Archive for May 15th, 2008

Fight the Evildoers

Riding your bike is an act of defiance. We say we are dependant on petroleum. Instead of waiting for a solution to come down to us, why don’t we take our destiny into our own hands? Yes, it means sacrifice. You get sweaty. You have to deal with motorists who think that, if it isn’t a car, it doesn’t count. But if you can find a way to ride your bike just one or two times a week instead of taking the car, that will have a much greater impact than signing a thousand petitions and walking in a hundred protest marches.
This morning on “Today” they had Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil. As you may already be aware, ExxonMobil is one of, if not the, most profitable company on Earth. They raise the cost of gasoline, post record profits, and make no claims of doing wrong. It’s simple: the demand is there, and they figure they can squeeze more money out of the American people before we all buy electric cars and they become superfluous. Yet to hear this plain-spoken Texan, you’d think he was running a mom-and-pop gas station just off Route 101. Matt Lauer, to his credit, asked prodding questions, but Tillerson brushed them aside. Flies on the windshield. I’ll post this picture of Tillerson so you can give him the finger.tillersonAfter you’re done being angry at these companies who scorn their own customers, get on your bike, go for a walk, take a streetcar or other electric form of public transportation. If you can’t exercise your American right to choose, the terrorists have already won.
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History of Bikes: Silver Stallion

I had to get the previous post off my proverbial chest. I feel much, much better now. Now we can move on to the next of my series of bike posts, my college bike.
When I first got to college, I walked everywhere. I was a putz, a lowlife, a nobody. I was a freshman (or, in politically-correct speak, “first-year”). Those dark days ended when the Bike Co-op held their annual fall bike sale. The Bike Co-op was run entirely by students. They were located in the basement of a residence hall, and they had a proper bike repair shop as well as rooms for bikes. All you had to do was search around and you could find some real treasures for sale. The bikes they sold were refurbished, meaning you could probably ride them from your dorm to your class without all the gears falling off. The bonus was, if you joined the co-op, you had yearlong access to repair equipment. I ended up spending some time in that dark basement.
Back to the fall bike sale. I searched around and found a silver road bike for $25. It was spray-painted silver; I found out what boring color it had been before. I called it the Silver Stallion, which partly explains why I like that Cat Power song so much.
My life improved 1000% on that day. I could get everywhere quicker, meaning I could sleep a little longer in the morning and extend my afternoon naps in the library. I could explore the town, as well. My little college suddenly became a part of a greater world. I spent my first summer working at the school and took bike rides in the evenings.
In later years I didn’t stay at the college during the summer but I made sure to keep my bike somewhere safe. Sure enough, it was always there for me in the fall. It’s funny; I bought a cheap bike so I wouldn’t worry about it getting stolen, but I spent a lot of time and effort making sure I held onto it for all four years.
I’m kind of sad I didn’t take any pictures of my bike. By my senior year it was partly held together by duct tape. The handlebar pads were cracked and falling off, so I just wrapped some tape around them to give myself some sort of padding. The tape slowly unwound and looked really cool blowing in the wind as I rode. I also taped up the seat, as it was crumbling at a steady rate. Fortunately the duct tape matched the color of the bike. Yeah, I was pretty image-conscious.
I did sketch my bike quite a bit. On warm nights I’d sit beside where it was locked and draw in my sketchbook. I tried to restrain myself from patting it as you would a horse. The shapes I drew from that bike probably influence the way I draw my robots today.
The day before I graduated I donated Silver Stallion back to the Bike Co-op. My brother and I walked it back to where I had bought it four years previously. The Co-op had already closed for the year. There were rows of bikes chained together outside, waiting to be fixed up for next year’s batch of freshpersons (from the original Latin phrase meaning, “people who are fresh”). I leaned my bike against one of the rows. I stepped back and looked at it among its kind. It seemed so natural there and I knew this was the right thing to do. I couldn’t take it with me; where I was going, a college bike would not fare well. This was its home.
I didn’t cry for it then, but I think of it from time to time when I see someone riding a really crappy bike. I wonder if it is still being used, or if it was stripped down and used to repair future bikes. It’s the circle of life.
Next: the return of an old friend!

everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my friday robots

As the Bard John Lennon said, “The higher you fly, the deeper you go, so come on.”friday-robots-5-16-08

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