or 5 scrabble sets, and was virtually unbeatable. She also had 5 dictionaries (a woman after my own heart). I wish I could have known her when she was alive.
While re-reading this I realized that the positive intention was there, but that my own writing tends to be a bit sophomoric when I don't self-edit, at least to my own ears. I'm leaving my previous blunders to stand, as that was how I wrote it and to clean it up now seems dishonest.
Finding the tile changed my whole day. My schedule had been hijacked (not an unusual occurrence when you have a 2 year old child), and there were 5 other projects I would rather have been doing. Truth be told, it would rather have been a lot of other places; I was feeling impatient, tired and irritable. I saw the tile and my heart leapt into my throat. I had almost vacuumed it up, and if I'd been looking just a little less carefully, I might have never found it. I was convinced that it had been thrown away or lost somewhere where I'd never find it. I was able to slow down mentally after finding it and the day has been better ever since.
I feel like Stevie's watching me,and it's a reminder to pay attention to what's important in my life. It always ends without notice, ever notice that? *smirk* I know she's going to be there at Burning Man 2006, if not in her corporeal form, then pervasively in her etherial form.
Here are some beautiful sites dedicated to Stevie.
By Dai Andrews
A big thanks to Paula and Tim for finding me and giving me so many gifts, the best of which being a small feeling of having known an amazing woman I never met in person.
CURRENT MUSIC: The Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia, Devil Music
As featured in the Jack Rabbit Speaks, the Fire in the Belly folks are trying to make this incredible piece of art happen. For all of you who have children, for all of you have had a miscarriage and for all of you who hope to someday have children, please consider a small donation. Even 5 bucks helps. This is a beautiful thing they're trying to do, and they're running out of time to do it. I know of several women who've had miscarriages before or during the event in years past, and this installation will no doubt see a lot of carthasis surrounding it's burn.
Just had to share that today Todd at Cleverchimp.com was able to ship out my STOKEMONKEY kit! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you don't know what a stokemonkey is, click HERE and see what it's all about. As soon as I get the rig and get it set up, I'll be posting photos and blog entries about it. In fact faithfull reader (all 2 of you), you'll probably be SICK of hearing about the stokemonkey very shortly and will discontinue reading my blog until I start talking about something else. Never fear! I only drone on for a few hundred entries before finding new things to carry on about. *smirk*
You know, every time I link to something I found somewhere, I realize that the world wide web, really is just that. A web. Though I may wax pedantic, stay with me here for a second.
I went to a lecture hosted by the Long Now Institute on March 10th at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Kevin Kelly spoke about recursion (among other things). Listen to the MP3 of the lecture HERE. I've been thinking about it ever since. Take this post for instance: I found today's link at the cleverchimp blog, who in turn found it ( I assume ) on the Letter from Hen Waller site, who was linking to an article entitled "Supermarkets and Service Stations Now Competing for Grain" written by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. That article can be found HERE.
More ammo for a push towards bicycling. As Holly at Letter from Hen Waller says, the soft pedaling approach to the hard truth (the increasing and insatiable need for internal combustion engine fuels in America) is a cop out. Yes, the efficiency of all personal vehicles needs to rise at least 20%, but we also MUST reduce demand, and fast. So as I like to say, RIDE A BIKE, WALK, TAKE A BUS/TRAIN, or maybe just STAY HOME!
As for my own car usage, it's mostly centered around my business in SF. It sucks for a commute. It's about 35 miles each way by bicycle, about 28-29 by car/motorcycle. Hopefully in the next week, Todd at Cleverchimp will send me my stokemonkey! Within a week of THAT, I should be commuting to work by BICYCLE! YAAAAAYYYY! Currently, I only drive when I can't ride, and every week I'm managing to make fewer trips by car. It's the best feeling I've had in years (well, since my son was born anyways).
Well, this is the first time I've ever posted a link to an online game. First time I've really played one! On a trackpad, Damn Birds is pretty damn challenging, but I think if I had my turbo mouse, I could kick some a$$. A lot of fun, especially if you've just been $hit on by a bird recently. You are a pissed-off statue with a gun and it's time to let the birds HAVE IT!
Wow. Not one for the kiddies, but you adults should get a good laugh or perhaps cringe out of this one. For full disclosure, I found this at webegeeky.com which of course belongs to the highly esteemed Chris Gleason.
I never saw this ad on TV, but then again I don't watch much (significantly less than an hour a week), and I have a feeling this got banned rather quickly.
Reposted from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition's newsletter. I kept meaning to post this as a link to a valuable resource, so finally, here it is:
MARIN COUNTY BICYCLE COALITION (MCBC), WEEKLY BULLETIN, July 6, 2006
POT HOLE OR ROAD DEBRIS GOT YOU DOWN?
Call someone who can help!
Riding on poorly maintained road facilities can be dangerous. When road shoulders and bike lanes are littered with debris or extremely rutted, cyclists are forced to take the lane for their safety. If drivers are not aware of cyclists' rights to be in the lane, road rage and reckless passing by drivers often occurs.
Save your own skin (and that of your cycling friends!) by reporting all road hazards that you encounter to the proper jurisdiction. Those of us who ride the roads are the best eyes available to see and ask for conditions to be made safer. No one wants to maintain a liability, so call the right person from the list below.
Belvedere - Bob Branz, 435-4744
Corte Madera - Dave Bracken, 927-5120
Fairfax - Debra Sue Johnson, 453-0291
Larkspur - Hamid Shamsapour, 927-5017
Mill Valley - Wayne Bush, 388-4033 x113
Novato - Glenn Young, 899-8963
Ross - Mel Jarjoura, 453-1453 x119
San Anselmo - Rabi Elias, 258-4623
San Rafael - Andy Preston, 485-3359
Sausalito - Tom Birse, 289-4176
Tiburon - Tony Iacopi, 435-7399
Marin County - George Buckle, 499-7512
Caltrans Southern Marin - Lynn Houston, 289-2951
Caltrans West Marin - 663-1176
North Bay - 707-762-6641
Golden Gate Bridge - firstname.lastname@example.org
This list is available year-round on the MCBC website's (www.marinbike.org) Resources page.
While looking for Andy Dick's "Presidential Speechalist" a humorous parody of a behind the scenes look at GWB's speech writer, my friend Rob and I came across THIS video. Someone spent a LOT of time piecing this one together, and it's definitely worth a watch. Max Headroom move over (sorry kiddies, some of you won't get that one), GWB's here to sing. Bono, don't worry, your day job is safe.
I've been a fan of Peter Gabriel's music for years. He's a fabulous musician and a brilliant, amazing performer. I've only seen him live twice, but his Growing Up tour was hands down the best live show I've ever seen. I've seen a lot of shows in my day, but the stage show for the growing up tour took everything I've ever seen to a whole new level. In concert, His crowd interaction was very genuine and made the show feel more intimate and personal than any show I'd ever been to. Blown away doesn't even begin to describe my experience.
Peter was instrumental in the creation of WOMAD.
Basically, I've got a lot of admiration for the guy.
Tonight I'm lying in bed reading my email while my wife is watching TV. I hear "Solsbury Hill", but a bastardized version, and look up to realize that cingular wireless has bought the rights to use the song in their ad for a "family talk" plan. Ugh. Cough, hack, sputter… the horror. I feel nauseous. As far as I know, Peter's never sold his soul to corporate interests, especially not to a souless corporation like cingular wireless, which is owned by the even more insidious AT&T. YUCK!!!!!!!
Maybe he's taking the profits and giving them to WOMAD. Maybe he's giving them to needy children. God, I hope so, because Solsbury Hill has always been a really beautiful song that held a lot of meaning for me, and it's been commodified, chopped up (and no, not in a good "remix" kind of way) and stripped of it's soul and meaning so some lame cellular company can have some background music for a meaningless ad that no one cares a rat's ass about. Dear lord I despise the corporate commodification of art.
I've been a member of the NRDC for several years now. I receive their onearth magazine and with the bevy of other reading material I inevitable have in front of me, it usually takes me a while to get around to reading through it. I noticed this little factoid they threw in the middle of an article called "Voyage of the Sorcerer", which in in of itself deserves a blog entry.
"200 state food-safety and public-health protections were removed in April  by the National Uniformity for Food Act. Since 2000 the American food industry has contributed more than $81 million to congressional campaigns."
onearth, Volume 28, Number 2, Pg. 9
"What" you might ask, "is the National Uniformity for Food Act"
You might need some time for this if you don't already know about it.
Read the speeches that were given in the House HERE
HERE'S what the Food Industry had to say about their victory.
HERE'S what the Organic Consumers Association had to say.
HERE'S what the Sierra Club had to say.
As far as I can gather, H.R 4167 makes states comply to federal law inre: food safety. Example: if California law says that the allowable level of mercury in fish is .05mg and the federal level is 5mg, the federal law supercedes the state law. There are other aspects to this law, but basically, consumers and states get the shaft. Guess who supports this law? Yeah, mostly republicans and the food industry. Who opposes? Democrats and Consumer advocacy and protection groups. Did it pass? UNFORTUNATELY, YES. Basically, the food industry is LESS accountable than before. Lovely. Of course, if most people knew about this when it was happening, they probably would have called their representatives and said "VOTE NO!". I mean, who wants to eat contaminated or dangerous food? I can't think of anyone (unless they were pathological or suicidal) that would want to eat things that could kill them or harm their children.
The word "DUH!" comes to mind here… and a double dose of that to me for not knowing about this when it was happening.
CURRENT MUSIC: The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers
Todd reviewed "An Inconvenient Truth" and now I know why I instinctively knew that I didn't need to see it.
1. It would just boil my blood
2. I already "get it" so I'd just be wasting my money seeing "news" about things I'm already aware of
3. Riding my bicycle is a far better way to spend my time than sitting in a movie theater
4. Al Gore is STILL a politician. Y'all who know me know how I feel about politicians: "if their mouths are open, their lying."
Please, please, please; if you read this blog, please go read Todd's article. So very very right on the money, and so very well written. The guy has a way with words that makes me green with envy. Now if he would just get me my Stokemonkey!
Sorry. Another one from darkreading.com. This article is about the vulnerability of the new ADS-B air traffic control system. A determined hacker (and I used to know a few in high-school) with a little bit of gear could reek all sorts of mayhem at the airport. What if Al-Queida paid a scrawny, pasty faced, socially impaired little hacker to crash planes for them? Sound farfetched? Think again. I'd like to see the FAA take this seriously, given that the last major weapon of mass destruction used in the U.S was a commercial airplane.
I found this article through rotten.com. The wing is a pretty cool thing, but people have already been doing this with wingsuits for years. Granted, wingsuits won't let you travel 120 miles, but they'll let you go a lot farther than a stadard parachute will, and you don't need a hard wing that you can't readily dispose of once you land in "enemy" territory. Either way, the thing looks like fun; hopefully some of the sky diving companies will get some of these so civilians can start using them!
Holy cow… I always knew China had some beautiful places, but I've never been there. My friend joe has taken several photos at one of the same places (the view from the top of the terraced rice paddy hills), but this guy has so many more. Check it out. BTW, I found a new kind of del.icio.us: it's called PixRat. As usual, my username is nollij, so you can look for the photos I find on the internet there as well as finding my links in del.icio.us.
"The consequences for the U.S. are disturbing. This nation spends 2 1/2 times as much as any other country per person on health care. Yet middle-aged Americans are in far worse health than their British counterparts, who spend less than half as much and practice less intensive medicine, according to a new study. "The investment in health care in the U.S. is just not paying off," argues Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance & Management at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. Speaking not for attribution, the head of health care at one of America's largest corporations puts it more bluntly: "There is a massive amount of spending on things that really don't help patients, and even put them at greater risk. Everyone that's informed on the topic knows it, but it is such a scary thing to discuss that people are not willing to talk about it openly."
John Carey, Business Week Article
The previous quote came from a long email that my chiropractor sent me. It's quite interesting. I've had my doubts about the traditional medical field for a long time: nearly every time I've had a "second opinion", I've gotten a completely different diagnosis. So who's right? It's hard to know. Suffice to say, I'm starting to just listen to my own body and follow my own instincts. It's harder when you've got a 2 year old that's hardly speaking and can't really tell you what's making him so cranky: it is the runny nose, a sore throat, chest tightness, sinus pressure? "Owwweee" and pointing is about all the feedback I get. He's been on antibiotics twice since he was born: once for an eye infection and once for apparent "ear" infection. The ear infection incident ended with us spending a lot of time inside keeping him out of the sun with what MIGHT have been an allergic reaction to the amoxicillan. Without full allergy testing, we won't know. Did I mention we were on a vacation in Hawaii? mmkay? mmkay. Suffice to say, my chiro mentioned that she had been able to head off all of her own daughters ear infections when she was a child. She's worked miracles on me at times when no one else could, though there have been times when her ministrations have been effective for a few hours (mainly for my most recent back troubles: my stomach & back muscles have gotten WEAK, mainly b/c I've been babying them since my L4 herniation.)
Kai's been adjusted by my chiropractor only once, but as for the current issues, I think we're going back: both of us. My eustachian tubes feel clogged: my throat is raw and feels like I've been pouring battery acid down it for 5 days. I've been taking up to 4 ibuprofen at a time to stem the pain so I can sleep, but lying down makes all my symptoms worse. So sleeping sucks... GRRR! I won't even mention the snoring that has been a bi-product of all this, and we won't talk about how the it annoys my ultra-light sleeping wife and wakes her up everytime I do it. Suffice to say, we're not sleeping in the same bed until I get healed.
Kipchoge at Xtracycle.com is responsible for bringing this to my attention. Abe Books has been around for 10 years, and appears to have a bigger stock than amazon. The REAL one-up they hold though is helping keep the little guy in business. See the Where To Buy Books entry for Kipchoge's take on it.
Me? I'm all for keeping the little guys in business. That's not to say I never buy from Amazon, but cheese & rice, do I really want Amazon to be my only option? (I think the answer is somewhat self-explanatory)
My friend Rob sent me THIS link. Like a fractal, only using images… pretty damn cool. I don't know where he found it, otherwise I'd give credit. Enjoy!
CURRENT MUSIC: SolarCraft Services dancing a jig on my roof as they repair the damage the storms of Feb/March caused
Leila sent me this link, and I think it's a pretty cool idea. I know that other people do it as well, but it's nice to have resources right?
I'm partial to the NRDC, but you can choose your own favorite charity and give while you get!
I haven't used this yet, so if you've got feedback, please post it here as I'm interested to here more from people who've used it.
As many of you living in the Bay Area may know, May is National Bike Month, and today was the 12th annual Bay Area Bike to Work Day. I mentioned this a few weeks ago… anyways, I helped man the Novato Energizer Station, hosted by Lorrie and Curtis of ClassCycle. Between 6:50 (I was LATE!) and 8:35 we counted 85 riders. Some stopped to chat or grab an orange, (artfully cut in Japanese restaurant style by Curtis), some waved or spoke greetings/praise/thanks as they passed, and a few ignored us completely. The most humorous comments were from the car drivers who couldn't overcome their guilt and felt compelled to yell out to us why they weren't riding. Most common were "I have to travel 40 miles and get up at 5am", and this seemed to be the excuse of contractors/painters/tradesmen. It's valid: very few people in the world have the physical prowess to travel 80+ miles a day JUST IN TRANSIT, not to mention the fact that at 15 mph, 80 miles takes over 5 hours! That's a long time to spend on a bike everyday: it would take a true passion for cycling and a LOT of commitment. THEN you'd have to figure out a way to carry all the tools of your trade. I see a lot of "work" trucks driving around with about as much as I could carry on my xtracycle. Then again, I see just as many driving around loaded to the GILLS with ladders, tools, paint, lumber, etc. But I digress…
My point is that most people drive less than 10 miles to work. Maybe not so in the Bay Area where housing prices are so wacko that many many people who work in the service industry travel long distances to work in communities they could never afford to live in. Marin is a good example: if you make less than $25/hr, you'd have a damn hard time buying a place to live in Marin. I know of VERY few jobs in the service industry that make that much, and most make a lot less. Once again I digress, but the whole idea of having to work 40 or 50 miles from home because of this kind of displacement says a lot about car culture: it's damn hard to change b/c it's so entrenched, for so many reasons.
The most inspiring moment of this morning was talking to Bicycle Bob. Bob is 75 or 77 years old (can't remember exactly… and I'm the young one, HA!) and rides his bike everyday. He's a pretty spry septuagenarian if I do say so myself; he just did a big cancer benefit ride up in Sonoma somewhere. He rides a low-end older Marin hybrid if memory serves, and I think I heard Curtis say that he's got almost 30k miles on it! FOLKS, that's not 3000, that's 30,000!!! WOW. He has great stories about riding bicycles back in the 40's in Marin… it's funny to hear about Marin when you could hunt through much of it, there were no trail laws and the land development for housing was a fraction of what it is today. It's almost unimaginable to me; very romantic and wild sounding to say the least. I was enthralled, and very inspired to keep up my riding. Fortunately, bicycling is something you can do until you can't see anymore… then it gets a little more interesting.
Other memorable moments:
- Black guy, late 20's maybe early 30's, driving a BIG van, turning right from Nave Dr overpass onto Alameda Del Prado to get on 101 S yells out when he sees the Bike To Work Day sign (my paraphrase, not verbatem); "HEY! THAT'S A GREAT IDEA! I'M SICK AND TIRED OF DRIVING THIS PIECE OF JUNK AND SITTING IN TRAFFIC WASTING MY MONEY BURNING FUEL… TOO BAD I DRIVE FOR A LIVING!"
- Guy on nice hardtail MTB w/ front suspension dressed in all choice MTB gear comes flying northbound off the bike path, slows down long enough to spew some barely intelligible rap/rant about G.W Bush (the "Bush" part was the only part we could actually understand), then says "Hey thanks for being here man" or something to that effect and speeds off. We all kind of looked at each other and went "what did he say?" "…the only thing I caught was "Bush"". Dude must have had a HEAVY wake-n-bake sesh thir morning *smirk*
- The guy who "used" to run the energizer station where we were came by and talked my ear off for about 10-15 minutes. Nice guy, pretty smart too, but a a little heavy on the one-upmanship for that early in the morning. It was funny actually: I kept trying to throw in some playful banter but he never rose to the bait. He's a good guy and I imagine a serious and caring schoolteacher. His wife came by about 30 minutes later on her litespeed and got a sack/snack and asked us if her husband had talked our ears off… I couldn't contain myself and starting cackling… she knew the score. *grin*
- The accountant/HR woman from Marin Bikes came by and had a hilarious story about how the IJ did an article on her, put her photo in BIG (which was a funny story too) and the TORTURE they put her through to get the right photo for the article.
It was wonderful to be a part of Bike To Work Day… it'll be nice to smile and wave to the other commuters out there when I'm on the road. It makes it feel a little more friendly out there when you see a few kindred souls cycling!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, I did ride my bike to the energizer station. I also delivered all the powerbars for the musette bags from central Novato to Fairfax on my bike, helped them assemble energizer station kits for the stations in Marin and then rode Novato's station supplies back to ClassCycle in Novato. It was one of the heaviest loads I've carried so far (and certainly the largest): the Novato Fairfax trip cargo load was about 60 lbs and the return trip was about 45lbs. Total distance for the delivery was about 32 miles.
Ride loaded indeed:
Oh, did I mention that the my rig pictured above withOUT the Cliff Bar Boxes weighs about 52 pounds? Did I mention I'm not the lightest I've ever been (hovering around 190 at the moment)? Did I mention that I did Freitas Pkwy/Fawn Drive crossover route with this load? Yeah..mmkay? mmkay. Whipping my legs back into shape tout de suite!
This is a great ARTICLE and I REQUIRE that any one I know who wants to buy their bicycle at Costco, WalMart, KMart, Sears, etc. READ THIS ARTICLE FIRST. Not to be a drama queen, but it could save your life. A poorly / incorrectly assembled B.S.O (bicycle shaped object) can put you in the hospital, and who needs that? (The term BSO belongs to Mike McGettigan, the outspoken owner of Trophy Bikes in Philadelphia, PA)
Also, the local reputable bicycle shop needs your business. If you can't afford a new bike from them, buy as good a used bike as you can, and have them check it out before you buy: keep your money in YOUR community, not at corporate HQ in some far distant state!
Kent's Bike Blog: WeWeWr: Trail of Tears
Awesome Article: you'll feel like you're there! For you Seattle-dwellers, you'll feel right at home (assuming your ride a bike around your city once in a while, or more *smirk*)
I couldn't have said it better myself, so I won't. I want to put a Stokemonkey on my xtracycle bike. I love to ride, but I've had several "purists" scoffingly question my desire for a "pedal assist". I've tried to get my point across concisely and effective but have largely failed. BTW, none of the "purist" commentators ride a 56 pound (standard weight with my "standard" load) bike: they all ride sub 20lb bikes that can't carry much more than the rider and a energy bar! Oh yeah, and none of them weigh 195lb either!
It's so nice to have a bulletproof answer for a flippant question! Thanks Todd!
"Isn’t it cheating to put a motor on a bicycle?"
Only if you use it for trips that you could enjoy, or learn to enjoy, on your own power alone. We think you should use a regular bike for those trips. A worse form of cheating is using a multi-ton vehicle for trips that Stokemonkey makes easy, while flattering yourself that you are too strong and pure a bicyclist to use a motor.
Todd Fahrner, http://cleverchimp.com/products/stokemonkey/faq/#iictpa
I spend a considerable amount of my time online reading other people's blog's: Go Figure. If you haven't seen the pattern yet, I'll just spell it out for you: I love riding bicycles, bicycling culture and the possibilities it presents for solving oil addiction. One of my favorite blogs to read is TODD FAHRNER'S. If you look back, you'll see he's quite possibly the most referenced blog on my site. Shame on me for not having his links up in my sidebar: a oversight soon to be rectified. A recent post on his blog linked to an article that talks about bicycling and it's affects on cities. I like it, so check it out.
This was the word of the day from wordsmith.org on March 10th. I know, I know, today is May 12, but I get behind in my email! This is such an appropriate word for my blog! Thanks Anu!
weltschmerz (VELT-shmerts) noun
World weariness; pessimism, apathy, or sadness felt at the difference between physical reality and the ideal state.
[From German Weltschmerz, from Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain).]
-Anu Garg (gargATwordsmith.org)
"I hate being told to have a good time! I'll feel the weltschmerz if I want to."
Mari Sasano; Things to Do Today; Edmonton Journal (Canada); Dec 3, 2005.
I haven't posted in over a week… ouch. There's so much to see and experience and think about in this world, it's amazing that anyone has time to blog. Nevertheless, here I am with a new posting!
As some of you know, I'm fond of wearing my utilikilts. According to Utilikilts, "The Utilikilt is a superior tool for changing minds, and should be used in lieu of guns for that purpose." I can't agree more, though I do enjoy shooting firearms and appreciate their wilderness survival qualities.
Every month I get the dispatch from the Utilikilts company in the form of their newsletter. May's newsletter had a link to this article about corporate personhood and the 28 Words. I've read "Unequal Protection: The Rise Of Corporate Dominance And The Theft Of Human Rights" by Thom Hartmann, at least most of it, and most times I got so angry and frustrated, I'd have to put it down after about 10 pages. I had to skip to the back in order to gather some hope: the book is pretty accessable in terms of it's readability, but the content has a tendency to boil my blood. If you haven't read it and are interested, I have a second copy that is my loaner and my goal is to circulate it to anyone who's willing to read it. I'll even pay to ship it to you!
The idea of the 28 Words gives me hope. I think the idea that it will take 15 years for implementation may be realistic, but I'm not sure we have that much time to f*ck around: I'd like to see that timetable moved up to 5 years. 15 years from now I'll be 46, more than half my life will theoretically be over at that point. Corporate abuse has been getting steadily worse for the last 100 years: how much longer can we sustain it before a collapse occurs? I invite your thoughts dear readers.
CURRENT MUSIC: Neil Young: Living With War
Wow. We should all be so lucky to have someone as eloquent as Moyers speak at our own funeral. Reading Moyer's words about leads me to the conclusion that everyone can learn a little something from Coffin's life! A lovely read with a lot to chew on. Click the post title or HERE.
Thanks to Carla Steinberg for this link.
This is quite possibly my favorite breakdown EVER of why cars are lame. Sure, driving fast on the racetrack is fun, but bicycles truly are the superior vehicle. Hopefully the things that MCBC (Marin County Bicycle Coalition) is doing to try and get the old tunnels open and create that bicycle/pedestrian corridor from Sonoma to Sausalito will be completed before I die. As they say at Xtracycle, "Lord Grant me the courage to sell my car(s)". And to think I recently bought a diesel vehicle so I could run it on biodiesel that I'll be making myself: as much I think this is better than any hybrid or gasoline car, I know that it's still grossly, rudely inefficient in comparison to my bike. [SIGH]
Kudos to Todd at Cleverchimp once again for this link. His post is here.
BTW: May is National Bike Month and May 18th is the 12th annual SF Bay Area Bike To Work Day. Please please please, if you read this blog, please consider riding your bike to work on May 18th if you've never done it before. You JUST might see what I'm talking about here. Those of you who already do, keep up the good work, and watch out for those Cell-phone-distracted-SUV-drivers.
Final Thought: Why is Bush so oil addicted when he claims to like riding bicycles so much? Someone want to explain this one for me?
A nicely done little video of a bike move. George and Louise, eat your heart out!
If anyone in my area is moving and would be willing to do a bike move, I'd be honored and stoked if you'd let me lend my Xtracycle and reluctant friends to the cause.
Once again, thanks to Todd at Cleverchimp.com for the link.
This is one of the better articles I've read about riding bicycles in the Los Angeles area. Ouch.. and to my readers (I know at least one of you lives in L.A), do you ever ride you bikes in L.A? Now try again: how many ride to commute, ever? From the picture the article paints, Los Angeles county is an abysmal place to commute on a bike; and I thought Marin / SF were bad with all the SUV drivers on their cell phones!
Credit for finding this article goes to CleverChimp's Blog Entry
Do yourselves a favor. If you've never commuted to work on a bicycle, try it. It's eye opening, and it will change forever the way you treat bicyclists on the road.
My brother gavin is autistic. I've watched my family's struggle to deal with it. It's never easy. The question we've always asked is: was this preventable?
There have been some studies that show that autism is linked to an increased level of heavy metals in the body, particularly mercury. There has been a huge increase in the 20 years in the occurence of autism and related syndromes. Some reports link this increase to highly prevalent use of thimerosol in child vaccinations. You can imagine how terrifying this is for me as a parent.
The following article reports of the recent passage of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREPA) by our head moron. Basically it gives carte blanche to Big Pharma to use thimerosol in vaccinations, and if proof is ever definitively found that thimerosol IS the cause of autism, big pharma can't be sued for it. Makes you want to sell those stocks doesn't it? Ethics & Business; mutually exclusive ideas.
It makes one long for vigilante / poetic justice.
One final note: thanks to Skip for the link to this page. Another one I missed at commondreams.org.
Today's site of the day comes from Australia by way of Ian McKendry, a friend of my mom's. I know, I know, another sobering and critical look at the powers that be. Still, you should READ IT. Why? The old saying goes: "Ignorance of the law is not a defense." If you don't know what's going on, crowing impotently once it's been done in your name is wasted energy; I should know. I've been guilty of this behavior once or twice.
Being pissed off all the time: it's bad for your blood pressure and makes you unpleasant to be around (ask my wife about this sometime inre: me). HOWEVER, indignation is the feeling I get nearly every time I delve into the world of politricks. So prepare to swallow your indignation; this article had mine bubbling like a bad case of indigestion.
Religious Icon "The Virgin Mary" has had more than her fair share of appearances. She's appeared in a grilled cheese sandwich, in a water stain under a bridge, on a pancake, on a bathroom door, ahhh hell with it: just go to yoism and find yourself ROTFLYAO. The Penn & Teller video is the funniest: I had to muffle my laughter in my arm so I wouldn't wake up Kai.
My friend Bart works as a cabinet & furniture maker. He found King Kong in a piece of wood. Dear Log, Sweet Cheese & Rice, hallelujah!
Peter Jackson, eat your heart out. You're remake has been immortalized in wood… whoops… damn, I think we just used it for kindling. JK!
What can I say? Humans are hard wired for pareidolia. Damn skippy. Soon to come; my own scary moment of pareidolia in my home office: A DEMON?
Today's site of the day comes from my friend Denise. While looking up constipation on company time, she found this site. As I am the master of poopsnake, this site is right up my alley. ;P There's some very interesting and funny content here (and quite a bit of it), so give it a look. Thanks Denise!
A while back my friend Johnny posted a piece on his site TimeForSushi about how his cell phone managed to survive a trip under the wheels of a DeSoto TaxiCab. I was impresssed, but I feel he's been one-up'ed at this point. This guy's laptop is by most people's reckoning, ruined. Hard to believe that it still works, not to mention the fact that the airport card is still functioning.
Just for fun, here's a picture of a another laptop that got run over.
An apology for the lack of postings lately. I have at least 4 new blogs postings on their way this week, so stay tuned for new content!
To give credit where credit is due, today's site of the day was found by Leila. I got my first banner from these guys: my site is certified (at least as of about noon today -2006.03.28-) only 32% evil.. not bad considering the content of most of the posts that are up here.
Their site is my first real foray into Finnish websites... so far the Finnish have a lot going for them IMHO.
Check it out HERE
Dear sweet cheese and rice... I wanted to go down and help the burners who are down in Pearlington working to rebuild the place and help the folks who live there put their township back in order. Alas, I severely herniated my 4th lumbar disc about 4 years ago and it picked a couple of weeks ago to act up. It's bad; pain every morning, sometimes so bad I can't put on my shoes without stretching for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes at night I go to bed and pray that sleep takes me; the sciatica dances it's way up and down my hips and legs with every little movement and the dull ache in my lower back grows in short stabs, feeling much like a raging pack of angry leprechans are doing a drunken whirling stomp on my spine. Other times it stays at bay, a dull ache, nothing out of the ordinary. So I wait, I bide my time, I do my sit-ups and stretches and strengthening exercises and try to get back healthy enough to head down to Pearlington and lend a hand.
Enough kvetching on my part; check out what the Burners have been doing in Pearlington: they're still there, they haven't left.
I may join them yet.
I don't want to forget Johnny here... his site is timeforsushi and his wit and humor are priceless. I'm not so fond of the colors (my problem, not his), but I love the shout-out function on his site... live chat with no annoying fluff. Johnny is up to his usual tricks… he's been lurking around the bay area just long enough for me to hear about it, but not long enough for me to catch up with him before he bails again! Grrrrr.........
Found at Chris Gleason's WeBeGeeky, this article is about the Afar Triangle (the western most part of africa) and it's incredible geological transformations. Africa is going to lose one of it's horns! Check it out HERE. I wonder if this means new beaches and new surf spots as well?
I see a lot of mildly funny things on the internet.. some get a smile, some get a chuckle, but to have to muffle your laughter so you don't wake up your sleeping kid… well, it has to be damn funny. Read the Rat Patrol article, then read THIS. The deadpan of the lake magazine article after the sarcastic tone of the Chicagofreakbike article was what really got me laughing… man I love bike culture.
Wow... 3 posts in one day. I keep finding stuff that is worth passing on... though I'm hoping for something funny or positive SOON! Being homeless isn't much fun... I get my view of the streets from a guy named Michael Brown who writes his blog on public computers. He's homeless, but until recently, had a place to live. His insight into street life is well... illuminating. You can check out his blog @ http://view-sidewalk.blogspot.com/ . I'll place his blog in my blogroll as well so you don't have to refer back to this post. The article talks about Houston's recent ordinances that make life EVEN HARDER for the homeless living in Houston. Lame lame LAME! Michael Brown's post that I got the link from is HERE.
Reading Michael Brown's blog has got me thinking: what can one do when one sees a homeless person panhandling? I often want to help, but I don't always. Sometimes I feel like it would be better if instead of giving money I stopped and drove the person somewhere they needed to go, fed them a meal, talked to them, found out where they were living... listened basically. Maybe there might be something I could do to help them get on their feet. If even one person in a thousand actually did this, there would no doubt be a lot fewer homeless people living on the street.
Sandra Day O'Connor is no longer a supreme court justice which means the gloves are off folks. She can say what she likes now. Check it out.. THIS was the content of her speech at Georgetown University. I think we probably lost a good thing when we lost O'Connor... not that we had a choice. She stepped down to care for her husband in his failing health. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on O'Connor... she may have more to say and we'd be stupid not to listen.
I am and have always been a supporter of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. This article made my mouth drop open. Why I'm still surprised by enormous hypocrisy, I don't know. THIS was written in 2000, but it's still relevant: the supreme court could very well vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. South Dakota already has. Watch out. And to pay credit where credit is due, I got this link from Reddit.com. I heard about Reddit from Kevin Kelly's kk.org.
This is a great article. Please please read it.
For those who want a preface: Rachel Corrie was an american activist killed by an american bulldozer in Israel. Katherine Viner wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times (republished by the Common Dreams Newscenter) which lambasts the New York Theater Workshop for canceling the production of "My Name is Rachel Corrie". Will the U.S ever see the production of this play? Maybe in California... maybe not. I'd love to see it.. and that's saying something, as I'm not usually down for theater productions.
Click the title or HERE
Wow... Mark Morford of the SF Bay Guardian pulls no punches. This is a pretty bleak article and if I didn't have a beautiful happy son, I'd swallow this whole. It's still an interesting article, though opinionated. Read it HERE
Burners are good people for the most part. The burners who've been volunteering on the Gulf Coast and in Pearlington have taken the Ethos of Burning Man and brought it out into the world. It's a beautiful thing. They are entirely funded by donations and by their own cash. Many people have opened their wallets to help support what they're doing. You can do this by sending money via Paypal, via check/money order, or you can buy some schwag HERE. Also, there are other things they need that you can donate if you have them.
I've been so inspired by these folks that I'm going to be heading down to Pearlington in the next week or so (hopefully) to add my $.02 of help. I will attempt to blog my experiences there when I get home so stay tuned. If you're interested in getting your hands dirty with some pretty awesome people and making a real difference, check out Burners Without Borders. If you can't get away, toss them some cash, they need it.
THIS map shows where they are right now.
I've always been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut Jr,; just like fine wine, the man just gets better with age. My grandpa Skip forwarded this article on to me.. though I'm a member of CommonDreams.org, I'd missed it. It's excerpted from A Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush’s America. BTW, in case anyone ever looks at the link, please notice I DIDN'T use amazon's link of the book. "WHY" you ask?
- Because I worked for this bookstore (Book Passage) and even though much of the bureaucracy I had to put up with in working there irritated the hell out of me, it's an INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE, and many of the EXPERIENCED staff there KNOW their shit. They can actually HELP you. Of course, the younger staff has traditionally had a much higher turnover rate, so if you walk in to BP, look for the oldest employees you can find. Chances are, they've been there for at least 3-5 years, some as long as 10-15 years. The turnover rate has been due to management issues for the most part, as far as I've seen.
- Amazon gets enough business.. they don't need to get it ALL. I don't know about you, but I'll trade selection for service any day. That's not to say Amazon has bad service, it's just that buying something as personal as a book (and many don't feel this way, but I do) should be a visceral, hands on experience. I say "personal" because a book is something you're going to spend some time with, get to know, become intimate with. It's kind of like buying a bicycle or a piece of clothing... it's something you need to hold, touch, feel and grok before you buy it... I dunno.. maybe I'm old fashioned sometimes. That's not to say that I haven't bought things from Amazon and online in general. Online shopping is my preference for the most part. If there's a book that I already KNOW for 100% certain that I want, I've been known to get it at Amazon from time to time. Just don't forget the INDEPENDENTS!
- Independents are the reason that many of the great books that have been published are there in the first place! Independent bookstores give authors a chance when big publishers often won't. They are willing to take chances on people and invest in their community. They have readings, author events, community events. True independent bookstores also keep their MONEY in the community, which is not something that can't be said of places like Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble. Their money goes back to a corporate HQ somewhere... straight out of your community. Oh sure, they pay taxes like anyone else, but other than that, the money is gone. Sure, they create jobs as well, probably more than an independent could (though there are some notable exceptions e.g Powell's in Portland, OR), but you have to look at the pay, benefits, working conditions, employee satisfaction, and turnover rate as well.
Look, I got way off subject here, but I have an inkling that KVJ would agree with me here: support you local independent bookstore, and if they've all been driven off, try the library! Remember those? The LIBRARY? BIBLIOTHÈQUE? BIBLIOTECA? BIBLIOTHEK? Don't feel bad.. I haven't been into a library in... well, actually I can't remember the last time I was in the library. Probably when I was in college... so... like... 8 years at least... sheesh! If you want to be super ultra cool in my book, ride your BICYCLE to the library... no fossil fuels, and virtually no consumption required.. though it might start making some people think you were a COMMUNIST... what with all the NON-CONSUMPTION and SHARING of ideas (smirk)
Read the article, it's awesome.
If ever there was a time to impeach the entire Bush administration, it's now. That and an instant repeal of the Patriot Act. What a crock of SHIT!
I found this link though another blogger member, killtown.
Check him out at killtown.blogspot.com .
Click on the article title or HERE
My son cracks me up. Yesterday at the park he was running up the play structure and DIVING down the tube slide headfirst at full speed. His dismounts got progressively weirder: on his last couple of trys he would pull himself out until his head was on the ground and then throw his arms out to the side. It looked like a circus act, and it was hilarious. His other new trick is running down the grassy hill and throwing himself down with the intent of making it look like he tripped. I've dubbed him "stunt clown" at this point, borrowing the name from the clothing manufacturer.
Back in November 2005, Bushgreenwatch.org published this report. In a nutshell, the EPA wanted to cut it's reporting of toxic emissions by manufacturing facilities to once every 2 years. Hmm... seems like yet another giveaway to corporate special interests. I don't know about you, but this REALLY puts my hackles up.
In the January issue of bushgreenwatch.com they talk about how the opposition to this proposal was surging.. YEAH! Read the article HERE. The comment period is over at this point, and I'm hoping the EPA took the hint. Keep an eye on this folks: increased toxicity could be coming to an area near you, and your warning may come 2 years... too late!
Every man on horseback is an arrogant man, however gentle he may be on foot. The man in the automobile is one thousand times as dangerous. I tell you, it will engender absolute selfishness in mankind if the driving of automobiles becomes common. It will breed violence on a scale never seen before. It will mark the end of the family as we know it, the three or four generations living happily in one home. It will destroy the sense of neighborhood and the true sense of Nation. It will create giantized cankers of cities, false opulence of suburbs, ruinized countryside, and unhealthy conglomerations of specialized farming and manufacturing. It will make every man a tyrant. —R.A. Lafferty
I've been thinking a lot about car culture vs. bike culture. Jessi and I own 3 cars between the two of us, and I'm beginning to look at them in a whole new light: an almost unnecessary evil. Don't get me wrong, I like to go fast. I enjoy the act of driving a car when there's no traffic. What I've come to realize though my readings and my ruminations inside my own head is that car culture isn't culture at all. There's nothing very friendly about a car, there's very little about it that promotes community (and if you counter this with car enthusiast clubs, I'm going to laugh b/c the number of people you're talking about compared to the total of car owners is FRACTIONAL) and act of driving often brings out the worst parts of me. I don't feel BETTER when I drive somewhere... with the rare exception of a drive on a deserted country road, it's about GETTING there, not the journey. This is diametrical to the experience of traveling on a bike. It's ALL ABOUT the journey. I felt awake, alive, and connected when I ride my bike. My stress level drops and I feel happy. Granted, I am fortunate enough to have a nice bike to ride and the means to upkeep and upgrade it. Still, bicycles can be had for next to nothing: people throw away working bicycles all the time. The problem isn't getting a hold of a bike, or even being in shape to ride. We are car culture, and every institution we have is geared toward car culture. Our streets, buildings, businesses, schools (with a few exceptions), and government all are firmly and heavily entrenched in car culture. TV, Radio, Movies and even the internet are all heavily influenced by car culture. I'm starting to see this for what it is... and I feel like I've been walking (or more appropriately; driving) around blind since I got my drivers license. To quote Todd from the entry on his blog that inspired this post:
August 1st, 2005 at 8:30 am
Thanks Paul. I just found this:
Science fiction author R. A. Lafferty wrote a seminal short story back in the late 1960s called “Interurban Queen.” It describes an alternative world in which certain wealthy American investors chose to put their resources into light rail instead of the automobile back at the turn of the previous century. It’s enough to make you cry for what could have been. If you can’t find it under the author’s name, try looking for it in an anthology called Orbit 8, edited by Damon Knight.
I’ll edit the post to correct the attribution date.
It does make me want to cry sometimes. Honestly, I'm ashamed of how little I've done in my lifetime to make some sort of difference in the downward trajectory of human culture. I feel like the older I get, the more I "wake up", and the more there is to do. As a father, there's a whole set of values I feel the need to teach my son inre: stewardship of the earth. There's not nearly enough of it going on, and that needs to change or we're headed for an extinction level event; nature's forcible cough that ejects humankind from the ranks of the living. I've lost all faith in religion, though I find it somwhat comforting to believe in a "higher" power. If there was a higher power though, it's not paying any attention to us. I think our perception as humans is still too small and limited to understand what's really going on.
Yeah, I just wandered out of bounds again.. thankfully no one edits me but me, so I apologize to anyone who might actually read this.
The assault on the environment by the Bush Administration continues unabated on all fronts. The National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) has been opposing the rewrite of the nation park management policies that Paul Hoffman (deputy assistant secretary of the Interior) spearheaded. The rewrite has the potential to open a panoply of new abuses of the already beleaguered national parks. Oy vey.
Hoffman was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, who was in turn nominated by the Bush administration. Hoffman also used to work for Dick Cheney.. you see where this is leading don't you? The funny part is that the DOI website claims that Hoffman is a "conservationist". I know how some of these good ol' boys out of Montana and Wyoming operate. Their idea of "conservation" is making sure there's enough fuel in their snowmobile to make it to the "pit stop" aka place to drink booze and pee. Now mind you, I'm not against drinking, peeing or even hunting (as long as it's not apex predator hunting or trophy hunting). But drinking and riding any kind of motorized vehicle is just plain stupid. Just because trees don't make erratic lane changes doesn't make it safe to operate a snowmobile with 40oz of Schlitz pumping through your veins. But I digress.
If the rewrite is successful, folks like the NPCA and the NRDC (National Resouce Defense Council) are going to have an even harder time protecting our National Parks and wild lands from abuse. Should the rights of the few outweigh the rights of the many? Is this case, my answer is yes. The argument that "hey, you're a rock climber and you use national parks: what if they wanted to restrict you from climbing?" doesn't fly. Although there have been closures for climbers in some national parks, it has mostly been due to either protecting nesting raptors or because of a government giveaway to corporate special interests! Climbers in general tend to be thoughtful, methodical people as the act of climbing is a deliberate and methodical process. We also realize the beauty of the places we visit: what else would we want to get up so high to see? So if there's a good reason for me not to be climbing in an area, I would gladly yell at any idiots who ignored the closure. Hell, I'd even be tempted to cut their ropes if it meant protecting raptors, though I probably wouldn't. I'm digressing again, but suffice to say that I take the Burning Man ethos of "Leave No Trace" very very seriously, ESPECIALLY when I'm in an environmentally pristine or sensitive place.
Somehow I ended up defending myself here... Cheese & Rice, this was supposed to be a COUNTER-ATTACK on the National Park Management Policy rewrite! Ok, Back on target folks...
If you have a minute, visit the NPCA SITE, check out the text of the rewrite and decide for yourself.
Alito would support President Bush's drive for unchecked executive power, which poses a grave threat to our basic rights.
Alito has fought for full immunity for administration officials who illegally spy on Americans, and Bush stands accused of just that crime.
Alito believes in a theory of the super-powerful "unitary executive" that would justify Bush's attempts to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial or charges.
Alito even opposed Morrison v. Olson which gave Congress the power to appoint a special counsel, that the president cannot just fire at will, to investigate presidential scandals.
These changes would not only threaten our rights in the short term under Bush, they would put our freedoms in jeopordy for decades to come.
I wrote a letter to the editor at the SF Chronicle. It probably won't get published (slightly inflamatory), but who knows, stranger things have happened. Here's my letter in case it doesn't get published. It's just such a masterful piece of writing *snicker*
Subject: No Alito!
Inre: Jesse H. Holland's "Alito Confirmation Seems All but Assured". The confirmation of Samuel Alito would be the killing stroke for personal freedoms in America. Judge Alito's stand on Morrison vs. Olson is the best example of this: the man isn't looking out for the interests of American citizens. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, future "letters to the editor" like this one could get you locked in a cell deep in the "Ministry of Love", never to be seen again. To the Dems: please attempt the filibuster, it may be our only hope.
Kudos to those of you who get the "Ministry of Love" reference. Those of you who don't, go here: 1984
Click the title of this post or HERE to read the AP Article I was responding to.