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Month: April 2007 Page 1 of 3

pictures from the scene

Weary hosesI posted a photo set from the Georgetown Public Library fire on my Flickr page.

There were a lot of people from the community standing watch over the scene. There was optimism that things could be salvaged (especially archival documents and articles that resided in the Peabody Room), but the neighborhood felt an obvious pain.

Like I said: two fires at two historic DC buildings is two too many – for any day.

enough with the fires already

I woke up this morning to hear that DC’s historic Eastern Market suffered a devastating fire early this morning. The three-alarm blaze caused over $40 million in damage, displaced almost a dozen family-owned-and-operated food merchants, and upended one of the more unique neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. The mayor insists that the building will be restored, and that he’ll find a place for the merchants to conduct business during the interim. But I still worry that the fire may put many out of business.

Now I read about a fire at the Georgetown Public Library, which is currently undergoing renovation. I rode past said library this morning on my usual commute to work, and nothing was amiss. Since then, the fire has been deemed a two-alarm blaze, and firefighters are racing against raging winds to rescue historic documents and paintings from the building.

Two historic structures brought to their proverbial knees by fire in this small city within a 12-hour period is more than enough, thank you.

workout log: 29 april 2007

Activity: road cycling
Location: Front Royal, VA > Luray, VA > Front Royal, VA
Distance: 84.0 miles (very hilly)
Duration: 4:55
Weather: partly sunny, 57-74 degrees
Avg HR: 161 (max 185)
Type: aerobic

An impromptu ride of “SkyMass” (Skyline Drive plus the climb to Massanutten) with some PPTC friends. It has almost 9,000 vertical feet of climbing over the 84 mile distance, and half of that comes in the first 22 miles. It’s a leg burner, but the views are something else. Like a dimwit, I forgot my camera – next time, I’ll take pics. The top of Skyline Drive (in Shenandoah Nat’l Park) is still in the early stages of spring, and was refreshingly cool. The climb to Massanutten almost beat me (it has some 11-percent grade stretches, which are tough coming 48 miles into the ride), but I did just fine. Aside from Massanutten (all 2.1 miles of it) I rode strong all day, and Wolfgang and I pulled a 25 mph average over the last 23 miles of the ride – pretty darn good for a two-man shift.

shortest ride this year

This is decidedly not a workout log.

Perhaps it was a bad sign when a cardinal did a suicide dive into my car on the way to Poolesville.

Or perhaps the cardinal was getting back at me for being an accomplice in ending its life.

My ride today lasted all of 94 feet. At that point, I’d parked my bike in a rack to use the loo.

A wind gust blew it over and torqued the front wheel into unusable condition. Granted, the front rim needs replacement (the sidewalls are getting mighty thin), but this isn’t how I wanted to force the issue.

So a new wheel is needed by end-of-day today. I’m gonna ride SkyMass tomorrow, for sure.

(Sorry, dear avian friend.)

happy arbor day!

Yup – my favorite holiday is here!

Whee!

So go admire a tree!

naïve politicians

Want proof of a naïve voting populace? Look no further than the zany antics of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who resorts to non-creative name calling about western politicians who speak truth to power.

Yup – Shurtleff still buys into the beat-to-death and entirely untrue argument connecting Iraq, 9/11 and Al-Qaida. He beats on a tired, worn-out drum, and look like a fool doing so. Let’s face it: he’s no Rocky Anderson in terms of conviction, and this silly lip-flapping exercise was completely out-of-character for an AG who isn’t known for taking a stand on anything.

So when he does take a stand, he looks like an out-of-touch dimwit. He doesn’t get what Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) says in his latest campaign ad: “stubborn is not a good foreign policy.”

Even the people of Utah – the “reddest” state in the union – aren’t buying the “Iraq war is good” mantra that BushCo has been trying to force-feed to the people since 2001.

And a major tip ‘o the hat to the BYU students and other Utahns who protested Vice President Cheney’s commencement speech at the private LDS university. Thank you, dear protesters, for showing that there are free-thinking people behind the “Zion Curtain” – and showing that their numbers are growing.

I can’t wait for 2008….

workout log: 24 april 2007

Activity: road cycling
Location: Dupont Circle > Avenel, MD > Dupont Circle
Distance: 27.3 miles (moderately hilly)
Duration: 1:31
Weather: partly sunny, 80 degrees
Avg HR: 153 (max 182)
Type: aerobic

PPTC “Downtown Breakaway” ride. Good group tonight, with lots of riders running the gamut from AA to B. I ended up with the fast AA group once we hit the Mountain Gate hill: five of us broke away on the hill, and we rode a fast pace the rest of the way back to Mitchell Park.

do not adjust your set

Due to some domain name issues that cropped up unannounced (more to come on that in a future post), the site has been in a state of limbo since early this morning. I managed to wrestle my way in to post this note.

Things should be back to normal by Wednesday morning.

random monday quip

It’s amazing what selective word choice can do to a statement.

Witness this nugget from White House spokesperson, Dana Perino, during this press conference today:

The president’s record on climate change is very strong.

Sure, his record is strong – in terms of accelerating climate change.

I guess it’s some form of a strong record, but it’s nothing I would gloat about when global warming has likely passed a tipping point.

a modest earth day proposal

While Earth Day is in its waning moments, I’d like to reflect on a dangerous and misguided addiction in the United States: we’re too in love with our cars.

Face it: most of you reading this blog use a car more often than you should. You take it a mile down the road to buy a small load of groceries, or you drive to work on the same route that a municipal bus or train takes. And your car is usually a solo-occupant machine, regardless of the size.

If you lived in Europe, chances are you wouldn’t drive as much – in fact, you may not even own a car. You use mass transit, a bike, or walk for most of your needs. And this is no surprise: heavy rail, light rail and bus networks are well-developed and well-maintained; bike lanes and parking are plentiful and available nearly everywhere; and it’s far more affordable to use the public transit or bike to get from point A to point B.

So here’s my modest proposal to all jurisdictions in the United States:

Over a three-week period:

  • Raise gas (petrol) prices to a minimum of $6 per gallon for the duration of the trial period.
  • Charge access tolls for major inner city areas like they do in central London.
  • Increase numbers and frequency of trains on subway and light rail systems.
  • Do the same for buses.
  • Make transfers between mass transit systems more seamless (or free).
  • On roads with two or more lanes, dedicate one lane to bicycles and buses (and enforce the rule).

Basically, it’s time that Americans got real about reshaping transportation philosophy and habits. And one of the most effective ways to do this would be to have all people who drive get a taste of how “the other half” lives. A three-week trial balloon will force most regular drivers to fill up at least once at rates that are comparable to those in Europe.

The United States fell victim to post-war gluttony – in the form of cheap gasoline, which led to sprawl, inefficient and overly-large cars, and the destruction of legacy rail lines. From the 1960s to the 1980s, entire neighborhoods were designed without sidewalks, so pervasive was the car culture. And bikes – at one time a legitimate form of transit, a utility tool – were relegated to the role of either a child’s toy or an adult’s fitness fetish item, meant to be hauled on a car to a place of recreation.

As Joni Mitchell once wrote, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

And my guess is that people will gain a new appreciation for public transit, railways, and bicycles. And for those who find such systems inadequate for their needs, perhaps they’ll get motivated and do something to improve the situation. Local leaders in Fairfax, VA, did just that recently, and the basic fact is: local leaders can, and will, listen.

All that’s needed is for people to speak up and think outside of the petroleum-powered box.

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