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Wednesday, October 31, 2007
At one time if you clicked on the Archives link at the bottom of this page, a page with a list of old posts appeared. It no longer works. Trying to figure out why...

[Update: I give up. I've included links to all of the monthly archives at the bottom of the left column.]

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
 Glacier-Banff-Jasper trip 

Kerie and I took a Bicycle Adventures tour in Glacier National Park and points north this summer. We had a great trip, although the last day was a little frustrating when we ended the tour prematurely due to some rain. Anyway, I've written up some notes on the trip.

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 National Gallery 

Took advantage of a beautiful cool day to ride down to the National Gallery to see the latest exhibits. I've always been a fan of the work of Edward Hopper, well known for his somber urban paintings like Night Hawks. They capture the feeling of urban loneliness perfectly. Even though most were painted over 50 years ago, they still resonate. He was a representational artists during a time when abstract art was the rage.

I also enjoy his watercolors, especially those done during the summer when he visited Gloucester and Cape Code, Mass. His were not typical beach scenes. Many were of old Victorian houses and various street scenes rendered in beautiful colors. They are much lighter in tone than the urban paintings. His paintings of light houses were some of his best.

I happened to notice that the painting that I liked the most, an oil painting entitled Captain Upton's House (above), is owned by Steve Martin. Later as I watched the film about Hopper's life I realized that Martin was the narrator. He has an extensive art collection.

I also visited the J.M.W. Turner exhibit. He made some wonderful paintings that explode on the canvas. He's a unique painter who must have been a bit mad, creating wild expressionist paintings before there was such a thing.

This is one of those times when it's easy to spend the day at the National Gallery. Other exhibits included prints by Robert Rauschenberg and a collection of snapshots, The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888–1978. And finally, a great collection of woodcut prints in The Baroque Woodcut which includes prints by Titian, Albrecht Dürer, Giuseppe Scolari and Peter Paul Rubens.

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Friday, October 26, 2007
 Last day of work 
It was an anti-climatic last day of work at the shop today. I've been there since Spring 2004 and it's time to move on to new adventures. I've learned an incredible amount about bicycles and people and dogs (Java, the chocolate Lab). I will miss the spontaneity of working in the retail business but will not miss being on my feet for long hours with a sore back. We've accomplished a lot in the store but have left many tasks undone. The most important thing I've learned is the amount of work and energy that it takes to run a small business. Support your locally owned small business, they are the life of the community.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007
 Football Sunday 
It was a beautiful Fall day today and we timed our tandem ride to coincide with the Redskins football game at 1pm. We can usually count on having the roads and trails to ourselves from about 1-4pm, and it was true today. There were more users on the W&OD Trail than expected, but far fewer than one would expect on such a nice day. We rode to the Bagel Cafe in Herndon, a good, local, somewhat funky place we like to visit for lunch on weekends. We needed to make sure the Barcroft Columbia tandem was in good shape for the Vienna Halloween Parade. We plan to ride with the folks at bikes@vienna.

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 Bikes in the Post 
The recent rail strike in France was a boon to Velib, the new bike rental program implemented throughout Paris, and other bike rental businesses, according to the Post Travel Section article Rail Strike? Just Bike.

In the same section was a letter in Travel Q&A about bike touring in NYC: I'm interested in spending a day on the bike trail on Manhattan's West Side. Can you recommend hotels near the trail that provide storage for bikes or allow them in rooms?

Several hotels, especially in the Battery where the trail begins, are quite bicycle-friendly. Some, like the Holiday Inn Wall Street, ask that you check your bike in a secure room in the lobby (212-232-7700, http://www.holidayinn.com). Rates begin at $269 a night. Others will allow you to take your vehicle right into your room. These include the Exchange Hotel (212-742-0003, http://www.exchangehotel.com), where rooms start at $199, and the Embassy Suites New York (212-945-0100, http://www.embassysuites.com) where rooms start at $229.

Wherever you decide to stay, drop by the Bike New York Web site ( http://www.bikenewyork.org) for lots more cycling information, brought to you by a principal sponsor of the city's celebrated springtime five-borough bike tour, and the New York Cycle Club site ( http://www.nycc.org), where the message boards could hardly be more active. Both are wonderful resources for two-wheelers and the folks who love them.

Maybe there is hope for this world.

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 New Yorker article on Radiohead 
While browsing through some old New Yorker magazines, I came across a June 26, 2006 article by their excellent music critic Sasha Frere-Jones entitled Fine Tuning: Reassessing Radiohead. It's a good overview of Radiohead's career and surprisingly good review of their latest recording In Rainbows over a year before the release this October:
The band is recording a new album, and on its current tour is trying out at least twelve new songs. Several reprise the hushed, hypnotic mood of “Amnesiac” (2001) and “Hail to the Thief” (2003). The lovely “Videotape,” which invokes death and Mephistopheles (Yorke opens with “When I’m at the pearly gates, this’ll be on my videotape”), slowly ramps up and then down, the guitars and the drums bobbing around Yorke’s piano chords, emphasizing different beats of the rhythm, as if three songs were slowly becoming one.
Sasha (for some reason I always thought of him as a her but now know better) also was prescient in his comments about the recording:
Radiohead no longer has a contract with EMI and says that it has no plans to sign with a label. However the band chooses to release its next record, it can still make a handsome living by touring and selling merchandise. Labels spend a lot of time and money worrying about illegal downloading and file-sharing. What they should be worried about is more bands like Radiohead, which could make major labels a relic of the twentieth century.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An interesting series of photos of people and their breakfasts.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007
 Great Falls Loop 
We're having a great Fall here in N. Va. It's been warmer than usual with almost no rain. It's been terrible for the shrubs and garden but great cycling weather. Today was an ideal cycling day, cool, clear, and sunny. We spent the morning riding to the local farmer's market to pick up apples, yogurt, and corn on the cob and to chat with some friends. We stopped by the optometrist's office on the way back home and ran into another friend. She thought we were "playing", which we were, but we were also just doing the normal errands that most people do using their cars.

After lunch we decided to take a ride around the local area. I needed to check on some trails for a trail mapping project so we went there then rode through a very rural section of the county. It's been kept rural because of the very large lots. Some are horse farms, others are just large homes on really big lots; very wealthy people reside there. It makes for good cycling, with few cars and great scenery. It's about a 25 mile loop and a good workout with lots of hills.

We never started a car and yet we got lots done and had a great, scenic ride. There were a few places where the riding was terrible, but they were very short road sections that need better bicycle accommodations, and they would then link the good rural roads. The hyperlink above points to a map of the route. With our bicycle advocacy we hope to help the county map some of these good bike routes, and help make the roads more bicycle-friendly. Maybe we can get more people out of their cars, riding for local transportation and for recreation.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 Dublin gets "free" bicycles 
According to an article at ireland.com, Dublin may have a bike rental systems like that of Paris and Lyon, where bike rental systems were recently installed around those cities. They are funded by an advertising company that was allowed to install billboards in various locations in the city. I've mentioned the Paris bike program in the past, which is a great success. I despise the idea of having more billboards in any city, but if that's the only way to get more people on bikes, then it's not such a steep price to pay. Perhaps one day bike rental systems will be self-supporting.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
 Walkable Communities 
I can't think of many people who don't want to live in walkable communities. That's an awkward way of saying that most people want to live in places where you can walk or bike to local stores, parks, and work. And yet we seem to propagate all the actions that have produced non-walkable communities in the past. New schools are located far away from where most people live, we devote most of our transportation funds to motorized travel, etc. Developers and designers are changing, emphasizing mixed-use developments and realizing the importance of providing places to walk and bike in their developments. It's a slow rate of change.

It shouldn't be, and I have a hunch that walkable communities are much more economically viable than most other kinds of communities. Property value have declined in most communities in the past couple of post-real estate boom years. I'd like to compare the rate of decline in walkable vs. other communities.

In searching for a list of walkable communities I came across an excellent article by Dan Burden, founder of BikeCentennial and the consulting company Walkable Communities entitled How can I find and help build a walkable community? Included is a checklist that he uses to evaluate communities: Walkable Communities Have: 1. Intact town centers. 2. Residential densities, mixed income, mixed use. 3. Public Space., etc. At the end of the article is a list of walkable communities in North America.

If you know of a table of property value trends by cities in the U.S., please let me know.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007
 Radiohead about to release new music 
One of my favorite groups, Radiohead, have finished work on their latest music release, “in rainbows”. They recently finished their contract with EMI, which released 7 CDs. The group is now releasing their music only via their website. There are two options. One costs about $82 (£40), the Discbox, which includes 2 vinyl LPs, a CD, an enhanced CD, lyric booklets, and artwork all encased in a hardback book. The other option is to download the entire album. The interesting part is that there is no set fee; pay what you will. The Telegraph has a good article about the experiment entitled “What's at the end of Radiohead's Rainbows?

Some of us are still fans of CDs that you can hold in your hand, copy to your computer, ipod, whatever, but still have that CD in your hand in case all the digits disappear. Purchasing a CD does not appear to be an option, at least not now. The temptation is to pay very little for the download and then, based on the “quality”, purchase the CD if that becomes available later. I'd like to give that feedback to the band but haven't yet figured out a method to do so. They do have a blog of sorts, Dead Air Space. The new album will be available for download on Oct. 10.

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