New Workout Playlist

Warm-Up Phase: “This Language” – Stateless “Whispering Wind” – Moby Work Phase: “UNKLE Reconstruction” – Michael Giacchino & UNKLE “Five Four” – The Gorillaz “Weapons of Mass Distortion” – The Crystal Method “Genetic Blueprint” – Fear Factory “Somewhere I Belong” – Linkin Park “One Man Army” – The Prodigy and Tom Morello “Ladies and Gentlemen” … Read more

Intro to Bike Commuting, Part IV

Photo by jessflickr. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

I’m hoping that my earlier posts about bicycle commuting got some of you inspired to get out there and start riding. Here in Minnesota, it’s still a little bit on the cold side, and (as I write this) in almost the middle of April we’re under a winter storm warning. I’ve been working on building a commuter bike, since my commute is about 7.5 times longer than it used to be. A single-speed won’t suffice anymore. (I’ll detail the completed bike in a future post.)

So. You’ve been commuting. You’re probably dropping weight, and starting to see a general improvement in your moods. But things could be better. This section will discuss things to improve your commuting experience.

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Challenge #3

So I got asked the following questions by Christopher Hawley:

1) Your take on the Olympics, the venue, and whether bicycling is adequately represented in the official events

2) optimism/realism/cynicism/pessimism: where do you see yourself on this spectrum? Is there another position which you would prefer to find yourself?

3) perversity of the universe, and why it tends to a maximal value (possibly one of Niven’s Laws, but ICBA to check): any personal anecdotes or insights?

[Here’s a starting topic: Why are people who are most hard of hearing the most likely to unplug the phone ‘because its ringing would disturb my sleep’?]

Well, let’s go through these one at a time.

First, the Olympics and cycling’s place in it. The venue? I’m fine with the games being hosted in China. Sure, they’ve got some human rights issues that they need to work out, but as a whole, I’m fine with the games being hosted there. That said, however, I feel bad for any endurance athlete that has to compete in Beijing’s air pollution.

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Photo courtesy of dunechaser. Licensed under the Creative Commons. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I wrote nothing in here about it. From that, you could infer that this factoid is meaningless to me. That inference would be wrong, despite my being born four years (and change) … Read more

Challenge Me

I’m stealing an idea from John Scalzi, one of my favorite writers/bloggers out there. That idea is the “user dictated writing”… You, my (few) readers, get to spew forth ideas for me to write about. Seriously, it doesn’t have to be about writing, and it doesn’t have to be about cycling. Anything. Any topic. Challenge … Read more

Making for a Bike-Friendly City

Bicycle Parking at UC Davis

Chicago recently passed laws to institute fines against motorists who cause accidents with bicycles. As a cyclist, I think that this is a great thing.

I’m fortunate to live in a city (Minneapolis) where we take cycling seriously — as both recreation and a form of transportation. But even with that level of commitment to the activity, we still have issues with being protected by the police. I know of multiple people of the type who would admit to fault if it was theirs, who have been hit by cars, assaulted by motorists, and so on, only to have the cops write up a report that blames the cyclist (if they bother to write a report at all). While these laws are a great contribution to making Chicago a more bike-friendly city, and something that Minneapolis should institute as well, they are unlikely to do any real good.

To make this change more immediate, a few things have to happen:

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Intro to Bike Commuting, Part III

Photo by drocksays. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Contingency Planning

The most important thing you can do as a bike commuter is to remain mentally flexible. As long as you hope for the best and prepare for the worst, you should be fine. That said, there are things you’ll encounter on the road that require a certain set of behaviors, and can ameliorate negative situations.

Drivers. You need to understand one thing —

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Intro to Bike Commuting, Part II

Photo by red5standingby. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do in getting ready for a bicycle commute is a reality check. There are two questions that need answering — are you healthy enough to undertake a bicycle commute? And, is the distance to the office something you can realistically ride?

The first question is something you should discuss during a consultation with a doctor. I am not a physician, and thus not qualified to provide life-or-death medical advice in this series of articles (or anywhere else in my blog). Should you be healthy enough to make a weekly commute, by all means move on to the next question.

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Intro to Bike Commuting, Part I

Photo by Richard Masoner. Licensed under the Creative Commons. Introduction In 2011, I wrote about the out-of-control energy costs that are plaguing the United States, their impact, and put forward a pair of ideas about reducing the amount of oil we have to import. One of these ideas was once-a-week bike commuting. (The other was … Read more

Books About Writing Books

So I got asked today about how-to-write books — specifically, I was asked to recommend a few. Given that this seems to be a topic that comes up now and then, I am going to recommend two-and-a-half of them (one is specific for F&SF writers).

The first is On Writing by Stephen King. This is the book that I re-read every so often. King puts together an autobiography and a lecture on craft into one easy-to-read manuscript. The thing is, most writers would put together an autobiography that would read as “if you didn’t grow up like I did, you’ll never amount to much.” King doesn’t do that. Instead, he draws on elements of his upbringing that illustrate how his life shaped him as a writer, and are easily identifiable as things that could have just as easily happened to you. The result is a frank, sometimes funny, sometimes sad book on not just craft, but what it really means to be a writer.

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