Map My Ride

Oh, Google, the things you do for me.

This is a ride Felice and I really enjoyed. A quick 11 miles, all on paved bike paths, that's easy to do even if you've had a crash recently (this was originally a recovery ride for me) or a long day at work.


In other news, I spent several hours in the darkroom yesterday.



Mathias brought the wonderful poet Sawako Nakayasu to the reading series at Nebraska Wesleyan last night. She opened the reading with this poem, Battery:
We get lost in the desert, lost very lost, and although we aren't
going to tell anyone that we can't possibly be any more than two miles
from civilization, the fact remains that we are lost very lost in the
desert very desert, and the car very car is having a hard very hard
very hard time getting started up again, and so we kick it very kick
it in its ass very ass and the car is still having a hard very hard
time and we are feeling lost all the more lost very lost in this
desert very desert, and there is no one around us no no one very
around us at all very all and there are birds very birds of which
there are many very many, but the birds very birds don't know don't
know how to help us and us and us help start the car very car and we
are more lost more lost and we need help need very very help need very
very help help and there is no no no one aroud us except if you count
count count those ants in the ant hill that is all we have all we have
are the ants very ants and then we wire them up yes wire them up yes I
said wire wire wire and with the force of all the ants all wired all
wired up and then on the count of three we all yell "CHARGE!"

Wow. There were several poems from her ant series, some works she'd translated from Japanese poets, a hockey love poem, and more. I was just floored by her reading and her work, like at no other reading I've ever seen. Also, I'd really like to make some animatronic ants now.

Looks like this fellow beat me to it.

That's ok. I can't build robots anyway.


Apparently, Bikes Aren't Transportation

...and neither are your feet.

Salon reports that Bush's Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters, has made clear that she (and her bosses) believe that using federal funds to make bike paths for pedestrians and cyclists alike has zero to do with transportation infrastructure, except, of course, that it's taking dollars away from fixing roads and bridges. Welcome to the newest chapter in the gas-based culture-war:

Evildoer Cyclists Are Terrorists, Collapsing Your Bridges.
and Don't Trust Them Walkers, Neither

Now, I am fortunate to live in a city with a relatively excellent share of bike paths. From my old house, I was able to use commuter trails most of the way to work, and if I wanted to take a long bike ride mostly free from vehicular traffic, I could. While I have my gripes with the way the city has dealt with some bike-related issues -- the half-assed attempt at bike lanes downtown, and more importantly, the failure to properly communicate cycling laws (bikes are not allowed on sidewalks downtown) to drivers, and the police harassment cyclists face while scores of drunk drivers leave the bars every weekend -- for the most part, I have an easy commute and enjoy being part of a very diverse bike commuter culture.

When I pull up to my downtown building in the morning, I lock up with 15-30 (depending on the weather) state employees getting to work by bicycle. This mode of transportation meets the demands of those not willing or able to pay $60 dollars a month for parking (not to mention gas), those who enjoy the effortless scheduling of exercise as part of the work day, or those who just enjoy riding a bike or have countless other reasons not to drive. Beyond the cyclists, there are plenty of pedestrians, too -- and when it's raining, I can arrive dry at work after a 20-minute walk instead of wet after a 5-minute ride. In a city with only a shabby bus system -- buses come once an hour, and service stops before 7 PM -- and where relatively flat terrain prevails, affordable transportation comes easily on two wheels.

So, we're hogging the dollars, eh?

In fact, only about 1.5 percent of federal transportation dollars go to fund bike paths and walking trails. In the meantime, 10 percent of all U.S. trips to work, school and the store occur on bike or foot, and bicyclists and pedestrians account for about 12 percent of annual traffic fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration. "We represent a disproportionate share of the injuries, and we get a minuscule share of the funds," says Robert Raburn, executive director of the East Bay Bike Coalition in the San Francisco Bay Area, who calls the Peters' comments "outrageous." Plus, he notes, with problems like global warming, the obesity epidemic and energy independence, shouldn't the U.S. secretary of transportation be praising biking, not complaining about it?...

What really drives cyclists around the bend is that while they're doing their part to burn less fossil fuel -- cue slogan: "No Iraqis Died to Fuel This Bike" -- they're getting grief for being expensive from a profligate administration. "War spending, tax cuts for the rich, and gas taxes are all big sources of funding. Bike spending is not," fumes Michael Bluejay, an Austin, Texas, bike activist, in an e-mail. "The few pennies we toss toward bike projects is not enough to fix our nation's bridges, not by a freaking long shot."

I have by no means gone carless. In fact, Ande and I have two cars between the two of us, even though they're hardly ever both in use. I pay wheel taxes, and gas taxes, too, and I'd happily pay higher gas taxes for the luxury of using roads by car
when it's simply more convenient for me to do so. Granted, my definition of convenience may involve a little more internal debate than that of those used to driving everywhere, but I'm not so pious as to rule out hopping in the car at the end of a long day for an ice cream run. That, and I absolutely love road trips. I realize, however, that these come with a cost -- beyond car maintenance and the artificially low price of fuel, I'm contributing to the deterioration of the roads I drive on, the environment I'm adding emissions pollutants to, and even the animals I'm killing either by hitting them or simply by adding to the displacement of their habitats that came from the building of these roads in the first place. Since I'm not out there to build and fix the roads I might want to travel on myself, I'm perfectly willing to help pay for them to be there in the taxes I pay. In fact, when I pay taxes, part of what I expect from my government's transportation department is a range of services that help me get where I and my fellow citizens need to go, options that local entities can develop to fit the unique geographic and demographic needs of the area.

But my god, Bush Administration, don't blame my bicycling to work or to run errands or for recreation on your absolute inability to fund the domestic infrastructure on which people in this country have come to rely. People will keep buying gas even if you add taxes to it. At this point, enough of them have moved far enough away from work that they won't be able to avoid driving; the alternative transportation modes have not been developed to allow them to do so, and virgin bike commuters are unlikely to devote the energy and nerves to find a way to negotiate a 25-mile ride from one satellite suburb to another, since the only logical way to get there is probably on a freeway that specifically prohibits cyclists. Instead of picking on me and my fellow bike and foot commuters, why don't you buck up and deal with the fact that maybe you should dream up a preemptive strike on this country's transportation infrastructure, so that those poor people in the suburbs don't get crushed on a bridge on their way to work.


Nolan Tredway's io

This is the second in a series about tonight's art opening at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. Jake Gillespie and Nolan Tredway, 12th and R Streets, 5-7 pm.

Nolan Tredway is a Lincoln painter, multimedia artist and more. The exhibit io, opening this evening at the Sheldon, promises to be a beautifully crafted interactive experience. As Nolan describes it, not interacting will provide you only an incomplete experience.

If this show is anything like his paintings, be prepared to be lost in a magical, delicate, and sometimes scary world.

More paintings from his show at Tugboat Gallery here.

His paintings remind me vividly of things I've never seen, like an archive from my imagination of worlds I never actually imagined.


Jake Gillespie: The Alphabet Series

This is the first of two posts about a show opening at the Sheldon this Friday. Jake Gillespie and Nolan Tredway will both be showing work. The opening is from 5-7 pm this Friday, Sept. 14.

Jake Gillespie has been a painter for as long as I have known him. He has also been a cartoonist and animator, though that has been more recent. I've gotten to help him on the technical end of that, which makes me feel wonderfully connected to a "real artist."

Jake's paintings are large, and what I like very much about them is that they don't pick one feel or style or technique of painting to fill the canvas. Instead, levels of high detail are found next to large strokes of soft, bright, or muted colors. They also incorporate plenty of humor, irony, and mediation, which are all things I'm fond of.

I am now also the proud owner of this Jake Gillespie painting:

The Boss and The Hulk, oil on canvas, 30 x 46", 2006.


Go Coz!

Jim and Carrie have some great Bostons. And the hippest house ever. Gah, look at that furniture.