Thursday, December 25, 2008
As I've gotten older, Xmas has lost a bit of its edge, but I still like presents as much as the next guy. It's just harder to buy for me because I've lost interest in a lot of things that you get 40 year old men - stuff for cars - and what I really want - stuff for bikes - I get for myself all the time. I do manage to hold off and make a list and I got some good presents this year. Some family members latched on to my newfound interest in growing vegetables and fruit.
One problem with having a far flung family is that a lot of the stuff is shipped. And from the middle of nowhere, stuff gets shipped in big boxes stuffed with these...
The dreaded styrofoam packing peanuts, destroyers of landfills. And they get all sorts of static cling on them such that they jump off and hide everywhere, you find them all over your house until next Xmas. A lot of shippers moved to plastic blow up bags that are not nearly as crappy, and now there are some that use shredded newspaper stuffed into recycled paper shapes - good stuff. But in the boondocks shippers don't want to pay extra to hug a tree - and here come the styrofoam peanuts.
Dilemma - What to do with them?
I got rid of multiple boxes - including the peanuts - on Craig's List It's amazing what you can divert from your trash can on CL. Even better - try FreeCycle. Over the years I've managed to get rid of all sorts of things that would otherwise be piled up in our landfills - there is a college student in Reno sitting on my old couches from Lake Tahoe to this day. My less enlightened management company was going to charge me $150 to haul them off to the dump - I told them to give me a week. I knew there had to be someone less finicky willing to give extra life to my old couches - still functional but not exactly goodwill quality.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Reprinted with permission from the author
From: Michael Anderson
This morning while riding in the right lane heading east on Geary St. in front of the Curran Theater, I got "corked" by one of San Francisco's finest. His name: Sergeant M.G. Cesari. The officer came within inches of hitting me and then cut me off, causing me to slam on my brakes and swerve to the right. No siren, no lights, no warning at all! It was an attempted vehicular assault. Sgt. Cesari stepped out his car, and asked me for my driver's license. When I asked him why I was cut off, he became more annoyed than before and demanded my license. When I insisted on knowing why he needed my license, he told me I was impeding the flow of traffic. When I informed him that there was obviously no bike lane and that I'm allowed Full Use of the Lane, he told me that either I show him my license or he would take me to the station. I showed him my license, and after taking his time, he handed me a ticket to sign; CVC 22400a Impeding Flow of Traffic. When I told him that thi
s was outrageous and wouldn't sign the ticket, he told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back! I said to him " you gotta be kidding me". He responded by saying that this is the last time I'm telling this to you. I reluctantly told him to show me the ticket and I'd sign it under protest.
And yes I got his badge #: 155. I also took pictures but I have no witnesses.
After this incident I headed straight to the SFBC office, where Andy helped me out and gave me some excellent advice. Next stop, Office of Citizens Complaints.
And this all happened after a lovely morning of Christmas Shopping.
Thanks again to Andy Thornley!
Be careful out there. Happy holidays to my fellow bicyclists.
The right lane of this section of Geary is a bus only lane - 24 hours a day. Bicycles are allowed to use a bus only lane. While motorists often
feel free" to use this lane, to claim that one is "impeded" by a cyclist is a little irreverent, given that the car is not supposed to be there in the first place.
Mr. Anderson claims that there were no buses to be seen. What exactly was he impeding? And if there is no traffic (aside from himself - bikes are traffic) allowed to use that lane, he could claim that he is in line with the CVC - "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than
the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall
ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway"
And where is SFPD when someone "impedes traffic" by double parking in a bike lane?
Perhaps double parked in front of a Starbucks?
As far as I am concerned this is just harrassment. Maybe that's a bit too holy - but at the very least it's a waste of the officer's time. If only the SFPD could be as crackerjack about those 100+ homicides in San Francisco this year.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Wow. Peoria. Not exactly what I considered the hub of the Transport world. There is a train from Chicago to St Louis, that I even tried to take once. It was sold out, strangely enough, apparently it's gotten quite popular. Despite the fact it basically goes through a bunch of cornfields, LaHood stated that people from Central Illinois don't want trains going through at those speeds. I dunno, as a kid visiting the metropolis of Gardner Illinois I would have probably been thrilled to see those trains come whizzing through. Of course, we'd need to figure out how to keep people from getting hit by them, but plenty of people manage to figure out how to get killed by Caltrains going at much lower speed. As for cutting through people's fields - my father-in-law is already being approached by Wind Farmers who are trying to put windmills on farmland down there, why not some better train tracks?
One plus for LaHood - he co-sponsored the Bicycle Commuter Act. Of course, so did 64 other representatives, so it's not like he really stuck his neck out on that one. It did get snuck into the bailout bill, but I find it very humdrum. $20/month subsidy for people who bike to work. Great! Except that if you already participate in a pre-tax transit benefit, you can't take advantage. People who bike often are people who take transit, even if they aren't multi-modal commuters like the Caltrain bike cohort. For example, I know people in SF who bike to work, don't own a car, and also have a MUNI pass. A MUNI pass is $45. In order to get the bike benefit, they'd have to forfeit their much larger transit benefit.
The transit benefit itself is a pretty good deal, but I find it a bit annoying as well. The current monthly limit for pre-tax contributions is $115. My monthly Caltrain pass is $198. So I certainly think the limit is too low, especially since I also use BART and MUNI to get around, I could probably blow through $220 or so a month.
Of course, if I were so damn holy I could just move closer to work where my pass would be cheaper, you might say. Allow me to retort - the only reason I moved to SF in the first place was because there was a very viable transit option. More to the point - there is also a pre-tax commuter benefit for PARKING. Parking? What the hell. Why are we subsidizing the parking of someone who drives into work?
Don't answer that question. Answer this one instead. Why is the pre-tax maximum for transit $115, and the pre-tax maximum for parking $220! Especially since most places (SF, NY, Chicago) where parking near places of employment costs $220 a month have excellent transit options. And what really rubs me the wrong way - if I COULD get the bike benefit AND the transit benefit, it would still be substantially lower than the subsidy given to people for parking!
I have taken the matter into my own hands a tiny bit. There is a bit of a 2nd hand market for commuter checks on Craig's List. Some of this is the result of people getting the checks and then changing jobs and not needing the commuter checks. More likely? Some companies just give you the checks if you apply for them, rather than making you contribute money pre-tax. Some people have figured out that they can take the benefit and re-sell it. I figure the employee and I can split some money that otherwise would go to the feds, and I can funnel it to Caltrain.
I managed to finagle $290 of checks for $250 from someone. Most of the checks (greater than $115) had the same expiration date, the way I figure it she and her co-workers were collecting the benefit monthly and it was her turn to sell them. She definitely wasn't ditching ones she couldn't use - she didn't even know where the Caltrain station in Palo Alto was at, and some denominations were greater than a SamTrans or VTA monthly. Some day maybe I'll be buying "Biker Checks" from some 370 pound wheelchair bound "cyclist" who had some extras!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Anyway, turns out that maybe the Cognac was a bit overboard.
Three Raiders rookies came in to return Johnnie Lee Higgins bottles of cognac. Johnnie has taste....especially when someone else was paying. These rookies probably see some of the writing on the wall for a three-win team.
Coming up with the $4200 cash at noon was impossible as we deposit cash to the bank every night via the armored truck. We asked them to comeback at night and fortunately when they did they dropped $1,000 on three bottles of Ace of Spades champagne. Still had to come up with $3,000 for them.
Kind of crushed our gross margin for the day.
Wonder if Lance has to buy Cognac for Contador?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Author of the Blog is a daily BART commuter. Last week was her husband's Holiday Party and hubby - who drives for work - was trying convince her to take BART to the party in SF, and she was pushing back. She was stepping out in her finest after recently giving birth and wasn't necessarily thrilled with going out onto BART all gussied up.
At first he conceded, but eventually they ended up taking BART. Part of the rationale was so that both of them could knock a few back without having to worry about designating a driver. Good thinking, Drunk Driving is most unHoly.
Overall - she was happy - "So, in the end...yes, I conceded but I was glad to have taken BART although I have to say, it was an unpleasant ride to the city being overly crowded and full of passengers who did not care much about personal hygienes"
The unpleasant ride included "One guy picked his nose and grabbed on to the safety bar, one women scratched her inflamed acne before holding on to the pole, while another sneezed into the hand that held on to the handle."
Students of the Reptilian Brain or Freakonomics would love this one. Saturdays in December are loaded with Holiday Parties in San Francisco. I rode down the Embarcadero, it was packed, with people who can't drive sober, let alone drunk. The most egregious was some guy who whipped out of the traffic lane, made a quick stop in the bike lane, rolled down his window and asked THE VALET if he was leaving so he could poach his spot. Amusing.
Now imagine those people driving home. What is more scary - sharing a BART car with an inflamed acne scratcher, or sharing the Bay Bridge at 65 MPH with hundreds of drunks. Just because YOU have a designated driver does not mean the person in the next lane does. But the reptilian brain cannot see, sense, or fear the drunk 5 yards away because of the layers of metal and glass, yet the flight response is triggered by a guy picking his nose.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It was actually a pretty respectable rainstorm this morning. I started getting dumped on in the Mission, so much so that I almost bailed to Warm Planet given that the 7:19 bus meets an nVidia Shuttle. I decided instead to suck it up to leave me afternoon flexibility.
Caltrain certainly wasn't full this AM, but I saw plenty of tweets so there were plenty of other hardy souls. But I'm not very concerned about getting bumped tonight.
And of course, I got out of bed, rode in the dark and the rain to get an early-ish train because I had a 9 AM meeting, and I would want plenty of time to get showered before the meeting. The only other party attending said meeting was 15 minutes late - "THE TRAFFIC IS ALWAYS HORRIBLE WHEN IT RAINS".
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I am a fan of eating local when possible. Regardless of whatever else companies might be doing, if the product is local, it has been transported less distance. There are other factors and you can (I certainly do) drive yourself crazy picking the best option. Is the company local but making products with food shipped in from wherever? Certainly the guy at the farmer's market selling organic bananas isn't growing them in Watsonville. I support Clover-Stornetta farms not only because of their Moo-Cow billboards, but because they have signs outside various random local dairies giving me at least the impression that they are sourcing dairy products locallly, and in fact supporting local dairies outside of ones they own. And they have a good variety of Organic products. Of course being an extremely self-flagellating holy environmental warrior I wonder how much I don't know. In the end, they also donated a crapload of land near Manchester California for public open space, so they can't be all bad.
Anyway, the best way to verify you are eating locally produced food - produce it yourself. Tonight we'll be dining on some serious argula and spinach from our winter garden. I spent more time trying to verify how I am supposed to harvest this stuff than actually harvesting it. The theory is that you cut the shoots and the stuff grows back (and in fact if you don't cut it back, it goes to seed, as I found out with my basil this summer).
Here are the results!
The other day I got an email from him that Oakland Raiders Wideout Johnny Lee Higgins had stopped in the store. Apparently the Raiders must have the right tools to party properly, as Higgins purchased BOTH of Joe's bottles of Louis XIII cognac - priced at $1900 a bottle. Not only that, Joe had to give him directions to the two other BevMo! stores in the Bay Area that had single bottles in stock - apparently a Pro Wide Receiver needs 4 bottles to party properly. Maybe they were gifts for Al Davis.
I just got a text from Joe - "guess that cognac worked - 40 yd receiving TD for Johnny Lee Higgins!"
Of course this makes it 28-7 New England - apparently Johnny Lee wasn't sharing the love.
Friday, December 12, 2008
To me, cycling is best done in large numbers. Give me the Solvang Century with 5000 riders any day of the week. Davis Double? Check. Riding Solo? Bullshit. But if you are going to ride with others, there are rules by which Dudes must abide, and this depends on the ride itself. I'm not talking about rules of how to ride your bike, I am talking about decorum and respect for the people with whom you will be spending the next couple of blissful hours with - don't start off the ride with bad karma.
1) "The Ride that's been going for years" (Spectrum, Valley, Noon). This ride has only one rule. "Starts at X:XX". If you're late, you chase. If you get dropped, that's your problem. Everyone meets at the coffee shop and the biggest swinging dick notes that he owns that position and says "LET'S GO".
2) "Ride with your buddies". You know everyone coming on this ride, or if not it's just because someone has brought along someone worthy. You set a time, suggest a route, and we're on. Everyone says yes or no, often you ride to the start together, and you wait for everyone to show up. This ride is by definition "No Drop", which means whoever is in the best shape repeatedly tries to drop everyone and then nonchalantly sits up, then bitches that they haven't been able to get out and ride much.
3) "The Mailing List Ride" (SF2G, GGTC, WNR, bikeforums) This one is the most complicated and the primary focus of today's lesson. Someone sends out a ride notice, with a general description of route and pace. People are encouraged but not required to RSVP. Some people just show up without notice. The ride leader is required to show up, unless nobody RSVP's in which case the ride leader can start drinking to excess and oversleep the ride, the lurker can suck it if he was so non-committal as to not RSVP.
The mailing list ride is perhaps the one place in cycling where sandbagging is punished. Advertise a "NO DROP" ride, and Aunt Mildred might show up on her rusty Schwinn expecting a guided tour of half of Marin County. Because one thing you are required to do if you are the "Ride Leader" and you advertise it as "NO DROP" is that you make sure everyone makes it home. If you were hoping to spend the day in a blissful bath of lactic acid and pokey and dopey show up, that's your problem. "Ride Leader Sweeps"
Years ago the day after Davis, I went to a "Beginner's Ride" around Paradise Loop with the SFTri Club. I figured 30 painfully slow miles might be just what I needed after 200 brutally hard miles the day before. The "Ride Leader" promptly went off the front (in her aerobars of course). First I had to "rescue" some guy whose derailler hanger broke and threw the derailler into his spokes, tearing apart the wheel. He was of course "Getting ready for a my first triathlon, but it's only a half Ironman, next weekend". Not only did he not have a marginally working bicycle, he didn't have a cellphone. Wonderful.
Next, way out on the backside of Paradise, someone flatted. As I watched the "Leader" ride off into the mist, I examined the situation. Rusty Nail through the tire. The 26 inch tire. Mounted on a bike with no toolkit, no spare. After removing the wheel, there were 2 massive punctures. 30 minutes later I had managed to McGyver patches onto his tube and get him rolling again. 31 minutes later someone sent back by the "Ride Leader" showed up, saw that we were OK and he tucked back into his aerobars and rode off, leaving me to nurse the newbie back to the Marina where I dropped him off at a bike store and barked at him to get a bag, levers, and a tube. I rode home and sent a nastygram to the tri club mailing list expressing my disdain for the "Ride Leader" and the fact they didn't tell their "Beginners" to show up with at least the barest of tools.
Which brings me to today. After my Wednesday Ride was a 3 hour bloodbath with just 2 riders the whole way to Mountain View, I was hoping to ride again on Friday at a slower pace with more people. SF2G always rides on Friday, but nothing had been posted. So I broke the seal and send out the smackdown, taunting people who would be so softcore as to use the cold weather as an excuse to not come out. It worked - 18 riders showed up at 6:30.
Friday is always "No Rider Left Behind" which is not exactly "NO DROP", but close enough for Google work. I stretched the legs out on Cortland and a little bit more on San Bruno Ave. We regrouped at Bayshore, after the three little hills were over. As we rolled down Tunnel, Scott Crosby rolled up and said...
"Dude, Why am I sweeping your ride?"
He had a point. I did put the first post out. And while I wasn't exactly off the front, I wasn't waiting up for the back end either. One could try to excuse this by denoting that we had 18 riders and multiple groups were sure to form, but this is bogus. If someone who doesn't know where they are going is dropped off the back from the last group, the "Ride Leader" is to blame.
However, there is a Corrollary to the "Ride Leader Sweeps" rule. If the "Ride Leader" is married and his wife is 7 months pregnant, and what is being swept is this...
The "Ride Leader" has the right - nay the MORAL IMPERATIVE - to relinquish his duties as sweep to a single Male from the pack.
Now, Scott has a lot of miles in his legs. He knows more about cycling than most people will ever hope to know. So not only does he know the "Ride Leader Sweeps" rule as he pointed out, but he most likely knows "The Corrollary". What gives? Scott was probably taking it to another level and just blowing me shit. What Scott was not accounting for was that I have a lot of juice with the Bike Gods due to my extreme levels of piety and general Holiness. While I was willing to forgive Scott his transgression and immediately re-asserted myself as sweep, the Bike Gods were not amused. They struck down with furious anger and did smite Scott with their karma as before I could even relate to Scott my sincere aplogies for my transgression, his tire was rendered sans l'air.
The Bike Gods had rendered their verdict. However, even the most pious of cyclists must respect the Bike Gods at all time. I fell prey to human frailty and let myself be amused by Scott's fate. The Bike Gods turned their vengeance upon me - after the rest stop they brought Scott back to the group and allowed him to foment a split in the Autobus, stealing 3/4 of the harem. In the end, much like on Wednesday, I rode in a group of 2 people from San Mateo to Mountain View. Fortunately my last companion was genial and jovial, the sun was rising over the San francisco Bay, and everyone arrived at their destinations intact.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
If it were not for the accidents described in letters from bicyclists relating to the Market and Octavia streets freeway onramp, their complaints would be amusing. Why? Because the no right turn law from Market Street onto the freeway is a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Bike Plan mandate.
The SFBC set up this ludicrous situation and now they wail loudly when the obvious occurs. The solution is simple: Put in a right turn lane and traffic light for cars -- and require that cyclists dismount and walk their bikes across the intersection during a pedestrian countdown. (emphasis murph's)
That is a win-win solution, because then cars could turn and cyclists would be much safer. But since it means cyclists must give up some of the privilege they feel they deserve, it will never be implemented.
-- Kim Kubik, San Francisco
I have a better idea.
require that drivers get out and push their cars across the intersection during a car countdown.
--> Richard Chiu wrote:
Bob, Thanks for the information. The pavement marking was originally installed to encourage bicyclists to use the new pathway through the college. It was brought to our attention that some drivers may act more aggressively towards bicyclist with the markings in place.
The Town wants to encourage various modes of transportation and does not want to do anything that would result in more drivers behaving badly. As a result, the Town has temporarily covered the markings and made arrangement to have it permanently removed by early next week.
Well, they are changing the signage. It's somewhat amusing that they are removing it based on this "result in more drivers behaving badly" instead of "because it is an illegal marking", but we got rid of it.
Chapeau to Jeff Orum, gmcpheeter, Bob Shanteau, SVBC, et all...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Illegal bike ban?
Dear Editor: Recently, it has come to the attention of the cycling community that Los Altos Hills has installed a stencil that says “NO BIKES” on El Monte Road Eastbound, just east of the Moody/Elena intersection. The town public works department indicated this was done at the direction of council due to safety issues.
Regardless of any good intentions of the town council, El Monte is not a freeway and cyclists cannot be prohibited from usage of that roadway per CVC 21960.
As such, this traffic device is illegal, and should be removed as soon as possible.
John Murphy , San Francisco
Monday, December 8, 2008
Los Altos Hills 94022 - the 26th priciest Zip Code in the US has decided that there is a stretch of their precious roads where bicycles are VERBOTEN. Given that El Monte Road is not a freeway, their little stunt is, umm... ILLEGAL.
I use this stretch of road frequently. Los Altos Hills has decided that instead I should wind into the adjoining college property onto some bike path I didn't even know existed until LAH decided to be ignorant, stupid, or both. I have never heard of a cyclist hit or injured on this stretch of road (not to say it cannot happen) but I consider the two things of equal likelihood.
1) Someone on the LAH town council saw bikes there and feared for their safety.
2) Someone on the LAH town council lives on Elena or Moody, and feared they would be late for coffee at Peet's because their trip to I-280 was delayed by some cyclist.
Per Jeff Orum on the South Bay Cycling Listserv.
Some time this week a "NO BIKES" sign was stenciled into the pavement as you are heading southeast on El Monte Road just past the intersection of Elena/Moody/College Loop. The only places bicycles can be prohibited are freeways (CVC 21960) and clearly this road is not that. So it would appear this ban is not allowed.
I've been in contact with Richard Chiu of Los Altos Hills Public Works (http://www.losaltoshills.ca.gov/contact/staff.html). He indicated this was done at the direction of council due to safety issues and the bike route is through the college. My understanding is that even if there is a bike route, bikes can still not be prohibited from alternate streets.
I did sent Mr. Chiu a link to Alan Watchel's excellent article on this (http://www.cvcbike.org/club/bikelaw.htm) and he said he would look at it and also review it with council. However, if you also feel that bicycles should not be banned on this road you may want to contact Los Altos Hills as well.
Per gmcpheeter's flickr stream we can see photos of the illegal signage.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Not really an implemented program but nVidia is asking employees to come up with good ideas to be environmentally friendly. The suggestions are all over the map, mostly impossible, but it's sort of cool. From my viewpoint, Jen-Hsun Huang, our CEO, is really into this sort of thing and very clear on the concept that what is good for the environment can be good for the company too. He rails on how much money the company wastes - "Money we literally threw into the trash" - using anecdotes about using electronic documents instead of printing stuff out, using the washable cups in the cafeteria instead of the disposable (compostable made with cornstarch) cups, etc..
Warms my holy heart. And I'm not too upset about not getting free lunch, nVidia subsidizes the cafeteria and I spend about a dollar a day on lunch (which gives employees an incentive to not drive off campus for lunch. Good for the environment, and good for the company as we get back to our desks sooner).
Monday, December 1, 2008
The lucky winner will not only have posh accommodations in the heart of Sonoma County Cycling (and of course Wine!) country, but if they time it right they can chow down on the goodies from my organic garden!
Friday, November 28, 2008
As I understand it (this whole paragraph is subject to technical error but you will get the point) - generally, the "government" (city, county, state) in California can decide not to do an EIR for a project if the impact of such project is negligible. Rob Anderson argued that the bike plan needed an EIR, a judge agreed with him. The City could have prepared a statement to say there need not be an EIR but decided it would be easier to just do an EIR. The draft is now done.
Now, how could adding in bike lanes and bike racks have a negative impact on the environment? To hear Mr. Anderson, the removal of lanes will cause a backup of traffic and cause more pollution. I don't agree - but we can look at the EIR and see what that says.
What I wonder is - did Costco need to do an EIR on their gas station? I have never ridden by this place and not seen the following scene...
4 lines ten deep to fill up, cars all running. Talk about gridlock. What's amusing is I saw a co-worker in this line as I rode to Caltrain. He lives in Menlo Park, 1 mile from Caltrain. I urged him to take the train, he said "It takes too much time". Is he factoring in the 30 minutes he spends filling up twice a week?
Monday, November 24, 2008
No need to play politics or try to convince this irrelevant batty old fool that he is wrong. I'm done wasting my time - he's in the killfile. If I do go nutso and decide to run for D8 Supervisor I will go down swinging with the statement that San Francisco needs to get things done and become a livable city. Local to D8 to me that means things like calming the traffic on the Eureka Street "Expressway", making sure that Whole Foods does not turn 24th Street into a parking lot (I love that we will get the WF but how will Noe survive the traffic influx?), and global to the city meaning getting that EIR done so we can get some bike racks and bike lanes out there, and getting the TEP rolling in this century so we can get MUNI cooking with gas. And wasting as little time as possible on fools.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
1) At work, I park my bike in a parking garage. Where I enter the garage, there is a gate that swings up and down to let cars in, you need your badge to open the gate. There is a gap on the right side that is more than wide enough for a bike, so I just ride through. One day, there was a car going into the garage. Instead of swinging to the right where there is no gate, I just followed the car. The car went through. The gate started going back down. I went through. Boom.
2) At bowling, I park my bike on a railing in the parking lot. I ride up from the BART station, into the parking lot. Last week there were a couple of cars going into the lot via the main entrance, and I noted the handicap access slot going onto the sidewalk surrounding the lot. I rode up the ramp, onto the sidewalk, to then cross the sidewalk and go into the parking lot. Problem - there is a 4 inch curb around the parking lot on the edge of the sidewalk. I hit the curb, went over the bars, boom.
Somehow I managed to get through both of these unscathed. Amazing as in the past it seemed everytime I crash, I have major surgery.
Today I had a minor incident that was not my fault. First person to guess what could have possibly caused an incident on Sand Hill Road going through Stanford gets to be Holier than You for a day. Bonus - if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can have some holier than you pomegranates from our tree in Healdsburg.
For those not familiar with this stretch of road, here is a street view of the "Danger Zone". It's like Baghdad, as you can see. I was in the luxurious bike lane on the opposite side of the road, outside of the white SUV in this picture.
This isn't really a trick question, I am just a little annoyed and sanctimonious.
View Larger Map
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I soothed my nerves and conscience with some "Carbon Offsets" last weekend. I have been a very harsh critic of the whole concept of offsets. That money people pay to "offset" their carbon is not paying the "Hoover C02 Vacuum Company" to suck the
CO2 from the air. And even if they are planting a tree out in Madagascar to suck in CO2, most of the money is going into administrative costs, and the net effect of that tree is debateable (and perhaps we should be reforesting even if we DON'T drive to Chez Panisse and take BART instead).
Anyway, instead of cutting a check, I planted 2 "Flowering Pear" trees in our yard. OK, there are my offsets. Of course, how much C02 this will take out of the air is debatable (I am as self-flagellating as I am self-congratulatory).
1) I didn't plant them from seed, the trees already existed. Of course, by buying the 6 foot tree, the Felton Urban Tree Farm will plant some new starts.
2) We had to get in the car AGAIN to go get the trees. How long until I offset just that trip!
3) Does planting a tree do anything? Among other nagging questions "Some researchers suggest forests in the snowy North might actually increase local warming by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected into space. And dead, decaying trees release some of that captured carbon back into the atmosphere." (the flowering pear is deciduous).
On the bright side - Measure Q passed! No dogs I am sure, but it's still a good omen.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
leadership of the tireless Shirley Johnson and Caltrain is ... how
would I put it? "Grudgingly listening?" We'll see. But if it were
not for efforts from Shirley's crew, Caltrain would have just rolled
their plan to slap up a few more racks and be done with it.
Here is a mail from Shirley to all those Caltrain cyclists who signed
the petitions circulating on the train and at bike related events the
past several months. Make time in your calendar to Crash the Gates at
the JPB meeting in January.
Update from Caltrain board meeting held November 6
Caltrain staff intends to present two options for modestly increasing
onboard bicycle capacity to the Joint Powers Board (Caltrain board) at the
board meeting on January 8, 2009. No word on what those two options are
yet, and we're concerned that Caltrain may not adequately address
cyclists needs. We'll need a strong presence at the board meeting, so
please mark your calendar for 10am, Thursday, January 8 at 1250 San Carlos
Ave, San Carlos.
Email Caltrain every time you're bumped
Caltrain continues to downplay the severity of the bike capacity problem.
We need to keep reminding them, so please email Caltrain every time you<92>re
bumped. You'll probably get a form letter response, but please keep
writing to them. You can find a handy email link at the top of our web
Photo help needed
We're looking for people to take photographs on trains, particularly if
you travel north in the morning and south in the evening. If you'd like
to help, please respond to this email. For photos so far, please see our
web page: http://www.sfbike.org/?caltrain_bob
More bikes, no bumps,
BIKES ONboard project, SFBC
P.S. Please forward to other cyclists or anyone who cares about bike
Monday, November 10, 2008
This argument has been debunked many times.
Apparently it turns out that taxes are not only used to build roads and pay for cops and put in stop lights and the like, they are also used to bailout the automobile manufacturers. Is this bailiout only being done with gas taxes? Somehow I doubt it...
I wonder - will the bicycle industry be begging next? My guess is no.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Every time I have seen these sorts on TV, there are always a bunch from each side at the same location, waving around their signs. How does this happen? Does the Yes side decide to have a sign waving event and call the No side to coordinate the time and place? "Hey Phil, the Holy Rollers were thinking that since it is shit pouring rain out there, we should show our devotion to our sides of the issue by standing out in the monsoon a few hours. Are you Godless Heathens in?"
Or does one side decide to start, then when their opponents see them, they put out a tweet and get the troops to rally at the same spot?
As you can see from the cyclocross photos, it was super gnarly conditions out there. I really can't see what impact the sign wavers were having, certainly people were blaring their horns at them, but that seemed to be mostly preaching to the choir. At this point the most important campaigning is GOTV - but this won't really accomplish that nearly as well as say - phone banking or canvassing.
God bless them, but I'll take my nice walk through the NV desert anytime.
Friday, October 31, 2008
With each incident that causes a delay, we strive to improve our communications with our customers. For this incident, we used our public address and visual message systems at our stations. We also continued to update the media, posted information to our Web site and recorded a message on our Customer Service line. Some of these worked well; some will be refined to provide a better service in the future.
caltrain: NPR says all NB and SB trains suspended at San Mateo T06:11
caltrain: Trains stopped in both directions: SB 102 @ Burlingame, SB 104 @ Belmont and NB 103 @ Millbrae. No ETA to restore service. T06:45
I arrived at the train station at 6:43 and nobody had a clue other than "The trains are not running". I checked the twitter feed and knew quickly what was going on. Of course this information is coming from *Passengers* - not from Caltrain. Caltrain has the info, they just have far less capability than their passengers to disseminate it. OK, sure NPR had the info at 6:05 or so, but the people who need the information the most are in the train station not listening to their radios. The message boards had vague information, but when Brad and I got to Redwood City as mentioned before we knew exactly where the trains were from the twitter feed. A one horse operation should be able to get decent information on the message boards - or perhaps dispatch official information via .... ummm... Twitter?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
In theory I could get a train at 7:59, arrive MV at 8:44, take my time and get to work at 9:15, shower and go to the meeting. Given that I could
1) get bumped
2) have some delay
I decided I would get on the 6:44 AM train. Arrive Lawrence 7:49, 10 minute ride to work, giving me a 90 minute buffer.
As I rode to the station at 6:25, I went through the Mission and cursed knowing that an SF2G ride would probably be setting up at Ritual. So busy lately I don't even check. Chances are there would be a ride, and getting up this early and not riding was very annoying. The ride would probably not get me to work until 9:45 - I could try to cut off a Caltrain downstream but that would reintroduce the possibility of
1) getting bumped - but with no time to spare
So I went to Caltrain. The station was packed with frowny faces, meaning only one thign. Darwin had struck midnight and taken another lonely soul away from us as they decided to play "Beat Thomas the Train". I checked Twitter Truck under a train in San Mateo, Fatality.
Fatality - adds 30 to 90 minutes
Car under train - adds 90 minutes more, minimum.
A co-worker and I discussed the possibility of riding the whole way, now that I was at 4th/King this was not very tempting. BART to Fremont and a ride to work was a possible play, but they opened the door and let us on a train. We decided to take that and see how far South we could get. Answer? Halfway in between SSF and San Bruno. What brainiac takes the train out of hold at South City, sends it to nowhere, and then puts it back into hold? Now we were stuck and could not bail from the train.
Finally we made it to San Bruno and more delays were announced. We bailed and rode 15 miles or so to Redwood City. I re-checked the twitter and noted that our train had now left Millbrae, we did a quick calculation and figured we had 10 minutes until it would be in RWC. I ordered a bagel at Noah's and then discovered that my calculations were off by 2 minutes the wrong direction. Somehow I still managed to make the train with food. I arrived at 10 AM, 2 hours later than planned and my meeting went to pot. Had I gone with the SF2G crowd, I would have been sweaty but probably could have made the meeting.
Photo of wreck
What is with the fatalities/accidents lately? Sheesh.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
One would generally venture that a "Big Bad City" like San Francisco would have it even worse than a genteel college town (OK, maybe West Lafayette is the genteel college town and Regular Lafayette is a little rough around the edges). So I undertook my own little research project.
These photos were snapped during my morning commute (different days). A woman riding with her child down Eureka St and another tandem on Valencia in the bike lane.
I see this sort of thing quite frequently. I probably would not recommend patting the kid on the head and sending them into traffic alone, but with supervision the kid is probably a lot safer on their bike than I am given that I take more calculated risks and ride at a faster speed. Risk - by the way - does not mean "running stop lights". It means that I generally trust drivers to adhere to the law which allows me to get somewhere faster, but this assumption is usually pretty risky because drivers tend to have an allergy to things like "turn signals" and "Looking in their mirror". This AM, for example I stopped at a stop sign and proceeded when it was my turn, only to have a driver yell at me for running the stop sign! I pointed out to him that I was at the stop sign and had waved the car *IN FRONT* of him through, as such HE was the one who had run the stop sign. Were I riding with a child, I would instead make sure I had eye contact with the driver and explicitly negotiate right of way to leave no room for doubt.
This style of riding is why you don't hear a lot of stories of accompanied minors dying in bike accidents. Sadly there have been several unaccompanied minors who have died in the Bay Area while riding their bikes this year.
I like to make the argument that this means people need to drive better, not that children should not be allowed to ride bikes. The compromise is found by the people pictured above - not only allows children to ride bikes safely, it also is more what I would call "quality time" with children than throwing them in the back seat and schlepping them to school in the mini-van so you can have time to stop at Starbucks.
I'll get my own test soon - the demon seed of Murph is only 3.5 months away.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Fortunately, the balloon simply tangled onto the quick release of my front brake caliper and I dragged the balloon behind me. I rode about a quarter mile, amused, then thought better of this as the balloon could have decided to change plans at any minute.
I grabbed the balloon and took a look, expecting "Happy Birthday Tommy" or some bunk. Nope. "TRADER JOES". Note however that the balloon is "100% biodegradable!" Awesome! I guess had I gone down it would not have been due to the eco-friendly balloon, but due to the tentacle of non-100%-biodegradable plastic that was tied to the balloon.
But I do feel safe knowing that the if next turtle that swallows a Trader Joes 100% biodegradable balloon can just figure out how to breathe through said balloon for a couple of years while that balloon turns into compost, he or she will be able to complete their fulfilling life!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Update - there is a specific email for the bike hut.
************* FORWARDED MESSAGE *********************************
I wanted to let you all know of The Bike Hut which will be of value to
Bay Area cyclists. My wife, Christine, and I recently bought a farm on
Tunitas Creek Road in Half Moon Bay - http://potreronuevofarm.org/ -
which we're transforming into a non-profit dedicated to the food
justice movement. We'll grow organic vegetables and offer nutrition
and cooking classes for local low-income families, provide
environmental education programs for all ages and more.
But we also have a one-car-garage-sized building right on Tunitas
Creek Road which is now named The Bike Hut. Since this road is so
popular for bicyclists, we wanted to provide you a rest stop and
homemade energy snacks and drinks. At the moment, there's just a small
picnic area for your use and we'll always have free water there for
you. It will probably take us a few months, but we're working on
recipes for organic/vegan energy snacks and drinks which we'll sell.
For now, feel free to stop, picnic, get some water, etc, and keep an
eye out for more developments.
We're one mile inland from Hwy 1. You can't miss The Bike Hut - it's
bright red - and a great place to take a pause before starting the
ascent up Tunitas Creek Road to Skyline Blvd.
We'd appreciate your passing the word to others in the bicycle
community. If you have any ideas on how we ccan get the word out,
please let us know. Also, if any of you are planning any rides or
events where we could be a pit stop, please contact us.
Bill and Christine
Potrero Nuevo Farm, 1045 Tunitas Creek Road, Half Moon Bay, 94019
650-726-5700 (voice) 650-726-5701 (fax) www.potreronuevofarm.org
This is a huge money making opportunity. Should McCain win, and then kick the bucket, we will have the opportunity to bid on the contract to make the "GIANT SUNSPOT BLOCKING MACHINE!" The best part is that since the world is something like
4000 years old, the cycles are probably quite short and by the time the machine is
ready we'll need to build the "GIANT ICE MELTING MACHINE" instead!
Campaigning in Nevada
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Last night as I waltzed out of the bowling alley, I heard the league drunk belch something about "cyclists mumble stop signs... mumble" and I WENT OFF. This was definitely a one too many beers night.
"EXCUSE ME? How are you getting home tonight? Driving? Yeah, you can barely walk, barely see, and you are going to get into a car. When you kill someone I will be there to testify that you are a drunk son of a b***h and make sure you are in the can for a very very long time."
He started on the stop signs thing again and I went off again "Don't give me this BS you (many expletives deleted)". Walter Sobchak would be proud - I should have thrown in a "Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!"
I did feel a little sheepish about the level of my tirade, especially since a more cool member of the league was standing next to the drunk. I left a message on Joe's voicemail. Here is the text reply...
I know who u are talking about. is Serra bowl Colma or daly city? I know some colma cops. Let's set that a-hole up. I have a feeling he already has no license."
He can fool the f**ks in the league office but he cannot fool the Cadillacs!! Bowling should be amusing next time.
Oh, and I bowled 106, 116, 125. You gotta problem with dat?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Riding down Valencia towards home last night, annoyed at missing the debate, I saw a crowd spilling onto Valencia St at 21st. The Mark Sanchez supervisor campaign had thrown open a garage door leading into their campaign HQ, and were showing the debate on a big screen TV. They had set up chairs 4-5 deep in the parking spots alongside the HQ, and then people were standing around that.
Now Valencia at 21st has its share of restaurants and the like, but it's not exactly a pedestrian corridor like 24th St in Noe Valley or Castro St at 18th. So where was all the "foot traffic" coming from?
The bike lane.
The bike lane on Valencia is probably the most used bike lane in SF except for the "bike lane" on Market. OK, I don't have any facts to back that up, but a lot of people use it (and I think Market - for some crazy reason - is used even more). Well, it's 7 PM and you're riding home - perhaps to catch the end of the debate - and you see a crowd on the street watching the debate, what do you do? You stop and watch it with your peeps. (Did I just say "peeps"?). It was cool. But the bike lane was no longer passable, and it spilled into half the traffic lane. I think it was worth it.
Apparently they had a 63 inch in Dolores Park with huge speakers, I screwed up and didn't seal the deal to go watch it there with the fixie guys and the like so our dog could have enjoyed the debate as well.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Generally I think BART is
2) Not nearly as good as the money that has been spent on it.
Generally I think Caltrain is
2) Held together with bailing wire and bubble gum
3) Very good given #2.
Except for this...
An official BART twitter feed which included today's service advisory for fatality in Pleasant Hill
Caltrain Twitter feed with many service advisories and information posted on last night's fatality - designed by Ravi Pina and content from riders, far better than any official information.
I am working from home this AM (have to meet the DirecTV guy because it's easier to Tivo than download the podcasts). So I was surfing around and found the excellent San Francisco Bike Blog . It had a link to a My Bike Lane . Awesome!
I especially like this one.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
They recently painted a white stripe on the sides of Townsend, a joke of a road with no sidewalks, diagonal parking, and several bus stops for the 19 and the Academy of Art Shuttles (no sidewalks so we'll just drop 100's of people daily to walk down the middle of the street). The stripe sort of keeps the cars to the middle of the street which is perhaps why they painted it there. Of course this also makes them think that the 1000's of bikes who use Townsend - the main route to Caltrain - have to be outside this white line in the potholes, in the blind spots of people pulling out of diagonal parking, and sharing non-existent space with pedestrians.
So I hear this commotion behind me and this car pulls up and the passenger yells "GET IN THE BIKE LANE". I think being in the middle of the conversation makes me better at the quick answer "There is no bike lane" and I went back to my conversations. He wittily responded "F**K YOU".
Several blocks later I came across Trinh Bui also riding home and we started up a chat (again this never happens in your car, or at least it should not). We were riding down 15th leisurely taking one of the two lanes (15th is one way) as there was heavy traffic and there are stop signs at each block. I heard a honk behind me and noted a mini-van. Given the opposite lane was clear and we were basically tailgating a car, I didn't pay much attention. Stopped in 3rd slot at Mission, he pulled up next to me, I looked and said "Hi" to the passenger,this prompted the driver to spew some sort of vitriol to me about blocking the road. I assessed this situation and decided to blow this one off and just rolled on at the green.
In related news - JD Power and Associates today said that the global auto industry may experience an "outright collapse" in 2009.
Another benefit of the bike commute - I stopped to shoot this picture on the way in last week.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: Free music festival in Golden Gate Park. BYOB! Great music including Elvis Costello, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Robert Plant and Allison Krause, Emmylou Harris, most of the Jayhawks, and MC HAMMER fer cryin out loud. Sets of 3 wastebins for compost, recycling, trash, and constant reminders from the stage to follow the rules. Valet Parking run by the SF Bike Coalition.
Love Parade: See below.
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Thursday, October 2, 2008
Why doesn't Caltrain add more on-board bike capacity?
The Baby Bullet expresses have proven so successful that some trains have been running out of spaces for bikes, and at times nearing capacity for passengers.
Photo Courtesy Ben Damm
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The cyclists onboard the partycar #275 hopped off from the train stranded at Hillsdale and rode to Millbrae in an informal peleton to grab a BART train home.
On BART we joined folks from 369 and 373.
Meanwhile the other passengers stood by the side of the tracks on their cellphones begging a ride home. One more reason to take your bike on board.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
As we approach the stopsign and the first car is clearing it, I start to roll by the mercedes. I'm annoyed by the whole scene and prep to accelerate through the stop and go past this guy again (noting that there are 4 cars stopped at the light at up ahead at Church) when I see a car on the cross street that had arrived at the intersection before us. I slam my brakes and put my foot down.
The Mercedes has been watching me and does NOT want to get repassed so he runs the stop sign! The cross street car slams on the brakes and blares his horn.
Next intersection - Church St, and the light is still red. I roll up to the Mercedes, slotted in 4th spot. I roll by the open driver window and say...
"you know, cars have to obey the rules of the road just like everyone else"
I then rolled to the front and left him behind...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
1) Given the "skills" of say, "Leadership", "Integrity" - which position, CEO or President of the United States needs those skills - since clearly there is no overlap. Douchebag. Hopefully if McCain/Palin win then those skills are needed for CEO and NOT President, but I pretty much have to reject the premise from this idiot (which is shared by Carly the Idiot as well).
2) "It's about the advisers they get". Like say Carly Fiorina - who McCain has now banished from speaking from the campaign (and whom doesn't know how to run a company like HP either). Or perhaps Phil Gramm, also banished from speaking and who is central to the current economic meltdown?
I've enjoyed using Amtrak but it attracts a few morons. 4 years ago I was on the train to Sacramento and overheard a woman on her cellphone imploring her Nephew to make sure he talks to his daughter and makes sure she votes for George Bush or this country will go to hell! If this isn't hell - I would hate to see it...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I set a pace just a tiny bit above what he was riding and started to monitor the situation. He had pulled into my draft, and looked to be doing fine. So I picked it up a bit. On the overpass at Wolfe he started to yo-yo a bit so I dialed it back and got him back into the draft.
At Mathilda, there is an entrance onto Central that is downhill perpendicular to Central and then an abrupt right into the merge lane. I spotted a guy on a Japanese crotch rocket motorcycle gunning it down the hill and predicted he would try to ricky-racer the turn and then try to hole-shot right past me onto Central. I wanted no part of that and sat up a bit to assess the situation. The Motorcyclist did the same. As we slowed and watched each other, the guy who had been in my draft for the past four miles ATTACKED. I let the motorcyclist by and tried to get my legs moving again, but now I was chasing a very fresh rabbit into a headwind. Then the bastard LOOKED ME OFF. This pissed me off to no end, but no matter how I might dump this guy in a time trial he had just enjoyed a 4 mile picnic on my rear wheel and it was going to take some time to catch him. Just as I was closing in to about 15 yards...
The dreaded light rail. The gate was coming down as he approached and he skirted by it, and I was stuck behind it. And this guy was not going to be penalized for his Leif Hoste-esque maneuver.
Suffice to say if I see this turkey again I will not let him suck my wheel...
Friday, September 5, 2008
And no, these are not a bunch of abandoned bikes, I rode by and checked at 7 AM, there were only 3-4 bikes there. And this was NOT Bike to Work day. Very impressive.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Hint to Caltrain - there is NOBODY out there who is thinking "I'd bike to the Caltrain station and take the Caltrain, except there's no bike rack, so I drive!" Lack of bike racks does not stop the 100's of people who lock their bikes all over the place at Palo Alto. Note - these "customers" aren't really top end users of Caltrain given the amount of those bikes that are abandoned. Now, given the state of PA station, more bike racks and lockers would be excellent, but that would mostly move bikes from fences to racks, not move bikes from the train to racks.
Lockers are great - have a bike on both ends. For example, I could bike to the train station, valet park my bike at Warm Planet and then take the train to where my bike is in the locker at Lawrence. Unless of course I miss the train to Lawrence and the next train stops at Mountain View only. Maybe I can get a locker at MV too. And one at PA for when I run errands there. In other words, lockers have only so much value. And the people for whom they are a great solution - already rent lockers.
I understand that this is a tough problem - but it's not an impossible one. Caltrain can say that this is the best bikes/trains combo out there, and they're probably right. That doesn't mean it cannot be improved. But listening to the Caltrain staff discuss the issue I feel they prepped for this job as Mayor of Wasilla Alaska.
Today (Sept 4) I'm going to hang out at Mountain View Caltrain and collect petition signatures from 4:30-6 PM.
If anyone feels like helping gather signatures feel free to drop me a line, certainly we could get you copies of blank petitions to load up for us.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
On the pavement outside of Ritual Roasters. Of course these hipsters better have ridden their fixie to their day of pontification at Ritual or they will be the first against the wall. The trendy google professionals I know are people I meet at Ritual at 6:30 AM (6:30 AM ready to start your day? Maybe in the Marines but not amongst the mission hipsters as I certainly never see them there at 6:30 AM) and ride to Mountain View (riding to work? Holy - yes. Trendy? Not yet....)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
But of course the best part is that Dr Van Der Wilt has been biking to his office since he opened it. I think he once related he was once thinking of either moving his office or switching houses, but he wanted to be close enough to easily bike. He has a rack outside the front door of the office, and his bike is there every time I come in.
He's also a big proponent of public transportation, taking the train to visit San Francisco, to see his son or watch the Giants.
Dr David Van Der Wilt, DDS, is holier than you.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
In general I am not an aficionado of these various networking sites. I have a facebook, myspace, and linked in account, but rarely use them. Facebook and Myspace completely confuse me - the user interface seems completely non-intuitive to me, and more noise generation than communicative. Of course I am a retro-grouch and long for the days of usenet, and at my former job I held on to using mutt as my email reader (I hate Outlook with a passion, but it appears I am being subjected to forced assimilation at the new job after years of resisting at my former company).
So I finally click over to linked in after someone sent me 4-5 reminder emails that I had not added them to their network. There is a part of the web page that says "People You May Know". This feature has always spooked me, as I always know all of these people but I can't figure out how Linked In knows that. Today there are 2 people I know from cycling/triathlon and one person who was a Fraternity Brother of mine in college. I can't figure out how Linked In could be making those connections from the contacts I have already put in place without also putting in a lot of names of people I don't know- but it never happens. I have seen a woman I went on like 3 dates with 6 years ago and never spoken to again on the list, primarily because she has no common friends with me - period.
We were speculating about how Linked In pulls this off. Someone posited that they are sniffing your Outlook information. Thing is - I have always used Linux and have never had any Outlook contacts. I could be getting correlated from someone else's Outlook, but the whole concept just doesn't make sense to me.
My guess is this...
Linked In has bought/acquired Evite's database and is using it to populate your "People you May Know" area. It's the only thing that makes sense to me - everyone who I have seen on there is someone whom I have been on an evite with in the past.
If so - Linked In you are ON NOTICE. That is totally sucky behavior IMHO.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The intersection at Castro/24th has been restriped. First Noe/24th, then the new striping at Castro/24th.
The question is - was an Environmental Impact Review done? I don't know, but I assume there was not one done. I don't really know the exact theory behind the fancy striping, but one would assume that it is for pedestrian safety. Great! How does it accomplish it - by calming traffic? SLOWING traffic! Absurd! That's a surefire way to increase POLLUTION! And even if it isn't - the city is supposed to do EIRs!
Of course I am being ironic here, but it's sad how accurate that seems. One thing I will say - approaching this intersection from the West on a bike, on a rainy day, will be not amusing. On a typical intersection like the one at Noe, the proper tactic is to cross the intersection away from the painted lines. Paint does not absorb water - it beads it up, ask Christian Vandevelde . On the new intersection - how are you supposed to avoid the paint!
We have 2 plum trees at our place in Healdsburg. My wife, myself, and our friend Jean spent a lot of time thinning the tree back in May in order to keep the branches from being overloaded. I was worried that the branches might break, and reading up on this I found that thinning also produces better fruit. It's true. We produced 100's of very delicious plums for consumption by the local blue jays and racoons. I got to try a few and they were great.
We have moved to a new rental in San Francisco, and it turns out there is a plum tree in the back. I went out to take a look, and a lot of fruit was on the ground but not from varmints, just from the fruit getting overripe and falling off. I quickly gathered up all the plums determined to not lose this crop. This aligns with some recent theory on my part that I want to learn how to feed myself from crops we can produce ourselves and to get local products.
These plums were not nearly as good as the Santa Rosa plums from Healdsburg, and they were not going to have much shelf life. What to do? I decided to teach myself some skills from the good old days and make some Plum Jam. Turns out to be pretty simple, dice the fruit, add pectin (made from apples and makes the jam gelatinous) and sugar, boil, and put in sterilized jars. We acquired the pectin, Organic Carbon Free Sugar (that's what the package said anyway. Probably not local however...), and some Ball Jars. Had to be Ball - my dad used to work for Ball.
My dad also used to have a lot of very prolific fruit trees. My mother filled a lot of Ball Jars with said fruit, so this had a very nostalgic impact on me. Not too much work, but we only ended up with 5 jars of plum jam, probably saving zero (negative) dollars but reducing the waste of throwing out the plums. And we'll get some goodwill from giving out a few precious jars.
While thinking about this, I walked (of course) past this "bicycle". Amusing.
"It doesn't take a war to power my bicycle". What does it take to power that car carrying your (mileage reducing by way of being on top of your car) bicycle?
To be fair, this guy probably has a pretty small carbon footprint. He lives in the city, his bike is set up as a utility bike, and it was on top of his biodiesel fueled Golf with a sticker on it that says "Biodiesel - driving still sucks". For all I know he was driving for a 2 week stay in a place with no mass transit and will be using his bike to get around the entire time. But he put the sticker on his bike, and he put the bike on the car - to me that's fair game to be owned.