Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Pink Bike Lady

Many thoughts, no time. But did read a marvelous story, found via EcoVelo, of the pink bike lady. According to the comments section, not only has this woman travelled the world via her (heavy) bike, but she is a daily commuter as well. I just liked the story and the way the writer thinks she is a nut and then realizes that she is "serious." Still pondering that, and gender showing here, admit that I think of "serious" as a guy word, when used to indicate an intense and/or highly competent level of doing something.

Also found The Practical Pedal, a free print/online bike commuter magazine out of Bozman, MT. It doesn't look as if they put out a summer issue this year, but the blog is updated. Good stuff and a sense of humor. Alas, I've never been to Bozman, but had the pleasure of spending about six weeks living in Missoula one summer. I went all around that town on a bike found in a friend's garage. Good memories, there. Great town. There was a wonderful bookstore (I still have a bookmark from it) called Freddy's Feed and Read, gone now. Memo to self: find and scan in bookmark. I know where it is: in a copy of Janet Kauffman's Places in the World a Woman Can Walk, which I bought there. Now, where is the book ? It really is amazing that I can remember the places where I've purchased books: the town, the stores, the light, what the shelving looked like. Needless to say, BNB (Barnes & Noble, Borders) purchases all run together in the way airports do during a long trip. Rambling here, going to bed.

I need some serious sleep. And I'm serious about sleeping.
PS. For those of you who cannot stand the anticipation, I bought the silver teapot. It has arrived. Photo soon.

You Go, Girl

I was going to write a short sentence excusing myself from blogging these past few days due to sunshine, sushi, and Campari over ice. I came across this: "Armed 85 Year Old Woman Makes Intruder Call Cops". I grew up in a house where four rifles hung on a gun rack above the piano, where I learned to target shoot by the time I was five (a skill long gone, though the cute photo of me in my fluffy pink winter jacket holding the gun endures), yet I do not own a gun, think that too many people have too many guns and that said guns aren't meant for hunting, and yet... my first thought was approval and admiration. I don't know if I admire more the fact that she held the burglar at bay or that she had the guts to own a gun in the first place. They say you should never carry anything for protection that can be turned against you, but then, you can be strangled with a shoelace. Well done, Leda Smith. You go girl. Remember to reload.

Same to this woman, 93, who actually fired at ---but missed--- a burglar in her house. In their infinite wisdom, the CA police will not charge the woman. Well...yeah.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Biking and What Matters

The post on AWBs (Academics Who Bike) has brought some new readers (hello there !) and some delightful conversation. I also must stop watching the Olympics and go to bed before two. So, I was visiting Post Secret while waiting through a boring stretch of volley ball, and came across this postcard, which I've appropriated (after properly referencing, you should kindly note).

My derrière is fine (I've been told), but a sentiment and a benefit not to be overlooked. And a new clue for how to spot an AWB on campus.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stolen Manifesto

Found at Wheel Revolution. Evoked forgotten time when this was posted on my refrigerator. (Blogs are the new fridge doors ? In some cases, dear reader.) Some specifics are for men. Who cares ? Goes with the current career change/biking/meaning of life themes on my mind now. I love "Be joyful though you have considered all the facts."

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Academics Who Bike

AWB's, we'll call them, because BA's or AB's (Biking Academics/ Academics Biking) takes away their Ph.D.'s. I wonder if this is a new phenomenon, or if academic types who already have blogs (and bikes) will be starting up new, subsidiary blogs to accommodate their interest in bike culture and bike commuting. (I should add that I mean "subsidiary" in the business sense, not in the sense of "less important.") On the few biking blogs that I read, Bike Commuters and Bike Portland, a large number of the bike commuters, as was humorously remarked on Bike Commuters, seem to be IT people, not a few of whom work at universities. So it is good to see some from the academic side with biking blogs: John, of Blog Meridian, who has been known to drop by these pages, now writes of Cycling in Wichita, and a Springfieldian (MO), has just launched Carbon Trace. You can see I have a really large sample here, but that is not going to stop me from announcing a new phenomenon (academics do not call it a "trend" unless they are statisticians), the blogs of academics who bike. Based upon my sample (cough), AWBs appear to have a strong desire to compartmentalize, hence a separate blog for this facet of their existence, yet express an equally or more powerful will to integrate the actual biking (but not the blog) into various facets of their lives, e.g. it's not '"about the bike;" it's about bike culture and environmental and social concerns, and about not getting squished. Well, okay, sometimes it is about the bike, but not in that spandexy sense. I can actually see the rationale behind the separate blogs, as this is something that has already been happening: each blog attracts its own community, so establishing a new blog allows one to make contact with and link up with those who have those same interests, or as Andrew Cline of Carbon Trace put it, he did not want to go "off topic" in his other blog, which is about his academic subject. Since my blog has no topic and my career is a secret, I have not branched off. So I have started a new section in the sidebar: academic bike blogs (ABBs ? No.). I expect that at least one of the subjects of this post will have suggestions as to how to enlarge the list. And then we shall study these creatures in their natural habitat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"This Is Not 1968"

Fifty-four seconds in, this gets surreal. Does she hear herself ?

Choose one to complete Condi's thought process:
a) but if it's not your neighbor, it's okay. No contiguity, no problem.
b) sure, this happens in LebIsrealastine all the time, but they don't know where their borders are.
c) Iraq ? WMD. National Security. Oil. Not Czechoslovakia.
d) What thought process ?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Route to Work

All of those videos at, Amsterdamize, etc., have: a) made me wish I lived in the Pacific Northwest again; b) made me really think about the enormous difference between suburban cycling (where the best roads go nowhere) and the kind of city cycling in those videos, where it seems that real stores you need are actually in the town you live in and not on the periphery of it all. With that in mind, I rigged up my video camera to my handle bars and decided to let it roll while I rode my bicycle along my route to work. Since it was Sunday, I wasn't going to work, but I have been riding it every once and a while at different times of day to see how feasible it will be to bike commute a few days a week when my new job starts up. It was a beautiful evening here, no humidity, in the low 80's - high 70's; nice breeze. I am a complete neophyte biker-vlogger, hence my camera's riggings did not prevent the picture from bouncing more than it had to at times, and there is abrupt editing where the camera suddenly rose to the trees or dove to the pavement before I could steady it. The video ends at a stop sign at a stand of pine trees, beyond which lies my new and much happier career. I'd suggest you turn the sound up: the sound of cars whizzing by at speeds higher than marked contrasts with one beautiful and quieter segment of the trip where crickets can be heard in the background. The roads in this video are what would be called quite decent for cycling: there is a wide shoulder in most cases, though I aim the camera low at some points to show how sewer grates and other obstacles can cause one to swerve. If I am lucky enough to have readers from abroad, I should point out that none of these roads have signs or markings asking drivers to share the road with bicycles. A shoulder is not a lane, but a buffer between the car lanes and the land. Recently, drivers have started swerving onto shoulders without signalling in order to answer their cell phones, which they cannot use on the road unless they have bluetooth headsets and "hands free" operation. At one point, you can see a very long and beautiful sidewalk that runs parallel to the road, but not a single pedestrian is to be seen on it (or on my whole route). Enjoy--- and once again, apologies for the quality. I'll learn. Up too late again. Tea. Editing the [bleep] video.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Things with me for years have been falling apart. Some weeks ago, I quite comically (because this ended well), went straight through the bottom of my canvas deck chair while balancing my MacBook Pro and the morning's cappuccino. This morning, the second of the set made a funny ripping sound just in time for me to avoid a repeat. So I had to think... how long have I had these chairs, so reliable that I hadn't given a thought to their age ? Oh, since about 1991. Last night, I found more water than condensation would warrant in the burner well of the stove after I'd made my cup of tea. I confess, I knew that lime deposits from previous places had weakened the seal around the spout, though scrupulous I was about cleaning them off. The spout had not been thoroughly water tight for years. I love the shape of this particular kettle, seen at left in a photo whose angles perhaps best reflect my mental state when I really need a cup of tea. I intended to have this kettle until it became a burden for my next of kin, but it has now become unwaterworthy, so what to do ? Its shape and sheen has made it something of an objet d'art for the kitchen, a good thing since the kettle is never off the stove. While I may look into a possible repair, in truth, it suffered a few scratches from the last move, so replacement may be best. The pot is no longer made. I apparently just missed an auction on ebay (perhaps theirs was leaky, too ?), but after some sleuthing for another stainless steel option of suitable objet status, found instead a kettle of orange enamel and sufficiently swoopy modernist lines, above. I am very drawn to this euphoria-inducing shade of orange. Then I lost the link to where I'd found it, and having retraced my steps, also hit upon this stainless steel beauty with bakelite handles (left). I am taken with both. And that, for the moment, is that. I have not made a decision. Both are unavailable locally, so I will have to continue with a leaky kettle until I decide and the UPS truck arrives. I can manage, if I fill the kettle to below the spout line to boil, but pouring involves overflow. Yes, I have pots and a microwave, but afternoon tea around here is practically a ritual, and proper ritual instruments are de rigueur. I note that the spout of the stainless steel pot seems of a piece with the pot, whereas the retro orange one looks to have a soldered spout, which is the issue with the current pot. Well, out into the day to clear my head and do some grocery shopping. Maybe a bike ride once the afternoon heat lifts.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Of Books and Bloodsuckers

Being a night owl myself, it was only natural that I became the volunteer to ferry my niece across the sea of asphalt which is our state to a book party for the midnight (ahem, 12:01 am) release of Meyer's Breaking Dawn. I've not yet read the previous three books chronicling the ---chaste--- romantic entanglements of teen Bella, new to her school, with the also teenage vampire, Edward, aargh, never mind, just read this bit from Patty Campbell's summary of the first book, Twilight, on the website:

Meyer has achieved quite a feat by making this scenario completely human and believable. She begins with a familiar YA premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. Bella has come to the small town of Forks on the gloomy Olympic Peninsula to be with her father. At school, she wonders about a group of five remarkably beautiful teens, who sit together in the cafeteria but never eat. As she grows to know, and then love, Edward, she learns their secret. They are all rescued vampires, part of a family headed by saintly Carlisle, who has inspired them to renounce human prey. For Edward's sake they welcome Bella, but when a roving group of tracker vampires fixates on her, the family is drawn into a desperate pursuit to protect the fragile human in their midst. The precision and delicacy of Meyer's writing lifts this wonderful novel beyond the limitations of the horror genre to a place among the best of YA fiction. (Ages 12 and up)

I understand that a werewolf rival for Bella, Jacob, eventually crops up, offering her a chance for children and a more normal life (I am not making this up).
Yes, that "YA" is young adult, and yes, the 12 and up (to about eighteen) set of mostly teenage girls was eagerly in line for books, costume contests, trivia contests, etc., from about eight pm on. Some had on tee-shirts, proclaiming "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob," to declare which of Bella's suitors they thought should win out. Harry Potter fever had never quite grabbed my niece, though she reads everything in sight and by age thirteen can complain of "overplotted" novels while swatting at her cellphone, so this was the first "release party" we had been to. Another girl wore a tee on which she had inscribed, "Wizards are so '07," so some have moved on. The point of this post ? The point, dear reader, is that I am very tired. It was also wonderful to be around so much youth and energy. I loved the way they all found each other, met friends of friends and saved places in line for total strangers, admired each other's homemade costumes and buttons, and were just doubly energetic and doubly as patient as the adults around them. We were among the first ten of so in the door, and when we came out, those waiting on line cheered and whooped. My niece got in the car, I snapped on the reading light, she breathlessly read the first page to me (of the second chapter; the first was included at the end of the last book), opened her cellphone, sent a text with a photo of the book in her hands, called a friend and practically screamed "I AM HOLDING IT !" I dropped her off at one-ish, haven't had a text message all day. I assume she is finished by now, maybe finally asleep. A glimpse of only a small part of the readers in waiting is on the right.

While we were all happily seated, a man I'd guess to be in his fifties cycled up to this cycle-unfriendly strip mall to take advantage of the bookstore's extended hours, and parked his 27 speed (?) orange Raleigh right next to the concrete post I was using as a perch (not being a parent, I did not have the lawnchairs pictured above at ready in the trunk just-for-events-like-this). He left it unlocked and without a word to anyone, for long enough to make his way through the crowd to an iced coffee and a book, long enough for me to have taken this picture and put away my phone before he emerged, carrying said items. As he climbed back on, I uttered, in spite of myself, "You didn't even lock it." "What ?" he turned and asked. O, me and my mouthy brain, I thought, repeating what I'd said. "Oh," he assured, "I figured with all you nice folks out here it would be okay." Then he looked at me and the gaggles on the sidewalk filling out their trivia packets. "Well," he added, "You little vampires have a good night."

Friday, August 01, 2008

I Feel Better Now

I keep waiting for the NYTimes to tell me stop cribbing its photos, but hey, I must be doing them some kind of favor by picking up on their stories. As if in answer to my despair of July 31st. Now that's what I was talking about !

Late Night Note

It's morning, actually. Very close to the time that, in the old job, I'd be getting up. Profound psychological theories of subconscious revenge/compensation aside, as well as the fact that I am on a vacation of sorts, I must stop having a nice, sugary, stiff cup of tea at eleven. Eek.