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Fairweather cyclist/Cold weather gardening January 30, 2009

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes.
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Looking forward to warmer weather and health. Between crappy weather and various health related stuff with family, I’ve not been able to bike commute lately. Feels shitty. Must abandon car….

We had our first “ice event” here in Dallas this week. Below freezing weather and plenty of precipitation. I used some old sheets to build “tents” over my square foot gardens. It looks like they did manage to keep my plants for getting iced over. Hopefully the veggies will still taste good.

Bike lanes and bailouts December 9, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes, politics.
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First, I must admit I’m surprised to see gasoline under $2 a gallon. I never though I’d see that again. I’ve seen gas here in Dallas for less than $1.60 per gallon. Just a few months ago it was $4 a gallon. I have trouble believing that demand has decreased enough, or supply increased, or some combination of the two, to account for a 50% price reduction. I’m not normally a conspiracy guy, and I do pretty much subscribe to the notions of Peak Oil that are so prevalent, but I can’t help but think the oil industry was taking advantage of the last days of the Bush administration to squeeze a few last megaprofits out of us.

During the campaign, Obama was talking about putting windfall profits taxes on the oil companies. Then he gets elected, and suddenly prices go down?! I think they saw the writing on the wall and lowered prices before Obama got all up in their faces.

So it looks like the “happy motoring” (Kunstler’s term) program continues, at least for a while. We’re going to bail out, or at least give a lot of money, to the Big 3 auto companies to keep them on life support. Normally I would say to hell with them, but I don’t think we need to add all those jobs to the “jobs lost” column right now. Although Robert Reich notes that even though we are supposedly doing this to save jobs, they will probably cut massive numbers of jobs anyway.  At any rate, I’ll be surprised to see them make any real changes to car design or quality, which is fine. I advocate a slow death for the auto industry, or at least a slow down-scaling of the industry. We just don’t need that many new cars on the road every year.

Infrastructure: Obama is proposing a massive public works program to rebuild infrastructure, invest in green technologies, etc. Good. I like this. Unfortunately a lot of this will go to building roads for fucking cars, instead of starting a massive redesign of our society. But whatever — its your great great great grandchildren’s money that will be paying for it. I’d just like to see some fraction of the money go to real bike path/lane/commuting projects and other good, modern, mass transit systems, so we can get off this petrochemical addiction sooner rather than later.

While they’re at it, they can rebuild the passenger rail system too.

Not sure where I’m going with this — just writing — so I’ll stop now.

End of rant.

Crossovers November 19, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, sustainability.
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I guess the newest marketing gimmick to come along is re-branding small SUVs as “crossovers”.

I saw an advertisment on the web today for the Chevy Traverse. It looks pretty much like an SUV to me. Says it can carry up to 8 people. In my book that is an SUV.

Anyway, the EPA rates this thing at 17mpg in the city, and 24 on the highway. So you know in real life it probably gets worse than that.

If this is what GM can come up with the approach of peak oil (or perhaps on the downside of the slope), I can’t say I’m in favor of giving them a dime of borrowed government money to bail them out.  Just another good reason to keep my 7 bicycles.

NYPD attacks cyclist during Critical Mass July 29, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes.
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God, I love it that there are video camera everywhere these days. Makes it much harder for “authority figures” to get away with this kind of bullshit. I hope this cop ends up flipping burgers at McDonalds, dirty bastard. He could have crippled this cyclist. 

I’m not a huge Critical Mass supporter. Part of me loves ‘em, but I think they make stupid people hate cyclists. It is an interesting reversal of power though, and I think it is good for drivers to see what its like when they are the ones who are in the minority. I also try to minimize my interaction with the police.

Carlin June 23, 2008

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A few months ago, George Carlin performed in Fort Worth. Knowing that he was getting older, I figured we should go see him while he was still around. We did — he was great — but now he’s dead, which is a bummer.

With the 4th of July coming up, and Carlin know dead, I thought it appropriate to post some video of Carlin talking about various things like  the Bill of Rights, corporate ownership of the country, etc.

Composting and bike commuting May 22, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes, gardening, sustainability.
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Yesterday the composter we ordered arrived, and we put our first load of vegetable matter into it. This little composter can be tumbled to mix things up, and the liquid junk that is produced (nutrient rich “compost tea”) goes into the base, where it can be gathered and used to add good stuff to your garden.

Of course, we’re doing this the yuppie way, I guess, by purchasing a slightly expensive little composter. I mean, looking at what we got, it is severely over-priced. But after a few harvests of compost it will have paid for itself and nurtured our garden too.

I guess the next projects will be 1 or 2 more square foot gardens and maybe 2 more rain barrels. I may look into making my own rain barrel out of some kind of old barrel or something.

On the topic of bike commuting: Today is the 3rd time this week I’ve ridden to work. I’ve really come to enjoy it, even in the increasing heat of the Texas summer. It isn’t bad in the morning, and in the afternoon I just lather up with sun screen, fill my water bottle, and totally enjoy the ride home. Each bike commute day gets me 1:20 of exercise, and saves me gas. Which is great, because I filled up one of our little Mazda Protege5 cars last night — a fairly efficient car at 26mph city — and the fillup cost $47. Holy shit!!

I just realized I haven’t written anything about punk rock on this blog, maybe ever, and it’s supposed to also be about punk. So here’s some music. But really, I don’t think there’s much thats more punk than growing your own food, collecting rainwater, and riding a bike rather than driving a car. DIY baybee.

Book Review: the Immortal Class March 31, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes.
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Probably because I read all day at work, when I get home I don’t feel like reading. Thus, I rarely seem to finish a book anymore. I’m not a big fiction fan, and lately I’ve found a lot of non-fiction to also be non-interesting.

Such was not the case with Travis Hugh Culley’s 2001 book The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power.

A few weeks ago I became interested in the world of bike messengers. After watching a few videos on youtube, and checking out some related websites, the whole thing just became kind of fascinating. If you’ve ever seen what these guys do in city traffic you’ll understand. I did some searching, and discovered Culley’s book. A quick library request, and it was mine to read.

This book is many things. It is a record of Culley’s early days as a messenger — a record of his progress as he scratched out a living in Chicago. It describes the many hardships that these working-people endure as they play their part in the city’s commercial system. Culley reviews the history of urban planning of Chicago, the role of the bicycle in that plan, and the effects of car culture upon the city. We learn of Culley’s introduction to bike activism and Critical Mass. Culley describes his boyhood friendship with a neighborhood outsider, and the lessons he learned from this unlikely mentor.

…all good stuff…all interesting and well-written…

…but I found learning about the culture of bike messengers to be the most interesting part of this work. The reader learns the culture as Culley does — from beginner to seasoned vet — from the day Travis answers a want-ad while on his last financial legs to his eventual (but not permanent) exit from the business. We learn about the close-knit culture of messengers, the support system they employ, the frantic pace at which they work, the physical danger they face, the “alley cat” races they participate in,  and the diversity of people employed in the industry (from struggling artists working to support their art to people with no goal but to keep riding).

I should also mention that the book is exciting. Culley’s descriptions of flying around Chicago are quite vivid, and really convey the rush of being constantly “in the moment”  in order to avoid disaster while doing his work.

I’ll be purchasing a copy of this for my own little collection at home. Great read.

An intense commute February 15, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude, bikes.
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Check out this dude’s bicycle commute through NYC — man — that is some serious shit!! hahahaha.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=CjR0iNT10kI

Walk, dammit, walk! February 14, 2008

Posted by concreteguy in attitude.
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Just went for a 45 minute walk during lunch. Feels good. Trying to burn off the winter flab. I think this will be the plan for the upcoming months. Need to bring my iPod so I can be motivated by Minor Threat, Black Flag, the Clash, and other good stuff.

Of course, it will soon be pretty hot outside. I’m going to walk anyway. I’ll bring a shirt to change into and some clean-up stuff. Yes, I may be a bit “used up” looking in the afternoon, but fuck it. I’m determined not to let my retarded American lifestyle turn me into a big fat blob.

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