Thursday, November 30, 2006

I feel like a sad robot sick. Its the annual post-thanksgiving-family-visit-to-the-niece-and- nephew-green-snot- sickness. Sweeet.

Slouching in front of the 'puter, absently trying to muster the strength and focus to do some work.

What happened to the freezing rain? So much hype. Has anyone seen the pictures of the cat5 hurricane bearing down on the Philippines? They are screwed. If the American media would cover it, we'd probably seen some serious damage. So many people living in grass houses- already suffering infrastructure....I hope they are ok. If anyone out there is still in doubt on global warming- your an idiot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I need an SUV

Take a quick look at this little link...
Someone has put together a bunch of pictures of people using bikes/two wheels for transporting stuff that is HUGE or fragile...I don't think the baby in a laundry basket on a scooter is really that smart necessarily, but it proves at the very least that our ideas of what is necessary is skewed.

On the other hand, I'm also really glad that lawyers, consumer groups ,et al have made things like bridges without planks illegal and non-existent in this country (see the first picture on the link). I know from first hand/personal experience as a kid visiting the Philipines, that bridges made out of bamboo poles tied together with hemp makes for a dodgy bridge that little kids fall off of pretty easily. Then again, I watched alot of other kids climb coconut trees thirty or forty feet with a machete, barefoot, and with no protection for fun and profit. Maybe I was just a soft nerd with a bowl cut...I said maybe.

Anyway, when you are commuting home today in an SUV or anything with more than three wheels, think about these folks striving everyday- carrying alot more than a briefcase and thank your lucky stars you are where you are- unless its in which case, get a bike!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ugandan bicycle

I came across this picture this morning, as I browsed the design blogs...I felt compelled to post it. It was taken by David Stairs, who was in Uganda with Designers Without Borders. The picture is from a short article on furniture makers/designers in Uganda published on the Design Observer- an interesting read.

For me, the nagging subtext of 'design' as it now known in our country, often speaks less to the accessibility of things thoughtfully created, and more to things opulently created. Like everyone else (or nearly everyone else) I appreciate nice things. Indeed, one of the reasons I began designing was that I felt that I had a talent, or ability to create nice things. But I often struggle with what we do as designers. If one stops and puts the frenzied rush to create, and recreate things to be manufactured and sold in a global context- an environmental and social context- would we like the answers? Is the return for the work equal or greater than the costs? Do we do more damage in creating things than improving? And what of the granite countertops, the stainless steel skins on our refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and coffee makers, our SUV's for carrying babies and strollers (....I could go on)?

What is really at issue for me is that the other reason I went into design was to create a better, more livable world through design....and that doesn't mean more high priced is about creating a world of goods and environments that is affordable to more than just the wealthiest of our society. To work exclusively for that end is an activity equal to the crimes of those who mass the wealth at the cost of the rest of us. While as designers we absolve ourselves of being party to this over consumption by believing that we are only providing the service that is being asked for- we are often passive in our roles as visionaries for something better. Truly, we are not the problem, the problem is far greater than just one group or segment, the problem seems to be our business model. So how do we change? Better yet, how do we change the conversation? Because that's really the problem, right? -That we are involved in a conversation that will not end with a resolution. Instead of asking what 'thing' can I produce that is better, we should be asking what kind of world do we want? But then that might require a consensus.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Its Fall! Time to start training

This was taken just a few days ago, in the southeast. I was riding my bike past this amazing tree near my neighborhood and luckily I had a camera on me. Even though the weather has really taken a turn, the fall has been fantastic here. After a couple of years on the east coast I got a new standard for what a fall turn could look like..and I wasn't even in Vermont in the true midst of the changing leaves. Nonetheless, Portland has impressed me.

Its time again to start the preseason training program. For those of us not racing cyclocross, things are pretty slow. I'm starting to put in the base miles again. After getting married in August, I had, all told, taken two months off from riding. The last month has been spent just trying to feel comfortable on the bike again. I wasn't very fit this last season, my first season racing in eighteen years- worst of all, it followed two and a half years in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and hours of commuting (see previous post on Hummers)..So, I was a fat-ass. Got to Portland last year, lost ten pounds pretty quickly. Now just ten more pounds and I'll be back to my college weight.

So last year's training plan was basically 'just have fun', put in miles, and see what I could do. This year I plan to include 'doing well' at races in addition to the having fun part. I managed to exceed my expectations this year. After finishing 22nd in my first race back (cherry pie, mens cat 5), and three or four top fives and just missing the win at one of the old farts PIR cat 5 race by about a foot, I plan on being more prepared this upcoming season. I'll be a cat 4, so the racing intensity will be greater, the competition stronger, and the races will arguably be more dangerous. Thinking back to the Banana Belts, I wasn't fit enough to hang after doing a solid paced lap up those hills. So this year, those will be my first objective -I'd like to at least hang with the front group and finish. If I do reasonably well first race out, then I'll think about a good result for the overall. If not, then I'll just have as much fun as possible. That's not too much to ask.

I have a pretty good natural sprint, so I'll work on that too. I'm hoping that I'll get back some of that strength I had as a junior (my sprint was pretty good). So all that said, it looks like hill repeats and sprint intervals and weight lifting...yeah!

How many more?

This is not a cynical attempt to make money. What are we going to do?