Showing posts from August, 2006

Working Less = Living More

A while back I was investigating a story in Maclean's Magazine about the World Naked Bide Ride, and came to the website of the Work Less Party, because they were both founded by Conrad Schmidt. I wrote to Conrad, basically saying "Good work!" and he was kind enough to send me a copy of the Work Less Party's book - Workers of the World Relax.

I think that it's helpful to describe Conrad before reviewing the book, because his story gives more background to the policies of the party. A Vancouverite, Conrad was working away as a software engineer and driving his car to work, as so many on this continent do. Getting increasingly concerned with the environment, Conrad did some math and figured that the earnings from one day of his workweek went towards affording his car - therefore, if he gave up his car, he could give up one day a week of work. He talked to his boss, and voila, he was a man of three day weekends who was no longer sending CO2 emissions up into the air.

How to sack yourself with a Cannondale

Well, I both do and don't want to write this post, so maybe I'll compromise and publish it in short form.

For those of you who are a bit squeamish, here's the REALLY short version: I slipped on my bike, bagged myself on the crossbar, and had a couple ultrasounds to check things out. I'm fine.

: )

Tuesday last week, at approximately 5:30 in the morning, I'm waiting for the red light to turn green at the intersection of Dundas and Kingston Road. For some reason I'd unclipped my left foot, which I never do, so when the light turns green it's my left foot (not my usual right one) that I'm trying to clip back in. My foot slides immediately off the pedal, and with my right leg bent (and therefore not supporting any weight), my body slams down hard on the crossbar of my bike, crushing my "boy's parts" in between crossbar and upper body.

So it hurts. Undeniably it hurts, but I seem to remember getting sacked hurting a lot more back when I was a kid.


What climate change?

I guess this shouldn't be a surprise - what with everyone (or so it seems) in the Bush administration being involved with Big Oil, and tons of Republicans receiving massive campaign money from the Coal Industry (which is going to make a huge comeback once Peak Oil hits - and, incidentally, the U.S. is the Saudia Arabia of coal), and with other nutbars like the Global Climate Coalition, and Joe Barton, the (Republican) Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce (who will basically initiate an IRS audit on you if you're a scientist who has written about climate change) out there denying that climate change is happening, but I just came across this story over the weekend in Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers.
If you don't have time to read the whole article, it's basically about an aide in the Bush administration editing scientific reports to get rid of their assertions that climate change is real.

P.S. - Nixon, Kissinger giving a winking y…

Come see the blood in the streets

It struck me today that the intersection of Kingston Road and Salem Road (in Whitby), is a perfect snapshot of the end of civilization. To the south is Highway 401 - the typical 8 to 10 lane highway allowing motorists to hurtle themselves in and out of Toronto. A bit to the west of the intersection, on the north side, is a sprawling monstrous box-shaped mall housing the unholy, polygamous marriage of Danier Leather, Starbucks, Black's photography, I think a Moore's clothing place, and a bunch of others. Just beside and behind the big box they're ripping up more land for further retail development. So, at this intersection, you get a first hand look at our devotion to the automobile, rampant consumerism, and the paving over of agricultural land. And as a cyclist, as you're sitting there waiting for the light to turn green, you're able to watch motorist after motorist after motorist pass by in their cars, bringing us closer to extinction.

It's probably similar to …

my Bell

This goes out to the guy who stole my $2.00 MEC bell last night, when Annalise and I were at the baseball game at the Rogers Centre.

You are a truly despicable creature, and, despite the fact that I'm one of the most easy-going guys around, you are VERY lucky I didn't catch you leaning over my Kona, fiddling around with a bike utility tool.

The Zone

I get in two states when I'm commuting. Sometimes, for example if I'm on a two lane highway with gravel to my immediate right, I'm very conscious of traffic, and am concentrating on keeping a steady line close to the edge of the pavement. "Concentrating" on this however means that in fact I'm nervously veering side to side a little bit.
Then there's "The Zone," where I'm not thinking about anything and the traffic whizzes by and I slice a long straight line along the highway.
The Zone can be dangerous though. I often come across those damned storm grates which have the openings running lengthwise parallel to the road, and which are perfect for grabbing a cyclist's tire and throwing him/her into traffic. These are good examples (though they're not the ones on my route, just random storm grate shots I found on the web):

The ones we seem to have in the Greater Toronto Area have a full-length open groove on the extreme left of the grate, a …

Scarburbia - the land that civilization forgot

Quick note - I just realized that Internet Explorer (which I rarely use) doesn't load my blog well, and sometimes puts the right sidebar all the way down to the bottom of the page. If you switch to Mozilla Firefox as your browser, it should go a lot better.

Although this purports to be a cycling/commuting blog, I rarely ever write about cycling. Today I'll explain why.
On June 16 I described the route and the bikes I was using at the start of this commuting adventure. Although being extremely out of my way, that route at least had some nice bits, as I wrote and showed in photos in my July 4 and July 11 posts.

However, that route was a very hilly 67 km, took me 2 1/2 hours, and included an increasingly nerve-wracking stretch on Highway 7, which is a busy two lane highway which seems to have a lot of dump-truck / transport truck action. One morning I said "screw it" and took off on the more southerly, more direct, and flatter, Kingston Road/Highway 2. Previously I'd a…

Oh my God, what's your name? My name's Lyle.

So I went down for the first time in this great adventure called the commute to Oshawa. But it wasn't entirely my fault - there were lots of things going on, one of them being a Lyle Lovett concert.

I love Lyle Lovett. My girlfriend and I saw him with Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Guy Clark back in the winter (all four of them just sitting with their acoustics on stage, trading songs). Last night we had tickets to "Lyle Lovett and his Large Band" at the Hummingbird Center. The large band means four horns, four powerful, gospel influenced backup singers, two percussion, two keyboards, bass, guitar, mandolin, cello, violin.
Anyway, I could go on and on about Lyle, but I won't. Suffice to say he puts on the best concerts I've ever seen.

To back up a little, I was moderately bored at lunch so I watched a couple cycling videos on You Tube. Notably the one below, where Marco Pantani blows past Jan Ullrich and everyone else on a mountain stage in 1998, and leaves them in his wak…

Queen's Quay - August 12

The following are some photographs from Queen’s Quay West here in Toronto, where they partially closed the street to car traffic from Spadina to York, and put up a bicycle art installation.

What they did, and apparently this is only true from August 11-20, was entirely close down the eastbound lane of traffic, and transform it into a bike path, bordered on one side by a long bed of geraniums, and on the other by a long strip of grass.

The tower of bikes is basically a ton of bikes dangling on a steel cage. If you're close enough to look, they seem to be totally functional bikes. I hope they end up with a group like Toronto Bike Share when they're taken down.

Queen's Quay, for non-Torontonian readers, runs along Toronto's harbourfront, which is one of the city's busiest tourist areas. It's surprising how easy it is to live in this city and forget that there's a massive and gorgeous lake here.

And if you have a couple moments, this is a hoot - Specialized has …

Toronto Waterfront - Art Installation

This is a blurb from the most recent Toronto Cycling News email -

"From August 11th to 20th in what may be the largest art installation ever in Toronto, car traffic will be replaced with bike lanes and a kilometer-long stretch of 12,000 red geraniums and a picnic lawn the length of almost ten football fields. Two four-storey sculptures built (with more than 600 bicycles) will highlight the temporary new section of the popular Toronto section of the Waterfront Trail.

On Saturday, August 12th at 9:00 a.m., the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization
Corp is inviting all cyclists to come down to the waterfront to help officially
open this extension of the Waterfront Trail. They are hoping to get anywhere from 50-100 cyclists at this event and would like everyone to meet at the bike arch at York and Queens Quay. They will have a ribbon across the arch and would like to have all of the cyclists ride through it."

I really hope this is as cool as it sounds. I have Christo's Ribbons in C…

Bancroft - The Death & Life of Great Canadian Small Towns

I had a bit of a go at Oshawa and Whitby recently, and having just returned from my hometown of Bancroft, Ontario, I thought I'd muse about the homeland as well.

Bancroft has a few claims to fame - historically it has called itself the "Mineral Capital of Canada," because around 90% of all the minerals that can be found in Canada can be found around Bancroft. People FLOCK to Bancroft during the August long weekend for the Rockhound Gemboree.
In 2004, TVO's Studio 2 named Bancroft as the Most Talented Town in Ontario. There is indeed a lot of talent in Bancroft. Going on the fall Studio Tour will allow you to visit some truly gifted artists, and the Village Playhouse has hosted great local theatre for about 15 years.
As well, there are some people doing very interesting things in the region. At least two people in town are "off the grid," using solar and wind power to run their homes, and then you have Chuck & Pat Potter's House. Along the lines of the

The Route & the Durham Cycling Club

It hasn't escaped my notice that I write about energy issues and American politics far more often than I write about my commute. The trouble is that my commute isn't really that interesting.
I try to leave the apartment at about 5:15a.m., and usually get to UOIT about 7:20. For the first 45 minutes that I'm on the road I'm biking half-asleep through the dark. And then, even once the sun has risen, I'm just racing (as best I can) along Kingston Road through Scarborough, Pickering etc, and there's really not much to comment on through that stretch. Just close your eyes and picture "sprawlurbia" and that's what I'm biking through.
The traffic, at this early hour, and in the direction (OUT of Toronto) that I'm going, is dead, so I have the road to myself, and often I just lower my eyes to the pavement, scanning for broken glass and pot holes, and pedal.
It did occur to me though that interesting things do happen once in a while, but I've been…

(little Rumsfeld) but more Bancroft

Iraq on brink of civil war, U.S. general tells Senate - Toronto Star, Aug. 4, A12.

Rumsfeld responds to polls showing that Americans want troops to pull out of Iraq by saying: "Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy only to run away from a bunch of murderers and extremists."

Does he have any idea how much ridicule he could get for that? (Native Indian issues, democracy?, bunch of murderers?? - look at American complicity in Cambodia, East Timor, and everywhere else you doofus).

Regarding the slide into civil war, generals Peter Pace & John Abizaid say "The responsibility for avoiding civil war rests with the Iraqis themselves, not U.S. troops."

That's also quite nice. We'll give you a civil war, it's up to you to get out of it. Reminds one of the first Gulf War, when Bush the First begged various small rebel groups in Iraq to rise up against Saddam, and then abandoned them to get massacred by…

Australia gives; George amuses, the naked ride

I owe Mark a post about vegetarianism, but I haven't done my research yet. I should also talk about cycling again sometime, but for the moment here are three things to pass the time.

EnviroMission's Solar Tower Of Power

"Acting as a giant greenhouse, the solar collector will heat the air to about 100 oF (38oC) hotter than the outside air entering at the periphery, using the radiation from the sun. Acting like a chimney, the air is sucked into the tower, where it passes through a multitude of wind turbine generators clustered around the structure. The tower will cost an estimated $250 million to build, with construction expected to start in 2007 pending receiving a $75 million grant from the Australian government."

And here's George:

The last one, when he slloowwwsss knowing that he's already messed up the phrase with no hope of catching himself, is the best.

And a story about getting naked and riding (text from Maclean's) ~

A few years ago, when Conrad Schmidt,…

Chicago Tribune

I have just come across a reeeaaallllyyy cool piece of journalism on the oil industry in general, and also peak oil. It's from the Chicago Tribune, and probably the most stable link I can give you is to their Special Reports Page. Once there look for the story called "A Tank of Gas: A World of Trouble." It's quite lengthy, I don't know when I'm going to be able to watch all the documentaries and read all the stories, but it looks really well done. Has Matthew Simmons and James Kunstler on there as well.

And this - I just have to show you this. I got it off Dave's Comics Blog. I grew up reading comics, which is why I was looking through this guy's blog. The panel below is from Detective Comics 571, from 1986.

How to even comment on that?