Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dino Wino

These days along streets in any major city you see individuals squatting. Seems they have nothing better to do. Everything else cost money of which there's little in circulation after trillions were trickled up. Hasn't yet kept majority from motoring, but might mitigate a little gridlock. As it is it takes on average a half-hour to drive from Boston College to Harvard Yard, no faster than bicycling 7 miles there. Can't help believing squatters don't have bikes because they spent too much on their petroleum addiction. Now they bob, drop and flop like a dino wino incapable of imagining another way to get around or mustering enough energy for minimal labor or self propulsion after years of comfortably cruising.

As gasoline prices escalate, alternatives proliferate. Several manufacturers (BionX, eZee, Giant, et. al.) offer electric assisted or fully electric bikes priced for what 6 months of gasoline costs; any could easily make this 14 mile round trip on a single charge. Another interesting development is the NuVinci N360 continuously variable transmission (CVT) rear hub featured on such bikes as the Novara Gotham, which has a carbon belt drive, disk brakes, and integrated headlights run off a generator front hub. All this extra gear makes bike weigh in at a whopping 40 pounds, as much as a tandem or twice a roadie, but same as a vintage Schwinn and suitable for patrolling urban precincts. These transitions from automotive convenience cost more than typical bikes, although decent equipment tends to run over $700. You get what you pay for most of the time.

Having worn out a half dozen bikes, remind others to be smart about rebuilding versus rebuying. An advanced steel or TI roadie frame and fork can be repainted and repaired to accept a new gruppo for under 1 grand, yet equivalent replacement could be as much as 5. If bitten by greatest/latest bug, console yourself in knowledge that a car is 10 to 20 times as much as comparable cycling price points. A $99 box store one speed costs 1/20 a rust free used subcompact; a high end $10,000 road racer costs 1/20 a new Italian sports car. You can fill your garage with all cycling options above for expense of mandatory car maintenance over its usable life.

Kids learn to do things for themselves when they master eating utensils, going pottie, and pedaling tricycles. But true self reliance comes when they venture away from home to explore a bigger world, which begins long before a driver's license. Bicycles are an integral part of an adolescent passage to adulthood. Those who never ride don't seem to know how to evaluate risks, and therefore fear everything equally and inefficiently. Nothing good comes from staying put. If people want to get off dole, they've got to become mobile. Moving is essential to living. Cycling beats walking, while driving means a vehicle you can't park anywhere near places you want to be.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Butt Conserving

Waging an ever escalating battle for authority in a wastescape where churches, military, news media, police and politicians have all been exposed as corrupt, all you have left are lonesome bloggers, personal correspondents, and self. You'd hope, like Diogenes, the Cynic/Stoic of Sinope with his lamp, that at least one is as incorruptible as all those dead artists and writers you once admired. People take themselves too seriously; it's why you see so many disorganized and suppressed protests lately, from Occupy to Pussy Riot. Officials wrest control and outraged victims react badly. Nevertheless, you ought to exercise freedoms, like muscles, or they atrophy. You must always act after thinking things through; being absent, brainless or rash will kill you. Then again, so will religious bigots on slightest provocations.

Living fully means applying both body and mind. Diet, exercise and sobriety prepare you to earn a living and make wise decisions. Commuting by bike is one way to stay in shape. Some claim it's perfect, but nothing ever can be. If you live far from work and still want to ride, dozens of precautions must be observed, both in properly equipping self and riding along crumbling pavement afforded all traffic. Fear and inconvenience remain atop list of excuses not to ride. But, compared to motoring, biking is far less dangerous. This sense of vulnerability was broken down by blogger Dave Horton in "Fear of Cycling".

Labann always says, "You can ride almost anywhere at right time." Prohibited from highways, long commutes traverse narrow rural and suburban roads where motorists drive faster than usual. Suburban soccer moms spoil the safety of limited congestion. Yet all streets are empty more than full. While most roads are thick with impatience at rush hour, you can ride right down the middle of proverbial Main Street at 5:00 AM, but being alone on a bike at night is even scarier than being buzzed by school busses. As the Swiss documentary "Urbanized" explains, people are returning to cities because of rising fuel costs and sustainability issues. Bicycles suit millions packaged together. Yet conservative opinion continues its anti-bike tirade to consolidate oil profits.

Since a bicycle is not a vehicle, you shouldn't mimic motorists. You should cross when everyone else has red lights; in presence of other traffic remain right of solid shoulder line except to dodge debris and establish sight lines; slow and yield at stop signs (already law in Idaho), but stay moving so you can accelerate if needed; take to gore areas and sidewalks when otherwise unsafe on avenues and bridges; use all of road and best pavement in absence of other traffic. Motorists need not concern themselves with exhaustion, dress dependent on weather, remember to constantly hydrate, or scout and time fast routes. Not going to list again the 10 items to bring and wear. Just do it and soon figure it all out yourself.

If only those words are necessary that change minds and chart new courses, then best paragraphs are minefields of memes that suddenly explode into reader extremism or repentance. Anything else is boring or rebarbative. Imagine writers laboring for years in obscurity only to be ignored? Why bother? More time ought to be spent on making facts useful than merely recording them, more time really doing things than talking about doing them someday. But are people worth your efforts? History inevitably will be repeated by majority who doesn't read and doesn't want to be saved. Meanwhile, terrorists try to impose their will on others by attacking embassies and markets of bystanders or running for office through tactics that alienate 50% of voters. Appealing to fears and pandering to emotions will always profit more than raising awareness and using reason.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Brick Biplane

Unless you couldn’t guess, Bike&Chain was among the first books to mimic Internet surfing. Conceived in 1990, it paralleled Internet becoming commercial and going from 1% of trafficked information to 97%. Like network news and websites, its discussions are shallow and short, hopping randomly among peaks, substantiated only by reader’s willingness to accept unclaimed authority. Hitherto, books carried stamps of academic, ecclesiastical or editorial approval, studied topics in depth, and wasted a lot of time for those wanting to arrive at destinations before they die. Not quite true, encyclopedias also abbreviated facts and were arranged alphabetically for fast access, but were originally intended to end guilds, who held processes secret to exploit wealthy patrons. Once anyone could manufacture necessities, middle class and shared justice manifested widely.

A truism says, “Only in hometown and own house has a hero no honor.” Some homebodies do get cred and props. As with any generality, it’s only true so often; a broken analog clock correctly indicates time twice a day. Familiars are jealous, friends forgive your faltering first steps, and neighbors never expect anything worthwhile to whelm among them. Conditioned by availability of remote news, they tend to hire from afar, look toward horizons, marvel at successes elsewhere, and neglect own. Why is “World class” never local? It’s taboo to mingle within tribe; you don’t date relatives. Improves courting efficiency and gene pool to connect abroad. Even then, obstacles remain in bicker addiction, misogynist backlash, puerile provocation, and stranger suspicion.

Art could reflect society, but since so homogenous emotionally, genetically, and intellectually is there enough diversity to distinguish itself meaningfully? A Borg collective would be as busy and dull as a beehive, a featureless monolith. If your project doesn’t succeed in being downright different, it flies like a brick and nosedives into plain noise. Some argue that individuality is no longer a necessity, only cooperative actions stimulate progress, and thinking for oneself is offensive. Yet a stack of generalities can’t withstand onslaught of one weakling channeling might of Universe. Minds don’t even need a bicycle to spin through space and time, and that one fact is establishment’s worst fear. But Bike&Chain is only an insane paper plane tossed into a hurricane; from it there's no telling what readers will gain or retain, whether bane, mundane or wittily urbane.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Year in Song

To add to book's 1,000 entries, labored over weekend to compile another list neither comprehensive nor timely of songs related to bicycling released since this time last year. Keep doing this at intervals, but seldom find songs to add to collection of over 500 titles. Anyway, gave artist, title, and, where available, link, album, label and year.

Bellwether Ambassadors, "Bicycle", Bicycle EP, Lake Bonney Music, 2012
Billy Sans, "Bicycle Morning", Bicycle Morning, 2011
Gary Picard "Bicycle Rider", Bicycle Rider, self, 2012
It's Only a Story, "Village Bicycle" [single], self, 2011; misogynist twaddle disrespects nymphomania, and what's there not to like?
John and the Time Traveling Bicycle, [no related titles], Life As a Kite, 2012
Liam Merriman, "The Bicycle Song", Words in Music, Three Rivers Rec., 2011
One Lucky Sperm, "Dear Bicycle" [Swiss in English], One in a Few Million, Claxmusic, 2012
Sive (Sadhbh O'Sullivan), "Bicycle Song", We Are Moving, self, 2012
Sleep Decade, "Bicycle" [single], Gaga Digi, 2012
Stephan Matthieu, "A Bicycle for Max Matthews", New Music from Old Instruments, Incunabulum, 2012; and who is he, you might ask? Max Mathews, who died last year, created MUSIC, the first program to use a computer to synthesize songs. Harry Dacre's "Daisy Bell" was the first song sung by a computer just over 50 year ago. In homage, director Stanley Kubrick in feature film 2001 had murderous computer Hal 2000 sing it. Technically speaking, you can blame a lot of lame chart toppers on Max, but also credit emerging sounds found by virtuosos.
Sue Denim, "Bicycle" [single], Superhealthy, 2012; fun animated video accompanies catchy if repetitive tune
Team Me, "Riding my Bicycle", To the Treetops, Propeller Rec., 2012
Treasure Fleet, "High on a Bicycle", Cocamotion, Recess Rec., 2012
The Wigg Report, "Bicycle Religion", Bicycle Pop, self, 2011