Friday, February 29, 2008

Death of the Bike Messenger

Apparently the end is nigh according to this article from Seattle.


In one of the starkest signs of looming obsolescence, the national company that bought Bucky's -- once perhaps Seattle's best-known bike-courier business -- eliminated its entire bike fleet last year. It now focuses on car and truck deliveries.

I of course have no issue with real Bike Messengers. This is certainly sad news because I like the idea of urban bicyclists navigating their way through the gridlock in our urban centers. Sort of like how I liked the idea of Grunge music. That is, until you couldn't go anywhere without hearing a grunge wannabee band selling flannel in department stores.

So, here's a toast for the Bike Messengers of the world. Now let the fakengers and posengers quietly fade away as well. They're going to have to right? Whose culture will they copy next? Will it be Bike Touring Chic for the next decade? At least that would be a more practical niche to inhabit. And maybe it would encourage those fixie folks to actually maybe pay attention to some of those pesky laws of the road and stop giving the rest of us urban cyclists a bad name.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bike Racks Galore!

I was reading about this town's attempts to prettify their bike rack offerings and came across this site with some of the more interesting bike racks that I've ever seen. If you've read this site much you know bike racks are something of a pet peeve of mine in that most people who design them seem to not understand how to allow bikes to be locked to them without running the risk of marring and scraping the paint and metal. Something that's a concern to many of us who ride more expensive bikes. I must admit these look pretty though. But aesthetics only take you so far.

William F. Buckley Jr. vs. Noam Chomsky

It shouldn't be much of a surprise to know that I'm not much of a Buckley fan. However, he has surely never been more entertaining than in his interview with noted linguist, Noam Chomsky. Since Buckley's death came yesterday I thought I would post this political theater performance. This is part 1 of 2. Click here for part 2.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bike shop owner becomes first-time lobbyist, taking his mission on road to D.C.


AUGUSTA, GA - This March, Chain Reaction Cycling and Fitness in Martinez turns 18 years old. That’s a healthy run for an independent business. But while some could use the occasion to rest on their laurels, Chain Reaction owner Phil Cohen will be heading to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Bike Summit March 4- 6, hosted by the League of American Bicyclist (LAB).

According to the LAB Web site, “The National Bike Summit provides a unique opportunity to inform members of Congress of the importance of bicycling and to educate them on specific bicycling issues.”

As a first-time lobbyist, Cohen intends to use the opportunity to educate himself on “how the gears of government work.” It is his hope that this education will help area cycling-related projects get the funding to become reality.

The rest of the article is here.

I thought I should post the follow-up

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm not going to post the photo that is being circulated of Obama wearing "foreign" garb. You can read about it here. The question is whether the Clinton campaign is actually behind it. I've read a handful of reports that either confirm or are non-denial denials. When pictures like this:

or this:
are readily available what is the subtext of the push to show Obama in Somali clothing? The only answer I can come up with is race and the incentive to suggest something about his roots and his name.

At least his name isn't Gaydolph Titler.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Oingo Boingo

As much as I generally adore Danny Elfman's score and soundtrack work I can't help but miss his pop song savvy in gems like this. What a great chorus!

"Go! Don't you Go! Won't you stay with me one more day."

Oscar Forecast from the Reel Geezers

I'll be heading out this weekend for my annual trip to run my Oscar pool. This is the 19th year of the pool for the Academy Awards and, without meaning to gloat too much, I've won or finished well in about 3/4s of the contests. As my "pal" and Reel Geezer prognosticator Lorenzo (see below) notes: "To me what you think will win is much more important than what you want to win." For anyone who likes film we all know that the Academy Awards don't mark greatness. Do you remember who beat out Raging Bull for best pic? I do but I'm a film geek. Rest assured in the canon of cinematic greatness it is not a film to hold up as a masterpiece.

We'll see how I do this year. My major category picks are:
Hal Holbrook - Supporting Actor
Ruby Dee - Supp. Actress
Ratatouille - Animated Feature
Bourne Ultimatum - Editing
No Country... - Cinematography
Transformers - Visual Effects
Sweeney todd - Art Direction
P.T. Anderson - Adapted Screenplay
Diablo Cody - Orig. Screenplay
Julie Christie - Actress
DD Lewis - Actor
Coen Bros. - Director
No Country... Best Pic

Bear in mind that under the rules of the pool to get optimal points I/we have to submit our ballots the week after nominations come out. It's a little too easy to predict with the internet handicapping that goes on nowadays. That being said I'd probably only change one or two of picks if I could and even those might hurt me more than help me. I usually trust my instincts.

Here are some of the more fun Oscar predictions coming from real academy members.

God Save The Queen...from E

Apparently E wants to rub shoulders with the Royals. It's a good thing this tour is a bit mellower sounding than the previous No Strings Attached tour. I don't imagine Queen Elizabeth would find it all that enjoyable.

In case you didn't know the Eels (a two person version) is making the rounds in Europe and the US this Winter and Spring. They'll be heading to the Bay on April 14th so if you have a tax refund coming your way that may be a good place to put the money. More tour info here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bicyclists Packing Heat

"Woman bicycling with shotgun strapped to back is arrested"

Of course why would you strap a gun to your back? Not when you can mount a gun rack to your handlebars. This is the bike accessory that every cyclist needs. I suppose this would be the perfect thing for me as an educator. How else would I be able to carry the firearm that Bob Beers wants me to have at school.

Of course given the status of cycling in some cities, packing heat might be our best defense. Just ask this cyclist.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Reluctant Parent

This recent article from the Reno Gazette Journal about parent involvement caught my eye and I've been thinking about it a lot the last few days. Unfortunately my thoughts haven't been that positive. It's not the article but the overwhelming feeling I have that something is quite wrong in our society when parents seem so uninvolved with what is going on with their kids and their education. With the benefit of technology, most specifically "Edline", which essentially allows parents to get online and view student grades at any time, you would think that I would have a steady stream of emails asking about missing assignments, low grades, absences, etc. Instead I probably average 1 parent contact every 2-3 weeks at best. On the off chance a parent arranges to have a conference with teachers it seems like it is mostly to ask teachers how they can better raise their kids. Huh?! It's becoming more and more apparent to educators that that is part of our job description now as well. No wonder the burnout rate is 5 years for teachers.

The worst is when teachers or counselors have to politely suggest that maybe little Johnny should have some privileges revoked or be grounded if they don't start turning in assignments, improving behaviors in the classroom, etc. Too many times I've seen parents look downright flummoxed by the notion that they should discipline their sons and daughters for not actively participating in their own education.

I'm convinced that parent involvement and support (read "high expectations") is one of the greatest assets that a student has in being successful in school. It's no surprise that on Parent Night my one Honors class had more parents show up than almost all of my other classes combined.

Another good example is the "We the People" state competition held this past weekend in Carson City. The parents were there to support their kids in an academic competition but more than that in talking to a few of them I found that they tended to be actively involved in politics, "readers" (how often do you have a discussion about Steinbeck?) and savvy about current events.

My Principal in recent meeting mentioned that there is one thing that across the board shows results in helping student success. That is, the forming of positive relationships with their teachers. This is certainly true to a point. And it is also one of the most rewarding parts of my job as I interact with young people. But it makes me wonder about the expectations placed on educators to be not just mentors and teachers, but de facto "parents."

I never got into this job to be rich but this does bring to mind a recent email I got from an educator colleague:

Teacher's Salary

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!

It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do--baby sit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time.

That would be $19.50 a day (7:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25 min. off for lunch).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.


How many do they teach in a class, 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! we're not going to pay them for any vacations.


That's $585 x 180= $105,300 per year.

What about those special teachers and the ones with master's degrees?

Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it off to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 x 6 1/2 hours x 30 children x 180 days = $245,700 per year.

Wait a minute--there's something wrong here!

Average teacher salary $50,000/180 days = $277/per day/30 students = $9.23/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student. A very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even try - with your help - to EDUCATE your kids!


And the parents don't even have to buy teachers pizza!

Is it any wonder that educators often feel under appreciated? I think I'll be waiting a long time for that pay increase.

Monday Morning Music - FYC - Johnny Come Home

Since I have a three day weekend it seems only fitting that we get another round of music. It's sort of a fake Sunday Morning Music post. I saw the Fine Young Cannibals open up for UB40 back in the mid 80s in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was before they had much notoriety but their first album is awesome. Much better than anything that they produced afterwards because of the lo-fi approach they took on this album. Roland Gift had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand that night and they completely upstaged UB40.

This song has got to be on the short list of greatest dance grooves ever. With apologies for the lame 80s music video intro.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Goldfrapp

The verdict is still out on the soon to be released Goldfrapp album (Feb.26th). Based on the new single and video A&E Alison Goldfrapp may be moving into full on Kate Bush mode. As opposed to her last album which was a disco/glamrock hybrid and so ridiculously fun I don't know how anybody could not like it. But if you listened closely on some tracks from the last album you could certainly here the indications of a Kate Bush influence (most notably on You Never Know and Let it Take You).

Normally I would be very worried when an artist tries to emulate Bush. So many artists have tried and failed miserably. But I have a feeling that if there is one artist who might pull it off it is Goldfrapp. Below for your Sunday Morning Music pleasure is a bit of the older Glammed out Goldfrapp (be prepared to dance) and the new single complete with dancing leaf creatures!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Priceless Cinematic Moment from Simple Men

Henry Fool will always be Hal Hartley's masterpiece but this scene from Simple Men made me shriek with delight the first time I saw it so many years ago. A good way to cap the week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CarFree Times

The latest issue of CarFree times just landed in my mailbox. It always drives home [PUN INTENDED] the need to rethink, or RErethink, urban planning. Just compare the before and after photos from this issue. Which urban environment would you rather live in? What looks healthier? The ramifications of living in a carcentric world are so numerous it boggles the mind. From obesity to promoting conspicuous consumption to promoting a society divorced from the environmental realities of the world. Where does it end?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love...Republican Style!

Happy Valentine's Day! Can't you just feel the love? Here are some images that came via email from the NRC. Can you say tired? Considering the debt built up over the last 7 years it seems remarkable that this kind of tax rhetoric still plays.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"You're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Jaws has been one of my favorite films for years so I was filled with great sadness to hear of Roy Scheider's death. I've loved him in Marathon Man, Still of the Night, and All that Jazz. But he's iconic as Chief Brody. My favorite part (there are so many) of the film is his reaction on the beach when the "little Kintner boy" gets swallowed up. The camera work is unforgettable in that scene.

Here is the original trailer for the film.

And here's the climactic scene from the film.

Here's to you Roy. I'm going to go watch the film tonight and poor myself a tall glass of red wine in your honor.

Rinaldo Hopf, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose redux

I've written about the extraordinary bravery of the White Rose and Sophie Scholl before but I only recently discovered the artwork that was inspired by their anti-Nazi campaign. Artist Rinaldo Hopf has a series of portraits (all out of my price range unfortunately) that are worth taking a look at on his site. Here is a bio of him and his work. Posted here is a sampling of his work.

Sir Ian McKellen explains his method...

The best explanation of acting I've ever seen. From Sir Ian Mckellen no less.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Patrick Wolf

As someone who came of age musically in the 80s Patrick Wolf channels the times with a modern spin. I'm curious if my students who are so into Wolf get the various musical references and the "palette" he's working with? I suppose it doesn't really matter. The music is fun and twee in a good way. This is from his album, The Magic Position.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

North American Handmade Bicycle Show and a Lance Armstrong sighting.

The NAHBS is going on this weekend and waves of photos are hitting the internet. Lots to peruse here and here. And a Lance visit as well.

No doubt this is looking like the second Golden Age of the Handbuilt Bicycle. I love that the show highlights so many different styles of bikes. There are niches within niches represented here.

I'm not sick, I'm not sick, I'm not sick...Damn! I'm sick.

After weeks of feeling like I have been getting over a cold I seem to have taken a turn for the worse. Yuck! I've got too much to do. And it's the nicest weekend so far this year. Perfect for getting out and riding and training for the You've Gotta Be Crazy Run. Grrrrrr!

Monday, February 04, 2008

R.I.P. Sheldon Brown

A giant in the biking world is no longer with us. Sheldon Brown worked for many years at Harris Cyclery but is known as much for his extraordinarily extensive website about all things bike. I got to know Sheldon in the virtual world as a regular contributor to the iBob list for many years and we corresponded when he asked if my online archive of the USA Division of Bridgestone Bicycles could be moved to his site. He took over the Bridgestone resources several years ago.

Lest someone think that Sheldon was only about bikes take a quick peak at this page from his site. Renaissance man is the most accurate description I can think of. One look and you'll see why.

I will always remember his sense of humor.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Belle and Sebastian

"...I always loved you
You always had a lot of style
I'd hate to see you on the pile
Of ‘nearly-made-it' s
You've got the essence, dear
If I could have a second skin
I'd probably dress up in you..."

Sarkozy and Bruni sitting in a tree...

After months of wishing it weren't so (and multiple emails from friends and family who know I'm a Carla Bruni fan) I'm succumbing to a post about the new power couple now that they have wed. Will they replace Brangelina as THE couple to keep tabs on? Probably not on this side of the Atlantic. But Bruni will always have my heart for her album, Quelqu'un m'a dit.

Sarah Silverman "I'm F*cking Matt Damon" on Jimmy Kimmel

I can't resist...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tour de Nez...on the road for 2008

I received this press release yesterday from the mysterious Abbi but wasn't able to confirm anything until today. The Reno Gazette Journal has a little story here but the full text is below. Looks like quite an event! I hope they can pull it off.

The 16th Annual Tour de Nez Reinvents itself in 2008 with a New Lake Tahoe Home at Northstar-at-Tahoe™ Resort and an Exhilarating Atmosphere Catering to Both Cycling Enthusiasts and Families

Six-Day Cycling Festival to Feature Men’s & Women’s Pro Racing, Recreational Rides & more

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (Summer 2008)—In 2008, the Tour de Nez, one of the country’s top professional bicycling stage races, will be headquartered at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in Truckee, California, an all new venue for the 16th annual cycling event, according to an announcement recently released by promoters.
“Our partnership with Northstar™ Resort has enabled us to take the Tour to a new level,” explains Tim Healion, Tour de Nez Supreme Commander. “We will be able to really showcase the area as a destination for cyclists and people who enjoy the outdoors.”
The move will enable the event, scheduled to take place June 17-June 22, to expand in 2008 to include six days of pro, amateur and enthusiast events. Pro cyclists will vie for their share of thousands in prize money, while cycling enthusiasts of all abilities will enjoy rides with cycling legends through scenic Lake Tahoe, a festive atmosphere and a packed schedule of events that includes family activities such as a bike decorating contest, bike parade and kid’s races.
Healion said, “With the Tour largely moving to Lake Tahoe, everyone from the top domestic pro teams to cycling enthusiasts and families looking for a fun day outdoors will find Northstar Resort’s location and the Tour’s activities to be the best ever.”

Professional Cycling Race
The Tour de Nez’s five stage professional race kicks off with a twilight criterium in downtown Reno June 18th, before moving to the Tahoe-Truckee area and Northstar Resort for the main events of epic climbs and scenic course routes.
On June 20, cycling’s top domestic pro teams will race a 110-mile road course beginning in the Village at Northstar™ before heading along the shores of Lake Tahoe and through the historic railroad town of Truckee, CA. On June 19, spectators are treated to one of the Tour’s fast-paced criteriums in scenic downtown Truckee, before wrapping up June 21 with a mountain circuit race.
Also new for 2008 is the chance to catch some of cycling’s top female pro riders who will compete in the first Northstar Resort Tour de Nez Women’s Pro Race, June 21.

Fastest Growing Cycling Festival in US
Not just for the pro rider, The Tour de Nez offers a variety of recreational rides and events created specifically for the cycling enthusiast. Road cyclists can experience Lake Tahoe’s beauty on one of three supported rides geared towards varying ability levels. The most avid cyclists can tackle the Tour de Nez Century Ride, while mountain bikers can undertake the challenge of more than 100 miles of downhill and cross-country mountain bike trails at Northstar Resort, Northern California’s largest mountain bike park.
For a more festive offering, the Tour de Nez Clunker Races pit some of the area’s most unique sting ray, chopper, vintage bikes and two wheel contraptions against each other as they follow the circuit course for a single lap filled with dips, spills and outrageous antics. Living up to its family friendly promise, the Tour de Nez also offers bike clinics, an art bike parade, kid’s races and a two-day expo. The Tour will conclude with a huge after-event party and a breakfast ride with the pros.

Northstar Resort’s All Season Appeal is Ideal Cycling Basecamp
Located just six miles between the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and downtown Truckee, and featuring a beautiful new mountain village with year-round activities and amenities, Northstar Resort is an ideal location not only for the Tour de Nez, but for downhill and cross-country mountain bikers and road cyclists alike. There are several great road bike rides near Northstar Resort that provide great views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. Additionally, Northstar Resort offers more than 100 miles of trails for downhill and cross-country mountain bikers looking for a challenging ride.
This summer, Northstar Resort will improve on its existing offering and provide increased lift capacity, new trails suitable for beginners, as well as new advanced trails* and features, instructional riding classes, signature bike events, new cross-country trails and more.
“The Tour de Nez is a widely recognized, world-class event and we are thrilled to be hosting the event at Northstar Resort this year,” said Andy Buckley, director of resort experience at Northstar Resort. “Northstar Resort is quickly becoming a destination resort in the Lake Tahoe region and we are confident that event participants and spectators will be pleased with the variety of activities and events for all ages and ability levels.”

Tour de Nez’s 16-Year History
Started 16 years ago to celebrate the anniversary of Reno's first coffee house, Deux Gros Nez, the Tour de Nez has grown from a Masters Twilight Criterium to a six-day festival complete with pro, amateur and enthusiast events. Revelers enjoy live music, unique food, mint juleps, bike decorating contests, face painting and the best that the cycling world has to offer. Additionally, top companies from the bike, outdoor and adventure sports industries will be on hand for an expo with booths, displays and demonstrations of the latest and greatest gear.
Northstar Resort presents the 2008 Tour de Nez. Highlights of this year's Tour de Nez will air on the Versus Network. For more information please visit or call 775-287-3599.

About Northstar-at-Tahoe™ Resort
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort is becoming one of the finest year-round destination mountain resorts in North America offering activities for all ages. With 83 trails spread across 2,490 acres, world-class terrain parks and snow sports including alpine and telemark skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing, Northstar™ Resort is fun for all. The resort also offers summer activities including mountain biking, golfing, scenic lift rides for sightseeing and hiking, horseback riding, fly-fishing and much more. And, with the new Village at Northstar™ featuring shopping, dining, special events and a 9,000 square foot skating rink, Northstar Resort offers something for everyone.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort is located on Highway 267, just six miles north of Lake Tahoe and six miles south of downtown Truckee. For more information on Northstar Resort, call 1.800.GO.NORTH™ (1.800.466.6784) or visit