Saturday, February 27, 2010

Favorite Things: The Philistine Magazine

My wife and I have a small collection of Elbert Hubbard's magazine The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest, which was produced by the Roycroft Press between 1895 and 1915 (when Hubbard took an ill-fated voyage aboard the Lusitania). Our collection is quite modest right now, and our initial guidelines for purchase have been the quality of the back cover designs, which frequently feature satirical or quirky or inspirational messages set beautifully with Arts and Crafts motifs. The example here is one of my favorites, from the September 1910 (Volume 31, No.4) edition.

And yes, Elbert Hubbard was related (by adoption) to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and part-time wackadoo.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Would You Pay $200 for This Bike?

Spotted in the local Craigslist bicycle listings. I don't usually make fun of postings on CL, but this one is just too outrageous not to comment on. I like the creative use of the word "antique" (1983) and the unintentionally hilarious phrase "must see to believe." I'll say. I really hope nobody falls for this.
for sale bike - $200 (san diego)
"I have an antique bicycle i am trying to sell frame is in good working condition it is a 83 free spirit it is a great project bike must see to believe.please call or e-mail if interested my number is ----------. Thank You" 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Share the Road Rage

I'm no fan of motorcycles, but this story at SignOnSanDiego today gave me pause:
A message appearing on electronic freeway signs around the county in the past week wasn’t supposed to cause road rage.
To the state agencies that posted the message, its suggestion “Share the road. Look twice for motorcyclists” seemed helpful, especially with spring weather bringing out more bikers.
Some drivers apparently saw red.
“None of the calls we’ve gotten have been positive,” said Edward Cartagena, spokesman for the San Diego Caltrans office. “One call was a 20-minute rant.”
Since the electronic message was posted statewide Feb. 11, Caltrans has received about 800 phone calls, mostly positive....  “Except for here [my emphasis]. I don’t know why,” Cartagena said.
In the bicycling community, we've experienced much the same reaction to "share the road" messages. The prevailing assumption here seems to be that if you're not traveling by car, or traveling exactly the way a car would travel, you must be getting special treatment, or be some sort of ruffian, or are risking everyone's life -- and the list of outrages goes on.
The "special treatment" argument in particular is the most interesting to me. If someone chooses a different mode of travel from the dominant vehicle (and its inherent limitations), they become part of a pariah community that must, in some way, be setting itself "against" the mainstream and its values. Emphasis gets placed on what they're doing differently (traveling by a different sort of vehicle) rather than what they are doing the same (just trying to get where they're going without dying or getting maimed). The really troubling thing is that so many people rarely consider being "different" to be a good thing. They get hung up on the "different" part, and never even get to the "same" part.
Holy crap, I think I just solved every global conflict. Well, you're welcome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Photos from Coronado/Imperial Beach Ride

A group of us from the SDBikeCommuter forums went on a ride this weekend to Suzie's Farm in Imperial Beach. About 30 of us caught the ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado, then rode down The Strand to IB. The farm is right on the border with Mexico, a few hundred yards from the Tijuana River. It was a bit surreal to have the border fence on the hill to the south, and the Border Patrol station on the hill to the north, touring an organic farm in the middle. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nottingham: 1, Detroit: 0

I posted at Bike San Diego today about getting hit by a car last night while riding my bike, so I won't go into all the details again. You can read all about it over there, but here's an excerpt:

The driver who hit me had not even reached his stop line when I entered the intersection. I was ¾ of the way across the driver’s line of sight when I realized that he was not fully stopping. I yelled and pushed hard to get out from in front of him, but he clipped my rear wheel. The bike went down, but I was able to step off and stay on my feet.
As I stumbled to keep from falling, the driver crept through the intersection, looking back directly at me. Once he realized I was still standing (not broken or bleeding on the pavement), he accelerated and left the scene. 

I had to laugh just now when I gave my British steel the once-over in the light of day and found only a minor bend in the rear fender and some chipped paint. Both wheels spin true, the frame, steering, and cranks are fine, and the shifting is unaffected. In fact, I took the opportunity to tighten down my brakes, so it actually rides better now than it did before. Take that, car!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Hike

In San Diego's Florida Canyon, part of Balboa Park. The canyon is as green and lush as I've ever seen it, thanks to the recent rains. There was plenty of mud and standing water, but the trails were in great shape overall and there weren't many people out, on account of a certain professional sporting event taking place today. The weather was brisk for San Diego, with a chilly wind blowing and clouds moving fast. It's hard to believe these photos were taken in the center of the nation's ninth largest city.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Waist Land

I knew it! From the BBC:
"A survey from department store Debenhams... suggests that a man's waistband rises and falls throughout his life. Trousers bottom out at the age of 16 with below-the-hip styles and peak at 57, just seven inches below the armpit...
Fashion history shows this seesaw isn't such a new thing - waistlines have been bouncing up and down for hundreds of years."
BBC: Mens' waistbands have risen and fallen throughout history.

Image: The Smithsonian Institution, part of the Flickr Commons.

Truss-Bridge Bicycle Frames

I wouldn't say that I'm a covetous person. I have relatively few material things that I really want. I have a whole theory about how appreciation for material things is healthy, but over-indulgence in anything creates imbalance and unhappiness. Getting too wrapped-up in want and have for their own sake is bad, but if you truly appreciate a thing, and derive real benefit from it every day (use, aesthetics, enjoyment, etc.) I don't see any reason to deny yourself that benefit simply for the sake of believing that a person should live without material pleasures.

Anyhoo. One thing I really want (in a slow-burning, maybe-someday sort of way) is a truss-bridge bicycle. Something about the aesthetics of these frames pushes hard on a little part of my brain's happy center. The most famous American manufacturer of these bicycles was Iver Johnson, which is best known for producing firearms:

The French company Labor also produced a truss-bridge frame:

The modern company A.N.T. (Alternative Needs Transportation) makes a truss-bridge frame that isn't quite as sexy as the old ones (to my eye, at least), but I wouldn't kick it out of the garage, either:

Iver Johnson

Monday, February 1, 2010

Loomis' No. 10 Pittsburgh Almanac for 1844

This weekend my wife and I spent a good bit of time at a local bookstore that has gone out of business and is now liquidating its stock at sacrificial prices. The loss of the shop is a tragedy for this city, but I like to think more about all of the people who will be enriched by the books they were able to buy and take home.

Among the many little treasures we brought home was this 1844 almanac, which we purchased for $0.50. It's not rare or valuable, but it is certainly a nice addition to our little (but growing) collection of historical ephemera, and it will perhaps make a nice teaching specimen someday. The best part is that someone wrote a couple of cryptic notes in it, perhaps practicing penmanship (but certainly not spelling): "Alnamack White hous" and "big lip piscat heffer". Or perhaps it's some sort of code?