Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice

I am singing the cold rain
I am singing the winter dawn
I am turning in the gray morning
Of my life
Toward home.

-Cheyenne poem

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Master at Work

There's nothing I enjoy more than watching someone perform at the top of their game. And with that, I have nothing else to add:

Friday, November 20, 2009


I awake to the sound
of rain
on the roof.

Which means
I will need
rain cape,
and wool mitts
on my ride to work.

I step outside
into the drops
striking my face,
washing away all the
of an unfocused yesterday.

(Image Source: Richard Masoner.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Secretary LaHood Gets It

Here's a quote from Secretary Ray LaHood on "livable communities", from the October issue of the AARP Bulletin:

Q. You talk a lot about livable communities. How would you describe one?

A. It’s a community where if people don’t want an automobile, they don’t have to have one. A community where you can walk to work, your doctor’s appointment, pharmacy or grocery store. Or you could take light rail, a bus or ride a bike.

Finally! A Secretary of Transportation that understands it's the Department of Transportation, not the Department of Highways. And I like his approach: don't force people out of their cars -- entice them. Create communities with a range of transportation choices and let people pick the ones that work for them. Cars, for some. Bicycles, for others. And for some, a comfortable pair of shoes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


From the Wall Street Journal:
"Crude prices slipped below $77 a barrel Thursday after a U.S. government report showed a higher-than-expected increase in oil inventories across the board and a further fall in refinery processing rates."

And now for the money quote:
"...refiners are still struggling due to poor profit margins and are attempting to cut stocks in the face of continued slack demand by trimming back on refinery processing rates with a fall in utilization levels to below 80% of total operating capacity."

So the next time groups like The Heritage Foundation publish claptrap like this, give them the appropriate response: Liar!

Update (11/20/09): Valero to Close Money-Losing Delaware Refinery

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I breathe.
Pulling into me
all that is in the world.
and intolerance.
A child dancing on tiptoe.
An old man weeping.

I breathe.
Sending into the world
all that is in me.
and compassion.
A smile.
Carbon dioxide.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are Humans Wired for Empathy?

If case you hadn't noticed, I donate blood and blood products on a regular basis. They used to pay people for blood, but went to a strictly voluntary system years ago. There have been studies demonstrating that blood collection centers actually achieve a higher turnout if they don't offer compensation to donors. They probably get a higher-quality product. If I'm not getting paid, I don't have any incentive to use deceit in order to donate. Which got me thinking, are there transactions other than blood where voluntary donation yields better results than compensation?

Turns out there's a field of economics asking the same question. I read an interesting article in Ode Magazine, called "The altruism in economics". The article covers the blood donation scenario, along with something called the Ultimatum Game. In the game, two players are given a sum of money to share. Player A is to offer a portion of the sum to Player B. If B accepts, they share according to A's offer. If B rejects, both players get nothing. Traditional economics would say that A should offer B the minimum amount possible, since B should logically accept any offer. Interestingly though, the typical offer approaches a 50/50 split. It may be that humans have an inherent sense of fairness, or that Player A looks at it from B's perspective and (irrationally) decides that he should offer close to half in order to get B to accept.

In either case, it gives me hope for the future. When we finally realize that there is just one Earth, maybe we will learn to share.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What are you Doing on October 24th?

Whatever it is, hopefully it won't involve the release of greenhouse gases. I will probably ride my bike (surprise!). Training ride in the morning, then grocery run in the afternoon. If I'm feeling energetic, I may ride down to the farmer's market, instead of the neighborhood Thriftway, and pick up some local produce.

What's so special about October 24th? It's International Day of Climate Action. It's being organized by 350.org, dedicated to "building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand". The number "350" refers to 350 parts per million, a level scientists have determined as the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere.

We're currently at 387 and rising, so there's a bit of work to do. 350.org recognizes it will take much more than individual action to reverse course. There's nothing wrong with switching out lightbulbs, driving less, and getting an electric lawnmower, but governments need to step up and stop subsidizing the extraction, production, and consumption of fossil fuels.

So leave the car in the garage and take a walk around your neighborhood. Let your family and neighbors know why you're taking a stand. And then call your elected representatives and ask them what they're doing to stop the destruction of our planet.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gay Marriage Left Me (and my Dog) Unable to Have Children*

Sadly, it's true. I'm sterile. And so is my dog. Is it because of gay marriage? Over the past several years, my state (Washington) has enacted a series of laws establishing and protecting the rights of partners in a committed relationship. Gay, lesbian, or senior couples can register as domestic partners and receive nearly the same legal status as married couples. Not quite where it should be, but probably as good as we're going to get.

Unfortunately, Referendum 71 seeks to roll back even this measure of progress. Remember, some of these laws have been in place for years. Ask yourself, has your marriage been destroyed? Has the fabric of society been rent asunder? I submit that investment bankers have done more damage to the American family than gay marriage. Maybe we should enact laws prohibiting investment bankers from reproducing.

Vote Yes on Referendum 71. Keep the status quo. My marriage and family survived intact. Yours will too.

*It's probably because of the vasectomy I had after the birth of my last child, but you never know. The dog was fixed when we adopted him.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Do You Really Bike to Work in the Rain?

We've been having a wonderful indian summer. A bit chilly in the mornings, but dry and sunny. I hold no illusions but that the rains will eventually return. However, the rain bike has a new drivetrain and is waiting patiently in the garage.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stops the dedicated bike commuter. Take a look at these statistics on commute method from the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey:

City State % by bicycle
Portland OR 6.0
Minneapolis MN 4.3
Seattle WA 2.9
San Francisco CA 2.7
Sacramento CA 2.7

Heading up the list is Portland, a city known more for ice storms than balmy breezes. I've never wintered in Minneapolis (#2), but I'll wager it's a little on the snowy side. My town, Seattle, squeaks in just ahead of the top-two California cities. San Diego (#22), Miami (#34), Las Vegas (#52) -- what's your excuse? It sure as heck can't be the weather.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy International Day of Peace!

Today, September 21st, is International Day of Peace. I wish you a peaceful day. And to guide you on your way, I offer this Native American prayer:

Oh Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds,
and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect,
and to be kind to each other
so that they may grow with peace of mind.
Let us learn to share all good things
that you provide for us on this Earth.

Tomorrow, September 22nd, is World Carfree Day. Leave the car in the driveway. Walk, take the bus, ride a bike. Be kind to the Earth.

I can't help but think that the two days are intertwined. As we grow more desperate to secure increasingly scarce supplies of energy, we engage in un-civil and un-peaceful acts. If we were able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, would we have more respect for one another? Would we be more kind?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Walk Away

I just read this interesting article by Osha Davidson, "What My Marriage Counselor Asked", Mother Jones. In it, he compares the current climate change debate to a bad marriage, where the two participants keep circling around and around the same issues, without ever moving forward:

"The battle between those who accept global warming and those who don't is like a really bad marriage where the two sides bicker endlessly over who's right. This marriage cannot be saved. It's time for a divorce."

It's time to move on. The clock has run out on the existential debate. We need to move on to solving the unprecedented problems that lie ahead of us:

"Journalists and others need to turn our attention to solutions. Debating solutions to global warming is a sign of a healthy relationship."

So when faced with a denier, wish them well, and tell them you've moved on with your life. And then pedal away.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thank you, Rainforest Action Network

The Rainforest Action Network draped this across Niagara Falls today:

They have a webpage regarding the action here. Nothing further to add, other than a call to action, and a link to another website.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Affordable Green

I found this post on the Sustain Newsladder website, "Shopping Green Without Spending in the Red". It forwards an interesting concept: our consumption patterns are a set of choices we make. By choosing to buy this particular product, I forgo the opportunity to buy another product. And more holistically, if I choose to spend some of my finite dollars to buy this product, those dollars are no longer available to fund other activities.

What if you turned this idea on its head? There are many issues and concerns I would like to impact in my life and in the world. Some of them require money. There are other things I don't need or care about. What if I stopped investing in those activities? I'd have more money to invest in the things I do care about.

Walk, or ride a bicycle instead of driving/owning a car. Drink tap water instead of soda or imported bottled water. Cook at home instead of takeout. Unplug the television and read instead. Get off the consumption merry-go-round.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Convert an Ecosystem Into Synthetic Petroleum

I've blogged about the oil sands and posted pictures of the destruction, but never really explained how it all works. There's a detailed explanation at the Syncrude website, but here's the CliffsNotes® version:

(1) Remove 1-5 meters of muskeg ("topsoil"), where trees, mosses, lichen, arctic fox, muskrat, beaver, caribou, and moose live. Dump it in a big pile for later use ("reclamation").
(2) Scoop up the next 10-30 meters of bitumen ("asphalt") and dump it into a mixing container.
(3) Mix the bitumen with sodium hydroxide ("Drano") and water from a nearby river, and heat to near boiling using lots of natural gas or another hydrocarbon fuel.
(4) Add more chemicals to separate the synthetic petroleum from the sand and water, then send it on to the refinery.
(5) Dump the toxic sand and water mixture into a tailing pond and let it settle for 150 years. Scoop out the dead birds every so often.
(6) Take the previously-saved muskeg and spread it over the big hole you made. Maybe plant some grass for a golf course.

Congratulations! You've taken a thriving biome and converted it into fuel for automobiles. Next week, we'll show you how to completely decimate a fish population in less than half a century.

Updated (8/27/09): The Pembina Institute has posted some photos of the mining operation on Flickr.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons

In yet another outstanding example of the ability of the energy industry to take advantage of other's misfortunes, Weststar Resources has announced plans for an open-pit coal mine on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. This project is now feasible, according to their PowerPoint presentation, because "recent scientific evidence suggests a climate change taking place in the Arctic that could see continued annual loss of sea ice and an increased shipping window".

Huzzah! And here I was wringing my hands about drowning polar bears and rising sea levels. Soon we'll have access to vast amounts of coal literally lying out in the open. We just need to strip mine and ship it to China. BTUs for everyone!

Here's the proposed site of one of the open-pit mines

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good News!

The Canadian Oil Sands Trust announced a 90% decrease in net income (year-over-year) for the 2nd quarter of 2009. Cutting the price of oil in half did most of the damage, but production was also down by 10%.

Good news! Unless, of course, you're an investor in this abomination. In which case, I cry crocodile tears for your 401K.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thanks, Jose

We had a memorial ride for Jose today. It was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, with a light breeze to keep things interesting. I found myself thinking that if Jose were to pick a day for his memorial ride it would be pretty much like today. If I carry anything with me from his life, it's an appreciation for all the simple things we are blessed with. Crisp fall days with the crunch of leaves underfoot. Mornings when the coffee tastes especially good. Cold beer on a hot day. Holding hands.

Want to experience life as Jose did? Three simple rules:
Be kind.
Savor life.

Thanks for the ride, buddy. Wish you could have been there.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I admit it: I was wrong

I was never a big fan of the "Cash for Clunkers", or C.A.R.S. program. The standards were either too lax (1 MPG increase for Class 2 trucks), or didn't target the right vehicles (more than 25 years old). And why tie it only to new car purchases? Why not give the bicycle industry a boost as well?

But in the end, results are what count, and the results look pretty good: (AP) Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the average mileage of new vehicles purchased through the program is 9.6 miles per gallon higher than for the vehicles traded in for scrap. Buyers of new cars and trucks that get 10 mpg better than their trade-ins get the $4,500 rebate. People whose cars get between 4 mpg and 10 mpg better fuel efficiency qualify for a smaller $3,500 rebate. LaHood said some 80 percent of the traded-in vehicles are pickups or SUVs, meaning many gas-guzzlers are being taken off the road.

It's not that big a surprise, actually. With gas prices poised to resume their upward trajectory, a lot of people were looking for an opportunity to dump their gas guzzlers. The C.A.R.S. program gave the trade-in value of pickups and SUVs a nice boost. Still, four grand would buy a lot of bike...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Remembering Jose

Jose almost never made it to the start of a team ride. It was always a bit of a guessing game as to whether or not he would turn up somewhere along the way. Jose knew the usual route passed close by his house, so why make the extra trip to the coffee shop when he could have coffee at home with his family. As we'd head south along the lake, I kept an eye open for him. Because although a team ride was good, a team ride with Jose was better.

More often than not, there he would be, pedaling towards us in the opposite lane. He'd make a slow U-turn and catch on. I'd drift back and check in with Jose. I don't exactly remember what we'd talk about. Definitely bicycles. Probably family. He had an ironic and self-deprecating sense of humor that matched my own. After a few minutes, I'd move back up the line. No need to monopolize his time. There would be plenty of opportunities to finish the conversation later. If not on this ride, then on the next one.

That all changed forever last Friday. While Jose was out on a training ride, a van made a sudden left turn, killing him. So Jose won't be joining us on our team rides anymore. But I won't stop looking up the road for my friend. Because even if it's just in my imagination, a ride with Jose is still better than one without.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I mentioned in an earlier post that I am a child of the space age. And today marks the 40th anniversary of a monumental day, that I still recall vividly. When those words came through the television, we all collectively started breathing again. The real drama would come hours later, when Armstrong eased his way down the ladder and jumped to the surface of another world. Kennedy's admonition would not be complete for a few more days, when the task of "returning him safely to the Earth" had been completed. But we were on the Moon!

P.S. For the moon-landing skeptics (all three of you), here's irrefutable photographic evidence we were there. The unmistakable sign of human visitation: trash!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Put the phone down, and keep your hands on the wheel

Our neighbors to the south, Oregon, have passed a law banning the use of handheld cellphones while driving. We've had a similar law here in Washington for the past year. It does seem to be having some impact, although I still see far too many drivers talking or texting while behind the wheel. I read this interesting comment from a Portland resident upset about the new ban:

"This is only going to cause more accidents. Because people will just fumble around with their phones in the seat next to them, while trying to use the speakerphone option instead. Or even worse, text with the phone in their crotch while repeatedly looking down instead of out of the windshield."

So, the implication is that it is impossible not to talk or text while driving and the new law will only force drivers to adopt even more dangerous behaviors to hide their actions. Really? What on Earth did you do before BlackBerries?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still Here

Distinct lack of posting activity for the last month. Usual excuses: work, family. So this will be a short post, just to keep the blog alive. I found an interesting study from Denmark, quantifying the health benefits of commuting by bicycle (full article here). This type of study is only possible in Copenhagen, where a significant percentage of the population bicycles regularly. Controlling for all other factors, including leisure-time activity, the study found a 40% reduction in mortality for those who bicycle to work. It's fun, saves money and the environment, and you'll live longer. Come on, join us!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nothing to Add

I usually try to provide original content, but in this case the spokesperson (Trilby Lundberg, of the Lundberg Survey) has expressed her views with such eloquence, that there is nothing for me to add: (updated -- couldn't leave it alone, had to highlight some of the choicer bits of "wisdom")

Q: As far as conservation, what are the trends you are seeing?

A: I'm hoping that consumers will see through the rhetoric about consuming less, demanding less, as faulty. It is not a given that consuming less will be good for our economy or for our personal freedom. It is not even established for our environment that we [should] deprive ourselves of gasoline for our personal mobility as well our commerce. And to suppose that it is good to do that, and pretend that we have consensus and put our heads together to deprive ourselves of this great product that makes the country go around, commercially and individually, I think is flawed. I'm hoping consumers and voters will see through that and be able to ignore some of the most extreme suggestions.

I think that there has been friendly as well as unfriendly brainwashing taking place. And when I say friendly and unfriendly, I'm talking about decades of extremist views that have now achieved mainstream acceptance. And the No. 1 item among those affecting current oil politics in Washington is the boogeyman, also known as global warming.

I don't accept it as established fact, nor do I accept that it would be caused by petroleum consumption, nor do I accept that the human species should not affect its environment. So even if it were someday to be shown to have some small effect on the environment, I see no crime. In fact, taking into account the many, many millions of people around the world that envy our way of life, it would seem more humanitarian to wish them the kind of plentiful petroleum products and vehicles ... that we enjoy ... to lift themselves out of [a] backward, poor way of life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Have Met the Enemy

And he is us.

Interesting article by Elizabeth Kolbert in this week's New Yorker: "The Sixth Extinction?". In it, she examines the causes of the five previous "great extinction" events, and proposes we may be at the beginning of a sixth. Except in this case, the cause might be a little closer to home.

Humans now occupy every continent on the planet. We may be the most "successful" large organism in history. We are certainly adaptable and our intelligence has enabled us to dominate our environment like no other species.

Through such "innovations" as industrialized agriculture and high-speed transporation, pathogens can be distributed across the globe in days, rather than millenia. Are we our own worst enemy? Elizabeth doesn't mention it in her article, but I'm deeply concerned about the potential impact of monoculture in farming. Not only are we all consuming vast quantities of a single foodstuff (corn), but thanks to Monsanto, it's all one strain. A single virus could have a devastating impact on the food supply of the entire planet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bike-to-Work Month/Week/Day

May is National Bike Month. This week, at least in Seattle, is Bike-to-Work Week. And Friday is Bike-to-Work Day. My wife sarcastically suggested that I give bike commuting a try. Which made me think back to when I first started. There was a great deal of trial and error in the first year or two, trying to find what worked and what didn't. Then my commute went from 15 miles round-trip to nearly 40, and I had to learn some more lessons. The good news is that I pretty much have things dialed in, no matter what the distance, no matter what the weather. For those of you thinking of joining us out here in the open ("All bicycles are convertibles!"), there are plenty of online resources to get you started. Here are a few:
League of American Bicyclists
Commute by Bike
Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Happy National Day of Prayer

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power,
and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness–
the children, the aged, the unprotected–
be guarded by beneficial celestials,
and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Project

I've started a new project. I'll be taking pictures every day, and posting them on my Flickr site. Most of the pictures will be taken with my Motorola RAZR, since that's what I have with me every day. It takes crappy pictures, so I will mainly be working on composition.

I like to impose arbitrary limits and then see what's possible within those limits. My all-time favorite camera is my Olympus OM-1. Fully manual, with built-in meter. No spot metering, no subject tracking auto-focus, but it will take pictures with a dead battery. I take it out occasionally and shoot a roll or two with just the 50mm. Forces you to work with your subject to get the framing just right.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


As I type this, I'm lying flat on my back. Too much gardening yesterday, resulting in a muscle spasm this morning, followed by prone typing this afternoon. Not concerned, just a little frustrated. I don't much like physical inactivity.

For some reason, I don't mind mental inactivity. I find meditation quite relaxing. I guess it's more an issue of wanting to do something I can't. I was supposed to be racing my bike today and instead I'm just lying around. The Zen thing to do would be to lie on my back and focus on lying on my back.

Maybe instead of complaining, I should take advantage of the opportunity and breathe deeply.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Should I Quit My Day Job?

This is so cool: TerraCab is offering free pedicab rides in the downtown Seattle area this summer. It's so cool, I'm trying to figure out how I can be a rider and still keep my day job.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day! Still driving? How's that working out for you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

750 Billion

I spent Saturday morning having three-quarters of a trillion thrombocytes extracted. Yep, I volunteered for platelet donation. I've been meaning to give this a try for a couple of years now, and the Puget Sound Blood Center finally talked me into it. Process wasn't any more complicated than having an IV drip, and was under more pleasant circumstances.

One needle: blood goes out, through the centrifuge, and then back in. Goes out for about a minute, then the pump reverses and it goes back in for 15 seconds. Bag slowly fills up with this yellowish-looking fluid. Ninety minutes later, there's 7.5 x 10^11 of my platelets in there, and I'm free to go.

The big test came the following day. I was told that donating platelets wouldn't impact my hematocrit, since they put all the red cells back in. So Sunday, I made six trips up Holmes Point Drive. No problems! Well, I mean it still hurt like hell, but not any more than it normally would. This is great! I donate whole blood during the off-season, but now I can donate platelets during race season.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hey! Where's my jetpack?

I am a child of the space age. Saturday mornings were spent watching The Jetsons and Jonny Quest. I grew up believing in miracles. I personally witnessed NASA progress from an organization that couldn't get a vehicle off the launch pad without exploding, to one that sent three men to the moon in less than a decade.

I'm willing to give up on the jetpack and time travel. But Dude, where's my (electric) car? It's been twelve years since GM introduced the EV-1 and we're still "2 to 3 years away" from a mass-production electric car. I'm losing my patience. I even bought stock in ZAP, hoping they'd be able to bring something to market that didn't look like a golf cart.

Is it too much to ask for an electric car that looks like a car, reaches freeway speeds, and goes 100-150 miles between charges? I can live without the hover capability and cloaking device for now.

Monday, April 06, 2009


White falls from the sky.
Is it Winter returning?
No -- cherry blossoms!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spare Oom

I've decided to get one of these. No, seriously. I've been thinking that I really haven't been doing my part to help Detroit. This will give the auto industry a shot in the arm, and will probably lift the neighbors morale: "Honey, look at that new Escalade across the street. Maybe the Dow has bottomed. Let's go buy that big 4x4 pickup you've always wanted!"

Besides, there's nothing like the smell of a new car.

Don't get me wrong -- I have no intention of actually driving the thing. But I've been seeing these ads for "man caves". Satellite radio, dual DVD screens, leather upholstery, and 400+ horsepower. Just the ticket for us real men.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I nearly missed it. Just off the edge of the path, partly covered by leaves: a man's wallet. By the looks of it, it had been there a while. Address on the driver's license was familiar and not too far away. I'm happy I recognized the street name. I recognize so few things these days. In fact, it was a bit of luck that I was out on the path that day. They've only recently allowed me off grounds. Afraid I'll wander off and not be able to find my way back.

Since it was a short distance, I decided to walk over and return the wallet. Much better to be out and about on this fine day than wandering around that musty hospital. A clear purpose. Returning the wallet gave me a clear purpose, something I've been recently lacking.

Almost there. Should be a left at the corner, and then the third house on the right. Odd. How should I know it would be the third house?

I ring the doorbell and a woman opens the door. She starts to inquire as to my business when she suddenly freezes, staring at me. I explain about the wallet and assume that it must belong to her husband, and that it was really no trouble to bring it by, it being such a lovely day and all.

She throws the door aside, taking me up in her arms, tears streaming down her face.

I stammered, somewhat flustered, "My dear madam, there's no need for that. No need at all."

"Frank!" she cried, "Don't you understand? The wallet -- it's yours."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And They're Off!

Three races started, three races completed.
Three opportunities to test my limits and finding that they really aren't.
Three times remembering what a joy it is to be in motion.
Three perfect days.

I swear, I nearly burst into song.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Alberta Oil Sands update

Back in January of last year, I talked about the Alberta oil sands in this post. Andrew Nikiforuk has a new book out, Tar Sands, that discusses the environmental disaster unfolding in the boreal forests of northern Alberta. Although I recommend buying the book (it's the only way that people like Andrew can bring us this information), it's currently available as a free PDF download from D&M Publishers. If you don't have time to read the book, National Geographic has a feature article (along with some stunning photos) in the March 2009 issue.

Should be required reading for anyone applying for a driver's license.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Messages, part 2

This was the last one. Sad in a way, how small your life looked when packed up into boxes. Particularly a life smaller by half than when you first moved into these four rooms, with a view of the bay.

The movers would be here soon. She approached the machine, and with trembling fingers touched the play button. She listened to the message all the way through, and then hesitated only briefly before pressing delete.


Somehow, without noticing, she had managed to open the door to the apartment and now found herself wandering, lost in its four small rooms. A pale twilight filtering in through the window offered no clues. The blinking light of the answering machine drew her attention. Automatically, she pressed the play button.

“You have two messages. First message.”

“Jane, it’s Lisa. We just saw it on the news. Oh my God, are you okay? Call me as soon as you get this, I’ll be right over. You shouldn’t be alone at a…”

Not now, not yet. Maybe someday, but not now.

“Next message.”

“Honey, it’s David. The plane was delayed because of weather, but we should be taking off within the hour. See you soon. I love you.”

Her body began to convulse with uncontrollable sobs and would not stop for a long time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

April Showers

From VeloNews:

American reporter John Tesh caught up with Panasonic’s Theo de Rooy after the race (Paris-Roubaix, 1985) and asked him about his day in the saddle:

de Rooy: "It's a bollocks, this race! You're working like an animal, you don't have time to piss, you wet your pants. You're riding in mud like this, you're slipping ... it’s a pile of shit.”

Tesh: "Will you ever ride it again?"

de Rooy: "Sure, it's the most beautiful race in the world!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I created this world for myself.
Into it, I put everything
that keeps me
comfortable and warm.
Even with my eyes shut tight, I can reach out
and touch the things I know are there.

Today I stepped outside
and saw
that it wasn't a world at all.
It was just a tiny globe.

When I shook it
nothing moved,
except the snowflakes
that swirled around and around.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Why so serious?

Okay, time for a break from all the gloom and doom about the environment, courtesy of the immortal Glenn Miller:

Friday, March 06, 2009

Whew! That's a lot of driving

My brother was in town last weekend, so I ended up putting a lot of miles on the car. He's visually impaired, but oddly enough, that wasn't the reason we ended up spending a lot of time in the car. He's perfectly able to travel to/from work daily, using public transportation (he lives in DC). He was also able to make it all the way out to Seattle using a combination of buses, trains, and planes.

I drove to and from the airport because our light-rail link isn't up and running yet. I drove to and from the coast because there isn't any other way to get out there. I use public transportation sporadically, mainly because I normally ride my bike. Another reason is the nearest bus stop is a mile from my house.

My brother is literally at the mercy of our investments (or lack thereof) in public transportation. He's the canary in the coal mine of what will happen to the rest of us once the private automobile goes the way of the dodo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

25 Random Things, more or less

1. is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.
2. Most of them told the time very roughly by their meals, which were unpunctual and irregular: they amused themselves with the most childish games all through the day, and when it was dark they fell asleep by tacit consent -- not waiting for a particular hour of darkness for they had no means of telling the time exactly: in fact there were as many times as there were prisoners.
3. O prairie mother, I am one of your boys. I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.
4. All your base are belong to us.
5. I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment.
6. Waffles!
7. Can you hear me now?
8. Why do you park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?
9. They talked on into the early morning, the high, pale cast of light in the windows, and they did not think of leaving.
10. This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was fast dying.
11. I've fallen off my chair, Brian.
12. Victor was dancing with a Lakota woman in a Montana bar. He had no idea why he was there; he couldn't even remember how he arrived.
14. There is no #13.
15. Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.
16. So I turned myself to face me, but I've never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker. I'm much too fast to take that test.
17. Oops, sorry. Must have dozed off for a bit.
18. When the war came to Monterey and to Cannery Row everybody fought it more or less, in one way or another. When hostilities ceased everyone had his wounds.
19. I'm not a present for your friends to open, this boy's too young to be singing the blues.
20. What's the frequency, Kenneth?
21. I’m very good at integral and differential calculus. I know the scientific names of beings animalculous. In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
22. Oh my God -- it's full of stars!
23. Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.
24. Someone has put live piranha in our swimming pool. If we don't swim there anymore, the piranha will starve.
25. You know, everyone thinks we got this broken down horse and fixed him. But we didn't. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess, in a way, we fixed each other, too.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Breathe (in), breathe (out).
Down, back, up, forward.
Again (again): breathe.
Stand: down, up, down, up.
Breathe (again): breathe.
Down, up, down, up (stop).
Coast; inhale; exhale (slowly).

Monday, January 19, 2009


My shovel turns
the sod
so the grass can be
food for the worms
whose castings provide
nitrogen used by
the tomatoes to turn sunlight
into food for me
so that I have
to turn the sod.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Black Ice

Didn't see it comin', babe.
Did not see it comin'.
Cruisin' along, all nice and smooth
Then, bam!
Flat on my ass --
still smilin'

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

That's better

I spent Saturday on the trainer, climbing the Glandon and Alpe D'Huez with Lance and Der Kaiser ("He's digging deep into his suitcase of courage!" "Oh, he's suffering. My goodness me!"). I clocked a T30 result along the way of 265W. So with a weight of 66Kg, I'm at 4.0 W/Kg. Just need to add 55W and drop 2Kg and I'll be flying!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

T30/T60 results for January

I wasn't going to publish these, since I seem to be going backwards. My excuse is that the test was at the end of a training block, and the block was disrupted by a week off the bike due to snow. T30 results were 256 watts, T60 was 245 watts. Weight was down to 66.2 Kg, so I'm holding around 3.86 watts/Kg.

As punishment, I'm starting under/at/over intervals where I do 2 minutes @10% under AT, 2 minutes @AT, and 2 minutes @10% over AT. Repeat until overcome by nausea.

Recap of 2008

I finished out 2008 with 6,406 miles on the bike versus 4,922 for the car. I was hoping for a few more bike miles, but bad weather and a child in the hospital put me behind the wheel more often than on the wheels in December. Total vertical feet was just under 400K (392,200).

High mileage month was July (698). Not surprising since 150 of that was in one day (RAMROD). What was surprising was November was the second highest (681), when all I was doing was riding to/from work and some longer training rides on the weekends.

This year, I'm going to track miles walked in lieu of driving. The definition is a little loose, but includes trips to the local grocery store (1 mile each way), and to the sandwich shop at lunchtime (not totally legit, since I bike to work and have to walk to get lunch anyway).