Tech Department Bike Garage

It’s been very hot outside lately, so I haven’t been commuting. But, I just recently found out that my employer does have a shower hidden away in the back of the building. So, I rode in today, and so did 2 of my cohorts in the Technology Department.

Behold: The Technology Department Bicycle Garage

Tech Services Bike Garage

Today: 10 miles
July: 59 miles
2008 Utility Miles: 194
2008 Total Miles: 356 miles

New Rail Trail In Lewisburg

It looks like there’s gonna be a new rail trail up north in my bucolic homeland.

The Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority has agreed to purchase the 11.8 miles of track and right-of-way owned by the West Shore Railroad stretching from Montandon through Lewisburg to Mifflinburg with the intention of converting it to a trail that can be used by walkers, joggers, bikers and cross-country skiers.

View Larger Map

By the way, The chairman of the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority is running for State Senate, and he’s way cooler then the other guy. If you live in the 23rd district, you should check out his webpage.

Stupid Blog Disease

Tex infected me with this silly blog nonsense. It’s contagious, evidently.

First, the background.

  1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning
  2. Each player answers the questions about themselves
  3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names
  4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer
  5. Create an arbitrary rule to keep with the whole fives theme.

What were you doing 5 years ago?

  • 5 years ago, I was smoking 2 packs a day, eating meat, and not riding a bicycle. I associated primarily with crass bar-people. I considered myself a libertarian, and earned my keep by working for evil corporate overlords.
  • Nowadays I don’t smoke, don’t eat meat, ride a bike sometimes, and associate with crass bike people. I consider myself politically confused, and earn my keep working for generally non-evil, non-corporate overlords

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

  1. Finish this blog entry
  2. suggest a Guy Fawkes ride on the HBG Critical Mass blog
  3. Figure out how to get to Jazz Under the Stars in Lancaster
  4. Ride my bike
  5. Read Siddhartha

What are five snacks you enjoy?

  1. Troegenator
  2. Appalachian Jolly Scot
  3. Ace hard Cider
  4. Hornsby’s Hard Cider
  5. Lancaster Milk Stout

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

  1. Two chicks at the same time.
  2. Buy a shit load of farmland and start my own religious cult. Kind of like the Amish, but replace the Christianity with a Secular Soto Zen Buddhism and get rid of all the farm animals — It’ll be all veganic farming and bicycles instead of horses and buggies.
  3. Go to space
  4. Donate a little bit to some worthy charities.
  5. Sponsor a mission to build 1/6 scale models of Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza on the surface of the moon. When space aliens come to Earth in a million years, that’ll give their archaeologists something to talk about.

What are five of your bad habits?

  1. Running this blog
  2. Eating too much
  3. Using enormous amounts of profanity in polite company
  4. Spending too much time in the internet
  5. fantasizing about doing cool things someday, when I could be dong them now

What are five places where you have lived?

  1. I lived 7 different places during the first 20 years of my life, but none was ever more than 6 miles from where I was born
  2. 10 years ago, I moved about 70 miles downstream to the Harrisburg area. I moved 5 times since then, but was always within bicycling distance of work.
  3. I’ve averaged 2.5 years per residence
  4. I’ve never, in my whole life, lived more than 6 miles from the Susquehanna River, and I think that if I ever move away from it, I will lose all of my supernatural powers, and turn into an asshole.

What are five jobs you’ve had?

  1. Paperboy – Milton Standard Journal – Got my first drop-bar ten speed to deliver newspapers
  2. Bus Boy – Good Wils Restaurant – Cleaning up after miserable Bucknell Students
  3. Burger Flipper – Wendy’s – cooking burgers for miserable Bucknell Students
  4. Macintosh ‘Computer’ Salesman – Bucknell University Bookstore (at this point I was a miserable Bucknell Student myself)
  5. Network Administrator – various evil corporate masters

I tag:

  1. Stankertanker
  2. Doc
  3. The Donut Guy
  4. end pavement
  5. analstormtrooper1996

Books: Politics and Porn

I frequently find myself involved in pointless political debates, where some person begins regurgitating talking points from either Fox News, or MSNBC, and I reciprocate by regurgitating the talking points of the opposing television station.

This is all well and good, but I wondered if maybe there might be room for some original thinking. Unfortunately, I don’t know the first thing about politics. So, I thought it might do me some good to read more about political philosophy, and thereby baffle my debating opponents with some esoteric piece of knowledge about Locke or Rousseau or some other such person.
To that end, I have been reading a few books.

Introducing Political Philosophy

Introducing Political Philosophy
I picked this one up at the bookstore in direct violation of my new policy to only buy books for my Kindle. It’s not available for the Kindle (I suspect) because it’s essentially a comic book. It’s quite silly, actually. There are cartoons of David Hume and Karl Marx explaining their various theories in speech balloons.

Unfortunately, the introduction is so brief, you only get a one or two sentence summary of each idea, before moving on to the next. Sadly, I do not think that the knowledge I’ve gleaned from this book will be sufficient to win any arguments.

2 Jihadis out of 5
I give Introducing Political Philosophy 2 Jihadis out of 5

Thomas Paine's Rights of Man
Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man: A Biography (Books That Changed the World)
This is a very short biography of Paine and his ideas. I’m afraid it’s almost entirely over my head, and it was a bit tedious to get through. I really like Hitchens, though, and I think I may pick up his biography of Jefferson next.

I give Hitchen’s Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man 3 Jihadis out of 5

3 Jihadis out of 5

Speaking of Jefferson, I just (today) finished American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
American Sphinx

I am planning to make a pilgrimage to Monticello sometime this fall, and I want to know as much as possible about Jefferson before I go, so I get as much out of the experience as possible. I visited Monticello before; once when I was 2 years old (which I don’t remember), and once when I was 10 years old, which I remember vividly, and I think that experience gave me my hero-worship for Mr. Jefferson.

Anyhow, American Sphinx tarnished my Jefferson-worship a little bit. I didn’t know, for instance, that Mr. Jefferson was essentially bankrupt when he died or that he was kind of a miserable, grumpy old fart towards the end of his life.

It’s a tad more of a standard history book than John Adams, which had more of a storytelling style. Nevertheless, it held my attention for 464 pages, which is no small feat.
4 Jihadis out of 5
I give American Sphinx 4 Jihadis out of 5.

After I finished American Sphinx today, I went down to the Barns and Noble in Camp Hill. I walked over to the biography section, and found the books on Jefferson. In some freak accident of alphabetical order, Jefferson is bookended by biographies of Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.

How to Make Love Like a Porn StarJeffersonRon Jeremy

Now, I have as much esteem for Ms. Jameson’s work as the next guy, but I think the last place in the world anyone would want to end up is between her and Mr. Jeremy.

My First Critical Mass

Critical Mass was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. There’s sort of a feeling of invincibility when you are in a big group. I finally got to meet fellow blogger Josh after reading his blog for a long time, so that was cool.

Critical Mass

I think the ride was about 12 miles total – all flat – with an average speed of 10mph, so it’s definitely within the athletic abilities of pretty much anyone.

Critical Mass

The only real law-breaking was running of red lights, which was pretty much necessary to keep the group together.

I didn’t take very many pictures. You can see the ones I took here.

I’m used to being jealous of Portland and Minneapolis for their crazy hoards of bike people. It’s awesome that we have crazy bike people here, too.

Crazy Bike People
Photos by recycle bicycle stitched with Hugin

Today: 17 miles
July: 49 miles
2008 Utility Miles: 184
2008 Total Miles: 346 miles

Taking Retro-Grouchitude to New Extremes

During my recent peruſals of various hiſtorical documents, I was somewhat perplexed by the appearance of a strange letter.

Long S

After, a bit of reſearch, I learned that this is the way a true retro-grouch writes the letter S, when it appears in the middle of a word.

I vigorouſly encourage dandified bicyclers of all sorts to make uſe of this wondrous letter in all future correſpondences.

After all, any poſeur can ride his lugged, steel bicycle to any haberdaſhery, procure himſelf a tweed hat, and preſent himſelf to the world as a retro-grouch.

A true gentleman of the wheel, however, applies a retro-grouchy character to all of his endeavors.

Expreſs your sneering condemnation of plaſtic modernity with a grace and panache almoſt unknown in these mournful days of brazen booriſhneſs.

The Long S; a more elegant letter for a more civilized age.


Adventures in Lethargy

I was resolved not to go to work today, but I couldn’t quite decide whether I wanted to spend my day riding my bicycle or reading my books, so I decided to do both.

I threw my Kindle in the Carradice along with some provisions, and set out on the LVRT.


The LVRT is liberally festooned with park benches. I rode from one bench to the next, stopping to read a few pages before puttering off the the next bench, passing up those that were not squarely in the shade, as the weather was a good bit warmer than I generally prefer.

Given the rural location of the trail, I was surprised to find that the wireless broadband worked out here. I downloaded a newspaper, so as to stay abreast of world events while on my adventure.

Philadelphia Inquirer Kindle Edition

I’ve never been a fan of actual, physical newspapers. They are too big and unwieldy to handle comfortably, and I can never seem to fold them back up correctly. I like reading the newspaper on the Kindle, though.

After much bench-hopping, and a few chapters of my book, I came at last to the Colebrook Twin Kiss.

Ice Cream!

After stopping for some refreshment, I reversed my direction, and continued my bench-hopping routine, until I returned to my starting place.

Today: 20 miles
July: 32 miles
2008 Utility Miles: 184
2008 Total Miles: 329 miles

Some More Summer Reading

It’s been about 100° outside for the past few days, and I’ve been spending a lot of time in at work nursing a dead Microsoft Exchange cluster back to life, so I’ve not been riding my bike at all lately. Watching email databases defragment does not exactly demand one’s undivided attention, so I’ve had the opportunity to do some more reading.

An Essay on the Professional Life of Mira Lloyd Dock

Mira Lloyd Dock

I bought this book at the Wildwood lake Nature Center . It’s a short biography of Mrs. Dock, who got the Greenbelt started, cleaned up Harrisburg (did you know riverfront park used to be a garbage dump?), and was ultimately appointed to the new State Forestry Commission. She was the first woman ever appointed to a government post in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
You can read more about her on the Department of Environmental Protection Website.

The book is only about 50 pages, so you can read it in an hour or two. If you are interested in local history, especially the history of Harrisburg’s ONLY piece of cycling infrastructure (don’t get me started…), you might like this one.

4 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 4 Jihadis out of 5.

Once Upon a Time in the North
Once Upon a Time in the North
I am a huge fan of Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. Once Upon a Time in the North is a prequel to that story. You get to learn about how Lee Scoresby got his balloon, and how he met Iorek, which is kind of fun, but this one is much more obviously a children’s book than the HDM books, and there’s really not a strong higher-level story for grown-ups that the Trilogy had.

3 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 3 Jihadis out of 5.

The World Without Us
The World Without Us

The World Without Us is a really weird book. The premise is that every single human being on the planet is instantaneously removed (like we all get abducted by aliens or something). It then goes on to catalog how long it would take to various bits of the infrastructure human civilization to fall apart.

Houses fall down, bridges collapse, wildlife comes roaring back to fill niches humans have driven it from. Evidently the dead zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, is teeming with bears, and the waters around the bikini islands (where all sorts of nuclear weapons testing went on) are full of (slightly mutated) fish, simply because humans aren’t there to mess things up anymore.

There are lots of things in this book that are very interesting. It seems to hold out hope that maybe humans haven’t totally fucked everything up, and that we could, at least theoretically fix up the environment.

On the other hand, it feels like the worst kind of diabolical environmentalist wish fulfillment fantasy, where it seems like the author genuinely thinks the world would be a better place if humans went extinct.

That’s kind of fucked up.

3 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 3 Jihadis out of 5.

Books: John Adams

John Adams

John Adams relies heavily on the letters that Adams wrote and received from his wife, and from various people in congress.

I was really impressed by level of the everyone’s writing in the 18th century. Even in short, private letters to his wife, his prose is very elegant.

I shudder to think that if, by some unlikely turn of events, I were to become a famous historical figure, some future historian might use this horrid little blog to reconstruct my life. Maybe I should try to improve my writing skills, just in case I become president someday.

McCullough basically edited together these letters along with the diary entries of all the characters of the revolution, and made it into a novel. Though I am not an expert in novels, but the book seems to follow all the rules of character development, etc, which makes it much more pleasant to read than a list of dates and events.

There is perhaps a bit more detail than one would like in a regular novel. I was not always interested to know what Adams ate for dinner all the time. Nonetheless, it was interesting enough that I voluntarily read 750 pages of history. I suppose that fact recommends the book highly enough of itself.

I give John Adams 5 Jihadis out of 5
5 Jihadis out of 5

This is the first (and so far, only) book that I’ve read entirely on my new Kindle. I had no problems with eyestrain (or any problems at all, for that matter). I think that for massive, 750 page books, the Kindle is ideal. It’s just not fun to hold a big heavy book in your hands, especially when you are near the beginning or end, and the book get very unbalanced.

I spent a good bit of this past weekend on airplanes, and I was very glad to have my Kindle with me. With an 8GB SD card, my kindle will hold 8,200 books. I recently learned that Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books was the largest in North America during his lifetime, and I can hold more than that in the palm of my hand, crammed into my coach seat, as I hear over the intercom that we are “9th in line for takeoff.”