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exhalations
Monday, October 31, 2005
 Pumpkin field 
Check out this incredible photo of a field of pumpkins on topleftpixel, an excellent photoblog.


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Saturday, October 29, 2005
 Cherry Creek Bike Rack 
Posted photos taken this spring of the Cherry Creek Bike Rack, a bike station located in downtown Denver. Bikes can be parked for free or rented. There's a changing station, a mechanic on duty for repairs to the bikes while they're parked, and a selection of bike accessories. We need one of these in Northern Virginia in a place like the Reston Town Center or Tysons Corner. The Bike Rack is sponsored by Transportation Solutions, an alternative transportation advocacy group.


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 Libby indictment 
Read the Libby indictment document at the Dept. of Justice Web site.


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Thursday, October 27, 2005
 Bicycle crashes 
In the past week three people have come into the shop and complained about being hit by cars. In one instance two people had their front wheels nearly destroyed by a motorist who didn't look right before turning into them as they tried to get by on the sidewalk. They didn't report the crash to the police, shrugging when I asked them why not. The didn't think the police would do anything anyway.

The other person was riding in the road when a motorist passing at about 45 mph hit him with a rear-view mirror. He was able to avoid falling, but received quite a blow. He got a partial license number, and another motorist followed the offending driver, who didn't stop, and got the full tag number. The cyclist said that the police didn't seem to want to pursue it. Upon further discussion, it appears that the cyclist didn't want to file charges; he merely wanted the motorist to talk to him about the event. The police insisted that unless he filed charges, there was nothing they could do.

Crashes should always be reported. The event will be recorded and will appear in future statistics about bicycle crashes. Otherwise a true picture of the number of crashes that really occur will not be possible, and police and others can say that it's not a problem, that it doesn't happen that often. Most of the people who have discussed crashes with me have said that it wasn't reported. The Florida Bicycle Association has some good information about why bicycle crashes should always be reported.

Accident vs. crash—Notice that I didn't call the events accidents. An accident is “an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance”, something that couldn't be avoided. Most accidents have a cause and can be avoided.


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 Recent book finds 
It's always a treat to find interesting, cheap used books at the local library. The latest finds were: The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin (25¢), Roads by Larry McMurtry ($1.00), and a back issue of Real Simple magazine (10$cent;). I'm currently reading Saturday by Ian McEwan (checked out from the library), another excellent novel by one of the best. It takes place on a Saturday in 2003, told from the perspective of a brain surgeon. It presents an accurate picture of live in the post 9/11 world.


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 The Boomer Effect 
In discussing trips that friends have made recently, I've noticed what I'll call the Boomer Effect. Both people mentioned that they had traveled to Europe in October hoping to escape the summer tourists. They were surprised by the crowds, many of which were Americans. As we boomers age, we have a little more free time and are not limited in scheduling our vacations during the summer months. The catch is that there are so many of us now traveling, that we're creating our own off-season crowds. We also have this annoying tendency to see the world from our perspective only, thinking that we have such a big influence on the world. We are a large group, but there are probably many other factors that can explain what I'm calling the Boomer Effect.

As an aside, a friend who was recently in Florence, Italy noted that he couldn't get into any of the more popular museums in October. Reservations made far in advance were required and so they traveled instead, going to Cinque Terra, to discover the place was swamped with American tourists. More boomers?

Another Boomer Effect closer to home is the exodus from this area to North and South Carolina. Apparently there are many retirement communities springing up down there waiting for us boomers to sell our expensive houses up here and invest the proceeds in these new places. Several friends and neighbors have already made the move; the first boomer wave. The same thing is happening in the Shenandoah Valley and southern Virginia.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
 IdealBite 
"Ideal Bite was created in early 2005 as the ultimate online source of clever ideas that are good for both people and the planet." There's a blog as well.


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 Residentail energy savings 
In the latest edition of RMI Solutions, the journal of the Rocky Mountain Institute (see an earlier exhalations entry), there's a short article on retrofitting an older home using energy efficient technology. For supplemental light in dark areas of a home, Solatubes are a unique solution. They are much less expensive than sky lights. A Solatube is a small tubes with a light collector installed on the roof. Light is reflected into the house and a diffuser projects it evenly throughout a room.

Other measures were installing insulated doors with double-paned windows, and Energy Star Appliances used to replace older ones. Small steps that we can all take to save energy. RMI Solutions is available online in PDF.


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 Portland's Bike to Work Challenge 
Portland takes their cycling seriously. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is very active in promoting cycling in the Portland area. One of their more visible events is the Bike Commute Challenge, a competition among companies in the area.
The Bike Commute Challenge is a friendly competition workplace against workplace with benefits for companies and individual cyclists when employees bike to work during the month of September.

The BTA determines workplaces in each of 5 size categories with the highest percentage of bike trips compared to overall possible employee trips - and announces the winners in mid-October.

Individual cyclists who made seven or more trips by bike in September claim their sweet reward - discounts on gear at their local bike shops (with a printout of their tally card). Discounts are valid after 7 trips are made, and redeemable only in the month of September.


We've been holding a similar event for Reston Bike to Work Day, and the USGS has won every year, the prize being a free lunch sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Maybe this year we need to kick it up a notch; expand the categories, use online tracking of trips and miles, and include the entire month of May instead of just Bike to Work Day.


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Thursday, October 20, 2005
 Ismael Roldan 
I love the caricature style of Ismael Roldan.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2005
 10,000 year clock 
At Discover Magazine there's a fascinating article about the 10,000 year clock being built by Danny Hillis of the Long Now Foundation:
What kind of machine can, for 10 millennia, accurately reconcile hours, days, weeks, months, leap years, leap centuries, the precession (wobbling around an axis) of planetary orbits, and, grandest cycle of all, the 25,784-year precession of the equinox?
Brian Eno has produced a CD entitled Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now. Free downloads are available from Amazon.

The clock is a crazy idea, but I can see it being worshiped one day in the future as a sacred object that lives long after it's creator has passed away. People will make pilgrimages to see it. Just the idea of the clock has forced people to begin to think about the future.


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Monday, October 17, 2005
 Interbike 2005 
cyclingnews.com has extensive coverage of the massive bike expo held in Las Vegas every year, Interbike. Singlespeed mountain bikes were on display, something that was unheard of until recently. A new carbon-soled shoe by Lake is meant to be heated in an oven, then form-fitted to ones foot.


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 Making London more pedestrian friendly 
Pedestrian activists in London recently hired a consulting firm to investigate ways to make London more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The report, Towards a fine City for People London 2004, is available as a PDF file:
On the basis of the findings a set of overall recommendations have been put forward. The recommendations describe the change of mindset that needs to take place in London where the overall emphasis on vehicular traffic needs to be refocused to encompass other transport modes. A general discussion of urban quality has been raised with the report and a process has begun towards improving the quality of the public spaces and thus inviting people to repossess their city.


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Sunday, October 16, 2005
 Cycle North Carolina 
It's been too long since the last post. We recently returned from a week and a half spent traveling to North Carolina to ride in Cycle North Carolina. The event is held yearly, and the course is generally from the mountains to the sea. Such an easy ride, downhill all the way; except for all the hills in between. It was a difficult ride, with long stages each day, and 3 solid days of rain. A trip report should follow soon.


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