Friday, October 16, 2009

Give me more. Fog, cement and readings.

Today when I got home from work I fed my cat and headed back downstairs to grab my frenchie. Out Out is all I could think.
Riding around the city is all I can think about when I'm at work. Like the city skyline is calling my name and pulls me by a rope to join the masochist society and ride those hills up, down, back around.
The structure of the streets, tunnels, bridges and hills spin my personal perspective widening it every year . As I become a wiser cyclist (you can never be so used to hills, you know..) and an even bigger wanderluster, my focus this month is cement.
Cement on bridges, cement and pavement smoothly re-done on bike lanes - or lack thereof, oil spills, smooth sidewalks for pedestrians and the inevitable steep hills with all the fall leaves colorfully soothing the eyes with that brownish red taste that looks so rad in contrast with the fog.
I look over the north-east end of the city and the fog is wait, that isn't fog, that is a steam-like cloud sitting atop the bay water. Ladies and gentleman, we are now floating in space.

I have been reading about cement structures with the recent 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Here is a nice piece I found about Moses, david vs.goliath case, and the oppositions to freeways in the teh NYC:
•Removing Freeways - Restoring Cities.

The bicycle, and cities, and we, as residents of the world. It is something that we are all already contributing to, step by step, towards a better end. That is a good step forward.
It will happen.
In the meantime I will take the longer route to hit an extra coffee shop and maybe meet some cute guy along the way. Or a new bikey friend. Cheers /xo♥m

Have you read any essay, article book, that has taken you out of the pages and not only because of the bicycle, but as a citizen, human and vehicle for well-being pushed you to think more about certain aspects of your daily life? or perhaps triggered further reading in a specific topic (cement?!?? -what)


  1. The Man Who Loved Bicycles; Daniel Behrman. Really lovely little bit of writing:

    ". . .that is how I have done this writing: I get on my bike and I get mad. This piece is written as much in passion as in reason. I am an old hand at science writing, I know how to check a fact to a frazzle and weasel my words to the satisfaction of the most worrisome source. But not this time, for once let the burden of proof be on the other side."

    The Geography of Nowhere; James Howard Kunstler:

    "Born in 1948, I have lived my entire life in America’s high imperial moment. During this epoch of stupendous wealth and power, we have managed to ruin our greatest cities, throw away our small towns, and impose over the countryside a joyless junk habitat which we can no longer afford to support. Indulging in a fetish of commercialized individualism, we did away with the public realm, and with nothing left but private life in our private homes and private cars, we wonder what happened to the spirit of community. We created a landscape of scary places and became a nation of scary people."

    There is nothing in this book that I didn't really know already (I've lived in Levittown and currently live a bike ride away from Schylerville; and James for that matter), but it is of value to have it all neatly laid out.

    Life Without Principle; Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau on fire. The Transcendentalist red pill:

    "As the time is short, I will leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism."

    The Underground History of American Education; John Taylor Gatto. Another perspective on how and why things have gone so wrong.

    "Our problem in understanding forced schooling stems from an inconvenient fact: that the wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a systems perspective."

    Again, nothing in here I didn't really already know (I was home schooled starting in '69 and actually had to flee the country for several months while the legal battle over it raged), but again, good to have it all laid out. A very well researched book by a NY State Teacher of the Year.

    My materials book of choice - A Reverence for Wood; Eric Sloane:

    And what to do with that wood - Your Engineered House; Rex Roberts. Dated but still sound in principle:

    "This book will examine our expenditures for shelter. I believe that most of us are getting about half as much as we should for every dollar spent. This makes me angry, but I have no one to be angry with except myself."

    This is not a dry technical manual. It's very readable, with lots of hand drawn diagrams to illustrate his points. Agree with him or disagree, but you'll never look at a house the same way again.

  2. The better question is where to start...

    though, for me I find that my life experience is what teaches me most, and my reading of books, listening to music, etc does more to confirm what I've learned than to teach me.

    Some great things I've read lately though are Energy and Equity by Ivan Illych, 1984 by George Orwell, the Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, various articles on Russian History, various articles on U.S. History, especially during the time just after WWII (look for project MK-ULTRA), it may sound cliche, but looking at the life of Christ has encouraged much thinking and re-arranging of life, and a lot of stuff about food, how we eat, and what is done to our food. It's funny how you can learn life lessons from cooking, or riding a bike, or growing things.

  3. I lived in an apartment under the Central Freeway when it was being demolished after the '89 Loma Prieta quake. The choice was to create Octavia Blvd.- 6 lanes of street level traffic with median, with parallel side streets for the community and cyclists, separated from main traffic by wide planted medians.
    It was odd living under the freeway, but it was quiet, and you could always cross the street. There wasn't much traffic and there were a lot of people walking around. Now, there is as much, if not more, car traffic on Octavia, as there was on the freeway. All of it at ground level. You can't hear yourself think and even with the lights, I find it hard to cross the street safely.
    The street is certainly prettier than it was with all of the trees and the mini park that was built at the end of the street (the best part of the whole thing, IMO), but, I am not sure that the people who live on Octavia Blvd were given anything that much better. I don't live there now, so I can only guess.

    As to reading... I used to read so much. Now, I read when I can and currently I am reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and what I am getting from that is a good time: )

  4. kfg /thanks for all the links - and info!

    portlandize/ that is a ggreat point, often times books trigger curiosities and thoughts that can't really be described in a book's content. What makes one think and questions things is to me, wha tmakes a pleasant, informative piece for reading. Thanks for your comment and book titles.

    ade/ That octavia area is one loud ballet of craziness. I agree it does look very pretty, but one false step, or a pedestrian or driver looking down at their phone and it is lethal. Throw some bicycles and yes, the lovely park and art pieces and you got the whole opera in the octavia park. Beauty, tragedy and the city.

  5. "Ladies and gentleman, we are now floating in space." We seem to do a lot of that here in our City, don;t we : )

  6. oh yes. & it is this como one looping in my head <3