Cycling through the Bull Shit

If you’re a cyclist, chances are you’ve had someone roll their car window down and yell something insulting.  After a while, you start to lose track of how often this occurs.  Of course there are the major ones that stand out, like the time I was on the Delmar Loop and a guy in a pickup truck screamed at me non-stop through an entire light change.  Obviously, I’d ruined his day.

Last night, while walking bikes home through a residential neighborhood, someone yelled at us for not having lights.  We were walking.  We were technically pedestrians.  Are we all supposed to carry lights at night?

Later, I started thinking about accountability and anonymity.  It was dark.  The man was in an SUV.  He could simply spout his rage and drive away.  Who would know?  Would he have acted that way in front of his co-workers, his boss, or his family?  Anonymity lets people act how they normally wouldn’t.  There are positive sides to this, like an anonymous tip in solving a crime; however, there are also negative effects.  Cars especially provide a means to be anonymous.  People are encased in steel, plastic, and glass.  Hidden and out of contact.  There is no face to face context.  Through a series of turns or pressing on the gas, the driver can flee at a high speed.

What would have happened if I’d taken his anonymity away?  What if I published his identity?  How would that change things?  Cyclists aren’t dealing with rational people.  The people who become angry might already be heading toward road rage.  It can be dangerous enough on a 16 lb bike while riding along a 2,000 lb car.  Now imagine that car being driven by someone out of control.  So, what can we do?  Sure, there are the standby’s like, be vigilant, and be courteous.  Does that change anything?  Do cyclists need to work more on educating drivers, on creating bike lanes, and awareness?

Overall, the bicycle is a wonderful invention.  It provides easy, clean transportation and keeps people fit.  Instead of being at odds with those who commute on bikes, drivers should be thankful for the reduction in carbon emissions and traffic, as well as the increase in parking spaces.  Next time a driver yells or cuts you off, maybe you should take out your camera or phone, snap a picture or video, and post it online.  Anonymity can work both ways.

– Psychosocial and environmental factors associated with cycling for transport among a working population, Bas ed Geus et. al., Health Education Research, Vol. 23 No. 4, 2008.
– The Effects of Trait Driving Anger, Anonymity, and Aggressive Stimuli on Aggressive Driving Behavior, Patricial Ellison-Potter, Journal ofApplied Social Psychology, 2001. 
– Models of perceived cycling risk and route acceptability, Parkin et. al., Accident Analysis and Prevention Vol. 39, 2007.
Anger on and off the road, Brian Parkinson, British Journal of Psychology Vol. 92, 2001. 
– Cyclists and motorists vie for limited space, By Charles Lewis, National Post, September 1, 2009 http://www.canada.com/health/Cyclists+motorists+limited+space/1952495/story.html.
– Anonymous Group, accessed Nov. 5th 2009, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group).

Easy Hack to Hide Sidebar Content on Blogger

 I wanted to do a little clean up on this blog.  Mainly, I hate how the sidebar takes up room on every post.  It’s cluttered, it’s ugly, and it takes away from the content.  Users don’t need to see that everywhere.  Here’s an easy little hack to clean up your blog and get rid of that using conditionals.

First, expand the code in the edit html view so you can see the entire template.  Next, look in the code for the elements <b:widget>.  Your code will look similar to this, but without the highlighted text.  By adding the code in red, the sidebar is not present if the pageType doesn’t equal “item”.

<b:widget id=’HTML4′ locked=’false’ title=” type=’HTML’>
<b:includable id=’main’>
  <b:if cond=’data:blog.pageType != &quot;item&quot;’>
  <!– only display title if it’s non-empty –>
  <b:if cond=’data:title != &quot;&quot;’>
    <h2 class=’title’><data:title/></h2>
  </b:if>
  <div class=’widget-content’>
    <data:content/>
  </div>

  <b:include name=’quickedit’/>
    </b:if>
</b:includable>
</b:widget>

It’s relatively easy and will have your blog looking cleaner in no time.

Write Leaf

Write Leaf

Take off the headphones
for there is the dry rustle of leaves
like layers of fabric falling
colliding, pooling in piles
around the base of the ginkos
like golden skirts from a sleepy lady’s curtsy
spilled low across the green grass.

There are footsteps and laughter
suffusing the sunshine with an aural warmth
that hints of harvest and plenty,
places set at the table,
the ceramic cling of dishes passed
as we all slow down, take
the long way to where we’re going
before the wool sweaters feel too thin
like windows framed with frost in the morning.

— I don’t really have a title for this.

Poems from Last Night pt. 2: It’s a pity Stephen Hawking can’t do sarcasm.

It’s a pity Stephen Hawking can’t do sarcasm.

I thought he was joking about bailing you out
until I saw the picture of you
and the sheep
in the morning paper. Were those my boots
you had on it?
Did the hipsters beat you up
because you are more ironic than they are?

You just stared at your feet and said some shit
about the molecules dancing
and how you had just solved physics.
I always forget that thursday isnt the weekend
in the real world.  You closed the sidewalk
off to pedestrians last night.
With a glitter covered safety cone.

Once he started yelling at me in latin,
i wasn’t sure what we were fighting about anymore…
He’s a nude model. What could you have done
to make him feel awkward?
Only you could turn Mozart into a stripper song. Sometimes,
in the course of human events, people get lit on fire.

Poems From Last Night pt. 1

She just got back from rehab. You don’t
celebrate that with margaritas.  Sometimes
when i’m at a cross roads in life,
i think about what i would want my life
-time movie to show what i did? 
So she is eating her margarita
with tortilla chips….
like using her chip as a spoon.  So I woke up
and found tortilla in my belly button.  You woke up,
pulled a beer bottle out of your pants..
took a drink and went back to sleep.
I’m not upset with you; I’m upset with Fox News.

— All the lines are from Texts from last night, I just added in some line breaks and added some punctuation.

Schedules for Writing and Life

I like to imagine that I’m pretty flexible and spontaneous.  However, sometimes being on a schedule works well for me.  My plan is to start writing more, or to rephrase that to work on the Donnie and Sam novel, no title yet.  To do that though or to do it well, I need to start treating it like a job or like coursework.  That’s a bit of a shift, because writing has always been fun for me, and I don’t think of work or coursework as always being fun.  I’ve been thinking of having some major workdays on the weekend, and then waking up early mornings before work and writing for two hours each morning.  Ambitious, but if I want to write a novel, necessary.  Right?
The other schedule is getting back to the gym.  I’ve traveled most of September and after the MS 150 really haven’t done much active.  Especially compared to my pre-race levels.  Add into that commuting on my bike and the awful weather we’ve been having in St. Louis, it’s been hard to make it back.  That all ends this weekend though.  Tomorrow will be the first day back to the gym, and then also see about beginning to lay out the book.  Hopefully, after a couple of weeks I can find something that works well, and doesn’t drive me or my friends crazy.

Infinite Jest Update 1

I’m about halfway through Infite Jest, and enjoying it.  That wasn’t always the case.  The first three hundred pages were a struggle.  Perhaps, that’s untrue.  There were highlights, moments when I laughed, followed by passages when I was unsure how this section related or who the characters were.  In the past six weeks I haven’t had much time to read the novel.  When travelling, it’s not very convenient to lug around 900+ pages of prose with another 50 pages of endnotes.
I’ve also been trying to get my friends and family to read the book.  Besides Wallace’s love for language, the book is funny.  My best attempt to describe it has been to say that it touches on tennis, addiction, entertainment, politics, and absurdism.  How those come together, you have to read for yourself.

Sunday Ride

Went for a lazy ride on Sunday.  First one since the MS150.  This is the map as well as I can remember.
&lt;p&gt;&amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/mo/st-louis/654125535630690488″&amp;amp;gt;2009-10-12 Route&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;br/&amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/find-ride/united-states/mo/st-louis”&amp;amp;gt;Find more Bike Rides in St Louis, Missouri&amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;gt;&lt;/p&gt;

At That Moment

It’s a Thursday morning and the sky is blotted out by layers of rain clouds.  They are dense, nebulous, consuming.  The streetlights are still on, their sensors fooled by the dark clouds and downpour.  Water pounds the roof of my apartment.  It spatters windows with a click and a tap, while I hunt through my apartment.  Gortex boots, rainpants, raincoat, waterproof cycling bag, I’m set.

It doesn’t matter the day of the week or what the weather is doing, there comes a point when I love my commute.  Almost to work, I cross a pedestrian bridge over Forest Park Parkway into campus.  Traffic spills in both directions.  Cars, people, annoyances packed together in start-stop frustration.  I may be a little damp, it could be incoveniant to dress for weather, but I feel free.  My feet move, my tires move, I propel forward two stories above the traditional commuters.  At that moment upon the bridge, I don’t care about the money I’m saving, the carbon footprint I’ve reduced, the calories I’ve burned.  At that moment, I breath deep, enjoy the pleasure of the ride, of being free from people looking caged and claustrophobic.  At that moment, I feel the rain drip through my hair and patter on my jacket, and ride the last remaining leg unimpeded.