Monday, March 30, 2009

The Latest on the 2009 Tour de Nez



The TdN will have a presence in downtown Reno. A nice return to form after last year. And I like the tie-in with the new Reno Aces baseball team.

Excerpt:

Events will kick-off in Reno on the 18th at Amendment 21 bar. For $6, participants can park their cars at the bar and bike ride over to the Reno Aces AAA baseball team stadium, have their bikes valet and enjoy the game with the coordinators and cyclists of the Tour De Nez. The evening will close with a celebration party at Amendment 21, where The Reno Film Festival will project cycling oriented movies onto the wall outside the bar.

Racing begins on the 18th in Historic Downtown Truckee, shutting down the streets for the Downtown Truckee Criterium for Pro men and Pro women, Masters 35+1,2,3 and handcycles. Attendees will also have a chance to burn some of their own rubber in the clunker classic messenger race, and kid’s race through downtown. The festivities will begin late afternoon and run throughout the night. Live music, raffles and food will be just a few of the great activities going on that make the Tour De Nez so much more than just a bike race.

The return to downtown Reno will take place on the 19th, bringing the same events to Reno as in Truckee. There will be a group ride with some of the competing athletes in the morning with a coffee stop along the way. The pro and amateur races will send riders throughout the downtown area amongst cheering onlookers. The Downtown Reno Circuit Race for both men and women will start at Wingfield Park and run along the river. After sundown, the Reno Film Festival bicycle film, Breaking Away, will be shown at the Wingfield Park Amphitheater.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Most Beautiful Music I've Ever Heard - #15

This song gave me chills the first time I heard it in a theater while watching Nightmare Before Xmas. It still does. All Hail Danny Elfman and Catherine O'Hara!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Hi, I'm a Mac" - If Computers Were Bikes


This is a pretty fun article from Wired that a friend forwarded to me. The best part is reading the comments. Of course the conversation devolves into a debate over operating systems and recumbent bikes. But who's going to argue that Windows = a dumb department store bike?

Excerpt:
Windows, like a department store bike, is owned by everybody. The junker bike is the default option when you buy for kids, when you need something to “keep fit" or when you just don’t have any money to spend. Try finding a cheap racer or Dutch bike if you don’t believe me.

In the same manner, the majority of the world uses Windows, a catch all OS that can be bent to almost any task at the expense of polish, sexiness or any kind of √©lan. It is also free in the eyes of the buyer — nobody buys Windows: it just comes on the machine.

Sure, Windows can do anything that the other OSes can do, but it looks so cheap and shoddy around the edges and, without proper maintenance (ie. anti virus updates) it soon falls apart.

Compare to an inexpensive mountain bike, full of cheap, bad components which don’t always work right. You can use it as a commuter bike, a sport bike, a getaround or an actual mountain bike, but it won’t do any of these with the focused skill of a purpose made model.

The only difference is that the bike will end up rusting in a shed or basement, while the Windows box will limp on, year after year in your grandmother’s study, spewing out spam to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Most Beautiful Music I've Ever Heard - #16

For some reason the studio versions of this song have their "embedding disabled" on youtube. Bummer, because that opening guitar riff never sounds quite as powerful live via a web performance. Be that as it may, "How Soon is Now?" still takes my breath away everytime I hear it. I was never much of a Smiths fan but I bow down before this song.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Riding Safe - Bikes Belong!

This cyclist should actually take MORE of the lane to force drivers to pass more safely or hold back. By hugging the side of the road he is practically inviting them to try to sneak by. He has the right to the road.



Here's another take on being safe on the bike. Don't quite agree with all of his points but it's still worth a read.

Excerpt:

1) Helmets are a last resort. Helmets don’t prevent accidents; what they do is give riders a somewhat better chance of surviving one. There’s much more, however, that could and should be done in regards to cyclist (and driver) education and infrastructure improvement, for example, that would go a long ways to preventing accidents in the first place.

2) One of the best ways to make the roads safer for cyclists is to get more cyclists on the road. There’s an inverse relationship between the number of cyclists on the road and the accident rate for cyclists. Research shows, for example, that when communities double the number of cyclist the accident rate per cyclist drops by about a third. This is presumably because motorists become more accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists. Some of the safest countries for cyclists--Denmark, for example--don’t promote helmet usage very aggressively and fear that such campaigns might discourage people from cycling, thus making roads less safe for cyclists.

3) There are trade-offs to consider. We hear often that cycling is a dangerous activity because of the risk of traffic accidents. And, yes, there is a certain degree of risk associated with cycling. We hear far less, however, about the risks of not cycling as it relates to obesity, diabetes, and a host of other life-threatening health problems. Death from a heart attack might not be as dramatic as a gory traffic accident, but the loss of life is just as real. When you factor the health benefits in, some researchers estimate the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by nearly twenty-fold.

4) Alcohol is a major cause of accidents. In nearly a third of all fatal accidents involving cyclists either the cyclist or driver is intoxicated, research from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows. This suggests that one of the most powerful ways to make the roads safer for cyclists is to get serious about combating drunken cycling and driving.

5) Expanding the diversity of cyclists will make biking a significantly safer form of transportation. One of the key reasons that cycling appears to be a dangerous form of transportation has to do with the demographics of the people who cycle. Currently, the vast majority of people who cycle as a form of transportation are males below the age of thirty. This particular demographic group, as most people can probably guess, leads the way in nearly every single type of accident regardless of whether it involves automobiles, guns, or bikes. The per capita accident rate among male cyclists is approximately eight times that of females, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Thus, increasing the number of women and older riders will significantly reduce the accident rate simply because these groups take far fewer unnecessary risks.

6) Some perspective is in order. Though many people regard bicycling as a particularly dangerous form of transportation, few realize that walking is even worse. One study conducted by a Rutgers University researcher, for example, shows that per kilometer traveled walking is more than 3 times more dangerous than cycling. Makes you wonder why there aren’t stronger public health pushes for walking helmets, say, or safer pedestrian crosswalks, doesn’t it?

7) Pushing helmets can have unintended consequences. Some research, as detailed in this New York Times story, shows that drivers drive more aggressively when passing cyclists wearing helmets. In addition, there’s evidence that extra safety gear can give cyclists a false sense of security that elevates their risk-taking behavior--a phenomenon economists call the Peltzman effect.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - Black Hearted Love



The first single from the upcoming PJ Harvey & John Parish collaboration. Harvey is pretty much one of the artists that makes life worth living for me. Her body of work is too amazing and one day I'd like to see her perform live again. Alas, it looks like I'll have to wait. Not many dates for the upcoming album. Maybe her next solo project?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are...


If anyone but Spike Jonze was directing this I would probably be running away screaming. But I can't wait to see how he adapts the source material into a feature film. This looks more H.R. Pufnstuf than some crazy CGI take on the book. That can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Believe the Hype - March Madness!


If you believe the hype you'd think the country undergoes a complete work stoppage over the course of March Madness. This article debunks the myth.

Excerpt:

In concocting his lost-productivity estimate, Challenger doesn't acknowledge that "wasted time" is built into every workday. Workers routinely shop during office hours, take extended coffee breaks, talk to friends on the phone, enjoy long lunches, or gossip around the water cooler. It's likely that NCAA tourney fans merely reallocate to the games the time they ordinarily waste elsewhere. Likewise, many office workers who don't complete their tasks by the end of the day stay late or take work home. If fans who screw off at work ultimately do their work at home, the alleged "loss" to productivity would be a wash.

Last, the fear that millions of workers will waste time watching the games live for hours at the office is groundless. More than two-thirds of the games are played on weeknights or weekends, when very few employees are stuck behind their work terminals.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Return of the King

If you have been as perplexed as me by those commercials for the new show, Kings, as I have that this is a must read review from one of the best TV critics working. Perplexed because after seeing Ian McShane create one of the single best characters in the history of the small screen on Deadwood, it was hard to figure out what to make of the slick looking show debuting tonight. McShane seems born to play a dirt under his nails, knife up his sleeve, conniving bastard, with enough heart that you still root for him. So playing the king on this show seems a bit, well, high class, for him. But a patriarch is a patriarch and I'm still going to watch. Especially after this description from the above review:

As well-written as his dialogue may be, King Silas could've ended up a far less compelling character in anyone else's hands. But McShane brings such a palpable mix of swagger and sweetness to King Silas that his character rivals the most complicated, touching yet terrifying patriarchs to inhabit any screen, small or large. Think of Robert Duvall as "The Great Santini" or Jack Nicholson in "Heartburn" (or even "The Shining"). McShane is just as convincing when Silas is kissing his children and calling them "puppy" as he is when Silas is threatening his foes, with his wild eyes and that predatorial set to his teeth. McShane savors each line or spits it out with brute force, but either way, he absolutely owns the script. He moves like a shark or a teddy bear, depending on his mood. Even those viewers who find the notion of aristocracy disturbing will accept this man as a king. McShane's Silas was born to nurture and protect a struggling nation!
The only bad news is that I'm guessing we won't be hearing "Cocksucker!" come out of his mouth. But at least there's always Deadwood on dvd.

Most Beautiful Music I've Ever Heard - #17

I caught Philip Glass performing after the release of his "Solo Piano" record back in college. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a preconcert lecture that helped explain the music (very helpful in figuring out what exactly was going on). By now some of his work seems so ubiquitous that it verges on parody. Especially when it's copied during those dumb "music video" segments those network crime dramas that I can never keep track of rip Glass off.

Metamorphosis 3 is still my favorite piece although I adore Wichita Sutra Vortex as well. This morning a 2fer. Fantastic Sunday a.m. music.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bikes in the City - NY Times


Anytime an article is written about cycling and titled, "The Wild Bunch," I'm a bit wary. But the NY Times has published a pretty thoughtful piece on riding in the city. This is a small excerpt. Click here for the full story.

Today, the Transportation Department has gotten serious about biking, and in just three years, the agency has painted bike lanes (good), constructed bike lanes separated by parked cars (great) and bike lanes separated by medians or barriers (the best) and installed bike signals, bike signs and many bike symbols painted on the street. Some of these symbols are clear, although I’m not sure I understand others. What do the biker and double arrows mean when painted on a busy street without a bike lane? Good luck?

Though bikers are hated, pedestrian deaths and injuries on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea immediately declined in the area of the physically separated bike lane, as reported on streetsblog.org, news blog of the Livable Streets Initiative, which advocates creating sustainable cities. In December, Community Board 4 voted in favor of creating a bike lane on Eighth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets.

There are still detractors; Fox News aired a report a few months ago blaming the new bike lane on Grand Street for not only clogging up car traffic in Lower Manhattan but — potentially! — putting pedestrians’ lives in danger. Less reported was the story of the biker who was — actually! — killed by a truck driver in a hit-and-run in October. But despite such criticism, people are gradually losing the car-centric view of Manhattan and are sensing that the streets are for more than automobiles.

We bikers, in other words, have been on the receiving end. Now, as much as we would perhaps prefer not to, we must stop to look at ourselves and realize that we have a little giving to do. I am talking about perceptions, about the things we should do outside the letter of the law, like the way we try not to kill the person in front of us in the revolving doors.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Most Beautiful Music I've Ever Heard - #19

The first time I heard this song I thought the Pixies might have just reinvented rock and roll. Sparse and breathtaking. The Pixies are often imitated but rarely matched these days. This is an amateur video that's actually quite well done.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pablo Neruda


Ode to Bicycles

I was walking
down
a sizzling road:
the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
the
earth
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.

A few bicycles
passed
me by,
the only
insects
in
that dry
moment of summer,
silent,
swift,
translucent;
they
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
factories,
giving
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
hard
beetle backs
of the whirling
bicycles
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.

I thought about evening when the boys
wash up,
sing, eat, raise
a cup
of wine
in honor
of love
and life,
and waiting
at the door,
the bicycle,
stilled,
because
only moving
does it have a soul,
and fallen there
it isn’t
a translucent insect
humming
through summer
but
a cold
skeleton
that will return to
life
only
when it’s needed,
when it’s light,
that is,
with
the
resurrection
of each day.
- Pablo Neruda, 1956

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Most Beautiful Music I've Ever Heard - #20

I've just recently been looking at my extensive music collection and noting the songs that somehow transcend just being a song or that somehow capture something from a time in my life. Sometimes these songs have been super poppy or cult songs or even quite obscure. But something about them has moved me because of how they affected me the very first time I heard them.

I finally culled this long list of songs and using the above criteria came up with my list of the most beautiful pieces of music that I've ever heard. I hesitated to put them in some sort of order because on any given day I could see myself flipping them around. But I'm making the attempt anyway.

Entry number 20 is a piece I heard on public radio while living in Lincoln, Nebraska, and without knowing the name of the piece, only the composer, I immediately drove to the music store that specialized in classical music and picked up a collection of his work hoping that the piece was on it. "Elfentanz" is all flash and fireworks in such a brief piece of music but there is no getting over the melodic dance going on between the cello and piano. Prepare to be wowed!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Roland Della Santa Hits The North American Hand Made Bicycle Show


If I didn't already have a lovely DS I'd be so on this new Anniversary frame from our local legendary frame builder.

From Cycling News:

Legendary framebuilder Roland Della Santa's long history includes such notable clients as Greg LeMond and now celebrates four decades of framebuilding with a limited run of special-edition frames - all of which will feature his remaining stock of Nervex Pro lugs.

Della Santa will build the frames as 1970s period pieces, right down to the Campagnolo brake housing loops, dropouts, fork tips, and bottom bracket cable guides - brazed on top of the shell. Gorgeous Masi seat stay 'spoons' are brazed up top and three slots are hand-filed into the bottom bracket shell.

A single set of water bottle braze-ons grace the down tube and all of the frames will be finished in pearl white with red panels and accents. Customers will have the option of 120, 126, or 130mm rear axle spacing and 47 or 52mm brake drops.

Della Santa says he will only be able to offer twenty anniversary framesets - limited by his stock of the long-defunct lugs - and three have already been pre-sold.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Morning Music - It's Gonna Be Alright

I'm not sure I ever really understood Ween's varied aesthetics. Sometimes it's hard to figure out when they're being sincere, ironic, offensive, or humorous. And sometimes they are all four rolled into one pop gem. But there is no denying the masterpiece that is their album, The Mollusk. This song is probably as sweet and sincere as they get.