Sunday, September 30, 2007

How My Brain Works

The protests and violence in Myanmar have been on my mind a lot the last week. Mostly I suppose because I have a personal link to Buddhist monks having lived in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright a few years back. Certainly one of the peak moments of my life was hearing monks chant from across a valley at night from a monastery in the hills outside of Kandy. The monks that I met during my time there were some of the most centered and amazing people I have ever met. I can't get over the bravery of some of the monks I've been watching via the web as the protests escalate under the Myanmar regime.

I also can't help but be reminded of the film from a few years ago, Beyond Rangoon. It stars a pre pre Medium Patricia Arquette in all of her sexy, earth mother, glory. There is even a fictionalized run in with Aung San Suu Kyi depicted in the film. It is well worth checking out. Arquette has never impressed me as a great actress but she has absolutely nailed a couple of roles in her career and this is one of them. How sick am I that the other is from True Romance where she proceeds to put the hurt on future Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini. Watch if you dare:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Famous Quote of the Day

"It's better to keep quiet and have people think you stupid, than to talk and confirm it."
Mark Twain

For some reason this quote crossed my mind with the passing of the great Marcel Marceau.

NY Streets and Bikes

I can see all sorts of issues with this idea as far as bike safety goes. At least they're thinking about us right? But, really, clearly this has not been proposed/designed by somebody who commutes by bike daily.... Here is the link for the full story.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Teaching the Short Story

I've been thinking about this "perfect little scene" (as Ebert called it) a lot the last few days as I've been reading Miranda July's recently published book of short stories. I've been looking for stories that push the constraints of the types of stories I would usually teach (you know, the ones that come in high school textbooks). There's nothing wrong with The Sound of Thunder or the Most Dangerous Game but just because they adhere to the generally understood definitions of what a short story is doesn't make them the best thing for high school kids in 2007.

If you haven't already checked out the ongoing project, Learning to Love You More, that Miranda July has been involved with for years DO SO NOW!

Sunday Morning Feedback

An extrordinary live performance of Country Feedback - Unfortunately there are lame clips of the audience singing along. Still worth it. This should be turned up REALLY LOUD!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's Get Ready To Rumble...Or, Why We Should Invest in a Good Set of Earplugs

Why Bicycles and Motorcycles don't mix!

You'd think I don't like the many events that go on here in Reno if you read this blog but actually I like lots of events that don't make me lose sleep or make riding my bike a pain. Street Vibrations falls into the latter category. Nevermind how many motorcycle accidents I've seen because of riders who don't know how to handle their machines. Luckily Saturday I've got a ride over in California so I should be able to avoid some of the idiocy this year.

I'm not sure who won?

This would be around the time that bicycling enthusiasts took a wrong turn.

A Little Hump Day Humor

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm Waiting for the Class Action Lawsuit

Most anybody from Nebraska is going to be familiar with State Senator Ernie Chambers and since I spent most of my formative years there I'm not surprised by his lawsuit against God.

Chambers lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in Douglas County Court, seeks a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.
The lawsuit admits God goes by all sorts of alias, names, titles and designations and it also recognizes the fact that the defendant is “Omnipresent”.
In the lawsuit Chambers says he’s tried to contact God numerous times, “Plaintiff, despite reasonable efforts to effectuate personal service upon Defendant (“Come out, come out, wherever you are”) has been unable to do so.”

As someone who holds more to the views regarding a higher power as put forth so eloquently by Richard Dawkins I'm not exactly troubled by this. I was going to find a great quote to include here but then it occurred to me that no one could top the great Spencer Tracy in the climax from Inherit the Wind.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Morning Music

This video from Badly Drawn Boy sums up pretty well how I felt during yesterday's Journal Jog. A great track from one of my favorite albums.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Training Regimen - 2007 Journal Jog

As per usual I'm doing the Journal Jog. And also as per usual my training regimen has been something like:

1 Part - "oh crap, the Journal Jog is next week!?"
1 Part - 2 to 3 runs the week prior to the JJ
1 Part - However much biking I happened to have been doing in the weeks leading up to the run. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the first 3 weeks of school have been a bit much to expect to ride everyday. At least between bike commute days I've been carpooling. But it doesn't exactly make me feel particularly fast going into the JJ tomorrow.

The strangest thing I've had to deal with (and I'm chalking this up to my age) is that I don't even feel particularly warmed up on a run until I hit the 3rd mile. After I've broken myself in and gotten all the creakiness out my bones I feel like I could probably do a half marathon without too much agony. Not fast mind you. Perhaps my next goal is next month's Meridian Gold Run for Education. If anyone's up for it I'm planning on the 10k.

Mary Peters - A bicyclist's worst friend

Myrna over at Renodiscontent caught and sent this article my way. It's well known in bicyclist circles that Transportation Secretary Mary Peters is not exactly what you'd call a bike advocate. This article from Salon does a pretty good job of giving an overview of her position, and by extension, this administration's attitudes towards bicyclists. Judging from her 'do I don't think she's likely to wear a bike helmet either. Here's an excerpt:

In fact, only about 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars go to fund bike paths and walking trails. In the meantime, 10 percent of all U.S. trips to work, school and the store occur on bike or foot, and bicyclists and pedestrians account for about 12 percent of annual traffic fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration. "We represent a disproportionate share of the injuries, and we get a minuscule share of the funds," says Robert Raburn, executive director of the East Bay Bike Coalition in the San Francisco Bay Area, who calls the Peters' comments "outrageous." Plus, he notes, with problems like global warming, the obesity epidemic and energy independence, shouldn't the U.S. secretary of transportation be praising biking, not complaining about it?

What really drives cyclists around the bend is that while they're doing their part to burn less fossil fuel -- cue slogan: "No Iraqis Died to Fuel This Bike" -- they're getting grief for being expensive from a profligate administration. "War spending, tax cuts for the rich, and gas taxes are all big sources of funding. Bike spending is not," fumes Michael Bluejay, an Austin, Texas, bike activist, in an e-mail. "The few pennies we toss toward bike projects is not enough to fix our nation's bridges, not by a freaking long shot."

One of the many communities that benefit from federal dollars for bicyclists and pedestrians is the very one where the bridge collapsed. For the St. Paul, Minn., program Bike/Walk Twin Cities, administered by Transit for Livable Communities, $21.5 million of federal dough is being spent to create bike lanes, connect existing walking and biking trails with one another, and install signage to alert drivers of the presence of bicyclists and walkers. Despite the cold winters, Minneapolis is something of a biking Mecca, with 2.4 percent of all trips to work made by bike, significantly higher than the national average of 0.4 percent, according to Joan Pasiuk, program director of Bike/Walk Twin Cities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Death Threats and Free Speech

Since my day begins at 5 a.m. which puts me in bed around 9 I rarely get the pleasure of watching late night TV. Apparently I missed out because a bike list I'm on is all abuzz about Dennis Leary's appearance on Leno last night. I've yet to get a full transcript but the gist is that he made an oh so funny joke about how he likes to run over cyclists when he sees them on the road. Leary has made a career of being an ass so this shouldn't be a surprise and Leno, well, let's face it...the guy gave up being funny about 20 years ago. But I can't let this kind of "humor" go. A couple of years ago some DJs in a couple of metro areas made similar jokes and then urged drivers to run over cyclists. Protests, letters, and calls forced an on air apology from the DJs. Frankly though I think it was the complaints that went direct to the FCC that made the difference. So if any cyclists feel like joining me and exercising their right to free speech and want to lodge a complaint to either the FCC or Leno's show here you go.

You'd think that a guy who enjoys two-wheeled (albeit) motorcycles would be a bit more sensitive to the dangers that all two wheelers face.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Morning Music

In honor of the Reno Balloon Races I wanted to offer up Robyn Hitchcock, Mr. Balloon Man himself, for your listening pleasure. But that track is not nearly as strong as one of my favorites from this underappreciated singer/songwriter. Let's try a performance of Madonna of the Wasps instead (with a peculiar intro) from Letterman. The keyboards are sublime on this track:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Worst. Cars. Ever.

Kudos to Time Magazine's list of the 50 worst automobiles. They take a number of shots at the love affair with the SUV in this country but nowhere is it more on target then the entry for the 2003 Hummer H2 . No surprise to readers that I would focus on this particular model but they also have interesting things to say about the Excursion and Explorer.

But about the H2 they state:

One struggles to think of a worse vehicle at a worse time. Introduced shortly after 9/11 — an event whose causes were tangled in America's unquenchable thirst for oil — the Hummer H2 sent all the wrong signals. It was/is arrogantly huge, overtly militaristic, openly scornful of the common good. As a vehicle choice, the H2 was a spiteful reactionary riposte to notions that, you know, maybe we all shouldn't be driving tanks that get 10 miles per gallon. Not surprisingly, the green-niks struck back. A Hummer dealership was torched in Southern California. The H2 was also a PR catastrophe for GM, who happened to be repossessing and crushing the few EV1 electric cars at the time. It all contributed to GM's emerging image as the Dick Cheney of car companies.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Raisin in the Sun

Click the link for a great profile of Saul Raisin, the Credit Agricole rider who had a severe brain injury, was in a coma, and is now returning to procycling. Major news outlets don't often present cyclist stories very well but CNN does a great job with this video profile.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ice Biking 101

This story about the goldrush in Alaska inspiring the use of bicycles for transport reminded me of the video that I still own called Bicycling: A Celebration of the Invention. They reinacted some of these Alaskan prospectors using bikes to haul their gear in the snow. I still have that video which is quite wonderful. 2 Hours covering various aspects of the pastime of cycling from its birth, the technology, the sport, the mtn bike, the "free-spirits", etc.

This story also makes me wonder about whether bikes were used for this purpose during our Comstock days?
Bicycling to Nome

Dog mushing wasn't the only way to get around Alaska. Stampeders used horses, reindeer, ice skates and even bicycles! One adventurous young man, Ed Jesson, left Dawson on February 22, 1900 astride a bicycle that he had just learned to ride the week before, and arrived 1000 miles away in Nome on March 29, tired, bruised and almost snowblind. Jesson wrote that the bicycle "stood the trip in splendid shape and to my great surprise I never had a puncture or broke a spoke the entire trip." With the frozen Yukon River as his trail, Jesson encountered some pretty rough traveling, "but," Jesson said, "it didn't eat anything and I didn't have to cook dogfeed for it." Jesson was not the only one to use a bicycle for transportation; others tried similar feats with varied degrees of success.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday PM Music - Hoist That Rag

What could be better on a Sunday of a long weekend than some live Tom Waits? Marc Ribot is one of the greatest guitarists ever!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bikes of (Paris and) Paris-Brest-Paris

This is a pretty nifty gallery of bikes from the famous, (or is it infamous?) Paris-Brest-Paris randonneur.

I love the caption that goes with this photo:
"This bike looked like an old and trusted friend."