Saturday, February 26, 2011

Let's Try This Again

My last post was about how I was going to start using DRFN to write more. And I followed that up with a week of nothing. So, let's try this again. It's beginning to dawn on me that I don't care much for the short essay format of much blog writing. I'm an academic, so I'm used to writing a lot about a little, not a little about a lot. But I'm going to try to work through it. Brevity and forthrightness are virtues that more academics need to embrace, myself included. As a friend of mine says, "it would have been shorter if I'd had more time."

That being said, I don't have anything in particular to write about today. I'm finishing Ted Conover, The Routes of Man: How Roads are Changing the World and How We Live Today, and I'm starting Peter Norton, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. I've been thinking a lot about streets and vehicles for two projects I'm working on.

I've also been combing Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper from the 1860s for cover art options for my book out this fall. I'll have some fun random tidbits to post from them pretty soon. I've also been reviewing and working on addressing issues from the copyeditor's draft of the book, which is making me neurotic.

Plus, a bunch of other stuff, including bike advocacy, which I'll probably write about soon.

I've been listening to Sun Kil Moon for a couple of weeks now, and my wife and I have been going on more bike rides since we bought her a nice light(er) 1980s Univega mixte to replace her 400-pound 1970s Schwinn Suburban.

So anyway, that's it. Good times!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Daily Grind

For whatever reason, all of my writing projects are currently in non-writing stages. I'm finding that the old artist's maxim "a line a day" is getting hard to do in any sort of productive way on my work projects, so I'm going to start using DRFN as a writing space in order to keep my knives sharp. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

Inevitably, since I don't find myself having profound, well-ordered thoughts that lend themselves easily to short essays every day, this will inevitably involve writing about some of the mundane tasks and thoughts that occupy me on a daily basis. I don't anticipate using this as a "confessional" space -- I don't think anybody wants that -- and I will also make an effort not to let my posts devolve into just stream-of-consciousness writing. Of course, the golden rule of putting stuff on the Internet will also be followed: don't post anything you wouldn't be comfortable standing up and shouting in a public square.

If this doesn't sound appealing to you, that's fine, just don't read the posts that look boring or dumb. You have the power!

Anyway, that's that.

Oh, also, I'm going to be changing the look of the page again. I'm going even more minimalist (even more less -- ha!). I just started a photo blog called bikes in the house, which is going to be kind of what I'm going for with DRFN, style-wise, if you want a preview. Also, it's the source for pictures of bikes in the house, FYI.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


As The Frenchman settles in to being my daily rider, I decided I wanted to add some unique bits to personalize the bike. I remembered that a while ago we had purchased some small charms from a bead shop, and when I dug them out and did a little research, found out that they are Latin American milagros (miracles), little charms that evoke various protections or prayers, depending on the shape of the charm. The one I chose to hang on my bike is the leg, which represents (according to the websites I could find that explain the symbolism):  one's strength, and the concept of travel, such as walking, a journey, or even the prayer involved in daily travel. Perfect right?

Here's the weird part. On my first ride to the grocery store with the milagro hanging from the bracket that attaches my bell to the stem, the leg would occasionally swing over and ding the bell. Probably 40%-50% of the time, this happened at a moment when it would have been a good idea to ring the bell, mostly in situations where I wanted to make sure people knew I was there. The rest of the time, it just dinged randomly, but the fortuitous coincidences were frequent enough that it did seem as though the charm was  giving me some protection. Am I going to rely on the little guy to keep me safe? Definitely not, but it's nice to have a little backup.

Green Scene

Mission Trails Regional Park.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The excellent image blog JJJJound has recently posted another huge batch of images. The site is an homage to aesthetics, emphasizing design, architecture, fashion, and the small or grand beauties we see around us every day. I look forward to browsing each new batch, as there is always something inspiring or interesting. Be fairly warned, though, some of the images on the site are not safe for work or mixed company. But if you have a mature sense of beauty and can handle the occasional nekkid lady or dude, you'll be fine. The only frustrating thing is that the images are unattributed and carry no explanations. For instance, I would love to know where the photo above was taken and what's going on there.