I live for seeing those lycra-clad freaks soil themselves as my embers head towards their face.
The criterion is:
Are you using something, or is the thing in question using you?
It's clear that in our society cars are controlling us, instead of us controlling them.
We make all sorts of otherwise irrational decisions about domestic and foreign policy, just to insure that we can keep getting our fix of automotive transportation.
Yes, humans need transportation. But is a car the best option?
For most of the world the answer to that question is "Sometimes."
For America the answer is "Almost always."
And that's why it's an addiction.
I wish I had thought of it myself
In case you hadn't noticed, I tend to be rather flippant, sarcastic and heartless on this site.
Last night I did something that moved me, in a way that I haven't felt in a long time.
I went to the local Ride of Silence, a nationwide event with two primary purposes:
To memorialize people that have been killed or injured in bicycling accidents
To advocate sharing of the roads.
I arrived with no expectations. Apathy reigns supreme in my small Southern conservative town.
Much to my surprise there were over 100 cyclists there, of all ages, backgrounds and sizes.
There was a brief introductory speech along with instructions for the ride: Ride single file, slowly silently. Maps were distributed, two laps of a two mile route.
Words can't describe what an amazing experience it was. People I had never met before all bonding for common purposes. I hate to use these cliches but something about it just oozed strength and empowerment.
There were police escorts but they seemed hardly necessary. The steely resolve of over 100 people united deterred any motorist from doing anything remotely inappropriate.
When I have time I'll try to write more, I just wanted to post this while it was fresh in my mind. Alas, I only took one pic, I was too caught up in the moment to take more.
If anyone else participated in this event I'd love to hear about your experiences.
This is a serious question.
Today's regional NCAA Tournament games are being played in stadiums designed for and used by pro football teams. Venues that hold 50,000+ fans.
This is a trend that I absolutely despise.
First of all, it literally distorts the games. Players are used to shooting in arenas with much smaller dimensions (unless they play for Syracuse). Their shots get thrown off as they adjust to the different backgrounds that mega-arenas present. A mediocre defense can make a decent offense look terrible, just because the players miss shots they'd make in most other arenas.
Secondly, it takes the crowd out of the game. The great thing about basketball is the intimacy. The best venues are the ones where the players can hear the individual yells from the fans. The venue that visiting teams dread the most is Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, which holds about 9,000 people. A very thick skin is a requirement to play there. In the mega-arenas the fans might as well be in a different area code.
Lastly, how enjoyable is it for the fans to watch? I sat in the upper deck of the Dean Dome a couple times. It was impossible to see what was going on and you got a much better view just by watching the games on TV, which is why I rarely attended games in college, even though students got free tickets.
The people in the stands aren't there to watch a basketball game. They're there just to say that they were there, which is just silly.
And the fans at home get deprived of the passion and intensity that makes basketball such a beautiful game.
Why? Just so the NCAA can generate more revenue from sales of tickets, souvenirs and concessions.
I'm intentionally posting this in GD because I think this is yet another example of greed run amok that's absolutely ruining something that was once wonderful.
What do you guys think?
Iím asking this question because of a very annoying experience I had yesterday. I was leaving work. The very old Kryptonite lock on my bicycle malfunctioned. The worn down key fell out of it when the mechanism was halfway in between lock and unlock. The mechanism wouldnít budge and the key couldnít be reinserted.
I left my bike in my office parking lot and bummed a ride home. I figured Iíd solve the problem somehow today. While I was at home last night drinking beer and stewing about my predicament I had a brain-storm: I belong to AAA, a company that provides roadside assistance to members. I definitely needed roadside assistance because I sure as hell didnít want to pay for a locksmith, especially since thatís a service AAA members get for free.
I called just to make sure the situation was covered. The conversation did not go well. I would have been fine if the talk with the Customer Service Representative had gone like this:
CSR: Youíre calling the American Automobile Association. Automobiles have four wheels. Bicycles have two wheels so please, STFU so I can GBTW.
Instead hereís what happened. I was put on hold while the CSR talked to her supervisor. She came back on the line and said I wasnít covered because the situation didnít involve a vehicle.
Since when is my bicycle not a vehicle? I use it to get to work almost every day. Work, that place that pays my salary so I can spend money on things like AAA membership so I can get roadside assistance when I need it, or not.
She said my bicycle wasnít a vehicle because it didnít have a motor, or tags or registration. Well, fine. AAA only covers vehicles with tags and registration but that doesnít change the reality that my bicycle is a vehicle does it?
Things went downhill from there. I asked her for a link to the AAA policy that said I wasnít covered. Hereís a cut and paste of the page she sent me to:
ďIf your keys are locked inside the vehicle, service will be sent to gain entrance. If your keys are lost, broken, or the service provider cannot gain entrance to your vehicle, locksmith service or reimbursement for locksmith service up to $50.00 will be provided.Ē
I must be stupid. I donít see anything in that paragraph that says they only cover motorized vehicles. I asked the CSR where it said my vehicle had to be motorized, registered, etc. She said that was in the handbook. I asked if the handbook was online. She said it wasnít. (Actually it was)
It seemed like the entire conversation took place between people speaking different languages. I understand that AAA wasnít going to pay for a locksmith but it bugged that hell out of me that she kept saying they werenít going to pay for it because it didnít involve a vehicle.
Now I understand what Samuel Jackson felt like in Pulp Fiction:
Say vehicle one more time. I dare you.
Instead I restrained myself and ended the conversation before I said something Iíd regret.
So my question is how did we get to this point and what do we do about it?
Automobiles come in handy if youíre traveling long distances to isolated places or carrying lots of cargo but are they really the only vehicles in our society? Are cars so dominant in our culture that any other mode of transportation is just esoterica? Are bicycles like the Swinginí Medallions? A band that only the snobbiest of music snobs would recognize?
Am I crazy for being deeply offended that some stranger claimed my favorite mode of transportation isnít a vehicle?
This post is inspired by laziness, not a desire to provoke flames. I know that automobile usage is subsidized, I just don't know how much. Are there any sites that provide this information?
I'd like as much factual information as possible before forming judgments and opinions on transportation issues.
It seems quite complicated. Just in my small city the difference between taxes that only apply to automobiles and expenses related to automobiles is a few million dollars.
Do any sites go to the trouble of analyzing all the government budgets in this country and gleaning the essential details?
How much money are we talking about?
Can anyone help me out?
Here's what I came up with:
I just don't see any feasible way to enact a rationing program. The rich will find loopholes to prevent any changes from affecting them. It's not a question of whether or not I think that's right, that's just the way things are. If anyone knows how to change that I'd love to hear about it.
Earlier I asked a simple question: How much gas should people be able to buy every month? Your answer was to say people could buy as much as they want, just every other day.
I still want to know: how much gas is it reasonable for a person to consume? Just pick a number.
Should some folks get higher rations? Who and why?
Obviously I think we all should make sacrifices. We just disagree on methods.
Here's what I think we should do:
Set examples by using automobiles as rarely as possible. People in my area have all sorts of excuses about why they need their cars. The fact that mine stays parked the overwhelming majority of the time refutes most of them. I do talk about my lifestyle way too often for my friends' taste.
Point out to our employers that it makes good business sense to promote alternatives to driving for employees to get to work. The EPA even provides technical assistance and financial incentives for employers to go this route.
Lobby local governments. People that you have access to that can actually implement change. A national program to conserve oil would be great but I don't personally know anyone that makes national decisions.
That's it for now.
Have a great evening and rest of the weekend.
PS: Here's the beauty I soaked up. I think I consumed about three gallons of gas doing it. Sorry.
Waking Up Scene: Overture: Love theme From Brainwasher, Bare Jr.
Average Day Scene: Under-Assistant West Coast Promo Man, Rolling Stones
Buddy/Sidekick Scene: 5:15, the Who
First Date Scene: Norwegian Wood, Beatles
Falling In Love Scene: What I Like About You, the Romantics
Love Scene: I'm In Love, dB's
Fight Scene: Anger, fIREHOSE
Breaking Up Scene: Song For the Dumped, Ben Folds Five
Getting Back Together Scene: Cosmopolitan Lovesick Blues, Right Profile
Secret Love Scene: Cigarette, Smithereens
Life's Okay Scene: The 59th Street Bridge Song, Simon and Garfunkel
Mental Breakdown Scene: Territorial Pissings, Nirvana
Driving A Car Scene: Roadrunner, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Learning A Lesson Scene: She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride, Taj Mahal
Deep Thought Scene: Maybe Partying Will Help, Minutemen
Flashback Scene: Follow You All Over the World, Marti Jones
Partying Scene: Peach Kelli Pop, Redd Kross
Happy Dance Scene: Got My Mojo Working, Muddy Waters
Regretfulness Scene: Tower Song, Townes Van Zandt
Long Night Alone Scene: Sometime, Son Volt
Death Scene: Angels and Fuselage, Drive-By Truckers
Closing Credits: Sunsquashed, Yo La Tengo
I might post more if there's any interest.
Answers available when / if I get around to posting them
1) Danny went home and killed himself last night
2) Donít it make you want to rock and roll all night long?
3) Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street
4) I just canít find the time to write my mind the way I want it to read
5) How smart are you? How dumb am I?
6) I done enjoyed things that kings and queens will never have
7) Itís crazy but Iím frightened by the sound of the telephone
8) Wonít you lend your lungs to me, mine are collapsing
9) Every couple nights or so you know you pop into my dreams
10) Iíve tried everything that whiskey cures, but the pain endures
They are contrivances to trap the feet of the unwary and skin the nose of the innocent. They are full of guile and deceit. When you think you have broken one to ride and subdued its wild and Satanic nature, behold, it bucketh you off in the road and teareth a great hole in your pants.
Unidentified Baltimore preacher in 1896, quoted in a book I just read about cycling. Just thought I'd pass it along.
I just picked up Al Gore's latest book and read the index first. I noticed that he quotes I.F. Stone's book In A Time of Torment. I retrieved that book from my shelf and started thinking about how great Stone was as a journalist: tenacious, uncompromising, witty, smart, capable of digging up gems that are hiding in plain sight.
Who's doing similar work today?
I can't think of anybody but if they're out there I'd love to know who they are.
I know that SUV owners got a lot of grief on this site and Iím guilty of dishing out my share of it. After this weekend Iím feeling very squeamish about that.
I was up in Virginia riding the New River bike trail with a friend. We had to spend an hour waiting out a thunderstorm under a picnic shelter and were a bit behind schedule but we figured we could get most of the trail in if we hustled.
We were twenty miles away from our car when my friendís back tire exploded. This was no simple flat tire that could be fixed with a spare inner tube. This was a mangled tire that couldnít be repaired. We turned my friendís bike over and were trying to figure out how many miles we could coax out of the damaged tire. While we doing this another cyclist approached and asked what the problem was.
We explained our situation. He said he was parked a mile away and offered to take us back to our car. When we got to where he was parked he said he lived a couple miles away and just had to go home to get a bike rack. He was driving a big giant Yukon, the sort of vehicle that I've occasionally been tempted to put one of those: "I'm changing the Climate, ask me how" stickers on.
My friend and I were slightly nervous and wondering about the logistics of the situation. We didnít want to be separated due to paranoia in this modern world. (Iím a man, my friend is a woman). The guy returned 15 minutes later. He apologized for not thinking of bringing us something to drink. He had a rack that could accommodate both our bikes and there was plenty of room for both of us in his SUV. We apologized for our condition since we were covered in mud from the trail. He said not to worry about it since he used his SUV for hauling his recently deceased chocolate lab and that it was already dirty.
To get back to our car the guy had to drive over 30 miles each way. (The bike trail is much more direct than available roads). We had a really nice time talking to him and hearing about his life. He was one of the nicest and most interesting people Iíve ever met.
When we got to our car I asked him if I could at least give him some gas money. He refused payment of any sort. He just said to make sure we helped someone out when we could. I was humbled and relieved. If that stranger hadnít found us our only option was to walk back to our car which would have taken several hours and kept us on the trail long after dark.
I guess I did learn something that I already knew but occasionally forget: thereís goodness everywhere in this world, even in the most unlikely places. Always give people a chance, no matter what youíre predisposed to think about them based on things that may or may not be rational.
Play it forward folks and donít be so quick to judge. Look out for your fellow man. I realize that most people who know me on this site think Iím a bit of a goof and a prankster but every once in a while something happens that does make me think in a serious way and preach about things that are important. This was one of those times.
Thanks for listening / reading.
This is a serious question and I'm asking because my town is debating new regulations for nightclubs about minimum security standards. The standards won't apply to restaurants, even ones with large bar areas.
Of course lots of those those restaurants tend to be chains like Hooters and Applebees while most bars in this area tend to be locally owned and operated. This just strikes me as yet another way that the "little" man gets screwed while the faceless giant corporation catches another break.
What do y'all think?
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