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Thursday, December 30, 2004
 Last riding days of 2004 
It was a balmy 50+ degrees on the ride in to work. There were lots of cyclists on the trail, many who looked like they were trying to get their last significant miles in for 2004. The shop was busy nearly all day, which was a little surprising for this time of year. Here's the updated ride days table.

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 Susan Sontag 
Thanks once again to Kottke, I discovered an excellent tribute to Susan Sontag by the man who was her friend and the designer of many of her book covers in recent years, who now blogs under the name of Design Observer. It's a little sad that some of us pay more attention to some people after they die than while they lived. Design Observer is an attractive site that I'm adding to my blog roll.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004
 Perils for Pedestrians 
It was another good day for cycling, with the temperature rising to the 40's or 50's by midday. I was scheduled for an interview with John Wetmore of Perils for Pedestrians at 10am, and planned to go downtown afterwards, so I decided to drive. The show is a community cable access show on the many dangers faced by pedestrians. We met at the intersection in the county with the highest number of pedestrian accidents over the past several years, Route 50 and Graham Road. There's lots of pedestrian traffic trying to cross 7 or 8 lanes of traffic moving at 45 mph. The interview seemed to go well and will probably air next month. Stay tuned.

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 The Making of America 
Discovered the Making of America Web site, “a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction.”. It contains copies of various journals from that period including Scribners Monthly from 1870 to 1881. The October, 1881 issue has some great articles including “Old Yorktown Virginia”, “Primeval California”, “A Plea for Railroads”. Thanks to The Long Tail for the reference.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004
 Bike to shop 
It didn't feel like it was in the high 20's F as I rode my Rans V-Rex with the BOB trailer attached to do some grocery shopping. Maybe I'm getting acclimated to the cold weather. It usually takes a few cold weather rides before the blood thins a little and the hands are freezing. Using body lotion on the hands and face helps. Even at 25° F, I only needed a light fleece shirt and nylon jacket, jeans, neck gaitor, a thin headband and lobster claw gloves. The sun helped. Had I ridden farther than the 3 or 4 miles to the store I may have needed more gear, but not much more.

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 How Walmart is destroying America 
The description of the book, for sale online at Walmart, says it all:
Since Wal-Mart opened two superstores thirteen miles from Grand Saline, Texas, half of the retail businesses in Bill Quinn's once-thriving hometown have closed. But dismantling the American dream wasn't enough for this retail Goliath, and now Wal-Mart is aiming for world domination. If you've ever wanted to fight for the little guy, now's the time -- and this feisty Texas grandpa will show you how.
Wonder how long this will be posted on the Walmart site. Gotta love it.

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Monday, December 27, 2004
The guy who walked all the Manhattan sidewalks

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 Cold and Sunny 
I don't think the temperature got above freezing, but the sun was out and the sky was clear, another good day to ride. Things are slow at the shop so instead I took a short ride into Herndon to mail some late holiday gifts and visit the library. As I browsed the used book sale section, I thought of the article in today's Post about a woman's obsession with books, Leisure Time? She's Booked Up. I was good, not even purchasing the recent Vanity Fair magazine. I thought about it but got too frustrated trying to find the table of contents amidst the profusion of ads.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004
 Cold riding day 
The temperature never reached 30° F, but we ventured out on our Barcroft Columbia tandem today. I have Pearl Izumi lobster claw gloves that are several years old, and my hands froze. I had to keep putting them inside my shirt to warm them. My face was OK; I used an old ear warmer around my neck and would put it on my chin when necessary. We rode out toward Ashburn, getting in a 20 mile ride.

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Friday, December 24, 2004
 December riding days 
Yesterday was wet, really wet. I'll declare it a wet enough day that it wasn't rideable. Here's a table of riding days for December up until today, green is rideable, red is not rideable.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004
 Great riding days 
We've had more great riding days lately. It's been cold, but there's been very little precipitation. I haven't been riding because of my knee, but nearly every day this week was rideable. I went out today for the first time and was over-dressed with just a light jacket and long-sleeved cotton shirt and jeans. I mention the jeans because I can easily ride in them now that I'm on the recumbent. They don't work very well on an upright, but my bent has such a wide seat that it's not a problem.

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Monday, December 20, 2004
 Using Titles 
I guess it's time I discovered a bit more about how Blogger works. My Permalinks are screwed up, appearing in the center of the page instead of at the top, the links to my other sites at the top of those pages are screwed up, since they are relative links, and Blogger changed the way archives are stored. I just don't spend a lot of time worrying about these things, but maybe there will be some time over the holidays to clean things up a little. I did decide to try using the Titles feature, which may help fix how the permalinks work, and allows me to avoid using <strong> tags and &mdash marks, which screw up the title assigned by Blogger to each post.

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Four years and still posting—It's been four years since my first Blogger post on December 20, 2000. I was reading about, and commenting on, articles by Zeldman, who is still active although posting has been a bit slow since the new addition to the family. He and the articles in the online journal that he publishes, A List Apart, have taught me a lot.

Surprisingly, Blogger seems to be very healthy, and the blogging tools get better all the time. My posts have become notes to myself about current events and sites of note, so that in the future I can return to them to find out what was of interest at the time. I may try adding comments to the site in the future.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004
First bike commute to work in a week - It was a good ride to work, although about half way there my recovering knee started to hurt. The knee itself was OK, it was the tendons surrounding it that were bruised from the operation and they haven't quite recovered. I backed off a little on the pace and made it to work OK. It was great to be riding again. I can't remember the last time I was off the bike for an entire week. It was a beautiful sunny, clear, cool (about 45 degrees F) day.

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9-11 Report I started reading the online version of the 9-11 Report. It's an unusual government report in that it is very readable. It's also pretty scary knowing that many of the hijackers were identified by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, CAPPS. This meant that their bags were held until it was confirmed that they were on board the airplane. That's it. They weren't even screened very closely. None of contractors at the security checkpoints could remember them. I might have to find a hardcopy of the report, although maybe it's just as well that I can't read the online version in bed.

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New poetry from Gary Snyder — I happened across a blog entry, Greg Perry's poetry blog, about Gary Snyder's book of new poetry, Danger on the Peaks. Ever since I read his early poetry in the 70's after being turned on by an acquaintance, I have browsed the shelves for new works. There have been none since Axe Handles was published in 1983. Several works were published but they contained compilations of older poems. I found the blog entry after reading that Ursula Le Guin has a Web site. I Googled “Gary Snyder blog” and found the above.

I've been thinking about Snyder recently as I'm reading a book of wood block prints and text about the High Sierra of California that contains selections from Snyder's poetry and journals. He spent many days backpacking in the Sierra in his youth, and throughout his life. The prints are lovely, reminiscent of the work of Hiroshige, the famous Japanese artist.

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Back in the saddle—The knee seems to be doing well and according to the doctor, I can now ride again. I was a little concerned with the squishing sound that the knee was making whenever I tried to bend it the day after surgery, but that gradually went away. It would be unfortunate if the elective surgery to correct a minor miniscus tear caused more problems than it cured. So far the knee is almost back to normal. Today's ride will be a test.

Riding weather—Every day lately has been a good riding day. It's been cold, in the 20's some mornings, but there has been almost no wet weather and today it's sunny and clear.

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So much stuff, so little timeKottke recently pointed to a good article entitled Too much of a good thing? at rootburn. Many people now have so much stuff that they don't have the time to consume, much less to savor. In rootburn's case with music, he falls back on the tried and true music that he played on CD and now listens to on his computer.

I've experienced the same thing with back issues of The New Yorker magazine. I scrounge them from the used bookstore in town and the public library, and from friends. I never want to discard one until I've had the time to at least leaf through the contents. I could resist adding to the collection, but when they are free or cost 10 cents, it's hard to say no, not unlike and addiction. I've also got piles of unread books that were purchased at the same places. I think I have this fear of not having any new reading material on hand, which is rediculous now given the Web and other elctronic media such as ebooks.

I think about this every time I see a new storage facility pop up in the area; another place to store the stuff we accumulate/hoard. Not only are our bodies bursting at the seams, so are our houses.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Transportation Plan Update—The Fairfax County Transportation Plan is being updated next year. A newsletter is available with the current schedule. The current plan describes all the great and wonderful goals for non-motorized transportation to be met by the year 2000, none of which have been reached even now in 2004. Online comments can be made on the plan and planning process.

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Friday, December 10, 2004
Riding days—It's been a cool, wet week. Every day has been rideable, but fenders and rain gear would make the ride more pleasant. Even without the rain protection, with a short commute the rain can be tolerable, especially on the return trip. If there's a place to change clothes, including shoes, it's easy enough to change, hang clothes out to dry, and hope the weather clears for the ride home.

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Knee surgery—It's been a laid back week since knee surgery for a torn miniscus on Tuesday. I've been sleeping and lying on the couch most of the time. It's also been a time to get caught up on reading. Finished the McSweeney's Quarterly cartoon issue, No. 13. It contains some pretty crude material, which I suppose is par for the course these days. I'm walking well now with almost no pain; the advantages of arthroscopic surgery.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004
The End is Near?—Bill Moyers was recently awarded the fourth annual Global Environment Citizen Award. His acceptance speech centered on the the anti-environmental beliefs of many Americans, as well as many Congressmen.
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
He quotes from The Godly Must Be Crazy: Christian-right views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment by Glenn Scherer at Grist Magazine. This is the first I have heard of Grist:
Grist is an online environmental magazine. Our credo: Pull no punches, take no prisoners, eschew the wealth and fame that so often seduce online environmental journalists. And try to have a better sense of humor than a pack of fur protesters.
It's scary reading that boils down to the belief by many fundamentalists that the end is near so why bother protecting the environment. Everything will be better once we reach the end, so we might as well hasten it along.

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Monday, December 06, 2004
Dylan — I recently rented the D.A. Pennebaker file Don't Look Back that documented Bob Dylan's 1965 acoustic tour of England, ending with two Royal Albert Hall concerts. I was living in London at the time, attending Central High School located just outside London in Bushey Park. That summer I happened across the film crew as they were attempting to shoot scenes of Dylan at Speaker's Corner as he harassed and was harassed by various soapbox (literally) speakers. Since it's strictly forbidden to film at that location, the crew were quickly chased off by a Bobbie. During that same time I was at London Heathrow seeing a friend off and Dylan walked by, breaking into a run as we tried to follow.

I wanted to see if there was any mention of the Hyde Park incident in the outtakes, but alas, no. It was fun to see the film again, although a bid tiresome as Dylan played mindless verbal games with various journalists. The best part was watching Dylan as he watched Donovan play a tune. He then took up the challenge and broke into an excellent version of It Ain't Me Babe (I think).

At the dance we attended on Saturday, as a friend was leaving I noticed that she was wearing a coat with Dylan's name on the back. At dinner the next night I mentioned this just before turning on the tv to see what was on 60 Minutes. The next segment was a very good interview of Dylan by Ed Bradley. Dylan was promoting his new book, Chronicles Vol. 1. Most of the historic footage for the interview was from Don't Look Back.

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More good riding weather—Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all good riding days, mostly sunny and mild. We've been lucky this year, with few rainy cold days and lots of sun. I rode to work on Friday, seeing several deer on the ride home along the W&OD Trail at night. They browse beside the trail and look up as I pass. I just hope that when they run they move away from the trail, which isn't always the case. We didn't ride on Saturday. We hauled a couple of bikes to the local Pedals for Progress collection, napped and went dancing later on. We did get out on Sunday, riding the tandem along the W&OD trail to Ashburn for lunch at a Greek restaurant located next to the trail. It was a beautiful, sunny day and there were lots of riders out.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004
Cold but rideable—It was cold today, nearly reaching freezing on my ride home from work at 7pm, but it was certainly a good day to ride. During the day the temperature was around 45° or so and I was comfortable riding in a fleece vest and long-sleeved cotton shirt and jeans, with long-fingered gloves. The ride home was very cold, in part because I didn't have my lobster claw gloves and my hands were numb by the time I got here. I added a t-shirt and windbreaker to the earlier outfit and my body was fine.

It was a slow day at the bike shop, although we did sell a folding bike. I'm hoping that the holiday sales pick up in the next week or so.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Strong winds—But it was still a good day to ride. At about 10am the sun came out and the temperature was about 45 degrees, which is about the ideal cycling temperature. Usually a long-sleeved shirt and a nylon vest are enough to keep warm after a few miles. Otherwise a light nylon jacket and long-sleeved shirt are good enough for the shorter, colder rides. The wind was very strong, so I had to pedal a little harder going into it.

So far the last three days have been good riding days and it's now December. I predict that most days this month will be rideable, and about half of those in January and February.

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