Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from Tom Waits

A friend forwarded me this link to a great audio recording of Tom Waits on his last tour. Two and a half hours of bliss. You get it FREE from itunes. What's not to love about that. Below, in honor of the best holiday of the year, Tom in concert performing the funeral dirge, "Dirt in the Ground."

A Little Perspective

" doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." - Rick Blaine/Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

After days, weeks, months, of being anxious about the upcoming election it's nice to have something to give you a bit of perspective. This new image from the newly repaired Hubble telescope was just the right tonic. Click the link for more on the two galaxies.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Different Sarah

I'm trying to think of a Sarah I hold in higher regard than author, Sarah Vowell, and I'm drawing a complete blank. I guess there was the Sara I dated briefly in college but she broke my heart so there you go.

I've enjoyed Vowell's work for awhile but have yet to pick up her new book, The Wordy Shipmates. I've never been big on Puritan history but because of her humor and wit I will no doubt end up reading it. If you haven't read her before I would highly recommend the Partly Cloudy Patriot and Assassination Vacation. Take the Cannoli is also worth perusing. Below is a quick interview from CNN. The interviewer is hopeless but it's nice to hear Vowell's clever responses to inane questions.

If the video below doesn't work click here. I was having problems embedding the CNN code earlier.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Of Montreal

Not Your Average Commute

The past few weeks I've had the pleasure of getting close and personal with a family of mustangs on my way to work. I should feel pretty lucky. How many schools have their real mascots roaming the grounds? I finally had my camera with me so I took a photo today before dawn. The only downside as a cyclist is the "landmines" they tend to leave on the road. Still, a small price to pay to see these beautiful animals. I may have to break out the fenders just in case though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crazy Bikes!

Bicycle Fixation already did a post about this but I can hardly resist putting this video up. Love these old bikes from the 30s and 40s and particularly the recumbent designs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Missing Bike

I wonder if the "Lasso of Truth" and "Bullet-Deflecting Bracelets" are also missing?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Bjork

I think Bjork is actually one of the most amazing artists working today. I'm not just talking musical artists. She's the real deal. Something is so powerful about her that I can only handle small does. Here's her new single with a couple of old favorites.

This song is so beautiful. The Chorus chokes me up every time I hear it.

A live version of "It's Oh So Quiet" that is just too intense.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Barack Obama's "Defining Moment"

I'm debating whether or not to go see Obama speak this morning or try to catch up on my piles of grading that have accumulated. It's the end of the first quarter and the load is dizzying. Or maybe I should just go for a bike ride and drink beer with the Bikes to Rwanda crew at noon (at Walden's if you didn't already know that - see previous post). It looks like the Genoa cross race is out for me. Too much time spent driving down there.

I suspect that what Barack will be talking about today will be an extended version of this new ad his campaign has released. A good closing argument for his campaign in the midst of a truly weird and awful week for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Friday, October 24, 2008

EcoReno Opens!

A cool new shop has opened in Reno. From the website:
We are your one-stop source for goods for the environmentally conscious consumer.

Shop EcoReno for all your sustainable products such as:

  • Non-toxic and biodegradable soaps and cleaners

  • Gifts made from recycled materials

  • Household products that are recycled, reusable, sustainable and earth-friendly

  • So much more! New products coming in daily!

Located on Stewart street near the Starbucks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bike Commute Goal for the Year - 2,400 miles

I've been mulling my bike goals for this school year. The last two years I've focused on the end of the year bike commuting goals putting in 500+ and 1000+ miles respectively. This year the goal is to be more consistent. The first quarter ends Friday and I just passed the 600 mile mark for bike commute miles. Not a bad pace. The key over the next two quarters is to remain consistent in the face of unknown weather "challenges". That, and take advantage of the good weather whenever it shows up. So, here's to 2,400 miles for the school year! Less than 1,800 miles to go.

Bike Events Galore This Weekend!

Lots of cool bike events this weekend in the Reno area. Saturday the 2nd race in the Reno Wheelmen cyclocross series takes place down in Genoa. It's almost worth it just to visit the oldest bar in Nevada after the race! They start at 11:00 a.m.

Bikes to Rwanda takes place that same afternoon. Here's the info from the press release:
Walden's Coffeehouse will be holding a benefit event on Oct. 25th from 12-5 p.m. to raise money for Bikes to Rwanda!!
"Bikes To Rwanda's aim is to provide cargo bicycles to co-operative coffee farmers in Rwanda. The goal is to improve quality of life in these communities through a bike workshop and maintenance program that provides transportation resources for basic needs and enhances production of quality coffee."
As I realize there are a few other bicycle-related events happening on this date, I understand that you may not be able to make it for some part of the event, but we certainly hope that you can come out after your earlier activities to show your support by taking part in the raffle, drinking some great draft beer, or just coming to learn more about Bikes to Rwanda!
Thanks everyone!!! Hope to see you on the 25th!
Saturday is also the Sierra Challenge, a metric century to raise money for ALS:

Sierra Challenge Metric Century
Join the fight to defeat ALS, AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease, and have a good ride, too. Ride starts at Bartley Ranch and has 3 options. The metric century option does a challenging loop at the top of Geiger Grade. Bountiful goodie bag and post ride meal and music at Bartley Ranch included. For info, to register to ride or volunteer to help, go to For the Pedaler entry fee enter "letmeride" for a $10 discount (members only, please).

This is an opportunity to become a founding rider for what will become an annual event worth bragging about. Please join us.

For more info, contact Terry at 775-287-7142 or Charlie at 775-324-6152.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Education and the Presidential Race

If, like me, you've been a bit disappointed in the amount of time spent in talking about education in this year's race (beyond the usual platitudes in the third debate), here is your chance to get some more in depth information from both candidates:

Education and the Election

Two must-see events on

Live Debate: Education and the Next President

Exclusive webcast, Tuesday, October 21, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time

Live from Teachers College, Columbia University: "Education and the Next President," a debate between Linda Darling-Hammond, education adviser to Democratic nominee Barack Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan, education adviser to Republican nominee John McCain.

Register now to watch the live debate.


Analyzing the Election: What’s at Stake for Schools?

Available online Wednesday, Oct. 22, 12 p.m. Eastern time

Education Week’s David J. Hoff moderates a post-debate discussion with leading education analysts.

Watch this exclusive video here.

A video archive of the debate will be posted here on Oct. 22 by 12 p.m. Eastern time.

You can also follow the debate at
Chime in by including #tcdebate in your tweets.

A Reminder - Parallel Universes on PBS tonight!

More info here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweeney Todd is a Macabre Delight!

The TMCC production of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is a wonder to behold. An outstanding cast deftly handled a show that is by turns funny, scary, gross, and ultimately tragic. It had been years since I'd seen this video of the Angela Lansbury and George Hearn production but I was reminded of it after the show stopping version of "A Little Priest" from the show last night. If you haven't made plans for next weekend call for your tickets now! You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Team Bobzien at the Run for Education

The Run for Education had a great turnout this morning and a contingent of Team Bobzien showed up to run the 5k at Damonte Ranch High School. In a week of being the target of some despicable dirty campaigning (and you thought the McCain campaign was bad!) perhaps this is something positive to cap off the week for the Bobzien campaign.

Sunday Morning Music - The Good, The Bad and the Queen

Last year Damon Albarn proved beyond all doubt that he is not just a Britpop vocalist with the release of The Good, The Bad and the Queen. Yeah, his work with Gorillaz should have been enough to convince me but sometimes it was hard to tell how large of a role he had with them. With GBQ these feel like Albarn tunes precisely interpreted with the help of great backup players (it doesn't seem fair to call Paul a back up player). I don't really feel like picking a couple of songs, even these two singles, really do this concept album justice. It begs to be played from beginning to end. It's a concept album that grows on you the more you listen to it. Without further ado:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives - Revisited

Last Spring I was pushing the award-winning BBC produced documentary about the Parallel Worlds theory featuring physicist, John Mark Everett, and father of one of my favorite musical artists, E (of Eels fame). Next week this doc is debuting on the PBS series Nova. Check your local listings but in Reno it should be aired next Tuesday, October 21st, at 8:00 p.m. I wrote more about it here. Here's NOVA's page for the show. I finally did get a copy of the doc online but I'm hoping the new NOVA version will snip a couple bits of "colorful" language to allow me to use parts of it in my Psychology in Literature class more readily (what ARE the implications for the subconscious if we actually exist in infinite universes at the same time?). It should be available via itunes. There's a quick preview below. Incidently, E's memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know, was just published in the US.

Let's Lighten the Mood

It seems like I've been twisted in knots the last few weeks about the upcoming election. The debates haven't really helped. They mostly just made me anxious. The perfect antidote? This montage of the best practical jokes from The Office. My favorite is the "future" Dwight fax sequence.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Cibo Matto

You Got To Know Your Chicken! My dog's favorite song....

Bootleg Courier Company Open For Business!

I've been admiring the Bootleg Courier Company logo for months on their promo literature that has been spread around the city in the lead up to the launching of the first(?) Reno bike messenger company. Today is the big day and I wish them great success in their business. I don't know who did the logo design but I tip my hat to you. It is awesome with the clean typeface and the retro jersey wearing cyclist. Not to mention the swank handlebar mustache. Almost makes me want to grow one myself. Check out their nice site for more info.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Driven to Despair" - Where Did America Go Wrong?

"The dream house in exurbia has become a prison for families."

Last Friday I caught the new series that NOW is producing for PBS on the changing the infrastructure of America. The first episode was called, Driven to Despair, and it focuses in agonizing detail on the problems that followed the suburban and exurban developments that started and continue in the US over the past half century.

One of the striking things in watching it are the comparisons you can make in the families that embraced the exurb dream and those that decided to live closer to an urban center. I hate to make generalizations but these families end up being walking, talking stereotypes. You'll have to see for yourself.

Just one statistic that is pretty telling is that one family living in the exurbs outside of San Diego has monthly fuel costs of $1600. The husband in this family carpools and drives a Prius. Ouch! Yet when asked this same guy asserted his belief that the car means freedom. As if it was somehow it's a God given right to be able to drive crosstown on a whim to buy ice cream. Since when did being able to drive equal freedom in any real sense of the word.

Anyway, you can buy the episode from itunes for only $2.00 but you can watch the full episode for free here. Totally worth it. Here's the program description from the website:

With gas prices spiking and home values crumbling, the American dream of commuting to work from the fringes of suburbia has become an American nightmare. Many are facing a hard choice: Paying for gas or paying the mortgage. How did it come to this? It's not just about America's financial crisis; it's also about big problems with our national infrastructure. Overstressed highways and too few public transportation options are wreaking havoc on people's lives and hitting the brakes on our already-stretched economy.

This week, NOW on PBS takes a close-up look at our inadequate transportation network and visits some people paying a high price—in both dollars and quality of life—just to get to work. Do we have the means to modernize both our infrastructure and our lifestyles?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dress Bike Shoe

The clipless pedal benefits are many but the one downside is the "unwalkability" (is that a word?) of most bike shoes. Never mind that they always LOOK like bike shoes. Perhaps this shoe is the perfect compromise. It kinda sorta looks like a real shoe and is almost halfway looks like it might be something you could walk around the office in.

Click here to purchase your "Exustar Stelvio Touring/Commuter Shoe"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Racing, Not Racing, and Chaperones

The aforementioned crit race up at UNR has been canceled due to the cold weather. Apparently there is no one as tough as Andy Hampsten

For a slideshow of yesterday's cyclocross race out at Hidden Valley click here. Looks like it was a fun time! Perhaps I can make it down to Genoa in two weeks if my shoulder heels.

As for my Saturday, I spent it with a bunch of friends in Sacramento seeing the traveling production of The Drowsy Chaperone. Followed by an unbelievable sushi binge. The sushi was excellent, the musical was better, and the company was the bees knees. Click below for a taste of how good the Drowsy Chaperone is.

Sunday Morning Music - Blur

I've never been more emotionally invested in a carton of milk before.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Wheels Have Come Off the Bus

Maybe this is surprising but I'm something of a fan of political columnist David Brooks. I don't necessarily agree with him but unlike so many conservative thinkers/writers in our culture you can actually see the wheels turning as he explains his position on the politics of our nation and world. This is so unlike most of the blowhards on the airwaves and certainly the case with the talking heads over at Fox "Spews".

I was reminded of how astute Brooks can be when reading this recent column about Sarah Palin and it strikes me that his conclusions speak more about the state of the Republican party as a whole. Part of me would say that they have made their beds and now they have to lie in them. But the other half of me thinks that it's just a sad state of affairs for everyone in the country when all they have is a devout anti-intellectualism to grasp onto. Excerpts:

"...over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect....

... The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community."

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Weekend at the Races

The Reno Wheelmen cyclocross series kicks off this weekend at Hidden Valley on Saturday. Unfortunately I'll be in Sacramento. More info here.

There's also a road race scheduled for Sunday at UNR. It's a fundraiser for the HPVC. Starts at 3:00 at the North end of campus. Could be some nasty weather for both but that only seems right for a cross race.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How the Economic Bailout...errrr, "rescue" Helps Bicycle Commuters

I'm thrilled that this passed but not so sure this was the best time to be adding "pet projects" to a bailout. Still, in the big scheme of things this is certainly a good move. Excerpt:

The $700 billion bailout bill intended to stop the tailspin of the nation's financial sector did something else: It extended federal tax benefits for people who commute by bike.

Starting in January, workers who use two-wheelers as their primary transportation mode to get to and from work could be eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from their employers for bicycle-related expenses. In return, employers will be able to deduct the expense from their federal taxes.

"It significantly legitimizes bicycling and elevates it to a credible commute mode, like riding a bus or train," said Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The money could be used to purchase, store, maintain or repair bikes that are used for a substantial portion of an employee's commute.

Bike advocates have been trying for seven years to get such a provision passed in Washington, but came up short until Congress rushed through the Wall Street bailout package last week and lawmakers squeezed in pet projects. The bicycle benefit was championed by members of the Oregon delegation.

Backers estimate that the federal tax rolls may lose out on about $1 million a year due to the new employer write-off, according to the advocacy group League of American Bicyclists.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"That one" ????????????

Did John McCain refer to Barack Obama as "That one"? Is it just me or is that ridiculously contemptuous sounding?

Bicycle Quotes of the Day

[T]he bicycle will accomplish more for women's sensible dress than all the reform movements that have ever been waged. ~Author Unknown, from Demerarest's Family Magazine, 1895

"I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world," feminist pioneer Susan B. Anthony said in 1896. "It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
-Susan B. Anthony

Monday, October 06, 2008

If You're Not Pissed Off, You're Not Paying Attention, or why John McCain is No Hero

This is one of those days that I can truly say I'm ashamed to be an American. After reading and viewing some of the numerous racially charged attacks by the McCain/Palin campaign against Barack Obama over the last couple of days all I can do is shake my head. Is this what the Republican party has become? A party scoffing at intellectualism and using racist tinged speeches to scare the electorate. More importantly, will it work?

It's a sad day when John McCain, someone that at one point I truly did admire even if I didn't always agree with his positions, supports the kind of tactics we are starting to see in this last month before the election. I fear this is just the beginning.

I don't mean to get hysterical about what could happen on November 4th and the effect these attacks might have. It's easy to become so anti-McCain that you end up sounding like you are blindly throwing your support behind Obama. But, no leader, no politician, no one man, can be the answer to a nation's problems. It'll take a majority of us to stand up and not let hate and intolerance rule the day. Below is excerpt from the best summation of the last couple of days of attacks from the McCain camp. Click on the links for the complete article. If you don't get upset over what you're reading here...I don't know, maybe we do get the leaders we deserve.

In the last two months of this election -- as the Bush administration winds down as the most unpopular in modern American history and the Right is on the verge of a desperately-needed collective death -- we see a perfect microcosm of what our country has been over the last eight years. The financial crisis is spreading, accelerating, and morphing across the globe in unpredictable ways. The economic anxiety levels are as high as one can recall, teetering on panic, and even the Wall St. Journal Editorial Page is acknowledging that America's days of economic dominance are over. The national debt is over a staggering $10 trillion and has doubled in the last 8 years alone. And the symbols of our nation have become gulags, the waterboard, an endless stream of bombs and occupations, and people imprisoned forever with no charges of any kind.

And as these flames engulf America's foundations, what is the Right doing -- the movement that brought us all of this through their virtually absolute control of our Government for the last eight years? They're spending all their time chattering with each other about an aging 1960s radical and giddily cheering the increasingly repellent Sarah Palin as she skips around the country in front of rambunctiously booing right-wing crowds accusing Barack Obama of palling around with The Terrorists and pointing out that he doesn't see America the way all the Normal, Good Americans do. For the last eight years, the opponents of the Right have been America-hating Terrorists and they still are.

And just now, John McCain -- speaking in New Mexico -- delivered one of the ugliest, nastiest, most invective-filled personality attacks a major candidate has ever delivered, blatantly designed to stoke raw racial resentments and depict Obama as a Manchurian candidate funded by secret Arab Terrorist sources -- a truly unstable and hate-mongering rant filled with lines like these, delivered with an angry scowl to screaming, howling, booing throngs, while Cindy McCain stood behind him shaking her head in disgust at each fact she heard about the Black Terrorist daring to challenge her husband:

I don't need any lessons in being honest with the American people, and if I did, I wouldn't seek it from a Chicago politician. . . . There's much we don't know about Senator Obama. For a guy who has authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. Who is the real Barack Obama?

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Morning Music - Mission Control

Since I missed out on the closest Dandy Warhols gig on their new tour it seems only right to play the new video from their new album.  The verdict is still out on it.  But I like their willingness to play around with expectations.  This is certainly no Bohemian Like You

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Palin Biopic...coming to a theater near you!

As long as it doesn't come to the Whitehouse...

The Biden vs. Palin Debate

This a pretty good article on the VP debate tonight that outlines exactly why I'm feeling nervous about it. Excerpt:

Reasonably enough, many people have said Biden should just remain composed and respectful, answer the questions and engage Palin as little as possible.

The problem is that this disengagement strategy is premised in part on the idea that Palin is a ticking time bomb: that all Biden has to do is stay out of her way and she'll eventually get a question she can't handle and self-destruct. But what if she doesn't? What if , midway through, Palin is doing okay, or better than okay? If you're Joe Biden, are you going to just sit there and let her play you to a draw - or beat you? On the biggest stage Biden has ever been on, is he going to let himself get shown up by someone everybody knows is an idiot? Or does Biden get agitated, and start looking for opportunities to attack, to pin Palin down, to put her in her place? If Biden stops playing it safe, all bets are off. He might be brilliant, but things might also go horribly wrong.

There's also another interesting subplot to watch tonight too: Gwen Ifill.
The most intriguing thing might actually be how Ifill, someone I have tons of respect for, handles the debate.

New Bike Racks!

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows I'm a bit fascinated (and easily put off) by bike racks that are actually pleasing to look at but more importantly, actually practical to lock multiple bikes to. So here is the latest entry in "new" bike rack design courtesy of the New York Department of Transportation's bike rack competition.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wednesday Night Pick Me Up - Talking Heads

The beginning of the best concert film ever.

Open Your Pie Pushing Daisies!

Don't forget that tonight the Pushing Daisies second season debuts on ABC. Easily one of the most inventive and fun television shows I've ever seen. I could watch Kristen Chenoweth sing the ingredients off of a cereal box and be entertained. Here is a promo for the new season that was featured at Comic-Con.