Friday, April 29, 2016

Where Once Stood a House

Demolition instructions: please spare the tree

The speed with which one of these machines reduces a homestead to a lot of level bare dirt is stunning. On the one hand, I think of all the memories and home scenes that must have taken place in the home that once was, how all the attachments of those memories to specific physical attributes of the former house were busted up into random-shaped refuse and hauled off in trucks covered in dust. On the other hand, it's an exercise in breathtaking tidying and minimalism which makes a mockery of spending hours sorting through papers in one filing cabinet, say, or hours spent flipping through old CDs deciding which ones to store, rip, discard, or donate. In one go, lasting only a few days, where once stood a house with all its accumulations and ordered disorder, now is just an empty, flat, bare lot, pure and full of potential, wiped of everything.

I pass this spot on my daily bike commute. Houses all around have met a similar transformation, mainly to be replaced with new ones more densely packed. The developer equation is so pristine: if sales price is greater than purchase price plus construction price, then do it again and again. You can translate that to a minimalist dejunking tidying relation: if simple pristine order of worthy/important/joy-triggering items post-tidying is more valuable to you than holding tightly onto a bunch of stuff you don't need simply because you have feelings of clinging to it indefinitely in case it may be useful someday, donate it or discard it all.  The goal is probably not to get down to bare dirt, but if sheer capitalist drive can accomplish the photo above in a day or two, I can discard what's unimportant, unneeded, unwanted, and unjoyfilled in a short period of time as well. 

My desk now resembles this bare lot: down to monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, and inside logically organized drawers with plenty of empty space. That's it. It's a start.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Scottsdale Garbage

You can tell a lot about a culture by its garbage

The decommissioning and tear-down of some floating art along the Scottsdale Waterfront resulted in this unusual garbage. It's notable, sitting next to the bike lane, and not something that you see every day.

The others gathered together, herded into a group, awaiting their fate

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Move Lane Move, Flow Lane, Flow

Spring and time for the annual bike lane migration

In a post I consider a master stroke of blog titling,"Bike Lanes from the Far Side," I groused about engineers and/or painters who mixed up the buffer lane with the bike lane to the advantage of no one. Well, that's been remedied for some time now, so here's the documentation of the updated configuration with the cars parked in the buffer and the bike lane out where it can do some good. The same switcheroo was done on the other side, too, although the buffer is narrower, and is less parked in anyway. Which reminded me of this, or this reminded me of that:

Flowering at the edges

This Spring seems to be marked by more wild flowers growing in the cracks. It may be the sporadic and rare rain we've had so far. But they always seem to find a way, those African daisies, to open to the the sun and bees, to show off for cyclists and pedestrians who pause to admire their bold blossoms. Life sometimes is most fecund at the edges, just off the main paths and ways, in between, in zones where others zip by and don't realize the potential.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Family Dynamics: Don't Cross Here

I love what's going on in this photo

I was thinking today as I rode around alone on a warm, sunny April Sunday afternoon, that I couldn't remember a single instance from my childhood when my dad took the family out for a leisurely Sunday afternoon bike ride. It wasn't his thing. He did other things with us, took us out for dinner, shot hoops in the driveway with my friends and I, but no bike rides.

Although bikes weren't his thing, they were clearly mine, looking back. I've owned at least one bike continuously since I was six years old. Cumulatively, I've owned way more bikes than cars. Counting up ones that were exclusively mine, I would put it at twelve bikes, vs. one used car and one new car. Currently, the bikes to cars ratio is infinite, divide by zero error, since I don't own a car that is exclusively mine (should I count the family car as .25 mine?). I didn't realize this bike focus of mine consciously, though, until well into my adulthood, and I wonder if it would have awakened in me much earlier if pops had noticed how much I rode around, and had come up with a weekend family bike ride idea back then. Even though it wasn't his thing.

I wonder if the photo above shows do-gooder daughter following the signage directions while wildcat mom waits for a break in traffic to shoot across. Dad kind of hanging out in the middle to see which way the wind blows.

Daughter follows signage

Then daughter does what mine usually do, which is head off where their will dictates, knowing that the rest will probably follow. Mom, with the child seat between her arms, decides not to frogger through traffic, while dad repositions to follow the family current.

Dad, if they have blogger wherever it is you are now, this was not meant to be critical. Rather, it was a reflection on family dynamics, and looking inward about my own lack of suggesting a leisurely weekend bike ride with the family once in a while. I will offer gelato in the bargain, and they will go for it, I'm certain. Whether or not my kids end up being nebulous bike freaks like their father or not, it's the kind of memory I'd like them to have some day.

For the record, we may be the family that does not use the underpass. We may just cross right there.   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bicycle Parking at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

Mainly daily commuters, I assume. Needed to leave some yellow cards, though.

On a recent transit through Phoenix Sky Harbor and the Sky Train station at 44th Street and Washington, I had a few minutes to have a look at the bicycle parking at this location, and to consider the multiple convenient routes and methods that connect here.

  • Light Rail
  • Phoenix Bus (has bicycle carriers on the front often)
  • Washington Street Bike Lane (straight shot downtown or Tempe)
  • Canal (check your favorite bike route mapping app)
  • Airplane
  • Uber or Lyft (don't know what their bicycle carrying policy might be, though, but may be the best way if your origin or destination happens to be Scottsdale, since public transport from here to there is scarce)
  • Car drop-off (for example in a kiss-and-ride scenario like mine)

The Sky Train appears to be used heavily by crew and airport workers. While I hung out here, I would estimate that twice as many people passing through the station were crew or employees. There were only a handful of passengers passing through on a weeknight. I didn't see anyone get on or off the two Phoenix city buses which came and went (a 1 and a 44).

Nice bike lockers (bring your own lock). Could not find out about overnight or extended usage though. Leave a comment if you know about that.

The Sky Train itself was a pleasure to use, fast, clean, and direct to the center of Terminal 4. It says it also goes to 3 but I didn't ride it that direction so can't vouch. The 44th Street terminal has some great public art to check out, too. It could be nice to lock up in one of the lockers, too, but I could not determine if there's a limit enforced for overnight or extended use, so it may be best to check that out first if you wanted to leave you bike here during a trip.

Only about half the lockers appeared to be occupied when I visited. This set near the full bike rack was full, but another set of four on the other end was nearly empty. Bring your own lock. And I wouldn't recommend flimsy combination padlocks like the ones being used in the photo, either.

Would you consider riding to a flight? Do nice facilities like this encourage that? I think I would feel better about the bike lockers, although, with a solid lock and good technique and an ugly bike, I think one would have a good survival of the fittest chance at the racks. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lookit Humpty Lane

Just not even trying

The bike lane engineers, speed hump engineers, and painters should all get together over coffee for a good clear-headed planning session before they go and do embarrassing stuff like this. In addition to being a part-time bike lane, which in itself sends mixed signals, the cognitive dissonance of a speed bump extending into a bike lane like this is just too much. 

Lookit*: bike lane installed to encourage cyclists such as myself to use the street for fun and transport, generally at a slower speed than vehicle traffic. Speed hump installed much later than bike lane to encourage drivers of vehicles to slow the heck down. Speed hump interfacing with bike lane causes several issues. Bikes don't need to be slowed because they are already slower. Single cyclist who sees hump can go around, but cyclists riding legally two abreast will be challenged. Gap at side of street inevitably encourages drivers to swerve to the right to spare one side of the vehicle the hump. Drivers are not supposed to drive in the bike lane, but how many of those tickets have been issued since the beginning of bike lanes? The hump and the lane painted line should align. The hump should not enter the bike lane. I assume the indent in the middle is for motorcyclists? Is that true? Good for them, although they may have to be on the lookout for drivers swerving to the left to get their left wheel in the indent.

No right turn: signs, barricades, cement forms, and trench. You know a driver will still try.
I'm not sure what newfangled innovation is being installed here. Hopefully, something which helps drivers to see commuting cyclists in daylight, wearing a bright red shirt, cycling at a medium speed, before they ignore the stop sign and drive out into the street turning said cyclist into a speed hump shaped heap laying half in, and half out, of the bike lane.

*What's it called when you just know that a word is sloppy slang but then you check an Oxford English dictionary and find that it's actually legit?   

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We are Whole in Our Brokenness

Clicky pedal. Even the focus is slightly off

Set out on the Sunday morning canal run, and remembered that I had meant to grease the pedals since one of them was making a clicking sound. Went back, greased them up, set out again, clicking sound gone!

Lately, I've been immersing myself in minimalism, tidying, tiny houses, #vanlife, and zero waste books and videos. For example, these incredible Canadians, Exploring Alternatives, and this incredible person trying to live with zero, waste, A Dream Lived Greener. I've read both Marie Kondo books, and can't recommend them highly enough, if you have too much stuff, and you just might. 

I've donated a ton of stuff, and considering how much of that stuff was books, a ton might be fairly accurate. My desk is refreshing in how clear and simple it has become. My drawers actually make me smile when I open them. Space, and order, is good. But I still have a long way to go. I realized that in spite of my tidying and de-junking, I still have the most cubic feet of stuff of any of the occupants of our house. So, onwards.

Part of the spirit of this thing, whatever it is, and wherever it may lead, is maintaining the stuff I do have in good condition, so that it remains useful and capable of sparking joy, as Marie K says. That includes bike stuff. It also means trying not to waste things, trying to use things up before discarding them, and so on. So, I was happy this morning with the small thing of using up the last of my bike grease on the pedals. 

Empty grease tube is a happy grease tube

Pedaling out on a gorgeous Spring morning on a silent bicycle is a pleasure in itself. Unfortunately, about 30% of the way through the ride, the pedal began quietly clicking again, which means that fresh grease is not enough, and I will have to rebuild it. Which is okay, since I have parts, and even a spare set of rebuilt pedals standing by, so no biggy. But, it did remind me that things wear out eventually. Parts break and wear. That goes for human parts, too, of course, and if you get right down to it, is the eventual fate of everything and everyone. Whole, smooth, quiet, fast, clean functioning is not the normal ground state in our entropic universe. Eventually, dust to dust, and all that.

These themes converged in this bicycle

These themes converged in this bicycle: minimalism, brokenness, life on the road, reducing to the bare minimum, existence at or within the edges. Kind of summed it all for me in one quick, hard hit.

In the end

In the end, at the spot along the canal where I sprint to challenge my heart and remember how many of my male ancestors passed away by heart attack, I saw these lovely creatures paddling behind mama in the canal. A scene of consummate beauty, to be sure, but also one of brokenness and concern for me. Because I know that within two weeks, the little ones will be gone. I don't know where they go. I don't know if predators take them, or canal boffins manage them, or if people take them early in the morning to raise them, I don't know. But I do know from experience that within two weeks, they'll be gone. That's OK, it's the way of the canal. In this morning, on this ride, at this moment, I loved to see them. As me and my clicky pedal rode past them as hard as I could, I had the passing strong and deep feeling, that I am whole with them in our shared brokenness.